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


Excerpt from "Territorial Convention." 

It will not be forgotten that fifteen years ago a war broke out between the Mormons and the U.S. Government. I call it a war because it had been so considered and designated by those in authority. It was a war without a battle. It was rather a rebellion against the United States which did not here to defend or apologize for that rebellion. It was doubtless without cause it was certainly foolish. It had been forgiven and those who participated in it were pardoned many years ago.

During that war—or rebellion— many mistaken, foolish, but honest and earnest men went to the front filled with burning zeal, and read to sacrifice and die for a cause which they believed to be unjustly assailed. And with this army of zealots who were filled with the martyr’s spirit and the fanatic’s scorn of numbers, there went a few men whose cupidity was excited by the hope of gain, or whose savage hearts swelled with a lust of rapine.

Bloody deeds were committed by these men, deeds which were over looked at the time, because most men feared their perpetrators and few men cared for the fate of the slain. What shall now prevent the advent of a score of Hickmans, who may come forward and seek exemption from punishment, seek notoriety, seek gain by swearing that they committed their deeds of blood at the instigation of men whose wealth is coveted, or whose power is envied, or whose conviction of some crime is eagerly desired and passionately pursued by many men of many motives? The Mormon people are judged abroad not by their thousands of deeds of charity and kindness, but by a few deeds of blood unjustly accredited to their leaders. You will never hear how tens of thousands of people have been brought from famine and hopeless toil to lives of peace and plenty, but you will hear of the Mormon rebellion and of Mormon outrages. You will never hear of the thousands of emigrants who have been fed and sheltered and succored, but the Mountain Meadow massacre is in every mouth.