JS, Letter, , Clay Co., MO, to , [, Hancock Co., IL], 22 Mar. 1839. Featured version published in Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, pp. 51–56.
Times and Seasons ( [later ], Hancock Co., IL), vol. 1, no. 1–vol. 2, no. 3 (July 1839–1 Dec. 1840), edited by and ; vol. 2, nos. 4–12 (15 Dec. 1840–15 Apr. 1841), edited by ; vol. 2, nos. 13–19 (1 May–2 Aug. 1841), edited by and ; vol. 2, no. 20 (16 Aug. 1841), edited by and ; vol. 2, no. 21–vol. 3, no. 7 (1 Sept. 1841–1 Feb. 1842), edited by ; vol. 3, nos. 8–24 (15 Feb.–15 Oct. 1842), edited by JS; vol. 4, no. 1–vol. 6, no. 23 (15 Nov. 1842–15 Feb. 1846), edited by .
The Times and Seasons was a newspaper published in (later ), Illinois, between July 1839 and 15 February 1846. The composition of the paper on which it was printed varied between wood pulp and linen fibers depending on what was available at the time of each issue’s publication. Each issue was printed on sixteen octavo pages measuring around 9½ × 6 inches (24 × 15 cm); the exact size varied depending on how an issue was cut. Each page contained two columns of text. In the issues prior to 1 July 1841, both columns were 2⅛ inches wide; in the later issues, the columns were 2¼ inches wide.
The first of the newspaper’s six volumes consisted of twelve issues and one reprint; the first issue was dated July 1839 and then the paper was published monthly from November 1839 through October 1840. The second through fifth volumes contained twenty-four issues each and were published semimonthly—generally dated on the first and fifteenth of each month—from 1 November 1840 to 15 October 1841, 1 November 1841 to 15 October 1842, 15 November 1842 to 1 November 1843, and 1 January 1844 to 1 January 1845, respectively. The sixth volume contained only twenty-three issues and ran on a semimonthly basis from 15 January 1845 to 15 February 1846. Volumes 1–3 were paginated 1–958; the numbers 577–582 were used on the pages at the end of volume 2 and were repeated on the pages at the beginning of volume 3. Volumes 4–6 were paginated 1–1135. Other minor errors in page numbers were made throughout both sets of pagination.
The volumes used in The Joseph Smith Papers were bound into several text blocks at a later date. Volumes 1 and 2 were bound together in three-quarter binding with textured red leather and shell marbled paper. The edges have been trimmed and speckled brown. The bound item measures 9 × 5⅝ × 1⅜ inches (23 × 14 × 3 cm). Another copy of volume 1 and of volume 2 were bound with volume 3 in a three-quarter case binding with black leather and textured cloth, measuring 9 × 6 × 2¼ inches (23 × 15 × 6 cm). Volumes 4 and 5 were bound individually but are identical in composition and materials, suggesting they were originally bound at around the same time. Both were likely compiled in , as they each contain a title page and index. It is not clear where they were originally bound. The edges of the two volumes have been trimmed and speckled blue. Both are bound with a three-quarter binding of textured black leather and shell marbled paper. Volume 4 measures 9¼ × 6 × 1 inches (23 × 15 × 3 cm), and volume 5 measures 8⅞ × 5⅞ × 1 inches (23 × 15 × 3 cm). Volume 6 is likewise bound individually, though with a three-quarter binding of brown calf leather and marbled paper; the paper has been significantly worn down. The pages have been trimmed, and the edges have uneven brown coloring. The volume measures 9¼ × 6 × ¾ inches (23 × 15 × 2 cm). The spine of each bound item has gold tooling, along with the name of the newspaper and the volumes contained in the binding. The spine of volume 6 also has decorative blind roll tooling.
All of the bound volumes except the final volume were rebound one or more times and underwent significant conservation work during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Nearly all of the volumes contain diamond-shaped press marks on the paper, and all of the volumes include archival stamping and labels from the Church Historian’s Office (now CHL) or other earlier owners. Volumes of the Times and Seasons have been in the possession of the Church Historian’s Office since at least 1846; however, it is unclear whether any of the earliest-acquired copies are the ones featured in The Joseph Smith Papers. There are no archival markings identifying the original owners of volumes 1–3. Volumes 4 and 5 apparently belonged to Robert Campbell until his death in 1872. By 11 December 1889, they were acquired by Andrew Jenson, an employee in the Church Historian’s Office, for his personal library. Volume 6 bears a partially removed label describing lending policies for an unidentified library, suggesting that that volume belonged to a lending library until Jenson acquired the volume by 1890. In 1930 the three volumes Jenson acquired were transferred, along with the rest of his library, to the Church Historian’s Office.
