Letter from Eli Maginn, 22 March 1842

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

, Mass. March 22nd, 1842.
Pres’t Smith Sir.
I avail myself of this opportunity of transmitting the following subscribers for your valuable paper. * *
I shall endeavor to forward from 100 to 200 dollars by fall, for the [p. 778] , as it appears to be of the most vital importance that the Saints should assist in a work so desirable, which is looked forward to with anxious anticipation by all the faithful laborers in the kingdom. We shall do all that we can to forward the work. * * *
Dear Brother, I feel to rejoice in the prosperity of the work of the God of the Saints, which is truly prosperous in New England, the engine of eternal truth has been called into successful opposition against the crafts, and systems of “The like occupation,” and notwithstanding the contest has been exceeeding fierce, the enemy being active in the usual way with falsehood, and misrepresentation, the victory is the Lord’s; truth has triumphed, and is spreading its benign influence abroad like the rays of the king of day, as if unconscious of the elements of oppression and opposition which have been so unsuccesssfully employed from the first, up to the present time. I am on a visit to assist in his successful and extended field of labor, in this (). Sixty five have been obedient to the faith of the gospel, and hundreds of others “almost pursuaded.” In near 40 have obeyed, through the faithful labors of Elder . I have been absent from two weeks, have preached three or four times in , , Marblehead, Chelsea &c. And purpose returning to next Sunday, where I have been laboring with good success, thirty-six have obeyed since last fall, at New Salem, Mass. thirty-five to forty obeyed since August last, Leverett eighteen or twenty, Gilsum N. H. twenty to thirty. I have preached from one to three times almost every day, and cannot fill one to twenty of the calls for preaching; there is the greatest excitement in this country that I ever beheld during my travels, since I left ; a period of near three years in which I have travelled through eighteen States and British Provinces. The honest seeker after truth is rejoicing in its liberty; while “Our Craftsmen” are laboring and howling to see their sinking crafts crumbling to disolution and nonentity, without having power to repel the march of truth which is onward with the velocity of electricity, spreading terror and dismay throughout their majestic empire.
In haste .
P. S. Dear Brother, I long to see the time when I can return and again receive instructions from those whom God has chosen to council his saints with, “Thus saith the Lord,” and not the traditions of men; I feel very anxious to return by fall, as I have been absent three years. I have disposed of more than $150 worth of books (and expect near that amount this day from and ), the demand daily increases, some of the popular begin to take a decided stand in favor of the truth. [p. 779]


  1. 1

    JS assumed editorship of the Times and Seasons in February 1842 and began reviewing its content beginning with the 1 March issue. (Masthead, Times and Seasons, 15 Feb. 1842, 3:702; JS, “To Subscribers,” Times and Seasons, 1 Mar. 1842, 3:710; see also Historical Introduction to Editorial, ca. 1 Mar. 1842, Draft.)  

  2. 2

    The asterisks here and in the next paragraph, all of which appear in the Times and Seasons, presumably mark omissions from the original letter.  

  3. 3

    The cornerstones for the Nauvoo temple were laid in April 1841 and a baptismal font dedicated in November 1841. Construction of the walls of the edifice slowed during winter 1841–1842, however, and around the time Eli Maginn wrote, the walls were only about two feet tall on the north side and up to the water table on the south side. In December 1841 the Quorum of the Twelve urged church members to send money and goods to Nauvoo to support the construction of the temple and the Nauvoo House. (“Celebration of the Anniversary of the Church,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1841, 2:375–377; Clayton, History of the Nauvoo Temple, 13–14, 20–21; Brigham Young et al., “Baptism for the Dead,” Times and Seasons, 15 Dec. 1841, 3:625–627.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Clayton, William. History of the Nauvoo Temple, ca. 1845. CHL. MS 3365.

  4. 4

    This phrase may refer to a circa 1840 broadside, likely published by apostle Parley P. Pratt in Manchester, England, titled An Epistle of Demetrius, Junior, the Silversmith, to the Workmen of Like Occupation. Written from the perspective of a modern-day Demetrius—the Ephesian silversmith who opposed the teachings of Paul because they threatened his idol craft in the New Testament book of Acts (19:23–41)—the one-page tract refuted antagonistic sentiments of the period. A copy of the epistle was expressly “Printed for E. P. Maginn” around this period, and Maginn may have been partially influenced by this tract as he composed the letter to JS. (Epistle of Demetrius, Junior, the Silversmith, [1]; Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:140–141, 186–187.)  

