Parley P. Pratt et al., “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” 12 December 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

OUR readers will recollect the frequent accounts published in the Star, concerning the outrage in ; and lest we might give them occasion to think, that we devote too large a portion of our columns to this subject, we have issued this Extra, containing a circular recently received from our friends in the West, which corroborates many items heretofore laid before the public. It will be seen, that the more part of the following, or the substance of it, up to Dec. 15, has been previously published; but out of respect to our friends in the West, and the justice of their cause, we consider that it is no more than right, that they should be allowed to speak for themselves upon this awful and unheard of persecution in a republican government!
Facts concerning this afflicted people already before the world, are sufficient to arouse the sympathy of every feeling heart, and cause every true republican to blush at the thought, that men in our country are so destitute of humanity, as to raise an oppressive hand against any people for their religion! None, we presume to say, will forbear to weep at such conduct, but those who are bound, more or ‘l’ess by priestly influence!—-[Editor of the Star.]-
So various have been the reports, concerning this people, that the attempt, at this time, to spread a few facts in relation to their inhospitable reception, and final expulsion from by force of arms, may be unavailing. But through the solicitation of certain candid and influential citizens of this , that there should be sent forth, a hand-bill, detailing in a very brief manner, only the important features of their history in , Missouri; the writers note the follwing facts, passing over every incident except the most important. On the 26th July, 1831, about sixty men, women, and children, landed at landing, from on board the steamer Chieftain, Captain Shalcross.—These were the first settlers of this people in . From this time their emigration continued, until their number became about twelve hundred. As regards their integrity in all their dealings with the world, their industrious habits, and total abstinence from public crime, and violations of the laws of the land, let such individuals as are unconnected with the mob, and have personal knowledge of, and dealings with them, speak in this case; and also, the records of the courts of .
What then, a candid public enquires, is the cause of their extraordinary persecutions? The answer is, their firm belief in the book of Mormon, and the articles and covenants of their Church, as being brought forth by inspiration of Almighty God. In June, 1832, this people established a press in ; and their first paper, entitled the Evening and the Morning Star, was published the same month. In this paper, their faith and doctrines were fully set forth, and through this vehicle, the inhabitants of became acquainted with them; and if those communications published as revelations from God to this generation, are marvelous, the unusual circulation of all manner of falsehoods, concerning this people, is equally marvelous. As early as the spring of 1832, written hand-bills were posted up in various parts of the county of , warning this people to clear from the county; but they were unheeded. In the same season, a meeting of the citizens of the county was called, and a large collection gathered, which terminated with warnings, and wicked threats to the leading men in the Church. After stoning and brick-batting their houses for several nights in succession, the persecution abated in some degree, till the following fall; when a certain man in the village of , whose name was not divulged till the summer of 1833, set fire to, and burnt a large stack of hay, belonging to two of this people. After this, few acts of violence were committed openly by the populace, but continual rumors of a mischievous and wicked nature, too incredible and trifling to be named among the intelligent part of community, were busily circulated among the inhabitants of , and had the desired effect, in exciting and enraging the illiterate class against the Mormons.—One report was, that “the Mormons had declared, that they would have the land of , for the Lord had given it to them, &c.”—Another, that “the Mormons were tampering with the Blacks of said ; and that they were, (to use their term,) colleguing with the Indians, and exciting them to hostilities against the whites, &c.”—Most industriously were reports of this nature daily spread, while the Mormons were entreating for an open and legal investigation into these rumors. But no such step would the leaders of this faction consent to take; but, on the contrary, made every effort to fan the flames, till this demoniac spirit became general, and those few who wished for peace, were compelled to be mute.—Thus did the deep-rooted hatred and malice against their religion rage, under cover of the aforesaid reports. And foreseeing that false impressions against this people were prevailing in adjoining counties, because of wicked fabrications, the conductors of the Star published an address to the Church abroad, in the last July number, headed “Free People of Color,” in which they particularly quoted the two important sections, 4 and 5, from the statute laws of , with a warning to the church, to “shun every appearance of evil.” This communication, being misrepresented by the leaders of the faction, hand-bills were immediately struck off, under date of 16th July, giving full explanation to every rational man of the views of this people, in relation to the Blacks. The hand bills were posted up in the village of , at sundry times, and immediately pulled down by the mob. About this time, the following noted circular was passing through the county for signatures, which reads as follows:
