Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter XXI
Joseph Smith.—His anxiety on the subject of religion.—Secret vocal prayer.—A brilliant light envelops him.—Two personages appear.—The Lord speaks to Joseph.—Instructs him.—He has another vision.—Is shown where records are deposited.—Obtains and translates them.—Testimonies of the Witnesses.—Baptisms.—Church organized.—Temple built.—Gifts manifested.—Saints leave Kirtland.—Scenes in Jackson County.—Extreme Suffering.—Expulsion.—Memorial to Congress.
AS an appropriate historical gem, rich with multum in parvo (much in a small compass), I copy into this autobiography, a tract entitled, "The Voice of Joseph," which my brother wrote and published for the benefit of his Southern Europe and East India Missions.
Joseph Smith, junior, whom it pleased the Lord to select and appoint to restore the primitive Gospel and apostolic Priesthood, was born in 1805, in Vermont, United States. When about fifteen years of age, being seriously impressed with the necessity of seeking the Lord and preparing for a future state, his mind became much perplexed through difficulties thrown in the path of his researches by the multitude of religious sects and parties with which he was surrounded.
Each system required belief, and gave hope; but none could communicate a knowledge of its divine authority. In comparing them one with another there seemed too much confusion; the same also appeared in looking at each separately. Turning, therefore, from these clashing systems, and being encouraged and inspired with the following passage in St. James, "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God," he retired to a grove a little distance from his father's house, and in fervent prayer besought the Lord to communicate with him, and reveal the way of salvation. While thus engaged, a light brilliant and glorious appeared in the heavens, gradually descending towards him till he was enveloped in it, and wrapped in celestial vision; when he beheld two glorious beings similar in dress and appearance, who informed him that the religious sects had all departed from the ancient doctrine of the Apostles, and that the Gospel, with its gifts and blessings, should be made known to him at a future period. Many important things were manifested in this vision, which the brevity of this work will not permit us to notice.
On the evening of the twenty-first of September, 1823, having retired to rest, his mind became filled with anxious desires to receive the information which he had been previously promised. While engaged in prayer, and striving to exercise faith, the room became filled with light far surpassing that of noonday, but in the midst thereof appeared an additional glory surrounding a person whose countenance was as lightning, yet so full of goodness, and innocence, and of such a glorious appearance as to banish all apprehension. He announced himself as an angel of God, commissioned to inform him that the covenant with ancient Israel touching their posterity should soon be accomplished—that the great work preparatory to the second coming of Messiah should speedily commence, and the plenitude of the Gospel be made known to all nations. He also informed him that the aborigines of America were a remnant of Israel, who, when they first inhabited that land, enjoyed the ministry of inspired men; that records of the most important events in their history had been preserved from their first settlement down to the period of their national degeneracy; that these records had been concealed in the earth by one of their last Prophets, and a promise of the Lord given that they should be revealed in the last days.
The day following the angel returned and instructed Mr. Smith to go to the place where those sacred registers were deposited. On reaching the spot he found a stone projecting a little above the surface of the ground, and covering a kind of box made of the same material. On removing this cover, he beheld the plates on which the records were engraved, but the angel of the Lord again appeared and said:
You cannot at this time obtain this record, for the commandment of
God is strict, and if ever these sacred things are obtained, they must be by
prayer and faithfulness in obeying the Lord. They are not deposited here
for the sake of accumulating gain and wealth for the glory of this world;
they were sealed by the prayer of faith, and because of the knowledge
which they contain; they are of no worth among the children of men only
for their knowledge. On them is contained the fulness of the Gospel of
Jesus Christ as it was given to His people on this land; and when it shall be
brought forth by the power of God, it shall be carried to the Gentiles, of
whom many will receive it, and after will the seed of Israel be brought into
the fold of their Redeemer by obeying it also. Those who kept the commandments
of the Lord on this land desired this at His hand, and through
the prayer of faith obtained the promise, that if their descendants should
transgress and fall away, a record should be kept, and in the last clays come
to their children. These things are sacred, and must be kept so, for the
promise of the Lord concerning them must be fulfilled. No man can
obtain them if his heart is impure, bscause they contain that which is
sacred. * * * By them will the Lord work a great and marvelous work; the wisdom of the wise shall become as nought, and
the understanding of the prudent shall be hid, and because the power of
God shall be displayed, those who profess to know the truth but walk in
deceit shall tremble with anger; but with signs and with wonders, with gifts and with healings, with the manifestations of the power of God, and with
the Holy Ghost, shall the hearts of the faithful be comforted. You have
now beheld the power of God manifested, and the power of Satan; you see
that there is nothing desirable in the works of darkness; that they cannot
bring happiness: that those who are overcome therewith are miserable;
while, on the other hand, the righteous are blessed with a place in the
kingdom of God, where joy unspeakable surrounds them. There they rest
beyond the power of the enemy of truth, where no evil can disturb them.
