Address of the Prophet—His Prophetic Calling and the Resurrection—Status of Affairs at Nauvoo—Hyde’s Reports from Washington on the Western Movement—Oregon.
Thursday, May 9, 1844.—A court-martial was held in my office for the trial of Major-General Wilson Law, on a charge of ungentlemanly and unofficer-like conduct. Present—Generals Hyrum Smith, Charles C. Rich, Lyman Wight, George Miller and Albert P. Rockwood; Cols. John Scott and Hosea Stout; Judge-Advocate John Taylor; and Secretary Thomas Bullock. The charge was sustained and Wilson Law cashiered.
Theatricals in Nauvoo.
Evening, attended theatre, and saw “Damon and Pythias” and “The Idiot Witness” performed.
Elders Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith called upon me this morning, and said they were ready to start on their mission to attend the conferences appointed throughout the north of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. I blessed them in the name of the Lord, and told them to go, and they should prosper and always prosper. They left in company with Elders Jedediah M. Grant and Ezra Thayer.
Friday, 10—Rode out after breakfast to the prairie to sell some land to some brethren.
The court-martial was held in the Mayor’s office on the charge against Robert D. Foster, Surgeon-General, for unbecoming and unofficer-like conduct, &c.; Brigadier-General George Miller presiding. The charges were sustained.
A prospectus of the Nauvoo Expositor was distributed among the people by the apostates.
The jury of Lee county, Illinois, awarded $40 damages and the costs against Joseph H. Reynolds and Harmon T. Wilson for illegal imprisonment and abuse, which I suffered from them last June in that county.
Saturday, 11.—At 10 A.M. I attended City Council, and stayed till half-past eleven; but there not being a quorum, adjourned until next regular session. At 1 P.M. at my office, and had a conversation with Mr. Lyne on the theatre; and at 6 P.M. attended prayer meeting; John P. Greene and Sidney Rigdon present. Several showers of rain during the day. The Nauvoo Legion had a company muster.
Sunday, 12.—At 10 A.M. I preached at the Stand. The following brief synopsis of my discourse was reported by my clerk, Thomas Bullock:
President Joseph Smith’s Address—Defense of his Prophetic Calling—Resurrection of the Dead—Fullness of Ordinances Necessary Both for the Living and Dead.
The Savior has the words of eternal life. Nothing else can profit us. There is no salvation in believing an evil report against our neighbor. I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness. A man can do nothing for himself unless God direct him in the right way; and the priesthood is for that purpose.
The last time I spoke on this stand it was on the resurrection of the dead, when I promised to continue my remarks upon that subject. I still feel a desire to say something on this subject. Let us this very day begin anew, and now say, with all our hearts, we will forsake our sins and be righteous. I shall read the 24th chapter of Matthew, and give it a literal rendering and reading; and when it is rightly understood, it will be edifying. [He then read and translated it from the German].
I thought the very oddity of its rendering would be edifying anyhow—“And it will preached be, the Gospel of the kingdom, in the whole world, to a witness over all people: and then will the end come.” I will now read it in German [which he did, and many Germans who were present said he translated it correctly].
The Savior said when these tribulations should take place, it should be committed to a man who should be a witness over the whole world: the keys of knowledge, power and revelations should be revealed to a witness who should hold the testimony to the world. It has always been my province to dig up hidden mysteries—new things—for my hearers. Just at the time when some men think that I have no right to the keys of the Priesthood—just at that time I have the greatest right. The Germans are an exalted people. The old German translators are the most correct—most honest of any of the translators; and therefore I get testimony to bear me out in the revelations that I have preached for the last fourteen years. The old German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew translations all say it is true: they cannot be impeached, and therefore I am in good company.
All the testimony is that the Lord in the last days would commit the keys of the priesthood to a witness over all people. Has the Gospel of the kingdom commenced in the last days? And will God take it from the man until He takes him Himself? I have read it precisely as the words flowed from the lips of Jesus Christ. John the Revelator saw an angel flying through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth.
The scripture is ready to be fulfilled when great wars, famines, pestilence, great distress, judgments, &c., are ready to be poured out on the inhabitants of the earth. John saw the angel having the holy priesthood, who should preach the everlasting Gospel to all nations. God had an angel—a special messenger—ordained and prepared for that purpose in the last days. Woe, woe be to that man or set of men who lift up their hands against God and His witness in these last days: for they shall deceive almost the very chosen ones!
My enemies say that I have been a true prophet. Why, I had rather be a fallen true prophet than a false prophet. When a man goes about prophesying, and commands men to obey his teachings, he must either be a true or false prophet. False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones.
The doctrine of eternal judgments belongs to the first principles of the Gospel, in the last days. In relation to the kingdom of God, the devil always sets up his kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God. Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council. It is the testimony that I want that I am God’s servant, and this people His people. The ancient prophets declared that in the last days the God of heaven should set up a kingdom which should never be destroyed, nor left to other people; and the very time that was calculated on, this people were struggling to bring it out. He that arms himself with gun, sword, or pistol, except in the defense of truth, will sometime be sorry for it. I never carry any weapon with me bigger than my penknife. When I was dragged before the cannon and muskets in Missouri, I was unarmed. God will always protect me until my mission is fulfilled.
I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world. I once offered my life to the Missouri mob as a sacrifice for my people, and here I am. It will not be by sword or gun that this kingdom will roll on: the power of truth is such that all nations will be under the necessity of obeying the Gospel. The prediction is that army will be against army: it may be that the Saints will have to beat their ploughs into swords, for it will not do for men to sit down patiently and see their children destroyed.
