Instructions on Baptism for the Dead—Correspondence between Emma Smith and Governor Carlin—The Prophet’s First Letter to James Arlington Bennett.
Some time this month [August, 1842] Elder Hyde published a pamphlet in the German language, in Germany, entitled “A Cry out of the Wilderness,” &c., of about 120 pages, setting forth the rise, progress and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
About this time, while I was crossing from Montrose to Nauvoo in a boat in company with Brother Hyrum, we passed through an immense shoal of fish of considerable size. Hundreds jumped in and over the boat; but we succeeded in catching about sixteen, which we brought to shore.
Thursday, September 1, 1842.— During the forenoon in the Assembly Room, and in the afternoon at home, attending to business. Wrote the following:
A Letter from the Prophet to the Saints at Nauvoo—Directions on Baptism for the Dead. 1
To all the Saints in Nauvoo.—Forasmuch as the Lord has revealed unto me that my enemies, both in Missouri and this state, were again in the pursuit of me; and inasmuch as they pursue me without a cause, and have not the least shadow or coloring of justice or right on their side, in the getting up of their prosecutions against me; and inasmuch as their pretensions are all founded in falsehood of the blackest dye, I have thought it expedient and wisdom in me to leave the place for a short season, for my own safety and the safety of this people.
I would say to all those with whom I have business, that I have left my affairs with agents and clerks, who will transact all business in a prompt and proper manner, and will see that all my debts are cancelled in due time, by turning out property, or otherwise, as the case may require, or as the circumstances may admit of. When I learn that the storm is fully blown over, then I will return to you again.
2. And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world, for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves. God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad.
But, nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in; it all has become second nature to me. And I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation: for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.
3. Let all the Saints rejoice, therefore, and be exceedingly glad, for Israel’s God is their God; and he will mete out a just recompense of reward upon the heads of all your oppressors.
4. And again, verily, thus saith the Lord, let the work of my Temple, and all the works which I have appointed unto you, be continued on and not cease; and let your diligence and your perseverance, and patience, and your works be redoubled; and you shall in no wise lose your reward, saith the Lord of Hosts; and if they persecute you, so persecuted they the prophets and righteous men that were before you. For all this there is a reward in heaven.
5. And again I give unto you a word in relation to the baptism for your dead.
6. Verily thus saith the Lord unto you concerning your dead: when any of you are baptized for your dead, let there be a recorder; and let him be eyewitness of your baptisms; let him hear with his ears, that he may testify of a truth, saith the Lord.
7. That in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven; whatsoever you bind on earth may be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
8. For I am about to restore many things to the earth pertaining to the Priesthood, saith the Lord of Hosts.
9. And again, let all the records be had in order, that they may be put in the archives of my Holy Temple, to be held in remembrance from generation to generation, saith the Lord of Hosts.
10. I will say to all the Saints, that I desired with exceedingly great desire to have addressed them from the stand on the subject of baptism for the dead, on the following Sabbath. But inasmuch as it is out of my power to do so, I will write the word of the Lord from time to time, on that subject and send it you by mail, as well as many other things.
11. And now I close my letter for the present, for the want of more time; for the enemy is on the alert; and, as the Savior said, the prince of this world cometh, but he hath nothing in me.
12. Behold my prayer to God is, that you all may be saved: and I subscribe myself your servant in the Lord, Prophet and Seer of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The following is from the Times and Seasons of September 1st.
Excerpt from a Communication from William Law.
Let none suppose that God is angry with His Saints because He suffers the hand of persecution to come upon them. He chasteneth those whom He loveth, and trieth and proveth every son and daughter, that they may be as gold seven times purified. Rejoice then, ye Saints of the Most High; for the God of Abraham is your God, and He will deliver you from all your enemies. Seek diligently to know His will, and observe to do it. Be zealous in the cause of truth, in building up the kingdom of Christ upon the earth, in rearing up the Temple of God at Nauvoo, and in all works of righteousness. And say not “The Lord delayeth His coming;” for behold the day draweth near; the hour approacheth; be ye ready.
Be virtuous, be just, be honorable, be full of faith, love and charity; pray much and be patient; wait a little season and the voice of God shall thunder from the heavens His voice shall be very terrible; then the wicked shall tremble and fall back; they shall be taken in their own snares, and fall into the pit that they have digged for others; but the just shall live by faith, and shall shine forth as the stars in the firmament; their glory shall be as the brightness of the sun; for they are God’s.
