Letter from Isaac Galland, 24 July 1839

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Chillicothe July 24th 1839
My very dear friends
After a journey of 9 days we reached this city in health and safety. No very remarkable incident occurred during our voyage excepting that we were very near being capsised on our passage from to Portsmouth by a tornado, which rendered the Boat unmanageable, And at the moment she was completely turned upon her beam ends And about to go over, bottom upwards, She struck the shore broadside, And soon afterwards began to right up again. Our voyage was rather pleasant than otherwise. I find the public mind awfully abused in relation both to the doctrines as well as manners and morals of the .
We had on board as far as , a gentleman from Delaware a Mr [Arnold] Naudain late a Senator in congress from that State, I had Some conversation with him, to whom also I sold one copy of The Book of Mormon He is a gentleman of very pleasant manners— And of good moral principles And I was much pleased with the uncompromising aversion which he manifested in his address on the 4th Inst towards all mobs, and lawless acts of violence, he expressed the most painful apprehensions for the fate of our present form of government, And entreated every individual who had the least love for his , or wish for its perpetuity; to rally round to the support of the majesty of its laws. And to use his influence in suppressing insubordination and lawlessness in whatever they may present themselves.
I heard of at , but do not know whether he was there at that time or not. I have not yet done anything, except to vindicate the truth wherever I have heard it assailed, And on suitable occasions to introduce the subject as a topic of conversation
I have had several very friendly tho’ rather argumentative interviews with a Dr [Benjamin] Carpenter of this City who seems entirely absorbed in the doctrines of Emanuel Swedenburg [Swedenborg]— I have conceded to him, that it is not impossible but that the Lord did reveal those spiritual interpretations of the scriptures to Swedenborg of which he asserts, but if so, it was certainly done to shame the metaphisical follies of the mother of harlots And her daughters who had as well in the age in which the Baron wrote his metaphisical theology, as in the present age, ran to the most extravagant lengths of philosophising religion and obscuring every truth in the gospel, and the axioms of common sense; hence that they should have those follies to their full, like the hebrews who murmured in the wilderness for flesh, that they might <​should​> be So gorged with it, And <​that they might,​> die with it between their teeth— their [p. 70] stomachs being already filled to overflowing, And so of the doctrines of the “New Jerusalem Church” if none but those who read And understand the many thousand metaphysical solutions of philisophical problems, which Swedenborg has published, can be saved, then truly must Heaven be content with a spare population until the inhabitants intellectual capacities of the human race are vastly improved— but if the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, And if God has chosen a system of salvation which is to the greeks foolishness And is not taught in the wisdom of mens words, then indeed must it be a vain effort to establish a system in lieu thereof, which is purely the wisdom of the wise— And which has for its whole charm the praise of being philosophically systematic.
I expect next week to set out for Akron and And as I shall write immediately on my return to this place, or perhaps from one of the above places, I will now conclude by requesting that I may be favored with letters from as many of you as can take time to write me, I shall probably have something more interesting to write about when I write you again, give my best wishes and my Assurance of my sincere affection to all the brethren [a]nd believe me ever your’s most sincerely—
P. S. Please let me hear every matter of importance which relates to the success or hindrance, prosperity or adversity of the .
Yours truly
To J Smith Jr
Hancock Co Illinois—— [p. 71]


  1. 1

    Newspapers across the country were continuing to publish articles about the causes and results of the 1838 Missouri conflict. Additionally, newspapers began publishing in April 1839 a letter supposedly written by Matilda Sabin Spalding Davison that revived the allegation that the Book of Mormon was based on a fictional manuscript titled “Manuscript Found,” written by Davison’s late husband, Solomon Spalding. For example, a newspaper published at Chillicothe—the Scioto Gazette—printed at least two stories on the Saints in the month before Galland’s arrival. One condemned the reported beating and shooting of a church member in Iowa Territory, while the other summarized Davison’s letter. (“The Mormon Bible,” Scioto Gazette [Chillicothe, OH], 20 June 1839, [1]; “Inexcusable,” Scioto Gazette, 27 June 1839, [2]; see also John Storrs, “Mormonism,” Boston Recorder, 19 Apr. 1839, [1].)  

    Scioto Gazette. Chillicothe, OH. 1827–1854.

    Boston Recorder. Boston. 1830–1849.

