Letter to John Corrill and the Church in Missouri, 4 September 1837

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Sept 4th A.D. 1837
Geauga Co. Ohio
Joseph Smith Jr. of the in all the world
To & the whole Church in [p. 18] Sendeth greeting, Blessed be the God of and father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has blessed you with many blessings in Christ, And who has delivered you many times from the hands of your enimies And planted you many times in an heavenly or holy place, My respects & love to you all, and my blessings upon all the faithfull & true harted in the & for as much as I have desired for a long time to see your faces, & converse with you & instruct you in those things which have been revealed to Me partaining to the Kingdom of God in the last days, I now write unto you offering an appolegy [apology], My being bound with bonds of affliction by the workers of iniquity and by the labours of the endeaveroung in all things to do the will of God, for the salvation of the Church both in temporal as well as spiritual things. Bretheren we have waided through a scene of affliction and sorrow thus far for the will of God, that language is inadequate to describe pray yea therefore with more earnestness for our redemption, You have undoubtedly been informed by letter & otherwise of our difficulties in which are now about being settled and that you may have a knowledge of the same I subscribe to you the following minuits of the comittee, of the whole Church of the authorities &.c. refering you to my brother & br. for further particulars also that you [p. 19] may know how to proceed to set in order & regulate the affairs of the in whenever they become disorganized The minuits are as follows;
Minuits of a assembled in committee of the whole Church on the 3rd. of Sept. 1837 9 o clock A.M. was called upon to take the minuits of the conference, then presented Joseph Smith Jr to the Church to know if they still looked upon & would still receive & uphold him as the of the whole Church And the vote was unanymous in the affirmative: Prst. Smith then presented & for his councilors and to constitute with himself the three first Prest. of the Church. Vote unanymous in the affirmative, Prest. Smith then introdused , & for assistant Councilors. These last four together with the three first are to be concidred [considered] the heads of the Church, Carried unanymously. Voted that hold his office as & continue to act as such in & that & continue to act as councilors to the Bishop The were then presented one by one When , were received unanymously in their & & were rejected & cut off though privileged with conffesing and making sattisfaction, (which was the only one present at the time) arose and endeavoured to confess, Justifying himself in <​on​> <​in​> his former conduct by reason of the failure of the &c his conduct was strongly protested by [p. 20]
in a plain and energetic manner, Stating verious reasons why he would or could not receive him into fellowship until a hearty conffession and repentance was manifested, He was followed by who acquiesed in testimo[n]y & resolutions again arose & still attributed his difficulties to the failure of the , stating that he had understood the Bank was instituted by the will of God, and he had been told that it never should fail let men do what they would Prest. Smith then arose and stated that if this had been declared, no one had authority from him for so doing, For he had allways said unless the institution was conducted on richeous [righteous] principals it would not stand, A Vote was then taken to know if the congregation was sattisfied with s confession Voted in the negative Conf— Adjourened for one hour——
assembled at 2 o clock P M. Op[e]ned by reading singing & prayer, The Prest. then arose & said he would call upon the church to know if they were sattisfied with their and should proceed to name them individualy & <​*​> wire [were] objected to, also but this case put over untill he should be present, , These were voted to retain their office & were chosen to fill the place of those objected to, The Prest. then called upon the congregation to know if the recent appointed presidents of the should stand in their calling Voted that [p. 21]
& should retain his <​their​> office as Prests of the was objected. The Pres then arose and made some remarks concerning the formers Prests of the Seventies, the callings and authorities of their &c. &c. Voted that the old Presidents of the seventies be refered to the of , And also that of if any of the members of the quorum of the seventies should be dissattisfied & would not submit to the Present order, and receive these last Presidents that they Should have power to demand their & they should no longer be concidered members of the
Closed by Prayer by the President
Joseph Smith Jr Prest  Clerk
 Clk Joseph Smith Jr Prest
Dear Brotheren
has been in transgression, but as he is now chosen as one of the I trust that he will yet humble himself & magnify his calling but if he should not, the will soon be under the necessaty of raising their hands against him Therefore pray for him, & others have been in transgression but we hope that they may be humble & ere long make sattisfaction to the Church otherwise they cannot retain their standing, Therefore we say unto you beware of all disaffected Characters for they come not to build up but to destroy & scatter abroad, Though we or an Angel from Heaven preach any other Gospel or introduce [any other?] order of things <​than​> those things which ye have received and are authorized to received from the first Presidency let him be accursed, May God Almighty Bless you all & keep you unto the coming & kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; Yours in the Bonds of the new <​covenent​>— J. Smith, Jr.
over * [p. 22]
was objected to by reason of his absence on a mission and circumstances such that it is impossible for him to attend to the duties of this office
J. Smith Jr Prest  (Clerk
[p. 23]


  1. 1

    The title of president of the church “in all the world” emphasized JS’s authority over the church in Missouri and its presidency. George W. Robinson copied this letter into JS’s journal in mid-March 1838, after a 7 November 1837 conference held in Far West, Missouri, upheld JS as “the first President of the whole Church, to preside over the Same,” in essence repeating the action that Kirtland church members took in unanimously sustaining JS as the “presiding officer of the church” at the 3 September 1837 conference. (JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, 18–23; Minutes, 7 Nov. 1837; Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837.)  

