The Expulsion Of The Mormons

General Hardin announced the coming of his force, which numbered

about four hundred men, in a proclamation addressed "To the

Citizens of Hancock County," dated September 27. He called

attention to the lawless acts of the last two years by both

parties, characterizing the recent burning of houses as "acts

which disgrace your county, and are a stigma to the state, the

nation, and the age." His force would simply see that the laws

were obeyed, without taking part with either side. He forbade the

assembling of any armed force of more than four men while his

troops remained in the county, urged the citizens to attend to

their ordinary business, and directed officers having warrants

for arrests in connection with the recent disturbances to let the

attorney-general decide whether they needed the assistance of


But the citizens were in no mood for anything like a restoration

of the recent order of things, or for any compromise. The Warsaw

Signal of September 17 had appealed to the non-Mormons of the

neighboring counties to come to the rescue of Hancock, and the

citizens of these counties now began to hold meetings which

adopted resolutions declaring that the Mormons "must go," and

that they would not permit them to settle in any of the counties

interested. The most important of these meetings, held at Quincy,

resulted in the appointment of a committee of seven to visit

Nauvoo, and see what arrangements could be made with the Mormons

regarding their removal from the state. Notwithstanding their

defiant utterances, the Mormon leaders had for some time realized

that their position in Illinois was untenable. That Smith himself

understood this before his death is shown by the following entry

in his diary:--

"Feb. 20, 1844. I instructed the Twelve Apostles to send out a

delegation, and investigate the locations of California and

Oregon, and hunt out a good location where we can remove to after

the Temple is completed, and where we can build a city in a day,

and have a government of our own, get up into the mountains,

where the devil cannot dig us out, and live in a healthy climate

where we can live as old as we have a mind to."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XX, p. 819.

The Mormon reply to the Quincy committee was given under date of

September 24 in the form of a proclamation signed by President

Brigham Young.* In a long preamble it asserted the desire of the

Mormons "to live in peace with all men, so far as we can, without

sacrificing the right to worship God according to the dictates of

our own consciences"; recited their previous expulsion from their

homes, and the unfriendly view taken of their "views and

principles" by many of the people of Illinois, finally announcing

that they proposed to leave that country in the spring "for some

point so remote that there will not need to be a difficulty with

the people and ourselves." The agreement to depart was, however,

conditioned on the following stipulations: that the citizens

would help them to sell or rent their properties, to get means to

assist the widows, the fatherless, and the destitute to move with

the rest; that "all men will let us alone with their vexatious

lawsuits"; that cash, dry goods, oxen, cattle, horses, wagons,

etc., be given in exchange for Mormon property, the exchanges to

be conducted by a committee of both parties; and that they be

subjected to no more house burnings nor other depredations while

they remained.

* Millennial Star, Vol. VI, p. 187.

The adjourned meeting at Quincy received the report of its

committee on September 26, and voted to accept the proposal of

the Mormons to move in the spring, but stated explicitly, "We do

not intend to bring ourselves under any obligation to purchase

their property, nor to furnish purchasers for the same;. but we

will in no way hinder or obstruct them in their efforts to sell,

and will expect them to dispose of their property and remove at

the time appointed." To manifest their sympathy with the

unoffending poor of Nauvoo, a committee of twenty was appointed

to receive subscriptions for their aid. The resignation of

Sheriff Backenstos was called for, and the judge of that circuit

was advised to hold no court in Hancock County that year.

The outcome of the meetings in the different counties was a

convention which met in Carthage on October 1 and 2, and at which

nine counties (Hancock not included) were represented. This

convention adopted resolutions setting forth the inability of

non-Mormons to secure justice at the hands of juries under Mormon

influence, declaring that the only settlement of the troubles

could be through the removal of the Mormons from the state, and

repudiating "the impudent assertion, so often and so constantly

put forth by the Mormons, that they are persecuted for

righteousness' sake." The counties were advised to form a

military organization, and the Mormons were warned that their

opponents "solemnly pledge ourselves to be ready to act as the

occasion may require."

