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.
follow in their wake, not excepted; and until the damnation of hell rolls upon them, by the voice, and dread thunders, and trump of the eternal God; then, in that day will we not shout in the victory and be crowned with eternal joys, for the battles we have fought, having kept the faith and overcome the world. Tell the children that it is well with their father, as yet; and that he remains in fervent prayer to Almighty God for the safety of himself, and for you, and for them. Tell that it shall be well with her son, wether in life or in death; for thus saith the Lord God. Tell her that I remember her all the while, as well as and all the rest; they all must be of good cheer. Tell to be sure and not fail to carry out my instructions, but at the same time if the Militia does not come, and we should get any favorable information all may be well yet. Yours in haste, Your affectionate husband untill death, through all eternity forevermore
P.S. I want you to write to , and get him to make affidavit to all he knows about and forward it. I also want you to ascertain from wether he will conform to what I have requested. And you must write me an answer per bearer, giving me all the news you have, and what is the appearance of things this morning
This request was probably prompted by a letter Wasson wrote to JS and Emma Smith, which was published in the 15 August issue of the Times and Seasons. In the letter, Wasson offered, “There are many things I can inform you of, if necessary, in relation to Bennett and his prostitutes.” Wasson, who was Emma Smith’s nephew, had lived with her and JS in Nauvoo but was proselytizing in Philadelphia at this time. (Letter from Lorenzo D. Wasson, 30 July 1842.)