President Smith Arrested for Riot in Relation to “Expositor” Affair—Habeas Corpus Proceedings before Municipal Court—A Call from Arkansas—The Prophets’s Dreams—Mass Meeting at Warsaw—Letters to Governor Ford on “Expositor” Affair.
Wednesday, June 12, 1844.—At 10 A.M. in my office.
At half-past one I was arrested by David Bettisworth on the following writ:
State of Illinois,
Hancock County. ss.
The People of the State of Illinois to all Constables, Sheriffs and Coroners of State, Greeting:
Whereas complaint hath been made before me, one of the justices of the peace within and for the county of Hancock aforesaid, upon the oath of Francis M. Higbee of said county, that Joseph Smith, Samuel Bennett, John Taylor and William W. Phelps, Hyrum Smith, John P. Greene, Stephen Perry, Dimick B. Huntington, Jonathan Dunham, Stephen Markham, William Edwards, Jonathan Holmes, Jesse P. Harmon, John Lytle, Joseph W. Coolidge, Harvey D. Redfield, Porter Rockwell and Levi Richards, of said county did on the 10th day of June instant commit a riot at and within the county aforesaid, wherein they, with force and violence broke into the office of the Nauvoo Expositor, and unlawfully and with force burned and destroyed the printing press, type and fixtures of the same, being the property of William Law, Wilson Law, Charles Ivins, Francis M. Higbee, Chauncey L. Higbee, Robert D. Foster, and Charles A. Foster.
These are therefore to command you forthwith to apprehend the said Joseph Smith, Samuel Bennett, John Taylor, William W. Phelps, Hyrum Smith, John P. Greene, Stephen Perry, Dimick B. Huntington, Jonathan Dunham, Stephen Markham, William Edwards, Jonathan Holmes, Jesse P. Harmon, John Lytle, Joseph W. Coolidge, Harvey D. Redfield, Porter Rockwell and Levi Richards, and bring them before me or some other justice of the peace, to answer the premises, and further to be dealt with according to Law.
Given under my hand and seal at Carthage, in the county aforesaid, this 11th day of June. A. D. 1844.[Seal]
Thomas Morrison, J. P.
The Prophet Asserts his Rights Under the Law.
After the officer got through reading the writ, I referred him to the clause in the writ—”Before me or some other justice of the peace or said county,” saying, “We are ready to go to trial before Esquire Johnson or any justice in Nauvoo, according to the requirements of the writ;” but Bettisworth swore he would be damned but he would carry them to Carthage before Morrison, who issued the writ and seemed very wrathy. I asked him if he intended to break the law, for he knew the privilege of the prisoners, and they should have it. I called upon all present to witness that I then offered myself (Hyrum did the same) to go forthwith before the nearest justice of the peace, and also called upon them to witness whether the officer broke the law or not.
I felt so indignant at his abuse in depriving me of the privilege of the statute of Illinois in going before “some other justice,” that I determined to take out a writ of habeas corpus, and signed the following petition:
The Prophet’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.
State of Illinois, City of Nauvoo.
To the Honorable Municipal Court in and for the said City of Nauvoo:
Your petitioner, Joseph Smith, respectfully represents that he is now under arrest in the said city of Nauvoo.
That he is in the custody of one David Bettisworth, a constable in and for said county of Hancock, who holds your petitioner, as he says by virtue of a warrant issued by one Thomas Morrison, an acting justice of the peace in and for the said county of Hancock, and State of Illinois, which warrant was issued upon the affidavits of one Francis M. Higbee, charging your petitioner with being guilty of a riot, or of having committed a riot within the county aforesaid.
Your petitioner further represents that the warrant of arrest, by virtue of which the said David Bettisworth has made this arrest, does not disclose sufficiently clear and explicit the charge they have preferred.
Your petitioner further avers that this proceeding against him has been instituted through malice, private pique and corruption.
Your petitioner further avers that the design and intention of the said F. M. Higbee in commencing this prosecution is to commit and carry out more easily a conspiracy against the life of your petitioner; and that the said Higbee has publicly declared that it was his determination to do everything in his power to throw your petitioner into the hands of his enemies: and that there is a determination upon the part of said Higbee and his unhallowed coadjutors to commit an unlawful act, and to set the rights and privileges of your petitioner at defiance, and bring down upon his head this corrupt and unhallowed prosecution.
Your petitioner further avers that he is not guilty of the charge preferred against him; that he seeks an investigation before an impartial tribunal, and fears not the result.
Your petitioner would therefore ask your honorable body to grant him the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus, that this matter may be investigated upon legal principles, and that the legal and constitutional rights of your petitioner may be determined by your honorable body. And your petitioner, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Subscribed and sworn to this 12th day of June, 1844, before me.
Willard Richards, M. C. C. N.
Whereupon the clerk issued the following:
Petition of the Prophet Granted.
State of Illinois, City of Nauvoo.
