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Mountain Meadows Massacre


MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE, the worst slaughter of white civilians on the westward trek. In 1857, a wagon train of some thirty families moved through Utah on the way west. Tension was high between Utah's governor Brigham Young, spiritual leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, and the federal government, with the widespread expectation of an invasion by U.S. troops. As the emigrants, numbering as many as 150 people, including dozens of children, rolled west, they clashed with local Mormons and Indians. Mormon leaders incited the Indians to attack the train at Mountain Meadows in September 1857. The emigrants circled their wagons and drove off the first attack; when a second assault also failed, the Mormon elder John D. Lee and others promised the emigrants a safe conduct if they would leave all their goods behind. When the emigrants followed Lee out of the circle of wagons, a mixed force of Indians and Mormons, lying in wait, rose up and slaughtered all save seventeen children believed to be too young to remember. John D. Lee was later tried and executed for the act; he went to his grave claiming he was a scapegoat. Complicity of the Mormon hierarchy has never been conclusively proven.


Brooks, Juanita. The Mountain Meadows Massacre. Rev. ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.

Smith, Christopher. "Unearthing Mountain Meadows Secrets: Backhoe at a S. Utah Killing Field Rips Open 142-Year-Old Wound." Salt Lake Tribune (12 March 2000).


See alsoLatter-day Saints, Church of Jesus Christ of ; Mormon War .

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