Volume 5 Chapter 5


The Prophet in Seclusion—Correspondence with Wilson Law—Companionship of the Prophet and His Wife, Emma Smith—The Prophet’s Appreciation of His Friends.


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Tuesday, August 9.—In company with Judge Ralston and Lawyer Powers, preparing for the return of the sheriff; prepared a writ of habeas corpus for the master in chancery.

Wednesday, 10.—The deputy sheriff returned to Nauvoo, but I was absent and he did not see me, nor Brother Rockwell. He endeavored to alarm my wife and the brethren with his threats, if I was not forthcoming, but they understood the law in such cases, and his threats proved harmless.

Thursday, 11.—This forenoon Brother William Law entered into conversation with the sheriff on the illegality of the whole proceedings in reference to the arrest, when the sheriff acknowledged that he believed Joseph was innocent, and that Governor Carlin’s course which he had pursued, was unjustifiable and illegal.

Meeting of the Prophet with Confidential Friends.

I spent the day at Uncle John Smith’s in Zarahemla, and sent word that I wished to see Emma, Brothers Hyrum Smith, William Law and others, with instructions to meet me on the island between Nauvoo and Montrose. After dark, Emma Hyrum, William Law, Newel K. Whitney, George Miller, William Clayton, and Dimick Huntington, met at the waterside near the brick store, and proceeded in a skiff between the islands until they arrived near the lower end; and then hailed to shore. After waiting a very little while, the skiff arrived from the opposite shore, and in it were myself, and Brother Erastus H. Derby. A council was then held in the skiffs, and various statements set forth in regard to the state of things. It was reported that the governor of Iowa had issued a warrant for my apprehension, and that of Orrin P. Rockwell, and that the sheriff of Lee county was expected down immediately; very strong evidence was also manifested that Governor Reynolds of Missouri was not acquainted with these proceedings; that ex-Governor Boggs had made oath before a justice of the peace or a judge, and that the judge had made the requisition, and not Governor Reynolds, also that the writ issued by Carlin was illegal and unjustifiable. It is absolutely certain that the whole business is another glaring instance of the effects of prejudice against me as a religious teacher, and that it proceeds from a persecuting spirit, the parties have signified their determination to have me taken to Missouri, whether by legal or illegal means. It was finally concluded that I should be taken up the river in a skiff, and be landed below Wiggan’s farm, so called, and that I should proceed from thence to Brother Edward Sayers, and there abide for a season.

This being concluded upon, we separated, myself and Brother Derby being rowed up the river by Brother Dunham, and the remainder crossed over to Nauvoo. It was agreed that Brother Albert P. Rockwood should proceed up the river on shore to the place where the skiff should stop, and there light up two fires as a signal for a stopping place. After the boat had proceeded some distance above the city, a fire was discovered on shore. We concluded that it was the signal and immediately rowed towards shore. When near the shore one of the company hailed a person on the banks, but received a very unsatisfactory answer, whereupon we turned about and put to the channel, and upon coming near the middle of the river, discovered two fires a little higher up the stream. We immediately steered towards the fires and were happy to find Brother Rockwood awaiting our arrival. We then proceeded through the timber to Brother Sayers’ house, where we were very kindly received and made welcome.

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Judge Ralston and Lawyer Powers departed, each for home, expressing their perfect willingness to aid us in every possible manner. Judge Ralston also promised to ascertain the state of affairs in Quincy, and give us the earliest information.

State of Things in Iowa.

Friday, 12.—This forenoon it appeared still more evident that the whole course of proceedings by Governor Carlin and others was illegal. After some consultation with Brother William Law, Emma concluded to dispatch a messenger with a letter to Lawyer Powers, of Keokuk, to request him to go to Burlington, Iowa Territory, and there see the governor of Iowa, and endeavor to ascertain whether Governor Reynolds had made any requisition on him for myself and Rockwell. William Walker proceeded to cross the river on my horse, “Joe Duncan,” in sight of a number of persons—one chief design in this movement was to draw the attention of the sheriffs and public from all idea that I was on the Nauvoo side of the river.

At night William Clayton and John D. Parker, left Nauvoo after dark, and came to see me, and found me cheerful and in good spirits.

Efforts to Throw the Prophet off his Guard.

Saturday, 13.—This forenoon Brother Hyrum received a letter from Elder Hollister at Quincy, stating that Governor Carlin had said that his proceedings were illegal and he should not pursue the subject any further. The letter also stated that Ford (the agent to receive me from the hands of the sheriff and carry me to Missouri) had concluded to take the first boat and start home; and that he was going to fetch a force from Missouri. All this, my friends thought, was only a scheme got up for the purpose of throwing us off our guard, that they might come unexpectedly, kidnap, and carry me to Missouri.

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Visit of Emma to the Prophet.

