Missouri State Archives: Finding Aid 5.1

Mormon War Papers, 1837-1841

[ Full-text transcription of: Journal of the Joint Legislative Committee to investigate the late difficulties with the Mormons ]
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of the

Mormon Committee

Appointed at the 10th Session

of the

Generall Assembly

of the

State of Missouri

December 12th 1838




Of the Committee on Mormon Difficulties

            The Joint Committee of the Senate, and of the House of

Represenatives, of the State of Missouri ; to whom was referenced

that portion of the Governors Message, in relation to the diffi=

culties between the people called Mormons, and the people

of the State of Missouri , with instructions, to inquire into the

causes of said disturbances, and the conduct of the military

operations in suppressing them; with power to send for

persons, and papers; and in the Senate Chamber on Frid=

ay the 30th Day of November 1838.

            The following members, of the committee on the part of the Senate

were present

Arch W. Turner . Chairman

Smallwood V.Noland

Charles R. Scott

            On the part of House of Represenatives, were present

H.S. Geyer

John, Miller,

G. F. Bollinger

S. D. South.

G. W. Huston

C. Carstarphan

M. M. Manghis

            Mr. Geyer moved that the committee recommend to their

respective Houses the adoption of the following Resolutions

Resolved, that the Joint committee on so much of the

Governors Message, as relates to the difficulties between the

people called Mormons, and a portion of the people of this

State, be authorized to appoint a clerk, to the committee, and

rent a room, in which to transact business.

Resolved, that the said committee be authorized to sit during

the sitting of there respective Houses:

Which was adopted

On Motion

The committee then adjourned to meet again when ordered by

the chairman

Thursday December 5th 1838

The Committee met pursuant to adjournment.

The committee then proceeded to the election of a Clerk.

Messrs- Emmions, E. M. Pitcher, Clark, and Spooner [were]

severally nominated to fill said office, and

E.M. Pitcher, having received a majority of all the votes

given on this second Ballot, was declared to be duly elected

clerk of the committee.

On Motion of Geyer

The committee then adjourned

Wednesday December 12th [1838]

The Committee met pursuant to adjournment,

On motion of Mr Noland.

Ordered that the constitution of the Mormons be read, and

no objections being made the constitution was read.

On motion of Mr. Geyer.

Resolved, that the evidence taken before Judge King oug

ht not to be received as testimony before this committee.

On motion of of Mr Noland

ordered that the resolution be laid on the table, was decid=

ed negatively.

Question “Shall the Resolution be adopted” was decided

affirmatively, and the resolutions adopted.

On motion of Mr Miller

Resolved, that a committee of three be appointed, to consist

of the chairman and two [“others” crossed out] members to select such

Documents as they may think fit for the Joint Committees

consideration, for publication of the Governors Message

Which was adopted

Messrs Turner, Geyer, and Scott, were appointed as the


On motion of Mr Miller

Mr Huston was added to the committee aforesaid

On Motion of Mr Scott.

The Committee then adjourned untill Friday next

to meet at half past two Oclock PM

Friday 14th December 1838

The Committee met pursuant to adjournment

The Journals of the last meetings were read and approved

The following members of the committee on the part of the Senate were present

Arch. W. Turner. Chairman

Smallwood V. Noland

Charles. R. Scott.

On the Part of the House of Represenatives

H. S. Geyer

John Miller

G. F. Bollinger

S. D. South

Geo W. Huston

C. Carstarphan

M. M. Manghis

Mr Scott offered the following

Resolved, that a committee of three be appointed, to con=

sist of the Chairman and two members, to prepare a

preamble and resolutions, to present to their committee, in

relation to the Mormon Difficulties

Messrs, Geyer, Huston, and Turner were appointed as the


On Motion of Mr Scott.

The Committee adjourned untill Monday at half past

two O Clock

Monday 17th 1838

The Committee met pursuant to adjournment

The Committee appointed to prepare a preamble and Resolutions

submitted the following

The Joint Committee to whom was referncd so much of the govern=

=ors message, as relates to the recent difficulties between the peop=

=le called mormons and a part of the people of this state with

instructions to inquire into the causes of said disturbances and

the conduct of the military operations in suppressing them

have taken the same under consideration, and would respe=

ctfully submit the following report and resolutions.


They have thought it unwise and injudicious matter—the

existing circumstances of this case, to predicate a report upon

papers, documents, &c purporting to be copies of the

evidence taken before an examing court held ins Richmand

Ray County for the purpose of inquiring into the charges

alleged against the people called “Mormons” growing out

of the late difficulties between the people, and other Citizens

of this state.

They consider the evidence taken in the examination there

held, in a great degree, expartie, and not of the caracter

which should be desired for the basis of a fair and candid inve=

stigation. Moreover the papers, documents, &c have not been

certified in such a manner as to satisfy the Committee of

their authenticity

It has been represented to them, that the examining courts have

sent on for further trial many of that class of Citizens called

mormons, charged with various crimes and offenses: under the

charge of treason, six: for murder, and as accusaries thereto before

and after the fact, eight; and for other felonies, twenty seven.