Friday, 2.— Spent the day at home. A report reached the city this afternoon that the sheriff was on his way to Nauvoo with an armed force.
Saturday, 3.— In the morning at home, in company with John F. Boynton. 2
An Attempt to Arrest the Prophet.
A letter was received from Brother Hollister to the effect that the Missourians were again on the move, and that two requisitions were issued, one on the governor of this state, and the other on the governor of Iowa. Their movements were represented as being very secret and resolute. Soon after 12 o’clock, Pitman, the deputy sheriff, and two other men came into the house. It appears that they had come up the riverside, and hitched their horses below the Nauvoo House, and then proceeded on foot undiscovered, until they got into the house. When they arrived, President Joseph Smith was in another apartment of the house, eating dinner with his family. John Boynton happened to be the first person discovered by the sheriffs, and they began to ask him where Mr. Smith was. He answered that he saw him early in the morning; but did not say that he had seen him since.
While this conversation was going on, President Joseph Smith passed out of the back door, and through the corn in his garden to Brother Newel K. Whitney’s. He went up stairs undiscovered. Meantime Sister Emma went and conversed with the sheriffs. Pitman said he wanted to search the house for Mr. Smith. In answer to a question by Sister Emma, he said he had no warrant authorizing him to search, but insisted upon searching the house. She did not refuse, and accordingly they searched through, but to no effect.
This is another testimony and evidence of the mean, corrupt, illegal proceedings of our enemies, notwithstanding the Constitution of the United States says, Article 4th, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”
Yet these men audaciously, impudently and altogether illegally searched the house of President Joseph Smith even without any warrant or authority whatever. Being satisfied that he was not in the house, they departed. They appeared to be well armed, and no doubt intended to take him either dead or alive; which we afterwards heard they had said they would do; but the Almighty again delivered His servant from their bloodthirsty grasp.
It is rumored that there are fifteen men in the city along with the sheriffs, and that they dined together today at Amos Davis’s. Soon after sundown, Thomas King and another person arrived at the house and demanded to search, which they immediately did; but, finding nothing they also went towards Davis’s. Some of them were seen about afterwards; but at about ten o’clock all was quiet.
It is said that they started from Quincy yesterday, expecting and fully determined to reach Nauvoo in the night, and fall upon the house unawares; but report says they lost the road, and got scattered away one from another, and could not get along until daylight. This, in all probability, is true, as they appeared much fatigued, and complained of being weary and sore from riding.
President Smith, accompanied by Brother Erastus Derby, left Brother Whitney’s about nine o’clock, and went to Brother Edward Hunter’s, where he was welcomed, and made comfortable by the family, and where he can be kept safe from the hands of his enemies.
Sunday, 4.— Hyrum Smith and William Law left for the Eastern States.
Monday, 5.— The sisters wrote as follows:
Petition of the Female Relief Society to Governor Carlin.
To his Excellency Thomas Carlin, Governor of the State of Illinois:
We, the undersigned members of the Nauvoo Relief Society, and Ladies of Nauvoo, hearing many reports concerning mobs, threats of extermination, and other excitement, set on foot by John C. Bennett, calculated to disturb the peace, happiness and well-being of this community, have taken the liberty to petition your Excellency for protection.
It may be considered irrelevant for ladies to petition your Excellency on the above-named subject, and may be thought by you, Sir, to be officious, and that it would be more becoming for our husbands, fathers, brothers and sons to engage in this work, and in our defense. This, Sir, we will admit, in ordinary cases is right, and that it would be more consistent with the delicacy of the female character to be silent; but on occasions like the present, our desires for the peace of society, the happiness of our friends, the desire to save the lives of our husbands, our fathers, our brothers, our children, and our own lives, will be a sufficient palliation, in the estimation of your Excellency, for the step we have taken in presenting this petition, in support of the one already sent your Excellency by the male inhabitants of this city
We would respectfully represent to your Excellency that we have not yet forgotten the scenes of grief, misery and woe that we had to experience from the hands of ruthless and bloodthirsty mobs in the state of Missouri. The cup of misery was prepared by lying, slander and misrepresentation. It was wrung out and filled by tyranny and oppression, and by a ruthless, inhuman mob. We had to drink it to the dregs.
