On 22nd September, 1827, Joseph Smith claimed that an angel, Moroni, had directed him to a collection of engraved golden tablets that had been buried in a hill near Palmyra, New York. Smith argued that a prophet named Mormon had produced the tablets over a thousand years ago. The tablets contained the history of Native Americans and according to Smith these people were the descendants of ancient Hebrews who had arrived in America to spread the word of God.

Smith published the Book of Mormon in 1830. Later that year he founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fayette, New York. The headquarters of the church was moved to Kirkland, Ohio, in 1831. The Mormons were forced west in order to achieve freedom from persecution. In 1834 Smith and his loyal follower, Brigham Young, went on a Mormon march to Missouri. This became the new headquarters until the Mormons moved to Illinois in 1840 where they established the community of Nanvoo.

By 1843 the Mormons had over 20,000 members. Mormon views on plural marriage created a great deal of local hostility although Joseph Smith himself only acknowledged one wife, Emma Hale Smith, who bore him nine children. When the local newspaper criticised Mormon men for having several wives, Smith ordered some of his followers to destroy its printing press. Smith and his brother, Hyrum Smith, were imprisoned for the crime. On 27th June, 1844, 150 masked men broke into Carthage jail and killed Smith and his brother.

After the death of Smith Brigham Young emerged as the new leader of the Mormons. Driven out of Illinois, Young led the expedition to the Rocky Mountains. He selected Salt Lake in Utah as the main gathering place of the Mormons and in December, 1847 became president of the church.

In 1850 President Millard Fillmore appojnted Young as governor of Utah. He held the position until 1857 when President James Buchanan sent in federal troops led by General Albert S. Johnson to remove him from office.

This action upset the Mormons and some men became guerrilla fighters. In March, 1857, Alexander Fancher and his wagon train left Fort Smith, Arkansas, for California. The party included 50 men, 40 women and 50 children. On 7th September, Fancher's party was attacked by local Native Americans. Fancher corralled their wagons and were able to defend themselves against these attacks.

Mormons approached the Fancher party and offered to lead them to safety. However, it was a trick and all the party, except for 17 infants, were murdered. John D. Lee, the Mormon leader, was eventually executed for his role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

In September, 1861, Patrick Connor of the 3rd California Infantry, became commander of the military district of Utah and Nevada. The 3rd California Infantry's primary duty was to protect the Overland Mail between Fort Churchill, Nevada, and South Pass, Wyoming, from Indian attack. Mormons complained about the activities of Connor claiming that he took measures to reduce church influence by exploring and developing the territory's mineral wealth.

At the end of the American Civil War Connor left the army. He settled in Salt Lake City and continued his attacks on Brigham Young and the Mormons. In 1870 he joined with others to establish the Utah Liberal Party and took on the Mormon People's Party in local elections.

Although denied political office, Young remained president of the Mormon church. A supporter of the doctrine of plural marriage, Young had over wives and was the father of 56 children. Brigham Young died in Salt Lake City on 29th August, 1877. By this time he had acquired a considerable fortune and left over $2,500,000 to his wives and children. He had also directed the founding of more than 350 Mormon communities in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming and California.

Primary Sources

(1) George Ruxton, Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains (1847)

Joe Smith, on whom the mantle of Moses had so suddenly fallen, carefully removed the plates and hid them, burying himself in woods and mountains whilst engaged in the work of translation. However, he made no secret of the important task imposed upon him, nor of the great work to which he had been called. Numbers at once believed him, but not a few were deaf to belief, and openly derided him. Being persecuted (as the sect declares, at the instigation of the authorities), and many attempts being made to steal his precious treasure, Joe, one fine night, packed his plates in a sack of beans, bundled them into a Jersey waggon, and made tracks for the West. Here he completed the great work of translation, and not long after gave to the world the "Book of Mormon," a work as bulky as the Bible, and called "of Mormon," for so was the prophet named by whose hand the history of the lost tribes had been handed down in the plates of brass thus miraculously preserved for thousands of years, and brought to light through the agency of Joseph Smith.

The fame of the Book of Mormon spread over all America, and even to Great Britain and Ireland. Hundreds of proselytes

flocked to Joe, to hear from his lips the doctrine of Mormonism; and in a very brief period the Mormons became a numerous and recognised sect, and Joe was at once, and by universal acclamation, installed as the head of the Mormon church, and was ever known by the name of the "Prophet Joseph."

(2) Horace Greeley interviewed Brigham Young for the New York Tribune in 1859.

Horace Greeley: What is the position of your church with respect to slavery?