-[Those of our readers who wish to peruse the above mentioned document, we refer to the first number of the Star, published in this : the length of the article prohibits its insertion in this extra.—Editor of the Star.]-
At the time the foregoing circular was put into the hands of the Mormons, there were between 70 and 100 signatures to it; among the number were names of the following, viz. Henry Chiles, Attorney, , Attorney, , Attorney, J. P., John Smith J. P., John Cook J. P., Lewis Franklin, Jailor, , Lt. Colonel militia and constable, Gan Johnson, James P. Hickman, Samuel C. Owens, County Clerk, Colonel of militia, Judge of County Court, John O. W. Hambright, R. W. Cummings, Ind. agent, Jones H. Flournoy P. M., Richard Simpson, &c. Several other circulars, supposed to be of the same tenor as the foregoing, were circulated thro’ the , and hundreds of signatures obtained. Pursuant to the last clause of said circular, the mob met at the court-house on the 20th of July; and from their appearance, it became apparent that nothing but the blood of this defenceless people would appease their wrath, unless God, or the interposed. But through the mercy of God, the execution of their threats was stayed, and July passed without bloodshed. The wicked and wanton manner, in which the of & Co. the type, and books then publishing, the dwelling-house of said , and some furniture, were destroyed; together with the inhuman and degrading treatment of tarring and feathering the of the Church, and one other worthy member, , in the presence of several hundred people, are facts, too notorious to need particular comment here. After compelling Messrs. & to close their store, and pack their goods, (which was done,) the mob adjourned to meet on the 23d July, on which day they again met, to the number of 3 to 500 as was estimated; some armed with fire armes, dirks, and sticks, with their red flags hoisted as they entered town, threatening death and destruction to the Mormons. On this day, six of the Church signed an agreement for themselves, to leave the county of , one half by the 1st January, and the other half by the 1st of April, 1834, hoping thereby to preserve the lives of their brethren, and their property. After said agreement was signed, and the mob harrangued by two of their leaders in the court-house, they dispersed with threats of destruction the next new year’s day, if the Mormons were not off by that time. This people, being wearied with such barbarous usage, made several attempts to effect a settlement in the new county of Van Buren; and several families removed there; but the threats of a majority of that county, so alarmed the women and children, that they were compelled to return. Under these circumstances, a petition was sent by express early in October last, to the of the , praying his Excellency to point out some relief.—The ’s letter, in reply to said petition, is already before the public, in which he pointed out certain legal steps for their safety, and a prosecution of their claims in the courts of law, &c. Accordingly, by advice of the , suits were directed to be commenced in certain cases for damages, in the destruction of property, &c. This was spread and some few honest men in , gave this people warning, that the prosecution of their claims, was arousing the vengeance of the county against them; and that they were determined to come out by night, and tear down houses, kill stock, and probably wound and maim individuals. Having passed through the most aggravated insults and injuries, without making the least resistance, a general inquiry prevailed at this time, thoughout the Church, as to the propriety of self-defence. Some claimed the right of defending themselves, families, and houses from destruction, while others doubted the propriety of self defence; and as the agreement of the 23d July, between the two parties, had been published to the world, wherein it was set forth, that the Mormons were not to leave until the 1st of January, and 1st of April, 1834, it was believed by many of the Mormons, that the leaders of the mob, whose names appeared in the Monitor of that date, would not suffer so barefaced a violation of the agreement, before the time therein set forth; but Thursday night, the 31st of October, gave them abundant proof, that no pledge, written or verbal, was longer to be regarded; for on that night, between 40 and 50 in number, many of whom were armed with guns, proceeded against a branch of the Church west of Big-Blue, and unroofed, and partly demolished, ten dwelling houses; and in the midst of the shrieks and screams of women and children, whipped and beat, in a savage and brutal manner, several of the men; and with their horred threats, frightened women and children into the wilderness. Such of the men as could escape, fled for their lives; for very few of them had arms, neither were they embodied; and they were threatened with death if they made resistance; such, therefore, as could not escape by flight, received a pelting by rocks, and a beating with guns, sticks, &c. On Friday, the 1st November, women and children sallied forth from their gloomy retreats, to contemplate with heart rending anguish, the ravages of a ruthless mob, in the mangled bodies of their husbands, and in the destruction of their houses, and some of their furniture. Houseless, and unprotected by the arm of civil law in , the dreary month of November staring them in the face, and loudly proclaiming a more inclement season, at hand; the continual threats of the mob, that they would drive every Mormon from the ; and the inability of many to remove, because of their poverty, caused an anguish of heart indiscribable.
