Letter to Oliver Cowdery, circa April 1836

For the Messenger and Advocate.
Dear Sir—This  place having recently been visited by  a gentleman who advocated the prin ciples or doctrines of those who are  called abolitionists; if you deem the  following reflections of any service,  or think they will have a tendency to  correct the opinions of the southern  public, relative to the views and senti ments I believe, as an individual, and  am able to say, from personal knowl edge, are the feelings of others, you  are at liberty to give them publicity in  the columns of the Advocate. I am  prompted to this course in conse quence, in one respect, of many el ders having gone into the Southern  States, besides, there now being many  in that country who have already em braced the fulness of the gospel, as re vealed through the book of Mormon,— having learned, by experience, that  the enemy of truth does not slumber,  nor cease his exertions to bias the  minds of communities against the ser vants of the Lord, by stiring up the in dignation of men upon all matters of  importance or interest.
Thinking, perhaps, that the sound  might go out, that “an abolitionist”  had held forth several times to this  community, and that the public feeling  was not aroused to create mobs or dis turbances, leaving the impression that  all he said was concurred in, and re ceived as gospel and the word of sal vation. I am happy to say, that no  violence or breach of the public peace  was attempted, so far from this, that  all except a very few, attended to their  own avocations and left the gentleman  to hold forth his own arguments to  nearly naked walls.
I am aware, that many who profess  to preach the gospel, complain against  their brethren of the same faith, who  reside in the south, and are ready to  withdraw the hand of fellowship be cause they will not renounce the prin ciple of slavery and raise their voice  against every thing of the kind. This  must be a tender point, and one which  should call forth the candid reflection  of all men, and especially before they  advance in an opposition calculated to  lay waste the fair States of the South,  and set loose, upon the world a com munity of people who might peradven ture, overrun our country and violate  the most sacred principles of human  society,—chastity and virtue.
No one will pretend to say, that the  people of the free states are as capa ble of knowing the evils of slavery as  those who hold them. If slavery is an  evil, who, could we expect, would first  learn it? Would the people of the  free states, or would the slave states?  All must readily admit, that th[e] latter  would first learn this fact. If the fact  was learned first by those immediately  concerned, who would be more capa ble than they of prescribing a remedy?
And besides, are not those who hold  slaves, persons of ability, discernment  and candor? Do they not expect to  give an account at the bar of God for  their conduct in this life? It may, no  doubt, with propriety be said, that ma ny who hold slaves live without the  fear of God before their eyes, and,  the same may be said of many in the  free states. Then who is to be the  judge in this matter?
So long, then, as those of the free  states are not interested in the free dom of the slaves, any other than upon  the mere principles of equal rights and  of the gospel, and are ready to admit  that there are men of piety who re side in the South, who are immediate ly concerned, and until they complain,  and ca[l]l for assistance, why not cease  their clamor, and no further urge the  slave to acts of murder, and the master  to vigorous discipline, rendering both  miserable, and unprepared to pursue  that course which might otherwise  lead them both to better their condi tion? I do not believe that the people  of the North have any more right to  say that the South shall not hold  slaves, than the South have to say the  North shall.
And further, what benefit will it ev er be to the slave for persons to run  over the free states, and excite indig nation against their masters in the  minds of thousands and tens of thou sands who understand nothing relative [p. [289]]
JS, letter, Kirtland, OH, to Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, ca. Apr. 1836; Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1836, pp. 289–291.