1840s   |   1850s   |   1860s   |   1870s   |   1880s

Illustrated American (1890)   |   Illustrated American (1891)

The Illustrated American
(NYC: Illus. Am. Pub. Co.)

  • 1890: Dec. 27
      "Exterminating the Mormons"
  •   "Will the Mormons Fight?"

        Transcriber's Comments


    Current  Comment.

    EXTERMINATING THE MORMONS. -- In a series of articles, begun herewith, The Illustrated American will give the Mormon reply to President Harrison's message. His tone was pacifoc; theirs warlike. He proposes to legislate; they want to fight.

    Let nobody underestimate their fighting power. They have an invincible faith to inspire them. They have enormous wealth to equip them. They have an admirable strategic position to aid them in battle. They have the Rocky Mountains to cover their retreat.

    What can two hundred thousand men accomplish against the power of the United States?

    What could a handful of Boer farmers accomplish in the Transvall? Only a few thousand in all, they conquered the forces of Great Britain, and forced Mr. Gladstone into a humiliating peace.

    There is no time to temporize. The Mormons laugh at legislation. They dominate Utah as Tammany dominates New York. They defy the courts and the troops. Their polygamous marriages are conducted secretly where once they were conducted openly. But, as the President says, the doctrine of polygamy is still their cardinal doctrine, and they are ready to fight for it.

    Will the United States take up the gauntlet which they are flinging down?

    Certainly there is the strongest objection to fighting these misguided fanatics. Their lives are models of decorum. The patience whoch guided them through the pilgrimage from Nauvoo has cuirassed them against the obloquy which has assailed their lives.

    But they showed in the bloody Mountain Meadows Massacre what excesses they could commit under the impulse of fanaticism, and that is the impulse which drives them into the field for the defence of polygamy. To uphold that principle these simple farmers are prepared to butcher women and children; and as for facing troops, they are taught every Sunday in their meeting-houses that a collision is inevitable, and they have long been prepared for it.

    Observers in Utah say that the collision cannot be delayed. The hope that polygamy would die a natural death has proved to be vain. The ulcer must be cut out with the sword.




    From President Harrison's Message to Congress.

    The increasing numbers and influence of the non-Mormon population in Utah are observed with satisfaction. The recent letter of Wilford Woodruff, President of the Mormon Church, in which he advised his people "to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the laws of the land," has attracted wide attention, and it is hoped that its influence will be widely beneficial in restraining infractions of the laws of the United States. But the fact should not be overlooked that the doctrine or belief of the church that polygamous marriages are rightful and supported by divine revelation remains unchanged. President Woodruff does not renounce the doctrine, but refrains from teaching it, and advises against the practice of it because the law is against it. Now, it is quite true that the law should not attempt to deal with the faith or belief of any one; but it is quite another thing, and the only safe thing, so to deal with the Territory of Utah as that those who believe polygamy to be rightful shall not have the power to make it lawful.

    Judge C. C. Goodwin, Salt Lake City, an anti-Mormon authority, writes:

    Little as the masses believe it now, there will come a time, if this monster in Utah is left to grow, when there will be another call for volunteers and for money; and, as before, tens of thousands of brave young men will go away -- never to return; as before, there will be an enormous debt incurred; as before, the country will be hillocked with graves, and the whole land will be moistened with the rain of women's tears.

    Special Despatch from Salt Lake City to New York World:

    General Miles said the other day that he believed that the Mormons were at the bottom of all this religious craze that has created such turbulence among the Indians in the Northwest. While the people of the East may not have been able to trace any connection between the Latter Day Saints and the new Indian Messiah, those who are familiar with the dogmas and superstitions of the Mormon religion and understand their curious attitude toward the red men, believe that the general correctly divined the secret of the whole trouble.


    I am the oldest Mormon in the Rocky Mountains. I was born on November 11, 1805, just a month before the birth of Joseph Smith, our founder and prophet. For nearly sixty years I have practised the faith which Smith taught -- that faith which, cast out from its home as soon as it came into the world; driven in contumely from its refuge in Kirtland, O.; buffeted in Missouri and scourged in Illinois; baptized in the blood of the Nauvoo riots and compelled in the beginning of its virile strength to fly into the wilderness; has there developed to such proportions that, with whatever contempt you may regard its origin, with whatever loathing you may look upon its doctrines, you are compelled to confess that there is something, in the Mormon organization which demands for its adherents a degree of respect and consideration.

    I am going to make a complete statement of the progress of the Mormon cause from its inception at Seneca, N. Y., to the end of this year of grace 1890. Do not call it a confession. It is the narrative of an old man, nigh to death, who feels that the oaths of secrecy once imposed on him have long since ceased to bind.

    I have nothing "sensational" to tell. I leave perfervid rhetoric to the anti-Mormon lecturers and book-makers. I am writing a plain tale for plain people, not regarding


    whether the effect of my story is in my favor or against me.

    You ask me whether the Mormon Church is stronger than the United States. I will prove to you that it is. Just as the great British monarchy surrendered to the little Transvaal Republic, so the Government at Washington will inevitably yield to us.

    Let me give you a few modern instances.

    When Mrs. Ann Eliza Young brought suit against Brigham Young for divorce and alimony in 1875, Judge McKean ruled that the defendant, having admitted a marriage to Ann Eliza, must prove, not assert, that it was illegal. Brigham refused to obey. Judge McKean ordered him to prison for contempt of court.

    In an instant Salt Lake City was in an uproar. A procession of twenty carriages followed the one which carried the Prophet to the penitentiary. A little later in the afternoon two wagon-loads of arms and ammunition were brought out to Brigham's factory, about half a mile from the prison, and when darkness began to settle upon the valley seven hundred armed men -- some on horseback, some on foot -- surrounded the prison-walls and the warden's house, bent on rescuing the prophet.

    Rescued he would have been if, that evening, the message had not flashed across the wires: "Judge McKean is removed."

    Here was an illustration of our two methods. We work peaceably if we can; if we cannot, we are always willing to show our teeth.

    "Give yourselves no uneasiness," said Brigham to some of us, who were anxious lest a certain bill should pass Congress, "for I have drawn a goodly draught upon the Tithing Fund. When I put my hand into one pocket, I put Congress into the other."

    When the Poland law was introduced, in 1874, by Senator Poland of Vermont, our lobby in Washington succeeded in trimming it of almost every stringent and practical feature before it became a law.

    Then we had to cope with the Edmunds law, introduced by Senator Edmunds of Vermont, in 1882; and with the Edmunds-Tucker law of 1887, introduced by J. Randolph Tucker of Virginia.

