On July 4, 1838, Sidney Rigdon gave a discourse to an audience of thousands gathered in the public square at the center of Far West, Missouri. Considered a skilled orator, Rigdon spoke on independence, the Church’s commitment to the United States, and the rights of Latter-day Saints to defend themselves against persecution. It is unknown if Joseph Smith or Hyrum Smith, the other two members of the First Presidency at the time, had a hand in preparing the speech with Rigdon.
The full text of the oration, sometimes referred to as the “Mormon Declaration of Independence”, was published within the year. The lengthy speech is over ten pages long—here are five of the most powerful quotes. The text of the quotes retains the original spelling and punctuation as it was first printed.
Our country and its institutions, are written on the tablet of our hearts, as with the blood of the heroes who offered their lives in sacrifice, to redeem us from oppression. On its towers the flag of freedom waves, and invites the oppressed to enter, and find an asylum. Under the safeguard of its constitution, the tyrant’s grasp is unfastened, and equal rights and privileges flow to every part of the grand whole. Protected by its laws and defended by its powers, the oppressed and persecuted saint can worship under his own vine, and under his own figtree, and none can molest or make afraid. We have always contemplated it, and do now, as the only true fabric of freedom, and bullwork of liberty, in the world.
There is one thing, in the midst of our political differences, which ought to create feelings of joy and gratitude in every heart, and in the bosom of every wellwisher to mankind; that, all parties, in politics, tics, express the strongest desire to preserve both the union and the constitution unimpaired and unbroken, and only differ about the means to accomplish this object; so desirable, as expressed by all parties. And while this, indeed, is the object of parties in this republic, there is nothing to fear. The prospects for the future, will be as flattering as the past.
In celebrating this, the anniversary of our independence, all party distinctions should be forgotten, all religious differences should be laid aside. We are members of one common republic, equally dependent on a faithful execution of its laws for our protection, in the enjoyment of our civil, political, and religious privileges. All have a common interest in the preservation of the Union, and in the defence and support of the constitution. Northern, southern, and western interests, ought to be forgotten, or lost for the time being, in the more noble desire to preserve the nation, as one whole; for on this depends the security of all local and sectional interest; for if we cannot preserve them by supporting the Union, we cannot by rending it in pieces. In the former there is hope, in the latter fear. In one peace, in the other war.
If we preserve the nation from ruin, and the people from war, it will be by securing to others, what we claim to ourselves, and being as zealous to defend another’s rights, as to secure our own.
We will never be the agressors, we will infringe on the rights of no people; but shall stand for our own until death. We claim our own rights, and are willing that all others shall enjoy theirs.
No man shall be at liberty to come into our streets, to threaten us with mobs, for if he does, he shall attone for it before he leaves the place, neither shall he be at liberty, to villify and slander any of us, for suffer it we will not in this place.
We therefore, take all men to record this day, that we proclaim our liberty on this day, as did our fathers. And we pledge this day to one another, our fortunes, our lives, and our sacred honors, to be delivered from the persecutions which we have had to endure, for the l[a]st nine years, or nearly th[at.] Neither will we indulge any man, or set of men, in instituting vexatious law suits against us, to cheat us out of our just rights, if they attempt it we say wo be unto them.
We this day then proclaim ourselves free, with a purpose and a determination, that never can be broken, “no never! no never!! NO NEVER.”!!!
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.