DC 123 Historical Background
The background for 121 tells the story of the persecutions of the saints and the "Mormon War" from July 4, 1838 to the arrest of the Prophet and Brethren at Far West, October 31, 1838. The background for 122 tells the story of the treatment of the prisoners from their arrest to their confinement in Liberty Jail, approximating November 1st to the 30th. The background for 123, then, will focus on mock trials, the escape of the Brethren, and the exodus of the saints to Quincy, Illinois.
We continue our narrative with the mock trial of November, 1838. By this time, more than just a handful of Mormon leaders had been arrested. The Prophet records 53 names taken before Judge Austin King for presumed crimes against the state. The legal proceedings were anything but legal.
Parley P. Pratt
The Judge inquired of the prisoners if they wished to introduce any witnesses for the defence. A list of names was supplied by the prisoners, when, who should be selected to go to Far West to obtain and bring them before the Court, but the identical bandit, Bogart, and his gang, who were defeated by us in the battle of Crooked River, after they had become famous for kidnapping, plundering and murdering!
Of course, every man in Caldwell would flee from such a gang if they could; but he succeeded in capturing a few of our friends, whose names were on the list, and bringing them before the Court, when, instead of being sworn, they were immediately ordered to prison to take their trial. Others were sent for, and, as far as found, shared the same fate. This manoeuvre occupied several days, during which the Court was still in session, and the fate of the prisoners suspended.
At length the Judge exclaimed to the prisoners: "If you have any witnesses bring them forward; the Court cannot delay forever-it has waited several days already." A member of the Church, named Allen, was just then seen to pass the window. The prisoners requested that he might be introduced and sworn. He was immediately called in and sworn. He began to give his testimony, which went to establish the innocence of the prisoners, and to show the murders, robberies, etc., committed by their accusers. But he was suddenly interrupted and cut short by cries of "Put him out;" "Kick him out;" "G-d d-n him, shoot him;" "Kill him, d-n him, kill him;" "He's a d-d Mormon."
The Court then ordered the guard to put him out, which was done amid the yells, threats, insults and violence of the mob who thronged in and around the court house. He barely escaped with his life. Mr. Doniphan, attorney for the defence, and since famed as a general in the Mexican war, finally advised the prisoners to offer no defence; "for," said he, "though a legion of angels from the opening heavens should declare your innocence, the Court and populace have decreed your destruction." Our attorney offered no defence, and thus the matter of our trials was finally submitted. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 213-214)
TWO GROUPS OF PRISONERS
Eventually most of the Brethren were released. The Missourians really wanted the Mormon leaders. Joseph Smith recorded, "The remaining prisoners were all released or admitted to bail, except Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, Hyrum Smith, Alexander McRae, Sidney Rigdon, and myself, who were sent to Liberty." (History of the Church, 3:212) But there was another group consisting of Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps, Luman Gibbs, Darwin Chase, and Norman Shearer who were jailed in Richmond. "Two of these (Chase and Shearer) were finally dismissed-being boys scarcely out of their teens. But another was soon added by the name of Follett (King Follett)." (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 234) The Pratt group (Pratt, Phelps, Gibbs, and King) were not treated any better than the Brethren in Liberty, "we seemed abandoned to our fate... We were daily threatened with assassination, without the form of a trial; and were repeatedly told that we never should escape alive from the State." (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 237)
Sidney Rigdon was allowed to make bail and was released from the Smith group. He had suffered greatly as had the other Brethren. However, he overestimated the greatness of his own suffering "having declared in prison, that the sufferings of Jesus Christ were a fool to his... he made his escape. Being pursued by a body of armed men, it was through the direction of a kind Providence that he escaped out of their hands, and safely arrived in Quincy, Illinois." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:264) This left Joseph and Hyrum with brothers Wight, Baldwin, and McRae together in Liberty Jail from Nov. 30, 1838 until April 6, 1838, when they were transferred to Daviess County for another trial.
ESCAPE OF THE LIBERTY JAIL PRISONERS
(April 5, 1838) This day a company of about fifty men in Daviess county swore that they would never eat or drink, until they had murdered "Joe Smith." Their captain, William Bowman, swore, in the presence of Theodore Turley, that he would "never eat or drink, after he had seen Joe Smith, until he had murdered him."...
Saturday, April 6.-Judge King evidently fearing a change of venue, or some movement on our part to escape his unhallowed persecution (and most probably expecting that we would be murdered on the way) hurried myself and fellow prisoners off to Daviess county, under a guard of about ten men, commanded by Samuel Tillery, deputy jailer of Clay county. We were promised that we should go through Far West, which was directly on our route, which our friends at that place knew, and expected us; but instead of fulfilling their promise, they took us around the city... where every opportunity presented for a general massacre...
Tuesday, April 9.-Our trial commenced before a drunken grand jury, Austin A. King, presiding judge, as drunk as the jury; for they were all drunk together. Elder Stephen Markham had been dispatched by the committee to visit us, and bring a hundred dollars that was sent by Elder Kimball, as we were destitute of means at that time. He left Far West this morning, and swimming several streams he arrived among us in the afternoon, and spent the evening in our company. Brother Markham brought us a written copy of a statute which had passed the legislature, giving us the privilege of a change of venue on our own affidavit...
