Letter to Emma Smith, 4 November 1838

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

November 4th 1838
Jackson Co— Mo—
My dear and beloved , of my bosam, in tribulation, and affliction, I woud inform you that I am well, and I am that we are all of us in good spirits as regards our own fate, we have been protected by the boys, in the most genteel manner, and arrived here in <​the​> midst of a splended perade, this a little after noon, instead <​of​> going to goal [jail] we have a good house provided for us and the kind[e]st treatment, I have great anxiety about you, and my lovely children, my heart morns <​and​> bleeds for the brotheren, and sisters, and for the slain <​of the​> people of God, I , proved to be a trator, to the , he is worse than a hull who betraid the army at , he decoyed <​us​> unawares God reward him, I told <​​> was a going told , that he was a going to leave the Church, says he thinks much less of him now then before, why I mention this is to have you careful not to trust them, if we are permited to be stay any time here, we <​have​> obtained a promice that they we may have our families brought to us, what God may do do for us I do not know but I hope for the best always in all circumstances although I go unto death, I will trust in God, what outrages may be committed by the mob I know not, but expect there will be but little <​or​> no restraint Oh may God have mercy on us, [p. [1]] when we arrived at the river last night an express came to from of Howard County claiming the right of command ordering us back where <​or what place​> God only knows, and there is some feelings betwen the offercers, I do not know where it will end, it <​is​> said by some that , is determined to exterminating exterminate God has spared some of us thus far perhaps he will extend mercy in some degree toward us <​yet​> some of the people of this place have told me that some of the mormans may settle in this as others <​men​> do the peg I have some hopes that something may turn out for good to the afflicted saints, I want you to stay where you are untill you here from me again, I may send for you to bring you to me, I cannot learn much for certainty in the situation that I am in, and can only pray for deliverance, untill it is meeted out, and take every thing as it comes, with patient patience and fortitude, I hope you will be faithful and true to every trust, I cant write much in my situation, conduct all matters as your circumstances and necesities require, may God give you wisdom and prudance and sobriety which <​I​> have every reason to believe you will, those little <​childrens​> are subjects of my meditation continually, tell them that Father is yet alive, God grant that he may see them again Oh for God sake [p. [2]] do not forsake me nor the truth but remember, if I do <​not​> meet you again in this life may God grant that we may <​may we​> meet in heaven, I cannot express my feelings, my heart is full, Farewell Oh my kind and affectionate I am yours forever your Husband and true friend
[Joseph Smith Jr.]
To Mrs
, Mo
Coldwell Co. Mo— [p. [3]]
[page [4] blank] [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    Parley P. Pratt confirmed that the “oficers and troops, of Jackson County; have Behaved with that Respect, honor and kindness towards us.” (P. Pratt to M. Pratt, 4 Nov. 1838.)  

    Pratt, Parley P. Letters, 1838–1839. CHL. MS 5828.

  2. 2

    Parley P. Pratt recalled, “It was now past noon, and in the midst of a great rain. But hundreds crowded to witness the procession, and to gaze at us as we were paraded in martial triumph through all the principal streets—our carriages moving in the centre, while the brigade on horseback were formed in front and rear, and the bugles sounded a blast of triumphant joy.” (Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 46.)  

  3. 3

    Jackson County’s first jail was built in 1827; it housed Latter-day Saint prisoners during the 1833 conflict. (History of Jackson County, Missouri, 639–640; Parley P. Pratt et al., “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Extra, Feb. 1834, [2].)  

    The History of Jackson County, Missouri: Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns, Etc. Kansas City, MO: Union Historical, 1881.

  4. 4

    For more on Hinkle’s role in the negotiations that led to JS’s arrest, see Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.  

  5. 5

    William Hull (1753–1825) was a Revolutionary War veteran, territorial governor of Michigan, and brigadier general of the army in the northwest United States during the War of 1812. On 16 August 1812, while quartered at Fort Detroit, Hull surrendered to a much smaller British force. In the wake of the capitulation, other perceived traitors in the war were condemned as being “worse than Hull.” (Taylor, Civil War of 1812, 154–173, 196.)  

    Taylor, Alan. The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies. New York: Vintage Books, 2011.

