More of the Assassination

We have already published a plain statement of the assassination of President P.P. Pratt, but as the following letter contains some details we give it likewise to the public:

Flint, Cherokee Nation
Arkansas, May 17, 1857

Editor Mormon—Dear Brother: We taken up our pen to inform you of the ill fate of our much beloved brother, Parley P. Pratt, who fell by the hands of his blood-thirsty enemies on the 13th inst. in Crawford Co., Arkansas.  The history of this awful tragedy is briefly as follows: President Pratt while in St. Louis made an appointment, by letter, to meet Mrs. McLean at Fort Gibson, Cherokee Nation, informing her that her pursuers were on the alert.  This letter of appointment, it appears, by some means or other, fell into McLean’s hands, and he arrived at Fort Gibson by the time, or very soon after, that Bro. P. reached this Nation.  McLean succeeded in having Bro. P. arrested by the military, under a charge of larceny on the 8th inst.  Elder Geo. Higginson was in company with him, and was sworn in as a witness upon the part of the United States.  Both were placed under strong guard, and by a military escort conveyed in chains to the Supreme Court, Van Buren, Arkansas.  The case being promptly investigated, and there being no evidence upon which a bill of indictment could be found, he was liberated on the 13th instant.  Brother P. being without arms and without friends to protect him, and knowing that McLean was thirsting for his blood, and that he had the aid of a mass of the corrupt, money-bought citizens of Van Buren, endeavoured to make his escape on horseback unmolested, but every road and pass-way being under strict watch, he did not succeed in getting far till his path was discovered.  McLean and a half dozen other armed fiends pursued him, and brother P. being totally unarmed, they succeeded in killing him without being hurt.  Two of the party in advance intercepted his road, and brought him to a halt, while McLean and the others came up in the rear.  McLean discharged a six-shooter at him, but the balls took no effect—some passed through his clothes, others lodged in the saddle.  The parties now being in immediate contact, McLean stabbed him (both being on horseback) with a heavy bowie-knife twice under the left arm; brother P. dropped from his horse; McLean dismounted, and probed the fatal wounds still deeper; he then got a Deringer from one of his aids, and as brother P. lay dying upon his back, shot him in the upper part of the breast, dropping his pistol by the side of the victim, the assassin then mounted his horse and fled.  This occurred within a few steps of the residence of a farmer by the name of Win.  Two gentlemen being at the house at the time saw the whole affair and have made oath to what they witnessed before a coroner’s jury.  Brother P. survived the work of this assassin two hours and a half, and was enabled to tell those who came to his assistance who he was; that he had been murdered by a fiend for doing his duty; and gave full instructions as to what course should be pursued in interring his body, and the disposition of the means and property connected with his person.  His instructions were fully attended to by Elder Higginson and Mrs. McLean, who reach the place of his assassination, the same evening.  Those who saw his last moments, state that Brother P. died without a murmur or groan, and without a pain, perfectly resigned to the will of Heaven.  Brother Pratt told Elder Higginson the next morning after his arrest, that his enemies would kill him, and requested Elder H. to go through with this Spring’s emigration to Utah, and carry the news of his death to the Church and his family.  This Elder H. will do, the Lord helping.  After perpetrating this heaven-daring deed, McLean returned to Van Buren and made it known.  After remaining in town several hours, and walking the streets with impunity, he was escorted by a number of citizens of Van Buren, to the boat, and took his leave of the place.  Verily we had long thought that the blood-thirsty mobocrats of Missouri and Illinois were without a parallel in the world, but we now yield the palm to the church-going citizens of Van Buren, for they have proven to the world that they are a den of murderers and assassins.

Praying for your welfare and success, and the redemption  of the righteous, and the destruction of the wicked from the earth, and the universal triumph of the principles of righteousness, we subscribe ourselves.

Yours, in the Covenant,
Geo. Higginson
Geo. Crouch

These writers justly condemn the deed, and as justly censure the civil authorities of Van Buren for allowing the murderer to parade their streets unchallenged; we shall, however, reserve our comments on their conduct till we learn their final proceedings on the case.  We have just seen a gentleman who has had a long conversation with Mrs. McLean, and learned from her lips much of an interesting character which took place immediately preceding and subsequent to the murder, which will doubtless be laid before the public in due time and by the proper person.  Our eastern papers published accounts of the tragedy from Van Buren and Fort Smith papers, which, through being published together, might lead some to imagine that the whole of the people were rejoicing in the atrocious crime.  We deem it, therefore, no more than just to the people of Van Buren to state that the rejoicing was principally on the part of McLean’s party, whose spirit was reflected through the Fort Smith Herald, the organ of the win pets, Wheeler and Sparks—a rich compound of ignorance and blackguardism.  Whatever may have been the feelings of the editor of the Van Buren Intelligencer towards the Mormons, he merits respect for having published the letter of Mrs. McLean.  We understand that a number of ladies in Van Buren were very respectful in their attentions to the unfortunate mother who had lost her children and her all, and who aided her considerably with presents.  Some gentlemen very courteously furnished her with means to repair to New Orleans.  We have not learned that any disrespect was shown to either Mr. Pratt or Mrs. McLean by the respectable inhabitants of Van Buren, and have heard that the officers of justice had apprehended the two fiends who took part in the murder with the assassin McLean.  We should be obliged by receiving items of information from Van Buren, the name of the legal gentleman who befriended the accused, those who witnessed the murder, and those who took part in it.  We would take pleasure in publishing any official document, if such exist, which would exonerate the authorities there from any appearance of connivance with the murderer before or after the deed.

We conclude from what we have learned that against the judge and officers of the law President Pratt had nothing to say.

[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, May 13, 1857, 18-19]
[The Mormon, June 20, 1857]

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