Parley P. Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 1839
, History of the Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons, in Which Ten Thousand American Citizens were Robbed, Plundered, and Driven from the State, and Many Others Imprisoned, Martyred, &c. for Their Religion, and All This By Military Force, By Order of the Executive; i–vi, 7–84 pp.; Detroit, MI: Dawson & Bates, 1839. The copy used for this transcription is held at CHL.
While incarcerated at , Missouri, in March 1839, JS addressed a letter to the church “at Illinois and scattered abroad and to in particular,” instructing the Saints to gather up “a knoledge of all the facts and sufferings and abuses put upon them by the people of this state.” (JS et al., Liberty, MO, to the church members and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20 Mar. 1839, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 123:1, 6].) Edward Partridge responded with an account that became the three opening installments of “A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” an eleven-part series published in the church’s Illinois newspaper, Times and Seasons, between December 1839 and October 1840. “A History, of the Persecution” receives comprehensive treatment in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers and is available on this website.
may have intended to tell the entire story himself, but he fell ill shortly after publication of “A History, of the Persecution” began and died on 27 May 1840. Prompted by Partridge’s illness and subsequent death, the editors of the Times and Seasons, and , sought elsewhere for source materials to continue the series. It is probable that they composed the fourth installment to provide a brief transition from Partridge’s account, which ends in 1836, and the conflicts in and adjoining counties beginning in 1838. In April and June 1840, the fifth and seventh installments reprinted passages from ’s History of the Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons (Detroit: Dawson and Bates 1839). The sixth and eighth through tenth installments drew upon ’s pamphlet, An Appeal to the American People. The series concluded with an eleventh installment in October 1840, featuring Missouri militia general ’s callous speech to the Saints after their surrender at , Missouri, in November 1838.
wrote History of the Late Persecution, the document featured here, during his eight-month imprisonment in jails in 1838–1839. His wife, , daringly smuggled the manuscript out of the jail. After his escape on 4 July 1839 and reunion with the Saints in , Pratt left on a mission to England with the Twelve Apostles. When he reached he paused to visit relatives and arranged for the publication of his history there, obtaining a copyright for his book on 30 September 1839. Revised versions were subsequently reprinted in in 1840 as a pamphlet under the same title and as an expanded hardback with the title Late Persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints. (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 89–90, 100–103.) Pratt later drew upon his history when he composed his autobiography in the 1850s.
’s History of the Late Persecution provides an autobiographical account of events in , , , and counties, Missouri, beginning in 1833. Some of the material describing events that transpired in Jackson County in 1833 was drawn from an earlier publication Pratt co-authored with and , “‘The Mormons’ So Called.” History of the Late Persecution also rehearses the conflict that engulfed Caldwell and Daviess counties, the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri, the mistreatment of Mormon prisoners by Missouri authorities, and the smuggling of Pratt’s manuscript copy of the History from jail, concluding with his narrow escape from imprisonment in Columbia, Missouri.
ling house of & Co., and destroyed or took possession of the press, type, books and property of the establishment; at the same time turning and children out of doors, after which they proceeded to personal violence by a wanton assault and battery upon the Bishop of the Church, Mr. , and a , whom they tarred and feathered, and variously abused. They then compelled Messrs. & Co. to close their store and pack their goods, after which they adjourned to meet again on the 23rd of July; on which day they again met, to the number of several hundred, armed with fire-arms, dirks and sticks, with red flags hoisted, and as they entered , threatening death and destruction to the Mormons. On this day six individuals of the Church signed an agreement to leave the , one half by the first of January, and the other half by the first of April, 1834; hoping thereby to preserve the lives of their brethren, and their property. After this the mob dispersed, threatening destruction to the Mormons on the next New-Years’ day if they were not off by that time.
After this, an express was sent to the of the , stating the facts of the outrages, and praying for some relief and protection. But none was afforded, only some advice for us to prosecute the offenders, which was accordingly undertaken. But this so enraged the mob that they began to make preparations to come out by night and re-commence depredations. Having passed through the most aggravating insults and injuries without making the least resistance, a general enquiry prevailed at this time throughout the Church, as to the propriety of self-defence. Some claimed the right of defending themselves, their families and property, from destruction; while others doubted the propriety of self defence; and as the agreement of the 23d of July, between the two parties had been published to the [p. 12]