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THE church had so often appealed in vain for redress and so often been repulsed or neglected, that they thought to enter upon a correspondence with some of the leading aspirants for the office of President of the United States, before the presidential election of 1844, and learn their views on the question of redressing the wrongs of the saints; also to learn their attitude on the mooted doctrine of State sovereignty, upon which their case largely depended.
Joseph Smith wrote to Martin Van Buren and Lewis Cass, among others; but if they ever replied their replies were not made public. We suppose that the letters written them were similar to those written to John C. Calhoun and Henry Clay, which will be noticed in these pages.
Near the close of the year Joseph Smith wrote to John C. Calhoun, then an aspirant for the office of President of the United States, relative to his attitude towards the rights of the saints who had been robbed and driven from Missouri. The correspondence is valuable as expressing the situation, the views of the men on the issues, and for the remarkable prediction contained in the letter of Joseph Smith, to which we invite careful attention, and comparison with subsequent events. Because of the peculiar importance of this correspondence we reproduce Joseph Smith's letter of inquiry, Calhoun's reply, and extracts from Joseph Smith's rejoinder:-
"CORRESPONDENCE OF GENERAL JOSEPH SMITH AND
HON. J. C. CALHOUN.
"Nauvoo, Illinois November 4, 1843.
Honorable John C. Calhoun; Dear Sir:-As we understand you are a candidate for the presidency at the next election; and as the Latter Day Saints (sometimes called Mormons, who now constitute a numerous class in the school politic of this vast republic) have been robbed of an immense amount of property, and endured nameless sufferings by the State of Missouri, and from her borders have been driven by force of arms, contrary to our national covenants; and as in vain we have sought redress by all constitutional, legal, and honorable means, in her courts, her executive councils, and her legislative halls; and as we have petitioned Congress to take cognizance of our sufferings without effect; we have judged it wisdom to address you this communication, and solicit an immediate, specific, and candid reply to What will be your rule of action, relative to us as a people, should fortune favor your ascension to the chief magistracy?
"Most respectfully, sir, your friend, and the friend of peace, good order, and constitutional rights,
"In behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"Honorable John C. Calhoun, Fort Hill, South Carolina.
"(HON. J. C. CALHOUN'S REPLY.)
"FORT HILL, 2d December, 1843.
"Sir:-You ask me what would be my rule of action relative to the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, should I be elected President, to which I answer; that if I should be elected, I would strive to administer the government according to the Constitution and the laws of the Union; and that as they make no distinction between citizens of different religious creeds, I should make none. As far as it depends on the executive department, all should have the full benefit of both. and none should be exempt from their operation.
"But, as you refer to the case of Missouri, candor compels me to repeat, what I said to you at Washington; that according to my views the case does not come within the jurisdiction
of the federal government, which is one of limited and specific powers.
"With respect I am, etc., etc.,
"J. C. CALHOUN
"Mr. Joseph Smith.
"NAUVOO, Illinois, January 2, 1844.
"Sir:-Your reply to my letter of last November, concerning your rule of action towards the Latter Day Saints, if elected President, is at hand; and, that you and your friends of the same opinion relative to the matter in question may not be disappointed as to me or my mind upon so grave a subject, permit me as a law-abiding man, as a well-wisher to the perpetuity of constitutional rights and liberty, and as a friend to the free worship of Almighty God, by all, according to the dictates of every person's conscience, to say I am surprised that a man, or men, in the highest stations of public life should have made up such a fragile view of a case, than which there is not one on the face of the globe fraught with so much consequence to the happiness of men in this world, or the world to come. .
"So, then, a State can at any time expel any portion of her citizens with impunity, and in the language of Mr. Van Buren, frosted over with your gracious 'views of the case,' 'though the cause is ever so just, government can do nothing for them, because it has no power.' . . .