The glory of God crowns them, and they continually feast upon His goodness
and enjoy His smiles. Behold, notwithstanding you have seen this
great display of power by which you may ever be able to detect the evil
one, yet I give unto you another sign, and when it comes to pass, then
know the Lord is God, and that He will fulfil His purposes, and that the
knowledge which this record contains will go to every nation, and kindred,
and tongue, and people under the whole heaven. This is the sign: and
when these things begin to be known, that is, when it is known that the
Lord has shown you these things, the workers of iniquity will seek your
overthrow. They will circulate falsehoods to destroy your reputation, and
also will seek to take your life; but remember this, if you are faithful,
and shall hereafter continue to keep commandments of the Lord, you shall
be preserved to bring these things forth; for in due time He will give you a
commandment to come and take them. When they are interpreted, the
Lord will give the Holy Priesthood to some, and they shall begin to proclaim
this Gospel and baptize by water, and after that they shall have power to
give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of their hands. Then will persecution
rage more and more; for the iniquities of men shall be revealed, and
those who are not built upon the Rock will seek to overthrow the Church;
but it will increase the more opposed, and spread farther and farther,
increasing in knowledge until they shall all be sanctified, and receive an
inheritance where the glory of God will rest upon them; and when this
takes place, and all things are prepared, the ten tribes of Israel will be
revealed in the north country, whither they have been for a long season; and
when this is fulfilled will be brought to pass that saying of the Prophet,
"And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from
transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord." But notwithstanding the workers
of iniquity shall seek your destruction, the arm of the Lord will be extended,
and you will be borne off conqueror if you keep all His commandments.
Your name shall be known among the nations, for the work which the Lord
will perform by your hands shall cause the righteous to rejoice and the
wicked to rage; with the one it shall be had in honor, and with the other
in reproach; yet with these it shall be a terror, because of the great and marvelous work which shall follow the coming forth of this fulness of the
Gospel. Now, go thy way, remembering what the Lord hath done for thee,
and be diligent in keeping His commandments, and He will deliver thee
from temptations and all the arts and devices of the wicked one. Forget
not to pray, that thy mind may become strong, that when He shall manifest
unto thee thou mayest have power to escape the evil and obtain these
During the following four years he frequently received instruction from the mouth of this heavenly messenger, and on the 22d of September, 1827, the records were placed in his hands.
They were engraved in Egyptian characters on plates having the appearance of gold, and measuring about seven or eight inches in length and breadth; not quite so thick as ordinary tin. All were held together by three rings, and formed a volume of about six inches in thickness; one portion of which was sealed; the characters or letters on the unsealed part were very diminutive, but perfectly engraved.
By the gift and power of God, Mr. Smith translated them into the English language, but as he could not write well, he received the aid of a person who wrote down the translation which he gave by word of mouth. This important work is called the Book of Mormon, from the name of an ancient Prophet who by divine commandment had been engaged in its compilation. We there find an account of two distinct races who inhabited the American continent.
The first came from the Tower of Babel; but after fifteen
or sixteen centuries their iniquity became so great that they
were entirely destroyed, even as the Lord had threatened
them by the mouth of holy Prophets, the last of whom left
their history engraved on plates of gold. These were found
by the second race, who were a remnant of Joseph, led forth
in a miraculous manner from Jerusalem during the first year
of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. Their history is
brought down to the year four hundred and twenty of the Christian era, when by commandment of God, it was hid in
the earth till revealed as before stated. After the Book of
Mormon was translated, the Lord called witnesses, who have
left the following testimony to the world:
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for His voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shewn unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvelous in our eyes; nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God.