The People of the State of Illinois to the Marshal of Said City Greeting:
Whereas, application has been made before the Municipal Court of said city, that the body of one Joseph Smith, of the city aforesaid, is in the custody of one David Bettisworth, constable of the county of Hancock, and State aforesaid.
These are therefore to command the said David Bettisworth, constable as aforesaid, to safely have the body of said Joseph Smith, of the city aforesaid, in his custody detained, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his caption and detention, by whatsoever name the said Joseph Smith may be known or called, before the Municipal Court of the said city forthwith, to abide such order as the said court shall make in his behalf. And further, if the said David Bettisworth, or other person or persons having said Joseph Smith of said city of Nauvoo in custody shall refuse or neglect to comply with the provisions of this writ, you, the marshal of said city, or other person authorized to serve the same, are hereby required to arrest the person or persons so refusing or neglecting to comply, as aforesaid, and bring him or them together with the person or persons in his or their custody, forthwith before the Municipal Court aforesaid, to be dealt with according to law. And herein fail not, and bring this writ with you.
Witness, Willard Richards, clerk of the Municipal Court at Nauvoo, this 12th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-four.[Seal]
Clerk of the Municipal Court of the City of Nauvoo.
At 5 P.M. I appeared before the Municipal Court on the above habeas corpus. The following is a copy of their docket.
Hearing on the Expositor affairs Before the Municipal Court of Nauvoo—Habeas Corpus Proceedings.
Special session, June 12th, 1844, 5 o’clock P.M.
Present—Alderman N. K. Whitney, Orson Spencer, George W. Harris, Gustavus Hills, Elias Smith, and Samuel Bennett, associate justices. The Mayor being on trial, George W. Harris was elected president pro tem.
John P. Greene, Marshal, made his return on the writ of habeas corpus; “the body of Joseph Smith in court.”
David Bettisworth made his return on the copy of the warrant which was attached to the petition as follows:—”I hold the body of Joseph Smith by virtue of a writ, of which the within is a copy. David Bettisworth, constable.”
7th section of Addenda of City Ordinance read by Councilor George P. Styles. Resolution of City Council June 10th, 1844, declaring printing establishment of the Nauvoo Expositor a nuisance read. Mayor’s order to the Marshal to execute the same was also read, and Lieut.-General’s order of June 10th, 1844, to Major-General Dunham to assist the Marshal to destroy said printing establishment.
Theodore Turley sworn, said that the order of the Marshal was executed quietly and peaceably. There was no riot or disturbance, no noise, no exultation; the Marshal endeavored to keep peace and silence, and the officers did also. The two companies under command of Dunham and Markham retired in perfect order; no exultation or shouting. Marched in front of the Mansion, and were dismissed.
J. R. Wakefield confirmed the statements of Theodore Turley: said the Marshal stated his authority, and demanded the keys of the building, which Higbee denied; and Marshal ordered the door to be forced, and the press was broken, and type pied in the street.
James Jackson, sworn, confirmed the statements of previous witnesses; heard no noise on opening the door. Most of the confusion he heard was Higbee and his company throwing blackguard language to the posse, which they did not regard: saw the whole proceedings till they were dismissed; all was done in order. Higbee’s blackguard language was not answered to at all by the ranks. Heard nothing said about shooting. Heard some one damn the city authorities. Understood it was Charles Foster. I am a stranger in this place.
John Kay, Robert Clift, Augustus A. Farnham, Joseph A. Kelting, Henry G. Sherwood, Augustus Stafford, Cyrus Canfield, John Gleason sworn.
Henry G. Sherwood confirmed the statements of previous witnesses. Pullin called for Dr. Foster and the officer commanded silence. Francis M. Higbee’s threats have been lavish towards General Smith and Hyrum for a long time; has threatened injury upon them and the property of the Smiths. His conspiracies and threats have not been a little.
Orrin P. Rockwell sworn. Some three or four weeks ago said Francis M. Higbee said he would go his death against Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Francis said, “I know my course is wrong; but if I stop I shall get hell, and if I go on I shall only get hell;” and would do what he intended at the risk of his life, and would destroy the General if possible. Said the Council had ordered the press destroyed and “who lays his hands on the press it is death to them.” Witness has frequently heard Higbee tell lies about the General to injure his character.
John Hughes, Joseph Dalton, William Clayton and James Goff sworn. John Hughes said, Higbee said, “By God, all I want to live for is to see this city sunk down to the lowest hell, and by God it shall!” This was just previous to the Marshal’s arriving on the 10th. William Clayton said two years ago this June Francis M. Higbee confessed he was concerned with John C. Bennett in his iniquity, and had a bad disorder: said he knew his character was ruined. From time to time since that, witness knew Higbee had been threatening General Smith’s character and property.
Leonard Soby heard Higbee threaten to shoot General Smith at Rollinson’s store, and Higbee said the destinies of this people are this day sealed in the archives of heaven, and there shall not be left one stone upon another on that temple.
John P. McEwan: Higbee said, in reference to Joseph Smith, “G—d—him, I will shoot him and all that pertains to him; and before ten suns shall go over our heads, the Temple, Nauvoo House and Mansion shall all be destroyed, and it will be the total downfall of this community.”
Cyrus Canfield: Higbee said he would never let things go till he had accomplished the downfall of General Smith; that he did not value his life to produce the downfall of General Smith.
Joseph Dalton: Higbee said, if they laid their hands on the press, from that hour they might date their downfall; that ten suns should not roll over their heads till the city was destroyed.
Court decided that Joseph Smith had acted under proper authority in destroying the establishment of the Nauvoo Expositor on the 10th inst.; that his orders were executed in an orderly and judicious manner, without noise or tumult; that this was a malicious prosecution on the part of Francis M. Higbee; and that said Higbee pay the costs of suit, and that Joseph Smith be honorably discharged from the accusations and of the writ, and go hence without delay.
I received the following letter:
Letter: Washington Tucker to President Smith—Asking that Elders be Sent to Arkansas.
Eldorado, Union County, Arkansas, May 4th, 1844.
To General Joseph Smith of Nauvoo, Illinois:
Reverend Sir.—Last winter, while in the State of Mississippi, I became acquainted with one of your missionaries who was laboring at the time in that state. Also at the same time, I had an opportunity of perusing some of your sacred books; and from what I have been able to learn, as well from reading as from observation, I am constrained to be very favorably impressed towards the new doctrine. Although to me it certainly appears quite novel, yet I cannot do otherwise than believe there is great reality in it; so much so, indeed, that I am extremely anxious to become better informed on this all important and truly vital matter.
And, moreover, I am not the only one in this part who is an ardent seeker after truth. Indeed, the subject is beginning to produce a great deal of inquiry and some excitement in this country. Hundreds who never before heard of the new revelation are opening their eyes and staring and gaping to know more about it.
Some few days ago, several emigrants arrived here from Mississippi, who speak in the highest terms of the Latter-day Saints. Their report has greatly increased the inquiry and excitement previously going the rounds in this quarter. I hear a number speak of visiting Nauvoo, some of taking their families with them, and so remain there. But it is the general wish of a great many here in Union county for you to send a minister here immediately to instruct us and lead us more fully into the light of this wonderful and new revealed religion, and direct us into the true road to salvation.
This is the only subject on which my thoughts dwell both day and night; for, indeed, during my waking hours nothing diverts my meditation from this absorbing topic, and while asleep I dream of nothing else.
If you please, be so good as to send a laborer among us immediately; for indeed the harvest is great, and the laborers but few, or none at all, I have not the least doubt but that a Latter-day Saint would succeed here as well as the most sanguine could promise himself. His labors, I am sure, would be crowned with success, and the salvation of many a precious yet perishing soul might be rescued from death and prove the rich fruits of the missionary’s toil.
The principal denominations here are the Methodists, the Baptists and Campbellites. A great many of the people, however, are none-professors, the greater majority of whom are quite moral, and many of them religiously inclined.
I shall look for a minister from you within two or three months. When he does come, I will see that he is hospitably received and entertained.
Your obedient and humble servant,
To which I wrote the following reply:
Letter: Joseph Smith to Washington Tucker, Promising that an Elder Should be Sent.
Nauvoo, Illinois, June 12th, 1844.
Sir.—Your letter, dated May 4th, has reached me, and its contents duly considered. A multiplicity of business keeps me from writing as freely to correspondents as I could wish; still my heart is large enough for all men, and my sensibilities keen enough to have compassion for every case when justice, mercy, virtue, or humanity require it. Be pleased to accept my thanks for your very kind letter; study the Bible, and as many of our books as you can get; pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, have faith in the promises made to the fathers, and your mind will be guided to the truth. An Elder shall be sent as soon as the Twelve can make the necessary arrangements.
In the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,
I am your obedient servant,
Washington Tucker, Eldorado, Arkansas.
The editor of the Neighbor writes:
A knot of base men, to further their wicked and malicious designs towards the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to bolster up the intents of blacklegs and bogus-makers, and advocate the characters of murderers, established a press in this city last week, and issued a paper entitled the Nauvoo Expositor. The prospectus showed an intention to destroy the charter, and the paper was filled with libels and slanderous articles upon the citizens and City Council from one end to the other.
“A burnt child dreads the fire.” The Church as a body and individually has suffered till “forbearance has ceased to be a virtue.” The cries and pleadings of men, women and children, with the authorities were, “Will you suffer that servile, murderous papaer to go on and vilify and slander the innocent inhabitants of this city, and raise another mob to drive and plunder us again as they did in Missouri?” Under these pressing cries and supplications of afflicted innocence, and in the character, dignity, and honor of the corporate powers of the charter, as granted to the city of Springfield, and made and provided as a part of our charter for legislative purposes—viz.. “to declare what shall be a nuisance and to prevent and remove the same.” The City Council of Nauvoo on Monday, the 10th instant, declared the establishment and Expositor a nuisance; and the city marshal, at the head of the police, in the evening, took the press, materials and paper into the street and burned them.
And in the name of freemen, and in the name of God, we beseech all men who have the spirit of honor in them to cease from persecuting us, collectively or individually. Let us enjoy our religion, rights and peace like the rest of mankind. Why start presses to destroy rights and privileges, and bring upon us mobs to plunder and murder? We ask no more than what belongs to us—the rights of Americans.
Further Account of Municipal Court on Expositor Case.
Thursday, 13.—At nine A.M. presided in Municipal Court, which sat in the Seventies’ Hall. Present, William Marks, Newel K. Whitney, George W. Harris, Gustavus Hills, and Elias Smith, associate justices. Hyrum Smith, John P. Greene, William W. Phelps, Stephen Markham, Harvey D. Redfield, John Lytle, Dimick B. Huntington, John Taylor, Levi Richards, Stephen Perry, Jonathan B. Holmes, Jonathan Dunham, Samuel Bennett and William W. Edwards were arrested on the complaint of Francis M. Higbee, before Thomas Morrison, J. P., of Carthage, by David Bettisworth, constable of Hancock county. They petitioned for and obtained a writ of habeas corpus. I sat as chief-justice; William Marks, Newel K. Whitney, George W. Harris, Gustavus Hills, and Elias Smith as associate justices.
Addison Everett and James Jackson gave their testimony under oath, when they were all honorably discharged from the accusations and arrest, the court deciding that said Higbee pay the costs; whereupon execution was issued for the amount.
The Prophet’s Dreams on Condition of Apostates in Nauvoo.
In the evening I attended meeting in the Seventies’ Ball. George J. Adams preached and I made some observations afterwards, and related a dream which I had a short time since. I thought I was riding out in my carriage, and my guardian angel was along with me. We went past the Temple, and had not gone much further before we espied two large snakes so fast locked together that neither of them had any power. I inquired of my guide what I was to understand by that. He answered, “Those snakes represent Dr. Foster and Chauncey L. Higbee. They are your enemies and desire to destroy you; but you see they are so fast locked together that they have no power of themselves to hurt you. I then thought I was riding up Mulholland street, but my guardian angel was not along with me. On arriving at the prairie, I was overtaken and seized by William and Wilson Law and others, saying, “Ah! ah! we have got you at last! We will secure you and put you in a safe place!” and, without any ceremony dragged me out of my carriage, tied my hands behind me, and threw me into a deep, dry pit, where I remained in a perfectly helpless condition, and they went away. While struggling to get out, I heard Wilson Law screaming for help hard by. I managed to unloose myself so as to make a spring, when I caught hold of some grass which grew at the edge of the pit.
I looked out of the pit and saw Wilson Law at a little distances attacked by ferocious wild beasts, and heard him cry out, “Oh! Brother Joseph, come and save me!” I replied, “I cannot, for you have put me into this deep pit.” On looking out another way, I saw William Law with outstretched tongue, blue in the face, and the green poison forced out of his mouth, caused by the coiling of a large snake around his body. It had also grabbed him by the arm, a little above the elbow, ready to devour him. He cried out in the intensity of his agony, “Oh, Brother Joseph, Brother Joseph, come and save me, or I die!” also replied to him, “I cannot, William; I would willingly, but you have tied me and put me in this pit, and I am powerless to help you or liberate myself.” In a short time after my guide came and said aloud, “Joseph, Joseph, what are you doing there?” I replied, “My enemies fell upon me, bound me and threw me in.” He then took me by the hand, drew me out of the pit, set me free, and we went away rejoicing.
Threat of Carthage Mob against Nauvoo.
Two of the brethren arrived this evening from Carthage, and said that about three hundred mobbers were assembled there, with the avowed intention of coming against Nauvoo; also that Hamilton was paying a dollar per bushel for corn to feed their animals.
The following was published in the Warsaw Signal office. I insert it as a specimen of the unparalleled corruption and diabolical falsehood of which the human race has become capable in this generation:
Mass Meeting at Warsaw.
At a mass meeting of the citizens of Hancock county, convened at Carthage on the 13th day of June, 1844 Mr. Knox was appointed president, John Doty and Lewis F. Evans, vice-presidents; and William Y. Head, secretary.
Henry Stephens, Esq., presented the following resolutions, passed at a meeting of the citizens of Warsaw, and urged the adoption of them as the sense of this meeting.
Preamble and Resolutions.
Whereas information has reached us, about which there can be no question, that the authorities of Nauvoo did recently pass an ordinance declaring a printing press and newspaper published by the opponents of the Prophet a nuisance, and in pursuance thereof did direct the Marshal of the city and his adherents to enter by force the building from whence the paper was issued, and violently (if necessary) to take possession of the press and printing materials, and thereafter to burn and destroy the same; and whereas, in pursuance of said ordinance, the Marshal and his adherents, together with a mob of Mormons, did, after sunset on the evening of the 10th instant, violently enter said building in a tumultuous manner, burn and destroy the press and other materials found on the premises.
And whereas Hyrum Smith did, in the presence of the City Council and the citizens of Nauvoo, offer a reward for the destruction of the printing press and materials of the Warsaw Signal, a newspaper also opposed to his interests;
And whereas the liberty of the press is one of the cardinal principles of our government, firmly guaranteed by the several constitutions of the states, as well as the United States;
And whereas, Hyrum Smith has within the last week publicly threatened the life of one of our valued citizens, Thomas C. Sharp, the editor of the Signal;
Therefore, be it solemnly
Resolved by the citizens of Warsaw in public meeting assembled, that we view the recent ordinance of the city of Nauvoo, and the proceedings thereunder as an outrage of an alarming character, revolutionary and tyrannical in tendency, and being under color of law as calculated to subvert and destroy in the minds of the community all reliance on the law.
Resolved, that as a community we feel anxious, when possible, to redress our grievances by legal remedies; but the time has now arrived when the law has ceased to be a protection to our lives and property. A mob at Nauvoo, under a city ordinance, has violated the highest privilege in government; and to seek redress in the ordinary mode would be utterly ineffectual.
Resolved, that the public threat made in the Council of the city, not only to destroy our printing-press, but to take the life of its editor, is sufficient, in connection with the recent outrage, to command the efforts and the services of every good citizen to put an immediate stop to the career of the mad prophet and his demoniac coadjutors. We must not only defend ourselves from danger, but we must resolutely carry the war into the enemy’s camp. We do therefore declare that we will sustain our press and the editor at all hazards; that we will take full vengeance, terrible vengeance, should the lives of any of our citizens be lost in the effort; that we hold ourselves at all times in readiness to co-operate with our fellow-citizens in this state, Missouri and Iowa, to exterminate, utterly exterminate the wicked and abominable Mormon leaders, the authors of our troubles.
Resolved, that a committee of five be appointed forthwith to notify all persons in our township suspected of being the tools of the prophet to leave immediately on pain of instant vengeance. And we do recommend the inhabitants of the adjacent townships to do the same, hereby pledging ourselves to render all the assistance they may require.
Resolved, that the time, in our opinion, has arrived, when the adherents of Smith, as a body, should be driven from the surrounding settlements into Nauvoo. That the prophet and his miscreant adherents should then he demanded at their hands; and, if not surrendered, a war of extermination should be waged to the entire destruction, if necessary for our protection, of his adherents. And we hereby recommend this resolution to the consideration of the several townships, to the Mass Convention to be held at Carthage, hereby pledging ourselves to aid to the utmost the complete consummation of the object in view, that we may thereby be utterly relieved of the alarm, anxiety and trouble to which we are now subjected.
Resolved that every citizen arm himself to be prepared to sustain the resolutions herein contained.
Mr. Roosevelt rose and made a brief but eloquent speech, and called upon the citizens throughout the country to render efficient aid in carrying out the spirit of the resolutions. Mr. Roosevelt then moved a committee of seven be appointed by the chair to draft resolutions expressive of our action in future.
Mr. Catlin moved to amend the motion of Mr. Roosevelt, so that the committee should consist of one from each precinct; which motion, as amended, was adopted.
The chair then appointed the following: Col. Levi Williams, Rocky Run precinct; Joel Catlin, Augusta; Samuel Williams, Carthage; Elisha Worrell, Chili; Captain Maddison, St. Mary’s; John M. Ferris, Fountain Green; James Rice, Pilot Grove; John Carns, Bear Creek; C. L. Higbee, Nauvoo; George Robinson, La Harpe; and George Rockwell, Warsaw, were appointed said committee.
On motion of Mr. Sympson, Walter Bagby, Esq., was requested to address the meeting during the absence of the committee. He spoke long and eloquently upon the couse of our grievances, and expressed his belief that the time was now at hand when we were individually and collectively called upon to repel the innovations upon our liberties, and suggested that points be designated as places of encampment at which to rendezvous our forces, that we may be ready when called upon for efficient action.
Dr. Barnes, one of the persons who went with the officers to Nauvoo for the purpose of arresting the rioters, having just arrived, came into the meeting and reported the result of their proceedings, which was, that the persons charged in the writs were duly arrested, but taken from the officers’ hands on a writ of habeas corpus from the Municipal Court, and discharged, and the following potent words entered upon the records—honorably released.
On motion of O. C. Skinner, Esq., a vote of thanks was tendered to Dr. Barnes for volunteering his services in executing said writs.
