Friday, January 22, 2010

John Nicholson's lecture on the Tennessee Massacre

On September 22, 1884, John Nicholson lectured in Salt Lake City on the causes of the Cane Creek Masaacre. John Nicholson worked as an associate editor for the Deseret News under Charles W. Penrose. He wrote hymns (see note), missionary tracts, and was a popular public speaker.

It was actually the second lecture he made about the causes of the Massacre. The first was delivered on the 14th or 15th of September in the Twelfth Ward Assembly Rooms. The response was so possitive that a number of people asked that Mr Nicholson repeat his message infront of a larger crowd.

The Salt Lake Theatre was secured for September 22nd. The manager of the theatre was Hiram Bradley Clawson who was also the Bishop the Twelfth Ward where John gave his first presentation. The organizers also obtained the services of a stenographer, John Irvine. It is the stenographers copy that we have today, though there are some notes from the lecture on the 15th included at the end. The theatre was packed with an additional three to four hundred people sitting on the stage itself. The Theatre Ochestra and the Sixteenth Ward Band were on hand to play music before Mr Nicholson began speaking.

The text of his lecture is now in the public domain, available from several sources on the web. Here are just a few.

Open Library
Internet Archive

By the way, I don't agree with Mr Nicholson about the cause of the Massacre. He says that the Red Hot Address was a principle cause. Although I have nothing to judge the specifics of his reasoning about politics in Utah, I doubt the magnitude of his assumed effect on the people of Lewis County. I think it was something else that pushed them over the edge and it had little to do with the Red Hot Address. But that is the subject of another post.

[John Nicholson wrote the text for Come Follow Me, The Lord is My Light, and While of these Emblems We Partake]


Amy said...

These lectures were undoubtedly important in the way that the Massacre was understood by the Saints in Utah. Did Nicholson have any connection to the Southern States? Had he been a missionary there? Or was he speaking on the basis of interviews and newspaper reports?

BruceCrow said...

As near as I could tell, Nicholson's only connection was his role as associate editor of the Deseret News, which explains his take on the issue.

Bessie said...

How very interesting. According to his journal, John Morgan missed both of these gatherings, as he traveled to other settlements. I will enjoy reading all you've gathered here, and continue to learn. Thank you for all of your work!

Susan W H said...

At last--I knew one of these days you would post about Nicholson. He is one of my favorite characters from this period and would be a good subject for a biography. He was a passionate defender of the Saints and IMHO deserves more attention.

Amy, his connection would have been through the News although he may have known some of the victims personally. He gave his speech shortly before the trial of Rudger Clawson began--the Saints were beginning to feel serious heat from the federal government on plural marriage. Several months later he was arrested for unlawful cohabitation. At trial he waived his rights and testified for the prosecution so that he was convicted in short order. He gave a defiant speech at the time of his sentencing.

He also wrote some fiery editorials during the time he acted as the News editor during Penrose's absence abroad.

BruceCrow said...

I'm glad you enjoy it. What I find fun about sharing what I find is other people with a similar interest in LDS history taking what I find and looking to see if it ties into what they are looking at. It puts my work into a larger context.

Thanks for the contribution. I am new enough to Mormon history that I will often run across someone in my research and have no idea of their greater significance.