Ep 131 – BM Pt. 7 A Corny Escape
On this episode, Joseph Smith is still a fugitive! He opines on relationships had and lost, loved and dead family members, and reflects on how important his friends are. Emma Smith and Eliza Snow pen letters back and forth with Governor Thomas Carlin. The brethren create a propaganda packet for neutralizing the fallout from the Bennett Meltdown. Then, a couple of public appearances lead the Sheriff and his posse right to the prophet when his guard is down.
Eliza R. Snow Poetic Lexicon
Habeas Corpus Protection of Joseph Smith
Manuscript History of Brigham Young
Music by Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.com/
Show Artwork http://weirdmormonshit.com/
Legal Counsel http://patorrez.com/
To President Joseph Smith
and His Lady Presidentess Emma Smith
Since by chance, the “key bump” has been added to you
With its proper enlargement of brain;
Let me hope all the thunderbolts malice may strew,
Will excite in your bosom, no pain.
But I think if an angel were station’d in air, 5
For a season, just over our heads,
With a view of things passing; his optics would stare
To behold the vague scenery that spreads.
He’d be apt to conclude, from the medley of things:
We’ve got into a jumble of late— 10
A deep intricate puzzle, a tangle of strings,
That no possible scheme can make straight.
Tell me, what will it be, and O, where will it end?
Say, if you have permission to tell:
Is there any fixed point unto which prospects tend? 15
Does a focus belong to pell-mell?
From the midst of confusion can harmony flow?
Or can peace from distraction come forth?
From out of corruption, integrity grow?
Or can vice unto virtue give birth? 20
Will the righteous come forth with their garments unstained?
With their hearts unpolluted with sin?
O yes; Zion, thy honor will still be sustained,
And the glory of God usher’d in.
published in The Wasp, 20 August 1842
Jo is still in hiding. He’s a fugitive, wanted in two states and the Iowa territory. The Mormons are terrified and don’t know where their leader is, he’s been missing for nearly 3 weeks. Only some of the thinking few Mormon elites know he’s still in town, beyond that only rumors are spreading as to his whereabouts. The Mormon movement had cultivated a following of people relying on the presence of a charismatic leader to hang on his every word. Without that leader, who would such a confused and deluded sect follow? Jo needed to reestablish his presence in the Mormon community to let the Mormons know he’s still their leader but he just can’t be seen right now. A few pieces needed to fall into place before it was safe to show his face in the community again.
JS journal, linked in the show notes from JSP
August 23, 1842
In the P.M. president Joseph received a few lines from sister Emma informing him that she would expect him home this evening believing that she could take care of him better at home than elsewhere. Accordingly soon after dark he started for home and arrived safe without being noticed by any person. All is quiet in the city.
Jo remained in hiding for some time. He did take time to ponder on his situation and what made him truly happy while he remained secluded. He reflects on the love exhibited by his closest loved ones and how much he relied on their love to help him through these troubles he’d brought upon himself.
How good and glorious it has seemed to me, to find pure and holy friends, who are faithful, just and true, and whose hearts fail not; and whose knees are confirmed and do not falter, while they wait upon the Lord, in administering to my necessities, in the day when the wrath of mine enemies was poured out upon me.
How glorious were my feelings when I met that faithful and friendly band,… on the island at the mouth of the slough, between Zarahemla and Nauvoo: what unspeakable delight, and what transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand, on that night, my beloved Emma, she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth, and the choice of my heart. Many were the reverberations of my mind when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through, the fatigues and the toils, the sorrows and sufferings, and the joys and consolations from time to time which had strewed our paths and crowned our board. Oh what a commingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here, even in the seventh trouble—undaunted, firm and unwavering, unchangeable affectionate Emma.
There was brother Hyrum who next took me by the hand, a natural brother, thought I to myself brother Hyrum, what a faithful heart you have got, Oh may the eternal Jehovah crown eternal blessings upon your head as a reward for the care you have had for my soul. O how many are the sorrows we have shared together, and again we find ourselves shackled with the unrelenting hand of oppression. Hyrum thy name shall be written in the book of the law of the Lord, for those who come after thee to look upon, that they may pattern after thy works.
Said I to myself here is brother Newel K. Whitney also, how many scenes of sorrow have strewed our paths together; and yet we met once more to share again. Thou art a faithful friend in whom the afflicted sons of men can confide, with the most perfect safety. Let the blessings of the Eternal also be crowned upon his head; how warm that heart! How anxious that soul! For the welfare of one who has been cast out, and hated of almost all men. Brother Whitney thou knowest not how strong those ties are, that bind my soul and heart to thee.
My heart was overjoyed as I took the faithful band by the hand, that stood upon the shore, one by one, William Law, William Clayton, Dimick B. Huntington, George Miller were there…
I do not think to mention the particulars of the history of that sacred night, which shall forever be remembered by me, but the names of the faithful are what I wish to record in this place. These I have met in prosperity and they were my friends, I now meet them in adversity and they are still my warmer friends. These love the God that I serve; they love the truths that I promulgate; they love those virtuous, and those holy doctrines that I cherish in my bosom with the warmest feelings of my heart, and with that zeal which cannot be denied…
They complained not at hardship and fatigue to secure my safety, my heart would have been harder than an adamantine stone, if I had not have prayed for them with anxious and fervent desire. I did so, and the still small voice whispered to my soul, these that share your toils with such faithful harts, shall reign with you in the kingdom of their God; but I parted with them in silence and came to my retreat… They shall not want a friend while I live, my heart shall love those, and my hands shall toil for those, who love and toil for me, and shall ever be found faithful to my friends. Shall I be ungrateful? Verily no! God forbid!
