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THE year 1834 opened with gloomy surroundings for Zion, yet a hopeful and determined people met the situation with courage born of conviction that right would triumph.
On January 1, 1834, a conference was held at the house of Elder Parley P. Pratt, in Clay County, Missouri, Bishop Edward Partridge presiding. In addition to other business, Lyman Wight and P. P. Pratt were sent as special messengers to Kirtland, Ohio, to represent the situation in Zion to the Presidency and ask advice. For the account of this journey and the circumstances and preparation preceding it we refer you to the Autobiography of P. P. Pratt, pages 114-116:-
"After making our escape into the county of Clay, being reduced to the lowest poverty, I made a living by day labor, jobbing, building, or wood cutting, till sometime in the winter of 1834, when a General Conference was held at my house, in which it was decided that two of the elders should be sent to Ohio, in order to counsel with President Smith and the church at Kirtland, and take some measures for the relief or restoration of the people thus plundered and driven from their homes. The question was put to the conference: 'Who would volunteer to perform so great a journey?'
"The poverty of all and the inclement season of the year made all hesitate. At length Lyman Wight and myself offered our services, which were readily accepted. I was at this time entirely destitute of proper clothing for the journey;
and I had neither horse, saddle, bridle, money, nor provisions to take with me; or to leave with my wife, who lay sick and helpless most of the time.
"Under these circumstances I knew not what to do. Nearly all had been robbed and plundered, and all were poor. As we had to start without delay, I almost trembled at the undertaking; it seemed to be all but an impossibility; but 'to him that believeth all things are possible.' I started out of my house to do something towards making preparation; I hardly knew which way to go, but I found myself in the house of Brother John Lowry, and was intending to ask him for money; but as I entered his miserable cottage in the swamp, amid the low, timbered bottoms of the Missouri River, I found him sick in bed with a heavy fever, and two or three others of his family down with the same complaint, on different beds in the same room. He was vomiting severely, and was hardly sensible of my presence. I thought to myself, 'Well, this is a poor place to come for money, and yet I must have it; I know of no one else that has got it; what shall I do?' I sat a little while confounded and amazed. At length another elder happened in.
"We laid hands on them and rebuked the disease; Brother Lowry rose up well; I did my errand, and readily obtained all I asked. This provided in part for my family's sustenance while I should leave them. I went a little further into the woods of the Missouri bottoms, and came to a camp of some brethren, by the name of Higbee, who owned some horses; they saw me coming, and, moved by the Spirit, one of them said to the other, 'There comes Brother Parley; he's in want of a horse for his journey-I must let him have old Dick;' this being the name of the best horse he had. 'Yes,' said I, 'brother, you have guessed right; but what will I do for a saddle?' 'Well,' says the other, 'I believe I'll have to let you have mine.' I blessed them and went on my way rejoicing.
"I next called on Sidney A. Gilbert, a merchant, then sojourning in the village of Liberty-his store in Jackson County having been broken up, and his goods plundered and destroyed by the mob. 'Well,' says he, 'Brother Parley,
you certainly look too shabby to start a journey; you must have a new suit; I have got some remnants left that will make you a coat,' etc. A neighboring tailoress and two or three other sisters happened to be present on a visit, and hearing the conversation, exclaimed, 'Yes, Brother Gilbert, you find the stuff and we'll make it up for him.' This arranged, I now lacked only a cloak; this was also furnished by Brother Gilbert.
"Brother Wight was also prospered in a similar manner in his preparations. Thus faith and the blessings of God had cleared up our way to accomplish what seemed impossible. We were soon ready, and on the first of February we mounted our horses, and started in good cheer to ride one thousand or fifteen hundred miles through a wilderness country. We had not one cent of money in our pockets on starting.
"We traveled every day, whether through storm or sunshine, mud, rain, or snow; except when our public duties called us to tarry. We arrived in Kirtland early in the spring, all safe and sound; we had lacked for nothing on the road, and now had plenty of funds in hand. President Joseph Smith and the church in Kirtland received us with a hospitality and joy unknown except among the saints; and much interest was felt there, as well as elsewhere, on the subject of our persecution. The President inquired of the Lord concerning the matter, and a further mission was appointed us." 1
Lyman Wight in his private journal differs from Elder Pratt on the date of starting; in all other particulars their accounts agree. He writes:-
"[The] 12th of January, 1834: I again left my family, my wife with a babe two weeks old, and started to Kirtland, Ohio, and to Geneseo, New York, a distance of one thousand three hundred miles, from which date I have kept a daily journal."
1See revelation Doctrine and Covenants, section 100. This revelation was given February 24, 1834. The time is too short for them to have ridden on horseback from February 1, so we think the dates given by Elder Wight in his account are correct.
According to this journal they arrived at Kirtland February 22, and he with Sidney Rigdon started for the East on the 28th. Think of this, reader; would men without abiding confidence in the truth of their cause make such exertion and sacrifice as this? Leaving their families sick and destitute, they started on this long and perilous journey without a cent, relying on Him who had promised to provide.