On Friday night, the 1st of November, a party of the mob, proceeded to attack a branch of the church at the prairie, about twelve or fourteen miles from the .—Two of their numbers were sent in advance, as spies, viz, Robert Johnson, and one Harris, armed with two guns, and three pistols. They were discovered by some of the Mormons, and without the least injury being done to them, said Johnson struck Pratt; with the britch of his gun, over the head; after which they were taken and detained till morning; which, it was believed, prevented a general attack of the mob that night. In the morning, they were liberated without receiving the least injury. The same night (Friday,) another party in , commenced stoning houses, breaking down doors and windows, desstroying furniture &c. This night, the brick part, attached to the dwelling house of , was partly pulled down, and the windows of his dwelling broken in with brick batts and rocks; while a gentleman stranger lay sick with a fever in his house. The same night, three doors of the store of Messrs. and , were split open; and after midnight, the goods lay scattered in the streets, such as calicoes, handkerchiefs, shawls, cambricks, &c; to which fact upwards of twenty witnesses can attest. An express came from the village after midnight, to a party of their men, who had embodied about half a mile from the , for the safety of their lives; stating that the mob were tearing down houses, and scattering the goods of the store in the street. The main body of the mob fled, at the approach of this company. One was caught in the act of throwing rocks and brick batts into the doors while the goods lay strung around him in the street, and was immediately taken before , Esq. and a complaint there made to said , and a warrant requested, that said might be secured; but said refused to do any thing in the case at that time.—said was then liberated. The same night, some of their houses in the , had long poles thrust through the shutters and sash, into the rooms of defenceless women and children, from whence their husbands and fathers had been driven by the dastardly attacks of the mob, which was made by ten, fifteen, or twenty men upon a house at a time. Saturday the second November, all the families of this people, in the , moved about half a mile out, with most of their goods; and embodied to the number of thirty, for the preservation of life and personal effects. This night, a party from the , met a party from west of the Blue, and made an attack upon a branch of the church, located at the Blue, about six miles from the , here, they tore the roof from one dwelling, and broke open another house, found the owner sick in bed, viz, David Bennet, whom they beat inhumanly, swearing they would blow out his brains, and discharged a pistol, the ball of which cut a deep gash across the top of his head. In this skirmish, a young man of the mob, was shot in the thigh; but, by which party remains yet to be determined. The next day, (Sunday,) November, the third, four of the church, viz. , , and two others, were dispatched for Lexington, to see the circuit Judge, and obtain a peace warrant. Two called on Esq. Silvers, who refused to issue one, on account, as he has declared, of his fears of the mob. This day many of the citizens, professing friendship, advised this people to clear from the , as speedily as possible; for the Saturday night affray had “enraged the whole , and they were determined to come out on Monday, and massacre indiscriminately; and in short, it was proverbial among the mob, that Monday would be a bloody day.—Monday came, and a large party of the mob gathered at the Blue, took the ferry boat, belonging to the church, threatened their lives, &c. But they soon abandoned the ferry, and went to Wilson’s store, about one mile west of the Blue. Word had previously gone to a branch of the church, several miles west of the Blue, that the mob were destroying property, on the east side of the Blue; and the sufferers there, wanted help, to preserve lives and property. Nine [p. [1]]teen men volunteered, and started for their assistance; but discovering, that fifty or sixty of the mob, had gathered at said Wilson’s, they turned back. At this time, two small boys passed on their way to Wilson’s who gave information to the mob, that the Mormons were on the road west of them. Between forty and fifty of the mob, immediately started on horseback and foot with guns, in pursuit; and after riding about two, or two and a half miles, they discovered them, when the said company of nineteen, immediately dispersed, and fled in different directions: The mob hunted them, turning their horses into a cornfield, belonging to this people, searching their cornfields and houses, threatening women and children that they would pull down their houses and kill them if they did not tell where the men had fled. Thus, they were employed, in hunting the men, and threatning the women; until a company of thirty of the Mormons, from the prairie, armed with seventeen guns, made their appearance. The former company of nineteen had dispersed, and fled, and but one or two of them, had returned to take part in the subsequent battle. On the approach of this latter company of thirty men, some of the mob cried, “fire, G—d d—n you, fire.” Two or three guns were then fired by the mob, which were returned by the other party without loss of time. The public will here remark, that this company is the same, that is represented by the mob, as having gone forth in the evening of the battle bearing the olive branch