MORMON STUDIES PRESENTS:
THE EARLY DAYS OF MORMONISM
By James H. Kennedy
Part Four of Four Parts
[ Pages 189-280 ]
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[ 189 ]
FAR WEST AND NAUVOO.
The exiles who had been so relentlessly driven across the Missouri into Clay County, were for a time allowed to rest in peace, and make some attempt to repair their broken fortunes. But the causes that had led to their persecution upon one side of the river, were soon at work upon the other, although no overt act against them occurred until in June, 1836, when they were formally requested by the residents of Clay to move still further on. The demands and replies were similar in purpose and temper to those already heard in Jackson County, and the final result was of a like character. Disposing of their possessions at such figures as they could command, the wanderers once more turned their faces toward the north, and in the semi-wilderness that afterward became Caldwell County, founded the town of Far West.
While the hostility of their old enemies was by no means appeased, nor the popular fear of Mormon designs removed, a season of comparative quiet ensued, in which their settlement grew in size and business, until at one time its population reached into the thousands. Log and frame houses were erected, as if by magic, shops and factories built, and schools opened. An air of thrift and a spirit of industry were everywhere apparent. It was in this young and energetic community that Smith and Rigdon found
welcome and safety at the termination of their hurried flight from Kirtland, in January, 1838.
The Prophet had saved from the Kirtland wreck his dream of a great city, and almost immediately ordered such measures as would create in Far West that which had proved impossible in Ohio. A map was constructed after the Kirtland plan, surveys made, and in the centre of the proposed town a grand square laid out, upon which a second temple was to be erected.
Work upon the building was commenced in the summer of 1838, and ceremonies of consecration performed on July 4th. The structure was carried forward, until the walls were two feet high, when the storm of persecution and anger once more broke forth, and the third temple dream of Joseph came to an untimely end. *
Smith was as active in the new home as he had been in the old. In April he published a revelation commanding the Saints in the East to join their brethren in the West. On May 18th he directed the founding of a new city, several miles from Far West, to be called Adam-Ondi-Ahman, or "The Valley of
* "All that remains of this temple to-day is a depression in the earth three or four feet deep, the size of the original excavation, and some fragments of crumbling walls. Only one building remains in the city, said by some of the older settlers to have been occupied by Smith and his first wife. It is on a slight eminence, of log and frame, one and a half stories high, contains four rooms, has a large fire-place, and chimney of rude home-made bricks. It is now occupied as a farm-house. Two or three of the buildings of Far West were hauled to Kingston after they were abandoned by the Mormons, and are still in use there as shops and dwellings." -- Judge William A. Wood, in Magazine of American History, July, 1886.
God, in which Adam placed his children." * Among the commands issued in rapid succession was one requiring the Saints to give the surplus of their property for the construction of a temple, for the founding of Zion, for the support of the clergy, and for the payment of the debts of the presidency; another establishing a permanent ten per cent. income tax; and still another prohibiting the sale of spirituous liquors in Far West.
Yet the course of authority here, as in Ohio, was full of thorns for the Prophet's feet. Internal dissensions that struck at the very root of Smith's power, had found their way into the church at Far West. None but extreme measures were 'possible on his part, and he proved himself equal to the emergency. Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris were cut off from the church, while Orson Hyde and others
* Extract from "Mormonism Unveiled; or, The Life and Confessions of the late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee," page 91: "Adam-on-Diamond (the popular pronunciation of the word) was at the point where Adam came and settled and blest his posterity, after being driven from the Garden, of Eden. This was revealed to the people through Joseph Smith, the Prophet. The temple-block, in Jackson County, Missouri, stands on the identical spot where once stood the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden, they travelled in a northwesterly course until they came to a valley on the east side of Grand River. There they tarried for several years, and engaged in tilling the soil.... On the top of this range of bills Adam erected an altar of stone, on which he offered sacrifice unto the Lord. There was at that time (in 1838) a pile of stones there, which the Prophet said was a portion of the altar on which Adam offered sacrifice. Although these stones bad been exposed to the elements for many generations of time, still the traces remained to show the dimensions and design of the altar.'"
In the concluding pages of the original edition of the Book of
apostatized and used their influence to fan into new flame the hatred and suspicious fear already smouldering in Gentile breasts. Thomas B. Marsh, no less
Mormon may be found the certificate of three men, -- Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, -- who made express declaration that they had seen the plates from which the book had been translated: "And we declare with words of soberness that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates. and the engravings thereon," with more to the same effect. Following this is another certificate of the same character, signed by eight wit. nesses, among whom were John Whitmer, Joseph Smith, Sr., and Hyrum Smith. The fate of the three first named in their connection with Mormonism is remarkable. All left the church at about the period of trouble above described. Oliver Cowdery went to Richmond, Ray County, Missouri, where he died on March 3, 1850. He never repudiated the Mormon faith as originally adopted and practiced, but, on the contrary, defended it on his death-bed. Trouble occurred between Smith and himself, as early as 1837, caused, according to the declarations of the latter. by the Prophet's selfish disposition and desire to gain the possessions of others. David Whitmer decided, in 1838, to cut loose from the church, having no liking for the course things were then taking, and proceeded also to Richmond, which he made his home, and where he died on January 25, 1888. He was a useful and respected member of the community, and a faithful believer in Mormonism to the end, declaring during the last few hours of his life, "I want to say to you all, the Bible and the record of the Nephites (the Book of Mormon) is true, so you can say that you have heard me bear my testimony on my death-bed." Whitmer always claimed to have the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon in his pos. session, refusing all offers made for it by the Salt Lake Mormons whose claims and practices he repudiated. The third of the three, Martin Harris, had made repeated efforts to gain advancement in the church, but Smith had no further need of him now that his money was gone, and finally answered his demands and threats by expelling him from the church. He was afterward offered a restoration, which he declined, although still holding to his faith in Mormonism. He deserved far better treatment than he received. With property and
a personage than the President of, the Twelve Apostles, also seceded, and united with others in publicly charging Smith and the Mormons with many crimes and misdemeanors -- treason against the State, conspiracy with the Indians, counterfeiting, cattle stealing, immorality, and other offences of less degree.
While the Mormons would have been justified in attempting such defense as was possible to these charges -- they did not content themselves with the exercise of that right, but repeated the mistakes that had been the main cause of their troubles in Jackson County. Their boldness grew with their numbers, and their defiance increased with their prosperity. Their arrogant claims of spiritual superiority, and confession of a purpose to ultimately possess all that land, stirred up the old enmity, which was by no means allayed when Sidney Rigdon, on July 4th of this year of trouble, preached a sermon that was full of vengeance and death, not only to the Gentiles, but to all who dissented from the doctrine of fire and the sword that he enunciated, Brigham Young, in speaking of this episode in after-years, said: * "Elder Rigdon was the prime cause of our troubles in Missouri, by his Fourth of July oration;" while another Mormon referred. to it as "a flaming speech, which had
reputation gone, the wife of his youth forever sundered from him, and faith in those about him shattered, he returned to Ohio, and lived in Painesville, where, as rumor declares, he was sought out by an agent of Brigham Young, who gave him money with which to go to Utah, where he ended his days in peace. He died at Clarkston, Cache County, Utah, on July 10, 1875, at the age of ninety-three.
* "Times and Seasons," vol. v., p. 667.
The apostle Woodruff, "Times and Seasons," p. 698.
a tendency to bring persecution upon the whole church, especially the head of it." The text was from Matthew v. 13: If the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men."
The significant passage in this address -- which has passed into history as "Sidney's Salt Sermon" -- was as follows:
"We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day that we warn all men, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever. The man, or the set of men, who attempts it, does so at the expense of their lives; and the mob that comes on to disturb us, it shall be between us and them a war of extermination, for we will follow them till the last drop of blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us; for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses and their own families, and one part or the other shall be utterly destroyed. Remember it then, all men!"
The exasperation caused by this impolitic outburst; political contests in which the Mormons took a vig. orous part, and sowed the seed of new and fruitful enmities; quarrels among individuals of the opposing factions; collisions of armed Mormons and Missourians equally well armed, in which life was lost and property destroyed; the calling out of the State militia -- these events followed each other in rapid succession. * That deep blame lay upon both sides is a conclusion easily proved by the facts; but a relation of all that occurred during these direful days of Far
* Appendix C.
West, would be a profitless task, and, in the main, foreign to the purpose of this sketch.
The one important result of it all was the arrest, on October 31st, of Joseph Smith, Lyman Wight, Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and a number of Mormons of lesser degree, who were taken to Independence, and afterward to Richmond, Where they were lodged in jail upon various charges, among which were treason against the State, and murder-men having been killed in a number of the collisions between the Mormons and the troops. * The lack of any substantial grounds upon which a conviction could be had, is clearly shown in the course now pursued by the authorities as Smith would have been brought to a speedy trial, and published to the full extent of the law, if it could have been done without committing an outrage upon justice. The prisoners were held in Richmond till April, 1839, when they were indicted upon the charges of treason, murder, theft, and arson. They asked for a change of venue to Marion County. The request was granted, but Boone rather than Marion designated.
* "Document containing the Correspondence, Orders, etc., in relation to the Disturbances with the Mormons; and the Evidence given before the Hon. Austin A. King, judge of the Fifth judicial Circuit of the State of Missouri, at the Court-house in Richmond, in a Criminal Court of inquiry, begun November 12, 1838, on the trial of Joseph Smith, Jr., and others, for High Treason and other crimes against the State. Published by order of the General Assembly. Printed at the office of the Boon's Lick Democrat, Fayette, Missouri, 1841." Page 97: "State vs. Joseph Smith, Jr., Hiram Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, [and forty-eight others] who were charged with the several crimes of high treason against the State, murder, burglary, arson, robbery, and larceny."
As they were being conveyed to the seat of Boone County, the sheriff solved a vexatious problem for the' authorities by allowing the prisoners to make their escape. As the main body of the Mormons had now left the State, public feeling was so far allayed, that the departure of Smith and his companions caused little excitement and no general protest. *
While Joseph and Hyrum were being carried away by the officers of the law, and ruin and death threatened from every side, the Mormons naturally turned for help and leadership to Brigham Young. His coot head, sound judgment, and steady nerves were of far more practical benefit at this crisis of affairs than all the revelations of Smith, or the eloquence of Rigdon or Pratt. To remain in Missouri was impossible. A deliberate plan of extermination had been announced
* From "Document" above quoted, page 157: "A change of venue was granted by our said court at said April term, to Jos. Smith, Jr., Lyman Wight, Hiram Smith, Caleb Baldwin, and Alex. McRay, in all the foregoing cases in which they are parties, to the circuit court of Boone County, in this State, the last named defendants being in the custody of the Sheriff of Daviess County, who was commanded by our said court to convey the said defendants to the jail of said county of Boone, and the said Sheriff returned the several orders of commitment into our said court, at the next ensuing term thereof, with a certificate of the escape of the said Joseph Smith, Jr., Lyman Wight, Hiram Smith, Caleb Baldwin, and Alex. McRay endorsed thereon. And writs of capias were issued against all the other defendants in the foregoing indictments, immediately after the finding of the same, and they were all returned at the next succeeding term of our said court without Any service, none of the aforesaid defendants being found in the county of Daviess, and the said causes were all continued until the next succeeding December term, 1839, at which time a nolle prosequi was entered in each of the above causes, except those in which a change of venue, as aforesaid, were taken."
by so high an authority as the Governor of the State, and all classes of citizens had shown by their works a grim purpose of carrying that policy into effect. Young rallied about him such men as could act as well as advise, and a speedy and permanent departure from the inhospitable soil of Missouri was agreed upon. An asylum had been offered by the people of Quincy, Illinois, and that point was selected as the haven toward which the church should direct itself. The burden of travel was once more resumed, and forsaking their homes at Far West, as they had those in Clay County and in Zion, the faithful band journeyed across Eastern Missouri, put the broad Mississippi between themselves and their old enemies, and with such courage and hope as their faith could give, began the building of a new habitation in a new land..
Young had been compelled to flee for his life from Far West, in February, and proceeding to Quincy, where the majority had preceded him, worked day and night to restore order, inspire confidence, and relieve distress. The condition of the exiles was pitiable in the extreme. Their property had been destroyed
* On October 27, 1838, Governor L. W. Boggs, in an order to General Clark, who bad charge of the State troops operating in Caldwell County and vicinity, used these words: "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated, or driven from the State, if necessary for the public peace -- their outrages are beyond all description." Above "Documents," page 6r. General Clark, in an address delivered to the Mormons at Far West, on November 6th, made use of the following remarkable language: "The Governor has commanded me to exterminate you, and not to permit you to remain in the State; and had you not delivered up your leaders, and executed the conditions of our treaty, you would have been massacred, you yourselves, and your families; and your houses would have been reduced to ashes."
or confiscated, and the land they had reclaimed and improved in Caldwell County, became a total loss.
Smith was permitted to again meet with his driven and disheartened followers at their temporary refuge in Quincy, on April 26, 1839. He was welcomed as one given back from the grave, and hope and courage made their appearance in his company. With the Prophet of the Lord once more among them, the devout were persuaded that Heaven's favor was not altogether withdrawn, and that at last the long-delayed promises were to be fulfilled.
For a few succeeding years of wonderful growth and prosperity it indeed seemed as if that belief had its foundation upon a sure resting-place. In Nauvoo, the place beautiful," that soon arose as by magic, and was filled with thrift and the works thereof, the dream of a great city seemed sure of realization and for a time there fell upon it no shadow of the tragedy and ruin in which it should end. The inner history of this strangely created and ill-fated town, if written with reference to all that was accomplished or at. tempted within it, would touch upon the borders of romance. Much of that history the world will never know, as it was buried in the graves of the chief act. ors therein.
There was need of resolution and prompt action upon the part of the Mormon leaders, if they would hold their following together, and prevent the breaking up of the church under misfortunes that might well have shaken the boldest, and unsettled the faith of the most devout. That need was fully supplied. Immediate preparations were carried forward for the
founding of yet another Mormon capital. After various proffered sites had been examined, a selection was made in a bend of the Mississippi River, in Hancock County, some sixty miles above Quincy. The situation was one of natural beauty and advantage, the soil fertile, and adapted to the growth of various products, with the prairie stretching away as far as the eye could reach. The ground was undulating, and the point chosen as the immediate site of the city was bounded upon three sides by the river. A small settlement called Commerce, containing only a few rude houses, had already been commenced upon it.
