27538

Letter to Oliver Cowdery, circa April 1836

For the Messenger and Advocate.
Brother Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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Dear Sir—This place having recently been visited by a gentleman who advocated the principles 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 sentiments I believe, as an individual, and am able to say, from personal knowledge, 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 consequence, in one respect, of many elders having gone into the Southern States, besides, there now being many in that country who have already embraced the fulness of the gospel, as revealed 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 servants of the Lord, by stiring up the indignation 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 disturbances, leaving the impression that all he said was concurred in, and received as gospel and the word of salvation. 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 because they will not renounce the principle 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 community of people who might peradventure, 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 capable 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 the latter would first learn this fact. If the fact was learned first by those immediately concerned, who would be more capable 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 many 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 freedom 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 reside in the South, who are immediately concerned, and until they complain, and call 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 condition? 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 ever be to the slave for persons to run over the free states, and excite indignation against their masters in the minds of thousands and tens of thousands who understand nothing relative [p. [289]]
For the Messenger and Advocate.
Brother O[liver] Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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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]]
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JS, Letter, 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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, OH, to Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
, 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
, OH, ca. Apr. 1836; Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1836, pp. 289–291.

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