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Parley P. Pratt et al., “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” 12 December 1833

Parley P. Pratt et al., “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” 12 December 1833

OUR readers will recollect the frequent accounts pub lished in the Star, concerning the outrage in Missouri;  and lest we might give them occasion to think, that we  devote too large a portion of our columns to this subject,  we have issued this Extra, containing a circular recently  received from our friends in the West, which corroborates  many items heretofore laid before the public. It will be  seen, that the more part of the following, or the substance  of it, up to Dec. 15, has been previously published; but  out of respect to our friends in the West, and the justice  of their cause, we consider that it is no more than right,  that they should be allowed to speak for themselves upon  this awful and unheard of persecution in a republican gov ernment!
Facts concerning this afflicted people already before the  world, are sufficient to arouse the sympathy of every feel ing heart, and cause every true republican to blush at the  thought, that men in our country are so destitute of human ity, as to raise an oppressive hand against any people for  their religion! None, we presume to say, will forbear to  weep at such conduct, but those who are bound, more or  ‘l’ess by priestly influence!—-[Editor of the Star.]-
 
“THE MORMONS”
SO CALLED.
So various have been the reports, concerning this people,  that the attempt, at this time, to spread a few facts in rela tion to their inhospitable reception, and final expulsion from  Jackson county by force of arms, may be unavailing. But  through the solicitation of certain candid and influential  citizens of this state, that there should be sent forth, a hand- bill, detailing in a very brief manner, only the important  features of their history in Jackson county, Missouri; the  writers note the follwing facts, passing over every incident  except the most important. On the 26th July, 1831, about  sixty men, women, and children, landed at Independence  landing, from on board the steamer Chieftain, Captain Shal cross.—These were the first settlers of this people in Jack son county. From this time their emigration continued,  until their number became about twelve hundred. As re gards their integrity in all their dealings with the world,  their industrious habits, and total abstinence from public  crime, and violations of the laws of the land, let such indi viduals as are unconnected with the Jackson county mob,  and have personal knowledge of, and dealings with them,  speak in this case; and also, the records of the courts of  Jackson county.
What then, a candid public enquires, is the cause of their  extraordinary persecutions? The answer is, their firm be lief in the book of Mormon, and the articles and covenants  of their Church, as being brought forth by inspiration of  Almighty God. In June, 1832, this people established a  press in Jackson county; and their first paper, entitled the  Evening and the Morning Star, was published the same  month. In this paper, their faith and doctrines were fully  set forth, and through this vehicle, the inhabitants of Jack son county became acquainted with them; and if those com munications published as revelations from God to this gen eration, are marvelous, the unusual circulation of all man ner of falsehoods, concerning this people, is equally marve lous. As early as the spring of 1832, written hand-bills  were posted up in various parts of the county of Jackson,  warning this people to clear from the county; but they were  unheeded. In the same season, a meeting of the citizens  of the county was called, and a large collection gathered,  which terminated with warnings, and wicked threats to  the leading men in the Church. After stoning and brick- batting their houses for several nights in succession, the  persecution abated in some degree, till the following fall;  when a certain man in the village of Independence, whose  name was not divulged till the summer of 1833, set fire to,  and burnt a large stack of hay, belonging to two of this  people. After this, few acts of violence were committed  openly by the populace, but continual rumors of a mischiev ous and wicked nature, too incredible and trifling to be na med among the intelligent part of community, were busily  circulated among the inhabitants of Jackson county, and  had the desired effect, in exciting and enraging the illiter ate class against the Mormons.—One report was, that “the  Mormons had declared, that they would have the land of  Jackson county, for the Lord had given it to them, &c.”— Another, that “the Mormons were tampering with the  Blacks of said county; and that they were, (to use their  term,) colleguing with the Indians, and exciting them to hos tilities against the whites, &c.”—Most industriously were  reports of this nature daily spread, while the Mormons were  entreating for an open and legal investigation into these  rumors. But no such step would the leaders of this faction  consent to take; but, on the contrary, made every effort to  fan the flames, till this demoniac spirit became general, and  those few who wished for peace, were compelled to be  mute.—Thus did the deep-rooted hatred and malice against  their religion rage, under cover of the aforesaid reports.  And foreseeing that false impressions against this people  were prevailing in adjoining counties, because of wicked  fabrications, the conductors of the Star published an address  to the Church abroad, in the last July number, headed  “Free People of Color,” in which they particularly quoted  the two important sections, 4 and 5, from the statute laws  of Missouri, with a warning to the church, to “shun every  appearance of evil.” This communication, being misrep resented by the leaders of the faction, hand-bills were im mediately struck off, under date of 16th July, giving full  explanation to every rational man of the views of this peo ple, in relation to the Blacks. The hand bills were posted  up in the village of Independence, at sundry times, and im mediately pulled down by the mob. About this time, the  following noted circular was passing through the county  for signatures, which reads as follows:
