Mormon History

Warning to all of Illinois - 1842

Sangamo Journal January 21, 1842


Since the Declaration of Independence, there has been a revolution in the minds of men in regard to religious matters consequent to, and equal to that immortal Chart. Time was, when our fathers, in their feeble ideas of the power of Religion, supposed it necessary to the support of the revealed religion of the Omnipotent God, that the civil power and the sword should enforce an obedience to His commands, -- as if the Almighty needed the strength of man to the perfection of His work, or that the freedom of will he had given to ALL, should be enslaved for their conversion. But now it is otherwise. The Catholic, who in the days of Mary, Queen of England, could have looked on the martyr, suffering at the stake, without a shudder, would now sacrifice his life rather than this abominable punishment for the freedom of thought, should be inflicted upon one differing from himself in creed. The Calvinist or Presbyterian, who in the days of Calvin, would have looked with dry-eyed satisfaction upon the devouring flames, as they wreathed themselves around the agonized body of poor Servetus, or, who, in the days of Knox, eager for the demolition of image worship, would destroy the venerated works of art, and drive the unhappy few who clung to their fathers' faith into exile, or put them to death for worshipping their God according to their conscience -- would now risk his all in the defence of a Catholic house of worship, and would rather have his right arm withered to the shoulder, than put to death his supposed erring brother.

The revolution within the U. States, consequent upon the Declaration of Independence, was not simply a political revolution, -- it was something grander still -- it was a moral revolution, greater than that recorded of any other nation upon the pages of history. For where, in the annals of the world, was there a nation, who before us, struck from the soul of man the chains of civil bigotry, which held his conscience in bondage? Where the nation but our own, to say -- "You may worship God, protected and unmolested, according to the form your reason dictates: and you may believe or disbelieve, as circumstances and the strength or weakness of your judgment leads you."

The freedom of our fathers obtained for our bodies is worthless, nothing to the emancipation given by them to the soul, in that most sacred instrument -- the Declaration of Independence! If we are justly jealous, therefore, of our rights as citizens, and the freedom of our bodies, as won by the blood of our fathers, how much more jealous should we be of the rights of conscience and freedom of the soul, -- that pearl above all price -- which they have left us as a legacy!

With such ideas as these, the citizens of Illinois have opened their arms to the sect called MORMONS in their hour of distress. They have wept for the wrongs which they had undergone in Missouri, and have shielded and guarded them until they are now numerous and fearless of danger. God grant them the sense to shun a comparison with the asp of the fables. This fable may be shortly told for their advantage. A countryman, upon a cold winter day saw an asp, a very poisonous snake, lying torpid with cold, by the road side, and in the simple kindness of his heart, he lifted it up and took it home -- where he laid it before the fire to recover; and with his wife and children kindly rejoiced in seeing life returning to the snake. After the heat had sufficiently acted upon the asp, it raised its head, and instead of thanks to its benefactor, began hissing and curling itself up preparatory to a deadly attack upon the former; who, seeing its intent and aim, destroyed it! The moral is perceptible, and needs no words of explanation.

Why have we written the above? and why do we warn our harmless brothers of Nauvoo? Simply for this: -- though we have no objection that they should act individually and independently, as their conscience dictates, yet when they attempt to join the civil power with the religious they attempt to destroy our hard-earned birth-right of liberty of conscience, and compel us to retaliate for the injury done.

The Proclamation which follows this preface, is in itself most strange and daring -- perversive of the privileges of a citizen! It would not be so, were the signer anyone else than the person whom it represents -- JOSEPH SMITH. Mr. S. is supposed by his followers to be a Prophet of the Most High God. Whether he is or not, is no matter of dispute at present; but as such Prophet he is held in the highest veneration and respect by his followers, whom he leads easily by the belief of his high calling. Now, as long as Mr. Smith keeps near the sanctuary and prophecies of religion, he is guileless of offence, but when he enters upon the duties of a civil office of the State, and as a Lieutenant General, speaks to his friends, whom he KNOWS AS A PROPHET he can command, and uses the religious influence he possesses under the Military garb he has acquired, he becomes a dangerous man, and must look to the consequences. If he would take a friendly advice, we would say. let some Joshua, the son of Nun, lead the armies, and let him stick to interpretation and prophecy, -- and for we do assure him upon an honest belief, that his situation in Illinois, is far more dangerous than ever it was in Missouri; if he undertakes to take Mahomet's part, his only prototype, save Mokhauna, and play the warrior and prophet.

As for the Supreme Judge, who is so all powerful with the sect, let him look to it that ambition does not overlap its mark.

The following is the article spoken of, taken from the "Times and Seasons," printed at Nauvoo, January 1, 1842.



City of Nauvoo, Illinois,        
December 20th, A. D. 1841.        

To my friends in Illinois: --

The Gubernatorial Convention of the State of Illinois, have nominated Colonel Adam W. Snyder for GOVERNOR, and Colonel John Moore for LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR of the State of Illinois -- election to take place in August next. -- Colonel Moore, like Judge Douglass, and Esq. Warren, was an intimate friend of General Bennett long before that gentleman became a member of our community; and General Bennett informs us that no men were more efficient in assisting him to procure our great chartered privileges than were Colonel Snyder and Colonel Moore. -- They are sterling men, and friends of equal rights -- opposed to the oppressor's grasp, and the tyrant's rod. With such men at the head of our State Government we have nothing to fear.

In the next canvass we shall be influenced by no party consideration -- and no Carthagenian coalescence or collusion, with our party, will be suffered to affect, or operate against General Bennett or any other of our tried friends already semi-officially in the field; so the partizans in this county who expect to divide the friends of humanity and equal rights will find themselves mistaken -- we care not a fig for Whig or Democrat: they are both alike to us; but we shall go for our friends, our TRIED FRIENDS, and the cause of human liberty which is the cause of God. We are aware that "divide and conquer" is the watch-word with many, but with us it cannot be done -- [we love liberty too well --] we have suffered too much to be easily duped -- we have no cat's-paws amongst us. We voted for Gen. Harrison because we loved him -- he was a gallant officer and a tried statesman; but this is no reason why we should always be governed by his friends -- he is now DEAD, and all of his friends are not ours. We claim the privileges of freemen, and shall act accordingly. DOUGLASS is a Master Spirit, and his friends and our friends -- we are willing to cast our banners on the air, and fight by his side in the cause of humanity, and equal rights -- the cause of liberty and the law. Snyder, and Moore, are his friends -- they are ours. These men are free from the prejudices and superstitions of the age, and such men we love, and such men will ever receive our support, be their political predilections what they may; Snyder, and Moore are known to be our friends; their friendship is vouched for by those whom we have tried. We will never be justly charged with the sin of ingratitude -- they have served us, and we will serve them.
               JOSEPH SMITH.
           Lieutenant-General of the Nauvoo Legion.

A word in conclusion to those who are Mormons. If you are men deserving the name of freemen, be not biased in Temporal affairs by him whom you think your leader in Eternal. If he came to save souls, the political arena is not his field of action -- he has quitted the post which God assigned him. and has proved recreant to his mission by accepting a military station, and by aiming to influence your minds to vote as he thinks proper. It is useless to tell you that we are not the followers of your leader, -- this you know, -- but it is not useless to point out to you the precipice to which he leads you, and beg you to shun it.

To the citizens of Illinois generally, we say, read Mr. Smith's Proclamation attentively, and think upon it.