Letter from Lewis Cass, 9 December 1843

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Dec. 9th ’43
I received not long since your letter of the 5th ult, in which after referring to the difficulties, which the people called Mormonites have experienced, you ask me, “what would be my rule of action toward them as a people should fortune favor my ascension to the Chief Magistracy.[”]
The contingency to which you refer, is one which I have never sought, and never shall seek to attain, nor will the prospect of it whether near or remote, have the slightest influence upon my feelings or opinions. And without any affectation of humility, I may truly say that when I look to the able men whose names are now before the , in connexion with that high office, I cannot but think that the selection will fall upon one of them, rather than upon me.
Still ordinary civility requires that I should answer you, and I do so with the less hesitation as your question involves neither doubt nor difficulty. I think then that the Mormonites should be treated as [p. [1]] as all other persons are treated in this . That is they should be protected in their rights, and punished when they violate the laws. Our constitution recognizes no system of religion, either as a test for public office, or as a condition for private protection, and all whatever may be their faith or worship, are equal before the law.
In thus stating great general principles I have stated what would be my rule of action, as a magistrate or as a citizen, should any case arise requiring my decision. Farther than this, I can make no declaration. Of the facts to which you refer, I have but a vague knowledge, having been absent from the , during the period of their occurrence. I am bound however, in candor to add, that if your application for the redress to which you consider yourselves entitled has been, as you say rejected by the constituted authorities of the State of , and by Congress, I do not see what power, the President of the can have over the matter, or how he can interfere in it.
Very respectfully I am Sir Your obt. servt.
Gen. Joseph Smith
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< Mich. DEC 14>
Gen. Joseph Smith
< Dec 9. /43>
<Dec 9. 1843
Joseph Smith> [p. [4]]


  1. new scribe logo

    Signature of Lewis Cass.  

  2. new scribe logo

    Circular postmark stamped in blue ink.  

  3. new scribe logo

    Postage in unidentified handwriting.  

  4. new scribe logo

    Docket in handwriting of Willard Richards.  

  5. new scribe logo

    Docket in handwriting of Leo Hawkins.