Your Excellency will bear with us if we remind you of the cold-blooded atrocities that we witnessed in that state. Our bosoms heave with horror, our eyes are dim, our knees tremble, our hearts are faint, when we think of their horrid deeds; and if the petitions of our husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons will not answer with your Excellency, we beseech you to remember that of their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters. Let the voice of injured innocence in Missouri speak; let the blood of our fathers, our brothers, our sons and our daughters speak; let the tears of the widows and orphans, the maimed and impoverished speak; and let the injuries sustained by fifteen thousand innocent, robbed, spoiled, persecuted, and injured people speak; let the tale of woe be told; let it be told without embellishment, prejudice or color; and we are persuaded there is no heart but will be softened, no feelings but will be affected, and no person, but will flee to our relief.
Far be it from us to accuse your Excellency of obduracy or injustice. We believe you to be a humane, feeling, benevolent and patriotic man; and therefore we appeal to you.
Concerning John C. Bennett who is trying with other political demagogues, to disturb our peace, we believe him to be an unvirtuous man and a most consummate scoundrel, a stirrer up of sedition, and a vile wretch unworthy the attention or notice of any virtuous man; and his published statements concerning Joseph Smith are bare-faced, unblushing falsehoods.
We would further recommend to your Excellency, concerning Joseph Smith, that we have the utmost confidence in him, as being a man of integrity, honesty, truth, and patriotism. We have never, either in public or private, heard him teach any principles but the principles of virtue and righteousness. And so we have knowledge, and we know him to be a pure, chaste, virtuous and godly man.
Under these circumstances, we would petition your Excellency to exert your privilege in an official capacity, and not to suffer him (should he be demanded) to go into the state of Missouri; for we know that, if he should, it would be the delivering up the innocent to be murdered. We would represent to your Excellency that we are a law-abiding people, a virtuous people, and we would respectfully refer your Excellency to the official documents of the state during our three years’ residence in it, in proof of this. If we transgress laws, we are willing to be tried by those laws, but we dread mobs, we dread illegal process; we dread fermentation, calumny and lies, knowing that our difficulties in Missouri first commenced with these things.
We pray that we may not be delivered into the hands of mobs, or subjected to illegal proceedings of the militia, but that we may have the privilege of self-defense, in case of attack, without having to contend with legalized mobs as in Missouri; and we therefore appeal to the honor, philanthropy, justice, benevolence and patriotism of your Excellency, to afford us all legal protection and to grant us our request; and we, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Tuesday, September 6, 1842.— I wrote as follows:
Letter of the Prophet to the Church—Further Directions on Baptism for the Dead. 3
Nauvoo, September 6, 1842.
To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, greeting:—
1. As I stated to you in my letter, before I left my place, that I would write to you from time to time, and give you information in relation to many subjects, I now resume the subject of the baptism for the dead, as that subject seems to occupy my mind, and press itself upon my feelings the strongest, since I have been pursued by my enemies.
2. I wrote a few words of revelation to you concerning a recorder. I have had a few additional views in relation to this matter, which I now certify. That is, it was declared in my former letter that there should be a recorder who should be eye-witness, and also to hear with his ears, that he might make a record of a truth before the Lord.
3. Now, in relation to this matter, it would be very difficult for one recorder to be present at all times, and to do all the business. To obviate this difficulty, there can be a recorder appointed in each ward of the city, who is well qualified for taking accurate minutes; and let him be very particular and precise in taking the whole proceedings, certifying in his record that he saw with his eyes and heard with his ears, giving the date, and names, &c., and the history of the whole transaction; naming also, some three individuals that are present, if there be any present, who can at any time, when called upon, certify to the same, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
4. Then let there be a general recorder, to whom these other records can be handed, being attended with certificates over their own signatures, certifying that the record they have made is true. Then the general church recorder can enter the record on the general church book, with the certificates and all the attending witnesses, with his own statement that he verily believes the above statement and records to be true, from his knowledge of the general character and appointment of those men by the Church. And when this is done on the general church book, the record shall be just as holy, and shall answer the ordinance just the same as if he had seen with his eyes, and heard with his ears, and made a record of the same on the general church book.
5. You may think this order of things to be very particular; but let me tell you that it is only to answer the will of God, by conforming to the ordinance and preparation that the Lord ordained and prepared before the foundation of the world, for the salvation of the dead who should die without a knowledge of the gospel.
