General conference at Preston, England — Publishing committee — Editorial appointment — First number of the “Millennial Star” issued — My own ministry in Manchester and vicinity — New hymn book — Action of Congress on the Missouri tragedies.
April 15, 1840—July 1840
(Contains Congressional report dated March 4, 1840, reviewing the period of 1831 to July 1839)
On the 15th of April, 1840, a general conference was convened in the “Temperance Hall,” Preston, Lancashire, in which thirty-three branches of the Church were represented, including a total of near two thousand members.
In this conference, Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and myself were appointed a publishing committee for the Church. I was also appointed editor and publisher of a monthly periodical, to be called the Millennial Star.
While the residue of the committee travelled in the ministry, I repaired to Manchester and commenced preparing to fulfil my new appointments.
The first number of the Star was issued in May. The following hymn was written by myself expressly for the introduction of this periodical, and originally appeared on its cover: 1
The morning breaks, the shadows flee;
Lo! Zion’s standard is unfurled!
The dawning of a brighter day
Majestic rises on the world.
The clouds of error disappear
Before the rays of truth divine;
The glory, bursting from afar,
Wide o’er the nations soon will shine.
The Gentile fulness now comes in,
And Israel’s blessings are at hand;
Lo! Judah’s remnant, cleans’d from sin,
Shall in their promised Canaan stand.
Jehovah speaks! Let earth give ear,
And Gentile nations turn and live!
His mighty arm is making bare,
His covenant people to receive,
Angels from heaven, and truth from earth
Have met, and both have record borne;
Thus Zion’s light is bursting forth,
To bring her ransomed children home.
While engaged in editing and publishing the Star I also preached the gospel continually to vast congregations in and about Manchester, and the spirit of joy, and faith and gladness was greatly increased, and the number of the Saints was multiplied. I also assisted my brethren in selecting, compiling and publishing a hymn book. In this work was contained nearly fifty of my original hymns and songs, composed expressly for the book, and most of them written during the press of duties which then crowded upon me.
In the third number of the Star, 2 page 65, is published the final action of the Congress of the United States, on the subject of the outrages committed by the State of Missouri, upon the Church of the Saints. It reads as follows:
“Twenty-Sixth Congress, First Session”
“In Senate of the United States, March 4, 1840. Submitted, laid on the table, and ordered to be printed, Mr. Wall made the following report:
“The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the Memorial of a Delegation of the Latter-day Saints, report:
“The petition of the memorialists sets forth, in substance, that a portion of their sect commenced a settlement in the County of Jackson, in the State of Missouri, in the summer of 1831; that they bought lands, built houses, erected churches and established their homes, and engaged in all the various occupations of life; that they were expelled from that county in 1833 by a mob, under circumstances of great outrage, cruelty and oppression, and against all law, and without any offence committed on their part; and to the destruction of property to the amount of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars; that the society thus expelled amounted to about twelve thousand souls; that no compensation was ever made for the destruction of their property in Jackson County; that after their expulsion from Jackson, they settled in Clay County, on the opposite side of the Missouri River, where they purchased lands, and entered others at the land office, where they resided peaceably for three years, engaged in cultivation and other useful and active employments, when the mob again threatened their peace, lives and property, and they became alarmed, and finally made a treaty with the citizens of Clay County, that they should purchase their lands, and the Saints should remove, which was complied with on their part, and the Saints removed to the County of Caldwell, where they took up their abode, and reestablished their settlement, not without having pecuniary losses and other inconveniences; that the citizens of Clay County never paid them for their lands, except for a small part.
“They remained in Caldwell from 1836 until the fall of 1838; and, during that time, had acquired by purchase from the Government, the settlers and pre-emptionists, almost all the lands in the County of Caldwell, and a portion of the lands in Davies and Carroll Counties — the former county being almost entirely settled by the Saints, and they were rapidly filling up the two latter counties.