"If the general government has no power to reinstate expelled citizens to their rights, there is a monstrous hypocrite fed and fostered from the hard earnings of the people! a real 'bull beggar' upheld by sycophants; and, although you may wink to the priests to stigmatize, wheedle the drunkards to swear, and raise the hue and cry of impostor, false prophet, . . yet remember, if the Latter Day Saints are not restored to all their rights, and paid for all their losses, according to the known rules of justice and judgment, reciprocation, and common honesty among men, that God will come out of his hiding place and vex this nation with a sore vexation; yea, the consuming wrath of an offended God shall smoke through the nation with as much
distress and woe as independence has blazed through with pleasure and delight. Where is the strength of government? Where is the patriotism of a Washington, a Warren, and Adams? And where is a spark from the watchfire of 76, by which one candle might be lit, that would glimmer upon the confines of democracy? Well may it be said that one man is not a State, nor one State the nation. In the days of General Jackson, when France refused the first installment for spoliations , there was power, force, and honor enough to resent injustice and insult, and the money came; and shall Missouri, filled with Negro drivers, and white menstealers, go 'unwhipped of justice,' for tenfold greater sins than France? No! verily no! While I have powers of body and mind; while water runs and grass grows; while virtue is lovely, and vice hateful; and while a stone points out a sacred spot where a fragment of American liberty once was,-I or my posterity will plead the cause of injured innocence, until Missouri makes atonement for all her sins, or sinks disgraced, degraded, and damned to hell, 'where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.'
"Why, sir, the power not delegated to the United States, and the States, belongs to the people, and Congress sent to do the people's business have all power; and shall fifteen thousand citizens groan in exile? . . .
"And let me say, that all men who say that Congress has no power to restore and defend the rights of her citizens, have not the love of the truth abiding in them. Congress has power to protect the nation against foreign invasion and internal broil; and whenever that body passes an act to maintain right with any power, or to restore right to any portion of her citizens, IT IS THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND; and should a State refuse submission, that State is guilty of insurrection or rebellion, and the President has as much power to repel it as Washington had to march against the "whisky boys of Pittsburg,' or General Jackson had to send an armed force to suppress the rebellion of South Carolina!
"To close, I would admonish you . . . to read in the eighth section and first article of the Constitution of the
United States, the first, fourteenth, and seventeenth 'specific' and not very 'limited powers' of the federal government, what can be done to protect the lives, property, and rights of a virtuous people, when the administrators of the law, and lawmakers, are unbought by bribes, uncorrupted by patronage, untempted by gold, unawed by fear, and uncontaminated by tangling alliances-even like Cæsar's wife, not only unspotted but unsuspected! And God, who cooled the heat of a Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, or shut the mouths of lions for the honor of a Daniel, will raise your mind above the narrow notion that the general government has no power, to the sublime idea that Congress, with the President as executor, is as almighty in its sphere as Jehovah is in his.
"With great respect I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
"Hon. ('MR;'!) J. C. Calhoun, Fort Hill, S. C."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pp. 393-396.
He also wrote Henry Clay on the same date and in the same words. (See page 709.)
To this Mr. Clay responded promptly as follows:-
ASHLAND, November 15, 1843.
"Dear Sir:-I have received your letter in behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, stating that you understand that I am a candidate for the Presidency, and inquiring what would be my rule of action relative to you, as a people, should I be elected.
"I am profoundly grateful for the numerous and strong expressions of the people in my behalf, as a candidate for President of the United States; but I do not so consider myself. That much depends upon future events, and upon my sense of duty.
"Should I be a candidate, I can enter into no engagements, make no promises, give no pledges, to any particular portion of the people of the United States. If I ever enter into that high office, I must go into it free and unfettered, with no guarantees but such as are to be drawn from my whole life, character, and conduct.
"It is not inconsistent with this declaration to say, that I have viewed with a lively interest, the progress of the Latter Day Saints; that I have sympathized in their sufferings under injustice, as it appeared to me, which has been inflicted upon them; and that I think, in common with all other religious communities, they ought to enjoy the security and the protection of the Constitution and the laws.
