RETRIBUTION IN UTAH.
EXECUTION OF JOHN D. LEE TO-DAY.
THE MOUNTAIN MEADOW MASSACRE OF 1857—DETAILS OF THE GREAT CRIME.
John D. Lee is sentenced to be shot to-day at Beaver City, in the Territory of Utah. He was the leader in the Mountain Meadow massacre of Sept. 15, 1857, and, after a long period of mystery as to the origin of the crime, he was arrested and first tried in July, 1875. The jury disagreed, and in Septem-ber of the same year another jury found him guilty. He was sentenced to be hanged in January last, but the execution was afterward delayed until to-day.
THE MURDERER TAKEN TO EXECUTION.
DEPARTURE OF LEE WITH THE MARSHAL FROM BEAVER—BELIEF THAT HE WILL BE SHOT ON THE SCENE OF THE MASSACRE.
SALT LAKE CITY, March 22.—The United States Marshal left Beaver, Utah, last evening with John D. Lee. It is supposed that the execution will take place at the Mountain Meadows, the scene of the massacre. These movements are kept as quiet as possible, as it is feared an attempt at rescue will be made. A company of soldiers attended the party. The Mountain Meadows are about 90 miles from Beaver, 45 from Cedar City, and about 12 from Pine Valley, the nearest telegraph station. The party passed Cedar City at 1 o'clock this morning.
THE MASSACRE AND TRIAL.
HISTORY OF THE DEED AS NOW GENERALLY AC-CEPTED IN THE WEST—SCENES ON THE GROUND A FEW MONTHS AFTER THE MASSACRE—EFFORTS TO CONCEAL IT FROM THE WORLD.
Mormonism in the West, like the religion of that other Prophet in the Orient, has sought to propagate itself by force. It was in 1843-44 that Joseph Smith outraged the moral sense of the inhabitants of the little town of Nauvoo in Illinois by attempting to put in prac-tice his polygamous principles. When denounced and opposed for it he sought by violence to destroy his ene-mies, and was shot dead as he leaped from a window to escape the fury of a mob which had become mad with ven-geance. Brigham Young was chosen to succeed him; Illi-nois revoked the Mormon charter; the saints departed for the West; some remained, but were expelled at the point of the bayonet; all reassembled again at Council Bluffs, and thence proceeded to the Salt Lake valley, where they arrived in the Autumn of 1848. Salt Lake City was founded; emigrants came from the Old World; President Fillmore made Young the Governor of Utah; in the following year with threats of violence he forced Federal judges to leave the Territory; he was then removed, and Col. Steptoe of the United States army appointed in his place. With a battalion of soldiers Col. Step-toe reached Utah in 1854, but could not maintain himself and resigned. Other officers, commis-sioned by the Government, went to Utah; they too were harassed and terrified until in February, 1856, an armed mob of Mormons, instigated by sermons from Brigham Young, broke into the United States District Court room and at the point of the bowie-knife compelled Judge Drummond to adjourn his court without day; all the other Government officers, with one exception, were forced to take flight. In the following year a new Gov-ernor was appointed, and 2,500 men sent to protect him. Young, still claiming to be Governor, denounced the army as a mob, and called upon his people to resist its advance. Several supply trains were cut off by mounted Mormons, and 800 oxen seized and driven to Salt Lake City. Overtaken by snow-storms the army went into Winter quarters, and the newly commissioned Governor declared the Territory to be in a state of rebellion.
John D. Lee was an elder in the Mormon Church at that time, and one of its most devoted and fanatic mem-bers. A ceremony in the church permits a man to choose his father. Lee, many years before he crossed the Missouri River, had chosen Brigham Young; and, when he lived in Nauvoo, was accounted a most dutiful son. While these disorders were prevailing in Utah he was a faithful supporter of the Mormon cause, and in Sep-tember, 1857, when the United States soldiers were on their way to Salt Lake City, he led the bloody work at Mountain Meadow. The story of that day—one of the darkest in the history of American border civilization—as very recently related by a resident of Salt Lake City, is as follows: In the Summer of 1857 a large train of emigrants from Arkansas were on their way to Califor-nia; they numbered 140 souls, including men, women, and children. An officer of the United States Army who saw them at O'Fallon's Bluffs on the Platte River in the month of July said it was the finest train that had ever crossed the plains. It was owned by wealthy men and had a fine stock, richly ornamented carriages for the women and children, and a considerable sum of money was in its possession. It reached Salt Lake City in safety, and the members were advised to take what was known as the Southern route, as the old trail was liable to be obstructed by snow at the time they would reach the Sierra Nevada. When 200 miles south of Salt Lake they inquired of prominent Mormons where they could find good range on which to recruit their stock, and were directed to Mountain Meadow, a beautiful upland track five miles long by one in width, and lying between the Great Basin and the Colorado River.
