D&C 135

  1. Introductory Comments.
    1. Follow-up thoughts on Lesson 39.
  2. Historical Background.
    1. Events leading up to Joseph's final months in Nauvoo.
      1. 1842 - John C. Bennett left the church and published an expose' of the Mormon marriage system calling it an excuse for licentiousness.
      2. 1843 - The Prophet accused Sidney Rigdon of being in conspiracy with Bennett. Rigdon replied by denying any connection with Bennett or any plots against the Prophet. He failed to convince Joseph of his innocence, but was not dropped from the Church.
        1. In mid-June 1844 he moved to Pittsburgh to raise up a branch of the Church.
      3. Voting - due to the fairly equal size of the Whig and Democratic parties in Illinois, the Mormon voting block was sufficient to swing statewide elections.
        1. The Mormons were responsible for putting Stephen A Douglas into Congress and Thomas Ford into the governership.
        2. After Whig defeats in 1843, difficulties began again for the Saints. An anti-Mormon meeting was convened in Carthage to protest the Mormons holding public office. There was also a beginning of acts of violence against the Saints living a distance from Nauvoo.
      4. There were rumors that the Missourians intended to take action against the Saints. Joseph kept Governor Ford informed of the acts of violence against the Saints, especially the threats of invasion, and offered the service of the Nauvoo Legion in repelling such an invasion.
        1. Governor Ford refused to believe Joseph's information or to take any action. An appeal was also made to Congress requesting protection for the city of Nauvoo.
    2. 1844 - Joseph Smith for President.
      1. The Prophet wrote the major candidates for President, including Henry Clay & John C. Calhoun, asking what their policy regarding the redress of wrongs to the Missouri Saints would be. The answers that came back were unsatisfactory.
      2. On January 31, 1844, the Prophet announced his candidacy for President of the United States on the grounds that the Saints' religious and civil rights as American citizens had been denied, and no portion of the government had stepped forward to their relief. 337 missionaries were appointed, including the Twelve, and assigned to the 36 existing states. They were instructed to preach truth and righteousness and present before the people "General Smith's views of the powers and policy of the general government and seek diligently to get up electors who would go for him for the Presidency".
      3. The Prophet's platform:
        1. His platform centered on national reform and getting back to the basic principles of the founding fathers.
        2. Reduce Congress and their pay. "Pay them two dollars a day and their board per diem (except Sundays). That is more than the farmer gets, and he lives honestly."
        3. Advocated prison reform. He wanted to turn the penitentiaries into seminaries for learning. "Rigor and seclusion will never do as much to reform propensities of men as reason and friendship."
        4. Slavery: The government should purchase the slaves from their owners using money from the reduction of Congressional wages and the sale of public lands and then set them free.
        5. He foresaw the need for a federal reserve banking system and suggested that the profits be used to reduce the national debt.
        6. He would also strive to give every man his constitutional freedom and the president full power to send an army to suppress mobs. He argued that the Constitution should contain "provision that every officer of the government who should refuse to extend the protection guaranteed in the Constitution should be subject to capital punishment."
        7. He recommended that the Oregon territory be occupied, but the consent of the Indians should first be obtained. He was for Texas being given statehood, if it should so petition and also welcome Canada and Mexico.
    3. A Conspiracy Against The Prophet.
      1. December 1843: Because of threats from Missouri, Joseph Smith (as mayor) increased the police force of Nauvoo.
        1. In an address to them he stated: "My life is more in danger from some little dough-head of a fool in this city than from all my numerous and inveterate enemies abroad. I am exposed to far greater danger from traitors among ourselves than from enemies without, although my life has been sought for many years by the civil and military authorities, priests, and people of Missouri; and if I can escape from the ungrateful treachery of assassins, I can live as Caesar might have lived, were it not for a right-hand Brutus." (DHC 6:152)
      2. Among those who took exception with the Prophet were William Law (2nd Counselor), Wilson Law (a major general in the Nauvoo Legion, and William Marks (president of the Nauvoo Stake). They expressed fear that the increased force had been organized to secretly put them away.
        1. The Prophet stated: "What can be the matter with these men? Is it that the wicked flee when no man pursueth, that hit pigeons always flutter, that drowning men catch at straws, or that Presidents Law and Marks are absolutely traitors to the Church, that my remarks should produce such an excitement." (DHC 6:170)
      3. The Law brothers, Marks, and others were involved in a conspiracy against the Prophet. Two boys were invited to attend one of their meetings. They attended and reported their findings to the Prophet. In April the Law brothers, Marks, and the other conspirators were excommunicated from the Church.
