DC 135 Historical Background
The Road to Carthage
From Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling:
In the stormy spring of 1844, the King Follett discourse rose like a castle in the weeds, a splendid, mysterious heterodoxy standing amid the bitterness in Nauvoo. The sermon thrilled many of the city's Mormons. Joseph Fielding, one of the Prophet's listeners, said, "Any one that could not see in him the Spirit of inspiration of God must be dark, they might have known that he was not a fallen Prophet even if they thought he was fallen." People like Fielding loved accounts of the heavenly order. Not so the Laws, Fosters, and Higbees. William Law said the annual conference brought out "some of the most blasphemous doctrines... ever heard of," such as "other gods as far above our God as he is above us."
At the first formal meeting of their reform church on April 28, the dissenters chose William Law to preside and selected two apostles. The dissenters did not aim to overthrow Mormonism; in their view, Joseph was a fallen prophet, not a fraud. They held on to the Book of Mormon and the more conventional Christian doctrines of the early Church. What they hated was polygamy, the Kingdom of God, and the "tyranny" of Joseph Smith. They wanted to reform Mormonism from within by purging it of its excrescences. Law insisted he was only president of the new church, not a prophet, but otherwise their principles were meant to appeal to alienated Mormons who were offended by the rumors of spiritual wives and Joseph's merger of church and state. By canvassing the city, the dissenters by mid-May were attracting three hundred listeners to their meetings.
To put teeth in their campaign, the seceders brought charges against Joseph in Carthage courts. On May 1, Francis Higbee charged Joseph in circuit court with speaking "false scandalous malicious and defamatory words" concerning Higbee's character. Three weeks later, William Law charged Joseph with living in adultery with a plural wife, Maria Lawrence. A Carthage grand jury issued indictments for perjury and polygamy on the witness of Joseph Jackson, Robert Foster, and William Law...
About eight o'clock on the morning of Monday, May 27, Joseph, though not yet arrested, left for Carthage, to have the grand jury indictments investigated. For safety's sake, two dozen brethren joined him along the way. At noon, they arrived at A. Hamilton's Carthage Hotel, where Joseph Jackson, Francis Higbee, and Chauncey Higbee were also lodging. To Joseph's surprise, Charles Foster joined his party, speaking more mildly than before. In the hotel, Foster took Joseph aside and told him that Joseph Jackson planned to kill him. Joseph later swore in court to the truth of Charles Foster's surprising behavior, adding that Foster had warned Joseph not to go out of doors or blood would be shed. "There were those who were determined I should not go out of the village alive." Apparently when Foster saw the cold-blooded Jackson loading his pistol, his animosity disappeared. Joseph went ahead with the court proceedings, but one of the prosecution's material witnesses being absent, the case was deferred until the next term. Joseph's party watched Jackson closely as they left town, but he made no move. They arrived home about nine that evening.
By the end of May, everyone involved seemed determined to drive through to the cataclysmic conclusion. The dissenters proceeded with their campaign to pull down Joseph Smith, even though they must have known that a revelation of his faults would provoke his enemies in surrounding towns. An exposé of evil doings in Nauvoo would fan the flames in Warsaw. The dissenters obtained a press in May, issued a prospectus, and on June 7, 1844 published a thousand copies of the one and only issue of the Nauvoo Expositor.
The Expositor consisted of seven essays... The paper aimed "to explode the vicious principles of Joseph Smith, and those who practice the same abominations and whoredoms"-meaning primarily polygamy. On top of that scandalous practice, the editor objected to the doctrine "that there are innumerable Gods as much above the God that presides over this universe, as he is above us."...
At the city council meeting the next day, Joseph argued that the paper was "a nuisance, a greater nuisance than a dead carcass." The term "nuisance" came from a passage in Blackstone that he would use to justify suppression of the paper. The Expositor was a "nuisance" because it threatened to bring the countryside down on the Mormons. "It is not safe that such things should exist, on account of the mob spirit which they tend to produce." Joseph would later quote Blackstone to Governor Thomas Ford to prove the city council acted legally.
The legal fine points were lost in the subsequent chaos. The city council met for six and a half hours on Monday, June 10, "investigating the Merits of the Nauvoo Expositor." They seemed to realize they were taking a huge risk when they finally passed an ordinance concerning libels, but they concluded that the action was necessary and legally justified. Joseph, as mayor, ordered the city marshal, John P. Greene, to destroy the Expositor and the major general of the Nauvoo Legion to assist. "About 8 p.m. the Marshall returned and reported that he had removed the press, type, and printed papers, and fixtures into the street, and fired them." The posse, consisting of about a hundred men, gathered in front of Joseph's house after the work was done to hear a speech. "I would never submit to have another libelous publication... established in this city." He told them. "I cared not how many papers there were in the city if they would print the truth but would submit to no libe[l]s or slander."
