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The Mormons unfortunately, from the standpoint of a good first impression on their neighbors, began work in Missouri through the Lamanite Mission. Efforts to present the Book of Mormon to the Indians and to convert them to Mormonism were vigorously made. True, other religious bodies had missionaries among the Indians, but these men and their religions were known and no one feared that Indian difficulties would arise through their efforts. But Mormonism was new and unknown. Frontiersmen were not unacquainted with the bad results which had sometimes followed the establishment of connections between enemy whites and neighboring red men. The French and Indian War, the Revolution, and the War of 1812 had furnished many examples. The intense interest of the Delewares in the Book of Mormon excited the enmity of other Christian missionaries and the suspicions of the Indian agent, who ordered the Mormons out of the Indian territory.
Another question that continued to assume, year by year, a deeper significance was slavery. It is true that a few years earlier, in 1820, Missouri had been admitted into the Cnion as a slave state and the Missouri Compromise had been adopted with the hope that it would settle the slave question. But, instead of settling it, this compromise merely perpetuated and strengthened antagonisms. According to this compromise the boundary between slave and free territory to the west of Missouri was to be the 36.°30' parallel or the southern boundary of that state, extended westward. It is evident that the center of the opposing slavery forces which were seeking for new strength, in added territory and in increased repre. sentation in the Federal Government at Washington,, was very close to western Missouri. Each side was already sending settlers to unoccupied territory in the effort to make it s'ave or free. Missouri itself had been the scene of a most spirited struggle. Is it any wonder that the old settlers, living in a slave state, looked with suspicion upon these northern non-slave-owning people ??
But let us get down to particulars. The document sometimes called the Secret Constitution and the Address to the Public, both
1 Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography, p. 56.
2 Alphonso Wetmore's account in his Gazetteer of the State of Missouri, 1837, pp. 92-99, while somewhat colored, gives several reasons for the expuision of the Mormons. He says: “The disgusting folly and outrageous villanies of the Mormons, who had swarmed into the County of Jackson, induced the old settlers to rise in arins and expell them. The measure, although a strong and a violent one, was fully justified and indispensible, in consequence of the inpertinent and mischievous interference of the Mormons with the slaves of the country. Their threatened association with the neighboring tribes of Indians was a serious subject of aiarm; and no longer considered doubtful in point of fact, when the Mormon population were found with arms pointed against their neighbors. The operation of fantastic zeal upon the human mind will account for the seeming improbability and the audacity of the outrages contemplated, and those actually perpetrated by this people. This tribe of Dcusts, that still threaten to scorch and wither the herbage of a goodiy portion of Missouri by the swarm of emigrants from their parental hives in Ohio and New York, must here be allowed the enviable distinction of having their follies and mad achievements recorded.
of which are printed in full in the notes at the close of chapter XIV, contain an account of the grievances of the Jackson citizens which may be summarized as follows:1 f
Down 1. They consider the Mormon pretentions to receiving direct
revelation, and inspiration, speaking in unknown tongues, healing the sick, etc., as open blasphemy,
"casting contempt on His (God's] holy religion.' 2. The Mormon emigration was held to be of increasingly
low character, not much above the slaves in educa
tion or property,--lazy, idle, vicious, and poor. 3. The Mormons are charged with tampering with slaves
and the Star to have invited "free people of color”
to settle in the county. 4. The Mormons are said to daily proclaim that the Gentiles
are to be "cut off” and that they (the Mormons) are to have their lands, many apparently having been taught that these lands “were to be won from us
by the sword.” 5. The Mormons, they affirm, send out many missionaries
who make large numbers of converts in New York, Ohio, and Illinois, among the ignorant, the superstitious, and the poor, and then send them to this
country. 6. Under these conditions, the civil government, it is held,
would soon be in the Mormon's hands and with the sheriff, the justices, and the county judges composed of men who believe in miracles, in revelation, and in divination and "fired with the prospect of obtaining inheritances without money and without price
our position would be itisup
EXAMINATION OF GRIEVANCES
The first of these charges, namely a belief in revelation, inspiration, the speaking in tongues, the healing of the sick, etc., the Mormons would plead guilty to in a full degree, though the speaking in unknown tongues is not particularly encouraged in the church.
