Volume 6 Chapter 21


The Destruction of the “Nauvoo Expositor”—Proceedings of the Nauvoo City Council and Mayor.


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Nauvoo Expositor before Nauvoo City Council.

Monday, June 10, 1844.—I was in the City Council from 10 A.M., to 1:20 P.M., and from 2:20 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. investigating the merits of the Nauvoo Expositor, and also the conduct of the Laws, Higbees, Fosters, and others, who have formed a conspiracy for the purpose of destroying my life, and scattering the Saints or driving them from the state.

Ordinance on Libels.

An ordinance was passed concerning libels. The Council passed an ordinance declaring the Nauvoo Expositor a nuisance, and also issued an order to me to abate the said nuisance. I immediately ordered the Marshal to destroy it without delay, and at the same time issued an order to Jonathan Dunham, acting Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion, to assist the Marshal with the Legion, if called upon so to do.

About 8 P.M., the Marshal returned and reported that he had removed the press, type, printed paper, and fixtures into the street, and destroyed them. This was done because of the libelous and slanderous character of the paper, its avowed intention being to destroy the municipality and drive the Saints from the city. The posse accompanied by some hundreds of the citizens, returned with the Marshal to the front of the Mansion, when I gave them a short address, and told them they had done right and that not a hair of their heads should be hurt for it; that they had executed the orders which were given me by the City Council; that I would never submit to have another libelous publication established in the city; that I did not care how many papers were printed in the city, if they would print the truth: but would submit to no libels or slanders from them. I then blessed them in the name of the Lord. This speech was loudly greeted by the assembly with three-times-three cheers. The posse and assembly then dispersed all in good order. Francis M. Higbee and others made some threats.

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East wind. Very cold and cloudy.

I here insert the

Ordinance Concerning Libels and for Other Purposes.

Whereas the Saints in all ages of the world have suffered persecution and death by wicked and corrupt men under the garb of a mere holy appearance of religion; and whereas the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, from the moment that its first truth sprang out of the earth till now, has been persecuted with death, destruction, and extermination; and, whereas men to fulfill the Scriptures that a man’s enemies are they of his own household, have turned traitors in the Church, and combined and leagued with the most corrupt scoundrels and villains that disgrace the earth unhung, for the Heaven-daring and damnable purpose of revenge on account of disappointed lust, disappointed projects of speculation, fraud, and unlawful designs to rob and plunder mankind with impunity; and, whereas such wicked and corrupt men have greatly facilitated their unlawful designs, horrid intentions, and murderous plans by polluting, degrading and converting the blessings and utility of the press to the sin-smoking and blood-stained ruin of innocent communities—by publishing lies, false statements, coloring the truth, slandering men, women, children, societies, and countries—by polishing the characters of blacklegs, highwaymen, and murderers as virtuous; and whereas a horrid, bloody, secret plan, upheld, sanctioned and largely patronized by men in Nauvoo and out of it, who boast that all they want for the word go, to exterminate or ruin the Latter day Saints, is for them to do one unlawful act, and the work shall be done, is now fostered, cherished, and maturing in Nauvoo,—by men, too, who helped to obtain the very charter they would break, and some of them drew up and voted for the very ordinances they are striving to use as a scarecrow to frighten the surrounding country in rebellion, mobbing, and war; and whereas, while the blood of our brethren from wells, holes and naked prairies, and the ravishment of female virtue from Missouri, and the smoke from the altars of infamy, prostituted by John C. Bennett, and continued in the full tide of experiment and disgraceful damnation by the very self-called fragments of a body of degraded men that have got up a press in Nauvoo to destroy the charter of the city—to destroy Mormonism, men, women, and children as Missouri did; by force of arms—by fostering laws that emanate from corruption and betray with a kiss; wherefore to honor the State of Illinois, and those patriots who gave the charter, and for the benefit, convenience, health, and happiness of said city:—

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Sec. 1. Be it ordained by the City Council of Nauvoo that if any person or persons shall write or publish in said city any false statement or libel any of the citizens, for the purpose of exciting the public mind against the chartered privileges, peace, and good order of said city, or shall slander (according to the definition of slander or libel by Blackstone or Kent, or the act in the statute of Illinois,) any portion of the inhabitants of said city, or bribe any portion of the citizens of said city for malicious purposes, or in any manner or form excite the prejudice of the community against any portion of the citizens of said city, for evil purposes, he, she, or they shall be deemed disturbers of the peace; and, upon conviction before the Mayor or Municipal Court, shall be fined in any sum not exceeding five hundred dollars, or imprisoned six months, or both, at the discretion of said Mayor or court.

Sec. 2. Be it further ordained that nothing in the foregoing section shall be so construed as to interfere with the right of any person to be tried by a jury of his vicinage, with the freedom of speech or the liberty of the press, according to the most liberal meaning of the Constitution, the dignity of freemen, the voice of truth, and the rules of virtue.

Sec. 3. And be it further ordained that this ordinance shall be in force from and after its passage.

Passed June 10th, 1844.

Geo. W. Harris, President, pro tem.

