Facts Relative to the Expulsion
Messrs. Editors: The undersigned, residents of Adams County, Illinois, in presenting the above, think it our duty to say, that the said Mr. Wimmer has lived close by us for about two months, and we can consider him in no other way than an honest and industrious citizen. He wishes us to say that he is willing to testify to the above, yea, and even more than is stated; his family also say the same. Now Messrs. Editor, there are two questions which naturally present themselves to us; the first is, why were these people thus barbarously treated and driven from their homes? All the answer we can give is, it was pretended that they were Mormons. The truth of the case appears to be this, two of the family, both females, believe in most of the doctrines held by the Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, but they did not assemble with the Mormons, either in a religious, defensive or warlike capacity. The second question is, upon what pretext do these wretches seize to shield them from justice? (That they were in every sense of the word a mob is apparent, as they had no officers and were not organized in any way except this, the men who were most inhuman and desperate should be their leaders.) The answer is, Executive order, yes, and Executive order-the more than savage order of extermination, as given by Governor Boggs. That Boggs did give such orders is apparent from the address of Maj. Gen. Clark, at Far West. The General says, “the orders of the governor to me were, that you (Mormons) should be exterminated and not allowed to remain in the state,” etc. Now, that under this brutal order all manner of misconduct and barbarity has been condescended to, is a point that we think requires no proof, except what is before the public. The conclusion is, then, that the Executive is responsible, and ought to be held accountable for the great loss of property and lives.
S. J. COMFORT,
D. A. MILLER.
The gross injustice of the deed of trust by which the Mormons signed over their property “to defray the expenses of the war,” as Gen. Clark says, or “to pay the debts of every individual belonging to the church,” as Bishop Partridge expresses it, can be fully understood at a glance. It was an enormous and wholesale robbery. Let us consider the circumstances. A mob attacks the Mormons in Daviess County, disperses their families, kills their cattle, burns their houses, murders them, and when the Mormon militia, called out legally, like other militia, to restore peace, attacks this mob, the cry is raised of a Mormon war; and this legal militia, armed against the mob, is forced to surrender to militia supported by the mob. And, then it is demanded that they should pay for the ruin, and attendant expenses, which the confusion of this mob had caused, when it was the Mormons themselves who had been plundered, and in every way persecuted. The state was, in all common justice, bound to make them restitution for the losses they had suffered; and, instead, by force they wrung from them their all.
But again-with what plausibility could it be demanded, that the property of every Mormon should be given up in order that the debts of every other Mormon should be paid? They held no common property except the fund in the hands of the Bishop for the support of the poor. No man was in any way bound for another’s debt. Each was independent in his possessions. Here, again, was an indiscriminate, illegal plunder of the poor people of the state.
But we cannot estimate the full injustice done until we consider the forced sales of property after their surrender. Be it remembered, that they were ordered to leave the state within a certain time, under threat of extermination, and that this was the winter season; be it remembered, too, that after they had given up their arms, they were wholly defenseless against attack, and were thus daily subject to every insult and outrage which abandoned villains could inflict. Let one picture to himself their condition, when thus threatened and abused, and we shall see at once how glad they were to escape at any cost or sacrifice. Caldwell County, its age considered, was the best cultivated in the state, and presented, in every way, the most promising appearance. The owners of this whole county were, with but the few exceptions of individuals who were not Mormons, forcibly dispossessed of the improvements they themselves had made. They were compelled to sell their property for what they could get, or, rather, let us say, for what their persecutors were willing to give them.
Some facts relative to the removal of the Mormons and their present condition should be stated. The Mormons were so perfectly aware of the flagrant wrong of Governor Boggs’ exterminating order, and of the treaty by which they were subsequently deprived of their property, that they sent in a memorial to the legislature, demanding justice at their hands. A committee was appointed to examine into their case, and visit Caldwell and Daviess counties. This was in December. The committee, however, did nothing, and another was appointed who were equally negligent of their duty. Meanwhile the Mormon question was constantly agitated in the house. These debates may be seen by a reference to the Missouri Republican. It was in January that the Mormons became satisfied, that they could expect no justice at the hands of the Missouri Legislature; and it may be well here to make it known that the further consideration of their memorial was laid upon the table until July, thus securing their expulsion from the state under the exterminating order and Clark’s treaty. There was but one course now open for the Mormons, and that was to make their escape with the utmost expedition. This they effected as best they could; and it will be easy to conceive, what were the sufferings of these helpless people, oftentimes women and children, whose natural protectors were in prison or had fled away, in the midst of the cold of winter. Many were stripped of clothing and bedding. Many sold all their household stuff to pay the immediate expenses of their journey. Many without cattle, horses, or wagons, had no means of conveyance. In this situation it was thought proper to make some general effort for the removal of the helpless families-a contribution was raised from among the Mormons who had means, and a committee appointed for its expenditure. It was through this charity among themselves that the destitute were enabled to remove to the state of Illinois; where at Quincy they were kindly received and provided for, to the lasting honor of the citizens of that place. The condition of these outcast strangers was wretched indeed. Their numbers were so great that many could find no shelter.
