Letter from Orson Hyde, 15 December 1835

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Dec 15th 1835
President Smith
Sir you may esteem it a novel circumstance to receive a written communication from me at this time.
My reasons for writing are the following. I have some things which I wish to communicate to you, and feeling a greater liberty to do it by writing alone by myself, I take this method; and it is generally the case that you are thronged with buisness and not convenient to spend much time in conversing upon subjects of the following nature. Therefore let these excuses paliate the novelty of the circumstance and patiently hear my recital.
After the committee had received their stock of fall and winter goods, I went to and told him that I was destitute of a cloak and wanted him to trust me until Spring for materials to make one. He told me that [p. 70] he would trust me until January, but must then have his pay as the payments for the goods become due at that time. I told him that I know not from whence the money would come and I could not promise it so soon.
But in a few weeks after I unexpectedly obtained the money to buy a cloak and applyed immediately to for one and told him that I had the cash to pay for it, but he said that the materials for cloaks were all sold and that he could not accommodately me, and I will here venture a guess that he has not realized the cash for one cloak pattern.
A few weeks after this I called on again and told him that I wanted cloth for some shirts to the amount of 4 or 5 Dollars I told him that I would pay him in the spring and sooner if I could.
He told me let me have it not long after, my school was established and some of the hands who laboured on the attended and wished to pay me at the for their tuition.— I called at the to see if any nego[ti]ation could be made and they take me off where I owed them, but no such negotiation could be made. These with some other circumstances of like character called forth the following. reflections.
In the first place I gave the committee $275 in cash besides some more and during the last season have traveled thro the Middle and Eastern states to suport and uphold the and in so doing have reduced myself to nothing in a pecuniary point. Under [p. 71] these circumstances this establishment refused to render me that accomodation which a worldlings establishment would have gladly done, and one too, which never <​received​> a donation from my me nor in whose favour I never raised my voice or extended <​exerted​> my influence.
But after all this, thought I, it may be right and I will be still— Un[t]il not long since I asertained that Elder could go to the and get whatever he pleased, and no one to say why do ye so, until his account has amounted to seven Hundred Dollars or there abouts and that he was a silent partner in the conce[r]n yet not acknowledged <​as​> such fearing that his creditors would make a hawl upon the .
While we were abroad this last season we straind every nerve to obtain a little something for our familys and regularly divided the monies equally for ought that I know, not knowing that had such a fountain at hom[e] from whence he drew his support. I then called to mind the revelation in which myself, and were chastened and also the quotation in that revelation of the parable of the twelve sons; as if the original meaning referd directly to the of the , I would now ask if each one of the twelve has not an equal right to the same accomodations from that provided they are alike faithful. If not, with such a combination [p. 72] mine honor be not thou united.
If each one has the same right, take the baskets off from our noses or put one to s nose or if this cannot be done, reconcile the parable of the twelve sons with the superior priveleges that has.
Pardon me if I speak in parables or parody.
A certain shepherd had twelve sons and he sent them out one day to go and gather his flock which were scattered upon the mountains and in the vallies afar off they were all obedient to their fathers mandate, and at Evening they returned with the flock, and one son received wool enough to make him warm and comfortable and also recd of the flesh and milk of the flock, the other eleven received not so much as one kid to make merry with their freinds
These facts with some others have disqualified my mind for studying the Hebrew Language at present, and believing, as I do, that I must sink or swim, or in other words take care of myself, I have thought that I should take the most efficient means in my power to get out of debt, and to this end I proposed taking the school, but if I am not thought competent to take the charge of the it, or worthy to be placed in that station, I must devise some other means to help myself; altho having been to that office under your own hand with a promise that it should not be taken from me.— [p. 73]
Conclusion of the whole matter is sutch I am willing to continue and do all I can provided we can share equal benefits one with the other, and upon no other principle whatever. If one has his suport from the “publick crib” let them all have it. But if one is pinched I am willing to be, provided we are all alike.
If the principle of impartiality and equality can be observed by all I think that I will not peep again—
If I am damned it will be for doing what I think is right.— There have been two applications made to me to go into business since I talked of taking the school, but it is in the world and I had rather remain in if I can consistently
All I ask is Right
I Am Sir with Respect Your obt. servt.
To J. Smith jn
Geauga Co. Ohio [p. 74]


  1. 1

    It appears that construction workers on the House of the Lord received credit from the committee store for the time they labored on the building. Hyde’s students, some of whom also served as construction workers on the House of the Lord, apparently proposed an arrangement wherein they would pay Hyde for the education through their accounts at the committee store.  

  2. 2

    On fund-raising efforts by Hyde and the Twelve in summer 1835, see Letter to Quorum of the Twelve, 4 Aug. 1835; and Revelation, 3 Nov. 1835.  

  3. 3

    Revelation, 3 Nov. 1835.  

  4. 4

    See Luke 15:29.  

  5. 5

    Hyde instructed the first term of the School of the Prophets in early 1833, along with JS and Sidney Rigdon. Apparently he anticipated a similar role in the winter 1835–1836 term of the Elders School. In fall 1835, after Oliver Cowdery returned from New York with Hebrew books to study, JS, Orson Hyde, and others began searching for a scholar who could teach them Hebrew. By January 1836, JS had organized a new school for the study of the Hebrew language. Hyde eventually enrolled in and attended the Hebrew School. (School of the Prophets Salt Lake City Minutes, 3 Oct. 1883; JS, Journal, 20–21 Nov. 1835; 4 Jan. and 19 Feb. 1836.)  

    School of the Prophets Salt Lake City Minutes, Apr.–Dec. 1883. CHL.