W. Richards, Recorder.

I also insert a brief synopsis of the proceedings of the City Council of the city of Nauvoo, relative to the destruction of the press and fixtures of the Nauvoo Expositor.

Synopsis of Proceedings in the City Council against the Nauvoo Expositor.

City Council, Regular

Session, June 8th, 1844.

In connection with other business as stated in last week’s paper, the Mayor remarked that he believed it generally the case, that when a man goes to law, he has an unjust cause, and wants to go before some one who wants business, and that he had very few cases on his docket; and referring to Councilor Emmons, editor of the Nauvoo Expositor, suggested the propriety of first purging the City Council; and, referring to the character of the paper and proprietors, called up Theodore Turley, a mechanic, who being sworn, said that the Laws (William and Wilson,) had brought bogus dies to him to fix.

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Councilor Hyrum Smith inquired what good Foster and his brother and the Higbees and Laws had ever done. While his brother Joseph was under arrest from the Missouri persecution, the Laws and Robert D. Foster would have been ridden on a rail, if he had not stepped forward to prevent it, on account of their oppressing the poor.

Mayor said, while he was under arrest by writ from Governor Carlin William Law sued him for $40 he was owing Law, and it took the last expense money he had to pay it.

Councilor Hyrum Smith referred to J. H. Jackson’s coming to this city, &c. Mayor said that William Law had offered Jackson $500 to kill him.

Councilor Hyrum Smith continued—Jackson told him he (Jackson) meant to have his daughter, and threatened him if he made any resistance. Jackson related to him a dream, that Joseph and Hyrum were opposed to him, but that he would execute his purposes; that Jackson had laid a plan with four or five persons to kidnap his daughter, and threatened to shoot any one that should come near after he had got her in the skiff; that Jackson was engaged in trying to make bogus, which was his principal business. Referred to the revelation read to the High Council of the Church, which has caused so much talk, about multiplicity of wives; that said revelation was in answer to a question concerning things which transpired in former days. That when sick, William Law confessed to him that he had been guilty of adultery, and was not fit to live, and had sinned against his own soul, &c., and inquired who was Judge Emmons? When he came here he had scarce two shirts to his back; but he had been dandled by the authorities of the city, &c., and was now editor of the Nauvoo Expositor, and his right hand man, was Francis M. Higbee, who had confessed to him that he had had the——!

Washington Peck sworn, said—”Soon after Joseph H. Jackson came here, he came to witness to borrow money, which witness loaned him and Cook some jewelry as security.

Soon after a man from across the river came after the jewelry. Jackson had stolen the jewelry from him.

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At another time wanted to get money of witness. Asked witness if he would do anything dishonorable to get a living. Witness said he would not. Jackson said witness was a damn fool, for he could get a living, a deal easier than he was then doing, by making bogus; and some men high in the Church, are engaged in the business.

Witness asked if it was Joseph. “No,” said Jackson; “I dare not tell it to Joseph.” Witness understood him the Laws are engaged in it. Jackson said he would be the death of witness, if he ever went to Joseph, or anyone else, to tell what he had said.

Afternoon.—Ordered by the Council that Sylvester Emmons be suspended until his case could be investigated, for slandering the City Council. That the Recorder notify him of his suspension, and that his case would come up for investigation at the next regular session of the Council. (The order is in the hands of the Marshal).

Councilor John Taylor said that Counci or Emmons helped to make the ordinances of the city, and had never lifted his voice against them in the Council, and was now trying to destroy the ordinances and the charter.

Lorenzo Wasson sworn, said Josoph H. Jackson had told witness that bogus-making was going on in the city; but it was too damned small business. Wanted witness to help him to procure money, for the General (Smith) was afraid to go into it; and with $500 he could get an engraving for bills on the Bank of Missouri, and one on the State of New York, and could make money. Said many times witness did not know him. Believed the General had been telling witness something. “G—d d—n him; if he has, I will kill him; Swore he would kill any man that should prove a traitor to him,” Jackson said, if he could get a company of men to suit him, he would go into the frontiers and live by highway robbery; had got sick of the world.

Mayor suggested that the Council pass an ordinance to prevent misrepresentations and libelous publications and conspiracies against the peace of the city; and, referring to the reports that Dr. Foster has set afloat, said he had never made any proposals to Foster to come back to the Church. Foster proposed to come back; came to Mayor’s house, and wanted a private interview. Had some conversation with Foster in the hall, in presence of several gentlemen, on the 7th inst. Offered to meet him and have an interview in presence of friends, three or four, to be selected by each party; which Foster agreed to, and went to bring his friends for the interview; and the next notice he had of him was the following letter:—

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To General Joseph Smith:

June 7th, 1844.

Sir,—I have consulted my friends in relation to your proposals of settlement, and they as well as myself, are of opinion that your conduct, and that of your unworthy, unprincipled clan, is so base, that it would be morally wrong, and detract from the dignity of gentlemen, to hold any conference with you. The repeated insults and abuses I, as well as my friends, have suffered from your unlawful course towards us, demands honorable resentment. We are resolved to make this our motto.