On January 9, Elder Gilbert wrote the following letter to Governor Dunklin supplementary to the petition of December 6, signed by himself and others. This is found in volume 6, pages 962 and 963, Times and Seasons. We recommend a careful reading not only because of its historic value, but because, to the careful investigator, its pacific spirit will be significant:-
"LIBERTY, Clay County, January 9, 1834.
"Dear Sir:-Since my communication of the 29th of November, and a petition dated the 6th of December last, to which my name was attached, I am induced to trespass again upon your patience with further particulars in relation to the unfortunate faction in Jackson County, on which subject I should be silent were it not that I entertain a hope of suggesting some ideas that may ultimately prove useful in ameliorating the present suffering condition of my brethren, and in some degree restoring peace to both parties.
"Being particularly acquainted with the situation of both parties at this day, my desire is to write impartially; notwithstanding I feel very sensibly the deep wound that has been inflicted upon the church of which I am a member, by the citizens of Jackson County. The petition to your Excellency, dated the 6th of December last, was drawn up hastily by Mr. Phelps and signed by several of us just before the closing of the mail; and there is one item in particular in said petition that needs some explanation: the request that 'our men may be organized into companies of Jackson Guards, and furnished with arms by the State' was made at the instance of disinterested advisers and also a communication from the Attorney General to Messrs. Doniphan and Atchison, dated the 21st of November last, giving his views as to
the propriety of organizing into regular companies, etc. The necessity of being compelled to resort to arms, to regain our possessions in Jackson County, is by no means agreeable to the feelings of the church, and would never be thought of but from pure necessity.
"In relation to the court of inquiry, serious difficulties continue to exist well calculated to preclude the most important testimony of our church, and there appears to be no evil which man is capable of inflicting upon his fellow creature man but what our people are threatened with at this day by the citizens of Jackson County. This intimidates a great many, particularly females and children, and no military guard would diminish their fears so far as to induce them to attend the court in that county. This with other serious difficulties will give a decided advantage to the offenders, in a court of inquiry, while they triumph in power, numbers, etc.
"The citizens of Jackson County are well aware that they have this advantage, and the leaders of the faction, if they must submit to such a court, would gladly hasten it. The church are anxious for a thorough investigation into the whole affair, if their testimony can be taken without so great peril as they have reason to fear. It is my opinion, from present appearances, that not one fourth of the witnesses of our people can be prevailed upon to go into Jackson County to testify. The influence of the party that compose that faction is considerable, and this influence operates in some degree upon the drafted militia, so far as to lessen confidence in the loyalty of that body. And I am satisfied that the influence of the Jackson County faction will not be entirely put down while they have advocates among certain religious sects.
"Knowing that your Excellency must be aware of the unequal contest in which we are engaged, and that the little handful that compose our church are not the only sufferers that feel the oppressive hand of priestly power, with these difficulties, and many others not enumerated, it would be my wish to adopt such measures as are best calculated to allay the rage of Jackson County, and restore the injured to their
rightful possessions. And to this end, I would suggest the propriety of purchasing the possessions of the most violent leaders of the faction, and if they assent to this proposition, about twenty of the most influential in that county, (which would embrace the very leaders of the faction,) could be obtained, I think the majority would cease in their persecutions, at least, when a due exercise of executive counsel and authority was manifested. I suggest this measure because it is of a pacific nature, well knowing that no legal steps are calculated to subdue their obduracy, only when pushed with energy by the highest authorities of the State.
"In this proposal I believe that I should have the concurrence of my brethren. I therefore give this early intimation of our intention, on the part of some of the leading men in the church, to purchase out some of the principal leaders of the faction, if funds sufficient can be raised; hoping thereby to regain peaceful possession of their homes; and in making a trial of this measure at a future day, we may deem it important, and of great utility, if we could avail ourselves of counsel and directions from your Excellency, believing there will be a day in negotiations for peace, in which an executive interposition would produce a salutary effect to both parties.
"In this communication, with honesty of heart I have endeavored briefly to touch upon a few interesting points in plain truth, believing that I have given no wrong bias on either side, and with earnest prayers to our great Benefactor that the chief ruler of this State may come to a full knowledge of the grand outrage in Jackson County. I subscribe myself, Your obedient servant,
"Algernon S. Gilbert.
"To his Excellency, Daniel Dunklin, Jefferson City, Missouri."
Governor Dunklin replied to the petition of the saints, which reply we here present as published in Times and Seasons, pages 977, 978:-
City of Jefferson, February 4, 1834.
"Gentlemen:-Your communication of the 6th of December was regularly received, and duly considered; and had I not
expected to have received the evidence brought out on the inquiry ordered into the military conduct of Colonel Pitcher, in a short time after I received your petition, I should have replied to it long since.
"Last evening I was informed that the further inquiry of the court was postponed until the 20th instant. Then, before I could hear anything from this court, the court of civil jurisdiction will hold its session in Jackson County, consequently I cannot receive anything from one preparatory to arrangements for the other.