In the "considerable excitement" the day after, the dissenters stormed about saying "the Temple shall be thrown down Joseph['s] house burned & the printing office torn down," possibly thinking of an anti-Mormon invasion. Francis Higbee predicted "in 10 days there will not be a Mormon left in Nauvoo." Joseph's enemies were persuaded that he had crossed the line in closing the Expositor. Whether or not the law of libels or abatement of a nuisance justified the action, he had trespassed freedom of the press, which had become nearly a sacred right in the United States. Joseph was deaf to these ideas. He did not grasp the enormity of destroying a press, especially one that was attacking him. Fear of another mob drove his action... Joseph failed to see that suppression of the paper was far more likely to arouse a mob than the libels. It was a fatal mistake.
The next day Francis Higbee entered a complaint before a Carthage justice of the peace, and two days after the event, Constable David Bettisworth was in Nauvoo to arrest the Prophet and his accomplices for riot in suppressing the press. The accused were released by the municipal court as usual, but the constable... was certain to return...
Monday, June 17, began Joseph's final week in Nauvoo. Feeling the noose tightening, he turned Nauvoo into an armed camp. When the news came on Tuesday that the mob "threaten[ed] extermination to the whole Church in Nauvoo," he assembled the legion and addressed them from the platform of a partially constructed building across from the Nauvoo mansion. Standing in full military dress, he raised his sword to the sky and declared he would not give up without a fight. Clayton said that Joseph "urged them in strong terms not to shed innocent blood.-not to act in the least on the offensive but invariably on the defensive and if we die-die like men of God and secure a glorious resurrection." Then he put the city under martial law and marched the troops up Main Street. Through the week, armed Mormons moved in from the outlying settlements to prepare for battle. Reports of armed attack on Mormon farms arrived almost daily. Joseph deployed the troops throughout the city to prevent invasions by water or land. Joseph naively believed that benevolent higher officials would rescue him. That week he penned a letter to U.S. president John Tyler asking for aid while keeping Governor Ford informed of mob action in hopes he would intervene. Joseph had earlier explained to Ford the rationale for closing the Expositor, confident that he had acted legally. He never thought of himself as a lawbreaker. His reliance on the much-disputed municipal court, he said, came from his desire to observe legal procedures established under the Nauvoo Charter. He admitted he may have erred in judgment. "If it be so that we have erred in this thing. Let the Supreme Court correct the evil."
Ford acknowledged that Joseph could have been deceived by self-serving politicians into believing the municipal court was authorized to hear all cases. Joseph's great error in the Expositor suppression, Ford said, was acting without allowing the proprietors to defend themselves. Joseph conceived of the suppression as an executive action of the city council; Ford thought it should have been a judicial proceeding with both sides heard. Joseph was quite willing to argue his position, but not before a Carthage court. "I have ever held myself in readiness to comply with your orders and answer for my proceedings before any legal tribunal in the state," but not where the witnesses would "put themselves into the power of an infuriated, blood thirsty mob."...
On Friday, June 21, Ford arrived in Carthage and sent for Mormon representatives to tell their side of the story. Fearing to venture into the camp of his sworn enemies, Joseph sent John Taylor to speak for him. On Saturday Ford conveyed his conclusions to the Prophet. The governor dismissed the widespread rumors about Mormons burning houses or stealing horses. Only one crime stood out to Ford: Joseph had broken the law in shutting down the press without a fair hearing and must come to Carthage to stand trial. "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." If Joseph did not submit to the law, there would be war. "If you by refusing to submit, shall make it necessary to call out the Militia I have great fears that your city will be destroyed and your people many of them exterminated." And yet the governor had no choice: "If no such submission is made as I have indicated I will be obliged to call out the Militia, and if a few thousands will not be sufficient many thousands will be."
Joseph was hesitant. He wrote Ford on Saturday at noon, "We dare not come, though your Excell[enc]y promises protection. Yet at the same time you have expressed fears that you could not control the mob.-in which case we are left to the mercy of the Merciless." But staying home was also dangerous. The militia would invade the city to capture the Prophet and bloodshed would follow. Faced with this dilemma, Joseph chose to flee... Late Saturday night, he crossed the swollen Mississippi River. He and Hyrum and Willard Richards bailed the leaky boat with their boots while Porter Rockwell rowed. About daybreak Joseph wrote Emma from Montrose that he was on his way to Washington.
