The Prophet of Palmyra
(NYC: J. B. Alden, 1890)
Return to page 205
THE interesting and exciting game of "Demand and Discharge," played by the tcvo Governors, was not yet brought to an end. Major-General Bennett (as will be recounted in a future chapter), quarrelled with his chief, and was discomfited and disgraced, and compelled to leave the city. True to his threat, he had gone to Missouri and had succeeded in procuring another indictment against his old friend, and another requisition. Ford's history states that this indictment and requisition included both Smith and Rockwell for the attempt upon Governor Boggs. But Mr. Southwick, one of Smith's attorneys in the case, stated that they were for Smith alone, on the charge of treason against the government of Missouri" -- the old offence. As no after attempt was made to arrest Rockwell, this latter statement is probably the correct one. On
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this requisition, Governor Ford issued his warrant for the arrest of the prophet, and placed it in the hands of Harman T. Wilson of Carthage, a bold and fearless Deputy Sheriff, with instructions to serve, and place the prisoner in the care of Joseph H. Reynolds, the agent of Missouri, who accompanied him.
Before proceeding to relate occurrences in connection with this arrest, we must go back and review the condition of affairs in the county at the time. In the year 1843 it was not deemed expedient, nor was it possible, to keep up the Anti-Mormon organization. Whig politicians had hopes of receiving the Mormon vote -- or at least of dividing it. Smith had been released from arrest by Judge Pope, a Whig, and his cause had been ably argued by Whig lawyers. The Democrats also desired a party organization, and expected to retain the vote because they had heretofore secured it, and no reason was manifest for a change. The Warsaw Message (Whig) had succeeded for a time the Anti-Mormon Signal, and its political editor strongly favored distinct Whig action and a full Whig local and general ticket. On the 10th of May a Whig Congressional district convention was held at Rock Island, at which Mormon delegates attended. Cyrus Walker of Macomb, was unanimously chosen as the candidate for Congress,
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Joseph P. Hoge of Galena, was about the same date nominated by a Democratic convention as his competitor. The district (the fifth) was very largre, embracing the fifteen northwestern counties of Jo Daviess, Carroll, Stephenson, Winnebago, Ogle, Whiteside, Rock Island, Mercer, Warren, Henderson, McDonough, Stark, Lee, Knox, and Hancock, the latter being the most southern.
The two Congressional candidates were representative men of their respective parties, and personally popular. Mr. Walker was an old lawyer of distinction in the State, of the class to which Lincoln, McConnell, Bissell, Baker, Williams, Browning, and Edwards belonged, and was regarded as the peer of any of them. Mr. Hoge was a younger and newer man, but was talented, energetic, and a good stump orator. He had never been in any way identified with the Mormons, having his residence in a county the most remote from them in the district. Walker was supposed to be in good favor at Nauvoo, as he had on several occasions acted as counsel to the prophet.
Soon after the nominations, the campaign of the district began with great vigor. To make a thorough canvass in so large a district, required a great deal of time and a great amount of physical energy, it being necessary to address the people in three or four, and often eight or ten, places in a single
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country. Irrespective of the Mormon vote, there was a decided Whig majority in the district, and the probabilities were strongly in favor of the success of the Whig candidate.
So stood affairs when the new warrant for Smith's arrest was placed in the hands of the officer. Learning that Smith and his wife were on a visit to her relatives at Palestine Grove in Lee County, toward the north end of the district, and about one hundred and fifty miles from Nauvoo, the officer, in company with the Missouri agent, quietly repaired thither. They found the prophet at the house of his friend, arrested him, and placing him in a carriage, started by way of Dixon, the county seat. Here the prisoner was allowed to consult with lawyers, who procured for him a writ of habeas corpus from the Master in Chancery of said county. This writ was made returnable before Judge Caton at Ottawa, in whose circuit they were. This proceeding placed the officers with their prisoner in the hands of the Sheriff of Lee County. The following morning they started for Ottawa, distant about forty miles, and after travelling three-fourths of the distance, were informed that Judge Caton was temporarily absent from the State, when they returned to Dixon.
Before starting for Ottawa, Smith had entered suit in the Lee circuit court for false imprisonment
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against Wilson and Reynolds; and being unable to procure bail, they were held in the custody of the Sheriff. Against this arrest, the officers in turn procured a writ of habeas corpus, returnable before Judge Young at Quincy, in their own circuit, and this writ was also placed in the hands of the Lee Sheriff. After the return to Dixon, Smith procured another writ of habeas corpus (as a substitute for the first one) returnable before the "nearest tribunal in the Fifth Judicial Circuit, authorized to hear qnd determine writs of habeas corpus." The fifth circuit embraced Quincy, the residence of Judge Young, and Nauvoo, the residence of the prophet, with a municipal court claiming the right to hear and determine writs of habeas corpus in all cases. ( ! )
These proceedings completely turned the tables upon the two officers, and filled the hands of the Lee Sheriff with prisoners and his pockets with writs. Instead of the prophet for their prisoner, they found themselves under arrest and unable to give bail, with Smith really a free man. The fiat had already gone forth that he was to be discharged; for was not the Nauvoo municipal court nearer by forty miles than the court of the honorable Judge Young at Quincy? and was not Smith himself the Mayor of said city and presiding officer of its court.
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Smith's arrest was made on Thursday, the 23d of June, and on Monday, the 27th, the cavalcade, consisting of Wilson, Reynolds, and Smith; Messrs. Walker, Southwick, and Patrick, the counsel of Smith; McKay, employed by Reynolds to guard Smith; Sanger, the owner of the stage coach; McComsey, the driver of one of the teams employed; Ross, driver of the coach; Mason, attorney for Reynolds and Wilson; Wasson, the relative of Smith's wife, at whose house the arrest was made; Montgomery, son-in-law and travelling companion with Walker; and Mr. Campbell, Sheriff of Lee County, all started from Dixon southward in the direction of Nauvoo and Quincy. Where were they going, and what were they going for? The officer had in his pocket two writs of habeas corpus, directing him to convey the persons therein named, one to Judge Young of Quincy, and the other to the nearest authorized court in the Fifth Judicial District, to hear and determine on habeas corpus. It is not too severe a judgment to say that all four of those legal gentlemen well knew that the place where both those writs were properly returnable, was Judge Young's court at Quincy. Besides, in a legal sense, it was necessary and proper that the writ procured by Wilson and Reynolds should be the first heard and determined. Instead, they travelled directly to Nauvoo. The conclusion is
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unavoidable, that when the second writ was obtained by Smith, the purpose was to carry them to that nondescript Nauvoo tribunal. We have the testimony of one of the attorneys to that effect. Mr. Southwick said, in a communication to the Warsaw Message:
"No threat or intimidation was used by any person whatever, to induce Mr. Campbell, the Sheriff of Lee County, to go to Nauvoo with Reynolds; and Mr. Campbell well knew before starting from Dixon, that it was the determination of the whole company to go to Nauvoo, he particularly consenting to the same. The stage was also chartered to go to Nauvoo. Smith said before leaving Dixon, that he should submit to the law, and appeared desirous to do so."
