The Science of Anti-Mormon Suckerology

02 May

From the Juvenile Instructor, Christopher’s discovery of Parley P. Pratt’s article:

I came across the following article while looking for something else in Samuel Brannan’s The Prophet yesterday.  It was authored by Parley P. Pratt and published in May 1845. I had never heard of it or come across it anywhere else [1], and thought readers might find it useful (or at least entertaining). Entitled, “The Science of Anti-Mormon Suckerology—Its Learned Terms, and their Significations,” (perhaps the best title ever for a piece in a Mormon periodical) the article is written in response to the increasing number of articles on the Mormons that had begun to appear in popular and significant newspapers in America following the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. It provides (often humorous, always polemical) definitions for various terms that Pratt feels the general reader may not be familiar with. Perhaps more significantly for interested researchers, it speaks to early Mormon understandings of their place in America as true patriots and sincere religionists. It also probably deserves a closer reading through the lens of gender, race, and ethnicity. I’m interested in any and all reactions to what stands out to readers. Enjoy.

The Science of Anti-Mormon Suckerology—Its Learned Terms, and their Significations.

The foregoing article, which appeared in the New York Tribune last week, as well as other articles which are some times seem in the Warsaw Signal, Quincy Whig, and Alton Telegraph, and some othor papers contain terms peculiar to anti Mormon Suckerism.

Or rather, some of the terms in use in these articles have a meaning peculiar to those singular people, and therefore not rightly understood abroad without an Anti Mormon Sucker Dictionary.

The following list of terms and their significance, will aid the general reader, in some measure and give him the key to the better understanding of the Anti Mormon Sucker communications, which have, or may hereafter appear in the Tribune, and other like papers.

The significations here given, however, may not be perfect, as we only form out judgment of their meaning from our knowledge of the circumstances to which they refer, or from a careful examination of the sense of th sentences, with which they stand connected.

Mormon.—A believer in revealed religion; a patriot, who stands firmly for the laws of his country, and for equal rights and protection.

Jack Mormon.—One who may not be a member of a church, but makes common cause with the Mormons and all other good citizens, for the maintainance of right, and a just and equitable administration of the law.

Anti-Mormon.—A mobber. A man opposed to the laws of his country; an instigator and justifier of murder, and of driving men, women, and children from their homes and plundering them of their property.

The Whites.—Artificial black men. Murderers who paint themselves black in order that they may not be know when they commit a crime.—This term is also sometimes applied to men who neither paint nor murder in person, but who justify and approve of those who do.

Old Citizens.—Early settlers of the county of Hancock, who disapprove of law and order, and who have combined in a mob to murder, drive, and plunder the Mormons, or to justify and defend those who do murder. The term old citizens also applies to all of the mob party, no matter whether they are citizens at all or whether they have been in the county three days or one.

New Comers, (or Intruders.)—The oldest citizens of the county, who first settled it, and who were the farmers and office holders before the Mormons settled there, but who have since either joined them in religious fellowship, or united with them in endeavoring to preserve the peace, and put down mobs. To such characters, even if they were the pioneers of the country, the Anti Mormon Suckerology never allows the term old citizens to be applied.

Gentlemen of High Respectability.—Those who have been indicted by an impartial Grand Jury of their country, for the most cruel, cold blooded and cowardly murder known upon the annals of history, and those who justify and defend them.

Mormon Fortifications.—A garden fence; a common city enclosure of public grounds.

Mormon Fanatics.—Those who believe the Scriptures, and endeavor to practice the worship of God according to the rules therein contained.

Mormon Despotism.—Church government after the Scriptural patterns, as exemplified in the fourth chapter of Ephesians, and throughout the New Testament.

Mormon Tyrant.—A civil magistrate, or other office, elected by the people, but who happens to belong to the church.

Mormon Tyranny.—Any attempt on the part of civil officers to bring mobbers to justice, according to law and their oath of office.

Mormon Treason.—To emigrate to the west; to settle in one place or neighborhood; to build a city or temple; to fence a field; to buy a powder horn; to possess, to purchase or make arms; to do military duty according to law, or even to refuse to do it; to defend ones house, property, wife, children, or even his own life, when attacked by mobs! or even to be united in politics.

Mormon Notions.—Of these there seems in the science of Anti Mormon Suckerology, to be a great variety, too many to mention in a dictionary. We will only give a few of the most [p. 3] queer and singular ones. First, this singular people seem to have a notion to purchase land and settle in the west, and many of them have actually done so. Second. They have a notion to build houses, and to cultivate their land, and get a living. Third. They have a notion to build cities, public halls and houses of worship, and to organize schools and meetings, for the edification and instruction of themselves and children.

Fourth. They have a notion that they are American citizens and have a right to vote, and to share in public offices.

Fifth. They have some how or other got it into their heads lately—according to a correspondent of the Tribune, that lands once purchased, and houses, cities and temples built by them, rightly belong to them, and that themselves, their wives and children have a right to occupy them.

Sixth. They have a notion not to relinquish these supposed rights, at the suggestion of their peaceable and well disposed neighbors, who boldly tell them they shall do it, or be killed. How strange it is that poor deluded ignorant Mormons are not willing to make so reasonable and just a sacrifice, for the sake of peace with the ‘Good peaceable, quiet, inoffensive old citizens’ of the county, who only ask them to either hold still, and let them kill them by just touching a little fire to powder, in an easy, quiet, peaceable and pious manner, and gently blowing their brains out, as they have already done to their leaders.—Or else to let them touch them softly, and gently set them on yon shore, the other side of the Mississippi, while they posses their lands and property. [2]


[1] If anyone has seen this printed (or reprinted) anywhere else, please point it out to me. I’ve put forth no effort to look for it elsewhere.

[2] P.P. Pratt, “The Science of Anti-Mormon Suckerology,” The Prophet, Vol. 1, No. 51 (May 1845): [pp. 2-3]. I’ve omitted the concluding paragraphs for purposes of brevity and relevance.

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Posted by on May 2, 2009 in Uncategorized


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