    What has happened to both?

    There are twelve thousand actual polygamists in the Territory. From the passage of the Edmunds law till a year ago only twenty-four persons had been convicted of polygamy. The law had been practically a dead letter, even under the guns of Fort Douglas and the United States soldiers; and the only difference between our practices in the present and in the past is that to-day we celebrate our plural marriages in the secret chambers of temples and endowment-houses, where the light of the sun never enters, and no eyes but those of priests and neophytes are allowed to witness the ceremonies.

    As Elder Nicholson said at our conference in 1888: "It is to the glory of the Saints that they have now an opportunity to show their faith. We don't know but in this contest we may be overwhelmed; but we do know that we will not go back one step."

    There is the matter in brief. We are Mormons, and we will not go back one step.

    The United States Court of Utah proceeded in 1887 to enforce the Edmunds-Tucker law, providing that a receiver should be appointed to take possession of so much of the property of the Mormon Church as was held by us in violation of law.

    We only laughed. Vast amounts and many varieties of property were transferred from the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" to private parties during the three days before the law went into effect. The receiver and the courts received less than one million dollars -- a mere nothing in our enormous wealth; and even the sum which it received is to go into the Public School Fund of Utah Territory, where the schools are taught by Mormons, and are wholly surrounded by Mormon influences.

    You are beginning to understand what I mean when I say that the Mormon Church is stronger than the United States.

    When we were striving to secure Statehood in 1887-88, we adopted this programme:


    That there should be a cessation of speeches disloyal to the United States.

    That it should be published that all young Mormons were opposed to polygamy.

    That a territorial convention should adopt a constitution prohibiting polygamy.

    That an amendment to the Constitution of the United States should be proposed in Congress, prohibiting polygamy.

    This programme failed to deceive either Congress or the country. So we threw off the mask; we defied the law-courts; we gave up hopes of getting Utah admitted as a State into the Union; and we continued to practise our religion as in the days of Brigham Young.

    And what do we mean to do now?

    If we cannot purchase legislation in Congress, or buy up the judges in Utah, I frankly tell you that we mean to fight.

    I am, perhaps, too old to see the beginning of hostilities. And yet I am sure that hostilities are inevitable.

    "What chance have we?" You ask.

    What chance had the Boers against the English? We are one hundred thousand; you are sixty-five millions. You can scatter us like chaff before the wind. Yet, however we may scatter, We will come together again. We may be outlawed, proscribed, driven into the mountains, but the lamp of our faith will still burn inextinguishable.

    You cannot conquer the Mormons.


    To understand the spirit which animates us to-day you must have a thorough knowledge of our history. I was one of twelve thousand Mormons who, late in the autumn of 1838, arrived in most unhappy plight on the banks of the Mississippi River. Our houses had been burned, our fields laid waste, and we were destitute of every personal comfort.

    In that flight to Illinois, sleeping in a log-cabin by the wayside, twenty of our number were shot dead through the crevices; and after the massacre was over, a boy who had been concealed under a forge was dragged out from his hiding-place and shot, while his murderers danced around him.

    Such things we may forgive, but forget -- never.

    When to-day it is said that we would not be molested if we would give up polygamy, we reply that these early persecutions took place before we adopted that doctrine. The mobs which attacked us were made up in great part of the same low element that assails the Salvation Army. And when you hear how we were driven out from our homes, and forced to endure hardships untold, you will see why the romantic story of those days still fires the Mormon heart.

    I, who saw them; I, who was part of them; I, who recall them as though they were yesterday -- I, at eighty-five, can weep when I think of them.

    Others can understand how many a young man who, for its own sake, would care nothing for his Mormon creed, will be ready to fight for it desperately in his wrath at the persecutions heaped upon his fathers.

    You remember how Joseph Smith, our leader, became possessed of a large tract of land in Hancock County, Ill. The angel who revealed it to him bade him call the city Nauvoo, which, he said, meant "The Beautiful."

    It was located on the east bank of the Mississippi River, forty miles above Quincy, Ill., and twenty miles west of Burlington, Ia. The Saints from all quarters responded to the call to hasten to the new city, and it immediately grew in importance. It was changed from a desert into an abode of plenty and luxury. Gardens sprang up as if by magic, fragrant with the most beautiful flowers of the new and the old world, whose seeds had been brought from distant lands as souvenirs to the new Zion. Broad streets were


    laid out, houses erected, and the busy of industries was heard in the marts of commerce. Steam-boats unloaded stores, and passengers came and departed for fresh supplies of merchandise. Fields waved with golden harvests, and cattle dotted the neighboring hills.

    As might be expected, some adventurers, robbers, and people of generally disreputable character joined the community, to cloak their villainous deeds in mystery and religion. Speculators, too, came and bought property with the hope of large remuneration. These two classes became the cause of much strife in our ranks.

    There was no licensed place to sell liquors, and drunkenness was almost unknown. The city was well governed. All was order and peace. There were great thrift and industry among the people. The gilded angel which surmounted the temple called all to prayer with its gospel trump.

    If a stronger entered Nauvoo and was found to be lazy, we whittled him out of town. That is to say, we surrounded him, and in unison whittled our sticks at him. The daily continuance of this practice was always too much for human endurance.

    The people of Illinois believed that we wanted to rule their State. They issued warrants against Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. We hastily armed, but the Smiths preferred to avoid trouble by surrendering. They were lodged in jail at Carthage. I was arrested with them.

    On June 27, 1844, an infuriated mob decided to administer justice after their own fashion, and attacked the jail early in the morning. They broke down the doors of the rooms where we were confined.

    Joseph Smith attempted to leap the window. Two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without. He fell outward, exclaiming: "O Lord, my God!" He alighted on his left side, a dead man.

    At this instant a cry was raised, "He has leaped the window," and the mob on the stairs and in the entry ran out. I put my head out of the window and watched some seconds, to see if there were any signs of life in the man I loved. I expected to be shot the next moment, and went to the door awaiting the onset.

    But the mob, terrified at the result of its action, had retired.

    Now those two men were defenceless prisoners, and the governor of the State had pledged them safe conduct to the jail and before the court. Their murder was nothing else than a most foul assassination.

    And, besides being an act of lawlessness, it was surely the most impolitic thing that could have been done. The martyr-like death of Smith threw a mantle of dignity over his person and a halo of consecration around his character. Had he lived, who can say that the fierce rancor of faction might not have shivered Mormonism into pieces?

