Ep 205 – An Inevitable Riot and a Sham Trial

On this episode, Joseph Smith again heads to the courts charged with riot along with 17 other Mormon elites. Whether or not this Nauvoo Municipal Court hearing would carry any weight would forecast the actions of the Mormon leadership following it. None of the victims of the crime (destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor printing press) were allowed to testify, insuring this was a kangaroo court which began the trial with the conclusion already in mind. After the hearing Jo spends the rest of the day issuing orders and writing or receiving letters while his bois took affidavits about the movements of the anti-Mormons in the surrounding settlements. Jo intercepts a message stating the dissenters were planning on destroying the press of the Nauvoo Neighbor that night and he sets the Nauvoo Legion out on an overnight guard of his home and the Neighbor printing office. Then we discuss a little-known artifact of Mormon history, a very special little journal that William Clayton (Quilliam Claypen) recorded for a short period during this chaotic time of Nauvoo Mormonism.


Appendix 4 William Clayton Daily Account

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Inevitable is a dreaded word. Rarely is inevitable associated with something good for everybody. Even stating victory was inevitable implies defeat was inevitable for half the players. Inevitable doesn’t care what we think, or what we say or do to mitigate its power, it just is. We can fight inevitable and some of humans’ greatest achievements have been accomplished in the face of seemingly inevitable defeat. But, that “seemingly” is a powerful modifying word.

The Nauvoo Expositor had been destroyed. The Fosters, Higbees, Laws, and Joseph H. Jackson were the primary enemies of the prophet. Battle lines had been drawn. The tribes had balkanized and conflict was inevitable. The mad tyrant’s reign would inevitably come to an end one way or another. We know the inevitability of the situation but absolutely nothing was set in stone on June 17th, 1844. Joseph Smith was again under arrest and headed to the Nauvoo Municipal Court with 17 of his co-conspirators on charges of riot. The list of options Jo had to escape the legal charges was growing rather short. The anti-Mormon political party in nearby Carthage and Illinois were gathering strength and reinforcements from Missouri, still smarting from the Missouri-Mormon war and the attempted assassination attempt of former Governor Lilburn W. Boggs. Everybody in the state wanted Jo to be held to the same system of laws by which everybody else abides and the Mormon leadership wanted to be allowed to do whatever they pleased with impunity. Those two concepts can’t exist in the same time and space together. What was Jo to do in the face of the immovable object of the law impeding his unstoppable force of a Mormon revolution of America?

He’d laid out the options for himself and the leadership who was still in Nauvoo, which was a skeleton crew at the moment. First option was what was undertaken and the remaining options would be contingent on the success of the first option, which was to handle the case in the Nauvoo court. If that was successful, business would continue as usual and Jo would need to emplace stricter control over the city. If the case was officially thrown out of the Nauvoo court and the circuit court at Carthage didn’t seek overruling the power of the Nauvoo Court, that would set a precedent of the Nauvoo City Council’s ability to quash any rival papers or dissenting movements in the city, harbor fugitives like Jeremiah Smith from justice, and manufacture and trade counterfeit coins from that point forward.

The result of this, however, would be vigilante justice. The non-Mormons of Illinois would exterminate the Mormons as had happened in Missouri as a consequence of the Mormon leadership’s lawlessness in 1838 and events were coming to a head revealing that a similar fate was inevitable. This meant that any calculation of risks, actions, and results had to take into account the next Mormon exodus. Another exodus had been in the works for 6 months. California, Oregon, Mexico, Texas, anywhere the rule of law wouldn’t be enforced were locations the Mormons sent scouts to find the location for the next Mormon settlement. The Expositor being published and the Mormon leadership settling on an act of tyranny accelerated all these plans. If justice was to be served on the prophet and his leaders, they’d escape and command the saints to once again resettle in a location where justice couldn’t find them.

The plan to get the Nauvoo Court to dismiss the charges had been implemented once, but Jo met with a fellow master in the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge who advised him to have a more legitimate hearing and Jo took the advice into consideration. June 17th was the date of his second hearing in a week on the charges of riot for destroying the Nauvoo Expositor. The proceedings of the court were recorded and published in the Nauvoo Neighbor in hopes that distribution would calm the growing tension in nearby Carthage and they’d stop sending constables to Nauvoo to bring Jo to the circuit court there.

The court convened and 18 men were charged with riot, under the arrest of constable Joel S. Miles, a Joseph Smith crony. I want to read all the 18 individuals in league with the prophet for this charge of riot. Why read their names? We get the illusion that this was Jo and Hyrum responsible for burning the Expositor press but the truth is that without a cacophony of sycophants cheering them on the press never would have been destroyed and June 1844 Illinois history would be much different than it is. These are the enablers who stood by while a tyrant quashed his enemies, maybe some of you are descended from them.

State of Illinois vs. Joseph Smith, Samuel Bennett, John Taylor, W. W. Phelps, Hyrum Smith, John P. Greene, Stephen Perry, Dimick B. Huntington, Jonathan Dunham, Stephen Markham, Jonathan H. Holmes, Jesse P. Harmon, John Lytle, Joseph W. Coolidge, Harvey D[avid]. Redfield, O. Porter Rockwell and Levi Richards.

