165 years ago today - Nov 20, 1857

Orrin Porter Rockwell leaves Salt Lake City with four members of Aiken party of six California emigrants whom Mormons arrest as "supposed spies." After camping near Nephi, Utah, Mormon guards murder two, then kill two survivors who had been nursed by Mormons at Nephi. In Salt Lake City William A. Hickman kills one of Aiken party, but last man escapes to California. Hickman claims he reported these killings to Brigham Young afterward. Rockwell is arrested but dies before trial begins for remaining Mormon defendant, who is acquitted due to lack of corpse as evidence. Russia's ambassador warns Czar's Foreign Minister of newspaper rumors, which U.S. presídent James Buchanan has implied are true, that Mormons are preparing to abandon Utah and "head North to settle on the lands of the Hudson Bay Company or in our American possessions" of Alaska. Russia's ambassador concludes that this "would force us either to offer armed resistance or give up a part of our territory" to Mormons. Czar Alexander II writes on this secret dispatch: "This supports the idea of settling right now the question of our American possessions." Thus, untrue rumor of Mormon intentions causes Czar to decide on disposing of Russia's only colony in North America, which Russia sells to United States in 1868.

[The Mormon Hierarchy - Extensions of Power by D. Michael Quinn, [New Mormon History database ( http://bit.ly/NMHdatabase )]]

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