      4. William Law appeared before the grand jury in Carthage and swore that Joseph was guilty of polygamy and adultery. The Prophet was subsequently indicted. On May 27 the Prophet rode to Carthage to have the indictment investigated. Law and the others intended to kill the Prophet, but the opportunity did not present itself.
      5. Nauvoo Expositor: Published by the conspirators. It advocated repeal of the Nauvoo Charter and promised to expose the abuses of power exercised under the charter.
        1. June 7: The one & only issue of the Expositor was issued charging Joseph Smith with practicing spiritual wifery, indulging in whoredoms, abusing political power, teaching the plurality of gods, and claiming power to seal men up to eternal life. Church leaders ere accused of controlling politics, and the Prophet was branded a base seducer, a liar, and a murderer.
      6. June 10: City council met and declared the paper a nuisance and ordered the mayor to "cause said printing establishment and papers to be removed without delay...."
        1. City Marshall John P Greene and a posse along with hundreds of citizens went to the paper where the press, type, printed matter and fixtures were removed to the street and destroyed.
        2. The publishers fled to Carthage and swore out a warrant for the arrest of the Prophet on the charge of riot.
        3. This was the straw that broke the camels back. Several papers voiced their protest. The Warsaw signal stated: "War and extermination is inevitable! CITIZENS ARISE, ONE AND ALL!!! Can you stand by, and suffer such INFERNAL DEVILS! To ROB men of their property rights, without avenging them. We have no time for comment! every man will make his own. LET IT BE WITH POWDER AND BALL!"
      7. June 12: Joseph and 17 other arrested by Constable Bettisworth of Carthage. The Prophet said that he would appear before the court in Nauvoo where he was discharged.
      8. June 14: Joseph wrote Governor Ford detailing the situation. Governor Ford responded by warning all citizens of Hancock County that he would interfere against aggressors.
      9. Over the next few days tensions increased, threats were made, rumors flew.
        1. Nauvoo was put under martial law.
        2. All roads into town were guarded.
        3. The Nauvoo Legion was brought to full strength.
        4. All mails were cut off from Nauvoo by the mob.
    4. Like A Lamb To The Slaughter.
      1. June 20: The Prophet urged Hyrum to take his family and leave on the next steamboat for Cincinnati, which Hyrum refused to do.
        1. The Prophet stated: "I told Stephen Markham that if I and Hyrum were ever taken again we should be massacred, or I was not a Prophet of God. I want Hyrum to live to avenge my blood, but he is not to leave me." The Prophet wanted Hyrum to succeed him in the Presidency and ordained him to it (DHC 6:546 & footnote).
      2. June 21: Governor Ford arrives in Carthage to assess the situation.
      3. June 22: John Taylor & John Bernhisel were granted an interview with the Governor. Things were made difficult by the presence of the apostates, including the Law brothers. They were unable to make headway with the governor and returned to Nauvoo where the reported to Joseph, Hyrum, and Willard Richards.
        1. The History of the Church states: "About 9 p.m. Hyrum came out of the Mansion and gave his hand to Reynolds Cahoon, at the same time saying, 'A company of men are seeking to kill my brother Joseph, and the Lord has warned him to flee to the Rocky Mountains to save his life. Goodbye, Brother Cahoon, we shall see you again.' In a few minutes afterwards Joseph came from his family. His tears were flowing fast. Be held a handkerchief to his face, and followed after Brother Hyrum without uttering a word." (DHC 6:547)
      4. June 23: Porter Rockwell took Hyrum, Joseph, and Willard Richards across the Mississippi to Montrose, Iowa, where they stayed with William Jordan and began preparations to flee to the west.
        1. They started across the river at about 2:00 AM. Porter rowed while Joseph, Hyrum, and Willard baled the water from the leaky boat with their boots and shoes.
        2. Earlier Joseph had dispatched Anson Call and David Evans to Knoxville, Illinois, to request the circuit judge, Jesse C. Thomas, to have his court investigate the charges against him. Judge Thomas granted the request and ordered Joseph's appearance at Carthage postponed.
          1. Brothers Call and Evans returned to Nauvoo with a letter from the judge that would have saved his life. The letter was delivered to Emma Smith. Brother Call believes that it was not given to the Prophet.
