Ep 134 – BM Pt. 10 @OrsonHydeYoWife
On this episode, the election of 1842 has far-reaching consequences. We begin with a number of people getting sick in Nauvoo, then discuss the various meetings held to carry out the bankruptcy proceedings of prominent Nauvoo Mormons and all the drama with “lost” letters. Then we get into what the newly-elected representatives of Illinois had planned to attempt curtailing the political power and corruption in Nauvoo. William Smith opposes. After that, we go on a lightning round to finish out 1842 so we can begin 1843 in 2019 with a clean slate.
Times & Seasons Autumn 1842
Nauvoo Politics EoM
History of Illinois by Thomas Ford
Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde Smith Smith Hyde
‘Crazy’ Willey Smith
Orson Pratt in Nauvoo
List of Joseph Smith’s Wives
JS Journal Dec 1841-1842
Music by Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.com/
Show Artwork http://weirdmormonshit.com/
Legal Counsel http://patorrez.com/
Autumn into Winter 1842 was a tumultuous time in Nauvoo. Most of September was spent in meetings instructing the various elders on how to preach Jo’s history in order to put out the fires set by Wreck-it Bennett’s lectures. Most of September Jo was confined to the home caring for Emma who was nearing death due to illness. This was common of the day. People taking ill would reach a certain point and be announced as taken into death. Emma wasn’t quite that far gone, but she succumbed to an unknown disease at the beginning of the month and Jo’s journal is replete with entries through all of September of caring for her.
It’s tough to know what may or may not have afflicted various people at this time. I would postulate that Jo’s life at this time involved possibly dozens of sexual partners, maybe that has something to do with it. Think about a day in Jo’s life at the end of 1842. He spent his time in Nauvoo away from the public eye. He won the favor and pity of anybody who believed the prophet persecuted as the first Christians, nay even Jesus himself, were. A couple of his wives lived with him at this time, but he had upwards of possibly 17 women who had been wedded to him by the end of this year. Those were merely official sealings, which says nothing of his possible concubines.
It should be no mystery why Emma sent so many notes to Jo telling him that she would be able to conceal and keep him safe at the home, he was probably spending some nights out and leaving Emma a worried mess taking care of the kids and the household. Then, he spends time at home, Emma falls ill with an unknown disease. It was getting into winter time as well so it could be any number of colds or infections.
Jo’s conduct had thrown so many people under the bus by this point, people who’d been long-trusted Mormon elites. The Hingepin Rigdon family was compromised in Jo’s mind, Sarah Pratt had cast the prophet’s reputation into question and had dragged Orson Brain-Power Pratt into the fray. William and Wilson Law were speaking of Jo in less-favorable terms than before. William Marks was a close confidant of Hingepin Rigdon and was a vicious antagonist of plural marriage. People who this time last year were trusted and had no inkling of malfeasance by the prophet were seeing him in a whole new skeptical light. Who was a Bennett loyalist, who was loyal to the prophet? Fealties required testing to verify certain elites would stand by the prophet’s side. Orson Pratt was first with an open letter sent 26 September 1842 and published in the next issue of the Nauvoo Wasp.
Dear Sir:--I noticed in the last week’s Wasp a letter from Dr. R. D. Foster, written from New York city, which states that Dr. John C. Wreck-it Bennett had declared in said city, that he had received a letter from me and from my wife, and that we were preparing to leave and expose Mormonism.
I wish through the medium of your paper, to say to the public that said statements are entirely false. We have never at any time, written any letter or letters to Dr. J. C. Bennett, on any subject whatever. Neither are we “preparing to leave and expose Mormonism,” but intend to make Nauvoo our residence, and Mormonism our motto.
Respectfully, ORSON PRATT
Hingepin Rigdon was next. His loyalty couldn’t be tested by publishing an open letter in the Wasp. Instead, he decided to go on an errand for the prophet to collect information. We’ll talk about what this really means after I read it, please bear with me.
HoC Vogel 5:154
[Oct 5] Elder Rigdon called Elder William Clayton into his office and said he had some matters to make known. He had been at Carthage and had conversation with Judge Douglas concerning Governor Carlin’s proceedings, &c., and had ascertained that Carlin had intentionally issued an illegal writ expecting thereby to draw President Joseph to Carthage to get acquitted by Habeas Corpus before Douglas, and having men there waiting with a legal writ to serve on Joseph as soon as he was released under the other one, and bear him away to Missouri, without further ceremony. Elder Rigdon asked what power the GOvernor’s proclamation gave to any man or set of men who might be disposed to take President Joseph. He was answered, “Just the same power and authority which a legal warrant gave to an officer.”
It is more and more evident that Carlin is determined to have me taken to Missouri if he can; but may the Almighty Jehovah shield and defend me from all their power, and prolong my days in peace, that I may guide his people in righteousness, until my head is white with old age. Amen.
All the political conflicts discussed last episode were only escalating as Governor Carlin’s term was nearing its end. He didn’t want his otherwise good legacy sullied by the Mormon prophet continuing to go free as a fugitive. Why did Hingepin Rigdon travel to Carthage to gain this information in the first place? That’s was due to some intel the Mormon hierarchy had come into contact with which must have shown the urgency with which Governor Carlin was handling this last issue on his docket before he left office.
[2 Oct 1842] About 10 o’clock in the forenoon a messenger arrived from Quincy, stating that the Governor had offered a reward of $200 for Joseph Smith… and also $200 for Orrin P. Rockwell.
This report was fully established on receipt of the mail papers. The Quincy Whig also stated that Governor Reynolds has offered a reward, and published the Governor’s proclamation offering a reward of $300 for Joseph Smith… and $300 for Orrin P. Rockwell. It is not expected that much will be effected by the rewards.