Monday, April 15.-Having procured a change of venue we started for Boone county, and were conducted to that place by a strong guard...
This evening our guard got intoxicated. We thought it a favorable opportunity to make our escape; knowing that the only object of our enemies was our destruction... We thought that it was necessary for us, inasmuch as we loved our lives, and did not wish to die by the hand of murderers and assassins; and inasmuch as we loved our families and friends, to deliver ourselves from our enemies, and from that land of tyranny and oppression, and again take our stand among a people in whose bosoms dwell those feelings of republicanism and liberty which gave rise to our nation: feelings which the inhabitants of the State of Missouri were strangers to. Accordingly, we took advantage of the situation of our guard and departed, and that night we traveled a considerable distance. (History of the Church, 3:306-321)
We started on our journey to Boone county, and traveled on the road about twenty miles distance. There we bought a jug of whisky, with which we treated the company; and while there the sheriff [said] I shall take a good drink of grog and go to bed, and you may do as you have a mind to.
Three others of the guard drank pretty freely of whisky, sweetened with honey. They also went to bed, and were soon asleep, and the other guard went along with us, and helped to saddle the horses.
Two of us mounted the horses, and the other three started on foot, and we took our change of venue for the state of Illinois, and in the course of nine or ten days arrived safe at Quincy, Adams county, where we found our families in a state of poverty, although in good health, they having been driven out of the state previously by the murderous militia. (History of the Church, 3:423)
ESCAPE OF THE PRATT GROUP OF PRISONERS
The group of prisoners associated with Elder Pratt remained in their prison for 3 more months. Brother Gibb couldn't take the persecution and turned apostate. He then became a thorn in the side of the faithful brethren, "as if to complete our hell, the old apostate, Gibbs, became very quarrelsome and noisy." (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 235)
Parley P. Pratt
(May 1838) In order to show some pretence of respect for some of the forms of law, Judge Austin A. King now entered our prison and took our testimony, preparatory to a change of venue. I shall never forget this interview. There stood our Judge, face to face with those who, by his cruelty and injustice, had lived a cold half year in a dungeon. He refused to look us in the eye; hung his head and looked like a culprit before his betters about to receive his doom. The looks of guilt and misery portrayed in his countenance during that brief interview bespoke more of misery than we had suffered during our confinement. I actually pitied him in my heart. With an extraordinary effort and a voice scarcely audible, he administered the oaths and withdrew.
By means of this change we were finally to be removed one hundred miles down the country, and confined in the prison at Columbia, Boone County, to await a final trial...
[Having planned an escape for Independence day], the fourth of July dawned upon us with hope and expectation. While the town and nation were alive with the bustle of preparation for the celebration of the American Jubilee, and while guns were firing and music sounding without, our prison presented a scene of scarcely less life and cheerfulness; for we were also preparing to do proper honors to the day. We had prevailed on the keeper to furnish us with a long pole, on which to suspend a flag, and also some red stripes of cloth. We then tore a shirt in pieces, and took the body of it for the ground work of a flag, forming with the red stripes of cloth an eagle and the word "Liberty," in large letters. This rude flag of red and white was suspended on the pole from the prison window, directly in front of the public square and court house, and composed one of the greatest attractions of the day. Hundreds of the people from the country, as well as villagers who were there at the celebration, would come up and stare at the flag, and reading the motto, would go swearing or laughing away, exclaiming, "Liberty! Liberty! What have the Mormons to do with celebrating liberty in a damned old prison?"
[When the jailer opened the door to feed the prisoners at sunset, Elders Pratt, Phelps, and King overpowered the guard and made their escape]... By this time the town was all in motion. The quietness of the evening was suddenly changed into noise and bustle... The streets on both sides of the fields where we were running were soon thronged with soldiers in uniform, mounted riflemen, footmen with fence stakes, clubs, or with whatever came to hand, and with boys, dogs, etc., all running, rushing, screaming, swearing, shouting, bawling and looking, while clouds of dust rose behind them. The cattle also partook of the general panic and ran bellowing away, as if to hide from the scene. The fields behind us also presented a similar scene. Fences were leaped or broken down with a crash; men, boys and horses came tumbling over hedge and ditch, rushing with the fury of a whirlwind in the chase; but we kept our course for the thicket, our toes barely touching the ground, while we seemed to leap with the fleetness of a deer, or as the young hart upon the mountains. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 239-251)
After a dangerous and harrowing journey, the three brethren made it back to Illinois, Elder Pratt arriving at Quincy five days later looking more dead than alive.