    An Epistle of Demetrius, Junior, the Silversmith, to the Workmen of Like Occupation, and All Others Whom It May Concern. [Peterborough, NH], [ca. 1842].

    Crawley, Peter. A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. 3 vols. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997–2012.

  5. 5

    After proselytizing in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in late 1840 and early 1841, Snow was appointed to preach in Salem, Massachusetts, in mid-1841; he arrived there in September 1841. (Erastus Snow, Journal, 6 July 1841, 3; 3 Sept. 1841, 11; “At a Special Conference of the Church,” Times and Seasons, 1 Sept. 1841, 2:521.)  

    Snow, Erastus. Journals, 1835–1851; 1856–1857. CHL. MS 1329, box 1, fds. 1–3.

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  6. 6

    See Acts 26:28.  

  7. 7

    Nickerson, who arrived in Boston by 30 May 1841, presided over a congregation that was formally organized on 9 March 1842. (Historian’s Office, Obituary Notices of Distinguished Persons, 1854–1872, 46; “Latter Day Saints Again,” Times and Seasons, 16 May 1842, 3:797.)  

    Historian’s Office. Obituary Notices of Distinguished Persons, 1854–1872. CHL. MS 3449.

  8. 8

    Chelsea, Massachusetts, is situated just north of Boston on the opposite bank of the Mystic River; Salem and Marblehead are located on the Atlantic coast approximately fourteen miles northeast of Boston.  

  9. 9

    Leverett, Massachusetts, is located about seventy-five miles west of Boston, in Franklin County; Gilsum is situated approximately twenty miles northwest of Peterborough, New Hampshire.  

  10. 10

    The word electricity, as used by Maginn, did not refer to modern electric power transmission, which was first delivered in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Webster’s 1841 dictionary defined electricity as “the operations of a very subtil fluid, which appears to be diffused through most bodies, remarkable for the rapidity of its motion, and one of the most powerful agents in nature. The name is given to the operations of this fluid, and to the fluid itself.” (“Electricity,” in American Dictionary [1841], 571.)  

    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.

  11. 11

    Many of JS’s revelations begin with this phrase. (See, for example, Revelation, 6 Apr. 1830 [D&C 21:12]; and Revelation, 2 Dec. 1841.)  

  12. 12

    Maginn may have been referring in part to the third edition of the Book of Mormon, publications written by church members related to persecutions in Missouri, or missionary tracts or books written by Parley P. Pratt and others. Several of these publications were advertised for sale by Orson Pratt in Nauvoo as well as in the office of a newspaper published in Lowell, Massachusetts, called Vox Populi. (See, for example, Book of Mormon, 3rd ed. [Nauvoo, IL: Robinson and Smith, 1840]; John Taylor, A Short Account of the Murders, Roberies, Burnings, Thefts, and Other Outrages Committed by the Mob and Militia of the State of Missouri, upon the Latter Day Saints . . . [Springfield, IL, 1839]; and Parley P. Pratt, History of the Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons . . . [Detroit: Dawson and Bates, 1839]; see also “Books! Books!! Books!!!,” Times and Seasons, 1 Sept. 1841, 2:534; “Mormon Books,” Vox Populi [Lowell, MA], 28 May 1842, 3; and Whittaker, “Early Mormon Pamphleteering,” 35–49.)  

    Scott, Franklin William. Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814–1879. Springfield, IL: Illinois State Historical Library, 1910.Taylor, John. A Short Account of the Murders, Roberies, Burnings, Thefts, and Other Outrages Committed by the Mob and Militia of the State of Missouri, Upon the Latter Day Saints. Springfield, IL: By the author, 1839.

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Vox Populi. Lowell, MA. 1841–1891.

    Whittaker, David J. “Early Mormon Pamphleteering.” Journal of Mormon History 4 (1977): 35–49.