Letter from George J. Adams, 21 April 1842

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

LETTER
FROM .
, April 21, 1842.
Beloved Brother in Christ—As I have just arrived from , and have a few hours of leisure time, I thought a short history of my labors during the past season would not be altogether uninteresting to the readers of your valuable periodical.
By the advice and counsel of our highly esteemed brother, Elder , on the first of January, 1841, I commenced to set my house in order, to leave my native land and go to the nations of the earth to assist in declaring the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to a dark and benighted world. According to arrangements previously made, on the 13th of February, 1841, I left my friends and the companion of my early days to assist in carrying to a land of strangers “glad tidings of great joy.” I left in company with, and under the direction of the above named ; we left in the packet ship United States, bound for , where we arrived after a short passage of eighteen days; we were kindly received by and the brethren in ; we stayed with them two days, and then, in company with brother , we proceeded on to , the principal place of ’s former labors. Nothing could exceed the joy that was manifested by the saints in once more beholding this our brother. Here we were soon joined by our beloved brother, ; this made my joy complete for the then present time, as it was from this that I first heard the fullness of the gospel. By the counsel of these two brethren I stopped and labored a few weeks in , Farington, Southport, and the adjacent country, during which time a number were . Early in April I went to to attend the , and there it was counseled by and others, and agreed by the , that I should go and labor in Bedford and the vicinity thereof. Accordingly, on the 9th of April, I left in company with my highly esteemed brother , the President of the Conference; after traveling together about one hundred miles we arrived in Birmingham, and there I was counseled by to remain and labor a few days. I accordingly remained eight days, preached eleven times, baptized a number and then proceeded on my way to Bedford, in order to enter more fully upon the mission assigned me. I arrived in Bedford on the 20th day of April, and soon found the brethren, who received me with great kindness. In the evening I attended a meeting of the saints at their chapel in Hassett street, and spoke a few minutes to a very small congregation, chiefly saints; at the close of the meeting I gave out preaching for Thursday evening, at which time a few strangers attended to hear the preacher from . At the close I gave out preaching three times for the following Sabbath; at which time we had a large and respectable congregation, who listened with attention to the glorious truths of the fulness of the gospel. The following week a number came forward and were baptized. The next Sabbath I gave notice to the at Honneydon to meet with the saints in Bedford, accordingly, on the following Sabbath a large concourse of people assembled, and we found it wisdom to six to the office of , to assist in preaching the gospel to the surrounding country; this proved to be too strong meat for the people of Bedford, and some of their great men challenged me to discuss our principles. I of course accepted their challenge, and in the discussion I had to contend against all the lying statements that had been published in or Europe; in the midst of the opposition made by our enemies to the truth, and when I was nearly borne down by sectarian lies, filth, and bigotry, Elder came to my rescue; after which our enemies soon retired from the field in confusion and disgrace, without having left a stone to tell where slumbers the ashes of these fallen Heroes. From that time to the present the truth has stood triumphant in Bedford, no man daring to come forth in public to oppose it. Elder remained with us a few days, during which time he gave us much good instruction, and taught us many glorious truths. He then gave us the parting hand to hasten and fill his mission [p. 826] in the east. His memory will long be cherished by the saints in Bedford and its vicinity; in fact I shall never forget this ’s kindness to me; no, never, while memory holds her seat; and I trust the counsel and good advice that I have received from this from time to time in traveling with him, will never be forgotten by me. After the above I continued laboring in Bedford, Malden, Honneydon, Northampton, Thorncut, and the adjacent country until the 19th of July, during which time many were and are now rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God that is to be revealed in the latter times. At the time above stated, at the request of , I visited to preach in his place while he visited Bedford. During my stay in , (about seven weeks,) I visited Ramsgate and Woolwich, in Ramsgate I baptized Capt. Harris, an old Methodist, and him to preach the gospel. I also baptized a number at Woolwich, and then returned to . During my stay in I held two public discussions with the great men of this generation, in both of which the truth came off triumphant. During my stay in forty were baptized, and full as many in Bedford and its vicinity by . About this time I received such counsel from and other brethren in as warranted me in making arrangements to return home in the fall, I also counselled with and , and they gave their consent to my return; and on Sabbath, the 12th of September, I gave my farewell address to the people of , we had a large and attentive congregation, the people were very kind to me, especially our beloved brother . This our has had much to contend with in proclaiming the truth in and Woolwich, the foundation of which was laid by Elders , and . But the Almighty has abundantly blessed his labors, and he is accomplishing a great and mighty work in these places in the name of the Lord. On Saturday, the 18th day of September, I left for Bedford to finish my labors in that region previous to my return home. I arrived in Bedford late in the evening, and on the following day preached three times to a crowded chapel; after the above I continued preaching in Bedford and the surrounding country, assisted by Elder Joseph Brotherton and others; until October 3d, during which time many were baptized from week to week. On the day above named, it being the last that I should remain among them previous to my departure, I preached three times, 19, and a number