Introduction to Volume 3.
Enlightenment a Factor in Determining Responsibility for Conduct.
VOLUME THREE concludes, for the present, the history of the Church in Missouri. I think it proper, therefore, that here should be considered the causes of the Missouri persecutions, which resulted in the expulsion of the entire Church from that state.
There have been, of course, more extensive persecutions than those inflicted on the Saints in Missouri; but I doubt if there has ever been a persecution more cruel or terror-laden in its character. Viewed from the standpoint of its net results there were some fifty people, men, women, and children, killed outright; about as many more were wounded or cruelly beaten, and many more perished indirectly because of the exposure to which they were subjected through the winters of 1833-4 and 1838-9.
In round numbers it is estimated that between twelve and fifteen thousand people, citizens of the United States, after being dispossessed of their lands, were forcibly driven from the state. It is known that they paid to the United States government for land alone, three hundred and eighteen thousand dollars, which, at the minimum price of one dollar and a quarter per acre, would give them land holdings of over two hundred and fifty thousand acres, which represented for that day very large interests. 1
To this list of results must be added the more horrible one of several cases of ravishment at Far West; and also, after barely escaping from the sentence of death pronounced by a court martial, the cruel imprisonment through weary months of a number of Church leaders.
In passing judgment upon such matters as these account must be taken of the age and country in which they occurred; likewise the pretensions to right views of life, and devotion to freedom on the part of the perpetrators of the injustice. Undoubtedly a heavier debt is incurred to history, to humanity and to God, when the parties who resort to such acts of mob violence and injustice live in an enlightened age, and where the free institutions of their country guarantee both the freedom and security of its citizens.
If in the jungle a man meets a tiger and is torn to pieces, no one thinks of holding the tiger to any moral accountability. Perhaps the hunt will be formed to destroy the beast, but that is merely to be rid of a dangerous animal, and prevent the repetition of the deed. If another meets a cruel death among savages in heathen lands, while some moral responsibility would hold against them, according to their degree of enlightenment, yet the fact that it was an act of savages would be held to reduce the degree of moral turpitude. And likewise even in civilized states, in localities to which the vicious may gravitate, when acts of violence are committed there, some allowance may be, and generally is, made for the ignorance and general brutality of the particular neighborhood.
By this process of reasoning I think it will appear quite clear that moral responsibility, both on the part of individuals and communities or nations, increases in proportion to their enlightenment. If, therefore, this principle be kept in view, the persecution of the Latter-day Saints by the people of Missouri was a very heinous offense.
True it may be said that the worst acts of cruelty were perpetrated by low, brutish men among the mob or in the militia—for these bodies were convertible from one to the other on shortest possible notice, and wholly as the exigencies of the enemies of the Saints demanded—but these were led and abetted by quite a different order of men: by lawyers, members of the state legislature, by county and district judges, by physicians, by professed ministers of the gospel, by merchants, by leading politicians, by captains, majors, colonels, and generals—of several grades—of the militia, by many other high officials of the state including the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and finally by the action of the state legislature which appropriated two hundred thousand dollars to defray the expenses incurred by the mob-militia in carrying out the Governor’s order, exterminating the Saints from the state. These facts are made apparent in the pages of this and the two preceding volumes of the HISTORY OF THE CHURCH. The facts cannot be questioned. They are written out most circumstantially in the Prophet’s story. Times, places, and names are given of the incidents related, and the more important of these may be corroborated by histories of these events other than our own.
The persecutions then of the Latter-day Saints in Missouri, and their final expulsion from that state, were crimes against the enlightenment of the age and of the state where the acts occurred; a crime against the constitutions and institutions both of the state of Missouri and of the United States; as also a crime against the Christian religion. All this we have in mind when speaking of the severity and cruelty of these compared with other persecutions. The state of Missouri was guilty of a greater crime when it persecuted the Latter-day Saints than states were which in the barbarous times of the dark ages persecuted their people; though when estimated in net results there may have been more murders and robberies, greater destruction of property, and more wide-spread suffering in the latter than in the former.
It is in the light of the principle here laid down that I propose to review the causes of the persecutions of the Latter-day Saints in Missouri.
The People of Missouri and the Saints.
The people of the state of Missouri, and especially those living in western and upper Missouri, in the early decades of the nineteenth century, were chiefly from the states of the South—from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Carolinas. This is not stated as a matter of reproach, for among the American people there have been no better or nobler citizens of the Republic than the people of the states enumerated. I merely make the statement in order to present a fact, and because other facts grow out of it. To say that Missouri was settled by emigrants from the states of the South carries with it the explanation why Missouri was one of the slave states, and her people attached to the social and industrial methods of life attendant upon that circumstance. That is to say, they looked with contempt upon manual labor; regarding it as menial and proper only for slaves to perform. With that idea is closely related another; namely, that white people who from circumstances were compelled to perform manual labor, or who followed it from principle, in the eyes of the people of the South were of an inferior class; contemptuously characterized by some as “white trash,” and by others, inclined to be more polite, as “poor whites.”
Freedom from manual labor gave to those of active dispositions in such communities an opportunity to follow the more desirable vocations of professional life; the law, medicine, the Christian ministry, merchandising and general business; or leisure for political or military activities; or the pursuit of pleasure, fishing, hunting, horse racing, and social life generally. These conditions naturally resulted in pride, often in arrogance, and a desperate sort of courage, which held honor high and weakness and cowardice in contempt; also something of intolerance for those disposed to set themselves against such an order of things.
The reader will recognize, of course, that I have so far in mind only the better element of the population, the least of the evils and some of the advantages resulting from such industrial and social conditions. There were, however, quite different and more serious results than any yet noted arising from this system of society. While those disposed to activity and inclined to honorable pursuits might enjoy certain advantages from the system, on the other hand, it fostered man’s natural inclination to idleness and love of ease that comes of idleness; and fostered jealousy and bitterness against those more industrious and successful. In such a class the system led to ignorance, irreligion, and criminal tendencies; constituting them a dangerous element in the community. It was doubtless this class the Prophet Joseph had in mind when he said soon after his first arrival in western Missouri: “Our reflections were great, coming as we had from a highly cultivated state of society in the East, and standing now upon the confines or western limits of the United States, and looking into the vast wilderness of those that sat in darkness. How natural it was to observe the degradation, leanness of intellect, ferocity and jealousy of a people that were nearly a century behind the times, and to feel for those who roamed about without the benefit of civilization, refinement, or religion!”[Page xx]
Many of the positions in the higher walks of life, in western Missouri, were sought by the unworthy, the corruptible and the vicious—men who sought all the advantages of the southern ideals of life without possessing the refining virtues which for generations in the older states of the south made some of the evils of the social system that obtained there at least tolerable. Such were the Brazeales, the Wilsons, the Hunters, the Kavanaughs, the Likens, the Loveladys, the McCartys, the McCoys, the Pixleys, the Simsons, the Silvers, the Westons, the Gilliams, the Birches, the Blacks, the Bogarts, the Clarks, the Liveseys, and the Penistons.
Another circumstance which influenced somewhat the character of western Missouri’s population in the early decades of the nineteenth century, was the fact that these sections of the state constituted part of the frontiers of the United States, and here had gravitated a more or less lawless class which sought the security of proximity to the boundary lines of the United States, from whose confines they could make their escape in the event of being hard pressed for violations of law in the older states whence they had come, or in their new habitat. Such were the Lovels, the Hawkins, the Heatherleys and many others.
The Latter-day Saints who settled in Missouri from 1831 to 1839 had come for the most part from the New England States and New York. There were, therefore, marked differences in character between them and the old settlers of Missouri; differences of ideas as to industrial and social life; of moral and religious life. The Saints were descendants chiefly of the Puritans, and both by inheritance and training had fallen heirs to the Puritan’s strict views of industry, religion and morality. The Puritans taught that all labor was honorable, and industry a duty. Religion occupied a large share of their attention—entered in fact into all the affairs of life—though its duties meant largely a regular attendance upon church service; a strict observance of the proprieties while there; a rigid observance throughout of the Sabbath day. Neither work nor amusements were tolerated on that day. In the olden time among some of their forefathers it had been unlawful to sit in Boston Common on the Sabbath or to walk in the streets of Boston, except to church. Once a man was publicly whipped for shooting a fowl on Sunday. A woman was threatened with banishment for smiling in church. A person absent from church for more than one Sunday was in danger of being fined, whipped, or set in the stocks. Swearing was prohibited in nearly all the New England colonies, and a split stick was sometimes placed on the swearer’s tongue. 2[Page xxi]
Both food and dress were plain, and the latter, in some instances, was regulated by law. Amusements were few. Dancing and card-playing were forbidden, and there was little music. The state sought to take entire charge of the individual, and supposed that tendency toward immorality could be stemmed by legislation. In early Connecticut no one under twenty was allowed to use tobacco, and none to use it more than once a day. The laws were severe and the penalties cruel. The stocks and whipping-post and pillory were in frequent requisition to correct moral delinquents. An offender might be made to stand on a stool in church with the name of his misdemeanor displayed on his breast. Among the common punishments were cropping or boring the ears and branding with a hot iron. 3
Of course in later years there was a general relaxation from these severities, and many of these customs and laws, by the time our generation of Saints came on the scene, were obsolete. Still, the moral and spiritual atmosphere in which the Saints and their fathers had been reared was austere in its moral character, and stood in marked contrast to the moral atmosphere of the South, where, in respect of such things as church attendance, religious observances, personal liberty in eating, drinking and amusements, there was wider freedom.
In the sparsely settled country of western Missouri, the descendants of the old cavaliers and their following, who settled the South, and the descendants of the Puritans, who settled the North, were to meet: and very naturally one may see in these antagonistic elements—aside from the cause of antagonism which will be found in the newly revealed religion of the Latter-day Saints—natural causes of irritation between them founded in the differences of character, and their respective conceptions of industrial, moral, and religious duties. That the old settlers in Missouri, even those friendly disposed towards the Saints, recognized the incompatibility of the two classes is evident from the public utterances of a mass meeting held at Liberty, in Clay county, when the Saints were urged to seek a new locality where they could live by themselves. “They are eastern men,” said the address, “whose manners, habits, customs, and even dialect, are essentially different from our own. We earnestly urge them to seek some other abiding place, where the manners, the habits, and customs of the people will be more consonant with their own.” 4
This difference of character between the Saints and the old settlers I account one of the causes of the Missouri persecutions.
The Question of Slavery.
The question of slavery in Missouri was a delicate one. It will perhaps be remembered that it was the application of the territory of Missouri for admission into the Union, 1818-19, that brought the question of slavery into one of its acute stages before the country; and inaugurated a long series of debates in the National Congress on the subject. It was upon the admission of Missouri into the Union in 1821 that the great Compromise which bears the state’s name settled, not the question of slavery itself, but, for the time, the agitation of it.
That Compromise consisted finally in this: that while Missouri herself was admitted with a clause in her constitution permitting slavery, and also prohibiting free people of color from immigrating into the state, slavery was forever to be prohibited in all territory of the United States north of the line thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude (the southern boundary line of the state of Missouri); and Missouri was required “by a solemn, public act” of her legislature, to declare that the clause in her constitution relating to the immigration of free negroes into the state, should never be construed to authorize the passage of any law by which any citizen of either of the states in this Union shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which he is entitled under the Constitution of the United States.
These historical facts are referred to here that the reader may be reminded that slavery was a delicate question in Missouri; that her people were super-sensitive about it since she was the first territory upon which the National Congress sought to impose the prohibition of slavery as a condition precedent to her admission into the Union, which, up to that time, had been a matter left to the people of the territory seeking admission to determine for themselves. Of course this attempt at restriction of slavery was made by northern members of the national Congress. 5 All the sentiment for the restriction of slavery was in the North. In 1831 the sentiment for the positive abolition of slavery had made such progress in Massachusetts, that William Lloyd Garrison established in Boston “The Liberator,” a paper which advocated “the immediate and unconditional emancipation of every slave in the United States.” As a result of this agitation anti-slavery societies were formed and active measures taken to advocate these opinions by means of lectures and pamphlets. These extreme measures against slavery did not meet with the approval of all or even the majority of the people of New England, much less with the approval of the people of other northern states. Still this agitation arose and was chiefly supported in New England. It will not be difficult to understand, therefore, that any considerable number of people from that section of the Union immigrating into a slave state would arouse suspicion; especially when that immigration was into a slave state upon which, when as a territory she had made application for admission into the Union, prohibition of slavery was sought to be enforced by the northern members of the National Congress. Nor will it be sufficient to dispel this suspicion to aver that these particular immigrants from New England, and other northern states are not abolitionists; that they take no part with, and do not share the fanatical sentiments of, the abolitionists; that their objects and purposes are of an entirely different and larger character.
The answer to all this was given in a public document drawn up to voice the sentiment of a great mass meeting of the people of Clay county—a people, be it remembered, who at the time (1836) were not unfriendly towards the Saints, but a people who a few years before had received the Saints into their homes, and given them shelter when they were exiles from Jackson county, and who, at the time of the utterance I am about to quote was published, were in a covenant of peace with the Saints, and the Saints in a covenant of peace with them—I say the answer to all disclaimers on the part of the Saints respecting their not being abolitionists was found in this public utterance: “They are eastern men, whose manners, habits, customs and even dialect are essentially different from our own. They are non-slaveholders, and opposed to slavery, which in this peculiar period, when abolitionism has reared its deformed and haggard visage in our land, is well calculated to excite deep and abiding prejudices in any community where slavery is tolerated and protected.”
I call attention to these facts that the student of the history of the Church may appreciate the weight of influence they would have in creating popular sentiment against the Saints; a matter which hitherto, if I may be permitted to say so, has not been fully appreciated. One can readily see what a potent factor this sentiment against New England and other northern states people would be in the hands of political demagogues and sectarian priests seeking to exterminate what they would respectively consider an undesirable element in politics and a religious rival. That both political demagogues and sectarian priests made the most of the opportunity which hostile sentiment in Missouri against abolition and abolitionists afforded, abundantly appears in the pages of the first volume of the Church History. That sentiment was appealed to from the first; indeed in the very first manifesto of the mob—known as “The Secret Constitution,” 6—issued against the Saints in Missouri, it was a prominent feature. This was at Independence, in July, 1833. In that “Manifesto” the following passage occurs: “More than a year since, it was ascertained that they [the Saints] had been tampering with our slaves, and endeavoring to sow dissensions and raise seditions amongst them. Of this their Mormon leaders were informed, and they said they would deal with any of their members who should again in like case offend. But how specious are appearances. In a late number of the Star, published in Independence by the leaders of the sect, there is an article inviting free negroes and mulattoes from other states to become Mormons, and remove and settle among us. This exhibits them in still more odious colors. It manifests a desire on the part of their society, to inflict on our society an injury that they know would be to us entirely insupportable, and one of the surest means of driving us from the country; for it would require none of the supernatural gifts that they pretend to, to see that the introduction of such a caste amongst us would corrupt our blacks, and instigate them to bloodshed.”
