An Epistle of the Twelve to President Orson Pratt, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles—Greeting.

Great Salt Lake City, March 9, 1849.

Dearly beloved brethren,

The seasons have rolled around, and the wheels of time have brought the people of this clime to hail with joy the first tokens of another spring.  The warm breezes of the south and the smiles of the returning sun will soon open a passage through the mountains of eternal snow, which for six months has shut us up, and prevented communication with the great world, that our mail may pass eastward and westward and tell the nations that the Church in the wilderness yet lives, and that the mustard seed is growing.  During this season of seclusion, the 9th volume of the Star, and some stray numbers of a later date, as well as the returning elders and the late emigrants have been here to cheer us with the news of the unparalleled success of the Gospel, and of the lively spirit of the Saints in the British Isles, since the visit to that realm of Elders Hyde, Pratt, Taylor, and others.  For these things we thank God, and we now write to show our remembrance, and to say that we feel for you and for the people who dwell in the midst of revolution and commotion.

Health and peace have attended the Saints in this place since our first arrival, although subjected to many privations, and much of the time to a want of provisions in sufficient quantities.

This winter has been a cold and snowy one, nearly equal to the climate of New York.  The snow covered the ground to some depth, for nearly three months, and finally disappeared, from parts of the valley, the latter end of February; since that time cold winds have prevailed, and light snows are frequent, which disappear immediately; the ploughs are beginning to move.

Our cattle have done well in most parts of the valley, with no feed but the natural pasture.  Our crops, the past season, were light, but we raised considerable quantities of wheat, maize, oats, rye, and vegetables.  There is, however, at this time a scarcity of breadstuffs, and there will be a scarcity till harvest, which we hope for early in July.

Several hundred houses are built and in progress here, and the valley is settled for sixth miles north and south.  Mills for flouring grain and sawing timber are becoming numerous.  A Council House, forty-five feet square, two stories high, is in progress, also several public works, such as bridges, opening roads, &c.  One bridge over the Jordan is being built for seven hundred dollars.

Great preparations are being made for farming this coming season, and more than ten thousand acres will be enclosed and cultivated this summer.

Several branches of mechanical business are being commenced and among others, we anticipate works to be commenced this season for tanning leather and working iron.

Money is abundant, owing principally to the gold-dust accumulating here from the coast, upon the deposit of which, bills have been issued by the Presidency.

We have petitioned the Congress of the United States for the organization of a territorial government here, embracing a territory of about seven hundred miles square, bounded north by Oregon, latitude 42 degrees, east by the Rio Grand Del Notre, south by the late line between the United States and Mexico, near the latitude 32 degrees, and west by the sea coast and California Mountains.  Until this petition is granted, we are under the necessity of organizing a local government for the time being, to consist of a governor, chief justice, secretary, marshall, magistrates, &c., elected by this people.  The election to take place next Monday.

We shall also organize the Militia in due military order, under the old and honorable name of “The Nauvoo Legion;” a name which has long been a terror to evil doers, and which for several years withstood a sovereign state of mobbers and lawless banditti, and finally elected a safe retreat into the strong holds of the mountains with little loss.

We have had a general hunt here, one hundred men on each sides, under Captains Pack and Lee; Captain Lee is triumphant, and a public dinner comes off soon at the expense of the other side.  About seven hundred wolves and foxes, twenty minks, two wolvereenes, five hundred hawks, owls, &c., and one thousand ravens were killed in the sum total of the hunt.

Corn is very scarce here, at two dollars a bushel, or fifty-six pounds; wheat is from four to five dollars per sixty pounds, and difficult to be had at that.  Some alarm existed here concerning provisions, on account of which a census was taken a few weeks since, of the amount of breadstuffs on hand, when it was ascertained there were upwards of three-fourths of a pound per head per day from then till harvest, besides fifteen hundred bushels of seed wheat, and several hundred bushels of seed corn.  Potatoes do exceedingly well here, and are known to yield several hundred fold.

We are about to establish a colony of about thirty families in the Utah Valley, about fifty miles south.  We hope soon to explore the vallies three hundred miles south, and also the country as far as the Gulf of California, with a view of settlement and a sea-port.