I had sent a request to Emma to come to see me, and she concluded to start in the carriage, but while it was preparing, it attracted the attention of the sheriff who kept a close watch of all movements. To avoid suspicion, Emma walked to Sister Durphy’s and waited the arrival of the carriage which passed of down the river with William Clayton and Lorin Walker, with raised curtains, receiving Emma by the way, without any discovery by the sheriff; when about four miles down the river, the carriage turned on the prairie and passing around the city, turned into the timber opposite Wiggan’s farm, when Emma alighted and walked to Brother Sayers’, and the carriage returned. I was in good spirits, although somewhat addicted in body, and was much rejoiced to meet my dear wife once more.

A report came over the river to the following effect:

There are several small companies of men in Montrose, Nashville, Keokuk, &c., in search of Joseph, they saw his horse go down the river yesterday, and were confident he was on that side. They swear they will have him. It is said there is a reward of thirteen hundred dollars offered for the apprehension and delivery of Joseph and Rockwell, and this is supposed to have induced them to make search. The sheriff and deputy have uttered heavy threats several times; saying that if they could not find Joseph they would lay the city in ashes. They say they will tarry in the city a month, but what they will find him.

Great freshet in Virginia, Indian murders in Florida, and riots in Canada are reported in this day’s Wasp.

Sunday, 14.—Spent the forenoon chiefly in conversation with Emma on various subjects, and in reading my history with her—both felt in good spirits and very cheerful. Wrote the following letter to Wilson Law (who was officially reported to have been duly elected to the Office of major-general of the Nauvoo Legion) as follows:

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Letter of the Prophet to Wilson Law—Directing the Latter How to Proceed on Certain Contingencies Arising.

Headquarters Of Nauvoo Legion, August 14, 1842.

Major-General Law:

Dear General:—I take this opportunity to give you some instructions how I wish you to act in case our persecutors should carry their pursuits so far as to tread upon our rights as free-born American citizens. The orders which I am about to give you, are the result of a long series of contemplations since I saw you. I have come fully to the conclusion both since this last difficulty commenced as well as before, that I never would suffer myself to go into the hands of the Missourians alive, and to go into the hands of the officers of this state is nothing more or less than to go into the hands of the Missourians; for the whole farce has been gotten up unlawfully and unconstitutionally, as well on the part of the Governor as others, by a mob spirit, for the purpose of carrying out mob violence, to carry on mob intolerance in a religious persecution. I am determined, therefore, to keep out of their hands, and thwart their designs, if possible, that perhaps they may not urge the necessity of force and bloodshed against their own fellow citizens, and loyal subjects [of the state], and become ashamed and withdraw their pursuits. But if they should not do this, and shall urge the necessity of force; and if I by any means should be taken, these are therefore to command you forthwith, without delay, regardless of life or death, to rescue me out of their hands. And further, to treat any pretensions to the contrary, unlawful and unconstitutional, and as a mob got up for the purpose of a religious persecution to take away the rights if men.

And further that our chartered rights and privileges shall be considered by us as holding the supremacy in the premises, and shall be maintained. Nothing short of the Supreme Court of this State having authority to disannul them; and the Municipal Court having jurisdiction in my case. You will see, therefore, that the peace of the city of Nauvoo is kept, let who will endeavor to disturb it. You will also see, hat whenever any mob force, or violence is used on any citizen thereof, or that belongeth thereunto, you will see that that force or violence, is immediately dispersed and brought to punishment; or meet it, or contest it, at the point of the sword with firm, undaunted and unyielding valor; and let them know that the spirit of old Seventy-Six and of Washington yet lives, and is contained in the bosoms and blood of the children of the fathers. If there are any threats in the city, let legal steps be taken against them; and let no man, woman or child be intimidated, or suffer it to be done. Nevertheless, as I said in the first place, we will take every measure that lays in our power, and make every sacrifice that God or man could require at our hands to preserve the peace and safety of the people without collision. And if sacrificing my own liberty for months and years without stooping to the disgrace of Missouri persecutions and violence, and Carlin’s misrule and corruption. I bow to my fate with cheerfulness, and all due deference in consideration of the lives, safety and welfare of others. But if this policy cannot accomplish the desired object let our charter and municipality, free trade, and sailor’s rights be our motto, and go-ahead David Crocket like, and lay down our lives like men, and defend ourselves to the best advantage we can to the very last. You are therefore hereby authorized and commanded by virtue of the authority which I hold, and commission granted me by the executive of this state, to maintain the very letter and spirit of the above contents of this letter to the very best of your ability; to the extent of our lives and our fortunes, and to the lives and fortunes of the Legion; as also all those who may volunteer their lives and fortunes with ours; for the defense of our wives and children, our fathers and our mothers; our homes, our grave yards and our tombs; and our dead and their tombstones, and our dear bought American liberties, with the blood of our fathers and all that is dear and sacred to men.