"Smith pledged his word," continued Mr. Southwick, "previous to his arrival in Nauvoo, that Reynolds should not be harmed"; and he was not. He and Wilson were even invited to dine with the prophet at his home, which they did, and were introduced to his family.
Another writ of habeas corpus! Says Southwick:
"In the afternoon of the day of said arrival, a writ of habeas corpus was issued by the municipal court of the city of Nauvoo, directed to Reynolds, requiring him to bring before said court the body of said Smith; which he accordingly did, objecting, however, to the same, that said court had no jurisdiction in the case."
Of course he objected; the above, however, contains one slight mistake: it was Smith that
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brought Reynolds before the municipal court. The report continues:
"The counsel of Smith, however, appeared to entertain a different opinion as to the jurisdiction of said court, and the examination was had before them, and Smith discharged upon the merits of the case, and upon the substantial defects in the warrant."
And this is what the "opinion" of those learned counsel was based on a clause in the Nauvoo charter: "The municipal court shall have power to grant writs of habeas corpus in all cases arising under the ordinances of the city council." ( ! )
When Smith was arrested, it so happened that both Walker and Hoge, the candidates for Congress," were canvassing in the vicinity of Dixon. In addition to the two Dixon attorneys, Smith sent for Walker. This gentleman left his appointments, and, as we have seen, rode with the cavalcade to Nauvoo; and it is said, there made a three-hour speech in favor of Smith's discharge. Governor Ford's history states that both he and Hoge, from the public stand in that city, afterwards declared their belief in the existence of the power claimed by the municipal court.
Being thus signally baffled, the Missouri agent applied to Governor Ford for a military force to enable him to retake Smith; and Mr. Walker, as Smith's attorney, repaired to Springfield to resist
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the application. After considerable delay, the Gov- ernor declined to grant Reynolds' s request, and the matter was dropped.
Thus ended another move, and the last one, in the interesting game of " Demand and Discharge," which the executives of two great States had for two or three years been playing.
While these legal proceedings were being enacted up north, tremendous excitement existed at Nauvoo and over Hancock County. As soon as possible after the arrest, the news thereof had been sent to the city by swift messenger, and hasty preparations were made for their chiefs rescue. But it was not known what route would be taken by the Missouri officer with his prisoner. It was conjectured that he might drive eastward, and take steamer at the nearest point on the Illinois river, and so down to St. Louis; or that he might aim for a Mississippi steamer at Rock Island; or that they might take a land route across the country. All these contingencies were provided for. A little steamer, owned and employed at Nauvoo, was armed, it was said, with a cannon or two, and manned, and sent down the Mississippi, to intercept them in or at the mouth of the Illinois. At the same time, squads of armed horsemen were sent out on the various roads leading toward Dixon. The delay, as we have seen, at that place, gave time for numbers of these
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horsemen, to be a considerable distance on their way north, before the party of prisoners and lawyers had left for Nauvoo; and during the journey down it was met by many of them, who turned and escorted their chief back to the city.
These events occurred during the latter part of June and the first days of July ; and it was some time before Mr. Walker was free to resume his canvass. His conduct, as well as that of Mr. Hoge, was severely criticised. Many Whigs were highly indignant. It is believed that the prophet had intended, in good faith, to throw the Mormon vote to Mr. Walker; but owing to the dissatisfaction of the Whigs in part, and for the reason that Reynolds' application for a force was still held in terrorum over him, he had changed his policy. Ford himself states that a friend of his, in his absence, and in his name, had pledged to a Mormon emissary, that if they would vote the Democratic ticket the force would not be sent. Hist. III., p. 317.
The Governor's statement of what occurred at Nauvoo in regard to the matter, so nearly accords with what we learned at the time from other sources, and it is doubtless true, that we give it in his own words :
"A great meeting was called of several thousand Mormons on Saturday before the election. Hyrum Smith, patriarch in the church, and brother to the prophet, appeared in this great assembly, and there
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solemnly announced to the people that God had revealed to him that the Mormons must support Mr. Hoge, the Democratic candidate. William Law, another great leader of the Mormons, next appeared, and denied that the Lord had made any such revelation. He stated that to his certain knowledge, the prophet was in favor of Mr. Walker, and that the prophet was more likely to know the mind of the Lord on the subject than the patriarch. Hyrum Smith again repeated his revelation with a greater tone of authority. But the people remained in doubt until the next day, being Sunday, when Joe himself appeared before the assembly. He there stated that "he, himself," was in favor of Mr. Walker, and intended to vote for him; that he would not influence any voter in giving his vote; that he considered it a mean business for him or any other man to attempt to dictate to the people who they should support in elections; that he had heard his brother Hyrum had received a revelation from the Lord on the subject; that for his part, he did not much believe in revelations on the subject of elections; but brother Hyrum was a man of truth; he had known brother Hyrum intimately ever since he was a boy, and he had never known him to tell a lie. If brother Hyrum said he had received such a revelation, he had no doubt it was a fact. When the Lord speaks, let all the earth be silent."
The question was settled. It is believed that the prophet, with Law and a few others, did vote for Walker, in the face of the revelation; but the body of his followers voted for Hoge, giving him 2088 votes to Walker's 733 in the county, and beating him in the district 455 votes. The news of this revelation at Nauvoo did not reach the adjoining
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district below, till after the election; and the Mormon vote there was thrown to O. H. Browning, the Whig candidate. To Mr. Walker and his friends and the Whig party generally, this result was most aggravating; more so from the fact, that by a straightforward and independent course, thereby securing a full and enthusiastic support from his party, it was believed he could have been elected with the Mormon vote solid against him.
THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
THERE is an adage that one story is good until another is told. The widely differing stories told concerning the arrest of the prophet, chronicled in the preceding chapter, will each be believed by a large number of people -- the first, by the thousands of faithful follomers of the prophet, who, like his brother Hyrum,"never told a lie;" and the other by everybody else. If either be true, the arrest must have been dramatic in the extreme. The Times and Seasons of July 1, 1843, tells it thus in behalf of the prophet:
"While he (Smith) was there (at his wife's sister's residence, 12 miles from Dixon) a Mr. J. H. Reynolds, Sheriff of Jackson County, Missouri (so he says), and Mr. Harman Wilson of Carthrtge, arrived at Dixon, professing to be Mormon preachers; from thence they proceeded to Mr. Wasson's, at whose house Mr. Smith was staying. They found Mr. Smith outside the door, and accosted him in a very uncouth, ungentlemanly manner, quite in keeplng, however, with the common practice ofMissourians. The following is as near the conversation as we can gather. Reynolds and his
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coadjutor Wilson, both stepped up at a time to Mr. Smith, with theirpistols cocked, and without showing any writ or serving any process, Mr. Reynolds, with his pistol cocked at Mr. Smith's breast, cried out:'G--d d--n you! if you stir I'll shoot; G--d d--n you! be still or I'll shoot, by G--d!'
