Letter to Edward Partridge and Others, 10 December 1833
JS, Letter, , Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH, to , , , , , , and others, , Clay Co., MO, 10 Dec. 1833. Retained copy, [ca. 10 Dec. 1833], in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 70–75; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 1.
On 5 December 1833, JS responded to two letters: one written by on 6–7 November and one penned by to the editors of the Missouri Republican on 9 November. In his 5 December letter, JS sought clarification on the conflicting reports written by the two men concerning events in and requested more information. In mid-November, just after being expelled from , , Phelps, and wrote letters to JS that provided more details about the violence against church members in Missouri. JS received these letters on 10 December 1833 and on the same day wrote a letter, featured here, that responded to the more in-depth information his colleagues had sent him.
In this response, JS extensively referred the church leaders to the and to his revelations. He agonized over the catastrophe in , the reasons for which, he noted in this letter, “I am ignorant and the Lord will not show me.” Though “ would suffer sore affliction,” JS reminded church members that “after much tribulation cometh the blessing.” He invoked both the Old Testament and the New Testament to provide support and spiritual guidance to church members in Missouri as they began to settle new lands with few provisions. Regarding their property in Jackson County, JS also urged them to “retain [their] lands even unto the uttermost.” In addition, JS encouraged the Missouri church members to vigorously pursue protection and seek redress of grievances through appeals to the local courts, the governor of Missouri, the president of the , and, as always, the Lord. A revelation dictated six days after JS wrote this letter reaffirmed this guidance. This instruction to seek redress and protection through legal and political means reflected the approach that JS and the church would take regarding their losses in Missouri through the end of JS’s life. JS ended his letter with a long prayer in behalf of the careworn Saints in Missouri.
It is unknown how, or if, church members in received JS’s 10 December 1833 letter. copied the letter into JS’s letterbook, which is the only known extant version.
shall be likened unto the wise virgins who took oil in their lamps, But all those who are unbelieving and fearful, will be likened unto the foolish virgins, who took no oil in their Lamps; and when they shall return, and say unto the saints, give us of your lands, behold there will be no room found for them. As respects giving deeds I would advise to give deeds as far as the brethren have legal and Just claims for their them and then let evry man answer to God for the disposal of them. I would suggest some Ideas to not knowing as they will be of any real benefit, but suggest them for consideration I would be glad that he were here, but dare not advise, were it possable for him to come, not knowing what shall befall us, as we are under very heavy and serious threatening from a great many people in this place. But purhaps, the people in may feel willing, God having power to soften the hearts of all men, to have a press established there; and if not, in some other place; any place where it can be the most convenient and it is possable to get to it: God will be willing to have it in any place where it can be practiculer and safe. we must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Again I desire that would collect all the information, and give us a true history of the begining and rise of , and her calamities &c Now hear the prayer of your unworthy Brothe[r] in the bonds of the : O my God! thou who has called and chosen a few through thy weak instrument by and sent them to a place which thou didst call and commanded thy servants to consecrate unto thyself for a place of a refuge, and of safety for the of thy saints, to be built up a holy city unto thyself and as thou hast said that none [p. 74]
Edward Partridgewrote to JS that some members of the church in Missouri were “desirous to receive a deed of some land & I have thought it best to give deeds to such as are anxious to have them. I want your advice upon the subject of the lands.” Partridge had purchased approximately 2,100 acres of land in Jackson County to which he held title. After being threatened with legal action by persons withdrawing from the church, Partridge requested instructions from JS. JS instructed Partridge to give individuals the titles to the stewardships of land they had received through the church’s practice of the law of consecration. JS here reaffirmed those instructions even though church members could not now occupy those lands. (Letter from Edward Partridge, between 14 and 19 Nov. 1833; Letter to Edward Partridge, 2 May 1833.)
William W. Phelps remained in Missouri and did not relocate to Ohio until spring 1834. John Whitmer documented that Phelps and his son Waterman departed Missouri on 28 April 1834 with Whitmer and his family “in obediance to the direction of Joseph the seer.” (See Phelps, “Short History,” –; and Whitmer, History, 70.)
Phelps, William W. “A Short History of W. W. Phelps’ Stay in Missouri,” 1864. Information concerning Persons Driven from Jackson County, Missouri in 1833, 1863–1868. CHL. MS 6019, fd. 7.
Kirtland leaders were already working to establish a new press in Ohio. In October 1833, Oliver Cowdery traveled to New York to purchase a new press and type for the church. Cowdery then took over as editor of The Evening and the Morning Star in Kirtland. The first proof sheets of the renewed Star were ready for review only eight days after JS wrote this letter. (Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland Mills, OH, to Ambrose Palmer, New Portage, OH, 30 Oct. 1833, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 4–5; JS, Journal, 18 Dec. 1833.)
Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.
It appears Phelps had a similar plan to write a history about the Mormons’ experiences in Missouri. Several histories of the Missouri conflicts were later written by other church members as well. (See Letter from William W. Phelps, 15 Dec. 1833; see also, for example, the histories published in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers.)