Times and Seasons (, Hancock Co., IL), 1 Sept. 1842, vol. 3, no. 21, pp. 895–910; edited by JS. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
JS served as editor for the 1 September 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons, a newspaper published in , Illinois. It was the twenty-first issue in the third volume of the newspaper. JS purchased the newspaper and the from in February 1842 and began his work as editor on the 1 March 1842 issue. and assisted JS with his editorial responsibilities; in moments when JS was occupied with other pressing business, Taylor and Woodruff commonly performed most—if not all—of the editing required for the publication of each issue, including the writing of editorial content. While it is unclear how involved JS was in preparing this particular issue, he nevertheless assumed editorial responsibility for this and all issues produced during his time as editor.
Like all issues of the Times and Seasons, the 1 September 1842 issue contained both non-editorial and editorial content. The non-editorial content included a letter from members of the who were then serving missions in Great Britain, a selection from the “History of Joseph Smith,” and a reprinted letter to the editor of the Bostonian that described a debate in between church member and Dr. George Montgomery West. The issue also featured a notice from member , a brief letter from members of the temple committee, and two poems.
The issue’s editorial content, for which JS was ultimately responsible, is featured here with introductions. It included commentary on news of social unrest throughout the world, a counter to claims in a newspaper that church members were superstitious and deluded, an explanation of the persecution JS experienced in the context of the persecution aimed at biblical prophets, an editorial on the proper mode of baptism, and a defense against claims made in recent publications that were antagonistic toward the church. The editorial passages also included a positive description of the current health of Nauvoo’s residents, a supposed conversation between a Latter-day Saint and a Protestant clergyman likely written as an editorial device to argue for the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, commentary on a selection from a book about biblical archaeology, a reprinting of the church’s official statement on marriage from 1835, a humorous proverb, and a notice encouraging readers to renew their subscriptions to the newspaper.
Note that only the editorial content created specifically for this issue of the Times and Seasons is annotated here. Articles reprinted from other papers, letters, conference minutes, and notices, are reproduced here but not annotated. Items that are stand-alone JS documents are annotated elsewhere; links are provided to these stand-alone documents.
“An Epistle of the Twelve,” “History of Joseph Smith,” and “Mormons, or ‘Latter Day Saints,’” Times and Seasons, 1 Sept. 1842, 3:895–900. Although the Times and Seasons identifies West only as “Dr. West,” he is fully named in the Boston Investigator’s coverage of West’s preaching. (“Rev. Dr. George Montgomery West,” Boston Investigator, 8 June 1842, ; “Dr. West and the Mormons,” Boston Investigator, 22 June 1842, .)
and Lane-end, the chief towns within the potteries, were greatly excited; so much so, indeed, that the authorities deemed it necessary to call in the immediate aid of the county police and military.
The turnouts, to the amount of some thousands, visited the collieries, iron works, and potteries, where men were to be found who had accepted reduced scale of wages, and in some instances inflicted personal violence upon men whom they found peaceably engaged at work. At Fenton Park it is stated that one man was thrown into scalding hot water, and in other places acts of the grossest violence were committed.
Yesterday the discontented assembled in great numbers, and their line of muster, if not of march, extended from Tunstal to Lane-end a distance of at least seven miles. Some detachments of yeomanry paraded the district, but this description of force being deemed insufficient to meet the emergency, application was made for the assistance of her Majesty’s troops, and the same evening a troop of the 3d Dragoons, from the Birmingham barracks, left this town for the disturbed districts.
Persons arriving from Burslem to-day state that no less than 6,000 workmen have turned out, and that boat loads, of assistants for a row have arrived from Bilston and other manufacturing districts of South Staffordshire. The insurgents were to-day marching for Cheadle, but it was confidently hoped that the precautionary measures adopted by the authorities would prevent further outrage.
Besides appearances so emblematic of the “distress of nations,” as the foregoing—and along with the great fires, tornadoes, and earthquakes which agitate some portions of the globe, more or less, every week, we present the following second visit of that awful scourge to mankind,—the Cholera.
☞The Asiatic Cholera, which raged so fearfully in India ten years ago, and spread from thence nearly over the entire world, has again made its appearance there; and the most fearful accounts are given of its ravages. At Calcutta, Bombay, and in the Deccan this pestilence was raging fearfully; and we have before us in one of the Irish papers, a letter from an officer of the 22d regiment, stationed at Camp Kurrachee, which says that in the course of one month there were buried, from that regiment alone the band-master, sergeant major, three sergeants, a hundred and twenty men, twelve women, and twenty children.
