, 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.
the settlement in Corrill: for the history of the others which remain, is identified with the history of this settlement, and the things which befel it.
Some time in the last week in March 1838, a man by the name of , who was a large proprietor in the town platt of , on the , arrived at . He was the bearer of a letter from a Mr. , who had been a merchant in Corrillton [Carrollton], the county seat of Corrill County, but at the time he wrote this letter, was living within a few miles of , having purchased a large tract of land at that place; say some fourteen hundred acres. 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 platt, 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 family, 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 that 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 river; 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 [p. 36]