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shewn unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shewn unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen; and we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
Peter Whiter, Jun.,
Joseph Smith, Sen.,
Samuel H. Smith.
In the year 1829, Mr. Smith and Mr. Cowdery, having learned the proper mode of baptism from the instructions contained in the Book of Mormon, they desired to receive that ordinance; but knowing that no one among the different denominations had authority to administer, they sought for a revelation upon the subject, and an angel appeared unto them while they were in prayer, laid his hands upon their heads, and ordained them to the Priesthood, and commanded them to baptize one another.
In the year 1830, a large edition of the Book of Mormon was printed; and as some began to read its sacred pages, the Spirit of the Lord bore witness to its truth, and they obeyed its requirements; repenting in humility before the Lord, they were immersed in water for the remission of sins, and received the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
On the 6th of April, 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in the town of Fayette, Seneca County, State of New York. Several persons were called, and ordained by the spirit of revelation and prophecy, and began to preach and bear testimony; and although they were the feeble things of the earth, they became mighty by the Holy Spirit.
As they traveled forth, bearing their testimony, the attention of all classes was aroused. Many honest hearted persons came forward, were baptized, received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and knowledge of the truth of the principles. Others mocked, derided, slandered and raised the weapons of persecution. Not stopping a moment to examine whether the restoration of ancient Gospel privileges was or was not scriptural doctrine, they foolishly reasoned themselves into the conclusion that it was justifiable to use any means, however wrong and cruel, to hinder the progress of those principles. I am sorry to say, yet duty requires the statement, that, in many instances, ministers of religious denominations would indulge in the same reasoning, and by false reports, misrepresentations and slanders, stir up the evil minded to persecute the servants of God. It is to instances of this kind that we have often traced the original cause of many scenes of spoliation and murder, which we have experienced during the past twenty years of our pilgrimage.
In the year 1831, the Saints established a settlement in Lake County, State of Ohio. One thousand miles from this place, in Jackson County, State of Missouri, they also made another settlement about the same time. The history of the Saints who settled in Ohio will first be noticed, afterwards that of those at the last mentioned location.
In Lake County, having increased in numbers to several hundreds, and having no convenient place for public worship, a Temple was commenced for this purpose. Its dimensions, form and order were shown of the Lord in vision; and it was built according to the pattern shown. In accomplishing this work they experienced severe opposition from their enemies, who were determined no such building should be erected, and sought every means in their power to harass, perplex and annoy them; employing the most wicked and disgraceful measures to hinder their operations. At this infantile stage of the Church's progress, mobs had not become so emboldened in that part of the country as to appear and come against the Saints in daylight, but in the night time, in parties of fifty or sixty, clothed in disguise, they would steal in upon them for the purpose generally of destroying their property. Guards were obliged to be kept up by the Saints, to preserve themselves against these depredations. Notwithstanding their utmost vigilance, however, in many instances property was plundered and destroyed. Lawsuits would frequently be instituted, without the least cause whatever, except to weary, harass and torment an unoffending and innocent people. Notwithstanding these oppositions and perplexities, a magnificent Temple was completed and dedicated to the Lord in the presence of thousands. The day of blessings, and of rejoicings in the history of the Saints, had now arrived. While assembling themselves together, from time to time, in the House of the Lord, to fast and pray, speaking to each other of the goodness of God, offering up their spiritual and enlivening songs of gratitude and thanksgiving to Him who had again spoken from heaven, and spoken of good things near at hand for His people of all nations, they often experienced remarkable visitations of the goodness and power of God, showing His approval of their conduct and acceptance of His House. The aged fathers, leaning upon their staffs, would rise in the midst of their brethren, being filled with the Holy Ghost, and express their gratitude in flowing tears for the mercies of God towards them in giving them knowledge, before going down to the grave, of the restoration of the Priesthood and fulness of the Gospel; exhorting the young Elders to be virtuous, upright and holy; to go forth manfully, without fear, depending upon the God of heaven, bearing a faithful testimony of the knowledge given them; for, though deficient in worldly wisdom, the power of the Lord would be with them, and they should not be confounded. The youth, the middle aged, both men and women, clothed with the spirit of inspiration, would speak, as with the tongue of angels, of the marvelous blessings which they had experienced, and the knowledge God had imparted unto them, concerning this great work preparatory to the coming of the Son of God. One would exercise the gift of tongues, another that of interpretation, and some would have the gift of prophecy. One would speak of the blessings of faith, another would testify of knowledge, and some would have the spirit of exhortation. Thus were their gifts exercised, and all edified together, proving they lived in the time of the fulfilment of Joel's prophecy, which saith: "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also upon the servants, and upon the handmaids, in those days, will I pour out my Spirit" (ii: 28, 29.) Those indeed were happy days. The sick were healed by the laying on of hands and anointing with oil; and, in some instances the dumb spake; the deaf had their hearing restored; and the blind received their sight. Hard indeed must be that heart that envies the Saints the possession of such blessings, when it is known what was the expense of the purchase which they afterwards paid. Indeed, we little suspected the fiery trials that were in store, and scenes of devastation and bloodshed which followed.