These were the men “brought before the court by Joel S. Miles, constable of the county” on complaint of a guy named W. G. Ware, and these charges were, “for a ‘riot committed in the city of Nauvoo,… by forcibly entering a brick building,… occupied as a printing office, and taking therefrom by force, and with force of arms, a printing-press, types and paper, together with other property belonging to William Law, Wilson Law, Robert D. Foster, Charles A. Foster, F. M. Higbee, Chaunc[e]y L. Higbee and Charles Ivins, and breaking in pieces and burning the same in the streets.’” The operative pieces of these charges will figure quite heavily into the hearing today because it wasn’t just destruction of property but the destruction of the building and other property belonging to the printers. We’ll get into it in the hearing but essentially the printing press was just one item worth money that the mob destroyed but they also burned and stole a bunch of other stuff in the office. The defendants retained George P. Stiles as their legal counsel and another Jo crony, Edward Bonney, served as the prosecution on behalf of the State of Illinois.

First witness was called by the prosecution and already some waffling about was going on.

W.G. Ware sworn: Said he was present when the city council passed an order for the destruction of the press; went up to the Temple and heard the Marshal read the order of the mayor; did not know how they got into the building; the press was taken out and destroyed.

Not exactly a star witness for the prosecution to call to make the case. The material facts at issue here are the legality of the order of the city council which caused Jo to command the city marshal to destroy the printing press, the destruction of property other than the printing press, which included forcible entry into a private residence, and the destruction of other property inside the building housing the printing press. The opening prosecution witness gave absolutely no illumination to any details of any of those material facts. Everybody in this courtroom were Joseph Smith allies trying to shield him from prosecution; of course we wouldn’t expect this to be conducted fairly and in view of actual justice. This was Jo’s court and they were going to do whatever necessary to achieve the verdict he wanted.

Immediately, George P. Stiles objected to W.G. Ware’s testimony because he started to read out the names of those involved in the city council meeting which passed the ordinance and determined the Expositor to be a public nuisance. Apparently Stiles didn’t want them named in the hearing because that would put all of them into the realm of accessory to the crime of inciting riot. George P. Stiles himself was included as one of the aldermen who voted in support of the Expositor’s destruction and if this first witness started naming names people would look around the court and realize that everybody involved in the hearing right in front of them were all accessory to the crime in question. They all knew they were all guilty of the charges but having all of their names read out in the court would pull back the veil of this kangaroo court. To substantiate his objection, Stiles read some legal doctrine concerning the technicalities of riot, stating “there could be no accessory.” Because riot apparently isn’t a premeditated crime there couldn’t be accessory to it. That was his line of reasoning which is absurd at best, but the court spent some time deliberating about it.

Bonney, the prosecuting attorney read the legal statute, “and plead there might be an accessory to a riot. Court decided there might be an accessory to any crime either before or after the fact.” Stiles’ objection was that riot charges couldn’t have accessory participants and the prosecutor read the actual words of the criminal statute, then they all agreed, yeah maybe there can be accessory to riot like there can be accessory to any crime. Meh, oh well. And the court proceeded by allowing W. G. Ware to name just a few of those who voted the Expositor a nuisance.

Witness knew some who voted for the order in the city council; heard Gen. Dunham give orders for the destruction of the press; Dunham, Redfield, and Richards took an active part in the destruction of the press. Did not know all the persons.

Once again, the first witness the prosecution brought was an eyewitness to the meetings who simply couldn’t recall everybody connected with the crime. Of course, the court could subpoena the city council minutes we read on the show but Jo’s Nauvoo court would never subpoena any document which might incriminate him or his fellow yes-men. W. G. Ware, the witness, was cross-examined by the defense attorney, George P. Stiles.

City council considered the press a nuisance and ordered it to be abated; was present at the execution of the mayor’s orders; no unnecessary noise; all was done peaceably; saw no disorder; heard no language by the prisoners calculated to disturb the peace.

Okay so these are all just lies. Yes, the city council declared the Expositor a nuisance but everything Ware said after it was all slanted truths or lies. First off, a riot happened, but the court was doing its best to paint the printers of the Expositor as the creators of the riot, not the people who were destroying their property. What kind of a crazy catch-22 were they trying to set up? We can destroy your stuff because Jo said we could but if you say anything about it we’re going to charge you with riot! And, of course, anybody who could contradict these assertions wasn’t called to testify. None of the printers of the Expositor who suffered the criminal act were called in to give their side of the story. So, the court reflecting “heard no language by prisoners [Jo and friends] calculated to disturb the peace” couldn’t be declared lies by anybody even though it absolutely was a lie. Similarly with “no unnecessary noise; all was done peaceably; saw no disorder” and everything else the cross-examination record contains. This is what happens when courts are working with a results-driven agenda, we get a slanted, bastardized version of the truth and that asinine interpretation of the facts becomes law.

Next witness to the stand in this farce of a hearing was Henry O. Norton who said:

Was at the printing office; heard Marshal [John P.] Greene give orders to open the door. [Stephen] Markham carried out the press and type; recollected Dunham; could no identify any others; no contention between the marshal and [Francis M.] Higbee; marshal asked Charles A. Foster for the key which he refused to give; heard no threats concerning the destruction of the press at any time.

And here we have some new details to work with. The printers of the Expositor were aware the mob was forming to destroy their press and clearly, at least some of them, attended the inevitable destruction that fateful night of June 10th, but apparently Marshal John P. Greene was kind enough to ask Charles A. Foster for the key to the printing office, which of course he refused, and that somehow gave them license to break into it. Then, in the heat of the moment, for “no contention between the marshal and” Francis Higbee to be in the record is absolutely insane to me. Of course there was contention, the marshal was there to destroy his press and silence his right to freedom of speech. To claim he just sat back with folded arms and silently watched it happen is such a blatant lie. If he did just sit back and watch it happen, why did a riot happen? And if there wasn’t a riot and everything was conducted peaceably without unnecessary noise, why the charges brought in the first place? Let’s be very clear, the whole reason Jo agreed to be arrested by the Carthage constable in the first place and have his court hearing we discussed 2 weeks ago was because the printers of the Expositor fled the night it was burned and went to Carthage to swear out affidavits to the facts, which generated the charge of riot and sent the Carthage constable to Nauvoo with a set of handcuffs with Jo’s name on them. If not for the Expositor printers immediate resistance and action, there wouldn’t have been ANY criminal charges against Jo and the other 17 men responsible for destroying the press. Imagine being in the situation of any of the printers during this. Let me be very clear. If a couple dudes with SCMC badges broke into my house ripped my laptop from under my wrists, threw it onto the sidewalk and set it on fire, I’d put up a bit of a fuss and I’d immediately report the crime. But, because this is Nauvoo in 1844, the members of the ruling party of the city were judge, jury, executioner, witnesses, attorneys, marshals, policemen, militiamen, defendants, prosecutors, and victims of the claimed false accusations of riot.

