, 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; 1–84 pp.; Cincinnati, OH: Glezen and Shepard, stereotypers and printers, 1840. The copy used herein is held at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
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 .” 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 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 in 1838. The fifth and seventh installments reprinted passages from ’s History of the Late Persecutions Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons (Detroit: Dawson and Bates, 1839). In May 1840, the sixth installment reprinted passages from ’s eighty-four page pamphlet, 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 (Cincinnati: Glezan and Shepard, 1840). More of Rigdon’s work was reprinted in the eighth through tenth installments, published from July to September 1840. The series concluded with an eleventh installment in the October 1840 issue, featuring General ’s callous speech to the Saints after their surrender at , Missouri, in November 1838.
A manuscript version of ’s Appeal to the American People, referred to as the “petition draft” titled “To the Publick” and endorsed by JS, Rigdon, and , was read to a conference of Saints in , Illinois, on 1 November 1839. The conference voted to approve its publication in the name of the church. and then collaborated to arrange for publication of the text in late 1839 and early 1840. Though no author is named on the title page, Rigdon was acknowledged as author when the pamphlet was advertised in the Times and Seasons in 1840 and 1841. JS and Elias Higbee had some expectation that funds from the sale of the publication would help defray costs of their trip to in late 1839. In July 1840, a second edition was printed by Shepard & Stearns in to raise funds for Orson Hyde and ’s mission to .
Although many of the events reported in ’s pamphlet can be corroborated from other sources, his chronology is often inaccurate. (Consult the annotation in Histories, Volume 2 for correction to portions published as part of “A History, of the Persecutions.”) However, his account contains the text of several significant documents. Among these are JS’s 5 September 1838 affidavit concerning the 7 August 1838 visit to and those of and and regarding the massacre. Consequently, though in many respects Rigdon’s document is more advocacy than history, it offers access to some material not readily found elsewhere.
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 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 of 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 the August of 1836. [p. 15]