The First Theologian of the Latter Day Saints

“Dear Brethren”
An epistle to the Latter Day Saints by Sidney
Rigdon & Oliver Cowdery (May 10, 1834)

Sidney Rigdon (computer graphic)
This circular was printed in Kirtland five days after Joseph Smith, Jr. departed Kirtland with the main force of the "Zion's Camp" military expedition force, bound for Jackson Co., Missouri. In their message to the Saints in the north and the east, top Mormon leaders Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery warn of possible impending death among the members of the Zion's Camp brigade. They also call for as many as possible of the Saints to depart "immediately" to take up residence in the soon-to-be "redeemed" Missouri Zion. With the subsequent failure of Zion's Camp, the message of this circular was quietly laid aside and forgotten.

1840 Appeal to American People   |   1843 Times & Seasons History



      IT becomes our duty to address you on the subject of immediately preparing, and journeying to the land of Zion, to establish a place for the ransomed of the Lord, against the day when desolation and wrath shall be sent forth upon the wicked, and be poured out upon the nations that despise her promised rest, without measure. It is, no doubt, known to you, that a large number of our brethren have lately gone up for the deliverance of the afflicted saints, who have been dispossessed of their lands and homes by a lawless band of men, who have risen up in defiance of all law, all equity, and all power, and taken the life of one, and sought the overthrow of all who have embraced the everlasting gospel in these last days.

When these brethren have arrived in the vicinity, or as wisdom shall direct, they will wait for our brethren who have been driven out, to inform the Governor of that state, that they are ready to go back to their lands. The Governor is bound to call out the Militia and take them back, and has informed our brethren of his readiness so to do, previous to this time. When orders arrive from the Governor to the Military Commanding Officers in that vicinity to guard our brethren back, then it is expected that all will march over, the former residents as well as those now on the way. When they are on their own possessions, they have a right to defend themselves and property from destruction and spoilation, and be justified in the sight of the laws of heaven and men.

The company now on the way, with the scattered brethren when collected, will be sufficiently strong in the strength of the Lord to maintain the ground after the Militia have been discharged, should those wicked men be desperate enough to come upon them. But we wish you to see the propriety of more numbers in this situation. For instance, ten men were to go back, the mob would suppose that they could overpower them, and would be disposed to assault them. because they were few in number; but were there a large number, even so many that they (the mob) knew were sufficient, without the least difficulty, to withstand them, it is consistent to forsee that they would be silent, and either flee the country entirely, or remain inoffensive.

Many of our brethren have come forward on this occasion and manifested a true spirit of patriotism and of nobility, becoming the saints of God, and the citizens of a free Government, and put their lives at stake, either to see our afflicted and dispersed brethren brought back to their homes, or die in the attempt. Greater love has no man, than to die for his friend -- this is the last great act of love required in the law of Christ, and is stronger than every earthly consideration. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, said our Lord, because you love one another. A disciple is a follower -- Christ laid down his life for his disciples, and if they are willing to do likewise they are his indeed. It is just that our brethren should be brought back, because they have purchased their lands without abusing or molesting any man, and they are free, lawful citizens of these States. Should we quietly submit to this abuse, none embracing this gospel would be safe in any part of our country; for the adversary of righteousness would influence this wicked generation to slay us where ever we could be found, and we should be left without a place to lay our heads in safety. We have the right of citizenship and of the protection of the laws while we conduct overselves circumspectly, and God has never required that we should submit to these abuses without exerting ourselves against them. If we were to remain quiet, when our property and houses were taken from us by wicked men, where would our women, and our helpless infants look for support, and whither would they flee for protection?

What, brethren, is now to be done? Our brethren have already started, and with the protection and blessings of our Father, will soon be permitted to offer the sacrifice of praise upon the goodly heritage. Their numbers are such that we do not apprehend much danger, except upon small parties the mob may attempt further violence for a season, as they now abuse our brethren when ever they can find them in that county. Our brethren who have now started on this arduous journey, have a small supply of money, and as the crops of wheat which were put in last fall by our dispersed brethren are in all probability, destroyed, the whole company who remain after our brethren are taken back, will be obliged to purchase food till grain can be raised, which will be one year from June till wheat harvest. It will be unsafe for our brethren to labor for hire among that people after they return, so you see in what situation they will be placed, unless our brethren around rise up and put forth their hands to assist in the name of the Lord. That county abounds with bread-stuff which can be purchased very low, and with the assistance which our brethren abroad are able to render, the goodly land can be sustained and the saints be established to rejoice forever.

The privilege of being among those who redeem and prepare the land, upon which unborn generations are to rejoice in the salvation of God, ought to inspire every heart, and stimulate every saint to action in the great work. Our brethren should remember, that it is not the work of a few days, but that they are laying the foundation of an order of things which is to remain while time endures. And what can be more pleasing, than the reflection, that by our diligence we prepare a habitation and place of security where our children can be preserved amid the shock which is to dissolve the nations?

Many of our brethren who have gone up for the deliverance of Zion, have families in this country, and will be under the necessity of returning when Zion is redeemed. So you can see the necessity of more following immediately, that the company be not weakened so as to give the enemy the power to drive them again. We therefore advise, that our brethren make immediate preparation, gather up their effects, and go forth and join the brethren in the west as soon as circumstances may admit. No time should be lost -- the love you have for your brethren calls for this act immediately, the ties of the new covenant demand it, and your little ones claim at your hands a place of refuge while it is in your power to secure it.

Let the brother into whose hands this circular may come, immediately show it to the brethren in his vicinity and let them dispose of their property, (such as they cannot carry.) and gather in upon the consecrated land. We do not wish you to understand by this, that we advise you to be hasty or wasteful, but let such as can, start immediately, and the others make preparations to follow. The Lord has said, that there was abundant means in his church to establish the places where he had appointed his saints to gather, so that no power of the enemy could overthrow them: and while some journey to the land of Zion, others can help strengthen the stake at Kirtland, and we can see the work of our Father greatly prosper, while all enemies are put to silence.

Our brethren will be obliged to go in companies of several families, in order to be safe after they arrive near the State of Missouri, as the mob might fall upon one or two families, and destroy them before they could obtain assistance. It is to be expected, that many of the mob will leave the country for fear of being brought to justice, and of course, will seek to annoy the saints wherever they can find them. You will see the necessity also of providing sufficient weapons to defend yourselves in case of attack. Our brethren living in the east, need make but little delay after they are ready, as there are many churches, and by going on they can fall in with some others who may be going from these; but they should not advance too far west, without joining a company where they are from twelve to twenty able to use arms in self defense.

In all that we have said, brethren, we do not urge any thing contrary to good order, Let good order prevail in all your proceedings, we beseech you; for by so doing you are sure to prosper. When you journey, remember you are saints and let your deportment show to all who are disposed to look upon you, that you are truly what you profess to be, the children of God. Remember the commandments, and live peaceably with all, if possible, but reflect on all occasions, that you are citizens of a free country, and are entitled to all its privileges as such.

We say, may the Lord bless you, while we subscribe ourselves in the bonds of the new covenant.  Amen.


Kirtland, Ohio, May 10, 1834.

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