26098

Letter to Martin Harris, 22 February 1831

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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Febr. 22nd 1831
Brother Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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I send you this to inform you that it is necessary for you to come here as soon as you can in order to choose a place which may be best adapted to the circumstances of yourself and breatheren in the east to settle on as you may choose any place which may best suit yourselves any where in this part of the country so as to be as compact as possable1

A 9 February 1831 revelation mentioned the importance of emigrating church members “obtaining places that they may be together as much as can be” and directed that “every Church Shall be organized in as close bodies as they can be.” JS may have intended that members from both the Palmyra/Manchester and Colesville areas in New York maintain their existing communities by settling in separate compact groups once they arrived in Ohio. The members from Colesville, who arrived in Ohio in May 1831, settled together in Thompson on land offered by Leman Copley for that purpose. (Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:1–72]; see also Porter, “Study of the Origins,” 296–311; and Historical Introduction to Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51].)  


and as you will be better able to make a choice than we it is better for you to come before the rest of the breathren that when they come they may have places to go to2

After traveling to Ohio, Martin Harris returned to New York for a brief period. In May 1831, according to a New York newspaper account, he was among “several families, numbering about fifty souls” who had left “for the ‘promised land.’” (“Mormon Emigration,” Wayne Sentinel [Palmyra, NY], 27 May 1831, [3].)  


you will also bring or cause to be brought all the books,3

That is, copies of the Book of Mormon in Harris’s possession.  


as the work is here breaking forth on the east west north and south, you will also inform the Elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
which are there that all of them who can be spared will come here without delay if possable this by Commandment

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 as he has a great work for them all in this our inheritence.4

Although a September 1830 revelation declared that the promised city of Zion would be built “among the Lamanites,” a 2 January 1831 revelation promised the New York members a “land of promise” for their “inheritance” and commanded them to “go to the Ohio.” Sidney Rigdon wrote from New York to his associates back in Ohio: “The Lord has made known unto us, some of his great things which he has laid up for them that love him, among which the fact (a glory of wonders it is) that you are living on the land of promise, and that there is the place of gathering . . . and [God] has given it to us and our children, not only while time lasts, but we shall have it again in eternity, as you will see by one of the commandments, received day before yesterday.” In contrast, an April 1831 letter from Thomas B. Marsh to his sister and her husband conveyed a belief that the movement from New York to Ohio was a temporary one and that the location of the New Jerusalem was yet to be revealed. Marsh wrote: “The Lord caleth for all to repent & take upon them the name of Ch[rist] & assemble at Ohio speedely & thare our Hevenly Father will tell us what we shall next do, perhaps it will be to take our march to the Grand preraras [prairies] in the Missouri teretori [territory] or to the shining mountains which is 1500 or 2000 miles west from us how soon this will be we do not know in fact we know nothing of what we are to do save it be reveild [revealed] to us but this we know a City will be built in the promised Land.” (Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28:9]; Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:18–20, 32]; Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 111, italics in original; Thomas B. Marsh and Elizabeth Godkin Marsh to Lewis Abbott and Ann Marsh Abbott, [ca. 11 Apr. 1831], Abbott Family Collection, CHL.)  


We have received the laws of the Kingdom5

Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:1–72].)  


since we came here and the Disciples in these parts have received them gladly. You will see that Father Smith

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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s family are taken care of and sent on You will send to Colesville

Area settled, beginning 1785. Formed from Windsor Township, Apr. 1821. Population in 1830 about 2,400. Villages within township included Harpursville, Nineveh, and Colesville. Susquehanna River ran through eastern portion of township. JS worked for Joseph...

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and have either Hiram Hyrum Smith

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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or Newel Knight

13 Sept. 1800–11 Jan. 1847. Miller, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Knight Sr. and Polly Peck. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, ca. 1809. Moved to Windsor (later in Colesville), Broome Co., New...

View Full Bio
to come immediatly or both if they can be spared.6

Just over a week later, JS wrote to Hyrum Smith, urging him to come to Ohio and, if possible, to bring their father with him. (Letter to Hyrum Smith, 3–4 Mar. 1831.)  


