Letter from John P. Greene, 30 June 1839

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

, June 30th 1839
Honrd & Ever respected Brother & also to Prests. &
Sirs
It is with great satisfaction that I address you at this time, Altho I have been detained in this place much longer than I intended— but I very believe the Lord has directed my way since I left — when I first came to the doors seemed all colosed [closed] for about a week before I could get a hearing & at that time but very few came out: for some said the Mormons deserved all that had done to them and others believed what the priests said: But some came out & heard as they said the tale of woe for themselves,— the Lord helping me to tell the things in quite a systematic course & the people with Doctors Lawyers Priests & Drunkards all opened their ears eyes & mouth & then there hearts were accessible, and when I had done credulity had no place in the Colledge Mr— [Thomas] Morris Esqr & Mr Wm Greene Esq with others spoke freely on the Subject, and declared they believed all that I had stated to the letter.— then appropriate resolutions were adopted— the meeting was then adjourned for one week so as to be accomodated with the House but when the week came the house could not be occupied by us & the friends of liberty got there eyes pealed— & to See the Spirit of opposition & I think that all the wrath of man will yet work for our good. At the meeting I was advised to publish my documents— a committee was appointed of the Citizens to examine the proof that was affixed on that subject. This Committee after examining my papers requested me to publish: and accepted their invitation; I have compiled the whole documents with an appendix & it is now in the press a pamphlet of more than forty pages (of which I will send you as soon as they are out of press) the Sound of Mormon representative in makes a great fuss here and also a far off the fifth day after I arrived in my arrival was announced in the City of in one of the most noted papers of the , with strong terms of disapprobation of the [p. 75] administration of & also a very pathetic invitation for the Mormon representative to soon appear on the Sea Board that the Citizens of the East might have an oppertunity to sympathize with them in their afflictions. At the same time the “Mo Republican[”] complains very bitterly of the Editors of for their sympathies expressed for the Mormons & also accuse them of that wicked & notorious crime (which deserved all the abuse that had given them) their leader Jo Smith pretended to hold converse with the Deity So we see that the people are stirred up for some reason— But Dear Sirs this course of things will have the desired Effect— it awakens up the attention of the people to hear and read and know for themselves & when ever these things are laid before them every honest man must believe them from the very nature of things & the former reffuse of lies are swept away the Missourians appear in her own garb of Mobocracy while the Mormons are strip[p]ed of that dark sable mantle of all manner crime & wickedness which has come from th[e] pulpit and the press; & the credulity of the people allows them to believe the truth: and the does appear in its own native plain[n]ess with<​out​> partiality and without hypocracy but I must bid you adieu for the present, but I will write you again & I wish you to write to me at or and express your mind and feelings on this subject.
I am Yours in the of the Gospel of Christ
Joseph Smith Jr)
)
)
N B Excuse all the imperfections of this scrawl & ever pray for me as I do for you
[p. 76]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    On 12 June 1839, Greene showed a small group his 8 May 1839 letter of introduction and documentary evidence for his claims. Those in attendance encouraged Greene to present his information at a public meeting. (“Mormons,” Liberty Hall and Cincinnati Gazette, 20 June 1839, [4].)  

    Liberty Hall and Cincinnati Gazette. Cincinnati. 1815–1857.

  2. 2

    Reverend W. H. Channing, writing for the Unitarian publication Western Messenger, argued after hearing Greene’s presentation that “the fear, jealousy, envy and hatred felt against” the Saints in Missouri stemmed from a belief that “the Mormons were deluded, obstinate, zealous, exclusive in their faith” and led by men who “were thought to be speculators on the credulity of the ignorant.” Furthermore, “they were a large and growing community, allied together both by necessity and choice, and withal prosperous.” Channing concluded that this was “an explanation, but no justification.” (Channing, “Outrages of Missouri Mobs on Mormons,” 213, italics in original; see also Fluhman, “A Peculiar People,” 51–66.)  

    Channing, W. H. “Outrages of Missouri Mobs on Mormons.” Western Messenger 7, no. 3 (July 1839): 209–214.