On the 12th of February, the Presidency and those of the Twelve who were here, met in council, and proceeded to fill the vacancies of that quorum.  Elders P.P. Pratt, John Taylor, and A. Lyman were present; and Charles C. Rich, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow and Franklin D. Richards were ordained to the Apostleship, and numbered among the Twelve, instead of the three who were called to the first Presidency, and Lyman Wight, of Texas, who was disfellowshipped.  This accession increased the members here to a majority, and enabled them to act as a quorum.  They were then instructed to assist in reorganizing the different quorums here, and in establishing righteousness.  They met with the Presidency and others almost daily, and proceeded to organize and ordain the Presidency of the High Priest’s Quorum, viz.: John Young and his counselors, also Daniel Spencer as president of this stake and his two counselors, David Fulmer and Willard Snow.  They also ordained and set apart a High Council.  After this the city was divided into nineteen wards, consisting generally of nine blocks, or seventy-two lots, over each ward a bishop was ordained.

The settlements in the country are also organized into wards, and a bishop appointed over each.  Large meetings are held on Sundays when the weather will permit, and there is much good preaching, and the spirits of truth and reformation is abroad in the Church.

There are some rebellious and disorderly spirits here, who are generally now for the gold mines instead of Warsaw, Quincy and St. Louis; but those who are on the Lord’s side will stay at home and raise grain, &c., till sent abroad on Heaven’s errand.

We hope, ere long, to see the Twelve at liberty, and many of the Seventies in the discharge of their duties abroad, in a capacity, and with a power far exceeding the limits of their former labors, but at present stern necessity binds them here to the saw, the hammer, the anvil and the plough; and this because none step forward to do these things for them.

How long, O Lord, shall these things be?  How long shall the priesthood be neglected, and its chosen vessels to grovel with the petty trifles of this world, while its inhabitants sit in darkness and their light is withdrawn.  Necessity flings her chains about us, and the veriest poverty fetters us, and limits our proceedings, when otherwise our minds would expand, our spirits start forth, and wing their way to the nations on their errands of mercy.  Such is man; his nobler powers are expanding in aspirations of Godlike deeds of glory, might, majesty, and dominion, while his bodily weaknesses, and wants, cripple and limit him in all his exertions.  But we must be resigned, perhaps, like Paul’s thorn in the flesh, these things serve to keep us humble.  We surely ought to be contended to labor in the spirit, calling and sphere, allotted us.

We would impress upon the minds of the Saints in the British Isles to be faithful in the commandments of Jesus Christ, in prayer and faith, in charity and in preaching and spreading the knowledge of the fullness of the gospel abroad.  We would exhort them to patience in regard to the gathering, till the way opens to bring them together with us in his own time, his own way and the manner which is written; perhaps the day will arrive when they can come easier, cheaper, and safer than to come the present route.

It is according to that which is written for the Saints to organize in companies according to their trades, and to come out in bodies prepared with machinery, tools, and materials for operating in all useful branches of industry, according to that which they are accustomed to do; and when they come otherwise they are often in want of employment, exposed to bad company, to the influence of apostates, liars, swindlers, drunkenness, dissipation, &c.; and but few of them reach the body of the church in as good spirits as they start; some turn back, some are destroyed, many are led away, and few are gathered and saved.  These things ought not to be.

If one a more thorough knowledge of the country we can find a practical waggonroute up the  Arkansas, or up the Rio Grand, it will avoid the winter and a contact with the corrupt apostates and Gentiles that swarm at New Orleans, St. Louis, and Upper Missouri, or if we find a practical sea port at the head of the Gulf of California, or elsewhere on the Pacific, and can find a practical route across some of the isthmuses of Central America, it will, perhaps, facilitate the emigration from Europe to these valleys.

Could an organized body of cutlers, potters, woollen manufacturers, or other good branches come out together, with a combination of means and skill, sufficient to establish all branches of their trade here, it would command support and be very profitable, more particularly because of the abundance of water power, with which to propel machinery of every kind, without the aid of steam.  This is a great country for the rearing of sheep and wool; and this, in connexion with the abundant water power, will warrant the erection of any amount of woollen manufactories, while the increasing population will afford an extensive market for the same.  We hope soon to see the time when this territory will be able to turn out the finest, most beautiful, and substantial articles on every kind now made in England.

