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IN Missouri the year 1835 and a portion of 1836 were spent in comparative peace. The people in Clay County were mostly friendly and hospitable.
The Jackson County people, however, were diligent in their efforts to stir up strife and distrust. In consequence of this the public mind became somewhat inflamed, so much so that trouble was feared, and some public measures were taken to avert it, an account of which will be given in the following pages, and documents produced which in themselves are sufficiently explicit.
In a serial article entitled, "A history of the persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Missouri," published in the Times and Seasons in 1840, occurs the following:-
"The Governor, D. Dunklin, was disposed to bring the mobbers to justice; consequently ten or twelve witnesses were subpoenaed to attend the February term of the Circuit Court. Captain Atchison was ordered to guard them over to Jackson and back with his company of Liberty Blues. The Attorney General was also ordered, or requested, by the Governor to attend the court, to assist the circuit attorney in the investigation. The witnesses were guarded over to Independence, and after having been there a short time they were visited by the circuit attorney, accompanied by the Attorney General. They informed the witnesses that such was the excitement prevailing there that it was doubtful whether anything could be done to bring the mobbers to justice; that if any should be convicted they would only be
fined in some trifling sum, not to exceed five dollars at most, just enough to answer the law; and they advised the witnesses not to go before the grand jury, intimating at the same time that they might be in danger. The witnesses replied that they had been ordered there by the court, and they supposed that they were still subject to the court, or to them-the attorneys. As to the danger in going before the grand jury, they feared it not; they were ready and willing to go and testify to the truth. The attorneys left them, and in a short time after they were informed by Captain Atchison that the judge, Mr. Ryland, had sent him word that the witnesses and guard were not wanted there any longer. Captain A. paraded his men as soon and as well as he could for the crowd, and immediately marched off, the witnesses following him. All hopes were now given up of ever bringing that people to justice; their hatred towards the saints appeared to be unabating; they frequently sent over word to Clay County that they were coming over to drive them from that place; they even went so far as to circulate a paper in Clay County, the object of which was to obtain volunteers there, to assist them in driving the saints away. In Clay County, however, they had but a few friends (for some time) and could not obtain many signers.
"A wealthy farmer by the name of Arthur, living in Clay County, who was then friendly to the saints, and who was in the habit of sending flour and whisky into Jackson to sell, (it generally being higher there than in Clay, in consequence of the Indian trade,) sent over one of his negroes and team with a load, sometime that fall or winter, [and] they were stopped on the road by some of the good people of Jackson, who mounted the load and with axes cut the barrels to pieces and wasted the flour and whisky upon the ground.
"In 1834, if we mistake not, an inoffensive brother by the name of Ira J. Willes went into Jackson County to hunt for a lost cow. He was taken by some of the ruffians residing there who, after stripping off his clothes, whipped him unmercifully. For the credit of Missouri we would state that he was taken from the house of a justice of the peace; this is an ensample of upper Missouri peacemakers. The same
year Bro. Lewis Abbot, a very peaceable man, went to Jackson to see a man who owed him. On his way he was discovered and overtaken by some of that lawless banditti, who beat him with handspikes, no doubt with an intent to kill, for that was what they swore they would do; but his life was preserved and he escaped out of their hands. Thus have that people unceasingly abused and persecuted the saints whenever they could get an opportunity.
"Governor Dunklin appeared willing to guard back the saints to Jackson County at any time when they should get ready to go, but said that he had not authority to keep a guard there for their protection. That being the case, they were advised by some of the most influential men in the upper country, who were friendly to them but not believers in their faith, to have enough of their brethren emigrate to that country to enable them to maintain their rights should the mob ever attempt to trample upon them again, and then get the Governor to set them back upon their lands. Accordingly word was sent forth to the churches to that effect, and in the summer of 1834 a large company emigrated from the eastern churches to Clay County for that purpose.
"Whilst this company was forming and going up to Missouri, rumor with her ten thousand tongues was busily engaged in circulating falsehoods about them, insomuch that before they arrived at Clay County there was considerable excitement even there.
"The Jackson County people went over into Clay and called a meeting and stirred up all the feelings there that they possibly could against the saints. The anger of the people of Jackson County rose to a great height; they had furnished themselves with a number of cannon, and their neighbors of the adjoining counties on the south side of the Missouri River volunteered by hundreds to assist them provided that the Governor should attempt to set the saints back upon their land in Jackson County.
The company from the eastern churches arrived in Clay County and their gentle manners and peaceable deportment soon convinced the people of that country of the false reports which had been circulated about them. The excitement
was very soon done away, and the people appeared more friendly than before.
"After the arrival of the brethren from the East a council was held and it was concluded, considering the great wrath of the people south of the river, that it would not be wisdom to ask the Governor to set them back at that time.
"The people of Clay County were mostly friendly to the saints, but there were a few exceptions. Nothing of importance occurred, however, for some time; a few threats and insults from those who were disaffected was all the hostility manifested till the summer of 1836.
"The suits which had been commenced against the Jackson County people for damages progressed so slowly and were attended with such an amount of costs that they were all dropped but two, which were considered sufficient to try the experiment to ascertain whether or not anything could be obtained by the law. Nearly three hundred dollars cost had been paid by the brethren to obtain a change of venue; the suits were then removed to Ray County. Court after court passed and the trials were continued. At last, in the summer of 1836, the time drew near when it was supposed that the trials must come on, which was very gratifying to those who planted the suits. When the court came, their lawyers, instead of going to trial as they should have done, made a sort of compromise with the mobbers, by dropping one suit without even having the cost paid, and that too without the knowledge or consent of their employers. On the other suit the defendants agreed to pay a few hundred dollars, though not as much as the lawyer's fees had been. Thus the lawyers, after getting their pay, managed the cases. Had they been true to the brethren, as they were bound to be by oath, and brought their suits to a trial instead of making a compromise, and labored faithfully for them as they ought to have done, and labored as though they meant to earn their thousand dollar fee, there is no doubt but that on the two suits they would have obtained as many thousands of dollars as they did hundreds by the compromise. No further attempts have ever been made to obtain a compensation for the losses and damages sustained
by the saints in Jackson County, except last winter in petitioning the legislature of Missouri. Among other things they asked the State for remuneration for them, which the legislature did not see fit to grant.
