Volume 3 Chapter 19 | BYU Studies

Volume 3 Chapter 19


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Chapter 19

Letters To The Prophet—Affairs In England—Petitions.

Tuesday, March 5.

Edward Partridge's Letter to Joseph Smith, Jun., and Others, Confined in Liberty Jail, Missouri.

Quincy, Illinois.

Beloved Brethren:—Having an opportunity to send direct to you by Brother Rogers, I feel to write a few lines to you.

President Rigdon, Judge Higbee, Israel Barlow, and myself went to see Dr. Isaac Galland week before last. Brothers Rigdon, Higbee and myself are of the opinion that it is not wisdom to make a trade with the Doctor at present; possibly it may be wisdom to effect a trade hereafter.

The people here receive us kindly; they have contributed near $100 cash, besides other property, for the relief of the suffering among our people. Brother Joseph's wife lives at Judge Cleveland's; I have not seen her, but I sent her word of this opportunity to send to you. Brother Hyrum's wife lives not far from me. I have been to see her a number of times; her health was very poor when she arrived, but she has been getting better; she knows of this opportunity to send. I saw Sister Wight soon after her arrival here; all were well; I understand she has moved about two miles with father and John Higbee, who are fishing this spring. Sister McRae is here, living with Brother Henderson, and is well; I believe she knows of this opportunity to send. Brother Baldwin's family I have not seen, and do not know that she has got here as yet. She, however, may be upon the other side of the river; the ice has run these three days past, so that there has been no crossing; the weather is now moderating, and the crossing will soon commence again.

This place is full of our people, yet they are scattering off nearly all the while. I expect to start tomorrow for Pittsfield, Pike county, Illinois, about forty-five miles southeast from this place. Brother George W. Robinson told me this morning that he expected that his father-in-law, Judge Higbee, and himself would go on a farm about twenty miles northeast from this place. Some of the leading men have given us [that is the Saints] an invitation to settle in and about this place. Many no doubt will stay here.

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Brethren, I hope that you will bear patiently the privations that you are called to endure; the Lord will deliver you in His own due time.

Your letter respecting the trade with Galland was not received here until after our return from his residence, at the head of the shoals or rapids. If Brother Rigdon were not here, we might, after receiving your letter, come to a different conclusion respecting that trade. There are some here that are sanguine that we ought to trade with the Doctor. Bishops Whitney and Knight are not here, and have not been, as I know of. Brothers Morley and Billings have settled some twenty or twenty-five miles north of this place, for the present. A Brother Lee, who lived near Haun's Mill, died on the opposite side of the river a few days since. Brother Rigdon preached his funeral sermon in the court-house. It is a general time of health here.

We greatly desire to see you and to have you enjoy your freedom. The citizens here are willing that we should enjoy the privileges guaranteed to all civil people without molestation.

I remain your brother in the Lord,

Edward Partridge.

Don Carlos Smith to Joseph Smith, Jun., and Others Confined in Liberty Jail, Missouri.

Quincy, Illinois, March 6, 1839.

Brothers Hyrum And Joseph:—Having an opportunity to send a line to you, I do not feel disposed to let it slip unnoticed. Father's family have all arrived in this state except you two; and could I but see your faces this side of the Mississippi, and know and realize that you had been delivered from your enemies, it would certainly light up a new gleam of hope in our bosoms; nothing could be more satisfactory, nothing could give us more joy.

Emma and the children are well; they live three miles from here, and have a tolerably good place. Hyrum's children and mother Grinold's are living at present with father; they are all well. Mary [wife of Hyrum Smith] has not got her health yet, but I think it increases slowly. She lives in the house with old Father Dixon; likewise Brother Robert T. Thompson and family; they are probably a half mile from father's. We are trying to get a house, and to get the family together; we shall do the best we can for them, and that which we consider to be most in accordance with Hyrum's feelings.

