Correspondence between James Arlington Bennett and President Joseph Smith—Renewal of Petitions to Congress for Redress of Missouri Grievances—President Joseph Smith’s Appeal to the “Green Mountain Boys”—Vermont—Status of the Nauvoo Legion in Illinois Militia.
Thursday, November, 9, 1843.—At the office, dictating letters and signing deeds.
The missionaries to the Pacific Islands touched at Cape de Verde Islands, and laid in a supply of fruits of various kinds.
Prosperity of the Work in England
Saturday, 11.—A company of Saints arrived from England. The work is still prospering in that country, poverty and distress are making rapid strides, and the situation of the laboring classes is getting every day more deplorable.
City Council met. Hyrum Smith, president pro tem. Albert P. Rockwood assessor and collector for 1st ward; Daniel Hendricks for 2nd ward; Jonathan H. Hale, 3rd ward; and Henry G. Sherwood for 4th ward.
Sunday, 12.—Prayer-meeting in the evening, in the south-east room of my old house.
Monday 13.—Having received a letter from James Arlington Bennett, Esq., I copy it:—
Letter: James Arlington Bennett to President Joseph Smith.
Arlington House, Oct. 24, 1843.
Dear General:—I am happy to know that you have taken possession of your new establishment, and presume you will be eminently successful and happy in it, together with your good lady and family.
You are no doubt already aware that I have had a most interesting visit from your most excellent and worthy friend, President B. Young with whom I have had a glorious frolic in the clear blue ocean; for most assuredly a frolic it was, without a moment’s reflection or consideration.
Nothing of this kind would in the least attach me to your person or cause. I am capable of being a most undeviating friend, without being governed by the smallest religious influence.
As you have proved yourself to be a philosophical divine, you will excuse me when I say that we must leave their influence to the mass. The boldness of your plans and measures, together with their unparalleled success so far, are calculated to throw a charm over your whole being, and to point you out as the most extraordinary man of the present age.
But my mind is of so mathematical and philosophical a cast, that the divinity of Moses makes no impression on me, and you will not be offended when I say that I rate you higher as a legislator than I do Moses, because we have you present with us for examination, whereas Moses derives his chief authority from prescription and the lapse of time.
I cannot, however, say but you are both right, it being out of the power of man to prove you wrong. It is no mathematical problem, and can therefore get no mathematical solution. I say, therefore, Go a-head: you have my good wishes. You know Mahomet had his “right hand man.”
The celebrated Thomas Brown, at New York, is now engaged in cutting your head on a beautiful cornelian stone, as your private seal, which will be set in gold to your order, and sent to you. It will be a gem, and just what you want. His sister is a member of your Church. The expense of this seal, set in gold, will be about $40; and Mr. Brown assures me that if he were not so poor a man, he would present it to you free.
You can, however, accept it or not, as he can apply to it another use. I am myself short for cash; for although I had sometime since $2,000 paid me by the Harpers, publishers, as the first instalment on the purchase of my copyright, yet I had got so much behind during the hard times, that it all went to clear up old scores. I expect $38,000 more however, in semi-annual payments, from those gentlemen, within the limits of ten years; a large portion of which I intend to use in the State of Illinois, in the purchase and conduct of a large tract of land; and therefore should I be compelled to announce in this quarter that I have no connection with the Nauvoo Legion, you will of course remain silent, as I shall do it in such a way as will make all things right.
I may yet run for a high office in your state, when you would be sure of my best services in your behalf; therefore, a known connection with you would be against our mutual interest. It can be shown that a commission in the Legion was a Herald hoax, coined for the fun of it by me, as it is not believed even now by the public. In short, I expect to be yet, through your influence, governor of the State of Illinois.
My respects to Brothers Young, Richards, Mrs. Emma, and all friends.
Yours most respectfully,
James Arlington Bennett.
P.S.—As the office of inspector-general confers no command on me. being a mere honorary title,—if, therefore, there is any gentleman in Nauvoo who would like to fill it in a practical way, I shall with great pleasure and good-will resign it to him, by receiving advice from you to that effect. It is an office that should be filled by some scientific officer.
J. A. B.
I insert my reply:—
Letter: President Joseph Smith to James Arlington Bennett.
Nauvoo, Illinois, Nov. 13, 1843.
Dear Sir:—Your letter of the 24th ult. has been regularly received, its contents duly appreciated, and its whole tenor candidly considered; and, according to my manner of judging all things in righteousness, I proceed to answer you, and shall leave you to meditate whether “mathematical problems,” founded upon the truth of revelation, or religion as promulgated by me, or by Moses, can be solved by rules and principles existing in the systems of common knowledge.
How far you are capable of being “a most undeviating friend, without being governed by the smallest religious influence,” will best be decided by your survivors, as all past experience most assuredly proves. Without controversy, that friendship which intelligent beings would accept as sincere must arise from love, and that love grow out of virtue, which is as much a part of religion as light is a part of Jehovah. Hence the saying of Jesus, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
You observed, “as I have proven myself to be a philosophical divine” I must excuse you when you say that we must leave these influences to the mass. The meaning of “philosophical divine” may be taken in various ways. If, as the learned world apply the term, you infer that I have achieved a victory, and been strengthened by a scientific religion, as practiced by the popular sects of the age, through the aid of colleges, seminaries, Bible societies, missionary boards, financial organizations, and gospel money schemes, then you are wrong. Such a combination of men and means shows a form of godliness without the power; for is it not written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise.” “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the rudiments of the world, and not after the doctrines of Christ.” But if the inference is that by more love, more light, more virtue, and more truth from the Lord, I have succeeded as a man of God, then you reason truly, though the weight of the sentiment is lost, when the “influence is left to the mass.” “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”
Of course you follow out the figure, and say, the boldness of my plans and measures, together with their unparalleled success, so far, are calculated to throw a charm over my whole being, and to point me out as the most extraordinary man of the present age! The boldness of my plans and measures can readily be tested by the touchstone of all schemes, systems, projects, and adventures—truth; for truth is a matter of fact; and the fact is, that by the power of God I translated the Book of Mormon from hieroglyphics, the knowledge of which was lost to the world, in which wonderful event I stood alone, an unlearned youth, to combat the worldly wisdom and multiplied ignorance of eighteen centuries, with a new revelation, which (if they would receive the everlasting Gospel,) would open the eyes of more than eight hundred millions of people, and make “plain the old paths,” wherein if a man walk in all the ordinances of God blameless, he shall inherit eternal life; and Jesus Christ, who was, and is, and is to come, has borne me safely over every snare and plan laid in secret or openly, through priestly hypocrisy, sectarian prejudice, popular philosophy, executive power, or law-defying mobocracy, to destroy me.
