Jump to content

Sidney's "Salt Sermon"


USU78

Recommended Posts

Historians blame Sidney Rigdon and his so-called "Salt Sermon" given in Caldwell County (designated a "Mormon County" by the State of Missouri) on 4 July for the horrors of Boggs' extermination order and all that ensued.

Here's the actual text. My question is, bellicose as it might be, how can one justify exterminating people who've already been driven out by mobs across the river to that ill-timbered piece of praerie based upon this not particularly exceptional piece of XIXth Century bombast?

____________________________________

Oops: forgot the link: Sidney all reved up

Link to comment

You really had to read way down to get to the fiery section. But I can see how these paragraphs could serve as an excuse, written as they are, for the actions that followed them. Advocating a war of extermination is never a wise thing to do unless you have a lot of ammunition stockpiled.

Link to comment
You really had to read way down to get to the fiery section. But I can see how these paragraphs could serve as an excuse, written as they are, for the actions that followed them. Advocating a war of extermination is never a wise thing to do unless you have a lot of ammunition stockpiled.

But notice he said, "We'll never start it, but we'll finish it."

Seems quite tame, really. I compare it to the 1st Centennial Speech at the Wyoming Massacre Site in Western Pennsylvania (I had a couple of ancestors killed in the massacre). This ain't nuthin' compared with that.

Link to comment

I believe the effect of the "Salt Sermon" was to stir the Saints in anger towards the "dissenting" Saints.

Note, also, that there were two Rigdon speeches. There was the "Salt Sermon" on June 17, but then another one on July 4, after the dissidents had left. The link in the first post is to the July 4 speech, which wasn't the "Salt Sermon".

In the wake of their expulsion from the church, the dissenters [David and John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and W.W. Phelps, among others] did not repudiate their faith but remained loyal to a different understanding of Mormonism. Rather than quietly melt away, they hoped to awaken others to perceived corruptions in the church. This determination enraged Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who responded by launching a purity crusade, reminding the Saints that their salvation in the last days depended upon their perfect union. In response, zealots began holding meetings to decide how best to silence the dissenters. In one such meeting in early June 1838 a variety of methods were discussed, with some participants even calling for the dissenters' murders. Corrill was appalled and vociferously opposed such measures, much to the irritation of Sidney Rigdon, who warned Corrill that his attempt to interfere with actions directed at the dissenters put his own well-being at risk. Much chastened, Corrill soon learned that these meetings continued although he no longer received an invitation to attend them.57

The new militancy directed at the dissenters surfaced publicly on June 17, 1838, when Rigdon preached what has been popularly called the "Salt Sermon" because of its text from Matthew 5:13: "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under the foot of men." Rigdon argued that the dissenters had lost their savor by abandoning their faith and deserved ill-treatment. The Salt Sermon had the desired effect. During the next few days, a frenzy of anger welled up against the dissenters. Corrill secretly warned the dissenters of just how much danger they were in. Shortly [p.62] thereafter, eighty-three of the prophet's loyalists signed a "Note of Warning," giving the dissenters three days to leave Caldwell County or face forcible expulsion. When the dissenters left the county in search of legal aid, zealots turned their wives and children out of their homes, and Mormon-controlled courts ordered their property confiscated for debt.58

As hostility toward those who would criticize the church leadership reached a fever pitch, it found institutional expression in the creation of a secret paramilitary force called the Sons of Dan, or Danites. Led by Dr. Sampson Avard, whom Corrill described "as grand a villain as his wit and ability would admit," the Danites bound themselves together through covenants that sanctioned serious crimes if undertaken in the service of the church presidency.59

"Such Republicanism as This": John Corrill's Rejection of Prophetic Rule

Kenneth H. Winn p.62,

Launius and Thatcher, Differing Visions,

Here's some background info from Von Wagoner's bio of Sidney Rigdon:

In forcefully separating chaff from wheat, the Danites applied to their own brethren the same tactics used against them previously. Reed Peck, in a candid account of Danite activities, wrote that they were organized during a clandestine 10 June meeting when Jared Carter, George W. Robinson, and Sampson Avard, "under the instruction of the [First] [P]residency, formed a secret military society, called the 'daughter of Zion.'"33 Avard was the group's spokesman. He addressed newly inducted members in unmistakable Masonic overtones:

As the Lord had raised up a prophet in these last days like unto Moses it shall be the duty of this band to obey him in all things, and whatever he requires you shall perform being ready to give up life and property for the advancement of the cause[.] When any thing is to be performed no member shall have the privilege of judging whether it would be right or wrong but shall engage in its accomplishment and trust God for the result[.]34

Yet when a proposition was made and "supported by some as being the best policy  to kill [the dissenters] that they would not be capable of injuring the church,"35 this was strenuously opposed by John Corrill and Thomas B. Marsh, president of the Quorum of the Twelve. A modified plan of intimidation and minor violence was instead adopted. Violent opposition to dissent was officially pronounced during a Sunday sermon on 17 June by Sidney Rigdon, whose hatred of dissenters amounted to an obsession.

Later accounts have implied that Rigdon spoke on his own behalf that day in the town square at Far West. But evidence suggests that he was, in fact, serving as official spokesman for the First Presidency. From Smith came the concept, from Rigdon the words, and from the people the power. Designated "spokesman unto the Lord

Link to comment

Here's a quick summary that ties events together. It seems unlikely that the "Salt Sermon" by itself would have led to external strife. It was one of many factors.

As the Mormons tried to create a separated community of believers, they found internal dissent at least as odious as outside persecution. On June 17, 1838, Sidney Rigdon of the church's first presidency delivered his famous "Salt Sermon" based on Matthew 5:13, which was widely interpreted as a warning to critics to leave Far West. Shortly afterwards a document signed by more than eighty Latter-day Saints ordered dissenters out, and Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and other excommunicants bowed to the pressure and left.

Freed from internal dissent, Mormons reacted against outside interference with equal vigor. In a July 4 oration Rigdon threatened "a war of extermination" between the Saints and any "mob that comes on us to disturb us."

Missourians thought at first that they could tolerate the Mormons as long as the two communities remained separated, and the legislature created Caldwell County as a Mormon ghetto. As the influx from Kirtland swelled the ranks of those already in Missouri, Mormons began to spill over into surrounding counties like Daviess and Carroll, and conflict resulted. Gentile opposition mounted, and violence erupted over the issue of political power as a group of Mormons tried to vote in elections on August 6 at Gallatin, Daviess County.

Thomas G. Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth: The Life and Times of Wilford Woodruff, a Mormon Prophet, p.79

Link to comment

>Later accounts have implied that Rigdon spoke on his own behalf that day in the town square at Far West. But evidence suggests that he was, in fact, serving as official spokesman for the First Presidency. From Smith came the concept, from Rigdon the words, and from the people the power. Designated "spokesman unto the Lord

Link to comment

Here is the "offending" excerpt:

We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever, for from this hour, we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity. The man or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination, for we will follow them, till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the seal of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed. --Remember it then all MEN.

We will never be the aggressors, we will infringe on the rights of no people; but shall stand for our own until death. We claim our own rights, and are willing that all others shall enjoy theirs.

No man shall be at liberty to come into our streets, to threaten us with mobs, for if he does, he shall atone for it before he leaves the place, neither shall he be at liberty, to villify and slander any of us, for suffer it we will not in this place.

We therefore, take all men to record this day, that we proclaim our liberty on this day, as did our fathers.

And we pledge this day to one another, our fortunes, our lives, and our sacred honors, to be delivered from the persecutions which we have had to endure, for the last nine years, or nearly that. Neither will we indulge any man, or set of men, in instituting vexatious law suits against us, to cheat us out of our just rights, if they attempt it we say we be unto them.

We this day then proclaim ourselves free, with a purpose and a determination, that never can be broken, "no never! no never!! NO NEVER"!!!

[Emphasis added]

Pretext it was, and nothing more.

Sure, the Mormons were hardly the weary sufferers in silence that some would make them into in their imagination, but neither were they the horn-headed demons of Missouriite myth. Sidney's bellicose words, hardly unusual for the time, and probably not all that interesting on their own, were just the ticket for the bloodthirsty.

The folks down south across the river in Independence got a taste for blood, and it tasted good. The good folk of Clay and Ray Counties then got infected with it.

Boggs was a pig for seizing on it as a weapon of reelection.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...