Memoirs of the Late President John Taylor Respecting Affairs at Nauvoo Leading up to the Martyrdom of the Prophet and Patriarch: Governor Ford’s Responsibility Therein
Following the preceding excerpts from Ford’s History of Illinois, setting forth his views of Latter-day Saint affairs in the state of Illinois during his incumbency of the office of governor of that state, and also what really amounts to a defense of himself in relation to those events, I deem it important that a Latter-day Saint statement covering the same period of time and events, with comments thereon, should be made. Such a statement and comments I find in an historical document written by John Taylor, late President [the third] of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a close participant in these events; and second only in nearness to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum in them; and who also was nearly made a complete martyr to the cause in which they suffered, being savagely wounded in Carthage Prison, and only narrowly escaping the death visited upon them. This statement and the comments upon this eventful period were made at a time far enough removed from the excitement of those days to enable the writer to speak temperately upon the events of that period, and at the same time in a judicial and statesmanlike spirit, that greatly enhances the value of the document.
As seen by the introductory paragraph, the paper was prepared at the request of George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff, Church Historians, under the title of “The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith”; and was filed in the Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City.
This document will make up chapters 6 to 10 inclusive.
The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith; Review of Conditions in Illinois Preceding That Event
Being requested by Elders George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff, Church Historians, to write an account of events that transpired before, and took place at, the time of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, in Carthage Jail, in Hancock county, state of Illinois, I write the following, principally from memory, not having access at this time to any public documents relative thereto farther than a few desultory items contained in Ford’s History of Illinois. I must also acknowledge myself considerably indebted to George A. Smith, who was with me when I wrote it, and who, although not there at the time of the bloody transaction, yet, from conversing with several persons who were in the capacity of Church Historians, and aided by an excellent memory, has rendered me considerable service.
These and the few items contained in the note at the end of this account are all the aid I have had. I would farther add that the items contained in the letter, in relation to dates especially, may be considered strictly correct.
After having written the whole, I read it over to the Hon. J. M. Bernhisel, who with one or two slight alterations, pronounced it strictly correct. Brother Bernhisel was present most of the time. I am afraid that, from the length of time that has transpired since the occurrence, and having to rely almost exclusively upon my memory, there may be some slight inaccuracies, but I believe that in general it is strictly correct. As I figured in those transactions from the commencement to the end, they left no slight impression on my mind.
Threatening Portents in Illinois, 1844.
In the year 1844, a very great excitement prevailed in some parts of Hancock, Brown and other neighboring counties of Illinois, in relation to the ‘Mormons’, and a spirit of vindictive hatred and persecution was exhibited among the people, which was manifested in the most bitter and acrimonious language, as well as by acts of hostility and violence, frequently threatening the destruction of the citizens of Nauvoo and vicinity, and utter annihilation of the ‘Mormons’ and ‘Mormonism’, and in some instances breaking out in the most violent acts of ruffianly barbarity. Persons were kidnapped, whipped, persecuted, and falsely accused of various crimes; their cattle and houses injured, destroyed, or stolen; vexatious prosecutions were instituted to harass, and annoy. In some remote neighborhoods they were expelled from their homes without redress, and in others violence was threatened to their persons and property, while in others every kind of insult and indignity were heaped upon them, to induce them to abandon their homes, the county, or the state.
These annoyances, prosecutions, and persecutions were instigated through different agencies and by various classes of men, actuated by different motives, but all uniting in the one object—prosecution, persecution, and extermination of the saints.
Apostates at Nauvoo.
There were a number of wicked and corrupt men living in Nauvoo and its vicinity, who had belonged to the church, but whose conduct was incompatible with the gospel; they were accordingly dealt with by the church and severed from its communion. Some of these had been prominent members, and held official stations either in the city or church. Among these were John C. Bennett, formerly mayor; William Law, counselor to Joseph Smith; Wilson Law, his natural brother, and general in the Nauvoo Legion; Dr. R. D. Foster, a man of some property, but with a very bad reputation; Francis and Chauncey Higbee, the latter a young lawyer, and both sons of a respectable and honored man in the church, known as Judge Elias Higbee, who died about twelve months before.
Besides these, there were a great many apostates, both in the city and county, of less notoriety, who for their delinquencies, had been expelled from the church. John C. Bennett and Francis and Chauncey Higbee were cut off from the church; the former was also cashiered from his generalship for the most flagrant acts of seduction and adultery; and the developments in their cases were so scandalous that the high council, before whom they were tried, had to sit with closed doors.
