NOTE TO SECOND AND FUTURE EDITIONS
Because of the faulty memory of an aged Mormon, who gave me the name of Isaac Laney as that of the man who was brutally beaten, at Parowan, in southwestern Utah, because he sold a few onions to the emigrants who perished at the Mountain Meadows, a slight error crept into the first edition of "The Mountain Meadows Massacre."
Since its publication I have been most fortunate in meeting a wealthy man, now residing at Oakland, California, who lived next door to William Laney at Parowan at the time of the massacre, and from him learned the truth of the incident. His recollection of that incident has been verified by reference to a letter received a year ago from Judge James S. Aden of Tennessee, whose brother was a victim of the religion-crazed fanatics who exterminated Captain Charles Fancher's companions at the Mountain Meadows. Judge Aden's recollection of Laney's name was DeLaney. And because of the fact that I could learn nothing of any man by that name the Judge's interesting story of how his father aided William Laney, while the latter was a Mormon missionary, and how his brother was entertained by William Laney at Parowan, and given a few onions, was omitted from the first edition. It is now given in full. Also, at the recent Mormon general conference, I met the nephew of William Laney, and who told me that it was his uncle instead of his father, Isaac Laney, who lived at Parowan.
The above explanation has been given for purpose of disarming Mormon critics who are ever alert to even the slightest discrepancies that may find their way into the writings of those who presume to criticise the conduct and motives of the Mormon leaders.
JOSIAH F. GIBBS.
Salt Lake City, Utah, October 17th, 1910.
Some five years ago a prominent Salt Lake editor, in a letter to the writer, said: "The Mountain Meadows massacre is an incident that should be forgotten." The gentleman, a well-known Gentile, was in error; the human family learns only by experience. The lessons taught by the tragedies of the past come down to us in the form of history and become danger signals along the highway of advancing civilization, and warn us of the peril that marches hand in hand with human passions, with ignorance and superstition.
Speaking specifically, the Mountain Meadows massacre should not be forgotten as long as Mormon writers, pulpiteers and missionaries use the ''Missouri Persecutions," the "Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith," and the "Expulsion of the Saints from Nauvoo" as influences for proselyting. Nor should the discussion of any prominent tragedy cease until the causes that unerringly led up to the act shall have been eradicated, or until the lesson that it teaches is no longer necessary. The Mountain Meadows massacre should be kept before the public until unquestioning obedience to the will of the Mormon "prophets" shall be no longer exacted from the Mormon people, or until its deadening, damning influence is exterminated. Those who suggest such lapses of memory as that suggested by the Salt Lake editor do so in the interest of "peace in Utah," a "peace" that would be purchased by the surrender of justice to injustice, of right to wrong, of the present to the future — a surrender in Utah of moral progress and civil liberty to mercenary advantages and political bribes held out by the "prophets" and the Mormon and pro-Mormon press as the price of silence.
The details of the Mountain Meadows massacre have been repeatedly told. Embittered Mormon "apostates" and greedy romancers have distorted the awful incidents; Mormon historians and subsidized writers have submerged the truth and endeavored to shift the burthen of the terrible crime to the Indians; and thus far none of them have, seemingly, been able to grasp the elusive forces that unerringly led up to the tragedy, or they have failed to state them.
With malice toward none, least of all toward the misguided assassins, and in a spirit of even-handed justice, the attempt will be made to assemble the fragments of causation and history and join them together in a consecutive narrative.
And it is well to here remark that the story of the massacre is largely drawn from the evidence of unwilling Mormon witnesses who testified during the second trial of John D. Lee; from close personal contact with the religious and social life of Utah from 1857 to the present time; from an intimate acquaintance with the people of southern Utah, and from a personal study of the locality known as the Mountain Meadows.
An intelligible grasp of the remarkable religious and social conditions that existed in Utah just prior to the massacre, and of which it was one of the logical results, cannot be imparted without quoting from the sermons of some of the Mormon "prophets." And it is a fact well known to Mormon leaders and historians that the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from Missouri, the killing of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and the expulsion of the church from Illinois were but the logical results of the "revelations," sermons and writings of the Mormon leaders, and which inspired the rank and file of the Mormons with grotesquely exaggerated views of the religious and political mission of Mormonism, and of their own importance.