Joseph remained on the Iowa side less than twelve hours. When Rockwell returned for horses he found frightened peopled in Nauvoo. They feared the posse would tear up the city in search of the Prophet... Hyrum and Emma favored trusting to God and the courts. At 2 p.m. Joseph wrote Ford from the riverbank that he was coming in-if a protective posse could be provided. All he asked was that all be done "in due form of law." By five o'clock on Sunday afternoon, June 23, Joseph was back in Nauvoo.
He left for Carthage on Monday morning, June 24, with the fourteen others charged with closing the Expositor. Four miles from his destination, he met Captain James Dunn of the McDonough County militia with sixty mounted men under orders from Ford to collect state-issued arms in Nauvoo. Joseph countersigned the order and then returned to Nauvoo with Dunn to aid in the collection. The return gave Joseph another chance to bid his family farewell. Clayton observed that Joseph "appeared to feel solemn and though[t]ful and from expressions made to several individuals he expects nothing but to be massacred." His choice was to "give himself up or the City be massacred by a lawless mob." After seeing Emma one last time, Joseph again departed for Carthage, arriving at Hamilton's Hotel around midnight.
All the next day, Tuesday, June 25, rumors circulated about plots to kill the Prophet and carry the violence to Nauvoo... The justice of the peace, Robert Smith, committed Joseph and Hyrum to prison without a hearing, claiming he did so for their safety. John Taylor, the Mormon apostle, was furious. He told Ford if Joseph could be dragged to prison "at the instance of every infernal scoundrel whose oath could be bought for a dram of whiskey, his protection availed very little."
Joseph's first action the next day, Wednesday, June 26, was to appeal to the governor for release from prison. He wanted to return to the safety of Nauvoo. Every time he was escorted through town, he was in danger... (Richard Lyman Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, [New York: Random House, 2005], 537-547)
History of the Church records:
Thursday, June 27, [continued] 10:30.,-Governor Ford went to Nauvoo some time this forenoon, escorted by a portion of his troops, most friendly to the prisoners, and leaving the known enemies of the Prophet, ostensibly to guard the jail, having previously disbanded the remainder...
5 P.M.-Jailor Stigall returned to the jail, and said that Stephen Markham had been surrounded by a mob, who had driven him out of Carthage, and he had gone to Nauvoo.
Stigall suggested that they would be safer in the cell. Joseph said, "After supper we will go in." Mr. Stigall went out, and Joseph said to Dr. Richards, "If we go into the cell, will you go in with us?" The doctor answered, "Brother Joseph you did not ask me to cross the river with you-you did not ask me to come to Carthage-you did not ask me to come to jail with you-and do you think I would forsake you now? But I will tell you what I will do; if you are condemned to be hung for treason, I will be hung in your stead, and you shall go free." Joseph said "You cannot." The doctor replied, "I will."
Before the jailor came in, his boy brought in some water, and said the guard wanted some wine. Joseph gave Dr. Richards two dollars to give the guard; but the guard said one was enough, and would take no more.
The guard immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the guards brought them into the jail soon after the jailor went out. Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as also Brother Taylor and the doctor, and the bottle was then given to the guard, who turned to go out. When at the top of the stairs some one below called him two or three times, and he went down.
Immediately there was a little rustling at the outer door of the jail, and a cry of surrender, and also a discharge of three or four firearms followed instantly. The doctor glanced an eye by the curtain of the window, and saw about a hundred armed men around the door.
It is said that the guard elevated their firelocks, and boisterously threatening the mob discharged their firearms over their heads. The mob encircled the building, and some of them rushed by the guard up the flight of stairs, burst open the door, and began the work of death, while others fired in through the open windows.
In the meantime Joseph, Hyrum, and Elder Taylor had their coats off. Joseph sprang to his coat for his six-shooter (this pistol Cyrus Wheelock had concealed under his overcoat and delivered to Joseph earlier in the day), Hyrum for his single barrel (given to Joseph by John Fullmer), Taylor for Markham's large hickory cane, and Dr. Richards for Taylor's cane. All sprang against the door, the balls whistled up the stairway, and in an instant one came through the door.
Joseph Smith, John Taylor and Dr. Richards sprang to the left of the door, and tried to knock aside the guns of the ruffians.