An issue is going to become a central focus of this hearing and that is a desk. The next witness statement we read will provide a little insight into the importance of this desk and nearly every subsequent witness statement will hinge on this desk and its ultimate fate. What’s at issue is not the desk, but the contents of it. This was the desk in the printing office which held important and irreplaceable documents connected with the Expositor. In the draws of this desk a person may find land deeds, promissory notes, and other effects but the most important was the subscriber list to the Expositor. A single ledger book which contained the names of the hundreds or thousands of people who purchased a subscription to the Nauvoo Expositor from when the prospectus was published on May 10th all the way to the actual first edition published on June 7th. This book would essentially contain a hitlist of dissenters who purchased the Expositor throughout the city. The monetary value for subscriptions and the following witness statements leads me to believe that at least 1,500 people subscribed to the Expositor. That list of names was a valuable resource for Jo to have as each one of those people formed the foundation of the dissent movement in the city. It would be best for Jo if that book was destroyed, or the desk containing it at least, but it would be far more valuable in Jo’s hands because a list of your enemies with their addresses and terms of subscription is invaluable information. Whatever happened to the desk or the papers contained in its drawers is a matter of historical mystery and the hearing we’re reading through today reveals why it’s such a mystery. This would be one hell of a document find if that ledger book survived to this day.

The next person to take the stand was O. F. Moesseur, who similarly witnessed the destruction of the press but similarly “could not identify any person; heard no loud talking or noise.” However, the next witness provides a window into the events that no other witness reported before, some details of which cast a pretty ugly light on the marshal who forcibly entered the building a burned the press.

P.T. Rolfe sworn: was at work in the printing office last Monday night, C. Higbee came in and said the council was about to destroy the press, and took some papers from the desk; Marshal Greene came with a company and demanded the key. Foster and Higbee forbid him; door was opened by Lytle, as witness thought; the press and fixtures were destroyed; some paper and a desk belonging to Dr. Foster containing several thousands dollars of property, $4,000 auditor’s warrants and other valuable papers.

This is so much more troubling than just breaking into the printing office and destroying the press because a press could be replaced for a few hundred dollars. However, the $4,000 worth of auditor’s warrants and other papers, possibly even including stuff like land deeds, is a much greater personal criminal offense. So, not only did the SCMC guys break into my house and throw my laptop into the street and set it on fire but they also found all my personal papers, the title to my car, all my emails with all my supporters on patreon, and a bunch of other documents I need to conduct my business and stole or burned all of them. Just for context, $4,000 alleged here is about $137,000 in 2020 money. I think the owners of that printing press had plenty good reason to be infuriated at what the city marshal did at the direction of the prophet king of Nauvoo.

Next this witness is cross-examined by the defense attorney, George P. Stiles.

Did not know the amounts of warrants and papers; presumed they were destroyed. Did not know they were destroyed. Did not know whether they were destroyed; was from the office long enough to have them taken out. Said Greene, Dunham, Markham, Holmes, Perry, Edwards, and Harmon helped move the press. Never knew anything against Joseph Smith personally.

The cross-examination here is pretty crucial because it was determining whether the $4,000 worth of papers and materials were actually destroyed by the marshal and Nauvoo Legion officers or whether they possibly stole the goods. His testimony leaves open the possibility that he was out of the office for long enough that they could have carried the stuff off instead of just outright destroying it. Then, of course, he had to add in that he never knew anything against Joseph Smith personally as some kind of insurance Jo wanted in the court so even if these other men were judged guilty for destroying the property or stealing it, Jo’s name was clean. That’s how mob bosses work, they never get their own hands dirty.

Next on the block was a guy named B. Warrington who said he “was present at the council when the bill passed to destroy the press.” To his statement, Joseph Smith raised an objection related to Congressional immunity. We need to spend a bit of time with this objection because I find it truly fascinating. Jo claimed “all legislative bodies have a right to speak freely on any subject before them; and that Congress is not responsible for a riot which might arise on execution of their order by the marshal; that the execution of such order could not be a riot, but a legal transaction.”

Let’s deal with that. I had to call on help from legal counsel of the show, Andrew Torrez of the Opening Arguments podcast, to tease apart Jo’s objection here. The point Jo makes here is that Congressional immunity applies to members of his city council. This is relatively reasonable because it’s a doctrine in our constitution that members of Congress are to be immune from civil suits relative to their government duty. If citizens could sue their president every time he makes a false statement, he’d never leave the courtroom and would have no time to run the country. Many would argue that in certain circumstances that’s for the better but we can also see how such a system could be weaponized against political opponents. Such is the case with Congressional immunity and that was the point Jo was making here. The way Americans hold their representatives accountable for lying or what they perceive is misconduct is by voting them out, not by suing them. There are oversight committees and ethics organizations whose sole task is regulation of these immunity powers, but that’s a separate and much larger issue.