Nothing on our part has been done to provoke your anger, but have done all things as become men. You have trampled upon everything we hold dear and sacred. You have set all law at defiance, and profaned the name of the Most High to carry out your damnable purposes; and I have nothing more to fear from you than you have already threatened; and I, as well as my friends, will stay here and maintain and magnify the law as long as we stay; and we are resolved never to leave until we sell or exchange our property that we have here.

The proposals made by your agent, Dimick Huntington, as well as the threats you sent to intimidate me, I disdain and despise as I do their unhallowed author. The right of my family and my friends demands at my hand a refusal of all your offers. We are united in virtue and truth, and we set hell at defiance, and all her agents. Adieu.

R. D. Foster.

Mayor continued—And when Foster left his house, he went to a shoe shop on the hill, and reported that Joseph said to him, if he would come back he would give him Law’s place in the Church, and a hat-full of specie.

Lucien Woodworth sworn. Said that the conversation as stated by the Mayor was correct. Was at the Mansion June 7th, when Dr. Foster rode up and inquired if General Smith was at home. Dr. Foster went into the house; witness followed. Dr. Foster was there, the General, and others, looking at some specimens of penmanship. Something was said respecting a conversation at that time between the General and the Doctor, Gen. Smith observed to Foster, if he had a conversation, he would want others present. The Doctor said he would have a word with him by himself, and went into the hall. Witness went to the door that he might see and hear what was passing. They still continued to talk on the subject of a conversation that they might have afterwards with others present, whom Mr. Smith and Foster might choose. Foster left, and went for those that he said he wanted present, and would return soon with them. He heard all the conversation. Heard nothing about Gen. Smith’s making any offers to Foster to settle.

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Mayor said he wished it distinctly understood that he knew nothing about Dimick Huntington going to see Foster.

Woodworth said he sent Dimick Huntington to Foster, and Joseph knew nothing about it.

Councilor Hyrum Smith said Dimick Huntington came to him on the 7th inst. and said he had had an interview with Dr. Foster, and thought he was about ready to come back, and a word from him or Joseph would bring it about.

Mayor said—”The conduct of such men and such papers are calculated to destroy the peace of the city, and it is not safe that such thing should exist, on account of the mob spirit which they tend to produce.” He had made the statements he had, and called the witnesses to prepare the council to act in the case.

Emmons was blackguarded out of Philadelphia, and dubbed with the title of Judge (as he had understood from citizens of Philadelphia); was poor, and Mayor helped him to cloth for a coat before he went away last fall, and he (Emmons) labored all winter to get the postoffice from Mr. Rigdon (as informed).

Mayor referred to a writing from Dr. Goforth, showing that the Laws presented the communication from the Female Relief Society in the Nauvoo Neighbor to Dr. Goforth, as the bone of contention, and said if God ever spake by any man, it will not be five years before this city is in ashes and we in our graves, unless we go to Oregon, California or some other place, if the city does not put down everything which tends to mobocracy, and put down murderers, bogus-makers, and scoundrels. All the sorrow he ever had in his family in this city has arisen through the influence of William Law.

Councilor H. Smith spoke in relation to the Laws, Fosters, Higbees, editor of the Signal, &c., and of the importance of suppressing that spirit which has driven us from Missouri, &c.; that he would go in for an effective ordinance.

Mayor said, at the time Governor Carlin was pursuing him with his writs, William Law came to his house with a band of Missourians for the purpose of betraying him. Came to his gate, and was prevented by Daniel Carn, who was set to watch. Law came within his gate and called, “Mayor,” and the Mayor reproved Law for coming at that time of night with a company of strangers.

Daniel Carn sworn. Said that about ten o’clock at night a boat came up the river with about a dozen men. William Law came to the gate with them. Witness on guard, stopped them. Law called Joseph to the door, and wanted an interview. Joseph said—”Brother Law, you know better than to come here at this hour of the night,” and Law retired. Next morning Law wrote a letter to apologize, which witness heard read, which was written apparently to screen himself from the censure of a conspiracy; and the letter betrayed a conspiracy on the face of it.

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Adjourned at half-past 6 P.M. . till Monday, 10th, 10 o’clock A.M.

Adjourned session, June 10th, 10 o’clock A.M. Alderman Harris presiding.

Mayor referred to Dr. Foster, and again read his letter of the 7th instant (as before quoted).

Cyrus Hills (a stranger) sworn. Said one day last week, believed it Wednesday, a gentleman whom witness did not know, came into the sitting room of the Nauvoo Mansion, and requested the Hon. Mayor to step aside; he wanted to speak with him. Mayor stepped through the door into the entry by the foot of the stairs, and the General (Mayor) asked him what he wished? Foster (as witness learned since was his name) said he wanted some conversation on some business witness did not understand at the time. The General refused to go any farther, and said he would have no conversation in private, and what should be said should be in public, and told Foster, if he would choose three or four men, he would meet him with the same number of men (among whom was his brother Hyrum), and they would have a cool and calm investigation of the subject; and by his making a proper satisfaction, things should be honorably adjusted. Witness judged, from the manner in which Foster expressed himself, that he agreed to the Mayor’s proposals, and would meet him the same day in the presence of friends. Heard no proposals made by Major to Foster for settlement. Heard nothing about any offers of dollars, or money, or any other offer except those mentioned before. Nothing said about William Law. Was within hearing of the parties at the time conversation was going on.

Orrin P. Rockwell sworn. Some day last week saw Dr. Foster ride up to the Nauvoo Mansion and go in. Witness went in and found the Mayor and Dr. Foster in conversation. General Smith was naming the men he would have present, among whom were Hyrum Smith, William Marks, Lucien Woodworth, and Peter Haws; and Dr. Foster had leave to call an equal number of his friends, as witness understood, for the purpose of having an interview on some matters in contention.

The Doctor’s brother was proposed. General said he had no objection; wanted him present. Dr. Foster started, saying he would be back shortly. Before Dr. Foster left, the men whom General Smith had named to be present at the conversation were sent for.

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Cross-examined. Witness went into the house as Mayor and Dr. Foster were coming out of the bar-room into the hall. Nothing said by the Mayor to Dr. Foster about his coming back. Made no offer to Foster about a settlement.

Mayor said the first thing that occurred to his mind, when he stepped into the hall with Foster, was that he wanted to assassinate him. He saw something shining below his vest. Mayor put his finger on it and said—”What is that?” Foster replied—”It’s my pistol,” and immediately took out the pistol, and showed it openly, and wanted the Mayor to go with him alone. Mayor said he would not go alone. Mayor never saw the pistol before. Had a hook on its side to hang on his waist-band.

Andrew L. Lamoreaux sworn. Said that in 1839 or ’40, while President Joseph Smith, Elder Rigdon, Judge Higbee, Orrin P. Rockwell, and Dr. Robert D. Foster were on their way to Washington, called at witness’ house in Dayton, Ohio; that the evening was spent very agreeably, except some dissatisfaction on the part of certain females with regard to the conduct of Dr. Foster. On their return from Washington, witness informed President Smith of Foster’s conduct. President Smith said he had frequently reproved Foster for such conduct, and he had promised to do better, and told witness to reprove Foster, if he saw anything out of the way. That evening Foster refused to join the company, and walked through the town till about 8 o’clock, when he came in and interrupted President Smith, who was expounding some passages of the Scripture, and changed the conversation. Soon after the company were invited to Mr. Brown’s at the next door, whither they all repaired. While at Mr. Brown’s, conversation was going on, and the room much crowded. Dr. Foster and one of the ladies he had paid so much attention to before took their seats in one corner of the room. [Here follows statement of such lewdness in speech and conduct on the part of Foster that it would violate propriety to print it.] Next morning witness went in while Foster and others were at breakfast, and related what he had seen. Foster denied it. President Smith told him not to deny it, for he saw it himself, and was ashamed of it. Foster confessed it was true, and promised to reform.

Peter Haws sworn. Said that he came to Nauvoo before the Laws and brought considerable property. It was a short time after the Church had been driven out of Missouri, and had arrived in this place. The families having been robbed of all in Missouri, were in a starving condition. By the counsel of the Presidency, witness converted his funds to feeding the poor, bringing in meat and flour, &c.; and while thus engaged, drew upon the Laws, who were at that time engaged in merchandise, to the amount of some six hundred dollars, which, on account of expenditure for the poor, he was not able to pay within seventy or eighty dollars, which they pressed him for as soon as they wanted it, although he offered them good property at considerable less than the market value, as witness was obliged to leave the city on Church business for a little season. William Law threatened and intimidated witness’ family during his absense for the pay.

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Dr. Foster made a public dinner on the 4th of July. Witness was obliged to be absent, and deposited meat, flour, &c., with William Law to give to the poor at that dinner, and Law handed it out as his own private property. Witness carried a load of wheat to Law’s mill to be ground. Law would not grind it only to give a certain quantity of flour in return by weight. Law used up the flour, promising from time to time he would refund it. As witness was about to start on a mission to the south with his valise in his hand saw Law before his door talking with Hyrum Smith. Called on Law, and told him he was going away, and his family wanted the flour. Law promised on the honor of a gentleman and a Saint, that his family should have the flour when they wanted.

Councilor Hyrum Smith said he recollected the time and circumstance.

Hawes said when he returned he found his family must have starved, if they had not borrowed money to get food somewhere else; could not get it of Law; and Law was preaching punctuality, punctuality, punctuality, as the whole drift of his discourses to the Saints, and abusing them himself and grinding the poor.

Mayor said, if he had a City Council who felt as he did, the establishment (referring to the Nauvoo Expositor) would be declared a nuisance before night; and then he read an editorial from the Nauvoo Expositor. He then asked who ever said a word against Judge Emmons until he attacked this Council? or even against Joseph H. Jackson or the Laws. until they came out against the city? Here is a paper (Nauvoo Expositor) that is exciting our enemies abroad. Joseph H. Jackson has been proved a murderer before the Council, and he declared the paper a nuisance—a greater nuisance than a dead carcass. They make it a criminality for a man to have a wife on the earth while he has one in heaven, according to the keys of the Holy Priesthood; and he then read a statement of William Law’s from the Expositor, where the truth of God was transformed into a lie concerning this thing. He then read several statements of Austin Cowles in the Expositor concerning a private interview, and said he never had any private conversations with Austin Cowles on these subjects; that he preached on the stand from the Bible, showing the order in ancient days. What the opposition party want is to raise a mob on us and take the spoil from us, as they did in Missouri. He said it was as much as he could do to keep his clerk, Thompson, from publishing the proceeding of the Laws and causing the people to rise up against them. Said he would rather die tomorrow and have the thing smashed, than live and have it go on, for it was exciting the spirit of mobocracy among the people, and bringing death and destruction upon us.

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Peter Hawes recalled a circumstance which he had forgotten to mention concerning a Mr. Smith who came from England and soon after died. The children had no one to protect them. There was one girl sixteen or seventeen years old, and a younger sister. Witness took these girls into his family out of pity. Wilson Law, then Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion, was familiar with the oldest daughter. Witness cautioned the girl. Wilson was soon there again, and went out in the evening with the girl, who, when charged by the witness’ wife, confessed that Wilson Law had seduced her. Witness told her he could not keep her. The girl wept, made much ado, and many promises. Witness told her if she would do right she might stay; but she did not keep her promise. Wilson came again and she went out with him. Witness then required her to leave the house.

Mayor said certain women came to complain to his wife that they had caught Wilson Law with the girl [in compromising relations] at Mr. Hawes’ in the night.

Councilor Hyrum Smith proceeded to show the falsehood of Austin Cowles in the Expositor, in relation to the revelation referred to.

Mayor said he had never preached the revelation in private; but he had public. Had not taught to the anointed in the Church in private, which statement many present confirmed; that on inquiring concerning the passage on the resurrection concerning “they neither marry nor are given in marriage,” &c., he received for answer, “Man in this life must marry in view of eternity, otherwise they must remain as angels, or be single in heaven.” which was the doctrine of the revelation referred to; and the Mayor spoke at considerable length in explanation of this principle, and was willing, for one, to subscribe his name to declare the Expositor and whole establishment a nuisance.

Two o’clock P.M. Willard Richards, the clerk of the Council, bore testimony of the good character and high standing of Mr. Smith and his family, whose daughter was seduced by Wilson Law, as stated by the last witness before the morning council; that Mrs. Smith died near the mouth of the Mississippi, and the father and eldest daughter died soon after their arrival in this place; and that the seduction of such a youthful, fatherless and innocent creature, by such a man in high standing as the Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion, was one of the darkest, damndest, and foulest deeds on record.

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Councilor Hyrum Smith concurred in the remarks made by the clerk concerning the excellent character of Mr. Smith and his family.

Mayor said the Constitution did not authorize the press to publish libels, and proposed that the Council make some provision for putting down the Nauvoo Expositor.

Councilor Hyrum Smith called for a prospectus of the Expositor.

Councilor Phelps read article 8, sec. 1, Constitution of Illinois.

Mayor called for the charter.

The clerk read the prospectus of the Nauvoo Expositor as follows:

Prospectus of the “Nauvoo Expositor.”

The Nauvoo Expositor will be issued on Friday of each week, on an imperial sheet, with a new press and materials of the best quality, and rendered worthy of the patronage of a discerning and enlightened public.

The Expositor will be devoted to a general diffusion of useful knowledge, and its columns open for the admission of all courteous communications of a religious, moral, social, literary, or political character without taking a decided stand in favor of either of the great political parties in the country. A part of its columns will be devoted to a few primary objects, which the publishers deem of vital importance to the public welfare. Their particular locality gives them a knowledge of the many gross abuses exercised under the “pretended” authorities of the Charter of the City of Nauvoo, by the legislative authorities of said city and the insupportable oppression of the Ministerial powers in carrying out the unjust, illegal and unconstitutional ordinances of the same. The publishers therefore deem it a sacred duty they owe to their country and their fellow-citizens to advocate through the columns of the Expositor the Unconditional Repeal of the Nauvoo City Charter, to restrain and correct the abuses of the Unit Power, to ward off the iron rod which is held over the devoted heads of the citizens of Nauvoo and the surrounding country, to advocate unmitigated Disobedience to Political Revelations, and to censure and decry gross moral imperfections wherever found, either in the plebeian, patrician or Self-Constituted Monarch—to advocate the pure principles of morality, the pure principles of truth, designed not to destroy, but to strengthen the mainspring of God’s moral government—to advocate and exercise the freedom of speech in Nauvoo, independent of the ordinances abridging the same—to give free toleration to every man’s religious sentiment, and sustain All in worshiping their God according to the monitions of their consciences, as guaranteed by the Constitution of our country, and to oppose with uncompromising hostility any Union of Church and State, or any preliminary step tending to the same—to sustain Allhowever humble, in their equal and constitutional rights, and oppose the sacrifice of the liberty, the property and the happiness of the Many, to the pride and ambition of the Few; in a word, to give a full, candid and succinct statement of Facts As They Really Exist in the City of Nauvoo fearless of whose particular case the facts may apply—being governed by the laws of editorial courtesy, and the inherent dignity which is inseparable from honorable minds, at the same time exercising their own judgment in cases of flagrant abuses of moral delinquencies,—to use such terms and names as they deem proper, when the object is of such high importance that the end will justify the means. In this great and indispensable work, we confidently look to an enlightened public to aid us in our laudable effort.