6. And further, I want you to remember that John the Revelator was contemplating this very subject in relation to the dead, when he declared, as you will find recorded in Revelation 20:12: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which was the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
7. You will discover, in this quotation, that the books were opened; and another book was opened, which was the book of life; but the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books; according to their works: consequently, the books spoken of must be the books which contained the record of their works; and refer to the records which are kept on the earth. And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven; the principle agreeing precisely with the doctrine which is commanded you in the revelation contained in the letter which I wrote to you previously to my leaving my place, that in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven.
8. Now, the nature of this ordinance consists in the power of the priesthood, by the revelation of Jesus Christ; wherein it is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Or in other words, taking a different view of the translation, whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven; for out of the books shall your dead be judged, according to their own works, whether they themselves have attended to the ordinances in their own propria persona or by the means of their own agents, according to the ordinance which God has prepared for their salvation from before the foundation of the world, according to the records which they have kept concerning their dead.
9. It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth, and binds in heaven: nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this power has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in authority, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great Jehovah. This is a faithful saying—who can hear it?
10. And again, for a precedent, Matthew 16:18-19. “And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it: and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
11. Now the great and grand secret of the whole matter, and the summum bonum of the whole subject that is lying before us, consists in obtaining the powers of the holy priesthood; for him to whom these keys are given, there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men, both as well for the dead as for the living.
12. Herein is glory, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life: The ordinance of baptism by water, to be immersed therein in order to answer to the likeness of the dead, that one principle might accord with the other. To be immersed in the water and come forth out of the water is in the likeness of the resurrection of the dead, in coming forth out of their graves. Hence, this ordinance was instituted to form a relationship with the ordinance of baptism for the dead, being in likeness of the dead.
13. Consequently, the baptismal font was instituted as a simile of the grave, and was commanded to be in a place underneath where the living are wont to assemble, to show forth the living and the dead, and that all things may have their likeness, and that they may accord one with another,—that which is earthly conforming to that which is heavenly, as Paul hath declared, 1 Cor. 15:46-48.
14. “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” And as are the records on the earth in relation to your dead, which are truly made out, so also are the records in heaven. This, therefore, is the sealing and binding power, and, in one sense of the word, the keys of the kingdom, which consist in the key of knowledge.
15. And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles, in relation to the dead and the living, that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers, “that they without us cannot be made perfect;” neither can we without our dead be made perfect.
16. And now, in relation to the baptism for the dead, I will give you another quotation of Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:29: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?”
17. And again, in connection with this quotation, I will give you a quotation from one of the prophets, who had his eye fixed on the restoration of the priesthood, the glories to be revealed in the last days, and in an especial manner this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel, viz., the baptism for the dead; for Malachi says, last chapter, verses 5th and 6th, “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
18. I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse, unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other: and behold, what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary, in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fullness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete, and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed, from the days of Adam even to the present time; and not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this the dispensation of the fullness of times.
19. Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? “A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven, and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness far the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion, Behold! thy God reigneth. As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them.”
20. And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfillment of the prophets—the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book. The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light. The voice of Peter, James, and John, in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom and of the dispensation of the fullness of times.
21. And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer in Fayette, Seneca county, and at sundry times and in divers places, through all the travels and tribulations of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And the voice of Michael, the Archangel, the voice of Gabriel and of Raphael, and of divers angels from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their Priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hopes.
22. Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward? Courage, brethren, and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceeding glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prisons; for the prisoners shall go free.
23. Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your eternal King. And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy. And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy. And let the eternal creation declare His name for ever and ever. And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality and eternal life, kingdoms, principalities and powers.
24. Behold the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of His coming, and who can stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a Church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness, and let us present, in His holy Temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.
25. Brethren, I have many things to say to you on the subject, but shall now close for the present, and continue the subject another time.
I am, as ever, your humble servant, and never deviating friend,
The important instructions contained in the foregoing letter made a deep and solemn impression on the minds of the Saints; and they manifested their intentions to obey the instructions to the letter.
In the evening, William Clayton and Bishop Whitney called to see me concerning a settlement with Edward Hunter. Also Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Amasa Lyman, called to counsel concerning their mission to the branches and people abroad.
