Volume 1 Chapter 32 | BYU Studies

Volume 1 Chapter 32

 

Chapter 32

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Remembrance of Canada Saints—Correspondence and Petition Relative to Missouri Affairs.

Letter to Moses C. Nickerson.

November 19.—I wrote as follows, from Kirtland, to Moses C. Nickerson, Mount Pleasant, Upper Canada:

Brother Moses:—We arrived at this place on the fourth ultimo, after a fatiguing journey, during which we were blessed with usual health. We parted with Father and Mother Nickerson at Buffalo, in good health, and they expressed a degree of satisfaction for the prosperity and blessings of their journey.

Since our arrival here, Brother Sidney has been afflicted with sore eyes, which is probably the reason why you have not previously heard from us, as he was calculating to write you immediately. But though I expect he will undoubtedly write you soon, as his eyes are evidently better, yet lest you should be impatient to learn something concerning us, I have thought that perhaps a few lines from me, though there may be a lack of fluency according to the literati of the age, might be received with a degree of satisfaction on your part, at least, when you call to mind the near relation with which we are united by the everlasting ties of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We found our families and the Church in this place well, generally. Nothing of consequence happened while we were absent, except the death of one of our brethren—David Johnson—a young man of great worth as a private citizen among us, the loss of whom we justly mourn.

We were favored with frequent intelligence from different sections of our country, respecting the progress of the Gospel, and our prayers are daily to our Father, that it may greatly spread, even till all nations shall hear the glorious news and come to a knowledge of the truth.

We have received letters from our brethren in Missouri of late, but we cannot tell, from their contents, the probable extent to which those persons who are desirous to expel them from that country will carry their unlawful and unrighteous purposes. Our brethren have applied to the executive of the state, who has promised them all the assistance that the civil law can give; and in all probability a suit has been commenced ere this.

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We are informed, however, that those persons are very violent, and threaten immediate extermination upon all those who profess our doctrine. How far they will be suffered to execute their threats, we know not, but we trust in the Lord, and leave the event with Him to govern in his own wise providence.

I shall expect a communication from you on receipt of this, and hope you will give me information concerning the brethren, their health, faith, etc., also inform me concerning our friends with whom we formed acquaintance.

You are aware, no doubt, dear brother, that anxieties inexpressible crowd themselves continually upon my mind for the Saints, when I consider the many temptations to which we are subject, from the cunning and flattery of the great adversary of our souls: and I can truly say, with much fervency have I called upon the Lord for our brethren in Canada. And when I call to mind with what readiness they received the word of truth by the ministry of Brother Sidney and myself, I am truly under great obligations to humble myself before Him.

When I contemplate the rapidity with which the great and glorious day of the coming of the Son of Man advances, when He shall come to receive His Saints unto Himself, where they shall dwell in His presence, and be crowned with glory and immortality; when I consider that soon the heavens are to be shaken, and the earth tremble and reel to and fro; and that the heavens are to be unfolded as a scroll when it is rolled up; and that every mountain and island are to flee away, I cry out in my heart, What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness!

You remember the testimony which I bore in the name of the Lord Jesus, concerning the great work which He has brought forth in the last days. You know my manner of communication, how that in weakness and simplicity, I declared to you what the Lord had brought forth by the ministering of His holy angels to me for this generation. I pray that the Lord may enable you to treasure these things in your mind, for I know that His Spirit will bear testimony to all who seek diligently after knowledge from Him. I hope you will search the Scriptures to see whether these things are not also consistent with those things which the ancient Prophets and Apostles have written.

I remember Brother Freeman and wife, Ransom also, and Sister Lydia, and little Charles, with all the brethren and sisters. I entreat for an interest in all your prayers before the throne of mercy, in the name of Jesus. I hope the Lord will grant that I may see you all again, and above all that we may overcome, and sit down together in the kingdom of our Father.

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Your brother, etc.,

Joseph Smith.

The Prophet's Reflections.

Nothing of note occurred from the falling of the stars on the 13th, to this date, November 19th, when my heart is somewhat sorrowful, but I feel to trust in the Lord, the God of Jacob. I have learned in my travels that man is treacherous and selfish, but few excepted.

Sidney Rigdon.

Brother Sidney is a man whom I love, but he is not capable of that pure and steadfast love for those who are his benefactors that should characterize a President of the Church of Christ. This, with some other little things, such as selfishness and independence of mind, which too often manifested destroy the confidence of those who would lay down their lives for him—these are his faults. But notwithstanding these things, he is a very great and good man; a man of great power of words, and can gain the friendship of his hearers very quickly. He is a man whom God will uphold, if he will continue faithful to his calling. O God, grant that he may, for the Lord's sake. Amen.