The article on “Free People of Color” referred to appeared in the Evening and Morning Star for July. The charge of sowing dissensions and inspiring seditions among the slaves, and inviting free negroes to settle in Missouri, had no foundation in truth. Concerning such people the Missouri laws provided that: If any negro or mulatto came into the state of Missouri, without a certificate from a court of record in some one of the United States, evidencing that he was a citizen of such state, on complaint before any justice of the peace, such negro or mulatto could be commanded by the justice to leave the state; and if the colored person so ordered did not leave the state within thirty days, on complaint of any citizen, such person could be again brought before the justice who might commit him to the common jail of the county, until the convening of the circuit court, when it became the duty of the judge of the circuit court to inquire into the cause of commitment; and if it was found that the negro or mulatto had remained in the state contrary to the provisions of this statute, the court was authorized to sentence such person to receive ten lashes on his or her bare back, and then order him or her to depart from the state; if the person so treated should still refuse to go, then the same proceedings were to be repeated and punishment inflicted as often as was necessary until such person departed.
And further: If any person brought into the state of Missouri a free negro or mulatto, without the aforesaid certificate of citizenship, for every such negro or mulatto the person offending was liable to a forfeit of five hundred dollars; to be recovered by action of debt in the name of the state.
The editor of the Star commenting upon this law said: “Slaves are real estate in this and other states, and wisdom would dictate great care among the branches of the Church of Christ on this subject. So long as we have no special rule in the Church as to people of color, let prudence guide; and while they, as well as we, are in the hands of a merciful God, we say: shun every appearance of evil.”
Publishing this law and the above comment was construed by the old settlers to be an invitation to free people of color to settle in Jackson county! Whereupon an extra was published to the July number of the Star on the sixteenth of the month, which said: “The intention in publishing the article, “Free People of Color,” was not only to stop free people of color from immigrating to Missouri, but to prevent them from being admitted as members of the Church. * * * * * To be short, we are opposed to having free people of color admitted into the State.” 7
But in the face of all this the Missourians still claimed that the article was merely published to give directions and cautions to be observed by “colored brethren,” to enable them upon their arrival in Missouri, to “claim and exercise the rights of citizenship.” “Contemporaneous with the appearance of this article”—the above article in the Star—continued the charge published in the Western Monitor—”was the expectation among the brethren, that a considerable number of this degraded caste were only waiting this information before they should set out on their journey.” 8 And this base falsehood was used to inflame the minds of the old settlers against the Saints.
I do not refer to this question of slavery in connection with the persecution of the Saints in Missouri in order to set it down as one of the causes of that persecution; because, as a matter of fact, the views of the Saints, and especially of the leading Elders of the Church on that question were such that they could never be truthfully charged with being a menace to that institution. The Prophet Joseph himself, at the time of the Jackson county troubles and subsequently, held very conservative views on the subject of slavery, surprisingly conservative views when his own temperament and environment are taken into account, of which fact any one may convince himself by reading his paper on the subject of abolition in Volume II of the Church History, pages 436-40.
Finally, it was given by the inspiration of God to the Prophet first to utter the most statesman-like word upon this vexed question of slavery, and had the nation and people of the United States but given heed to his recommendations it would have settled the question in harmony with the convictions of the people of the North, and without injustice to the South. Here follows his statesman-like word, published throughout the United States in 1844—eleven years before Ralph Waldo Emerson made substantially the same recommendation, and for which the philosopher received no end of praise:—
“Petition, also, ye goodly inhabitants of the slave states, your legislators to abolish slavery by the year 1850, or now, and save the abolitionist from reproach and ruin, and infamy and shame. Pray Congress to pay every man a reasonable price for his slaves out of the surplus revenue arising from the sale of the public lands, and from the deduction of pay from the members of Congress. Break off the shackles from the poor black man, and hire him to labor like other human beings; for an hour of virtuous liberty is worth a whole eternity of bondage.” 9
But now to return to the course of the Missourians in misrepresenting the views of the Saints on the subject of slavery. Notwithstanding the explicit denials through the “Evening and Morning Star,” that the article on “Free People of Color” was intended to invite such a class into the state; and the further declaration that the Saints were opposed to such persons coming into the state; as also the fact that it is doubtful if there were any free negroes who were members of the Church—notwithstanding all this, their enemies continued to misrepresent them, and their views on the subject of slavery. They saw in the fact that many of them were from New England, where abolition sentiment was rife, their opportunity to charge them with abolition sentiments and intention to interfere with slavery, with every prospect of having it quite generally believed—hence the charge was made and became a pretext if not a cause of acts of aggression upon the Saints, and as such is a factor that must be taken account of in these pages.
I know of no circumstances which developed what the political faith of the Saints really was during their sojourn in the state of Missouri; and doubt if any data exists from which it could be determined whether a majority of them were Whigs or Republican-Democrats, as the party now designated as the Democratic party was then called. In fact, politics, local or national, concerned the Saints but very little during their stay in Missouri. Their minds were occupied by quite other, and I may say, larger and higher things; and their activities were concerned with other issues than those political. They were concerned about the redemption of Zion, her establishment, the proclamation of the Gospel, the salvation of men, the preparation of the earth for the incoming of that Kingdom whose King is the Lord. Their mission encompassed the whole world, it was not confined to the state of Missouri and her petty political affairs; nor even to the political affairs of the United States, important as they were. “Mormonism” was a world-movement, not merely a national one. It concerned itself with the deeper and broader subject of religion, rather than with the principles and methods of the administration of government, state or national. Still, in common with other people of the county, state and nation of which they were citizens, they possessed civil and political rights and privileges, accompanied as such rights and privileges always are in a republic with certain duties both to the state and themselves, among which the exercise of the elective franchise. As this made them a power in the community, their actual and prospective influence in the affairs of the counties where they resided, and in the state, was a matter of frequent discussion among the old settlers in Missouri. I do not know that it was ever charged that they were Whigs, and that by acting with that party in Missouri they could wrest the control of the state from the Republican-Democratic party then in power; though that they were Whigs might have been inferred from the fact of their being chiefly from New England and other northern states; yet this was not charged. There was repeatedly expressed, however, a fear of their political power. In the document issued by the mob meeting at Independence on the 20th of July, 1833, it is said: “When we reflect on the extensive field in which the sect is operating, and that there exists in every country a leaven of superstition that embraces with avidity, notions the most extravagant and unheard of, and that whatever can be gleaned by them from the purlieus of vice and the abodes of ignorance, is to be cast like a waif into our social circle, it requires no gift of prophecy to tell that the day is not far distant when the civil government of the county will be in their hands; when the sheriff, the justices, and the county judges will be Mormons, or persons wishing to court their favor from motives of interest or ambition.”
It was an effort to prevent members of the Church from voting at an election at Gallatin, Daviess county, in August, 1838, which led to the commencement of those acts of hostility against the Saints which ended ultimately in their expulsion from that state. There was no political offense even charged against the Saints; only that if permitted to exercise the franchise they would in time obtain control of the counties where they resided, so rapidly were they increasing in numbers; and the old settlers would lose the offices; and as these old settlers were dear lovers of office, it was political jealousy born of fear which prompted in part the acts of aggression against the Saints. When such jealousy is awakened, pretexts for the justification of its existence are not difficult to find, and in this instance the old settlers in Missouri relied upon the false charges of ignorance, superstition, and general unworthiness of the Saints to be considered good citizens of the state. The charge was not that they were all of one political faith; or that they voted solidly; or that they were under the political dictation of their religious leaders; or that religious influence was dragged into political affairs. None of these charges were made: it was simply a fear that the old settlers would lose the offices, and the new settlers, the Saints, being in the majority, would hold them. How much justification there was for this “fear” may not be determined, since it was based upon no accomplished fact, but regarded as the natural outcome of the operation of the political system obtaining in the United States; namely, the right of the majority to choose the public officers; and if the Saints happened to be in the majority it was regarded as likely that they would elect their friends to office, among whom, at least, would have been some members of their own faith. How the matter would have terminated in the event of the Saints having been permitted to remain in Missouri—what would have been the political alignment of the members of the Church I mean, no one can say. The only political utterance made by any Church leader was that given out by the Prophet Joseph soon after his arrival in Missouri, and called at the time “The Political Motto of the Church.” I quote it:
“The Constitution of our country formed by the Fathers of Liberty; peace and good order in society; love to God, and good will to man. All good and wholesome laws; virtue and truth above all things, and Aristarchy [a government by good men]live for ever; but woe to tyrants, mobs, aristocracy, anarchy and toryism, and all those who invent or seek out unrighteous or evasive law suits, under the pretext and color of law or office, either religious or political. Exalt the standard of Democracy! Down with that of priestcraft, and let all the people say Amen! That the blood of the fathers may not cry from the ground against us. Sacred is the memory of that blood which bought for us our liberty.”
This surely is sufficiently non-partisan, cosmopolitan and patriotic. Is it not of the essence of Americanism? And under such sentiments would not every member of the Church be able to perform his political duty in either of the great American parties then existing or afterwards to arise?
It is not necessary to pursue this subject further. It is enough to say that the political fears of the old settlers of Missouri, though based upon conjecture as to what could or might happen, were real fears, and became one of the causes of the Missouri persecutions.
The Saints and the Indians.
The interest of the Saints in the American Indians grows out of the knowledge they have of their forefathers, revealed through the Book of Mormon. From the historical parts of that book they learned the origin of these Indians; that they are of the house of Israel: from the prophetic parts of the book they learn of their future, that it is to be glorious; that fallen as their fortunes now are, they will not always remain so; extinction is not their fate, but before many generations shall pass away they will become a white and a delightsome people, favored of God, and prominent in bringing to pass His purposes in the land of Zion—the two Americas. It was a mission to the Lamanites or Indians which first brought several of the Elders of the Church of Christ to western Missouri. When the people of Missouri learned in what esteem the Saints held the forefathers of the Indians, and also the Indians themselves, both on account of their forefathers and the promises of God to them, it was but reasonable that they should conclude there was—as indeed there is—a strong sympathy on the part of the Saints towards the Indians; and there was great reason to believe that this sympathy might become mutual.
It was in this substratum of truth that the false accusations against the Saints were founded to the effect that they were seeking to enter into an alliance with the Indian tribes of the west for the purpose of driving the old settlers from their possessions in western Missouri, in order that the Saints with the Indians might possess the land to the exclusion of the “Gentiles.”
To appreciate the seriousness of this charge, it should be remembered that the Indian tribes formerly residing east of the Mississippi, about this time—during President Jackson’s two presidential terms, 1829-1837—were being transplanted into the country immediately west of Missouri, so that there were great numbers of these people—amounting to many thousands—being massed just beyond the boundaries of the state. Many of the tribes were in no amiable mood either. In some instances the terms of the treaties by which they accepted lands in the Indian territory west of Missouri, for lands that constituted their old homes in the East and South, were forced upon them after—to them—disastrous wars; so that it might well be suspected that they would be ready to follow any leader who would hold out promise of regaining their lost possessions, or who would give them the hope of revenge upon their despoilers.
Let these facts be considered and given their due weight, and the reader will not find it difficult to perceive what a potent factor against the Saints this charge of holding communication with the Indians for the purpose of dispossessing the people of western Missouri of their homes would be; and, as in the case of the slavery question, their enemies were not slow to see the advantage, and made the most of it. It was not until the agitation for the removal of the Saints from Clay county began. however, 1836, that this charge of holding communication with the Indians for the purposes already set forth, was publicly made. Then in the document adopted at the mass meeting setting forth the several reasons of the old settlers for asking the Saints to remove from Clay county, this passage occurs:
“In addition to all this, they are charged, as they have hitherto been, with keeping up a constant communication with our Indian tribes on the frontiers; with declaring, even from the pulpit, that the Indians are a part of God’s chosen people, and are destined by heaven to inherit this land, in common with themselves. We do not vouch for the correctness of these statements; but whether they are true or false, their effect has been the same in exciting the community. In times of greater tranquility, such ridiculous remarks might well be regarded as the offspring of frenzied fanaticism; but at this time, our defenseless situation on the frontier, the bloody disasters of our fellow citizens in Florida and other parts of the South, all tend to make a portion of our citizens regard such sentiments with horror, if not alarm. These and many other causes have combined to raise a prejudice against them, and a feeling of hostility, that the first spark may, and we deeply fear will, ignite into all the horrors and desolations of a civil war, the worst evil that can befall any country.”
Governor Dunklin, shortly after this, in answer to appeals made to him by the Saints for protection, by the execution of the law, on this charge of holding communication with the Indians, said: “Your neighbors accuse your people with holding illicit communication with the Indians, and of being opposed to slavery. You deny. Whether the charge or the denial is true, I cannot tell. The fact exists, and your neighbors seem to believe it true; and whether true or false, the consequences will be the same (if your opponents are not merely gasconnading), unless you can, by your conduct and arguments, convince them of your innocence. If you cannot do this, all I can say to you is that in this Republic the vox populi is the vox Dei.”
Of course this false accusation was emphatically denied by the Saints. In a public meeting held by the members of the Church to draw up a reply to the request of the people of Clay county, that the Saints remove from that county, they said: “We deny holding any communication with the Indians, and mean to hold ourselves as ready to defend our country against their barbarous ravages as any other people. We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly.”
