Sumner Howard complaining of political intrigue from former prosecutors to malign his successful efforts.

Sep 28, 1876
Government Document
Sumner Howard

William Nelson, U.S. Marshal[;] Sumner Howard, U.S. District Attorney. William Nelson and Sumner Howard to Alphonso Taft, 28 September 1876, General Records of the Department of Justice, Letters Received, “Mountain Meadows Massacre Letters,” RG 60, box 1015, National Archives. Transcription taken from Richard E. Turley Jr., Janiece L. Johnson, and LaJean Purcell Carruth, eds., Mountain Meadows Massacre: Collected Legal Papers, 2 vols. (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017), 2:743-44

Department of Justice
Alphonso Taft, Sumner Howard, William Nelson, John Doyle Lee
General Public

“Hon Alphonso Taft, Attorney General[;] Washington City D.C.[;] Sir[:] The trial of John D. Lee indicted for murder committed at the Mountain Meadows in September 1857, has just been held at this place and the result is a verdict of ‘guilty of murder in the first degree.’ The result seems to be displeasing to certain factionists here who have heretofore conducted this case and those connected with the ‘Mountain Meadow Massacre’ with reference more to outside matters than to the cause at bar. It has been [their] public boast that the former trial of John D. Lee in July 1875 was not for the purpose of convicting the prisoner, but to fix the [crime] of the Mountain Meadow butchery upon the Mormon Church. The result was the call for a large amount of public money, and no result except the advancement of certain schemes and aspirations of local politicians whose attitude is that of uniform condemnation of the administration and its appointees. In the trial just concluded, the case of John D. Lee, and that alone was tried. It became apparent early in the investigation, that there is no evidence whatsoever to connect the chief authorities of the Mormon Church with the Massacre, on the contrary those authorities produced documents and other evidence showing clearly that not only was that great crime solely an individual offense on the part of those who committed it, but that the orders, letters[,] proclamations etc. which issued from the central Mormon authority which was also at that time the Territorial authority were directly and positively contrary to all shedding of blood, not only of emigrants passing through the Territory, but also forbade the killing of the Soldiers of Johnsons [sic] Army which was marching on Utah. Being satisfied of this the prosecution laid the case before the Mormon leaders and ask[ed] their aid in unraveling the mystery of this foul crime. That aid was given and the horrid testimony is public from the mouths of eye witnesses, convicting the prisoner without the shadow of a doubt. Those whose thunder is stolen by this conviction and the fixing of the crime where the evidence places it, and who failure in the same prosecution before, are exceeding angry, and are making to the public such misrepresentations as their Malice suggests and are said to be also forwarding certain of their statements to Washington. It seems marvelous that any set of men should reject the conviction of the chief butcher of Mountain Meadows, but disappointment and envy, together with the loss of political capital, will drive men into strange positions. The outline of the case is reported to you herein with the assurance that nothing has been done in the management of the prosecution of which any officer of the government high or low, need be ashamed.

BHR Staff Commentary

Sumner Howard (District Attorney) complaining of political intrigue from former prosecutors to malign his successful efforts.

Citations in Mormonr Qnas
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