Missouri State Archives: Finding Aid 5.1

Mormon War Papers, 1837-1841

[ Full-text transcription of: Journal of the Joint Legislative Committee appointed to report a bill to proved for the late disturbances in this State. ]
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The Joint Committee to whom was referred [“the following resolution” crossed out] so much of the

Governors message as relates to the recent

difficulties between the people called Mormons

and a part of the people of this state with

instructions to enquire into the causes of

said disturbances and the conduct of

the military operations in suppressing them.

Have taken the same under consideration, and would respect-

fully submit the following report and resolutions. They

have thought it unwise and injudicious, under all the

existing Circumstances of this case, to predicate a report upon

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

the evidences taken before an examining Court held in Rich-

mond, Ray County , for the purpose of inquiring into the

Charges alleged against the people called “Mormons”

growing out of the late difficulties between those people,

and other citizens of this State. They consider the evi=

dence [advanced] in the examination then held, in a great

degree, exparte; and not of [two words crossed out] the character

which should be desined for the basis of a fair

and candid investigation. Moreover the papers, docu-

=ments, &c, have not been certified in such manner, as

to satisfy the committee of their authenticity. It has

been represented to them, that the examining Court have

sent on for further trial many of that class of cit-

-izins called Mormons, charged with various crimes

and offences; under the charge of treason, six; for

murder, and as accessaries 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 represented 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 this Committee would necessa-

-rily be compelled to examine; by which Circumstance two

co-ordinate departments of the government may be brought

in collision;-- a contingency that should be studiously avoided,

and cautiously guarded against – Another insuperable

objection that has presented itself, to the Mind of the Com-

-mittee to [ ] [“would be the serious consequences resulting from our investigation of this matter as referred w” crossed out] and which would

[induce] them to suspend any investigation under present and ex-

-isting circumstances, would [ ] likely consequences [“resulting” crossed out] to result from a publication of their report. Those persons

who have been sent on for further trial have guar-

-anteed to them the sacred and constitutional right of “a

speedy trial by an impartial jury of the vicinago;”

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 [ ]

[“involving [ ] public interest or public publications” crossed out] involved in this enquiry

If the committee were to find it necessary [words crossed out]

in the prosecution of their object, to have

access to the papers, documents &c, connected with

this difficulty, the probable interference of the Several

Courts being in session might seriously interrupt their

veiws. It might reasonably be expected that all the

evidence of every description would be in the possession

of the Courts to be used on the final trial, and by that

means the investigation would be protracted to be

much greater length, then it would be necessary under

different circumstances – They would, therefore, recom-

-mend, in order to avoid all the difficulties that have

been presented, that [“the” crossed out] a committee after the adjourn-

-ment of the Genl Assembly, go into the vicinity of

the scene of difficulty, and make their investigation

and report at such time and in such manner

as the legislature may direct. If the Course should be

adopted, the Committee believe that the [“length of the” crossed out] Session

would be much shortened, and heavy expenses Saved to

the State, [“that” crossed out] which otherwise would necessarily be incurred as sending

for witnesses and bringing them here from so great a


(Insert 2)

Resolutions & Report

            By a resolution of both houses the special Message

of the Governor in relation to the subject of

enquiry with the accompanying documents

was referred to this committee with instructions

to select such documents as in their opinion

ought to be published with the message and

to report to the respective houses-

            The committee after a full consideration

of the subject with due regard  to its im-

portance are of opinion that it is inexpedient

at this time to publish any of the documents

under the authority of the General Assembly &

submit [“briefly” crossed out] to the two houses the leading

reasons for that opinion-

            The document may be divided into

several classes. First the affidavits and

correspondence preceding [words crossed out] each series of authorized

military operations—Second, the orders issued

upon such evidence—Third the military operations

and correspondence consequent thereon & fourth

the evidence taken before a court of enquiry

held for the investigation of criminal charges

against individuals-

            It was found by the joint committee at

an early period after [word crossed out] their organization that

in order to a full and satisfactory investiga

tion of the subjects [“refereed to them and to” crossed out] referred [ ] them a [ ]

of additional testimony oral and written would

be required. This became apparent to the

committee from [“an examination” crossed out] the contents of the

documents referred to them. These documents

although they are serviceable in giving direction

to the course of enquiry 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 aid 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, first

because it is not authenticated and secondly

it is confined chiefly to the object of that

enquiry; namely the investigation of criminal

charges against individuals under arrest: for

these reasons, but above all for the reason

that it would be a direct inference with

the administration of justice, this document

ought not to be published [words crossed out] 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 [word crossed out] that evidence

is not sufficiently full or satisfactory to

authorize its publication—To publish the

whole together might tend to give a direction to

the public mind prejudicial to an impartial

administration of justice [impending] cases while

it will not afford the means of forming any

satisfactory conclusion as to the causes of

the late [“difficulties” crossed out] disturbances or the

conduct of the military operations in sup-

pressing them.

            The committee therefore recommend

to each house to adopt the following resolutions-

                        here insert the resolutions

Resolved—That the evidence taken before

Judge King ought not to be received as tesimony

before this committee—

                                    H. S. Geyer

Resolved, That it is inexpedient to pub-

lish at this time any of the documents

in relation to the Mormon difficul


                                    Charles R. Scott

Resolved, That it is inexpedient to appoint a joint Committee composed

of Senators and Representatives to investigate

the Cause of said disturbances and the Conduct of the Military

Operation in suppressing them; [“after the adjournment of the” crossed out]

legislature [“and at such time, and with such force as

may be prescribed” crossed out] by [“___” word crossed out]  to meet at Such time and to be

invested with Such powers as may be prescribed by


Resolved – That it is inexpedient at

this time to prosecute further the enquiry

into the issues of the late disturbances 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

[“a court of enquiry” crossed out]

by law a board of commissioners to investigate the cause

of such disturbances and the conduct

of the military operations in suppressing them

after the adjournment of the General Assembly