Letter to Hyrum Smith and Nauvoo High Council, 5 December 1839
- Source Note
On 5 December 1839, JS and wrote to —the remaining member of the in , Illinois—and the to inform them of their safe arrival in a week earlier. JS and Higbee apprised Smith and the high council of their recent efforts to obtain redress from the federal government for the persecutions members experienced in and described their meeting with President , in which the president declined to help the Saints.JS and , accompanied by representative , went to the President’s House on 29 November seeking a meeting with . In the 1830s, visitors commonly arrived at the President’s House without an appointment. Many Americans, including legislators and office seekers, discussed their business with the president in social settings, and Van Buren frequently met with guests in the parlor outside his office for hours at a time. In this setting, JS and Higbee would have had to compete with other visitors for the president’s attention, which may explain why Reynolds introduced them.It is unclear what JS and asked to do to support their petitioning efforts. They may have requested an executive order that would result in redress and reparations for church members’ losses, but no documentary evidence exists to support this possibility. It is unlikely that Van Buren would have considered executive action to force , a state led predominantly by Democrats, to restore the Saints’ property rights. Van Buren was a staunch advocate of states’ rights and was at this time widely considered the architect of the Democratic Party, which had elected his predecessor, Andrew Jackson, to two consecutive presidential terms. However, JS and Higbee possibly believed Van Buren was amenable to lending his political influence to the church’s memorial for redress to Congress. Evidence suggests they tried to enlist him to assist in their appeal. In their ongoing correspondence while in , members of the church’s delegation indicated they were awaiting publication of the president’s annual message to Congress, hoping that Van Buren would therein urge Congress to act in the Saints’ behalf.JS and also described their plan to meet with all the congressional delegates the following day, mentioned the delayed travel of and , and asked and the high council to help expedite financial arrangements for the delegation. They then requested that the Saints continue their efforts to encourage influential men in Illinois and to write letters to Congress in support of the church. After closing by asking that the letter be forwarded to their wives, JS and Higbee included a postscript that criticized the behavior of Congress and recounted more of their travels.received the letter by 2 January 1840. The original letter is not extant. The version featured here was copied into JS Letterbook 2 by between April and June 1840.
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