"I am very sensible indeed of the injuries your people complain of, and should consider myself very remiss in the discharge of my duties were I not to do everything in my power consistent with the legal exercise of them to afford your society the redress to which they seem entitled. One of your requests needs no evidence to support the right to have it granted; it is that your people be put in possession of their homes from which they have been expelled. But what may be the duty of the Executive after that, will depend upon contingencies.
"If upon inquiry it is found that your people were wrongfully dispossessed of their arms, by Colonel Pitcher, then an order will be issued to have them returned; and should your men organize according to law, which they have a right to do, (indeed it is their duty to do so, unless exempted by religious scruples,) and apply for public arms, the Executive Could not distinguish between their right to have them, and the right of every other description of people similarly situated.
"As to the request for keeping up a military force to protect your people and prevent the commission of crimes and injuries, were I to comply, it would transcend the power with which the Executive of this State is clothed. The Federal Constitution has given to Congress the power to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection, or repel invasion; and for these purposes the President of the United States is authorized to make the call upon the executives of the respective States; and the laws of this State empower the 'commander
in chief in case of actual or threatened invasion, insurrection, or war, or public danger, or other emergency, to call forth into actual service such portion of the militia as he may deem expedient.' These, together with the general provision in our State Constitution that 'the Governor shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed,' are all this branch of Executive powers. None of these, as I consider, embrace the part of your request. The words, 'or other emergency' in our militia law seem quite broad, but the emergency, to come within the object of that provision, shall be of a public nature.
"Your case is certainly a very emergent one, and the consequences as important to your society, as if the war had been waged against the whole State; yet, the public has no other interest in it, than that the laws be faithfully executed; thus far, I presume the whole community feel a deep interest; for that which is the case of the Mormons to-day, may be the case of the Catholics to-morrow, and after them any other sect that may become obnoxious to a majority of the people of any section of the State. So far as a faithful execution of the laws is concerned, the Executive is disposed to do every thing consistent with the means furnished him by the legislature; and I think I may safely say the same of the judiciary.
"As now advised, I am of the opinion that a military guard will be necessary to protect the State witnesses and officers of the court, and to assist in the execution of its orders, while sitting in Jackson County. By this mail I write to Mr. Reese, inclosing [enclosing] him an order on the captain of the 'Liberty Blues,' requiring the captain to comply with the requisition of the circuit attorney in protecting the court and officers and executing their precepts and orders during the progress of these trials. Under the protection of this guard your people can, if they think proper, return to their homes in Jackson County, and be protected in them during the progress of the trial in question, by which time facts will be developed upon which I can act more definitely. The Attorney General will be required to assist the circuit attorney, if the latter deems it necessary.
"On the subject of civil injuries, I must refer you to the court; such questions rest with them exclusively. The laws are sufficient to afford a remedy for every injury of this kind, and, whenever you make out a case, entitling you to damages, there can be no doubt entertained of their ample award. Justice is sometimes slow in its progress, but is not less sure on that account.
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"(Signed) Daniel Dunklin.
"To Messrs.. W. W. Phelps, Isaac Morley, John Whitmer, Edward Partridge, John Corrill, and A. S. Gilbert."
This letter, and in fact all the acts of Governor Dunklin in this difficulty, show him to have been a fair, liberal-minded man, disposed to deal justly and honorably with all.
On February 24 court convened in Independence, and some of the leading men of the church were present as witnesses in the case of "The State of Missouri vs. Colonel Thomas Pitcher." They were protected by military guard under command of Captain Atchison. The mob again collected and so intimidated the court that no trial was had. In regard to this incident we present the account given by W. W. Phelps in a letter written from Clay County, Missouri, February 27, 1834, and published in Evening and Morning Star, pages 276, 277.
"Clay County, February 27,1834.
"Dear Brethren:-The times are so big with events, and the anxiety of everybody so great to watch them, that I feel somewhat impressed to write oftener than I have done, in order to give you more of the 'strange acts' of this region. I have just returned from Independence, the seat of war in the West. About a dozen of our brethren, among whom were Brn. Partridge, Corrill, and myself, were subpnaed in behalf of the State, and on the 23d (February) about twelve o'clock we were on the bank, opposite Everit's ferry, where we found Captain Atchison's company of 'Liberty Blues,' near fifty rank and file, ready to guard us into Jackson County. The soldiers were well armed with United States muskets, bayonets fixed, etc., and to me the scene was one 'passing strange,' and long to be remembered. The
martial law in force to guard the civil! About twenty-five men crossed over to effect a landing in safety, and when they came near the warehouse, they fired six or eight guns, though the enemy had not gathered to witness the landing.
"After we were all across, and waiting for the baggage wagon, it was thought not advisable to encamp in the woods, and the witnesses with half the company, marched nearly a mile towards Independence, to build night fires, as we were without tents, and the weather cold enough to snow a little. While on the way the Quartermaster, and others, that had gone on ahead to prepare quarters in town, sent an express back, which was not the most pacific appearance that could be. Captain Atchison continued the express to Colonel Allen for the two hundred drafted militia; and also to Liberty for more ammunition; and the night passed off in warlike style, with the sentinels marching silently at a proper distance from the watch fires.
