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Pahoran

The Mountain Meadow Massacre

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Over one hundred and forty-eight years ago, a wagon train travelling from Arkansas to California on the Southern Route through Utah was ambushed and massacred by a mixed force of Southern Paiute warriors and mostly Mormon militia from Iron County, in Southern Utah. Ever since that time, the Mountain Meadow Massacre has been a cause celebre for anti-Mormons. Many, like Beadle and Bagley, have tried to make Brigham Young personally responsible for ordering the massacre; others, like our own Rollo, have tried the more sophisticated tack of trying to get him close enough to it to merely smear him by association.

In this thread, we shall discuss three questions: (1) the causes of the massacre--what were the events that brought it about; (2) the culprits behind it--who was responsible; and (3) the aftermath, and especially whether and to what extent there was any "cover-up" of the events and if so, by whom.

In the course of the discussion, I would like us to consider the following questions:

While discussing the culprits: did Brigham Young order the massacre? Is there any direct evidence implicating him? If not, can any argument be made based upon the notion that 19th Century Utah was some kind of "fanatical theocracy" in which all Mormons were strictly regimented and no-one would or could panic without orders, or is this notion an expression of mere prejudice?

Did the Mormon participants "dress as Indians" as some early libels claimed?

Did Brigham Young "go back to rip apart the makeshift grave and cross dedicated to 140 men, women and children?" If so, did that indicate his approval of the massacre, or is some more reasonable and humane explanation to hand?

Does the massacre constitute evidence against the truth claims of the Church of Jesus Christ? Does it have any relevance to what the Church is founded upon, or are rants about "fanaticism, perversion and murder" simply evidence of extreme prejudice on the part of the one doing the ranting?

Let the discussion begin. Keep it civil, please.

Regards,

Pahoran

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1. Brigham Young did not order the masacre

2. The cause was a group of over zelous mormons and John D> Lee was the scapegoat for the ahnious actions.

3. No cover up that I know of.

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In this thread, we shall discuss three questions: (1) the causes of the massacre--what were the events that brought it about; (2) the culprits behind it--who was responsible; and (3) the aftermath, and especially whether and to what extent there was any "cover-up" of the events and if so, by whom.

My thoughts:

While discussing the culprits: did Brigham Young order the massacre?

Not based on the evidence I've seen, but I do think he ordered the confrontation which ultimately led to the massacre.

Is there any direct evidence implicating him?

In premeditated murder? Not based on the evidence I've seen. In "setting the stage" for what ultimately became massacre? Yes, based on Dimick Huntington's record of the Sept. 1 meeting between BY and southern Utah Indian chiefs.

... can any argument be made based upon the notion that 19th Century Utah was some kind of "fanatical theocracy" ....

Yes.

Did the Mormon participants "dress as Indians" as some early libels claimed?

There is evidence both ways.

Did Brigham Young "go back to rip apart the makeshift grave and cross dedicated to 140 men, women and children?"

There is evidence (WW's journal and Dudley Leavitt's account) that BY directed the destruction of Carleton's Cairn.

If so, did that indicate his approval of the massacre, or is some more reasonable and humane explanation to hand?

According to WW's quote of BY's statement at the cairn, BY viewed the massacre as a form of God's vengeance on the Fancher party.

Does the massacre constitute evidence against the truth claims of the Church of Jesus Christ?

Imo, no.

Does it have any relevance to what the Church is founded upon .... [?]

I don't think so.

... or are rants about "fanaticism, perversion and murder" simply evidence of extreme prejudice on the part of the one doing the ranting?

Perhaps, but I also think the things you list were real to a degree in pioneer Utah.

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In this thread, we shall discuss three questions: (1) the causes of the massacre--what were the events that brought it about; (2) the culprits behind it--who was responsible; and (3) the aftermath, and especially whether and to what extent there was any "cover-up" of the events and if so, by whom.

My thoughts:

While discussing the culprits: did Brigham Young order the massacre?

