Volume 3 Chapter 15
The Case Of The Saints Presented To The Missouri Legislature—The Prophet's Communication To The Saints From Liberty Prison.
Report of Governor Boggs to the Legislature.
Wednesday, December 5.—The Missouri Legislature having assembled, Governor Boggs laid before the House of Representatives all the information in his possession relative to the difficulties between the mob and the "Mormons."
Monday, December 10.—
Memorial of a Committee to the State Legislature of Missouri in Behalf of the Citizens of Caldwell County.
To the Honorable Legislature of the State of Missouri in Senate and House of Representatives convened:
We, the undersigned petitioners and inhabitants of Caldwell county, Missouri, in consequence of the late calamity that has come upon us taken in connection with former afflictions, feel it a duty we owe to ourselves and our country to lay our case before your honorable body for consideration. It is a well known fact, that a society of our people commenced settling in Jackson county, Missouri, in the summer of 1831, where they, according to their ability, purchased lands, and settled upon them, with the intention and expectation of becoming permanent citizens in common with others.
Soon after the settlement began, persecution commenced; and as the society increased, persecution also increased, until the society at last was compelled to leave the county; and although an account of these persecutions has been published to the world, yet we feel that it will not be improper to notice a few of the most prominent items in this memorial.
On the 20th of July, 1833, a mob convened at Independence—a committee of which called upon a few of the men of our Church there, and stated to them that the store, printing office, and indeed all other mechanic shops must be closed forthwith, and the society leave the county immediately.
These propositions were so unexpected, that a certain time was asked for to consider on the subject, before an answer should be returned, which was refused, and our men being individually interrogated, each one answered that he could not consent to comply with their propositions. One of the mob replied that he was sorry, for the work of destruction would commence immediately.
In a short time the printing-office, which was a two story brick building, was assailed by the mob and soon thrown down, and with it much valuable property destroyed. Next they went to the store for the same purpose; but Mr. Gilbert, one of the owners, agreeing to close it, they abandoned their design. Their next move was the dragging of Bishop Partridge from his house and family to the public square, where, surrounded by hundreds, they partially stripped him of his clothes, and tarred and feathered him from head to foot. A man by the name of Allen was also tarred at the same time. This was Saturday, and the mob agreed to meet the following Tuesday, to accomplish their purpose of driving or massacring the society.
Tuesday came, and the mob came also, bearing with them a red flag in token of blood. Some two or three of the principal men of the society offered their lives, if that would appease the wrath of the mob, so that the rest of the society might dwell in peace upon their lands. The answer was, that unless the society would leave en masse, every man should die for himself. Being in a defenseless situation, to save a general massacre, it was agreed that one half of the society should leave the county by the first of the next January, and the remainder by the first of the following April. A treaty was entered into and ratified, and all things went on smoothly for awhile. But sometime in October, the wrath of the mob began again to be kindled, insomuch that they shot at some of our people, whipped others, and threw down their houses, and committed many other depredations; indeed the society of Saints were harassed for some time both day and night; their houses were brick-batted and broken open and women and children insulted. The store-house of A. S. Gilbert and Company was broken open, ransacked, and some of the goods strewed in the streets.
These abuses, with many others of a very aggravated nature, so stirred up the indignant feelings of our people, that when a party of them, say about thirty, met a company of the mob of about double their number, a skirmish took place, in which some two or three of the mob, and one of our people, were killed. This raised, as it were, the whole county in arms, and nothing would satisfy the mob but an immediate surrender of the arms of our people, who forthwith were to leave the county. Fifty-one guns were given up, which have never been returned, or paid for, to this day. The next day, parties of the mob, from fifty to seventy, headed by priests, went from house to house, threatening women and children with death if they were not gone before they returned. This so alarmed our people that they fled in different directions; some took shelter in the woods, while others wandered in the prairies till their feet bled; and the weather being very cold, their sufferings in other respects were great.
The society made their escape to Clay county as fast as they possibly could, where the people received them kindly, and administered to their wants. After the society had left Jackson county, their buildings, amounting to about two hundred, were either burned or otherwise destroyed, and much of their crops, as well as furniture and stock; which if properly estimated would make a large sum, for the loss of which they have not as yet received any remuneration.