  2. 2

    Naudain served as a United States senator for Delaware from 1830 to 1836.a After his resignation from the Senate, Naudain apparently spent some time in the western United States and in 1837 contemplated moving to Illinois.b Like Galland, Naudain was a land speculator, and he owned significant tracts of land in Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa Territory. He was likely in Illinois because some of his property in Springfield, Illinois, had been seized and was pending auction in consequence of his failure to pay taxes.c  

    Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–2005, the Continental Congress, September 5, 1774, to October 21, 1788, and the Congress of the United States, from the First through the One Hundred Eighth Congresses, March 4, 1789, to January 3, 2005, inclusive. Edited by Andrew R. Dodge and Betty K. Koed. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005.

    Sangamo Journal. Springfield, IL. 1831–1847.

    Gates, Paul Wallace. “Southern Investments in Northern Lands before the Civil War.” Journal of Southern History 5, no. 2 (May 1939): 155–185.

    (aBiographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–2005, 1644.b“Mr. Webster,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 24 June 1837, [2].cGates, “Southern Investments in Northern Lands,” 169; “Notice Is Hereby Given,” Sangamo Journal, 12 July 1839, [3]; Arnold Naudain, Decatur, IL, to Richard F. Barrett, 20 July 1839, in Sangamo Journal, 26 July 1839, [2]; “Springfield,” Sangamo Journal, 16 Aug. 1839, [1].)
  3. 3

    TEXT: Possibly “violence;”.  

  4. 4

    While Naudain may have been referring to the recent expulsion of the Saints from Missouri, his remarks were more likely an expression of a broader complaint about the alleged lawlessness of American politics. Members of the Whig Party, such as Naudain, often considered themselves advocates for law and order, in opposition to the dangerous populism of Jacksonian Democrats. For example, in January 1838, ardent Whig Abraham Lincoln gave an address during which he complained about “the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country,” leading men to substitute “worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice.” Lincoln implored his listeners not “to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.” (Howe, What Hath God Wrought, 599; Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 1:109, 112.)  

    Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. The Oxford History of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Edited by Roy P. Basler, Marion Dolores Pratt, and Lloyd A. Dunlap. 8 vols. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953.

  5. 5

    Greene passed through Cincinnati on his way east to preside over the church in New York. (See Minutes, 6 May 1839; Authorization for John P. Greene, ca. 6 May 1839; and Letter from John P. Greene, 30 June 1839.)  

  6. 6

    Carpenter was a doctor who served as editor of a local Whig newspaper, the Scioto Gazette and Independent Whig, from 1834 to 1835. (“Prospectus of the Scioto Gazette,” Scioto Gazette and Independent Whig [Chillicothe, OH], 23 Apr. 1834, [2]; “Valedictory,” Scioto Gazette and Independent Whig, 15 Apr. 1835, [3].)  

    Scioto Gazette and Independent Whig. Chillicothe, OH. 1834–1835.

  7. 7

    Swedenborg, an eighteenth-century Swedish theologian and mystic, published numerous books describing his visions of the afterlife, relating conversations with angels, and expounding esoteric doctrines. After his death, some of his followers in England formed the New Jerusalem Church, or New Church, based on his teachings. A national Swedenborgian society called the New Jerusalem Church was organized in the United States in 1817, and a congregation of the New Jerusalem Church was organized in Carpenter’s home in Chillicothe in 1838. (McDannell and Lang, Heaven, 181–184, 234–235; Ahlstrom, Religious History of the American People, 483–486; Smith, “Rise of the New Jerusalem Church in Ohio,” 393.)  

    McDannell, Colleen, and Bernhard Lang. Heaven: A History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988.

    Ahlstrom, Sydney E. A Religious History of the American People. 2nd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

    Smith, Ophia D. “The Rise of the New Jerusalem Church in Ohio.” Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly 61, no. 4 (Oct. 1952): 380–409.

  8. 8

    See Revelation 17:5.  

  9. 9

    In 1719, Swedenborg was elevated to the Swedish nobility. Because his status was roughly equivalent to that of an English baron, in the United States he was often referred to as Baron Swedenborg. (See Tafel, Documents concerning the Life and Character of Emanuel Swedenborg, 3, 32.)  

    Tafel, J. F. I. Documents concerning the Life and Character of Emanuel Swedenborg, Late Member of the House of Nobles in the Royal Diet of Sweden, Assessor of the Royal Board of Mines, Fellow of the Royal Society of Upsala, and of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Stockholm, and Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg. Manchester, England: Joseph Hayward, 1841.

  10. 10

    See Numbers chap. 11.  

  11. 11

    See 1 Corinthians 1:17–31.