Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 March 1839

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

, Clay co. Mo. March 22nd, 1839.
Mr. ; Dear Sir:
I have just been privileged with a perusal of a letter, put into my hands by Mr. , which letter was directed to him, dated February 26th, 1839. and signed, . The contents of said letter expresses a sympathy and a good feeling towards the people and , which I have the high honor, of being their religious leader; I say high honor, more especially, because I know them to be an honorable, a virtuous, and an upright people. And that honor, vir [p. 51]tue, and righteousness is their only aim and object in this life. They are sir, a much injured, and abused people; and are greatly belied as to their true character. They have been fallen upon by a gang of ruffians and murderers, three times, in the state of ; and entirely broken up, without having committed the first offence: or without there being the least shadow in the very slightest degree of evidence, that they have done ought of any thing derogatory to the laws, or character, of the state of . And this last time of their being broken up; it is either my misfortune, or good fortune, (for I rather count it good fortune to suffer affliction with the people of God,) in connection with others of my brethren, to be made a severe sufferer, by the hands of the above mentioned rascals: they are supported by some portions of the authorities of the , either in consequence of prejudices, excited by foul calumnies, or else they themselves, are the fathers and instigators, of the whole diabolical and murderous proceeding.
I am bold to say sir, that a more nefarious transaction never has existed, since the days of Yore; than that which has been practiced upon us.— Myself and those who are in prison with me, were torn from our houses, with our wives and children clinging to our garments, under the awful expectation of being exterminated. At our first examination, the mob found one or two persons, of low and worthless character, whom they compelled, at the peril of their lives, to swear some things against us: which things, if they had been even true, were nothing at all, and could not have so much as disgraced any man under heaven. Nevertheless, we could have proved, by more than five hundred witnesses, that the things were false. But the Judge employed an armed force, and compelled us to abandon the idea of introducing witnesses, upon the peril of the lives of the witnesses. Under such circumstances, sir, we were committed to this , on a pretended charge of treason, against the State of , without the slightest evidence to that effect. We collected our witnesses the second time, and petitioned a : but were thrust back again into prison, by the rage of the mob; and our families robbed, and plundered: and families, and witnesses, thrust from their homes, and hunted out of the , and dare not return for their lives. And under this order of things, we, held in confinement, for a pretended trial: whereas we are to be tried by those very characters who have practiced those things, yea the very characters who have murdered some hundred men, women and children, and have sworn to have our lives also; and have made public proclamation that these men must and should be hung, whether they were innocent, or guilty. Such men too, sir, have made this proclamation, as , who is considered one of the most prominent men in the . This is according to the information I have received, which I suppose to be true. Their plea sir, is that the will be ruined, if the Mormon leaders are liberated, so that they can publish the real facts, of what has been practised upon them.
We are kept under a strong guard, night and day, in a prison of double walls and doors, proscribed in our liberty of conscience, our food is scant, uniform, and coarse; we have not the privilege of cooking for ourselves, we have been compelled to sleep on the floor with straw, and not blankets sufficient to keep us warm; and when we have a fire, we are obliged to have almost a constant smoke. The Judges have gravely told us from time to time that they knew we were innocent, and ought to be liberated, but they dare not administer the law unto us, for fear of the mob. But if we will deny our religion, we can be liberated. Our lawyers have gravely told us, that we are only held now by the influence of long faced Baptists; how far this is true, we are not able to say: but we are certain that our most vehement accusers, are the highest toned professors of religion. On being interogated what these men have done? their uniform answer is, we do not know, but they are false teachers, and ought to die. And of late boldly and frankly acknowledge, that the religion of these men, is all that they have against them. Now sir, the only difference between their [p. 52] religion, and mine, is, that I firmly believe in the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ, being the chief cornerstone. And speak as one having authority among them, and not as the scribes, and am liberal in my sentiments towards all men, in matters of opinion, and rights of conscience, whereas they are not. But enough of this. I feel highly gratified to learn of a man who had sympathy, and feelings of friendship towards a suffering, and an injured, and an innocent people: if you can do them any good, render them any assistance, or protection, in the name of suffering humanity, we beseach you, for God’s sake, and humanity’s sake, that you will do it. If you should see , I wish you would have the kindness to state to him, the contents of this letter; as we know him from information to be a man of character and a gentleman. I would be glad therefore, if it were possible that