The Prophet’s Journey to Washington—The Petition of the Saints to the Congress of the United States for Redress of the Wrongs Inflicted upon Them in Missouri.
Departure of the Prophet for Washington.
Tuesday, 29.—I left Nauvoo accompanied by Sidney Rigdon, Elias Higbee, and Orrin P. Rockwell, in a two-horse carriage for the city of Washington, to lay before the Congress of the United States, the grievances of the Saints while in Missouri. We passed through Carthage, and stayed at Judge Higbee’s over night, and the next day we arrived at Quincy.
Thursday, 31.—We tarried at Quincy to complete the necessary papers for our mission. Elder Rigdon was sick.
Friday, November 1.—We pursued our journey towards Springfield, Illinois, and put up with Brother Wilber, where we found Doctor Robert D. Foster, who administered to Elder Rigdon.
Saturday, 2.—Continued our journey, and during the day put up with a friend on the bank of the Illinois river, so that Dr. Foster, who accompanied us so far for that purpose, might administer medicine to Ellder Rigdon again.
Sunday, 3.—Continued our journey and staid with a friend over night. Dr. Foster continued to accompany us.
Progress of the Twelve towards England.
Elders Young and Kimball arrived at Cleveland, Ohio, about 1 o’clock in the morning; and while waiting for the stage until about noon, Elders Smith, Turley, and Hedlock, who left them at Terre Haute, drove up, having picked up Elder Taylor by the way, he having been left sick by his company in the east part of Indiana. They were in good health, compared with what they had been, and in fine spirits. George A. Smith tarried in Cleveland till the next day, to visit his relatives. Brothers Young, Kimball, Taylor, and Turley rode in the stage, and Brother Hedlock and Mr. Murray in their wagon to Willoughby, and from thence they all rode into Kirtland together.
Canadian Saints En Route for Nauvoo.
Monday, 4.—We arrived at Springfield, and put up with Brother John Snider. When within one mile of the city, we met William Law 1 and company with seven wagons from Canada, who returned with us to Springfield, and tarried while we did, until the 8th. I preached several times while here. General James Adams, 2 judge of probate, heard of me, sought me out, and took me home with him, and treated me like a father.
President Brigham Young and his brother John visited their sister, Mrs. Kent.
There was some division of sentiment among the Kirtland brethren.
Thursday, 7.—The High Council of Iowa completed their organization at Elijah Fordham’s, at Montrose.
Friday, 8.—We started from Springfield. Dr. Foster having concluded to continue on the journey on account of Elder Rigdon’s health, which was still quite poor. We pursued our journey through Indiana towards Columbus, Ohio. The traveling was bad, and our progress slow.
Sunday, 10.—Elder Taylor preached in the forenoon, and Elder Kimball in the afternoon, in the House of the Lord at Kirtland.
Thursday, 14.—Elder Orson Hyde left Commerce, Illinois, intending to go east as far as Philadelphia. He had just begun to recover from a four months’ illness of fever and ague.
Elder Taylor Anointed in the Kirtland Temple.
Sunday, 17.—President Young preached in the House of the Lord in the forenoon, and John Taylor in the afternoon. In the evening, President Brigham Young annointed Elder John Taylor in the House of the Lord, and Elder Daniel S. Miles anointed Theodore Turley, all of which was sealed with the shout of Hosanna.
Monday, 18.—President Young visited Brother R. Potter at Newbury, and returned on Tuesday to Kirtland.
About this time we had arrived near Columbus, where the roads were so bad, Elder Rigdon’s health so poor, and the time so fast approaching when it was necessary for the committee to be in Washington, that I started in the stage with Judge Higbee on the most expeditious route to Washington City, leaving Brothers Rockwell, Rigdon, and Foster, to come on at their leisure in the carriage.
Elder Brigham Young and company went to Fairport, where they waited for a steamboat until Tuesday.
Elder Parley P. Pratt and company sold their horses and carriage at Detroit, and went on to New York City by steamboats, the canal and railway.
From New York, Elder Parley P. Pratt wrote me on the 22nd, directed to Commerce, from which I quote the following:
Excerpt from Parley P. Pratt’s Letter to the Prophet.
The churches in these parts are prospering greatly, and are firm in the faith, and increasing in numbers continually. The Church in New York and Brooklyn now numbers from one hundred and fifty to two hundred members, and additions are being made every week. A general conference was held in this city on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Elders present: Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Samuel James, Benjamin Winchester, Elders Foster, Layne, Jenks, Brown, Benedict, and myself. Priests present: Addison Everett, Birge, and Vanvelver. Many branches of the Church in the region round about were represented; several hundred members in all, and the numbers still increasing. Great opportunities are open for preaching, and crowded houses are the order of the day.
