Volume 2 Chapter 8
Zion's Camp Disbanded—An Appeal.
June 23.—We resumed our march for Liberty, Clay county, taking a circuitous course around the heads of Fishing river, to avoid the deep water. When within five or six miles of Liberty, we were met by General Atchison and other gentlemen, who desired us not to go to Liberty because the feelings of the people were so much enraged against us. At their solicitation we turned our course, wheeling to the left, and crossing the prairie and woodland, came to Brother Algernon Sidney Gilbert's residence, and encamped on the bank of Rush creek, in Brother Burket's 1 field.
A council of High Priests assembled in fulfillment of the revelation given the day previous, and the following individuals were called and chosen, as they were made manifest unto me by the voice of the Spirit and revelation, to receive their endowments:
Edward Partridge was called and chosen, to go to Kirtland and receive his endowment with power from on high, and also, to stand in his office as Bishop to purchase lands in the state of Missouri.
William W. Phelps was called and chosen, and it was appointed unto him to receive his endowment with power from on high, and help to carry on the printing establishment in Kirtland, until Zion is redeemed.
Isaac Morley and John Corrill were called and chosen, and it was appointed unto them to receive their endowment with power from on high in Kirtland, and assist in gathering up the strength of the Lord's house, and preach the Gospel.
John Whitmer and David Whitmer were called and chosen, and appointed to receive their endowment in Kirtland, and continue in their offices.
Algernon Sidney Gilbert was called and chosen, and appointed to receive his endowment in Kirtland, and to assist in gathering up the strength of the Lord's house, and to proclaim the everlasting Gospel until Zion is redeemed. But he said he "could not do it."
Peter Whitmer, Jun., Simeon Carter, Newel Knight, Parley P. Pratt, Christian Whitmer and Solomon Hancock were called and chosen; and it was appointed unto them to receive their endowment in Kirtland, with power from on high; to assist in gathering up the strength of the Lord's house; and to preach the everlasting Gospel.
Thomas B. Marsh was called and chosen; and it was appointed unto him to receive his endowment in Kirtland, his office to be made known hereafter.
Lyman Wight was called and chosen; and it was appointed unto him to receive his endowment in Kirtland, with power from on high; and return to Zion and have his office appointed unto him hereafter.
The same day the Elders made the following reply, before referred to, to "Samuel C. Owens and others, committee" of the Jackson county mob:
We, the undersigned committee, having full power and authority to settle and adjust all matters and differences existing between our people or society and the inhabitants of Jackson county, upon honorable and constitutional principles; therefore, if the said inhabitants of Jackson county will not let us return to our lands in peace, we are willing to propose first: that twelve disinterested men, six to be chosen by our people, and six by the inhabitants of Jackson county; and these twelve men shall say what the lands of those men are worth in that county, who cannot consent to live with us, and they shall receive their money for the same in one year from the time the treaty is made, and none of our people shall enter the county to reside till the money is paid. The said twelve men shall have power also to say what the damages shall be for the injuries we have sustained in the destruction of property and in being driven from our possessions, which amount of damages shall be deducted from the amount for their lands. Our object is peace, and an early answer will he expected.
W. W. Phelps,
A. S. Gilbert.
Cholera in the Camp.
June 24.—This night the cholera burst forth among us, and about midnight it was manifested in its most virulent form. Our ears were saluted with cries and moanings and lamentations on every hand; even those on guard fell to the earth with their guns in their hands, so sudden and powerful was the attack of this terrible disease. At the commencement, I attempted to lay on hands for their recovery, but I quickly learned by painful experience, that when the great Jehovah decrees destruction upon any people, and makes known His determination, man must not attempt to stay His hand. The moment I attempted to rebuke the disease I was attacked, and had I not desisted in my attempt to save the life of a brother, I would have sacrificed my own. The disease seized upon me like the talons of a hawk, and I said to the brethren: "If my work were done, you would have to put me in the ground without a coffin."
Zion's Camp Disbanded.
Early on the morning of the 25th, the camp was separated into small bands, and dispersed among the brethren living in the vicinity; and I wrote and sent by express, to "Messrs. Thornton, Doniphan, and Atchison," as follows:
Rush Creek, Clay County, June 25, 1834.
Gentlemen—Our company of men advanced yesterday from their encampment beyond Fishing river to Rush Creek, where their tents are again pitched. But feeling disposed to adopt every pacific measure, without jeopardizing our lives, to quiet the prejudices and fears of some part of the citizens of this county, we have concluded that our company shall be immediately dispersed, and continue so till every effort for an adjustment of differences between us and the people of Jackson has been made on our part. that would in any wise be required of us by disinterested men of republican principles.
I am respectfully, your obedient servant,
Joseph Smith, Jun.
N.B—You are now corresponding with the governor, (as I am informed); will you do us the favor to acquaint him of our efforts for a compromise. This information we want conveyed to the governor, inasmuch as his ears are stuffed with reports from Jackson, of our hostile intentions.
Fear of the Cholera.
I left Rush Creek the same day in company with David Whitmer and two other brethren, for the western part of Clay county. While traveling, we called at the house of a Mr. Moss for a drink of water. The woman of the house shouted from the door, that they had "no water for Mormons," that they were "afraid of the cholera," etc., at the same time throwing out her arms as if defending herself from the cholera in the form of a personage. We turned and departed, according to the commandment, and before a week had passed, the cholera entered that house, and that woman and three others of the family were dead.