The second editorial selection in this issue, titled “Opinion,” rebutted an assertion made in the Boston Investigator, a newspaper dedicated to the philosophy of free thought, that “Mormonism is destined to become one of the most splendid superstitions ever devised.” The Times and Seasons reprinted a portion of the controversial article immediately below this rebuttal.
By proving contrarieties truth frequently appears. So with the religion of Jesus, its beauties and glories often shine, when its revilers are endeavoring to expose what they may denominate, its deformities. The prophet said the Lord would perform a strange work in the last days—and when we behold the various opinions of men, concerning the doctrine of the , we think the time has come and the work commenced, and it is proved by more witnesses than our church. All sects, all people, even the Deists, (who are in point of common law and order, good men, and might be termed the ‘salt of the earth,’ on that head) seem anxious to cast in their ‘mite’ for or against the Mormons, (so called.) The following curious reasoning on the subject, is from the Boston Investigator.
“There is still a higher series as regards the superstitions of the world. This is an amalgamation of sects, denominations, and superstitions. Zoroaster, Mahomet, the Christ of India and of Palestine, have done this, and Joseph Smith will do it. We predicted this long ago, and affirm it still. We predicted it when it was under deep persecution. We rested our prediction not on preternatual foresight, but on the fact, that the plan covered all the ground, and combined principles and motives exactly calculated to do it. The Jewish account; the Christian religion; a revelation, latter day saints; all gifts and graces; ecclesiastical honors; and armed, peaceful neutrality, well disciplined and springing up in the midst of a free people; points taking in all our large cities, and from the world a grand concentration forming in ! Say or do what we please, Mormonism is destined to become one of the most splendid superstitions ever devised. It has originated in an age of science, resting on originations in an age of ignorance, and it is this very fact which will sustain it. Fifty years hence, and you will hear this argument:—‘What! Do you believe that Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Lord, could have been an imposter? Did he not spring up in an age [p. 901]
A nearly worldwide cholera epidemic arrived in the United States in 1832, killing thousands of Americans. In 1834 more than fifty members of the Camp of Israel expedition to Missouri (later known as Zion’s Camp) were infected with the disease, and thirteen of them died as a result. (Jortner, “Cholera, Christ, and Jackson,” 233–238; Letter to Lyman Wight and Others, 16 Aug. 1834; Divett, “His Chastening Rod,” 6–12.)
Jortner, Adam. “Cholera, Christ, and Jackson: The Epidemic of 1832 and the Origins of Christian Politics in Antebellum America.” Journal of the Early Republic 27, no. 2 (Summer 2007): 233–264.
Divett, Robert T. “His Chastening Rod: Cholera Epidemics and the Mormons.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12, no. 3 (Fall 1979): 6–15.
Camp Kurrachee was a British military installation near what is now Karachi, Pakistan. (Thornton, Gazetteer, 417–420.)
Thornton, Edward. A Gazetteer of the Countries Adjacent to India on the North-West; Including Sinde, Afghanistan, Beloochistan, the Punjab, and the Neighbouring States. Compiled by the Authority of the Hon. Court of Directors of the East-India Company, and Chiefly from Documents in Their Possession. Vol. 1. London: William H. Allen, 1844.
See Matthew 5:13. Early American deists believed in a singular creator god and rejected Trinitarian theology. They tended to believe that the creator god was the architect of the universe, who after setting the stars and planets in motion withdrew from any further intervention. Deists rejected miracles, spiritual gifts, and any form of supernatural revelation, including those described in the Bible. They criticized classical Christian theology and espoused in its place a commonsense morality. The Boston Investigator was published by a group that dubbed themselves Freethinkers, who were often conflated with deists. The Freethinkers maintained that knowledge was rooted in rational thought based on facts and, accordingly, rejected Protestant Christian theology, believing that it was too reliant on a belief in supernatural phenomena. (See Holifield, Theology in America, 162–170; Schlereth, Age of Infidels, 4–5, 171–201; and Jacoby, Freethinkers, 4–6, 155.)
Holifield, E. Brooks. Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.
Schlereth, Eric R. An Age of Infidels: The Politics of Religious Controversy in the Early United States. Early American Studies Series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.
Jacoby, Susan. Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism. New York: Henry Holt, 2004.