-[Those of our readers who wish to peruse the above  mentioned document, we refer to the first number of the  Star, published in this place: the length of the article pro hibits its insertion in this extra.—Editor of the Star.]-
At the time the foregoing circular was put into the  hands of the Mormons, there were between 70 and 100 sig natures to it; among the number were names of the follow ing, viz. Henry Chiles, Attorney, Russel[l] Hicks, Attor ney, Hugh L. Br[e]azeale, Attorney, Samuel Weston J. P.,  John Smith J. P., John Cook J. P., Lewis Franklin, Jailor,  Thomas Pitcher, Lt. Colonel militia and constable, Gan  Johnson, James P. Hickman, Samuel C. Owens, County  Clerk, S[amuel] D. Lucas Colonel of militia, Judge of County  Court, John O. W. Hambright, R. W. Cummings, Ind.  agent, Jones H. Flournoy P. M., Richard Simpson, &c.  Several other circulars, supposed to be of the same tenor as  the foregoing, were circulated thro’ the county, and hun dreds of signatures obtained. Pursuant to the last clause  of said circular, the mob met at the court-house on the 20th  of July; and from their appearance, it became apparent that  nothing but the blood of this defenceless people would ap pease their wrath, unless God, or the Executive of the State  interposed. But through the mercy of God, the execution  of their threats was stayed, and July passed without blood shed. The wicked and wanton manner, in which the print ing office of W[illiam] W. Phelps & Co. the type, and books then  publishing, the dwelling-house of said Phelps, and some  furniture, were destroyed; together with the inhuman and  degrading treatment of tarring and feathering the Bishop  of the Church, and one other worthy member, Charles  Allen, in the presence of several hundred people, are facts,  too notorious to need particular comment here. After  compelling Messrs. [Sidney] Gilbert & [Newel K.] Whitney to close their store,  and pack their goods, (which was done,) the mob adjourn ed to meet on the 23d July, on which day they again met,  to the number of 3 to 500 as was estimated; some armed  with fire armes, dirks, and sticks, with their red flags hois ted as they entered town, threatening death and destruction  to the Mormons. On this day, six of the Church signed an  agreement for themselves, to leave the county of Jackson,  one half by the 1st January, and the other half by the 1st  of April, 1834, hoping thereby to preserve the lives of their  brethren, and their property. After said agreement was  signed, and the mob harrangued by two of their leaders in  the court-house, they dispersed with threats of destruction  the next new year’s day, if the Mormons were not off by  that time. This people, being wearied with such barba rous usage, made several attempts to effect a settlement in  the new county of Van Buren; and several families removed  there; but the threats of a majority of that county, so alar med the women and children, that they were compelled to  return. Under these circumstances, a petition was sent  by express early in October last, to the Governor of the  State, praying his Excellency to point out some relief.— The Governor’s letter, in reply to said petition, is already  before the public, in which he pointed out certain legal steps  for their safety, and a prosecution of their claims in the  courts of law, &c. Accordingly, by advice of the Gov ernor, suits were directed to be commenced in certain cases  for damages, in the destruction of property, &c. This  was spread and some few honest men in Jackson county,  gave this people warning, that the prosecution of their  claims, was arousing the vengeance of the county against  them; and that they were determined to come out by night,  and tear down houses, kill stock, and probably wound and  maim individuals. Having passed through the most aggra vated insults and injuries, without making the least resis tance, a general inquiry prevailed at this time, thoughout  the Church, as to the propriety of self-defence. Some  claimed the right of defending themselves, families, and  houses from destruction, while others doubted the propriety  of self defence; and as the agreement of the 23d July, be tween the two parties, had been published to the world,  wherein it was set forth, that the Mormons were not to  leave until the 1st of January, and 1st of April, 1834, it  was believed by many of the Mormons, that the leaders of  the mob, whose names appeared in the Monitor of that date,  would not suffer so barefaced a violation of the agree ment, before the time therein set forth; but Thursday night,  the 31st of October, gave them abundant proof, that no  pledge, written or verbal, was longer to be regarded; for on  that night, between 40 and 50 in number, many of whom  were armed with guns, proceeded against a branch of the  Church west of Big-Blue, and unroofed, and partly demol ished, ten dwelling houses; and in the midst of the shrieks  and screams of women and children, whipped and beat,  in a savage and brutal manner, several of the men; and with  their horred threats, frightened women and children into  the wilderness. Such of the men as could escape, fled for  their lives; for very few of them had arms, neither were  they embodied; and they were threatened with death if  they made resistance; such, therefore, as could not escape  by flight, received a pelting by rocks, and a beating with  guns, sticks, &c. On Friday, the 1st November, women  and children sallied forth from their gloomy retreats, to con template with heart rending anguish, the ravages of a ruth less mob, in the mangled bodies of their husbands, and in  the destruction of their houses, and some of their furniture.  Houseless, and unprotected by the arm of civil law in Jack son county, the dreary month of November staring them in  the face, and loudly proclaiming a more inclement season,  at hand; the continual threats of the mob, that they would  drive every Mormon from the county; and the inability of  many to remove, because of their poverty, caused an an guish of heart indiscribable.
