Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 December 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Dec 5th 1833
Dear Brethren
We have Just received a letter from dated 6th & 7th Nov at which gives us the painful intelegence of the rage of the enemy and your present unsettled situation, but I must inform you that there is a great anxiety resting upon our minds with regard to the true state of affairs in for there seems to be some difference in the statements of letter and that of communication to the Editors of Missouri Republican, states that on Monday the fourth the Mob collected in to the number of two or three hundred well armed and a part of their number went above Blue to drive away our people and distroy our property but they were met by a party of our people [p. 65] and being prepared <​they​> poured a dreadful deadly fire upon them, two of their number fell dead on the ground and a number mortally wounded among the former was [illegible] Tuesday morning there were a number of the Mob missing and could not be accounted for and while we was at on wensday a messenger rode up saying that he had Just came from the seat of war, and that the night before another battle was fought in which fell having three balls and some buck shot through his body and about twenty more shared a similar fate and also that one or two of our men were killed and as many wounded and he () heard the cannonading distinctly and also stated that the man who broke open the took , and one more for fals imprisonment and put them in prison and as near as he could Learn never to let them escape alive This statement of is some what different from that of who states that on friday night the brethren had mustered about 40 or 50 men armed and marched into the village took one prisoner and fired one gun and satturday fell upon our brethren above Blue, and one of [George] Manship sons mortally wounded. On monday about sun set a regular action was fought near s under the command of bro D we had four wounded, they had five killed wounded and two killed viz Linvil [Thomas Linville] and . From friday till tuesday our brethren were under arms 150 of our brethren came forth Like Moroni to battle, on tuesday morning the mob had 300 and before any [blood] [p. 66] was shed we agreed to go away immediately and the enemy took our guns, also states that since the above was wrote (viz on the 6th) another horid scene has transpired, after our people surrendered their arms a party of the Mobe went above Blue and began to whip and even murder and the brethren have been driven into the woods and fleeing to the ferry and also the Mob have hired the ferryman to carry them across the river and it was reported that the mob had Killed two more of the brethren
It appears brethren that the above statements were mostly from reports and no certainty of their being correct. therefore it is difficult for us to advise and can only say that the destenies of all people are in the hands of a Just God and he will do no injustice to any one and this one thing is sure that they who will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution and before their robes are mad[e] white in the blood of the Lamb it is to be expected they will pass through great tribulation according to John the Revelator, I wish when you receive this letter that you would collect every particular concerning the Mob from the begining and send us a correct statement of fact as they transpired from time to time that we may be enabled to give the public correct information on the subject and inform us also of the situation of the brethren with respect to their means of sustinance &c I would inform you that it is not the will of the Lord for you to sell your Lands in if means can possably be procured for their sustenance [p. 67] without, evry exertion should be to maintain the cause you have espoused and to contribute to the necessities of one another as much as possable in this your great calamity and remember not to murmur at the dealings of God with his creature you are not as yet brought into as trying circumstances as were the ancient Prophets & apostles Call to mind a Daniel the three Hebrew Children, Jeremiah Paul Stephen and many more too numerous to mention who were stoned sawn asunder tempted slain with the sword and wandered about in sheep skins & goat skins being destitute afflicted tormented of whom the world was not worthy. they wandered in deserts and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth yet they all obtained a good report through faith and amidst all their afflictions they rejoiced that they were <​counted​> worthy to receive persecution for Christs sake we know not what we shall be called to pass through before is delivered and established therefore we have great need to live near to God and always be in strict obedience to all his that we may have a concience void of offense towards God and man, It is your privelege to use every lawful means in your power to seek redress for your grievances of your enemies and prosecute them to the extent of the Law but it will be impossable for us to render you any assistance in a temporal point of view as our means are already exhausted and are deeply in debt and know no means whereby we shall be able to extricate ourselves; The inhabitants of this [p. 68] threaten our distruction and we know not how soon they may be permitted to follow the examples of the Missourians but our trust is in God and we are determined by his grace assisting us to maintain the cause and hold out faithful to the end that we may be crowned with crowns of and enter into that rest that is prepared for the children of God, we are now distributing the tipe and calculate to commence setting to day and issue a paper the Last of this week or beginning of next, we wrote to some time since and also sent by for the names of the subscribe[r]s for the star which we have not yet received and until we receive them the most of the brethren will be deprived of them and when you receive this if you have not sent them I wish you to attend to it immediately as much inconvenience will attend a delay, We expect shortly to publish a political paper weekly in favour the present administration, the influential men of that party have offered a liberal patronage to us and we hope to succeed for thereby we can shew the public the purity of our intention in supporting the government under which we live— We Learn by that the brethren have surrendered their arms to the enemy and are fleeing across the if that is the case it is not meet that they should recommence hostilities with them but if not you should maintain the ground as Long as there is a man Left. as the spot of ground upon which you were located is the place appointed of the Lord for your and it was right in the sight of God that you [p. 69] contend for it to the last, you will recollect that the Lord has said that should not be moved out of her place therefore the land should not be sold but held by the brethren until the Lord of in his wisdom opens a way for your return and until that time if you can purchase a tract of Land in for present imergenes it is right you should do so if you can do it and not sell your Land in it is not safe for us to send you a writen revelation on the subject but what is writen above is according to wisdom, I haste to a close to give room for and remain yours in the bonds of the
Joseph Smith J
[p. 70]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov. 1833.  