BRIGHAM YOUNG LEFT TO MANAGE THE EXODUS TO ILLINOIS
While the leading Brethren were in prison, Brigham Young, now the senior apostle, understood the need for his leadership. When Bishop Edward Partridge felt he lacked the resources to help the poor saints relocate to Illinois, saying, "The poor may take care of themselves, and I will take care of myself," Brigham replied, "If you will not help them out, I will"-and he did (History of the Church, 3:247). The Missouri persecutions tested the mettle of the strongest saints. During this time of trial, Brigham emerged with character of a king, the strength of an ox, and the heart of a lion. On January 29, 1838, a Far West meeting convened to plan the removal of the saints; Brigham Young moved that the saints help the poor, no matter how difficult their personal circumstances. "On motion of Brigham Young, it was resolved that we this day enter into a covenant to stand by and assist each other to the utmost of our abilities in removing from this state, and that we will never desert the poor who are worthy, till they shall be out of the reach of the exterminating order of General Clark." (History of the Church, 3:250)
"Thursday, February 14.-The persecution was so bitter against Elder Brigham Young (on whom devolved the presidency of the Twelve by age [i.e. seniority], Thomas B. Marsh having apostatized) and his life was so diligently sought for, that he was compelled to flee; and he left Far West on this day for Illinois." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:361)
A committee was organized in Far West for the removal of the saints. The remaining Brethren did a remarkable job of organizing the saints and relocating them. Fortunately, the citizens of Illinois were very hospitable to the displaced saints. The Democratic Committee of Quincy organized themselves to do all they could to help the refugees, declaring "the 'Latter-day Saints,' are entitled to our sympathy and kindest regard, and that we recommend to the citizens of Quincy to extend all the kindness in their power to bestow on the persons who are in affliction." (History of the Church, 3:268)
PROPHECY OF APRIL 26, 1839
April 5, 1839-Apostate John Whitmer, one of the eight witnesses, and former church historian, challenged the remaining Brethren in Far West. In company with seven of the enemy, Whitmer entered the office of the committee for relocating the saints and presented the revelation now found in D&C 118. That revelation commanded the Twelve to leave for missions from the temple site at Far West-the event was commanded to occur on a specific day-April 26, 1839 (D&C 118:5). They asked Brother Theodore Turley to read the revelation.
[Brother Turley replied] "Gentlemen, I am well acquainted with it." They said, "Then you, as a rational man, will give up Joseph Smith's being a prophet and an inspired man? He and the Twelve are now scattered all over creation; let them come here if they dare; if they do, they will be murdered. As that revelation cannot be fulfilled, you will now give up your faith."
Turley jumped up and said, "In the name of God that revelation will be fulfilled." They laughed him to scorn. John Whitmer hung down his head. They said, "If they (the Twelve) come, they will get murdered; they dare not come to take their leave here; that is like all the rest of Joe Smith's d-n prophecies." They commenced on Turley and said, he had better do as John Corrill had done; "he is going to publish a book called 'Mormonism Fairly Delineated;' he is a sensible man, and you had better assist him."
Turley said, "Gentlemen, I presume there are men here who have heard Corrill say, that 'Mormonism' was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and inspired of God. I now call upon you, John Whitmer: you say Corrill is a moral and a good man; do you believe him when he says the Book of Mormon is true, or when he says it is not true? There are many things published that they say are true, and again turn around and say they are false?" Whitmer asked, "Do you hint at me?" Turley replied, "If the cap fits you, wear it; all I know is that you have published to the world that an angel did present those plates to Joseph Smith." Whitmer replied: "I now say, I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides. I handled them;" and he described how they were hung, and "they were shown to me by a supernatural power;" he acknowledged all.
Turley asked him, "Why is not the translation now true?" He said, "I could not read it [in the original] and I do not know whether it [i. e., the translation] is true or not." Whitmer testified all this in the presence of eight men. (History of the Church, 3:306-308)
Here again, the determination of Brigham Young was proven. When others of the Twelve approached Brigham about whether they should venture back into enemy territory, take the long journey back to Far West, and set out for their missions as prophesied--and this when the enemy had vowed their murder--Brigham asked the opinions of the Brethren. Most wanted to go. Determined as ever, Brigham felt the same way, declaring that the revelation must be fulfilled, "the Lord God had spoken and it was our duty to obey and leave the event in his hands and he would protect us." (New Era, Nov. 1977, 34-35) The scattered apostles were gathered around Far West. The operation was covert. The consequences of discovery were deadly. Before the break of day, the mission ceremony of prayer and testimony was complete. The mobbers arrived early in the morning at the temple site, prepared to murder any Mormon leaders, but found that Brigham and company had come and gone. Thanks to Brother Brigham, the prophecy of "Old Joe Smith" came true after all.
DC 123:1-3 gather up all the facts [of all the] sufferings and abuses... all the property and amount of damages... and personal injuries
The Prophet himself recorded much of the persecutions in his History of the Church, vol. 3.
