Volume 2 Chapter 31
Prediction of the Prophet's Grandparents—Agitation For the Removal of the Saints From Clay County Missouri.
The remainder of this month [April] and May also, was devoted to the spiritual interests of the brethren; and particularly in devising ways and means to build up Kirtland.
Labors of Elder Heber C. Kimball.
May 10.—Brother Heber C. Kimball came to me for counsel, to know whether he should go into the vineyard to proclaim the Gospel, or go to school. I told him he might do either that he should choose, for the Lord would bless him. He chose to go into the vineyard; and immediately went down through the State of New York, into Vermont, his native State. He stopped a short time, and then returned to the city of Ogdensburg, on the St. Lawrence river, where he built up a church of twenty members. When about leaving that place, my father, and uncle John Smith, came to him, and blessed the church with patriarchal blessings. When they came to Brother Kimball, they were very much depressed in spirits, for when they came through the town of Potsdam, their brother, Jesse Smith, having a spite against them in consequence of their religion, swore out an execution against my father, and levied upon his horse and wagon; and to settle the affair, and get out of his clutches, my uncle, Silas Smith, (who had returned to that place on private business) stepped forward and paid fifty dollars, in order that they might pursue their journey home.
Dealing with Sundry Transgressors.
May, 16.—President Oliver Cowdery having preferred, to the High Council, a charge of unchristianlike conduct against Wilkins J. Salisbury, the Council assembled in the Lord's House, when it was proved that he had so conducted himself as to bring unnecessary persecution on me; that he had neglected his family, leaving them without wood, without provisions, or telling them where he was going, or when he would return; that he used strong drink and had been intimate with other women.
Elder Salisbury confessed his propensity for tale-bearing, and drinking strong liquor, but denied the other charges. The Council decided that he could no longer be an Elder or member in the Church until there was a thorough reformation.
Charges of unchristianlike conduct were also preferred against Sisters Hannah Brown, and L. Elliot. They confessed they had been guilty of telling falsehoods.
The Council reproved them, but permitted them to retain their standing in the Church.
The Council then withdrew fellowship from Elder Charles Kelly. 1
My cousin, Elias Smith, arrived from St. Lawrence county, New York, with the information that his father and family, and Uncle Silas and family, were on their way to Kirtland, and that my grandmother [Mary Duty Smith, wife of Asael Smith] was at Fairport.
Arrival of the Prophet's Relatives in Kirtland.
May 17.—I went in company with my brother Hyrum, in a carriage to Fairport, and brought home my grandmother, Mary Smith, aged ninety-three years. She had not been baptized, on account of the opposition of Jesse Smith, her eldest son, who has always been an enemy to the work. She had come five hundred miles to see her children, and knew all of us she had ever seen. She was much pleased at being introduced to her great grand-children, and expressed much pleasure and gratification on seeing me.
My grandfather, Asael Smith, long ago predicted that there would be a prophet raised up in his family, and my grandmother was fully satisfied that it was fulfilled in me. My grandfather Asael died in East Stockholm, St. Lawrence county, New York, after having received the Book of Mormon, and read it nearly through; and he declared that I was the very Prophet that he had long known would come in his family.
On the 18th, my uncle Silas Smith and family arrived from the east. My father, three of his brothers, and their mother, met the first time for many years. It was a happy day, for we had long prayed to see our grandmother and uncles in the Church.
Death of the Prophet's Grandmother.
On May 27, after a few days' visit with her children, which she enjoyed extremely well, my grandmother fell asleep without sickness, pain or regret. She breathed her last about sunset, and was buried in the burial ground near the Temple, after a funeral address had been delivered by Sidney Rigdon. 2 She had buried one daughter, Sarah; two Sons, Stephen and Samuel; and her husband, who died October 30, 1830, and left five sons and three daughters still living. At the death of my grandfather, who had kept a record, there were one hundred and ten children, grand children and great grand children. My uncle Stephen, and aunt Sarah, were buried side by side in the burial grounds in Royalton, Windsor county, Vermont. Stephen died July 25th, 1802, aged seventeen years, three months, and eleven days.
Case of Chas. Kelley.
May 23.—The case of Elder Charles Kelly was again brought before the High Council, then in session, and it was proved that he left his family in a destitute condition, about the time of the solemn assembly, which, together with other unchristianlike conduct, led the Council to decide that he be expelled from the Church.
Also Asael Perry was cut off from the Church for unchristianlike conduct.
Job L. Lewis was excommunicated, for treating the Church with contempt.
May 17.—Died, in Kirtland, Miss Mary Smith, in the thirty-fifth year of her age. The deceased was a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints, and died in the triumphs of faith.
June 2.—President Phelps wrote a letter from Liberty, Missouri, to President Oliver Cowdery, from which I make the following extracts:
Letter from W. W. Phelps to the Brethren in Kirtland.
Since I returned home to Missouri, I have been out on two expeditions, examining the regions of the "Far West." Soon after our return, Bishop Partridge and myself passed from Liberty to the northwest corner of Clay county, and examined the mills and streams, and country around Mr. Smith's, generally denominated "Yankee Smith." It is customary, you know, for the sake of provincialism, among nations, kindreds and people, to nick-name [people] by their religion, or province or ancestry; so that one can be distinguished by being an Israelite, a Canaanite, a Christian, a "Mormon," a Methodist, or a Corn Cracker, or a Mighty Hunter, &c., according to fancy or favor.