"I am, with great respect, your friend and obedient servant,
"Joseph Smith, Esq."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 544.
This appears to us a frank and manly letter and all that should have been expected of a man situated as Mr. Clay was.
Joseph, however, being of aggressive and decisive nature, and always ready himself to give an opinion on questions at issue, was not pleased with Mr. Clay's conservative answer.
He took the letter under consideration for nearly six months, and finally, on May 13, 1844, made a lengthy reply, in which his views were forcibly expressed. (See Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pp. 544-548.)
On January 29, 1844, a political meeting was held in Nauvoo to take into consideration the proper course to pursue in the approaching presidential campaign.
The trust of the saints had so often been betrayed by political leaders that confidence in them was almost entirely gone. They could not with confidence support either of the political parties.
Upon motion of Willard Richards the meeting resolved to put out an independent ticket, and that Joseph Smith should be their candidate for President.
Joseph, soon after, published a paper expressive of his views on the "government and policy of these United States":-
"GENERAL SMITH'S VIEWS ON THE GOVERNMENT AND
POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES.
"Born in a land of liberty, and breathing an air uncorrupted with the sirocco of barbarous climes, I ever feel a
double anxiety for the happiness of all men, both in time and in eternity. My cogitations, like Daniel's, have for a long time troubled me, when I viewed the condition of men throughout the world, and more especially in this boasted realm, where the Declaration of Independence 'holds these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;' but at the same time, some two or three millions of people are held as slaves for life, because the spirit in them is covered with a darker skin than ours; and hundreds of our own kindred, for an infraction, or supposed infraction, of some overwise statute, have to be incarcerated in dungeon glooms, or suffer the more moral penitentiary gravitation of mercy in a nutshell, while the duellist [duelist] , the debauchee, and the defaulter for millions, and other criminals, take the uppermost rooms at feasts, or, like the bird of passage, find a more congenial clime by flight.
"The wisdom which ought to characterize the freest, wisest, and most noble nation of the nineteenth century, should, like the sun in his meridian splendor, warm every object beneath its rays; and the main efforts of her officers, who are nothing more or less than the servants of the people, ought to be directed to ameliorate the condition of all, black or white, bond or free; for the best books says, 'God hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth.'
"Our common country presents to all men the same advantages, the same facilities, the same prospects, the same honors, and the same rewards; and without hypocrisy, the Constitution when it says, 'We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility [tranquillity], provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America,' meant just what it said, without reference to color or condition; ad infinitum. The aspirations and expectations of a virtuous people, environed with so wise, so liberal, so deep,
so broad, and so high a charter of equal rights, as appears in said Constitution, ought to be treated by those to whom the administration of the laws are intrusted, with as much sanctity as the prayers of the saints are treated in heaven, that love, confidence, and union, like the sun, moon, and stars, should bear witness,
"Forever singing as they shine,
'The hand that made us is divine!'
"Unity is power, and when I reflect on the importance of it to the stability of all governments, I am astounded at the silly moves of persons and parties, to foment discord in order to ride into power on the current of popular excitement; nor am I less surprised at the stretches of power, or restrictions of right, which too often appear as acts of legislators, to pave the way to some favorite political schemes as destitute of intrinsic merit as a wolf's heart is of the milk of human kindness. A Frenchman would say, 'Prosque tout aimer richessess et pouvoir.' (Almost all men like wealth and power.)
"I must dwell on this subject longer than others, for nearly one hundred years ago that golden patriot, Benjamin Franklin, drew up a plan of union for the then colonies of Great Britain that now are such an independent nation, which among many wise provisions for obedient children under their father's more rugged hand, thus: 'they have power to make laws, and lay and levy such general duties, imports, or taxes, as to them shall appear most equal and just, (considering the ability and other circumstances of the inhabitants in the several colonies,) and such as may be collected with the least inconvenience to the people; rather discouraging luxury, than loading industry with unnecessary burthens.' Great Britain surely lacked the laudable humanity and fostering clemency to grant such a just plan of union; but the sentiment remains like the land that honored its birth as a pattern for wise men to study the convenience of the people more than the comfort of the cabinet.