Wednesday, September 7.— Early this morning Elders Adams and Rogers, of New York, brought me several letters—one from Dr. Willard Richards, who, referring to his visit with James Arlington Bennett, Esq., of Arlington House, says, he “would be pleased to receive a letter of President Joseph’s own dictation, signed by his own hand;” which request I was disposed to comply with, but deferred it till the next day.
Governor Carlin wrote as follows:
Governor Carlin’s Letter to Emma Smith—Nauvoo’s Charter and the Writ of Habeas Corpus.
Quincy, September 7, 1842.
Dear Madam.—Your letter of the 27th ultimo was delivered to me on Monday, the 5th instant, and I have not had time to answer it until this evening; and I now appropriate a few moments to the difficult task of replying satisfactorily to its contents, every word of which evinces your devotedness to the interest of your husband, and pouring forth the effusions of a heart wholly his. I am thus admonished that I can say nothing, that does not subserve his interest that can possibly be satisfactory to you; and before I proceed, I will here repeat my great regret that I have been officially called upon to act in reference to Mr. Smith in any manner whatever.
I doubt not your candor when you say you do not desire me “to swerve from my duty as executive in the least,” and all you ask is to he allowed the privileges and advantages guaranteed to you by the Constitution and laws. You then refer me to the 11th Section of the Charter of the city of Nauvoo, and claim for Mr. Smith the right to be heard by the Municipal Court of said city, under a writ of habeas corpus emanating from said court, when he was held in custody under an executive warrant.
The Charter of the city of Nauvoo is not before me at this time; but I have examined both the Charters and city ordinances upon the subject and must express my surprise at the extraordinary assumption of power by the board of aldermen as contained in said ordinance! From my recollection of the Charter it authorizes the Municipal Court to issue writs of habeas corpus in all cases of imprisonment or custody arising from the authority of the ordinances of said city, but that the power was granted, or intended to be granted, to release persons held in custody under the authority of writs issued by the courts or the executive of the state, is most absurd and ridiculous; and to attempt to exercise it is a gross usurpation of power that cannot be tolerated.
I have always expected and desired that Mr. Smith should avail himself of the benefits of the laws of this state, and, of course, that he would be entitled to a writ of habeas corpus issued by the Circuit Court, and entitled to a hearing before said court; but to claim the right of a hearing before the Municipal Court of the city of Nauvoo is a burlesque upon the city Charter itself.
As to Mr. Smith’s guilt or innocence of the crime charged upon him, it is not my province to investigate or determine; nor has any court on earth jurisdiction of his case, but the courts of the state of Missouri; and as stated in my former letter, both the Constitution and laws presume that each and every state in this Union are competent to do justice to all who may be charged with crime committed in said state.
Your information that twelve men from Jackson county, Missouri, were lying in wait for Mr. Smith between Nauvoo and Warsaw, for the purpose of taking him out of the hands of the officers who might have him in custody, and murdering him, is like many other marvelous stories that you hear in reference to him—not one word of it true; but I doubt not that your mind has been continually harrowed up with fears produced by that and other equally groundless stories. That that statement is true is next to impossible; and your own judgment, if you will but give it scope, will soon set you right in reference to it. If any of the citizens of Jackson county had designed to murder Mr. Smith, they would not have been so simple as to perpetrate the crime in Illinois, when he would necessarily be required to pass through to the interior of the state of Missouri, where the opportunity would have been so much better, and the prospect of escape much more certain. That is like the statement made by Mr. Smith’s first messenger, after his arrest, to Messrs. Ralston and Warren, saying that I had stated that Mr. Smith should be surrendered to the authorities of Missouri, dead or alive; not one word of which was true. I have not the most distant thought that any person in Illinois or Missouri contemplated personal injury to Mr. Smith by violence in any manner whatever.
I regret that I did not see General Law when last at Quincy. A previous engagement upon business that could not be dispensed with prevented, and occupied my attention that evening until dark. At half-past one o’clock p.m., I came home, and learned that the General had called to see me; but the hurry of business only allowed me about ten minutes time to eat my dinner, and presuming, if he had business of any importance, that he would remain in the city until I returned.
It may be proper here, in order to afford you all the satisfaction in my power, to reply to a question propounded to my wife by General Law, in reference to Mr. Smith,—viz., whether any other or additional demand had been made upon me by the Governor of Missouri for the surrender of Mr. Smith. I answer, none. No change whatever has been made in the proceedings. Mr. Smith has been held accountable only for the charge as set forth in my warrant under which he was arrested.
