“A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” December 1839–October 1840

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
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before the Court. He had previously told Mr. , that if he () wished to save himself, he must swear hard against the heads of the Church, as they were the ones, the court wanted to criminate, and if he could swear hard against them, they would, that is neither court nor mob, disturb him. I intend to do it, said he, in order to escape, for if I do not, they will take my life. To aid him in this work, there was standing a body of armed men; a part of this armed body stood in the presence of the court to see that the witnessess swore right, and another part was scouring the county to drive out of it every witness that they could hear of, whose testimony would be favorable to the defendents. This course was kept up during the whole time of the court. If a witness did not swear to please the court, he or she would be threatened to be cast into prison. They never pleased the Court when their testimony was favorable to the defendants. One instance is all the proof that need be adduced on this head. A man by the name of Allen was called on, he began to tell the story about ’s burning houses in the south part of , he was kicked out of the house and three men took after him with loaded guns, and he hardly escaped with his life. Every witness that the defendants had, (that these creatures knew of, and they made dilligent search to find all they could) were either arrested under pretention of some charge, or else driven off. When a witness did not swear to please the attorney, he would order them to be taken into custody and they were immediately cast into prison and the next morning they would be brought forward and tried again. Such was the cousre [course] the Court and their armed body pursued during their sittings till they got through; by such means they got men to swear for them, and to swear to most unhallowed falsehoods. It was indeed suborning witnesses to swear, to promise a man’s life if he would swear, and death or imprisonment if he did not swear, and not only to swear, but swear to please them.
This matter of driving away witnesses or casting them into prison or chasing them out of the county, was carried to such a length that our lawyers, and , told us not to bring our witnesses there at all, for if we did there would not be one of them left for the final trial, for no sooner would and his men know who they were, than they would put them out of the county; as to making any impression on , if a cohort of angels were to come down and declare we were clear, said it would all be the same, for he () had determined from the beginning to cast us into prison; we never got the privilege of introducing our witnesses at all; if we had we could have disproved all they swore.
We here must rather go back a little, for after arrived at , he arrested a great many persons, an account of which will be found in the memorial of the citizens of , to the Legislature of . Their trials also went on at the same time. One thing in relation to ’s proceeding, we forgot to mention—we will insert it here. After he had arrived, some persons made application for a privilege to go and plunder houses for goods; this was readily granted, and under this authority, houses were plundered, locks broken, and property taken at pleasure; and all this without any civil process whatever.
We will here give a specimen or two, of their swearing. We will first introduce . This said was angry at one of the prisoners—, in consequence of a law suit existing between them. , we suppose, thought he had a fair opportunity now, to take vengence, in swearing against him; so he swore that in he saw have a clock, in his arms, There had been a clock found in some hazel bushes, somewhere in the neighborhood of . This clock, a man in , swore to be his; it was presented to , and swore positively that, that was the clock, he saw have in . Now the truth is, that the clock which said had, belonged to another man; who had it at that time, and has it at this, if he has not sold it; and it is now in [.] [p. 163]
before the Court. He had previously told Mr. , that if he () wished to save himself, he must swear hard against the heads of the Church, as they were the ones, the court wanted to criminate, and if he could swear hard against them, they would, that is neither court nor mob, disturb him. I intend to do it, said he, in order to escape, for if I do not, they will take my life. To aid him in this work, there was standing a body of armed men; a part of this armed body stood in the presence of the court to see that the witnessess swore right, and another part was scouring the county to drive out of it every witness that they could hear of, whose testimony would be favorable to the defendents. This course was kept up during the whole time of the court. If a witness did not swear to please the court, he or she would be threatened to be cast into prison. They never pleased the Court when their testimony was favorable to the defendants. One instance is all the proof that need be adduced on this head. A man by the name of Allen was called on, he began to tell the story about ’s burning houses in the south part of , he was kicked out of the house and three men took after him with loaded guns, and he hardly escaped with his life. Every witness that the defendants had, (that these creatures knew of, and they made dilligent search to find all they could) were either arrested under pretention of some charge, or else driven off. When a witness did not swear to please the attorney, he would order them to be taken into custody and they were immediately cast into prison and the next morning they would be brought forward and tried again. Such was the cousre [course] the Court and their armed body pursued during their sittings till they got through; by such means they got men to swear for them, and to swear to most unhallowed falsehoods. It was indeed suborning witnesses to swear, to promise a man’s life if he would swear, and death or imprisonment if he did not swear, and not only to swear, but swear to please them.
This matter of driving away witnesses or casting them into prison or chasing them out of the county, was carried to such a length that our lawyers, and , told us not to bring our witnesses there at all, for if we did there would not be one of them left for the final trial, for no sooner would and his men know who they were, than they would put them out of the county; as to making any impression on , if a cohort of angels were to come down and declare we were clear, said it would all be the same, for he () had determined from the beginning to cast us into prison; we never got the privilege of introducing our witnesses at all; if we had we could have disproved all they swore.
We here must rather go back a little, for after arrived at , he arrested a great many persons, an account of which will be found in the memorial of the citizens of , to the Legislature of . Their trials also went on at the same time. One thing in relation to ’s proceeding, we forgot to mention—we will insert it here. After he had arrived, some persons made application for a privilege to go and plunder houses for goods; this was readily granted, and under this authority, houses were plundered, locks broken, and property taken at pleasure; and all this without any civil process whatever.
We will here give a specimen or two, of their swearing. We will first introduce . This said was angry at one of the prisoners—, in consequence of a law suit existing between them. , we suppose, thought he had a fair opportunity now, to take vengence, in swearing against him; so he swore that in he saw have a clock, in his arms, There had been a clock found in some hazel bushes, somewhere in the neighborhood of . This clock, a man in , swore to be his; it was presented to , and swore positively that, that was the clock, he saw have in . Now the truth is, that the clock which said had, belonged to another man; who had it at that time, and has it at this, if he has not sold it; and it is now in . [p. 163]
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