27559

Letter to John Thornton and Others, 25 July 1836

dangerous to the welfare of your coun try, and will, if suffered among you,  cause the ties of peace and friendship,  so desirable among all men, to be burst  asunder, and bring war and desolation  upon your now pleasant homes.
Under existing circumstances, while  rumor is afloat with her accustomed  cunning, and while public opinion is  fast setting, like a flood-tide against the  members of said church, we cannot  but admire the candor with which your  preamble and resolutions were clothed,  as presented to the meeting of the citi zens of Clay county, on the 29th of  June last. Though, as you expressed  in your report to said meeting—“We  do not contend that we have the least  right, under the constitution and laws  of the country, to expel them by force,” —yet communities may be, at times,  unexpectedly thrown into a situation,  when wisdom, prudence, and that first  item in nature’s law, self-defence,  would dictate that the responsible and  influential part should step forward and  guide the public mind in a course to  save difficulty, preserve rights, and  spare the innocent blood from staining  that soil so dearly purchased with the  fortunes and lives of our fathers. And  as you have come forward as “media tors,” to prevent the effusion of blood,  and save disasters consequent upon  civil war, we take this opportunity to  present to you, though strangers, and  through you, if you wish, to the people  of Clay county, our heart-felt gratitude  for every kindness rendered our friends  in affliction, when driven from their  peaceful homes, and to yourselves, al so, for the prudent course in the pre sent excited state of your community.  But, in doing this, justice to ourselves,  as communicants of that church to  which our friends belong, and duty to wards them as acquaintances and for mer fellow citizens, require us to say  something to exonerate them from the  foul charges brought against them, to  deprive them of their constitutional pri vileges, and drive them from the face  of society:
They have been charged, in conse quence of the whims and vain notions  of some few uninformed, with claiming  that upper country, and that ere long  they were to possess it, at all hazards,  and in defiance of all consequences.— This is unjust and far from a founda tion, in truth. A thing not expected,  not looked for, not desired by this so ciety, as a people, and where the idea  could have originated is unknown to  us—We do not, neither did we ever  insinuate a thing of this kind, or hear  it from the leading men of the society,  now in your country. There is no thing in all our religious faith to war rant it, but on the contrary, the most  strict injunctions to live in obedience  to the laws, and follow peace with all  men. And we doubt not, but a recur rence to the Jackson county difficulties,  with our friends, will fully satisfy you,  that at least, heretofore, such has been  the course followed by them. That  instead of fighting for their own rights,  they have sacrificed them for a season,  to wait the redress guaranteed in the  law, and so anxiously looked for at a  time distant from this. We have been,  & are still, clearly under the conviction,  that had our friends been disposed,  they might have maintained their pos sessions in Jackson county. They  might have resorted to the same bar barous means with their neighbors,  throwing down dwellings, threatening  lives, driving innocent women and  children from their homes, and there by have annoyed their enemies equal ly, at least—But, this to their credit,  and which must ever remain upon the  pages of time, to their honor, they did  not. They had possessions, they had  homes, they had sacred rights, and  more still, they had helpless harmless  innocence, with an approving con science that they had violated no law  of their country or their God, to urge  them forward—But, to show to all that  they were willing to forego these for  the peace of their country, they tamely  submitted, and have since been wan derers among strangers, (though hos pitable,) without homes. We think  these sufficient reasons, to show to  your patriotic minds, that our friends,  instead of having a wish to expel a  community by force of arms, would  suffer their rights to be taken from  them before shedding blood.
Another charge brought against our  friends is that of being dangerous in  societies “where slavery is tolerated  and practiced.” Without occupying  time here, we refer you to the April  (1836) No. of the “Latter Day Saints’  Messenger and Advocate,” printed at  this place, a copy of which we forward  to each of you. From the length of [p. 356]
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JS, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, Frederick G. Williams, and Hyrum Smith, letter, Kirtland, OH, to John Thornton, Peter Rogers, Andrew Robertson, James T. V. Thompson, William T. Wood, Woodson J. Moss, James Hughs, David R. Atchison, and Alexander Doniphan, Clay County, MO, 25 July 1836; Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Aug. 1836, pp. 355–359.

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