Father and mother stood their journey remarkably well. They are in tolerable health. Samuel's wife has been sick ever since they arrived. William has removed forty miles from here, but is here now, and says he is anxious to have you liberated, and see you enjoy liberty once more. My family is well; my health has not been good for about two weeks; and for two or three days the toothache has been my tormentor. It all originated with a severe cold.

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Dear brethren, we just heard that the governor says that he is going to set you all at liberty; I hope it is true; other letters that you will probably receive will give you information concerning the warm feeling of the people here towards us.

After writing these hurried lines in misery, I close by leaving the blessings of God with you, and praying for your health, prosperity and restitution to liberty.

This from a true friend and brother,

Don C. Smith.

William Smith to Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

Brothers Hyrum And Joseph:—I should have called down to Liberty to have seen you had it not been for the multiplicity of business that was on my hands; and again, I thought that perhaps the people might think that the "Mormons" would rise up to liberate you; consequently too many going to see you might make it worse for you; but we all long to see you and have you come out of that lonesome place. I hope you will be permitted to come to your families before long. Do not worry about them, for they will be taken care of. All we can do will be done; further than this, we can only wish, hope, desire, and pray for your deliverance.

William Smith.

To Joseph Smith, Jun., and Hyrum Smith.

Friday, March 8.

Minutes of a Meeting of the Committee on Removal.

The committee met at Theodore Turley's, William Huntingon in the chair.

Alanson Ripley made a report of his journey to Liberty, and said that President Joseph Smith, Jun., counseled to sell all the land in Jackson county, and all other lands in the state whatsoever.

Resolved, That the names of those of the brethren who have subscribed to our covenant and have done nothing, be sought for, and a record made of them, that they may be had in remembrance.

Resolved, That an extra exertion be made to procure money for removing the poor, by visiting those who have money, and laying the necessities of the committee, in their business of removing the poor out of the state, before them, and solicit their assistance.

Voted that the clerk write a letter to Bishop Partridge, laying before him the advice of President Joseph Smith, Jun., concerning selling the Jackson county lands, and requesting a power of attorney to sell them.

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Saturday, 9.

Minutes of the Adjourned Meeting of the Democratic Association of Quincy.

At a meeting held at the committee room in the city of Quincy, Illinois, at two o'clock, p.m., on the 9th March, 1839, pursuant to previous appointment, it was moved by President Rigdon, and seconded, that Judge Elias Higbee be called to the chair, and he was unanimously appointed. James Sloan was then appointed clerk by vote.

President Rigdon spoke as to the members of the committee being absent who had called the meeting, and proposed that other business be proceeded with in the meantime, and left it to the chair to decide on the propriety thereof. The chair assented to the suggestion of President Rigdon.

President Rigdon then applied for a paper which had been prepared, and signed by several of the citizens of Quincy, describing our situation as a people and calling upon the humane in St. Louis and elsewhere to assist them in affording us relief. The paper, being presented by Brother Ephraim Owen, was then read, and President Rigdon spoke at length upon the subject, and proposed that a committee of two of the brethren be appointed by the voice of the meeting to go to St. Louis on such business. The motion was then put and carried, and Brother Mace was appointed as one of said committee, and Brother Ephraim Owen the other. It was proposed that Brother Orson Pratt (who is now in St. Louis) be appointed an assistant.

After the motion was made, and before it was seconded, President Rigdon spoke of its inconsistency, and stated, as a better mode, that all the Saints in St. Louis, or such of them as the committee may think proper, be called upon to assist them. The motion was withdrawn, and this business closed.

Some of the committee who called this meeting, being now present, President Rigdon spoke of two letters which had been received here by the brethren, from Iowa Territory, respecting lands in said place, and containing sentiments of sympathy on account of our grievances and distressed situation. One of these letters has been mislaid, and the other, from Isaac Galland to Brother Rogers, was read. It was then proposed that a committee be appointed to visit the lands, and confer with the gentlemen who had so written, and declared themselves interested for our welfare.