As the testimony of these things was proclaimed from time to time, and the faith of the Saints became known among the people in the surrounding country, opposition and persecution increased. The wicked and more disorderly portion of the community became more bold in their attacks upon the Saints and their property. Not unfrequently they were secretly influenced and supported by those who professed piety and religion and to be ministers of Jesus Christ. At last, wearied of this endless scene of molestation and such insufferable vexations, they concluded, like Abraham of old, to contend no longer for their rights; but, leaving the fruits of their labor with their enemies, flee to some more peaceful clime. Accordingly, they commenced leaving the country, and in the course of one year nearly all had left, numbering about two thousand, having left at a sacrifice of at least two-thirds of all their property. They journeyed westward, some locating themselves in one place and some in another, according to their means and circumstances. The major part went into the State of Missouri, many of whom located in Caldwell County. This occurred in the year 1838.
The attention of the reader will now be directed to that branch of the Church which located in Jackson County. Here we shall be under the necessity of relating troubles of a more serious character. The land being only one dollar and a quarter per acre, the Saints, though generally poor, were enabled, many of them, to make very extensive purchases. By industry and perseverance large farms were soon opened, orchards planted, mills and public buildings erected, institutions for education formed, a printing press established, the foundation for a Temple laid, and beautiful private dwellings began to appear in all directions upon those broad and beautiful prairies. To the settler having but little capital, it is presumed no country was ever discovered possessing so many advantages as that which the Saints here occupied. It is described in the following language by one of the members of the colony: "Unlike the timbered States in the east, except upon the rivers and water courses, which were verdantly dotted with trees; from one to three miles wide, as far as the eye can glance, the beautiful rolling prairies lay spread around like a sea of meadows. The timber is a mixture of oak, hickory, box, elder, and bass wood, together with the addition of cotton wood, bullon wood, pecon, soft and hard maple, upon the bottoms. The shrubbery was beautiful, and consisted in part of plums, grapes, crab apples and persimmons. The prairies were decorated with a growth of flowers that seemed as gorgeous and grand as the brilliancy of stars in the heavens, and exceed description. The soil is rich and fertile, from three to ten feet deep, and generally composed of a rich black mould, intermingled with clay and sand. It produces in abundance wheat, corn and many other commodities, together with sweet potatoes and cotton." Here, then, was the place appointed of the Lord for His people to locate and build Him a house in which they might worship Him in purity and holiness, and His servants receive wisdom, knowledge and power, and be prepared to go forth among all nations, kindreds, people and languages, carrying the everlasting Gospel, in fulfilment of John's prophecy, that all people might understand the near approach of the coming of the Son of Man, and the wise virgins trim their lamps and be prepared. While they were peaceably and industriously pursuing this object, Satan began to stir up the people around to jealousy, envy and hatred. Mob meetings were held in different parts of the country; resolutions passed, and measures entered into to drive the Saints from their possessions. In the month of November, 1833, a ruthless and murderous mob, composed of many hundreds, armed with weapons of destruction, came suddenly upon the Saints, who were unprepared for defense, and drove men, women and children from their lovely habitations. Their deep distress, and the severity of their sufferings, it is no pleasing duty to relate. Women were shamefully abused in the presence of their husbands, daughters in the presence of their parents; defenceless men were shot down like wild beasts of the forest; some, while fleeing for their lives, were pursued, caught, tied to trees and whipped till their bowels gushed out and death ended their sufferings. Over two hundred of their houses were burned, the remainder were plundered, and their horses and cattle driven away. So suddenly were they compelled to flee, that only in a few instances sufficient apparel could be taken to preserve them from the cold, wintry blasts. The extreme sufferings of women and children may easily be imagined. In consequence of these severities, many perished by the way, before any kind hand of hospitality offered its relief. While the Saints lay upon the cold, bleak prairies, without a home and without a friend except the God of heaven, a very singular phenomenon appeared in the heavens, which created quite a panic among the mob, viz.: the meteoric shower, or shooting stars, which was seen in various parts of the world by many millions.
