53991758

Letter to Edward Partridge and Others, 30 March 1834

This item is reproduced by permission of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
wisdom dictated that we should send it in its own proper light.15

The 16–17 December 1833 revelation accompanied a petition sent in January 1834 on behalf of the Mormons to Missouri governor Daniel Dunklin. Church leaders also planned to send the revelation with a petition to U.S. president Andrew Jackson. (Letter to the Church in Clay Co., MO, 22 Jan. 1834; see also Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:77–89].)  


And if truth, and the word of God will not bear off the Palms and bring us the victory, shall we, who profess to be men of God condescend to folly? Shall we turn aside from the word of God and seek to save our lives, and that we may please men? If men will seek occasion against the truth, will they not seek occasion even if we should shun the truth? The fact is, beloved brethren, we seek not gold or silver or this world’s goods, nor honors nor the applause of men; but we seek to please him, and to do the will of him who hath power not only to destroy the body; but to cast the soul into hell! Ah! men should not attempt to steady the ark of God!16

See 1 Chronicles 13:9–10.  


But enough on this subject.
Now concerning employing Mr. [Robert W.] Wells of Jefferson C’ty. as Counsellor &c. We think it would be advisable.17

In a letter written in late February 1834, Phelps mentioned a visit from Missouri attorney general Robert W. Wells, though Phelps said nothing specific in that letter about employing Wells’s services. In a letter sent to Wells in January 1835, Phelps indicated that Wells had been working on at least one legal case for him but that he could not pay Wells the required fee. In January 1836, Wells informed Phelps that if he could pay fifty dollars by 1 March, he would consider that payment sufficient remuneration and would then “be excused from attending to the suits or acting as atty or counsel.” (Letter from William W. Phelps, 27 Feb. 1834; William W. Phelps, Liberty, MO, to Robert W. Wells, Jefferson City, MO, 5 Jan. 1835; Robert W. Wells, Jefferson City, MO, to William W. Phelps, Liberty, MO, 4 Jan. 1836, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL.)  


You may consider that you have our consent: We speak to wise men! Judge ye what we say! Employ, then, Mr. Wells, and although we have neither gold nor silver, we have run into debt for the press, and also to obtain money to pay the New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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debt for Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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,18

The New York debt likely refers to recent purchases made by church leaders in New York. Newel K. Whitney had purchased new goods to stock the store in Kirtland and to give to the destitute church members in Missouri. (See Minutes, 20 Feb. 1834; Minutes, 17 Mar. 1834; and F. G. Williams and Company, Account Book, 1; see also Prayer, 11 Jan. 1834; and JS, Journal, 7–9 Apr. 1834.)  


and have received but a very few dollars19

The funds referred to here were from subscriptions to the Church of Christ’s periodical, The Evening and the Morning Star.  


for the Star and printing as yet, no means of speculation to gain or make money, yet we think that the money can be had, and that there will be no difficulty on this subject: and this, while you are writing to us to reprove us, and telling us, that your dependence for money is on your eastern brethren, and at the same time saying “Dont buy your gold too dear!” this is the way that we buy our gold! Now, brethren, let me tell you, that it is my disposition to give and forgive, and to bear & to forbear, with all long suffering and patience, with the foibles, follies, weaknesses, & wickedness of my brethren and all the world of mankind; and my confidence and love toward you is not slackened, nor weakened. And now, if you should be called upon to bear with us a little in any of our weaknesses and follies, and should, with us, receive a rebuke to yourselves, dont be offended, dont in anywise let it hit you, so as to turn over the dish! And when you & I meet face to face, I [p. 34]
wisdom dictated that we should send it in its own proper light.15

The 16–17 December 1833 revelation accompanied a petition sent in January 1834 on behalf of the Mormons to Missouri governor Daniel Dunklin. Church leaders also planned to send the revelation with a petition to U.S. president Andrew Jackson. (Letter to the Church in Clay Co., MO, 22 Jan. 1834; see also Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:77–89].)  


