2478323

Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 January 1833

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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4th. Jany. 1833—
Mr. Editor Sir

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

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,
Considering the Liberal prisciples principles upon which your interesting and valuable paper is published1

The nameplate of the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer proclaimed that it was “DEDICATED TO THE INTERESTS OF ZION GENERALLY, AND ESPECIALLY TO REVIVALS OF RELIGION.” Two weeks before Noah C. Saxton published JS’s letter, the newspaper printed commentary on an article from the Cincinnati Journal about Mormonism in that city. Among other things, the commentary referred to the “ignorant and fanatical” state of Mormon converts, the “arch devices of Mormon leaders,” the “abominable absurdities of Mormonism,” and the “wild vagaries of Mormonism.” (American Revivalist, and Rochester [NY] Observer, 29 Sept. 1832, [1]; “Mormonism in Cincinnati, Ohio,” American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer, 19 Jan. 1833, [1].)  


and myself being a subscriber and feeling a deep intrist in the cause of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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and in the happiness of my brethren of mankind I cheerfully take up my pen to contribute my mite at this every very interesting and important period
For some length of time I have been carefully viewing the state of things as now appear throughout our christian Land and have looked at it with feelings of the most painful anxiety while upon the one hand beholding the manifeste withdrawal of Gods holy Spirit and the vail of stupidity3

“Insensibility”; “dullness of perception or understanding.” (“Stupidity,” in American Dictionary [1845], 801.)  


which seems to be drawn over the hearts of the people and upon the other hand beholding the Judgments of God that have swept and are still sweeping hundreds and thousands of our race (and I fear unprepared) down to the shades of death4

An article in the 17 November 1832 American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer similarly portrayed the cholera epidemic as “God’s judgment” and a “pestilence” sent to “check the ardor of the surviving in their pursuit of the world.” The September 1832 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star also depicted the epidemic as a result of God’s judgment, declaring, “Not since the flood, if we think right, has the Lord sent the same pestilence, or destruction, over the whole earth at once: But the Cholera, which has swept its thousands in Asia, Africa, Europe and America, gives a solemn token to a wondering world, that it will do so.” (“How Has the Cholera Affected Rochester?,” American Revivalist, and Rochester [NY] Observer, 17 Nov. 1832, [1]; “The Cholera,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Sept. 1832, [1].)  


with this solemn and alarming fact before me I am led to exclaim “O that my head were waters and mine eyes a fountain of tears that I might weep day and night &c,”5

Jeremiah 9:1.  


I think that it is high time for a christian world to awake out of sleep6

See Romans 13:11.  


and cry mightely to that God7

See Jonah 3:8; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 180 [Mosiah 11:25].  


day and night whose anger we have Justly incured. Are not these things a sufficient stimulant to arouse the faculties and call forth the energies of evry man woman and child that poseses feeling of sympathy for his fellows or that is in any degree endeared to the budding cause of our glorious Lord; I leave an inteligent community to answer this important question with a confession that this is what has caused me to overlook my own inability and expose my weakness to a learned world8

JS apologized to his wife Emma in June 1832 for his “inability in convaying my ideas in writing.” (Letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832.)  


but trusting in that God. who has said these things are hid from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes9

See Matthew 11:25; and Luke 10:21.  


I step forth into the field to tell you what the Lord is doing and what you must do to enjoy the smiles of your saviour in these last days—— The time has at last arived when the God of Abraham of Isaac and of Jacob has set his hand again the seccond time to recover the remnants of his people which have [p. 14]
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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4th. Jany. 1833—
Mr. Editor Sir

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

View Full Bio
,
Considering the Liberal prisciples [principles] upon which  your interesting and valuable paper is published1

The nameplate of the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer proclaimed that it was “DEDICATED TO THE INTERESTS OF ZION GENERALLY, AND ESPECIALLY TO REVIVALS OF RELIGION.” Two weeks before Noah C. Saxton published JS’s letter, the newspaper printed commentary on an article from the Cincinnati Journal about Mormonism in that city. Among other things, the commentary referred to the “ignorant and fanatical” state of Mormon converts, the “arch devices of Mormon leaders,” the “abominable absurdities of Mormonism,” and the “wild vagaries of Mormonism.” (American Revivalist, and Rochester [NY] Observer, 29 Sept. 1832, [1]; “Mormonism in Cincinnati, Ohio,” American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer, 19 Jan. 1833, [1].)  


