53992724

Sidney Rigdon, Appeal to the American People, 1840

of Shoal Creek

Stream that flows eastward for about forty-five miles from east central Clinton Co. through Caldwell Co. to confluence with Grand River in central Livingston Co. Thousands of Saints moved from Clay Co. to sites along Shoal Creek in Caldwell Co., beginning...

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, and saw a large company of armed men on horses, directing their course towards the mills, with all possible speed. As they advanced through the scattering trees that stood on the edge of the prairie, they seemed to form themselves into a three square position, forming a van guard in front. At this moment, David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers (there being two hundred and forty of them, according to their own account) swung his hat and cried for peace. This not being heeded, they continued to advance, and their leader, Mr. Nehemiah Comstock

Ca. 1805–ca. May 1845. Born in Kentucky. Married first Lurana Fox, 28 June 1827. Resided in Knox Co., Kentucky, 1830. Married second Susan Rupe, 15 Apr. 1838, in Lafayette Co., Missouri. Served as captain in Livingston Co., Missouri, militia during Mormon...

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, fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten or twelve seconds, when, all at once, they discharged about one hundred rifles, aiming at a black-smith’s shop, into which our friends had fled for safety: and charging up to the shop, the cracks of which between the logs were sufficiently large to enable them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers. There were several families tented in rear of the shop, whose lives were exposed, and amidst a shower of bullets, fled to the woods in different directions. After standing and gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, and finding myself in the utmost danger, the bullets having reached the house where I was living, I committed my family to the protection of heaven, and leaving the house on the opposite side, I took a path which led up the hill, following in the trail of three of my brethren that had fled from the shop. While ascending the hill, we were discovered by the mob, who immediately fired at us and continued so to do, till we reached the summit. In discending the hill, I secreted myself in a thicket of bushes, where I lay till eight o’clock in the evening, at which time I heard a female voice calling my name in an under tone, telling me that the mob had gone and there was no danger. I immediately left the thicket and went to the house of Benjamin Lewis, where I found my family (who had fled there) in safety, and two of my friends mortally wounded, one of whom died before morning.
Here we passed that awful night in deep and painful reflections on the scenes of the preceding evening. After day light appeared, some four or five men with my [p. 54]
of Shoal Creek

Stream that flows eastward for about forty-five miles from east central Clinton Co. through Caldwell Co. to confluence with Grand River in central Livingston Co. Thousands of Saints moved from Clay Co. to sites along Shoal Creek in Caldwell Co., beginning...

More Info
, and saw a large company of armed men  on horses, directing their course towards the mills, with  all possible speed. As they advanced through the scat tering trees that stood on the edge of the prairie, they  seemed to form themselves into a three square position,  forming a van guard in front. At this moment, David  Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers (there be ing two hundred and forty of them, according to their  own account) swung his hat and cried for peace. This  not being heeded, they continued to advance, and their  leader, Mr. [Nehemiah] Comstock

Ca. 1805–ca. May 1845. Born in Kentucky. Married first Lurana Fox, 28 June 1827. Resided in Knox Co., Kentucky, 1830. Married second Susan Rupe, 15 Apr. 1838, in Lafayette Co., Missouri. Served as captain in Livingston Co., Missouri, militia during Mormon...

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, fired a gun, which was followed  by a solemn pause of ten or twelve seconds, when, all  at once, they discharged about one hundred rifles, aiming  at a black-smith’s shop, into which our friends had fled  for safety: and charging up to the shop, the cracks of  which between the logs were sufficiently large to enable  them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there  fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers. There  were several families tented in rear of the shop, whose  lives were exposed, and amidst a shower of bullets, fled  to the woods in different directions. After standing and  gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, and find ing myself in the utmost danger, the bullets having reach ed the house where I was living, I committed my family  to the protection of heaven, and leaving the house on the  opposite side, I took a path which led up the hill, follow ing in the trail of three of my brethren that had fled from  the shop. While ascending the hill, we were discovered  by the mob, who immediately fired at us and continued  so to do, till we reached the summit. In discending the  hill, I secreted myself in a thicket of bushes, where I lay  till eight o’clock in the evening, at which time I heard a  female voice calling my name in an under tone, telling  me that the mob had gone and there was no danger. I  immediately left the thicket and went to the house of  Benjamin Lewis, where I found my family (who had fled  there) in safety, and two of my friends mortally wounded,  one of whom died before morning.
Here we passed that awful night in deep and painful  reflections on the scenes of the preceding evening. Af ter day light appeared, some four or five men with my [p. 54]
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While incarcerated at Liberty