- Saints driven out of the town of DeWitt-"Many houses belonging to my brethren were burned, their cattle driven away, and a great quantity of their property was destroyed by the mob. The people of De Witt utterly failed to fulfill their pledge to pay the Saints for the losses they sustained. The governor having turned a deaf ear to our entreaties" (History of the Church, 3:159)
- Saints driven from Adam-ondi-Ahman-"While I was there a number of houses belonging to our people were burned by the mob, who committed many other depredations, such as driving off horses, sheep, cattle, hogs, etc. A number of those whose houses were burned down, as well as those who lived in scattered and lonely situations, fled into the town for safety, and for shelter from the inclemency of the weather, as a considerable snowstorm took place on the 17th and 18th [of October 1838]. Women and children, some in the most delicate condition, were thus obliged to leave their homes and travel several miles in order to effect their escape. My feelings were such as I cannot describe when I saw them flock into the village, almost entirely destitute of clothes, and only escaping with their lives." (History of the Church, 3:162-163)
- Saints murdered at Haun's Mill-" a number of our people who were living near Haun's mill, on Shoal creek, about twenty miles below Far West, together with a number of emigrants who had been stopped there in consequence of the excitement, made an agreement with the mob in that vicinity that neither party should molest the other, but dwell in peace. Shortly after this agreement was made, a mob party of from two to three hundred... came upon our people there, whose number in men was about forty, at a time they little expected any such thing, and... shot them down as they would tigers or panthers. Some few made their escape by fleeing. Eighteen were killed and a number more were severely wounded. (History of the Church, 3:223)
- Far West sacked and pillaged-"The mob (called Governor's troops) then marched into town, and under pretense of searching for arms tore up floors, upset haystacks, plundered the most valuable effects they could lay their hands on, wantonly wasted and destroyed a great amount of property, compelled the brethren at the point of the bayonet to sign deeds of trust to pay the expenses of the mob, even while the place was desecrated by the chastity of women being violated. About eighty men were taken prisoners, the remainder were ordered to leave the state, and were forbidden, under threat of being shot by the mob to assemble more than three in a place." (History of the Church, 3:192)
- Livestock stolen or shot-"In keeping the order of General Wilson the Saints had to leave their crops and houses, and to live in tents and wagons, in this inclement season of the year. As for their flocks and herds, the mob had relieved them from the trouble of taking care of them, or from the pain of seeing them starve to death-by stealing them." (History of the Church, 3:207)
- Apostate plunder-"During our trial William E. McLellin, accompanied by Burr Riggs and others, at times were busy in plundering and robbing the houses of Sidney Rigdon, George Morey, the widow Phebe Ann Patten, and others, under pretense or color of law, on an order from General Clark." (History of the Church, 3:215)
- Arms confiscated-"The arms which were taken from us here, which we understand to be about six hundred and thirty, besides swords and pistols... The arms given up by us, we consider were worth between twelve and fifteen thousand dollars." (History of the Church, 3:223)
- Lands confiscated-"the 'Mormon' people had purchased upwards of two hundred thousand dollars' worth of land, most of which was entered and paid for at the land office of the United States, in the state of Missouri." (Hyrum Smith, History of the Church, 3:424)
What was the justification for state militia to confiscate the property of the Mormons? To pay for the war against them! What was the justification for driving them off their lands? The property would compensate the militia/mob for its service! "Whilst the town (of Far West) was guarded, we were called together by the order of General Lucas, and a guard placed close around us, and in that situation we were compelled to sign a deed of trust for the purpose of making our individual property, all holden, as they said, to pay all the debts of every individual belonging to the Church, and also to pay for all damages the old inhabitants of Daviess may have sustained in consequence of the late difficulties in that county." (History of the Church, 3:221)
Parley P. Pratt
The Judge, in open court, while addressing a witness, proclaimed, that if the members of the Church remained on their lands to put in another crop they should be destroyed indiscriminately, and their bones be left to bleach on the plains without a burial. Yes, reader, the cultivation of lands held by patents issued by the United States land office, and signed by the President of the Republic, was, by Judge Austin A. King, in open court, pronounced a capital offence, for which a whole community were prejudged and sentenced to death. While those who should be the instruments to execute this sentence were called... good citizens. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 213)
DC 123:3 also the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions
Again, the Prophet's history is very complete in recording the names of the judges, generals, apostates, enemies and false witnesses. He specifically lists the 41 names of the states witnesses against him and the other prisoners. (History of the Church, 3:210)
I do know, so does this court... that Governor Boggs and Generals Clark, Lucas, Wilson, and Gillium, also Austin A. King, have committed treason upon the citizens of Missouri, and did violate the Constitution of the United States, and also the constitution and laws of the state of Missouri, and did exile and expel, at the point of the bayonet, some twelve or fourteen thousand inhabitants from the state, and did murder a large number of men, women and children in cold blood, and in the most horrid and cruel manner possible; and the whole of it was caused by religious bigotry and persecution, because the "Mormons" dared to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences... the Saints expecting that the Constitution of the United States would have protected them therein. (History of the Church, 3:424)
The blackest of all names was Governor Lilburn W. Boggs.
Parley P. Pratt
The modern Herod (Boggs), fearing a rival kingdom in "the people of the Saints of the Most High," issued his exterminating order for the murder of the young children of an entire people, and of their mothers as well as fathers...
Who can withstand the Almighty, or frustrate his purposes? Herod died of a loathsome disease, and transmitted to posterity his fame as a tyrant and murderer. And Lilburn W. Boggs is dragging out a remnant of existence in California (then 1850's), with the mark of Cain upon his brow, and the fear of Cain within his heart, lest he that findeth him shall slay him. He is a living stink, and will go down to posterity with the credit of a wholesale murderer. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 212)
DC 123:4 take statements and affidavits... and all the libelous histories that are published
The first church historian was John Whitmer. By September 1837, however, Brother Whitmer's faith had faded. He had neither collected nor written a very detailed history of the Church. In a non-canonized revelation, Joseph was told, "Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph-my servants John Whitmer and William W. Phelps have done those things which are not pleasing in my sight, therefore if they repent not they shall be removed out of their places." (History of the Church, 2:511) By March of 1838, John Whitmer had been excommunicated and would not return the historical documents in his possession. The next month, the Prophet wrote him requesting the history in order to correct them for publication. "Knowing your incompetency as a historian, and that writings coming from your pen, could not be put to press without our correcting them... Indeed, sir, we never supposed you capable of writing a history... We are still willing to honor you, if you... give up your notes." (History of the Church, 3:15)
At this time, the Prophet took personal responsibility to preserve an accurate history, "April 27 .-This day I chiefly spent in writing a history of the Church from the earliest period of its existence, up to this date... Monday, 30.-The First Presidency were engaged in writing the Church history." (History of the Church, 3:25-26) This is the time that the Prophet recorded the First Vision we read in our Pearl of Great Price. He was 32 years old. The First Vision had occurred 18 years prior.
