Parley P. Pratt, Testimony, 1 July 1843 [Extradition of JS for Treason]

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  • Historical Introduction

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, sworn says that he fully concurs in the testimony of the preceding so far as he is acquainted with the same and that Joseph Smith has not been known as Joseph Smith junior for the time stated by he was an eye witness of most of the scenes described <​testified to​> by said during the persecutions of our people in that during the latter part of summer & fall of the year 1838 there were large bodies of the Mob assembled in various places for the avowed object of killing, driving robbing plundering & exterminating the Mormons and actually committed many murders & other depredations as related by the preceding . the was frequently petitioned, as also the other authorities, for redress and protection at length the Judge of the circuit court of the fifth judicial district ordered out somewhere near a 1000 men for the avowed purpose of quelling the mob & protecting the Mormons these being under arms for several weeks did in some measure prevent the mob’s proceedings for some time. After the withdr which withdrew these <​this​> force refusing to put the to further expense for our protection without the s orders from the — The mobs then again collected in great numbers in Carroll, , & counties & expressed their determination to drive the Mormons from the or kill them, they did actually drive them from firing upon some & taking others prisoners— they turned a man by the name of & family out of doors when sick & plundered his house & burned it before his eyes. they also plundered the citizens generally taking their lands houses & property those whose lives were spared precipitably fled to in the utmost distress & consternation & some of them actually died on the way through exposure suffering & destitution— Other parties of the mob were plundering in Da & burning houses in & another party <​of the mob​> were ravaging the south part of [p. 1] in a similar manner— the was again & again petitioned for redress & protection, but utterly refused to render us any assistance whatever. Under these painful & distressing circumstances we had the advice of Generals , & to call out the Militia of & county which was mostly composed of Mormons and to make a general defence, the presiding Judge of gave orders to the of same to call out the Militia, they were called out under the command of who held in <​a​> commission from the , & was the highest military officer in the this force effectually dispersed the Mob in several places. And a portion of them were so organized in the city of that they could assemble themselves upon the shortest notice and were frequently ordered to parade <​assemble​> in the public square of said when circumstances rendered it necessary. in cases of emergyncy. These proceedings against the mob being misrepresented by designing men both to the & <​other​> authoruties & people of the causing <​caused​> great excitement against the Mormons & prof many tried to have it understood that the Mormons were in open rebellion & making war upon the . With these pretences the issued the following exterminating order— (see appeal to american people page 35) <​which was inserted here​>
In the mean time, & , both of , (who had five years previously assisted in driving <​about​> 1200 inhabitants of Mormon citizens from that besides burning 203 houses and assisted <​assisting​> in murdering & p several & plundering the rest) raised forces to the amount of several thousand men & appeared before the city of in battle [p. 2] array. A few of the Militia then paraded in front of the city of which <​caused​> the cowardly assailants to come to a halt at about a mile distant in full view of the . A messenger arrived from them & demanded three persons before they massacred the rest & laid the in ashes. the names of the persons demanded were , & his wife. They gave no authority <​information​> who this army were nor by what authority they came neither had we at that time any knowledge of the ’s order or any of these movements the Mail having been designedly stopped by our enemies for three weeks previously. We had supposed on their first appearance that they were friendly troops sent for our protection, but on receiving this alarming information of their wicked intensions we were much surprised and, sent a with a white flag to enquire of them who they were and what they wanted of us & by whose authority they came this <​flag​> was fired upon by , the Methodist priest, who afterwards told me the same with his own mouth. After several attempts however we got an interview with by which we learned who they were and that they pretended to have been sent by the to exterminate our people. We <​They​> offered no resittance to Upon learning this fact no resistance was offered to their will or wishes they demanded the arms of the Militia, they were given up to them. <​which & forcibly took away them away—​> They then requested that Mr Joseph Smith & other leaders of the church should come into their Camp for consultation and with an assurance of <​giving them a sacred​> promise of protection & safe return; accordingly Messrrs: Joseph Smith, , , & myself started in company with to their Camp when we were soon abruptly met by with several hundreds of his soldiers, in a hostile manner [p. 3]who immediately surrounded us, and set up the most hideous yells that could not <​might​> have been excelled <​supposed​> had they <​to have​> proceeded from the mouths of demons— and marched us as prisoners to their lines— There we <​were​> detained for two days & nights & had to sleep on the ground in the cold month of November in the midst of rain & mud— were continually surrounded with a strong guard whose mouths were filled with cursing & bitterness blackguardism & blasphemy who offered us every abuse & insult in their power both night & day, and many individuals of the army cocked their rifles and taking deliberate aim at our heads swore they would shoot us, while under these circumstances our ears were continually shocked with the relation of the horrid deeds they had committed & of which they boasted of. They related the circumstances in detail of having the previous day disarmed a certain man in his own house & took him prisoner & afterwards beat out his brains with his own gun in presence of their officers they told of other individuals laying here & there in the brush whom they had shot down without resistance & who were laying unburied for the hogs to feed upon. they also named one or two individual females of our society whom they had forcibly bound & twenty or thirty of them one after another committed rape upon. One of these females was a daughter of a respectable family with whom I had been long acquainted and with whom I have since conversed & learnt that it was truly the case, delicacy at present forbids my mentioning the names— I also <​heard​> several of them soldiers acknowledge & of boast of having stolen money in one place, clothing & bedding in another & horses in another, whilst corn, pork & beef were taken by the whole army to support [p. 4]them men & horses & in many cases cattle, & hogs, & sheeps, were shot down & only a small portion of them used the rest left to waste. Of these crimes of which the soldiers boasted the general officers freely conversed & corroborated the same. And even who professed to be opposed to such proceedings acknowledged the truth of them; and gave us several particulars in detail. I believe the <​name of the​> man whose brains they knocked out was Carey & another individual <​who​> had his Chest broken open and several hundred dollars in species taken out was the same whose house the Mob burned at .
After the Mormons were all disarmed compelled them <​gave them a compulsory order for men women & children​> to leave the forthwith without any exceptions— counting it a mercy to spare their lives on these conditions— whilst these things were proceeding, instead of releasing us from confinement & were forcibly added to our number as prisoners — and under a large military escort commanded by , before mentioned, <​we​> were all marched to a distance of between 50 & 60 miles leaving our families & our friends at their mercy in a destitute condition to prepare for a journey of more than 200 miles at the approach of winter without our protection, and every moment exposed to robbery, ravishment & other insult their property robbed & their houses <​& Lands​> already wrested from them— We were exhibited like a caravan of wild animals on the way & in the streets of & were also kept prisoners for a show for several days. In the mean time a had been sent by the to the <​with an additional​> force of 6000 men, from the lower country, to join in his operations against the Mormons. and He soon arrived before [p. 5] with his army, <​&​> confirmed all had done & highly commended <​them​> for their virtues <​forbearance​> & other deeds in bringing about so peaceable and amicable an adjustment of affairs— He kept up the same scene of ravage, plunder, ravishment & depredation for the support & enrichment of his army; even burning the Houses, <​&​> fences rails &c for fuel. He also insisted that every Man, woman & child of the Mormon society, should leave the , except such as he detained as prisoners; stating that the had sent him to exterminate them, but that he would as a mercy <​spare their lives &​> give them untill the first of April following to get out of the . At He also compelled them at the point of the bayonet to sign a deed of trust of all their real estate to defray the expenses of what he called “The Mormon WarAfter arranging all these matters to his satisfaction he returned to 30 miles distance taking about 60 heads of families with him & marching <​them​> through a severe snow storm on foot as prisoners; leaving their families in a perishing condition.
Having established his head Quarters at Ray County, he sent to & demanded us to be given up to him. We were accordingly transported some 30 or 40 miles, delivered over to him & put in close confinement, in chains under a strong guard— At length we obtained an interview with him & enquired why we were detained as prisoners? I said to him Sir we have now been prisoners under the most aggravating circumstances for two or three weeks, during which time we have received no information as to why we are prisoners or for what object, as no writ has been served upon us, we are not [p. 6] detained by the civil law: and as ministers of the gospel in time of peace who never bear arms we cannot be considered prisoners of war, especially as there has been no war. And from present appearances we can hardly be considered prisoners of hope. Why then these bonds? Said he you were taken to be tried, Tried by what authority, said I? By Court Martial replied he. By Court Martial! said I! Yes said he. How says I. Can Men who are not Military Men, but ministers of the Gospel be tried by Court Martial, in this where every man has a right to be tried by a Jury? He replied it was according to the Treaty with on the part of the State of , & on the commanding Officer of the Fortress of , on the part of the Mormons— and in accordance with the ’s orders. And said he, I approve of all that has done & am determined to see it fulfilled. Said I, was but a Colonel of the Militia & commissioned by the . And the Mormons had no Fortress; but were in common with others, Citizens of and therefore we recognise no authority in , to sell our liberties or make treaties for us.
