Letter to John Whitmer, 9 April 1838

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

April 9th 1838
Sir. We were desireous of honouring you by giving publicity to your notes on the history of the , after such corrections as we thaught would be necessary; knowing your incompetency as a historian, and that your writings coming from your pen, could not be put to the press, without our correcting them, or elce the Church must suffer reproach; Indeed Sir, we never supposed you capable of writing a history; but were willing to let it come out under your name notwithstanding it would realy not be yours but ours. We are still willing to honour you, if you can be made to know your own interest and give up your notes, so that they can be corrected, and made fit for the press. But if not, we have all the materials for another, which we shall commence this week to write
your humble Servents
Attest Joseph Smith Jr
Clerk of the whole
Church of Latterday Saints
[p. 28]


  1. 1

    Besides his historical notes and manuscript history, Whitmer apparently had letters, membership rosters, minutes of meetings, and other documents. (Historical Introduction to Whitmer, History.)  

  2. 2

    Decades later, Ebenezer Robinson recounted that the church attempted to obtain Whitmer’s historical writings and other church records before JS and Rigdon wrote the letter but that Whitmer refused to relinquish the items. This failed attempt, which may have influenced the insulting tone of the subsequent letter from JS and Rigdon, may have been made by Ebenezer Robinson or George W. Robinson after the Zion high council meeting held on 6 April. (Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor,” Return, Sept. 1889, 133.)  

    The Return. Davis City, IA, 1889–1891; Richmond, MO, 1892–1893; Davis City, 1895–1896; Denver, 1898; Independence, MO, 1899–1900.

  3. 3

    When a mob razed the Mormon print shop in Independence, Missouri, in 1833, the church formed a new printing establishment in Kirtland, Ohio. Now that JS was living in Far West and loyal Saints in Kirtland were preparing to follow him, he may have planned to reestablish the church’s printing operations in Missouri. (See Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:17–20.)  

    Crawley, Peter. A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. 3 vols. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997–2012.

  4. 4

    When JS, Rigdon, and Robinson started writing a new history, they had access to copies of JS’s revelations, correspondence, and other documents, some of which were later incorporated in the history. (JS, Journal, 27 Apr. 1838; Historical Introduction to History Drafts, 1838–ca. 1841.)  

  5. 5

    Ebenezer Robinson had recently been appointed “Church Clerk and Recorder for this stake of Zion and Clerk for the high Council.” (Minutes, 6 Apr. 1838.)