Francis M. Higbee was now loudly called for. He stated his personal knowledge of the Mormons from their earliest history—throughout their hellish career in Missouri and this state—which has been characterized by the darkest and most diabolical deeds which have ever disgraced humanity.
The committee appointed to draft resolutions brought in the following report, which, after some considerable discussion, was unanimously adopted:
Whereas, the officer charged with the execution of a writ against Joseph Smith and others, for riot in the county of Hancock, which said writ said officer has served upon said Smith and others; and whereas said Smith and others refuse to obey the mandate of said writ; and whereas in the opinion of this meeting, it is impossible for said officer so raise a posse of sufficient strength to execute said writ; and whereas it is the opinion of this meeting that the riot is still progressing and that violence is meditated and determined on, it is the opinion of this meeting that the circumstances of the case require the interposition of executive power. Therefore,
Resolved, that a deputation of two discreet men be sent to Springfield to solicit such interposition.
2nd, Resolved, that said deputation be furnished with a certified copy of the resolution, and be authorized to obtain evidence, by affidavits and otherwise, in regard to the violence which has already been committed, and is still further meditated.
Dr. Evans here arose and expressed his wish that the above resolutions would not retard our operations, but that we would each one arm and equip ourselves forthwith.
The resolutions passed at Warsaw were again read by Dr. Barnes, and passed by acclamation.
On motion of A. Sympson, Esq., the suggestion of Mr. Bagby, appointing places of encampment, was adopted—to wit., Warsaw, Carthage, Green Plains, Spilman’s landing, Chili and La Harpe.
On motion, O. C. Skinner and Walter Bagby, Esqs., were appointed a committee to bear the resolutions adopted by this meeting to his Excellency the Governor, requiring his executive interposition.
On motion of J. H. Sherman, a central corresponding committee was appointed.
Order that J. H. Sherman, H. T. Wilson, Chauncey Robinson, William S. Freeman, Thomas Morrison, F. M. Higbee, Lyman Prentiss, and Stephen H. Tyler be said committee,
On motion of George Rockwell,
Resolved that constables in the different precincts hold themselves in readiness to obey the officer in possession of the writs, whenever called upon, in summoning the posse.
On motion, the meeting adjourned.
John Knox, President.
Lewis F. Evans, Vice-Presidents,
W. Y. Head, Secretary.
Friday, 14.—Wrote to Governor Ford as follows:
Letter: Joseph Smith to Governor Ford—Explaining Action of City Council in Proceedings in “Expositor” Affairs.
Nauvoo, June 14, 1844.
His Excellency Thomas Ford:
Sir.—I write you this morning, briefly, to inform you of the facts relative to the removal of the press and fixtures of theNauvoo Expositor as a nuisance.
The 8th and 10th instant were spent by the City Council of Nauvoo in receiving testimony concerning the character of the Expositor, and the character and designs of the proprietors.
In the investigation it appeared evident to the council that the proprietors were a set of unprincipled, lawless debauchers, counterfeiters, bogus-makers, gamblers, peace-disturbers, and that the grand object of said proprietors was to destroy our constitutional rights and chartered privileges. To overthrow all good and wholesome regulations in society, to strengthen themselves against the municipality, to fortify themselves against the Church of which I am a member, and destroy all our religious rights and privileges by libels, slanders, falsehoods, perjury, &c., and sticking at no corruption to accomplish their hellish purposes; and that said paper of itself was libelous of the deepest dye, and very injurious as a vehicle of defamation, tending to corrupt the morals and disturb the peace, tranquility and happiness of the whole community, and especially that of Nauvoo.
After a long and patient investigation, of the Expositor and the character and design of its proprietors, the constitution, the charter, (see Addenda to Nauvoo Charter from the Springfield Charter, sec. 7) and all the best authorities on the subject; (See Chitty’s Blackstone Bk. 3:v, and n., &c., &c) the City Council decided that it was necessary for the “peace, benefit, good order and regulations” of said city, “and for the protection of property,” and for “the happiness and prosperity of the citizens of Nauvoo,” that said Expositor should be removed, and declaring said Expositor a nuisance ordered the Mayor to cause them to be removed without delay; which order was committed to the Marshal by due process, and by him executed the same day, by removing the paper, press and fixtures into the streets and burning the same; all which was done without riot, noise, tumult or confusion, as has already been proved before the municipality of the city; and the particulars of the whole transaction may be expected in our next Nauvoo Neighbor.
I send you this hasty sketch that your Excellency may be aware of the lying reports that are now being circulated by our enemies that there has been a “mob at Nauvoo.” and “blood and thunder,” and “swearing that two men were killed,” &c., &c., as we hear from abroad, are false—false as Satan himself could invent, and that nothing has been transacted here but what has been in perfect accordance with the strictest principles of law and good order on the part of the authorities of this city; and if your Excellency is not satisfied, and shall not be satisfied after reading the whole proceedings which will be forthcoming soon, and shall demand an investigation of our municipality before Judge Pope, or any legal tribunal at the Capitol, you have only to write your wishes, and we will be forthcoming. We will not trouble you to fill a writ or send an officer for us.
