Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lyndon W. Cook's Appendix on Wilson Law

In the appendix to the William Law's source materials, Lyndon W. Cook provides additional material on the older brother Wilson Law, such as letter exchanges between Wiles and Joseph Smith, as well as a character sketch of Law by Smith and a poem of Wilson Law's.


Joseph Smith to Wilson Law, August 15th 1842, Iowa Territory, is a letter of orders to Major General Wilson Law, who had been elected to replace John C. Bennett on August 3rd, 1842 (p.139 Fn 2). Smith's overriding assumption is that the Missourians wish to execute mob violence, and that for this reason it is not safe for him to put himself into the hands of his enemies (p.139).
I am determined therefore, to keep out of their hands, and thwart their designs if possible, that perhaps they may not urge the necessity of force and blood against their own fellow citizens and loyal subjects; and become ashamed and withdraw their pursuits. (p.140)
As such, Law's role is to keep the peace in the city (p.140) and defend it with all that is in its against any incursions (p.141).

In his reply note, Wilson Law to Joseph Smith, August 15th 1842, Nauvoo, IL, agrees substantially with his commanding officer.
Our common rights and peace is all we ask and we will user every peaceable means in our power to enjoy these, but our rights we must have, peace we must have if we have to fight for them. (p.143)
In Joseph Smith to Wilson Law, August 16th, 1842, Iowa Territory,  the Prophet follows up on the original idea of going into hiding for a little while, to prevent any blood shedding (p.145).

In Wilson Law to Joseph Smith, August 16th, 1842, Nauvoo, IL, Wilson agrees that going into hiding might be the more prudent policy, also in terms of the "media battle".
On the whole I think it would  be better for you to absent yourself till the next Governor takes the Chair, for I do think if you are not here they will not attempt any violence on the city, and if they should they will dis-grace themselves in the eyes of the world, .... (p.146)
In Wilson Law to Joseph Smith, August 17th, 1842, Nauvoo, IL,  reports that all has quiet, but recommends (p.148) that Joseph Smith should weather the persecution within Nauvoo itself, rather than hiding in the Pine forests of Iowa.
I see no reason why you might not stay in safety within the city for months without any knowing it only those who ought & that as few as is necessary. (p.148)
In Joseph Smith's Characterization of the Laws written in Smith's diary August 16th, 1842, in the Iowa Territory, Smiths recalls counting the brothers Law, William and Wilson, among the band of faithful---William Clayton, Dimick B. Huntington, George Miller, John D. Parker, Amasa Lyman, and Henry G. Sherwood---that were then available to him, and to commemorate the "unwe[a]ried kindness that have been bestowed upon me by these men" (pp.148-149).

The collection closes with two poems by Wilson Law, one praising the Prophet upon his return from prosecution, the other Nauvoo as the Queen of Illinois.

Bibliographical Record

Lyndon W. Cook, William Law: Biographical Essay -- Nauvoo Diary -- Correspondence -- Interview, Orem, UT (Grandin Book Company), 1994.

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