Introduction

In two cases, Joseph Smith instructed a recipient or would-be recipient, one who had just become a plural wife and the other who was being introduced to polygamy, to burn the communication he had or would send them.

Letter to the Whitneys

The Joseph Smith Papers editors offer no historical introduction to this document.1

It appears that Joseph Smith wrote a letter to the Whitneys arranging to meet them (or perhaps to facilitate interaction with their daughter, to whom he had just been married/sealed 3 weeks prior).

Letter to Newel K., Elizabeth Ann, and Sarah Ann Whitney, 18 August 1842, (emphasis added):

Dear, and Beloved, Brother [Newel K. Whitney] and Sister, [Elizabeth Smith] Whitney, and &c. [Sarah Ann Whitney]— I take this oppertunity to communi[c]ate, some of my feelings, privetely at this time, which I want you three Eternaly to keep in your own bosams; for my feelings are so strong for you since what has pased lately between us, that the time of my abscence from you seems so long, and dreary, that it seems, as if I could not live long in this way: and if you three would come and see me in this my lonely retreat, it would afford me great relief, of mind, if those with whom I am alied, do love me, now is the time to afford me succour, in the days of exile, for you know I foretold you of these things. I am now at Carlos Graingers [Granger’s], Just back of Brother Hyrams [Hyrum Smith’s] farm, it is only one mile from town, the nights are very pleasant indeed, all three of you come can come and see me in the fore part of the night, let Brother Whitney come a little a head, and nock at the south East corner of the house at the window; it is next to the cornfield; I have a room intirely by myself, the whole matter can be attended to with most perfect saf[e]ty, I know it is the will of God that you should comfort me now in this time of affliction, or not all at all now is the [p. [1]] time or never, but I hav[e] no kneed of saying any such thing, to you, for I know the goodness of your hearts, and that you will do the will of the Lord, when it is made known to you; the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty: only be careful to escape observation, as much as possible, I know it is a heroick undertakeing; but so much the greater frendship, and the more Joy, when I see you I will tell you all my plans, I cannot write them on paper, burn this letter as soon as you read it, keep all locked up in your breasts, my life depends upon it, one thing I want to see you for is to get the fulness of my blessings sealed upon our heads, &c. you will pardon me for my earnestness on this subject when you consider how lonesome I must be, your good feelings know how to make every allowance for me, I close my letter, I think Emma wont come to night if she dont dont fail to come to night, I subscribe myself your most obedient, and affectionate, companion, and friend.

Joseph Smith

Emily Partridge deposition

Emily D. P. Young, Deposition, Temple Lot Transcript, Respondent’s Testimony, part 3, page 350, question 22. As presented by Brian Hales on his page Joseph’s Proposals (last retrieved 2020-02-06)2 (emphasis added):

Well it run along for a good while, — I don’t know just how long, and there was no opportunity of saying anything to me more than he had, and one day he sat in the room alone, and I passed through it and he called to me or spoke to me, and called me to him, and then he said that he had intended to tell me something, but he had no opportunity to do so, and so he would write me a letter, if I would agree to burn it as soon as I read it, and with that I looked frightened, for I thought there was something about it that was not just right, and so I told him that I would rather that he would not write to me, — that he would not write me any letter, and then he asked me if I wanted him to say any more, and I said yes, that I did not want to hear anything more about it at all, for I had got a little frightened about it.

Acknowledgement: Emily Partridge deposition h/t missedinsunday here

  1. The source note simply states: “JS, Letter, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL, to Newel K. Whitney, Elizabeth Smith Whitney, and Sarah Ann Whitney, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL, 18 Aug. 1842; handwriting of JS; two pages; CHL.” The handwriting is identified as Joseph Smith Jr.’s in the Document Information. 

  2. This deposition was given in questioning about plural marriage, and Hales assures us: “Although Emily does not state the reason for her fears, she undoubtedly knew that the subject of the letter was plural marriage.”