By 1838, the Spirit had rested on the Prophet Joseph Smith thousands of times on thousands of subjects. At this time, the importance of taking a careful history seemed to descend on him from above. Months later, as he sat in Liberty Jail, he had plenty of time to review the sufferings of the saints. Over and over again, the scenes ran across his inspired mind. But he knew the hearts of wicked men. He had already seen slander of the blackest slime. He knew that history would blame the Mormons for the events of "the Mormon War" unless he could gather enough evidence to the contrary.
In volumes 3 & 4 of The History of the Church, the Prophet included all he could gather on the subject. Historians have acknowledged the unjust treatment of the Mormons. History has vilified not justified the Missourian mob. The reason, in large part, is because of the irrefutable first hand evidence provided by the Prophet:
- His own history
- Several speeches
- 5+ Personal histories
- 7 Revelations later recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants
- 9 Petitions for redress
- 14 Resolutions
- 53 Affidavits
- 20 Minutes of councils/associations
- 66 Letters of communication
Parley P. Pratt's Autobiography tells his story in 118 written pages. The Prophet's cumulative history constitutes 500 pages of information. He made sure the testimonies of truth as well as the libelous lies were preserved for the next generation.
Thus I have given a few of the multitude of affidavits which might be given to substantiate the facts of our persecutions and deaths in Missouri. When the brethren left Missouri, they were poor, having been plundered of everything valued by mobs. Much of the plundering was done under the eye of the government officers, according to the foregoing affidavits; and all by the sanction of the state of Missouri, as the acts of her legislature testify. The Saints, being so numerous, were obliged to scatter over the state of Illinois and different states to get bread and clothing-so that but few accounts against Missouri could be collected without unreasonable exertions. About 491 individuals gave in their claims against Missouri, which I presented to Congress-amounting to about $1,381,044.00; leaving a multitude more of similar bills hereafter to be presented, which, if not settled immediately, will ere long amount to a handsome sum, increasing by compound interest. (History of the Church, 4:73-74)
We have examined the law, and drawn the petitions ourselves, and have obtained abundance of proof to counteract all the testimony that was against us, so that if the supreme judge does not grant us our liberty, he has to act without cause, contrary to honor, evidence, law or justice, sheerly to please the devil. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 134)
Joseph Fielding Smith
The work of gathering the libelous articles from magazines, books, newspapers, and all other sources, still goes on. In the library of the Historian's Office there are on file today upwards of 2,000 books, encyclopedias, magazines, histories, pamphlets, communications, etc., sent forth by Satan and his emissaries, and still this flood of wicked and malicious falsehoods goes on and evidently will go on until the Lord comes to cleanse the earth of all its filthiness. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 3: 204)
DC 123:5 the whole concatenation of diabolical rascality and nefarious and murderous impositions that have been practiced upon this people
That phrase is certainly a mouthful-the whole concatenation of diabolical rascality and nefarious and murderous impositions. The Prophet's command of the English language had certainly matured by 1839. "Webster defines concatenation as 'a series connected like links in a chain.' In this instance, the Prophet was speaking of a string of diabolical (fiendish or devilish) deeds inflicted on the suffering Saints by nefarious (very wicked), murderous men, full of rascality (meanness and dishonesty)." (Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Doctrine and Covenants Encyclopedia [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 94)
DC 123:6 present them to the heads of government
On December 5, 1838, Governor Boggs presented the conflict between the Mormons and mob to the Missouri legislature. Over the next several months, great discussions were had on the subject. The Mormon appeal to the legislature is an extensive, well written document, outlining the difficulties and persecutions suffered by the saints. The last paragraph reads "We no lay our case at the feet of you legislators, and ask your honorable body to consider it, and do for us, after mature deliberation that which your wisdom, patriotism and philanthropy may dictate. And we, as in duty bound, will ever pray. [Signed] Edward Partrdge, Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor, Theodore Turley, Brigham Young, [et al]." (History of the Church 3:217-224)
"The suggestion to petition the leaders of the nation originated in a letter Joseph Smith wrote to the Saints in Quincy, Illinois, while he was imprisoned in the Liberty Jail... Joseph Smith and other Church leaders in Liberty Jail considered this 'an imperative duty' that they not only owed to their own families, but also to the 'widows and fatherless, whose husbands and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand; Which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy. And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart' (D&C 123:9-11).
"At the 6 October 1839 conference of the Church in Commerce (Nauvoo), Illinois, a committee comprised of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Elias Higbee was sent to Washington, DC. Their formal petition to congress is recorded in History of the Church.
