Ep 180 – Mormons v. Carthaginians

On this episode, a fight breaks out between the Carthaginians and the Mormons of Nauvoo. Olive Amanda Smith Fullmer filed an affidavit charging her partner, Milton Cook, with bastardy (abandonment) and the Mormon Sheriff, Horace Eldridge, is granted a warrant for Cook’s arrest. When Eldridge arrives in Carthage, he’s confronted by the citizens and unable to serve the warrant. He returns to Nauvoo and gathers a posse of Nauvoo Legionnaires, including Stephen Markham, to descend on Carthage and affect the arrest once and for all. The ensuing confrontation creates chaos and pandemonium and the local media outlets battle it out in print for determining what actually happened.

Check out the updated Smith-entheogen theory paper here!


Olive Amanda Fullmer Smith

Milton Cook

Quincy Whig

Warsaw Message Jan 1844

Stephen Markham

Revelation, Resistance, and Mormon Polygamy by Merina Smith

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It was January 1844. Little snowflakes fell to the Mississippi before disappearing into the vast body of moving water. Some of the snow accumulated to about “four inches deep” which made for “Good sleighing”. The Mormons in Nauvoo were largely held up in their homes near the hearth to keep the cold from settling in their bones. Olive Amanda Fullmer Smith, a bright-eyed 18-year-old girl who was born in Onondaga County, New York and immigrated to Hancock County, Illinois as a teenager, was about to give birth to a beautiful baby boy, Chauncy Harvey Cook. Her midwife bustled about the house keeping young Olive calm and comfortable, administering medicine, massaging her tired muscles from the labor and keeping blood flowing to stave off the frigid air coming through the cracks in the cabin’s logs.

Little Chauncy was a healthy boy when he was delivered; Olive was strong and made it through the labor with the expert help of her midwife. However, there was a problem. Olive’s partner, Milton Cook, a cavalier and good-looking 22-year-old man, didn’t want to be a father. The two had met a year earlier in Nauvoo and fell madly in love, however some issues must have existed between the two. They soon ran away from both of their families and the historical record doesn’t tell us if they ever married or not, but little Chauncy Harvey Cook was the result of their escapade. Apparently, Olive’s stepfather didn’t approve of Milton and Olive’s marriage and in these Victorian times a father’s blessing held the power in granting permission for marriage.

Regardless of whether or not Olive and Milton were married, when little Chauncey was born, Milton Cook ran from his culturally-expected fatherly duties. Olive swore out an affidavit against Milton charging him with bastardy, the ye olde charge of abandonment. Olive’s affidavit was given to a sheriff in Nauvoo by the name of Horace Eldridge, who carried it to Carthage, where Milton lived, and attempted to arrest Milton on the bastardy charges and bring him before the Nauvoo Municipal court. Milton Cook was not a Mormon and really didn’t like Joseph Smith and his criminal empire; he thought he’d be safe in Carthage from the Nauvoo criminal justice system. He wasn’t wrong and a confrontation ensued.

Before we get to that confrontation, it’s a good idea to get some sense of what the relationship between Carthage and Nauvoo was at this point. Carthage citizens hated the Mormons. Carthage was the largest town in Hancock county that wasn’t Nauvoo, meaning the citizens fell under the jurisdiction of any politicians who were elected by the Mormon voting bloc. The Mormons completely suffocated the political voice of Carthage. Beyond that, the Mormons weren’t great neighbors and didn’t pay their bills. Carthage citizens also fell under the jurisdiction of the ever-expanding legal powers of the Nauvoo Municipal court system and Legion. Not by any law or legal precedent, but simply by virtue of both of those systems slowly growing since their inception.

In order to combat the expansion of the Mormon empire, the anti-Mormon political party was formed in Carthage, Illinois in 1841 by Thomas Coke Sharp and other concerned citizens from Carthage and the surrounding cities. Carthage was literally the headquarters of the anti-Mormon political party and where much of the anti-Mormon rhetoric was born before Thomas Sharp published it in the Warsaw Signal.

Carthage had also harbored many fugitives from Nauvoo justice in the past. Most prominently, when John C. Wreck-it Bennett resigned from Mayor and began collecting affidavits to publish against Joseph Smith, many of his days were spent in Carthage because it was the nearest city to Nauvoo where he could be reasonably safe from Danites. Pistol Packin’ Porter Rockwell still confronted Bennett there in Carthage, but Bennett remained safe.

Many people who will play into the weeks prior to, and following, the Carthage assassination of Jo and Hyrum were residents of Carthage. Not only does the assassination itself happen there, but most of the prominent figures leading up to the assassinations, and those charged with conspiracy afterwards, were from Carthage. Simply put, Carthage and Nauvoo were enemies. Nauvoo considered Carthage to be the hotbed of their persecution while Carthage considered Nauvoo to be the hotbed of the overreaching Mormon empire’s power. Carthage didn’t consider themselves subject to the legal powers of Nauvoo, which is fair because the Nauvoo municipal powers were just that, municipal.