"In the summer of 1836 the mob party in Clay County strengthened itself considerably and became quite bold, insomuch that they in one or two instances began to whip the saints; and one day some sixty or seventy of them assembled, rode off a few miles east and stopped a few wagons which were moving to Clay County, and turned them back. It was manifested from their threatenings and actions that they were determined to fall upon the saints and drive them out of the county if they could. It was equally manifest that the saints were disposed to defend themselves against mobs, even to the shedding of blood.
"At that time it was seen that if something was not done to stop it blood would be shed; for the mob party were resolved on driving, and the saints were determined not to be driven by them, without first trying their strength; wherefore the most intelligent and respectable citizens of the county, who had always appeared friendly to the saints, held a meeting, in which they appointed a committee and also requested the saints to appoint a committee, to meet their committee near Liberty on a day appointed to confer with each other, and see if something could not be done to evade the storm, which appeared to be fast gathering.
"The committee met at the appointed time and a proposition was made by the citizen's committee to the other, to this effect:-
"That whereas, the people of Clay County had kindly received the saints in their distress, when it was expected that they would soon return to Jackson County, and not think of making Clay County a permanent home; and whereas almost three years had passed away since, and the prospect of their returning to Jackson County was less at that time than it was years before; and that a portion of the citizens of Clay County were dissatisfied to have them remain where they were any longer; therefore the committee in behalf of the citizens requested that they (the saints) should look
themselves a new location, either in some unsettled part of the State, or otherwise go out of the State, as suited them best. The committee disclaimed all right to request any such thing; they said they knew very well that the saints had just as good a right there as themselves, but they thought that considering the opposition that there was to them it would be better for them to go where they could be more by themselves; and they even recommended their gathering together and living altogether by themselves. They further said that if they would consent to go and seek a new location they would send a committee with them who was acquainted with the country, who would pilot them in looking it out. However, a location had already been selected and about sixteen hundred acres of land purchased but a short time previous; and they were willing to go, and some of them were making preparations to move there soon before the meeting of the committee. Wherefore the committee on the part of the church consented to the proposition made to them; and then all parted with apparent good feelings. Soon afterwards three on the part of the church and two pilots started to view the country. They traveled a number of days in the new settlements towards the northwest corner of the State; and they finally concluded that the place previously selected, now known as Caldwell County, should be the place where they would settle; there being but a few inhabitants in a district of country large enough for a county, and they, in general, willing to sell out.
"Upon these movements the mob spirit in Clay County measurably subsided, and the saints prepared and moved to their new settlement as fast as their circumstances would permit, pleased with the idea of settling together by themselves."-Times and Seasons, vol. 1, pp. 49-51.
The resolutions passed by the citizens of Clay County, referred to in the above, were in full as follows:-"From the Far West
"A respectable number of our fellow citizens met, being previously notified of the same, at the courthouse, in the town of Liberty, June 29.1836.
"On motion of Doctor Woodson J. Moss, John Bird was called to the chair.
"And, on motion of Col. William T. Wood, John F. Doherty appointed secretary:-
"The object of the meeting was, by request of the chair, explained in a few appropriate remarks by Col. Wood, when
"On motion of Col. William T. Wood, a committee of nine was appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting:-
"Whereupon the following gentlemen were chosen; viz.:-
"John Thornton, Esq., Peter Rogers, Esq., Andrew Robertson, Esq., James T. V. Thompson, Esq., Col. William T. Wood, Doct. Woodson J. Moss, James M. Hughes, Esq., David R. Atchison, Esq., and A. W. Doniphan, Esq., who retired, and in a short time returned and made through their chairman (Col. John Thornton) the following unanimous report, which was read:-
"'It is apparent to every reflecting mind that a crisis has arrived in this county that requires the deep, cool, dispassionate consideration and immediate action of every lover of peace, harmony, and good order. We cannot conceal from ourselves the fact that at this moment the clouds of civil war are rolling up their fearful masses and hanging over our devoted county, solemn, dark, and terrible. This painful state of things has been produced mainly by the rapid and increasing emigration of that people commonly called Mormons, during the last few months. It is known to all that in November, 1833, these people were expelled from their homes in Jackson County, without money, without property, without the means of subsistence for themselves, their wives, and their children; and like Noah's dove without even a resting place for their feet.
"'They came to our county thus friendless and penniless, seeking (as they said) but a temporary asylum from the storms of persecution by which they were then buffeted. Their destitute and miserable condition, at that inclement season of the year, excited the deep sympathies of the philanthropic and hospitable citizens of this county; and notwithstanding the thousand reports that were borne on the wings
of the wind, charging them with almost every crime known to the laws of our country; yet our feelings of kindness, and sympathy for human suffering, prevailed over every obstacle, and they were received with friendship and treated with toleration, and often with marks of peculiar kindness. They always declared that they looked not upon this county as their home, but as a temporary asylum, and that whenever a respectable portion of the citizens of this county should request it, they would promptly leave us in peace as they found us. That period has now arrived. Duty to ourselves, to our families, and to the best interests of our county, require at our hands to demand the fulfillment of that pledge.