Following are excerpta from a few of the "prophets' " sermons:
"God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece of the children of Israel, and he will make me to be God to you in his stead, and the elders to be mouth for me; and if you don't like it you must lump it." — From sermon by the "Prophet" Joseph Smith, Jr., Nauvoo, April, 1844; clipped from the Mormon Deseret News of July 15, 1857.
"The first principle of our cause and work is to understand that there is a prophet in the church, and that he is at the head of the Church of Christ on earth. Who called Joseph Smith to be a prophet? Did the people or God? God, and not the people, called him. Had the people gathered together and appointed one of their number to be a prophet, he would have been accountable to the people, but, inasmuch as he was called of God, and not by the people, he is accountable to God only... and not to any man on earth. The twelve apostles are accountable to the prophet and not to the church for the course they pursue, and we have learned to go and do, as the prophet tells us." — From sermon by Brigham Young, at Nauvoo, 1843, published in Millennial Star, Liverpool, England, Vol. XXI., page 741.
"The fact of the matter is, when a man says 'you can direct me spiritually, but not temporally,' he lies in the presence of God; that is, if he has got intelligence enough to know what he is talking about." — From sermon by Joseph F. Smith (the present-day Mormon "prophet") at Provo, Utah; from the Deseret News, May 20, 1896.
The above quotations prove beyond the possibility of successful contradiction. that the "prophets" of the Mormon church are, if their claims be accepted, vicegerents of God, that they act "in his stead"; that those of the Mormon people who deny the right of the "prophets" to "direct" them "temporally," "lie in the presence of God," and that the "prophets" are "accountable to God only, and not to any man on earth." Also from President Brigham Young we learn that "we (the Mormons) have learned to go and do as the prophet tells us."
The subserviency of even the apostles of the Mormon church is well illustrated in the following:
"Now, whatever I might have obtained in the shape of learning, by searching and study respecting the arts and sciences of men — whatever principles I may have imbibed during my scientific researches, yet, if the prophet of God should tell me that a certain principle or theory which I might have learned was not true, I do not care what my ideas might have been, I should consider it my duty, at the suggestion of my file leader, to abandon that principle or theory." — From sermon by Apostle Wilford Woodruff at Salt Lake City, April 9, 1857, recorded in Journal of Discourses, Vol. I., page 83.
And in the face of the plain assertions of their leaders the Mormon people deny that they are ruled spiritually and temporally by one man — that they are slaves to the dicta of one man who claims to rule them by the authority and in the name and stead of God! But when the dupes of the Mormon "prophets" deny that self-evident fact they should remember that they "lie in the presence of God."
Necessarily, the believer in unquestioning obedience to the dictum of one man, or his agent or agents, is a fanatic, and there is not a devout Mormon on earth who would not commit murder if he were ordered to do so by the chief "prophet" or one of his agents in whom he had confidence. If he would not obey the order then he is not a "firm believer in the (Mormon) faith." The voice of the "prophet" is the voice of God to him, and he has no alternative but to "go and do as he is told." Otherwise, "he lies in the presence of God."
And the reader will readily comprehend the awful significance of the combination of blind obedience and the doctrine of blood atonement, or the doctrine that one must submit to capital punishment for certain offenses which, as the Mormon "prophets" claim, were not included in the atonement of the Son of God. Add to that combination the fact that those blood atonement executions are to be carried out under the authority of the leader of a religious organization, and not under any civil process, and one will have a partial perception of the conditions that existed in Utah under the rule of the "prophets" from their occupation of Utah, in 1847, to 1880. Mormons deny the existence of those conditions, but they will not deny the accuracy of the following quotations:
"There is not a man or woman who violates the covenants made with their God (in the Mormon temples), that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it; and the judgments of the Almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man or woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants." — From sermon by Brigham Young, March 16, 1856, Journal of Discourses, Vol. III., page 247.
