1843

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Joseph Smith-Letters To John C. Calhoun

CORRESPONDENCE OF GEN. JOSEPH SMITH AND HON. J.C. CALHOUN.

NAUVOO, ILL. NOV. 4TH 1843.

Hon. 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,

JOSEPH SMITH,

In behalf of the church of Jesus Christ

of Latter Day Saints.

Hon. John C. Calhoun, Fort Hill, S. C.

Times and Seasons, vol. 5 January 1844—January 1, 1845 pp. 393-394

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN C. CALHOUN TO JOSEPH SMITH—DEFINING WHAT FORMER’S POLICY WOULD BE TOWARDS THE SAINTS IF ELECTED PRESIDENT

Fort Hill, December 2, 1843.

Sir:—You ask me what would be my rule of action relative 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, &c., &c.,

J. C. Calhoun.

Mr. Joseph Smith.

To which I wrote the following reply:—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOSEPH SMITH TO JOHN C. CALHOUN—THE LATTER’S POLICY TOWARDS THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS, IF ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. CONSIDERED

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 own conscience, to say that 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.

To be sure, the first paragraph of your letter appears very complacent and fair on a white sheet of paper. And who, that is ambitious for greatness and power, would not have said the same thing? Your oath binds you to support the Constitution and laws; and as all creeds and religions are alike tolerated, they must, of course, all be justified or condemned according to merit or demerit. But why—tell me why are all the principal men held up for public stations so cautiously careful not to publish to the world that they will judge a righteous judgment, law or no law? for laws and opinions, like the vanes of steeples, change with the wind.

One Congress passes a law, another repeals it; and one statesman says that the Constitution means this, and another that; and who does not know that all may be wrong? the opinion and pledge, therefore, in the first paragraph of your reply to my question, like the forced steam from the engine of a steam-boat, makes the show of a bright cloud at first; but when it comes in contact with a purer atmosphere, dissolves to common air again.

Your second paragraph leaves you naked before yourself, like a likeness in a mirror, when you say, that according to your view, the Federal Government is "one of limited and specific powers," and has no jurisdiction in the case of the "Mormons." 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.

Go on, then, Missouri, after another set of inhabitants (as the Latter-day Saints did,) have entered some two or three hundred thousand dollars' worth of land, and made extensive improvements thereon; go on, then, I say; banish the occupants or owners, or kill them, as the mobbers did many of the Latter-day Saints, and take their land and property as spoil; and let the Legislature, as in the case of the "Mormons," appropriate a couple of hundred thousand dollars to pay the mob for doing that job; for the renowned Senator from South Carolina, Mr. J. C. Calhoun, says the powers of the Federal Government are so specific and limited that it has no jurisdiction of the case! O ye people who groan under the oppression of tyrants!—ye exiled Poles, who have felt the iron hand of Russian grasp!—ye poor and unfortunate among all nations! come to the asylum of the oppressed; buy ye lands of the General Government; pay in your money to the treasury to strengthen the army and the navy; worship God according to the dictates of your own consciences; pay in your taxes to support the great heads of a glorious nation: but remember a "sovereign State" is so much more powerful than the United States, the parent Government, that it can exile you at pleasure, mob you with impunity, confiscate your lands and property, have the Legislature sanction it,—yea, even murder you as an edict of an emperor, and it does no wrong; for the noble Senator of South Carolina says the power of the federal Government is so limited and specific, that it has no jurisdiction of the case! What think ye of imperium in imperio?

Ye spirits of the blessed of all ages, hark! Ye shades of departed statesmen, listen! Abraham, Moses, Homer, Socrates, Solon, Solomon, and all that ever thought of right and wrong, look down from your exaltations if you have any; for it is said, "In the midst of counselors there is safety;" and when you have learned that fifteen thousand innocent citizens, after having purchased their lands of the United States and paid for them, were expelled from a "sovereign State," by order of the Governor, at the point of the bayonet, their arms taken from them by the same authority, and their right of migration into said State denied, under pain of imprisonment, whipping, robbing, mobbing, and even death, and no justice or recompense allowed; and, from the Legislature with the Governor at the head, down to the Justice of the Peace, with a bottle of whisky in one hand and a bowie-knife in the other, hear them all declare that there is no justice for a "Mormon" in that State; and judge ye a righteous judgment, and tell me when the virtue of the States was stolen, where the honor of the General Government lies hid, and what clothes a senator with wisdom. O nullifying Carolina! O little tempestuous Rhode Island! Would it not be well for the great men of the nation to read the fable of the partial judge; and when part of the free citizens of a State had been expelled contrary to the Constitution, mobbed, robbed, plundered, and many murdered, instead of searching into the course taken with Joanna Southcott, Ann Lee, the French Prophets, the Quakers of New England, and rebellious negroes in the slave Slates, to hear both sides and then judge, rather than have the mortification to say, "Oh, it is my bull that has killed your ox! That alters the case! I must inquire into it; and if, and if—!

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! G—d—n old Joe Smith!" 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 watch-fire 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 instalment 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 men stealers, 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 powers not delegated to the United States and the States belong to the people, and Congress sent to do the people's business have all power; and shall fifteen thousand citizens groan in exile? O vain men! will ye not, if ye do not restore them to their rights and $2,000,000 worth of property, relinquish to them, (the Latter-day Saints,) as a body, their portion of power that belongs to them according to the Constitution? Power has its convenience as well as inconvenience. "The world was not made for Caesar alone, but for Cassius too."

I will give you a parable. A certain lord had a vineyard in a goodly land, which men labored in at their pleasure. A few meek men also went and purchased with money from some of these chief men that labored at pleasure a portion of land in the vineyard, at a very remote part of it, and began to improve it, and to eat and drink the fruit thereof,—when some vile persons, who regarded not man, neither feared the lord of the vineyard, rose up suddenly and robbed these meek men, and drove them from their possessions, killing many.

This barbarous act made no small stir among the men in the vineyard; and all that portion who were attached to that part of the vineyard where the men were robbed rose up in grand council, with their chief man, who had firstly ordered the deed to be done, and made a covenant not to pay for the cruel deed, but to keep the spoil, and never let those meek men set their feet on that soil again, neither recompense them for it.

Now, these meek men, in their distress, wisely sought redress of those wicked men in every possible manner, and got none. They then supplicated the chief men, who held the vineyard at pleasure, and who had the power to sell and defend it, for redress and redemption; and those men, loving the fame and favor of the multitude more than the glory of the lord of the vineyard, answered—"Your cause is just, but we can do nothing for you, because we have no power."

Now, when the lord of the vineyard saw that virtue and innocence were not regarded, and his vineyard occupied by wicked men, he sent men and took the possession of it to himself, and destroyed those unfaithful servants, and appointed them their portion among hypocrites.

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 at Pittsburgh," or General Jackson had to send an armed force to suppress the rebellion of South Carolina.

To close, I would admonish you, before you let your "candor compel" you again to write upon a subject great as the salvation of man, consequential as the life of the Savior, broad as the principles of eternal truth, and valuable as the jewels of eternity, to read in the 8th section and 1st 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 law-makers are unbought by bribes, uncorrupted by patronage, untempted by gold, unawed by fear, and uncontaminated tangling alliances—even like Caesar'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,

Joseph Smith.

Hon. ("Mr") J. C. Calhoun,

Fort Hill, S. C.