Times and Seasons (, Hancock Co., IL), 15 July 1842, vol. 3, no. 18, pp. 847–862; edited by JS. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
The 15 July 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons was the tenth published under JS’s editorship. This issue featured correspondence from missionaries and various articles about the and the wider world. The contents covered a wide range of topics and included a letter from in Europe to his fellow members of the , an installment of the serialized “History of Joseph Smith,” an article about a destructive fire in , minutes from a held by missionaries in Utica, New York, and an article reprinted from the Boston Investigator reporting on a debate between Dr. George Montgomery West and in .
In addition to this, content created by the editorial staff for the issue included two articles, as well as a notice from the and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The first editorial article advocated theocracy as the ideal form of government, while the second—written after a lengthy excerpt from Josiah Priest’s book American Antiquities—used excerpts from the Book of Mormon to expand on Priest’s argument about an ancient people who had lived on the American continent. Although these editorials were each signed “Ed.,” for “Editor,” JS does not appear to have authored them, and his involvement in writing them is unclear. As the acknowledged editor of the paper, however, he would have taken responsibility for the editorial statements and presumably approved the content; such content is therefore featured here.
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.
strength is weakness, his wisdom is folly, his glory is his shame.
Monarchical, aristocratic, and republican forms of government, of their various kinds and grades, have in their turn been raised to dignity and prostrated in the dust. The plans of the greatest politicians, the wisest senators, and most profound statesmen have been exploded; and the proceedings of the greatest chieftains, the bravest generals, and the wisest kings have fallen to the ground. Nation has succeeded nation, and we have inherited nothing but their folly. History records their puerile plans, their short lived glory, their feeble intellect, and their ignoble deeds.
Have we increased in knowledge or intelligence? where is there a man that can step forth and alter the destiny of nations, and promote the happiness of the world? Or where is there a kingdom or nation, that can promote the universal happiness of its own subjects, or even their general well being? Our nation, which possesses greater resources than any other, is rent from center to circumference, with party strife, political intrigue, and sectional interest; our counsellors are panic struck, our legislators are astonished, and our senators are confounded; our merchants are paralized, our tradesmen are disheartened, our mechanics out of employ, our farmers distressed, and our poor crying for bread. Our banks are broken, our credit ruined, and our states overwhelmed in debt;—yet we are, and have been in peace.— What is the matter? Are we alone in this thing? Verily, no. With all our evils we are better situated than any other nation. Let Egypt, Turkey, Spain, , Italy, Portugal, , , China, or any other nation speak, and tell the tale of their trouble—their perplexity, and distress, and we should find that their cup was full, and that they were preparing to drink the dregs of sorrow. , that boasts of her literature, her science, commerce, &c., has her hands reeking with the blood of the innocent, abroad; and she is saluted with the cries of the oppressed, at home.—Chartism, O’Connelism, and Radicalism are gnawing her vitals at home; and Ireland, Scotland, , and the East, are threatening her destruction abroad. is rent to the core—intrigue, treachery, and treason lurk in the dark; and murder, and assassination stalk forth at noonday. Turkey, once the glory of European nations, has been shorn of her strength—has dwindled into her dotage, and has been obliged to ask her allies to propose to her tributary terms of peace: and Russia, and Egypt are each of [t]hem opening their jaws to devour her. Spain has been the theatre of bloodshed, of misery and woe, for years past. Syria is now convulsed with war and bloodshed. The great and powerful empire of China, which has for centuries resisted the attacks of barbarians, has become tributary to a foreign foe; her batteries thrown down; many of her cities destroyed, and her villages deserted. We might mention the Eastern rajahs; the miseries and oppressions of the Irish; the convulsed state of Central America; the situation of and ; the state of Greece, Switzerland, and Poland—nay, the wor[l]d itself presents one great theatre of misery, woe, and “distress of nations with perplexity.” All, all speak with a voice of thunder, that man is not able to govern himself—to legislate for himself—to protect himself—to promote his own good, nor the good of the world.
