Ep 185 – “A FRIENDLY HINT TO MISSOURI”
On this episode, Joseph Smith’s presidential campaign is ramping up! Jo nominates James Arlington Bennet for his Vice-Presidential candidate, White-out Willard Richards drafts a letter to Bennet, notice is printed in the Nauvoo Neighbor, and a retraction is published the following week. A special conference is called to preach to 8,000 Mormons about politics, the campaign, and the Mormon expansionist agenda. Jo picks a few of his dissenters out of the crowd and grand-stands about them being enemies, preaching about how he will “use up” those who oppose the mission of the church. Construction on the Nauvoo Temple and tithing are emphasized. Bloody Brigham Young makes a speech about not filing legal complaints when wrongs are committed against you. An exploratory group is formed and armed to the teeth to venture into the wilds of Texas and Oregon for the next Mormon settlement and staging ground. A “Hint” is sent to Missouri and the Missourians in St. Louis start to get uneasy about a President Joseph Smith.
Links: Everything we read came from the History of the Church. Pick up
your set of Vogel’s “Source—and text—Critical Edition.
Music by Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.com/
Show Artwork http://weirdmormonshit.com/
Legal Counsel http://patorrez.com/
Joseph Smith’s presidential campaign was beginning to occupy an increased amount of the time of the prophet and his subordinates. John Taylor had written and published the pamphlet “General Smith’s Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States” which was published on 7 Feb 1844 in the Times and Seasons as well as printed as a standalone document. This was his proclamation to the world that he’d be running for President and set out his political views and general platform. We’ve read through it on the show back on episode 166 as we entered 1844 and forecasted some major events of the year. This pamphlet was widely circulated, so widely circulated that, in fact, “Fifteen hundred copies of my “Views” out of press.” Was recorded by Quilliam Claypen in Jo’s journal for 24th Feb 1844.
John Taylor and White-out Willard Richards were in full swing running the Mormon propaganda machine with the Times & Seasons, Nauvoo Neighbor, and special pamphlets like Jo’s “Views”. The History of Joseph Smith was a regular column printed in the Times & Seasons, which was recognized by a very curious person who’s been completely absent from our timeline since episode 43- the Red Sermon episode during early 1838 in Missouri. This man was John Goebbels Whitmer. For new listeners or people who may not recall, John Whitmer was one of the eight witnesses of the Gold Plates that supposedly provided the source-text for the Book of Mormon. Jo and Oliver Cowdery, or Ollie Cowdung as we call him… I’m not proud of that one… moved to the Whitmer farm in 1829 to finish writing the Book of Mormon where John Whitmer acted briefly as scribe for the pages when Ollie’s hand needed a break. John Whitmer was one of the earliest members of the church and was ordained an Elder, an incredibly privileged position at the time, sometime in June of 1830, less than 2 months after the church was formed. Why the NaMo nickname of Goebbels Whitmer? Well the Whitmer family were first-generation German immigrants and John Whitmer was given an early revelation which was printed as the Book of Commandments chapter 50 in which he was to “keep the church record and history continually,” making John Whitmer one of Jo’s earliest propaganda ministers. If you don’t know where the name comes from, google Josef Goebbels and the picture should come into focus.
From that time forward, John Goebbels Whitmer was no longer just a scribe for the church’s revelations and the JST bible project, but an active historian for the church. He began taking contemporary notes for what he witnessed and writing contextualizing history surrounding revelations he was sent from the HQ in Kirtland as he was set up in the church presidency in Missouri where his older brother, D-Day David Whitmer was president. Well, John Goebbels Whitmer continued keeping that history throughout the entire 1830s. When Jo and Rigdon were forced from Kirtland to Ohio fleeing legal troubles and schisms in Kirtland, an inquisition was held against the Whitmers, William Wines Double-dub Phelps, and Ollie Cowdung. They were all excommunicated and told they needed to leave town in 48 hours or the Danites would be knocking on their doors.
John Goebbels Whitmer faded into obscurity from that time forward as he remained in Missouri during the entire Missouri-Mormon conflict and had no reason to flee with the Mormons across the Mississippi to Illinois. However, he still had his personal history notes in his possession which he’d taken by commandment from God.
