Mormon History

Mark Twain on the Massacre - 1861

"I am not given to exaggeration, and when I say a thing I mean it." Page 85

Roughing It Chapter 17, pages 116-117


At the end of our two days' sojourn, we left Great Salt Lake City hearty and well fed and happy--physically superb but not so very much wiser, as regards the "Mormon question," than we were when we arrived, perhaps. We had a deal more "information" than we had before, of course, but we did not know what portion of it was reliable and what was not--for it all came from acquaintances of a day--strangers, strictly speaking.  We were told, for instance, that the dreadful "Mountain Meadows Massacre" was the work of the Indians entirely, and that the Gentiles had meanly tried to fasten it upon the Mormons; we were told, likewise, that the Indians were to blame, partly, and partly the Mormons; and we were told, likewise, and just as positively, that the Mormons were almost if not wholly and completely responsible for that most treacherous and pitiless butchery. We got the story in all these different shapes, but it was not till several years afterward that Mrs. Waite's book, "The Mormon Prophet," came out with Judge Cradlebaugh's trial of the accused parties in it and revealed the truth that the latter version was the correct one and that the Mormons were the assassins.  All our "information" had three sides to it, and so I gave up the idea that I could settle the "Mormon question" in two days.  Still I have seen newspaper correspondents do it in one.

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