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FOR a short time after the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith outside opposition was silent, waiting no doubt to see what the effect of their diabolical deed would be. Some were greatly excited, supposing that the Mormons would arise in fury and avenge the blood of the slain. Many in the surrounding country fled from their homes, expecting that the country would be desolated by fire and sword. Doubtless there were some among the members of the church who were inclined to wreak vengeance in a summary way, but better counsel prevailed, and the saints remained quietly at home appealing to God for protection and vindication.
Governor Ford in his history speaks of affairs at Carthage as follows:-
"But first, I determined to return back to Carthage and make such arrangements as could be made for the pacification and defense of the country. When I arrived there, about ten o'clock at night, I found that great consternation prevailed. Many of the citizens had departed with their families, and others were preparing to go. As the country was utterly defenseless, this seemed to me to be a proper precaution. One company of the guard stationed by me to guard the jail had disbanded and gone home before the jail was attacked, and many of the Carthage Greys departed soon afterwards."-History of Illinois, p. 350.
Gregg writes of the situation as follows:-
"On the morning of the 28th of June, 1844, the sun rose on as strange a scene as the broad Hancock prairies had ever witnessed. At the three corners of a triangle, eighteen miles asunder, two of them resting on the Mississippi, stood a smitten and mourning city and two almost deserted villages, with here and there a group of questioning men, anxious to obtain the news of the night. These were Nauvoo and the villages of Carthage and Warsaw. Toward the two villages the more courageous ones who had fled the evening before, were now returning, tired and worn, to find their several homes unsacked and untouched, and their streets untrodden by a vengeful and infuriated foe. The wet and heavy roads leading to the county seat from the east and south were being again traversed by the refugees of the night, now returning where they had so lately fled in terror. The blue waves of the Mississippi rolled peacefully past the stricken city, as when, a few days before, its shores resounded to the Legion's martial tread. All the people knew that a great crime had been committed, by whom they dared not guess; and they knew not how, upon whom, where, or in what manner, retribution might fall!"-The Prophet of Palmyra, pp. 281, 282.
No doubt some fled because they were conscious of guilt, and remained quiet, waiting to see what steps, if any, would be taken to bring them to punishment.
Soon however the "anti-Mormon" papers, conspicuous among which were the Sangamon Journal and Warsaw Signal, commenced to agitate the public mind against the "Mormons," and a very hostile spirit was engendered. In October, 1844, there was a great gathering announced at Warsaw. It was given out that it was to be a great wolf hunt, but secretly it was whispered that the wolves were to be Mormons. This was communicated to the governor, and troops were sent under the command of General Hardin, the Governor accompanying them. On the approach of the troops the mob fled, and immediate hostilities were abandoned.
Of this uprising and its immediate causes and consequences Governor Ford wrote:-
"In the course of the fall of 1844, the anti-Mormon leaders sent printed invitations to all the militia captains in Hancock, and to the captains of militia in all the neighboring counties in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, to be present with their companies at a great wolf hunt in Hancock; and it was privately announced that the wolves to be hunted were the Mormons and Jack Mormons. Preparations were made for assembling several thousand men, with provisions for six days; and the anti-Mormon newspapers, in aid of the movement, commenced anew the most awful accounts of thefts and robberies and meditated outrages by the Mormons. The whig press in every part of the United States came to their assistance. The democratic newspapers and leading democrats who had received the benefit of the Mormon votes to their party, quailed under the tempest, leaving no organ for the correction of public opinion, either at home or abroad, except the discredited Mormon newspaper at Nauvoo. But very few of my prominent democratic friends would dare to come up to the assistance of their governor, and but few of them dared openly to vindicate his motives in endeavoring to keep the peace. They were willing and anxious for Mormon votes at elections, but they were unwilling to risk their popularity with the people, by taking a part in their favor, even when law and justice and the constitution were all on their side. Such being the odious character of the Mormons, the hatred of the common people against them, and such being the pusillanimity of leading men, in fearing to encounter it.
"In this state of the case I applied to Brigadier General J. J. Hardin, of the State militia, and to Colonels Baker and Merriman, all whigs, but all of them men of military ambition, and they, together with Colonel William Weatherford, a democrat, with my own exertions, succeeded in raising about five hundred volunteers; and thus did these whigs, that which my own political friends, with two or three exceptions, were slow to do, from a sense of duty and gratitude.
"With this little force under the command of General Hardin, I arrived in Hancock County on the 25th of October.
The malcontents abandoned their design, and all the leaders of it fled to Missouri. The Carthage Greys fled almost in a body, carrying their arms along with them. During our stay in the county the anti-Mormons thronged into the camp and conversed freely with the men, who were fast infected with their prejudices, and it was impossible to get any of the officers to aid in expelling them."-History of Illinois, pp. 364, 365.
The agitation still continued, however, and the citizens of Nauvoo were accused of harboring a band of thieves and counterfeiters and of committing other very serious crimes. Public opinion was at a high tension, and hostilities were daily expected.
The following January the City Council and also the citizens of Nauvoo in mass meeting assembled, denied the allegations, and declared their allegiance to law and order. The following was given to the public by the City Council:-
"THE VOICE OF NAUVOO!