So, with Olive filing the affidavit against her partner, Milton Cook, and the Mormon sheriff traveling from Nauvoo to Carthage to arrest Milton put these conflicting powers at an impasse. Nauvoo empiric overreach was an unstoppable force which met with the unmovable object of Carthaginian hatred for the Mormons. Nothing would reduce these tensions and the hands of Governor Thomas Ford were completely tied. Milton Cook’s fleeing to Carthage to escape his fatherly duties put him square in the crosshairs of this tension between cities.

Historian Merina Smith summarized the situation in the book Revelation, Resistance, and Mormon Polygamy.

Olive Amanda Smith (later Fullmer) became one catalyst for an escalation of violence between Mormons and non-Momrons. Her story shows how everyday problems that ordinarily would have been solved without much fuss contributed to the tension between the two groups in 1844… Milton Cook was not a Mormon, but he lived near Nauvoo, in Carthage, Illinois. After Olive gave birth to Chauncey…, she obtained an affidavit for Milton’s arrest so that he could be brought before a Nauvoo judge and forced to provide support for his child. Sheriff Horace Eldredge was dispatched to Carthage to arrest Milton Cook.

Carthage residents may have sympathized with Olive’s plight in ordinary times, but these were not normal ones.

Indeed, these were not normal times. The chaos created by the Mormon empire was something that regular American citizens had never dealt with. The citizens of Carthage took any action by any Nauvoo police officer or militiaman outside of the city of Nauvoo as an affront to their own sovereignty and reacted harshly to Sheriff Horace Eldridge coming into Carthage to serve the arrest warrant.

To be clear, Milton Cook, and the charge of bastardy against him, had absolutely nothing to do with the citizens of Carthage. However, a Nauvoo sheriff strutting into town and attempting to flaunt his authority made it certain that the city took an interest in Milton Cook and his opposition to the Mormons trying to bring him to justice.

So, in the first week of January 1844, Sheriff Eldridge set out from Nauvoo on the 26-mile journey to Carthage with Olive’s affidavit and an arrest warrant granted by Robert Bob the Builder D. Foster in hand. Horace Eldridge arrived in Carthage on the sixth of January. He found his target, Milton Cook, at Bartlett’s Grocery Store in Carthage. A few of the Carthage citizens recognized Sheriff Eldridge as the Mormon sheriff and made it known to him that he wasn’t welcome. When Eldridge attempted to grab Milton Cook by the arm and take him out of the grocery store, a group of Carthaginians quickly gathered.

Hard words were thrown at Sheriff Eldridge, but no real violence broke out, just threats. The citizens of Carthage didn’t know why Eldridge wanted Milton Cook, they just knew that a Mormon sheriff was trying to arrest one of their friends and fellow citizens of Carthage. The Carthaginians brandished firearms at Sheriff Eldridge. Milton Cook himself pulled out his own pistol, pointed it at Sheriff Eldridge and told him “he had loaded [it] for the purpose, and would make a whole through the constable if he molested him, and swore he would not be taken.”

At this point, Sheriff Eldridge knew if he further attempted to affect this arrest surrounded by armed Carthaginian anti-Mormons, while his target was also armed, he would forfeit his life. He decided it best to return to Nauvoo with the arrest warrant unserved and come back to Carthage with reinforcements.

When Sheriff Eldridge returned to Nauvoo, he told Jo and the leading policemen of the city of the confrontation at Carthage. Stephen Markham, one of Jo’s closest advisors and personal bodyguards and head of a division of the Nauvoo police force, was quick to respond. Markham was somebody you didn’t want to mess with. A long time ago we introduced Stephen Markham to the storyline as Piggy-bank Steve because he was the primary guy with the church’s purse when they were buying up all the property in Illinois and Iowa during the Mormon resettlement following the Missouri-Mormon War. Stephen Markham was so trusted by the prophet that he was specially appointed to personally escort the Smith family from Far West, Missouri to Quincy, Illinois during that exodus. Markham was also Jo’s personal assistant when he was arrested in Dixon, Illinois in spring of 1843, which would have resulted in Jo’s removal to Missouri had Markham not ridden the 160 miles to Nauvoo and notified the Legion of the prophet’s arrest. During the arrest itself, Markham attempted to subdue Sheriff’s Wilson and Reynolds as they were handcuffing the prophet, but he relented when Jo told him to stand down. Markham was also a lieutenant colonel in the Nauvoo Legion.

All of that means that Stephen Markham stepping up to help sheriff Eldridge make this arrest meant business. Markham gathered a posse including Robert D. Bob the Builder Foster and 10 other guys. Come hell or high water, this posse was going to arrest Milton Cook.

They left Nauvoo the morning of January 8, 1844 and arrived in Carthage in the late evening; it was an entire day’s journey. They went to Bartlett’s grocer, expecting Cook to be there as he was when Eldridge alone tried to arrest him. As they entered the city, their presence immediately put everybody on edge. The same people who’d rallied around Cook just two days prior saw an entire posse of a dozen men enter the city limits, undoubtedly up to no good in their eyes, and it was time to draw a line.

