Vol. VIII. No. 13
Springfield, Illinois, January 19, 1839.
The attention of the people of the United States has been long directed to the Legislature of Missouri, with
the expectation that the Representatives of the People of that State, would make a fair and full investigation
of the cause of what is called the "Mormon disturbance," and submit the results of their investigations to the
public. Such a course was due to all parties concerned. This matter was taken up in the Senate of Missouri on
the 3d inst. Three resolutions had been submitted by committee of the Senate; to whom that subject had been
referred. The first declared that it was inexpedient, at this time, to prosecute the investigation into the
causes of the Mormon disturbances, and the conduct of the military in suppressing them. The second that none
of the documents or evidence accompanying the Governor's message ought to be published without the sanction of
the Legislature. The third, that a committee should be appointed to consist of members of both branches, to be
vested with power to investigate the whole matter, and report to the Governor.
Mr. Noland moved to strike out, in the first resolution, the words 'it is expedient forthwith,' Mr. Noland then
desired that the testimony of Mr. Alvord, taken before the Court of Enquiry [in] Ray, should be read. This was
objected to by Mr. Turner. He said the evidence of Dr. Alvord was altogether ex parte. The evidence as it stood
purported to be evidence taken in a certain case wherein the State was plantiff, and Joe Smith and some seventy
others were defendants. It had been said that this evidence should be read with closed doors. He saw no necessity
for this course. There was nothing in it that was not in the mouth of every man in the country. The object of an
investigation should be to show the guilt on both sides -- the citizens as well as the Mormons.
Mr. Gilham said -- If you send a committee to the scene of disturbance will you get witnesses? Most of the Mormons
had already left for Ohio and Michigan, and as soon as the winter would break up the remainder would go. If the
Senate would read this restimony, it would place the guilt of the Mormons beyond doubt.
Mr. McDaniel objected to the reading of the testimony. The reporters, although they were required by resolution
not to do so, would publish it in spite of the Senate. He was for sending a committee to the scene of the
difficulties, and let them make a thorough investigation of the whole matter. What will the world say if you take
this testimony as the ground of your decision? Will they not say you have gone on and determined the guilt of
these men, whilst you kept them cooped up in a jail, loaded with irons, unable to procure witnesses or defend
themselves, -- while those opposed to them have been suffered to go at large? The people of the disturbed counties
had nothing to fear. Let the committee point out those individuals who had been guilty, and let them only be
marked. Read this document, and what coloring will your presses give it? Sir, they will make the members of this
chamber monsters in human shape.
"The question was then taken on reading the testimony, and decided in the affirmative, yeas 18 -- nays 11. The
evidence of Dr. Alvord, a dissenting Mormon, was then read. -- This Doctor once stood high in the society, but
after he was taken prisoner, he turned State's evidence.
Mr. Ashby said he has submitted this subject to a committee, and he had expected an investigation and a report,
but it f[a]iled, and he now thought there ought to be some expression by the Legislature, such as was proposed.
He proposed to say before the public, not only the testimony on the trial of Joe Smith, but the testimony on all
trials. He would be willing to add the judgment of the court, and all copies of orders and reports of military
movements. If the Senate was willing to go on with the investigations immediately, and send for the witnesses he
would withdraw his motion; and if gentlemen objected to submitting it to the Executive, he would agree to submit
it to the Judiciary. He was willing that the power might be given to Judge King, of that Circuit, who in his
official capacity, stood high. All he wanted was to see the documents published. He wished to put something forth
from the public prints in behalf of the citizens. From one end of the country to the other, the country had been
published much in favor of the Mormons; nothing had been said in justification of the citizens, and many had been
shedding tears over the fate of the poor Mormons. These tears were crocodile tears. -- The Mormons could live with
no people in peace. They had been driven from Kirtland, in Ohio, from Jackson county; and the people of Clay,
rather than have any difficulty with them, had hired them to leave that county, and if any gentleman wished to
invite them to his county, he would pay part of the expense of removing them.