But the point Jo made here is an interesting one, that if a riot results from an act passed by Congress then they aren’t responsible. This is actually true as well because proving a crime requires a chain of causality. The issue has to be a proximate cause of the damages and has to be proven as such. For example: I’m driving my bright red Miata on a country road and I accidentally hit a bicyclist. They’re injured, the ambulance comes and doesn’t get to the hospital in time to save them, I’m legally responsible for their injury and death as there’s an unbroken chain of causality from me hitting them to their death. However, if that same person has a chance of surviving and on their way to the hospital in an ambulance, a drunk driver hits the ambulance, preventing them from getting to the hospital when they otherwise would have and the bicyclist dies because of that subsequent accident, I’m legally responsible for their injury, but not their death because the chain of causality was broken by the drunk driver. With that logic, Congress, or Jo’s city council, passing a law or ordinance which results in a riot is nearly impossible to prove a chain of causality legally speaking. I know it seems counterintuitive but law often is. So, Jo’s council is first making the case that a riot didn’t occur because witnesses were produced on their behalf who said as much. But, there’s a second level of defense which is more legally sound that Jo’s council can fall back on, that of even if a riot did occur you can’t prove it was because of an ordinance being passed.

With this as a precursor, Jo goes on to make a subsequent point. “That the doings of the city council could only be called into question by the powers above them; and that a magistrate had not that power; that the city council was not arraigned here for trial; but individuals were arraigned for a riot.”

This is a super interesting point. Given the premise proposed of city council immunity, Jo made the case that the 18 people, including himself, who were arraigned in the municipal court for riot are arraigned in as private citizens, not as members of the city council. Was this actually a better argument? If they were brought in as members of the city council they enjoy the powers of immunity, but if they’re private citizens they’re all vulnerable to the charges of riot at issue in this trial. I think Jo had a deeper motive in making sure the trial was against private citizen instead of city councilors, and that was the color of law. If their conduct is brought into question as a result of this trial, it puts the legitimacy of his entire city council in jeopardy. However, if this riot charge can be pinned on private citizens instead of their actions as city councilors, the government of Jo’s little fiefdom is no longer at issue. The exchange of that means that himself and his councilors are vulnerable, no longer being covered by that city council immunity, but the council itself remains immune. Besides, this entire hearing was done under color of law. It was done so it looks as if it’s a legitimate hearing but the conclusions were already decided before the hearing was ever called. Jo and his conspirators were never going to answer for any crimes because his municipal court would never rule against their prophet, priest, and king, even the great and immortal Joseph Smith.

He makes a final point in his objection: “If the city council had transcended their powers they were amenable to the supreme court, and that Judge Thomas had decided that an action could not lie if no riot had been committed.”

This only adds more context to his overall objection, that these men were acting as citizens and weren’t arraigned in court in their official capacity. If this court were determining the validity of laws and ordinances passed by the city council, those laws and ordinances are to be adjudicated at higher courts. He says supreme court but that’s not accurate, they’d first go to the circuit court at Carthage, which would not treat the prophet and his bois (with an “I”) so favorably so he’d much prefer it goes straight to the supreme court, which it wouldn’t.

The court apparently agreed with Jo’s objections and ruled “Court decided that the gentlemen arraigned were arraigned in their individual capacities, and could not be recognized by the court in their official capacity.” This was consistent with the law of the time and according to Andrew Torrez it was the best defense Jo could put forward legally speaking. But, once again, we have to keep in mind the tightrope Jo was trying to walk in making the individuals on the city council liable for their actions in an effort to not call the legality of his city council into question.

At this point, George P. Stiles, the attorney defending Jo and the city councilors as private citizens instead of in their official capacity moved to dismiss the prisoners for want of a case being made out. Councilor Bonney, the prosecuting attorney “read the riot act, and plead a case had been made out” and the court decided to overrule the dismissal and continue to hear witness statements.

Next, a guy from New York, Dr. J.R. Wakefield, a Joseph Smith crony, took the stand. He once again makes the case that there wasn’t a riot, but if there was a riot it was the fault of Francis Higbee, not Marshal John P. Greene or Major-General Jonathan Dunham of the Nauvoo Legion.

Dr. J.R. Wakefield… said he went on the hill after the order passed the council, saw some portion of the Legion collected, walking quietly along as though they were walking to the “Dead March in Saul”; there was no noise or tumult. Higbee asked the marshal his authority; marshal stated his authority from the mayor for abating the nuisance. Higbee set them all at defiance; some twelve men were called out who went up stairs and opened the door; did not know how the door was opened; there was not more than one thump. Marshal Greene asked one of the officers if anything was destroyed except what belonged to the press? and the officer replied, [“]No![“] All was done in perfect order, as peaceably as people move on a Sunday; was present all the time; all that was done, was done in their official capacity as officers of the city.

At issue here was the force which was used to break into the Expositor printing office and Francis Higbee refusing to give up the keys which required the marshal and legionnaires to break into the office in the first place. If they can dissociate this act of violence from the riot it further breaks that chain of causality we talked about earlier. To briefly provide a comment on the meta-analysis here; this hearing would be vastly different if Higbee himself was allowed to testify. Jo’s court could always produce witnesses on Jo’s behalf and any witnesses who might contradict that narrative Jo’s council was weaving here would never be called to the stand. Because we aren’t able to get the statements of Higbee or the Fosters or the Laws in this whole ordeal, the Nauvoo Municipal Court is at liberty to create whatever truth they feel will best serve them. By the end of the hearing, the foregone conclusion will be arrived at which will set into sequence a chain of events that led to vigilante justice.

But, to take a step back even further, we can see the mechanisms at work. This is how tyrants rule. They establish the order of society and people follow their rules. When challenges to their power occasionally crop up, they can exercise the powers of their own system to quash the insurrection. Like a game of whack-a-mole but Jo and his bois have the hammer of the Nauvoo Municipal Court that could whack 7 moles with a single swing. However, this hold on power was tenuous because the remedy for terrible laws being passed by corrupt city councilors or congresspeople is by voting them out. Sure, Jo’s banana republic works when 90% of the city are Mormons and they all vote in goosestep behind their divine leader, but what happens in 5 years when only 70% of the voting public are Mormon? What happens in 15 years when Mormons only represent 49% of the voting public? That power slips away and when people are mad they vote. When voting isn’t immediate enough of a fix, they protest. When protests aren’t effective they become riots. When riots don’t do the trick they escalate into rebellion and soon a government is locked in the turmoil of a revolution. The model Jo was using to retain his complete and total power was exceptionally vulnerable and time was ticking before it teetered off the precipice he’d manufactured.

The next witness called exemplifies this problem of witnesses could be produced who would say anything necessary in the Nauvoo court.

E. Wingott (of Boston) concurred in Dr. Wakefield’s statements; was by the door when it was opened, and knew that nothing more than a knee was put against it; all was done quietly; was present in the city council when the order passed; nothing said in council except what was said in capacity of councilors and aldermen; was by the door all the time when the press and type, and things used in connection with the press, was destroyed. There was no other property taken from the building.

How do we square that statement with the previous statement from P. T. Rolfe which claimed upwards of $4,000 of materials, documents, and property were destroyed in addition to the press and type? We don’t. We simply forget that previous witness statement and we take what Wingott and Wakefield said that it was only the press and type which was destroyed. Also, no sledgehammer was used to break into the printing office, it was just a guy’s knee he used to push the door open. This statement doesn’t comport with all the other evidence presented in the previous trial from a week ago that we discussed nor does it comport with the previous statements in this very hearing. It illustrates to us that they were in the process of writing their own narrative of the story. And, once again, the most pressing issue in both these hearings is that none of the witnesses who were actually the victims of the perceived crime were allowed to testify. If the Fosters, Higbees, or Laws were to testify to their version of the facts, this would be a very different hearing and we’d learn a lot more from the record than currently exists.

At this point, White-out Willard Richards, clerk for the city council, was called to the stand and he read the ordinance concerning libelous publications, the resolution declaring the Expositor a public nuisance, and the Marshal’s reply to Jo’s order that it was carried out successfully. After that, Dr. Wakefield took the stand again to continue to weave this narrative the city council and Jo were spinning in the court.

…heard marshal tell the officers and men to hurt no property except the press, type and fixtures: and after the abatement marshal inquired if his order had been obeyed, and the officers said it had.

The troubling fact of the matter is that every man who executed these orders was a Danite who swore to protect the prophet with their own life. Of course they would lie on the stand and they were accountable only to Joseph Smith who has exhibited a pattern of deception his entire life. We can’t trust anything any of these men are saying, which is even further exemplified when E. Wingott takes the stand again and weaves another tall tale. The witnesses following him continue in the same vein concerning a desk that was supposedly not burned, which supposedly didn’t contain the $4,000 worth of documents even if it was burned because these guys saw Foster take the documents out of the totally not burned desk before the desk totally wasn’t burned.

E. Wingott… Heard Mr. Foster ask Higbee for the key of the office, and afterwards saw him deliver the key to Mr. Higbee; there was nothing destroyed but what pertained to the press.

Addison Everett (of New York) sworn: Saw the press and type taken out and burned; saw no other property burned; desk might have been taken away before; should not have seen it if it had been; saw no desk burned; does not believe any desk was burned.

Joel S. Miles sworn: Foster said his docket was not burned. Witness was sure that Dr. Foster said he had taken other papers out of the desk.

W.G. Ware called again: Saw Charles Foster coming from the office, and go into Foster’s house with books under his arm; looked like account books; saw nothing but the press and fixtures brought out except a chair, and the marshal ordered it carried back.

E. Wingott recalled: Stood close by the door; could see all that was done, did not believe a desk could be brought out and he not see it.

These witnesses put on a stunning performance. There was no desk burned. There may have been a desk in the office but it wasn’t removed. There may have been papers in the desk but it wasn’t removed or burned but the papers were removed by Foster before the marshal destroyed the press and totally didn’t destroy the desk which had the papers in it. The marshal had to break into the printing office with his knee but he asked Francis Higbee for the key first and he refused to give the key up so he had to break in but it was only with his knee and it was done quietly and nobody took any notice and no riot happened and if a riot happened it was the fault of Higbee and Foster but there wasn’t a riot and if there was a riot we can’t be blamed for it. But, wait, there’s more.

Dr. Wak[e]field recalled: Joseph Smith and Hyrum were not on the hill at all that evening.

So whatever happened that night, I hope you’re just as confused as I am, Jo and Hyrum didn’t participate so they can’t possibly be guilty of anything. And, to drive home the point, a guy named Joseph W. Coolidge, another Joseph Smith crony, took the stand for the final testimony of the day.

Joseph W. Coolidge was discharged by the court and sworn: Charles Foster asked Francis Higbee for the key to the office: Higbee hesitated; Foster said he wanted to get a desk that had some valuable papers in it; Foster got the key and went in; did not see him remove the desk; might have removed it and witness not see it; there was no desk burned.

That’s the record of the court and the desired conclusion had been reached.

The councilors submitted the case without a plea, and the court discharged the prisoners.