I have also received letters from Maine and from Michigan, with joyful accounts of the spread of the work of the Lord. You would now find churches of the Saints in Philadelphia, in Albany, in Brooklyn, in New York, in Jersey, in Pennsylvania, on Long Island, and in various other places all around us. Our New York meetings are now held three times every Sabbath in Columbia Hall, Grand Street, a few doors east of the Bowery; it is very central, and one of the best places in the city; it will hold nearly a thousand people, and is well filled with attentive hearers. Brother Winchester has a good hall well fitted up in Philadelphia, where stated meetings are held—several every week, with crowded audiences.
In short the truth is spreading more rapidly than ever before, in every direction, far and near. There is a great call for our books. I am now reprinting the Voice of Warning, The History of the Missouri Persecution, and my Poems. There is a great call for hymn books, but none to be had. I wish Sister Smith would add to the old collection such new ones as is best, and republish them immediately. If means and facilities are lacking in the west, send it here, and it shall be nicely done for her; and at least one thousand would immediately sell in these parts wholesale and retail. The Book of Mormon is not to be had in this part of the vineyard for love or money; hundreds are wanting in various parts hereabouts, but there is truly a famine in that respect.
The conference took into consideration the pressing calls for this book, and have appointed a committee to raise means for the publication of the same, and also to publish it if we can obtain leave from you, who hold the copyright. Any hymn book which Sister Smith or the Church will favor us with, shall also be published on similar conditions.
Parley P. Pratt.
First Issue of the “Times and Seasons.”
Some time this month the first number of the Times and Seasons, a monthly religious paper, in pamphlet form, was published at Commerce, Hancock Count Illinois, by my brother Don Carlos Smith and Ebenezer Robinson, under the firm name of Robinson & Smith, Publishers.
Tuesday, 26.—At one in the afternoon, Elder Brigham Young and company went on board the steamer Columbus, at Fairport, and went on towards Buffalo.
The Elements Obey.
Wednesday, 27.—About 1 o’clock this morning the wind arose, when Elder Brigham Young went on deck, prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus, when he felt to command the wind and the waves to cease, and permit them to proceed on their journey in safety. The winds abated, and he gave glory, honor, and praise to the God who rules all things. Arriving in Buffalo in the morning, they took the stage for Batavia.
The Prophet’s Adventure En Route to Washington.
While on the mountains some distance from Washington, our coachman stepped into a public house to take his grog, when the horses took fright and ran down the hill at full speed. I persuaded my fellow travelers to be quiet and retain their seats, but had to hold one woman to prevent her throwing her infant out of the coach. The passengers were exceedingly agitated, but I used every persuasion to calm their feelings; and opening the door, I secured my hold on the side of the coach the best way I could, and succeeded in placing myself in the coachman’s seat, and reining up the horses, after they had run some two or three miles, and neither coach, horses, or passengers received any injury. My course was spoken of in the highest terms of commendation, as being one of the most daring and heroic deeds, and no language could express the gratitude of the passengers, when they found themselves safe, and the horses quiet. There were some members of Congress with us, who proposed naming the incident to that body, believing they would reward such conduct by some public act; but on inquiring my name, to mention as the author of their safety, and finding it to be Joseph Smith the “Mormon Prophet,” as they called me, I heard no more of their praise, gratitude, or reward.
Thursday, 28.—I arrived in Washington City this morning, and put up at the corner of Missouri and Third streets.
This evening, Elder Brigham Young and company (except Elder Kimball, who stopped at Byron to visit his sister) rode to Rochester in the steam cars, and from thence rode all night in a horse coach, and arrived at ten in the morning on Friday, 29th, at Auburn, New York. Elders Taylor and Turley proceeded on their way to New York.
The following is a copy of our petition to Congress for redress of our Missouri grievances:
The Saint’s Petition to Congress.
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled:
Your petitioners, Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Elias Higbee, would most respectfully represent, that they have been delegated, by their brethren and fellow-citizens, known as “Latter-day Saints” (commonly called Mormons), to prepare and present to you a statement of their wrongs, and a prayer for their relief, which they now have the honor to submit to the consideration of your Honorable Body.
In the summer of 1831, a portion of the society above-named commenced a settlement in the county of Jackson, in the state of Missouri. The individuals making that settlement had emigrated from almost every state in the Union to the lovely spot in the Far West, with the hope of improving their condition, of building houses for themselves and posterity, and of erecting temples, where they and theirs might worship their Creator according to the dictates of their conscience. Though they had wandered far from the homes of their childhood, still they had been taught to believe, that a citizen born in any one state in this great Republic, might remove to another and enjoy all the rights and immunities of citizens of the state of his adoption—that wherever waved the American flag, beneath its stars and stripes an American citizen might look for protection and justice, for liberty in person and in conscience.
They bought farms, built houses, and erected churches. Some tilled the earth, others bought and sold merchandise, and others again toiled as mechanics. They were industrious and moral, and they prospered, and though often persecuted and vilified for their difference in religious opinion from their fellow citizens, they were happy; they saw their society increasing in numbers, their farms teemed with plenty, and they fondly looked forward to a future, big with hope. That there was prejudice against them, they knew; that slanders were propagated against them, they deplored; yet they felt that these were unjust; and hoped that time, and uprightness of life, would enable them to outlive them. While the summer of peace, happiness, and hope shone over the infant settlement of the Saints, the cloud was gathering, unseen by them, that bore in its bosom the thunderbolt of destruction.