Why is this relevant? Joseph Smith was forcing his way further into the public light in 1844 with his presidential campaign. There was a lot of so-called anti-Mormon headlines in national news which was reporting on the latest scandals coming from the Kingdom on the Mississippi. Jo’s story needed to be known across the nation and the Atlantic Ocean so people wouldn’t be scared of the fanatical religious sect and their modern-day Mahomet. As the John C. Wreck-it Bennett meltdown was infecting the Nauvoo empire, the project was begun to publish and propagate Jo’s personal history as far and wide as the newspaper circuit would take it. White-out Willard Richards, Jo’s appointed historian and propaganda minister to replace John Goebbels Whitmer, was in the constant process of collecting and sorting documents to construct Jo’s history which we read from today as the history of Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the History of the Church. A small snapshot of it is included in every Mormon scripture book as the Joseph Smith History.
As a candidate for the presidency, Jo’s personal life and past would come under extreme scrutiny so the Times & Seasons was careful with what it printed. Copies of this published History of Joseph Smith must have made their way down to Missouri where John Goebbels Whitmer was living and he thought, Nauvoo sounds like a good place to live and I have something of value the leadership may want, all my notes. Why don’t I send a letter to my ol’ friend and co counsellor in the Missouri Presidency, Double-dub Phelps, and see if he’d trade some Nauvoo land for my history notes, maybe they could use my notes for their JS history project and I could get a sweet plot of expensive Nauvoo land out of the deal.
Here’s White-out Willard Richards’s reply to John Goebbels Whitmer’s proposition. Whitmer didn’t even write the letter to Richards to begin with, he didn’t even like Richards, so this reply had an extra sting to it:
W.W. Phelps received a letter from john Whitmer in relation to certain records, and a book containing some of the early history of the Church, which had been written by my clerks, and was church property, and which had been fraudulently detained from my possession by John Whitmer, to which Dr. Richards replied.
Sir, Your Letter of the 8th of January to W. W. Phelps came in to our beloved Brother Joseph Smith’s office this day. As you mentioned something about the church records it becomes necessary to reply. (otherwise I wouldn’t have taken a moment from my busy day to reply to a bitter apostate like you…) We have already compiled about 800 pages of church history… which covers all the ground of which you took notes, therefore any thing which you have in the shape of church history would be of little or no consequence to the church at large.
You enquire about Bro. Phelps’ prospects. He owns no property in Nauvoo, but labors diligently for the church (unlike some early church leaders), and like all other righteous men hardly gets a comfortable living, as the time has scarcely arrived for the “meek to possess the earth.”
Recorder and Historian for the whole Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
John Goebbels Whitmer wrote that letter to his old friend, Double-dub Phelps in hopes of getting some valuable Nauvoo land he could either live on or sell for a profit. What the church did with his history notes, I don’t think he much cared. Suppress, burn, publish, it probably didn’t matter to him. Almost 2 months with no reply and then the person who finally got back to him was somebody he didn’t like, White-out Willard Richards, and Richards made a statement by saying we’ve already covered everything that little notebook you have includes so your work was for nothing and then signed it with his title, which used to be held by John Goebbels Whitmer, “Recorder and Historian for the whole Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” which is VERY uncommon for Richards to end his letters with.
This was a slight at Whitmer and his proposition, but it ended up being for the best for us today. John Goebbels Whitmer continued adding to his history and taking notes of what caught wind in the national media about the Mormons and then published his book in 1847, 3 years after Jo and Hyrum’s deaths and the same year the majority of the Mormons were headed towards either Beaver Island with James Strang or the Great Basin with Bloody Brigham. Had that history been traded to the church leadership at the time, it may never have surfaced and the greatest resource historians have for the early Kirtland era of the church might be burned or suppressed to this day. Of course, supporters of the show at patreon.com/nakedmormonism get access to the NaMo Book Club where we read through Whitmer’s book top to bottom with commentary.
This event plays into the larger picture of Jo’s history as he pushed himself further into the public light. It wasn’t just in the Times & Season and other local Illinois newspapers, or even that national newspaper syndicates that Jo was burning up more media oxygen, his Views on the President pamphlet was being sold across the nation and Jo even told White-out Willard Richards to send copies to “the President and Cabinet, Supreme Judges, Senators, Representatives, principal newspapers in the Untied States, (all the Governors,) and many postmasters and individuals. In all about 200.” Jo wasn’t just stating his Presidential platform to popular media but to all members of the federal government as would take the time to read it. The name General Joseph Smith was entering the public lexicon in conversations about the 1844 election across that nation.
