Preparations For Leaving Missouri—Action Of The State Legislature.
Reflections on the Opening Year.
Tuesday, January 1, 1839.—The day dawned upon us as prisoners of hope, but not as sons of liberty. O Columbia, Columbia! How thou art fallen! “The land of the free, the home of the brave!” “The asylum of the oppressed”—oppressing thy noblest sons in a loathsome dungeon, without any provocation, only that they have claimed to worship the God of their fathers according to His own word, and the dictates of their own consciences. Elder Parley P. Pratt and his companions in tribulation were still held in bondage in their doleful prison in Richmond.
Anson Call Beaten.
Monday, January 7.—Anson Call returned to his farm on the three forks of Grand river, to see if he could secure any of the property he had left in his flight to Adam-ondi-Ahman, and was there met by the mob, and beaten with a hoop pole about his limbs, body and head; the man that used the pole about his person was George W. O’Neal. With much difficulty Brother Call returned to Far West, with his person much bruised, and from that time gave up all hopes of securing any of his property.
Storm in England.
Tuesday, January 8.—About this time England and Ireland were visited by a tremendous storm of wind from the northwest, which unroofed and blew down many houses in the cities and in the country, doing much damage to the shipping; many hundreds of persons were turned out of doors, many lives lost on the land and sea, and an immense amount of property was destroyed. Such a wind had not been witnessed by any one living; and some began to think that the judgments were about to follow the Elders’ preaching.
Thursday, January 10.—
Missouri State Senate Resolutions on Mormon Difficulties.
Resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring therein, that the three resolutions of the 18th of December be referred to a joint committee of the two Houses, heretofore raised, on the subject of the Mormon difficulties, with the instructions to report a bill in conformity thereto, as soon as they can conveniently prepare the same; which was agreed to. 1
Wednesday, January 16.—Mr. Turner, from the joint select committee, introduced to the Senate, “A Bill to provide for the investigation of the late disturbances in this state.” This bill consists of twenty-three sections, of which the following is the first:
1st. A joint committee shall be appointed to investigate the causes of the late disturbances between the people called Mormons and other inhabitants of this state, and the conduct of the military operations in repressing them; which committee shall consist of two senators, to be elected by the Senate and three representatives, to be elected by the House of Representatives.
Other Provisions of the Bill.
The bill further provided that the committee should meet at Richmond, Ray county, on the first Monday in May, and thereafter at such times and places as they should appoint, that they should choose a chairman, clerk, sergeant-at-arms and assistants; issue subpoenas and other processes; administer oaths; keep a record; furnish rooms; pay witnesses one dollar and fifty cents per day out of the treasury; receive their pay as members of the legislature; clerk four dollars per day, and one dollar and fifty cents for each arrest. In short, all parties concerned were to be paid the highest price—and this committee were to be clothed with all the powers of the highest courts of record. This bill did not concern the “Mormons,” as the exterminating order of Governor Boggs, and the action of General Clark thereon, would compel all the Saints to be out of the state before the court would sit, so that they would have no testimony but from mobbers and worse, apostates; and this was evidently their object in postponing the time so long.
Proposition to Help the Poor.
About this time President Brigham Young proposed to Bishop Partridge to help the poor out of the state. The Bishop replied, “The poor may take care of themselves, and I will take care of myself.” President Brigham Young replied, “If you will not help them out, I will.”
Thursday, January 24.—I wrote as follows from Liberty jail:
The Prophet’s Petition to the Missouri Legislature.
To the Honorable Legislature of Missouri
Your memorialists, having a few days since solicited your attention to the same subject, 2 would now respectfully submit to your honorable body a few additional facts in support of their prayer.
They are now imprisoned under a charge of treason against the state of Missouri, and their lives, and fortunes, and characters, are suspended upon the result of the trial on the criminal charges preferred against them. Therefore your honorable body will excuse them for manifesting the deep concern they feel in relation to their trial for a crime so enormous as that of treason.