Hyrum was retreating back in front of the door and snapped his pistol, when a ball struck him in the left side of his nose, and he fell on his back on the floor saying, "I am a dead man!" As he fell on the floor another ball from the outside entered his left side, and passed through his body with such force that it completely broke to pieces the watch he wore in his vest pocket, and at the same instant another ball from the door grazed his breast, and entered his head by the throat; subsequently a fourth ball entered his left leg.
A shower of balls was pouring through all parts of the room, many of which lodged in the ceiling just above the head of Hyrum.
Joseph reached round the door casing, and discharged his six shooter into the passage, some barrels missing fire. Continual discharges of musketry came into the room. Elder Taylor continued parrying the guns until they had got them about half their length into the room, when he found that resistance was vain, and he attempted to jump out of the window, where a ball fired from within struck him on his left thigh, hitting the bone, and passing through to within half an inch of the other side. He fell on the window sill, when a ball fired from the outside struck his watch in his vest pocket, and threw him back into the room.
After he fell into the room he was hit by two more balls, one of them injuring his left wrist considerably, and the other entering at the side of the bone just below the left knee. He rolled under the bed, which was at the right of the window in the south-east corner of the room.
While he lay under the bed he was fired at several times from the stairway; one ball struck him on the left hip, which tore the flesh in a shocking manner, and large quantities of blood were scattered upon the wall and floor.
When Hyrum fell, Joseph exclaimed, "Oh dear, brother Hyrum!" and opening the door a few inches he discharged his six shooter in the stairway (as stated before), two or three barrels of which missed fire.
Joseph, seeing there was no safety in the room, and no doubt thinking that it would save the lives of his brethren in the room if he could get out, turned calmly from the door, dropped his pistol on the floor and sprang into the window when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without, and he fell outward into the hands of his murderers, exclaiming. "O Lord, my God! "
Dr. Richards' escape was miraculous; he being a very large man, and in the midst of a shower of balls, yet he stood unscathed, with the exception of a ball which grazed the tip end of the lower part of his left ear. His escape fulfilled literally a prophecy which Joseph made over a year previously, that the time would come that the balls would fly around him like hail, and he should see his friends fall on the right and on the left, but that there should not be a hole in his garment. (History of the Church, 6:616-619)
DC 135:1 Hyrum martyred
Hyrum is perhaps best remembered as the Patriarch to the Church, being sustained on 24 January 1841. Joseph Smith Sr., Hyrum's father, had laid his hands on Hyrum's head before his death and pronounced, "You shall be as firm as the pillars of heaven unto the end of your days. I now seal upon your head the patriarchal power, and you shall bless the people." The Lord confirmed that blessing, saying in a revelation given to Joseph Smith: "Whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph." (D&C 124:93-94.)
The Prophet wrote of his brother:
Brother Hyrum, what a faithful heart you have got! Oh may the Eternal Jehovah crown eternal blessings upon your head, as a reward for the care you have had for my soul!
O how many are the sorrows we have shared together; and again we find ourselves shackled with the unrelenting hand of oppression. Hyrum, thy name shall be written in the book of the law of the Lord, for these who come after thee to look upon, that they may pattern after thy works.
(Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 282)
Immediately when the ball struck [Hyrum], he fell flat on his back, crying as he fell, "I am a dead man!" He never moved afterwards.
I shall never forget the deep feeling of sympathy and regard manifested in the countenance of Brother Joseph as he drew nigh to Hyrum, and, leaning over him, exclaimed, "Oh! my poor, dear brother Hyrum!"
...Soon [after the martyrdom] I was taken to the head of the stairs and laid there, where I had a full view of our beloved and now murdered brother, Hyrum. There he lay as I had left him; he had not moved a limb; he lay placid and calm, a monument of greatness even in death; but his noble spirit had left its tenement, and was gone to dwell in regions more congenial to its exalted nature. Poor Hyrum! He was a great and good man, and my soul was cemented to his. If ever there was an exemplary, honest, and virtuous man, an embodiment of all that is noble in the human form, Hyrum Smith was its representative. (Witness to the Martyrdom: John Taylor's Personal Account of the Last Days of the Prophet Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 93 - 96)
DC 135:1 O Lord my God!
The Masonic distress call is "O Lord, my God, is there no hope for the widow's son?" Under the Masonic order, any Mason who heard this phrase was to come to the aid of the person who said it. Was Joseph Smith trying to invoke this call for help? Critics of the church and some scholars believe he was, but no account of the martyrdom has the Prophet finishing off the call. He never says, "is there no hope for the widow's son?"