    Our people, with a self-control which I venture to think rare, sought no vengeance upon the murderers. Brigham Young, who was president of the Twelve Apostles, hurried to Nauvoo from his mission in Boston, and by his shrewd sense, firm will, and practical ability succeeded in gaining the leadership. He gave out the edict that the Mormons must leave Illinois.

    But Joseph Smith had predicted the completion of the temple, and Brigham Young bade us remain in Nauvoo until we could fulfil the revelation of the Prophet. Unheard-of exertions were made to carry out this commandment, and the temple was finished to its minutest ornamentation. When it was ready the Mormons flocked into the city from all quarters, and there was great rejoicing over the consecration of the "Pride of the Valley," as we called it. The interior was elaborately decorated with festoons and wreaths of flowers; chants were sung, prayers offered, and lamps and torches lighted to make it resplendent. When all this was done the walls were dismantled, the ornaments taken down, and the symbols of our faith removed, to leave the noble building to be trodden down and profaned by the Gentiles.

    The new exodus began in February, 1846, the bleakest and coldest month in the year in that section of the country. An indescribable pageant of ox-carts and mule-teams, loaded with women, children, and all sorts of furniture, passed out of Nauvoo to the miry tracks of the prairies; but the spirits of all, except the sick and helpless, were unbroken. Here Brigham Young showed himself a general as well as a spiritual leader. He directed every detail of the evacuation. Then, in spite of their promises, the Illinoisians called out the militia and drove the remaining residents from their homes at the bayonet's point. From morning till night our people passed westward like an endless procession. At the top of every hill, before they disappeared, they looked back, like banished Moors; on their abandoned homes and the far-seen Temple and its glittering spire. But I -- I could not resist the temptation of visiting once more the city of so many hopes. There was no one at the wharf. I could hear no one move. The quiet everywhere was such that I heard the flies buzz and the water-ripples break against the shallow on the beach. I walked through the solitary streets. The town lay as in a dream. I went about unchecked. I went into empty workshops, rope-walks, and smithies. The spinner's wheel was idle, the carpenter had gone from his work-bench and shavings, his unfinished sash and casing. Fresh bark was in the tanner's vat, and the fresh-chopped lightwood stood piled against the baker's even. The black-smith's shop was cold, but his coal-heap and ladling-pool and crooked water-hose were all there, as if he had just gone off for a holiday. On the outskirts of the town was the city graveyard; but there was no record of plague there. Beyond it, out in the fields, were the still smouldering remains of a barbecue fire. It was the latest sign of life.

    Sad at heart I came to our dismantled temple, and tears filled my eyes as I read this inscription on. the entablature of the front, like a baptismal mark on the forehead:


    Built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.




    Having thus fallen behind my companions, I had to make great efforts to catch them, and it was not till summer that I came to the hills of the High Prairie, above the Pottawatamie Agency, and the objects of my search came in sight.

    The landing, and the large flat or bottom on the east side of the river, were crowded with covered carts and wagons, and east of the Council Bluffs hills opposite was crowned with its own great camp, gay with bright white canvas, and alive with the busy stir of swarming occupants. In the clear blue morning air the smoke streamed up from more than a thousand early fires. Countless roads and by-paths checkered all manner of geometric figures on the hill-sides. Herdboys were dozing upon the slopes ; sheep and horses, cows and oxen were feeding around them in the luxuriant meadow of the then swollen river. -

    There was something joyous about this vast body of pilgrims.

    But the President, considering it desirable to march a body of infantry to California, considered that the hardihood and discipline of the Mormons fitted them peculiarly for this service. They were, accordingly, invited to furnish a battalion of volunteers.

    The call could hardly have been more inconveniently timed. The young men were away from the main body. The force had to be recruited from fathers of families.

    But the feeling of country triumphed. "You shall have a battalion if it has to be a class of our elders," said one, himself a ruling elder. An American flag was brought out from a storehouse of things rescued, and hoisted to the top of a tree-mast.

    There was no sentimental affectation at the leave-taking.

    The afternoon was appropriated to a farewell ball; and if anything proved that the Mormons had been bred to other lives, it was the appearance of the women as they assembled here.

    Before their flight they had sold their watches and trinkets as the most available resource for raising ready money. Hence, though their cars wore the loop-marks of rejected pendants, they were without ear-rings, finger-rings, chains, or brooches. Except such ornaments, they lacked nothing most becoming the attire of decorous maidens.

    The elders of the church, the gravest and most trouble-worn, seemed the most anxious to throw off the burden of heavy thoughts. They led off the dancing in a great double cotillion. To the canto of debonair violins, the cheer of horns, the jingle of sleigh-bells, and the jovial snoring of the tambourine, they danced. None of your minuets or other mortuary processions of gentles in tight shoes and pinching gloves, but French fours, Copenhagen jigs, Virginia reels, and the like forgotten figures, executed with the spirit of people too happy to be slow, or bashful, or constrained. Light hearts, lithe figures, and light feet had it their own way from an early hour till after the sun had dipped behind the sharp sky-line of the Omaha hills. Silence was then called, and a well-cultivated mezzo-soprano voice, belonging to a young lady with fair face and grave eyes, gave, with quartette accompaniment, a little song on the text that touches all earthly wanderers:

    "By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept. We wept when we remembered Zion."

    The happy day was over. The fathers of the family were gone. The desert march, the ford, the quicksand, the Indian battle, the bison-chase, the prairie-fire, were all ahead of us. The plague came upon us. The fever prevailed


    to such an extent that hardly any escaped it. The cows went unmilked; no psalms were sung on Sunday ; the few who were able to keep their feet went about among the tents and wagons with food and water, like nurses througli the wards of all infirmary; the dead were left unburied, and mothers sat beneath the trees whisking the flies off their children lying dead before their eyes. I will not recite the terrors of that pilgrimage. My purpose is rather to paint the character of the people, their pastoral life, their fortitude under privations, in order that you may judge whether they or their soils are likely to yield submissively to the mandates of the United States Government. When the word was given to halt and make preparations for the winter, a chief labor became the hay-making, and with dawn the brigades of herders would take up the march to their positions in chosen meadows, a prettier sight than a charge of cavalry. A camp could not be pitched without soon exhausting the freshness of the pasture around it, and it became an ever-recurring task to guide the cattle in unbroken droves to the nearest place where it was still fresh and fattening. About these there were sure to prowl parties of thieving Indians, and each drove therefore had its escort of mounted men and boys, who learned self-reliance and heroism while on night- guard alone among the silent hills. But generally the cattle were all driven from the camp together, and picketed together at evening in the great corral, where they could look on the red watch-fires with feelings of security when aroused by the Indian stampede or the howlings of the prairie-wolf at moonrise. Inside the camp the chief labors were assigned to the women, who learned to make butter on the march by the dashing of the wagon; and before the last smoke of the supper-fire came curling up, reddened in the glow of sunset, a hundred chimes of cattle-bells announced the approach of the men, and the women went out to meet them at the camp-gates, and with their children in their laps sat by them at the meal and talked over the events of the well-spent day.

