Official Denunciation of Thieves at Nauvoo—The Moral Law of the Church—Abandonment of Ramus as a Stake of Zion—Baptism for the Dead, an Epistle.
Wednesday, 24.—Elder Joseph Fielding, who sailed from Liverpool, on the Tyrean, with 204 Saints, arrived at Warsaw with his company; and Elders Willard Richards and John Taylor went to meet them and to give such counsel as their situation required.
Affidavit of Hyrum Smith—Denouncing Theft.
Whereas it hath been intimated to me by persons of credibility that there are persons in the surrounding country, who profess to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have been using their influence and endeavors to instil into the minds of good and worthy citizens in the state of Illinois, and the adjoining states, that the First Presidency, and others in authority and high standing in said Church, do sanction and approbate the members of said Church in stealing property from those persons who do not belong to said Church, and thereby to induce persons to aid and abet them in the act of stealing, and other evil practices; I therefore, hereby disavow any sanction or approbation by me, of the crime of theft, or any other evil practice, in any person or persons whatever, whereby either the lives or property of our fellow men may be unlawfully taken or molested; neither are such things sanctioned or approbated by the First Presidency, or any other person in authority or good standing in said Church, but such acts are altogether in violation of the rules, order, and regulations of the Church, contrary to the teachings given in said Church, and the laws of both God and man. I caution the unwary, who belong to the aforesaid Church, and all other persons, against being duped or led into any act or scheme which may endanger their character, lives, or property, or bring reproach upon the Church; and I certify that I hold my person and property ready to support the laws of the land, in the detection of any person or persons who may commit any breach of the same. To which I subscribe my name, and testify, this 26th day of November, 1841.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 26th day of November, 1841.
Ebenezer Robinson, J. P.
I attended city council and presented a bill for “an ordinance in relation to Hawkers, Pedlars, Public Shows, and Exhibitions, in order to prevent any immoral or obscene exhibition,” which passed the council by unanimous vote.
The Prophet’s Estimate of the Book of Mormon.
Sunday, 28.—I spent the day in the council with the Twelve Apostles at the house of President Young, conversing with them upon a variety of subjects. Brother Joseph Fielding was present, having been absent four years on a mission to England. I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.
Monday, 29.—I gave the following affidavit, and published it in the Times and Seasons.
The Prophet’s Denunciation of Thieves.
City Of Nauvoo, Illinois, November 29, A.D. 1841.
To The Public.
The occurrence of recent events makes it criminal for me to remain longer silent. The tongue of the vile yet speaks, and sends forth the poison of asps, the ears of the spoiler yet hear, and he puts forth his hands to iniquity. It has been proclaimed upon the house top and in the secret chamber, in the public walks and private circle, throughout the length and breadth of this vast continent, that stealing by the Latter-day Saints has received my approval; nay, that I have taught the doctrine, encouraged them in plunder, and led on the van—than which nothing is more foreign from my heart. I disfellowship the perpetrators of all such abominations—they are devils and not Saints, totally unfit for the society of Christians or men. It is true that some professing to be Latter-day Saints have taught such vile heresies, but all are not Israel that are of Israel; and I wish it to be distinctly understood in all coming time, that the Church, over which I have the honor of presiding, will ever set its brows like brass, and its face like steel, against all such abominable acts of villainy and crime; and to this end I append my affidavit of disavowal, taken this day before General Bennet, that there may be no mistake hereafter as to my real sentiments, or those of the leaders of the Church, in relation to this important matter.
State Of Illinois, Hancock County.
Before me, John C. Bennett, Mayor of the City of Nauvoo, personally came Joseph Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church), who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith, that he has never directly or indirectly encouraged the purloining of property, or taught the doctrine of stealing, or any other evil practice, and that all such vile and unlawful acts will ever receive his unreserved and unqualified disapproval, and the most vigorous opposition of the Church over which he presides; and further this deponent saith not.
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Sworn to and subscribed before me, at my office, in the city of Nauvoo, this 29th day of November, A.D. 1841.
John C. Bennett,
L. S. Mayor of the City of Nauvoo.
Now it is to be hoped that none will hereafter be so reckless as to state that I, or the Church to which I belong, approve of thieving—but that all the friends of law and order will join in ferreting out thieves wherever and whenever they may be found, and assist in bringing them to that condign punishment which such infamous crimes so richly merit.