"Proceedings of the City Council; Preamble.
"It is with feelings of deep and inexpressible regret that we learn that the inhabitants of various parts of this State are seeking to accumulate all the real and supposed crimes of the whole community for the secret or ostensible purpose of raising a tide of influence against the Mormon community that shall sweep them into irrecoverable ruin. This course of conduct, originating with our mortal enemies and gathering in its wake, other men that would revolt at the idea of lending a hand to oppress a long abused people that are struggling against foes within and foes without, is at the present almost insupportable to our feelings. We have scarcely laid by our mourning weeds for murdered men, whom we promptly surrendered up to the State of Illinois for an equitable trial; and now we see in embryo another campaign to spill yet more blood and effect an utter extermination and massacre. We sought to rid our city of counterfeiters and blacklegs. These, together with our foes without and within, had established a printing press of unparalleled
rancor and malignity. But our efforts to obtain freedom from such vicious monsters cost us much tribulation and precious blood.
"The impunity thus far granted the murderers by the Senate and other authorities of the State of Illinois has emboldened them and their apologists to set on foot a series of other exciting causes that they hope will either destroy this community, or prevent their criminals from being brought to punishment. We have not so much fear that our enemies will succeed in their fiendish designs against us, as we have that the peace and good order of the people of the State will be disturbed, and fearful anarchy and bloody misrule will ensue among those who listen to and countenance the fell designs of those who are stealing from quiet citizens of the State and palming upon them a spurious and false currency, and charging to the Mormons their own crimes. If they shall succeed, the citizens will be involved in continual larcenies, and neighborhood broils and crimes, the end of which cannot now be foreseen. We deprecate such evils and calamities because we desire the good of all mankind, as the gratuitous labors of the greater portion of our citizens in spreading truth throughout the world under much poverty and suffering, abundantly prove.
"As for us, our course is fixed, and while we are peaceable and loyal to the Constitution and laws of our country, and ever willing to join hands with the honest, virtuous, and patriotic in suppressing crime and punishing criminals, we will leave our enemies to judge whether it would not be better to make Nauvoo one universal burying ground, before we suffer ourselves to be driven from our hard-earned and lawful homes, by such high-handed oppression, and it may yet become a question to be decided by the community, whether the Mormons will, after having witnessed their best men murdered without redress, quietly and patiently suffer their enemies to wrench from them the last shreds of their constitutional rights; and whether they will not make their city one great sepulchre [sepulcher], rather than be the humble devotees at the shrine of mobocracy. But for the satisfaction of all concerned, we reiterate in the following resolutions, sentiments
that we have always expressed in all places as occasion demanded:-
"Resolved, that the greater part of the thefts which have been complained of are not, in our opinion, true in fact, but have been trumped up by inimical persons, in order to cover their aggressive doings, with plausibility, and entice honest and unwary citizens to unite with them in the same uncompromising hostility against this people.
"Resolved, that we defy the world to substantiate a single instance where we have concealed criminals or screened them from justice, but on the contrary, always have been and now are extremely anxious that they should be ferreted out and brought to justice; and to this end would esteem it a favor, that if any person should lose property or have good and sufficient reason to suspect any place of containing apparatus for making bogus or counterfeit money, that such person would follow up, trace out, and make diligent search for all such property and apparatus, and if they can trace it into this city, we pledge ourselves to assist them legally, to the extent of our abilities, in so laudable an undertaking.
"Resolved, that it is our opinion that very many scoundrels, such as thieves, robbers, bogus makers, counterfeiters, and murderers, have been induced from reports published in the Warsaw Signal to flock into this county in order to carry on their evil practices, knowing that it would be immediately charged upon the Mormons, and thereby they escape; and although we think that the reports of thefts have been very much exaggerated, yet we know from dear bought experience that such things do exist, and further we doubt not there may be some such characters prowling in and about our city.
"Resolved, that we are extremely anxious to ferret out and bring to justice all such persons, if any, that are within the limits of our city, and for this purpose we have authorized our Mayor to enlarge the police to any number not exceeding five hundred, and we also pledge ourselves to double our diligence, and call upon our citizens to assist in
ridding our city and country of all such infamous characters.
Done, in council, this 13th day of January, 1845.
"D. SPENCER, Mayor.
"W. RICHARDS, Recorder."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 773, 774.
The following are the proceedings of the mass meeting:-
"MEETING OF THE CITIZENS.
"At a large meeting of the citizens of Nauvoo, convened at the stand, on the 14th day of January, 1845, Daniel Spencer, Mayor of the city, was called to the chair, and James Sloan appointed secretary; and Samuel Bent, Alpheus Cutler, C. C. Rich, Phinehas Richards, and David Fulmer were appointed a committee to draft a preamble and resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting on the proceedings of the city council, and for the action of this meeting. The committee retired and in a short time returned the following, which were adopted unanimously:-
"Whereas, the city council of the city of Nauvoo have presented to this meeting a preamble and sundry resolutions setting forth the fact that enemies to the people of this city, and as we believe, enemies to the common welfare of the people of this State, are attempting to get up an extensive popular excitement, prejudicial to this people and the country at large; and whereas, said resolutions set forth an unqualified reprobation of all unlawful and villainous conduct, whether under the false color of Mormonism or the real guise of mobbers, blacklegs, bogus makers, thieves, wolf hunters, or murderers; therefore, we hereby express our perfect concurrence in the said preamble and resolutions.
