, 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.
To the Honorable Legislature of the State of , in Senate and House of Representatives convened.
We, the undersigned petitioners, inhabitants of , Missouri, in consequence of the late calamity that has come upon us, taken in connection with former afflictions, feel it a duty we owe to ourselves and our , to lay our case before your honorable body for consideration.
It is a well known fact, that a society of our people commenced settling in , Missouri, in the summer of 1831, where they, according to their ability, purchased lands and settled upon them with the intention of becoming permanent citizens in common with others.
Soon after the settlement began, persecution began, and as the society increased, persecution also increased, until the society at last was compelled to leave the . And although an account of these persecutions has been published to the world, yet we feel that it will not be improper to notice a few of the most prominent items in this memorial.
On the 20th of July, 1833, a mob convened at , a committee of which called upon a few of the men of our church there, and stated to them that the , , and indeed all other mechanic shops must be closed forthwith, and the society leave the immediately. These propositions were so unexpected, that a certain time was asked for to consider on the subject before an answer should be returned, which was refused, and our men being individually interrogated, each one answered that he could not consent to comply with their propositions. One of the mob replied that he was sorry, for the work of destruction would commence immediately. In a short time, the , which was a two story building, was assailed by the mob and soon thrown down, and with it much valuable property destroyed. Next they went to the for the same purpose, but , one of the owners, agreeing to close it, they abandoned their design. Their next move was the dragging of from his house and family to the public square, where, surrounded by hundreds, they partially stripped him of his clothes, and tarred and feathered him from head to foot. A man by the name of was also tarred at the same time. This was Saturday, and the mob agreed to meet the following Tuesday, to accomplish their purpose of driving or massacreing the society. Tuesday [p. 53]