Thursday, September 8, 2011

on facing ones mortality

at his execution

Camp Cameron, March 13th, 1877. 

Morning clear, still and pleasant. The guard, George Tracy, Informs me that Col. Nelson and Judge Howard have gone. Since my confinement here, I have reflected much over my sentence, and as the time of my execution is drawing near, I feel composed, and as calm as the summer morning. I hope to meet my fate with manly courage. I declare my innocence. I have done nothing designedly wrong in that unfortunate and lamentable affair with which I have been implicated. I used my utmost endeavors to save them from their sad fate. I freely would have given worlds, were they at my command, to have averted that evil. I wept and mourned over them before and after, but words will not help them, now it is done. My blood cannot help them, neither can it make that atonement required. Death to me has no terror. It is but a struggle, and all is over. I much regret to part with my loved ones here, especially under that odium of disgrace that will follow my name; that I cannot help.

I know that I have a reward in Heaven, and my conscience does not accuse me. This to me is a great consolation. I place more value upon it than I would upon an eulogy without merit. If my work is done here on earth, I ask my God in Heaven, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to receive my spirit, and allow me to meet my loved ones who have gone behind the vail. The bride of my youth and her faithful mother, my devoted friend and companion, N. A., also my dearly beloved children, all of whom I parted from with sorrow, but shall meet them with joy—I bid you all an affectionate farewell. I have been treacherously betrayed and sacrificed in the most cowardly manner by those who should have been my friends, and whose will I have diligently striven to make my pleasure, for the last thirty years at least. In return for my faithfulness and fidelity to him and his cause, he has sacrificed me in a most shameful and cruel way*. I leave them in the hands of the Lord to deal with them according to the merits of their crimes, in the final restitution of all things. 


I beg of you to teach them better things than to ever allow themselves to be let down so low as to be steeped in the vice, corruption and villainy that would allow them to sacrifice the meanest wretch on earth, much less a neighbor and a friend, as their father has been. Be kind and true to each other. Do not contend about my property. You know my mind concerning it . Live faithful and humble before God, that we may meet again in the mansions of bliss that God has prepared for His faithful servants. Remember the last words of your most true and devoted friend on earth, and let them sink deep into your tender aching hearts; many of you I may never see in this world again, but I leave my blessing with you. Farewell.

I wish my wife Rachel^  to take a copy of the above, and all my family to have a copy of the original. My worthy attorney, W. W. Bishop, will please insert it in my record or history, should I not be able to write up my history to the proper place, to speak of my worthy friend Win. H. Hooper. Please exonerate him from all blame or censure of buying the stock of that unfortunate company, as there is no truth in the accusation whatever. He is a noble, high-minded gentleman. And let it appear also of Bishop John Sharp, honorably, for the nobleness of the man who advanced me money in the time of trouble, and if my history meet with the favor of the public, pay those two gentlemen. My friends Hoge and Foster, as well as yourself and Spicer, some. 

You understood our agreement.

John D. Lee.


Written in prison at Fort Cameron, near Beaver City, Utah Territory. Delivered to Hon. Sumner Howard by John D. Lee, on the field of execution, just before the sentence of death was carried into effect.

Forwarded to Wm. W. Bishop, by Hon. Sumner Howard,
according to the last request of John D. Lee.

*I Believe this a reference to Brigham Young,  who used him as scapegoat to preserve the church.
^This is the wife he had with him in his final days in the territoral Prison.