On 16 August 1842, while hiding at ’s house a few miles northeast of the site of the in , Illinois, JS wrote to in Nauvoo with instructions on how to prepare to flee with him from to , should the need arise. JS also expressed his feeling of contentment, even though he sent the letter in the midst of an attempt by Illinois officers to find him, arrest him, and extradite him to to face charges in connection with the attempted assassination of former governor . The night before JS wrote the letter, a group of his closest associates had traveled to Sayers’s farm to inform JS of recent developments in Nauvoo. The group was concerned about his safety, and during the conversation, which lasted until two o’clock in the morning, they urged him to prepare to travel to Wisconsin Territory. JS attempted to calm their fears. Writing to Emma later that morning, he emphasized that if they did depart from Nauvoo, it would be to ensure the safety of Emma and their family. The same morning, JS also wrote a letter to , asking for advice about whether he should leave Illinois.
, who appears to have been at ’s farm with JS on 16 August, probably wrote the original letter as JS dictated it to him; that original is no longer extant. delivered the letter to shortly after it was written. She apparently responded to JS’s letter that same day, although her letter of reply is undated. Clayton may have made a copy of JS’s original letter immediately after creating it, or he may have later obtained the original. Regardless, he copied the letter into JS’s journal after returning to , probably between 21 and 23 August, as suggested by the location of the letter in the Book of the Law of the Lord and by changes in ink color.
I embrace this opportunity to express to you some of my feelings this morning. First of all, I take the liberty to tender you my sincere thanks for the two interesting and consoling visits that you have made me during my almost exiled situation. Tongue can not express the gratitude of my heart, for the warm and true-hearted friendship you have manifested in these things toward me. The time has passed away since you left me, very agreeably; thus far, my mind being perfectly reconciled to my fate, let it be what it may. I have been kept from melancholy and dumps, by the kind-heartedness of , and his interesting chit-chat from time to time, which has called my mind from the more strong contemplations of things, and subjects that would have preyed more earnestly upon my feelings. Last night—in the night—, , & others came to see us. They seemed much agitated, and expressed some fears in consequence of some manouverings and some flying reports which they had heard in relation to our safety; but after relating what it was, I was able to comprehend the whole matter to my entire satisfaction, and did not feel at all alarmed or uneasy. They think, however, that the Militia will be called out to search the , and if this should be the case I would be much safer for the time being at a little distance off, untill could get weary and be made ashamed of his corrupt and unhallowed pro-ceedings. I had supposed, however, that if there were any serious operations taking by the ; that or would have notified us; and cannot believe that any thing very serious is to be apprehended, untill we obtain information from a source that can be relied on. I have consulted wether it is best for you to go to , and see the ; but on the whole, he is a fool; and the impressions that are suggested to my mind, are, that it will be of no use; and the more we notice him, and flatter him, the more eager he will be for our destruction. You may write to him, whatever you see proper, but to go and see him, I do not give my consent at present. again suggested to me the propriety of my accompanying him to the , and then he return, and bring you [p. 173]
On the day JS wrote the letter featured here, he reflected on those who had stood by him during his trials and wrote of Emma, “Again she is here, even in the seventh trouble, undaunted, firm and unwavering, unchangeable, affectionate Emma.” (Reflections and Blessings, 16 and 23 Aug. 1842.)
Derr, Jill Mulvay, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, and Matthew J. Grow, eds. The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History. Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2016.
Miller had been involved in recent discussions about the lumber operation in Wisconsin Territory. In fall 1842, he was called to travel to Wisconsin Territory to “make an effort . . . to extricate our establishment from debt, and make the lumber in sufficient quantities to keep the work progressing.” (JS, Journal, 26 June 1842; George Miller, St. James, MI, to “Dear Brother,” 26 June 1855, in Northern Islander [St. James, MI], 16 Aug. 1855, .)