Volume 6 Chapter 23


Discourse of the Prophet—The Godhead—The Mob Uprising—Arrest of President Smith, et al. over the “Expositor” Affair—Trial before Esquire Wells.


[Page 473]

Conference in Michigan.

A conference was held at Franklin, Michigan. Present of the Twelve, Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith; Elder George A. Smith presided. Nine branches were represented, comprising 170 members, 8 Elders, 5 Priests, 5 Teachers and 3 Deacons. There were ordained 1 High Priest, 9 Elders, 2 Priests, and 1 Deacon, under the hands of Elders Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith and Charles C. Rich.

Sunday, June 16, 1844.—I preached at the stand at 10 A.M. Before I closed my remarks it rained severely. The following synopsis was reported by Elder Thomas Bullock, whom I had transferred from the duties of clerk of the Maid of Iowa to my office.

Sermon by the Prophet—The Christian Godhead—Plurality of Gods.

Meeting in the Grove, east of the Temple, June 16, 1844.

Prayer by Bishop Newel K. Whitney.

Choir sang, “Mortals Awake.”

President Joseph Smith read the 3rd chapter of Revelation, and took for his text 1st chapter, 6th verse—”And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father: to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

It is altogether correct in the translation. Now, you know that of late some malicious and corrupt men have sprung up and apostatized from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they declare that the Prophet believes in a plurality of Gods, and, lo and behold! we have discovered a very great secret, they cry—”The Prophet says there are many Gods, and this proves that he has fallen.”

[Page 474]

It has been my intention for a long time to take up this subject and lay it clearly before the people, and show what my faith is in relation to this interesting matter. I have contemplated the saying of Jesus (Luke 17th chapter, 26th verse)—”And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man.” And if it does rain, I’ll preach this doctrine, for the truth shall be preached.

I will preach on the plurality of Gods. I have selected this text for that express purpose. I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. It has been preached by the Elders for fifteen years.

I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit, and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. If this is in accordance with the New Testament, lo and behold! we have three Gods anyhow, and they are plural: and who can contradict it?

Our text says “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father.” The Apostles have discovered that there were Gods above, for Paul says God was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. My object was to preach the scriptures, and preach the doctrine they contain, there being a God above, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am bold to declare I have taught all the strong doctrines publicly, and always teach stronger doctrines in public than in private.

John was one of the men, and apostles declare they were made kings and priests unto God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It reads just so in the Revelation. Hence, the doctrine of a plurality of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine. It is all over the face of the Bible. It stands beyond the power of controversy. A wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein.

Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many. I want to set it forth in a plain and simple manner; but to us there is but one God—that is pertaining to us; and he is in all and through all. But if Joseph Smith says there are Gods many and Lords many, they cry, “Away with him! Crucify him! crucify him!”

Mankind verily say that the scriptures are with them. Search the scriptures, for they testify of things that these apostates would gravely pronounce blasphemy. Paul, if Joseph Smith is a blasphemer, you are. I say there are Gods many and Lords many, but to us only one, and we are to be in subjection to that one, and no man can limit the bounds or the eternal existence of eternal time. Hath he beheld the eternal world, and is he authorized to say that there is only one God? He makes himself a fool if he thinks or says so, and there is an end of his career or progress in knowledge. He cannot obtain all knowledge, for he has sealed up the gate to it.

[Page 475]

Some say I do not interpret the scripture the same as they do. They say it means the heathen’s gods. Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many; and that makes a plurality of Gods, in spite of the whims of all men. Without a revelation, I am not going to give them the knowledge of the God of heaven. You know and I testify that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods. I have it from God, and get over it if you can. I have a witness of the Holy Ghost, and a testimony that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods in the text. I will show from the Hebrew Bible that I am correct, and the first word shows a plurality of Gods; and I want the apostates and learned men to come here and prove to the contrary, if they can. An unlearned boy must give you a little Hebrew. Berosheit baurau Eloheim ait aushamayeen vehau auraits, rendered by King James’ translators, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” I want to analyze the word Berosheit. Rosh, the head; Sheit, a grammatical termination, The Baith was not originally put there when the inspired man wrote it, but it has been since added by an old Jew. Baurau signifies to bring forth; Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God, in the singular number; and by adding the word heim, it renders it Gods. It read first, “In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods,” or, as others have translated it, “The head of the Gods called the Gods together.” I want to show a little learning as well as other fools—

A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us up again.

All this confusion among professed translators is for want of drinking another draught.

The head God organized the heavens and the earth. I defy all the world to refute me. In the beginning the heads of the Gods organized the heavens and the earth. Now the learned priests and the people rage, and the heathen imagine a vain thing. If we pursue the Hebrew text further, it reads, “Berosheit baurau Eloheim ait aashamayeen vehau auraits”—”The head one of the Gods said. Let us make a man in our own image.” I once asked a learned Jew, “If the Hebrew language compels us to render all words ending in heim in the plural, why not render the first Eloheim plural?” He replied, “That is the rule with few exceptions; but in this case it would ruin the Bible.” He acknowledged I was right. I came here to investigate these things precisely as I believe them. Hear and judge for yourselves; and if you go away satisfied, well and good.

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In the very beginning the Bible shows there is a plurality of Gods beyond the power of refutation. It is a great subject I am dwelling on. The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through—Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, it sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods. All I want is to get the simple, naked truth, and the whole truth.

Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God! I say that is a strange God anyhow—three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. “Father, I pray not for the world, but I pray for them which thou hast given me.” “Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are.” All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God—he would be a giant or a monster. I want to read the text to you myself—”I am agreed with the Father and the Father is agreed with me, and we are agreed as one.” The Greek shows that it should be agreed. “Father, I pray for them which Thou hast given me out of the world, and not for those alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be agreed, as Thou, Father, art with me, and I with Thee, that they also may be agreed with us,” and all come to dwell in unity, and in all the glory and everlasting burnings of the Gods; and then we shall see as we are seen, and be as our God and He as His Father. I want to reason a little on this subject. I learned it by translating the papyrus which is now in my house. I learned a testimony concerning Abraham, and he reasoned concerning the God of heaven. “In order to do that,” said he, “suppose we have two facts: that supposes another fact may exist—two men on the earth, one wiser than the other, would logically show that another who is wiser than the wisest may exist. Intelligences exist one above another, so that there is no end to them.”

If Abraham reasoned thus—If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it.

I want you to pay particular attention to what I am saying. Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him. As the Father had done before. He laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father had done before. He did as He was sent, to lay down His life and take it up again; and then was committed unto Him the keys, &c. I know it is good reasoning.

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I have reason to think that the Church is being purged. I saw Satan fall from heaven, and the way they ran was a caution. All these are wonders and marvels in our eyes in these last days. So long as men are under the law of God, they have no fears—they do not scare themselves.

I want to stick to my text, to show that when men open their lips against these truths they do not injure me, but injure themselves. To the law and to the testimony, for these principles are poured out all over the scriptures. When things that are of the greatest importance are passed over by weak-minded men without even a thought, I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom. I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.

They found fault with Jesus Christ because He said He was the Son of God, and made Himself equal with God. They say of me, like they did of the apostles of old, that I must be put down. What did Jesus say? “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods? If He called them Gods unto whom the word of God came, and the scriptures cannot be broken, say ye of Him whom the Father had sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God?” It was through Him that they drank of the spiritual rock. Of course He would take the honor to Himself. Jesus, if they were called Gods unto whom the word of God came, why should it be thought blasphemy that I should say I am the son of God?

Oh, poor, blind apostates! did you never think of this before? These are the quotations that the apostates take from the scriptures. They swear that they believe the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants and then you will get from them filth, slander, and bogus-makers plenty. One of the apostate Church official members prophesied that Joseph would never preach any more, and yet I am now preaching.

Go and read the vision in the Book of Covenants. There is clearly illustrated glory upon glory—one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and a glory of the stars; and as one star differeth from another star in glory, even so do they of the telestial world differ in glory, and every man who reigns in celestial glory is a God to his dominions. By the apostates admitting the testimony of the Doctrine and Covenants, they damn themselves. Paul, what do you say? They impeached Paul and all went and left him. Paul had seven churches, and they drove him off from among them; and yet they cannot do it by me. I rejoice in that. My testimony is good.

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Paul says, “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So is also the resurrection of the dead.” They who obtain a glorious resurrection from the dead, are exalted far above principalities, powers, thrones, dominions and angels, and are expressly declared to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, all having eternal power.

The scriptures are a mixture of very strange doctrines to the Christian world, who are blindly led by the blind. I will refer to another scripture. “Now,” says God, when He visited Moses in the bush, (Moses was a stammering sort of a boy like me) God said, “Thou shalt be a God unto the children of Israel.” God said, “Thou shalt be a God unto Aaron, and he shall be thy spokesman.” I believe those Gods that God reveals as Gods to be sons of God, and all can cry, “Abba, Father!” Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods, even from before the foundation of the world, and are the only Gods I have a reverence for.

John said he was a king. “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God, and His Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever Amen.” Oh, Thou God who art King of kings and Lord of lords, the sectarian world, by their actions, declare, “We cannot believe Thee.”

The old Catholic church traditions are worth more than all you have said. Here is a principle of logic that most men have no more sense than to adopt. I will illustrate it by an old apple tree. Here jumps off a branch and says, I am the true tree, and you are corrupt. If the whole tree is corrupt, are not its branches corrupt? If the Catholic religion is a false religion, how can any true religion come out of it? If the Catholic church is bad, how can any good thing come out of it? The character of the old churches have always been slandered by all apostates since the world began.

I testify again, as the Lord lives, God never will acknowledge any traitors or apostates. Any man who will betray the Catholics will betray you; and if he will betray me, he will betray you. All men are liars who say they are of the true Church without the revelations of Jesus Christ and the Priesthood of Melchisedek, which is after the order of the Son of God.

It is in the order of heavenly things that God should always send a new dispensation into the world when men have apostatized from the truth and lost the priesthood; but when men come out and build upon other men’s foundations, they do it on their own responsibility, without authority from God; and when the floods come and the winds blow, their foundations will be found to be sand, and their whole fabric will crumble to dust.

[Page 479]

Did I build on any other man’s foundation? I have got all the truth which the Christian world possessed, and an independent revelation in the bargain, and God will bear me off triumphant. I will drop this subject. I wish I could speak for three or four hours; but it is not expedient on account of the rain: I would still go on, and show you proof upon proofs; all the Bible is equal in support of this doctrine, one part as another.

[On account of the rain it was impossible for Thomas Bullock to report any more].

Advice of Judge Thomas on Expositor Affair.

Judge Jesse B. Thomas came to Nauvoo, and advised me to go before some justice of the peace of the county, and have an examination of the charges specified in the writ from Justice Morrison of Carthage; and if acquitted or bound over, it would allay all excitement, answer the law and cut off all legal pretext for a mob, and he would be bound to order them to keep the peace.

Inquiry of Delegation from Madison.

Some forty gentlemen from Madison came down on a steamer to inquire into our difficulties. I met them at the Masonic Hall at 2 P.M., and gave them the desired information. Dr. Richards, the city recorder, read the minutes of the council declaring the Nauvoo Expositor a nuisance. They expressed themselves satisfied. I then went to the Temple stand and met some thousands of the brethren. I instructed them to keep cool, and prepare their arms for defense of the city, as it was reported that a mob was collecting in Carthage and other places. I exhorted them to be quiet and make no disturbance, and instructed the brethren to organize into the capacity of a public meeting and send delegates to all the surrounding towns and villages, to explain the cause of the disturbance, and show them that all was peace at Nauvoo, and that there was no cause for any mobs.

[Page 480]

A messenger arrived stating that the clerk of the county court expected to be driven out of Carthage tomorrow, and the only way to prevent the shedding of blood was to get the Governor in person to come down with his staff.

I wrote to Governor Ford stating the facts as follows:

Letter: Joseph Smith to Governor Ford—Inviting the Governor to Nauvoo.

Nauvoo, Illinois, June 16th, 1844.

His Excellency Thomas Ford:

Sir.—I am informed from credible sources, as well as from the proceedings of a public meeting at Carthage, &c., as published in the Warsaw Signal extra, that an energetic attempt is being made by some of the citizens of this and the surrounding counties to drive and exterminate “the Saints” by force of arms; and I send this information to your Excellency by a special messenger, Hugh McFall, Adjutant-General, Nauvoo Legion, who will give all particulars; and I ask at your hands immediate counsel and protection.

Judge Thomas has been here and given his advice in the case, which I shall strictly follow until I hear from your Excellency, and in all cases shall adhere to the Constitution and laws.

The Nauvoo Legion is at your service to quell all insurrection and support the dignity of the common weal.

I wish, urgently wish your Excellency to come down in person with your staff and investigate the whole matter without delay, and cause peace to be restored to the country; and I know not but this will be the only means of stopping an effusion of blood.

The information referred to above is before me by affidavit.

I remain, sir, the friend of peace, and your Excellency’s humble servant,

Joseph Smith.

I enclosed a copy of the following affidavit:

Affidavit: Mob Movements.

State of Illinois, Hancock Co.,

City of Nauvoo. ss.

June 16th, 1844. Personally appeared before me Willard Richards, clerk of the Municipal Court of the City of Nauvoo, Thomas G. Wilson; and after being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith that during the last evening Robert Johnson, of the county aforesaid, told deponent that fifteen hundred Missourians would assemble at Warsaw, in said county, on the morning of the 17th instant; that the arms of the Quincy Greys had been sent up to Warsaw; that they had five cannon at Warsaw; that said Missourians, and others who would join them, would proceed to Carthage, and the Quincy Greys and other companies from Adams county were to meet the Missourians in Carthage at the time before stated; that from Carthage they were going round to the branches of the Church of Latter-day Saints in said county, and inform them that they must deny Joseph’s being a Prophet, and if they did not deny Joseph, they must leave immediately: and on Thursday next the whole mob were to proceed to Nauvoo and demand Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and the City Council of said city, and if Joseph and Hyrum and the City Council were not given up they would blow up the city, and kill and exterminate all the inhabitants of said city.

[Page 481]

Thomas G. Wilson.

[Seal of Municipal Court.]

Subscribed and sworn to before me, Willard Richards, clerk. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal of the Municipal Court of said city, at the time and place above written.

Willard Richards,

Clerk of the Municipal Court, City of Nauvoo.

I have compared the within affidavit with the original, and find it a true copy.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal of court at the city of Nauvoo, this 16th day of June, 1844.

Willard Richards.

Clerk of the Municipal Court, City of Nauvoo.

Brother Butler, from Bear Creek, came in and made affidavit before the Recorder that fifteen hundred Missourians were to cross the Mississippi to Warsaw the next Morning, on their way to Carthage.

I received a letter from Father Morley:

Letter: Isaac Morley to Joseph Smith—Mob Threats.

President Joseph Smith.

Sir.—Believing it to be my duty to inform you of the proceedings of a wicked clan against the Saints in this place, I improve this opportunity. On yesterday, George Baker, in company with Joseph Barber, a Mr. John Banks, Luther Perry and one more, (his name I have not got) came to my house. Mr. Baker came to my door and said he had some business, and wished to speak with me. I went out into my dooryard with him, and he came in company with a Mr. Banks and others. They informed me they were a committee appointed to inform me and our people that they had three propositions to make to us. In the first place, yourself and about seventeen others had broken the law and good order of society; that we, the Mormon people, must take up arms and proceed with them for your arrest, or take our effects and proceed immediately to Nauvoo, otherwise give up our arms, and remain quiet until the fuss is over. We have until Monday morning next to make up our minds. We have made up our minds that we shall not comply with any of these proposals, but stand in our own defense. We have no signature from the Governor, or any official officer, to accept of such wicked proposals.

[Page 482]

We are informed that the company must be at Col. Williams’ tomorrow morning at eight o’clock to proceed to Nauvoo.

I have thought it my duty to inform you of the proceedings here.

This from your humble servant,

Isaac Morley.

June 16th, 1844, We certify the above is true.

Gardner Snow,

Edmund Durfee,

Ira Willsey.

I sent the following answer by Joseph S. Allen:

Letter: Joseph Smith to Isaac Morley—Instructions on Resisting Mob.

Headquarters Nauvoo Legion, Nauvoo.

Lieut.-General’s Office, June 16th, 1844

Col. Isaac Morley:

Sir.—In reply to yours of this date, you will take special notice of the movements of the mob party that is stirring up strife and endeavoring to excite rebellion to the government and destroy the Saints, and cause all the troops of said Legion in your vicinity to be in readiness to act at a moment’s warning; and if the mob shall fall upon the Saints by force of arms, defend them at every hazard unless prudence dictate the retreat of the troops to Nauvoo, in which case the mob will not disturb your women and children; and if the mob move towards Nauvoo, either come before them or in their rear and be ready to co-operate with the main body of the Legion. Instruct the companies to keep cool, and let all things be done decently and in order.

Give information by affidavit before a magistrate and special messengers to the Governor of what has occurred, and every illegal proceeding that shall be had on the subject, without delay. Also notify me of the same, and demand instruction and protection from the Governor.

[Page 483]

Joseph Smith.

Lieut.-Gen. Nauvoo Legion.

I insert the minutes of a public meeting:

Minutes of a Public Meeting at Nauvoo.

A public meeting was held in the city of Nauvoo on Sunday evening, the 16th inst.

Mr. John Taylor was unanimously called to the chair, and William Clayton appointed clerk.

The chairman stated briefly the object of the meeting, whereupon it was unanimously

Resolved, that inasmuch as many false reports are being circulated through this county by designing characters for the purpose of bringing persecution upon the peaceable citizens of this city we will use our endeavors to disabuse the public mind, and present a true statement of facts before them as speedily as possible.

Resolved that for the more speedy accomplishment of this object, this meeting appoint delegates to go to the different precincts throughout the county to lay a true statement of facts before the public.

The following delegates were then appointed;

To Warsaw precinct, Messrs. Joseph A. Kelting, Hugh McFall and John T. Barnett.

Rocky Run precinct, Messrs. Anson Call, E. Horner, Nicholas Boscow and David Evans.

Carthage precinct, Messrs. Lewis Robinson, Jeremiah Hatch, Jun.. and Dr. Robinson.

Lima precinct, Messrs. William Allen, Elam Luddington, and Charles Warner.

La Harpe and Pilot Grove, Messrs. Benjamin Warrington and Hiram Kimball.

Spilman’s Landing and Appanoose, Messrs. Elijah R. Swackhammer, and Truman Gillett, Jun.

St. Mary’s and Chili, Messrs. Philander Colton and Averett.

Fountain Green and Macedonia, Messrs. Moses Claire and Andrew R. Perkins.

Augusta and Plymouth, Messrs. Peter Slater, Darwin Chase and John McIllwrick.

On motion, meeting adjourned sine die.

John Taylor, President,

William Clayton, Secretary.

[Page 484]

And I issued the following:


Mayor’s Office, Nauvoo, June 16th, 1844.

As there are a number of statements in circulation which have for their object the injury of the Latter-day Saints, all of which are false and prompted by black-hearted villains, I therefore deem it my duty to disabuse the public mind in regard to them, and to give a plain statement of facts which have taken place in the city within a few days past, and which have brought upon us the displeasure of the unprincipled and the uninformed, and seems to afford an opportunity to our enemies to unite and arouse themselves to mob. And already they have commenced their hellish operations by driving a few defenseless “Mormons” from their houses and homes in the vicinity of Warsaw and Carthage.

A short time since a press was started in this city which had for its object the destruction of the institutions of the city, both civil and religious. Its proprietors are a set of unprincipled scoundrels, who attempted in every possible way to defame the character of the most virtuous of our community, and change our peaceful and prosperous city into a place as evil and polluted as their own black hearts. To rid the city of a paper so filthy and pestilential as this became the duty of every good citizen who loves good order and morality. A complaint was made before the City Council, and after a full and impartial investigation it was voted (without one dissenting voice) a public nuisance, and to be immediately destroyed. The peace and happiness of the place demanded it, the virtue of our wives and daughters demanded it, and our consciences demanded it at our hands as conservators of the public peace.

That we acted right in this matter we have the assurance of one of the ablest expounders of the laws of England, namely, Blackstone, the Constitution of the state of Illinois, and our own chartered rights.

If, then, our charter gives us the power to decide what shall be s nuisance, and cause it to be removed, where is the offense? What law is violated? If, then, no law has been violated, why this ridiculous excitement and bandying with lawless ruffians to destroy the happiness of a people whose religious motto is “Peace and good will toward all men?”

Our city is infested with a set of blacklegs, counterfeiters and debauchers, and that the proprietors of this press were of that class the minutes of the Municipal Court fully testify, and in ridding our young and flourishing city of such characters we are abused by not only villainous demagogues, but by some who from their station and influence in society, ought rather to raise than repress the standard of human excellence.

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We have no disturbance nor excitement among us, save what is made by the thousand-and-one idle rumors afloat in the country. Everyone is protected in his person and property, and but few cities of a population of twenty thousand people, in the United States, have less of dissipation or vice of any kind than the city of Nauvoo.

Of the correctness of our conduct in this affair, we appeal to every high court in the state, and to its ordeal we are willing to appear at any time that his Excellency, Governor Ford, shall please call us before it. I therefore, in behalf of the Municipal Court of Nauvoo, warn the lawless not to be precipitate in any interference in our affairs; for, as sure as there is a God in Israel, we shall ride triumphant over all oppression.

Joseph Smith, Mayor.

I received a letter from my uncle, John Smith:

Letter: John Smith to Joseph Smith—Accompanying Delegation to the Prophet.

Macedonia, Illinois, Sunday, June 16th, 1844.

President Smith:

Dear Sir.—We send you Brothers Perkins, two faithful brethren, who will give you all the information which is within our knowledge of the proceedings of our enemies; and as we have not heard or received communication from Nauvoo as regards the course we should pursue, we now ask your counsel, and you will please forward per Brother Perkins. We should have sought your counsel sooner, only on account of high water. Please communicate in writing the course we in this part of the country should pursue. The brethren in these parts are in good faith, spirits, and health generally, and may be relied on.


John Smith.

General Joseph Smith.

Monday, 17.—I wrote the following to my uncle, John Smith:

Letter: Joseph Smith to John Smith—Instructions in Case of Mob Violence.

Nauvoo, June 17th, 1844.

Uncle John:

Dear Sir.—The brethren from Ramus arrived here this morning. We were glad to see them, and to hear that you were all alive in the midst of the ragings of an infatuated and blood thirsty mob. I write these few lines to inform you that we feel determined in this place not to be dismayed if hell boils over all at once. We feel to hope for the best, and determined to prepare for the worst; and we want this to be your motto in common with us, “That we will never ground our arms until we give them up by death.” Free trade and sailor’s rights, protection of persons and property, wives and families.

[Page 486]

If a mob annoy you, defend yourselves to the very last; and if they fall upon you with a superior force, and you think you are not able to compete with them, retreat to Nauvoo. But we hope for better things. But remember, if your enemies do fall upon you, be sure and take the best and most efficient measures the emergency of the case may require.

Remember the front and the rear of your enemies, because if they should come to Nauvoo to attack it unlawfully and by mob force, a little annoyance upon the rear with some bold fellows would be a very good thing to weaken the ranks of an enemy.

It is impossible to give you correct information what to do beforehand; but act according to the emergency of the case, but never give up your arms, but die first.

The brethren will give you information of the conversation between us. We have sent to the Governor, and are about to send again, and we want you to send affidavits and demand the attention of the Governor, and request protection at his hand, in common with the rest of us that by our continual wearying we may get him to come and investigate the whole matter.

I now conclude with my best wishes, and must refer you to the brethren for further information.

Joseph Smith.

Mayor of the City of Nauvoo, and Lieut.-General of the Nauvoo Legion.

My brother Hyrum wrote the following letter to President Brigham Young.

Letter: Hyrum Smith to Brigham Young—Calling Home the Twelve.

City of Nauvoo, June 17th, 1844.

Dear Brother Brigham Young:

There has been for several days a great excitement among the inhabitants in the adjoining counties. Mass meetings are held upon mass meetings drawing up resolutions to utterly exterminate the Saints. The excitement has been gotten up by the Laws, Fosters and the Higbees, and they themselves have left the city and are engaged in the mob. They have sent their runners into the State of Missouri to excite them to murder and bloodshed, and the report is that a great many hundreds of them will come over to take an active part in murdering the Saints. The excitement is very great indeed.

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It is thought best by myself and others for you to return without delay, and the rest of the Twelve, and all the Elders that have gone out from this place, and as many more good, faithful men as feel disposed to come up with them. Let wisdom be exercised; and whatever they do, do it without a noise. You know we are not frightened, but think it best to be well prepared and be ready for the onset; and if it is extermination, extermination it is, of course.

Communicate to the others of the Twelve with as much speed as possible, with perfect stillness and calmness. A word to the wise is sufficient; and a little powder, lead and a good rifle can be packed in your luggage very easy without creating any suspicion.

There must be no excuses made, for wisdom says that a strict compliance with our request will be for our safety and welfare.

In haste, I remain yours in the firm bonds of the new and everlasting covenant,

Hyrum Smith.

P. S.—Large bodies of armed men, cannon and munitions of war are coming on from Missouri in steamboats. These facts are communicated to the Governor and President of the United States, and you will readily see that we have to prepare for the onset.

In the bonds of the new and everlasting covenant, I remain yours,

Joseph Smith.

Arrest of the Prophet et. al. for Destroying the Expositor.

This morning [17th of June] I was arrested, together with Samuel Bennett, John Taylor, William W. Phelps, Hyrum Smith, John P. Greene, Dimick B. Huntington, Jonathan Dunham, Stephen Markham, Jonathan H. Holmes, Jesse P. Harmon, John Lytle, Joseph W. Coolidge, H. David Redfield, O. P. Rockwell, and Levi Richards, by Constable Joel S. Miles, on a writ issued by Daniel H. Wells, on complaint of W. G. Ware, for a riot on the 10th inst. in destroying theNauvoo Expositor press. At 2 P.M. we went before Justice Wells at his house; and after a long and close examination we were discharged. The following is a copy of the minutes of this trial.

[Page 488]

Minutes of the Trial of Joseph Smith et al. Before Esquire Wells—”Expositor” Affair.

For The “Neighbor.”

State of Illinois,

County of Hancock. ss.

Justice’s Court, June 17th. 1844, Daniel H. Wells, Justice of the Peace, presiding.

State of Illinois v. Joseph Smith, Samuel Bennett, John Taylor, William W. Phelps, Hyrum Smith, John P. Greene, Stephen Perry, Dimick B. Huntington, Jonathan Dunham, Stephen Markham, Jonathan H. Holmes, Jesse P. Harmon, John Lytle, Joseph W. Coolidge, R. David Redfield, Orrin Porter Rockwell and Levi Richards.

Defendants were brought before the court by Joel S. Miles, constable of the county aforesaid, by virtue of a warrant issued by the court on complaint of W. G. Ware, for a “riot committed in the city of Nauvoo, county aforesaid, on or before the 10th day of June, 1844, by forcibly entering a brick building in said city, occupied as a printing office and taking therefrom by force, and with force of arms, a printing-press, types and paper, together with other property, belonging to William Law, Wilson Law, Robert D. Foster, Charles A. Foster, Francis M. Higbee, Chauncey L. Higbee and Charles Ivins, and breaking in pieces and burning the same in the streets.

George P. Stiles, Esq., appeared as counsel for the defense, and Edward Bonny, Esq., for the prosecution.

W. G. Ware sworn. Said he was present when the City Council passed an order for the destruction of the press. Went up to the Temple and heard the Marshal read the order of the Mayor. Did not know how they got into the building. The press was taken out and destroyed.

Defendants’ counsel objected to witness, stating who voted for the passage of the bill in the council and read Burns’ definition of a riot, and said there could be no accessory.

Councilor Bonny read from the statute, page 173, and pleaded there might be an accessory to a riot. Court decided there might be an accessory to any crime either before or after the fact.

Witness knew some who voted for the order in the City Council. Heard Gen. Dunham give orders for the destruction of the press. Dunham, Redfield and Richards took an active part in the destruction of the press. Did not know all the persons.

Cross-examined: City Council considered the press a nuisance, and ordered it to be abated. Was present at the execution of the Mayor’s orders. No unnecessary noise. All was done peaceably. Saw no disorder. Heard no language by the prisoners calculated to disturb the peace.

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Henry O. Norton sworn. Was at the printing office. Heard Marshal Greene give orders to open the door. Markham carried out the press and type. Recollected Dunham. Could not identify any others. No contention between the marshal and Higbee. Marshal asked Charles A. Foster for the key, which he refused to give. Heard no threats concerning the destruction of the press any time.

O. F. Moesseur sworn. Saw many of the people gather around the printing office. Went over, back, and over again. Could not identify any person. Heard no loud talking or noise.

P. T. Rolfe sworn. Was at work in the printing office last Monday night. Chauncey Higbee came in and said the Council was about to destroy the press, and took some papers from the desk. Marshal Greene came with a company and demanded the key. Foster and Higbee forbade him. Door was opened by Lytle, as witness thought. The press and fixtures were destroyed, and some paper and a desk belonging to Dr. Foster, containing several thousand dollars of property, four thousand dollars auditor’s warrants, and other valuable papers.

Cross-examined: Did not know the amount of warrants and papers. Presumed they were destroyed, Did not know whether they were destroyed. Was from the office long enough to have them taken out. Said Greene, Dunham, Markham, Holmes, Perry, Edwards and Harmon helped to move the press. Never knew anything against Joseph Smith personally.

B. Warrington sworn. Was present at the Council when the bill passed to destroy the press.

Joseph Smith objected to calling in question the doings of the City Council, and referred to the proceedings of Congress to show that all legislative bodies have a right to speak freely on any subject before them, and that Congress is not responsible for a riot which might arise on the execution of their order by the Marshal; that the execution of such order could not be a riot, but a legal transaction; that the doings of the City Council could only be called in question by the powers above them, and that a magistrate had not that power; that the City Council was not arraigned here for trial, but individuals were arraigned for a riot. If the City Council had transcended their powers, they were amenable to the Supreme Court; and that Judge Thomas had decided that an action could not lie if no riot had been committed.

Councilor Bonny said, if the act was committed under an ordinance of the city, they might show it in justification.

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Court decided that the gentlemen arraigned were arraigned in their individual capacity, and could not be recognized by the court in their official capacity.

Witness said that all he heard the prisoners say was said as councilors.

Testimony on the prosecution closed.

Councilor Stiles moved that the prisoners be dismissed for want of a case being made out.

Councilor Bonny read the riot act, and pleaded a case had been made out.

Motion overruled by the Court.

Dr. Wakefield, Willard Richards and Edward Wingott sworn.

Dr. J. R. Wakefield, of New York, said he went on the hill after the order passed the Council. Saw some portion of the Legion collected, walking quietly along as though they were walking to the “Dead March in Saul.” There was no noise or tumult. Higbee asked the Marshal his authority, Marshal stated his authority from the Mayor for abating the nuisance. Higbee set them all at defiance. Some twelve men were called out, who went up stairs and opened the door. Did not know how the door was opened. There was not more than one thump. Marshal Greene asked one of the officers if anything was destroyed except what belonged to the press? and the officer replied, “No.” All was done in perfect order—as peaceably as people move on a Sunday. Was present all the time. All that was done was done in their official capacity as officers of the city.

Councilor Bonny objected to the testimony, as it was not before the Court that there was any city.

Court decided that any knowledge in possession of the Court was testimony in the Court.

E. Wingott, of Boston, concurred in Dr. Wakefield’s statements. Was by the door when it was opened, and knew that nothing more than a knee was put against it. All was done quietly. Was present in the City Council when the order passed. Nothing said in Council except what was said in capacity of councilors and aldermen. Was by the door all the time when the press and type and things used in connection with the press were destroyed. There was no other property taken from the building.

Cross-examined: Did not know the name of the man who opened the door. Knew Orrin P. Rockwell.

Willard Richards read the resolutions of the City Council of the 10th instant, declaring the press a nuisance, &c., and the Mayor’s order to the Marshal to destroy the press, and the Lieut.-General’s order to Major-General Dunham to assist the Marshal with the Legion, if needed, to abate the nuisance, and the Marshal’s return that the press and type were destroyed (as published in the Neighbor, June 19).

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Court queried about the destruction of the desk.

Dr. Wakefield was again called up. Heard Marshal tell the officers and men to hurt no property, except the press, type and fixtures: and after the abatement, Marshal inquired if his order had been obeyed, and the officers said it had.

E. Wingott called again. Heard Mr. Foster ask Higbee for the key of the office, and afterward saw him deliver the key to Mr. Higbee. There was nothing destroyed but what pertained to the press.

Addison Everett of New York, sworn. Saw the press and type taken out and burned. Saw no other property burned. Desk might have been taken away before. Should not have seen it, if it had been. Saw no desk burned. Does not believe any desk was burned.

Joel S. Miles sworn. Foster said his docket was not burned. Witness was sure that Dr. Foster said he had taken other papers out of the desk.

W. G. Ware called again. Saw Charles Foster coming from the office and go into Foster’s house with books under his arm. Looked like account books. Saw nothing but the press and fixtures brought out, except a chair, and the Marshal ordered it to be carried back.

E. Wingott recalled. Stood close by the door. Could see all that was done. Did not believe a desk could be brought out and he not see it.

Dr. Wakefield recalled. Joseph Smith and Hyrum were not on the hill at all that evening.

Joseph W. Coolidge was discharged by the Court and sworn. Charles Foster asked Francis Higbee for the key to the office. Higbee hesitated. Foster said he wanted to get a desk that had some valuable papers in it. Foster got the key and went in. Did not see him remove the desk. Might have removed it, and witness not see it. There was no desk burned.

The councilors submitted the case without plea, and the court discharged the prisoners.

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