Not based on the evidence I've seen, but I do think he ordered the confrontation which ultimately led to the massacre.

Really?

You think it was Brigham who ordered Johnston's army into Utah to put down a non-existent rebellion? I'd no idea.

Is there any direct evidence implicating him?

In premeditated murder? Not based on the evidence I've seen.

I'm sorry, but is a simple "no" just too hard for you?

In "setting the stage" for what ultimately became massacre?  Yes, based on Dimick Huntington's record of the Sept. 1 meeting between BY and southern Utah Indian chiefs.

Dimick Huntington's record of the Aug. 30 meeting between BY and northern Utah Indian chiefs tells an identical story, but no massacre happened up there; how do you account for that?

Then there is the inconvenient little fact that the discussions at Cedar City that culminated in the massacre started the same day. How did Brigham get them going--communication by floo powder, perhaps?

And of course, you keep stubbing your toe on the fact that, while the Paiute chiefs in Salt Lake on 1 September might have been able to get to the meadows in time to participate in some part of the attack, they would have been too late to start the ball rolling, and would have had to leave too early to actually be in at the death.

... can any argument be made based upon the notion that 19th Century Utah was some kind of "fanatical theocracy" ....

Yes.

Naturally; all the anti-Mormons think that.

Did the Mormon participants "dress as Indians" as some early libels claimed?

There is evidence both ways.

Only if fictionalised, undocumented and pseudonymous accusations count as "evidence."

Did Brigham Young "go back to rip apart the makeshift grave and cross dedicated to 140 men, women and children?"

There is evidence (WW's journal and Dudley Leavitt's account) that BY directed the destruction of Carleton's Cairn.

"Directed" how? Do both sources tell the same story, or is the unanimity not quite as great as you'd have us believe?

If so, did that indicate his approval of the massacre, or is some more reasonable and humane explanation to hand?

According to WW's quote of BY's statement at the cairn, BY viewed the massacre as a form of God's vengeance on the Fancher party.

And according to the same source, the inscription on the cross threatened vengeance upon the Mormon population. Why did you suppress that fact, Rollo?

Does the massacre constitute evidence against the truth claims of the Church of Jesus Christ?

Imo, no.

Does it have any relevance to what the Church is founded upon .... [?]

I don't think so.

... or are rants about "fanaticism, perversion and murder" simply evidence of extreme prejudice on the part of the one doing the ranting?

Perhaps, but I also think the things you list were real to a degree in pioneer Utah.

While fanaticism and extreme prejudice are just as real in 21st-Century Internet fora.

Regards,

Pahoran

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And according to the same source, the inscription on the cross threatened vengeance upon the Mormon population.  Why did you suppress that fact, Rollo?

"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, so saith the lord"

If the Church and Brigham Young bore no accountability/responsibility for the massacre why would they ever feel 'threatened' by"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, so saith the lord" posted on a cross at the site where 140 were brutalized? Only those responsible for the massacre would need fear Gods vengeance for the act...

Why did Brigham Young hide John D. Lee at Lee's ferry knowing he was responsible for the murder of 140 people?

Why do you ignore this statement fromJohn D Lee himself:

"I was guided in all that I did which is called criminal, by the orders of the leaders in the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints. I have never knowingly disobeyed the orders of the chrurch since I joined it at Far West, Missouri, until I was deserted by Brigham Young and his slaves"

How in one post can you use John D. Lee's words to vindicate Brigham Young, but dismiss words from John D. Lee that appear to implicate him?

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If the Church and Brigham Young bore no accountability/responsibility for the massacre why would they ever feel 'threatened' by"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, so saith the lord" posted on a cross at the site where 140 were brutalized?  Only those responsible for the massacre would need fear Gods vengeance for the act...

I can easily imagine -- can't you? -- that someone who has been falsely accused of responsibility for a heinous crime might still regard a vocal call for divine vengeance (by those who had accused him) as being aimed at him, and that he might take umbrage at the implicit message of such a call. It needn't be a matter of feeling threatened or being fearful, but might, in fact, represent feeling outraged and abused.