It is not our object to complain—to asperse any one. All we ask is a fair and impartial trial. We ask the sympathies of no one. We ask sheer justice; ’tis all we expect, and all we merit, but we merit that. We know the people of no county in this state to which we would ask our final trial to be sent, who are prejudiced in our favor. But we believe that the state of excitement existing in most of the upper counties is such that a jury would be improperly influenced by it. But that excitement, and the prejudice against us in the counties comprising the fifth Judicial Circuit, are not the only obstacles we are compelled to meet. We know that much of that prejudice against us is not so much to be attributed to a want of honest motives amongst the citizens as it is to misrepresentation.
It is a difficult task to change opinions once formed. The other obstacle which we candidly consider one of the most weighty, is the feeling which we believe is entertained by Hon. Austin A. King against us, and his consequent inability to do us impartial justice. It is from no disposition to speak disrespectfully of that high officer, that we lay before your honorable body the facts we do; but simply that the legislature may be apprised of our real condition. We look upon Judge King as like all other mere men, liable to be influenced by his feelings, his prejudices, and his previously formed opinions. From his reputation we consider him as being partially, if not entirely, committed against us. He has written much upon the subject of our late difficulties, in which he has placed us in the wrong. These letters have been published to the world. He has also presided at an excited public meeting as chairman, and no doubt sanctioned all the proceedings. We do not complain of the citizens who held that meeting, they were entitled to that privilege. But for the judge before whom the very men were to be tried for a capital offense to participate in an expression of condemnation of these same individuals, is to us, at least, apparently wrong; and we cannot think that we should, after such a course on the part of the judge, have the same chance of a fair and impartial trial as all admit we ought to have.
We believe that the foundation of the feeling against us, which we have reason to think Judge King entertains, may be traced to the unfortunate troubles which occurred in Jackson county some few years ago; in a battle between the “Mormons” and a portion of the citizens of that county, Mr. Brazeale, the brother-in-law of Judge King, was killed. It is natural that the judge should have some feelings against us, whether we were right or wrong in that controversy.
We mention these facts, not to disparage Judge King; we believe that from the relation he bears to us, he would himself prefer that our trials should be had in a different circuit, and before a different court. Many other reasons and facts we might mention, but we forebear.
Prostscript to the Petition.
This letter was directed to James M. Hughes, Esq., member of the House of Representatives, Jefferson City, with the following request:
Will you be so kind as to present this to the House. The community here would, I believe, have no objection for the trial of these men being transferred to St. Louis.
P. H. B. 3
Minutes of a Public Meeting at Far West.
A meeting of a respectable number of the citizens of Caldwell county, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was held in Far West, according to previous notice, to devise and take into consideration such measures as might be thought necessary in order to comply with the orders of the Executive to remove from the state of Missouri immediately, as made known by General Clark to the citizens of said county, in the month of November last.
The meeting was called to order by Don C. Smith; and on motion, John Smith was unanimously called to the chair, and Elias Smith appointed secretary.
The object of the meeting was then stated by the chairman, who briefly adverted to the causes which had brought about the present state of affairs, and called for an expression of sentiment on the best course to be pursued in the present emergency.
Several gentlemen addressed the meeting on the subject of our removal from the state and the seeming impossibility of complying with the orders of the governor of Missouri, in consequence of the extreme poverty of many, which had come upon them by being driven from place to place, deprived of their constitutional rights and privileges, as citizens of this, and the United States, and were of the opinion that an appeal to the citizens of Upper Missouri ought to be made, setting forth our condition, and claiming their assistance towards furnishing means for the removal of the poor of this county out of the state, as being our right and our due in the present case.
On motion, resolved: That a committee of seven be appointed to make a draft of a preamble and resolutions in accordance with the foregoing sentiments to be presented to a future meeting for their consideration.