June 17th was an eventful day. After Jo and his 17 co-conspirators were released from this asinine farce of a trial, Jo took to writing letters and a proclamation while his various henchmen continued their business in the city. Stephen Markham, Piggy-bank Steve as we’ve called him before, made an affidavit before White-out Willard Richards stating “the public papers, especially the Warsaw papers, [Thomas C. Sharp’s Warsaw Signal] and from reports from the various precincts, a mob may be expected to make an immediate attack upon the citizens and city of Nauvoo, on account of the gatherings at the various precincts, and threats to exterminate the Latter Day Saints.” Markham had just returned from Warsaw with a copy of the most recent extra printed by the Warsaw Signal which contained the charge of the citizens to rise up and exterminate the Mormons. He saw the mobs forming and the only thing the Mormons could do at this moment in time was to collect affidavits like this and prepare the city for war, which is exactly what Jo did.

Jo wrote a proclamation in the evening of June 17th, just a few hours after the hearing we just read.


To John P. Greene, Marshal of the city of Nauvoo. &c.:

Sir:--Complaint having been made to me on oath that a mob is collecting at sundry points to make an attack on this city, you will therefore take such measures as shall be necessary to preserve the peace of said city, according to the provisions of the charter and the law of the State; and with the police and Legion see that no violent act is committed.

And a separate proclamation went to Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion, Jonathan Dunham stating “you are hereby commanded to order the Nauvoo Legion to be in readiness to assist said marshal in keeping the peace, and doing whatever may be necessary to preserve the dignity of the State and City.” But, another order was sent to Jonathan Dunham which took into account what had transpired the last time Jo issued similar orders to destroy the Expositor Press.

You are hereby instructed to execute all order of the marshal, and perform all services with as little noise and confusion as possible, and take every precaution to prevent groups of citizens, &c., from gathering on the bank of the river on the landing of boats or otherwise, and allay every cause and pretext of excitement as well as suspicion, and yet let your operations be efficient and decided.

This was a prophylactic measure to keep from being arraigned in for riot again. If Jo had an order like this he could point to after another riot he could claim that he explicitly instructed Jonathan Dunham to not rile up the citizens. If they happened to be riled up into a riot, it totally wasn’t Jo’s fault. He was preempting another hearing like the one he’d just experienced the same day and wanted documentation to show that no riot was his fault. But, he wasn’t done just yet because Jo got some troubling intel.

It is reported that William and Wilson Law have laid a plan to burn the printing office of the Nauvoo Neighbor this night; I therefore stationed a strong police round the premises and throughout the city.

Whether or not William and Wilson Law were actually planning to burn the Nauvoo Neighbor press and pi the type as had happened to their own press, we’ll never know because I can’t find any other document than what’s recorded in the HoC which corroborates that plan. However, Jo’s reaction was expected and he set up a guard overnight to make sure they didn’t affect any plan, even if it was nothing more than a rumor, possibly circulated by the Laws themselves to see how the prophet would react to the intel.

There was another fire to deal with and that came from the Warsaw Signal. Thomas Sharp had printed allegations that Hyrum Sidekick-Abiff Smith had threatened his life and his paper, the Signal, in the city council meeting. Hyrum would give long-nosed Sharp some snuff to sneeze at. Jo put the Nauvoo Neighbor to work to answer this anti-Mormon propaganda with some Mormon propaganda.


We whose names are undersigned having seen in the Warsaw Signal, containing the proceedings of a meeting held at Carthage on the 13th inst., many statements calculated to arouse the indignation and wrath of the people against the citizens of Nauvoo, do certify that Hyrum Smith did not make any threats, nor offer any reward against the Signal, or its editor in the city council:

16 signatures of Joseph Smith’s bois.

Jo also called together his personal vanguard to appear before the Nauvoo Mansion in full regalia. He sent an order to Colonel A.P. Rockwood. He was absolutely expecting the mob to come into Nauvoo that night or the next day, which were absolutely reasonable expectations. Mobs were forming in the nearby anti-Mormon hotbed cities of Carthage and Warsaw and it was only a matter of time before they appeared, thus Jonathan Dunham’s orders to have the Nauvoo Legion patrol the wharf and break up any large gatherings of people. This was Jo’s orders to A.P. Rockwood, a Danite and colonel in the Legion.

You are hereby commanded to notify my guard and staff, to appear at headquarters, without delay, armed and equipped according to law for military duty and inspection, with powder and ball.

A Lieutenant-General doesn’t call together his personal bodyguard platoon and staff fully armed with powder and ball because he wants to have a parade. He does it when he expects his life is in imminent danger, which it was. The reports of the Laws wanting to burn the Nauvoo Neighbor, the growing mobs in Carthage and Warsaw, the letters from Mormon settlements all over the State that mobs were entering their cities and demanding their guns and Jo telling his uncle John Smith and friend Isaac Morley to only give the guns up if you give up your lives; too many moving parts all threatened Joseph Smith and he wanted an active bodyguard fully armed around his house, patrolling the landing of the Mississippi a few blocks from his house, and guarding his own printing press. Add into this, only an hour before midnight of this incredibly eventful day, Jo received a messenger.

a Negro came into my office with an open letter without any date or name, and said that Dr. [Robert D. Bob the Builder] Foster gave it to him at Madison to give Henry O. Norton. In that letter Foster said that Dunham and Richards swore in my presence that they would kill [Foster] in two days; and that there was a man in Madison would swear he had heard them say so at my house.

Now Jo had intercepted a letter for a dissenter with intel that somebody heard 2 Danites telling Jo they’d kill Robert D. Foster in two days and they were willing to testify to the fact. As this letter was intercepted at 11 p.m., no action could be taken to deal with it until the next day. However, one of the final actions of that evening was to put W. W. Phelps to work to manufacture some propaganda to be published in a Nauvoo Neighbor extra for that evening.


As a soft breeze in a hot day mellows the air, so does the simple truth calm the feelings of the irritated; and so we proceed to give the proceedings of the city council relating to the removal of the Nauvoo Expositor as a nuisance. We have been robbed, mobbed, and plundered with impunity some two or three times, and as every heart is more apt to know its own sorrows, the people of Nauvoo had ample reason, when such characters as the proprietors and abettors of the Nauvoo Expositor proved to be before the city council, to be alarmed for their safety.

The men who got up the press were constantly engaged in resisting the authority or threatening something. If they were fined an appeal was taken, but the slander went on, and when the paper came, the course and the plan to destroy the city was marked out. The destruction of the city charter and the ruin of the Saints, was the all-commanding topic.

Our lives, our city, our charter, and our characters are just as sacred, just as dear and just as good as other people’s; and while no friendly arm has been extended from the demolition of our press in Jackson county, Missouri, without law to this present day, the city council with all the law of nuisance, from Blackstone down to the Springfield charter, knowing that if they exceeded the law of the land, a higher court could regulate the proceedings—abated the Nauvoo Expositor.

The proceedings of the council show, as sketched, that there was cause for alarm. The people when they reflect will at once say that the feelings and rights of men ought to be respected. All persons otherwise, who, without recourse to justice, mercy, or humanity, come out with inflammatory publications, destructive resolutions, or more especially extermination, show a want of feeling and a want of respect, and a want of religious toleration, that honorable men will deprecate among Americans, as they would the pestilence, famine, or horrors of war. It cannot be that the people are so lost to virtue as to coolly go to murdering men, women, and children, No; candor and common sense forbid it.

This was an attack aimed in all directions. Like a hoard of cockroaches scattering from a single focal point of light this was a declaration against all enemies of the church. More importantly, it made all enemies of the church equal. It called on the persecution narrative experienced and embraced from Missouri and paints all the people who are enemies of the church today in the same discredited light as those enemies from a decade ago when they burned the Mormon press in Jackson County. Thousand of people living in Nauvoo at this time who received a copy of this extra had suffered through the Missouri-Mormon war and the exodus to Illinois. Invoking that trauma is a powerful mind-control mechanism Jo had used so many times that it’s survived even to today’s generation of Mormons. The justifications provided here are paper-thin. The publishers of the Expositor refused to cease publication when told that their paper was inflaming the mob and will cause the destruction of the Nauvoo Charter and the breaking up of the city as they knew it. That was literally their entire point. The publishers published the Expositor because Nauvoo was so incredibly corrupt and there was absolutely no legal recourse beyond exercising their freedom of speech. The only way to wash away the corruption of Nauvoo was to revoke the charter and start with a clean slate. The fact that they wouldn’t listen to the members of the city government telling them to cease publication reveals how corrupt Nauvoo really was. And at the end of the day it didn’t really matter all that much that they refused to follow those orders because the city council just destroyed their printing press and their right to freedom of speech anyway. The argument made here is these guys didn’t like how corrupt we were and if we allowed them to continue publishing more editions of the Expositor then we couldn’t keep on corrupting so we corrupted super hard by corruptly destroying their press. Yeah, that’s the whole problem the Expositor sought to end.

What’s even more remarkable about all this is the whole issue the Expositor raised with Jeremiah Smith, a distant cousin of Joseph, being harbored as a fugitive in the city and the municipal court covering up for him. Once the Expositor was published pointing to Jeremiah Smith as the quintessence of Nauvoo corruption, new arrest warrants were issued for Jeremiah and he immediately went into hiding, just exacerbating the problem. Jo received communication from Burlington Iowa Territory, a Mormon settlement there.

Dear Sir:--I write to inform you that Jeremiah Smith arrived here yesterday in safety, and free from arrest. He desires through me to thank you for your kindness and attention to him while at Nauvoo.

One of the central complaints of the Expositor was with this Jeremiah Smith character and Jo continued to move him around the settlements of his bois where Jeremiah wouldn’t be arrested. Receiving this communication when Jo was accused of harboring this fugitive is absolutely criminal. This is yet one more nail in Jo’s coffin proving his criminality.

Alright. Let’s take a breath and consider everything in the abstract here for a minute. Today’s episode covered only ONE DAY of events and each subsequent day becomes more complicated and eventful when more than half of Jo’s days aren’t monopolized by a sham court hearing. Everything today has come from just 577-585 of volume 6 of the Vogel History of the Church. Let’s try to extricate ourselves from the details to get a larger view of what’s happening at the higher level.

Joseph Smith was not an idiot. I’ve said that so many times on this show but it bears repeating. He may have done some stupid stuff from time to time or made some split-second decisions or series of bad decisions that cost the lives of hundreds of his followers. He may have been uneducated. He may not have read many books and had plenty of bad influences in the form of his mentors from youth. He was incessantly narcissistic and self-centered. He was also incredibly intelligent. It takes, nay requires, an intelligent person who make so many bad decisions to still rise to power in spite of those bad decisions. Only intelligent people can recognize errors and adjust their future conduct based on what they learned from those mistakes and Joseph Smith did exactly that. Intelligence untempered by education are the ingredients of a revolutionary mind. Joseph Smith refused to acknowledge that this world is ours, not his. Wisdom dictated he needed to play by the rules of the world just enough to not become the pariah he deserved to be, but the greater his power became, the less those rules mattered and the less his radical conduct was mitigated by societal expectations.