First Victims of the Cholera.
When the cholera made its appearance, Elder John S. Carter was the first man who stepped forward to rebuke it, and upon this, was instantly seized, and became the first victim in the camp. He died about six o'clock in the afternoon; and Seth Hitchcock died in about thirty minutes afterwards. Erastus Rudd died about the same moment, although a half a mile distant. He was buried by Jesse Smith, George A. Smith and two or three others, and while burying him, Jesse Smith was attacked with the cholera. As it was impossible to obtain coffins, the brethren rolled the corpses in blankets, carried them on a horse-sled about half a mile, buried them on the bank of a small stream, which empties into Rush creek, all of which was accomplished by dark. When they had returned from the burial, the brethren unitedly covenanted and prayed, hoping the disease would be stayed; but in vain, for while thus covenanting, Eber Wilcox died; and while some were digging the grave, others stood sentry with their fire arms, watching their enemies. 2
June 26.—The Elders wrote Governor Dunklin as follows:
Sir—A company of our people, exceeding two hundred men, arrived in this county the 19th instant, and encamped about twelve miles from Liberty, where they were met by several gentlemen from this [Clay] and Ray county, who went by request of the people, to ascertain the motives and designs of our people in approaching this county; and as the deputation was composed of gentlemen who appeared to possess humane feelings and republican principles, our people were rejoiced at the opportunity of an interchange of feelings, and an open and frank avowal of all their views and intentions in emigrating to this country with their arms. A full explanation having been given in a public address by our brother, Joseph Smith, Jun., which produced great satisfaction, the same in substance was afterwards reduced to writing, and handed to the afore said gentlemen, that it might be made public. The shedding of blood is, and ever has been, foreign and revolting to our feelings; for this reason, we have patiently endured the grossest indignities that freemen of this republic have ever been called to suffer; and we still continue to bear with heart-rending feelings, a deprivation of our rights. We commenced negotiations with the inhabitants of Jackson county for a compromise, wherein proposals on our part have been made which have been acknowledged by every disinterested man to be highly honorable and liberal. An answer to our proposition has not yet been received from the people of Jackson county.
If we fail in this attempt, we intend to make another effort and go all lengths that could be required by human or divine law. As our proposals and correspondence with the inhabitants of Jackson county will doubtless hereafter be published, we think it unnecessary to detail the same in this communication. Our right to our soil in Jackson county we shall for ever claim, but to obtain peaceful possession we are willing to make great sacrifices. To allay excitement in this county, the aforesaid company of emigrants have dispersed to await the final end of all negotiations that can be made with the said county of Jackson.
Within the last week, one of our men being near the ferry, was seized by some Jackson citizens, while in this county, threatened with death if be made resistance, and carried over the river, a prisoner, to Independence, where he was put under guard one day and after hearing many threats, was liberated. The houses of several of our brethren in this county have been forcibly entered by some of the inhabitants of Jackson, and a number of guns and small arms taken therefrom. We have been informed and have no doubt of the fact that where the men were absent from their houses, loaded guns were presented to the females, and their lives threatened if they made resistance.
Your second order of the restoration of our arms, was received last mail; we have not yet done anything with it. Hoping that the influence of the inhabitants of Jackson county will materially lessen in the surrounding counties, and the people become more tranquil, we think it wisdom to defer petitioning for a guard, while there exists a hope of a compromise.
We believe that the President would render us assistance in obtaining possession of our lands, if aided by the executive of this state in a petition, and thereby put an end to serious evils that are growing out of the Jackson county outrage.
In a letter from your Excellency, of April 20th, we had a word on the subject of petitioning. We should be pleased to hear further. and would here observe that no communication from the executive, giving his opinion or advice, will be made public, if requested not to do so.
We are respectfully, and with great regard,
Your obedient servants,
A. S. Gilbert,
W. W. Phelps,
Death of Algernon Sidney Gilbert.
The drafting and signing of the above, was the last public act of the keeper of the Lord's storehouse Algernon Sidney Gilbert, for he was attacked with the cholera the same day, and died about the 29th. He had been called to preach the Gospel, but had been known to say that he "would rather die than go forth to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles." 3
The following is from the chairman of the committee of the Jackson county mob, to our lawyer:
Independence, Missouri, June 26, 1834.
Mr. Amos Reese:
Dear Sir—Since my return from Liberty, I have been busily engaged in conversing with the most influential men of our county, endeavoring to find out, if possible, what kind of a compromise will suit with the Mormons on their part. The people here, en masse, I find out, will do nothing like acceding to their last proposition. We will have a meeting if possible, on Monday next, at which time the proposals of the Mormons will be answered. In the meantime, I would be glad that they, the Mormons, would cast an eye back of Clinton, and see if that is not a country calculated for them.
S. C. Owens.
List of the Victims of Cholera.
The cholera continued its ravages for about four days, when a remedy for the purging, vomiting, and cramping, was discovered; viz; dipping the persons afflicted in cold water, or pouring it upon victims of them, and giving them whisky thickened with flour to the consistency of starch. Whisky was the only kind of spirits that could be procured at this place. About sixty-eight of the Saints suffered from this disease, of which number fourteen died, viz.: John S. Carter, Eber Wilcox, Seth Hitchcock, Erastus Rudd, Algernon Sidney Gilbert, Alfred Fisk, Edward Ives, Noah Johnson, Jesse B. Lawson, Robert McCord, Elial Strong, Jesse J. Smith, Warren Ingalls and Betsy Parrish.
