Ep 88 – Joseph Smith Arrested… Again
On this episode, we pick up with giving Wilford Woodruff his very own NaMo nickname. After that we jump into the historical timeline following the Q12 on their journey from Liverpool to New York and the great tempests and near death they faced. Then we zoom back in to Nauvoo to see what Jo and friends were up to while the Quorum was on their way back. ThomAss Sharp fires some shots across the bow of the Mormons’ Times and Season, and the Mormons fire back. After that we’re joined by a children’s book author who offers some insight to his method of teaching children a love for science and skepticism.
Manuscript History of Brigham Young
Annabelle & Aiden Children’s science books
Music by Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.com/
Show Artwork http://weirdmormonshit.com/
Legal Counsel http://patorrez.com/
What value can we set on the ineffable feeling of permanence? The idea of humans having 5 senses has been resoundingly debunked ages ago in lieu of modern psychology putting the number above twenty senses. Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch are the big five, but there are more than a dozen other senses our human body picks up and feeds into our brain. Proprioception, where we are in space; sense of pressure related to touch; sense of tension in our own muscles; nociception, our sense of pain; chemoreceptors; how our brain knows about chemical and hormonal changes in our bloodstream; hunger; thirst; time; all of these are sense that don’t fall into the big 5 senses. What about our sense of well-being? Where we fall on the gradient from safe well-being to complete anxiety is a much harder sense to quantify. One of the subjective senses wrapped up in our sense of well-being is a sense of permanence. Humans can’t achieve homeostasis without feeling like they have something or somewhere they call home. Even nomadic tribes who follow the hunt have temporary places they call home to fulfill the overwhelming sense of needing permanence. So I ask again, what value can we set on the feeling of permanence?
April 20th, 1841, most of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles were currently anchored just outside Liverpool awaiting their passage to the America. They left behind Parley P. Pratt and Orson Hyde to run the Millennial Star periodical and continue his mission to the holy land respectively. On board the ship, Rochester, Bloody Brigham Young and Heber Creeper Kimball were the directing agents of over 100 converts who were just beginning their emigration to join the Saints in Nauvoo.
This was not the first group of European immigrants to make their way to America because of Mormonism, but this small group was tantamount to Bloody Brigham presenting Jo with a few pelts to prove he’d done what he set out to do. It would be another 2.5 months before Brigham and the rest of the quorum made their way back to Nauvoo where they received a much-deserved glowing reception from the prophet.
Before discussing the transoceanic voyage of the twelve and the accompanying 130 immigrants, we have some business to take care of, Wilford Woodruff. Woodruff would eventually become the prophet who outlawed polygamy in the Utah years and he’s been a member of our timeline for quite sometime without becoming terrible distinguished. As the Nauvoo years progress, Woodruff will become increasingly more important to us and is deserving of his very own NaMo Nickname. As per the rules of our Nickname game, I propose a few terrible possible names, you guys vote on twitter or facebook at Naked Mormonism, and I arbitrarily pick a winner from the entries. Last week’s winner came in on twitter under the name TakinHayekSeriously @FriedrichHayek who proposed Willy Goat Woodruff followed up by “Look at the beard”. I couldn’t help but chuckle so that’s definitely our winner for Wilford Woodruff’s NaMo nickname, Willy Goat Woodruff. Be sure to give @FriedrichHayek a follow.
This week’s proposal comes for another increasingly prominent figure in Mormon history, and you’ll soon see why we’re working with this guy when we get into the history. Willard Richards was born Hopkinton Massachusetts on 24 June 1804. He suffered a childhood brain trauma and would endure tremors and partial paralysis for the rest of his life from the injury. He would come to use his cane in his later years prior to his death in 1854 out of necessity. Willard Richards became educated at a young age and began teaching school at the age of 16. At the age of thirty, his sister, Susan’s, death motivated him to go to medical school and become a physician. He became a Thompsonian botanical physician and later practiced as a general physician and midwife, but always stayed true to the curative powers of plants and herbs. How about Green-Thumb Willard for a NaMo nickname?
In 1836, Willard Richards was visited by his cousins Bloody Brigham and Joseph Young when they gave him a Book of Mormon. Richards reportedly read it twice in ten days and immediately packed up his things and moved to Kirtland. How about Richy the Book Worm?