he, and not only him, but every other patriotic, and humane man, should know the real facts of our sufferings: and of the unjust and cruel hand that is upon us. I have been in this one year, the 12th, day of this month; I have never borne arms at any time. I have never held any office, civil or military in this . I have only officiated as a religious teacher, in religious matters, and not in temporal matters. The only occasion I have given, was to defend my own family, in my own door yard, against the invasions of a lawless mob: and that I did not at the expense of any man’s life: but risked my own in defence of an innocent family, consisting of a , five children, hired servants &c. My residence was in . I was surrounded with a noble, generous, and enterprising society, who were friendly to the laws, and constitution of our country: they were broken up without cause, and my family now as I suppose, if living, are in , Illinois.
We are informed that the prisoners in jail, , are much more inhumanly treated than we are; if this is the case, we will assure you, that their constitutions cannot last long, for we find ours wearing away very fast: and if we knew of any source whereby aid and assistance could be rendered unto us, we should most cordially petition for it: but where is liberty? Where is humanity? Where is patriotism? Where has the genius of the pedistal of the laws and constitution of our boasted country fled? Are they not slain victims at the feet of prejudice, to gratify the malice of a certain class of men, who have learned that their craft and creed cannot stand against the light of truth, when it comes to be investigated?— hence they resort to the vilest of the vile means, and to foul calumnies, and to physical force to do what? To deprive some fifty thousand, of the right of citizenship, and for what? because they are blasphemers? no: For this is contrary to their practice, as well as faith. Was it because they were tavern haunters, and drunkards? no. This charge cannot be substantiated against them as a people; it was contrary to their faith. And finally was it for any thing? no sir, not for any thing, only, that Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraced it felt himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and , falls at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft; hence the priests are alarmed, and they raise a hu-in-cry, down with these men! heresy! heresy! fanaticism! false prophet! false teachers! away with these men! crucify them! crucify them! And now sir, this is the sole cause of the persecution against the Mormon people, and now if they had been Mahomedans, Hottentots, or Pagans; or in fine sir, if their religion was as false as hell, what right would men have to drive them from their homes, and their country, or to exterminate them, so long as their religion did not interfere with the civil rights of men, according to the laws of our country? None at all. But the mind naturally being curious wants to know what those sentiments are, that are so at varience with the priests of the age, and I trust you will bear with me, while I offer to you a few of my reflections on this subject, and if they should not meet your mind, it may open a door for an exchange of ideas, and in the exercise of a proper liberality of spirit, it may not be unprofitable.
In the first place, I have stated above [p. 53] that Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the , is truth; for the name Mormon, and Mormonism, was given to us by our enemies, but Latter Day Saints was the real name by which the church was organized. Now sir, you may think that it is a broad assertion that it is truth; but sir, the first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same; we feel ourselves bound by the laws of God, to observe and do strictly, with all our hearts, all things whatsoever is manifest unto us by the highest degree of testimony that God has committed us, as written in the old and new Testament, or any where else, by any manifestation, whereof we know that it has come from God: and has application to us, being adapted to our situation and circumstances; age, and generation of life; and that we have a perfect, and indefeasible right, to embrace all such , and do them; knowing, that God will not command any thing, but what is peculiarly adapted in itself, to ameliorate the condition of every man under whatever circumstances it may find him, it matters not what kingdom or country he may be in. And again, we believe that it is our privilege to reject all things, whatsoever is clearly manifested to us that they do not have a bearing upon us. Such as, for instance, it is not binding on us to build an Ark, because God commanded Noah to build one.— It would not be applicable to our case; we are not looking for a flood. It is not binding on us to lead the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, because God commanded Moses. The children of Israel are not in bondage to the Egyptians, as they were then; our circumstances are very different. I have introduced these for examples: and on the other hand, “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not bare false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor his man servant, nor his maid servant, nor any thing that is thy neighbors.”
