JS, , and , Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to , , 7 Apr. 1834. Retained copy, [ca. 7 Apr. 1834], in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 82–84; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 1.
On 7 April 1834, JS composed this letter to , who was on a mission for the church in the eastern . Hyde was assigned to recruit members to travel to to help the Saints who had been driven from . He was also assigned to raise money from church members for land purchases in Missouri and for a payment on the in , Ohio. The French farm had been designated by revelation as the place where the Lord’s “” would be built. In March 1833, a council of and appointed and to supervise the purchase of the farm, and on 10 April 1833, Coe concluded an agreement with French. Under the terms of the agreement, Coe apparently provided $2,000 of the $5,000 price up front, with two additional payments of $1,500 required, one of which was due on 10 April 1834. In June 1833, , in Kirtland and a member of the , purchased the farm from Coe, and the responsibility for the two $1,500 payments presumably fell to him. Facing the 10 April deadline on the first payment, church leaders needed funds “to redeem the farm.”
On 17 March 1834, JS held a in , New York, at which was directed to remain in that area and preach while four local church members—, , , and —attempted to raise $2,000 by the first of April “for the relief of the brethren in .” Hyde was then to bring the money “immediately to Kirtland.” However, on 31 March, Hyde sent a letter explaining that the fund-raising efforts had not yet succeeded.
JS received the discouraging news by 7 April. With the 10 April deadline looming, JS, , , , and went into the translating room in Whitney’s on 7 April and “bowed down befor[e] the Lord and prayed that he would furnish the means” to retire their debts. JS then replied to ’s letter, expressing disappointment in the lack of success with fund raising, chastising church members for not contributing their means more liberally, and wondering whether the gathering of Saints to from eastern branches should continue, given church members’ apparent lack of generosity. JS was especially concerned that he would not be able to go to Missouri to help those Saints who had been driven out of if monetary help was not forthcoming. He also expressed concern that if he could not go, the entire expedition would fail to materialize.
Although the letter is written in JS’s voice, it also contains the signatures of , one of JS’s counselors in the and a member of the United Firm, and , another firm member. The original letter is not extant. Williams copied it into JS’s letterbook, probably soon after its composition. It is unclear if received the letter; no response from him has been located.
JS, Journal, 7–9 Apr. 1834. The “translating room,” located in the southeast corner on the second floor of Whitney’s store in Kirtland, was where JS had worked on his translation of the Bible and was also used for administrative purposes. (Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 251.)
Staker, Mark L. Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009.
It is unclear what debts or other monetary obligations JS had that would have prevented him from going to Missouri. The indebtedness that concerned him was likely connected with the debts of other members of the United Firm. Since firm members apparently bonded themselves in accordance with instructions in an April 1832 revelation, they may have each held responsibility for the firm’s collective debts. (Revelation, 26 Apr. 1832 [D&C 82:15]; see also Minutes, 26–27 Apr. 1832; and Parkin, “Joseph Smith and the United Firm,” 37–39.)
We received yours of the 31st ult in due course of Mail and were much grieved on learning that you were not like to succeed according to our expectations, Myself and retired to the Translatingroom when prayer was wont to be made and unbosomed our feelings before God and cannot but exercise faith yet that you in the meraculus providence of God will succeed in obtaining help the fact is that unless we can obtain help I myself cannot go to Zion and if I do not go it will be impossable to get my brethren in any of them to go and if we do not go it is in vain for our eastern brethren to think of going up to better themselves by obtaining so goodly a land which now can be obtained for one dollar and a quarter pr acre and stand against that wicked Mob for unless they do the will of God, God will not help them and if God does not help them all is vain. Now the fact is this is the head is of the and the life of the body and threu able men as members of the body God has appointd to be hands to administer to the necessities of the body, Now if a mans hands refuse to administer to the necessity of his body it must perish of hunger and if the body perish all the members perish with it and if the head fails the whole body is sickened, the heart faints and the body dies the spirit takes its exit and the carcass remains to be devoured of worms
Under the Land Act of 1820, settlers could purchase a minimum of eighty acres of public land for as little as $1.25 per acre. In 1834, a considerable amount of public land still existed in Missouri. According to one history, by the end of 1830 the total acreage of public land sold “had reached nearly 1,700,000 acres; sales in the decade of the 1830’s put the total to just short of 7,000,000.” (An Act Making Further Provision for the Sale of Public Lands [24 Apr. 1820], Public Statutes at Large, 16th Cong., 1st Sess., chap. 51, p. 566, sec. 3; McCandless, History of Missouri, 43–44.)
The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845. . . . Edited by Richard Peters. 8 vols. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846–1867.
McCandless, Perry. A History of Missouri: Volume II, 1820 to 1860. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1972.
In late October and early November 1833, non-Mormon settlers organized and attacked the homes of church members, driving most of them from Jackson County. In February 1834, some church leaders in Missouri, guarded by a state militia, returned to Jackson County to testify against their assailants before a court of inquiry. However, state attorney general Robert W. Wells and circuit attorney Amos Rees told the Saints “that such was the excitement prevailing there; that it was doubtful whether any thing could be done to bring the mobbers to justice.” The expedition to Missouri was thus meant to provide security for church members to reoccupy their Jackson County lands in the face of this strong and pervasive opposition. (Parley P. Pratt et al., “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Extra, Feb. 1834, –; “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons,Feb. 1840, 1:49; Letter from William W. Phelps, 27 Feb. 1834; Revelation, 24 Feb. 1834 [D&C 103:15–16, 22–25].)
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.