        3. Rockwell returned to Nauvoo for horses. He returned with a message from Emma and others of the Saints pleading for his return. Joseph stated: "If my life is of no value to my friends it is of none to myself."
        4. The History of the Church reads: "Joseph said to Rockwell, 'What shall I do?' Rockwell replied, 'You are the oldest and ought to know best; and as you make your bed, I will lie with you.' Joseph then turned to Hyrum, who was talking with Cahoon, and said, 'Brother Hyrum, you are the oldest, what shall we do?' Hyrum said, 'Let us go back and give ourselves up, and see the thing out.' After studying a few moments, Joseph said, 'If you go back I will go with you, but we shall be butchered.' Hyrum said, 'No, no; let us go back and put our trust in God, and we shall not be harmed. The Lord is in it. If we live or have to die, we will be reconciled to our fate'." (DHC 6:549)
        5. That afternoon, Joseph, Hyrum, and the others returned to Nauvoo.
          1. As they were walking to the river, Joseph and Porter fell behind. The others called back for them to hurry along. Joseph replied, "It is of no use to hurry, for we are going back to be slaughtered."
          2. Joseph said that he would like to get the Saints together once more and talk to them. Porter said that if that was his wish he would get the people together that evening and he could talk to them by starlight.
      5. Monday - June 24: The Prophet and seventeen others rode for Carthage.
        1. As they rode by the temple, which had reached the one story level, looked across the city and said: "This is the loveliest place and the best people under the heavens; little do they know the trials that await them."
        2. Four miles from Carthage Joseph and his party encountered Captain Dunn and a company of mounted militia on their way to Nauvoo with orders from the governor to disarm the Nauvoo Legion. Joseph countersigned the order.
          1. Joseph turned to the men around him and made the following statement: "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer's morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward all men. If they take my life I shall die an innocent man, and my blood shall cry from the ground for vengeance, and it shall be said of me "He was murdered in cold blood!' " (DHC 6:555)
      6. Tuesday - June 25: The Prophet surrendered himself to Constable Bettisworth. The governor reaffirmed his pledge for their protection and an impartial trial. That evening they were committed to the Carthage Jail.
      7. Wednesday - June 26: The day was spent in the Carthage Jail.
        1. Joseph met with Governor Ford in the morning explaining the action of the city council in regard to the Expositor. He said that they had acted "strictly in accordance with the law".
          1. Ford said that the destruction of the Expositor was a high handed measure surpressing the liberty of speech and the press.
          2. Joseph justified its destruction by saying that "a set of worthless vagabonds" had come into the city and vilified the character of themselves and their wives and their children. He said, "There is not a city in the United States that would have suffered such an indignity for twenty-four hours."
          3. Governor Ford was going to Nauvoo the following day. Joseph asked the governor if he could go with him since he did not feel safe in Carthage. The governor said that he would honor his request and pledged protection.
        2. During the day John Taylor sang and extracts from the Book of Mormon were read. They preached to the guards and testified of their innocence.
        3. That afternoon Constable Bettisworth presented the jailer with an order for the prisoners to appear before Justice Robert Smith for trial. George Stigall, the jailer, said that the order was illegal and refused to surrender the prisoners.
          1. An appeal was made to the governor who said that we have plenty of troops and to bring the prisoners out.
          2. Joseph donned his hat and walked boldly outside where he locked arms with the roughest looking of the Carthage Greys and walked to the courthouse, expecting to be massacred and the way.
          3. Joseph's lawyers objected to the illegality of the proceedings. The examination was postponed until the next day and subpoenas were granted to bring witnesses from Nauvoo.
        4. The prisoners were returned to the Carthage Jail where they spent the night.
      8. Thursday - June 27:
        1. Dan Jones, who had spent the night with the prisoners, inquired of Frank Worrell, sergeant of the guard, about the meaning of a shot heard during the night.
          1. Worrell told Jones that he could "prophesy better than Old Joe, for neither he nor his brother, nor anyone who remain with them, will see the sun set today."
          2. Jones set off to report the threat to the governor and on his way heard a militia leader say the following: "Our troops will be discharged this morning in obedience to orders, and for a sham, we will leave the town; but when the governor and the McDonough troops have left for Nauvoo this afternoon, we will return and kill those men, if we have to tear down the jail."
          3. Governor Ford's response to Jones: "You are unnecessarily alarmed for the safety of your friends, sir, the people are not that cruel."
          4. Jones said to the governor, "I demand of you protection of their lives." He said that if he didn't comply, "the Almighty will preserve my life to a proper time and place, that I may testify that you have been timely warned to their danger."
