JS, Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to , , , , and others, [, Clay Co.], MO, 16 Aug. 1834. Retained copy, [ca. 16 Aug. 1834], in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 84–87; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 1.
On 16 August 1834, JS wrote this letter to church leaders in , discussing how the Saints could redeem , or regain their lands. The expedition, led by JS a few months earlier, had been unable to restore the Saints to their property, and negotiations between Jackson County residents and church members had also come to naught. explained in a 1 August 1834 letter to Missouri governor that tensions remained high in western Missouri. Phelps related that sometime in summer 1834, one church member had crossed into Jackson County to collect a debt and had been brutally attacked. According to Phelps, the attackers had sworn “to killeveryMormon that came into Jackson County.” Therefore the prospect for the Saints reentering the county remained dim.
JS’s letter, however, instructed church leaders to continue to take measures to regain their land. He directed them to correspond with and president Andrew Jackson to try to obtain military protection from the mobs. Some church leaders in Missouri—designated as “first elders” in the letter—had been assigned by JS and a council of to travel to , Ohio, to receive an of power, but they were also instructed to try to generate sympathy for the Saints’ plight by preaching on their way to Kirtland. In addition, JS instructed to be prepared to take a “little army” into Jackson County if the need arose. On 25 June 1834, JS pledged that the Camp of Israel would be disbanded, but he left open the possibility that it could be reassembled if negotiations between church members and Jackson County citizens were not successful. Since negotiations seemed to be going nowhere, JS counseled Wight to be ready to call up his army, especially if residents of started to turn against the Saints. Finally, JS set the date for the redemption of Zion as 11 September 1836, a little more than two years away. This date was almost certainly derived from an 11 September 1831 revelation that stated that God would “retain a strong hold in the Land of Kirtland for the space of five years,” after which he would “not hold any guilty that shall go with open hearts up to the Land of Zion.”
In addition to giving instructions about redeeming Zion, JS mentioned the trouble he had encountered when and others accused him of committing improprieties as the leader of the Camp of Israel. An 11 August 1834 council cleared JS of any wrongdoing, and he expressed his hope that this incident was behind him so he could focus on other matters. JS also discussed the cholera epidemic that continued to rage in the and which had affected some church members, including members of the Camp of Israel. He concluded by lamenting the “languid cold disconsolate state” of the church.
The original of JS’s letter—which was addressed to , , , , and the —has not been located. copied it into JS’s letterbook, probably shortly before the letter was sent. At a 10 September 1834 meeting of the Missouri high council, read this letter aloud, along with a petition he had composed in accordance with JS’s instructions in the letter.
JS apparently gave this assignment to Wight before he left Missouri. A 12 July 1834 meeting of the Missouri high council referred to the “mission appointed” to Wight “by the seer” and assigned Amasa Lyman to go with Wight “to ascertain the strength of the Lord’s house.” According to Amasa Lyman’s journal, this meant visiting those who had been driven from Jackson County and determining how many Saints lived in “this land”—probably meaning either Clay County specifically or Missouri generally. (Minute Book 2, 12 July 1834; Lyman, Journal, 12 July 1834.)
able to regulate my mind so as to write to give you council and the information that you needed, but that God who rules on high and thunders Judgments upon Israel when they transgress has given me power from the time that I was born (into this Kingdom) to stand and I have succeeded in putting all gainsayers and enemies to flight unto the present time and not withstanding the advisary Laid a plan which was more subtle than all others, I now swim in good cleanpure water with my head out! as you will see by the next star
I shall now procede to give you such council as the spirit of the Lord may dictate you will reccollect that your business must be done by your : you will recollect that the are to receive their in before the redemption of you will reccollect that your high council will have power to say who of the first Elders among the Children of Zion are accounted worthy; and you will also reccollect that you have my testamony in be half of certain ones previously to my departure you will reccollect that the sooner that these ambassadors of the most high are dispatched to bear testamony to lift up a warning voice and to proclaim the everlasting gospel and to use every convincing proof and facculty with this generation while on their Journey. <to *> <*The better it shall be for them and for Zion inasmuch as the indignation of the people sleepeth for a while our time should be employed to the best advantage altho it is not the will of God that any one of these ambassador should hold their peace afte[r] they have startd upon their Journey.> They should awaken <the> sympathy of the people. I would reccommend to brother (If he is yet there) to write a petition such as will be approved of by the high council and let there be every signer obtained that can be in the State of and while they are on their Journey to this country that paradventure we may learn [p. 85]
A council held on 11 August 1834 assigned Oliver Cowdery, Thomas Burdick, and Orson Hyde to compose an article stating that the council had found that JS had “acted in every respect in an honorable and proper Manner, with all monies and other properties entrusted to his charge.” This article was presented to another council on 23 August and took the form of a preamble and three resolutions. When it was published in the August 1834 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star, it also contained a statement signed by fifteen individuals who affirmed their satisfaction with the investigation, as well as a declaration signed by Lyman Johnson and Heber C. Kimball that stated they agreed with the resolutions’ depiction of JS’s conduct on the expedition. (Minutes, 11 Aug. 1834; Minutes, 23 Aug. 1834; Resolutions, ca. 23 Aug. 1834; “Conference Minutes,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Aug. 1834, 182.)
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
A June 1834 revelation declared that God’s elders needed to “wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion.” The redemption would not happen until the elders were “endowed with power from on high.” The revelation continued that JS was the one who would choose “by the voice of the Spirit” those who would receive the endowment. On 23 June 1834, “a council of High Priests,” including JS, chose “some of the first Elders.” There are no extant instructions about the duty of the Missourihigh council to choose others to go to Kirtland, but JS’s statement here suggests that he had provided such direction to the high council. (Revelation, 22 June 1834 [D&C 105:9–11, 35–36]; Minutes, 23 June 1834; see also Minutes and Discourse, ca. 7 July 1834; and Minute Book 2, 6–7 Aug. 1834.)
A June 1834 revelation stated that God would “give unto” the Saints “favor and grace” in the eyes of the people in western Missouri so that church members could “rest in peace and safety, whilst [they] are saying unto the people execute judgment Justice for us according to law, and redress us of our wrongs.” (Revelation, 22 June 1834 [D&C 105:25].)