"'They are charged, by those who are opposed to them, with an unfriendly determination to violate that pledge. Their rapid emigration, their large purchases and offers to purchase lands, the remarks of the ignorant and imprudent portion of them that this country is destined by heaven to be theirs, are received and looked upon by a large portion of this community as strong and convincing proofs that they intend to make this county their permanent home, the center and general rendezvous of their people.
"These are some of the reasons why these people have become objects of the deepest hatred and detestation to many of our citizens. They are eastern men, whose manners, habits, customs, and even dialect are essentially different from our own; they are non-slaveholders, and opposed to slavery, which, in this peculiar period when abolition has reared its deformed and haggard visage in our land is well calculated to excite deep and abiding prejudices in any community where slavery is tolerated and practiced. 1 In addition
1That these fears were groundless will appear from the following extract published by Joseph Smith in April, 1836.
"Before closing this communication, I beg leave to drop a word to the traveling elders: You know, brethren, that great responsibility rests upon you, and that you are accountable to God for all you teach the world. In my opinion you will do well to search the Book of Covenants is which you will see the belief of the church concerning masters and servants. All men are to be taught to repent; but we have no right to interfere with slaves contrary to the mind and will of their masters. In fact, It would be much better and more prudent not to preach at all to slaves until after their masters are converted: and then, teach the master to use them with kindness, remembering that they are accountable
to all this they are charged, as they have heretofore been, with keeping up a constant communication with the Indian tribes on our frontier, with declaring, even from the pulpit, that the Indians are a part of God's chosen people, and are destined by heaven to inherit this land, in common with themselves.
"We do not vouch for the correctness of these statements, but whether they are true or false, their effect has been the same in exciting our community. In times of greater tranquility [tranquillity] such ridiculous remarks might well be regarded as the offspring of frenzied fanaticism; but at this time our defenseless situation on the frontier, the bloody disasters of our fellow citizens in Florida and other parts of the South, all tend to make a portion of our citizens regard such sentiments with horror, if not alarm.
"'These and many other causes have combined to raise a prejudice against them, and a feeling of hostility, that the first spark may, and we deeply fear will, ignite into all the horrors and desolations of a civil war-the worst evil that can befall any country. We therefore feel it our duty to come forward as mediators and use every means in our power to prevent the occurrence of so great an evil.
"'As the most efficient means to arrest the evil, we urge on the Mormons to use every means to put an immediate stop to the emigration of their people to this county. We earnestly urge them to seek some other abiding place, where the manners, the habits and customs of the people will be more consonant with their own. For this purpose we would advise them to explore the Territory of Wisconsin. This country is peculiarly suited to their condition and their wants. It is almost entirely unsettled; they can there procure large bodies of land together, where there are no
to God, and that servants are bound to serve their masters, with singleness of heart, without murmuring. I do most sincerely hope that no one who is authorized from this church to preach the gospel will so far depart from the scripture as to be found stirring up strife and sedition against our brethren of the South. Having spoken frankly and freely, I leave all in the hands of God, who will direct all things for his glory and the accomplishment of his work.
"Praying that God may spare you to do much good in this life, I subscribe myself your brother in the Lord, JOSEPH SMITH, Jr.
settlements and none to interfere with them. It is a Territory in which slavery is prohibited, and it is settled entirely with emigrants from the North and East.
"'The religious tenets of this people are so different from the present churches of the age that they always have and always will excite deep prejudices against them in any populous country where they may locate. We therefore, in a spirit of frank and friendly kindness, do advise them to seek a home where they may obtain large and separate bodies of land and have a community of their own.
"'We further say to them, if they regard their own safety and welfare, if they regard the welfare of their families, their wives and children, they will ponder with deep and solemn reflection on this friendly admonition. If they have one spark of gratitude, they will not willingly plunge a people into civil war who held out to them the friendly hand of assistance in that hour of dark distress when there was few to say, God save them. We can only say to them that if they still persist in the blind course they have heretofore followed in flooding the country with their people, that we fear and firmly believe that an immediate civil war is the inevitable consequence.
"'We know that there is not one among us who thirsts for the blood of that people. We do not contend that we have the least right, under the Constitution and laws of the country, to expel them by force; but we would indeed be blind if we did not foresee that the first blow that is struck at this moment of deep excitement, must and will speedily involve every individual in a war bearing ruin, woe, and desolation in its course. It matters but little how, where, or by whom the war may begin, when the work of destruction commences, we must all be borne onward by the storm or crushed beneath its fury. In a civil war, when our homes is the theatre [theater] on which it is fought, there can be no neutrals; let our opinions be what they may, we must fight in self-defense. We want nothing, we ask nothing, we would have nothing from this people. We only ask them, for their own safety and for ours, to take the least of the two evils. Most of them are destitute of land, have but little
property, are late emigrants to this country, without relations, friends, or endearing ties to bind them to this land at the risk of such imminent peril to them and to us We request them to leave us, when their crops are gathered, their business settled, and they have made every suitable preparation to remove. Those who have forty acres of land we are willing shall remain until they can dispose of it without loss if it should require years; but we urge, most strongly urge, that emigration cease and cease immediately, as nothing else can or will allay for a moment the deep excitement that is now unhappily agitating this community. If the Mormons will comply with these friendly requisitions, we will use every exertion among our own citizens to arrest this evil before it is forever too late; but if they are disregarded, we can promise neither them or ourselves, a long continuation of the blessings of peace and harmony.
"'1. Therefore, be it resolved by this meeting, that they view with feelings of the deepest regret the present unhappy situation of our country.
"'2. That it is the fixed and settled conviction of this meeting, that unless the people commonly called Mormons will agree to stop immediately the emigration of their people to this county, and take measures to remove themselves from it, a civil war is inevitable
"'3. That a committee of ten be appointed to make known to the leaders of that people the views of this meeting, and to urge upon them the propriety of acceding to these propositions.
