First Presidency (including JS), “Report from the Presidency,” [, Hancock Co., IL], to the Church, 4 Oct. 1840. Featured version published in “Report from the Presidency,” Times and Seasons, Oct. 1840, 187–188. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
On the morning of 4 October 1840, read this report from the as part of the 3–5 October general held in , Illinois. The statement was likely written for the First Presidency by Thompson, as evidenced by wording similar to language in an editorial he wrote in July 1840. At least the opening portion of this report was apparently written (or rewritten) after the conference began because it comments on the “unpropitious” weather and strong attendance at the conference.
The report described the ’s circumstances at the time, emphasizing positive developments in . In the report, the First Presidency mainly sought assistance in paying off the church’s debts from land purchases in , Illinois, and , Iowa Territory. Highlighting this purpose, the minutes of the general conference refer to the document as “the report of the presidency, in relation to the city plot.” This document echoed an earlier April 1840 report that dealt with church leaders’ “proceedings in purchasing lands and securing a place of gathering for the saints.”
In addition to addressing land purchases in , the October report relayed news about the church’s missionary efforts. According to the report, members of the continued to many people in Great Britain. As of October 1840, church membership there totaled well over three thousand, and the first stream of convert immigration to the and Nauvoo was under way, with the first company of Saints departing in June 1840. The apostles had also turned their attention to publishing, having printed a monthly periodical, the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, since May 1840 and a hymnbook in July 1840. In addition to the apostles’ efforts in Great Britain, missionaries were also making strides in the southern United States. With more people joining the church, the First Presidency announced that a new edition of the Book of Mormon had been printed in , which would resolve the shortage of copies in Nauvoo and elsewhere.
The original report is not extant, but a copy was published in the October 1840 issue of the Times and Seasons. It was republished in the Millennial Star in January 1841.
Bonds from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A and B; Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. 12-G, p. 274, 30 Apr. 1839, microfilm 954,195; Lee Co., IA, Land Records, 1836–1961, Deeds (South, Keokuk), vol. 1, pp. 507–509, microfilm 959,238; vol. 2, pp. 3–6, 13–16, microfilm 959,239, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Cook, “Isaac Galland,” 270–275.
The calls to the southern states are indeed great, many places which a short time ago would think it a disgrace to give shelter to a Mormon, on account of the many false misrepresentations which were abroad, now desire to hear an of the .
On the Islands of the sea, viz. great Britain, there continues to be a steady flow of souls into the church— have been organized in many large and populous cities and the whole land appears to be thirsting for the pure streams of knowledge and salvation. The have already printed a new edition of the Hymn book, and issue a monthly periodical in that land. Several families have already arrived here from and a number more are on their way to this place, and are expected this fall.
If the work roll forth with the same rapidity it has heretofore done, we may soon expect to see flocking to this place, people from every land and from every nation, the polished European, the degraded Hottentot, and the shivering Laplander. Persons of all languages, and of every tongue, and of every color; who shall with us worship the Lord of Hosts in his holy temple, and offer up their orisons in his sanctuary. It was in consideration of these things, and that a home might be provided for the saints, that induced us to purchase the present city for a place of for the saints. and the extensive tract of land on the opposite side of the . Although, the purchase at that time and under the peculiar conditions and circumstances of the church, appeared to many to be large and uncalled for; yet from what we now see, it is apparent to all, that we shall soon have to say. “The place is too strait give us room that we may dwell.”
We therefore hope that the brethren, who feel interested in the cause of truth, and desire to see the work of the gathering of Israel roll forth with power will aid us in liquidating the debts which are now owing, so that the may be secured to the church, and which eventually will be of great value. From the good spirit which is manifested on this occasion, the desire to do good, and the zeal for the honor of the church, inspires us with confidence that we shall not appeal in vain, but that funds will be forthcoming on this occasion, sufficient to meet the necessities of the case.
