Beginning Of Active Hostilities

Smith had shown his dominating spirit as soon as he arrived at

Far West. In April, 1838, he announced a "revelation" (Sec. 115),

commanding the building of a house of worship there, the work to

begin on July 4, the speedy building up of that city, and the

establishment of Stakes in the regions round about. This last

requirement showed once more Smith's lack of judgment, and it

became a source of irritation to the non-Mormons, as it was

thought to foreshadow a design to control the neighboring

counties. Hyde says that Smith and Rigdon deliberately planned

the scattering of the Saints beyond the borders of Clay County

with a view to political power.*

* Hyde's "Mormonism," p. 203.

In accordance with this scheme, a "revelation" of May 19 (Sec.

116), directed the founding of a town on Grand River in Daviess

County, twenty-five miles northwest of Far West. This settlement

was to be called "Adam-ondi-Ahman," "because it is the place

where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days

shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the Prophet." The "revelation"

further explains that, three years before his death, Adamcalled a

number of high priests and all of his posterity who were

righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there blessed

them. Lee (who, following the common pronunciation, writes the

name "Adam-on-Diamond") expresses the belief, which Smith

instilled into his followers, that it "was at the point where

Adam came and settled and blessed his posterity, after being

driven from the Garden of Eden. There Adam and Eve tarried for

several years, and engaged in tilling the soil." By order of the

Presidency, another town was started in Carroll County, where the

Saints had been living in peace. Immediately the new settlement

was looked upon as a possible rival of Gallatin, the county seat,

and the non-Mormons made known their objections.

* "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 91.

With Smith and Rigdon on the ground, if these men had had any

tact, or any purpose except to enforce Mormon supremacy in

whatever part of Missouri they chose to call Zion, the troubles

now foreshadowed might easily have been prevented. Every step

they took, however, was in the nature of a defiance. The sermons

preached to the Mormons that summer taught them that they would

be able to withstand, not only the opposition of the Missourians,

but of the United States, if this should be put to the test.*

* Corrill's "Brief History of the Church," p. 29.

The flock in and around Far West were under the influence of such

advice when they met on July 4 to lay the corner-stone of the

third Temple, whose building Smith had revealed, and to celebrate

the day. There was a procession, with a flagpole raising, and

Smith embraced the occasion to make public announcement of the

tithing "revelation" (although it bears a later date).

The chief feature of the day, and the one that had most influence

on the fortunes of the church, was a sermon by Sidney Rigdon,

known ever since as the "salt sermon," from the text Matt. v. 13:

"If the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?

It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be

trodden under foot of men." He first applied these words to the

men who had made trouble in the church, declaring that they ought

to be trodden under foot until their bowels gushed out, citing as

a precedent that "the apostles threw Judas Iscariot down and

trampled out his bowels, and that Peter stabbed Ananias and

Sapphira." It was what followed, however, which made the serious

trouble, a defiance to their Missouri opponents in these words:

"It is not because we cannot, if we were so disposed, enjoy both

the honors and flatteries of the world, but we have voluntarily

offered them in sacrifice, and the riches of the world also, for

a more durable substance. Our God has promised a reward of

eternal inheritance, and we have believed his promise, and,

though we wade through great tribulations, we are in nothing

discouraged, for we know he that has promised is faithful. The

promise is sure, and the reward is certain. It is because of this

that we have taken the spoiling of our goods. Our cheeks have

been given to the smiters, and our heads to those who have

plucked off the hair. We have not only, when smitten on one

cheek, turned the other, but we have done it again and again,

until we are weary of being smitten, and tired of being trampled

upon. We have proved the world with kindness; we have suffered

their abuse, without cause, with patience, and have endured

without resentment, until this day, and still their persecution

and violence does not cease. But from this day and this hour, we

will suffer it no more.

"We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we

warn all men, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more

for ever, for, from this hour, we will bear it no more. Our

rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity. The man, or

set of men, who attempt it, DOES IT AT THE EXPENSE OF THEIR

LIVES. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us, it shall be



WILL HAVE TO EXTERMINATE US; for we will carry the seat of war to

their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the

other SHALL BE UTTERLY DESTROYED. Remember it then, all men.

"We will never be aggressors; we will infringe on rights of no

people; but shall stand for our own until death. We claim our own

rights, and are willing that all shall enjoy theirs.

"No man shall be at liberty to come in our streets, to threaten

us with mobs, for if he does, he shall atone for it before he

leaves the place; neither shall he be at liberty to vilify or

slander any of us, for suffer it we will not in this place.