The society remained in Clay county nearly three years; when, at the suggestion of the people there, they removed to that section of the state known as Caldwell county. Here the people bought out most of the former inhabitants, and also entered much of the wild land. Many soon owned a number of eighties [eighty acres] while there was scarcely a man who did not secure to himself at least a forty [forty acres]. Here we were permitted to enjoy peace for a season; but as our society increased in numbers, and settlements were made in Daviess and Carroll counties, the mob spirit spread itself again. For months previous to our giving up our arms to General Lucas' army, we heard little else than rumors of mobs collecting in different places and threatening our people. It is well known that the people of our Church, who had located themselves at De Witt, had to give up to a mob, and leave the place, notwithstanding the militia were called out for their protection.
From De Witt the mob went towards Daviess county, and while on their way there they took two of our men prisoners, and made them ride upon the cannon, and told them that they would drive the "Mormons" from Daviess to Caldwell, and from Caldwell to hell; and that they would give them no quarter, only at the cannon's mouth. The threats of the mob induced some of our people to go to Daviess to help to protect their brethren who had settled at Adam-ondi-Ahman, on Grand river. The mob soon fled from Daviess county; and after they were dispersed and the cannon taken, during which time no blood was shed, the people of Caldwell returned to their homes, in hopes of enjoying peace and quiet; but in this they were disappointed; for a large mob was soon found to be collecting on the Grindstone fork of Grand river from ten to fifteen miles off, under the command of Cornelius Gillium,a scouting party of which came within four miles of Far West, in open daylight, and drove off stock belonging to our people.
About this time, word came to Far West that a party of the mob had come into Caldwell county to the south of Far West; that they were taking horses and cattle, burning houses and ordering the inhabitants to leave their homes immediately; and that they had then actually in their possession three men prisoners. This report reached Far West in the evening, and was confirmed about midnight. A company of about sixty men went forth under the command of David W. Patten to disperse the mob, as they supposed. A battle was the result, in which Captain Patten and three of his men were killed, and others wounded. Bogart, it appears, had but one killed and others wounded. Notwithstanding the unlawful acts committed by Captain Bogart's men previous to the battle, it is now asserted and claimed that he was regularly ordered out as a militia captain, to preserve the peace along the line of Ray and Caldwell counties. The battle was fought four or five days previous to the arrival of General Lucas and his army. About the time of the battle with Captain Bogart, a number of our people who were living near Haun's mill, on Shoal creek, about twenty miles below Far West, together with a number of emigrants who had been stopped there in consequence of the excitement, made an agreement with the mob in that vicinity that neither party should molest the other, but dwell in peace. Shortly after this agreement was made, a mob party of from two to three hundred, many of whom are supposed to be from Chariton county, some from Daviess, and also those who had agreed to dwell in peace, came upon our people there, whose number in men was about forty, at a time they little expected any such thing, and without any ceremony, notwithstanding they begged for quarter, shot them down as they would tigers or panthers. Some few made their escape by fleeing. Eighteen were killed and a number more were severely wounded.
This tragedy was conducted in the most brutal and savage manner. An old man [Father Thomas McBride] after the massacre was partially over, threw himself into their hands and begged for quarter, when he was instantly shot down; that not killing him, they took an old corn cutter and literally mangled him to pieces. 1 A lad of ten years of age, after being shot down, also begged to be spared, when one of the mob placed the muzzle of his gun to the boy's head and blew out his brains. The slaughter of these not satisfying the mob, they then proceeded to rob and plunder. The scene that presented itself after the massacre, to the widows and orphans of the killed, is beyond description. It was truly a time of weeping, mourning and lamentation.
As yet we have not heard of any one being arrested for these murders, notwithstanding there are men boasting about the country that they did kill on that occasion more than one "Mormon;" whereas all our people who were in the battle with Captain Patten against Bogart, that can be found, have been arrested, and are now confined in jail to await their trial for murder.
When General Lucas arrived near Far West, and presented the Governor's order, we were greatly surprised; yet we felt willing to submit to the authorities of the state. We gave up our arms without reluctance. We were then made prisoners, and confined to the limits of the town for about a week, during which time the men from the country were not permitted to go to their families, many of whom were in a suffering condition for want of food and firewood, the weather being very cold and stormy.