"'4. That said committee consist of Andrew Robertson, Michael Arthur, Littleberry Sublet, John Baxter, James M. Hughes, W. J. Moss, John Bird, Peter Rogers, W. T. Wood, and J. T. V. Thompson, who shall meet on to-morrow at the house of Mr. Cowen and confer with the Mormons and report to this meeting, as soon thereafter as convenient, the reply of the Mormons to these requisitions.
"'5. That if the Mormons agree to these propositions we will use every means in our power to allay the excitement among our own citizens and to get them to await the result of these things.
"'6. That it is the opinion of this meeting that the recent emigrants among the Mormons should take measures to leave this county immediately, as they have no crops on hand and nothing to lose by continuing their journey to some more friendly land.'
"On motion of Col. Wm. T. Wood, the preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted.
"Be it resolved that this meeting adjourn until Saturday next.
"JOHN BIRD, Chairman.
"JOHN F. DOHERTY, Secretary."
-Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, pp. 353-355.
This meeting reassembled according to adjournment on July 2, 1836, when the committee appointed to visit the "Mormon leaders" reported as follows:-
"The citizens of Clay County met, pursuant to adjournment. The chairman and secretary resumed their stations, when the committee appointed by a public meeting held at the courthouse in the town of Liberty, on Wednesday, June 29, to confer with the Mormon leaders and to present to them the preamble and resolutions passed by said meeting, met according to the appointment at the house of Mr. Cowan, and through the chairman of the committee, Woodson J. Moss, reported to the meeting the response of the Mormons to the preamble and resolutions passed at the aforesaid meeting on Wednesday, the 29th, which is as follows:-
"'At a respectable meeting of the Elders of the Church of Latter Day Saints, held in Clay County, Missouri, on Friday, the first day of July, 1836; W. W. Phelps was called to the chair and John Corrill appointed secretary. The preamble and resolutions from a meeting of citizens was read and a committee of twelve; viz., E. Partridge, I. Morley, L. Wight, T. B. Marsh, E. Higbey, C. Beebe, J. Hitchcock, I. Higbey, S. Bent. T. Billings, J. Emmett, and R. Evans, were appointed, who retired and, after a short time, reported the following preamble and resolutions:-
"'That we (the Mormons so-called) are grateful for the kindness which has been shown to us by the citizens of Clay
since we have resided with them, and being desirous for peace and wishing the good rather than the ill will of mankind, will use all honorable means to allay the excitement and, so far as we can, remove any foundation for jealousies against us as a people.
"'We are aware that many rumors prejudicial to us as a society are afloat, and time only can prove their falsity to the world at large.
"'We deny having claim to this or any other county or country further than we purchase with money, or more than the Constitution and laws allow us as free American citizens.
''We have taken no part for or against slavery, but are opposed to the abolitionists, and consider that men have a right to hold slaves or not according to law. We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruptions of the world, but we do not believe it right to interfere with bondservants nor preach the gospel to nor meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situation in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men. Such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude.
"'We deny holding any communications with the Indians, and mean to hold ourselves as ready to defend our country against their barbarous ravages as any other people. We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments, and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly. It is needless to enter into a further detail of our faith or mention our sufferings, therefore,
"'1. Resolved, for the sake of friendship and to be in a covenant of peace with the citizens of Clay County, and the citizens of Clay County to be in a covenant of peace with us, notwithstanding the necessary loss of property and expense we incur in moving, we comply with the requisitions of their
resolutions in leaving the county of Clay, as explained by the preamble accompanying the same; and that we will use our exertions to have the church do the same; and that we will also exert ourselves to stop the tide of emigration of our people to this county.
"'2. Resolved, that we accept of the friendly offer verbally tendered to us, by the committee yesterday, to assist us in selecting a location and removing to it.
"'3. Resolved, unanimously, that this meeting accept and adopt the above preamble and resolutions which are here presented by the committee.
"'4. Resolved, that T. B. Marsh, L. Wight, and S. Bent be a committee to carry these proceedings to the meeting of the citizens of Clay, to be held to-morrow, at Liberty.'
"The above was unanimously adopted by the meeting.
"W. W. PHELPS, Chairman.
"JOHN CORRILL, Secretary."
-Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, pp. 359, 360.
Upon this report the mass meeting took action as follows:-
"Resolved, that this meeting do accept and receive the reply of the Mormons to the resolutions passed on Wednesday, the 29th June, as perfectly satisfactory.
"Be it further resolved by this meeting that we will use our utmost endeavors to carry into effect the object contained in the preamble and resolutions passed on Wednesday, the 29th, and as agreed to by the Mormons.
"Be it further resolved, that we urge it on our fellow citizens to keep the peace towards the Mormons as good faith, justice, morality, and religion require us.
"Be it further resolved, that a committee of ten persons, two in each township, be appointed to raise money by subscription to aid those of the Mormons who may from necessity require it to leave this county.
"Resolved, that Samuel Tillery, Jeremiah Migner, and Abraham Shafer be appointed a committee to receive the pecuniary aid by subscription for the purpose of aiding the poor persons that may belong to the Mormons in removing from this county to their place of abode, and that the elders of the church be requested to report the above-named persons
to the aforesaid committee, who will judge of the proofs and facts entitling the Mormons to pecuniary aid, and appropriate the funds accordingly.
"Resolved, that said committee be authorized to employ some suitable person to accompany those that may wish to examine a new country. It is also understood that if the money which may be received by the committee is not appropriated for the purpose above-named it shall be refunded back in proportion to the amount subscribed.
"Resolved, that the chair appoint five persons in each township to carry the object of the above resolutions into effect.