In a communication signed by the Prophet Joseph and several other presiding officers of the Church, and addressed to the leading men of Clay county, referring to the Indian charge, this was said: “Another charge of great magnitude is brought against our friends in the west, that of keeping up a constant communication with the Indian tribes on the frontier; with declaring, even from the pulpit, that the Indians are a part of God’s chosen people, and are destined by heaven to inherit this land, in common with themselves. We know of nothing under the present aspect of our Indian relations calculated to arouse the fears of the people of the Upper Missouri more than a combination of influences of this nature; and we cannot look upon it as being other than one of the most subtle purposes of those whose feelings are embittered against our friends, to turn the eye of suspicion upon them from every man who is acquainted with the barbarous cruelty of rude savages. Since a rumor was afloat that the western Indians were showing signs of war, we have received frequent private letters from our friends, who have not only expressed fears for their own safety, in case the Indians should break out, but a decided determination to be among the first to repel any invasion and defend the frontier from all hostilities. We mention the last fact because it was wholly uncalled for on our part, and came previous to any excitement on the part of the people of Clay county against our friends, and must definitely show that this charge is untrue.”
But all these denials went for nothing. As remarked by Governor Dunklin, whether the denial or the charge was true, people at a distance, at least, might not tell; quite generally, however, the charge was believed, and helped to swell the volume of prejudice—already too great—against the Saints. Indeed, so potent a factor was this charge of holding illicit communication with the Indians, in arousing prejudice against the Saints, that it was used against them with great effect after their settlement in Utah. It was one of the charges made against them at the time the general government of the United States was induced by their enemies to send out an army to suppress a rebellion in Utah that had no existence except in the hate-frenzied minds of the detractors of the Saints.
“It is charged,” said Stephen A. Douglas in a speech at Springfield, Illinois, on the 12th of June, 1857 10—”it is charged * * * * that the Mormon government, with Brigham Young at its head, is now forming alliances with Indian tribes in Utah and adjoining territories, stimulating the Indians to acts of hostility, and organizing bands of his own followers, under the name of Danites or destroying angels, to prosecute a system of robbery and murders upon American citizens who support the authority of the United States, and denounce the infamous and disgusting practices and institutions of the Mormon government.”
The army came only to find the foregoing with other charges that had induced the general government to send it to Utah, untrue. But this is digression.
Mormon communication with the American Indians for the purpose of despoiling the Gentiles and taking possession of their lands can never be set down as one of the causes of the Missouri persecution; for such communication never took place—the charge of it was untrue. It was, however, one of a number of pretexts, and became a factor in creating public prejudice, which alone made possible the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri.
The Unwisdom of the Saints.
I come now to one of the most delicate subdivisions of this Introduction; namely, the unwisdom of the Saints. To appreciate this as a factor in the Missouri persecutions one needs to take into account not only human nature, but also human nature under the stress of religious impulse and influence. First, however, as to the facts involved.
To the Saints of those times had been given a dispensation of the Gospel—a new revelation of it. They had been blessed with the spirit of faith to receive it. To them it was made known that God had again spoken from heaven; He had again conferred divine authority upon men to act in His name—many of the brethren, the majority of the male membership of the Church in fact, held that divine authority, the priesthood of God; the terms of man’s salvation were restated; the spiritual powers and gifts of the Gospel were guaranteed anew and plenteously enjoyed by the Saints. To them was made known the truth of a new volume of scripture, the Book of Mormon. The knowledge imparted by that book was in itself, and especially to them, wonderful. From it they learned that the ancient inhabitants of the American continents, the ruins of whose civilization challenged the curiosity of men and excited their wonder, were of the house of Israel; the American Indians were their fallen descendants and, of course, also of the house of Israel and heirs to the general promises made to that people, to say nothing of special promises made to them as direct descendants of the house of the patriarch Joseph, son of Jacob. Messiah in his resurrected and glorified state had visited America and its inhabitants shortly after His resurrection at Jerusalem, and established the Christian institution,—a Christian ministry, and a Christian Church, followed by a veritable golden age of peace, prosperity, and righteousness; and although the descendants of that ancient God-favored people were now fallen from the high estate of their fathers, yet were the promises and prophecies great concerning them. God would again visit them by His grace, they should be redeemed from their ignorance and barbarism, and they should yet be important factors in establishing a “New Jerusalem,” the Zion of God on this land of America, given to the descendants of the ancient patriarch Joseph, whose descendants principally the Indians are. The Saints had been even so far favored as to have the place for the chief city of refuge and safety pointed out to them by revelation; as also the site of its temple—Independence, Missouri; and they were required by the commandments of God to bear witness to the world of these things. In view of all this—the fact that they were made at once the depository and witnesses of these great revelations, is it not likely that they would regard themselves as a people peculiarly favored of God? And is it matter of astonishment if some among them, not possessed of the soundest judgment, should run into an excess of zeal and give expression to unwise, as also to unwarranted conclusions?
Moreover, the Lord had spoken of the future glory of Zion—of the city, the location of which the Elders were to testify; also of the glory of the temple, with its future cloud by day and pillar of fire by night; of the future union of this New-World Zion with the Ancient Zion of Enoch, where the Lord will make His abode, “and for the space of a thousand years shall the earth rest;” 11 also of his covenant with them concerning Zion, both as pertaining to time and eternity, wherein He said: “I have made the earth rich; and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it; and I hold forth, and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh: and I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts. And this shall be my covenant with you, you shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children forever, while the earth shall stand, and you shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away.” 12
The Lord said again concerning Zion: “Wherefore I, the Lord, have said, gather ye out from the eastern lands, assemble yourselves together ye elders of my Church; go ye forth into the western countries, call upon the inhabitants to repent, and inasmuch as they do repent, build up churches unto me; and with one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you, and it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the Saints of the Most High God; and the glory of the Lord shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion. And it shall come to pass, among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor, must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked, Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.” 13
These promises to the Saints respecting Zion; these descriptions given to them of her future sanctified and glorified state; their connection with a work so exalted and far-reaching, was apt to fire their minds with a zeal not always tempered with wisdom. It was in vain that limitations of time and conditions were placed upon these general descriptions of the future greatness and glory of the city of God; nor could they understand that their own relationship to these great things was merely to lay the foundation of them, to locate the site of the future city and temple, and then bear witness of it to the world. Yet that their work in connection with the founding of Zion was chiefly this, is clearly to be seen in the revelations of God to them.
The immediate and triumphant establishment of Zion, though expected by many of the Saints, was nowhere contemplated in the revelations of God to the Church. That hope of immediate establishment and glorification of Zion was the result of faulty deductions from the revelations of God; but the Lord was not blind respecting the events about to take place on the land of Zion, nor did He hold out any false hope to His people had they but read His revelations aright. A few days before the first conference held by the Elders on the land of Zion, the Lord said to them through His Prophet:
“Hearken, O ye elders of my Church, and give ear to my word, and learn of me what I will concerning you, and also concerning this land unto which I have sent you: For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation comes the blessings.Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand. Remember this, which I tell you before, that you may lay it to heart, and receive that which shall follow. Behold, verily I say unto you, for this cause I have sent you that you might be obedient, and that your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come; and also that you might be honored of laying the foundation, and of bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand; * * * * and that the testimony might go forth from Zion, yea, from the mouth of the city of the heritage of God. * * * * And now, verily, I say, concerning the residue of the elders of my Church, the time has not yet come, for many years, for them to receive their inheritance in this land, except they desire it through the prayer of faith, only as it shall be appointed unto them of the Lord. For, behold, they shall push the people together from the ends of the earth.” 14
These statements, when rightly considered, dispel all notion of the immediate establishment of Zion. The Lord distinctly warns His servants against any such supposition. He predicts “tribulation” before the glory shall come. It is only after “much tribulation” that the blessings are promised. He reminds them that He has “told them before” of this, and asks them “to lay it to heart,” and gives them to understand that it will be “many years” before some of the Elders of His Church will receive their inheritance in the goodly land.
The Lord still further foreshadowed the trouble which afterwards overtook His people by urging them to make arrangements for the purchase of the whole region that had been designated as the center place of Zion. “For, behold, verily I say unto you, the Lord willeth that the disciples, and the children of men should open their hearts, even to purchase this whole region of country, as soon as time will permit. Behold, here is wisdom. Let them do this lest they receive none inheritance, save it be by the shedding of blood.” 15
In this same month of August the Lord again said: “Behold, the land of Zion, I, the Lord, hold it in mine own hands; nevertheless, I, the Lord, render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s: wherefore, I, the Lord, will that you should purchase the lands that you may have advantage of the world, that you may have claim on the world, that they may not be stirred up unto anger; for Satan putteth it into their hearts to anger against you, and to the shedding of blood; 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 ye shall be scourged from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue, and but few shall stand to receive an inheritance.” 16
About a month after this word, the Lord said: “Behold the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days; and the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion, and shall be sent away, and shall not inherit the land; for, verily, I say that the rebellious are not of the blood of Ephraim, wherefore they shall be plucked out.” 17
All this makes it very clear that while great things were promised concerning the establishment of Zion and the glory that is to be hers, yet all was predicated upon the faithfulness of the Saints in keeping the commandments of the Lord—in purchasing the lands that constituted the center place of Zion, and living upon them in all righteousness.
This they failed to do. In A revelation given in November, 1831, a few months after the land had been dedicated unto the Lord for the gathering of His people, He thus complained of those who had assembled in western Missouri:
“And the inhabitants of Zion shall also observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy. And the inhabitants of Zion also shall remember their labors, inasmuch as they are appointed to labor, in all faithfulness; for the idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord. Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness. These things ought not to be, and must be done away from among them: wherefore let my servant, Oliver Cowdery carry these sayings unto the land of Zion. And a commandment I give unto them, that he that observeth not his prayers before the Lord in the season thereof, let him be had in remembrance before the judge of my people. These sayings are true and faithful; wherefore transgress them not, neither take therefrom.” 18
In addition to these evils there were jealousies and bickerings among some of the brethren in Zion, and also between some of the Elders in Zion, and leading Elders in Kirtland. In the spring of 1832 the Prophet visited the Saints in Jackson county, and there were reconciliations among the brethren, and forgiveness of sins obtained from the Lord; 19 but shortly after the Prophet’s departure for Kirtland these ill feelings broke out again with renewed bitterness; carelessness as to keeping the commandments of God characterized the conduct of the Saints in Zion, and there arose some confusion also in the government of the Church there, owing to conflicting claims of authority between traveling Elders and the standing ministry in the branches of the Church. This led to the following reproof from the Lord in a revelation given on the 22nd and 23rd of September, 1832:
“And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole Church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all: and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon, and the former commandments which I have given them, 20 not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written, that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom, otherwise there remaineth a scourge and a judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion: for shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay.”
When this revelation, given early in January, 1833, was sent to the Elders in Zion, it was accompanied also by a letter from the Prophet, sharply reproving the brethren and Saints in Zion, in which the following passage occurs:
“Let me say unto you, seek to purify yourselves, and also the inhabitants of Zion, lest the Lord’s anger be kindled to fierceness. Repent, repent, it is the voice of God to Zion; and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their character past being redeemed, and that which is treasured up in their hearts be exposed to the gaze of mankind. I say to you (and what I say to you, I say to all), hear the warning voice of God, lest Zion fall, and the Lord swear in His wrath, ‘The inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into my rest.‘” 21
Hyrum Smith and Orson Hyde were appointed by a Council of the High Priests in Kirtland at this time, to write a letter of reproof and warning to the brethren in Zion. In this communication the conduct of the Saints in Zion was reviewed in great plainness. The whole spirit of the communication may be judged by the following paragraph:
“We feel more like weeping over Zion than rejoicing over her, for we know that the judgments of God hang over her, and will fall upon her except she repent, and purify herself before the Lord, and put away from her every foul spirit. We now say to Zion, this once, in the name of the Lord, Repent! repent! awake! awake! put on thy beautiful garments, before you are made to feel the chastening rod of Him whose anger is kindled against you. Let not Satan tempt you to think we want to make you bow to us, to domineer over you, for God knows this is not the case; our eyes are watered with tears, and our hearts are poured out to God in prayer for you, that He will spare you, and turn away His anger from you. * * * Therefore, with the feelings of inexpressible anxiety for your welfare, we say again, Repent, repent, or Zion must suffer, for the scourge and judgment must come upon her.” 22
All this reproof and warning, however, only produced a partial repentance, and in July following acts of violence began to be perpetrated upon the Saints by the old settlers of Missouri, and in the month of November, under circumstances of great cruelty, all the Saints were driven from Jackson county, and later more than two hundred of their homes, together with their public improvements, were destroyed.
When the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph why this affliction had befallen the people, He said: “Verily I say unto you concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of their inheritance, I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions; yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels. Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son; for all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified. Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore, by these things they polluted their inheritances. They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God, therefore the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble. In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me. Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding their sins my bowels are filled with compassion towards them; I will not utterly cast them off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy. 23
From this it is very clear that the reason why the Saints were prevailed against by their enemies and driven from the center place of Zion, was because of their failure to live up to the high requirements made of them by the Lord. In subsequent efforts to redeem Zion, by attempting to return the exiles to Jackson county, the Saints in all parts of the land again failed to respond with sufficient promptness and fullness to the requirements of the Lord, for He commanded them again to consecrate money to purchase lands in Jackson county and in the counties round about, saying to the Church: “There is even now already in store a sufficient, yea even abundance, to redeem Zion, and establish her waste places, no more to be thrown down, were the churches who call themselves after my name willing to hearken to my voice.” 24
The Lord also commanded them to gather up their forces and to go in sufficient strength to possess the land, and maintain their inheritance against their enemies. This, however, they failed to do. Instead of raising five hundred men, as they were commanded to do, 25 they started from Kirtland in “Zion’s Camp” with a company of only about one hundred and thirty men,and twenty baggage wagons. This number was increased by additions en route to one hundred and eighty-two men, but even this number fell far short of the strength required to accomplish the purpose for which the camp was organized. In the matter of raising money for the purchase of lands the failure was more conspicuous than in raising men to take possession of them, and hence this effort to redeem Zion failed.