In conclusion you presume upon my own knowledge of Mr. Smith’s innocence; and ask why the prosecution is continued against him. Here I must again appeal to your own good judgment; and you will be compelled to answer that is impossible I could know him to be innocent; and, as before stated, it is not my province to investigate as to his guilt or innocence. But could I know him innocent, and were he my own son, I would nevertheless, (and the more readily) surrender him to the legally constituted authority to pronounce him innocent.
With sentiments of high regard and esteem, your obedient servant,
To Mrs. Emma Smith.
Brothers Adams and Rogers called again this afternoon, and I related to them many interpositions of Divine Providence in my favor, &c.
Thursday, 8.— I dictated the following:
The Prophet’s Letter to James Arlington Bennett—The Forthcoming Book of John C. Bennett.
Nauvoo, September 8, 1842.
I have just received your very consoling letter, dated August 16, 1842, which is, I think, the first letter you ever addressed to me, in which you speak of the arrival of Dr. Willard Richards, and of his personality very respectfully. In this I rejoice, for I am as warm a friend to Dr. Richards as he possibly can be to me. And in relation to his almost making a “Mormon” of yourself, it puts me in mind of the saying of Paul in his reply to Agrippa, Acts 26:29, “I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” And I will here remark, my dear sir, that “Mormonism” is the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ; of which I myself am not ashamed.
You speak also of Elder Foster, President of the Church in New York, in high terms; and of Dr. Bernhisel, in New York. These men I am acquainted with by information; and it warms my heart to know that you speak well of them, and, as you say, could be willing to associate with them for ever, if you never joined their Church or acknowledged their faith. This is a good principle; for when we see virtuous qualities in men, we should always acknowledge them, let their understanding be what it may in relation to creeds and doctrine; for all men are, or ought to be free, possessing unalienable rights, and the high and noble qualifications of the laws of nature and of self-preservation, to think, and act, and say as they please, while they maintain a due respect to the rights and privileges of all other creatures, infringing upon none.
This doctrine I do most heartily subscribe to and practice, the testimony of mean men to the contrary notwithstanding. But, sir, I will assure you that my soul soars far above all the mean and groveling dispositions of men that are disposed to abuse me and my character, I therefore shall not dwell upon that subject.
In relation to those men you speak of referred to above, I will only say that there are thousands of such men in this Church, who, if a man is found worthy to associate with, will call down the envy of a mean world, because of their high and noble demeanor; and it is with unspeakable delight that I contemplate them as my friends and brethren. I love them with a perfect love; and I hope they love me, and have no reason to doubt that they do.
The next in consideration is John C. Bennett. I was his friend; I am yet his friend, as I feel myself bound to be a friend to all the sons of Adam. Whether they are just or unjust, they have a degree of my compassion and sympathy. If he is my enemy, it is his own fault; and the responsibility rests upon his own head; and instead of arraigning his character before you, suffice it to say that his own conduct, wherever he goes, will be sufficient to recommend him to an enlightened public, whether for a bad man or a good one.
Therefore whosoever will associate themselves with him, may be assured that I will not persecute them; but I do not wish their association, and what I have said may suffice on that subject, so far as his character is concerned. Now, in relation to his book that he may write. I will venture to prophesy that whoever has any hand in the matter, will find themselves in a poor fix in relation to the money matters; and as to my having any fears of the influence that he or any other man or set of men may have against me—I will say this is most foreign from my heart; for I never knew what it was, as yet, to fear the face of clay, or the influence of man. My fear, sir, is before God. I fear to offend Him, and strive to keep His commandments. I am really glad that you did not join John C. Bennett in relation to his book, from the assurances which I have that it will prove a curse to all those who touch it.
In relation to the honor that you speak of, both for yourself and James Gordon Bennett, of the Herald, you are both strangers to me; and as John C. Bennett kept all his letters which he received from you entirely to himself, and there was no correspondence between you and me, that I know of, I had no opportunity to share very largely in the getting up of any of those matters. I could not, as I had not sufficient knowledge to enable me to do so. The whole, therefore, was at the instigation of John C. Bennett, and a quiet submission on the part of the rest, out of the best of feelings; but as for myself, it was all done at a time when I was overwhelmed with a great many business cares, as well as the care of all the churches. I must be excused, therefore, for any wrongs that may have taken place in relation to this matter; and so far as I obtain a knowledge of that which is right, it shall meet with my hearty approval.