  2. 2

    Hyde wrote this letter on 9 November 1833. The letter was published in the Missouri Republican three days later. (“Civil War in Jackson County!,” Missouri Republican [St. Louis], 12 Nov. 1833, [3].)  

    Missouri Republican. St. Louis. 1822–1919.

  3. 3

    4 November 1833.  

  4. 4

    Hyde’s account focused entirely on the battle that ensued around the Big Blue settlement during the late evening of 4 November 1833. Other accounts also depict these events. (See [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:33–35; see also Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 17–19; and Corrill, Brief History, 20.)  

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

  5. 5

    5 November 1833.  

  6. 6

    In 1833, Liberty landing was located on the north side of the Missouri River, approximately five miles south of Liberty in Clay County and due north of Independence. It was also known for a time as the Upper Liberty landing. (Parkin, “History of the Latter-day Saints in Clay County,” 39.)  

    Parkin, Max H. “A History of the Latter-day Saints in Clay County, Missouri, from 1833 to 1837.” PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1976.

  7. 7

    6 November 1833.  

  8. 8

    No armed engagement took place in Jackson County on Tuesday, 5 November 1833. Church leaders decided to leave the county during the early morning hours of that day and surrendered their arms later in the afternoon. “I am happy to state,” Hyde later wrote, by way of correcting his earlier letter, “that I now believe that the report concerning the last engagement was without foundation.” Moreover, the cannonading he heard while on board the steamboat “was only an expression of the triumph and joy of the mob.” (“From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 124–126; [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:34–35; Orson Hyde, Letter to the Editor, The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 120, italics in original.)  

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

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

  9. 9

    Orson Hyde, Letter to the Editor, The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 120; see also Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov. 1833; Letter from John Corrill, 17 Nov. 1833; and “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.

  10. 10

    1 November 1833.  

  11. 11

    The details that JS summarized here were omitted from the published, and only extant, version of Phelps’s 6–7 November 1833 letter. (See Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov. 1833.)  

  12. 12

    2 November 1833.  

  13. 13

    A mob attacked a settlement of church members near the Blue River, located approximately eight miles southwest of Independence, on Saturday, 2 November. One of the attackers of the settlement, a young man named Manship, was shot during the skirmish and may have died as a result of the attack.  

  14. 14

    4 November 1833.  

  15. 15

    See Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov. 1833.  

  16. 16

    1–5 November 1833.  

  17. 17

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 340–407 [Alma chaps. 43–63].  

  18. 18

    5 November 1833.  

  19. 19

    See Historical Introduction to Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov. 1833; see also “From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 125.  