Let's look at some alternative explanations. The phrase "O Lord, my God," appears 19 times in the Old Testament as a prayer, a supplication, a call for help-not from mortals, but from God (1 Kgs 3:7; 8:28; 17:20, Ps. 7:1,3, et al). If King David used this phrase in his psalms, would that make him a Mason? We should also consider Willard Richards' use of the same term. After the martyrdom, while still in fear for his own life, he exclaimed, "Oh Lord, my God, spare Thy servants!" Are we to think that such a phrase from Elder Richards was in fact a Masonic message? Doesn't it make more sense to think that the Prophet and Elder Richards were calling upon the Lord in their time of need?
Anyone who knows the character and history of Joseph Smith, knows that few humans had a better understanding of mob psychology than he. To think that he had some hope for help from members of the black-faced mob is spurious. Mob members are cowards. They act out in a group what they can't muster the strength to do alone. So it wouldn't have mattered if there was a Mason in the crowd anyway. The Prophet's character was just the opposite of mob psychology; he acted alone and against great odds time and time again because he had learned to rely on the strength of the Lord. When he called out "O Lord, my God," he was calling out for the only consistent source of strength he knew.
A final thought-perhaps what the Prophet was doing was describing what he was seeing at the time. If so, he would not be the only prophet to have died in the midst of a heavenly vision. While we may not have historical evidence to support this claim, we certainly have scriptural precedent (Acts 7:55-60; Mosiah 17:20).
DC 135:2 John Taylor... was wounded in a savage manner with four balls
Mr. Taylor rushed into the window, which is some fifteen or twenty feet from the ground. When his body was nearly on a balance, a ball from the door within entered his leg, and a ball from without struck his watch, a patent lever, in his vest pocket near the left breast, and smashed it into "pie," leaving the hands standing at 5 o'clock, 16 minutes, and 26 seconds, the force of which ball threw him back on the floor, and he rolled under the bed which stood by his side, where he lay motionless, the mob from the door continuing to fire upon him, cutting away a piece of flesh from his left hip as large as a man's hand, and were hindered only by my knocking down their muzzles with a stick; while they continued to reach their guns into the room, probably left handed, and aimed their discharge so far round as almost to reach us in the corner of the room to where we retreated and dodged, and then I recommenced the attack with my stick.
...(After the shooting ended and Elder Richards looked upon the Prophet from the window) I withdrew from the window, thinking it of no use to leap out on a hundred bayonets, then around General Joseph Smith's body.
Not satisfied with this I again reached my head out of the window, and watched some seconds to see if there were any signs of life, regardless of my own, determined to see the end of him I loved. Being fully satisfied that he was dead, with a hundred men near the body and more coming round the corner of the jail, and expecting a return to our room, I rushed towards the prison door, at the head of the stairs, and through the entry from whence the firing 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 until 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 on the 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. (History of the Church, 6:620)
After parrying the guns for some time, which now protruded thicker and farther into the room, and seeing no hope of escape or protection there, as we were now unarmed, it occurred to me that we might have some friends outside, and that there might be some chance of escape in that direction, but here there seemed to be none. As I expected them every moment to rush into the room-nothing but extreme cowardice having kept them out-as the tumult and pressure increased, without any other hope, I made a spring for the window which was right in front of the jail door, where the mob was standing, and also exposed to the fire of the Carthage Greys, who were stationed some ten or twelve rods off. The weather was hot, we all of us had our coats off, and the window was raised to admit air. As I reached the window, and was on the point of leaping out, I was struck by a ball from the door about midway of my thigh, which struck the bone, and flattened out almost to the size of a quarter of a dollar, and then passed on through the fleshy part to within about half an inch of the outside. I think some prominent nerve must have been severed or injured for, as soon as the ball struck me, I fell like a bird when shot, or an ox when struck by a butcher, and lost entirely and instantaneously all power of action or locomotion. I fell upon the windowsill and cried out, "I am shot!" Not possessing any power to move, I felt myself falling outside of the window, but immediately I fell inside, from some, at that time, unknown cause. When I struck the floor my animation seemed restored, as I have seen it sometimes in squirrels and birds after being shot. As soon as I felt the power of motion I crawled under the bed, which was in a corner of the room, not far from the window where I received my wound. While on the way and under the bed I was wounded in three other places; one ball entered a little below the left knee, and never was extracted; another entered the forepart of my left arm, a little above the wrist, and, passing down by the joint, lodged in the fleshy part of my hand, about midway, a little above the upper joint of my little finger; another struck me on the fleshy part of my left hip, and tore away the flesh as large as my hand, dashing the mangled fragments of flesh and blood against the wall.