Still, this incident, if it really occurred, may, if it is interpreted as you want to interpret it, be the very strongest evidence that you have of Brigham Young's guilt. Which means that you seem to possess no significant evidence of his guilt.

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I can easily imagine -- can't you? -- that someone who has been falsely accused of responsibility for a heinous crime might still regard a vocal call for divine vengeance (by those who had accused him) as being aimed at him, and that he might take umbrage at the implicit message of such a call. It needn't be a matter of feeling threatened or being fearful, but might, in fact, represent feeling outraged and abused.

Saying that is true, was it necessary to dismantle the memorial stone by stone? None of Brigham Youngs actions protray the actions of an innocent man. This isn't a court of law, but typically the simplest scenario is typically the correct one...

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Mickey_D29:

Why?

It's not an indictment on your theology or religion, rather an indictment on the early leadership of your church. Me questioning the involvement of early Chruch leadership isn't an indictment on your beliefs, they aren't mutually exclusive. There's no religion in the world that doesn't bear some responsibility for heinous crimes. I feel there is good circumstantial evidence that point to

a. Brigham Young having advanced knowledge of the events

b. a larger cover up of what the church knew that continues today.

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Mickey_D29:

Show me where Brigham Young had advanced knowledge of what John Lee would do. A criminal court case decision would be nice as knowledge aforehand is equal to being an accomplice, a major felony.

Show me where the Church has covereup its involvement. A criminal court case would be nice as conspiracy to hide a crime is a major felony.

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I don't think anyone really knows what happened except those who were there. Any history is going to be slanted by prejudices one way or the other with the truth likely somewhere in between. Whatever wrongs were done will be dealt with by God.

It is hard for me to imagine BY being involved. He may have roared like a lion but according to accounts I have read he was quite compassionate and loving.

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And according to the same source, the inscription on the cross threatened vengeance upon the Mormon population.

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Mickey_D29:

Why?

It's not an indictment on your theology or religion, rather an indictment on the early leadership of your church. Me questioning the involvement of early Chruch leadership isn't an indictment on your beliefs, they aren't mutually exclusive. There's no religion in the world that doesn't bear some responsibility for heinous crimes. I feel there is good circumstantial evidence that point to

a. Brigham Young having advanced knowledge of the events

That is because you have been naive enough to uncritically accept everything that Krakauer says.

There is in fact no evidence at all, of any kind, that Brigham had advance knowledge of the events. OTOH, the fact that he reacted to the news that the attack was in progress by giving explicit written and oral orders to save the emigrants is very strong evidence to the contrary.

b. a larger cover up of what the church knew that continues today.

Conspiracy theories abound!

Now Mickey, this thread is an opportunity for you to get your questions answered. That's assuming that you have questions and are willing to listen to answers; if Krakauer's discredited book is all your brain has room for; if you've completely made up your mind and you will thank us not to try to confuse you with facts, then this thread is unlikely to help you.

Regards,

Pahoran

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It is hard for me to imagine BY being involved. He may have roared like a lion but according to accounts I have read he was quite compassionate and loving.

You're exactly right.

Davis Bitton (Ph.D., Princeton University) is an emeritus professor of history at the University of Utah, a former assistant Church historian, a former president of the Mormon History Association, a distinguished and prolific historian, and a very good friend of mine. He knows the nineteenth century of the Church in Utah and the relevant historical documents as well as anybody alive.

As he once commented to me, not only is there no serious evidence that Brigham Young had prior knowledge of the Mountain Meadows Massacre (let alone that he ordered it), there exists not a shred of evidence in the record of what Brigham Young ever said or did, publicly or privately, to suggest that his character was such that he would order or approve such an act. Quite the contrary.

But Mickey_D29 has read Krakauer.