However, a question in early March of 1844 still remained. If Jo was to be President, he needed a well-known and viable Vice President who could garner national recognition as a worthy candidate. Somebody who could add gravitas and weight to the ticket. A stalwart of intellectualism. A master of propaganda. A friend of the saints but hopefully not somebody who could be perceived as a crony of Joseph Smith. A name was floated around the Anointed Quorum of who would be the best fit and finally a decision was made on 4 March, 1844.
“I suggested the name of James Arlington Bennet, of Long Island, as a candidate for Vice-President.”
James Arlington Bennet is an interesting guy when it comes to his association with Mormonism. We first discussed him along with James Gordon Bennett and John C. Wreck-it Bennett back on episode 132 titled 2 Bennetts for 1. It’s hard to keep all these guys straight, but James Arlington Bennet was an attorney who served as a second lieutenant in the First U.S. Artillery division during the War of 1812. He published the American System of Practical Book-keeping in 1824 which became a standard in high schools and universities until the 1860s, which is probably why he gained the attention of the Mormons in 1842 when they awarded him an honorary doctorate from the University of Nauvoo and appointed him to the office of Inspector-General of the Nauvoo Legion. He founded the Arlington Academy in Boston in 1843 and was eventually baptized into the church by Bloody Brigham Young in August of that year. James Arlington Bennet was a respectable citizen and veteran of the most recent international conflict the United States had been through. With his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Nauvoo he could run as VP with the title of Veteran Dr. James Arlington Bennet. He was a good pick and Jo was smart for floating out his name. Accordingly, White-out Willard Richards wrote him a letter extending the invitation:
I have recently mailed to you, Gen. Smith’s views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the U.S., which were drawn forth in consequence of his friends selecting him as a candidate for the next Presidency, which he very reluctantly acquiesced in, and it seems, would not, only to support a favorite maxim, “the people must govern”; but having once been prevailed upon to suffer his name to go abroad as a candidate, it is desirable to him of course, as to every patriot, that those who have brought him forward should use all honorable means to sustain him in the canvass; and if I had not felt disposed to uphold him before the people, I never would have been the first to urge his nomination; and during the short space, since his name has been published, his friends have been astonished at the flood of influence that is rolling through the western States in his favor, and in many instances where we might have least expected it.
I need not assert what the wisest of the wise admit without argument, that Gen. Smith is the greatest statesman of the 19th century; then why should not the nation secure to themselves his superior talents, that they may rise higher and higher in the estimation of the crowns of the nations, and exalt themselves through his wisdom?
Your friends here consider your letter about the Governorship of Illinois, just like “every man in your quarter, mere sport,” child’s sport, for who would stoop to play of a single State, when the WHOLE NATION was on board? A cheaper game?
Gen. Smith says if he must be President, James Arlington Bennett must be Vice-President. To this his friends are agreed, agreed in everything, and in this consists our power; consequently, your name will appear in our next paper as our candidate for Vice-President of the United States. You will receive our undivided support, and we expect the same in return for Gen. Smith for the Presidency, and we will go it with the rush of a whirlwind, so peaceful, so gentle, that it will not be felt by the nation till the battle’s won…
We have many things to say to you, which we must keep till we see you face to face.
All is right in Nauvoo. We are now fitting out a noble company to explore Oregon and California, and progressing rapidly with the Great Temple, which we expect to roof this season, though there is yet a chance at the “eleventh hour,” for you to bring in your thousand, and secure your “penny.”
On the 6th of April is our special conference at Nauvoo; I wish you could be here on that occasion, but the time is too short. From that period our elders will go forth by hundreds or thousands, and search the land, preaching religion and politics; and if God goes with them, who can withstand their influence?
Boy isn’t that last line the truth when it comes to modern Mormonism. To address the contents of the letter, it was customary at this time for a leader to be considered noble that they their friends nominate them for an elected office and the person hums and haws for a bit before begrudgingly accepting. That’s how every presidential nomination had happened up to this point and that same cultural song and dance still makes its way into our culture to some extent today. But make no mistake, POTUS was something for which Jo had been deliberately positioning himself for years before this moment; it was just a play.
It is interesting, however, that Bennet was informed of his nomination to VP in this letter at the same time that they told him they’ll be announcing it in the next issue of the Times & Seasons. It shouldn’t be expected that there would be enough time for the letter to get all the way to New York, for Bennet to reply, and for that reply to make it all the way back to Nauvoo in a mere week and a half when the next issue of the Times & Seasons was set to be published.
Regardless, the letter was sent to James Arlington Bennet and the next issue of the Nauvoo Neighbor was printed with the heading “FOR PRESIDENT GEN. JOSEPH SMITH, NAUVOO, ILLINOIS VIE PRESIDENT GEN. JAMES A. BENNET, NEW YORK” at the head in all caps.