were ordained to the different offices. On Wednesday, Oct. 6th, I bade them a final farewell in Bedford amidst the prayers and blessings of the saints and friends. I then, agreeable to previous appointment, proceeded on my way to Birmingham and West Broomwich, where I remained and labored about three weeks, during my stay a number were baptized and many believed. I continued my journey from Birmingham to (where there was a large raised by Elder ) to fill appointments I had made more than three months previous. I arrived in the 30th of October, and the next day being Sabbath I preached twice, and in the evening I gave my reasons for renouncing Methodism. The Music Hall was crowded to overflowing, there were over two thousand persons present; I continued laboring in a number of weeks, during which time I held five public discussions, in every one of which the truth triumphed; to God be all the praise. During my stay in many were baptized and hundreds were enquiring after the truth. At the time I delivered my farewell lecture the Hall was completely full, at the close the entire congregation gave me their good will and blessing.
Early in November my passage was engaged in the ship Mersey, Capt. Rae, to sail for by the 25th of Nov. but owing to contrary winds and stormy weather we did not sail until the 31st of December. We had 200 souls on board, and among them a clergyman of the Church of England; the first eight days we had fair wind and good weather, but after that time we had gale after gale for five weeks with head winds, which finally ended in a tempest that commenced on Sunday the 6th of February, 1842, and lasted with unabated fury for seven days, during which time we were driven back towards seven hundred miles; our helm broken, our round house washed away, our main-mast sprung, our bulwarks stove in, and our provisions almost exhausted: so much that it was deemed advisable to return to , I would be glad to give a full account of the cir [p. 827]cumstances that took place while we were at sea but that would occupy too large a space; suffice it to say that the Lord so ordered it, that I had a full opportunity to teach the fullness of the gospel to Captain, Clergyman, and all the passengers, and in the end they all looked to me for counsel and advice. It was made known to me in a night vision long before we returned that we could not reach at that time but would be compelled to return to for some wise end and purpose, and although many expected to meet a watery grave, I told them if they returned to not one of them should perish; but if they persisted in going to they would be wrecked and many lives would be lost. Finally, after the vessel had become almost disabled and the tempest still raging with unabated fury, the Captain concluded to take my counsel and turn the ship towards . At this time we had only about ten day’s provisions, allowing about one meal per day, and that chiefly oatmeal and water; some of the water that we were compelled to drink had dead putrid rats in it which gave some of the passengers pains in their bowels; but I can praise the Lord that from the time I left until my return, which was nearly ten weeks, I had not one hour’s pain or sickness. In just eleven days after we put the ship about we landed safe in precisely as I had told them we should; we landed on the 25th of February, and on the 27th I preached three times in to overflowing congregations, and among others we had Capt. Rae, the Clergyman and many of their friends; our return created a great excitement in , and will cause hundreds to hear the truth. I remained in about three weeks, and then by the counsel of , my passage was engaged for me on the packet ship Sheridan, to sail for the 16th of March. Previous to the sailing of the Sheridan I had the happiness to see some of the passengers of the Mersey embrace the truth by repenting and being , and some of them are now on their way to , by the ships Hanover and Dunbarton, under the direction of the saints; one of them, the Hanover, sailed on the 15th of March, and the other was to sail on the 17th. Elder was on board the Hanover; the Sheridan sailed on the 16th with 400 souls on board, we had a passage of 31 days, landing in the 16th of April, I preached every Sabbath during our passage, and sometimes during the week, they treated me with kindness, and hundreds on board of the Sheridan listened with profound attention to the fulness of the gospel; many of them are believing and no doubt but they will embrace the work soon.
I need not tell you how I was received by my family and friends in , language cannot describe it; but suffice it to say they received me as one from the dead. A few words of reflection upon the whole and I must close. In looking back upon the past, when I behold the goodness and mercy of the Lord, I am lost in wonder and amazement; I have beheld the rolling forth of the great work that God hath set his hand to perform, not only in this land but throughout the vast empire of Great Britain. In Bedford and its vicinity, the particular field of my labors, what a work has the Lord our God performed. When, by the council of , and sanction of the whole , I took charge of that (under the Presidency of ) we had but two preaching places, two and between fifty and sixty members; now there is about fifteen preaching places seven elders, fourteen priests, and over two hundred and fifty members; and still the work is spreading far and wide. I also would bear testimony to the untireing zeal and perseverance of my brethren throughout that land, espcially our beloved brethren, Elders , , , brother [Theodore] Curtis, and many others. I was absent from fourteen months and three days, during which time I have preached, or bore testimony in public, by sea and land, over 500 times, traveled over fifteen thousand miles, held fifteen public discussions, baptized and confirmed some hundreds; and I have seen error, superstition, bigotry and giving way on every side before the power of eternal truth. Thus you see the work of the Lord is rolling on both by sea and land, and my sincere prayer is, that it may continue to roll on until it becomes the glory of the nations; even so, Amen.
With sentiments of high esteeem, I subscribe myself your friend and brother in the .
. [p. 828]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Adams was living in New York City at the time. (“List of Agents,” Times and Seasons, 15 Jan. 1841, 2:288.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  2. 2

