JS, Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to , , Clay Co., MO, 5 Dec. 1833. Retained copy, [ca. 5 Dec. 1833], in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 65–70; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 1.
JS wrote this 5 December 1833 letter in response to the heartrending and sometimes conflicting reports he received about the violence against church members in , Missouri, that took place in early November 1833. The inconsistent reports were only the latest frustration for JS, who continued to agonize over the fate of friends and followers in , whose efforts to build a “” had stalled in the summer of 1833 because of persecution.
Following armed conflict on 4 November 1833, antagonistic residents and militia of forced members of the to vacate their properties and flee to , Missouri, and elsewhere over the next few weeks. In the midst of the violence, and left , Missouri, for , Ohio, on 6 November 1833 to report to JS on recent hostilities. While traveling from Independence to Boonville, Missouri, on the on board the steamboat Charleston, Hyde wrote at least two letters to newspaper editors in informing them of the violent events in : on 8 November he wrote to the editor of the Boonville Herald, and the following day he wrote to the editor of the Missouri Republican. Upon arriving in on 25 November, Hyde and Gould informed JS of “the melencholly intelegen [intelligence] of the riot in .”
On 6 November 1833, the same day that and left , began writing a letter to JS to inform him of the recent events in . The next day he completed his letter and reported that mobs had begun to force church members to leave their homes in Jackson County—information that Hyde and Gould may not have known. Although Phelps’s original letter no longer exists, according to the letter featured here, Phelps’s missive arrived in before 5 December 1833. The most complete known version of Phelps’s letter was published by in the December 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star. The letter from JS featured here discusses information that appears to have been conveyed only through Phelps’s original letter—information that Cowdery, perhaps waiting for confirmation of the Mormon evacuation from Jackson County, did not include in the published version.
Some of the information conveyed in ’s letter apparently conflicted with the report sent to the editor of the Missouri Republican, to which JS by this time had access. Perhaps because the information he received was inconsistent, and possibly in an effort to document the violence against his followers, JS wrote this 5 December letter urging church leaders in to “collect every particular concerning the Mob from the begining and send us a correct statement of fact as they transpired.” Until then, he wrote, “it is difficult for us to advise.” Even without clarification, JS told the church leaders that if they had not yet been driven out they should fight to stay on their lands as long as they could: “You should maintain the ground as Long as there is a man Left. . . . it was right in the sight of God that you contend for it to the last.”
copied this 5 December letter into JS’s letterbook and concluded by inscribing “” on the final line, indicating that the original letter was most likely addressed to Edward Partridge. It is clear, however, that this letter was intended for church leaders in generally. Unfortunately, the original letter is no longer extant, and it is unknown if Partridge or any other church leader in Missouri ever received this correspondence.
Even though JS’s letter requested clarification and accurate information from church leaders in , , who was then in , was able to quickly respond to some of JS’s concerns. Hyde wrote another letter to , the editor of The Evening and the Morning Star, which corrected parts of his earlier missive to the editors of the Boonville Herald. Oliver Cowdery published Hyde’s second letter in the same December issue of the Star that published ’s 6–7 November letter and an extract of Hyde’s letter to the Boonville Herald. It is not known precisely when or why Hyde wrote his corrective letter, though he may have done so at the behest of JS or to alleviate JS’s concerns, expressed in the letter featured here, about the inconsistent information he had heard about events in Missouri. By 10 December 1833, JS received correspondence from Missouri that provided more information about the persecution and expulsion of church members in that place. Given that Hyde arrived in Kirtland in late November and that the first Kirtland issue of the Star was prepared for printing no sooner than 18 December, Hyde would have had sufficient time to consult these letters from Missouri that arrived in Kirtland by 10 December, consider his previous statements, and prepare an amended account for publication in the Star.
It is unknown whether a complete copy of Hyde’s published letter to the editor of the Boonville Herald still exists. However, Oliver Cowdery included at least a partial copy of the letter in The Evening and the Morning Star. (“The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 118; see also “Civil War in Jackson County!,” Missouri Republican [St. Louis], 12 Nov. 1833, .)
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
without, evry exertion should be to maintain the cause you have espoused and to contribute to the necessities of one another as much as possable in this your great calamity and remember not to murmur at the dealings of God with his creature you are not as yet brought into as trying circumstances as were the ancient Prophets & apostles Call to mind a Daniel the three Hebrew Children, Jeremiah Paul Stephen and many more too numerous to mention who were stoned sawn asunder tempted slain with the sword and wandered about in sheep skins & goat skins being destitute afflicted tormented of whom the world was not worthy. they wandered in deserts and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth yet they all obtained a good report through faith and amidst all their afflictions they rejoiced that they were <counted> worthy to receive persecution for Christs sake we know not what we shall be called to pass through before is delivered and established therefore we have great need to live near to God and always be in strict obedience to all his that we may have a concience void of offense towards God and man, It is your privelege to use every lawful means in your power to seek redress for your grievances of your enemies and prosecute them to the extent of the Law but it will be impossable for us to render you any assistance in a temporal point of view as our means are already exhausted and are deeply in debt and know no means whereby we shall be able to extricate ourselves; The inhabitants of this [p. 68]
JS first made this point in a letter dated 18 August 1833: “It is the will of the Lord that . . . not one foot of land perchased should be given to the enimies of God or sold to them.” JS dictated a revelation eleven days after this 5 December letter was written that gave the same directive: “It is my will that my people should claim and hold claim upon that which I have appointed unto them though they should not be permited to dwell thereon.” (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833; Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:99].)
In the months before JS wrote this letter, church leaders took on a large amount of debt in order to purchase land and acquire a new printing press and type to replace what had been damaged during the violence in Jackson County on 20 July 1833. (See Minutes, 23 Mar. 1833–A; Minutes, 11 Sept. 1833; F. G. Williams and Company, Account Book, 1; Frederick G. Williams, Kirtland, OH, to “Dear Brethren,” 10 Oct. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 56–60; and Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland Mills, OH, to Ambrose Palmer, New Portage, OH, 30 Oct. 1833, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 8–9.)
F. G. Williams & Co. Account Book, 1833–1835. CHL. In Patience Cowdery, Diary, 1849–1851. CHL. MS 3493.
Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.