Fourth of July in Far West, 1838

On the 4th of July, 1838 the Mormons, gathered in Far West, Missouri, held a celebration. The following is an excerpt from former BYU historian Stephen C. LeSueur’s book, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, pages 49-53.

“…at their Fourth of July celebration in Far West, the Mormons staged an ostentatious display of their military force and announced their intention to resist all persecution and mob violence. Several thousand people attended the festivities. [Joseph] Smith presided over the events of the day, which included a parade of the Danite militia, a review of the military band by the Danite generals, the laying of the cornerstone of the Far West temple, and an oration by Sidney Rigdon. Rigdon’s speech represented the highlight of their celebration. …

Sidney Rigdon“After seeing the Church nearly destroyed by apostates in Kirtland [Ohio], Rigdon had come to Missouri with a fierce determination to eradicate all dissent. Perhaps Mormonism’s finest orator, he could stir great excitement with his impassioned speeches. His Salt Sermon in June had spurred the Danites to expel the dissenters from Caldwell County. Now, on the Fourth of July, Sidney Rigdon prepared to announce the Mormons’ ‘declaration of independence from mobs.’

“During his speech Rigdon made the usual references to patriotism, the Founding Fathers, and liberty. He also declared his belief in the separation of church and state. Rigdon then issued a provocative warning to the enemies of the Church. After describing at length the persecution endured by the Saints over the years, he declared that they would endure it no more.

“‘We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever, for from this hour, we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity. The man or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination, for we will follow them, till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the seal of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed. –Remember it then all MEN.

“‘We will never be the aggressors, we will infringe on the rights of no people; but shall stand for our own until death. We claim our own rights, and are willing that all others shall enjoy theirs.

“‘No man shall be at liberty to come into our streets, to threaten us with mobs, for if he does, he shall atone for it before he leaves the place, neither shall he be at liberty, to vilify and slander any of us, for suffer it we will not in this place.

“‘We therefore, take all men to record this day, that we proclaim our liberty on this day, as did our fathers. And we pledge this day to one another, our fortunes, our lives, and our sacred honors, to be delivered from the persecutions which we have had to endure, for the last nine years, or nearly that. Neither will we indulge any man, or set of men, in instituting vexatious law suits against us, to cheat us out of our just rights, if they attempt it we say wo be unto them.

“‘We this day then proclaim ourselves free, with a purpose and a determination, that never can be broken, “no never! no never!! NO NEVER”!!!’

“At the conclusion the Mormon people waved their hats high above their heads and shouted, ‘Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna to God and the Lamb!’

“The Saints’ spontaneous, enthusiastic response to Rigdon’s speech pleased their leaders. Joseph Smith and his counselors had carefully prepared the speech and afterward had it published and distributed to their people. Smith recommended that all Church members buy a copy. ‘We are absolutely determined no longer to bear [persecution], come life or come death,’ the Prophet wrote in the August issue of the Elders’ Journal, ‘for to be mobbed any more without taking vengeance, we will not.’ …

“The evidence suggests, however, that the Mormon leaders’ fear of violence was exaggerated, even unfounded, at that time. The journals and reminiscences of the Saints do not mention any trouble with non-Mormons prior to the Fourth of July oration…

“Most Missourians were not aware of any unusual strain in their relations with the Mormons. Many believed that interaction between the two groups had become remarkably friendly. Rigdon’s warnings therefore surprised and alarmed Missouri settlers, who interpreted the speech as an open, defiant declaration of Mormon intentions to set themselves outside the law…

“Reports of Rigdon’s speech spread through the upper counties, increasing suspicions of and reviving old prejudices against the Saints. Mormon leaders had issued the statement as a defensive measure, prompted by their history of persecution. Although they wanted to frighten anyone who might threaten them, they did not intend to begin a conflict with their non-Mormon neighbors. The Missourians, believing the Mormons had no reason to fear persecution from them, interpreted Rigdon’s vigorous warnings as a threat against the citizens and law in northwestern Missouri.”