Brigham Young: We consider it of divine institution and not to be abolished until the curse pronounced on Ham shall have been removed from his descendants.

Horace Greeley: Are any slaves now held in this territory?

Brigham Young: There are.

Horace Greeley: Do your territorial laws uphold slavery?

Brigham Young: These laws are printed; you can read for yourself. If slaves are brought here by those who owned them in the states, we do not favor their escape from the service of those owners.

Horace Greeley: How general is polygamy among you?

Brigham Young: I could not say. Some of those present (heads of the church) have each but one wife; others have more; each determines what is is his individual duty.

Horace Greeley: What is the largest number of wives belonging to any one man.

Brigham Young: I have fifteen; I know no one who has more; but some of those sealed to me are old ladies whom I regard rather as mothers than wives, but whom I have taken home to cherish and support.

(3) Brigham Young, speech (10th January, 1870)

Since the day that we first trod the soil of these valleys, have we received any assistance from our neighbors? No, we have not. We have built our homes, our cities, have made our farms, have dug our canals and water ditches, have subdued this barren country, have fed the stranger, have clothed the naked, have immigrated the poor from foreign lands, have placed them in a condition to make all comfortable and have made some rich. We have fed the Indians to the amount of thousands of dollars yearly, have clothed them in part, and have sustained several Indian wars, and now we have built thirty-seven miles of railroad.

All this having been done, are not our cities, our counties and the Territory in debt? No, not the first dollar. But the question may be asked, is not the Utah Central Railroad in debt ? Yes, but to none but our own people.

(4) William Clayton, was a member of the Mormon Church who migrated west with Brigham Young. Diary entry in 1847.

Sunday, 18th... At 5:00 in the morning the bugle is to be sounded as a signal tor every man to arise and attend prayers before he leaves his wagon. Then cooking, eating, feeding teams, etc., till seven o'clock, at which time the camp is to move at the sound of the bugle. Each teamster to keep beside his wagon, with his loaded gun in his hands or in his wagon where he can get it in a moment. The extra men, each to walk opposite his wagon with his loaded gun on his shoulder, and no man to be permitted to leave his wagon unless he obtains permission from his officer. In case of an attack from Indians or hostile appearances, the wagons to travel in double file. The order of encampment to be in a circle with the mouth of the wagon to the outside, and the horses and stock tied inside the circle. At 8:30 p.m. the bugle to be sounded again at which time all to have prayers in their wagons and to retire to rest by nine o'clock.

(5) Thomas L. Kane, The Mormons (1850)

There was something joyous for me in my free rambles about this vast body of pilgrims. I could range the wild country wherever I listed, under safeguard of their moving host. Not only in the main camps was all stir and life, but in every direction, it seemed to me, I could follow "Mormon Roads," and find them beaten hard and even dusty by the tread and wear of the cattle and vehicles of emigrants laboring over them. By day, I would overtake and pass, one after another, what amounted to an army train of them; and at night, if I encamped at the places where the timber and running water were found together, I was almost sure to be within call of some camp or other, or at least within sight of its watch-fires.

Wherever I was compelled to tarry, I was certain to find shelter and hospitality, scant, indeed, but never stinted, and always honest and kind. After a recent unavoidable association with the border inhabitants of Western Missouri and Iowa, the vile scum which our own society, to apply the words of an admirable gentleman and eminent divine, "like the great ocean washes upon its frontier shores," I can scarcely describe the gratification I felt in associating again with persons who were almost all of Eastern American origin - persons of refined and cleanly habits and decent language - and observing their peculiar and interesting mode of life; - while every day seemed to bring with it its own especial incident, fruitful in the illustration of habits and character.

The desert march, the ford, the quicksand, the Indian battle, the bison chase, the prairie fire: - the adventures of the Mormons comprised every variety of these varieties; but I could not hope to invest them with the interest of novelty. The character of their every-day life, its routine and conduct, alone offered any exclusive or marked peculiarity. Their romantic devotional observances, and their admirable concert of purpose and action, met the eye at once. After these, the stranger was most struck perhaps by the strict order of march, the unconfused closing up to meet attack, the skilful securing of the cattle upon the halt, the system with which the watches were set at night to guard them and the lines of corral - with other similar circumstances indicative of the maintenance of a high state of discipline. Every ten of their wagons was under the care of a captain. This captain of ten, as they termed him, obeyed a captain of fifty; who, in turn, obeyed his captain of a hundred, or directly a member of what they call the High Council of the Church. All these were responsible and determined men, approved of by the people for their courage, discretion and experience. So well recognized were the results of this organization, that bands of hostile Indians have passed by comparative small parties of Mormons, to attack much larger, but less compact bodies of other emigrants.

