Volume 6 Chapter 24

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Chapter 24

Rumors of Invasion from Missouri—The Legion Ordered to Assist the City Marshal—Nauvoo Placed under Martial Law—The Mayor’s Address to the Legion.

Monday, June, 17, 1844, (continued).—Edward Hunter, Philip B. Lewis and Major John Bills started with the affidavit of Thomas G. Wilson and my letter, &c., to take to Governor Ford. I charged Edward Hunter, under oath, to tell Governor Ford all he knew concerning me, good or bad, as he has known me for several years; and I said to him, “Brother Hunter, you have always wished you had been with us from the commencement. If you will go to Springfield and do this business for me now in this time of danger, it shall be as though you had been in Missouri and had always been with us.”

Stephen Markham made the following affidavit:

Affidavit of Stephen Markham—Nauvoo to be Attacked.

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo. ss.

On the 17th day of June, 1844, came Stephen Markham before me, Willard Richards, recorder of said city; and after being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that, from the public papers, especially the Warsaw papers, and from reports from the various precincts, a mob may be expected to make an immediate attack upon the citizens and city of Nauvoo, on account of the gatherings at the various precincts, and threats to exterminate the Latter-day Saints.

Stephen Markham.

Sworn and subscribed to before me this 17th day of June, 1844.

Willard Richards,

Recorder of the city of Nauvoo.

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As soon as the affidavit came to my knowledge, I issued the following:


Nauvoo, June 17th, 1844.

To John P. Greene, Marshal of the City of Nauvoo, &c.:

Sir.—Complaint having been made to me on oath that a mob is collecting at sundry points to make an attack on this city, you will therefore take such measures as shall be necessary to preserve the peace of said city according to the provisions of the charter and the laws of the state; and with the police and the Legion, see that no violent act is committed. General Dunham is hereby instructed to act with the Marshal in keeping the peace, according to law.

Joseph Smith, Mayor.

And also:

Order to the Legion.

Headquarters Nauvoo Legion,

Nauvoo, June 17th, 1844.

To Major General in Command, Jonathan Dunham:

Complaint having been made on oath that a mob is preparing to make an attack upon this city and citizens of Nauvoo, and having directed the Marshal to keep the peace, you are hereby commanded to order the Nauvoo Legion to be in readiness to assist said Marshal in keeping the peace, and doing whatever may be necessary to preserve the dignity of the state and city.

Joseph Smith, Lieut.-General N. L.


Legion Placed at Command of City Marshal.

Headquarters Nauvoo Legion, June 17th, 1844.

To Major-General in Command, Jonathan Dunham:

You are hereby instructed to execute all orders of the Marshal, and perform all services with as little noise and confusion as possible, and take every precaution to prevent groups of citizens, &c., from gathering on the bank of the river, on the landing of boats or otherwise, and allay every cause and pretext of excitement as well as suspicion, and let your operations be efficient and decided.

Joseph Smith, Lieut.-Gen. N. L.

I also issued an order to Col. A. P. Rockwood to call out my guard and staff immediately to my headquarters; and I also ordered the Legion to parade tomorrow at 10 A.M.

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Headquarters Nauvoo

Legion, Lieut.-General’s Office

June 17th, 1844.

To Col. A. P. Rockwood:

You are hereby commanded to notify my guard and staff to appear at headquarters without delay, armed and equipped according to law for military duty and inspection, with powder and ball.

Joseph Smith, Lieut.-Gen. N. L.

I advised my brother Hyrum not to mail his letter to President Young at present.

I directed my clerk, Thomas Bullock, to remain in the Masonic Hall and take affidavits of the men who are constantly coming in with news of the movements of the mob and preserve copies to forward to the Governor.

I received the following letter:

Letter: H. T. Hugins to Joseph Smith—Probable Indictment of the Prophet at Springfield.

Burlington, Iowa Territory,

June 17th, 1844.

Dear Sir.—I write to inform you that Jeremiah Smith arrived here yesterday in safety and free from arrest. He desires, through me, to thank you for your kindness and attention to him while at Nauvoo.