You will not sell the books for less than 10 Shillings7

A shilling was a New York state regionalism meaning twelve and one-half cents. Thus, Martin Harris was being told not to sell copies of the Book of Mormon for less than $1.25, which was approximately twice as much as an entire day’s wage for a common laborer at the time. Harris, who in 1829 mortgaged his farm to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon, had made a legal agreement with JS to receive proceeds from the sales of the books equal to his investment. According to a later account by Henry Harris, the original price for the Book of Mormon, fourteen shillings or $1.75, was set by revelation. Martin Harris later told Henry Harris that another revelation later reduced the price to ten shillings. JS’s final remark in this letter to Martin Harris may have been the basis of Martin’s conversation with Henry. Pomeroy Tucker, in his later criticism of Martin Harris’s pecuniary interest in the Book of Mormon, also claimed that Harris had been told through revelation that “the new Bible should in no instance be sold at a less price than ‘ten shillings.’” (“Shilling,” in American Dictionary; Margo, Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 67, table 3A.5; Wright, Industrial Evolution of the United States, 217; Agreement with Martin Harris, 16 Jan. 1830; Henry Harris, Affidavit, Cuyahoga Co., OH, [ca. Nov. 1833], in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 251–252; Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 55.)  


Joseph Smith Jr [p. [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...

More Info
Febr. 22nd 1831
Brother Martin [Harris]

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

View Full Bio
I send you this to inform you that  it is nec[e]ssary for you to come here as soon as you can  in order to choose a place which may be best adapted  to the circumstances of yourself and breatheren in the east  to settle on as you may choose any place which may best  suit yourselves any where in this part of the country so  as to be as compact as possable1

A 9 February 1831 revelation mentioned the importance of emigrating church members “obtaining places that they may be together as much as can be” and directed that “every Church Shall be organized in as close bodies as they can be.” JS may have intended that members from both the Palmyra/Manchester and Colesville areas in New York maintain their existing communities by settling in separate compact groups once they arrived in Ohio. The members from Colesville, who arrived in Ohio in May 1831, settled together in Thompson on land offered by Leman Copley for that purpose. (Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:1–72]; see also Porter, “Study of the Origins,” 296–311; and Historical Introduction to Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51].)  


and as you will be  better capable of able to make a choice choice than we  it is better for you to come before the rest of the breath ren that when they come they may have places to go to2

After traveling to Ohio, Martin Harris returned to New York for a brief period. In May 1831, according to a New York newspaper account, he was among “several families, numbering about fifty souls” who had left “for the ‘promised land.’” (“Mormon Emigration,” Wayne Sentinel [Palmyra, NY], 27 May 1831, [3].)  


 you will also bring or cause to <be> brought all the  books,3

That is, copies of the Book of Mormon in Harris’s possession.  


as the work is here breaking forth on the east  west north and south, you will also inform the Elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
 which are there that all of them who can be spared  will come here without delay if possable this by  Commandment

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 as he has a great work  for them all in this our inheritence.4

Although a September 1830 revelation declared that the promised city of Zion would be built “among the Lamanites,” a 2 January 1831 revelation promised the New York members a “land of promise” for their “inheritance” and commanded them to “go to the Ohio.” Sidney Rigdon wrote from New York to his associates back in Ohio: “The Lord has made known unto us, some of his great things which he has laid up for them that love him, among which the fact (a glory of wonders it is) that you are living on the land of promise, and that there is the place of gathering . . . and [God] has given it to us and our children, not only while time lasts, but we shall have it again in eternity, as you will see by one of the commandments, received day before yesterday.” In contrast, an April 1831 letter from Thomas B. Marsh to his sister and her husband conveyed a belief that the movement from New York to Ohio was a temporary one and that the location of the New Jerusalem was yet to be revealed. Marsh wrote: “The Lord caleth for all to repent & take upon them the name of Ch[rist] & assemble at Ohio speedely & thare our Hevenly Father will tell us what we shall next do, perhaps it will be to take our march to the Grand preraras [prairies] in the Missouri teretori [territory] or to the shining mountains which is 1500 or 2000 miles west from us how soon this will be we do not know in fact we know nothing of what we are to do save it be reveild [revealed] to us but this we know a City will be built in the promised Land.” (Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28:9]; Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:18–20, 32]; Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 111, italics in original; Thomas B. Marsh and Elizabeth Godkin Marsh to Lewis Abbott and Ann Marsh Abbott, [ca. 11 Apr. 1831], Abbott Family Collection, CHL.)  