 And if truth, and the word of God will not bear off the Palms and  bring us the victory, shall we, who profess to be men of God conde scend to folly? Shall we turn aside from the word of God and  seek to save our lives, and that we may please men? If men  will seek occasion against the truth, will they not seek occasion  even if we should shun the truth? The fact is, beloved brethren,  we seek not gold or silver or this world’s goods, nor honors nor  the applause of men; but we seek to please him, and to do the  will of him who hath power not only to destroy the body; but  to cast the soul into hell! Ah! men should not attempt to  steady the ark of God!16

See 1 Chronicles 13:9–10.  


But enough on this subject.
Now concerning employing Mr. [Robert W.] Wells of Jefferson C’ty.  as Counsellor &c. We think it would be advisable.17

In a letter written in late February 1834, Phelps mentioned a visit from Missouri attorney general Robert W. Wells, though Phelps said nothing specific in that letter about employing Wells’s services. In a letter sent to Wells in January 1835, Phelps indicated that Wells had been working on at least one legal case for him but that he could not pay Wells the required fee. In January 1836, Wells informed Phelps that if he could pay fifty dollars by 1 March, he would consider that payment sufficient remuneration and would then “be excused from attending to the suits or acting as atty or counsel.” (Letter from William W. Phelps, 27 Feb. 1834; William W. Phelps, Liberty, MO, to Robert W. Wells, Jefferson City, MO, 5 Jan. 1835; Robert W. Wells, Jefferson City, MO, to William W. Phelps, Liberty, MO, 4 Jan. 1836, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL.)  


You may  consider that you have our consent: We speak to wise men!  Judge ye what we say! Employ, then, Mr. Wells, and although  we have neither gold nor silver, we have run into debt for the  press, and also to obtain money to pay the New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

More Info
debt for Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

View Glossary
,18

The New York debt likely refers to recent purchases made by church leaders in New York. Newel K. Whitney had purchased new goods to stock the store in Kirtland and to give to the destitute church members in Missouri. (See Minutes, 20 Feb. 1834; Minutes, 17 Mar. 1834; and F. G. Williams and Company, Account Book, 1; see also Prayer, 11 Jan. 1834; and JS, Journal, 7–9 Apr. 1834.)  


 and have received but a very few dollars19

The funds referred to here were from subscriptions to the Church of Christ’s periodical, The Evening and the Morning Star.  


for the Star and  printing as yet, no means of speculation to gain or make  money, yet we think that the money can be had, and that there  will be no difficulty on this subject: and this, while you are  writing to us to reprove us, and telling us, that your dependence  for money is on your eastern brethren, and at the same time saying  Dont buy your gold too dear!” this is the way that we  buy our gold! Now, brethren, let me tell you, that it is my dispos ition to give and forgive, and to bear & to forbear, with all long  suffering and patience, with the foibles, follies, weaknesses, &  wickedness of my brethren and all the world of mankind; and  my confidence and love toward you is not slackened, nor  weakened. And now, if you should be called upon to bear  with us a little in any of our weaknesses and follies, and  should, with us, receive a rebuke to yourselves, dont be  offended, dont in anywise let it hit you, so as to turn  over the dish! And when you & I meet face to face, I [p. 34]
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From the end of February to the end of March 1834, JS traveled to recruit individuals for the Camp of Israel

A group of approximately 205 men and about 20 women and children led by JS to Missouri, May–July 1834, to redeem Zion by helping the Saints who had been driven from Jackson County, Missouri, regain their lands; later referred to as “Zion’s Camp.” A 24 February...

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expedition to Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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.1 On 28 March, he returned to Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio, and found that he had received several letters from Missouri church leaders, some of which were from members of the United Firm

An organization that supervised the management of church enterprises and properties from 1832 to 1834. In March and April 1832, revelations directed that the church’s publishing and mercantile endeavors be organized. In accordance with this direction, the...