My text is on the resurrection of the dead, which you will find in the 14th chapter of John—”In my Father’s house are many mansions.” It should be—”In my Father’s kingdom are many kingdoms,” in order that ye may be heirs of God and joint-heirs with me. I do not believe the Methodist doctrine of sending honest men and noble-minded men to hell, along with the murderer and the adulterer. They may hurl all their hell and fiery billows upon me, for they will roll off me as fast as they come on. But I have an order of things to save the poor fellows at any rate, and get them saved; for I will send men to preach to them in prison and save them if I can.
There are mansions for those who obey a celestial law, and there are other mansions for those who come short of the law, every man in his own order. There is baptism, &c., for those to exercise who are alive, and baptism for the dead who die without the knowledge of the Gospel.
I am going on in my progress for eternal life. It is not only necessary that you should be baptized for your dead, but you will have to go through all the ordinances for them, the same as you have gone through to save yourselves. There will be 144,000 saviors on Mount Zion, and with them an innumerable host that no man can number. Oh! I beseech you to go forward, go forward and make your calling and your election sure; and if any man preach any other Gospel than that which I have preached, he shall be cursed; and some of you who now hear me shall see it, and know that I testify the truth concerning them.
In regard to the law of the priesthood, there should be a place where all nations shall come up from time to time to receive their endowments; and the Lord has said this shall be the place for the baptisms for the dead. Every man that has been baptized and belongs to the kingdom has a right to be baptized for those who have gone before; and as soon as the law of the Gospel is obeyed here by their friends who act as proxy for them, the Lord has administrators there to set them free. A man may act as proxy for his own relatives; the ordinances of the Gospel which were laid out before the foundations of the world have thus been fulfilled by them, and we may be baptized for those whom we have much friendship for; but it must first be revealed to the man of God, lest we should run too far. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;” all shall be raised from the dead. The Lamb of God hath brought to pass the resurrection, so that all shall rise from the dead.
God Almighty Himself dwells in eternal fire; flesh and blood cannot go there, for all corruption is devoured by the fire. “Our God is a consuming fire.” When our flesh is quickened by the Spirit, there will be no blood in this tabernacle. Some dwell in higher glory than others.
Those who have done wrong always have that wrong gnawing them. Immortality dwells in everlasting burnings. I will from time to time reveal to you the subjects that are revealed by the Holy Ghost to me. All the lies that are now hatched up against me are of the devil, and the influence of the devil and his servants will be used against the kingdom of God. The servants of God teach nothing but principles of eternal life, by their works ye shall know them. A good man will speak good things and holy principles, and an evil man evil things. I feel, in the name of the Lord, to rebuke all such bad principles, liars, &c., and I warn all of you to look out whom you are going after. I exhort you to give heed to all the virtue and the teachings which I have given you. All men who are immortal dwell in everlasting burnings. You cannot go anywhere but where God can find you out. All men are born to die, and all men must rise; all must enter eternity.
In order for you to receive your children to yourselves you must have a promise—some ordinance; some blessing, in order to ascend above principalities, or else it may be an angel. They must rise just as they died; we can there hail our lovely infants with the same glory—the same loveliness in the celestial glory, where they all enjoy alike. They differ in stature, in size, the same glorious spirit gives them the likeness of glory and bloom; the old man with his silvery hairs will glory in bloom and beauty. No man can describe it to you—no man can write it.
When did I ever teach anything wrong from this stand? When was I ever confounded? I want to triumph in Israel before I depart hence and am no more seen. I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught. Must I, then, be thrown away as a thing of naught?
I enjoin for your consideration—add to your faith virtue, love, &c. I say, in the name of the Lord, if these things are in you, you shall be fruitful. I testify that no man has power to reveal it but myself—things in heaven, in earth and hell; and all shut your mouths for the future. I commend you all to God, that you may inherit all things; and may God add His blessing. Amen.
My brother Hyrum and Elder Lyman Wight also addressed the Saints.
My brother Hyrum received an anonymous letter, supposed to have been written by Joseph H. Jackson, threatening his life, and calling upon him to make his peace with God for he would soon have to die.
At 3 P.M. I attended prayer meeting in the council room. William Smith and Almon W. Babbitt were present. The room was full and we all prayed for deliverance from our enemies and exaltation to such offices as will enable the servants of God to execute righteousness in the earth.
I copy the following from the Times and Seasons:
For the Neighbor.
Nauvoo and President Smith.
Before taking my farewell of your beautiful and growing city, I avail myself of a few leisure moments in expressing some of my views and conclusions of the “Prophet Joe” and the Mormons. In the first place, allow me to say that the Mormons, as a people, have been most woe fully misrepresented and abused, and, in ninety-nine instances out of a hundred, by persons who know nothing of their principles and doctrines.
Before visiting the place, my mind was very much prejudiced against the Mormons, from reports which I had listened to in traveling through the different states; and I presume, if I had never taken occasion to inform myself of their religion and views, my mind would have remained in the same condition. There is not a city within my knowledge that can boast of a more enterprising and industrious people than Nauvoo. Her citizens are enlightened, and possess many advantages in the arts and sciences of the day, which other cities of longer standing cannot boast: in a word, Nauvoo bids fair to soon outrival any city in the West.
General Smith is a man who understands the political history of his country as well as the religious history of the world, as perfectly as any politician or religionist I have ever met with. He advances ideas which if carried into effect would greatly benefit the nation in point of commerce and finance; and while he maintains and philosophically shows that our country is approaching a fearful crisis, which, if not arrested, will end in disgrace to the country, and cause our national banner to hug its mast in disgust and shame, clearly points out the remedy.
Shall the liberty which our fathers purchased at so dear a price be wrenched from the hand of their children? Shall our national banner, which floated so proudly in the breeze at the Declaration of Independence, be disgraced and refuse to show its motto? Shall we, as American citizens, fold our arms and look quietly on, while the shackles of slavery are being fastened upon our hands, and while men only seek office for the purpose of exalting themselves into power? I say, shall we still rush blindly on and hasten on our own destruction by placing men in power who neither regard the interests of the people nor the prayers of the oppressed? Every American citizen will shout at the top of his voice—no!
