Question: Was Brigham Young's letter ordering immigrants to be left alone "mysteriously lost"?

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Question: Was Brigham Young's letter ordering immigrants to be left alone "mysteriously lost"?

This claim is false: The letter is in the proper place and chronology in Brigham Young's letterbooks. There is no sign that it is a forgery or composed after the fact

Critics charge that Brigham Young's letter telling Mormons in southern Utah to leave the immigrants alone is of dubious providence, since "the actual text of Brigham Young's letter remains in some doubt, because the original has disappeared (along with almost every other official document pertaining to the Mountain Meadows massacre....[A] purported draft of the letter...didn't surface until 1884, when an LDS functionary came upon it in the pages of a 'Church Letter Book'" (p. 221n). [1]

The letter is in the proper place and chronology in Brigham Young's letterbooks. There is no sign that it is a forgery or composed after the fact. It is a contemporaneous document.

This claim is false. As one author pointed out:

As with most of Brigham Young's correspondence, this letter was copied immediately after being written by using a letterpress book that contained onionskin pages to create a mirror image of the document. [Richard Turley noted that] "A perfect mirror image of Young's famous letter is right where it should be in Brigham's 1857 letterpress copybook. It is a contemporaneous copy and was available to and used by the prosecution in the trial that led to John D. Lee's conviction and subsequent execution in the 1870s."[2]

The original letter is found in: Brigham Young to Isaac C. Haight, 10 Sept 1857 Letterpress Copybook 3:827–28, Brigham Young Office Files, LDS Church Archives. It is reproduced in Turley, Walker and Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows, 184-185.

The relevant phrase says, "In regard to emigration trains passing through our settlements, we must not interfere with them until they are first notified to keep away. You must not meddle with them. The Indians we expect will do as they please but you should try and preserve good feelings with them. There are no other trains going south that I know of[.] [I]f those who are there will leave let them go in peace."

Notes

  1. Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (Anchor, 2004), 221n.
  2. Craig L. Foster, "Doing Violence to Journalistic Integrity (Review of: "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of a Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer)," FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 149–174. off-site; citing Richard E. Turley Jr., "Church Response to Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven," available at www.lds.org/newsroom/mistakes (accessed 9 July 2003).


[[de:Mountain Meadows Massaker]