Several days afterwards again entered our prison and said, he had concluded to deliver us over to the civil authorities. accordingly we were soon brought before , judge of the fifth circuit. Where an examination was commenced & witnesses sworn at the point of the bayonet & threatened on pain of death, if they did not swear to that which would suit the Court. During this examination I heard [p. 7] ask one of the witnesses who was a Mormon if “he & his friends intended to live on their lands any longer than April and to plant crops? Witness replied why not? The replied if you once think to plant crops or to occupy your lands any longer than the 1st. day of April. The citizens will be upon you, they will kill you every one, men, women & children, & leave you to manure the ground without a burial. They have been mercifully withheld restrain from doing this on the present occasion, but will not be restrained for the future. On examining a Mormon witness for the purpose of substantiating a <​the​> charge of treason against Mr Smith, he questioned him concerning the <​our​> religious faith— First. Do yo Do the Mormons send Missionaries to foreign nations? secondly The witness answered in the affirmative— secondly Do the Mormons believe a certain passage in the Book of Daniel? naming the passage which reads as follows. “<​And​> The Kingdom & dominion under the “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” See Danl. 7 c. 27 v. On being answered in the affirmative. The ordered the scribe to put it down as a strong point for treason, but this was too much for even a Lawyer to bear, he remonstrated against such a course of proceedure but in vain— Said he, you had better make <​the​> Bible treason.” After an examination of this kind for many days, some were set at liberty, others admitted out on bail, and themselves and bail expelled from the forthwith— with the rest of the Mormons citizens— And Joseph Smith, , [p. 8] , , & others were committed to gaol [jail] for further trial— Two or three others & <​myself​> were put into the gaol at for the same purpose— The Mormon people now began to leave the country <​​> agreeably to the exterminating order of — Ten or twelve thousand left the during the winter & fled to the State of — A small number of Widows & the poor together with my family & some of the friends of the other prisoners still lingered in , when a small band of armed men entered the & committed many depredations & threatened life. and swore that they wo if my & children & others whom they named were not out of the a <​in so​> many days they would kill them, as the time now drew near for the completion of the exterminating order of Accordingly my & children <​& others​> left the as fast as <​best​> they could & arrived near <​wandered to​> the State of , there to get a living among strangers, without a husband, father, or protector. Myself & party still remained in prison after all the <​other​> Mormons had left the . and even Mr. Smith & his party had escaped to bring up the rear. In June by change of venue we were removed from to to Columbia Boon County upwards of 100 Miles towards the State of ; and by <​our​> request a special Court was called at our request for final trial; but notwithstanding we were <​removed​> more than one hundred Miles from the scene of their depredations yet such was the fact that neither our friends or witnesses dared <​to​> come to into that to attend our trial as they had been banished from the by the ’s order of extermination, executed to the very letter by the principal officers of the civil & military. On these grounds <​&​> having had all these opportunities [p. 9] to know I testify that neither Mr. Smith, nor any other Mormon has the least prospect for justice or to receive a fair & impartial trial in the State of . If tried at all they must be tried by authorities of who have trampled all law under their feet and who have assisted in committing murder, robbery treason, , rape, & felony— and who have made a law of banishment contrary to the laws of all nations; and executed this barbarous law with the utmost rigor & severity— therefore Mr. Smith & the Mormons generally have suffered the end of the law, of which they had no choice & therefore the State of has no further claim whatever upon any of them— I further more testify that the authorities of other States who would assist to wreak further vengeance upon any individuals of the persecuted Mormons are either ignorantly or wilfully aiding & abetting in all these crimes.
The Cross examined, he states that he was very intimate with Mr Smith all the time he resided in the State of , & was in <​with​> his <​him​> company almost daily, <​&​> that he knows positively that Mr Smith held no office either civil or military, either real or pretended, in that ; and that he never bore arms either or did military duty not even in self defence; but that he was a peacable law abiding, & faithful citizen, and a preacher of the Gospel, and exhorted all the citizens to be peacable, long suffering & slow to act, even in self defence — He further stated that there was no fortress in ; but a temporary fence made of Rails, House Logs floor planks Wagons, Carts & so forth hastily thrown together [p. 10] after being told by that they were to be massacred the following morning & the burnt to ashes without giving any information by what authority— And further states that he only escaped <​himself​> from that by walking out of the gaol when the door was open to put in food, & came out in obedience to the ’s order of banishment & to fulfil the same—
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Testimony of before the Municipal Court of the City of July 1st. 1843.
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Filed July 1st 1843. [p. [12]]

Footnotes

  1. new scribe logo

    Insertion in handwriting of James Sloan.  

  2. new scribe logo

    Insertion in handwriting of James Sloan.  

  3. new scribe logo

    Signature of Parley P. Pratt in handwriting of William W. Phelps.  

  4. new scribe logo

    Docket in handwriting of George Walker.  

  5. new scribe logo

    Notation in handwriting of James Sloan.