Much property was destroyed by the troops in town during their stay there, such as burning house logs, rails, corn-cribs, boards; the using of corn and hay, the plundering of houses, the killing of cattle, sheep and hogs, and also the taking of horses not their own; and all this without regard to owners, or asking leave of any one. In the meantime men were abused, women insulted and abused by the troops; and all this while we were kept prisoners.
Whilst the town was guarded, we were called together by the order of General Lucas, and a guard placed close around us, and in that situation we were compelled to sign a deed of trust for the purpose of making our individual property, all holden, as they said, to pay all the debts of every individual belonging to the Church, and also to pay for all damages the old inhabitants of Daviess may have sustained in consequence of the late difficulties in that county.
General Clark had now arrived, and the first important move made by him was the collecting of our men together on the square and selecting about fifty of them, whom he immediately marched into a house, and placed in close confinement. This was done without the aid of the sheriff, or any legal process. The next day forty-six of those taken, were driven off to Richmond, like a parcel of menial slaves, not knowing why they were taken, or what they were taken for. After being confined in Richmond more than two weeks, about one half were liberated; the rest, after another week's confinement, were required to appear at court, and have since been let to bail. Since General Clark withdrew his troops from Far West, parties of armed men have gone through the country, driving off horses, sheep and cattle, and also plundering houses; the barbarity of General Lucas' troops ought not to be passed over in silence. They shot our cattle and hogs merely for the sake of destroying them, leaving them for the ravens to eat. They took prisoner an aged man by the name of John Tanner, and without any reason for it, he was struck over the head with a gun, which laid his skull bare. Another man by the name of Carey was also taken prisoner by them, and without any provocation had his brains dashed out by a gun. He was laid in a wagon and there permitted to remain for the space of twenty-four hours; during which time no one was permitted to administer to him comfort or consolation; and after he was removed from that situation, he lived but a few hours.
The destruction of property at and about Far West is very great. Many are stripped bare, as it were. and others partially so; indeed take us as a body at this time, we are a poor and afflicted people; and if we are compelled to leave the state in the Spring, many, yes a large portion of our society, will have to be removed at the expense of the state; as those who might have helped them are now debarred that privilege in consequence of the deed of trust we were compelled to sign; which deed so operated upon our real estate, that it will sell for but little or nothing at this time.
We have now made a brief statement of some of the most prominent features of the troubles that have befallen our people since our first settlement in this state; and we believe that these persecutions have come in consequence of our religious faith, and not for any immorality on our part. That instances have been, of late, where individuals have trespassed upon the rights of others, and thereby broken the laws of the land, we will not pretend to deny; but yet we do believe that no crime can be substantiated against any of the people who have a standing in our Church of an earlier date than the difficulties in Daviess county. And when it is considered that the rights of this people have been trampled upon from time to time with impunity, and abuses almost innumerable heaped upon them it ought in some degree to palliate for any infraction of the law which may have been made on the part of our people.
The late order of Governor Boggs to drive us from the state, or exterminate us, is a thing so novel, unlawful, tyrannical, and oppressive, that we have been induced to draw up this memorial, and present this statement of our case to your honorable body, praying that a law may be passed, rescinding the order of the governor to drive us from the state, and also giving us the sanction of the legislature to possess our lands in peace. We ask an expression of the legislature, disapproving the conduct of those who compelled us to sign a deed of trust, and also disapproving of any man or set of men taking our property in consequence of that deed of trust, and appropriating it to the payment of debts not contracted by us or for the payment of damages sustained in consequence of trespasses committed by others.
We have no common stock; our property is individual property, and we feel willing to pay our debts as other individuals do; but we are not willing to be bound for other people's debts. The arms which were taken from us here, which we understand to be about six hundred and thirty, besides swords and pistols, we care not so much about, as we do the pay for them; only we are bound to do military duty, which we are willing to do, and which we think was sufficiently manifested by the raising of a volunteer company last fall at Far West when called upon by General Parks to raise troops for the frontier.