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Shall we shrink at the onset? No! Let every man’s brow be as the face of a lion; let his breast be as unshaken as the mighty oak, and his knee confirmed as the sapling of the forest: and by the voice and loud roar of the cannon; and the loud peals and thundering of artillery; and by the voice of the thunderings of heaven as upon Mount Sinai; and by the voice of the heavenly hosts; and by the voice of the eternal God; and by the voice of innocent blood; and by the voice of innocence; and by the voice of all that is sacred and dear to man, let us plead the justice of our cause; trusting in the arm of Jehovah, the Eloheim, who sits enthroned in the heavens; that peradventure He may give as the victory; and if we bleed, we shall bleed in a good cause, in the cause of innocence and truth; and from henceforth will there not be a crown of glory for us? And will not those who come after hold our names in sacred remembrance? And will our enemies dare to brand us with cowardly reproach?

With these considerations, I subscribe myself, yours most faithfully and respectfully, with acknowledgments of your high and honored trusts as Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion.

Joseph Smith,

Mayor of the City of Nauvoo, and Lieutenant-General of the Nauvoo Legion, of Illinois Militia.

P.S.—I want you to communicate all the information to me of all the transactions as they are going on daily, in writing, by the hands of my aides-de-camp. As I am not willing that anything that goes from my hand to you should be made a public matter, I enjoin you to keep all things in your own bosom; and I want everything that comes from you to come through my aides. The bearer of this will be able to pilot them in a way that will not be prejudicial to my safety.

Joseph Smith.

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The Departure of Emma for Nauvoo.

I gave the foregoing letter to Emma with a charge to deliver it to General Law tomorrow. After considerable conversation on various subjects, and partaking of dinner Emma, accompanied by Brothers Derby and Clayton started for Nauvoo. The morning had been very wet, and the roads were very muddy. It was difficult walking—they proceeded to the river and entered a skiff, in which they proceeded across the river, and then down the side of the islands—soon after they got on the water, the wind began to blow very hard, and it was with much difficulty and apparent danger that they could proceed; but they continued on, and after considerable toil arrived opposite the city of Nauvoo—they went between the islands and crossed over the river to Montrose. As soon as they landed the wind abated, and was nearly calm. Brother Derby wanted to return up the river without the additional toil of crossing to Nauvoo—they met with Brother Ivins’ skiff just about to go over to Nauvoo, they got into that skiff and left Brother Derby to return at his own leisure. Before they could get over the wind arose again considerably, but they arrived safe home about six o’clock in the evening, where they found Mr. Powers from Keokuk, who had just returned from Burlington. While there he ascertained that there was no writ issued in Iowa for me.

The people inquired “if it was not true that Joseph had been commissioned by the United States to visit the Indians and negotiate with them for a tract of land,” such being the report in circulation. Mr. Powers answered that he “was not authorized to assert that the report was true, but he thought that it was not only possible, but probable;” but in this Mr. Powers was mistaken.

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Monday, 15.—This forenoon several reports were in circulation in the city, that the militia are on their way here, and the same is said to have been stated by the stage driver, but it is supposed that it is only a scheme to alarm the citizens. Emma presented the foregoing letter to Major-General Law, to which he responded as follows:

Letter of Wilson Law to the Prophet, Expressing Willingness to Carry out the Latter’s Instructions.

Nauvoo City, Illinois, August 15, Afternoon, 1842.

Lieutenant-General Joseph Smith:

Dear Friend:—I this morning received a line from you, by the young man (Walker) respecting the guns, &c. One of them is in the stone shop by the Nauvoo house. One I expect to get put into Mr. Ivins’ barn, and the other I cannot get under lock and key in any place I know of yet, but I will have them taken the best care of that I can.

I have also received from the hand of your lady your orders at length respecting matters and things, and I am happy indeed to receive such orders from you, for your views on these subjects are precisely my own. I do respond with my whole heart to every sentiment you have so nobly and so feelingly expressed, and while my heart beats, or this hand which now writes is able to write and wield a sword, you may depend on it being at your service in the glorious cause of liberty and truth, and ready in a moment’s warning to defend the rights of man, both civil and religious. Our common rights and peace is all we ask, and we will use every peaceable means in our power to enjoy these; our rights we must have, peace we must have if we have to fight for it.

There has nothing worthy of notice come to my knowledge today, the gentlemen officers are seemingly very unhappy and out of humor with themselves more than with anybody else. They see we have the advantage of them and that they cannot provoke us to break the law; and I think they know if they do that, we will use them up the right way. I guess they see that in our patience we possess our souls, and I know that if they shed, or cause to be shed, a drop of blood, of one of the least amongst us, that the lives of the transgressors shall atone for it, with the help of our God.

I send you the ordinance that was passed by the court martial on Saturday last, for your approval or otherwise, as it cannot become a law without your approbation. I also send you the returns of the election for Major-General, as you ordered the election, you will please order the war secretary of the Legion (Colonel Sloan) to send for a commission.

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With the warmest feelings of my heart, I remain most respectfully yours,

Wilson Law.

P.S.—Afternoon, 6 o’clock, I have just learned that Mr. Pitman got a letter about noon and got ready immediately, and started off, as he said for Carthage, but I think for Quincy, giving it up for a bad job.

W. L.

Unfriendly Spirits at Carthage.