From Mr. Smith's, we proceeded north-easterly through some timber and some prairie to Plattsburg, the county seat for Clinton county, "a smart little town," containing from fifteen to twenty hewed log cabins, and a two-story court house, thirty-two feet square. This town is located on the west side of Horse and Smith's fork of the Little Platte, contiguous to the timber on these streams, twenty-five miles north of Liberty. The timber, mill, and water privileges may answer a very small population, but for a large population they would be nothing. There are now three stores, and soon will be four. Clinton county is mostly prairie, with here and there a few fringes or spots of timber on the creeks that run into the Little Platte and Grand River.
From this town we made the best course we could to the waters of Grand River. We had a "sort of road" towards Busby Fork, then we had to contend with naked prairie, patches of scrubby timber, deep banked creeks and branches, together with a rainy morning, and no compass; but with the blessing of the Lord, we came to "some house" in the afternoon, and passed into Ray county. On Shoal creek, where there is water, there are some tolerable mill sites; but the prairies—those "old clearings," peering one over another, as far as the eye can glance, flatten all common calculation as to timber for boards, rails, or future wants, for a thick population, according to the natural reasoning of men.
What the design of our heavenly Father was, or is, as to these vast prairies of the Far West, I know no further than we have revelation. The Book of Mormon terms them, the land of desolation; and when I get into a prairie so large that I am out of sight of timber, just as a seaman is "out of sight of land on the ocean," I have to exclaim—What are man and his works, compared with the Almighty and His creations? Who hath viewed His everlasting fields? Who hath counted His buffaloes? Who hath seen all His deer on a thousand prairies? The pinks variegate these wide-spread lawns, without the hand of man to aid them, and the bees of a thousand groves banquet on the flowers, unobserved, and sip the honey-dews of heaven. Nearly every skirt of timber to the state line on the north, I am informed, has some one in it. The back settlers are generally very honorable, and more hospitable than any people I ever saw, you are in most instances, welcome to the best they have.
W. W. Phelps.
Case of Preserved Harris and Isaac McWithy.
The High Council assembled in the Lord's house in Kirtland on the 16th of June, Presidents Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G Williams presiding, to investigate the charges of "A want of benevolence to the poor, and charity to the Church," which I had previously preferred against Brother Preserved Harris and Elder Isaac McWithy. After a full and lengthy investigation, the Council decided that the charges were fully sustained against Preserved Harris, and that the hand of fellowship be withdrawn from him, until he shall see that the course he is pursuing is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus.
In the pleas of the Councilors, in the case of Elder McWithy, they decided that the charges had been fully sustained; after which, I spoke in my turn as accuser, and stated that I called on the accused, in company with President Oliver Cowdery, for money to send up to Zion, but could get none; afterwards saw him, and asked him if he would sell his farm. He at first seemed willing, and wished to build up Zion. He pleaded excuse in consequence of his liberality to the poor. We offered him three thousand dollars for his farm, would give him four or five hundred dollars to take him to Zion, and settle him there, and an obligation for the remainder, with good security and interest. He went and told Father Lyon that we demanded all his property, and so we lost four or five hundred dollars; because the accused told him [Lyon] such a story, [that] he calculated to keep it [the aforesaid four or five hundred dollars] himself.
The accused, Elder McWithy, arose and said it was the first time he had been called upon to clear himself before a High Council. He complained of being called contrary to the rules of the Gospel, before the Council. The president decided that as the case was now before the Council, this pl a could not now be urged, but should have been made in the beginning. Elder McWithy pleaded that he had relieved the wants of the poor, and did so many good things that he was astonished that he should hear such things as he had heard today, because he did not give all he had got to one man. If he had done wrong he asked forgiveness of God and the Church.
During the quarter ending the 3rd of June, 1836, two hundred and forty-four Elders', eleven Priests', three Teachers', and five Deacons' licenses were recorded in the license Records, in Kirtland, Ohio.
Departure of the Patriarch and John Smith on a Mission.
June 22.—My father and Uncle John Smith started on a mission to visit the branches of the Church in the Eastern States, to set them in order, and confer on the brethren their patriarchal blessings. I took my mother and Aunt Clarissa (my Uncle John's wife,) in a carriage, and accompanied them to Painsville, where we procured a bottle of wine, broke bread, ate and drank, and parted after the ancient order, with the blessings of God.
June 28.—Elder Warren Parrish wrote from Hickman county, Tennessee, stating that:—
Many citizens of the county of Benton, and some of Carroll had met in convention, headed by a Methodist priest, who was called to the chair, and the county clerk appointed secretary. They drew up resolutions to drive all the "Mormon preachers from their coast," signed by the sheriff and many who were sworn to be civil, peace-officers, also colonels, majors, &c. We enjoyed our meeting unmolested at Brother Utley's, on Saturday, the 19th instant. Hundreds had entered into the conspiracy. In the afternoon, a little before sunset, a company of some forty or fifty men made their appearance; some on foot, others mounted, two on a horse, with guns, sticks, clubs, &c. They were led by a sheriff, colonel, first and second major, other officers, and a Methodist priest, with a gun on his shoulder.
