Daniel P. Kidder
Mormonism and the Mormons

(NYC: Lane & Sandford, 1842, 44)

I: ch. 1-7  |  II: pp. 101-214  |  III: pp. 215-338
  • Chapter 08  (pp. 101-115)
  • Chapter 09  (pp. 116-128)
  • Chapter 10  (pp. 129-154)
  • Chapter 11  (pp. 155-182)
  • Chapter 12  (pp. 183-214)

  • Contents   Transcriber's Comments


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    a divine revelation.' Rigdon is one who has ascended to the summit of Mormonism; and this vision stands as the foundation of his knowledge. He frequently affirms that these things are not a matter of faith with him, but of absolute knowledge."



    Zion established -- Enthusiasm for the gathering to Missouri -- Origin of difficulties -- Mob law -- Mutual provocations -- Expulsion of Mormons from Jackson county -- Revelations on the subject -- Army of Zion -- Essay at miracles -- Exhibitions of valour -- End of the campaign.

    DURING the visit to Missouri, which has been described in the preceding chapter, Smith again issued what he pretended was a revelation from the Almighty. A part of this document is here inserted, as an explanatory key to subsequent events.

    "Zion, August 3d, 1831.    

    Hearken, O ye elders of my church, and give ear to my word, and learn of me what I will concerning you; for verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall follow after much tribulation; for after much tribulation cometh the blessing. Wherefore, the day cometh that ye shall be rewarded with much glory -- the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand; remember


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    this, which I told you before, that you may lay it to heart, and receive that which shall follow.

    "Behold, verily I say unto you...

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    their intended operations, and leave the settlement of their difficulties with the people of Jackson county, in other hands -- advised them to be very careful what they did and said, as the citizens of not only Jackson, but some of the adjacent counties, were very much enraged and excited, and were fully determined to resist the first attempt upon them by an armed force from other states. A few hours after this the prophet brought out a revelation, for the use of his troops, which said, in substance, that 'they had been tried, even as Abraham was tried, and the offering was accepted by the Lord; and when Abraham received his reward, they would receive theirs.' Upon this the war was declared to be at an end. A call for volunteers, however was made, to take up their abode in Clay county, when about one hundred and fifty turned out. The next day they marched to Liberty, and each man received an honourable discharge, under the signature of General Wight. The army then scattered in different directions, some making their way back from whence they came, the best way they could, begging their expenses from the inhabitants. The prophet and his chief men, however, had plenty of money, and travelled as gentlemen do.



    Theological studies -- Book of Doctrines and Covenants -- The name of Latter-day Saints adopted -- Speculation in mummies -- Manuscript of Abraham -- Authorities of the church -- Description of the temple -- Closing scenes in Ohio.

    WE now return to consider the progress of things at Kirtland, in connection with which we


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    shall note several particulars respecting the organization and discipline of the Mormon church.

    "In the fall, and early part of the winter of 1835, the elders gathered in to Kirtland, to the number of three or four hundred, who remained there through the winter. Schools were instituted for the use of the elders and others. Some studied grammar and other branches: they also employed the Hebrew teacher, Mr. Seixas, who gave them much insight, in a short time, into that language. They had been previously commanded to seek learning, and studt the best books, and get a knowledge of countries, kingdoms, languages, &c., which inspired them with an extravagant thirst after knowledge."

    About this period a theological class was formed...  

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    Rigdon were fined one thousand dollars each. Their printing establishment, with a large quantity of books and paper, was taken and sold to pay the judgment. On the same night the whole was consumed with fire, set by the Mormons. This was followed by the flight of the prophet and his head men for Missouri, and a general breaking up of the establishment in this quarter. Not being willing to leave their temple in the hands of the 'infidels,' they made several attempts to fire it, and actually burnt down a small Methodist chapel standing but a few rods distant, expecting it would communicate to the temple. After leaving, the prophet sent a message to his followers, making known to them that it was the Lord's will that they should immediately depart for the west, to escape the plagues with which the place was to be visited."


    Progress of events in Missouri -- Inflammatory preaching -- Secret society - Hostilities -- War of extermination -- Cruelties inseparable from such an order -- Trial of the leaders -- Testimony before the court of inquiry -- Charged as ex parte.

    THE history of the Mormon difficulties and persecutions in Missouri has already been spread before the community in various forms. It will therefore only be expected of us to give a brief summary of the events which took place, in order to preserve their connection, and to


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    show their bearing. After all that we have read on this subject, we prefer the authority of Mr. Corill, and shall, to some extent, make use of his words.