The following were then appointed. viz.,—John Taylor, Alanson Ripley, Brigham Young, Theodore Turley, Heber C. Kimball, John Smith and Don C. Smith.
Resolved: That the committee be further instructed to ascertain the number of families who are actually destitute of means for their removal, and report at the next meeting.
Resolved: That it is the opinion of this meeting that an exertion should be made to ascertain how much can be obtained from individuals of the society [the Church], and that it is the duty of those who have, to assist those who have not, that thereby we may, as far as possible, within and of ourselves, comply with the demands of the Executive.
Adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, the 29th instant, at twelve o’clock, m.
John Smith, Chairman.
Elias Smith, Secretary.
Minutes of the Second Meeting at Far West.
The brethren met again according to adjournment. John Smith was again called to the chair, and Elias Smith appointed secretary.
The committee appointed to draw up a preamble and resolutions to be presented to the meeting for consideration, presented by their chairman, John Taylor, a memorial of the transactions of the people of Missouri towards us since our first settlement in this state, in which was contained some of our sentiments and feelings on the subject of our persecutions by the authority of the state, and our deprivation of the rights of citizenship guaranteed to us by the Constitution. The document under preparation by the committee was yet in an unfinished state, owing to causes which were stated by the committee; and they further apologized for not drawing it up in the form of resolutions, agreeable to the vote of the former meeting.
The report was accepted as far as completed, and by a vote of the meeting, the same committee were directed to finish it, and prepare it for and send it to the press for publication, and they were instructed to dwell minutely on the subject relating to our arms, and the fiend-like conduct of the officers of the militia in sequestering all the best of them after their surrender on condition of being returned to us again, or suffering them to be exchanged for others, not worth half their value, in violation of their bond, and of the honor of the commander of the forces sent against us by the State.
On motion of President Brigham Young, it was resolved that we this day enter into a covenant to stand by and assist each other to the utmost of our abilities in removing from this state, and that we will never desert the poor who are worthy, till they shall be out of the reach of the exterminating order of General Clark, acting for and in the name of the state.
After an expression of sentiments by several who addressed the meeting on the propriety of taking efficient measures to remove the poor from the state, it was resolved, that a committee of seven be appointed to superintend the business of our removal, and to provide for those who have not the means of moving, till the work shall be completed.
The following were then appointed, viz., William Huntington, Charles Bird, Alanson Ripley, Theodore Turley, Daniel Shearer, Shadrach Roundy, and Jonathan H. Hale.
Resolved: That the secretary draft an instrument expressive of the sense of the covenant entered into this day, by those present, and that those who were willing to subscribe to the covenant should do it, that their names might be known, which would enable the committee more expeditiously to carry their business into effect.
The instrument was accordingly drawn, and by vote of the meeting the secretary attached the names of those who were willing to subscribe to it.
Adjourned to meet again on Friday, the 1st of February next, at twelve o’clock, m.
John Smith, Chairman.
Elias Smith, Secretary.
The following is the covenant referred to in the preceding minutes, with the names which were then and afterwards attached to it, as far as they have been preserved:
We, whose names are hereunder written, do for ourselves individually hereby covenant to stand by and assist one another, to the utmost of our abilities, in removing from this state in compliance with the authority of the state; and we do hereby acknowledge ourselves firmly bound to the extent of all our available property, to be disposed of by a committee who shall be appointed for the purpose of providing means for the removing from this state of the poor and destitute who shall be considered worthy, till there shall not be one left who desires to remove from the state: with this proviso, that no individual shall be deprived of the right of the disposal of his own property for the above purpose, or of having the control of it, or so much of it as shall be necessary for the removing of his own family, and to be entitled to the over-plus, after the work is effected; and furthermore, said committee shall give receipts for all property, and an account of the expenditure of the same.
Far West, Missouri, January 29, 1839.
List of Names Subscribed to the Foregoing.