On the 20th of July, 1833, around their peaceful village a mob gathered, to the surprise and terror of the quiet “Mormons”—why, they knew not; they had broken no law, they had harmed no man, in deed or thought. Why they were thus threatened, they knew not. Soon a committee from the mob called upon the leading “Mormons” of the place; they announced that the store, the printing office, and the shops must be closed, and that forthwith every “Mormon” must leave the county. The message was so terrible, so unexpected, that the “Mormons” asked time for deliberation and consultation, which being refused, the brethren were severally asked, “Are you willing to abandon your home?” The reply was, “We will not go;” which determination being reported to the committee of the mob, one of them replied that he was sorry, for said he, “The work of destruction must now begin.” No sooner said than it was done. The printing office, a two story brick building, was assailed by the mob and torn down, and, with its valuable appurtenances, destroyed. They next proceeded to the store with a like purpose. Its owner in part, Mr. Gilbert, agreed to close it, and they delayed their purpose.
They then proceeded to the dwelling of Mr. Partridge, the beloved Bishop of the Church there, dragged him and his family to the public square, where, surrounded by hundreds, they partly stripped him of his clothing, and tarred and feathered him from head to foot. A man by the name of Allen was at the same time treated in a similar manner. The mob then dispersed with an agreement to meet again on the next Tuesday, the above outrages having been committed on Saturday.
Tuesday came, and with it came the mob, bearing a red flag, in token of blood. They proceeded to the houses of Isaac Morley, and others of the leading men, and seized them, telling them to bid their families farewell, that they would never see them again. They were then driven at the point of the bayonet to the jail, and there, amid the jeers and insults of the crowd, they were thrust into prison, to be kept as hostages; in case any of the mob should be killed, they were to die to pay for it. Here some two or three of the “Mormons” offered to surrender up their lives, if that would satisfy the fury of the mob, and purchase peace and security for their unoffending brethren, their helpless wives and children. The reply of the mob was, that the “Mormons” must leave the county en masse, or that every man should be put to death.
The “Mormons,” terrified and defenseless, then entered into an agreement to leave the county—one half by the first of January, the other half by the first of April next ensuing. This treaty being made and ratified, the mob dispersed. Again, for a time, the persecuted “Mormons” enjoyed a respite from their persecutions; but not long was the repose permitted them.
Some time in the month of October, a meeting was held at Independence, at which it was determined to remove the “Mormons” or die. Inflammatory speeches were made, and one of the speakers swore he would remove the “Mormons” from the county if he had to wade up to his neck in blood.
Be it remarked that up to this time, the “Mormons” had faithfully observed the treaty, and were guilty of no offense against the laws of the land, or of society, but were peaceably following the routine of their daily duties.
Shortly after the meeting above referred to, another persecution commenced; some of the “Mormons” were shot at, others were whipped, their houses were assailed with brickbats, broken open, and thrown down; their women and children were insulted; and thus for many weeks, without offense, without resistance, by night and by day, were they harassed, insulted, and oppressed.
There is a point beyond which endurance ceases to be a virtue. The worm when trampled upon will turn upon its oppressor. A company of about thirty “Mormons” fell in with twice that number of the mob engaged in the destruction of “Mormon” property, when a battle ensued, in which one “Mormon” was killed, and two or three of the mob; acting in concert with the officer who commanded the mob, was Lilburn W. Boggs, Lieutenant-Governor of the state of Missouri. When the noise of the battle was spread abroad, the public mind became much inflamed. The militia collected in arms from all quarters, and in great numbers, inflamed to fury. They demanded that the “Mormons” should surrender up all their arms, and immediately quit the county. Compelled by overpowering numbers, the “Mormons” submitted. They surrendered up fifty-one guns, which have never been returned, or paid for.
The next day, parties of the mob went from house to house, threatening women and children with death, if they did not immediately leave their homes. Imagination cannot paint the terror which now pervaded the “Mormon” community. The weather was intensely cold, and women and children abandoned their homes and fled in every direction without sufficient clothing to protect them from the piercing cold. Women gave birth to children in the woods and on the prairies. One hundred and twenty women and children, for the space of ten days, with only three or four men in the company, concealed themselves in the woods in hourly expectation and fear of massacre, until they finally escaped into Clay county. The society of “Mormons” after the above disturbances, removed to the county of Clay, where they were kindly received by the inhabitants, and their wants administered to by their charity.
In the meantime the houses of the “Mormons” in the county of Jackson, amounting to about two hundred, were burned down or otherwise destroyed by the mob, as well as much of their crops, furniture, and stock.
The damage done to the property of the “Mormons” by the mob in the county of Jackson as above related, as near as they can ascertain, would amount to the sum of one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. The number of “Mormons” thus driven from the county of Jackson amounted to about twelve hundred souls. For the property thus destroyed they have never been paid.
