Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 March 1839

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, Clay co. Mo. March 22nd, 1839.
Mr. ; Dear Sir:
I have just been privileged with a perusal of a letter, put into my hands by Mr. , which letter was directed to him, dated February 26th, 1839. and signed, . The contents of said letter expresses a sympathy and a good feeling towards the people and , which I have the high honor, of being their religious leader; I say high honor, more especially, because I know them to be an honorable, a virtuous, and an upright people. And that honor, vir [p. 51]tue, and righteousness is their only aim and object in this life. They are sir, a much injured, and abused people; and are greatly belied as to their true character. They have been fallen upon by a gang of ruffians and murderers, three times, in the state of ; and entirely broken up, without having committed the first offence: or without there being the least shadow in the very slightest degree of evidence, that they have done ought of any thing derogatory to the laws, or character, of the state of . And this last time of their being broken up; it is either my misfortune, or good fortune, (for I rather count it good fortune to suffer affliction with the people of God,) in connection with others of my brethren, to be made a severe sufferer, by the hands of the above mentioned rascals: they are supported by some portions of the authorities of the , either in consequence of prejudices, excited by foul calumnies, or else they themselves, are the fathers and instigators, of the whole diabolical and murderous proceeding.
I am bold to say sir, that a more nefarious transaction never has existed, since the days of Yore; than that which has been practiced upon us.— Myself and those who are in prison with me, were torn from our houses, with our wives and children clinging to our garments, under the awful expectation of being exterminated. At our first examination, the mob found one or two persons, of low and worthless character, whom they compelled, at the peril of their lives, to swear some things against us: which things, if they had been even true, were nothing at all, and could not have so much as disgraced any man under heaven. Nevertheless, we could have proved, by more than five hundred witnesses, that the things were false. But the Judge employed an armed force, and compelled us to abandon the idea of introducing witnesses, upon the peril of the lives of the witnesses. Under such circumstances, sir, we were committed to this , on a pretended charge of treason, against the State of , without the slightest evidence to that effect. We collected our witnesses the second time, and petitioned a habeas corpus: but were thrust back again into prison, by the rage of the mob; and our families robbed, and plundered: and families, and witnesses, thrust from their homes, and hunted out of the State, and dare not return for their lives. And under this order of things, we, held in confinement, for a pretended trial: whereas we are to be tried by those very characters who have practiced those things, yea the very characters who have murdered some hundred men, women and children, and have sworn to have our lives also; and have made public proclamation that these men must and should be hung, whether they were innocent, or guilty. Such men too, sir, have made this proclamation, as , who is considered one of the most prominent men in the . This is according to the information I have received, which I suppose to be true. Their plea sir, is that the will be ruined, if the Mormon leaders are liberated, so that they can publish the real facts, of what has been practised upon them.
We are kept under a strong guard, night and day, in a prison of double walls and doors, proscribed in our liberty of conscience, our food is scant, uniform, and coarse; we have not the privilege of cooking for ourselves, we have been compelled to sleep on the floor with straw, and not blankets sufficient to keep us warm; and when we have a fire, we are obliged to have almost a constant smoke. The Judges have gravely told us from time to time that they knew we were innocent, and ought to be liberated, but they dare not administer the law unto us, for fear of the mob. But if we will deny our religion, we can be liberated. Our lawyers have gravely told us, that we are only held now by the influence of long faced Baptists; how far this is true, we are not able to say: but we are certain that our most vehement accusers, are the highest toned professors of religion. On being interogated what these men have done? their uniform answer is, we do not know, but they are false teachers, and ought to die. And of late boldly and frankly acknowledge, that the religion of these men, is all that they have against them. Now sir, the only difference between their [p. 52] religion, and mine, is, that I firmly believe in the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ, being the chief cornerstone. And speak as one having authority among them, and not as the scribes, and am liberal in my sentiments towards all men, in matters of opinion, and rights of conscience, whereas they are not. But enough of this. I feel highly gratified to learn of a man who had sympathy, and feelings of friendship towards a suffering, and an injured, and an innocent people: if you can do them any good, render them any assistance, or protection, in the name of suffering humanity, we beseach you, for God’s sake, and humanity’s sake, that you will do it. If you should see , I wish you would have the kindness to state to him, the contents of this letter; as we know him from information to be a man of character and a gentleman. I would be glad therefore, if it were possible that he, and not only him, but every other patriotic, and humane man, should know the real facts of our sufferings: and of the unjust and cruel hand that is upon us. I have been in this one year, the 12th, day of this month; I have never borne arms at any time. I have never held any office, civil or military in this . I have only officiated as a religious teacher, in religious matters, and not in temporal matters. The only occasion I have given, was to defend my own family, in my own door yard, against the invasions of a lawless mob: and that I did not at the expense of any man’s life: but risked my own in defence of an innocent family, consisting of a , five children, hired servants &c. My residence was in . I was surrounded with a noble, generous, and enterprising society, who were friendly to the laws, and constitution of our country: they were broken up without cause, and my family now as I suppose, if living, are in , Illinois.