(6) Howard Stansbury, Exploration and Survey of the Valley of Utah (March, 1851)

In a short time after the arrival of the pioneer company, ground was surveyed and laid out into streets and squares for a large city; a fort or enclosure was erected, of houses made of logs and sun-dried brick, opening into a large square, the entrance to which was defended by gates, and formed a tolerably secure fortification against Indian attacks. In October following, an addition of between three and four thousand was made to their number, by the emigration of such as had been left behind, and the fort was necessarily enlarged for their accommodation. Agricultural labours were now resumed with renewed spirit; ploughing and planting continued throughout the whole winter and until the July following, by which time a line of fence had been constructed, enclosing upward of six thousand acres of land, laid down in crops, besides a large tract of pasture land. During the winter and spring, the inhabitants were much straitened for food; and game being very scarce in the country, they were reduced to the necessity of digging roots from the ground, and living upon the hides of animals which they had previously made use of for roofing their cabins, but which were now torn off for food. But this distress only continued until the harvest, since which time provisions of all kinds have been abundant.

This year (1848), a small grist-mill was erected, and two saw-mills nearly completed. The following winter and spring, a settlement was commenced on the banks of the Weber River, a bold, clear stream which breaks through the Wahsatch Mountains, forty miles north of the city, and discharges its water into the Salt Lake.

Upon Ogden Creek, an affluent of the Weber, a city has since (1850) been laid out, and called Ogden City, and is already surrounded by a flourishing agricultural population.

In the autumn, another large immigration arrived under the president, Brigham Young, which materially added to the strength of the colony. Building and agriculture were prosecuted with renewed vigour. Numerous settlements continued to be made wherever water could be found for irrigation. A handsome council-house was commenced, to be built of red sandstone procured from the neighboring mountain, and two grist-mills and three sawmills, added to those already in operation. The winter of this year was much more severe than the preceding one, and snow fell on the plain to the depth of ten inches.

In the following spring (1849) a settlement was commenced and a small fort built near the mouth of the Timpanogas or Provaux, an affluent of Lake Utah, about fifty miles south of the city. During this summer, large crops of grain, melons, potatoes, and corn were raised, and two more sawmills were erected.

The colony had now become firmly established, and all fears of its ability to sustain itself were, from the overflowing abundance of the harvest, set at rest. Nothing could be more natural than that the people should turn their attention to the formation of a system of civil government. Hitherto they had been under the guidance of their ecclesiastical leaders only, and justice had been administered upon principles of equity simply, enforced by the government of the church alone. This would answer very well while the community remained small... but as the colony increased, it was not to be expected that it would continue to consist solely of members of the church', willing to submit to such a jurisdiction, without the sanctions of an organized civil government.

A convention was therefore called "of all the citizens of that portion of Upper California lying east of the Sierra Nevada mountains, to take into consideration the propriety of organizing a Territorial or State government."

A city had been laid out upon a magnificent scale, being nearly four miles in length and three in breadth; the streets at right angles with each' other, eight rods or one hundred and thirty-two feet wide, with sidewalks of twenty feet... By an ordinance of the city, each house is to be placed twenty feet back from the front line of the lot, the intervening space being designed for shrubbery and trees. The site for the city is most beautiful: it lies at the western base of the Wahsatch Mountains, in a curve formed by the projection westward from the main range, of a lofty spur which forms its southern boundary... Through the city itself flows an unfailing stream of pure, sweet water, which, by an ingenious mode of irrigation, is made to traverse each side of every street, whence it is led into every garden-spot, spreading life, verdure, and beauty over what was heretofore a barren waste...

The facilities for beautifying this admirable site are manifold. The irrigating canals, which flow before every door, furnish an abundance of water for the nourishment of shade-trees, and the open space before each building, and the pavement before it, when planted with shrubbery and adorned with flowers, will make this one of the most lovely spots between the Mississippi and the Pacific.