But, there was a problem White-out Willard Richards didn’t know when Jo nominated Arlington Bennet and Richards didn’t know when the letter was sent.
Friday, 8 [March 1844].—At 10 a.m., my scribe W. Richards called to tell me that James Arlington Bennett was a native of Ireland, and therefore was not constitutionally eligible to be the Vice-President; he wanted to know who should be nominated for Vice-President, I told him to counsel with others on that point, when he said he would call a council this evening.
Bummer. Arlington Bennet was born in Ireland and couldn’t be Jo’s VP. Before Arlington Bennet could receive the letter, make a reply accepting or rejecting his nomination, and for his letter to get back to the Nauvoo leadership, a retraction was published in the following edition of the Nauvoo Neighbor of March 13.
Gen. Arlington Bennnet.—We have learned that Gen. Bennet is originally from Ireland, and consequently is ineligible to the office of Vice President.
That actually wasn’t true. White-out Willard Richards got some bad intel and Jo’s power of discernment wasn’t working to know that Bennet was actually born in New England and totally eligible for VP. But he’d have to be a prophet or something to know that information so instead Jo just looked like an idiot. What a crazy turn of events for Arlington Bennet in the days without email or phones.
Who would replace James Arlington Bennet for the VP spot?
It was agreed that Col. Solomon Capeland, living at Paris, Henry co., Tennesse, should be written to, on the subject of the Vice-Presidency, and that Elder W. Woodruff should write the letter, and invite him to visit us, and see if he would suffer his name to run for that office.
Who is Solomon Copeland? A nobody. He was a guy who was friends with Woodruff who’d offered his house as a base for missionary stuff in Tennessee. He was also a resident of Tennessee and the Mormons had to do something to gain support from southern Democrat voters so this guy from Tennessee wasn’t a bad bet. Unfortunately the letter was sent but no reply from Copeland has ever been found. Maybe he denied the nomination, maybe he agreed to it, maybe he just never got around to answering Jo’s job offer of the second most powerful job in the world, we just don’t know.
Regardless of Copeland’s reply, the spot was still up for grabs and the leadership kept floating out names for weeks after this letter was sent to Solomon Copeland. The name of Sidney Rigdon as Jo’s running mate wouldn’t be arrived at for a little while.
A general meeting was held in Nauvoo on Thursday 7 March 1844 which I find quite interesting. We’re going to spend a bit of time on it, like we do with most documents. Why are we spending so much time on this beast? Well it was a meeting that is quite interesting in what it reveals as a general overview of the past couple years as well as a forecasting for the plans of Jo and the leadership. It was a talk, mostly given by Jo, but what it actually reveals is the progress of the Mormon war machine, Talos, and what the final plans for this war machine really were. Let’s dig into it and I’ll do my best to just let Jo speak for himself, only interjecting where necessary.
A vast assembly of Saints met at the Temple of the Lord at 9 o’clock a.m., by special appointment of President Joseph Smith, for the purpose of advancing the progress of the Temple, &c.
…present… about eight thousand Saints.
Patriarch Hyrum Smith took the stand and said, “The object of the meeting is to stir up your minds by way of remembrance. It is necessary to have a starting-point, which is to build the Temple.
[“]With the assistance of the sisters, we expect to get the nails and glass, and with the assistance of the brethren, we expect to do the rest. I will proclaim in public and in private, that the sisters bought the glass and nails by penny subscription. Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.
We shall call upon this vast multitude for a donation to buy powder and fuse-rope to blast the rocks in the quarry. We want the brethren to at least do as much as the sisters.
We do not intend to finish the Nauvoo House this season, but to take all the hands and finish the Temple this summer, or the walls of it, and get the roof on by December, and do off the inside next winter, and about a year from this spring we will dedicate it.
We can do anything we undertake; we have power, and we can do great things. In five years to come, the work will progress more than it has done for ten years past.[“]…
President Joseph Smith then arrived, took the stand, arose, and, after requesting Orson Pratt to come to the stand and take his post, said:--
[“]I do not know whether the object of the meeting has been told you or not. I apologize for not coming sooner.
I have had so much on my mind since I saw you that I hardly know where to begin or what to say; but one of the grand objects I had in view in calling this meetings was, to make a few remarks relative to the laws and ordinances of the city, and the building of the Temple.
