Mormon History

Puppet Governor's Lack of Concern - 1844

Warsaw Message February 14, 1844

[Governor Ford's address to]
the Citizens of Hancock country, Mormons and all.

                  SPRINGFIELD, January 29, 1844.

DEAR SIR: -- I have received the copy of the proceeding and resolutions of a meeting of the citizens of Hancock County, which you did me the honor to send me.

I have observed with regret that occasions have been presented for disturbing the peace of your county; and if I knew what I could legally do to apply a corrective, I would be very ready to do it. But if you are a lawyer, or at all conversant with the law, you will know that I, as a Governor, have no right to interfere in your difficulties.

As yet, I believe that there has been nothing like war among you: and I hope that all of you will have the good sense to see the necessity of preserving peace. If there is anything wrong in the Nauvoo charters, or in the mode of administering them, you will see that nothing short of legislative or judicial power is capable of enforcing a remedy.

I myself had the honor of calling the attention of the Legislature to this subject at the last session; but a large majority of both political parties in that body either did not see the evil which you complain of, or, if they did, they repeatedly refused to correct it. And yet a call is made upon me to do that which all parties refused to do at the last session.

I have also been called upon to take away the arms from the Mormons, to raise the militia to arrest a supposed fugitive, and in fact to repeal some of the ordinances of the City of Nauvoo.

Hancock County is justly famed for its intelligence; and I cannot believe that any of its citizens are so ignorant as not to know that I have no power to do these things.

The absurd and preposterous nature of these requests give some color to the charge that they are made for political effect only. I hope that this charge is untrue; for, in all candor, it would be more creditable to those concerned to have their errors attributed to ignorance than to a disposition to embroil the country in the horrors of war for the advancement of party ends.

But if there should be any truth in the charge, (which God forbid.) I affectionately entreat all the good citizens engaged in it to lay aside their designs and yield up their ears to the voice of justice, reason, and humanity. All that I can do at present is to admonish both parties to beware of carrying matters to extremity.

Let it come to this -- let a state of war ensue, and I will be compelled to interfere with executive power. In that case also, I wish, in a friendly, affectionate, and candid manner, to tell the citizens of Hancock County, Mormons and all, that my interference will be against those who shall be the first transgressors.

I am bound by the laws and Constitution to regard you all as citizens of the State, possessed of equal rights and privileges, and to cherish the rights of one as dearly as the rights of another. I can know no distinction among you except that of assailant and assailed.

I hope, dear sir, you will do me the favor to publish this letter in the papers of your county, for the satisfaction of all persons concerned.

I am, with the highest respect,

         Your obedient servant,
         THOMAS FORD.

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