On May 1st, a purchase was made by Smith, in behalf of the Mormon Church, of a tract of land, for which he paid fourteen-thousand dollars. The ground. work of the city was speedily laid out, the name Commerce giving place to Nauvoo -- a word furnished by Smith, who explained its meaning as "A beautiful site," conveying, at the same time, the idea of repose. The persecution by the Missourians had one result by no means intended sympathy for the Mormons had been excited through the North and East, their missionaries were given hearings that would otherwise have been denied, and many pilgrims were soon wending their way toward Nauvoo. So rapid was the city's advance that by June, 1840, it contained two hundred and fifty buildings, with many more in course of construction. The wisdom displayed in the choice of its location was made still further apparent when the builders found a few feet below the surface a vast bed of limestone suitable for their purpose, so that all the needed material of that character was quarried within the limits of the city
itself. Within a short period, steam saw-mills, a steam flour-mill, a tool-factory, foundry, and a manufactory for chinaware, were in busy operation. A steamboat owned by the Mormons made its appearance upon the Mississippi, giving means of transportation from Nauvoo to points above and below. Many of the dwelling-houses were small, and of wood, with more imposing structures scattered here and there among them. The plan of the city was similar to that proposed at Kirtland, and afterward at Far West, with wide streets crossing each other at right angles. The dimensions of Nauvoo were four miles by three in its widest measurements, narrowing as it approached the river.
Smith learned wisdom with age and experience, and the freedom with which revelations were issued in the early days, was cautiously restricted in these, times of enlarged responsibility and world-wide attention. The decrees of Heaven, as sent through Joseph, were restricted to measures of importance, and issued only when some work of moment was in contemplation, some rebellious or doubting Mormon to be persuaded, or an especial favor granted or promised. One of the most important messages of which the Prophet was ever unburdened, was issued on January 19, 1841, when Nauvoo had gained a fair start in a prosperous career, and was giving promise of the more important things yet to come. It was a revelation of general direction and blessing, confirming some thin gs already done, directing the beginnings of others, promising rewards to certain men whose faith may have needed stimulation, and speaking with grim meaning to 'such as had openly rebelled,
Beginning with the assuring annunciation that Joseph Smith Sr., the first Patriarch of the church, whose earthly race had now been run, was sitting in honor at Abraham's right hand, the revelation proceeded directly to the consideration of material things by commanding the immediate erection of a hotel. The structure was to be "such an one as my servant Joseph shall show to them; upon the place which he shall show unto them also. And it shall be a house for boarding, a house that strangers may come from afar to lodge therein." The orders as to the manner of construction and finances were explicit, and left little to the officials of the church except obedience -- a prime virtue of Mormonism from the days of Palmyra to those of Salt Lake. "And now I say unto you, as pertaining to my boarding-house which I have commanded you to build for the boarding of strangers, let it be built unto m name, and let my name be named upon it, and let my servant Joseph and his house have place therein from generation to generation." This advantageous provision for his family and himself was by no means left dependent by the Prophet upon the love and faith of his followers, but made a good claim in law -- it being distinctly stated in the charter under which the building was erected, that as Smith had furnished the land upon which the house was to be built, a suite of rooms in said house should be set aside by the trustees for his use. *
* From "An Act to incorporate the Nauvoo House Association," approved by the Illinois General Assembly, February 23, 1841: "Section 10. And whereas Joseph Smith has furnished the said association with the ground whereon to erect said house, it is further declared, that the said Smith and his heirs shall hold by perpetual succession a suite of rooms in the said house, to be set
Express directions were given in the revelation that George Miller, Lyman Wight, John Snider, and Peter Haws should form a society and receive stock subscriptions; no one man to subscribe less than fifty dollars nor over fifteen thousand, and no one to be accepted
unless he paid cash down. Nor was any one to be enrolled among the stockholders who was not a member of the Mormon Church. Special orders were given Vinson Knight, William Marks, William Law, and others, that they should subscribe according to their means.
The command was also given -- now for the fourth time, that a temple should be erected. That at Kirtland had been already sold under the sheriff's hammer, and was in the hands of the enemy. The foundation commenced with such flourish of promises and outpouring of prophecies at Zion was weed-grown and forgotten. A heap of rubbish marked the site at Far West. A new plea and promise found incorporation in this fourth command -- that a dedicated temple should be erected in which might bc performed baptism for the dead. * The directions in this case were as minute as in the others, and Smith's orders were to be followed in everything: "And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining unto
apart and conveyed in due form of law to him and his heirs by said trustees, as soon as the same are completed."
* This seems to have been an ingenious device for hastening the building's erection. The new doctrine announced that the living might be baptized for the salvation of the dead who had died out of Mormonism. But as this could be done only in a consecrated temple, one can see how great a leverage was secured for labor upon the ignorant. who would gladly give of their means to release their friends from torment.
this house, and the priesthood. thereof; and the place whereon it shall be built."
The revelation having thus disposed of the building question, proceeded to promote Hyrum Smith to the position of Patriarch, left vacant by his father's death; warned Sidney Rigdon to humble himself, to become counsellor to Joseph, and renounce his purpose of removing his family to the East; declared that if Robert D. Foster "will obey my voice" he must "build a house for my servant Joseph according to the contract which he has made with him "a neat stroke of diplomacy on the part of Smith that probably saved him the expense of a lawsuit; and proceeded to the appointment of a large company of apostles, high. priests, and missionaries. In this wholesale apportionment of honors Brigham Young was made President of the Twelve Apostles, in place of Thomas B. Marsh, who had renounced Mormonism and become one of its bitterest foes.
That portion of the "Book of Doctrines and Covenants" of the Mormon Church which belongs to Nauvoo, contains but a few recorded revelations that can be traced with certainty to Smith. In March of the year last named he uttered one which ordered the Saints in Iowa to build a city upon the river bank across from Nauvoo to be christened "Zarahemla." In July one was published which declared that Brigham Young need travel abroad no more, that he had well earned a rest, and should henceforth "stay at home and take care of his family." One more, and only one, of these unique utterances will we quote -- that delivered a short period before his death, in which he gave the following formula for distinguishing
a good angel from a bad: "'When. a messenger comes, saying he has a message from God, offer him your. hand, and request him to shake hands with you. If he be an angel, he will do so, and you will feel his hand.. If it be ..the Devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands, he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything: You May therefore detect him."
As has been remarked in an earlier portion of this work, Smith was a natural adept in politics, and now that he had control of the votes of at least three thousand men * he was not slow to turn that power to the use of the church and himself. Even in 1840 his influence had reached a point where he could not be safely ignored by the political parties in any event, and certainly not in a close election. An illustration of that point is clearly given in Nicolay and Hay's "Life of Lincoln," where we find this statement: "In the same letter (to Congressman Stuart, in March, 1840) Mr. Lincoln gives a long list of names to which he wants documents to be sent. It shows a remarkable personal acquaintance with. the minutest needs of the canvass: This one is a doubtful Whig; that one is an inquiring Democrat; that other a zealous young fellow who would be pleased by the attention; three brothers are mentioned who I fell out with us about Early and are doubtful now'; and finally he tells Stuart that Joe Smith is an admirer of his, and that a few documents had better be mailed to the Mormons."
The Mormon. power in the local elections of Hancock
* At one election in Nauvoo only six votes were cast In opposition to Smith's wishes,
County was absolute, and the Congressional district of which Nauvoo was a part may well be placed in the same category. By the coming election it might be left to Smith to give the final vote in the choice of a Governor of the State. The influence which he would thus wielding well described by J. H. Beadle, in his admirable work: *
"For the first time since its organization, the Whig party had a fair prospect of carrying the State and the nation, but Illinois was doubtful. If Henry Clay should again be the nominee of the Whigs, Kentucky, Louisiana, and other Southern States were considered certain for that party, and in certain very probable contingencies, Illinois would turn the scale one way or the other. It was quite certain the Mormons would, by 1844, give the casting vote in Illinois, and Joe Smith had perfect control of the Mormon vote.... The Harrison campaign of 1840 was in full tide, and the politicians gathered thick around Joe Smith."
The Mormon leader shrewdly made sure of his reward before committal to either side. After secret consultations with prominent party leaders, and a conference with his advisers at Nauvoo, he was delivered of a revelation directing that the church should support the Whig ticket, which Was elected. In payment for this service the Whigs in the Illinois Legislature made haste to grant the Mormons a special charter for their new city, 'in which were conveyed powers to an almost unlimited extent. The Mormons dictated the provisions of that remarkable document, and at a church conference, Smith, Doctor J. C.
* "Life in Utah." By J. H. Beadle, Philadelphia, 1870, p. 68.
Bennett, and R. B. Thompson were directed to prepare a charter which should fulfill their purposes, and place the whole city government absolutely in Mormon control. They did so, and Bennett was deputized to proceed to Springfield, and see it safely through the Legislature. He found his task one of uncommon ease, neither Democrat nor Whig caring to oppose his desire, lest the Mormon vote should be driven over to the other side to permanently remain. When the desired charter was reported to the Assembly by the judiciary committee which had it in charge, with a recommendation for its passage, the party leaders crowded upon each other in their haste to vote in the affirmative. Not a dissenting vote was cast; and in that one act the Legislature of Illinois did more to foster a spirit of ambition and arrogance on the part of the Mormon leaders, and to hasten and intensify the bitter quarrels already upon their way, than was ever done by any act of Joseph Smith, or the bloodiest outrage by any Mormon or Missourian in the dark days of Independence and Far West. The politician saw only the small advantage of the day, and gave no thought of the evil seed he was sowing, to be garnered in the blood and disorder of the future.
The charter for Nauvoo was passed on December 16, 1840. It conferred almost unlimited powers, the language employed being as follows: "The City Council shall have power and authority to make, ordain, establish, and execute, all such ordinances, not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States or of this State, as they may deem necessary for the peace, benefit, good order, regulation, convenience,
and cleanliness of said city." So wide was this grant of power, that the Mormons, at one time, felt justified in the claim that under it they could pass laws in opposition to those of Illinois! The officials allowed were a mayor, a vice-mayor, four aldermen, and nine councillors. A municipal court was organized, with the mayor as chief-justice, and four aldermen as his associates. This strangely-constituted and highly centralized judicial body could not only issue writs of habeas corpus, but could try the sufficiency of those issued by other courts, and even go on and try the original cause of action -- an arrangement by which Smith and his followers more than once profited.
The Mormons were not slow to make use of this plenitude of power, and eventually went so far as to establish a recorder's office at Nauvoo, in which alone could transfers of land be recorded; and also an office for the issuing of marriage licenses a direct ignoring of the rights and perquisites of the county in which Nauvoo was situated, The municipal council at one time proceeded so far along the line of audacity as to petition Congress to set the city aside as a territory until Missouri should make good the losses she had caused the Mormons to suffer; and that the mayor of the city be given the power to call in and use the United States troops whenever he should feel the need of protection for himself or his followers.
Governor Ford refers to that remarkable document in the following words: *
"The powers conferred were expressed in language at once ambiguous and undefined, as if on purpose to
* "History of Illinois," p. 265.
allow of misconstruction. The great law of the separation of the powers of government was wholly disregarded. The mayor was at once the executive power, the judiciary, and part of the Legislature. The common council, in passing ordinances, were restrained only by the Constitution. One. would have thought that these charters (the city, the Legion, and the Nauvoo house) stood a poor chance of passing the legislature of a republican people, jealous of their liberties. Nevertheless, they did pass unanimously through both houses. Messrs. Little and Douglas managed with great dexterity with their respective parties. Each party was afraid to object to them, for fear of losing the Mormon vote, and each believed that it had secured their favor.
"A city government under the charter was organized in 1841, and Joe Smith was elected mayor. * In this capacity he presided in the common council, and assisted in making the laws for the government of the city, and as mayor, also, he was to see these laws put into force. He was ex officio judge of the mayor's court, and chief-justice of the municipal court, and in these capacities he was to interpret the laws which he had assisted to make. The Nauvoo Legion was also organized, with a great multitude of high officers. It was divided into divisions,
* From this, the conclusion would be reached that Smith was elected first mayor of Nauvoo, which was not the case. The charter was passed in December, 1840, and on February 1, 1841, John C. Bennett was elected to that office, and received a commission as justice of the peace from Governor Carlin, in which was the following reference to that fact: "Know ye, that John C. Bennett, having been duly elected to the office of mayor of the city of Nauvoo, in the county of Hancock, I, Thomas Carlin," etc., as above related.
brigades, cohorts, regiments, battalions, and companies. Each division, brigade, and cohort had its general, and over the whole, as commander-in-chief, Joe Smith was appointed lieutenant-general.... Thus, if was proposed to reestablish for the Mormons a government within a government; a legislature, with power to pass ordinances at war with the laws of the State; courts to execute them, with but little dependence upon the constitutional judiciary; and a military force at their own command, to be governed by its own laws and ordinances, and subject to no State authority but that of the Governor."
AT THE HIGH-TIDE OF POWER.
The city government of Nauvoo was promptly organized, and among the chosen officials we find many leaders in the old Kirtland days. John C. Bennett, * an Ohio physician, who had removed to Illinois, became quartermaster-general of the State; and then joined the Mormons, and was elected mayor, with Joseph Smith in the position of vice-mayor.
* This remarkable person seems to have captivated the Mormons by his ability and address, and was rapidly advanced from one position of authority to another. In the same month that saw his elevation to the chief municipal office of the city, he was made major-general of the Nauvoo Legion, second only in command to Smith was soon afterward elected chancellor of the Nauvoo University and during the illness of Sidney Rigdon became a temporary member of the First Presidency. He also held the office of Master in Chancery for Hancock County, under personal appointment from no less a person than judge Stephen A. Douglas. He afterward forsook the church, declaring that he had only joined it for the purpose of discovering its secrets, and exposing them, and became one of Smith's most determined and outspoken enemies. Governor Ford's opinion of the first mayor of Nauvoo is expressed with considerable frankness: "This Bennett was probably the greatest scamp in the Western country. I have made particular inquiries concerning him, and have traced him in several places, in which he has lived before he had joined the Mormons -- in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois -- and he was everywhere accounted the same debauched, unprincipled, and profligate character. He was a man of some little talent, and had the confidence of the Mormons, and particularly that of their leaders." -- "History of Illinois," p. 263.
In addition to the charter for the city, the Legislature also granted one for the formation of the Nauvoo Legion; another for the incorporation of the Nauvoo Agricultural and Manufacturing Association with a capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars -- its object being the promotion of agriculture and the manufacture of flour, lumber, etc.; and still another for the building of the Nauvoo House, with a capital stock of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
The city government was soon busy with, matters of internal policy, and no lack of energy was displayed in meeting all questions as they arose, and disposing of them in accordance with what seemed to be for the best interests of the city and the church. Among the first measures acted upon was the creation of the University of Nauvoo, in which the children of the Saints were to be given an education that should ground them well in the Mormon faith. Another of the early steps taken was the passage of an ordinance to prevent the sale of whiskey in amounts less than one gallon, or of other spirits less than one quart -- a step considered in those days as a long advance toward prohibition of the liquor traffic.
