, Letter, , Philadelphia Co., PA, to JS and “council,” , Hancock Co., IL, 1 Sept. 1841; handwriting of ; eight pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes docket and notation.
Two bifolia—each measuring 12¾ × 7⅞ inches (32 × 20 cm)—fastened together with thread. The document is inscribed with both blue ink and black ink. The document was folded for filing. Several staple holes appear on each page of the letter in the upper left corner. The document shows discoloration from an unknown substance.
A docket in the upper left corner of the first page was inscribed by , who served as JS’s scribe from December 1841 until JS’s death in June 1844 and served as church historian from December 1842 until his own death in March 1854. A graphite notation in the same area was apparently added by a clerk or secretary for Andrew Jenson, who served as assistant church historian from 1897 to 1941. The letter is listed in a Church Historian’s Office inventory from circa 1904. By 1973 this letter had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The docket, notation, and inclusion in the JS Collection indicate this letter has remained in continuous institutional custody since its receipt in 1841.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 1 September 1841, , a member of the , wrote to JS and other leaders in , Illinois, to express his condolences for the death of JS’s brother and to provide them with an update of his travels and missionary efforts. At the April 1840 general , Page had been appointed to travel with fellow apostle to Europe and . Page and Hyde separated in sometime in late August 1840, with Hyde venturing on to before sailing to . Hyde had hoped to meet Page in in fall 1840, but these plans did not materialize, and Page did not accompany Hyde overseas.
Both and received a public rebuke for their inability to quickly reach the destination of their mission. In January 1841 the Times and Seasons printed a terse message to the men: “ Orson Hyde and John E. Page are informed, that the Lord is not well pleased with them in consequence of delaying their mission, (Elder John E. Page in particular,) and they are requested by the to hasten their journey towards their destination.” In addition, at the April 1841 general conference, attendees objected to Page’s membership in the Quorum of the Twelve; reasons for their objection are unknown, but after an investigation he was not removed from the by the conference.
After traveling and proselytizing through , , and other parts of the eastern , arrived in shortly before he penned this 1 September letter. It appears that Page wrote the following letter in part to justify his actions, explaining the missionary labors he undertook on his own and with others, including ; the difficulties he experienced with ; and the reasons he felt he was unable to travel to Europe and at the present. Page nevertheless expressed his hope and intent to go eventually to the Holy Land. He also reported on a variety of other matters, most notably his observations of the church in Philadelphia under the leadership of . Though extant evidence does not reveal any improprieties on Winchester’s part, Page recommended that the First Presidency remove Winchester as the of the Philadelphia .
The letter featured here is the original sent from and received by JS in , probably in mid-September 1841. Page requested that JS respond to his letter, though it is unclear if JS did so since no immediate reply has been located.
that I think cannot be removed better than to change the this is not saying which is wrong or which is write— but my humble opinion is that has not been as wise in all things as he might have been and I presume the members have of the have not looked on the course and conduct of — as <in> that charitable light that they might do— — is very sanguine and unyealding in his course of econemy concerning matters and things in the — and there are some of the members of the same propencity and those of the first class of respectibility in the Branch— so I think that all that is stric<t>ly ne[ce]ssary to be done is that the Branch have a new President there is yet a great work to be done in this there is many additions made to the Branch almost every week and many who are fully convinced of the truth <of the> faith who only stay back for the sake of a popular name and some say to me that they will not join while Presides of so I think to change the Pastors it will maker fatter calves—
I will here give you the plain sentiment of my heart as it really is before God without dissimilation or varnishing for the better or for the worse and trust providence for the event whether it throws me high or throws me low concerning — I will do him Justice in all things he is an efficient man for the place he is in and more compitent than myself to perform the mishion apointed him— I shall therfore <neither> say nor do any thing to lay a hindering cause before him in his mishion I hope the God of Isreal will bear him conquerer through to perform his mishion for the good of — But to Justice also to myself I must say and I will indipendantly say that from his course of conduct with me in his treatment to me in assumeing over me as tho I was not of as much importance as himself— I do not want to neither will I seek to accompyny him in the ministry <only by positive commandment of the Lord—> [p. 7]
Though it is unclear how many more members had joined the Philadelphiabranch at the time of Page’s 1 September letter, at the 6 April 1841 conference held in the city, Benjamin Winchester reported that the Philadelphia branch consisted of “214 members, including 13 Elders, in good standing.” That number was up only marginally from the 207 members reported at a conference held in Chester County, Pennsylvania, on 18 July 1840. According to the Philadelphia branch records, more than fifty individuals were baptized into the church in Philadelphia during the first nine months of 1841. (Philadelphia Branch Record Book, 6 Apr. 1841; Minutes, Brandywine, PA, 18 July 1840, in Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1840, 2:106; “Names of the Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Philadelphia,” in Philadelphia Branch Record Book.)
Philadelphia Branch, Record Book, 1840–1854. CCLA.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.