    That gentleman was personally involved in most of the scenes described, and therefore must have known what actually took place. Writing, as he did, at once for his Mormon friends, and for the people of Missouri, he may be supposed to have stated the facts correctly, and free from the bias which has been given to some of the accounts on either side.

    For several years the Mormons had been rapidly settling in Clay county, where they had been received on their expulsion from Jackson. A portion of the people there also began to grow uneasy lest they should be overrun with the new sect. Without any sufficient provocation, these persons continued to stir up excitement, and the Mormons began to prepare for self-degence. At length the more rational part of the citizens saw that bloodshed would follow, unless something was done. They accordingly appointed a committee, who called upon the Mormons to meet them in conference. This was done, and the latter agreed to leave the county, the committee assisting them to procure a new place of residence. A place was found in the territory of Ray county, since organized into that of Caldwell; the people of the vicinity consenting to the arrangement.

    "The Mormons purchased great quantities of land in Caldwell, made improvements, and their


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    works plainly show that they were industrious, though they laboured under many disadvantages, on account of their poverty and former difficulties. Many of them were obliged to seek labour in the neighbouring counties for their bread. The people gave them employment, and many of them also borrowed money, to purchase lands with. Friendship began to be restored between them and their neighbours, the old prejudices were fast dying away, and they were doing well, until the summer of 1838.

    "Many of the Church had settled in Davies county, and to all appearance, lived as peaceably with their neighbours as people generally do; but not long after Smith and Rigden arrived in Far West, they went to Davies County and pitched upon a place to build a town. L. Wight was already on the ground with his family. They laid out a town and began to settle it pretty rapidly; Smith gave it the name of Adamondiaman, which he said was formerly given to a certain valley, where Adam, previous to his death, called his children together and blessed them. The interpretation in English is, 'The valley of God, in which Adam blessed his children.' Many of the Church became elated with the idea of settling in and round about the new town, especially those who had come from Kirtland, as it was designed more particularly for them. This stirred up the people of Davies in some degree; they saw that if this town was built up rapidly it would injure Gallatin, their county seat, and also that the Mormons would soon overrun Davies, and rule the county, and they did not like to live under the laws and administration of 'Jo Smith.' Lyman Wight also would frequently boast in his discourses of what they would do if the mob did not let them alone, -- they would fight, and they would die upon the ground, and they would not give up their rights, &c., when, as yet, there was no mob. But


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    this preaching inspired the Mormons with a fighting spirit, and some of the other citizens began to be stirred up to anger."

    Great difficulties had previously arisen among themselves, growing out of the various speculations into which the church had plunged; producing dissension, distrust, and recrimination. In order to pay the debts in New-York and elsewhere, many of the church in Kirtland turned out their farms, and stripped themselves of property, taking orders on the bishop in Far West, and in their poverty following Smith and Rigdon as soon as they could.

    Various attempts had been made to reconcile the mutual grievances and animosities, but without entire satisfaction. The dissenting and accused party at length withdrew.

    "Notwithstanding, the dissenters had left the church, yet the old strife kept up, and Smith and Rigdon, with others, complained much of the ill treatment they had received from the dissenters and others; they said they had been persecuted from time to time with vexatious lawsuits; that mobs had arisen up against them, time after time; that they had been harassed to death, as it were, for seven or eight years, and they were determined to bear it no longer, for they would rather die than suffer such things; and it was the will of God that the saints should fight their death rather than suffer such things; that if the church would be united, and exercise faith in God, he would protect them, though their enemies were ever so numerous. But in order to get protection and favour from God, they must become one, and be perfectly united in all things; cleanse themselves


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    from every kind of pollution, and keep the whole law of God; and, if they would do this, God would strengthen them against their enemies, his arm should be their arm, and the time was not far distant when, if they purified themselves properly, one should be able to choose his thousand, and to put their ten thousand to flight.

    "This kind of preaching was the chief topic of conversation all that summer, until many of the church became inspired with the belief that God would enable them to stand against any thing, even the state of Missouri, or the United States, if they should come in a mob.