"The following gentlemen were then appointed in the different townships.
"For Liberty Township, John Thornton, Joel Turnham, Peter Rogers, John Bird, David Atchison.
"For Fishing River Township, Elisha Cameron, E. Price, G. Withers, M. Welton, James Kazey.
"For Platte Township, T. C. Gordon, S. Harris, W. Owens, L. Rollins, J. Marsh.
"For Washington Township, B. Riley, S. Crawford, T Findley, G. McIlvaine, P. Y. G. Bartee.
"For Gallatin Township, D. Dale, W. Nash, William Todd, B. Ricketts, J. Forbion.
"Be it further resolved, that this meeting recommend the Mormons to the good treatment of the citizens of the adjoining counties. We also recommend the inhabitants of the neighboring counties to assist the Mormons in selecting some abiding place for their people where they will be in a measure the only occupants and where none will be anxious to molest them.
"Resolved, that the proceedings of this meeting be handed over to the publishers of the Far West with a request that it be printed.
"Which was severally read, and unanimously adopted.
"On motion the meeting adjourned.
"JOHN BIRD, Chairman.
"JOHN F. DOHERTY, Secretary.
"LIBERTY, JULY 2,1836"
-Messenger and Advocate, vol, 2, pp. 360, 361
When the authorities of the church in Kirtland read of this threatened disturbance, they wrote to the citizens of Clay County, and also to their own brethren. We here reproduce both these letters in full, and recommend for them a careful reading:-
"KIRTLAND, Geauga County, Ohio, July 25,1836.
"To John Thornton, Esq., Peter Rogers, Esq., Andrew Robertson, Esq., James T. V. Thompson, Esq., Col. William T. Wood. Doct. Woodson J. Moss, James M. Hughs, Esq., David R. Atchison, Esq., and A. W. Doniphan, Esq.; Gentlemen:-
"We have just perused with feelings of deep interest an article in the Far West, printed at Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, containing the proceedings of a public meeting of the citizens of said county upon the subject of an excitement now prevailing among you, occasioned either from false reports against the church of Latter Day Saints, or from the fact that said church is dangerous to the welfare of your country, and will, if suffered among you, cause the ties of peace and friendship, so desirable among all men, to be burst asunder, and bring war and desolation upon your now pleasant homes.
"Under existing circumstances while rumor is afloat with her accustomed cunning, and while public opinion is fast setting like a flood tide against the members of said church, we cannot but admire the candor with which your preamble and resolutions were clothed, as presented to the meeting of the citizens of Clay County on the 29th of June last. Though, as you expressed in your report to said meeting, 'We do not contend that we have the least right, under the Constitution and laws of the country, to expel them by force,' yet communities may be, at times, unexpectedly thrown into a situation when wisdom, prudence, and that first item in nature's law, self defense, would dictate that the responsible and influential part should step forward and guide the public mind in a course to save difficulty, preserve rights, and spare the innocent blood from staining that soil so dearly purchased with the fortunes and lives of our fathers. And as you have come forward as 'mediators'' to prevent the effusion of blood, and save disasters consequent
upon civil war, we take this opportunity to present to you, though strangers, and through you, if you wish, to the people of Clay County, our heartfelt gratitude for every kindness rendered our friends in affliction, when driven from their peaceful homes, and to yourselves also for the prudent course in the present excited state of your community. But, in doing this, justice to ourselves, as communicants of that church to which our friends belong, and duty towards them as acquaintances and former fellow citizens, require us to say something to exonerate them from the foul charges brought against them to deprive them of their constitutional privileges and drive them from the face of society.
"They have been charged, in consequence of the whims and vain notions of some few uninformed, with claiming that upper country, and that ere long they were to possess it at all hazards, and in defiance of all consequences. This is unjust and far from a foundation, in truth; a thing not expected, not looked for, not desired by this society as a people, and where the idea could have originated is unknown to us. We do not, neither did we ever insinuate a thing of this kind, or hear it from the leading men of the society now in your country. There is nothing in all our religious faith to warrant it, but on the contrary the most strict injunctions to live in obedience to the laws and follow peace with all men. And we doubt not but a recurrence to the Jackson County difficulties, with our friends, will fully satisfy you that at least, heretofore, such has been the course followed by them. That instead of fighting for their own rights they have sacrificed them for a season, to wait the redress guaranteed in the law, and so anxiously looked for at a time distant from this. We have been, and are still, clearly under the conviction that had our friends been disposed they might have maintained their possessions in Jackson County. They might have resorted to the same barbarous means with their neighbors, throwing down dwellings, threatening lives, driving innocent women and children from their homes, and thereby have annoyed their enemies equally, at least, but this to their credit, and which must ever remain upon the pages of time to their honor, they did not. They had possessions,
they had homes, they had sacred rights, and more still, they had helpless harmless innocence, with an approving conscience that they had violated no law of their country or their God to urge them forward, but, to show to all that they were willing to forego these for the peace of their country, they tamely submitted and have since been wanderers among strangers (though hospitable) without homes. We think these sufficient reasons to show to your patriotic minds that our friends instead of having a wish to expel a community by force of arms, would suffer their rights to be taken from them before shedding blood.
"Another charge brought against our friends is that of being dangerous in societies 'where slavery is tolerated and practiced.' Without occupying time here, we refer you to the April (1836) number of the Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, printed at this place, a copy of which we forward to each of you. From the length of time which has transpired since its publication, you can easily see that it was put forth for no other reason than to correct the public mind generally, without a reference or expectation of an excitement of the nature of the one now in your country. Why we refer you to this publication particularly, is because many of our friends who are now at the west were in this place when this paper made its appearance, and from personal observation gave it their decided approbation, and expressed those sentiments to be their own in the fullest particular.