    Where in the history of our country will you find a more daring act than this of Brigham Young's? Where will you find a more heroic one than this of the Mormon people? "It was a pilgrimage," says a hostile writer, "which has not been paralleled in the history of mankind since Moses led the Israelites from Egypt."

    People said we were a set of cut-throats and libertines, who should be banished from all civilized society. Were the cutthroats in our party at Nauvoo ? What would you say of the men who toiled for months through dangers of ambush and storm and flood on their western way? These hundreds of gray-haired women, too, in the passionless calm of old age; these many mothers with patient endurance bearing their part in the struggles of' this strange life, and caring tenderly for their babes; these young wives adhering- to the fortunes of their husbands; the maidens found in so many groups -- were these unreasoning bond-creatures, or depraved? Was all this endurance of trial the outcome of charlatanism, hypocrisy, and libertinism? If you would account for movement which led ten thousand people into the wilderness, casting themselves upon the future, you can only find the reason in a faith founded upon sincere conviction.


    In the spring of 1847 a pioneer party of one hundred and forty-three men proceeded to open the way; and the host, in parties of tens, fifties, and hundreds, followed. This was an admirable system, and baffled the thievish desire of the Sioux, Crows, and Shoshones.

    A captain was over each division, but the captains of hundreds had the supervision of the smaller hands. A strict discipline of guard and march was observed. But the drain of the battalion threw the burden of toil much upon our women. Females drove teams of several yoke of oxen a thousand miles. A man could take three teams by the help of a woman and lad, he driving the middle one, and stepping forward to assist over the creeks with the foremost, and coming at the camps to unyoke and "hitch up" for his feebler companions.

    Thus we wound along our weary way, at ten and fifteen miles a day; forded or bridged or ferried over the Loup, the Horn, and Platte rivers on the plains, and the swollen streams of the Bear and rushing Weber in the mountains. Our first glimpse of the great valley on the road was from the summit of the second mountain, sixteen miles distant. As each team rose upon the narrow table, we saw the white salt beach of the Great Lake glistening in the never-clouded sunbeam of summer, and the view down the open gorge of' the mountains, divided by a single conical peak, into the long toiled-for vale of repose, was a sight that none of us can forget. Ah, friends, few such ecstatic moments are vouchsafed to mortals in the pilgrimage of life, when the dreary past is all forgotten, and the soul revels in unalloyed enjoyment, anticipating the fruition of hope.

    A few moments were allotted to each little party to gaze, to admire, and to praise, and we began to descend a steep declivity, amid the shades of a dense poplar grove, and for twenty-four hours hoped to renew our pleasurable sensations on emerging from the frowning canyon into this valley of paradise.

    So our journey was ended, but this gave us no repose. In five days a field was consecrated, fenced, ploughed, and planted, and seeds were germinating in the moisture of irrigating streams and the genial warmth of the internal heat of the earth here brought to their notice by the thermal waters gushing from a thousand springs.

    Cramped in our means, and feeble as we were, nothing of interest on that long journey was left unobserved or unrecorded. Parties were directed to scour the vicinity of the road and report on springs, timber, grass, and other objects of interest. An ingenious and accurate road measurer was attached to a wagon, and every feasible camping ground was marked down.

    Thus observant and industrious, we pressed on, and emerged into the valley of the Great Salt Lake.

    The corner-stone of the temple at Salt Lake City was laid in February, 1853. There were about two thousand people in attendance, and the ceremonies were in the highest style of Mormon grandeur. Two brass bands participated in the exercises. Governor Young made the leading address on the occasion, the substance of which may be briefly stated.

    He solid that the Saints were about to make their third attempt to build a temple to the Lord; that they had been twice


    frustrated in their duty by the powers of the devil, acting through the instrumentality of unrepentant Gentiles, or, at least, that they had been only for a short season permitted to enjoy the one they had built at Nauvoo; that they were commanded to persevere, and that God had promised them his favor and protection when all their transgressions should be forgiven. He declared that the very ground where lie stood had been revealed to him for seven years past as the spot where the temple should stand, and he intimated that its building might cost a million of dollars. He asked his followers to pay their tithes with cheerful promptitude, promising "God's blessing to them that do his will."

    This oration was followed by a prayer by Elder Kimball, and by music from the hand and vocalists. The Governor and the Twelve Apostles each threw up a few shovelfuls of earth, and a benediction ended the ceremony.

    By the assumption of prerogatives not assented to by the Federal authorities of the Territory, our Governor soon became involved in political controversies threatening the general peace. Among other abuses that were alleged against him, he was charged with misapplying the public moneys entrusted to his hands. The local legislative power, by the Mormon preponderance of the popular vote, was under his dictation and control.

    Twenty thousand dollars was appropriated by Congress and confided to him for expenditure in the erection of public buildings, more than one-half of which sum he was charged with putting directly in his own pocket, while he attempted to saddle upon the Government second-hand buildings worth less than the other half, but estimated by him at the price of the entire appropriations Various other derelictions were alleged against him, and I am not careful, at this late day, to discuss them; questions of jurisdiction arose; the difficulties multiplied from time to time; and the controversy between the Governor and his associate Territorial officers became warlike in its character. Colonel Steptoe [sic - Johnston?] arrived at the Mormon capital with a force of men, ready to enforce obedience to law.

    Young at once issued a proclamation of martial law. "Citizens of Utah," he said, " we are invaded by a hostile force, who are evidently assailing us to accomplish our overthrow and destruction. For the last twenty-five years we have trusted officials of the Government, from constables and justices to judges, governors, and presidents, only to be scorned, held in derision, insulted, and betrayed. Our Houses have been plundered and then burned, our fields laid waste, our principal men butchered while under the pledged faith of the Government for their safety; and our families driven from their homes to find that shelter in the barren wilderness, and that protection among hostile savages, which were denied them in the boasted abodes of Christianity and civilization.

    "Our opponents have availed themselves of prejudices existing against us, because of our religious faith, to send out a formidable host to accomplish our destruction. We have no privilege or opportunity of defending ourselves from the false, foul, and unjust aspersions against us, before the nation.