    "Some time in June, 1838, a few individuals began to form a society that should be agreed in all things. In order to do this, they bound themselves under very close restrictions. As this society began to increase, they secretly entered into solemn covenants before God, and bound themselves under oath to keep the secrets of the society, and covenanted to stand by one another in difficulty, whether right or wrong, but said they would correct each other's wrongs among themselves. As the presidency stood next to God, or between God and the church, and was the oracle through which the word and will of God was communicated to the church, they esteemed it very essential to have their word, or the word of God through them, strictly adhered to. They, therefore, entered into a covenant, that the word of the presidency should be obeyed, and none should be suffered to raise his hand or voice against it; for, as they stood at the head of the church, it was considered no more than reasonable that they knew more of the will of God than any others did; consequently, all things must be in submission to them, and moreover, all tattling, lying, and backbiting must be put down, and he that would not submit willingly should be forced to it, or leave the county.


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    and not to the church, nor even the great majority of this secret society.

    "The church celebrated the fourth of July, by raising a liberty pole, on which they hoisted the American flag. They also formed a civil and military procession, and President Rigdon delivered an oration, containing the following and similar sentences:

    'We take God to witness, and the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more for ever. The man or the set of men who attempt it, do it at the expense of their lives; and that mob that comes on us to disturb us, there shall be between us and them a war of extermination, for we will follow them, till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us; for we will carry the war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed.'"

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    what position the truth holds between the extremes of the conflicting accounts above given, he will probably come to the conclusion that there was much of wrong on both sides,

    Never before was our country witness to such scenes; may she never behold their repetition.



    Escape to Illinois -- Sufferings -- Persecution defeats itself -- Injustice -- Sympathies of the community -- Isaac Galland -- Magnificent enterprise -- Place of gathering -- Missions to England -- J. C. Bennett -- Revenge -- New revelation, corresponding to Galland's advice -- Charters for a city -- University and legion.

    AFTER the occurrences related in the foregoing chapter, the Mormon people, numbering several thousand, made their way, as speedily as possible, out of a state in which they were convinced they could no longer enjoy the privileges of citizens. They had to pass through a community excited, and highly exasperated against them. They had been stripped of their property, and deprived of most of the conveniences of travelling. The season was the most inclement of the year, All these circumstances, and many others, combined to render the sufferings attending their removal intense in the extreme. Several women and children perished in their dreary flight, too feeble to sustain such cruel exposure.


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    To enter into a minute detail of teh events connected with the Mormon difficulties in Missouri, and their final expulsion from that state, would transcend our present limits. Our task will be accomplished when we shall have faithfully exposed the artifices made use of in these modern attempts to found a false religion. But we cannot excuse ourselves from rebuking, with equal fidelity, an infatuation less pitiable than Mormonism, which led its opponents to light up the fires of persecution, and to offer sacrifices in the temple of discord.

    We have no respect whatever for the pretended fears of the Missourians lest the Mormons "should rise up and destroy them." Even though the latter had wished and intended to obtain what they were taught to believe was their "eternal inheritance," by the shedding of blood, yet the idea that they could accomplish such a design was preposterous, and deserved no place in the mind of a sober man. This pretended alarm, however, was a capital pretext for the many who wished to turn the tables upon the poor Mormons, and to get to themselves, by dint of club law, or of mob law, the possession of lands paid for and cultivated by others. Most successfully was it thus used; and just so far as Missouri has refused to indemnify such robberies, and to punish their authors, she has favoured injustice, and legalized oppression. Suppose treason and murder could have been proved against a score of individuals, that was no reason why a community


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    should be injured, or why the innocent should be punished with the guilty. If violence be suffered to usurp the place of law in any country, with what propriety can that be called the asylum of either civil or religious liberty?

    Moreover, illegal opposition, in the nature of things, tends to promote the very interest against which it is directed. Before the Missouri war, the adherents of Smith were wasting their energies in internal contention, which resulting, as it did, in multiplying dissenters, would soon have destroyed the sect. Mr. Corrill remarks: "My opinion is, that if the Mormons had been let alone by the citizens, they would have divided and sub-divided, so as to have completely destroyed themselves and their power, as a people, in a short time." Composed, as their community was, of the heterogeneous materials drawn together, on the one hand, by views of interest, and on the other by fanaticism personified, their greatest desideratum was some rallying point around which all could gather, -- some excitement so great as to merge their disappointments, their returning sobriety, and their past mistakes, in a common oblivion; and, at the same time, furnish them a new bond of union in which all could be true yoke-fellows. Unhappily for them, and for mankind, this was furnished in their expulsion from Missouri.

    To the credit of the state and its citizens, the Mormons were kindly received in Illinois. Public meetings were held on their arrival at Quincy, to express sympathy for their sufferings


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    and to provide means for alleviating their distress.

