Letter to Oliver Cowdery, December 1834

  • Source Note
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Brother :
Having learned  from the first No. of the Messenger and Ad vocate, that you were, not only about to  “give a history of the rise and progress of  the ;” but,  that said “history would necessarily embrace  my life and character,” I have been induced  to give you the time and place of my birth;  as I have learned that many of the opposers  of those principles which I have held forth  to the world, profess a personal acquaintance  with me, though when in my presence, rep resent me to be another person in age, edu cation, and stature, from what I am.
I was born, (according to the record of the  same, kept by my parents,) in the town of  Sharon, Windsor Co. Vt. on the 23rd of  December, 1805.
At the age of ten my father’s family remo ved to , N.Y. where, and in the vi cinity of which, I lived, or, made it my place  of residence, until I was twenty one—the lat ter part, in the town of .
During this time, as is common to most,  or all youths, I fell into many vices and fol lies; but as my accusers are, and have been  forward to accuse me of being guilty of gross  and outragious violations of the peace and  good order of the community, I take the oc casion to remark, that, though, as I have  said above, “as is common to most, or all  youths, I fell into many vices and follies,” I  have not, neither can it be sustained, in truth,  been guilty of wronging or injuring any man  or society of men; and those imperfections  to which I alude, and for which I have often  had occasion to lament, were a light, and too  often, vain mind, exhibiting a foolish and tri fling conversation.
This being all, and the worst, that my ac cusers can substantiate against my moral  character, I wish to add, that it is not with out a deep feeling of regret that I am thus  called upon in answer to my own conscience,  to fulfill a duty I owe to myself, as well as  to the cause of truth, in making this public  confession of my former uncircumspect walk,  and unchaste conversation: and more partic ularly, as I often acted in violation of those  holy precepts which I knew came from God.  But as the “” of this  church are plain upon this particular point,  I do not deem it important to proceed fur ther. I only add, that I do not, nor never  have, pretended to be any other than a man  “subject to passion,” and liable, without the  assisting grace of the Savior, to deviate from  that perfect path in which all men are to walk!
By giving the above a place in your valuable  paper, you will confer a lasting favor up on myself, as an individual, and, as I humbly  hope, subserve the cause of righteousness.
I am, with feelings of esteem, your fellow  laborer in the gospel of our Lord.
JOSEPH SMITH jr. [p. 40]
Brother :
Having learned from the first No. of the Messenger and Advocate, that you were, not only about to “give a history of the rise and progress of the ;” but, that said “history would necessarily embrace my life and character,” I have been induced to give you the time and place of my birth; as I have learned that many of the opposers of those principles which I have held forth to the world, profess a personal acquaintance with me, though when in my presence, represent me to be another person in age, education, and stature, from what I am.
I was born, (according to the record of the same, kept by my parents,) in the town of Sharon, Windsor Co. Vt. on the 23rd of December, 1805.
At the age of ten my father’s family removed to , N.Y. where, and in the vicinity of which, I lived, or, made it my place of residence, until I was twenty one—the latter part, in the town of .
During this time, as is common to most, or all youths, I fell into many vices and follies; but as my accusers are, and have been forward to accuse me of being guilty of gross and outragious violations of the peace and good order of the community, I take the occasion to remark, that, though, as I have said above, “as is common to most, or all youths, I fell into many vices and follies,” I have not, neither can it be sustained, in truth, been guilty of wronging or injuring any man or society of men; and those imperfections to which I alude, and for which I have often had occasion to lament, were a light, and too often, vain mind, exhibiting a foolish and trifling conversation.
This being all, and the worst, that my accusers can substantiate against my moral character, I wish to add, that it is not without a deep feeling of regret that I am thus called upon in answer to my own conscience, to fulfill a duty I owe to myself, as well as to the cause of truth, in making this public confession of my former uncircumspect walk, and unchaste conversation: and more particularly, as I often acted in violation of those holy precepts which I knew came from God. But as the “” of this church are plain upon this particular point, I do not deem it important to proceed further. I only add, that I do not, nor never have, pretended to be any other than a man “subject to passion,” and liable, without the assisting grace of the Savior, to deviate from that perfect path in which all men are to walk!
By giving the above a place in your valuable paper, you will confer a lasting favor upon myself, as an individual, and, as I humbly hope, subserve the cause of righteousness.
I am, with feelings of esteem, your fellow laborer in the gospel of our Lord.
JOSEPH SMITH jr. [p. 40]
Page 40