After this expulsion from Jackson County, they located in the upper portion of the same State, till the year 1838, when again they were assailed by a murderous mob, and having suffered the loss of many lives and nearly all their property, were compelled to leave the State. To give the reader more particular information respecting the persecutions of the Saints, and their expulsion from the State of Missouri, we present entire a memorial which was laid before the Congress of the United States:
AMERICAN EXILES' MEMORIAL TO CONGRESS.
To the Honorable Senators and Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled:
We, the undersigned, members of the City Council of the city of Nauvoo, citizens of Hancock County, Illinois, and exiles from the State of Missouri, being in council assembled, unanimously and respectfully, for ourselves, and in behalf of many thousands of other exiles, memorialize the honorable Senators and Representatives of our nation, upon the subject of the unparalleled persecutions and cruelties inflicted upon us, and upon our constituents, by the constituted authorities of the State of Missouri; and likewise upon the subject of the present unfortunate circumstances in which we are placed in the land of our exile. As a history of the Missouri outrages has been extensively published, both in this country and in Europe, it is deemed unnecessary to particularize all of the wrongs and grievances inflicted upon us, in this memorial, as there is an abundance of well attested documents to which your honorable body can at any time refer; hence we only embody the following important items for your consideration:
First. Your memorialists, as free born citizens of this great republic, relying with the utmost confidence upon the sacred "Articles of the Constitution," by which the several States are bound together, and considering ourselves entitled to all the privileges and immunities of free citizens in what State soever we desired to locate ourselves, commenced a settlement in Jackson County, on the western frontiers of the State of Missouri, in the summer of 1831. There we purchased lands from government; erected several hundred houses; made extensive improvements; and shortly the wild and lonely prairies and stately forests were converted into well cultivated and fruitful fields. There we expected to spend our days in the enjoyment of all the rights and liberties bequeathed to us by the sufferings and blood of our noble ancestors. But, alas! our expectations were vain. Two years had scarcely elapsed before we were unlawfully and unconstitutionally assailed by an organized mob, consisting of the highest officers in the county, both civil and military, who boldly and openly avowed their determination, in a written circular, to drive us from said county. As a specimen of their treasonable and cruel designs, your honorable body are referred to said circular, of which the following is but a short extract, namely: "We, the undersigned, citizens of Jackson County, believing that an important crisis is at hand as regards our civil society, in consequence of a pretended religious sect of people that have settled and are still settling "in our county, styling themselves Mormons; and intending, as we do, to rid our society, 'peaceably,' if we can—'forcibly,' if we must; and believing, as we do, that the arm of the civil law does not afford us a guarantee, or at least a sufficient one, against the evils which are now inflicted upon us, and seem to be increasing by the said religious sect, deem it expedient and of the highest importance, to form ourselves into a company for the better and easier accomplishment of our purpose." This document was closed in the following words: "We therefore agree, after timely warning, and 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 that end we each pledge to each other our bodily powers, our lives, fortunes, and sacred honors."
