53991636

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

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

teen men volunteered, and started for their assistance; but  discovering, that fifty or sixty of the mob, had gathered at  said Wilson’s, they turned back. At this time, two small  boys passed on their way to Wilson’s who gave informa tion to the mob, that the Mormons were on the road west  of them. Between forty and fifty of the mob, immediate ly started on horseback and foot with guns, in pursuit;  and after riding about two, or two and a half miles, they  discovered them, when the said company of nineteen, im mediately dispersed, and fled in different directions: The  mob hunted them, turning their horses into a corn field, belonging to this people, searching their cornfields  and houses, threatening women and children that they  would pull down their houses and kill them if they did not  tell where the men had fled. Thus, they were employed,  in hunting the men, and threatning the women; until a  company of thirty of the Mormons, from the prairie, armed  with seventeen guns, made their appearance. The former  company of nineteen had dispersed, and fled, and but one  or two of them, had returned to take part in the subse quent battle. On the approach of this latter company of  thirty men, some of the mob cried, “fire, G—d d—n you,  fire.” Two or three guns were then fired by the mob,  which were returned by the other party without loss of  time. The public will here remark, that this company is  the same, that is represented by the mob, as having gone  forth in the evening of the battle bearing the olive branch  of peace. The mob retreated early after the first fire, leav ing some of their horses in Whitmer’s cornfield; and two  of their number, Hugh L. Brazeale, and Thomas Linvill,  dead on the ground. Thus fell H. L. Brazeale, one who,  a few days before, had been heard to say, “with ten fel lows, I will wade to my knees in blood, but that I will  drive the Mormons from Jackson county. Early the next  morning, a respectable woman passed over the battle  ground, and discovered the corpse of the said Brazeale with  a gun by his side. Several were wounded on both sides,  but none mortally, except one Barber, on the part of the  Mormons, who expired the next day. This battle was  fought about sunset, Monday November the fourth; & the  same night, runners were dispatched in every direction un der pretence of calling out—the militia; spreading as they  went, ever rumor calculated to alarm and excite the un wary; such as that the Mormons had taken Independence,  and the Indians had surrounded it, being colleagued to gether &c. The same evening November fourth, not being  satisfied with breaking open the store of Gilbert & Whit ney; and demolishing a part of the dwelling house of said  Gilbert, the Friday night before; they permitted the said  McCarty, who was detected on friday night, as one of the  number breaking in the doors of the store; to take out a  warrant, and arrest the said Gilbert, and others of the  church, for a pretended assault, and false imprisonment of  the said McCarty. Late in the evening, while the court  were proceeding with their trial, in the court house, a gen tleman unconnected with the court, as was believed, per ceiving the prisoners to be without counsel, and in immi nent danger, advised said Gilbert and his brethren, to elect  for jail, as the only alternative to save life: for the north  dore was already barred, and an infuriated mob thronged  the house, with a determination to beat and kill; but  through the interposition of this gentleman, said Gilbert  and four of his brethren were committed to the county Jail  of Jackson, the dungeon of which, must have been a palace,  compared to a court room, where dignity and mercy were  strangers; and naught but the wrath of man, in horrid  threats, stifled the ears of the prisoners. The same night  the said Gilbert, [Isaac] Morley, and Carrill [John Corrill], were liberated from  jail, that they might have an interview with their brethren;  and try to negotiate some measures for peace; and on their  return to jail, about 2 o’clock Tuesday morning, in custody  of the deputy sheriff, an armed force, of six or seven men,  stood near the jail, and hailed; they were answered by the  sheriff, who gave his name, and the names of his prison ers, crying, “dont fire, dont fire, the prisoners are in my  charge,” &c. They however fired one or two guns, when  Morley and Carrill retreated; but Gilbert stood, with seve ral guns presented at him. Two, more desparate than the  rest, attempted to shoot, but one of their guns flashed, and  the other missed fire. Said Gilbert was then knocked  down by Thomas Wilson, a grocer in the village. About  this time, a few of the inhabitants arrived; and Gilbert a gain entered jail, from which, he, with three of his breth ren, were liberated about sunrise, without farther prosecu tion of the trial. On the morning of Tuesday, fifth of  November, the village began to be crowded with individu als from different parts of the county, with guns, &c. and  report said, the militia had been called out, under the sanc tion, or instigation of Lieut. Gov. [Lilburn W.] Boggs; and that one  Col. [Thomas] Pitcher had the command. Among this militia (so  called,) were embodied the most conspicuous characters of  the mob; and it may truly be said, that the appearance of  the ranks of this body, was well calculated to excite suspi cions of their honorable designs. Very early on the same  morning, several branches of the church received intelli gence, that a number of their brethren were in prison, and  the determination of the mob was to kill them; and, that  the branch of the church near the village of Independence,  was in imminent danger, as the main body of the mob were  