, 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.
The object of ’s visit and the letter of which he was the bearer, was to get some of the Saints to go to and buy a part of the town plat, and aid in building it up. was acquainted with many of the people of . During the first visit of there was nothing done in the matter. At this time, we were on our way, with our families, to , going there for the purpose of making a home. On the evening of the 2d day of April, stopped for the night, at the house of a man by the name of Morrison, on Turkey Creek. There was the said , who had also put up for the night, returning home from . He found out who we were, and then told us he had been to , and what he had been after; and also solicited our assistance in getting some of our people to take part in building up the town of . Sometime afterwards, came on the same errand, and it was not till after repeated solicitations, and assurances of all the assistance that we needed, in case of any difficulty, that there was any disposition manifested on the part of the people of , to comply with their request. However, after repeated solicitations, and strong assurances given of the advantages of the place, and the facilities which it would afford to the settlements making in the Upper , to have a town, and of course a landing place on the ; at length a man by the name of , and one by the name of , went to examine the place. It was in June, 1838, that they went to make the purchase. After examining the place, they purchased one-half of the town plat, and agreed with , from whom they purchased, to move there with their families as soon as they conveniently could, in order to commence building up the place. Accordingly, in July following, they moved to . Soon after their arrival a settlement began to be made. The Saints at the time were immigrating into the country in considerable numbers, and a portion of them stopped at . Some purchased farms in the vicinity, others bought property in the town, and by the middle of October there were as many as seventy families in the town and the immediate neighborhood. They had bought and paid for considerable property, and were making arrangements to erect buildings and other conveniences for their comfort.
Some short time after the settlement first began, there was a mob meeting called at Carrollton, the county seat of Carroll county, and resolutions passed of a very treasonable character. The proceedings of this meeting were published in the public papers. They there resolved to drive the Saints out of the county, regardless of consequences. A committee was appointed to go and warn them of their danger, and to demand of them that they leave the county forthwith. All these transactions were public, and perfectly known to the authorities of the country, but not the most distant attempt was made to bring any of them to justice. In consequence of the apathy of the government the mob went on to holding meeting after meeting, passing resolution after resolution, and threatening the Saints with death unless they would leave their homes and property and go out of the county. These proceedings were all public and notorious. This mob was led by two Presbyterian preachers, one by the name of , called , the other by the name of Hancock. [p. 28]