About dark Brother Woolley returned from Carthage and stated that he had conversed with Chauncey Robinson, who informed him that he had ascertained that the sheriffs were determined to have me, and if they could not succeed themselves they would bring a force sufficient to search every house in the city, and if they could not find me there, they would search the state, &c.

As before stated, the sheriffs left the city, about four o’clock, saying they were going to Carthage, but Brother Woolley did not meet them on the road. It is believed they are gone to Quincy.

Calmness and Courage of the Prophet.

In consequence of these reports it was considered wisdom that some of the brethren should go and inform me. Accordingly about nine o’clock Hyrum Smith, George Miller, William Law, Amasa Lyman, John D. Parker, Newel K. Whitney and William Clayton started by different routes on foot and came to the place where I was. When the statement was made to me I proposed to leave the city, suspecting I was no longer safe, but upon hearing the whole statement from those present I said I should not leave my present retreat yet, I did not think I was discovered, neither did I think I was any more unsafe than before. I discovered a degree of excitement and agitation manifested in those who brought the report, and I took occasion to gently reprove all present for letting report excite them, and advised them not to suffer themselves to be wrought upon by any report, but to maintain an even, undaunted mind. Each one began to gather courage, and all fears were soon subsided, and the greatest union and good feeling prevailed amongst all present. Various subjects then were conversed upon, and counsel given which was felt to be most seasonable and salutary. After conversing awhile in the grove the company retired into the house and sat and conversed until about two o’clock, at which time they departed, evidently satisfied and much encouraged by the interview.

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A great whirlwind at Chauffailes, France. Thirty houses were carried away, and over twenty persons killed. Six hundred houses with all they contained were burned at Ursel, Russia.

The following editorial appeared in the Times and Seasons:


“If ye will live godly in Christ Jesus, ye shall suffer persecution,” was the solemn proclamation made by one of the ancient servants of God; a prophecy that has received its fulfillment in all ages, that has been known and understood by all Saints, and that has been engraven upon the memories of all the faithful; for while blood, and fire, and sword, and torture, have been brought into requisition against the Saints; whilst chains, and fetters and death have been employed, and their sighings and mournings have been wafted on the wings of the wind; their solitary hours and midnight cries; their distress and calamity have been disregarded. This eternal truth has re-echoed in their ears; it has touched their inmost soul; has been written on the tablet of their hearts—”if ye will live godly in Christ Jesus, ye shall suffer persecution.”

Ever since the formation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, calumny, reproach and persecution have flown plentifully into their lap—detraction, slander, falsehood, and misrepresentation have been gratuitously heaped upon them; they have been assailed by vexatious law suits, organized mobs, and illegally treated by militia; they have been imprisoned, whipped, tarred and feathered, and driven from their homes; they have had their property confiscated, and have suffered banishment, exile and death for their religion.

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Missouri has been one of the principal actors in the scene; she has made many a wife a widow, and many a child an orphan. The tears of the oppressed have plentifully watered her soil; the cries of her robbed and spoiled have rung through her valleys, and been re-echoed from hill to hill; many a weary pilgrim borne down with oppression and weary of life has laid himself down to sleep in the arms of death, while the blood of the innocent has drenched her soil. And never till the trump of God shall sound, the sleeping dead shall arise, the books be opened and the secret history of peoples and nations be unfolded, will the amount of their sufferings be fully known. That day will unfold scenes of wickedness, misery and oppression, and deeds of inhumanity and blood that the most eloquent cannot portray, the pencil of the limner depict; and that is beyond the power of language to unfold—scenes of misery, of woe, and human suffering. Dipped in the malice of the mast fiendish hate, the cup of misery has been wrung out, and they have drunk it to the very dregs.

Missouri, frantic with rage, and not yet filled with blood, wishes now to follow her bleeding victims to their exile, and satiate herself with blood. And not satisfied with staining her own escutcheon, she wishes to decoy the noble, generous and patriotic sons of Illinois—to deceive them with appearances—to draw them into her snare, that they may be sharer in her crimes, and participate in her guilt and stamp with eternal infamy their character. We have already to blush for the gullibility of many of her [Illinois] editors who feel desirous to fan the deadly flame, and stain their hands with her [Missouri’s] foul deeds. We would advise such to halt, to pause for a moment—to reflect upon what they are doing. Have they not witnessed Missouri’s wanton persecution; her cruel oppression; her deadly hate? Have they not loudly exclaimed against such proceedings; stood forth in defense of republicanism—and as true patriots defended the rights of man? And can they now advocate a cause that would attempt to make an innocent, virtuous people “tremble at the sight of gathering hosts!” or even moot the question.

Who is it that has made his affidavit that Joseph Smith has been accessory to shooting him? Governor Boggs of Missouri, a man, who, three years ago, issued an order to exterminate fifteen thousand men, women and children in republican America; a man who sanctioned mobocracy, and raised militia for that effect; a man who has been the cause of the death of scores of innocent people, and has actually been a wholesale murderer. This is the man who prefers the charge; a man who has long ago violated his constitutional oath. We deprecate at all times the commission of so diabolical a crime as that of murder if committed upon our greatest enemies; and would content ourselves with letting the Lord take vengeance into His own hands. Moreover we would seriously ask if his [Governor Boggs’] statement concerning Joseph Smith is probable, or even possible, under the circumstances mentioned by him? Could Governor Boggs swear that Joseph Smith was accessory before the fact, when he has not seen him for three years? and when Joseph Smith has not been in the state of Missouri for that length of time? Whatever his belief might be about his being engaged in the plot, he could not swear to it. Concerning Rockwell, he was in Missouri, and it is reported that he is gone there to prove himself clear, but we should think that Missouri is the last place to go for justice; we don’t think that she is capable of administering it to the Mormons; she must, however, first atone for her bloody deeds, and refund to them what she has robbed them of before their confidence can be restored in her justice, or righteousness. But we would ask, is there no one to murder men but Mormons? Are not assassins stalking through her streets daily? Let the history of the frequent murders in St. Louis and other places in Missouri answer. But again, who does not know that Boggs has been in frequent difficulties with other people; that he has been on the point of duelling with senators, and that his life has been frequently threatened, and that not by Mormons: this we are prepared to prove. Without saying more upon this subject we will proceed to give a history of the arrest.

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On Monday the 8th instant General Smith was arrested upon a warrant under the signature of Governor Carlin, in accordance, as stated, with a call from Governor Reynolds of Missouri, upon the affidavit of ex-Governor Boggs. Mr. Rockwell was arrested at the same time as the principal. There was no evasion of this call for the persons of Messrs. Smith and Rockwell. The Municipal Court, however, issued a writ of habeas corpus, according to the constitution and city charter. This writ demanded the bodies of Smith and Rockwell to be brought before the said court, but the officers in charge of these men refused to obey its call; though after some deliberation, they left them in charge of the city marshal, without the original writ by which they were arrested, and by which only they could be retained, and returned back to Governor Carlin for further instruction. Thus Messrs. Smith and Rockwell were free from the arrest, as the marshal had no authority to hold them in custody. Some two or three days after, the aforesaid officers returned, for the purpose of executing the Governor’s order, without paying attention to the writ of habeas corpus issued by the Municipal Court; but Messrs. Smith and Rockwell were absent.

In a free government every person’s rights and privileges are the same; no extraordinary process can issue legally, nor no extra-judicial act be required; justice, like her representative goddess, is blind to appearances, and favors no one. In this point of view, then, let us legally examine the case in question:—Mr. Boggs makes an affidavit in Missouri, and charges one O. P. Rockwell with “shooting Lilburn W. Boggs with intent to kill,” on the night of the 6th of May, 1842, and that the said Rockwell had fled from justice to the state of Illinois. Shooting with intent to kill, and Mr. Boggs alive two or three months after to swear to it may be set down as insufficient grounds for writ from the governor of one state, to demand a person as a fugitive from justice in another state. For aught that appears to the contrary, he might have shot in his own defense and been justifiable; as the charge is not grounded on the wilful, malicious, or felonious intent, without the fear of God before his eyes, to murder. The affidavit is therefore not sufficient for the apprehension, detention and transportation of the said Rockwell to the courts of Missouri. Here we deny that the Orrin P. Rockwell arrested is the one intended in the writ, this Rockwell being not guilty.

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If Mr. Boggs knew, of himself, the fact that Mr. Rockwell shot at him with intent to kill, why did he delay the prosecution some two or three months? If he obtained his knowledge from a second or third person, why not avail himself of their affidavits in the body of the writ?

Again, Mr. Boggs charges one Mr. Joseph Smith with being “accessory before the fact to an assault with intent to kill,” on the night of the sixth of May, 1842. This must allude to some other Joseph Smith, as the Joseph Smith of this city, was in Nauvoo on the aforesaid sixth of May, 1842, and on the next day he was at his post as Lieut. Gen. of the Nauvoo Legion. Nor can it be proved that he has been in the state of Missouri for the last three years.

But for the sake of argument admit the language of the writ, and Joseph Smith as an accessory before the fact, with intent to kill, must have aided or abetted by words, or by means, while in the state of Illinois, and cannot come under the purview of the fugitive act. Having not fled from justice from another state; and, according to the express language of the constitution; “he could not be liable to be transported but of the state for an offense committed within the same.”

An accessory before the fact in man-slaughter is an anomaly—and now if the Joseph Smith of Nauvoo, has committed a crime of the nature charged in the writ, which we deny in toto, he should be held amenable to the laws of Illinois, and in the ordinary course of procedure by indictment, in accordance with the right of the constitution, which says that he should have a “speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the vicinage.”

Judging now from all the facts of the case, taking the two affidavits together, we must say that the whole forms but a poor excuse for executive interference, and when properly weighed by good judges of law in criminal jurisprudence, will be found wanting in all the important counts which constitute a fair case.

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As to the writ of habeas corpus, issued by the Municipal Court of the city of Nauvoo, it was not acted upon, though we believe that so long as it was not incompatible with the spirit and meaning of the constitution of the state, and of the constitution of the United States, its power was sovereign, as to the rights and privileges of citizens, granted to them by the City Charter, having these express privileges, in words as follows: “To make, ordain, establish and execute all such ordinances, not repugnant to the constitution of the United States and of this state, as they may deem necessary for the peace, benefit, good order, regulation, convenience and cleanliness of the city”—and “the Municipal Court shall have power to grant writs of habeas corpus in all cases arising under the ordinance of the city council.”

Now, it is well known that if this court exceeded the bounds of the chartered power, or transcended the limits of the constitution of the state, or United States, it could be made to respond in a writ of quo warranto; and, as a writ of habeas corpus can only test the validity, not the virtue of a process (as testimony to prove the guilt or innocence of a person—under an investigation by habeas corpus, is inadmissible), we believe, that judges, lawyers, and jurors, will not be very apprehensive that the law of the land, or the rights of the people, will suffer violence on this account.

Under the existing animosity of the inhabitants of the state of Missouri, manifested towards the Church of Latter-day Saints, prudence would dictate great caution, and forbearance in the proceedings of public functionaries, relative to claims for persons or property in favor of either party, holding sacred the old maxim: “That it would be better to let ninety and nine guilty persons go unpunished, than to punish one innocent person unjustly.”

Concerning the whole matter, we believe that the parties are entirely innocent of the charges alleged against them; and that the whole of it is a wicked and malicious persecution. But it may here be asked by some, if they are innocent, why did they not apply to the master in chancery for a writ of habeas corpus, present themselves before the judge of the District Court, and prove themselves clear?

First, we would answer, that the writ of our Municipal Court was treated with contempt by the officers, and it would have been dishonoring our municipal authorities to have acknowledged the insufficiency of their writ, and to have let our city charter be wantonly trodden under foot; and that could not have been enforced without coercion, and perhaps employing military force, which under the present excited state of society might have been construed to treason.

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In the second place, if they appealed to the District Court it might have availed them nothing, even if the judge felt disposed to do justice (which we certainly believe he would have done) as their dismissal would rest upon some technicalities of law, rather than upon the merits of the case; as testimony to prove the guilt or innocence of the persons charged, could not be admitted on the investigation on a writ of habeas corpus, the question not being whether the persons are guilty or not guilty; but merely to test the validity of the writ; which if proved to be issued in due form of law, however innocent the parties might be, would subject them to be transported to Missouri—to be murdered.

Upon the whole we think that they have taken the wisest course; we have no reflections to make upon their conduct, and shall maintain unshaken our opinions unless we have more light on the subject than we now possess.

Tuesday, August 16—Wrote as follows:—

The Prophet’s Letter to Emma Smith—Detailing Prospective Movements.

Nauvoo, August 16, 1842.

My Dear Emma:—I embrace this opportunity to express to you some of my feelings this morning. First of all, I take the liberty to tender you my sincere thanks for the two interesting and consoling visits that you have made me during my almost exiled situation. Tongue cannot express the gratitude of my heart, for the warm and true-hearted friendship you have manifested in these things towards me. The time has passed away, since you left me, very agreeably thus far; my mind being perfectly reconciled to my fate, let it be what it may. I have been kept from melancholy and dumps, by the kind-heartedness of Brother Derby, and his interesting chit-chat from time to time, which has called my mind from the more strong contemplation of things and subjects that would have preyed more earnestly upon my feelings.

Last night Brothers Hyrum, Miller, Law, and others came to see us. They seemed much agitated, and expressed some fears in consequence of some maneuverings and some flying reports which they had heard in relation to our safety; but, after relating what it was, I was able to comprehend the whole matter to my entire satisfaction, and did not feel at all alarmed or uneasy. They think, however, that the militia will be called out to search the city; and if this should be the case, I would be much safer for the time being at a little distance off, until Governor Carlin could get weary, and be made ashamed of his corrupt and unhallowed proceedings. I had supposed, however, that if there were any serious operations taken by the governor, that Judge Ralston, or Brother Hollister would have notified us; and cannot believe that anything very serious is to be apprehended, until we obtain information from a source that can be relied upon.

I have consulted whether it is best for you to go to Quincy and see the Governor; but, on the whole, he is a fool; and the impressions that are suggested to my mind are, that it will be of no use; and the more we notice him and flatter him, the more eager he will be for our destruction. You may write to him whatever you see proper, but to go and see him, I do not give my consent at present.

