, 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; 1–84 pp.; Cincinnati, OH: Glezen and Shepard, stereotypers and printers, 1840. The copy used herein is held at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
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 .” 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 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 in 1838. The fifth and seventh installments reprinted passages from ’s History of the Late Persecutions Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons (Detroit: Dawson and Bates, 1839). In May 1840, the sixth installment reprinted passages from ’s eighty-four page pamphlet, 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 (Cincinnati: Glezan and Shepard, 1840). More of Rigdon’s work was reprinted in the eighth through tenth installments, published from July to September 1840. The series concluded with an eleventh installment in the October 1840 issue, featuring General ’s callous speech to the Saints after their surrender at , Missouri, in November 1838.
A manuscript version of ’s Appeal to the American People, referred to as the “petition draft” titled “To the Publick” and endorsed by JS, Rigdon, and , was read to a conference of Saints in , Illinois, on 1 November 1839. The conference voted to approve its publication in the name of the church. and then collaborated to arrange for publication of the text in late 1839 and early 1840. Though no author is named on the title page, Rigdon was acknowledged as author when the pamphlet was advertised in the Times and Seasons in 1840 and 1841. JS and Elias Higbee had some expectation that funds from the sale of the publication would help defray costs of their trip to in late 1839. In July 1840, a second edition was printed by Shepard & Stearns in to raise funds for Orson Hyde and ’s mission to .
Although many of the events reported in ’s pamphlet can be corroborated from other sources, his chronology is often inaccurate. (Consult the annotation in Histories, Volume 2 for correction to portions published as part of “A History, of the Persecutions.”) However, his account contains the text of several significant documents. Among these are JS’s 5 September 1838 affidavit concerning the 7 August 1838 visit to and those of and and regarding the massacre. Consequently, though in many respects Rigdon’s document is more advocacy than history, it offers access to some material not readily found elsewhere.
army was on their march to , they passed through . demanded the prisoners; they were accordingly given up. He said he had the authority of to do so. They were marched off with the troops and set at liberty, after they had been convicted at a court of inquiry, and holden to bail for their appearance, at the Circuit Court. Thus were the laws of the land put at defiance, to save from punishment, a mob[b]er and plunderer, and that, by the judge of the Circuit Court, who was bound by oath, to do otherwise.— There were three persons arrested, the principal of which was , the others were only hired in his service.
This arrest took place on the 9th day of Sept. 1838, on the first day of the week, and it was in the same week that Generals , and , went with their troops to . It was during the operation of this mob, the saints had a fair opportunity of trying the honesty of the civil officers of . An old gentleman from , by the name of Hoops, was moving into . He had to pass through Millport, the residence of the principal leaders of the mob. , whose name has been mentioned before, stopped his team forcibly in the road, abused and insulted the family. Mr. Hoops, was an entire stranger in the : he was detained a number of hours before he could get away from them. The old man went to a Justice of the Peace, and got a States Warrant for him, gave it to an officer, and had it served on him as they said, and had a day appointed for the trial.— When the day came, was not there, but another man was permitted to answer for him; and after the witnesses were all sworn, and the facts of the unlawful detention proven, the justice pronounced, no cause of action. , in the meantime, had gone to Corrill [Carroll] County, to join another mob, which had met, to drive out a settlement of the saints which had settled in that County. The name of the justice was Covington. It was found that in every County in upper , the law[s] would not be put in force against the mob. The civil officers would not regard their oaths, but in open violation of [p. 33]