"Not to be outdone by the efforts of the Saints, the General Assembly of the state of Missouri published their version of the expulsion story in 1841. In his message to the Missouri legislature, Governor Lilburn W. Boggs maintained that after the
'infatuated and deluded sect' left the state of Missouri, they industriously propagated throughout the Union, the most exaggerated details of our difficulties and the foulest calumnies against our citizens. In some of our eastern cities, missionaries to their creed were employed, daily making converts to their cause by proclaiming the cruelties which they alleged they had endured at the hands of our authorities. The report of our alleged barbarities has not been confined to our Union, but even at this day in Europe they are made the ground-work of proselyting, and their orators find it to their interest to distort the acts into a persecution, which in every religious excitement that has marked the history of the earth, has always been found the most effective weapon of conversion.
"The House of Representatives and the Senate of Missouri voted on 16 February 1841 to publish two thousand copies of their version of the story.
"Many books and articles since that time have been published on the Mormon-Missouri conflict, most recently the book by Stephen C. LeSueur, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. Many of these writings have tried to prove that the violence inflicted upon the Latter-day Saints came because of their aggression against the people of the state of Missouri. However, any action taken by the Latter-day Saints in De Witt, Carroll County, Missouri, was taken only after they attempted every peaceful means to settle the issue. In brief, the Mormons were invited by the citizens of De Witt to settle in their community. After the Saints began to gather there, however, members of the surrounding communities became upset and threatened to exterminate them or drive them out. Because of these threats, the Latter-day Saints petitioned Governor Lilburn W. Boggs to protect them in their rights. Missouri military officials also pleaded with the governor on several occasions to come to the scene of conflict and protect the Mormons, who were only defending themselves. All of these petitions were ignored." (Arnold K. Garr and Clark V. Johnson, eds., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: Missouri [Provo: Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1994], 261 - 263)
(Carthage, Illinois-May 1843) Dined with Judge Stephen A. Douglas, who is presiding at court. After dinner Judge Douglas requested President Joseph to give him a history of the Missouri persecution, which he did in a very minute manner, for about three hours. He also gave a relation of his journey to Washington city, and his application in behalf of the Saints to Mr. Van Buren, the President of the United States, for redress and Mr. Van Buren's pusillanimous reply, "Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you;" and the cold, unfeeling manner in which he was treated by most of the senators and representatives in relation to the subject, Clay saying, "You had better go to Oregon," and Calhoun shaking his head solemnly, saying, "It's a nice question-a critical question, but it will not do to agitate it."
The judge listened with the greatest attention and spoke warmly in depreciation of the conduct of Governor Boggs and the authorities of Missouri, who had taken part in the extermination, and said that any people that would do as the mobs of Missouri had done ought to be brought to judgment: they ought to be punished.
President Smith, in concluding his remarks, said that if the government, which received into its coffers the money of citizens for its public lands, while its officials are rolling in luxury at the expense of its public treasury, cannot protect such citizens in their lives and property, it is an old granny anyhow; and I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished, thereby perpetrating a foul and corroding blot upon the fair fame of this great republic, the very thought of which would have caused the high-minded and patriotic framers of the Constitution of the United States to hide their faces with shame. Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if ever you turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5: 394)
DC 123:7-11 It is an imperative duty that we owe
Verse 7, It is an imperative duty that we owe; verse 9, it is an imperative duty that we owe; verse 11 it is an imperative duty that we owe. The duty is owed to God, angels, the wives and children, the widow and fatherless, the victims of this atrocity, and the next generations. Obviously, the Prophet felt strongly that the story must be told. How would history remember these events? Is it possible that subsequent generations would agree with the Missouri mob and place blame for the conflict squarely on the heads of the Mormons?
It shouldn't be too hard for latter-day saints to understand that people often don't want to believe the truth. Whether religious truth or historical truth, there are some realities that people would rather not face. Man's greatest atrocities, in many instances, are too unbelievable to believe. This principle is beautifully illustrated in the story of the Holocaust. The genocide of the Jews was remarkable in that it occurred in what was thought to be "civilized society." While accepted as historical fact, still some in today's twisted world deny the fact that the holocaust ever occurred. "Most Holocaust denial claims imply, or openly state, that the Holocaust is a hoax arising out of a deliberate Jewish conspiracy to advance the interest of Jews at the expense of other peoples." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_denial).
"General Dwight D. Eisenhower first encountered the horror in the camp at Ohrdruf on April 12, 1945--the day President Franklin Roosevelt died. Eisenhower at once commanded that arrangements be made for mass witnessing of the camps by military, press reporters, and photographers. Zelizer quotes Eisenhower's ordering, 'Let the world see'. Eisenhower's immediate insight that the camps required the world to bear witness formed a central theme of the liberation-era response to the Holocaust." (http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/rhetoric_and_public_affairs/v003/3.4benson.html)
"It is a matter of history that when Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps, he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead..
"He did this because he said in words to this effect:
'Get it all on record now - get the films - get the witnesses - because somewhere down the track of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.'
"[Edmund Burke said] 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing'." (http://jesus-h-biscuit.livejournal.com/1064447.html)
"The things I saw beggar description...the visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations to propaganda. Ohrdruf April 15, 1945." (http://www.scrapbookpages.com/USHMM/Exterior.html)
Joseph Smith understood how to overcome such a distortion of history. His persistent request was that the story be told, by as many testimonies and witnesses as possible.
