, 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.
ery; and in a very short time, were beginning to enjoy the comforts of life. The emigration continued without any particular interruption, until they began to be numerous in the and surrounding counties. This order of things continued until 1836, three years; there was no violence offered, but there were threatenings of violence. But in the summer of 1836, these threatenings began to assume a more serious form; from threats, public meetings were called, resolutions passed; and affairs assumed a fearful attitude. They began to arm themselves, and prepare for violence; threatening vengeance and destruction on all who did not leave the forthwith. had been successful; and seeing the authorities did not interfere, they boasted that they would not do it in this instance; and they could drive the saints as they pleased, and take their property; for they could get no law in . They not only said that they would drive them from the , but from the also: and it was seriously talked of in , that the saints must leave the ; and they carried it so far as to publish their intentions in the papers.
While these warlike preparations were going on by the mob, the saints also began to make preparations for defence. But it was then, as before, they did not do it until they had petitioned the for protection; when, instead of receiving the protection sought for, they received for answer, “Vox populi, Vox Dei.” “The voice of the people is the voice of God.” As much as to say, “If the people say you must go, you must go.” The before mentioned was still Governor. The saints, finding they had nothing to expect from the authorities, but a full sanction of the acts of the mob; had no alternative left, but to have recourse to arms.
Both parties began to assume a formidable attitude, so much so, that it gave alarm to some of the other citizens, who did not join with the mob: they interfered, and tried to stop, as they said, the effusion of blood. During this time, there was a body of armed men, from sixty to one hundred, who, in the face of the authorities of the country and all civil law, was ranging the , stopping movers, driving them back, whipping and abusing the saints wherever they could be caught; and threatening the chastity of females. , the circuit judge, was an eye witness to these base transactions, and under the solemnities of an oath, to put a stop to them: so were all the civil authorities of the country, yet, every man of them, regardless of his oath, either took an active part in aiding this band, or else winked at their doings. The operations of this mob, was from the first of May, till the last of August, 1836, from three to four months. They did a great deal of mischief—were the cause of many deaths: many persons were beaten most inhumanly; much property also was destroyed; families that were moving into the country, were stopped, many of them driven back, and compelled to live in their wagons until houses could be obtained; and when obtained, they were in sickly places; the consequence of which was, that many not only sickened but died.
In , it was the same as in ; the authorities refused to interfere, and let the mob range uncontrolled, and commit all the outrages they pleased; and so far from any punishment, they [p. 13]