of peace. The mob retreated early after the first fire, leaving some of their horses in Whitmer’s cornfield; and two of their number, , and Thomas Linvill, dead on the ground. Thus fell , one who, a few days before, had been heard to say, “with ten fellows, I will wade to my knees in blood, but that I will drive the Mormons from . Early the next morning, a respectable woman passed over the battle ground, and discovered the corpse of the said with a gun by his side. Several were wounded on both sides, but none mortally, except one Barber, on the part of the Mormons, who expired the next day. This battle was fought about sunset, Monday November the fourth; & the same night, runners were dispatched in every direction under pretence of calling out—the militia; spreading as they went, ever rumor calculated to alarm and excite the unwary; such as that the Mormons had taken , and the Indians had surrounded it, being colleagued together &c. The same evening November fourth, not being satisfied with breaking open the store of & ; and demolishing a part of the dwelling house of said , the Friday night before; they permitted the said , who was detected on friday night, as one of the number breaking in the doors of the store; to take out a warrant, and arrest the said , and others of the church, for a pretended assault, and false imprisonment of the said . Late in the evening, while the court were proceeding with their trial, in the court house, a gentleman unconnected with the court, as was believed, perceiving the prisoners to be without counsel, and in imminent danger, advised said and his brethren, to elect for jail, as the only alternative to save life: for the north dore was already barred, and an infuriated mob thronged the house, with a determination to beat and kill; but through the interposition of this gentleman, said and four of his brethren were committed to the county Jail of , the dungeon of which, must have been a palace, compared to a court room, where dignity and mercy were strangers; and naught but the wrath of man, in horrid threats, stifled the ears of the prisoners. The same night the said , , and , were liberated from jail, that they might have an interview with their brethren; and try to negotiate some measures for peace; and on their return to jail, about 2 o’clock Tuesday morning, in custody of the deputy sheriff, an armed force, of six or seven men, stood near the jail, and hailed; they were answered by the sheriff, who gave his name, and the names of his prisoners, crying, “dont fire, dont fire, the prisoners are in my charge,” &c. They however fired one or two guns, when and retreated; but stood, with several guns presented at him. Two, more desparate than the rest, attempted to shoot, but one of their guns flashed, and the other missed fire. Said was then knocked down by Thomas Wilson, a grocer in the village. About this time, a few of the inhabitants arrived; and again entered jail, from which, he, with three of his brethren, were liberated about sunrise, without farther prosecution of the trial. On the morning of Tuesday, fifth of November, the began to be crowded with individuals from different parts of the , with guns, &c. and report said, the militia had been called out, under the sanction, or instigation of ; and that one had the command. Among this militia (so called,) were embodied the most conspicuous characters of the mob; and it may truly be said, that the appearance of the ranks of this body, was well calculated to excite suspicions of their honorable designs. Very early on the same morning, several branches of the church received intelligence, that a number of their brethren were in prison, and the determination of the mob was to kill them; and, that the branch of the church near the village of , was in imminent danger, as the main body of the mob were gathered at that place. In this critical situation, about one hundred of the Mormons from different branches volunteered, for the protection of their brethren near , and proceeded on the road toward ; and halted about one mile west of the , where they awaited further information concerning the movements of the mob. They soon learned, that the prisoners were not massacred; and that the mob had not fallen upon the branch of the church near , as was expected. They were also informed, that the militia had been called out for their protection; but in this they placed little confidence; for the body congregated, had every appearance of a couty mob; which subsequent events fully verified, in a large majority of said body. On application to , it was found, that there was no alternative, but for the church to leave the forthwith; and deliver into his hands, certain men, to be tried for murder, said to have been committed by them in the battle the evening before. The arms of this people were also demanded by the . We here remark, that among the committee appointed to receive the arms of the Mormons, were several of the most unrelenting of the old July mob committee; who had directed in the demolishing of the , and the personal injuries of that day, viz. Henry Chiles, Abner Staples, and Lewis Franklin; who have not ceased to pursue the Mormons, from the first to the last, with feelings the most hostile. These unexpected requisitions of the made him appear like one standing at the head of civil, and military law, taking a stretch beyond the constitutional limits of our Republic. Rather than have submitted to these unreasonable requirements, the Mormons would have cheerfully shed their blood in defence of their rights; the