The newspaper was established after the and other church leaders in the area met in June 1839. They determined that and should publish the newspaper. The church would provide the printing press, with Robinson and Smith paying the publication expenses and receiving all profits from the business.
The press was first set up in the basement of a structure on the banks of the , and two hundred copies of the first issue were printed in July. Severe illness among the editors and their families prevented more copies from being printed. In November 1839, with the assistance of Lyman Gaylord and in a new structure on the northeast corner of Water and Bain streets, the first issue was printed again, redated November 1839. The yearly subscription fee for the newspaper was one dollar. The paper listed its publication location as until the May 1840 issue, when the location was changed to .
With the second volume, begun 1 November 1840, the paper began to be issued semimonthly and the subscription price increased to two dollars per year. The issues were dated the first and fifteenth of each month, but print runs were frequently a week or more late; in some cases, they were months behind schedule. On 14 December 1840, and dissolved their partnership, and Smith became the sole editor of the next nine issues, beginning with the 15 December issue. joined Smith as a coeditor for the issues of 1 May 1841 through 2 August 1841. After Smith’s death on 7 August 1841, Robinson once again joined the paper, coediting the 16 August issue with Thompson. Thompson died before the next issue was printed, leaving Robinson as the sole editor beginning with the 1 September 1841 issue. In November 1841, Robinson moved the Times and Seasons printing office across the street to the northwest corner of Water and Bain streets.
A 28 January 1842 revelation directed the to take responsibility for the paper. and were assigned to act as editors, and sold the printing establishment to JS on 4 February 1842. JS was identified as the editor of the paper for the issues of 15 February through 15 October 1842. In early December 1842, JS leased the printing office to Taylor and Woodruff, who had been heavily involved in editing and printing the paper throughout JS’s tenure as editor. Beginning with the first issue of volume 4, dated 15 November 1842, Woodruff was named as a publisher, with Taylor listed as a publisher and editor.
In January 1844, JS initiated the sale of the printing office to , but the transaction was not finalized prior to JS’s death in June 1844. Taylor remained the sole named editor for the remainder of the paper’s publication, which concluded with the 15 February 1846 issue.
At times due to opposition to the newspaper and at times due to a lack of supplies, issues were not published for 1 November 1842, 15 November 1843, 1 and 15 December 1843, 15 June 1844, and the months of September and October 1845.
On 22 March 1839, JS wrote from the in , Missouri, to land speculator in , Illinois. The month before, Galland met with members and regarding his offer to sell the church twenty thousand acres of land in , Iowa Territory, for Latter-day Saint refugees. Later in the month, on 26 February 1839, Galland wrote a letter to Rogers, expressing sympathy for the suffering church members and offering to assist them in any way possible. In late February or early March, likely after reading Galland’s letter, church leaders in , Illinois, assigned Rogers to deliver the letter and other important documents to JS. Rogers left soon thereafter, arriving in Liberty on 19 March 1839. The following day, JS wrote a general epistle to the church, encouraging church leaders in to exercise their discretion in whether to accept Galland’s offer. Before making a decision, however, church leaders were to consult with “the most faithfull and the most respictible of the authorities of the church” at general conferences.
Soon after completing the general epistle on 20 March 1839, JS wrote to , apparently responding to items in Galland’s February missive to . Galland had inquired about the status of Rogers’s “captive brethren in ” and whether JS had yet been released. Galland had also conceded that he had “little knowledge . . . as yet of the doctrines, order or practice of the church.” In JS’s response, he described the Saints’ sufferings and the prisoners’ misfortunes. He also gave an extended description of Latter-day Saint beliefs about the Bible, revelation, authority, and other “leading items of the gospel.” JS concluded the letter by stating his intention to purchase Galland’s land upon being released from prison. This statement indicates that JS’s thinking had changed since writing the 20 March general epistle to the church.
JS, who was the only signatory of the letter, likely dictated it to one of his fellow prisoners, perhaps , who performed most of the scribal duties for JS’s extended compositions in March 1839. The missive may have been included in the “package of letters for ” that the prisoners gave church member when he visited the on 22 March 1839. How the letter was carried to in is unknown. The land speculator’s immediate reaction to the letter is also unknown; extant records do not indicate whether he reserved the land for the Saints, but the land in question was available when JS arrived in Illinois on 22 April 1839, and soon afterward the church bought the land. Additionally, the letter probably influenced Galland’s decision to join the church in July 1839.