On Friday night, the 1st of November, a party of the  mob, proceeded to attack a branch of the church at the  prairie, about twelve or fourteen miles from the village.— Two of their numbers were sent in advance, as spies, viz,  Robert Johnson, and one Harris, armed with two guns,  and three pistols. They were discovered by some of the  Mormons, and without the least injury being done to them,  said Johnson struck Pratt; with the britch of his gun, over  the head; after which they were taken and detained till  morning; which, it was believed, prevented a general at tack of the mob that night. In the morning, they were  liberated without receiving the least injury. The same  night (Friday,) another party in Independence, commenced  stoning houses, breaking down doors and windows, des stroying furniture &c. This night, the brick part, attach ed to the dwelling house of A S. Gilbert, was partly pulled  down, and the windows of his dwelling broken in with brick  batts and rocks; while a gentleman stranger lay sick with a  fever in his house. The same night, three doors of the  store of Messrs. Gilbert and Whitney, were split open; and  after midnight, the goods lay scattered in the streets, such  as calicoes, handkerchiefs, shawls, cambricks, &c; to which  fact upwards of twenty witnesses can attest. An express  came from the village after midnight, to a party of their  men, who had embodied about half a mile from the village,  for the safety of their lives; stating that the mob were tear ing down houses, and scattering the goods of the store in  the street. The main body of the mob fled, at the approach  of this company. One Richard McCarty was caught in  the act of throwing rocks and brick batts into the doors  while the goods lay strung around him in the street, and  was immediately taken before Samuel Weston, Esq. and a  complaint there made to said Weston, and a warrant re quested, that said McCarty might be secured; but said  Weston refused to do any thing in the case at that time.— said McCarty was then liberated. The same night, some  of their houses in the village, had long poles thrust through  the shutters and sash, into the rooms of defenceless women  and children, from whence their husbands and fathers had  been driven by the dastardly attacks of the mob, which was  made by ten, fifteen, or twenty men upon a house at a time.  Saturday the second November, all the families of this peo ple, in the village, moved about half a mile out, with most  of their goods; and embodied to the number of thirty, for  the preservation of life and personal effects. This night, a  party from the village, met a party from west of the Blue,  and made an attack upon a branch of the church, located at  the Blue, about six miles from the village, here, they tore  the roof from one dwelling, and broke open another house,  found the owner sick in bed, viz, David Bennet, whom they  beat inhumanly, swearing they would blow out his brains,  and discharged a pistol, the ball of which cut a deep gash  across the top of his head. In this skirmish, a young man  of the mob, was shot in the thigh; but, by which party re mains yet to be determined. The next day, (Sunday,)  November, the third, four of the church, viz. Joshua Lew is, Hiram Page, and two others, were dispatched for Lex ington, to see the circuit Judge, and obtain a peace war rant. Two called on Esq. Silvers, who refused to issue  one, on account, as he has declared, of his fears of the mob.  This day many of the citizens, professing friendship, advis ed this people to clear from the county, as speedily as pos sible; for the Saturday night affray had “enraged the whole  county, and they were determined to come out on Monday,  and massacre indiscriminately; and in short, it was prov erbial among the mob, that Monday would be a bloody  day.—Monday came, and a large party of the mob gathered  at the Blue, took the ferry boat, belonging to the church,  threatened their lives, &c. But they soon abandoned the ferry,  and went to Wilson’s store, about one mile west of the Blue.  Word had previously gone to a branch of the church, sev eral miles west of the Blue, that the mob were destroying  property, on the east side of the Blue; and the sufferers  there, wanted help, to preserve lives and property. Nine [p. [1]]
Next
Community violence against Mormon settlers in Jackson County, Missouri, escalated on 20 July 1833. In Independence, the brick home of William W. Phelps was torn down and the church’s printing press was thrown out of a second-story window. That month’s issue of the church newspaper The Evening and the Morning Star was the last published in Missouri, and the collection of revelations known as the Book of Commandments, then being printed, would never be completed.
By September 1833 the church moved to reestablish a press in the charge of Oliver Cowdery—this time located at its other center at Kirtland, Ohio. Among the first items published there was a February 1834 broadsheet titled “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” which apparently reprinted an earlier published account of the Missouri “outrages.” The earlier text was a December 1833 handbill probably printed in Liberty, Missouri, at the shop of the Upper Missouri Enquirer—possibly, and if so, ironically, on Phelps’s Jackson County press acquired by the Enquirer after the 20 July riot. The broadsheet, printed as an “Extra” to the Kirtland-based The Evening and the Morning Star, included some additional editorial comments from Oliver Cowdery as editor. (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:42.)
“‘The Mormons’ So Called” presented a detailed account of the eruption of conflict and violence in Jackson County beginning in 1832, which culminated in the Saints’ agreement to leave the county by April 1834, with most fleeing to neighboring Clay County. The account was signed by three prominent Mormon Missouri leaders, Parley P. Pratt, Newel Knight, and John Corrill. Pratt, who may have been the author of the document, drew upon its content for his 1839 publication, History of the Late Persecution, which in turn formed the basis for his 1840 expansion, Late Persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints.
The original December 1833 Missouri handbill is no longer extant. The document featured here is the February 1834 broadsheet “Extra” to The Evening and the Morning Star, which includes Oliver Cowdery’s editorial additions.

Facts