"Horrible Massacre of Emigrants!!" The Mountain Meadows Massacre in Public Discourse

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Review of Elder Penrose's Exculpatory Address Delivered Oct. 26th, 1884, in Twelfth Ward Meeting House. 

Elder C. W. Penrose, on Sunday last, the 26th of October, again put himself forward before the public in the Twelfth Bishop's Ward of this city as a self appointed champion of the Mormon Church, to apologize for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and to palhate, if not approve, that horrible crime. but all the waters of the Jordan, applied with all the authority of their unholy priesthood will never, in time nor eternity, wash away the indelible stain from that church. He began by declaring that the report of the horrid murder had spread throughout the civilized world, and wherever the elders had gone to preach their gospel, they were confronted with it, and the church led by Brigham Young was charged with the crime, especially by ministers of Christian churches. Yes, and well it may. In fufillment of Jesus's words, that which was done in secret is declared openly; that which the elders of the Church swore never to divulge, and the Deseret News, the organ of the murderous priesthood, would not publish, is told to the whole world, from press, pulpit and platform. It is an eternal principle and law of nature and morals, that that which men sow they shall reap; they may cover it over with dirt and rubbish, but the very covering finally strengthens the growth. That church sowed the wind, and it is reaping the whirlwind. It must be so in the very nature of things; and the more the elders, by their apologies and explanations, stir the filthy matter, the more the foul stench arises, and pure, sensitive natures are disgusted.


Penrose was not in Utah during that period of the Reformation, and knows not the spirit or actions of the Church, yet he attempts to defend it from the truthful attacks of those who know much better than he. But can we say in charity towards him, that "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise?" No; for he distorts his vision as he looks, and is unable to weigh evidence correctly by reason of his deep rooted bias and hatred of the truth. He must be called the Great Denier. That Brigham Young and the whole Church is morally responsible for the horrid deed, as the result of their infamous preaching during the years previous, no sane mind can honestly deny, and Penrose's acknowledgement that blood-atonement was preached by the "First Presidency" is indubitable proof. Brigham lighted the torch and others applied it as a duty. He seemed to be ignorant of human nature and of the elements he dealt with, and this massacre, with other murders, were the legitimate consequences.

In Penrose's harangue, giving his version of the deed and its circumstances, he states that reports were rife that the company alluded to spoke disrespectfully of Brigham, of Joseph Smith, and of the whole Church; that they robbed hen roosts, flipped off the heads of chickens while passing through the streets, poisoned springs of water and beef given to the Indians, and threatened the Mormons with the United States Army. But he will not vouch for the correctness of such accusations. He is not quite hardened enough yet to do so. Then if he cannot say such reports are true, why does he give them? Why pursue such a line of argument or thought, when he acknowledges they may be false? To


on hearers and readers; and such a purpose and such language are really not only unworthy but dishonest. Such reports never were obtained or heard of until after the horrid deed was perpetrated. And such reports were absolutely unreasonable. Was it at all likely that any respectable and rich company as they were, would be guilty of such folly? Would they not, in passing through the several settlements where Mormon laws and officers existed, have been justly arrested and punished? Could they have possibly escaped through all the Territory to the southern boundary without being detected in such nefarious acts and arrested and punished in those times? Utterly impossible! Who ever heard of emigrants who had to travel thousands of miles, day after day, having quantities of poison with them for any purpose? The very question is preposterous, and the accusation carries the lie on its face. That such a false report was used to Lee and others is no doubt true, first uttered at the place of plotting the murder. But the slightest reflection would have shown its absurdity, did men not wish it to be true. Even Penrose does not certify to its correctness, yet uses it for a sinister motive. But if these emigrants did speak disrespectfully of Brigham, old Joe Smith and the Church, should they be murdered for it? Were they worthy of such a cruel death by a holy church?

Penrose palliated the massacre, by stating that those at that hellish council held in Cedar City, composed of the ruling priesthood and common elders there, took into consideration the depredations which had been made by this party of emigrants, and were excited, thinking of the persectitions experienced beforetime, and thus he is himself guilty of the murder morally. His language conveys that feeling to every perceptive mind.

He affects to prove that Brigham was neither accessory before nor after the facts. He tries to analyze the testimony implicating George A. Smith, to exonerate him, but he fails. What right has any man to order, counsel or command farmers or tradespeople not to sell their surplus produce and goods to emigrants or Gentiles? The advice or threat or desire in itself


To prevent persons from selling or giving to the hungry or naked is to be guilty of murder, and in no other part of this broad continent would such counsel be ordered and carried out. Of what value is George A. Smith's affidavit that he was innocent? Would he not avail himself of the provision of the law, not to criminate himself? The  
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testimony of many is that he, in his tour southward shortly before the massacre, instructed the people to sell no grain or provisions to the emigrants, and his acknowledged coupling the coming of the army with the keeping of the grain for emergencies shows his secret desires. Though George A. Smith states in his affidavit that he "encamped with Jacob Hamlin, P. T. Farnsworth, S. S. Smith, and Elijah Hoops," he never mentions having journeyed to several settlements with John D. Lee, of which there is ample proof. Was it merciful in said Smith to counsel not to sell the emigrants anything which they needed, even for their teams?