My wounds were painful, and the sensation produced was as though a ball had passed through and down the whole length of my leg. I very well remember my reflections at the time. I had a very painful idea of becoming lame and decrepid, and being an object of pity, and I felt as though I would rather die than be placed in such circumstances.
It would seem that immediately after my attempt to leap out of the window, Joseph also did the same thing, of which circumstance I have no knowledge, only from information. The first thing that I noticed was a cry that he had leaped out of the window. A cessation of firing followed, the mob rushed downstairs, and Dr. Richards went to the window. Immediately afterward I saw the doctor going towards the jail door, and as there was an iron door at the head of the stairs, adjoining our door which led into the cells for criminals, it struck me that the doctor was going there, and I said to him, "Stop, Doctor, and take me along." He proceeded to the door and opened it, and then returned and dragged me along to a small cell prepared for criminals.
Brother Richards was very much troubled, and exclaimed, "Oh! Brother Taylor, is it possible that they have killed both Brother Hyrum and Joseph? it cannot surely be, and yet I saw them shoot them;" and elevating his hands two or three times, he exclaimed, "Oh Lord, my God, spare Thy servants!" He then said, "Brother Taylor, this is a terrible event;" and he dragged me farther into the cell, saying, "I am sorry I can not do better for you;" and, taking an old, filthy mattress, he covered me with it, and said, "That may hide you, and you may yet live to tell the tale, but I expect they will kill me in a few moments." While lying in this position I suffered the most excruciating pain.
Soon afterwards Dr. Richards came to me, informed me that the mob had precipitately fled, and at the same time confirmed my worst fears that Joseph was assuredly dead. I felt a dull, lonely, sickening sensation at the news. When I reflected that our noble chieftain, the Prophet of the living God, had fallen, and that I had seen his brother in the cold embrace of death, it seemed as though there was a void or vacuum in the great field of human existence to me, and a dark gloomy chasm in the kingdom, and that we were left alone. Oh, how lonely was the feeling! How cold, barren and desolate! In the midst of difficulties he was always the first in motion; in critical positions his counsel was always sought. As our Prophet he approached our God, and obtained for us his will; but now our Prophet, our counselor, our general, our leader, was gone, and amid the fiery ordeal that we then had to pass through, we were left alone without his aid, and as our future guide for things spiritual or temporal, and for all things pertaining to this world, or the next, he had spoken for the last time on earth.
These reflections and a thousand others flashed upon my mind. I thought, why must the good perish, and the virtuous be destroyed? Why must God's nobility, the salt of the earth, the most exalted of the human family, and the most perfect types of all excellence, fall victims to the cruel, fiendish hate of incarnate devils?
The poignancy of my grief, I presume, however, was somewhat allayed by the extreme suffering that I endured from my wounds.
Soon afterwards I was taken to the head of the stairs and laid there, where I had a full view of our beloved and now murdered brother, Hyrum. There he lay as I had left him; he had not moved a limb; he lay placid and calm, a monument of greatness even in death; but his noble spirit had left its tenement, and was gone to dwell in regions more congenial to its exalted nature. Poor Hyrum! He was a great and good man, and my soul was cemented to his. If ever there was an exemplary, honest, and virtuous man, an embodiment of all that is noble in the human form, Hyrum Smith was its representative.
While I lay there a number of persons came around, among whom was a physician. The doctor, on seeing a ball lodged in my left hand, took a penknife from his pocket and made an incision in it for the purpose of extracting the ball therefrom, and having obtained a pair of carpenter's compasses, made use of them to draw or pry out the ball, alternately using the penknife and compasses. After sawing for some time with a dull penknife, and prying and pulling with the compasses, he ultimately succeeded in extracting the ball, which weighed about half an ounce. Some time afterwards he remarked to a friend of mine, that I had "nerves like the devil" to stand what I did in its extraction. I really thought I had need of nerves to stand such surgical butchery, and that, whatever my nerves may be, his practice was devilish.
This company wished to remove me to Mr. Hamilton's Hotel, the place where we had stayed previous to our incarceration in jail. I told them, however, that I did not wish to go: I did not consider it safe. They protested that it was, and that I was safe with them; that it was a perfect outrage for men to be used as we had been; that they were my friends; that it was for my good they were counseling me, and that I could be better taken care of there than here.
...Brother Richards was busy during this time attending to the coroner's inquest, and to the removal of the bodies, and making arrangements for their removal from Carthage to Nauvoo.
