Ep 202 – Nauvoo Expositor: Destruction
On this episode, the Nauvoo City Council spends all day 10 June 1844 deliberating about how to deal with the Nauvoo Expositor. The push through the council a new ordinance concerning libelous publications then spend the rest of the day discussing whether or not the Expositor should be declared a “public nuisance,” and therefore necessary to remove. They side with Joseph Smith in his calls for vote in favor and the marshal, John P. Greene, obeys the Mayor’s orders and destroys the printing press and ransack the office. The Nauvoo Legion were also called to assist the marshal and martial law is declared by the prophet, priest, king, lieutenant-general, and presidential candidate, Joseph Smith.
Music by Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.bancamp.com/
Show Artwork http://weirdmormonshit.com/
Legal Counsel http://patorrez.com/
It’s June 9th, 1844. The Nauvoo Expositor had been published, the public was in an outrage about the salacious revelations contained therein. The Nauvoo leadership were in constant meetings to determine how to handle the Nauvoo Expositor. The first edition was a massive threat but the danger of what it may publish in subsequent editions loomed as the most dangerous threat to Jo and his clandestine church.
The Expositor took aim, not only at polygamy, but at the incredible amount of power held by Nauvoo elites. The editor, Sylvester Emmons, advocated openly for a blanket repeal of the Nauvoo Charter, which would completely upend the Mormon settlement and thereby moot all the powers granted by the city government to the Mormon leadership. It was a tenuous theocratic empire and Jo was the criminal kingpin atop the shaky lattice.
Add in to the confusion, most of Jo’s closest and trusted allies were all across the nation to electioneer and help posture Joseph in a favorable position for the coming 1844 Presidential election. The usual circle of elite bodyguards who’d sworn oaths to protect the prophet at the cost of their own lives was running as a skeleton crew. The High Council couldn’t form a quorum to meet. The Council of Fifty had less than half of its members in the boundaries of the city. Joseph had never been so vulnerable. He attempted to handle the issue with the City Council.
The meeting of the city council on June 8th contained discussion about the Nauvoo Expositor, it’s printers and editors, Joseph H. Jackson and counterfeit coins, alcohol laws, and numerous other topics. The best option Jo could come up with to deal with the Expositor was to introduce a new ordinance concerning libelous or slanderous publications. According to the minutes, taken by Hosea Stout, “Mayor [Joseph Smith] Suggested that council pass an ordinance to prevent misrepresentations & Libellous publicati[o]n, and wanted a law passed to p[r]event all, conspiracy against the peace of the city.”
What does he mean when he says conspiracy against the peace of the city? That was Jo being mad that people wanted to force him to abide by laws. Just like every tyrant who flaunts the system of government and laws which oppose their meteoric rise, Jo’s greatest fear was governor Thomas Ford bringing the Illinois militia into Nauvoo and affecting an arrest. Jo was averse to bloodshed but he was quite heavy-handed in his rhetoric concerning how the Mormons with their Nauvoo Legion would respond to a militia attempting to enter the city. But, Jo’s actions rarely matched his words and he didn’t want a war.
With that in mind, though, he wasn’t wrong. The peace of the city was contingent on him continuing to defy the law. As long as he could act as a king, everything would continue unopposed and the peace of Nauvoo would remain… sort of. It was peaceful for those who were privileged with leadership ranks. For the thousands of regular Mormons life was hard and demanding.
As soon as Jo was held to the law, he would suffer the death penalty and multiple charges of riot, inciting violence, adultery, perjury, larceny, conspiracy, and half a dozen other serious criminal charges. Could his rhetoric solidify in the minds of his followers that it was all religious persecution and mobocracy? It wouldn’t be until after his death for us to find that it had worked, but in this second week of June 1844 it wasn’t so certain. Too many issues were dancing on a knife’s edge right now and Jo felt like actions to suppress the Nauvoo Expositor were the most prudent decisions to be made sooner rather than later.
To make matters worse, Jo had been dealing with constant personal illness for the entire winter and spring. It’s unknown exactly what his illness was but replete throughout his 1844 journal entries we find many passages about his ill health and his lungs failing. Even when he took the stand at during the April 1844 General Conference to deliver his famed King Follett Discourse he prefaced it by telling the members to pray to the lord to give him strength in his lungs.
The day after Jo told the City Council to draft an ordinance concerning libelous publications was Sunday June 9th. According to his journal-keeper, William Clayton (Quilliam Claypen), Jo spent most of the day “home[,] health not very good. Lungs wearied.” However, that afternoon, a steamer was due in Nauvoo from St. Louis, probably containing converts travelling from Europe as well as supplies for the Red Brick Store, or the Nauvoo House, or Temple projects. Jo dragged himself out of bed and met them at the landing next to the unfinished Nauvoo House. He then invited the new arrivals to stay at the mansion. “Several passengers of th[e] “Osprey” from St. Louis. & Quincy put up at the Mansion.” Then, in defiance of his ill-health, Jo “helpd carry in their trunks. and chattd with them in the bar room”.
After entertaining his new guests for a little while at his Nauvoo Mansion bar, Jo held a meeting beginning at 6 P.M. I can’t find any notes or minutes about this meeting. The only source I could possibly locate which may detail what happened in this meeting or who attended it is Quilliam Claypen’s diary, but the church is still suppressing it so if he made an entry that day there are only like 2 people alive today who’ve seen it. Presumably it was attended by Quilliam, White-out Willard Richards, and if I had to guess what it was concerning was the resolution against libelous publications, which was an ordinance that George W. Harris was drafting so he probably attended the meeting as well.
Whatever happened in the meeting this Sunday night, George W. Harris probably pulled an overnighter based on the meeting to finish drafting the resolution which was ready to present the following day at the Nauvoo City Council meeting.