"'What is the meaning of this?' interupted Mr, Smith.
"'I'll show you the meaning, by G--d! and if you stir one inch I'll shoot you, G--d d--n you!'
"'I'm not afraid of your shooting,' answered Mr. Smith; 'I am not afraid to die.' He then bared his breast and said: 'Shoot away! I have endured so much of oppression I am weary of life, and kill me, if you please. I am a strong man, however, and with my own natural weapons could soon level both of you; but if you have any legal process to serve, I am at all times subject to law, and shall not offer resistance.'
"'G--d d--n you, if you say another word, we'll shoot you, by G--d!'
"'Shoot away!' answered Mr. Smith, ' I'm not afraid of your pistols.'
"They then hurried him off to a carriage they had, and without serving any process were for hurrying him off without letting him see or bid farewell to his family or friends. Mr. Smith then said:
"'Gentlemen, if you have any leal process, I wish to obtain a writ of habeas corpus,' and was answered:
"'G--d d--n you! you shan't have one.'
"Mr. Smith saw a friend of his passing, and said: 'These men are kidnapping me, and I want a writ of habeas corpus to deliver myself out of their handa.'
"This friend immediately proceeded to Dixon, whence the Sheriff also proceeded at full speed. On arriving at the house of Mr. McKinnie, tavern-keeper,
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Smith was thrust into a room and guarded there, without being allowed to see any- body, and horses were ordered in five minutes. Mr. Smith then stated to Reynolds: 'I wish to get counsel;' and was answered: 'G--d d--n you! you shan't have counsel; one word more, G--d d--n you, and I'll shoot you.'
"'What the use of this so often?' said Mr. Smith. 'I have often told you to shoot, and I now tell you again, to shoot away;' and seeing a person passing, he said: 'I am falsely imprisoned here, and I want a lawyer.'
"A lawyer came, but had the door banged in his face, with the old threat of shooting, if he came any nearer; another afterwards came, and received the same treatment.
"Then the citizens of Dixon interfered, etc."
Whether the editor of the Times and Seasons drew upon his imagination for the foregoing or had it from Smith himself, is not known. The writer of these pages knew Mr. Wilson well for many years, and believes the story told by hirn to be substantially true, as heard more than once from his own lips. He stated that he and Reynolds drove in their carriage to the residence of Mr. Wasson, alighted and hitched their team, and stepping to the front door, inquired for Mr. Smith. The answer was very unsatisfactory, but that he was not there. They took seats, however -- Reynolds in the doorway, and Wilson on the step outside -- and entered into conversation. While thus engaged, Wilson, who had a view of the stairway
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saw Emma, the prophet's wife, whom he had before known, hastily cross the hall at the head of the stairs. This convinced him that they were on the right track. The conversation continued a little longer; but Wilson was hecoming excited and uneasy. Rising from his seat, he made a step or two to the corner of the house, and casually casting his eye along the side of the building, was astonished to see the object of their search off in an open field two hundred yards away, running toward a piece of woods some distance off.
On the impulse of the moment, and without bidding good-bye to the household, or explaining to Reynolds, he gave a whoop, and started in pursuit, leaving his companion to bring up the rear. The pursuers, being lighter and more nimble of foot, gained upon the pursued. So he resorted to strategy. He was nearing an old cabin, uninhabited, but at the side of which was a well, and near by a lot of clothes spread over some tall grass and weeds to dry. It was evident the flying chieftain had been aiming for the forest beyond; but on arriving at the building, Wilson could nowhere see the fugitive. He certainly had not had time to reach the timber, nor could he be seen anywhere about the building. Giving a hurried glance at the surroundings --taking in the cabin, the well, the drying bed-clothes, etc. -- an idea struck him,
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and the next moment he saw a pair of boots protruding from beneath somebedding on the weeds. By this time Reynolds was close at hand; but in his excitement, and without waiting to see if there was a man in theboots, or who that man might be, Wilson sprang upon the blanket and called to Reynolds to come on. The man in tha boots soon emerged fromhis hiding place, and stood before them as their prisoner, in great trepidation assuring them of his surrender. In due time he was placedin their carriage and started on their journey -- a journey ludicrous in its beginning, but disastrous to them in the end; and which, insteadof landing their prisoner in Missouri, brought them into a dismal swamp of habeas corpus, finally standing them, conquered and abashed, before the municipal court at Nauvoo.
A STORM CLOUD ARISES.
DURING the summer of 1842, an ugly storm-cloud burst upon the horizon of Nauvoo, which threatened serious disaster. A quarrel sprung up hetween the two greet leaders, Generals Smith and Bennett. The true inwardness of this quarrel was never fully known; but there is good reason for the opinion that if originated in jealousy. The city at that time contained some five or six thousand people, and was rapidly growing; yet it was not large enough for them both. Bennett had fast risen into power and greatness through the ill-advised generosity of the state government and the favoritism of the Mormon people. He was excessively vain and ambitious, and desired a greater share of the honors and emoluments than the prophet was willing to grant him. Immediately upon organizing under the charters, he had been given the two best offices, next to the supreme one held by the prophet himself. It is believed, further, that the
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of the quarrel was not alone a jealousy of each other's power and influence; but that a jealousy resulting from quite another cause had much to do with it. In fact, it is very evident from the published statements by both parties, that there was a woman or two concerned. As they had been in confidential and close intimacy before, they now became vindictive and bitter enemies. But with his usual luck, Smith held the reins of power. The Lieutenant-General out-generaled the Major-General with the masses, and the latter went down, and was compelled to leave the city. He who had so lately been basking in the sunshine of prosperity, was expelled from the church -- "seceded." he called it -- and deposed from high places which he had for so brief a period occupied. He left the city, vowing a determination to expose the wrongs and wickedness of Mormonism, and his intention to bring the prophet to condign punishment; declaring, further, that he had never been a believer, but had only joined them to acquaint himself with their nefarious designs. On the other hand, Smith and the church organs were not slow in denouncing the apostate general. If the half were true that these belligerent chiefs told of each other, they both deserved the contempt of mankind. As a general rule, and not to show partiality, the great mass of the Gentile people believed them both.
[ facing 224 ]
MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN. C. BENNETT.
View high-resolution graphic.
A STORM CLOUD ARISES. 225
At the time of Bennett's defection, several others of the principal men manifested a rebellious spirit; and it looked for a season as if there would be a serious disruption. Of these, Sidney Rigdon, so long the confidential counsellor of Smith, and Orson Pratt, were the most prominent. And if Bennett's stories were true, each of these, with several others, had strong private reasons for entering into the rebellion. But the power of the prophet restrained them all, and Bennett alone was turned over to the "buffetings of Satan." The fallen chief at once left the city, and proceeded to Carthage, the county seat, claiming that his life was in danger -- how truly we can only judge in the light of subsequent events. He began a series of letters to the Sangamo Journal at Springfield, carrying out his porpose of exposure. These letters were widely read and commented on. They were interesting for many purposes. First: They exhibited in strong light the character of Bennett himself. Second: Whether he was worthy of full credence or not, they portrayed the workings of that theocratic despotism which prevailed at Nauvoo. And third: They give us an idea of the sort of people he had been associating with and upholding and defending; and of the motives which actuated him and them. As literary productions they were weak, bombastic, and in bad taste.