As I said a few episodes ago, I love it when Jo is in hiding because it forces him to sit and write his own thoughts. It gives us a window into his humanity. He’s not a stoic pious figure of stalwart righteousness, he’s a human being with misgivings who frequently makes mistakes. Passages like that previous one and this following passage really humanize a somewhat enigmatic figure who’s been coopted by historians and apologists for well over a century to fit into their models. I simply like to let Jo speak for himself.
While I contemplate the virtues and the good qualifications and characterestics of the faithful few, which I am now recording in the Book of the Law of the Lord, of such as have stood by me in every hour of peril, for these fifteen long years past; say for instance; my aged and beloved brother Joseph Knights [Knight] Senr, who was among the number of the first to administer to my necessities, while I was laboring, in the commencement of the bringing forth of the work of the Lord, and of laying the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: for fifteen years has he been faithful and true, and even handed, and exemplary and virtuous, and kind; never deviating to the right hand nor to the left. Behold he is a righteous man. May God Almighty lengthen out the old mans days; and may his trembling, tortured and broken body be renewed, and the vigor of health turn upon him; if it can be thy will, consistently, O God; and it shall be said of him by the sons of Zion, while there is one of them remaining; that this man, was a faithful man in Israel; therefore his name shall never be forgotten. There is his son Newel Knight and Joseph Knight [Jr.] whose names I record in the Book of the Law of the Lord, with unspeakable delight, for they are my friends… But there is one man I would mention namely [Orrin] Porter Rockwell, who is now a fellow-wanderer with myself— an exile from his home because of the murderous deeds and infernal fiendish disposition of the indefatigable and unrelenting hand of the Missourians. He is an innocent and a noble boy; may God Almighty deliver him from the hands of his pursuers. He was an innocent and a noble child, and my soul loves him; Let this be recorded for ever and ever. Let the blessings of Salvation and honor be his portion… And since I have been hunted by the Missourians many are the scenes which have been called to my mind. Many thoughts have rolled through my head, and across my breast. I have remembered the scenes of my child-hood I have thought of my father who is dead; who died by disease which was brought upon him through suffering by the hands of ruthless mobs. He was a great and a good man. The envy of knaves and fools was heaped upon him, and this was his lot and portion all the days of his life. He was of noble stature, and possessed a high, and holy, and exalted, and a virtuous mind. His soul soared above all those mean and grovelling principles that are so subsequent to the human heart. I now say, that he never did a mean act that might be said was ungenerous, in his life, to my knowledge. I loved my father and his memory; and the memory of his noble deeds, rest with ponderous weight upon my mind; and many of his kind and parental words to me, are written on the tablet of my heart… With him may I reign one day, in the mansions above; and tune up the Lyre of Anthems, of the eternal Jove. May the God that I love look down from above, and save me from my enemies here, and take me by the hand; that on Mount Zion I may stand and with my father crown me eternally there. Words and language, is inadequate to express the gratitude that I owe to God for having given me so honorable a parentage. My mother also is one of the noblest, and the best of all women. May God grant to prolong her days, and mine; that we may live to enjoy each others society long yet in the enjoyment of liberty, and to breath the free air. Alvin my oldest brother, I remember well the pangs of sorrow that swelled my youthful bosom and almost burst my aching <tender> heart, when he died. He was the oldest, and the noblest of my fathers family. He was one of the noblest of the sons of men: Shall his name not be recorded in this Book? Yes, Alvin; let it be had here, and be handed down upon these sacred pages, forever and ever. In him there was no guile. He lived without spot from the time he was a child. From the time of his birth, he never knew mirth. He was candid and sober and never would play; and minded his father, and mother, in toiling all day. He was one of the soberest of men and when he died the Angel of the Lord visited him in his last moments. These childish lines I record in remembrance of my child-hood scenes. My Brother Don Carloss [Don Carlos] Smith, whose name I desire to record also, was a noble boy. I never knew any fault in him. I never saw the first immoral act; or the first irreligious, or ignoble disposition in the child. From the time that he was born, till the time of his death; he was a lovely, a good natured, and a kind-hearted, and a virtuous and a faithful upright child. And where his soul goes let mine go also. He lays by the side of my father. Let my father, Don Carlos, and Alvin, and children that I have buried be brought and laid in the Tomb I have built. Let my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters be laid there also; and let it be called the Tomb of Joseph, a descendant of Jacob; and when I die, let me be gathered to the Tomb of my father. There are many souls, whom I have loved stronger than death; to them I have proved faithful; to them I am determined to prove faithful, untill God calls me to resign up my breath. O, thou who seeeth, and knoweth the hearts of all men; thou eternal, omnipotent, omnicient, and omnipresent Jehovah, God; thou Eloheem, that sitteth, as sayeth the psalmist, enthroned in heaven; look down upon thy servant Joseph, at this time; and let faith on the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, to a greater degree than thy servant ever yet has enjoyed, be conferred upon him; even the faith of Elijah; and let the Lamp of eternal life, be lit up in his heart, never to be taken away; and let the words of eternal life, be poured upon the soul of thy servant; that he may know thy will, thy statutes, and thy commandments, and thy judgements to do them… O Lord God, my heavenly Father, shall it be in vain, that thy servant must needs be exiled from the midst of his friends; or be dragged from their bosoms, to clank in cold and iron chains; to be thrust within the dreary prison walls; to spend days of sorrow, and of grief and misery their [there], by the hand of an infuriated, insensed and infatuated foe; to glut their infernal and insatiable desire upon innocent blood; and for no other cause on the part of thy servant, than for the defence of innocence, and thou a just God will not hear his cry? O, no, thou wilt hear me; a child of woe, pertaining to this mortal life; because of sufferings here, but not for condemnation that shall come upon him in eternity; for thou knowest O God, the integrity of his heart. Thou hearest me, and I knew that thou wouldst hear me, and mine enemies shall not prevail; they all shall melt like wax before thy face; and as the mighty floods, and waters roar; so shall or as the billowing earth-quake’s, devouring gulf; or rolling Thunders loudest peal; or vivid, forked lightnings flash; or sound of the Arch-Angels trump; or voice of the Eternal God, shall the souls of my enemies be made to feel in an instant, suddenly; and shall be taken, and ensnared; and fall back-wards, and stumble in the ditch they have dug for my feet, and the feet of my friends; and perish in their own infamy and shame,— be thrust down to an eternal hell, for their murderous and hellish deeds.