    "We are condemned unheard, and forced to an issue with an armed, mercenary mob, which has been sent against us at the instigation of anonymous letter-writers, ashamed to father the base, slanderous falsehoods which they have given to the public; of corrupt officials, who have brought false accusations against us, to screen themselves in their own infamy, and of hireling priests and howling editors, who prostitute the truth for filthy lucre's sake.

    "Therefore, I, Brigham Young, Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of Utah, in the name of the people of the United States in the Territory of Utah, forbid --

    "First: All armed forces, of whatever description, from coming into this Territory, under any pretence whatever.

    "Secord: That all the forces in said Territory hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice to repel any and all such invasion.

    Third -- Martial law is hereby declared to exist in this Territory, and from after the publication of this proclamation ; and no person shall be allowed to pass or repass, into, or through, or from this Territory, without a permit from the proper officer."

    This proclamation met the United States forces on the Plains, despatched from Fort Bridges by Daniel H. Wells, commanding the Nauvoo Legion, accompanied by his announcement of his purpose to carry out its instructions.

    The able-bodied Mormons had promptly responded to our prophet's call to arms, and an army of ample numbers was found confronting the Federal troops. He addressed them in a Sunday morning sermon, breathing the vengeance of war in earnest.

    "This people are free," he said. "They are not in bondage to any Government on God's footstool. We have transgressed no law, and we have no occasion to do so, neither do we intend to ; but as for any enemies coming to destroy this people, God Almighty being my helper, they cannot come here. We have borne enough of their oppression and hellish abuse, and we will not bear any more of it, for there is no just law requiring further forbearance on our part. And I am not going to have troops here to protect the priests and hellish rabble in efforts to drive us from the land we possess; for the Lord does not want us to be driven, and has said: 'If you will assert your rights, and keep my commandments, you shall never again be brought into bondage by your enemies.'

    "They say that their army is legal; and I say that such a statement is false, and that they are as rotten as an old pumpkin that has been frozen several times, and then


    melted in a harvest sun. Come on with your thousands of illegally ordered troops, and I will promise you, in the name of Israel's God, that you shall melt away as the snow before a July sun."

    In the afternoon our leader spoke these words:

    "Before we left Nauvoo, not less than two United States Senators came to receive a pledge from us that we should leave the United States; and then, while we were doing our best to leave their borders, these poor, low, degraded beings sent a requisition for five hundred men to go and fight their battles.

    "Liars have reported that this people have committed treason, and upon their lies the President has ordered out troops to aid in officering this Territory, and if those officers are like many who have previously been sent here -- and we have reason to believe that they are, or they would not come where they know they are not wanted -- they are poor, miserable blacklegs, broken-down political hacks, men that are not fit for civilized society, so they must dragoon them upon us for officers. I feel that I won't bear such cursed treatment, and that is enough to say for we are just as free as the mountain air.

    "Now, the faint-hearted can go in peace; but should that time come, they must not interfere. Before I will suffer what I have in times gone by, there shall not be one building, nor one foot of lumber, nor a stick, nor a tree, nor a particle of grass or hay, that will burn, left in reach of our enemies. I am sworn, if driven to extremity, to utterly lay waste, in the name of Israel's God."

    And what Brigham Young, preached, we have consistently practised. We have never yielded an inch of our territory or a particle of our creed to our enemies; and the United States must undertake the bitterest contest in its history before it call hope to subdue the spirit which animates us.


    I have now come to the other side of the Mormon nature. You have hitherto seen us patient, submissive, long-suffering; you shall now see us in the character which is popularly attributed to "religious fanatics." Much hysterical nonsense has been written about our savagery and ferocity. 1 will here set down the plain truth.

    The doctrine of "Blood Atonement" was a portion of our creed from the beginning.

    This was the doctrine that certain sins cannot be forgiven here oil earth. Shedding innocent blood, divulging the secrets of the Endowment House, marital unfaithfulness on the part of the wife, leaving the Mormon Church -- these are unpardonable. The only atonement that can be made for any of these offences is the atonement of blood.

    The doctrine did not spring from native cruelty; it became as much a part of our duty as plural marriages. It is a part of our duty still; and if the United States troops attacked us, or if there were a Gentile uprising in Salt Lake City, we should take such reprisals as would make the whole world thrill with horror.

    You know that I am not talking lightly. We have done these deeds before, and we shall do them again. I have no doubt that the Cawnpore of the Sepoys will some day find its counterpart in Utah Territory.

    To realize our theory of Blood Atonement, you must study in detail such events as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. That deed was committed by some of the best, the most pious, and the most tender-hearted members of our church. Brigham Young sanctioned it, and Brigham could not kill a fly without compunction. The necessity of exacting a blood atonement steeled our community then, as it will again.

    Let us go over the facts.

    Parley P. Pratt was one of our bright and shining lights. He was one of the "Twelve Apostles," and his influence was powerful and widespread. Like a good Mormon, he practised the doctrine he preached and one of his wives, Eleanor McLean, was the wife of an Arkansas man. Deserting her husband and children, she eloped to Utah with Apostle Pratt, and pining for her children, she induced him to return to Arkansas to obtain them. Pratt was killed on the way back to Utah. The emigrant-train in which he travelled contained several persons who came from McLean's neighborhood. At least one of these men was believed to have been interested in the killing of Pratt.

    Moreover, it was at this time that Albert Sidney Johnson's army was entering Utah, and that Mormons were marshaling to oppose him with force and arms. The United States was considered as an enemy, and its subjects were treated as foes. Practically, the Territory was under martial law, and the Nauvoo Legion drilled regularly each week. They were the richest and most powerful company that ever travelled the Southern route to California. Their wagons, teams, and loose stock alone amounted to over three hundred thousand dollars, and they had the costliest apparel and jewelry.

    Hence the Mormons were in excellent condition to attack an emigrant train. It was necessary, however, first to find some sort of an excuse. So the Arkansas emigrants, in whose ranks Pratt had been killed, were charged with having their hands crimsoned with the blood of Joseph Smith as well as that of Parley P. Pratt; they were said to be quarrelsome, abusive, profane, chicken-thieves; they threatened war and poisoned springs and they grossly insulted leading Mormons, and harbored apostates.