John Smith, James McMillan, Wm. Huntington, Chandler Holbrook, Charles Bird, Alexander Wright, Alanson Ripley, William Taylor, Theodore Turley, John Taylor, Daniel Shearer, Reuben P. Hartwell, Shadrach Roundy, John Lowry, Jonathan H. Hale, Welcome Chapman, Elias Smith, Solomon Hancock, Brigham Young, Arza Adams, James Burnham, Henry Jacobs, Leicester Gaylord, James Carroll, Samuel Williams, David Lyons, John Miller, John Taylor, Aaron M. York, Don Carlos Smith, George A. Smith, William J. Stewart, Daniel Howe, Isaac B. Chapman, James Bradin, Roswell Stephens, Jonathan Beckelshimer, Reuben Headlock, David Jones, David Holman, Wm. M. Fossett, Joel Goddard, Charles N. Baldwin, Phineas R. Bird, Jesse N. Reed, Duncan McArthur, Benjamin Johnson, Allen Talley, Jonathan Hampton, James Hampton, Anson Call, Sherman A. Gilbert, Peter Dopp, James S. Holman, Samuel Rolph, Andrew Lytle, Abel Lamb, Aaron Johnson, Daniel McArthur, Heber C. Kimball, William Gregory, George W. Harris, Zenas Curtis, George W. Davidson, John Reed, Harvey Strong, William R. Orton, Elizabeth Mackley, Samuel D. Tyler, Sarah Mackley, John H. Goff, Andrew More, Thomas Butterfield, Harvey Downey, Dwight Hardin, John Maba, Norvil M. Head, Lucy Wheeler, Stephen V. Foot, John Turpin, Jacob G. Bigler, William Earl, Eli Bagley, Zenos H. Gurley, William Milam, Joseph W. Coolidge, Lorenzo Clark, Anthony Head, William Allred, S. A. P. Kelsey, Wm. Van Ausdall, Moses Evord, Nathan K. Knight, Ophelia Harris, John Thorp, Zuba McDonald, Andrew Rose, Mary Goff, John S. Martin, Harvey J. Moore, Albert Sloan, Francis Chase, John D. Lee, Stephen Markham, Eliphas Marsh, John Outhouse, Joseph Wright, Wm. F. Leavens, John Badger, Daniel Tyler, Levi Richards, Noah Rogers, Erastus Bingham, Stephen N. St. John, Elisha Everett, Francis Lee, John Lytle, Eli Lee, Levi Jackman, Benjamin Covey, Thomas Guyman, Michel Borkdull, Nahum Curtis, Miles Randall, Lyman Curtis, Horace Evans, Philip Ballard, David Dort, William Gould, Levi Hancock, Reuben Middleton, Edwin Whiting, William Harper, William Barton, Seba Joes, Elisha Smith, Charles Butler, James Gallaher, Richard Walton, Robert Jackson, Isaac Kerron, Lemuel Merrick, Joseph Rose, James Dunn, David Foot, Orin Hartshorn, L. S. Nickerson, Nathan Hawke, Moses Daley, Pierce Hawley, David Sessions, Thomas J. Fisher, Perrigrine Sessions, James Leithead, Alford P. Childs, Alfred Lee, James Daley, Stephen Jones, Noah T. Guyman, Eleazer Harris, David Winters, Elijah B. Gaylord, John Pack, Thomas Grover, Sylvanus Hicks, Alexander Badlam, Horatio N. Kent, Phebe Kellog, Joseph W. Pierce, Albert Miner, Thomas Gates, William Woodland, Squire Bozarth, Martin C. Allred, Nathan Lewis, Jedediah Owen, Philander Avery, Orin P. Rockwell, Benjamin F. Bird, Nathan B. Baldwin, Charles Squire, Truman Brace, Jacob Curtis, Sarah Wixom, Rachel Medfo, Lewis Zobriski, Lyman Stevens, Henry Zobriski, Roswell Evans, Morris Harris, Leonard Clark, Absolom Tidwell, Nehemiah Harmon, Alvin Winegar, Daniel Cathcart, Samuel T. Winegar, Gershom Stokes, John E. Page, Rachel Page, Levi Gifford, Barnet Cole, Edmund Durfee, William Thompson, Josiah Butterfield, Nathan Cheney, John Killion, James Sherry, John Patten David Frampton, John Wilkins, Elizabeth Pettigrew, Abram Allen, Charles Thompson, William Felshaw.
