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Sidney Rigdon, JS, et al., Petition Draft (“To the Publick”), circa 1838–1839

Sidney Rigdon, JS, et al., Petition Draft (“To the Publick”), circa 1838–1839

the burning in Daviess County. About the time  of our arrival at Far West a report came into  the place stating that a Mob was about collecting  at Bunckum [Buncombe], for the purpose of burning Far West.  if they had sufficient strength, and if not, to  commence depredations <on> of the outskirts of the Mor mon sttlements, by driving them off and bur[n]ing  their houses; it was therefore; thought best to  send out a spy company to that vicinity to  watch the movements of the Mob, if there should  be any, and report to Far West: accordingly a com pany of ten men was raised, of which I had the charge,  we were instructed to range the southern line  of Caldwell County and watch the movements  of armed bodies of men, if any were there, and in  case they should commit any depradations upon  the citizens of Caldwell, we were to report to Far  West immediately; We were to act entirely on the  Defenceive, and not to injure any people in person  or property, except an attack should be made upon  us in our own county, or upon the families of  some of our people.
The Deponent further saith that he has been personally  acquainted with Joseph Smith jr., Hyrum Smith & Sidney Rigdon  for a munber of years, and their teachings respecting the laws  of the land, have uniformly been, to have them observed in  every particular
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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. 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). In May 1840, the sixth installment drew upon Sidney Rigdon’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 the Barbarities Inflicted on Them by the Inhabitants of the State of Missouri (Cincinnati: Glezan and Shepard, 1840), a draft of which is presented here. Though no author is named on the title page of the pamphlet, Rigdon was acknowledged as responsible for that publication when it was advertised in the Times and Seasons in 1840 and 1841. Also, much of this draft is in Rigdon’s hand. 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’s callous speech to the Saints after their surrender at Far West, Missouri, in November 1838.
The manuscript version of Rigdon’s Appeal to the American People presented here is referred to as the “petition draft” titled “To the Publick”. On 1 November 1839, Rigdon’s recently completed petition draft, endorsed by JS, Rigdon, and Elias Higbee, was read to a conference of Saints in Quincy, Illinois, who then voted to approve its publication in the name of the church. Orson Hyde and George W. Robinson then collaborated to arrange for publication of the text in late 1839 and early 1840. (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 103–104.)
Although many of the events reported in Rigdon’s draft and pamphlet can be corroborated from other sources, his chronology is often inaccurate. (Consult the annotation in Histories, Volume 2 for corrections 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 his 7 August 1838 visit to Adam Black and those of Joseph and Jane Young and David Lewis 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