"Early in the morning we marched strongly guarded by the troops, to the seat of war, and quartered in the blockhouse, formerly the tavern stand of S. Flournoy. After breakfast, we were visited by the District Attorney, Mr. Rees, and the Attorney General, Mr. Wells. From them we learned that all hopes of criminal prosecution were at an end. Mr. Wells had been sent by the Governor to investigate, as far as possible, the Jackson outrage, but the bold front of the mob, bound even unto death (as I have heard), was not to be penetrated by civil law, or awed by Executive influence. Shortly after Captain A. informed me that he had just received an order from the Judge, that his company's service was no longer wanted in Jackson County, and we were marched out of town to the tune of Yankee Doodle in quick time, and soon returned to our camp ground without the loss of any lives. In fact much credit is due to Captain Atchison for his gallantry and hospitality, and I think I can say of the officers and company that their conduct as soldiers and men is highly reputable; so much so, knowing as I do, the fatal result, had the militia come, or not come, I can add that the Captain's safe return, refreshed my mind, with Zenophon's retreat of the ten thousand. Thus ends all
hopes of 'redress,' even with a guard ordered by the Governor, for the protection of the court and witnesses.
"Before a crop is harvested, it becomes ripe of itself. The dreadful deeds now done in Jackson County, with impunity, must bring matters to a focus shortly. Within two or three weeks past, some of the most savage acts ever witnessed, have been committed by these bitter branches. Old Father Linsey, whose locks have been whitened by the blasts of nearly seventy winters, had his house thrown down, after he was driven from it; his goods, corn, etc., piled together, and fire put to it; but fortunately, after the mob retired, his son extinguished it.
"The mob has quit whipping, and now beat with clubs. Lyman Leonard, one of the number that returned from Van Buren, had two chairs broke to splinters about him, and was then dragged out of doors and beaten with clubs till he was supposed to be dead-but he is yet alive. Josiah Sumner and Barnet Cole were severely beaten at the same time. The mob have commenced burning houses, stacks, etc., and we shall not think it out of their power, by any means, to proceed to murder any of our people that shall try to live in that county, or perhaps, only go there.
"Such scenes as are transpiring around us, are calculated to arouse feelings and passions in all, and to strengthen the faith and fortify the hearts of the saints for great things. Our Savior laid down his life for our sakes, and shall we, who profess to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, shall we, the servants of the Lord of the vineyard, who are called and chosen to prune it for the last time, shall we, yea, verily, we, who are enlightened by the wisdom of heaven, shall we fear to do as much for Jesus as he did for us? No; we will obey the voice of the Spirit, that good may overcome the world.
"I am a servant, etc.,
"W. W. PHELPS."
In confirmation of the account given by Elder Phelps of the mobbing of Lyman Leonard, Abigail Leonard his wife made affidavit. 2
2 "I, Abigail Leonard, depose and say that on the night of the 20th of
Convinced now that recourse to the Courts of Jackson County would be unavailing their next step was to appeal to the President of the United States for protection, in their homes, after they should be reinstated by the Governor. On April 10 the following petition was forwarded to President Jackson:-
"Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, April 10, 1834.
"To the President of the United States of America:-We, the undersigned, your petitioners, Citizens of the United States of America, and residents of the County of Clay, in the State of Missouri, being members of the Church of Christ, reproachfully called Mormons, beg leave to refer the President to our former petition, dated in October last, and also to lay before him the accompanying handbill, dated December 12, 1833, with assurances that the said handbill exhibits but a faint sketch of the sufferings of your petitioners and their brethren up to the period of its publication.
"The said handbill shows that at the time of dispersion, a number of our families fled into the new and unsettled county of Van Buren, but being unable to procure provisions
February, 1834, in the county of Jackson, and State of Missouri, a company of men, armed with whips and guns, about fifty or sixty in number, came to the house of my husband; among them was John Youngs Mr. Yocum, Mr. Cantrell, Mr. Patterson, and Mr. Noland. Five of the number entered the house, among them was John Youngs. They ordered my husband to leave the house, threatening to shoot him if he did not. He not complying with their desires, one of the five took a chair and struck him upon the head, knocking him down, and then dragging him out of the house, I in the meantime begging of them to spare his life, when one of the number called to the others telling them to take me into the house, for I would "over power every devil of them," Three of the company then approached me, and presenting their guns, declared with an oath, if I did not go in they would blow me through. While this was transpiring, Mr. Patterson jumped upon my husband with his heels; my husband then got up, they stripped his clothes all from him excepting his pantaloons, then five or six attacked him with whips and gunsticks, and whipped him till he could not stand but fell to the ground. I then went to them and took their whips from them. I then called for Mrs. Bruce, who lived in the same house with us, to come out and help me to carry my husband into the house. When carried in he was very much lacerated and bruised, and unable to lie upon a bed, and was also unable to work for a number of months. Also, at the same time and place, Mr. Josiah Sumner was taken from the house, and came in very bloody and bruised from whipping.