The arms given up by us, we consider were worth between twelve and fifteen thousand dollars; but we understand they have been greatly damaged since taken, and at this time probably would not bring near their former value. And as they were, both here and in Jackson county, taken by the militia, and consequently by the authority of the state, we therefore ask your honorable body to cause an appropriation to be made by law, whereby we may be paid for them, or otherwise have them returned to us, and the damages made good.
The losses sustained by our people in leaving Jackson county are such that it is impossible to obtain any compensation for them by law, because those who have sustained them are unable to prove those trespasses upon individuals. That the facts do exist that the buildings, crops, stock, furniture, rails, timber, etc., of the society have been destroyed in Jackson county, is not doubted by those who are acquainted in this upper country [the part of the state north of the Missouri river was so called]; and since these trespasses cannot be proven upon individuals, we ask your honorable body to consider this case; and if in your liberality and wisdom you can conceive it to be proper to make an appropriation by law to these sufferers, many of whom are still pressed down with poverty in consequence of their losses, they would be able to pay their debts, and also in some degree be relieved from poverty and woe; whilst the widow's heart would be made to rejoice, and the orphan's tear measurably dried up, and the prayers of a grateful people ascend on high, with thanksgiving and praise to the Author of our existence for such beneficent act.
In laying our ease before your honorable body, we say that we are willing, and ever have been, to conform to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and of this state. We ask, in common with others, the protection of the laws. We ask for the privilege guaranteed to all free citizens of the United States, and of this state, to be extended to us that we may be permitted to settle and live where we please, and worship God according to the dictates of our conscience without molestation. And while we ask for ourselves this privilege, we are willing all others should enjoy the same.
We now lay our case at the feet of you legislators, and ask your honorable body to consider it, and do for us, after mature deliberation, that which your wisdom, patriotism and philanthropy may dictate. And we, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Heber C. Kimball,
George W. Harris,
John M. Burk.
A committee appointed by the citizens of Caldwell county, to draft the memorial and sign it in their behalf.
Far West, Caldwell county, Missouri, December 10, 1838.
Minutes of a high Council Held at Far West, Thursday, December 13, 1838.
Agreeable to appointment, the standing High Council met, when it was found that several were absent, who, (some of them) have had to flee for their lives; therefore it being necessary that those vacancies be filled, the meeting was called for that purpose, and also to express each other's feelings respecting the word of the Lord; President Brigham Young presiding.
The council was opened by prayer by Elder Kimball. After prayer, President Young made a few remarks, saying he thought it all important to have the Council reorganized, and prepared to do business. He advised the councilors to be wise and judicious in all their movements, and not hasty in their transactions. As for his faith, it was the same as ever; and he fellowshiped all such as loved the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in act as well as word.
Elder Kimball arose and said he felt as formerly, for he had endeavored to keep a straightforward course; but wherein he had been out of the way in any manner, he meant to mend in that thing; and he was determined, as far as possible, to do as he would be done by; and his faith was as good as ever; he was in fellowship with all who wanted to do right.
Simeon Carter said, as to his faith in the work it was the same as ever; he did not think that Joseph was a fallen Prophet, but he believed in every revelation that had come through him; still he thought that perhaps Joseph had not acted in all things according to the best wisdom; yet how far he had been unwise he could not say. He did not think that Joseph would be removed and another planted in his stead; but he believed that he would still perform his work. He was still determined to persevere and act in righteousness in all things, so that he might at last gain a crown of glory, and reign in the kingdom of God.
Jared Carter, responded to President Brigham Young's feelings, and wished all to walk with the brethren.
Thomas Grover said he was firm in the faith, and he believed the time would come when Joseph would stand before kings, and speak marvelous words.
David Dort expressed his feelings in a similar manner.
Levi Jackman says his faith is the same as ever, and he has confidence in Brother Joseph, as ever.
Solomon Hancock says he is a firm believer in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, and that Brother Joseph is not a fallen prophet, but will yet be exalted and become very high.
John Badger says his confidence in the work is the same as ever, and his faith, if possible, is stronger than ever. He believes that it was necessary that these scourges should come.
George W. Harris says that, as it respects the scourges which have come upon us, the hand of God was in it.
Samuel Bent says that his faith is as it ever was, and that he feels to praise God in prisons and in dungeons, and in all circumstances.
After some consultation it was thought expedient to nominate High Priests to fill the vacancies.