The reason I want to speak of the city ordinances is, that the officers have difficulty in administering them.
We are republicans, and wish to have the people rule; but they must rule in righteousness. Some would complain with what God himself would do.
The laws or ordinances are enacted by the city council on petition of the people, and they can all be repealed if they wish it, and petition accordingly. (you people have the power if you don’t like the city ordinances… but we pull the strings)
At all events the people ought not to complain of the officers; but if they are not satisfied, they should complain to the lawmakers by petition.
I am instructed by the city council to tell this people, that if there is any law passed by us which you dislike, we will repeal it; for we are your servants. Those who complain of our rights and charters are wicked and corrupt, and the devil is in them. (poisoning the well for anybody who may raise legitimate complaints about the outstanding powers of the Nauvoo city council)
The reason I called up this subject is, we have a gang of simple fellows here who do not know where their elbows or heads are; if you preach virtue to them, they will oppose that; or if you preach a Methodist God to them, they will oppose that; and the same if you preach anything else; and if there is any case tried by the authorities of Nauvoo, they want it appealed to Carthage to the circuit court. Mr. Orsimus F. Bostwick’s case had to go to Carthage; our lawyers will appeal anything to the circuit court.
Brief pause to talk about that. Hyrum Sidekick-Abiff Smith filed a complaint against Orsimus F. Bostwick concerning allegations of polygamy. Bostwick claimed Hyrum was preaching it, Hyrum called him a liar and filed a complaint charging Bostwick with slander. We talked about this back on episode 173. Because this was the Nauvoo municipal court, Hyrum won the case and Bostwick was charged a $50 fine for slandering Hyrum. It was a mess. When the judgement came down on February 26th:
Francis M. Higbee, his attorney, (and I would add one of the publishers of the Nauvoo expositor 4 months in the future) gave notice he should appeal to the municipal court, and then to the circuit court. I told Higbee what I thought of him for trying to carry such a suit to Carthage; it was to stir up the mob, and bring them upon us.
Stirring up the mob wasn’t why Higbee appealed the case, covering up for polygamy and charging Bostwick a fine in this kangaroo court was why he appealed the case. Higbee knew the court system in Nauvoo wasn’t just rigged, but was just a banana republic type legal system created to insulate the Mormon leadership and he acted with his client’s best interest in mind by going over the Nauvoo Court’s heads to the county level. If doing so stirred up mob violence from Carthage, that was Jo’s fault, not Higbee and Bostwick’s. Clearly this case was grinding on Jo’s mind for him to talk about it from the pulpit at this special conference in front of 8,000 Mormons and. He was pulling the strings and the people sided with their prophet without knowing what was really going on.
I want the people to speak out, and say whether such men should be tolerated and supported in our midst; and I want to know if the citizens will sustain me when my hands are raised to heaven for and in behalf of the people.
Every member a missionary? This was every citizen a soldier to defend their prophet with their lives. This creates a dangerous cult mindset which no rationality can penetrate.
From this time I design to bring such characters who act against the interests of the city, before a committee of the whole, and I will have the voice of the people, which is republican, and is likely to be the voice of God; and as long as I have a tongue to speak, I will expose the iniquity of the lawyers and wicked men.
I fear not their boiling over, nor the boiling over of hell—their thunders nor the lightning of their forked tongues.
This is very dangerous. Citizen tribunals for anybody perceived as fighting the will of God and his spokesman prophet. What Jo couldn’t affect by legal procedures he could accomplish by moving and shaping the will of the public because he spoke for god. The thousands of Mormons were putty in his hands. Next he gets even more direct and this is frankly terrifying as he’s capable of making a single person an enemy within the ranks deserving of public ostracization and ridicule for opposing the prophet just because he’s a member of the church.
There is another person I will speak about; he is a Mormon, a certain man who lived here before we came here;… Hiram Kimball; when a man is baptized and becomes a member of the church, I have a right to talk about him, and reprove him in public or private, whenever it is necessary, or he deserves it.
When the city passed an ordinance to collect wharfage from steamboats, he goes and tells the captains of the steamboats that he owned the landing, and that they need not pay wharfage.
I despise the man who will betray you with a kiss, and I am determined to use up such men, if they will not stop their operations. If this is not true, let him come forward, and throw off the imputation.
The court of public opinion just had a star witness, the prophet of god, indict and incriminate Hiram Kimball and then Jo threw the burden of proof to Kimball to disprove the allegations. This is a speech that 8,000 Mormons were listening to. You think Hiram Kimball could get a fair shake now? By the way, “use them up” was a death threat. That wasn’t veiled. That wasn’t sugar-coated. That was Jo threatening Hiram Kimball with death because he waived wharfage fees for some of the Mississippi ferries. Jo was an incredibly dangerous guy.
Another thing: I want to speak about the lawyers of this city. I have good feelings towards them; nevertheless I will reprove the lawyers and doctors anyhow. Jesus did, and every prophet has, and if I am a prophet I shall do it, at any rate, I shall do it, for I profess to be a prophet.
I have no idea why that’s in there or why it’s relevant but apparently Jo was feeling insecure this day.
How are we to keep peace in the city, defend ourselves against mobs, and keep innocent blood from being shed? By striking a blow at everything that rises up in disorder.
I will wage an eternal warfare with those that oppose me while I am laboring in behalf of the city. I will disgrace every man by publishing him on the house top, who will not be still, and mind his own business. Let them entirely alone, and they will use themselves up.
Then Jo gets a little specific with the war he’s waging for the city.
A… man, (I will not call his name) has been writing to the New York Tribune some of the most disgraceful things possible to name. He says in that article that there are a great many donations to the Temple, which have been appropriated to other purposes.
His object evidently was to stigmatize the trustee, and excite prejudice against us abroad. But I pledge myself that whoever has contributed any old shoes, harness, horses, wagons, or anything else, if he will come forward I will show that every farthing is on the book, and has been appropriated for the building of the Temple…
He also states that the Temple cannot be built, it costs so much…
There are men in our midst who are trying to build up themselves at our expense, and others who are watching for iniquity, and will make a man an offender for a word. The best way for such men is to be still. If I did not love men I would not reprove them ,but would work in the dark as they do.
As to who is the author of the article in the Tribune, read it, and you will see for yourselves. He is not a lawyer—he is nearer related to a doctor—a small man… But I will rest myself and give way for others.
President Hyrum Smith arose and made a few remarks. He compared the lawyers to polliwogs, wigglers, and toads; he said they would dry up next fall. “Those characters I presume were made in gizzard making time, when it was cheaper to get gizzards than souls, for if a soul cost $5, a gizzard would cost nothing; like tree toads they change color to suit the object they are upon; they ought to be ferreted out like rats: you could describe them as you would a hedgehog; they are in every hedge stinking like a skunk.”
After Hyrum’s remarks a fascinating interaction happens between Jo and two of his dissenters, soon to be greatest enemies, Charles Foster, and his brother, Robert D. Bob-the-Builder Foster.
Charles Foster asked if Joseph meant him.
Joseph said, “I will reply by asking you a question.”
Foster, “That is no way.”
Joseph, “Yes, that is the way the Quakers do, but Jesus said, ‘whose image and superscription is this[?]’ Why did you apply the remarks to yourself? Why did you ask if we meant you?”
Foster, “Then I understand you meant me.”
Joseph, “You said it.”
Foster, “You shall hear from me.”
Joseph as mayor, “I fine you $10 for that threat, and for disturbing the meeting.”
Doctor [Robert D. Bob the Builder] Foster spoke in palliation of his brother Charles, and asked Joseph to await, &c. He said, “He has not threatened you.” Joseph said, “He has.” Doctor [Robert D.] Foster said, “No one has heard him threaten you”; when hundreds cried, “I have!” Doctor F[oster]. Continued to speak, when the mayor called him to order, or, said he, “I will fine you”.
The Fosters knew Joseph Smith and had tangled with him in the Nauvoo legal system for half a year. They weren’t under his spell like the other 8,000 people in the crowd. In this instant we see the mechanisms by which a demagogue can direct the will of the people to serve their own ends and turn anybody into an enemy of their righteous cause.
After this exchange, Double-Dub Phelps read Jo’s presidential pamphlet and the Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo from the pulpit which was supposedly unanimously supported by the crowd. After this, Bloody Brigham took the stand to ensure complete control and compliance of the Mormon people when they feel wronged.
To cure lawing, let us pay attention to our own business. When we hear a story, never tell it again; and it will be a perfect cure. If your brother mistreats you, let him alone; if you enemy cheats you, let it go; cease to deal with men who abuse you; if all men had taken the straightforward course that some have, we should not have such disorderly men in our midst.
I have no objections to any man coming here, but I will have nothing to do with men who will abuse me at midnight and at noonday. Our difficulties and persecutions have always arisen from men right in our midst…
We have heard the effects of slander, and we want a cure and balm; and I carry one with me all the while, and I want all of you to do the same. I will tell you what it is; it is to mind our own business, and let others alone; and suffer wrong rather than do wrong; if any one takes your property away, let them alone, and have nothing to do with them…
If any of you wish to know how to have your bread fall butter-side up, butter it on both sides, and then it will fall butter-side up. Oppose this work, and it will roll over you…
The only thing the Saints now want to know is, what does the Lord want of us, and we are ready to do it.
Just think of how instilling these sentiments in the minds of the thousands of Mormons creates a system of abuse of power and absolutely no transparency or recourse if something bad happens. If somebody hurts you, betrays you, sues you, leave them alone. If somebody steals your property, leave them alone. Bloody Brigham wraps with a demonstrable lie: “I would not sue a man if he owed me five hundred, or a thousand dollars, should he come to me and say he would not pay me.” Yeah you wouldn’t sue them, you’d have them thrown in a well by your sledgehammer, Jedediah Grant or Wild Bill Hickman.
After that John Taylor takes the stand and harps on the Temple after which Jo takes the stand again and drives home how important tithing is. Then he gets into a spiel about his political campaign.
As to politics, I care but little about the presidential chair; I would not give half as much for the office of President of the United States, as I would for the one I now hold as Lieut.-General of the Nauvoo Legion.
We have as good a right to make a political party to gain power to defend ourselves, as for demagogues to make use of our religion to get power to destroy us; in other words, as the world has used the power of government to oppress and persecute us, it is right for us to use it for the protection of our rights; we will whip the mob by getting up a candidate for President. (Jo’s runnin for POTUS to own the libs… sorry mobocrats.)
When I get hold of the eastern papers, and see how popular I am, I am afraid myself that I shall be elected; but if I should be, I would not say, ‘Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you.’…
On the annexation of Texas, and I read this quote during part 3 of the Council of Fifty series but this is the real context for it:
It will be more honorable for us to receive Texas, and set the Negroes free, and use the Negroes and Indians against our foes. Don’t let Texas go, lest our mothers, and the daughters of the land should laugh us in the teeth; and if these things are not so, God never spoke by any prophet since the world…
The Government will not receive any advice or counsel from me—they are self-sufficient; but they must go to hell, and work out their own salvation with fear and trembling… As soon as Texas was annexed, I would liberate the slaves in two or three States, indemnifying their owners, and send the Negroes to Texas, and from Texas to Mexico, where all colors are alike. And if that was not sufficient, I would call upon Canada, and annex it.
Jo’s points of annexing Texas, freeing the slaves, and “use the Negroes and Indians against our foes” even to the point of annexing Canada was not just spur-of-the-moment pulpit talk from the prophet. These were plans actually in the works at this time. To drive this home, 2 weeks before this talk at this early March special conference, secret meetings were held with the anointed quorum and apostles.
23 Feb “Met with the Twelve in the Assembly Room, concerning the Oregon and California exploring expedition, Hyrum and Sidney present. I told them I wanted an exploration of all that mountain country; perhaps it would be best to go direct to Santa Fe. “Send 25 men; let them preach the gospel wherever they go. Let that man go that can raise $500, a good horse and mule, a double barrel gun, one-barrel rifle and the other smooth bore, a saddle and bridle, a pair of revolving pistols, Bowie-knife, and a good Sabre. Appoint a leader, and let them beat up for volunteers. I want every man that goes to be a king and a priest; when he gets on the mountains, he may want to talk with his God; when wit the savage nations have power to govern, &c. If we don’t get volunteers, wait till after the election.”
Geo[rge] D. Watt said, “Gentlemen, I shall go.”
Samuel Bent volunteered.
Joseph A Kelting, do.
David Fullmer, do.
James Emmett, do.
Daniel Spencer, do.
Samuel Rolfe, do.
Daniel Avery, do.
Sam[uel] W. Richards, do.
Almon L. Fullmer and Hosea Stout volunteered to go on the western exploring expedition.
28 Feb 1844 “Thomas S. Edwards volunteered to join the exploring expedition to the Rocky Mountains.”
An exploratory and missionary force was now organized to learn strategic placements for the Mormons to settle and begin the staging armies to prepare their march on the United States government in the event of Jo not winning the election. Was Jo serious about his campaign for President? Absolutely. Did he actually want to win? That’s a harder question to answer because the plans he and the Twelve were devising at this time hint at a much larger scheme than simply being elected.