William Law, although counselor to Joseph, was found to be his most bitter foe and malinger, and to hold intercourse [it was alleged], contrary to all law, in his own house, with a young lady resident with him; and it was afterwards proven that he had conspired with some Missourians to take Joseph Smith’s life, and (the Prophet) was only saved by Josiah Arnold and Daniel Garn, who, being on guard at his house, prevented the assassins from seeing him. Yet, although having murder in his heart, his manners were generally courteous and mild, and he was well calculated to deceive.
General Wilson Law was cut off from the church for seduction, falsehood, and defamation; both the above were also court-martialed by the Nauvoo Legion, and expelled. Foster was also cut off I believe, for dishonesty, fraud, and falsehood. I know he was eminently guilty of the whole, but whether these were the specific charges or not, I don’t know, but I do know that he was a notoriously wicked and corrupt man.
Other anti-Mormon Parties.
Besides the above characters and ‘Mormonic’ apostates, there were other three parties. The first of these may be called religionists, the second politicians, and the third counterfeiters, blacklegs, horse thieves, and cutthroats.
The religious party were chagrined and maddened because ‘Mormonism’ came in contact with their religion, and they could not oppose it from the scriptures. Thus like the ancient Jews, when enraged at the exhibition of their follies and hypocrisies by Jesus and his Apostles, so these were infuriated against the ‘Mormons’ because of their discomfiture by them; and instead of owning the truth and rejoicing in it, they were ready to gnash upon them with their teeth, and to persecute the believers in principles which they could not disprove.
Whigs and Democrats
The political party were those who were of opposite politics to us. There were always two parties, the whigs and democrats, and we could not vote for one without offending the other, and it not unfrequently happened that candidates for office would place the issue of their election upon opposition to the ‘Mormons’, in order to gain political influence from religious prejudice, in which case the ‘Mormons’ were compelled, in self-defense, to vote against them, which resulted almost invariably against our opponents. This made them angry; and although it was of their own making, and the ‘Mormons’ could not be expected to do otherwise, yet they raged on account of their discomfiture, and sought to wreak their fury on the ‘Mormons’. As an instance of the above, when Joseph Duncan was candidate for the office of governor of Illinois, he pledged himself to his party that, if he could be elected, he would exterminate or drive the ‘Mormons’ from the state. 1 The consequence was that Governor Ford was elected. The whigs, seeing that they had been out-generaled by the democrats in securing the ‘Mormon’ vote, became seriously alarmed, and sought to repair their disaster by raising a crusade against the people. The whig newspapers teemed with accounts of the wonders and enormities of Nauvoo, and of the awful wickedness of a party which could consent to receive the support of such miscreants. Governor Duncan, a brave, honest man, and who had nothing to do with getting the ‘Mormon’ charters passed through the legislature, took the stump on this subject in good earnest, and expected to be elected governor almost on this question alone.
The third party, composed of counterfeiters, blacklegs, horse thieves, and cutthroats, were a pack of scoundrels that infested the whole of the western country at that time. In some districts their influence was so great as to control important state and county offices. On this subject Governor Ford has the following:
Lawlessness in Northern Illinois.
‘Then, again, the northern part of the state was not destitute of its organized bands of rogues, engaged in murders, robberies, horse-stealing, and in making and passing counterfeit money. These rogues were scattered all over the north, but the most of them were located in the counties of Ogle, Winnebago, Lee and De Kalb.
‘In the county of Ogle they were so numerous, strong, and well organized that they could not be convicted for their crimes. By getting some of their numbers on the juries, by producing a host of witnesses to sustain their defense, by perjured evidence, and by changing the venue of one county to another, by continuances from term to term, and by the inability of witnesses to attend from time to time at distant and foreign counties, they most generally managed to be acquitted.’ 2
There was a combination of horse thieves extending from Galena to Alton. There were counterfeiters engaged in merchandizing, trading, and storekeeping in most of the cities and villages, and in some districts, I have been credibly informed by men to whom they have disclosed their secrets; the judges, sheriffs, constables, and jailers, as well as professional men, were more or less associated with them. These had in their employ the most reckless, abandoned wretches, who stood ready to carry into effect the most desperate enterprises, and were careless alike of human life and property. Their object in persecuting the ‘Mormons’ was in part to cover their own rascality, and in part to prevent them from exposing and prosecuting them; but the principal reason was plunder, believing that if they [the ‘Mormons’] could be removed or driven, they would be made fat on ‘Mormon’ spoils, besides having in the deserted city a good asylum for the prosecution of their diabolical pursuits.
This conglomeration of apostate ‘Mormons’, religious bigots, political fanatics and blacklegs, all united their forces against the ‘Mormons’, and organized themselves into a party, denominated ‘anti-Mormons’. Some of them, we have reason to believe, joined the church in order to cover their nefarious practices, and when they were expelled for their unrighteousness only raged with greater violence. They circulated every kind of falsehood that they could collect or manufacture against the ‘Mormons’. They also had a paper to assist them in their infamous designs, called the Warsaw Signal, edited by a Mr. Thomas Sharp, a violent and unprincipled man, who shrunk not from any enormity. The ‘anti-Mormons’ had public meetings, which were very numerously attended, where they passed resolutions of the most violent and inflammatory kind, threatening to drive, expel and exterminate the ‘Mormons’ from the state, at the same time accusing them of every evil in the vocabulary of crime.
They appointed their meetings in various parts of Hancock, McDonough, and other counties, which soon resulted in the organization of armed mobs, under the direction of officers who reported to their headquarters, and the reports of which were published in the ‘anti-Mormon’ paper, and circulated through the adjoining counties. We also published in the Times and Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor (two papers published and edited by me at that time) an account, not only of their proceedings, but our own. But such was the hostile feeling, so well arranged their plans, and so desperate and lawless their measures, that it was with the greatest difficulty that we could get our papers circulated; they were destroyed by postmasters and others, and scarcely ever arrived at the place of their destination, so that a great many of the people, who would have been otherwise peaceable, were excited by their misrepresentations, and instigated to join their hostile or predatory bands.
Emboldened by the acts of those outside, the apostate ‘Mormons’, associated with others, commenced the publication of a libelous paper in Nauvoo, called the Nauvoo Expositor.
The Nauvoo Expositor.
This paper not only reprinted from the others, but put in circulation the most libelous, false, and infamous reports concerning the citizens of Nauvoo, and especially the ladies. It was, however, no sooner put in circulation than the indignation of the whole community was aroused; so much so, that they threatened its annihilation; and I do not believe that in any other city in the United States, if the same charges had been made against the citizens, it would have been permitted to remain one day. As it was among us, under these circumstances, it was thought best to convene the city council to take into consideration the adoption of some measures for its removal, as it was deemed better that this should be done legally than illegally. Joseph Smith, therefore, who was mayor, convened the city council for that purpose; the paper was introduced and read, and the subject examined. All, or nearly all present, expressed their indignation at the course taken by the Expositor, which was owned by some of the aforesaid apostates, associated with one or two others. Wilson Law, Dr. Foster, Charles Ivins and the Higbees before referred to, some lawyers, storekeepers, and others in Nauvoo who were not ‘Mormons’, together with the ‘anti-Mormons’ outside of the city, sustained it. The calculation was, by false statements, to unsettle the minds of many in the city, and to form combinations there similar to the ‘anti-Mormon’ associations outside of the city. Various attempts had heretofore been made by the party to annoy and irritate the citizens of Nauvoo; false accusations had been made, vexatious lawsuits instituted, threats made, and various devices resorted to, to influence the public mind, and, if possible, to provoke us to the commission of some overt act that might make us amenable to the law. With a perfect knowledge therefore, of the designs of these infernal scoundrels who were in our midst, as well as those who surrounded us, the city council entered upon an investigation of the matter. They felt that they were in a critical position, and that any move made for the abating of that press would be looked upon, or at least represented, as a direct attack upon the liberty of speech, and that, so far from displeasing our enemies, it would be looked upon by them as one of the best circumstances that could transpire to assist them in their nefarious and bloody designs. Being a member of the city council, I well remember the feeling of responsibility that seemed to rest upon all present; nor shall I soon forget the bold, manly, independent expressions of Joseph Smith on that occasion in relation to this matter. He exhibited in glowing colors the meanness, corruption and ultimate designs of the ‘anti-Mormons’; their despicable characters and ungodly influences, especially of those who were in our midst. He told of the responsibility that rested upon us, as guardians of the public interest, to stand up in the defense of the injured and oppressed, to stem the current of corruption, and as men and saints, to put a stop to this flagrant outrage upon this people’s rights.
Mental Attitude of the Prophet.
He stated that no man was a stronger advocate for the liberty of speech and of the press than himself; yet, when this noble gift is utterly prostituted and abused, as in the present instance, it loses all claim to our respect, and becomes as great an agent for evil as it can possibly be for good; and notwithstanding the apparent advantage we should give our enemies by this act, yet it behooved us, as men, to act independent of all secondary influences, to perform the part of men of enlarged minds, and boldly and fearlessly to discharge the duties devolving upon us by declaring as a nuisance, and removing this filthy, libelous, and seditious sheet from our midst.
The subject was discussed in various forms, and after the remarks made by the mayor, every one seemed to be waiting for some one else to speak.
After a considerable pause, I arose and expressed my feelings frankly, as Joseph had done, and numbers of others followed in the same strain; and I think, but am not certain, that I made a motion for the removal of that press as a nuisance. This motion was finally put, and carried by all but one; and he conceded that the measure was just, but abstained through fear.
Several members of the city council were not in the church. The following is the bill referred to:
Bill for Removing of the Press of the Nauvoo Expositor 3
‘Resolved by the city council of the city of Nauvoo, that the printing office from whence issues the Nauvoo Expositor is a public nuisance; and also of said Nauvoo Expositors which may be or exist in said establishment; and the mayor is instructed to cause said establishment and papers to be removed without delay, in such manner as he shall direct.
‘Passed June 10th, 1844. Geo. W. Harris, President pro tem.
W. Richards, Recorder.’
After the passage of the bill, the marshal, John P. Greene was ordered to abate or remove, which he forthwith proceeded to do by summoning a posse of men for that purpose. The press was removed or broken, I don’t remember which, by the marshal, and the types scattered in the street.
This seemed to be one of those extreme cases that require extreme measures, as the press was still proceeding in its inflammatory course. It was feared that, as it was almost universally execrated, should it continue longer, an indignant people might commit some overt act which might lead to serious consequences, and that it was better to use legal than illegal means.
This, as was foreseen, was the very course our enemies wished us to pursue, as it afforded them an opportunity of circulating a very plausible story about the ‘Mormons’ being opposed to the liberty of the press and of free speech, which they were not slow to avail themselves of. Stories were fabricated, and facts perverted; false statements were made, and this act brought in as an example to sustain the whole of their fabrications; and, as if inspired by satan, they labored with an energy and zeal worthy of a better cause. They had runners to circulate their reports, not only through Hancock county, but in all the surrounding counties. These reports were communicated to their ‘anti-Mormon’ societies, and these societies circulated them in their several districts. The ‘anti-Mormon’ paper, the Warsaw Signal, was filled with inflammatory articles and misrepresentations in relation to us, and especially to this act of destroying the press. We were represented as a horde of lawless ruffians and brigands, anti-American and anti-republican, steeped in crime and iniquity, opposed to freedom of speech and of the press, and all the rights and immunities of a free and enlightened people; that neither person nor property was secure, that we had designs upon the citizens of Illinois and of the United States, and the people were called upon to rise en masse, and put us down, drive us away, or exterminate us as a pest to society, and alike dangerous to our neighbors, the state, and the commonwealth.
Uncertainty of U.S. Mail.
These statements were extensively copied and circulated throughout the United States. A true statement of the facts in question was published by us both in the Times and Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor; but it was found impossible to circulate them in the immediate counties, as they were destroyed at the post offices or otherwise by the agents of the ‘anti-Mormons’, and, in order to get the mail to go abroad, I had to send the papers a distance of thirty or forty miles from Nauvoo, and sometimes to St. Louis (upward of two hundred miles), to insure their proceeding on their route, and then one-half or two-thirds of the papers never reached the place of destination, being intercepted or destroyed by our enemies.
These false reports stirred up the community around, of whom many, on account of religious prejudice, were easily instigated to join the ‘anti-Mormons’ and embark in any crusade that might be undertaken against us; hence their ranks swelled in numbers, and new organizations were formed, meetings were held, resolutions passed, and men and means volunteered for the extirpation of the ‘Mormons’.
On these points Governor Ford writes:
‘These also were the active men in blowing up the fury of the people, in hopes that a popular movement might be set on foot, which would result in the expulsion or extermination of the ‘Mormon’ voters. For this purpose public meetings had been called, inflammatory speeches had been made, exaggerated reports had been extensively circulated, committees had been appointed, who rode night and day to spread the reports and solicit the aid of neighboring counties, and at a public meeting at Warsaw resolutions were passed to expel or exterminate the ‘Mormon’ population. This was not, however, a movement which was unanimously concurred in. The county contained a goodly number of inhabitants in favor of peace, or who at least desired to be neutral in such a contest. These were stigmatized by the name of ‘Jack-Mormons’, and there were not a few of the more furious exciters of the people who openly expressed their intention to involve them in the common expulsion or extermination.
Sytematic anti-Mormon Agitation.
‘A system of excitement and agitation was artfully planned and executed with tact. It consisted in spreading reports and rumors of the most fearful character. As examples: On the morning before my arrival at Carthage, I was awakened at an early hour by the frightful report, which was asserted with confidence and apparent consternation that the ‘Mormons’ had already commenced the work of burning, destruction, and murder, and that every man capable of bearing arms was instantly wanted at Carthage for the protection of the county.
‘We lost no time in starting; but when we arrived at Carthage we could hear no more concerning this story. Again, during the few days that the militia were encamped at Carthage, frequent applications were made to me to send a force here, and a force there, and a force all about the country, to prevent murders, robberies, and larcenies which, it was said, were threatened by the ‘Mormons’. No such forces were sent, nor were any such offenses committed at that time, except the stealing of some provisions, and there was never the least proof that this was done by a ‘Mormon’. Again, on my late visit to Hancock county, I was informed by some of their violent enemies that the larcenies of the ‘Mormons’ had become unusually numerous and insufferable.
‘They admitted that but little had been done in this way in their immediate vicinity, but they insisted that sixteen horses had been stolen by the ‘Mormons’ in one night near Lima, and, upon inquiry, was told that no horses had been stolen in that neighborhood, but that sixteen horses had been stolen in one night in Hancock county. This last informant being told of the Hancock story, again changed the venue to another distant settlement in the northern edge of Adams.’ 4
In the meantime legal proceedings were instituted against the members of the city council of Nauvoo. A writ, here subjoined, was issued upon the affidavit of the Laws, Fosters, Higbees, and Ivins, by Mr. Morrison, a justice of the peace in Carthage, and the county seat of Hancock, and put into the hands of one David Bettisworth, a constable of the same place.
Writ Issued upon Affidavit by Thomas Morrison, J. P., State of Illinois, Hancock County, ss
The people of the state of Illinois, to all constables, sheriffs, and coroners of the said state, greeting:
‘Whereas complaint hath been made before me, one of the justices of the peace in and for the county of Hancock aforesaid, upon the oath of Francis M. Higbee, of the said county, that 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 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 printing 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 farther 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.[Signed] Thomas Morrison, J. P.’ (Seal) 5
Actions of the City Council.
The council did not refuse to attend to the legal proceedings in the case, but as the law of Illinois made it the privilege of the persons accused to go ‘or appear before the issuer of the writ, or any other justice of peace’, they requested to be taken before another magistrate, either in the city of Nauvoo or at any reasonable distance out of it.
This the constable, who was a mobocrat, refused to do, and as this was our legal privilege, we refused to be dragged, contrary to law, a distance of eighteen miles, when at the same time we had reason to believe that an organized band of mobocrats were assembled for the purpose of extermination or murder, and among whom it would not be safe to go without a superior force of armed men. A writ of habeas corpus was called for, issued by the municipal court of Nauvoo, taking us out of the hands of Bettisworth, and placing us in the charge of the city marshal. We went before the municipal court and were dismissed. Our refusal to obey this illegal proceeding was by them construed into a refusal to submit to law, and circulated as such, and the people either did believe, or professed to believe, that we were in open rebellion against the laws and the authorities of the state. Hence mobs began to assemble, among which all through the country inflammatory speeches were made, exciting them to mobocracy and violence. Soon they commenced their depredations in our outside settlements, kidnaping some, and whipping and otherwise abusing others.
The persons thus abused fled to Nauvoo as soon as practicable, and related their injuries to Joseph Smith, then mayor of the city, and lieutenant-general of the Nauvoo Legion. They also went before magistrates, and made affidavits of what they had suffered, seen, and heard. These affidavits, in connection with a copy of all our proceedings were forwarded by Joseph Smith to Mr. Ford, then governor of Illinois, with an expression of our desire to abide law, and a request that the governor would instruct him how to proceed in the case of arrival of an armed mob against the city. The governor sent back instructions to Joseph Smith that, as he was lieutenant-general of the Nauvoo Legion, it was his duty to protect the city and surrounding country, and issued orders to that effect. Upon the reception of these orders Joseph Smith assembled the people of the city, and laid before them the governor’s instructions; he also convened the officers of the Nauvoo Legion for the purpose of conferring in relation to the best mode of defense. He also issued orders to the men to hold themselves in readiness in case of being called upon. On the following day General Joseph Smith, with his staff, the leading officers of the Legion, and some prominent strangers who were in our midst, made a survey of the outside boundaries of the city, which was very extensive, being about five miles up and down the river, and about two and a half back in the center, for the purpose of ascertaining the position of the ground, and the feasibility of defense, and to make all necessary arrangements in case of an attack.
Military Defensive Measures.
It may be well here to remark that numbers of gentlemen, strangers to us, either came on purpose or were passing through Nauvoo, and upon learning the position of things, expressed their indignation against our enemies, and avowed their readiness to assist us by their counsel or otherwise. It was some of these who assisted us in reconnoitering the city, and finding out its adaptability for defense, and how to protect it best against an armed force. The Legion was called together and drilled, and every means made use for defense. At the call of the officers, old and young men came forward, both from the city and the country, and mustered to the number of about five thousand.
In the meantime our enemies were not idle in mustering their forces and committing depredations, nor had they been; it was, in fact, their gathering that called ours into existence; their forces continued to accumulate; they assumed a threatening attitude, and assembled in large bodies, armed and equipped for war, and threatened the destruction and extermination of the ‘Mormons’.
An account of their outrages and assemblages was forwarded to Governor Ford almost daily; accompanied by affidavits furnished by eyewitnesses of their proceedings. Persons were also sent out to the counties around with pacific intentions, to give them an account of the true state of affairs, and to notify them of the feelings and dispositions of the people of Nauvoo, and thus, if possible, quell the excitement. In some of the more distant counties these men were very successful, and produced a salutary influence upon the minds of many intelligent and well-disposed men. In neighboring counties, however, where ‘anti-Mormon’ influence prevailed, they produced little effect. At the same time guards were stationed around Nauvoo, and picket guards in the distance. At length opposing forces gathered so near that more active measures were taken; reconnoitering parties were sent out, and the city proclaimed under martial law. Things now assumed a belligerent attitude, and persons passing through the city were questioned as to what they knew of the enemy, while passes were in some instances given to avoid difficulty with the guards. Joseph Smith continued to send on messengers to the governor (Philip B. Lewis and other messengers were sent). Samuel James, then residing at La Harpe, carried a message and dispatches to him, and in a day or two after Bishop Edward Hunter and others went again with fresh dispatches, representations, affidavits, and instructions; but as the weather was excessively wet, the rivers swollen, and the bridges washed away in many places, it was with great difficulty that they proceeded on their journeys. As the mobocracy had at last attracted the governor’s attention, he started in company with some others from Springfield to the scene of trouble, and missed, I believe, both Brothers James and Hunter on the road, and, of course, did not see their documents. He came to Carthage, and made that place, which was a regular mobocratic den, his headquarters; as it was the county seat, however, of Hancock county, that circumstance might, in a measure, justify his staying there.
To avoid the appearance of all hostility on our part, and to fulfill the law in every particular, at the suggestion of Judge Thomas, judge of that judicial district, who had come to Nauvoo at the time, and who stated that we had fulfilled the law, but, in order to satisfy all he would counsel us to go before Esquire Wells, who was not in our church, and have a hearing, we did so, and after a full hearing we were again dismissed.
Governor Ford’s Arrival at Carthage.
The governor on the road collected forces, some of whom were respectable, but on his arrival in the neighborhood of the difficulties he received as militia all the companies of the mob forces who united with him. After his arrival at Carthage he sent two gentlemen from there to Nauvoo as a committee to wait upon General Joseph Smith, informing him of the arrival of his excellency, with a request that General Smith would send out a committee to wait upon the governor and represent to him the state of affairs in relation to the difficulties that then existed in the county. We met this committee while we were reconnoitering the city to find out the best mode of defense as aforesaid. Dr. J. M. Bernhisel and myself were appointed as a committee by General Smith to wait upon the governor. Previous to going, however, we were furnished with affidavits and documents in relation both to our proceedings and those of the mob; in addition to the general history of the transaction, we took with us a duplicate of those documents which had been forwarded by Bishop Hunter, Brother James, and others. We started from Nauvoo in company with the aforesaid gentlemen at about 7 o’clock on the evening of the 21st of June, and arrived at Carthage about 11 p.m.