Activity of the Committee on Removal.
The committee who had been appointed for removing the poor from the state of Missouri, viz.: William Huntington, Charles Bird, Alanson Ripley, Theodore Turley, Daniel Shearer, Shadrach Roundy, and Jonathan H. Hale, met in the evening of that day [January 29, 1539], at the house of Theodore Turley, and organized by appointing William Huntington chairman, Daniel Shearer treasurer, and Alanson Ripley clerk, and made some arrangements for carrying into operation the business of removing the poor. President Brigham Young got eighty subscribers to the covenant the first day, and three hundred the second day.
Thursday, 31.—Mr. Turner’s bill of the 16th instant passed the senate. I sent the poor brethren a hundred dollar bill from jail, to assist them in their distressed situation.
Friday, February 1—
Minutes of a Meeting of the Committee on Removal.
The committee met according to adjournment, at the house of Theodore Turley; John Smith was present and acted as chairman, and Elias Smith as secretary. The meeting was called to order by the chairman.
On motion, Resolved: That the covenant entered into at the last meeting be read by the Secretary, which was done accordingly.
The chairman then called for the expression of sentiments on the subject of the covenant.
Resolved, That the committee be increased to eleven.
The following were then appointed: Elias Smith, Erastus Bingham, Stephen Markham, and James Newberry.
Several of the committee addressed the meeting on the arduous task before them, and exhorted all to exert themselves to relieve and assist them in the discharge of the duties of their office, to the utmost of their abilities.
Elders Taylor and Young, in the most forcible manner addressed the assembly on the propriety of union in order to carry our resolutions into effect, and exhorted the brethren to use wisdom in the sale of their property.
John Smith, Chairman,
Elias Smith, Secretary.
The committee met again in the evening at Theodore Turley’s. Alanson Ripley declined acting as clerk, and Elias Smith was appointed in his stead.
Resolved, That exertions be made to remove the families of the Presidency and the other prisoners first.
Several of the committee made report of what had been done by them towards carrying the business of the committee into operation. Elder John Taylor had also been appointed to visit the branches of the Church on Log and Upper Goose creeks, and made a report of his proceedings.
Resolved, That Charles Bird be appointed to go down towards the Mississippi river and establish deposits of corn for the brethren on the road, and make contracts for ferriage, etc.
Monday, February 4.—Mr. Turner’s bill of 16th January came up for the first reading, “when Mr. Wright moved that the bill be laid on the table until the 4th day of July next; and upon this question Mr. Primm desired the yeas and nays, which were ordered, and the decision was in the affirmative” by eleven majority, which by many was considered an approval of all the wrongs the Saints had sustained in the state. 4
6th and 7th. 5 The committee on the removal of the Saints from Missouri were in session. Stephen Markham started for Illinois, with my wife and children, and Jonathan Holmes and wife.
Chapter 17 Notes
1. The above resolution was offered by Mr. William M. Campbell in the Senate, and the three resolutions of the 18th of December were in Mr. Turner’s report to the Senate of that date, and are as follows:
Resolved. That it is inexpedient at this time, to prosecute further the inquiry into the causes of the late disturbances and the conduct of the military operations in suppressing them.
Resolved, That it is inexpedient to publish at this time, any of the documents accompanying the governor’s message in relation to the late disturbances.
Resolved, That it is expedient to appoint a joint committee composed of——Senators, and——Representatives to investigate the cause of said disturbances, and the conduct of the military operations in suppressing them, to meet at such time, and to be invested with such powers as may be prescribed by law.” See the whole report of Mr. Turner’s, at pp. 235-8.