Elder John P. Greene moved that a committee be appointed for that purpose, which was seconded, and adopted unanimously. President Rigdon moved that the committee shall select the land, if it can be safely occupied. Seconded by Elder Greene, and carried that the committee be composed of five, viz.: President Rigdon, Elder Greene, Judge Higbee, Brother Benson and Brother Israel Barlow.

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It was moved, seconded and adopted, that if any one or more of the committee be unable to go, the remainder of the committee are to appoint others in their stead.

The chairman now produced a power of attorney, sent here from the committee at Far West, to be executed by such of the brethren here who had lands in Caldwell county, and were willing to have them sold, to enable the families who are in distress at that place to get here, say about one hundred families.

Power of attorney was read. Moved, seconded and adopted, that the clerk of this meeting do make out a copy of the minutes of this meeting, to be sent to the committee at Far West.

James Sloan, Clerk.

Condition of Affairs in England.

While the persecutions were progressing against us in Missouri, the enemy of all righteousness was no less busy with the Saints in England, according to the length of time the Gospel had been preached in that kingdom. Temptation followed temptation, and being young in the cause, the Saints suffered themselves to be buffeted by their adversary. From the time that Elder Willard Richards was called to the apostleship, in July, 1838, the devil seemed to take a great dislike to him, and strove to stir up the minds of many against him. Elder Richards was afflicted with sickness, and several times was brought to the borders of the grave, and many were tempted to believe that he was under transgression, or he would not be thus afflicted. Some were tried and tempted because Elder Richards took to himself a wife; they thought he should have given himself wholly to the ministry, and followed Paul's advice to the letter. Some were tried because his wife wore a veil, and others because she carried a muff to keep herself warm when she walked out in cold weather; and even the President of the Church [Joseph Fielding] there, thought "she had better done without it;" she had nothing ever purchased by the Church; and to gratify their feelings, wore the poorest clothes she had, and they were too good, so hard was it to buffet the storm of feeling that arose from such foolish causes. Sister Richards was very sick for some time, and some were dissatisfied because her husband did not neglect her entirely and go out preaching; and others, that she did not go to meeting when she was not able to go so far.

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Charges of Elder Halsal Against Elder Willard Richards.

From such little things arose a spirit of jealousy, tattling, evil speaking, surmising, covetousness, and rebellion, until the Church but too generally harbored more or less of those unpleasant feelings: and this evening [March 9th] Elder Halsal came out openly in council against Elder Richards, and preferred some heavy charges, none of which he was able to substantiate. Most of the Elders in Preston were against Elder Richards for a season, except James Whitehead, who proved himself true in the hour of trial.

The Cause of Elder Richards' Troubles.

Sunday, 10.—When Elder Richards made proclamation from the pulpit, that if anyone had aught against him, or his wife Jennetta, he wished they would come to him and state their grievances, and if he had erred in anything, he would acknowledge his fault, one only of the brethren came to him, and that to acknowledge his own fault to Elder Richards in harboring unpleasant feelings without a cause.

Sister Richards bore all these trials and persecutions with patience. Elder Richards knew the cause of these unpleasantries, his call [to the apostolate] having been made known to him by revelation; but he told no one of it. The work continued to spread in Manchester and vicinity, among the Staffordshire potteries, and other places in England.

Friday, 15.—I made the following petition:

The Petition of the Prophet et al. to Judge Tompkins et al.

To the honorable Judge Tompkins, or either of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri:

Your petitioners, Alanson Ripley, Heber C. Kimball, Joseph B. Noble, William Huntington, and Joseph Smith, Jun., beg leave respectfully to represent to your honor, that Joseph Smith, Jun., is now unlawfully confined and restrained of his liberty in Liberty jail, Clay county, Missouri; that he has been restrained of his liberty nearly five months. Your petitioners claim that the whole transaction which has been the cause of his confinement, is unlawful from the first to the last. He was taken from his house by a fraud being practiced upon him by a man of the name of George M. Hinkle, and one or two others; thereby your petitioners respectfully show, that he was forced, contrary to his wishes, and without knowing the cause, into the camp, which was commanded by General Lucas of Jackson county, and thence sent to Ray county, sleeping on the ground, and suffering many insults and injuries and deprivations, which were calculated in their nature to break down the spirit and constitution of the most robust and hardy of mankind.