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The columns of the Expositor will be open to the discussion of all matters of public interest, the production of all correspondents, subject to the decision of the editor alone, who shall receive or reject at his option. National questions will be in place, but no preference given to either of the political parties. The editorial department will contain the political news of the day, proceedings of Congress, election returns &c. Room will be given for articles on agriculture, the mechanic arts, commercial transactions, &c.

The first number of the Expositor will be issued on Friday, the 7th day of June, 1844. The publishers bind themselves to issue the paper weekly for one year, and forward 52 copies to each subscriber during the year. Orders should be forwarded as soon as possible, that the publishers may know what number of copies to issue.

The publishers take pleasure in announcing to the public that they have engaged the service of Sylvester Emmons, Esq., who will have entire charge and supervision of the editorial department. From an acquaintance with the dignity of character and literary qualifications of this gentleman, they feel assured that the Nauvoo Expositor must and will sustain a high and honorable reputation.

All letters and communications must be addressed to Charles A. Foster, Nauvoo, Ill., postpaid, in order to insure attention.

William Law,

Wilson Law,

Charles Ivins,

Francis M. Higbee,

Chauncey L. Higbee,

Robert D. Foster,

Charles A. Foster,


Nauvoo, Ill., May 10th, 1844.

Mayor read the statements of Francis M. Higbee from the Expositor, and asked—”Is it not treasonable against all chartered rights and privileges, and against the peace and happiness of the city?”

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Councilor Hyrum Smith was in favor of declaring the Expositor a nuisance.

Councilor Taylor said no city on earth would bear such slander, and he would not bear it, and was decidedly in favor of active measures.

Mayor made a statement of what William Law said before the City Council under oath, that he was a friend to the Mayor, &c.. and asked if there were any present who recollected his statement, when scores responded, Yes.

Councilor Taylor continued—Wilson Law was President of this Council during the passage of many ordinances, and referred to the records. “William Law and Emmons were members of the Council, and Emmons has never objected to any ordinance while in the Council, but has been more like a cipher, and is now become editor of a libelous paper, and is trying to destroy our charter and ordinances.” He then read from the Constitution of the United States on the freedom of the press, and said—”We are willing they should publish the truth; but it is unlawful to publish libels. TheExpositor is a nuisance, and stinks in the nose of every honest man.”

Mayor read from Illinois Constitution, article 8, section 12, touching the responsibility of the press for its constitutional liberty.

Councilor Stiles said a nuisance was anything that disturbs the peace of a community, and read Blackstone on private wrongs, vol. 2, page 4; and the whole community has to rest under the stigma of these falsehoods (referring to the Expositor); and if we can prevent the issuing of any more slanderous communications, he would go in for it. It is right for this community to show a proper resentment; and he would go in for suppressing all further publications of the kind.

Councilor Hyrum Smith believed the best way was to smash the press and pi the type.

Councilor Johnson concurred with the Councilors who had spoken.

Alderman Bennett referred to the statement of the Expositor concerning the Municipal Court in the case of Jeremiah Smith as a libel, and considered the paper a public nuisance.

Councilor Warrington considered his a peculiar situation, as he did not belong to any church or any party. Thought it might be considered rather harsh for the Council to declare the paper a nuisance, and proposed giving a few days limitation, and assessing a fine of $3,000 for every libel; and if they would not cease publishing libels, to declare it a nuisance; and said the statutes made provisions for a fine of $500.

Mayor replied that they threatened to shoot him when at Carthage, and the women and others dare not go to Carthage to prosecute; and read a libel from the Expositor concerning the imprisonment of Jeremiah Smith.

[Page 446]

Councilor Hyrum Smith spoke of the Warsaw Signal, and disapprobated its libelous course.

Mayor remarked he was sorry to have one dissenting voice in declaring the Expositor a nuisance.

Councilor Warrington did not mean to be understood to go against the proposition; but would not be in haste in declaring a nuisance.

Councilor Hyrum Smith referred to the mortgages and property of the proprietors of the Expositor, and thought there would be little chance of collecting damages for libels.

Alderman Elias Smith considered there was but one course to pursue that the proprietors were out of the reach of the law; that our course was to put an end to the things at once. Believed by what he had heard that if the City Council did not do it, others would.

Councilor Hunter believed it to be a nuisance. Referred to the opinion of Judge Pope on habeas corpus, and spoke in favor of the charter, &c. Asked Francis M. Higbee, before the jury, if he was not the man he saw at Joseph’s house making professions of friendship. Higbee said he was not. (Hundreds know this statement to be false.) He also asked R. D. Foster if he did not state before hundreds of people that he believed Joseph to be a Prophet. “No,” said Foster. They were under oath when they said it. (Many hundreds of people are witness to this perjury).