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Well see then Dr. Peterson? It just shows to go us that Bitton is biased! :P

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I can easily imagine -- can't you? -- that someone who has been falsely accused of responsibility for a heinous crime might still regard a vocal call for divine vengeance (by those who had accused him) as being aimed at him, and that he might take umbrage at the implicit message of such a call.  It needn't be a matter of feeling threatened or being fearful, but might, in fact, represent feeling outraged and abused.

Saying that is true, was it necessary to dismantle the memorial stone by stone? None of Brigham Youngs actions protray the actions of an innocent man. This isn't a court of law, but typically the simplest scenario is typically the correct one...

It has been noted here that the destruction of this rock-cairn monument is in doubt.

I will mention that in her book Mountain Meadows Massacre Juanita Brooks stated this in a footnote on page 183:

The story of the destruction of the monument has been occasion for discussion among scholars, because some later travelers refer to it as standing.

She then goes on to quote the journal of Lorenzo Brown from an entry of July 1, 1864, in which he gives a detailed description of the monument.

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In the BYU Studies (1975) Klaus Hansen reviewed

OAKS, DALLIN H., AND Marvin S. Hill. Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith. Urbana, Chicago, London: University of Illinois Press, 1975, and noted on page 440 that

"In a larger context, it seems clear that the Carthage trial had important consequences for Mormon history. We do know, for example, that at least some of the Mormon participants in the Mountain Meadows massacre believed they were avenging the death of the Prophet Joseph and that prominent members of the Council of Fifty were among the ringleaders, while George A. Smith played a leading role in hushing up its true dimensions. Beyond this, the trial appears to have had far-reaching implications for Mormon attitudes toward the U. S. judiciary system, influencing the establishment of bishops' and probate courts in Utah--a major source of friction between the gentiles and saints. It is these "larger" issues that deserve more careful scrutiny."

And Leonard J. Aarington (in BYU Studies, 1977) reviewed WISE, WILLIAM. Massacre at Mountain Meadows: An American Legend and a Monumental Crime. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976, and noted on page 382 that

"...he [Wise] dismisses the best available treatise on the massacre, The Mountain Meadows Massacre by Juanita Brooks, published by Stanford University Press in 1950 and republished by University of Oklahoma Press in 1962. Widely praised for the thoroughness of her research and her relentless honesty in following the evidence where it led her, Mrs. Brooks wrestled with the larger, more significant question of how the massacre could have happened. Her most valuable insight has to do with the fact that the Mormons in Southern Utah had come to perceive the Fancher train as criminals and enemies, that a war psychology had been whipped up by the approach of a body of 2,500 federal troops, and that once a series of events was set in motion it became impossible to reverse it. The possibility of Brigham Young's complicity is one she naturally considered. Her conclusion is that he cannot be blamed for the crime in the sense of having ordered it. But Brooks sought not primarily to pin the responsibility in a simple way but to understand. Recognizing the background of persecution in which the Mormons had themselves been victims, and the hysteria of the Utah War period, she was able to present the evidence in a way that made sense to Mormons and non-Mormons alike--to professional historians and "buffs". (My emphasis)

Best,

Kerry

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I can offer only information that was brought out several years ago by a documentary on either the History Channel or Discovery Channel on this event... it showed film of a recent get-together of the descendants of those massacred and those that did the massacre, at the Mountain Meadows site. It was quite an experience to see these two factions come together and attempt to come to forgiveness and closure... there were perhaps 30 - 40 descendants representing both sides in attendance... the documentary, which attempted to present the facts as known by historians, also reported that at the time the wagon train encountered the militia/indians, there was concern about some of the men having been a part of the Missouri persecutions and raids... it told that a rider was dispatched to Salt Lake City to report to Brigham Young and ask what action to take... Brigham Young reportedly told the rider to return and tell the militia to let the wagons go through in peace without any action... before the rider could reach the site with Young's instructions, the massacre took place. I cannot remember who sponsored the documentary (only that it was not LDS), its been several years... But I do remember trying to imagine what it must have been like for the two sides to gather at the site of the massacre and try to come to understanding. GG