Located in western Missouri, thirteen miles north of Independence. Settled 1820. Clay Co. seat, 1822. Incorporated as town, May 1829. Following expulsion from Jackson Co., 1833, many Latter-day Saints found refuge in Clay Co., with church leaders and other...

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, Missouri, in March 1839, JS addressed a letter to the church “at Quincy

Located on high limestone bluffs east of Mississippi River, about forty-five miles south of Nauvoo. Settled 1821. Adams Co. seat, 1825. Incorporated as town, 1834. Received city charter, 1840. Population in 1835 about 800; in 1840 about 2,300; and in 1845...

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Illinois and scattered abroad and to Bishop [Edward] Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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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

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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.” (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

Became part of Northwest Territory of U.S., 1787. Admitted as state, 1818. Population in 1840 about 480,000. Population in 1845 about 660,000. Plentiful, inexpensive land attracted settlers from northern and southern states. Following expulsion from Missouri...

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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

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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may have intended to tell the entire Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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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

25 May 1816–11 Mar. 1891. Printer, editor, publisher. Born at Floyd (near Rome), Oneida Co., New York. Son of Nathan Robinson and Mary Brown. Moved to Utica, Oneida Co., ca. 1831, and learned printing trade at Utica Observer. Moved to Ravenna, Portage Co....

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and Don Carlos Smith

25 Mar. 1816–7 Aug. 1841. Farmer, printer, editor. Born at Norwich, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Palmyra, Ontario Co., New York, 1816–Jan. 1817. Moved to Manchester, Ontario Co., 1825. Baptized into LDS church by David...

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, 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

Located in northwest Missouri. Settled by whites, by 1831. Described as being “one-third timber and two-thirds prairie” in 1836. Created specifically for Latter-day Saints by Missouri state legislature, 29 Dec. 1836, in attempt to solve “Mormon problem.” ...

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and adjoining counties in 1838. The fifth and seventh installments reprinted passages from Parley P. Pratt

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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’s History of the Late Persecutions Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons (Detroit: Dawson and Bates, 1839). In May 1840, the sixth installment reprinted passages from Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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’s eighty-four page pamphlet, An Appeal to the American People: Being an Account of the Persecutions of the Church of Latter Day Saints; and of the Barbarities Inflicted on Them by the Inhabitants of the State of Missouri (Cincinnati: Glezan and Shepard, 1840). More of Rigdon’s work was reprinted in the eighth through tenth installments, published from July to September 1840. The series concluded with an eleventh installment in the October 1840 issue, featuring General John B. Clark

17 Apr. 1802–29 Oct. 1885. Lawyer, politician. Born at Madison Co., Kentucky. Moved to Howard Co., Missouri, 1818. Practiced law in Fayette, Howard Co., beginning 1824. Clerk of Howard Co. courts, 1824–1834. Appointed brigadier general in Missouri militia...

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’s callous speech to the Saints after their surrender at Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

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, Missouri, in November 1838.
A manuscript version of Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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’s Appeal to the American People, referred to as the “petition draft” titled “To the Publick” and endorsed by JS, Rigdon, and Elias Higbee

23 Oct. 1795–8 June 1843. Clerk, judge, surveyor. Born at Galloway, Gloucester Co., New Jersey. Son of Isaac Higbee and Sophia Somers. Moved to Clermont Co., Ohio, 1803. Married Sarah Elizabeth Ward, 10 Sept. 1818, in Tate Township, Clermont Co. Lived at ...