  2. 2

    JS’s vision of a Zion that included both temporal and spiritual aspects drew increasing criticism as 1837 wore on. (See Introduction to Part 6: 20 Apr.–14 Sept. 1837; Historical Introduction to Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 23 May 1837; Historical Introduction to Letter from Abel Lamb and Others, ca. 28 May 1837; Historical Introduction to Charges against JS Preferred to Bishop’s Council, 29 May 1837; and Revelation, 23 July 1837 [D&C 112].)  

  3. 3

    What follows is a later version of the official minutes of the conference found in Minute Book 1. For the complete text of the official version and annotation of these 3 September 1837 minutes, including significant differences between the two sets of minutes, see Minutes, 3 Sept. 1837.  

  4. 4

    TEXT: The asterisk, inscribed in the margin next to Harris’s name, references a note reading “over *” that appears at the foot of manuscript page 22. This “over” footnote refers the reader to the top of manuscript page 23, which adds part of a mistakenly passed-over section of minutes.  

  5. 5

    It is not clear what specific misdeed this refers to. In April 1838 Cowdery was brought before the Missouri high council on a variety of charges and was excommunicated from the church. It is likely that there is a connection between this mention of transgression and at least one of those charges. (See Oliver Cowdery, Far West, MO, to Warren A. Cowdery, 21 Jan. 1838; Oliver Cowdery, Far West, MO, to Warren A. Cowdery and Lyman Cowdery, [Kirtland, OH], 4 Feb. 1838, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 80–86; Fullmer, Autobiography, [1]; and Synopsis of Oliver Cowdery Trial, 12 Apr. 1838.)  

    Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

    Fullmer, Desdemona Wadsworth. Autobiography, 7 June 1868. Desdemona Wadsworth Fullmer, Papers, 1868. CHL. MS 734.

  6. 6

    David Whitmer’s name is included among the dissenters in a late May 1837 complaint by Abel Lamb and others. According to that complaint, Whitmer and others had pursued a “course for some time past” that had been “injurious to the church of God.” Whitmer, like Oliver Cowdery, was preparing to leave Kirtland to return to Missouri in early September 1837. Whitmer’s standing as president of the church in Missouri was called into question by Thomas B. Marsh on 7 November 1837. Whitmer had been proposed by some to replace JS as church president in February 1837 and was later excommunicated after charges were brought against him for, among other matters, “uniting with and possesing the same spirit of the desenters.” (Letter from Abel Lamb and Others, ca. 28 May 1837; Minutes, 7 Nov. 1837; Woodruff, Journal, 19 Feb. 1837; Synopsis of David Whitmer and Lyman Johnson Trials, 13 Apr. 1838; Minute Book 2, 15 Mar. 1838.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  7. 7

    Leonard Rich was among the church dissenters who signed Warren Parrish’s inflammatory 5 February 1838 letter to the editor of the Painesville Republican. (Warren Parrish, Kirtland, OH, 5 Feb. 1838, Letter to the Editor, Painesville [OH] Republican, 15 Feb. 1838, [3]; see also “Mormonism,” Zion’s Watchman, 24 Mar. 1838, 46.)  

    Painesville Republican. Painesville, OH. 1836–1841.

    Zion's Watchman. New York City. 1836–1838.

  8. 8

    There was great division within the church in Kirtland throughout 1837, with many accusing JS of poor leadership and improper conduct. According to Wilford Woodruff, the “spirits of murmering, complaining, & of mutiny” had been brewing “untill many & some in high places had risen up against” JS and were “striving to overthrow his influence & cast him down.” (Woodruff, Journal, 28 May 1837; see also Introduction to Part 6: 20 Apr.–14 Sept. 1837; and Historical Introduction to Letter from Abel Lamb and Others, ca. 28 May 1837.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  9. 9

    Soon after the 3 September 1837 conference, Cowdery and Whitmer left Kirtland. Both arrived in Missouri weeks before JS and Sidney Rigdon, and both were in attendance at the 7 November 1837 conference in Missouri. (Minutes, 17 Sept. 1837–A; Minutes, 7 Nov. 1837.)  

  10. 10

    See Galatians 1:8.