The Nauvoo Legion, to which incidental reference has been already made, occupied an unique position, forming upon one hand a part of the general militia of the State, and serving upon the other as a military police force under the direct control of the municipal officers of Nauvoo -- in other words, the church. The formation of the Legion in the manner described was a part of the ill-advised and unseemly bid for Mormon support made by the politicians of Illinois,
and proved no small factor in arousing the fear and jealousy with which the Gentile portion of Hancock County had already come to regard their neighbors at Nauvoo. These troops were under control of no State officer except the Governor himself, which in fact took it out of the militia except in name. The courts martial of the Legion were to be formed altogether of its own officers. It was composed of divisions, brigades, and regiments, and was in fact a Mormon army concealed in the guise of State troops, and yet so illy hidden that the enemies of the church could well persuade their hearers that it was a perpetual insult and menace to the people and boded no good for the peace and prosperity of Illinois. The stories of intended Mormon aggressions were revived, and the Legion with its showy uniform, good equipment, and boastful parades, was cited as proof of the darkest and deepest plots to which imagination could give creation.
Suggestions of this character found their way into public print, and gained general belief. An "officer of the United States army" * who claimed to have visited Nauvoo in its palmy days thus describes a parade of the Legion, which he witnessed:
"Yesterday was a great day among the Mormons. Their Legion, to the number of two thousand men, was paraded by General's Smith, Bennett, and others,
* This letter was published in the New York Herald, under date of City of Nauvoo, Illinois, May 8, 1842," and was signed "An Officer of the U. S. Artillery." As it was largely devoted to the praise of "Major General Bennett," and the service he was doing the Mormons by abiding with them, I suspect the pen of none other than Bennett himself. It is given in full (on page 155) in Bennett's anti-Mormon book, referred to hereafter.
and certainly made a very noble and imposing appearance. The evolutions of the troops directed by Major-General Bennett would do honor to any body of armed militia in any of the States, and approximates very closely to our regular forces. What does all this mean ? Why this exact discipline of the Mormon Corps? Do they intend to conquer Missouri, Illinois, Mexico ? It is true they are a part of the militia of the State of Illinois by the charter of their Legion; but then there are no troops in the States like them in point of enthusiasm and warlike aspect, yea, war-like character…. They have appointed Captain Bennett, late of the Arm of the United States, Inspector-General of their Legion, and he is commissioned as such by Governor Carlin. This gentleman is known to be well skilled in fortification, gunnery, ordnance, castramentation, and military engineering generally, and I am assured that he is now under pay derived from the tithings of this warlike people. I have seen his plans for fortifying Nauvoo, which are equal to any of Vauban's."
That the Mormon leaders had some purpose of their own in all this preparation, or at least desired their followers to believe they had, is vouched for on eminent Mormon authority. Bishop John D. Lee, * who was executed in Utah on March 23, 1877, for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, wrote a history of his life while in jail, in which he says: "At the conference in April, 1840, the Prophet delivered a lengthy address upon the history and condition of the Saints. a 0 a 0 1 When the right time comes, we will go in force and take the whole State of Missouri. It belongs
* "Mormonism Unveiled." By John D. Lee, p. 110.
to us as our inheritance…. The people were regularly drilled and taught military tactics, so that they would be ready to act when the time came for returning to Jackson County, the promised land of our inheritance."
The year 1841 was one of hard labor blessed with abundant prosperity for the church, and all its plans and undertakings seemed to thrive. The command for the erection of a temple had been cheerfully received, and the work almost immediately entered upon. The corner-stone of this imposing and ambitious structure was laid on April 6, 1841, the eleventh anniversary of the founding of the Mormon Church, amid a pomp and show of power that was in striking contrast to the crude and impromptu ceremonies at the first temple in Zion, or even the more elaborate services in Kirtland and Far West in later years. The means and men at Smith's command, with all their wonderful increase, had not grown more rapidly than his ambition, or his desire to occupy a large place in the public view. The occasion was one of pride to the proud, and of thankfulness to those who accepted the prosperity of the day as a gift from God to His chosen church. The preparations had been carefully made, and no untoward or ill-omened event occurred to mar the joy and happiness that had taken possession of all Nauvoo.
At an early hour of the beautiful spring morning, the Legion, to the number of fourteen companies, in the full strength and panoply of war, was drawn up in line, and word conveyed to its General that it, awaited his commands. Escorted by an elegantly arrayed and mounted staff, Smith galloped along the
crowded streets, where uncovered thousands stood ready to receive him with cheers. It was naturally a moment of pride to the well-digger's son; and those who had seen him in the early days of poverty and contempt, could indeed feel that he had been wonderfully prospered, whether by an especial providence of God, or the happy evolution Of circumstances. Met by a martial band, and saluted by the thunder of cannon, he moved rapidly to the grand-stand that had been erected for his special use.
When he reached it, the first event upon the well-arranged programme was introduced. A number of ladies drove up in carriages and presented the Legion, through its General, with a stand of colors. Joseph responded in a speech characteristic of the occasion and himself, and then handed the flag to General Bennett, with the usual suggestions as to the uses to which it should be put, and the care with which it should be guarded. The band again filled the air ' with music, the guns added their deep bass, and the Legion proudly marched before Smith in review.
A procession was formed, and a line of march taken to the site of the temple, the foundation walls of which had been already laid. The singing of hymns, an hour's sermon from Rigdon, and dedication and prayer by the Prophet, were the main features of the occasion. The first of the corner-stones laid in place, that at the southeast, was blessed by Smith, who represented the first presidency; the president of the high-priests laid that at the southwest; the high council that at the northwest; and the bishops that at the northeast. *
* From Times and Seasons, vol. ii., p. 380: "However anxious we are to portray the grandeur and majesty of the celebrations, the
The site of the temple was on a hill that commanded a view of the Mississippi on one hand, and the rolling country on the other. It was a location of rare natural beauty, and calculated to call attention to the consecrated structure as the traveller should come to Nauvoo either by boat or overland. Its material was a polished white limestone, nearly as hard as marble. It was calculated that its cost, when completed, would be in the neighborhood of one million dollars. The manner in which it was viewed by Mormon eyes can be learned from the following, penned by W. W. Phelps, * when it was well under course of erection:
"The temple is up as high as the caps of the pilasters, and it looks majestic…. This splendid model of Mormon grandeur exhibits thirty hewn-stone
union and order which every way prevailed, we are confident we shall come very far short of doing them justice. For some days prior to the sixth. the accession of strangers to our city was great, and on the wide-spread prairie, which bounds our city, might be seen various kinds of vehicles wending their way from different points of the compass to the city of Nauvoo, while the ferry-boats on the Mississippi were constantly employed in wafting travellers across its rolling and extensive bosom.... At length the long- expected morn arrived, and before the king of day had tipped the eastern horizon with his rays, were preparations for the celebration of the day going on.... The assembly then separated with cheerful hearts, and thanking God for the great blessings of peace and prosperity by which they were surrounded, and hearts burning with affection for their favorite and adopted State. It was indeed a gladsome sight. and extremely affecting, to see the old revolutionary patriots who bad been driven from their homes in Missouri, strike hands and rejoice together, in a land where they knew they would be protected from mobs, and where they could again enjoy the liberty for which they had fought many a hard battle."
* "Times and Seasons," p. 759.
pilasters, which cost about three thousand dollars apiece. The base is a crescent new moon; the capitals, near fifty feet high; the sun, with a human face in bold relief, about two and a half feet broad, ornamented with rays of light and waves, surmounted by two hands holding two trumpets. The inside work is now going forward as fast as possible…. The temple is erected from white limestone, wrought in superior style; is one hundred and twenty-eight feet by eighty-three feet square; near sixty feet high; two stories in the clear, and two half-stories in the recesses over the arches; four tiers of windows, two gothic and two round. The two great stories will each have two pulpits, one at each end, to accommodate the Melchizedek and Aaronic priest. hoods.... The fount in the basement story is for the baptism of the living, for health, for remission of sin, and for the salvation of the dead, as was the case in Solomon's temple, and all temples that God commands to be built.... The steeple of our temple will be high enough to answer for a tower between one hundred and two hundred feet high. But I have said enough about the temple; when finished it will show more wealth, more art, more science, more revelation, more splendor, and more God than all the rest of the world." The same
* Fate did not deal kindly with this great and costly structure. On the 19th of November, 1848, it was seriously injured by fire; and when, in 1850, it was about to be rebuilt and used for school purposes by the colony of Icarians, into whose possession it had passed, a severe tornado completed the work of the flames, and left it little more than a heap of ruins. "There now remains," says the Hancock Patriot, in May, 1880, "nothing of the gigantic
writer describes the other public buildings at Nauvoo, at that time, as the Seventies Hall, the Masonic Hall, and Concert Hall, "all spacious, and well calculated for their designated purposes."
The Joseph Smith of Kirtland was also the Joseph Smith of Nauvoo, and the returning prosperity of the church was reflected in his bearing and the means by which he made his own shoulders bear as few of the burdens of life as the circumstances surrounding him would allow. If we can safely accept the testimony of one, he "revelled in luxury, played the gentleman and the Saint, hospitably entertained his friends, and became exceedingly popular in the church and outside world." An intelligent Englishman who paid a visit to Nauvoo, and not only heard Smith preach, but conversed with him in private, describes him as "a person of rude manners, fond of low jocularity, but sharp, and of great power in the pulpit."
In conversation, at the Prophet's house, the visitor asked which of the Trinity had appeared to him, on the occasion of the first revelation.
"It was the Father," was the response, "with the Son on His right hand, and He said, 'I am the Father, and this being on my right hand is my Son, Jesus Christ."'
"There was nothing in his appearance," wrote the visitor, in description of Smith, 'to indicate any aberration of intellect, or that he gave himself to any
work of the Mormons, except the west face, strongly united by its sides to another wall in the interior part and surmounted by an arch; between the two walls at the north and south are the two towers, or seat, of the staircases,"
great degree of mental abstraction. My conclusion was that he was an impostor."
As at Kirtland, Smith was still a part of every. thing, and nothing could be done without his knowledge, if not with his consent. "It was the policy of Joseph Smith," says John D. Lee, who was a resident of Nauvoo at the time, * "to hold the city lots in Nauvoo at a high price, so as to draw money from the rich, but not so high as to prevent the poor from obtaining homes. The poor who lost all their property in following the church were presented with a lot free, in the centre of the city.... All classes, Jews and Gentiles, were allowed to settle there -- one man’s money was as good as another's."
He pursued such a policy that none in the city might purchase real estate to sell again but himself; permitted no one but himself to have a license for the sale of spirituous liquors;, and in many ways undertook to regulate and control the business of the Mormons.
The growth of the city and church was largely accelerated by the addition of converts from the old-world. The Mormon creed had been first preached in England in 1837, by missionaries under the direction of Orson Hyde and Heber C. Kimball. In 1840 the first company of emigrants, to the number of forty, left Liverpool under direction of Brigham Young, then president of the English mission. On September 7th of the same year another vessel, with two hundred converts on board, left the same place, and the whole company were eventually safely added to
* "Momonism Unveiled," p. 109.
the Mormon flock in Nauvoo. In explanation of one reason by which Mormonism grew so rapidly in the early days, it may be noted that the accessions from foreign lands alone reached a total of thirty thousand eight hundred and fifty-four by 1859; the years 1840 to 1844, adding them as follows: 1840 -- 240; 1841 -- 1,135; 1842 -- 1,614; 1843 - 769. By 1843 the sect in England alone had reached ten thousand.
The prosperity of the Mormon city naturally attracted the attention of the old enemies across the river, and led to constant threatenings and new endeavors for the revival of old grudges, and the setting in motion of legal charges already made. The initiative in this putting of words into acts occurred in the fall of 1841, when the Governor of Missouri made formal requisition upon the Governor of Illinois for the arrest and surrender of Smith, who had never been tried upon the indictments recited heretofore. The first part of the demand was complied with. The Prophet was taken into custody without resistance, but steps were immediately taken to prevent his transfer to the dangerous soil of Missouri. Application was made to the home courts for a writ of habeas corpus, which was promptly granted, and Smith was soon released and returned to his friends by Stephen A. Douglas, who then occupied a seat upon the bench. Other attempts of like character were made from time to time, but as none of them resulted in conviction or even trial, no reference to them is needed, except as showing the spirit of deep hostility and permanent enmity that was increasing with each passing day, between the Mormons and the unbelieving world about them.
In the early days of May, i 842, General Bennett resigned his office of mayor, and Smith was promptly elected to the place, Hyrum Smith becoming vice-mayor. The Prophet may be regarded at this point as having reached the culmination of his career, and gained a plenitude of power far beyond his wildest dreams. The spiritual and temporal head of a church numbered by tens of thousands, and established in almost every State in America, as well as in portions of Europe; the chief municipal and judicial officer of a great city in which his wish was the law; General of an army obedient to his slightest word and sworn to do his bidding; chief editor of the Times and Seasons, the organ of the Mormon Church; absolute dictator of the movements and almost of the thoughts of those who constituted the membership of his church; with a fame known from one end of the land to the other; with hundreds of missionaries everywhere preaching him as the favored of the Most High; and sought eagerly by the leaders of the two great political parties, who flattered and praised him that they might win his support -- is there wonder that his judgment should at times be led astray, and that he should hope for even greater things in the years to come?
The closing portion of 1841 and the early months of 1842 may be regarded as the high-tide of Mormon prosperity in Illinois, and as the season of peaceful sunshine that preceded the storm.
After John C. Bennett retired from his office and withdrew from the church, there grew up a deep bitterness and hatred between Smith and himself. Whatever its cause, and how much of unfairness or
wrong may have been done upon either hand, the results were of a damaging and dangerous character to the church, and the feud had much to do with what afterward occurred. There was outward peace upon his departure, and the church and its organ spoke fair words concerning him; * which were recalled and replaced with the most bitter denunciation when it was known that his purpose was to wage war upon Mormonism in all possible ways, at all times and in a
* Extract from a revelation given Joseph Smith, Jr., on January 19, 1841: "Again, let my servant, John C. Bennett, help you in your labor, in sending my word to the kings and people of the earth, and stand by you, even you, my servant, Joseph Smith, in the hour of affliction, and his reward shall not fail if he receive counsel; and for his love, he shall be great; for he shall be mine if he does this, saith the Lord. I have seen the work he hath done, which I accept, if he continue; and I will crown him with blessings and great glory." -- Times and Seasons, vol. ii., p. 425. And again: "General Bennett's character as a gentleman, an officer, a scholar, and physician, stands too high to need defending by US." -- Times and Seasons, vol. ii., p. 431. When Bennett prepared to withdraw from the Mormon Church, he was given the subjoined documents:
"MAY 17, 1842.