    At the April 1840 general conference, Hyde and John E. Page were appointed to serve a mission among the Jews in Europe and Palestine. By January 1841 the men were still endeavoring to obtain funds for their trip across the Atlantic. That month, the Times and Seasons published a notice informing Hyde and Page “that the Lord is not well pleased” because of their delay. Hyde then proceeded with the voyage to England, and Page remained behind in the United States. Hyde seems to have invited Adams as a travel companion to replace Page. (Minutes and Discourse, 6–8 Apr. 1840; Minutes and Discourses, 6–8 Apr. 1842; Notice, Times and Seasons, 15 Jan. 1841, 2:287.)  

  3. 3

    Adams married Caroline Youngs around 1832. (Caroline Youngs Adams, New York City, NY, to JS, Nauvoo, IL, ca. 15 Jan. 1843, JS Collection [Supplement], CHL.)  

  4. 4

    See Luke 2:10.  

  5. 5

    Hyde described the voyage as “a good passage but a rough one.” (Letter from Orson Hyde, 17 Apr. 1841.)  

  6. 6

    In January 1840 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles assigned Taylor and Joseph Fielding to labor in Liverpool. In February 1841 Taylor estimated that the Liverpool congregation comprised 160 members. (Woodruff, Journal, 17 Jan. 1840; Letter from John Taylor, 3 Feb. 1841.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  7. 7

    Hyde proselytized in Preston from July 1837 to April 1838. (“Mission to England,” Millennial Star, Apr. 1841, 1:290, 295.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  8. 8

    Fielding, for example, recalled that “there was no Soul on Earth that I should have been more pleased to see than Bro Hyde.” (Fielding, Journal, Feb.–Oct. 1841, 9.)  

    Fielding, Joseph. Journals, 1837–1859. CHL. MS 1567.

  9. 9

    Adamswas baptized eight days after he heard Kimball preach in February 1840. (George J. Adams, New York, 7 Oct. 1840, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, 15 Nov. 1840, 2:220.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  10. 10

    Preston, Farington, and Southport are in Lancashire.  

