2477290

Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 November 1832

Letter 1 Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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Nov 27th 1832—
Brother Wm W Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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I say brother because I feel so from the heart and altho it is not long since I wrote a letter unto you1

It is unclear to what letter JS refers, but the most recent extant JS letter to Phelps is dated 31 July 1832. (Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832.)  


yet I feel as though you would excuse me for writing this as I have many things which I wish to communicate some things which I will mention in this letter which are laying great with weight upon my mind I inform you I am well and family God grant that you may enjoy the same and yours and all the brethren and sisters who remember to enquire after the commandments

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

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of the Lord and the welfare of Zion and such a being as me and while I dictate this letter I fancy to myself that you are saying or thinking something simmiler to these words my God great and mighty art thou therefore shew unto thy servant what shall becom of all these who are assaying to come up unto Zion in order to keep the commandments of God and yet receive not there inhertance

Generally referred to land promised by or received from God for the church and its members. A January 1831 revelation promised church members a land of inheritance. In March and May 1831, JS dictated revelations commanding members “to purchase lands for an...

View Glossary
by consecration

The dedicating of money, lands, goods, or one’s own life for sacred purposes. Both the New Testament and Book of Mormon referred to some groups having “all things common” economically; the Book of Mormon also referred to individuals who consecrated or dedicated...

View Glossary
by order or deed from the bishop

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. JS appointed Edward Partridge as the first bishop in February 1831. Following this appointment, Partridge functioned as the local leader of the church in Missouri. Later revelations described a bishop’s duties as receiving...

View Glossary

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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the man that God has appointed in a legal way agreeable to the law given to organize and regulate the church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
and all the affairs of the same;2

See Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:30–38]; Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:7]; Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:17, 35–36]; and Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 107:68, 71].  


Bro Wm

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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in the love of God having the most implicit confidence in you as a man of God having obtained this confidence by a vision of heavn3

This “vision of heaven” probably occurred sometime after JS wrote his letter of 31 July 1832 to Phelps. (See Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832.)  


therefore I will procede to unfold to you some of the feelings of my heart and procede to answer the question. firstly, it is the duty of the lord’s clerk

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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whom he has appointed to keep a hystory and a general church reccord of all things that transpire in Zion4

This reiterated a charge given to John Whitmer in a March 1831 revelation: “it shall be appointed unto you to Keep the Church Record & History continually.” (Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47:3].)  


and of all those who consecrate properties and receive inhertances legally from the bishop and also there manner of life and the faith and works and also of all the apostates who apostatize after receiving ther inhertances 5

At this point, Frederick G. Williams apparently began copying a later portion of the letter. JS then took over the copying, still in the wrong part of the letter, and copied several lines. Williams transcribed the rest of the section before realizing the mistake and crossing out the section. The entire canceled portion appears later in the letter.  


[p. 1]
<Letter 1>

Frederick G. Williams handwriting begins.  


Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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Nov 27th 1832—
Brother Wm <W> Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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I say brother because I feel so from  the heart and altho it is not long since I wrote a  letter unto you1

It is unclear to what letter JS refers, but the most recent extant JS letter to Phelps is dated 31 July 1832. (Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832.)  


yet I feel as tho<ugh> you would excuse  me for writing this as I have many things which  I wish to communicate some things which I will  mention in this letter which are laying <great> with weight  upon my mind I inform you I am well and family  God grant that you may enjoy the same and  yours and all the brethren and sisters who remember  to enquire afte[r] the commandments

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

View Glossary
of the Lord  and the welfare of Zion and such a being as me  and while I dictate this letter I fancy to myself  that you are saying or thinking something simmiler  to these words my God great and mighty art thou  therefore shew unto thy servant what shall becom of all  these who are assaying to come up unto Zion in order  to keep this the commandments of God and yet receive  not there inhertance

Generally referred to land promised by or received from God for the church and its members. A January 1831 revelation promised church members a land of inheritance. In March and May 1831, JS dictated revelations commanding members “to purchase lands for an...

View Glossary
by consecration

The dedicating of money, lands, goods, or one’s own life for sacred purposes. Both the New Testament and Book of Mormon referred to some groups having “all things common” economically; the Book of Mormon also referred to individuals who consecrated or dedicated...

View Glossary
by order or deed  from the bishop

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. JS appointed Edward Partridge as the first bishop in February 1831. Following this appointment, Partridge functioned as the local leader of the church in Missouri. Later revelations described a bishop’s duties as receiving...

View Glossary

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

View Full Bio
the man that God has appointed  in a legal way agreeable to the law given to organiz[e]  and regulate the church

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
and all the affairs of th[e]  same;2

See Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:30–38]; Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:7]; Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:17, 35–36]; and Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 107:68, 71].  


