Letter to Lyman Wight and Others, 16 August 1834

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

August 16th 1834
Copy from Joseph S to the brethr[e]n in Zion
Dear Brethren and others the of the ——
After so long a time I dictate a few lines to you to let you know that I am in and that I found all well on my arival, as pertaining to health &c but found our common advisary had taken the advantage of our brothe[r] and others who gave a false colloring to allmost every transaction from the time that we left untill we returned, and thereby Stirred up a great difficulty in the Church against me accordingly I was met in the face and eyes as soon as I had got home with a catalogue that was as black as the author himself and the cry was Tyrant! Pope!! King!!! Usurper!!!! Abuser of men!!!!! Ange!!!!!! False proph[e]t!!!!! Prophecying Lies in the name of the Lord!!!!!!! and taking Consecrated monies!!!!!!!! and every other lie to fill up and complete the cattelogue that was necissary to perfect the Church to be meet for the devourer the shaft of the devouring <​distroying​> Angel! and in consequence of having to combat all these I have not been [p. 84] able to regulate my mind so as to write to give you council and the information that you needed, but that God who rules on high and thunders Judgments upon Israel when they transgress has given me power from the time that I was born (into this Kingdom) to stand and I have succeeded in putting all gainsayers and enemies to flight unto the present time and not withstanding the advisary Laid a plan which was more subtle than all others, I now swim in good clean pure water with my head out! as you will see by the next star
I shall now procede to give you such council as the spirit of the Lord may dictate you will reccollect that your business must be done by your : you will recollect that the are to receive their in before the redemption of you will reccollect that your high council will have power to say who of the first Elders among the Children of Zion are accounted worthy; and you will also reccollect that you have my testamony in be half of certain ones previously to my departure you will reccollect that the sooner that these ambassadors of the most high are dispatched to bear testamony to lift up a warning voice and to proclaim the everlasting gospel and to use every convincing proof and facculty with this generation while on their Journey. <​to *​> <​*The better it shall be for them and for Zion inasmuch as the indignation of the people sleepeth for a while our time should be employed to the best advantage altho it is not the will of God that any one of these ambassador should hold their peace afte[r] they have startd upon their Journey.​> They should awaken <​the​> sympathy of the people. I would reccommend to brother (If he is yet there) to write a petition such as will be approved of by the high council and let there be every signer obtained that can be in the State of and while they are on their Journey to this country that paradventure we may learn [p. 85] whithe [whether] we have friends or not in these ,
This petition to be sent to the of to solicit him to call on the President of the for a guard to protect our brethren in upon their own Lands from the insults and abuses of the Mob
And I would reccomend to to enter complaints to the as of ten as he receves any insults or injury, and in case that they procede to endeaver to take life or tear down homes, and if the citizens of , do not befriend us to gather up the little army and be set over Immediately into and trust in God and do the worst <​best​> he can in defending maintaining the ground, but in case the excitement continues to be allayed and peace prevails use every effort to prevail on the to to those regions and situate themselves to be in readiness to move into in two years from the Eleventh of September next which is the appointed time for the redemption of Zion, If Verely If I say unto you If the church with one united effort perform their duties If they do this the work shall be complete If they do not this in all humility making preperation from this time forth like Joseph in Egypt laying up store against the time of famine every man having his tent, his horses, his charrots [chariots] his armory his cattle his family and his whole substance in readiness against the time <​when​> it shall be said To your tents O Isreal!! and let not this be noised abroad let every heart beat in silence and every mouth be shut
Now my beloved brethren you will learn by this we have a great work to do, and but little time to do it in and if we dont exert ourselves to the utmost in gathering up the strength of the Lords house that this thing may be accomplished behold their remaineth a scorge* <​*for the Church even that they shall be driven from City to City and but few shall remain to receive an if these things are not kept there remaineth a scorge​> [p. 86] Also, Therefore be wise this once O ye children of Zion! and give heed to my council saith the Lord!
I would inform that the bill I received of him was good and when I can get <​our​> other money changed for another I will mail it to him the brethren as yet have generally been arived from , in health notwithstanding the warm season. I would also inform that I am not satisfied with bro Hulett conserning the colt and so long as unrighteousness acts are suffered in the it cannot [be] sanctified neither Zion be redeemed.
And also, that I was obliged to leave the consecratd horn in also bro who was sick we expect when he recovers that he will come to he was humble and I entertain no doubt as to his standing while he continues so we have a desire to Learn consernig [concerning] the Cholera and whether sister Bunnel is yet alive; as well as all deaths, the names and standing of those who are calld away &c. The Choler[a] is raging in and other places, We found it in [Missouri] as we came through and almost eve[r]y othe[r] place, in it <​is​> an awful and solomn day. but this is only the forebodings of what is to come, The church seems to be in a languid cold disconsolate state, and as the revolution of the earth is once in 24 hours so we may look for revolutions among this wicked and perverse generation and also in the Church of Christ! When the head is sick the whole body is faint, for when the church lifts up the head the Angel will bring us good tidings even so Amen
Joseph Smith Jr [p. 87]


  1. 1

    The Missouri high council was formed in early July 1834 before JS left Missouri for Kirtland, Ohio. (Minutes, 3 July 1834; Minutes and Discourse, ca. 7 July 1834.)  