A Prophecy.

And again, blessed be Brother Sidney: notwithstanding he shall be high and lifted up, yet he shall bow down under the yoke like unto an ass that Croucheth beneath his burthen, that learneth his master's will by the stroke of the rod; thus saith the Lord: yet, the Lord will have mercy on him, and he shall bring forth much fruit, even as the vine of the choice grape, when her clusters are ripe, before the time of the gleaning of the vintage; and the Lord shall make his heart merry as with sweet wine, because of Him who putteth forth His hand, and lifteth him up out of deep mire, and pointeth him out the way, and guideth his feet when he stumbles, and humbleth him in his pride. Blessed are his generations: nevertheless one shall hunt after them as a man hunteth after an ass that has strayed in the wilderness, and straightway findeth him and bringeth him into the fold. Thus shall the Lord watch over his generation, that they may be saved. Even so. Amen.

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The Prophet's Maxims.

The man who willeth to do well, we should extol his virtues, and speak not of his faults behind his back. A man who wilfully turneth away from his friend without a cause, is not easily forgiven. The kindness of a man should never be forgotten. That person who never forsaketh his trust, should ever have the highest place of regard in our hearts, and our love should never fail, but increase more and more, and this is my disposition and these my sentiments.

Frederick G. Williams.

Brother Frederick G. Williams is one of those men in whom I place the greatest confidence and trust, for I have found him ever full of love and brotherly kindness. He is not a man of many words, but is ever winning, because of his constant mind. He shall ever have place in my heart, and is ever entitled to my confidence. He is perfectly honest and upright, and seeks with all his heart to magnify his Presidency in the Church of Christ, but fails in many instances, in consequence of a want of confidence In himself. God grant that he may overcome all evil. Blessed be Brother Frederick, for he shall never want a friend, and his generation after him shall flourish. The Lord hath appointed him an inheritance upon the land of Zion: yea, and his head shall blossom, and he shall be as an olive branch that is bowed down with fruit. Even so. Amen.

Attorney-General's Letter to the Exiles' Counsel.

The following is a copy of a letter from the Attorney-General of Missouri to the counsel employed by the Church to prosecute the mob in Jackson county:

City of Jefferson,

November 21, 1833.

Messrs. Doniphan and Atchison

Gentlemen: From conversation I have had with the Governor, I believe I am warranted in saying to you, and through you to the Mormons, that if they desire to be replaced in possession of their property, that is, their houses in Jackson County, an adequate force will be sent forthwith to effect that object. Perhaps a direct application had better be made to him for that purpose, if they wish thus to be re-possessed. The militia have been ordered to hold themselves in readiness.

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If the Mormons will organize themselves into regular companies, or a regular company of militia, either volunteers or otherwise, they will, I have no doubt, be supplied with public arms. This must be upon application therefor. A volunteer company must be accepted by the Colonel, and that is a matter in his discretion. Perhaps the best way would be to organize and elect officers as is done in ordinary cases—not volunteers; you could give them the necessary directions on these points. If the Colonel should refuse to order an election of company officers, after they have reported themselves to him for that purpose, he would, I presume, be court-martialed, on representation to the Governor of the facts. As only a certain quantity of public arms can be distributed in each county, those who first apply will be most likely to receive them. The less, therefore, that is said upon the subject the better.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

(Signed) R. W. Wells.

Judge Ryland's Letter to Amos Reese.

Again, Judge Ryland wrote Amos Reese, Esq., Circuit Attorney, also of counsel for the exiled Saints, as follows:

New Lexington,

November 24, 1833.

Dear Sir:—I have been requested by the Governor, to inform him about the outrageous acts of unparalleled violence that have lately happened in Jackson county, and have also been requested to examine into these outrages, and take steps to punish the guilty and screen the innocent.

I cannot proceed unless some person shall be willing to make the proper information before me. I now request you to inform me whether the "Mormons" are willing to take legal steps against the citizens of Jackson county; whether they wish to return there or not; and let me know all the matters connected with this unhappy affair. It will be necessary for you to see the persons injured, and be informed of their desires and intentions. The military force will repair to Jackson county, to aid the execution of any order I make on this subject. Be particular in your information to me. I am willing to go any time to Jackson county, for the purpose of holding a court of inquiry, and binding over to keep the peace such persons as I shall think ought to be restrained.