If Brigham was not accessory before the fact, what does he mean in his published letter to Col. W. H. Dame, dated September 14th, 1857? "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 their supply trains, cut off detachments and parties sent to the canyons for wood, or other service. To lay waste everything that will burn—houses, fences, trees, fields and grass, so that they cannot tied 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 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 there prepare for our families, building some cabins, cacheing flour and grain." "Conciliate the Indians and make them our fast friends." "In regard to letting the people pass or repass, or travel through the Territory,


and suspected persons. Yourself and Brother Isaac C. Haight, in your district are authorized to give such permits. Examine all such persons before giving them 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 the Reformation. And what we said in regard to saving the grain and provisions we say again, let there be no waste. Save life always as much as possible. We do not wish to shed a drop of blood if it can be avoided. This course will give us influence abroad." (Signed,) BRIGHAM YOUNG, DANIEL H. WELLS.

This extract purports to be from Brigham Young's copying book, attested to by James Jack, Notary Public, August 16th, 1876. But what a horrible letter, and terrible instructions and designs, from a professed follower of Jesus! A part of it is quoted by Penrose, namely: "Save life always if possible. We do not wish to shed a drop of blood if it can be avoided," to prove that Brigham "was not a man of blood, nor even a warrior, but a statesman of a high order, who did not delight in physical conflict nor the shedding of blood." But if there is not hellish and murderous design in that letter, what is there? They were to waylay and attack the United States Army in every conceivable manner that diabolical spirits could suggest; to waste away our enemies and lose none, (meaning, none of our party;) rob them of their provisions, burn up everything even to kindlings; and in cover expressions, Save life always if possible, and not shed a drop of blood if it can be avoided. If it is not bloody is it not murderous? Is it any wonder that such instructions and purposes given to such men as Dame, Haight, Higbee, Lee and others as many would see them and read, would incite to crulty, murder and rapine? Yet call that man, innocent, no warrior, hating human blood shedding, and a statesman of a high order. Great God, what an apostle of peace and wisdom, and a man of mercy! But coward as he was, he did not waste or burn—he ran away.

But were Brigham and the Church guilty as


We think we can prove positively that they were. Penrose states that THE TRIBUNE had called repeatedly for a copy of the letter from Brigham Young to Isaac C. Haight, in reply to the dispatch received by James Haslam, and declares that he searched for that letter and found it in a letter copying book in the President's office, ahd he read it before that large congregation. It purports to be dated September 10, 1857, giving information about the progress of the United States Army, and closes by advising them to "let the emigrants go in peace; that the people must protect their own lives, but not interfere with the emigrants." Now, that must be a cool, intentional falsehood, a willful and deliberate lie. No such letter ever was writen and copied. As soon as the Church was charged by the outside world with the ordering of the massacre, diligent search was made through Brigham's copying books in his office for any letter in reply to the message by Jas. Haslam, and no letter nor copy was found, from Haight or Lee, or a reply to their letter, though it was invariably the rule and practice of the office, not only to copy letters sent, but to preserve and "pigeon-hole" all letters and communications received. Brigham Young gave his deposition, sworn to on the 30th day of July, A. D. 1876, before Wm. Clayton, Notary Public, under his seal, which was made part of the proceedings of the last trial of John D. Lee. The questions asked were constructed and shaped in such a way as to be easy on Brigham and not "criss-crosses" as he once said—by whom they were propounded is not known and he answers as follows:


"Thirteenth—Did you about the 10th of September, 1857, receive a communication from Isaac C. Haight, or any other person of Cedar City, concerning a company of emigrants called the Arkansas Company?

Answer—I did receive a communication from Isaac C. Haight or John D. Lee, who was a farmer for the Indians.

Fourteenth—Have you that communication?

Answer—I have not. I have made diligent search for it but cannot find it.

Fifteenth—Did you answer that communication?

Answer—I did, to Isaac C. Haight, who was then acting President at Cedar City.

Sixteenth—Will you state the substance of your letter to him?

Answer—Yes. It was to let this company of emigrants, and all companies of emigrants, pass through the country unmolested, and to allay the angry feelings of the Indians as much as possible.


