Validation of the transcript may be found by buying Gentry’s 1965 dissertation, but the introduction is quoted in his BYU Studies article. The below transcript is copied from the transcript produced by “Joseph Smith’s History Vault”.
- Scholarly transcript in Leland Gentry’s 1965 dissertation
- Gentry quotes from the first paragraph of the document in his BYU Studies article, The Danite Band of 1838
- Wikisource “Danite Manifesto” (transcription?)
- Joseph Smith’s History Vault (transcription)
FAR WEST, June, 1838.
To Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps, and Lyman E, Johnson, greeting:
Whereas the citizens of Caldwell county have borne with the abuse received from you at different times, and on different occasions, until it is no longer to be endured; neither will they endure it any longer, having exhausted all the patience they have, and conceive that to bear any longer a vice instead of a virtue. We have borne long, and suffered incredibly; but we will neither bear nor suffer any longer; and the decree has gone forth from our hearts, and shall not return to us void. Neither think, gentlemen, that, in so saying, we are trifling with either you or ourselves; for we are not. There are no threats from you – no fear of losing our lives by you, or by any thing you can say or do, will restrain us; for out of the county you shall go, and no power shall save you. And you shall have three days after you receive this communication to you, including twenty-four hours in each day, for you to depart with your families peaceably; which you may do undisturbed by any person; but in that time, if you do not depart, we will use the means in our power to cause you to depart; for go you shall. We will have no more promises to reform, as you have already done, and in every instance violated your promise, and regarded not the covenant which you made, but put both it and us at defiance. We have solemnly warned you, and that in the most determined manner, that if you do not cease that course of wanton abuse of the citizens of this county, that vengeance would overtake you sooner or later, and that when it did come it would be as furious as the mountain torrent, and as terrible as the beating tempest; but you have affected to dispise our warnings, and pass them off with a sneer, or a grin, or a threat, and pursued your former course; and vengeance sleepeth not, neither does it slumber; and unless you heed us this time, and attend to our request, it will overtake you at an hour when you do not expect, and at a day when you do not look for it; and for you there shall be no escape; for there is but one decree for you, which is depart, depart, or a more fatal calamity shall befall you.
After Oliver Cowdery had been taken by a state warrant for stealing, and the stolen property found in the house of William W. Phelps; in which nefarious transaction, John Whitmer had also participated. Oliver Cowdery stole the property, conveyed it to John Whitmer, and John Whitmer to William W. Phelps; and then the officers of law found it. While, in the hands of an officer, and under arrest for this vile transaction, and, if possible, to hide your shame from the world, like criminals (which indeed you were), you appealed to our beloved presidents, Joseph Smith, jr. and Sidney Rigdon, men whose characters you had endeavored to destroy by every artifice you could invent, not even the basest lying excepted; and did you find them revengeful? No; but notwithstanding all your scandalous attacks, still such was the nobleness of their character, that even vile enemies could not appeal to them in vain. They enlisted, as you well know, their influence, to save you from your just fate; and they, by their influence, delivered you out of the hands of the officer. While you were pleading with them, you promised reformation; you bound yourselves by the most solemn promises that you would never be employed again in abusing any of the citizens of Caldwell; and by such condescensions did you attempt to escape the work house. But now for the sequel. Did you practice the promised reformation? You know you did not; but, by secret efforts, continued to practise your iniquity, and secretly to injure their character, notwithstanding their kindness to you. Are such things to be borne? You yourselves would answer that they are insufferable, if you were to answer according to the feelings of your own hearts. As we design this paper to be published to the world, we will give an epitome of your scandalous conduct and treachery for the last two years. We wish to remind you, that Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were among the principal of those who were the means of gathering us to this place, by their testimony which they gave concerning the plates of the Book of Mormon, that they were shown to them by an angel, which testimony we believe, now, as much as before you had so scandalously disgraced it. You commenced your wickedness by heading a party to disturb the worship of the saints in the first day of the week, and made the house of the Lord, in Kirtland, to be a scene of abuse and slander, to destroy the reputation of those whom the church had appointed to be their teachers, and for no other cause only that you were not the persons.
“The saints in Kirtland, having elected Oliver Cowdery to be a justice of the peace, he used the power of that office to take their most sacred rights from them, and that contrary to law.