(Signed) Abigail Leonard,
-Times add Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1023.
in that county through the winter, many of them were compelled to return to their homes in Jackson County or perish with hunger. But they had no sooner set foot upon the soil, which a few months before we had purchased of the United States, than they were again met by the citizens of Jackson County, and a renewal of savage barbarities inflicted upon these families by beating with clubs and sticks, presenting knives and firearms, and threatening with death if they did not flee from the county. These inhuman assaults upon a number of these families were repeated at two or three different times through the past winter, till they were compelled at last to abandon their possessions in Jackson County and flee with their mangled bodies into this county, here to mingle their tears and unite their supplications, with hundreds of their brethren, to our heavenly Father, and to the chief ruler of our nation.
"Between one and two thousand of the people called Mormons have been driven by force of arms from Jackson County, in this State, since the first of November last, being compelled to leave their highly cultivated fields, the greater part of which had been bought of the United States, and all this on account of our belief in direct revelation from God to the children of men, according to the Holy Scriptures. We know that such illegal violence has not been inflicted upon any sect or community of people by the citizens of the United States since the Declaration of Independence.
"That this is a religious persecution, is notorious throughout our county; for while the officers of the county, both civil and military, were accomplices in these unparalleled outrages, engaged in the destruction of the printing office, dwelling houses, etc., yet the records of the judicial tribunals of that county are not stained with a crime against our people. Our numbers being greatly inferior to the enemy, we were unable to stand up in self-defense; and our lives, at this day, are continually threatened by that infuriated people, so that our personal safety forbids one of our number going into that county on business.
"We beg leave to state that no impartial investigation into this criminal matter can be made, because the offenders must
be tried in the county where the offense was committed, and the inhabitants of the county, both magistrates and people, were combined, with the exception of a few; justice cannot be expected. At this day your petitioners do not know of a solitary family belonging to our church but what have been violently expelled from Jackson County by the inhabitants thereof.
"Your petitioners have, not gone into detail with an account of their individual sufferings from death and bruised bodies and the universal distress which prevails at this day, in a greater or less degree, throughout our whole body. Not only because those sacred rights guaranteed to every religious sect have been publicly invaded, in open hostility to the spirit and genius of free government, but such of their houses as have not been burnt, their lands and most of the products of the labor of their hands for the last year have been wrested from them by a band of outlaws, congregated in Jackson County on the western frontiers of the United States, within about thirty miles of the United States' military post at Fort Leavenworth, on the Missouri River.
"Your petitioners say that they do not enter a minute detail of the sufferings in this petition, lest they should weary the patience of the venerable chief whose arduous duties they know are great, and daily accumulating. We only hope to show him that [in] this unprecedented emergency in the history of our country-that the magistracy thereof is set at defiance, and justice checked in open violation of its laws, and that we, your petitioners, who are almost wholly native born citizens of these United States, of whom they purchased their lands in Jackson County, Missouri, with intent to cultivate the same as peaceable citizens, are now forced from them, and dwelling in the counties of Clay, Ray, and Lafayette in the State of Missouri, without permanent homes, and suffering all the privations which must necessarily result from such inhuman treatment. Under these sufferings your petitioners petitioned the Governor of this State, in December last, in answer to which, we received the following letter."
[Here follows the Governor's letter of February 4.]
"By the foregoing letter from the Governor, the President will perceive a disposition manifested by him to enforce the laws as far as means have been furnished him by the legislature of this State. But the powers vested in the Executive of this State appear to be inadequate for relieving the distresses of your petitioners in their present emergency. He is willing to send a guide to conduct our families back to their possessions, but is not authorized to direct a military force to be stationed any length of time for the protection of your petitioners. This step would be laying the foundation for a more fatal tragedy than the first, as our numbers at present are too small to contend single handed with the mob of said county; and as 'the Federal Constitution has given to Congress the power to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, or repel invasions, and for these purposes the President of the United States is authorized to make the call upon the Executives of the respective States.' Therefore, we your petitioners, in behalf of our society, which is so scattered and suffering, most humbly pray that we may be restored to our lands, houses, and property in Jackson County, and protected in them by an armed force, till peace can be restored, and as in duty bound, will ever pray.
"Here followed one hundred and fourteen signatures; viz.: 'Edward Partridge, John Corrill, John Whitmer, Isaac Morley, A. S. Gilbert, W. W. Phelps,' etc., etc.
"The following letter accompanied the foregoing petition:-
"Liberty, Clay County, Mo., April 10,1834.
"To the President of the United States:-We the undersigned, whose names are subscribed to the accompanying petition, some of the leading members of the Church of Christ, beg leave to refer the President to the petition and handbill herewith. (See Times and Seasons, volume 6, page 881.) We are not insensible of the multiplicity of business and numerous petitions, by which the cares and perplexities of our chief ruler are daily increased; and it is with diffidence we venture to lay before the Executive
at this emergent period, these two documents, wherein is briefly portrayed the most unparalleled persecution, and flagrant outrage of law that has disgraced the country, since the Declaration of Independence; but knowing the independent fortitude, and vigorous energy for preserving the rights of the citizens of this republic, which has hither to marked the course of our chief magistrate, we are encouraged to hope that this communication will not pass unnoticed, but that the President will consider our location on the extreme western frontier of the United States, exposed to many ignorant and lawless ruffians, who are already congregated, and determined to nullify all law that will secure to your petitioners the peaceable possession of their lands in Jackson County. We again repeat, that our society are wandering in adjoining counties at this day, bereft of their houses and lands, and threatened with death by the aforesaid outlaws of Jackson County.
