27559

Letter to John Thornton and Others, 25 July 1836

in worldly fortune, improve in science and arts, rise to eminence in the eyes of the public, surmount these difficulties, so much as to bid defiance to poverty and wretchedness, it must be a new creation, a race of beings super-human. But in all their poverty and want, we have yet to learn, for the first time, that our friends are not industrious, and temperate, and wherein they have not always been the last to retaliate or resent an injury, and the first to overlook and forgive. We do not urge that there are not exceptions to be found: all communities, all societies and associations, are cumbered with disorderly and less virtuous members—members who violate in a greater or less degree the principles of the same. But this can be no just criterion by which to judge a whole society. And further still, where a people are laboring under constant fear of being dispossessed, very little inducement is held out to excite them to be industrious.
We think, gentlemen, that we have pursued this subject far enough, and we here express to you, as we have in a letter accompanying this, to our friends, our decided disapprobation to the idea of shedding blood, if any other course can be followed to avoid it; in which case, and which alone, we have urged upon our friends to desist, only in extreme cases of self-defence; and in this case not to give the offence or provoke their fellow men to acts of violence,—which we have no doubt they will observe, as they ever have. For you may rest assured, gentlemen, that we would be the last to advise our friends to shed the blood of men, or commit one act to endanger the public peace.
We have no doubt but our friends will leave your county, sooner or later,—they have not only signified the same to us, but we have advised them so to do, as fast as they can without incurring too much loss. It may be said that they have but little to lose if they lose the whole. But if they have but little, that little is their all, and the imperious demands of the helpless, urge them to make a prudent disposal of the same. And we are highly pleased with a proposition in your preamble, suffering them to remain peaceably till a disposition can be made of their land, &c. which if suffered, our fears are at once hushed, and we have every reason to believe, that during the remaining part of the residence of our friends in your county, the same feelings of friendship and kindness will continue to exist, that have heretofore, and that when they leave you, you will have no reflection of sorrow to cast, that they have been sojourners among you.
To what distance or place they will remove, we are unable to say: in this they must be dictated with judgment and prudence. They may explore the Territory of Wisconsin—they may remove there, or they may stop on the other side—of this we are unable to say; but be they where they will, we have this gratifying reflection, that they have never been the first, in an unjust manner, to violate the laws, injure their fellow men, or disturb the tranquility and peace under which any part of our country has heretofore reposed. And we cannot but believe, that ere long the public mind must undergo a change, when it will appear to the satisfaction of all that this people have been illy treated and abused without cause, and when, as justice would demand, those who have been the instigators of their sufferings will be regarded as their true characters demand.
Though our religious principles are before the world, ready for the investigation of all men, yet we are aware that the sole foundation of all the persecution against our friends, has arisen in consequence of the calumnies and misconstructions, without foundation in truth, or righteousness, in common with all other religious societies, at their first commencement; and should Providence order that we rise not as other before us, to respectability and esteem, but be trodden down by the ruthless hand of extermination, posterity will do us the justice, when our persecutors are equally low in the dust, with ourselves, to hand down to succeeding generations, the virtuous acts and forbearance of a people, who sacrificed their reputation for their religion, and their earthly fortunes and happiness, to preserve peace, and save this land from being further drenched in blood.
We have no doubt but your very seasonable mediation, in the time of so great an excitement, will accomplish your most sanguine desire, in preventing further disorder; and we hope, [p. 358]
in worldly fortune, improve in science  and arts, rise to eminence in the eyes  of the public, surmount these difficul ties, so much as to bid defiance to pov erty and wretchedness, it must be a new  creation, a race of beings super-hu man. But in all their poverty and  want, we have yet to learn, for the  first time, that our friends are not in dustrious, and temperate, and wherein  they have not always been the last to  retaliate or resent an injury, and the  first to overlook and forgive. We do  not urge that there are not exceptions  to be found: all communities, all soci eties and associations, are cumbered  with disorderly and less virtuous mem bers—members who violate in a great er or less degree the principles of the  same. But this can be no just criteri on by which to judge a whole society.  And further still, where a people are  laboring under constant fear of being  dispossessed, very little inducement is  held out to excite them to be industri ous.
We think, gentlemen, that we have  pursued this subject far enough, and  we here express to you, as we have in  a letter accompanying this, to our  friends, our decided disapprobation to  the idea of shedding blood, if any oth er course can be followed to avoid it;  in which case, and which alone, we  have urged upon our friends to desist,  only in extreme cases of self-defence;  and in this case not to give the offence  or provoke their fellow men to acts of  violence,—which we have no doubt  they will observe, as they ever have.  For you may rest assured, gentlemen,  that we would be the last to advise our  friends to shed the blood of men, or  commit one act to endanger the public  peace.
We have no doubt but our friends  will leave your county, sooner or later, —they have not only signified the same  to us, but we have advised them so to  do, as fast as they can without incur ring too much loss. It may be said  that they have but little to lose if they  lose the whole. But if they have but  little, that little is their all, and the  imperious demands of the helpless, urge  them to make a prudent disposal of the  same. And we are highly pleased  with a proposition in your preamble,  suffering them to remain peaceably till  a disposition can be made of their land,  &c. which if suffered, our fears are at  once hushed, and we have every rea son to believe, that during the remain ing part of the residence of our friends  in your county, the same feelings of  friendship and kindness will continue  to exist, that have heretofore, and that  when they leave you, you will have no  reflection of sorrow to cast, that they  have been sojourners among you.
To what distance or place they will  remove, we are unable to say: in this  they must be dictated with judgment  and prudence. They may explore the  Territory of Wisconsin—they may re move there, or they may stop on the  other side—of this we are unable to  say; but be they where they will, we  have this gratifying reflection, that they  have never been the first, in an unjust  manner, to violate the laws, injure their  fellow men, or disturb the tranquility  and peace under which any part of our  country has heretofore reposed. And  we cannot but believe, that ere long the  public mind must undergo a change,  when it will appear to the satisfaction  of all that this people have been illy  treated and abused without cause, and  when, as justice would demand, those  who have been the instigators of their  sufferings will be regarded as their true  characters demand.
Though our religious principles are  before the world, ready for the inves tigation of all men, yet we are aware  that the sole foundation of all the per secution against our friends, has ari sen in consequence of the calumnies  and misconstructions, without founda tion in truth, or righteousness, in com mon with all other religious societies,  at their first commencement; and should  Providence order that we rise not as  other before us, to respectability and  esteem, but be trodden down by the  ruthless hand of extermination, poster ity will do us the justice, when our per secutors are equally low in the dust,  with ourselves, to hand down to suc ceeding generations, the virtuous acts  and forbearance of a people, who sa crificed their reputation for their reli gion, and their earthly fortunes and  happiness, to preserve peace, and save  this land from being further drenched  in blood.
We have no doubt but your very  seasonable mediation, in the time of so  great an excitement, will accomplish  your most sanguine desire, in prevent ing further disorder; and we hope, [p. 358]
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