Alderman Orson Spencer accorded with the views expressed, that the Nauvoo Expositor is a nuisance. Did not consider it wise to give them time to trumpet a thousand lies. Their property could not pay for it. If we pass only a fine or imprisonment, have we any confidence that they will desist? None at all. We have found these men covenant-breakers with God, with their wives, &c. Have we any hope of their doing better? Their characters have gone before them. Shall they be suffered to go on, and bring a mob upon us, and murder our women and children, and burn our beautiful city! No! I had rather my blood would be spilled at once, and would like to have the press removed as soon as the ordinance would allow: and wish the matter might be put into the hands of the Mayor, and everybody stand by him in the execution of his duties, and hush every murmur.

Councilor Levi Richards said he had felt deeply on this subject, and concurred fully in the view General Smith had expressed of it this day; thought it unnecessary to repeat what the Council perfectly understood; considered private interest as nothing in comparison with the public good. Every time a line was formed in Far West, he was there—for what? To defend it against just such scoundrels and influence as the Nauvoo Expositor and its supporters were directly calculated to bring against us again. Considered the doings of the Council this day of immense moment, not to this city alone, but to the whole world; would go in to put a stop to the thing at once. Let it be thrown out of this city, and the responsibility of countenancing such a press be taken off our shoulders and fall on the State, if corrupt enough to sustain it.

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Councilor Phineas Richards said that he had not forgotten the transaction at Haun’s Mill, and that he recollected that his son George Spencer then lay in the well referred to on the day previous, without a winding-sheet, shroud or coffin. He said he could not sit still when he saw the same spirit raging in this place. He considered the publication of the Expositor as much murderous at heart as David was before the death of Uriah; was prepared to take stand; by the Mayor, and whatever he proposes; would stand by him to the last. The quicker it is stopped the better.

Councilor Phelps had investigated the Constitution, Charter, and laws. The power to declare that office a nuisance is granted to us in the Springfield Charter, and a resolution declaring it a nuisance is all that is required.

John Birney sworn. Said Francis M. Higbee and Wm. Law declared they had commenced their operations, and would carry them out, law or no law.

Stephen Markham sworn. Said that Francis M. Higbee said the interest of this city is done the moment a hand is laid on their press.

Councilor Phelps continued, and referred to Wilson Law in destroying the character of a child—an orphan child, who had the charge of another child.

Warren Smith sworn. Said F. M. Higbee came to him, and proposed to have him go in as a partner in making bogus money. Higbee said he would not work for a living; that witness might go in with him if he would advance fifty dollars; and showed him (witness) a half-dollar which he said was made in his dies.

Councilor Phelps continued and he felt deeper this day than ever he felt before, and wanted to know, by “Yes,” if there was any person who wanted to avenge the blood of that innocent female who had been seduced by the then Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion, Wilson Law; when “Yes!” resounded from every quarter of the house. He then referred to the tea plot at Boston, and asked if anybody’s rights were taken away with that transaction; and are we offering, or have we offered to take away the rights of anyone these two days? (“No!’ resounded from every quarter.) He then referred also to Law’s grinding the poor during the scarcity of grain, while the poor had nothing but themselves to grind; and spoke at great length in support of active measures to put down iniquity, and suppress the spirit of mobocracy.

[Page 448]

Alderman Harris spoke from the chair, and expressed his feelings that the press ought to be demolished.

The following resolution was then read and passed unanimously, with the exception of Councilor Warrington:—

“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 all of said Nauvoo Expositors which may be or exist in said establishment; and the Mayor is instructed to cause said printing establishment and papers to be removed without delay, in such manner as he shall direct.

George W. Harris,

President, pro tem.

W. Richards, Recorder.

The following order was immediately issued by the Mayor:—

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo, ss.

To the Marshal of said City, greeting.

You are here commanded to destroy the printing press from whence issues the Nauvoo Expositor, and pi the type of said printing establishment in the street, and burn all the Expositors and libelous handbills found in said establishment; and if resistance be offered to your execution of this order by the owners or others, demolish the house; and if anyone threatens you or the Mayor or the officers of the city, arrest those who threaten you, and fail not to execute this order without delay, and make due return hereon.

By order of the City Council,

Joseph Smith, Mayor.

Marshal’s return—”The within-named press and type is destroyed and pied according to order, on this 10th day of June, 1844, at about 8 o’clock P.M.

J. P. Greene, C. M.

Headquarters. Nauvoo Legion,

June 10th, 1844.

To Jonathan Dunham, acting Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion.

You are hereby commanded to hold the Nauvoo Legion in readiness forthwith to execute the city ordinances, and especially to remove the printing establishment of the Nauvoo Expositor; and this is what you are required to do at sight, under the penalty of the laws, provided the Marshal shall require it and need your services.

Joseph Smith,

Lieut-General, Nauvoo Legion.

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Tuesday 11.—Spent the forenoon in council with the brethren at my house. Went to the office and conversed with my brother Hyrum, Dr. Richards, George G. Adams, and others.

I issued the following.