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Bennett, through his letters to the Journal, and the Mormons, through their organs, kept up for several weeks a terrible tirade of abuse and so-claimed exposure of villainies, ad nauseum. The Times and Seasons of July 1, 1842, contains a long article relating to the difficulty. It denounces Bennett in severe terms, charging him with falsehood, debauchery, and many other crimes; and publishes letters from abroad showing that his disreputable character was known to them more than a year before. The Master of Nauvoo Lodge of "Free and Accepted York Masons," publicly announced that Bennett had "palmed himself upon the fraternity as a regular Mason in good standing," when he was an expelled Mason, and cautioned the fraternity against him. In the organ of August 1st, may also be found a report of a meeting called to give an expression of the public mind in the matter of this grave quarrel. At this meeting, General Wilson Law offered the following resolution:
"Resolved, That having heard that John C. Bennett was circulating many base falsehoods respecting a number of citizens of Nauvoo, and especially against our worthy and respected Mayor, Joseph Smith, we do hereby manifest to the world that so far as we are acquainted with Joseph Smith, we know him to be a good, moral, virtuous, peaceable and patriotic man, and a firm supporter of law, justice and equal rights ; that he at all times upholds
A STORM CLOUD ARISES. 227
and keeps inviolate the constitution of this State and of the United States."
Being put to vote, about a thousand, the report says, voted in the affirmative; but Orson Pratt and two or three others, voted in the negative. This temerity occasioned great surprise, and Mr. Pratt was at once subjected to a categorical examination by the prophet. His reasons for the vote are withheld in the report, but he was pressed with the following question:
"Have you, personally, a knowledge of any immoral act in me toward the female sex, or in any other way?"
And Mr. Pratt answered: "PERSONALLY, toward the female sex, I have not." Dr. Bennett's charge against Smith of making improper advances toward Mrs. Pratt, was that they occurred in her husband's absence from the city. The resolution offered at the meeting and which was passed so overwhelmingly, it will be observed, was presented by one of the Laws, who soon afterwards engaged in another insurrection, and reaffirmed all the charges and more, that are therein denied.
The "Ladies' Relief Society" also joined with a paper, signed by one thousand ladies, attesting to the "virtue, philanthropy and benevolence of Joseph Smith."
Thirteen members of the city council made affidavit denying Bennett's charges, and further
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declaring that there was no such a thing as a Danite Society in the city, within their knowledge. The Times and Seasons for August 1st, also is largely filled with the story of Bennett's character; and to these issues of that organ and to the Sangamo Journal at Springfield, during that interesting period, we refer the reader for the whole history of the war between the two doughty generals of the Nauvoo Legion.
Bennett, in his letters, made free use of the names of men high in authority in the city, to corroborate his statements, evidently expecting to draw them off. But he failed; most of them controverted his stories through the organ. Some of these denials are carefully worded, and when closely examined are found to be partly denial and partly evasion. Others are more direct, and embrace points which a year or so afterwards were as vehemently charged by themselves.
Among charges brought by Bennett against the prophet, was one of the attempted seduction of a buxom young English girl, who with her parents had not long before embraced the faith and emi- grated to the city. This girl (Miss Martha Brotherton) corroborated Bennett's charges in a pub- lished letter, giving circumstances in detail. Whether their story was true or not, it is known that the girl and her parents people of standing
A STORM CLOUD ARISES. 229
and means -- left the city, and, it is believed, returned to England.
An apology may seem to be necessary for occupying so much space with the quarrel between these two men. But let it be remembered that Dr. Bennett was for more than a year the second in an in position in the city, and a bright light in the church, and that he had during that time the seeming confidence of Smith and his followers; and more, that he was an appointee of the Governor of the State and of a Judge of the Supreme Court, to responsible offices. That he was a weak man and a knave, his own conduct and expose abundantly prove. How far the charges and criminations against each other are to be accepted by an honest public, we prefer to leave for the discerning reader to decide.
Dr. Bennett's book, entitled The History of the Saints; an Expose of Joe Smith and Mormonism, issued soon after his defection and fall, contains this in its opening chapter:
"I find that it is almost universally the opinion of those who have heard of me in the eastern part of the United States, that I united myself to the Mormons from a conviction of the truth of their doctrines, and that I was, at least for some time, a convert to their pretended religion. This, however, is a very great error. I never believed in them or their doctrines."
But he claimed that he joined them in order to
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ascertain the truth
A STORM CLOUD ARISES. 231
He evidently failed
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AMONG the many methods adopted by the Mormon prophet for obtaining notoriety, was that of causing himself to be proclaimed a candidate for President of the United States. In the memorable campaign of 1840, such of the Mormons as had acquired citizenship in Illinois, had supported Harrison and Tyler. General Harrison had now gone to his rest and Tyler was near the close of his accidental term. All parties were discussing presidential probabilities. Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun were regarded as prominent candidates of their respective parties; to each of these the prophet had addressed a long letter, requesting to be informed as to the policy he would pursue if elected, in relation to Mormon grievances. Unsatisfactory replies had been received from each of those statesmen, and commented upon in Smith's organ. On the 15th of February, 1844, said organ, under the editorial charge of John Taylor, a lately imported English recruit, printed a long leader on the question:
A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. 233
"Who shall be our next President?" After discussing the merits of the respective candidates from a Mormon standpoint, and finding them all wanting, the editor says:
"Under these circumstances, the question again arises, who shall we support? GENERAL JOSEPH SMITH! a man of sterling worth and integrity and of enlarged views; a man who has raised himself from the humblest walks in life to stand at the head of a large, intelligent, respectable, and increasing society, that has spread not only in this land, but in distant nations; a man whose talents and genius are of an exalted nature, and whose experience has rendered him every way adequate to the onerous duty. Honorable, fearless and energetic; he would adminiater justice with an impartial hand, and magnify and dignify the office of chief magistrate of this land; and we feel assured there is not a man in the United States more competent for the task." (!!)
And after several more paragraphs, our editor concludes:
"Whatever therefore be the opinions of other men, our course is marked out, and our motto from henceforth will be GENERAL JOSEPH SMITH."
And the next issue of the Times and Seasons contained the announcement:
and subsequent issues contained in addition:
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This ticket stood till Mr. Smith was killed, on June 27th, the same year. We have not learned that any effort was ever made to form an Electoral ticket in Illinois or any other State. Had he lived, and such ticket had been formed, he would have obtained some votes most probably in several of the States of the Union, under the full faith that he would be elected.