Real conflict between the Mormons and the Missourians began a short time later. Three months after Rigdon’s speech, at the height of the conflict now known as the Mormon War in Missouri, the governor of that state used the Mormons’ own words when, in response to an armed Mormon attack against a Missouri State Militia, Governor Boggs ordered, “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace–their outrages are beyond all description.” (LeSueur, 152)

Read Sidney Rigdon’s entire Fourth of July oration.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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24 Responses to Fourth of July in Far West, 1838

  1. Interested says:

    “The object of our religion, is to make us more intelligent, than we could be without it, not so much, to make us acquainted with what we do see, as with what we do not see. It is designed to evolve the faculties, to enlighten the understanding, and through this medium, purify the heart. …not intelligent on some subjects only, but on all subjects, on which intelligence can be obtained: and when science fails, revelation supplies its place, …associates in the eternal mansions; so that when science fails, and philosophy vanishes away, revelation, … begins where they [science and philosophy] ends, and feasts the mind with intelligence, pure and holy, from the presence of God. ”

    Reading this part of the speech gave me pause but I am not sure why. I think it bothers me that he states that the object of the religion is ” is to make us more intelligent” but in reality the church leaders do all the thinking for us (LDS).

  2. John C. says:

    “in reality the church leaders do all the thinking for us (LDS).”

    This is simply not true. Please provide proof when making blanket statements. As it is, I do all my owning thinking (such as it is)

  3. AJ says:

    John C.

    I remember vividly the General Conference a few years back when Hinckley made his now infamous comment on women and their wearing of only a single pair of earrings. My wife, who at the time had been wearing two pairs of extremely simple and subtle earrings, IMMEDIATELY removed the second pair. If that’s that having the thinking done for her, then I don’t know what is.

    I’m sure you are quite capable of doing your own thinking, as are all members of the LDS religion, but it’s dangerous to make decisions that conflict with those of the church, wouldn’t you agree? Those who dare to step outside of the prescribed lifestyle as dictated by church leaders risk disfelowshipment or excommunication. In order to be considered a member in good standing, a Latter Day Saint must fully submit to the church’s standards and conform to each and every one of their ideals.

    You should be well aware of the Temple Worthiness Interview, during which a member must answer a series of questions to prove their “worthiness” to enter the temple. It’s either conform or lie (or be honest about any failures and weaknesses and risk being barred from temple attendance).

    By all means John, please start doing your own thinking and maybe someday you’ll realize that the LDS church is keeping you in bondage. Life is too short and too precious to be a slave to a false belief system.

    Good luck in your journey.


  4. john f. says:

    Hey, John C., you’re a slave, you dumb unthinking Mormon fool. Guess that’s not offensive enough to get edited here. (By the way, how’s the Ph.D. dissertation coming?)

    This is another fascinating topic by the author of the recent Joseph Smith death post. Now, the the Missouri persecutions in which the ancestors of many Latter-day Saints were mobbed, beaten, raped, pillaged, murdered, and forced to migrate leaving everything behind is presented as the Mormons’ own fault. It is true that Mormons are and were annoying but no annoying sermon whatsoever merited such treatment.

    Incidentally, persecution of the Latter-day Saints were severe before July 4, 1838.

  5. Interested says:

    John C. My statement was based on a comment by an LDS leader. It has been discussed on this blog before.

    I found this quote at

    “Daniel Peterson brings up (as false accusations) “anti-Mormon” attacks claiming that Latter-day Saints are forbidden to think for themselves and criticizes their quoting statements made in the past to the effect that “The thinking has already been done”. Peterson then say’s “The source for the statement in question is {from} a June 1945 ward teachers message”.

    It does appear that the current trend in LDS circles is to discount the statement…”this obscure ward teaching message, apparently written by a minor church functionary and more than a half century old…”.

    Frankly I am still terribly confused..

  6. John C. says:

    I have been in temple interviews and know of temple interviews where the questions were not answered in the manner assumed correct. There is more mercy and understanding there than you seem to assume.

    Regarding the earring rule, I have heard many examples just like your wife’s. If that is her choice, fine. If she does it because she is convinced it is the right thing to do, I commend her. If she does it because she thinks it will score her a better afterlife or because all her Mormon neighbors do it, I don’t think it will help very much.

    Every religion asks its members to do things. Your pastor passes the plate asking you to donate. There are standards of behavior in Protestant churches. Please don’t point to our standards as if you don’t have the same thing amongst your own selves.

    There is no need to be confused. Whatever that message was, you don’t have to believe it. We emphatically don’t believe our leaders to be infallible.

