The Last Words of John D. Lee
Spoken at his execution for the Mountain Meadows Massacre
March 23, 1877
I have but little to say this morning. Of course I feel that I am
upon the brink of eternity; and the solemnities of eternity should
rest upon my mind at the present. I have made out -- or have
endeavored to do so -- a manuscript, abridging the history of my
life. This is to be published. In it I have given my views and
feelings with regard to these things.
I feel resigned to my fate. I feel as calm as a summer morn, and I
have done nothing intentionally wrong. My conscience is clear before
God and man. I am ready to meet my Redeemer and those that have gove
before me, behind the veil.
I am not an infidel. I have not denied God and his mercies.
I am a strong believer in these things. Most I regret parting with
my family; many of them are unprotected and will be left fatherless.
When I speak of these things they touch a tender chord within me. I
declare my innocence of ever doing anything designedly wrong in all
this affair. I used my utmost endeavors to save those people.
I would have given worlds, were they at my command, if I could
have averted that calamity, but I could not do it. It went on.
It seems I have to be made a victim -- a victim must be had, and I
am the victim. I am sacrificed to satisfy the feelings -- the
vindictive feelings, or in other words, am used to gratify parties.
I am ready to die. I trust in God. I have no fear. Death has no
Not a particle of mercy have I asked of the court, the world, or
officials to spare my life.
I do not fear death, I shall never go to a worse place than I am
I have said it to my family, and I will say it today, that the
Government of the United States sacrifices their best friend. That is
saying a great deal, but it is true -- it is so.
I am a true believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not
believe everything that is now being taught and practiced by Brigham
Young. I do not care who hears it. It is my last word -- it is so. I
believe he is leading the people astray, downward to destruction. But
I believe in the gospel that was taught in its purity by Joseph
Smith, in former days. I have my reasons for it.
I studied to make this man's will my pleasure for thirty years.
See, now, what I have come to this day!
I have been sacrificed in a cowardly, dastardly manner. I cannot
help it. It is my last word -- it is so.
Evidence has been brought against me which is as false as the
hinges of hell, and this evidence was wanted to sacrifice me.
Sacrifice a man that has waited upon them, that has wandered and
endured with them in the days of adversity, true from the beginnings
of the Church! And I am now singled out and am sacrificed in this
manner! What confidence can I have in such a man! I have none, and I
don't think my Father in heaven has any.
Still, there are thousands of people in this Church that are
honorable and good-hearted friends, and some of whom are near to my
heart. There is a kind of living, magnetic influence which has come
over the people, and I cannot compare it to anything else than the
reptile that enamors its prey, till it captivates it, paralyzes it,
and rushes it into the jaws of death. I cannot compare it to anything
else. It is so, I know it, I am satisfied of it.
I regret leaving my family; they are near and dear to me. These
are things which touch my sympathy, even when I think of those poor
I declare I did nothing designedly wrong in this unfortunate
affair. I did everything in my power to save that people, but I am
the one that must suffer.
Having said this, I feel resigned. I ask the Lord, my God, if my
labors are done, to receive my spirit.
[TEXT: Juanita Brooks, The Mountain
Meadows Massacre (Stanford University Press, 1950), pp.