This charge as a basis for the removal of the Mormons would hardly be worthy of passing comment except for the influence it actually had in increasing the spirit of opposition among the It pur.
1 For a discussion of most of the charges enumerated here from a Mormon standpoint see B. H. Roberts' Introduction to Joseph Smith's History of the Church, Period I. Also P. P. Pratt's Late Persecutions (New York, 1840,). pp. 26-29.
Jackson County citizens. Mormonism was then new. ported to be the restoration of a live church which had once existed among men but had gradually died out, leaving a “form of godliness but denying the power thereof.” Naturally intense religious opposition was aroused. The nineteenth century had prided itself on its tolerance of religious worship and in the main with good reasons, particularly when comparisons are made with earlier centuries. But religious prejudice was by no means dead at that time. It is still a tremendous force. Mormonism, because of its nature, its claims, its message, has called into being an amount of opposition which few churches have ever met. Naturally, the Jackson County citizens were imbued with it and in enumerating it as one of their grievances but gave expression to the general feeling among them. It may be remarked that it has always been difficult for average, common-sense men to believe in revelation and prophecy. No prophet ever had a very great following in his own day. As he became farther removed in time his followers increased in numbers. Nineteenth century frontier Americans could believe in ancient prophets but didn't care to have any too close around. Any present-day profession of that kind could not be anything but a fraud and an imposition. Hence the deluded Mormons.
That such beliefs would incapacitate those holding them for the dealing out of even-handed justice as sheriffs, justices of the peace and county judges, was, however, an assumption which later experience has not justified. The thousands of able and efficient officers of every description who have risen in Utah from among those holding these beliefs constitutes a sufficient answer to this accusation. In fact, it has been amply proved that a good Mormon is likely to be an efficient civil officer, just in the same way, that a good Presbyterian may be expected to be conscientious and upright in the performance of civil duties that may be placed in his care.
The second charge, that the Mormons were of increasingly low character, little above the slaves in education and property, lazy, idle and vicious, constitutes a serious indictment if true. With respect to education and property there can be little doubt that the characterization was in the main fairly accurate. The Mormons were poor, and the later immigrants more particularly so. This fact becomes evident enough as one reads the "Addresses of the Elders in Zion," published in the Evening and Morning Star. Probably for this reason their education, considered as a body, was not of a very high order, though there is evidence, at this early date, of that strong desire for learning which has become so pronounced a characteristic of the Mormon
1 Evening and Morning Star, July, 1832, and July, 1833.
people. That there was idleness in “Zion” and that it was of sufficient consequence to be a matter of complaint seems to be corroborated by Mormon evidence. Such, for instance, is found in the letter of Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith "to the Bishop, his Counsel, and the Inhabitants of Zion,” of January 14, 1833,» wherein this admonition is given: “Tell them that they have not come up to Zion to sit down in idleness.” It must be remembered, however, that the United Order arrangement of stewardships would have a tendency to make the many who were newly arriving feel somewhat at a loss to know just what to do until after a stewardship had been agreed upon with the bishop and definitely assigned. No doubt some delay would be necessary. In the meantime the newcomer would be idle. It is probable that a good deal of the idleness complained of was due to this situation. The weight of evidence, as found in the writings of Mormons, and nonMormons alike, directly contradicts a general state of idleness. On the contrary, unusual industry marked the life of the Jackson County Mormons viewed as a whole. J. H. Hunt, of strong antiMormon sentiments, says for instance. “the prophet concentrated his followers; erected houses as if by magic—improvements were prosecuted with vigor and with such rapidity as to promise a flourishing town and country in a very short time.” Many such statements may be found in non-Mormon writings.3
As for being vicious, no doubt some of the Mormons were. Every group of human beings finds some such among their numbers. The real question is, was the proportion who were of vicious, lawless bent, greater among the Mormons than among other average communities of the time? Mormon writers, while agreeing that these early Mormons were poor and of little education, not only emphatically deny the charge of laziness and viciousness, but affirm that they were unusually law-abiding and of a type which for nobility of character and willingness to make sacrifice for convictions have few equals in history.