Mr. Smith’s “Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government” manifest a Republican spirit, and if carried out, would soon place the nation in a prosperous condition and brighten the prospects of those who now toil so incessantly to support the profligate expenditures and luxurious equipage of the present rulers and representatives of our nation.
Joseph Smith is a man who is in every way calculated to make a free people happy. He is liberal in his sentiments and allows every man the free expression of his feelings on all subjects; he is sociable and easy in his manners, is conversant and familiar on all exciting topics, expresses himself freely and plainly on the different methods of administering the Government, while he is not ashamed to let the world know his views and criticize upon his opinions.
I am, sir, in no way connected with the Mormon Church, but am disposed to listen to reason in all cases. I have heretofore been a warm advocate of the measures of the Whig party; but, considering General Smith’s views and sentiments to be worthy the applause of every citizen of the United States, and especially the yeomanry of the country, I shall in every instance advocate his principles and use my utmost influence in his favor. I am, sir, yours in haste,
Nauvoo Mansion, May 12, 1844.
Monday 13.—Heavy thunder showers during the night. At 10 A.M. went to my office and conversed with several of the brethren. Sold Ellis M. Sanders one hundred acres of land, received $300 in cash, and his note for $1,000, and $20 for the Temple. Paid Sisson Chase $298 and took up a note of Young, Kimball & Taylor, given for money they had borrowed for me; and gave $10 to Heber C. Kimball.
At 2 P.M. attended meeting of the general council, at which the following letter from Orson Hyde was read:
Letter: Elder Orson Hyde’s Report of Labors in Washington: President Smith’s Memorial for Western Movement Before Congressmen.
Washington, April 25, 1844.
Honored Sir:—I take the liberty to transmit through you to the council of our Church the result of my labors thus far. I arrived in this place on the 23rd instant, by way of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.
I found Elder Orson Pratt here, Elder Page having been called home to Pittsburgh on account of his wife’s ill health. Elder Orson Pratt has been indefatigable in his exertions in prosecuting the business entrusted to his charge. His business has been before the Senate, and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary; and the report of said committee is not yet rendered, which is the cause of his delay in writing to you.
Yesterday we conversed with Messrs. Hoge, Hardin, Douglas and Wentworth; and last evening we spent several hours with the Hon. Mr. [James] Semple. 1 They all appear deeply interested in the Oregon question, and received us with every demonstration of respect that we could desire. Mr. Hoge thought the bill would not pass, from the fact that there already exists between England and America a treaty for the joint occupancy of Oregon, and that any act of our government authorizing an armed force to be raised, and destined for that country, would be regarded by England as an infraction of that treaty, and a cause of her commencing hostilities against us.
But my reply was: These volunteers are not to be considered any part or portion of the army of the United States, neither acting under the direction or authority of the United States; and, said I, for men to go there and settle in the character of emigrants cannot be regarded by our government as deviating in the least degree from her plighted faith, unless she intends to tamely submit to British monopoly in that country.
Mr. Hoge said he would present the memorial, if we desired it. I thanked him for his kind offer, but observed that I was not yet prepared for the bill to be submitted, but wished to elicit all the facts relative to the condition of Oregon, and also advise with many other members relative to the matter; and we could better determine then how the bill should be introduced. We do not want it presented and referred to a standing committee, and stuck away with five or ten cords of petitions, and that be the last of it; but we want the memorial read, a move made to suspend the rules of the House, and the bill printed, &c.
Mr. Wentworth said, “I am for Oregon, any how. You may set me down on your list, and I will go for you if you will go for Oregon.”
Judge Douglas has been quite ill, but is just recovered; he will help all he can; Mr. Hardin likewise. But Major Semple says that he does not believe anything will be done about Texas or Oregon this session, for it might have a very important effect upon the presidential election; and politicians are slow to move when such doubtful and important matters are likely to be effected by it. He says that there are already two bills before the House for establishing a territorial government in Oregon, and to protect the emigrants there; and now, he says, “Were your bill to be introduced, it might be looked upon that you claimed the sole right of emigrating to and settling the new country to the exclusion of others. He was in favor of the Oregon being settled, and he thought the bills already before the House would extend equal protection to us; and equal protection to every class of citizens was what the Government could rightly do, but particular privileges to any one class they could not rightly do.”
I observed that the bill asks for no exclusive rights. It asks not for exclusive rights in Oregon, neither do we wish it. Other people might make a move to Oregon, and no prejudices bar their way, and their motives would not be misinterpreted.
But, said I, Missouri knows her guilt; and should we attempt to march to Oregon without the government throwing a protective shield over us, Missouri’s crimes would lead her first to misinterpret our intentions, to fan the flame of popular excitement against us, and scatter the firebrands of a misguided zeal among the combustible materials of other places, creating a flame too hot for us to encounter—too desolating for us to indulge the hope of successfully prosecuting the grand and benevolent enterprise we have conceived. 2 We have been compelled to relinquish our rights in Missouri. We have been forcibly driven from our homes, leaving our property and inheritances as spoil to the oppressor; and more or less in Illinois we have been subject to the whims and chimeras of illiberal men, and to threats, to vexatious prosecutions and lawsuits.
Our government professes to have no power to help us, or to redress the wrongs which we have suffered; and we now ask the government to protect us while raising our volunteers. And when we get into Oregon we will protect ourselves and all others who wish our protection. And after subduing a new country, encountering all its difficulties and hardships, and sustaining the just claims of our nation to its soil, we believe that the generosity of our government towards us will be equal to our enterprise and patriotism; and that they will allow us a grant or territory of land, which will be both honorable to them and satisfactory to us.