If, then, the hand of God in all these things that I have accomplished towards the salvation of a priest-ridden generation, in the short space of twelve years, through the boldness of the plan of preaching the Gospel, and the boldness of the means of declaring repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, and a reception of the Holy Ghost by laying on of the hands, agreeably to the authority of the Priesthood, and the still more bold measures of receiving direct revelation from God, through the Comforter, as promised, and by which means all holy men from ancient times till now have spoken and revealed the will of God to men, with the consequent “success” of the gathering of the Saints, throws any “charm” around my being, and “points me out as the most extraordinary man of the age,” it demonstrates the fact that truth is mighty and must prewail, and that one man empowered from Jehovah has more influence with the children of the kingdom than eight hundred millions led by the precepts of men. God exalts the humble, and debases the haughty.
But let me assure you in the name of Jesus, “who spake as never man spake,” that the “boldness of the plans and measures,” as you term them, but which should be denominated the righteousness of the cause, the truth of the system, and power of God, which “so far” has borne me and the Church, (in which I glory in having the privilege of being a member,) successfully through the storm of reproach, folly, ignorance, malice, persecution, falsehood, sacerdotal wrath, newspaper satire, pamphlet libels, and the combined influence of the powers of earth and hell,—I say these powers of righteousness and truth are not the decrees or rules of an ambitious and aspiring Nimrod, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Mahomet, Bonaparte, or other great sounding heroes that dazzled forth with a trail of pomp and circumstances for a little season, like a comet, and then disappeared, leaving a wide waste where such an existence once was, with only a name; nor where the glorious results of what you term “boldness of plans and measures,” with the attendant “success,” matured by the self-aggrandizing wisdom of the priests of Baal, the scribes and Pharisees of the Jews, popes and bishops of Christendom, or pagans of Juggernaut:—nor were they extended by the divisions and subdivisions of a Luther or Calvin, a Wesley, or even a Campbell, supported by a galaxy of clergymen and churchmen, of whatever name or nature, bound apart by cast-iron creeds, and fastened to set stakes by chain-cable opinions, without revelation. Nor are they the lions of the land, or the leviathans of the sea, moving among the elements, as distant chimeras to fatten the fancy of the infidel; but they are as the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and will become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth. 1 * * * * *
It seems that your mind is of such “a mathematical and philosophical cast,” that the divinity of Moses makes no impression upon you, and that I will not be offended when you say that you rate me higher as a legislator than you do Moses, because you have me present with you for examination; that “Moses derives his chief authority from prescription and the lapse of time.” You cannot, however, say but we are both right, it being out of the power of man to prove us wrong. “It is no mathematical problem, and can therefore get no mathematical solution.”
Now, sir, to cut the matter short, and not dally with your learned ideas, for fashion’s sake you have here given your opinion, without reserve, that revelation, the knowledge of God, prophetic vision, the truth of eternity, cannot be solved as a mathematical problem. The first question then is, What is a mathematical problem? and the natural answer is, A statement, proposition or question that can be solved, ascertained, unfolded or demonstrated by knowledge, facts or figures; for “mathematical” is an adjective derived from mathesis (Gr.), meaning, in English, learning or knowledge. “Problem” is derived from probleme (French), or problema (Italian, or Spanish), and in each language means a question or proposition, whether true or false. “Solve” is derived from the Latin verb “solvo,” to explain or answer.
One thing more in order to prove the work as we proceed. It is necessary to have witnesses, two or three of whose testimonies, according to the laws or rules of God and man, are sufficient to establish any one point.
Now for the question. How much are one and one? Two. How much is one from two? One. Very well; one question or problem is solved by figures. Now, let me ask one for facts; Was there ever such a place on the earth as Egypt? Geography says yes; ancient history says yes; and the Bible says yes: so three witnesses have solved that question. Again: Lived there ever such a man as Moses in Egypt? The same witnesses reply, Certainly. And was he a Prophet? The same witnesses, or a part, have left on record that Moses predicted in Leviticus that if Israel broke the covenant they had made, the Lord would scatter them among the nations, till the land enjoyed her Sabbaths: and, subsequently, these witnesses have testified of their captivity in Babylon and other places, in fulfillment. But to make assurance doubly sure, Moses prays that the ground might open and swallow up Korah and his company for transgression, and it was so: and he endorses the prophecy of Balaam, which said, Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city: and Jesus Christ, as Him that “had dominion,” about fifteen hundred years after, in accordance with this and the prediction of Moses, David, Isaiah, and many others, came, saying, Moses wrote of me, declaring the dispersion of the Jews, and the utter destruction of the city; and the Apostles were his witnesses, unimpeached, especially Jude, who not only endorses the facts of Moses “divinity,” but also the events of Balaam and Korah, with many others, as true.
Besides these tangible facts, so easily proven and demonstrated by simple rules and testimony unimpeached, the art (now lost,) of embalming human bodies, and preserving them in the catacombs of Egypt, whereby men, women and children, as mummies, after a lapse of near three thousand five hundred years, come forth among the living; and although dead, the papyrus which has lived in their bosoms, unharmed, speaks for them in language like the sound of an earthquake. Ecce veritas! Ecce cadaveros! Behold the truth! Behold the mummies!