  7. rick b says:

    I wont say that LDS do or do not think for themselves, but I will say this. On the FAIRLDS board, I saw many LDS claim they lied to enter the temple, and I have meet and had over my house hundreds on Mormon Missionarys, and no sooner do I pull out Offical LDS scripture and try and show them problems, they tell me they are NOT ALLOWED to stay and talk, they are NOT ALLOWED to read or except so called anti Mormon books, and they are not allowed to go on line to blogs or websites like this, but they can go to Pro-LDS websites. If that is not allowing others to think for you, then I dont know what is. Rick b

  8. john f. says:

    LDS missionaries are supposed to walk away from Bible bashing simply because they are taught to avoid contention in their ministry. They would rather focus time and energy on finding people who are searching for the restored Gospel than in parsing words with people who are determined to stop the restored Gospel from spreading.

    That said, there are plenty of missionaries who are willing to argue if someone tries to challenge the restored Gospel with prooftexts from the Bible. The first problem with that approach is that missionaries, as all other Latter-day Saints, fully believe in the Bible. The extra-biblical creeds, on the other hand, are not something most LDS missionaries are willing to accept.

  9. Interested says:

    The extra-biblical creeds, on the other hand, are not something most LDS missionaries are willing to accept

    What do you mean by that statement? What extra-biblical creeds have been mentioned?

  10. rick b says:

    First off, You say LDS missionaries are supposed to walk away from Bible bashing simply because they are taught to avoid contention in their ministry.

    I’m Not bashing the Bible, then I simply point out Problems I find, like One prophet saying one thing, and another says something completly different. Kinda like, Christians pass out videos, yet LDS dont watch them, or other LDS follow the Christians and remove the videos before anyone can view them.

    You might feel the videos or so called anti mormon books are bogus, but at least allow others to look into it for them selves. Or how about LDS members who write me, send me info but when I send a reply showing errors in what was sent to me, I hear back, I dont want to debate, I want to simply send you info. So the LDS person(s) only want to keep it one sided and not look into a possible answer, seems to me they refuse to think for themselves. Rick b

  11. Joe says:

    The reason missionaries walk away from discussions like these is a) it is largely a waste of time– Rarely is such a person going to be persuaded and b) most missionaries are not well versed in the scriptures and church history to counter anyone who has done a modicum of research.

    In my own experience, Mormons think more for themselves than most outsiders realize. They just know how to parrot the party line in church and so forth. When I was active, I said some rather radical things and was never punished (directly, at least. I may have not been given a calling because of my views, but that would have been a reward in my view, not punishment.) Now that I am inactive, thoroughly agnostic and believe Mormonism is mostly all nice sounding nonsense, nobody cares. (I have yet to have one of my church leaders call me to repentance, which is kind of disappointing in a way. I did have one tell me that financial problems were due to chemical imbalances in the body, but that was before I stopped going to church.)

  12. AJ says:

    John C,

    You assume too much, my friend. I speak from experience because I was born and raised in the LDS church (even went throught the temple numerous times). I am not a member of any congregation anywhere (so no, I don’t have a pastor, nor do I donate any money to a collection plate) because I am of the opinion that NOONE has a direct link to God or heaven (if such things even exist.)

    When LDS members teach their children to “follow the prophet” regardless of what he says at any given time, they are instructing them in the ways of blind obiedience. You can argue that point with me all you want, but I know because I’ve been there and I would like to think that on some level, you know it too.

    I’ve recently read a comment on another board from a TBM who said “if the prophet told me to brush my teeth with mud, I would do it.” This is not sane, rational thinking.

    All religions are dangerous. To quote Voltaire: “those who can make you believe absurditites can make you commit atrocities.” We have seen such atrocities from Christians, Muslims, and oh yes, even Mormons.

    My wife made the decision to remove her second pair of earrings, not because she gave it any thought, or rational consideration, but simply because some old guy she was told from childhood to obey, said so. She could have refused the order (and from what I understand, some LDS women have) but she would have faced opposition in the form of her family, her church leaders, and pretty much everyone else in the ward. Talk about a scandal over something so frivolous.

    If you have allowed yourself to be convinced that the glories of heaven (and when I say heaven, I mean the Celestial Kingdom as preached in Mormonism) and that only by strict obedience to a bunch of (in my opinion) silly little rules, then you are in bondage.

  13. d allison says:

    The Bible lists six identifying marks of false prophets, any one of which is sufficient for identification:
    (1) through signs and wonders they lead astray after false gods (Dt. 13:1-4); (2) their prophecies don’t come to pass (Dt. 18:20-22); (3) they contradict God’s Word (Isa. 8:20); (4) they bear bad fruit (Mt. 7:18-20); (5) men speak well of them (Lk. 6:26); and (6) they deny that Jesus, the one and only Christ, has come once and for all in the flesh (1 Jn. 4:3), thereby denying His sufficiency in all matters of life and godliness (2 Pe. 1:3). Most cults are founded upon false prophecies, which, if pointed out, offer an effective way to open blind eyes and rescue cultists. Mormonism boasts of its prophets — but they have all been false.

