53991682

Letterbook 2

Father in law, Judge Higbee, and himself would go on a farm about 20 miles N, E  from this place. Some of the leading men have given us, (that is our people) an  invitation to settle in and about this place, many no doubt will stay here.
Brn, I hope that you will bear patiently the privations that you are  called to endure— the Lord will deliver in his own due time. Your letter  respecting the trade with Galland was not received here untill after our return  from his residence at the head of the shoals or rapids. If br Rigdon were not  here we might (after receiving your letter) come to a different conclusion respecting  that trade. There are some here that are sanguine that we ought to accept  trade with the Doctr. Bishop [Newel K.] Whitney and Knights [Vinson Knight] are not here, and have  not been here as I know of. Br [Isaac] Morley and [Titus] Billings have settled some  20 or 25 miles N of this place for the present. A Br Lee who lived near  Hawn’s Mill died on the opposite side of the river a few days since, Br Rigdon preached  his funeral sermon in the Courthouse.
It is a general time of health here, We greatly desire  to see you, and to have you enjoy your freedom. The Citizens here are willing  that we should enjoy the privileges guaranteed to all civil people without moles tation.
I remain your brother in the Lord.
To Joseph Smith Junr and others)
confined in Liberty Jael.)
Mo.

Sidney Rigdon to JS and Others • 10 April 1839

Quincy Ill, April 10th 1839
To the Saints in prison, Greeting.
In the midst of a crowd of business I haste to send a few  lines by the hand of Br Mace our Messenger.
We wish you to know that our  friendship is unabating and our exertions for your delivery, and that of the Church  unceasing. For this purpose we have laboured to secure the friendship of the  Governor of this State with all the principal men in this place. In this we have  succeeded beyond our highest anticipations. Governor [Thomas] Carland Carlin assured us last  evening, that he would lay our case before the Legislature of this State and have the  action of that body upon it; and he would use all his influence to have an action [p. 4]
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On 27 November 1832, while residing at Kirtland, Ohio, JS wrote a lengthy letter to William W. Phelps at Independence, Missouri. JS’s missive emphasized the importance of record keeping and history writing in the young church. JS began by noting that he wished “to communicate some things which . . . are laying great with weight upon my mind.” He then observed, “Firstly, it is the duty of the lord[’s] clerk whom he has appointed to keep a hystory and a general church reccord of all things that transpire in Zion . . . and also there manner of life and the faith and works.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 Nov. 1832.)
This emphasis on record keeping was not widespread at the time. Scholar Dean C. Jessee has observed, “So primitive were some aspects of record keeping in nineteenth-century America that much of the early Latter-day Saint experience was a pioneering effort. . . . Although Mormon record keeping was inaugurated by [an] 1830 revelation, details for carrying out that commandment were largely hammered out on the anvil of experience in the years that followed.” (Dean C. Jessee, “The Reliability of Joseph Smith’s History,” Journal of Mormon History 3 [1976]: 27.) During a brief span in the early 1830s, JS and those working under his direction commenced the systematic collecting and recording of critical documents pertaining to church governance and administration. From that time to the end of JS’s life, correspondence-copying, revelation-recording, minute-taking, journal-keeping, and history-writing activities remained imperative commitments.
Items of correspondence were first recorded in what was subsequently designated Letterbook 1. Created from circa November 1832 to circa August 1835, it consisted of ninety-three pages preserving a record of early church-related communications dated 14 June 1829 through 4 August 1835. A second letterbook, featured here, was apparently begun in 1839 and continued to circa summer 1843. It became a repository primarily for letters, but also other items dated from 17 June 1829 through 9 February 1843. Items were copied into the volume, later designated Letterbook 2, by JS-appointed scribes including James Mulholland, Robert B. Thompson, Howard Coray, Willard Richards, William Clayton, John Fullmer, and George Walker. Letterbook 2 contains over 150 items of correspondence and other documents, arranged primarily in chronological order. An index created at the time outlines the contents of the 246 pages of letters and other documents. Previously, the volume had been used as a business ledger for the Rigdon, Smith and Company store in Chester, Ohio.
A title page designates the volume as “Copies of Letters, &c. &c. 1839, AD.” The first entry in the letterbook, labeled “Speech of General Clarke, To the Saints at Far West. 6th. Novr 1838,” contains the text of General John B. Clark’s oration on that occasion. Among its varied contents, the volume includes copies of a letter from JS to Emma Smith in June 1834; four letters written by Emma to JS from 1837 and 1839; three letters from Edward Partridge, Sidney Rigdon, and Elias Higbee, respectively, written in March and April 1839 to JS and other prisoners confined in the jail in Liberty, Missouri; two letters sent by JS and Elias Higbee while in Washington DC in December 1839 to Hyrum Smith and others in Nauvoo, Illinois; a letter sent from England by Brigham Young in May 1840 to JS in Nauvoo; a poignant exchange of letters between William W. Phelps, who had been cut off from the church, and JS in summer 1840; and an exchange in June and July 1842 between JS and Illinois governor Thomas Carlin. The ledger also preserves nine sets of minutes from various meetings, five petitions concerning the Saints’ treatment in Missouri, an 1840 memorial ascribed to JS, and an 1841 inventory of the contents of the Nauvoo House cornerstone, among other miscellaneous documents.
The last document copied into Letterbook 2 appears on manuscript page 245, a letter from JS to Richard M. Young, U.S. senator from Illinois, dated 9 February 1843. Though there are a substantial number of blank pages preceding the index beginning on manuscript page 369, it is not known why the copying of documents into Letterbook 2 ceased. However, the following circumstances regarding JS’s clerks may have been factors: James Mulholland died in December 1839, Robert B. Thompson died in August 1841, and Howard Coray served a mission to Pennsylvania during 1842–1843. Willard Richards and William Clayton began extensive work on Joseph Smith’s history in early 1843 while continuing to perform other clerical and secretarial duties. Documents dated after 9 February 1843 that might have been expected to be copied into the letterbook were, in many instances, recorded in JS’s history. In any event, the record closed with the 9 February 1843 letter, and there is no evidence that a third letterbook was either contemplated or begun.

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