It has been the design of Jehovah, from the commencement of the world, and is his purpose now, to regulate the affairs of the world in his own time; to stand as head of the universe, and take the reigns of government into his own hand. When that is done judgment will be administered in righteousness; anarchy and confusion will be destroyed, and “nations will learn war no more.” It is for want of this great governing principle that all this confusion has existed; “for it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps;” this we have fully shewn.
If there was any thing great or good in the world it came from God. The construction of the first vessel was given to Noah, by revelation. The design of the ark was given by God “a pattern of heavenly things.” The learning of the Egyptians, and their knowledge of astronomy was no doubt taught them by Abraham and Joseph, as their records testify, who received it from the Lord. The art of working in brass, silver, gold, and precious stones, was taught by revelation, in the wilderness. The architectural designs of the Temple at Jerusalem, together with its ornament and beauty was given of God. Wisdom to govern the house of Israel was given to Solomon, and to the judges of Israel; and if he had always been their king, and they subject to his mandate, and obedient to his laws, they would still have been a great and mighty people; the rulers of the universe—and the wonder of the world. If Nebuchadnezzar, or Darius, or Cyrus, or any other king possessed knowledge or power it was from the same source, as the scriptures abundantly [t]estify. If then, God puts up one, and sets down another, at his pleasure—and made instruments of kings, unknown to themselves, to fulfill his prophesies, how much more was he able, if man would have been subject to his mandate, to regu [p. 856]
At this time, the British Empire controlled significant portions of Asia and Africa. British imperialism resulted in oppression, enslavement, and violence for many under the empire’s rule. (See Oxford History of the British Empire, 3:1–25; and Smith, British Imperialism, 50–55, 85–87.)
The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. 3, The Nineteenth Century. Edited by Andrew Porter. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Smith, Simon C. British Imperialism, 1750–1970. Cambridge Perspectives in History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Chartism, O’Connellism, and Radicalism were political movements in England in the 1840s that focused on helping the working classes. O’Connellism, named for Irish nationalist Daniel O’Connell, called for Catholic emancipation and other reforms. In contrast, Radicalism and Chartism emphasized electoral reform, especially universal suffrage. (See Chase, Chartism, chaps. 6–7; Murphy, American Slavery, Irish Freedom, 1–23; and Evans, Parliamentary Reform, chap. 5.)
Chase, Malcom. Chartism: A New History. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 2007.
Murphy, Angela F. American Slavery, Irish Freedom: Abolition, Immigrant Citizenship, and the Transatlantic Movement for Irish Repeal. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010.
Evans, Eric J. Parliamentary Reform, c. 1770–1918. Seminar Studies in History. New York: Routledge, 2000.
Although the author portrayed Britain as being under threat, the threats to the stability of the British Empire at this time were minor. Several contemporaneous articles in local Illinois papers related developments in Europe and emphasized the unrest in Canada, Ireland, and Afghanistan, as well as Britain’s war with China. (See “Canada,” Wasp, 4 June 1842, ; “More Riots in Canada,” Wasp, 13 Aug. 1842, ; “Important Intelligence from Europe,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 6 May 1842, ; “Riots in Ireland,” Wasp, between 30 July and 4 Aug. 1842, ; and “The War of England upon China,” Quincy [IL] Whig, 2 Apr. 1842, .)
By this time, King Louise Philippe of France had survived several assassination attempts—many from Bonapartist sympathizers—including a broadly publicized attempt in 1835 that left twenty-two others dead. Although the king was regarded as a reformer and an unpretentious ruler, an economic crisis in 1847 led to the revolution of 1848 and his abdication. (See Jardin and Tudesq, Restoration and Reaction, xii–xvi, 191–204; and Margadant, “Gender, Vice, and the Political Imaginary in Postrevolutionary France,” 1461–1496.)
Jardin, Andre, and Andre-Jean Tudesq. Restoration and Reaction, 1815–1848. Translated by Elborg Forster. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Margadant, Jo Burr. “Gender, Vice, and the Political Imaginary in Postrevolutionary France: Reinterpreting the Failure of the July Monarchy, 1830–1848.” American Historical Review 104, no. 5 (Dec. 1999): 1461–1496.