"Another charge of great magnitude is brought against our friends in the West-of 'keeping up a constant communication with the Indian tribes on our frontier; with declaring, even from the pulpit, that the Indians are a part of God's chosen people, and are destined by heaven to inherit this land in common with themselves.' We know of nothing, under the present aspect of our Indian relations, calculated to rouse the fears of the people of the Upper Missouri more than a combination or influence of this nature; and we cannot look upon it other than one of the most subtle purposes of those whose feelings are embittered against our friends to turn the eye of suspicion upon them from every
man who is acquainted with the barbarous cruelty of rude savages. Since a rumor was afloat that the western Indians were showing signs of war, we have received frequent private letters from our friends, who have not only expressed fears for their own safety in case the Indians should break out, but a decided determination to be among the first to repel any invasion and defend the frontier from all hostilities. We mention the last fact, because it was wholly uncalled for on our part, and came previous to any excitement on the part of the people of Clay County against our friends, and must definitively show that this charge is also untrue.
"Another charge against our friends, and one that is urged as a reason why they must immediately leave the county of Clay is, that they are making or are like to, the same 'their permanent home, the center and general rendezvous of their people.' We have never understood such to be the purpose, wish, or design of this society; but on the contrary have ever supposed that those who resided in Clay County only designed it as a temporary residence until the law and authority of our country should put them in the quiet possession of their homes in Jackson County, and such as had not possessions there could purchase to the entire satisfaction and interest of the people of Jackson County.
"Having partially mentioned the leading objections urged against our friends, we would here add that it has not been done with a view on our part to dissuade you from acting in strict conformity with your preamble and resolutions offered to the people of Clay County on the 29th ult., but from a sense of duty to a people embarrassed, persecuted, and afflicted. For you are aware, gentlemen, that in times of excitement virtues are transformed into vices, acts which in other cases and under other circumstances would be considered upright and honorable, interpreted contrary from their real intent and made objectionable and criminal. And from whom could we look for forbearance and compassion with confidence and assurance more than from those whose bosoms are warmed with those pure principles of patriotism with which you have been guided in the present instance to secure the peace of your county and save a
persecuted people from further violence and destruction?
"It is said that our friends are poor; that they have but little or nothing to bind their feelings or wishes to Clay County, and that in consequence have a less claim upon that county. We do not deny the fact that our friends are poor; but their persecutions have helped to render them so. While other men were peacefully following their avocations and extending their interest, they have been deprived of the right of citizenship, prevented from enjoying their own, charged with violating the sacred principles of our constitution and laws, made to feel the keenest aspersions of the tongue of slander, waded through all but death, and are now suffering under calumnies calculated to excite the indignation and hatred of every people among whom they may dwell, thereby exposing them to destruction and inevitable ruin!
"If a people, a community, or a society can accumulate wealth, increase in worldly fortune, improve in science and arts, rise to eminence in the eyes of the public, surmount these difficulties so much as to bid defiance to poverty and wretchedness, it must be a new creation, a race of beings superhuman. But in all their poverty and want we have yet to learn for the first time that our friends are not industrious and temperate, and wherein they have not always been the last to retaliate or resent an injury, and the first to overlook and forgive. We do not urge that there are not exceptions to be found. All communities, all societies and associations are cumbered with disorderly and less virtuous members-members who violate in a greater or less degree the principles of the same; but this can be no just criterion by which to judge a whole society. And further still, where a people are laboring under constant fear of being dispossessed, very little inducement is held out to excite them to be industrious.
"We think, gentlemen, that we have pursued this subject far enough, and we here express to you, as we have in a letter accompanying this to our friends, our decided disapprobation to the idea of shedding blood if any other course can be followed to avoid it; in which case, and which alone, we have urged upon our friends to desist, only in extreme cases
of self-defense; and in this case not to give the offense or provoke their fellow men to acts of violence,-which we have no doubt they will observe, as they ever have. For you may rest assured, gentlemen, that we would be the last to advise our friends to shed the blood of men or commit one act to endanger the public peace.
"We have no doubt but our friends will leave your county, sooner or later, they have not only signified the same to us, but we have advised them so to do as fast as they can without incurring too much loss. It may be said that they have but little to lose if they lose the whole. But if they have but little, that little is their all, and the imperious demands of the helpless urge them to make a prudent disposal of the same. And we are highly pleased with a proposition in your preamble, suffering them to remain peaceably till a disposition can be made of their land, etc., which if suffered our fears are at once hushed, and we have every reason to believe that during the remaining part of the residence of our friends in your county the same feelings of friendship and kindness will continue to exist that have heretofore, and that when they leave you, you will have no reflection of sorrow to cast that they have been sojourners among you.
"To what distance or place they will remove we are unable to say; in this they must be dictated with judgment and prudence. They may explore the Territory of Wisconsin, they may remove there, or they may stop on the other side; of this we are unable to say. But be they where they will, we have this gratifying reflection, that they have never been the first in an unjust manner to violate the laws, injure their fellow men, or disturb the tranquility [tranquillity]and peace under which any part of our country has heretofore reposed. And we cannot but believe that ere long the public mind must undergo a change, when it will appear to the satisfaction of all that this people have been illy treated and abused without cause; and when, as justice would demand, those who have been the instigators of their sufferings will be regarded their true characters demand.
"Though our religious principles are before the world, ready for the investigation of all men, yet we are aware that
the sole foundation of all the persecution against our friends has arisen in consequence of calumnies and misconstructions, without foundation in truth or righteousness, in common with all other religious societies at their first commencement. And should Providence order that we rise not as others before us, to respectability and esteem, but be trodden down by the ruthless hand of extermination, posterity will do us the justice when our persecutors are equally low in the dust with ourselves, to hand down to succeeding generations the virtuous acts and forbearance of a people who sacrificed their reputation for their religion, and their earthly fortunes and happiness to preserve peace and save this land from being further drenched in blood.