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

  20. 20

    See Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov. 1833.  

  21. 21

    At the time this letter was written, the information regarding these deaths and other events in Missouri had not been confirmed for JS. “We have heard various accounts of the number slain on both sides,” wrote Cowdery in the December 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star, “and these reports have frequently been exagerated.” (“The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 119.)  

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

  22. 22

    See 2 Timothy 3:12.  

  23. 23

    See Revelation 7:14.  

  24. 24

    The same month that JS wrote this letter, The Evening and the Morning Star began to publish a series of articles titled “The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri.” The first article in the series used letters from William W. Phelps and others to inform readers of the violent events in Missouri. Later articles provided updates and commentaries on the political situation in Missouri. (“The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833–June 1834, 118–123, 129, 137–139, 159–160, 167–168; Letter, 30 Oct. 1833; Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov. 1833; Letter from William W. Phelps, 14 Nov. 1833; Letter from John Corrill, 17 Nov. 1833.)  

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

  25. 25

    Though he was unaware of JS’s request here, in a letter sent from Missouri the same month, John Corrill provided the information that JS sought. Corrill wrote, “Great sacrifices have been made: some being destitute of money, have sold their cattle and other effects at a very low rate. Much property that was left behind has been destroyed, and other property that yet remains probably will be before it can be taken care of. Some families are as it were entirely destitute, and must unavoidably suffer unless God interposes in their behalf.” (“From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 126.)  

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

  26. 26

    JS first made this point in a letter dated 18 August 1833: “It is the will of the Lord that . . . not one foot of land perchased should be given to the enimies of God or sold to them.” JS dictated a revelation eleven days after this 5 December letter was written that gave the same directive: “It is my will that my people should claim and hold claim upon that which I have appointed unto them though they should not be permited to dwell thereon.” (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833; Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:99].)  

  27. 27

    See Daniel 6:4–23.  

  28. 28

    See Daniel chap. 3.  

  29. 29

    See Lamentations 3:1–21.  

  30. 30

    See 2 Corinthians 11:23–27.  

  31. 31

    See Acts 7:54–60.  

  32. 32

    See Hebrews 11:37–39.  

  33. 33

    See Acts 5:41.  

  34. 34

    See Acts 24:16.  

  35. 35

    See Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833; and Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:81–89]; see also Historical Introduction to Letter, 30 Oct. 1833.  

  36. 36

    In the months before JS wrote this letter, church leaders took on a large amount of debt in order to purchase land and acquire a new printing press and type to replace what had been damaged during the violence in Jackson County on 20 July 1833. (See Minutes, 23 Mar. 1833–A; Minutes, 11 Sept. 1833; F. G. Williams and Company, Account Book, 1; Frederick G. Williams, Kirtland, OH, to “Dear Brethren,” 10 Oct. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 56–60; and Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland Mills, OH, to Ambrose Palmer, New Portage, OH, 30 Oct. 1833, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 8–9.)  

    F. G. Williams & Co. Account Book, 1833–1835. CHL. In Patience Cowdery, Diary, 1849–1851. CHL. MS 3493.

    Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

  37. 37

    Four months earlier, in August, JS wrote, “We are no safer here in Kirtland then you are in Zion the cloud is gethering arou[nd] us with great fury and all pharohs host or in other words all hell and the com[bined] pow[e]rs of Earth are Marsheling their forces to overthrow us.” On 21 January 1834, Oliver Cowdery wrote, “Our enemies have threatened us, but thank the Lord we are yet on earth. They came out on the 8th about 12 oclock at night, a little west & fired cannon, we suppose to alarm us, but no one was frightened, but all prepared to defend ourselves if they made a sally upon our houses.” (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833; Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps and John Whitmer, Clay Co., MO, 21 Jan. 1834, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 22.)  

    Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

  38. 38

    See Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:24]; and Revelation, 7 Aug. 1831 [D&C 59:2].  