This, he says, is all very just and reasonable. But still he thinks that Congress will take no step in relation to Oregon, from the fact that his resolution requesting the President of the United States to give notice to the British Government for the abolition of the treaty of joint occupation was voted down; and while that treaty is in force, our government dare do nothing in relation to that country. This resolution was introduced by Mr. Semple to pave the way for the passage of those bills in relation to a territorial government in Oregon.
All our members [Illinois delegation] join in the acknowledgment that you now have an undoubted right to go to Oregon with all the emigrants you can raise. They say the existing laws protect you as much as law can protect you; and should Congress pass an additional law, it would not prevent wicked men from shooting you down as they did in Missouri. All the Oregon men in Congress would be glad we would go to that country and settle it.
I will now give you my opinion in relation to this matter. It is made up from the spirit of the times in a hasty manner, nevertheless I think time will prove it to be correct:—That Congress will pass no act in relation to Texas or Oregon at present. She is afraid of England, afraid of Mexico, afraid the Presidential election will be twisted by it. The members all appear like unskillful players at checkers—afraid to move, for they see not which way to move advantageously. All are figuring and play round the grand and important questions. In the days of our Lord the people neglected the weightier matters of the law, but tithed mint, rue, anise and cummin; but I think here in Washington they do little else than tithe the mint.
A member of Congress is in no enviable situation; if he will boldly advocate true principles, he loses his influence and becomes unpopular; and whoever is committed and has lost his influence has no power to benefit his constituents, so that all go to figuring and playing around the great points.
Mr. Semple said that Mr. Smith could not constitutionally be constituted a member of the army by law; and this, if nothing else, would prevent its passage. I observed that I would in that case strike out that clause. Perhaps I took an unwarrantable responsibility upon myself; but where I get into a straight place I can do no better than act according to what appears most correct.
I do not intend the opinion that I have hastily given shall abate my zeal to drive the matter through, but I have given the opinion for your benefit that your indulgence of the hope that Congress will do something for us may not cause you to delay any important action.
There is already a government established in Oregon to some extent; magistrates have been chosen by the people, &c. This is on the south of the Columbia. North of that river the Hudson Bay Company occupy. There is some good country in Oregon, but a great deal of sandy, barren desert. I have seen a gentleman who has been there, and also in California.
The most of the settlers in Oregon and Texas are our old enemies, the mobocrats of Missouri. If, however, the settlement of Oregon and Texas be determined upon, the sooner the move is made the better; and I would not advise any delay for the action of our government, for there is such jealousy of our rising power already, that government will do nothing to favor us. If the Saints possess the kingdom I think they will have to take it; and the sooner it is done the more easily it is accomplished.
Your superior wisdom must determine whether to go to Oregon, to Texas, or to remain within these United States, and send forth the most efficient men to build up churches, and let them remain the time being; and in the meantime send some wise men among the Indians, and teach them civilization and religion, to cultivate the soil, to live in peace with one another and with all men. But whatever you do, don’t be deluded with the hope that government will foster us and thus delay an action for which the present perhaps is the most proper time that ever will be.
Oregon is becoming a popular question: the fever of emigration begins to rage. If the Mormons become the early majority, others will not come; if the Mormons do not become the early majority, the others will not allow us to come.
Elder Pratt is faithful, useful and true; he has got the run of matters here very well, and is with me in all my deliberations, visitings, &c.
Major Semple goes with us this evening to introduce us to the President and to view the White House.
My heart and hand are with you. May heaven bless you and me.
As ever, I am
To the Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Also the following letter:
Letter: Orson Hyde’s Second Letter from Washington Anent the Western Movement of the Church—the Probable Route.
Washington, April 26, 1844.
Dear Sir:—Today I trouble you with another communication, which you will please have the goodness to lay before our council.
We were last evening introduced to the President at the White House by the politeness of Major Semple, where we spent an hour very agreeably. The President is a very plain, homespun, familiar, farmer-like man. He spoke of our troubles in Missouri, and regretted that we had met with such treatment. He asked us how we were getting along in Illinois. I told him that we were contending with the difficulties of a new country, and laboring under disadvantageous consequences of being driven from our property and homes in Missouri.
We have this day had a long conversation with Judge Douglas. He is ripe for Oregon and the California. He said he would resign his seat in Congress if he could command the force that Mr. Smith could, and would be on the march to the country in a month.
I learn that the eyes of many aspiring politicians in this place are upon that country, and that there is so much jealousy between them that they will probably pass no bill in relation to it. Now all these politicians rely upon the arm of the government to protect them there; and if government were to pass an act establishing a Territorial Government west of the Rocky Mountains there would be at once a tremendous rush of emigration; but if government pass no act in relation to it, these men have not stamina or sufficient confidence in themselves and their own resources to hazard the enterprise.
The Northern Whig members are almost to a man against Texas and Oregon; but should the present administration succeed in annexing Texas, then all the Whigs would turn around in favor of Oregon; for if Texas be admitted slavery is extended to the South; then free states must be added to the West to keep up a balance of power between the slave and the free states.
Should Texas be admitted, war with Mexico is looked upon as inevitable. The Senate have been in secret session on the ratification of the treaty of annexation; but what they did we cannot say. General Gaines who was boarding at the same house with Judge Douglas, was secretly ordered to repair to the Texan frontier four days ago, and left immediately. I asked Judge Douglas if that did not speak loud for annexation. He says no. Santa Anna, being a jealous, hot-headed pate, might be suspicious the treaty would be ratified by the Senate, and upon mere suspicion might attempt some hostilities, and Gaines has been ordered there to be on the alert and ready for action, if necessary. Probably our navy will in a few days be mostly in the Gulf of Mexico.