Oh, my dear sir, the sunken Tyre and Sidon, the melancholy dust where the city of Jerusalem once was, and the mourning of the Jews among the nations, together with such a cloud of witnesses, if you had been as well acquainted with your God and Bible as with your purse and pence table, the divinity of Moses would have dispelled the fog of five thousand years and filled you with light; for facts, like diamonds, not only cut glass, but they are the most precious jewels on earth. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.
The world at large is ever ready to credit the writings of Homer, Hesiod, Plutarch, Socrates, Pythagoras, Virgil, Josephus, Mahomet, and an hundred others; but where, tell me, where, have they left a line—a simple method of solving the truth of the plan of eternal life? Says the Savior, “If any man will do his [the Father’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Here, then, is a method of solving the divinity of men by the divinity within yourself, that as far exceeds the calculations of numbers as the sun exceeds a candle. Would to God that all men understood it and were willing to be governed by it, that when one had filled the measure of his days, he could exclaim like Jesus, Veni mori, et reviviscere!’
Your good wishes to go ahead, coupled with Mahomet and a right hand man, are rather more vain than virtuous. Why, sir, Caesar had his right hand Brutus, who was his left hand assassin,—not, however, applying the allusion to you.
As to the private seal you mention, if sent to me, I shall receive it with the gratitude of a servant of God, and pray that the donor may receive a reward in the resurrection of the just.
The summit of your future fame seems to be hid in the political policy of a “mathematical problem” for the chief magistracy of this state, which I suppose might be solved by “double position,” where the errors of the supposition are used to produce a true answer.
But, sir, when I leave the dignity and honor I received from heaven, to boost a man into power, through the aid of my friends, where the evil and designing, after the object has been accomplished, can lock up the clemency intended as a reciprocation for such favors, and where the wicked and unprincipled, as a matter of course, would seize the opportunity to flintify the hearts of the nation against me for dabbling at a sly game in politics,—verily I say, when I leave the dignity and honor of heaven, to gratify the ambition and vanity of man or men, may my power cease, like the strength of Samson, when he was shorn of his locks, while asleep in the lap of Delilah. Truly said the Savior, “Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
Shall I, who have witnessed the visions of eternity, and beheld the glorious mansions of bliss, and the regions and the misery of the damned,—shall I turn to be a Judas? Shall I, who have heard the voice of God, and communed with angels, and spake as moved by the Holy Ghost for the renewal of the everlasting covenant, and for the gathering of Israel in the last days,—shall I worm myself into a political hypocrite? Shall I, who hold the keys of the last kingdom, in which is the dispensation of the fullness of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy Prophets since the world began, under the sealing power of the Melchizedec Priesthood,—shall I stoop from the sublime authority of Almighty God, to be handled as a monkey’s cat-paw, and pettify myself into a clown to act the farce of political demagoguery? No—verily no! The whole earth shall bear me witness that I, like the towering rock in the midst of the ocean, which has withstood the mighty surges of the warring waves for centuries, am impregnable, and am a faithful friend to virtue, and a fearless foe to vice,—no odds whether the former was sold as a pearl in Asia or hid as a gem in America, and the latter dazzles in palaces or glimmers among the tombs.
I combat the errors of ages; I meet the violence of mobs; I cope with illegal proceedings from executive authority; I cut the guardian knot of powers, and I solve mathematical problems of universities, with truth—diamond truth; and God is my “right hand man.” 2
And to close, let me say in the name of Jesus Christ to you, and to presidents, emperors, kings, queens, governors, rulers, nobles, and men in authority everywhere, Do the works of righteousness, execute justice and judgment in the earth, that God may bless you and her inhabitants; and
The laurel that grows on the top of the mountain
Shall green for your fame while the sun sheds a ray;
And the lily that blows by the side of the fountain
Will bloom for your virtue till earth melt away.
With due consideration and respect, I have the honor to be
Your most obedient servant,
P.S. The court-martial will attend to your case in the Nauvoo Legion.
Tuesday, 14.—In the evening called at the office with Mr. Southwick, of Dixon, and had my letter to James Arlington Bennett read.
Wednesday, 15.—Mayor’s court in the office. “Erskine versus Pullen.” Nonsuit.
P.M. At the office. Suggested the idea of preparing a grammar of the Egyptian language.
Grammar for the Egyptian Language Suggested.
Prayer-meeting at the old house. I spoke of a petition to Congress, my letter to Bennett, and intention to write a proclamation to the kings of the earth.
Thursday, 16.—Held a court—”Averett versus Bostwick.”
At home the remainder of the day. Chilly east wind and foggy.
Friday, 17.—Deeded lot 4, block 135, to Sally Phelps, wife of W. W. Phelps.
About ten, A.M., called in the office with Esquire Southwick, of Dixon.
Thunder, lightning and rain last night. Warm and foggy morning.
Saturday, 18.—Rode out on horseback to the prairie, accompanied by Mr. Southwick.
Conference of the church held at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Robert Dixon, president; Edward Cook, secretary. Two branches were represented, containing 2 Elders, 1 Teacher, 2 Deacons, and 34 members.
Sunday, 19.—Eleven A.M. to two P.M., prayer-meeting at the old house, and fasting.
In the evening, prayer-meeting and breaking of bread, &c.
Meeting at the Prophet’s Home.
Monday, 20.—Two gentlemen from Vermont put up at the Mansion. I rode round with them in the afternoon to show them the improvements in the city. In the evening, several of the Twelve and others called to visit me. My family sang hymns, and Elder John Taylor prayed and gave an address, to which they paid great attention, and seemed very much interested.
Tuesday, 21.—Council of the Twelve and others at my old house all day. Dictated to my clerk an appeal to the Green Mountain boys of Vermont, my native State.
Also instructed Elders Richards, Hyde, Taylor and Phelps to write a “Proclamation to the Kings of the Earth.”
Wednesday, 22.—Rode out to the prairie with W. Clayton and Lorenzo D. Wasson, and found Arthur Smith cutting timber on my land without my consent, which I objected to.
Prayer-meeting in the evening at the old house.
Five deaths in the city during the past week.
Canal Around the Rapids.