We have received the laws of the Kingdom5

Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:1–72].)  


since we came  here and the Disciples in these parts have received them  gladly. You will see that old Father Smith

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

View Full Bio
s family  are taken care of and sent on You will send to  Colesville

Area settled, beginning 1785. Formed from Windsor Township, Apr. 1821. Population in 1830 about 2,400. Villages within township included Harpursville, Nineveh, and Colesville. Susquehanna River ran through eastern portion of township. JS worked for Joseph...

More Info
and have either Hiram [Hyrum Smith]

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

View Full Bio
or Newel [Knight]

13 Sept. 1800–11 Jan. 1847. Miller, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Knight Sr. and Polly Peck. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, ca. 1809. Moved to Windsor (later in Colesville), Broome Co., New...

View Full Bio
to come  immediatly or both if they can be spared.6

Just over a week later, JS wrote to Hyrum Smith, urging him to come to Ohio and, if possible, to bring their father with him. (Letter to Hyrum Smith, 3–4 Mar. 1831.)  


You will not sell the books for less than 10 Shillings7

A shilling was a New York state regionalism meaning twelve and one-half cents. Thus, Martin Harris was being told not to sell copies of the Book of Mormon for less than $1.25, which was approximately twice as much as an entire day’s wage for a common laborer at the time. Harris, who in 1829 mortgaged his farm to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon, had made a legal agreement with JS to receive proceeds from the sales of the books equal to his investment. According to a later account by Henry Harris, the original price for the Book of Mormon, fourteen shillings or $1.75, was set by revelation. Martin Harris later told Henry Harris that another revelation later reduced the price to ten shillings. JS’s final remark in this letter to Martin Harris may have been the basis of Martin’s conversation with Henry. Pomeroy Tucker, in his later criticism of Martin Harris’s pecuniary interest in the Book of Mormon, also claimed that Harris had been told through revelation that “the new Bible should in no instance be sold at a less price than ‘ten shillings.’” (“Shilling,” in American Dictionary; Margo, Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 67, table 3A.5; Wright, Industrial Evolution of the United States, 217; Agreement with Martin Harris, 16 Jan. 1830; Henry Harris, Affidavit, Cuyahoga Co., OH, [ca. Nov. 1833], in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 251–252; Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 55.)  


Signature of JS.  


Joseph Smith Jr [p. [1]]
Next
JS, Letter, Kirtland Township

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
, OH, to Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

View Full Bio
, Palmyra

First permanent white settlers arrived, ca. 1789. Included village of Palmyra. Erie Canal opened, 1825, in southern portion of township. Population in 1810 about 2,200. Population in 1830 about 3,400. Home of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family, beginning...

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, NY, 22 Feb. 1831; sent copy; handwriting of Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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; signature of JS; one page; JS Collection, CHL.
Single unlined leaf measuring 11¾ × 8 inches (30 × 20 cm). Includes address in handwriting of Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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and postal markings in handwriting of 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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on verso. Folding and evidence of a wax or wafer seal (now missing) indicate this letter is the sent copy. Because virtually all of Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

View Full Bio
’s papers are nonextant, the existence of this letter is unusual. The letter was probably kept by someone other than Harris from an early time. Given the pattern of other surviving manuscripts in the Knight family, it is possible that Harris, following instructions in the letter, forwarded this letter to Newel Knight

13 Sept. 1800–11 Jan. 1847. Miller, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Knight Sr. and Polly Peck. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge), Chenango Co., New York, ca. 1809. Moved to Windsor (later in Colesville), Broome Co., New...

View Full Bio
whose family then preserved the letter. The letter was copied into the Journal History, indicating that it was likely at the Historian’s Office sometime in the beginning of the twentieth century.1

Historical Department, Journal History of the Church, 22 Feb. 1831; see also Bergera, “Commencement of Great Things,” 23–39.  


Facts