But how it was that Joseph Smith became a citizen of Illinois, and Sidney Rigdon a citizen of Pennsylvania, when they both had resided at Nauvoo for several years with their families -- both coming here the same year from Missouri, and to Missouri from Ohio at the same time was one of the many Mormon problems,
AN INPENDING CRISIS. 235
THE conduct of politicians and political parties during the campaign of 1843, gave a new impulse to the anti-Mormon sentiment, and measures to prevent its recurrence began to be taken. The late election fully developed the fact, that, although two or three good men had been chosen to office -- men not objectionable to the great body of the people -- practically the whole county and district were at the beck of the prophet. Four of the county officers were Mormons, and one of them was not even a resident of the county, but held a similar office at the time in a distant county; but having joined the church was intending to settle in Naxlvoo.* An effort to reorganize the Anti-Mormon party was determined on, and a mass convention was held at the county seat on the 7th of September, at which preliminary measures were
* James Adams; when elected Probate Judge in Hancock, was residing in Springfleld, and holding the same office in Sangamon County.
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taken. Among the resolutions passed was one
AN INPENDING CRISIS. 237
ready, but would bide their time.
238 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
crisis was approaching.
AN INPENDING CRISIS. 239
Francis M. Higbee -- For slander:
240 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
The paper was issued under date of June 7, 1844. It had for its editor Sylvester Emmans, and the names of William Law, Wilson Law,
AN INPENDING CRISIS. 241
possible -- adding little to their own characters; inasmuch as for years they had been his supporters and defenders,
242 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
credence. Yet many of them coincided with those of the seceders. And it is likely that Jackson in a few months would be able to gain more
AN INPENDING CRISIS. 243
greatly excited, and indulged in violent language.
244 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
2. The Laws oppressed the poor, by adhering to their rules in grinding grain.
3. Besides, they had dunned the prophet for money due them.
4. Dr. Foster had been too intimate with a sister in Ohio -- and he had written the Mayor a saucy letter.
5. Wilson Law had seduced another sister, and --
6. They had all misrepresented the spiritual wife doctrine.
And these six counts, with several more of minor importance, amounted to treason against the independent sovereignty of Nsluvoo, and the head thereof, and rendered the printing press of the traitors a nuisance, and it must be destroyed! Even in this the Mayor transcended the authority given him by the council. The resolution instructed him to abate the nuisance by removal; he issued his order to the City Marshal to destroy the press and pi the types in the street, and if necessary demolish the house, and arrest all who opposed.
GIVING THE REASON WHY 245
THE The document which follows is a verbatim copy of a half-sheet extra which was issued from the office of the Nauvoo Neighbor soon after the destruction of the Expositor office. It is given entire, Editorials, Mayor's Proclamation, Clerk's Statement and all, as showing their side of the question and their reasons for the course pursued. It is valuable, too, as showing to the Gentile world what kind of people these Latter-Day Saints were, thus congregated together in the holy city:
NAUVOO NEIGHBOR EXTRA.
"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
246 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
GIVING THE REASON WHY 247
248 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
coming to this city, &c.
GIVING THE REASON WHY 249
and some men high in the church
250 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
had set afloat,
GIVING THE REASON WHY 251
my hand a refusal of all your offers;
252 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
"Counsellor H. Smith said
GIVING THE REASON WHY 253
of betraying him.
254 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
of men (among whom was his brother Hyrum),
GIVING THE REASON WHY 255
immediately took out the pistol
256 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
witness went in while Foster and others were at breakfast
GIVING THE REASON WHY 257
wanted the flour: Law promised on the honor of a gentleman
258 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
it was as much as he could do
GIVING THE REASON WHY 259
concerning the passage
260 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
Higbee from the Expositor and asked,
GIVING THE REASON WHY 261
the whole community
262 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
and thought there would be little chance of collecting damages for lible.
GIVING THE REASON WHY 263
on the subject
264 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
M. Higbee said the interest of this city is done the moment a hand is laid on the press.
GIVING THE REASON WHY 265
the Nauvoo Expositor is a public nuisance
266 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
you, and fail not to execute this order
GIVING THE REASON WHY 267
have taken place in the city
268 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
counterfeiters and debauchees, and that the proprietors of this press were of that class, the minutes of the municipal court fully testify, and is ridding our young and flourishing city of such characters, we are abused by not only villainous demagogues, but by some who from their station and influence in society, ought rather to raise than depress the standard of human excellence. We have no disturbance or excitement among us, save what is made by the thousand and one idle rumors afloat in the country. Every one is protected in his person and property, and but few cities of a population of twenty thousand people, in the United States, hath less of dissipation or vice of any kind, than the city of Nauvoo.
"Of the correctness of our conduct in this affair, we appeal to every high court in the State, and to its ordeal we are willing to appear at any time that His Excellency, Governor Ford shall please to call us before it. I therefore, in behalf of the municipal court of Nauvoo, warn the lawless, not to be precipitate in any interference in our affairs, for as sure as there is a God in Israel, we shall ride triumphant over all oppression,
THE ATONEMENT. 269
THE destruction of the press and types of the Expositor put the city of Nauvoo and the whole county of Hancock at fever heat. The seceders all left the city, and the owners of the destroyed property repaired to the county seat, and procured writs for the Mayor and others concerned, on a charge of riot. These writs were placed in the hands of an officer, who, with a small posse, repaired to the city and arrested a number of the persons charged. The inevitable habeas corpus was again applied from the municipal court, and they were "honorably discharged."
Meanwhile, the whole county was in commotion. Public meetings were held at various points, and the people called upon to arm for a crisis that aeemed to be approaching. The following resolution
270 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
were passed at two principal points in the county
THE ATONEMENT. 271
and drilling; having been notified
272 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
county seat, his headquarters.
THE ATONEMENT. 273
council came in and surrendered
274 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
but it comes strangely
THE ATONEMENT. 275
on the prairie by the disbanding officer
276 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
people were called together
THE ATONEMENT. 277
direction, opposite to that of the Mormon city.
278 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
which we find in a New York paper, written by a highly intelligent gentleman who was a resident of Carthage at that time and well known in the county, we make the following extract. He claims to have been, and was, an accidental eye witness
THE ATONEMENT. 279
jail. Soon they emerged
280 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
in full sight -- that he for a moment partly raised himself to a sitting posture against a well-curb beside which he fell; but it is not true, as was sometimes reported, that his assailants leaned his body up against the curb, and made it a target....
"A panic spread, and within two hours the town was deserted, with the exception of the Hamilton Hotel, where the killed and mounded were taken, and a few gathered for service, and a harbor for safety in the expected storm. Men, women, and children fled in wagons, on horseback and afoot, while Delenda est Carthago seemed sounding in their ears." -- J. H. S., in Ithaca (N. Y.) Journal, April. 1886.