Thursday, 23.—Met in council in the old house; then walked down to the river to look at the stream, rocks, &c., about half-past eleven, A.M. Suggested the idea of petitioning Congress for a grant to make a canal over the falls, or a dam to turn the water to the city, so that we might erect mills and other machinery. 3
Issued a writ of habeas corpus, on application of John M. Finch.
Friday, 24.—Attended Municipal Court “on habeas corpus, John M. Finch at suit of Amos Davis.” Finch discharged, Davis to pay costs, it being a vexatious and malicious suit.
The young men have established a debating society in Nauvoo, to discuss topics of various descriptions.
The Prophet’s Stand on Chastity and General Morality.
Saturday, 25.—Colonel Frierson, United States Surveyor from Quincy, arrived in Nauvoo. In the evening the High Council sat on the case of Harrison Sagers, charged with seduction, and having stated that I had taught it was right. Charge not sustained. I was present with several of the Twelve, and gave an address tending to do away with every evil, and exhorting them to practice virtue and holiness before the Lord; told them that the Church had not received any permission from me to commit fornication, adultery, or any corrupt action; but my every word and action has been to the contrary. If a man commit adultery, he cannot receive the celestial kingdom of God. Even if he is saved in any kingdom, it cannot be the celestial kingdom. I did think that the many examples that have been made manifest, such as John C. Bennett’s and others, were sufficient to show the fallacy of such a course of conduct.
I condemned such actions in toto, and warned the people present against committing such evils; for it will surely bring a curse upon any person who commits such deeds.
After adjournment, held a council, and agreed to meet Mr. Frierson 4 at the Mansion to morrow morning.
I received a letter signed by George B. Wallace and six other Elders, requesting permission for Elder John E. Page to remain in Boston the ensuing winter. Also a letter from John E. Page, giving his assent to the petition, to which the Twelve Apostles wrote the following reply:—
Letter: Brigham Young in Behalf of the Twelve to Elder John E. Page, Appointing him to go to Washington.
Elder John E. Page:
Beloved Brother:—Your letter dated at Boston, in connection with some one hundred and fifty of the brethren, is received, and we proceed to reply. Your letter is not before us this moment; consequently you must excuse a reference to dates and names which have escaped our recollection. But the subject is fresh, and the letter was read in a council of Presidents Joseph, Hyrum, and the Twelve, when the word of the Lord came through Joseph the Seer thus:—”Let my servant John E. Page take his departure speedily from the city of Boston, and go directly to the city of Washington, and there labor diligently in proclaiming my Gospel to the inhabitants thereof: and if he is humble and faithful, lo! I will be with him, and will give him the hearts of the people, that he may do them good and build up a church unto my name in that city.”
Now, Brother Page, if you wish to follow counsel and do the will of the Lord, as we believe you desire to do, call the church at Boston together, without delay, and read this letter to them, calling upon them to assist you on your mission, and go thy way speedily unto the place which is appointed unto you by the voice of the Lord, and build up a church in the city of Washington; for it is expedient and absolutely necessary that we have a foothold in that popular city. Let your words be soft unto the people, but full of the spirit and power of the Holy Ghost. Do not challenge the sects for debate, but treat them as brethren and friends; and the God of heaven will bless you, and we will bless you in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the people will rise up and bless you, and call you a sweet messenger of peace. You will pardon us for giving you such counsel, for we feel to do it in the name of the Lord.
When you have built a church at Washington so as to warrant the expense. It will be wisdom for you to send or take your wife to Washington; so says President Joseph.
All things go on smoothly here. As to the reports circulated while we were in Boston, there is nothing of them. Brother Joseph has commenced living in his new house, and enjoys himself well. He has raised a sign, entitled “Nauvoo Mansion,” and has all the best company in the city. Many strangers from abroad call on him, feeling perfect liberty so to do, since he has made his house public; and it is exerting a blessed influence on the public mind.
The Temple has been progressing rapidly until the recent frosts. The walls are now above the windows of the first story, and some of the circular windows are partly laid. The brethren of the Twelve have all arrived home, are tolerably well, and their families, except Sister Hyde, who has been very sick, and is yet, though at last report rather better. No prospect of any of the Twelve leaving home this winter that we know of. Elder Snow has arrived with his company from Boston, generally in good spirits.
The devil howls some: may be you will hear him as far as Boston, for there cannot a blackleg be guilty of any crime in Nauvoo, but somebody will lay it to the servants of God. We shall give the substance of this communication to your wife same mail.
We remain your brother in the new and everlasting covenant, in behalf of the quorum,
Brigham Young, President.
W. Richards, Clerk.
Renewal of Petitions to Congress.
Sunday, 26.—I met with Hyrum, the Twelve and others, in council with Colonel Frierson, at the Mansion, concerning petitioning Congress for redress of grievances. Read to him the affidavits of Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, George W. Pitkin and Sidney Rigdon, taken before the municipal court on habeas corpus, and conversed with him thereon.
At eleven, A.M., Elder Orson Pratt preached in the Assembly Room.
In the evening, Elder Parley P. Pratt lectured in the Mansion. Rainy, muddy day.
Monday, 27.—Wet day. Being quite unwell, I stayed at home.
Tuesday, 28.—At home. Colonel Frierson wrote a Memorial to Congress. 5
Wednesday, 29.—At home. Clear and cold. Colonel Frierson left for home, taking with him a copy of the Memorial, to get signers in Quincy. I here insert a copy of the—
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress Assembled.
The memorial of the undersigned inhabitants of Hancock county, in the State of Illinois, respectfully showeth—
That they belong to the society of Latter-day Saints, commonly called “Mormons;” that a portion of our people commenced settling in Jackson county, Missouri, in the summer of 1831, where they purchased lands and settled upon them with the intention and expectation of becoming permanent citizens in common with others.
From a very early period after the settlement began, a very unfriendly feeling was manifested by the neighboring people; and as the society increased, this unfriendly spirit also increased, until it degenerated into a cruel and unrelenting persecution, and the society was at last compelled to leave the county. An account of these unprovoked persecutions has been published to the world; yet we deem it not improper to embody a few of the most prominent items in the memorial, and lay them before your honorable body.
