Volume 2 Chapter 32 | BYU Studies

Volume 2 Chapter 32

 

Chapter 32

The Prophet's Mission—Labors in Massachusetts—The Organization of the Kirtland Safety Society.

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Departure of the Prophet from Kirtland.

On Monday afternoon, July 25th, in company with Sidney Rigdon, Brother Hyrum Smith, and Oliver Cowdery, I left Kirtland, and at seven o'clock the same evening, we took passage on board the steamer Charles Townsend, S. Fox, master, at Fairport, and the next evening, about ten o'clock we arrived at Buffalo, New York, and took lodgings at the "Farmer's Hotel." Here we met with Elders Orson Hyde and Moses C. Nickerson, the former on his way to Canada, and the latter from that province.

To avoid the crowding, fisting, fighting, racing and rioting of the packets, we took passages on a line boat for Utica, where we arrived about eight o'clock a.m. of the 29th, just in time to take the railroad car for Schenectady, the first passenger car on the new road. 1 We were more than six hours traveling eighty miles. The locomotive had hardly stopped before the cry was, "Albany baggage: the cars start in five minutes." Amid a scene of confusion, bustle, and crowding, we succeeded, after a good share of scuffling and pulling, in getting our trunks on board the luggage car for Albany where we arrived the same evening.

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A Steamboat Race.

On the 30th, at seven o'clock a. m., we went on board the Steamer John Mason, which took us to the Erie, lying over the bar. While the passengers were stepping off the John Mason, the steamer Rochester passed us: "Now for a race," was the cry from different parts, and a race trial of speed it was; however, as fate or steam power of engine would have it, the Erie, after touching at Catskill and West Point, where the Rochester did not, went into New York a few minutes "ahead." By such undue pressure of steam the lives of thousands have been sacrificed, and I thanked God that myself and friends were safely landed.

The Great Fire in New York City.

While in New York I visited the burnt district—the part of the city where it was estimated fifteen millions of property was consumed by fire on the 16th of December, 1835, 2 according to the prediction of the ancient Prophets, that there should be "fire and vapor of smoke" in the last days.

Arrival of the Prophet's Party in Salem, Mass.

From New York we continued our journey to Providence, on board a steamer; from thence to Boston, by steam cars, and arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, early in August, where we hired a house, and occupied the same during the month, teaching the people from house to house, and preaching publicly, as opportunity presented; visiting occasionally, sections of the surrounding country, which are rich in the history of the Pilgrim Fathers of New England, in Indian warfare, religious superstition, bigotry, persecution, and learned ignorance.

Reflections of the Prophet on Religious Intolerance.

The early settlers of Boston (the Emporium of New England), who had fled from their mother country to avoid persecution and death, soon became so lost to principles of justice and religious liberty as to whip and hang the Baptist and the Quaker, who like themselves, had fled from tyranny to a land of freedom; and the fathers of Salem from 1692 to 1693, whipped, imprisoned, tortured, and hung many of their citizens for supposed witchcraft; and quite recently,—while boasting of her light and knowledge, of her laws and religion, as surpassed by none on earth,—has New England been guilty of burning a Catholic convent in the vicinity of Charleston, and of scattering the inmates to the four winds; yes, in sight of the very spot where the fire of American Independence was first kindled, where a monument is now erecting in memory of the battle of Bunker Hill, and the fate of the immortal Warren, who bled, who died, on those sacred heights, to purchase religious liberty for his country—in sight of this very spot, have the religionists of the nineteenth century, demolished a noble brick edifice, hurling its inhabitants forth upon a cold, unfeeling world for protection and subsistence.

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Well did the Savior say concerning such, "by their fruits you shall know them." And if the wicked mob who destroyed the Charleston convent, and the cool, calculating religious lookers on, who inspired their hearts with deeds of infamy, do not arise, and redress the wrong, and restore the injured four-fold, they in turn, will receive of the measure they have meted out till the just indignation of a righteous God is satisfied. When will man cease to war with man, and wrest from him his sacred rights of worshiping his God according as his conscience dictates? Holy Father, hasten the day.