3. Whom these initials represent cannot be ascertained, or whether they represent one person or three. They evidently represent secret friends or a friend of the Prophet at Liberty, Clay county, willing to urge this matter upon the attention of Mr. Hughes and also upon the House.
4. At any rate Mr. Turner’s bill providing for an elaborate investigation was never taken from the table. In the legislature, however, which convened in 1840-41, the subject of the “Mormon” difficulties was again taken up on recommendation of Governor Boggs, who concludes what he had to say in his message in this language. “To explain the attitude which we have been made to assume I would recommend the publication of all the events relating to the occurrence, and distributing the same to the chief authorities of each state.” In pursuance of this recommendation the joint committee appointed from the senate and house made a collection of documents on the subject covering 162 pages. In the collection, however, there are none of the statements, petitions, or representations made to the public or the legislature by the Saints. The documents consist in part of the action of the respective houses in the appointment of committees and reports of those committees recommending investigations, etc.; of the reports and military orders of the militia generals; while the remainder of the pamphlet is made up of the ex parte testimony taken before Judge King at Richmond, concerning which testimony the Turner senate committee in reporting to the senate, under date of December 18, 1838, said: It “is manifestly not such evidence as ought to be received by the committee:
“First, because it is not authenticated; and,
“Second, it is confined chiefly to the object of the inquiry, namely, the investigation of criminal charges against individuals under arrest.”
The action of the legislature in the matter was a “white-washing affair,” to use a phrase common in such cases. It was an attempt to vindicate the state of Missouri in her treatment of the Latter-day Saints. The effort, however, was in vain. The truths in relation to those transactions, in spite of all the efforts of the legislature, were known, and the state’s attempt to deny them by a publication of documents giving a hearing to but one side of the case, only emphasized the crime.
5. February 7th. An event occurred on this date which ought not to be omitted from history, as it throws great light upon the prison life of the Prophet and his associates, upon the character of the Prophet himself, and the great faith his associates had in his prophetic powers. This event, and some others of equal interest were related by Alexander McRae, one of the fellow prisoners of the Prophet, in two communications to the Deseret News, under the dates of October 9th, and November 1st, respectively, of the year 1854. At that time “The History of Joseph Smith” was being published in current numbers of the News, and Brother McRae, then Bishop of the Eleventh Ward of Salt Lake City, being surprised at the omission in the narrative of the Prophet of many items of interest concerning their prison life, wrote the two following letters to the News:
Letter of Alexander McRae to the Deseret News.
Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 9, 1854.
Mr. Editor:—In reading the History of Joseph Smith as published in the News last winter, and especially that part of it which relates to his imprisonment in Liberty jail, Missouri, I see there are many interesting facts which are omitted; and as I had the honor of being a fellow prisoner with him, I thought I would write some of those incidents for the satisfaction of any of your readers who may feel interested in them.
During our imprisonment, we had many visitors, both friends and enemies. Among the latter, many were angry with Brother Joseph, and accused him of killing a son, a brother, or some relative of theirs, at what was called the Crooked River Battle. This looked rather strange to me, that so many should claim a son, or a brother killed there, when they reported only one man killed.
Among our friends who visited us, were Presidents Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball [now—i. e. at the time this letter was written, 1854], of the First Presidency—the latter several times; George A. Smith, of the quorum of the Twelve; Don C. Smith, brother of Joseph, came several times, and brought some of our families to see us. Benjamin Covey, Bishop of the Twelfth Ward of this city, brought each of us a new pair of boots, and made us a present of them. James Sloan, his wife and daughter, came several times. Alanson Ripley also visited us, and many others, whom to name would be too tedious. Orin P. Rockwell brought us refreshments many times; and Jane Bleven and her daughter brought cakes, pies, etc., and handed them in at the window. These things helped us much, as our food was very coarse, and so filthy that we could not eat it until we were driven to it by hunger.