  39. 39

    On 11 September 1833, church leaders in Kirtland decided to buy a new press and type to continue printing The Evening and the Morning Star, and the following month Cowdery traveled to New York to make the purchases. On 6 December 1833, Cowdery and others began to typeset the first Kirtland issue of the Star. Nearly two weeks later, on 18 December 1833, “the Elders assembled togeth[er] in the printing office and then proceded to bow down before the Lord and dedicate the printing press and all that pertains therunto to God . . . and then proceded to take the first proof sheet of the star edited by Bro Oliv[er].” (Minutes, 11 Sept. 1833; Frederick G. Williams, Kirtland, OH, to “Dear Brethren,” 10 Oct. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, p. 58; JS, Journal, 4–6 and 18 Dec. 1833.)  

  40. 40

    Oliver Cowdery initially made this request in an August 1833 letter to church leaders in Independence the day after he arrived in Kirtland. In early October, Frederick G. Williams reminded William W. Phelps that “Oliver has writen to you for the names and residences of the subscribers for the Star and if you have not sent them we wish you to send them immediately that there may be no delay in the papers going to subscribers as soon as they can be printed.” Unbeknownst to JS, church leaders in Missouri mailed the list of the Star’s subscribers two days before he wrote the letter featured here. Oliver Cowdery later recorded in a January 1834 letter to Missouri, “We received the names of our former subscribers a few days since, which was mailed on the 3d of last month.” In the January 1834 issue of the Star, Cowdery noted, “We forwarded the last number to those whose names were on the Mail Book of W. W. Phelps & CO. at Missouri.” (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 10 Aug. 1833; Frederick G. Williams, Kirtland, OH, to “Dear Brethren,” 10 Oct. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, p. 58; Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to John Whitmer, 1 Jan. 1834, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 14; Notice, The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 128.)  

    Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

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

  41. 41

    The Church of Christ apparently intended to print a newspaper to curry favor with the Democratic Party. Whether the paper was to address local, state, or national politics is unknown. It is also not known which influential Democrats had offered church members patronage. In August 1833, JS told church leaders in Missouri that “we think it would be wise in yo[u] to try to git influence by offering to print a paper in favor of the goverment.” On 29 November 1833, Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter from Kirtland, saying, “We shall print the Democrat in this place, as circumstances render it impossible to print it elsewhere We shall draw a Prospectus soon.” Circumstances, however, prevented the church from publishing a political newspaper until 1835, when the Northern Times was first printed. (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833; Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to Horace Kingsbury, Painesville, OH, 29 Nov. 1833, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 10; Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:51–53.)  

    Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

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

  42. 42

    This information was not included in the extract of Phelps’s letter that Cowdery published in the Star. (See Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov. 1833.)  

  43. 43

    Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:37]; Revelation, 2 Aug. 1833–A [D&C 97:19]. Less than two weeks later JS dictated another revelation that reiterated this point: “Zion shall not be moved out of her place notwithstanding her children are scattered.” (Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:17].)  

  44. 44

    Edward Partridge had purchased about 2,100 acres of land in Jackson County for the church; a number of individual members of the Church of Christ had also purchased lots in Independence. Deed books show that between 1834 and 1837, at least fourteen church members purchased land in Clay County, totaling approximately 990 acres. Combined with Partridge’s land, church members owned nearly 3,100 acres in Missouri. (See Clay Co., MO, Deed Records, 1822–1890, vol. D, pp. 23–25, 75–78, 197–198, 225–226, 246–247, 256–257, microfilm 955,264; vol. E, pp. 21–22, 42–43, 46–47, 118, 242–243, 399, microfilm 955,265; vol. F, pp. 28–29, microfilm 955,265, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  45. 45

    Eleven days later, JS dictated a revelation that directly addressed the issue of church-owned lands in Jackson County: “Therefore it is my will that my people should claim and hold claim upon that which I have appointed unto them though they should not be permited to dwell thereon.” (Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:99].)  

  46. 46

    If Oliver Cowdery wrote a postscript to the original letter, it was not copied into the letterbook version featured here.