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It is a disgrace to the state for such acts to happen within its limits, and the disgrace will attach to our official characters, if we neglect to take proper means to insure the punishment due such offenders.

I wish to know whether Joshua Lewis and Hyrum Page handed the writ to the sheriff of Jackson county, that I made and issued on their affidavit, against some of the ringleaders of the mob in Jackson county, dated the sixth of this month.

I will know why he refused to execute the writ, if it ever came to his hands. Inquire into this subject and let me know. I should be glad to see you, and agree upon what course to take. After you have sufficiently informed yourself, come down and see me. As you live near the scene of these outrages, you are better able to receive all information necessary, and prepare for future action, than I am.

Write me as soon as you are properly informed, and state when you can come down and see me on this business. Keep copies of all the letters you write on this subject.

Your friend,

(Signed) John F. Ryland.

November 22.—My brother Don Carlos came to live with me and learn the art of printing.

Hyde and Gould Return to Kirtland.

Elders Orson Hyde and John Gould returned from Missouri to Kirtland on the 25th, and brought the melancholy intelligence of the mob in Jackson county persecuting the brethren.

Elder A. S. Gilbert wrote the Governor of Missouri as follows:

(Confidential.)

Liberty, Clay County,

November 29, 1833.

Dear Sir:—Yesterday I saw Mr. Doniphan, an attorney of this place, who informed me that he saw the Attorney-General, Mr. Wells, in Saline county, last Saturday week, and that Mr. Wells had acquainted him with your intention of ordering a court of inquiry to be held in Jackson county in relation to the late riotous proceedings in that county. Mr. Doniphan is of opinion, from the conversation he had with Mr. Wells, that said order will be suspended till a communication is received from our people, or their counsel. This is therefore to acquaint your Excellency, that most of the heads of our Church had an interview yesterday on the subject of an immediate court of inquiry, to be held in Jackson county; and by their request to me, I hasten to lay before your Excellency serious difficulties attending our people on an immediate court of inquiry being called.

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Our Church is at this time scattered in every direction: some in the new county of Van Buren; a part in this county; and a part in Lafayette, and Ray. Some of our principal witnesses would be women and children, and while the rage of the mob continues, it would be impossible to gather them in safety at Independence. That your Excellency may know of the unabating fury with which the last remnant of our people remaining in that county are pursued at this time, I here state that a few families, perhaps fifteen or twenty, who settled themselves more than two years ago on the prairie about fifteen miles from the county seat of Jackson county, had hoped from the obscurity of their location that they might escape the vengeance of the enemy through the winter; consequently they remained on their plantations, receiving occasionally, a few individual threats, till last Sunday, when a mob made their appearance among them; some with pistols cocked, and presented to their breasts, commanded them to leave the county in three days, or they would tear their houses down over their heads, etc., etc.

Two expresses arrived here from said neighborhood last Monday morning, for advice, and counsel advised their speedy removal for the preservation of life and their personal effects. I suppose these families will be out of the county of Jackson this week. In this distressed situation, in behalf of my brethren, I pray your Excellency to await a further communication, which will soon follow this, setting forth among other things the importance of our people being restored to their possessions, that they may have an equal chance with their enemies in producing important testimony before the court, which the enemy are now determined to deprive them of. I trust that your Excellency will perceive the agitation and consternation that must necessarily prevail among most of our people at this day, from the unparalleled usage they have received, and many of them wandering at this time destitute of shelter.

An immediate court of inquiry called while our people are thus situated, would give our enemies a decided advantage in point of testimony, while they are in possession of their own homes, and ours also; with no enemy in the county to molest or make them afraid.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. S. Gilbert.

To his Excellency Daniel Dunklin, Jefferson City, Mo.

I have seen and read the above letter, and on reflection, I concur entirely in the opinion therein expressed. I also think that at the next regular term of the court, an examination of the criminal matter cannot be gone into, without a guard for the court and witnesses.

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(Signed) Amos Reese.

Remnants Scattered.

Those who were threatened by the mob on Sunday, the 24th, fled into Clay county, and encamped on the banks of the Missouri river. A number of the families went into Van Buren county: their whole number of men, women, and children, being upwards of one hundred and fifty.

New Church Press.

About the 1st of December, Elder Cowdery and Bishop Whitney arrived at Kirtland with a new press and type, and on the 4th commenced distributing the type.

December 5.—I wrote to Bishop Partridge, Liberty, Clay county, Missouri, as follows:

Kirtland, December 5, 1833.