I remain, as ever, a friend of truth, good order, and your Excellency’s humble servant,
The following letters were also written:
Letter: John M. Bernhisel to Governor Ford—Confirming Correctness of the Prophet’s Report of “Expositor” Affair.
Nauvoo, June 14th, 1844.
To His Excellency Governor Ford:
Sir.—Though I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance with you, I take the liberty of stating to you that I arrived here from the city of New York about a year since, where I was engaged in the practice of medicine for many years; that General Smith’s letter to you of this date has been read in my hearing; that the statement contained therein in relation to the proceedings of the municipal authorities for the removal of the press whence issued a scandalous sheet entitled the Nauvoo Expositor are correct, having been an eye-and ear-witness of them.
The whole affair was conducted by the City Marshal and his posse in the most quiet and orderly manner, without the least noise, riot or tumult; and when the nuisance was abated, they immediately retired and were dismissed.
Having been a boarder in General Smith’s family for more than nine months, and having therefore had abundant opportunities of contemplating his character and observing his conduct, I have concluded to give you a few of my “impressions” of him.
General Joseph Smith is naturally a man of strong mental powers, and is possessed of much energy and decision of character, great penetration, and a profound knowledge of human nature. He is a man of calm judgment, enlarged views, and is eminently distinguished by his love of justice. He is kind and obliging, generous and benevolent, sociable and cheerful, and is possessed of a mind of a contemplative and reactive character. He is honest, frank, fearless and independent, and as free from dissimulation as any man to be found.
But it is in the gentle charities of domestic life, as the tender and affectionate husband and parent, the warm and sympathizing friend, that the prominent traits of his character are revealed, and his heart is felt to be keenly alive to the kindest and softest emotions of which human nature is susceptible; and I feel assured that his family and friends formed one of the greatest consolations to him while the vials of wrath were poured upon his head, while his footsteps were pursued by malice and envy, and reproach and slander were strewn in his path, as well as during numerous and cruel persecutions, and severe and protracted sufferings in chains and loathsome prisons, for worshiping God according to the dictates of his own conscience.
He is a true lover of his country, and a bright and shining example of integrity and moral excellence in all the relations of life. As a religious teacher, as well as a man, he is greatly beloved by this people. It is almost superfluous to add that the numerous ridiculous and scandalous reports in circulation respecting him have not the least foundation in truth.
In haste, I have the honor to be your Excellency’s most obedient and humble servant,
John M. Bernhisel.
Letter: Wakefield to Governor Ford—Anent the “Expositor” Affair.
City of Nauvoo, June 14th, 1844.
Hon. Governor Ford:
Being a stranger in the city of Nauvoo, but fully acquainted with the facts as stated in Gen. Smith’s letter of June 14th, I assert that they are true in every particular, and that the press. in the minds of all unprejudiced people, was a nuisance of the worst character, and that the authorities acted perfectly proper in destroying it; and in accomplishing the act there was no noise, tumult or riot. Furthermore, having remained for a few weeks at General Smith’s house, I think it my duty to state that I have seen nothing in his deportment but what is correct in all his domestic relations, being a kind husband and an affectionate father; and all his affairs, both domestic and official, have not only been free from censure, but praiseworthy, and ought to be imitated by every one desirous of order and peace.
Yours, sir, most obediently,
J. R. Wakefield, M. D.
Letter: Sidney Rigdon to Governor Ford—”Expositor” Affair.
Post Office, Nauvoo, Ill., June 14 1844.
His Excellency, Thomas Ford:
Dear Sir.—I address this letter to your Excellency by the hand of Mr. Samuel James, in consequence of the difficulties now existing in this county, difficulties in which I have had no concern; and fearing as I do, that in the midst of an excitement so great as I have understood now exists in this county, (I say understood, for it is by report only that I speak) there may be attempts made to prejudice your mind to take some measures of a violent character that may seriously affect the citizens of this place, and injure innocent and unoffending persons, which I am satisfied would grieve your Excellency, as well as every other thinking and humane man.
There have for a length of time difficulties existed between a number of the citizens of this place, which kept increasing. One of the parties had recourse to the Warsaw Signal as a medium through which they communicate their difficulties to the world. These productions were inflammatory to a high degree, and the party thus assailed charged the matter as libelous and highly abusive. To these exposures responses appeared in the papers of this place, charging the matter as being false and the authors as defamers and slanderers.
Things continued thus until a paper was established in this place called the Nauvoo Expositor. The first number of this paper made its appearance, and it was inflammatory and abusive to an extreme. This raised the excitement to a degree beyond control, and threatened serious consequence.