The sheriff informed us that he had states' warrant for David W. Patten, Warren Parrish, and Wilford Woodruff; issued on complaint of the Methodist priest, Matthew Williams, chairman as above; who swore that we had put forth the following false and pretended prophecy; viz.: that Christ would come the second time before this generation passes away; also that four individuals should receive the Holy Ghost within four and twenty hours. The company consisted, as we were informed, of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, liars, drunkards, hog and horse thieves. So determined were they, to force us off at that late hour, that it was with much difficulty we could prevail on them to show us any lenity; however, they protracted the time of our appearance at court until Tuesday by giving our bond, with surety of two brethren, in the sum of one thousand dollars.
They intended to have led us into the woods, under the dark curtain of night with the pretension of taking us before the magistrate that they might the better execute their diabolical designs upon us.
On Tuesday, in company with about twenty brethren and warm friends, who were ready and willing to lay down their lives for us, we went before our rulers, and found about one hundred persons assembled, armed with guns, pistols, dirks, clubs, sticks, &c. At a late hour we prevailed on the sheriff to have the court called, which consisted of three magistrates, one of whom was rejected from the judgment-seat, because some of his family were members of our Church.
The sheriff, with leave of court, divested us of our arms, consisting of walking sticks and a pocket knife. A man by the name of Perkins, (who report says, had run his county for hog stealing, and also had been guilty of concealing a stolen horse, for which he had lost part of his nose,) was appointed by the court to act as states' attorney; or in other words mob solicitor-general, to abuse the innocent and screen the guilty.
After the conspirators had witnessed against us, the court refused to hear any testimony on our part, being controlled by the bandits. Perkins made a plea against us, but we were not permitted to reply. The verdict of the court was, that they concluded that the charges preferred against us had been sustained, and that we were bound over to court for trial. Our accusers did not attempt to prove that those who were promised the Holy Ghost did not receive it; and the candid can judge whether he who prophesies that Christ will come the second time in this generation, is a false prophet. Also our complainant testified that these crimes were committed in 1834, and it is a well known fact that Elder Woodruff, whose name is on the warrant, (though not arrested,) was not in this state until 1835. So much for an oath from a Methodist priest.
While the court was preparing our bonds, another warrant was served on Elder Patten; the mob without, and the mob within, whose intoxicating zeal had arisen to its zenith, were threatening our lives, and seemed only to wait the dark shades of night, which were fast gathering round, to cover them, while they should wreak their hands in our blood; the influence of our friends, as instruments in the hands of our God, kept this gathering storm from bursting upon our heads. About this time the sheriff proposed to us that if we would leave the county in ten days, and pay the cost, they would set us at liberty; at the same time informing us it was the only way to escape the hands of the mob, who were hardly restrained from acts of violence. One of the brethren present offered to pay the cost, and all advised us to accept the offer; which, in itself, proved that we were innocent of any crime, although in its nature most insulting.
(Signed) Warren Parrish.
Minutes of a Public Meeting at Liberty, Missouri.
On the 29th of June, a respectable number of the citizens being previously notified of the meeting, met at the court-house, in the town of Liberty, Missouri. On motion, John Bird was called to the chair, and John F. Doherty appointed secretary. The object of the meeting, was, by request of the chair, explained in a few appropriate remarks, by Colonel Wood; when on motion of Colonel William T. Wood, a committee of nine was appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting; whereupon the following gentlemen were chosen—namely: John Thornton, Esq., Peter Rogers, Esq., Andrew Robertson, Esq., James T. V. Thompson, Colonel W. T. Wood, Doctor Woodson, J. Moss, James H. Hughes, Esq., David R. Atchison, Esq., and A. W. Doniphan, Esq., who retired and in a short time returned and made, through their chairman, Colonel John Thornton, the following unanimous report, which was read:
It is apparent to every reflecting mind that a crisis has arisen in this country, that requires the deep, cool, dispassionate consideration, and immediate action of every lover of peace, harmony and good order. We cannot conceal from ourselves the fact that at this moment the clouds of civil war are rolling up their fearful masses, and hanging over our devoted country. Solemn, dark and terrible. This painful state of things has been produced mainly by the rapid and increasing emigration of that people commonly called Mormons, during the last few months. It is known to all, that in November, 1833, these people were expelled from their homes in Jackson county, without money, without property, without the means of subsistence for themselves, their wives and their children, and like Noah's dove, without a resting place for their feet.
They came to our county thus friendless and penniless, (seeking as they said) but a temporary asylum from the storm of persecution by which they were then buffeted. Their destitute and miserable condition, at that inclement season of the year, excited the deep sympathies of the philanthropic and hospitable citizens of this county; and notwithstanding the thousand reports that were borne on the wings of the wind, charging them with almost every crime known to the laws of our country, yet our feelings of kindness and sympathy for human suffering prevailed over every obstacle, and they were received with friendship and treated with toleration, and often with remarks of peculiar kindness. They always declared that they looked not upon this county as their home, but as a temporary asylum; and that, whenever, a respectable portion of the citizens of this county should request it, they would promptly leave us in peace as they found us.