After the expulsion of the “Mormons” from the county of Jackson as above related, they removed to and settled in the county of Clay. They there purchased out some of the former inhabitants, and entered at the land office wild lands offered for sale by the General Government. The most of them became freeholders, owning each an eighty or more of land.
The “Mormons” lived peaceably in the county of Clay for about three years, and all that time increased rapidly in numbers, by emigration, and also in wealth by their industry. After they had resided in that county about three years, the citizens not connected with them began to look upon them with jealousy and alarm. Reports were again put in circulation against them: public meetings were held in the counties of Clay and Jackson, at which violent resolutions were passed against the Mormons,” and rumors of mobs began again to spread alarm among the “Mormons.” At this juncture the “Mormons” desirous of avoiding all conflict with their fellow-citizens, and anxious to preserve the peace and harmony of the society around them, as well as their own, deputized a committee of their leading men to make terms of peace with their fellow-citizens of Clay county. An interview took place between them and a committee of citizens, at which it was agreed that the “Mormons” should leave the county of Clay, and that the citizens of Clay county should buy their lands.
These terms were complied with. The “Mormons” removed to and settled in the county of Caldwell, and the citizens never paid them value for their lands. Many received nothing at all for their land. The “Mormons,” by this removal, sacrificed much both of money and feeling, but the sacrifice was made upon the altar of duty, for the peace of the community.
Your Memorialists would beg here to give what they believe a just explanation of the causes of the prejudice and persecution against the “Mormons” related above, and which will follow. That there might have been some unworthy members among them, cannot be denied; but many aver that as a community they were as moral, as upright, and as observant of the laws of the land as any body of people in the world. Why then this prejudice and persecution? An answer they trust will be found in the fact that they were a body of people distinct from their fellow-citizens, in religious opinions, in their habits, and in their associations. They were numerous enough to make the power of their numerical and moral force a matter of anxiety and dread to the political and religious parties by which they were surrounded; which arose not from what the “Mormons” had done, but from the fear of what they might do.
In addition, the “Mormons” have purchased of the settlers, or of the Government, or obtained by pre-emption, the best lands in all those regions of the state; and at the times of speculation, the cupidity of many was aroused to possess those lands by driving off the “Mormons,” and taking forcible possession, or constraining them to sell through fear and coercion, at a price merely nominal.
After the “Mormons” removed from Clay county, they settled in the county of Caldwell as aforesaid.
Your Memorialists do not deem it necessary for their purpose, to detail the history of the progress, the cares, and anxieties of the “Mormons,” from the time they settled in Caldwell in the year 1836 until the fall of the year 1838. They would, however, state, that during all that time they deported themselves as good citizens, obeying the laws of the land, and the moral and religious duties enjoined by their faith. That there might have been some faithless among the faithful is possible. They would not deny that there might have been some who were a scandal to their brethren; and what society, they would ask, has not some unworthy members? Where is the sect, where the community, in which there cannot be found some who trample under foot the laws of God and man? They believe the “Mormon” community to have as few such as any other association, religious or political. Within the above period the “Mormons” continued to increase in wealth and numbers, until in the fall of the year 1838 they numbered about fifteen thousand souls.
They purchased of the Government, or of the citizens, or held by pre-emption, almost all the lands in the county of Caldwell, and a portion of the lands in Daviess and Carroll. The county of Caldwell was settled almost entirely by “Mormons,” and “Mormons” were rapidly filling up the counties of Daviess and Caldwell. When they first commenced settling in those counties, there were but few settlements made there; the lands were wild and uncultivated. In the fall of 1838 large farms had been made, well improved and stocked. Lands had risen in value, and sold for from ten dollars to twenty-five dollars [per acre]. The improvement and settlement had been such that it was a common remark that the county of Caldwell would soon be the wealthiest in the state.
Thus stood their affairs in the fall of 1838, when the storm of persecution again raged over the heads of the “Mormons,” and the fierce demon of the mob drove them forth houseless and homeless, and penniless, upon the charities of the world, which to them, thank God! have been like angels’ visits, but not few, or far between. This last persecution began at an election, which was held in Daviess county on the first Monday of August, 1838. A “Mormon” went to the polls to vote. One of the mob standing by, opposed his voting, contending that a “Mormon” had no more right to vote than a negro; one angry word brought on another, and blows followed. They are, however, happy to state that the “Mormon” was not the aggressor, but was on the defensive: others interfered, not one alone, but many assailed the “Mormon.” His brethren, seeing him thus assailed by numbers, rushed to the rescue; then came others of the mob, until finally a general row commenced. The “Mormons” were victorious. The next day, a rumor reached the “Mormons” of Caldwell, that two of their brethren had been killed in this fight, and a refusal had been made to surrender their bodies for burial. Not knowing at the time that this rumor was false, they became much excited, and several of them started for Daviess county, where they arrived next morning, with a view of giving the brethren, whom they supposed to have been killed, a decent interment. Among the citizens this fight produced a great excitement. They held a public meeting and resolved to drive the “Mormons” from the county. Individuals began also to threaten the “Mormons” as a body, and swear that they should leave the county in three days. When the “Mormons” who had gone from Caldwell to Daviess, aforesaid, arrived there, they found this state of excitement to exist. They also heard that a large mob was collecting against them, headed by Adam Black one of the judges of the county court of Daviess county.
