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Selections from Elders’ Journal, August 1838

Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

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Mo. August, 1838.
TO THE PUBLIC.
Whereas a certain letter has been published in the Zions Watchman. (and perhaps in other prints) derogatory of the character of Presidents J. Smith Jr. and 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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, purporting to come from me, I take this opportunity to correct the public mind concerning the matter.
Firstly, the letter as it stands in print, is not a true copy of the one I wrote: but is altered, so as to convey a different idea from the original.
But this much I acknowledge freely; that I did write a letter in great severity and harshness, censuring them both, in regard to certain business transactions but at the same time expressing my entire confidence in the faith of the church of Latter Day Saints the book of Mormon Doctrine and Covenants; this letter was written under feelings of excitement, and during the most peculiar trials. I did not however believe at the time and never have believed at any time before, or since, that these men were dishonest or had wrong motives or intentions, in any of their undertakings, either temporal or spiritual; I have ever esteemed them from my first acquaintance, as men of God, and as mighty instruments in his hands to bring forth, establish, and roll on the kingdom of God. But I considered them like other men, and as the prophets and apostles of old liable to errors, and nistakes, in things which were not inspired from heaven; but managed by their own judgement.
This letter was intended as a private admonition, it was never intended to be made public. But I have been long convinced, and have freely acknowledged both to these men and the public, that it was not calculated to admonish them in the spirit of meekness, to do them good, but rather to injure them and wound their feelings, and that I much regreted having written it, I have asked their forgiveness, and I hereby do it again. I no longer censure them for any thing that is past, but I censure myself for rashness, excitement imprudence, and many faults which I would [p. 50]
Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

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Mo. August, 1838.
TO THE PUBLIC.
Whereas a certain letter has been publish ed in the Zions Watchman. (and perhaps in  other prints) derogatory of the character of  Presidents J. Smith Jr. and S[idney] 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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, pur porting to come from me, I take this oppor tunity to correct the public mind concerning  the matter.
Firstly, the letter as it stands in print, is  not a true copy of the one I wrote: but is  altered, so as to convey a different idea from  the original.
But this much I acknowledge freely; that  I did write a letter in great severity and harsh ness, censuring them both, in regard to cer tain business transactions but at the same time  expressing my entire confidence in the faith  of the church of Latter Day Saints the book  of Mormon Doctrine and Covenants; this  letter was written under feelings of excite ment, and during the most peculiar trials. I  did not however believe at the time and never  have believed at any time before, or since,  that these men were dishonest or had wrong  motives or intentions, in any of their under takings, either temporal or spiritual; I have  ever esteemed them from my first acquaint ance, as men of God, and as mighty instru ments in his hands to bring forth, establish,  and roll on the kingdom of God. But I con sidered them like other men, and as the pro phets and apostles of old liable to errors, and  nistakes, in things which were not inspired  from heaven; but managed by their own  judgement.
This letter was intended as a private admo nition, it was never intended to be made  public. But I have been long convinced, and  have freely acknowledged both to these men  and the public, that it was not calculated to  admonish them in the spirit of meekness, to  do them good, but rather to injure them and  wound their feelings, and that I much regret ed having written it, I have asked their for giveness, and I hereby do it again. I no lon ger censure them for any thing that is past,  but I censure myself for rashness, excitement  imprudence, and many faults which I would [p. 50]
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In the final issue of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, dated September 1837, a prospectus appeared announcing the forthcoming publication of the Elders’ Journal of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The following month, the first issue of the new paper appeared. The short-lived newspaper ran only four issues—two in 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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, Ohio, dated October and November 1837; and two in Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

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, Missouri, dated July and August 1838. For the two Far West issues, the title of the paper was changed to Elders’ Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. JS is listed as editor for each of the four issues, with Thomas B. Marsh

1 Nov. 1800–Jan. 1866. Farmer, hotel worker, waiter, horse groom, grocer, type foundry worker, teacher. Born at Acton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of James Marsh and Molly Law. Married first Elizabeth Godkin, 1 Nov. 1820, at New York City. Moved to ...

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listed as proprietor or publisher. It is unknown how labor was divided on the newspaper or how much immediate responsibility JS had for the content. The paper presumably would have continued with additional issues in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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had it not been for the escalating violence between Mormons and non-Mormons in late 1838, which culminated in the Mormons being driven from the state. After settling at Commerce

Located near middle of western boundary of state, bordering Mississippi River. European Americans settled area, 1820s. From bank of river, several feet above high-water mark, ground described as nearly level for six or seven blocks before gradually sloping...

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, Illinois, the Saints began publishing a new paper, the Times and Seasons—though explicitly not as a successor to the Elders’ Journal.
Because of JS’s involvement as editor of the Elders’ Journal, the Joseph Smith Papers will publish the significant editorial content from each issue as a collection of documents. Some of the individual items are signed “Ed[itor]” while others are not. Each of these collections is titled “Selections from Elders’ Journal” and dated with the month and year of publication for the issue.

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