The Mormon posse arrived at Bartlett’s grocer. 5 men stood at the door of the grocer, they had 2 pistols, knives, and 2 rifles with bayonets attached. Stephen Markham told the armed men that they were here for Milton Cook and they intended to serve the arrest warrant.

The 5 men stood at the door with their weapons, ready to defend Cook. Stephen Markham caught sight of the posse inside the grocer around Cook, the anti-Mormons were twenty strong and Markham only brought 11 of his buddies to the fight.

Markham, and another member of the Mormon posse, a guy named Eagle, got in the faces of the guards and showed them the arrest warrant for Cook. The Carthage posse refused to give up Cook. Then, Markham and a guy named Eagle, stepped forward to enter the store and take Cook by force. When they did this, one of the men with the bayonetted rifle thrust the weapon at Markham. But, Markham, being an experienced member of the Nauvoo Legion parried the attack with his hands, which sent the bayonet stab away from him and straight toward Eagle. Eagle tried to deflect the bayonet thrust and stepped to the side. The knife cut his hand and thrust into his abdomen, but the sidestep made the blade glance off his stomach leaving only a small cut and some torn clothing.

This aggression by the Carthaginian was met by the whole Mormon posse pushing toward the door to defend Eagle and Markham. Another man in the Carthage posse brandished his pistol and aimed it straight at the chest of Eagle telling him he’d shoot if the man came any closer. A second pistol came out which was pointed at Stephen Markham, but he was quick on his feet and grabbed the gun out of the man’s hands before he could pull the trigger. The Mormon posse continued to try and push into the grocer. They were outnumbered and outgunned and Cook wasn’t going to give up without his fellow Carthage citizens engaging in a fight. But nobody wanted to pull the trigger. You see, the Mormon posse was outnumbered and outgunned in this confrontation, but the underlying tension in this standoff was the Nauvoo Legion. Sure, the legion wasn’t here for this fight, but if the Carthaginians did anything to the Mormon posse beyond threats and a few bayonet stabs, that would bring the whole Nauvoo Legion down upon the city. The Mormon militia was looking for a reason to be utilized and the Carthage mob protecting a fugitive was a great excuse for the Mormons to march on this rival city.

This fight was bigger than 25 men yelling at each other and pistols being brandished and pointed. This fight carried with it the weight of 3,000 soldiers and the end to Carthage life as the citizens knew it. Milton Cook and some members of the posse realized this fight was escalating and the end of it meant Carthage being razed to ashes before the Nauvoo Legion salted the earth on which the city once stood. Milton Cook and a few of the posse guarding him decided to slip out the back door during the chaos and confusion. One of the Carthage posse told the Mormon posse that Milton Cook isn’t here and their fight was in vain. This released some of the tension as the catalyst for the fight was no longer in the building. Where could he have gone? There wasn’t a town nearby for him to run to and it was late in the evening anyway. The apathy from the Mormons, weary from their travels, and the Carthaginians drunk and not wanting to deal with the Mormon posse coalesced to deescalate the tensions. Markham and Eldridge decided it would be best to spend the night at the local Carthage tavern and attempt to arrest Cook in the morning. He would certainly remain in the city and everybody would be fresh to keep their heads cool and come to a reasonable agreement.

The Mormon posse retired with the promise that this affair was far from over.

The next morning, the posse again returned to Bartlett’s grocer suspecting Milton Cook to be there. They were wrong. When they got to the store, a few of the Carthage posse from the previous day told them that Milton Cook had fled in the night and wasn’t even in town anymore. The Mormon posse chose to check another common gathering place which had a group of armed men gathered around it. This was another grocer owned by Harmon T. Wilson, one of the two sheriffs who arrested Jo in Dixon in June of 1843. What an interesting turn of events for this guy.

The Carthage posse had grown overnight. What used to be a mob of 20 men armed with a couple pistols and rifles was now 50 men strong, armed with “guns, bayonets, pistols, clubs, and other missiles.” Milton Cook was, indeed, at Wilson’s store, guarded by these 50 men.

The Mormon posse pulled up to Wilson’s store where the Carthage posse had all their weapons brandished and ready to use; all the tensions from the previous evening were suddenly amplified by the larger numbers of defending Carthaginians.

Sheriff Eldridge demanded Milton Cook in a raised voice with Stephen Markham and the other 10 Nauvoo Legionnaires ready for a fight behind him. Eldridge pushed past the Carthage mob and grabbed Cook by the collar. This was a moment of tough decision for the Carthaginians. Do they cede control of the situation, acquiesce to Eldridge’s authority and allow their friend, Milton Cook, to be arrested, thus allowing the Mormons to chalk this up to a win against the Carthage system of law? What kind of a precedent does that set? Or, do they oppose Eldridge and the Mormon posse and stand up to the ever-growing Mormon power, even if fighting now results in the Nauvoo Legion marching into town ready for war?

They chose the latter, let consequences be damned. As soon as Eldridge grabbed Milton Cook, 8 men grabbed Eldridge and pried Cook out of his hands. Stephen Markham stepped forward to assist his fellow brother in the Nauvoo justice system. Seeing Markham go to help Eldridge, a Carthaginian named Dr. Morrison pulled out his pistol and aimed it at Markham. The whole crowd jumped into the fray. Morrison pulled the trigger on his pistol, but Markham reacted quickly again and deflected the shot from hitting him. The gun fired. The pistol ball grazed the head of Zebedee Coltrin, a Mormon Danite from the Kirtland era, and lodged into the ceiling.

This gunshot was a wakeup call and the Mormon posse halted their actions for fear more guns may go off. The 3 Mormons who’d made their way through the mob into the store and were trying to get Milton Cook under control stopped what they were doing and reluctantly let go of the prisoner. The fight was over without any serious wounds. The Mormons were beat.

The Nauvoo posse pulled away from the storefront realizing, “it would be impossible to take [Cook] without bloodshed, and consequently returned home.” As they mounted their horses, one of the Mormon posse, possibly Stephen Markham, parted with this terrifying reply, signaling to the Carthaginians that they’d made a horrible mistake defending Milton Cook. “[We will] return with the Legion, and take the prisoner, or lay the town in ashes!” The worst fears of the worst possible outcome of this brawl were now realized by the Carthaginians, but of course this was the result.

The posse made their way back to Nauvoo where Stephen Markham immediately made an affidavit of his perspective of the events, which was published in the Nauvoo Neighbor of January 10th. The citizens of Carthage also sent word to Thomas Sharp, the editor of the Warsaw Signal, turned Warsaw Message, soon to turn Warsaw Signal again, the leading anti-Mormon paper, and he printed a small report on the same day. From the content of the report it’s clear that conflicting stories made their way to the respective propaganda outlets.

The Nauvoo Neighbor:

We think that it is high time that prompt measures be taken to put a stop to such abominable outrages: if officers can be insulted in this manner, and the law violated with impunity, we think that we shall speedily slide back into the barbarous ages…

If such proceedings as those are cherished, fare well to our republican institutions; farewell to law, equity, and justice, and farewell to all those sacred ties that bind men to their fellow men.

The Warsaw Message in its usual tone of skepticism and seeking further information:

We learn that there was quite an excitement at Carthage yesterday, in consequence of the arrest of a citizen of that place, by a posse of Mormons from Nauvoo, on a charge of Bastardy. The citizens declare that the individual shall not be taken to Nauvoo for trial -- and were under arms in his defence. We do not hear that any fighting was done. The excitement ran high, and may yet result in bloodshed. We hear no further particulars. It is hoped that our citizens will exercise moderation in these scenes of strife -- and on all occasions, make it a paramount duty to support the supremacy of the law. Let others disobey the law, and receive the consequences; but the Anti-Mormon party should ever make the law their shield and their hope.

This was a tough situation. The arrest warrant for Milton Cook was legitimate and Carthage was in Hancock County where the Nauvoo sheriff had jurisdiction to exercise criminal justice. Robert D. Bob the Builder Foster was a legitimate justice of the peace who signed the affidavit from Olive Amanda Fullmer Smith in the first place and wrote the arrest warrant based on her affidavit. The Mormon posse was operating under the color of law. However, in so many instances, the Mormon criminal justice system worked on behalf of criminals. The Nauvoo Municipal court had shielded thieves, let murderers roam free, and had protected the criminal kingpin Joseph Smith himself for nearly half a decade when he was dead to rights under any normal system of law for the crimes he committed in Missouri. The Carthaginians felt justified in opposing the Nauvoo posse because they were tired of the constant scandals and outrage Jo was putting them through daily. They were Americans beholden to the American constitution and criminal justice code. Joseph Smith and his cronies claimed they followed the same laws as every other American, but such adherence had never been demonstrated. They lived under the Law of the Lord and followed Jo’s rules. Jo made the laws, he made the rules, and those who didn’t play by his rules suffered the consequences of the legal system Joseph had demonstrated himself exempt from.

This wonderful paradox makes this scuffle between the Mormons and Carthaginians so wonderfully interesting to me. For once, the Mormons were following the law while the anti-Mormons were violating the due process of the criminal justice system. That equation was flipped in nearly every other circumstance which drew the cities together, but in this unique case the Mormons happened to be on the right side of the law.

This paradox was recognized by Thomas Sharp as more information about the outrage trickled in and he continued to report on it. In an illustration of remarkable restraint, the Warsaw Message called for a meeting between the Mormons and Anti-Mormons to hash out what happened during the fight and figure out if Milton Cook should face the law in Nauvoo, or if Cook should remain in Carthage unmolested. Of course, the editor of the Warsaw Message, Thomas Sharp, was still very clear about drawing the line against the tyrant himself, merely calling for the good citizens involved in the brawl to come to an understanding. Sharp gives Mormons the benefit of the doubt that even they can be sensible about this, even if Jo himself would never seek compromise.

In view of these things, the question occurs to us, whether there is not some common ground, on which the two parties can meet. This is not for the hoary monster {Joseph Smith} who rules at Nauvoo; whose black heart would exult in carnage and bloodshed, rather than yield one iota of that power he had obtained by his hellish knavery. We feel sure that a majority even of his most firm supporters would prefer peace and quietness to rapine and violence. To all such -- to all [who] are not determined to rush headlong to destruction, in carrying out the villainous designs of Smith, we appeal, to meet their fellow citizens in a spirit of concession and compromise; and to the old citizens of the county, we would urgently appeal, to meet them on the same ground.

As a means of bringing about so desirable a result, we respectfully suggest that a public meeting of all parties be called, to meet at Carthage on as early a day as practicable to take into consideration the grievances and their remedy. What say you, Fellow Citizens?

What say you fellow citizens? That was an open petition by Sharp to receive all sorts of incredible letters from readers of the Warsaw Message, some of which he was kind enough to print in subsequent editions covering this “Great Excitement at Carthage”. I have to remark on Thomas Sharp’s ability to dissociate the Mormons from Joseph Smith in this and the following columns. Sharp hated Joseph Smith, but clearly saw the Mormons collectively as otherwise rational people who’d been victimized by Jo. To draw that line and refuse to villainize the entire Mormon population was a laudable stance for Sharp to take, and he was literally one of the founders of the anti-Mormon political party. It’s not that people were anti-Mormon, they were anti-Joseph Smith; they were anti-Tyrant.

The Warsaw Message continued its tirade against the Nauvoo Neighbor concerning what happened during the brawl between the two posses.

The Nauvoo Neighbor, as is usual with that print, on such occasions, comes out with a long rigmarole of untruth, about the affair at Carthage last week, between the citizens and Mormons.

The facts as they occurred, were about as follows: A constable from Nauvoo, went to Carthage on Saturday, and arrested one Milton Cook, on a charge of Bastardy, Before reaching the Justice -- but whether before they left Carthage or not, we did not learn -- the prisoner made his escape from the officer. In the mean time, some of the citizens turned out to defend Cook, declaring that he should not be taken to Nauvoo for trial; but offered no resistance to a hearing before any other magistrate. The officer, seeing that he could not succeed in his attempt, returned to the Justice who issued the writ, who summoned 11 men to his assistance. With this reinforcement, he returned on Monday night; when three or four of the party attacked Mr. Bartlett's grocery, in which Cook was supposed to be. They were met at the door with five or six bayonets, firmly grasped; and it appeared that one Mr. Eagle had no more prudence than to rush violently against one of them, and get himself hurt. Thus repulsed, the party retired for the night.

In the morning, it would seem, as by accident, the parties again met at Wilson's store. Considerable confusion and violence prevailed for a moment; when the pistol of Dr. Morrison, as he was attempting to draw it from his pocket, was accidently discharged. The ball, instead of striking one of the officer’s party in the forehead, and glancing off again, to the imminent danger of the whole -- as the Neighbor has it -- passed very near the Doctor's own head, and lodged in the ceiling! -- No pistol was intentionally fired, and no bayonet plunged at the breast of any of the assailants, during the whole affray.

The combatants now separated; the constable and his posse set out for Nauvoo, declaring that they would return with the Legion, and take the prisoner, or lay the town in ashes!

The above are substantially the facts of the case. We leave our readers to make their own comments.

What actually happened between the two groups is a subject of debate. The sequence of events reported by Stephen Markham don’t necessarily match with what the citizens of Carthage reported, but of course we wouldn’t expect them to because both sides viewed themselves as the correct party and the other as the aggressors.

The meeting to determine the facts and draft resolutions did happen according to the request of the Warsaw Message. But it seems if any Mormons did attend that they were few in number. The Warsaw Message of 17 January 1844 reports the general tone and the resolutions which were passed at the meeting in view of the “Mormon Difficulties” resulting from everything we’ve discussed so far.

Meeting of Citizens at Carthage

At a large and respectable meeting of the citizens of Hancock county, held in the court house in Carthage, on Wednesday the 10th day of January, 1844 --…

The objects of the meeting having been stated by the chairman, on motion, it was decided that Valentine Wilson address the meeting, which he accordingly did in an appropriate and eloquent speech.

After which it was moved and decided that the chairman appoint a committee of three to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting, in regard to certain difficulties with the community of people called Mormons.

