Volume 6 Chapter 9
Comments on Candidacy of Joseph Smith for President of the United States—Tenders of Peace to Missouri—Preliminary Steps to Western Movement of the Church—James A. Bennett and Vice Presidency.
Wednesday, February 7, 1844.—A piece of doggerel appears in the Warsaw Message of this date, entitled "Buckeye's Lamentations for the Want of More Wives," evidently the production of Wilson Law, and breathing a very foul and malicious spirit.
Thursday, 8.—Held Mayor's court, and tried two negroes for attempting to marry white women: fined one $25, and the other $5. In the evening there was a political meeting in the assembly room, when Brother Phelps publicly read for the first time my "Views of the Powers and Policy of the General Government." I addressed the meeting as follows:—
Views of the Prophet on His Candidacy for President of United States.
I would not have suffered my name to have been used by my friends on anywise as President of the United States, or candidate for that office, if I and my friends could have had the privilege of enjoying our religious and civil rights as American citizens, even those rights which the Constitution guarantees unto all her citizens alike. But this as a people we have been denied from the beginning. Persecution has rolled upon our heads from time to time, from portions of the United States, like peals of thunder, because of our religion; and no portion of the Government as yet has stepped forward for our relief. And in view of these things, I feel it to be my right and privilege to obtain what influence and power I can, lawfully, in the United States, for the protection of injured innocence; and if I lose my life in a good cause I am willing to be sacrificed on the altar of virtue, righteousness and truth, in maintaining the laws and Constitution of the United States, if need be, for the general good of mankind.
I was followed by Elders Hyde an Taylor, and a unanimous vote was taken to maintain my political views.
Friday, 9—Held Mayor's court in my dining-room on the case, "Nauvoo versus William Withers," for assault. Case withdrawn on my recommendation.
This evening a public meeting was held. I extract from the Neighbor:—
On Friday, the 9th instant, a public meeting was held in the assembly room, at which a public address of General Joseph Smith's to the citizens of the United States was read by Judge Phelps. The address is certainly an able document, big with meaning and interest, clearly pointing out the way for the temporal salvation of this Union, showing what would be our best policy, pointing out the rocks and quick-sand where the political bark is in danger of being wrecked, an the way to escape it, and evincing a knowledge and foresight of our political economy worthy of the writer.
Appropriate remarks were made by several gentlemen after the reading of the address.
Saturday, 10.—I instructed the marshal to inform Mr. Cole, who kept a select school in the assembly room, that I must for the future have that room for my own use.
Prayer-meeting in the assembly room. Prayed for Sister Richards and others, who were sick.
A conference was held at Tuscaloosa County, Alabama: Elder John Brown, president; and George W. Stewart, clerk. Three branches were represented, containing nine elders, two priests, three teachers, three deacons, and 123 members.
Sunday, 11.—Snow on the ground. Thaw commenced in the afternoon. I was at home.
Monday, 12.—I sat in the city council, and recommended the repeal of the ordinances entitled "An extra ordinance for the extra case of Joseph Smith," "An ordinance to prevent unlawful search or seizure of persons or property, by foreign 1 process, in the city of Nauvoo," and "An ordinance regulating the currency;" and they were repealed accordingly. The Memorial to Congress, passed December 21, 1843, was again read, and signed y the councilors, aldermen, mayor, recorder, and marshal.
I instructed Councilor Orson Pratt to call all the Illinois representatives together, and tell them our sufferings have been such that we must have that document passed, and we will have it.
"You must go in for it. Go to John Quincy Adams and ask him to call the delegates from Massachusetts separate from the Illinois delegation, and demand the same. Go to Henry Clay and other prominent men. Call public meetings in the city of Washington. Take the saloon, publish the admittance so much per ticket, invite the members of both houses to come and hear you, and roar upon them. You may take all my writings you think anything of and read to them, &c., and you shall prosper in the name of God. Amen."
The recorder presented the report of the attendance of the city council, from which it appears that I have sat with them eleven sessions, from the 14th of October, 1843, to the 16th of January, 1844, inclusive.
Councilor Orson Pratt nominated George P. Stiles as councilor during his absence, which was confirmed by the council.
I burned $81 of city scrip according to ordinance.
Thawing. Streets very dirty.
Tuesday, 13.—I was at home. Settled with Theodore Turley, and gave him the deed of a lot.
Having received an invitation from Brother Joseph L. Heywood to visit Quincy, I wrote him in reply:—
Letter:—Joseph Smith to Joseph L. Heywood—Anent a visit to Quincy.
Nauvoo, February 13, 1844.
Dear Brother Heywood,—I sit down at this time to acknowledge the receipt of, and reciprocate the friendly feelings manifest in yours of the 7th instant; and, although surrounded by a press of business, shall take pleasure in spending a few moments to reply.
I would take the greatest pleasure imaginable in coming down to Quincy on a visit to see you and all my friends in your city, would business and circumstances permit; but it would be a matter of impossibility almost for me to leave home at the present time, in consequence of a multitude of business which I have daily to attend to. Moreover, wisdom and prudence seem to forbid my coming, on account of the bitter feeling which manifests itself in various places between this and Quincy,—not that I have any apprehensions for my personal safety; for the same kind hand which hath hitherto been my shield and support would save me from the power of my wicked persecutors; but something might grow out of it which would prompt my adversaries to get out another illegal writ, and would eventually, probably, cost me some three or four thousand dollars, as in other cases, and under which I have still to labor to disadvantage. Under these considerations, therefore, I am compelled to decline paying you a visit for the present. At the same time, in connection with Mrs. Smith, I tender my warmest acknowledgement for the invitation.
I am pleased to hear of the prosperity of your branch, and hope it will continue; for, although I never feel to force my doctrine upon any person; I rejoice to see prejudice give way to truth, and the traditions of men dispersed by the pure principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I should be please to have the privilege of forming an acquaintance with your partner, Mr. Kimball, and his lady; and should they ever come up this way, I hope they will call and see me.
As respects things in Nauvoo, I have nothing to say but good. Although the mobocrats of this county breathe out their shame with a continual foam, and threaten extermination, &c., the citizens of Nauvoo are at peace; they fear no danger, for the report of mobs has become so common, that the "Mormons" pay no attention to it whatever. Each man minds his own business, and all are making improvements as fast as they can. In fact, things in general seem prosperous and pleasing; and I never saw a better feeling amongst the Saints than at the present time.
My family have been somewhat sick of late, and continue so, especially my youngest boy.
Accept, dear sir, the warmest respects of myself and Mrs. Smith, and please present the same to your lady. In the meantime I remain your friend and brother,
President Brigham Young returned from Bear creek settlements, where he had been preaching for the last few days.
Wednesday, 14.—At home through the day. In the evening the assembly room was filled by the brethren, when my "Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States" was again read. I afterwards spoke on the same subject at a considerable length.
Thursday, 15.—At home. A beautiful day.
I insert the following article from the Times and Seasons:—
Who shall be our Next President?
This is an inquiry which to us as a people is a matter of the most paramount importance, and requires our most serious, calm, and dispassionate reflection. Executive power, when correctly wielded, is a great blessing to the people of this great commonwealth, and forms one of the firmest pillars of our confederation. It watches the interests of the whole community with a fatherly care; it wisely balances the other legislative powers when over-heated by party spirit or sectional feeling; it watches with jealous care our interests and commerce with foreign nations, and gives tone and efficacy to legislative enactments.
The President stands at the head of these United States, and is the mouth-piece of this vast republic. If he be a man of an enlightened mind and a capacious soul,—if he be a virtuous man, a statesman, a patriot, and a man of unflinching integrity,—if he possess the same spirit that fired the souls of our venerable sires, who founded this great commonwealth, and wishes to promote the good of the whole republic, he may indeed be made a blessing to the community.
But if he prostrates his high and honorable calling to base and unworthy purposes,—if he make use of the power which the people have placed in his hands for their interests to gratify his ambition, for the purpose of self-aggrandizement or pecuniary interest,—if he meanly pander with demagogues, loses sight of the interest of the nation, and sacrifice the Union on the altar of sectional interests or party views, he renders himself unworthy of the dignified trust reposed in him, debases the nation in the eyes of the civilized world, and produces misery and confusion at home. "When the wicked rule, the people mourn."
There is perhaps no body of people in the United States who are at the present time more interested about the issue of the presidential contest than are the Latter-day Saints. And our situation in regard to the two great political parties is a most novel one. It is a fact well understood that we have suffered great injustice from the State of Missouri, that we have petitioned to the authorities of that state for redress in vain, that we have also memorialized Congress under the late administration, and have obtained the heartless reply that "Congress has no power to redress your grievances."
After having taken all the legal and constitutional steps that we can, we are still groaning under accumulated wrongs. Is there no power anywhere to redress our grievances? Missouri lacks the disposition and Congress lacks both the disposition and power (?); and thus fifteen thousand inhabitants of these United States can with impunity be dispossessed of their property; have their houses burned, their property confiscated, many of their numbers murdered, and the remainder driven from their homes and left to wander as exiles in this boasted land of freedom and equal rights; and after appealing again and again to the legally-constituted authorities of our land for redress, we are coolly told by our highest tribunals, "We can do nothing for you."
We have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into the coffers of Congress for their lands, and they stand virtually pledged to defend us in our rights, but they have not done it. If a man steals a dollar from his neighbor, or steals a horse or a hog, he [the neighbor] can obtain redress; but we have been robbed by wholesale, the most daring murders have been committed, and we are coolly told that we can obtain no redress. If a steamboat is set on fire on our coast by foreigners, even when she is engaged in aiding and abetting the enemies of that power, it becomes a matter of national interference and legislation; or if a foreigner, as in the case of McLeod, is taken on our land and tried for supposed crimes committed by him against our citizens, his nation interferes, and it becomes a matter of negotiation and legislation. But our authorities can calmly look on and see the citizens of a county butchered with impunity: they can see two counties dispossessed of their inhabitants, their houses burned, and their property confiscated; and when the cries of fifteen thousand men women and children salute their ears, they deliberately tell us that we can obtain no redress.
Hear it, therefore, ye mobbers! Proclaim it to all the scoundrels in the Union! Let a standard be erected around which shall rally all the renegades of the land: assemble yourselves and rob at pleasure; murder till you are satiated with blood; drive men, women and children from their homes: there is no law to protect them, and Congress has no power to redress their grievances; and the great father of the Union (the President) has not got an ear to listen to their complaints.
What shall we do under this state of things? In the event of either of the prominent candidates, Van Buren or Clay, obtaining the presidential chair, we should not be placed in any better situation.
In speaking of Mr. Clay, his politics are diametrically opposed to ours. He inclines strongly to the old school of Federalists, and as a matter of course would not favor our cause, neither could we conscientiously vote for him. And we have yet stronger objections to Mr. Van Buren on other grounds. He has sung the old song of Congress—"Congress has no power to redress your grievances."
But did the matter rest here, it would not be so bad. He was in the presidential chair at the time of our former difficulties. We appealed to him on that occasion, but we appealed in vain, and his sentiments are yet unchanged.
But all these things are tolerable in comparison to what we have yet to state. We have been informed from a respectable source that there is an understanding between Mr. Benton, of Missouri, and Mr. Van Buren, and a conditional compact entered into, that if Mr. Benton will use his influence to get Mr. Van Buren elected, Van Buren when elected, shall use his executive influence to wipe away the stain from Missouri by a further persecution of the "Mormons," and wreaking out vengeance on their heads, either by extermination or by some other summary process. We could scarcely credit the statement; and we hope yet, for the sake of humanity, that the suggestion is false: but we have too good reason to believe that we are correctly informed.
If, then, this is the case, can we conscientiously vote for a man of this description, and put the weapons into his hands to cut our throat with? We cannot. And however much we might wish to sustain the Democratic nomination, we cannot—we will not vote for Van Buren. Our interests, our property, our lives, and the lives of our families are too dear to us to be sacrificed at the shrine of party spirit and to gratify party feelings. We have been sold once in the State of Missouri, and our liberties bartered away by political demagogues, through executive intrigue, and we wish not to be betrayed again by Benton and Van Buren.
Under these circumstances, the question again arises, Whom shall we 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 in 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 in 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; and we feel assured that there is not a man in the United States more competent for the task.
One great reason that we have for pursuing our present course is, that at every election we have been made a political target for the filthy demagogues in the country to shoot their loathsome arrows at. And every story has been put into requisition to blast our fame from the old fabrication of "walk on the water" down to "the murder of ex-Governor Boggs." The journals have teemed with this filthy trash, and even men who ought to have more respect for themselves—men contending for the gubernatorial chair have made use of terms so degrading, so mean, so humiliating, that a Billingsgate fisherwoman would have considered herself disgraced with. We refuse any longer to be thus bedaubed for either party. We tell all such to let their filth flow in its own legitimate channel, for we are sick of the loathsome smell.
Gentlemen, we are not going either to "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 "defraud the poor of their property," nor 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 persons to perform these kind offices for you for the future. We withdraw.
Under existing circumstances, we have no other alternative; and if we can accomplish our object, well: if not, we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that we have acted conscientiously, and have used our best judgment. And if we have to throw away our votes, we had better do so upon a worthy rather than upon an unworthy individual, who might make use of the weapon we put in his hand to destroy us with.
Whatever may be the opinions of men in general in regard to Mr. Smith, we know that he needs only to be known to be admired; and that it is the principles of honor, integrity, patriotism, and philanthropy that have elevated him in the minds of his friends; and the same principles, if seen and known, would beget the esteem and confidence of all the patriotic and virtuous throughout the Union.
Whatever, therefore, be the opinions of other men, our course is marked out, and our motto henceforth will be—General Joseph Smith.
Friday, 16.—At home. This evening I spent two hours in the office. Settled with Brother Whitney; gave him deed of several town lots, and took his receipt in full.
Saturday, 17.—I wrote the following article:—
The very candid, pacific, and highly creditable advice which Governor Ford has done himself the honor to address to "the citizens of Hancock county, Mormons and all," and which appears in the Warsaw Signal of the 14th instant, is like the balm of Gilead, well calculated to ease the pain which has troubled the heads and hearts of the Carthagenians, Warsawvians, and other over-jealous bodies for weal and woe.
It certainly must be admitted, on all hands, that Governor Ford has exalted himself as a mediator, patriot, lawyer, governor, peacemaker, and friend of all, not only to magnify the law and make it honorable, but also in pointing out the part of peace.
Such is what the Latter-day Saints have ever sought at the hands of those in authority; and with an approving conscience clear as the crystal spring, and with a laudable intention warm as the summer zephyr, and with a charitable prayer mellow as the morning dew, it is now our highest consolation to hope that all difficulties will cease, and give way to reason, sense, peace, and goodwill.
The Saints, if they will be humble and wise, can now practice what they preach, and soften by good examples, rather than harden by a distant course of conduct, the hearts of the people.
For general information, it may be well to say that there has never been any cause for alarm as to the Latter-day Saints. The legislature of Illinois granted a liberal charter for the City of Nauvoo; and let every honest man in the Union who has any knowledge of her say whether she has not flourished beyond the most sanguine anticipations of all. And while they witness her growing glory, let them solemnly testify whether Nauvoo has willfully injured the country, county, or a single individual one cent.
With the strictest scrutiny publish the facts, whether a particle of law has been evaded or broken: virtue and innocence need no artificial covering. Political views and party distinctions never should disturb the harmony of society; and when the whole truth comes before a virtuous people, we are willing to abide the issue.
We will here refer to the three last dismissals upon writs of habeas corpus, of Joseph Smith, when arrested under the requisitions of Missouri.
The first, in June, 1841, was tried at Monmouth, before Judge Douglas, of the fifth judicial circuit: and as no exceptions have been taken to that decision by the state of Missouri—but Missouri previously entered a nolle prosequi on all the old indictments against the Mormons in the difficulties of 1838—it is taken and granted that decision was just!
The second, in December, 1842, was tried at Springfield before Judge Pope in the U. S. District Court; and from that honorable discharge, as no exceptions from any source have been made to those proceedings, it follows as a matter of course that that decision was just!
And the third, in July, 1843, was tried at the city of Nauvoo, before the Municipal Court of said city; and as no exceptions to that discharge have been taken, and as the governor says there is "evidence on the other side to show that the sheriff of Lee county voluntarily carried Mr. Reynolds (who had Mr. Smith in custody,) to the city of Nauvoo without any coercion on the part of any one," it must be admitted that that decision was just!
But is any man unconvinced of the justness of these strictures relative to the two last cases, let the astounding fact go forth, that Orrin Porter Rockwell, whom Boggs swore was the principal in his [attempted] assassination, and as accessory to which Mr. Smith was arrested, has returned home, "clear of sin." In fact, there was not a witness to get up an indictment against him.
The Messrs. Averys, who were unlawfully transported out of this state, have returned to their families in peace; and there seems to be no ground for contention. no cause for jealousy, and no excuse for a surmise that any man, woman, or child will suffer the least inconvenience from General Smith, the charter of Nauvoo, the city of Nauvoo, or even any of her citizens.
There is nothing for a bone of contention! Even those ordinances which appeared to excite the feeling of some people have recently been repealed; so that if the "intelligent" inhabitants of Hancock county want peace, want to abide by the Governor's advice, want to have a character at home, and really mean to follow the Savior's golden rule, "To do unto others as they would wish others to do unto them," they will be still now, and let their own works praise them in the gates of justice and in the eyes of the surrounding world. Wise men ought to have understanding enough to conquer men with kindness.
"A soft answer turneth away wrath," says the wise man; and it will be greatly to the credit of the Latter-day Saints to show the love of God, by now kindly treating those who may have, in an unconscious moment, done wrong; for truly said Jesus, Pray for thine enemies.
Humanity towards all, reason and refinement to enforce virtue, and good for evil are so eminently designed to cure more disorders of society than an appeal to arms, or even argument untempered with friendship, and the one thing needful that no vision for the future, guide-board for the distant, or expositor for the present, need trouble any one with what he ought to do.
His own good, his family's good, his neighbor's good, his country's good, and all good seem to whisper to every person—The governor has told you what to do. Now do it.
The constitution expects every man to do his duty; and when he fails the law urges him; or should he do too much, the same master rebukes him.
Should reason, liberty, law, light, and philanthropy now guide the destinies of Hancock county with as much sincerity as has been manifested for her notoriety or welfare, there can be no doubt that peace, prosperity, and happiness will prevail, and that future generations as well as the present one will call Governor Ford a peacemaker. The Latter-day Saints will, at all events, and profit by the instruction, and call upon honest men to help them cherish all the love, all the friendship, all the courtesy, all the kindly feelings, and all the generosity that ought to characterize clever people in a clever neighborhood, and leave candid men to judge which tree exhibits the best fruit—the one with the most clubs and sticks thrown into its boughs and the grass trodden down under it, or the one with no sticks in it, some dead limbs, and rank grass growing under it; for by their signs ye can know their fruit, and by the fruit ye know the trees.
Our motto, then, is Peace with all! If we have joy in the love of God, let us try to give a reason of that joy, which all the world cannot gainsay or resist. And may be, like as when Paul started with recommendations to Damascus to persecute the Saints, some one who has raised his hand against us with letters to men in high places may see a light at noonday, above the brightness of the sun, and hear the voice of Jesus saying, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."
Intelligence is sometimes the messenger of safety. And, willing to aid the governor in his laudable endeavors to cultivate peace and honor the laws, believing that very few of the citizens of Hancock county will be found in the negative of such a goodly course, and considering his views a kind of manifesto, or olive leaf, which shows that there is rest for the soles of the Saints' feet we give it a place in the Neighbor, wishing it God speed, and saying, God bless good men and good measures! And as Nauvoo has been, so it will continue to be, a good city, affording a good market to a good country; and let those who do not mean to try the way of transgressors, say "Amen."
The High Council met and settled several cases of difficulty betwixt brethren.
Anti-Mormon Convention at Carthage.
The Anti-Mormons held a convention at Carthage, the object being to devise ways and means of expelling the Saints from the State. Among other resolutions was one appointing the 9th of March next as the day of fasting and prayer, wherein the pious of all orders are requested to pray to Almighty God that He would speedily bring the false Prophet Joseph Smith to deep repentance, or that He will make a public example of him and his leading accomplices.
The ice broke up in the river.
Sunday, 18.—Beautiful day. Southwest wind.
A very large assembly of the Saints met at the stand, near the Temple, when I preached a lengthy discourse.
Four P.M., went to my office with Hyrum and two gentlemen from St. Louis. Heard Dr. Richards read my correspondence with Senator Calhoun, and Phelps read my "Views of the Power and Policy of the General Government."
At seven, attended prayer-meeting in the assembly room.
Monday, 19.—At nine A.M. went to my office with Dr. Bernhisel, who proposed some alterations in my views of the government. Phelps read the same, and the doctor seemed better pleased with it than before.
To the Editor of the Neighbor:—
Sir,—I wish to say to you, as there seems to be a prospect of peace, that it will be more love-like, more God-like, and man-like, to say nothing about the Warsaw Signal.
If the editor breathes out that old sulphurous blast, let him go and besmear his reputation and the reputation of those that uphold him with soot and dirt, but as for us and all honest men, we will act well our part, for there the honor lies.
We will honor the advice of Governor Ford, cultivate peace and friendship with all, mind our own business, and come off with flying colors, respected, because, in respecting others, we respect ourselves.
Respectfully, I am
A conference was held in Halifax, Halifax county, Nova Scotia, Elder Robert Dickson, president. Two branches were represented, consisting of thirty members, three elders, one priest, one teacher, and two deacons.
The wild geese commenced flying north.
Delegation from Lyman Wight on Indian Affairs.
Tuesday, 20.—At ten A.M. went to my office, where the Twelve Apostles and some others met in council with Brothers Mitchell Curtis and Stephen Curtis who left the pinery on Black River, 1st January. They were sent by Lyman Wight and Bishop Miller to know whether Lyman should preach to the Indians, the Menominees and Chippeways having requested it.
The Chippeways had given Brother Wight some wampum as a token of peace, and the brethren had given them half a barrel of flour and an ox to keep the Indians from starving, and Wight had gone through to Green Bay with them to make a road.
I told them to tell Brother Wight I had no counsel to give him on the subject. He is there on his own ground and must act on his own responsibility, and do what he thinks best in relation to the Indians, understanding the laws and nature of the subject as well as I can here, and he shall never be brought into difficulty about it by us.
Western Movement for the Church Contemplated
I instructed the Twelve Apostles to send out a delegation and investigate the locations of California and Oregon, and hunt out a good location, where we can remove to after the temple is completed, and where we can build a city in a day, and have a government of our own, get up into the mountains, where the devil cannot dig us out, and live in a healthful climate, where we can live as old as we have a mind to.
Warm. The ice floating down the river.
A Wolf Hunt Called for Hancock Co.
A meeting of the citizens of Hancock county was held at the court-house in Carthage. Passed a resolution that the second Saturday of March be appointed for a general wolf-hunt, being the same day selected by the convention of the 17th instant for a day of fasting and prayer for my destruction.
The Prophet on the Necessity of Complete Obedience to God.
Wednesday 21.—The Rev. Mr. De Wolfe, Episcopalian, lectured in the assembly room in the evening. I attended and, after the sermon, at his request, spoke to the people, showing them that to get salvation we must not only do some things, but everything which God has commanded. Men may preach and practice everything except those things which God commands us to do, and will be damned at last. We may tithe mint and rue, and all manner of herbs, and still not obey the commandments of God. The object with me is to obey and teach others to obey God in just what He tells us to do. It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it.
My Pacific Inuendo, written on the 17th instant, appeared in the Neighbor of to-day, in connection with Governor Ford's letter of the 29th of January.
Ice left the west bank of the river, opposite the lower brick house.
Very warm and pleasant.
Council of the Twelve met in my office. I insert the minutes:—
Minutes of a Council Meeting of the Twelve.
At a meeting of the Twelve, at the mayor's office, Nauvoo, February 21, 1844, seven o'clock, P.M., Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, George A. Smith, Willard Richards and four others being present, called by previous notice, by instruction of President Joseph Smith on the 20th instant, for the purpose of selecting a company to explore Oregon and California, and select a site for a new city for the Saints.
Jonathan Dunham, Phineas H. Young, David D. Yearsley, and David Fullmer, volunteered to go; and Alphonzo Young, James Emmett, George D. Watt, and Daniel Spencer were requested to go.
Voted the above persons to be notified to meet with the council on Friday evening next, at the assembly room,
Willard Richards, Clerk.
Thursday, 22.—At home.
Ice continues to run in the river. Very pleasant, cool nights.
Friday, 23.—W. W. Phelps received a letter from John Whitmer in relation to certain records, and a book containing some of the early history of the Church which had been written by my clerks, and was Church property, and which had been fraudulently detained from my possession by John Whitmer; to which Dr. Richards replied.
The Western Exploring Equipment.
Met with the Twelve in the assembly room concerning the Oregon and California Exploring Expedition; Hyrum and Sidney present. I told them I wanted an exploration of all that mountain country. Perhaps it would be best to go direct to Santa Fe. "Send twenty-five men: let them preach the Gospel wherever they go. Let that man go that can raise $500, a good horse and mule, a double barrel gun, one-barrel rifle, and the other smooth bore, a saddle and bridle, a pair of revolving pistols, bowie-knife, and a good sabre. Appoint a leader, and let them beat up for volunteers. I want every man that goes to be a king and a priest. When he gets on the mountains he may want to talk with his God; when with the savage nations have power to govern, &c. If we don't get volunteers, wait till after the election."
George D. Watt said, "Gentlemen, I shall go." Samuel Bent, Joseph A. Kelting, David Fullmer, James Emmett, Daniel Spencer, Samuel Rolfe, Daniel Avery, and Samuel W. Richards, volunteered to go.
Saturday, 24.—At home. Had an interview with Brother Phelps at nine o'clock.
Seth Palmer, Amos Fielding, Charles Shumway, and John S. Fullmer volunteered to go to Oregon and California.
Fifteen hundred copies of my "Views" out of press.
Very pleasant the past two weeks; the pleasantest February I ever saw.
President Brigham Young went to Knowlton's settlement on Bear creek, and preached.
Sunday, 25.—I preached at the temple block. Hyrum also preached.
A Prophecy of Deliverance of the Saints
Evening, I attended prayer-meeting in the assembly room, We prayed that "General Joseph Smith's Views of the Powers and Policy of the United States," might be spread far and wide, and be the means of opening the hearts of the people. I gave some important instructions, and prophesied that within five years we should be out of the power of our old enemies, whether they were apostates or of the world; and told the brethren to record it, that when it comes to pass they need not say they had forgotten the saying.
Some rain in the evening; cloudy and foggy.
Monday, 26.—At home. A cold wind from the north. Rainy, dull day.
The Case of Botswick Slander of Hyrum Smith.
In the afternoon, held court at the Mansion. City of Nauvoo versus Orsimus F. Botswick, on complaint of Hyrum Smith for slanderous language concerning him and certain females of Nauvoo. Botswick was fined $50 and costs. Francis M. Higbee, his attorney, gave notice he should appeal to the municipal court, and then to the circuit court. I told Higbee what I thought of him for trying to carry such a suit to Carthage—it was to stir up the mob and bring them upon us.
Prayer-meeting in the assembly room in the afternoon. My uncle John Smith and lady were present, were anointed, and received blessings; and in the evening Father Morley was also blessed.
Ira S. Miles volunteered to join the mountain exploring expedition.
Tuesday, 27,—At home, Cool and clear. River clear of ice.
In the afternoon, visited the printing office.
Mailed my "Views of Powers and Policy," &c., to the President and cabinet, supreme judges, senators, representatives, principal newspapers in the United States, (all the German), and many postmasters and individuals.
Almon L. Fullmer and Hosea Stout volunteered to go on the Western Exploring Expedition.
Wednesday, 28.—At home. Rainy day.
At four, P.M., steamboat General Brooke passed up the river: first boat this season. No ice in sight.
In the evening I sent Brother Coolidge to Brother Phelps, to call the brethren and pray for Brother Coolidge's sick child, as he thought it could not live till morning. Elder John Taylor and others prayed for him.
Dr. Alphonzo Young published an appeal to his native state of Tennessee, giving a history of our Missouri troubles, and asking the influence of that state to obtain redress.
The Neighbor of to-day publishes the following:—
For President, Joseph Smith
Having now raised the name of our General and Prophet to the head of our columns, it becomes us, as Latter day Saints, to be prudent and energetic in the cause that we pursue, and not let any secondary influences control our minds or govern our proceedings.
The step that we have taken is a bold one, and requires our united efforts, perseverance, and diligence; but important as it may be, it is no greater than others have taken, and they have conceived that they had a right, without molestation, to pursue that course, and to vote for that man whose election they in their wisdom thought would be most conducive to the public weal.
As American citizens, then we presume that all will concede to us this right; and whatever may be their views respecting the policy of such a step, they will acknowledge that we act legally, justly, and constitutionally in pursuing our present course.
Some have nominated Henry Clay, some Colonel Johnson, others John C. Calhoun, others Daniel Webster, and others Martin Van Buren.
Those several committees, unquestionably thought that they had each of them made the wisest selection in naming the man of their choice. They selected their several candidates because they thought they were the wisest, the greatest statesmen, and the most competent to fill the presidential chair, whilst they severally thought that the other candidates were incompetent.
We have governed by the same principles; and if others think they have made the wisest selection, so do we. If others think they have nominated the greatest statesman, so do we; and while those several committees think that none of the nominations made are so good as their own, we think that the man of our choice is the most able, the most competent, the best qualified, and would fill the Presidential chair with greater dignity to the nation; and that his election would be conducive of more happiness and prosperity at home and abroad than that of any other man in these United States.
This is a thing that we, as Latter-day Saints, know; and it now devolves upon us as an imperative duty to make others acquainted with the same things, and to use all our influence at home and abroad for the accomplishment of this object.
Mr. Smith is not so generally known personally as are several of the above-named candidates; and although he has been much spoken of as a man, he has been a great deal calumniated and misrepresented, and his true character is very little known.
It is for us to take away this false coloring; and by lecturing, by publishing, and circulating his works, his political views, his honor, integrity and virtue, to stop the foul mouth of slander, and present him before the public in his own colors, that he may be known, respected, and supported.
Thomas S. Edwards volunteered to join the exploring expedition to the Rocky Mountains.
A Reply Sketched to Cassius M. Clay.
Thursday, 29.—Called at my office, and gave Brother Phelps the Zanesville Gazette of January 31, containing the speech of Cassius M. Clay, delivered in Scott county, Kentucky, December 30, 1843, on annexing Texas to the United States; and instructed him to reply to the same, and gave him the subject matter, and directed the manner I wished it done; and then rode out with Porter Rockwell.
The steamer Ohio went up the river.
Moses Smith and Rufus Beach volunteered to join the Oregon exploring expedition.
Friday, March 1.—Very frosty night; showery day, west wind.
Spent the day in counseling.
Letters from the elders show a rapid progress of the work of the Lord in different parts of the Union. Elder John E. Page has gone to Washington for the purpose of proclaiming to the rulers of our nation the principles of eternal truth. By a letter received from him, we learn he has been preaching and baptizing in Boston and vicinity.
The High Council to the Saints in Nauvoo.
The High Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Nauvoo to the Saints of this [Nauvoo] Stake, greeting.
Beloved Brethren,—Realizing as we do, the importance of the work in which we are engaged, we deem it expedient to lay before you such matters from time to time as in our opinion will be beneficial to the Saints, and the spirit in us may seem to require.
We would remind our brethren, the elders, who have at sundry times been sent forth as flaming heralds, messengers of the everlasting Gospel, who proclaim a message of salvation to their fellow-men, thereby gathering and bringing up to Zion the scattered elect of God, to be taught more perfectly he principles of salvation; that whilst their message is abroad we have had our mission to remain at Nauvoo and to participate with the Saints in the blessing of poverty, if such it may be called; amid sickness and distress, in the vexations and turmoils of the unruly and ungodly, for which no man has paid us, for days, weeks, months, and years; that our time has been spent in endeavoring to settle difficulties, set in order the things needful to salvation; in trying to reconcile and cement the feelings of our brethren to each other in the spirit of the Gospel; whilst at times, circumstances of a more painful nature have been presented.
Individuals have been brought before us charged with high crimes in violation of the laws of heaven, on whom much patient exertion in the labors of love have by us been bestowed, to reclaim them from the error and evil of their doings.
We regret to have it to say that in some instances our efforts have been fruitless; for after we have found in them an obstinate and unyielding spirit to the principles of right, we have (reluctantly) been compelled to sever them from the Church as withered branches.
Such persons not unfrequently manifest their wickedness by their trifling with and bidding defiance to all and every good rule, regulation and law, set forth for the guidance of all Saints.
One single trait of their depravity is frequently manifested by their going to some ignorant elder and getting re-baptized into the Church, not having first made the least satisfaction (as was required) to such as they have injured.
We have to say that baptism in such cases is not valid and cannot profit. We here continue to say; let such expelled person first be reconciled to his injured brother, and bring forth fruit mete for repentance; or, in case of dissatisfaction with our decision, take an appeal and reverse it, if found wrong.
Expelled persons not complying with these rules (which are in accordance with the order of heaven), whom we have been once necessitated to withdraw fellowship from, cannot be restored in any illegal way; and we would say that all such clandestine entering into the Church is climbing up some other way, and that such persons can only be considered as thieves and robbers. We would also remind the elders that it is improper for them to re-baptize any such expelled persons while they remain thus obstinate; and that it will subject them to censure, and bring them to trial before a proper tribunal of the Church.
We therefore hope, for the future, that certain officious, forward-feeling elders will be more prudent in such cases hereafter.
We remain yours in the bonds of the new and everlasting covenant,
Charles C. Rich,
Samuel Bent, L. Dunbar Wilson,
David Fullmer, Thomas Grover,
Newell Knight, Leonard Soby,
James Allred, Alpheus Cutler,
George W. Harris, Aaron Johnson,
William Huntington, Sen., Henry G. Sherwood,
Hosea Stout, Clerk.
The Times and Seasons of March 1st presents my name to the public as candidate for president of the United States.
Jonathan Dunham filed his bonds with the recorder, and took the oath of office as wharf-master of the city of Nauvoo.
Elder Wilford Woodruff very sick; the 37th anniversary of his birthday.
Saturday, 2.—Ten A.M. held Mayor's court. Reproved Elder S. B. Stoddard for giving appearance of evil in attempting to be bail for Orsimus F. Boswick. Brother Stoddard afterwards explained to my satisfaction.
President Brigham Young visited Macedonia, accompanied by his brother, L. D. Young, and preached there on the Sabbath.
Sunday, 3.—Ground covered with snow. Attended prayer-meeting in the evening.
Monday, 4.—I suggested the name of James Arlington Bennett, of Long Island, as a candidate for Vice-President.
At early candle-light, the First Presidency, Twelve Apostles, temple committee, and others, met in council.
I insert the minutes.
Minutes of a Council Meeting—Twelve and Temple Committee.
George Coray came in, and said he was sent by Lyman Wight to get sheep, &c, to carry to the Pine country, to receipt for them, or agree to pay lumber.
President Joseph suggested that it was best to let the Nauvoo House remain as it is until the temple is completed, as we need the temple more than anything else.
Elder Haws said there was some dissatisfaction about being sent from the Pinery without accounts, &c., and could not have credit on tithing, and one month at the Pinery is only called fifteen days here.
President Joseph told them that they should have their number of days in full. "We will let the Nauvoo house stand until the temple is done, and we will put all our forces on the Temple, turn our lumber towards the Temple, and cover it in this fall, and sell the remainder to get blasting powder, fuse, rope, steel, &c.
And when the temple is completed, no man shall pass the threshold till he has paid five dollars; and every stranger shall pay five dollars towards liquidating the cash debts on the Temple, and I will not have the house dirtied.
Let Woodworth go to the pinery, take the things wanted, and bring back the lumber, and his wages go on as usual.
Let a special conference be called on the 6th of April, and all the elders called home who can come. Let the people of this city come together on Thursday, at nine o'clock in the morning. After two or three lectures, we will call on the people to fill up the boxes with liberal contributions, to procure cash materials for the temple.
I instructed a letter to be written to James Arlington Bennett to consult him on the subject of nominating him for Vice-President. I here insert the letter:—
Letter—Willard Richards to James Arlington Bennett—The Matter of Bennett Becoming Candidate for Vice-President of U. S.
Nauvoo, March 4, 1844.
Dear General,—Yours of the 1st of February, was duly received, and produced the most pleasing sensations among your friends here, and especially with the Prophet, who said, "Tell General Bennett I am perfectly satisfied with his explanation; and as to temper, I had not even thought of it."
You suggest that Brother Joseph's correspondence with Mr. Calhoun would appear in some degree to contradict the noble sentiments expressed in that able document to yourself; but if you will notice that his communication to you was written as an individual, and that to Mr. Calhoun as the voice of the people he represents, I think you will discover no discrepancy; but if so, tell me particulars without delay, and you shall have an explanation.
I have recently mailed to you General Smith's "Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States," which were drawn forth in consequence of his friends selecting him as a candidate for the next Presidency, which he very reluctantly acquiesced in, and it seems would not, only to support a favorite maxim—"The people must govern;" but having once been prevailed upon to suffer his name to go abroad as a candidate, it is desirable to him of course, as to every patriot, that those who have brought him forward should use all honorable means to sustain him in the canvass; and if I had not felt disposed to uphold him before the people, I never would have been the first to urge his nomination; and during the short space since his name has been published, his friends have been astonished at the flood of influence that is rolling through the Western States in his favor, and in many instances where we might have least expected it.
I need not assert what the wisest of the wise admit without argument—that General Smith is the greatest statesman of the 19th century. Then why should not the nation secure to themselves his superior talents, that they may rise higher and higher in the estimation of the crowned heads of the nations and exalt themselves through his wisdom?
Your friends here consider your letter about the Governorship of Illinois just like every man in your quarter, mere sport, child's sport; for who would stoop to the play of a single State, when the whole nation was on the board?—a cheaper game!
General Smith says, if he must be President, Arlington Bennett must be Vice-President. To this his friends are agreed—agreed in everything; and in this consists our power: consequently, your name will appear in our next paper as our candidate for Vice-President of the United States. You will receive our undivided support, and we expect the same in return for General Smith for the Presidency; and we will go it with the rush of a whirlwind, so peaceful, so gentle, that it will not be felt by the nation till the battle is won.
Dear General, if glory, honor, force, and power in righteous principles are desired by you, now is your time. You are safe in following the counsel of that man who holds communion with heaven; and I assure you, if you act well your part, victory's the prize.
Brother Arlington, look well to "General Smith's Views," and his letter to Calhoun, and comprehend him fully. Say to the New York Herald, now is the time for your exaltation; raise your standard high, sound your trumpet long and loud, support General Smith and myself at the next election; and when we are exalted, you shall not be forgotten.
Hold forth no false shadows to honest men; yet though there is but one best piece to the fatted calf, yet there are many good slices; therefore you will not forget the "Advertiser," "Niles Register," "Globe," &c., &c.
Get up an electoral ticket—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and any other state within your reach. Open your mouth wide, and God shall fill it. Cut your quill, and the ink shall flow freely.
Commence at your own mansion and stay not, only for electioneering purposes, till by some popular route you reach Nauvoo; and if you preach Mormonism it will help you. At every stage, tavern, boat and company, expose the wickedness of Martinism in saying, if he is elected President, he will annihilate the Mormons, and proclaim the sycophancy of the candidates generally, and uphold Joseph against every aspersion and you shall triumph gloriously.
We have many things to say to you, which we must keep till we see you face to face.
All is right at Nauvoo. We are now fitting out a noble company to explore Oregon and California, and progressing rapidly with the great Temple, which we expect to roof this season, though there is yet a chance at the eleventh hourfor you to bring in your thousand, and secure your "penny."
On the 6th of April is our special conference at Nauvoo. I wish you could be here on that occasion, but the time is too short. From that period our Elders will go forth by hundreds or thousands and search the land, preaching religion and politics; and if God goes with them, who can withstand their influence?
My words are the words of your friends here—Come and see us. Brother Joseph's, Young's, and Bernhisel's respects to you. Mrs. Richards' kind respects with mine to yourself and love to all yours.
Most respectfully yours,
The temple committee proposed to establish a powder manufactory.