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Yes Garden Girl. This is discussed in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article on the MMM:

Mountain Meadows Massacre

In September 1990, some two thousand persons gathered in Cedar City, Utah, to effect a reconciliation among those whose ancestors died or participated in what may be considered the most unfortunate incident in the history of the LDS Church, the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The massacre occurred between September 7 and 11, 1857, when a group of Mormon settlers in southern Utah joined with nearby Indians in killing all but some of the youngest members of a group of non-Mormon emigrants en route to California.

After years of painstaking research, Juanita Brooks, author of an oft-cited book on the tragedy, concluded, "The complete-the absolute-truth of the affair can probably never be evaluated by any human being; attempts to understand the forces which culminated in it and those which were set into motion by it are all very inadequate at best" (Brooks, p. 223). Yet, as Brooks makes clear, a few elements that helped contribute to the tragedy are evident.

Among these is the fact that a large contingent of United States troops was marching westward toward Utah Territory in the summer of 1857 (see Utah Expedition). Despite having been the federally appointed territorial governor, Brigham Young was not informed by Washington of the army's purpose and interpreted the move as a renewal of the persecution the Latter-day Saints had experienced before their westward hegira. "We are invaded by a hostile force who are evidently assailing us to accomplish our overthrow and destruction," he proclaimed on August 5, 1857. Anticipating an attack, he declared the territory to be under martial law and ordered "[t]hat all the forces in said Territory hold themselves in readiness to March, at a moment's notice, to repel any and all such threatened invasion" (Arrington, p. 254).

Part of Brigham Young's strategy in repelling the approaching army was to enlist local Indian tribes as allies. In an August 4 letter to southern Utah, for example, he urged one Latter-day Saint to "[c]ontinue the conciliatory policy towards the Indians, which I have ever recommended, and seek by works of righteousness to obtain their love and confidence, for they must learn that they have either got to help us or the United States will kill us both" (Brooks, p. 34).

966Meanwhile, owing to the lateness of the season, a party of emigrants bound for California elected to take the southern route that passed through Cedar City and thirty-five miles beyond to the Mountain Meadows, which was then an area of springs, bogs, and plentiful grass where travelers frequently stopped to rejuvenate themselves and their stock before braving the harsh desert landscape to the west. Led by John T. Baker and Alexander Fancher, the diverse party consisted of perhaps 120 persons, most of whom left from Arkansas but others of whom joined the company along their journey.

As the Baker-Fancher party traveled from Salt Lake City to the Mountain Meadows, tensions developed between some of the emigrants, on the one hand, and Mormon settlers and their Native American allies, on the other. Spurred by rumors, their own observations, and memories of atrocities some of them had endured in Missouri and Illinois, Mormon residents in and around Cedar City felt compelled to take some action against the emigrant train but ultimately decided to dispatch a rider to Brigham Young seeking his counsel. Leaving September 7, 1857, the messenger made the nearly 300-mile journey in just a little more than three days.

Approximately one hour after his arrival, the messenger was on his way back with a letter from Brigham Young, who said he did not expect the federal soldiers to arrive that fall because of their poor stock. "They cannot get here this season without we help them," he explained. "So you see that the Lord has answered our prayers and again averted the blow designed for our heads." Responding to the plea for counsel, he added, "In regard to the 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" (Brooks, p. 63). The messenger arrived back in Cedar City on September 13.

By that time, however, it was too late, and nearly all the men, women, and children of the Baker-Fancher party lay dead. Besides a few persons who left the party before the attack, only about eighteen small children were spared. Two years later, seventeen of the children were returned to family members in northwestern Arkansas. Two decades after the tragedy, one of the Mormon settlers who were present at the massacre, John D. Lee, was executed by a firing squad at the Mountain Meadows, symbolically carrying to the grave the responsibility for those who "were led to do what none singly would have done under normal conditions, and for which none singly can be held responsible" (Brooks, p. 218).