Dear Brethren:—We have just received a letter from Brother Phelps, dated 6th and 7th November, at Liberty, which gives us the painful intelligence of the rage of the enemy, and your present unsettled situation. But I must inform you that there is a great dubiety resting upon our minds, with regard to the true state of affairs of Zion; for there seems to be some difference in the statements of Elder Phelps' letter, and that of Elder Hyde's communication to the editors of the Missouri Republican. 1 Elder Hyde states that "on Monday, the 4th, the mob collected in Independence, to the number of two or three hundred, well armed; that a part of their number went above Blue, to drive away our people, and destroy our property; but they were met by a party of our people, who, being prepared, poured a deadly fire upon them; two of their number fell dead on the ground, and a number were mortally wounded, among the former was Brazeale.

"Tuesday morning there were a number of the mob missing, and could not be accounted for; and while we were at Liberty landing, on Wednesday, a messenger rode up, saying that he had just come from the seat of war, and that the night before, another battle was fought, in which Mr. Hicks fell, having three balls and some buck-shot through his body, and about twenty more shared a similar fate; and also, that one or two of our men were killed, and as many wounded; and he (Hyde) heard the cannonading distinctly, and also stated that the man who broke open the store, took Gilbert, Phelps, and one more, for false imprisonment, and put them in prison, and as near as he could learn, never to let them escape alive."

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This statement of Elder Hyde is somewhat different from that of Elder Phelps, who states that "on Friday night the brethren had mustered about forty or fifty men, armed, and marched into the village, took one prisoner and fired one gun (through mistake); and on Saturday the mob fell upon our brethren above Blue, and one of Manship's sons was mortally wounded. On Monday a regular action was fought near Christian Whitmer's, under the command of Elder David Whitmer. We had four wounded; they had five wounded and two killed, viz.: Linvill and Brazeale. From Friday till Tuesday, our brethren were under arms, when one hundred and fifty of them came forth, like Moroni, to battle. On Tuesday morning the mob had collected to the number of three hundred, and before any blood was shed, we agreed to go away immediately, and the enemy took our guns."

Elder Phelps also states that "since the above was written (viz.; on the 6th), another horrid scene has transpired: after our people surrendered their arms, a party of the mob went above Blue, and began to whip, and even murder; and the brethren have been driven into the woods, and are fleeing to the ferry; and also the mob have hired the ferrymen to carry them across the river (but they made the brethren pay the ferryage); and it was reported that the mob had killed two more of the brethren."

It appears, brethren, that the above statements were made mostly from reports, and there is no certainty of their being correct; therefore, it is difficult for us to advise, and we can only say, that the destinies of all people are in the hands of a just God, and He will do no injustice to any one; and this one thing is sure, that they who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution; and before their robes are made white in the blood of the Lamb, it is to be expected, according to John the Revelator, they will pass through great tribulation.

I wish, when you receive this letter, that you would collect every particular, concerning the mob, from the beginning, and send us a correct statement of facts, as they occurred from time to time, that we may be enabled to give the public correct information on the subject, and inform us also of the situation of the brethren, with respect to their means of sustenance.

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I would inform you, that it is not the will of the Lord for you to sell your lands in Zion, if means can possibly be procured for your sustenance without. Every exertion should be made to maintain the cause you have espoused, and to contribute to the necessities of one another, as much as possible in this your great calamity, and remember not to murmur at the dealings of God with His creatures. You are not as yet brought into as trying circumstances as were the ancient Prophets and Apostles. Call to mind a Daniel, the three Hebrew children, Jeremiah, Paul, Stephen, and many others, too numerous to mention, who were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword, and wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and in mountains, and hid in dens and caves of the earth; yet they all obtained a good report through faith; and amidst all their afflictions they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to receive persecutions for Christ's sake.

We know not what we shall be called to pass through before Zion is delivered and established; therefore, we have great need to live near to God, and always to be in strict obedience to all His commandments, that we may have a conscience void of offense toward God and man. It is your privilege to use every lawful means in your power to seek redress for your grievances from your enemies, and prosecute them to the extent of the law; but it will be impossible for us to render you any temporal assistance, as our means are already exhausted, and we are deeply in debt, and know of no means whereby we shall be able to extricate ourselves.

The inhabitants of this county threaten our destruction, and we know not how soon they may be permitted to follow the example of the Missourians; but our trust is in God, and we are determined, His grace assisting us, to maintain the cause and hold out faithful unto the end, that we may be crowned with crowns of celestial glory, and enter into the rest that is prepared for the children of God.