    I give all the reasons I ever heard assigned, because, apart from the doctrine of Blood Atonement and when the provocation is all summed up, there is not sufficient cause to justify the dashing out of a single babe's brains. Moreover, abundant proof could have been furnished to show that the company were orderly, highly respectable, and composed principally of quiet, Sabbath-loving Christian people. They held religious services each Sunday, and reverenced the teachings of the Gospel. Eli B. Kelsey travelled with them from Fort Bridger to Salt Lake City, and he spoke of them in the highest terms. Jacob Hamblin, an honest old Indian interpreter, who had four wives, twenty children, and eighteen grandchildren, said to me of this train: "They seemed like real old-fashioned farmers." A resident of Parowan told me he had visited them often, and became well acquainted with them, and he had never seen a company of better people. But they had to suffer for being in the company which killed Pratt.

    Entering Salt Lake, the found, to their great surprise,


    that nothing could be procured of the Mormons for love or money. Their cash, their cattle, all their wealth, could not purchase provisions enough to keep them from starving. Trains were always accustomed to obtain a fresh outfit at Salt Lake before crossing the deserts intervening between Utah and California. Brigham Young was Governor of Utah, one of the Territories of the United States, and it was his function to permit citizens of the Union to purchase necessary provisions while passing peaceably through his confines. But this party was under the Mormon ban, and they would have died of starvation had they not been massacred, though there was an unusually abundant harvest that year.

    As a climax to this reception they were peremptorily ordered to break camp and move away from Salt Lake City. The southern route to California was the only one that could be travelled at that season, as the Sierras would be covered with impassable snow barriers. Slowly they passed down through the villages that blossomed at the Wasatch range, expecting to reach Los Angeles by the San Bernardino route. The corn had ripened, and the wheat had been harvested. Every granary was filled to bursting, and yet money could not purchase food. At American Fork, Battle Creek, Provo, Springville, Spanish Fork, Payson, Nephi, Fillmore, they received the same harsh refusal to their requests for trading or buying. They were ordered away from at least two places where they were halting to rest and refresh their cattle.

    All emigrants who have travelled through Utah to California remember how friendly and hospitable the Mormons usually were to passing trains. The unusual policy pursued toward these people led them to the inevitable conclusion that some very importanr order had been issued from headquarters. And, surely enough, the avenger had preceded them in the person of George A. Smith, Brigham's first counsellor, and the second man in the theocracy. Riding swiftly, his fleet horse far outstripped the slow-moving emigrant train.

    At every settlement he preached to the Mormons, carrying the news of Pratt's murder, and gave strict orders to sell no food or grain to emigrants under pain of excommunication. To the sincere Mormon, death is preferable to being "cut off " from the privileges of his religion.

    At Corn Creek George A. Smith met the emigrants and camped side by side with them. Only a little stream intervened between the train and the camp-fire of the man who carried the fatal instructions. The emigrants even solicited advice from Smith as to where they could find a suitable spot to encamp and recruit their teams previous to crossing the desert. He referred them to Cane Spring, the place where they were attacked. The Indians at Corn Creek furnished them with thirty bushels of corn. Before this no aid or kindness had been received from any quarter, save when some Mormon, braver than his fellows, would clandestinely steal into camp at dead of night bearing whatever he could in his arms.

    From the sworn affidavits of those who participated in the slaughter it is conclusively established that Brig.-Gen. George A. Smith, Col. William H. Dame, Lieut.-Col. I. C. Haight, and Maj. John D. Lee held a council of war at Parowan. They determined upon the place, the manner, and all the minor details of the massacre. Where the California road crosses the Santa Clara Canyon the crime was to be perpetrated.

    Shut in between the perpendicular walls of rock, the very wagons were to be piled up as a blockade to prevent the escape of a single soul. To make doubly sure, however, Ira Hatch was sent, with others, to cut off stragglers. Guards were also placed at Buckhorn Springs, nearly seventy miles this side of Mountain Meadows, and at all the springs and watering paces near Cedar City and Parowan. These guards would be certain to discover and shoot down any fugitives who might have escaped. A mound some two hundred feet long by one hundred wide rose from the Meadows about thirty rods above the spring and completely shut out the view. The emigrants had enclosed themselves in at corral. Low hills with deep ravines came down on either side and completely hemmed in the party.

    The attack began. Bullets from every side of the death-pen swept the enclosure and whistled through the wagon-covers. Such cattle as were inside the corral were shot down, and the herds outside were stampeded.

    Yet for seven or eight days the emigrants held out, and seemed to be masters of the situation. Water was their great need. A little babbling brook murmured along not forty feet away, and the fine, clear spring was not more than two rods off, but yet they suffered indescribably from thirst.

    The Mormons were painted and disguised to appear like the Indians. Not content with the superior advantages which nature had given to their position, they threw up breastworks of stone on the adjacent hillsides.

    From behind these their rifles could sweep the little grassy plain below without a portion of their bodies being exposed. Every attempt to obtain water, either day or night, awakened a score of deadly reports from the arms of the concealed foe.

    The emigrants supposed at first that none but the men were in danger. But a woman, who stepped outside the corral to milk a cow, fell pierced with bullets. Two little girls were sent down to the spring. Hand in hand, tremblingly, they walked toward the spring. Their little bodies were immediately riddled with bullets.

    The old breastworks still remain in places, and no one can visit the spot without being surprised that the emigrants held out so long. Behind the mounds, and just beyond the low foot-hills and the mound, are level flats concealed from the emigrants. Here the Mormons and Indians were pitching horseshoes, and amusing themselves in various ways. They understood that hunger and thirst were their powerful allies inside that corral. Wagon-loads of provisions were arriving from Cedar for the besiegers, and each day lessened the scanty stock of the emigrants.

    Finally the emigrants were decoyed by the Nauvoo Legion from the corral, and, at a given signal, the Mormons halted, and down the line passed the fatal order, "Fire!" It was given by John D. Lee, and was repeated by the under officers. The emigrants gave an agonizing shriek, and fell bleeding to the earth. Venerable gray-haired clergymen, sturdy farmers, stalwart young men, and beardless youths -- all were cut down, one by one, and above their dead bodies waved the stars and stripes.

    The women were not all killed just yet. Many fell by their husbands, fathers, brothers. But others were not permitted to die so soon. It was by deliberate forethought that, in leaving the corral, the women had been separated from their husbands' side. It was all part of the Blood Atonement.

    Three or four sick women were unable to walk out of the corral. They were driven to the scene of the massacre, shot, stripped of their clothing, and their bodies thrown from the wagon with the others.

    The orders were to kill all except those who were too young to remember. Two of our elders, both in good standing, named respectively "Bill" Stewart and Joel White, were "set apart" to kill the rest.

