, 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.
their eyes, would leap for joy on seeing rebuilt by the Jews, and their ancient order of worship restored; for it would be ominous of the speedy advent of the Son of God, by whose Almighty power, the earth will be cleansed and purified, and creation cease to groan. Let us, therefore, tell you, that you now have an opportunity to take a part in this glorious work, by extending the helping hand to those messengers who are sent by the express appointment of Heaven to gather in the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth; and in the name of Israel’s great and mighty shepherd, we put up our petition to you, to show favor to us for Judah’s sake. We assure all men that there is no consideration of an earthly kind, that could induce us to turn our backs upon the pleasures of domestic life—bid farewell to our own native —encounter the dangers of the watery element—to seek friends among strangers, and to associate ourselves with people whose language, manners, customs, habits and religion, are entirely dissimilar to our own; but from a conviction of duty, of the strongest kind—a duty which we owe to our follow-men, and to our God, upon whose Almighty arm, alone, we rely for protection. A consideration of these things, induces us to go forth, regardless of consequences, armed with the sword of the spirit, persuading all men every where, both Jew and Greek, bond and free, noble and ignoble, rich and poor, to prepare for the great day of the Lord which is nigh at hand.
Letter of commendation from the Conference at , to Elders and , appointing and confirming their appointment to the work whereunto they have been called.
“To all people unto whom these presents shall come, Greeting:
Be it known that we, the constituted authorities of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, assembled in Conference, at , Hancock county, and State of Illinois, on this sixth day of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred and forty, consider an important event at hand—an event involving the interest and fate of the gentile nations throughout the world. From the signs of the times, and from declarations contained in the oracles of God, we are forced to come to this conclusion. The Jewish nation have been scattered abroad among the gentiles for a long period; and in our estimation, the time of the commencement of their return to the “holy land,” has already arrived.
As this scattered and persecuted people are set among the gentiles as a sign unto them of the second coming of the Mesiah, and also, of the overthrow of the present kingdoms and governments of the earth by the potency of his Almighty arm, in scattering famine and pestilence like the frosts and snows of winter, and in sending the sword, with nation against nation to bathe it in each others blood; it is highly important, in our opinion, that the present views and movements of the Jewish people be sought after, and laid before the American people for their consideration, their profit and their learning; feeling it to be our duty to employ the most efficient means in our power to save the children of men from the “abomination that maketh desolate.” We have, by the counsel of the Holy Spirit, appointed Elders and , the bearers of these presents, faithful and worthy ministers of Jesus Christ, to be our agents and representatives in foreign lands, to visit the cities of , Amsterdam, Constantinople and , and also other places which they may deem expedient; to converse with the priests, rulers and elders of the Jews, and obtain from them all the information possible; and communicate the same to some principal papers for publication, that it may have a general circulation throughout the .
As Messrs. and have willingly and cheerfully accepted the [p. v]