Here let me pause in pointing out the unwisdom of the Saints, to make an explanation, lest there should be a misunderstanding of what is thus far set down respecting their transgressions, by reason of which they were prevailed against by their enemies. These transgressions, be it understood, were no violations of the laws of the land, nor did they consist in any acts of aggression or of trespass upon their Missouri neighbors. The old settlers of Missouri themselves are our witnesses here; for in all their procedure in this Jackson county persecution there is no accusation made against the Saints of violations of the law. On the contrary, in their public utterances against the Saints and in justification of their own course, the old settlers declare—after expressing their determination to rid their society of the Saints, peacefully if they could, but forcibly if they must—“that the arm of the civil law does not afford us a guarantee, or at least a sufficient one, against the evils which are now inflicted upon us, and seem to be increasing by the said religious sect.” 26 A more emphatic acknowledgment that the alleged offenses of the Saints were not cognizable by the laws, that the Saints had not violated the laws of the land, could not be made.
In their second manifesto the mob said: “The evil is one that no one could have foreseen, and is therefore unprovided for by the laws; and the delays incident to legislation would put the mischief beyond remedy.” 27 Another admission that amounts to a declaration, that the Saints, whatever the nature of the complaints made against them were, had not violated any of the laws of the state, that their offending was not cognizable by the laws of the land.
The transgressions and sinfulness referred to in the revelations and letters of reproof and warning quoted, and for which transgressions the Saints were left in the hands of their enemies, were sins against each other and the Lord—unbelief in the word of God, hardness of heart towards each other, rejection of the servants of God, fault-finding, bickerings, jealousies, covetousness, pride, idleness, boastfulness, levity of thought and conduct, disregard of the scriptures, especially of the Book of Mormon, neglecting to instruct their children in sacred things and to bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord; all of which were displeasing to the Lord, contrary to His commandments, and a violation of the conditions upon which He had promised to redeem Zion and preserve His people from their enemies. “Ye call upon my name for revelations;” said the Lord to the Elders in Zion, “and I give them unto you; and inasmuch as ye keep not my sayings, which I give unto you, ye become transgressors, and justice and judgment are the penalty which is affixed to my law. * * * I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” 28
This, then, was the nature of their offenses; they sinned against the Lord in the particulars named; they sinned against each other in the manner described; they did not trespass against their non-Mormon neighbors, nor break the laws of the land; but they failed to live in accordance with the high moral and spiritual law of the Gospel; they failed to meet the conditions on which God was pledged to their maintenance upon the land of Zion, and hence were left in the hands of their enemies.
At the commencement of this subdivision of the Introduction I called attention to the great things which God had revealed to the Saints, the greatness of the dispensation committed unto them, accompanied by the promise to establish Zion and give unto the Saints the land thereof as an everlasting inheritance. It would be marvelous indeed, and past all human experience, if these great things did not turn the heads of some of the weak-minded, and make them vain-glorious and boastful. I doubt not for a moment that many vain and foolish things were said by such characters in the presence of, and perhaps directly to, the old settlers of Jackson county, about the Saints taking possession of the land, and the wicked being driven away. There was doubtless enough of this kind of talk to give color to what the Missourians charged on this, viz., “They [the Saints] declare openly that their God hath given them this county of land, and that sooner or later they must and will take possession of our lands for an inheritance.”
The Missourians made much of, and attached a sinister meaning to the following expression in one of the revelations to the Saints: “The land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood, otherwise there is none inheritance for you.” 29 This the Missourians pretended to regard as a threat to take possession of their land by armed conquest. Had they read the context of the passage they would have known how entirely groundless were their fears, if indeed they had any fears, for I am convinced that all their expressed apprehensions on this head were mere pretense. The passage and its context are: “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 ye shall be scourged from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue and but few shall stand to receive an inheritance.” 30
Clearly this is a warning to the Saints, not a threat to the Missourians. If the Saints obtained the land by purchase they were blessed. If by blood—since the Saints were forbidden to shed blood, lo their enemies would be upon them and they would be driven from city to city—not the Missourians, but the Saints. In consequence of the agitation of this matter by the foolish, the following passage occurred in The Evening and Morning Star for July, 1833, addressed to the churches scattered abroad: “To suppose that we can come up here and take possession of this land by the shedding of blood, would be setting at nought the law of the glorious Gospel, and also the word of our great Redeemer. And to suppose that we can take possession of this country without making regular purchases of the same according to the laws of our nation, would be reproaching this great Republic, in which the most of us were born, and under whose auspices we all have protection.” 31
Of this the Missourians said that whether they were to be dispossessed of their lands “by the hand of the destroying angel, the judgments of God, or the arm of power, they [the Saints] are not fully agreed among themselves. Some recent remarks in the Evening and Morning Star, their organ in this place, by their tendency to moderate such hopes, and repress such desires, show plainly that many of this deluded and infatuated people have been taught to believe that our lands were to be won from us by the sword!” 32
Thus the very efforts of the Church to correct the misconceptions and silence the utterances of the over-zealous and foolish members, were made to contribute as proof that the Saints contemplated the very armed conquest of the land which they disclaimed. History, however, will do the Saints justice, and it will say, and now says, that neither their general principles, nor the special commandments under which they moved into the land of Zion, nor any act of theirs warranted the least suspicion that they at any time contemplated taking possession of the land by force, or in any other manner whatsoever except by purchase and possession under the laws of the state of Missouri and the United States. And while history will do them this justice it will at the same time say that the “fears” of the Missourians on this head were simulated; that to the foolish boasts of a few ignorant persons they attached an undue importance because it happened to give a coloring to their pretended fears in the eyes of those at a distance who had no opportunity to learn the truth, and tended to prejudice the public mind against the Saints, and thus served the purpose of their enemies.
In like manner there may have been some talk among the same class of people—the ignorant and over-zealous Church members—respecting the Indians, and their future union with the Saints in redeeming the land of Zion; a circumstance which led the good people of Clay county and Governor Dunklin, to refer to the charge of the Saints holding illicit communication with the Indians, designing to employ them in taking possession of the land of Zion. Of this charge also history will and does vindicate the Saints. It will, and does say, that they disclaimed holding any such communication; that neither their general principles nor any special commandment from God, and particularly that no action of theirs warranted any suspicion on the subject, much less justified the charge of such a diabolical purpose.
After the Saints withdrew from Clay county and at the suggestion of her citizens—including some of the most influential men in western Missouri, some of whom afterwards attained national reputations—located in the sparsely settled counties of Caldwell and Daviess, the situation became somewhat changed. For two years the work of purchasing lands, locating settlements, opening farms, establishing mercantile houses, and preparing for manufacturing and commercial enterprises went steadily on. In Caldwell and adjoining counties, by the autumn of 1838, the Saints had opened two thousand farms, and paid to the general government three hundred and eighteen thousand dollars for land, which at the minimum price for government land would give them over two hundred and fifty thousand acres. 33 One hundred and fifty houses had been erected in Far West; there were four dry goods stores, three family groceries, half a dozen blacksmith’s shops, and two hotels. 34 The excavation for a temple 120 by 80 feet had been made, and a large commodious schoolhouse had been erected on the public square. 35 The town of Adam-Ondi-Ahman was also making rapid progress.
By this time the Prophet Joseph and other leading men of the Church had left Kirtland and located with the Saints in Missouri, and everything looked propitious for the permanent establishment of the Saints in the borders of Zion. The Saints had now been driven bodily from Jackson county; and their homes, store houses and printing establishment had been destroyed. The courts of Missouri had proven powerless to restore to them their homes, their lands and other property. The executive of the state confessed himself powerless to return them to their possessions in Jackson county, and maintain them there against the wishes of the people of that county. Indeed, Governor Dunklin had weakly given up the vindication of the outraged laws of the state, as we have seen, saying that whether the charges of their enemies or the denials by the Saints were true he could not tell; their neighbors seemed to believe them true, and whether true or false the consequences would be the same, unless the Saints by their conduct and argument could convince the Missourians of their innocence. “If you cannot do this,” said the governor, “all I can say to you is that in this Republic the vox populi is the vox Dei!” The Saints at some considerable sacrifice had withdrawn from Clay county at the request of her citizens, in the interests of peace, and had settled in the new counties of Caldwell and Daviess, where settlers were few and the country less desirable than in Jackson and Clay counties. In doing these things they had repeatedly sacrificed their rights as citizens, both of Missouri and of the United States. Smitten on the one cheek—speaking figuratively—they had turned the other; sued at the law for their coat, they had given their cloak also; compelled to go one mile with their enemy, they had gone with him twain. After doing all this for the sake of peace and the friendship of the Missourians, when the Saints saw forming again those elements which threatened their peace; when old enemies appeared upon the new scene of the Saints’ activities, and openly threatened their peace and boasted that they would again prosper by despoiling them of their new possessions; when they saw the red right hand of a relentless persecution arming again to plague them, it is small wonder if righteous anger flushed their cheek, made bright their eyes with indignation and led them instinctively to form the resolution that they would submit no more to such acts of despoliation, injustice and outrage.
It was this sense of outraged justice and humanity which led to the deliverance of a very noted “Oration” by Sidney Rigdon at Far West, on the Fourth of July, 1838, in the course of which there was expressed a strong determination to no more submit quietly to mob violence, and acts of pillage. At this distance of time from that occasion, and balancing against the heated utterances of the speaker the subsequent uses made of them to incite the public mind to that series of acts which culminated in the expulsion of the Saints from the state, we say those utterances were untimely, extreme, and unwise. So indeed they were. The speaker seems to have thrown discretion to the winds, and in the fervor of his rhetoric made threats of retaliation on behalf of the Saints, if assailed, that went beyond all bounds of reason and humanity, and proved a very damaging as also a very potent factor against the Saints in the subsequent movements of their enemies against them.
But while this oratorical outburst against injustice was unwise, it was a very natural thing. The marvel is not that it came at the time it did, but that it did not come earlier, more vehemently, and that some of the things it threatened were not effectively carried out. What the Prophet thought, and how he felt respecting the repeated acts of injustice heaped upon himself and the Saints in Missouri; how he felt and what he proposed for the future is made clear in his journal entry for September 1st, 1838; and, fortunately, is more temperately expressed than in the oration of July the fourth. He said:
“There is great excitement at present among the Missourians, who are seeking if possible an occasion against us. They are continually chafing us, and provoking us to anger if possible, one sign of threatening after another, but we do not fear them, for the Lord God, the Eternal Father is our God, and Jesus the Mediator is our Savior, and in the great I Am is our strength and confidence.
“We have been driven time after time, and that without cause; and smitten again and again, and that without provocation; until we have proved the world with kindness, and the world has proved us, that we have no designs against any man or set of men, that we injure no man, that we are peaceable with all men, minding our own business, and our business only. We have suffered our rights and our liberties to be taken from us; we have not avenged ourselves of those wrongs; we have appealed to magistrates, to sheriffs, to judges, to government and to the President of the United States, all in vain; yet we have yielded peaceably to all these things. We have not complained at the great God, we murmured not, but peaceably left all, and retired into the back country, in the broad and wild prairies, in the barren and desolate plains, and there commenced anew; we made the desolate places to bud and blossom as the rose; and now the fiend-like race is disposed to give us no rest. Their father the devil, is hourly calling upon them to be up and doing, and they, like willing and obedient children, need not the second admonition; but in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, we will endure it no longer, if the great God will arm us with courage, with strength and with power, to resist them in their persecutions. We will not act on the offensive, but always on the defensive; our rights and our liberties shall not be taken from us, and we peaceably submit to it as we have done heretofore, but we will avenge ourselves of our enemies, inasmuch as they will not let us alone.”
No one can marvel at the conclusion here arrived at if he will but pay attention to and give due weight to the enumerated wrongs which precede it. It would be asking the Saints to be more than human if we say they ought not to have indulged, much less to have expressed, such feelings of resentment.
Meantime, however, we may not close our eyes to the fact that there was unwisdom manifested on the part of a few of the Saints, which gave advantage to their enemies, by affording pretexts for some of their accusations. That unwisdom, as we have seen, consisted of boasting as to what the Lord would do in the immediate future in giving them possession of western Missouri as an inheritance; perhaps some unwise allusions to the supposed part the Lamanites would take in the establishment and redemption of Zion; and the vehement threats of retaliation in the event of their being further assailed. These unwise utterances, however, were made, for the most part, by the overzealous and ignorant. Men who had no grasp of the real genius of the great work whose foundations were then being laid; men who, in common with men of like nature in all ages and in all great movements, have been trouble-breeders; who, in their contemplation of ultimate results to be achieved, overleaped the intervening space through which the movement must pass, the difficulties it must encounter and overcome, the experiences its adherents must gain, the great and varied labors they must perform. They seem not to understand that great movements require time for the achievement of their ends; that time with God is one thing, with man quite another thing; that the thing which is “nigh at hand” with the Lord may be to men afar off; and overlooking these important facts leads such men into many errors of thought and action. It was wholly reprehensible, unwarranted, and cowardly, however, on the part of the Missourians to take advantage of the unwise utterances of such characters and charge their sentiments and folly to the whole body religious, that never entertained such sentiments nor contemplated the actions such sentiments suggest. And this is to be said even of those who were unwise enough to give the advantage here noted to the enemies of the Saints, they at no time or place were ever guilty of attempting in any manner to carry into effect by any action of their own the unwise and unwarranted opinions they entertained and expressed. Their boastings and vain speculations were in relation to what the Lord was going to do, not what they themselves purposed doing. These utterances were merely the effervescence of overwrought minds, of overzealous, foolish, but well meaning and harmless people. Unhappily, however, what they said gave the enemy an advantage that he was not slow to avail himself of, and the unwisdom of some of the Saints is a factor that must be reckoned with in dealing with the causes of the persecutions of the Saints in Missouri.
The Real Cause of the Missouri Persecutions.
Having considered those facts and circumstances which may be regarded as the minor causes and pretexts of the Missouri persecutions, let us now come to the heart of the matter, to the real cause of the persecution of the Saints.
