Letter to Emma Smith, 13 October 1832

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Oct 12 <​13​> 1832
My Dear
This day I have been walking through the most splended part of the city of the buildings are truly great and wonderful to the astonishing <​of​> to eve[r]y beholder and the language of my heart is like this can the great God of all the Earth maker of all things magnificent and splended be displeased with man for all these great inventions saught out by them my answer is no it cannot be seeing these works are are calculated to mak[e] men comfortable wise and happy therefore not for the works can the Lord be displeased only aganst man is the anger of the Lord kindled because they Give him not the Glory therefore their iniquities shall <​be​> visited upon their heads and their works shall be burned up with unquenchable fire the inequity [iniquity] of the people is printed in every countinance and nothing but the dress of the people makes them look fair and butiful all is deformity their is something in every countinance that is disagreable with few exceptions Oh how long Oh Lord Shall this order of things exist and darkness cover the Earth and gross darkness cover the people after beholding all that I had any desire to behold I returned to my room to meditate and calm my mind and behold the thaughts of home of and rushes upon my mind like a flood and I could wish for [p. [1]] [a?] moment to be with them my breast is filled with all the feelings and tenderness of a parent and a Husband and could I be with you I would tell you many things yet when I reflect upon this great city like Ninavah not desearning their right hand from their left yea more then two hundred <​thousand​> souls my bowels is filled with compasion towards them and I am determined to lift up my voice in this and leave the Event with God who holdeth all things in his hands and will not suffer an hair of our heads unnoticed to fall to the ground there is but few cases of the chol[e]ra in this now and if you should see the people you would not that know that the<​y​> people had ever heard of <​the​> <​chol[e]ra​> I hope you will excuse me for writting this letter so soon after w[r]iting for I feel as if I wanted to <​say​> you say something to you to comfort you in your beculier [peculiar] triel and presant affliction I hope God will give you strength that you may not faint I pray God to soften the hearts of those arou[n]d you to be kind to you and take <​the​> burdon of[f] your shoulders as much as posable and not afflict you I feel for you for I know your state and that others do not but you must cumfort yourself knowing that God is your friend in heaven and that you have one true and living friend on Earth your Husband
Joseph Smith Jr [p. [2]]
PS while <​is​> Selecting goods I have nothing to <​do​> but to Sit in my room and pray for him that he may have strength to indure his labours for truly it is <​a​> tedious job to stand on the feet all day to select goods its wants good judgement and a long acquaintence with goods to git good ones and a man must be his own judge for no one will judge for him and it is much pepleccity [perplexity] of mind I prefer reading and praying and holding communeion with the holy spirit and writing to <​you​> then walking the streets and beholding the distraction of man I have <​had​> some conversation with few which gave satisfaction and one very butiful young gentleman from whose countinance was very sollam he came and set by my side and began to converce with me about the chol[e]ra and I learned he had been seased with it and came very near dieng [dying] with it he said the Lord had spared him for some wise pu[r]pose I took advantage of this and opened a long discours with him he received my teaching with appearanly [apparently] with much pleasure and became very strongly attacth [attached] to me we talkd till late at night and concluded to omit <​conversation​> till the next day but having some business to do he was detained untill the boat was ready to go out and must leave he came to me and bid me Farewell <​and we parted​> with much reluctance is received with great kindness by all his old acquaintance he is faithful in prayr and fervant in spirit and he we take great comfort together there is about one hundred boarders and sometimes more in this house every <​day​> from one to two from all parts of the world I think you would have laughed right harty if you could [have?] been whe[r]e you could see the waiters to day noon waited on the table both Black and white and molato runing bowing and maneuvering but I must conclude I remain Your affectionate Husband until Death
Joseph Smith Junior [p. [3]]
Geauga Co
[date stamp]