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Conference in New York.
A conference was held in New York City, Elder John E. Page presiding; in which were represented New York City, 17 Elders, 2 Priests, 1 Teacher, 2 Deacons, 179 members. Five branches were represented, including 5 Elders, 6 Priests, 3 Teachers, 3 Deacons, 149 members. 3 Elders, 2 Priests, 1 Teacher, were ordained. There were present at the conference, 1 Apostle, 6 High Priests, 16 Elders, 3 Priests, 2 Teachers, 2 Deacons.
Tuesday, 30.—Attended a council of the Twelve Apostles at President Brigham Young’s home. President Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Orson Pratt, Lyman Wight, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff were present.
It was voted that Ebenezer Robinson be solicited to give up the department of printing the Times and Seasons to Elder Willard Richards.
Voted, that if Brother Robinson does not comply with this solicitation, Elder Richards be instructed to procure a press and type, and publish a paper for the Church.
Moved by Elder Young, and seconded by Elder Woodruff, that Lyman Wight and John Taylor present these resolutions to Brother Robinson.
Wednesday, December 1.—In view of the proceedings of the meeting of the Church at Ramus, on the 18th November, when certain individuals were cut off from the Church for stealing, the Twelve issued the following epistle:
Warning of the Twelve Apostles Against Thieves.
We are glad that the perpetrators of the above crime have been caught in their iniquitous practices; and we are only sorry that anybody should be found who would bail them out of prison, for such individuals, if the charges are true, ought to be made an example of, and not be suffered to run at large.
We have been informed that some of them have been talking of moving into this place, but we would here inform them that persons whose conduct has exposed them to the just censure of an indignant public, can have no fellowship amongst us, as we cannot, and will not countenance rogues, thieves, and scoundrels knowingly; and, we hereby warn them that the law will be as rigorously enforced against them in this place as in any other, as we consider such characters a curse to society, whose pestilential breath withers the morals, and blasts the fame and reputation of any people among whom they may sojourn. There is no person that is, and ought to be despised more than the thief, by any respectable community; yet more especially ought such persons to be abhorred who have taken upon them the name of Christ, and thus with the pretext of religion, and garb of sanctity, cloak their nefarious practices.
We have been told that some individual or individuals have, under false pretenses, been wishing to palm their wicked and devilish principles upon the authorities of the Church, stating that it was part and parcel of the Gospel which God had revealed, and that it is one of the mysteries which the initiated only are acquainted with. We know not how to express our abhorrence at such an idea, and can only say that it is engendered in hell, founded in falsehood, and is the offspring of the devil; and it is at variance with every principle of righteousness and truth, and will damn all that are connected with it, for all mysteries are only such to the ignorant, and vanish as soon as men have sufficient intelligence to comprehend them; and there are no mysteries connected with godliness and our holy religion, but what are pure, innocent, virtuous, just, and righteous. If this [the foregoing practice of thieving] is a mystery, it is the “mystery of iniquity.” We are at a loss to know who could be vile enough to propagate such base and unfounded statements, and we would say to the Church, beware of such men! Set them down as the worst of scoundrels, and reject their foul insinuations with the indignation and disgust that such unhallowed and vile insinuations deserve; for such men are either avowed apostates, or on the eve of apostasy, or have only taken the name of religion to cloak their hypocrisy; we fear the latter, in some instances is the case, and that Mississippi scoundrels 1 palm themselves upon us to cover their guilt. We further call upon the Church to bring all such characters before the authorities, that they may be tried, and dealt with according to the law of God, and delivered up unto the laws of the land.
It is scarcely possible that any virtuous man could be made to believe any such statements, however ignorant; yet lest through false pretenses the innocent might be drawn into a snare, we would quote the following from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, section 42, paragraph 84, 85, “And if any man or woman shall rob, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of the land. And if he or she shall steal, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of the land.” Again, section 42, paragraph 20, 2 “Thou shalt not steal, and he that stealeth and will not repent shall be cast out.” The broad law of God is, “Thou shalt not steal,” and thieves, together with “liars and whoremongers,” will eventually be found without the city, with dogs and sorcerers. We need only say that if we find such characters engaged in their nefarious practices, whether in or out of the Church, we shall take them up, and deal with them according to the law of God and man; and we wish the Church to inform us of such delinquents, or the sin will lie at their own door.