"And one of the most noble fathers of our freedom and country's glory, great in war, great in peace, great in the estimation of the world, and great in the hearts of his countrymen,-
the illustrious Washington,-said in his first inaugural address to Congress: 'I hold the surest pledges that as, on one side, no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views or party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interest, so, on another, that the foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the preëminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.' Verily, here shines the virtue and wisdom of a statesman in such lucid rays, that had every succeeding Congress followed the rich instruction, in all their deliberations and enactments, for the benefits and convenience of the whole community and the communities of which it is composed, no sound of a rebellion in South Carolinia [Carolina]; no rupture in Rhode Island; no mob in Missouri, expelling her citizens by executive authority; corruption in the ballot boxes; a border warfare between Ohio and Michigan; hard times and distress; outbreak upon outbreak in the principal cities; murder, robbery, and defalcations, scarcity of money, and a thousand other difficulties, would have torn asunder the bonds of the union; destroyed the confidence of man; and left the great body of the people to mourn over misfortunes in poverty, brought on by corrupt legislation in an hour of proud vanity, for self-aggrandizement. The great Washington, soon after the foregoing faithful admonition for the common welfare of his nation, further advised Congress that 'among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defense will merit particular regard. To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.' As the Italian would say: Buono aviso, (Good advice.)
"The elder Adams in his inaugural address gives national pride such a grand turn of justification, that every honest citizen must look back upon the infancy of the United States with an approving smile and rejoice, that patriotism in the rulers, virtue in the people, and prosperity in the
Union, once crowned the expectations of hope, unveiled the sophistry of the hypocrite, and silenced the folly of foes. Mr. Adams said: 'If national pride is ever justifiable, or excusable, it is when it springs not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information and benevolence.' There is no doubt such was actually the case with our young realm at the close of the last century; peace, prosperity, and union filled the country with religious toleration, temporal enjoyment, and virtuous enterprise; and gradually, too, when the deadly winter of the 'Stamp Act,' the 'Tea Act,' and other close communion acts of royalty had choked the growth of freedom of speech, liberty of the press, and liberty of conscience, did light, liberty, and loyalty flourish like the cedars of God.
"The respected and venerable Thomas Jefferson, in his inaugural address made more than forty years ago, shows what a beautiful prospect an innocent, virtuous nation presents to the sage's eye, where there is space for enterprise, hands for industry, heads for heroes, and hearts for moral greatness. He said: 'A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye,-when I contemplate these transcendent objects, and see the honor, the happiness, and the hopes of this beloved country committed to the issue and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, and humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking.' Such a prospect was truly soul-stirring to a good man; but 'since the fathers have fallen asleep,' wicked and designing men have unrobed the government of its glory, and the people, if not in dust and ashes, or in sackcloth, have to lament in poverty, her departed greatness; while demagogues build fires in the north and south, east and west, to keep up their spirits till it is better times. But year after year has left the people to hope till the very name of Congress or State legislature, is as horrible to the sensitive friend of his country, as the house of 'Blue Beard' is to children, or 'Crockett's' Hell of London, to meek men.
When the people are secure and their rights properly respected, then the four main pillars of prosperity; viz., agriculture, manufactures, navigation, and commerce need the fostering care of government: and in so goodly a country as ours, where the soil, the climate, the rivers, the lakes, and the seacoast; the productions, the timber, the minerals; and the inhabitants are so diversified, that a pleasing variety accommodates all tastes, trades, and calculations;-it certainly is the highest point of subversion to protect the whole northern and southern, eastern and western, center and circumference of the realm, by a judicious tariff. It is an old saying and a true one, 'If you wish to be respected, respect yourselves.'