After we had been there some time, and had tried every means we could to obtain our liberty by the law, without effect (except Sidney Rigdon who was bailed out), and also having heard, from a reliable source, that it had been stated in the public street, by the most influential men in that part of the country, that “the Mormon prisoners would have to be condemned or the character of the state would have to go down,” we came to the conclusion that we would try other means to effect it.
Accordingly, on the 7th day of February, 1839, after counseling together on the subject, we concluded to try to go that evening when the jailer came with our supper; but Brother Hyrum, before deciding fully, and to make it more sure, asked Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord as to the propriety of the move. He did so, and received answer to this effect—that if we were all agreed, we could go clear that evening; and if we would ask, we should have a testimony for ourselves. I immediately asked, and had not no more than asked, until I received as clear a testimony as ever I did of anything in my life, that it was true. Brother Hyrum Smith and Caleb Baldwin bore testimony to the same: but Lyman Wight said we might go if we chose, but he would not. After talking with him for some time, he said, “if we would wait until the next day, he would go with us.” Without thinking we had no promise of success on any other day than the one above stated, we agreed to wait.
When night came, the jailer came alone with our supper, threw the door wide open, put our supper on the table, and went to the back part of the room, where a pile of books lay, took up a book, and went to reading, leaving us between him and the door, thereby giving us every chance to go if we had been ready. As the next day was agreed upon, we made no attempt to go that evening.
When the next evening came, the case was very different; the jailer brought a double guard with him and with them six of our brethren, to-wit.: Erastus Snow, William D. Huntington, Cyrus Daniels, David Holeman, Alanson Ripley and Watson Barlow. I was afterwards informed that they were sent by the Church. The jailer seemed to be badly scared; he had the door locked and everything made secure. It looked like a bad chance to get away, but we were determined to try it; so when the jailer started out, we started too. Brother Hyrum took hold of the door, and the rest followed; but before we were able to render him the assistance he needed, the jailer and guard succeeded in closing the door, shutting the brethren in with us, except Cyrus Daniels, who was on the outside.
As soon as the attempt was made inside, he took two of the guards, one under each arm, and ran down the stairs that led to the door, it being in the second story. When he reached the ground they got away from him; and seeing we had failed to get out, he started to run, but put his foot in a hole and fell, a bullet from one of the guards passed very close to his head, and he thinks the fall saved his life.
The scene that followed this defies description. I should judge, from the number, that all the town, and many form the country, gathered around the jail, and every mode of torture and death that their imagination could fancy, was proposed for us, such as blowing up the jai, taking us out and whipping us to death, shooting us, burning us to death, tearing us to pieces with horses, etc. But they were so divided among themselves that they could not carry out any of their plans, and we escaped unhurt.
During this time, some of our brethren spoke of our being in great danger; and I confess I felt that we were. But Brother Joseph told them “not to fear, that not a hair of their heads should be hurt, and that they should not lose any of their things, even to a bridle, saddle, or blanket; that everything should be restored to them; they had offered their lives for us and the Gospel; that it was necessary the Church should offer a sacrifice, and the Lord accepted the offering.”
The brethren had next to undergo a trial, but the excitement was so great that they [the officers] dare not take them out until it abated a little. While they were waiting for their trial, some of the brethren employed lawyers to defend them. Brother [Erastus] Snow asked Brother Joseph whether he had better employ a lawyer or not. Brother Joseph told him to plead his own case. “But,” said Brother Snow, “I do not understand the law.” Brother Joseph asked him if he did not understand justice; he thought he did. “Well,” said Brother Joseph, “go and plead for justice as hard as you can, and quote Blackstone and other authors now and then, and they will take it all for law.”