As there are gangs of robbers up and down this river, from whom we have suffered much, having had many horses, cattle and other property stolen, we purpose instituting a police for the protection of our property, and the rigorous enforcement of the laws of our country; and should any, who call themselves Latter-day Saints, be found in their midst, they will be cut off from the Church, and handed over to the law of the land.
We hope that what we have written may suffice, and take this opportunity of expressing our decided and unqualified disapprobation of anything like theft in all its bearings, as being calculated to destroy the peace of society, to injure the Church of Jesus Christ, to wound the character of the people of God, and to stamp with eternal infamy all who follow such diabolical practices; to blast their character on earth, and to consign them to eternal perdition.
Heber C. Kimball,
Parley P. Pratt,
John E. Page,
George A. Smith.
Nauvoo, Illinois, December 1, 1841. 3
Thursday, 2.—I received the following revelation to Nancy Marinda Hyde—
Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have called upon me to know my will concerning my handmaid Nancy Marinda Hyde—behold it is my will that she should have a better place prepared for her, than that in which she now lives, in order that her life may be spared unto her; therefore go and say unto my servant, Ebenezer Robinson, and to my handmaid his wife—Let them open their doors and take her and her children into their house and take care of them faithfully and kindly until my servant Orson Hyde returns from his mission, or until some other provision can be made for her welfare and safety. Let them do these things and spare not, and I the Lord will bless them and heal them if they do it not grudgingly, saith the Lord God; and she shall be a blessing unto them; and let my handmaid Nancy Marinda Hyde hearken to the counsel of my servant Joseph in all things whatsoever he shall teach unto her, and it shall be a blessing upon her and upon her children after her, unto her justification, saith the Lord.
Saturday, 4.—I attended the city council, and spoke in defense of the marshal, in his not serving a warrant, when his life would have been endangered.
Conference at Ramus.
A conference was held at Ramus on the 4th and 5th of December, 1841, over which the Patriarch of the Church, Hyrum Smith, presided; Joseph Johnson acted as clerk; Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards and John Taylor, of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles were present. It was unanimously resolved by the conference that the organization of the Church at Ramus as a Stake be discontinued and that John Lawson be presiding Elder over the branch at Ramus, and Joseph Johnson, clerk; and that William Wightman, the Bishop, transfer all the Church property in Ramus to the sole Trustee in Trust, Joseph Smith, President of the whole Church.
Prophet Proof Reads Book of Mormon.
Sunday, 5.—I commenced to proof read the Book of Mormon, previous to its being stereotyped; read sixty pages.
In the evening Brother Wilford Woodruff and wife visited me. We conversed about the Missouri troubles, and the death of David W. Patten; also his last request. 4
Tuesday, 7.—The following is a copy of a letter to Lawyers Bushnell and Browning of Quincy:
Letter of the Prophet to Esquires Browning and Bushnell—Payment of Notes.
Esquires Browning and Bushnell:
Gentlemen:—Your letter of the 23rd ultimo, concerning two notes placed in your hands by Messrs. Halsted, Haines and Co., against myself and thirty-one others, for collection, was duly received. In reply, I must inform you, that I am not in possession of means, belonging to me individually to liquidate those notes at present; the reason is apparent to every one; I need not relate to you the persecution I have suffered, and the loss and confiscation of all my effects at various times as a reason of my inability; you know it all, and so do the gentlemen whose notes you hold for collection. But I wish you to say to them that if they will give me my time (and no more than I must necessarily have), they shall have their pay in some way or other. I have the means at command in the East, which, with a sufficient indulgence, will enable me to pay them every whit, but unless this is granted me, it will be impossible for me to do so. All I ask of those gentlemen and this generation is that they should not tie up my hands, nor thwart me in my operations. If this is granted me, I pledge my word, yea, my sacred honor, that all that can in fairness be demanded at my hands, either now or at any time shall ultimately be adjusted to the satisfaction of all concerned. This is all that I can say at this time, or do, hoping that you will communicate to Messrs. Holsted, Haines and Co. the contents, or at all events the purport of this letter, together with my sincere regard for their welfare, and as regards you, gentlemen,
I remain very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
Wednesday, 8.—The Twelve who attended the Ramus conference on the 4th instant returned with nearly a thousand dollars worth of property, consisting of horses, wagons, provisions, clothing, etc., for the Temple, which had been donated by the Saints at Ramus.
