Times and Seasons (, Hancock Co., IL), 15 Sept. 1842, vol. 3, no. 22, pp. 911–926; edited by JS. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
JS served as editor for the 15 September 1842 issue, the twenty-second issue in the third volume, of the Times and Seasons, a newspaper published in , Illinois. He was assisted in his editorial responsibilities by and . Together, these three men produced the semimonthly newspaper, including composing its editorial material. While the extent to which JS was involved in the creation and publication of this issue is unclear, as the newspaper’s editor he was responsible for its content.
The 15 September 1842 issue contained both non-editorial and editorial material. Non-editorial content in the issue included an installment of the “History of Joseph Smith,” a description of Mount Sinai from an English clergyman, an extract of a letter from on the desire of many converts in to immigrate to , and a letter from the “to all the Saints in Nauvoo.” In addition, the issue contained a notice that a concordance of scripture and writings about the church’s ecclesiastical history published by in was available; a reprinting of a letter from church member William Rowley reporting on his missionary efforts in , England; a reprinting of an article in the Antigua Herald on an earthquake on the Caribbean island of Antigua; a brief letter to the editor from and ; and a notice that copies of hymnbooks and of the Book of Mormon were available for purchase.
The issue’s editorial content, featured here with introductions to each passage of text for which JS was ultimately responsible, included commentary on the Book of Mormon in light of recent archaeological discoveries, reflections on the risks of philosophizing about religious matters, a condemnation of the way government officials condoned the expulsion of church members from in 1838, and a report of a recent discourse delivered by to church members in . The issue also included editorials encouraging church members living outside the city to send donations to facilitate the construction of the Nauvoo temple, urging traveling elders to arrange for the free delivery of the Times and Seasons and the Wasp through the postal service, and insisting that JS was consistent in condemning vice and promoting virtue.
Note that only the editorial content created specifically for this issue of the Times and Seasons is annotated here. Articles reprinted from other papers, letters, conference minutes, and notices, are reproduced here but not annotated. Items that are stand-alone JS documents are annotated elsewhere; links are provided to these stand-alone documents.
dwelling on this continent, according to the account in the Book of Mormon, is developing itself in a more satisfactory way than the most sanguine believer in that revelation, could have anticipated. It certainly affords us a gratification that the world of mankind does not enjoy, to give publicity to such important developements of the remains and ruins of those mighty people.
When we read in the Book of Mormon that Jared and his brother came on to this continent from the confusion and scattering at the Tower, and lived here more than a thousand years, and covered the whole continent from sea to sea, with towns and cities; and that Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien, and improved the country according to the word of the Lord, as a branch of the house of Israel, and then read such a goodly traditionary account, as the one below, we can not but think the Lord has a hand in bringing to pass his strange act, and proving the Book of Mormon true in the eyes of all the people. The extract below, comes as near the real fact, as the four Evangelists do to the crucifixion of Jesus.—Surely “facts are stubborn things.” It will be as it ever has been, the world will prove Joseph Smith a true prophet by circumstantial evidence, in experiments, as they did Moses and Elijah. Now read Stephens’ story:
“According to Fuentes, the chronicler of the kingdom of Guatumala, the kings of Quinche and Cachiquel were descended from the Toltecan Indians, who, when they came into this country, found it already inhabited by people of different nations. According to the manuscripts of Don Juan Torres, the grandson of the last king of the Quiches, which was in the possession of the lieutenant general appointed by Pedro de Alvarado, and which Fuentes says he obtained by means of Father Francis Vasques, the historian of the order of San Francis, the Toltecas themselves descended from the house of Israel, who were released by Moses from the tyranny of Pharaoh, and after crossing the Red Sea, fell into Idolatry. To avoid the reproofs of Moses, or from fear of his inflicting upon them some chastisement, they separated from him and his brethren, and under the guidance of Tanub, their chief, passed from one continent to the other, to a place which they called the seven caverns, a part of the kingdom of Mexico, where they founded the celebrated city of Tula.”
The issue also contained an editorial selection, titled “Elder Rigdon, &c.,” describing public remarks made by on 21 August 1842 in the of trees near the . Rigdon recounted the recent healing of his sixteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, an event during which she reportedly delivered messages from God to members of her family and prophesied of the fate of two prominent dissenters from the : Rigdon’s son-in-law, , and , a former counselor in the . According to this selection, Rigdon also used the occasion to publicly refute rumors that he had denied his testimony of JS and the church. Recent events—including an alleged marriage proposal by JS to Rigdon’s daughter and JS’s claims that the Nauvoo post office, directed by Rigdon and Robinson, was corrupt—had strained Rigdon’s relationship with JS. On 1 July 1842, Rigdon wrote to JS asking if they could meet to settle the difficulties between them. It is unclear whether such a meeting occurred in the days following JS’s receipt of that letter.
