Affidavit, 20 January 1840
JS, , and , Affidavit, , 20 Jan. 1840; unidentified handwriting; two pages; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, Record Group 233, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC.One leaf, measuring 9¾ × 7¾ inches (25 × 20 cm), ruled with twenty-six printed horizontal lines on each side.In March 1840, collected all of the papers submitted to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in support of the church’s memorial to Congress and returned them to , Illinois. This affidavit was presumably still with that collection of documents when subsequent church delegations resubmitted the documents with additional petitions to the federal government. Congress apparently stored this affidavit with other documents it received in the 1840s relative to the church’s ongoing petitioning efforts. Those records were transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration sometime after its creation in 1934. Since then, the National Archives and Records Administration has had continuous custody of the document.
On 20 January 1840, JS, , and signed an affidavit certifying that they possessed copies of certificates showing members’ ownership of land in . Several months before the church delegation left for , church leaders started gathering legal documents and producing bills of damages. These documents were meant to demonstrate the persecution the Saints experienced in Missouri and to quantify the property lost when they were expelled from the state. Once in the capital, JS, Rigdon, and Higbee continued to prepare a memorial to Congress requesting redress and reparations for the Saints’ losses. The men also wrote to , Illinois, asking for additional affidavits, letters, and legal documents to support their case. As part of this effort, JS, Rigdon, and Higbee obtained copies of land patents certifying the purchase of property from the federal government. They planned to present the patents to Congress to prove church members still owned land in Missouri, even though the Saints had been driven from their property by the state militia and other Missourians under the approval of the state’s . The affidavit featured here explains that the patents, which the delegation was willing to submit to Congress if necessary, represented only a sampling of the land church members lost. The certificate number of each land patent is listed in the affidavit next to the name of the person who held that patent.Earlier in January, had informed JS, , and that he would send these duplicate patents to them by mail. It is unclear, however, when the patents arrived. The three men signed the document in , but there is no signature of the justice of the peace or judge before whom they confirmed their signatures, as was customary in a formal affidavit. On 17 February 1840, Senator of presented to the Senate “additional documents in relation to the petition of the ‘Latter Day Saints,’ commonly called Mormons; which were referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.” This affidavit presumably was included among those documents because it was later filed by the National Archives with other documents the church’s delegation submitted to the Twenty-Sixth Congress.