The Council was organized as follows: Simeon Carter. No. 1; Jared Carter, 2; Thomas Grover 3; David Dort, 4; Levi Jackman, 5; Solomon Hancock, 6; John Badger, 7; John Murdock, 8; John E. Page, 9; George W. Harris, 10; John Taylor, 11; Samuel Bent, 12.
Voted that John Murdock fill the vacancy of John P. Greene, No. 4, and David Dort the place of Elias Higbee, No. 11, and John Badger the place of George Morey, No. 7, and Lyman Sherman the place of Newel Knight, until he returns.
Council adjourned until Friday evening, six o'clock. Closed by prayer by President Brigham Young.
E. Robinson, Clerk
Isaac Russell, who had become connected with a small camp of the Saints, of about thirty families, going west, turned from his course at Louisiana, and led them north ten miles on the Spanish claims, where they built huts or lived in tents through the winter in great suffering. Russell turned prophet (apostate). He said Joseph had fallen and he was appointed to lead the people.
Chandler Rogers, who was moving west, was met by a mob at Huntsville, and compelled to turn back, and fell in with Russell's camp. Russell said he was "the chosen of the Lord;" and when they left the place, they would have to go on foot, and take nothing with them, and they must sell their teams. Some would not sell and he cursed them.
Sunday, December 16.—I wrote the following letter:
The Prophet's Letter to the Church.
Liberty Jail, Missouri,
December 16, 1838.
To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Caldwell county, and all the Saints who are scattered abroad, who are persecuted, and made desolate, and who are afflicted in divers manners for Christ's sake and the Gospel's, by the hands of a cruel mob and the tyrannical disposition of the authorities of this state; and whose perils are greatly augmented by the wickedness and corruption of false brethren, greeting:
May grace, mercy, and the peace of God be and abide with you; and notwithstanding all your sufferings, we assure you that you have our prayers and fervent desires for your welfare, day and night. We believe that that God who seeth us in this solitary place, will hear our prayers, and reward you openly.
Know assuredly, dear brethren, that it is for the testimony of Jesus that we are in bonds and in prison. But we say unto you, that we consider that our condition is better (notwithstanding our sufferings) than that of those who have persecuted us, and smitten us, and borne false witness against us; and we most assuredly believe that those who do bear false witness against us, do seem to have a great triumph over us for the present. But we want you to remember Haman and Mordecai: you know that Haman could not be satisfied so long as he saw Mordecai at the king's gate, and he sought the life of Mordecai and the destruction of the people of the Jews. But the Lord so ordered it, that Haman was hanged upon his own gallows.
So shall it come to pass with poor Haman in the last days, and those who have sought by unbelief and wickedness and by the principle of mobocracy to destroy us and the people of God, by killing and scattering them abroad, and wilfully and maliciously delivering us into the hands of murderers, desiring us to be put to death, thereby having us dragged about in chains and cast into prison. And for what cause? It is because we were honest men, and were determined to defend the lives of the Saints at the expense of our own. I say unto you, that those who have thus vilely treated us, like Haman, shall be hanged upon their own gallows; or, in other words, shall fall into their own gin, and snare, and ditch, and trap, which they have prepared for us, and shall go backwards and stumble and fall, and their name shall be blotted out, and God shall reward them according to all their abominations.
Dear brethren, do not think that our hearts faint, as though some strange thing had happened unto us, for we have seen and been assured of all these things beforehand, and have an assurance of a better hope than that of our persecutors. Therefore God hath made broad our shoulders for the burden. We glory in our tribulation, because we know that God is with us, that He is our friend, and that He will save our souls. We do not care for them that can kill the body; they cannot harm our souls. We ask no favors at the hands of mobs, nor of the world, nor of the devil, nor of his emissaries the dissenters, and those who love, and make, and swear falsehoods, to take away our lives. We have never dissembled, nor will we for the sake of our lives.