  2. 2

    JS arrived in Kirtland sometime around 1 August. (JS History, vol. A-1, 528.)  

    JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). Historian’s Office, History of the Church, 1839–ca. 1882. CHL. CR 100 102, boxes 1–7. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.

  3. 3

    The devil.  

  4. 4

    For an explanation of Smith’s charges, see Minutes, 11 Aug. 1834.  

  5. 5

    It is unclear what word JS used here. A later JS history gives it as “angel.” Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives one definition of angel as “an evil spirit; as, the angel of the bottomless pit.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 533; “Angel,” in American Dictionary.)  

    JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). Historian’s Office, History of the Church, 1839–ca. 1882. CHL. CR 100 102, boxes 1–7. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.

    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.

  6. 6

    A council held on 11 August 1834 assigned Oliver Cowdery, Thomas Burdick, and Orson Hyde to compose an article stating that the council had found that JS had “acted in every respect in an honorable and proper Manner, with all monies and other properties entrusted to his charge.” This article was presented to another council on 23 August and took the form of a preamble and three resolutions. When it was published in the August 1834 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star, it also contained a statement signed by fifteen individuals who affirmed their satisfaction with the investigation, as well as a declaration signed by Lyman Johnson and Heber C. Kimball that stated they agreed with the resolutions’ depiction of JS’s conduct on the expedition. (Minutes, 11 Aug. 1834; Minutes, 23 Aug. 1834; Resolutions, ca. 23 Aug. 1834; “Conference Minutes,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Aug. 1834, 182.)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  7. 7

    The Missouri high council was to act in both judicial and administrative functions. (Historical Introduction to Minutes and Discourse, ca. 7 July 1834.)  

  8. 8

    A June 1834 revelation declared that God’s elders needed to “wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion.” The redemption would not happen until the elders were “endowed with power from on high.” The revelation continued that JS was the one who would choose “by the voice of the Spirit” those who would receive the endowment. On 23 June 1834, “a council of High Priests,” including JS, chose “some of the first Elders.” There are no extant instructions about the duty of the Missouri high council to choose others to go to Kirtland, but JS’s statement here suggests that he had provided such direction to the high council. (Revelation, 22 June 1834 [D&C 105:9–11, 35–36]; Minutes, 23 June 1834; see also Minutes and Discourse, ca. 7 July 1834; and Minute Book 2, 6–7 Aug. 1834.)  

  9. 9

    A June 1834 revelation stated that God would “give unto” the Saints “favor and grace” in the eyes of the people in western Missouri so that church members could “rest in peace and safety, whilst [they] are saying unto the people execute judgment Justice for us according to law, and redress us of our wrongs.” (Revelation, 22 June 1834 [D&C 105:25].)  

  10. 10

    TEXT: This insertion is written vertically in the left margin.  

  11. 11

    Phelps had been selected as one of the first elders to travel to Kirtland for an endowment, but he did not leave for Kirtland until April 1835. On 10 September 1834, he presented the petition to the Missouri high council. The council accepted it at that meeting. (Minutes and Discourse, ca. 7 July 1834; Whitmer, History, 70; Minute Book 2, 10 Sept. 1834; for a copy of the petition, see Petition to Daniel Dunklin, 10 Sept. 1834, copy, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL; and Whitmer, History, 68–70.)  

    Phelps, William W. Collection of Missouri Documents, 1833–1837. CHL. MS 657.

  12. 12

    Through the rest of 1834 and 1835, the petition circulated for signatures. On 31 December 1835, the Saints sent it to Governor Daniel Dunklin with several hundred signatures, although it is not clear how many of those were church members’ signatures and how many were non-Mormons’. (William W. Phelps et al., Kirtland, OH, to Daniel Dunklin, 30 Dec. 1835, copy; Daniel Dunklin, Jefferson City, MO, to William W. Phelps et al., Kirtland, OH, 22 Jan. 1836, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL.)  

    Phelps, William W. Collection of Missouri Documents, 1833–1837. CHL. MS 657.

  13. 13

    For more information on the Saints’ previous efforts to get Governor Daniel Dunklin and President Andrew Jackson to provide military protection, see Historical Introduction to Declaration, 21 June 1834.  