On the 20th July, 1833, a mob collected at Independence, a deputation or committee from which called upon a few members of our Church there, and stated to them that the store, printing office, and all mechanic shops belonging to our people must be closed forthwith, and the society leave the county immediately.
These conditions were so unexpected and so hard, that a short time was asked for to consider on the subject before an answer could be given, which was refused; and when some of our men answered that they could not consent to comply with such propositions, the work of destruction commenced.
The printing office—a valuable two-story brick building, was destroyed by the mob, and with it much valuable property. They next went to the store for the same purpose; but one of the owners thereof agreeing to close it, they abandoned their design.
A series of outrages was then commenced by the mob upon individual members of our society. Bishop Partridge was dragged from his house and family, where he was first partially stripped of his clothes, and then tarred and feathered from head to foot. Mr. Charles Allen was also tarred at the same time.
Three days afterwards the mob assembled in great numbers, bearing a red flag, and proclaiming that unless the society would leave en masse, every man of them should be killed. Being in a defenseless situation, to avoid a general massacre, a treaty was entered into and ratified, by which it was agreed that one-half of the society should leave the county by the 1st of January, and the remainder by the 1st of April following.
In October, while our people were gathering their crops and otherwise preparing to fulfil their part of the treaty, the mob again collected without any provocation, shot at some of our people, whipped others, threw down their houses, and committed many other depredations. The members of the society were for some time harassed both day and night, their houses assailed and broken open, and their women and children insulted and abused.
The store-house of A. S. Gilbert and Company was broken open, ransacked, and some of the goods strewed in the streets. These repeated assaults so aroused the indignant feelings of our people, that a small party thereof, on one occasion, when wantonly abused, resisted the mob. A conflict ensued, in which one of our people and some two or three of their assailants were killed.
This unfortunate event raised the whole county in arms, and we were required forthwith to surrender our arms and leave the county. Fifty-one guns were given up, which have never been returned or paid for to this day.
Parties of the mob, from thirty to seventy in number, then scoured the county in every direction, threatening and abusing women and children, until they were forced first to take shelter in the woods and prairies at a very inclement season of the year, and finally to make their escape to Clay county, where the people permitted them to take refuge for a time.
After the society had left Jackson county, their buildings, amounting to about two hundred, were either burned or otherwise destroyed, with a great portion of their crops, as well as furniture, stock, &c.; for which they have not as yet received any remuneration.
The society remained in Clay county nearly three years, when, in compliance with the demands of the citizens there, it was determined to remove to that section of country known afterwards as Caldwell county.
In order to secure our people from molestation, the members of the society bought out most of the former inhabitants of what is now Caldwell county, and also entered much of the wild land then belonging to the United States in that section of country, fondly hoping that as we were American citizens, obeying the laws and assisting to support the government, we would be protected in the use of homes which we had honestly purchased from the General Government and fully paid for.
Here we were permitted to enjoy peace for a season; but as our society increased in numbers and settlements were made in Daviess and Carrol counties, unfounded jealousies sprang up among our neighbors, and the spirit of the mob was soon manifested again. The people of our Church who had located themselves at De Witt were compelled by the mob to leave the place, notwithstanding the militia were called out for their protection.
From De Witt the mob went to Daviess county, and, while on their way, took some of our people prisoners, and greatly abused and mistreated them. Our people had been driven by force from Jackson county; they had been compelled to leave Clay county, and sell their lands there, for which they have never been paid: they had finally settled in Caldwell county, where they had purchased and paid for nearly all the Government land within its limits, in order to secure homes where they could live and worship in peace; but even here they were soon followed by the mob.
The society remained in Caldwell from 1836 until the fall of 1838, and during that time had acquired by purchase from the Government, the settlers, and preemptioners, almost all the lands in the county of Caldwell, and a portion of those in Daviess and Carrol counties.
Those counties, when our people first commenced their settlements, were for the most part wild and uncultivated, and they had converted them into large and well improved farms, well stocked. Lands had risen in value, from 10 to 25 dollars per acre, and those counties were rapidly advancing in cultivation and wealth.
In August, 1838, a riot commenced, growing out of the attempt of a member of the society to vote, which resulted in creating great excitement and many scenes of lawless outrage. A large mob, under the conduct of Cornelius Gilliam, came into the vicinity of Far West, drove off our stock, and abused our people. Another party came into Caldwell county, took away our horses and cattle, burnt our houses, and ordered the inhabitants to leave their homes immediately.
By order of Brigadier-General Doniphan and Colonel Hinkle, a company of about sixty men, under the command of David W. Patten went to disperse this mob. A conflict ensued, in which Captain Patten and two of his men were killed, and others wounded. 6 A mob party, from two to three hundred in number, many of whom are supposed to have come from Chariton county, fell on our people, and, notwithstanding they begged for quarters, shot down and killed eighteen, as they would so many wild beasts.
They were finally compelled to flee from those counties; and on the 11th October, 1838, they sought safety by that means, with their families, leaving many of their effects behind. That they had previously applied to the constituted authorities of Missouri for protection, but in vain.
The society were pursued by the mob, conflicts ensued, deaths occurred on each side, and finally a force was organized under the authority of the Governor of the state of Missouri, with orders to drive us from the State, or exterminate us.
Abandoned and attacked by those to whom we had looked for protection, we determined to make no further resistance, but submit to the authorities of the State and yield to our fate, however hard it might be. Several members of the society were arrested and imprisoned on a charge of treason against the State: and the rest, amounting to above 14,000 souls, fled into the other States, principally into Illinois, where they now reside.
Your memorialists would further state that they have heretofore petitioned your honorable body, praying redress for the injuries set forth in this memorial; but the committee to whom our petition was referred reported, in substance, that the General Government had no power in the case, and that we must look for relief to the courts and the legislature of Missouri.
In reply, your memorialists would beg leave to state that they have repeatedly appealed to the authorities of Missouri in vain; that though they are American citizens, at all times ready to obey the laws and support the institutions of the country, none of us would dare enter Missouri for any such purpose, or for any purposes whatever.