Governor Carlin of Illinois didn’t want his reputation sullied by the criminal empire raging in his state without any results. However, Governor Reynolds of Missouri was only 2 years into his 4-year term. He had made it his personal mission to apprehend the fugitives who’d attempted to take the life of his predecessor, Governor Lilburn Boggs. As a result of these motivations approaching vendettas, it seems that the HoC claims that Governor Carlin had issued $200 bounties on Jo and Pistol Packin’ Porter Rockwell at the same time that Governor Reynolds had issued $300 bounties a piece. Yet, here Jo concludes that ‘it is not expected that much will be effected by the rewards.’ Yeah, $500 worth of bounties on each of them from 2 different state governors, not Sheriffs, but governors, wouldn’t result in anything… Just how safe did Jo think he was?
Don’t forget that back in early September, when the sheriff searched the Smith home and Jo slipped out the back into the cornfield, he and a few of his posse had said they were there to take Jo dead or alive. Dead or alive vs. $500 bounties are very different things. Dead or Alive was usually only issued in cases of dangerous violent criminals. Was Jo dangerous? Maybe not directly, but he had a militia of 2,000 fighting men who’d crowd the streets of Nauvoo at a moments notice if they received word the prophet was in trouble. That made him INCREDIBLY dangerous. Yes, an armed criminal is dangerous. A criminal with his own army is a force of nature.
What I find interesting about this ordeal is the title of this section in the History of the Church. It’s “Plots to entrap Joseph Smith”. Entrapment is something with a strict legal definition. When an undercover police officer persuades somebody to commit a crime who otherwise wouldn’t have committed it and then arrests them for that crime, that’s entrapment. The only way this works is by the colloquial definition of capturing somebody in a trap, but even that isn’t a proper definition when we examine all the facts. What Jo and the history of the church call entrapment is merely attempting to execute an arrest warrant that was issued by the Governor of the state. At no point is Joseph Smith called a fugitive in this whole ordeal, but that’s exactly what he was.
Being a fugitive doesn’t necessarily mean the person is guilty of a crime, it merely means they’re actively evading arrest and the resulting trial which would ascertain guilt or innocence. Joseph Smith was a fugitive. However, he had some powerful allies on his side who saw what was really happening. One of these prominent allies was James Arlington Bennett, the newly appointed Major General and inspector general of the Nauvoo Legion, who lived in New York. Arlington Bennett sent a letter to his good friend and personal aid-de camp, Gordon Bennett, who subsequently published the letter in his paper, the New York Herald. This letter really shows that Arlington Bennett saw what was happening from a ten thousand foot view. He knew what was happening, he knew the evidence Missouri had against Jo for the Lilburn Boggs assassination attempt, and he knew the reality of what persecution narratives create in religions. Arlington Bennett truly was an astute and intelligent observer of events. Given the content of this letter I’d be quicker to call Arlington Bennett a prophet than Joseph Smith.
Referring to the previous letter exchange between Arlington Bennett and Jo, this is how the open letter begins from HoC 5:157
In this letter I expressed my regret that the quarrel between him and John C. Wreck-it Bennett should have at all found its way to the public eye, this being the sole cause of placing him in his present awkward situation. I likewise commiserated with him in his affliction, and signed myself, at the conclusion of my letter, as his friend, which I really am, and the friend of all good Mormons, as well as other good men.
Why should I not be Joseph Smith’s firnd? He has done nothing to injure me, nor do I believe he has done anything to injure Ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri. The Governor no doubt under strong feelings, may have thought and believed that Smith had preconcerted the plan for his assassination; but there is no legal evidence whatever of that fact, none by which an unprejudiced jury would convict any man; yet to send this man into Missouri, under the present requisition, would be an act of great injustice, as his ruin would be certain.
How could any man, against whom there is a bitter religious prejudice, escape ruin, being in the circumstances of Smith? Look at the history of past ages—see the force of fanaticism and bigotry in bringing to the stake some of the best of men; and in all these cases the persecutors had their pretexts, as well as in the case of the Mormon Chief. Nothing follows its victim with such deadly aim as religious zeal, and therefore nothing should be so much guarded against by the civil power.
Smith, I conceive, has just as good a right to establish a church, if he can do it, as Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Fox, or even King Henry the Eighth. All these chiefs in religion had their opponents, and their people their persecutors. Henry the Eighth was excommunicated, body and bones, soul and all, by his holiness the Pope; still the church of England has lived, as well as all the other sects.
Just so it will be with the Mormons. They may kill one prophet, and confine in chains half his followers, but another will take his place, and the Mormons will still go ahead. One of their Elders said to me, when conversing on this subject, that they were like a mustard plant, “If you don’t disturb it, the seed wil fall and multiply; and if you kick it about, you only give the seed more soil, and it will multiply the more.”
Undertake to convince them that they are wrong, and that Smith is an Impostor, and the answer is, laying the hand on the heart, “I know in my own soul that it is true, and want no better evidence: I feel happy in my faith, and why should I be disturbed?”
Now I cannot see but what this is the sentiment that governs all religiously disposed persons, their object being heaven and happiness, no matter what their church and creed. They therefore cannot be put down while the Constitution of the United States offers them protection in common with all other sects, and while they believe that their eternal salvation is at stake. From what I know of the people, I fully believe that all the really sincere Mormons would die sooner than abandon their faith and their religion.
Gen. John C. Wreck-it Bennett has stated that to conquer the Mormon Legion it would require five to one against them, all things taken into consideration, and that they will die to a man sooner than give up their Prophet.