These sentiments we most cordially embrace, and consider them binding on us because they are adapted to our circumstances. We believe that we have a right to revelations, visions, and dreams from God, our heavenly Father; and light and intelligence, through the , in the name of Jesus Christ, on all subjects pertaining to our spiritual welfare; if it so be that we keep his commandments, so as to render ourselves worthy in his sight. We believe that no man can administer salvation through the gospel, to the souls of men, in the name of Jesus Christ, except he is authorized from God, by revelation, or by being by some one whom God hath sent by revelation, as It is written by Paul, Romans 10:14, “and how shall they believe in him, of whom, they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?” and I will ask, how can they be sent without a revelation, or some other visible display of the manifestation of God. And again, Hebrews, 5:4, “And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.”— And I would ask, how was Aaron called, but by revelation?
And again we believe in the doctrine of faith, and of repentance, and of for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the , and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. We believe in the doctrine of repentance, as well as of faith; and in the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sins as well as in the doctrine of repentance; and in the doctrine of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, as well as baptism for the remission of sins; and also, in like manner, of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Now all these are the doctrines set forth by the appostles, and if we have any thing to do with one of them, they are all alike precious, and binding on us. And as proof, mark the following quotations. Mark 16 chap., 15–16 verses, “and he said [p. 54] unto them go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and he that believeth and is shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Hear you will see the doctrine of faith: and again, Acts 2nd chap. 28 verse, “Then Peter said unto them repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the .” Hear you see the doctrine of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, connected by the promise inseperably. Now I want you to consider the high standing of Peter; he was now being with power from on high and held the of the kingdom of heaven. Mathew 16th chap. 19th verse, [“]and I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This was the character, Sir, that made the glorious promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost, predicated upon the baptism for the remission of sins: and he did not say that it was confined to that generation, but see further: Act[s] 2nd chap. 39th verse, “for the promise is unto you, and your children, and to all who are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Then, Sir, if the callings of God extend unto us, we come within the perview of Peter’s promise. Now where is the man who is authorized to put his finger on the spot and say, thus far shalt thou go and no farther: there is no man. Therefore let us receive the whole, or none. And again, concerning the doctrine of the . Act[s] 8th chap. 14th to 17th verse. Now when the apostles, which were at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; for as yet he was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.— Then laid they their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.— Acts 19th chap. 5th–6th verses.— When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.— And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied. We discover by these, the doctrine of the laying on of the hands.— And for the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment: Hebrews 6th chap. 2nd verse, of the doctrine of baptism, and of laying on of the hands, and of reserrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. I consider these to be some of the leading items of the gospel, as taught by Christ and his apostles, and as received by those whom they taught. I wish you would look at these, carefully and closely, and you will readily perceive that the difference between me and other religious teachers, is in the bible; and the bible and them for it: and as far as they teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is verily written, and are inspired, and called as was Aaron, I feel myself bound to bow with all defference to their mandates and teachings; but see Gallations, 1st chap. 6th to 10th verse. I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another Gospel; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Further, the 11–12 verses. But, I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Please Sir, to pardon me for having obtruded thus lengthy upon your feelings, as you are a stranger to me; and I know nothing of you, only what I have read in you[r] letter, and from that I have taken the liberty which I have. Be assured Sir, that I have the most liberal sentiments, and feelings of charity towards all sects, parties, and denominations; and the rights and liberties of concience, I hold most sa [p. 55]cred and dear, and dispise no man for differing with me in matters of opinion.
Accept Dear Sir, my best wishes for your welfare, and desire for further acquaintance, I close my letter, by giving you some quotations which you will have the goodness to read.
The second epistle of Paul to Timothy, 1:5–7. 2:10–14. 4:2–7. Ephesians 4:10–18. 1st Corinthians 12:1–31. 8:3–6. Ephesians 4:1–8. The 1st Epistle of John 1: Mathew, 3:13–17. St. John 3:1[–]16. 10:1–50. 28:18–20. St. Luke 24:45–53. If you wish another address on this subject, you have only to let me know, and it shall be attended to.
Yours truly,
N. B. If , or if the have not made a purchase of your land, and if there is not any one who feels a particular interest in making the purchase, you will hold it in reserve for us; we will purchase it of you at the proposals that you made to . We think the church would be wise in making the contract, therefore, if it is not made before we are liberated, we will make it.
Yours &c.
JOSEPH SMITH, Jr. [p. 56]


