“What Crime Have I Been Guilty Of?”

Edward Partridge's Letter to an Estranged Sister



The letter reproduced in this article reveals the faith of Edward Partridge, the first Mormon bishop. Partridge’s writing also discloses other aspects of Partridge’s life and thought. He was obviously better educated than most of his contemporaries: the grammar and spelling are generally correct (we have left them as they appear in the original); the expression is forceful (much more so when discussing religion than when commenting on mundane matters); and, on one occasion at least, he employs a literary quotation. This letter also illustrates a common proselyting practice of that period (one which was developed perhaps more highly by the Mormons, since they tended to be pleaders, than other denominations which tended toward revivalism) of reasoning from scriptural authority in the fashion of canonical lawyers, “line upon line, precept upon precept.”


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