He was baptized an ordained an elder rather quickly upon his arrival to Kirtland. He became a member of the travelling quorum of apostles in 1840 while on a mission trip to England. He had made it to England a couple years prior than the rest of the quorum where he met his wife, Janetta, and they had their first child. Willard Richards may actually mark the first Mormon missionary who met his wife on his mission, which actually tends to happen a lot. How about Investigateher Richards? See what I did there?
Alright there’s one more high point with Richards we’ll discuss before jumping into the history for today. Richards was the primary editor of the History of the Church published in the Deseret News throughout 1852. He worked in close concert with Brigham Young and Heber Kimball to scrub absolutely everything damning out of the history of the church and cobbling thousands of documents together to rewrite them in Joseph Smith’s first-person perspective. No other historical revisionist in all Mormon history had such a dramatic impact on how the public views the history of Mormonism than Willard Richards. Mormons today view the abstract picture of Mormon history painted by the painstaking hands of Willard Richards, how about Richard Van Gogh?
Yes those are terrible, but maybe something will come up today for us to get a proper NaMo nickname for Willard Richards. What do you think we should know him as? Green-Thumb Willard, Richy the Book Worm, Investigateher Richards or Richard Van Gogh? Or, maybe you have a much better name bouncing around your head for him, I’d love to hear it and for you to be next week’s NaMo nickname winner. Vote or propose your favorite nickname. Tweet @nakedmormonism with #NaMonickname or post on the facebook page or you can send in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll arbitrarily select my favorite just like with Willy Goat Wilford from @FriedrichHayek.
Let’s get into the historical timeline by picking up with the Quorum of the Twelve apostles. The voyage from Liverpool to New York was anything but smooth. The ship, Rochester, finally set sail on April 21st, 1841. Picking up from where we last left off in Bloody Brigham’s manuscript history, linked in the show notes:
“--21-- The wind is favorable; busily engaged nailing down and lashing our luggage to prepare for sea. The anchor weighed and sails spread at 12 m. We had a good breeze through the day, but nearly all the passengers were seasick and vomited at a dreadful rate. The Twelve and the Saints occupied the second cabin, other passengers occupied the steerage…
--22-- Many arose quite weak through vomiting and sickness. Pleasant morning; nearly out of sight of land; ten sail in sight. Elders Kimball and Woodruff assisted me in getting the sick passengers out of their berths to take the air. Elder Geo. [George] A. Smith was quite sick with a severe cough.
--25-- Sea mountains high; head wind; ship rocking and pitching; nearly all seasick.
--26-- We partook of a little food this morning, but were weak and feeble. We still have head winds and rough sea, though the sun shines. We met and prayed for the sick and they began to amend.
--27-- Still high wind; the sick somewhat better; the Twelve are generally well.
April 28.-- Strong head winds, which increased to a tempest. The sails were close reefed, the tempest raging furiously, sea running mountains high. We shipped heavy seas, and, while in the midst of this scenery, the cry of help was heard in our cabin; we rushed to the scene and found the ropes giving way and breaking which held about 40 tons of luggage, piled up between decks, consisting of heavy trunks, chests and barrels, which, if once liberated from their confinement, would with one surge be hurled with great force into the berths of men, women and children and would have endangered the lives of all.
On seeing the foundation of this mass giving way, Elders Richards, Woodruff, Pratt and others sprang to the place of danger and braced themselves against the baggage and held it for a few moments until we partially secured it, when the captain sent several sailors with ropes, who made the same fast and secure. When this was done, I repaired to the aft quarter deck with Brothers Kimball, Richards, Woodruff and Smith and gazed upon the grandeur of the raging tempest and the movements of the ship for a short time. We all went below, except Elders Woodruff and Richards, who remained until a heavy sea broke over the quarter deck, which thoroughly drenched Brother Woodruff; Brother Richards was partially saved by throwing himself under the bulwarks; they then thought it best to leave, and followed our example by coming below. We did not sleep much during the night, for boxes, barrels and tins were tumbling from one end of the cabin to the other, and in the steerage 15 berths were thrown down, nine at one surge, all the men, women and children thrown together in a pile; but no lives were lost nor bones broken.
--29-- The gale has ceased; sea rough; sun shines pleasantly; a fair wind for the first time since the day of sailing. We are sailing ten knots an hour; nearly all had a good night's rest; I was very sick and distressed in my head and stomach.
--30-- Fine breeze; sailing ten knots an hour; fears entertained that the ship was on fire, as smoke arose, but it was found to come from the cook's galley. Brother Woodruff, in the morning, was requested to carry the dishes to the cook for washing; he got his hands full of dishes of various kinds, and, as he stepped to the door of the galley, the ship gave a dreadful lurch and rocked until her studding sails reached the water; this unexpected heave plunged Brother Woodruff head foremost about ten feet, the whole width of the galley. The cook, in trying to save him, fell on the top of him. As this was his first introduction to the galley since he had been at sea, he begged the cook's pardon for such an abrupt entrance and withdrew, leaving the cook with three smashed fingers to pick up his dishes at leisure, they being scattered from one end of the galley to the other. When the cook saw me, he beseeched me very earnestly, whoever I sent to the galley, for mercy's sake never send Mr. Woodruff again, as he came nigh getting killed by him.
--17-- Strong head winds; we came in view of Long Island, 3 p.m. took a pilot on board at 4, who informed us that they had not heard from the Oxford, nor any ship which left Liverpool at the time we did, nor for several days before; he also informed us that no word had been heard of the steamship President; all expected she was lost.
--18-- Strong northwest wind; sailing nine knots an hour. We heard of the death of General Harrison, President of the United States.
--19-- While passing through Sandy Hook we ran into a fishing smack, came near sinking her with all on board. We had a head wind and could not run into the dock; cast anchor at 11 a.m. at the quarantine ground. A steamer came down to get the latest Liverpool news. An editor, who came on board, paid the steamer $45 to bring him out to the ship to get the latest news.
--20-- Warm, pleasant weather. We commenced early in the morning to get our luggage on deck. There was a fight between the carpenter and second mate, which was ended by the first mate striking the carpenter with a junk bottle, and as he went to strike the second blow, I caught his arm and prevented him.
Two quarantine lighters came alongside the Rochester and took all the passengers and baggage to the Custom House, where we had to unload all the baggage, which was inspected by the officers, after which we reloaded on board the lighters, which took us to New York City.
When we arrived at the docks, we found them covered with horses and drays and a great crowd of draymen and pickpockets, who stood ready to leap on board and devour all our baggage, and, because we were unwilling to be robbed and felt disposed to do our own business without being forced to measures by draymen, they cursed and swore at a dreadful rate, and acted more like savages than civilized men; but, after much difficulty, we got our goods out of the lighters and loaded on drays, and had to keep constant guard over them to keep them from being stolen. Many attempts were made to steal our baggage. I collared some of the thieves, and threatened to throw them overboard if they would not let it alone, I was under the necessity of striking their fingers to keep them from carrying off the trunks they laid hold of.
We were until ten o'clock at night getting from the docks to an inn. We were all very much fatigued, for we had been constantly handling boxes, chests, barrels and trunks from sunrise till ten p.m. without eating or drinking. We took supper about midnight and laid down to rest at the Battery Pavilion.
--21-- Brother Kimball, O. [Orson] Pratt and myself took lodgings at the house of Elder Adams.”
Finally on May 21, 1841 the majority of the Q12 had landed back stateside and were continuing their journey towards the promised land of Nauvoo.
The rest of April 1841 was busy as ever for the church and its leadership back at HQ in Nauvoo. They had received letters from the Quorum telling of their speedy return which came in the midst of a bustling town of vigorous construction and excitement.
But let’s walk it back for just a second; 1840 was a weird year for the Mormons. They’d just spent a year building themselves up in Missouri over 1838, but were kicked out after having spent less than one calendar year fabricating a lifestyle for themselves. 1839 was a year ravaged by sickness and starvation with the Saints building makeshift lean-tos or living out of their wagons as they frequently moved around all the land being purchased by Jo and the church, searching for a permanent homestead. 1840, however, was the year when the Mormons were uncertain of whether or not the state of Illinois would treat them as the state of Missouri had.
Could they finally settle and put down roots in Illinois and Iowa along the Mississippi, or were the damned mobocrats going to chase them further west? If they were going to be chased out again, was it even worth it to go to all the work of rebuilding and planting crops if they won’t be staying there? These unanswerable questions plagued the Mormons and made settling a high-risk gamble for any Mormon who was simply following the prophet. 1841, however, was different.
1841 was the first year the Mormons had any sense of permanence since being driven from Kirtland over 3 years prior. With the passing of the Nauvoo charter, annexing of multiple territories made safe to settle for the saints, conversion of Illinois state officials, and the blessing of dozens of politicians, it finally seemed like the Mormons would have a safe place to call home. Spring of 1841 marks an incredible shift in the actions of the Mormons as they would really begin settling and building in earnest when they’d been apprehensive and gunshy prior to 1841.
With the renewed zeal and confidence exhibited by the leadership during the April 1841 general conference, the rest of the Saints were signaled that it was finally safe to call Nauvoo home. The Mormons’ collective sense of well-being with this newfound feeling of permanence caused a powerful upheaval and renewed vigor for proposed projects handed down from on high.
When you live in the hometown of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and hundreds of other tech startup companies, your friends tend to be software developers. A common theme in so many conversations about my friends’ projects is that the public face of any tech or internet company is completely different than what’s really going on behind the scenes. Regardless of how shiny, beautiful, or convenient your favorite app or website is, it’s incredibly likely that all the code behind the user interface is inches away from being constantly on fire. That’s how the Mormons operated. On the public face, everything looked good, but behind closed doors in the actual meetings of the elites, nothing was okay and chaos was the only ruling principle. But, this trouble was only perceived by those who were dealing with it constantly, the wider public was completely unaware and even the majority of the Mormons were just following the prophet with absolutely no idea how close to anarchy Nauvoo really was.
While the average Mormon shared this 1841 reinvigoration with their fellow brothers in the covenant, the leadership, who knew what everything underneath the beautified streets of Nauvoo actually looked like, was trying their level best to insulate the average Mormon while keeping things at a smooth rolling boil without exploding and being consumed. But, the leadership was effective at hiding the chaos. They’d been able to create a city for the Mormons, and more importantly, the leadership had been able to foster that invaluable sense of permanence and well-being the Mormons had so desperately been lacking for the past 3 years.
As this illusion of security and permanence slowly infected the saints, Jo and the elite leveraged the illusion to accomplish the necessary tasks in building up Nauvoo. First on the docket for the remainder of April 1841 was to properly organize the Nauvoo Legion. The Legion was present during the April 6th temple dedication ceremony, but that was just a bunch of dudes standing in uniformed battle lines holding guns, now Jo and John Wreck-it Bennett had to properly organize the Legion with legitimate military ranks.
From the Dan Vogel HoC 4:350
“The first regiment, first cohort of the Nauvoo Legion was organized, and Captain George Miller was elected colonel; Captain Stephen Markham, lieutenant-colonel, and Captain William Wightman, major of the same, consisting of four companies.
Also the second regiment, second cohort was organized, and Captain Francis M. Higbee was elected colonel; Captain Nelson Higgins, lieutenant-colonel, and Aaron H. Golden, major, consisting of four companies.”
And just like that the Nauvoo Legion was organized into legitimate companies with captains, and colonels consisting purely of trusted Mormon elites. Now this rag-tag group of disorganized guys with guns could finally run drills and march in command lines with Jo and Wreck-it Bennett wielding jewel-laden swords of curious workmanship at the head of the army. They decided to run drills on July 3rd 1841 with this letter dated May 4, 1841.
“General Orders.—Pursuant to an act of the Court Martial, the troops attached or belonging to the Legion will parade at the place of general rendezvous, in the city of Nauvoo, for drill, review, and inspection, on Saturday, the 3rd day of July, at half-past nine o’clock, a.m., armed and equipped according to law. At 10 o’clock the line will be formed, and the general companies, 2nd battalion, 1st regiment, 2nd cohort, are directed to enroll every man residing within the bounds of their respective commands, and not attached to any other company of the Legion, between the ages of 18 and 45 years, and notify them of their attachment to the service, and their legal liabilities.”
This notice was circulated in the Times and Seasons in the mid-May edition for all Mormons to see. But, gentiles could see it as well. This, along with previous sentiments, made service in the Nauvoo Legion compulsory for Mormon men between 18 and 45, and it was the responsibility of the various Colonels to make sure every able-bodied man within that age range was fulfilling their duties.
Let’s be clear, one solid criticism of the Nauvoo Legion was that it was made up solely of Nauvoo residents which, in 1841, were almost exclusively Mormons. It was also commanded by the Mormon Elite with Jo doubling as prophet of the religion and commander-in-chief of the Legion. This criticism was noticed by many and a public declaration was required to allay concerns that the Mormons had formed a state-sanctioned religious mafia.
Vogel HoC 4:352
“The Legion is not, as has been falsely represented by its enemies, exclusively a Mormon Military Association, but a body of citizen soldiers organized (without regard to political preferences or religious sentiments) for the public defense, the general good, and the preservation of law and order,--to save the innocent, unoffending citizens from the iron grasp of the oppressor, and perpetuate and sustain our free institutions against misrule, anarchy, and mob violence—no other views are entertained or tolerated. The general parades of the Legion will be in the city of Nauvoo, but all other musters will be within the bounds of the respective companies, battalions, regiments, and cohorts.”
This may have been Nauvoo Legion policy, but it didn’t play out in practice. The Nauvoo Legion was comprised entirely of Mormon men at this time and would remain so nearly without exception for the rest of its existence in Illinois.
Another fascinating addendum to these new movements with the Nauvoo Legion was a promotion of General John C. Wreck-it Bennett to Nauvoo’s Master in Chancery. I had to look this up because it was a government position completely unfamiliar to me. Turns out it was abolished in 1897 in lieu of the title Master of the Supreme Court of a given jurisdiction.
Here’s the definition of Master in Chancery from uslegal.com:
“Master in chancery is an officer appointed by a court of equity to assist the court. Generally, master in chancery is a senior official or clerk of a court of chancery who assists the Chancellor in various duties such as inquiring into matters referred by the court, examining cases, taking oaths and affidavits, hearing testimony, and computing damages. The office of master in chancery was abolished in 1897 and was replaced by the office of Master of the Supreme Court.”
Rack up one more hat in Wreck-it Bennett’s professional closet. Not only was Bennett Jo’s 2nd closest advisor at this time behind Hyrum Sidekick-Abiff Smith, but he was still Quartermaster General of Illinois, Mayor of Nauvoo, general of the Nauvoo Legion, and now, in May 1841, he directs what cases the courts of Nauvoo will hear, and, more importantly, what cases they’ll refuse to grant certiorari.
There was no separation of church and state in Nauvoo. The church was the government and the same people who ran the church ran Nauvoo, they were one-in-the-same. Bennett’s appointment to this office was overseen by Judge Stephen A. Douglas, friendly to the Mormons but not a Mormon. This is the same Stephen Douglas who ran against Abraham Lincoln for the presidency. His friendly stance towards the Mormons was political capital at this time, but would serve to be his primary political liability at a later time.
People in surrounding areas noticed Douglas’ appointment of Wreck-it Bennett, a man with a sordid personal history. Most notably, ThomAss Coke Sharp, writer and editor of the Warsaw Signal a day’s journey south of Nauvoo wrote about the appointment and recent political movements of the Mormon church. In the May 19, 1841 publication of the Warsaw Signal we find this gem:
We have no disposition to complain of the official acts of Judge Douglass, for whom, as a man and an officer, we maintain the highest regard, but there is one act of his which receives our unqualified disapprobation; and we speak advisedly when we say that it is frowned on with indignity by nine-tenths of the substantial citizens of the county -- we speak of the appointment of Gen. BENNETT to be Master in Chancery. Whether from political motives or personal regard, it is certainly an act that has astonished the members of both parties, by its indiscretion. Bennett has but recently become an inhabitant of this state. He came here followed by evil report-he joins a sect and advocates a creed in which no one believes he has any faith -- his true character is not known to our citizens, nor have they any confidence in him -- under such circumstances we believe, and we are not alone in this belief, that Judge Douglass has committed an error in countenancing and encouraging such a man by the gift of a responsible office -- an office involving the rights, and in certain instances the liberties of freemen. We, for one, say, let the citizens of this county remonstrate against the appointment.”
From later in the same publication under the heading of “MORMONS”
“While on the subject, however, we will notice an accusation which has been made against us -- that of having, for political effect, flattered the Mormons. This is not true. -- We have occasionally noticed their doings, but not with any such design. We believe they have the same rights as other religious bodies possess, and ought to be protected in the just and proper exercise of those rights. We do not believe in persecution for opinion's sake. But whenever they as a people, step beyond the proper sphere of a religious denomination, and become a political body, as many of our citizens are beginning to apprehend will be the case -- then this press stands pledged to take a stand against them. On religious questions it is and shall remain neutral -- but it is bound to oppose the concentration of political power in a religious body, or in the hands of a few individuals.
We say, then, that while ever the inordinate power which the Prophet and the leaders of the Church possess over their people, is confined within its legitimate boundaries, we are content; but when it comes to be exercised or attempted beyond this, we will be ready to take as decided a stand as any one in opposing them.”
