Missouri State Archives: Finding Aid 5.1

Mormon War Papers, 1837-1841

[ Full-text transcription of: Report of the Joint Committee on the Mormon Investigation to the Senate ]
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[Turner] Report

Mormon

On Table till

3rd day of January


The Joint Committee to whom was referred so much

of the Governors message as relates to the recent dificul=

=ties with the people Called mormons & a portion

of the Citizens of the State – And also a resolution

requiring said Committee to select such documents

refered to in said Message as ought to be published

have directed me to submit the following

report, preamble & resolution to the Senate & recommend

their adoption

                                                Turner Chairman


The Joint committee to whom was referred so much of the Govern=

=ors 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 respectf=

=ully 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 the copies of the evide=

=nce taken before an examing court Held in Richmond in

Ray county for the purpose of enquiring into the charges alleg=

ed against the people called “Mormons” growing out of the

late difficulties between that people, and other Citizens of the

state.

They consider the evidence addressed in the examination then

held, in a great degree, [expartied]; and not of the character whi=

=ch should be desired for the basis of a fair and Candid

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

certified in such manner as to satisfy the committee of their

authenticity.

It has been represented to them, that the examing court have

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

Mormons, charged with various crimes and offences; under

the charge of treason, six; for murder, and as accussaries there=

=to 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 Juri=

es 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 examine

by which circumstance two co-ordinate branches of this gove=

=rnment may be brought in Collusion; - a contingency that

should be studiously avoided, and cautiously guarded again=

=st


Another insuperable objection that has presented itself to the mind

of the committee and which would induce them to suspend any

investigation under present and existing circumstances, would be

the consequences 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 constitusional right of “a speedy

trial by an impartial Jury of the vicenage;” 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 [ ]

=y by any consideration, [“involving either public interest or

public expectations” crossed out] involved in this enquiry-

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 difficulty, the probable interference

of the several courts being in session Might seriously interu=

=pt their views, It might Preasumably be expected that all

the evidence of every discription 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 a much greater

length, that would be necessary under different Circumsta=

=nces- They would, therefore, recommend, in order to avoid

all the difficulties that have been presented, that, a

committee after the adjournment of the General Assemble,

go into the vicinity of the scene of difficulties, and make

their investigation and report at such time and in

such manner as the Legislature may direct. If this course

should be adopted, the Committee believe that the session

would be much shortened, and heavy expenses saved to the

state, which otherwize 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 accompany doc=

=uments was referred to this committee, with instructions to

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


=lished with the message and report to their respective houses-

The Committee after a full consideration of the subject with due

regard to its importance are of opinion that it is inexpedient at

this time to publish any of the documents under the authority

of the General Assembly and submit to the two houses the lead=

ing reasons for that opinion-

            The documents may be divided into several classes.

1st the affadavits and correspondence preceding each series of

authorized military operation-

2ed the orders issued upon such evidence

3rd the military operation and correspondence consequent there=

on and

4th the evidence taken before a court of enquiry held for the inv=

estigation of crimnal charges against individuals

            It was found by the Joint Committee at an early period

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

=factory invistigation of the subjects referred to them, a mass

of additional testmony oral and written would be requir=

=ed- This became apparent to the committee from 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 crimnal

court of inquiry is manifestly not such evidence as ought

to be received by the committee.

1st because it is not authenticated, and,

2ed it is confined chiefly to the object of that enquiry;

namely the invistigution of crimnal charges against

individuals under arrest; for these reasons, but above all


for the reasons, that it would be a direct interference with

the administration of Justice, this document ought not to

be published with the sanction of the legislation.

            The Committee concludes that it would not be proper to pub=

=lish the official orders and correspondence between the offi=

=cers in command and the executive without the eviden=

=ce on which they were founded; and that evidence is

not sufficiently full and satisfactory, to authorize its

publication, To publish the whole together [“would” crossed out] Might tend

to [“direct” crossed out] give a direction to the public mind prejudicial to an impar=

=tial administration of Justice in pending cases while

[“administration of Justice” crossed out] it will not [“form” crossed out] afford the means of

forming any satisfactory Conclusion as to the causes of

the late disturbances, on the conduct of the military oper

=ations in suppressing them

            The Committee therefore recommend to each

house to adopt the following resolutions

Resolved. That it is inexpedient at this time to prosecute

further the enquiry into the causes of the late disturbances

and the conduct of the Military operation in suppressing

them

Resolved. That it is inexpedient to publish at this time

any of the documents accompanying the Governors Mess=

=age in relation to the late disturbances

Resolved That it is expedient to appoint a Joint 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 power

as may be proscribed by Laws.