27621

Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 23 May 1837

Kirtland, May 23, 1837.
Pres’t J Smith Jr Deare Brother  as it is dificult to obtain a personal  interview with you at all times By rea son of the multitude of Buisiness in  which you are engaged you will Excuse  my saying In writing what I would  otherwise say By word of mouth.
Haveing Long Pondered the Path in  which we as a people have been led in  regard to our temporal management, I  have at Length Become fully convinced  that the whole scene of Speculation in  which we have Been Engaged is of the  Devel; I allude to the covetous Extor tionary Speculating Spirit which has  reigned in this place for the Last season;  which Has given rise to Lying deceive ing and takeing the advantage of ones  Nabour and In Short to Every Eavle  work:
And Being as fully convinced that  you and President [Sidney] Rigdon; Both By  presept and Example have Been the  principle means In Leading this people  astray in these particulars and haveing  myself Been Led astray and Caught in  the same snare By your Example and  By false Prophesying and preaching  from your mouths; yea haveing done  many things Rong and plunged my self and family and others well nigh  in to distruction, I have awoke to an  awful sense of my situation and now  resolve to retrace my steps, and to get  out of the snare and make restitution  as far as I can And now Dear Brother  If you are still determined to persue  this wicked course untill your self and  the Church shall sink down to hell; I  Beseach you at least to have mercy on  me and my family and others who are  Bound with me for those certain 3  lots which you sold to me at the Extor tionary price of $2;000 which never  cost you $1:00; for if It stands against  me it will rewin [ruin] Myself and a helpless  family as well as those Bound with me  for yesterday Pres’t Rigdon came  to me and Informed me that you had  drawn the money from the Bank on the  obligation you hold against me and  that you had Left it to the mercy of the  Bank and could not help what ever  course they might take to collect it:  notwithstanding the most sacred prom ise on your part that I should not Be  ingured [injured] By giveing these writings; I  offered him the 3 lots for the writ ings But he wanted my house and  home also; now deare Brother will you  take those Lots and give me up the writ ings and pay me the seventy-five dollars  which I paid you on the same or will you  taake the advantage of your Nabour Be cause he is in your Power if you will  receive this admonition from one who  Loves your Soul and repent of your Ex tortion and covetiousness in this thing,  and make restitution you have my fel lowship and Esteem as far as it respects  our dealings Between ourselves; But if  not I Shall Be under the painful neces sity of prefering charges against you,  for Extortion, covetousness, and takeing  advantage of your Brother By an undue  religious influence for it is this kind of  influence which Led us to make such  kind of trades, in this society, such as  saying it was the will of God that Lands  Should Bear such a price and many  other Prophesyings Preachings and  Statements of a like nature.
Yours with respect,
P. S. Do not suppose for a mo ment that I Lack any Confidence in the  Book of Mormons or Doctrine and  Covenants Nay It is my firm belief in  those Records that hinders my Belief  In the course we have Been Led of  Late. [p. 4]
Parley P. Pratt, one of the original Twelve Apostles ordained in 1835, became upset with JS and Sidney Rigdon during the 1837 economic crisis in Kirtland, Ohio. He presented his concerns in a personal letter to JS that was not intended for public circulation. Pratt charged JS and with fostering a spirit of speculation and with falsely prophesying that land values would remain high. Pratt further accused JS of extortion for selling land to Pratt at what he felt was a greatly inflated price. More particularly, Pratt sought redress regarding the impending loss of his home and property to the Kirtland Safety Society Bank, a circumstance for which he held JS personally responsible.
Early in 1838, Warren Parrish, JS’s estranged clerk and former secretary of the Kirtland Safety Society, sent Pratt’s letter to the New York Wesleyan Society’s weekly publication, Zion’s Watchman, edited by LaRoy Sunderland and Timothy Merritt. The letter appeared in the March 1838 edition. Later that year, it was again published by Richard Livesey, a Methodist Episcopal minister in Britain, in his pamphlet An Exposure of Mormonism.
In the August 1838 issue of Elders’ Journal, Pratt claimed that his letter as published in Zion’s Watchman had been altered and that it misrepresented his intentions. Pratt acknowledged he wrote the letter in “great severity and harshness” and “much regretted having written it.” He affirmed his full confidence in the Book of Mormon, the revelations, and the integrity of JS and Sidney Rigdon.
The original letter has not been located. In 1888, Arthur B. Deming reprinted what he purported to be “an exact copy of the original” in Naked Truths about Mormonism. The 1888 version included a postscript omitted in 1838 and other significant differences with the Zion’s Watchman version in terms of spelling and punctuation. It is Deming’s text that is featured here even though its fidelity to the original cannot be independently verified.

Facts