Now is the arrest of this man worth such a sacrifice of life as must necessarily follow an open war with his people? The loss of, from one to three thousands lives, will no doubt follow in an attempt to accomplish an object not in the end worth a button. Persecute them, and you are sure to multiply them. This is fully proved since the Missouri persecution, as, since that affair, they have increased one hundred fold.
It is the best policy, both of Missouri and Illinois, to le tthem alone; for if they are drove farther west, they may set up an Independent government, under which they can worship the Almighty as may suit their taste. Indeed I would recommend to the Prophet to pull up stakes and take possession of the Oregon Territory in his own right, and establish an independent empire. In one hundred years from this time, no nation on earth could conquer such a people. Let not the history of David be forgotten. If the Prophet Joseph would do this, millions would flock to his standard and join his cause. He could then make his own laws by the voice of revelation, and have them executed like the act of one man.
With respect to myself, I would just repeat that I am the Prophet’s friend, and the friend of his people, merely from sympathy, as my arm has ever been lifted on the side of the persecuted and oppressed…
The Missouri persecution fixed my attention and commiseration on the people. It must be recollected too, that the Mormon Prophet and his people are the most ardent friends and promoters of literature and science. These are elementary principles in their social system, and this certainly, is contrary to everything like despotism.
I hope, therefore, and with great deference express that hope, that Ex-Governor Boggs will withdraw his demand for the Prophet, and let those poor people rest in peace. Both he and Governor Carlin will feel much more at peace with themselves by quashing the whole proceeding.
JAMES ARLINGTON BENNETT
I know that was a long read, but the entire letter is just so fascinating. Arlington Bennett saw the writing on the wall. He had no solution to put down the Mormon empire other than simply allow it to flourish because any action taken against the Mormons would fuel the persecution narrative and simply make more zealous converts. If they suffer enough persecution, they’ll simply migrate west to Oregon and settle their own theocracy under the reign of Joseph Smith. Well, it wasn’t Oregon or Joseph Smith, but the central point Arlington Bennett was making in the letter still held true.
For the rest of the episode today, I’m going to do my best to rapid fire all the significant things that happened for the rest of 1842, let’s see if we can’t wrap up 1842 and start off 2019 fresh in 1843. All of the following events transpired with all the pressures we’ve discussed thus far hanging over the Mormons’ collective head. All the debt, no jobs, trade deficits, Jo evading arrest, Pistol Packin’ Porter on the run, Wreck-it Bennett’s expose being published while he lectures around the nation, polygamy and hiding it from uninitiated Mormons, doctrinal developments with polygamy and baptisms for the dead, political maneuverings preparing for the new Governor and Congressmen to take their positions, and many more I won’t articulate here. All of those pressures existed for the remainder of 1842 we’ll be ripping through at light speed.
Jo had his scribe William Clayton publish an article in the Times and Seasons newspaper that an internal audit of the Nauvoo Temple building committee be conducted. It was found that everything was in order, but the Mormons were becoming more impatient with the slow progress of the Temple, thus inciting the audit in the first place. The solution? Have the building committee install the first floor on top of the existing foundation so the Mormons would have a regular place to meet during the coming winter. The floor was laid with a new shipment of 90,000 feet of boards and 24,000 cubic feet of timber that arrived on Thursday October 13th.
Jo took a trip to the Temple October 29th to see how the completed floor looked. When he returned to his Red Brick Store he found an angry mob of Mormons there who’d just arrived from New York with questions for him concerning the scandalous information Wreck-it Bennett had revealed to the world.
This was Jo’s response:
I showed them that it was generally in consequence of the brethren disregarding or disobeying counsel that they became dissatisfied and murmured, and many when they arrived here were dissatisfied with the conduct of some of the saints, because everything was not done perfectly right, and they get mad and thus the devil gets advantage over them to destroy them. I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them, but if they would bear with my infirmities, and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities.
It’s not so much that they were displeased with his “infirmities” as they were displeased with his hypocrisy and lying. Those are different, but it sure is generous of Jo to deal with their infirmities if they’ll deal with his lying, cheating, and stealing. He concluded the meeting with “I blessed them and departed. The company appear to be in good spirits.”
Emma continued to vacillate from deathly ill to mildly better for the remainder of October and November, which continued to occupy an inordinate amount of Jo’s time. He took the family to see the newly completed temple floor in a wagon on November 1st with the hopes that getting out of the house would help Emma feel better. It didn’t, primarily because Jo crashed the wagon with the kids inside. Apparently, the worst injury was felt by young Frederick Granger Williams Smith, then 6 years old, who got his head banged up pretty good and received a bruise on the cheek from it.
White-out Willard Richards also arrived back in town around this time after preaching in the Eastern States to combat the Bennett Meltdown. He was taken with an illness as well. Hyrum Sidekick Abiff Smith, Wilson Law, Bloody Brigham, Heber the Creeper Kimball, George A. Smith, and Amasa Lyman, all members of the quorum of apostles, also returned from their missions in spreading propaganda to stem the tide of Bennett’s scandalous claims. They apparently returned with good news, according to the History of the Church, anyway. “They bring very good reports concerning the public feeling, and say that John C. Bennett’s expose has done no hurt, but much good.”