BROTHER JAMES SLOAN: You will be so good as to permit General Bennett to withdraw his name from the church record, if he desire to do so, and this with the best of feeling's towards you and General Bennett.
"In accordance with the above I have permitted General Bennett to withdraw his membership from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, this 17th day of May, 1842; the best of feelings subsisting between all parties.
"General Church Clerk and Recorder."
When Bennett made war upon the church, this certificate was replaced by a bull of excommunication, and a severe attack upon his character record, and motives.
places. His attacks were open and direct. He found ready entrance to the leading journals of the land, and for a time the Mormon Church filled a large share of public attention. He charged treason and treasonable purposes upon the Mormon leaders, made grave attacks upon the personal character of Smith and those directly associated with him, and cited so much of fact in his denunciation as to lead an excited and hostile community to accept his whole story as the truth. His charges were taken up and repeated in all corners of Missouri and Illinois, gaining in power and coloring as they went, until many honest and intelligent men began to believe that. Nauvoo was a second Sodom, and a foul spot that it would be patriotism to blot out.
Not content with his letters and interviews in the public press, Bennett published a book, * in which all his charges were repeated, with much from Howe and other anti-Mormon writers of the day. The mood in which these exposures were received by the public can be judged somewhat from the following, -- which appeared editorially in the New York Sun of August 5, 1842:
"We watch the further movements of the Mormon expounded, and the anti-Mormon expounder, with
* "The History of the Saints; or, An Expose of Joe Smith, and Mormonism." By John C. Bennett; Leland & Whiting, Boston, 1842. This work is one of the curiosities of anti-Mormon literature. It contains full-page portraits of Generals Smith and Bennett in uniform, And is made up of a vast amount of documents and other material "pitchforked" together in the most amazing confusions condition of things explained by its author in the declaration, "I have been more solicitous about the matter than the manner of it."
some degree of anxiety; as affording a thorough explanation to the philosophy of fanaticism, whose victims we so frequently find recorded in the history of civilization…. The rule of our male Cassandra, our modern Jacob -- a combined Prophet and Patriarch -- could not last forever. He has degenerated from the religious moralist and priest into the lowest grades of chicanery and vice; he stands before us a swindler of his community, an impious dictator over free will. and now in his most glaring and even hideous aspect -- a libertine, unequalled in private life -- a Giovanni of some dozens of mistresses, and these acquired under the garb of prophetic zeal…. The state of these revelations, although not contained in the Book of Mormon, or viewed by the divine inspiration of Joe's stone spectacles, will soon assume the settled principles of truth, and must bear conviction to the misled and ill-treated sect."
The Louisville Journal, then under editorial control of George D. Prentice, in its issue of July 23, 1842, voiced the general feeling of the West in the following words: "This exposition, as far as we have read it, is one of the most startling things of the kind we ever saw. Moreover, it is deeply interesting to the public. Joe Smith is generally regarded as a mere miserable fanatic; but although he may be a fanatic, he is something more; he is the Prophet and the commander-in-chief of thirty thousand Mormons, all of whom regard him as a leader sent from heaven, and look upon his commands as emanating from the Most High. Backed by his multitudinous and deluded hosts, he already attempts to control the politics of Illinois, and defies both the civil and military
authorities of that State to call him to account for anything that he has done or may do."
The storm had so increased in volume and power, and the threats of legal prosecution on the part of Missouri had grown so loud, that in September the Prophet found it convenient to hide himself for a time, doubtless proceeding to some small Mormon settlement where he knew there was no danger. of betrayal. From this covert he issued several addresses to his people, of which the following may be taken as a characteristic sample: "Forasmuch as the Lord has revealed unto me that my enemies, both in Missouri and this State, were again in the pursuit of me; inasmuch as they pursue me without a cause, and have not the least shadow or coloring of justice or right on their side, in the getting up of their prosecutions against me -- and inasmuch as their pretensions are all founded in falsehood of the blackest dye, I have thought it expedient and wisdom in me to leave the place for a short season, for my own safety and the safety of this people. I would say to all those with whom I have business that I have left my affairs with agents and clerks who will transact all business in a prompt and proper manner, and will see that all my debts are cancelled -- in due time, by turning out property, or otherwise, as the case may require, or as the circumstances may admit of. When I learn that the storm is fully blown over, then I will return to you again."
Following the above were minute directions as to how the records should be kept of those who might desire baptism for the salvation of their unbelieving dead. He was very explicit in these instructions, as
the books thus kept at Nauvoo would be opened on the judgment day, and a clerical error might be of serious moment to some poor soul whose passage had been paid into the Kingdom.
In May, 1845, there occurred an incident that was unfortunate for the Mormons, whether they were connected with it or not.
As Governor L. W. Boggs, of Missouri, was sitting by his window he was shot at, and very narrowly escaped instant death. The attempted crime was immediately fastened upon O. P. Rockwell, a well-known Mormon, and Smith charged with being the promoter of the deed -- a charge in support of which some very strong and pertinent evidence has been produced. The two were promptly indicted in the Missouri courts, and a requisition for their arrest and conveyance to Missouri obtained. When the papers were served there was an instant resort to habeas corpus. The writ was granted, and then tried by the municipal court of Nauvoo. Of course the prisoners were discharged. It is needless to say that the shooting and the bold act of the Nauvoo court added so much fuel to the already increasing flame.
An attempt had been made after Smith's return to the Mormons at Quincy to enlist the national government in their behalf, that they might receive re. dress for their losses in Missouri. At a church conference Rigdon and others were commissioned to go to Washington, and lay their complaints before the President. During the summer of the same year Smith himself made a like journey, and was allowed to personally lay his case before Van Buren. He received no encouragement from that source, and none from
Congress, the reply in each case being that as Missouri was a sovereign State the matter of her obligations to her citizens was no question for the consideration of the general government. Not yet rebuffed, the Mormons gravely made out a bill of one and a third million dollars, which was sent to Washington as a claim for indemnification, but no response was received and the matter was allowed to drop. This journey East, contact with the life of the capital and the suggestions it contained, and above all, the free and frequent proofs of political power he had given through his control of the solid Mormon vote, had directed Smith's ambition into a new channel, and caused him to make one of the greatest mistakes of his 'life. He was gravely announced in 1844 by the newspaper organ of the church, as a candidate for President of the United States.
No one can for a moment suppose that he had any serious hope or expectation of an election, and the small gain to his personal vanity which was the only recompense he could secure by this movement, was nothing when compared with the ridicule brought upon the church and himself, and the weapon placed in the hands of those who were preaching the dangers that must flow from any further satisfaction of the Prophet's ambition. The announcement of his candidacy was made in the Times and Seasons, in the following language: "This question arises, whom shall the Mormons support? -- General Joseph Smith, a man of sterling worth and integrity, and of enlarged views; a man who has raised himself from the humblest walks of life to stand at the head of a large, intelligent, respectable, and increasing society,
that has spread, not only in this land, but in distant nations; a man whose talents and genius are of an exalted nature, and whose experience has rendered him every way adequate to the onerous duty. Honorable, fearless, and energetic, he would administer justice with an impartial hand, and magnify and dignify the office of chief magistrate of this land."
The article from which the above has been extracted, refers, with some sarcastic bitterness of spirit, to the various charges against the Mormons, long since floating through the country:
"Gentlemen, we are not going either to I murder ex-Governor Boggs, nor a Mormon in this State, "for not giving us his money'; nor are we going to 'walk on the water'; nor 'drown a woman'; nor I defraud the poor of their property'; nor I send destroying angels after General Bennett to kill him; nor marry spiritual wives'; nor commit any other outrageous act this election, to help any party with; you must get some other person to perform these kind offices for you in the future. We withdraw."
Smith entered upon his campaign with his usual earnestness and audacity. He ordered his missionaries and ministers all over the country to advocate his claims. On February 7th he issued an address, entitled 'Views of the powers and policy of the Government of the United States," which opens with this remarkable piece of bombast: "Born in a land of liberty, and breathing an air uncorrupted with the sirocco of barbarous climes, I ever feel a double anxiety for the happiness of all men, both in time and in eternity."
In that document he opposed slavery; also imprisonment
for minor offences, so long as "the duellist, the debaucher, and the defaulter for millions, and other criminals, take the uppermost rooms at feasts, or, like the bird of passage, find a more congenial clime by flight." He declared it to be the duty of public officers to "ameliorate the condition of all"; quoted from the inaugural addresses of nearly all the Presidents; and made use of quotations in a half-dozen languages, to show the depth of his learning. He ended the jumble -- for no other word describes it with the following curious mixture of politics and religion:
"When the people petitioned for a national bank, I would use my best endeavors to have their prayers answered, and establish one on national principles, to save taxes, and make them the controllers of its ways and means; and when the people petitioned to possess the territory of Oregon or any other contiguous territory, I would lend the influence of a chief magistrate to grant so reasonable a request, that they might extend the mighty efforts and enterprise of a free people from the east to the west sea, and make the wilderness blossom as the rose; and when a neigh boring realm petitioned to join the Union of the sons of liberty, my voice would be, 'Come!' yea, come Texas, come Mexico, come Canada; and come all the world; let us be brethren, let us be one great family, and let there be a universal peace. Abolish the cruel custom of prisons (except certain cases), penitentiaries, courts martial for desertion; and let reason and friendship reign over the ruins of ignorance and barbarity; yea, I would, as the universal friend of man,
open the prisons, open the eyes, open the ears, and open the hearts of all people to behold and enjoy freedom, unadulterated freedom; and God, who once cleansed the violence of the earth with a flood, whose Son laid down His life for the salvation of all His Father gave Him out of the world, and who has promised that He will come and purify the world again with fire in the last days, should be supplicated by me for the good of all people. With the highest esteem, I am a friend of virtue, and of the people,
The address was printed in the leading newspapers of the land, and the comments upon it, while various, ran in a vein of good-natured ridicule, with occasional serious declarations that Mormonism was becoming a menace to the people. Other movements on the part of Smith gave new ground for the feeling of alarm among his immediate neighbors. He asked Congress for authority to raise one hundred thousand volunteer troops for the ostensible purpose of protecting American citizens on their way to Texas, Oregon, and other frontier points; and even went so far as to ask for the rank of General in the United States army. People remembered Aaron Burr, and asked each other where the ambition of the Mormon Prophet would end. Meanwhile, he was none the less bold in his claims of heavenly favor, and we hear him in the conference of that year (1844) declaring that "The Great Jehovah has always been with me, and the wisdom of God will guide me at the seventh hour. I feel that I am in more immediate communion with God, and on a better footing with Him than
I have ever been in my life; and I am happy to appear among you under these circumstances."
Another needless act of folly on the part of Smith at this critical juncture was his correspondence with Henry Clay, and the impudent and unseemly manner in which he addressed that eminent and venerable man. In November, 1843, he had addressed a letter to the Kentucky statesman, the purport of which was contained in this question, "What (if elected) will be your rule relative to us (the Mormons) as a people?"
Mr. Clay immediately responded in the only strain proper or even possible to one in his position as the chosen candidate of a great party. In a letter full of courtesy, he declared that, while he could make no pledges, he felt that the Mormons in common with all other religious communities, "ought to enjoy the security and the protection of the courts and the laws."
This response did not guarantee such consideration, nor contain such flattering reference to his power as Smith desired, and after waiting six months, on May 13, 1844, he addressed another letter to Mr. Clay, which no gentleman could have written, and that was insolent, coarse, and too worthless for quotation. The tenor of the whole production may be guessed from a brief extract, in which he declares Mr. Clay It a blackleg * in politics, begging for a chance to shuffle yourself into the Presidential Chair, where you might deal out the destinies of our beloved land for a game of brag." To this tirade Mr. Clay, it is needless to say, made no reply, .
* The language of the gambler so plentifully used in the above was an added insult to Mr. Clay, and doubtless intended as such.
The joy of the Mormons over Smith's method of conducting his presidential campaign was such that on May 17th they gave him a formal ovation, and finally in the excess of their enthusiasm he was lifted upon the shoulders of sturdy men, and carried bodily through the streets. One month later all that was left of the man, his follies, his ambitions, and his claims of spiritual power, was likewise borne aloft through the streets of Nauvoo, amid the sound of weeping, and with funeral plumes stirring the silent air about his murdered form.
DOWNFALL AND DEATH.
That the Mormon Church could long hold peaceable possession of the land it had purchased and the city it had built on the eastern bank of the Mississippi, had become impossible at this stage of events, and the only question to which it could with profit address itself, was whether it had defense against the storm that darkened about its horizon. The enemies who bad so fruitfully multiplied in recent days had a purpose that stopped only at expulsion or extinction, and in their ranks were many who had abandoned the church and were anxious to advance all possible measures of revenge. John C. Bennett did not stand alone in his denunciations and exposures. By his side were William Law, once councilor to Smith; Wilson Law, an ex-general of the Nauvoo Legion; Dr. R. D. Foster, a man of wealth; Francis and Chauncey Higbee, With others of lesser note who had deserted the church for reasons of their own, or been cut off and cast out for causes involved in the carrying out of its policy. This hostile coterie found ready aid among the people of Hancock and Brown Counties for any scheme they might inaugurate against the common enemy at Nauvoo. The selfish policy of the Mormons in throwing their vote in whatever direction the gain of the moment suggested, had produced its natural result, and both Democrat and
Whig had come to look upon them as uncertain al lies and unscrupulous enemies; while many who had been their outspoken friends two years before had come to regard them with suspicious fear, if not yet with open and avowed hostility. The orthodox churches of Illinois stood in solid phalanx against the new doctrine that had won such marvelous advance in a decade; while the moral sense of the community was shocked by the stories long since afloat of gross immoralities on the part of the Mormon leaders. * In short, Nauvoo, in these spring days of 1844, rested upon a powder-magazine that might at any hour explode and send it and the church into a ruin beyond repair.
The support made secure by these allied forces gave new boldness to those in the forefront of attack, and a movement was made in June that of necessity brought affairs to a crisis. Law, Foster, the Higbees, and other apostate Mormons, decided upon the establishment of a newspaper organ in the very stronghold of Mormonism, the avowed purpose of which Was to make war upon the leaders of the church. The Nauvoo Expositor was arranged for,
* See Appendix D.