We are now distributing the type, and intend to commence setting today, and issue a paper the last of this week, or beginning of next. We wrote to Elder Phelps some time since, and also sent by Elder Hyde, for the list of names of subscribers to the Star, which we have not yet received, and, until we receive it, the most of the subscribers will be deprived of the paper; and when you receive this, if you have not sent the list, I wish you to attend to it immediately, as much inconvenience will follow a delay.

We expect shortly to publish a political paper, weekly, in favor of the present administration; the influential men of that party have offered a liberal patronage to us, and we hope to succeed, for thereby we can show the public the purity of our intention in supporting the government under which we live.

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We learn by Elder Phelps, that the brethren have surrendered their arms to the Missourians and are fleeing across the river. If that is the case, it is not meet that they should recommence hostilities with them; but if not, you should maintain the ground as long as there is a man left, as the spot of ground upon which you are located, is the place appointed of the Lord for your inheritance, and it is right in the sight of God that you contend for it to the last.

You will recollect that the Lord has said, that Zion should not be removed out of her place; therefore the land should not be sold, but be held by the Saints, until the Lord in His wisdom shall open a way for your return; and until that time, if you can purchase a tract of land in Clay county for present emergencies, it is right you should do so, if you can do it, and not sell your land in Jackson county. It is not safe for us to send you a written revelation on the subject, but what is stated above is according to wisdom. I haste to a close to give room for Brother Oliver, and remain yours in the bonds of the everlasting covenant,

Joseph Smith, Jun.

Dedication of the New Press.

December 6.—Being prepared to commence our labors in the printing business, I ask God in the name of Jesus, to establish it for ever, and cause that His word may speedily go forth to the nations of the earth, to the accomplishing of His great work in bringing about the restoration of the house of Israel.

This day, also, the Elders in Missouri sent the following petition:

To his Excellency, Daniel Dunklin, Governor of the State of Missouri:

We, the undersigned leading members of the Church of Christ, vulgarly called "Mormons," would respectfully represent to your Excellency—in addition to the petition presented to you by Messrs. Phelps and Hyde, and the affidavit of Messrs Phelps, Gilbert, and M'Lellin, after having read also the letters of the Attorney-General and District Judge of this Circuit to Mr. Reese:—that whereas our society, men, women, and children, after having been in some cases wounded, scourged, and threatened with death, have been driven by force of arms from their lands, houses, and much of their property in Jackson county—most of which lands, houses, and property, have been possessed by the mob of Jackson county, or others, and are now unlawfully detained from the use and possession of our people; that whereas our people have been driven and scattered into the counties of Clay, Ray, Van Buren, Lafayette, and others, where, in many cases, they are destitute of the common necessaries of life even in this winter season; that whereas, the guns which were taken from our people, as set forth in the affidavit, are kept from them; therefore, in behalf of our society, which is so scattered and suffering, we, your petitioners, ask aid and assistance of your Excellency, that we may be restored to our lands, houses, and property, and protected in them by the militia of the state, if legal, or by a detachment of the United States Rangers, which might be located at Independence, instead of at Cantonment Leavenworth, till peace can be restored. This could be done, probably, by conferring with the President, or perhaps with Colonel Dodge. Also, we ask that our men may be organized into companies of Jackson Guards, and be furnished with arms by the state, to assist in maintaining their rights against the unhallowed power of the mob of Jackson county.

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And then, when arrangements are made to protect us in our persons and property (which cannot be done without an armed force, nor would it be prudent to risk our lives there without guards, till we receive strength from our friends to protect ourselves), we wish a court of inquiry instituted, to investigate the whole matter of the mob against the "Mormons:" and we will ever pray.

W. W. Phelps, Isaac Morley,

John Whitmer, Edward Partridge,

John Corrill, A. S. Gilbert.

The following letter accompanied the foregoing petition:

Liberty, December 6, 1833.

Dear Sir:—Your Excellency will perceive by the petition, bearing date with this letter, that we intend to return to Jackson county as soon as arrangements can be made to protect us after we are reinstated in our possessions.

We do not wish to go till we know that our lives are not in danger from a lawless mob. Your Excellency will understand that at this inclement season it will require time to restore us, and troops to protect us after we are there, for the threats of the mob have not ceased.

Your obedient servant,

W. W. PHELPS.

To Daniel Dunklin, Governor of Missouri.

Chapter 32 - Notes

1. The slight discrepancies which the Prophet notes between the report of Elder Hyde and the communications of W. W. Phelps lie chiefly from the inaccuracy of the reports current at that time. It will be seen that they are not very important, but doubtless on account of the anxiety of the Prophet and brethren at Kirtland, seemed so at the time, and at any rate were somewhat confusing.