"And whereas, the Warsaw Signal, the Alton Telegraph, and the Quincy Whig have been, as we believe, industriously engaged in circulating falsehood, disseminating discord, and the principles of mobocracy; and whereas, Mormon extermination, pillage, robbery, and murder have received both countenance and apology in these scurrilous prints, as we
believe; and whereas, the pen of murderers, as we believe, has occupied the columns of these papers in order to deafen the cries of innocent blood that ascends to heaven for vengeance; and whereas, a large share of the thefts spoken of and blazed through the land are wholly without existence when traced out, as appears not only from the instance recorded in the Governor's message concerning horse stealing, but from other similar instances, too numerous to mention; and whereas, it has been zealously reported that much stolen goods could be traced to Nauvoo, and that no citizen could enter our city to search for thieves and stolen goods because the thief and goods would be screened from detection by the Mormon fraternity and the person in search would be in jeopardy of his life; and whereas, thieves and counterfeiters have in some instances fled to our city, either under the mistaken apprehension that we would screen them, or from a malignant design to palm upon us their own crimes, and thereby draw us under the lash of persecution; and whereas, it can be proved that individuals, in order to swell the list of Mormon depredations, have reported property to be stolen, which at another time they have acknowledged, they sold the same property and received pay;
"And whereas, bee yards have been robbed, the hives left at the Mormons' doors, to palm the theft upon us, when the honey has been found in the houses of our enemies; and whereas, an innumerable number of such infamous tricks have been played upon us, by our enemies, as we believe, for the purpose of blackening our character in the eyes of honest men; and whereas, our city is nightly infested with a set of outlandish men, who, we believe, visit us for no good purpose, who do not appear to have any lawful business, but rather, as we believe, are endeavoring to scatter amongst us their bogus and counterfeits, prostitute the virtue of the place, deposit stolen goods, or steal from us, and by every means in their power sow the seeds of discord, strife, confusion, mobocracy, and murder, that in the end they may uproot our beautiful city; and whereas, that in some instances, when the ministers of justice have visited our city, at the dark hour of midnight, for the purpose of making legal arrests, as they say, we
believe what is reported to us, that they have employed runners to steal the saddles and bridles from their own horses, while in our city, for the purpose of damning us in the eyes of the community;
"And whereas, the Chief Magistrate of this State, after a second and protracted visit to this city, and much pains taken to investigate the charge of promiscuous stealing, reports to the legislature as follows:-
"'Justice, however, requires me here to say, that I have investigated the charge of promiscuous stealing, and find it to be greatly exaggerated. I could not ascertain that there were a greater proportion of thieves in that community, than in any other of the same number of inhabitants; and perhaps if the city of Nauvoo were compared with St. Louis, or any other western city, the proportion would not be so great.'
"And whereas, the printing office of our open and avowed enemy, Dr. Foster, was set on fire, in this city by himself, or by his instruction, as we believe, to fan the flame of mobocracy, which fire was only prevented by our vigilant police;
"And whereas, we firmly believe that our enemies in this city have several times attempted to fire their own buildings and have only been prevented by the diligence of our officers;
"Therefore, be it resolved, unanimously, that we will use all lawful means in our power to assist the public to prevent stealing and bogus making, and bring the offenders to justice.
"Resolved, that to prevent further depredations in our city, by lawless desperadoes from abroad, we approve the raising of five hundred police by this city.
"Resolved, unanimously, that we invite all honest men to watch closely their property, and arrest all thieves; and if they shall catch a thief in the act of stealing, challenge him to stand, and if he refuses to do so, and flees, so far as the Mormons are concerned, we will be satisfied if the owners of the property shall speedily send after him a writ of habeas corpus sealed with lead to arrest his progress; but after all, should the thief prove to be a mobocrat, alas! alas!! O, what a pity !
"Resolved, unanimously, that fifty delegates be sent to the surrounding country to inform the people of the designs of our enemies now concocting in their secret and public meetings, so that the honest part of the community may unite with us to prevent stealing and secure peace.
"Resolved, that these proceedings be published in the papers at Nauvoo, with a request that others papers copy them. DANIEL SPENCER, Chairman.
"JAMES SLOAN, Secretary."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 774, 775.
The Deputy Sheriff of Hancock County also made the following statement to the public which vindicated the Mormons from the charge of thieving:-
"TO THE PUBLIC.
"Nauvoo, January 17,1845.
"As much has been said concerning stealing and secreting property in this city, for the purpose of giving an impression abroad that Nauvoo was a grand depot for concealing stolen property, and that the Mormon community was concerned in it, I will state, that so far as my knowledge extends concerning the matter, I have ascertained that stolen property has been brought by way of Nauvoo, from the country, and then crossed over the Mississippi River to Iowa, and back into the Territory some ten or twelve miles, where the thieves have some friends to conceal stolen property.
