The John Taylor Papers, by Samuel W. & Raymond W. Taylor Volume I, The Apostle

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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,

and were careless alike of human life and property. Their object in

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 [67] 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

. . . .

The antiMormons had public meetings, which were very numerously

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, . .

. the reports of which were published in the antiMormon papers, and

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.

[68] 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

original Mormon doctrine was true, but that Joseph had become a fallen

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, [69] 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

state; and that we further believe the effort now being made by Joseph Smith

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 . . . .

The Expositor also denounced "reveling and dancing, dram shops and


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

[70] 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

the police, in the evening took the press, materials and paper into the street

and burned them . . . .

[71] 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

from Illinois.

"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.

[72] 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

amunition . . . .

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)

[73] 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 accused for a hearing. Taylor explained:

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. . . .

[74] 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 [75] 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

emergency . . . . In the morning we arose early, and after breakfast sought an

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 [76] 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

official letter:


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

to be accountable only before your own municipal court, and according to the

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 . . . .

[77] 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

governor's communication.

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


In the interim two gentlemen arrived, . . . very anxious for an interview

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."

[78] "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

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