Bennett’s expose, The History of the Saints, Or, An Expose of Joe Smith and Mormonism, finally hit the shelves in its fully compiled and bound form. The book was over 350 pages of affidavits, letters, and reprinted exposes from other authors, making the resounding case that Joseph Smith was a fraud and committing the crime of adultery at alarming rates. Further, the expose detailed all the political motivations of the Mormons which caused its own stir in the minds of the gentiles living near the Mormon settlement. Once again, a quick plug, patrons of the show at patreon.com/nakedmormonism are getting that book read in audiobook form along with my commentary to provide context and extra historical details, we’re about halfway through right now. Jo and the Mormons were amidst a major campaign to use the publicity for their benefit, using the old model of there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Bankruptcy proceedings were becoming a tangled mess. The paperwork necessary to file for bankruptcy was overwhelming Jo. A list of assets and creditors needed to be submitted for the Illinois court to judge whether or not bankruptcy was possible. This task occupied many of Jo’s meetings with other church and city government officials throughout the remainder of 1842. Letters were exchanged back and forth among Jo’s creditors, chief of which was Horace Hotchkiss, the guy who owned most of Nauvoo and sold it to Jo on insanely toxic terms. Jo’s letter to him on November 26th reads in part:
… I am as anxious as ever to have the contract continue good between us, and to meet the obligations specified in the contract. I am not, neither have I ever been wishful to shrink from it in any manner whatever, but intend to make payments as fast as my circumstances will admit.
But, sir, you are not unacquainted with the extreme hardness of the times and the great scarcity of money, which put it out of my power to meet all the payments as they fell due, and which has been the cause of any failure on my part, and should you feel disposed not to press the payments but offer a lenity equivalent to the state of the times, then, sire, I shall yet endeavor to make up the payments as fast as possible, and consider the contract still good between us.
I would here say that when I found it necessary to avail myself of the benefits of the Bankrupt Law, I knew not but that the law required of me to include you amongst the list of my creditors, notwithstanding the nature of the contract between us, this explains the reason of my doing so.
It wasn’t just Horace Hotchkiss, but dozens of creditors who were constantly hounding Jo. By the end of 1842, Jo’s Red Brick Store had been running less than a year but he’d almost completely bankrupted the company because people would come into the store to collect on debt Jo owed them and he would just pay them from the stores on the shelves, instead of selling it to replenish the missing inventory. Debt was completely overpowering Jo and he was doing the only thing he knew how to do, hide and run. The end of this letter to Horace Hotchkiss reveals a lot of what was most likely happening with Sidney Rigdon and the mails.
In regard to your having wrote to me some few weeks ago, I will observe that I have received no communication from you for some months back; if you wrote to me, the letter has been broke open and detained no doubt; as has been the case with a great quantity of letters from my friends of late, and especially within the last three months.
Few if any letters for me can get through the post office in this place and more particularly letters containing money, and matters of much importance: I am satisfied that S. Rigdon and others connected with him have been the means of doing incalculable injury not only to myself but to the citizens in general; and, sir, under such a state of things, you will have some idea of the difficulties I have to encounter, and the censure I have to bear through the unjust conduct of that man and others, whom he permits to interfere with the Post Office business.
See, Jo was getting so many letters that demanded money he didn’t have. Now, he could answer them all the way he’d answered so many before asking for their patience while he acquires the necessary money to repay them, but that’s what an honest person would do. I think it’s entirely plausible that the letters were piling up on Jo’s desk and he just ignored them because nothing in Nauvoo history leads me to believe Jo was on top of things. He was just barely treading water with all his responsibilities piling up. So, it’s a lot easier to manufacture a conspiracy by Hingepin Sidney Rigdon that he was stealing letters for Jo. That sure would make a convenient excuse when somebody would come up to him in person and ask if he received any of the last 10 letters they sent him had landed on his desk. A solution existed in Jo’s mind, we’ll get to it in a moment.
November 14th was an interesting meeting with government and church leaders. Nauvoo government sought to expand the rights of Habeas Corpus for the 4th time in 6 months. Yes, the original Nauvoo Charter had the Habeas Corpus provision written in, but it continued to be overruled by the Governor, as should lawfully be the case. So, Jo amended the provision multiple times, each change expanding on the previous. This latest change made it so any person arrested under any power from any government had the right to appeal to the municipal court of Nauvoo. Once the appeal was granted, by a Jo loyalist I would add, the prisoner simply wrote an explanation of why they shouldn’t be detained and the writ of Habeas Corpus was granted. Under this revised provision, only if the arrest warrant specifically said the prisoner “can neither be discharged nor admitted to bail, nor in any other manner relieved” would the arrest warrant override the Habeas Corpus writ issued by the municipal court. Beyond that, if the arrest warrant didn’t pass the muster of the municipal court and a writ of Habeas Corpus was issued by the Nauvoo court, and the sheriff or constable refused to give up the prisoner, the city Marshal of Nauvoo was required to arrest the sheriff or constable on the spot. Essentially, sure a sheriff could come into town and arrest Jo, but if his arrest warrant didn’t have the right words in it then Jo goes free. If it does have the right words and the Nauvoo court doesn’t like it for whatever reason, the sheriff had to give up Jo or he’d be arrested by the Nauvoo marshal. Basically, if you arrest our prophet, we’ll arrest you.
These efforts to continually expand the Habeas Corpus powers of Nauvoo continue to come in handy for the rest of Jo’s life.
For a rare moment in Mormon history, November 15th marked an interesting development. Jo was always quick to take on too many projects and was suffering under the weight of never seeing most of them to completion. One constant stressor on his life was acting as editor for the Times and Seasons. Newspaper editors are usually editors as a career, but Jo was editor of the Times and Seasons since it was established, while still being prophet, vice mayor and mayor of Nauvoo, Commander in chief of the Nauvoo Legion, and everything else attached to his name. For once in his life, he decided to step away from a project he thought was robbing too much of his time.