Under these circumstances, and with a view to allay the excitement, they called on Mr. Black, and inquired of him whether the reports they had heard in relation to him were true. Upon his denying them to be true, they then requested him to give that denial in writing, which he freely did. This writing they published with a view of calming the public mind, and allaying the excitement. Having done this, they rested in quiet for some time after, hoping that their efforts would produce the desired effect. Their surprise can, under these circumstances, be easily imagined, when a short time after, they learned that said Black had gone before Judge King, and made oath that he was forced to sign the instrument, by armed “Mormons,” and procured a warrant for the arrest of Joseph Smith, Jun., and Lyman Wight, which was placed in the hands of the sheriff. It was also reported that the said individuals had refused to surrender themselves, and that an armed force was collecting to come and take them.
Your Memoralists aver that the sheriff had never made any efforts to serve the writ, and that the said Smith and Wight, so far from making any resistance, did not know that such a writ had been issued, until they learned it first by report as above related. In the meantime the rumor had run over the whole country, that the “Mormons” were compelling individuals to sign certain instruments in writing, and that they were resisting the process of the law. The public mind became much inflamed, and the mob began to collect from all quarters and in large numbers, with pretensions of assisting the sheriff to serve the process; and here let it be observed in passing, that Adam Black had sold the improvement and pre-emption claim on which he then resided, to the “Mormons,” received his pay for the same, and that through his instrumentality the “Mormons” were driven off, and he now retains both their money and the improvement.
As soon as the above reports reached the ears of the said Smith and Wight, they determined immediately upon the course they ought to pursue, which was to submit to the laws. They both surrendered themselves up to Judge King, underwent a trial, and in the absence of all sufficient testimony they were discharged. They hoped that this voluntary submission of theirs to the law, and their triumphant vindication of the charge, would allay the excitement of the community. But not so; the long-desired opportunity had arrived when the oppression and extermination of the “Mormons” might be made to assume the form of legal proceeding. The mob that had assembled for the pretended purpose of assisting the officers in the execution of process, did not disperse upon the acquittal of Smith and Wight, but continued embodied with the encampments and forms of a military force, and committing depredations upon “Mormon” property. The “Mormons” in this extremity called upon the laws of the land, and the officers of the law, for protection. After much delay, the militia under Generals Atchison, Doniphan, and Parks, were sent to their relief. They arrived on the 13th of September, and encamped between the “Mormons” and the mob.
The above officers made no attempt to disperse the mob, excusing themselves by saying, “that their own men had sympathies with the mob.” After remaining there for several days, those officers adopted the following expedient of settling the difficulties—they mustered the mob, and enrolled them with their own troops, and then disbanded the whole, with orders to seek their several homes. The officers went home, excepting Parks, who remained for their protection, with his men.
The “Mormons” made an agreement with the citizens of Daviess, to buy out their lands and pre-emption rights, and appointed a committee to make the purchase, and to go on buying till they had purchased to the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars. While these purchases were going on, the citizens were heard to say, that as soon as they had sold out to the “Mormons” and received their pay, they would drive the “Mormons” off, and keep both their lands and the money.
The mob, when disbanded in Daviess by the generals as aforesaid, instead of repairing to their homes as commanded, proceeded in a body to the adjoining county of Carroll, and encamped around Dewitt, a village built and inhabited by “Mormons;” while thus encamped around Dewitt, they sent to the county of Jackson, and procured a cannon. They invested the place so closely, that no person could leave the town in safety; when they did so, they were fired upon by the mob. The horses of the “Mormons” were stolen, and their cattle killed. The citizens of Dewitt, amounting to about seventy families, were in great extremity, and worn out by want and sickness. In their extremity they made application to Governor Boggs for protection and relief; but no protection, no relief was granted them. When reduced to the last extremity, no alternative was left them, but to seek protection by flight, and the abandonment of their homes. Accordingly, on the evening of the 11th of October, 1838, they retreated from Dewitt, and made their way to the counties of Daviess and Caldwell, leaving many of their effects in the possession of the mob.
Your Memorialists will not detail the horrors and sufferings of such a flight, when shared with women and children. They might detail many. One lady, who had given birth to a child just before the flight commenced, died on the road and was buried without a coffin. Many others, sick, worn out, starved, deprived of medical aid, died upon the road. The remnant of “Mormons” from Dewitt arrived in Daviess and Caldwell, and found a short relief and supply of their wants from their friends and brethren there.