The Ottoman Empire was founded by Osman I in the late thirteenth century and conquered the Byzantine Empire in 1453. The empire was at its height under sultan Suleiman I, known as Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled in the sixteenth century. His reign was remarkable not only for significant territorial gains in the Balkans, Europe, and North Africa, but also for important legislative reforms and artistic and literary developments. Much of this success and stability continued into the seventeenth century. In the mid-eighteenth century, however, the Ottoman Empire suffered military defeats as the Hapsburg and Russian empires grew stronger, and Egyptian armies seized Syria from Ottoman control. (See Inalcik and Quataert, Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, xviii–xxiii; Kafadar, Between Two Worlds, 118–150; and Aksan, Ottoman Wars, xvi–xvii, 83–179.)
Inalcik, Halil, and Donald Quataert, eds. An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, 1300–1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Kafadar, Cemal. Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
Aksan, Virginia H. Ottoman Wars, 1700–1870: An Empire Besieged. New York: Routledge, 2013.
Spain experienced a divisive war over monarchical succession, called the First Carlist War, from 1833 to 1840. The war was particularly devastating for the Basque population and their regional economy. In 1840, following the war, General Baldomero Espartero was made regent. His authoritarian military rule, which included the military occupation of the Basque country, led to uprisings and rebellions. Espartero was deposed in 1843. (See Lawrence, Spain’s First Carlist War, 13–20; Coverdale, Basque Phase of Spain’s First Carlist War, 3–10; and Carr, Spain, 210–227.)
Lawrence, Mark. Spain’s First Carlist War, 1833–1840. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
Coverdale, John F. The Basque Phase of Spain’s First Carlist War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.
Carr, Raymond. Spain, 1808–1939. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966.
In 1839–1840, warfare between Egypt and the Ottoman Empire engulfed Syria, as the Ottoman Empire tried to reoccupy territory in Syria that had been lost to Egyptian control in the early 1830s. Although Western European allies aided the weakened Ottoman Empire, this war further destabilized the region, leading to years of conflict in Syria and Lebanon between Maronite Christians and the Druze, an ethnoreligious minority in the Levant. (See Aksan, Ottoman Wars, 388–407; and Dana, Druze in the Middle East, 6–8.)
Aksan, Virginia H. Ottoman Wars, 1700–1870: An Empire Besieged. New York: Routledge, 2013.
Dana, Nissim. The Druze in the Middle East: Their Faith, Leadership, Identity, and Status. Brighton, England: Sussex Academic Press, 2003.
This refers to China’s resistance and its losses in 1842 during the Anglo-Chinese War, or First Opium War, which lasted from 1839 to 1842. As the Qing Dynasty of China sought to suppress the sale of opium by primarily British merchants, long-standing tensions stemming from trade imbalances between the two countries rose to the point of hostilities. By 1842, British naval forces had captured several key cities. Ultimately, the Chinese emperor agreed to a peace treaty with the British that granted the British commercial privileges, including new treaty ports, and the island of Hong Kong. (See Mao, Qing Empire, 10–17, 392–432; and Lin, China Upside Down, 74–96.)
Mao Haijian. The Qing Empire and the Opium War: The Collapse of the Heavenly Dynasty. Translated by Joseph Lawson, Peter Lavelle, and Craig Smith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Lin, Man-houng. China Upside Down: Currency, Society, and Ideologies, 1808–1856. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006.
These examples related to conflicts over governance, in many cases involving violence as a region or country attempted to gain independence from another country. The most visible of these conflicts for church members was the one between Texas and Mexico. Several articles in the Wasp informed Nauvoo residents of developments in Texas. (See “Late from Texas,” Wasp, 16 Apr. 1842, ; Editorial, Wasp, 14 May 1842, ; and “Latest from Texas,” Wasp, 25 June 1842, .)