This period of hiding was Joseph’s Gethsemane. Granted he wasn’t bleeding from every pore, and he was wishing death and eternal damnation on his enemies, just like Jesus, but you can hear the pain and sorrow in his voice. You can feel the love he feels for his closest friends and family members, living and deceased, and how he blesses them and records their names in the book of the Law of the Lord, so they may attain eternal glories and blessings for their love and devotion to the one true prophet.
What can’t escape mention is the victim narrative read in these passages. Jo was running from the law, he would be immediately arrested and extradited if he showed his face in any public setting, and Jo wasn’t much for spending time away from center stage.
Think about it from his perspective. Missouri wanted him for the assassination attempt of Lilburn Boggs. If he was innocent, this was completely unjustified and he’d already lost in the court of public opinion, which was the only court that mattered in the days of vigilante justice and lynch mobs.
However, if he did indeed send Pistol Packin’ Port to do the dastardly deed, Lilburn Boggs needed to suffer for what he subjected the Mormons to. He was merely exacting justified revenge for the Haun’s Mill massacre and the Mormon expulsion from the state when the federal Government refused to remunerate the Mormons for the troubles they’d suffered. Now, after a just murder attempt, the governments of 2 states and a territory were trying to killing him unjustly.
Always remember, most people don’t see themselves as the bad guy, Jo was no different. He was the hero of his own narrative. Also, he loved drama. He loved when people said his name and he had a flair for showy demonstrations to excite the masses.
Besides, every day he’s gone from center stage allowed another day for somebody else to squeeze in and take some of the limelight. Brigham Young was standing nearest Jo throughout most of these trials and with the vacancy felt by his being in hiding, Bloody Brigham was able to be the public face of the church and made executive decisions, supposedly under the direction of Jo.
With the controversy surrounding Sarah Pratt, Orson Pratt, trusted Mormon elite since the earliest Kirtland days, member of the Quorum of Apostles, began to murmur. Per Brigham Young’s manuscript history:
Assisted by Elders H. [Heber] C. Kimball and Geo. [George] A. Smith, I spent several days laboring with Elder Orson Pratt, whose mind became so darkened by the influence and statements of his wife, that he came out in rebellion against Joseph, refusing to believe his testimony or obey his counsel. He said he would believe his wife in preference to the Prophet. Joseph told him if he did believe his wife and follow her suggestions, he would go to hell.
We reported to the Prophet that we had labored with Brother Orson [Pratt] diligently in a spirit of meekness, forbearance and long-suffering. He requested us to ordain Brother Amasa Lyman in Brother Orson's stead. After receiving these instructions, we met Brother Orson near my house, and continued to labor with him. He said to us, There is Brother Amasa Lyman in your house, Brother Young; he has been long in the ministry, go in and ordain him in my stead.
--20-- Brother Orson Pratt was cut off from the Church, and, according to the Prophet's direction, Brothers H. [Heber] C. Kimball, Geo. [George] A. Smith and I ordained Brother Amasa Lyman in his stead.
Pratt dared to believe the charges contained in Bennett’s scathing reports. Who knows what conversations were shared between Orson and his wife, Sarah, in the interim. Orson Brain-powered Pratt had ventured out of town the month prior and was feared by the brethren to have taken his own life as a result of the drama and controversy. It’s understandable, his wife and his name had been completely thrown under the bus by Jo and Wreck-it Bennett to score PR points against each other. Her well-being was never considered in what transpired, neither was Orson’s.
No tears could be shed, however, and Amasa Lyman was appointed and ordained to fill the vacancy left by Brother Orson Pratt for his dissenting murmurings against the prophet.
The brethren decided to convene in secret. Jo made his way to the upper floor of the red brick store near his home, closed the shades, and waited for the rest of the trusted thinking few elites to arrive. A coordinated campaign was needed to slay the horrific accusations coming from Bennett and the Sangamo Journal. It took them two days, Friday and Saturday the 26th and 27th of August 1842 to compile the affidavits.