Bro Wm

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

View Full Bio
in the love of God having the  most implicit confidence in you as a man of  God having obtained this confidence by a vision  of heavn3

This “vision of heaven” probably occurred sometime after JS wrote his letter of 31 July 1832 to Phelps. (See Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832.)  


therefore I will procede to unfold to you some  of the feelings of my heart and procede to answer  the question[.] firstly, it is the duty of the lord[’s]  clerk

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

View Full Bio
whom he has appointed to keep a hystory  and a general church reccord of all things that  transpire in Zion4

This reiterated a charge given to John Whitmer in a March 1831 revelation: “it shall be appointed unto you to Keep the Church Record & History continually.” (Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47:3].)  


and of all those who consecrate  properties and receive inhertances legally from the  bishop and also there manner of life and the faith  and works and also of all the apostates who apostatize  after receiving ther inhertances 5

At this point, Frederick G. Williams apparently began copying a later portion of the letter. JS then took over the copying, still in the wrong part of the letter, and copied several lines. Williams transcribed the rest of the section before realizing the mistake and crossing out the section. The entire canceled portion appears later in the letter.  


in that day shall  not find an inheritanc[e] among the saints of the [p. 1]
Next
After returning to Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
, Ohio, on 6 November 1832 from his trip with Newel K. Whitney

3/5 Feb. 1795–23 Sept. 1850. Trader, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Samuel Whitney and Susanna Kimball. Moved to Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York, 1803. Merchant at Plattsburg, Clinton Co., New York, 1814. Mercantile clerk for...

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to New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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and New England, JS answered letters he had received from “the brethren” in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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.1 The present letter, which was written by JS to William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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on 27 November 1832, may have been written in response to an earlier letter from Phelps, but no such communication has been located. The letter presented here reflects the continuing difficulties between JS and leaders in Missouri. Although JS expressed consternation about some of the leaders, he also conveyed satisfaction about Phelps’s devotion. Such praise was in stark contrast to a 31 July letter that chastised Phelps for his “cold and indifferent manner.”2
JS began the letter anticipating a question on the part of Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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. JS could imagine Phelps wondering what was to be the fate of those church members who came to Zion

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, designated Missouri as “land of promise” for gathering of Saints and place for “city of Zion,” with Independence area as “center place” of Zion. Latter-day Saint settlements elsewhere, such as in Kirtland, Ohio, became known...

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but did not “receive an inheritance by consecration” from the bishop.3

Saints were expected to “consecrate” their property to the Church of Christ and then receive property—called an “inheritance” or “stewardship”—back from the bishop. (Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:30–36]; Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:35–36].)  


Why such individuals may not have received an inheritance is unclear from JS’s letter, but Phelps discussed this subject in the November 1832 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star. After noting that a total of 810 individuals had migrated to Zion “since the gathering commenced” in 1831,4

“The Gathering,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Nov. 1832, [5].  


Phelps posed several questions, including, “Have you all fulfilled the law of the church, which saith: Behold thou shalt consecrate all thy properties, that which thou hast, unto me, with a covenant and deed that cannot be broken?”5

“To the Saints,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Nov. 1832, [6]. Phelps was quoting “the Laws of the Church of Christ,” a February 1831 revelation. John Whitmer brought a copy of the revelation to Missouri in late 1831. (Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831, in Revelation Book 1, p. 64, in JSP, MRB:99 [D&C 42:30].)  


Apparently, at least some individuals had not followed the commandment to consecrate their properties and had consequently not received an inheritance.
In writing to Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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, JS highlighted the need for the church to maintain the system of consecration in Zion

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, designated Missouri as “land of promise” for gathering of Saints and place for “city of Zion,” with Independence area as “center place” of Zion. Latter-day Saint settlements elsewhere, such as in Kirtland, Ohio, became known...

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that previous revelations had established.6

See Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:30–38]; and Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:35–36].  


He explained to Phelps that the Lord’s clerk, John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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, was to keep a “Book of the Law of God” to record the names of those who consecrated their property and received their inheritance. Individuals who did not comply with the consecration commandment were not to be listed. In this way, the church could keep an orderly record of consecration and of inheritance distributions.
Record keeping was of great concern to JS at this time. After sending Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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and Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

View Full Bio
to Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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in November 1831 with a record book containing copies of his revelations, JS purchased another record book in February or March 1832, into which he and Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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began copying revelations that had been dictated since November 1831.7

See Historical Introduction to Revelation Book 2, in JSP, MRB:408; and Whitmer, History, 38, in JSP, H2:49.  


Probably only a few months before writing this November letter to Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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, JS composed his first history, “A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience . . . and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time.”8 In his July 1832 letter to the Missouri Saints, JS instructed Phelps to remind Whitmer of the need “to keep a history of the church & the gathering.”9 Moreover, the same day that JS composed the November letter to Phelps, JS purchased a record book and began his first journal “for the purpose to keep a minute acount of all things that come under my obsevation &c.”10

JS, Journal, 1832–1834, front cover, in JSP, J1:9.  


Instructing Phelps and Whitmer about keeping a “Book of the Law of God” fits with this general pattern of maintaining records. However, if Phelps or Whitmer kept such a record at this time, it is not extant.
The original letter JS sent to Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

More Info
has not been located. JS and Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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copied it as the first letter in JS’s first letterbook, likely before sending it to Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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. The letter appears in the letterbook immediately after JS’s 1832 history, which is the first item in the book. After Phelps received the letter, he published a portion of it in the January 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star, prefacing it by saying, “In relation to consecrating, and continuing worthy, and faithful to the end, we make the following extract of a letter.” The extract commenced with the words, “It is the duty of the Lord’s clerk” and ended after quoting from Ezra 2:61–62.11

JS’s letter referenced Ezra 2:61–62 without quoting the verses, but Phelps reproduced the referenced verses in the publication. This extract was later published in the 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants as section 85. (“Let Every Man Learn His Duty,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1833, [5]; JS, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps, [Independence, MO], 27 Nov. 1832, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 1–4 [D&C 85].)  


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