On one of the last Sabbath’s in August, made his appearance on the , and though he was somewhat emaciated from ill health, brought upon him by the malignant persecutions of , yet to behold an old veteran in the cause of our Redeemer, rise to address a congregation of the saints, was at once animating.—That face, from whence eloquence once flowed copiously, made a welcome appearance, in its place among the heads of Israel.—He was not upon the to renounce his faith in Mormonism, as had been variously stated by enemies and licentious presses, but appeared to bear his testimony of its truth, and add another to the many miraculous evidences of the power of God. Neither did he rise to deliver any regular discourse, but to unfold unto the audience a scene of deep interest, which had occurred in his own family. He had witnessed many instances of the power of God, in this , but never before had he seen the dead raised: yet, this was a thing that had actually taken place in his own family: his daughter Eliza[beth Rigdon] was dead;—the doctor told him that she was gone, when, after a certain length of time she rose up in the bed and spoke in a very powerful tone to the following effect, in a supernataral manner:—and said to the family that she was going to leave them, being impressed with the idea herself, that she had only come back to deliver her message, and then depart again:—saying the Lord had said to her the very words she should relate,—and so particular was she in her relation, that she would not suffer any person to leave out a word, or add one. She called the family around her and bade them all farewell, with a composure and calmness that defies all description:—still impressed with the idea that she was to go back. Up to the time of her death, she expressed a great unwillingness to die, but after her return, she expressed equally as strong a desire to go back. She said to her elder sister, , it is in your heart to deny this work, and if you do, the Lord says it will be the damnation to your soul. In speaking to her sister Sarah [Rigdon], she said, Sarah, we have but once to die, and I would rather die now than wait for another time. She said to her sisters, that the Lord had great blessings in store for them, if they continued in the faith; and after delivering her message she swooned but recovered again. During this time she was cold as when laid in the grave, and all the appearance of life, was the power of speech. She thus continued till the following evening, for the space of thirty six hours:—at which she called her unto her bed and said to him, that the Lord had said to her, if he would cease weeping for his sick daughter, and [p. 922]
The Isthmus of Darien was another name for the Isthmus of Panama. The name derived from Scotland’s attempt in the 1690s to establish a colony on the isthmus. (Devine, Scotland’s Empire, xxvii, 3–4, 39–50.)
Devine, T. M. Scotland’s Empire: The Origins of the Global Diaspora. London: Penguin Books, 2004.
In his defense of the soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre of 1770, John Adams stated, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” Accordingly, the phrase “facts are stubborn things” appears to have served as a shortened version of this proverbial wisdom intended to invoke the rest of the well-known statement. (John Adams, Argument for the Defense, 3–4 Dec. 1770, in Wroth and Zobel, Legal Papers of John Adams, 3:270.)
Wroth, Kinvin, and Hiller B. Zobel, eds. Legal Papers of John Adams, Vol. 3, Cases 63 and 64: The Boston Massacre Trials. Vol. 3 of the Legal Papers series of The Adams Papers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965.
In the aftermath of the conflict that led to the expulsion of church members from Missouri, Rigdon became ill with what appears to have been malaria. The effects of this illness limited his activity for several years. According to a history of Rigdon’s life written by his son John, Rigdon “was sick most of the time while he remained at Nauvoo[.] for weeks at a time he would not be able to leave his bed he was therefor not able to take a Verry active part in the management of the Morman church Some times he would be able to be around and at such times he would on Sundays preach to the people.” (Rigdon, “Life Story of Sidney Rigdon,” 161.)
Rigdon, John Wickliff. “Life Story of Sidney Rigdon,” no date. CHL. MS 3451.
Rigdon’s peers celebrated him as a particularly gifted orator. For instance, in 1838 American writer Edmund Flagg described Rigdon as having “a full face of fire, a fine tenour voice, and a mild and persuasive eloquence of speech.” Similarly, Rigdon’s friend Amos S. Hayden recalled decades later that Rigdon’s language was “copious, fluent in utterance, with articulation clear and musical.” In 1839 JS lamented not having Rigdon with him in Washington DC, as Rigdon’s oratory skills would have greatly aided him and Elias Higbee in their meetings with President Martin Van Buren and the congressional delegation from Illinois. ([Flagg], Far West, 2:113; Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, 192; Letter to Hyrum Smith and Nauvoo High Council, 5 Dec. 1839.)
[Flagg, Edmund]. The Far West; or, A Tour beyond the Mountains. Embracing Outlines of Western Life and Scenery; Sketches of the Prairies, Rivers, Ancient Mounds, Early Settlements of the French, Etc., Etc. 2 vols. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1838.
Hayden, Amos Sutton. Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio; with Biographical Sketches of the Principal Agents in Their Religious Movement. Cincinnati: Chase and Hall, 1875.
Rumors of Rigdon’s disaffection from JS and the church appeared in several Illinois newspapers, including in several articles and letters published in the Sangamo Journal. (See, for example, “The Mormons,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 1 July 1842, .)