Published in the Times and Seasons on November 15th was Jo’s article titled “Valedictory”
I beg leave to inform the subscribers of the Times and Seasons that it is impossible for me to fulfill the arduous duties of the editorial department any longer. The multiplicity of other business that daily devolved upon me, renders it impossible for me to do justice to a paper so widely circulated as the Times and Seasons. I have appointed Elder John Taylor, who is less encumbered and fully competent to assume the responsibilities of that office, and I doubt not but that he will give satisfaction to the patrons of the paper. As this number commences a new volume it also commences his editorial career.
Now John Taylor would be the chief propaganda editor, with White-out Willard Richards working as his assistant. A week after this was published the brethren repeatedly met at the printing office to appraise it and sign a lease agreement that John Taylor and Willard Richards would control it for 5 years from that time forward.
Another interesting detail, and this is only interesting for what we’ll discuss at the end, so put a pin in it. On the same day of November 15th an announcement was made in the History of the Church.
Elder Bradley Wilson died suddenly in his 74th year. He received the gospel in Ohio, removed his family to Missouri, and was driven to Nauvoo in 1839. He has left seven sons and 39 grand-children residing in Nauvoo.
This guy, Bradley Wilson, makes no other appearance in the History of the Church. He must have been a close friend of Jo, even if he wasn’t a Mormon elite with responsibilities in the church or city government, to merit mention in Joseph’s journal as having died leaving so many children and grand-children means he must have made an impact on Jo at some level. Like I said, this is an interesting detail but doesn’t mean much until we get to the end of this lightning round of history events, so put a pin in this Bradley Wilson mention/obituary here.
Another interesting point, Jo gave a prophecy that was fulfilled. What actually constitutes a prophecy by Joseph Smith is quite disputed depending on who’s talking about the specific prophecy, but this one is remarkable and shows just how in tune with god Jo really was.
On October 5th he prophesied that even though the weather was warm and pleasant at the time, the Mississippi would be frozen over within a month. According to the History of the Church, the prophecy was fulfilled to the day when a cold front rolled in and a couple guys froze to death on the road from Carthage to Nauvoo. What a profound revelation from the mouthpiece of god. Who could have known in early October that it would get cold by November? I’m amazed.
Another interesting development, Pistol Packin’ Porter found a place to roost for the winter in Philadelphia, from which he wrote a letter to his best friend, Jo. Actually, Port didn’t write the letter so much as dictate it to a friend of his, Port was illiterate.
Dear brother Joseph Smith, I am requested by our friend Orrin Porter to drop a few lines informing you that he is in this place, his health is good, but his spirits are depressed, caused by his being unable to obtain employment of any kind, he has applied in different parts of the city and country, but all without success, as farmers can get persons to work from sunrise till dark, for merely what they eat—he is most anxious to hear from you and wishes you to see his mother and children and write all particulars, how matters and things are, and what the prospects are—I pity him from the bottom of my heart—his lot in life seems marked with sorrow, bitterness and care—he is a noble generous friend, but you know his worth, any comments from me would be superfluous, he will wait in this place until he hears from you—please write immediately as ‘twill be a source of great comfort to him to hear…
S. ARMSTRONG, for Orrin Porter
Yes, Jo was a high profile fugitive to get arrested, but he had the protection afforded by the Nauvoo Legion and thousands of sycophants if he ran into trouble. Pistol Packin’ Port, on the other hand, had no such protections nor source of income. It’s understandable he was in low spirits and depressed from lack of contact with old friends and being removed from his home and children, possibly living in squalor until he could secure some regular income. That won’t be an issue for Port very soon.
On December 5, Jo attended meetings dealing with documenting assets and liabilities for the bankruptcy proceedings. That’s pretty standard right now, he was spending a lot of time on it. What is interesting this day though, is that he attended Masonic Lodge that evening, during which he brought up an accusation against Hingepin Rigdon’s son-in-law, George W. Robinson for, “unmasonic conduct towards President Joseph”. No further details, as that could mean just about anything, but we can rest assured it had to do with Jo suspecting Rigdon and Robinson were colluding with Wreck-it Bennett, even though the historical record shows no real evidence of collusion.
2 days after this meeting was quite interesting as well. Jo dined with Elder Orson Hyde and family. Why is this important? Well, Orson L’Chydem had just returned that day from his mission to Jerusalem and probably had plenty of stories to tell Jo. But, Jo had a few stories to tell Orson because Jo had married his wife, Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde, just the previous April while Orson was half the planet away on a mission for the church.
Whether or not that story was told to Orson upon his return is a matter of mystery. However, the very next day Jo records in his journal a meeting with Orson Hyde and wife, no further details of that meeting survive. We can’t know if Orson was made privy to the fact that his wife was one of Jo’s wives at the time or exactly what transpired in these two meetings. It’s worth noting that John D. Lee of Mountain Meadows Massacre fame, testified in 1877 that Orson gave permission to Jo to take Marinda to be his plural wife. There’s a bit of dispute as to the exact date Marinda and Jo were sealed together because she testified in court that it happened in May 1843, but Jo’s journal accounts it in the handwriting of Thomas Bullock as Apr 42, so who really knows. Another interesting detail to add in to the mix, Jo may have brokered some kind of deal with Orson Hyde for him to have Marinda as a plural wife because Orson was given his first plural wife 4 months after this in March of 43 with Jo performing the ceremony. Besides, Jo and Marinda probably had some history from when she was 16 years old back in Hiram, Ohio when Jo was nearly castrated before being tarred and feathered. That was more than 10 years ago from where we are in our timeline, you can find that all on episode 26, Joseph Smith, Broken or the Breaker.