"There seems to be a connection of these friends thirty or forty miles back into the country on this side of the river, who, with five or six in this city, seem to have a line for running stolen property through Nauvoo to the Territory of Iowa; and I have good reason to believe that those in the country on this side of the river, those in the city, and those in the Territory, are one clan; but they are not Mormons. nor have the Mormons any fellowship with them.
"I have taken pains to go with a person from the country, with a writ, and have searched every house suspected, till the person was satisfied, and till I was satisfied myself that no such property, as claimed, was in the city.
"I have good reason to believe that scoundrels stay in Nauvoo, and when stolen property comes into the city they are ready to pass it on to the Territory, and screen themselves under the cloak of Mormonism, in order that the Mormons may bear the blame. If people will satisfy themselves as I have done they may find a 'depot' in the regions of Iowa containing the greater part of the property charged to the Mormons.
"I would state further, that the Mormons had no agency in the searches I made, but that I made them at the instance of men from the country, and that I spent three days in the Territory of Iowa, searching into the facts and matters, and my statements are made up from personal observation.
"JOSEPH A. KELTING,
"Deputy Sheriff of Hancock County."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 775, 776.
Throughout the winter and summer of 1845 the feeling was very intense, and many efforts and demonstrations were made with a view to stirring up sentiment against the Mormons, sufficiently strong to banish them from the State.
The following petition was sent to President Polk:-
"Nauvoo, April 24, 1845.
"His Excellency James K. Polk, President of the United States.
"Honored Sir:-Suffer us, in behalf of a disfranchised people, to prefer a few suggestions for your serious consideration, in hope of a friendly and unequivocal response, at as early a period as may suit your convenience and the extreme urgency of the case seems to demand.
"It is not our present design to detail the multiplied and aggravated wrongs that we have received in the midst of a nation that gave us birth. Most of us have long been loyal citizens of some one of these United States, over which you have the honor to preside; while a few only claim the privilege of peaceful and lawful emigrants, designing to make the Union our permanent residence.
"We say we are a disfranchised people. We are privately told by the highest authorities of the State that it is neither
prudent nor safe for us to vote at the polls; still we have continued to maintain our right to vote until the blood of our best men has been shed, both in Missouri and Illinois, with impunity.
"You are doubtless somewhat familiar with the history of our expulsion from the State of Missouri, wherein scores of our brethren were massacred. Hundreds died through want and sickness occasioned by their unparalleled sufferings. Some millions worth of our property was destroyed, and some fifteen thousand souls fled for their lives to the then hospitable and peaceful shores of Illinois; and that the State of Illinois granted to us a liberal charter, for the term of perpetual succession, under whose provision private rights have become invested, and the largest city in the State has grown up numbering about twenty thousand inhabitants.
"But, sir, the startling attitude recently assumed by the State of Illinois forbids us to think that her designs are less vindictive than those of Missouri. She has already used the military of the State, with the Executive at their head, to coerce and surrender up our best men to unparalleled murder, and that too under the most sacred pledges of protection and safety. As a salve for such unearthly perfidy and guilt, she told us, through her highest executive officers, that the laws should be magnified and the murderers brought to justice; but the blood of her innocent victims had not been wholly wiped from the floor of the awful arena ere the Senate of that State rescued one of the indicted actors in that mournful tragedy, from the sheriff of Hancock County, and gave him a seat in her hall of legislation; 1 and all who were indicted by the Grand Jury of Hancock County for the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith are suffered to roam at large, watching for further prey.
"To crown the climax of those bloody deeds, the State has repealed those chartered rights by which we might have lawfully defended ourselves against aggressors. If we defend ourselves hereafter against violence, whether it
1J. C Davis, a State senator, was indicted for the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and by resolution of the Senate rescued from the sheriff.
comes under the shadow of law or otherwise (for we have reason to expect it in both ways), we shall then be charged with treason, and suffer the penalty; and if we continue passive and non-resistant, we must certainly expect to perish; for our enemies have sworn it.
"And here, sir, permit us to state that General Joseph Smith during his short life was arraigned at the bar of his country about fifty times, charged with criminal offenses, but was acquitted every time by his country; his enemies, or rather his religious opponents, almost invariably being his judges. And we further testify, that as a people we are lawabiding, peaceable, and without crime; and we challenge the world to prove to the contrary; and while other less cities in Illinois have had special courts instituted to try their criminals, we have been stripped of every source of arraigning marauders and murderers who are prowling around to destroy us, except the common magistracy.
"With these facts before you, sir, will you write to us, without delay, as a father and friend, and advise us what to do. We are members of the same great Confederacy. Our fathers, yea, some of us, have fought and bled for our country, and we love her Constitution dearly.
"In the name of Israel's God, and by virtue of multiplied ties of country and kindred, we ask your friendly interposition in our favor. Will it be too much for us to ask you to convene a special session of Congress, and furnish us an asylum where we can enjoy our rights of conscience and of religion unmolested? Or, will you, in a special message to that body when it is convened, recommend a remonstrance against such unhallowed acts of oppression and expatriation as this people have continued to receive from the States of Missouri and Illinois? Or will you favor us by your personal influence and by your official rank? Or will you express your views concerning what is called the 'Great Western Measure' of colonizing the Latter Day Saints in Oregon, the Northwestern Territory, or some location remote from the States, where the hand of oppression shall not crush every noble principle and extinguish every patriotic feeling?
