Parley P. Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 1839
, History of the Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons, in Which Ten Thousand American Citizens were Robbed, Plundered, and Driven from the State, and Many Others Imprisoned, Martyred, &c. for Their Religion, and All This By Military Force, By Order of the Executive; i–vi, 7–84 pp.; Detroit, MI: Dawson & Bates, 1839. The copy used for this transcription is held at CHL.
While incarcerated at , Missouri, in March 1839, JS addressed a letter to the church “at Illinois and scattered abroad and to in particular,” instructing the Saints to gather up “a knoledge of all the facts and sufferings and abuses put upon them by the people of this state.” (JS et al., Liberty, MO, to the church members and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20 Mar. 1839, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 123:1, 6].) Edward Partridge responded with an account that became the three opening installments of “A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” an eleven-part series published in the church’s Illinois newspaper, Times and Seasons, between December 1839 and October 1840. “A History, of the Persecution” receives comprehensive treatment in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers and is available on this website.
may have intended to tell the entire story himself, but he fell ill shortly after publication of “A History, of the Persecution” began and died on 27 May 1840. Prompted by Partridge’s illness and subsequent death, the editors of the Times and Seasons, and , sought elsewhere for source materials to continue the series. It is probable that they composed the fourth installment to provide a brief transition from Partridge’s account, which ends in 1836, and the conflicts in and adjoining counties beginning in 1838. In April and June 1840, the fifth and seventh installments reprinted passages from ’s History of the Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons (Detroit: Dawson and Bates 1839). The sixth and eighth through tenth installments drew upon ’s pamphlet, An Appeal to the American People. The series concluded with an eleventh installment in October 1840, featuring Missouri militia general ’s callous speech to the Saints after their surrender at , Missouri, in November 1838.
wrote History of the Late Persecution, the document featured here, during his eight-month imprisonment in jails in 1838–1839. His wife, , daringly smuggled the manuscript out of the jail. After his escape on 4 July 1839 and reunion with the Saints in , Pratt left on a mission to England with the Twelve Apostles. When he reached he paused to visit relatives and arranged for the publication of his history there, obtaining a copyright for his book on 30 September 1839. Revised versions were subsequently reprinted in in 1840 as a pamphlet under the same title and as an expanded hardback with the title Late Persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints. (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 89–90, 100–103.) Pratt later drew upon his history when he composed his autobiography in the 1850s.
’s History of the Late Persecution provides an autobiographical account of events in , , , and counties, Missouri, beginning in 1833. Some of the material describing events that transpired in Jackson County in 1833 was drawn from an earlier publication Pratt co-authored with and , “‘The Mormons’ So Called.” History of the Late Persecution also rehearses the conflict that engulfed Caldwell and Daviess counties, the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri, the mistreatment of Mormon prisoners by Missouri authorities, and the smuggling of Pratt’s manuscript copy of the History from jail, concluding with his narrow escape from imprisonment in Columbia, Missouri.
, &c. and when the mob saw them approach they fled. But one of their number, a , was caught in the act of throwing rocks in at the door, while the goods lay strung around him in the street. He was immediately taken before , Esq. and a warrant requested, that said might be secured; but his justiceship refused to do any thing in the case, and was then liberated.
The same night many of their houses had poles and rails thrust through the shutters and sash, into the rooms of defenceless women and children, from whence their husbands and fathers had been driven by the acts of the mob which were made by ten or twenty men upon one house at a time. On Saturday, the 2d of November, all the families of these people who lived in , moved out of town about one half mile west, and embodied for the preservation of themselves and property. Saturday night a party of the mob made an attack upon a settlement about six miles west of town. Here they tore the roof from a dwelling, broke open another house, found the owner, Mr. David Bennet, sick in bed; him they beat inhumanly, and swore they would blow his brains out, and discharging a pistol, the ball cut a deep gash across the top of his head. In this skirmish one of their men was shot in the thigh.
On Sunday evening, about sunset, and a set out on horseback to visit the Circuit Judge at Lexington, a distance of some forty miles. We were under the necessity of going the most private paths across the country, in order to avoid our enemies; but we had a most faithful pilot, who knew every crook and turn of the country. We had rode but a few miles, when it became so extremely dark that we could not see each other. Our pilot dismounted several times and felt his way; but at length we came to a halt, and lay down upon the ground until it [p. 15]