We are informed that the prisoners in jail, , are much more inhumanly treated than we are; if this is the case, we will assure you, that their constitutions cannot last long, for we find ours wearing away very fast: and if we knew of any source whereby aid and assistance could be rendered unto us, we should most cordially petition for it: but where is liberty? Where is humanity? Where is patriotism? Where has the genius of the pedistal of the laws and constitution of our boasted country fled? Are they not slain victims at the feet of prejudice, to gratify the malice of a certain class of men, who have learned that their craft and creed cannot stand against the light of truth, when it comes to be investigated?— hence they resort to the vilest of the vile means, and to foul calumnies, and to physical force to do what? To deprive some fifty thousand, of the right of citizenship, and for what? because they are blasphemers? no: For this is contrary to their practice, as well as faith. Was it because they were tavern haunters, and drunkards? no. This charge cannot be substantiated against them as a people; it was contrary to their faith. And finally was it for any thing? no sir, not for any thing, only, that Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraced it felt himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, falls at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft; hence the priests are alarmed, and they raise a hu-in-cry, down with these men! heresy! heresy! fanaticism! false prophet! false teachers! away with these men! crucify them! crucify them! And now sir, this is the sole cause of the persecution against the Mormon people, and now if they had been Mahomedans, Hottentots, or Pagans; or in fine sir, if their religion was as false as hell, what right would men have to drive them from their homes, and their country, or to exterminate them, so long as their religion did not interfere with the civil rights of men, according to the laws of our country? None at all. But the mind naturally being curious wants to know what those sentiments are, that are so at varience with the priests of the age, and I trust you will bear with me, while I offer to you a few of my reflections on this subject, and if they should not meet your mind, it may open a door for an exchange of ideas, and in the exercise of a proper liberality of spirit, it may not be unprofitable.
In the first place, I have stated above [p. 53] that Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the , is truth; for the name Mormon, and Mormonism, was given to us by our enemies, but Latter Day Saints was the real name by which the church was organized. Now sir, you may think that it is a broad assertion that it is truth; but sir, the first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same; we feel ourselves bound by the laws of God, to observe and do strictly, with all our hearts, all things whatsoever is manifest unto us by the highest degree of testimony that God has committed us, as written in the old and new Testament, or any where else, by any manifestation, whereof we know that it has come from God: and has application to us, being adapted to our situation and circumstances; age, and generation of life; and that we have a perfect, and indefeasible right, to embrace all such , and do them; knowing, that God will not command any thing, but what is peculiarly adapted in itself, to ameliorate the condition of every man under whatever circumstances it may find him, it matters not what kingdom or country he may be in. And again, we believe that it is our privilege to reject all things, whatsoever is clearly manifested to us that they do not have a bearing upon us. Such as, for instance, it is not binding on us to build an Ark, because God commanded Noah to build one.— It would not be applicable to our case; we are not looking for a flood. It is not binding on us to lead the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, because God commanded Moses. The children of Israel are not in bondage to the Egyptians, as they were then; our circumstances are very different. I have introduced these for examples: and on the other hand, “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not bare false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor his man servant, nor his maid servant, nor any thing that is thy neighbors.”