From "History of Hancock County, Illinois." by Th. Gregg, Chicago, 188o, page 302 In the meantime the seceders were not idle. Law boldly denounced the Prophet from the stand in the city; while the others were busy among the people in and out of the city. The prospectus for the newspaper was circulated extensively, and received with much comment. Its title was to be the Nauvoo Expositor, and its purposes as set forth in the prospectus were the 'Unconditional Repeal of the City Charter. -- To correct the abuses of the Unit Power. -- To advocate Disobedience to Political Revelations, -- in short, to oppose the Prophet Smith, and correct
and its first and last number made its appearance on June 7th.. Its motto was, "The Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth;" and while it boldly attacked Smith and his immediate associates, it yet professed belief in the divine origin and essential truth of the Mormon creed.
This solitary issue was indeed a broadside. In addition to the recapitulation of charges already openly made in the general newspaper press, it contained the affidavits of sixteen women who charged Smith with immoral conduct, or attempts upon their virtue. The sheet was hardly upon the street before Smith and his friends were in motion to welcome it with such vengeance and punishment as his almost absolute power made possible. The City Council was summoned by fleet messengers, and upon its assembling the offending paper was read, and the course to be pursued discussed with such calmness as the feelings of those who had been attacked would permit.
the abuses of which he was claimed to be the cause. The paper was issued under date of June 7th. It had for its editor Sylvester Emmons, and the names of William Law, Wilson Law, Charles Ivins, Francis ff. Higbee, Chauncey L. Higbee, Robert D. Foster, and Charles A. Foster as its publishers. In a literary point of view, it exhibited no decided talent. It had evidently been prepared in hurry and excitement, and with no attempt at artistic arrangement. About half its reading matter was selected. Of its original contents, five or six columns were occupied with a ' Preamble, Resolutions, and Affidavits of the seceders from the Church of Nauvoo; giving reasons for their action, and making charges against Smith and his adherents. A number of editorial articles followed, couched in strong language, but not remarkable for ability or point. The confessed aim and purpose of this sheet were to expose the enormities practiced by the Prophet and his followers at Nauvoo."
It was indeed a dire dilemma in which the church found itself. The continuation of the publication meant open rebellion within the Mormon capital, exposure of much that might otherwise be hidden, unpunished contempt and defiance, and a breaking down of the centralized spiritual authority by which the Prophet held so many diverse and incongruous elements together. Bold measures, on the other hand, meant renewed outcry and added grounds of attack from the increasing bands of enemies about.
A member of that City Council, the Apostle John Taylor, has described the situation as judged from the Mormon point of view: "They felt," he writes, * "that they were in a critical position, and that any move made for the abating of that press would be looked upon, or at least represented, as a direct attack upon the liberty of speech, and that, so far from displeasing our enemies, it would be looked upon by them as one of the best circumstances that could transpire to assist them in their nefarious and bloody designs. Being a member of the City Council, I well remember the feeling of responsibility that seemed to rest upon all present; nor shall I soon forget the bold, manly, independent expressions of Joseph Smith on that occasion in relation to this matter. He exhibited in glowing colors the meanness, corruption, and ultimate designs of the I Anti-Mormons their despicable characters and ungodly influences, especially of those who were in our midst; he told of the responsibility that rested upon us as guardians of the public interest, to stand up in the defense of the injured
* "The City of the Saints." By Richard F. Burton, New York, 1862, p. 520.
and oppressed, to stem the current of corruption, and, as men and Saints, to put a stop to this flagrant outrage upon this people's rights.
He stated that no man was a stronger advocate for the liberty of speech and of the press than himself; yet, when this noble gift is utterly prostituted and abused, as in the present instance, it loses all claim to our respect, and becomes as great an agent for evil as it can possibly be for good; and notwithstanding the apparent advantage we should give our enemies by this act, yet it behooved us, as men, to act Independent of all secondary influences, to perform the part of men of enlarged minds, and boldly and fearlessly to discharge the duties devolving upon us by declaring as a nuisance., and removing this filthy, libellous, and seditious sheet from our midst. The subject was discussed in various forms, and after the remarks made by the mayor every one seemed to be waiting for some one else to speak. After a considerable pause, I arose and expressed my feelings frankly, as Joseph had done, and numbers of others followed in the same strain; and I think, but am not certain, that I made a motion for the removal of that press as a nuisance. This motion was finally put and carried by all but one; and he conceded, that the measure was just, but abstained through fear."
The measure under which action was to be taken, as finally decided upon, was as follows: "Resolved by the City Council of the city of Nauvoo, that the printing-office, from whence issues the Nauvoo Expositor, is a public nuisance; and also all of said Nauvoo Expositors which may be or exist in said establishment; and the mayor is instructed to cause said
printing establishment and papers to be removed without delay, in such manner as he shall direct."
The designated official, in the person of Joseph Smith, lost no time in seeing the council's order carried out. The papers, the presses, and office fixtures of the doomed Expositor were carried into the street, and burned. This result was not attained without opposition on the part of those whose property was being destroyed. "The printing-press and the grocery of Higbee & Foster," writes John D. Lee,* As were declared nuisances, and ordered to be destroyed. The owners refused to comply with the decision of the city council, and the mayor ordered the press and type destroyed, which was done. The owner of the grocery employed John Eagle, a regular bully, and others, to defend it. As the police entered, or attempted to enter, Eagle stood in the door, and knocked three of them down. As the third one fell, the Prophet struck Eagle under the ear, and brought him sprawling to the ground. He then crossed Eagle's hands, and ordered them to be tied, saying that he could not see his men knocked down while in the line of their duty, without protecting them."
This bold attack upon free speech, the liberty of the press, and the rights of private property, was heralded throughout the land, and met by an almost unanimous expression of condemnation from press and people alike. The anti-Mormon newspapers of the immediate section made this action of Smith and his council the basis of repeated and vehement onslaughts
* "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 153.
upon the church, and the feeling of the people was soon at a white heat. Meetings of citizens were called at various points, in which speeches were made and resolutions adopted,* denouncing the outrage of the suppression, in no measured terms. The crisis of Nauvoo had indeed come, and all its powers and resources were to be put to an immediate test,
The owners of the Expositor made prompt appeal to the laws of the State, in the hope that by some chance enough power had been withheld from the city council of Nauvoo under its remarkable charter, to give them redress. On June 11th a writ was issued by a justice of the peace of Carthage, ordering the arrest of several leading Mormons, on the charge of riot and the destruction of property. Among those named were Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the mayor and vice-mayor of Nauvoo, John Taylor, and W. W. Phelps. As soon as the Carthage constable had placed the parties named under arrest, a writ of habeas corpus was sworn out before the municipal council of Nauvoo, and the prisoners taken from the constable's custody and set at liberty.
This final defiance of the laws of the State and its officers could have but one effect. The people of
* The feeling of the people can be judged somewhat from the following, which was adopted at an immense mass-meeting at Warsaw, and afterward indorsed by a similar gathering in Carthage:
"Resolved, That the time, in our opinion, has arrived when the adherents of Smith as a body should be driven from the surrounding settlements into Nauvoo. That the Prophet and his miscreant adherents should then be demanded at their hands, and if not surrendered, a war of extermination should be waged to their entire destruction, if necessary for our protection.
"Resolved, That every citizen arm himself, to be prepared to sustain the resolutions herein contained."
Hancock County, while invoking the aid of the chief Executive of the State on the one hand, determined to act for themselves on the other. Armed bands of men were formed, and an immediate attack upon Nauvoo threatened, Smith realized his danger, and calling the officers and men of the Legion about him, admonished them of their sworn allegiance to the church and himself, and declared that the city would be defended at all hazards.
Compelled by the crisis of affairs to take action of some character, Governor Ford proceeded to Carthage, from whence he sent a message to Smith and the council, asking an explanation of the troubles that had arisen.
Confronted thus by the chief executive authority of the State, and feeling danger in the air all about them, the leading Mormons decided upon a temporary absence from Nauvoo, in order that the tempest might somewhat subside, and a way out of their difficulties present itself. But this decision was soon abandoned, and the conclusion reached that all who were under question of the law, should go to Carthage and meet whatever charges had been lodged against them. *
* If we may accept the testimony of Bishop John D. Lee, Smith actually left the State, and voluntarily came back into danger, "Higbee, Foster, and others.... got out writs for the arrest of Joseph and others, and laid their grievances before the governor. Joseph, knowing the consequences of such a move, concluded to leave for the Rocky Mountains, and lay out a country where the Saints would not be molested. He crossed over into Iowa, with a few faithful friends with him. These friends begged him to return and stand his trial; that the Lord had always delivered him, and would again. He told them that if he returned he would be killed,
At an early hour of the morning, Joseph, Hyrum, and other members of the council, accompanied by a party of devoted friends, set out from Nauvoo on horseback. While en route they were met by an aide de-camp of the Governor, who bore a demand from that official for the immediate surrender of the State arms then' in the hands of the Legion. The whole party returned to the Mormon capital, the demand was complied with, and evening had arrived before Carthage was reached. The small town was filled with militia under the Governor's command, and crowds of excited people whom the stirring scenes of the day had called in from the surrounding country. Those upon whom accusation rested because of participation in the destruction of the Expositor office, appeared before a local magistrate and gave bail in the sum of five hundred dollars each, to appear before the next session of the county court.
The natural expectation of the Mormons that their
but that if he went away he would save his life, and the church would not be hurt; that he would look out a new country for them, that the governor had also advised him to do so. These old grannies then accused him of cowardice, and told him that Christ had said He would never leave His brethren in trouble. He then asked them if Emma (his wife) wished him to return. They answered 'Yes.' He then said it was all light before him, and darkness be. hind him, but he would return, though he felt like a sheep being led to the slaughter. The following day he crossed the river again to Illinois. He kissed his mother in particular, and told her that his time bad come, and that he would seal his testimony with his blood. He advised his brother Hyrum not to go with him -- that he would be a comfort to the churches when he, the Prophet, should be gone. Hyrum said, 'No, my brother, I have been with you in life, and will be with you in death.’" -- "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 154.
voluntary appearance in the stronghold of their foes, and formal submission to the demands of the law, would end in their dismissal to their homes for the present, was rudely dispelled when two men named Spencer and Norton appeared before a justice of the peace and swore out warrants for the arrest of Joseph and Hyrum on the charge of treason against the State -- the alleged offense having been committed on June 19th, when the Legion had been called together in order to meet any danger that might arise. They were committed to jail. Their friends hurriedly communicated with Governor Ford, who expressed his regret that new troubles had arisen, but advised them to let the law take its course. On the following morning, June 26th, in response to a request from the Smiths, he paid them a visit in jail, and there was an extended conference, which ended in nothing. In the afternoon the prisoners were brought again before the justice, and after some parleying as to legal jurisdiction, were granted until noon on the following day for the securing of witnesses. They were then remanded to jail, and went straight from the court-room to the place that on the morrow was to witness a cruel attack and bloody death.
There have been many accounts written of these final scenes in the life of the Mormon Prophet and his brother, and many explanations, arguments, and apologies advanced by those who had a part therein or stood so near that some portion of the blame was laid upon them. With the greater portion of that literature we have nothing to do. All parties agree to the main facts of the murder, and with those only is this narration concerned.
Governor Ford has bequeathed us a voluminous .account of his part in the final tragedy, * and the steps by which it was brought about. "The force assembled at Carthage," he writes, "amounted to about twelve or thirteen hundred men, and it was calculated that four or five hundred more were assembled at Warsaw. I ordered the troops to be disbanded, both at Carthage and Warsaw, with the exception of three companies, two of which were retained as a guard to the jail, and the other to accompany me to Nauvoo…. Having made these arrangements, we proceeded on our march, and arrived at Nauvoo about four o'clock of the afternoon of the 27th of June. As soon as notice could be given, a crowd of the citizens assembled to hear an address which I proposed to deliver to them…. A short time before sundown we departed on our return to Carthage. When we had proceeded two miles, we met two individuals, one of them a Mormon, who informed us that the Smiths had been assassinated in jail, about five or six o'clock of that day. The intelligence seemed to strike every one with a kind of dumbness.... It was many days after the assassination of the Smiths before the circumstances of the murder became fully known. It then appeared that, agreeably to previous orders, the posse at Warsaw had marched on the morning of the 27th of June in the direction of Golden's Point, with a view to join the force from Carthage, the whole body then to be marched into Nauvoo. When they had gone eight miles, they were met by the
* "History of Illinois."
order to disband; and learning, at the same time, that the Governor was absent at Nauvoo, about two hundred of these men, many of them disguised by blacking their faces with powder and mud, hastened immediately to Carthage. There they encamped at some distance from the village, and soon learned that one of the companies left as a guard had disbanded and returned to their homes; the other company, the Carthage Grays, was stationed by the Captain in the public square, a hundred and fifty yards from the jail, whilst eight men were detailed by him, under the command of Franklin A. Worrell, to guard the prisoners. A communication was soon established between the conspirators and the company; and it was arranged that the guard should have their guns charged with blank cartridges, and fire at the assail. ants when they attempted to enter the jail, General Deming, who was left in command, being deserted by some of his troop, and perceiving the arrangement with the others, and having no force upon Which he could rely, for fear of his life retired. from the village. The conspirators came up, jumped the slight fence around the jail, were fired upon b@ the guard, which, according to arrangement, were overpowered immediately, and the assailants entered the prison, to the door of the room where the two prisoners were confined, with two of their friends who voluntarily bore them company. An attempt was made to break open the door; but Joe Smith, being armed with a six-barrelled pistol, furnished by his friends, fired' several times as the door was bursted open, and wounded three of the assailants. At the same time several shots were fired into the room, by some of
which John Taylor received four wounds, and Hyrum Smith was instantly killed. Joe Smith now attempted to escape by jumping out of the second-story window; but the fall so stunned. him that he was unable to rise, and, being placed in a sitting posture by the conspirators below, they dispatched him with four balls shot through his body."