There are many powerful checks upon our government, preventing her from moving in any of these important matters; and for aught I know these checks are permitted to prevent our government from extending her jurisdiction over the territory which God designs to give to His Saints. Judge Douglas says he would equally as soon go to that country without an act of Congress as with; “and that in five years a noble state might be formed; and then if they would not receive us into the Union, we would have a government of our own.” He is decidedly of the opinion that Congress will pass no act in favor of any particular man going there; but he says if any man will go and desires that privilege, and has confidence in his own ability to perform it, he already has the right, and the sooner he is off the better for his scheme.
It is the opinion here among politicians that it will be extremely difficult to have any bill pass in relation to the encouragement of emigration to Oregon; but much more difficult to get a bill passed designating any particular man to go. But all concur in the opinion that we are authorized already.
In case of a removal to that country, Nauvoo is the place of general rendezvous. Our course from thence would be westward through Iowa bearing a little north until we came to the Missouri River, leaving the state of Missouri on the left, thence onward, until we came to the Platte, thence up the north fork of the Platte to the mouth of the Sweetwater river in longitude 107 degree, 45 W.; and thence up said Sweetwater river to the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, about eleven hundred miles from Nauvoo; and from said South Pass, in latitude 42 degrees 28 north, to the Umpqua and Klamet valleys in Oregon, bordering on California, is about six hundred miles, making the distance from Nauvoo to the best portions of Oregon one thousand seven hundred miles.
There is no government established there; and it is so near California that when a government shall be established there, it may readily embrace that country likewise. There is much barren country, rocks and mountains in Oregon; but the valleys are very fertile. I am persuaded that Congress will pass no act in relation to that country, from the fact that the resolution requesting the President to give notice to the British Government for the discontinuance of the treaty of joint occupation of Oregon was voted down with a rush; and this notice must be given before any action can be had unless Congress violates the treaty; at least so say the politicians here.
Judge Douglas has given me a map of Oregon, and also a report on an exploration of the country lying between the Missouri river and the Rocky Mountains on the line of the Kansas and great Platte rivers, by Lieut. J. C. Fremont, of the corps of Topographical Engineers. On receiving it I expressed a wish that Mr. Smith could see it. Judge Douglas says “It is a public document, and I will frank it to him.” I accepted his offer, and the book will be forthcoming to you. The people are so eager for it here that they have even stolen it out of the library. The author is Mr. Benton’s son-in-law. 3 Judge Douglas borrowed it of Mr. Benton. I was not to tell any one in this city where I got it. The book is a most valuable document to any one contemplating a journey to Oregon. The directions which I have given may not be exactly correct, but the book will tell correctly. Judge Douglas says he can direct Mr. Smith to several gentlemen in California who will be able to give him any information on the state of affairs in that country: and when he returns to Illinois, he will visit Mr. Smith.
Brother Pratt and myself drafted a bill this morning, and handed it into the committee on the judiciary from the Senate, asking an appropriation of two million dollars for the relief of the sufferers among our people in Missouri in 1836-9, to be deposited in the hands of the City Council of Nauvoo, and by them dealt out to the sufferers in proportion to their loss. We intend to tease them until we either provoke them or get them to do something for us. I have learned this much—that if we want Congress to do anything for us in drawing up our memorial, we must not ask what is right in the matter, but we must ask what kind of a thing will Congress pass? Will it suit the politics of the majority? Will it be popular or unpopular? For you might as well drive a musket ball through a cotton bag, or the Gospel of Christ through the heart of a priest, case-hardened by sectarianism, bigotry and superstition, or a camel through the eye of a needle, as to drive anything through Congress that will operate against the popularity of politicians.
I shall probably leave here in a few days, and Brother Pratt will remain. I go to get money to sustain ourselves with.
I shall write again soon, and let you know what restrictions, if any, are laid upon our citizens in relation to passing through the Indian Territories. I shall communicate everything I think will benefit. In the meantime, if the council have any instructions to give us, we shall be happy to receive them here or at Philadelphia.
John Ross is here; we intend to see him. It is uncertain when Congress rises. It will be a long pull, in my opinion. As ever, I am, yours sincerely,
P.S.—Elder Pratt’s best respects to the brethren.
Willard Richards was instructed to answer the above letters, and Elders Lyman Wight and Heber C. Kimball were instructed to carry the answers.
Council adjourned at 6 P.M.
The steamer Maid of Iowa returned from Rock River with four hundred bushels of corn, and two hundred bushels of wheat, which had been purchased for the Temple. At 8 P.M. I went on board with Dr. Willard Richards, and visited Captain Dan Jones.
I insert a letter which I received from Henry Clay:
Letter: Henry Clay to the Prophet.
Ashland, November 15, 1843.
Dear Sir.—I have received your letter in behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stating that you understand that I am a candidate for the presidency, and inquiring what will be my rule of action relative to you as a people should I be elected.
I am profoundly grateful for the numerous and strong expressions of the people in my behalf as a candidate for president of the United States; but I do not so consider myself. That must depend upon future events and upon my sense of duty.
Should I be a candidate, I can enter into no engagements, make no promises, give no pledge to any particular portion of the people of the United States. If I ever enter into that high office I must go into it free and unfettered, with no guarantees but such as are to be drawn from my whole life, character and conduct.
It is not inconsistent with this declaration to say that I have viewed with lively interest the progress of the Latter-day Saints; that I have sympathized in their sufferings under injustice, as it appeared to me, which have been inflicted upon them; and I think, in common with other religious communities, they ought to enjoy the security and protection of the Constitution and the laws.
I am, with great respect, your friend and obedient servant,
To Joseph Smith, Esq.