  1. 1

    According to an October 1832 newspaper article, the Pearl Street House had existed for twenty-five years and was “extensively known as the resort of merchants from every part of the Union especially from the western part of the state of New York and from Ohio.” The hotel faced two parallel streets (Pearl and Water), stretching the entire distance between them. It included “four story buildings” as well as “a small court yard and a two story edifice, on the roof of which is a flower garden.” In the summer of 1832, the boarding house—which was “the largest commercial boarding house in the United States”— underwent extensive renovations, including the “erection of spacious additional buildings, containing several elegant dining rooms on the second floor, and ranges of sleeping rooms above.” It could accommodate up to three hundred boarders and was “kept by Messrs. Brown, of Clinton Co., and Mahon, late commander of the steamboat New Philadelphia, from whom every thing may be expected in the way of civility and attention.” (“Events of the Day &c.,” Evening Post [New York City], 26 Oct. 1832, [2].)  

    Evening Post. New York City. 1801–.

  2. 2

    Lower Manhattan, where JS and Newel K. Whitney were staying, was the most developed part of New York City in 1832. (Buttenwieser, Manhattan Water-Bound, 41–42.)  

    Buttenwieser, Ann L. Manhattan Water-Bound: Manhattan’s Waterfront from the Seventeenth Century to the Present. 2nd ed. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1999.

  3. 3

    See Isaiah 60:2; see also Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:49].  

  4. 4

    See Jonah 4:11.  

  5. 5

    Presbyterian minister Matthew Henry’s widely read biblical commentaries, produced 1708–1710, use the phrase “leave the Event with God” several times. (Henry, Exposition of the Historical Books of the Old Testament, 283.)  

    Henry, Matthew. An Exposition of the Old and New Testament . . . with Practical Remarks and Observations. Edited by George Burder and Joseph Hughes. Vol. 5. Philadelphia: Ed. Barrington and Geo. D. Haswell, [1828].Henry, Matthew. An Exposition of the Old and New Testament. Vol. 1 of An Exposition of All the Books of the Old and New Testament. London: J. Clark, 1725.

  6. 6

    The 22–23 September 1832 revelation promised those who were faithful in proclaiming the gospel that “an hair of your heads shall not fall to the ground unnoti[c]ed.” (Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:80]; see also Matthew 10:30.)  

  7. 7

    On 31 July 1832, JS wrote to William W. Phelps that “the cholera is cutting down its hundreds in the city of New York pr day.” Phelps reported in the August 1832 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star that “the whole number of cases in New-York, to July 31, is—3731. Deaths—1520.” A later history estimated that over two thousand people had died from cholera in New York City by the end of July. (Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832; “The Cholera,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Aug. 1832, [1]; Chambers, Conquest of Cholera, 64.)  

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

    Chambers, J. S. The Conquest of Cholera: America’s Greatest Scourge. New York: Macmillan, 1938.

  8. 8

    While JS traveled, Emma Smith stayed in Newel K. Whitney’s white store, where she and JS had moved the month before JS penned this letter. Earlier in 1832, when JS was in Missouri, Emma attempted to lodge with the Whitneys, but Sarah Smith, the aunt of Newel K. Whitney’s wife, Elizabeth, refused to let Emma stay with the family, citing a lack of space. As a later JS history explained, Sarah said Emma “should go away, for there was not room enough for both of them.” By fall 1832, Whitney had remodeled his white store and established a living space for JS and his family that would not infringe on anyone else’s space. (Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 251, 377; JS History, vol. A-1, 209.)  

    Staker, Mark L. Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009.

  9. 9

    TEXT: Possibly “begun”.  

  10. 10

    Cholera apparently spread from New York City into New Jersey, reaching Newark on 7 July. New Brunswick reported its first case on 14 July, and Jersey City experienced its first case on 26 July. (Pyle, “Diffusion of Cholera,” 62.)  

    Pyle, G. F. “The Diffusion of Cholera in the United States in the Nineteenth Century.” Geographical Analysis 1 (Jan. 1969): 59–75.“Clan C. Additional Facts about Persons Recorded in the Grant Family History.” Grant Family Magazine 1, (June 1900): 621–635.

  11. new scribe logo

    Postage rate in red ink in unidentified handwriting.  

  12. 11

    TEXT: Postal place and date stamp in red ink. “NEW-YORK | OCT | 13” printed within circular date stamp.