I received the following:

Revelation given in Salem, Massachusetts, August 6th, 1836. 3

1. I, the Lord your God, am not displeased with your coming this journey, notwithstanding your follies;

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2. I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion; and many people in this city whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion, through your instrumentality.

3. Therefore it is expedient that you should form acquaintance with men in this city, as you shall be led, and as it shall be given you;

4. And it shall come to pass in due time, that I will give this city into your hands; that you shall have power over it, insomuch that they shall not discover your secret parts; and its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours.

5. Concern not yourselves about your debts, for I will give you power to pay them.

6. Concern not yourselves about Zion, for I will deal mercifully with her.

7. Tarry in this place, and in the regions round about;

8. And the place where it is my will that you should tarry, for the main, shall be signalized unto you by the peace and power of my Spirit, that shall flow unto you.

9. This place you may obtain by hire, etc. And inquire diligently concerning the more ancient inhabitants and founders of this city;

10. For there are more treasures than one for you in this city;

11. Therefore be ye as wise as serpents and yet without sin, and I will order all things for your good, as fast as ye are able to receive them. Amen.

While here [at Salem] Brothers Brigham Young and Lyman E. Johnson arrived. Brother Young had been through New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts, in company with his brother Joseph Young. They visited their relations in this country, and baptized a good number into the Church; they remained in Boston two or three weeks, and baptized seventeen persons. We had a good visit with the brethren, for which I feel very thankful.

Thus I continued in Salem and vicinity until I returned to Kirtland, some time in the month of September. During this month the Church in Clay county, Missouri, commenced removing to their newly selected location on Shoal Creek, in the territory attached to Ray County.

Success of the Ministry.

During the quarter ending September 3rd, fifty-two Elders', six Priests', three Teachers', and two Deacons' licenses were recorded in the license records, in Kirtland, Ohio, by Thomas Burdick. The intelligence from the Elders abroad was interesting. Elder Parley P. Pratt still continued his labors in Upper Canada, Toronto, and vicinity, with good success. Elder Lyman E. Johnson had been laboring in New Brunswick, and other places on the sea-board; and on the 12th, 13th, and 14th of August a conference was held by Elders Brigham Young and Lyman E. Johnson, at Newry, Maine, where seventeen branches were represented, numbering in all three hundred and seventeen members.

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Labors of the Patriarch Joseph Smith, Sen.

October 2nd, 1836.—My father and Uncle John Smith returned to Kirtland from their mission to the Eastern States, having traveled about two thousand four hundred miles, and visited nearly all the branches of the Church in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. During this mission they baptized many, conferred blessings upon many hundreds, and preached the Gospel to many thousands. They also visited their friends and relatives in the land of their nativity. My cousin, George A. Smith, returned the same day from his mission to Richland County, Ohio. Brother Heber C. Kimball returned to Kirtland, having been absent nearly five months, during which time he baptized thirty persons into the Church of the Latter-day Saints, this being in fulfillment of a blessing that I had conferred upon his head before he started on his mission.

Movements of the Saints in Missouri.

Through the month of October the Saints continued to gather at Shoal Creek, Missouri, and my attention was particularly directed to the building up of Kirtland, and the spiritual interests of the Church.

Organization of Kirtland Safety Society

On the 2nd of November the brethren at Kirtland drew up certain articles of agreement, preparatory to the organization of a banking institution, to be called the "Kirtland Safety Society." 4 President Oliver Cowdery was delegated to Philadelphia to procure plates for the institution; and Elder Orson Hyde to repair to Columbus with a petition to the legislature of Ohio, for an act of incorporation, which was presented at an early period of their session, but because we were "Mormons" the legislature raised some frivolous excuse on which they refused to grant us those banking privileges they so freely granted to others. Thus Elder Hyde was compelled to return without accomplishing the object of his mission, while Elder Cowdery succeeded at a great expense in procuring the plates, and bringing them to Kirtland.