The Prophet’s Answer to Clay’s Letter.[Under the date of the Journal’s entry here being followed, May 13, 1844, President Smith sent a reply to the above eminent statesman’s letter, taking him severely to task for his evident desire to be non-committal with reference to the problem presented by the wrongs which had been inflicted upon the Latter-day Saints by Missouri. Vexed by remembrance of the cruelty and injustice endured by the Saints in Missouri and the general indifference to their suffering among public men, the letter was written in a caustic and, at times, vehement vein.]
I instructed Thomas Bullock to take charge of the books of the Maid of Iowa and go on board as clerk.
Tuesday, 14.—Rode out about 7 A.M. The Maid of Iowa started for St. Louis at 8:30 A.M.
This afternoon, Mr. Reid, my old lawyer 4 gave a lecture on the stand, relating the history of some of my first persecutions. I spoke after he closed, and continued my history to the present time, relating some of the doings of the apostates in Nauvoo.
At 4 P.M. prayer meeting; few present. Prayed for Elder Woodworth’s daughter, who was sick. Elder Lyman Wight was present.
Wednesday, 15.—At home; much rain through the day; river rising rapidly. Mr. Adams, son of John Quincy Adams, with Dr. Goforth, called to see me at the Mansion.
At 5 P.M. went to my office, and heard my letter to Mr. Clay read. At 7 P.M. rode to the upper landing with Mr. Adams.
I insert the following from the Times and Seasons:
Status of Affairs at Nauvoo.
We take pleasure in announcing to the Saints abroad that Nauvoo continues to flourish, and the little one has become a thousand. Quite a number of splendid houses are being erected, and the Temple is rapidly progressing, insomuch that there is one universal expectation that before next winter closes in upon us the cap-stone will have been raised and the building enclosed.
The Saints continue to flock together from all parts of the widespread continent and from the islands of the sea. Three ship’s companies have arrived this spring from England, and are now rejoicing in the truths of the everlasting Gospel.
The Prophet is in good health and spirits, and unwearied in his anxiety and labors to instruct the Saints in the things of God and the mysteries of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Indeed we may truly say that those who come to scoff remain to pray.
Many have come here filled with prejudice and strange anticipations, but have been convinced that report with her thousand tongues is false, and have almost invariably left a testimony behind them. Instead of finding Mr. Smith the cunning, crafty, and illiterate character that he had been represented to be, they have found in him the gentleman and scholar—open, generous, and brave.
But it is his immediate connections and associates alone that can appreciate his virtues and his talents. While his face is set as a flint against iniquity from every quarter, the cries of the oppressed ever reach his heart, and his hand is ever ready to alleviate the sufferings of the needy.
A few heartless villains can always be found who are watching for his downfall or death; but the Lord has generally caused them to fall into their own pit, and no weapon formed against him has prospered. One or two disaffected individuals have made an attempt to spread dissension; but it is like a tale that is nearly told, and will soon be forgotten.
It was first represented as a monster calculated to spread desolation around; but we are credibly informed by a person who attended their first meeting, that there was much difficulty in raising a committee of seven, for there was some objection to Father—; but as none could be found to fill the vacuum, he constituted one of the seven stars!
It will be unnecessary for us to say much about those luminaries of the last days, as they shine forth in their true colors in our columns this week in the trial of President Smith. But to say anything by way of warning to the brethren abroad would resemble the “ocean into tempest tossed, to waft a feather or drown a fly.” “By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?”
The glad tidings of salvation and the fullness of the Gospel are fast spreading from city to city and from nation to nation. The little stone will still increase till the knowledge of God covers the earth and righteousness and truth extend from pole to pole.
I copy from the Neighbor:
Withdrawal of William Smith as Candidate for the Legislature.
To the Friends and Voters of Hancock County: Elder William Smith (late representative) wishes to say to the friends and voters of Hancock county, that in consequence of the sickness of his family, now in the hands of a doctor in the city of Philadelphia, he relinquishes the idea of offering himself as a candidate for a seat in the next Legislature of Illinois; but, as a matter of the highest consideration, would recommend his brother Hyrum Smith as a suitable and capable person to fill that office and worthy of the people’s confidence and votes.
We know of no person that would be more qualified to fill his station than General Hyrum Smith (his, William’s, brother). We are not informed whether the General will accept of the office or not. If he will, we don’t know of any gentleman in Hancock county who would be more competent. General Smith is a man of sterling integrity, deep penetration and brilliant talents. He is well versed in politics and as unchangeable as the everlasting hills. He is a man of probity and virtue, and an unwavering patriot.
If General Hyrum Smith will allow his name to be brought forth, we go it for him; and we know from the confidence and respect that are entertained for him as a gentleman and a patriot, he will be elected. What say you, General?
Thursday, 16.—Went to my office at 8 A.M., and heard a letter written by Elder Willard Richards, in behalf of the council to Elders Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt at Washington.
I ordered the Municipal Court to meet at one P.M. and spent the morning in reading.
Session of Municipal Court—Case of Jeremiah Smith.
At one P.M. I presided in Municipal Court. The case of Jeremiah Smith, Sen., who had been arrested by Jones on the charge of procuring money under false pretenses, came up on habeas corpus. The complainant, T. B. Johnson, by his counsel, Chauncey L. Higbee, asked for and obtained an adjournment for one week in order to procure witnesses. The petitioner by his counsel, George P. Stiles, objected to the plea, supposing the prosecuting party always ready for a trial. The court decided that it was an important case, and it was not best to be in haste; and if the prisoner is discharged on the merits of the case after a full investigation, he goes free forever. The majority of the court decided to adjourn until Thursday next.
I was about home the rest of the day and read in Neighbor the report of the trial in the Municipal Court on the 8th inst.