"And now, honored sir, having reached out our imploring
hands to you, we would with deep solemnity importune you as a father, a friend, a patriot, and as the head of a mighty nation, by the Constitution of American liberty, by the blood of our fathers, who have fought for the independence of this republic, by the blood of the martyrs, which has been shed in our midst, by the wailings of the widows and orphans, by our murdered fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and children, by the dread of immediate destruction from secret combinations now forming for our overthrow, and by every endearing tie that binds man to man and renders life bearable, and that, too, for aught we know, for the last time, that you will lend your immediate aid to quell the violence of mobocracy, and exert your influence to establish us as a people in our civil and religious rights, where we now are, or in some part of the United States, or in some place remote therefrom, where we may colonize in peace and safety, as soon as circumstances will permit.
"We sincerely hope that your future prompt measures towards us will be dictated by the best feelings that dwell in the bosom of humanity; and the blessings of a grateful people, and many ready to perish, shall come upon you.
"We are, sir, with great respect, your obedient servants,
BRIGHAM YOUNG, }
WILLARD RICHARDS, }
ORSON SPENCER, }
ORSON PRATT, } Committee.
W. W. PHELPS, }
A. W. BABBITT, }
J. M. BERNHISEL, }
"In behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints of Nauvoo, Illinois.
"P. S.-As many of our communications postmarked at Nauvoo have failed of their destination, and as the mails around us have been intercepted by our enemies, we shall send this to some distant office by the hand of a messenger."-Life of Joseph the Prophet, pp. 545-549.
Many outrages, including murders, were committed in both Illinois and Iowa. These were by the opposition laid at the door of the "Mormons," which they persistently denied. Among others the clerk of Hancock County, Dr. Marshall, was slain, by Minor R. Deming
the sheriff, the result of an altercation. From what we can learn the difficulty between them did not arise on the "Mormon question," but because Deming was supposed to be friendly to the "Mormons," and Marshall was an "anti-Mormon," the event was made to do service in agitating public feeling against the "Mormons."
On September 10, 1845, the "anti-Mormons," who had sworn to expel the "Mormons" from the State, because of alleged outrages, began burning houses in the vicinity of Green Plains, Hancock County. It is reported that as many as one hundred or one hundred and twenty-five houses were burned within a short time. About the time of these burnings Sheriff Deming died. He was succeeded by J. B. Backenstos, who was elected at a special election. Sheriff Backenstos undertook to suppress these disturbances, and issued a proclamation to the rioters to desist; but to this they paid no regard. He then endeavored to raise a posse to enforce the law, by calling on the citizens who were not Mormons, declaring that he thought it best "to have the Mormons remain quiet." This they did until the sheriff, failing to obtain a force outside, called on the citizens of Nauvoo, when they responded and with them the sheriff "succeeded in dispersing the rioters." 2 Not, however, until the sheriff and his posse had killed two men; namely, Franklin A. Worrell, a lieutenant of the "Carthage Greys," and Samuel McBratney, did they disperse. Backenstos, and O. P. Rockwell, one of his posse, were subsequently indicted for the murder of Worrell, but acquitted on trial.
Governor Ford again sent General Hardin with a force of militia to quiet disturbances. On September 27, 1845, General Hardin issued a proclamation to the people of the county enjoining them to keep the peace and to obey the laws and constituted authorities. On October 1, 2, 1845, there
2Sheriff Backenstos states: "It is proper to state that the Mormon community have acted with more than ordinary forbearance, remaining perfectly quiet, and offering no resistance when their dwellings, other buildings, stacks of grain, etc., were set on fire in their presence, and they have forborne until forbearance is no longer a virtue."-Fullmer's Expulsion, 19; Bancroft's History of Utah, p. 209.
was a convention held at Carthage composed of delegates from the nine counties of Adams, Brown, Pike, Schuyler, Marquette, McDonough, Warren, Knox, and Henderson to consider the "Mormon subject." This convention, among other resolutions, passed the following:-
"Resolved, that it is the settled and deliberate conviction of this convention, that it is now too late to attempt the settlement of the difficulties in Hancock County upon any other basis than that of the removal of the Mormons from the State; and we therefore accept, and respectfully recommend to the people of the surrounding counties to accept, the proposition made by the Mormons to remove from the State next spring, and to wait with patience the time for removal.
"Resolved, that we utterly repudiate the impudent assertion, so often and so constantly put forth by the Mormons, that they are persecuted for righteousness' sake. We do not believe them to be a persecuted people. We KNOW that they are not; but that whatever grievances they may suffer are the necessary and legitimate consequences of their illegal, wicked, and dishonest acts."-The Prophet of Palmyra, p. 336.
