stealthbishop wrote: ↑
Wed Jun 08, 2022 9:55 am
Did BY himself believe that these people from Arkansas were evil and deserved to be killed or did he know that they were good people and he was just wanting them killed for their property? Was he cynical or did he really believe this delusion he helped create?
Well, I can give my opinion, but I believe that BY had a pattern of using his power to enrich himself. MMM is only one of the many things he orchestrated (IMO) to put more $$$ in his pocket and he did become very wealthy (and powerful) in Utah.
But....there was also vengeance on his mind too (for the murder of Parley P. Pratt in Arkansas). This party of 140 emigrants were from Arkansas.
From what I found (and Will Bagley stated this as well, both in emails to me and publicly when he was asked to speak on this topic), was that BY used his power to rile the members up mainly over Parley P. Pratt's murder (which had just taken place in Arkansas in May 1857). BY rushed Pratt's widow (Eleanor Pratt) out to SLC to get her there in time for the big 24th of July speech & celebration.
Then, on July 26th, George A. Smith was sent (by BY) down to southern Utah to travel around and speak....to manipulate and put fear, anger and revenge in the minds of the members down there.
Remember too, that at this time all members attending the temple had taken an oath of vengeance
to avenge the death of any Prophet. Pratt was an ordained Apostle & Prophet.
If you don't mind reading a quote by Bagley, he relates how PPP's murder was used and he explains chronologically what took place. He has sources and documents to back this up too. Will was speaking at the 8th Annual Ex-Mormon Conference in 2002 and I find it fascinating to read:
"Ann Gordsley was the last thirteen-year-old that John D. Lee ever married. And she wrote this amazing autobiography. She has an amazing account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. But she explains what the reason was, what people in southern Utah believed was the reason for the massacre.
She said, "Parley P. Pratt was one of the apostles, and was in Kansas at Fort Scott and Fort Smith (in Arkansas) for the purposes of enlightening people on Mormonism. He unfortunately for himself was murdered by the heathen Gentiles. This emigrant train happened to be from the same section of the country in which Pratt was killed. The Mormons were so insulted and indignant over the death and the murder of Pratt that they wreaked untold vengeance on the poor emigrants. This is supposed to be the cause of the Mountain Meadow Massacre."
I think Ann Gordsley is telling us exactly what people in southern Utah knew.
And I had run into a mystery. Charles Wandell, an apostate Mormon writer, charged that when the Fancher party came through Salt Lake in August 1857, Parley P. Pratt's widow, Eleanor Pratt, fingered them. She hadn't seen Pratt killed, but she'd been in Arkansas, and she'd been present and had seen Pratt's body after he was murdered. She was Pratt's twelfth wife. She was also the legal wife of of Hector McLean. Hector McLean killed Parley Pratt after he was freed from a federal jail, and pretty brutally murdered him on the border of Arkansas.
McLean wrote this incredible letter to the Alta, California newspaper, saying that he considered the murder of Parley P. Pratt "the best act of his life." And he said the people of Arkansas believed the same thing.
Here is a quote, and it's just amazing, because it's as good an example of prophecy as you will ever find in Mormon history.
This was written in Alta, California, on July 9, 1857. Pratt was murdered in early May, and word has just gotten to Alta, California, in a letter from the murderer. Word had reached Utah on the 23rd of June, and the Alta, California says, "Whether the hot blood which must now be seething and boiling in the veins of Brigham Young and his satellites in Salt Lake is to be cooled by the murder of Gentiles who pass through their territory, whether the destroying angels of Mormondom are to be brought into requisition to make reprisals upon travelers, whether, as has been done before, saints disguised as Indians are to constitute themselves the supposed ministers of God's vengeance in this case, we are not informed, but have no doubt that such intentions are prevalent among those saintly villains, adulterers, and seducers of Salt Lake."
I mean, that's as chilling a prediction of future events as I think you'll come across in western history. But as I was investigating this, I thought there was a mystery here, I said, wait a minute. I knew from Eleanor Pratt's own hysterical account of the murder, and her continual pleas for vengeance, that she hadn't made it to St. Louis until the 18th of June. Now, the Fancher party is through Salt Lake in early August.