  6. 6

    Previously a trusted church leader in Missouri, Corrill became disaffected in summer 1838. In his history, Corrill suggested that it was his disillusionment with the Danites, the Saints’ October 1838 military operations in Daviess County, and JS’s leadership that led him to leave the church in winter 1838. (See, for example, Corrill, Brief History, 29–32, 36–37, 40, 46, 48.)  

  7. 7

    Parley P. Pratt wrote to his wife, “If we should Stay Long In this place, General Willson, has Promised us that our families shall Be guarded to us and Protected.” (P. Pratt to M. Pratt, 4 Nov. 1838.)  

    Pratt, Parley P. Letters, 1838–1839. CHL. MS 5828.

  8. 8

    Michael Arthur, who was not a member of the church but was friendly to the Saints, indicated that “small companies” of armed men were “constantly strolling up and down Caldwell county . . . insulting the women in any and every way; and plundering the poor devils [Latter-day Saints] of all the means of subsistence.” (Michael Arthur, Liberty, MO, to “Respected Friends,” 29 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; see also Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.)  

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

  9. 9

    In early November 1838, Major General Samuel D. Lucas and Major General John B. Clark disputed who held ultimate command in the field and therefore was responsible for the Latter-day Saint prisoners. Lucas claimed that when he and his men approached Far West in late October, he believed he was the ranking officer in the field and thus was fully authorized to negotiate the peace terms with Colonel George M. Hinkle and to arrest the Mormon leaders on 31 October 1838. In a subsequent letter to Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, Lucas explained he was unaware that the governor had given Clark command over all the militia forces. On 2 November, Lucas ordered Brigadier General Moses Wilson and his men to take the prisoners to Lucas’s headquarters in Independence.a Upon hearing this news, Clark, who had not yet reached Far West, ordered Lucas on 3 November to reroute the prisoners to Clark’s headquarters in Richmond.b Although both men were major generals, Lucas argued that his “grade of Office” was superior to Clark’s, leading Lucas to disregard Clark’s 3 November order, as he “could not under any circumstances, be commanded by a Junior Major Genl.”c On 6 November, Lucas received confirmation in Independence that Boggs had indeed appointed Clark as the commanding officer, and Lucas agreed to give the prisoners to Clark.d  

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

    (aSamuel D. Lucas, Independence, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 5 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.bJohn B. Clark, Richmond, MO, to Samuel D. Lucas, 3 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.cSamuel D. Lucas, Independence, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 7 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; S. Lucas to L. Boggs, 5 Nov. 1838.dS. Lucas to L. Boggs, 7 Nov. 1838; John B. Clark, Richmond, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 10 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.)
  10. 10

    For more information on Governor Lilburn W. Boggs’s 27 October 1838 order to Major General John B. Clark, see Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.  

  11. 11

    When the prisoners left Far West for Independence, Clark was not in the city yet, and it was unclear whether he would adopt Lucas’s terms or interpret the governor’s order more forcefully. Clark ultimately retained most of Lucas’s stipulations. However, after viewing “the situation of their women and children, and the inclemency of the weather,” Clark decided to “modify the terms” and allow the Saints to “remain until their convenience suited them in the spring.” (J. Clark to L. Boggs, 10 Nov. 1838.)  

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

  12. 12

    At Far West on 5 November 1838, Major General John B. Clark delivered a speech in which he reportedly encouraged the Saints to “become as other citizens,” by which he meant “to scatter abroad and never again organize with Bishops, Presidents, &c.” Judge Austin A. King shared the belief that the problems between the Latter-day Saints and their Missouri neighbors were rooted in the Saints’ practice of gathering. “If the Mormons would disperse and not gather into exclusive communities of their own, I think with the exception of a few of their leaders, the people might be reconciled to them.” These sentiments also existed among some residents of Jackson County, from which the Latter-day Saints had been expelled in fall 1833. (Greene, Facts relative to the Expulsion, 27; Editorial Note, in “A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” Dec. 1839–Oct. 1840; Austin A. King, Richmond, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 23 Dec. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.)  

    Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

  13. 13

    See Romans 8:28; Revelation, 12 Oct. 1833 [D&C 100:15]; and Revelation, 6 Aug. 1836 [D&C 111:11].  

  14. 14

    TEXT: At a subsequent date, JS’s signature was cut from the second leaf.