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Writings of John D. Lee, 2nd ed. -- Samuel Nyal Henrie (paperback)

Writings of John D. Lee, 2nd ed. -- Samuel Nyal Henrie (paperback)Quantity in Basket:none


Writings of John D. Lee, 2nd ed.

Samuel Nyal Henrie (ed.)

Paperback, 6 x 9 in, 438 pages, Engravings, Bibliography
Fenestra Books, February 2002
ISBN: 1587360810 (paperback)
ISBN: 1587360829 (hardcover)


This is a major collection of historical documents by John D. Lee and his contemporaries, written in the 1870s, some published here for the first time. It includes Lee's Life (autobiography), Confession (Mountain Meadows Massacre), Arrest, Trial Excerpts and Imprisonment, Poems and Letters, Last Words to his families, Execution, and ongoing efforts toward reconciliation.

John Doyle Lee lived a life of heroic proportions. He was a leader of uncommon energy and courage in a movement that helped shape the western United States. Brigham Young is reported to have said that Lee was the most competent frontiersman and settler that he had ever known. On a human scale, Lee was considered by most of those who knew him to be an intelligent, kind and even tender-hearted man who shared his food, shelter, knowledge and respect with everyone who needed it. He was a friend and teacher to the Indian tribes. He was a polygamist who married nineteen wives and fathered sixty-five children. But Lee's life ended in tragedy, as he took the blame for one of the most infamous atrocities of frontier history, The Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857. Hounded into exile in the remote Grand Canyon and Navajo Country, he built and operated Lee's Ferry and Lee's Lonely Dell, now an historic monument. Eventually, he was arrested, imprisoned and brought to trial in federal courts twice, convicted, and executed by firing squad on the very site of the Massacre, on March 23, 1877.

A witness to both inspiring and degrading events, John D. Lee recorded irreplaceable history in his Journals and other writings throughout his life. This book contains important Lee writings that have not been published in full since 1891, as well as supporting historical documents, some of which have not been published previously.

About the editor

For the editor and compiler, Samuel Nyal Henrie, Jr., publication of this volume fulfills a lifelong ambition to see John D. Lee's own composed writings made available to all those who share an intense interest in Frontier Biography, the History of Settlement of the West, and Americana. He holds a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, and is Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Prescott College.


As a duty to myself, my family, and mankind at large, I propose to give a full and true statement of all that I know and all that I did in that unfortunate affair, which has cursed my existence, and made me a wanderer from place to place for the last nineteen years, and which is known to the world as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I have no vindictive feeling against any one; no enemies to punish by this statement; and no friends to shield by keeping back, or longer keeping secret, any of the facts connected with the Massacre..

I believe that I must tell all that I do know, and tell everything just as the same transpired. I shall tell the truth and permit the public to judge who is most to blame for the crime that I am accused of committing. I did not act alone; I had many to assist me at the Mountain Meadows. I believe that most of those who were connected with the Massacre, and took part in the lamentable transaction that has blackened the character of all who were aiders or abettors in the same, were acting under the impression that they were performing a religious duty. I know all were acting under the orders and by the command of their Church leaders; and I firmly believe that the most of those who took part in the proceedings, considered it a religious duty to unquestioningly obey the orders which they had received. That they acted from a sense of duty to the Mormon Church, never doubted. Believing that those with me acted from a sense of religious duty on that occasion, I have faithfully kept the secret of their guilt, and remained silent and true to the oath of secrecy which we took on the bloody field, for many long and bitter years. I have never betrayed those who acted with me and participated in the crime for which I am convicted, and for which I am to suffer death.

My attorneys, especially Wells Spicer and Wm. W. Bishop, have long tried, but tried in vain, to induce me to tell all I knew of the massacre and the causes which led to it. I have heretofore refused to tell the tale. Until the last few days I had intended to die, if die I must, without giving one word to the public concerning those who joined willingly, or unwillingly, in the work of destruction at Mountain Meadows.

To hesitate longer, or to die in silence, would be unjust and cowardly. I will not keep the secret any longer as my own, but will tell all I know. At the earnest request of a few remaining friends, and by the advice of Mr. Bishop, my counsel, who has defended me thus far with all his ability, notwithstanding my want of money with which to pay even his expenses while attending to my case, I have concluded to write facts as I know them to exist. I cannot go before the Judge of the quick and the dead with out first revealing all that I know, as to what was done, who ordered me to do what I did do, and the motives that led to the commission of that unnatural and bloody deed.

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