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