liberties of their country, and of their wives and children; but the fear of violating law, in resisting this pretended militia; and the flattering assurances of protection, and honorable usage, promised by , in whom they had reposed confidence up to this period, induced them to submit, believing that he did not tolerate so gross a violation of all law as had been practised in . But how great has been the change, in the views of this gentleman, since these people have been deprived of their arms by stratagem; and upwards of one thousand defenceless men, women, and children, have been driven from their homes, into strange lands, to seek shelter from the wintry blasts, remains yet to be ascertained. The conduct of Colonels and , had long proven them to be open and avowed enemies. Both of these men had their names attached to the foregoing mob circular, as early as July last; the object of which was to drive the Mormons from . With assurances from the and others, that the object was to disarm the combatants on both sides, and that peace would be the result; the Mormons surrendered their arms, to the number of fifty or upwards; and the men present, who were accused of being in the battle the evening before, gave themselves up for trial. After detaining them one day and night, on a pretended trial for murder; in which time they were treatened, brick-batted, &c. said , after receiving a watch of one of the prisoners, to satisfy costs, &c. took them into a cornfield, and said to them, “clear.” After the surrender of their arms, which were used only in self defence, the neighboring tribes of Indians in time of war, let loose upon women and children, could not have appeared more hedious and terrific, than did the companies of ruffians, who went in various directions, well armed, on foot and on horse back; bursting into houses without fear, knowing the arms were secured, frightening distracted women with what they would do to their husbands if they could catch them; warning women and children to flee immediately, or they would tear their houses down over their heads, and massacre them before night. At the head of one of these companies, appeard the REV. , with a gun upon his shoulder, ordering the Mormons to leave the forthwith, and surrender what arms they had. Other pretended preachers of the Gospel took a conspicuous part in the persecution, calling the Mormons the “Common Enemy of mankind,” and exulting in their afflictions. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the fifth and sixth of November, women and children fled in every direction before the merciless mob. One party of about one hundred and fifty women and children fled to the prairie, where they wandered for several days, under the broad canopy of heaven, with about six men to protect them; other parties fled towards the , and took lodging for the night where they could find it. We ought to notice the hospitality of one man, Mr. Barnet, who opened his house for a night’s shelter, to a wandering company of distressed women and children, who were fleeing to the . During this dispersion of women and children, parties of the mob were hunting the men, firing upon some, tying up and whipping others, and several they pursued upon horses for several miles. A small branch of the Church, located on the prairie, about 15 miles from , say 15 to 20 families, had hoped, from the obscurity of their situation, to escape the vengeance of the mob; but on Sunday, the 24th of November, a party of the mob went to them with arms, and presented pistols, commanding them to leave in three days, or they would tear down their houses, &c. For the preservation of life, and personal effects, the most, if not all of said branch, have left their houses, and are now in , encamped on the bank of the . A number of families went into Van Buren county; their whole number of men, women and children, being upwards of 150. An express has just arrived from that place, this 12th of December, with information, that these families are about to be driven from that county; after building their houses and carting their winter’s store of grain, and provisions, 40 or 50 miles. Several families are already fleeing from thence. The contaminating influence of the mob, is predominant in this new county of Van Buren, the whole population of which is estimated at about 30 to 40 families.—The destruction of crops, household furniture, and clothing, is very great; and much of their stock is lost. The main body of the church, are now in , where the people are as kind and accommodating, as could reasonably be expected. The continued threats of death to individuals of this church, if they make their appearance in , prevent the most of them, even at this day, from returning to that county, to secure personal property, which they were obliged to leave in their flight. The public may be assured, that the foregoing is a plain, unvarnished statement of facts, relative to the lawless proceedings of the mob. Interesting matter sufficient for a volume, has been omitted, in the foregoing, that this hand-bill might not be rendered too voluminous; but posterity will record this tragedy, which stands unparalleled in the annals of this Republic. With a firm reliance on that God, who never fails to bring to light the hidden works of darkness; and confiding in the integrity and patriotism of those who hold in high veneration, the beloved constitution of our , we submit the foregoing, being ready to meet it, not only before an earthly tribunal, but before the Great Searcher of all hearts.