Special terms of the circuit court are expected to be held in the

several counties, in which the above mentioned crimes are rep=

resented to have been committed. Grand juries will then have

those charges against said people before them, and must act

upon the same, documentary evidence which the committee

would necessarily be compelled to [“have” crossed out] examine; by which

circumstances two co-ordinate [“branches” crossed out] departments of this Government may brought in Collission;- a contingency that should be

studiously avoided and cautiously guarded against.--

Another insuperable objection that has presented itself to the

mind of the committee and which would induce them to sus

=pend any further investigation under present and existing

circumstances, would be the consequence likely to result

from a publication of their report. Those persons who have

been sent on for-further trial have guaranteed to them the

sacred and constitutional right of “a speedy trial by an

impartial [“trial” crossed out] Jury of the [vic enage? ];” and if the guilt of the

accused should be confirmed by the report of the committee, it

would so prejudice public sentiment against them, as to

deprive them of that right which should not be taken

away by any consideration.

If the committee were to find it necessary in the prosecution of

their object, to have access to the papers, documents, &c

connected with this difficultie, the probable interference [“with” crossed out] of

the several courts being in session Might seriously interupt their

views. It might reasonably be expected that all the evidence

[ ] description would be in the posession of the courts to be

used on the final trial, and by that means the investigation

would be protracted to a much greater length, than would be

necessary under different circumstances – they, would, therefore,

recommend, in order to avoid all the difficulties that have

been presented; that a committee after the adjournment of

the General Assembly go into the vicinity of the scene of

difficulties, and make their investigation and report at

such times and in such manner as the legislation may dir=

=ect. If this course should be accepted, the committee believe

that the session would be much shortened, and heavy expenses

saved to the state, which otherwise would  necessarily be incurred

in sending for witnesses and bringing them from so great a distance.—

By a resolution of both houses the special message of the

Governor, in relation to the subject of enquiry with the accompa=

=ny documents was referred to this committee, with instructions

to select such documents as in their opinion ought to be pub=

=lished with the message and to report to their respective


The committee after a full consideration of the subject with

due regard to its importance are of opinion that is inexpedi=

=ent at this time to publish [three words crossed out] any of the docu=

=ments under the authority of the General Assembly and

submit to the two houses the leading reasons for that opinion

The documents may be divided into several classes

1st. The affadavits and correspondence, preceeding  each series

of authorized military operations

2ed The orders issued upon such evidence

3rd The military operations and correspondence consequent

thereon and

4th The evidence taken before a court of inquiry held for the

investigation of crimnal charges against individuals

It was found by the Joint Committee at an early period

after their orginazation, that in order to a full and satis=

=factory investigation of the subjects referred to them, a [maz]

of additional testimony oral and written would be [require]

This became apparent to the committee from the content of

the documents referred to them. These documents [ ]

their are serviceable in giving directions to the court of inquiry

are none of them except the official orders and correspondence

such as ought to be received as conclusive evidence of the

facts stated, nor are their contents such as would without

the use of further-evidence enable the committee to form a

satisfactory opinion in relation to the material points

of the enquiry.

The copy of the examination taken before the criminal

court of enquiry, is manifestly not such evidence as ought

to be received by the committee.

1st because it is not authenticicated and

2nd it is confined chiefly to the object of that inquiry:

Namely the investigation of criminal charges against ind =

=viduals under-arrest: for these reasons, but above all for

the reason that it would be a direct interference with

the administration of Justice, this document ought not

to be published with the sanction of the legislature.

The Committee concludes that it would not be proper to

publish the official orders, and correspondence between the

officers in command and the executive, without the

evidence on which they were founded, and that evidence

is not sufficuntly full or satisfactory, to authorize its pub=

=lication – To publish the whole together might tend to

give a direction to the public mind prejudicial to an

impartial administration of Justice in finding cases,

When it will not afford the means of forming any sat=

=isfactory conclusion as to the causes of the late disturban=

=ces, or the conduct of the military operations in suppressing


The Committee therefore recommend to each house

to adopt the following resolution

Resolved, That it is inexpedient at this time to pros=

-ecute further the enquiry into the causes of the late dis=

-turbances and the conduct of the military operations

in suppressing them.


Resolved, That it is inexpedient to publish at this time

any of the documents accompanying the Governors Message

in relation to the late disturbances

Resolved, That it is expedient to organize by law a board

of commissoners to investigate the causes of said disturb=

=ances and the conduct of the military operations in

suppressing them, after the adjournment of the General


Mr Noland moved

to amend the first resolution, by striking out the [“words” crossed out]

letters “i,n” belonging to the word [inexpedient “in” crossed out]

Which was rejected

Mr Huston offered the following resolution as a substi=

=tute to the third

Resolved That it is expedient to appoint a committee

composed of ____ Senators and ____ Represenatives

to investigate the causes of said disturbances and the

conduct of the Military Operations in suppressing them

to meet at such time, and to be invested with such

powers as may be proscribed by law.—

Which was adopted

Question “Shall the instrument of [writting] submitted

by the committee be received”

Was decided affirmatively

On Motion of Mr Geyer

Mr Huston was appointed to arrange the report of this

Committee for the Clerk to Copy, to report to their Respective

Houses of the General Assembly

[“Which was agreed to” crossed out]

On Motion of Mr Scott

The Committee adjourned subject to the call of the


Monday 14th January 1839

The Committee met

Mr Chairman read the Resolution adopted by both houses

empowering the committee to draft a Bill, to govern the com=

mittee to be appointed on the part of both houses, to investigate

the Mormon disturbances

Mr. Noland moved

That each House elect its part of the committee

Which was adopted

Mr Noland moved

That a sub committee be appointed to draft a Reso

Which motion was adopted

Mr Chairman appointed the committee, consisting of [Messers]

Turner, Huston, and Geyer

On Motion of Mr Noland

The committee adjourned subject to the call of the chairman