The next important issue that happened was the various newly elected government officials gave inaugural speeches. According to the history of the Church, the new Democrats may not have been what the Mormons were hoping for, at least that’s not what their speeches seem to reveal.
This day Thomas Ford, Governor of Illinois, in his inaugural address to the Senate and House of Representatives, remarked that ‘a great deal has been said about certain charters granted to the people of Nauvoo. These charters are objectionable on many accounts, but particularly on account of the powers granted. The people of the State have become aroused to the subject, and anxiously desire that these charters should be modified so as to give the inhabitants of Nauvoo no greater privileges than those enjoyed by others of our fellow citizens.’
Good! That means Thomas Ford wanted the Mormons to operate by the same rules as everybody else in the country. But no, of course this was viewed as persecution. The Mormons were granted their charter and complete and total power in Nauvoo, now they didn’t want to give those entitlements up because it would threaten their ability to freely practice their religion.
In the same session, Jacob C. Davis, who will continue to figure more into our timeline, also presented a resolution to the House of Representatives that the Nauvoo Charter should be repealed, which really was the best option at the moment to drain the swamp of all the Mormon corruption. That was the strategy eventually employed in 1845 when the Nauvoo charter was actually repealed, which figured heavily into the Mormon exodus to the Great Basin. Jacob Davis also expressed a concern that the arms given to the Nauvoo Legion by Wreck-it Bennett when he was quartermaster-general of the Illinois militia should be seized by the state, effectively neutering the Legion from making any worthy stand against a rival militia should that militia choose to exert force upon Nauvoo. Should the legislature listen to Davis with this intelligent appeal, that would spell disaster for the Nauvoo Legion, and the Mormons by extension.
Another interesting detail in the 1842 election, Jo’s younger brother, Crazy William Smith, was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. He wasn’t elected a member of the federal congress to represent Illinois, but to the state’s house of representatives to represent Hancock county, the county with Nauvoo in it. An indicator of the nepotistic color of the 1842 election is quite apparent when we see that Jo’s own younger brother was elected by Nauvoo to represent the city at the state level.
Crazy Willey gave an impassioned speech in response to Thomas Ford and Jacob Davis talking about repealing the incredible powers afforded to Nauvoo. The speech danced the line of trotting out all the persecution the Mormons had suffered as refugees, while at the same time talking about how much the state needed the industriousness of the Mormons to survive. Willey responds to the point Davis made about taking the arms away by saying the Nauvoo Legion doesn’t even have the requisite number of arms afforded them by the state law, that they should have even more guns then they had at the end of 1842.
After his speech, Willey went back to Nauvoo, tendered his resignation from the Nauvoo Wasp, which was to be transferred to John Taylor as the Times and Seasons had been. He then met with Jo and Hyrum about what they should do with political opposition even though they had just given their votes to the governor and senator who would do them the most good. They devised a plan to combat the assertions that the Nauvoo charter should be repealed by invoking a slippery slope fallacy. The 3 Smith brothers concluded that if Illinois revokes Nauvoo’s charter then they’ll have to revoke the charters for Springfield, Quincy, and Chicago as well, as the Nauvoo charter was largely patterned after those cities.
The conflict wasn’t so much that the Nauvoo Charter existed, so much as how the people of Nauvoo were using it. That was the real source of conflict. The Mormons were operating as a sovereign city-state within the boundaries of Illinois, and Governor Carlin had made a royal mess of cleaning up the Mormon problem before he left office. The newly elected government officials wanted to employ whatever legal tools at their hands to strip Nauvoo of its power; repealing the charter was only the first step to rooting out the Mormon corruption.
December 15th was finally the day when Jo and Hyrum’s cases for bankruptcy were heard in front of the U. S. District Court of Illinois. Hyrum was granted bankruptcy status, but Jo’s hearing was put off until a later date, which ended up never taking place, thus Jo was never granted bankruptcy.
The Governor-elect, Thomas Ford, got started immediately in planting his flag. He wanted the Mormons to know he wouldn’t show them special favors. Adam Snyder may have had less of a spine and played favorites with the Mormons had he been elected, but his death came after Jo had already declared the Mormon vote for the Democrats. Thus, Thomas Ford never had to curry favor with the Mormons to get their vote. He made it very clear in his first letter to Joseph Smith that he was in his office to faithfully execute the laws and duties of Governor of Illinois. Jo, with a Mr. Butterfield representing him, sent a letter to Ford asking him to grant the writ of Habeas Corpus against any future arrest warrants coming out of Missouri, and to acquit him of the standing arrest warrant issued on the affidavit of Ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri. This was Thomas Ford’s reply:
Dear Sir: Your Petition requesting me to rescind Gov. Carlin’s proclamation and recall the writ issued against you, has been received and duly considered. I submitted your case and all the papers relating thereto, to the Judges of the Supreme Court,… They were unanimous in the opinion that the requisition from Missouri was illegal and insufficient to cause your arrest, but were equally divided as to the propriety and justice of my interference with the acts of Gov. Carlin. It being, therefore, a case of great doubt as to my power, and I not wishing even in an official station to assume the exercise of doubtful powers; and inasmuch as you have a sure and effectual remedy in the courts, I have decided to decline interfering. I can only advise that you submit to the laws, and have a judicial investigation of your rights. If it should become necessary, for this purpose to repair to Springfield, I do not believe that there will be any disposition to use illegal violence towards you; and I would feel it my duty in your case, as in the case of any other person, to protect you with any necessary amount of force from mob violence whilst asserting your rights before the courts, going to and returning.
I am most respectfully yours,
Basically, Thomas Ford told Jo that he wouldn’t rescind the arrest warrant issued by Governor Carlin as he and his council determined it a bad idea to interfere with affairs put in place by the previous Governor. He then tells Jo to come to Springfield and plead his case that he should be released from arrest and extradition to Missouri, and that Ford would defend him from any mob violence while he was pleading his case. The catch? Jo was REQUIRED to turn himself in and appear in front of a legal court, not that sycophantic kangaroo court of Nauvoo, to plead his case. Jo wasn’t much for turning himself in.
Jo’s council, Josiah Butterfield, wrote a letter to Jo advising him to do what Governor Ford said and make an appearance before the Illinois Supreme Court and they would give him his writ of Habeas Corpus. “my advice is, that you come here without delay, and you do not run the least risk of being protected while here,… I will stand by you, and see you safely delivered from your arrest.”
Another interesting note in the History of the Church for December 20, 1842 is this:
Elder Lorenzo D. Barnes died this morning at a quarter past three o’clock, at Bradford, England, he is the first Elder who has fallen in a foreign land in these last days. He had been long connected with the church, and had been distinguished both in his native land and in Great Britain for his piety and virtue, and general amiability of character, that endeared him much to all who knew him, he was one of the most active and efficient Elders, and one whose labors were most extensive, and was eminently successful in his ministry, and while we lament his loss, yet we mourn not for him as without hope, knowing that shortly he shall come forth in the resurrection of the just, and stand in his lot at the last day.
Have you heard that name, Lorenzo D. Barnes in our timeline before? No, you haven’t. He’s never come up before now. He’s just an Elder in England who happened to be the first Elder of the church to die in the service of the church while in a foreign land. That’s remarkable, but he didn’t particularly influence our timeline whatsoever. Just like the last mention of a death in this episode, the Bradly Wilson guy, put a pin in this and we’ll get to why I’m emphasizing these deaths momentarily.
Next and final order of business, White-out Willard Richards was inducted into the office of official secretary and historian of Joseph Smith… his PERSONAL secretary and historian. Granted, Jo had William Clayton as a personal scribe. But that’s not a secretary. William Clayton kept Jo’s personal journal, transcribed his letters into his letterbook, acted as scribe for public meetings of the quorum of apostles and masonic lodge, so on and so forth. Willard Richards, however, was given the primary task of compiling Jo’s history to be published in the Times and Seasons, took minutes of the more secretive meetings with just a few people, and worked directly with John Taylor in the Times and Seasons and the Wasp to correlate the Nauvoo propaganda being disseminated throughout the country. William Clayton had an important role in keeping Jo’s records. White-out Willard Richards had the important role of making sure Jo looked good to the rest of the world. John Goebbels Whitmer had been excommunicated 4 years prior, now it was time for Jo to have a new official propaganda agent. We have White-out Willard to thank for the 7 volume History of the Church which constructed the initial narrative of Jo’s life and the history of the church during his ministry.
From the birth of Jo and Emma’s stillborn child, to the Greek Psalter, the Masonic Lodge and Mormon ascendency ritual, the Book of Abraham, the Relief Society being organized, the Assassination of an ex-Governor of Missouri, to the Bennett Meltdown and all the fire resulting from his exposes and lectures, dozens of public works projects, hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt accruing interest and consistently defaulting on the loans, the Red Brick Store, arrested and released and continually evading arrest, all while taking to wife Agnes Moulton Coolbrith, his brother’s widow, Sylvia Porter Session Lyon, Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, Patty Bartlett Sessions, Marinda Nancy Johnson, Elizabeth Davis Brackenbury Durfee, Sally Ann Fuller, Sarah Maryetta Kingsley Howe Cleveland, Delcena Johnson, Eliza R. Snow, Sarah Ann Whitney, Martha McBride, and Sarah Bapson; 1842 was truly Joseph Smith’s busiest year to this point in his 12 years of ministry. Those are just high points, most of which we’ve covered on this show, but there were hundreds of smaller interactions and events nestled between all these major events. Nauvoo Mormonism is absolutely insane.
We started 1842 with episode 98, now 36 episodes later we’ve finally covered a single year of Nauvoo Mormonism. Further, this has been a miniseries within the historical timeline we’ve dubbed the Bennett Meltdown. Today’s show is episode 10 of that miniseries which brings it to a close. That’s not to say that the Bennett Meltdown is actually over, as the leadership will be dealing with the fallout from Wreck-it Bennett’s exposes for years to come, but the end of 1842 is an organic place to bring it to a close. Now we can start off 2019 fresh in 1843 with a clear conscious.
Except for one thing. I told you all to put a pin in the two notices about those two guys dying. We first had Bradley Wilson, then we had Lorenzo D. Barnes in England who’d died. Members of Nauvoo and England Mormon leadership who’ve never made an appearance in our timeline before each getting their own mention in the Times and Seasons newspaper, and by extension the History of the Church. These guys, both of whom didn’t have a noticeable impact on Mormonism aside from the people they probably converted or the public works projects they may have helped on like the Temple or the Nauvoo House or helped printing the Millennial Star in England. They’re absolutely not important to our timeline, but the reason I’m going to ask you to take the pin out of them is because Nauvoo Mormonism lost somebody in October of 1842 who had a much greater impact on the church in ways which can’t be easily summarized. Further, this person’s death for whatever reason, didn’t merit mention in the local Nauvoo newspapers, while these other two guys did, which I can’t quite wrap my mind around.