"I will adopt in part the language of Mr. Madison's inaugural address: 'To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality towards belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of differences to a decision of them by an appeal to arms; to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries, and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence, too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves, and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the union of the States as the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people, as equally incorporated with and essential to the success of the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the rights of conscience, or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve, in their full energy, the other salutary provisions in behalf of private and personal rights, and of the freedom of the press;'-as far as intention aids in the fulfillment of duty, are consummations too big with benefits not to captivate the energies of all honest men to achieve them, when they can be brought to pass by reciprocation, friendly alliances, wise legislation and honorable treaties.
"The government has once flourished under the guidance of trusty servants; and the Hon. Mr. Monroe in his day, while speaking of the Constitution, says: 'Our commerce has been wisely regulated with foreign nations, and between the States; new States have been admitted into our union; our territory has been enlarged by fair and honorable treaty, and with great advantages to the original States; the States respectively protected by the national government, under a mild paternal system against foreign dangers, and enjoying within their separate spheres, by a wise partition of power, a just proportion of the sovereignty, have improved their police, extended their settlements, and attained a strength and maturity which are the best proofs of wholesome law well administered. And if we look to the condition of individuals, what a proud spectacle does it exhibit? Who has been deprived of any right of person and property? who restrained from offering his vows in the mode he prefers, to the divine Author of his being? It is well known that all these blessings have been enjoyed to their fullest extent: and I add, with peculiar satisfaction, that there has been no example of a capital punishment being inflicted on anyone for the crime of high treason.' What a delightful picture of power, policy, and prosperity! Truly the wise proverb is just: 'Sedaukauh teromain goy, veh-ka-sade le-u-meem khahmaut:' Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
"But this is not all. The same honorable statesman, after having had about forty years' experience in the government, under the full tide of successful experiment, gives the following commendatory assurance of the efficiency of the magna charta to answer its great end and aim: to protect the people in their rights. 'Such, then, is the happy government under which we live; a government adequate to every purpose for which the social compact is formed; a government elective in all its branches, under which every citizen may, by his merit, obtain the highest trust recognized by the Constitution; which contains within it no cause for discord; none to put at variance one portion of the community with another; a government which protects every citizen in
the full enjoyment of his rights, and is able to protect the nation against injustice from foreign powers.'
"Again, the younger Adams in the silver age of our country's advancement to fame, in his inaugural address (1825) thus candidly declares the majesty of the youthful republic, in its increasing greatness: 'The year of jubilee since the first formation of our Union has just elapsed-that of the Declaration of Independence is at hand. The consummation of both was effected by this Constitution. Since that period a population of four millions has multiplied to twelve. A territory, bounded by the Mississippi, has been extended from sea to sea. New States have been admitted to the Union, in numbers nearly equal to those of the first Confederation. Treaties of peace, amity, and commerce, have been concluded with the principal dominions of the earth. The people of other nations, the inhabitants of regions acquired, not by conquest, but by compact, have been united with us in the participation of our rights and duties, of our burdens and blessings. The forest has fallen by the ax of our woodmen; the soil has been made to teem by the tillage of our farmers; our commerce has whitened every ocean. The dominion of man over physical nature has been extended by the invention of our artists. Liberty and law have walked hand in hand. All the purposes of human association have been accomplished as effectively as under any other government on the globe, and at a cost little exceeding, in a whole generation, the expenditures of other nations in a single year.
"In continuation of such noble sentiments, General Jackson, upon his ascension to the great chair of the chief magistracy, said: 'As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of person and property, liberty of conscience, and of the press, it will be worth defending; and so long as it is worth defending, a patriotic militia will cover it with an impenetrable œgis.'
"General Jackson's administration may be denominated the acme of American glory, liberty, and prosperity; for the national debt, which in 1815, on account of the late war, was
$125,000,000, and lessened gradually, was paid up in his golden day; and preparations were made to distribute the surplus revenue among the several States: and that august patriot, to use his own words in his farewell address, retired leaving 'a great people prosperous and happy, in the full enjoyment of liberty and peace, honored and respected by every nation of the world.'