Friday 10.—I wrote to Horace R. Hotchkiss, Esq.
The Prophet’s Letter to Mr. Hotchkiss—Commerce Lands.
Dear Sir:—Your letters, dated October, 11th and November 9th, 1841, have both been received, and that of the 9th of November is now before me. I am glad that you are pleased with the proceedings of our last conference relative to “Mr. Hotchkiss purchase,” concerning which there had been some unpleasant feeling which had originated partly from a misunderstanding between us, and partly through the inefficiency, neglect or sickness of Dr. Galland. I wrote a letter to your friend and partner, Esquire Tuttle, some time since, which no doubt you have seen before now, and with which I hope you are also satisfied. I have handed your request to the editor of the Times and Seasons, who will forward you the desired papers. I am glad that James Ivins settled with you the $2,500 note, but sorry that you suffered yourself to lose in the sale of the land you had of him. As regards the Cook’s Mill Tavern stand, and the one hundred and thirty-seven acres of pine land, which you propose to allow the Church three thousand dollars for, I have to say in reply, that I have consulted, not only my own feelings as sole Trustee in Trust for the Church; but also the feelings of those of the Church whose opinions I can always rely upon in such matters, and the conclusion is that thirty-two hundred dollars is the least the property ought to be sold for. You can, therefore, have it for three thousand two hundred, which is considerably less than it cost the Church; we are willing to make a partial sacrifice in the property, but under the circumstances, think that you can afford to give us two hundred dollars more than you proposed. The health of our place is at this time pretty good, and we hope it may continue to improve, with the improvements of the city.
I remain very respectfully yours, &c.,
Saturday, 11.—Late this evening, while sitting in council with the Twelve in my new store on Water street, I directed Brigham Young, President of the Twelve Apostles, to go immediately and instruct the building committee in their duty, and forbid them receiving any more property for the building of the Temple, until they received it from the Trustee in Trust, and if the committee did not give heed to the instruction, and attend to their duty, to put them in the way so to do.
Elder Willard Richards has left Warsaw for Nauvoo, it being considered unnecessary for him to tarry there any longer.
The Prophet’s Difficulties in Writing the Annals of the Church.
Since I have been engaged in laying the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have been prevented in various ways from continuing my journal and history in a manner satisfactory to myself or in justice to the cause. Long imprisonments, vexatious and long-continued law-suits, the treachery of some of my clerks, the death of others, and the poverty of myself and brethren from continued plunder and driving, have prevented my handing down to posterity a connected memorandum of events desirable to all lovers of truth; yet I have continued to keep up a journal in the best manner my circumstances would allow, and dictate for my history from time to time, as I have had opportunity so that the labors and suffering of the first Elders and Saints of this last kingdom might not wholly be lost to the world.
Sunday, 12.—I preached in the morning at Snyder’s Hotel.
In the evening, the Twelve met in council at Brother Heber C. Kimball’s.
Monday, 13.—I appointed Willard Richards recorder for the Temple, and my private Secretary and general Clerk, and he commenced his labors in my new office in the brick store.
Anti Mormonism at Warsaw.
Some time in the fall of 1839, Daniel S. Witter, of the steam mill at Warsaw, solicited the First Presidency of the Church to make a settlement on the school section No. 16, one mile south of Warsaw, and the solicitations were continued by Daniel S. Witter, Mark Aldrich and others, from time to time, till the spring or summer of 1841, when articles of agreement were entered into between Calvin A. Warren, Esq., Witter, Aldrich and others, owners of the school section and the First Presidency, giving the Saints the privilege of settling on the school section, which had been surveyed and laid out in town lots, and called Warren, on certain conditions, and Willard Richards went to Warsaw on the 8th of September, and spent several weeks to prepare for the reception of immigrants. In the meantime the inhabitants of Warsaw attempted to form an anti-Mormon society, and were much enraged because Esquire Davis (who had spoken favorably of the Saints) was appointed clerk of the county by Judge Stephen A. Douglas.