When we can see the Saints from Europe come in this manner, prepared to stick together, and come through and establish employment, without lingering or falling off by the way, it will cheer our hearts to behold them by thousands, as doves flocking to their windows; but it grieves us to see them come one at a time, unable to establish their own kind of labor, and to see them allured into every snare by corrupt men, who take advantage of their necessities, while they pretend to employ them at the different cities, lead them into every vice, drunkenness, lying and debauchery, and finally prevail on them to deny the Lord that bought them, and to live or die in the midst of wickedness, and thus they never reach the Saints, or if they come at all they are not the people they were before they started.  Indeed it would be far better for them to stay in well organized branches of the Church in the British Isles and to worship God, than to start for the land of Zion, and live and die in those gospel-hardened hells in the States.

While the Church remains in that country, and is faithful, it is a light to the world, and will be the means of bringing many souls to salvation; although we are well aware of their privations, oppression, poverty, and labours, and would be exceedingly glad to hail them welcome to the liberty and privileges of the sons and daughters of freedom in the strong holds of the eternal mountains, where now exists that grain of mustard seed which is the least of all trees.  “It is small, but it still is growing.”

Monday, March 12th.—The weather cold, snow squalls are frequent, and, taken altogether, it is the most disagreeable part of the season.

The election came off today in peace, and resulted in the unanimous choice of Brigham Young as Governor.  Willard Richards, Secretary; N.K. Whitney, Treasurer; H.C. Kimball, Chief Justice; John Taylor and N.K. Whitney, Associate Judges; Daniel H. Wells, Attorney-General; Horace Eldridge, Marshall; Albert Carrington, Assessor and Collector of Taxes; Joseph L. Heywood, Surveyor of Highways; and the Bishops of the several wards as magistrates.

Saturday, April 7th.—The weather has been fine for many days past; and much farming has been done, such as fencing, ploughing, sowing, gardening, &c.

On the 5th it commenced raining, and finally turned to snow, which fell several inches deep, but it soon disappeared; the weather is now fine but cold.

Our Conference is now in session.  We have had some good instruction from Elders Kimball, Lyman and Taylor.

Brother Addison Pratt arrived here last October from the Pacific Islands and will probably return this season with several others.  Elder Parley P. Pratt may accompany them to the Islands or to Chili with a view to establish the Gospel in South America, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, the various groups of the Pacific Islands, or to teach or either of these places as the way may open.  Elder Addison Pratt represents 1200 Saints in the Pacific Islands.

Many of the tares have gone to the gold mines, and some of the wheat is probably gone with them.  Elder A. Lyman, of the Twelve, is appointed to go to the Pacific with the mail, and to see after the wheat which may be there or are going.  Brother O.P. Rockwell is also appointed to accompany him.  They may, perhaps, return next Autumn.

The Council House is progressing finely, being built of stone.  Farming, gardening, fencing, building houses and bridges, opening of streets, and of various kinds of mechanical operations are in rapid progress, while health, peace, union and happiness generally abound with those who take pleasure in the things of God.

We must now close our hurried communications, by asking an interest in all your prayers, and we pray the choicest blessings of Almighty God to rest upon the Saints in the British Isles, and upon all who love and seek and practice the truth, now and for ever, worlds without end.  Amen.

Signed on behalf of the members of the Quorum who are in the valley,

Parley P. Pratt, President, pro tem.
Franklin D. Richards, Clerk.

P.S.—April 12th; The mail is now about to depart soon.  Since the above was written, Elder Charles C. Rich, of the Twelve, is appointed to take his stand in Western California, with a view to give guidance to the affairs of the Church and kingdom in that region.  He will probably repair thither when Elders Pratt go on their way to the Islands this season.

P.P.P., President, pro-tem.
F.D.R., Clerk.

[Millennial Star, 11:244]
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mar. 9, 1849, 2-4]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, July 2006]

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