He supported a parcel of blacklegs, and disturbing the worship of the saints; and when the men whom the church had chosen to preside over their meetings endeavored to put the house to order, he helped (and by the authority of his justice’s office, too) these wretches to continue their confusion; and threatened the church with a prosecution for trying to put them out of the house; and issued writs against the saints for endeavoring to sustain their rights; and bound themselves under heavy bonds to appear before his honor; and required bonds which were both inhuman and unlawful; and one of these was the venerable father, who had been appointed by the church to preside – a man upwards of seventy years of age, and notorious for his peaceable habits. Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Lyman E. Johnson, united with a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs of the deepest dye, to deceive, cheat, and defraud the saints out of their property, by every art and stratagem which wickedness could invent, using the influence of the vilest persecutions to bring vexatious law suits, villainous prosecutions, and even stealing not excepted. In the midst of this career, for fear the saints would seek redress at their hands, they breathed out threatenings of mobs, and actually made attempts with their gang to bring mobs upon them. Oliver Cowdery and his gang (such of them as belonged to the church) were called to an account by the church for their iniquity. They confessed repentance, and were again restored to the church; but the very first opportunity they were again practising their former course. While this wickedness was going on in Kirtland, Cowdery and his company were writing letters to Far West, in order to destroy the character of every person that they thought was standing in their way; and John Whitmer and William W. Phelps were assisting to prepare the way to throw confusion among the saints of Far West. During the full career of Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer’s bogus money business, it got abroad into the world that they were engaged in it, and several gentlemen were preparing to commence a prosecution against Cowdery; he, finding it out, took with him Lyman E. Johnson, and fled to Far West with their families; Cowdery stealing property, and bringing it with him, which has been, within a few weeks past, obtained by the owner, by means of a search-warrant; and he was saved from the penitentiary by the influence of two influential men of the place. He also brought notes with him, upon which he had received pay, and made an attempt to sell them to Mr. Arthur, of Clay county. And Lyman E. Johnson, on his arrival, reported that he had a note of one thousand dollars, against a principal man of the church; when it was a palpable falsehood, and he had no such thing; and he did it for the purpose of injuring his character. Shortly after Cowdery and Johnson left Kirtland for FarWest, they were followed by David Whitmer; on whose arrival a general system of slander and abuse was commenced by you all, for the purpose of destroying the characters of certain individuals, whose influence and strict regard for righteousness you dreaded; and not only yourselves, but your wives and children, led by yourselves, were busily engaged in it. Neither were you content with slandering and vilifying here, but you kept up a continual correspondence with your gang of marauders in Kirtland, encouraging them to go on with their iniquity; which they did to perfection, by swearing falsely to injure the character and property of innocent men; stealing, cheating, lying; instituting vexatious lawsuits; selling bogus money, and also, stones and sand for bogus; in which nefarious business, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmar, and Lyman E. Johnson, were engaged while you were there. Since your arrival here, you have commenced a general system of that same kind of conduct in this place. You set up a nasty, dirty, pettifogger’s office, pretending to be judges of the law, when it is a notorious fact, that you are profoundly ignorant of it, and of every other thing which is calculated to do mankind good, † or if you know it, you takegood care never to practise it. And, in order to bring yourselves into notice, you began to interfere with all the business of the place, trying to destroy the character of our merchants, and bringing their creditors upon them, and break them up. In addition to this, you stirred up men of weak minds to prosecute one another, for the vile purpose of getting a fee for pettifogging from one of them. You have also been threatening continually to enter into a general system of prosecuting, determined, as you said, to pick a flaw in the titles of those who have bought city lots and built upon them – not that you can do any thing but cause vexatious lawsuits.
And, amongst the most monstrous of all your abominations, we have evidence (which, when called upon, we can produce,) that letters sent to the post office in this place have been opened, read, and destroyed, and the persons to whom they were sent never obtained them; thus ruining the business of the place. We have evidence of a very strong character, that I you are at this time engaged with a gang of counterfeiters, coiners, and blacklegs, as some of those characters have lately visited our city from Kirtland, and told what they had come for; and we know, assuredly, that if we suffer you to continue, we may expect, and that speedily, to find a general system of stealing, counterfeiting, cheating, and burning property, as in Kirtland – for so are your associates carrying on there at this time; and that, encouraged by you, by means of letters you send continually to them; and, to crown the whole, you have had the audacity to threaten us, that, if we offered to disturb you, you would get up a mob from Clay and Ray counties. For the insult, if nothing else, and your threatening to shoot us if we offered to molest you, we will put you from the county of Caldwell: so help us God.”
The above was signed by some 84 Mormons. [and authored by Sidney Rigdon]