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. Those letters, though no longer extant, seem to have discussed, among other things, the business of the firm, including its losses. The letters from Missouri must have also criticized JS and other Kirtland church leaders; according to JS, the letters contained “sharp, piercing, & cutting reproofs,” partly because of misspellings and grammatical errors that appeared in a published broadside of a December 1833 revelation and partly because of the lack of financial support from Kirtland for Missouri church members. Earlier missives from Missouri were similarly critical of Kirtland church leaders, and Missouri members had been consequently rebuked for being contentious.2 A December 1833 revelation even declared that church members had been driven from Jackson County

Settled at Fort Osage, 1808. County created, 16 Feb. 1825; organized 1826. Named after U.S. president Andrew Jackson. Featured fertile lands along Missouri River and was Santa Fe Trail departure point, which attracted immigrants to area. Area of county reduced...

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, Missouri, in part because of the “jar[r]ings and contentions envyings and strifes and lustful and covetous desires among them.”3 Although Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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acknowledged that “it was right that we should be driven out of the land of Zion

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, designated Missouri as “land of promise” for gathering of Saints and place for “city of Zion,” with Independence area as “center place” of Zion. Latter-day Saint settlements elsewhere, such as in Kirtland, Ohio, became known...

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,” the letters that JS received in March 1834 apparently exhibited at least a measure of the same critical spirit found in earlier correspondence.4
After spending the preceding day with his family and in the midst of attending to ecclesiastical affairs, JS penned a reply to the Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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leaders on 30 March 1834. The letter, featured here, offers a glimpse into how the hardships of late 1833 and early 1834 affected JS and how he handled criticism. This letter exhibited JS’s frustration over their complaints but also evinced his desire to forgive past transgressions for the sake of unity. In the letter, JS also offered more information on the matters with which Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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and others had found fault, bemoaned the persecution the church was experiencing in both Missouri and Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, and reported on the expected expedition of “able brethren” to Missouri. Specifically, he noted church members’ lack of support (in terms of both financial donations and individual volunteers) for the contemplated expedition to Zion

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, designated Missouri as “land of promise” for gathering of Saints and place for “city of Zion,” with Independence area as “center place” of Zion. Latter-day Saint settlements elsewhere, such as in Kirtland, Ohio, became known...

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. JS also suggested that though he intended to be part of the expedition, he had other matters to resolve before departing. In fact, it was not until 9 April 1834, after the legal proceedings against Doctor Philastus Hurlbut

3 Feb. 1809–16 June 1883. Clergyman, farmer. Born at Chittenden Co., Vermont. “Doctor” was his given name. Preacher for Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamestown, Chautauque Co., New York. Baptized into LDS church, 1832/1833, at Jamestown. Ordained an elder...

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(who had been charged with threatening to kill JS) had successfully concluded, that JS finally determined to “go to Zion.”5

JS, Journal, 9–10 Apr. 1834. This 9 April notation in JS’s journal is the first known documentary evidence that JS had decided to go with the Camp of Israel.  


The letter further provided information on the advantage of employing Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

More Info
attorney general Robert W. Wells in the Mormons’ legal suits, on debts and finances in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, on the recent purchase of a printing press by Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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in New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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, and on the selling of Jackson County

Settled at Fort Osage, 1808. County created, 16 Feb. 1825; organized 1826. Named after U.S. president Andrew Jackson. Featured fertile lands along Missouri River and was Santa Fe Trail departure point, which attracted immigrants to area. Area of county reduced...

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property. Though some church leaders in Missouri wrote letters to Kirtland in the months following this letter, they did not specifically address this letter or its contents.6

See, for example, “The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, May 1834, 160; and “The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, June 1834, 168.  


Therefore, it is not clear if the men of the United Firm

An organization that supervised the management of church enterprises and properties from 1832 to 1834. In March and April 1832, revelations directed that the church’s publishing and mercantile endeavors be organized. In accordance with this direction, the...

View Glossary
in Missouri received this letter.

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