"At the age, then, of sixty years, our blooming republic began to decline under the withering touch of Martin Van Buren! Disappointed ambition; thirst for power, pride, corruption, party spirit, faction, patronage, perquisites [prerequisites?], fame, tangling alliances; priestcraft and spiritual wickedness in high places; struck hands, and revelled [reveled] in midnight splendor. Trouble, vexation, perplexity, and contention, mingled with hope, fear, and murmuring, rumbled through the Union and agitated the whole nation as would an earthquake at the center of the earth the world, heaving the sea beyond its bounds, and shaking the everlasting hills. So, in hopes of better times, while jealousy, hypocritical pretensions, and pompous ambition were luxuriating on the ill-gotten spoils of the people, they rose in their majesty like a tornado, and swept through the land, till General Harrison appeared, as a star among the storm clouds, for better weather.
"The calm came; and the language of that venerable patriot, in his inaugural address, while descanting upon the merits of the Constitution and its framers, thus expressed himself: 'There were in it features which appeared not to be in harmony with their ideas of a simple representative democracy or republic. And knowing the tendency of power to increase itself, particularly when executed by a single individual, predictions were made that, at no very remote period, the government would terminate in virtual monarchy. It would not become me to say that the fears of these patriots have been already realized. But as I sincerely believe that the tendency of measures and of men's opinions, for some years past, has been in that direction,-it is, I conceive, strictly proper that I should take this occasion to repeat the assurances I have heretofore given, of my determination to arrest the progress of that tendency if it
really exists, and restore the government to its pristine health and vigor.' . .
"Now, O, people! turn unto the Lord and live; and reform this nation. Frustrate the designs of wicked men. Reduce Congress at least one half. Two senators from a State and two members to a million of population, will do more business than the army that now occupy the halls of the National Legislature. Pay them two dollars and their board per diem (except Sundays); that is more than the farmer gets, and he lives honestly. Curtail the offices of government in pay, number, and power, for the Philistine lords have shorn our nation of its goodly locks in the lap of Delilah.
"Petition your State legislature to pardon every convict in their several penitentiaries: blessing them as they go, and saying to them in the name of the Lord, Go thy way and sin no more. Advise your legislators when they make laws for larceny, burglary, or any felony, to make the penalty applicable to work upon the roads, public works, or any place where the culprit can be taught more wisdom and more virtue, and become more enlightened. Rigor and seclusion will never do as much to reform the propensities of man, as reason and friendship. Murder only can claim confinement or death. Let the penitentiaries be turned into seminaries of learning, where intelligence, like the angels of heaven, would banish such fragments of barbarism: Imprisonment for debt is a meaner practice than the savage tolerates with all his ferocity; 'Amor vincit omnia:' Love conquers all.
"Petition also, ye goodly inhabitants of the slave States, your legislators to abolish slavery by the year 1850, or now, and save the abolitionist from reproach and ruin, infamy and shame. Pray Congress to pay every man a reasonable price for his slaves out of the surplus revenue arising from the sale of public lands, and from the deduction of pay from the members of Congress. Break off the shackles from the poor black man, and hire them to labor like other human beings; for 'an hour of virtuous liberty on earth, is worth a whole eternity of bondage !' Abolish the practice in the
army and navy of trying men by court-martial for desertion; if a soldier or marine runs away, send him his wages, with this instruction, that his country will never trust him again, he has forfeited his honor. Make HONOR the standard with all men: be sure that good is rendered for evil in all cases; and the whole nation, like a kingdom of kings and priests, will rise up with righteousness, and be respected as wise and worthy on earth; and as just and holy for heaven; by Jehovah the author of perfection. More economy in the national and State governments would make less taxes among the people; more equality through the cities, towns, and country would make less distinction among the people; and more honesty and familiarity in societies would make less hypocrisy and flattery in all branches of community; and open, frank, candid, decorum to all men, in this boasted land of liberty, would beget esteem, confidence, union, and love; and the neighbor from any State, or from any country, of whatever color, clime, or tongue, could rejoice when he put his foot on the sacred soil of freedom, and exclaim: The very name of 'American' is fraught with friendship! O, then, create confidence! restore freedom! break down slavery! banish imprisonment for debt, and be in love, fellowship, and peace with all the world! Remember that honesty is not subject to law: the law was made for transgressors; wherefore a Dutchman might exclaim: Ein ehrlicher name ist besser als Reichthum: A good name is better than riches.