That period has now arrived. Duty to ourselves, to our families, and to the best interests of our country, requires at our hands, to demand the fulfillment of that pledge. They are charged by those who are opposed to them with an unfriendly determination to violate that pledge. Their rapid emigration, their large purchases, and offers to purchase lands, the remarks of the ignorant and imprudent portion of them, that this country is destined by heaven to be theirs are received and looked upon, by a large portion of this community, as strong and convincing proofs that they intend to make this county their permanent home, the centre and general rendezvous of their people.
These are some of the reasons why these people have become objects of the deepest hatred and detestation to many of our citizens. They are eastern men, whose manners, habits, customs, and even dialect, are essentially different from our own. They are non-slaveholders, and opposed to slavery, which in this peculiar period, when abolitionism has reared its deformed and haggard visage in our land, is well calculated to excite deep and abiding prejudices in any community where slavery is tolerated and protected.
In addition to all this, they are charged, as they have hitherto been, with keeping up a constant communication with our Indian tribes on our frontiers, with declaring, even from the pulpit, that the Indians are a part of God's chosen people, and are destined by heaven to inherit this land, in common with themselves. We do not vouch for the correctness of these statements; but whether they are true or false, their effect has been the same in exciting our community. In times of greater tranquility, such ridiculous remarks might well be regarded as the offspring of frenzied fanaticism; but at this time, our defenseless situation on the frontier, the bloody disasters of our fellow citizens in Florida, and other parts of the south, all tend to make a portion of our citizens regard such sentiments with horror, if not alarm. These and many other causes, have combined to raise a prejudice against them; and a feeling of hostility, that the first spark may, and we deeply fear will, ignite into all the horrors and desolations of a civil war, the worst evil that can befall any country.
We therefore feel it our duty to come forward, as mediators, and use every means in our power to prevent the occurrence of so great an evil. As the most efficacious means to arrest the evil, we urge on the Mormons to use every means to put an immediate stop to the emigration of their people to this county. We earnestly urge them to seek some other abiding place, where the manners, the habits, and customs of the people will be more consonant with their own.
For this purpose we would advise them to explore the territory of Wisconsin. This country is peculiarly suited to their conditions and their wants. It is almost entirely unsettled; they can there procure large bodies of land together, where there are no settlements, and none to interfere with then. It is a territory in which slavery is prohibited, and it is settled entirely with emigrants from the North and East.
The religious tenets of this people are so different from the present churches of the age, that they always have, and always will, excite deep prejudices against them in any populous country where they may locate. We, therefore, in a spirit of frank and friendly kindness, do advise them to seek a home where they may obtain large and separate bodies of land, and have a community of their own. We further say to them, if they regard their own safety and welfare, if they regard the welfare of their families, their wives and children, they will ponder with deep and solemn reflection on this friendly admonition.
If they have one spark of gratitude, they will not willingly plunge a people into civil war, who held out to them the friendly hand of assistance in that hour of dark distress, when there was few to say God save them. We can only say to them if they still persist in the blind course they have heretofore followed in flooding the country with their people, that we fear and firmly believe that an immediate civil war is the inevitable consequence. We know that there is not one among us who thirsts for the blood of that people.
We do not contend that we have the least right, under the Constitution and laws of the country, to expel them by force. But we would indeed be blind, if we did not foresee that the first blow that is struck, at this moment of deep excitement, must and will speedily involve every individual in a war, bearing ruin, woe, and desolation in its course. It matters but little how, where, or by whom, the war may begin, when the work of destruction commences, we must all be borne onward by the storm, or crushed beneath its fury. In a civil war, when our homes are the theatre on which it is fought, there can be no neutrals; let our opinions be what they may, we must fight in self-defense.
We want nothing, we ask nothing, we would have nothing from this people, we only ask them, for their own safety, and for ours, to take the least of the two evils. Most of them are destitute of land, have but little property, are late emigrants to this country, without relations, friends, or endearing ties to bind them to this land. At the risk of such imminent peril to them and to us, we request them to leave us, when their crops are gathered, their business settled, and they have made every suitable preparation to remove. Those who have forty acres of land, we are willing should remain until they can dispose of it without loss, if it should require years. But we urge, most strongly urge, that emigration cease, and cease immediately, as nothing else can or will allay for a moment, the deep excitement that is now unhappily agitating this community.
If the Mormons will comply with these friendly requisitions, we will use every exertion among our own citizens, to arrest this evil before it is forever too late; but if they are disregarded, we can promise neither them nor ourselves, a long continuation of the blessings of peace and harmony.
1st. Therefore be it Resolved by this meeting, that we view with feelings of the deepest regret the present unhappy situation of our country.
2nd. That it is the fixed and settled conviction of this meeting that unless the people commonly called Mormons will agree to stop immediately the emigration of their people to this county, and take measures to remove themselves from it, a civil war is inevitable.
3rd. That a committee of ten be appointed to make known to the leaders of that people, the views of this meeting, and to urge upon them the propriety of acceding to these propositions.