To this unconstitutional document were attached the names of nearly every officer in the county, together with the names of hundreds of others. It was by this band of murderers, that your memorialists, in the year 1833, were plundered of their property, and robbed of their peaceable homes. It was by them their fields were laid waste, their houses burned, and their men, women and children, to the number of about twelve hundred persons, banished as exiles from the county, while others were cruelly murdered by their hands.
Second. After our expulsion from Jackson County, we settled in Clay County, on the opposite side of the Missouri River, where we purchased lands both from the old settlers and from the Land Office; but soon we were again violently threatened by mobs, and obliged to leave our homes and seek out a new location.
Third. Our next settlement was in Caldwell County, where we chased the most of the lands in said county, besides a part of the lands in Daviess and Carroll counties. These counties were almost entirely in a wild and uncultivated state; but by the persevering industry of our citizens, large and extensive farms were opened in every direction, well stocked with numerous flocks and herds. We also commenced settlements in several other counties of the State, and once more confidently hoped to enjoy the hard earned fruits of our labor unmolested; but our hopes were soon blasted. The cruel and murderous spirit which first began to manifest itself in the constituted authorities and inhabitants of Jackson County, and afterwards in Clay and the surrounding counties, receiving no check either from the civil or military power of the State, had, in the meantime, taken courage, and boldly and fearlessly spread its contaminating and treasonable influence in every department of the government of said State. Lieutenant-Governor Boggs, a resident of Jackson County, who acted a conspicuous part in our expulsion from said county, instead of being tried for treason and rebellion against the Constitution, and suffering the just penalty of his crimes, was actually elected Governor, and placed in the executive chair. Thus the inhabitants of the State were greatly encouraged to renew with redoubled fury their unlawful attack upon our defenceless settlements. Men, women and children were driven in every direction before their merciless persecutors. Robbed of their possessions, their property, their provisions and their all; cast forth upon the bleak snowy prairies, houseless and unprotected, many sunk down and expired under their accumulated sufferings, while others, after enduring hunger and the severities of the season, suffering all but death, arrived in Caldwell County, to which place they were driven from all the surrounding counties only to witness a still more heart rending scene; in vain had we appealed to the constituted authorities of Missouri for protection and redress of our former grievances; in vain we now stretched out our hands and appealed as the citizens of this great republic to the sympathies—to the justice and magnanimity of those in power; in vain we implored, again and again, at the feet of Governor Boggs, our former persecutor, aid and protection against the ravages and murders now inflicted upon our defenceless and unoffending citizens. The cry of American citizens, already twice driven and deprived of liberty, could not penetrate their adamantine hearts. The Governor, instead of sending us aid, issued a proclamation for our EXTERMINATION and BANISHMENT; ordered out the forces of the State, placed them under the command of General Clarke, who, to execute these exterminating orders, marched several thousand troops into our settlements in Caldwell County, where, unrestrained by fear of law or justice, and urged on by the highest authority of the State, they laid waste our fields of corn, shot clown our cattle and hogs for sport, burned our dwellings, inhumanly butchered some eighteen or twenty defenceless citizens, dragged from their hiding places little children, and placing the muzzles of their guns to their heads, shot them, with the most horrid oaths and imprecations. An aged hero and patriot of the revolution, who served under General Washington, while in the act of pleading for quarters, was cruelly murdered and hewed in pieces with an old corn-cutter; and in addition to all these savage acts of barbarity, they forcibly dragged virtuous and inoffensive females from their dwellings, bound them upon benches used for public worship, where they, in great numbers, ravished them in a most brutal manner. Some fifty or sixty of the citizens were thrust into prisons and dungeons, where, bound in chains, they were fed on human flesh, while their families, and some fifteen thousand others, were, at the point of the bayonet, forcibly expelled from the State. In the meantime, to pay the expenses of these horrid outrages, they confiscated our property, and robbed us of all our possessions. Before our final expulsion, with a faint and lingering hope, we petitioned the State Legislature, then in session, unwilling to believe that American citizens could appeal in vain for a restoration of liberty, cruelly wrested from them by cruel tyrants. But in the language of our noble ancestors, "our repeated petitions were only answered by repeated injuries." The Legislature, instead of hearing the cries of fifteen thousand suffering, bleeding, unoffending citizens, sanctioned and sealed the unconstitutional acts of the Governor and his troops, by appropriating two hundred thousand dollars to defray the expenses of exterminating us from the State.