"For the accommodation of the people in every State and Territory, let Congress show their wisdom by granting a national bank, with branches in each State and Territory, where the capital stock shall be held by the nation for the mother bank, and by the States and Territories, for the branches; and whose officers and directors shall be elected yearly by the people with wages at the rate of two dollars per day for services; which several banks shall never issue any more bills than the amount of capital stock in her vaults and the interest. The net gain of the mother bank shall be applied to the national revenue, and that of the branches to the States' and Territories' revenues. And the bills shall be par throughout the nation, which will mercifully cure
that fatal disorder known in cities, as brokerage; and leave the people's money in their own pockets.
"Give every man his constitutional freedom, and the President full power to send an army to suppress mobs; and the States authority to repeal and impugn that relic of folly, which makes it necessary for the governor of a State to make the demand of the President for troops, in cases of invasion or rebellion. The governor himself may be a mobber, and instead of being punished, as he should be for murder and treason, he may destroy the very lives, rights, and property he should protect. Like the good Samaritan, send every lawyer as soon as he repents and obeys the ordinances of heaven, to preach the gospel to the destitute, without purse or scrip, pouring in the oil and the wine;-a learned priesthood is certainly more honorable than 'a hireling clergy.'
"As to the contiguous territories to the United States, wisdom would direct no tangling alliance: Oregon belongs to this government honorably, and when we have the red man's consent, let the Union spread from the east to the west sea; and if Texas petitions Congress to be adopted among the sons of liberty, give her the right hand of fellowship; and refuse not the same friendly grip to Canada and Mexico; and when the right arm of freemen is stretched out in the character of a navy, for the protection of rights, commerce, and honor, let the iron eyes of power watch from Maine to Mexico, and from California to Columbia; thus may union be strengthened, and foreign speculation prevented from opposing broadside to broadside.
"Seventy years have done much for this goodly land: they have burst the chains of oppression and monarchy, and multiplied its inhabitants from two to twenty millions, with a proportionate share of knowledge keen enough to circumnavigate the globe, draw the lightning from the clouds and cope with all the crowned heads of the world. . . .
"The southern people are hospitable and noble: they will help to rid so free a country of every vestige of slavery, whenever they are assured of an equivalent for their property. The country will be full of money and confidence,
when a national bank of twenty millions, and a State bank in every State, with a million or more, give a tone to monetary matters, and make a circulating medium as valuable in the purses of a whole community as in the coffers of a speculating banker or broker.
"The people may have faults, but they never should be trifled with. . . .
"In the United States the people are the government; and their united voice is the only sovereign that should rule, the only power that should be obeyed, and the only gentlemen that should be honored, at home and abroad, on the land and on the sea; wherefore, were I the President of the United States, by the voice of a virtuous people, I would honor the old paths of the venerated fathers of freedom: I would walk in the tracks of the illustrious patriots, who carried the ark of the government upon their shoulders with an eye single to the glory of the people; and when that people petitioned to abolish slavery in the slave States, I would use all honorable means to have their prayers granted, and give liberty to the captive, by giving the southern gentleman a reasonable equivalent for his property, that the whole nation might be free indeed! When the people petitioned for a national bank, I would use my best endeavors to have their prayers answered, and establish one on national principles to save taxes, and make them the controllers of its ways and means; and when the people petitioned to possess the territory of Oregon or any other contiguous territory; I would lend the influence of a chief magistrate to grant so reasonable a request, that they might extend the mighty efforts and enterprise of a free people from the east to the west sea; and make the wilderness blossom as the rose; and when a neighboring realm petitioned to join the Union of the sons of liberty, my voice would be, Come: yea, come Texas; come Mexico; come Canada; and come all the world-let us be brethren: let us be one great family; and let there be universal peace. Abolish the cruel customs of prisons (except certain cases), penitentiaries, and court martials for desertion; and let reason and friendship reign over the ruins of ignorance and barbarity; yea I would, as the universal friend of man, open
the prisons; open the eyes; open the ears and open the hearts of all people, to behold and enjoy freedom, unadulterated freedom. And God, who once cleansed the violence of the earth with a flood, whose Son laid down his life for the salvation of all his Father gave him out of the world, and who has promised that he will come and purify the world again with fire in the last days, should be supplicated by me for the good of all people.