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He was put in chains immediately on his being landed at Richmond, and there underwent a long and tedious ex parte examination.

Your petitioners show that the said Joseph Smith, Jun., was deprived of the privileges of being examined before the court as the law directs; that the witnesses on the part of the state were taken by force of arms, threatened with extermination or immediate death, and were brought without subpoena or warrant, under the awful and glaring anticipation of being exterminated if they did not swear something against him to please the mob or his persecutors; and those witnesses were compelled to swear at the muzzle of the gun, and some of them have acknowledged since, which your petitioners do testify, and are able to prove, that they did swear falsely, and that they did it in order to save their lives.

And your petitioners testify that all the testimony that had any tendency or bearing of criminality against said Joseph Smith, Jun., is false. We are personally acquainted with the circumstances, and being with him most of the time, and being present at the time spoken of by them, therefore we know that their testimony was false; and if he could have had a fair trial, and impartial, and lawful examination before the court, and could have been allowed the privilege of introducing his witnesses, he could have disproved everything that was against him; but the court suffered them to be intimidated, some of them in the presence of the court, and they were driven also and hunted, and some of them driven entirely out of the state.

And thus he was not able to have a fair trial; that the spirit of the court was tyrannical and overbearing, and the whole transaction of his treatment during the examination was calculated to convince your petitioners that it was a religious persecution, proscribing him in the liberty of conscience which is guaranteed to him by the Constitution of the United States, and the state of Missouri; that a long catalogue of garbled testimony was permitted by the court, purporting to be the religious sentiment of the said Joseph Smith, Jun., which testimony was false, and your petitioners know that it was false, and can prove that it was false; because the witnesses testified that those sentiments were promulgated on certain days, and in the presence of large congregations; and your petitioners can prove, by those congregations, that the said Joseph Smith, Jun., did not promulgate such ridiculous and absurd sentiments for his religion as were testified of and admitted before the Honorable Austin A. King; and at the same time those things had no bearing on the offenses that the said Joseph Smith, Jun., was charged with; and after the examination the said prisoner was committed to the jail for treason against the state of Missouri; whereas the said Joseph Smith, Jun., did not levy war against the state of Missouri; neither did he commit any overt acts; neither did he aid or abet an enemy against the state of Missouri during the time he is charged with having done so.

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And further, your petitioners have yet to learn that the state has an enemy; neither is the proof evident, nor the presumption great, in its most malignant form, upon the testimony on the part of the state, exparte as it is in its nature, that the said prisoner has committed the slightest degree of treason, or any other act of transgression against the laws of the state of Missouri; and yet said prisoner has been committed to Liberty jail, Clay County, Missouri, for treason. He has continually offered bail to any amount that could be required, notwithstanding your petitioners allege that he ought to have been acquitted.

Your petitioners also allege, that the commitment was an illegal commitment, for the law requires that a copy of the testimony should be put in the hands of the jailer, which was not done.

Your petitioners allege, that the prisoner has been denied the privilege of the law in a writ of habeas corpus, by the judge of this county. Whether they have prejudged the case of the prisoner, or whether they are not willing to administer law and justice to the prisoner, or that they are intimidated by the high office of Judge King, who only acted in the case of the prisoner as a committing magistrate, a conservator of the peace, or by the threats of a lawless mob, your petitioners are not able to say; but it is a fact that they do not come forward boldly and administer the law to the relief of the prisoner.

