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



The Mountain Meadow Massacre—Popular Sovereignty.

Do I discredit the tales of Mormon outrages and crime—of the murder of the Parishes, the Mountain meadow massacre, &c., &c.—wherewith the general ear has recently been shocked? No I do not. Some of these may have been fabricated by Gentile malice—others are doubtless exaggerated—but there is some basis of truth for the current Gentile conviction that Mormons have robbed, maimed, and even killed persons in this Territory, under circumstances which should subject the pertrators to condign punishment, but that Mormon witnesses, grand jurors, petit jurors and magistrates determinedly screen the guilty. I deeply regret the necessity of believing this: but the facts are incontestable. That a large party of emigrants—not less than eightyfrom Arkansas to California, were foully massacred at Mountain Meadows in September, 1857, more immediately by Indians, but under the direct inspiration and direction of the Mormon settlers in that vicinityto whom, and not to the savages, the emigrants had surrendered, after a siege on the strength of assurances that their lives at least should be spared—is established by evidence that cannot (I think) be invalidated—the evidence of conscience—smitten partakers in the crime, both Indian and ex-Mormon, and of children of the slaughtered emigrants, who were spared as too young to be dangerous even as witnesses, of whom the majority have been sent down to the States as unable to give testimony—but two boys retained here as witnesses, who distinctly remember that their parents surrendered to white men, and that these white men at best did not attempt to prevent their perfidious massacre. Those children, moreover, were all found in the possession of Mormons—not one of them in the hands of the Indians—and, though the Mormons say they ransomed them from the hands of Indians, the children deny it, saying that they never lived with nor were in the keeping of savages; and the Indians bear current testimony. So in the Parish case: The family had been Mormons, but had apostatized—and undertook to return to the States; they were warned that they would be killed if they persisted in that resolution—they did persist, and were killed. Of course, nobody will ever be convicted of their murder; but those who warned them of the fate on which they were rushing know why they were killed, and could discover, if they would, who killed them.

The vital fact in the case is just this: The great mass of these people, as a body, mean to be hones, just and humane; but they are, before and above all things else, Latter-day Saints, or Mormons. They devoutly believe that they are God's peculiar and especial people, doing His work, up-building His kingdom, and basking in the sunshine of His peculiar favor. Whoever obstructs or impedes them in this work, then, is God's enemy, who must be made to get out of the way of the establishment of Christ's kingdom on earth—made to do so by lawful and peaceful means if possible, but by any means that my ultimately be found necessary. The Parishes were apostles; had they been allowed to pursue their journey to the States, they would have met many Saints coming up the road, whose minds they would have troubled, if not poisoned; and they would have told stories after reaching their destination which would have deepened the general prejudice against the Saints: so the upbuilding and well-being of Christ's kingdom required that they should die. The Arkansas emigrants had in some way abused the Saints, or interposed obstacles to the progress of God's work and they were consequently give over to destruction. Far be it from me to hint that one-fifth, one-tenth, one-twentieth, of the Mormons ever bore any part in these bloody deeds, or even know to this day that they were perpetrated. The great body of the Saints undoubtingly believed all the current imputations of Mormon homicide and outrage to be abominable calumnies. Many of the highest dignitaries of the church may be included in this number. But there are men in the Church who know they are not calumnies—who know that Gentiles and apostates have been killed for the Church's and for Christ's sake, and who firmly believe that they ought to have been. I grieve to say it, but I hold these more consistent and logical Mormons than their innocent and unconscious brethren. For if I were a Latter-Day Saint undoubtingly believing all opposers of the Mormon Church to be God's enemies, obnoxious to His wrath and curse, and powerfully obstructing the rescue of souls from eternal perdition and torture, I should be strongly impelled to help but those opposers of God's purposes out of the way of sending more immortal souls to everlasting fire. I should feel it my duty so to act, as a lover of God and man. And I confidently predict that not one Mormon who has killed a Gentile or apostate under a like view of his duty will ever be fairly convicted in this Territory. No jury can be drawn here, unless in flagrant defiance of the Territorial laws, which is not mainly composed of Mormons; and no such jury will convict a Mormon of crime for any act done in behalf of God's kingdom—that is, of the Mormon Church.

I ask, then, that the advocates of "Popular Sovereignty" in the Territories to say what they propose to do in the premises. How do they intend to adapt their principle to the existing state of facts? They have sent hither a batch of Judges, who would like to earn their salaries; but the Mormon Legislature devotes its sessions principally to the work of crippling and fettering these Judges so that they shall remain here as mere dummies or be driven into resignation. Their juries are drawn for them by Mormon officials, under regulations which virtually exclude all but Mormons from each panel; it is a violation of the laws of Utah to cite in argument before any Judge or jury here the decision of any court—even the Supreme Court of the United States—but the courts of Utah; so that even the Dred Scott decision could not be lawfully cited here in a Fugitive Slave case: in short, the Federal Judiciary, the Federal Executive, and the Federal Army, as now existing in Utah, are three transparent shams—three egregious farces; they are costing the Treasury very large sums to no purpose; and the sooner the Governor, marshal, Judges, &c., resign, and the Army is withdrawn, the better for all but a handful of contractors. "Popular Sovereignty" has such full swing here that Brigham Young carries the Territory in his breeches pocket without a shadow of opposition; he governs without responsibility to either law or public opinion; for there is no real power here but that of "the Church" and he is practically the Church. The Church is rich, and is hourly increasing in wealth; the Church settles all civil controversies which elsewhere cause lawsuits; the Church spends little or nothing, yet rules everything; while the Federal Government, though spending two or three millions per annum here, and keeping up a fussy parade of authority, is powerless and despised. If, then, we are to have "popular Sovereignty" in the Territories, let us have it pure and without shams. Let Brigham be re-appointed Governor; withdraw the present Federal office-holders and Army, open shorter and better roads to California through the country north of Bridger and notify the emigrants that if those choose to pass through Utah, they will do so at their own risk. Let the Mormons have the Territory to themselves—it is worth very little to others, but the reduce its area by cutting off the Carson Valley on the one side and making a Rocky Mountain Territory on the other, and then let them go on their way rejoicing. I believe this is not only by far the cheapest but the safest and best mode of dealing with the difficulties already developed and daily developing here, unless the notion of "Popular Sovereignty" in the Territories is to be utterly exploded and given up. "Popular Sovereignty" in a Territory is a contradiction in terms; but "Popular Sovereignty" in a Territory backed by a thousand sharp Federal bayonets and a battery of flying artillery is too monstrous a futility, too transparent a swindle to be much longer upheld or tolerated. H.G.