Letter to James Arlington Bennet, 8 September 1842

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<​Nauvoo Sep. 2d 1842​>
Sepr. 8th. 1842
Dear Sir—
I have just received your very consoling letter dated August 16th. 1842; which, I think, is the first letter you ever addressed to me. In which you speak of the arrival of Dr , and of his person, very respectfully. In this, I rejoice for I am as warm a friend to , as he possibly can be to me. And in relation to his almost making a Mormon of yourself, it puts me in mind of the saying of Paul in his reply to Agrippa Acts chapter 26 verse 29 “I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” And I will here remark, my Dear Sir; that Mormonism, is the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ, of which I myself am not ashamed. You speak also, of , president of the Church in , in high terms; and of of . These men I am acquainted, with, by information, and it warms my heart to know that you speak well of them; and as you say could be willing to associate with them forever, if you never join [illegible] their church, or acknowledged their faith. This, is a good principle for when we see virtuous qualities in men, we should always acknowledge them, let their understanding be what it may, in relation to creeds and doctrine; for all men are, or ought to be, free; possessing inalienable rights, and the high and noble qualifications of the laws [p. 1] of nature, and of self preservation; to think, and act, and say as they please while they maintain a due respect, to the rights, and privileges of all other creatures; infringing upon none. This doctrine, I do most heartily subscribe to, and practise; the testimony of mean men to the contrary, notwithstanding. But Sir, I will assure you, that my soul, soars far above all the mean, and grovelling dispositions of men, that are disposed to abuse me and my character; I therefore shall not dwell upon that subject. In relation to those men the you speak of, referred to above; I will only say, that there are thousands of such men in this church; who, to be <​if a man is​> found worthy to associate with, will call down the envy of a mean world, because of their high and noble demeanor; and it is with unspeakable delight, that I contemplate them as my friends and brethren. I love them with a perfect love; and I hope they love me, and have no reason to doubt but they do.
The next in consideration, is . I was, his friend, I am yet, his friend, as I feel myself bound to be a friend to all the sons of Adam, wether they are just or unjust; they have a degree of my compassion & sympathy. If he is my enemy, it is his own fault; and the responsibility rests upon his own head, and instead of railing <​reigning​> his character before you; suffice it to say that his own conduct wherever he goes, will be sufficient to recommend him to an enlightened public, wether for a bad man, or a good man. Therefore, whosever will associate themselves [p. 2] with him, may be assured that I will not persecute them; but I do not wish their association; and what I have said may suffice on that subject, so far as his character is concerned.
Now in relation to his book, that he may write, I will venture a prophecy, that whoever has any hand in the matter, will find themselves in a poor fix, in relation to the money matters. And as to my having any fears of the influence that he may have against me, or any other man, or set of men may have is the most foreign from my heart; for I never knew what it was, as yet, to fear the face of clay, or the influence of man. My fear, Sir, is before God. I fear to offend him, and strive to keep his commandments. I am realy glad that you did not join in relation to his book; from the assurances which I have, that it will prove a curse to all those who touch it.
In relation to the honors that you speak of, both for yourself, and for Mr of the Herald, you are <​both​> strangers to me; and as kept all his letters which he received from you, entirely to himself; and there was no corresponce between you and me that I knew of, I had no opportunity to share very largely, in the getting up of any of those matters. I could not, as I had not sufficient knowledge to enable me to do so. The whole therefore, was at the instigation of , and a quiet submission on the part of the rest, out of the best of feelings. But as for myself it was all done at a time when I was overwhelmed with a great many business cares, as well as the care of [p. 3] all the churches. I must be excused therefore for any wrongs that may have taken place, in relation to this matter. And so far as I obtain a knowledge of that which is right, shall meet with my hearty approval. I feel to tender you my most hearty & sincere thanks for every expression of kindness you have tendered toward me or my brethren, and would beg the privilege of obtruding myself a little while upon your patience in offering a short relation of my circumstances. I am at this time persecuted the worst of any man on the earth; as well as this people, here in this place; and all our sacred rights, are trampled under the feet of the mob. I am now hunted as an hart by the mob, under the pretense, or shadow of law, to cover their abominable deeds. An unhallowed demand has been made from the Governor of on oath of , that I made an attempt to assassinate him, on the night of the sixth of May, when on that day <​and on the seventh​> it is well known <​that I was attending the officers drill and answered to my name when the roll was called​> by the thousands that assembled here in , that I was at my post in reviewing the in the presence of twelve thousand people; and the Gov. of the State of <​notwithstanding his being​> knowing to all these facts, <​yet he​> immediately granted a writ, and by an unhallowed usurption, has taken away our chartered rights, and denied the right of ; and <​I am informed​> has now about thirty of the most blood-thirsty kind of men <​from now on their way to​> in this place in search for me, threatening death, and destruction, and extermination upon all the Mormons; and searching my house