and  myself being a subscriber and feeling a deep intrist  in the cause of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

View Glossary
and in the happiness of my brethren  of mankind I cheerfully take up my pen to contribute  my mite at this every [very] interesting and important period
For some length of time I have  been car[e]fully viewing the state of things as now appear  throug[h]out our christian Land and have looked at it  with feelings of the most painful anxiety while upon  the one hand beholding the manifested2

TEXT: “d” smudged out.  


withdrawal of Gods  holy Spirit and the vail of stupidity3

“Insensibility”; “dullness of perception or understanding.” (“Stupidity,” in American Dictionary [1845], 801.)  


which seems to  be drawn over the hearts of the people and upon the  other hand beholding the Judgments of God that have swept and  are still sweeping hundreds and thousands of our race (and I fear  unprepared) down to the shades of death4

An article in the 17 November 1832 American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer similarly portrayed the cholera epidemic as “God’s judgment” and a “pestilence” sent to “check the ardor of the surviving in their pursuit of the world.” The September 1832 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star also depicted the epidemic as a result of God’s judgment, declaring, “Not since the flood, if we think right, has the Lord sent the same pestilence, or destruction, over the whole earth at once: But the Cholera, which has swept its thousands in Asia, Africa, Europe and America, gives a solemn token to a wondering world, that it will do so.” (“How Has the Cholera Affected Rochester?,” American Revivalist, and Rochester [NY] Observer, 17 Nov. 1832, [1]; “The Cholera,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Sept. 1832, [1].)  


with this solemn and alarming  fact before me I am led to exclaim [“]O that my head were waters and  mine ey[e]s a fountain of tears that I might weep day and night &c,”5

Jeremiah 9:1.  


 I think that it is high time for a christian world to awake out of sleep6

See Romans 13:11.  


 and cry mightely to that God7

See Jonah 3:8; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 180 [Mosiah 11:25].  


day and night whose anger we have  Justly incured. Are not these things a sufficient stimulant to  arouse the faculties and call forth the energies of evry man  woman and child that poseses feeling of sympathy for his fellow[s] or  that is in any degree endeared to the bud[d]ing cause of our  glorious Lord; I leave an inteligent community to answer  this important question with a confession that this is what  has caused me to overlook my own inability and expose my  weakness to a learned world8

JS apologized to his wife Emma in June 1832 for his “inability in convaying my ideas in writing.” (Letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832.)  


but trusting in that God. who has said  these things are hid from the wise and prudent and reve[a]led unto babes9

See Matthew 11:25; and Luke 10:21.  


 I step forth into the field to tell you what the Lord is doing and  what you must do to enjoy the smiles of your saviour in these  last day[s]—— The time has at last come arived when the  Gods of Abraham of Isaac and of Jacob has set his hand again  the seccond time to recover the remnants of his people which have [p. 14]
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On 4 January 1833, JS wrote a letter to a newspaper editor identified in the inside address as “N. E. Sextan” of Rochester

Located at falls of Genesee River, seven miles south of Lake Ontario, on Erie Canal. Founded 1812. Incorporated as village, 1817. Originally called Rochesterville; name changed to Rochester, 1822. Incorporated as city, 1834. County seat. Population in 1820...

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, Monroe County, New York. Less than a month later, the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer, edited by Noah C. Saxton

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

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, published a portion of JS’s letter, indicating that Saxton was the intended recipient.1

“Mormonism,” American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer, 2 Feb. 1833, [2]. Saxton was previously the editor of the New York Evangelist, which was consolidated with the Rochester Observer in 1832. The Rochester Observer began in 1827 as a Presbyterian newspaper; by the end of 1832, it had three thousand subscribers. It was known as the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer from 29 September 1832 to 13 July 1833. (See French, Gazetteer of the State of New York, 396; Norton, “Comparative Images,” 359, 361.)  


