Memorial to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 28 November 1843
JS and 3,418 others, Memorial, , Hancock Co., IL, to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, , 28 Nov. 1843; handwriting of ; signatures of memorialists; fifty-three pages; Records of the United States Senate, Record Group 46, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC. Transcription from digital images of the document provided by the National Archives, Washington DC.
The memorial was presented to Congress as one long scroll, with all the pages attached together. This website presents all of the rectos first and then all of the versos. On the verso of the first page, an unidentified scribe docketed the memorial after the pages were attached together. The remaining versos are blank except for the notation “Ramus” on the verso of page 45.
In early November 1843, in , Illinois, JS accepted a proposal from Colonel to help prepare a memorial to the Congress on behalf of members of the . Frierson was a United States surveyor, , Illinois resident, and outsider to the church who knew about and sympathized with the Saints’ suffering during the persecutions of the 1830s. Having learned that JS and the Saints were planning to petition the United States Congress to secure redress for their losses, Frierson offered in October 1843 to assist with their attempt to obtain justice. After learning of Frierson’s willingness to help the Saints petition Congress, JS wrote a letter on 2 November 1843, inviting him to come to Nauvoo.
On 25 November 1843, arrived in and the next morning met with church leaders at the , where he listened to several affidavits about the Saints’ treatment in . Conversation about the Missouri experience lasted throughout the day. Beyond these affidavits, it is unclear what other documents Frierson had access to as he drafted the memorial. He likely consulted a copy of a 27 January 1840 memorial to Congress that JS, , and prepared because the document that Frierson helped create both follows the structure of and contains phrases from this earlier petition. The 27 January 1840 memorial was also the model for two other memorials to Congress dated 28 November 1840 and 10 January 1842. Differences between the featured document and the 27 January 1840 memorial are noted in the annotations herein.
The most notable difference between this and prior memorials is the 3,419 names appended to the petition. Efforts to collect signatures began immediately after the memorial was completed on 28 November 1843. The next day, left and returned to to gather signatures there. That afternoon, a group of Nauvoo citizens met to discuss the memorial and organize efforts to find signatories. Signatures were collected on loose sheets of paper, which were then gathered and rolled up in a scroll. When unrolled, the memorial measured fifty feet.
The memorial summarizes the experiences of the Saints in , from their settlement in 1831 to their expulsion beginning in 1838. It is measured in its descriptions of Missouri persecutions, providing general descriptions of suffering along with accounts of property loss. It informs members of Congress that all attempts to secure redress at the state and federal levels have failed and closes with a vague petition for relief.
On 29 November 1843, JS read the memorial to a group of citizens who gathered to discuss measures for securing redress from the persecutions. When this meeting reconvened on 4 December 1843, the memorial was read again and unanimously approved by a vote of those present. On 16 December 1843, JS and the Nauvoo City Council signed the memorial. , who was assigned to convey the document to , left Nauvoo for the capital in March 1844. On 5 April 1844, Senator of presented the memorial to Congress. The Senate then referred it to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, which took no action in responding to the Latter-day Saint request.
used ’s text to make several copies, including the version sent to Congress, featured here with the pages of signatures attached.
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–2005, the Continental Congress, September 5, 1774, to October 21, 1788, and the Congress of the United States, from the First through the One Hundred Eighth Congresses, March 4, 1789, to January 3, 2005, inclusive. Edited by Andrew R. Dodge and Betty K. Koed. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005.
JS indicated previously that he would aid Frierson’s investigation of the Saints’ treatment in Missouri by providing him “with documents and evidence to substantiate all the necessary facts.” In his journal entry for 26 November 1843, Wilford Woodruff only noted that the above affidavits were read. The entry suggests that Woodruff arrived after the meeting commenced, thereby opening the possibility that other documents were reviewed before he arrived. (Letter to Joseph L. Heywood, 2 Nov. 1843; Woodruff, Journal, 26 Nov. 1843.)
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.
