Letter from Francis M. Higbee, 10 January 1844

  • Source Note

Document Transcript

Jany 10. /44
Mr. J. Smith;
Sir
The inconsiderate, the unwarented, and unheard of attack you made upon my character on the 6th instant before the City Council, impels me to demand an investigation of you, and that without delay before the eclesiastical powers. For if I am guilty, of either of those charges, omitting the guilt of the whole, I most unquestionably am not worthy a name among a people making as great professions as do the people called mormons. It is said I seeke the hours of the midnight assassin to seize my victim, when no one is near to bear witness of the crime or attest the unhollowed deed; that I sympathize with the afflicted and oppressed, that I may devour their vitals; and that I seek the mantle of religion to envelop my Scorpian body, that I may the better practice my nefarius designs;— Then sir, if I am acting in this sphere, am I not acting in the sphere of a hypocrite, and am I not a darke body suffered a place on the <​fair​> escutcheon of our Religion? In deciding this question, or let us not sever the moorings of Christianity, and plunge into the mad sea of revenge? persuade the mariner to sell his compass? or Washington his sword; persuade an inteligent man to pluck out his eyes, to enjoy the unmitigated horrors of blindness? Truth is our compass on the stormy Sea of life; before which wealth, power, authority, talent and genious tremble, as did Felix on his thrown; when Heaven and Earth shall pass away, Truth shall arise like the angel on Manoah’s Sacrifice, upon the flame of Natures funeral pyre, and ascend to her source, her heaven and her home, the bosom of the Holy, and eternal God.
Sir any man so base, so lost to evry principle of honor and virtue, So unmindful of the obligations he is under <​owes​> to his fellow man; and So forgetful of those he is under to his God, as to wrap himself in the habiliments of religion and under the garb of Christianity perpetrate the crimes which you have allidged to me, deserves to die if ever man merited death.
I want you to thouroughly understand, I look upon that Species of crime, as the greatest, the most distructive to human happiness, and the most fatal to all earthly enjoyment. The history of the dark ages warrants me in the assertion, during the days when the “end was thought to Justify the means” when patents of absolution were granted; during the days of Leo X. and Tetzel, Christianity and virtue are emblimatical of that noble independence which always characterizes a man of God. That man who posesses those envied charms, can Shroud himself in a good conscience [p. [1]] and defy the foulest breath that man can breath[e]; he is looking forward without the least fear to the great change; and no chains are so strong, no fetters are bound as tight, as those which bind his soul to this tenement of clay.
Sir, you have Struck a blow at evry thing which renders existence Sweet; you have sought to blast evry proud hope, and evry fond expectation, by throwing into free circulation reports, the truth of which, God is some day to Judge. The cause of your course towards me, has astonished many, from the fact that they can not divine the cause, or reason; and as for myself, I am as ignorant of the cause, as a child unborn. As for the opinion which I always, and still entertain, with regard to the propriety of one mans having more than one woman, or this spiritual business, I am not ashamed to avow, in your presence or in the face and eyes of the world; I have repeatedly Said and am still of the Same opinion “fixed and determined as the pole star” that any revelation commanding or in any wise sufering sexual intercourse, under any other form, than that prescribed by the laws of our , and which has been ratified by special revelation through you, is of HELL; and I bid defiance to any or all such. As far as my character and influence extends, I am willing, not only willing but determined to oppose it, under evry form it can present it self. Whenever my name shall be sounded, my opposition to such a hellish fabrication, shall be known; at the peril of my life, my fortune and my sacred honor.
Though the people should riot and project insurrection; though tyrants should rage and threaten destruction; though the hurricane should lay open the bed of the Sea; though the earthquake should tear the globe in pieces; though the Stars should fall from their spheres, and the frame of nature should be disolved, I know virtue will protect her votaries, while the good man will remain tranquil amidst the ruins of the world.
That man who has pursued pursues a course diferent from that which I have persued, and am still determined to persue, may reach the regions of pleasure where the happy companions, Contentment, Friendship, Knowledge, Wealth, Dignity, and Fame Shall greet him; but alas! how soon must he according to the inevitable decree of Heaven, be consigned to Extravagance, Luxury, & Avarice, who will soon commit their unfortunate victim to Sorrow, [p. [2]] remorse and dispair. Then Sir With me it is virtue, or vice; I am a devoted friend to virtue; and Sir a court or council of the church must declare me otherwise immediately: or I shall think you unjust in the extreem; then Sir I claim the right of investigation, I claim the right to a fair and impartial, and public trial; and that without delay. From your mere ipse dixit I shall extricate myself, for bear it I will not; I am quite determined not to remain quiet, under the foul imputations cast upon me.
Bur Sir I hold myself in readiness for an investigation and ever shall.
I remain
P.S. Notify <​me of me of​> if you please the course you shall pursue with regard to an investigation before the church powers, if you please immediately.
—— [23 lines blank] [p. [3]]
Mr. Joseph Smith
Hancock Co,
Ill—
Jany 10— 1844
January 10. 1844
. To President Joseph Smith [p. [4]]

Footnotes

  1. new scribe logo

    Docket in handwriting of William Clayton.  

  2. new scribe logo

    Docket in handwriting of Thomas Bullock.