1859 May 5 Letter to George Q. Cannon


1859 May 5 Letter to George Q. Cannon


The world will reject truth but the Saints are duty-bound to proclaim it. Brigham details unlawful courts and the illegal use of the military. The surviving children of the Mountain Meadows Massacre will be taken to live with relatives.




Brigham Young


George Q. Cannon


1859 May 5


Great Salt Lake City
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Number of Pages



Mountain Meadows Massacre

Item sets

G. S. L. City, May 5, 1859.

Elder George Q. Cannon,
Philadelphia, Pa.,

Dear Brother:--
A train, in charge of br. Feramorz Little, starts for Florence to morrow, and I improve the opportunity for writing, with some assurance that you will receive my letter. Yours of Nov. 18, Jan. 9 and 26, and March 4 came to hand, and I perceive that you have been learning what I well understood long ago, that the large majority of the human family, by no means excepting those in high places, not only prefer their own devices and ways to the law and the ways of the Lord, but are actively engaged in opposing, with their might, the great latter-day work and in oppressing, so far as they are permitted, all who would do good. Such is the working of the great scheme of probation, and do you not begin to clearly comprehend that those who would keep the celestial law will be assailed upon all points and to the fullest extent permitted to the powers of darkness and such as list to obey them? An angel of light may write, speak, or print the truth concerning us as it exists in heaven, and what effect do you suppose it would have upon the presses and pulpits and legislative and judicial halls of the nation? Concerning Utah and the 'Mormons', you may gather the affidavits of every honest man from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and present them before Congress, or any court in the Union, and they will all be thrust aside and some poor pitiful scoundrel called upon to testify, and his lying statements will be suffered to thrust truth to the wall. But all this, however humiliating to reflect upon and however tending to discourage by no means in the least warrants any slackening of effort for the proclamation of the truth and the supremacy of righteous laws, at every opportunity and by every lawful method within our power.

Ere this you have learned from the papers that Judge Sinclair held a term of court in this city, empaneling the juries and conducting his court at his own pleasure, no party or witness absenting himself nor refusing to attend, because he did not surround his court with troops, and still he did not succeed in fastening guilt upon the guiltless, nor in bringing on a violent collision between the citizens and troops. The papers (we presume you receive the 'News' have also made you familiar with the doings of Judge Cradlebaugh in Provo, how he held a term of court in that city without the least shadow of law to our knowledge, how he surrounded the court building with a military posse, arrested witnesses upon bench warrants, sent dragoons to make arrests, ignored the civil authorities and Territorial laws, even saying that law was no law, and thrust prisoners into the gentle care of the military, until neither the dragoons, the U. S. Marshal nor Deputy Marshals could find parties or witnesses, for no one felt safe to trust himself in the hands of an illegal military tribunal that publicly accused communities by wholesale and used the military for a walking calaboose, and of necessity, through his own conduct, adjourned his court and marched with his troops to Camp Floyd from whence he started to hold said court. So far as my knowledge extends I am not aware that persons in Utah accused of crime, by Cradlebaugh &c., would not cheerfully avail themselves of a hearing before a court of law, justice, and equity, but before a court that is accuser, prosecutor, witness, and jury, I presume it will be difficult to find a person, here or elsewhere, who would be willing to trust his cause. In this connection, inasmuch as Genl. Johnston has seen proper to furnish troops to a Judge's requisition, contrary to consulting Gov. Cumming, which those instructions pointedly required him to do, and subversive of the ends of justice and the rights of the people, it would be well, if not already done, that so much of the instructions of June 27, 1857, to the commander of the forces in Utah, as empowers a Judge, Marshall and Deputy Marshall to make a requisition for troops, be rescinded, or enforce a strict compliance with the next following paragraph of said instruction, and in no case authorize the calling upon the military until the civil power has been tried and found inefficient? And I can confidently assert that the civil will prove amply sufficient for every requirement of law and justice, and restricting the troops to their legitimate sphere will curtail the evil disposed in much of their power to annoy and oppress, and cut off many hindrances to the proper conduct of business before courts.

Dr. Forney, Superintendent of Ind. Affairs, has lately returned from a trip to some of the southern Indian tribes, and has brought the children rescued from the mountain meadow massacre, to have them in readiness for the two commissioners appointed to come here and conduct them to their relatives. What an expensive and round about method for transacting what any company for the States could easily attend to at any time, and with trifling expense. While in the Southern portion of our Territory, I am informed that Dr. Forney had more or less conversation with persons somewhat conversant with said massacre, and from the little I can or ever have learned of that affair, I feel sanguine that when the truth is fairly arrived at it will be found that had it not been for a few whites being near by at the time, not a child nor an animal would have been saved alive, as the Indians were exceedingly exasperated with the conduct of that and other emigrating companies.

On the 21st ult., 2 companies of infantry and 1 of dragoons left Camp Floyd to meet, in the region of Santa Clara, and escort Major Prince, who is on his return from Cal. with money for the Army. Judge Cradlebaugh accompanied the escort; whether on his way to Arizona or California, or whether to hold court, without regard to law, in that region, is not yet known here. One or two companies of dragoons are reported to have since left Camp Floyd to join the escort.

So far as has come to my knowledge, I am much pleased with the industry, perseverance and doings that have characterized your movements in the States; and I discern no occasion for becoming discouraged at the tardiness of desired results, and have much confidence in the judgment and political counsels of our Friend, which I have no doubt you will continue to carry out to the extent of your ability, as also to improve every opportunity for advancing the great cause of human welfare.

In 1857, Mr. Hiram Kimball, of this city, contractor on the mail route from here to Independence, Mo., located mail stations on said route on the Sweet water near that Rocky Ridge, on said stream, near the Devil's Gate, in Deer Creek, on La Bonta and on Horse Shoe Creek, in accordance with an of Congress to that effect, and had them surveyed by Deputy Surveyor Thomas D. Brown. The plats of those stations are now forwarded to br. H. S. Eldredge, with instructions to keep them safely until further advised, not deeming it of any use to forward them to Washington until some person is their to look after the matter. Should you, in your walks and conversations, learn any thing touching the best course to pursue to secure the granting of said claims, please inform me thereof by the first opportunity.

Several gamblers, a few traders and others have started and are about starting for Pike's Peak, a good indication that certain classes are becoming somewhat disappointed as to the probable success of their plans in Utah, and many will doubtless scatter in different directions so soon as the condition of roads improves and soldiers and employees receive their pay. Prospects are very flattering that the nation at large will soon have very abundant additional testimony that few would cling to Utah, were it not for 'mormonism'.

Your Brother in the Gospel

Brigham Young