The following appears in the Times and Seasons:
Letter: William Clayton Describing the Farcical Proceedings of the Court at Dixon in the Case of Joseph Smith vs. Joseph H. Reynolds of Missouri and Harmon T. Wilson.
Dear Sir.—I have just returned from the north part of this state, where I have been on business for our beloved President Joseph Smith; and it feels so good to breathe the pure air of liberty and friendship after spending some three or four days in a swamp, or rather a slough of religious prejudice and political hypocrisy, which are equally nauseous and offensive, that I cannot let this opportunity pass without giving vent to some of my feelings in regard to what passed while I remained at Dixon, on Rock River.
My principle business was to appear in the Lee county Circuit Court as a witness in the case of Joseph Smith, vs.Joseph H. Reynolds and Harmon T. Wilson, for false imprisonment and using unnecessary force and violence in arresting the plaintiff.
A plea had been entered in this suit by this counsel for the defendants, to which the counsel for the plaintiff demurred. The demurrer was argued on Wednesday morning, the 8th inst., and the parties finally joined issue on the charge of using unnecessary force and violence; and the court gave permission, by consent of the bar, to proceed with the trial, but the counsel not being fully prepared, it was laid over until the following morning, the 9th inst.
On Thursday morning, after the usual preliminaries of opening court, the above case was called up for trial, and the clerk ordered to impanel a jury; and here, sir, a scene took place which ought to make every honest American citizen blush and weep for the credit and honor of his country and laws. A number of men were called up, and when questioned as to whether they had previously expressed opinions in relation to the suit now pending, nearly the whole answered in the affirmative. The further question was then put as to whether they had any prejudice against either of the parties; to which a great majority replied they had against Smith. They were then questioned as to what their prejudice had reference—his religious sentiments, or general course of conduct. The greater part replied, to his religious sentiments; and the remainder said they were opposed to his general course of conduct.
About twenty men had to be called upon, one after another, out of the number the court finally selected twelve as competent jurors though the majority of these decidedly expressed their feelings of prejudice against the plaintiff. They were, however, accepted on the ground that they said they thought they could do justice to both parties, although some of them expressed a doubt whether they could do justice or not.
The jury being sworn, the court, or rather the counsel, proceeded to examine the witnesses on the part of the plaintiff, which occupied nearly the whole day. But little of the real matter of fact could be set before the court on account of their being confined to the charge of unnecessary force and violence; but this was proven in the clearest point of light.
I must refer to the testimony of old Mr. Dixon, whose silvery locks seem to tell an age of many years. His evidence related to the circumstance of the Missouri sheriff refusing for a length of time to give the plaintiff the privilege ofhabeas corpus, and threatening to drag him to Missouri in fifteen minutes from the time they arrived at Dixon. The old gentleman seemed to tremble with indignation while relating the simple facts as they transpired at the time; and, like a true lover of his country, appeared proud of the privilege of telling those men that the citizens of Dixon would not suffer themselves to be disgraced by permitting them to drag away a citizen of this state to a foreign state for trial without the privilege of a trial by habeas corpus—a privilege which is guaranteed to every individual under like circumstances, and especially when it was understood that he was to be dragged to Missouri, amongst a people whose hands are yet dripping with the blood of murdered innocence, and who thirst for the blood of General Joseph Smith as the howling wolf thirsts for his prey. Surely such a picture would melt the heart of anything but an adamantine. There are those, and men too who profess to be the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, who can hear such things and still wish the Missourians had got General Smith to Missouri to murder him without judge or jury, and surely they are no better than murderers themselves, and only lack the opportunity to make them shedders of innocent blood.
After the evidence was through on the part of the plaintiff, the witness for the defense was examined, which only occupied a few minutes. The arguments were then advanced on both sides, during which time I could not help noticing how apt the respectable gentleman of the opposite counsel was to sing the song of “old Joe Smith,” &c., which might appear very gentlemanly in his mind, but to me it seemed as contemptible as the voice of a stupid ass, or the tongue of slander.
Finally the case was submitted to the jury, who were charged by the court, and then ordered to retire and bring in a sealed verdict the following morning at nine o’clock. Friday morning came and with it the verdict, and it proved to be in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants for forty dollars and costs of suit. I confess I was astonished when I heard it, and could not help thinking that prejudice sometimes overrules justice even in the jury box. I could not help comparing the results of this trial with one which came off the day previous, wherein a certain person complained of another for destroying his cow by setting his dogs on the animal until they worried her. It appeared the cow of the plaintiff had seen fit to break into the defendant’s lot without asking leave, and the defendant, or rather his men, not liking such treatment, set the dogs on her and destroyed her. Well, the result of this trial was a verdict of damages for the plaintiff of thirty dollars and costs!
Now, sir, compare the two cases. On the one hand here is a citizen of the United States near two hundred miles from his home and his friends; he is on a visit with his family, not dreaming of danger or difficulty. Two men—or rather wolves in sheep’s clothing—for it is a fact that when Wilson and Reynolds made inquiry for General Smith at Dixon at the time of the arrest, they said they were “Mormon Elders,” and wanted to see President Smith, &c.—two men, I say, while he is thus enjoying himself with his family, came upon him with each a loaded pistol in his hand, and threatened to shoot him dead if he offered the least resistance, although no resistance had been offered. They then began to haul him about; and when he asked them what they wanted with him, and what was their authority, they replied they were going to take him to Missouri; and jamming their pistols at his side, swore that was their authority. He requested them to let him go into the house to bid his family good-by; but this they positively refused, not even giving him the privilege to get his hat. They then forced him into the wagon and placing themselves one on each side, with a loaded pistol pressed close against his side, and repeatedly striking him with them, so as to make him lame and sore for two weeks afterwards, they drove him to Dixon, and ordered horses ready in fifteen minutes to drag him among his murderers, and otherwise abused, insulted, threatened, and treated him in the cruelest manner possible, filling his family with the most excruciating pangs, and rending the heart of his beloved companion with grief to witness their ferocious cruelty, not knowing but his life would be sacrificed before morning; and finally pursued their persecutions until it cost him from $3,500 to $5,000 expenses; and all this without a cause; and when he sues for justice against these men he obtains damages to the amount of forty dollars!