Jo was livid by ThomAss Sharp’s pointed remarks and published the following in the next edition of the Times & Seasons in response to the Warsaw Signal:
“We can hardly find language to express our surprise and disapprobation
at the conduct of the Editor of the “Signal” as manifested in that paper
of the 19th inst. We had fondly hoped that the sentiments
there expressed, would never have dared to be uttered by any individual,
in the community in which we reside, whose friendship we esteem, and
whose virtuous and honorable conduct, have secured them the approval of
every patriotic and benevolent mind. We are, however, anxious to know
the real feelings of individuals, and are glad that the latent feelings
of the Editor of the Signal, have at last, manifested themselves,
clearly and distinctly.
And, we would ask the Editor of the Signal, what is the cause of his hostility—of this sudden and unexpected ebullition of feeling—this spirit of opposition and animosity? Whose rights have been trampled upon? Whose peace have we disturbed? General Bennett has been appointed Master in Chancery, by Judge Douglass, and General Bennett is a Mormon! This is the atrocious act—this is the cause of the Editor’s vile vituperation. It will not require the gift of discernment to tell what spirit the Editor was possessed of, when he wrote the following:--
Quotes from Warsaw Signal passage we previously read… Goes on to say:
It is obvious, that the intention is to make the community believe, that General Bennett is a mere rengado—hypocrite—and all that is base in humanity. But General Bennett’s character as a gentleman, an officer, a scholar, and physician stands too high to need defending by us, suffice it to say, that he is in the confidence of the Executive, holds the office of Quarter Master General of this state, and is well known to a large number of persons of the first respectability throughout the state. He has, likewise, been favorably known for upwards of eight years by some of the authorities of the church, and has resided three years in this state. But being a Mormon, his virtues are construed into defects, and is thought a proper object of the base, cowardly, and ungentlemanly attack of the Editor of the “Signal.”…
The Editor, then, after stating that it is not his intention to interfere in our religious concerns, says “But whenever they as a people, step beyond the proper sphere of a religious denomination, and become a political body as many citizens are beginning to apprehend will be the case, then this press stands pledged to take a stand against them.” Terrible annunciation!—What! The Editor of the “Signal,” concentrate all his mighty energies against us! Alarming!! O ye free and independent citizens of Hancock County, whose misfortune it is to be associated with the church of Latter Day Saints, be careful how you used your elective franchise, do not concentrate on any one individual, particularly if opposed to the “Signal,” for if you do, depend upon it, that an engine, more terrible than that which the ancient Romans used to bring down the walls of mighty cities, will be pointed at you, and play upon you with terrible destruction. Hear and take warning for “this press stands pledged to take a stand against them”!!...
The more we reflect on the subject, the more we are satisfied of the
baseness of the motives which have induced the Editor to make an attack
upon this community; a community that has never done him any harm, but
ever treated him with hospitality and kindness.
His conduct must sink him in the estimation of all those who love the prosperity of this county and state, and who are possessed of those high toned feelings of republicanism, which animated the bosom of their ancestors; and which are the pride of Americans.”
As Jo had been a subscriber to the Warsaw Signal prior to this publication until ThomAss Sharp had published the article about Wreck-it Bennett, he didn’t feel it any longer necessary to subscribe and sent this to ThomAss Sharp in response to Sharp’s pointed criticisms. The disgust is palpable:
“NAUVOO, Ill., May 26, 1841.
Mr. Sharp, Editor of the Warsaw Signal:
SIR: -- You will discontinue my paper; its contents are calculated to
pollute me. And to patronize that filthy sheet, that tissue of lies,
that sink of iniquity, is disgraceful to any moral man. Yours with
P. S. -- Please publish the above in your contemptible paper.
Sharp fired back by publishing the note and calling for Jo’s lapsed subscription charges of $3.00:
“Now, as one good turn deserves another, we annex below, for the benefit of the aforesaid Prophet, a revelation from our books, in this wise
Warsaw, ILL., June 2, 1841.
JOSEPH SMITH, Prophet, &c., &c.
To Sharp & Gamble, DR.
To one year's subscription to Western World, $3.00.
Come, Josey, fork over, and for mercy's sake don't get a revelation that it is not to be paid. For if thou dost, we will send a prophet after thee mightier than thou.”