The proceedings of this Monday city council meeting are absolutely remarkable and there’s so much to tease out of it. We’re going to get very familiar with the minutes of that day because, if you read the title of the episode you know this already, but that meeting set into motion the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor printing press that very same evening.
The City Council convened at 10 A.M. the morning of June 10th, 1844. The called a quorum and read for approval the minutes from the meeting of the previous Saturday, which we discussed last week, then Jo and the city council members discussed the allegations circulating about Jo attempting to buy Robert D. Bob the Builder Foster’s silence with a hat full of money. That issue was the centerpiece of discussion for basically the first half of the council meeting.
On last week’s episode I referred to this letter saying I couldn’t find it, well I found it. Bob-the Builder Foster was absolutely scathing in his reply which explains why the council spent so much time talking about Foster and the allegations about the hat full of money with witnesses produced by Jo saying it never happened. Here’s the letter:
Nauvoo, June 7, 1844.
GEN. J. SMITH:
Sir: -- I have consulted my friends in relation to your proposals of settlement, and they, as well as myself, are of the opinion that your conduct, and that of your unworthy clan, is so base, that it would be morally wrong, and detract from the dignity of a gentleman, to hold conference with you -- the repeated insults and abuse, I, as well as my friends, have suffered from your unlawful course towards us, demand honorable resentment. We are resolved to make this our motto -- nothing on our part has been done to provoke your anger; but have done all things as become man. You have trampled upon every thing we held dear and sacred -- you have set all law at defiance and profaned the name of the most high, to carry out your damnable purposes -- and I have nothing more to fear from you, than you have already threatened; and I, as well as my friends, will stay here, and maintain and magnify the law, as long as we do stay. We are resolved never to leave until we sell or exchange the property that we have here.
The proposals made by your agent (D. Huntingdon) as well as the threats you sent to intimidate me, I disdain, and [despise], as I do the unhallowed author. The rights of my family and friends, demand at my hands a refusal of all your offers. We are united in virtue and truth, and we sell hell at defiance and all her agents.
We aren’t going to go through the discussion during the city council meeting primarily because I think it’s reasonable that Jo tried to buy Foster’s silence and Jo just spends the whole time calling witnesses to disprove that such a thing ever happened. They also discuss the Laws as being generally good people and grinding grain without fee for the poor, which is kind of nice to see. Then they bicker about Jo giving William Law some food for a public banquet which Law apparently claimed was his own during the feast. Who knows what the reality is here because Jo was doing everything possible to slander the Laws including accusing William of essentially embezzling food. Finally though, on page 23 of the council minute book we get to the meat of the meeting.
George P. Stiles refrred to committee on claims Speci[a]l Committee reported A Bill—on Ordinance on Libels & for other puposes.—with preamble—
Whether it was George W. Robinson or George P. Stiles, the ordinance on Libelous publications, proposed during the previous meeting, was ready to be voted on. Let’s read it. This ordinance was what they passed through the city council meeting this day which resulted in the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor.
I want to read the entire ordinance because I feel like it aptly captures the mentality with which it was written. We gain a sense for the desperation and timeliness of the ordinance by reading between the lines and understanding the dire context in which the ordinance was drafted passed. It begins with talking about how terribly persecuted the Mormons are which seems to almost beg license to pass any oppressive ordinance if there’s some kind of justification for it. It also vilifies anybody opposing the City Council as blacklegs, highwaymen, murderers, and all sorts of horrible terms. The Mormons, and by extension the leadership, are innocent and these horrible people are trying to murder the saints by publishing scandalous lies and false statements, but the only reason they’re publishing such things in the first place is because of revenge for disappointed lust, disappointed projects of speculation, fraud, and sundry other unlawful designs. The only thing they want is to bring the mob upon the persecuted saints and exterminate them again and it all goes back to that original villain, John C. Wreck-it Bennett. Let’s get into it.
ORDINANCE CONCERNING LIBELS AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
WHEREAS the saints in all ages of the world have suffered persecution and death, by wicked an corrupt men under the garb of a more holy appearance of religion; and where as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from the moment that its first “truth sprang out of the earth” till now, has been persecuted with death, destruction, and extermination; and whereas men, to fulfill the scriptures, that a man’s enemies are they of his own household, have turned traitors in the church, and combined and leagued with the most corrupt scoundrels and villains that disgrace the earth unhung, for the heaven-daring and damnable purpose of revenge on account of disappointed lust, disappointed projects of speculation, fraud, and unlawful designs to rob and plunder mankind with impunity; and whereas such wicked and corrupt men have greatly facilitated their unlawful designs, horrid intentions, and murderous plans, by polluting, degrading, and converting the blessings and utility of the press, to the sin-smoking and blood-stained ruin of innocent communities, by publishing lies, false statements, coloring the truth, slandering men, women, children, societies, and countries, by polishing the characters of blacklegs, highwaymen, and murderers, as virtuous; and whereas a horrid, bloody, secret plan, upheld, sanctioned, and largely patronized by men in Nauvoo and out of it, who boast that all they want for the word “go,” to exterminate or ruin the Latter Day Saints, is, for them to do “one” unlawful act, and the work shall be done, is now fostered, cherished, and maturing in Nauvoo; by men too who helped to obtain the very charter they would break; and some of them drew up and voted for the very ordinances they are striving to use as a “scarecrow” to frighten the surrounding country in rebellion, mobbing and war; and whereas, while the blood of our brethren from wells, holes, and naked prairies, and the ravishment of female virtue from Missouri, and the smoke from the altars of infamy, prostituted by John C. Bennett, and continued in the full tide of experiment and disgraceful damnation, by the very self-called fragments of a body of degraded men that have got up a press in Nauvoo, to destroy the charter of the city; to destroy Mormonism, men, women, and children, as Missouri did, by force of arms; by fostering laws that emanate from corruption, and betray with a kiss; wherefore to honor the State of Illinois, and those patriots who gave the charter, and for the benefit, convenience, health, and happiness of said city:
That’s the preamble to the ordinance and 3 sections follow it containing the action items of the ordinance itself. I struggle with how to properly deal with the preamble because it is absolutely brimming with propaganda and a one-sided telling of the story. What is notable, however, is that the mentality captured here is the same mentality held by millions of Mormons today. A people constructing their lives around propaganda like this are infantilized; their perception of reality effectively warped to see anything and everything that happens around them being relative to this propaganda. They cede control of their lives to the people who sit atop this system and give that license for those select few to do whatever necessary to preserve the celestial monarchy. Mind control is a complicated tool in the cult-leader’s toolbox but this ordinance is a masterclass of how it works. It is because this propaganda is so effective and resonates with members today that wrongdoing and immorality on the part of church leaders is justified. The act of open tyranny of burning down a hostile printing press is justified because the people who published it were anti-Mormons and it was nothing more than a rag of lies. To this day, a standing challenge by friend of the show Jonathan Streeter has never been answered. Streeter offers a cash reward to anybody who can disprove a single claim made in the Nauvoo Expositor and not a single person has been paid. What that means is it wasn’t this group of 7 publishers who were the enemy of Joseph Smith and his criminal empire. It was the truth that was the enemy. Any system of beliefs that requires their members to treat facts and truth as the enemy is not worthy of preservation. It only deserves derision, ridicule, and exposure. I digress. Let’s get into the actual ordinances after the preamble.