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Licenses.

Forty-four Elders' licenses were recorded in the license records at Kirtland during the quarter ending December 1st; also five Priests' and one Teachers' license, by Thomas Burdick.

Organization of Caldwell County.

The Saints having gathered in considerable numbers on Shoal Creek, Missouri, petitioned for an act of incorporation for a new county, which was granted about the middle of December, under the name of Caldwell County, from which time a fresh impetus was given to the gathering, and the county grew like Jonah's gourd.

Minutes of a Conference held in the House of the Lord at Kirtland on the 22nd of December, 1836.

The authorities of the Church being present, viz.: The First Presidency, the High Council of Kirtland, the quorum of the Twelve, the presidents of the Seventies, the president of the Elders and his counselors, and many other official members, such as Priests, Teachers, Deacons etc., the house was called to order, and the following motions were made and carried by the unanimous voice of the assembly:

First—That it has been the case that a very improper and unchristianlike course of conduct has been pursued by the Elders of this Church, and the churches abroad, in sending their poor from among them to this place, without the necessary means of subsistence. Whereas the Church in this place being poor from the beginning, having had to pay an extraordinate price for their lands, provisions, etc. and having a serious burden imposed upon them by comers and goers, from most parts of the world, and an assisting traveling Elder and theirs the families, while they themselves have been laboring in the vineyard of the Lord, to preach the Gospel; and also having suffered great loss in endeavoring to benefit Zion, it (the thing complained of) has become a serious matter which ought to be considered by us.

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Therefore, after deliberate discussion upon the subject, it was moved seconded, and unanimously carried, that we have borne our part of this burden, and that it becomes the duty, henceforth, of all the churches abroad to provide for those who are objects of charity, that are not able to provide for themselves; and not send them from their midst, to burden the Church in this place, unless they come and prepare a place for them, and provide means for their support.

Second—That there be a stop put to churches or families gathering or moving to this place, without their first coming or sending their wise men to prepare a place for them, as our houses are all full, and our lands mostly occupied, except those houses that do not belong to the Church, which cannot be obtained without great sacrifice, especially when brethren with their families are crowding in upon us, and are compelled to purchase at any rate, and consequently are thrown into the hands of speculators, and extortioners, with which course the Lord is not well pleased. Also that the churches abroad be required to do according to the revelation contained in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, commencing at section 101:72-73, which is as follows:

"Now verily I say unto you, let all the churches gather together all their monies; let these things be done in their time, be not in haste; and observe to have all things prepared before you, and let honorable men be appointed, even wise men, and send them to purchase these lands; and all branches of the Church in the eastern countries when they are built up, if they will harken unto this counsel, they may buy lands and gather together upon them, and in this way they may establish Zion."

Joseph Smith, Chairman,

Warren Parrish, Clerk.

Baptism of Doctor Richards.

On the 31st of December, at the setting of the sun, Dr. Willard Richards was baptized at Kirtland, under the hands of President Brigham Young, in the presence of Heber C. Kimball and others, who had spent the afternoon in cutting the ice to prepare for the baptism. 5

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Minutes of a Meeting of the Members of the "Kirtland Safety Society," held on the 2nd day of January, 1837.

At a special meeting of the "Kirtland Safety Society," two-thirds of the members being present, Sidney Rigdon was called to the chair, and Warren Parrish chosen secretary.

The house was called to order, and the object of the meeting explained by the chairman; which was—1st, to annul the old constitution which was adopted by the society, on the second day of November, 1836; which was, on motion by the unanimous voice of the meeting, annulled. 2nd, to adopt articles of agreement, by which the "Kirtland Safety Society" is to be governed.