Few journalists match the grade A premium all-American snark of ThomAss Sharp. May of 1841 can be captured quite well in this single correspondence between the Times and Seasons and ThoAss Sharp’s Warsaw Signal. Jo was moving his political pawns into position, drawing up the blueprints for Talos, laying the groundwork for an empire within an empire, and amassing allies all along the way.
Let’s consider who it was that was sitting atop this massive empire. Jo was a criminal. He’d been sued out of Kirtland for failing to pay his bills and the majority of the church’s assets in Ohio had been seized by creditors or the government after the KSS company failed. Jo had absconded with hundreds of people’s money to Missouri where he’d racked up a respectable rap sheet. Respectable or contemptable, depending on which side of the conflict you found yourself. The Mormon war in Missouri had ended with Jo and his acolytes being arrested and interred for a period of 5 months. That jail sentence ended when Jo petitioned to move the hearing to another location and he bought off the constables with whiskey and they let him escape. Jo was being held at that time under charges of high treason among other things and he escaped prison.
It’s not like Illinois was on a different continent. It wasn’t Illinois on Mars, he was only a few hundred miles in multiple directions from people who hated him and wanted him arrested or dead. Jo’s actions in Kirtland was a barn fire, what he did in Missouri was an entire field consumed in flames. The government had brought the blaze under control, but there were still pockets smoldering and the air was filled with embers. Now, in Illinois, those same trends and forces which cultivated controllable fires in Ohio and Missouri were stronger than ever and the embers drifting from Missouri were starting to land on religious kindling and smoke a little bit. People who’d been burned before couldn’t help but notice that if a real fire caught enough fuel in Illinois, it could consume the whole nation. Enough embers will draw a crowd of people trying to put it out.
The Missouri government finally had a fix on Jo. They knew where he was, they knew where he spent most of his time, they knew the people with whom he associated, they saw this back and forth between Jo and ThomAss Sharp and knew he couldn’t get far from Nauvoo once they decided to move. The Missouri state government had unfinished business when it came to Jo and the Mormons. The sense of security and well-being the Mormons had in Spring 1841 held on by a thin and very frayed thread.
Vogel HoC 4:364
Friday June 4, 1841….
I called on Governor Carlin at his residence in Quincy. During my visit with the Governor, I was treated with the greatest kindness and respect; nothing was said about any requisition having come from the Governor of Missouri for my arrest. In a very few hours after I had left the Governor’s residence, he sent Thomas King, sheriff of Adams County, Thomas Jasper, a constable of Quincy, and some others, as a posse, with an officer from Missouri, to arrest me and deliver me up to the authorities of Missouri.
Saturday June 5.—As I was on my return from Quincy, to which place I had accompanied Presidents Hyrum Smith and William Law, on their mission to the East, I was arrested at the Bear Creek Hotel, by two officers of Justice, on a warrant from Governor Carlin, to deliver me up to the authorities of Missouri”
Any feeling of permanence or well-being the Mormons felt about their settlement and livelihood was immediately shattered. Jo and the Mormons had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and millions of man-hours to construct Nauvoo, lay the cornerstones of the temple, and form their own militia. They’d done everything right this time to escape persecution from the government, but the skeletons from Jo’s past in Missouri rose from the grave to ensnare him physically and destroy him spiritually. The increasingly fickle sense of permanence tacitly implied that the Mormons would be staying in Nauvoo for years, but just as that sense was starting to feel fulfilled, it was once again shattered by perceived government persecution. Jo was a criminal. Jo was a prophet of the Lord. Whichever side of the conflict you found yourself, the Mormons were the ones who suffered for the bad decisions of the leadership. Jo being arrested and taken into the custody of a Missouri government official. The nightmare was on repeat. Would the Mormons be chased out of Illinois now? Would Jo even make it to Richmond, Missouri for the trial the government had waiting for him, or would he be swarmed and killed by angry mobs as soon as he step foot inside the state line? Or, would Jo find some clever way to get out of this sticky wicket like he had every other time in his life?
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Joe Geisner NaMoHE
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In Mormonism, we’re taught everything we need to pass on to our children to raise them to be productive members of the church and society at large. But what about when we leave the church? Where do we turn when we don’t have a religion to raise up children in, and how do we foster a love for a life without religion and God in the minds of our progenitors? Our guest today has made an attempt at instilling a love of science and skepticism through the medium of children’s science books. He’s the author of the children book series Annabelle & Aiden and he’s here with us on the line, please welcome J. R. Becker.
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