The actual events at the jail 'after the farce of over. powering the guards and taking possession by a show of force, had been enacted, have been graphically de. scribed in brief compass by one whose opportunities for information were excellent, whose fairness cannot be questioned, and whose ability to distinguish the true from the false is of the highest order: Smith and his brother had been that day removed from their cells, and given comparative liberty in a large, airy room on the first floor above. This afternoon they were receiving the visits of two Mormon brethren, Richards and Taylor. They heard the row at the door and the rush on the stairs, and instinctively barred their door by pressing their weight against 4t. The mob fired at the door. Hyrum Smith fell, exclaiming, I I'm a dead man.' Taylor crawled under the bed with a bullet in the calf of his leg. Richards hid himself behind the door in mortal terror.... Joe Smith died bravely. He stood by the jamb of the door and fired four shots, bringing his man down every time. He shot an Irishman named Wills, who was in the affair from his congenital love of a brawl, in the arm; Gallagher, a Southerner from the Mississippi bottom, in the face; Voorhees, a half-grown
* "The Mormon Prophet's Tragedy." By John Hay, Atlantic Monthly, December, 1869, p. 669.
hobbledehoy from Bear Creek, in the shoulder, and another…. Smith had two loaded six-barrellcd revolvers in his room…. The four shots which I have chronicled, and two which had no billet, exhausted one pistol, and the enemy gave Smith no time to use the other. Severely wounded as he was, he ran to the window, which was open to receive the fresh June air, and half leaped, half fell, into the jail yard below. With his last dying energies he gathered himself up, and leaned in a sitting posture against the rude stone well-curb. His stricken condition, his vague wandering glances, excited no pity in the mob thirsting for his life. They bad not seen the handsome fight he had made in the jail; there was no appeal to the border chivalry -- there is chivalry in the borders, as in all semi-barbarous regions. A squad of Missourians who. were standing by the fence levelled their pieces at him, and, before they could see him again for the smoke they made, Joe Smith was dead."
The last few hours of life that were given to the doomed man, who had travelled so long and devious a road from the Palmyra log-cabin only to meet grim death in Carthage jail, were of necessity full of fear and heaviness. He was utterly in the hands of his enemies, guarded by men who had themselves threatened his life, and could not for a moment be depended upon to interpose themselves between the prisoners whom it was their duty to protect, and any who might seek their lives. In popular opinion, and in the due process of law, there was small hope of favor; and any attempt at violent rescue at the hands of armed men from Nauvoo, could only end in death
to many, and bring on a civil war that would drench Hancock County in blood, lay the Mormon capital in ashes, and drive the church an outcast from the region that only a few years before had opened arms and given it welcome. There was but one possible course -- to wait with such hope and courage as could be summoned, for whatever punishment or deliverance fate might already have set upon its way.
Of those closing hours, Apostle John Taylor, who was present, has written an account, * which may be taken as true, so far as it relates to matters unconnected with the purposes or actions of the foes outside. "I do not remember," he declares, "the names of all who were with us that night and the next morning in jail, 'for several went and came…. There was also a great variety of conversation, which was rather desultory than otherwise, and referred to circumstances that had transpired; our former and present grievances; the spirit of the troops around us, and the disposition of the Governor; the devising of legal and other plans for deliverance; the nature of testimony required; the gathering of proper wit. nesses; and a variety of other topics.... At another time while conversing about deliverance, I said, 'Brother Joseph, if you will permit it and say the word, I will have you out of this prison in five hours, if the jail has to come down to do it.' My idea was to go to Nauvoo, and collect a force sufficient, as I considered the whole affair a legal farce, and a flagrant outrage upon our liberty and rights. Brother Joseph refused. Elder Cyrus Wheelock came
* "The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith." By Apostle John Taylor. This whole story is reprinted in "The City of the Saints," p. 517.
in to see us, and when he was about leaving draw a small pistol, a six-shooter, from his pocket, remarking at the same time, 'Would any of you like to have this?' Brother Joseph immediately replied, "Yes, give it to me; whereupon he took the pistol, and put it in his pantaloons pocket. The report of the Governor having gone to Nauvoo without taking the prisoners along with him caused very unpleasant feelings, as we were apprised that we were left to the tender mercies of the Carthage Grays, a company strictly mobocratic, and whom we knew to be your most deadly enemies…. Some time after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported by some that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent for to revive us. I believe we all drank of the wine, and gave some to one or two of the prison guards. We all of u& felt unusually dull and languid, with a remarkable depression of spirits. In consonance with those feelings I sang the following song, that had lately been introduced into Nauvoo, entitled A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not power to ask his name,
Whither he went, or whence he came;
Yet there war, something in his eye
That won my love, I know not why,
Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise
The Saviour stood before mine eyes.
He spake and my poor name he named --
"Of me thou hast not been ashamed;
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not; thou didst them unto me.'"
"The song," continues Taylor, "is pathetic, and the tune quite plaintive, and was very much in accordance with our feelings at the time, for our spirits were all depressed, dull, and gloomy, and surcharged with indefinite ominous forebodings. After a lapse of some time, Brother Hyrum requested me again to sing that song. I replied, 'Brother Hyrum, I do not feel like singing'; when he remarked, I Oh! never mind; commence singing, and you will get the spirit of it.' At his request I did so. Soon afterward I was sitting at one of the front windows of the jail, when I saw a number of men, with painted faces, coming round the corner of the jail, and aiming toward the stairs."
The Apostle’s description of the attack is vivid, and does not materially differ from those already given. As Hyrum fell he cried, "I am a dead man," and spoke and moved no more. As he fell Joseph leaned over him, and in tones of deep and sad sympathy exclaimed, "Oh! my poor, dear brother Hyrum!" "While I was engaged in parrying the guns," his narration continues, "Brother Joseph said, I That's, right, Brother Taylor; parry them off as well as you can.' These were the last words I ever heard him speak on earth."
Their work of murder completed, the assassins left the town and made haste to Warsaw and other points
from whence they came. The people of Carthage waited in silent fear for the sudden vengeance they were sure would befall them from Nauvoo. But it came not. The blow bad fallen with such force that every emotion except grief and apprehension was driven from the minds of the Mormons, who prepared to receive their dead with such honors as befitted their rank in the church. The Legion stood under arms from ten in the morning until three in the afternoon, when the funeral cortege appeared on the Carthage road and was escorted to the Mansion House, amid lamentation and weeping from the thousands who believed that Joseph had been in truth a prophet of the Lord, who had now sealed his mission in his blood. An oration was pronounced by Dr. Richards, while addresses were delivered by others who counselled peace, and asked their hearers to leave vengeance to God alone, and trust that in His hands justice would at last be done.
Even the lifeless body of the fallen Prophet could not escape the ambition of the leaders of the church, nor be safe from the sacrilege of those who had pursued him with such relentless purpose to the death.
The interment of the mortal remains of the Prophet and the Patriarch was attended to with proper solemnity," we are told on authority, to which, for many years, the Mormon records were open, * "and a sorrowing multitude accompanied the mourners to the burial-place; but there was a sequel to the public services which the people never knew, The bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were not in that funeral pro.
* "Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 174. Its author, T. B. H. Stenhouse, was for twenty-five years a Mormon Elder and missionary,
cession; they were reserved for private interment. It was believed that sacred as the tomb is always considered to be, there were persons capable of rifling the grave in order to obtain the head of the murdered Prophet for the purpose of exhibiting it, or placing it in some phrenological museum -- the skull of Joseph Smith was worth money. This apprehension, in point of fact, proved true, for the place where the bodies were supposed to be buried was disturbed the night after the interment. The coffins had been filled with stones, etc., to about the weight which the bodies would have been. The remains of the two brothers were then secretly buried the same night by a chosen few, in the vaults beneath the temple. The ground was then levelled, and pieces of rock and other debris were scattered carelessly over the spot. But even this was not considered a sufficient safeguard against any violation of the dead, and on the following night a still more select number exhumed the remains, and buried them beneath the pathway behind the Mansion House. The bricks which formed the pathway were carefully replaced, and the earth removed was carried away in sacks and thrown into the Mississippi. If this last statement is true, the bodies must have been removed a third time, as, since writing the above, the author has it on unquestionable authority that they now repose in quite a different place. Brigham Young has endeavored to obtain possession of the remains of the Prophet, that they might be interred beneath the temple at Salt Lake. It is stated by Brigham, that Joseph, like the son of Jacob, made the request that the Saints when they went to the Rocky Mountains should carry his
bones with them. The family of Joseph maintain that the Prophet never expressed any such desire, but said very much to the contrary. It is affirmed that previous to Joseph's death, he predicted that the church would be scattered, and saw that the time might come when Brigham Young would lead the church; and that if he did, he would lead it to perdition. He told his wife, Emma, to remain at Nauvoo, or if she left, to go to Kirtland, and not to follow any faction. To have given the bones into Brigham's charge would have been to confirm the Saints in the Rocky Mountain Zion, to which the Smith family are decidedly opposed. The remains of the martyrs are destined for Zion in Missouri."
With the death of Joseph Smith, the initial era of Mormonism may be said to have come to an end. The Strong hand with which Brigham Young put aside all claimants for the succession; relegated the Prophet's son and brothers to inferior places in the church, gave Sidney Rigdon over to excommunication and the mercy of Satan, and took matters into his own control and saved the church from disintegration and extinction; the season of peace that for a time fell upon Nauvoo; the yet greater storm by which it was followed; the final expulsion; the sad and weary pilgrimage across the plains; and the undreamed-of power and glory of after-days, * these are moving scenes in this great drama of a false religious growth, but do not belong to that inceptive epoch that has been chronicled herein.
Those who sought to destroy Mormonism by the
* Appendix E.
cowardly attack on Carthage jail, gave it a far more powerful ally than Rigdon, or Young, or Smith himself could have given it in decades of missionary preaching. The halo of a martyrdom had descended upon it; and of all the works performed by Joseph Smith for the system of which he was the foundation and the head, none could reach even a portion of the power, and influence, and vitalizing force that lay in the legacy of his bloody death.
THE SCATTERED FLOCK.
When Sidney Rigdon found himself cast out of the fold, and given officially over to the buffetings of Satan for a thousand years, that once-powerful leader gathered about him such as would heed his call, and led them eastward -- to Pennsylvania, where be made a vain attempt to found a church of which he should be the spiritual and temporal head; but they fell from him one by one, some going into the orthodox churches, some into infidelity and others back to the fold of which Young had become shepherd. William Smith, the Prophet's brother, piloted a few to Northern Illinois; E'lder Brewster gathered a group of stragglers in Western Iowa; Bishop Heddrick, a like following in Missouri; and Bishop Cutler, in Northern Iowa; but leadership, opportunity, and money were wanting, and all came to naught. Lyman Wight was followed to Texas by a company of some size. The authority of Young was recognized until the promulgation of polygamy, when it was repudiated; and on Wight's death the faction went slowly to pieces.
Joseph Smith, the eldest son of the Prophet, remained with his mother at Nauvoo after the exodus of the main body of the church to the West. In 1851, a number who had scattered through Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, gathered in solemn conclave, and made formal declaration that they had been instructed
in a revelation from God to refuse the leadership of Young, who was not the "divinely appointed and legitimate successor of Joseph Smith, and as being the promulgator of such false doctrines as polygamy, Adam-God worship, and the right to shed the blood of apostates." No special result followed this gathering, until in 1860, when the Joseph Smith of the third generation became president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints -- the name officially adopted. The old temple at Kirtland came recently under control of the organization, * and after repairs and renovation, witnessed
* By the courtesy of Harley Bames, Esq., of Painesville, the seat of Lake County, in which Kirtland is situated, I am able to furnish the following brief account of the fortunes of the old temple. The temple property, consisting of the building and nearly two acres of land, was conveyed to Joseph Smith, Jr., as president of the church, on May 5, 1834; and again by deed dated January 4, 1837, the former deed being considered illegal. It was again deeded April 10, 1837, by Smith to William Marks, and on February 11, 1841, by said Marks, to Smith as sole trustee in trust for the church. It was next ordered sold by the Probate Court of Lake County, on application of Henry Holcomb, administrator of Joseph Smith, then deceased, for the payment of the decedent's debts. The property was sold under this order to William L. Perkins, on April 19, 1862. On the same day it was conveyed by Mr. Perkins to Russel Huntley. On February 17, 1873, Mr. Huntley conveyed it to Joseph Smith (the president of the Reorganized Church) and Mark H. Forscutt, both of Plano, Illinois. On August 18, 1879, an action was commenced in the Lake County Common Pleas Court by the Reorganized Church, against Lucius Williams, Sarah F. Videon, Joseph Smith, Mark H. Forscutt, "The Church in Utah, of which John Taylor is president, and commonly known as the Mormon Church," and "John Taylor, president of said Utah Church"-- a proceeding to quiet title and obtain legal possession of the temple property. No defense was made; and on February 23, 1880, judge L. S. Sherman delivered a decision in which he declared
on April 6, 1883, a grand reunion of Mormon pilgrims, from the West and elsewhere. The organ. ization and government of the Reorganized Church are patterned after those of the early days; while polygamy is specially condemned as a joint device of Satan and Brigham Young. "We number," wrote President Smith, under date of Lamoni, Iowa, December 15, 1884, * "approximately 18,000 and are scattered from Maine to New Mexico, Oregon to Florida; some in England, Wales, Denmark, and Australia, and Society Islands. Our largest numbers are in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, California, and Utah, respectively. We have maintained
that "The Church in Utah, the defendant, of which John Taylor is president, has materially and largely departed from the faith, doctrines, laws, ordinances, and usages of said original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and has incorporated into its system of faith the doctrines of Celestial Marriage and a plurality of wives, and the doctrine of Adam-God worship, contrary to the laws and constitution of said original Church;" and the court further found that the plaintiff, the Reorganized Church, was "the true and lawful continuation of and successor to," the said original church; and was, in law, entitled to "all its rights and property." The sale ordered by the Probate Court, above described, was therefore declared to have been illegally made, and the title declared to be "vested in the heirs of said Joseph Smith, in trust for the legal successor of said original church."
* "A Solution of the Mormon Problem." By John Codman, New York, 1885, p. 230
Mr. H. A. Stebbins, secretary and recorder of the Reorganized Church, in answer to a request for information on the part of the author, writes, under date of Lamoni, Iowa, February 21, 1888, that at this date there are upon the church records the names of between twenty and twenty-one thousand members, who, with others in various parts of the country not thus recorded, will bring the membership up to a total of from twenty-two to twenty-five thousand.
a mission in Utah since 1863, with from one to a dozen men there. We number between 800 and 1,000 in Utah. There are members in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and Arizona. We have been persistent to the extent of our means [to win Mormons from polygamy], and have kept from two to five elders in the missionary field in Utah for the last five years."
