Response to 'Remember earlier 9-11'

Dear Editor,

I was surprised at how Mr. Thomason dragged Brigham Young, former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed Mormons), into a 150-some-year-old controversy about a horrible incident that occurred in our American History.

When one studies American history it is easy to find many examples of injustice and prejudice that could be classified as an earlier 9-11. Some that come to mind are the injustices committed against the Chinese when they were helping build the railroad, or the Irish, Italians, Polish, or Germans. We mustn’t forget the Native Americans and the slaves. There isn’t enough room to describe all the injustices that have been committed in our country as it grew, but for this letter I will briefly describe why I believe Mr. Thomason is wrong in his assertion that Brigham Young had any involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

First, there is the problem of communication. There were no phones in Cedar City where the leaders lived. In order to communicate with Brigham Young they had to send messages by horseback, 300 miles away. At the time, Brigham Young was not only President of the Church but also Governor of Utah Territory. He and his people were preparing for an invasion by the United States Army. President Buchanan had heard lies and inflammatory accusations about Brigham Young and the Mormons and sent the army to squash the Mormon rebellion. President Buchanan didn’t bother to learn whether or not the accusations were true. The whole territory was in a state of alert for war and unwilling to share or sell their supplies – after all, the Mormons knew what it was to be attacked and driven out of their homes.

For example, in Missouri, the Governor Lilburn Boggs. had issued an extermination order for all Mormons. They lost their homes, livestock, food, and in many cases their lives. Then, again in Illinois, they were attacked by mobbers and driven out, without any redress from the government. Yet while out on the plains moving to a safe haven in order to live their religion free from persecution, the U.S. Army approached them and asked for 500 volunteers to help fight in the Mexican war, and Brigham Young encouraged the men to sign up, which they did.

Back to the Mountain Meadows Massacre… Stake President Haight sent an express rider to seek counsel about what to do about the tension with the Arkansas Wagon Train. Brigham Young counseled and I quote, “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. While we should be on the alert, on hand and always ready, we should also possess ourselves in patience, preserving ourselves and property ever remembering that God rules.”

There was/is no reason for Brigham Young or any other Church leader to apologize for what happened at Mountain Meadows, since they didn’t order it, didn’t condone it, and were appalled by it, but they have tried to bring peace to those who had hard feelings because it happened. The internet is full of anti-Mormon literature. Anti-Mormon web sites aren’t interested in truth, unless it can be used for their purpose, which is to tear down and discredit the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Mike O’Leary