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, was read to a conference of Saints in Quincy

Located on high limestone bluffs east of Mississippi River, about forty-five miles south of Nauvoo. Settled 1821. Adams Co. seat, 1825. Incorporated as town, 1834. Received city charter, 1840. Population in 1835 about 800; in 1840 about 2,300; and in 1845...

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, Illinois, on 1 November 1839. The conference voted to approve its publication in the name of the church. Orson Hyde

8 Jan. 1805–28 Nov. 1878. Laborer, clerk, storekeeper, teacher, editor, businessman, lawyer, judge. Born at Oxford, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Nathan Hyde and Sally Thorpe. Moved to Derby, New Haven Co., 1812. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, ...

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and George W. Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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then collaborated to arrange for publication of the text in late 1839 and early 1840. Though no author is named on the title page, Rigdon was acknowledged as author when the pamphlet was advertised in the Times and Seasons in 1840 and 1841. JS and Elias Higbee had some expectation that funds from the sale of the publication would help defray costs of their trip to Washington DC

Created as district for seat of U.S. federal government by act of Congress, 1790, and named Washington DC, 1791. Named in honor of George Washington. Headquarters of executive, legislative, and judicial branches of U.S. government relocated to Washington ...

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in late 1839. In July 1840, a second edition was printed by Shepard & Stearns in Cincinnati

Area settled largely by emigrants from New England and New Jersey, by 1788. Village founded and surveyed adjacent to site of Fort Washington, 1789. First seat of legislature of Northwest Territory, 1790. Incorporated as city, 1819. Developed rapidly as shipping...

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to raise funds for Orson Hyde and John E. Page

25 Feb. 1799–14 Oct. 1867. Born at Trenton, Oneida Co., New York. Son of Ebenezer Page and Rachel Hill. Married first Betsey Thompson, 1831, in Huron Co., Ohio. Baptized into LDS church by Emer Harris, 18 Aug. 1833, at Brownhelm, Lorain Co., Ohio. Ordained...

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’s mission to Jerusalem

Capital city of ancient Judea. Holy city of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Population in 1835 about 11,000; in 1840 about 13,000; and in 1850 about 15,000. Described in 1836 as “greatly reduced from its ancient size and importance.” Occupied and governed ...

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. (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 103–104, 124.)
Although many of the events reported in Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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’s pamphlet can be corroborated from other sources, his chronology is often inaccurate. (Consult the annotation in Histories, Volume 2 for correction to portions published as part of “A History, of the Persecutions.”) However, his account contains the text of several significant documents. Among these are JS’s 5 September 1838 affidavit concerning the 7 August 1838 visit to Adam Black

11 Sept. 1801–14 July 1890. Farmer, sheriff, justice of the peace, judge. Born at Henderson Co., Kentucky. Son of William Black and Jane Wilson. Moved near Booneville, Copper Co., Missouri Territory, and then to Ray Co., Missouri Territory, 1819. Elected ...

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and those of Joseph

7 Apr. 1797–16 July 1881. Farmer, painter, glazier. Born at Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of John Young and Abigail (Nabby) Howe. Moved to Auburn, Cayuga Co., New York, before 1830. Joined Methodist church, before Apr. 1832. Baptized into LDS...

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and Jane Young

14 Aug. 1814–15 Jan. 1913. Born in Utica, Oneida Co., New York. Daughter of Calvin Field Bicknell and Chloe Seymour. Moved to Geneseo, Livingston Co., New York, 1817; to Livonia, Livingston Co., by 1830; and back to Geneseo, by 1834. Baptized into LDS church...

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and David Lewis

10 Apr. 1814–2 Sept. 1855. Cooper, farmer, photographer. Born in Warren Co. (later in Simpson Co.), Kentucky. Son of Neriah Lewis and Mary Morse. Married Duritha Trail, 23 Nov. 1834. Baptized into LDS church, 24 Mar. 1835. Ordained an elder, 1835. Moved to...

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regarding the Hawn’s Mill massacre. Consequently, though in many respects Rigdon’s document is more advocacy than history, it offers access to some material not readily found elsewhere.

Facts