CORRESPONDENCE WITH A CLERK OF A FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT
On March 20, 1839, while imprisoned in Liberty Jail Missouri, Joseph Smith penned a letter which contained the following principle of truth as now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 121:39:
“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”
The authority which leads to an abuse of power extends to all levels of government and business. The abuse is not limited to the highest positions only, but pervades the mid-level bureaucratic positions as well. The abuse comes naturally, sometimes as a mere convenience, to almost all good people everywhere. We are each individually responsible for guarding against it.
The following letter, with the name of the recipient omitted, lays out an extra-judicial example of how one good person was disposed to assume more authority than the law gave them.