On the other hand, a man loses a cow which had broke into his neighbor’s lot, and he obtained damages to the amount of thirty dollars.
Now, sir, if this is not the effects of prejudice amounting to oppression, then I am no judge of right and wrong. I am very much inclined to think that if General Joseph Smith or any of his friends had treated any citizen of this state or any other state in the manner he was treated by these men, and they had sued for damages as he did, the case would have terminated very differently. However, so it is.
The idea of a man yielding to such a degree of prejudice as to render him incapable of executing justice between man and man, merely from rumor and report, is to me perfectly ridiculous and contemptible, as well as wicked and unjust. And when a man is all the day long boasting of the rights and privileges guaranteed to every citizen of the United States under the Constitution and laws, and at the same time is so prejudiced against one of the most peaceable citizens that he does not know whether he can render him justice in a court of equity, but would rather strengthen the hands of mobocrats and law-breakers, the inference that one must naturally draw is that such a man is a consummate scoundrel and hypocrite, or that he is guilty of the most flagrant violation of the most sacred constitutional principles embraced in the fundamental doctrines of this republic. I am happy, sir, to have evidence daily that no such corrupt prejudice exists in the heart of General Joseph Smith, nor in the community, so far as I have been able to discover.
Now, as to the exceptions these men have taken in regard to General Smith’s religious views or general course of conduct, it matters not much. His religious views are his inalienable right, and are nobody’s business; and the man who cannot render him justice on that account is a wilful violator of the laws he professes to admire; and, sir, I have for more than two years last past been a close observer of General Smith’s general course of conduct, as well as his private life; and justice to him, to myself, and the community at large, compels me to say that, in all my intercourse with men, I never associated with a more honorable, upright, charitable, benevolent, and law-abiding man than is the much persecuted General Smith; and, sir, when I hear men speak reproachfully of him, I never ask for a second evidence of their corruptness and baseness. General Smith, sir, is a man of God, a man of truth, and a lover of his country; and never did I hear him breathe out curses or raillery at any man because he saw fit to differ in religious matters. Shame on the principle—shame on the man or set of men who show themselves so degraded and miserably corrupt.
The last night of our stay at Dixon, I had the privilege of speaking on the principles of my religion to a number of individuals in a kind of argument with two men; and, sir, although it is near some four years since I have made a practice of preaching, it felt as sweet as ever. Truth to an honest heart is sweet, but to a wicked man is like a piercing sword, as was manifest on that occasion; for although the principles of the Gospel were laid down so plain and clear that it was impossible to misunderstand, yet the opposing party repeatedly misconstrued my language, and even his own admission.
I cannot persuade myself that the prejudice referred to above is a general thing. There are many honorable exceptions, and I presume if the Mormons had signified their intentions of supporting the Democratic candidate for the presidency at the ensuing election, instead of nominating an independent candidate of their own choice, their prejudice would not have been so great at the trial of Reynolds and Wilson, and perhaps General Smith would have obtained a judgment somewhat equivalent to the injuries he sustained from that unholy prosecution. But the Mormon people are too noble-minded to be bought or biased by fear or favor, and have been too often deceived by the plausible pretensions of demagogues to put trust in any but tried friends. General Smith has ever been an undeviating friend, not only to this community, but to the oppressed of every name or society, and we consider him as competent and qualified for the highest office of the United States as any other man, and a little more so; and a great deal more worthy of it.
In conclusion, let me say that whatever others may say, I consider, it an honor to be associated with such a man as General Joseph Smith, and all true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and the more wicked men despise and misrepresent the principles and conduct of President Smith, the more I love him and delight in his society; and this I can do without prejudice or animosity against any man or set of men. I believe in the broad principle of equal rights and privileges, so far as religion or politics are concerned; and while I seek to enjoy my religion according to the knowledge in me, I will interfere with the rights of no man, nor persecute because my neighbor does not think as I do.
A multitude of business compels me to close, and I must forbear. I have the honor to be your brother in the everlasting covenant.
Nauvoo, May 16, 1844.
From the Neighbor:—
On the last upward voyage of the Osprey from St. Louis to this place as usual, the merits of the several candidates for the next Presidential election were discussed. A vote was taken, and the following was the state of the polls as handed to us by a gentleman who came as passenger:—
General Joseph Smith, 26 gentlemen, 3 ladies.
Henry Clay, 0 gentlemen, 2 ladies.
Van Buren, 2 gentlemen, 0 ladies.
The ladies are altogether forsaking Van Buren, and the gentlemen as a matter of course are following after. There is a wonderful shrinkage Henry Clay, but the General is going it with a rush. Hurrah for the General!
2. The reason for this reference to Missouri and of possible difficulty arising from the Saints going to Oregon without a guarantee of protection from the general government grew out of the fact that nearly all the early settlers of the Oregon territory were from Missouri. Even in this month of May, 1844, Cornelius Gilliam, the inveterate enemy of the Saints, and who took so prominent a part in the troubles about Far West, was collecting a large company at Independence, Missouri, numbering over three hundred persons, to start for Oregon that season; and all along the Oregon route on the south side of the Platte river, the road was thronged during the next several years by emigrants, very many of whom, and for some time the most of whom, were from Missouri. (See Western Missouri Expositor, May 18 1844. Also Bancroft’s Oregon Vol. I, page 449, Passim).