, An Appeal to the American People: Being an Account of the Persecutions of the Church of Latter Day Saints; and of the Barbarities Inflicted on Them by the Inhabitants of the State of Missouri, second edition; i-vi, 7–60 pp.; Cincinnati, OH: Shepard and Stearns, 1840. The copy used herein is held at CHL.
A manuscript draft of this pamphlet, simply titled “To the Publick” was presented to a conference of church members at , Illinois, on 1 November 1839. The conference voted to approve the manuscript and authorized its publication on behalf of the church. The pamphlet, when published, carried the endorsement of JS, , and as “Presidents of said Church.”
and collaborated on the publication of the text, which was available in print by May 1840. Though no author is named on the title page, was acknowledged as author in an 1840 Times and Seasons newspaper article, and when the pamphlet was advertised in that church periodical in 1841. JS and held some expectation that funds from the sale of An Appeal would eventually help defray costs of their late-1839 trip to .
By July 1840, and had been authorized to produce a second, revised edition to be published by Shepard & Stearns in . Page related some of the circumstances surrounding its publication and circulation in a letter sent to JS, “. . . at [Ohio] we parted for a few days . . . Elder Hyde went to Cincinnati where in my absince he published a second Edition of the ‘Apeal to the American people’ (2000 copies)[.] when I arrived the work was about completed[.] after disposing of as many of them as posible and suplying the market about cincinnati and the adjacient country he left me with some fourteen or fifteen hundred on hand, to dispose of” (John E. Page, Philadelphia, PA, to JS et al., Nauvoo, IL, 1 Sept. 1841, JS Collection, CHL). Funds from this printing were to be for the express purpose of subsidizing Hyde and Page’s imminent mission to in Palestine.
The second edition was essentially a lightly edited reprint of the first, with a four-page “Publisher’s Preface” added. In the preface, and noted the purpose of the publication, explained the severe hardships imposed by the persecutions upon Page’s own family, provided a detailed account of a vision experienced by Hyde, and expressed enthusiasm about the prospects of the mission. The preface also contained a copy of an official letter of appointment and commendation for Hyde and Page from an April 1840 church conference at , Illinois, signed by JS, and a letter of reference from , governor of .
Although many of the events reported in both editions of ’s pamphlet can be corroborated from other sources, his chronology of events is often inaccurate. However, Rigdon’s account does contain the texts of several significant documents. Among these are JS’s September 1838 affidavit concerning the 7 August 1838 visit to and those of and regarding the massacre. Consequently, though in many respects Rigdon’s document from a historical perspective is more advocacy than history, it offers access to some important material not readily found elsewhere.
foolish and senseless lies, that mortals could invent; thinking, by that means, to justify themselves before the public. Such as, the saints were building strong fortifications; bringing canon and other implements into the country; that wagons loaded with coffins were coming in great numbers, and that these coffins were full of ammunition and military stores—that the saints are conniving with the Indians, and stirring up the negroes to rebel against their masters, with a multitude of things of a similar character: which all tend to establish the ignorance and corruption of their authors. To such low and mean subterfuges, were the principal men of and vicinity driven to accomplish an object at which humanity, to the latest ages, must recoil. We shall give the names of the principal actors in this scene of abomination, that the American people may hereafter know them.
After having, as they supposed, made a sufficient preparation to accomplish their object, and fabricated and circulated through the medium of their public papers, a necessary quantity of lies to blind the public mind, (for they verily supposed, that all the American people were as destitute of truth and humanity, as themselves,) they commenced their operations.
These things transpired between the first of July and the middle of November, 1833. The mob made their attack, by tearing down houses and destroying property. A was torn down, the press broken, the type scattered through the streets; all the book work, papers, and materials that were in the office were destroyed; in all amounting to several thousand dollars. A was broken open, the goods thrown into the street and trampled under foot. Mr. , one of the Bishops of the church, was taken from his house, with another man, into the public square, and there the mob attempted to strip him naked; to this he objected, and finally they agreed to let him keep on his shirt and pantaloons, and they tarred and feathered him, and the other man, whose name was . , a lawyer, was the leader of this outrage; and on that occasion boasted that his word was the law of the , and that the saints should leave it or be put to death. So much for a would be honorable lawyer. A prosecution was entered against one of the men, who was taken in the very act of taking the goods, and trampling them under foot. The writ was obtained at the office of a man by name of , who was a justice of the Peace, or called so. When the man was brought for trial, though it was proven that he was taken in the very act of destroying the goods; he was acquitted, and no cause of action was found; but shortly afterwards, there was a writ issued from the same office, against those who prosecuted the said , for destroying the goods, for false imprisonment, and they were holden to bail for their appearance at the court; and for the want of bail, they were thrown into jail. This, is a correct sample of the way the laws were administered in .
Before this banditti commenced the destruction of property, they appointed committees to go and wait on the saints, and order [p. 8]