When he had a little leisure, he again came to me, and at his suggestion I was removed to Hamilton's Tavern. I felt that he was the only friend, the only person, that I could rely upon in that town. It was with difficulty that sufficient persons could be found to carry me to the tavern; for immediately after the murder a great fear fell upon all the people, and men, women, and children fled with great precipitation, leaving nothing nor anybody in the town but two or three women and children and one or two sick persons.
It was with great difficulty that Brother Richards prevailed upon Mr. Hamilton, hotelkeeper, and his family, to stay; they would not until Brother Richards had given a solemn promise that he would see them protected, and hence I was looked upon as a hostage. Under these circumstances, notwithstanding, I believe they were hostile to the "Mormons", and were glad that the murder had taken place, although they did not actually participate in it; and, feeling that I should be a protection to them they stayed. (Witness to the Martyrdom: John Taylor's Personal Account of the Last Days of the Prophet Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 90-97)
DC 135:2 Willard Richards... escaped, without even a hole in his robe
Note to Reader:
The following quotes are all from the same source. It has come to my attention that David Buerger may not be a reliable author. Please don't use any of these quotations in your teachings. The historical accuracy of the material is currently under review. Final revisions are pending.
"Early on, the [newly available temple] garments were seen as protecting those who wore them. This idea was underscored by the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in the jail at Carthage, Illinois. Neither Joseph, Hyrum, nor John Taylor had been wearing his garment. Willard Richards, who had, escaped unscathed in the attack. The topic of the garment's protecting and healing powers became the subject of discussion during the winter months of 1845-46 when ordinances were performed in the Nauvoo temple." (David Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness, [SLC: Signature Books, 2002, 2nd ed.], 146)
Heber C. Kimball
Elder John Taylor confirmed the saying that Joseph and Hyrum and himself were without their robes in the jail at Carthage, while Doctor Richards had his on, but corrected the idea that some had, that they had taken them off through fear. W. W. Phelps said Joseph told him one day about that time, that he had laid aside his garment on account of the hot weather. (David Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness, [SLC: Signature Books, 2002, 2nd ed.], 147-148)
Oliver B. Huntington
The prophet Joseph Smith pulled off his garments just before starting to Carthage to be slain and he advised Hyrum and John Taylor to do the same, which they did; and Brother Taylor told Brother Willard Richards what they had done and advised him to take off his also, but Brother Richards said that he would not take his off, and did not...
Joseph said before taking his garments off, that he was going to be killed... "was going as a lamb to the slaughter" and he did not want his garments to be exposed to the sneers and jeers of his enemies. (David Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness, [SLC: Signature Books, 2002, 2nd ed.], 148)
I recollect a promise Joseph gave to Willard at a certain time, when he clothed him with a priestly garment. Said he, "Willard never go without this garment on your body, for you will stand where the balls will fly around you like hail, and men will fall dead by your side and if you will never part with this garment, there never shall a ball injure you... Willard obeyed the word of the prophet. He said, "I will die before I part with this garment." The balls flew around him, riddled his clothes, and shaved a passage through one of his whiskers. (David Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness, [SLC: Signature Books, 2002, 2nd ed.], 148)
DC 135:3 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it
I want to think of matters that will make my heart light... to reflect that the Lord Almighty has given me my birth on the land where He raised up a Prophet, and revealed the everlasting Gospel through him, and that I had the privilege of hearing it-of knowing and understanding it-of embracing and enjoying it. I feel like shouting hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up and ordained, and to whom He gave keys and power to build up the kingdom of God on earth and sustain it. These keys are committed to this people, and we have power to continue the work that Joseph commenced, until everything is prepared for the coming of the Son of Man. This is the business of the Latter-day Saints (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 3: 51, italics added)
I was acquainted with Joseph Smith for years. I have traveled with him; I have been with him in private and in public; I have associated with him in councils of all kinds; I have listened hundreds of times to his public teachings, and his advice to his friends and associates of a more private nature. I have been at his house and seen his deportment in his family. I have seen him arraigned before the tribunals of his country, and have seen him honorably acquitted, and delivered from the pernicious breath of slander, and the machinations and falsehoods of wicked and corrupt men. I was with him living, and with him when he died, when he was murdered in Carthage jail by a ruthless mob. . . . I have seen him, then, under these various circumstances, and I testify before God, angels, and men, that he was a good, honorable, virtuous man-that his doctrines were good, scriptural, and wholesome-that his precepts were such as became a man of God-that his private and public character was unimpeachable-and that he lived and died as a man of God and a gentleman. This is my testimony...