"We have no doubt but your very seasonable mediation, in the time of so great an excitement, will accomplish your most sanguine desire in preventing further disorder; and we hope, gentlemen, that while you reflect upon the fact that the Citizens of Clay County are urgent for our friends to leave you, that you will also bear in mind that by their complying with your request to leave is surrendering some of the dearest rights and first among those inherent principles guaranteed in the Constitution of our country; and that human nature can be driven to a certain extent when it will yield no farther. Therefore, while our friends suffer so much, and forego so many sacred rights, we sincerely hope-and we have every reason to expect it-that a suitable forbearance may be shown by the people of Clay, which if done, the cloud that has been obscuring your horizon will disperse and you be left to enjoy peace, harmony, and prosperity.
"With sentiments of esteem and profound respect, we are, gentlemen, your obedient servants,
"Joseph Smith, Jr.
"F. G. Williams
"Kirtland, Ohio, July 25, 1836.
"Dear Brethren:-Yours of the 1st inst. accompanying the proceedings of a public meeting held by the people of Clay, was duly received. We are sorry that this disturbance has
broken out-we do not consider it our fault. You are better acquainted with circumstances than we are, and of course have been directed in wisdom in your moves relative to leaving the country.
"We forward you our letter to Mr. Thornton and others, that you may know all we have said. We advise that you be not the first aggressors. Give no occasion, and if the people will let you dispose of your property, settle your affairs, and go in peace, go. You have thus far had an asylum, and now seek another as God may direct. Relative to your going to Wisconsin, we cannot say; we should think if you could stop short in peace, you had better. You know our feelings relative to not giving the first offense, and also of protecting your wives and little ones in case a mob should seek their lives. We shall publish the proceedings of the public meeting, with your answer, as well as our letter. We mean that the world shall know all things as they transpire. If we are persecuted and driven, men shall know it!
"Be wise; let prudence dictate all your counsels; preserve peace with all men if possible; stand by the Constitution of your country; observe its principles, and above all show yourselves men of God, worthy citizens, and we doubt not community ere long will do you justice and rise in indignation against those who are the instigators of your suffering and affliction.
"In the bonds of brotherly love we subscribe ourselves, as ever,
"Joseph Smith, Jr.
"F. G. Williams.
"To W. W. Phelps and others."
-Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, pp. 355-359.
To the careful and fair reader these documents will show that the church authorities were disposed to be just and conciliatory, even yielding their rights to a certain extent for the sake of peace.
The serial article before mentioned contains this concerning
the exodus from Clay and other counties into the proposed new county:-
"In August, 1836, the saints commenced settling upon their new location, in great numbers, and made preparations for the coming winter, by constructing comfortable dwellings for themselves and gathering as much food for their cattle, horses, etc., as their straitened circumstances would permit. Here they settled with the fond anticipation of being permitted to dwell in quietness and peace upon their possessions without molestation; consequently large entries of the public lands were made by individuals of the society, and extensive farms were soon opened. Those who had not means to purchase lands were under the necessity of loaning [borrowing] it of the citizens at very high rates of percentage, frequently being compelled to pay fifty per cent. Others who could not obtain money by loan would procure two or three months provision for their families, and then go to Fort Leavenworth or elsewhere, and work until they had earned enough to enter a forty or an eighty acre tract. Thus by dint of hard labor and untiring perseverance almost every man in a few months found himself in the possession of sufficient land to make a good farm. In a few months nearly or quite all the best land of the territory, now known as Caldwell County, was purchased by the saints, several hundred buildings erected, and great preparations made for a crop the coming season. A principal part of the old inhabitants sold out and moved away, which, however, were but few, there being only about fifteen or twenty families in the county.
"Commencing a settlement at this season of the year they were obliged to procure all their provision for themselves, and grain for their stock in the adjoining counties, and transport it some thirty or forty miles, which was a great detriment to the extensive improvements they were making. At the session of the Legislature, in the winter of 1836-7, an act was passed calling the territory upon which the saints had settled Caldwell County."-Times and Seasons, vol. 1, p. 65.
This account agrees with the following extract from the
"History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri," published in 1886, by the "St. Louis National Historical Company":-
"It was during the summer of 1836 that the Mormons began their settlement of the county in earnest. It was then a portion of Ray, but the people of the northern portion of that county, as well as the Mormons, were informed that a new county was to be organized expressly for the occupation and general benefit of the latter. Indeed, an arrangement of that character had been made by the leaders of the Mormon Church and certain prominent Gentiles. An entire county was to be set apart as a sort of reservation for the saints. To be sure Gentiles were not to be forbidden to enter it, but it was believed that under the circumstances few, if any, would desire to do so. The Mormons were to have undisturbed possession of the new county; they were to hold the county offices, send a representative to the legislature, and in return for these privileges they were not to settle in any other county save by express consent and permission, previously obtained, of two thirds of the non-Mormon residents of the township in said county wherein they desired to make location.
"Everybody thought this a complete and satisfactory solution of the Mormon problem, which then, as often since, demanded attention and settlement. The Missourians were satisfied, because they had a poor opinion of the prairie soil of the proposed new county, which they declared was fit only for Mormons and Indians, and doubted whether it could ever be made really valuable. Moreover, they wished to rid themselves of the presence of the despised sect, whose members were clannish and exclusive, as well as unpleasantly peculiar. The Mormons were satisfied, because they wished for peace and security and desired above all to enjoy their religion undisturbed and undismayed.