The convention appointed four commissioners to visit the "Mormons" and demand their removal from the State. The commissioners were General John J. Hardin, commander of the State Militia, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, W. B. Warren, and J. A. McDougal. The commission had a conference with the church authorities in Nauvoo, who agreed to remove from the State. The following documents were signed, which for a time allayed hostilities and seemed to be satisfactory:-
"NAUVOO, October 1, 1845.
"To the President and Council of the Church at Nauvoo:-
"Having had a free and full conversation with you this day in reference to your proposed removal from this country, together with the members of your church, we have to request you to submit the facts and intentions stated to us in the said conversation to writing, in order that we may lay them before the Governor and people of the State. We
hope that by so doing it will have a tendency to allay the excitement at present existing in the public mind.
"We have the honor to subscribe ourselves,
"JOHN J. HARDIN.
"W. B. WARREN.
"S. A. DOUGLAS.
"J. A. MCDOUGAL."
"NAUVOO, Illinois, October 1, 1845.
"To Gen. J. J. Hardin, W. B. Warren, S. A. Douglas, and J. A. McDougal.
"Messrs.:-In reply to your letter of this date, requesting us to submit the facts and intentions stated by us in writing, in order that you may lay them before the Governor and the people of the State, we refer you to our communication of the 24th ult., to the Quincy committee, etc., a copy of which is herewith inclosed [enclosed].
"In addition to this we would say that we had commenced making arrangements to remove from the country, previous to the recent disturbances; that we have four companies of one hundred families each, and six more companies now organizing, of the same number each, preparatory to a removal.
"That one thousand families, including the Twelve, the High Council, the trustees, and general authorities of the church, are fully determined to remove in the spring, independent of the contingencies of selling our property; and that this company will comprise from five to six thousand souls.
"That the church, as a body, desires to remove with us, and will, if sales can be effected, so as to raise the necessary means.
"That the organization of the church we represent is such that there never can exist but one head or presidency at any one time. And all good members wish to be with the organization; and all are determined to remove to some distant point where we shall neither infringe nor be infringed upon, so soon as time and means will permit.
"That we have some hundreds of farms and some two
thousand houses for sale in this city and county, and we request all good citizens to assist in the disposal of our property.
"That we do not expect to find purchasers for our temple and other public buildings; but we are willing to rent them to a respectable community who may inhabit the city.
"That we wish it distinctly understood that although we may not find purchasers for our property, we will not sacrifice it, nor give it away or suffer it illegally to be wrested from us.
"That we do not intend to sow any wheat this fall, and should we all sell, we shall not put in any more crops of any description.
"That as soon as practicable, we will appoint committees for this city, La Harpe, Macedonia, Bear Creek, and all necessary places in the country to give information to purchasers.
"That if these testimonies are not sufficient to satisfy any people that we are in earnest, we will soon give them a sign that cannot be mistaken. WE WILL LEAVE THEM.
"In behalf of the council, respectfully yours,
"BRIGHAM YOUNG, President.
"WILLARD RICHARDS, Clerk."
-Life of Joseph the Prophet, pp. 550-552.
Though the "anti-Mormons" had assurance of obtaining all they demanded, many were quiet but for a short time, when they again became clamorous for the Mormons to be off. Some of them were doubtless desirous of plunder, and their hatred of the Mormons was only a pretext, robbery being the chief motive actuating them. Of this, Bancroft in his History of Utah, page 216, writes as follows:-
The arbitrary acts of the people of Illinois in forcing the departure of the saints lays them open to the grave charge, among others, of a desire to possess their property for less than its value. Houses and lots, farms and merchandise, could not be turned into money, or even into wagons and live stock, in a moment, except at a ruinous sacrifice. Granted that the hierarchy was opposed to American institutions,
that the Mormons wished to gain possession of the United States and rule the world; no one feared the immediate consummation of their pretentious hopes. Granted that among them were adulterers, thieves, and murderers: the Gentiles were the stronger, and had laws by which to punish the guilty. It was not a noble sentiment which had actuated the people of Missouri; it was not a noble sentiment which now actuated the people of Illinois, thus to continue their persecutions during the preparations for departure, and drive a whole cityful from their homes out upon the bleak prairie in the dead of winter."
The Times and Seasons for November 1,1845, stated editorially, as follows:-
"After we had begun to realize the abundance of one of the most fruitful seasons known for a long time, and while many hundreds of saints were laboring with excessive and unwearied diligence to finish the temple and rear the Nauvoo House, suddenly, in the forepart of September, the mob commenced burning the houses and grain of the saints in the south part of Hancock County. Though efforts were made by the sheriff to stay the torch of the incendiary and parry off the deluge of arson, still a 'fire and sword' party continued the work of destruction for about a week, laying in ashes nearly two hundred buildings and much grain. Nor is this all: as it was in the sickly season, many feeble persons, thrown out into the scorching rays of the sun, or wet with the dampening dews of the evening, died, being persecuted to death in a Christian land of law and order; and while they were fleeing and dying, the mob, embracing doctors, lawyers, statesmen, Christians of various denominations, with the military from colonels down, were busily engaged in filching or plundering, taking furniture, cattle, and grain. In the midst of this horrid revelry, having failed to procure aid among the 'old citizens,' the sheriff summoned a sufficient posse to stay the 'fire shower of ruin,' but not until some of the offenders had paid for the aggression with their lives.