"With the highest esteem, I am a friend of virtue and of the people,
"NAUVOO, Illinois, February 7, 1844."
-Times and Seasons vol. 5, pp. 528-533.
As early as March 1, 1844, the Times and Seasons placed at the head of its editorial column, "For President, General Joseph Smith, of Nauvoo, Illinois."
The same issue of the paper contained an editorial in defense of the movement in nominating Mr. Smith.
On May 17, 1844, a State convention was held in Nauvoo. At that time, Joseph Smith, of Illinois, was formally nominated for President of the United States, and Sidney Rigdon, of Pennsylvania, for Vice President.
The Twelve Apostles and many others entered upon a canvass of the States to present this ticket to the people. Thus was the ticket placed prominently before the public for their consideration; and of course the propriety of the move thus became a legitimate subject of inquiry.
We have the undoubted right yet to discuss the wisdom and propriety of the move. We cannot entertain the thought that the instigators of the movement had the remotest idea of electing their ticket; some other motive must be ascribed to them. It is probable that they chose to cast an honest vote in the face of certain defeat, rather than support successfully what they esteemed to be fraudulent and corrupt. They had the further purpose to get before the public through this canvass certain political reforms which they believed to be sorely needed.
Whether these ends justified the means is doubtful; yet we must not forget that this subject, like all others, has two sides.
From one standpoint it seems a thing incongruous that a high church official-a prophet of God should aspire to political honors, and seek to fill such a position. It savors too much of the doctrine of church and state to be acceptable in a republic. On the other hand, when the church in a body had been deprived of citizenship in a sovereign State, their lives imperiled, at the mercy of a lawless mob sustained by an inhuman Executive, and they robbed of thousands of dollars, where no redress could be obtained because of the false application of a political doctrine, it seems at least a plausible excuse for a leading, church official to enter the political arena and contend for the suppression of that particular fallacy.
Such was the situation at the time, and that the doctrine of State sovereignty was largely responsible, none can deny. If not responsible for the overt and unlawful acts in the first place, it was responsible for preventing redress of wrongs inflicted. Opposition to the doctrine of State sovereignty was the keynote of Joseph's political doctrine. Had his recommendations been adopted then and that doctrine suppressed, this nation might have been spared the horrors of a bloody civil conflict from the effect of which we have not yet recovered.
Politically, Joseph Smith was comparatively unknown, and his candidacy from a political standpoint was a hopeless one, yet we should not forget that when sixteen years later this same doctrine of "State sovereignty" had plunged our nation into the throes of civil war, there arose, from this same State of Illinois, an obscure backwoodsman, who saved the nation by his determined opposition to this political fallacy.
Which would have been the better for the nation, to have accepted the political views of Joseph Smith in 1844, and by heroic measures to have settled this question peaceably, or having waited sixteen years, to be forced, as it was, to settle it by the arbitrament of the sword?
We do not intend by these reflections to commit ourselves to the indorsement [endorsement] of the political policy pursued by the church in 1844. They are intended simply as suggestive to the wise, that before they rashly condemn, they carefully consider.
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