Sec. 1. Be it ordained by the City council of the city of Nauvoo, that if any person or persons shall write or publish in said city, any false statement, or libel any of the citizens, for the purpose of exciting the public mind against the chartered privileges, peace, and good order of said city, or shall slander,… any portion of the inhabitants of said city, or bribe any portion of the citizens of said city for malicious purposes, or in any manner or form excite the prejudice of the community against any portion of the citizens of said city, for evil purposes, he, she, or they, shall be deemed disturbers of the peace, and upon conviction before the Mayor, or Municipal Court, shall be fined in any sum not exceeding five hundred dollars, or imprisoned six months, or both, at the discretion of said Mayor or court.
Let’s deal with that. Anybody who publishes any false statement or libels or slanders any figure, which is just another way of referring to “false statements,” is fined $500 or imprisoned or both. How do we determine what is or is not a false statement against people in the city? How this should work is a person publishes a statement about Joseph Smith, then he sues them for slander or libel, then the suit is taken to a court and the parties enter discovery where the underlying facts can be determined. If the statement is false, the people owe damages to Joseph Smith. If the statement is true then the suit is dismissed and Joseph owes legal fees to the parties. That’s how this would work in a normal world where everybody abided by the same system of laws, but this was Joseph Smith’s theocracy. Nothing was fair and he’d done everything in his power to be completely untouchable. Instead, what this would amount to is the person publishing statements that Jo deems to be false. He would sue them in the Nauvoo Municipal Court and the statements would be compared against Jo’s public declarations. Witnesses would be produced on behalf of Joseph Smith and the any witnesses who testified in behalf of the publisher of the so-called false statements would be equally branded as an enemy to the prophet and gospel. Then the municipal court would rule in favor of Joseph Smith and the people would be fined $500 or imprisoned or both. Who would determine what the punishment would be? Joseph Goddamn Smith. He was absolutely out of control and he only played by the rules of his own system of laws. Plus, he had years of public statements by which to compare the allegations in the Nauvoo Expositor. He’d stated so many times in public that spiritual wifery wasn’t going on in Nauvoo and even if it was it was only because that horrible guy John C. Bennett was doing it. He’d lied so much as a prophet of god that it could reasonably be assumed that if he filed a lawsuit against the publishers of the Nauvoo Expositor that he’d win the case. He constantly lied but he was untouchable because Nauvoo was his criminal empire. This ordinance is, by absolute terms, completely fascist in nature. I don’t use that term lightly, listeners. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever actually used the term on the show before now, but it’s perfectly fitting. This is authoritarian and nationalist when the nation is the Mormon nation of Zion. It’s an exercise of dictatorial power. It is forcible suppression of any opposition. The bill of rights was crafted with multiple provisions to counter somebody like Joseph Smith rising to power out of pure populism and theocratic control. The first amendment of free speech is directly violated with this provision. The execution of this ordinance could be construed as a violation of the fourth amendment as it was an unlawful entrance by law enforcement officials to seize the property of private citizens. The result of the ordinance completely did away with the concept of a right to a speedy or fair trial before a grand jury because those concepts were impossible to attain in Nauvoo so the 5th and 6th amendments were violated. Imprisoning people or fining them $500, or both, for publishing a document in opposition to a public figure is absolutely cruel and unusual punishment given the crime so it clearly violates the 8th amendment. Every single direction you analyze this first provision in the ordinance and the eventual execution of it, Joseph Smith violated at least half of the first amendments written into the Bill of Rights. For all of Nauvoo history, Joseph Smith grew increasingly fascist and this ordinance being passed was the culmination of his dictatorship reaching the pinnacle of its history. Let’s read section 2 of the ordinance.
Sec. 2. Be it further ordained, that nothing in the foregoing section shall be so construed as to interfere with the right of any person to be tried by a jury of his vicinage; with the freedom of speech, or the liberty of the press, according to the most liberal meaning of the constitution, the dignity of freemen, the voice of truth, and the rules of virtue.