Yet for more than another century after Lee's death, the community guilt of those who participated in the massacre continued to fester alongside the collective pain of both the children who survived it and the relatives of those who did not. Then in the late 1980s, the descendants of those affected by the tragedy began meeting to bind the wounds and achieve a reconciliation. On September 15, 1990, many of them gathered to dedicate a memorial marker to those who died at the Mountain Meadows.

One speaker at the marker dedication was Judge Roger V. Logan, Jr., of Harrison, Arkansas, a man related to twenty-one of the massacre victims listed on the marker, as well as to five of the children who survived. "I am happy to say that thanks to the work, cooperation and gifts of many of you," he said, "there is now an appropriate monument standing in the place of the emigrants' demise; a monument containing the names of eighty-two persons who died and seventeen who survived and [that] also contains reference to many others who may have been a part of the caravan." As he read the victims' names, he asked all related to them to stand in their honor.

Brigham Young University President Rex E. Lee, a descendant of John D. Lee, also spoke at the memorial service, saying he found little solace in recognizing that similar tragedies had occurred across time and space. "Any attempt to recreate the human dynamics that were at work in southern Utah in the fall of 1857 can only leave us bewildered as to how rational human beings at any time, in any place, under any circumstances could have permitted such a tragedy to occur."

968"Fortunately," he added, "full comprehension of the reasons is as unnecessary as it would be impossible. Our task for today is not to look backward, nor to rationalize, nor to engage in any kind of retroactive analysis nor apology. Our focus is not on 1857. It is on 1990. It is on our generation, and on those that are yet to come. And whatever drove the actions of those who came before, ours must be driven by something higher and more noble."

Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the LDS Church First Presidency, offered the prayer dedicating the new monument. In a talk delivered before the prayer, President Hinckley said he came "not as a descendant of any of the parties involved at Mountain Meadows" but "as a representative of an entire people who have suffered much over what occurred there."

"In our time," he said, "we can read such history as is available, but we really cannot understand nor comprehend that which occurred those tragic and terrible September days in 1857. Rather, we are grateful for the ameliorating influence that has brought us together in a spirit of reconciliation as new generations gather with respect and appreciation one for another. A bridge has been built across a chasm of cankering bitterness. We walk across that bridge and greet one another with a spirit of love, forgiveness, and with hope that there will never be a repetition of anything of the kind." (Excerpts from the talks are all taken from unpublished manuscripts found in the Mountain Meadows Memorial collection, LDS Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah.)

Best,

Kerry

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My answers to these questions:

Brigham did not order the massacre and neither did George A. Smith. The massacre was the work of the Iron County militia operating without orders from above. There is no direct evidence implicating Brigham Young, and the circumstantial evidence is flimsy or worse.

19th Century Utah was in no way a "fanatical theocracy." Brigham Young was the federally appointed governor, but the Latter-day Saints lived rather quietly and inoffensively. It is true that most of the massacre perpetrators were Church members and some were ecclesiastical leaders who should have known better; however, it is significant to note that Isaac Haight, a stake president, was taking orders from William Dame, a bishop. How does that work? Well, in the Church, it doesn't; but in the context of the Iron County militia, in which Dame was the commanding officer with the rank of colonel and Haight was a subordinate officer with the rank of major, it works quite well. The massacre was a militia operation, not a Church-based action. The accusation that Utah was a "fanatical theocracy" is a blatant appeal to the very worst prejudices; as such, it is made only by the most unscrupulous demagogues.

The claim that the Mormon participants "dressed as Indians" was a quite deliberate 19th Century falsehood, concocted with intent to deceive people into believing that there were no Indians present at all, and that the entire massacre, from beginning to end, was carried out by Mormons. The reality is that the Paiutes, led by John D. Lee, attacked the wagon train early in the morning of the 7th of September and kept up the attack until nightfall on the 10th. The Mormons only got involved once the attack was well under way.