I feel to tender you my most hearty and sincere thanks for every expression of kindness you have tendered towards me or my brethren, and would beg the privilege of intruding myself a little while upon your patience, in offering a short relation of my circumstances. I am at this time persecuted the worst of any man on the earth, as well as this people, here in this place, and all our sacred rights are trampled under the feet of the mob. I am now hunted as a hart by the mob, under the pretense or shadow of law, to cover their abominable deeds. * * * * * * * *
I now appeal to you, sir, inasmuch as you have subscribed yourself our friend. Will you lift your voice and your arm with indignation against such unhallowed oppression? I must say, sir, that my bosom swells with unutterable anguish when I contemplate the scenes of horror that we have passed through in the state of Missouri, and then look, and behold, and see the storm and cloud gathering ten times blacker, ready to burst upon the heads of this innocent people. Would to God that I were able to throw off the yoke. Shall we bow down and be slaves? Are there no friends of humanity in a nation that boasts itself so much? Will not the nation rise up and defend us? If they will not defend us, will they not grant to lend a voice of indignation against such unhallowed oppression? Must the tens of thousands bow down to slavery and degradation? Let the pride of the nation arise and wrench those shackles from the feet of their fellow citizens, and their quiet, and peaceable, and innocent and loyal subjects. But I must forbear, for I cannot express my feelings.
The legion would all willingly die in the defense of their rights; but what would this accomplish? I have kept down their indignation, and kept a quiet submission on all hands, and am determined to do so at all hazards. Our enemies shall not have it to say that we rebel against government or commit treason. However much they may lift their hands in oppression and tyranny, when it comes in the form of government we tamely submit, although it lead us to the slaughter and to beggary; but our blood be upon their garments: and those who look tamely on and boast of patriotism shall not be without their condemnation.
And if men are such fools as to let once the precedent be established, and through their prejudices give assent to such abominations, then let the oppressor’s hand lay heavily throughout the world, until all flesh shall feel it together, and until they may know that the Almighty takes cognizance of such things. And then shall church rise up against church, and party against party, mob against mob, oppressor against oppressor, army against army, kingdom against kingdom, and people against people, and kindred against kindred.
And where, sir, will be your safety or the safety of your children, if my children can be led to the slaughter with impunity by the hand of murderous rebels? Will they not lead yours to the slaughter with the same impunity? Ought not, then, this oppression, sir, to be checked in the bud, and to be looked down [upon] with just indignation by an enlightened world, before the flame become unextinguishable, and the fire devours the stubble?
But again I say I must forbear, and leave this painful subject. I wish you would write to me in answer to this, and let me know your views. On my part, I am ready to be offered up a sacrifice in that way that can bring to pass the greatest benefit and good to those who must necessarily be interested in this important matter. I would to God that you could know all my feelings on this subject, and the real facts in relation to this people, and their unrelenting persecution. And if any man feels an interest in the welfare of their fellow-beings, and would think of saying or doing anything in this matter, I would suggest the propriety of a committee of wise men being sent to ascertain the justice or injustice of our cause, to get in possession of all the facts, and then make report to an enlightened world whether we, individually or collectively, are deserving such high-handed treatment.
In relation to the books that you sent here, John C. Bennett put them into my store, to be sold on commission, saying that, when I was able, the money must be remitted to yourself. Nothing was said about any consecration to the Temple.
Another calamity has befallen us. Our post office in this place is exceedingly corrupt. It is with great difficulty that we can get our letters to or from our friends. Our papers that we send to our subscribers are embezzled and burned, or wasted. We get no money from our subscribers, and very little information from abroad; and what little we do get, we get by private means, in consequence of these things: and I am sorry to say, that this robbing of the post office of money was carried on by John C. Bennett; and since he left here, it is carried on by the means of his confederates.
I now subscribe myself your friend, and a patriot and lover of my country, pleading at their feet for protection and deliverance, by the justice of their Constitution.
I add no more. Your most obedient servant,
1. See D&C 127. See also Times and Seasons Vol. 3, page 919.
3. See D&C 128.