It was against the Saints as a religious sect that the Missourians first complained. It was “in consequence of a pretended religious sect of people” that had settled, and was still settling in their country, “styling themselves Mormons,” that led the Missourians of Jackson county to pretend to believe that an important crisis regarding their civil society was at hand. “It is more than two years,” they said, “since the first of these fanatics, or knaves (for one or other they undoubtedly are), made their first appearance amongst us, and pretended as they did, and do now, to hold personal communication and converse face to face with the Most High; to receive communications and revelations direct from heaven; to heal the sick by laying on hands; and, in short, to perform all the wonder-working miracles wrought by the inspired apostles and prophets of old. We believed them deluded fanatics, or weak and designing knaves, and that they and their pretensions would soon pass away; but in this we were deceived. * * * They openly blaspheme the Most High God, and cast contempt on His holy religion, by pretending to receive revelations direct from heaven, by pretending to speak unknown tongues by direct inspiration, and by divers pretenses derogatory to God and religion, and to the utter subversion of human reason.” 36
The foregoing is quoted from the first “Manifesto,” or “Secret Constitution” of the mob. Somewhat later, in a second manifesto issued to the public in justification of their contemplated acts of violence against the Saints, they say: “What would be the fate of our lives and property, in the hands of jurors and witnesses, who do not blush to declare, and would not upon occasion hesitate to swear, that they have wrought miracles, and have been the subjects of miraculous and supernatural cures, have conversed with God and His angels, and possess and exercise the gifts of divination and of unknown tongues, and fired with the prospect of obtaining inheritances without money and without price—may be better imagined than described. * * * Of their pretended revelations from heaven—their personal intercourse with God and His angels—the maladies they pretend to heal by the laying on of hands—and the contemptible gibberish with which they habitually profane the Sabbath, and which they dignify with the appellation of unknown tongues, we have nothing to say: vengeance belongs to God alone.” 37
Yet it was because the Saints entertained these religious beliefs that the mob of Jackson county issuing this “manifesto,” proceeded to take “vengeance” into their own hands, and wreak it upon the Saints. All their other accusations against them,—namely, idleness, ignorance, inviting “free negroes” into the state, inciting the slaves to insubordination to their masters, claiming Jackson county as their inheritance to be obtained by force if not bloodshed, and poverty—all these charges, except, perhaps the last (for some of the Saints were very poor, though I have yet to learn that that is a crime), were absolutely untrue. The Saints, however, did claim the existence of spiritual power in their religion; that the channel of communication between God and men by means of revelation, the visitation of angels, and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, had been opened anew; that gifts of the Gospel—tongues, interpretations, visions, inspired dreams, healings—that all the spiritual powers and graces of the Gospel, in fact, were manifested in the religion they had accepted. By this religion, also, they were admonished to righteousness of life; to the strict observance of the Sabbath; to respect for the name of Deity; to temperance; to industry; to true speaking and true acting; to patience—in a word, to godliness; all of which but to live was to place themselves in marked contrast to those about them, and their righteous lives were a great rebuke to the general dissolute conduct of the Missourians. It was this effort at a godly walk and conversation, and the religion which commanded it, that was offensive in the eyes of the Missourians, and which led them to form their strong determination to be rid of a people and a religion which made their own lives a reproach.
That this was regarded as the chief, if not the sole cause of their persecution, appears in the subsequent discussion of the Jackson county difficulties, both pro et con. All other questions, all the minor causes and pretexts were lost sight of in that discussion. Governor Dunklin, in a communication to Colonel J. Thornton, in answer to a letter written by that gentleman proposing a compromise between the Saints and their enemies in Jackson county, recognizes what he calls “the eccentricity of the religious opinions of the Mormons” as being the cause of their persecution. “I am fully persuaded,” he remarks, “that the eccentricity of the religious opinions and practices of the Mormons is at the bottom of the outrages committed against them.”
In this important communication he no where considers anything else as the cause of their persecution, but argues at length in favor of their right to the entertainment of their religious views, eccentric howsoever they might be, so long as they did not interfere with the rights of others. “They have the right constitutionally guaranteed to them,” he remarks, “and it is indefeasible, to worship Joe Smith as a man, an angel, or even as the only true and living God, and to call their habitation Zion, the Holy Land, or even heaven itself. Indeed, there is nothing so absurd or ridiculous that they have not a right to adopt as their religion, so that in its exercise they do not interfere with the rights of others.” 38
The people of Clay county when they called upon the Saints to peaceably remove from their borders and seek a locality where they could form a community that should be largely, if not exclusively, made up of their own Church membership, indicated very clearly that it was the religion of the Saints that was the chief cause of complaint against them. In a document they published setting forth the reasons why they suggested such removal, they said; “The religious tenets of this people are so different from the present churches of the age, that they always have, and always will, excite deep prejudices against them in any populous country where they may locate. We, therefore, in a spirit of frank and friendly kindness, do advise them to seek a home where they may obtain large and separate bodies of land, and have a community of their own.” 39
Again, after the surrender at Far West, when the Church leaders had been betrayed into bondage; after the Saints had delivered up their arms; after they had signed over their properties to defray the expenses of the “war;” and when the whole body of the Church was making hasty preparations to depart from the state, a number of the brethren were assembled on the temple square at Far West, and in the course of a long speech, which he read 40 to them, General John B. Clark said:
“I am sorry, gentlemen, to see so great a number of apparently intelligent men found in the situation you are; and oh! that I could invoke that Great Spirit, the Unknown God, to rest upon you, and make you sufficiently intelligent to break that chain of superstition, and liberate you from those fetters of fanaticism with which you are bound—that you no longer worship a man! I would advise you to scatter abroad, and never again organize yourselves with Bishops, Presidents, etc., lest you excite the jealousies of the people, and subject yourselves to the same calamities that have now come upon you.”
This to a people whose leaders had been betrayed into the hands of their enemies; who themselves had been disarmed, though acting only in defense of their homes and families; who had been compelled at the muzzle of the musket to sign away their property to defray the expenses of the militia mobs that had brought their calamities upon them; who were then under an order of expulsion from the state and making hurried preparations for their enforced departure—this to men who had sacrificed or had been robbed of the most sacred rights of American citizenship! And he who thus addressed the brethren impudently told them in the very speech from which I quote, that he approved of all that had been done to them! But the foregoing quotation is not made in order to point out the mockery of the speech; or the mixture of hypocrisy and blasphemy in it; or the utter contemptibility of him who delivered it. I quote the passage merely to point out the fact that it was hatred of their alleged “superstition” and “fanaticism,” in other words the religion of the Saints that was the cause of their persecution. The crimes against which the Saints are warned for the future—under penalty of having their present troubles revisited upon them—is gathering together in large bodies, and organizing themselves with Bishops, Presidents, etc. In other words it was the religion of the people and the organization which was both the depository of its doctrines, and the instrumentality by which they were promulgated—the Church—which was the object of the Missourians’ animosity, the thing they were determined to destroy.
Later, when the Prophet Joseph and other leading brethren were under examination before Judge Austin A. King at Richmond, Ray county, special inquiry was made as to the belief of the witnesses in the declaration of the Prophet Daniel: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” 41
The judge on being answered that the Saints believed the prophecy, turned to the clerk and told him to write the answer down as it was “a strong point for treason!” 42 I call it another evidence that it was the religious beliefs of the Saints that constituted their offense. True the Prophet and several other brethren were technically held for trial on the charge of “treason, murder, arson, burglary, robbery, larceny and perjury,” but no one in Missouri ever seriously believed the charges since they were wholly untrue or grew out of those acts of self defense, and defense of their families against the aggressions of mob violence—a course which all men have a right to take in the protection of their own lives and the preservation of their homes from the hand of the despoiler.
The meeting of discordant elements of society—New England people and people from the Southern States, descendants of Puritans and descendants of Cavaliers—may have been a cause of dislike, and, on the part of the Missourians, a cause of irritation against the Saints; the suspected existence of anti-slavery sentiments among the Saints may have been to the Missourians a cause of distrust; the interest of the Saints in the Indians and the beliefs of the former in the future rehabilitation of the latter as a people favored of God, may have been, under all the circumstances, a cause of uneasiness to the Missourians; and the desire to plunder the Saints and to profit by dispossessing them of their lands and homes might have been, and doubtless was, an incentive to many of the mob who participated in the events which culminated in the expulsion of the Saints from the state; but, at bottom, I repeat, it was the destruction of the religion of the Saints, and of the organization that taught its doctrines, and controlled its membership in ecclesiastical affairs, that were the objectives of all that agitation, violence and injustice, which make up the persecution of the Latter-day Saints in Missouri. But how shall the truth of this be established beyond reasonable doubt? Listen:—
The author of the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” gives the following pen-picture of conditions with reference to religious toleration which obtained in the empire under the reign of the Antonines, Adrian and Marcus Aurelius, second century, A. D. “The firm edifice of Roman power was raised and preserved by the wisdom of ages. The obedient provinces of Trajan and the Antonines were united by laws, and adorned by arts. They might occasionally suffer from the partial abuse of delegated authority; but the general principle of government was wise, simple, and beneficent. They enjoyed the religion of their ancestors, whilst in civil honors and advantages they were exalted, by just degrees, to an equality with their conquerors. The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the enlightened, and the habits of the superstitious, part of their subjects. The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord. The superstition of the people was not embittered by any mixture of theological rancor; nor was it confined by the chains of any speculative system. The devout polytheist, though fondly attached to his national rites, admitted with implicit faith the different religions of the earth. Fear, gratitude, and curiosity, a dream or an omen, a singular disorder, or a distant journey, perpetually disposed him to multiply the articles of his belief, and to enlarge the list of his protectors. The thin texture of the Pagan mythology was interwoven with various but not discordant materials. As soon as it was allowed that sages and heroes, who had lived or who had died for the benefit of their country, were exalted to a state of power and immortality, it was universally confessed that they deserved, if not the adoration, at least the reverence, of all mankind. The deities of a thousand groves and a thousand streams possessed in peace their local and respective influence: nor could the Roman who deprecated the wrath of the Tiber, deride the Egyptian who presented his offering to the beneficent genius of the Nile. The visible powers of nature, the planets, and the elements, were the same throughout the universe. The invisible governors of the moral world were inevitably cast in a similar mould of fiction and allegory. Every virtue, and even vice, acquired its divine representative; every art and profession its patron, whose attributes, in the most distant ages and countries, were uniformly derived from the character of their peculiar votaries. A republic of gods of such opposite tempers and interests required, in every system, the moderating hand of a supreme magistrate, who, by the progress of knowledge and flattery, was gradually invested with the sublime perfections of an eternal parent, and an omnipotent monarch. Such was the mild spirit of antiquity, that the nations were less attentive to the difference, than to the resemblance, of their religious worship. The Greek, the Roman, and the Barbarian, as they met before their respective altars, easily persuaded themselves, that under various names, and with various ceremonies, they adored the same deities. * * * * Rome, the capital of a great monarchy, was incessantly filled with subjects and strangers from every part of the world, who all introduced and enjoyed the favorite superstitions of their native country. Every city in the empire was justified in maintaining the purity of its ancient ceremonies; and the Roman senate, using the common privilege, sometimes interposed to check this inundation of foreign rites. The Egyptian superstition, of all the most contemptible and abject, was frequently prohibited; the temples of Serapis and Isis demolished, and their worshipers banished from Rome and Italy. But the zeal of fanaticism prevailed over the cold and feeble efforts of policy. The exiles returned, the proselytes multiplied, the temples were restored with increasing splendor, and Isis and Serapis at length assumed their place among the Roman deities. * * * * Rome gradually became the common temple of her subjects; and the freedom of the city was bestowed on all the gods of mankind.” 43
Some Christian editors of Gibbon’s great work, in their annotations, hold that the author of the “Decline and Fall” gives in the foregoing a too favorable view of pagan-religious toleration; but after giving due weight to the instances of intolerance they cite in evidence of their contention, and viewing them in connection with the extent of the empire and the period of time covered by Gibbon’s description, I do not regard them as of sufficient importance to warrant any change in the representation made by our author of conditions as to religious toleration in the Roman empire at the time of which he writes. Especially, since Gibbon himself in a foot note admits that “some obscure traces of an intolerant spirit appears in the conduct of the Egyptians,” the case chiefly relied upon by his critics to disprove his description of universal religious toleration in the empire; and in the same note he refers to the Christians and the Jews as forming an important exception; so important an exception indeed that he promises, and subsequently gives, a distinct chapter to the discussion of the subject. 44
It is to Christianity as the chief exception to the Roman policy of universal religious toleration that I wish now to direct attention. Let it be borne in mind that the spirit of universal religious toleration within the Roman empire claimed for the second century of our era, largely obtained also in the first century. It was in this reign of universal religious toleration that the Christian religion was brought forth and developed. Christ was born in the eighteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, in the Roman province of Palestine, in which, also, His personal labors as religious teacher and reformer were chiefly confined. In the villages of Galilee, and subsequently in Samaria and Judea and in the ancient city of Jerusalem, He went about doing good; speaking words of encouragement to the oppressed and the poor; healing the sick; opening the eyes of the blind; cleansing the lepers; teaching, as no one ever taught before, the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of men, and proclaiming Himself the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world. He gathered about Him a few devout followers, and from their number be established a priesthood and organized a Church to perpetuate the gentle doctrines He Himself taught. Strangely enough, notwithstanding the beauty and purity of His moral precepts, and the gentleness of His own deportment, proclamation of His doctrines everywhere incited hostility. The people of the village in which He was reared rejected Him. His own people, the Jews, were so hostile that they at last clamored for His execution; and so deep was their hatred that they were willing that responsibility for the shedding of His blood should be upon their heads and upon the heads of their children after them, if only the Roman authorities would sanction His execution! He was finally crucified amid the rejoicings of His enemies.
After His resurrection He appeared among His disciples and commissioned them to evangelize the world. As they went about this work they encountered the same spirit of opposition that had met their Master. Whippings, imprisonment, and martyrdom confronted them on every hand, and when they extended their labors beyond the borders of Palestine, notwithstanding the general religious tolerance that obtained in the Roman empire, the Christians were everywhere spoken against, and their ministers everywhere opposed and persecuted.