Forasmuch, then, as we know that we have been endeavoring with all our mind, might, and strength, to do the will of God, and all things whatsoever He has commanded us; and as to our light speeches, which may have escaped our lips from time to time, they have nothing to do with the fixed purposes of our hearts; therefore it sufficeth us to say, that our souls were vexed from day to day. We refer you to Isaiah, who considers those who make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate. We believe that the old Prophet verily told the truth: and we have no retraction to make. We have reproved in the gate, and men have laid snares for us. We have spoken words, and men have made us offenders. And notwithstanding all this, our minds are not yet darkened, but feel strong in the Lord. But behold the words of the Savior: "If the light which is in you become darkness, behold how great is that darkness." Look at the dissenters. Again, "If you were of the world the world would love its own." Look at Mr. Hinkle—a wolf in sheep's clothing. Look at his brother John Corrill. Look at the beloved brother Reed Peck, who aided him in leading us, as the Savior was led, into the camp of his enemies, as a lamb prepared for the slaughter, as a sheep dumb before his shearers; so we opened not our mouths.
But these men, like Balaam, being greedy for reward, sold us into the hands of those who loved them, for the world loves his own. I would remember William E. McLellin, who comes up to us as one of Job's comforters. God suffered such kind of beings to afflict Job—but it never entered into their hearts that Job would get out of it all. This poor man who professes to be much of a prophet, has no other dumb ass to ride but David Whitmer, 2 to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel; and this ass not being of the same kind as Balaam's, therefore, the angel notwithstanding appeared unto him, yet he could not penetrate his understanding sufficiently, but that he prays out cursings instead of blessings. Poor ass! Whoever lives to see it, will see him and his rider perish like those who perished in the gain-saying of Korah, or after the same condemnation. Now as for these and the rest of their company, we will not presume to say that the world loves them; but we presume to say they love the world, and we classify them in the error of Balaam, and in the gain-sayings of Korah, and with the company of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
Perhaps our brethren will say, because we thus write, that we are offended at these characters. If we are, it is not for a word, neither because they reproved in the gate—but because they have been the means of shedding innocent blood. Are they not murderers then at heart? Are not their consciences seared as with a hot iron? We confess that we are offended; but the Savior said. "It must needs be that offenses come, but woe unto them by whom they come." And again, "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you."
Now, dear brethren, if any men ever had reason to claim this promise, we are the men; for we know that the world not only hate as, but they speak all manner of evil of us falsely, for no other reason than that we have been endeavoring to teach the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
After we were bartered away by Hinkle, and were taken into the militia camp, we had all the evidence we could have asked for that the world hated us. If there were priests among them of all the different sects, they hated us, and that most cordially too. If there were generals, they hated us; if there were colonels, they hated us; and the soldiers, and officers of every kind, hated us; and the most profane, blasphemous, and drunkards; and whoremongers, hated us—they all hated us, most cordially. And now what did they hate us for? Purely because of the testimony of Jesus Christ. Was it because we were liars? We know that it has been so reported by some, but it has been reported falsely. Was it because we have committed treason against the government in Daviess County, or burglary, or larceny, or arson, or any other unlawful act in Daviess County? We know that we have been so reported by priests, and certain lawyers, and certain judges, who are the instigators, aiders, and abettors of a certain gang of murderers and robbers, who have been carrying on a scheme of mobocracy to uphold their priestcraft, against the Saints of the last days; and for a number of years have tried, by a well contemplated and premeditated scheme, to put down by physical power a system of religion that all the world, by their mutual attainments, and by any fair means whatever, were not able to resist.
Hence mobbers were encouraged by priests and Levites, by the Pharisees, by the Sadducees, and Essenes, and Herodians, and the most worthless, abandoned, and debauched, lawless, and inhuman, and the most beastly set of men that the earth can boast of—and indeed a parallel cannot be found anywhere else—to gather together to steal, to plunder, to starve, and to exterminate, and burn the houses of the "Mormons."
These are characters that, by their treasonable and overt acts, have desolated and laid waste Daviess county. These are the characters that would fain make all the world believe that we are guilty of the above named acts. But they represent us falsely; we stood in our own defense, and we believe that no man of us acted only in a just, a lawful, and a righteous retaliation against such marauders.
We say unto you, that we have not committed treason, nor any other unlawful act in Daviess county. Was it for murder in Ray county, against mob-militia; who was as a wolf in the first instance, hide and hair, teeth, legs and tail, who afterwards put on a militia sheep skin with the wool on; who could sally fort, in the day time, into the flock, and snarl, and show his teeth, and scatter and devour the flock, and satiate himself upon his prey, and then sneak back into the bramble in order that he might conceal himself in his well tried skin with the wool on?