Many of the state journals tried to hide the iniquity of the state by throwing a covering of lies over her atrocious deeds. But can they hide the governor's cruel order for banishment or extermination? Can they conceal the facts of the disgraceful treaty of the generals with their own officers and men at the city of Far West? Can they conceal the fact that twelve or fifteen thousand men, women and children, have been banished from the state without trial or condemnation? And this at an expense of two hundred thousand dollars-and this sum appropriated by the state legislature, in order to pay the troops for this act of lawless outrage? Can they conceal the fact that we have been imprisoned for many months, while our families, friends and witnesses have been driven away? Can they conceal the blood of the murdered husbands and fathers, or stifle the cries of the widows and the fatherless? Nay! The rocks and mountains may cover them in unknown depths, the awful abyss of the fathomless deep may swallow them up, and still their horrid deeds will stand forth in the broad light of day, for the wondering gaze of angels and of men! They cannot be hid. (History of the Church, 3:244)
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
I have been just a little bit disappointed in noting that some of our historians are rather inclined to excuse or to explain the burnings, the robbings, the plunderings, the rapings, and all the rest. Personally, I have no desire to forget all those things-not that I want to cherish them and build hate in my heart, but I do want to have some understanding of what our forefathers went through in order that we might come here. (Conference Report, October 1958, pp. 80-83)
DC 123:10 The dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder
What wickedness is too wicked for hell? What darkness is too black for the Prince of Darkness?
- Butchery with a corn cutter-Brother Thomas McBride, "an old, grey-haired, venerable veteran of the Revolution, with feeble frame and tottering steps" "threw himself into [the mob's] hands and begged for [mercy], when he was instantly shot down; that not killing him, they took an old corn cutter and literally mangled him to pieces." (History of the Church, 3:220)
- Prisoners poisoned and cannibalized-"Poison was administered to us three or four times. The effect it had upon our systems was, that it vomited us almost to death, and then we would lay some two or three days in a torpid, stupid state, not even caring or wishing for life. The poison would inevitably have proved fatal had not the power of Jehovah interposed in our behalf, to save us from their wicked purpose. We were also subjected to the necessity of eating human flesh! for the space of five days, or go without food, except a little coffee or a little corn bread. I chose the latter alternative. None of us partook of the flesh except Lyman Wight. We also heard the guard which was placed over us, making sport of us, saying that 'they had fed us upon Mormon beef.'" (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 219-220)
- Brains dashed in-"Another man by the name of Carey was also taken prisoner by them, and without any provocation had his brains dashed out by a gun. He was laid in a wagon and there permitted to remain for the space of twenty-four hours; during which time no one was permitted to administer to him comfort or consolation; and after he was removed from that situation, he lived but a few hours." (History of the Church, 3:222)
- Gang rape-"I heard a party of them, one night, telling about some female whose person they had violated; and this language was used by one of them: 'The d-b-, how she yelled!' Who this person was, I did not know; but before I got out of prison I heard that a widow, whose husband had died some few months before, with consumption, had been brutally violated by a gang of them, and died in their hands, leaving three little children, in whose presence the scene of brutality took place." (from Hyrum Smith, History of the Church, 3:464)
- Murderous threats-"The mob shot down cows while the girls were milking them. The mob threatened to send the committee 'to hell jumping,' and 'put daylight through them.' The same day... some of the same company met Elder [Heber C.] Kimball on the public square in Far West, and asked him if he was a '---Mormon;' he replied, 'I am a Mormon.' 'Well, --- --- you, we'll blow your brains out, you --- --- Mormon,' and tried to ride over him with their horses." (History of the Church, 3:322)
DC 123:12 there are many... who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it
Franklin D. Richards
God's church has always been a missionary church, and we are required by modern revelation to take the restored gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. (See D&C 133:37.)
We have also been told that "there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." (D&C 123:12.)
We invite those who are seeking truth and a better way of life to sincerely investigate our message. It will answer the questions "What is the purpose of life?" "Where did we come from?" and "What is there after death?" The restored gospel brings peace, happiness, and growth and development into the lives of those that accept it and live according to its teachings. ("Lengthening Your Stride as a Missionary," Ensign, May 1977, 19)
Joseph B. Wirthlin
These latter days are a time of great spiritual thirst. Many in the world are searching, often intensely, for a source of refreshment that will quench their yearning for meaning and direction in their lives. They crave a cool, satisfying drink of insight and knowledge that will soothe their parched souls. Their spirits cry out for life-sustaining experiences of peace and calm to nourish and enliven their withering hearts.
Indeed, "there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." Let us work with all our heart, might, mind, and strength to show our thirsty brothers and sisters where they may find the living water of the gospel, that they may come to drink of the water that springs "up unto everlasting life."