"'And lest the President should have been deceived in regard to our true situation, by the misrepresentations of certain individuals, who are disposed to cover the gross outrages of the mob, from religious, political, and speculative motives, we beg leave to refer him to the Governor of this State, at the same time informing that the number of men composing the mob of Jackson County may be estimated at from three to five hundred, most of them prepared with firearms.
"'After noting the statements here made, if it should be the disposition of the President to grant aid, we most humbly entreat that early relief may be extended to suffering families, who are now expelled from their possessions by force of arms. Our lands in Jackson County are about thirty miles distant from Fort Leavenworth, on the Missouri River. With due respect, we are Sir,
"'Your obedient servants,
"'A. S. GILBERT.
"'W. W. PHELPS.
"'P. S.-In February last a number of our people were marched under guard furnished by the Governor of the State,
into Jackson County, for the purpose of prosecuting the mob criminally; but the Attorney General of the State, and the District Attorney, knowing the force and power of the mob, advised us to relinquish all hope of criminal prosecution to effect anything against the band of outlaws, and were turned under guard, without the least prospect of ever obtaining our rights and possessions in Jackson County, with any other means than a few companies of the United States' regular troops to guard and assist us till we are safely settled.'"-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 1041, 1042, 1057.
On the same date the following letter was forwarded to Governor Dunklin asking his coöperation:-
"Liberty, Clay County, Mo., April 10, 1834.
"To His Excellency, Daniel Dunklin, Governor of Missouri;
Dear Sir:-Notwithstanding you may have become somewhat tired of receiving communications from us, yet we beg of your Excellency to pardon us for this, as we have this day forwarded a petition to the President of the United States, setting forth our distressed condition, together with your Excellency's views of it, as well as the limited powers with which you are clothed, to afford that protection, which we need to enjoy our rights and lands in Jackson County. A few lines from the Governor of the State, in connection with our humble entreaties for our possessions and privileges, we think would be of considerable consequence towards bringing about the desired effect, and would be gratefully acknowledged by us and our society, and we may add, by all honorable men.
"We therefore, as humble petitioners, ask the favor of your Excellency to write to the President of the United States, that he may assist us, or our society, in obtaining our rights in Jackson County, and help protect us when there, till we are safe, as in duty bound, we will ever pray.
"(Signed) "W. W. PHELPS.
"A. S. GILBERT.
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1058.
To this letter he wisely replied as follows:-
"CITY OF JEFFERSON, April 20, 1834
"To Messrs. W. W. Phelps, E. Partridge, John Corrill, John Whitmer, and A. S. Gilbert; Gentlemen:-Yours of the 10th inst. was received yesterday, in which you request me, as Executive of this State, to join in an appeal to the President of the United States for protection in the enjoyment of your rights in Jackson County. It will readily occur to you, no doubt, the possibility of your having asked of the President protection in a way that he, no more than the Executive of this State, can render. If you have [asked] for that which I may be of opinion he has power to grant, I should have no objection to join in urging it upon him. But I could no more ask the President, however willing I am to see your society restored and protected in their rights, to do that which I may believe he has no power to do, than I could do such an act myself. If you will send me a copy of your petition to the President, I will judge of his rights to grant it, and if of opinion he possesses the power, I will write in favor of its exercise.
"I am now in correspondence with the Federal Government, on the subject of deposits of munitions of war on our northern and western borders, and have no doubt but shall succeed in procuring one, which will be located, if left to me, (and the Secretary at War seems willing to be governed by the opinion of the Executive of this State,) some where near the State line, either in Jackson or Clay County. The establishment will be an 'arsenal' and will probably be placed under the command of a lieutenant of the army. This will afford you the best means of military protection the nature of your case will admit. Although I can see no direct impropriety in making the subject of this paragraph public, yet I should prefer it not to be so considered for the present, as the erection of an arsenal is only in expectancy.
"Permit me to suggest to you that as you now have greatly the advantage of your adversaries in public estimation, that there is a great propriety in retaining that advantage, which you can easily do by keeping your adversaries in the wrong. The laws, both civil and military, seem deficient in affording your society proper protection; nevertheless
public sentiment is a powerful corrector of error, and you should make it your policy to continue to deserve it.
"With much respect, and great regard,
I am your obedient servant,
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1059.
In answer to the petition to President Jackson the following was received:-
"WAR DEPARTMENT, May 2, 1834.
"Gentlemen:-The President has referred to this department the memorial and letter addressed to him by yourselves and other citizens of Missouri, requesting his interposition in order to protect your persons and property.
