Letter from Hyrum Smith to the church, Nauvoo, 12 June 1842.
To our well-beloved brother Parley P Pratt and to the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in England and scattered abroad throughout all Europe, and to the saints, Greeting. Whereas in times past persons have been permitted to gather with the saints at Nauvoo in North America, such as husbands leaving their wives and children behind, also such as wives leaving their husbands and children behind, and such as women leaving their husbands and such as husbands leaving their wives who have no children, and some because their companions are unbelievers, all this kind of proceedings we consider to be an error and for want of proper information, and the same should be taught to all the Saints, and not suffer families to be broken up on no account whatever, if it be possible to avoid it. Suffer no man to leave his wife because she is an unbeliever, nor no woman to leave her husband because he is an unbeliever. These things are an evil and must be forbidden by the authorities of the church or they will come under condemnation, for the gathering is not in haste, nor by flight, but to prepare all things before you, and you know not but the unbeliever may be converted and the Lord heal him. But let the believers exercise faith in God, and the unbelieving husband shall be sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife by the believing husband, and families are preserved and saved from a great evil which we have seen verified before our eyes.
Behold this is a wicked generation, full of lyings, and deceit, and craftiness, and the children of the wicked are wiser than the children of light, i.e. they are more crafty, and it seems that it has been the case in all ages of the world. And the man, when he leaves his wife and travels to a foreign nation, while on his way darkness overpowers his mind and Satan deceives him and flatters him with the graces of the harlot, and before he is aware, he is disgraced forever. And greater is the danger for the woman that leaves her husband. And there are several instances where women have left their husbands and come to this place, and in a few weeks or months they have found themselves new husbands and they are living in adultery, and we are obliged to cut them off from the church. There are men also that are guilty of the same crime, as we are credibly informed, we are knowing to their having taken wives here and are credibly informed that they have wives in England.
There is another evil which does exist. There are poor men who come here and leave their families behind in a destitute situation and beg for assistance to send back after the families. Every man should tarry with his family until providence provides for the whole, for there is no means here to be obtained to send back. Money is scarce and hard to be obtained. The people that gather to this place are generally poor, the gathering being attended with a great sacrifice, and money cannot be obtained by labor; but all kinds of produce is plentiful and can be obtained by labor. Therefore the poor man that leaves his family in England cannot get means, which must be silver and gold, to send for his family, but must remain under the painful sensation that his family must be cast upon the mercy of the people and separated and put into the poorhouse. Therefore to remedy the evil, we forbid a man's leaving his family behind because he has no means to bring them. If the church is not able to bring them and the parrish will not send them, let the man tarry with his family, live with them and die with them, and not leave them until providence shall open a way for all of them to come together.
And we also forbid that a woman shall leave her husband because he is an unbeliever. We also forbid that a man shall leave his wife because she is an unbeliever. If he is a bad man (i.e., the unbeliever) there is a law to remedy that evil, and if she is a bad woman there is a law to remedy that evil. And if the law will divorce them then they are at liberty. Otherwise they are bound as long as they two shall live, and it is not our prerogative to go beyond this. If we do it, it will be at the expense of our reputation.
These are the things in plainness which we desire should be publicly known, and you can publish them in the
in full, or extract, as you please.
It is a general time of health in Nauvoo. Everything begins to flourish and look prosperous. Crops of grain have the appearance of a rich harvest. [
] continues to increase, so does also the City. We expect to see brother P. P Pratt probably as soon as next spring. Brother Amos Fielding will be the bearer of this, he will start from here in a few days.
May the Lord bestow his blessings upon you richly, and hasten the gathering, and bring about the fullness of the everlasting covenant, are the prayers of your brethren.
Written by Hyrum Smith, Patriarch, by the order of Joseph Smith, President over the whole Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Hyrum Smith. N B Brother. P P Pratt. will send over 3 families, namely brother John Allaby, John Farrars & David Claytons, by the donation money that shall be given in for the building of the Temple. They are now at work on the Temple under the special contract that their families shall be forwarded to this place by monies donated for the Temple. Brother John Allaby's family lives in No 33. Brownlow Hill, Liverpool. John Farrar & David Clayton's families live at Messors Bashale and Boardman's Mill Farrington, near Preston, Lancashire. Direct Ann Farrar care of Mr Thomas Beardwood, Shopkeeper Messors Bashale & Boardman's Mill. Also Elizabeth Clayton care of Mr Thomas Beardwood, Shopkeeper Mess Bashale & Boardman's Mill, Farrington, near Preston, Lancashire. Brother Amos Fielding will understand the particulars. This is a precedent that we cannot establish, therefore you will be particular and keep this to yourself.
Joseph Smith Trustee in Trust Hyrum Smith.
We wish to have these families sent this fall if possible, or they must suffer.
We assure you that you have our best feelings and our prayers and have no fault to find. Believing every man has done the best he could, that is the elders, such as have remained in England. And we desire your prayers, even all the saints, etc.