, An Appeal to the American People: Being an Account of the Persecutions of the Church of Latter Day Saints; and of the Barbarities Inflicted on Them by the Inhabitants of the State of Missouri, second edition; i-vi, 7–60 pp.; Cincinnati, OH: Shepard and Stearns, 1840. The copy used herein is held at CHL.
A manuscript draft of this pamphlet, simply titled “To the Publick” was presented to a conference of church members at , Illinois, on 1 November 1839. The conference voted to approve the manuscript and authorized its publication on behalf of the church. The pamphlet, when published, carried the endorsement of JS, , and as “Presidents of said Church.”
and collaborated on the publication of the text, which was available in print by May 1840. Though no author is named on the title page, was acknowledged as author in an 1840 Times and Seasons newspaper article, and when the pamphlet was advertised in that church periodical in 1841. JS and held some expectation that funds from the sale of An Appeal would eventually help defray costs of their late-1839 trip to .
By July 1840, and had been authorized to produce a second, revised edition to be published by Shepard & Stearns in . Page related some of the circumstances surrounding its publication and circulation in a letter sent to JS, “. . . at [Ohio] we parted for a few days . . . Elder Hyde went to Cincinnati where in my absince he published a second Edition of the ‘Apeal to the American people’ (2000 copies)[.] when I arrived the work was about completed[.] after disposing of as many of them as posible and suplying the market about cincinnati and the adjacient country he left me with some fourteen or fifteen hundred on hand, to dispose of” (John E. Page, Philadelphia, PA, to JS et al., Nauvoo, IL, 1 Sept. 1841, JS Collection, CHL). Funds from this printing were to be for the express purpose of subsidizing Hyde and Page’s imminent mission to in Palestine.
The second edition was essentially a lightly edited reprint of the first, with a four-page “Publisher’s Preface” added. In the preface, and noted the purpose of the publication, explained the severe hardships imposed by the persecutions upon Page’s own family, provided a detailed account of a vision experienced by Hyde, and expressed enthusiasm about the prospects of the mission. The preface also contained a copy of an official letter of appointment and commendation for Hyde and Page from an April 1840 church conference at , Illinois, signed by JS, and a letter of reference from , governor of .
Although many of the events reported in both editions of ’s pamphlet can be corroborated from other sources, his chronology of events is often inaccurate. However, Rigdon’s account does contain the texts of several significant documents. Among these are JS’s September 1838 affidavit concerning the 7 August 1838 visit to and those of and regarding the massacre. Consequently, though in many respects Rigdon’s document from a historical perspective is more advocacy than history, it offers access to some important material not readily found elsewhere.
them out of the , under pain of death. The object of those warnings was, to make them go and leave all their property a prey to the mob. At which all the authorities of , from the down, winked, as will appear hereafter. While those committees were threatening the saints with death, if they did not leave the forthwith, and leave all their property a prey to them; they kept the public papers teeming with lies, and they found many papers in the country, ready to aid them in their abomination, by giving circulation to their lies and slanders. This, I must say, to the shame and disgrace of the editors, who have devoted their papers to so foul abuses. The scheme of lying, so readily supported by the papers of the country, generally, was invented for the purpose of plundering, robbing, stealing, and driving a people from their homes, and taking their property as a prey to the freebooters who were ready to seize upon it, when the public papers had sufficiently aided them, to enable them to obtain their object without being punished for it.
After the mob had gotten all things sufficiently prepared, and the public mind, as they supposed, completely blinded, having been so well assisted by the public prints of the day, they commenced their operations in earnest, in every part of the ; tearing down houses, men were dragged out, and whipped in the most shocking manner, without regard to age: Of this number, were four revolutionary soldiers, over the age of seventy years, who had offered their lives for the liberty that their oppressors were enjoying; but they now, with sorrow, beheld the liberty for which they fought, torn from them, by the violence of those who were enjoying freedom at the expense of their blood and treasure. Widows also, from sixty to eighty years of age, whose husbands were among the number of the revolutionary patriots, were driven violently from their houses in that inclement season, by this ruthless banditti of wretches, worse than savages, and their property made common plunder, to gratify their rapacity; and those females at that advanced age, and at an inclement season of the year, had to wander in the open prairie, to seek a cover under the rocks, without a house to shelter, or a blanket to cover them, and all this, because they dared to differ from these, their oppressors, in matters of religion, and for no other cause. The was full of armed men, riding in large companies, from house to house, in every place where the saints were settled, abusing, driving and whipping in a most unmerciful manner, and insulting women brutally. After much abuse and destruction of property, and finding that there was to be no end to these outrages, the saints at last, had recourse to arms; but it was not till after they had petitioned the and authorities of the for aid and protection. was Governor and , Lieutenant Governor; the latter lived in , the seat of the mob, and County seat of . But no aid or protection could be had.
Having sought protection of the authorities of the , and obtained none, the saints at last had recourse to arms. After [p. 9]