In November two hundred and four Saints arrived at Warsaw, from England, led by Joseph Fielding, and were visited on the 24th of November by Elders Willard Richards, and John Taylor of the Twelve, and counseled to tarry at Warsaw according to the instruction of the First Presidency.
Further Trouble at Warsaw.
December 13.—Isaac Decker, presiding Elder at Warsaw, stated to the Presidency of Nauvoo, that Mr. Witter had raised one dollar per barrel on flour, and sold the sweepings of his mill to the Saints at $2.25 per hundred; and that Witter and Aldrich had forbidden the brethren the privilege of getting the old wood on the school section, which they had full liberty to get; that the price of wood on the wharf had fallen twenty-five cents per cord since the arrival of the Saints; that the citizens had raised their rent, &c.; and the First Presidency decided that the Saints should remove from Warsaw to Nauvoo immediately; and that the proceedings at Warsaw be published in the Times and Seasons.
This morning President Young delivered the message I gave him on Saturday evening to Reynolds Cahoon and Elias Higbee, the Temple Committe, in presence of Elders Kimball, Woodruff, and Richards.
Elder Richards by letter instructed the Saints at Warsaw to remove to Nauvoo.
Baptism For The Dead.
An Epistle of the Twelve Apostles to the Saints of the Last Days.
The building of the Temple of the Lord in the city of Nauvoo, is occupying the first place in the exertions and prayers of many of the Saints at the present time, knowing, as they do, that if this building is not completed speedily, “we shall be rejected as a Church with our dead;” for the Lord our God hath spoken it.
But while many are thus engaged in laboring and watching and praying for this all important object, there are many, very many more, who do not thus come up to their privilege and their duty in this thing, and in many instances we are confident that their neglect arises from a want of proper understanding of the principles upon which this building is founded, and by which it must be completed.
The children of Israel were commanded to build a house in the land of promise; and so are the Saints of the last days, as you will see in the Revelation given to Joseph the Seer, January 19, 1841, wherein those ordinances may be revealed which have been hid for ages, even their anointings and washings, and baptisms for the dead; wherein they may meet in solemn assemblies for their memorials, sacrifices, and oracles in their most holy places; and wherein they may receive conversations and statutes, and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundations of Zion, and the glory and honor and adornment of all her municipals through the medium which God has ordained.
In the same revelation the command is to “all the Saints from afar ” as well as those already gathered to this place: to arise with one consent and build the Temple; to prepare a place where the Most High may manifest Himself to His people. No one is excepted who hath aught in his possession, for what have ye that ye have not received? And I will require mine own with usury, saith the Lord; so that those who live thousands of miles from this place, come under the same law, and are entitled to the same blessings and privileges as those who have already gathered. But some may say, how can this be, I am not there, therefore I cannot meet in the Temple, cannot be baptized in the font? The command of heaven is to you, to all, gather; and when you arrive here, if it is found that you have previously sent of your gold, or your silver, or your substance, the tithing and consecrations which are required of you for this building, you will find your names, tithings and consecrations written in the Book of the Law of the Lord, to be kept in the Temple, as a witness in your favor, showing that you are a proprietor in that building, and are entitled to your share of the privileges thereunto belonging.
One of those privileges which is particularly attracting the notice of the Saints at the present moment, is baptism for the dead, in the font which is so far completed as to be dedicated, and several have already attended to this ordinance by which the sick have been made whole, and the prisoner set free; but while we have been called to administer this ordinance, we have been led to inquire into the propriety of baptizing those who have not been obedient, and assisted to build the place for baptism; and it seems to us unreasonable to expect that the Great Jehovah will approbate such administration; for if the Church must be brought under condemnation, and rejected with her dead, if she fail to build the house and its appurtenances, why should not individuals of the Church, who thus neglect, come under the same condemnation? For if they are to be rejected, they may as well be rejected without baptism as with it; for their baptism can be of no avail before God, and the time to baptize them may be appropriated to building the walls of the house, and this is according to the understanding which we have received from him who is our spokesman.