Among the most active of those who were engaged in taking care of the sick at the camp, burying the dead, etc., were John D. Parker, John Tanner, Nathan Tanner, Joseph B. Noble, Brigham Young, Joseph Young, Heber C. Kimball, Luke S. Johnson and Eleazar Miller.
I sent Hiram Page with instructions to bring Jesse J. Smith and George A. Smith to me at all hazards to the west part of the county, having had intimations that they were sick. He found that Jesse had been severely racked with the cholera all day, George A. Smith had taken care of him for upwards of thirty hours. Dr. Frederick G. Williams decided that the cholera had left him, and he would recover if not moved. On the morning of the 28th, George A. Smith was attacked and was immediately mounted on a hard-riding horse, rode fifteen miles, and came to me.
The last days of June I spent with my old Jackson county friends, in the western part of Clay county.
The Prophet in the Goodly Land.
On the 1st of July Jesse J. Smith died. I crossed the Missouri river, in company with a few friends, into Jackson county, to set my feet once more on the "goodly land;" and on the 2nd I went down near Liberty, and visited the brethren. A considerable number of the Camp met me at Lyman Wight's. I told them if they would humble themselves before the Lord and covenant to keep His commandments and obey my counsel, the plague should be stayed from that hour, and there should not be another case of the cholera among them. The brethren covenanted to that effect with uplifted hands, and the plague was stayed.
This day the Enquirer published the correspondence between the sheriff, Cornelius Gillium, and Zion's Camp, of the 22nd of June, as follows:
Being a citizen of Clay county, and knowing that there is considerable excitement amongst the people thereof, and also knowing that different reports are arriving almost hourly; and being requested by the Hon. J. F. Ryland to meet the Mormons under arms, and obtain from the leaders thereof the correctness of the various reports in circulation, the true intent and meaning of their present movements, and their views generally regarding the difficulties existing between them and Jackson county,—I did, in company with other gentlemen, call upon the said leaders of the Mormons, at their camp in Clay county; and now give to the people of Clay county their written statement, containing the substance of what passed between us.
"Propositions of the Mormons.
"Being called upon by the above-named gentlemen, at our camp in Clay county, to ascertain from the leaders of our men our intentions, views, and designs, in approaching this county in the manner we have, we therefore the more cheerfully comply with their request, because we are called upon by gentlemen of good feelings, and who are disposed for peace and an amicable adjustment of the difficulties existing between us and the people of Jackson county. The reports of our intentions are various, and have gone abroad in a light calculated to arouse the feelings of almost every man. For instance, one report is, that we intend to demolish the printing office in Liberty; another report is, that we intend crossing the Missouri river on Sunday next, and falling upon women and children, and slaying them; another is, that our men were employed to perform this expedition, being taken from manufacturing establishments in the east, that had closed business; also that we carried a flag, bearing 'Peace' on one side, and 'War or Blood' on the other; and various other reports too numerous to mention, all of which a plain declaration of our intentions, from under our own hands will show are not correct.
"In the first place, it is not our intention to commit hostilities against any man, or set of men, it is not our intention to injure any man's person or property, except in defending ourselves. Our flag has been exhibited to the above gentlemen, who will be able to describe it. Our men were not taken from any manufacturing establishment. It is our intention to go back upon our lands in Jackson county, by order of the executive of the state, if possible. We have brought our arms with us for the purpose of self defense, as it is well known to almost every man of the State, that we have every reason to put ourselves in an attitude of defense, considering the abuse we have suffered in Jackson county. We are anxious for a settlement of the difficulties existing between us, upon honorable and constitutional principles.
"We are willing for twelve disinterested men, six to be chosen by each party, and these men shall say what the possessions of those men are worth who cannot live with us in the county; and they shall have their money in one year; and none of the Mormons shall enter that county to reside until the money is paid. The damages that we have sustained in consequence of being driven away, shall also be left to the above twelve men; or they may all live in the county, if they choose, and we will never molest them if they let us alone, and permit us to enjoy our rights. We want to live in peace with all men; and equal rights is all we ask. We wish to become permanent citizens of this State; and wish to bear our proportion in support of the government, and to be protected by its laws. If the above propositions are complied with, we are willing to give security on our part; and we shall want the same of the people of Jackson county for the performance of this agreement. We do not wish to settle down in a body, except where we can purchase the land with money; for to take possession by conquest or the shedding of blood is entirely foreign to our feelings. The shedding of blood we shall not be guilty of, until all just and honorable means among men prove insufficient to restore peace."
Joseph Smith, Jun.,
Frederick G. Williams,
John S. Carter.
To John Lincoln, John Sconce, George R. Morehead, Jas. H. Long, James Collins.
Organization of the High Council in Missouri.
On the third of July, the High Priests of Zion assembled in the yard of Col. Arthurs, where Lyman Wight lived, in Clay county, and I proceeded to organize a High Council, agreeable to the revelation and pattern given at Kirtland, for the purpose of settling important business that might come before them, which could not be settled by the Bishop and his council. David Whitmer was elected president, and William W. Phelps and John Whitmer assistant presidents. The following High Priests, viz.: Christian Whitmer, Newel Knight, Lyman Wight, Calvin Beebe, Wm. E. M'Lellin, Solomon Hancock, Thomas B. Marsh, Simeon Carter, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, John Murdock, and Levi Jackman, were appointed councilors; and the Council adjourned to Monday. Frederick G. Williams was clerk of the meeting.
Members of the Camp Discharged.
I authorized General Lyman Wight to give a discharge to every man of the Camp who had proved himself faithful, certifying that fact and giving him leave to return home. 4
Instructions to the High Council.
From this time I continued to give instruction to the members of the High Council, Elders, those who had traveled in the Camp with me, and such others as desired information, until the 7th, when the Council assembled according to adjournment at the house of Elder Lyman Wight; present, fifteen High Priests, eight Elders, four Priests, eight Teachers, three Deacons, and several members. After singing and prayer, I gave the Council such instructions in relation to their high calling, as would enable them to proceed to minister in their office agreeable to the pattern heretofore given; read the revelation on the subject; and told them that if I should now be taken away, I had accomplished the great work the Lord had laid before me, and that which I had desired of the Lord; and that I had done my duty in organizing the High Council, through which council the will of the Lord might be known on all important occasions, in the building up of Zion, and establishing truth in the earth.
It was voted that those who were appointed on the 3rd, should be confirmed in their appointments.
The Missouri Presidency and High Council.
I then ordained David Whitmer, president, and W. W. Phelps and John Whitmer, assistants; and the twelve councilors. The twelve councilors then proceeded to cast lots, to know who should speak first, and the order of speaking, which resulted as follows, viz.:
Simeon Carter, 1
Parley P. Pratt, 2
Wm. E. M'Lellin, 3
Calvin Beebe, 4
Levi Jackman, 5
Solomon Hancock, 6
Christian Whitmer, 7
Newel Knight, 8
Orson Pratt, 9
Lyman Wight, 10
Thomas B. Marsh, 11
John Murdock. 12
Father Peter Whitmer came forward and blessed his three sons, David, John and Christian Whitmer, in the name of the Lord. Also Father Knight blessed his son Newel.
Bishop Partridge stated to the Council that a greater responsibility rested upon him than before their organization, as it was not his privilege to counsel with any of them, except the president, and his own counselors; and desired their prayers that he might be enabled to act in righteousness.
Sundry Items Determined by the High Council.
I next presented the case of William W. Phelps to the Council, to have their decision whether or not he should take his family to Kirtland, and if so, when he should start; as it had been deemed necessary for him to assist in the printing establishment. It was moved and carried that four of the councilors speak on the subject, two on each side, viz., Simeon Carter and Wm. E. M'Lellin, for William W. Phelps; and Parley P. Pratt and Calvin Beebe, for the church. After hearing the pleas, the president decided that it was the duty of William W. Phelps to go to Kirtland to assist in printing, and that his family remain in the region where they are, and that he have an honorable discharge from his station in Zion for a season, (as soon as he can accomplish his business). Signed by the president and clerk.
It was then proposed by W. W. Phelps, that David Whitmer, the president of the church in Zion, should go to Kirtland, and assist in promoting the cause of Christ, as being one of the three witnesses. This case was argued by Levi Jackman and Christian Whitmer in behalf of David Whitmer; and by Solomon Hancock and Newel Knight for the church; after which it was decided, as before, that Brother David Whitmer go to the East and assist in the great work of the gathering, and be his own judge as to leaving his family or taking them with him.
It was also decided that John Whitmer and Wm. E. M'Lellin go east, as soon as convenient.
The High Priests, Elders, Priests, Teachers, Deacons and members present, then covenanted with hands uplifted to heaven, that they would uphold Brother David Whitmer, as president in Zion, in my absence; and John Whitmer and William W. Phelps, as assistant presidents or counselors; and myself as First President of the Church; and to uphold one another by faith and prayer.
Previous to entering into this covenant, and in pursuance of the revelation to the Saints to sue for and proclaim peace to the ends of the earth, the following appeal was written, and sanctioned by the High Council and First Presidency of the Church, at the foregoing sitting.
President Whitmer closed the Council by prayer.
Frederick G. Williams, Clerk.
