Letter to John Smith, 2 July 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

2d July 1833
Brother John Smith— (2d)
We <​have​> just received your letter of the 8th of June, which seems to have been wrttin [written] in a Spirit of Justifycation on your part; You well recollect that previous to your leaveing this place you was tryd before the which found you guilty of misdemeanor— and desided that you should no longer retain your authaurety in the . all of which we approove as Sanction. you name you nam[e] something in your letter that took place at in Shalersville on the 27th, and 28th, of August which we perfectly Agree recollect and had you have [p. 50] made such Confession as you was required to at Chipiway [Chippewa], all things would have worked together for <​your​> good; and as I told you, but you did not manifest that degree of humility to the bretheren that was required, but remained obstenate, for that <​reason​> God withdrew his Spirit from you and left <​you​> in the in darkness. darkness in your letter you say many hard things against the Bretheren Especially the &c— all which we highly disaprove,— it seems also that your son is confederate with you and needs to repent together with yourself in all humility; before the Lord; or you must expect to be dealt with agreeable to the .
we say you are no more than a private member in the ,
Joseph Smith Jr. Pr
, Pd [p. 51]


  1. new scribe logo

    JS handwriting begins.  

  2. 1

    Perhaps this indication of “2d” served to differentiate this John Smith from JS’s uncle John Smith.  

  3. 2

    Extant evidence does not provide explicit reasons for why a hearing before the bishop’s court was held. It is not clear when the hearing occurred, though it likely took place after August 1832, when John Smith’s journal ends, and before 15 December 1832, when his name first appears in Vermillion County branch records. It seems that Smith had done something that required disciplinary action and that he later spoke harshly against church leaders and other members of the church. A February 1831 revelation explained that if one offended another and the offending party did not confess and demonstrate humility and repentance, the offender would face chastisement and “be rebuked openly that he may be ashamed.” (John Smith, Diary, 22 Aug. 1832; Vermillion Branch, Conference Minutes, 15 Dec. 1832; Revelation, 23 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:91].)  

    Smith, John (ca. 1775–after 1833). Diary, 1831–1832. CHL. MS 5349.

    Vermillion Branch. Conference Minutes, Nov. 1832–July 1833. CHL. LR 5552 21.

  4. 3

    John Smith had been ordained an elder, but it is not clear if he had been ordained to the office of high priest by this time. He is listed as a high priest in the minutes of a 25–26 October 1831 conference held in Orange, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and in the minutes of a 23 February 1833 conference held in Vermillion County, Ohio. In all other minutes, both before and after these dates, he is listed as an elder. That the presidency sanctioned the proceedings of the bishop’s court clearly indicates that John Smith’s priesthood authority had been removed. (See Minutes, 25–26 Oct. 1831; Vermillion Branch, Conference Minutes, 23 Feb. 1833; for more information on priesthood authority in the church and on the power of the presidency of the high priesthood to take away a person’s priesthood authority, see Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:63–64, 80–83]; and Minutes, 2 May 1833.)  

    Vermillion Branch. Conference Minutes, Nov. 1832–July 1833. CHL. LR 5552 21.

  5. 4

    For information on presidents, or the presidency, of the high priesthood, see the Historical Introduction to Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90].  

  6. 5

    Shalersville Township, Portage County, Ohio. Shalersville was located north of Ravenna, Ohio, and was about twenty-seven miles southeast of Kirtland. (Berrett, Sacred Places, 3:56–57.)  

    Berrett, LaMar C., ed. Sacred Places: A Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites. 6 vols. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999–2007.

  7. 6

    A branch of the Church of Christ was located in Chippewa Township, Wayne County, Ohio. Chippewa was approximately twenty miles southwest of the center of Akron, Ohio. (See “History of Luke Johnson,” [2], Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861, CHL.)  

    Historian’s Office. Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861. CHL. CR 100 93.

  8. 7

    See Romans 8:28; and Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:24].  

  9. 8

    See Old Testament Revision 1, p. 1 [Moses 1:15].  

  10. 9

    See Psalms 60:3; 94:4.  

  11. 10

    Bishop” refers to Newel K. Whitney. Reynolds Cahoon was a counselor to Bishop Whitney and would have been part of the bishop’s court that disciplined John Smith. If John Smith was still unrepentant about his earlier behavior, then he was likely disparaging Whitney and Cahoon for taking action against him. Why he would speak against Joseph Smith Sr., who had been one of John Smith’s missionary companions, is unknown. (See John Smith, Diary, 7–19 Sept. 1831.)  

    Smith, John (ca. 1775–after 1833). Diary, 1831–1832. CHL. MS 5349.

  12. new scribe logo

    JS handwriting ends; Frederick G. Williams begins.  

  13. 11

    A “private member” had no authority to preach or administer ordinances. According to the 2 July letter to the Eugene branch, “John Smith [had] been dealt with and his authority taken from him.” The church in Eugene voted to “cut off” John Smith from the church on 13 July 1833. (“The Church of Christ,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Mar. 1833, [2]; Letter to Church Leaders in Eugene, IN, 2 July 1833; Vermillion Branch, Conference Minutes, 13 July 1833.)  

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

    Vermillion Branch. Conference Minutes, Nov. 1832–July 1833. CHL. LR 5552 21.