Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 4 December 1841

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, Dec, 4th 1841.
Dear Brother Smith,
I take this oppertunity to comunicate with you, and would say that myself and family are all Well. and We wish health and peace and favour to rest abundantly upon you and your family and all the household of faith. We Rejoice greatly in the continual good news Which We hear from the Land of , and in the Spirit of faith, union, confidence, enterprise and industry Which seems to prevail and increase in your midst. We Rejoice in the Building of the and feel great desire to push it forward. you will doubtless get the Letter I sent last and you will there see What my mind has been on that subject for some time and I find that it is in perfect accordance with the Spirit of the Lord in . viz. to push the ahead with all posible Speed. and I hope it will be enclosed by next fall. and myself will continue to forward according to our ability, and will endeavour to influence others so to do. But O! Br, Joseph Millions of Labourers are out of employ, and are starving in this , and among others hundreds of the most faithful saints. and hundreds more are laboring like slaves on about half what they can eat. This pains my heart, and I sometimes feel as if I could take them all on my shoulders and upon my arms and carry them to Zion; but allass, the means is Wanting. yet we are enabled to work the deliverance of many by humbling the rich and exalting the poor, But Dear Br, the saints in this are nearly all poor and there is no Capital among them as it were; therefore they cannot fulfil your epistle in Regard to men of Capital coming first to prepare the way[,] for the Rich will not hear nor obey the gospel. and the poor must flea or perish. and if they perish they had rather perish Where provisions cost about one sixth part what they cost here. Yea, most gladly would they sell them selves for slaves to their Brethern in for the sake of a being on the earth, but no one will buy them. (that is hire them, and advance them money to go with.)
Dear Br be so kind as to write me a few lines in answer to this letter, and give me a word of encouragement, and [p. [1]] advise, for I get no letters from either from you or any one else, except one of late from . do not fail to write this once as I have never Recd. a letter from you since I have been in this Land.
And now I would ask advise on several points.
first, I would wish to come home in the spring and stay till, the is done, if it is wisdom.
Secondly, have you any advise to give us to any ferther provision for the care and government of the in this in my Absence, and in the abscence of the Residue of the ?
thirdly, any Advise or instructions in Regard to gathering of the Saints from this ?
fourthly, any instructions as to the spread of the message to other Nations?
fifthly, When Will The “purchased possesion be Redeemed and the and city commence in , Mo.
sixthly. When Will the ungodly, lying, begin to loose their Power and cease to Rule; and We who have now spent half of our lives for them be privaledged to turn from the Gentiles and go in full power to the Remnants of joseph and Israel?
Now Dear Br, If you will answer this Letter the same night you get it and answer these six questions, and impart such other Advise or instruction as God may give you it will be a great Blessing to me.—
as to news, the Lord is Still working in power and signs in this . Many of the sick are healed, many have visions, some in Dreams, and some in Open day. the ministering of Angels is frequently enjoyed, and in short all the gifts of God are frequently manifested, as far as they have been generally attended to attained to, in this age. [p. [2]]
The is generally in union, and increasing in Confidence, and in Numbers; but it makes but slow progress because of the lying spirit Which every where prevails, and the and false doctrines Which are like a flood around us. Discussions, Contentions, Lectures, Sermons, play Cards, tracts, Books, Papers pamphlets. etc, etc, are flooding the in Great numbe[r]s, all containing Little else than Lies and foolishness of the grossest kind against the cause of truth. There is now a monthly periodical of a large size Bublished jointly against us, and the Socialests, and Chartists.
in short, it is wearysome to notice the multitude of Evle [evil] and Lying publications, much more to answer, or Reply to them: We therefore pass them in silence With few ecceptions, and the Lord answers them in his own time, and in his own way, [hole in paper] Bringing them to Naught and by doing his own work.
The wickedness and folly of the priests and their followers is incredible; it is beyond every thing, language cannot tell it. And I feel as though it must come to an end soon, very soon, and the servants of God be Delivered, and this yoak broken off from their necks; I am really impatient I cannot bear with them much longer, the spirit which is in me cries; come out in Judgement spedily O, God, and cause their Wickedness and falsehood to cease, and let the cause of truth triumph and thy Saints Rejoice. Why, should thy servants be wasted a way and their lives cease from the earth or their time gone, till Old age come upon them While the wicked still bear Rule, and the cause of truth is in Reproach. How long O, Lord— How Long!
Dear Br, Do enquire of the Lord how long we must must see the [p. [3]] triumph and hear, and bear their Reproach. When Shall the power of falsehood Cease to prevail, and the Lord come out of his hiding place, and make bear his Arm in the eyes of the nations, in behalf of his own cause, and his own people?
Do not be angry with your old friend for earnestly seeking this knowledge, or some information on the subject of these times, for I feel to humbly solisit at your hand a word on these subjects. In the mene time be assured that you have my love and best Wishes, and give the same to all enquiring friends.— I Remain your Brother in the cause of truth.
President, J, Smith.
All the American friends, in this are well as far as I know.
Mr, Joseph Smith,
, Hancock Co,
State of Illinois.
United States. [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    At the time, Parley P. Pratt’s household included his wife, Mary Ann Frost Pratt; his wife’s sister, Olive Frost; his stepdaughter, Mary Ann Stearns, age eight; his two sons, Parley Parker Pratt Jr. and Nathan Pratt, ages four and three, respectively; and his daughter, Olivia Pratt, age six months. (Pratt, Autobiography, 343; “Records of Early Church Families,” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, July 1936, 106, 109.)  

    Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.

    Bradford, Stella Paul. “David Pettegrew.” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 4 (1913): 175–180.

