The Political Climate of Saxony during the Conversion of Karl G. Maeser—Supplementary Material

Nov. 3rd 1855—[recd May 10, 1856?]

President Brigham Young

Dear Brother,

I have the pleasure to acknowledge receipt of your general letter and list of property for sale. and P. E. Fund Communication for publication in the Star, all bearing date Aug 31st for which please accept my grateful thanks. Your draft in favour of Sarah Ibbotson[??] has been paid at Ex[??] $4.80 present date. I [illegible] you with £6.5..0 I credit you with the amount of G. D. Watt's draft for $7.

My letters still unacknowledged by you are of the dates of July & Aug. Sep 6 and Oct 6. I am at a loss to express in becoming terms the gratitude I feel in my immortal soul for the choice letter you have recently favoured me with. which shown forth the dealings of the Lord with his people in Zion. He is returning favours to the children of the wilderness and indicates[?] the deep seated[?] opposition of the [illegible] to voice[?] prosperity and his ability to [end of p. 1] accomplish the will of Heaven without their begrudged help. It gives the faithful on this side of the great waters unmeasured joy to read of. and to feel the power by which you are enabled to protest against the wickedness of the ungodly that come into the Territory and to cheer on the Saints in continual reformation. It must be clear to all who possess the Spirit of the Latter-day work that a Wonderful Combination of Circumstances is conspiring to hasten the exaltation of the Kingdom of God to independency among the Nations. God speed the Work.

As intimated to you in my last I left on its date [October 6, 1855] for Germany, being joined at Hull on my way by Bro. William H. Kimball. At Hamburgh during the night of the 10th the Lord Comforted us with a dream in which it was shown to me that we should pass through the scrutiny of the police without harm, and in[?] the dream I saw them just after we had got out, hunting for us. Spending one day in Hamburgh another in Berlin, during which time we visited the most interesting and important places admissible to strangers. We arrived in Dresden the capital of Saxony at noon of the 11th of October. The accompanying view is precisely the same [end of p. 2] as that from the room which we occupied in the "Staat Wein [sic]" (Vienna State Hotel). This place is about 400[?] English miles a little South of East from Liverpool. Contains about 100.000 inhabitants. 5000 of whom with the King are Roman Catholics. The remaining nineteen twentieths are Lutheran protestants. After our interview with Elder Wm. Budge, who had been there some three or four Weeks, we found we could do nothing toward establishing the Gospel in that place except in[?] the teeth of all Saxon law and in elusion of the most rigid police surveillance. In Switzerland, the law nominally allows the promulgation of all doctrines which are in accordance with the Old and New Testaments. The Elders were not banished from the Cantons for teaching such doctrines, but for proselyting to a new political government now being set up in America. Not so in Saxony, there no religious liberty exists except for Catholics and Lutherans. But I would not return and give it up. So, everything that was in [illegible]. We had come by the counsel of the Holy Spirit, and we immediately determined to do whatsoever the Spirit would help us in doing. Accordingly next day Sunday we privately [end of p. 3] met a few friends and taught them the Gospel. Bro. Budge interpreting and the same Assisting[?] I administered baptism to Karl G. Mäser, a professor or principal of an institute and Frederick E. Schönfeld, and Edward G. Martin, teachers. On Tuesday evening the 16th we ventured[?] another setting[?] down together and the next day received word that five others were ready for baptism. On Friday evening the 18th I baptized Christianne H. Mieth age 45 years. Anna H. Mäser age 25 yrs, Caroline C A Schönfeld age 24 yrs. Emile O. E. C. Mieth, age 16 yrs and Clara C. Mieth, age 12 yrs. Being Bro. Mäser's entire household, except an infant whom we blessed on the Sunday following, when we Confirmed the members and organized a Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, calling it the Dresden Branch. At this meeting held at Bro. Mäser's, where each of the other meetings were held, we administered the Sacrament and gave such leading instructions as the spirit directed and the time allowed. As we considered ourselves momentarily in jeopardy and knew not the hour when Bro. Budge might be thrust[This word doesn't look like "thrust."] into prison [end of p. 4] or be banished from the country. I felt constrained to ordain Bro. Mäser to the office of an Elder that the right to administer spiritual blessings might be left among them. I also ordained Elder Budge a Seventy, blessing him with a portion of the apostleship that he might be an apostle to the German Saints. He is one of those choice spirits of whom there seem to be but few in the Earth. He was imprisoned in and banished from Switzerland, which experience is precious to him and profitable to the Dresden Saints. He is in Saxony as an English gentleman from Cambridge, being a foreign[?] scholar of Professor Mäsers, to complete his education in the German Language. Having instructed him in such items as the circumstances of the Branch seemed to require we felt that we had then accomplished the Work we were sent to do and accordingly called for our passports and came[?] off as soon as we could with propriety, but [illegible]ed we had discovered we were watched.