  1. 1

    See Isaac Galland, Commerce, IL, to David Rogers, [Quincy, IL], 26 Feb. 1839, in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 1–3.  

  2. 2

    Prior to the 1838 conflict, the Latter-day Saints in Missouri were forced to relocate on two occasions. In late 1833, vigilantes violently expelled church members from Jackson County. In 1836, non-Mormons asked church members in Clay County to leave to avoid a repeat of the Jackson County expulsion. (See Historical Introduction to Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov. 1833; and Historical Introduction to Letter to John Thornton et al., 25 July 1836; see also LeSueur, “Missouri’s Failed Compromise,” 113–144.)  

    LeSueur, Stephen C. “Missouri’s Failed Compromise: The Creation of Caldwell County for the Mormons.” Journal of Mormon History 31, no. 3 (Fall 2005): 113–144.

  3. 3

    See Hebrews 11:25.  

  4. 4

    Joseph Smith III recalled that when JS “was brought to the house by an armed guard I ran out of the gate to greet him, but was roughly pushed away from his side by a sword in the hand of the guard and not allowed to go near him. My mother, also, was not permitted to approach him and had to receive his farewell by word of lip only.” (“The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith,” Saints’ Herald, 6 Nov. 1934, 1414; see also Letter to Edward Partridge and the Church, ca. 22 Mar. 1839; and Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 42–43.)  

    Saints’ Herald. Independence, MO. 1860–.

  5. 5

    “Being exterminated” likely refers to the order that Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued on 27 October 1838 that “the Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary.” Lucy Mack Smith, JS’s mother, recalled the anxiety she and Joseph Smith Sr. felt after JS was arrested. After hearing several gunshots, they concluded that their son had been murdered. (Lilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, Fayette, MO, 27 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 16, [2].)  

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

  6. 6

    For more information on witnesses for the prosecution, see Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.  

  7. 7

    Hyrum Smith recalled that the prisoners submitted the names of sixty potential defense witnesses; only seven ultimately testified. Several Latter-day Saints recounted that officers of the court harassed and abused defense witnesses, discouraging individuals from testifying.  

  8. 8

    For more information on the November 1838 court of inquiry and the treason charge against JS, see Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.  

  9. 9

    On 22 January 1839, JS and the other prisoners appeared before Clay County justice Joel Turnham on a writ of habeas corpus. On 30 January, Turnham released Rigdon on bail but remanded the remaining prisoners to the Clay County jail. Attorney Peter Burnett recalled that there was considerable opposition in Clay County to Turnham’s decision to issue the writ of habeas corpus and allow the hearing. (See Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.)  

  10. 10

    JS’s home was ransacked during the state militia’s occupation of Far West, Missouri, in early November 1838. The other prisoners’ homes may have also been vandalized. The prisoners’ families were part of the forced exodus of the Latter-day Saints in spring 1839. (Historical Introduction to Declaration to the Clay County Circuit Court, ca. 6 Mar. 1839; Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 42; Letter from Edward Partridge, 5 Mar. 1839.)  

  11. 11

    TEXT: The Times and Seasons editors added a footnote here: “He was thus imformed by the Missourians.” For more information on the Latter-day Saint casualties during the October 1838 conflict, see Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.  

  12. 12

    Judge Austin A. King, who presided at the November 1838 hearing, reportedly stated in public that JS should be executed, regardless of whether he was convicted. On another occasion, King issued an arrest warrant for JS and Lyman Wight following a confrontation on 8 August 1838 with Adam Black, a Daviess County justice of the peace. King was then quoted as saying he was “in hopes that joseph smith jun & Lyman Wight would not be taken & tried acording to law so that they could have the pleasure of taking their scalps.” (Warner Hoopes, Affidavit, Pike Co., IL, 14 Jan. 1840, Record Group 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives, Washington DC; see also Affidavit, 5 Sept. 1838.)  