    The little boys and girls were too frightened, too horror-stricken, to do anything, but fall at the feet of the Mormons and beg for mercy. Many a sweet little girl knelt before Bill Stewart, clasping his knees with her tiny white arms, and, with tears and tender pleadings, besought him not to take her life. Catching them by the hair, he threw them to the ground, placed his foot on their little bodies, and cut their throats.

    A man who saw the field eight days after the massacre told me that men, women, and children were strewn here and there over the ground, or were thrown into piles. Some were stabbed, others shot, and others had their throats cut. The ghastly wounds showed very plainly, for there was not a single rag of clothing left on man, woman, or child, except that a torn stocking clung to the ankle of one of the emigrants. The wolves and ravens had lacerated all the hundred and twenty-seven bodies, and each bore the marks of wolves' teeth, except one. It was the body of a handsome, well-formed lady, with beautiful face, and long, flowing hair. A single bullet had killed her.

    Most of the bodies had been thrown into three piles, distant from each other about two and a half rods. Old and young, matron and maid, white-haired men and tiny suckling babes, boys and girls, all were heaped indiscriminately together. One young woman lay in the sage-brush in a hollow or sag, one hundred and seventy yards southwest from the main body. She was badly mutilated by the wild beasts,


    but it was plainly to be seen that her head had been half cut off. There were no scalp-marks. Indians would certainly have taken scalps, or burned bodies, if savage revenge had been the only thought. The closest examination was made, and not the slightest traces of the scalping knife could be discerned.

    Two months afterward, a Mormon gathered up the bones and placed them in the very hollow the emigrants had dug inside the corral. He acted upon his own responsibility, and went alone and unaided. He did the very best he could, but the covering of earth which he placed over the bodies was necessarily light. The wild beasts soon dug up the bones, and they became scattered all over the ground.

    I need hardly add that this kind-hearted Mormon was first excommunicated by the church, and afterward assassinated.

    It may seem incredible to you that such in affair as this massacre should have been committed in the United States, and still more incredible that it should leave been eighteen years before any one was brought to trial for it. Yet it was not till 1875 that John D. Lee was tried for directing the massacre. Even then it needed two trials to get him convicted.

    He was taken to Mountain Meadows, the scene of his crime. Sentinels were posted on the surrounding hills to prevent a surprise. The wagons were placed in a line near the monument of stones erected over the bodies of the victims. The firing party was concealed behind an army blanket. The coffin of rough pine boards was next unloaded, and Lee sat on it for awhile. Then, rising,, he made a speech concluding thus:

    "Let them shoot the balls through my heart. Don't let them mangle my body."

    "Ready. Aim. Fire!" came the orders to the guards. The five men selected as executioners promptly obeyed. They took deliberate aim at the blindfolded man sitting upright on his coffin, and as the word "fire" rang out clear and strong on the morning air, a sharp report was heard and Lee fell back on his coffin, dead and motionless. There was not a cry, or moan, or tremor of the body.

    Before dying, Lee furnished an exact list of those Mormons who had participated in the massacre. Some of them are alive to-day. They nod to me familiarly on the streets of Salt Lake City, and I nod back to them.

    The United States Government knows who they are, knows what they have done; and yet it has never dared to arrest them or interfere with them.

    Frankly, have I not reason to say that the Mormon Church is stronger than the United States?


    You have now seen us in two lights. You have seen us suffer like martyrs; you leave seen us avenge ourselves like fiends. And can you believe, as some of the newspapers tell you, that "the power of Mormonism is broken?"

    Broken? Let us look at the facts.

    The organization of the Mormon Church remains intact. We are in all things substantially the unit that we have always been. Our enormous income from tithing and our world-wide missionary operations move forward as in the days of Brigham Young. We have yielded none of our claims to supersede all other churches. We advocate polygamy as strongly as ever, though we practise it less openly. We own all the tillable lands in Utah, and the water necessary to their irrigation; and we will not sell to Gentiles.

    Do those facts look as though h we were "in full retreat?"

    The Gentile forces in Utah increase by very slow degrees. At the last election for members of the legislative assembly, out of the thirty-six members only eight Gentiles were chosen. In Salt Lake City and Ogden the Gentiles have a majority. But what of that? The strength of Mormonism is in the rural districts.

    Believe me, we are not in retreat. The church and people stand to-day where they stood when the first colony was planted in Salt Lake Valley.

    If we were forced to fight the United States, we could rely on a strength of twenty-five thousand males, an admirable strategic position, and the help of twenty thousand picked warriors from the surrounding Indian tribes. I do not say that we entertain the idea of fighting; but I have related something of our history to show that we should not be afraid to defend our religion. People are affected by suffering in different ways. The worm does not turn till it is trodden on. The grizzly bear turns if you sneeze at it. And I am only quoting history when I say that thirty thousand determined men, well armed, with their base of military supplies at their backs, could defend a position of great strategical strength for -- well, a considerable time, against an army only ten times as numerous as themselves; especially if that army had to defend a thousand miles of communications against an unlimited number of Indians.

    Rather than abandon polygamy we would tear down our houses, go away to the Mexicans, and, if necessary, die. The better the Mormon, the harder he freezes to his religion, and part of his religion is polygamy, so important a part that the whole future of the Saints is based on it. The "Kingdom of God" is arranged with reference to it, our hopes of glory and happiness in eternity depend on it; and in this life our men and women are perpetually exhorted to live up to it. It is pure nonsense, therefore, to ask us to give up plurality and keep the rest. There is nothing else to keep.

    No; we must fight or we must perish. There is no alternative. Here, in Utah, and nowhere else, we are to await the fulness of time. The Rocky Mountains, and no other, are the mountains of Holy Writ, where Zion was to be built; and we, the Mormons, are the remnant of Ephraim that are to welcome the returning Jews. How could we consent to another exodus? How could we leave the one still harbor that we have found? We could not. We must fight.

    And our capital -- is it not worth fighting for?

    Its disregard of that "fine appearance" which makes your Eastern towns so commonplace its extravagance in streets condoned by simple shade-trees; its sluices gurgling along by the sidewalks; its astonishing quiet; the simple, neighborly life of the citizens -- do not all these combine to invest Salt Lake City with the mystery which is in itself a charm?

    And it is a charm of the imagination as well as of the senses, for the capital of Utah is not one of nature's favorites. She has hemmed it in with majestic mountains, but they are barren and severe. She has spread the levels of a great lake, but its waters are bitter, Marah. There is none of the tender grace of English landscape, none of the fierce splendor of the tropics; and yet, in spite of nature, the valley is already beautiful, and, in the years to come, may be another Palmyra. As yet it is the day of small things. Many of the houses are still of adobe, and they overlook the trees planted to shade them. Wild flowers still grow along the track of the cars, and wild birds perch to whistle on the telephone wires.