The original letter is apparently not extant. However, a transcript of the letter was printed in the February 1840 issue of the Times and Seasons; this printed copy is the version featured here.
religion, and mine, is, that I firmly believe in the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ, being the chief cornerstone. And speak as one having authority among them, and not as the scribes, and am liberal in my sentiments towards all men, in matters of opinion, and rights of conscience, whereas they are not. But enough of this. I feel highly gratified to learn of a man who had sympathy, and feelings of friendship towards a suffering, and an injured, and an innocent people: if you can do them any good, render them any assistance, or protection, in the name of suffering humanity, we beseach you, for God’s sake, and humanity’s sake, that you will do it. If you should see , I wish you would have the kindness to state to him, the contents of this letter; as we know him from information to be a man of character and a gentleman. I would be glad therefore, if it were possible that he, and not only him, but every other patriotic, and humane man, should know the real facts of our sufferings: and of the unjust and cruel hand that is upon us. I have been in this one year, the 12th, day of this month; I have never borne arms at any time. I have never held any office, civil or military in this . I have only officiated as a religious teacher, in religious matters, and not in temporal matters. The only occasion I have given, was to defend my own family, in my own door yard, against the invasions of a lawless mob: and that I did not at the expense of any man’s life: but risked my own in defence of an innocent family, consisting of a , five children, hired servants &c. My residence was in . I was surrounded with a noble, generous, and enterprising society, who were friendly to the laws, and constitution of our country: they were broken up without cause, and my family now as I suppose, if living, are in , Illinois.
We are informed that the prisoners in jail, , are much more inhumanly treated than we are; if this is the case, we will assure you, that their constitutions cannot last long, for we find ours wearing away very fast: and if we knew of any source whereby aid and assistance could be rendered unto us, we should most cordially petition for it: but where is liberty? Where is humanity? Where is patriotism? Where has the genius of the pedistal of the laws and constitution of our boasted country fled? Are they not slain victims at the feet of prejudice, to gratify the malice of a certain class of men, who have learned that their craft and creed cannot stand against the light of truth, when it comes to be investigated?— hence they resort to the vilest of the vile means, and to foul calumnies, and to physical force to do what? To deprive some fifty thousand, of the right of citizenship, and for what? because they are blasphemers? no: For this is contrary to their practice, as well as faith. Was it because they were tavern haunters, and drunkards? no. This charge cannot be substantiated against them as a people; it was contrary to their faith. And finally was it for any thing? no sir, not for any thing, only, that Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraced it felt himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and , falls at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft; hence the priests are alarmed, and they raise a hu-in-cry, down with these men! heresy! heresy! fanaticism! false prophet! false teachers! away with these men! crucify them! crucify them! And now sir, this is the sole cause of the persecution against the Mormon people, and now if they had been Mahomedans, Hottentots, or Pagans; or in fine sir, if their religion was as false as hell, what right would men have to drive them from their homes, and their country, or to exterminate them, so long as their religion did not interfere with the civil rights of men, according to the laws of our country? None at all. But the mind naturally being curious wants to know what those sentiments are, that are so at varience with the priests of the age, and I trust you will bear with me, while I offer to you a few of my reflections on this subject, and if they should not meet your mind, it may open a door for an exchange of ideas, and in the exercise of a proper liberality of spirit, it may not be unprofitable.
JS was probably responding to statements Galland made in his 26 February 1839 letter: “I wish to serve your cause in any matter which providence may afford me the opportunity of doing, And I therefore request that you feel no hesitancy, or reluctance in communicating to me your wishes, at all times, and on any subject.” Galland also wrote, “Accept dear Sir, for yourself, and in behalf of your church and people, assurance of my sincere sympathy in your sufferings and wrongs, and deep solicitude for your immdediately releif from present distress, and future triumphant conquest over every enemy.” (Isaac Galland, Commerce, IL, to David W. Rogers, [Quincy, IL], 26 Feb. 1839, in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 2, 3.)
JS presented a similar idea in his mid-March 1839 petition for a writ of habeas corpus: “The prisoner has never commanded any military company nor held any military authority neither any other office real or pretended in the state of Missouri except that of a religeous teacher that he never has born armes in the military ranks and in all such cases has acted as a private charactor and as an individual how then can . . . it be posible that the prisoner has committed treason the prisoner has had nothing to do in Davis County only on his own buisines as an individual?” (Petition to George Tompkins, between 9 and 15 Mar. 1839.)
In 1838 Jonathan Barlow was “apointed Steward in the hous of President Joseph Smith.” Barlow’s duties entailed feeding and watering horses, cutting wood, and completing other odd jobs. The identities of JS’s other hired servants in Missouri remain elusive. (Israel Barlow, Autobiographical Statement, no date, Barlow Family Collection, CHL; Jonathan Barlow, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. , State of Missouri v. JS et al. for Treason and Other Crimes [Mo. 5th Jud. Cir. 1838], in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; see also Jonathan Barlow, Testimony, Liberty, MO, 12 Feb. 1839, State of Missouri v. Ripley et al. [J.P. Ct. 1839], Clay County Archives and Historical Library, Liberty, MO.)