“Those counties, where the Saints first commenced their settlements, were for the most part wild and uncultivated, and they had converted them into large and well improved farms, well stocked.
“Lands had risen in value to ten, and even twenty-five dollars per acre; and those counties were rapidly advancing in cultivation and wealth.
“That in August, 1838, a riot commenced, growing out of an attempt of a Saint to vote, which resulted in creating great excitement, and the perpetration of many scenes of lawless outrage, which are set forth in the petition. That they were finally compelled to fly from those counties, and on the 11th of October, 1838, they sought safety by that means, with their families, leaving many of their effects behind. That they had previously applied to the constituted authorities of Missouri for protection, but in vain.
“They allege that they were pursued by the mob, that conflicts ensued, deaths occurred on each side; and, finally, a force was organized under the authority of the Governor of the State of Missouri, with orders to drive the Saints from the State, or to exterminate them. The Saints thereupon determined to make no further resistance; but to submit themselves to the authorities of the State. Several of the Saints were arrested and imprisoned, on a charge of treason against the State; and the rest, amounting to about fifteen thousand souls, fled into other States; principally in Illinois, where they now reside.
“The petition is drawn up at great length, and sets forth with feeling and eloquence the wrongs of which they complain; justifies their own conduct, and aggravates that of those whom they call their persecutors; and concludes by saying that they see no redress, unless it is obtained of the Congress of the United States, to whom they make their solemn, last appeal, as American citizens, as Christians, and as men; to which decision they say they will submit.
“The committee have examined the case presented by the petition, and heard the views urged by their agent with care and attention; and, after full consideration, unanimously concur in the opinion, that the case presented for their investigation, is not such a one as will justify or authorize any interposition by this Government.
“The wrongs complained of are not alleged to have been committed by any of the officers of the United States, or under the authority of its Government, in any manner whatever. The allegations in the petition relate to the acts of the citizens, and inhabitants, and authorities of the State of Missouri, of which State the petitioners were, at the time, citizens or inhabitants. The grievances complained of in the petition are alleged to have been done within the territory of the State of Missouri. The committee, under these circumstances, have not considered themselves justified in enquiring into the truth or falsehood of the facts charged in the petition. If they are true, the petitioners must seek relief in the courts of judicature of the State of Missouri; or of the United States, which has the appropriate jurisdiction to administer full and adequate redress for the wrongs complained of; and, doubtless, will do so fairly and impartially; or the petitioners may, if they see proper, apply to the justice and magnanimity of the State of Missouri; an appeal which the committee feel justified in believing will never be made in vain by the injured or oppressed. It can never be presumed that a State either wants the power, or lacks the disposition, to redress the wrongs of its own citizens, committed within her own territory; whether they proceed from the lawless acts of her officers, or any other persons.
“The committee therefore report, that they recommend the passage of the following resolution:
“Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be discharged from the further consideration of the memorial in this case; and that the memorialists have leave to withdraw the papers which accompany their memorial.”
The action of the general Government on this momentous subject, establishes the precedent that there is no power in the Government to carry out the principles of its own Constitution. Fifteen thousand citizens of the United States can be murdered, robbed, plundered, driven from their lands, or disinherited, while the Constitution guarantees to them liberty and protection, and yet there is no power to protect or reinstate them. Congress only mocks them by referring them to their murderers for redress. It seems almost superfluous to say that the Saints appealed to a higher tribunal — even the throne of God, where the case is yet pending; and that the Congress of the United States are charged with being accessory to these highest crimes known to the laws of God and man. They hold in
fellowship this guilty partner — Missouri — after knowing her to be a wholesale murderer and land pirate. 3
As the case is yet pending before the court of Heaven, we will drop the subject and proceed with our own history.
3 Parley partook firsthand of the trials and persecutions in Missouri, including unjust imprisonment for more than eight months. He added this report to his autobiography because he wanted his work to stand as a witness against Missouri that its treatment of the Saints was unjust, unlawful, and unpunished, and that the court of heaven will not forget what happened there.