An Appeal. 5
Whereas the Church of Christ, recently styled the Church of the Latter-day Saints, contumeliously called "Mormons," or "Mormonites," has suffered many privations, afflictions, persecutions and losses on account of the religious belief and faith of its members, which belief and faith are founded in the revealed Word of God, as recorded in the Holy Bible, or the Book of Mormon, the Revelations and Commandments of our Savior Jesus Christ; and whereas the said Church, through revelation, commenced removing to the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, where lands were purchased of the government, and where it was calculated to purchase of those who were unwilling to reside with the Church, as a society, all lands that could be bought, for the purpose of building up a holy city unto God, a New Jerusalem, a place which we were desirous to call Zion, a place of refuge from the scourges and plagues that are so often mentioned in the Bible by the prophets and apostles, which should be poured out upon the earth in the last days; and whereas the inhabitants of Jackson county, Missouri, have leagued and combined themselves against said Church, and have driven the Saints from their lands, and have taken their arms from them, and burned down many of their houses without any provocation; and whereas, we have petitioned the governor of this state and the President of the United States for the redress of wrongs—the law being put to defiance in Jackson county—and for the redemption of rights, that we might be legally repossessed of our lands and property; and whereas the said inhabitants of Jackson county have not only bound themselves to keep us out of that county, but have armed themselves cap a pie, and even with cannon for war; and whereas, our people residing in Upper Missouri, have recently armed themselves for military duty and self-defense, seeing their arms taken from them by the inhabitants of Jackson county, were purposely kept from them; and whereas, a number of the members of the Church in the East have emigrated to this region of country, to settle and join with their brethren, with arms to answer the military law, which has created some excitement among the inhabitants of the upper counties of this state; whereupon, to show that our object was only the peaceable possession of our rights and property, and to purchase more lands in the regions round about, we met a committee from Jackson county for compromise, and our emigrating brethren met some gentlemen from Clay and other counties, to satisfy them that their motives were good, and their object peace, which they did; and whereas, the propositions of the Jackson county committee could not be accepted on our part, because they proposed to "buy or sell," and to sell our land would amount to a denial of our faith, as that land is the place where the Zion of God shall stand, according to our faith and belief in the revelations of God, and upon which Israel will be gathered, according to the prophets; and, secondly, the propositions were unfair, notwithstanding they offered double price for our lands, in thirty days, or to sell theirs at the same rate, for this plain reason, that the whole large county of Jackson would be as thirty to one, or nearly so, in comparison with the matter in question, and in supposition, for one thousand dollars, two thousand dollars to our people was asking for three hundred thousand dollars, the exorbitant sum of six hundred thousand dollars, taking the land, rich and poor, within thirty days, with the reproachable, vicious, un-American, and unconstitutional proviso, that the committee on our part bind themselves "that no Mormons should ever settle in Jackson county;" and whereas, our committee proposed to the said Jackson committee (if they would not grant us our rights otherwise), that our people would buy the land of those who were unwilling to live among our people, in that county, and pay them in one year, they allowing the damage we have sustained in the loss of a printing office, apparatus and book-work, houses, property, etc., to come out of the purchase money, but no answer returned; and whereas, to show our honest intentions, and awaken the friends of virtue, humanity, and equal rights, it becomes our duty to lay our case before the world, to be weighed in the balances of public opinion.
Now, therefore, as citizens of the United States and leading Elders in the Church of the Latter-day Saints, residing in the State of Missouri, in behalf of the Church, we, the undersigned, do make this solemn appeal to the people and constitutional authorities of this nation, and to the ends of the earth, for peace; that we may have the privilege of enjoying our religious rights and immunities, and worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences, as guaranteed to every citizen by the constitution of the national and state governments; that although the laws have been broken, and are defied in Jackson county, we may be enabled to regain and enjoy out rights and property, agreeable to law, in this boasted land of liberty.
Since the disgraceful combination of the inhabitants of Jackson county has set the law at defiance, and put all hope of criminal prosecution against them, in that vicinage, beyond the reach of judge or jury, and left us but a distant expectation of civil remuneration for the great amount of damages we have sustained, necessity compels us to complain to the world; and if our case and calamity are not sufficient to excite the commiseration of the humane, and open the hearts of the generous, and fire the spirits of the patriotic, then has sympathy lost herself in the wilderness, and justice fled from power; then has the dignity of the ermine shrunk at the gigantic front of a mob, and the sacred mantle of freedom been caught up to heaven, where the weary are at rest and the wicked cannot come.
To be obedient to the commandments of our Lord and Savior, some of the leaders of the Church commenced purchasing lands in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, according to the revelation of God, for the city of Zion; in doing which, no law was evaded no rights infringed, and no principle of religion neglected; but the laudable foundation of a glorious work was begun, for the salvation of mankind in the last days, agreeable to our faith, and according to the promises in the sacred Scriptures of God. We verily believed—knowing that the national and state constitutions, and the statute laws of the land, and the commandments of the Lord allowed all men to worship as they please—that we should be protected, not only by the laws of a free republic, but by every republican throughout the realms of freedom.
The holy prophets have declared, that "it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." And again, it was said by Joel, seemingly to strengthen the faith of the Latter-day Saints in the above, "that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call." The Book of Mormon, which we hold equally sacred with the Bible, says, "that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for the which things there has been a type."
"In fact, all the prophets, from Moses to John the Revelator, have spoken concerning these things. And in all good faith, by direct revelation from the Lord, as in days of old, we commenced the glorious work, that a holy city, a new Jerusalem, even Zion, might be built up, and a temple reared in this generation, whereunto, as saith the Lord, all nations shall be invited. First, the rich and the learned, the wine and the noble, were to be invited; and after that cometh the day of His power. But the inhabitants of Jackson county arrayed themselves against us because of our faith and belief, and destroyed our printing establishment to prevent the spread of the work, and drove men, women and children from their lands, houses, and homes, to perish in the approaching winter. Every blast carried the wailing of women and the shrieks of children across the widespread prairie, sufficiently horrible to draw tears from the savage or melt a heart of stone.
Now, that the world may know that our faith in the work and word of the Lord is firm and unshaken; and to show all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, that our object is good, for the good of all, we come before the great family of mankind for peace, and ask their hospitality and assistance for our comfort, and the preservation of our persons and property, and solicit their charity for the great cause of God. We are well aware that many slanderous reports and ridiculous stories are in circulation against our religion and society; but as wise men will hear both sides and then judge, we sincerely hope and trust that the still, small voice of truth will be heard, and our great revelations read and candidly compared with the prophecies of the Bible. that the great cause of our Redeemer may be supported by a liberal share of public opinion, as well as by the unseen power of God.
