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Parley P. Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 1839

Fifthly, all these inhuman outrages and crimes go  unpunished, and are unnoticed by you, Sir, and by  all the authotities of the State.
Sixthly, the Legislature of the State has approved  of and sanctioned this act of banishment, with all the  crimes connected with it, by voting some two hun dred thousand dollars for the payment of troops enga ged in this unlawful, unconstitutional and treasonable  enterprize. In monarchial Governments, the banish ment of criminals, after their trial and legal condem nation, has been frequently resorted to—but the ban ishment of innocent women and children from house  and home and country, to wander in a land of stran gers, unprotected and unprovided for, while their hus bands and fathers are retained in dungeons, to be  tried by some other law, is an act unknown in the an nals of history, except in this single instance, in the  nineteenth century, when it has actually transpired  in a Republican State, where the Constitution guar antees to every man the protection of life and proper ty, and the right of trial by jury. These are outrages  which would put monarchy to the blush, and from  which the most despotic tyrants of the dark ages  would turn away with shame and disgust.
In these proceedings, Missouri has enrolled her  name on the list of immortal fame; her transactions  will be handed down the stream of time to the latest  posterity, who will read with wonder and astonish ment the history of proceedings which are without a  parallel in the annals of time. Why should the au thorities of the State strain at a gnat and swallow a  camel? Why be so strictly legal as to compel me,  through all the forms of a slow and legal prosecution  previous to my enlargement, out of a pretence of re spect to the laws of the statute which have been open ly trampled upon and disregarded towards us from  first to last? Why not include me in the general,  wholesale banishment of our Society, that I may sup [p. 82]
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While incarcerated at Liberty, Missouri, in March 1839, JS addressed a letter to the church “at Quincy Illinois and scattered abroad and to Bishop [Edward] Partridge in particular,” instructing the Saints to gather up “a knoledge of all the facts and sufferings and abuses put upon them by the people of this state.” (JS et al., Liberty, MO, to the church members and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20 Mar. 1839, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 123:1, 6].) Edward Partridge responded with an account that became the three opening installments of “A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” an eleven-part series published in the church’s Illinois newspaper, Times and Seasons, between December 1839 and October 1840. “A History, of the Persecution” will receive comprehensive treatment in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers and will eventually be posted to this website.
Partridge may have intended to tell the entire Missouri story himself, but he fell ill shortly after publication of “A History, of the Persecution” began and died on 27 May 1840. Prompted by Partridge’s illness and subsequent death, the editors of the Times and Seasons, Ebenezer Robinson and Don Carlos Smith, sought elsewhere for source materials to continue the series. It is probable that they composed the fourth installment to provide a brief transition from Partridge’s account, which ends in 1836, and the conflicts in Caldwell and adjoining counties beginning in 1838. In April and June 1840, the fifth and seventh installments reprinted passages from Parley P. Pratt’s History of the Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons (Detroit: Dawson and Bates 1839). The sixth and eighth through tenth installments drew upon Sidney Rigdon’s pamphlet, An Appeal to the American People. The series concluded with an eleventh installment in October 1840, featuring Missouri militia general John B. Clark’s callous speech to the Saints after their surrender at Far West, Missouri, in November 1838.
Pratt wrote History of the Late Persecution, the document featured here, during his eight-month imprisonment in Missouri jails in 1838–1839. His wife, Mary Ann Frost Pratt, daringly smuggled the manuscript out of the jail. After his escape on 4 July 1839 and reunion with the Saints in Illinois, Pratt left on a mission to England with the Twelve Apostles. When he reached Detroit he paused to visit relatives and arranged for the publication of his history there, obtaining a copyright for his book on 30 September 1839. Revised versions were subsequently reprinted in New York in 1840 as a pamphlet under the same title and as an expanded hardback with the title Late Persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints. (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 89–90, 100–103.) Pratt later drew upon his history when he composed his autobiography in the 1850s.
Pratt’s History of the Late Persecution provides an autobiographical account of events in Jackson, Clay, Caldwell, and Daviess counties, Missouri, beginning in 1833. Some of the material describing events that transpired in Jackson County in 1833 was drawn from an earlier publication Pratt co-authored with Newel Knight and John Corrill, “‘The Mormons’ So Called.” History of the Late Persecution rehearses the conflict that engulfed Caldwell and Daviess counties, the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri, the mistreatment of Mormon prisoners by Missouri authorities, and the smuggling of Pratt’s manuscript copy of the History from jail, concluding with his narrow escape from imprisonment in Columbia, Missouri.

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