, 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.
a stop to the immigration, but drive those out of the , who were settled there.
These meetings were public things, called and held in the face of the government, published in the public papers. At these meetings, they publicly declared that they would put the laws of the at defiance, in order to accomplish their object, as well as justice and humanity, which finally they did.
In order to justify themselves in violating the laws of both God and man, the laws, both of the State of and the , they had recourse to fabricating, and circulating the most foolish and senseless lies, that mortals could invent; thinking, by that means, to justify themselves before the public. Such as, the saints were building strong fortifications; bringing cannon and other military implements into the country; that wagons loaded with coffins were coming in great numbers, and that these coffins were full of ammunition and military stores—that the saints are conniving with the Indians, and stirring up the negroes to rebel against their masters, with a multitude of things of a similar character: which all tend to establish the ignorance and corruption of their authors. To such low and mean subterfuges, were the principal men of and vicinity, driven to accomplish an object at which humanity to the latest ages must recoil. We shall give the names of the principal actors in this scene of abomination, that the American people may hereafter know them.
After having, as they supposed, made a sufficient prepar[a]tion to accomplish their object, and fabricated and circulated through the medium of their public papers, a necessary quantity of lies to blind the public mind, (for they verily supposed, that all the American people were as destitute of truth and humanity, as themselves) they commenced their operations.
These things transpired, between the first of July and the middle of November, 1833. The mob made their attack, by tearing down houses and destroying property. A was torn down, the press broken, the type scattered through the streets; all the book work, papers, and materials that were in the office were destroyed, in all [p. 6]