It is with great pleasure that we have to inform the church that, another edition of the book of Mormon has been printed, and which is expected on from , in a short time. And that arrangements are making for printing the book of Doctrine and Covenants Hymn book, etc. etc. So that the demand which may exist, for those works will soon be supplied.
In conclusion we would say. Brethren and Sisters be faithful, be diligent, contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints—let every man, woman and child realize the importance of the work, and act as if its success depended on their individual exertion alone, let them feel an interest in it, and then consider they live in a day, the contemplation of which animated the bosom of Kings, Prophets and Righteous men, thousands of years ago the prospect of which inspired their sweetest notes and most exalted lays’ and caused them to break out in such rapturous strains as are recorded in the scriptures; and by and by, we shall have to exclaim in the language of Inspiration,
“The Lord has brought again —
The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel.” [p. 188]
See James 1:9–10; and Revelation, 23 Apr. 1834 [D&C 104:16]. Wilford Woodruff reported in April 1840 that he had baptized “one Clark [clerk] of the Church of England, one constable, & a number of wealthy farmers,” as well as forty-eight preachers. (Woodruff, Journal, 15 Apr. 1840.)
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.
On 6 October 1840, a general conference held in Manchester, England, reported that there were approximately thirty-six hundred church members in England. (Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith, Manchester, England, 12 Oct. 1840, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, 15 Dec. 1840, 2:252.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
The first edition of the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star was printed in May 1840. The same printer, W. R. Thomas, published A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Europe (Manchester, England: W. R. Thomas, 1840). Copies of the hymnal were available for purchase by July 1840. (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:108–113, 121–124.)
Crawley, Peter. A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. 3 vols. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997–2012.
Phebe Carter Woodruff noted that four families of British immigrants arrived in Nauvoo on 27 August 1840. Through correspondence with the Twelve Apostles, the First Presidency would have been aware of further immigration plans. On 9 July 1840, for example, Heber C. Kimball wrote JS that “a large company of the saints are preparing to start for America this fall.” (Phebe Carter Woodruff, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, to Wilford Woodruff, 8 Sept. 1840, digital scan, Wilford Woodruff, Collection, CHL; Letter from Heber C. Kimball, 9 July 1840.)
Woodruff, Wilford. Collection, 1831–1905. Digital scans. CHL. Originals in private possession.
“Hottentot” refers to “a native of the southern extremity of Africa.” As the adjective “degraded” implies, this word carried a disparaging connotation. Webster included the alternate definition “a savage brutal man” in the 1841 edition of his dictionary. (“Hottentot,” in American Dictionary , 841.)
An American Dictionary of the English Language; First Edition in Octavo, Containing the Whole Vocabulary of the Quarto, with Corrections, Improvements and Several Thousand Additional Words. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. 2nd ed. 2 vols. New Haven: By the author, 1841.
The church had purchased nearly five hundred acres of land in and surrounding Commerce, Illinois, and nearly eighteen thousand acres in Lee County, Iowa Territory. (Bonds from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A and B; Lee Co., IA, Land Records, 1836–1961, Deeds [South, Keokuk], vol. 1, pp. 507–509, microfilm 959,238; vol. 2, pp. 3–6, 13–16, microfilm 959,239, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Cook, “Isaac Galland,” 270–275.)
After setbacks in the effort to republish the Book of Mormon in Nauvoo, Ebenezer Robinson relocated to Cincinnati in June 1840 to expedite the book’s publication. On 2 October 1840, Robinson returned to Nauvoo with an update about the printing schedule. The books were ready for sale by 1 November 1840. ([Don Carlos Smith], “To the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Times and Seasons, July 1840, 1:144; Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor,” Return, May 1890, 258–259; June 1890, 285–286; Advertisement, Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1840, 2:208.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
The Return. Davis City, IA, 1889–1891; Richmond, MO, 1892–1893; Davis City, 1895–1896; Denver, 1898; Independence, MO, 1899–1900.