Our property was seized by the mob or lawlessly confiscated by the State; and we were forced, at the point of the bayonet, to sign deeds of trust relinquishing our property. But the exterminating order of the Governor of Missouri is still in force, and we dare not return to claim out just rights. The widows and orphans of those slain, who could legally sign no deeds of trust, dare not return to claim the inheritance left them by their murdered parents.
It is true the Constitution of the United States gives to us, in common with all other native or adopted citizens, the right to enter and settle in Missouri; but an executive order has been issued to exterminate us if we enter the State, and a part of the Constitution becomes a nullity, so far as we are concerned.
Had any foreign state or power committed a similar outrage upon us we cannot for a moment doubt that the strong arm of the General Government would have been stretched out to redress our wrongs; and we flatter ourselves that the same power will either redress our grievances or shield us from harm in our efforts to regain our lost property, which we fairly purchased from the General Government.
Finally, your memorialists pray your honorable body to take their wrongs into consideration, receive testimony in the case, and grant such relief as by the Constitution and laws you may have power to give.
And your memorialists will ever pray.
Activities in Renewal of Appeals to Congress.
Eleven copies were also made for circulation and signatures by Thomas Bullock, one of my clerks.
Four, P.M. A meeting of the citizens in the assembly room, [over President Smith’s store] when Brigham Young was chosen chairman of the meeting, and Willard Richards, clerk.
The object of the meeting was briefly explained by the clerk, followed by Judge Phelps, which was to petition Congress for redress of grievances in relation to the Missouri persecutions.
Voted that the chairman appoint a committee to get the names of memorialists in this city.
The chairman appointed the assessors and collectors in their several wards.
Voted that the same committee collect means to purchase paper. President Sidney Rigdon to go to La Harpe, and Elder Heber C. Kimball to Ramus, to procure signers.
The chairman appointed committees to visit other places.
Joseph Smith, the Mayor, made some remarks, and his Appeal to the Green Mountain Boys was read by William W. Phelps, as follows:—
President Smith’s Appeal to his Native State—Vermont.
I was born in Sharon, Vermont, in 1805, where the first quarter of my life grew with the growth and strengthened with the strength of that “first-born” State of the “United Thirteen.” From the old “French War” to the final consummation of American Independence, my fathers, heart to heart, and shoulder to shoulder, with the noble fathers of our liberty, fought and bled; and with the most of that venerable band of patriots, they have gone to rest, bequeathing a glorious country, with all her inherent rights, to millions of posterity. Like other honest citizens, I not only (when manhood came,) sought my own peace, prosperity, and happiness, but also the peace, prosperity, and happiness of my friends; and, with all the rights and realm before me, and the revelations of Jesus Christ to guide me into all truth, I had good reasons to enter into the blessings and privileges of an American citizen, the rights of a Green Mountain Boy, unmolested, and enjoy life and religion according to the most virtuous and enlightened customs, rules, and etiquette of the nineteenth century. But, to the disgrace of the United States, it is not so. These rights and privileges, together with a large amount of property, have been wrested from me, and thousands of my friends, by lawless mobs in Missouri, supported by executive authority; and the crime of plundering our property, and the unconstitutional and barbarous act of our expulsion, and even the inhumanity of murdering men, women, and children, have received the pass-word of “justifiable” by legislative enactments; and the horrid deeds, doleful and disgraceful as they are, have been paid for by Government.
In vain have we sought for redress of grievances and a restoration to our rights in the courts and legislature of Missouri. In vain have we sought for our rights and the remuneration for our property in the halls of Congress and at the hands of the President. The only consolation yet experienced from these highest tribunals and mercy-seats of our bleeding country is that our cause is just, but the Government has no power to redress us.
Our arms were forcibly taken from us by those Missouri marauders; and, in spite of every effort to have them returned, the State of Missouri still retains them: and the United States militia law, with this fact before the Government, still compels us to military duty; and, for a lack of said arms, the law forces us to pay fines. As Shakespeare would say “thereby hangs a tale.”
Several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of land in Missouri was purchased at the United States Land Offices in that district of country and the money, without doubt, has been appropriated to strengthen the army and navy, or increase the power and glory of the nation in some other way. And notwithstanding Missouri has robbed and mobbed me and twelve or fifteen thousand innocent inhabitants, murdered hundreds, and expelled the residue, at the point of the bayonet, without law, contrary to the express language of the Constitution of the United States and every State in the Union, and contrary to the custom and usage of civilized nations, and especially one holding up the motto, “The asylum of the oppressed.” yet the comfort we receive to raise our wounded bodies and invigorate our troubled spirits, on account of such immense sacrifices of life, property, patience, and right, and as an equivalent for the enormous taxes we are compelled to pay to support these functionaries in a dignified manner, after we have petitioned and pleaded with tears, and been showed like a caravan of foreign animals, for the peculiar gratification of connoiseurs in humanity, that flare along in public life like lamps upon lamp-posts, because they are better calculated for the schemes of the night than for the scenes of the day, is, as President Van Buren said, Your cause is just, but Government has no power to redress you!
No wonder, after the Pharisee’s prayer, the publican smote his breast and said, “Lord be merciful to me a sinner!”What must the manacled nations think of freemen’s rights in the land of liberty? * * *7
Now, therefore, having failed in every attempt to obtain satisfaction at the tribunals, where all men seek for it, according to the rules of right, I am compelled to appeal to the honor and patriotism of my native State—to the clemency and valor of “Green Mountain Boys;” for throughout the various periods of the world, whenever a nation, kingdom, state, family, or individual has received an insult or an injury from a superior force. (unless satisfaction was made,) it has been the custom to call in the aid of friends to assist in obtaining redress. For proof we have only to refer to the recovery of Lot and his effects by Abraham in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, or to turn to the relief afforded by France and Holland for the achievement of the Independence of these United States, without bringing up the great bulk of historical facts, rules, laws, decrees, and treaties, and Bible records, by which nations have been governed, to show that mutual alliance for the general benefit of mankind to retaliate and repel foreign aggressions. To punish and prevent home wrongs, when the conservators of justice and the laws have failed to afford a remedy, are not only common and in the highest sense justifiable and wise, but they are also poorer expedients to promote the enjoyment of equal rights, the pursuit of happiness, the preservation of life, and the benefit of posterity.
