Letter to Emma Smith, 21 March 1839

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Clay Co Mo 1839 March 21st
I have sent an Epistle to the directed to you because I wanted you to have the first reading of it and then I want and to have a coppy of it keep the original yourself as I dectated the matter myself and shall send an other as soon as posible I want to be with you very much but the powers of mobocra[c]y is to many for me at preasant I would ask if will be kind enough to let you and the children tarry there untill can learn somethng futher concerning my lot fate I will reward him well if he will and see that you do not suffer fo[r] any thing I shall have a little mony left when I come my Dear I very well know your toils and simpathise with you if God will spare my life once more to have the privelege of takeing care of you I will ease your care and indeavour to cumfort your heart [p. [1]] I wa[n]t the you to take the best care of the family you can which I believe you will do all you can I was sorry to learn that was sick but I trust he is well again and that you are all well I want you to try to gain time and write to me a long letter and tell me all you can and even if old major is alive yet and what those little pratlers say that cling around you[r] neck do you tell them I am in prison that that their lives might be saved I want all the church to make out a bill of damages and apply to the Court as soon as possible howeveve [however] they will find out what can be done themselves you expressed my feelings concerning the order and I blieve that there is a way to git redress for such things but God ruleth all things after the council of his own will my trust is in him the salvation of my soul is of the most importants to me for as much as I know for a certainty of Eternal things if the heveans linger it is nothing to <​me​> I must stear my bark safe which I intend to do I want you to do the same yours forever Joseph Smith Jr
[p. [2]]
I want you <​to​> have the Epistole coppyed immedeately and let it go to the Bretheren firs[t] into the hands of for I want the production for my record if you lack for mony [o]r fo[r] bread do let me know it as soon as possible my nerve trembles from long confinement but if you feel as I do you dont care for the imperfections of my writings for my part a word of consolation from any sourse is cordially recieved by us me I feel like Joseph in Egyept doth my friends yet live if they live do they remember me have they regard for me if so let me know it in time of trouble my Dear do you think that my being cast into prison by the mob of renders me less worthy of your friendsship no I do not think so but when I was in prisen and ye viseted me inasmuch as you have don it to the least <​of​> these you have don it to me these shall enter into life Eternal but no more
your Husband J Smith Jr [p. [3]]
Ilinois [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    See Letter to the Church and Edward Partridge, 20 Mar. 1839.  

  2. 2

    See Historical Introduction to Letter to Edward Partridge and the Church, ca. 22 Mar. 1839.  

  3. 3

    John and Sarah Kingsley Cleveland provided Emma Smith and her children with lodging after the Smiths arrived in Quincy in mid-February 1839. (Letter from Emma Smith, 7 Mar. 1839; Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 15 Feb. 1839.)  

  4. 4

    TEXT: “fo[page torn]”.  

  5. 5

    In her 7 March 1839 letter to JS, Emma Smith referred to “the scenes of suffering that I have passed through, since what is called the Militia, came in to Far West” after Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued the expulsion order. She also described the pain she felt when leaving the Smiths’ Missouri home. JS was perhaps also referring to the hardships Emma had faced in Illinois without his support. (Letter from Emma Smith, 7 Mar. 1839.)  

  6. 6

    In her 7 March 1839 letter, Emma Smith noted, “We are all well at present, except Fredrick who is quite sick.” (Letter from Emma Smith, 7 Mar. 1839.)  

  7. 7

    Old Major was the Smith family’s white English mastiff. (See “The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith,” Saints’ Herald, 6 Nov. 1934, 1414; and Davis, Story of the Church, 252.)  

    Saints’ Herald. Independence, MO. 1860–.

    Davis, Inez Smith. The Story of the Church. Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1938.

  8. 8

    On 31 October 1838, Major General Samuel D. Lucas demanded that JS and other church leaders submit to arrest; otherwise, the three thousand militiamen under Lucas’s command would attack Far West, Missouri. (Samuel D. Lucas, “near Far West,” MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 2 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.)  

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

  9. 9

    In a general epistle written to the church soon after this letter to Emma Smith, JS proposed that a committee be appointed “to take statements and affidafets” documenting the losses and abuses the Latter-day Saints had experienced in Missouri, with the intention of submitting the documents to the government. (Letter to Edward Partridge and the Church, ca. 22 Mar. 1839.)  

  10. 10

    In February 1839, church leaders in Quincy, Illinois, began laying the groundwork for pursuing redress for their losses, including through appointing a committee “to draught a petition to the general Government stating our Grievances and one likewise presented to the citizens for the same object.” The minutes of this February meeting were evidently sent to Far West and incorporated into the records of the Far West removal committee. Church leaders in Far West may have informed JS of these efforts. (Quincy Committee, Minutes, ca. 9 Feb. 1839, Far West Committee, Minutes, CHL; see also Historical Introduction to Letter from Edward Partridge, 5 Mar. 1839.)  

    Far West Committee. Minutes, Jan.–Apr. 1839. CHL. MS 2564.

  11. 11

    Emma Smith described Governor Boggs’s expulsion order of 27 October 1838 as follows: “The ever to be remembered Governor’s notable order; an order fraught with as much wickedness as ignorance and as much ignorance as was ever contained in an article of that length.” (Letter from Emma Smith, 7 Mar. 1839.)  

  12. 12

    See Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:20].  

  13. 13

    See Psalm 91:2; and Hebrews 2:13.  

  14. 14

    Extant copies of the 20 March 1839 epistle are in the handwriting of Edward Partridge and Albert Perry Rockwood. (JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20–25 Mar. 1839, copy, CHL; JS et al., Liberty, MO, to the Church and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20 Mar. 1839, copy, Albert Perry Rockwood, Mormon Letters and Sermons, 1838–1839, Western Americana Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.)  

    Smith, Joseph. Letter, Liberty, MO, to the Church and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20–25 Mar. 1839. Copy. CHL.

    Western Americana Collection. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

  15. 15

    JS was perhaps referring to the history that he began in April 1838. (JS, Journal, 27 and 30 Apr. 1838; Historical Introduction to History Drafts, 1838–ca. 1841.)  

    Western Americana Collection. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

  16. 16

    TEXT: “[Page torn]r fo[page torn]”.  

  17. 17

    The prisoners apparently had some money in the jail, presumably provided by individuals in Far West. While imprisoned, Hyrum Smith sent twenty dollars to his wife, Mary Fielding Smith, in Quincy. (Hyrum Smith, Liberty, MO, to Mary Fielding Smith, Quincy, IL, 23 Mar. 1839, Mary Fielding Smith, Collection, CHL; see also Kimball, “History,” 100–101.)  

    Smith, Mary Fielding. Collection, ca. 1832–1848. CHL. MS 2779.

    Kimball, Heber C. “History of Heber Chase Kimball by His Own Dictation,” ca. 1842–1856. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL. MS 627, box 2.

  18. 18

    See Genesis 43:7, 27; 45:3.  

  19. 19

    See Psalms 27:5; 37:39; and Revelation, July 1828 [D&C 3:8].  

  20. 20

    See Matthew 25:36, 40, 46. Emma Smith visited JS three times in the Clay County jail: on 8–9 and 20–22 December 1838 and on 21 January 1839. (History of the Reorganized Church, 2:309, 315.)  

    The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 8 vols. Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1896–1976.