    Fluhman, J. Spencer. “A Peculiar People”: Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

  3. 3

    At a public meeting held at Cincinnati College’s chapel on 17 June 1839, Greene recounted the suffering of the Saints, which one newspaper opined “has hardly a parallel even in the persecution of the primitive Christians.” Greene vividly described women and children leaving bloody footprints in the snow, as well as vigilantes murdering young boys and an elderly man at Hawn’s Mill. (“Mormon Meeting,” Albany [NY] Journal, 28 June 1839, [2]; “Public Meeting,” in Greene, Facts relative to the Expulsion, 42.)  

    Albany Journal. Albany, NY. 1830–1898.

    Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.

  4. 4

    Morris was an attorney and Ohio senator from 1833 to 1839. He was apparently in Missouri sometime during summer and fall 1838 and inquired into the causes of the conflict. His investigation convinced him that the Saints were industrious citizens, that none of them had been charged with crimes, and “that their religion gave offence to a mob.” William Greene was an attorney and an outspoken abolitionist. At the meeting on 17 June 1839, he chaired the committee designated to evaluate John P. Greene’s claims and to offer recommendations. (Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–2005, 1622; “Mormon Meeting,” Albany [NY] Journal, 28 June 1839, [2]; Hamlin, “Selections from the William Greene Papers,” 3; “Public Meeting,” in Greene, Facts relative to the Expulsion, 42.)  

    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.

    Albany Journal. Albany, NY. 1830–1898.

    Hamlin, L. B. “Selections from the William Greene Papers, I.” Quarterly Publication of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio 13, no. 1 (Jan.–Mar. 1918): 1–38.

    Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.

  5. 5

    The committee passed six resolutions that condemned the vigilantes’ extralegal activities and Missouri government officials’ failure to protect the Saints. The committee also promised to support “the surviving sufferers” financially and to help them regain their rights. Further, the committee members argued “that the story of wrongs done the Mormon people . . . ought to be spread before the American people and the world.” (“Public Meeting,” in Greene, Facts relative to the Expulsion, 42.)  

    Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.

  6. 6

    It is unclear what Greene was referring to here. In spite of opposition, this meeting was held in the Cincinnati College chapel, the same location as the previous week’s meeting. (“Mormon Meeting,” in Greene, Facts relative to the Expulsion, 42.)  

    Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.

  7. 7

    After some debate, those at the meeting accepted the committee’s preamble, which condemned the Missouri vigilantes’ violation of the Saints’ constitutional rights, and approved four resolutions that commended the citizens of Quincy for “their generous defence and aid of the Mormons.” Those attending also called for additional donations from Cincinnati residents for the Saints’ relief and “approve[d] of the attempt of John P. Greene, to make known the history of his people’s wrongs to the whole nation, through addresses and publications.” (“Mormon Meeting,” in Greene, Facts relative to the Expulsion, 42–43.)  

    Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.

  8. 8

    Greene’s pamphlet included a memorial that Bishop Edward Partridge and other Latter-day Saints wrote on 10 December 1838 for the Missouri legislature; a copy of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs’s 27 October 1838 expulsion order; and affidavits, petitions, and other materials describing the persecutions. According to family tradition, Greene printed as many as five thousand copies. (Greene, Facts relative to the Expulsion, 10–16, 21–24, 26–38; Greene, “Biographical Sketch of the Life and Travels of John Portenus Greene,” 4.)  

    Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.

    Greene, Evan Melbourne. “A Biographical Sketch of the Life and Travels of John Portenus Greene,” 1857. CHL. MS 15390.

  9. 9

    It is unknown which newspaper requested that Greene visit New York City in June 1839. On 16 September 1839, Greene attended a public meeting in that city, presenting an overview of the Saints’ sufferings in Missouri. After various New York citizens gave speeches, the meeting’s attendees approved resolutions that condemned the treatment of the Saints in Missouri and called for donations, which were subsequently collected by a committee. (“Meeting on Behalf of the Mormons,” New-York Spectator, 19 Sept. 1839, [3].)  

    New-York Spectator. New York City. 1804–1867.

  10. 10

    No extant evidence suggests that the Missouri Republican published such a response to Greene in June 1839. It is possible that the paper’s editor was in Cincinnati and made these comments verbally.  

  11. 11

    See Isaiah 28:17.  

  12. 12

    See James 3:17.