We are well aware that there is a certain set of priests and satellites, and mobbers that would fain make all the world believe that we were guilty of the doings of this howling wolf that made such havoc among the sheep, who, when he retreated, howled and bleated at such a desperate rate, that if one could have been there, he would have thought that all the wolves, whether wrapped up in sheep skins or in goat skins or in some other skins, and in fine all the beasts of the forest, were awfully alarmed, and catching the scent of innocent blood, they sallied forth with one tremendous howl and crying of all sorts; and such a howling, and such a tremendous havoc never was known before; such inhumanity, and relentless cruelty and barbarity as were practiced against the Saints in Missouri can scarcely be found in the annals of history.
Now those characters if allowed to would make the world believe that we had committed murder, by making an attack upon this howling wolf, while the fact is we were at home and in our bed, and asleep, and knew nothing of that transaction any more than we know what is going on in China while we are within these walls. Therefore we say again unto you, we are innocent of these things, and they have represented us falsely.
Was it for committing adultery that we were assailed? We are aware that that false slander has gone abroad, for it has been reiterated in our ears. These are falsehoods also. Renegade "Mormon" dissenters are running through the world and spreading various foul and libelous reports against us, thinking thereby to gain the friendship of the world, because they know that we are not of the world, and that the world hates us; therefore they [the world] make a tool of these fellows [the dissenters]; and by them try to do all the injury they can, and after that they hate them worse than they do us, because they find them to be base traitors and sycophants.
Such characters God hates; we cannot love them. The world hates them, and we sometimes think that the devil ought to be ashamed of them.
We have heard that it is reported by some, that some of us should have said, that we not only dedicated our property, but our families also to the Lord; and Satan, taking advantage of this, has perverted it into licentiousness, such as a community of wives, which is an abomination in the sight of God.
When we consecrate our property to the Lord it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy, for this is the law of God; it is not for the benefit of the rich, those who have no need; and when a man consecrates or dedicates his wife and children, he does not give them to his brother, or to his neighbor, for there is no such law: for the law of God is, Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery already in his heart. Now for a man to consecrate his property, wife and children, to the Lord, is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the widow and fatherless, the sick and afflicted, and do all he can to administer to their relief in their afflictions, and for him and his house to serve the Lord. In order to do this, he and all his house must be virtuous, and must shun the very appearance of evil.
Now if any person has represented anything otherwise than what we now write, he or she is a liar, and has represented us falsely—and this is another manner of evil which is spoken against us falsely.
We have learned also since we have been prisoners, that many false and pernicious things, which were calculated to lead the Saints far astray and to do great injury, have been taught by Dr. Avard as coming from the Presidency, and we have reason to fear that many other designing and corrupt characters like unto himself, have been teaching many things which the Presidency never knew were being taught in the Church by anybody until after they were made prisoners. Had they known of such things they would have spurned them and their authors as they would the gates of hell. Thus we find that there have been frauds and secret abominations and evil works of darkness going on, leading the minds of the weak and unwary into confusion and distraction, and all the time palming it off upon the Presidency, while the Presidency were ignorant as well as innocent of those things which those persons were practicing in the Church in their name. Meantime the Presidency were attending to their own secular and family concerns, weighed down with sorrow, in debt, in poverty, in hunger, essaying to be fed, yet finding [ i. e. supporting] themselves. They occasionally received deeds of charity, it is true; but these were inadequate to their subsistence; and because they received those deeds, they were envied and hated by those who professed to be their friends.
But notwithstanding we thus speak, we honor the Church, when we speak of the Church as a Church, for their liberality, kindness, patience, and long suffering, and their continual kindness towards us.