There are good reasons to doubt the stories of Brigham "directing" the destruction of the cairn. If that did happen, the likely explanation is to be found in the threatening inscription to be found thereon, and not in Brigham's approval of the massacre. Note that at this time he had still not been told who did what, and still believed that the Indians were responsible.

Brigham Young personally directed the successful and virtually bloodless resistance to the approaching federal army; by contrast, the massacre took place three hundred miles away from Brigham and outside his immediate control. The notion that it somehow demonstrates that the Church of Jesus Christ "is founded on, fanaticism, perversion (multiple wives), and murder" is a grossly ignorant one that has no basis in reality.

The culprits in the MMM were the participants therein. There is no need to look any farther afield than Cedar City.

The causes of the MMM are a little more complex. There are some who would like to trace it back to Brigham's defense of the territory against Johnston's army, but who want to stop there. By what logic can a defensive military action be regarded as a "cause" of an event if the offensive operation to which it responds is not? The attack is what "sets in motion a chain of events;" the defence is simply one of the events thus set in motion. It is agreed by all that if Johnston's army had not been approaching, the MMM would never have happened. Brigham did not order Johnston's army into Utah; James Buchanan did. Therefore it is his famous "blunder" that provides us with the "proximate cause" for the massacre.

Finally there is the question of a cover-up. Was there one? There is no doubt that the participants tried to conceal their own guilt, including giving false reports to Brigham. Why would they do that if they thought Brigham sanctioned or approved their actions? The only possible answer was that he didn't and they knew it.

But has the Church engaged in any "cover-up," either on behalf of the perpetrators, or to conceal its institutional guilt?

No. It didn't happen.

Regards,

Pahoran

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My two cents after someone giving me the cliff note version I think to myself 'who really cares?'

I mean really ok so let's say they ambushed and killed them and...? what's the point?

Great so Mormonism has ugly past of killing those not part of their religion or such...

welcome to the rest of the other religions you fit right in....

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Her conclusion is that he cannot be blamed for the crime in the sense of having ordered it. But Brooks sought not primarily to pin the responsibility in a simple way but to understand. Recognizing the background of persecution in which the Mormons had themselves been victims, and the hysteria of the Utah War period, she was able to present the evidence in a way that made sense to Mormons and non-Mormons alike--to professional historians and "buffs". (My emphasis)

After years of painstaking research, Juanita Brooks, author of an oft-cited book on the tragedy, concluded, "The complete-the absolute-truth of the affair can probably never be evaluated by any human being; attempts to understand the forces which culminated in it and those which were set into motion by it are all very inadequate at best" (Brooks, p. 223).

This is what I have been saying about most of LDS History. We can't know all that was happening and must at least try and see all the inducements and settings emotionally, psychologically and religiously.

So why the constant flow of this kind of thing being brought up? One or two reasons.

First, to try and discredit the church because they have fallen out of the ranks.

Second, to try and understand it.

If they are the first they should be dismissed summarily. But if they are trying to understand it, they will have to do it with a fair mind, not have preconceived ideas and finally, accept that there is absolutely no way to really know everything that could possibly bring a complete picture in its correct light to past events.

Think about this, these people were dedicated enough to God and the church to survive several mob attacks and several times being driven from their homes, not to mention a lot of other faith trying experiences.

Would they suddenly become murders for no other reason than to get their jollies?

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Pahoran wrote:

Brigham did not order the massacre and neither did George A. Smith.

I agree with your statement on Brigham, but I do believe he bears some culpability for setting the stage for the ultimate massacre. I also agree with your statement about GAS, but I think he also bears culpability for enflaming the southern Utah saints that contributed to the atmosphere that made the massacre possible.

There is no direct evidence implicating Brigham Young, and the circumstantial evidence is flimsy or worse.

I think there is strong evidence (the Sept. 1 meeting) that implicates BY in targeting the Fancher party for engagement by the Indians.

