J. M. Grant's RIGDON/Part II
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Part II, Elder Sidney Rigdon in Missouri
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ELDER SIDNEY RIGDON IN MISSOURI
Elder Rigdon’s imaginary schemes of wealth and grandeur having all vanished into insignificance, he was under the necessity of leaving Ohio, in search of another place of abode. He finally located himself among the Saints in Caldwell county, Missouri. Elder J. Smith, and many others, had come to the conclusion that Elder Rigdon’s past experience would be to him a lesson, that he would never forget but in this they were sadly disappointed, for in the Spring of 1838, before the vegetable kingdom had shed forth its rich colors, or perfumed the air with its fragrance, Elder Smith began to have some fearful forebodings, having discovered, that the ruling power of Elder Rigdon’s mind was again manifesting itself, directed in a channel calculated to prove more disastrous in its effects upon the church than all his former imaginary flights and projects. He began to pour his wrath in torrents upon the heads of the dissenters who had “made shipwreck concerning the faith.” In June he oration at Far West, on the 4th of July, in which he said many things which were good, and patriotic, but as he proceeded, his imagination carried him (not “beyond the bound of time and space,” but beyond the bounds of reason,) into his often frequented field of fancy, where he uttered the following sayings:preached what he called his “Salt Sermon,” in which he called the dissenters the salt that had lost its savor, hence, said he, “they are good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot.” The dissenters made capital of his sermon, using it to prejudice the people in the adjoining counties against the saints; but to put the veto on them, and all others, he delivered an
“Ourcheeks have been given to the smiters—our heads to those who have plucked off the hair. We have not only, when smitten on one cheek, turned the other, but we have done it again and again, until we are wearied of being smitten, and tired of being trampled upon. We have proved the world with kindness, we have suffered their abuse, without cause, with patience and have endured without resentment until this day, and still their persecutions and violence do not cease. But from this day and this hour we will suffer it no more. We take God, and all the holy Angels to witness this day, that we warn all men, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever, for from this hour we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled upon with impunity, the man, or the set of men, who attempt it, do it at the expense of their lives.
“And that mob that comes on us to disturb us, it shall be between us and them a war of extermination, for we will follow them till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us, for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed. Remember it then, all men. We will never be the aggressor, we will infringe on the rights of no people, but shall stand for our own until death.
“We claim our own rights and are willing that all others shall enjoy theirs. No man shall be a liberty to come into our streets, to threaten us with mobs, for if he does he shall atone for it before he leaves the place, neither shall he be at liberty to vilify and slander any of us, for suffer it we will not, in this place. We therefore take all men to record this day, that we proclaim our liberty this day, as did our Fathers, and we pledge this day to one another our fortunes, our lives, and our sacred honours, to be delivered from the persecutions, which we have had to endure for the last nine years, or nearly that time. Neither will we indulge any man, or set of men, in instituting vexatious Law-suits against us, to cheat us out of our rights, if they attempt it, we say woe be unto them. We this day, then, proclaim ourselves free, with a purpose and a determination, that never can be broken, no never! No, never!! No, Never!!!”
The foregoing extract from his oration, as anticipated by the judicious, was the main auxiliary that fanned into a flame the burning wrath of the mobocratic portion of the Missourians. They now had an excuse, their former threats were renewed,and soon executed, we were then, as we are now, (by many,) all made accountable for the acts of one man; death and carnage, marched through the land, in their most terrific forms. The following from the 1st Volume of the Times and Seasons, by Miss E. R. Snow, will give the reader some idea of the heart rending scene.
“Here, in a land that Freemen call their home,
Far from the influence of Papal Rome;
Yes, in a mild and tolerating age
The Saints have fallen beneath the barb’rous rage
Of men inspired by the misguiding hate,
Which ignorance and prejudice create.
Ill fated men, who minds would hardly grace
The most ferocious of the brutal race.
Men, without hearts, else would their bosoms bleed
At the commission of so foul a deed
As that when they at Shoal Creek, in Caldwell,
Upon an unresisting people fell,
Whose only crime was DARING TO PROFESS
THE ETERNAL PRINCIPLES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!
Twas not enough for that unfeeling crew
To murder men—they shot them through and through,
Frantic with rage, they poured their molten lead
Profusely on the dying and the dead,
For mercy’s claim, which Heaven delights to hear,
Fell disregarded, on relentless ears.
Long o’er the scene of that unhappy eve
Will the lone widow and the orphan grieve.
Their savage foes with greedy avarice fir’d,
Plundered their murder’d victims and retir’d,
And at the shadowy close of parting day
In slaughter’d heaps husbands and fathers lay,
There lay the dead and there the dying ones,
The air reverberating with their groans;
Night’s sable sadness mingled with the sound,
Spread a terrific hideousness around.
Ye wives and mothers think of woman then,
Left in a group of dead and dying men,
Her hopes were blasted, all her prospects riv’n
Save one, she trusted in the God of Heaven;
Long for the dead her widow’d heart will crave
A last kind office, yes—a decent grave.
Description fails—Tho’ language is too mean
To pain the horrors of that dreadful scene.
All things are present to His searching eye
Whose ears are open to the raven’s cry.”
Men and children were murdered and robbed, women were insulted and wounded, the dead left without a decent burial,houses were burned, and property confiscated, and many noble men torn from their almost distracted wives and children, and locked in a gloomy prison for months, to satisfy the insatiate, wrath of man. After the whole society had suffered innumerable hardships, and bathed the earth with their tears and blood, they were, by the edit of a second Nero, banished en masse from the State in the drear months of winter, which caused the frosty grave to be opened, to receive fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, and the helpless infant, overcome by cold, hunger, and fatigue.