The Lord provides the living water that can quench the burning thirst of those whose lives are parched by a drought of truth. He expects us to supply to them the fulness of the gospel by giving them the scriptures and the words of the prophets and to bear personal testimony as to the truth of the restored gospel to alleviate their thirst. When they drink from the cup of gospel knowledge, their thirst is satisfied as they come to understand our Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness. ("Living Water to Quench Spiritual Thirst," Ensign, May 1995, 19)
DC 123:13 we should waste and wear out our lives
John H. Groberg
[On my mission in Tonga] we were constantly going on preaching circuits. They were arduous, both by land and by sea. We traveled long distances over trails of mud and ocean. There is a scripture that says that we should "waste and wear out our lives" in the service of God (see D&C 123:13). Great joy comes as we try. I remember many times being so tired that I could hardly move. It is exhausting to teach families, particularly when you go so far to reach them, put forth so much effort to bear testimony, and try to help them all you can. There were no cars or bikes, so we walked or rode horses. To me it was hard work riding horses, especially for long distances. We always rode bareback or with a burlap sack because no one could afford saddles. Horses are pretty bouncy, so most of the time I walked.
It was always good to return home from preaching circuits, whether by land or by sea... What a wonderful feeling to be home, to be in the calm of a protected harbor after a rough voyage, and to feel the calmness of soul that comes from knowing you have done what the Lord wanted you to do. (In the Eye of the Storm [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993], 202 - 203)
Calculating as we do, upon the mercy and power of God in our behalf, we hope to persevere on in every good and useful work, even unto the end, that when we come to be tried in the balance we may not be found wanting. (History of the Church, 4:9)
DC 123:16 a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm
Carlos E. Asay
Mortality is not a pleasure cruise on some luxury liner. It is a voyage fraught with challenges and constant buffetings of winds and waves. As James A. Michener wrote: "A ship, like a human being, moves best when it is slightly athwart the wind, when it has to keep its sails tight and attend its course. Ships, like men, do poorly when the wind is directly behind, pushing them sloppily on their way so that no care is required in steering or in the management of sails; the wind seems favorable, for it blows in the direction one is heading, but actually it is destructive because it induces a relaxation in tension and skill. What is needed is a wind slightly opposed to the ship, for then tension can be maintained, and juices can flow and ideas can germinate, for ships, like men, respond to challenge" (Chesapeake , 445; see also D&C 123:16).
Whoever you are, wherever you live, and whatever you are doing, there will be challenges, for this is a time of testing. However, you must stay on the true course if you want to obtain happiness here and reach the safe harbor hereafter. There is no slight or insignificant deviation from the right way. One degree off latitude in the beginning becomes many degrees off course in the end.
If a "large ship is benefited ... by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves," so are we benefited by keeping our hands on the wheels, resisting ill winds, and steering our course toward the desired port of eternal life (D&C 123:16). Such is done by reaffirming our goal, assessing our current position, and making needed course corrections. ("Stay on the True Course," Ensign, May 1996, 61)
Harold B. Lee
I was at Manti, Utah, some years ago. As we came out of the Saturday night leadership meeting, there was a heavy snowstorm. As we drove to the home of the stake president, he stopped his car and turned back to the temple hill. There the lighted temple was standing majestically. We sat there in silence for a few moments, inspired by the sight of that beautiful, sacred place. He said, "You know, Brother Lee, that temple is never more beautiful than in times of a dense fog or in times of a heavy, severe storm."
Just so, never is the gospel of Jesus Christ more beautiful than in times of intense need, or in times of a severe storm within us as individuals, or in times of confusion and turmoil. ("A Blessing for the Saints," Ensign, Jan. 1973, 133)
DC 123:17 let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power
Jeffrey R. Holland
The Lord has probably spoken enough such comforting words to supply the whole universe, it would seem, and yet we see all around us unhappy Latter-day Saints, worried Latter-day Saints, and gloomy Latter-day Saints into whose troubled hearts not one of these innumerable consoling words seems to be allowed to enter. In fact, I think some of us must have that remnant of Puritan heritage still with us that says it is somehow wrong to be comforted or helped, that we are supposed to be miserable about something. ("Come unto Me," Ensign, Apr. 1998, 19)
Gordon B. Hinckley
Do you feel gloomy? Lift your eyes. Stand on your feet. Say a few words of appreciation and love to the Lord. Be positive. I do not know how anybody who is a member of this church can feel gloomy for very long. This is the day which has been spoken of by those who have gone before us. Let us live worthy of our birthright. Keep the faith. Nurture your testimonies. Walk in righteousness and the Lord will bless you and prosper you, and you will be a happy and wonderful people. (Stand a Little Taller, 366)
Gordon B. Hinckley
You are preaching the gospel of good news. The things you have to teach are good. They are designed to make people happy and live a better life. You ought to put a smile on your face and go forth to do the work which the Lord has outlined for you, and He will bless you. And the missionary strength which you have will become a great mark in your lives, a great period in your lives to which you will look back all of your days with appreciation and gratitude. ("Inspirational Thoughts," Ensign, June 1999, 5)
Serve God faithfully, and be cheerful... The Lord has not given us the gospel that we may go around mourning all the days of our lives. He has not introduced this religion for this purpose at all. We came into the world for certain purposes, and those purposes are not of a nature that require much mourning or complaint. Where a person is always complaining and feeling to find fault, the Spirit of the Lord is not very abundant in his heart. If a person wants to enjoy the Spirit of the Lord, let him, when something of a very disagreeable nature comes along, think how worse the circumstance might be, or think of something worse that he has experienced in the past. Always cultivate a spirit of gratitude. It is actually the duty of every Latter-day Saint to cultivate a spirit of gratitude. (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984], 61)