Let it not be supposed that the sick and the destitute are to be denied the blessings of the Lord’s house; God forbid; His eye is ever over them for good. He that hath not, and cannot obtain, but saith in his heart, if I had, I would give freely, is accepted as freely as he that gives of his abundance. The Temple is to be built by tithing and consecration, and every one is at liberty to consecrate all they find in their hearts so to do; but the tithings required, is one-tenth of all anyone possessed at the commencement of the building, and one-tenth part of all his increase from that time until the completion of the same, whether it be money, or whatever he may be blessed with.
Many in this place are laboring every tenth day for the house, and this is the tithing of their income, for they have nothing else; others would labor the same, but they are sick, therefore excusable; when they get well, let them begin; while there are others who appear to think their own business of more importance than the Lord’s. Of such we would ask, who gave you your time, health, strength, and put you into business? And will you not begin quickly to return with usury that which you have received? Our God will not wait always.
We would remind some two or three hundred Elders, who offered to go on missions, some six months, others one year, and some two years, and had their missions assigned them at the general conference to labor on the Temple, that most of their names are still with us, and we wish them to call and take their names away, and give them up to the building committee.
Brethren, you have as great an interest at stake in this thing as we have, but as our Master, even the Master-builder of the Temple, whose throne is on high, has seen fit to constitute us stewards in some parts of His household; we feel it important for us to see to it that our Master is not defrauded, and especially by those who have pledged their word, their time, their talents, to His services; and we hope this gentle hint will suffice, that we may not be compelled to publish the names of those referred to.
Probably some may think they could have gone on a mission, but cannot labor, as they have no means of boarding themselves, but let such remember that several score of brethren and sisters in this city, offered at the general conference, to board one or more laborers on the Temple till the same should be completed, and but few of those as yet have had the opportunity of boarding any one. To all such we would say, you are not forgotten, we have your names also, and we expect soon to send someone to your table, therefore put your houses in order and never be ready to refuse the first offer of a guest.
Large stores of provisions will be required to complete the work, and now is the time for securing it, while meat is plenty and can be had for one half the value that it can at other seasons of the year, and the weather is cool and suitable for packing. Let the brethren for two hundred miles around drive their fat cattle and hogs to this place, where they may be preserved, and there will be a supply till another favorable season rolls around, or till the end of the labor.
Now is the time to secure food, now is the time that the trustee is ready to receive your droves. Not the maimed, the lean, the halt, and the blind, and such that you cannot use; it is for the Lord, and He wants no such offering; but if you want His blessing, give Him the best, give Him as good as He has given you. Beds and bedding, socks, mittens, shoes, clothing of every description, and store goods are needed for the comfort of the laborers this winter; journeymen, stone cutters, quarrymen, teams and teamsters for drawing stone and all kinds of provision for men and beast, are needed in abundance.
There are individuals who have given nothing as yet, either as tithing or consecration, thinking that they shall be able to do a great deal some time hence if they continue their present income to their own use, but this is a mistaken idea. Suppose that all should act upon this principle, no one would do ought at present, consequently the building must cease, and this generation remain without a house, and the Church be rejected; then suppose the next generation labor upon the same principle, and the same in all succeeding generations, the Son of God would never have a place on the earth to lay His head.
Let every individual remember that their tithings and consecrations are required from what they have, and not what they expect to have some time hence, and are wanted for immediate use. All money and other property designed for tithing and consecrations to the building of the Temple must hereafter be presented to the Trustee in Trust, President Joseph Smith, and entered at the recorder’s office, in the book before referred to; and all receipts now holden by individuals, which they have received of the building committee for property delivered to them, must also be forwarded to the recorder’s office for entry, to secure the appropriation of said property according to the original design.
The Elders everywhere will instruct the brethren both in public and in private, in the principles and doctrines set forth in this Epistle, so that every individual in the Church may have a perfect understanding of his duty and privileges.
Heber C. Kimball,
Geo. A. Smith,
Nauvoo, Illinois, December 13, 1841.