Mr. Scott said he was unable to understand the course of some gentlemen in this matter. -- They seemed to be for
an investigation, and they wished to have the whole matter examined, and yet they urge that it should all be
investigated by publishing the testimony taken against a few individuals who were cooped up in a jail. Is it fair,
or is it justice? Is this an investigation as the public have a right to expect? The gentleman says he is willing
to trust Judge King in this matter. Sir, Judge King is the most unfit man I know of, for this purpose, and I only
wish the Legislature had the power to reach him and remove him from the station he disgraces. Sir, is a Judge who
will preside at a public meeting, to stigmatize a portion of the community over whose trials for high crime he has
to preside and act as Judge, a fit person for such a trust? The gentleman says, that crocodile tears have been
shed over these poor Mormons. Sir, I would to God there was no occasion for shedding tears in these transactions;
but, sir, when we see the women, the widows and orphans shedding tears over the mingled bodies of their dead
husbands and fathers, there is occasion for tears, and they are not crocodile tears.
The first resolution was then adopted -- 27 to 3 -- the second without opposition; -- when the third was under
consideration, a motion was made to refer it to the committee on the whole, which was negatived, and the Senate
The present condition of the Mormons is set forth in the following article from the "Backwoodsman;" --
"The difficulties of this unfortunate sect are not yet at an end. Hundreds of them, driven from their homes, are
without shelter and wandering in the woods. The Legislature in Misouri has granted $2000 for their relief.
"It has been long known that the authors of this war upon the Mormons, bad as their sect was, were actuated only
by selfish motives. The following
letter from the Editor of the
Mo. Republican now at Jefferson City will explain their object:
"We have many reports here in relation to the conduct of some of the citizens of Daviess and other Counties, at
the recent land sale at Lexington: -- It is reported, said to be on the authority of a gentleman direct from
Lexington, that on the recent land sales, the lands in Caldwell and Daviess were brought into market, and that
some of the citizens who have been the most active in the excitement against the Mormons purchased a number of
Mormon tracts of land. Where the Mormons had made settlements and improvements, it is said, those citizens have
purchased then for speculation. It is said that the town of "Adam on Diamond," a Mormon town in Daviess, in which
there are several houses -- a very valuable site for a town -- was purchased at these sales for a dollar and a
quarter an acre. It is further said, that there is a company formed, embracing a number of persons, for the purpose
of speculating in the lands of those people."
It can hardly be expected that an editor in Mo. will come out fully and give the whole story to this base affair.
Enough, however is disclosed to cover that part of the State with lasting disgrace. Can men women and children be
driven from their homes to "bide the pettings of pitiless storm" of winter, many of them shot like wild beasts,
for the purpose of obtaining their lands without incurring public indignation?
"The court of enquiry, instituted to try the Mormon prisoners, has terminated its labors and sent on the following
persons for further trial, to wit:
"For Treason -- Joseph Smith, Jr., Hiram Smith, Lymon Wright, Sidney Rigdon, Alexander M'Ray, Caleb Baldwin.
"In relation to the proceedings of the court of equity, the editor of the Republican observes:
"For Murder -- Parley P. Pratt, Norman Shearer, Darwin Chase, Lyman Gibbs, and Maurice Phillips.
"Accessaries before and after the Fact of Murder -- Joseph Smith, Jr., Lyman Wright, Sidney Rigdon, and Washington
"For Arson, Burglary, Robbery and Larceny -- George W. Robinson, Alanson Ripley, Washington Vams, Sidney Tanner,
Jacob Gates, Jessie D. Hunter, George Grant, Darwin Chase, Thos. Rich, Alexander M'Ray, Caleb Baldwin, John S.
Higby, Ebenezer Page, Ebenezer Ribinson, Jas. M. Henderson, David Pellegrue, Edward Pa[rtrid]ge, Francis Higbee,
George Kimball, Jas. W. Younger, Daniel Corn, Jas. H. Rolling, Samuel Bent, Jonathan Durham, Wm. Whitman, Joel S.
Mills, Clark Hallot, Norman Shearer, and Maurice Phelps.
'The result of this enquiry has been what was anticipated, a serious difficulty it seems to me, will now arise
as to the trial of those men. In the counties where the disturbance took place it will be almost impossible to
find a jury for the trial, for I presume there is no man who has not formed an opinion of the case. If the
prisoners do not change the venue the state cannot change it, and I am well assured that such has been the
excitement that no man in the counties of Ray, Carroll, Caldwell and Davies will [be] in a condition to serve
as a juror -- What will be the result of these prosecutions, I am at a loss to say. This much is very certain,
the detention of those 36 prisoners under a guard to be fed and protected during the winter season while the
state will feel before it's done." It cannot fail of being a very expensive affair for the State. The pay of
the Militia called out, the expense of keeping such a number of prisoners; the cost attending their trial, &c.
must amount to a large sum.