  2. 2

    The June 1841 issue of the Millennial Star, the Saints’ newspaper in England, published the minutes of a 6 April 1841 celebration during which the cornerstones of the Nauvoo temple were laid. During the celebration, Sidney Rigdon optimistically said that the Saints would be “soon completing the edifice,” which may have led Pratt to believe that the temple’s construction was further along than it was. (“Latest from America,” Millennial Star, June 1841, 2:26.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  3. 3

    Pratt wrote a letter to JS on 24 October 1841 encouraging the building of the temple. Addressing the temple building committee, he stated, “Let not your hands be slack, nor your hearts be fe[e]ble; but drive the temple ahead in the name of the Lord god of Israel; for thus the Spirit whispers in my heart, they shall not lack, nor be left in embarasment.” In another letter, Pratt relayed to church leaders that although the English Saints were “extremely anxious to do something for the temple,” their money was “swallowed up in emigration.” (Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 24 Oct. 1841; Parley P. Pratt, Manchester, England, to “the Authorities and Members of the Church,” Nauvoo, IL, 12 Aug. 1841, in Times and Seasons, 15 Dec. 1841, 3:625.)  

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

  4. 4

    Missionaries commonly commented on the ongoing economic depression in England. For example, Heber C. Kimball explained that in Liverpool he encountered “the rich attired in the most costly dresses, and the next moment was saluted with the cries of the poor without covering sufficient to screne them from the weather; such a distinction I never saw before.” (Thompson, Journal of Heber C. Kimball, 15; see also Letter from Brigham Young and Willard Richards, 5 Sept. 1840.)  

    Thompson, Robert B. Journal of Heber C. Kimball an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Nauvoo, IL: Robinson and Smith, 1840.

  5. 5

    On 16 April 1840 the Quorum of Twelve resolved “that we recommend no one to go to America that has money with out assisting the poor according to our council from time to time.” (Woodruff, Journal, 16 Apr. 1840.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  6. 6

    See Proclamation, 15 Jan. 1841.  

  7. 7

    On 15 December 1840 JS wrote a letter to the Quorum of Twelve in which he included details on the prices of goods in Nauvoo. JS noted that “provisions are much lower than when you left. Flour is worth about four dollars per barrel, corn 20 cents per bushel; Pottatoes about 20 cents. and other things in about the same proportion.” (Letter to Quorum of the Twelve, 15 Dec. 1840.)  

  8. 8

    This letter has not been located.  

  9. 9

    JS wrote a letter to the entire Quorum of Twelve Apostles on 15 December 1840. (Letter to Quorum of the Twelve, 15 Dec. 1840.)  

  10. 10

    An 8 July 1838 revelation commanded the apostles “to go over the great waters and there promulge my gospel.” By the time Pratt wrote this letter, the church had already arranged for missionaries to be sent to Scotland, Ireland, the East Indies, Australia, and Germany. (Revelation, 8 July 1838–A [D&C 118:4]; Letter from Heber C. Kimball, 9 July 1840; James Howard, Hamburg, Germany, to Mary Howard, Bolton, England, 13 Sept. 1840, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.)  

    Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878. CHL. CR 1234 1.

  11. 11

    See Ephesians 1:14.  

  12. 12

    A 20 July 1831 revelation designated Independence in Jackson County, Missouri, as the center place of Zion and identified the location for a future temple. The Saints were expelled from Jackson County before construction of the temple began. (Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:3]; “From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 124–126.)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  13. 13

    The terms “Remnants of joseph” and “Israel,” referring to American Indians, originated with the Book of Mormon. The book also prophesies of a time of the “fullness of the Gentiles,” after which there would be a restoration of the house of Israel. (See Book of Mormon, 1840 ed., 32, 37, 343, 473 [1 Nephi 13:34; 15:13; Alma 46:23–24; 3 Nephi 16:4].)  

  14. 14

    Pratt was referring to the Anti-Socialist Gazette, and Christian Advocate. (See Advertisement, Bristol Times and Bath Advocate, 30 Oct. 1841, [3].)  

    Bristol Times and Bath Advocate. Bristol, England. 1839–1882.

  15. 15

    The Saints did not attempt to respond to each of the church’s critics; however, as editor of the Millennial Star, Pratt had responded to representative publications. There is a noticeable absence of responses to critical publications after July 1841. (See, for example, “Reply to the Athenaeum,” Millennial Star, May 1841, 2:1–5; “Reply to the Preston Chronicle,” Millennial Star, July 1841, 2:42–43; and “Reply to Mr. J. B. Rollo’s ‘Mormonism Exposed,’” Millennial Star, July 1841, 2:43–48.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  16. 16

    See Isaiah 10:27.  

  17. 17

    See Proverbs 29:2.  

  18. 18

    See Revelation 6:10.  

  19. 19

    See Isaiah 52:10.  

  20. 20

    Pratt met JS in Manchester, New York, in 1830. (Pratt, Autobiography, 46.)  

    Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.

  21. 21

    TEXT: This line was written vertically in the left margin. Other missionaries in England included Hiram Clark, Samuel Mulliner, and Samuel Wright, who arrived on 3 December 1839; Lorenzo Snow, who arrived in October 1840; and George J. Adams, who arrived on 3 March 1841. (Hiram Clark, Manchester, England, 5 Mar. 1840, in Times and Seasons, May 1840, 1:110; Lorenzo Snow, London, England, to Charlotte Granger, 25 Feb. 1841, in Snow, Letterbook, [3]–[4]; Letter from Orson Hyde, 17 Apr. 1841; Fielding, Journal, Feb.–Oct. 1841, 9.)  

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

    Snow, Lorenzo. Letterbook, ca. 1839–1846. CHL.

    Fielding, Joseph. Journals, 1837–1859. CHL. MS 1567.