Passing by the persecutions inflicted upon the Christians by the Jews—the whipping of Peter and John, under the order of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the martyrdom of Stephen, the execution of Saint James, the repeated mobbing and whippings of Paul—I call attention to the first great pagan persecution under the cruel edict of the Emperor Nero, in the second half of the first Christian century. The emperor having set on fire the city of Rome in order that he might view a great conflagration, and wishing to divert suspicion from himself, he first accused and then tried to compel the Christians to confess the crime. At this point I summon Tacitus, the renowned Roman annalist, to tell the remainder of the story:
“With this view he inflicted the most exquisite tortures on those men who, under the vulgar appellation of Christians, were already branded with deserved infamy. They derived their name and origin from Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate. For awhile this dire superstition was checked, but it again burst forth, and not only spread itself over Judea, the first seat of this mischievous sect, but was even introduced into Rome, the common asylum, which receives and protects whatever is impure, whatever is atrocious. The confessions of those that were seized discovered a great multitude of their accomplices, and they were all convicted not so much for the crime of setting fire to the city, as for their hatred of human kind. They died in torments, and their torments were embittered by insults and derision. Some were nailed on crosses; others sewn up in the skins of wild beasts and exposed to the fury of dogs; others, again, smeared over with combustible materials, were used as torches to illuminate the darkness of the night. The gardens of Nero were destined for the melancholy spectacle, which was accompanied with a horse race, and honored with the presence of the emperor, who mingled with the populace in the dress and attitude of a charioteer. The guilt of the Christians deserved indeed the most exemplary punishments, but the public abhorrence was changed into commiseration from the opinion that those unhappy wretches were sacrificed, not so much to the public welfare as to the cruelty of a jealous tyrant.” 45
This first great persecution of the Christians under the authority of the Roman emperor, is sufficiently characteristic to describe the other persecutions which were intermittingly perpetrated upon the Christians through the two succeeding centuries. What seems to be the most incongruous circumstance connected with these persecutions is, that they occurred not only under such wretches as Nero and Domitian, but under such virtuous emperors as Trajan, Adrian, Marcus Aurelius and Diocletian. Intermittingly, then, through three troubled centuries, and under circumstances of the utmost cruelty, persecution raged against the Christians. As the highest authority on Roman history remarks: “If the empire had been afflicted by any recent calamity, by a plague, a famine, or an unsuccessful war; if the Tiber had, or the Nile had not risen above its banks; if the earth had shaken, or if the temperate order of the seasons had been interrupted, the superstitious pagans were convinced that the crimes and impurities of the Christians, who were spared by the excessive lenity of the government, had at length provoked the divine justice.” 46 And however virtuous the emperors were, or however mild and equitable in character the governors of the provinces, it is certain that they did not hesitate to appease the rage of the people by sacrificing the obnoxious Christian victims. All this at a time, too, when religious tolerance and in large measure even religious freedom were enjoyed by those of all other religions within the empire, and in fact we may say that the persecution of the Christians was the only circumstance which broke in upon the religious concord of the world. From the apologies of the early church fathers, addressed to some of the emperors of the second and third centuries, we find them making the most pathetic complaints to the effect, “that the Christians who obeyed the dictates, and solicited the liberty of conscience, were alone, among all the subjects of the Roman empire, excluded from the common benefits of their auspicious government.”
Why was this? Surely it did not arise from any vicious principle inherent in the Christian religion itself. “If we seriously consider the purity of the Christian religion,” remarks Gibbon, in the opening paragraph of his great treatise on the“Conduct of the Roman Government Toward the Christians,” “the sanctity of its moral precepts, and the innocence as well as the austere lives of the greater number of those who, during the first ages, embraced the faith of the gospel, we should naturally suppose that so benevolent a doctrine would have been received with due reverence even by the unbelieving world; that the learned and polite, however they might deride the miracles, would have esteemed the virtues of the new sect; and that the magistrates, instead of persecuting, would have protected an order of men who yielded the most passive obedience to the laws, though they declined the active cares of war and government. If, on the other hand, we recollect the universal tolerance of polytheism, as it was invariably maintained by the faith of the people, the incredulity of philosophers, and the policy of the Roman senate and emperors, we are at a loss to discover what new offense the Christians had committed, what new provocation could exasperate the mild indifference of antiquity, and what new motives could urge the Roman princes, who beheld without concern a thousand forms of religion subsisting in peace under their gentle sway, to inflict a severe punishment upon any part of their subjects who had chosen for themselves a singular but an inoffensive mode of faith and worship.” 47
What, then, I again ask, was the cause of the singular departure from the enlightened policy of the empire in granting religious toleration and even large religious freedom to its subjects? I am sure that modern Christians will scarcely be satisfied with the various causes assigned for this strange conduct on the part of the Roman emperors who persecuted the Christians. These causes, or at least the principal ones, are conceded by both infidel and Christian authorities to be:
First, the Christians were a sect and not a nation, and were open to the charge that they had deserted the faith of their forefathers, a thing inexplicable to the Roman mind. It could be claimed on the part of the Christians, of course, that this was not true; that so far were they from deserting the faith of their fathers, that their present Christian faith was but the complement of their fathers’ faith, the fulfillment alike of its prophecies and symbols—in a word, the gospel was the fulfillment of the law. This, however, was a refinement of explanation to which the haughty Romans could not be expected to give attention.
Second, the Christians condemned and abhorred the public religion of the state, so closely connected with the affairs of the government, and hence they were judged to be enemies of the state, a circumstance which made them objects of detestation to those intrusted with the administration of the laws.
Third, the Christians in their worship employed no images, nor temples, nor incense, nor sacrifices; neither did they represent their God by any corporeal figure or symbol, therefore they were adjudged to be atheists, and accordingly detested.
Fourth, the gloom and austere aspect of the Christians, and their thorough abhorrence of the common business and pleasures of life, their denunciation of war, together with their frequent predictions of impending divine judgments, caused them to be regarded as the enemies of mankind.
Fifth, the secrecy in which they conducted their religious services (a policy first born of necessity, because of the fear of their adversaries, and afterwards continued under the false notion that it would render their sacred institutions more respectable) drew upon them the suspicion that they only “concealed what they would have blushed to disclose;” and this left them open to the misrepresentation and calumny of their enemies, by which the fury of the multitude was aroused against them.
Sixth, the severe simplicity of the Christian mode of worship, employing as it did neither sacrifices nor an elaborate priesthood—excited the animosity of the pagan priests and their servitors, in exact proportion as the Christians became a menace to their occupation; for it was painfully apparent to them that if Christianity was successful there would be no need of the pagan priesthood—its occupation would be gone.
All these alleged causes for the persecution of the Christians within the Roman empire may be allowed, though some of them may be more properly regarded as pretexts for, than causes of the persecution. But back of all the assigned causes—which are at best but secondary in their nature—one may see moving a force, the primary cause of the persecution, of which the apprehensions of magistrates, the hatred of the pagan priesthood, and the clamor of the multitude were but the outward manifestations. That primary cause of the persecution of the Christians is to be found in the bitter hatred of that dark spirit who in heaven, before he fell from his high estate, was known under the splendid appellation of “The Light Bearer,” “Lucifer,” “Son of the Morning,” as high in favor as in station, before his sin of rebellion against the Father-God.48
Beyond the mere fact that he impiously did rebel in heaven against God, and that he was impelled thereto by a vaulting ambition which overleaped itself, the Hebrew scriptures give us little information concerning Lucifer. No cause for the rebellion is assigned, though evidence of the fact and reality of the rebellion is abundant. 49 In some ancient scripture revealed to Joseph Smith, however, the cause of that Lucifer-led rebellion is stated. It was immediately connected with man’s earth-life, and the means and conditions of his salvation.
In order that the reader may appreciate the force of the truth to be presented, it is necessary to remind him that the spirit of man had an existence before he dwelt in his body of flesh and bones—a self-conscious existence, in which he possessed all the faculties and attributes that the spirit or mind of man now possesses; that the time had come when the present earth-life became necessary to his continued progress; that all that would take place in that earth-life was known to God—the fall of man, the wickedness of the human race, the redemption through the atonement of a sinless sacrifice—all was known, and for all these events ample provisions were to be made; one chosen to open the series of dispensations that should make up the history of man’s earth-life; one chosen to redeem man from his fallen state. It was at this point that Lucifer came before the grand council in heaven saying: Behold—here am I, send me, I will be Thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me Thine honor. “But, behold,” said the Lord, “My Beloved Son, which was My Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto Me—Father, Thy will be done, and the glory be Thine forever. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against Me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him; and also that I should give unto him Mine own power; by the power of Mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto My voice.” 50
This discloses the reason of Lucifer’s rebellion—opposition to the plan of man’s redemption—a counter plan that involved the destruction of the agency of man. Then what?
“I beheld Satan,” says Jesus, “as lightning fall from heaven.” 51
“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” 52
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is came salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth, and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” 53
Lucifer, then, becomes a factor to be reckoned with in the persecution of the Saints. In heaven he opposed the gospel of Jesus Christ; cast out into the earth will he not oppose it there? Herein lies the real cause of the persecution of the Christians within the Roman empire. So long as the inhabitants of the earth were content with the pagan superstitions, wherein there was no power of God unto salvation; so long as they were content with conflicting pagan philosophies, wherein was no power of God unto salvation, it was a matter of indifference to Lucifer whether they worshiped Jupiter Olympus, or Isis; Apollo, or Minerva; or bowed at the philosopher’s shrine of the Unknown God—all were equally barren of saving power and left the kingdom of Lucifer undiminished in its strength and numbers; left all nations in his thraldom. But when the Christ and His apostles came preaching repentance and the coming of the kingdom of heaven; making known the origin of man and his relationship to Deity; making known the purpose of God to redeem him from his fallen state; establishing His Church as the depository of divine truth, and the instrumentality for conveying to man divine instruction—then Lucifer saw cause for alarm, for it was evident that the days of his dominion were numbered; his kingdom must decline if Christianity prevailed; his sway over the kingdoms of the earth must be broken if Christ was preached: and hence in all the bitterness of hatred, with all the strength of his cunning, with all the power of his resourcefulness, and using every instrumentality he could command—corrupted human nature over which he had influence; the apprehension of magistrates; the jealousy of pagan priesthoods—all were employed to destroy that institution wrought out in the wisdom of God to bring to pass the salvation of man; and hence the fire, the sword and the rack; the lions, the dungeons,—in a word, the pagan persecutions of the Saints of God; Lucifer and his hatred of the truth the primary cause of all, all other causes and pretexts but secondary, mere instrumentalities used by him to impede the progress of and destroy, if possible, the truth, the gospel, wherein lies the power of man’s salvation.
It is said that history repeats itself; and this in matters of religion as in other things. In the introduction to the first volume of the Church History, the paganization of Christianity was discussed at some length, and when the Lord would again prepare the way for the incoming of the last dispensation of the Gospel—the dispensation of the fullness of times—as part of that preparation, He established a great republic in the New World, the chief corner stone of whose temple of liberty was religious freedom. The Congress of the United States, by express provision of the Constitution, is prohibited from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. 54 Similar guarantees of religious freedom are provided for in the constitutions of all the states. The clause in Missouri’s constitution on the subject was as follows:
“All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no man can be compelled to erect, support or attend any place of worship, or to maintain any minister of the gospel or teacher of religion; that no human authority can control or interfere with the rights of conscience; that no person can ever be hurt, molested or restrained in his religious professions or sentiments, if he do not disturb others in their religious worship: that no person, on account of his religious opinions, can be rendered ineligible to any office of trust or profit under this state; that no preference can ever be given by law to any sect or mode of worship; and that no religious corporation can ever be established in this state.”
Under these guarantees of religious liberty, in both state and national constitutions, infidels, Jews, and all sects of the Christian religion lived in unbroken peace. In the colonial history of the country there had been some intolerance and acts of violence practiced by the sects of Christians on one another, but in the main, and especially since the establishment of the republic of the United States, under its present Constitution, there had been absolute religious freedom. But now a strange thing occurred. A youth, yet in his early teens, startled the neighborhood in which he resided with the announcement that he had received a revelation from God; a new dispensation of the Gospel of Christ had been committed to him; he is authorized to found again the very Church of Christ; men are to teach once more by divine authority; and the world is to be made ready for the incoming of the glorious kingdom, whose king shall be the resurrected, glorified Christ; and peace and truth and righteousness are to abound. Strangely enough, notwithstanding all the guarantees of religious freedom in the state and national constitutions, this proclamation is resented by the people, and those who advocate it are persecuted in various ways, until at the last, as set forth in the three volumes of the Church History now published, it culminated in the death and misery of many souls, and the final expulsion of from twelve to fifteen thousand Saints from the state of Missouri, under all the circumstances of cruelty detailed in this history.
Why is this violence done to the principle of religious freedom, a principle that is both the pride and boast of the American people? Why are constitutions and institutions violated in efforts made by the authorities of the sovereign state of Missouri to destroy this religion and this Church of Christ? What is the cause of these Missouri persecutions? In view of the principles already set forth in these pages, the primary cause of these persecutions in Missouri will not be difficult to find. In them, as in the Roman persecutions of the Christians, the cunning and power of Lucifer will be apparent. So long as only apostate forms of Christianity obtained; as long as men adhered to mere forms of godliness and denied the power thereof, so long Lucifer cared not with what devotion they clung to these lifeless forms of religion. He laughed; his kingdom was undiminished; the nations were held in his thraldom. But when the Prophet of the dispensation of the fullness of times announced his revelation; when God again stood revealed once more before a witness; when the divine plan of life and salvation was again communicated to men through an inspired prophet; when the Church of Christ in all its completeness and power was restored to the earth, then it behoved Lucifer to look to his dominions, to strengthen his forces, and to prepare for the final conflict for possession of this world; for now God had taken it in hand to complete His work of redeeming the earth, of saving men, and overthrowing Lucifer and his power so far as this earth is concerned; and hence when Joseph Smith announced his new revelation the incoming of the dispensation of the fullness of times, Lucifer with all the cunning and power at his command, and setting in motion every force—the fears and jealousies of men, misrepresentation and calumny, hatred of righteousness and truth, in a word, every force that he could summons, every pretext that he could suggest to men of evil disposed minds was employed to destroy the inauguration of that work which was to subdue his power, conquer his dominions, and render men free from his influence. Lucifer’s bitterness, then, his hatred, his cunning, his devisements were the cause of the Missouri persecutions. All else was secondary, pretext, his instrumentalities, nothing more.
But what of Missouri? Missouri, who had violated her constitution which guaranteed religious freedom to all who came within her borders! Missouri, whose officers from the Governor down entered into a wicked conspiracy, contrary to all law and righteousness, and drove the Saints from the state! Missouri, who had violated not only her own constitution by becoming a party to a religious persecution, but had also violated the spirit of our times, and outraged the civilization of the nineteenth century—what of Missouri? Did she pay any penalty for her wrong-doing? Are states such entities as may be held to an accounting for breaches of public faith and public morals—constitutional immoralities? Is there within the state a public conscience to which an appeal can be made; and in the event of the public conscience being outraged is there retribution?