"We therefore take all men to record this day, as did our

fathers. And we pledge this day to one another, our fortunes, our

lives, and our sacred honors, to be delivered from the

persecutions which we have had to endure for the last nine years,

or nearly that. Neither will we indulge any man, or set of men,

in instituting vexatious lawsuits against us to cheat us out of

our just rights. If they attempt it we say, woe be unto them. We

this day then proclaim ourselves free, with a purpose and a

determination that never can be broken, no never, NO NEVER, NO


Ebenezer Robinson in The Return (Vol I, p. 170) says:--

"Let it be distinctly understood that President Rigdon was not

alone responsible for the sentiment expressed in his oration, as

that was a carefully prepared document previously written, and

well understood by the First Presidency; but Elder Rigdon was the

mouthpiece to deliver it, as he was a natural orator, and his

delivery was powerful and effective.

"Several Missouri gentlemen of note, from other counties, were

present on the speaker's stand at its delivery, with Joseph

Smith, Jr., President, and Hyrum Smith, Vice President of the

day; and at the conclusion of the oration, when the president of

the day led off with a shout of 'Hosannah, Hosannah, Hosannah,'

and joined in the shout by the vast multitude, these Missouri

gentlemen began to shout 'hurrah,' but they soon saw that did not

time with the other, and they ceased shouting. A copy of the

oration was furnished the editor, and printed in the Far West, a

weekly newspaper printed in Liberty, the county seat of Clay

county. It was also printed in pamphlet form, by the writer of

this, in the printing office of the Elders' Journal, in the city

of Far West, a copy of which we have preserved.

"This oration, and the stand taken by the church in endorsing it,

and its publication, undoubtedly exerted a powerful influence in

arousing the people of the whole upper Missouri country."

At the trial of Rigdon, when he was cast out at Nauvoo, Young and

others held him alone responsible for this sermon, and declared

that it was principally instrumental in stirring up the

hostilities that ensued.

A state election was to be held in Missouri early in August, and

there was a good deal of political feeling. Daviess County was

pretty equally divided between Whigs and Democrats, and the vote

of the Mormons was sought by the leaders of both parties. In

Caldwell County the Saints were classed as almost solidly

Democratic. When election day came, the Danites in the latter

county distributed tickets on which the Presidency had agreed,

but this resulted in nothing more serious than some criticism of

this interference of the church in politics. But in Daviess

County trouble occurred.

The Mormons there were warned by the Democrats that the Whigs

would attempt to prevent their voting at Gallatin. Of the ten

houses in that town at the time, three were saloons, and the

material for an election-day row was at hand. It began with an

attack on a Mormon preacher, and ended in a general fight, in

which there were many broken heads, but no loss of life; after

which, says Lee, who took part in it, "the Mormons all voted."*

* Smith's autobiography says, "Very few of the brethren voted."

Exaggerated reports of this melee reached Far West, and Dr.

Avard, collecting a force of 150 volunteers, and accompanied by

Smith and Rigdon, started for Daviess County for the support of

their brethren. They came across no mob, but they made a tactical

mistake. Instead of disbanding and returning to their homes,

they, the next morning (following Smith's own account)* "rode out

to view the situation." Their ride took them to the house of a

justice of the peace, named Adam Black, who had joined a band

whose object was the expulsion of the Mormons. Smith could not

neglect the opportunity to remind the justice of his violation of

his oath, and to require of him some satisfaction, "so that we

might know whether he was our friend or enemy." With this view

they compelled him to sign what they called "an agreement of

peace," which the justice drew up in this shape:--

* Millennial Star, Vol. XVI, p. 229.

"I, Adam Black, A Justice of the Peace of Davies County, do

hereby Sertify to the people called Mormin that he is bound to

suport the constitution of this state and of the United States,

and he is not attached to any mob, nor will not attach himself to

any such people, and so long as they will not molest me I will

not molest them. This the 8th day of August, 1838.


When the Mormon force returned to Far West, the Daviess people

secured warrants for the arrest of Smith, L. Wight, and others,

charging them with violating the law by entering another county

armed, and compelling a justice of the peace to obey their

mandate, Black having made an affidavit that he was compelled to

sign the paper in order to save his life. Wight threatened to

resist arrest, and this caused such a gathering of Missourians

that Smith became alarmed and sent for two lawyers, General D. R.

Atchison and General Doniphan, to come to Far West as his legal

advisers.* Acting on their advice, the accused surrendered

themselves, and were bound over to court in $500 bail for a

hearing on September 7.

* General Atchison was the major general in command of that

division of the state militia. His early reports to the governor

must be read in the light of his association with Smith as

counsel. General Douiphan afterward won fame at Chihuahua in the

Mexican War.

Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion Blood Atonement facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail