D&C/CHURCH HISTORY - LESSON 40
- Introductory Comments.
- Follow-up thoughts on Lesson 39.
- Historical Background.
- Events leading up to Joseph's final months in Nauvoo.
- 1842 - John C. Bennett left the church and published an expose' of
the Mormon marriage system calling it an excuse for licentiousness.
- 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.
- In mid-June 1844 he moved to Pittsburgh to raise up a branch of the
- Voting - due to the fairly equal size of the Whig and Democratic parties
in Illinois, the Mormon voting block was sufficient to swing statewide
- The Mormons were responsible for putting Stephen A Douglas into Congress
and Thomas Ford into the governership.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 1844 - Joseph Smith for President.
- 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
- 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".
- The Prophet's platform:
- His platform centered on national reform and getting back to the basic
principles of the founding fathers.
- 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."
- 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."
- 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.
- He foresaw the need for a federal reserve banking system and suggested
that the profits be used to reduce the national debt.
- 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."
- 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.
- A Conspiracy Against The Prophet.
- December 1843: Because of threats from Missouri, Joseph Smith
(as mayor) increased the police force of Nauvoo.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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...."
- 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.
- The publishers fled to Carthage and swore out a warrant for the arrest
of the Prophet on the charge of riot.
- 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!"
- 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.
- 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.
- Over the next few days tensions increased, threats were made, rumors
- Nauvoo was put under martial law.
- All roads into town were guarded.
- The Nauvoo Legion was brought to full strength.
- All mails were cut off from Nauvoo by the mob.
- Like A Lamb To The Slaughter.
- June 20: The Prophet urged Hyrum to take his family and leave
on the next steamboat for Cincinnati, which Hyrum refused to do.
- 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).
- June 21: Governor Ford arrives in Carthage to assess the situation.
- 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
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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)
- That afternoon, Joseph, Hyrum, and the others returned to Nauvoo.
- 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."
- 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.
- Monday - June 24: The Prophet and seventeen others rode for
- 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
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- Wednesday - June 26: The day was spent in the Carthage Jail.
- 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".
- Ford said that the destruction of the Expositor was a high handed measure
surpressing the liberty of speech and the press.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- An appeal was made to the governor who said that we have plenty of
troops and to bring the prisoners out.
- 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.
- 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.
- The prisoners were returned to the Carthage Jail where they spent the
- Thursday - June 27:
- 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.
- 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."
- 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
- Governor Ford's response to Jones: "You are unnecessarily alarmed
for the safety of your friends, sir, the people are not that cruel."
- 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."
- Before leaving for Nauvoo, the governor disbanded all the militia,
except for the McDonough county troops, which he took with him to Nauvoo.
- Cyrus Wheelock gain admittance to the jail.
- While there he passed a six-shooter to the Prophet, giving both Hyrum
and himself a weapon.
- He was given a list of witnesses to get for the trial.
- The governor left for Nauvoo at 11:00 AM, ignoring his promise to Joseph
from the previous day.
- 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.
- 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.
- Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards were the only ones
remaining in the jail.
- Play excerpt from the Living Scriptures - A Lamb To The Slaughter.
- Discussion of Section 135.
- This section was written by John Taylor.
- READ 135:1-2. Announcement of Joseph & Hyrum's death.
- WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS AS YOU READ ABOUT THE MARTYRDOM OF THE PROPHET
JOSEPH SMITH AND HIS BROTHER HYRUM?
- READ 135:3. John Taylor's eulogy of Joseph & Hyrum.
- WHAT MAKES JOSEPH SMITH UNIQUE AMONG THE PROPHETS?
- A conduit or tool for a restoration of the fulness of the gospel.
- Responsible for the coming forth of more scripture than any other prophet.
- Through him the keys of eternity were opened to all men that have ever
lived on this planet.
- Who Was Joseph Smith?
- 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."
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO GAIN A TESTIMONY THAT JOSEPH SMITH WAS A PROPHET
- Story: My discussion with a non-LDS girl while visiting Temple Square.
- WHAT CAN WE DO TO KEEP THIS TESTIMONY STRONG?
- HOW CAN WE SHOW THE LORD OUR GRATITUDE FOR THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH'S
LIFE AND MISSION?
- Next Week.
- Events following the martyrdom and succession in the Presidency.