A Congressman’s Opinion Of Joseph Smith


“In the Winter of 1840, the Prophet Joseph Smith went to Washington, D.C., to petition the president of the United States and Congress to redress the grievances of the Saints against the people of Missouri. While at the nation’s capital he had several opportunities of speaking in public. On the evening of February 5, 1840, he addressed a large audience. Mr. M.L. Davis, a member of Congress, was present. In a letter written to his wife the day after, he give the following opinion of the Prophet.

“I went last evening to hear “Joe Smith”, the celebrated Mormon, expound his doctrine. I, with several others, had a desire to understand his tenets as explained by himself.

He is not an educated man:; but he is a plain, sensible, strong-minded man. Everything he says is said in a manner to leave an impression that he is sincere. There is no levity, no fanaticism, no want of dignity in his deportment. He is apparently from forty to forty-five years of age, rather above the middle stature, and what you ladies would call a very good-looking man. In his garb there are no peculiarities; his dress being that of a plain, unpretending citizen. He is by profession a farmer, but is evidently well read.

During the whole of his address, which occupied more than two hours, there was no opinion or belief that he expressed that was calculate, in the slightest degree, to impair the morals of society, or in any manner to degrade, and brutalize the human race. There was much in his precepts, if they were followed, that would soften the asperities of man toward man, and that would tend to make him a more rational being than he is general found to be. There was no violence, no fury, no denunciation. His religion appears to be a religion of meekness, lowliness and mild persuasion. Throughout his whole address he displayed strongly a spirit of charity and forbearance. The Mormon Bible, he said, was communicated to him direct from heaven. If there was such a thing on earth as the author of it, then he (Smith) was the author; but the idea that he wished to impress was that he had penned it as dictated by God.  I have changed my opinion of the Mormons. They are an injured and much abused people.” (Page 404, Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, Vol. II)

An interesting letter written by a learned man of congress who, coming with an open mind, came away with a different outlook and perspective on the Mormons.  While we often ask for such open-mindedness from others, we too should be willing to open our minds to others whose thoughts and concepts might be uplifting and divine.


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