    But the future of the city is assured, for its prosperity is based on agricultural wealth, and it is inhabited by a people whose religion is work.

    To you it seems some Alamut or "Vulture's Nest " of an Assassin sect. To us it is the City of the Honey-bee, Deseret; the City of the Sunflower; an encampment as of pastoral tribes; the rural seat of a modern patriarchal democracy; the place of the tabernacle of all ancient, prophet-ruled theocracy; a land fresh, as it were, from the hand of God; a Goshen of tranquillity in the midst of a troublous Egypt; the Benares of a sternly pious people; the templed city of an exacting deity; the home of the "Lion of Judah;" the rallying point of the Lost Tribes; the capital of a Territory in which the people refuse to make haste to grow rich, to dig out the gold and silver which they know abounds in their mountains; a Territory in which the towns are thick with trees, and the air is sweet with the fragrance of fruit and flowers and the voices of birds and bees, as if the land was still their birthright; in which meadows with herds of cattle and horses are gradually overspreading the sage-brush of the desert; and do you think that the Mormons would surrender this land of promise without a fight?

    Gentiles, I tell it in all earnestness: the Mormons will fight for their homes is the Jews fought for Jerusalem. They will fight for their filter as Mohammed's followers fought for Islam. They will no more yield their doctrine of plural wives than a Roman Catholic would yield his belief in the Sacrament.

    The sword of Laban is lying quietly in its sheath. Woe, say I, "woe to the man or to the government which draws it!"

    The Illustrated American
    (NYC: Bible House)

  • 1891: Jan. 3
      "Mormonism of Today"
  • 1891: Jan. 10
      "The Fighting Apostles"
  • 1891: Jan. 17
      "Is Polygamy a Success?"
  • 1891: Feb. 7
      Woodruff's Letter (reprint)


    The Extent of the Evil.

    (under construction)


    The Fighting Apostles.

    (under construction)





    Our articles on Mormonism have attracted far more attention than we anticipated. There is not a city, and hardly a country town, in the United States from which we have not received communications on the subject. And, strange to say, the tone of these communications is very different from what might generally be expected.

    Are the women of this country in favor of polygamy? We may unhesitatingly assert that the majority are not. Delicate women sicken at the thought. Mrs. Stenhouse's book on Mormonism expresses what most of her sex wish to believe about the subject -- that the male Mormons are vulgar sensualists, and that the female Mormons are their unfortunate victims.

    The minority dissents. There are women who regard the immaculate lives lived by the Mormon peasants, and contrast them with the immoralities that beset their own homes. We cannot pretend to sympathize with this view of the case. We merely regard it as helping to complete the evidence. Here is food for our legislators to digest.

    The columns of The Illustrated American will be open to all who care to write on the subject. Do not shrink from speaking frankly. The only value of a symposium such as this comes from its entire candor.

    Let us read a batch of letters -- six selected from hundreds...

    (under construction)


    (under construction)


    Transcriber's Comments

    The Illustrated American was edited at Maurice M. Minton's
    "Bible House," in Flatbush, N.Y.

    The 1890-1891 Illustrated American Articles

    The Illustrated American's series of anti-Mormon articles began in the issue for Dec. 27, 1890 (Vol. 5, no 45), which featured the controversial article, "Will The Mormons Fight?" and the editorial remarks entitled, "Exterminating the Mormons." The next issue (Jan. 3, 1891) contained the follow-up piece, "Mormonism of Today -- The Extent of the Evil." This was followed (Jan. 10, 1891) by "The Mormon Question" and "The Fighting Apostles." Subsequent issues of the New York illustrated magazine contained various articles, correspondence and editorial comments on the Mormons. The issue for Jan. 17, 1891 featured the article "Ghost-dances in the West," which tied the contemporary Indian movement with the Mormons. The Illustrated American of Feb. 7, 1891 featured a series of "Is Polygamy a Success" letters, as well as a rebuttal letter from LDS President Wilford Woodruff, under the heading, "President Woodruff Replies." This Woodruff letter is particularly significant in one respect -- it provides rare 19th century pronouncements regarding the Mountain Meadows massacre, communicated by a "living prophet" of the LDS Church.

    Other articles in this 1890s series included "Mormonism in a Fury," "The Mormons and the Union," etc.

    See a reprint published in the Salt Lake Tribune of Jan. 25, 1891 for the Illustrated American's version of a confrontation between its staff and two protesting LDS elders.

    Plagiarism and "Blood Atonement"

    In the Illustrated American's Dec. 27, 1890 article, "Will the Mormons Fight?", the section on "Blood Atonement" (pg. 142) seemingly plagiarizes a popular 1886 source, beginning with the sentence, "Parley P. Pratt was one of our bright and shining lights..." The anonymous account, from that point onward, closely follows the wording of Rev. Charles P. Lyford's book, The Mormon Problem, (from page 275 forward).

    However, since Lyford quoted extensively from Charles Fayette McGlashan's "Mountain Meadows Massacre" article, published in the Chicago Tribune of Jan. 6, 1875, it is equally possible that the Illustrated American writer borrowed directly from the Tribune. In support of this conclusion, the magazine's editor subsequently advised: "Here we refer our readers to a graphic account of the Mountain Meadows massacre published many years ago by the Chicago Tribune, the correctness of its facts has never been disputed."

    The Illustrated American writer added his own odd inserts here and there in the massacre narrative. For example, in relating "that the women were separated from their husbands' sides" just prior to the massacre, the 1890 plagiarist appends the explanation, "It was all part of the Blood Atonement," an opinion missing entirely from the earlier accounts of McGlashan and Lyford. Indeed, the Illustrated American superimposes upon these earlier narrations, the odd conclusion that the Mountain Meadows massacre was purely an act of LDS "blood atonement." This revisionist rendering of the story is highly improbable, since LDS "blood atonement" was theoretically reserved for Mormon apostates and murderers. No reliable historical account of the massacre places any substantial number of apostates among the emigrants' ranks. A more likely scenerio would have been a massacre supposedly justified by vengeance and the carrying out of Mormon blood oaths (which were something different from blood atonement).

    view the Illustrated American's depiction of the 1857 massacre

    Back to top of this page

    History Vault   |   Bookshelf   |   Spalding Library   |   Mormon Classics   |   Newspapers

    last updated: Jan. 12, 2008