    Record Group 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives / Petitions and Memorials, Resolutions of State Legislatures, and Related Documents Which Were Referred to the Committee on Judiciary during the 27th Congress. Committee on the Judiciary, Petitions and Memorials, 1813–1968. Record Group 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1789–2015. National Archives, Washington DC. The LDS records cited herein are housed in National Archives boxes 40 and 41 of Library of Congress boxes 139–144 in HR27A-G10.1.

  13. 13

    Meacham Curtis, assistant to Justice Turnham, remembered Turnham stating that “he would have acquitted the prisoners” in January 1839 if not “for fear that they would be assassinated by a furious mob.” (Meacham Curtis, Affidavit, Bandera, TX, 23 July 1878, in Saints’ Herald, 15 Aug. 1878, 256.)  

    Saints’ Herald. Independence, MO. 1860–.

  14. 14

    See Ephesians 2:20.  

  15. 15

    See Matthew 7:29; and Mark 1:22.  

  16. 16

    Around the time JS wrote this letter to Galland, JS wrote a general epistle to the church, in which he described his thoughts on religious liberty and the denial of that right to the Latter-day Saints. (Letter to Edward Partridge and the Church, ca. 22 Mar. 1839.)  

  17. 17

    JS was probably responding to statements Galland made in his 26 February 1839 letter: “I wish to serve your cause in any matter which providence may afford me the opportunity of doing, And I therefore request that you feel no hesitancy, or reluctance in communicating to me your wishes, at all times, and on any subject.” Galland also wrote, “Accept dear Sir, for yourself, and in behalf of your church and people, assurance of my sincere sympathy in your sufferings and wrongs, and deep solicitude for your immdediately releif from present distress, and future triumphant conquest over every enemy.” (Isaac Galland, Commerce, IL, to David Rogers, [Quincy, IL], 26 Feb. 1839, in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 2, 3.)  

  18. 18

    Lucas served as governor of Ohio from 1832 to 1836, when the church was headquartered in Kirtland, Ohio. In 1838 he was appointed the first governor of Iowa Territory. In Galland’s 26 February 1839 letter, he reported on Lucas’s views toward the Latter-day Saints: “He respects them now as good and virtuous citizens, and feels disposed to treat them as such.” (Ryan, History of Ohio, 177; Isaac Galland, Commerce, IL, to David Rogers, [Quincy, IL], 26 Feb. 1839, in JS Letterbook 2, p. 1; see also Letter to Edward Partridge and the Church, ca. 22 Mar. 1839.)  

    Ryan, Daniel J. A History of Ohio, with Biographical Sketches of Her Governors and the Ordinance of 1787. Columbus, OH: A. H. Smythe, 1888.

  19. 19

    On 12 January 1838, JS departed Ohio for Missouri. By 12 March, JS had crossed into Missouri, and he arrived in Far West on 14 March, after traveling approximately eight hundred miles. (See JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, p. 16; Letter to the Presidency in Kirtland, 29 Mar. 1838; JS History, vol. B-1, 831.)  

  20. 20

    JS presented a similar idea in his mid-March 1839 petition for a writ of habeas corpus: “The prisoner has never commanded any military company nor held any military authority neither any other office real or pretended in the state of Missouri except that of a religeous teacher that he never has born armes in the military ranks and in all such cases has acted as a private charactor and as an individual how then can . . . it be posible that the prisoner has committed treason the prisoner has had nothing to do in Davis County only on his own buisines as an individual?” (Petition to George Tompkins, between 9 and 15 Mar. 1839.)  

  21. 21

    JS and Emma Smith were the parents of Julia Murdock (adopted), Joseph III, Frederick, and Alexander Smith. The fifth child JS referred to may have been Johanna Carter, an orphan who was apparently living with the Smiths in Far West. (See Letter to Emma Smith, 4 Apr. 1839.)  

  22. 22

    In 1838 Jonathan Barlow was “apointed Steward in the hous of President Joseph Smith.” Barlow’s duties entailed feeding and watering horses, cutting wood, and completing other odd jobs. The identities of JS’s other hired servants in Missouri remain elusive. (Israel Barlow, Autobiographical Statement, no date, Barlow Family Collection, CHL; Jonathan Barlow, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. [118], State of Missouri v. JS et al. for Treason and Other Crimes [Mo. 5th Jud. Cir. 1838], in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; see also Jonathan Barlow, Testimony, Liberty, MO, 12 Feb. 1839, State of Missouri v. Ripley et al. [J.P. Ct. 1839], Clay County Archives and Historical Library, Liberty, MO.)  