The day after they left Cedar City a council of Mor-mon leaders was held, and it is now believed that the massacre was then and there determined upon. The real nature of that council will probably never be known. On the some night a party of about sixty white men, in Indian disguise, besides a larger number of real savages, followed the emigrant train. They were reached in the morning while eating breakfast in the meadow. Without note of warning a volley was discharged in their midst and 10 or 12 persons killed outright. The astonished emigrants hastily recovered their surprise, and arranged their wagons and threw up breastworks for defense. For five days and nights they withstood the attacks. At in-tervals the Mormons amused themselves at pitching quoits and other pastimes, until finally, unable to over-come the emigrants, they resolved upon a work of strat-egy. The fixing was suspended, and the Indians apparently disappeared. On the morning of the sixth day the little party saw a wagon-load of men coming into the valley; all were white men, who had unfurled the United States flag. They were received by the emigrants with great cordiality as their defenders; a young girl in gay attire was sent out to meet them. Among the men in the wagon were John D. Lee and Isaac C. Haight. They at once charged the emigrants with having poisoned a certain spring from which Indians had drank and died—a spring which is so large and rapid that one who has seen it says a bar-rel of arsenic could not have poisoned it. Lee and Haight said this was the cause of the attack from the Indians; that they were on friendly terms with the sav-ages, and would conduct a treaty. They retired, and in a few hours returned, saying the Indians were greatly enraged; that their only terms were a surrender by the emigrants of all their property, especially their arms, and a return to the East by the route they had taken in coming. Lee, with other Mormons in the party, offered to make the delivery and conduct the emigrants back. This proposal was accepted, and the arms were given up; with the Latter Day Saints as a guide they proceeded to the north on foot. After walking about a mile the com-pany entered a thicket of scrub oaks near a large pile of rocks. In this thicket the Indians and disguised white men were concealed. John D. Lee gave the signal, "Halt," and the bloody work began.
This terrible scene has been well described by a graphic writer in The Sacramento Record-Union, who has courte-ously placed at the disposal of THE TRIBUNE proof-sheets of his account.
He says: "Suddenly Lee brought his gun to his shoulder and fired at a woman in the forward wagon, killing her instantly. It was the signal for the massacre. Indians rose from behind bushes, painted Mormons stepped from behind concealments, and all along the line the men and women were shot down like cattle in the shambles, while Lee and his aids dragged women and youths from the wagons and cut their throats from ear to ear. It is the most heartless, cold-blooded deed that ever disgraced the pages of history. The cowardly as-sassins could not have performed one single act that would have added to the blackness of their perfidy. They feigned friendship and sympathy, they induced these brave men to lay aside every weapon, and then shot them down like dogs. The venerable gray-headed clergymen, the sturdy farmers, the stalwart young men, and the beardless youths—all were cut down one by one, and above their dead bodies waved the Stars and Stripes.
"Sick women too ill to leave the corral were driven up to the scene of slaughter, butchered, and stripped. Some of the younger men refused to join in the dreadful work. Jim Pearce was shot by his own father for pro-tecting a girl that was crouched at his feet! The bullet cut a deep gash in his face, and the furrowed scar is there to-day. Lee is said to have shot a girl who was clinging to his son. A score of heartrending rumors are afloat about the deeds of that hour. One rumor comes from a girl who lived in Lee's own family for years. She told Mr. Beadle, the author of several works, that one young woman drew a dagger to defend herself against John D. Lee, and he killed her on the spot. A young mother saw her husband fall dead. He lay with his face upward, and the purple life-blood crimsoned his pallid cheeks. She sprang to his side just as a great, brutal ruffian attempted to seize her. Laying her tiny babe on her husband's breast, she drew a small dirk knife, and, like a tigress at bay, confronted the vile wretch. He re-coiled in terror, but the next instant a man stepped up behind the brave woman and drove a knife through her body. Without a struggle she fell dead across her hus-band's feet. Picking up the dirk she had dropped, the fiend deliberately pinned the little babe's body to its father's, and laughed to see its convulsive death-struggles."
