Parley P. Pratt et al., “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” 12 December 1833
, , and , “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” 12 Dec. 1833, The Evening and the Morning Star, extra, Feb. 1834, two pages.
Community violence against Mormon settlers in , Missouri, escalated on 20 July 1833. In , the brick home of was torn down and the church’s printing press was thrown out of a second-story window. That month’s issue of the church newspaper The Evening and the Morning Star was the last published in , and the collection of revelations known as the Book of Commandments, then being printed, would never be completed.
By September 1833 the church moved to reestablish a press in the charge of —this time located at its other center at , Ohio. Among the first items published there was a February 1834 broadsheet titled “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” which apparently reprinted an earlier published account of the “outrages.” The earlier text was a December 1833 handbill probably printed in , Missouri, at the shop of the Upper Missouri Enquirer—possibly, and if so, ironically, on ’s press acquired by the Enquirer after the 20 July riot. The broadsheet, printed as an “Extra” to the Kirtland-based The Evening and the Morning Star, included some additional editorial comments from Oliver Cowdery as editor. (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:42.)
“‘The Mormons’ So Called” presented a detailed account of the eruption of conflict and violence in beginning in 1832, which culminated in the Saints’ agreement to leave the county by April 1834, with most fleeing to neighboring . The account was signed by three prominent Mormon Missouri leaders, , , and . Pratt, who may have been the author of the document, drew upon its content for his 1839 publication, History of the Late Persecution, which in turn formed the basis for his 1840 expansion, Late Persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints.
The original December 1833 handbill is no longer extant. The document featured here is the February 1834 broadsheet “Extra” to The Evening and the Morning Star, which includes ’s editorial additions.
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. ]