No friendly arm was stretched out to protect us. The last ray of hope for redress in that State was now entirely extinguished. We saw no other alternative but to bow down our necks and wear the cruel yoke of oppression, and quietly and submissively suffer ourselves to be banished as exiles from our possessions, our property, and our sacred homes; or otherwise see our wives and children coldly murdered and butchered by tyrants in power.
Fourth. Our next permanent settlement was in the land of our exile, thie State of Illinois, in the spring of 1839. But even here we are not secure from our relentless persecutor, the State of Missouri. Not satisfied in having drenched her soil in the blood of innocence, and expelling us from her borders, she pursues her unfortunate victims into banishment, seizing upon and kidnapping them in their defenceless moments, dragging them across the Mississippi River, upon their inhospitable shores, where they are tortured, whipped, immured in dungeons, and hung by the neck without any legal process whatever. We have memorialized the former executive of this State, Governor Carlin, upon these lawless outrages committed upon our citizens, but he rendered us no protection. Missouri, receiving no check in her murderous career, continues her depredations, again and again kidnapping our citizens, and robbing us of our property; while others, who fortunately survived the execution of her bloody edicts, are again and again demanded by the executive of that State, on pretence of some crime, said to have been committed by them during the exterminating expedition against our people. As an instance, General Joseph Smith, one of your memorialists, has been three times demanded, tried, and acquitted by the courts of this State, upon investigation under writs of habeas corpus, once by the United States court for the district of Illinois; again by the Circuit court of the State of Illinois; and lastly, by the Municipal court of the city of Nauvoo, when at the same time a nolle prosequi had been entered by the courts of Missouri, upon all the cases of that State against Joseph Smith and others. Thus the said Joseph Smith has been several times tried for the same alleged offence, put in jeopardy of life and limb, contrary to the fifth article of the amendments to the Constitution of these United States; and thus we have been continually harassed and robbed of our money to defray the expenses of those vexatious prosecutions. And what at the present time seems to be still more alarming, is the hostility manifested by some of the authorities and citizens of this State. Conventions have been called, inflammatory speeches made, and many unlawful and unconstitutional resolutions adopted, to deprive us of our rights, our liberties, and the peaceable enjoyment of our possessions. From the present hostile aspect, and from bitter experience in the State of Missouri, it is greatly feared that the barbarous scenes acted in that State will be re-acted in this. If Missouri goes unpunished, others will be greatly encouraged to follow her murderous examples. The afflictions of your memorialists have already been overwhelming, too much for humanity, too much for American citizens to endure without complaint. We have groaned under the iron hand of tyranny and oppression these many years. We have been robbed of our property to the amount of two millions of dollars. We have been hunted as the wild beasts of the forest. We have seen our aged fathers who fought in the Revolution, and our innocent children, alike slaughtered by our persecutors. We have seen the fair daughters of American citizens insulted and abused in the most inhuman manner, and finally, we have seen fifteen thousand souls, men, women, and children, driven by force of arms, during the severities of winter, from their sacred homes and firesides, to a land of strangers, penniless and unprotected. Under all these afflicting circumstances, we imploringly stretch forth our hands towards the highest councils of our nation, and humbly appeal to the
illustrious Senators and Representatives of a great and free people for redress and protection.
Hear! O hear the petitioning voice of many thousands of American citizens who now groan in exile on Columbia's free soil! Hear! O hear the weeping and bitter lamentations of widows and orphans, whose husbands and fathers have been cruelly martyred in the land where the proud eagle exultingly floats! Let it not be recorded in the archives of the nations, that Columbia's exiles sought protection and redress at your hands, but sought it in vain. It is in your power to save us, our wives, and our children, from a repetition of the bloodthirsty scenes of Missouri, and thus greatly relieve the fears of a persecuted and injured people, and your petitioners will ever pray.
The names of the petitioners are omitted for want of room.
The foregoing memorial was presented in the spring of 1844, making the third time those horrid scenes of murder had been laid before the Congress of the United States.