    Public attention was now called to them as an injured people, and from this period dates the era of their greatest prosperity. The recital of their persecutions was found to excite sympathy from every quarter, and zealously was it employed as a means of securing influence and respect. A correspondence was kept up with Smith and the other head men who were retained in jail, until in the course of a few months they were able personally to co-operate with their followers. The following account of their treatment while thus retained, and the manner of their escape, is in the language of Mr. Rigdon: --

    "After we were cast into prison we heard nothing but threatenings, that if any judge or jury, or court of any kind, should clear any of us, that we should never get out of the state alive. This soon determined our course, and that was to escape out of their hands as soon as we could, and by any means we could. After we had been some length of time in prison, we demanded a habeas corpus of Judge Turnham, one of the county judges, which, with some considerable reluctance, was granted. Great threatenings were made at this time by the mob, that if any of us were liberated we should never get out of the county alive. After the investigation, one of our number was released from prison by the decision of the judge; the remainder were committed to jail. He also returned with them


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    until a favourable opportunity offered, which, through the friendship of the sheriff, Mr. Samuel Hadley, and the jailer, Mr. Samuel Tillery, he was let out of the jail secretly in the night; and being solemnly warned by them to be out of the state with as little delay as possible, he made his escape. Being pursued by a body of armed men, it was through the direction of a kind Providence that he escaped out of their hands and safely arrived in Quincy, Illinois. This was in February, A. D. 1839.

    "In the May following, the remainder that were in the Liberty jail were taken to Davies county to be tried by a grand jury of the principal mobbers, in order to see if a bill of indictment could be found as could be expected from the characters of the jury. Bills were found, and they obtained a change of venue to Boon county; accordingly, the sheriff of Davies county, with guards, started to take them from Davies to Boon county. On their way, after journeying a day or two, one evening the guard got drunk, they left them, and also made their escape to Quincy, Illinois."

    At the time of their greatest extremity the Mormons found a friend in Isaac Galland, a gentleman holding extensive landed interests in Illinois, and also a disputed title to an immense tract in Iowa, called the half-breed lands. To him the acquisition of one or two thousand industrious settlers upon his lands must at any time have been no small object. It was especially so in view of the complicated


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    litigation in which the half-breed tract was involved; that being likely to terminate in favour of the actual possessor.

    Some have supposed these facts sufficient to account for his course, without crediting so much to his magnanimity as others have done. At any rate, his proposals for disposing of the half-breed lands to the Mormons were accepted by and with the advice of Joseph Smith, before the latter escaped from confinement. Subsequently, Galland sold to the Mormons the site of the present town of Nauvoo, where he resided, together with large portions of adjoining territory. He granted them a long credit, and afterward accepted in payment their titles to land in Missouri. These arrangements were no doubt highly advantageous to both parties. It becomes interesting, however, to observe the objects and the spirit with which they were entered into by Dr. Galland.

    He had previously been noted as any thing rather than a religious man. Whether this new enterprise presented to him more attractions as a pecuniary speculation, a means of acquiring political influence, or as a grand infidel agency for the purpose of "revolutionizing the dogmas of powerful religious denominations," we will not attempt to decide. That each of these considerations had weight with him appears from the following letter, published in the Times and Seasons, by the person to whom it was addressed. J. Galland is indicated to be its author, not only by the number of stars


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    which represent his usual signature; but also by expressions in it which no one else could have used. The reader is requested to observe carefully the suggestions contained therein, so that he may apprehend the true origin of some of Smith's subsequent revelations.

    "Dear Sir, -- It was my intention to have addressed you before this, but a multiplicity of engagements have hitherto prevented, and I am only enabled now to spare a few moments for that purpose.

    "You are of course aware that an attempt to promulgate new doctrinal tenets in religion, is an enterprise of momentous magnitude, and it is an undertaking, which, in order to succeed, will require great reflection, a perfect knowledge of the human character, and determined perseverance. Tact, energy, and talents, are indispensable, and will accomplish much; yet they alone cannot prevail, without encouraging virtue, and discountenancing vice; -- general industry and moral conduct must exist in every community, or that community will totter and be dispersed. A systematic arrangement is also necessary in forming a plan for a new colony -- taste in laying out the streets and squares, and skill in the architecture of the buildings are important.