In the evening in council with some of the Twelve and others, He gave some very important instructions upon the situation of matters, showing that it was necessary that the officers who could, should go abroad through the States; and inasmuch as a great excitement had been raised, through the community at large, by the falsehoods put in circulation by John C. Bennett and others it was wisdom in God that the Elders should go forth and deluge the States with a flood of truth;395 setting forth the mean, contemptible, persecuting conduct of ex-Governor [Lilburn W.] Boggs of Missouri and those connected with him in his mean, and corrupt proceedings in plain terms, so that the world might understand the abusive conduct of our enemies, and stamp it with indignation. He advised the Twelve to call a special conference on Monday next to give instructions to the Elders and call upon them to go forth upon this important mission, meantime, that all the affidavits concerning Bennett[‘]s conduct be taken and printed so that each Elder could be properly furnished with correct and weighty testimony to lay before the public.
Now the brethren were armed with a good set of propaganda materials, including what was canonized as D&C 101 before it was excised in 1876 from the Brighamite D&C, which was given in 1835 as rumors of polygamy were beginning to take hold in Kirtland. You can listen to episode 209 of My Book of Mormon podcast when Marie and I read through it. But the relevant part reads as follows:
Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband, neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband.
Armed with this propaganda, a mission was conceived and 380 elders embarked upon a propaganda campaign 2 days later. Continuing from the manuscript history of Bloody Brigham Young:
Met in the evening in council with the Prophet Joseph and some of the Twelve. We received much good instruction and counsel from Joseph, relative to the situation of the Church, and the policy to be pursued in sending many elders through the states to preach the gospel and disabuse the public mind in relation to the false statements of Dr. J. C. Bennett.
The Prophet also directed us to call a special conference on Monday next, and nominate the elders to go on this important mission, and give them their instructions; and that we should also get the affidavits against Dr. Bennett published, so that the elders might have authentic and strong testimony to lay before the public in relation to those matters.
While the brethren were compiling these packets for distribution, Emma and Eliza were busy in letter correspondence with Governor Thomas Carlin to try and clear Jo’s name. The last letter we read from Emma to Governor Carlin was an appeal on all fronts to excuse the prophet from any wrongdoing or false accusations that had been laid to his name. Carlin replied with an appeal to authority, saying that the charges against Jo concerning Lilburn Boggs’ assassination attempt were out of his hands.
It would be most gratifying to my feelings now, if due regard to public duty would enable me to furnish such a reply as would fully conform to your wishes; but my duty in reference to all demands made by Executives of other States, for the surrender of fugitives from justice, appears to be plain and simple; consisting entirely of an executive, and not a judicial character, leaving me no discretion or adjudication, as to the innocence, or guilt, of persons so demanded and charged with crime, and it is plain that the constitution and laws of the United States in refernce to fugitives from justice, presumes, and contemplates, that the laws of the several States, are ample to do justice to all who may be charged with crime, and the statute of this State simply requires, “That whenever the Executive of any other State, or of any Territory of the United States, shall demand the Executive of this State, any person as a fugitive from justice, and shall have complied with the requisitions of the Act of Congress in that case made and provided, it shall be the duty of the Executive of this State to issue his warrant under the seal of the State, to apprehend the said fugitive,” &c.
With the constitution and laws before me, my duty is so plainly marked out, that it would be impossible to err, so long as I abstain from usurping the right of adjudication; I am aware that a strict enforcement of the laws by an Executive or a rigid administration of them by a judicial tribunal, often results in hardships to those involved, and to you it doubtless appears to be peculiarly so, in the present case of Mr. Smith.
His hands were tied. He was ordered by the Governor of another state to deliver a fugitive in his state and the Illinois Constitution says plain and clear that he is forced to comply. Carlin concludes the letter telling Emma he knows everything he sends to her makes its way to Jo. He also talks about when Emma, Amanda Barnes and Eliza Snow met with him a month prior that when he said he “would not advise Mr. Smith ever to trust himself in Missouri” that what he really meant was to not trust himself to Missouri mobs, but instead to the officials of the government. Carlin claims that if Jo is truly innocent in the whole Boggs business that he’ll receive a quick acquittal and everything will be fine.
Emma, with Eliza Snow as scribe and likely Elizabeth Whitney as counselor, quickly penned a reply to Carlin with some sound arguments. However, the implied presumption of Jo’s innocence clouds the content of the arguments, considering he was the most likely suspect to be involved in the assassination attempt, even if he wasn’t in the state at the time.
I much regret your ill health, and still hope that you will avail yourself of sufficient time to investigate our cause, and thoroughly acquaint yourself with the illegality of the prosecution instituted against Mr. Smith. And I now certify that Mr. Smith, myself, nor any other person, to my knowledge, has ever, nor do we at this time wish your honor to swerve from you duty, as an Executive in the least.
Now she goes on to make a sound legal argument for simply letting Jo off the hook and ignoring the warrants sent from Governor Rylands of Missouri. These arguments, however, only work at the city level and are immediately superseded by the Illinois State Constitution and any declarations by Governor Carlin.
But we do believe that it is your duty to allow us in this place, the privileges and advantages guaranteed to us by the laws of this State, and the United States; this is all we ask, and if we can enjoy these rights unmolested, it will be the ultimate end of our ambition; and the result will be peace and prosperity to us, and all the surrounding country, so far as we are concerned. Nor do we wish to take any undue advantage of any intricate technicalities of law: but honorably and honestly to fulfil all of the laws of this State and of the United States, and then, in turn, to have the benefits resulting from an honorable execution of those laws…
Let me refer you to the eleventh section of our City Charter. “All power is granted to the City Council, to make, ordain, establish and execute all ordinances… as they may deem necessary for the peace and safety of said City.” Accordingly there is an ordinance passed by the city council to prevent our people from being carried off by an illegal process, and if any one thinks he is illegally seized, under this ordinance, he claims the right of Habeas Corpus, under section 17th of the charter, to try the question of identity, which is strictly constitutional…
With these considerations, and many more which might be adduced, give us the privilege, and we will show your Honor, and the world besides, if required, that the Mr. Smith referred to in the demand from Missouri, is not the Joseph Smith of Nauvoo, for he was not in Missouri; neither is he described in the writ according as the law requires; and that he is not a fugitive from justice. Why then be so strenuous to have my husband taken, when you know him to be innocent of an attempt on the life of Governor Boggs, and that he is not a fugitive from justice?
It is not the fear of a just decision against him, that deters Mr. Smith from going into Missouri, but it is an actual knowledge that it was never intended he should have a fair trial…
I admit, Sir, that it is next to an impossibility, for any one to know the extent of the tyranny, treachery, and knavery of a great portion of the leading characters of the State of Missouri; yet it only requires a knowledge of the Constitution of the United States and statutes of the State of Missouri, and a knowledge of the outrage committed by some of the inhabitants of that State upon the people called Mormons, and that passed unpunished by the administrators of the law; to know, that there is not the least confidence to be placed in any of those men that were engaged in those disgraceful transactions…
And now I entreat your honor to bear with me patiently while I ask what good can accrue to this State… or to yourself, or to any other individual, to continue this persecution upon this people, or upon Mr. Smith; a persecution that you are well aware, is entirely without any just foundation or excuse?
With sentiments of due respect, I am your most obedient servant,
Emma was a force to be contended with in Nauvoo. Her arguments were sound considering the provisions in the Nauvoo City Charter, but they fall apart at the state level when Governors are exchanging suspects in a high-profile assassination attempt who happens to be a fugitive in one of the states. This was over Emma’s paygrade, but it was over everybody’s paygrade who held any office in Nauvoo. States are supposed to be hotbeds of governmental experimentation, but that only works if the individual municipalities within the state grant full authority and fealty to the state government. The Mormons had no interest in state politics, especially when they threatened the life of their prophet. Emma, however, makes a solid case that there would be no fair trial in Missouri should Jo be extradited. Her pleading to Carlin to stop this sham of a legal feud was literally to save her husband’s life. We’ll see how this plays out, but the pressure must have felt like it was slightly relieved given what happened at the conference Jo called which happened 2 days after this letter was sent.
That next Monday’s special conference was a chance to test the waters. A large congregation of Mormons gathered in the grove near the temple and Hyrum Sidekick-Abiff Smith began with preaching. His message was largely the same as had been said so many times from the pulpit. Go out and preach the gospel, build churches, send your money to us so we can build the Nauvoo House and the temple. That way we can get our long-promised endowments and everything will be great tomorrow. However, there was one small detail in Hyrum’s speech that really stands out, and it has to do with tactics should the militia come into Nauvoo to arrest Joseph Smith by force. The tactics of real military gentlemen, you’ll see what I mean.
BG noise open field preaching with birds chirping and maybe some light breeze and a cow mooing once or twice
The people abroad had been excited by John C. Bennett’s false statements, and that letters had frequently been received inquiring concerning the true nature of said reports: in consequence of which it is thought wisdom in God, that every elder who can, should go forth to every part of the United States, and take proper documents with them, setting forth the truth as it is, and also preach the gospel, repentance, baptism, and salvation, and tarry preaching until they shall be called home. They must go wisely, humbly setting forth the truth as it is in God, and our persecutions, by which the tide of public opinion will be turned. There are many elders here doing little, and many people in the world who want to hear the truth. We want the official members to take their staff and go East (not West), and if a mob should come here, they will only have women and children to fight with. When you raise churches send the means you get to build the Temple, and get the people to take stock in the Nauvoo House. It is important that the Nauvoo House should be finished that we may have a suitable place wherein to entertain the great ones of the earth, and teach them the truth. We want the Temple built that we may offer our oblations, and where we can ask forgiveness of our sins every week, and forgive one another, and offer up our offering and get our endowment. The gospel will be turned from the Gentiles to the Jews. Sometime ago almost every person was ordained, the purpose was to have you tried and ready to receive your blessings. Every one is wanted to be ready in two or three days, and I expect there will be a liberal turn out.
After this speech, Hyrum started to sit down, undoubtedly to the downtrodden faces of many in the congregation. The prophet was nowhere to be seen, he’d been in hiding nearly a month and only the thinking few knew where he was. Only rumors would satisfy the congregation of Jo’s whereabouts. Was he west towards the Rockies like he always talked of doing? Was he hiding in the Iowa territory? Did he head east or make his way to Washington D.C. to meet with the president again to set everything straight? Had he completely abandoned the Mormons and fled to Europe? The whispers of these unconfirmed rumors only further subverted Jo’s authority in the minds of thousands of followers living in his kingdom on the Mississippi, but it brought to further life the persecution narrative in case any of the Mormons had forgotten the Missouri war and their removal from the state only 3 and a half years prior.
