Sumner Howard provides refutation of claim John Doyle Lee never confessed at all and that "last confession" was falsified.

Mar 8, 1878
News (traditional)
Sumner Howard
2nd Hand

“Mountain Meadows Massacre: The Acknowledgement of Its Forgery by Mr. Howard—Why He Wants to Discredit it—Proof of its Authenticity in the Possession of Mr. Bishop, etc., etc.,” Eureka Daily Republican, Eureka, Nevada, March 8, 1878, 3/3

Eureka Daily Republican
William Bishop, Brigham Young, Sumner Howard, John Doyle Lee
Reading Public

The telegram from New York, March 6th, having been published all over the country making known to the world a statement, made by Sumner D. Howard, the late United States Attorney for the District of Utah (not Marshal as sated), to the effect that John D. Lee, the Mountain Meadows murderer, never made a confession at all, and that he and Marshal Nelson tried in vain to get one, we yesterday waited on W.W. Bishop, of Lee’s counsel, and the publisher of the “Life and Confession of John D. Lee,” to ascertain what evidence he had of the authenticity of the manuscript from which the book was published. We found Mr. Bishop ready to converse upon the subject and to furnish all the evidence desired in order to brand the assertion of Mr. Howard as wilfully false. Not only that, but the sketch of Mr. Howard’s proceedings in Utah, given by Mr. Bishop, was such as to make the reason plain why that gentlemen, now a resident of Salt Lake, desires to throw discredit on the published confession of Mr. Lee. Mr. Howard went from Michigan to Utah to accept the office of United States District Attorney with the evident desire of making capital and not money out of the position, since it was one which no attorney of respectable practice and average ability would accept. In this desire he has been successful in one sense, for he has resigned his office and stepped into a lucrative practice among the Saints. In other words, from being a prosecutor of that people for their offenses, he has become their champion. No one will question his personal right to do so, but the fact that there were many cases which it rightfully devolved upon him to prosecute as District Attorney, and that he refrained from doing so and then went over to the enemy, shows that he must have had some powerful inducements. It becomes necessary for him in his altered position to do all he can to protect the members of the One-eye-drily [sic] Association. In order to do this he must throw discredit on Lee’s confession. But to the proof produced by Mr. Bishop of the genuineness of the manuscript from which the book was published. Mr. Bishop, in the first place, produces the hand-writing of Mr. Lee. This is not a difficult task, since he has not only numerous letters written to him as counsel, but a mass of manuscript, containing at least 1000 pages which is unquestionably genuine. These are amply sufficient for the desired purpose, since they go back as far as 1846 and embrace a diary of his, the first entry being “Omaha Nation, November 21, 1846.” This diary of Lee’s contains detailed account of each day’s transactions, journeyings, church meetings, teachings, etc., and is the only record remaining of all these things. This could not have been ”composed” by Howard et al. Then Mr. Bishop has Lee’s diary of the trial, etc., very voluminous. The handwriting of Mr. Lee is peculiar, very difficult of imitation and easily recognizable. It corresponds throughout with the book manuscript. This manuscript consists of 335 pages of closely written legal cap, and on the margins of one of the rolls are traced the last words John D. Lee ever penned on earth. They comprise a short sentence, directed to the Marshal, and read as follows: “Please deliver to W.W. Bishop, Pioche, Nevada.” The covers bear the direction and proof that the manuscript was sent by express as directed. The manuscript is unquestionably genuine and just as it came from Lee’s hands. Moreover, the orthography is as peculiar as the chirography. It is a little singular, if, as claimed by Howard, the confession was composed by himself. Marshal Nelson, and a newspaper reporter, that it should bear the peculiar marks of identity which characterize the manuscripts of Lee, written 30 years before. If Howard’s story is true, it shows these gentlemen to be as expert in forgery as in the manufacture of confessions. The fact is, that the manuscript is genuine and that every word of it was penned by John D. Lee. It is true, as telegraphed, that Mr. Howard did attempt goet a confession out of Lee and failed. The rough draft of what was to have been a confession, under which Lee was to have been pardoned, was made first by Mr. Bishop at a time when an agreement with Mr. Carey, the former District Attorney, to that effect was made. For six days Mr. Lee went to the office of Mr. Bishop and made his statements which were taken down by Mr. Bishop, and subsequently written out. The first draft was sent to Lee, Mr. Bishop keeping the copy written out, which he still has in his possession. This rough draft was the one which Howard undertook to publish to prevent the later publication by Mr. Bishop. It was all ready in type in the office of the Sacramento Record Union and other papers on the coast when the day of execution came. The fact is that Mr. Howard now seeks to discredit the real confession of Lee, so as to excuse himself for not prosecuting other offenders while he was in office in Utah. Lee, as is well known, was convicted under an agreement to that effect with the Mormon leaders. Mr. Howard’s present Mormon practice probably presents another feature of that bargain, under which, also, all other participants with Lee must be allowed to go free. Mr. Bishop has also many papers written by Mr. Lee after the confession and forwarded through the Marshal. These contain subsequent recollections, on the part of Mr. Lee of occurrences which he had forgotten at the time of writing the large manuscript, and which he wanted inserted. These all beat the same proofs of authenticity as the main manuscript itself. And even after the last of the manuscript was written Mr. Howard endeavored to keep Marshal Nelson from sending it to Mr. Bishop, as per agreement, but failed, Marshal Nelson insisting upon performing the trust reposed by Lee in him. If Mr. Howard and others forged the confession, as he asserts, perhaps he would like to claim the authorship to the diaries referred to, the miracles claimed therein, the dogeral rhymes of still other manuscripts which were written by Lee, and have never been published, and which Mr. Bishop has in his possession. We have other things in relation to this Mr. Howard and his actions in Utah which we shall make public soon.

BHR Staff Commentary

U.S. attorney Sumner Howard issues a statement that JDL never confessed at all and that Lee's "last confession" was falsified by William Bishop. Article tries to refute such charges.

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