Meanwhile, the commissioners appointed by Governor Ford had been

in negotiation with the Mormon authorities, and on October 1

they, too, asked the latter to submit their intentions in

writing. This they did the same day. Their reply, signed by

Brigham Young, President, and Willard Richards, Clerk,* referred

the commission to their response to the Quincy committee, and

added that they had begun arrangements to remove from the county

before the recent disturbances, one thousand families, including

the heads of the church, being determined to start in the spring,

without regard to any sacrifice of their property; that the whole

church desired to go with them, and would do so if the necessary

means could be secured by sales of their possessions, but that

they wished it "distinctly understood that, although we may not

find purchasers for our property, we will not sacrifice it or

give it away, or suffer it illegally to be wrested from us." To

this the commissioners on October 3 sent a reply, informing the

Mormons that their proposition seemed to be acquiesced in by the

citizens of all the counties interested, who would permit them to

depart in peace the next spring without further violence. They

closed as follows:--

* Text in Millennial Star, Vol. VI, p. 190.

"After what has been said and written by yourselves, it will be

confidently expected by us and the whole community, that you will

remove from the state with your whole church, in the manner you

have agreed in your statement to us. Should you not do so, we are

satisfied, however much we may deprecate violence and bloodshed,

that violent measures will be resorted to, to compel your

removal, which will result in most disastrous consequences to

yourselves and your opponents, and that the end will be your

expulsion from the state. We think that steps should be taken by

you to make it apparent that you are actually preparing to remove

in the spring.

"By carrying out, in good faith, your proposition to remove, as

submitted to us, we think you should be, and will be, permitted

to depart peaceably next spring for your destination, west of the

Rocky Mountains. For the purpose of maintaining law and order in

this county, the commanding general purposes to leave an armed

force in this county which will be sufficient for that purpose,

and which will remain so long as the governor deems it necessary.

And for the purpose of preventing the use of such force for

vexatious or improper objects, we will recommend the governor of

the state to send some competent legal officer to remain here,

and have the power of deciding what process shall be executed by

said military force.

"We recommend to you to place every possible restraint in your

power over the members of your church, to prevent them from

committing acts of aggression or retaliation on any citizens of

the state, as a contrary course may, and most probably will,

bring about a collision which will subvert all efforts to

maintain the peace in this county; and we propose making a

similar request of your opponents in this and the surrounding


"With many wishes that you may find that peace and prosperity in

the land of your destination which you desire, we have the honor

to subscribe ourselves,



On the following day these commissioners made official

announcement of the result of their negotiations, "to the

anti-Mormon citizens of Hancock and the surrounding counties."

They expressed their belief in the sincerity of the Mormon

promises; advised that the non-Mormons be satisfied with

obtaining what was practicable, even if some of their demands

could not be granted, beseeching them to be orderly, and at the

same time warning them not to violate the law, which the troops

left in the county by General Hardin would enforce at all

hazards. The report closed as follows:--

"Remember, whatever may be the aggression against you, the

sympathy of the public may be forfeited. It cannot be denied that

the burning of the houses of the Mormons in Hancock County, by

which a large number of women and children have been rendered

homeless and houseless, in the beginning of the winter, was an

act criminal in itself, and disgraceful to its perpetrators. And

it should also be known that it has led many persons to believe

that, even if the Mormons are so bad as they are represented,

they are no worse than those who have burnt their houses. Whether

your cause is just or unjust, the acts of these incendiaries have

thus lost for you something of the sympathy and good-will of your

fellow-citizens; and a resort to, or persistence in, such a

course under existing circumstances will make you forfeit all the

respect and sympathy of the community. We trust and believe, for

this lovely portion of our state, a brighter day is dawning; and

we beseech all parties not to seek to hasten its approach by the

torch of the incendiary, nor to disturb its dawn by the clash of


The Millennial Star of December 1, 1845, thus introduced this



"The following official correspondence shows that this government

has given thirty thousand American citizens THE CHOICE OF DEATH

or BANISHMENT beyond the Rocky Mountains. Of these two evils they

have chosen the least. WHAT BOASTED LIBERTY! WHAT an honor to

American character!"

The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail