Joseph Smith's Death
Joseph Smith's Death—History
(History of the Church, Vol. 6 Chapters 33-34, p. 602-622)
THE DAY OF MARTYRDOM—THREATS—REPEATED WARNINGS OF
THE PRISONERS' DANGER GIVEN TO GOVERNOR FORD—THE
CARTHAGE GREYS AS GUARDS.
Tuesday, 27, 5 a. m.—John P. Greene and William W. Phelps called at the jail, on their way to Nauvoo.
5:30 a. m.—Arose. Joseph requested Dan Jones to descend and inquire of the guard the cause of the disturbance in the night. Frank Worrel, the officer of the guard, who was one of the Carthage Greys, in a very bitter spirit said, "We have had too much trouble to bring Old Joe here to let him ever escape alive, and unless you want to die with him you had better leave before sundown; and you are not a damned bit better than him for taking his part, and you'll see that I can prophesy better than Old Joe, for neither he nor his brother, nor anyone who will remain with them will see the sun set today."
Joseph directed Jones to go to Governor Ford and inform him what he had been told by the assemblage of men, and heard one of them, who was apparently a leader, making a speech, saying that, "Our troops will be discharged this morning in obedience to orders, and for a sham we will leave the town; but when the Governor and the McDonough troops have left for Nauvoo this afternoon, we will return and kill those men, if we have to tear the jail down." This sentiment was applauded by three cheers from the crowd.
Captain Jones went to the Governor, told him what had occurred in the night, what the officer of the guard had said, and what he had heard while coming to see him, and earnestly solicited him to avert the danger.
His Excellency replied, "You are unnecessarily alarmed for the safety of your friends, sir, the people are not that cruel."
Irritated by such a remark, Jones urged the necessity of placing better men to guard them than professed assassins, and said, "The Messrs. Smith are American citizens, and have surrendered themselves to your Excellency upon your pledging your honor for their safety; they are also Master Masons, and as such I demand of you protection of their lives."
Governor Ford's face turned pale, and Jones remarked, "If you do not do this, I have but one more desire, and that is if you leave their lives in the hands of those men to be sacrificed——"
"What is that, sir?" he asked in a hurried tone.
"It is," said Jones, "that the Almighty will preserve my life to a proper time and place, that I may testify that you have been timely warned of their danger."
Jones then returned to the prison, but the guard would not let him enter. He again returned to the hotel, and found Governor Ford standing in front of the McDonough troops, who were in line ready to escort him to Nauvoo.
The disbanded mob retired to the rear, shouting loudly that they were only going a short distance out of town, when they would return and kill old Joe and Hyrum as soon as the Governor was far enough out of town.
Jones called the attention of the Governor to the threats then made, but the Governor took no notice of them, although it was impossible for him to avoid bearing them.
Jones then requested the Governor to give him passports for himself and friends to pass in and out of the prison, according to his promise made to the prisoners. He refused to give them, but he told General Deming to give one to Dr. Willard Richards, Joseph Smith's private secretary.
While obtaining this, Jones' life was threatened, and Chauncey L. Higbee said to him in the street, "We are determined to kill Joe and Hyrum, and you had better go away to save yourself."
At 7 a.m., Joseph, Hyrum, Dr. Richards, Stephen Markham and John S. Fullmer ate breakfast together. Mr. Crane ate with them, and wanted to know if the report was true that Joseph fainted three times on Tuesday, while being exhibited to the troops. He was told it was a false report.
8 a. m.—Cyrus H. Wheelock, at Joseph's request, applied to the Governor, and obtained the following passes:
Cyrus H. Wheelock's Passes.
Suffer Mr. C. H. Wheelock to pass in to visit General Joseph Smith and friends in Carthage jail unmolested.
Governor and Commander-in-Chief.
June, 27th, 1844.
Protect Mr. C. H. Wheelock in passing to and from Carthage and Nauvoo.
Governor and Commander-in-Chief.
June 27th, 1844.
While receiving these passes he related to the Governor the numerous threats he had heard.
John S. Fullmer went to the Governor to get a pass.
8:20 a. m.—Joseph wrote to Emma as follows:
Letter: Joseph Smith to Emma Smith—Prophet's Instruction as to Reception of the Governor.
CARTHAGE JAIL, June 27th, 1844.
20 minutes past eight a.m.
DEAR EMMA.—The Governor continues his courtesies, and permits us to see our friends. We hear this morning that the Governor will not go down with his troops today to Nauvoo, as we anticipated last evening; but if he does come down with his troops you will be protected; and I want you to tell Brother Dunham to instruct the people to stay at home and attend to their own business, and let there be no groups or gathering together, unless by permission of the Governor, they are called together to receive communications from the Governor, which would please our people, but let the Governor direct.
Brother Dunham of course will obey the orders of the government officers, and render them the assistance they require. There is no danger of any extermination order. Should there be a mutiny among the troops (which we do not anticipate, excitement is abating) a part will remain loyal and stand for the defense of the state and our rights.
There is one principle which is eternal; it is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of the household, whenever necessity requires, and no power has a right to forbid it, should the last extreme arrive, but I anticipate no such extreme, but caution is the parent of safety.
P. S.—Dear Emma, I am very much resigned to my lot, knowing I am justified, and have done the best that could be done. Give my love to the children and all my friends, Mr. Brewer, and all who inquire after me; and as for treason, I know that I have not committed any, and they cannot prove anything of the kind, so you need not have any fears that anything can happen to us on that account. May God bless you all. Amen.
8:30.—John S. Fullmer returned to jail.
9:40 a. m.—Mr. Woods and Mr. Reid called. They said another consultation of the officers had taken place, and the former orders of the Governor for marching to Nauvoo with the whole army were countermanded.
Dr. Southwick was in the meeting, seeing what was going on. He afterward told Stephen Markham that the purport of the meeting was to take into consideration the best way to stop Joseph Smith's career, as his views on government were widely circulated and took like wildfire.
They said if he did not get into the Presidential chair this election, he would be sure to the next time; and if Illinois and Missouri would join together and kill him, they would not be brought to justice for it. There were delegates in said meeting from every state in the Union except three. Governor Ford and Captain Smith were also in the meeting.
Captain Dunn and his company were ordered to accompany the Governor to Nauvoo. The Carthage Greys, who had but two days before been under arrest for insulting the commanding general, and whose conduct had been more hostile to the prisoners than that of any other company, were selected by Governor Ford to guard the prisoners at the jail; and other troops composed of the mob whom the Governor had found at Carthage, and had mustered into the service of the State and who had been promised "full satisfaction" and that they should be marched to Nauvoo, were disbanded and discharged in Carthage; yet Governor Ford suffered two or three hundred armed men to remain encamped about eight miles off on the Warsaw road,1 apparently under the control of Col. Levi Williams, a notoriously sworn enemy to Joseph, and who had on many occasions threatened the destruction of Nauvoo and the death of Joseph. Moreover it was the duty of the Governor to dismiss the troops into the hands of their several officers in order to be marched home and there disbanded, and not to have disbanded them at a distance from home, and at a time and place when they were predisposed to acts of lawless violence, rapine and murder.
Cyrus H. Wheelock, states that previous to leaving Carthage he said to the Governor, "Sir, you must be aware by this time that the prisoners have no fears in relation to any lawful demands made against them, but you have heard sufficient to justify you in the belief that their enemies would destroy them if they had them in their power; and now, sir, I am about to leave for Nauvoo, and I fear for those men; they are safe as regards the law, but they are not safe from the hands of traitors, and midnight assassins who thirst for their blood and have determined to spill it; and under these circumstances I leave with a heavy heart."
Ford replied: "I was never in such a dilemma in my life; but your friends shall be protected, and have a fair trial by the law; in this pledge I am not alone; I have obtained the pledge of the whole of the army to sustain me.
After receiving these assurances, Wheelock prepared to visit the prison. The morning being a little rainy, favored his wearing an overcoat, in the side pocket of which he was enabled to carry a six shooter, and he passed the guard unmolested. During his visit in the prison he slipped the revolver into Joseph's pocket. Joseph examined it, and asked Wheelock if he had not better retain it for his own protection.
This was a providential circumstance, as most other persons had been very rigidly searched. Joseph then handed the single barrel pistol which had been given him by John S. Fullmer, to his brother Hyrum, and said, "You may have use for this." Brother Hyrum observed, "I hate to use such things otto see them used." "So do I," said Joseph, "but we may have to, to defend ourselves;" upon this Hyrum took the pistol.
Wheelock was intrusted with a verbal request to the commanders of the Legion to avoid all military display, or any other movement calculated to produce excitement during the Governor's visit. He was especially charged to use all the influence he possessed to have the brethren and friends of Joseph remain perfectly calm and quiet, inasmuch as they respected the feelings and well-being of the Prophet and Patriarch.
Said Joseph, "Our lives have already become jeopardized by revealing the wicked and bloodthirsty purposes of our enemies; and for the future we must cease to do so. All we have said about them is truth, but it is not always wise to relate all the truth. Even Jesus, the Son of God had to refrain from doing so, and had to restrain His feelings many times for the safety of Himself and His followers, and had to conceal the righteous purposes of His heart in relation to many things pertaining to His Father's kingdom. When still a boy He had all the intelligence. necessary to enable Him to rule and govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and most profound doctors of law and divinity, and make their theories and practice to appear like folly compared with the wisdom He possessed; but He was a boy only, and lacked physical strength even to defend His own person, and was subject to cold, to hunger and to death. So it is with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; we have the revelation of Jesus, and the knowledge within us is sufficient to organize a righteous government upon the earth, and to give universal peace to all mankind, if they would receive it, but we lack the physical strength, as did our Savior when a child, to defend our principles, and we have of necessity to be afflicted, persecuted and smitten, and to bear it patiently until Jacob is of age, then he will take care of himself."
Wheelock took a list of witnesses' names that were wanted for the expected trial on Saturday. When the list was read over, a number of names were stricken out, among whom were Alpheus Cutler and Reynolds Cahoon, it being deemed by Brother Hyrum unnecessary for them to attend. Brother Joseph asked why they should not come. Hyrum answered, "They may be very good men, but they don't know enough to answer a question properly." Brother Joseph remarked, "That is sufficient reason."
The prisoners also sent many verbal messages to their families. They were so numerous that Dr. Richards proposed writing them all down, fearing Wheelock might forget, but Brother Hyrum fastened his eyes upon him, and with a look of penetration said, "Brother Wheelock will remember all that we tell him, and he will never forget the occurrences of this day."
Joseph related the following dream which he had last night:
"I was back in Kirtland, Ohio, and thought I would take a walk out by myself, and view my old farm, which I found grown up with weeds and brambles, and altogether bearing evidence of neglect and want of culture. I went into the barn, which I found without floor or doors, with the weather-boarding off, and was altogether in keeping with the farm.
"While I viewed the desolation around me, and was contemplating how it might be recovered from the curse upon it, there came rushing into the barn a company of furious men, who commenced to pick a quarrel with me.
"The leader of the party ordered me to leave the barn and farm, stating it was none of mine, and that I must give up all hope of ever possessing it.
"I told him the farm was given me by the Church, and although I had not had any use of it for some time back, still I had not sold it, and according to. righteous principles it belonged to me or the Church.
"He then grew furious and began to rail upon me, and threaten me, and said it never did belong to me nor to the Church.
"I then told him that I did not think it worth contending about, that I had no desire to live upon it in its present state, and if he thought he had a better right I would not quarrel with him about it but leave; but my assurance that I would not trouble him at present did not seem to satisfy him, as he seemed determined to quarrel with me, and threatened me with the destruction of my body.
"While he was thus engaged, pouring out his bitter words upon me, a rabble rushed in and nearly filled the barn, drew out their knives, and began to quarrel among themselves for the premises, and for a moment forgot me, at which time I took the opportunity to walk out of the barn about up to my ankles in mud.
"When I was a little distance from the barn, I heard them screeching and screaming in a very distressed manner, as it appeared they had engaged in a general fight with their knives. While they were thus engaged, the dream or vision ended."
Both Joseph and Hyrum bore a faithful testimony to the Latter-day work, and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and prophesied of the triump of the Gospel over all the earth, exhorting the brethren present to faithfulness and persevering diligence in proclaiming the Gospel, building up the Temple, and performing all the duties connected with our holy religion.
Joseph dictated the following postscript to Emma:
P. S.—20 minutes to 10.—I just learn that the Governor is about to disband his troops, all but a guard to protect us and the peace, and come himself to Nauvoo and deliver a speech to the people. This is right as I suppose.
He afterwards wrote a few lines with his own hand, which were not copied.
The letter was sent by Joel S. Mills and Cyrus H. Wheelock.
John P. Greene, (Nauvoo city marshal) told Governor Ford that if he went to Nauvoo, leaving only the Carthage Greys to guard the jail, that there was a conspiracy on foot to take the lives of Joseph and Hyrum Smith during his absence, to which the Governor replied, "Marshal Greene, you are too enthusiastic."
DEPARTURE OF GOVERNOR FORD FOR NAUVOO—THE AFTERNOON
IN CARTHAGE PRISON—THE ASSAULT ON THE
PRISON—THE MARTYRDOM OF JOSEPH AND
Thursday, June 27, [continued] 10:30.,—Governor Ford went to Nauvoo some time this forenoon, escorted by a portion of his troops, most friendly to the prisoners, and leaving the known enemies of the Prophet, ostensibly to guard the jail, having previously disbanded the remainder.
Joseph sent a request to the Governor by Dan Jones for a pass for his private secretary, Dr. Willard Richards.
11 a. m.—John S. Fullmer left the jail for Nauvoo, with a verbal charge to assist Wheelock in gathering and forwarding witnesses for the promised trial.
James W. Woods, Esq., Joseph's principal lawyer, left Carthage for Nauvoo.
11:20 a. m.—Dan Jones returned with the following pass for Dr. Richards:—
Pass for Willard Richards.
Permit Dr. Richards. the private secretary of Joseph Smith, to be with him, if he desires it, and to pass and repasss the guard.
June 27th, 1844.
Jones said he could not get one for himself.
Dan Jones met Almon W. Babbitt in the street, and informed him that Joseph wanted to see him.
11:30.—A. W. Babbitt arrived at the jail and read a letter from Oliver Cowdery.
Joseph, Hyrum, and Dr. Richards tried to get Jones past the guard, but they persisted in refusing to admit him.
12:20 noon.—Joseph wrote for Lawyer Browning of Quincy to come up on Saturday as his attorney, as follows:—
Letter: Joseph Smith to O. H. Browning—Engaging Browning as Legal Counsel.
CARTHAGE JAIL, June 27th, 1844.
SIR,—Myself and brother Hyrum are in jail on charge of treason, to come up for examination on Saturday morning, 29th inst., and we request your professional services at that time, on our defense, without fail.
Most respectfully, your servant,
P. S.—There is no cause of action, for we have not been guilty of any crime, neither is there any just cause of suspicion against us; but certain circumstances make your attendance very necessary.
Almon W. Babbitt took the letter and left the jail. He handed it to Jones, with directions to take it to Quincy forthwith. The guard being aware of the letter, told the mob that, "old Joe" had sent orders to raise the Nauvoo Legion to come and rescue him. The mob gathered around Jones, and demanded the letter; some of them wanted to take it from him by force, and said that Jones should not get out of Carthage alive, as a dozen men had started off with their rifles to waylay him in the woods. Having previously ordered his horse, Jones took advantage of their disagreement, and started off at full speed. He, by mistake, took the Warsaw road, and so avoided the men who were lying in wait for him. When he emerged on the prairie, he saw the Governor and his posse, whereupon he left the Warsaw road for the Nauvoo road.
Dr. Southwick called at the jail. Joseph gave him a note to Governor Ford or General Doming, requesting them to furnish him with a pass.
1:15. p. m.—Joseph, Hyrum, and Willard dined in their room. Taylor and Markham dined below.
1:30 p. m.—Dr. Richards was taken sick, when Joseph said, "Brother Markham, as you have a pass from the Governor to go in and out of the jail, go and get the doctor something that he needs to settle his stomach," and Markham went out for medicine. When he had got the remedies desired, and was returning to jail, a man by the name of Stewart called out, "Old man, you have got to leave town in five minutes." Markham replied, "I shall not do it." A company of Carthage Greys gathered round him, put him on his horse, and forced him out of the town at the point of the bayonet.
3:15. p. m.—The guard began to be more severe in their operations, threatening among themselves, and telling what they would do when the excitement was over.
Elder Taylor sang the following:—
The Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.
A poor wayfaring man of grief
Had often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer, Nay.
I had not power to ask his name;
Whither he went or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love, I knew not why.
Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered—not a word he spake!
Just perishing for want of bread;
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again;
Mine was an angel's portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
The crust was manna to my taste.
I spied him where a fountain burst,
Clear from the rock—his strength was gone,
The heedless water mock'd his thirst,
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran and raised the surf'rer up;
Thrice from the stream he drain'd my cup,
Dipp'd, and returned it running o'er;
I drank and never thirsted more.
'Twas night, the floods were out, it blew
A winter hurricane aloof;
I heard his voice, abroad, and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed, I clothed, I cheered my guest,
I laid him on my couch to rest;
Then made the earth my bed, and seem'd
In Eden's garden while I dream'd.
Stripp'd, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side;
I rous'd his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment—he was heal'd;
I had myself a wound conceal'd;
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart,
In pris'n I saw him next—condemned
To meet a traitor's doom at morn;
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him 'mid shame and scorn.
My friendship's utmost zeal to try,
He asked, if I for him would die;
The flesh was weak, my blood ran chill,
But the free spirit cried, "I will!"
Then in a moment to my view,
The stranger started from disguise:
The tokens in his hands I knew,
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake—and my poor name he named—
"Of me thou hast not been asham'd;
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not thou didst them unto me."
When he got through, Joseph requested him to sing it again, which he did.
Hyrum read extracts from Josephus.
4 p. m.—The guard was again changed, only eight men being stationed at the jail, whilst the main body of the Carthage Greys were in camp about a quarter of a mile distant, on the public square.
4:15 p. m.—Joseph commenced conversing with the guard about Joseph H. Jackson, William and Wilson Law, and others of his persecutors.
Hyrum and Dr. Richards conversed together until quarter past five.
5 p. m.—Jailor Stigall returned to the jail, and said that Stephen Markham had been surrounded by a mob, who had driven him out of Carthage, and he had gone to Nauvoo.
Stigall suggested that they would be safer in the cell. Joseph said, "After supper we will go in." Mr. Stigall went out, and Joseph said to Dr. Richards, "If we go into the cell, will you go in with us?" The doctor answered, "Brother Joseph you did not ask me to cross the river with you—you did not ask me to come to Carthage—you did not ask me to come to jail with you—and do you think I would forsake you now? But I will tell you what I will do; if you are condemned to be hung for treason, I will be hung in your stead, and you shall go free." Joseph said, "You cannot." The doctor replied, "I will."
Before the jailer came in, his boy brought in some water, and said the guard wanted some wine. Joseph gave Dr. Richards two dollars to give the guard; but the guard said one was enough, and would take no more.
The guard immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the guards brought them into the jail soon after the jailer went out. Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as also Brother Taylor and the doctor, and the bottle was then given to the guard, who turned to go out. When at the top of the stairs some one below called him two or three times, and he went down.
Immediately there was a little rustling at the outer door of the jail, and a cry of surrender, and also a discharge of three or four firearms followed instantly. The doctor glanced an eye by the curtain of the window, and saw about a hundred armed men around the door. It is said that the guard elevated their firelocks, and boisterously threatening the mob discharged their fire-arms over their heads. The mob encircled the building, and some of them rushed by the guard up the flight of stairs, burst open the door, and began the work of death, while others fired in through the open windows.
In the meantime Joseph, Hyrum, and Elder Taylor had their coats off. Joseph sprang to his coat for his six-shooter, Hyrum for his single barrel, Taylor for Markham's large hickory cane, and Dr. Richards for Taylor's cane. All sprang against the door, the balls whistled up the stairway, and in an instant one came through the door.
Joseph Smith, John Taylor and Dr. Richards sprang to the left of the door, and tried to knock aside the guns of the ruffians.
Hyrum was retreating back in front of the door and snapped his pistol, when a ball struck him in the left side of his nose, and he fell on his back on the floor saying, "I am a dead man!" As he fell on the floor another ball from the outside entered his left side, and passed through his body with such force that it completely broke to pieces the watch he wore in his vest pocket, and at the same instant another ball from the door grazed his breast, and entered his head by the throat; subsequently a fourth ball entered his left leg.
A shower of balls was pouring through all parts of the room, many of which lodged in the ceiling just above the head of Hyrum.
Joseph reached round the door casing, and discharged his six shooter into the passage, some barrels missing fire. Continual discharges of musketry came into the room. Elder Taylor continued parrying the guns until they had got them about half their length into the room, when he found that resistance was vain, and he attempted to jump out of the window, where a ball fired from within struck him on his left thigh, hitting the bone, and passing through to within half an inch of the other side. He fell on the window sill, when a ball fired from the outside struck his watch in his vest pocket, and threw him back into the room.
After he fell into the room he was hit by two more balls, one of them injuring his left wrist considerably, and the other entering at the side of the bone just below the left knee. He rolled under the bed, which was at the right of the window in the south-east corner of the room.
While he lay under the bed he was fired at several times from the stairway; one ball struck him on the left hip, which tore the flesh in a shocking manner, and large quantities of blood were scattered upon the wall and floor.
When Hyrum fell, Joseph exclaimed, "Oh dear, brother Hyrum!" and opening the door a few inches he discharged his six shooter in the stairway (as stated before), two or three barrels of which missed fire.
Joseph, seeing there was no safety in the room, and no doubt thinking that it would save the lives of his brethren in the room if he could get out, turned calmly from the door, dropped his pistol on the floor, and sprang into the window when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without, and he fell outward into the hands of his murderers, exclaiming. "O Lord, my God!"
Dr. Richards' escape was miraculous; he being a very large man, and in the midst of a shower of balls, yet he stood unscathed, with the exception of a ball which grazed the tip end of the lower part of his left ear. His escape fulfilled literally a prophecy which Joseph made over a year previously, that the time would come that the balls would fly around him like hail, and he should see his friends fall on the right and on the left, but that there should not be a hole in his garment.
The following is copied from the Times and Seasons:—
TWO MINUTES IN JAIL.
Possibly the following events occupied near three minutes, but I think only about two, and have penned them for the gratification of many friends.
CARTHAGE, June 27, 1844.
A shower of musket balls were thrown up the stairway against the door of the prison in the second story, followed by many rapid footsteps.
While Generals Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Mr. Taylor, and myself, who were in the front chamber, closed the door of our room against the entry at the head of the stairs, and placed ourselves against it, there being no lock on the door, and no catch that was usable.
The door is a common panel, and as soon as we heard the feet at the stairs head, a ball was sent through the door, which passed between us, and showed that our enemies were desperadoes, and we must change our position.
General Joseph Smith, Mr. Taylor and myself sprang back to the front part of the room, and General Hyrum Smith retreated two-thirds across the chamber directly in front of and facing the door.
A ball was sent through the door which hit Hyrum on the side of his nose, when he fell backwards, extended at length, without moving his feet.
From the holes in his vest (the day was warm, and no one had his coat on but myself), pantaloons, drawer, and shirt, it appears evident that a ball must have been thrown from without, through the window, which entered his back on the right side, and passing through, lodged against his watch, which was in his right vest pocket, completely pulverizing the crystal and face, tearing off the hands and mashing the whole body of the watch. At the same instant the ball from the door entered his nose.
As he struck the floor he exclaimed emphatically, "I am a dead man." Joseph looked towards him and responded, "Oh, dear brother Hyrum!" and opening the door two or three inches with his left hand, discharged one barrel of a six shooter (pistol) at random in the entry, from whence a ball grazed Hyrum's breast, and entering his throat passed into his head, while other muskets were aimed at him and some balls hit him.
Joseph continued snapping his revolver round the easing of the door into the space as before, three barrels of which missed fire, while Mr. Taylor with a walking stick stood by his side and knocked down the bayonets and muskets which were constantly discharging through the doorway, while I stood by him, ready to lend any assistance, with another stick, but could not come within striking distance without going directly before the muzzle of the guns.
When the revolver failed, we had no more firearms, and expected an immediate rush of the mob, and the doorway full of muskets, half way in the room, and no hope but instant death from within.
Mr. Taylor rushed into the window, which is some fifteen or twenty feet from the ground. When his body was nearly on a balance, a ball from the door within entered his leg, and a ball from without struck his watch, a patent lever, in his vest pocket near the left breast, and smashed it into "pie," leaving the hands standing at 5 o'clock, 16 minutes, and 26 seconds, the force of which ball threw him back on the floor. and he rolled under the bed which stood by his side, where he lay motionless, the mob from the door continuing to fire upon him, cutting away a piece of flesh from his left hip as large as a man's hand, and were hindered only by my knocking down their muzzles with a stick; while they continued to reach their guns into the room, probably left handed, and aimed their discharge so far round as almost to reach us in the corner of the room to where we retreated and dodged, and then I recommenced the attack with my stick.
Joseph attempted, as the last resort, to leap the same window from whence Mr. Taylor fell, when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without, and he fell outward, exclaiming, "Oh Lord, my God!" As his feet went out of the window my head went in, the balls whistling all around. He fell on his left side a dead man.
At this instant the cry was raised, "He's leaped the window!" and the mob on the stairs and in the entry ran out.
I withdrew from the window, thinking it of no use to leap out on a hundred bayonets, then around General Joseph Smith's body.
Not satisfied with this I again reached my head out of the window, and watched some seconds to see if there were any signs of life, regardless of my own, determined to see the end of him I loved. Being fully satisfied that he was dead, with a hundred men near the body and more coming round the corner of the jail, and expecting a return to our room, I rushed towards the prison door, at the head of the stairs, and through the entry from whence the firing had proceeded, to learn if the doors into the prison were open.
When near the entry, Mr. Taylor called out, "Take me." I pressed my way until I found all doors unbarred, returning instantly, caught Mr. Taylor under my arm and rushed by the stairs into the dungeon, or inner prison, stretched him on the floor and covered him with a bed in such a manner as not likely to be perceived, expecting an immediate return of the mob.
I said to Mr. Taylor, "This is a hard case to lay you on the floor, but if your wounds are not fatal, I want you to live to tell the story." I expected to be shot the next moment, and stood before the door awaiting the onset.
While Willard Richards and John Taylor were in the cell, a company of the mob again rushed up stairs, but finding only the dead body of Hyrum, they were again descending the stairs, when a loud cry was heard, "The Mormons are coming!" which caused the whole band of murderers to flee precipitately to the woods.
The following communication was written and sent to Nauvoo:—
First Message to Nauvoo.
CARTHAGE JAIL, 8:05 o'clock, p.m., June 27th, 1844.
Joseph and Hyrum are dead. Taylor wounded, not very badly.1 I am well. Our guard was forced, as we believe, by a band of Missourians from 100 to 200. The job was done in an instant, and the party fled towards Nauvoo instantly. This is as I believe it. The citizens here are afraid of the Mormons attacking them. I promise them no!
N. B.—The citizens promise us protection. Alarm guns have been fired.
The above note was addressed to Governor Ford, Gen. Dunham, Col. Markham, Emma Smith, Nauvoo.
This letter was given to William and John Barnes, two mobocrats, who were afraid to go to Nauvoo, fearing that the Mormons would kill them and lay everything waste about Carthage; they therefore carried it to Arza Adams, who was sick with the ague and fever, about two and a half miles north of Carthage. He was afraid to go on the main road; and after two hours persuasion Mr. Benjamin Leyland consented to pilot Adams by "a blind road," and about midnight they started, and arrived in Nauvoo a little after sunrise. They found the news had arrived before them, for about a dozen men were talking about it at the Mansion, but not knowing what to believe until Adams handed in the above official letter.
[Web-editor: For information on why Joseph was arrested see Changing World, Destruction of Expositor.]
(click to enlarge)
Carthage Jail 1855
(Picture from The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith
by N. B. Lundwall, 1952, p. 166--color added.)
(Click on each image to enlarge.)
Joseph Smith's Death—Masonic
(Excerpt Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? p. 485)
Although Joseph Smith found himself in trouble with the Masons, he gave the Masonic signal of distress just before he was murdered. In his book concerning Masonry, William Morgan gives this information concerning what a Mason is supposed to do "in case of distress": "The sign is given by raising both hands and arms to the elbows, perpendicularly, one on each side of the head, the elbows forming a square. The words accompanying this sign, in case of distress, are, 'O LORD, MY GOD! is there no help for the widow's son?' " (Freemasonry Exposed, p. 76)
John D. Lee claimed that Joseph Smith used the exact words that a Mason is supposed to use in case of distress: "Joseph left the door, sprang through the window, and cried out, 'OH, LORD, MY GOD, IS THERE NO HELP FOR THE WIDOW'S SON!'" (Confessions of John D. Lee, reprint of 1880 ed., p. 153)
Other accounts seem to show that Joseph Smith used the first four words of the distress cry. According to the History of the Church, Joseph Smith "fell outward into the hands of his murderers, exclaiming. 'O LORD, MY GOD!' " (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 618) Less than a month after Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered, the following appeared in the Mormon publication, Times and Seasons:
"...with uplifted hands they gave such SIGNS OF DISTRESS as would have commanded the interposition and benevolence of Savages or Pagans. They were both MASONS in good standing. Ye brethren of 'the mystic tie' what think ye! Where is our good MASTER Joseph and Hyrum? Is there a pagan, heathen, or savage nation on the globe that would not be moved on this great occasion, as the trees of the forest are moved by a mighty wind? Joseph's last exclamation was 'O LORD MY GOD!' " (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p. 585)
The Mormon writer E. Cecil McGavin admitted that Joseph Smith gave the Masonic signal of distress: "When the enemy surrounded the jail, rushed up the stairway, and killed Hyrum Smith, Joseph stood at the open window, his martyr-cry being these words, 'O Lord My God!' This was NOT the beginning of a prayer, because Joseph Smith did not pray in that manner. This brave, young man who knew that death was near, started to repeat THE DISTRESS SIGNAL OF THE MASONS, expecting thereby to gain the protection its members are pledged to give a brother in distress. "In 1878, Zina D. Huntington Young said of this theme, 'I am the daughter of a Master Mason; I am the widow of the Master Mason who, when leaping from the window of Carthage jail, pierced with bullets, MADE THE MASONIC SIGN OF DISTRESS, but those signs were not heeded except by the God of Heaven.' " (Mormonism and Masonry, by E. Cecil McGavin, page 17)
On page 16 of the same book, Mr. McGavin quotes the following from the Life of Heber C. Kimball, p. 26: " 'Joseph, leaping the fatal window, GAVE THE MASONIC SIGNAL OF DISTRESS.' "
[Web-editor: For more information see Changing World, Joseph Smith Becomes a Mason.]
Joseph Smith's Death—Joseph Kills Two
John Taylor, who became the third President of the Mormon Church, made these statements concerning the death of Joseph Smith:
"Elder Cyrus H. Wheelock came in to see us, and when he was about leaving drew a small pistol, a six-shooter, from his pocket, remarking at the same time, 'Would any of you like to have this?' Brother Joseph immediately replied, 'Yes, give it to me,' whereupon he took the pistol, and put it in his pantaloons pocket.... I was sitting at one of the front windows of the jail, when I saw a number of men, with painted faces, coming around the corner of the jail, and aiming towards the stairs....
"I shall never forget the deep feeling of sympathy and regard manifested in the countenance of Brother Joseph as he drew nigh to Hyrum, and, leaning over him, exclaimed, 'Oh! my poor, dear brother Hyrum!' He, however, instantly arose, and with a firm, quick step, and a determined expression of countenance, approached the door, and pulling the six-shooter left by Brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly, and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed died." (History of the Church, Vol. 7, p. 100, 102 & 103)
[Web-editor: For more information see Changing World, Like a Lamb?]
Bancroft's History of
On the 24th of June29 Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the members of the council, and all others demanded, proceeded to Carthage, gave themselves up, and were charged with riot. All entered into recognizances before the justice of the peace to appear for trial, and were released from custody. Joseph and Hyrum, however, were rearrested, and, says Ford, were charged with overt treason, having ordered out the legion to resist the posse comitatus, though, as he states, the degree of their crime would depend on circumstances. The governor's views on this matter are worthy of note. "The overt act of treason charged against them," he remarks, "consisted in the alleged levying of war against the state by declaring martial law in Nauvoo, and in ordering out the legion to resist the posse comitatus. Their actual guiltiness of the charge would depend upon circumstances. If their opponents had been seeking to put the law in force in good faith, and nothing more, then an array of a military force in open resistance to the posse comitatus and the militia of the state most probably would have amounted to treason. But if those opponents merely intended to use the process of the law, the militia of the state, and the posse comitatus as cat's-paws to compass the possession of their persons for the purpose of murdering them afterward, as the sequel demonstrated the fact to be, it might well be doubted whether they were guilty of treason."
With the Nauvoo Legion at their back, the two brothers voluntarily placed themselves in the power of the governor who, demanding and accepting their surrender, though doubting their guilt, nevertheless declared that they were not his prisoners, but the prisoners of the constable and jailer. Leaving two companies to guard the jail, he disbanded the main body of his troops, and proceeding to Nauvoo, addressed the people, beseeching them to abide by the law. "They claimed," he says, "to be a law-abiding people; and insisted that as they looked to the law alone for their protection, so were they careful themselves to observe its provisions. Upon the conclusion of my address, I proposed to take a vote on the question, whether they would strictly observe the laws, even in opposition to their prophet and leaders. The vote was unanimous in favor of this proposition." The governor then set forth for Carthage, and such in substance is his report when viewed in the most favorable light.30
It is related that as Joseph set forth to deliver himself up to the authorities he exclaimed: "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer's morning; I have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me, He was murdered in cold blood."31 Nevertheless, for a moment he hesitated. Should he offer himself a willing sacrifice, or should he endeavor to escape out of their hands? Thus meditating, he crossed the river thinking to depart. On reaching the opposite bank he turned and gazed upon the beautiful city, the holy city, his own hallowed creation, the city of Joseph, with its shining temple, its busy hum of industry, and its thousand happy homes. And they were his people who were there, his very own, given to him of God; and he loved them! Were he to leave them now, to abandon them in this time of danger, they would be indeed as sheep without a shepherd, stricken, and scattered, and robbed, and butchered by the destroyer. No, he could not do it. Better die than to abandon them thus! So he recrossed the river, saying to his brother Hyrum, "Come, let us go together, and let God determine what we shall do or suffer."
Bidding their families and friends adieu, the two brothers set out for Carthage. Their hearts were very heavy. There was dire evil abroad; the air was oppressive, and the sun shot forth malignant rays. Once more they returned to their people; once more they embraced their wives and kissed their children, as if they knew, alas! that they should never see them again.
The party reached Carthage about midnight, and on the following day the troops were formed in line, and Joseph and Hyrum passed up and down in company with the governor, who showed them every respect—either as guests or victims—introducing them as military officers under the title of general. Present were the Carthage Greys, who showed signs of mutiny, hooting at and insulting the prisoners—for such in fact they were, being committed to jail the same afternoon until discharged by due course of law.
A few hours later Joseph asked to see the governor, and next morning Ford went to the prison. "All this is illegal," said the former. "It is a purely civil matter, not a question to be settled by force of arms." "I know it," said the governor, "but it is better so; I did not call out this force, but found it assembled; I pledge you my honor, however, and the faith and honor of the state, that no harm shall come to you while undergoing this imprisonment." The governor took his departure on the morning of the 27th of June. Scarcely was he well out of the way when measures were taken for the consummation of a most damning deed. The prison was guarded by eight men detailed from the Carthage Greys, their company being in camp on the public square a quarter of a mile distant, while another company under Williams, also the sworn enemies of the Mormons, was encamped eight miles away, there awaiting the development of events.
It was a little after five o'clock in the evening. Joseph and Hyrum Smith were confined in an upper room. With the prisoners were John Taylor and Willard Richards, other friends having withdrawn a few moments before. At this juncture a band of a hundred and fifty armed men with painted faces appeared before the jail, and presently surrounded it. The guard shouted vociferously and fired their guns over the heads of the assailants, who paid not the slightest attention to them.32 I give what followed from Burton's City of the Saints, being the statement of President John Taylor, who was present and wounded on the occasion.
"I was sitting at one of the front windows of the jail, when I saw a number of men, with painted faces, coming around the corner of the jail, and aiming toward the stairs. The other brethren had seen the same, for, as I went to the door, I found Brother Hyrum Smith and Dr Richards already leaning against it. They both pressed against the door with their shoulders to prevent its being opened, as the lock and latch were comparatively useless. While in this position, the mob, who had come up stairs, and tried to open the door, probably thought it was locked, and fired a ball through the keyhole; at this Dr Richards and Brother Hyrum leaped back from the door, with their faces toward it; almost instantly another ball passed through the panel of the door, and struck Brother Hyrum on the left side of the nose, entering his face and head. At the same instant, another ball from the outside entered his back, passing through his body and striking his watch. The ball came from the back, through the jail window, opposite the door, and must, from its range, have been fired from the Carthage Greys, who were placed there ostensibly for our protection, as the balls from the fire-arms, shot close by the jail, would have entered the ceiling, we being in the second story, and there never was a time after that when Hyrum could have received the latter wound. Immediately, when the balls struck him, he fell flat on his back, crying as he fell, 'I am a dead man!' He never moved afterward.
"I shall never forget the deep feeling of sympathy and regard manifested in the countenance of Brother Joseph as he drew nigh to Hyrum, and, leaning over him, exclaimed, 'Oh! my poor, dear brother Hyrum!' He, however, instantly arose, and with a firm, quick step, and a determined expression of countenance, approached the door, and pulling the six-shooter left by Brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly, and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterward understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died.33 I had in my hands a large, strong hickory stick, brought there by Brother Markham, and left by him, which I had seized as soon as I saw the mob approach; and while Brother Joseph was firing the pistol, I stood close behind him. As soon as he had discharged it he stepped back, and I immediately took his place next to the door, while he occupied the one I had done while he was shooting. Brother Richards, at this time, had a knotty walking-stick in his hands belonging to me, and stood next to Brother Joseph, a little farther from the door, in an oblique direction, apparently to avoid the rake of the fire from the door. The firing of Brother Joseph made our assailants pause for a moment; very soon after, however, they pushed the door some distance open, and protruded and discharged their guns into the room, when I parried them off with my stick, giving another direction to the balls.
"It certainly was a terrible scene: streams of fire as thick as my arm passed by me as these men fired, and, unarmed as we were, it looked like certain death. I remember feeling as though my time had come, but I do not know when, in any critical position, I was more calm, unruffled, energetic, and acted with more promptness and decision. It certainly was far from pleasant to be so near the muzzles of those fire-arms as they belched forth their liquid flames and deadly balls. While I was engaged in parrying the guns, Brother Joseph said, 'That's right, Brother Taylor, parry them off as well as you can.' These were the last words I ever heard him speak on earth.
"Every moment the crowd at the door became more dense, as they were unquestionably pressed on by those in the rear ascending the stairs, until the whole entrance at the door was literally crowded with muskets and rifles, which, with the swearing, shouting, and demoniacal expressions of those outside the door and on the stairs, and the firing of the guns, mingled with their horrid oaths and execrations, made it look like pandemonium let loose, and was, indeed, a fit representation of the horrid deed in which they were engaged.
"After parrying the guns for some time, which now protruded thicker and farther into the room, and seeing no hope of escape or protection there, as we were now unarmed, it occurred to me that we might have some friends outside, and that there might be some chance to escape in that direction, but here there seemed to be none. As I expected them every moment to rush into the room—nothing but extreme cowardice having thus far kept them out—as the tumult and pressure increased, without any other hope, I made a spring for the window which was right in front of the jail door, where the mob was standing, and also exposed to the fire of the Carthage Greys, who were stationed some ten or twelve rods off. The weather was hot, we had our coats off, and the window was raised to admit air. As I reached the window, and was on the point of leaping out, I was struck by a ball from the door about midway of my thigh, which struck the bone and flattened out almost to the size of a quarter of a dollar, and then passed on through the fleshy part to within about half an inch of the outside. I think some prominent nerve must have been severed or injured, for, as soon as the ball struck me, I fell like a bird when shot, or an ox when struck by a butcher, and lost entirely and instantaneously all power of action or locomotion. I fell upon the window-sill, and cried out, 'I am shot!' Not possessing any power to move, I felt myself falling outside of the window, but immediately I fell inside, from some, at that time, unknown cause. When I struck the floor my animation seemed restored, as I have seen it sometimes in squirrels and birds after being shot. As soon as I felt the power of motion I crawled under the bed, which was in a corner of the room, not far from the window where I received my wound. While on my way and under the bed I was wounded in three other places; one ball entered a little below the left knee, and never was extracted; another entered the forepart of my left arm, a little above the wrist, and passing down by the joint, lodged in the fleshy part of my hand, about midway, a little above the upper joint of my little finger; another struck me on the fleshy part of my left hip, and tore away the flesh as large as my hand, dashing the mangled fragments of flesh and blood against the wall.
"It would seem that immediately after my attempt to leap out of the window, Joseph also did the same thing, of which circumstance I have no knowledge only from information. The first thing that I noticed was a cry that he had leaped out of the window. A cessation of firing followed, the mob rushed down stairs, and Dr. Richards went to the window. Immediately afterward I saw the doctor going toward the jail door, and as there was an iron door at the head of the stairs adjoining our door which led into the cells for criminals, it struck me that the doctor was going in there, and I said to him, 'Stop, doctor, and take me along.' He proceeded to the door and opened it, and then returned and dragged me along to a small cell prepared for criminals.
"Brother Richards was very much troubled, and exclaimed, 'Oh! Brother Taylor, is it possible that they have killed both Brothers Hyrum and Joseph? it cannot surely be, and yet I saw them shoot them;' and, elevating his hands two or three times, he exclaimed, 'Oh Lord, my God, spare thy servants!' He then said, 'Brother Taylor, this is a terrible event;' and he dragged me farther into the cell, saying, 'I am sorry I can not do better for you;' and, taking an old filthy mattress, he covered me with it, and said, 'That may hide you, and you may yet live to tell the tale, but I expect they will kill me in a few moments.' While lying in this position I suffered the most excruciating pain. Soon afterward Dr. Richards came to me, informed me that the mob had precipitately fled, and at the same time confirmed my worst fears that Joseph was assuredly dead." It appears that Joseph, thus murderously beset and in dire extremity, rushed to the window and threw himself out, receiving in the act several shots, and with the cry, "O Lord, my God!" fell dead to the ground.34 The fiends were not yet satiated; but setting up the lifeless body of the slain prophet against the well-curb, riddled it with bullets.35
29 Report, utsupra, 10-11. In Times and Seasons, v. 560, it is stated that 'on Monday, June 24th, after Ford had sent word that eighteen persons demanded on a warrant, among whom were Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith, should be protected by the militia of the state, they in company with ten or twelve others start for Carthage.'
30 Message, ut supra. The above appear to be the facts of the case, so far as they can be sifted from a lengthy report, which consists mainly of apology or explanation of what the governor did or left undone.
31 Smith's Doc. and Cov., app. 335. The same morning he read in the fifth chapter of Ether, 'And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me, If they have not charity it mattereth not unto you, thou hast been faithful; wherefore thy garments are clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my father.'
32 Littlefield says the Carthage Greys were marched in a body, 'within about eight rods of the jail, where they halted, in plain view of the whole transaction, until the deed was executed.' Narrative, 9.
33 'He wounded three of them, two mortally, one of whom, as he rushed down out of the door, was asked if he was badly hurt. He replied, "Yes; my arm is shot all to pieces by old Joe; but I don't care, I've got revenge; and I shot Hyrum!"' Id., 11.
34 Joseph dropped his pistol, and sprang into the window; but just as he was preparing to descend, he saw such an array of bayonets below, that he caught by the window casing, where he bung by his hands and feet, with his head to the north, feet to the south, and his body swinging downward. He hung in that position three or four minutes, during which time he exclaimed two or three times, 'O Lord, my God!' and fell to the ground. While he was hanging in that situation, Col. Williams halloed, 'Shoot him! God damn him! shoot the damned rascal!' However, none fired at him. He seemed to fall easy. He struck partly on his right shoulder and back, his neck and head reaching the ground a little before his feet. He rolled instantly on his face. From this position he was taken by a young man who sprung to him from the other side of the fence, who held a pewter fife in his hand, was barefooted and bareheaded, having on no coat, with his pants rolled above his knees, and shirt-sleeves above his elbows. He set President Smith against the south side of the well-curb that was situated a few feet from the jail. While doing this the savage muttered aloud, 'This is old Jo; I know him. I know you, old Jo. Damn you; you are the man that had my daddy shot'—intimating that he was a son of Boggs, and that it was the Missourians who were doing this murder. Littlefield's Narrative, 13.
35 After President Taylor's account in Burton's City of the Saints, the best authorities on this catastrophe are: Assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the Prophet and the Patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; also a Condensed History of the Expulsion of the Saints from Nauvoo, by Elder John S. Fullmer (of Utah, U.S.A.), Pastor of the Manchester, Liverpool, and Preston Conferences. Liverpool and London, 1855; Message of the Governor of the State of Illinois, in relation to the disturbances in Hancock County, December 23, 1844. Springfield, 1844; Awful assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith; the pledged faith of the State of Illinois stained with innocent blood by a mob, in Times and Seasons, v. 560-75; A Narrative of the Massacre of Joseph and Hyrum Smith by an Outsider and an Eye-witness, in Utah Tracts, i.; and The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith, by Apostle John Taylor, a copy of which is contained in Burton's City of the Saints, 625-67. Brief accounts will be found in Utah Pamphlets, 23; Lee's Mormonism, 152-5; Remy's Jour. to G. S. L. City, 388-96; Hall's Mormonism Exposed, 15-16; Green's Mormonism, 36-7; Tullidge's Women, 297-300; Olshausen, Gesch. der Mor., 100-3; Tucker's Mormonism, 189-92; Mackay's The Mormons, 169-72; Smucker's Hist. Mor., 177-9; Ferris' Utah and Mormons, 120-5, and in other works on Mormonism. In the Atlantic Monthly for Dec. 1869 ia an article entitled 'The Mormon Prophet's Tragedy,' which, however justly it may lay claim to Boston 'smart' writing, so far as the facts are concerned is simply a tissue of falsehoods.
Like A Lamb?
(Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? p. 258-259)
Edward Bonney gave the following information in his book, Banditti of the Prairies:
"This outrage upon the public press helped to fan the flame already kindled...and plainly foreshadowed the storm that was to burst with startling fury.
"The dissenting Mormons at once united with those opposed to that sect, and various meetings were called, and all parties urged to arm and prepare themselves to resist any further aggression: to be ready at all hazards to protect themselves and meet the worst. Warrants were issued against the Smiths, and other leaders, in the destruction of the printing office of the Expositor, and though served by the proper officers, they refused to obey the mandates of the law, and laughed at its power!
"As in all former cases, the writ of habeas corpus was resorted to, and all the arrested at once set at liberty and discharged from arrest, the same persons that were arrested acting as officers of the courts that discharged them! Thus effectually defeating the ends of justice, and compelling the officer to return to Carthage without a single prisoner!
"This mock administration of law, added new fuel to the flame. The public being convinced that Nauvoo was the headquarters of nearly all the marauders who were preying upon the surrounding community, together with the full belief that the Mormon leaders were privy to their depredations and the resistance and defeat of justice, now became enraged, and determined to rise in their might and enforce the law, even though it should be at the point of the bayonet or sabre....
"The officer from whose custody the Smiths and others were discharged proceeded to summon a posse and renew the arrest from the adjacent counties, rallied under the banner of law and justice. The Mormon leaders, learning this fact, gathered also their forces. The Nauvoo Legion, organized at the call of the Prophet, fully armed and equipped and numbering nearly four thousand, with their pieces of artillery prepared for a desperate resistance.
"The city of Nauvoo was declared under martial law, and all necessary preparations were made to sustain the edicts of the Prophet and the freedom of the crime-stained ones or die in the attempt....
"A full investigation was entered into and Gov. Ford, instructing the officer having the writs from which the Mormons had discharged themselves, to proceed to Nauvoo and demand the surrender of the Smiths and others upon whom the writs had already been served, and in case of a refusal to obey the law, to enforce it at the point of the bayonet. At the same time pledging himself, as the Chief Executive of the state, to protect them from personal violence, and the troops under his command pledged themselves to sustain him....
"Morning came, and the hour of their departure arrived, but the Prophet could not be found, having crossed the Mississippi River during the night with his brother Hiram and secreted themselves in Iowa, and the officer was again forced to return to Carthage without the prisoners....
"During the day, several dispatches crossed the river to and from the Prophet, some advising him to seek safety in flight, and others urging him to return and save the city. Thus urged, the Prophet and his companion in flight, recrossed the river about sunset, and on the following morning started for Carthage, and Nauvoo was again quiet....
"On arriving there, the prisoners were examined on the charge of riot in destroying the printing press, and held to bail for their appearance at the next term of the Hancock Circuit Court. Joseph and Hiram Smith were arrested on charge of treason, and committed to await examination.
"All being tranquil, and Governor Ford thinking an armed force no longer necessary, disbanded his troops on the morning of the 27th, leaving but a small force to guard the jail, and proceeded with his suite to Nauvoo....
"After the troops were disbanded, the most hostile of them believing the Smiths eventually would be acquitted on the charge of treason, and the Mormons still continued their depredations, and deeming that the only way to secure safety was by ridding them of their leaders, they still continued to fan the flame of revenge that had heretofore been burning but too brightly. Urged on by the Mormon dissenters, who were thirsting for blood, they collected, to the number of about 140, armed and disguised, and proceeded to the jail about five o'clock in the afternoon of the 27th. Having dispersed the guard, they attacked the jail, and Joseph and Hiram Smith in an effort to escape were both shot dead. Four balls pierced each of them, and any one of the wounds would have proved fatal. Having accomplished this cold-blooded murder (for surely no other name will apply to it) and glutted their appetite for blood, the mob instantly dispersed." (Banditti of the Prairies, pp. 20-24)
It is interesting to compare the death of Joseph Smith with that of Jesus. In Isaiah 53:7 we read the following: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: HE IS BROUGHT AS A LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." In the New Testament it is claimed that Christ fulfilled this prophecy (see Acts 8:32). The reason that Christ fulfilled it is that he did not try to fight back when he was led to death. He died without putting up a fight. In 1 Peter 2:23 we read: "Who, when he was reviled, reviled NOT AGAIN; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"
When Peter tried to defend Jesus with the sword, Jesus told him: "Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11)
It is claimed that before Joseph Smith was murdered in the Carthage jail he made this statement: "I am going like a LAMB to the slaughter;..." (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 135, verse 4)
Most Mormons believe that Joseph Smith died without putting up a struggle, but the actual truth is that he died in a gun fight. In the History of the Church the following is recorded concerning Joseph Smith's death:
"Immediately there was a little rustling at the outer door of the jail, and a cry of surrender, and also a discharge of three or four firearms followed instantly....JOSEPH sprang to his coat for his SIX-SHOOTER, Hyrum for his single barrel,...
"When Hyrum fell, Joseph exclaimed; 'Oh dear, brother Hyrum!' and opening the door a few inches HE DISCHARGED HIS SIX SHOOTER IN THE STAIRWAY (as stated before), two or three barrels of which missed fire.
"Joseph, seeing there was no safety in the room, and no doubt thinking that it would save the lives of his brethren in the room if he could get out, turned calmly from the door, dropped his PISTOL on the floor, and sprang into the window when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without, and he fell outward into the hands of his murderers, exclaiming, 'O Lord, my God.'" (History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 617-618)
In the Introduction to Vol. 6 of the History of the Church, page XLI, the following is stated about Joseph Smith's death: "When the jail in Carthage was assailed, and the mob was pouring murderous volleys into the room occupied by himself and friends, the Prophet turned from the prostrate form of his murdered brother to face death-dealing guns and bravely returned the fire of his assailants, 'BRINGING HIS MAN DOWN EVERY TIME,' and compelling even John Hay, who but reluctantly accords the Prophet any quality of virtue, to confess that he 'made a handsome fight'..."
John Taylor, who became the third President of the Mormon Church, made these statements concerning the death of Joseph Smith: "Elder Cyrus H. Wheelock came in to see us, and when he was about leaving drew a small pistol, a six-shooter, from his pocket, remarking at the same time, 'Would any of you like to have this?' Brother JOSEPH immediately replied, 'YES, give it to me,' whereupon he took the pistol, and put it in his pantaloons pocket.... I was sitting at one of the front windows of the jail, when I saw a number of men, with painted faces, coming around the corner of the jail, and aiming towards the stairs.... "I shall never forget the deep feeling of sympathy and regard manifested in the countenance of Brother Joseph as he drew nigh to Hyrum, and, leaning over him, exclaimed, 'Oh! my poor, dear brother Hyrum!' He, however, instantly arose, and with a firm, quick step, and a determined expression of countenance, approached the door, and pulling the six-shooter left by Brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly, and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were WOUNDED by these discharges, TWO of whom, I am informed DIED." (History of the Church, Vol. 7, pp. 100, 102 & 103)
From the information given above it can be seen that the death of Joseph Smith can in no way be compared to the death of Jesus. Jesus did go like a "lamb to the slaughter," but Joseph Smith died like a raging lion. In a letter dated July 22, 1844, Sarah Scott wrote:
"I suppose you received our letter and was somewhat prepared, when you heard of the dreadful murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage jail....Joseph prophesied in the last Neighbor that was published before his death that they would come off victorious over them all, as sure as there was a God in Israel. Joseph also prophesied on the stand a year ago last conference that he could not be killed within five years from that time; that they could not kill him till the Temple would be completed, for that he had received an unconditional promise from the Almighty concerning his days, and he set Earth and Hell at defiance; and then said, putting his hand on his head, they never could kill this Child. But now that he is killed some of the Church say that he said: unless he gave himself up. My husband was there at the time and says there was no conditions whatever, and many others testify to the same thing....Brigham Young said if he had been here, he wouldn't have consented to give Joseph up and he would be damned if he would give himself up to the law of the land. He would see them all in hell first; the Church [sic], and then he said he would see all Creation in Hell before he would." (Among the Mormons, pp. 152-153)
Joseph Smith's prophecy that he would prevail against his enemies is found in the Nauvoo Neighbor for June 19, 1844:
"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 heaven, WE SHALL RIDE TRIUMPHANT OVER ALL OPPRESSION.
"JOSEPH SMITH, Mayor"
Just eight days after Joseph Smith made this prophecy he was murdered in the Carthage jail, and before two years had elapsed the Mormons were driven from Illinois. There is some evidence that just before his death Joseph Smith sent for the Nauvoo Legion to rescue him from the Carthage jail. Harold Schindler states:
"Because Ford had permitted Joseph to use the debtor's apartment in jail and allowed several of the prophet's friends access to him, it was possible to smuggle messages out of Carthage. Realizing time was precious, Joseph dictated a note to Major General Jonathan Dunham ordering him to call out the Legion and march on the jail immediately. Dunham received the communication in Nauvoo but failed to carry out the command. One of the Legionnaires, Allen Stout, said, 'Dunham did not let a single man or mortal know that he had received such orders and we were kept in the city under arms not knowing but all was well.'" (Orrin Porter Rockwell: Man of God, Son of Thunder, p.130)
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