4th. The said committee consisting of Andrew Robertson, Michael Arthur, Littlebury Sublet, John Baxter, James M. Hughes, W. J. Moss, John Bird, Peter Rogers, W. T. Wood and J. T. V. Thompson, who shall meet on the morrow at the house of Mr. Cowan, and confer with the Mormons, and report at this meeting, as soon thereafter as convenient, the reply of the Mormons to these requisitions.
5th. That if the Mormons agree to these propositions, we will use every means in our power to allay the excitement among our own citizens, and to get them to await the result of these things. That it is the opinion of this meeting that the recent emigrants among the Mormons should take measures to leave this county immediately, as they have no crops on hand, and nothing to lose by continuing their journey to some more friendly land. On motion of Wm. T. Wood, the preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted. Be it resolved that this meeting adjourn until Saturday next.
John Bird Chairman,
John F. Doherty, Secretary.
Minutes of a Public Meeting of the Saints in Clay County, Missouri, Held to Consider the Proposition of the Citizens of Clay County that the Latter-day Saints Move into another Part of the State.
July 1, 1836. At a very large meeting of the Elders of the Church of Latter-day Saints, assembled in Clay county, Missouri, W. W. Phelps was called to the chair, and John Corrill appointed secretary. The preamble and resolutions from a meeting of citizens of the 29th ultimo, was read, and a committee of twelve, viz., Edward Partridge, Isaac Morley, Lyman Wight, Thomas B. Marsh, Elias Higby, Calvin Bebee, Isaac Hitchcock, Isaac Higby, Samuel Bent, Titus Billings, James Emmet, and R. Evans, were appointed, who retired, and after a short time reported the following preamble and resolutions:
Resolved, that we (the "Mormons," so called), are grateful for the kindness which has been shown to us by the citizens of Clay county since we have resided with them; and being desirous for peace, and wishing the good rather than the ill-will of mankind, we will use all honorable means to allay the excitement, and so far as we can, remove any foundation for jealousies against us as a people. We are aware that many rumors prejudicial to us as a society are afloat, and time only can prove their falsity to the world at large.
We deny having claim to this, or any other county, or country, further than we shall purchase the land with money, or more than the Constitution and laws allow us as free American citizens. We have taken no part for or against slavery; but are opposed to the abolitionists, and consider that men have a right to hold slaves or not, according to law.
We believe it just to preach the Gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruptions of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bondservants, nor preach the Gospel to them, nor meddle with nor influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situation in this life; thereby jeopardizing the lives of men. Such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude.
We deny holding any communications with the Indians; and mean to hold ourselves as ready to defend our country against their barbarous ravages, as any other people. We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly. It is needless to enter into any further detail of our faith, or mention our sufferings; therefore—
First. Resolved: For the sake of friendship, and to be in a covenant of peace with the citizens of Clay county, and they to be in a covenant of peace with us, notwithstanding the necessary loss of property, and expense we incur in moving, we comply with the requisitions of their resolutions in leaving Clay county, as explained by the preamble accompanying the same; and that we will use our exertions to have the Church do the same; and that we will also exert ourselves to stop the tide of emigration of our people to this county.
Second. Resolved: That we accept the friendly offer verbally tendered to us by the committee yesterday, to assist us in selecting a location, and removing to it.
Third. Resolved, unanimously: That this meeting accept and adopt the above preamble and resolutions, which are here presented by the committee.
Fourth. Resolved: That Thomas B. Marsh, Lyman Wight, and Samuel Bent, be a committee to carry the minutes of these proceedings to the meeting of the citizens of Clay county, to be held tomorrow at Liberty. The foregoing resolutions were unanimously adopted by the meeting.
W. W. Phelps, Chairman,
John Corrill, Secretary.
Minutes of the Second Meeting of the Citizens of Clay County.
The citizens of Clay county met pursuant to adjournment. The chairman and secretary resumed their stations, when the committee appointed by the public meeting of the citizens at the court house, in Liberty, on the 29th ultimo, reported through their chairman, W. J. Moss, the foregoing preamble and resolutions of the Elders of the Church of Latter-day Saints, on the 1st instant, whereupon it was
Resolved, That this meeting do accept and receive the reply of the Mormons to the resolution passed on Wednesday, the 29th of June, as perfectly satisfactory.
Be it further Resolved by this meeting, that we will use our utmost endeavors to carry into effect the object contained in the preamble and resolutions passed on Wednesday, the 29th, as agreed to by the Mormons.
Be it further Resolved, That we urge it on our fellow citizens to keep the peace towards the Mormons, as good faith, justice, morality and religion require.
Be it further Resolved, That a committee of ten persons, two in each township, be appointed to raise money by subscription to aid those of the Mormons who may from necessity require it, to leave this county.
Resolved, That Samuel Tillery Jeremiah Minger and Abraham Shafer be appointed a committee to receive the pecuniary aid by subscription for the purpose of aiding the poor persons that may belong to the Mormons in removing from this county to their place of abode, and that the Elders of the Church be requested to report the above-named persons to the aforesaid committee, who will judge of the proofs and facts entitling the Mormons to pecuniary aid, and appropriate the funds accordingly.