It will be seen by reference to the Book of Commandments, page 135, that the Lord has said to the Church—and we mean to live by His words: "Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land." 6 Therefore, as the people of God, we come before the world, and claim protection by law of the common officers of justice in every neighborhood where our people may be. We claim the same at the hands of the governors of the several states, and of the President of the United States, and of the friends of humanity and justice in every clime and country of the globe.
By the desperate acts of the inhabitants of Jackson county, many hundreds of American citizens are deprived of their lands and rights. It is reported, we mean to regain our possessions, and even Jackson county, "by the shedding of blood;" but if any man will take the pains to read the 153rd page of the Book of Commandments he will find it there said:
"Wherefore the land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood; otherwise there is none inheritance for you. And if by purchase, behold you are blessed; and if by blood, as you are forbidden to shed blood, lo, your enemies are upon you, and you shall be scourged from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue, and but few shall stand to receive an inheritance." 7
So we declare that we have ever meant and now mean to purchase the land of our inheritance of the government, like all honest men, and of those who would rather sell their farms than live in our society; and, as thousand have done before us, we solicit the aid of the children of men, and of government, to help us to obtain our rights in Jackson county, and the land whereon the Zion of God, according to our faith, shall stand in the last days, for the salvation and gathering of Israel.
Let no man be alarmed because our society has commenced gathering to build a city and a house for the Lord, as a refuge from present evils and coming calamities. Our forefathers came to this goodly land of America to shun persecution and enjoy their religious opinions and rights, as they thought proper; and the Lord, after much tribulation, blessed them: and has said that we should continue to importune for redress and redemption by the hands of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over us, according to the laws and constitution of the people, which he has suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; that every man may act in doctrine and in principle pertaining to futurity according to the moral agency which He has given unto him; that every man may be accountable for his own sins in that day of judgment; and for this purpose He has established the constitution of this land by the hands of wise men, whom He raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. 8
Now we seek peace, and ask our rights, even redress and redemption, at the hands of the rulers of this nation; not only our lands and property in Jackson county, but for free trade with all men, and unmolested emigration to any part of the Union, and for our inherent right to worship God as we please. We ask the restoration of these rights, because they have been taken from us or abridged by the violence and usurpation of the inhabitants of Jackson county. As a people we hold ourselves amenable to the laws of the land; and while the government remains as it is, the right to emigrate from state to state, from territory to territory, from county to county, and from vicinity to vicinity, is open to all men of whatever trade or creed, without hindrance or molestation; and as long as we are justifiable and honest in the eyes of the law, we claim it—whether we remove by single families or in bodies of hundreds—with that of carrying the necessary arms and accoutrements for military duty; and we believe that all honest men, who love their country and their country's glory, and have a wish to see the law magnified and made honorable, will not only help to perpetuate the great legacy of freedom that came unimpaired from the hands of our venerable fathers to us, but they will also protect us from insult and injury, and aid the work of God, that they may reap a reward in the regions of bliss, when all men receive according to their works.
In relation to our distress from the want of our lands in Jackson county, and for the want of property destroyed by fire and waste, rather than do any act contrary to law, we solemnly appeal to the people with whom we tarry, for protection from insult and harm, and for the comforts of life, by labor or otherwise, while we seek peace and satisfaction of our enemies through every possible and honorable means which humanity can dictate, or philanthropy urge, or religion require. We are citizens of this republic, and we ask our rights as republicans, not merely in our restoration to our lands and property in Jackson county, Missouri, but in being considered honest in our faith; honest in our deal, and honest before God, till, by due course of law, we may be proved otherwise; reserving the right of every man's being held amenable to the proper authority for his own crimes and sins.
"Crowns won by blood, by blood must be maintained;" and to avoid blood and strife, and more fully satisfy the world that our object is peace and good will to all mankind, we hereby APPEAL for peace to the ends of the earth and ask the protection of all people. We shall use every fair means in our power to obtain our rights and immunities without force; setting an example for all true believers that we will not yield our faith and principles for any earthly consideration, whereby a precedent might be established that a majority may crush any religious sect with impunity. If we give up our rights in Jackson county, farewell to society! farewell to religion! farewell to our rights! farewell to property! farewell to life! The fate of our Church now might become the fate of the Methodists next week, the Catholics next month, and the overthrow of all societies next year, leaving nation after nation a wide waste, where reason and friendship once were.
Another, and the great object which we mean to help to accomplish, is the salvation of the souls of men. To bring to pass this glorious work, like many other religious denominations in all ages, we shall license Elders to preach the everlasting Gospel to all nations, according to the great commandment of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as recorded in Matthew: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
Thus we shall send laborers into the Lord's vineyard, to gather the wheat, and prepare the earth against the day when desolations shall be poured out without measure; and as it now is and ever has been considered one of the most honorable and glorious employments of men to carry good tidings to the nations, so we shall expect the clemency of all men, while we go forth, for the last time, to gather Israel for the glory of God, that He may suddenly come to His temple: that all nations may come and worship in His presence, when there shall be none to molest or make afraid, but the earth shall be filled with His knowledge and glory.
We live in an age of fearful imagination; with all the sincerity that common men are endowed with, the Saints have labored without pay, to instruct the United States that the gathering had commenced in the western boundaries of Missouri, to build a holy city, where, as may be seen in the eighteenth chapter of Isaiah, the present should "be brought unto the Lord of Hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of Hosts, the Mount Zion:" and how few have come forth rejoicing that the hour of redemption was nigh! And some that came have turned away, which may cause thousands to exclaim, amid the general confusion and fright of the times, "Remember Lot's wife."