gathered at that place. In this critical situation, about  one hundred of the Mormons from different branches vol unteered, for the protection of their brethren near Indepen dence, and proceeded on the road toward Independence;  and halted about one mile west of the village, where they  awaited further information concerning the movements of  the mob. They soon learned, that the prisoners were not  massacred; and that the mob had not fallen upon the branch  of the church near Independence, as was expected. They  were also informed, that the militia had been called out for  their protection; but in this they placed little confidence;  for the body congregated, had every appearance of a couty  mob; which subsequent events fully verified, in a large ma jority of said body. On application to Col. Pitcher, it was  found, that there was no alternative, but for the church to  leave the county forthwith; and deliver into his hands, cer tain men, to be tried for murder, said to have been com mitted by them in the battle the evening before. The arms  of this people were also demanded by the Col. We here  remark, that among the committee appointed to receive  the arms of the Mormons, were several of the most unre lenting of the old July mob committee; who had directed  in the demolishing of the printing office, and the personal  injuries of that day, viz. Henry Chiles, Abner Staples, and  Lewis Franklin; who have not ceased to pursue the Mor mons, from the first to the last, with feelings the most  hostile. These unexpected requisitions of the Col. made  him appear like one standing at the head of civil, and mil itary law, taking a stretch beyond the constitutional lim its of our Republic. Rather than have submitted to these  unreasonable requirements, the Mormons would have cheer fully shed their blood in defence of their rights; the liber ties of their country, and of their wives and children; but  the fear of violating law, in resisting this pretended militia;  and the flattering assurances of protection, and honorable  usage, promised by Lt. Gov. Boggs, in whom they had re posed confidence up to this period, induced them to sub mit, believing that he did not tolerate so gross a violation  of all law as had been practised in Jackson county. But  how great has been the change, in the views of this gentle man, since these people have been deprived of their arms  by stratagem; and upwards of one thousand defenceless  men, women, and children, have been driven from their  homes, into strange lands, to seek shelter from the wintry  blasts, remains yet to be ascertained. The conduct of Col onels Lucas and Pitcher, had long proven them to be open  and avowed enemies. Both of these men had their names  attached to the foregoing mob circular, as early as July  last; the object of which was to drive the Mormons from  Jackson county. With assurances from the Lt. Govern or and others, that the object was to disarm the combat ants on both sides, and that peace would be the result; the  Mormons surrendered their arms, to the number of fifty or  upwards; and the men present, who were accused of being  in the battle the evening before, gave themselves up for tri al. After detaining them one day and night, on a preten ded trial for murder; in which time they were treatened,  brick-batted, &c. said Col. Pitcher, after receiving a watch  of one of the prisoners, to satisfy costs, &c. took them in to a cornfield, and said to them, “clear.” After the sur render of their arms, which were used only in self defence,  the neighboring tribes of Indians in time of war, let loose  upon women and children, could not have appeared more  hedious and terrific, than did the companies of ruffians,  who went in various directions, well armed, on foot and  on horse back; bursting into houses without fear, knowing  the arms were secured, frightening distracted women with  what they would do to their husbands if they could catch  them; warning women and children to flee immediately,  or they would tear their houses down over their heads,  and massacre them before night. At the head of one of  these companies, appeard the REV. ISAAC M’COY,  with a gun upon his shoulder, ordering the Mormons to  leave the county forthwith, and surrender what arms they  had. Other pretended preachers of the Gospel took a con spicuous part in the persecution, calling the Mormons the  “Common Enemy of mankind,” and exulting in their af flictions. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the fifth  and sixth of November, women and children fled in every  direction before the merciless mob. One party of about  one hundred and fifty women and children fled to the prai rie, where they wandered for several days, under the broad  canopy of heaven, with about six men to protect them;  other parties fled towards the Missouri river, and took  lodging for the night where they could find it. We ought  to notice the hospitality of one man, Mr. Barnet, who  opened his house for a night’s shelter, to a wandering com pany of distressed women and children, who were fleeing  to the river. During this dispersion of women and chil dren, parties of the mob were hunting the men, firing upon  some, tying up and whipping others, and several they pur sued upon horses for several miles. A small branch of the  Church, located on the prairie, about 15 miles from Inde pendence, say 15 to 20 families, had hoped, from the ob scurity of their situation, to escape the vengeance of the  mob; but on Sunday, the 24th of November, a party of the  mob went to them with arms, and presented pistols, com manding them to leave in three days, or they would tear  down their houses, &c. For the preservation of life, and  personal effects, the most, if not all of said branch, have  left their houses, and are now in Clay county, encamped  on the bank of the Missouri river. A number of families  went into Van Buren county; their whole number of men,  women and children, being upwards of 150. An express  has just arrived from that place, this 12th of December,  with information, that these families are about to be driven  from that county; after building their houses and carting  their winter’s store of grain, and provisions, 40 or 50 miles.  