        2. Before leaving for Nauvoo, the governor disbanded all the militia, except for the McDonough county troops, which he took with him to Nauvoo.
        3. Cyrus Wheelock gain admittance to the jail.
          1. While there he passed a six-shooter to the Prophet, giving both Hyrum and himself a weapon.
          2. He was given a list of witnesses to get for the trial.
        4. The governor left for Nauvoo at 11:00 AM, ignoring his promise to Joseph from the previous day.
        5. Joseph and Hyrum spoke to their companions in the jail bearing ardent testimonies of the Book of Mormon and prophesied that the gospel would triumph over all the earth.
        6. After dinner (lunch as we call it) Willard Richards complained of an upset stomach. Stephen Markham was asked to go out and get some medicine. Mark was refused readmittance to the jail and he was forced to leave.
        7. Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards were the only ones remaining in the jail.
        8. Play excerpt from the Living Scriptures - A Lamb To The Slaughter.
  3. Discussion of Section 135.
    1. This section was written by John Taylor.
    2.  READ 135:1-2. Announcement of Joseph & Hyrum's death.
    3.  READ 135:3. John Taylor's eulogy of Joseph & Hyrum.
        1. A conduit or tool for a restoration of the fulness of the gospel.
        2. Responsible for the coming forth of more scripture than any other prophet.
        3. Through him the keys of eternity were opened to all men that have ever lived on this planet.
    4. Who Was Joseph Smith?
      1. Joseph Smith: "You don't know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself. I never did harm any man since I was born in the world. My voice is always for peace. "I cannot lie down until all my work is finished. I never think any evil, nor do anything to the harm of my fellow-man. When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then." (DHC 6:317)
      2. Brigham Young: "What is the nature and beauty of Joseph's mission? You know that I am one of his Apostles. When I first heard him preach, he brought heaven and earth together; and all the priests of the day could not tell me anything correct about heaven, hell, God, angels, or devils: they were as blind as Egyptian darkness. When I saw Joseph Smith, he took heaven, figuratively speaking, and brought it down to earth; and he took the earth, brought it up, and opened up, in plainness and simplicity, the things of God; and that is the beauty of his mission." (JD 5:332)
      3. Wilford Woodruff: "Joseph Smith was what he professed to be, a prophet of God, a seer and revelator. He laid the foundation of this Church and kingdom, and lived long enough to deliver the keys of the kingdom to the Elders of Israel, unto the Twelve Apostles. He spent the last winter of his life, some three or four months, with the Quorum of the Twelve, teaching them. It was not merely a few hours ministering to them the ordinances of the Gospel; but he spent day after day, week after week and month after month, teaching them and a few others the things of the kingdom of God. Said he, during that period, 'I now rejoice. I have lived until I have seen this burden, which has rested on my shoulders, rolled on to the shoulders of other men; now the keys of the kingdom are planted on the earth to be taken away no more for ever.' But until he had done this, they remained with him; and had he been taken away they would have had to be restored by messengers of of heaven. But he lived until every key, power and principle of the holy Priesthood was sealed on the Twelve and on President Young, as their President. He told us that he was going away to leave us, going away to rest. Said he, 'You have to round up your shoulders to bear up the kingdom. No matter what becomes of me. I have desired to see that Temple built, but I shall not live to see it. You will; you are called upon to bear off this kingdom.' This language was plain enough, but we did not understand it any more than the disciples of Jesus when he told them he was going away, and that if he went not the Comforter would not come. It was just so with Joseph. He said this time after time to the Twelve and to the Female Relief Societies and in his public discourses; but none of seemed to understand that he was going to seal his testimony with his blood, but so it was." (JD 13:164)
      4. Josiah Quincy (former mayor of Boston): "It is by no means improbable that some future textbook, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to the interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the 'Mormon' Prophet. And the reply, absurd as it doubtless seems to most men now living, may be an obvious commonplace to their descendants. History deals in surprises and paradoxes quite as startling as this. The man who established a religion in this age of free debate, who was and is today accepted by hundreds of thousands as a direct emissary from the Most High - such a rare human being is not to be disposed of by pelting his memory with unsavory epithets." (As quoted in B.H. Roberts, Joseph Smith, the Prophet Teacher, pp. 8-9)
      1. Story: My discussion with a non-LDS girl while visiting Temple Square.
  4. Next Week.
    1. Events following the martyrdom and succession in the Presidency.