Brother Miller again suggested to me the propriety of my accompanying him to the Pine Woods, and then he return, and bring you and the children. My mind will eternally revolt at every suggestion of that kind, more especially since the dream and vision that was manifested to me on the last night. My safety is with you, if you want to have it so. Anything more or less than this cometh of evil. My feelings and counsel I think ought to be abided. If I go to the Pine country, you shall go along with me, and the children; and if you and the children go not with me, I don’t go. I do not wish to exile myself for the sake of my own life, I would rather fight it out. It is for your sakes, therefore, that I would do such a thing. I will go with you, then, in the same carriage, and on horseback from time to time as occasion may require; for I am not willing to trust you in the hands of those who cannot feel the same interest for you that I feel; to be subject to the caprice, temptations, or notions of anybody whatever. And I must say that I am prepossessed somewhat with the notion of going to the Pine country anyhow; for I am tired of the mean, low, and unhallowed vulgarity of some portions of the society in which we live; and I think if I could have a respite of about six months with my family, it would be a savor of life unto life, with my house. Nevertheless, if it were possible, I would like to live here in peace and wind up my business; but if it should be ascertained to a dead certainty that there is no other remedy, then we will round up our shoulders and cheerfully endure it; and this will be the plan: Let my horse, saddle, saddle-bags, and valise to put some shirts and clothing in, be sent to me. Let Brothers Derby and Miller take a horse and put it into my buggy, with a trunk containing my heavier clothes, shoes, boots, &c.; and let Brother Taylor accompany us to his father’s, and there we will tarry, taking every precaution to keep out of the hands of the enemy, until you can arrive with the children. Let Brother Hyrum bring you. Let Lorin Farr and Brother Clayton come along, and bring all the writings, and papers, books, and histories, for we shall want a scribe in order that we may pour upon the world the truth, like the lava from Mount Vesuvius. Then, let all the goods, household furniture, clothes, and store goods that can be procured be put on the boat, and let twenty or thirty of the best men that we can find be put on board to man it, and let them meet us at Prairie-du-Chien; and from thence we will wend our way like larks up the Mississippi, until the towering mountains and rocks shall remind us of the places of our nativity, and shall look like safety and home; and then we will bid defiance to the world, to Carlin, Boggs, Bennett, and all their whorish whores and motly clan, that follow in their wake, Missouri not excepted, and until the damnation of hell rolls upon them, by the voice, and dread thunders, and trump of the eternal God. Then in that day will we not shout in the victory, and be crowned with eternal joys, for the battles we have fought, having kept the faith and overcome the world?

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Tell the children it is well with their father as yet; and that he remains in fervent prayer to Almighty God for the safety of himself, and for you, and for them.

Tell Mother Smith that it shall be well with her son, whether in life or in death; for thus saith the Lord God. Tell her that I remember her all the while, as well as Lucy, and all the rest. They all must be of good cheer.

Tell Hyrum to be sure and not fail to carry out my instructions; but, at the same time if the militia does not come, and we should get any favorable information, all may be well yet.

Yours in haste, your affectionate husband until death, through all eternity; for evermore.

Joseph Smith.

P.S. I want you to write to Lorenzo D. Wasson, and get him to make affidavit to all he knows about Bennett, and forward it. I also want you to ascertain from Hyrum whether he will conform to what I have requested; and you must write me an answer per bearer, giving me all the news you have, and what is the appearance of things this morning.

J. S.

I also wrote General Law as follows:—

Joseph Smith’s Letter to Wilson Law—Concerning Probable Movements of the Prophet.

Headquarters Nauvoo Legion, August 16, 1842.

Major-General Law:

Beloved Brother and Friend:—Those few lines which I received from you, written on the 15th, were to me like apples of gold in pictures of silver. I rejoice with exceeding great joy to be associated in the high and responsible stations which we hold, [with one] whose mind and feelings and heart are so congenial with my own. I love that soul that is so nobly entabernacled in that clay of yours. May God Almighty grant that it may be satiated with seeing a fulfillment of every virtuous and manly desire that you possess! May we be able to triumph gloriously over those who seek our destruction and overthrow, which I believe we shall.

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The news you wrote me is more favorable than that which was communicated by the brethren. They seemed a little agitated for my safety, and advised me for the Pine Woods country, but I succeeded admirably in calming all their fears; but, nevertheless, as I said in my former letter, I was willing to exile myself for months and years, if it would be for the welfare and safety of the people; and I do not know but it would be as well for me to take a trip to the Pine countries, and remain until arrangements can be made for my most perfect safety when I return. These are, therefore, to confer with you on this subject, as I want to have a concert of action in everything I do. If I knew that they would oppress me alone, and let the rest of you dwell peaceably and quietly, I think it would be the wisest plan to absent myself for a little season, if by that means we could prevent the effusion of blood.

Please write and give me your mind on that subject, and all other information that has come to hand today, and what are the signs of the times. I have no news, for I am where I cannot get much. All is quiet and peaceable around. I therefore wait with earnest expectation for your advices. I am anxious to know your opinion on any course that I may see proper to take, for in the multitude of counsel there is safety.

I add no more, but subscribe myself your faithful and most obedient servant, friend, and brother,

Joseph Smith,

Lieut.-General of the Nauvoo Legion of Illinois Militia.

The foregoing letters were delivered to Brother Derby, who proceeded immediately to the city.

Brother Derby has taken the greatest interest in my welfare, and I feel to bless him.

Blessing of the Prophet upon Erastus H. Derby.