1. This has reference to the blacklegs that infested the upper Mississippi region, and who plied their trade in disposing of counterfeit money and stolen goods along the river. The character of the old inhabitants in Northern Illinois at this time, (1840-44), Governor Ford describes in his “History of Illinois” as follows: “Then, again, the northern part of the State was not destitute of its organized bands of rogues, engaged in murders, robberies, horse-stealing, and in making and passing counterfeit money. These rogues were scattered all over the north; but the most of them were located in the counties of Ogle, Winnebago, Lee, and DeKalb. In the county of Ogle, they were so numerous, strong, and well-organized, that they could not be convicted for their crimes. By getting some of their numbers on the juries, by producing hosts of witnesses to sustain their defense by perjured evidence, and by changing the venue from one county to another, and by continuances from term to term, and by the inability of witnesses to attend from time to time at a distant and foreign county, they most generally managed to be acquitted.”
2. The above references are published to correspond in current editions of the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelation quoted was given as a law to the Church, February 9, 1831. It was given in the presence of twelve Elders, at Kirtland, in fulfillment of the promise that the Lord made to the church while yet located in New York, in a revelation commanding them to move from the eastern countries to the Ohio; “And there,” said the Lord, “I will give unto you my law, and there you shall be endowed with power from on high” (D&C 38:32). As introductory to the revelation the Prophet said under date of February 9: “According to the promise heretofore made, the Lord gave the following revelation embracing the Law of the Church;” and indeed, it is appropriately so called, for it embraces well nigh every moral law of the Gospel, and is a most valuable chapter of divine instructions to the church.
3. About this time there were gangs of robbers operating up and down the Mississippi River, from which the Saints suffered, as many of their horses and cattle were stolen, but more serious injury arose from the fact that the acts of these robbers were attributed to the Saints themselves, and did much to prejudice the minds of the public against them. Governor Ford in his “History of Illinois,” from 1814 to 1847 in referring to these charges against the Saints, and speaking of events taking place about this time in Nauvoo, said: “It was a fact also, that some larcenies and robberies had been committed, and that Mormons had been convicted of the crimes, and that other larcenies had been committed by persons unknown, but suspected to be Mormons. Justice, however, requires me here to say, that upon such investigation as I then could make, the charge of promiscuous stealing appeared to be exaggerated.” (History of Illinois, Ford, p. 329.)
The practice of charging these robberies upon members of the Church continued through the next three or four years. Speaking of the time somewhat later than the period with which our annals above deal, the Governor said: “On my late visit to Hancock county, I was informed by some of their violent enemies, that the larcenies of the Mormons had become unusually numerous and insufferable. They indeed admitted that but little had been done in this way in their immediate vicinity. But they insisted that sixteen horses had been stolen by the Mormons in one night, near Lima in the county of Adams. At the close of the expedition, I called at this same town of Lima, and upon inquiry was told that no horses had been stolen in that neighborhood, but that sixteen horses had been stolen in one night in Hancock county. This last informant being told of the Hancock story, again changed the venue to another distant settlement in the northern edge of Adams.” (History of Illinois, p. 331.)
And thus sensational reports of “Mormon stealings” were made the shuttle-cock between the battle-doors of various neighborhoods.
In addition to the very emphatic utterances of the Prophet Joseph, his brother Hyrum, and the Twelve, the Times and Seasons editorially said:
“We are highly pleased to see the very energetic measures taken by our citizens to suppress thieving. It has been a source of grief unto us that there were any in our midst who would wilfully take property from any person which did not belong to them, knowing that if any person, who does, or ever did belong to this Church, should steal, the whole Church would have to bear the stigma, and the sound goes abroad that the Mormons are a set of thieves and robbers, a charge which we unequivocally deny, and pronounce a falsehood of the basest kind. That there are some amongst us base enough to commit such acts we do not pretend to deny, but whether they are all members of this Church or not, we do not know; but some who are have been caught in their iniquity, and one was among the missing after a warrant was out for him; circumstantial proof is so strong against him, that his guilt is established without a doubt. We have heard that some of those characters have said that such things are sanctioned by the authorities of the Church, this is the most base of all lies: and we would here warn all well disposed persons, to be aware of such characters, and if any such thing is ever intimated to them, to heed it not, unless it be to report such persons to the proper authorities so that they can be brought to condign punishment; for know assuredly that if you listen to them, they will prove an adder in your path, and eventually lead you down to destruction.”—Times and Seasons,p. 615.