There is much good evidence in favor of the Mormon writer's claims during the Jackson County period of Mormon history.* In the later period after the Mormons began to be driven out and thus robbed of their possessions, they no doubt retaliated and many instances of robbing, wherein innocent parties suffered, could be, and have been, related by both sides. It is with the period before this happened that we are concerned here. John Corrill, for instance, after his apostacy from the Mormon church and after appearing as a witness against the church leaders at some of their trials, says:
1 See first issue of Evening and Morning Star, June, 1832, Vol. 1, pp. 7, 8. 2 History of the Church, Period I, vol. 1, by Joseph Smith, pp. 317-21.
3 cf., Birdsail and Dean, History of Devies County, Mo., (Kansas City, 1882) P. 188; also Tucker's Origin and Progress of Mormonism (New York, 1867), pp. 152-53, and 160; also Ruth and R. W. Kauffman, The Latter Day Saints-A Study of the Mormons in the Light of Economic Conditions (London, 1912), pp. 40-41; also Gregg, The Prophet of Palın yra, p. 130.
4 Governor Lucas of Ohio in a letter to President Martin Van Buren, published in Joseph and Heman Smith Church History (Reorganized) vol 2, pp. 95-97, says: "I think it due to that people to say, that they had for a number of years a community established in Ohio, and that while in that state they were (as far as I ever heard) believed to be an industrious, inoffensive people; and I have no recollection of having ever heard of any of them being charged in that state as violators of the law.” See also Henry Caswell's The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century, p. 143.
During all these difficulties the Mormons were accused of many crimes. This, of course, was necessary for an excuse; but the people of Jackson well knew, that up to that time, the Mormons had not been guilty of crime, nor done anything whereby they could criminate them by law; and. in my opinion, the stories originated in hatred toward the Mormon religion and the fear entertained of their overruning and ruling the county.1 It is also a noteworthy fact that though the Mormons lived in Independence more than two years, and though the county seat was located there and all of the county officers were non-Mormon, the records show that not a single Mormon was indicted during this whole time for any crime whatsoever. Surely this is a remarkable record and is of itself a sufficient answer to this charge. Further, when one investigates the later history of the Mormon communities out West, where under conditions of peace, unmolested by outside interference, it was hardly necessary to have peace officers at all, and where industry became so characteristic a trait, one is forced to the conclusion that the Mormons, considered as a whole, are, and were, both an industrious and a lawabiding people.
The third charge, i.e., tampering with slaves and indirectly inviting free people of color into the state, if true, would have been a very sore trial to the Old Citizens. Here. again, however, the evidence appears to be against the charge. There were less than a dozen free negroes or mulattoes in the whole church at this timet and not very much work has ever been done among the negro race by the Mormon Elders. A careful perusal of the issues of the Evening and Morning Star reveals a very scrupulous desire to leave the slave issue alone. It is to be remembered that this paper was the only church publication in existence. Its subscribers were located in free territory as well as in Missouri. Notwithstanding this it is remarkably silent on slavery issues. The article on "Free People of Color," published in the July, 1833, issue of
i Corrill's op.cit., p. 20.
3 See Dyer D. Lum, Social Problems of Today or The Mormon Question in its Economic Aspects, pp. 9, 12.
4 Parley P. Pratt, in his History of the Persecutions of the Saints, p. 26, says: “In fact one dozen free negroes or mulattoes never beionged to our society in any part of the world, from its first organization to this day (1839)."