He did as he was told, and the result was as Joseph had said it would be; for when he got through his plea, the lawyers flocked around him, and asked him where he had studied law, and said they had never heard a better plea. When the trial was over Brother Snow was discharged, and all the rest were held to bail, and were allowed to bail each other, by Brother Snow going bail with them; and they said they got everything that was taken from them, and nothing was lost, although no two articles were in one place. More anon.
Second Letter of Alexander McRae to the Deseret News.
Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 1, 1854.
Mr. Editor:—Sometime during our stay in Liberty jail an attempt was made to destroy us by poison. I supposed it was administered in either tea or coffee, but as I did not use either, I escaped unhurt, while all who did were sorely afflicted, some being blind two or three days, and it was only by much faith and prayer that the effect was overcome.
We never suffered ourselves to go into any important measure without asking Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord in relation to it. Such was our confidence in him as a Prophet, that when he said “Thus saith the Lord,” we were confident it would be as he said; and the more we tried it, the more confidence we had, for we never found his word fail in a single instance.
A short time before we were to go to Daviess county for trial, word came to us that either General Atchison or Doniphan, would raise a military force, and go with us to protect us from the wrath of that people. The matter was discussed by the brethren (except Brother Joseph), and they naturally enough concluded it would be best; and although I had nothing to say, I concurred with them in my feelings. Brother Hyrum asked Brother Joseph what he thought of it. Brother Joseph hung his head a few moments, and seemed in a deep study, and then raised up and said, “Brother Hyrum, it will not do; we must trust in the Lord; if we take a guard with us we shall be destroyed.”
This was very unexpected to us, but Brother Hyrum remarked, “If you say it in the name of the Lord, we will rely on it.” Said Brother Joseph, “In the name of the Lord, if we take a guard with us, we will be destroyed; but if we put our trust in the Lord, we shall be safe, and no harm shall befall us, and we shall be better treated than we have ever been since we have been prisoners.”
This settled the question, and all seemed satisfied, and it was decided that we should have no extra guard, and they had only such a guard as they chose for our safe keeping. When we arrived at the place where the court was held, I began to think he was mistaken for once, for the people rushed upon us en masse, crying, “Kill them:————them, kill them.” I could see no chance for escape, unless we could fight our way through, and we had nothing to do it with. At this, Brother Joseph, at whom all seemed to rush, rose up and said, “We are in your hands; if we are guilty, we refuse not to be punished by the law.” Hearing these words, two of the most bitter mobocrats in the country—one by the name of William Peniston and the other Kinney, or McKinney, I do not remember which—got up on benches and began to speak to the people, saying, “Yes, gentlemen, these men are in our hands; let us not use violence, but let the law have its course; the law will condemn them, and they will be punished by it. We do not want the disgrace of taking the law into our own hands.”
In a very few minutes they were quieted, and they seemed now as friendly as they had a few minutes before been enraged. Liquor was procured, and we all had to drink in token of friendship. This took place in the court-room (a small log cabin about twelve feet square), during the adjournment of the court; and from that time until we got away, they could not put a guard over us who would not become so friendly that they dare not trust them, and the guard was very frequently changed. We were seated at the first table with the judge, lawyers, etc., and had the best the country afforded, with feather beds to sleep on—a privilege we had not before enjoyed in all our imprisonment.
On one occasion, while we were there, the above-named William Peniston, partly in joke and partly in earnest, threw out a rather hard insinuation against some of the brethren. This touched Joseph’s feelings, and he retorted a good deal in the same way, only with such power that the earth seemed to tremble under his feet, and said, “Your heart is as black as your whiskers,” which were as black as any crow. He seemed to quake under it and left the room.
The guards, who had become friendly, were alarmed for our safety, and exclaimed, “O, Mr. Smith, do not talk so; you will bring trouble upon yourself and companions.” Brother Joseph replied, “Do not be alarmed; I know what I am about.” He always took up for the brethren, when their characters were assailed, sooner than for himself, no matter how unpopular it was to speak in their favor.
Yours as ever,