At this particular juncture all the authorities of the city feeling a common interest in the peace and quiet of the place, and fearing the worst consequences must follow if something were not done, the City Council met and took the matter into consideration, and, after deliberating on the subject and examining the charter, came to the conclusion to hazard all the consequences of declaring the press a nuisance, and accordingly ordered its removal. The city marshal, in obedience to this order, went and removed the press and destroyed it. This was done without tumult or disorder. When the press was destroyed, all returned home, and everything has been perfectly quiet ever since.
Within the last three days warrants have been issued from a justice of the peace in Carthage, calling for the bodies of the persons who destroyed the press. The officer having the matter in charge, refuses the persons a hearing before any other justices of the peace than the one issuing the warrants. With this demand they refused to comply, as there is a large assembly of persons assembled at Carthage making threats of violence; and they say, and I have no doubt they verily believe that by going there their lives will be in danger; and from the intelligence which I received last evening from a person in no way connected with the affair, and one of undoubted veracity, I must think so myself. This gentleman informs me that he has been in Carthage since Monday last at the land sales, and he heard threatenings by the persons assembled there that if they could get into Nauvoo they would murder indiscriminately, and those who wanted to escape must leave. This your Excellency would abhor as I do.
The citizens of this county who do not reside in Nauvoo, and those of other counties, have indeed no interest of a personal kind at stake in this matter. There are no persons disturbing them, nor going to do so; and this great excitement does savor of something else to me than a regard for the laws. Why not let the parties, as in all other cases of the kind settle their difficulties as the laws of the country in such cases have provided.
Have the citizens of Nauvoo ever interfered with cases of difficulty existing in other parts of the county, held public meetings to inflame the public mind in favor of one party, and prejudice it against the other party? Most assuredly they have not. Why, then, must the citizens of this place be scourged with such attempts?
If the citizens of Hancock want the supremacy of the laws maintained let these tumultuous assemblies disperse, and let the civil officers, if resisted, do as in other cases—call for aid instead of assembling in advance, and then call for persons to be brought into their midst as prisoners amidst threats and insults.
From the confidence I have in your Excellency’s superior intelligence, and sound discretion, I doubt not that your Excellency will arrive at just conclusions when the matter is submitted to your consideration, as I understand it is about being.
I can see no need for executive interference in this case, but disperse all uncalled for assemblies, and let the laws have their regular course, which they can have if these assemblies will disperse. If not, I fear the consequences.
I send this to your Excellency as confidential, as I wish not to take any part in the affair, or be known in it.
With consideration of high regard, I am, dear sir, your Excellency’s most obedient servant,
I read the doings of the City Council to Dr. Wakefield, and gave him a volume of the Times and Seasons. About 4 P.M., I rode out with Dr. Bernhisel. Pleasant and warm day. Towards night some clouds.
A Mr. Norton was tried before Esq. Aaron Johnson, J. P., on a charge of firing Foster’s printing office, and acquitted.
Saturday, 15.—At home. Two brethren came from Lima, and said that Colonel Levi Williams had demanded the arms belonging to the Mormons in that neighborhood. They wished my advice on the subject. I told them that when they gave up their arms, to give up their lives with them as dearly as possible.
The Prophet’s Advice on giving up Arms.
It is reported that a company of men were constantly training at Carthage. Mr. John M. Crane, from Warsaw, said that several boxes of arms had arrived at Warsaw from Quincy. There was some considerable excitement, but expected they were going to wait the meeting at Carthage, which was fixed for the middle of next week.
The Maid of Iowa arrived at half-past two P.M., while I was examining the painting, “Death on the Pale Horse,” by Benjamin West, which has been exhibiting in my reading room for the last three days. The Maid had lost her lighter, which was loaded at the time with corn and lumber, it having broken in two on a snag in the Iowa river.
This morning Samuel James started for Springfield to carry letters and papers to Governor Ford concerning the destruction of the Expositor press.
About 7 P.M. I rode out with Orrin P. Rockwell.
I received the following letter:
Letter: A. Ladd a Joseph Smith—Wharfage Matter.
Fort Madison, June 15th, 1844.
Gen. Joseph Smith:
Dear Sir.—I have been informed that a writ was issued against the steam ferry, New Purchase, for wharfage, on Tuesday last, but no such writ has been served or shown to me, and I am anxious to learn the facts of the case. If it is required, I will pay wharfage with the greatest of pleasure; but I would dislike to have cost to pay in addition. I expect to visit this place with my boat at least once a week during the season. You will confer a favor on me by informing me in relation to the ordinance, &c.
It has been rumored that the New Purchase was employed to convey to Nauvoo an armed force to attack the citizens in connection with other companies, on account of the late difficulties at your place; but it is not true. I assure you that the boat will not be employed in any unlawful enterprise, and I further assure you that there is no unkind feeling existing in our place against the people of your place.
I remain yours with respect,
Captain of the New Purchase.
Gen. Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, Ill.