This is a major collection of historical documents by John D. Lee and his contemporaries, written in the 1870s, some published here for the first time. It includes Lee’s Life (autobiography), Confession (Mountain Meadows Massacre), Arrest, Trial Excerpts and Imprisonment, Poems and Letters, Last Words to his families, Execution, and ongoing efforts toward reconciliation.
John Doyle Lee lived a life of heroic proportions. He was a leader of uncommon energy and courage in a movement that helped shape the western United States. Brigham Young is reported to have said that Lee was the most competent frontiersman and settler that he had ever known. On a human scale, Lee was considered by most of those who knew him to be an intelligent, kind and even tender-hearted man who shared his food, shelter, knowledge and respect with everyone who needed it. He was a friend and teacher to the Indian tribes. He was a polygamist who married nineteen wives and fathered sixty-five children. But Lee’s life ended in tragedy, as he took the blame for one of the most infamous atrocities of frontier history, The Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857. Hounded into exile in the remote Grand Canyon and Navajo Country, he built and operated Lee’s Ferry and Lee’s Lonely Dell, now an historic monument. Eventually, he was arrested, imprisoned and brought to trial in federal courts twice, convicted, and executed by firing squad on the very site of the Massacre, on March 23, 1877.
A witness to both inspiring and degrading events, John D. Lee recorded irreplaceable history in his Journals and other writings throughout his life. This book contains important Lee writings that have not been published in full since 1891, as well as supporting historical documents, some of which have not been published previously.