The 28 November 1840 memorial is a nearly word-for-word copy of the 27 January 1840 memorial. Beyond the omission of a few passages, the primary difference between the 28 November 1840 and the 27 January 1840 memorials is the conclusion. The 27 January 1840 memorial closes by informing Congress that this will be the Saints’ only attempt to appeal for redress—“To your decision, favorable or otherwise, we will submit.” The 28 November 1840 memorial, however, omits this phrase in its concluding argument. The 10 January 1842 memorial is an almost identical copy of the 28 November 1840 memorial. (Memorial to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, ca. 30 Oct. 1839–27 Jan. 1840; “Latter-day Saints,” Alias Mormons: The Petition of the Latter-day Saints, Commonly Known as Mormons, H.R. Doc. no. 22, 26th Cong., 2nd Sess. , 13; Elias Higbee et al., Memorial to Congress, 10 Jan. 1842, photocopy, Material Relating to Mormon Expulsion from Missouri, CHL; see also Edward Partridge, Memorial to U.S. Congress, ca. Jan. 1839, Edward Partridge Papers, CHL; Memorial of Ephraim Owen, Jr., H. R. Doc. no. 42, 25th Cong., 3rd Sess. .)
“Latter-day Saints,” Alias Mormons: The Petition of the Latter-day Saints, Commonly Known as Mormons. House of Representatives doc. no. 22, 26th Cong., 2nd Sess. (1840).
Material Relating to Mormon Expulsion from Missouri, 1839–1843. Photocopy. CHL. MS 2145.
The petition also stands apart because of the brevity of its main text. While consulting with Illinois representatives in December 1839 about securing an audience with Congress, JS and Elias Higbee were advised “that a memorial and petition be drawn up in a concise manner.” Of these four memorials, the 28 November–16 December 1843 petition is the most condensed. (Letter to Seymour Brunson and Nauvoo High Council, 7 Dec. 1839.)
Minutes, 29 Nov. 1843. It is possible that the assessors and collectors of Nauvoo wards participated in gathering signatures. A note on the verso of one of the signature pages indicates that the names were gathered from the “1s. Ward,” suggesting that the process of collecting signatures was organized and methodical. (Minutes, 29 Nov. 1843.)
Johnson, Clark V., ed. Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833–1838 Missouri Conflict. Religious Studies Center Monograph Series 16. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1992.
Congressional Globe, 28th Cong., 1st Session, p. 482 (1844); see also Orson Pratt, Washington DC, to Hon. John Berrien, Washington DC, 11 May 1844, in Pratt, Prophetic Almanac for 1845, 18–19; Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774–1996, 655, 1801.
The Congressional Globe, Containing Sketches of the Debates and Proceedings of the First Session of the Twenty-Eighth Congress. Vol. 13. Washington DC: Blair and Rives, 1844.
Pratt, Orson. Prophetic Almanac for 1845. Being the First after Bissextile or Leap Year. Calculated for the Eastern, Middle and Western States and Territories, the Northern Portions of the Slave States, and British Provinces. New York: Prophet Office, 1845.
Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774–1996: The Continental Congress, September 5, 1774, to October 21, 1788, and the Congress of the United States from the First through the Ninety-First Congress March 4, 1789, to January 3, 1971, Inclusive.
To the honorable the Senate and house of Representatives of the , in Congress assembled
The Memorial of the undersigned Inhabitants of in the State of respectfully sheweth:
That they belong to the Society of , commonly called Mormons, that a portion of our people commenced settling in 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 . 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 this memorial and lay them before your honorable body.
On the 20th. of July 1833 a mob collected at , a deputation or Committee from which, called upon a few members of our there, and stated to them that the , , and all Mechanic Shops belonging to our people must be closed forthwith, and the Society leave the 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 , a valuable two story brick building, was destroyed by the Mob, and with it much valuable property; they next went to the 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; 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. A man by the name of 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 defenceless 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 by the first of January, and the remainder by the first 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 of & Co. 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 [p. 1]
Missourians listed their grievances against the Saints in a circa 15 July 1833 epistle. The Saints were characterized as blaspheming God “by p[r]etending to receive revelations”; were “lazy Idle and vicious”; and were “inviting free negroes and mulatoes from other States to become mormons” in Missouri. (Whitmer, History, 39–42.)
Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.