Mormon History

Hancock County Peace Treaty - 1844

Sangamo Journal October 10, 1844

From the St. Louis Era.       

A TREATY. -- From the officers of the Die Vernon, which arrived today, we learn that Gov. Ford has capped the climax of his mighty and most praise worthy exertions in behalf of the Mormons; and whatever may have been our opinions heretofore of his generalissimo qualifications, we must confess that we were not prepared to receive the intelligence that he had made a treaty with fugitives from justice; men for whose apprehension and confinement it is said he offered large rewards; men for whose arrest a Proclamation calling out 2,500 militia has been issued, and the burden of an additional debt of over twenty thousand dollars entailed upon an already over-burdened and paupered State. But wonders will never cease. Before disbanding his army, we learn that a council of war, or something else, was held, and that was then determined that a treaty of capitulation should be entered into with the fugitives from justice. Accordingly, commissioners were sent from both sides, and stipulations of a treaty agreed to. The following, we learn, are some of the conditions of this important document -- signed, sealed and delivered.

1st. That they shall be taken before Judge Thomas of this circuit, for examination, so soon as the witnesses can be procured.

2nd. In case there should be sufficient evidence to commit, then the Governor is to advise the prosecuting officer to admit them to bail upon reasonable bonds.

3rd. In case an indictment is found, the Governor is to agree to a continuance of the case to the next succeeding term.

4th. At the next term, the Governor will agree to a change of venue, if the parties show cause.

5th. The prisoners to be under charge of Gen. John J. Hardin.

Then, and not until then, was the white flag of peace hung out; the troops were disbanded, and we suppose a farewell address delivered to them from the Commander in Chief. Sharp, Williams, and others, for whose arrest writs had been issued crossed the Rubicon, and gave themselves up. After entering into the bonds of a military treaty with his Excellency, they accompanied him, as they stipulated to do, to Quincy, where, we learn, they were taken before Judge Thomas for examination; but when he ascertained that a treaty had been made between the high contending parties, he refused to have anything to do with the matter.

The Governor lost his temper; chagrined, disappointed, confused and confounded, he is said to have left on yesterday morning for Springfield. Sharp and the other refugees, were at Quincy yesterday about noon, under no restraint other than those of the little nice points of honor and the head of one of the greatest States of this Union, they may feel in duty bound to observe. The creme of the joke is that they have since remarked, that they wished they had made the Governor lay down his arms, and then he could have marched off under the horrors of war.

The following communication is from Hancock County:

Mr. Editor:-- The citizens of this county were not a little surprised as well as amused on learning that Gov. Ford, was on his march to this county with 2500 troops, for the avowed purpose of putting a stop to a Wolf Hunt, which would, it was said, come off in the county about the 26th inst. There was to have been a military training in this county at that time, and I suppose some one gave word out, for the purpose of having some talk -- that there was to be a wolf hunt at that time -- That the anti-Mormon party intended to raise a force at that time to expel the Mormons from the State, or in any manner disturb the quiet of this community, as has been given out by the governor, is not true. It appears to some of us at least that the Governor ought, before he called out to the military at the expense of the State, to have ascertained the facts in the case -- Can the governor be justified in putting the State to 40 or 60 thousands Dollars expense by marching troops into Hancock county, in a time of profound peace. We think not. Had he put himself to a little trouble he might have learned, that, the citizens of Hancock county, had no intention of molesting the Mormons at this time. -- But, I suppose, Gov. Ford would not believe the old citizens of this county, if they were to tell him the truth in the matter. I am credibly informed that when the troops landed at Carthage some of the most respectable and worthy of the old citizens went to the Governor, and tried to convince him that the citizens of this county, had no intention of disturbing Mormons; but the Gov. told them he knew better, and they knew better -- that they were d--d liars, &c.

Now, to the governor, this may all appear very respectful language, but to us who are citizens of Hancock, and who pretend to know what our intentions towards the Mormons are, the language appears rather harsh.

If, as some of the Gov.'s friends intimate, his object in bringing the troops to this county, is for the purpose of arresting the mob that killed the Smiths, why did he not say so? And why did he not wait until it was ascertained that the mob would resist the proper officer? Gov. Ford appears to be acting on the principle of the lady who when she went to leave home on a visit, called her children to her and gave them a whipping -- when they asked the cause, she replied, that she whipped them to make them good children in her absence. Gov. Ford is afraid an attack will be made on his dear friends, the Mormons, as the mob who killed the Smiths will resist the officers legally authorized to arrest them.

Of one thing I am certain; Gov. Ford will leave the county in a much worse condition than when he came here, and there will be much more likelihood of an out-break after he leaves the county than there was before he came into it -- marching so many troops into the county, and threatening the citizens with what they may expect if they disturb the Mormons, will have a tendency to exasperate the people, and I should not be at all surprised if we should have an outbreak after the troops leave, should the Mormons not walk very circumspect.
                                       Respectfully yours.
                                                      An old citizen of Hancock.