HOW THE DEED WAS DONE. 281
ON the morning of the 28th of June, 1844, the sun rose on as strange a scene as the broad Hancock prairies had ever witnessed. At the three corners of a triangle, eighteen miles asunder, two of them resting on the Mississippi, stood a smitten and mourning city and two almost deserted villages, with here and there a group of questioning men, anxious to obtain the news of the night. These were Nauvoo and the villages of Carthage and Warsaw. Toward the two villages, the more courageous ones who had fled the evening before, were now returning, tired and worn, to find their several homes unsacked and untouched, and their streets untrodden by a vengeful and infuriated foe. The wet and heavy roads leading to the county seat from the east and south were being again traversed by the refugees of the night, now returning where they had so lately fled in terror. The blue waves
282 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
of the Mississippi rolled peacefully past the stricken city,
HOW THE DEED WAS DONE. 283
responsibilities devolving upon him
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around the edge with his revolver.
SIDE OF THE JAIL, AND WELL, WHERE SMITH WAS SHOT.
HOW THE DEED WAS DONE. 285
square; and then, in common with the rest
286 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
the near past, as we have seen,
HOW THE DEED WAS DONE. 287
Richards unhurt and John Taylor badly wounded,
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curb, situated three or four feet from the building.
HOW THE DEED WAS DONE. 289
the State; this failing, efforts were made to put him out of the way
290 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
the chamber directly in front
HOW THE DEED WAS DONE. 291
body was nearly on a balance,
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had proceeded, to learn if the doors into the prison were open. When near the entry, Mr. Taylor called out, 'Take me! I pressed my way till I found all doors unbarred, returning instantly caught Mr. Taylor under my arm, and rushed by the stairs into the dungeon, or inner prison, stretched him on the floor and covered him with a bed, in such a manner as not likely to be perceived, expecting an immediate return of the mob. I said to Mr. Taylor, This is a hard case, to lay you onthe floor; but if your wounds are not fatal, I want you to live to tell the story. I expected to be shot the next moment, and stood before the door awaiting the onset.
ARRESTS, INDICTMENTS, TRIALS. 293
DURING the summer and autumn of 1844, after the death of the prophet, great dissatisfaction and trouble existed at Nauvoo, growing mainly out of the struggle for the succession, Rigdon and his adherents were at work against Brighnm Young, who was cunningly allying the rest of the Twelve to his interests. Many of the rank and file were becoming lukewarm, and were quietly leaving the city; at the same time, others were retiring from the Mormon settlements in other parts of the county, some locating in the city, and others scattering to other counties.
To add to the excitement, a grand military encampment was called, to be held at Warsaw in October. It was called by the officers of several independent companies, and had no other purpose in view, it is believed, than was expressed in the call; yet it gave great uneasiness to the Mormons
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and their friends
ARRESTS, INDICTMENTS, TRIALS. 295
at Rock Island.
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Colonel Baker as counsel,
ARRESTS, INDICTMENTS, TRIALS. 297
Jackson himself should have been hung --
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made to arrest him.
ARRESTS, INDICTMENTS, TRIALS. 299
to appear at the time agreed on --
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try the experiment
ARRESTS, INDICTMENTS, TRIALS. 301
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that the evidence before the grand jury was so inconclusive, that they voted first on the whole sixty, and failing to indict, struck off ten and voted again, and so on to the last nine, when the indictment carried. It has also transpired that the bills were found against these nine -- some as principals and some as accessories -- almost solely on the testimony of the three witnesses whose evidence on the trial the court instructed the petit jury to disregard.* It has further been said in disparagement of the jury, that ninety-six men had to be summoned and questioned before the proper number for a jury could be found sufficiently ignorant and indifferent to fill the place. The writer knew, from a personal acquaintance with at least six of that jury, that, instead of being ignorant and indifferent, they were men of intelligence, probity, and worth.
Far be it from us to excuse mobbers or murderers. But we remember that there is a vast difference between knowing that a murder has been committed, and knowing by whom it was done.
* The witnesses Daniels and Brackenhury dealt largely in the supernatural in their tesfimony; while that of Miss Graham, though well-meaning and honest, was contradictory.
STRUGGLE FOR THE SUCCESSION.
IF anything could be needed to condemn Mormonism, and convince the world of its folly and wickedness, it is to be found in the many quarrels and contentions of its leading men, and the vituperation they heap upon each other when at variance. During the prophet's lifetime he was almost constantly in a quarrel with one or more of his followers and former trusted associates, denouncing and excommunicating them by turns, month after month, and then retaking them back to his embrace and confidence. Poor Martin Harris, who furnished the means to bring the Book of Mormon before the world, was placed under the malediction of the Lord even while the financial question was pending, and once or twice afterwards devoted to Satan's buffetings. Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, whilst in Missouri, were also sent on the same errand, and the same maledictions sent after them. The former never came back to seek, reconciliation;
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the latter, while he cannot forgive the blow, yet licked the hand that smote him. So Rigdon, Phelps, Williams, McLellin, and numbers of others, have had their "buffetings," then "repented," and returned (most of them) to their old places, or subordinate ones, in the camp.
After the prophet's death, as was to be expected, a great struggle began for the possession of the mantle that had fallen from his shoulders. The grief at his death was, no doubt, genuine on the part of the main body of his followers; but on the part of the few, was very much assuaged by the hope of assuming his place and honors. Rigdon, who all the world knows had the best right, if any right existed in the case, was soon sent back to Pittsburgh a shorn and discomfited man. He had been residing in that city -- sent away from Nauvoo for a purpose -- before the death of the Smiths ; but after that event, had returned, hoping to secure the leadership. Though in times past he and Cowdery had furnished the chief brain supply in fixing up the creed, he had no talent for organizing and commanding. Brigham Young, who had also been absent, hastened home, and by his superior ability soon had the rest of the Twelve under his control, and working in his interest. Orson Hyde and the two Pratts were all abler men than he on the platform, but in the council and among the people he
STRUGGLE FOR THE SUCCESSION. 305
was not to be resisted.
306 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
sweep of the axe.
STRUGGLE FOR THE SUCCESSION. 307
turned their assaults. In an issue of the Neighbor of December 18, 1844, is to be found an article under the signature of Orson Hyde, in which the following language occurs:
"Mr. Rigdon, do you not remember how you came into a certain council about the first of April or latter part of March last, that had been organized by Joseph Smith; and also how you danced and shouted, and threw your feet so high that you came well nigh falling backwards upon the stove? Certainly you must remember this; for you frothed at the mouth like a madman, and gave glory to God so long and loud that you became entirely hoarse and exhausted. Your song was, 'Glory to God and the Lamb, that I have lived in this time; Hallelujah to Jesus, that mine eyes have seen this day; and thanks to my brethren that I have been permitted to enter here, for of a surety God is with you in power and glory.' * * * Now you say that Joseph was a bad man, and has been for a long time. You say that all the authorities here are base and wicked. * * * And why are you now prating against him and the church, giving yourself the lie and rendering yourself a burlesque upon all honesty, integrity, consistency, and uprightness? * * * Your race, sir, is about run; and unless you speedily repent the hand of God will soon be heavily upon you. * * * But if you do repent, you are only damned for this world in the eyes of men, and may get salvation at last * * * When thy memory only lives to be a stink in thy nostrils, and also in the nostrils of God and his people; when thou art as powerless as John C. Bennett, or Judas Iscariot, then know that you have fought against Jehovah and lied in his holy name."In the Neighbor of December 4, 1844, we find
308 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
another letter addressed by Hyde to Rigdon from Cincinnati, through the medium of the New York Prophet. In this letter, the charge is made by innuendo that Rigdon was a murderer while in Missouri, and that he counselled murder for disobedience to the leaders. Hyde used this language:
"Elder Rigdon has been associated with Joseph and Hirum Smith as a councillor to the church, and he told me in Far West that it was the imperative duty of the church to obey the word of Joseph Smith, or the Presidency, without questioning or inquiry; and that if there were any that would not, they should have their throats cut from ear to ear. * * * Such kind of language I never heard from Joseph or Hyrum Smith; (?) neither did they preach a 'Salt Sermon,' nor tell a 'Granny Parish story,' nor boast of throwing any one aside into the hazel bush." (!)And he adds:
"Yoy have evidence that ever since that I have looked upon you as a base and wicked tyrant. And in that character do I now regard you,"And yet Orson Hyde was a co-worker with Rigdon for three years at Nauvoo, knowing, as he says, that he was a murderer, and an adviser and abettor of murder. And he is still to this day, in Utah, upholding and vindicating a Presidency whose first claim is the unquestioned obedience of its followers.
