2476866

Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832

too many deciples arived there for the means,23

In his 28 January 1832 letter to JS, Oliver Cowdery included a statement from Partridge that “we are not in a situation to buy much more land & procure a stock of provisions & cows for those who are coming here this spring.” John Corrill later recalled that, around this time, “the church got crazy to go up to Zion, as it was then called. The rich were afraid to send up their money to purchase lands, and the poor crowded up in numbers, without having any places provided, contrary to the advice of the bishop and others.” (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Jan. 1832; Corrill, Brief History, 18–19.)  


tell brother Edward

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

View Full Bio
to remember Ananias & Sophria,24

See Acts 5:1–10.  


remember also that your own wickedness hedge up your own ways, you Suffer your children; your ignorant & unstable Sisters, & weak members who are acquainted with your evil hearts of unbelief to write wicked and discouraging letters to there reletives who have a zeal but not according to knowledge25

See Romans 10:2.  


and prophesy falsly which excites many to believe that you are putting up the Indians to slay the Gentiles

Those who were not members of the House of Israel. More specifically, members of the church identified gentiles as those whose lineage was not of the Jews or Lamanites (understood to be the American Indians in JS’s day). Certain prophecies indicated that ...

View Glossary
26

JS’s rebuke suggests that speculative predictions by individual Saints involving Book of Mormon prophecies fueled antagonism among their neighbors, endangering church members. The Book of Mormon echoes the prophecies of Micah about a time when the “remnant of Jacob”—whom church members identified as the American Indians—would tread down their Gentile adversaries.a The Book of Mormon also speaks of converted Gentiles—understood by early Mormons to be themselves—assisting the “remnant” of Book of Mormon people to build a New Jerusalem.b However, there is no evidence of significant Mormon contact with American Indians after a brief period of proselytizing among the Delaware and Shawnee Indians west of Missouri’s borders in early 1831.c  


aBook of Mormon, 1830 ed., 488, 497, 500 [3 Nephi 16:15; 20:16–17; 21:12]; Micah 5:8–9.

bBook of Mormon, 1830 ed., 501 [3 Nephi 21:23].

cJennings, “First Mormon Mission to the Indians,” 288–299.

which exposes the lives of the Saints evry where you observe that God has been merciful, very true then never forget to revere his holy name for ever, that circumstances are as well with you as they are, you requested me to preserve all the origeonal copies of the commandments

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
, my reasons for not sending the remainder, & also the Vision27

That is, the account of JS and Rigdon’s February 1832 vision of the afterlife. JS sent John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery to Independence in November 1831 with Revelation Book 1, a book containing manuscript copies of JS’s revelations. Although JS may have brought copies of revelations written after that time to Missouri in spring 1832, William W. Phelps did not yet have at least some of them, including the account of the February 1832 vision. (Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76]; Whitmer, History, 37–38; see also Revelation Book 1, pp. 128–148.)  


I think will give you satisfaction towards me I have much care and tribulation calculated to weigh down and distroy the mind and in times past they have been snatched from under my hand as soon as given I will send them to you as soon as possable, but I will exhort you to be careful not to alter the sense of any of them for he that adds or diminishes to the prophecies must come under the condemnation writen therein,28

See Revelation 22:18–19. It was recognized in a council held the previous November that there were spelling and grammar errors in the revelations.a William W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, and John Whitmer were assigned in the 30 April 1832 meeting of the Literary Firm to make corrections in the revelations as they prepared them for publication.b Such revisions, however, had limits. In 1830, JS expressed consternation when Oliver Cowdery commanded him to “erase” words in a revelation. “I asked him,” JS later recalled, “by what authority he took upon him to command me to alter, or erase, to add or diminish to or from a revelation or commandment from Almighty God.”c  


you mention concerning the translation29

That is, JS’s revision of the Bible, on which he continued to work at this time.  