"This, however, was not the end of the matter. Satan sits in the hearts of the people to rule for evil, and the surrounding
counties began to fear that law, religion, and equal rights, in the hands of the Latter Day Saints, would feel after iniquity, or terrify their neighbors to larger acts of 'reserved rights,' and so they began to open a larger field of woe. To cut this matter short they urged the necessity, (to stop the 'effusion of blood,') to expel the church, or as they call them, the Mormons, from the United States, 'peaceably if they could, and forcibly if they must,' unless they would transport themselves by next spring. Taking into consideration the great value of life and the blessings of peace, a proposition, upon certain specified conditions was made to a committee of Quincy, and which it was supposed from the actions of conventions was accepted. But we are sorry to say that the continued depredations of the mob and the acts of a few individuals have greatly lessened the confidence of every friend of law, honor, and humanity in everything promised by the committees and conventions, though we have already made great advances towards fitting for a move next spring.
"A few troops stationed in the county have not entirely kept the mob at bay, several buildings having been burnt in the month of October.
"We shall, however, make every exertion on our part, as we have always done, to preserve the law and our engagements sacred, and leave the event with God; for he is sure.
"It may not be amiss to say that the continued abuses, persecutions, murders, and robberies practiced upon us, by a horde of land pirates with impunity in a Christian republic and land of liberty, (while the institutions of justice, have either been too weak to afford us protection or redress, or else they too have been a little remiss,) have brought us to the solemn conclusion that our exit from the United States is the only alternative by which we can enjoy our share of the elements which our heavenly Father created free for all.
"We then can shake the dust from our garments, suffering wrong rather than do wrong, leaving this nation alone in her glory, while the residue of the world points the finger of scorn, till the indignation and consumption decreed makes a full end.
"In our patience we will possess our souls and work out a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, preparing, by withdrawing the power and priesthood from the Gentiles, for the great consolation of Israel, when the wilderness shall blossom as the rose, and Babylon fall like a millstone cast into the sea. The just shall live by faith, but the folly of fools will perish with their bodies of corruption. Then shall the righteous shine; amen."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 1016, 1017.
Pressure was brought upon them to remove them before the time agreed upon, by circulating reports of crime, and accusing the "Mormons" of not being in good faith in their expressed intentions to go.
The following account of the first meeting held in the temple will be interesting, as showing the unfinished condition of the temple, as well as the nature of the services held therein and those that were proposed:-
"On Sunday, the fifth day of October, through the indefatigable excertions [exertions], unceasing industry, and heaven-blessed labors, in the midst of trials, tribulations, poverty, and worldly obstacles, solemnized, in some instances by death, about five thousand saints had the inexpressible joy and great gratification to meet for the first time in the House of the Lord in the city of Joseph. From mites and tithing, millions had risen up to the glory of God, as a temple where the children of the last kingdom could come together and praise the Lord.
"It certainly afforded a holy satisfaction to think that since the 6th of April, 1841, when the first stone was laid, amidst the most straitened [straightened] circumstances, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had witnessed their 'bread cast upon waters,' or more properly, their obedience to the commandments of the Lord, appeared in the tangible form of a temple, entirely inclosed [enclosed], windows in, with temporary floors, pulpits, and seats to accommodate so many persons preparatory to a General Conference: no General Conference having been held for three years past, according to the declaration of our martyred prophet:-
"'There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the
ordinance can be attended to in the font of the Lord's House; and the church shall not hold another General Conference, until they can meet in said house. For thus saith the Lord!'
"President Young opened the services of the day in a dedicatory prayer, presenting the temple, thus far completed, as a monument of the saints' liberality, fidelity, and faith, concluding, 'Lord, we dedicate this house and ourselves unto thee.' The day was occupied most agreeably in hearing instructions and teachings, and offering up the gratitude of honest hearts for so great a privilege as worshiping [worshipping] God within instead of without an edifice, whose beauty and workmanship will compare with any house of worship in America, and whose motto is, 'Holiness to the Lord."'-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 1017, 1018.
The following epistle published November 1, 1845, will also show the same points, as well as the policy of church leaders regarding the proposed exodus from the State and the United States; also that they were undecided as to where they would locate:-
"To the Brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, scattered abroad throughout the United States of America.
"The following circular is hereby sent, greeting.
"Beloved Brethren.-You will perceive from the foregoing interesting extracts from the minutes of the General Conference, just held in the temple in this place, not only the unparalleled union of the great body of the saints convened, but also that a crisis of extraordinary and thrilling interest has arrived. The exodus of the nation of the only true Israel from these United States to a far distant region of the West, where bigotry, intolerance, and insatiable oppression will have lost its power over them, forms a new epoch, not only in the history of the church, but of this nation. And we hereby timely advertise you to consider well, as the Spirit may give you understanding, the various and momentous bearings of this great movement, and hear what the Spirit saith unto you by this our epistle. Jesus Christ was delivered up into the hands of the Jewish nation to save or
condemn them-to be well or maltreated by them, according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. And regard not that event in the light of a catastrophe wholly unlooked for. The spirit of prophecy has long since portrayed in the Book of Mormon what might be the conduct of this nation towards the Israel of the last days. The same spirit of prophecy that dwelt richly in the bosom of Joseph has time and again notified the counselors of this church, of emergencies that might arise of which this removal is one: and one too, in which all the Latter Day Saints throughout the length and breadth of all the United States should have a thrilling and deliberate interest. The same evil that was premeditated against Mordecai awaited equally all the families of his nation. If the authorities of this church cannot abide in peace within the pale of this nation, neither can those who implicitly hearken to their wholesome counsel. A word to the wise is sufficient.