"In answer, I am instructed to inform you that the offenses of which you complain are violations of the laws of the State of Missouri, and not of the laws of the United States. The powers of the President under the Constitution and laws, to direct the employment of a military force in cases where the ordinary civil authorities are found insufficient, extend only to proceedings under the laws of the United States.
"Where an insurrection in any State exists against the government thereof, the president is required on the application of such State, or of the Executive, (when the Legislature cannot be convened,) to call forth such a number of the militia as he may judge sufficient to suppress such insurrection.
"But this State of things does not exist in Missouri, or if it does, the fact is not shown in the mode pointed out by law. The President cannot call out a military force to aid in the execution of the State laws, until the proper requisition is made upon him by the constituted authorities.
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"(Signed) LEWIS CASS. [Secretary of War.]
"To Messrs. A. S. Gilbert, W. W. Phelps, E. Partridge, and others, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1073.
It is evident that the then unsettled doctrine of States' rights, which was differently understood by different officials, prevented the execution of justice.
On April 24 the elders in Clay County again wrote the Governor as follows:-
"Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, April 24, 1834.
"Dear Sir:-In our last communication of the 10th inst., we omitted to make inquiry concerning the evidence brought up before the court of inquiry in the case of Colonel Pitcher. The court met pursuant to adjournment on the 20th February last, and, for some reasons unknown to us, we have not been able to obtain information concerning the opinion or decision of that court. We had hoped that the testimony would have been transmitted to your Excellency before this, that an order might be issued for the return of our arms, of which we have been wrongfully dispossessed, as we believe will clearly appear to the commander in chief when the evidence is laid before him.
"As suggested in your communication of the 4th of February, we have concluded to organize according to law and apply for public arms, but we feared that such a step, which must be attended with public ceremonies, might produce some excitement, and we have thus far delayed any movement of that nature, hoping to regain our arms from Jackson that we might independently equip ourselves and be prepared to assist in the maintenance of our constitutional rights and liberties as guaranteed to us by our country, and also to defend our persons and property from a lawless mob when it shall please the Executive, at some future day, to put us in possession of our homes, from which we have been most wickedly expelled. We are happy to make an expression of our thanks for the willingness manifested by the Executive to enforce the laws, as he can consistently 'with the means furnished him by the legislature,' and we are firmly persuaded that a future day will verify to him whatever aid we may receive from the Executive has not been lavished upon a band of traitors, but upon a people whose respect and veneration for the laws of our country, and its pure republican principles, are as great as that of any other society in the United States.
"As our Jackson foes and their correspondents are busy in circulating slanderous and wicked reports concerning our
people, their views, etc., we have deemed it expedient to inform your Excellency that we have received communications from our friends in the East, informing us that a number of our brethren, perhaps two or three hundred, would remove to Jackson County in the course of the ensuing summer, and we are satisfied that when the Jackson mob get the intelligence that a large number of our people are about to remove into that county, they will raise a great hue and cry, and circulate many bugbears through the medium of their favorite press. But we think your Excellency is well aware that our object is purely to defend ourselves and possessions against another unparalleled attack from the mob, inasmuch as the Executive of this State cannot keep up a military force 'to protect our people in that country without transcending his power.' We want, therefore, the privilege of defending ourselves and the Constitution of our country, while God is willing we should have a being on his footstool.
"We do not know at what time our friends will arrive, but expect more certain intelligence in a few weeks. Whenever they do arrive, it would be the wish of our people in this county to return to our homes in company with our friends under guard, and when once in legal possession of our homes in Jackson County, we shall endeavor to take care of them without further wearying the patience of our worthy Chief Magistrate. We will write hereafter, or send an express. During the intermediate time we would be glad to hear of the prospect of recovering our arms.
"With due respect, we are, sir,
"Your obedient servants,
"(Signed) "A. S. GILBERT.
"W. W. PHELPS.
"P. S.-Many of our brethren who are expected on, had made arrangements to emigrate to this State before the outrages of the mob last fall. We hope the painful emergency of our case will plead an excuse for our frequent communications."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1072.
To this Governor Dunklin replied as follows:-
"CITY OF JEFFERSON, May 2, 1834.
"To Messrs. W. W. Phelps and others; Gentlemen:-Yours of the 24th ult., is before me, in reply to which I can inform you that becoming impatient at the delay of the court of inquiry in making their report in the case of Lieutenant Colonel Pitcher; on the 11th ult. I wrote to General Thompson for the reasons of such delay; last night I received his reply, and with it the report of the court of inquiry, from the tenor of which I find no difficulty in deciding that the arms your people were required to surrender on the 5th of last November should be returned; and have issued his order to Colonel Lucas to deliver them to you or your order, which order is here inclosed [enclosed].
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
"(Signed) Daniel Dunklin."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1073.
By the following it will be seen that a competent court decided unanimously that the calling out of the troops by Col. Pitcher, in November, 1833, was illegal, and the demanding of the arms of the Mormons was unnecessary. Thus were the brethren vindicated by the court.