I would inform you that they will not go from under my hand during my natural life for correction, revisel or printing and the will of the Lord be done therefore you need not expect them this fall, Brother Frederick

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

View Full Bio
in is employed to be a scribe for me of the Lord—30

Frederick G. Williams had apparently been performing some scribal duties since February or March 1832. When Rigdon was reprimanded and for a time removed from his official roles, Williams was given the assignment to write for JS in Rigdon’s stead, as this letter explains. (See Frederick G. Williams, Statement, no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL; see also JS History, ca. Summer 1832; and Scribal Directory, in JSP, MRB:684.)  


we have finished the translation of the New testament great and glorious things are revealed, we are making rapid strides in the old book31

That is, the Old Testament.  


and in the strength of God we can do all things according to his will the rage of the enemy is abating in this regeon of the country and while God is remembering mercy unto us and making us mighty to the pulling down the strong holds of Satan

A fallen angel, or son of God, known by many names, including Lucifer, the devil, the father of lies, the prince of darkness, perdition, and the adversary. In the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and JS’s Bible revisions, Satan was described as a tempter of men...

View Glossary
, having sent down the Angel of God to trouble the waters that a few more sick folk may be healed32

See John 5:4.  


he is streaching forth his hand in awful [p. 5]
to[o] many deciples arived there for the means,23

In his 28 January 1832 letter to JS, Oliver Cowdery included a statement from Partridge that “we are not in a situation to buy much more land & procure a stock of provisions & cows for those who are coming here this spring.” John Corrill later recalled that, around this time, “the church got crazy to go up to Zion, as it was then called. The rich were afraid to send up their money to purchase lands, and the poor crowded up in numbers, without having any places provided, contrary to the advice of the bishop and others.” (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Jan. 1832; Corrill, Brief History, 18–19.)  


tell brothe[r] Edward

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

View Full Bio
 to remember Ananias & Sophria,24

See Acts 5:1–10.  


remember also that your own wick edness hedge up your own ways, you Suffer your children; your  ignorant & unstable Sisters, & weak members who are acquainted with  your evil hearts of unbelief to write wicked and discouraging letters  to there reletives who have a zeal but <not> according to knowledge25

See Romans 10:2.  


and  prophe[s]y falsly which excites many to believe that you are put ting up the Indians to slay the Gentiles

Those who were not members of the House of Israel. More specifically, members of the church identified gentiles as those whose lineage was not of the Jews or Lamanites (understood to be the American Indians in JS’s day). Certain prophecies indicated that ...

View Glossary
26

JS’s rebuke suggests that speculative predictions by individual Saints involving Book of Mormon prophecies fueled antagonism among their neighbors, endangering church members. The Book of Mormon echoes the prophecies of Micah about a time when the “remnant of Jacob”—whom church members identified as the American Indians—would tread down their Gentile adversaries.a The Book of Mormon also speaks of converted Gentiles—understood by early Mormons to be themselves—assisting the “remnant” of Book of Mormon people to build a New Jerusalem.b However, there is no evidence of significant Mormon contact with American Indians after a brief period of proselytizing among the Delaware and Shawnee Indians west of Missouri’s borders in early 1831.c  


aBook of Mormon, 1830 ed., 488, 497, 500 [3 Nephi 16:15; 20:16–17; 21:12]; Micah 5:8–9.

bBook of Mormon, 1830 ed., 501 [3 Nephi 21:23].

cJennings, “First Mormon Mission to the Indians,” 288–299.

which exposes the lives  of the Saints evry where you observe that God has been merciful, very  true then never forget to revere his holy name for ever, that circum stances are as well with you as they are, you requested me to pre serve all the origeonal copies of the commandments

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
, my reasons  for not sending the remainder, & also the Vision27

That is, the account of JS and Rigdon’s February 1832 vision of the afterlife. JS sent John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery to Independence in November 1831 with Revelation Book 1, a book containing manuscript copies of JS’s revelations. Although JS may have brought copies of revelations written after that time to Missouri in spring 1832, William W. Phelps did not yet have at least some of them, including the account of the February 1832 vision. (Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76]; Whitmer, History, 37–38; see also Revelation Book 1, pp. 128–148.)  


I think will give  you satisfaction towards me I have much care and tribulation  calculated to weigh down and distroy the mind and in times  past they have been snatched from under my hand as soon  as given I will send them to you as soon as possable, but  I will exhort you to be careful not to alter the sense of  any of them for he that adds or diminishes to the prop[h]ecies  must come under the condemnation writen therein,28

See Revelation 22:18–19. It was recognized in a council held the previous November that there were spelling and grammar errors in the revelations.a William W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, and John Whitmer were assigned in the 30 April 1832 meeting of the Literary Firm to make corrections in the revelations as they prepared them for publication.b Such revisions, however, had limits. In 1830, JS expressed consternation when Oliver Cowdery commanded him to “erase” words in a revelation. “I asked him,” JS later recalled, “by what authority he took upon him to command me to alter, or erase, to add or diminish to or from a revelation or commandment from Almighty God.”c  


you mention  concerning the translation29

That is, JS’s revision of the Bible, on which he continued to work at this time.  