I answer these questions in the affirmative; and hold that Missouri paid dearly for the violations of her guarantees of religious freedom, and her lawlessness and her cruelties practiced towards the Latter-day Saints.
I have already referred to the relationship which the state of Missouri sustained to the great question of slavery. By the political compromise which bore her name, Missouri became a “cape of slavery thrust into free territory.” Except for the state of Missouri alone, her southern boundary line was to mark the furthermost point northward beyond which slavery must not be extended into the territory of the United States. In 1854, however, the Missouri compromise was practically overthrown by the introduction into Congress of the “Kansas-Nebraska Act,” by Stephen A. Douglas, United States senator from Illinois. This act provided for the organization of two new territories from the Louisiana purchase, west of Missouri and Iowa. The act proposed that the new territories should be open to slavery, if their inhabitants desired it. This left the question of slavery in the status it occupied previous to the Missouri Compromise, and left the people in the prospective states to determine for themselves whether slavery should or should not prevail in their state. This opened again the slavery question, and there was begun that agitation which finally resulted in the great American Civil War.
As soon as it became apparent that the people of new territories were to determine for themselves the question of slavery, very naturally each party began a struggle for possession of the new territory according as its sentiments or interests dictated. The struggle began by the abolition party of the north organizing “Emigrant Aid Societies,” and sending emigrants of their own faith into Kansas. The slave holders of Missouri also sent settlers representing their faith and interests into the new territory in the hope of bringing it into the Union as a slave state. This brought on a border warfare in which the settlements of western Missouri and eastern Kansas alternately suffered from the raids and counter raids of the respective parties through some six years before the outbreak of the Civil War. As to which were the more lawless or cruel, the fanatical abolitionists or the pro-slavery party, the “jayhawkers,” as the organized bands of ruffians of the former party were called, or the “bushwhackers,” as the similarly organized bands of the pro-slavery men were called, is not a question necessary for me to discuss here. Both held the laws in contempt, and vied with each other in committing atrocities. The western counties of Missouri, where the Latter-day Saints had suffered so cruelly at the hands of people of those counties some eighteen or twenty years before, were in this border warfare laid desolate, and all the hardships the Missourians had inflicted upon the Saints were now visited upon their heads, only more abundantly.
Speaking of the situation in Missouri in 1861, the out-going Governor, Robert M. Stewart, in his address to the legislature, and referring to Missouri and her right to be heard on the slavery question, said:
“Missouri has a right to speak on this subject, because she has suffered. Bounded on three sides by free territory, her border counties have been the frequent scenes of kidnapping and violence, and this state has probably lost as much, in the last two years, in the abduction of slaves, as all the rest of the Southern States. At this moment several of the western counties are desolated, and almost depopulated, from fear of a bandit horde, who have been committing depredations—arson, theft, and foul murder—upon the adjacent border” 55
Brigadier-General Daniel M. Frost, who had been employed in repressing lawlessness in the western counties of Missouri, in reporting conditions prevailing there in November, 1860, said:
“The deserted and charred remains of once happy homes, combined with the general terror that prevailed amongst the citizens who still clung to their possessions, gave but too certain proof of the persecution to which they had all been subjected, and which they would again have to endure, with renewed violence, so soon as armed protection should be withdrawn.”* “In view of this condition of affairs,” continues the historian of Missouri I am quoting, “and in order to carry out fully Governor Stewart’s order to repel invasions and restore peace to the border, General Frost determined to leave a considerable force in the threatened district. Accordingly, a battalion of volunteers, consisting of three companies of rangers and one of artillery, was enlisted, and Lieutenant-Colonel John S. Bowen, who afterwards rose to high rank in the Confederate service, was chosen to the command.” 56
“With the organization of this force, and perhaps owing also, in some degree, to the inclemency of the season, ‘jayhawking,’ as such, came to an end, though the thing itself, during the first two or three years of the Civil War, and, in fact, as long as there was anything left on the Missouri side of the border worth taking, flourished more vigorously than ever. The old jayhawking leaders, however, now came with United States commissions in their pockets and at the head of regularly enlisted troops, in which guise they carried on a system of robbery and murder that left a good portion of the frontier south of the Missouri river as perfect a waste as Germany was at the end of the Thirty Years’ War.” 57
While this description confines the scenes of violence and rapine to the border counties south of the Missouri river,—it included Jackson county, however, which was one of the heaviest sufferers both in this border warfare and subsequently during the Civil War—still, the counties north of that stream also suffered from lawlessness and violence.
At the outbreak of the Civil War Missouri was peculiarly situated. She was surrounded on three sides by free states. The great majority of her own people were for the Union, but her government, with Clairborne Jackson as the state executive, was in sympathy with the South. As the extreme Southern States one after another seceded from the Union, Missouri was confronted with the question: What position she ought to assume in the impending conflict. The question was referred to a state convention in which appeared no secessionists. Indeed, the people of Missouri in this election by a majority of eighty thousand decided against secession. The convention, in setting forth the attitude of the state on the subject, said that Missouri’s position was, “Evidently that of a State whose interests are bound up in the maintenance of the Union, and whose kind feelings and strong sympathies are with the people of the Southern States, with whom we are connected by ties of friendship and blood. We want the peace and harmony of the country restored, and we want them with us. To go with them as they are now is to ruin ourselves without doing them any good.” 58
While this doubtless voiced the sentiment of a great majority of Missouri’s people, the government of the state and many thousands of its inhabitants sympathized with the South. The general assembly of the state authorized the raising and equipment of large military forces held subject, of course, to the orders of the governor, under the pretense of being prepared to repel invasion from any quarter whatsoever, and enable the state to maintain a neutral attitude. The governor refused to raise Missouri’s quota of four regiments under President Lincoln’s first call for seventy-five thousand men to suppress the rebellion, on the ground that these regiments were intended to form “part of the President’s army, to make war upon the people of the seceded states.” This he declared to be illegal, unconstitutional, and therefore could not be complied with. This precipitated a conflict between the state and national forces that resulted in a civil war within the state since some of her citizens sided with the general government and some with the state.
On the 20th of April, 1861, the state militia under the governor’s orders captured the Federal arsenal at Liberty, Clay county, and in the nineteen months following that event “over three hundred battles and skirmishes were fought within the limits of the state,” and it is assumed that in the last two years of the war, there were half as many more; “and it may be said of them,” continues our historian, “that they were relatively more destructive of life, as by this time the contest had degenerated into a disgraceful internecine struggle.” 59
In the fall of 1864, General Sterling Price penetrated the state at the head of twelve thousand men; captured Lexington, in Ray county, and Independence, in Jackson county, and thence made his escape into Arkansas. “In the course of this raid he marched 1,434 miles, fought forty-three battles and skirmishes, and according to his own calculation destroyed upwards of ‘ten million dollars’ worth of property,’ a fair share of which belonged to his own friends.” 60
In August, 1863, the celebrated Military Order No. 11 was issued from Kansas City, by General Thomas Ewing, by which “all persons living in Cass, Jackson, and Bates counties, Missouri, and in that part of Vernon included in this district, except those living within one mile of the limits of Independence, Hickman’s Mills, Pleasant Hill, and Harrisonville, and except those in that part of Kaw township, Jackson county, north of Brush creek and west of the Big Blue, embracing Kansas City and Westport, are hereby ordered to remove from their present places of residence within fifteen days from the date hereof. Those who, within that time, establish their loyalty to the satisfaction of the commanding officer of the military station nearest their present place of residence, will receive from him certificates stating the fact of their loyalty, and the names of the witnesses by whom it can be shown. All who receive such certificates will be permitted to remove to any military station in this district, or to any part of the state of Kansas, except the counties on the eastern borders of the state. All others shall remove out of this district. Officers commanding companies and detachments serving in the counties named will see that this paragraph is promptly obeyed.” 61
The admonition in the last clause to commanding officers was rigidly followed; and within the district named scenes of violence and cruelty were appalling. This order with its cruel execution has been more severely criticized than any other act during the entire Civil War. The justification for it has been urged on the ground that Jackson county afforded a field of operations for Confederates; that here the bushwhacking marauders recruited their forces, and found the means of support; that the policy was necessary on the ground of putting an end to that kind of warfare. On the other hand, it is contended that “tried by any known standard,” the people in that section of Missouri were as loyal to the Union as were their neighbors in Kansas. “They had voted against secession; they had not only, thus far, kept their quota in the Union army full, and that without draft or bounty, but they continued to do so; and if they did not protect themselves against the outrages alike of Confederate bushwhackers and Union jayhawkers, it was because early in the war they had been disarmed by Federal authority and were consequently without the means of defense.” 62
By the execution of the order, however, the people in the districts named “were driven from their homes, their dwellings burned, their farms laid waste, and the great bulk of their movable property handed over, without let or hindrance, to the Kansas ‘jayhawkers.’ It was a brutal order, ruthlessly enforced, but so far from expelling or exterminating the guerrillas, it simply handed the whole district over to them.” “Indeed,” continues Lucien Carr, “we are assured by one who was on the ground, that from this time until the end of the war, no one wearing the Federal uniform dared risk his life within the devatasted region. The only people whom the enforcement of the order did injure were some thousands of those whom it was Ewing’s duty to protect.” 63
Whether justified or not by the attitude of the Jackson county people in the Civil War, the execution of Order No. 11 certainly was but a re-enactment, though upon a larger scale, of those scenes which the inhabitants of that section of the country thirty years before had perpetrated upon the Latter-day Saints in expelling them from Jackson county. The awful scenes then enacted inspired the now celebrated painting by G. C. Bingham, bearing the title “Civil War,” and dedicated by the artist “to all who cherish the principles of civil liberty.”
Connected with the scenes of civil strife in Missouri, is a prophecy uttered by Joseph Smith many years before they began, and recently published in a variable paper by Elder Junius F. Wells, in the November number of the Improvement Era for 1902. Elder Wells, it appears, had the pleasure of an interview with the Hon. Leonidas M. Lawson, of New York city, formerly a resident of Clay county, Missouri, and a brother-in-law of General Alexander W. Doniphan, whose name so frequently occurs in our pages, dealing with events in the history of the Church while in Missouri.
In the course of the interview, which took place at the University Club, New York city, Mr. Lawson referred to an incident connected with a visit to General Doniphan in 1863. General Doniphan, it will be remembered by those acquainted with his history, took no part in the Civil War beyond that of a sorrowful spectator. On the occasion of Mr. Lawson’s visit to him, just referred to, they rode through Jackson county together, and in a letter to Elder Wells, under date of February 7, 1902, Mr. Lawson relates the following incident, which is part of a biographical sketch of General Doniphan, prepared by Mr. Lawson:
“In the year 1863, I visited General A. W. Doniphan at his home in Liberty, Clay county, Missouri. This was soon after the devastation of Jackson county, Missouri, under what is known as ‘Order No. 11.’ This devastation was complete. Farms were everywhere destroyed, and the farmhouses were burned. During this visit General Doniphan related the following historical facts and personal incidents:
“About the year 1831-2, the Mormons settled in Jackson county, Mo., under the leadership of Joseph Smith. The people of Jackson county became dissatisfied with their presence, and forced them to leave; and they crossed the Missouri river and settled in the counties of De Kalb, Caldwell and Ray. They founded the town of Far West, and began to prepare the foundation of a temple. It was here that the troubles arose which culminated in the expulsion of the Mormons from the state of Missouri according to the command of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs. This was known in Missouri annals as the Mormon War. There were many among those who obeyed the order of the governor, in the state militia, who believed that the movement against the Mormons was unjust and cruel, and that the excitement was kept up by those who coveted the homes, the barns and the fields of the Mormon people. The latter, during their residence in the state of Missouri, paid, in entry fees for the land they claimed, to the United States government land office, more than $300,000, which, for that period represented a tremendous interest. During their sojourn in Missouri the Mormons did not practice or teach polygamy, so that question did not enter into it.
“Following the early excitement, Joseph Smith was indicted for treason against the state of Missouri, and General Doniphan was one of the counsel employed to defend him, he having shown a friendly interest in Smith, whom he considered very badly treated. Joseph Smith was placed in prison in Liberty, Missouri, to await his trial. This place was the residence of General Doniphan. His partner in the practice of law was James H. Baldwin.
“On one occasion General Doniphan caused the sheriff of the county to bring Joseph Smith from the prison to his law office, for the purpose of consultation about his defense. During Smith’s presence in the office, a citizen of Jackson county, Missouri, came in for the purpose of paying a fee which was due by him to the firm of Doniphan and Baldwin, and offered in payment a tract of land in Jackson county.
“Doniphan told him that his partner, Mr. Baldwin, was absent at the moment, but as soon as he had an opportunity he would consult him and decide about the matter. When the Jackson county man retired, Joseph Smith, who had overheard the conversation, addressed General Doniphan about as follows:
” ‘Doniphan, I advise you not to take that Jackson county land in payment of the debt. God’s wrath hangs over Jackson county. God’s people have been ruthlessly driven from it, and you will live to see the day when it will be visited by fire and sword. The Lord of Hosts will sweep it with the besom of destruction. The fields and farms and houses will be destroyed, and only the chimneys will be left to mark the desolation.’ “
“General Doniphan said to me that the devastation of Jackson county forcibly reminded him of this remarkable prediction of the Mormon prophet.”
(signed) L. M. LAWSON.
“There is a prediction of the Prophet Joseph,” remarks Elder Wells, in commenting upon Mr. Lawson’s story, “not before put into print, and history has recorded its complete fulfillment.”
That a just retribution overtook the entire state, as well as the inhabitants of Jackson county, and other western counties, I think must be conceded by all who are familiar with the events of her history in the Civil War. That which she did to an inoffensive people was done to her inhabitants, especially to those living within the districts formerly occupied by the Latter-day Saints; only the measure meted out to the Missourians was heaped up, pressed down, and made to run over.
The Missourians had complained that the Latter-day Saints were eastern men, whose manners, habits, customs, and even dialect were different from their own; 64 but the Missourians lived to see great throngs of those same eastern men flock into an adjoining territory and infest their border, so that the settlers of western Missouri became accustomed to, and learned to endure the strange manners, customs and dialect so different from their own.