I wrote from Springfield to apprise you that an effort was making to procure an indictment against the members of your Municipal Court for the part they acted in trying the habeas corpus petitions. Through the efforts of myself and Dr. Hickock, that result was prevented, and T. B. Johnson exposed. The boat is casting off, and I must close. Dr. Dunlop will write to apprise you of the William and Wilson Law’s proceedings here. You will hear from me again soon.

Yours truly,

H. T. Hugins.

General Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, Ill.

The mob is still increasing in numbers at Carthage and other places.

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It is reported that William and Wilson Law have laid a plan to burn the printing office of the Nauvoo Neighbor this night. I therefore stationed a strong police round the premises and throughout the city.

The captain of the steamer Osprey called upon me.

Charge of Threats Against Foster’s Life.

About 11 P.M. a negro came into my office with an open letter, without any date or name, and said that Dr. Foster gave it to him at Madison to give Henry O. Norton. In that letter Foster said that Dunham and Richards swore in my presence that they would kill him (Foster) in two days, and that there was a man in Madison would swear he had heard them say so at my house.

I closed the issuing of orders about 12 at night, ready to retire to rest. Pleasant weather.

To refute the lying slanders of the Warsaw Signal, as published in the proceedings of a meeting held at Carthage an the 13th instant, I insert the following certificate. 1

To the Public.

We, whose names are undersigned, having seen in the Warsaw Signal, containing the proceedings of a meeting held at Carthage on the 13th instant, many statements calculated to arouse the indignation and wrath of the people against the citizens of Nauvoo, do certify that Hyrum Smith did not make any threats, nor offer any reward against the Signal or its editor in the City Council.

John Taylor, George W. Harris,
Aaron Johnson, Phinehas Richards,
William Boles, Thomas Smith,
George P. Stiles, Edward Hunter,
W. W. Phelps, Moses F. Clark,
Alanson Ripley, Levi Richards,
Orson Spencer, Addison Everett,
John P. Greene, Philip B. Lewis.

Nauvoo, June 17, 1844.

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A Nauvoo Neighbor extra was issued with the following editorial:

To the Public.

As a soft breeze on a hot day mellows the air, so does the simple truth calm the feelings of the irritated; and so we proceed to give the proceedings of the City Council relating to the removal of the Nauvoo Expositor as a nuisance. We have been robbed, mobbed and plundered with impunity some two or three times; and as every heart is more apt to know its own sorrows, the people of Nauvoo had ample reason, when such characters as the proprietors and abettors of the Nauvoo Expositor proved to be before the City Council, to be alarmed for their safety.

The men who got up the press were constantly engaged in resisting the authority or threatening something. If they were fined, an appeal was taken, but the slander went on; and when the paper came, the course and the plan to destroy the city was marked out. The destruction of the city charter and the ruin of the Saints was the all-commanding topic.

Our lives, our city, our charter and our characters are just as sacred, just as dear, and just as good as other people’s; and while no friendly arm has been extended from the demolition of our press in Jackson county, Missouri, without law, to this present day, the City Council with all the law of nuisance, from Blackstone down to the Springfield charter, knowing that if they exceeded the law of the land a higher court could regulate the proceedings, abated the Nauvoo Expositor.

The proceedings of the Council show, as sketched out, that there was cause for alarm. The people, when they reflect, will at once say that the feelings and rights of men ought to be respected. All persons otherwise, who, without recourse to justice, mercy or humanity, come out with inflammatory publications, destructive resolutions, or more especially extermination, show a want of feeling a want of respect and a want of religious toleration that honorable men will deprecate among Americans as they would the pestilence, famine, or horrors of war. It cannot be that the people are so lost to virtue as to coolly go to murdering men, women and children. No; candor and common sense forbid it!

Dr. Richards and Thomas Bullock sat up all last night writing the proceedings of the City Council for the press.

Tuesday, 18.—At 8 A.M. the Legion assembled according to orders, and organized at 9 A.M., under Acting Major-General Jonathan Dunham. The first cohort under the command of Colonel Stephen Markham, acting Brigadier-General, and the second cohort under Colonel Hosea Stout, acting Brigadier-General.

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Just before, I was informed that there were several boxes of arms landed at the upper stone house, which were secured by the Marshal. Soon after it was discovered that the arms (40 stand) had been sent by Henry G. Sherwood, and the Marshal bought them for the city.

About 1:45 P.M. I proclaimed the city under martial law, and caused the following orders to be issued from the Mayor’s office:

Declaration of Martial Law.


Mayor’s Office, City of Nauvoo,

June 18th, 1844.

To the Marshal or the City of Nauvoo:

From the newspapers around us, and the current reports as brought in from the surrounding country, I have good reason to fear that a mob is organizing to come upon this city, and plunder and destroy said city, as well as murder the citizens; and by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor, and to preserve the city and the lives of the citizens, I do hereby declare the said city, within the limits of its incorporation, under martial law. The officers, therefore, of the Nauvoo Legion, the police as well as all others, will strictly see that no persons or property pass in or out of the city without due orders.

Joseph Smith, Mayor.

About 2 P.M. the Legion was drawn up in the street close by the Mansion. I stood in full uniform on the top of the frame of a building.

Judge Phelps read the Warsaw Signal extra of the 17th, wherein all the “old citizens” were called upon to assist the mob in exterminating the leaders of the Saints and driving away the people.

I addressed the Legion for about an hour and a half.

[The following synopsis of this address was compiled by George A. Smith, from the verbal reports of Joseph G. Hovey, William G. Sterrett, Robert Campbell and many others who heard the Prophet on the occasion:]

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The Last Speech of President Smith to the Legion.

It is thought by some that our enemies would be satisfied with my destruction; but I tell you that as soon as they have shed my blood they will thirst for the blood of every man in whose heart dwells a single spark of the spirit of the fullness of the Gospel. The opposition of these men is moved by the spirit of the adversary of all righteousness. It is not only to destroy me, but every man and woman who dares believe the doctrines that God hath inspired me to teach to this generation.

We have never violated the laws of our country. We have every right to live under their protection, and are entitled to all the privileges guaranteed by our state and national constitutions. We have turned the barren, bleak prairies and swamps of this state into beautiful towns, farms and cities by our industry; and the men who seek our destruction and cry thief, treason, riot, &c., are those who themselves violate the laws, steal and plunder from their neighbors, and seek to destroy the innocent, heralding forth lies to screen themselves from the just punishment of their crimes by bringing destruction upon this innocent people. I call God, angels and all men to witness that we are innocent of the charges which are heralded forth through the public prints against us by our enemies; and while they assemble together in unlawful mobs to take away our rights and destroy our lives, they think to shield themselves under the refuge of lies which they have thus wickedly fabricated.

We have forwarded a particular account of all our doings to the Governor. We are ready to obey his commands, and we expect that protection at his hands which we know to be our just due.

We have taken the counsel of Judge Thomas, and have been tried before a civil magistrate on the charge of riot—not that the law required it, but because the Judge advised it as a precautionary measure, to allay all possible pretext for excitement. We were legally acquitted by Esq. Wells, who is a good judge of law. Had we been before the Circuit, the Supreme, or any other court of law in the state or nation, we would have been acquitted, for we have broken no law.

Constable Bettisworth came here with a writ requiring us to go before Mr. Morrison, “or some other justice of the peace of the county,” to answer to the charge of riot. We acknowledged ourselves his prisoners, and were ready to go before any magistrate in any precinct in this part of the county, or anywhere else where our lives could be protected from the mob who have published the resolutions for our extermination which you have just heard read. This is a privilege the law guarantees to us, and which the writ itself allows. He broke the law and refused us this privilege, declaring that we should go before Morrison in Carthage, and no one else, when he knew that a numerous mob was collected there who are publicly pledged to destroy our lives.

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It was under these circumstances that we availed ourselves of the legal right of the ancient, high, and constitutional privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and were brought before the Municipal Court of this city and discharged from the illegal detention under which we were held by Constable Bettisworth. All mob-men, priests, thieves, and bogus makers, apostates and adulterers, who combine to destroy this people, now raise the hue and cry throughout the state that we resist the law, in order to raise a pretext for calling together thousands more of infuriated mob-men to murder, destroy, plunder and ravish the innocent.

We are American citizens. We live upon a soil for the liberties of which our fathers periled their lives and spilt their blood upon the battlefield. Those rights so dearly purchased, shall not be disgracefully trodden under foot by lawless marauders without at least a noble effort on our part to sustain our liberties.

Will you all stand by me to the death, and sustain at the peril of your lives, the laws of our country, and the liberties and privileges which our fathers have transmitted unto us, sealed with their sacred blood? (“Aye!” shouted thousands.) He then said, “It is well. If you had not done it, I would have gone out there (pointing to the west) and would have raised up a mightier people.”

I call upon all men, from Maine to the Rocky Mountains, and from Mexico to British America, whose hearts thrill with horror to behold the rights of freemen trampled under foot, to come to the deliverance of this people from the hand of oppression, cruelty, anarchy and misrule to which they have long been made subject. Come, all ye lovers of liberty, break the oppressor’s rod, loose the iron grasp of mobocracy, and bring to condign punishment all those who trample under foot the glorious Constitution and the people’s rights. [Drawing his sword, and presenting it to heaven, he said] I call God and angels to witness that I have unsheathed my sword with a firm and unalterable determination that this people shall have their legal rights, and be protected from mob violence, or my blood shall be spilt upon the ground like water, and my body consigned to the silent tomb. While I live, I will never tamely submit to the dominion of cursed mobocracy. I would welcome death rather than submit to this oppression; and it would be sweet, oh, sweet, to rest in the grave rather than submit to this oppression, agitation, annoyance, confusion, and alarm upon alarm, any longer.

I call upon all friends of truth and liberty to come to our assistance; and may the thunders of the Almighty and the forked lightnings of heaven and pestilence, and war and bloodshed come down on those ungodly men who seek to destroy my life and the lives of this innocent people.

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I do not regard my own life. I am ready to be offered a sacrifice for this people; for what can our enemies do? Only kill the body, and their power is then at an end. Stand firm, my friends; never flinch. Do not seek to save your lives, for he that is afraid to die for the truth, will lose eternal life. Hold out to the end, and we shall be resurrected and become like Gods, and reign in celestial kingdoms, principalities, and eternal dominions, while this cursed mob will sink to hell, the portion of all those who shed innocent blood.

God has tried you. You are a good people; therefore I love you with all my heart. Greater love hath no man than that he should lay down his life for his friends. You have stood by me in the hour of trouble, and I am willing to sacrifice my life for your preservation.

May the Lord God of Israel bless you for ever and ever. I say it in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and in the authority of the Holy Priesthood, which He hath conferred upon me.

(The people said “Amen.”)

Hyrum said that the statement of Sharp in the Warsaw Signal, that he (Hyrum) had threatened to take his life, was false as hell—there was not a syllable of truth in it.

About 3:15 P.M., I took the command, and with my staff rode in front of the Legion, marched up Main Street, and returned to our former parade ground. The number on parade was very large, considering the number of Elders who had been sent on missions. After dismissing the Legion to their several commands, I returned home and gave orders to the several commanders only to receive official communications through my aides-de-camp, the proper official channel. I appointed Edward Bonney one of my aids-de-camp.

Truman Gillett, Jr., made the following affidavit:

Affidavit: Truman Gillett—the Treachery of William Law.

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo. ss.

June 18th, 1844.—Personally appeared Truman Gillett, Jr., before me, Willard Richards, recorder of the city of Nauvoo; and after being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that on or about the first day of June, 1842, while passing up the Ohio river on the steamboat Massachusetts deponent overheard two men, one a resident of Missouri and the other of Ohio, as reported, conversing together concerning incidents on the Upper Mississippi, when one said to the other. “If Law could have succeeded in getting an introduction for us to Joe Smith, damn him, we would have gagged him and nabbed him; and, damn him, all hell could not have rescued him from our hands.”

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The next morning deponent got in conversation with the man before mentioned from Missouri, who stated that he had been on the Upper Mississippi on business; that he stopped at Nauvoo on his way down with some twelve or fourteen other men, who laid a plan to kidnap Joe Smith; that some of the company queried about getting access to him, but one of them said he knew they could if he could find William Law. They called on William Law in the evening to get an introduction to their great Prophet, and Law went with them to the gate, where they were stopped by the police; “and it was well for him that we did not succeed in getting an introduction to him.”