To illustrate this point further, the day after this special meeting, Jo, with the help of his clerk Double-dub Phelps, wrote this open letter, of which I take a few small extracts.
HoC 6: 274
A FRIENDLY HINT TO MISSOURI
One of the most pleasing scenes that can transpire on earth, when a sin has been committed by one person against another, to forgive that sin: and then, according to the sublime and perfect pattern of the Savior, pray to our Father in heaven, to forgive also…
The voice of reason, the voice of humanity, the voice of the nation, and the voice of ehaven seem to say to the honest and virtuous, throughout the State of Missouri; wash yourselves, make you clean, lest your negligence should be taken by the world, from the mass of facts before it, that you are guilty!
Let there be one unison of hearts for justice, and when you reflect around your own firesides, remember that fifteen thousand, once among you, now not, but who are just as much entitlted to the privileges and blessing you enjoy as yourselves; like the widow before the unjust judge, are fervently praying for their rights.
When you meditate upon the massacre at Haun’s Mill, forget not that the constitution of yoru State holds this broad truth to the world; that none shall “be deprived of life, liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.”
This was just one in a litany of these open letters sent to Missouri concerning the tensions resulting from the Missouri-Mormon war of 1838. Taken altogether, these open letters painted a picture of vengeance and blood thirst in the Mormon leadership, which was felt in Missouri when folks would visit St. Louis, the largest city nearest Nauvoo accessible by ferry. George A. Smith, cousin of Jo, returned the same day this open letter was written with some intel for the President.
Bro. Geo. A. Smith brought the information that bro. Farnham had just returned from St. Louis, and said the people in that place were saying “things have come to a strange pass; if Joe Smith is elected President, he will raise the devil with Missouri; and if he is not elected, he will raise the devil anyhow.”
Yeah… President Joseph Smith was a scary proposition to Missouri who knew he regarded them as his avowed enemies, but a Joseph Smith who lost the presidential race and turned to reinforcing and expanding his own personal militia with freed slaves and indigenous peoples hell-bent on destroying the American government was far more disturbing. His crusade would begin with Missouri and nobody held any inaccurate notions of what that would look like.
This was an exciting time for the prophet and his followers. Two crucial events happened in Nauvoo Mormon history which we’ve only briefly introduced up to this point. A mere 2 days after this letter to Missouri was drafted and read to the highest leadership of the church, the first meeting of the Council of Fifty was held March 11th, kicking off the establishment of Jo’s theocratic government which was to actually replace the United States federal government once Mormonism had amassed enough soldiers to overthrow those powers. We did a three-part series on the Council of Fifty a few months ago on episodes 168-70 in the episodes foreshadowing 1844 and now we’ve finally arrived to The Council of the Kingdom of God actually being established. Many of the closed-door meetings we’ll be discussing from this time forward were held with this super-secret Council of Fifty. The second event was the death of a church leader. On March 9th a guy was working on digging a well somewhere in town. Whether this well was for the temple or to supply some Nauvoo homes with water, I don’t know. But this guy was working down in a well and the guys above him were lowering a bucket filled with rocks for the well down to him. The rope holding the bucket of rocks snapped and it fell down the well and crushed the man. His name was King Follet. Both of these events will play into coming episodes of the show. We’ll be doing a multi-part series on the King Follet discourse, why it’s important, where the ideas came from, its impact on Mormon theology at large, all that fun stuff. We’ll continue discussing Jo’s presidential campaign, dissenters, polygamy and how it was dealt with, and many other related issues leading up to the Nauvoo Expositor, and all of this culminating in the shootout at Carthage. What I’m trying to say, folks, is there’s a light at the end of this very long tunnel that’s dark and filled with terrors.
Next week begins series on smith-entheogen theory. For those of you interested in psychedelics in early Mormonism, but you don’t want to take the time to read through the paper yourself, I’ll be reading through the most recent paper titled “The entheogenic origins of Mormonism: a working hypothesis” with my commentary, expansions, and explanations. This would take 2 episodes if I just read through 41 pages straight through so I think it’s reasonable to expect the remainder of December 2019 will be the Smith-entheogen theory top to bottom and we’ll pick up on the King Follet discourse beginning January of 2020. I hope the rest of your holiday season is awesome. If you’re looking for Mormon history beyond this, Braden and I just started a multi-part series on Mormon money from top to bottom over on Glass Box Podcast. You know the early history figures; we talk about the more recent history figures and their importance with Mormon money. It ought to be quite interesting.
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