(7) Daniel D. McArthur, report sent to Brigham Young (1856)

On the 19th of May, 1856, our company, which had crossed the sea with us, were divided, by President Daniel Spencer, into two handcart companies. Brother Edmond Ellsworth to take charge of the first and I, Daniel D. McArthur, to take charge of the second company. Then every move was made to get our carts ready, which job was a tedious one, but by using all our efforts, the first company was enabled to start on the 9th of June, and the second on the 11th, about 11 o'clock. This second company numbered 222 souls, and were bound for Florence, and from thence to the Valley, at which place, (Florence) we arrived on the 8th day of July, distance 300 miles, or there abouts. We had the very best of good luck all the way, although the weather was very hot and sweltering, but let me tell you, the Saints were not to be overcome. Our carts, when we started, were in an awful fix. They moaned and growled, screeched and squealed, so that a person could hear them for miles. You may think this is stretching things a little too much, but it is a fact, and we had them to eternally patch, mornings, noons and nights. But by our industry we got them all along to Florence, and being obliged to stop at Florence some two weeks to get our outfit for the plains, I and my council, namely, Truman Leonard and Spencer Crandall, went to work and gave our carts a thorough repair throughout, and on the 24th of July, at 12 o'clock, we struck our tents and started for the plains, all in the best of spirits. Nothing but the very best of luck attended us continually. Our train consisted of 12 yoke of oxen, 4 wagons, and 48 carts; we also had 5 beef and 12 cows; flour, 55 lbs. per head, 100 lbs. rice, 550 lbs. sugar, 440 lbs. dried apples, 125 lbs. tea, and 200 Ibs. salt for the company. On the 28th of August, we arrived at Laramie, and on the 2nd of September we met the first provision wagons from the Valley. On Deer Creek we got 1000 lbs. of flour, which caused the hearts of the saints to be cheered up greatly. On the 14th we camped at Pacific Spring Creek, and there I took in 1000 lbs. of more flour, so as to be sure to have enough to do me until we got into the Valley, tor I was told that that would be the last opportunity to get it. On the 20th we reached Fort Bridger, and on the 26th of September, we arrived in this Valley, with only the loss of 8 souls. Seven died, and one, a young man, age 20 years, we never could tell what did become of him... We laid still 5 Sundays and three week days all day, besides other short stops while traveling from the Missouri River here.

(8) Nelson Lee, Three Years Among the Comanches (1859)

The contour of their features, and especially their red hair, indicated the race to which they belonged, beyond mistake. At the next festival of the full moon, where all, bond and free, were permitted to mingle and converse, I found, to my surprise, they could speak English. It was the first time since my capture that I had heard the accents of my native tongue. The oldest woman had passed the age of sixty, and her name was Mrs. Marietta Haskins. The two younger were her daughters, the oldest, Margaret, perhaps, twenty-one, the other, Harriet, three years her junior. They appeared to be persons who had been brought up in humble circumstances, though possessing a fair share of intelligence. The following is, substantially, the version of their story.

They were natives of one of the midland counties of England, where they occupied an obscure, though comfortable position in life. While thus situated, happy and contented with their lot, there came into the vicinity of their residence, one of the Latter-Day Saints, preaching and expounding the Mormon doctrines. His arguments were so ingenious - his appeals so eloquent and earnest - his description of the valley of the Great Salt Lake so glowing that many of the poor people listened and were converted. He represented the climate as more salubrious - the soil more fertile - the scenery more delicious than in any other region of the world. He portrayed, in fascinating colours, the life of ease and luxury the poorest thrall in England might lead in that favored land - where wild herds, the common property of all, darkened a thousand hills, and the bountiful earth yielded its fruits without toil.

(9) Fanny Stenhouse, A Lady's Life Among the Mormons (1872)

Soon after my arrival in Salt Lake City, I visited a family where there were five wives, three of whom I met on my first visit. They were all three intelligent women; but it pained me very much to see the sorrow depicted on the face of the first wife. She appeared to me to be suffering intensely while I was there; for the last wife, who seemed to be a thoughtless, lively girl, was jesting with her husband, toying with his hair, and fussing with him in general, in a manner which I felt at the time was quite out of place, even had she been his only wife. Under the circumstances, it was to me terribly offensive; and I felt that, if I had been the first wife, I should have annihilated her, could I have done so.

My sympathies then were all with the first wife. In fact, they have been always so, to a very great extent. But I also feel deeply for young girls, who contract such marriages from a sincere conviction that they are doing what is right, and what will be most pleasing in the sight of God. Then there are women who ignore religion, and every thing else, in the matter; all they think about is getting the man they want. These women are devoid of principle, and invariably cause trouble.

My whole soul was drawn out toward the lady whom I have just mentioned, when I saw how deeply she was suffering. I felt as it I wanted to throw my arms around her and speak words of comfort, if one in misery could console another; and resolved to become better acquainted with her. I did so, and we became very friendly. She told me of her sorrows. She thought it was very wicked of her to feel as she did, but she could not help it; and she told me that when she saw her husband so happy with the other wives, it was then that she felt most miserable, and could not hide her feelings from him. At those times, he would "sulk" with her, coming in and out of the house for days together without noticing her, and showing more than ever his fondness for the other one. She said, "I bear it as long as I can, and then I beg of him not to treat me so, as I can not live without his love."