By virtue of my office as Mayor of the city of Nauvoo, I do hereby strictly enjoin it upon the municipal officers and citizens of said city to use all honorable and lawful means in their power to assist me in maintaining the public peace and common quiet of said city. As attempts have already been made to excite the jealousy and prejudice of the people of the surrounding country, by libels and slanderous articles upon the citizens and City Council, for the purpose of destroying the charter of said city, and for the purpose of raising suspicion, wrath, and indignation among a certain class of the less honorable portion of mankind, to commit acts of violence upon the innocent and unsuspecting, in a certain newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor, recently established for such purposes in said city, and which has been destroyed as a nuisance, according to the provision of the charter. I further call upon every officer, authority, and citizen to be vigilant in preventing, by wisdom the promulgation of false statements, libels, slanders, or any other malicious or evil-designed concern that may be put in operation to excite and ferment the passions of men to rebel against the rights and privileges of the city, citizens, or laws of the land; to be ready to suppress the gathering of mobs; to repel, by gentle means and noble exertion, every foul scheme of unprincipled men to disgrace and dishonor the city, or state, or any of their legally-constituted authorities; and, finally to keep the peace by being cool, considerate, virtuous, unoffending, manly, and patriotic, as the true sons of liberty ever have been, and honorably maintain the precious boon our illustrious fathers won.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of said corporation at the city of Nauvoo, this 11th day of June, 1844.

Joseph Smith, Mayor.

I had an interview with Elder G. J. Adams out of doors and then returned home to dinner.

At 2 P.M. I went into court. Many people were present. I talked an hour or two on passing events, the mob party, &c., and told the people I was ready to fight, if the mob compelled me to, for I would not be in bondage. I asked the assembly if they would stand by me, and they cried “Yes” from all quarters. I returned home.

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The Recorder issued a summons for Sylvester Emmons to attend the City Council on the second Saturday in July, at 10 A.M. to answer charges then and there to be preferred against him for slandering the City Council.

Dr. Richards came to me at my room as I was talking to my brother Hyrum, Eaton Bonney and others, and read the following letter:

Letter: L. W. Hickok to Joseph Smith—Probability of Indictment of the Prophet et al, at Springfield.

Springfield, Ill., June 6th, 1844.

General Joseph Smith or Dr. Richards:

Gentlemen.—I arrived at this place on yesterday, safe and sound, in company with Major Smith, who is in good health, and wishes to be remembered to you and all his friends.

I have just learned that T. B. Johnson, the individual who figured so large at Nauvoo is about to present the case, or his case, before the grand jury at this place. This is to inform you of the fact, that you may take the necessary precaution, or do what you think advisable in the case. From what I can gather, you are all to be indicted who were present in the case according to the law of the city of Nauvoo.

I remain a friend to humanity, “equal rights,” and justice to all mankind.

L. W. Hickok

P. S.—I have just learned that Elder Wight is in this place, and shall put this in his hands, thinking that he may act with more efficiency than the mail.

I am, &c.,

L. W. H.

Our communications by mail appear to be cut off, as no part of our extensive correspondence has come to hand by the U. S. mail for the last three weeks, and Dr. Hickok seems to be aware of it. Instructed Dr. Richards to answer Dr. Hickok’s letter, and then rode out with O. P. Rockwell.

[Page 451]

I received the following letter:

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

Springfield, Ill., June 6, 1844.

Dear Sir.—I have just received information that T. B. Johnson is making an effort to procure from the grand jury for the United States, now in session at this place, an indictment against the members of your Municipal Court for exercising their legal and constitutional rights, and discharging their sworn duty in acting in the matter of Jeremiah Smith’s petition for habeas corpus. I could hardly have supposed that he would succeed, had I not been informed that there is no doubt that he will accomplish his object. I give you this information that you may be able to act as circumstances may require. Mr. Smith has not had a hearing, and will not till tomorrow morning.

Yours truly,

H. T. Hugins.

General Joseph Smith, Nauvoo.

Elders Jedediah M. Grant and George J. Adams preached at my house in the evening. Cloudy and cool day.

The captain of the steamer Osprey called this forenoon at the printing office to see me. I rode with him to his boat, which was at the upper landing. When I came up, Charles A. Foster called the passengers to see the meanest man in the world. Mr. Eaton stopped him, and told the passengers that it was Foster who was the meanest man in the world. Rollison attempted to draw a pistol, but Eaton silenced him, and kept them all down.

David Harvey Redfield reported that last evening, while on the hill, just before the police arrived, Francis M. Higbee said while speaking of the printing press of the Nauvoo Expositor, if they lay their hands upon it or break it, they may date their downfall from that very hour, and in ten days there will not be a Mormon left in Nauvoo. What they do, they may expect the same in return. Addison Everett also heard him.

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Jason R. Luse reported that Ianthus Rolf said, while the press was burning that before three weeks the Mansion House would be strung to the ground, and he would help to do it; and Tallman Rolf said the city would be strung to the ground within ten day. Moses Leonard also heard him, Joshua Miller being also present.

Bryant, (merchant of Nauvoo) said before he would see such things, he would wade to his knees in blood.

It is reported that runners have gone out in all directions to try to get up a mob; and the mobbers are selling their houses in Nauvoo and disposing of their property.

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