That six weeks---I'm an overland trails historian. I'm working on a book about the Oregon and California trails. I knew that she wasn't going to get from St. Louis to Salt Lake by ox-train in six weeks. She was only going to get there if she'd been expressed. I'd never heard of any express taking Eleanor across the plains, and I thought it's just not possible that she would be there. So I'm going through Wilford Woodruff's journal. First of August, he says, "I took Eleanor Pratt's statement on the murder of Parley P. Pratt." So, she WAS in Salt Lake.
But I still had the mystery of how did Eleanor get from St. Louis to Salt Lake that quickly. I knew it had to be by express. It had to be by some sort of special operation. The apostles, who were in St. Louis who she'd gone to, didn't show up in SLC until a week later, on the 7th of August. How did she get across the plains? And if I was any kind of deductive historian, I should have known the obvious, because there was a very famous express across the plains. I knew that express very well, but it just didn't seem possible to me that this could have anything to do with it.
But there it is, on the 23rd of July, 1857, on the eve of the tenth anniversary of Brigham Young's arrival in the Salt Lake valley, Elias Smith, who was probate judge, and cousin of Joseph Smith, and postmaster of Salt Lake, is sitting in town while all the other potentates have gone up into the Big Cottonwood Canyon and camped around Silver Lake, where they will witness one of the most stirring events in the morning of that tenth anniversary.
At noon, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Judson Stoddard, and A. O. Smoot will come thundering into camp, and they will deliver a message (that an army is coming) to the First Presidency. That evening Brigham addressed the Mormon people, declared independence, and announced that the Army is on its way. That now the thread is broken, the Kingdom of God is established, and the arrival of the Army in Utah will mark the beginning of the end of days.
All this is exceptionally well known. What is NOT well known is what Elias Smith revealed in his journal. Because on the evening of the 23rd, when Orrin Porter Rockwell came thundering down into Emigration Canyon in that buckboard, sitting beside him was Eleanor Pratt.
I knew when I saw that, that this was a calculated act of vengeance---that the orders came from Brigham Young, and they originated when the apostles met on the evening of the 26th of July, 1857, at Salt Lake, and Brigham Young, recording their discussion, and Brigham Young wrote, "We discussed our enemies," and he underlined "enemies" three times.
It was at that meeting that they decided to send George A. Smith south with orders to murder everyone in that party from Arkansas. And why do I know that? Because if you can expunge a fact like this from history, you didn't do it because it was just a trivial event. You did it because it told the tale.
And I think you'll probably be surprised as you read the book, you'll think it's just another one of these events, but it was for me a personal epiphany. And I think it gave the book some of the backbone it's got in saying "Here's what happened," and why I think I can speak with some authority. And I do feel that if people can't see the prima facie evidence of murder in this book, that I haven't done a good job of controlling my own personal biases. Because otherwise, it would be apparent. I could have very clearly said, "Look! See this, this is murder! See, when Eleanor arrives, that's the smoking gun." I didn't use the term 'smoking gun.' I just told the story.
I believe that most of you in this room will have no doubt about what happened, and I hope that it will also act to heal wounds, and to bring acceptance, and to vindicate the role of the Paiute Indians in this affair, and to bring justice to these murdered dead.
Sorry for this lengthy response Stealth
But this topic is pretty complicated and it's difficult to give just a simple answer. I do believe BY knew that none of these victims were involved in Pratt's murder and were innocent people who had done nothing to deserve how they were deceived & killed. Pratt was killed by an angry, violent husband (which is another great story to look into!) and BY knew that.
However, I also think that he did appear to get some pleasure out of inflicting some vengeance even if it was against those who didn't commit the crime.
For anyone who hasn't read it, here is the Oath of Vengeance that members took in the temple from 1845 until into the 1930's:
"You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and to your children's children unto the third and fourth generation."