Letter from Elias Higbee, 22 February 1840

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Feb 22d. 1840
Dear Brother
I have just returned from the committee room; the committee being present to day, a Mr. Corwin of , formerly a democratick editor, emtied his budget: which was as great a bundle of nonsense and stuff, as could be thought of; I suppose not what he knew but what gentlemen had told him, for— instance the religious & others. I confess I had hard work to restrain my feelings some of the time; but I did succeed in keeping silence—tolerably well. Himself & summoned all the energies of their mind to impress upon the assembly, that Jo. Smith as he called him, led the people altogether by revelation, in their [p. 111] temporal, civil & political matters, and by this means caused all the Mormons to vote the whole hog ticket on one side, except two persons: but when I got an opportunity of speaking, I observed that Joseph Smith never led any of the in these matters; as we considered him to have no authority, neither did he presume to exercise any, of that nature; that revelations were only concerning spiritual things in the Church, and the Bible being our standard we received no revelations contrary to it. I also observed that we were not such ignoramuses as perhaps as he fain would have people believe us to be, and some other things on this subject. I then told him that every man exercised the right of suffrage according to his better judgment, or without any ecclesiasticle restraint being put upon him; that it was all false about a revelation v on voting: And the reason of our voting that ticket, was, in consequence of the democratick principles having been taught us in <​from​> our infancy; That <​they​> ever believed & extended equal rights to all; and that we had been much persecuted previous to that time, many threatenings being made from the Counties round about, as well as among us, who took the lead in political affairs. It was <​true​> we advised our brethren to vote this ticket, telling them we thought that party would protect our rights, and not suffer us to be driven from our lands, as we had hitherto been; believing it to be far the most liberal party; but in that we were mistaken because when it came to the test, there were as many democrats turned against us, as whigs; and indeed less liberality and political freedom was manifested by them, for one whig Paper came out decidedly in our favor. I made these remarks partly from motives, which I may, at another time, explain to you. He laid great stress on the trials at , and a constitution, that he said and others had soon to (who were in good standing in the Mormon <​Church​> at this time) swore to: [p. 112] then went on to relate what it contained, and that it was written by . I flatly denied it flatly saying that no such ever existed, nor was thought of among the Mormons; And I could bring all the Mormons, both men, women & children; besides myself that would swear before all the world, no such th<​i​>ng ever existed among the mormons. He then related some things which he said had told him at the Legislature, in ; which were to the effect, that the Mormons had burnt a number of houses in , and that for himself, if he could not get to Heaven by being an honest man, he would never go there; then, I, speaking of some of the— dissenters told him, was anxious to get in the Church again; and that it was the fact in— regard to damages having been done, after we had been driven from & , relating the Scrape, and calling of the militia, and the mob’s marching to , and saying they would drive the Mormons from there to , then to hell; their burning our houses; that small parties on both sides were on the alert, and probably done some damages; though I was not personally knowing to as I was not there. I told him Joseph <​Smith held no​> no office in the country, neither was he a military man, and did not take gun in hand in the affair to my knowledge— I then stated that ’s affidavit, which contained some important facts was before them, which facts, I forgot to mention yesterday, importing that he () was convinced we would get no redress in , (he being a member of the Legislature ought to know) I saw the chairman of the committee not long since, who informed me the committee had not come to a final conclusion on this matter as yet. I saw on the walk, who said the first things the committee would do, was to decide whether they would take it up and consider it or not, and if they do [p. 113] take it up according to request, the committee will Senate will grant the committee power to send for persons & papers. The committee made some enquiries, respecting our religion, and I answered them, as a matter of course as well as I could. They enquired very particularly, concerning how much land we had entered there, and how much of it, yet remained unsold; when Mr.Corwin observed that we had never entered much Land there, but were squatters. I then described the size of & Counties, giving an explanation on these matters. I suppose, perhaps on monday or tuesday we shall know something relative to this matter; whether power be given them to send for persons & papers. You may see where they depend to rally their forces, viz, by endeavouring to make us treasonable characters, by the constitution, Sd. to govern us, and that every thing both civil & Political, among us is done by revelation. These points I desire to blow to the four winds, and that you will select a number of firm Bretheren, possessing good understanding; who will tell the truth, and willingly send me their names, when they know they are wanted. Send plenty of them, They will get two dollars per day, and ten cents a mile to and from, expence money. Do not send them untill their subpena’s get there, for they will not draw expence money only for going home
I will suggest af few names—
, , as, they know concerning the scrape, also send others , & others. You will know whom to send better than myself. If the Missourians should send for you, I would say consult God about going
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P. S. stated to me this evening, if the Mormons could make it appear that they had been wronged; They would use their influence in having them redressed, so the shame should not fall on the whole , but on that which had been guilty. I [p. 114] then observed that there was a minority in the Legislature, much in our favor, which seemed to please him, as they attended several times to it. The cause of my being so particular is to show you the whole ground I have taken in this matter, that there may be no inconsistency. If [I] have erred in this matter it is my head and not my heart
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<​Note​> This letter should should have been inserted immediately af[ter] the letter of . dated Feb 21st. 1840 [p. 115]