Letter from Orson Hyde, 25 April 1844

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April 25th. 1844.
Hon. Sir,
I take the liberty to transmit, through you, to the council of our church, the result of my labours thus far:— I arrived in this place on the 23rd Inst. by way of , , and .
I found Elder here, having been called home to on account of his wife’s ill health. Elder has been indefatigueable in his exertions in prosecuting the business entrusted to his charge. His business has been before the Senate and referred to the committee on the judiciary, and the report of said committee is not yet rendered which is the cause of his delay in writing to you.
Yesterday we conversed with Messrs , , and , and last evening we spent several hours with the Hon. . They all appear deeply interested in the question, and received us with every demonstration of respect that we could desire. thought the bill would not pass from the fact, that there already exits between and a treaty for the joint occupancy of , and that any act of our government authorizing and armed force to be raised, and destined for that country, would be regarded by as an infraction of that treaty, and a cause of her commencing hostilities against us. But my reply was. These volunteers are not to be considered any part or portition of the Army of the , neither acting under the direction or Authority of the ; and said I, for men to go to there and settle in the character of emigrants [p. 1] cannot be regarded by our government as deviating in the least degree from her plighted faith unless she intends to tamely submit to British monopoly in that country. said he would present the memorial if we desired it. I thanked him for his kind offer, but observed that I was not yet prepared for the bill to be submitted; but wished to elicit all the facts relative to the condition of , and also advise with many other members relative to the matter, and we could better determine then how the bill should be introduced. We do not want it presented and referred to a special <​standing​> committee and stuck away with five or ten cords of petitions, and that be the last of it; but we want the memorial read, a move made to suspend the rules of the house, and the bill printed &c.
said, “I am for any how, You may set me down on your list, and I will go for you, if you will go for .” has been quite ill, but is just recovered. He will help all he can. likewise: But says that he does not believe any thing will be done about or the this session, for it might have a very important effect upon the Presidential Election, and politicians are slow to move when such doubtful and important matters are like to be effected by it. He says that there are already two bills before the house for establishing a territorial government in and to protect the emigrants there; and now he says, were your bill to be introduced it might be looked upon that you claimed the [p. 2] sole right of emigrating <​to​> and settling that new country to the exculsion of others. He was in favour of the being settled, and he thought the bills already before the house would extend equal protection to us— and equal protection to every class of citizens was what the government could rightly do, but particular privileges to any one class they could not rightly do. I observed, that the bill asked for no exclusive rights. It asks not for exclusive rights in , Neither do we wish it. Other people might make a move to and no prejudices bar their way, & their motives would not be mis-interpreted: But said I knows her guilty and should we attempt to march to , Missourians are [illegible] without the government throwing a protective shield over us, ’s guilt <​crimes ​> would lead her first to misinterept our intentions, to fan the flame of popular excitement against us, and scatter the firebrands of a mis-guided zeal among the combustible materials of other places, creating a flame too hot for us to encounter, too desolating for us to indulge the hope of successfully controverting prosecuting the grand and benevolent enterprize which we have conceived. We have been compelled to relinquish our rights in . We have been forcibly driven from our homes, leaving our property and inheritances a spoil to the oppressor; and more or less in we have been subject to the whims and chimeras of illiberal men, and to threats, to vexations prosecutions and law suits. Our government profess to have no power to help us, or to [p. 3] redress the wrongs which we have suffered, and we now ask the government to protect us while raising our volunteers, and when we get into we will protect ourselvs, and all others who wish our protection: And after subduing a new country, encountering all its difficu[l]ties and hardships, and sustaining the just claims of our nation to its soil, we believe that the generosity of our government towards us, will be equal to our enterprize and patriotism; and that they will allow us a grant or territory of land which will be both honorable in them and satisfactory to us. This, he says, is all very just and reasonable. But still he thinks that congress will take no step in relation to , from the fact that his resolution requesting the of the to give notice to the British government for the abolition of the treaty of joint occupation, was voted down; and while that treaty is in force, the <​our government​> dare do nothing in relation to that country. This resolution was introduced by to pave the way for the passage of those bills in relation to a territorial government in .
All our members join in the acknowledgment that you now have an undoubted right to go to with all the emigrants you can raise. They say the existing laws protect you as much as law can protect you; and should congress pass an additional law it would not prevent wicked men from shooting you down as they did in . All the men in congress would be glad you <​we​> would go to that country and settle it. [p. 4]
I will now give you my opinion in relation to this matter. It is made up from the spirit of the times in a hasty manner; nevertheless I think time will prove it to be correct:
That Congress will pass no act in relation to or at present. She is afraid of , afraid of and afraid the presidential Election will be twisted by it. The members all appear like unskilful players at checkers chequers afraid to move, for they see not which way to move advantageously. All are figuring and playing round the grand and important questions. In the days of our Lord, the people neglected the weightier matters of the law, but tithed mint, rue, annis, and cummin, but I think here in they <​do​> little else than tithe the mint.
A member of Congress is in no enviable situation. If he will boldly advocate true principles, he loses his influence and becomes unpopular; and who<​ever​> is committed and <​has​> lost his his influence, has no power to benefit his constituents: so they all go to figuring and playing round the great points. said that Mr. Smith could not constitutionally be constituted a member of the Army by law; and this, if nothing else would prevent its passage. I observed that I would, in that case, strike out that clause. Prehaps I took an unwarrantable responsibility upon myself; but where I get into a strait place, I can do not better than act according to what appears most correct.
I do not intend the opinon that I have hastily [p. 5] given shall abate my zeal to drive the matter through, but I have given the opinion for your benefit, that your indulgence of the hope that Congress will do something for us may not cause you to delay any important action.
There is already a government established in to some extent, magistrates have been chosen by the people &c. This on the south of the Columbia North of that river, the Hudson bay company occupy. There is some good county in , but a great deal of sandy barren desert. I have seen a gentleman who has been there, and also in .
The most of the settlers in and are our old enemies, the mobocrats of .
If, however, the settlement of or be determined upon, the sooner the move is made the better, and I would not advise any delay for the action of our government; for there is such a jealousy of our rising power already, that government will do nothing to favour us. If the saints possess the Kingdom, I think they will have to take it, and the sooner it is done, the more easily it will is accomplished.
Your superior wisdom must determine whether to go to , to , or to remain within these , and send forth the most efficient <​men to​> build up Churches, and let them remain for the time being, and [p. 6] in the mean time, send some wise men men among the Indians, and teach them civilization and religion— to cultivate the soil— to live in peace with one another and with all men. But whatever you do, don’t be deluded with the hope that Government will foster us; and thus delay an action, which the present, prehaps is the most propper time that ever will be.
is becoming a popular question The fever of emigration begins to rage. If the Mormo[n]s become the early majority, others will not come; if the mormons do not become an early an early majority, the others will not allow us to come.
is faithful, useful, and true. He has got the run of matters here very well, and is with me in, all my deliberations visitings &c. goes with us this evening to Introduce us to the , and to view the White House.
My heart and hand are with you. May Heaven Bless you and me as ever I am
.
To the Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [p. 7]
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April 25th. 1844
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to Jos. Smith
April 25, 1844

Footnotes

  1. new scribe logo

    Docket in handwriting of Jonathan Grimshaw.  

  2. new scribe logo

    Dockets in unidentified handwriting.