Deponent said, “Did William Law know your business?” And he said “Yes.” Deponent asked, “What have you against Joseph Smith? Did he ever injure you?” The man replied, “No, but he has others.” “Did you ever see him?” “Yes. I was one who helped to run the Mormons from Missouri,” and related many circumstances concerning the Missouri mob.

Deponent said to the man, he was acquainted with William Law; considered he was an honorable man, and was led to doubt his being engaged with them in a conspiracy against Joseph Smith. He replied, “G—d d—n you, it is true, whether you believe it or not,” and repeatedly affirmed it. Deponent did not believe the statements of the man from Missouri as mentioned above until after hearing the recent developments before the City Council.

Truman Gillett, Jr.


Sworn and subscribed at the time and place above written, before me.

Willard Richards, Recorder C. N.

At 8 P.M. I wrote the following:

Letter: Joseph Smith to H. T. Hugins—Congratulating Jeremiah Smith on his release.

Nauvoo, Ill., June 18th, 1844.

H. T. Hugins. Esq.

Sir.—I received your communication from Burlington per Captain Anderson; also Dr. Hickock’s from Springfield; and feel grateful for your favors, and congratulate you and Mr. Smith also.

The enemy, or mob, is prowling in the southern and eastern part of the county, and threatening us with extermination; and we ask the friends of peace and good government everywhere to use their influence in suppressing the spirit of mobocracy, and sustain us in our righteous course.

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So far as you can conscientiously speak in our behalf, and lend your influence in our favor for the public good your favors will be highly appreciated.

Please show this to Dr. Hickock and such confidential friends as you think proper. Also request Mr. Dunlop to direct his letter to me.

The bearer, Dr. Wakefield, will give you all particulars.

In haste, I remain your friend, respectfully,

Joseph Smith.

I sent the letter by Dr. Wakefield to Burlington.

Governor Ford’s Treatment of the Mob.

Nine messengers arrived from Carthage, and report that the mob had received intelligence from the Governor, who would take no notice of them; and they damned the Governor as being as bad as Joe Smith. They did not care for him, and they were just as willing he would not help them as if he would.

There was a body of armed men in Carthage, and a mob meeting at Fountain Green, which attracted considerable attention.

Threat Against the Prophet’s Life.

Shadrach Roundy, a policeman, reported at 10 P.M., after I had retired, that a man by the name of Norton had threatened to shoot me. An examination was immediately had, but no proof was found.

This evening I appointed Theodore Turley Armorer-General of The Legion.

I insert the following affidavit:

Affidavit, Canfield and Belknap—Concerning Threats of Invasion from Missouri.

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo, ss.

Hancock County, June 18, 1844.

Personally appeared before me, Aaron Johnson, a justice of the peace, Cyrus Canfield and Gilbert Belknap, of Hancock county; and being duly sworn depose and say that on yesterday, June 17th, 1844, certain persons—to-wit, Dr. Barnes and Joseph H. Jackson, having entered into conversation with your deponents, among other things declared that the Governor of Illinois was as big a scoundrel as Joseph Smith, and that he is the d—dest scoundrel that was ever suffered to live; that they did not care for the Governor, and had rather that the Governor would side with Smith; that they (the mob) were coming to Nauvoo with a sufficient force to take Smith; and if the people endeavored to prevent them, they should kill the people; and that if Smith had left Nauvoo, they had determined to destroy the Mansion and other buildings. And your deponents further say that one John Eller declared that he had lived in Missouri and was at the massacre of the Mormons at Haun’s Mill, that he had killed one Mormon, and that he had left Missouri on purpose to fight the Mormons, and would hunt a Mormon as he would a deer. And your deponents further say that they heard that about one hundred persons had already arrived from Missouri, and were expecting as many more from that State. And your deponents further say, that they heard in Carthage that they had already received a number of guns and ammunition and provisions from St. Louis, in order to prosecute their attack upon Nauvoo. And, further your deponents say not.

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Cyrus Canfield,

Gilbert Belknap.

Sworn and subscribed to before me, this eighteenth day of June, 1844.

Aaron Johnson,

A Justice of the Peace.

Chapter 24.

1. This was published in the Nauvoo Neighbor impressions of June 19 1844.