Letter to Edward Partridge and Others, 30 March 1834
JS, Letter with postscript by , , Geauga Co., OH, to , , and other members of the , [, MO], 30 Mar. 1834. Featured version copied [ca. 30 Mar. 1834] in Oliver Cowdery, Letterbook, 30–38; handwriting of ; Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Transcription from digital color image obtained from the Huntington Library in 2011. For more complete source information on Oliver Cowdery, Letterbook, see the source note for Letter to J. G. Fosdick, 3 Feb. 1834.
From the end of February to the end of March 1834, JS traveled to recruit individuals for the expedition to . On 28 March, he returned to , Ohio, and found that he had received several letters from Missouri church leaders, some of which were from members of the . 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. A December 1833 revelation even declared that church members had been driven from , Missouri, in part because of the “jar[r]ings and contentions envyings and strifes and lustful and covetous desires among them.” Although acknowledged that “it was right that we should be driven out of the land of ,” the letters that JS received in March 1834 apparently exhibited at least a measure of the same critical spirit found in earlier correspondence.
After spending the preceding day with his family and in the midst of attending to ecclesiastical affairs, JS penned a reply to the 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 and others had found fault, bemoaned the persecution the church was experiencing in both Missouri and , 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 . 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 (who had been charged with threatening to kill JS) had successfully concluded, that JS finally determined to “go to Zion.”
The letter further provided information on the advantage of employing attorney general Robert W. Wells in the Mormons’ legal suits, on debts and finances in , on the recent purchase of a printing press by in , and on the selling of 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. Therefore, it is not clear if the men of the in Missouri received this letter.
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.
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
try to live Godly in Christ Jesus, the more we are made to feel the weight of persecution, inflicted by those who are under the influence of the enemy of the souls of men. But let this suffice: I shall proceed first to answer some of the most important items contained in your last communications, the more part which gave us much satisfaction. We admire the confidence & love which our brethren have manifested in them, in giving us sharp, piercing, & cutting reproofs, which are calculated to wake us up & make us search about ourselves, & put a double watch over ourselves in all things that we do. And we acknowledge that it is our duty to receive all reproofs & chastisements given of the spirit of the most Holy One. And if being chastised and reproved of what we are guilty, seems not to be joyous for the present but grievous, O, how wounding, & how poignant must it be to receive chastisements & reproofs, for things that we are not guilty of from a source we least expect them, arising from a distrustful, a fearful, & jealous spirit. However, we feel to make all allowances, & reflect seariously & consider upon all sides before we make an effort to throw off the yoke, lest we should be found in anywise blamable before God. There are some items contained in ’s letters by the way of reproof, that we feel to give, we think some reasonable excuses, that you may <know> how far you have reasons to give reproof, that you may not have wrong feelings concerning those to whom you are espoused in Christ Jesus who always will be found true to all confidence that shall be imposed in them.
Firstly, you have given us to understand that there are glaring errors in the Revelation, or rather, have shown us the most glaring ones, which are not calculated to suit the refinement of the age in which we live, of the great men, &c. We would say, by way of excuse, that we did not think so much of the orthography, or the manner, as [p. 31]