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.
anticipate, without the least doubt, that all matters between us will be fairly understood, and perfect love prevail; and sacred covenant by which we are bound together, have the uppermost seat in our hearts.
We expect that a number of our able brethren will come on soon and go to ; and should you have no other way of obtaining moneys, you can sell them your lands, let them go on to them, protect them on the same, till your suits are determined, and then, (if you succeed) you will have means to purchase more, and if not they will receive you into their bosoms. We see no other way now; but the Lord may open other ways in time. Brs. and are both in the east; but we expect they will leave here for the west by the first of may, and go as soon as they can, so should you be organized by the time they arrive, perhaps it would be well. You must act wisdom for yourselves in many things, as you are better prepared to judge in many things than we are. Many things are familiar with some of us, which we cannot communicate by letter; but will be brought about in their times. You ought to be prepared to go back at a moment’s warning, and we are inclined to think that it was a wise step in employing the Att’y Gen. for he will investigate and learn the truth, and then will investigate also.
Once more I design coming unto [you?]; but when, it has not been revealed: whether it will be with & I cannot now say; but once more I design to come mob or no mob, enemy or no enemy! There needs be no difficulty in relation to the revelations; for they show plainly from the face of them, that no blood is to be shed except in self-defense; and that the law of God as well as man gives us a privilege. If you make yourselves acquainted with the revelations, you will see that this is the case, though we should not publish any more than we are obliged to of necessity for the ’s sake. We have nothing to fear if we are faithful: God will strike through kings in the day of his wrath but what he will deliver his people; and what do you suppose he could do with a few mobbers [p. 35]
Pratt continued to serve as a recruiter for the Missouri expedition, even when the camp was marching from Kirtland to Missouri. By 21 April 1834, Wight had returned to and again left Kirtland, this time with Hyrum Smith, to recruit additional people in Michigan Territory. This group from Michigan joined the main expedition on 8 June. (Pratt, Autobiography, 122–123; Manscill, “Journal of the Branch of the Church of Christ in Pontiac,” 167, 174.)
Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.
In the midst of this exigent persecution, JS gave the direction to not publish revelations so that they could not be used to further enflame prejudices against church members. On 10 August 1833, Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter to church leaders in Independence, telling them that the mob attacked the Mormons in part because some church members’ “mouths” were “continually open.” Cowdery thus told church members to carefully read the revelations but to “keep them from false brethren & tatlers.” Although JS may have made the statement here out of a desire to prevent those who would misuse the revelations from obtaining them, he also may have made the statement because the church did not have the financial means at this time to publish many of the revelations. (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 10 Aug. 1833.)