, 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.
cers and to the judge of the court to get them to send to the , if necessary, and put an end to the ravages of this banditti—and after much exertion and much labor at last the judge ordered out the militia. was ordered out as the commander-in-chief; being a major general. Brigadier Generals and , were both ordered out with their brigades. They put their forces under orders, and took up their line of march for , the scene of trouble.
On their arrival they took a position between where the mob was encamped and . Instead, however, of these generals, which was their duty to have done, going and arresting this band of plunderers and murderers, which they truly were, and having them forthwith brought to justice; they went to tampering with them. The mob complained to them that their property had been stolen and destroyed by the saints. The officers went to their houses which they had evacuated, and found some of them open, and all their property in them as they left it, and nothing disturbed. They continued the investigation until they became satisfied that if any of their (the mob’s) property was taken, they took it themselves to raise a false alarm; or at least the officers all said so. The mob openly and fearlessly declared to them that ‘they lived on Mormon beef and Mormon corn.’ The Saints required of the officers that they should be arrested and brought to justice for plundering their property; unlawfully assembling to drive peaceable citizens from their homes, and for threatening their lives and keeping them in fear, in open violation of the laws of the country. When these things were pressed upon them they excused the matter by saying that their troops were so mutinous and rebellious they dare not venture to do it. The course they took to quell the mob, however, was a singular one; and if those gentlemen think that in doing as they did they discharged their duty, and can feel as if their oath of office required no more at their hand we have no more to say, but will let the sovereign people give their decision, and the God of eternity dispose of them and the matter as seemeth wisdom and justice in his eyes.
After tampering with them as we before stated, and after having the fullest evidence that could be given, even that of their own testimony, that they were a gang of thieves and plunderers, they took , the reputed leader of the gang, and united him and his company with their troops and called them militia, just as had done with the mob in , and after this manoeuver, disbanded them and sent them home, as if they had been militia regularly called out.
It would take a volume larger than our present purpose will admit to tell all the outrages committed by this banditti of plunderers; for it was precisely with them as it had been with the mobs of and counties. Corn-fields were laid open by them to be destroyed by beasts, and carried off in wagon loads to feed their horses—cattle were killed in multitudes. There were one hundred head of cattle, belonging to the Saints, which were missing, and have never been obtained to this day, nor heard of. Horses also were taken that belonged to them, a great number of them, and have not been obtained since. Some of them have since been heard of, but the [p. 24]