It would be a work of supererogation to labor to show the truth of the gathering of the children of Israel in these last days; for the prophet told us long ago, that it should "no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He had driven them," and so it must be for the honor and glory of God.
The faith and religion of the Latter-day Saints are founded upon the old Scriptures, the Book of Mormon, and direct revelation from God; and while every event that happens around us is evidence of the truth of them, and an indicator that the great and terrible day of the Lord is near, we entreat the philanthropist, the moralist, and the honorable men of all creeds and sects, to read our publications, to examine the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Commandments, and listen to the fullness of the Gospel, and judge whether we are entitled to the credit of the world for honest motives and pure principles.
A cloud of bad omen seems to hang over this generation; men start up at the impulse of the moment, and defy and outstrip all law, while the destroyer is also abroad in the earth, wasting flesh without measure, and none can stay his course. In the midst of such portentous times, we feel an anxious desire to prepare, and help others to prepare, for coming events; and we candidly believe that no honest man will put forth his hand to stop the work of the Lord or persecute the Saints. In the name of Jesus Christ, we intreat the people of this nation to pause before they reject the works of the Lord or His servants; these, like all flesh, may be imperfect, but God is pure; hear ye Him.
While we ask peace and protection for the Saints, wherever they may be, we also solicit the charity and benevolence of all the worthy of the earth, to purchase the righteous a holy home, a place of rest, and a land of peace; believing that no man who knows he has a soul will keep back his mite, but cast it in for the benefit of Zion; thus, when time is no longer, he, with all the ransomed of the Lord, may stand in the fullness of joy, and view the grand pillar of heaven, which was built by the faith and charity of the Saints, beginning at Adam, with his motto in the base, "Repent and live," surrounded with a beautiful circle sign, supported by a cross about midway up its lofty column, staring the world in letters of blood, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand;" and finished with a plain top towering up in the midst of the celestial world—around which is written by the finger of Jehovah, "Eternal Life is the greatest gift of God."
Although we may fail to show all men the truth of the fullness of the Gospel, yet we hope to be able to convince some that we are neither deluded nor fanatics; but, like other men, have a claim on the world for land and for a living, as good and as great as our venerable fathers had for independence and liberty; that though the world has been made to believe, by false reports and vague stories, that the Saints—called "Mormons"—were meaner than the savages, still God has been our help in time of trouble, and has provided for us in due season, and, to use the language of Pope, He has let the work "spread undivided" and "operate unspent."
For the honor of our beloved country, and the continuation of its free government, we appeal for peace, for an example of forbearance, and the diffusion of the everlasting Gospel; we appeal to the humanity of all nations, and for the glory of God, before whom we must all answer for the deeds done in life, and for the hope of holiness hereafter, we mean to remain faithful to the end, continuing to pray to the Lord to spare us and the people from whatever is evil and not calculated to humble us, and prepare us for His presence and glory; at the same time beseeching Him, in the name of Jesus, to extend His blessings to whom He will, and His mercy to all; till by righteousness, the kingdoms of this world become fair as the sun and clear as the moon.
W. W. Phelps,
Parley P. Pratt,
Thomas B. Marsh,
Missouri, United States, July, 1834.
"When the cholera first broke out in the camp, Brother John S. Carter was the first who went forth to rebuke it, but [he] himself, was immediately seized by it, and as before stated, was the first who was slain. In about thirty minutes after his death, Seth Hitchcock followed him; and it appeared as though we must sink under the destroyer with them. We were not able to obtain boards to make coffins, [for those who died], but were under the necessity of rolling them up in their blankets, and burying them in that manner. So we placed them on a sled, which was drawn by a horse about half a mile, where we buried them in a little bluff by the side of a small stream that emptied into Rush creek. This we accomplished by dark, and returned. Our hopes were that no more would die, but while we were uniting in a covenant to pray once more with uplifted hands to God, we looked at our beloved brother, Elder Wilcox, and he was gasping his last. At this scene my feelings were beyond expression. Those only who witnessed it, can realize anything of the nature of our sufferings, and 50 felt to weep, and pray to the Lord that He would spare my life that I might behold my dear family again. I felt to covenant with my brethren, and I felt in my heart never to commit another sin while I lived. We felt to sit and weep over our brethren, and so great was our sorrow that we could have washed them with our tears, to realize that they had traveled one thousand miles through so much fatigue to lay down their lives for our brethren—and who hath greater love than he who is willing to lay down his life for his brethren? This increased our love to them. About 12 o'clock at night we placed Brother Wilcox on a small sled, which we drew to the place of interment, with one hand hold of the rope, and in the other we bore our firelocks for our defense. While one or two were digging the grave, the rest stood with their arms to defend them. This was our situation, the enemies around us, and the destroyer in our midst. Soon after we returned another brother was taken away from our little band; thus it continued until five out of ten [attacked] were taken away. It was truly affecting to see the love manifested among the brethren for one another, during the affliction; Brother Joseph, seeing the sufferings of his brethren, stepped forward to rebuke the destroyer, but was immediately seized with the disease himself; and I assisted him a short distance from the place, when it was with difficulty he could walk. All that kept our enemies from us was the fear of the destroyer which the Lord so sent among us. After burying these five brethren, or about this time, I was seized by the hand of the destroyer, as I had gone in the woods to pray. I was instantly struck blind, and saw no way whereby I could free myself from the disease, only to exert myself by jumping and thrashing myself about, until my sight returned to me, and my blood began to circulate in my veins. I started and ran some distance, and by this means, through the help of God, I was enabled to extricate myself from the grasp of death. This circumstance took place in a piece of woods just behind Brother Sidney Gilbert's house * * * * * * Two other brethren died at Brother Gilbert's house about this same time. One of these was a cousin to Brother Joseph Smith, the Prophet."
