The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt – Revised and Enhanced Edition
Edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor
Speech of Major-General Clark, delivered at Far West while its citizens were held as prisoners, November, 1838.
November 6, 1838
“Gentlemen: You, whose names are not on this list, will now have the privilege of going to your fields to obtain grain for your families – wood, etc. Those that compose the list will go from thence to prison, to be tried, and receive the due demerits of their crimes. But you are now at liberty, all but such as charges may hereafter be preferred against. It now devolves upon you to fulfil the treaty that you have entered into – the leading items of which I now lay before you.
“The first of these items you have already complied with – which is, that you deliver up your leading men to be tried according to law. Second, that you deliver up your arms – this has been attended to. The third is, that you sign over your property to defray the expenses of the war; this you have also done. Another thing yet remains for you to comply with; that is: that you leave the State forthwith; and, whatever your feelings concerning this affair, whatever your innocence, it is nothing to me. General Lucas, who is equal in authority with me, has made this treaty with you. I am determined to see it executed.
“The orders of the Governor to me, were, that you should be exterminated, and not allowed to remain in the State.1 And had your leaders not been given up, and the treaty complied with before this, you and your families would have been destroyed and your houses in ashes.
“There is a discretionary power resting in my hands, which I shall try to exercise for a season. I did not say that you must go now, but you must not think of stopping here another season, or of putting in crops; for the moment you do the citizens will be upon you. I am determined to see the Governor’s orders fulfilled, but shall not come upon you immediately. Do not think that I shall act as I have done any more; but if I have to come again because the treaty which you have made is not complied with, you need not expect any mercy, but extermination; for I am determined that the Governor’s order shall be executed.
“As for your leaders, do not think, do not imagine for a moment, do not let it enter your mind that they will be delivered, or that you will see their faces again, for their fate is fixed, their die is cast, their doom is sealed.2
“I am sorry, gentlemen, to see so great a number of apparently intelligent men found in the situation that you are. And, oh! that I could invoke the Spirit of the unknown God to rest upon you, and deliver you from that awful chain of superstition, and liberate you from those fetters of fanaticism with which you are bound. I would advise you to scatter abroad and never again organize with bishops, presidents, etc., lest you excite the jealousies of the people, and subject yourselves to the same calamities that have now come upon you.
“You have always been the aggressors; you have brought upon yourselves these difficulties by being disaffected, and not being subject to rule; and my advice is, that you become as other citizens, lest by a recurrence of these events you bring upon yourselves inevitable ruin.”3
1 The infamous “extermination order” remained on the books in Missouri until July 1976, when, in an act of good will and official apology, the illegal order was rescinded by Missouri Governor Christopher “Kit” Bond.
2 Contrast this with what the Prophet had told the brethren three days earlier: “Be of good cheer, brethren; the word of the Lord came to me last night that our lives should be given us, and that whatever we may suffer during this captivity, not one of our lives should be taken” (see chapter 22). This prophecy was fulfilled.
3 See Smith, History of the Church , 3:202-4.