After the abandonment of Dewitt, and the flight of the “Mormons” from Carroll, one Sashiel Woods addressed the mob, advising them to take their cannon and march to the county of Daviess, and drive the “Mormons” from that county, and seize upon their lands and other property, saying that the “Mormons” could get no benefit of the law, as they had recently seen. They then commenced their march from Carroll to Daviess, carrying with them the cannon which they had received from Jackson. On their way they captured two “Mormons,” made them ride on the cannon, and taunted them as they went along, telling them that they were going to drive the “Mormons” from Daviess to Caldwell, and from Caldwell to hell; and that they should find no quarters but at the cannon’s mouth. The mob at this time was reported to number about four hundred strong.
The “Mormons” in these distresses, in pursuance of the laws of Missouri, made application to Judge King, the circuit judge of that circuit, for protection, and for the aid of the officers of the law to protect them. Judge King, as they have been informed, and believe, gave an order to Major General David R. Atchison to call out the militia to protect the “Mormons” against the fury of the mob. General Atchison thereupon gave orders to Brigadiers Parks and Doniphan. In pursuance of these orders issued as aforesaid, on the 18th of October, 1838, General Doniphan arrived at Far West, a “Mormon” village in the county of Caldwell, with a small company of militia. After he had been at Far West two days, General Doniphan disbanded his company, alleging to the “Mormons,” as his reason for so doing, that his company had the same feelings as the mob, and that he could not rely upon them. In a short time General Parks arrived at Far West, and also disbanded his company. At this time the mob was marching from Carroll to Daviess. General Doniphan, while at Far West, directed the “Mormons” to raise a company to protect themselves, telling them that one Cornelius Gilliam was raising a mob to destroy their town, and also advising them to place out guards to watch the motions of the mob. He also directed them to raise a company and send them to Daviess, to aid their brethren there against the mob which was marching down upon them from Carroll. This the “Mormons” did; they mustered a company of about sixty men, who proceeded to Diahman. When General Parks arrived at Far West as aforesaid, and learned that General Doniphan had disbanded his men he expressed great dissatisfaction. The same evening on which General Parks disbanded his company as aforesaid, he proceeded to Diahman, in order to learn what the mob were doing there, and if possible to protect the “Mormons.”
When General Parks had arrived in Daviess, he found that the mob had commenced its operations there, which was on the 20th of October, 1838. They commenced by burning the house of a man [Don Carlos Smith] who had gone to Tennessee on business, and left his wife at home with two small children. When the house was burned down, the wife and two small children were left in the snow, and she had to walk three miles before she could find a shelter, carrying her two children all that distance, and had to wade Grand River, which was three feet deep. The mob on the same evening burned seven other houses, burning and destroying all the property that they thought proper. The next morning, Colonel Lyman Wight, an officer in the militia, inquired of General Parks, what was to be done, as he now saw the course the mob was determined to pursue. General Parks replied that he (Wight) should take a company of men and give the mob battle, and that he would be responsible for the act, saying that they could have no peace with the mob, until they had given them a scourging.
On the next morning, in obedience to this order, David W. Patten was despatched with one hundred men under his command to meet the mob as they were advancing from Carroll, with directions to protect the citizens, and collect and bring into Far West such of the “Mormons” as were scattered through the county, and unprotected, and if the mob interfered, he must fight them. The company under the command of Patten was the same, in part, that had gone from Far West by the order of General Doniphan to protect the citizens of Daviess. As Patten went in the direction of the mob, they fled before him, leaving their cannon, which Patten took possession of. The mob dispersed. Patten with his men then returned to Daviess county. Patten in a few days after returned to Far West. It was now supposed that the difficulties were at an end. But contrary to expectation, on the evening of the 23rd of October, messengers arrived at Far West and informed the citizens that a body of armed men had made their appearance in the south part of the county, and that they were burning houses, destroying property, and threatening the “Mormon” citizens with death, unless they left the county the next morning by 10 o’clock, or renounced their religion.
About midnight another messenger arrived with news of the like tenor. Patten collected about sixty men and proceeded to the scene of the disturbance, to protect if possible the lives and property of the “Mormon” citizens. On his arrival at the neighborhood where the first disturbance had commenced, he found that the mob had gone to another neighborhood to prosecute their acts of plunder and outrage. He marched a short distance and unexpectedly came upon the encampment of the mob. The guards of the mob fired upon him and killed one of his men. Patten then charged the mob, and after a few fires, the mob dispersed and fled, but Patten was killed and another of his men. After the fight and dispersion of the mob, Patten’s company returned to Far West. The report of the proceedings created much excitement. The community was made to believe that the “Mormons” were in rebellion against the law; whereas the above facts show they were an injured people, standing up in the defense of their persons and their property.
At this time the governor of the state issued an order to General Clark to raise several thousand men and march against the “Mormons,” and drive them from the state, or “exterminate them.” Major-General Lucas and Brigadier-General Wilson collected three or four thousand men; and with this formidable force, commenced their march and arrived at Far West. In their rear marched General Clark with another formidable force.