"What do you suppose they would say in old Massachusetts should they hear that the Latter-day Saints had received a revelation or commandment to 'lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet'? What would they say in old Connecticut? They would raise a universal howl of 'how wicked the Mormons are. They are killing the evildoers who are among them. Why, I hear that they kill the wicked away up yonder in Utah.'... What do I care for the wrath of man? No more than I do for the chickens that run in my dooryard. I am here to teach the ways of the Lord, and lead men to life everlasting; but if they have not a mind to go there, I wish them to keep out of my path." — From sermon by Brigham Young in 1855, Journal of Discourses, Vol. III., page 50.
"If any miserable scoundrels come here, cut their throats." — From red hot blood atonement sermon by Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. II., page 311. At the conclusion of the injunction to "cut their throats," "all the people said 'amen!' "
"I would ask how many covenant breakers there are in this city and in this kingdom (the Mormon 'kingdom of God')? I believe that there are a great many; and if they are covenant breakers, we need a place designated where we can shed their blood.... If any of you ask, do I mean you, I answer yes. If any woman asks, do I mean her, I answer yes.... We have been trying long enough with these people, and I go in for letting the sword of the Almighty be unsheathed, not only in word but in deed." — From sermon by Jedediah M. Grant, second counselor to Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. IV., pp. 49-50.
It is not necessary to give the details of the blood atonement murder of William R. Parrish and his son Beason for "apostasy," at Springville, in 1856; of the murder of Rosmos Anderson by the leading priesthood of the Parowan "stake of Zion" in 1856, because Philip Klingensmith, bishop of Cedar City, Utah, coveted the buxom Scandinavian stepdaughter of Anderson as his plural wife, and whom Anderson also wanted as his plural, and with whom, as alleged, he had committed adultery as the last and surest effort to secure a "recommend" to enter the "holy order of celestial marriage"; of the castration of Tom Lewis, at Manti, Utah, in 1856, because Bishop Warren Snow was lecherously ambitious to polygamously marry the girl with whom Lewis was keeping company; of the inexpressibly cowardly murder of William Hatton at Fillmore, 1856, by a man who could be named, and who was the agent of the "prophets, seers and revelators" at Salt Lake City, and whose handsome widow the unspeakable "Prophet" Heber C. Kimball soon after added to his celestial harem; of the murder, by prophetic instructions, at Farmington, during the spring of 1858, of four of the Aiken party, and while "Johnston's" army at Ham's Fork was preparing to enter Utah, and of the cowardly assassination of two others of the Aiken party by a present high churchman and his companion, who, under pretense of conducting them from Utah by the southern route to California, shot them in the back at a point some four or five miles south of Nephi, about 110 miles south of Salt Lake City; of the midnight murder, later on, of King, Brassfield and others who became obnoxious to the Mormon leaders. This is an abbreviated history of the Mountain Meadows massacre — not of the entire diabolical results of the teaching of unquestioning obedience and blood atonement by the vicegerents of the Mormon god.
Any one with ordinary intelligence can comprehend the terrible results of the license to murder which is embraced in the excerpta that have been quoted from the bloodthirsty sermons of two of the chief "prophets" of the Mormon church.
The preaching of blood atonement was accompanied by two years — 1856-1857 — of hysterical repentance called the Mormon "reformation." The larger portion of the "Saints" confessed their sins to the "block teachers," to the "ward bishops," or, as in many instances, to Brigham Young, to whom many of the sinful Saints went with their tales of iniquity. It was a time of confession, of the "renewal of covenants" by rebaptism, and the intensification of indescribable fanaticism, frenzy and violence.
The reason for those violent outbreaks on the part of the prophets is alleged to have been the effect of the unrestrained liberty, even license, of frontier life, which affects alike the saint and the sinner; the latter, of course, being the more willing victim. Even some of the "saints of the Most High" descended to stealing and worse crimes. That, and the influx of traders, trappers and others not of the Mormon faith, created apprehension on the part of the "prophets" that the "kingdom of God," which they had "established in the top of the mountains," would perish because of the iniquity of the people.
It was the hope that it might check the carnival of crime that prompted the Mormon leaders to inaugurate the "reformation." No truthful history of the religious hysteria, frenzy, fanaticism and diabolism of those early days in Utah has ever been written. It was as if civilization had been forced backward four hundred years with the spirit and practice of the Inquisition in full control.