Among those who attempted to wear the mantle of the Prophet, in the troubled days of 1844, was James Jesse Strang, whose subsequent Mormon Kingdom," on the Beaver Islands of Lake Michigan, has become one of the strange and unique things of American history. This remarkable episode of Mormonism has been overlooked in the larger and more important operations of Salt Lake; yet in interest and romance it cannot. be surpassed by any act in that great drama of ambition and superstition. The following account * of this bold attempt and early failure to found a kingdom on American soil, is well worth reproduction in this connection:
"Far out in the deep blue waters of Lake Michigan, about forty-five miles from the Straits of Mackinac, stands Big Beaver Island, the largest of a scattering group, famous for having been the seat of an heretical sort of autocracy, styling itself the Kingdom of the Mormons, ruled over by a potentate designated as King Strang. Although the rise and progress of this kingdom, its final downfall and the expulsion of its people from the island was an eventful and a woeful chapter in the annals of the polygamous sect, one might read whole libraries of Mormon literature without
* "An American Kingdom of Mormons." By F. D. Leslie; in Magazine of Western History, of Cleveland; April, 1886, p. 645.
learning that such an institution ever existed. This discrepancy or omission in Mormon history is due to an antagonism which sprang up between Strang and Brigham Young, completely alienating the one from the other. James Jesse Strang received his appointment as elder from Joseph Smith, founder of the faith, March 3, 1844, only one week after his baptism into the communion of the Mormon Church, and was, on June 19th following, vested with authority to establish a branch nucleus at his home in Burlington, Wisconsin. Joseph Smith having been mobbed and murdered at Carthage jail, June 27th of the same year, Strang, although less than five months a member of the Mormon Church, advanced his claims to the mantle of the martyred leader and pushed them with vigor. His principal title was an ambiguous clause in the letter of Smith clothing him with the powers referred to, which he readily construed into a declaration nominating himself as the prelate's successor in case that dignitary should succumb to the ominous dangers then threatening him.... According to the will of God revealed to Joseph Smith, Strang gathered up his votaries and planted a Stake of Zion on White River, Wisconsin, naming the place Voree, now known as Spring Prairie. A Mormon organ, entitled the Voree Herald, was started and schools were established, the community living in common. As Smith had done before him, the Prophet now proceeded to fortify himself in his position by publishing feigned interviews with God and bringing forth tables from the earth bearing what he claimed to be divinely inspired inscriptions. Eighteen metallic slabs, curiously carved, which Strang pretended to have discovered
in the banks of the White River, he christened Plates of Laban. It was claimed with the most positive and solemn assurance that they were written before the Babylonian captivity. Strang's divine library consisted of the Bible, recognized as the supreme authority, the Book of the Law of the Lord, composed of the Prophet’s translations of the characters on the Plates of Laban; the Book of Mormon and Smith's Book of Doctrines and Covenants.
Such was the prosperity of the community that its founder conceived the idea of permanently establishing and perpetuating the happiness of the sect by planting a kingdom on Big Beaver Island, where his people would be further removed from the 'invidious Gentiles,' and where his acts would not be so openly visible to the eyes of the authorities. This plan was carried into execution in 1847. And without license, reason, or excuse, and in open defiance of the law, Strang proclaimed himself king. The Voree Herald was issued as the Northern Islander, under the editor. ship of the king. A well-equipped printing-house was established, and for a time a daily edition of the Islander was published, Having settled his people on the island, where his policy could be carried out to better advantage than in the midst of hampering Gentiles, Strang assiduously directed his entire attention to the government of his kingdom. His authority was supreme. His commands were not given as a species of ukase, but were claimed to be absolute and indefeasible. His subjects were obedient and quiescent so long as his rule promoted their prosperity without being particularly offensive. How much they respected the compact when the administration
of affairs became unsatisfactory will shortly be seen. The king not only conducted personally the civil and ecclesiastical business of his realm, but found time to regulate in a minute and meddlesome manner its secular concerns. The communistic principle was abandoned and individuals were allowed to hold titles to their lands. The Israelitish tithe of one-tenth was assessed for the support of Church and State, no other taxes being levied for Mormon pur. poses. Some of his enactments respecting temporal affairs were very stringent, well calculated to preserve manhood, sobriety, and peace. According to authority, the probity of which there is no reason to question, the use of intoxicating liquors, tobacco, tea, and coffee was prohibited, and gaming and betting were not permitted. 'Prostitution and lewdness were discountenanced alike in both sexes,' writes one of Strang's wives, I and it was as necessary for a man to be careful of his reputation as for a woman.' Pursuing she says: 'They were very strict in all that regulated society, morals, and religious observances, and absolute obedience was enjoined. The seventh day was set apart as the Sabbath, and every one physically able was required to attend church upon that day. Schools were organized and flourished, and intellectual culture encouraged. The women were required to wear bloomers.' In a State possessing the right of autonomy, such a governmental fabric would look plausible enough.
"But Strang did not enjoy a reign of uninterrupted peace and prosperity. His kingdom, though insular, was not removed beyond the power of its enemies to assail. The islanders and fishermen -- a rough, lawless
set -- whose ill-will was not a good thing to incur -- were bitterly opposed to the advent of the Mormons, and did their best to prevent them froth obtaining a foothold. There arose at once a distinction between Mormon and Gentile, and the inimical tendencies of the two classes soon ripened into a deadly and implacable hatred. A warfare of plunder was constantly kept up. The odiousness of the despised sect rendered impartial judgment on the part of the general public impossible. In this condition of affairs, in the midst of a marauding and unscrupulous class of itinerant fishermen and skippers, it is highly probable that both Mormon and Gentile had depredations charged to them of which they were not guilty. The buccaneer infesting the lakes at that day could have had no better opportunity of plundering both saint and pagan without being likely to bring suspicion and punishment upon his own head.
"It is a well-authenticated fact that the crafty king had the high-handedness to prostitute the power of civil law to foster Mormonism and wreak vengeance on his enemies. In the fall of 1852 he became an independent candidate for the State Legislature, and was elected by Democratic votes. He filled the position with ability. During the winter following he organized the county of Emmet and introduced a bill to admit it, which was passed. This county embraced Beaver Island, and St. James was chosen as the county-seat. He had now the power of the State law to serve him in the promulgation of his doctrines…. The authorities, having for some time kept Strang and his confederates under distrustful surveillance, determined at length to put an end to his presumptive
kingdom. By order of District Attorney George C. Bates, the United States steamer Michigan was sent to St. James, and Strang, together with several of his colleagues, was arrested on a warrant charging him with trespassing on public lands, stealing timber, counterfeiting, mail-robbing, and other crimes. They surrendered peaceably and were taken to Detroit. In June, 1851, they were arraigned before judge Ross Wilkins, of the United States district court, and a jury. In his violation of, the law, Strang had so shrewdly, evaded it in technicalities that the evidence against him was insufficient. But there were internecine forces at work to accomplish the downfall of his kingdom. The majority of his subjects were not Mormons at heart, and did not hold their institution sacred any more than they regarded the king as their valid sovereign, -- Strang's first downward step was the introduction of polygamy, which he at first pretended to disfavor to such an extent as to pronounce a terrible curse upon those practicing it, and which his votaries, be it said to their credit, looked upon with aversion and abhorrence. Plural marriages were few. Strang, himself, had only four wives. From the time he publicly recommended polygamy, the difficulty of insubordination and disrespect became serious. The 'petticoat rebellion' is a somewhat ludicrous example of his meddlesomeness, and of the instrumentality of the women in consummating his ruin. As before stated, Strang had adopted the bloomer style of dress for the women. Many disgusted females rebelled against the uncouth pantalets and returned to the interdicted long skirts. Strang's threats were sufficient to compel
acquiescence in the majority of insubordinates, but a few of the more resolute told him with indignation that they would not submit to his interference in domestic affairs, and defied him to force the use of the unfeminine bloomers upon them. The husbands of the rebellious women were, in pursuance of the ecclesiastical law, excommunicated. Among the latter were Dr. H. D. McCulloch, of Baltimore, Mary. land, Thomas Bedford and Alexander Wentworth, leaders in the conspiracy that undermined the king. A series of tantalizing lawsuits was instigated against Bedford, and one against McCulloch, to vex them and exemplify Strang's power over the subservient magistrates who were his tools.
"One night Bedford was seized by seven armed men and fiendishly whipped. For three nights thereafter 'he watched Strang's house, but found no opportunity of taking revenge on the author of the outrage. Bedford, Wentworth, and McCulloch, the triumvirate of sedition, then agreed upon the murder of the king, but it was thought advisable to defer the execution of the design until the arrival of the United States steamer Michigan. On June 15, 1856, the Michigan cast anchor in the harbor of St. James, and while Strang was on his way to interview the captain, Bedford and Wentworth shot and mortally. wounded him. He was removed to Voree, where he died July 9th, following. Bedford and Wentworth were, by the arbitrary intervention of the officers of the Michigan, taken to Mackinaw on board that steamer, where they were lionized as heroes who had rid the world of an hitherto invincible monster. If they ever received any punishment it was slight.
With the assassination of Strang, the Mormon kingdom collapsed. During the latter part of his reign, the king's power was so enervated, and his security rendered so precarious by civil strife, that he entertained few hopes of the institution surviving his demise, and on his death-bed advised the Mormons to emigrate. There being no ties of cognation, sympathy, or common belief to bind them together, except perhaps their hatred of the fishermen, they began at once to quit the island for various places. But their enemies would not let slip so rare an opportunity of wreaking vengeance on their heads. Chartering a vessel, a large mob of desperadoes from the neighboring islands and the mainland sailed for St. James. With remorseless brutality the remaining Mormons, several hundred in number, mostly women and children, were driven by force and arms aboard a propeller bound for Milwaukee, only a few hours being given them to collect their portable property, the greater part of which was left behind. The predatory gang then proceeded to plunder the effects of the ejected colony, giving as an excuse for their spoliation that the property was to indemnify them against losses sustained at the hands of marauding Mormons. The immunity of these lawless invaders from justice was a matter of course, in a community so prejudiced against the Mormons, whose chief offense seems to have been in their inappropriate appellation -- since Mormonism is now synonymous with polygamy. The miserable outcasts landed in various places, but mostly in Milwaukee."
So long as a mystery hangs over the origin of the Book of Mormon, so long will the name of Solomon Spaulding be associated with a creed which was formulated years after his death, and with a church of which he never heard. The claim put forward with such certainty by some, and denied with equal vigor by others, that it was upon a heavy and else forgotten romance of his that the Mormon book was founded, has rescued him from oblivion, and made him one of the unsolved enigmas of the century. Fate has indeed reserved him to a unique fame, so different from that to which his natural aspirations turned. The story may be briefly told, although volumes have been devoted to it. Mr. Spaulding was born in Ashford, Conn., in 1761; graduated at Dartmouth College in 1785; became a minister of the Congregational Church; preached for a while, and then because of ill-health gave his time to mercantile pursuits; failed, and in 1809 removed to Salem -- now Conneaut -- Ohio, where he made another business venture that was no more successful than the first. With enforced leisure upon his hands, and a strong literary faculty that demanded use, he wrote much; taking as his theme the prehistoric inhabitants of America, and making his imagination furnish that information which the then discovered facts of Archaeology did not supply. In 18l2, in the hope that a publisher might be found for what he had written, he removed to Pittsburgh, and took his manuscript to the printing. office of Rev. Robert Patterson, to see if arrangements could not be made to that end. As he had no means of his own, and as the publisher could see no chance of success for the venture, the "Historical Romance" upon which his hope had been built, was not given to the world. Broken in spirit and health, poor in pocket, and with old age approaching, he removed to Amity, Washington County,
Pennsylvania, where he died within two years. There, recently, a visitor who felt that life had not dealt altogether fairly with the poor old man, and 'that history had not always been considerate in the use of his name, went into the deserted little graveyard, and under the moss of a crumbling stone, discovered this inscription, and rescued it from an early oblivion :
SOLOMON SPAULDING, WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
OCTOBER 20TH, A.D. 1816.
AGED 55 YEARS.
Kind cherubs, guard the sleeping clay,
Until the great decision day,
And saints complete in glory rite
To share the triumphs of the skies.
The claim is put forth, and supported by a great deal of direct if not conclusive evidence, that the manuscript of the Spaulding book was left in Patterson's printing-office; that Sidney Rigdon came into possession of the original or a copy; that he was thrown into connection with Joseph Smith; and that chance, circumstances, deep cunning, a keen eye to the main chance, and a public anxious to be duped by any religious vagary that might present itself, performed the rest. Many witnesses have been placed on record as deposing that parts of the Book of Mormon are identical with the romance of Solomon Spaulding, as read to them, by the author during the long leisure of winter, in pioneer days. An analysis of the testimony pro or con. is foreign to the purpose of this book; but those who have the desire to pursue the matter to the limits of all information now extant, are referred to the following works, devoted entirely to this phase of Mormon history: The pamphlet publication, written by the son of the Robert Patterson above referred to, "Who Wrote The Book of Mormon," by Robert Patterson, Pittsburgh., 1882; and "New Light on Mormonism," by Mrs. Ellen E. Dickenson, New York, 1885.
MARTIN HARRIS AND CHARLES ANTHON.
