April 2nd, 1854
Parley P. Pratt arose to address the congregation.
I stand before you this morning to address you for a few moments.
Variety is a treat, and it is not always we are favored in this stand with a text previous to preaching a sermon; neither have we been favored with hearing written sermons.
I thought I would offer for your consideration this morning a text, and a short discourse written to be read before you. I do not know, however, that I ought to call it a sermon, as it will not be of the usual length that sermons generally are. It has been written within half an hour from this time, and is uncorrected or rewritten from the first copy.
“The Mormons have learned, by sad experience, that they cannot live in the midst of CIVILIZED SOCIETY.”
The foregoing text will be found in a newspaper entitled the “Missouri Democrat.” It has been also copied into the Washington Globe of January 6th, and finally into the Deseret News of March 30th.
Now, as it is perfectly true, as applied to that particular civilization with which they were surrounded in the States of Missouri and Illinois; and as the “Mormons” are in a habit of adopting truth wherever found, perhaps I may be indulged in selecting it for a text, and thus it may yet be considered a part of sacred scripture.
The first feature of civilization from which the Mormons shrank in Missouri, was developed in Jackson County, in 1833, in which Lilburn W. Boggs, then lieutenant governor of the State, aided by civil and military officers of various grades, and by the populace, and even the clergy, expelled some twelve hundred citizens from their own lands and possessions, burned upwards of two hundred houses, robbed, or destroyed property and grain, to the amount of hundreds of thousands, and killed several citizens, and wounded, whipped, and maltreated, not only men, but women and children, insomuch that many died of their ill treatment.
This kind of civilization finally spread over the whole State. Said Boggs, the murderer and robber, was elected governor; and finally, in 1838, upwards of 10,000 citizens were driven out of the State, and their houses and lands taken forceable possession of, and their property again robbed or destroyed to the amount of millions. Men, women, and children, were again murdered by wholesale, and mothers, wives, and daughters, were by force polluted, till they died in the hands of their ravishers.
Think of Shoal Creek, Crooked River, Far West, Diahmon, and Haun’s Mill. Was this really Missouri civilization? Yes; and the horrid perpetrators acted under executive authority, and were paid for committing these crimes out of the public treasury of Missouri, by special act of the legislature.
These are samples of Missouri civilization, in contact with which the Mormons could not live; the survivors fled to Illinois.
But here the Missouri civilization soon spread. The fruits of it were manifested in the massacre of the Smiths at Carthage jail; in the burning of a few hundred houses in Hancock County; in the expulsion of 20 or 30,000 citizens from that State; in the murder of many; and, finally, in the destruction of the great city and temple of Nauvoo.
This, my friends, is a faint description of a few of the operations of that civilization from which the Mormons shrank, and on account of which they took refuge in these deserts and mountain wilds.
And the crimes of which they were then accused falsely by the perpetrators of these horrid acts of civilization were just as true as it now is—that we hold to adultery and promiscuous intercourse of the sexes; that we have driven out the United States judges; rejected the jurisdiction of the United States; driven out and plundered Mr. Bridger; murdered a man on the Oregon ferry; driven out from our country those of other faiths; sought exclusiveness in our territory; opposed the explorations thereof; or murdered Captain Gunnison and party; or that we are at war with the Indian tribes about us; or that we have ever sought anything but peace with the Indians and all mankind.
And, in conclusion, we would remark that the Missouri Democrat is so ignorant of any other civilization than that which has obtained in his own and a neighboring State, that he intimates in the same article which contains our text, that, should the railroad again bring civilization to our territory, and the laws of the United States be extended over it, then the Mormons would be again driven out from their homes as they have heretofore been driven.
Now, for the special information of such editors and their readers, we would inform them that the laws of the United States are already in operation in this territory; that they are here for the protection of Mormons and all other good citizens; and the Mormons and good citizens in general in Utah hope to live to see a just administration of those laws extended over Missouri and Illinois, which would naturally result in the hanging of a few thousand of robbers and murderers, who have occupied a seat in the executive legislature and judicial departments of those two States; and would teach the remainder a better civilized policy than they have heretofore learned.
We fondly hope that the coming generation in those two States will go to school and learn that the laws and constitutions of the United States do not result, when properly administered, in murder, plunder, robbery, houseburning, rape, and exile.
[Deseret News, Apr. 27, 1854]
[transcribed by Ruby N. Conlin and Patsy Young, Sept. 2006]