    Barlow Family Collection, 1816–1969. CHL.

    State of Missouri v. Ripley et al. / State of Missouri v. Alanson Ripley, Jonathan Barlow, William D. Huntington, David Holman, and Erastus Snow (J.P. Ct. 1839). Clay County Archives and Historical Library, Liberty, MO.

  23. 23

    JS’s wife Emma Smith and brother Don Carlos Smith sent letters to JS noting that Emma and the children arrived in Illinois in mid-February 1839 and found lodging with John and Sarah Kingsley Cleveland about four miles from Quincy, although Emma added that “I do not know how long I shall stay here.” Emma also informed her husband that their son Frederick was “quite sick.” As JS and Emma had already lost four children, JS may have feared for Frederick’s life. (Letter from Don Carlos Smith and William Smith, 6 Mar. 1839; Letter from Emma Smith, 7 Mar. 1839.)  

  24. 24

    In November 1838, Judge King ruled there was probable cause to believe that Parley P. Pratt, Norman Shearer, Darwin Chase, Luman Gibbs, and Morris Phelps murdered Moses Rowland during the skirmish at Crooked River, near Ray County, Missouri, on 25 October 1838. King ordered the men to be held for trial in the Ray County jail. As with the prisoners in Clay County, those in Ray County spent time confined in the jail’s small dungeon. Phelps noted that the conditions were filthy, the lighting was poor, the guards were abusive, and most visitors were turned away or closely watched. “Most of the time we had plenty to eat,” Phelps recalled, “but it was verry ruff, cornbread and bacon, was our principal diate.” The prisoners did have some privileges, including permission for their wives to stay in the jail. Although the conditions in the Ray County jail were not comfortable, it is unclear why JS believed the prisoners there were treated more severely than were the prisoners in the Clay County jail. (Ruling, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. [124]–[125], in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; Phelps, Reminiscences, [20]–[23]; Parley P. Pratt, Richmond, MO, to Mary Ann Frost Pratt, Far West, MO, 1 Dec. 1838, Parley P. Pratt, Letters, CHL; see also Baugh, “Final Episode of Mormonism in Missouri,” 1–34.)  

    Phelps, Morris. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 271.

    Pratt, Parley P. Letters, 1838–1839. CHL. MS 5828.

    Baugh, Alexander L. “The Final Episode of Mormonism in Missouri in the 1830s: The Incarceration of the Mormon Prisoners at Richmond and Columbia Jails, 1838–1839.” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 28 (2008): 1–34.

  25. 25

    There were approximately eight to ten thousand Latter-day Saints in Missouri in 1838. (Elias Smith, Far West, MO, to Ira Smith, East Stockholm, NY, 11 Mar. 1839, Elias Smith Correspondence, CHL; Heber C. Kimball, Far West, MO, to Joseph Fielding, Preston, England, 12 Mar. 1839, in Compilation of Heber C. Kimball Correspondence, CHL; LeSueur, 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, 35; Leonard, Nauvoo, 671–672n33.)  

    Smith, Elias. Correspondence, 1834–1839. In Elias Smith, Papers, 1834–1846. CHL.

    Heber C. Kimball Family Organization. Compilation of Heber C. Kimball Correspondence, 1983. Unpublished typescript. CHL.

    LeSueur, Stephen C. The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987.

    Leonard, Glen M. Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, a People of Promise. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2002.

  26. 26

    JS dictated a revelation in 1833 proscribing the consumption of wine and “strong drinks”—apparently distilled liquors—although “wine of your own make” was permitted for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. (Revelation, 27 Feb. 1833 [D&C 89:5–6].)  

  27. 27

    See “Priestcraft,” in American Dictionary.  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  28. 28

    See Mark 15:13–14; Luke 23:21; and John 19:6.  

  29. 29

    “Mahomedans” was a name Europeans used when referring to Muslims. JS’s advocacy for religious toleration of Muslims reflected the views of Thomas Jefferson and other national leaders who contended that religious liberty should extend beyond traditional Christian groups to include adherents of Islam. (See Spellberg, Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an, 3–11.)  