almost continually from day to day, menacing, and threatening, [p. 4] and intimidating an innocent wife and children; and insulting them in a most diabolical manner, threatening their lives &c, if I am not to be found; with a gang of Missourians with them, saying, they will have me dead or alive, and if alive, they will carry me to in chains; and when there, they will kill me at all hazards. And all this is backt up, and urged on, by the of this , with all the rage of a demon, putting at defiance the constitution of this — our chartered rights, and the constitution of the ; for not as yet, have they done one thing that was in accordance to them; while all the citizens of this city, en masse, have petitioned the with remonstrances, and overtures, that would have melted the heart of an adamantine, to no effect. And at the same time, if any of us open our mouths, to plead our own cause, in the defence of law and justice, with <​we​> are instantly threatened with Militia & extermination Great God! When shall the oppressor cease to prey and glut itself upon innocent blood. Where is patriotism? Where is liberty? Where is the boast of this proud, and haughty nation? O humanity! where hast thou fled? hast thou fled <​forever.​>
I now appeal to you, sir, inasmuch as you have subscribed yourself our friend; will you lift your voice, and your arm, with indignation, against such unhallowed oppression? I must say sir, that my bosom swells, with unutterable anguish, when I contemplate the scenes of horror [p. 5] that we have passed through in the State of and then look, and behold, and see the storm, and cloud, gathering ten times blacker— ready to burst upon the heads of this innocent people. Would to God that I were able to throw off the yoke. Shall we bow down and be slaves? Is there no friends of humanity, in a nation that boasts itself so much? Will not the Nation rise up and defend us? If they will not defend us, will they not grant, to lend a voice of indignation, against such unhallowed oppression? Must the tens of thousands bow down to slavery and degradation? Let the pride of the nation arise, and wrench these shackles from the feet of their fellow citizens; and their quiet and peaceable, and innocent and loyal subjects. But I must forbear, for I cannot express my feelings. The Legion, would all willingly die in the defence of their rights; but what would this accomplish? I have kept down their indignation, and kept a quiet submission on all hands, and am determined to do so, at all hazards. Our enemies shall not have it to say, that we rebel against government, or commit treason; however much they may lift their hands in oppression, and tyranny, when it comes in the form of Government. We tamely submit, although it lead us to the slaughter, and to beggary; but our blood be upon their garments, and those who look tamely on, and boast of patriotism shall not without their condemnation. [p. 6] And if men are such fools, as to let once, the precedent be established, and through their prejudices, give assent, to such abomination, then let the oppressors hand lay heavily throughout the world, untill all flesh shall feel it together; and untill they may know, that the Almighty takes cognizance of such things; and then shall church rise up against church; and party against party; mob against mob; oppressor against oppressor; army against army; and kingdom against kingdom; and people against people; and kindred against kindred. And where, sir, will be your safety, or the safety of your children. If my children can be led to the slaughter with impunity, by the hands of murderous rebels; will they not lead yours to the slaughter, with the same impunity? Ought not then, this oppression Sir, to be checked in the bud; and to be look’d down, with just indignattion by an enlightened world; before the flame <​fire​> become unextinguishable, and, the fire devours the stubble. But again I say, I must forbear; and leave this painful subject. I wish you would write to me in answer to this and let me know your views. On my part, I am ready to be offered up a sacrifice, in that way that can bring to pass, the greatest benifit, and good, to those who must necessarily be interested, in this important matter. I have dictated this letter, while my clerk is writing for me; and I would to God that you could know all my feelings on this subject [p. 7] and the real facts in relation to this people, and their unrelenting persecution. And if any man, feels an interest in the welfare of their fellow-beings, and would think of saying or doing any thing in this matter, I would suggest the propriety of a committee of wise men being sent, to ascertain the justice or injustice of our cause to get in possession of all the facts; and then make report to an enlightened world, wether we individually, or collectively, are deserving such high-handed treatment.
In relation to the books that you sent here, put them into my , to be sold on commission saying, that when I were able, the money must be remitted to yourself. Nothing was said about any consecration to the .
Another calamity has befallen us; our Post Office in this place is exceedingly corrupt. It is with great difficulty that we can get our letters to or from our friends. Our letters are broken open and robbed of their contents— Our papers that we send to our sub[s]cribers, are embezzeled, and burned or wasted. We get no money from our subcribers, and very little information from abroad; and what little we do get, we get by private means, in consequence of these things. And I am sorry to say, that this robbing of the Post Office— of money was carried on by , and since he left here, it is carried on by the means of his confederate
I now subscribe myself your friend, and a patriot and lover of my country, pleading at their feet for protection, and deliverance by the justice of their constitutions. I add no more. Your most obedient servant.
Joseph Smith.
P. S. I have dictated this letter while my clerk is writing for me [p. 8]


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    Insertion in margin in unidentified handwriting.