    "Now, as regards your tenets, so far as I have had an opportunity of examining them, there appears nothing objectionable, but much to approve; at any rate, some explanations made by you when I had the pleasure of seeing


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    you, aroused my faculties to an extent not often experienced by me, and I am constrained to say, that your views appeared novel, very curious, and extremely plausible: I am not able to discover, why they are not based upon a foundation of truth: and if it be truth itself, what a tremendous moral power can be exerted by the denomination of Latter-day Saints, particularly, if a large number possessing fine talents of good cultivation co-operate with each other, all acting in unison, applying and concentrating religion, intellect, and science, to the attainment of one grand object -- should this take place, as I think it assuredly will, how noble will be the results -- what an increase of numbers -- what an accession of political influence -- what accumulations of wealth; and above all, what a broad and glorious foundation will be laid for building the triumphant church of the Latter-day Saints. There is no estimating the deep, spreading, immense power, of such an engine as religion: it goes on rising, enlarging, and subduing, conquering and to conquer. Ambition itself can hardly grasp in imagination the almost omnipotent force of such an agent as religion. The Project of establishing a new religion, or rather extraordinary religious doctrines, being magnificent in its character, will of course require means adapted to the end, and preparations commensurate with the splendour of the plan. In the first place, you want a suitable rallying ground; perhaps Nauvoo is as good as any, -- it being a capital steam-boat


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    landing, it is in that respect preferable to any that I know. You then want a TEMPLE that for size, proportions, and style, shall attract, surprise, and dazzle all beholders -- it should be entirely unique, externally; and in the interior, peculiar, imposing, and grand. Then you want clergymen of the highest mental superiority -- men of education -- men of profound research, subtle, ready logical reasoners, with easy manners, and powerful voices -- then you should. have such a choir of singers as was never before organized. Thus arranged, you would see immediately, nearly every person, within a circle of fifty miles, attending your church, and doubtless many of them become converts. School-houses should be built directly, and school the children young, for 'as the twig is bent the tree's inclined.' Other sects are acquiring great strength by acting upon the young, through the medium of Sunday schools, and other juvenile institutions. Your missionary arrangements are good, and should be pushed vigorously. Let those of intelligence, prudence, and pure piety, be employed in this service. If funds for a COLLEGE could be collected, nothing could be more valuable to you, as through it you would soon have, and send forth to the world, clergymen skilled in science, and calculated to strike conviction into the high and wealthy classes of society.

    "You will say that I have been sketching schemes for mere worldly advantage, without contemplating the much more sublime spectacle,


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    of a multitude of redeemed souls, prepared through your doctrines for an entrance into paradise. I have already said, that as yet no sufficient time has presented itself, for me to analyze very fully your tenets, but this I can say in great sincerity, that should these doctrines promote the happiness of mankind here, and secure their salvation hereafter, no person could feel the enjoyment more intensely; and I probably feel some degree of pride and vanity, as I shall claim to have selected the spot where a concentration of moral power will exist, which shall revolutionize the dogmas of very powerful religious denominations, and teach them to know, that many discoveries are yet to be made in theological science. Your obedient servant,


    (Pages 165-182 are under construction)


                     MORMONISM  AND  THE  MORMONS.                      183


    Military organization -- General orders -- Astonishing parade -- Smith outdoes Matthias -- Progress of the sect in England -- Letter to the queen -- Literary eminence -- Moving orders -- Dissatisfaction among the emigrants -- Latest instructions -- Advantages of the Mormon policy.

    AN extensive military organization, although not expressly mentioned in Galland's letter, corresponds to his general policy, and has been vigorously taken in hand by the valorous Gen. Bennett. It was manifestly designed to answer several important objects.

    1. To serve as a check to the quarrelsome propensities of some of their neighbours. 2. To put themselves in a condition to resist, and revenge any future attack. 3. To make use of the pomp and circumstance of military parade, as a means of astonishing the natives, and of drawing in a class of adherents that could be secured in no other way.

    Nevertheless, the majority of the Mormons were peaceable people, and great efforts had to be put forth in order to secure their enlistment, especially when they were required in their poverty to provide an expensive uniform. Yet poor as they were, following the example of their elders and the summons of their prophet, most of them have now become soldiers. The martial style in which they display themselves from time to time has already been celebrated in the most extravagant strains of both prose and verse.


    184                      MORMONISM  AND  THE  MORMONS.                         

    We subjoin a few extracts from the general orders of this redoubtable legion...


    (Pages 185 through 214 are under construction)

    continue reading with:
    Chapter 13

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