Resolved, That the said committee be authorized to employ some suitable person to accompany those that may wish to examine a new country. It is also understood that if the money which may be received by the committee is not appropriated for the purpose above named, it shall be refunded back in proportion to the amount subscribed.
Resolved, That the chair appoint five persons in each township to carry the object of the above resolutions into effect.
The following gentlemen were then appointed in the different townships. For Liberty township, John Thornton, Joel Turnham, Peter Rogers, John Bird, David R. Atchison; for Fishing River township, Elisha Cameron, E. Price, G. Withers, M. Welton, James Kazey; for Platte township, T. C. Gordon, S. Harris, W. Owen, L. Rollins, I. Marsh; for Washington township, B. Riley, S. Crawford, T. Findley, G. McIlvaine, P. Y. G. Bartee; for Gallatin township, D. Dale, N. Nash, William Todd, B. Ricketts, R. Forboin.
Be it further Resolved, That this meeting recommend the Mormons to the good treatment of the citizens of the adjoining counties. We also recommend the inhabitants of the neighboring counties to assist the Mormons in selecting some abiding place for their people where they will be, in a measure, the only occupants; and where none will be anxious to molest them.
Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be handed over to the publishers of the Far West with a request that it be printed, which was severally read and unanimously adopted, and meeting adjourned.
John Bird, Chairman,
John F. Doherty, Secretary.
Liberty, July 2nd, 1836.
Letter from the Brethren at Kirtland to the Brethren in Missouri.
Kirtland, July 25th, 1836.
To W. W. Phelps and Others:
Dear Brethren:—Yours of the first inst., accompanying the proceedings of a public meeting held by the people of Clay county, was duly received. We are sorry that this disturbance has broken out, but we do not consider it our fault. You are better acquainted with circumstances than we are, and, of course, have been directed by wisdom in your moves relative to leaving the county.
We forward you our letter to Mr. Thornton and others that you may know all that we have said. We advise that you be not the first aggressors. Give no occasion, and if the people will let you, dispose of your property, settle your affairs, and go in peace. You have thus far had an asylum, and now seek another, as God may direct.
Relative to your going to Wisconsin, we cannot say, we should think if you could stop short, in peace, you had better do so. You know our feelings relative to not giving the first offense, and also of protecting your wives and little ones in case a mob should seek their lives. We shall publish the proceedings of the public meeting, with your answer, as well as our letter. We mean that the world shall know all things as they transpire. If we are persecuted and driven men shall know it.
Be wise; let prudence dictate all your counsels; preserve peace with all men, if possible; stand by the Constitution of your country; observe its principles; and above all, show yourselves men of God, worthy citizens, and we doubt not, the community, ere long, will do you justice, and rise in indignation against those who are the instigators of your sufferings and afflictions.
In the bonds of brotherly love we subscribe ourselves, as ever,
Joseph Smith, Jun.,
F. G. Williams,
The letter to Mr. Thornton referred to above was as follows:
Kirtland, Geauga County, Ohio,
July 25, 1836.
To John Thornton, Esq., Peter Rogers, Esq., Andrew Robertson, Esq., James T. V. Thompson, Esq., Colonel William T. Wood, Doctor Woodson, I. Moss, James H. Hughes, Esq., David R. Atchison, Esq, and A. W. Doniphan, Esq.:
Gentlemen:—We have just perused, with feelings of deep interest, an article in the Far West, printed at Liberty, Clay county, Missouri, containing the proceeding of a public meeting of the citizens of said county on the subject of an excitement now prevailing among you, occasioned either from false reports against the Church of Latter-day Saints, or from the fact that said Church is considered dangerous to the welfare of your country; and will, if suffered among you under existing circumstances, cause the ties of peace and friendship, so desirable among all men, to be burst asunder, and bring war and desolation upon your own pleasant homes.
While rumor is afloat with her accustomed cunning, and while public opinion is fast rising, like a flood tide against the members of the Church, we cannot but admire the candor with which your preambles and resolutions were clothed, as presented to the citizens of Clay county on the 29th of June last; though, as you expressed in your report to said meeting, "We do not contend that we have the least right, under the Constitution and laws of the country, to expel them by force." yet communities may be at times unexpectedly thrown into a situation when wisdom, prudence, and that first item in nature's law, self defense would dictate that the responsible and influential part [of a community] should step forward and guide the public mind in a course to save difficulty, preserve rights and spare the innocent blood from staining the soil so dearly purchased with the lives and fortunes of our fathers. As you have come forward as "mediators" to prevent the effusion of blood and save disasters consequent upon civil war, we take this opportunity to present to you, though strangers, and through you, if you wish, to the people of Clay county, our heart-felt gratitude for every kindness rendered our friends in affliction, when driven from their peaceful homes; and to yourselves, also, for the prudent course in the present excited state of your community; but in doing this, justice to ourselves, as communicants of that Church to which our friends belong, and duty towards them as acquaintances and former fellow citizens, require us to say something to exonerate them from the foul charges brought against them, to deprive them of their constitutional privileges and drive them from the face of society.