Rev. Mr. Clark, in "Gleanings by the Way," pp. 222 to 238, lets a flood of light in upon this episode of Mormonism: "It was
early in the autumn of 1827" (quoting Mr. Clark's personal experience) "that Martin Harris called at my house in Palmyra, one morning about sunrise. His whole appearance indicated more than usual excitement, and he had scarcely passed the threshold of my dwelling before he inquired whether he could see me alone, remarking that he had a matter to communicate that he wished to be strictly confidential. Previous to this I had but very slight acquaintance with Mr. Harris. He had occasionally attended divine service at our church I invited him to accompany me to my study, where, after having closed the door, he began to draw a package out of his pocket with great and manifest caution. Suddenly, however, he stopped, and wished to know if there was any possibility of our being interrupted or overheard. When answered in the negative, he proceeded to remark that he reposed great confidence In me as a minister of Jesus Christ, and that what he had now to communicate he wished me to regard as strictly confidential. He said he verily believed ' that an important epoch had arrived…. The whole thing appeared to me so ludicrous and puerile, that I could not refrain from telling Mr. Harris that I believed it a mere hoax, got up to practice upon his credulity, or an artifice to extort from him money; for I had already, in the course of the conversation, learned that he had advanced some twenty-five dollars to Jo Smith as a sort of premium for sharing with him in the glories and profits of this new revelation My intimations to him in reference to the possible imposition that was being practiced upon him, however, were indignantly repelled He then carefully unfolded a slip of paper which contained three or four lines of characters, as unlike letters or hieroglyphics of any sort as well could be produced were one to shut up his eyes and play off the most antic movements with his pen upon paper….. My ignorance of the characters in which this pretended ancient record was written, was to Martin Harris new proof that Smith's whole account of the divine revelation made to him was entirely to be relied on…. He was so much in earnest on this subject, that he immediately started off with some of the manuscripts that Smith furnished him, on a journey to New York and Washington, to consult some learned men to ascertain the nature of the language in which this record was engraven.... The Rev. Dr. Coit, rector of Trinity Church, New Rochelle, Westchester County, N. Y., hearing that the Mormons in that place.... were claiming the patronage of Professor Anthon's name in behalf of their notions, took the liberty
to state the fact to him, and ask in what possible way they had contrived to associate him with themselves, In reply to this inquiry Professor Anthon wrote the letter above referred to [first published in The Church Record] which we here insert:
"NEW YORK, April 3, 1841."’REV. AND DEAR SIR: -- I have often heard that the Mormons claimed me for an auxiliary, but as no one until the present time has ever requested from me a statement in writing, I have not deemed it worth while to say anything publicly on the subject. What I do know of the sect relates to some of their early movements; and as the facts may amuse you, while they will furnish a satisfactory answer to the charge of my being a Mormon proselyte, I proceed to lay them before you in detail. Many years ago, the precise date I do not now recollect, a plain-looking countryman called upon me with a letter from Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell, requesting me to examine and give my opinion upon a certain paper, -- marked with various characters, which the doctor confessed he could not decipher, and which the bearer of the note was very anxious to have explained. A very brief examination of the paper convinced 'me that it was a mere hoax, and a very clumsy one too. The characters were arranged in columns like the Chinese mode of writing, and presented the most singular medley that I ever beheld. Greek, Hebrew, and all sorts of letters more or less distorted, either through unskilfulness, or from actual design, were intermingled with sundry delineations of half-moons, stars, and other natural objects, and the whole ended in a rude representation of the Mexican zodiac. The conclusion was irresistible that some cunning fellow had prepared the paper in question, for the purpose of imposing upon the countryman who brought it, and I told the man so, without any hesitation. He then proceeded to give me a history of the whole affair, which convinced me that he had fallen into the hands of some sharper, while it left me in great astonishment at his own simplicity. [Professor Anthon here repeats the story of the golden plates, as told by Smith and repeated by Harris.] On my telling the bearer of the paper that an attempt had been made to impose on him and defraud him of his property, he requested me to give him my opinion in writing about the paper which he had shown to me. I did so without hesitation, partly for the man's sake, and partly to let the individual "behind the curtain" see that his trick was discovered. The import of what I
wrote was, as far as I can now recollect, simply this, that the marks in the paper appeared to be merely an imitation of various alphabetical characters, and had, in my opinion, no meaning at all connected with them. The countryman then took his leave, with many thanks, and with the express declaration that he would in no shape part with his farm, or embark in the speculation of printing the golden book. [Professor Anthon here describes a second call, at a later date, and his refusal to accept a copy of the newly-published Book of Mormon, or have anything to do with it.] That the Prophet aided me by his inspiration in interpreting the volume, is only one of the many amusing falsehoods which the Mormonites utter relative to my participation in their doctrines. Of these doctrines I know nothing whatever, nor have I ever heard a single discourse from any one of their preachers, although I have often felt a strong curiosity to become an auditor, since my friends tell me that they frequently name me in their sermons, and even go so far as to say that I am alluded to in the prophecies of Scripture! If what I have here written shall prove of any service in opening the eyes of some of their deluded followers to the real designs of those who profess to be the apostles of Mormonism, it will afford me a satisfaction, equalled, I have no doubt, only by that which you yourself will feel on this subject.
I remain very respectfully and truly, your. friend,
CHARLES ANTHON.REV. DR. COIT,
New Rochelle, N. Y.
The dark deeds of the "Danites" belong properly to the days of Salt Lake, but that the organization already existed in Missouri and there performed its bloody work, seems to be proved, in spite of Joseph Smith's emphatic denial. When Thomas B. Marsh, the chief of the Twelve Apostles, left the Mormon Church, he made an affidavit, under date of October 24, 1838, before Henry Jacobs, a justice of the peace for Ray County, Missouri, in which he used the following words: "They have among them a company, considered true Mormons, called the Danites, who have taken an oath
to support the heads of the Church in all things that they say or do, whether right or wrong." To this Orson Hyde, at that time at war with the Church, added his testimony, in a like oath, in which he said: "The most of the statements in the foregoing disclosure I know to be true; the remainder I believe to be true." John Hyde, also an apostate Mormon, in his "Mormonism," p. 104, says: "When the citizens of Carroll and Davis Counties, Missouri, began to threaten the Mormons with expulsion in 1838, a death society was organized, under the direction of Sidney Rigdon, and with the sanction of Smith. Its first captain was Captain Fearnot alias David Patten, an apostle. Its object was the punishment of the obnoxious. Some time elapsed before finding a suitable name. They desired one that should seem to combine spiritual authority with a suitable sound. Micah iv; 13 furnished the first name, 'Arise, and thresh, O daughter of Zion; for I will make thy horn iron, and thy hoofs brass; and thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their sub. stance unto the Lord of the whole earth.' This furnished them with a pretext; it accurately described their intentions, and they called themselves the 'Daughters of Zion.' Some ridicule was made at these bearded and bloody I daughters,' and the name did not sit easily. ' Destroying Angels,' came next; the 'Big Fan' of the thresher that I should thoroughly purge the floor,' was tried and dropped. Genesis xlix. 17 furnished the name that they finally assumed. The verse is quite significant : ' Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.' The 'Sons of Dan' was the style they adopted: and many have been the times that they have been adders in the path, and many a man has fall backward, and has been seen no more. At Salt Lake, among themselves, they ferociously exult in these things, rather than seek to deny or extenuate them." Were testimony needed to prove the existence of this body, it could be produced in abundance. John D. Lee, the Mormon bishop, in his Confessions, on p. 5 7, says: "At the same conference (that Of 1838) another organization was perfected, or then first formed -- it was called the Danites. The members of this order were placed under the most sacred obligations that language could invent. They were sworn to stand by and sustain each other. Sustain, protect, defend, and obey, the leaders of the Church under any and all circumstances unto death; and to disobey the orders of the leaders of the Church, or divulge the name of a Danite to an outsider, or to
make public any of the secrets of the order of Danites, was to be punished with death. And I can say of a truth, many have paid the penalty for failing to keep their covenants." For more light upon this subject see the little work "Brigham's Destroying Angel; being the Life, Confessions, and Startling Disclosures of the Notorious Bill Hickman, the Danite Chief of Utah," written by himself, with explanatory notes by J. H. Beadle, New York, 1872.
That the plural-wife system had no part in the Mormon doctrine of early days, is a matter of evidence and record, as it is commanded in a revelation that a man shall have only one wife, and cleave unto her. Polygamy may, therefore, be regarded as an out. growth of the enlarged powers and opportunities of later days. When Bennett, the Higbees, and other members of the Mormon Church apostatized at Nauvoo, and made their furious attacks upon the whole Mormon scheme, one of their main points of argument was that the system of spiritual wifehood was already in secret practice, and that under the guise of celestial marriage, Smith and other leaders of the Church were living in adultery with scores of women. Addressing a public ready to believe that Mormonism was a cloak for the covering of any abomination known to man, they had no difficulty in securing belief for their charges; taming against the Church the whole moral and religious sentiment of the country. The revelation commanding polygamy was first published in the Deseret News Extra, of Salt Lake City, on September 14, 1852; although given, as the Church claimed, to Joseph Smith at Nauvoo, on July 12, 1843. The sons of Smith, and the members of the Reorganized Church of Latter-Day Saints, deny not only the charges of Bennett et al. as to the Prophet's immoral practices, but all reputed connection of his with the revelation itself; claiming that the latter was a device invented by Young to defend his own practices, and cunningly given on the authority of Smith that it might carry greater weight with the Church. "The Mormon history relates," says Mr. Beadle, in "Life in Utah," p. 337, "that when the full force of the new covenant was perceived the Prophet was filled with astonishment and dread. All the traditions of his
early education were overthrown, and yet he felt that it was the work of the Lord. In vain he sought to be released from the burden of communicating the new doctrine to the world, and at length obtained permission to keep ft secret, as yet, from all but the Twelve Apostles, and a few other leading men. As the hour approached when he was to meet them in council, horror and fear of what might be the result, overcame him, and be hastily mounted his horse and fled from the city. But a mighty angel met him on the road, stood in the way with a drawn sword, and with awful voice and offended mien, bade him return." Whether the work of Smith or Young, the revelation was not announced to the Church until on August 29, 1852, when Brigham made it public, and preached a sermon commanding obedience to its requirements -- paving the way for others by himself becoming eventually the possessor of nineteen wives. The effect upon the people of Utah was not marked as they only now saw the open doing of what they had long known in secret, but elsewhere it became an immediate damage to the Church, and the forerunner of many ills in the future -- of which the recently passed Edmunds law, and the prosecutions and convictions thereunder are not the least. "In England, especially," says Mr. Beadle, in continuation of the above, the demoralization was fearful; hundreds after hundreds apostatized, whole churches and conferences dissolved; talented knaves in many instances, finding in this the excuse for going off without surrendering the money-bags which they held. The missions entirely disappeared in many parts of Europe, and even in America, thousands of new converts who had not gone to Zion turned away and joined the Josephites, Gladdenites, Strangites, and other sects of recusant Mormons." The practical and theological sides of the system are thus briefly condensed by the same author -- who has resided in Salt Lake City for a number of years, and made of Utah Mormonism a practical study: "Of their theology as it relates to polygamy, but little need be added. It is so thoroughly grafted into and interwoven with their whole system, that at no point can one be touched without attacking the other. Polygamy is not, as recusant Mormons assert, a mere addition by Brigham Young to the original faith; it is a necessary and logical outgrowth of the system. If Mormonism be true, their polygamy is right; for 'pre-existence of the soul,' 'progression of the gods,' and all other peculiarities of the system, depend by a thousand combinations and interrelations upon the system. A man's or woman’s
glory in eternity, is to depend upon the size of the family for a woman to remain childless is a sin and calamity, and she cannot secure I exaltation' as the wife of a Gentile or an apostate; her husband's rank in eternity must greatly depend upon the number of his wives, and she will share in that glory whatever it is. All this points unerringly to polygamy. Hence, also, the last feature of this complex and unnatural relationship known as 'spiritual wives,' which is to be understood as follows: Any woman, having an earthly husband of whose final exaltation she is in doubt, may be ' sealed for eternity' to some prominent Mormon, who will raise her and make her a part of his final kingdom…. By 'marriage for the dead' living women are sealed to dead men, and vice versa, some one standing proxy for the deceased…. So a man may have a wife 'for time' who belongs to some man already dead 'for eternity,' in which case all the children will belong to the latter in eternity, the living man merely ' raising up seed unto his dead brother.' To such lengths of vain imaginings may a credulous people be led by artful impostors."
THE MORMONS OF SALT LAKE.
There were many claimants for the position of prophet and president made vacant by the death of Joseph Smith, but, as in many other cases, he who was wise enough to claim the least, eventually received the most. William Smith claimed the succession because he was the prophet's brother; Sidney Rigdon began to have visions and dream dreams, and announced himself as the chosen one; James Jesse Strang advanced his right, under special commission from Joseph; while Lyman Wight, Gladden Bishop, John E. Page, and others, began to feel the spirit of prophecy, and announced themselves as ready to take the lead. But Brigham Young, advancing no special plea of spiritual direction, and depending upon that strong common-sense that aided him in so many emergencies, came home to Nauvoo as rapidly as possible, took matters into his own hands, and by his courage and address saved the society and the Church from going to pieces. He caused the Twelve Apostles, of whom he was head, to issue on August 15th an "Encyclical letter to all the Saints in the world," and on October 7th a general
council was held at Nauvoo. Under his advice it was decided that for the present the government should be in the hands of the Twelve, which lodged the chief executive power in the strong hands of Young. Rigdon's claims were derided, while he, and those who had sided with him, were cut off from the church and sent forever adrift. Young addressed himself with energy to the repair of the shattered fortunes of the Saints, hastened the completion of the temple, and used his best endeavors to keep peace with the hostile elements now ranged all about the fold. But the enmity was too deep and lasting to wear easily away. The politicians of Illinois had no further hope from the Mormon vote, and accordingly the General Assembly repealed the charter of Nauvoo. Warned by the signs of the times, the Mormon leaders decided to emigrate to some place in the far West, In 1846 a number emigrated to Council Bluffs, Iowa; while those who remained behind were driven from Nauvoo by force, and compelled, in a large measure, to abandon their homes and possessions. Meanwhile men had been sent forward to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, in Utah; and as their report was favorable, Young gathered up all who would trust themselves to his guidance, and led them across the hills and plains to a place that in those days was far beyond the confines of even such semi-civilization as that of Missouri and Iowa. Salt Lake City was founded, and the barren wilderness was made to blossom as the rose. The weaker brethren who had remained behind, came on in numbers, while great accessions were received through the labors of missionaries who had been sent abroad. In March, 1849, a State was organized, under the name of Deseret, the "land of the honey-bee." A legislature was chosen and a constitution framed, and an application made to the General Government for admission to the Union. The plea was refused, but as a compromise, the country occupied by the Mormons was, in 1850, organized into the Territory of Utah, and Brigham Young appointed Governor. A United States court for the Territory was organized and judges appointed, but were not allowed to exercise their functions when they arrived at Salt Lake. Young was suspended, and Colonel Steptoe, of the United States army, appointed in his stead. A conflict between the Government and Mormons was carried on -- in which armed forces on both sides confronted each other at times -- until 1858, when the Mormons submitted to Federal authority, on condition that all past offenses against the Government should be pardoned. On the conclusion
of the war of the Rebellion a Federal governor was again appointed, and in 1871 a law was passed declaring polygamy to be ad criminal offense; although the statute was for a long time a dead letter. Young remained the head of the Church, an absolute autocrat in matters spiritual and temporal, until his death on August 29, 1877. He left a fortune of two million dollars, and nineteen wives and fifty-six children. He was succeeded in office by Elder John Taylor, who remained at the head of the Church until his death in the summer of 1887. Since then no formal choice of a successor has been made. From the time that the newly-formed Republican party in its first national platform adopted in 1856 referred to "those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery," to the present, many efforts have been made by the Government and people to limit the power and influence of the Mormon Church, and avert the dangers its existence and growth so surely threatened. An estimate of the strength of the Mormon organization may be given as follows: The population of Utah, at the last enumeration, was 147,000, of whom 123,000 are Mormons; but as adherents of the Church are scattered all over the world, it is impossible to arrive at a just idea of their numerical strength. They have of late years made considerable progress in Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Washington Territories, and their number in the United States outside of Utah cannot fall much below 27,000. In Europe they have also many adherents, and their number the world over cannot be less than 213,000.
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