In the meantime the “Mormons” had not heard of these immense preparations, and so far from expecting an armed force under the orders of the state to war against them, were daily expecting a force from the governor to protect their lives and their property from the mob.
When this formidable array first made its appearance, intent upon peace, the “Mormons” sent a white flag several miles to meet them, to ascertain the reason why an armed force was marching against them, and what we might expect at their hands. They gave us no satisfaction, but continued marching towards Far West. Immediately on their arrival, a man came bearing a white flag from their camp. He was interrogated about his business; he answered the interrogations, saying they wanted three persons out of Far West, before they massacred the rest. Those persons refused to go, and he returned back to the camp. He was closely followed by General Doniphan and his whole brigade marching to the city of Far West in line of battle. The citizens also of Far West formed a line of battle in full front of Doniphan’s army: upon this Doniphan ordered a halt, and then a retreat. Night closed upon both parties without any collision.
On the next day, towards evening, the “Mormons” were officially informed that the governor of the state had sent this immense force against them to massacre them, or drive them from the state. As soon as the “Mormons” learned that this order had the sanction of the governor of the state, they determined to make no resistance; to submit themselves to the authorities of the state, how tyrannical and unjust soever the exercise of that authority might be.
The commanders of the Missouri militia before Far West sent a messenger into the town, requesting an interview in their camp with five of the principal citizens among the “Mormons,” pledging their faith for their safe return on the following morning at eight o’clock. Invited, as they supposed, to propose and receive terms of peace, and under the pledge of a safe conduct, Lyman Wight, George W. Robinson, Joseph Smith, Jun., Parley P. Pratt, and Sidney Rigdon, went towards the camp of the militia. Before they arrived at the camp, they were surrounded by the whole army; and by order of General Lucas put under guard, and marched to the camp, and were told that they were prisoners of war. A court martial was held that night, and they, without being heard, and in the absence of all proof, were condemned to be shot next morning.
The execution of this bloody order, was prevented by the manly protest of General Doniphan. He denounced the act as cold blooded murder, and withdrew his brigade. This noble stand taken by General Doniphan, prevented the murder of the prisoners. It is here worthy of note, that seventeen preachers of the gospel were on this court martial, and were in favor of the sentence.
The next morning the prisoners were marched under a strong guard to Independence, in Jackson county, and after being detained there for a week, they were marched to Richmond, where General Clark then was with his troops. Here a court of inquiry was held before Judge King; this continued from the 11th until the 28th of November; while the five prisoners were kept in chains, and about fifty other “Mormons,” taken at Far West, were penned up in an open, unfinished court house. In this mock court of inquiry the defendants were prevented from giving any testimony on their part, by an armed force at the court house; they were advised by their lawyers not to bring any [witnesses], as they would be in danger of their lives, or be driven out of the county; so there was no testimony examined only against them.
In this inquiry a great many questions were asked relative to religious opinions. 3 The conclusion of the court of inquiry was to send the prisoners to jail upon a charge of treason.
They do not deem it necessary to detail their sufferings while in prison, the horrors of a prison for four long months, in darkness, in want, alone, and during the cold of winter, can better be conceived than expressed. In the following April the prisoners were sent to the county of Daviess for trial: they were then indicted for treason, and a change of venue was taken to Boone county. The prisoners were sent to the county of Boone, and while on their way made their escape, and fled to the state of Illinois.
That they were suffered to escape admits of no doubt. The truth is, the state of Missouri had become ashamed of their proceedings against the “Mormons,” and as the best means of getting out of the scrape, gave the prisoners an opportunity to escape. In proof of this, the prisoners have ever since been living publicly in the state of Illinois, and the executive of Missouri has made no demand upon the executive of Illinois. Can it be supposed that the people of Missouri would thus tamely submit to the commission of treason by a portion of their citizens, and make no effort to punish the guilty, when they were thus publicly living in an adjoining state? Is not this passiveness evidence? They knew the “Mormons” were innocent, and the citizens of Missouri wrong?
But to return to the operations of General Lucas before Far West: We need only say that the exterminating order of Governor Boggs was carried into full effect. After the above-named individuals were taken prisoners, all the “Mormons” in Far West, about five hundred in number, surrendered up their arms to the militia without any resistance. The “Mormons” now fled in every direction—women and children, through the dead of winter, marked their footsteps with blood, as they fled from the state of Missouri.
The orders of the governor were, that they should be driven from the state or destroyed. About fifteen thousand souls, between the sacking of Far West and spring, abandoned their homes, their property, their all, hurried by the terrors of their armed pursuers, in want of every necessary of life, with bleeding hearts sought refuge in the state of Illinois, where they now reside.
