Letter from Elias Higbee, 20 February 1840–A

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Feb. 20th., 1840
Dear Brother
I have just returned from the committee room, wherein I spoke about one half <​hour​> and a half, there were but three of the committee present, for which I am very sorry. I think they will be obliged to acknowledge the justice of our cause. They paid good— attention; and I think what was said were well recd. It was a special meeting appointed to here me by my request. The Senators and Representatives were invited to attend. & attended, and God gave me courage so that I was not intimidated by them , I thought, felt a little uneasy by times; but manifested a much better Spirit afterwards than . I told them firstly that I represented a suffering people,— who had been deprived together with myself of their rights in : who numbered something like 15 thousand souls; and not only they but many others were deprived of the rights guarenteed to us by the constitution of the ; at least the amount of one hundred and fifty thousand free born Citizens are deprived the enjoyment of citizenship in each or every State: that we had no ingress in the state of ; nor could any of us have only at the expense of our lives, and this by the order of the Executive. I then took their own declaration of the cause of our expulsion: refered them to ’s Pamphlet, which [p. 97] I held in my hand, then showed that the first accusation, therein contained, was on account of our religious tenets, furthermore that the other were utterly groundless. I went on to prove that the whole pursecution from beginning to end was grounded on our be religious faith— For evidence of this I refered them to ’s testimony and P. Powell’s I stated that there were abundant testimony to prove this to be a fact among documents. I then gave a brief history of the persecutions from the first settlement in the to our final expulsion. I also stated that the society were industrious, inoffensive, and innocent of crime; had the Times & Seasons, from which I read ’ letter to : I also refered to ’s letter from Pike County, the Clerk’s & other’s respecting our caracter <​character​>— in their sections of country I gave them some hints of the massacre and the murder of the two little Boys but refered them more particularly to the documents for information concerning those things, and furthermore that I had not come here to instruct them in what they were to do in this case; but to present them with the facts— having all confidence in this honorable body (the Congress) believing them to be honorable men. I demanded, from them a restitution of all our rights and privileges as citizens of the , and damages for all the losses we had sustained in consequence of our persecutions and expulsion from the state. And told them we could have recourse no where else on earth that I knew of— that we could not sue an Army of Soldiers. neither could we go into the to sue any body else. I told them that I knew not how far Congress had jurisdiction in this case or how far they had not, but as far as they had, we claimed the exercise of it for our relief; for we were an injured people These and some other were the principle subjects of my speech— after which, said he was once in the Mormon’s favor; but afterwards learned that it was impossible to live among them—for they stole their neighbor’s hogs—and there being so much testimony he believed it. &c &c, I replied something like [p. 98] this— making statements was one thing and proving them was another. then said he wished me to answer one thing. Viz. If the Legislature of did not refuse to investigate the subject of our difficulties, solely on account of the trials then pending— In reply I assured him that I knew they had refused us an investigation; but as to that being the cause I did not know— but told him, they might have done it, when those trials were discharged— He seemed to think it injustice for Congress to take it up before the Legislature had acted on it— I occupied all but a few minutes of the time when the Senate was to go into session, so they adjourned untill the morrow at 10 o’clock; when the Missourians are to reply. observed, that there was a gentleman, whom he would have before the Committee on the morrow; who lived in the upper part of , that knew everything relative to the affair— I presume he is to put in his gab. I suppose I must attend the committee as I am solicited by the chairman— but I would rather take a flogging; because I must sit still, and hear a volubility of lies concerning myself and Bretheren— Lies I say for they have nothing save Lies to a tell that will in the least degree justify their conduct in . said he has written to to get all the evidence taken before . So, that if the thing must come up he would be prepared to have a full investigation of the matter. And that the committee should have power to send for persons, papers &c &c. In my remarks I stated that an article of the constitution was violated in not granting compulsory process for witnesses in behalf of the prisoners— and that the main evidence adduced, upon which they were committed (as I understood) was from ; who once belonged to our society, and was compelled to swear as suited them best in order to save his life; that I knew him to be a man whose character was the worst, I ever [p. 99] [knew] in all my as<​soc​>iations or intercourse with mankind. And that I had evidence by affidavits before them of five or six respectable men, to prove that all he swore to was false. Bretheren and Sisters I want your special prayers, that God may give me wisdom, to manage this case according to his will; and that he will protect me from our foes, both publickly & privately—
Yours in the bonds of love
J. Smith Jr. [p. 100]