In the months of February and March there were at one time 130 families and upwards upon the west back of the Mississippi, unable to cross on account of the running ice, many of them entirely destitute of food and only scantily supplied from the east side of the river, by those who with great difficulty succeeded in conveying them provision. Their only shelter was the bed clothing from which they could make tents, and many had not even this. In this miserable situation many women gave birth to children. The Mormons who were already in Quincy, formed a committee among themselves, to aid to the best of their power the committee of Far West in giving assistance to their suffering brethren. They received them as they came, sent forward all who had means and strength into the interior, provided the poor and sick with lodgings, fuel, food and clothing. This committee were necessarily obliged to incur debts to a large amount in this work of charity, for which they are now personally liable, and for which surely the benevolent minded will not allow them to suffer. Contributions should be raised and forwarded to these abused brethren. The citizens of Quincy have generously done what was in their power. Who will not be ready to help the distressed? There are many there now and in the vicinity who are dependant upon charity, and their brother Mormons, scattered abroad and spoiled, are not in the condition to give them the aid which, at another time, they would according to the principles of their church readily afford. Hundreds of others equally destitute have sought a home in Iowa.
Commerce, Ill., April 12, 1839.
Messrs. Editors:-Enclosed I send you a communication from Governor Lucas of Iowa Territory.-If you think the publication thereof will in any way promote the cause of justice, by vindicating the slandered reputation of the people called “Mormons,” from the ridiculous falsehoods which the malice, cupidity, and envy of their murderers in Missouri have endeavoured to heap upon them, you are respectfully solicited to publish it in the “Argus.” The testimony of Governor Lucas, as to the good moral character of these people, I think will have its deserved influence upon the people of Illinois, in encouraging our citizens in their humane and benevolent exertions to relieve this distressed people, who are now wandering in our neighborhoods without comfortable food, raiment, or a shelter from the pelting storm.
I am, gentlemen, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
Executive Office, Iowa,
Burlington, March, 1839.
Dear Sir:-On my return to this city, after a few weeks absence in the interior of the territory, I received your letter of the 25th ult., in which you give a short account of the sufferings of the people called Mormons, and ask “whether they could be permitted to purchase lands and settle upon them in the territory of Iowa, and there worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, secure from oppression,” &c.
In answer to your inquiry, I would say that I know of no authority that can constitutionally deprive them of this right. They are citizens of the United States, and are entitled to all the rights and privileges of other citizens. The 2nd section of the 4th article of the Constitution of the United States (which all are solemnly bound to support,) declare that “the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states;” this privilege extends in full force to the territories of the United States. The first amendment to this constitution of the U.S. declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The Ordinance of Congress of the 13th July, 1787, for the government of the territory northwest of the river Ohio, secures to the citizens of said territory and the citizens of the states thereafter to be formed therein, certain privileges which were, by the late act of Congress organizing the territory of Iowa, extended to the citizens of this territory. The first fundamental article in that ordinance, which is declared to be forever unalterable, except by common consent, reads as follows, to wit: “No person demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiments in said territory.” These principles I trust will ever be adhered to in the territory of Iowa. They make no distinction between religious sects. They extend equal privileges and protection to all; each must rest upon its own merits and will prosper in proportion to the purity of its principles, and the fruit of holiness and piety produced thereby.
With regard to the peculiar people mentioned in your letter, I know but little. They had a community in the northern part of Ohio for several years, and I have no recollection of ever having heard in that state of any complaint against them for violating the laws of the country. Their religious opinions I conceive have nothing to do with our political transactions. They are citizens of the United States, and are entitled to the same political rights and legal protection that other citizens are entitled to.
The foregoing are briefly my views on the subject of your inquiries.
With sincere respect,
I am your obedient servant,
- Facts Relative to the Expulsion Section A
- Facts Relative to the Expulsion Section B
- Facts Relative to the Expulsion Section C
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- Facts Relative to the Expulsion Section I
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