The property of these murdered people was quietly divided among the Mormons; not until a year afterward was it known that white men had anything to do with the deed. Eight days after the massacre a man visited the scene, and said at the trial of Lee that he saw the bodies of men, women, and children strewn upon the ground and heaped in plies. Some were stabbed, others shot, and still others had their throats cut. There was no clothing left on man, woman, or child, except that a torn stocking leg clung to the ankle of one. The wolves and ravens had lacerated every one of the corpses except one. There were 127 in all, and each bore the marks of wolves' teeth, except just one. It was the body of a handsome, well formed lady, with a beautiful face and long flowing hair. A single bullet had pierced her side. Most of the bodies had been thrown into three piles, distant from each other about 2½ rods. Another man who was there said he saw in December—three months after the massacre—a quantity of human bones; saw skulls of women and children, the former with long tresses of beautiful hair attached, discolored with blood and dried up; remarked the skeleton of a child, apparently 10 to 12 years old; also saw the skeletons of women; the bones had been buried—covered up with earth in holes and gullies; the wolves had dragged them out; the bones were scattered around over the field.
All possible efforts were made to preclude the chance that any knowledge of this monstrous wickedness should ever come forth to the world. No survivor was left to tell the tale; every man was pledged to secrecy; Brig-ham Young laid upon his leaders the command that the massacre be kept a profound secret—that they should not talk of it even among themselves. Reports of the massacre were made by Brigham Young and John D. Lee, both of whom always attributed it to the Indians, and told the story of the poisoned spring. But such a crime could not be forever hidden. Fact after fact came out in the course of years, and John D. Lee was at last gen-erally believed to be one of the guilty men. But there were no courts in Utah with competent jurisdiction until the passage of the Poland bill a few years ago. Indict-ments were then found against the leaders and Lee was arrested. In July, 1875, he was tried and the jury disagreed. One Philip Klingensmith, who took part in the massacre, turned State's evidence. He told much the same story as is given here. In September, 1876, Lee was again tried, found guilty, and sentenced to be executed on January 26, 1877. The law of Utah gave him the choice of being beheaded, hanged, or shot: he chose the latter. A stay of proceedings, pending an appeal, was granted, and on Feb. 11 last the verdict of guilty was approved and Lee remanded to the court be-low, which was ordered to fix the day of his sentence. Further dilatory proceedings were attempted, and a few days' delay secured, until at last all efforts were exhausted, and the man will to-day meet his punish-ment. This great wickedness was committed on Sept. 15,1857—nearly 20 years ago. Justice has been slow but not less certain in its work.
The exact motive which led to the massacre will prob-ably never be known. The most scrupulous care has sought to conceal every trace that could explain it, and much of the information that has been obtained is con-tradictory. The emigrants have been represented as pos-sessed of very great wealth; and, as the Mormons at that time were poor, a motive of plunder has been attributed to them. The story goes that after the mas-sacre they suddenly appeared more prosperous, built new houses and dressed in finer clothes. Several wit-nesses have testified that the emigrants were a quiet, in-dustrious, and peaceable people, that they were Sabbath-loving Christians, and held religious services frequently. On the other hand they have been represented as very arrogant in manners, and it is said they did much to en-rage the Mormons. They named a favorite stag "Brig;" one of them swung a pistol over his head in a street in Salt Lake City and declared that he helped to kill "Joe Smith" and was "loaded for old Brigham." These cir-cumstances have been connected with the Mor-mon idea of blood atonement which was often discussed when the subject enlisted its first general interest. There is one good instance. The monument over the remains of the victims was erected by United States soldiers in 1858, and bore the inscription: "Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord." It did not stand long; Mormon fanatics tore it down. The Church was ordered to restore it, which they did, but changed the inscription to: "Vengeance, is mine: I have repaid, saith the Lord." This inscription, how-ever, was not allowed to remain long. A company of soldiers took it down and restored the original text. The spot now bears no cross, but is marked by a heap of stones gathered from the hills about the meadow. It is an irregular pile, 20 feet long and 7 feet wide. The highest point is in the center, and the top slopes toward the sides, like the roof of some houses. It is only three or four feet high, and has no inscription or other mark to denote its significance.
The Herald printed yesterday what purported to be the confession of Lee. He says that those with him at the massacre were acting under orders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The deed was done as a duty which they believed they owed to God and the church. They were all sworn to secrecy, and the penalty for giving information about it was death. It was the result of the direct teachings of Brigham Young, and it was done by orders from those high in authority in the Mormon community. Leo reported the massacre to Brigham Young, and he said to him: "Brother Lee, not a drop of innocent blood has been shed. I have direct evidence from God that the act was a just one, that it was in accord with God's will." Lee says Young was then and for many years after fully satisfied with him and his act, giving him three wives, and appointing him Probate Judge of Washington County. This version of the confession is obviously an outline obtained from William W. Bishop, the prisoner's counsel, and can scarcely be regarded as accurate in all respects. The full text of the confession is to be withheld from publi-cation until John D. Lee is out of the world.
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