They have been charged, in consequence of the whims and vain notions of some few uninformed [persons], with claiming that upper country, [north-western Missouri], and that ere long they were to possess it at all hazards and in defiance of all consequences. This is unjust and far from having a foundation in truth; a thing not expected or looked for—not desired by this society as a people, and where the idea could have originated is unknown to us. We do not, neither did we ever, insinuate a thing of this kind, or hear it from the leading men of the society now in your country. There is nothing in all our religious faith to warrant it, but on the contrary, the most strict injunctions to live in obedience to the laws and follow peace with all men; and we doubt not but a recurrence to the Jackson county difficulties with our friends will fully satisfy you, that at least heretofore such has been the course followed by them, that instead of fighting for their own rights they have sacrificed them for a season to wait the redress guaranteed in the law and so anxiously looked for at a time distant from this.
We have been, and are still, clearly under the conviction that had our friends been disposed they might have maintained their possessions in Jackson county. They might have resorted to the same barbarous means with their neighbors, throwing down dwellings, threatening lives, driving innocent women and children from their homes, and thereby have annoyed their enemies equally at least; but to their credit—and it must ever remain upon the page of time to their honor—this they did not do. They had possessions, they had homes, they had sacred rights, and more still, they had helpless, harmless innocence, with an approving conscience that they had violated no law of their country or their God to urge them forword; but to show to all that they were willing to forego these for the peace of their country they tamely submitted, and have since been wanderers among strangers (though hospitable) without homes. We think these sufficient reasons to show to your patriotic minds that our friends, instead of having wish to expel a community by force of arms, would suffer their rights to be taken from them before shedding blood.
Another charge brought against our friends is that of being dangerous in societies "where slavery is tolerated and practiced." Without occupying time here we refer you to the April (1836) number of the Latter-day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, printed at this place, a copy of which we forward to each of you. From the length of time which has elapsed since its publication, you can easily see it was put forth for no other reason than to correct the public mind generally, without a reference or expectation of any excitement of the nature of the one now in your county. Why we refer you particularly to this publication is because many of our friends who are now in the West were in this place when this paper made its appearance, and from personal observation gave it their decided approbation, and declared those sentiments to be their own in the fullest particular.
Another charge of great magnitude is brought against our friends in the West, that of "keeping up a constant communication with the Indian tribes on the frontier; with declaring even from the pulpit that the Indians are a part of God's chosen people, and are destined by heaven to inherit this land, in common with themselves." We know of nothing under the present aspect of our Indian relations calculated to arouse the fears of the people of the Upper Missouri more than a combination or influence of this nature; and we cannot look upon it as being other than one of the most subtle purposes of those whose feelings are embittered against our friends to turn the eye of suspicion upon them from every man who is acquainted with the barbarous cruelty of rude savages. Since a rumor was afloat that the western Indians were showing signs of war we have received frequent private letters from our friends who have not only expressed fears for their own safety, in case the Indians should break out, but a decided determination to be among the first to repel any invasion and defend the frontier from all hostilities. We mention the last fact because it was wholly uncalled for on our part and came previous to any excitement on the part of the people of Clay county against our friends and must definitely show that this charge is also untrue.
Another charge against our friends and one that is urged as a reason why they must immediately leave Clay county, is, that they are making, or are likely to make the same "their permanent home, the center and general rendezvous of their people." We have never understood such to be the purpose, wish, or design of this society; but on the contrary, have ever supposed that those who resided in Clay county only designed it as a temporary residence until the law and authority of our country should put them in the quiet possession of their homes in Jackson county; and such as had not possessions there could purchase to the entire satisfaction and interest of the people of Jackson county.
Having partially mentioned the leading objections urged against our friends, we would here add, that it has not been done with a view, on our part, to dissuade you from acting in strict conformity with your preamble and resolutions offered to the people of Clay county on the 29th ult., but from a sense of duty to a people embarrassed, persecuted and afflicted; for you are aware, gentlemen, that in times of excitement virtues we transformed into vices; acts, which in other cases and other circumstances would be considered upright and honorable, are interpreted contrary to their real intent and made objectionable and criminal; and from whom could we look forbearance and compassion, with confidence and assurance, more than from those whose bosoms are warmed with those pure principles of patriotism with which you have been guided in the present instance, to secure the peace of your county and save a persecuted people from further violence and destruction?
It is said that our friends are poor; that they have but little or nothing to bind their feelings or wishes to Clay county, and that in consequence they have a less claim upon that county. We do not deny the fact that our friends are poor; but their persecutions have helped to render them so. While other men were peacefully following their vocations and extending their interests they have been deprived of the right of citizenship, prevented from enjoying their own, charged with violating the sacred principles of our Constitution and laws, made to feel the keenest aspersions of the tongue of slander, waded through all but death, and are now suffering under calumnies calculated to excite the indignation and hatred of every people among whom they dwell, thereby exposing them to destruction and inevitable ruin.
If a people, a community, or a society can accumulate wealth, increase in worldly fortune, improve in science and arts, rise to eminence in the eyes of the public, surmount these difficulties, so much as to bid defiance to poverty and wretchedness, it must be a new creation, a race of beings superhuman. But in all their poverty and wants we have yet to learn for the first time that our friends are not industrious and temperate; and wherein they have not always been the last to retaliate or resent an injury. and the first to overlook and forgive. We do not urge that there are no exceptions to be found; all communities, all societies and associations are cumbered with disorderly and less virtuous members—members who violate in a greater or less degree, the principles of the same; but this can be no just criterion by which to judge a whole society; and further still where a people are laboring under constant fear of being dispossessed; very little inducement is held out to excite them to be industrious.