  14. 14

    A June 1834 revelation stated that “were it not for the transgression” of the church generally, Zion “might have been redeemed even now.” The revelation went on to state that “the church abroad” had not been willing to provide financial support and manpower for the Camp of Israel and was therefore under “condemnation.” (Revelation, 22 June 1834 [D&C 105:2, 7–8].)  

  15. 15

    See Genesis 41:47–49.  

  16. 16

    See 1 Kings 12:16; and 2 Chronicles 10:16.  

  17. 17

    In August 1833, Oliver Cowdery blamed some of the trouble that the Saints had in Jackson County on “those whose mouths are continually open, & whose tongues cannot be stayed from tatling!” A June 1834 revelation also told church members to “reveal not the things which” God had “revealed unto them” pertaining to Zion’s redemption. (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 10 Aug. 1833; Revelation, 22 June 1834 [D&C 105:23].)  

  18. 18

    Revelations in December 1833 and February 1834 instructed JS and others to gather up the strength of the Lord’s house, or God’s “wariors my young men and they that are of middle age,” so that Zion could be redeemed. The 22 June revelation informed the Camp of Israel that the redemption of Zion was postponed but instructed JS and the elders of the church to continue gathering the strength of the Lord’s house. (Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:55]; Revelation, 24 Feb. 1834 [D&C 103:22]; Revelation, 22 June 1834 [D&C 105:27].)  

  19. 19

    TEXT: This insertion is written at the end of page 87. (See Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:58]; and Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:31].)  

  20. 20

    According to the accounts kept for the Camp of Israel, JS received a fifty-dollar loan from Edward Partridge before returning to Kirtland. (Account with the Camp of Israel, ca. 11–29 Aug. 1834.)  

  21. 21

    Three Hulet men were members of the church in Missouri: Charles, Sylvester, and Francis. An account detailing JS’s expenditures from and contributions to the Camp of Israel’s general fund indicates that JS had a three-year-old colt worth forty-five dollars that he then “exchanged for the chock hors[e],” but it does not state from whom JS originally obtained the colt. (Johnson, Life History of Charles Hulet, 64; Account with the Camp of Israel, ca. 11–29 Aug. 1834.)  

    Johnson, Eldred A., comp. The Life History of Charles Hulet and His Wives, Anna Taylor, Margaret Noah, and Mary Lawson Kirkman. Lindon, UT: By the author, 1991.

  22. 22

    The “consecratd horn” may refer to the horn used by the Camp of Israel. According to George A. Smith, this horn was a “common brass french horn.” (George A. Smith, Autobiography, 24.)  

    Smith, George A. Autobiography, ca. 1860–1882. George Albert Smith, Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322, box 1, fd. 2.

  23. 23

    McLellin departed Missouri in July with JS’s group. According to a 22 July 1834 entry in McLellin’s journal, when the group got to Paris, Illinois, McLellin “was so sick that [he] could not travel on.” He asked the group to continue on and leave him to recover. He did not start again for Kirtland until 15 September, after he had spent some time proselytizing in the area. (George A. Smith, Autobiography, 50; McLellin, Journal, 22 July and 15 Sept. 1834.)  

    Smith, George A. Autobiography, ca. 1860–1882. George Albert Smith, Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322, box 1, fd. 2.

    McLellin, William E. Journal, July 1834–Apr. 1835. William E. McLellin, Papers, 1831–1836, 1877–1878. CHL. MS 13538, box 1, fd. 4. Also available as Jan Shipps and John W. Welch, eds., The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831–1836 (Provo, UT: BYU Studies; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).

  24. 24

    “Sister Bunnel” may be Esther Mendenhall Bunnell, the wife of Luther B. Bunnell, who lived in Washington, Indiana. If so, she apparently overcame her illness at this time because she lived well past 1834. (Whitney, History of Utah, 4:600.)  

    Whitney, Orson F. History of Utah. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons, 1904.

  25. 25

    Cholera was prevalent in the United States in summer 1834, especially along watercourses. One newspaper reported that seventy people died in Detroit from cholera between 2 and 14 August 1834. According to another report, cholera broke out in Buffalo in July 1834; by August, Buffalo was “the most afflicted city” in the state of New York. The disease also “extensively prevailed” in Cleveland. (“The Cholera,” New-York Spectator, 21 Aug. 1834, [2]; “This Day,” New-York Spectator, 25 Aug. 1834, [1]–[2]; “Board of Health,” New-York Spectator, 1 Sept. 1834, [2].)  

    New-York Spectator. New York City. 1804–1867.

  26. 26

    George A. Smith later remembered passing through Chariton on 12 July and finding the town “nearly abandoned, in consequence of the cholera, the inhabitants having fled in every direction.” (George A. Smith, Autobiography, 52.)  

    Smith, George A. Autobiography, ca. 1860–1882. George Albert Smith, Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322, box 1, fd. 2.

  27. 27

    See Isaiah 1:5.