The remarks in the body of the history, and this expression from Elder Kimball's journal are liable to create a misunderstanding concerning Brother Algernon Sidney Gilbert, than whom the Lord has had few more devoted servants in this dispensation. The place and date of his birth cannot now be ascertained. His father's family resided in Huntington, Connecticut. Besides himself, there was a younger brother who joined the Church, but he died of cholera in St. Louis, Missouri, the same year as his elder brother. Elder Gilbert for some years was successful merchant in Painesville, Ohio; and subsequently, with Newel K. Whitney, he founded the successful mercantile firm of Gilbert and Whitney in Kirtland, Ohio, at which place the Gospel found him in the year 1830. Later, he was called to go to Missouri, and was appointed keeper of the Lord's storehouse, and upon him also devolved the responsibility of purchasing lands for the Saints. He was devoted to the interest of the Saints and the Church. In the persecutions which came upon the people in Jackson county he sacrificed all his goods, and was among the six who offered their own lives for the lives of their friends in the Jackson county trouble. As to his refusing to accept the appointment to go and preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, that refusal did not arise from any lack of faith in the truth of God's great work, but from a native diffidence and a lack of confidence in his own ability to preach. He was a man of rare good sense, conservative and of sound judgment. All of which appears in the many communications drawn up in Missouri by him during the troublous times through which the Church passed in those days. Much of the correspondence between the Missouri brethren and Governor Dunklin was the work of Elder Gilbert, and it bears witness to the truth of what is here said of him. Nor did he entirely refuse to bear witness of the truth of the Gospel to others. In a communication to theMessenger and Advocate from Huntington, Connecticut, under date of September 24, 1834, his aged father, Eli Gilbert, describing the visit of his son to that place some two years previous, says: "He continued with us about two weeks, and in that time was pressed by his friends and acquaintances to meet them and others, and inform them concerning the people, and the Book of Mormon. This he cheerfully did, as often as his low state of health would permit; and although threatened and abused by some of our pious persecutors, yet he was not much hurt nor interrupted. When a meeting was held, a goodly number were brought to serious inquiry concerning these things, and several would gladly have received baptism, as they afterwards told me. And, thank God, some retain that desire and determination yet."
4. This formal order to discharge every man of Zion's camp and release him to return home may be considered as the termination of Zion's camp expedition for the redemption of Zion. Had Governor Dunklin possessed the courage to enforce the law of the State; had he called out the militia of Missouri to reinstate the exiles in their homes as at one time he expressed a willingness to do, the history of Zion's camp might have had a different ending; for the exiles reinstated in their lands, and reinforced by the two hundred brethren who constituted Zion's camp, might have been able to have maintained their inheritances on that land; but Governor Dunklin when the crisis came, lacked the necessary courage to fulfill his promise, and without the moral assistance which the reinstatement of the Saints upon their lands by the military forces of the state would give, the exiles and Zion's camp were powerless. Perhaps also another view is admissible. Had the members of Zion's camp been more faithful, less contentious, more united; had the Saints in the eastern branches had more faith—faith to send up to Zion more men and more money with which to strengthen the hands of the Saints on the land of Zion—the history of Zion's camp might have been different: for with a larger force they would doubtless have been able to hold their lauds against the mob, independent of the action of the State authorities. But thus it is: what men and great movements might attain to is often defeated, sometimes by the actions of enemies, sometimes by the lack of devotion and faith and energy on the part of those into whose hands great enterprises are committed. While God's general purposes will never ultimately be defeated by man, still upon each side of the general purposes of God a margin somewhat wide seems to have been left in which those both for and against those purposes may write what history they please—one that will meet with the approval of God, or one that will meet only with condemnation—herein is the agency of man. But in the exercise of that agency God's purposes will not be thwarted, for man's agency will not extend so far as that; if it did, it would interfere with God's agency and decrees. The order above, I again remark, closed the history of this first march of Zion's Camp; and the redemption of Zion has been left to other hands, and to other times. But that its redemption will come no one doubts who believes in the firm decrees of God.
"With the most of individuals and societies who have been traduced, and their characters and designs misrepresented, their last appeal has been made to the world or nation at large; here they rested their claim, and here the matter, with them, was brought to a final close. If the community approved their course, they triumphed; if not, it sank forever; but this is not the last resort of a people whose interest is in heaven, and whose hope is built upon the everlasting word of Omnipotence. When earthly courts and tribunals fail, and when the voice of the people is not given in their favor, and a place on earth is denied them, and their helpless, innocent posterity, their last great refuge is Jehovah; and if, like the ancients, they are driven from the face of society, that even a lodging place is forbidden them, they can wander in obscurity, not 'accepting deliverance,' till their change comes, and they 'obtain a better resurrection.'" Evening and Morning Star, vol. 2, p. 361.
6. D&C 58:21.