This order for the return of their arms was issued by Governor Dunklin, as commander in chief, and is as follows:-
"CITY OF JEFFERSON, May 2, 1834.
"To Samuel D. Lucas, Colonel Thirty-third Regiment; Sir:-The court ordered to inquire into the conduct of Lieutenant Colonel Pitcher, in the movement he made on the 5th November last, report it as their unanimous opinion that there was no insurrection on that day, and that Colonel Pitcher was not authorized to call out his troops on the 5th November, 1833. It was then unnecessary to require the Mormons to give up their arms. Therefore, you will deliver to W. W. Phelps, E. Partridge, John Corrill, John Whitmer, and A. S. Gilbert, or their order, the fifty-two guns, and one pistol reported by Lieutenant Colonel Pitcher to you on the 3d December last. as having been received by
him from the Mormons on the 5th of the preceding November.
"Daniel Dunklin, Commander in Chief."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 1073, 1074.
On May 7 the brethren again wrote the Governor as follows:-
"LIBERTY, Clay County, May 7, 1834.
"Dear Sir:-Your favor of the 20th ult. came to hand the 1st inst., which gives us a gleam of hope that the time will come when we may experience a partial mitigation of our sufferings. The salutary advice at the conclusion of your letter is received with great deference.
"Since our last of the 24th ult., the mob of Jackson County have burned our dwellings. As near as we can ascertain, between one hundred and one hundred and fifty were consumed by fire in about one week; our arms were also taken from the depository (the jail) about ten days since and distributed among the mob. Great efforts are now making by said mob to stir up the citizens of this county and Lafayette to similar outrages against us, but we think they will fail of accomplishing their wicked designs in this county. We here annex a copy of the petition to the President, signed by about one hundred and twenty.
"With great respect, etc.,
(Signed) "A. S. GILBERT.
"W. W. PHELPS.
"Daniel Dunklin, Governor of Missouri."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1074.
On May 15 they wrote Colonel Lucas, inclosing [enclosing] the order of the commander in chief for the arms. The following is a copy of their letter:-
"LIBERTY, Clay County, May 15, 1834.
"Col. S. D. Lucas; Sir:-We have this day received a communication from the Governor of this State, covering the order herewith, and we hasten to forward the said order to you, by the bearer, Mr. Richardson, who is instructed to receive your reply. We would further remark that, under existing circumstances, we hope to receive our arms on this side the river, and we would name a place near one of the ferries for your convenience. As the arms are few in number
we request that they may be delivered with as little delay as possible.
"(Signed) "A. S. GILBERT.
"W. W. PHELPS.
"P. S.-We will thank You for a written communication, in answer to this letter, and the accompanying order."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1075.
They waited on Colonel Lucas until the 29th, when upon receiving no reply from him, they wrote again to the Executive, as follows:-
"LIBERTY, Missouri, May 29, 1834.
"Sir:-Your communication to us of May 2 containing or inclosing [enclosing] an order on Colonel S. D. Lucas for the arms which were forcibly taken from us last November, was received the 15th inst., and the order forwarded to Colonel Lucas, at Independence, on the 17th, giving him the privilege of returning our arms at either of the several ferries in this county. His reply to the order was, that he would write what he would do the next mail (May 22). But as he has removed to Lexington without writing, we are at a loss to know whether he means to delay returning them for a season, or entirely refuse to restore them.
"At any rate, the excitement, or rather spite of the mob, runs so high against our people, that we think best to request your Excellency to have said arms returned through the agency of Colonel Allen or Captain Atchison. Report says the arms will not be returned, and much exertion is making by the mob to prevent our return to our possessions in Jackson County. We also understand that the mob is employing certain influential gentlemen to write to your Excellency, to persuade us to compromise our matters in difference with the Jackson mob, and probably divide Jackson County. We ask for our rights and no more.
"Respectfully, your Excellency's servants,
(Signed) "W. W. PHELPS.
"A. S GILBERT.
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 1075, 1076.
Again on June 5 they wrote:-
"LIBERTY, June 5, 1834.
"Dear Sir:-We think the time is just at hand when our society will be glad to avail themselves of the protection of a military guard, that they may return to Jackson County. We do not know the precise day, but Mr. Reese gives his opinion that there would be no impropriety in petitioning your Excellency for an order on the commanding officer to be sent by return of mail that we might have it in our hands to present when our people are ready to start. If this should meet your approbation and the order sent by return of mail, we think it would be of great convenience to our society.
"We would also be obliged to your Excellency for information concerning the necessary expenses of ferriage, etc. Are our people bound to pay the ferriage on their return? As they have already sustained heavy losses, and many of them lost their all, a mitigation of expenses on their return at this time, where they could legally be reduced, would afford great relief; not only ferriage across the Missouri River, but other items of expense that could lawfully be reduced.
"We remain your Excellency's most obedient servants,
"A. S. GILBERT.
"W. W. PHELPS.
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 1076, 1077.
Notwithstanding the order to General Lucas to deliver up arms, he never did so, nor were they ever recovered.
While affairs were in this condition some of the citizens of Clay County offered their services to negotiate a compromise.
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