I asked her how she could continue to love him when he treated her so?

"Oh Mrs. Stenhouse!" she said, "when he treats me at all kindly, I am satisfied. When he smiles on me, I am only too happy. When I cease to love him, then I must be dead; and even then," she added, "I think I should love him still!"

(10) Brigham Young, interviewed about the Mountain Meadows Massacre (July 30, 1875)

Question: State what you know about trains of emigrants passing through the Territory to the West, and particularly about a company from Arkansas, en route for California, passing through this city in the Summer or Fall of 1857?

Answer: As usual, emigrants' trains were passing through our Territory for the west. I heard it rumored that a company from Arkansas, en route to California, had passed through the city.

Question: Was this Arkansas company of emigrants ordered away from Salt Lake City by yourself or any one in authority under you?

Answer: No, not that I know of. I never heard of any such thing, and certainly no such order was given by the acting Governor.

Question: Was any counsel or instructions given by any person to the citizens of Utah not to sell grain or trade with the emigrant trains passing through Utah at that time? If so, what were those instructions and counsel?

Answer: Yes, counsel and advice were given to the citizens not to sell grain to the emigrants to feed their stock, but to let them have sufficient for themselves if they were out. The simple reason for this was that for several years our crops had been short, and the prospect was at that time that we might have trouble with the United States army, then enroute for this place, and we wanted to preserve the grain for food. The citizens of the Territory were counseled not to feed grain to their own stock. No person was ever punished or called in question for furnishing supplies to the emigrants, within my knowledge.

Question: When did you first hear of the attack and destruction of this Arkansas company at Mountain Meadows, in September 1857?

Answer: I did not learn anything of the attack or destruction of the Arkansas company until some time after it occurred -- then only by floating rumor.

Question: Did John D. Lee report to you at any time after this massacre what had been done at that massacre, and if so, what did you reply to him in reference thereto?

Answer: Within some two or three months after the massacre he called at my office and had much to say with regard to the Indians, their being stirred up to anger and threatening the settlements of the whites, and then commenced giving an account of the massacre. I told him to stop, as from what I had already heard by rumor, I did not wish my feelings harrowed up with a recital of details.

(11) John D. Lee, statement before his execution for the Mountain Meadows Massacre (23rd March, 1877)

I feel resigned to my fate. I feel as calm as a summer morn, and I have done nothing intentionally wrong. My conscience is clear before God and man. I am ready to meet my Redeemer and those that have gove before me, behind the veil.

I am not an infidel. I have not denied God and his mercies. I am a strong believer in these things. Most I regret parting with my family; many of them are unprotected and will be left fatherless. When I speak of these things they touch a tender chord within me. I declare my innocence of ever doing anything designedly wrong in all this affair. I used my utmost endeavors to save those people.

I would have given worlds, were they at my command, if I could have averted that calamity, but I could not do it. It went on. It seems I have to be made a victim - a victim must be had, and I am the victim. I am sacrificed to satisfy the feelings - the vindictive feelings, or in other words, am used to gratify parties.

I am a true believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not believe everything that is now being taught and practiced by Brigham Young. I do not care who hears it. It is my last word - it is so. I believe he is leading the people astray, downward to destruction. But I believe in the gospel that was taught in its purity by Joseph Smith, in former days. I have my reasons for it.

I studied to make this man's will my pleasure for thirty years. See, now, what I have come to this day! I have been sacrificed in a cowardly, dastardly manner. I cannot help it. It is my last word - it is so.

Evidence has been brought against me which is as false as the hinges of hell, and this evidence was wanted to sacrifice me. Sacrifice a man that has waited upon them, that has wandered and endured with them in the days of adversity, true from the beginnings of the Church! And I am now singled out and am sacrificed in this manner! What confidence can I have in such a man! I have none, and I don't think my Father in heaven has any.

Still, there are thousands of people in this Church that are honorable and good-hearted friends, and some of whom are near to my heart. There is a kind of living, magnetic influence which has come over the people, and I cannot compare it to anything else than the reptile that enamors its prey, till it captivates it, paralyzes it, and rushes it into the jaws of death. I cannot compare it to anything else. It is so, I know it, I am satisfied of it.

I regret leaving my family; they are near and dear to me. These are things which touch my sympathy, even when I think of those poor orphaned children. I declare I did nothing designedly wrong in this unfortunate affair. I did everything in my power to save that people, but I am the one that must suffer. Having said this, I feel resigned. I ask the Lord, my God, if my labors are done, to receive my spirit.