With all these facts before me, and a pure desire to ameliorate the condition of the poor and unfortunate among men, and, if possible, to entice all men from evil to good, and with firm reliance that God will reward the just, I have been stimulated to call upon my native State for a “union of all honest men,” and to appeal to the valor of the “Green Mountain Boys” by all honorable methods and means to assist me in obtaining justice from Missouri, not only for the property she has stolen and confiscated, the murders she has committed among my friends, and for our expulsion from the State, but also to humble and chastise or abase her for the disgrace she has brought upon constitutional liberty until she atones for her sins.
I appeal also to the fraternity of brethren who are bound by kindred ties to assist a brother in distress in all cases where it can be done according to the rules of order, to extend the boon of benevolence and protection in avenging the Lord of His enemies, as if a Solomon, a Hiram, a St. John, or a Washington raised his hands before a wondering world, and exclaimed, “My life for his!” Light, liberty, and virtue forever!
I bring this appeal before my native State, for the solemn reason that an injury has been done, and crimes have been committed, which a sovereign State, of the Federal compact, one of the great family of “E pluribus unum,”refuses to compensate, by consent of parties, rules of law, customs of nations, or in any other way. I bring it also because the National Government has fallen short of affording the necessary relief, as before stated, for want of power, leaving a large body of her own free citizens, whose wealth went freely into her treasury for lands, and whose gold and silver for taxes still fills the pockets of her dignitaries “in ermine and lace,” defrauded, robbed, plundered, ravished, driven, exiled, and banished from the “Independent Republic of Missouri!”
And in the appeal let me say, Raise your towers, pile your monuments to the skies, build your steam frigates, spread yourselves far and wide, and open the iron eyes of your bulwarks by sea and land; and let the towering church steeples marshal the country like the dreadful splendor of an army with bayonets. But remember the flood of Noah; remember the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah; remember the dispersion and confusion at the tower of Babel; remember the destruction of Pharaoh and his hosts; remember the handwriting upon the wall, “Mene, mene, tekel upharsin;” remember the angel’s visit to Sennacherib, and the one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians; remember the end of the Jews and Jerusalem, and remember the Lord Almighty will avenge the blood of His Saints that now crimsons the skirts of Missouri! Shall wisdom cry aloud, and her speech not be heard?
Has the majesty of American liberty sunk into such vile servitude and oppression, that justice has fled? Have the glory and influence of a Washington, an Adams, a Jefferson, a Lafayette, and a host of others, forever departed; and the wrath of a Cain, a Judas, and a Nero whirled forth in the heraldry of hell, to sprinkle our garments with blood, and lighten the darkness of midnight with the blaze of our dwellings? Where is the patriotism of ’76? Where is the virtue of our forefathers? and where is the sacred honor of freemen!
Must we, because we believe in the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the administration of angels, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, like the Prophets and Apostles of old,—must we be mobbed with impunity, be exiled from our habitations and property without remedy, murdered without mercy, and Government find the weapons and pay the vagabonds for doing the jobs, and give them the plunder into the bargain? Must we, because we believe in enjoying the constitutional privilege and right of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own consciences, and because we believe in repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, the millennium, the day of judgment, and the Book of Mormon as the history of the aborigines of this continent,—must we be expelled from the institutions of our country, the rights of citizenship and the graves of our friends and brethren, and the Government lock the gate of humanity and shut the door of redress against us? If so, farewell freedom! adieu to personal safety! and let the red hot wrath of an offended God purify the nation of such sinks of corruption; for that realm is hurrying to ruin where vice has the power to expel virtue.
My father, who stood several times in the battles of the American Revolution, till his companions in arms had been shot dead at his feet, was forced from his home in Far West, Missouri, by those civilized—or satanized—savages, in the dreary season of winter, to seek a shelter in another State; and the vicissitudes and sufferings consequent to his flight brought his honored grey head to the grave a few months after. And my youngest brother also, in the vigor and bloom of youth, from his great exposure and fatigue in endeavoring to assist his parents on their journey, (I and my brother Hyrum being in chains, in dungeons, in Missouri, where they tried to feed us with—human flesh) was likewise so debilitated that he found a premature grave shortly after my father; and my mother, too, though she yet lingers among us, from her extreme exposure in that dreadful tragedy, was filled with rheumatic affections and other diseases, which leave her no enjoyment of health. She is sinking in grief and pain, broken-hearted, from Missouri persecution.
O death! wilt thou not give to every honest man a heated dart to sting those wretches while they pollute the land? And O Grave! wilt thou not open the trap door to the pit of ungodly men, that they may stumble in?
I appeal to the “Green Mountain Boys” of my native State to rise in the majesty of virtuous freemen, and by all honorable means help to bring Missouri to the bar of justice. If there is one whisper from the spirit of Ethen Allen, or a gleam from the shade of a General Stark, let it mingle with our sense of honor and fire our bosoms for the cause of suffering innocence, for the reputation of our disgraced country, and for the glory of God; and may all the earth bear me witness, if Missouri—blood-stained Missouri, escapes the due merit of her crimes—the vengeance she so justly deserves—that Vermont is a hypocrite, a coward and this nation the hotbed of political demagogues!
I make this appeal to the sons of liberty of my native State for help to frustrate the wicked designs of sinful men. I make it to hush the violence of mobs. I make it to cope with the unhallowed influence of wicked men in high places. I make it to resent the insult and injury made to an innocent, unoffending people, by a lawless ruffian State. I make it to obtain justice where law is put at defiance. I make it to wipe off the stain of blood from our nation’s escutcheon. I make it to show presidents, governors, and rulers prudence. I make it to fill honorable men with discretion. I make it to teach senators wisdom. I make it to teach judges justice. I make it to point clergymen to the path of virtue. And I make it to turn the hearts of this nation to the truth and realities of pure and undefiled religion, that they may escape the perdition of ungodly men; and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is my Great Counselor.