And now, brethren, we say unto you—what more can we enumerate? Is not all manner of evil of every description spoken of us falsely, yea, we say unto you falsely. We have been misrepresented and misunderstood, and belied, and the purity and integrity and uprightness of our hearts have not been known—and it is through ignorance—yea, the very depths of ignorance is the cause of it; and not only ignorance, but on the part of some, gross wickedness and hypocrisy also; for some, by a long face and sanctimonious prayers, and very pious sermons, had power to lead the minds of the ignorant and unwary, and thereby obtain such influence that when we approached their iniquities the devil gained great advantage—would bring great trouble and sorrow upon our heads; and, in fine, we have waded through an ocean of tribulation and mean abuse, practiced upon us by the ill bred and the ignorant, such as Hinkle, Corrill, Phelps, Avard, Reed Peck, Cleminson, and various others, who are so very ignorant that they cannot appear respectable in any decent and civilized society, and whose eyes are full of adultery, and cannot cease from sin. Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them. Marsh and "another," whose hearts are full of corruption, whose cloak of hypocrisy was not sufficient to shield them or to hold them up in the hour of trouble, who after having escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, became again entangled and overcome—their latter end is worse than the first. But it has happened unto them according to the word of the Scripture: "The dog has returned to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."
Again, if men sin wilfully after they have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to come, which shall devour these adversaries. For he who despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much more severe punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath sold his brother, and denied the new and everlasting covenant by which he was sanctified, calling it an unholy thing, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace.
And again we say unto you, that inasmuch as there is virtue in us, and the Holy Priesthood has been conferred upon us—and the keys of the kingdom have not been taken from us, for verily thus saith the Lord, "Be of good cheer, for the keys that I gave unto you are yet with you"—therefore we say unto you, dear brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we deliver these characters unto the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption, that they may be dealt with according to their works; and from henceforth their works shall be made manifest.
And now dear and well beloved brethren—and when we say brethren, we mean those who have continued faithful in Christ, men, women and children—we feel to exhort you in the name of the Lord Jesus, to be strong in the faith in the new and everlasting covenant, and nothing frightened at your enemies. For what has happened unto us is an evident token to them of damnation; but unto us, of salvation, and that of God. Therefore hold on even unto death; for "he that seeks to save his life shall lose it; and he that loses his life for my sake, and the Gospel's, shall find it," saith Jesus Christ.
Brethren, from henceforth, let truth and righteousness prevail and abound in you; and in all things be temperate; abstain from drunkenness, and from swearing, and from all profane language, and from everything which is unrighteous or unholy; also from enmity, and hatred, and covetousness, and from every unholy desire. Be honest one with another, for it seems that some have come short of these things, and some have been uncharitable, and have manifested greediness because of their debts towards those who have been persecuted and dragged about with chains without cause, and imprisoned. Such characters God hates—and they shall have their turn of sorrow in the rolling of the great wheel, for it rolleth and none can hinder. Zion shall yet live, though she seem to be dead.
Remember that whatsoever measure you mete out to others, it shall be measured to you again. We say unto you, brethren, be not afraid of your adversaries; contend earnestly against mobs, and the unlawful works of dissenters and of darkness.
And the very God of peace shall be with you, and make a way for your escape from the adversary of your souls. We commend you to God and the word of His grace, which is able to make us wise unto salvation. Amen.
Joseph Smith, Jun.
Chapter 15 Notes
1. This barbarous deed is vividly described by President John Taylor in his controversy with Mr. Schuyler Colfax, Vice-President of the United States, 1810: "My mind wanders back upwards of thirty years ago, when, in the state of Missouri, Mr. McBride, an old, grey-haired, venerable veteran of the Revolution, with feeble frame and tottering steps, cried to a Missouri patriot: 'Spare my life, I am a Revolutionary soldier, I fought for liberty. Would you murder me? What is my offense, I believe in God and revelation?' This frenzied disciple of misplaced faith said: 'Take that, you———Mormon,' and with the butt of his gun he dashed his brains out, and he lay quivering there,—his white locks clotted with his own brains and gore, on that soil that he had heretofore shed his blood to redeem—a sacrifice at the shrine of liberty! Shades of Franklin, Jefferson and Washington, were you there? Did you gaze on this deed of blood? Did you see your companion in arms thus massacred?"
2. In order to appreciate the allusions here made to David Whitmer it will be necessary to remember that William E. M'Lellin claimed that President Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet and himself sought to bring into existence a re-organized church with David Whitmer as the president thereof. See foot note in this volume at pages 31, 32.