I would inform you that they  will not go from under my hand during my natural life  for correction, revisel or printing and the will of [the] Lord be done  therefore you need not expect them this fall, Brother  Frederick

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

View Full Bio
in [is] employed to be a scribe for me of the Lord—30

Frederick G. Williams had apparently been performing some scribal duties since February or March 1832. When Rigdon was reprimanded and for a time removed from his official roles, Williams was given the assignment to write for JS in Rigdon’s stead, as this letter explains. (See Frederick G. Williams, Statement, no date, Frederick G. Williams, Papers, CHL; see also JS History, ca. Summer 1832; and Scribal Directory, in JSP, MRB:684.)  


 we have finished the translation of the New testament  great and marvilous glorious things are revealed, we  are making rapid strides in the old book31

That is, the Old Testament.  


and in the  strength of God we can do all things according to his will  the rage of the enemy is abating in this regeon of the  country and while God is rem[em]bering mercy unto us  and making us mighty to the pulling down the strong  holds of Satan

A fallen angel, or son of God, known by many names, including Lucifer, the devil, the father of lies, the prince of darkness, perdition, and the adversary. In the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and JS’s Bible revisions, Satan was described as a tempter of men...

View Glossary
, having sent down the Angel of God to  trouble the waters that a few more sick folk may be  healed32

See John 5:4.  


he is streaching forth his hand in awful [p. 5]
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JS, Letter, Hiram Township

Area settled by immigrants from Pennsylvania and New England, ca. 1802. Located in northeastern Ohio about twenty-five miles southeast of Kirtland. Population in 1830 about 500. Population in 1840 about 1,100. JS lived in township at home of John and Alice...

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, OH, to William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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, “Zion

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” [Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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, Jackson Co., MO], 31 July 1832; retained copy; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

View Full Bio
; signature of JS; seven pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes docket and notations.
Two bifolia, each measuring 12⅞ × 8 inches (33 × 20 cm) when folded. The pages from the first bifolium are in reverse folder page order; the second bifolium is in leaflet page order. Pagination is in the top left corner of each inscribed page in the 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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. The letter was tri-folded in letter style. The final page bears an inscription in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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: “Copy of a letter written to Broth | William Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

View Full Bio
Zion

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, designated Missouri as “land of promise” for gathering of Saints and place for “city of Zion,” with Independence area as “center place” of Zion. Latter-day Saint settlements elsewhere, such as in Kirtland, Ohio, became known...

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| Editor of the Evening & morning Star”. A docket on the final page, “Joseph Smiths Letter | to Zion 1832,” is in the handwriting of Newel K. Whitney. Appended to this docket is “July 1831 | N. K. Whitney.” in the handwriting of Thomas Bullock

23 Dec. 1816–10 Feb. 1885. Farmer, excise officer, secretary, clerk. Born in Leek, Staffordshire, England. Son of Thomas Bullock and Mary Hall. Married Henrietta Rushton, 25 June 1838. Moved to Ardee, Co. Louth, Ireland, Nov. 1839; to Isle of Anglesey, Aug...

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. Also on the final page is a separate Bullock notation: “July 31— 1845 | N. K. Whitney handed to me”. There is soiling at folds and tearing at fold corners on the final page, obscuring the text on page 7. Ink spotting, smears, and fingerprints are found in the letter.
This version of the letter is a contemporaneous retained copy made by Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

View Full Bio
and later filed by 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...

View Full Bio
. The notation on the last page of the document indicates Whitney gave the letter to Historian’s Office clerk Thomas Bullock

23 Dec. 1816–10 Feb. 1885. Farmer, excise officer, secretary, clerk. Born in Leek, Staffordshire, England. Son of Thomas Bullock and Mary Hall. Married Henrietta Rushton, 25 June 1838. Moved to Ardee, Co. Louth, Ireland, Nov. 1839; to Isle of Anglesey, Aug...

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on 31 July 1845, the date of its receipt in the Historian’s Office.

Facts