Blessed is Brother Erastus H. Derby, and he shall be blessed of the Lord. He possesses a sober mind, and a faithful heart. The snares therefore that will subsequently befall other men, who are treacherous and rotten hearted, shall not come nigh unto his doors, but shall be far from the path of his feet. He loveth wisdom and shall be found possessed of her. Let there be a crown of glory and a diadem upon his head. Let the light of eternal truth shine forth upon his understanding; let his name be had in everlasting remembrance; let the blessings of Jehovah be crowned upon his posterity after him, for he rendered me consolation in the lonely places of my retreat. How good and glorious it has seemed unto me, to find pure and holy friends, who are faithful, just, and true, and whose hearts fail not; and whose knees are confirmed and do not falter, while they wait upon the Lord, in administering to my necessities, in the day when the wrath of mine enemies was poured out upon me.

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In the name of the Lord, I feel in my heart to bless them, and to say in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, that these are the ones that shall inherit eternal life. I say it by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and by the ministering of holy angels, and by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost.

Sentiments of the Prophet Towards His Wife Emma.

How glorious were my feelings when I met that faithful and friendly band, on the night of the eleventh, on Thursday, on the island at the mouth of the slough, between Zarahemla and Nauvoo: with what unspeakable delight, and what transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand, on that night, my beloved Emma—she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth, and the choice of my heart. Many were the reverberations of my mind, when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through, the fatigues and the toils, the sorrows and sufferings, and the joys and consolations, from time to time, which had strewed our paths and crowned our board. Oh what a commingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here, even in the seventh trouble—undaunted, firm, and unwavering—unchangeable, affectionate Emma!

The Prophet’s Love for His Brother Hyrum.

There was Brother Hyrum who next took me by the hand—a natural brother. Thought I to myself, Brother Hyrum, what a faithful heart you have got! Oh may the Eternal Jehovah crown eternal blessings upon your head, as a reward for the care you have had for my soul! O how many are the sorrows we have shared together; and again we find ourselves shackled with the unrelenting hand of oppression. Hyrum, thy name shall be written in the book of the law of the Lord, for those who come after thee to look upon, that they may pattern after thy works.

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The Bond Between the Prophet and Newel K. Whitney.

Said I to myself, Here is Brother Newel K. Whitney also. How many scenes of sorrows have strewed our paths together; and yet we meet once more to share again. Thou art a faithful friend in whom the afflicted sons of men can confide, with the most perfect safety. Let the blessings of the Eternal also be crowned upon his head. How warm that heart! how anxious that soul! for the welfare of one who has been cast out, and hated of almost all men. Brother Whitney, thou knowest not how strong those ties are that bind my soul and heart to thee.

My heart was overjoyed as I took the faithful band by the hand, that stood upon the shore, one by one. William Law, William Clayton, Dimick B. Huntington, George Miller, were there. The above names constituted the little group.

The Prophet’s Exaltation of Spirit.

I do not think to mention the particulars of the history of that sacred night, which shall forever be remembered by me; but the names of the faithful are what I wish to record in this place. These I have met in prosperity, and they were my friends; and I now meet them in adversity, and they are still my warmer friends. These love the God that I serve; they love the truths that I promulgate; they love those virtuous, and those holy doctrines that I cherish in my bosom with the warmest feelings of my heart, and with that zeal which cannot be denied. I love friendship and truth; I love virtue and law; I love the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; and they are my brethren, and I shall live; and because I live they shall live also. These are not the only ones who have administered to my necessity and whom the Lord will bless. There is Brother John D. Parker and Brother Amasa Lyman, and Brother Wilson Law, and Brother Henry G. Sherwood. My heart feels to reciprocate the unwearied kindnesses that have been bestowed upon me by these men. They are men of noble stature, of noble hands, and of noble deeds; possessing noble, and daring, and giant hearts and souls. There is Brother Joseph B. Noble also, I would call up in remembrance before the Lord. There is Brother Samuel H. Smith, a natural brother—he is even as Hyrum. There is Brother Arthur Millikin also, who married my youngest sister, Lucy: he is a faithful, an honest, and an upright man.

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The Prophet’s Gratitude.

While I call up in remembrance before the Lord these men, I would be doing injustice to those who rowed me in the skiff up the river that night, after parted with the lovely group—who brought me to this my safe, and lonely, and private retreat—Brother Jonathan Dunham, and the other, whose name I do not know. Many were the thoughts that swelled my aching heart, while they were toiling faithfully with their oars. They complained not of hardship and fatigue to secure my safety. My heart would have been harder than an adamantine stone, if I had not prayed for them with anxious and fervent desire. I did so, and the still small voice whispered to my soul: These, that share your toils with such faithful hearts, shall reign with you in the kingdom of their God; but I parted with them in silence, and came to my retreat. I hope I shall see them again, that I may toil for them, and administer to their comfort also. They shall not want a friend while I live; my heart shall love those, and my hands shall toil for those, who love and toil for me, and shall ever be found faithful to my friends. Shall I be ungrateful? Verily no! God forbid!

I design to continue this subject at a future time.

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