Several families are already fleeing from thence. The con taminating influence of the Jackson county mob, is pre dominant in this new county of Van Buren, the whole pop ulation of which is estimated at about 30 to 40 families.— The destruction of crops, household furniture, and cloth ing, is very great; and much of their stock is lost. The  main body of the church, are now in Clay county, where  the people are as kind and accommodating, as could rea sonably be expected. The continued threats of death to  individuals of this church, if they make their appearance in  Jackson county, prevent the most of them, even at this  day, from returning to that county, to secure personal  property, which they were obliged to leave in their flight.  The public may be assured, that the foregoing is a plain,  unvarnished statement of facts, relative to the lawless pro ceedings of the Jackson county mob. Interesting matter  sufficient for a volume, has been omitted, in the foregoing,  that this hand-bill might not be rendered too voluminous;  but posterity will record this tragedy, which stands unpar alleled in the annals of this Republic. With a firm reli ance on that God, who never fails to bring to light the hid den works of darkness; and confiding in the integrity and  patriotism of those who hold in high veneration, the be loved constitution of our country, we submit the forego ing, being ready to meet it, not only before an earthly tri bunal, but before the Great Searcher of all hearts.
December 12, 1833.
 
P. S. After the foregoing was taken to the press we re ceived the distressing intelligence, that four aged families  living near the village of Independence, whose penury and  infirmities, incident to old age, forbade a speedy removal,  were driven from their houses on Monday night the twen ty third inst. -[December,]- by a party of the mob, who tore  down their chimneys, broke in their doors and windows,  and hurled large rocks into their houses, by which the life  of old Mrs. Miller in particular, was greatly endangered.  Mr. Miller is aged sixty five years, being the youngest  man in the four families. Some of these men have toiled  and bled in the defense of their country; and old Mr. Jones,  one of the sufferers, served as life guard to General George  Washington, in the revolution. Well may the soldier of  ’76 contemplate with horror the scenes which surround  him at this day in Jackson county, where liberty, law, and  equal rights, are trodden under foot. It is now apparent  that no man embracing the faith of this people, whatever  be his age or former standing in society, may hope to es cape the wrath of the Jackson county mob, whenever it is  in their power to inflict abuse.
We conclude with a few remarks in relation to the cel ebrated mob circular inserted in the foregoing, from the  very features which, it will be seen that they meditated  a most daring infraction of the constitution of our country,  that they might gratify a spirit of persecution against an  innocent people. To whom shall blame be attached in this  tragedy, when they, in July last, boldly made known their  determinations to drive the Mormons from Jackson county,  peacably if they could, forceably if they must, openly de claring, that the arm of the civil law did not afford them  a sufficient guarantee against the increasing evils of this  religious sect; and in their circular they further say, “we  deem it expedient, and of the highest importance, to form  ourselves into a Company for the better and easier accom plishment of our purpose;” and conclude with these high  toned words: “We therefore agree, that after timely warn ing; and upon receiving an adequate compensation for what  little property they cannot take with them, they refuse to  leave us in peace as they found us, we agree to use such  means as may be sufficient to remove them; and to this end  we each pledge to each other, our lives, our bodily powers,  fortunes, and sacred honors.”
The public will here preceive, that since July last, the cit izens of Jackson county have been diligently devising ways  and means for the accomplishment of their purpose, which  they effected after calling out the Militia in November  last. In answer to their bold and daring resolves to guard  against anticipated evils, we give the following extract  from the Governors letter in relation to this affair, dated  Oct 19th, 1833. “No citizen nor number of citizens has a  right to take the redress of their grievances, whether real  or imaginary, into their own hands: such conduct strikes  at the very existence of society, and subverts the founda tion on which it is based.”
As regards the approbrious charges against this church,  not only in the said circular, but in subsequent communi cations, the members thereof are willing, that their exam ples for a period of more than two years in this region of  country, should be taken as a standard to convict or acquit.  That all manner of evil will be spoken against them false ly, they expect; but, for all unrighteous slanders of their  enemies, God will be their avenger. And will an enlight ened public condemn an afflicted people, who have been  stricken and smitten, should they ask a share in those  rights and privileges, which are the gifts of our great Fa ther in heaven, and are guaranteed unto us by the laws of  our country, of which they are now wantonly and inhu manly deprived? [p. [2]]
Previous
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