the above, when Joseph Duncan was candidate for the office of governor
of Illinois, he pledged himself to his party that, if he could be elected, he
would exterminate or drive the Mormons from the state. The consequence was
that Governor Ford was elected. The Whigs . . . became
seriously alarmed, and sought to repair their disaster by raising a crusade
against the people. The Whig newspapers teemed with accounts of the wonders
and enormities of Nauvoo, and of the awful wickedness of a party which could
consent to receive the support from such miscreants . . . .
The third party, composed of counterfeiters, blacklegs, horse thieves,
and cutthroats, were a pack of scoundrels that infested the whole of the
western country at that time. In some districts their influence was so great
as to control important state and county offices . . . . There were
counterfeiters engaged in merchandizing, trading, and storekeeping in most of
the cities and villages, and in some districts . . . the judges, sheriffs,
constables and jailors, as well as professional men, were more or less
associated with them. These had in their employ the most reckless, abandoned
wretches, who stood ready to carry into effect the most desperate enterprises,
persecuting the Mormons was in part to cover their rascality, and in part to
prevent from exposing and prosecuting them. But the principal
reason was plunder, believing that if could be removed or
driven, they would be made fat on Mormon spoils, besides having in the
deserted city a good asylum for the prosecution of their diabolical pursuits.
This conglomeration of apostate Mormons, religious bigots, political
fanatics and blacklegs all united their  forces against the Mormons, and
organized themselves into a party, denominated "antiMormons". Some of them,
we have reason to believe, joined the church in order to cover their nefarious
practices, and when they were expelled for their unrighteousness only raged
with greater violence. They circulated every kind of falsehood that they could
collect or manufacture against the Mormons. They also had a paper to assist
them in their infamous designs, called the Warsaw Signal, edited by a Mr.
Thomas Sharp, a violent and unprincipled man, who shrunk not from any enormity
. . . .
attended, where they passed resolutions of the most violent and inflamatory
kind, threatening to drive, expel and exterminate the Mormons from the state,
at the same time accusing them of every evil in the vocabulary of crime . . .
Their meetings . . . soon resulted in the organization of armed mobs, . .
circulated through the adjoining counties.
We also published in the Times and Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor (two
papers published and edited by me at that time) an account not only of their
proceedings, but our own. But such was the hostile feeling, so well arranged
their plans, and so desperate and lawless their measures, that it was with the
greatest difficulty that we could get our papers circulated; they were
destroyed by postmasters and others, and scarcely ever arrived at the place of
their destination, so that a great many people, who would have been otherwise
peaceable, were excited by their misrepresentations, and instigated to join
their hostile or predatory bands.
Emboldened by the acts of those outside, the apostate Mormons, associated
with others, commenced the publication of a libelous paper in Nauvoo, called
the Nauvoo Expositor.
 The Expositor was published as the organ of a dissident group of
about 200 members within the city who had formed a rival church. The
group was headed by men of influence who had become convinced that the
prophet and that his more recent revelationsparticularly concerning
multiple gods, eternal marriage involving plural wives, and baptism for
the deadwere abominations.
The shattering impact of the Expositor's charges came not because
they were new or different; they weren'tpractically everything had
already been printed in the antiMormon press. But this came from the
inside, from men recently high in church councils, who still believed in
original doctrines but deplored recent practices and revelations.
Perhaps the Saints could have withstood all external agitation. The
appearance of the Expositor indicated that the solidarity of the Society
was crumbling from within.
At this time, Joseph was running for the Presidency of the United
States, with Taylor his campaign manager. As he laid the groundwork for
the campaign, Taylor never for an instant doubted that the prophet would
be the next president. "We do not believe," the Expositor said, "that God
ever raised up a prophet to christianize a world by political schemes and
In a series of resolutions, the rebel sect summarized its
Inasmuch as we have for years borne with the individual follies and
iniquities of Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith,  and many other official
characters in the Church; and inasmuch as they have introduced false and
damnable doctrines into the Church, such as a plurality of Gods; the plurality
of wives, for time and eternity; . . . we therefore are constrained to
denounce them as apostates from the pure and holy doctrines of Jesus Christ .
. . .
We disapprobate and discountenance every attempt to unite church and
for political power and influence be not commendable in the sight of God....
We consider the religious influence exercised in financial concerns by
Joseph Smith as unjust as it is unwarranted . . . . We consider the gathering,
in haste and by sacrifice, to be contrary to the will of God, and that it has
been taught by Joseph Smith and others for the purpose of enabling them to
sell property at most exhorbitant prices . . . and thus the wealth which is
brought into the place is swallowed up by the one great throat, from whence
there is no return . . . .
Taylor furiously refuted charges of "a knot of base men":
To further their wicked and malicious designs toward the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints and to bolster up the intents of blacklegs and
bogusmakers, and advocate the characters of murderers. . . . issued a
paper entitled the Nauvoo Expositor, . . . filled with libels and slanderous
articles upon the citizens and City Council from one end to the other.
"A burnt child dreads the fire." The Church as a body and individually
has suffered till "forebearance has ceased to be a virtue." The cries and
pleadings of men, women and children, with the authorities were, "Will you
 suffer that servile, murderous paper to go on and vilify and slander the
innocent inhabitants of this city, and raise another mob to drive and plunder
us again as they did in Missouri?" . . .
Joseph Smith, therefore, who was mayor, convened the city council; . . .
the paper was introduced and read, and the subject examined . . . .
Being a member of the city council, I well remember the feeling of
responsibility that seemed to rest upon all present; nor shall I soon forget
the bold, manly, independent expressions of Joseph Smith on that occasion in
relation to this matter. He exhibited in glowing colors the meanness,
corruption and ultimate designs of the antiMormons; their despicable
characters and ungodly influences, especially those who were in our midst. He
told of the responsibility that rested upon us, as guardians of the public
interest, to stand up in defense of the injured and oppressed, to stem the
current of corruption, and as men and saints, to put a stop to this flagrant
outrage upon this people's rights.
He stated that no man was a stronger advocate for the liberty of speech
and of the press than himself; yet, when this noble gift is utterly
prostituted and abused, as in the present instance, it loses all claim to our
respect, and becomes as great an agent for evil as it can possibly be for
good; and notwithstanding the apparent advantage we should give our enemies by
this act, yet it behooved us, as men, to act independent of all secondary
influences, to perform the part of men of enlarged minds, and boldly and
fearlessly to discharge the duties devolving upon us by declaring as a
nuisance, and removing, this filthy, libelous, and seditious sheet from our
midst . . . .
The city council of Nauvoo on Monday, the 10th instant, declared the
establishment and Expositor a nuisance; and the city marshal, at the head of
and burned them . . . .
 And in the name of freemen, and in the name of God, we beseech all men
who have the spirit of honor in them to cease from persecuting us,
collectively or individually. Let us enjoy our religion, rights and peace like
the rest of mankind. Why start presses to destroy rights and privileges, and
bring upon us mobs to plunder and murder? We ask no more than what belongs to
usthe rights of citizens. (14)
No member of the city council could anticipate the violence of the
public reaction. Abatement of the Expositor triggered a chain of events
that led to the martyrdom at Carthage Jail and expulsion of the Saints
"UNPARALLELED OUTRAGE AT NAUVOO", the Warsaw Signal screamed:
. . . We have only to state, that this is sufficient! War and
extermination is inevitable! Citizens ARISE, ONE and ALL!!! Can you stand by
and suffer such INFERNAL DEVILS to rob men of their property and rights,
without avenging them? We have no time for comment, every man will make his
own. Let it be made with POWDER and BALL!!! (15)
"Our town for the last week has been in a constant state of
excitement," Thomas Sharp reported in the next issue of the Signal:
Business has been almost entirely suspended; and every ablebodied man is
under arms and almost constantly at drill . . . .
In Carthage and Green Plains, the citizens are all in arms, and . . .
throughout the county, every man is ready for the conflict.
 We have assurances that our neighbors in Missouri and Iowa will aid us.
In Clark County, Mo., we understand that many are holding themselves in
readiness . . . . From Rushville we have just learned by express that 300 men
have enlisted for the struggle. McDonough County is all alive and ready for
the word of command. From Keosauqua, Iowa. . . . the citizens are in arms in
our behalf, and only wait our call. From Keokuk and the river towns we learn
that all are arming.
Joe is evidently much alarmed, but he has gone too far to back out . . .
. Compromise is out of the question . . . .
