Letter to Thomas Ford, 21 August 1843

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The following communications are forwarded for the consideration of his Excellency, the .—
(Copy)
August 11th 1843
President Smith,
Dr. Sir,
I send you enclosed a letter which I have received a day or two since from , Mo, & which being from an authentic source, will serve to shew something of the state of public feeling there, as well as in what manner the matter of your arrest has affected private, individual feelings, and invaded the relations of private life.— The other half of the sheet has been torn off and mutilated by accident, but it contained nothing important, or which would tend to qualify or explain the sense of what is herewith enclosed. The letter was signed “J[acob] Hall,” who is an old acquaintance and has heretofore been a very intimate and dear friend of mine, and who is now a Lawyer at , and has, I beleive, considerable standing and influence in — I have answered the letter, and barely told my correspondent that he was deceived as to both law and facts, and that any further correspondence with him would be unpleasant.—
The popular excitement in this vicinity which was caused by your arrest has in a measure died away; but there is an anti-Mormon party springing up in this , [p. [1]]
particular[l]y about Inlet & Palestine Groves, from whom we who have shewn ourselves your friends, encounter no small share of odium and reproach. But, be this as it may, I for one, shall never shrink from any responsibility I have incurred & shall always be ready to vindicate the proceedings of your case, and, when occasion requires, my own as well as your conduct towards the Ruffian .— I have lately been a candidate for Judge of Probate in this , & have been defeated principally for the reason that a story was circulated by my political enemies that I had joined the “Mormons” and had actually preached the mormon doctrine while in , How ridiculous! I care not for my defeat; that is a trifling matter— but I am at a loss whether to laugh at or mourn for the Gullibility of the people— also lost strength in this for a similar reason.
I am yours Respty
(signed)
The fo[llo]wing is a copy of the letter of “J. Hall” referred to above.
, Mo, July 23d 1843,
My Dear Old Friend,
Your letter dated on the 12th and mailed on the 14th inst, is just at hand, and not being able to answer your questions correctly, or advise you judiceously, in relation to the case, until after I see him, and some others of my friends, I will postpone that part of my <​this​> letter <​un​>till tomorrow, and in the mean time will say such things as I can write about without much reflection. , upon his return, gave me his compliments, from you, and for the first time I learned that you resided in . He also gave a narrative of his adventures in your state, which was any think thing but favorable, either to the reputations of your people, or yourself, as a law-abiding people, or a profound or honest lawyer, certainly there can be but little virtue in the community, and little honesty in [p. 2]
the officers of law, who will trample upon the form of Justice, the laws of the country, and bid open defiance to both, in the manner that informs us that you acted with him after his arrest of the Mormon Prophet. That the State courts have a right, upon a writ of Habeas Corpus, to investigate the legality of all imprison[ment] within their respective chartered limits, whether such imprisonment is by the authority of the or of a State, no sound lawyer perhaps will doubt, but it is equally certain that no court upon such writ, has any right to go beyond the forms, & the “prima facie” evidence of the case— If the officers of courts and the community are so corrupt as to disregard their own laws and trample them under their feet & liberate their criminals in defiance of law, then it appears to me that the power of self government is extinct. If by her own authority cannot capture the prophet, it will be but a small matter to raise volunteers enough here to raze the city of to the ground— If fails to deliver up Jo Smith, there will be something serious between the two states. will have Jo Smith for trial or impose as powerful restrictions as the constitution will allow upon the intercourse of the citizens of in . If the of is so imbecile as to allow his warrant to be disregarded by the Mormons &. permit the Prophet. to go at large, then let him be impeached and a more honorable & energetic man be placed in his stead. I have it from a high source that will hold the whole responsible for the treatment of our messenger and for the delivery of the prophet. Had you liberated the prophet by a regular writ of the “Habeas corpus” without mistreating our , I should have gloried in my acquaintance with you, but to have done it it in the manner it was done, reflects no honor either on yourself, your people or your government, The Mormons are only a lawless bandittie & I fear the pestilence has contaminated the whole community, & if opinion be correct, yourself amongst the rest, Holy Jo was not afraid of the “injustice of our people.” It is the just punishment and their violated laws that he fears, I will now give you an impartial opinion of the prejudices again[s]t , here, and my opinion of his guilt,— There is not a man in this community but believes him guilty, There is a chain of circumstances against him so strong that no rational man can doubt his guilt.— I was at house two minutes after the deed it is in sight of mine, & &, the insidiousness of the offence renders it difficult to restrain the citizens from hanging him up without Judge or jury. So far however we have succeeded in quelling it. But should he be discharged upon trial the power of man cannot save him, (more tomorrow)
By the foregoing copy <​enclosed letter of—​> of Mr Hall’s (forwarded me by whose letter I also enclose) letter, your is apprized of the feelings of a part of ; How far such is the case in all the , I know not, and care not, for the “mormons” are not very apprehensive that a company of “volunteers” will come to “raze to the ground” for some time; But as this letter comes from a high source, and refers to a still higher source, that the state of will hold the State of responsible for their treatment of and the delivery of the prophet,— It was thought adviseable to give your the privilege of seeing and knowing for himself. Our people are <​as​> patriots, feel bound to maintain your honor and reputation, as well as that of the , in company with that of their own; and when any danger actually threatens, if your send the necessary order, we will endeavor to defend the honor of the , of the , as and of , [p. 3] according to the law of the land. I should be pleased to recieve your ’s view on this view of the subject.
you With respect,
your ’s most obt and hu[m]ble sevat [servant]
Joseph Smith.—
By his clerk, .
August, 21, 1843}
His Excellency, ,
Governor of the State of
<​Copy of a letter to — Aug 22— 1843— and Hall’s. & s— Letters.​>
<Aug 21.1843
Joseph Smith to > [p. [4]]

Footnotes

  1. new scribe logo

    Docket in handwriting of Willard Richards.  

  2. new scribe logo

    Docket in handwriting of Leo Hawkins.