Barlow Family Collection, 1816–1969. CHL.
State of Missouri v. Ripley et al. / State of Missouri v. Alanson Ripley, Jonathan Barlow, William D. Huntington, David Holman, and Erastus Snow (J.P. Ct. 1839). Clay County Archives and Historical Library, Liberty, MO.
In November 1838, Judge King ruled there was probable cause to believe that Parley P. Pratt, Norman Shearer, Darwin Chase, Luman Gibbs, and Morris Phelps murdered Moses Rowland during the skirmish at Crooked River, near Ray County, Missouri, on 25 October 1838. King ordered the men to be held for trial in the Ray County jail. As with the prisoners in Clay County, those in Ray County spent time confined in the jail’s small dungeon. Phelps noted that the conditions were filthy, the lighting was poor, the guards were abusive, and most visitors were turned away or closely watched. “Most of the time we had plenty to eat,” Phelps recalled, “but it was verry ruff, cornbread and bacon, was our principal diate.” The prisoners did have some privileges, including permission for their wives to stay in the jail. Although the conditions in the Ray County jail were not comfortable, it is unclear why JS believed the prisoners there were treated more severely than were the prisoners in the Clay County jail. (Ruling, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. –, in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; Phelps, Reminiscences, –; Parley P. Pratt, Richmond, MO, to Mary Ann Frost Pratt, Far West, MO, 1 Dec. 1838, Parley P. Pratt, Letters, CHL; see also Baugh, “Final Episode of Mormonism in Missouri,” 1–34.)
Phelps, Morris. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 271.
Pratt, Parley P. Letters, 1838–1839. CHL. MS 5828.
Baugh, Alexander L. “The Final Episode of Mormonism in Missouri in the 1830s: The Incarceration of the Mormon Prisoners at Richmond and Columbia Jails, 1838–1839.” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 28 (2008): 1–34.
There were approximately eight to ten thousand Latter-day Saints in Missouri in 1838. (Elias Smith, Far West, MO, to Ira Smith, East Stockholm, NY, 11 Mar. 1839, Elias Smith Correspondence, CHL; Heber C. Kimball, Far West, MO, to Joseph Fielding, Preston, England, 12 Mar. 1839, in Compilation of Heber C. Kimball Correspondence, CHL; LeSueur, 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, 35; Leonard, Nauvoo, 671–672n33.)
Smith, Elias. Correspondence, 1834–1839. In Elias Smith, Papers, 1834–1846. CHL.
Heber C. Kimball Family Organization. Compilation of Heber C. Kimball Correspondence, 1983. Unpublished typescript. CHL.
LeSueur, Stephen C. The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987.
Leonard, Glen M. Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, a People of Promise. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2002.
JS dictated a revelation in 1833 proscribing the consumption of wine and “strong drinks”—apparently distilled liquors—although “wine of your own make” was permitted for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. (Revelation, 27 Feb. 1833 [D&C 89:5–6].)
An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.
“Mahomedans” was a name Europeans used when referring to Muslims. JS’s advocacy for religious toleration of Muslims reflected the views of Thomas Jefferson and other national leaders who contended that religious liberty should extend beyond traditional Christian groups to include adherents of Islam. (See Spellberg, Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an, 3–11.)
Spellberg, Denise A. Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders. New York: Knopf, 2013.
“Hottentots” was the name Dutch settlers gave to the Khoikhoi, a pastoralist indigenous people of southern Africa. One nineteenth-century gazetteer claimed that they had no recognizable religion prior to the arrival of Europeans. (Brookes, New Universal Gazetteer, 384–385; Thompson, History of South Africa, 10–11, 37.)
Brookes, R., and John Marshall, comps. A New Universal Gazetteer, Containing a Description of the Principal Nations, Empires, Kingdoms, States, Provinces, Cities, Towns, Forts, Seas, Harbours, Rivers, Lakes, Canals, Mountains, Volcanoes, Capes, Caverns, Cataracts, and Grottoes, of the Known World. . . . Philadelphia: W. Marshall and Co., 1839.
Thompson, Leonard. A History of South Africa. 3rd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.
Europeans and European Americans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries used the term pagan to describe the religions of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Africa. Some European Americans argued that these religions deserved legal toleration. (Pointer, “Native Freedom,” 169–194.)
Pointer, Richard W. “Native Freedom? Indians and Religious Tolerance in Early America.” In The First Prejudice: Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in Early America, edited by Chris Beneke and Christopher S. Grenda, 169–194. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.