We cannot trespass upon your time by the relation of cases of individual suffering; they would fill a volume. We forbear for our regard to humanity, to detail the particulars of the conduct of the Missouri militia. We could relate instances of house-burnings, destruction of property, robbings, rapes, and murder, that would shame humanity. One instance as a sample of many scenes which they enacted: Two hundred of the militia came suddenly upon some “Mormon” families emigrating to the state, and then encamped at Haun’s mill in Caldwell county. The “Mormon” men and children took refuge in an old log house which had been used as a blacksmith’s shop. On seeing the militia approach, the “Mormons” cried for quarters, but in vain; they were instantly fired upon; eighteen fell dead; and their murderers, putting the muzzle of their guns between the logs, fired indiscriminately upon children, upon the dead and dying. One little boy, whose father (Warren Smith) had just been shot dead, cried piteously to the militia to spare his life. The reply was, “Kill him, kill him (with an oath), he is a son of a damned Mormon.” At this they shot his head all open, and left him dead by the side of his father. About the same time an old man by the name of McBride, a soldier of the Revolution, came up to them and begged his life; but they hewed him to pieces with an old corn cutter. They then loaded themselves with plunder and departed.
Your petitioners have thus given a brief outline of the history of the “Mormon” persecutions in Missouri—all which they can prove to be true, if an opportunity be given them. It will be seen from this their brief statement, that neither the “Mormons” as a body, nor individuals of that body, have been guilty of any offense against the laws of Missouri, or of the United States; but their only offense has been their religious opinion.
The above statement will also show, that the “Mormons” on all occasions submitted to the law of the land, and yielded to its authority in every extremity, and at every hazard, at the risk of life and property. The above statement will illustrate another truth; that wherever the “Mormons” made any resistance to the mob, it was in self defense; and for these acts of self defense they always had the authority and sanction of the officers of the law for so doing. Yet they, to the number of about fifteen thousand souls, have been driven from their homes in Missouri. Their property, to the amount of two millions of dollars, has been taken from them, or destroyed. Some of them have been murdered, beaten, bruised, or lamed and have all been driven forth, wandering over the world without homes, without property.
But the loss of property does not comprise half their sufferings. They were human beings, possessed of human feelings and human sympathies. Their agony of soul was the bitterest drop in the cup of their sorrows.
For these wrongs, the “Mormons” ought to have some redress; yet how and where shall they seek and obtain it? Your constitution guarantees to every citizen, even the humblest, the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property. It promises to all, religious freedom, the right to all to worship God beneath their own vine and fig tree, according to the dictates of their conscience. It guarantees to all the citizens of the several states the right to become citizens of any one of the states, and to enjoy all the rights and immunities of the citizens of the state of his adoption. Yet of all these rights have the “Mormons” been deprived. They have, without a cause, without a trial, been deprived of life, liberty and property. They have been persecuted for their religious opinions. They have been driven from the state of Missouri, at the point of the bayonet, and prevented from enjoying and exercising the rights of citizens of the state of Missouri. It is the theory of our laws, that for the protection of every legal right, there is provided a legal remedy. What, then, we would respectfully ask, is the remedy of the “Mormons?” Shall they apply to the legislature of the state of Missouri for redress? They have done so. They have petitioned, and these petitions have been treated with silence and contempt. Shall they apply to the federal courts? They were, at the time of the injury, citizens of the state of Missouri. Shall they apply to the court of the state of Missouri? Whom shall they sue? The order for their destruction, then extermination, was granted by the executive of the state of Missouri. Is not this a plea of justification for the loss of individuals, done in pursuance of that order? If not, before whom shall the “Mormons” institute a trial? Shall they summon a jury of the individuals who composed the mob? An appeal to them were in vain. They dare not go to Missouri to institute a suit; their lives would be in danger.
For ourselves we see no redress, unless it is awarded by the Congress of the United States. And here we make our appeal as American Citizens, as Christians, and as Men—believing that the high sense of justice which exists in your honorable body, will not allow such oppression to be practiced upon any portion of the citizens of this vast republic with impunity; but that some measures which your wisdom may dictate, may be taken, so that the great body of people who have been thus abused, may have redress for the wrongs which they have suffered. And to your decision they look with confidence; hoping it may be such as shall tend to dry up the tear of the widow and orphan, and again place in situations of peace, those who have been driven from their homes, and have had to wade through scenes of sorrow and distress.
And your Memoralists, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
1. William Law was born September 8th, 1809, and was converted to the gospel through the preaching of Elder John Taylor and Almon W. Babbitt. He lived in Canada some twenty-five miles south of Toronto, and was now leading a company of saints from Canada to Nauvoo.
2. Concerning the antecedent of James Adams nothing can be learned from our church annals. This is unfortunate, since he was truly a noble character, and remained until his death (1843) a most faithful friend of the Prophet’s. In a book of Patriarchal blessings, given by Hyrum Smith, is recorded a blessing upon the head of a James Adams, who in every way would be such a man as the James Adams mentioned in the text—I mean as to age, and character indicated in the blessing. This James Adams of the blessing, and who I am personally convinced was the Prophet’s friend of the text, was the son of Parmenio and Chloe Adams, born at Limsbury Township, Hartford county, Connecticut, 24th of January, 1783. He is declared by the Patriarch to be of the tribe of Judah. The blessing was given the 2nd October, 1841.