This man was one of the earliest members of the church who converted in Kirtland. He was one of the original five missionaries to make their way out to Missouri to proselytize to the Native Americans. He provided income to the Smith family in Kirtland when he leased out his farm to Joseph Sr., Big Daddy Cheese, he owned the land the Kirtland Temple was built on, and he was second counsellor to Joseph Smith in the Presidency of the Church, superseding even the great Oliver Cowdery.
This man gave an affidavit in 1840 stating that:
In consequence of mobocracy, together with Governor Boggs’ exterminating order, [I] was compelled to leave the state under great sacrifice of real property, which has reduced and left myself and family in a state of poverty with a delicate state of health, in an advanced stage of life.
This man had been a personal doctor of the Smiths, keeping many Mormons alive during their exodus from Missouri to Quincy, Illinois, tending to the needs of the people when sickness took over. He’d sown up Hyrum Sidekick-Abiff’s arm after he cut it to the bone while chopping wood. This guy was one of the earliest members of the church, one of the people who sacrificed the most tangible wealth to Joseph, and was a printer and scribe for the prophet for half a decade, all while running his practice as a botanic physician. Joseph and Emma even named one of their sons after this man.
Frederick G. Williams’s health had been declining since the exodus to Illinois. He had one final meeting with Jo, told through the eyes of his teenage daughter.
Late in the summer of 1842 they paid another visit to Nauvoo and when the time came to leave the prophet held Frederick close and said sadly, ‘Brother Frederick, I don’t like to see you leave. You are going home to die.’ Frederick answered, ‘I am already a dead man.’
And, on October 10, 1842, Freddy G. Willey died a little before his 55th birthday. No notice ran in the Times and Seasons, his death was never recorded in the History of the Church. He had one brief mention in the Quincy Whig, an anti-Mormon newspaper “[DIED] In this city on the 10th inst., Dr. F. G. Williams.”. His gravesite was unknown to historians until discovered in the early 2000s, when his descendant, a Professor at BYU by the same name, dedicated the new headstone. Otherwise, Freddy G. Willey has been all but forgotten in Mormon history. Jo didn’t speak at his funeral as would be expected. It was just a final goodbye.
For that very reason, we’re going to do our best to memorialize Dr. Frederick G. Williams here on the show. He’s kind of a personal hero of mine because he figured so heavily into Kirtland history and he’s an important piece of the Smith-entheogen theory. So, next week I’m going to air the presentation Cody and I did at Sunstone Seattle in November of 2018. I’ve uncovered some very interesting details concerning Frederick G. Williams, largely with thanks to his descendant who wrote Williams’ biography, and I want to share it here on the podcast.
But that’s not all. Patrons of the show over at patreon.com/nakedmormonism are going to get access to a super secret special presentation I did which greatly expands on the Sunstone presentation. This presentation was for a local meetup group in Davis County, organized by our awesome production assistant, Julie Briscoe, and ran for a little over 2 hours. Even at 2 hours, we barely scratched the surface of ol’ Freddy G. Willey. It was a very intimate setting and we discussed very candidly entheogens and other psychedelics with the group. So, if you want to hear it, be sure to check it out on the patreon page, where we’ll do our best to give Freddy G. Willey a proper sendoff from our historical timeline.
Even though his death was not memorialized in Nauvoo newspapers, nor was it even mentioned, Frederick G. Williams’ impact on early Mormonism simply cannot be overstated. He won’t be forgotten to us.
We have our own heroes in our little world of post Mormonism. One of those heroes for thousands of people is Brother Jake. Brother Jake Frost had a cardiac event of some kind and remains only semi-conscious to this day, nearly 3 weeks later. We’re trying to help any way we can. Mark Elwood of theglasslooker.com and I have teamed up to do a fundraiser the only way we know how, with our creative talents. Mark is an illustrator and I’m a story teller, and we want to reward those who donate to help Jake and his family with their medical bills. I’m writing anybody who donates into a treasure dig, and Mark will be illustrating you into it. So, if you want to be included in the treasure dig, pull your phone out of your pocket…. Yes, I’m talking to you right now. Pull your phone out, go to your browser, put in gofundme.com/gojakego….. Go ahead. We’re all waiting on you. Alright, you have it open? Okay, see that green bar on the top of the screen, that means it’s funded, but you know as well as I do that $20,000 isn’t going to take the Frost family very far with the American health care system. Let’s see how big we can make that number. Can we hit $25,000, $30,000, maybe those goals are too lofty, but his wife and one-year-old kid sure could use it. Alright, you got the browser open, right? Okay, now hit the donate now button, at put in whatever amount you feel comfortable with. If you donate any amount you get a shout out on the show, but if you donate $50 you get written into the treasure dig. If you donate $100, Mark will draw you into the treasure dig and email you a high-resolution image to keep for posterity’s sake. So, now that you’ve hit the donate button, and you just received an email receipt, simply forward that email to firstname.lastname@example.org, so I know who to thank or what name to write in to the treasure dig. If you donate over the $100 threshold, be sure to attach a picture of yourself or anything you want drawn into the treasure dig, kinda like Mike Montague did with himself and his dog that somebody is choking, you can see it for yourself if you scroll down on the gofundme page. Then on January 3rd, we’ll air the treasure dig episode and distribute the illustrations to anybody who donated. Once again, gofundme.com/gojakego! And if you’re wondering who the hell this guy is that we’re doing the fundraiser for, go search brother Jake on Youtube, find out for yourself.
Alright, that’s gunna wrap it up for today. We’ll thank new patrons after the fundraising drive is over. Don’t sign up on patreon, donate to gojakego on gofundme for the rest of the year instead.
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