, 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.
were honored and cherished for it, and that by the , the Judges and the Justices of the Peace; many of whom were leaders in it. An attempt was made to prosecute two men, one was by the name of Hayden, the other by the name of Oldham; who met a young man on the road, by the name of , and beat him in a most cruel manner! An aged man by the name of Lewis Scott, seeing the abuse, entered a prosecution against them; but when the fellows were brought for trial, the court acquitted them on the ground that there were only two persons engaged in it. The fact of the abuse was never denied; but , yes, reader, the worthy , decided that there was no cause of action; because there were not more than two persons engaged in it. So much for this righteous judge. I give this as a sample of the manner in which the laws were executed in , under the jurisdiction of , and his faithful satelite and attorney, , who has since, for this, and like acts of legality, been appointed judge of a circuit court.
The matter being fairly put to the test, that the civil authorities of were destitute of principle—of a sense of honor—of regard to their oaths, and of respect for their laws; the saints had to submit to their fate; while they were whipped, and again driven from their homes.
The mediating party which had risen up, appointed a committee to correspond with a committee of the saints, in order to find a location for the saints to settle, and again remove from the midst of their enemies. Some short time previous to this, a number of them had made some considerable purchases of lands, on a stream called , in the territory of . The two committees started to seek out a place for the removal, when they came to the tract of land which had been purchased. It was agreed that that should be the place of settlement. So the settlement commenced immediately. This was in August, 1836.
By this removal, the saints lost nearly all they had obtained during the previous three years which they had resided in ; besides much abuse at the hand of the wretches who had risen up in arms against them. At the succeeding session of the legislature, there was a new county laid off, embracing the before mentioned tract of land, called . A town was soon laid off and incorporated, called “;” and in one year, there were one hundred and fifty houses built,—besides, nearly the whole was entered, or at least that part of it which could be cultivated; as there was a great scarcity of timber in the
In all these operations, there was no pretence to law; they openly declared that they put the law at defiance, saying, “we are the law, and what we say is the constitution.”
The saints being once more settled, they commenced improving the country, which was so great a contrast to the general idleness and lazy habits of , which any person with the least discernment could readily discover. This soon began to excite the jealousies of the surrounding counties; for nothing can so much excite the jealousy of that people, nor awaken their indignation so much, as to have an intelligent, industrious and enterprising people, settle any where in [p. 14]