JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , [, Montgomery Co., OH], 22 July 1840. Featured version copied [ca. 22 July 1840] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 157–158; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 22 July 1840, JS wrote a letter to , who was then living in , Ohio. Phelps had been a prominent leader in the but was excommunicated in March 1839 after he testified against JS and other church leaders in a November 1838 hearing in . In June 1840, Phelps sent a letter to JS requesting forgiveness for his past actions and asking to be readmitted into the church. Phelps’s letter was accompanied by a letter from and , two members of the , who were preaching in Dayton. Hyde and Page supported Phelps’s attempt to regain fellowship within the church, stating that Phelps was “willing to make any sacrifice” to become a member of the church again. Phelps’s letter was read before the Saints on Sunday, 19 July 1840, and the congregation voted “with one voice and uplifted hands” to restore him to fellowship. JS wrote this letter three days later to inform Phelps of the decision and to express his personal joy at Phelps’s repentance.
The original letter is not extant. copied it into JS Letterbook 2 before the letter was sent.
I must say that it is with no ordinary feelings I endeavour to write a few lines to you in answer to yours of the 29th. Ultimo, at the same time I am rejoiced at the priveledge granted me. You may in some measure realise what my feelings, as well as ’s & ’s were when we read your letter, truly our hearts were melted into tenderness and compassion when we assertained your resolves &c
I can assure you I feel a disposition to act on your case in a manner that will meet the approbation of Jehovah (whose servant I am) and agreeably to the principles of truth and righteousness which have been revealed and inasmuch as long-suffering patience and mercy have ever characterized the dealings of our heavenly Father towards the humble and penitent, I feel disposed, to copy the example and cherish the same principles, by so doing be a savior of my fellow men
It is true, that we have suffered much in consequence of your behavior—thecupofgallalreadyfullenough for mortals to drink, was indeed filled to overflowing when you turned against us: One with whom we had oft taken sweet council together, and enjoyed many refreshing seasons from the Lord “Had it been an enemy we could have borne it” [“]In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day when Strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates and cast lots upon even thou wast as one of them. But thou shouldst not have looked on [p. 157]
Among other things, Phelps testified before Missouri’s fifth judicial circuit court that JS and Rigdon had declared any sheriff approaching them with writs should be killed and that Rigdon had stated the church should set up its own independent government. Based on Phelps’s testimony and the testimony of others, JS, Rigdon, and other church leaders were incarcerated in the Clay Countyjailhouse at Liberty, Missouri, in December 1838 to await trial. (William W. Phelps, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. , , State of Missouri v. JS et al. for Treason and Other Crimes [Mo. 5th Jud. Cir. 1838], in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Sept. 1840, 1:164.)
Missouri, State of. “Evidence.” Hearing Record, Richmond, MO, 12–29 Nov. 1838, State of Missouri v. Joseph Smith et al. for Treason and Other Crimes (Mo. 5th Cir. Ct. 1838). Eugene Morrow Violette Collection, 1806–1921, Western Historical Manuscript Collection. University of Missouri and State Historical Society of Missouri, Ellis Library, University of Missouri, Columbia.