We put up at the same hotel with the governor, kept by a Mr. Hamilton. On our arrival we found the governor in bed, but not so with the other inhabitants. The town was filled with a perfect set of rabble and rowdies, who, under the influence of bacchus, seemed to be holding a grand saturnalia, whooping, yelling and vociferating as if bedlam had broken loose.
On our arrival at the hotel, and while supper was preparing, a man came to me, dressed as a soldier, and told me that a man named Daniel Garn had just been taken prisoner, and was about to be committed to jail, and wanted me to go bail for him. Believing this to be a ruse to get me out alone, and that some violence was intended, after consulting with Dr. Bernhisel, I told the man that I was well acquainted with Mr. Garn, that I knew him to be a gentleman, and did not believe that he had transgressed law, and, moreover, that I considered it a very singular time to be holding courts and calling for security, particularly as the town was full of rowdyism.
I informed him that Dr. Bernhisel and myself would, if necessary, go bail for him in the morning, but that we did not feel ourselves safe among such a set at that late hour of the night.
John Taylor and Dr. Bernhisel at Carthage.
After supper, on retiring to our room, we had to pass through another, which was separated from ours only by a board partition, the beds in each room being placed side by side, with the exception of this fragile partition. On the bed that was in the room which we passed through I discovered a man by the name of Jackson, a desperate character, and a reputed, notorious cutthroat and murderer. I hinted to the doctor that things looked rather suspicious, and looked to see that my arms were in order. The doctor and I occupied one bed. We had scarcely laid down when a knock at the door, accompanied by a voice announced the approach of Chauncey Higbee, the young lawyer and apostate before referred to.
He addressed himself to the doctor, and stated that the object of his visit was to obtain the release of Daniel Garn; that Garn he believed to be an honest man; that if he had done anything wrong, it was through improper counsel, and that it was a pity that he should be incarcerated, particularly when he could be so easily released; he urged the doctor, as a friend, not to leave so good a man in such an unpleasant situation; he finally prevailed upon the doctor to go and give bail, assuring him that on his giving bail Garn would be immediately dismissed.
During this conversation I did not say a word.
Higbee left the doctor to dress, with the intention of returning and taking him to the court. As soon as Higbee had left, I told the doctor that he had better not go; that I believed this affair was all a ruse to get us separated; that they knew we had documents with us from General Smith to show to the governor; that I believed their object was to get possession of those papers, and, perhaps, when they had separated us, to murder one or both. The doctor, who was actuated by the best of motives in yielding to the assumed solicitude of Higbee, coincided with my views; he then went to Higbee and told him that he had concluded not to go that night, but that he and I would both wait upon the justice and Mr. Garn in the morning.
That night I lay awake with my pistols under my pillow, waiting for any emergency. Nothing more occurred during the night. In the morning we arose early, and after breakfast sought an interview with the governor, and were told that we could have an audience, I think, at 10 o’clock. In the meantime we called upon Mr. Smith, a justice of the peace, who had Mr. Garn in charge. We represented that we had been called upon the night before by two different parties to go bail for a Mr. Daniel Garn, whom we were informed he had in custody, and that, believing Mr. Garn to be an honest man, we had now come for that purpose, and were prepared to enter into recognizance for his appearance, whereupon Mr. Smith, the magistrate, remarked that, under the present excited state of affairs, he did not think he would be justified in receiving bail from Nauvoo, as it was a matter of doubt whether property would not be rendered valueless there in a few days.
Knowing the party we had to deal with, we were not much surprised at this singular proceeding; we then remarked that both of us possessed property in farms out of Nauvoo in the country, and referred him to the county records. He then stated that such was the nature of the charge against Mr. Garn that he believed he would not be justified in receiving any bail. We were thus confirmed in our opinion that the night’s proceedings before, in relation to their desire to have us give bail, was a mere ruse to separate us. We were not permitted to speak with Garn, the real charge against whom was that he was traveling in Carthage or its neighborhood; what the fictitious one was, if I knew, I have since forgotten, as things of this kind were of daily occurrence.”