The chair named Walter Bagby, Colonel Levi Williams and Henry Newton, for that committee, who reported the following Preamble and Resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

Brief pause to talk about one of those names, Colonel Levi Williams. Back on episode 171 we talked about Daniel Avery and his son being arrested on horse thieving charges. Colonel Levi Williams was the member of the Illinois state militia who executed that arrest and handed Avery over to Sheriff Reynolds in Missouri where Daniel and his son were imprisoned. Colonel Levi Williams is one of the most well-known anti-Mormons of this Nauvoo era. He was one of the five men who stood trial for the assassinations of Jo and Hyrum after the Carthage shootout. He also figures heavily into the schism crises and the removal of most Mormons from the state of Illinois in 1844-7. He was one of the people completely fed up with the Mormons called to the committee to draft the resolution resulting from this meeting, which reads in part:

[W]hile the authorities of the city of Nauvoo have been continually passing ordinances in designation of the laws and constitution of the State of Illinois and of the United States, calculated, if carried into effect to be a source of galling oppression to the citizens of this county, and indeed to all who may be so unfortunate as to be placed under their operation; which laws have been in many cases executed upon individuals to their great detriment and annoyance.

And while we have seen a growing disposition on the part of that community and especially of their leader, the most potent Joseph Smith, to harass us, by dragging our citizens from the most remote parts of the county to Nauvoo, to be tried for every petty offence, and when there to be subjected to all the indignities that the said Smith -- the most foul-mouthed blackguard that ever was commissioned by Satan to vex and torment the children of men -- could invent.

And while we have been threatened, vilified and abused in every possible form and manner, insomuch that we are driven to the conclusion that there is no alternative now left us, but the most object and ignominious resistance;

Still we desire to hold ourselves responsible to the laws of the country, so far as they are reasonably administered; and will at all times cheerfully submit to be tried by officers of our immediate vicinage; Yet --

Resolved, That seeing we have been constrained to believe that the authorities of Nauvoo, by a succession of the most extraordinary ordinances that were ever known to be passed by a deliberating body, design to bar themselves against the just and equitable operation of the laws, as well as by many other indications too numerous here to name. We hereby determine and pledge to each other, our sacred honor, and all our substance, so far as it may be needed, to resist every oppression that may be attempted to be imposed upon us, and every indignity that may be offered to any individual or community in this county, or the surrounding counties, by the authorities of Nauvoo, at the point of the bayonet.

Resolved, That we pledge ourselves most solemnly, that we will at all times hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment's warning, to any point to which we may be called.

Resolved, That each and every one of us will use our influence and our best exertions, to induce those of our immediate neighborhood to engage heartily in the work, by organizing themselves into defensive bodies, that we may be at all times prepared for any emergency.

Resolved, That the editor of the Warsaw Message be requested to publish in his paper the proceedings of this meeting,…

Essentially, resolved, that we’re tired of getting kicked around by the damn Mormons. That’s what this is! They agreed that they will stand against the Mormons at all costs and form defensive bodies should any Mormon threat come into Carthage. The collective mentality that created these resolutions is the exact same mentality by the exact same people that actually killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith only 6 months after this meeting. That’s why this is so important. It’s not like the Carthaginians just marched on the Carthage Jail where the men were interred in a vacuum; they’d been dealing with the injustices of the Mormon empire for years and were done.

It’s also important to recognize that these people clearly understood it was Joseph Smith who was the problem, not the Mormons at large. The resolutions and ordinances passed by the Nauvoo government had all been done at the behest of, and for the benefit of, Joseph Smith. He was the corruptor that was dragging an otherwise industrious and good people to the depths of “blackguard… commissioned by Satan to vex and torment the children of men”. Joseph Smith, as has been the case since we started this podcast, was the issue here, not the beliefs of the Mormons.

The resolutions were designed to be defensive and immediately published in the Warsaw Message. A few folks living in Carthage decided to answer the editor’s call for input about the meeting and the fight which led to the meeting with letters to the editor.

Mr. Gregg: -- in your paper published on the 10th inst., we find some remarks on the difficulties which occurred between the Carthaginians and the Mormons on Monday and Tuesday last, in which I think may be seen a strong squinting at a disposition to compromise with that people. Your closing paragraph runs thus:

"As a means of bringing about so desirable a result, we respectfully suggest that a public meeting of all parties be called, to meet at Carthage on as early a day as practicable to take into consideration the grievances and their remedy. What say you, fellow citizens?"

As for one, I say, NO Never!! Just as well might you call upon us to strike hands with Pirates or to compromise with the Powers of Darkness. Who is there amongst us so wanting in discrimination as not to be able to see, that a community constructed as is that at Nauvoo, headed by a leader so destitute of every moral principle, as we know Jo Smith to be, can be trusted? -- obeying a leader most implicitly who in their very midst has committed so long a catalogue of the most abominable acts, of which the imagination of man can conceive; attempting at the same time to cloak all his outrages under the sacred garb of religion, and that too, the pure and holy religion of Jesus Christ! In view of such wonderful presumption, I am constrained to cry out -- "O blasphemous wretch! Who can trust him?" I repeat it most emphatically, "Let no such man be trusted!" I again answer, I can make no compromise with Nauvoo, as a community, while it avows allegiance to the Beast and the False Prophet. If there are those, as you suggest, who would be willing to rid themselves and the country, of the evils growing out of the mad projects of that presumptuous wretch, let them show their faith by works, and come out, and disabuse themselves of the odium which cleaves to them like the fatal shirt of Nessus, and that will suffice me. For I hold that the little philosophy which I can lay claim to, has never yet taught me that when I see a thief, and other partakers with him, that these last can be honest men! No, Sir, I can never compromise with Jo Smith; nor yet with a community who consider his will as their pleasure -- no matter how absurd. And more especially cannot I compromise with Jo Smith, until I shall have seen his inflated vanity and his intolerable audacity humbled and subdued. I have seen too much of his treachery, and felt too much of his dastardly tyranny, when in the plenitude of his power, he expected no resistance. Who, then, in view of such a being, but with the full assurance that so soon as he shall have found himself in a situation to crush them with impunity, that he will not withhold his hand for a moment? These are my feelings: They are the feelings of one who presumes to subscribe himself,        --- Hannibal.

Signing himself as Hannibal is quite remarkable. From the Classical era, Hannibal Barca was one of the most successful Carthaginian military leaders to fight Rome during the Second Punic War. Somehow he successfully crossed the Alps and infiltrated Italy and proceeded to burn Roman cities in their homeland. He was so close to successfully defeating the Romans over 400 years before the fall of the Western Roman empire. But, unfortunately he failed in his military campaign, arguably because he didn’t receive reinforcements from Carthage at crucial times in his warpath, which eventually led to the fall of Carthage when the Romans raided, pillage, and burned the city to the ground, leveling every structure and salting the ground on which the city stood to ensure it would never be inhabited again. This guy signing Hannibal was a history deep cut, but given the mentality of the anti-Mormon Carthaginians and the ever-expanding Mormon empire, it’s an interesting name to invoke.

Sharp, or Gregg, one of the editors of the Warsaw Message, decided to comment on this letter with a rare display of complete restraint and trying to diffuse the situation while many citizens like this Hannibal character were crying for blood. Once again, I applaud the editor’s ability to separate Joseph Smith from his deluded followers. Jo was the problem here and he was not a person to compromise with. The Mormons at large, however, could be reasoned with; at least that’s what the editor thought.

WE are glad that our Query has brought so prompt an answer -- though so unfavorable to our own views. One has spoken, -- and he has spoken, no doubt, the sentiments of many -- and we desire a further expression, on the part of our citizens. Our columns are always open to well tempered articles on a subject so momentous. Again we ask -- Fellow Citizens, what say you?

We acknowledge, that, in view of all the circumstances -- regarding the high state of excitement which has been produced upon the public mind -- the danger there is of collision and bloodshed, and consequent misery and ruin and death, to hundreds of innocent people -- in view of all these things, we have a "strong squinting at compromise." Rather than do worse, we would "strike hands with Pirates, or compromise with the Powers of Darkness" -- so far, at least, as to agree to a system of non-intercourse. We would not compromise with Joe Smith one inch, in the acknowledgement of his right to plunder, and destroy, and tyrannize, and dupe, as he is doing; or that he is any thing short of a demon in human shape, sent to scourge mankind. But we do believe that there are "ten righteous persons in the city" -- yes, fifty times ten -- who are innocent of any intention to do wrong. And, shall they, too, suffer? Shall there be no discrimination made between these, and that ruthless and guilty band, who disregard all law and all right? Shall all be made to suffer alike -- the innocent with the guilty. God forbid!

We see no use in attempting to disguise the fact, that many in our midst contemplate a total extermination of that people; that the thousands of defenceless women and children, aged and infirm, who are congregated at Nauvoo, must be driven out -- aye, DRIVEN -- SCATTERED -- like the leaves before the Autumn blast! But what good citizen, let us ask -- what lover of his country and his race, but contemplates such an event with honor?

Shall not, we would ask -- shall not the olive branch be at least held out to those innocent -- though deluded -- followers of the prophet? Shall not an attempt be made to set them right, in reference to the designs and aims of those, whom they have heretofore been taught to regard as their worst enemies?

We still persist in the opinion that a compromise may be entered into that will do much good; that will, in its operation, entirely stay the work of destruction. And we call upon all our fellow citizens to aid in bringing about such a compromise.

Another citizen chose to chime in.

Mr. Gregg: -- I have been a silent observer of what has been done and said for some time, though not feeling myself qualified to say anything that would be profitable on the important subjects before the people. Notwithstanding, I see you invite the attention of people to the question of Compromise; & as an old citizen, whose rights and liberties have been trampled under foot, and who loves and highly esteems the old citizens of this county, I feel opposed to a compromise in any shape whatever.

We notice an article in your paper of the 10th inst., in which you say: "We feel sure that a majority even of his most firm supporters would prefer peace and quietness to rapine and violence." Now, sir, I do not know what ground you have to think so; we see and know, that those very individuals will go any length -- even they will hazzard their lives -- for Joe and his measures.

Our conclusions have been the result of deliberate reflection, not made in frenzied excitement; and those reflections, are briefly these: that, as a people, we have every reason to look upon them as a band of knaves, or highway robbers, who, as I said, are willing to hazard their lives to carry out what you call Joe's hellish designs; and as a proof of this, let us notice many of their publications, among which is a statement of the Carthage difficulty, made by Markham, a man in whom they say they can rely; which statement we pronounce basely false. And that is not all; we see that by their knavish and tyrannical conduct, they have been compelled to leave every place they have lived in yet, except this; and from their conduct here, I think they deserve to live among no civilized people.

If there are as many innocent ones as you suppose, as "Hannibal" says, "let them show their faith by their works;" though I confess your faith in their innocence is just "fifty times ten" as strong as mine. I think when I speak my sentiments, I speak the sentiments of many citizens. So we say anything but compromise, until they humble themselves, and bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.

I have the honor to subscribe myself a
                                FARMER'S GUARD.
        Jan. 22, 1844.

No compromise until they humble themselves and admit they’re wrong. If that’s the mentality with which you approach conflict, nobody is going to get anything done. This mentality leads to war and it seems clear that many citizens of Carthage considered a war of extermination to be the best answer to the Mormon problem. Once again, the Warsaw Signal editor takes this citizen to task for their letter which seems to advocate extermination.

We do not know whether to understand our correspondent as advocating the system of expelling or not: but that he is vastly mistaken in his views, as to the number of persons among the Mormons innocent of crime, is perfectly clear. Admit, if he please, that they are a "band of knaves and robbers." that is not decisive that all who reside at Nauvoo are deserving of punishment. By no means. One half of the adult population of that city are females, who necessarily associate themselves with their husbands, fathers and brothers. How are those to come out from among their natural protectors, and "show their faith by their works?" What would our correspondent do with these? Probably one half of the whole population of the city, is children under the age of seven or ten years -- not responsible in law for their own acts; and would our friends make them responsible for those of their guilty fathers? We blush for our country, and for the age in which we live, to be compelled to denounce such odious -- such fearful doctrines!

We will go as far as any one, in bringing the real criminals to justice, by the force of the LAW: beyond this we cannot go! The shield, as well as the sword, is its emblem. While it punishes [the] guilty, it must also protect the innocent.

One word more. The verdict of the American people will ever be against those who resort to force to effect their purposes. It ever has been, and is now so. We rejoice that it is the case; and hope that it ever may continue to be so.

The main takeaway from this interaction between the Mormons and the citizens of Carthage is that this was a harbinger of what the future held for these groups of people. Sharp saying that the verdict of the American people is against those who resort to force to affect their purposes simply cannot be further from the truth. We relish violence. In the 19th century just as much today people are able and willing to justify violence committed against other humans. The tribalism and vilification of the other group in today’s episode is such a fascinating microcosm of what humans always do to each other. This interaction revealed human natures which transcend simple distinctions like religious, class, or racial divisions. Whether it was the Carthaginians and the Romans or the Carthaginians and the Mormons, violence seemed like the only possible conclusion, and violence ended up ruling the day.

In spite of people with cooler heads like Thomas Sharp trying to calm tensions down by calling for a meeting for everybody to just sit down and talk this out, cooler heads rarely prevail among those who desire the bloodshed of their enemies. Sharp did the proper work of journalism here. Instead of stoking the flames like the John Taylor at the Nauvoo Neighbor, Thomas Sharp’s articles in the Warsaw Message were that of calling for tolerance and understanding while reporting the Carthage side of the conflict, while also recognizing the prevailing sentiments of the vast majority of Carthaginians wanting the exterminate the Mormons.

The groups didn’t want compromise, they wanted victory. Victory for Carthage was no longer having to deal with the Mormons as terrible neighbors. Victory for the Mormons was mortal deification of their great and wonderful leader as king of the world. Those two concepts simply don’t work together and compromise seemed just as impossible for the people living through this as it does for historians looking back at the conflict. Unfortunately, the people in power at this time were largely impotent. Governor Thomas Ford had done all he thought he could do to deescalate the conflict and have Jo answer for his crimes and it didn’t work. How could he step in without calling in a militia and even further escalating the conflict? There simply wasn’t a human system in place that could handle the conflict between the Mormon and the Carthaginians. As much as we will relish the day when Jo meets his great demise on this podcast, and as much as the people at the time who hated the prophet relished his death, Jo’s death didn’t actually solve anything. That singular act of violence, within the context of escalating tensions, didn’t actually make the world a better place for most of the people affected by Mormonism. In many ways, Jo’s death was the catalyst for so much more suffering and pain for tens of thousands of people.

Violence begets violence, and those involved rarely listen to a logical observer telling everybody to just calm down. If we don’t understand our history, we’re doomed to repeat it.

Big announcement, our updated paper on the Smith-entheogen theory is finally online.

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