"You all know and have doubtless felt for years the necessity of a removal provided the government should not be sufficiently protective to allow us to worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences and of the omnipotent voice of eternal truth. Two cannot walk together except they be agreed. Jacob must be expatriated while Esau held dominion. It was wisdom for the child of promise to go far away from him that thirsted for blood. Even the heir of universal kingdoms fled precipitately into a distant country until they that sought to murder were dead. The rankings of violence and intolerance and religious and political strife that have long been waking up in the bosom of this nation, together with the occasional scintillations of settled vengeance and blood-guiltiness, cannot long be suppressed. And deplorable is the condition of any people that is constrained to be the butt of such discordant and revolutionary materials. The direful eruption must take place. It requires not the spirit of prophecy to foresee it. Every sensible man in the nation has felt and perhaps expressed his melancholy fears of the dreadful vortex into which partisan ambition, contempt of the poor, and trampling down the just as things of naught, were fast
leading the nation. We therefore write unto you, beloved brethren, as wise men that will foresee the evil and hide yourselves until the indignation be overpast.
"Concerning those who have more immediately instigated our removal by shedding the blood of our Prophet and Patriarch, and burning the habitations of scores of families in the midst of the most desolating sickness ever known in the western valley, and who oblige us to watch for our lives night and day, we have nothing to say. We have told such tales to our father the President, and to all the highminded governors, until we are weary of it. We look far beyond those by whom offenses come, and discover a merciful design in our heavenly Father towards all such as patiently endure these afflictions until he advises them that the day of their deliverance has come. It is our design to remove all the saints as early next spring as the first appearance of thrifty vegetation. In the meantime the utmost diligence of all the brethren at this place and abroad will be requisite for our removal, and to complete the unfinished part of the Lord's house, preparatory to dedication by the next General Conference. The font and other parts of the temple will be in readiness in a few days to commence the administration of holy ordinances of endowment, for which the faithful have long diligently labored and fervently prayed, desiring above all things to see the beauty of the Lord and inquire in his holy temple. We therefore invite the saints abroad generally so to arrange their affairs as to come with their families in sufficient time to receive their endowments, and aid in giving the last finish to the house of the Lord, previous to the great immigration of the church in the spring. A little additional help in the heat of the day from those abroad, to those here, who have been often driven and robbed, will sweeten the interchanges of fellowship, and so far fulfill the law of Christ as to bear one another's burthens [burdens].
"The sacrifice of property that will probably accrue from a virtually coerced sale in a given short time, together with the exhaustion of available means, that has arisen from an extensive improvement of farms, and the erection of costly public and private edifices, together with persecutions and
abundant labors of elders in preaching the gospel to the nations, and also in self-defense from traitors and foes, hypocrites and knaves, are things that will suggest themselves to all the thoughtful, humane, and philanthropic. And we are confident in our Lord Jesus Christ that the balm and cordial adequate to the present crisis of affairs will come from the saints abroad to the utmost of their ability. And you cannot furnish it better than to come up unitedly to the counsel of our epistle promptly, diligently, and to the letter. Therefore dispose of your properties and inheritances, and interests, for available means, such as money, wagons, oxen, cows, mules, and a few good horses adapted to journeying and scanty feed; also for durable fabrics suitable for apparel and tents; and some other necessary articles of merchandise. Wake up, wake up, dear brethren, we exhort you, from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, and from Canada to Florida, to the present glorious emergency in which the God of heaven has placed you, to prove your faith by your works, preparatory to a rich endowment in the temple of the Lord, and the obtaining of promises and deliverances, and glories for yourselves and your children and your dead. And we are well persuaded you will do these things though we thus stir up your pure minds to remembrance. In doing so the blessings of many, ready to perish like silent dew upon the grass, and the approbation of generations to come, and the hallowed joys of eternal life will rest upon you. And we cannot but assure you in conclusion of our most joyful confidence, touching your union and implicit obedience to the counsel of the great God, through the Presidency of the saints. With these assurances and hopes concerning you, we bless you and supplicate the wisdom and furtherance of the great Head of the church upon your designs and efforts.
"BRIGHAM YOUNG, President.
"WILLARD RICHARDS, Clerk.
"P. S.-Let all wagons that are hereafter built be constructed to the track of five feet width from center to center. Families may properly travel to this place during winter in their wagons.
"There are said to be many good locations for settlements
on the Pacific, especially at Vancouver's Island, near the mouth of Columbia."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 1018, 1019.
The opposition became more pronounced daily, and to appease the feeling the "Mormons" prepared to leave sooner than at first expected.
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