6 o'clock p.m.D. W. Mathews, who was sent last Sunday to St. Louis, has
. . . succeeded in procuring cannon; and has brought up a good supply of
To our friends at a distance we say come! . . . Come! You will be doing
your God and your country service, in aiding us to rid the earth of a most
Heavendaring wretch . . . .
We publish today but half a sheet. Our hands are all out on drill, and
it is with difficulty that we can even get out our regular paper. (16)
John Taylor was chairman of a meeting at Nauvoo, where it was
resolved, that inasmuch as many false reports are being circulated through
this county by designing characters for the purpose of bringing persecution
upon the peaceable citizens of this city, we will use our endeavors to
disabuse the public mind, and present a true statement of facts before them as
speedily as possible.
Resolved, that for the more speedy accomplishment of this object, this
meeting appoint delegates to go to the different precincts throughout the
county to lay a true statement of facts before the public. (17)
 Taylor also published an explanation in an extra of the Nauvoo
Neighbor, pointing out that there had been no public outcry when the
Mormon press was destroyed at Jackson County, Missouri, and stating that
the question of whether the city council had acted unlawfully in abating
the Expositor was a matter for a court to decide. (18)
The antiMormon paper, the Warsaw Signal . . . represented as a
horde of lawless ruffians and brigands, antiAmerican and antiRepublican,
steeped in crime and iniquity, opposed to freedom of speech and of the press
and all the rights and immunities of a free and enlightened people; that
neither person nor property was secure, that we had designs upon the citizens
of Illinois and of the United States; and the people were called to rise en
masse, and put us down, drive us away, or exterminate us as a pest to society,
and alike dangerous to our neighbors, the state, and the commonwealth.
These statements were extensively copied and circulated throughout the
United States. A true statement of the facts in question was published by us
in the Nauvoo Neighbor, but it was found impossible to circulate them in the
immediate counties, as they were destroyed at the post offices or otherwise by
the agents of the antiMormons . . . .
On complaint of the Expositor group, a justice of the peace at
Carthage, Thomas Morrison, charged Joseph and members of the Nauvoo City
Council with riot, and dispatched Constable David Bettisworth to bring
The council did not refuse to attend to the legal proceedings in the
case, but as the law of Illinois made it the privilege of the persons accused
to "appear before the issuers of the writ, or any other justice of the peace,"
they requested to be taken before another magistrate. . . .
 This the constable, who was a mobocrat, refused to do; and as this was
our legal privilege, we refused to be dragged, contrary to law, a distance of
eighteen miles, when at the same time we had reason to believe that an
organized band of mobocrats were assembled for the purpose of extermination or
murder . . . . A writ of habeas corpus was called for, issued by the municipal
court of Nauvoo, taking us out of the hands of Bettisworth and placing us in
the charge of the city marshal. We went before the municipal court and were
Our refusal to obey this illegal proceeding was by them construed into .
. . open rebellion against the laws and the authorities of the state. Hence
mobs began to assemble, among which all through the country inflamatory
speeches were made, exciting them to mobocracy and violence. Soon they
commenced their depredations in our outside settlements, kidnapping some, and
whipping and otherwise abusing others.
Joseph placed Nauvoo under marital law; the Legion was "mustered to
the number of about five thousand." As tension increased, Governor Ford
went to Carthage, the county seat, to investigate the situation. He
requested Joseph to send a committee to "represent to him the state of
affairs" existing in the county.
Dr. J. M. Bernhisel and myself were appointed as a committee by General
Smith to wait upon the governor.... We were furnished with affidavits and
documents in relation both to our proceedings and those of the mob. . . .
We started from Nauvoo at about 7 o'clock on the evening of the 21st of
June, and arrived at Carthage about 11 p.m. We put up at the same hotel with
the governor, kept by a Mr. Hamilton. On our arrival we found the governor in
bed, but not so with the other inhabitants. The town was filled with a perfect
set of rabble  and rowdies, who, under the influence of bacchus, seemed to
be holding a grand saturnalia, whooping, helling and vociferating as if bedlam
had broken loose.
There was an attempt to separate Taylor and Bernhisel at the hotel.
They refused, "Believing this to be a ruse to get me out alone, and that
some violence was intended." Their bed was separated only by a fragile
partition from that of Joseph H. Jackson,
a desperate character, and a reputed notorious cutthroat and murderer. . . .
