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.
cious are appearances. In a late number of the Star, published in , by the leaders of this sect, there is an article inviting free negroes and mulattoes from other States, to become Mormons, and remove and settle among us. This exhibits them in still more odious colors. It manifests a desire on the part of their society to inflict on our society, an injury that they knew would be to us insupportable, and one of the surest means of driving us from the ; for it would require none of the supernatural gifts that they pretend to, to see that the introduction of such a cast among us, would corrupt our blacks, and instigate them to bloodshed.
“They openly blaspheme the most High God, and cast contempt upon His Holy Religion, by pretending to receive Revelations direct from Heaven—by pretending to speak in unknown tongues by direct inspiration—and by divers pretences derogatory of God and religion, and to the utter subversion of human reason. They declare openly that their God hath given them this of land, and that sooner or later, they must and will have possession of our lands for an inheritance; and in fine they have conducted themselves on many other occasions in such a manner, that we believe it a duty we owe to ourselves, to our wives and children, and to the cause of public morals, to remove them from among us. We are not prepared to give up our pleasant places and goodly possessions to them; or to receive into the bosom of our families as fit companions for our wives and daughters, the degraded free negroes and mulattoes, who are now invited to settle among us. Under such a state of things, even our beautiful would cease to be a desirable residence, and our situation intolerable. 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 [p. 9]