19th Century Utah was in no way a "fanatical theocracy."

The Oath of Vengeance would suggest otherwise, along with Brigham's preaching of blood atonement.

Brigham Young was the federally appointed governor, but the Latter-day Saints lived rather quietly and inoffensively.

Brigham had already been replaced as governor, and even if he didn't know it at the time, he knew his days were numbered since the army was on the way to take him out.

The massacre was a militia operation, not a Church-based action.

Then why did they bother to send a messenger to ask Brigham what to do?

The accusation that Utah was  a "fanatical theocracy" is a blatant appeal to the very worst prejudices; as such, it is made only by the most unscrupulous demagogues.

The Church and militia leaders tended to be one in the same. There was little or no separation of church and state in Utah at this time. It was as close to a theocracy as ever existed in the U.S. Again, if there was no theocracy, then why bother to send an express ride all the way to Salt Lake to ask Brigham what to do about the Fanchers?

The Mormons only got involved once the attack was well under way.

The massacre (not just the "attack") is what bothers folks to this day, and the Mormons played a leading role in the wanton slaughter of unarmed men, women and children.

There are good reasons to doubt the stories of Brigham "directing" the destruction of the cairn.

No there isn't.

If that did happen, the likely explanation is to be found in the threatening inscription to be found thereon, and not in Brigham's approval of the massacre.  Note that at this time he had still not been told who did what, and still believed that the Indians were responsible.

He also believed the Fanchers got what they deserved.

... the massacre took place three hundred miles away from Brigham and outside his immediate control.

I'll ask again: if this were true, why was a messenger sent to Brigham to ask what to do?

The notion that it somehow demonstrates that the Church of Jesus Christ "is founded on, fanaticism, perversion (multiple wives), and murder" is a grossly ignorant one that has no basis in reality.

I agree, but things like MMM, the Oath of Vengeance, blood atonement, etc., make folks wonder why a religion (or at least some of its early leaders) seemed so damn bloodthirsty.

The culprits in the MMM were the participants therein.  There is no need to look any farther afield than Cedar City.

I disagree. Expand your focus to include SLC and I think you've got everyone.

By what logic can a defensive military action be regarded as a "cause" of an event if the offensive operation to which it responds is not?

BY's defensive plan included shutting down the trails in Utah to overland emigrant travel. The Fanchers were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is agreed by all that if Johnston's army had not been approaching, the MMM would never have happened.

Agreed.

Brigham did not order Johnston's army into Utah; James Buchanan did.  Therefore it is his famous "blunder" that provides us with the "proximate cause" for the massacre.

More "proximate" was GAS's incendiary tour through southern Utah and BY's instructions at the Sept. 1 meeting.

Finally there is the question of a cover-up.  Was there one?

I think so. Lee was the sacrificial lamb. I think Lee received justice, but I think many others escaped justice.

But has the Church engaged in any "cover-up," either on behalf of the perpetrators, or to conceal its institutional guilt?

I think the Church to this day is in denial. I don't recall one instance in its 175 years of existence that the institutional Church has apologized for anything, so I guess this is to be expected with MMM. I think a public apology is in order for whatever role the Church, its teachings, or its leaders played in contributing to the massacre. I know, this will never happen ... because being the one and only true church means never having to say you're sorry. :P

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It has been noted here that the destruction of this rock-cairn monument is in doubt.

I will mention that in her book Mountain Meadows Massacre Juanita Brooks stated this in a footnote on page 183:

The story of the destruction of the monument has been occasion for discussion among scholars, because some later travelers refer to it as standing.

She then goes on to quote the journal of Lorenzo Brown from an entry of July 1, 1864, in which he gives a detailed description of the monument.

The cairn was reportedly 12 to 15 feet in height at the time of BY's visit; it was only 3 or so feet tall at the time Lorenzo Brown visited. This seems to suggest the cairn was rebuilt to some extent after BY had it destroyed; but it clearly was not the same cairn.

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