After much discussion and investigation, the following preamble and articles of agreement were adopted by the unanimous voice of the meeting:

We, the undersigned subscribers, for the promotion of our temporal interests, and for the better management of our different occupations, which consist in agriculture, mechanical arts, and merchandising, do hereby form ourselves into a firm or company for the before-mentioned objects, by the name of the "Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company," for the proper management of said firm, we individually and jointly enter into and adopt the following articles of agreement:

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Article 1st. The capital stock of said society or firm shall not be less than four millions of dollars; to be divided into shares of fifty dollars each; and may be increased to any amount, at the discretion of the managers.

Art. 2nd. The management of said company shall be under the superintendence of thirty-two managers, to be chosen annually, by, and from among, the members of the same; each member being entitled to one vote for each share, which he, she, or they, may hold in said company; and said votes may be given by proxy or in propria persona.

Art. 3rd. It shall be the duty of said managers, when chosen, to elect from their number, a treasurer and secretary. It shall be the further duty of said managers to meet in the upper room of the office of said company, on the first Mondays of November and May, of each year, at 9 o'clock a. m., to inspect the books of said company, and transact such other business as may be deemed necessary,

Art. 4th. It shall be the duty of said managers to choose from among their number, seven men, who shall meet in the upper room of said office on Tuesday of each week, at 3 o'clock p. m., to inquire into and assist in all matters pertaining to said company.

Art. 5th. Each manager shall receive from the company one dollar per day for his services when called together at the annual and semiannual meetings. The treasurer and secretary and the seven the committee of the managers, shall receive a compensation for their services as shall be agreed by the managers at their semi-annual meetings.

Art. 6th. The first election of managers, as set forth in the second article, shall take place at the meeting of the members to adopt this agreement, who shall hold their offices until the first Monday of November, 1837, unless removed by death or misdemeanor, and until others are duly elected. Every annual election of managers shall take place on the first Monday of November in each year. It shall be the duty of the treasurer and secretary of said company to receive the votes of the members by ballot, and declare the election.

Art. 7th. The books of the company shall be always open for the inspection of the members.

Art. 8th. It shall be the duty of the managers of the company to declare a divided once in six months; which dividend shall be apportioned among the members, according to the installments by them paid in.

Art. 9th. All persons subscribing stock in said firm shall pay their first installment at the time of subscribing, and other installments from time to time, as shall be required by the managers.

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Art. 10th. The managers shall give thirty days notice in some public paper, printed in this county, previous to an installment being paid in. All subscribers residing out of the state, shall be required to pay in half the amount of their subscriptions at the time of subscribing; and the remainder, or such part thereof as shall be required at any time by the managers, after thirty days notice.

Art. 11th. The treasurer shall be empowered to call special meetings of the managers whenever he shall deem it necessary, separate and aside from the annual and semi-annual meetings.

Art. 12th. Two-thirds of the managers shall form a quorum to act at the semi-annual meetings, and any number of the seven, the committee of the managers, with the treasurer and secretary, or either of them, may form a quorum to transact business at the weekly meetings, and in case none of the seven is present at the weekly meetings, the treasurer and secretary must transact the business.

Art. 13th. The managers shall have power to enact such by-laws as they may deem necessary from time to time, provided they do not infringe upon these articles of agreement.

Art. 14th. All notes given by said society shall be signed by the treasurer and secretary thereof, and we, the individual members of said firm, hereby hold ourselves bound for the redemption of all such notes.

Art. 15th. The notes given for the benefit of said society shall be given to the treasurer in the following form; "Ninety days after date, we jointly, and severally, promise to pay A. B. or order,——————dollars and————cents, value received." A record of which shall be made in the books at the time, of the amount, and by whom given, and when due, and deposited with the files and papers of said society.

Art. 16th. Any article in this agreement may be altered at any time, annulled, added unto, or expunged by the vote of two-thirds of the members of said society, except the 14th article, that shall remain unaltered during the existence of said company. For the true and faithful fulfillment of the above covenant and agreement, we individually bind ourselves to each other, under the penal sum of one hundred thousand dollars. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals, the day and date first above written.

