Letter to Wilson Law, 16 August 1842

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Head Quarters of
August 16 1842
Beloved brother and friend
Those few lines which I received from you written on the 15th. was to me like apples of Gold in pictures of Silver. I rejoice with exceeding great joy to be associated in the high and responsible stations which we hold, whose mind and feelings and heart is so congenial with my own. I love that soul that is so nobly entabernacled in that clay of yours, may God Almighty grant, that it may be satiated with seeing a fuffilment of every virtuous desire and manly desire that you possess. May we be able to triumph gloriously over those who seek our destruction and overthrow, which I believe we shall. The news you wrote me was more favorable than that which was communicated by the brethren. They seemed a little agitated for my safety and advise me for the . But I succeeded admirably in calming all their fears. But nevertheless as I said in my former letter, I was willing to exile myself for months and years, if it would be for the safety and welfare of the people; and I do not know but it would be as well for me to take a trip to the and remain untill arrangements can be made for my most perfect safety when I return. These are therefore to confer with you on this subject as I want to have a concert of action in every thing that I do. If I [k]new that they would oppress me alone, and let the rest of you dwell peaceably and quietly, I think I<​t​> would be the wisest plan to absent myself for a little season if by that means we can prevent the profusion of blood Please write and give me your mind on that subject and all other information that has come to hand today and what are the signs of the times. [p. [1]]
I have no news for I am where I cannot get much all is quiet and peaceable around. I therefore wait with earnest expectation for your advices. I am anxious to know your opinions on any course that I may see proper to take, for in the multitude of council there is safety.
I add no more, but subscribe myself your faithful and most obedient servant friend and brother
Joseph Smith
Lieut Gen. of of Illinois Millitia [5 lines blank]
Augt. 16th. 1842> [p. [2]]


  1. 1

    Although the usual headquarters for the Nauvoo Legion was probably the office of JS, at the time of this letter JS apparently considered his current place of residence—the home of Edward Sayers—to be a temporary headquarters. (See Minutes, 4 Feb. 1841.)  

    The Book of the Law of the Lord, Record Book, 1841–1845. CHL.

  2. 2

    See Proverbs 25:11.  

  3. 3

    See Matthew 2:10.  

  4. 4

    Among other things, Law had noted that “the Gentlemen Officers”—likely referring to the arresting officers—“are seemingly very unhappy and out of humor with themselves more than with any body else.” (Letter from Wilson Law, 15 Aug. 1842, underlining in original.)  

  5. 5

    The pine tree forests in western Wisconsin Territory, where the church had a lumber mill and camp on the Black River. (See Rowley, “Mormon Experience in the Wisconsin Pineries,” 121–129.)  

    Rowley, Dennis. “The Mormon Experience in the Wisconsin Pineries, 1841–1845.” BYU Studies 32, nos. 1 and 2 (1992): 119–148.

  6. 6

    According to JS’s journal, he “advised them not to suffer themselves to be wrought upon by any report, but to maintain an even, undaunted mind,” whereupon they “began to gather courage and all fears were soon subsided, and the greatest union and good feeling prevailed amongst all present.” (JS, Journal, 15 Aug. 1842.)  

  7. 7

    See Letter to Wilson Law, 14 Aug. 1842.  

  8. 8

    See Proverbs 11:14.  

  9. 9

    The “Copy” here may be an indication that this was a retained copy of the original letter, or it may be a later scribal notation by Clayton on the original letter indicating that he had copied it into JS’s journal.  

  10. new scribe logo

    Docket in handwriting of William Clayton.