When assigning blame for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, two figures who played a prominent role in raising tensions often don’t get talked about as much as others: President James Buchanan, and apostle George A. Smith. Will Bagley tells how these two men created the environment which allowed a massacre to take place at Mountain Meadows.
Will: Buchanan thought that by extending America, purchasing Cuba and getting most of northern Mexico to open for the slaveocracy, that that could avert the Civil War. The Mormons are just sort of in the way and he’s convinced that if he can get them to move to Mexico, they’ll support his plan to defuse the slave crisis. Now, Brigham Young would have gone to Sonora at the end of the Utah war, but there wasn’t any way to get there.
GT: So you’re telling me that President Buchanan was trying to kick the Mormons out of Utah and send them to Mexico?
Will: He’s trying to scare them out.
Did you know that? We also talk about apostle George A Smith.
Will: Here we are, it’s early September. George A. Smith, the old funny potato saint who had starving people at Winter Quarters eat potatoes, he was quite a funny guy and quite beloved. He winds up touring southern Utah and giving hell raising speeches. This is where the widely held belief that there’s hysteria in Utah, war hysteria. Well guess what? There isn’t, and we now have direct evidence that people believe in Brigham Young. They’re completely committed to Brigham Young. Brigham Young says, “We’re going to use up the army. We’re going to completely destroy all these people who are threatening us.” So being true, believing Latter-day Saints at this time, they’re not worried. It isn’t hysteria that takes over Southern Utah, it’s fanaticism, and who’s down there stoking the fanaticism? George A. Smith. John D. Lee, in his autobiography, gives a very good account of how he does a mafia. What will happen if…? Smith has him out on the trail up to Mountain Meadows and he says, “What would happen if Indians attacked wagon train here?”
GT: George Smith says this to John D. Lee?
Will: Yes, and Lee says, “Well, the Indians would use them up, no doubt.” He says, “If Brigham Young doesn’t want us to do this, you’d better have him send a message because otherwise, I think I know what you want.”
Check out our conversation….