William Smith, whom everybody called "Patriarch
STRUGGLE FOR THE SUCCESSION. 309
Bill" (all the Smiths, including the father of the family, we believe, have enjoyed the partriarchal perwuisites at one time or another), the only male member left of the family,
310 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
About this time, Mr. Saulsbury also, a brother-in-law of the prophet
STRUGGLE FOR THE SUCCESSION. 311
to believe that Mormonism, instead of being now a monster in Utah, would be divided into as many isms in the States as there were ambitious leaders to fulminate a prophecy or originate a creed.
312 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
MR. STRANG was also a New Yorker, the son of a farmer, but had taught school, lectured, and studied law. He drifted to the West, and was engaged in practice in Burlington, Wisconsin. Smith's seeming success at Nauvoo attracted his attention, and he came to that city early in 1844, joined the church and was baptized, and was at once ordained an elder. He chose Wisconsin for his field of operations. Although he had been a convert but a few months, he was at the prophet's death ambitious of prophetic honors and emoluments, and claimed the right of succession on ground different from that of any of the other aspirants -- that of appointment from the Lord, through Smith himself, communicated to him by letter from Nauvoo only a few
A NEW PROPHET. 313
days before Smith was killed. That revelation read in part as follows:
"And now, behold, my servant James J. Strang hath come to thee from far, for truth, when he knew it not, and hath not rejected it, but had faith in thee, the Shepherd and Stone of Israel, and to him shall the gathering of the people be; for he shall plant a stake of Zion in Wisconsin, and I will establish it, and there shall my people have peace and reat, and shall not be moved, for it shall be established on White River, in the lands of Racine and Walworth.... And I will have a house built unto me of stone, and there will I show myself to my people by many mighty works; and the name of the city shall be called VOREE, which is, being interpreted, Garden of Peace -- for there shall my people have peace and rest, and wax fat and pleasant in presence of their enemies."
Strang was able to exhibit a letter envelope with the proper Nauvoo post-mark: and date, in proof of his claim; yet the time, the occasion, the circumstance, and even the style, strongly tend to the conclusion that it was all a forgery, and never emanated from Smith at all. Whether a forgery or not, he proceeded to carry out the purpose therein foreshadowed. Through his whole after career he servilely followed in Smith's footsteps, imitated his methods, and ended his inglorious career in much the same manner. At Voree he planted the "Stake of Zion," began prophesying, obtaining revelations, and secured a band of followers. He also issued a small monthly organ,
314 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
called the Voree Herald. Not to be outdone by his predecessor, he had some plates revealed to him -- the proof of which is to be found in the following:
TESTIMONY OF FOUR WITNESSES.
"On the 13th day of September, 1845, we, Aaron Smith, Jirah B. Wheelan, James M. Van Nostrand, and Edward Whitcomb, assembled at the call of James J. Strang, who is by us and many others approved as a Prophet and Seer of God. He proceeded to inform us that it had been revealed to him in a vision that an account of an ancient people was buried in a hill south of White River bridge, near the east line of Walworth County; and leading us to an oak tree, about one foot in diameter, told us that we would find it enclosed in a case of rude earthen ware under that tree, at the depth of about three feet; requested us to dig it up, and charged us to so examine the ground that we should know we were not imposed upon, and that it had not been buried there since the tree grew. The tree was surrounded by a sward of deeply rooted grass, such as is usually found in the openings; and upon the most critical examination, we could not discover any indication that it had ever been cut through or disturbed.
A NEW PROPHET. 315
bottom are twelve large stars from three of which pillars arise, and closely interspersed with them are seventy very small stars. The other four sides are very closely covered with what appear to be alphabetic characters, but in a language of which we have no knowledge.
316 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
Prophet of the Lord that a record would thus and there be found.
These three plates our Wisconsin prophet did not at once proceed to translate, as the box contained no "Urim and Thummim" to aid him -- a negligence on the part of the later Nephi or Moroni, for which it is hard to account. At a subsequent day, however, eighteen more plates were vouchsafed him, which he called the plates of Laban -- strangely forgetful of the fact, that the plates of Kaban, stolen and carried off by the sons of Lehi, had been deposited, together with his sword, in Cumorah Hill in the State of New York. An angel brought him a "Urim and Thummim" at length, and in due course of time all were translated, from what language we do not learn. The three are thus rendered:
"My people are no more. The mighty are fallen, and the young slain in battle. Their bones bleached on the plain by the noonday shadow. The houses are leveled to the dust, and in the moat are the walls. They shall be inhabited. I have in the burial served them, and their bones in the Death-shade, towards the sun's rising, are covered. They sleep with the mighty dead, and they rest with their fathers. They have fallen in transgression and are not, but the elect and faithful there shall dwell.
A NEW PROPHET. 317
to give an inheritance to his people where transgressors perished. The word of God came to me while I mourned in the Death-shade, saying, I will avenge me on the destroyer. He shall be driven out. Other strangers shall inhabit thy land. I an ensign there will set up. The escaped of my people there shall dwell when the flock disown the Shepherd and build not on the rock.
The remaining plates were translated from time to time, and published under the title of:
THE BOOK OF THE LAW OF THE LORD,"Consisting of an Inspired Translation of Some of the Most Important Plates of the Law given to Moses, and a Very Few Additional Commandments, with Brief Notes and References."
All this, it will be seen, was a feeble imitation of Smith's methods, which had been so successful fifteen years before; the testimony, however, to the discovery of the plates lacked the angelic and the impossible element, and hence was less successful. But it was not without its results. Quite a colony of believers was formed at Voree, and after a time transferred to Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. Here it greatly increased in numbers; and assuming the same arrogant pretensions adopted
318 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
by the older prophet, Strang also became inimical to his neighbors and to the government. Strifes and discord ensued; he was arrested for treason by order of the United States authorities, taken to Detroit, tried, and acquitted. Returning to Beaver Island, his aggressive career was resumed. He was finally murdered by some of his apostate followers in 1856 -- after which the colony dispersed; and at this day little is heard of the Prophet Strang, his plates, his translations, his prophecies, his dishonored life, or tragica; death.