And further, your petitioners allege that immediately after the prisoner was taken, his family were frightened and driven out of their house, and that too, by the witnesses on the part of the state, and plundered of their goods; that the prisoner was robbed of a very fine horse, saddle and bridle, and other property of considerable amount; that they (the witnesses) in connection with the mob, have finally succeeded, by vile threatening and foul abuse, in driving the family of the prisoner out of the state, with little or no means; and without a protector, and their very subsistence depends upon the liberty of the prisoner. And your petitioners allege, that he is not guilty of any crime, whereby he should be restrained of his liberty, from a personal knowledge, having been with him, and being personally acquainted with the whole of the difficulties between the "Mormons" and their persecutors; and that he has never acted at any time, only in his own defense, and that too on his own ground, property and possessions. That the prisoner has never commanded any military company, nor held any military authority, neither any other office, real or pretended in the state of Missouri, except that of a religious instructor; that he never has borne arms in the military rank; and in all such cases has acted as a private character and as an individual.

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How, then, your petitioners would ask, can it be possible that the prisoner has committed treason? The prisoner has had nothing to do in Daviess county, only on his own business as an individual.

The testimony of Dr. Avard concerning a council held at James Sloan's was false. Your petitioners do solemnly declare, that there was no such council; that your petitioners were with the prisoner, and there was no such vote or conversation as Dr. Avard swore to. That Dr. Avard also swore falsely concerning a constitution, as he said was introduced among the Danites; that the prisoner had nothing to do with burning in Daviess county; that the prisoner made public proclamation against such things; that the prisoner did oppose Dr. Avard and George M. Hinkle against vile measures with the mob, but was threatened by them if he did not let them alone. That the prisoner did not have anything to do with what is called Bogart's battle, for he knew nothing of it until it was over; that he was at home, in the bosom of his own family, during the time of that whole transaction.

And, in fine, your petitioners allege, that he is held in confinement without cause, and under an unlawful and tyrannical oppression, and that his health, and constitution, and life depend on being liberated from his confinement.

Your petitioners aver that they can disprove every item of testimony that has any tendency of criminality against the prisoner; for they know the facts themselves, and can bring many others also to prove the same.

Therefore your petitioners pray your honor to grant to him the state's writ of habeas corpus, directed to the jailer of Clay county, Missouri, commanding him forthwith to bring before you the body of the prisoner, so that his case may be heard before your honor, and the situation of the prisoner be considered and adjusted according to law and justice, as it shall be presented before your honor, and, as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

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And further, your petitioners testify that the said Joseph Smith, Jun., did make a public proclamation in Far West, in favor of the militia of the state of Missouri, and of its laws and also of the Constitution of the United States; and that he has ever been a warm friend to his country, and did use all his influence for peace; that he is a peaceable and quiet citizen, and is not worthy of death, of stripes, bond, or imprisonment.

The above mentioned speech was delivered on the day before the surrender of Far West,

Alanson Ripley,

Heber C. Kimball,

William Huntington,

Joseph B. Noble,

Joseph Smith, Jun.

State Of Missouri, ss.

County Of Clay.

This day personally appeared before me, Abraham Shafer, a justice of the peace within and for the aforesaid county, Alanson Ripley, Heber C. Kimball, William Huntington, Joseph B. Noble and Joseph Smith, Jun., who being duly sworn, do depose and say that the matters and things set forth in the foregoing petition, upon their own knowledge, are true in substance and in fact; and so far as set forth upon the information of others, they believe to be true.

Alanson Ripley,
Heber C. Kimball,
William Huntington,
Joseph B. Noble,
Joseph Smith, Jun.

Sworn and subscribed to before me, this 15th day of March, 1839.

Abrham Shafer, J. P.

We, the undersigned, being many of us personally acquainted with the said Joseph Smith, Jun., and the circumstances connected with his imprisonment, do concur in the petition and testimony of the above-named individuals, as most of the transactions therein mentioned we know from personal knowledge to be correctly set forth; and from information of others, believe the remainder to be true.

Amasa Lyman,
H. G. Sherwood,
James Newberry,
Cyrus Daniels,
Erastus Snow,
Elias Smith.

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The same day Caleb Baldwin, Lyman Wight, Alexander McRae, and Hyrum Smith, my fellow prisoners, made each a similar petition.