Robert B. Thompson

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Robert B. Thompson’s name has been read countless times by individuals studying the revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. “Let my servant Robert B. Thompson help you to write this proclamation, for I am well pleased with him. . . . Let him, therefore, hearken to your counsel, and I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings; let him be faithful and true in all things from henceforth, and he shall be great in mine eyes; But let him remember that his stewardship will I require at his hands.” D&C 124:12–14

On January 19, 1841, Robert was called by revelation to assist Joseph Smith in writing a proclamation to the kings, presidents, and governors of the earth. From May to August 1841, he worked alongside Don Carlos Smith as an associate editor of the Times and Seasons. Don Carlos died abruptly on August 7 from a lung infection and Robert succumbed from the same infection on August 27.

The Times and Seasons noted his passing with these words:

With feelings, too pungent to be expressed, we have to record the death of our esteemed and much beloved BROTHER ROBERT BLATSELL THOMPSON. For the last five or six years he has been a faithful and an efficient Elder of this church; laboring incessantly for the cause of truth. … He departs this life in the triumphs of faith, bearing testimony, in his dying moments of the truth of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and of the faith of the new and everlasting covenant; rejoicing greatly, that his time had come, when he too could go, and be at rest in the paradise of God.[1]

Thompson was born on October 1, 1811, in Great Driffield, England. He was a Methodist preacher in England before emigrating to Toronto, Upper Canada. Parley P. Pratt baptized him in May 1836, and in July he was ordained an elder by John Taylor. In Toronto, he met the Fielding family and fell in love with Mercy. After their move to Kirtland, Ohio, they married in June 1837. Together they served a mission to Upper Canada and returned to Kirtland in March 1838.

Robert stood next to apostle David W. Patten when he was shot and later died at the Battle of Crooked River. Thompson served as a private secretary or scribe to Joseph Smith and Recorder from October 3, 1840, to his death in 1841. Thompson and Elias Higbee penned a petition to the United States Congress for redress of the grievances of the Saints in Missouri. He had fine penmanship and was "was so meticulous that he conserved paper by writing horizontally across a page, then over it again vertically."[2]

Thompson delivered the funeral oration at the funeral of Joseph Smith, Sr. in September 1840. He was the author of the words to the hymn “See, the Mighty Angel Flying,” which was included in the 1985 hymnal. Thompson was ordained a seventy in May 1839, he was appointed aide-de-camp in the Nauvoo Legion, and he was elected Nauvoo city treasurer in February 1841.

Before his death, Thompson created a draft of the proclamation he was commanded to write. Others intermittently worked on it in 1843, and it was finally written by Parley P. Pratt and published in April 1845.[3]

Thompson was 29 years old when he died and left behind a widow and a three-year-old daughter. He was buried at the Smith Family Cemetery in Nauvoo.

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