Volume 6 Chapter 5


The Avery Kidnapping—Defensive Preparations against Missouri Mobs—Appeals to the General Government for Protection—Nauvoo Legion Offered as United States Troops.


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Friday, December 1, 1843.—At home. In the evening, walking out and administering to the sick.

At noon, Dr. Willard Richards called on me to get a petition to Congress for an appropriation to improve the Rapids.

Progress of the Work.

I continue to receive letters from Elders in the different States, giving news of the progress of the work.

Clear and cold day. Some ice floating in the river.

Saturday 2.—Prayer-meeting from one to six P.M., in the assembly room over the store. Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Orson Spencer received their endowments and further instructions in the Priesthood. About thirty-five persons present.

A conference was held at Alexander in Genesee county, New York. Ten branches, containing 44 Elders and 206 members, were represented. Two High Priests, one Seventy, 21 Elders and one Deacon present.

Hyrum Smith Meets with an Accident

Sunday, 3.—I arrived at the assembly room 1 about noon: found all present, except Hyrum and his wife. He had slipped and turned his knee-joint backward, and sprained the large muscle of his leg, and I had been ministering unto him. Emma had been unwell during the night. After the meeting was organized, William W. Phelps read my “Appeal to the Green Mountain Boys,” which was dedicated by prayer after all had spoken upon it. We also prayed for Nathan Pratt, who was very sick, Hyrum, and others. I afterwards instructed them in the things of the Priesthood.

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Monday, 4.—At six in the evening, I attended the adjourned meeting of citizens in the assembly room, which was crowded with a select congregation. Many could not get admission. There were two Missourians present. I made some observations at the opening of the meeting, requested them to be calm and cool, but let the spirit of ’76 burn in their bosoms, and when occasion requires, say little, but act; and when the mob comes, mow a hole through them.

My “Appeal to the Green Mountain Boys” was read by W. W. Phelps.

Elder Parley P. Pratt read his “Appeal to the State of New York.”

Number of the Prophet’s Vexatious Lawsuits

My clerk, Willard Richards, read the memorial to Congress, when the assembly unanimously voted their approbation of the memorial, when I spoke two-and-a-half hours, relating many circumstances which transpired in Missouri, not mentioned in the memorial. I have already had thirty-eight vexatious lawsuits, and have paid Missouri $150,000 for land. I borrowed $500 of Judge Young in Washington, to pay the expense of the party that accompanied me, and had to borrow of others.

Daniel Avery and his son were kidnapped from the neighborhood of Warsaw by a company of Missourians, assisted by some anti-Mormons of this county, and carried into Missouri. 2

Tuesday, 5.—Six P.M., met the Twelve, also Phelps, Clayton, and Turley, in council, in the office, on important business.

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Advised the Twelve to raise money to send to Elder Hyde, who is east, for him to get paper to print the Doctrine and Covenants, and get new type and metal for sterotyping the same.

Wednesday, 6.—At home and took the following affidavit:—

Chapman’s Affidavit in the Avery Case.

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo. ss.

On the sixth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-three, came Delmore Chapman before me, Joseph Smith, mayor of said city; and after being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that on the nineteenth day of November, 1843, a man named Richardson came to one of his neighbors living in Bear Creek precinct, in the county of Hancock, named Philander Avery, and enticed him to the Mississippi at Warsaw, by false pretenses; and from thence by a company he was forced over the river and taken to Monticello jail; and that on the second day of December, some of the same party and others came to the aforesaid Bear Creek and kidnapped Daniel Avery, the father of the aforesaid Philander Avery, and by force of arms hurried him across the said Mississippi river into the State of Missouri, to aforesaid jail at Monticello, Lewis county, where your said affiant verily believes they are both now incarcerated illegally and inhumanly in prison; and further report says that some of them are to come to Nauvoo next, to kidnap Nelson Turner; and further your affiant saith not.

Delmore Chapman.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this sixth day of December, 1843.

Joseph Smith, Mayor.

Upon which I wrote to his Excellency Thomas Ford:—

Letter—President Joseph Smith to Governor Ford.

Nauvoo, December 6, 1843.

Sir:—The enclosed affidavit is forwarded to your Excellency for instructions to know what shall be done in the premises. I shall act according to the best of my judgment, constitutionally, till I receive your instructions, and in the meantime shall forward, as soon as they can be had, all the facts relative to the case as a suitable person will go immediately to the place and get the necessary affidavits. Send your instructions by the bearer.

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Respectfully, I have the honor to be,

Your obedient servant,

Joseph Smith,

Lieutenant-General of N. L.

P. S. Shall any portion of the Legion be called out;

N. B. An express has just reached me that Governor Reynolds will make another demand for me. I rely on the honor of Illinois, for no writ can legally issue against me. I have suffered from their insatiable thirst for my blood long enough, and want the peace of my family to remain undisturbed.

Wednesday, 6.—Esquire Goodwin and others, not members of the Church, petitioned the Governor not to help Missouri to persecute the Saints.

Thursday, 7.—At eleven A.M. a meeting of the citizens of Nauvoo was held. The minutes of which I extract from the Neighbor as follows:—

Public Meeting at Nauvoo.

At a meeting of the citizens of Nauvoo, held near the Temple, on the 7th day of December, 1843, Alpheus Cutler was called to the chair, and Willard Richards appointed secretary; whereupon, after the object of the meeting was stated, a committee of three—namely, W. W. Phelps, Reynolds Cahoon, and Hosea Stout, were appointed to draft a preamble and resolutions expressive of the sentiments of the people of the city of Nauvoo relative to the repeated unlawful demands by the State of Missouri for the body of General Joseph Smith, as well as the common, cruel practice of kidnapping citizens of Illinois, and forcing them across the Mississippi river, and then incarcerating them in the dungeons or prisons of Missouri. And after a few minutes’ absence they returned with the following:—


Whereas, the State of Missouri, with the Governor at the head, continues to make demands upon the executive of Illinois for the body of General Joseph Smith, as we verily believe, to keep up a system of persecution against the Church of Latter-day Saints, for the purpose of justifying the said State of Missouri in her diabolical, unheard of, cruel and unconstitutional warfare against said Church of Latter-day Saints, and which she has practiced during the last twelve years, whereby many have been murdered, mobbed and ravished, and the whole community expelled from the State:

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And also to heave dust in the eyes of the nation and the world, while she, as a State, with the Government to back her, continues to slip over the river to steal the property of the Latter-day Saints, and kidnap the members of said Church to glut her vengeance, malice, revenge, and avarice, and to make slaves of the said captives or murder them: Therefore,

Resolved unanimously: As we do know that Joseph Smith is not guilty of any charge made against him by the said State of Missouri, but is a good, industrious, well-meaning, and worthy citizen of Illinois, and an officer that does faithfully and impartially administer the laws of the State, that we as citizens of Illinois, crave the protection of the Constitution and laws of the country as an aegis to shield him, the said General Joseph Smith, from such cruel persecutions, beseeching the Governor of Illinois not to issue any more writs against the said General Joseph Smith, or other Latter-day Saints (unless they are guilty), but to let the Latter-day Saints “breathe awhile like other men,” and enjoy the liberty guaranteed to every honest citizen by the Magna Charta of our common country.

Resolved, That as citizens of the State of Illinois, we solicit the attention of the Governor and officers generally of the State to take some lawful means and measures to regain the citizens that have been kidnapped by the Missourians, and to prevent the said Missourians and government from committing further violence upon the citizens of Illinois.

Resolved, as the sense of this meeting, That, according to the true meaning of the law, those citizens of any section of country who do not rise up as virtuous freemen (when any portion of inhabitants congregate or combine to injure, slander, or deprive another portion of their rights,) and magnify the law, to clear themselves from such unhallowed attempts to subvert order and law, that they by their silence make themselves accessories of the crime of such unlawful assemblage or outrageous individuals.

Resolved, unanimously, That we solicit the Governor by all honorable means to grant us peace, for we will have it.

Alpheus Cutler, Chairman.

Willard Richards, Secretary.

In the afternoon, Lucien Woodworth started with the papers to the Governor, and the petition from Goodwin and others, and Delmore Chapman’s affidavit.

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Provision for German Meetings.

The German brethren met at the assembly room at six P.M., and choose Bishop Daniel Garn as their Presiding Elder, and organized to have preaching in their native language.

Directed copies of my Appeal to the various authorities of Vermont and the United States.

Precautionary Steps against Missouri Invasion

Friday, 8.—At eleven A.M. I went to my office and gave instructions to my clerk for the drawing of a draft of a dam on the Mississippi river, an directed that the city council be called at four this afternoon to make preparations for any invasion from Missouri.

Willard Richards and Philip B. Lewis made an affidavit, which I insert:—

Richards’ and Lewis’ Affidavit.

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo. ss.

On the 8th day of December, 1843, came Willard Richards and Philip B. Lewis before me, Joseph Smith, Mayor of said city, and after being duly sworn, depose and say that they have been informed that two men have been kidnapped recently by the Missourians, in connection with some of the lawless inhabitants of the county of Hancock, and that rumors are now afloat that it is the intention of said lawless persons, in connection with the aforesaid Missourians, to kidnap some of the citizens of this city; and further your affiants would state that they are of opinion, to prevent difficulties of such a vexatious nature, that something should be done to secure the peace of this city from being disturbed. And further your affiants say not.

Willard Richards,

Philip B. Lewis.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 8th day of December, 1843.

W. W. Phelps, Clerk.

Whereupon I issued the following notification;—

An Order to the City Marshal.

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo. ss.

To the Marshal of said City, Greeting:

Whereas complaint has been made to me upon oath, that some persons have been kidnapped by the Missourians, in connection with some of the lawless inhabitants of Hancock county, and that threats have been made that some of the citizens of Nauvoo will be kidnapped or arrested, and forcibly carried away from said city without being allowed the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus, according to the ordinance in such case made and provided, you will therefore take the necessary measures to have the rights of the citizens of this city held sacred, and the ordinances of said city duly carried into full force and effect. To which end, should you judge that the peace and safety of the city require it, you are further notified to call for a suitable portion of the Nauvoo Legion to be in complete readiness to compel obedience to the ordinances of the said city.

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Given under my hand and seal this 8th day of December, 1843.

Joseph Smith, Mayor,

W. W. Phelps, Clerk, M. C.

In consequence thereof, I received from the City Marshal;—

The City Marshal’s Reply.

City of Nauvoo, December 8, 1843.

Sir:—Your order to have the ordinances of this city fully carried into effect will be duly attended to; but in order to so do, it will be necessary for you as Mayor of the city, to issue orders to Major General Wilson Law for a suitable portion of the Nauvoo Legion to be in readiness to compel obedience to said ordinances, if necessary.

Respectfully, &c.,

Henry G. Sherwood, City Marshal.

To Joseph Smith, Mayor.

And I issued:—

Mayor’s Order to the Commander of the Nauvoo Legion.

“Headquarters Nauvoo Legion,

City of Nauvoo, Dec. 8, 1843.

The Marshal of this city having made a demand of me for a suitable portion of the Nauvoo Legion to protect the rights of the citizens and carry the ordinances of said city into full effect, you are hereby directed and required to hold in readiness such portions of the said Nauvoo Legion, which you have the honor to command, as may be necessary to compel obedience to the ordinances of said city and secure the peace of the citizens, and call them out, if occasion require, without further notice.

With due regard, I have the honor to be

Your obedient servant,

Joseph Smith,

Lieutenant-General. N. L.

Major-General Wilson Law,

Commanding Nauvoo Legion.

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Four P.M., attended City Council, which passed “An extra ordinance for the extra case of Joseph Smith and others.”

Special Ordinance in the Prophet’s Case, vs. Missouri.

Whereas, Joseph Smith has been three times arrested and three times acquitted upon writs founded upon supposed crimes or charges preferred by the State of Missouri, which acquittals were made from investigations upon writs of habeas corpus—namely one in the United States Court for the district of Illinois, one in the Circuit Court of the State of Illinois, and one in the Municipal Court of Nauvoo:

And whereas, a nolle prosequi has once been entered in the courts of Missouri upon all the cases of Missouri against Joseph Smith and others:

And whereas, there appears to be a determined resolution by the State of Missouri to continue these unjust, illegal, and murderous demands for the body of General Joseph Smith:

And whereas, it has become intolerable to be thus continually harassed and robbed of our money to defray the expenses of these prosecutions:

And whereas, according to the Constitution of Illinois, “all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, and of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property and reputation, and pursuing their own happiness:”

And whereas, it is our bounden duty, by all common means, if possible, to put a stop to such vexatious lawsuits and save expense: Therefore—

Section 1. Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo, according to the intent and meaning of the Charter for the “benefit and convenience” of Nauvoo, that hereafter, if any person or persons shall come with process, demand, or requisition, founded upon the aforesaid Missouri difficulties, to arrest said Joseph Smith, he or they so offending shall be subject to be arrested by any officer of the city, with or without process, and tried by the Municipal Court, upon testimony, and, if found guilty, sentenced to imprisonment in the city prison for life; which convict or convicts can only be pardoned by the Governor, with the consent of the Mayor of said city.

Section 2. And be it further ordained that the preceding section shall apply to the case of every and all persons that may be arrested, demanded, or required upon any charge founded in the aforesaid Missouri difficulties.

Section 3. And be it further ordained that the jury that makes the presentment, in any case above specified, shall not, nor either of them, act as jurors on the final trial; but the trial shall be conducted according to the fifth and sixth articles of the amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

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Passed December 8, 1843.

Joseph Smith, Mayor.

Willard Richards, Recorder. 3

The City Council also passed “An ordinance to erect a dam in the Mississippi river, and for other purposes.”

Ordinance Providing for the Erection of a Dam in the Mississippi.

Section 1. Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo, that Joseph Smith and his successors for the term of perpetual succession are hereby authorized and empowered to erect a dam, of suitable height to propel mills and machinery, from any point within the limits of said city and below the Nauvoo House, and in a proper direction to reach the island this side of Montrose; but not to interfere with the main channel of the Mississippi river.

Section 2. And be it further ordained that the said Joseph Smith and his successors are further authorized to erect north of the aforesaid island, a dam, pier, or breakwater to intersect the sandbar above.

Section 3. Be it further ordained that said Joseph Smith and his successors are also authorized and have full liberty to use the said dam and water for the purpose of propelling mills and machinery, and shall be governed in their rates of toll and rules of manufactory by ordinance of said city.

Section 4. And be it further ordained that the said Joseph Smith and his successors are further authorized and empowered to use the space within the limits of the said dam as a harbor or basin for steamboats and other water craft; and for which purpose they may construct docks, wharfs, and landings, and receive such fees for wharfage as may be regulated by ordinance of said city.

Section 5. And be it further ordained that said Joseph Smith and his successors are further authorized to build an embankment on the east side of the aforesaid island, to connect the said dam with the pier on the north, and to use the top of said dam for a public road or highway, receiving for compensation from those who cross upon it such rates as may be allowed by ordinance of said city.

Passed December 8, 1843.

Joseph Smith, Mayor.

Willard Richards, Recorder.

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Petition for Nauvoo to Be Placed under the General Government

I suggested to the Council the idea of petitioning Congress to receive the City of Nauvoo under the protection of the United States Government, to acknowledge the Nauvoo Legion as U. S. troops, and to assist in fortifications and other purposes, and that a messenger be sent to Congress for this purpose at the expense of the city.

Messrs. John Taylor, Orson Spencer, and Orson Pratt were appointed a committee to draft a memorial according to my suggestions.

Saturday, 9.—At home.

Prayer-meeting in the assembly room.

I copy from the Neighbor.

Public Meeting at Nauvoo Making an Appeal to the General Government on Sundry Local Affairs.

At a very large meeting of the citizens of Nauvoo, held at the corner of Main and Water streets, Mr. Heber C. Kimball was elected chairman, and John M. Bernhisel appointed secretary. Mr. George A. Smith having made a few observations, Mr. John Taylor read the preamble and resolutions of a meeting held at the temple, on the 7th instant; also an ordinance entitled “An extra ordinance for the extra case of Joseph Smith and others,” recently passed by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo; likewise the fifth and sixth articles of the amendments of the Constitution of the United States, and the opinion of the Attorney-General of the State of Illinois on the subject of the organization of the Nauvoo Legion, he being of the opinion that said Legion was disconnected from the military communities of the whole State, and in no way subject to the regular military officers, possessing an exemption even from subjection to the general military laws, with a law-making power vested in their own Legion.

After some pertinent remarks by Mr. Taylor, General Joseph Smith briefly addressed the meeting. He dissented entirely from the opinion of the Attorney-General, and observed that it was stated in the Charter that the Legion was a part of the Militia of Illinois, and that his commission declared that he (General Smith) was the Lieutenant-General of the Nauvoo Legion and of the Militia of the State of Illinois; and as such, it was not only his duty to enforce the city ordinance, but the laws of the State, when called on by the Governor. He also stated that he had been informed that the Chief Magistrate of Missouri had it in contemplation to make another requisition on the Governor of Illinois for him (Joseph Smith).

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The meeting then adjourned sine die.

H. C. Kimball, Chairman.

J. M. Bernhisel, Secretary.

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Received the following;—

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Letter of Wilson Law to Joseph Smith Anent the Legion.

Nauvoo Legion, Nauvoo City,

December 9, 1843.

Lieutenant-General Joseph Smith.

In consequence of the orders I received from you “to hold in readiness a sufficient portion of the legion, &c.,—to make said forces efficiant,” it will be necessary to supply them with munitions of war, which of course must be done at the expense of the city. You will therefore please to give orders to the commandants of cohorts on their application to you on the city treasury for whatever amount you may think proper on the present occasion.

Most respectfully your obedient servant,

Wilson Law,

Major-General, N. L.

Sunday, 10.—Rainy day. I stayed at home.

Avery Case—a Reminiscence of Missouri Days

A prayer-meeting held this evening in the assembly room. I was not present. Brigham Young presided. Several sick persons were prayed for.

By letter from J. White, deputy sheriff of Clark county, Missouri, I learn that Mr. Daniel Avery is in Marion county prison, without trial. The sheriff requests several men to go there as witnesses. It is evidently a trap to get some more of our people into their power. When I was in prison in Missouri, my witnesses were arrested before they got into court to testify, except one, who was kicked out of the court by an officer, Lieutenant Cook, who damned him, and ordered some of his company to shoot him. After which, the State’s attorney, Birch, turned to me tauntingly, saying, “Why the hell don’t you bring on your witnesses?” and Judge King laughed at my discomfiture. The Saints have had enough of Missouri mob justice.

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Monday, 11. The following affidavit will show that some of the citizens of Illinois are so far fallen and so much governed by mobocratic influence as to assist the Missouri wretches in their hellish designs:—

Affidavit of Sission Chase—The Avery Case.

State of Illinois,

Hancock County. ss.

On the 11th day of December, 1843, came Sission A. Chase before me Aaron Johnson, a Justice of the Peace of said county; and, after being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that the crime of kidnapping has been committed in Hancock County; and on the 2nd day of this present December, 1843, at the house of Schrench Freeman, about four miles and a half south of Warsaw, in said county, your said affiant heard a man by the name of John Elliot say that he was going a shooting turkeys. When asked what he was going to shoot them with, he showed a brace of pistols and a large hickory cane. Your affiant observed that he thought he could not kill turkeys with such weapons; and the said Elliot said that there was a certain cock he meant to take before night, and they would do for that. He, the said Elliot, went off, and your affiant did not see him till Sunday evening the 3rd, when your affiant asked the said Elliot if he had caught his turkey; and he replied, yes, the one he was after—a Mormon Elder. Your affiant then asked him who he was; and he said, Daniel Avery. Your affiant then asked the said Elliot what had been done with said Avery; and he said we put him on to a horse, tied his legs, and guarded him to the river, from whence, about ten o’clock at night, we took him into Clark county, Missouri, for stealing a horse four years ago, where they would try him; and if found guilty, they would then take him into another county, where there was a jail, as there was none in Clark county. On the 4th day of December, I asked him if they had writs or authority to take Mr. Avery. He replied, we all had writs. On the 5th, said Elliot said he expected to get into difficulty on account of this scrape; but if any Mormon makes any business with me, I will shoot him. And further your affiant says not.

Sission A. Chase.

Subscribed and sworn to this 11th day of December, 1843, before me

Aaron Johnson, J. P.

Which I sent to the Governor, with this letter:—

Letter—Joseph Smith to Governor Ford.

Nauvoo, December 11, 1843.

Sir:—I herewith forward your Excellency another affidavit on the subject of the late kidnapping, and shall continue [to do] the same as they come to hand, expecting your cordial co-operation in the premises that the laws may be magnified and made honorable, and our lives held precious, our friends saved from jeopardy, and the captives freed.

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Respectfully, I have the honor to be

Your obedient servant,

Joseph Smith.

Nauvoo’s Police Force Enlarged.

Meetings were held and resolutions passed in all the wards of the city, requesting the city council to raise a company of forty men to act as police.

Last night, two ruffians, whose names are unknown, went to the house of Brother Richard Badham—a farmer living on the prairie, robbed the house of $4.50, threatened his life, stabbed him in the abdomen, when part of his caul gushed out. Dr. John M. Bernhisel dressed his wounds today, and he thinks there is a prospect of his recovering.

Tuesday, 12.—In office at nine A.M., and wrote a letter to my uncle:—

Letter—Joseph Smith to John Smith—The Latter Appointed a Patriarch.

President John Smith:—The petition of a special conference at Macedonia of last November for your appointment as Patriarch in the Church has been received, duly considered, and is granted. You have my best wishes in your behalf, as well as my prayers, that you may fill so honorable and exalted a station with the dignity, sobriety, and grace which has hitherto characterized your conduct and communion with men, as a man of God.

Respectfully yours,

Joseph Smith.

At ten, A.M., attended City Council, which passed an ordinance exempting all church property from city tax.

In accordance with the petitions from the several wards, the council passed the following:—”An ordinance for selecting forty policemen and for other purposes.

Ordinance Enlarging Police Force.

“Section 1. Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo that the Mayor of said city be, and is hereby authorized to select and have in readiness for every emergency forty policemen, to be at his disposal in maintaining the peace and dignity of the citizens, and enforcing the ordinances of the said city, for ferreting out thieves and bringing them to justice, and to act as daily and nightly watchmen, and be under the pay of said city.”

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Passed December 12, 1843.

Joseph Smith, Mayor.

W. Richards, Recorder.

The Council also passed “An ordinance for the health and convenience of travelers and other persons.”

Ordinance on the Personal Sale of Liquors.

Section 1. Be it ordained by the City Council of Nauvoo, that the Mayor of the city be and is hereby authorized to sell or give spirits of any quantity as he in his wisdom shall judge to be for the health and comfort, or convenience of such travelers or other persons as shall visit his house from time to time.

Passed December 12, 1843.

Joseph Smith, Mayor.

Willard Richards, Recorder.

Wednesday, 13.—At home.

I insert an editorial from the Neighbor:

Public Meeting at Nauvoo—The Aggressions of Missouri.

It will be seen in another column that a public meeting was held in this place for the purpose of providing some remedy for the repeated aggressions of the State of Missouri; since which time an ordinance has been passed by the City Council to carry into effect that object, and to prevent the citizens of this place from being any longer imposed upon by the continued illegal proceedings of the state and citizens of Missouri.

We think that it is high time that something should be done to screen ourselves from the continued aggressions of the meddling, troublesome, bloodthirsty herd; and we know of no means that will be more efficient and lawful than the one adopted.

We have done good for evil long enough, in all conscience. We think that we have fulfilled the Scriptures every whit. They have smitten us on the one cheek, and we have turned the other, and they have smitten that also.

We have also fulfilled the law, and more than fulfilled it. And for sake of peace, when we knew that we had violated no law, nor in anywise subjected ourselves to persecutions, we have endured the wrong patiently, without offering violence or in anywise injuring the heartless wretches who could be trusted with such a dishonorable document. Those vagabonds have been suffered to prowl at large, and boast of their inglorious deeds in our midst; and no man has injured them, or said, Why do you so?

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The time, however, is now gone by for this mode of proceeding, and those vagabonds must keep within their own borders and let peaceable citizens alone, or receive the due merit of their crimes. We think that this ordinance passed by the City Council is wise, judicious, and well-timed, and is well calculated to protect peaceable citizens in their rights, and to prevent those lawless vagabonds from interfering with the rights of peaceable citizens.

To those unacquainted with our relationship to Missouri, and the accumulated wrongs and repeated aggressions that we have received from the hands of that State, our language may appear harsh and ill timed; but those who are in possession of those facts know better. Their merciless, unrelenting, inhuman prosecutions and persecutions, from the time of our first settlement in that state until the present, have been wholly and entirely unprovoked and without the shadow of law.

Joseph Smith has been suffered to be taken time and again by them; we say suffered, because he could not be legally and constitutionally taken, Joseph Smith never committed the crimes of which he is charged. He is an innocent man.

But allowing their false, diabolical accusations to be true, what then? Does it follow that he is continually to be followed for the same offense? Verily no. The Constitution of the United States expressly says—”Nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” And yet we find that the State of Missouri has put Joseph Smith in jeopardy no less than four or five times. He was tried once by a military tribunal in Missouri, and sentenced to be shot. He was afterwards tried by a pretended civil (mobocratic) court; and since then he has been several times apprehended, tried, and acquitted for the same offense, in this State, by Missouri requisitions.

Is he still illegally and unconstitutionally to be held in abeyance by these miscreants? or shall we as freeborn American citizens, assert our rights, put the law in force upon those lawless, prowling vagabonds and say that he shall be free?

Shall we suffer our pockets to be picked through the influence of these scoundrels eternally, by defending ourselves against vexatious lawsuits? or shall we take a more summary way, and by a legal course punish the aggressors, proclaim our freedom, and shield ourselves under the broad folds of the Constitution? The latter is the course for us to pursue.

The ordinance passed by the City Council will secure this object; and we are glad to find that the opinion of J. Lamborn, attorney general, and J. N. McDougall, correspond so much with our own—”That the Nauvoo Legion is an independent military organization, and is by law expressly required to sustain the municipal laws of Nauvoo.

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What are we to say about these kidnappers who infest our borders and carry away our citizens—those infernals in human shape?

The whole European world has been engaged in a warfare against those who traffic in human blood. Negotiations have been made, treaties entered into, and fleets have been sent out, through the combined efforts of the nations, to put a stop to this inhuman traffic. But what would those nations think, if they were told the fact that in America—Republican America, the boasted cradle of liberty and land of freedom,—that those dealers in human flesh and blood, negro dealers and drivers, are allowed with impunity to steal white men, and those sons of liberty can obtain no redress.

Great God! has it come to this, that freeborn American citizens must be kidnapped by negro drivers? What are our authorities doing! Why are not these wretches brought to justice? We have heard that one or two of the citizens of Illinois have been engaged in assisting these wretches. We shall try to find out who they are and their whereabouts and make them known; and then, if they are not brought to condign punishment, we shall say that justice has fled from Illinois.”

Thursday, 14.—At home.

Philander Avery arrived in Nauvoo, having made his escape from his kidnappers in Missouri.

I received the following milk-and-water letter from Governor Ford:—

Letter—Governor Ford to President Smith.

Springfield, December 12, 1843.

General Joseph Smith.

Sir:—I have received your favor of the 6th instant, together with the proceedings of a public meeting of the citizens of Nauvoo, on the subject of the late kidnapping, by the people of Missouri and others, of two citizens of this State.

You request to know if any portion of the Legion shall be called out. My answer is, No. The Militia cannot be called out, except in the cases specified by me in my letter to Governor Reynolds, dated in the month of August last, in which I took the ground that the Militia can only be called out to repel an invasion, suppress an insurrection, or on some extreme emergency; and not to suppress, prevent, or punish individual crimes. I still am of the opinion that the ground assumed by me on that occasion is the true one. The prevention and punishment of individual offenses has been confided by the constitution and laws of this State to the judicial power, and not to the executive.

[Page 114]

If a citizen of the State has been kidnapped, or if property has been stolen from this State, and carried to the State of Missouri, those who have done either are guilty of an indictable offense. But the constitution and the laws have provided no means whereby either the person or property taken away can be returned, except by an appeal to the laws of Missouri. The Governor has no legal right to demand the return of either. The only power I would have would be simply this: If any of the guilty persons should be charged with larceny or kidnapping, by indictment or affidavit, duly certified, and with having fled to Missouri, then I would have the power, and it would become my duty to make a demand upon the Governor of Missouri for the surrender of the fugitives, to be tried by the courts of this State. I am fully satisfied that in ordinary cases this is all the power I would possess. It would be simply a power to be exercised in aid of the judicial power. Any other powers to be exercised by the Governor would be to make him a dictator and a despot. It is true that an extraordinary case might arise, in which the inhabitants of one State might arise in warlike and hostile array against those of another; in which case a state of war would exist, and then only could I interfere.

I would advise your citizens to be strictly peaceable towards the people of Missouri. You ought to be aware that in every country individuals are liable to be visited with wrong, which the law is slow to redress, and some of which are never redressed in this world. This fact, however, has never been held to be a justification for violence, not warranted by law.

If any of the people of Nauvoo should invade Missouri for the purpose of rescuing persons there in jail, the consequence would be that indictments would be presented against them, and demands made upon me for their arrest and surrender; which demands I would be compelled to obey, and thus they would be harassed by interminable demands and prosecutions; and very likely it would lead to a species of border warfare, which would be exceedingly annoying to a peaceable city, and, if you could be placed in the wrong, might lead to exceedingly unpleasant consequences with reference both to law and public opinion.

You inform me that you are informed that Governor Reynolds is about to make a new demand for you; and you implore my protection from what you term this renewed persecution. In the month of August last, I was furnished by your friends with a very large amount of affidavits and evidence, said to be intended to show cause why no further writs should be issued against you. As they are very voluminous, I have not yet read them, and probably never will, unless a new demand should be made; in which case they will receive a careful perusal; and you may rest assured that no steps will be taken by me but such as the constitution and laws may require.

[Page 115]

I am, very respectfully, &c.,

Thomas Ford.

Comment of the Prophet on Governor Ford’s attitude.

It appears from this letter, that Governor Ford has never taken pains to examine the evidences placed in his hands, “and probably never will,” in relation to the Missouri writs; and evidently as little pains to examine the Constitution of the United States or even reflect upon the ordinary principles of human rights, to suppose that a State, after having, by a union of executive, judicial and military powers, exterminated 15,000 of its innocent inhabitants, who were not even charged with any crime, robbing them of all they possessed on earth, murdering scores of men, women and children, and expelling all the others from the State, among strangers, in mid-winter, destitute of everything upon the face of the earth that could possibly have a tendency to make life desirable, should be constitutionally entitled to demand back from banishment persons who have thus suffered its absolute decrees of exile, to satiate a yet unsatiated thirst for human blood and torture. O reason, where art thou fled! O humanity, where hast thou hidden thyself? Patriots of ’76, has your blood been spilt in vain, that in 1843 the Executive of a great Republican State can coolly say, “I have not yet read them, and probably never will?” Is liberty only a name? Is protection of person and property fled from free America? Let those answer who can.

A Sudden Illness of the Prophet.

Friday, 15.—I awoke this morning in good health, but was soon suddenly seized with a great dryness of the mouth and throat, sickness of the stomach, and vomited freely. My wife waited on me, assisted by my scribe, Dr. Willard Richards, and his brother Levi, who administered to me herbs and mild drinks. I was never prostrated so low, in so short a time, before; but by evening was considerably revived.

[Page 116]

Very warm for the season.

Saturday, 16.—This morning I felt considerably better; arose at 10, and sat all day in the City Council, which was held in my house for my accommodation.

Comment on Appeal to the General Government for Protection.

The Mayor, Aldermen, and Councilors signed officially the Memorial to Congress for redress of losses and grievances in Missouri. While discussing the petition to Congress, I prophesied, by virtue of the holy Priesthood vested in me, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that, if Congress will not hear our petition and grant us protection, they shall be broken up as a government. 4 * * *

I informed the Council that it was my wish they should ask the privilege of calling on Government for the United States troops to protect us in our privileges, which is not unconstitutional, but lies in the breast of Congress.

Heber C. Kimball was duly elected city auctioneer, in place of Charles Warner, removed.

The Council passed “An ordinance regulating merchants and grocers;” also “An ordinance concerning the landing of steamers;” and Jonathan Dunham was appointed wharf-master for one year.

[Page 117]

Heber C. Kimball and George A. Smith were appointed a committee to wait on Mr. Davidson Hibbard, and solicit from him a block of land, whereon to erect a city prison.

After Council, conversed with some of the Twelve, brother Turley and others, till 8 P.M. Prayer meeting in the evening.

Warm, foggy, and muddy day.

Sunday, 17.—At home till 4 P.M.; attended prayer meeting at the assembly room. Samuel Harrison Smith admitted. Returned home at 7.

River clear of ice as far up as the Stone Tavern.

Mr. King Follet, one of the constables of Hancock County, started with ten men this afternoon to arrest John Elliott for kidnapping Daniel Avery, upon a warrant granted by Aaron Johnson, Esq. J. P.

Monday, 18.—After dinner, Constable Follet returned with John Elliott, a schoolmaster, when an examination was had before Esq. Johnson, in the assembly room. Elliott was found guilty of kidnapping Avery, and bound over in the sum of $3,000 to the Circuit court of Carthage for trial. I endeavored to have the court reduce those bonds, as Mr. Elliott was comparatively a stranger in Nauvoo; but did not succeed.

During the investigation, testimony appeared to show that Elliott had threatened my life; and for this I made affidavit and brought him to trial before Robert D. Foster, J. P., immediately after he had been bound over by Esq Johnson. I extract from the proceedings, in part, from the Neighbor:

The Trial of John Elliott.

The prisoner was brought forward, and the court said it was his privilege to plead for a change of venue, by paying the costs; but as the costs were not forthcoming, the court proceeded.

Mr. Styles then read the “Act to regulate the apprehension of offenders and for other purposes,” p 219, r. s. The act sets forth that the use of threatening language is sufficient to criminate individuals. This we are prepared to prove.

[Page 118]

Sisson Chase sworn.

The testimony was similar to that before deliverd, [in Chase affidavit see p. 109] with the following additional items:—

I did ask him if he had authority. In the morning he said that he would not care about shooting some of the Mormons. In conversation with him, he carried the idea that a conspiracy was formed against Joseph Smith and others, and that some of them would be shot. These conversations were had at different times. He thought Mr. Smith was a bad character. He thought they ought to be taken. Question: Who? Joseph Smith and some others.

I told him he had been taken, but had been acquitted. He did not thank the Governor for that. He carried the idea that there was a conspiracy against his life, and said we have a plan in operation that will pop him over.

Mr. Elliott sworn.

By the Court: Is your residence, Mr. Elliott, in this county? Yes. Messrs. Marr and Styles, attorneys, resident in Nauvoo, made some thrilling remarks pertaining to the outrageous proceedings of Missouri. The diabolical conduct of those wretches who could be engaged in destroying and kidnapping their fellowmen was portrayed in glowing colors.

Judge Phelps and General Smith then followed on the same subject: their language was thrillingly eloquent and powerful. If ever inhumanity and deeds of blood were depicted in their true colors, it was on that occasion: their thoughts flashed as fire, and they spake in “words that burned.” We never saw the character of General Smith so clearly developed; for while he abhorred and depicted the fiendish crime that the culprit stood charged with in its true colors, he pitied the poor wretch that then stood before him, and with feelings of commiseration, benevolence, and philanthropy, withdrew his charge—wished, if it was within the power of the court, that the culprit might be forgiven,—promised to pay all the charges, and invited him and those of his friends who came along with him, to come to his house, and they should be taken care of. It would be superfluous for us to attempt to give even a faint outline of the remarks made by the above-named gentlemen. We hope to have at least a synopsis of their speeches for publication, which we are sure would be highly interesting to our readers. Upon the whole, although a painful, yet it was an interesting occasion and will long be remembered; and unless Mr. Elliott’s heart and those of his friends were made of adamant, it must have made an indelible impression on their minds, and almost made them hate themselves.

I received from Aaron Johnson, Esq., the following demand:—

[Page 119]

Legion Aid Applied For.

City of Nauvoo, December 18, 1843.

Sir:—I have been informed that a writ issued by me for the body of Levi Williams, for kidnapping Daniel Avery, will be resisted by an armed force: Therefore, according to the provision of the Charter, I wish you to order me a detachment of the Nauvoo Legion—say 100 men, to enforce the law of the State, and bring the said Williams to justice.

Aaron Johnson, J. P.

Which demand I complied with by writing to Major-General Wilson Law.

Detachment of the Legion Ordered into Service.

City of Nauvoo, Dec. 18, 1843.

Sir:—You will detach 100 men, under the direction of Aaron Johnson, a Justice of the Peace, for the purpose of assisting the constable in executing the law of the State in taking Levi Williams, who is charged with kidnapping Daniel Avery.

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

To Major-Gen. Wilson Law,

Commanding Nauvoo Legion.

Gen. Wilson detached Colonel Stephen Markham with 100 men for that purpose.

Rumors of Mob Risings.

About 10 P.M., two young men arrived as express, stating that a mob was collecting at Warsaw, also at Colonel Levi Williams’ house; and messengers had gone to the mob in Missouri to reinforce their number there.

Dr. Richards made the following affidavit:—

Affidavit of Willard Richards that Nauvoo was in Danger.

State of Illinois, City of Nauvoo,

December 18, 1843.

Personally appeared Willard Richards before me, Joseph Smith, Mayor of said city, and upon his oath deposeth and saith that from information he has received, he verily believes that the peace of said city is in danger from a mobocratic assemblage at Warsaw, and a force collected under the command of Colonel Levi Williams in the lower part of the county, and runners having been sent to Missouri to excite the Missourians to join the mobbers in this county, for the purpose of making a descent on said city, or disturbing its peaceable inhabitants; and further your deponent saith not.

[Page 120]

Willard Richards.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 18th December, 1843.

W. W. Phelps,

Clerk of the Mayor’s Court.

Whereupon I wrote to Major-General Wilson Law:—

Legion Ordered into Service.

City of Nauvoo, Dec. 18, 1843.

Sir:—I am credibly informed that a warlike force is collecting at or near Warsaw, for the purpose of some violent move towards this city or some of the inhabitants thereof. You will therefore order out such a portion of the Nauvoo Legion as may be necessary to repel any such mobocratic or hostile design of the same unlawful force, and also as may be sufficient to secure the peace of the citizens, according to law.


Joseph Smith, Lieut-Gen. N. L.

Major-Gen. Wilson Law, Commanding Nauvoo Legion.

I returned home to rest about one o’clock in the morning of the 19th.

Moves and Counter Moves of Forces.

Tuesday, 19.—At home. About 9 A.M., a part of the company who went with Hosea Stout returned, and stated that they went within two miles of Colonel Williams’, when they were informed that a body of men, armed with rifles, &c., were collected at his house, and he judged it prudent to return for weapons and help; also that Brother Chester Loveland told them that he had seen thirty armed men following Constable King Follett some miles on his way, when he had Elliott in custody.

Esq. Johnson immediately wrote to Loveland to have him come to Nauvoo and make affidavit of the warlike movements of the mob, that he might send to the Governor.

I directed my clerks to make copies of the affidavits respecting the kidnapping of the Averys to send to Governor Ford, that he might be left without excuse, although he may probably not read them.

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Elder William Martindale writes from Washington, Wayne county, Iowa:—

Strange Celestial Phenomenon—1860.

A singular phenomenon was seen in this neighborhood. Jesse Fox, William and Lorenzo Fox, David Bale, James Wilson, and William Cole, with some others, retired to the house of Solomon Mendenhall, at which place they stayed a short time. While there they discovered a ball rising from the east in an oblique line; and as it ascended it moved towards the west with great rapidity until it was high in the heavens, leaving a streak of light behind it, which to the natural eye, had the appearance of being thirty or forty feet in length. This light remained stationary for about one minute. Both ends then coming round, formed a figure 8, which figure also retained its position for the same space of time. It then was transformed into a figure 6, which also remained for about a minute. It then was formed into a cipher or 0, which remained for about three minutes. The figures put together made 1860 in large figures in the heavens. The phenomenon was indeed singular, and has been a matter of great speculation with us.

Legion Parade

At one P.M. I was present when the Legion paraded near the Temple, were inspected by the officers, and instructed to prepare themselves with arms and ammunition and to hold themselves in readiness, for a moment’s notice. Brother Henry Boley was shot severely under the arm by the accidental discharge of his gun.

Amos S. Chase made the following affidavit:—

Affidavit of Amos Chase.

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo. ss.

On the 19th day of December, 1843, came Amos S. Chase before me Joseph Smith, Mayor of said city; and after being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that on the 18th day of December, 1843, he was about four miles below Warsaw, in Hancock County, shortly after the constable arrested John Elliott for being concerned in kidnapping Daniel Avery, not long since, and saw the men of the neighborhood gathering with arms to retake the said John Elliott; and when asked what they would do, if the Governor did not sanction such an unlawful course, several of them replied, “Damn the Governor! If he opens his head, we will punch a hole through him! He dare not open his head! We will serve him the same sauce we will the Mormons.” The said mob then went to Warsaw, where your affiant saw them with their arms; and further your affiant saith not.

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Amos S. Chase,

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 19th day of December, 1843.

W. W. Phelps, Clerk, M. C.

Wednesday, 20.—At home, in good health and spirits, counseling and attending to business in general.

The Clerk of the Municipal Court took the following affidavits:—

Affidavits of Philander Avery—Missouri Kidnapping.

State of Illinois,

City of Nauvoo. ss.

On the 20th day of December, 1843, personally appeared before me, Willard Richards, clerk of the Municipal Court of said city Philander Avery, of Bear Creek precinct, in said county, and after being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that on the 19th day of November, 1843, at his house, in the precinct aforesaid, Ebenezer Richardson, of Lee county, Territory of Iowa, by false pretenses, persuaded your affiant to accompany said Richardson to the Mississippi river at Warsaw, where your affiant was seized by one Joseph C. McCoy, of Clark county, Missouri, in connection with the said Richardson, and about one dozen of other individuals, whose names are unknown to your affiant, and by them forced across said Mississippi River, where they bound your affiant; and Mark Childs swore that your affiant had stolen said McCoy’s horse and colt, and that his father Daniel Avery had secreted said horse and colt, and said Richardson threatened your affiant with death or seven years’ imprisonment, in order to persuade him to make false statements, and testify that his father, Daniel Avery, had stolen said McCoy’s horse and colt, which statements your affiant made, and swore to the same, while in duress, with a bowie-knife presented to intimidate. And your affiant further saith that the testimony he gave concerning his father’s guilt, was extorted from him through fear, while in duress, and said testimony was absolutely false, and your affiant fully believed that his father is innocent of the crime of stealing said McCoy’s horse and colt; and further your deponent saith not.

Philander Avery.

[L. S.]

Subscribed and sworn to before me; in testimony whereof I have set my hand and affixed the seal of said court at Nauvoo aforesaid, this 20th day of December, A. D. 1843.

Willard Richards, Clerk of the Municipal Court of the City of Nauvoo,

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Affidavit of the Hamiltons.

State of Illinois,

County of Hancock,

On the 20th day of December, 1843, personally appeared before me Aaron Johnson, a Justice of the Peace in and for said county, Andrew H. Hamilton, and James B. Hamilton, of Bear Creek precinct, in said county, and, after being duly sworn, depose and say that on the evening of the 2nd day of December, 1843, at Vernon Doty’s mill, in said precinct, Colonel Levi Williams, of said Hancock county, as principal, and his son, John Williams, with William Middleton, of the county of Clark and State of Missouri, Captain McCoy, of the said county of Clark and State of Missouri, John Fox of Green Plains precinct, and about a dozen other men, armed with pistols, dirks and bowie knives came forcibly upon Daniel Avery at said Doty’s mill, and seized and bound him. The said Avery told them to stand off. They said they had a writ. He observed, he would not resist legal authority. They said they would take said Avery to Warsaw, and there to try him. The said Avery replied, “I understand you: you will take me to Warsaw, and there pass me over the river to Missouri.” Some of said gang then shouted, “Lay hold of him; G—d d—n him, lay hold of him: there’s no use of parleying;” at which Colonel Levi Williams, with a large bowie-knife in his hand, and others, then forced the said Daniel Avery to submit, telling him (without a writ,) that his life would be taken if he did not submit. They then tied him with silk handkerchiefs. Colonel Levi Williams and another person then led the said Daniel Avery away; and as they passed your affiants within the distance of about four rods, the said Daniel Avery cried out to one of your said affiants, “tell my friends where I am gone.” Colonel Williams told said Avery to hold his peace, for it was of no use. William Middleton then got a horse; and after tying him upon said horse, as sworn to before by another witness, they then conveyed him to Missouri without an by another witness, they then conveyed him to Missouri without a writ or trial, as your affiants verily believe; and further they say not.

Andrew M. Hamilton,

James B. Hamilton.

Subscribed and sworn to this 20th day of December, 1843, before me.

Aaron Johnson, J. P.

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1. This was the upper room of President Smith’s brick store.

2. This occurred on the 2nd of December. See Avery’s Affidavit, Chapter 6, this volume.

3. The Ordinance was about a month later repealed at the suggestion of President Smith.

4. This prediction doubtless has reference to the party in power; to the “government” considered as the administration; not to the “government” considered as the country; but the administration party, the Democratic Party, which had controlled the destiny of the country for forty years. It is matter of history that few years later the party then in power lost control of the national government, followed by the terrible conflict of the Civil War. The Party against which the above prediction was made so far lost its influence that it did not again return to power for a quarter of a century; and when it did return to power it was with such modified views as to many great questions of government, that it could scarcely be regarded as the same party except in name.

Lest it should be urged that the Whig party was in control of the government in 1843, I call attention to the fact that while General Harrison, a Whig, was elected in 1840, he was President only one month, as he died on the 4th of April, 1841. His whole cabinet, excepting Mr. Webster, Secretary of State, resigned, and the Vice President became President. Though elected by the Whigs Mr. Tyler was a Democrat “and the Whig administration had but a month’s actual existence.’ (See History of the United States, Morris, pp. 311, 312).