  11. 11

    This conference was held on 6 April 1841 at Carpenter’s Hall in Manchester. (“Conference Minutes,” Millennial Star, Apr. 1841, 1:301–305.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  12. 12

    Snow was selected as the president of the London Conference on 14 February 1841. (Woodruff, Journal, 14 Feb. 1841.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  13. 13

    In June 1841 Adams reported that he baptized three while in Birmingham and that “a number of others were believing.” He continued, “I have no doubt but the time is nigh when a great work will be accomplished in that place.” (George J. Adams, Northampton, England, to Parley P. Pratt, 22 June 1841, in Millennial Star, July 1841, 2:33.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  14. 14

    Before Adams’s arrival the congregation in Bedford numbered fewer than thirty. (George J. Adams, Northampton, England, to Parley P. Pratt, 22 June 1841, in Millennial Star, June 1841, 2:33.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  15. 15

    The branch at Honeydon “consisted of about fifteen or eighteen members.” (George J. Adams to Parley P. Pratt, 22 June 1841, in Millennial Star, July 1841, 2:33.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  16. 16

    The congregation in Bedford normally met in a small room, but Adams arranged to hold this meeting at a rented hall, which he identified as “Mr. Mayle’s large room.” (George J. Adams, Northampton, England, to Parley P. Pratt, 22 June 1841, in Millennial Star, July 1841, 2:33.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  17. 17

    For an account of Hyde’s participation in the Bedford debates, see “The Mormons,” Cambridge Independent Press, and Huntingdon, Bedford, and Peterborough Gazette, 5 June 1841, [3]. Hyde visited Bedford intending to finish writing the pamphlet that was later translated into German and published as Ein Ruf aus der Wüste (A cry out of the wilderness). (Lorenzo Snow, London, England, to Brigham Young et al., 26 May 1841, in Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1841, 2:544; Orson Hyde, Ein Ruf aus der Wüste, eine Stimme aus dem Schoose der Erde [Frankfurt: Im Selbstverlage des Verfassers, 1842].)  

    Cambridge Independent Press, and Huntingdon, Bedford, and Peterborough Gazette. Cambridge, England. 1838–1866.

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Hyde, Orson. Ein Ruf aus der Wüste, eine Stimme aus dem Schoose der Erde: Kurzer Ueberblick des Ursprungs und der Lehre der Kirche “Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” in Amerika, gekannt von Manchen unter der Benennung: “Die Mormonen.” Frankfurt: Im Selbstverlage des Verfassers, 1842. Also available with English translation in Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith, vol. 1, Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), 402–425.

  18. 18

    Hyde left Bedford on 7 June 1841, departing England later that month and journeying through other European countries en route to Jerusalem before arriving on 21 October 1841. (Orson Hyde, London, England, to George J. Adams, Bedford, England, 7 June 1841, in Page, Spaulding Story, 10; Letter from Orson Hyde, 17 July 1841; Hyde, Voice from Jerusalem, 8.)  

    Page, John E. The Spaulding Story, concerning the Origin of the Book of Mormon, Duly Examined, and Exposed to the Righteous Contempt of a Candid Public. Pittsburgh: By the author, 1843.

    Hyde, Orson. A Voice from Jerusalem, or a Sketch of the Travels and Ministry of Elder Orson Hyde, Missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to Germany, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. Liverpool: P. P. Pratt, 1842.

  19. 19

    These communities are in southeast England.  

  20. 20

    Woolwich is located on the outskirts of London, whereas Ramsgate is approximately eighty miles east.  

  21. 21

    On 5 August 1841 a correspondent wrote that after Adams arrived in London he “held two public discussions, and is going to hold another to-morrow evening—he is obliged to get a large place to hold it in, as the meeting place is not half large enough—he has preached twice in the Regent Park, and is to preach there again next Sunday.” (“Extract from a Letter to Elder H. C. Kimball,” Times and Seasons, 1 Oct. 1841, 2:557.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  22. 22

    Snow reported baptizing twenty-three individuals during his three-week stay in Bedford. (News Items, Millennial Star, Sept. 1841, 2:76.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  23. 23

    Kimball, Smith, and Woodruff began their missionary labors in London on 18 August 1840 and spent the majority of their time there during the next several months. Smith departed for Staffordshire on 10 November 1840 because of declining health. Kimball and Woodruff left London in late February 1841. Kimball visited Woolwich in mid-December 1840. (JS History, vol. C-1, 1123; Heber C. Kimball, Nauvoo, IL, 4 Aug. 1841, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:507–510; Woodruff, Journal, 26 Feb. 1841.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  24. 24

    Brotherton arrived in Bedford on 6 June 1841. (George J. Adams, Northampton, England, to Parley P. Pratt, 22 June 1841, in Millennial Star, July 1841, 2:37.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  25. 25

    In an October 1841 letter, Adams wrote that seventeen were confirmed on 3 October and that hundreds attended his farewell address that evening. (George J. Adams, Bedford, England, to Parley P. Pratt, 5 Oct. 1841, in Millennial Star, Jan. 1842, 2:144.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  26. 26

    Birmingham and West Bromwich are in the West Midlands region of England.  