Then something remarkable happened…
Continuing bg open field preaching. Crowd noise w/gasps & applause/cheering when Jo takes the stand. Bg noise for entire speech
Near the close of Hyrum’s remarks I went upon the stand. I was rejoiced to look upon the saints once more, whom I have not seen for about three weeks. They also were rejoiced to see me, and we all rejoiced together. My sudden appearance on the stand under the circumstances which surrounded us, caused great animation and cheerfulness in the assembly. Some had supposed that I had gone to Washington, and some that I had gone to Europe, while some thought I was in the city; but whatever difference of opinion had prevailed on this point, we were now all filled with thanksgiving and rejoicing.
When Hyrum had done speaking I arose and congratulated the brethren and sisters on the victory I had once more gained over the Missourians. I had told them formerly about fighting the Missourians, and about fighting alone. I had not fought them with the sword, or by carnal weapons; I had done it by stratagem, by outwitting them, and there had been no lives lost, and there would be no lives lost if they would hearken to my counsel.
Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who abode by my counsel. At Hauns’ Mill the brethren went contrary to my counsel, if they had not, their lives would have been spared.
I had been in Nauvoo all the while, and outwitted Bennett’s associates, and attended to my own business in the city all the time. We want to whip the world mentally and they will whip themselves physically. The brethren cannot have the tricks played upon them that were done at Kirtland and Far West, they have seen enough of the tricks of their enemies and know better. Orson Pratt has attempted to destroy himself and caused all the city almost to go in search of him. Is it not enough to put down all the infernal influences of the devil, what we have felt and seen, handled and evidenced, of this work of God? But the devil had influence among the Jews after all the great things they had witnessed, to cause the death of Jesus Christ, by hanging him between heaven and earth.
O. Pratt and others of the same class caused trouble by telling stories to people who would betray me, and they must believe those stories because his Wife told him so! I will live to trample on their ashes with the soles of my feet. I prophecy in the name of Jesus Christ that such shall not prosper, they shall be cut down in their plans.
They would deliver me up Judas like, but a small band of us shall overcome.
We don’t want or mean to fight with the sword of the flesh, but we will fight with the broad sword of the Spirit. Our enemies say our charter and writs of Habeas Corpus are worth nothing. We say they came from the highest authority in the State, and we will hold to them. They cannot be disannulled or taken away.
I then told the brethren I was going to send all the elders away, and when the mob came there would be only women and children to fight and they would be ashamed. I don’t want you to fight but go and gather tens, hundreds, and thousands to fight for you. If oppression comes I will then show them that there is a Moses and a Joshua amongst us; and I will fight them, if they don’t take off oppression from me. I will do as I have done this time, I will run into the woods, I will fight them in my own way. I will send brother Hyrum to call conferences everywhere throughout the States, and let documents be taken along and show to the world the corrupt and oppressive conduct of Boggs, Carlin, and others, that the public may have the truth laid before them.
Let the Twelve send all who will support that character of the Prophet, the Lord’s anointed, and if all who go will support my character, I prophesy in the name of the Lord Jesus, whose servant I am, that you will prosper in your missions. I have the whole plan of the kingdom before me, and no other person has. And as to all that Orson Pratt, Sidney Rigdon, or George W. Robinson can do to prevent me, I can kick them off my heels, as many as you can name; I know what will become of them.
I concluded my remarks by saying I have the best feelings towards my brethren, since this trouble began, but to the apostates and enemies, I will give a lashing every opportunity, and I will curse them…
Orson Pratt set behind president Joseph all the time he was speaking. He looked serious and dejected, but did not betray the least signs of compunction or repentance.
There’s a lot to unpack in that speech. From the top, Jo preaches that he’d been victorious against his Missourian persecutors, but was that really true? If you’re constantly in hiding from your enemies, are you really prevailing? Beyond that, if you’re still fighting your enemies, whether that’s by running from them or leading them into the woods by stratagem, how did you prevail?
Jo went on to retraumatize the Mormons by bringing up the Hauns’ Mill massacre, saying if they would have listened to what he commanded them to do they never would have died. He leveraged that trauma to tell the Mormons that if they just listen to his counsel and do exactly what he says that no lives will be lost. That’s a powerful mind-controlling technique often seen in Stockholm syndrome. It’s rhetoric used by all kinds of insular group leaders throughout all history and it obviously works regardless of how false it usually is.
Then, Jo reiterates what Hyrum had said previously that if a mob comes into town the men should flee and leave only women and children there to stand up to the armed militia. They’d feel so dumb fighting women and children, wouldn’t they? It’s a common tactic by most major military leaders throughout history, right? Oh, wait, no… that’s just horrible, self-serving, and incredibly revealing of Jo’s inner cowardice. Such a great man to sacrifice the women and children to save himself and his brethren…
Then he goes on to say he has a plan and nobody can question it. If everybody will simply do what he says they’ll get some money and hatch the plan to build the great Mormon theocracy. Finally, in conclusion, similar to the milk strippings story with Thomas B. Marsh in Utah, Jo made an example out of Orson Pratt while he was sitting behind him. How dare he run off and leave a suicide note and cause half the town to go searching for him? How dare Orson team up with Sidney Rigdon and George W. Robinson to drag the prophet down? But, he prophesies that he will live to give them a lashing and cursing at every opportunity and he’ll trample their ashes with his feet, for they will be cut down in their plans. Orson Pratt was sitting right behind him the whole time. Jo made an example of those who oppose him or even cause him minor inconveniences. Pratt would be dealt with in due time, we’ll get to it eventually.
Jo appearing in front of hundreds of Mormons and most of the brethren was a ballsy move. He need only be sighted by the Adams County Sheriff, who was still in town, and he was done. The sheriff had learned from leaving Jo in the custody of the Nauvoo city constable, he wouldn’t be making that mistake again. However, Jo wasn’t done with his public appearances for the week.
The Relief Society had scheduled a meeting 4 days later in the same grove near the Temple. Jo made another surprise appearance, likely to the sycophantic adulation of the crowd again. Eliza R. Snow sat near the pulpit in the grove eagerly taking notes.
President Joseph Smith arose and said, “I am happy and thankful for the privilege of being present on this occasion. Great exertions have been made on the part of our enemies to carry me to Missouri and destroy my life, but the Lord has hedged up their way, and they have not, as yet, accomplished their purpose. God has enabled me to keep out of their hands. I have warred a good warfare, insomuch as I have out-generalled or whipped out all Bennett’s corrupt host.
My feelings at the present time are, that inasmuch as the Lord Almighty has preserved me until today, he will continue to preserve me by the united faith and prayers of the saints, until I have fully accomplished my mission in this life, and so firmly established the dispensation of the fullness of the Priesthood in the last days, that all the powers of earth and hell can never prevail against it.
My constant persecution reminds me of the words of the Savior, when he said to the Pharisees, ‘Go ye, and tell that fox. Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ I suspect that my Heavenly Father has decreed that the Missourians shall not get me into their power: if they do, it will be because I do not keep out of their way.
I shall triumph over my enemies; I have begun to triumph over them at home, and I shall do it abroad. All those that rise up against me will surely feel the weight of their iniquity upon their own heads. Those that speak evil of me and the saints are ignorant or abominable characters, and full of iniquity. All the fuss, and all the stir, and all the charges got up against me are like the jack-a-lantern, which cannot be found.
Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing; the wrong that I do, is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if he were here, would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against him—they all watched for iniquity in him. How easy it was for Jesus to call out all the iniquity of the hearts of those whom he was among!
The servants of the Lord are required to guard against those things that are calculated to do the most evil—the little foxes spoil the vines—little evils do the most injury to the church. If you have evil feelings, and speak of them to one another, it has a tendency to do mischief. These things result in those evils which are calculated to cut the throats of the heads of the church.
When I do the best I can—when I am accomplishing the greatest good, then the most evils, and wicked surmisings are got up against me. I would to God that you would be wise. I now counsel you, that if you know anything calculated to disturb the peace or injure the feelings of your brother or sister, hold your tongues, and the least harm will be done.
The Female Relief Society have taken a most active part in my welfare against my enemies, in petitioning the Governor in my behalf. These measures were all necessary. Do you not see that I foresaw what was coming, beforehand, by the spirit of prophecy? All these movements had an influence in my redemption from the hand of my enemies. If these measures had not been taken, more serious consequences would have resulted. I have come here to bless you. The Society have done well—their principles are to practice holiness. God loves you, and your prayers in my behalf shall avail much: let them not cease to ascend to God continually in my behalf. The enemies of this people will never get weary of their persecution against the church, until they are overcome. I expect they will array everything against me, that is in their power to control, and that we shall have a long and tremendous warfare. He that will war the true Christian warfare against the corruptions of these last days will have wicked men and angels of devils, and all the infernal powers of darkness continually arrayed against him. When wicked and corrupt men oppose, it is a criterion to judge if a man is warring the Christian warfare. When all men speak evil of you falsely, blessed are ye, &c. Shall a man be considered bad, when men speak evil of him? No; if a man stands and opposed the world of sin, he may expect all wicked and corrupt spirits arrayed against him. But it will be but a little season, and all these afflictions will be turned away from us, inasmuch as we are faithful, and are not overcome by these evils. By seeing the blessings of the endowment rolling on, and the kingdom increasing and spreading from sea to sea, we shall rejoice that we were not overcome by these foolish things.
Once again, the tongue is an unruly member. The Relief Society was formed at a time when Jo was taking a lot of women to be his polygamous partners. Look, you can’t be a prominent public figure like Jo having a bunch of affairs with women and form a women’s society and not expect rumors to abound. Not because women are gossipy, but because intimacy with the prophet was a common thing more than a dozen of these women shared. Word was bound to spread beyond the confines of the Relief Society. However, they were in full support of the prophet and the Relief Society was able to put a cap on at least some of the rumors and punish those who would divulge that information to uninitiated ears.
This was an important meeting. The people saw Jo was still in town and still running the church, even if he couldn’t make regular public appearances without risking his life. At what cost, though? Every public appearance Jo made opened him up to possible arrest. The Adams County Sheriff was still staying in town or in nearby towns trying to track down Jo. He probably thought nothing unique of the large gatherings in the grove near the temple, because Mormons did that all the time in Nauvoo, but there Jo appeared. The Sheriff must not have expected Jo there or he was in the next town over or something because he would have arrested Jo on the spot had he seen this go down. Same with the second appearance in front of the Relief Society 2 days later. However, he knew Jo was in town and probably wouldn’t be hiding out far from his home if he was still hiding in town. Attempted assassination of a Governor and Senatorial Candidate aren’t petty theft, they don’t just go away when the Sheriff has something better to do. The Sheriff could also deputize anybody if needed, but if he did with any of the men in Nauvoo, their loyalties would be questionable if push came to shove. Jo was also protected by the Nauvoo Legion which numbered 2,000 armed, fighting men at this time. Any situation which allowed Jo to be arrested was a dangerous one as tensions could immediately boil over and cause a confused conflict of some sort. Everybody had to tread lightly while their goals or missions were all in direct conflict with one another.
JS journal on JSP
Mingling eating dinner, knock on door, Jo slipping out window, people walking through house
Saturday 3rd. In the A.M. at home in company with John Boynton. A letter was received from brother [David] Hollister to the effect that the Missourians were again on the move and that two requisitions were issued, one on the Governor of the this State and the other on the Governor of Iowa. There movements were represented as being very secret and resolute. Soon after 12 o clock [James] Pitman the Deputy Sheriff and two other men came into the house. It appeared that they had come up the river side and hitched their horses below the Nauvoo House and then proceeded on foot, undiscovered untill they got into the house. When they arrived president Joseph was in another apartment of the house eating dinner with his family. John Boynton happened to be the first person discovered by the Sheriffs and they began to ask him where Mr Smith was. He answered that he saw him early in the morning; but did not say that he had seen him since. While this conversation was passing, president Joseph passed out at the back door and through the corn in his garden to brother Newel K. Whitney’s. He went up stairs and undiscovered. Meantime Sister Emma went and conversed with the Sheriffs. Pitman said he wanted to search the house for Mr Smith. In answer to a question by sister Emma he said he had no Warrant authorising him to search but insisted upon searching the house. She did not refuse, and accordingly they searched through but to no effect. This is another testimony and evidence of the mean, corrupt, illegal proceedings of our enemies Notwithstanding the constitution of the United States says Article 4th. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Yet these men audaciously, impudently, and altogether illegally demanded, and searched the house of president Joseph, even without any warrant or authority whatever. Being satisfied that he was not in the house they departed. They appeared to be well armed, and no doubt intended to take him either dead or alive; which we afterwards heard they had said they would do; but the Almighty again delivered his servant from their blood-thirsty grasp. It is rumored that there are fifteen men in the city along with the Sheriffs and that they dined together to day at Amos Davis’s. Soon after Sun down Thos. King and another person arived at the house and demanded to search, which they immediately did; but finding nothing they also went towards Davis’s. Some of them was seen about afterwards but at about 10 o clock all was quiet. It is said that they started from Quincey yesterday expecting and fully determined to reach Nauvoo in the night and fall upon the house unawares but report says they lost the road, and got scattered away one from another, and could not get along untill daylight. This in all probability is true as they appeared much fatigued and complained of being weary and sore with riding. President Joseph, accompanied by brother Erastus H. Derby, left brother Whitneys about nine o clock; and went to brother Edward Hunters where he was welcomed and made comfortable by the family, and where he can be kept safe from the hands of his enemies.
Nowhere was safe for Jo, not even within the walls of his kingdom. The Sheriff and his posse were hot on Jo’s trail and they had direct orders from the Governors of Missouri and Illinois to bring Jo to Missouri to answer for his crimes of conspiracy. He was too bold giving two sermons in public only two days apart. He felt safe for a while having been in hiding without any real danger of being captured, but this was too close. He had to be more careful until the heat died down, but that wouldn’t happen for quite some time.
While it may not be readily apparent, Jo’s power was dancing on a knife edge right now. There were plenty of existential threats to his power structure. Bennett’s published exposes and public lectures were causing fires all over the country the leadership couldn’t keep up with. The bankruptcy filings were being pushed through and a few people were advising Jo how best to navigate his bankruptcy, but the state was refusing to grant Jo any respite from his hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, adding stress and making any future prospects look pretty dim. Jo’d seized the largest ferry on the Mississippi but the business was failing under his management, the Red Brick Store was going further into debt. Jo couldn’t run the church publicly or else he’d risk arrest. If he couldn’t get out of the next arrest, Governor Carlin made it abundantly clear in the last letter that the Nauvoo city statutes wouldn’t overrule those of the Illinois State Constitution and that his hands were tied in granting Jo any leeway.
How does this conclude? What relieves all the pressure? Jo’s world is getting smaller every minute, he’s more constrained in his movements, in the contracts people are willing to sign with him, in gaining more followers with all the negative press Mormonism was attracting; it all has to come to a head at some point. How does it diffuse?
The more important question here seems to be, does Jo even want it to diffuse? A common theme among many apocalyptic preachers like Jo is the ability to string unrelated events together and use them as evidence that the whole world is headed towards ruin. America in the 1840s was relatively stable, at least when compared with the 1810s or 1860s, but how could somebody like Jo know that? He was constantly preaching about how the government is coming to get the Mormons and root them out just like the Missouri mobocrats had. Reading through the History of the Church there are dozens of entries covering major natural disasters which were printed in the Times and Seasons concurrent with other news articles related to the church, all of those natural disasters played into the apocalyptic narrative.
That is a tough question for me, did Jo want this pressure to diffuse, or did he have other plans in mind which required even more heat and pressure? Given events soon to transpire in our timeline, I tend towards the latter. Jo wanted the world as he knew it to end. He wanted the reset button. He wanted to world to burn so he could rise from the ashes king of all Israel in preparation for the second coming of the savior. That kind of evil can only be accomplished by highly motivated people who’ve been told that they’ve been persecuted for decades. Plans of overthrowing a government, or even the world, take decades or centuries to implement, but that didn’t stop Jo from fantasizing about being the man to usher in the new dispensation.
Copyright Ground Gnomes LLC subject to fair use. Citation example: "Naked Mormonism Podcast (or NMP), Ep #, original air date 11/30/2018"