October 28, 1838,
Dear fellow Saints,
As many of you know, Governor Boggs issued an executive order yesterday relating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Missouri Executive Order 44 reads, in part, “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace–their outrages are beyond all description.” As a result, the armed forces of our Great State have been ordered to murder all of our men, women, and children or drive us from the state.
We want you to know, brethren, that we share your concern over this order. Many of us did not vote for Governor Boggs, and some of us participate actively in a different political party. In the most recent election, we worked hard for other candidates, and we must now face the disappointment of being on the losing side. We remind you, though, of the 12th Article of Faith that the Lord will soon reveal to us: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
The Lord requires His people to be good citizens of the governments that we live beneath. Governments are ordained of God. Latter-day Saints do not protest. We are not civil disobedients or conscientious objectors. We do not carry signs, march in demonstrations, or speak evil of the Lord’s anointed in our civil governments. This is how the world acts. Our knowledge of the Gospel calls us to a higher standard. We hope that no Saints participated in last week’s “March on Jefferson” to protest Governor Boggs’ election. If they did, it was as private citizens and not as representatives of our faith.
Those who oppose things like murdering children and seizing property are invited to participate fully in the legitimate activities of government. Members of the Church should feel free to write their representatives on a state and national level and ask them to change these policies. And we hope that all members of the Church will vote in the upcoming elections. Once a fair election has concluded, however, it is our duty to accept the results and be good citizens of whatever government the Lord has graciously provided us with.
We encourage all Latter-day Saints to cooperate with the civil authorities involved in the act of exterminating them. To do otherwise would be to violate the sacred premises of our faith. In four years, should any of us remain alive, we will work hard to elect a government that will be less committed to the ideals of genocide and religious cleansing. In the meantime, remember the Lord’s commandment: ““We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
Joseph Smith, Jr.