That night I lay awake with my pistols under my pillow, waiting for any
interview with the governor . . . . After awaiting the governor's pleasure for
some time, we had an audiencebut such an audience!
He was surrounded by some of the vilest and most unprincipled men in
creation . . . in all, some fifteen or twenty persons, most of whom were
recreant to virtue, honor, integrity, and everything that is considered
honorable among men . . . . During our conversation and explanations with the
governor we were frequently rudely and impudently contradicted by the fellows
he had around him . . . .
He opened and read a number of documents himself, and as he proceeded he
was frequently interrupted by "That's a lie!" "That's a God damned lie!"
"That's an infernal falsehood!" "That's a blasted lie!", etc.
During the conversation, the governor expressed a desire that Joseph
Smith, and all parties concerned in passing or executing the city law in
relation to the press, had better come to Carthage; that, however repugnant it
might be to our feelings, he thought it would have a  tendency to allay
public excitement, and prove to the people what we professed, that we wished
to be governed by the law . . . .
He strenuously advised us not to bring our arms, and pledged his faith as
governor, and the faith of the state, that we should be protected, and that he
would guarantee our perfect safety.
Taylor and Bernhisel waited six hours while the governor prepared an
HEADQUARTERS CARTHAGE, June 22, 1844
To the Mayor and City Council of the City of Nauvoo:
Gentlemen: After examining carefully all the allegations on the part of
the citizens of Hancock County, and the defensive matter submitted to me by
the committee of your citizens concerning the existing disturbances, I find
that there appears to be but little contradiction as to the important facts;
so that it may safely be assumed that the immediate cause of the existing
excitement is the destruction of the press and Nauvoo Expositor, and the
subsequent refusal of the individuals accused to be accountable therefore
according to the general laws of this state, and the insisting on your parts
ordinances of your city . . . .
I now express to you my opinion that your conduct in the destruction of
the press was a very gross outrage upon the laws and liberties of the people.
It may have been full of libels, but this did not authorize you to destroy
it.... Just such an act in 1830 hurled the king of France from his throne, and
caused the imprisonment of four of his principal ministers for life. No
civilized country can tolerate such conduct, much less can it be tolerated in
this free country of the United States . . . .
 In the particular case now under consideration, I require any and all of
you who are or shall be accused to submit yourselves to be arrested by the
same constable, by virtue of the same warrant, and be tried before the same
magistrate whose authority has heretofore been resisted. Nothing short of this
can vindicate the dignity of violated law and allay the just excitement of the
people . . . .
"We returned on horseback," Taylor recounted,
and arrived at Nauvoo, I think, about eight or nine o'clock at night,
accompanied by Captain Yates in command of a company of mounted men, who came
for the purpose of escorting Joseph Smith and the accused . . . to Carthage.
We went directly to Brother Joseph's, when Captain Yates delivered to him the
A council was called, consisting of Joseph's brother, Hyrum, Dr.
Richards, Dr. Bernhisel, myself and one or two others. We then gave a detail
of our interview with the governor. Brother Joseph was very much dissatisfied
with the governor's letter and with his general deportment, and so were the
council; and it became a serious question as to the course we should pursue.
Various projects were discussed, but nothing definitely decided upon for some
with Brother Joseph. They detained him for some time; . . . and as it was now
between 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning, and I had had no rest the previous
night, I was fatigued, and thinking that Brother Joseph might not return, I
left for home . . . .
I slept soundly, and was somewhat surprised in the morning by Mrs.
Thompson entering my room about 7 o'clock and exclaiming in surprise, "What,
you here? The brethren have crossed the river some time since."
 "What brethren?" I asked.
"Brother Joseph, and Hyrum, and Brother Richards," she answered.
I immediately arose upon learning that they had crossed the river, and
did not intend to go to Carthage. I called together a number of persons in
whom I had confidence, and had the type, stereotype plates, and most of the
valuable things removed from the printing office, believing that should the
governor and his force come to Nauvoo, the first thing they would do would be
to burn the printing office, for I knew that they would be exasperated if
Brother Joseph went away. We had talked over these matters the night before,
but nothing was decided upon. It was Brother Joseph's opinion that, should we
leave for a time, public excitement, which was then so intense, would be