By a disguised letter which I presume is from Elder Budge, just received, I am informed that the Saints had scarcely got their baptism[?] papers and everything that could fix suspicions[?] [end of p. 5] hidden when he and his effects were seized by the police on the suspicion that he was engaged in something contrary to the law. (Saxon I presume) but on examination doubtless to their satisfaction he was enabled to resume his studies. He also informed me that the papers immediately after our departure, announced the visit of Governor Young's Son to Copenhagen, which doubtless very much strengthened their apprehensions.

Saxon law requires that every child shall be christened at about the age of one month and in default of which its parents are fined eine Thaler (equal to 46 Cents U.S. for each day they are delinquent. Communicants are required to partake of their Sacrament once or twice a year, in default of either of these our brethren must betray their faith. Again the teachers in the Government Schools are Sworn by an Oath to maintain and teach the Lutheran faith, text books being furnished them from which they must teach their Scholars. Thus presenting the anomalous fact of a Roman Catholic King requiring his Subjects to become protestants by law. These facts present the greatest difficulties to our Young brethren there, that they have found in their investigations of Mormonism. How can they [end of p. 6] reconcile their consciences to pursue the course which seems indispensable to their existence and the maintenance of the Trust in that land till the Work is established so that the honest may be gathered out? This they desire most fervently to do, being warm[?] and full of love to their Countrymen. Upon the two first points baptism and communion circumstances help them as they continue[?] to overcome or elude the difficulty.

On the two last points they and I desire your suggestions. At best their Case demands our sympathy, for when their faith is known imprisonment or banishment probably both, are the mildest forms in which their case will be treated, unless as in a case lately tried in Switzerland they might be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, another term of hard labour. Their Ca[illegible themselves prohibited from ever leaving their native Country and from getting married.

In helping to commence the Work in Dresden the Lord has granted me one great desire of my life for ever since you counselled me to learn that language while we were together on the Counsel Boat in Ohio in 1844 my feelings have been particularly led towards [end of p. 7] the German people, and I have made three[?] several efforts to learn the language. The little which I have acquired I found an essential aid to me as I was enabled to administer baptism in the tongue of the candidates and am now more than ever resolved to acquire the language. Please let nothing concerning the Work in Saxony go into print or be made public in any way outside the Territory until the mustard seed as sprouted and got strength to live. Our most fanciful apprehensions are from what would result from such a circumstance as this.

Your feelings expressed in A[illegible] have been conveyed to the "boys." I have enquired concerning the article sent by Bro. Packwood but have not yet received an answer. I have not yet heard from Bro. Calkins. Bro. Wm Woodward desires me to tender to you his best thanks for your permission to Marry but wishes me to say that he is fixed in his purpose not to marry until he returns to Utah. The object of his affects is there. I desire to say to the Editor of the Des. News that all papers and letters arriving at this office for transmission to the parties are uniformly [end of p. 8] forwarded on the same day, except sometimes when the Mail comes in on the Sunday in which case they go out on the Monday. I hand you herewith list of [illegible]ed donations made to the P. E. Fund. during my present administration. The donors hold acces[illegible] for the same.

I am particularly grateful for your letter to the Poor and list of property for Sale which I believe will enable me to handle considerable funds in the present Season of Emigration which might otherwise be [illegible]. My late journeys have been blessed to the great improvement of my health so that I now feel ambitious for another Winters labour with Emigration.

Counsellors [sic] Spencer and Wheelock are with me in excellent health and spirits. We are one in all our Work. Bro.s Linforth[??] and [illegible]qu[illegible] desire to express their grateful acknowledgements with me for sending Bro. Caulkins and delivering them to go home to St. Louis with the approaching C[illegible].

I have strictly [illegible] To forward duplicates of my letter [illegible] California. I wish[?] to enquire whether they [illegible] to [illegible].

With everlasting love, I remain your fellow labourer,


F.D. Richards. 1

1 Franklin D. Richards to Brigham, November 3, 1855, CR 1234 1 Box 41, fd 20, Church History Library.