This second section is pure lip-service to insulate the ordinance from being thrown out in total based on constitutional grounds. It states explicitly that it shouldn’t be construed as violating freedom of speech so if you interpret it that way it’s your fault and you’re choosing to be offended. The third section just says it goes into effect immediately upon passage, which was a direct violation of the Nauvoo Charter as it required ordinances to be published before they went into effect, but the city council violating its own charter is almost funny at this point, isn’t it. This is small potatoes compared to the power granted by this ordinance.
I have a bit more to say about the ordinance but we’ll save that for the end. During the city council meeting when this was proposed, the council deliberated about it for hours. They passed it that evening after all the deliberation, but there was another interlocking piece to the council meeting and that was with regards to how to implement this new ordinance with respect to the Nauvoo Expositor. Much of the rest of the meeting is various aldermen and Jo bickering about whether or not the Nauvoo Expositor could be classified as a public nuisance now that it had been deemed a libelous publication by the ordinance. Let’s get into the meeting minutes.
Mayor [Joseph Smith] said—if he had a city council who felt as he did, the estalbishmnt, (refering to the Nauvoo Expostor) would be a Nuisan[c]e before night.—and read an Editorial from the 2d No of the Nauvoo Expositor who ever said a word vs Judge Emmons until he has attacked this counil.—or ag[a]in[s]t, J[oseph] H. Jackson. or the Laws until they have come out against the city?—
So now Jo had the ordinance in hand and he needed to get the council to agree the Expositor was a public nuisance before night. Notably, and this has escaped every history I’ve ever read about this meeting, Jo read an editorial from the 2nd number of the Expositor. Which leads me to believe that the 2nd printing was ready to be published when the Expositor was destroyed. That placed a greater sense of urgency on the meeting because it was supposed to be a weekly issue and time was ticking. The fact that Jo had the next edition in his hand means he knew what they were going to publish next. We don’t know. Historians don’t know because of what occurred that night, but Jo knew and he took that information with him to the grave. Whatever was in that second edition could never see the light of day. The first edition was already causing enough damage and the next edition was clearly seen as a second wind of a raging storm the empire couldn’t withstand. Next Jo says:
Here is a paper (Neauvoo Expositor.) that is exciting.—our enemies abroad,-- Joseph H. Jackson. has been proved—a murderer before this Council. and delard [declared] the paper a nuisance.
a greater nuisanc than a dead carcase—they make a criminality for a man to have a wife on the earth while he has one in heaven—according to the keys of the holy pristhood,…
Joseph H. Jackson is super tough to deal with. I’ll tell you what, let’s get into him next week to contextualize a bit of his name making so many appearances in these city council meetings. But, for now, according to Jo, Jackson even agreed with Jo that the paper was a public nuisance and he was a murderer so we can trust his judgement, right? The next point, however, is such a bastardization of the polygamy revelation that I’m legitimately stunned by it. They (meaning the publishers of the Expositor) make a criminality for a man to have a wife on earth while he has one in heaven. That is so brazenly and bold-faced lying by Joseph Smith and so clearly not the issue at hand. There’s absolutely nothing in the Nauvoo Expositor about serial monogamy or people marrying again after divorce or widowing. That is so clearly not the problem it was raising with polygamy and Joseph Smith is absolutely egregiously lying when he brings up this point. He knows how wrong that assertion is and what’s worse is he’s completely shameless about lying this openly and obscuring the truth. What a pathetic display of human character this is. Joseph Smith was a small and weak man who thrived off deception and predation. When people got mad at him for being a predator and raping people in every sense of the word, his true colors shine through the historical record. He continues to gaslight the entire proceeding with what he states next.
Read statemets from Austin Cowles--& said he had never had any privite conversation with Austin Cowles on these subjcts, that he preahed on the stand from the bible showing the order in ancient days having nothing to do with the present time.
This was the point Jo made in the city council meeting 2 days ago. The argument is that the revelation referred to in the Nauvoo Expositor was to explain how god allowed the prophets of old to have multiple wives but that the revelation was merely clarifying why it wasn’t a sin back then. Once again this is so blatantly dishonest it boggles the mind. The revelation, which you can read by opening up any modern-day D&C to section 132, uses biblical prophets as justification for the “New and everlasting covenant unto my people”. It doesn’t clarify that the biblical prophets weren’t sinning in god’s eyes out of mere curiosity, it does so to justify practicing it in Nauvoo. Jo had painted himself so deep into this corner and he resorted to his oldest habit of constant and brazen lying to try and extricate himself from the hardship but that doesn’t fly. He was lying. He knew he was lying. The majority of the people sitting in the council that day knew he was lying. Anybody who knows Nauvoo history and reads this knows he was lying. He was lying to cover his own ass because he thought he was going to make it through this storm just like he had every other storm to this point. He continues his lying screed by vilifying the publishers by calling them the opposition party and making assumptions about their motives. Of course, none of them were allowed into this meeting to tell their side of the story.
What the opposition party wanted was to raise a mob on us and take the spoil of us as they did in Missouri
Fearmongering. Connecting Missouri mobocrats to anybody who opposes the Nauvoo empire. There are so many ways to look at this and I’ll just plant my flag here. Jo deserved the mob. The Mormons didn’t the wider Mormon leadership didn’t deserve a mob coming into Nauvoo to arrest Joseph Smith but Jo himself deserved some form of justice. He should have faced the gallows half a decade ago if Missouri hadn’t botched the Missouri-Mormon war inquiry but since then Jo was living on borrowed time. I’m an avowed pacifist but by the legal standards of the day Joseph absolutely deserved the death penalty and I have absolutely no remorse in holding that opinion. He’d built his life on lies and the bodies of his legion of sycophants. He raped women and girls through deliberate and years’ long grooming processes. He abused his power and was a corrupt monster. Any punishment a vigilante mob could dish out to him wouldn’t be enough to pay for how disgraceful and evil Joseph Smith was.
The next passage is cryptic and requires some background. Robert B. Thompson was Jo’s personal scribe off and on throughout the last couple years of Kirtland, all of Missouri, and the first two years of Nauvoo. Robert B. Thompson and Jo’s youngest brother, Don Carlos Smith, worked together in a dank and smelly basement printing the Times and Seasons from 1839 to 1841. Unexpectedly, both of them died. Historians have pointed to the basement they were working in having some kind of mold or fungus growing on the walls which caused respiratory failure for both of them as they died around the same time. Notably, however, both were anti-polygamists when the practice was beginning to expand beyond just Joseph Smith having a few clandestine wives nobody knew about. Thompson and Don Carlos had a conversation about polygamy and Don Carlos called it from the devil. A few weeks later both were dead and only 3 months after that Jo took Don Carlos’s widow Agnes Coolbrith Smith Smith as a plural wife.
Why is that relevant? Because of this little cryptic line Jo said in the city council meeting.
Said that he had as much as he could do to keep his clerk [Robert B.] Thompson from publishing the proceedings of the Laws. and caused the people to—
And there it’s cut off. Robert B. Thompson was dead for 3 years before the Laws became enemies of Joseph Smith. What was he saying? What was he talking about? And why is it cut off in the middle of the sentence? The Nauvoo Expositor was publishing the proceedings of polygamy in Nauvoo, was Robert B. Thompson contemplating the same before his abrupt illness ended his life? I don’t know what to make of it but what Jo said after it that was picked up by the clerk is interesting.
said he [Joseph Smith] would rather die to morrow and have the thing [Expositor printing press] smashed,--than live & have it go on.
I’ve never seen a prophecy from Joseph Smith come true so spectacularly and accurately as this. The meeting kind of scatters around from denying the revelation as being current, to slandering the Laws, to more outright lies from both Jo and Hyrum sidekick-Abiff Smith. A guy named Peter Haws was sworn in to testify about Wilson Law. We’ve only ever referred to Haws before and always in connection with the Nauvoo House project. He’s just a run-of-the-mill Joseph Smith sycophant but he took the stand to provide his testimony about some very disturbing conduct by Wilson Law. It’s tough to know whether these allegations are true because the women themselves were absolutely NEVER called in to testify about stuff like this. What’s more troubling about it is the things Haws claims Wilson Law did are exactly what Jo had done to victimize women and girls many times.
Peter Hawes referrd to <a> Mr Smith who came from Englad,— and was taken sick,— and died, The children had no one to p[r]otect them, <there was> one girl 16 or 17 years old.— & a yonger sister.— witness took in these girls out of pity. Wilson Law was familiar with the oldest daughter, witness cautiond the girl.— wilson was soon th[e]re again and out in the evinng [evening]. Charged the girl & she confimd [confirmed] to witness wife Wilson had seduced her. Witness told her he could not keep her— girls wept and made much ado— made meny p[r]omises— witness told her if she would do right she might stay, but she did not, keep— Wilson came & she wint agin.—
It’s super hard to know what is real here because these witnesses were called to vindicate Jo and vilify the Laws, but maybe Wilson Law was also a predator. We saw the character assassination campaign very successfully executed against Charles A. Foster on the episode about the Fosters and witnesses were produced to turn him into a complete monster who sexually assaulted 3 different women. Whether Charles Foster did it or not is a tough question just like with Wilson Law here. We do know that if these men were raping women they were doing so using the same justifications Joseph Smith was using to justify his rape. That it was right in biblical times and it’s a new and everlasting covenant. The where there was no witness there was no crime and there was no sin in it if she kept the secret to herself. God it would have sucked to be a woman living in Nauvoo at this time. I mean it would have sucked for anybody but being the constant prey of this rape cabal is just more than I can even begin to wrap my mind around.
Next Hyrum takes seriously his duty as Sidekick-Abiff by taking the stand.
C. H. Smith.—spoke to show the falsehoods of Austin Cowles in relation to the revelatin referred to.—that it referred to fo[r]mer days—not the presnt time as stated by Cowles.
It’s a lie. It’s just a lie.
Mayor said he had never preched the revelatin in private as he had in public—had not taught <it> to the anointed in the church <in p[r]ivate> which ma[n]y confirmed.—
It wasn’t just Hyrum lying to protect Jo, it was the entire government of the Nauvoo city council. Every single on of them stood up there and lied and those who weren’t insiders either chose to believe the lies or just live with cognitive dissonance.
Then Jo continued to talk on the stand about eternal marriage and how in the resurrection people aren’t married. Anybody who isn’t married on earth with eternal sealing powers must remain as angles in heaven. However, he wraps the screed with an actionable item which became the focus of the meeting from that time forward.
In explanation of the principls was willing for one to subscribe his name to declare that paper & the whole establishmnt a nnuisance.
After Jo said that they adjourned for lunch and reconvened 41 minutes later and read the ordinance we opened the show with again and Jo amended the language a little bit. After these additions, if the implications of the meeting weren’t clear enough Jo made a stand and drew a line.
Mayor said no man would join the [illegible] who <votes> not guilty.
What is that illegible word!?! Annie and I both spent way too much time on this word and the only thing we could make of it was “clayed,” which was a common poetic term for the body separate from the spirit. At least, that’s the only word that sort of fits within the context and the written word looks to spell “clayed”. The point remains the same, if a person votes not guilty on the Nauvoo Expositor being a public nuisance, they are not of the body of the leadership. Therefore, that person has now become an enemy in league with the Expositor publishers.
The actionable item came up for a vote, proposed by Mayor king Jo.
Motioned by Mayor 2d by C. H. Smith that the bill pass and carried unanimously:--satisfied with title “An ordinance concerning libels and for other purposes.”
Mayor Said the Constitution did not authorize <the> press to publish Libels—And proposed the council make some provision for putting-down the Nauvoo Expositors.
Now the ordinance we read through earlier was voted on and accepted as a new ordinance governing the city of Nauvoo. As the astute legal scholar he was, Jo determined that the Nauvoo Expositor was an unacceptable form of free-speech. Unfortunately the Constitution doesn’t address libel or slander directly, it merely creates the provision for freedom of speech. State constitutions and laws govern how slander and libel cases are handled but the federal constitution does nothing of the sort so he’s either lying or ignorant or a dangerous dose of both. He did have a point though, just passing the ordinance didn’t deal with the problem at hand with any sense of immediacy because he’d need to sue the publishers of the Expositor and take them through the courts to get an injunction against them continuing to print. Because the circuit court was out of session in June until October, that would take months before going into effect and who knows what they’d print in that intervening period. Time was of the essence and if he could get the city council to agree that the Expositor was a public nuisance then they’d have some semblance of pseudo-legal justification for immediately halting its print.
The council sent Marshal John P. Greene to acquire a copy of the Expositor and its prospectus from May 10th, after which Jo read some portions of it to the council where it just says “and spoke at great length” without any further detail. After Jo talked for a while on this, Hyrum took the stand to back up his little brother. Then John Taylor, second prophet of the Salt Lake City church, concurred.
C. H. Smith spoke in favor of declaring the Expositor a Nuisance
C. [John] Taylor said no city on earth would bear such slander and he would not bear it.—and spoke decidedly in favor of active measures.—
They went back and forth on this for a while even calling on the names of William and Wilson Law as well as the editor of the Expositor, Sylvester Emmons.
C. Taylor—continud Wilson Law was presidnt of this council—Wm Law. & [Sylvester] Emenos were members--&Emmons has never objected to any ordinance—has been more like a cypher—and read from the constitution of the U.S. on freedom of the press.—we are willing th[e]y should publish the truth—but the paper is a nuisanc—and stinks in the nose of every honest man.—
After John Taylor spoke about the freedom of speech not covering the Nauvoo Expositor because the city government doesn’t agree with it, the council heard “Resolution <on> nuisances read—“. We’ll get to that resolution soon here but the deliberations which follow it provide a window into what the council was discussing.
C. [George P.] Stiles spoke Nuisanc is any thing distu[r]bs the peace of community.--&Read. Chitty’s Blackston page 4. Priest wrongs Vol 2,--and said the whole commun[i]ty have to rest under the stigma of these faslehoods—if we can prevnt the issiung of any more slanderouss <communications> he would go in for it.—it is right for this community to show a proper resentmnt—I would go in for suppressing all further publicants of the kind.—
A public nuisance is something which had been leveraged in Nauvoo before; like in the case of John C. Wreck-it Bennett’s brothel when the city decided to dump the whole building in a ditch. But, the way they’re currently utilizing public nuisance was exactly unconstitutional and absolutely no reading of any ordinance concerning public nuisances would allow government officials to burn down a printing press. Imagine if my neighbors car alarm going off 6 times a day was something I declared as a public nuisance, that doesn’t give me license to set their car on fire. I’d like to read out of the same book these guys read, Blackstone’s 1840 commentary on law, which summarizes this council meeting incredibly well just one page after what they read.
The mischiefs that have arisen to the public from inconsiderate alterations in our laws, are too obvious to be called in question; and how far they have been owing to the defective education of our senators, is a point well worthy the public attention. The common law of England has fared like other venerable edifices of antiquity, which rash and unexperienced workmen have ventured to new-dress and refine, with all the rage of modern improvement. Hence frequently its symmetry has been destroyed, it proportions distorted, and its majestic simplicity exchanged, for specious embellishments and fantastic novelties. For, to say the truth, almost all the perplexed questions, almost all the niceties, intricacies, and delays… owe their original not to the common law itself, but to innovations that have been made in it by acts of parliament, overladen… with provisions and additions, and many times on a sudden penned or corrected by men of none or very little judgement in law.
The guys in this city council were doing just that and fit the bill perfectly of having very little judgement of law. They were fundamentally altering laws and passing ordinances to deal with very specific scenarios and altering or creating them to serve their own spurious ends. That’s great for the moment it passes, at least for them, but the same provisions could be weaponized by an opposition party. Alternate history of Nauvoo could see the Mormon power waning in city government and being held by a majority of non-Mormons declaring the Times & Seasons to be a public nuisance and suddenly the right of the Mormons to free-speech is quashed the way they quashed that of the Expositor publishers in this very council meeting. Laws are made to protect people, not elevate only some people… at least… that’s how it should be. People should not fear their governments; governments should fear their people.
The meeting continues and everybody jumped on board… for the most part.
C. H. Smith be[lie]ved the best way to smash the press all to pieces and pie the type.
<C.> A[aron] Johnson concurrd with what other counsellrs had said,--
A.[Samuel] Bennett referd to the statement of the Expositor relative to the Muncpal cort in case of Jiremah Smith.—considrd it a public Nuissnc
But, the excitement of the meeting was briefly tempered. All these members of the Council wanted to burn the printing press that night, but cooler heads were also present.
B[enjamin]. Warringtn—consi[de]red his peculiar situatin for the city concil to pass this a nuisance would be hasty. & propoe givng a few days limatin [limitation]--& assess a fine of $3000.00 for every libel.--& if they would not cease publishing libe[l]s declare it a nuisance.
This is an interesting solution. Simply fine the publishers $3 grand for every allegation made which was libelous and if they didn’t stop publishing then declare it a nuisance and take action. He simply didn’t want the council to be too hasty in passing this nuisance declaration because he knew things were spiraling out of control. But, the battle lines had been drawn by the Mayor and his response is very telling.
<Mayor was sorry to have one dissentig voice-->
Anybody dissenting during this meeting was immediately on the outs and Benjamin Warrington immediately realized his mistake.
C. Warrington did not mean to be undstood to go vs but not be in haste
He was simply trying to be reasonable but Joseph Smith was not a reasonable man, especially during this time. The council then features Hyrum Smith talking about the property holdings of the publishers, likely within the context of discussing how that property could be leveraged by fining the publishers until the Expositor could be called a public nuisance, like Warrington had suggested. If the city council could just fine these guys every day eventually they could take control of all their property. Really good guys here. Fine publishers of a dissenting press until their property is deeded to the council because of the debt incurred by those fines. But, in answer to Hyrum making this point, Alderman Elias Smith spoke:
conserd there is but on cou[r]se to pursue they were out of the re[a]ch of the law,--one couse to put an end to the thing at once.—beleivd if the city did not do it othrs would.—by what he had heard.
So, if the council doesn’t decide to burn down the Expositor printing press, the people would so we better do it officially instead of leaving it to vigilante Mormon mobs in Nauvoo.
Then Orson Spencer took the floor to deliberate. Worth noting, this is the alderman who had a fight with his brother, Augustine, which spiraled out of control when Marshal John P. Greene tried to arrest him and deputize William Law and the Fosters. In response, Charles Foster pointed a double-barreled pistol at Joseph Smith and nearly shot him on the spot if he hadn’t been disarmed. This is what Orson Spencer says.
Spencer accorded with the viws expersed, that this paper is a nuisane, did not consider it wis[e] to give th[e]m ~~time~~ to trupret [trumpet] a thou[sa]ndl ies this proprty could not pay for.—If we pass only a fine or impisment, have we any confidace that they will d[e]sist? None at all,--fo[u]nd these men [covenant] breakers. with God with their wives. &c. have we any hope of their doing better—Their characters have gone before them…
Shall they be suffrd to go on. No I had rather my blood would be spilld.—and would like to have the press removed as soon as the ordinace will allow,--wished the matter be put in the hnds of the Mayor and evry body stand by him,--in the excutin of his duties.—and hush evry murmur—
Then councilor Levi Richards took the floor to concur in what was passing. The reasonable voices like that of Benjamin Warrington were simply not welcome in this meeting.
Richards said he had felt deeply on this subject.—and concurred fully in gen smiths views as expressed this day.—considrd private interest as nothing in comparison with the public good. Eve[r]y time a line was formed in Far West he was thence, for what, to defend themse[l]ves agant just such schoudrels [scoundrels] as as are now fighting agist us.— considerd the doings of the counil this day of immence moment. not to this city alone but to the whole wold.— would go in to put a stop to this thing at once—— Let the thing be throwd out of this city— and have the responsbity [responsibility] off his shouldare & let it fall on, the state of Illins Gov—
Solidifying the connection between so-called persecution in Missouri with the so-called persecution of the Nauvoo Expositor, councilor Phineas Richards took the floor with a personal touch.
C. P[hineas] Richards . . . referd to the scurry at Haun Mills— & the death of his son at that place. I said he could not sit still when he saw the same spirit arisng in this place.—— and he considrd the publis[h]ers of the Expostors as much murderes at heart as David was before the death of Uriah. <was for making a shrt wor[k] of it——> was prepard to take his stnd by the Mayor & whatevr he propse [proposed] would stnd by by him to the last—— the quicker it is stopped the bettr.—
Now they needed an astute legal mind to give them license to carry this out with some form of quasi-legal justification. William Wines Double-dub Phelps took the floor to provide the assurance the council sought.
C. Phelps—— had investigatd the constitutin, Chater, & laws.— the power to declare that office a nuisac is grnted to us in the Springfield Chater, and a relosutin [resolution] dclaring it a nuisane is all that is reqired.
After Phelps told everybody they could burn down the Expositor printing press, a cooler head once again spoke up. The meeting was obviously trending toward burning it to the ground before nightfall and Stephen Markham decided it was time to consider the consequences once the public nuisance order was carried into effect.
This was a legitimate fear. Markham was a cool-headed and calculating guy. He was trusted enough by Jo to handle church finances that when we introduced him over 100 episodes ago I gave him the name of piggy-bank Steve. Markham knew that destroying the Expositor would bring out the city in riots and the outside forces opposed to Mormon tyranny would become increasingly excited at this overt action of fascism. However, his collected and intelligent council was not heeded.
Aldrman Harris spoke from the chiar, exprssed his feeligs that the p[r]ess ought to be demolish
Resoluti[o]n on the printing press. Read, and passed.
Here’s the text of the resolution from page 535 of volume 6 of the Vogel HoC
Resolved by the City Council of the city of Nauvoo, that the printing-office from whence issues the Nauvoo Expositor is a public nuisance, and also all of said Nauvoo Expositors, which may be, or exist in said establishment, and the Mayor is instructed to cause said printing establishment and papers to be removed without delay, in such manner as he shall direct. Passed June 10, 1844 GEO[RGE] W. HARRIS President pro tem. W. Richards, Recorder.
The die had been cast and everybody’s fate was set. The Council meeting adjourned at 10 minutes past 6 and Jo immediately wrote two orders.
To the marshal of said City, greeting:
You are hereby commanded to destroy the printing press from whence issues the Nauvoo Expositor, and pi the type of said printing establishment in the street, and burn all the Expositors and libelous handbills found in said establishment, and if resistance be offered to your execution of this order by the owners or others, demolish the house; and if anyone threatens you, or the Mayor, or the officers of the city, arrest those who threaten you, and fail not to execute this order without delay; and make due return hereon.
By order of the City Council, JOSEPH SMITH, Mayor.
This was the order by Joseph Smith to the marshal, John P. Greene to burn the Nauvoo Expositor to the ground. If anybody opposes this action or threatens him or Joseph Smith, arrest them. Jo also knew this would likely cause a riot so he wrote a second order, this time to Jonathan Dunham, Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion since John C. Wreck-it Bennett had resigned his position in the Legion and left the city.
You are hereby commanded to hold the Nauvoo Legion in readiness forthwith to assist the Marshal of said city to execute the city ordinanes, and especially to remove the printing establishment of the Nauvoo Expositor, and this you are required to do at sight, under the penalty of the laws; provided the Marshal shall require it, and need your services. JOSEPH SMITH, Lieut.-General Nauvoo Legion.
It wasn’t just Marshal John P. Greene who was commanded to destroy the Expositor printing press, the entire Nauvoo Legion was put on guard in case a riot broke out. This was an unofficial declaration of martial law in Nauvoo for the space of one evening which was absolutely necessary because at approximately 8 p.m., less than 2 hours after the city council meeting adjourned, Marshal Greene gathered his supplies, some kerosene and fire-lighting implements. Jonathan Dunham gathered a few captains of the Legion with their platoons, and a mob of a few dozen men, acting under direct order from Joseph Smith, gathered on the street in front of the Expositor printing press with their torches blazing.
As evening turned into twilight and the sun set on this warm and muggy evening of June 10, 1844, Marshal John P. Green broke into the office housing the Nauvoo Expositor printing press by bashing through the door with a sledgehammer. A few dozen men, estimates and participants vary depending on the account, but some say as many as hundreds of men, pushed into the door behind the Marshal. Inside the office they found hundreds of pages of printed paper drying, reams of clean paper awaiting words, the printing press machine itself, and the type cases containing thousands of little metal letters and hundreds of type cassettes to contain the words calculated to bring a religious empire to its knees. One account claimed Joseph Smith was a participant in this monumental event but every one of the men there that night had sworn oaths to uphold the duties of their offices as members of the city peace officers, members of the Nauvoo Legion, or members of the secretive shadow squad, the Danites.
As these men pushed into the office, they ransacked it. Every ream of paper was dragged out of the office, the drawers of the type cases were ripped open and the type tossed out onto the street in front of the office. Stacks of the second edition of the Expositor, awaiting dissemination, were thrown into the street. Then, these men resorted to their most basic instincts. I don’t like something, so I’ll smash it. Each man, armed with pistols, swords, bowie knives, muskets, sledgehammers, and myriad other destructive implements, swung their weapons around with absolute reckless abandon. Walls, desks and counters, furniture, everything was destroyed. They paid special attention to the printing press itself. The pulled it up from its moorings in the floor and half a dozen men dragged the massive iron implement, probably weighing over a thousand pounds, into the street with all the paper and type. Then… they went to work on it. Each man wielding a sledgehammer took swing after swing. Blow after blow slammed into the garter and spindle, the coffin and stone, ripped the handles from their mechanisms, blew holes in the carriage, ripped off the plank; after a few minutes the press was unrecognizable as a machine of equal amounts information and disinformation. The printing office was destroyed. The press was destroyed. Hundreds of dollars of paper and typeset were destroyed and the entire pile of paper, press, and type was set ablaze. The flame grew and grew until it consumed all the paper and turned the small metal type pieces underneath it to smoldering chunks of smoke-colored iron. The press itself would never be usable again.
A fire brings out the neighborhood nowadays but in the 1840s with no fire department, no fire engines, and only bucket brigades to answer the call, the townsfolk of Nauvoo gathered to witness what was going on. Upon arriving to the blaze from wherever they came, citizens saw the marshal, possibly hundreds of Nauvoo Legionnaires, and a pile of paper and twisted metal burning dozens of feet high in the middle of the street.
John P. Greene, city Marshal of Nauvoo who executed the Mayor’s orders, scribbled on a piece of paper and sent it to Jo with one sentence that would spell the death of the prophet. “The within-named press and type is destroyed and pied according to order, on this 10th day of June, 1844, at about 8 o’clock, p.m. J.P. GREENE, C.M.”
Look… society isn’t equipped to handle people like Joseph Smith. We all abide by a system of laws and an unwritten set of manners within the social contract. Those who don’t abide by the system fall into a category of either punishment by the system or benefitting from the manipulation of that system of society. Jo did everything in his power to be on the latter end of that equation and doing so required he act in deplorable and monstrous ways. He was immune to the laws. He was a predator upon anything to satisfy his avarice. He was a tyrant to opposition. He was, in every sense of the phrase, a force of nature to be reckoned with. Laws exist to stop people like Joseph Smith but what if he doesn’t agree to them? Hey, you can’t do that! Yeah? And what if I do? Well… you can’t! Well I say that I can and you can’t stop me. We’ll throw you in jail if you do that! Jo’s only retort, I’d like to see you try. Living this life may have been exciting and dangerous, but it wasn’t sustainable. He’d rolled 7s so many times and his luck was bound to run out. A person can only piss off so many people before those people become mad as hell and stand up in defiance and say I’m not going to take it anymore. The Expositor publishers did just that. Jo took the blow and fired one back. Like a warrior with a pin-sized wound unaware of a punctured vital organ, that first shot would prove to be enough. But a wounded animal is always the most dangerous.
Copyright Ground Gnomes LLC subject to fair use. Citation example: "Naked Mormonism Podcast (or NMP), Ep #, original air date 04/10/2020"