  14. Eric Hoffman says:

    John C. Said:
    “in reality the church leaders do all the thinking for us (LDS).”

    This is simply not true. Please provide proof when making blanket statements. As it is, I do all my owning thinking (such as it is)”

    “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan- it is God’s Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost on e his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.”

    -Ward Teachers Message, Deseret News, Church Section p. 5, May 26, 1945

    John, is that enough proof for you? I am sure if your thinking is not consistent with that of the LDS church and you voice your opinion of it, it is something not looked upon with any kind of honor.
    Secondly, the issue is not really whether you are a free thinker or not. The real issue for me is, I am shocked that an LDS leader can say such a thing and most LDS don’t think twice about it; which brings us directly back to the notion that LDS do not think for themselves.

    -Eric Hoffman

  15. chloe says:

    Hello, John C and AJ–

    I have been lurking on this very interesting site for some time, and finally have something to say! When I was in the LDS church in my teen years I had a subscription to “The New Era.” In one issue was an article from a girl’s point of view who decided to try an experiment and allow herself to question–even doubt–the LDS teachings. Her life went downhill in a hurry, until she repented and chose to “have faith” and stop questioning. The message was absolutely crystal clear, and correlated with what I had heard and seen taught–it is a sin to doubt, it is a sin to think contrary to what was taught as official church doctrine. Since I became just a plain Christian, I have loved the freedom to act like a Berean and really investigate Scripture to find out the soundness of any particular doctrine–that is not something I was at all encouraged to do as a Mormon.

  16. john f. says:

    LDS missionaries already accept everything in the Bible. The reason they are not members of some Protestant denomination or the Catholic Church is that they do not accept the extra-biblical creeds as correct descriptions of the nature of God.

  17. John C. says:

    All I can say is that this bondage feels like freedom to me. Regarding the prophets, we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. They tend to tell us to check what they say with the Spirit and, if we feel we are an exception, to work it out with God directly. If I found a commandment objectionable, I would probably keep it for a while, praying for guidance regarding it. Then I would do what I felt was best. That said, I don’t really find any of the commandments objectionable, probably because of the time spent in that room, strapped to that chair like Karl on Lost. 😉

    You haven’t shown that Joseph Smith is a false prophet. You have shown that you don’t believe that Joseph Smith conforms to a narrow set of parameters that you have established in order to prove that Joseph Smith isn’t a true prophet. Good for you! FWIW, I believe that he survives those parameters.

    The problems of using a 60 year old church memo that the vast majority of the LDS church has never heard of or openly ridicules today to show that we are trained to be mindless sheep have already been discussed on this thread. Please let it go.

    John F.,
    I object. We accept everything in the Bible, except for the confusing bits. Those we argue about online 🙂

  18. Jeff says:

    John C.

    Have you ever prayed about something that a prophet has said and received confirmation to do something different?

    The reason I ask is because if you have, then your prophet could be deemed false. Why?

    President Benson Taught –

    In Declaration #1, in the Doctrine and Covenants:

    “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray…

    I would believe that God wouldn’t allow his chosen seer/revelator to lie to his true church.

    Of course people have their own opinions on things, but I have never once heard in my 3 years of being a quasi-member of the LDS church a prophet stating “It is my own personal opinion that so and so”.. Why would it be important for them to say that? Because how else would we know if he’s talking directly from God or just speaking his own mind. That could create some rather serious doctrine that was just made up through personal opinion.

    Now, if everything you prayed about has fallen in line with the Prophet, this could be viewed two different ways. One is the way you probably view it “It’s because he has spoken truth and God confirmed it for me.” On the other hand, it can be viewed as “I’ve been told continually through church, sunday school, hymns, conferences, magazines, articles, from even the prophets own mouth, that I can never be led astray by the Prophet.” While on the back-end, your mind is being pumped full of visions of the paradise/reward that awaits you. And when you pray about it, the mind (being powerful) manifests that burning bosom inside of you… It seems that we as humans naturally enjoy visions of pleasantry, and the brain does its best to bring that into reality for us… If we don’t follow the prophet, we will never receive that reward..