Wherefore let the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble, the poor and the needy, the bond and the free, both black and white, take heed to their ways, and a leave to the knowledge of God, and execute justice and judgment upon the earth in righteousness, and prepare to meet the judge of the quick and the dead, for the hour of His coming is nigh.
And I must go on as the herald of grace,
Till the wide-spreading conflict is over.
And burst through the curtains of tyrannic night;
Yes, I must go on to gather our race,
Till the high blazing flame of Jehovah
Illumines the globe as a triumph of right.
As a friend of equal rights to all men, and a messenger of the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have the honor to be,
Your devoted servant,
Sidney Rigdon spoke.
Parley P. Pratt confessed he was wrong in one thing in Missouri; that is, he left alive, and left them alive; and asked forgiveness, and promised never to do so again.
Parley P. Pratt offered to deliver the President’s “Appeal to the Green Mountain Boys” to all the large towns in New York, if he could have a copy.
The President offered a copy and it was voted that Elder Pratt shall have this mission granted him, and voted in addition that he go to all the towns in Vermont.
The Chairman [Brigham Young] spoke.
The Mayor [President Smith] spoke. Said he rose to make a confession, that he used all his influence to prevent the brethren from fighting when mobbed in Missouri. If I did wrong, I will not do so any more. It was a suggestion of the head. He would never do so again; but when the mobs come upon you, kill them. I never will restrain you again, but will go and help you.
The Chairman [Brigham Young] spoke again; acknowledged his wrong; said he would never put his hand on Brother Hosea Stout’s shoulder again to hold him back when he was abused.
John Taylor spoke of Missouri; said he would never submit to such treatment again.
Mayor [President Smith] spoke again. If I do not stand with those who will stand by me in the hour of trouble and danger, without faltering, I give you leave to shoot me. 8
Mayor read a letter in reply to one he wrote to Henry Clay.
Parley P. Pratt stated that the history of the persecution was put into the hand of Henry Clay.
Moved by Joseph Smith, That every man in the meeting who could wield a pen write an address to his mother country. Carried.
Mayor read the Memorial to Congress. The State rights doctrines are what feed mobs. They are a dead carcass—a stink, and they shall ascend up as a stink offering in the nose of the Almighty.
They shall be oppressed as they have oppressed us, not by “Mormons,” but by others in power. They shall drink a drink offering, the bitterest dregs, not from the “Mormons,” but from a meaner source than themselves. God shall curse them.
Adjourned till next Monday evening, early candle-light.
At ten, A.M., rode out with Mr. Jackson At home most all day.
The “Appeal to the Green Mountain Boys” sent to press.
Severe frost, so that the ice is on the water in the house. W. L. D. Ewing writes to Major John Bills—
Letter: W. L. D. Ewing, State Auditor, Illinois, to Major John Bills—Legion Affairs.
The foregoing opinions constitute my reason for refusing to issue the warrants in your favor. I am not satisfied myself entirely of the correctness of the opinions of the Attorney-General. If you should be dissatisfied with the decision, I would advise you to raise the question before the Supreme Court, which will be in session on the 2nd Monday of December. I am the more anxious that this should be done because I wish to be satisfied whether I was correct or not in issuing warrants to you in the spring. Be pleased to advise me on the subject.
W. L. D. Ewing, Auditor.
Enclosing the opinion of the Attorney-General, Josiah Lamborn, as follows:—
Letter: J. Lamborn, Attorney General of Illinois—Legal Opinion of Above.
Springfield, Illinois, Nov. 30, 1843.
I have examined the claim of J. C. Bennett as brigade-inspector of the Nauvoo Legion, and it is my opinion that the claim should be disallowed.
The Legislature, in giving authority for the organization of a body of “independent military men” at Nauvoo, intended, no doubt, that all expenses, &c., except “their proportion of public arms,” should be defrayed by the city and its privileged Legion.
They occupy a novel position, disconnected from the military communities of the whole State, and in no way subject to the regular military officers, possessing an exemption even from subjection to the general military laws, with a law-making power invested in their own Legion. It is not reasonable to suppose that the Legislature would confer so many exclusive favors, and yet pay those who profit by this condition of things as much as is paid to regular militia officers.
In the absence of any express provision by law to authorize the payment of the claim, I can see nothing from which an authority of the kind could be derived, and therefore advise accordingly.
J. Lamborn, Attorney-General.
And copy of letter from J. N. McDougall to General W. L. D. Ewing:—
Letter: J. N. McDougall to State Auditor.
Springfield, Illinois, Nov. 30, 1843,
General W. L. D. Ewing, Auditor, &.c.—
I have examined the claim of John Bills, brigade-major of the Nauvoo Legion, for services under the 53rd section of the militia law, and have arrived at the conclusion that the Nauvoo Legion are not to be considered as a part of the regular militia of this State, and that the general law has no further application to them than is expressly provided for in the law authorizing their organization. The law providing for the organization of the Legion making no provision for the payment of its officers by the State, it is my opinion that the above claim ought not to be audited.
The Legion was organized by the City Council, is subject to their control for the purpose of enforcing their ordinances. It is entirely independent of the general military law, may have a different organization, make laws for its own government, and seems evidently designed to sustain the municipal authorities of Nauvoo. If there are expenses to be paid, the municipality of which they form a very important element, must meet them. I am, with great respect,
Your obedient servant,
J. N. Mcdougall.
Mr. Ewing reported to Major Bills that the returns made out [for Mr. Bills], and sent to the State Department, were the best reports by any brigade-major in the State, and did him great credit: the refusal to pay him for his services is a mere pretext, as the Nauvoo Charter requires that the Nauvoo Legion shall perform the same amount of duty as is now or may hereafter be required of the regular militia of the State, and shall be at the disposal of the Governor for the public defense and the execution of the laws of the State, and be entitled to their proportion of the State arms; and were it not for the prejudice against us on account of our religion, his claim would have been paid without a word of complaint.