Another condition that added to the frenzy of the "prophets" was the presence of federal officials who attempted to enforce the "common law" in cases of polygamy, and who were regarded as usurpers of the divine right of Brigham Young to be a despot. The conflict between the civil law, represented by the government officials, and the ecclesiastical rule of Brigham Young became so acute that the Gentile officials fled the territory. In order to aid its officials in the enforcement of the law the government, in the spring of 1857, dispatched an army of 2500 men to Utah, which further incensed the Mormon leaders and their followers against the government and against all Gentiles within and without the Mormon empire.
As governor of Utah, and vicegerent of the Mormon deity, Brigham Young issued a proclamation, of which three paragraphs only are necessary:
Therefore, I, Brigham Young, governor and superintendent of Indian affairs for the Territory of Utah,
First — Forbid all armed forces of every description from coming into this territory, under any pretense whatever.
Second — 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, from and 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.
That the Mormon leaders were determined to make desperate resistance to the entry of the federal troops is proved by the following self-explanatory letter:
Great Salt Lake City, Sept. 14th, 1857.
Colonel William H. Dame, Parowan, Iron county:
Herewith you will receive the governor's proclamation declaring martial law.
You will probably not be called out this fall, but are requested to continue to make ready for a big fight another year. The plan of operations is supposed to be about this. In case the United States government should send out an overpowering force, we intend to desolate the territory, and conceal our families, stock and all our effects in the fastnesses of the mountains, where they will be safe, while the men waylay our enemies, attack them from ambush, stampede their animals, take the supply trains, cut off the detachments and parties sent to the canyons for wood, or on other service. To lay waste everything that will burn — houses, fences, fields and grass, so that they cannot find a particle of anything that will be of use to them, not even sticks to make a fire to cook their supplies. To waste away our enemies and to lose none; that will be our mode of warfare. Thus you will see the necessity of preparing, first, secure places in the mountains where they cannot find us, or, if they do, where they cannot approach in force, and then prepare for our families, building some cabins, caching flour and grain.... Conciliate the Indians and make them our fast friends.
In regard to letting the people pass and repass, or travel through the territory, this applies to all strangers and suspected persons. Yourself and Brother Isaac C. Haight, in your districts, are authorized to give such permits. Examine all such persons before giving them such permits to pass. Keep things perfectly quiet, and let all things be done peacefully, but with firmness, and let there be no excitement. Let the people be united in their feelings and faith, as well as works, and keep alive the spirit of reformation. And what we said in regard to saving the grain and provisions we say again. We do not wish to shed a drop of blood if it can be avoided.
This course will give us great influence abroad.
BRIGHAM YOUNG (Prophet);
DANIEL H. WELLS (Lieutenant General).
Certified to tinder seal by James Jack, notary public, August 16, 1876.
Brigham Young's letter to Dame is a curious mixture of governor of Utah and king of the Mormon "kingdom of God" — a blending of the civil and ecclesiastic authority, as was intended by the founders of Mormonism.
It should be particularly noted that Bishop Colonel Dame and President Colonel Haight were authorized, as military and ecclesiastical authorities, in their districts, to issue "permits" to "pass or repass" through the territory.
It will be observed that President Young's letter to Dame bears date of September 14, while the date of the proclamation is that of September 15. In the discussion between Haight and John D. Lee on the night of about September 3, it is alleged by the latter that Haight told him that the massacre of the emigrants "is the will of all in authority. The emigrants have no pass from any one to go through the country, and they are liable to be killed as common enemies, for the country is at war now. No man has a right to go through this country without a written pass."
The conversation between Haight and Lee occurred about twelve days before the proclamation is alleged to have been promulgated. President Young received word on the 24th of July, 1857, that Johnston's army was en route to Utah, and it is unbelievable that the astute Brigham would have waited until September 15 to issue his "proclamation" declaring the existence of "martial law."
Under all the circumstances it is not an injustice to charge that, after the massacre, the date of the proclamation was changed from August to September for the purpose of destroying the plain evidence that the massacre of the emigrants was authorized by the proclamation, inasmuch as the emigrants had no "permit" to pass through the territory.