  19. John C. says:

    And this is the reason why I never read “the New Era” growing up 🙂 More seriously, we do believe that generally speaking it is a good idea to follow the prophet’s counsel/advice/commands. Do with that what you will.

    “Have you ever prayed about something that a prophet has said and received confirmation to do something different?”
    Yes. Beyond that I will not comment, except to say that I was convinced that God is active in my life and that the LDS church remains true.

    “President Benson Taught”
    Technically, you are thinking of President Woodruff.

    “I have never once heard in my 3 years of being a quasi-member of the LDS church a prophet stating “It is my own personal opinion that so and so””
    Well, the infamous comments by President Hinckley on Larry King would seem to be an example of this. Perhaps you have heard of them?

    Please stop telling me I am in bondage, at least until you can demonstrate that the moral strictures of the LDS church are significantly more burdensome/less enlightened than the moral strictures associated with attending a typical non-LDS conservative Christian denomination.

    Okay folks, I’ve used up my comments for today. More tomorrow, I am sure.

  20. Jeff says:


    “Yes. Beyond that I will not comment, except to say that I was convinced that God is active in my life and that the LDS church remains true.”
    – If you can explain what you mean by that I would appreciate it. I’m rather confused. And may I ask why you will not let me know what topic/instruction it was in regards to? Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds like the Prophet said something that wasn’t true and you confirmed it by asking God IF it was true or not, and he confirmed “no.”.. I’m sure you know what that would imply.

    Thanks for the correction. I googled “The prophet will never lead you astray” and thats what it came up with. Regardless, thats a statement you believe in, right? No matter what, the prophet will NEVER lead you astray?

    I have never seen or read the transcripts from the Larry King / Hinckley segment, so I consider myself unqualified to reference those until I do such study. On the other hand, there is controversy over the Adam/God doctrine presented by Brigham Young which is a teaching that, to my knowledge, isn’t accepted as doctrine, and publicly shunned upon by President Kimball stating it as a false doctrine… There are numerous references from Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses I wont get into, but I don’t see any “It is my personal opinion that Adam is God the father”.. It quite clearly just states that Adam IS God the Father..

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  21. d allison says:

    We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever, for from this hour, we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity. The man or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives

    I thought I would try to make a commit on this subject as part of what could in this day be seen as hate speech. Know one has a right to deprive someone in believing and worshiping in the way they see fit. This said “a religious leader should not bring more hatred to his group by adding fuel to the fire”. They should teach as Gods word teaches.

    Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD. Lev 19:18
    Mat 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
    Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    Mat 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
    Mat 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
    Mat 5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so?
    Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    It sad that people died, have done and have been told to do things they should not do in the name of Religion.

  22. John C. says:

    As I stated, it is a very personal matter and I left it with more faith in priesthood leadership than I had going in. Believe what you will.

    Also, I was unaware that President Kimball spoke out against the Adam-God Theory. Please provide a reference. I do know that Elder McConkie stated that he thought President Young was wrong in a private letter that has since become public. Of course, Elder McConkie also repudiated some of his own teachings.

    Regarding you assumptions about how prophets should behave, go and read everything that Ezekiel tells Nebuchadnezzar and get back to us.

    Hear, Hear! It was a low point in a violent time.

  23. Jeff says:

    Spencer W. Kimball — Heading: Teaching the truth “We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.” Conference Report, p. 115 (October 1-3, 1976)

    John, you didn’t tell me that it was a personal matter, you said that you have received confirmation to do/believe something different than that which a prophet taught, but beyond that you wouldnt comment. I wasn’t trying to pry into personal reasons.

    It seems that, for you, hearing a prophet (who is the mouthpiece of God, who will NEVER lead the LDS astray) teach a doctrine, and then have another future president claim it as false doctrine, is no issue at all with you. Which is fine because you are entitled to have your own opinion.. But to the outside world, it is rather acceptable to question the “divine” words of the Prophet.

    Obviously this probably would never happen. But what if Hinckley told everyone in the church to do something heinous, and of course, the people that believe the prophet when he says “The prophet will never lead you astray, he speaks for God”, would follow his instruction. But then five years down the road when many people are severely hurt emotionally or physically dead because of his instruction, then a new prophet comes along and says that the old prophet was wrong.. Doesn’t that strike you as an issue? Even if it isn’t “heinous”. Would you be happy that you were taught a doctrine that wasn’t from God’s wisdom?

  24. John C. says:

    I’ve answered that question five ways from Tuesday. Methinks that you just don’t like how I answer. Thank you for the reference, btw. It is a cool one.

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