JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , Adams Co., IL, 27 May 1839. Featured version copied [between 27 May and 30 Oct. 1839] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 13–14; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 27 May 1839, JS composed a letter to regarding two letters Wight had recently published in the Quincy Whig. In Wight’s letters, he assailed officials, particularly Democratic politicians, for failing to aid the . , who informed JS about Wight’s letters, feared that Wight’s anti-Democratic sentiments would offend residents of , Illinois, and harm the church’s efforts in seeking federal redress for their losses in Missouri. According to Thompson, church leaders in Quincy had appointed a committee to dissuade Wight from blaming Democrats for the church’s problems in Missouri. In response to the situation, on 17 May the wrote a letter to the editors of the Quincy Whig. In the letter, the First Presidency affirmed Wight’s freedom of expression but clarified that Wight spoke for himself, not the church, and that the mistreatment of the Saints in Missouri should not be turned into a political matter.
In this 27 May letter to , JS explained that in response to ’s and other church members’ concerns, he and other church leaders had discussed Wight’s letters in a meeting and drafted a letter disapproving of Wight’s statements. JS wrote that he and other church leaders did “not at all approve” of Wight’s course of action, which had made “the subject of our sufferings a political question.” Despite this rebuke, JS stressed his belief that Wight had acted with good intentions and was a man of integrity. JS also discussed the potential consequences of Wight’s political assertions, and while JS did not ask Wight to stop writing, JS did urge caution and requested that Wight avoid writing as though he spoke for the church. Five days after JS wrote this letter, the Quincy Whig published another letter from Wight, in which he referenced the First Presidency’s 17 May letter to the editors of the newspaper. Wight stated that he did not “wish to make a political question” of the troubles, but he dismissed the church leaders’ earlier guidance and insisted that he must show who was responsible for the Saints’ suffering. The original letter JS sent to Wight is apparently not extant. The text featured here was copied by into JS Letterbook 2 between 27 May and 30 October 1839.
See Historical Introduction to Letter from Robert B. Thompson, 13 May 1839; see also Lyman Wight, Quincy, IL, 1 May 1839, Letter to the Editors, Quincy (IL) Whig, 4 May 1839, ; and Lyman Wight, Quincy, IL, 7 May 1839, Letter to the Editors, Quincy Whig, 11 May 1839, .
Having last week received a letter from Br. concerning your late writings in the Quincy Whig, and understanding thereby that the in general at were rather uneasy concerning these matters we have thought best to consider the matter of course, And accordingly being in on Saturday last, the subject was introduced, And discussed at some length, when an answer to ’s letter was agreed to, And sanctioned by the Council, which answer I expect will be published, and of course you will have an opportunity to see it. It will be seen by that letter that we do not [p. 13]