Following openly the example set him clandestinely at Nauvoo, he too, was a polygamist, and is said to have had five or six wives at his death. As in the case of his more successful prototype, the assumption of infallible kingly and priestly power, the gathering to one holy Zion, and the disobedience to law, were the rocks on which he was wrecked.
The office of "Prophet, Seer, and Revelator," in the Mormon system, has been a dangerous one. All but one who have occupied it have met tragical fates. First Joseph Smith, its inventor -- murdered by a mob in an Illinois jail in 1844; second, Strang -- shot on an island in Lake Michigan; and, third, Morris -- butchered as an apostate among
A NEW PROPHET. 319
the mountain fastness of Utah in 1862; -- terrible, but not unnatural, results from lives of wickedmess and blasphemy. Who would be a Mormon Prophet!
320 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
THE year 1844 was one of disorder and blood in Hancock County: but that of 1845 was more bloody still. At the August election of 1844, three very obnoxious men had been elected to office: Almon W. Babbitt, a Mormon attorney, and Jacob B. Backenstos, one of those much-hated men known as Jack-Mormons, to the Legislature and General Minor R. Deming to the office of Sheriff.
As before, stated, the agreement entered into that no arrests should be made of the parties under indictment for the murder of the Smiths, was violated by the prosecution, and frequent attempts were made to arrest some of them during the winter by the Sheriff and his deputies. Jacob C. Davis,
MORE VIOLENCE AND BLOODSHED. 321
one of them, was a Senator in the State Legislature, and at the opening of the session he took his seat in that body. During the winter he was arrested at the Capital by an officer from Hancock County; but was ordered released by a resolution of the Senate.
During the session a move was made to repeal the charter of the city of Nauvoo, and on January 21, 1845, the measure passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 76 yeas to 36 nays. It subsequently passed the Senate by a large majority. The repeal was strenuously opposed by both Babbitt and Backenstos -- by the latter in a violent speech, which greatly incensed the Anti-Mormon community against him.
During the winter and spring -- as a result of the unsettled condition of affairs at Nauvoo, and the consequent hard times -- there was an unusual amount of stealing done, not only in the city but in other parts of the county. It extended also to Adams, Henderson, and other adjoining counties. In Adams, where arrests could be made, there were as many as eight Mormons in jail at one time for these petty offences. In the city the two parties, :"Twelveites"and "Rigdonites," charged the offencea to each other. The nuisance became so insupportable, that public meetings were held at various points to devise means of protection and redress,
322 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
Township committees were appointed to collect statistics of these thefts for publication, which was done, footing up hundreds of dollars in some townships. Some of these reports, there is reason to believe, were exaggerated; but as many must have been omitted, it is safe to say the totals do not exceed the truth. Of course, it was not proven, or even known, that these depredations were all committed by Mormons, and they probably were not. The suggestion has been often made that much of this thieving may have been done on Mormon credit; which, in itself, is an admission against them; but that a large per cent. of it was perpetrated by members of that fraternity, all circumstances go to show. And events that transpired this year, show that they harbored among them men who did not hesitate at robery and assassination.
On Saturday night, May 10, 1845, a horrible robbery and murder was committed near the town of Franklin, Lee County, Iowa, on the persons of John Miller, a Mennonite German minister from Pennsylvania, and Mr. Leiza, his son-in-law. The latter was not killed, but died of his wounds soon afterwards. The locality is about ten or twelve miles from Nauvoo, across the Mississippi, and the murders, three in number, were traced to that city. There names were William Hodge, Stephen
MORE VIOLENCE AND BLOODSHED. 323
Hodge (brothers), and Thomas Brown. The Hodges were arrested on the 13th, and conveyed to the Iowa penitentiary at Fort Madison for safe-keeping. On the 15th, they were indicted by the grand jury in the Lee district court, then in session at West Point, and on the 21st were arraigned for trial. They asked for a change of venue, and the cause was certified to Des Moines County. On the 21st of June they were put upon trial at Burlington. They were defended by J. C. Hall and F. D. Mills, two eminent attorneys of the Burlington bar, and by Geo. Edmunds, Esq., of Nauvoo. The trial lasted about a week and ended in a verdict of Guilty. Judge Mason sentenced them to the gallows, and on the 15th of July they were duly executed.
On the night of the 23d of June, Irvine Hodge, brother to the accused, was assassinated in Nauvoo, while on his way home from a visit to his doomed brothers in the Burlington jail. He had, it was said, endeavored in induce Brigham Young to send and have his brothers rescued from jail; and failing, had been free in denouncing his chief for refusing to authorize the raid. But little notice was taken in Nauvoo of this murder; no arrests were made, and no one was ever brought to trial for the crime. The perpetrator or the purpose of this murder may never be known. The "Patriarch" William
324 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
Smith's letter to the Sangamo Journal, dated September 24, 1846, may throw some light on the subject:
"Irvine Hodge was murdered within twelve feet of Brigham Young's door. Amos Hodge, it is said, was murdered between Montrose and Nashville, Iowa (two towns across the river from Nauvoo), by Brigham Young's guard, who pretended to escort him out of Nauvoo for his safety, under cover of woman's clothes -- who then pretended that he had run away.... If Mr. Amos Hodge, the father of these young Hidges, will call and see me, I can tell him the names of persons that will put him on the track of the men who murdered his sons."
But why did not Mr. Smith communicate those names to the grand jury, in order that the perpetrators of those secret crimes might be brought to justice? And why has he these long years since withheld from the public and the authorities his knowledge of the matter? Whatever he may have been then, he claims to be now a law-abiding man and good citizen, yet we never heard that he has ever given any other information concerning it, than is contained by innuendo in that letter. *
On the trial of the Hodge brothers at Burlington, the accused made an affidavit for witnesses to prove an alibi, claiming to rely upon the testimony of five
* At the present writing, we believe Mr. Smith is still living and occupying a position of distinction in the Reorganized Church.
MORE VIOLENCE AND BLOODSHED. 325
or six named residents of Nauvoo,
326 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
he was revived sufficiently to describe
MORE VIOLENCE AND BLOODSHED. 327
and he desired others to be equally so;
328 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
In the autumn of this year (1845),
MORE VIOLENCE AND BLOODSHED. 329
330 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
woman belonging to the family,
MORE VIOLENCE AND BLOODSHED. 331
Sheriff Backenstos, at the head of his large force,
332 THE PROPHET OF PALMYRA.
Wilcox, a young man from St. Mary's township,
MORE VIOLENCE AND BLOODSHED. 333
is hardly to be supposed that the Mormons in that remote settlement from the city, and at a time of so much excitement against them, could be so aggressive as to commit such an act,
continue reading on: p. 334