The Prophet's Remarks on the Kirtland Safety Society.

In connection with the above articles of agreement of the "Kirtland Safety Society," I published the following remarks to all who were preparing themselves, and appointing their wise men, for the purpose of building up Zion and her stakes in the January number of the Messenger and Advocate:

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It is wisdom and according to the mind of the Holy Spirit, that you should call at Kirtland, and receive counsel and instruction upon those principles that are necessary to further the great work of the Lord, and to establish the children of the kingdom, according to the oracles of God; as they are had among us: and further, we invite the brethren from abroad, to call on us, and take stock in our Safety Society; and we would remind them also of the sayings of Isaiah, contained in the 60th chapter and more particularly the 9th and 17th verses, which are as follows: "Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold [not their bank notes] with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He hath glorified thee. * * * For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood, brass, and for stone, iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness." Also 62nd chapter, 1st verse: "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.

Joseph Smith, Jun.

Chapter 32

1. This was the Albany & Schenectady Railway, the first railroad contracted for in New York; it began to operate in September, 1831. It was at that time called the Mohawk & Hudson railroad and ran from Albany to Schenectady. Its charter was "issued in 1826 and is generally regarded as the earliest charter given in the United States for the construction of a railroad.

2. The fire here alluded to broke out on the night of the 16th of December, 1835, and in fourteen hours there was consumed over seventeen million dollars' worth of property. The burnt district covered several acres of ground in the most prominent business part of the city.

3. See D&C 111.

4. "Kirtland Safety Society Bank" was the full title of the proposed institution, and Oliver Cowdery had the plates on which bank notes were to be printed so engraved.

5. Dr. Willard Richards was born at Hopkinton, Middlesex county, Masschusetts, June 24, 1804, and from the religious teachings of his parents (Joseph and Rhoda Richards), he was the subject of religious impressions from his earliest moments, although careless and indifferent in his external deportment. At the age of ten years he removed with his father's family to Richmond, in the same state, where he witnessed several sectarian "revivals," and offered himself to the Congregational Church in that place, at the age of seventeen, having previously passed the painful ordeal of conviction and conversion, according to that order, even to the belief that he had committed the unpardonable sin; but the total disregard of that Church to his request for admission, led him to a more thorough investigation of the principles of religion, when he became convinced that the sects were all wrong, and that God had no Church on earth, but that He would soon have a Church whose creed would be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and from that time kept himself aloof from sectarian influence, boldly declaring his belief to all who wished to learn his views: until the summer of 1835, while in the practice of medicine near Boston, the Book of Mormon. which President Brigham Young had left with his cousin Lucius Parker, at Southborough, accidentally or providentially fell in his way, which was the first he had seen or heard of the Latter-Day Saints, except the scurrilous reports of the public prints, which amounted to nothing more than that "a boy named Jo Smith, somewhere out west, had found a gold Bible." He opened the book without regard to place, and totally ignorant of its design or contents, and before reading half a page, declared "God or the Devil has had a hand in that book, for man never wrote it." He read it twice through in about ten days, and so firm was his conviction of the truth, that he immediately commenced settling his accounts, selling his medicine, and freeing himself from every incumbrance, that he might go to Kirtland, seven hundred miles west, the nearest point he could hear of a Saint, and give the work a thorough investigation; firmly believing that if the doctrine was true, God had some greater work for him to do than to peddle pills. But no sooner did he commence a settlement than he was smitten with palsy, from which he suffered exceedingly, and was prevented executing his design until October, 1836, when he arrived at Kirtland, in company with his brother (Doctor Levi Richards, who attended him as physician), where he was most cordially and hospitably received and entertained by his cousin, President Brigham Young, with whom he tarried, and gave the work an unceasing and untiring investigation until the day of his baptism.