With that said, even Jo could recognize that this time was different. He’d been involved in over 30 legal cases throughout his life. We’ve only covered like a dozen of them in 200 episodes of this show because most were relatively inconsequential and civil instead of criminal that I usually spend more air time on, but this conflict with justice was different than all the previous battles. Every minute of every day after the Expositor was destroyed was filled with a mix of covering tracks and paving a clear path ahead to victory. These two Nauvoo municipal court hearings in a week’s time were an effort to cover his tracks. In just a week ahead of where our timeline currently rests Jo will instruct William Clayton, or as we know him Quilliam Claypen, to burn or bury the minutes of the Council of Fifty because it’s incredibly treasonous contents. Multiple extras were printed in the Nauvoo Neighbor to justify the destruction of the Expositor press as a lawful act in a system which habitually flaunted the laws.

All of these cover up for past actions, but what about paving the way for victory ahead? Jo called his closest advisors home from their far-off missions in the eastern states so he could more comfortably surround himself with people who knew him and could diversify the workload of fighting the entire state of Illinois more effectively. They could also advise him in ways the remaining skeleton crew in Nauvoo were incapable of doing. Come hell or high water, Jo put all his platoons of Nauvoo Legionnaires around the state on high alert ready to consolidate to Nauvoo and make a final stand as had happened in Far West and Adam-Ondi-Ahmen Missouri just 6 years prior. He was in constant contact with the Governor and sent multiple contingents of messengers to relay messages and court proceedings to his excellency. He set up a couple of his boys in the Masonic lodge to constantly record affidavits from messengers entering the city and document the movements of the anti-Mormons in the surrounding cities. And, most importantly, Jo put his propaganda ministers to work to fabricate a version of himself which wouldn’t be repugnant to the courts if he did wind up in cuffs and documents were subpoenaed. As all these pressures were coming to a head and chaos continued to grip the Mormon settlement, Jo gave Quilliam Claypen a new task, keep a new journal. White-out Willard Richards and Quilliam Claypen were already keeping journals for Jo for the past 3 years, but this journal was special and got its own little notebook. It’s a long-forgotten relic of Nauvoo history buried deep on the Joseph Smith Papers website under the title of Appendix 4 William Clayton Account of Joseph Smith’s Activities and it covers only from June 14th to June 22nd 1844, making it a very unique piece of history.

According to the Joseph Smith Papers introduction to this document:

Why William Clayton recorded this daily account of JS’s activities is unclear. Though the record contains daily entries from 14 to 22 June 1844, it is not part of Clayton’s personal journal, which covers the same time period. In every case, the entries in the account are longer and more detailed than the corresponding entries in Clayton’s own journal, and significant differences in content suggest that neither record was copied form the other. The record does not include a title page or other written explanation to indicate the purpose of its creation.

Personally, I believe this was a daily journal Jo told Quilliam Claypen to keep as what he’d present if he were arrested and documentation were subpoenaed concerning Jo’s daily activities during this tumultuous time. It also includes some interesting points of theology sprinkled in with justifications of waging war against the citizens of Illinois. For example:

Friday 14… [JS] prophecied in the name of the Lord that if they did mob us it would be a precedent to come down upon their own heads with fury and vengeance.

Saturday 15th… [JS told others in the Bar room] a dream concerning his father killing a man who attempted to stab him. He also spake concerning key words. The [illegible] key word was the first word Adam spoke and is a word of supplication. He found the word by Urim & Thummim. It is that key word to which the heavens is opend.

It continues with some of the events we’ve discussed these last 3 episodes but they’re otherwise inconsequential. However, one entry is incredibly notable and it describes the 17th which was the day this entire episode covered. The entry refers to Jeremiah Smith, that Jo received the letter saying Jeremiah had arrived in Burlington free of arrest. Instead, however, this journal records it as follows:

A letter was received stating that Jeremiah Smith was acquited by Judge [Nathanial] Pope.

The letter Jo received said nothing of the sort, but if this little journal Claypen kept was to be presented to the courts after Jo’s inevitable arrest, this line would go a long way in defending the Expositor’s accusations about Nauvoo harboring Jeremiah Smith as a fugitive. It’s little signals like this that lead me to believe this little journal was supposed to be a public document, which would allow Jo’s propaganda ministers to conceal his actual journal which was full of treasonous activity just like the Council of Fifty Minutes. I believe this was one step taken to pave the way to victory in overcoming this new wave of opposition and insurrection.

But, just like every action fighting inevitability, it was all for not. The last entry was made in this journal on June 22nd, the day Joseph Smith left Nauvoo to go into hiding and evade arrest. There are 15 blank pages in the notebook following this entry that would never be filled because the person at the center of the document succumbed to inevitability and was dead.


Absolute immunity in performance of official functions: Consitution doesn’t contemplate situation where legislator could be sued for libel for what’s said. Imagine suing trump every time he says “failing NY Times”. Congresspeople are responsible for what they say during elections.

We don’t allow you to bring a suit against a legislator doing their job.

Chain of causality. Hard to prove that one event led to another. I run you over with my car, ambulance tries to drive you to the hospital and I don’t get to the hospital in time. I was proximate cause of death. OR I hit you in an accident and hospital is 10 mins away but because Chris Christie closed bridge and it takes 8 hours; that would break the chain of causality making me responsible for injury but not death.

For riot: I’m responsible for the precipitating event, but I’m not responsible for damage caused during riot.

Because 1844 is 80 years away from incorporation, protections of bill of rights didn’t operate in the states. 14th amendment incorporates bill of rights to states.

Federal gov is of limited authority of enumerated powers. It can only do things it’s authorized to do by constitution. States were preexisting legal entites who gave their consent to the founding of the constitution. States have plenary police powers.

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