The Missourians complained of the rapidity with which the Saints were gathering into the state to establish their Zion; but the Missourians lived to see hordes of the detested easterners gather into their region of country by continuous streams of emigrant trains, sent there by “Emigrant Aid Companies” of New England.
The Missourians falsely charged that the coming of “Zion’s Camp” into western Missouri to aid their brethren to repossess their homes in Jackson county, was an armed invasion of the state; but the Missourians lived to see formidable hosts of eastern and northern men gather upon their frontiers and frequently invade the state. “The character of much of this emigration may be gathered,” says one historian, “from the fact that the Kansas Emigration Societies, Leagues and Committees * * * sent out men only;” and that in some of their bands Sharp’s rifles were more numerous than agricultural implements.” 65 Of course the “Blue Lodges” of Missouri were organized largely on the same principle as the “Emigrant Aid Companies” of New England, and adopted practically the same methods, expecting to add Kansas to the list of slave states. But “certainly,” remarks Lucien Carr, “if a company of so-called northern emigrants, in which there were two hundred and twenty-five men and only five women, whose wagons contained no visible furniture, agricultural implements or mechanical tools, but abounded in all the requisite articles for camping and campaigning purposes, were considered asbona fide settlers and permitted to vote, there could not have been a sufficient reason for ruling out any band of Missourians who ever crossed the border and declared their intention of remaining, even though they left the next day.” 66
Among the men sent to the borders of Missouri by the “Emigrant Aid Companies” of New England were some of the most desperate adventurers; and the Missourians who had pretended to be alarmed at the coming of “Zion’s Camp,” and feigned to regard it as an armed invasion of the state, saw their state repeatedly invaded—especially Jackson county—by the bands of Union “jayhawkers” organized from among these desperate eastern and northern men, who ruthlessly laid waste their homes and farms.
The Missourians had falsely charged the Saints with abolition madness, with tampering with their slaves, with inviting free negroes into the state to corrupt their blacks, whose very presence would render their institution of slave labor insecure; but they lived to see their system of slave labor abolished by the setting free of some one hundred and fifteen thousand slaves, valued at $40,000,000, eight thousand of whom were “martialed and disciplined for war” in the Federal armies, and many of them marched to war against their former masters.
Governor Dunklin and his advisors in the government of Missouri claimed that there was no warrant of authority under the laws and constitution of the state for calling out a permanent military force to protect the Saints in the peaceful possession of their homes until the civil authority proved itself competent to keep the peace and protect the citizens in the enjoyment of their guaranteed rights; but the people in the western part of Missouri saw the time come when they themselves prayed for the same protection; and Governor Stewart, unlike Governor Dunklin, approved the appointment of a battalion of volunteers consisting of three companies of rangers and one of artillery, all of which were placed under command of Lieutenant-Colonel John L. Bowen, to do the very thing the Saints had prayed might be done in their case. 67 But even this provision for their protection did not avail; for their old jayhawking enemies soon reappeared under new conditions—which will be stated in the next paragraph—under which they renewed their incursions of rapine and murder.
The state authorities of Missouri converted the mobs which had plundered the Saints, burned their homes and laid waste their lands, into the state militia which gave the former mob a legal status, under which guise they plundered the Saints, compelled them to sign away their property and agree to leave the state. To resist this mob-militia was to be guilty of treason; but the people of western Missouri lived to see a like policy pursued towards them. They suffered much in Jackson and other western counties in the border war, previous to the opening of the Civil War, from the inroads of abolition “jayhawkers” in the interest of anti-slavery. For a time this was in part suppressed by the state militia under General Frost and by the permanent force stationed on the border under Lieutenant-Colonel Bowen. But later, and when the Civil War broke out, these old “jayhawking” leaders “now came with United States commissions in their pockets, and at the head of regularly enlisted troops, in which guise they carried on a system of robbery and murder that left a good portion of the frontier south of the Missouri river as perfect a waste as Germany was at the end of the Thirty Years’ War.”68
Such wretches as Generals Lane and Jennison, though Union officers, and denounced alike by Governor Robinson of Kansas—of course a strong Union man—and General Halleck, 69 commander-in-chief of the western armies of the Union, were permitted to disgrace alike the Union cause and our human nature by their unspeakable atrocities. But they were retained in office, nevertheless. It was the outrages committed by these men and their commands, and the Kansas “Red Legs” that led to the equally savage reprisals on the people of Kansas. In revenge for what western Missouri had suffered, outlawed Missourians sacked Lawrence, Kansas, a Union city, massacred one hundred and eighty-three of its inhabitants, and left it in flames. In justification of their act of savagery, they declared: “Jennison has laid waste our homes, and the ‘Red Legs’ have perpetrated unheard of crimes. Houses have been plundered and burned, defenseless men shot down, and women outraged. We are here for revenge—and we have got it.” 70 How nearly this language of the Missourians—and there can be no question that it describes what had been done in Missouri by Lane, Jennison, and their commands, and the Kansas “Red Legs” 71—follows the complaint justly made by the Latter-day Saints years before against the Missourians! But thank God, there is recorded against the Saints no such horrible deeds of reprisal.
The Missourians falsely charged that the Saints held illicit communication with the Indian tribes then assembled near the frontiers of the state, and pretended to an alarm that their state might be invaded by the savages, prompted thereto by “Mormon” fanaticism; but these same Missourians lived to see cause for real fear of such an invasion when the Governor of an adjoining state—Arkansas—authorize Brigadier General Albert Pike to raise two mounted regiments of Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians to actually invade the state. These regiments of savages were engaged in the battle of Pea Ridge, on the southwest borders of Missouri. General Pike, who led them in that battle, dressed himself in gaudy, savage costume, and wore a large plume on his head—a la Niel Gilliam at Far West—to please the Indians. It is also charged that before the battle of Pea Ridge, he maddened his Indians with liquor “that they might allow the savage nature of their race to have unchecked development. In their fury they respected none of the usages of civilized warfare, but scalped the helpless wounded, and committed atrocities too horrible to mention.” 72 The “fear” expressed by the Missourians respecting the alleged illicit communication of the Saints with the Indians was mere feigning, but with this example before them, and knowing that there were many thousands of Indians on their frontiers that might be similarly induced to take up arms, their former feigned fears became real ones.
The Missourians instead of demanding the execution of the law in support of the liberties of the Saints, expressed the fear that the presence of the Saints would give rise to “Civil War,” in which none could be neutrals, since their homes must be the theatre on which it would be fought, 73 so they drove the Saints away; but the Missourians lived to see the outbreak of a civil war in their state that was one of the most appalling men ever witnessed; and Missouri, when all things are considered, and especially western Missouri, suffered more than any other state of the Union. In other states the war lasted at most but four years; but counting her western border warfare in the struggle for Kansas, the war was waged in western Missouri from 1855 to 1865, ten years; and for many years after the close of the Civil War, a guerrilla warfare was intermittently carried on by bands of outlaws harbored in western Missouri—especially in Jackson, Ray, Caldwell and Clay counties—that terrorized the community and shocked the world by the daring and atrocity of their crimes—including bank robberies in open day, express train wrecking and robberies, and murders. Not until 1881 was this effectually stopped by the betrayal and murder of the outlaw chief of these bands.
Missouri sent into the Union Armies one hundred and nine thousand of her sons, including eight thousand negroes. About thirty thousand enlisted in the confederate army. According to official reports the percentage of troops to population in the western states and territories was 13.6 per cent, and in the New England states 12 per cent; whilst in Missouri, if there be added to her quota sent to the northern army the thirty thousand sent to the confederate army, her percentage was fourteen per cent, or sixty per cent of those who were subject to military duty. Of the deaths among these enlisted men, only approximate estimates may be made, since of the mortality among the Confederates no official records were kept. But of those who entered the Union service, thirteen thousand eight hundred and eighty-five deaths are officially reported. The rate of mortality in the Confederate forces, owing to the greater hardships they endured, and the lack of medical attendants to care for the wounded, was much higher, and is generally estimated at twelve thousand, (most of whom were from western Missouri), which added to the deaths of those in the Union army would aggregate the loss among the troops from Missouri to twenty-five thousand eight hundred and eighty-five. “This estimate,” says Lucien Carr, “does not cover those who were killed in the skirmishes that took place between the home guards and the guerrillas; nor does it include those who were not in either army, but who were shot down by “bushwhackers” and “bushwhacking” Federal soldiers. Of these latter there is no record, though there were but few sections of the state in which such scenes were not more or less frequent. Assuming the deaths from these two sources to have been 1,200, and summing up the results, it will be found that the number of Missourians who were killed in the war and died from disease during their term of service amounted to not less than 27,000 men.” 74
The loss in treasure was in full proportion to the loss in blood. The state expended $7,000,000 in fitting out and maintaining her Union troops in the field. 75 She lost $40,000,000 in slave property; and four years after the close of the war—two of which, 1867-8, were remarkably prosperous—the taxable wealth of the state was $46,000,000 less than it was in 1860. “In many portions of the state,” says the historian to whom I am indebted for so many of the facts relating to Missouri in these pages, “especially in the southern and western borders, whole counties had been devastated. The houses were burned, the fences destroyed, and the farms laid waste. Much of the live stock of the state had disappeared; and everywhere, even in those sections that were comparatively quiet and peaceful, the quantity of land in cultivation was much less than it had been at the outbreak of the war. Added to these sources of decline, and in some measure a cause of them, was the considerable emigration from the state which now took place, and particularly from those regions that lay in the pathway of the armies, or from those neighborhoods that were given over to the “bushwhackers.” The amount of loss from these different sources cannot be accurately gauged, but some idea may be formed of it, and of the unsettled condition of affairs, from the fact that only 41 out of the 113 counties in the state receipted for the tax books for 1861; and in these counties, only $250,000 out of the $600,000 charged against them were collected.” 76
This only in a general way indicates the losses in property sustained by the state during the period under consideration, but it assists one to understand somewhat the enormity of those losses.
It is in no spirit of gloating exultation that these facts in Missouri’s history are referred to here. It gives no gratification to the writer to recount the woes of Missouri, and his hope is that it will give none to the reader. These facts of history are set down only because they are valuable for the lesson they teach. It may be that visible retribution does not always follow in the wake of state or national wrong-doing; but it is well that it should sometimes do so, lest men should come to think that Eternal Justice sleeps, or may be thwarted, or, what would be worst of all, that she does not exist. I say it is well, therefore, that sometimes visible retribution should follow state and national as well as individual transgressions, that the truth of the great principle that “as men sow, so shall they reap,” may be vindicated. Missouri in her treatment of the Latter-day Saints during the years 1833-9, sowed the wind; in the disastrous events which overtook her during the years 1855-65, she reaped the whirlwind. Let us hope that in those events Justice was fully vindicated so far as the state of Missouri is concerned; and that the lessons of her sad experience may not be lost to the world. May the awful and visible retribution visited upon Missouri teach all states and nations that when they feel power they must not forget Justice; may it teach all peoples that states and nations in their corporate capacity are such entities as may be held accountable before God and the world for their actions; that righteousness exalteth a nation, while injustice is a reproach to any people. May the retribution that was so palpably visited upon the state of Missouri satisfy and encourage the Latter-day Saints; not that I would see them rejoice in the suffering of the wicked; but rejoice rather in the evidence that Justice slumbereth not; that their wrongs are not hidden from the All-seeing eye of God; that they are within the circle of His love; that they cannot be unjustly assailed with impunity, however humble and weak they may be. From all these considerations may they be established in peace, hope, confidence and charity; knowing that God is their friend; that His arm is strong to protect; or, if in the course of God’s economy in the management of the affairs of the world it must needs be that for a time they suffer at the hands of oppressors, that He will avenge them of their enemies; and amply reward them for their sufferings in His cause.
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
HISTORY OF JOSEPH SMITH, THE PROPHET.
Introduction to Volume 3.
7. In making the statement that it was the intention of the Star article not only to stop “free people of color” immigrating to Missouri, but also to “prevent them from being admitted as members of the Church,” the editor of the Star, of course went too far; if not in his second article, explaining the scope and meaning of the first, then in the first article; for he had no authority to seek to prevent “free people of color” from being admitted members of the Church. But as a matter of fact there were very few if any “free people of color” in the Church at that time. The “fears” of the Missourians on that head were sheer fabrications of evil disposed minds.
12. D&C 38.
13. D&C 45.
14. D&C 58.
15. D&C 58:52-53.
16. D&C 63:25-31.
17. D&C 64:34-36.
18. D&C 68:29-34.
21. D&C 84:54-59.
24. D&C 101:1-9.
25. Ibid, verse 75.
26. Ibid, sec. 103.
29. D&C 83.
30. D&C 63.
31. D&C 63:29-31.
34. These estimates are by the late President George A. Smith, Church Historian, and hence are entirely reliable. They are quoted by Lucien Carr in his History of Missouri, “American Commonwealths,” p. 181, and are also to be found in an Historical Address by George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, pp. 103. et seq.
36. “In the fall of 1836, a large and comfortable schoolhouse was built and here courts were held after the location of the county seat until its removal to Kingston. The Mormons very early gave attention to educational matters. There were many teachers among them and schoolhouses were among their first buildings. The schoolhouse in Far West was used as a Church, as a town hall and as a court house, as well as for a schoolhouse. It first stood in the southwest quarter of town, but upon the establishment of the county seat it was removed to the center of the square.” (“History of Caldwell County,” p. 121.—National Historical Company, 1886).
42. Daniel 2:44.
52. Luke 10:18.
53. Jude 1:6.
54. Rev. 12:7-12.
61. History of Missouri, Carr, p. 360. General Price was the Colonel Sterling Price, who held the Prophet Joseph in custody at Richmond in 1838, who shackled the brethren and whose scurrilous guards were so severely rebuked by the Prophet.—History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 208, Note.
70. General Halleck when he learned that the “jayhawking” leader, Lane, had been promoted to the command of a brigade, declared that such an appointment was “offering a premium for rascality and robbing generally;” and that it would “take twenty thousand men to counteract its effect in the state.” History of Missouri, Carr, p. 348.
72. These were bands of Kansas robbers, whose custom it was at intervals to dash into Missouri, seize horses and cattle—not omitting other and worse crimes on occasion—then to repair with their booty to Lawrence, where it was defiantly sold at auction.” History of Missouri, Carr, p. 348.