It is very evident to a legal mind, that the questions in Brigham's deposition were framed purposely to protect him, and to shield him from complicity in the transaction. The defendant's counsel had no part in the questioning, or he would have asked for a copy of that letter itself to be seen and inserted, or extracts from it. But Brigham produced no letter, nor copy, nor did he say there was a copy, which he would only have been too glad to have produced; and it, either in in court, or a certified copy of it, would have been conclusive evidence to his favor. But he did not produce it, could not produce it, for it was not to existence. He would not have had the Haight letter "searched for diligently," if the answer was come-at-able. He could recollect it was received about September 10th, but did not know whether from Haight or Lee. He could recollect the substance of that reply nearly eighteen years afterwards, but did not tell the substance of Haight or Lee's letter, nor produce the copy of his reply to refresh his memory or give its date. The date of Haight's letter was also furnished him in the question, which should not have been, if an honest deposition. The document of itself is of no legal value, only so far as it tells against Penrose's presumption, as coming from Brigham.

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We assert upon evidence that Brigham was informed fully of the facts of the murder and the persons concerned in the same, by John D. Lee, in less than one month after the occurrence. He wrote out a list at Brigham Young's order of fifty-five Mormon elders concerned in the dreadful massacre, in the presence of a lady in this city who supplied him with the paper at his request. And to her exclamation, "What, Brother Lee, you don't mean to say that our people were engaged in that affair?" He laughed an "eldrich laugh." There were fifty-eight members of the Mormon Church, which included presidents, bishops, counselors and elders. As a reward for his heroic conduct, the knowing Brigham gave him very shortly after the recital of the deed, a woman for his sixteenth wife, whom he inveigled from her man to whom she was a second. We can give the name, with Brigham's welcome plaudit, slapping him on the shoulder, "Yes, my boy, you deserve another wife." In the year 1868, eleven years after the faithful murderous act he was sealed to another woman in the Endowment House in this city. We have the witness. He lodged and ate at Lee's houses many times several years after the occurrence. It is but shameless audacity and falsehood to deny that he knew Lee and the priesthood in authority were guilty until 1870. Jacob Hamlin told Brigham Young all about it himself a very short time after the deed was done. A good Mormon in this city, who knows, says so emphatically, to whom Hamlin told what he said to the prophet. And Jacob Hamlin said on his oath at Lee's trial, that he told Brigham Young and George A. Smith—"Well, I did speak of it to Brigham Young and George A. Smith, pretty soon after it happened. I told them everything I could," and told them more than he swore to in court at the trial, or would swear—he shielded other elders by so doing. He also testified that Lee was pretty zealous in what is called Mormonism. These are conclusive evidences that Brigham knew it very soon after the occurrence—less than two months, and yet kept it a secret for nineteen years, and requested the brethren to


until a favorable opportunity opened. Thirteen years elapsed before any action was taken towards excommunicating a few of those elders concerned in it. Indeed, John D. Lee was never cut off legally by the Church, and hence died a member of it. He had no chance for a hearing, or even an appeal, both of which are guaranteed by the laws of the Church to the accused. But a church that bids defiance to the wholesome laws of the land, will pay no respect to its own rules.

Where are Haight, Higbee and Stewart? Report has it that Haight and Higbee are on missions abroad, and Stewart in Arizona, under assumed names. I. C. Haight's wife said that if the same traitorous treatment was shown to her husband as to Lee she would produce evidence that if not exonerating him legally, would implicate some very high in authority.

Brigham said a few weeks after the deed in the old tabernacle before thousands of people, some of whom are in the city, that the blood of those emigrants and of the whole of the people of Arkansas would not atone for the blood of Apostle P. P. Pratt. He also justified and palliated the wholesale murder of the men, women and children, in the Seventies Hall in this city before you many witnesses. These cannot be honestly denied. Everybody that cared anything about the matter believed that John D. Lee and others of the priesthood were the instigators and


It was the common belief throughout the Territory, and certainly they could not believe it, and Brigham the prophet, be ignorant. Nathaniel V. Jones told Brigham about it also, but a very few weeks after the act. He passed through the settlements there on his way to the city, and such was the murderous spirt of the brethren that he barely escaped with his own life because he denounced the deed. Threatening them with Brigham saved his life. Erastus Snow's affidavit and Wilford Woodruff's present notes of the innocency of Brigham, and John W. Young's account are worthless to any honest mind: they are ex parte.

George Q. Cannon passed through that region of country shortly after the massacre, and heard all about it. He had been editing the Western Standard in San Francisco, and was glad to return to the Territory, as such outrages were coming so rapidly he would defend them in his flashy-headed paper. He knew that the brethren did that deed; although for years after he charged it on the Indians.

