Mormon History

Mormons and Numerous Petty Thefts - 1840

Western World July 29, 1840

Shameful Outrage.

It is well known to our readers, that after the Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, as they are usually called, were driven out of the State of Missouri they established their head-quarters at Commerce, in the upper part of this county on the Mississippi river, 18 or 20 miles above this place, where they have built largely, and where most of them reside, though they are scattered through this and the adjoining counties in considerable numbers. They have generally demeaned themselves as quiet, peaceable citizens, and displayed considerable fortitude under their severe trials in the loss of property and friends, and a commendable industry in trying to retrieve their fallen fortunes.

During the last winter and spring various petty thefts were perpetrated in various parts of this county which many persons attributed to the Mormons, they having lately come into the county, and sufering under the odium of similar conduct in Missouri. With what justice these charges were made we know not, and do not know that there is any evidence to substantiate them. We merely state the facts as a matter of history.

Some weeks ago we stated in a late paper, a depot of stolen articles was found 8 or 10 miles below this town, by a gentleman residing near the place. The news of this discovery having gone across the river to Missouri, a number of the inhabitants of Tully, a town in that State about 20 miles below this on the river, came over to seek for goods which they averred had been stolen from them, and found several articles at the said depot, which they claimed and carried off. These Missourians attributed all these thefts to the Mormons, and coming across four of them, who alleged they were hunting horses in the bottom, they forcibly and without warrant, carried them over the river out of this State, and tied three of them up to trees, stripped and beat them in the most shameful and cruel manner. The fourth one was permitted to depart. One of the persons pubished has since made his escape -- what has become of the other two we have not learned. It is said that one of them is so badly injured that he cannot recover.

This is a high-handed and daring violation of the rights and laws of this State, by citizens of another State residing on our borders, and we are extremely gratified to learn that Gov. Carlin is taking prompt and vigorous measures to bring the perpetrators of this daring outrage on our rights and our citizens to condign punishment. A demand has probably before this time been made on the Governor of Missouri for the criminals. Gov. Carlin will deserve the thanks of every citizen of Illinois by pursuing this matter vigorously. The people of Illinois will not thus suffer their territory to be invaded, their citizens carried off and shamefully abused, without seeking and obtaining redress for their grievances. It does not alter the case in the least whether the persons carried off were guilty or not. If guilty, they still had the right of trial by jury, by the laws of the State in which the thefts were committed; and the law holds every man innocent until he is found guilty by a legally constituted jury of his peers. We hope the citizens of Illinois will frown down this base attempt to introduce mob-law into the limits of our State, and insist upon it that the perpetrators of this outrage receive merited punishment. The following are the proceedings of a meeting held at Nauvoo in relation to this subject, which we willingly give place to, and only regret that the proceedings had not been forwarded to us sooner. We would state for the information of those at a distance, that the name of Commerce has been changed, by the Mormons, to Nauvoo.

At a meeting of the citizens of Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, on Monday, July 13th, 1840; Judge Elias Higbee was called to the chair, and R. B. Thompson was appointed Secretary.

On motion the following Gentlemen were appointed a committee to report resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting, to wit:

Isaac Galland, R. B. Thompson, Sidney Rigdon, D. H. Wells. Whereupon; The committee retired and after a short absence, reported the following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted.


The committee appointed to express the sense of this meeting, in relation to the recent acts of abduction and other deeds of cruelty and inhumanity committed upon our citizens by those of the State of Missouri, beg leave respectfully to report:

That having under consideration the principal matters involve in the discharge of their duty, they have been forced to arrive at the following conclusions:

1st. That the people of Missouri not having sufficiently slacked their thirst for blood and plunder, are now disposed to pursue us with a repetition of the scenes of brutality which marked their whole course of conduct towards us during our unhappy residence among them.

2nd. That, notwithstanding they have already robbed us of our homes, murdered our families, stolen and carried away our property; and their exertions to complete the measure of their infamy as a State, have caused unoffending thousands to be banished from the State, without even the form of a trial, or the slightest evidence of crime.

They are now sending their gangs of murderousbanditti, and thieving brigands, to wreak further vengeance and satisfy their insatiable cupidity in the State of Illinois, and that too, before we have even had time to erect shelters for our families.

3d. That for the purpose of giving a semblance of justification to their most unhallowed conduct

The people of Missouri have again commenced concealing goods within the limits of our settlements, as they before have done in the State of Missouri, in order to raise a charge of stealing against our citizens and under this guise they have within a few days kidnapped and carried away several honest and worthy citizens of this county.

4th. Under these circumstances, the first duty and the only redress which seems to offer itself to our consideration, is an appeal to the Executive of the State of Illinois, for redress and protection from further injuries with a confident assurance that he, unlike the Governor of State of Missouri, will extend the Executive arm to protect unoffending citizens from lawless outrage.

Therefore -- Resolved, firstly, that we view with no ordinary feelings the approaching danger as a necessary consequence, following the lawless and outrageous conduct of the citizens of Missouri, in setting at defiance the laws of this as well as of all other States in this Union, by forcing from their homes, and from the State, civil citizens of Illinois, and taking them into the state of Missouri, without any legal process whatever, and there inflicting upon them base cruelties in order to extort false confessions from them, to give a coloring to their (the Missourians) iniquities and screen themselves from the just indignation of an incensed community.

Resolved 2d. That while we deeply deplore the cause which has brought us together on this occasion, we cannot refrain from expressing our most unqualified disapprobation at the infringement of the laws of this state, as set forth in the above preamble, and strongest indignation at the manner in which the people of Missouri treated those, whom they had thus inhumanly taken from among us.

Resolved 3d, That inasmuch as we are conscious of our honest and upright intentions and are at all times ready and willing to submit to the requirements of the law, We claim of the citizens and authorities of this State, protection from such unjust and, before unheard of oppressions.

Resolved 4th, That the forcible abduction of our citizens by those of Missouri, is a violation of the laws, regulating the federal compact, subversive to the rights of freemen, and contrary to our free institutions, and republican principles.

Resolved, 5th, That the cruelties practiced upon our citizens since their abduction, is disgraceful to humanity, the height of injustice and oppression, and would disgrace the annals of the most barbarous nations, in either ancient or modern times, and can only find its parallel in the Auto da Fa of the inquisition in Spain.

Resolved, 6th, That such unconstitutional and unhallowed proceedings on the part of the citizens of Missouri, ought to arouse every patriot to exertions and diligence to put a stop to such procedure, and use all constitutional means to bring the offenders to justice.

Resolved, 7th, That we memorialize the Executive of this State upon the gross outrage which has been committed on our citizens, and pledge ourselves to aid him in such measures as may be considered necessary, to restore our citizens to freedom, and have satisfaction for the wrongs we have suffered.

Resolved, 8th, That the above be published in the Quincy Whig, Quincy Argus, Western World, Burlington Gazette, and Hawkeye and Patriot.
               ELIAS HIGBEE, Chairman,
       R. B. THOMPSON, Sec'ry.