Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
New Perspectives on THE WEST
The Program People Places Events Resources Lesson Plans Quiz
RESOURCES
Archives of THE WEST
Episode One
(to 1806)
Episode Two
(1806 to 1848)
Episode Three
(1848 to 1856)
Episode Four
(1856 to 1868)
Episode Five
(1868 to 1874)
Episode Six
(1874 to 1877)
Episode Seven
(1877 to 1887)
Episode Eight
(1887 to 1914)
FAQ
Links
ARCHIVES (1874 - 1877)

Deposition of Brigham Young
Regarding the Mountain Meadows Massacre

July 30, 1875

[Brigham Young declined to be deposed for John D. Lee's first trial, but he agreed to the following deposition for Lee's second trial, in which Lee was found guilty of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.]

 

Questions to be propounded to Brigham Young on his examination as a witness in the case of John D. Lee and others, on trial at Beaver City, this 30th day of July, 1875, and the answers of Brigham Young to the interrogatives here to appended, were reduced to writing, and were given after the said Brigham Young had been duly sworn to testify the truth in the above entitled cause, and are as follows:

First -- State your age, and the present condition of your health, and whether in its condition you could travel to attend in person, at Beaver, the court now sitting there?

Answer -- To the first interrogatory, he saith:

I am in my seventy-fifth year. It would be a great risk, both to my health and life, for me to travel to Beaver at this present time. I am, and have been for some time, an invalid.

Second -- What office, either ecclesiastical, civil, or military, did you hold in the year 1857?

Answer -- I was Governor of the Territory, and ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, during the year 1857.

Third -- State the condition of affairs between the Territory of Utah and the Federal Government, in the Summer and Fall of 1857.

Answer -- In May or June, 1857, the United States mails for Utah were stopped by the Government, and all communication by mail was cut off, an army of the United States was enroute for Utah, with the ostensible design of destroying the Latter-day Saints, according to the reports that reached us from the East.

Fourth -- Were there any United States Judges here during the Summer and Fall of 1857?

Answer -- To the best of my recollection there was no United States Judge here in the latter part of 1857.

Fifth -- State what you know about trains of emigrants passing through the Territory to the West, and particularly about a company from Arkansas, en route for California, passing through this city in the Summer or Fall of 1857?

Answer-- As usual, emigrants' trains were passing through our Territory for the west. I heard it rumored that a company from Arkansas, en route to California, had passed through the city.

Sixth -- Was this Arkansas company of emigrants ordered away from Salt Lake City by yourself or any one in authority under you?

Answer -- No, not that I know of. I never heard of any such thing, and certainly no such order was given by the acting Governor.

Seventh -- Was any counsel or instructions given by any person to the citizens of Utah not to sell grain or trade with the emigrant trains passing through Utah at that time? If so, what were those instructions and counsel?

Answer -- Yes, counsel and advice were given to the citizens not to sell grain to the emigrants to feed their stock, but to let them have sufficient for themselves if they were out. The simple reason for this was that for several years our crops had been short, and the prospect was at that time that we might have trouble with the United States army, then enroute for this place, and we wanted to preserve the grain for food. The citizens of the Territory were counseled not to feed grain to their own stock. No person was ever punished or called in question for furnishing supplies to the emigrants, within my knowledge.

Eighth -- When did you first hear of the attack and destruction of this Arkansas company at Mountain Meadows, in September 1857?

Answer -- I did not learn anything of the attack or destruction of the Arkansas company until some time after it occurred -- then only by floating rumor.

Ninth -- Did John D. Lee report to you at any time after this massacre what had been done at that massacre, and if so, what did you reply to him in reference thereto?

Answer -- Within some two or three months after the massacre he called at my office and had much to say with regard to the Indians, their being stirred up to anger and threatening the settlements of the whites, and then commenced giving an account of the massacre. I told him to stop, as from what I had already heard by rumor, I did not wish my feelings harrowed up with a recital of details.

Tenth -- Did Philip Klingensmith call at your office with John D. Lee at the time Lee made his report, and did you at that time order Smith to turn over the stock to Lee, and then order them not to talk about the massacre?

Answer -- No. He did not call with John D. Lee, and I have no recollection of his ever speaking to me nor I to him concerning the massacre or anything pertaining to the property.

Eleventh -- Did you ever give any directions concerning the property taken from the emigrants at the Mountain Meadows Massacre, or know anything of its disposition?

Answer -- No, I never gave any directions concerning the property taken from the emigrants at the Mountain Meadows Massacre, nor did I know anything of that property, or its disposal, and I do not to this day, except from public rumor.

Twelfth -- Why did you not, as Governor, institute proceedings forthwith to investigate that massacre, and bring the guilty authors thereof to justice?

Answer -- Because another Governor had been appointed by the President of the United States, and was then on the way to take my place, and I did not know how soon he might arrive, and because the United States Judges were not in the Territory. Soon after Governor Cummings arrived, I asked him to take Judge Cradlebaugh, who belonged to the Southern District, with him, and I would accompany them with sufficient aid to investigate the matter and bring the offenders to justice.

Thirteenth -- Did you, about the 10th of September, 1857, receive a communication from Isaac C. Haight, or any other person of Cedar City, concerning a company of emigrants called the Arkansas company?

Answer -- I did receive a communication from Isaac C. Haight or John D. Lee, who was a farmer for the Indians.

Fourteenth -- Have you that communication?

Answer -- I have not. I have made diligent search for it, but cannot find it.

Fifteenth -- Did you answer that communication?

Answer -- I did, to Isaac C. Haight, who was then acting President at Cedar City.

Sixteenth -- Will you state the substance of your letter to him?

Answer -- Yes. It was to let this company of emigrants, and all companies of emigrants, pass through the country unmolested, and to allay the angry feelings of the Indians as much as possible.

(Signed)
Brigham Young

 

[TEXT: "Appendix XII" in Juanita Brooks, The Mountain Meadows Massacre, Stanford University Press, 1950.]


The Program | People | Places | Events | Resources | Lesson Plans | Quiz
© 2001 THE WEST FILM PROJECT and WETA
Credits