The American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer was a weekly evangelical newspaper published in upstate New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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. According to Saxton, the newspaper was devoted to “the free discussion and critical investigation of the doctrines and duties of Christianity.” Saxton encouraged “his brethren in the ministry and other correspondents to contribute liberally to the columns of the Revivalist,” advice that JS apparently took seriously.2

“American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer,” American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer, 29 Sept. 1832, [1]; see also Norton, “Comparative Images,” 359–360.  


Speaking of the time period in which JS wrote this letter, a later JS history states that “appearances of troubles among the nations, became more visible, this season, than they had previously done, since the church began her journey out of the wilderness.” A cholera epidemic, an outbreak of the plague in India, and political tumult between South Carolina and the federal government were especially troubling.3

JS History, vol. A-1, 244.  


JS saw these events, on which Saxton

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

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had reported in several issues of his newspaper,4

See, for example, the following articles in the American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer: “Cholera Record,” 29 Sept. 1832, [1]; “Effects of the Cholera,” 29 Dec. 1832, [1]; “Political News: South Carolina Nullification,” 22 Dec. 1832, [3]; and “Persia,” 29 Dec. 1832, [4].  


through a millenarian lens. In the four months before he wrote to Saxton, JS’s revelations and other documents had warned of disasters preceding the return of Jesus Christ—disasters that seemed to be afflicting the world.5

Revelations in 1831 explained events that would precede Christ’s return, but JS seemed especially concerned with signs of the times in late 1832 and early 1833. (See, for example, Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45]; Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 1]; Revelation, 3 Nov. 1831 [D&C 133]; Letter to Emma Smith, 13 Oct. 1832; and Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832.)  


A September 1832 revelation, for example, explained that because “the whole world lieth in sin and groaneth under darkness,” the Lord “laid [his] hand upon the nations to scorge them for ther wickedness.” “Plagues” would continue, the Lord declared in the revelation, “untill I have completed my work.”6

Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:49, 96–97].  


In October 1832, after walking through the streets of New York City

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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, New York, JS lamented that “aganst man is the anger of the Lord kindled because they Give him not the Glory.”7 The calamities that the Lord would pour out on the world were graphically portrayed in a 25 December 1832 revelation: “With the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn and with famine and plague, and Earthquake and the thunder of heaven and the fierce and vivid lightning also shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel.”8

Revelation, 25 Dec. 1832 [D&C 87:6].  


A 27–28 December revelation therefore proclaimed it the duty of 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...

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of the church “to warn the people” and “to prepare the saints, for the hour of judgments, which is to come.”9

Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:81, 84].  


JS wrote to Saxton

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

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partly to issue the required warning. JS explained that God had again established on the earth the covenant that Christ offered during his ministry—a covenant different from the ancient covenants that God had made with the children of Israel. To allow Israel access to this new covenant, the gathering of Israel had commenced, the apostolic church had been restored, and the inhabitants of the earth now needed to repent, be baptized

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

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, and receive the Holy Ghost. JS concluded his letter with an explanation of the Book of Mormon, its doctrines, and the establishment of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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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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, using imagery from a Book of Mormon allegory that compares Israel to an olive tree.10

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 131–139 [Jacob chap. 5].  


The original letter is no longer extant, but 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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copied it into JS’s letterbook, probably soon after its composition. When Saxton

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

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published a portion of the letter—beginning at the paragraph starting with “The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers . . .” and continuing to the end of the letter—he prefaced it by stating it was written by “Mr. J. Smith Jr., who we suppose, is a principal leader of the sect that embrace Mormonism.” The letter, Saxton continued, contained “much good feeling and urbanity.”11

“Mormonism,” American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer, 2 Feb. 1833, [2].  


Subsequent issues of the newspaper contained no commentary or articles about the letter. In February 1833, JS wrote another letter to Saxton, complaining that the editor had published only a portion of the original letter. JS warned him to “publish that letter entire” if he wanted “to clear your garments from the blood of you[r] readers,” but Saxton never published the complete letter.12

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