  27. 27

    In a 14 December 1841 letter, Adams stated that he arrived in Liverpool on 28 October 1841. (George J. Adams, Liverpool, England, to Parley P. Pratt, 14 Dec. 1841, in Millennial Star, Jan. 1842, 2:141.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  28. 28

    The meeting that evening was arranged prior to Adams’s arrival and was advertised via “large placards . . . posted through the town.” (George J. Adams, Liverpool, England, to Parley P. Pratt, 14 Dec. 1841, in Millennial Star, Jan. 1842, 2:141.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  29. 29

    Historian R. J. Broadbent described the Music Hall as “a plain brick edifice” on “Bold Street at the corner of Concert Street.” Constructed in 1786, the building once served primarily as a concert hall. In February 1841 John Taylor reported that he arranged for the Saints to hold their meetings in the Music Hall for twelve months. (Broadbent, Annals of the Liverpool Stage, 334; Letter from John Taylor, 3 Feb. 1841.)  

    Broadbent, R. J. Annals of the Liverpool Stage from the Earliest Period to the Present Time, Together with Some Account of the Theatres and Music Halls in Bootle and Birkenhead. Liverpool: Edward Howell, 1908.

  30. 30

    These five meetings included a three-evening debate on the Book of Mormon with “Mr. J. B. Philips, of the Church of England,” at the Queen’s Theatre; two discussions in Liverpool, including a debate with “Mr. M’Intosh, a Socialist lecturer,” at the Hall of Science in Liverpool; and a two-evening debate with “Mr. Stevenson, a Wesleyan minister.” Adams’s fifth public discussion may have been his response to a “Mr. Brindley,” who gave a lecture against the church. (George J. Adams, Liverpool, England, to Parley P. Pratt, 14 Dec. 1841, in Millennial Star, Jan. 1842, 2:141–143.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  31. 31

    Adams delivered his farewell address “on the subject of restoration” on the evening of Sunday, 5 December 1841. According to Adams, he “had the largest congregation ever assembled in the hall with the saints.” Approximately twenty-five hundred individuals attended. (George J. Adams, Liverpool, England, to Parley P. Pratt, 14 Dec. 1841, in Millennial Star, Jan. 1842, 2:143.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  32. 32

    The Sheridan was a very large packet ship built in 1837. (Clark, Clipper Ship Era, 40–41.)  

    Clark, Arthur H. The Clipper Ship Era: An Epitome of Famous American and British Clipper Ships, Their Owners, Builders, Commanders, and Crews, 1843–1869. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1911.

  33. 33

    On 13 March 1842 Pratt informed JS that Adams’s ship was “Blown Back” and that Adams had converted “many of the Ship Company.” (Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 13 Mar. 1842.)  

  34. 34

    On 14 March 1842, 230 Latter-day Saints departed Liverpool for New Orleans aboard the Hanover, a vessel chartered by church agents Parley P. Pratt and Amos Fielding. (Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 13 Mar. 1842; “Emigration,” Millennial Star, Mar. 1842, 2:176.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  35. 35

    The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles arranged for missionaries to be sent to Scotland, Ireland, the East Indies, and Australia. (Letter from Heber C. Kimball, 9 July 1840.)  

  36. 36

    In summer 1840 Curtis arrived in England from Nauvoo. By 25 May 1841 he was proselytizing in Cheltenham. Richards arrived in England from Nauvoo in October. He proselytized in several locations in western England. (“News from the Elders,” Millennial Star, Sept. 1840, 1:135; News Items, Millennial Star, June 1841, 2:24; Richards, Diary, 18–31 Oct. 1840.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

    Richards, George F. Diaries, 1883–1950. George F. Richards, Papers, 1883–1950. CHL.