Brigham, it is well known, used all his influence and the machinery of the Church to prevent the trap of the participants in the crime. The guilty parties were always warned of the approach of judge and officers. As Governor of the Territory then and for some time after, and as superintendent of Indian affairs, it was his duty to investigate the whole affair, but he connived with Lee to have it kept secret as to the brethren, and they cast all the blame on emigrants traveling through as first maltreating the Indians.

Penrose says that the court when in operation only wanted to implicate the Church authorities, and hence palliates Brigham's opposition. He asks "if Brigham Young counselled Isaac C. Haight, why should Haight be afraid of its being reported to him?" We ask if the Church authorities were not guilty, why should Brigham or the Church be afraid to be implicated, or tell Hamlin to say nothing about it until the proper time came, which the later swore Brigham said when but a "pretty short time" after he had told it all minutely to him? But the Mormon Probate Courts were in full operation at the time and had equal criminal jurisdiction with the District Courts, yet he did not think the time came until he found it necessary by outside and harassing pressure, to arrange with Attorney Howard to use John D. Lee as


Penrose quotes from the Doctrine and Covenants to prove that the Mormons do not believe in committing murder. What other church in the wide world has an article in their creed against murder? Who would think of charging a religious body with being guilty of or encouraging or palliating murder in any way, if that body was not suspected of such secret dreadful acts? But what boots it for Penrose to read from the Doctrine and Covenants that they do not believe in shedding blood or murder? Did he not two Sundays previous read from Brigham's and Jeddy's discourses that some men, apostates and the like, would yet be blood atoned when the proper time arrived? Did not Apostle John Taylor in France read from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants to prove that the immaculate Church did not believe in or practice polygamy, when he himself had TEN wives then living, and had had thirteen in his brief time? It is sheer hypocrisy and hollow deceit to read either from the Doctrine and Covenants, Book of Mormon or Bible to prove their sincerity, practices or belief. It is too thin, Brother Penrose. The books are had recourse to only that your vile and deceitful purposes may be subserved. You can say and prove from the Bible that adulterers should be killed, but you teach, solemnize and practice marriage with a man to a woman and her mother, although a few verses further on in the same chapter the Word says that the three should be burned.


He says that the blame, the guilt of the massacre should not be laid at the door of the church because certain of the perpetrators were Mormons. But there were upwards of fifty persons engaged in it who held the priesthood, and each elder has as much authority and power as an apostle. Several  
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persons, witnesses for the Church, swore that there were at least forty men of the Church there, and that it was dangerous, as we know, to refine to obey the orders given. Isaac C. Haight. W. H. Dame, John M. Higbee, and P. Klingensmith were the authorized representatives of the whole Church, and to question that, or disobey them was damnation and blood atoning. That is absolutely true, so that the whole Church, as a Church, is guilty, whether individual members are or not.

With petty quibbling he says that "the officers of the Church are not the Church; so that if Brigham Young had ordered the massacre, which he did not, it was not the work of the Church, but his individual transgression. The Church never endorsed the horrid crime and never forgave it." Now he knows that Brigham was the Church, that the First Presidency are the Church, and disobedience to them entails death here and damnation hereafter. Brigham was the head and brains, and all the body must move. The whole Church is responsible for what the officers do. The Church overlooked the horrid crime for thirteen years, and numbers of the guilty are still in it, and will remain in it until death, if not disturbed by the U. S. officers and the courts.


The reckless denier says that "Lee was taken to the Mountain Meadows, and there shot on the 23d day of March, 1878 for dramatic effect. Bishop's book (the truthful confession of Lee) is a dramatic one, and this was intended as a dramatic end to it, to extend its sales, the profits to be given to Messrs. Howard, Bishop and Nelson." Now, if the shooting at the Meadows was for dramatic effect, it was done justly and truly, nevertheless. It did not neutralize nor lessen the justice of the long delayed judgment. So, if the book of Lee's confession and his continuous obedience to a villainous priesthood was published for dramatic effect, it is none the less true and unanswerable, none the less a proof of perfidious "prophets" and a vile, Godless system of religion, keeping thousands in mental and moral slavery. But such contemptible slurs and sneering attemps at belittling, from such a depraved source as Penrose and his Church, cannot affect the honor, honesty, integrity, truthfulness and humane purposes of the Hon. Wm. W. Bishop, a man vastly superior to the detracting Penrose in intellect, education, ability and goodness.

Penrose's vileness is only equal to his falsehood. His charge that those gentlemen, Mr. Bishop and Mr. Wm. Nelson, were to share in the profits of the sale of the book, which prompted them to publish it, is not only base and untrue, but is thrown back into his face contemptuously and is only in keeping with the many denials of his discourse and his scheming Church. Mr. Nelson had nothing to do with the manuscript but to deliver it to Mr. Bishop. The latter only performed a duty to his client and to the world, and the book carries with it evidence that it is truthful and reliable—a tremendous testimony against Mormonism.