We think, gentlemen, that we have pursued the subject far enough, and we here express to you, as we have in a letter accompanying this to our friends, our decided disapprobation to the idea of shedding blood, if any other course can be followed to avoid it; in which case, and which alone, we have urged upon our friends to desist, only in extreme cases of self defense; and in this case not to give the offense or provoke their fellow men to acts of violence, which we have no doubt they will observe as they ever have done; for you may rest assured, gentlemen, that we would be the last to advise our friends to shed the blood of men or commit one act to endanger the public peace. We have no doubt but our friends will leave your county, sooner or later; they have not only signified the same to us, but we have advised them so to do as fast as they can without incurring too much loss. It may be said that they have but little to lose if they lose the whole. But if they have but little that little is their all, and the necessities of the helpless urge them to make a prudent disposal of the same. We are highly pleased with a proposition in your preamble, suffering them to remain peaceably until a disposition can be made of their land, etc., which, if suffered, our fears are at once hushed, and we have every reason to believe that during the remaining part of the residence of our friends in your county the same feelings of friendship and kindness will continue to exist that have heretofore, and that when they leave you, you will have no reflection of sorrow that they have been sojourners among you.
To what distance or place they will remove we are unable to say; in that they must be dictated by judgment and prudence. They may explore the territory of Wisconsin, they may remove there, or they may stop on the other side, of this we are unable to say; but be they where they will we have this gratifying reflection, that they have never been the first, in an unjust manner, to violate the laws, injure their fellow men, or disturb the tranquility and peace under which any part of our country has heretofore reposed; and we cannot but believe that ere long, the public mind must undergo a change, when it will appear to the satisfaction of all that this people have been illy treated and abused without cause, and when as justice would demand, those who have been the instigators of their sufferings will be regarded as their true characters demand.
Our religious principles are before the world ready for the investigation of all men, yet we are aware that all the persecution against our friends has arisen in consequence of calumnies and misconstructions without foundation in truth and righteousness. This we have endured in common with all other religious societies at their first commencement. Should Providence order that we rise not as others before us to respectability and esteem, but be trodden down by the ruthless force of extermination, posterity will do us justice when our persecutors are equally low in the dust with ourselves, to hand down to succeeding generations the virtuous acts and forbearance of a people who sacrificed their reputation for their religion; and their earthly fortunes and happiness to preserve peace and save this land from being further drenched in blood.
We have no doubt but your very seasonable mediation in the time of so great an excitement will accomplish your most sanguine desires in preventing further disorder; and we hope, gentlemen, that while you reflect upon the fact that the citizens of Clay county are urgent for our friends to leave you, that you will also bear in mind that by their complying with your request to leave they are surrendering some of the dearest rights guaranteed in the Constitution of our country; and that human nature can be driven to a certain extent when it will yield no further. Therefore, while our friends suffer so much and forego so many sacred rights, we sincerely hope, and we have every reason to expect it, that a suitable forbearance may be shown by the people of Clay county; which, if done, the cloud which has been obscuring your horizon will disperse and you be left to enjoy peace, harmony and prosperity.
With sentiments of esteem and profound respect, we are, gentlemen, your obedient servants,
Joseph Smith, Jun.,
Frederick G. Williams,
The following letter was received at Liberty, Clay county, Missouri, on the 28th of July:
Letter from Daniel Dunklin to the Saints in Missouri.
City of Jefferson, July 18th, 1836.
Messrs. W. W. Phelps and Others:
Gentlemen:—The treatment your people have received, and are now receiving, is of an extraordinary character, such as is seldom experienced in any country by any people. As an individual I sympathize with you, and as the executive of the state, deeply deplore such a state of things. Your appeal to the executive is a natural one; but a proper understanding of our institutions will show you that yours is a case not for the special cognizance of the executive. It is a case, or, I may say, they are cases of individual wrongs. These, as I have before told you, are subjects for judicial interference; and there are cases sometimes of individual outrage which may be so popular as to render the action of courts of justice nugatory, in endeavoring to afford a remedy. I would refer you to the charge of Judge Lawless, made to the grand jury of St. Louis. Public sentiment may become paramount law; and when one man or society of men become so obnoxious to that sentiment as to determine the people to be rid of him or them, it is useless to run counter to it.
The time was when the people (except those in Jackson county) were divided, and the major part in your favor; that does not now seem to be the case. Why is this so? Does your conduct merit such censures as exist against you? It is not necessary for me to give my opinion. Your neighbors accuse your people of holding illicit communication with the Indians, and of being opposed to slavery. You deny. Whether the charge or the denial is true I cannot tell. The fact exists and your neighbors seem to believe it true; and whether true or false, the consequences will be the same (if your opponents are not merely gasconading), unless you can, by your conduct and arguments, convince them of your innocence. If you cannot do this, all I can say to you is that in this Republic the vox populi is the vox Dei.