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

port my family which are now reduced to beggary in  a land of strangers.
But when the authorities of the State shall redress  all these wrongs; shall punish the guilty according to  the law; and shall restore my family and friends to all  the rights of which we have been unlawfully depri ved both in Jackson and all other counties; and shall  pay all the damages which we as a people have sus tained, then I shall believe them sincere in their pro fessed zeal for law and justice—then shall I be con vinced that I can have a fair trial in the State. But  until then, I hereby solemnly protest against being  tried in this State, with the full and conscientious  conviction, that I have no just grounds to expect a  fair and impartial trial.
I therefore most sincerely pray your Honor and all  the authorities of the State, to either banish me with out further prosecution; or I freely consent to a trial  before the Judiciary of the United States.
With sentiments of high consideration and due re spect, I have the honor to subscribe myself, your  Honor’s most humble and obedient, etc.
PRATT’S DEFENCE.
 
As down a lone dungeon, with darkness o’erspread,
In silence and sorrow I made my lone bed,
While far from my prison my friends had retired,
And joy from this bosom had almost expired.
 
From all that was lovely, constrained for to part,
From wife and from children so dear to my heart;
While foes were exulting, and friends far away,
In half broken slumbers, all pensive I lay.
 
I though upon Zion—her sorrowful doom:—
I thought on her anguish—her trouble and gloom,
How for years she had wandered, a captive forlorn,
Cast out and afflicted, and treated with scorn.
 
I thought on the time when some five years ago,
Twelve hundred from Jackson, were driven by foes, [p. 83]
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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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