These sentiments we most cordially embrace, and consider them binding on us because they are adapted to our circumstances. We believe that we have a right to revelations, visions, and dreams from God, our heavenly Father; and light and intelligence, through the gift of the Holy Ghost, in the name of Jesus Christ, on all subjects pertaining to our spiritual welfare; if it so be that we keep his commandments, so as to render ourselves worthy in his sight. We believe that no man can administer salvation through the gospel, to the souls of men, in the name of Jesus Christ, except he is authorized from God, by revelation, or by being by some one whom God hath sent by revelation, as It is written by Paul, Romans 10:14, “and how shall they believe in him, of whom, they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?” and I will ask, how can they be sent without a revelation, or some other visible display of the manifestation of God. And again, Hebrews, 5:4, “And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.”— And I would ask, how was Aaron called, but by revelation?
And again we believe in the doctrine of faith, and of repentance, and of for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the , and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. We believe in the doctrine of repentance, as well as of faith; and in the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sins as well as in the doctrine of repentance; and in the doctrine of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, as well as baptism for the remission of sins; and also, in like manner, of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Now all these are the doctrines set forth by the appostles, and if we have any thing to do with one of them, they are all alike precious, and binding on us. And as proof, mark the following quotations. Mark 16 chap., 15–16 verses, “and he said [p. 54] unto them go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and he that believeth and is shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Hear you will see the doctrine of faith: and again, Acts 2nd chap. 28 verse, “Then Peter said unto them repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Hear you see the doctrine of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, connected by the promise inseperably. Now I want you to consider the high standing of Peter; he was now being with power from on high and held the of the kingdom of heaven. Mathew 16th chap. 19th verse, [“]and I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This was the character, Sir, that made the glorious promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost, predicated upon the baptism for the remission of sins: and he did not say that it was confined to that generation, but see further: Act[s] 2nd chap. 39th verse, “for the promise is unto you, and your children, and to all who are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Then, Sir, if the callings of God extend unto us, we come within the perview of Peter’s promise. Now where is the man who is authorized to put his finger on the spot and say, thus far shalt thou go and no farther: there is no man. Therefore let us receive the whole, or none. And again, concerning the doctrine of the . Act[s] 8th chap. 14th to 17th verse. Now when the apostles, which were at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; for as yet he was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.— Then laid they their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.— Acts 19th chap. 5th–6th verses.— When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.— And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied. We discover by these, the doctrine of the laying on of the hands.— And for the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment: Hebrews 6th chap. 2nd verse, of the doctrine of baptism, and of laying on of the hands, and of reserrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. I consider these to be some of the leading items of the gospel, as taught by Christ and his apostles, and as received by those whom they taught. I wish you would look at these, carefully and closely, and you will readily perceive that the difference between me and other religious teachers, is in the bible; and the bible and them for it: and as far as they teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is verily written, and are inspired, and called as was Aaron, I feel myself bound to bow with all defference to their mandates and teachings; but see Gallations, 1st chap. 6th to 10th verse. I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another Gospel; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Further, the 11–12 verses. But, I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Please Sir, to pardon me for having obtruded thus lengthy upon your feelings, as you are a stranger to me; and I know nothing of you, only what I have read in you[r] letter, and from that I have taken the liberty which I have. Be assured Sir, that I have the most liberal sentiments, and feelings of charity towards all sects, parties, and denominations; and the rights and liberties of concience, I hold most sa [p. 55]cred and dear, and dispise no man for differing with me in matters of opinion.
Accept Dear Sir, my best wishes for your welfare, and desire for further acquaintance, I close my letter, by giving you some quotations which you will have the goodness to read.
The second epistle of Paul to Timothy, 1:5–7. 2:10–14. 4:2–7. Ephesians 4:10–18. 1st Corinthians 12:1–31. 8:3–6. Ephesians 4:1–8. The 1st Epistle of John 1: Mathew, 3:13–17. St. John 3:1[–]16. 10:1–50. 28:18–20. St. Luke 24:45–53. If you wish another address on this subject, you have only to let me know, and it shall be attended to.
Yours truly,
JOSEPH SMITH, Jr.
N. B. If , or if the have not made a purchase of your land, and if there is not any one who feels a particular interest in making the purchase, you will hold it in reserve for us; we will purchase it of you at the proposals that you made to . We think the church would be wise in making the contract, therefore, if it is not made before we are liberated, we will make it.
Yours &c.
JOSEPH SMITH, Jr. [p. 56]