    Spellberg, Denise A. Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders. New York: Knopf, 2013.

  30. 30

    “Hottentots” was the name Dutch settlers gave to the Khoikhoi, a pastoralist indigenous people of southern Africa. One nineteenth-century gazetteer claimed that they had no recognizable religion prior to the arrival of Europeans. (Brookes, New Universal Gazetteer, 384–385; Thompson, History of South Africa, 10–11, 37.)  

    Brookes, R., and John Marshall, comps. A New Universal Gazetteer, Containing a Description of the Principal Nations, Empires, Kingdoms, States, Provinces, Cities, Towns, Forts, Seas, Harbours, Rivers, Lakes, Canals, Mountains, Volcanoes, Capes, Caverns, Cataracts, and Grottoes, of the Known World. . . . Philadelphia: W. Marshall and Co., 1839.

    Thompson, Leonard. A History of South Africa. 3rd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.

  31. 31

    Europeans and European Americans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries used the term pagan to describe the religions of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Africa. Some European Americans argued that these religions deserved legal toleration. (Pointer, “Native Freedom,” 169–194.)  

    Pointer, Richard W. “Native Freedom? Indians and Religious Tolerance in Early America.” In The First Prejudice: Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in Early America, edited by Chris Beneke and Christopher S. Grenda, 169–194. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.

  32. 32

    As early as June 1830, an outside observer noted that because JS’s followers “believe in the Book of Mormon, they bear the name Mormonites.” In the 1830s, journalists called the religion “Mormonism,” with church members referred to as “Mormonites” and “Mormons.” (Quinn, “First Months of Mormonism,” 331; see also “Western Tartary Fifty Years Ago,” Maryland Gazette [Annapolis], 7 Apr. 1831, [1]; “Forbearance of the Abolitionists,” Liberator [Boston], 29 Aug. 1835, 139; and Editorial, Sun [Baltimore], 10 June 1837, [1].)  

    Quinn, D. Michael. “The First Months of Mormonism: A Contemporary View by Rev. Diedrich Willers.” New York History 54 (July 1973): 317–333.

    Maryland Gazette. Annapolis. Jan. 1827–Dec. 1839.

    Liberator. Boston. 1831–1865.

    Sun. Baltimore. 1837–2008.

  33. 33

    In 1830 the church was organized as the “Church of Christ.” Four years later, the name was changed to the “Church of the Latter Day Saints.” In April 1838, JS dictated a revelation that combined the two names as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (See Revelation, 26 Apr. 1838 [D&C 115:3–4].)  

  34. 34

    Presumably, JS was referring to the various statements of belief that had been adopted periodically throughout the history of Christianity, such as the fourth-century Nicene Creed and later Protestant statements, including the 1784 Methodist Articles of Religion. These statements were intended to define a group’s doctrine, usually in contradistinction from other groups. (See Welch, “All Their Creeds Were an Abomination,” 228–249.)  

    Welch, John W. “‘All Their Creeds Were an Abomination’: A Brief Look at Creeds as Part of the Apostasy.” In Prelude to the Restoration: From Apostasy to the Restored Church: The 33rd Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, 228–249. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.

  35. 35

    See Genesis chaps. 6–8.  

  36. 36

    See Exodus chap. 14.  

  37. 37

    Exodus 20:13–17.  

  38. 38

    Romans 10:14–15.  

  39. 39

    See Hebrews 6:1–2.  

  40. 40

    Although cited as Acts 2:28, the quoted language comes from Acts 2:38.  

  41. 41

    The quotation here omits the beginning of verse 7: “Which is not another.”  

  42. 42

    John 10 has only 42 verses.  

  43. 43

    The biblical book of John has only 21 chapters. This reference was perhaps a printing error, with the intended reference being John 18:18–20 or Matthew 28:18–20.  

  44. 44

    Around the time that JS composed this letter, he wrote a general epistle to the church, in which he stated, “The church would do well to secure to themselves the contract of the Land which is proposed to them by Mr. Isaac Galland.” (Letter to Edward Partridge and the Church, ca. 22 Mar. 1839.)