December 12, 1833.
P. S. After the foregoing was taken to the press we received the distressing intelligence, that four aged families living near the village of , whose penury and infirmities, incident to old age, forbade a speedy removal, were driven from their houses on Monday night the twenty third inst. -[December,]- by a party of the mob, who tore down their chimneys, broke in their doors and windows, and hurled large rocks into their houses, by which the life of old Mrs. Miller in particular, was greatly endangered. Mr. Miller is aged sixty five years, being the youngest man in the four families. Some of these men have toiled and bled in the defense of their country; and old Mr. Jones, one of the sufferers, served as life guard to General George Washington, in the revolution. Well may the soldier of ’76 contemplate with horror the scenes which surround him at this day in , where liberty, law, and equal rights, are trodden under foot. It is now apparent that no man embracing the faith of this people, whatever be his age or former standing in society, may hope to escape the wrath of the mob, whenever it is in their power to inflict abuse.
We conclude with a few remarks in relation to the celebrated mob circular inserted in the foregoing, from the very features which, it will be seen that they meditated a most daring infraction of the constitution of our , that they might gratify a spirit of persecution against an innocent people. To whom shall blame be attached in this tragedy, when they, in July last, boldly made known their determinations to drive the Mormons from , peacably if they could, forceably if they must, openly declaring, that the arm of the civil law did not afford them a sufficient guarantee against the increasing evils of this religious sect; and in their circular they further say, “we deem it expedient, and of the highest importance, to form ourselves into a Company for the better and easier accomplishment of our purpose;” and conclude with these high toned words: “We therefore agree, that after timely warning; and upon receiving an adequate compensation for what little property they cannot take with them, they refuse to leave us in peace as they found us, we agree to use such means as may be sufficient to remove them; and to this end we each pledge to each other, our lives, our bodily powers, fortunes, and sacred honors.”
The public will here preceive, that since July last, the citizens of have been diligently devising ways and means for the accomplishment of their purpose, which they effected after calling out the Militia in November last. In answer to their bold and daring resolves to guard against anticipated evils, we give the following extract from the s letter in relation to this affair, dated Oct 19th, 1833. “No citizen nor number of citizens has a right to take the redress of their grievances, whether real or imaginary, into their own hands: such conduct strikes at the very existence of society, and subverts the foundation on which it is based.”
As regards the approbrious charges against this church, not only in the said circular, but in subsequent communications, the members thereof are willing, that their examples for a period of more than two years in this region of country, should be taken as a standard to convict or acquit. That all manner of evil will be spoken against them falsely, they expect; but, for all unrighteous slanders of their enemies, God will be their avenger. And will an enlightened public condemn an afflicted people, who have been stricken and smitten, should they ask a share in those rights and privileges, which are the gifts of our great Father in heaven, and are guaranteed unto us by the laws of our country, of which they are now wantonly and inhumanly deprived? [p. [2]]