"Very soon in the summer and fall of 1836 the Mormons left Ray and Clay and pushed up into the new Canaan, which had been reported upon by Phelps and Whitmer, and which when visited was found to be equal to the representations made of it. A few Gentile settlers were found, but
nearly all of them were bought out-all who would sell. Nothing could have been fairer or more equitable than the acquisition of the territory afterward called Caldwell County by the Mormons.
"The leading authorities and shining lights of the Mormon Church came up with the emigration to the new country. There were W. W. Phelps, Bishop Edward Partridge, Sidney Rigdon, Philo Dibble, Elias Higbee, John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and others. In time came Joseph Smith, Hiram (or Hyrum) Smith, John Taylor, Lyman Wight, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Hyde, Thomas B. Marsh, G. M. Hinkle, and Alexander McRae.
"In December, 1836, the county of Caldwell was organized, a measure of much importance to the Mormons. The county seat was located at Far West, and courts held in the schoolhouse. Justices of the peace were appointed in the different townships and all the political machinery of the county was controlled by the Mormons. The militia of the county, all or nearly all Mormons, organized and mustered, and a regiment was formed under the laws of the State, of which either 'General' [Colonel] George M. Hinkle or Lyman Wight was colonel.
"Settlements were made up and down Shoal Creek and thickly along the southern tier of townships of the county. Mills were built, shops were opened, stores established, and the foundations for a thrifty and successful community were securely laid. Emigrants came in from Ohio and other States, but chiefly from the Mormon colony at Kirtland, Ohio, while the saints in Ray and Clay and elsewhere in Missouri joined their brethren in Caldwell as soon as they could do so."-Pages 116-118.
The same authority says of Far West:-
"The town site was entered August 8, 1836. The north half was entered in the name of W. W. Phelps, the south half in the name of John Whitmer; but both Phelps and Whitmer merely held the land in trust for 'the church.' The date of the entry goes to prove that the first exploration was in the summer of 1836.
"Soon after the selection of the second 'promised land,'
in Caldwell County, and the location of the second temple, the Mormons came pouring in and soon a village of respectable proportions sprang up where the wild prairie grass waved tall and luxuriant. As has been stated the town site was a mile square, giving plenty of room for the building of a large city. It was laid out in blocks 396 feet square, and the streets were alike on a grand scale. The four principal avenues were each 132 feet wide, and all the others 82 1/2 feet wide. These diverged at right angles from a public square in the center, designed as the site of the grand temple.
"Nearly all the first houses in Far West were log cabins. In a few months, however, some frames were built, a portion of the lumber being brought from lower Ray, and a portion being whip sawed. Perhaps the first house was built by one Ormsby; this was in the summer of 1836. It is said that John Whitmer's house was built January 19, 1837. In the fall of 1836 a large and comfortable schoolhouse was built and here courts were held after the location of the county seat until its removal to Kingston. The Mormons very early gave attention to educational matters. There were many teachers among them and schoolhouses were among their first buildings. The schoolhouse in Far West was used as a church, as a town hall, and as a courthouse, as well as for a schoolhouse. It first stood in the southwest quarter of town, but upon the establishment of the county seat it was removed to the center of the square."-Pages 120, 121.
The act of the legislature providing for the organization of Caldwell County was as follows:-
"Hon. Alex. W. Doniphan, then a representative elect from Clay County, had been the leader, if not the proposer, of the scheme, and to him was assigned the work of preparing and introducing into the legislature the act organizing the new counties and of pressing the bill to a passage. Fearing that a separate bill to organize the 'Mormon county' might be defeated, Gen. Doniphan incorporated that proposition in the bill to organize the other county, and early in the month of December, introduced the measure, which soon passed without much opposition. Following is a copy of the important provisions
of the act organizing Caldwell and Daviess Counties:-
"'Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri as follows: 1. All that portion of territory included in the following limits is hereby declared to be erected into a separate and distinct county, to be called the county of Caldwell; to wit: Beginning at a point where the township line dividing townships 54 and 55 intersects the range line dividing ranges 25 and 26; thence north along said range line to the division line between townships 57 and 58; thence west along said line to the division line between ranges 29 and 30; thence south along said line to the division line between townships 54 and 55; thence east along said line to the point of beginning.
"'2. All that portion of territory included in the following limits is hereby declared to be erected into a separate and distinct county, to be called the county of Daviess, in honor of Col. Joseph H. Daviess, who fell at the battle of Tippecanoe; to wit: Beginning at the northeast corner of the county of Caldwell, as fixed by this act; thence north 24 miles; thence west 24 miles; thence south to the northwest corner of Caldwell County; thence east along the north boundary line of said county to the place of beginning.
"'3. Joseph Baxter, of the county of Clay, Cornelius Gilliam, of the county of Clinton, and William W. Mangee, of the county of Ray, are hereby appointed commissioners to select a seat of justice for each of said counties; and the said commissioners . . . shall meet on the first Monday in April next, at the house of Francis McGuire, in Caldwell County, for the purpose of selecting and locating the permanent seat of justice of said county; . . . the said commissioners shall, as soon as convenient, proceed to Daviess County for the purpose of selecting and locating a seat of justice for said county....
"'This act to be in force from after its passage.
"'Approved December 29, 1836." 1 -History of Caldwell County, pp. 104, 105.
1Approved by Daniel Dunklin, Governor.
Thus with fair prospects of peace and prosperity the year 1836 closed in Missouri.
Those who have carefully investigated the history of these troubles, beginning in Jackson County in 1833, must admit that the saints did all in their power to promote peace, even at times to the sacrificing of the most sacred rights and privileges. While we do not claim that they were perfect, or at all times wise, we nevertheless wonder at the patience and fortitude which they displayed under these trying ordeals. From a natural standpoint their self control seems strange, and awakens the conviction if anything can, that they were largely taught and led by divine influences.
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