If there is no other man under the heavens that knows that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God I do, and I bear testimony of it to God, angels and men. (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 82-83, 79)
When Joseph Smith's body was laid in the grave, his spirit, like unto the Son of God, went into the spirit world with the keys of this dispensation to unlock the prison doors. There were fifty thousand millions of spirits that never saw the face of a prophet, or heard a gospel sermon in their lives, until Joseph Smith preached to them the message of salvation. Those people in the spirit world have got to have equal rights in the gospel dispensation with those on the earth. That is the reason why Jesus went to preach to the spirits in prison. Joseph Smith will hold the keys of this dispensation throughout the countless ages of eternity, as Peter, James, and John will hold theirs. He (Joseph Smith) will come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, and will rise up in judgment against this generation. He sealed his testimony with his blood. That testimony is in force upon all the world from the hour of his death. These are eternal truths. (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 36)
I heard the Prophet discourse upon the grandest of subjects. At times he was filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking as with the voice of an archangel and filled with the power of God. His whole person shone, and his face was lightened until it appeared as the whiteness of the driven snow. Finally, I was convinced of the truth sufficiently to want to be baptized, to get a knowledge for myself of the testimony that Joseph Smith had seen God. After my baptism, everything that I had thought about in a religion was changed. Every part of my system became convinced, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that God is my Father, that Jesus Christ is my Elder Brother, and that Joseph Smith is His prophet. (Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 34)
Joseph F. Smith
Where shall we go to find another man who has accomplished a one-thousandth part of the good that Joseph Smith accomplished?. . . No man in the nineteenth century, except Joseph Smith, has discovered to the world a ray of light upon the keys and power of the holy Priesthood, or the ordinances of the gospel, either for the living or the dead. Through Joseph Smith, God has revealed many things which were kept hidden from the foundation of the world in fulfilment of the prophets. . . . And this is strictly in keeping with the objects and character of this great latter-day work, destined to consummate the great purposes and designs of God concerning the dispensation of the fullness of times...
I declare unto you in all candor, and in all earnestness of soul, that I believe with all my heart in the divine mission of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, that I am convinced in every fiber of my being that God raised him up to restore to the earth the gospel of Christ, which is indeed the power of God unto salvation. I testify to you that Joseph Smith was instrumental in the hand of the Lord in restoring God's truth to the world, and also the holy Priesthood, which is his authority delegated unto man. I know this is true, and I testify of it to you. (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 18-19)
Heber J. Grant
Men may conspire, men may work against the Church of God again established upon the earth, but the statement here made that no man, saving Jesus Christ himself, has done more for the salvation of humanity than did Joseph Smith, cannot be controverted. I am at the defiance of the world to have any religious people, I do not care where you go, with no more members than the Latter-day Saints have, to call a conference of the people and have such a splendid audience as there is here today. This very audience is a testimony to every living soul who stops to reflect upon it, that God has in very deed, through the intrumentality of Joseph Smith, established again upon the earth the plan of life and salvation; that Jesus Christ did direct him. All the disbelief of all the world that God and Jesus Christ spoke to him, cannot change the fact, if it is a fact-and God has given to me, to hundreds and thousands, and tens of thousands of his Children, from the country of the Midnight Sun, Scandinavia, clear down to South Africa, all over Europe, from Canada to South America, and all over the Islands of the sea, an absolute witness by the Holy Spirit that Joseph Smith is in very deed a Prophet of the living God. (Conference Report, October 1922, 7 - 8)
George Albert Smith
Joseph Smith performed his mission; and when the time came that he was face to face with death, he said, "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer's morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me-He was murdered in cold blood." (D&C 135:4.) He was not afraid to stand before the pleasing bar of our Father in Heaven and answer for the deeds done in the body. He was not afraid to meet the charge that had been made against him, that he was deceiving the people and dealing unjustly with them. He was not afraid of the result of his life's mission, and of the final triumph of the work which he knew was of divine origin, and for which he gave his life. (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, edited by Robert McIntosh and Susan McIntosh [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 44)
David O. McKay
The appearing of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith is the foundation of this Church. Therein lies the secret of its strength and vitality. This is true, and I bear witness to it. That one revelation answers all the queries of science regarding God and his divine personality. Don't you see what that means? What God is, is answered. His relation to his children is clear. His interest in humanity through authority delegated to man is apparent. The future of the work is assured. These and other glorious truths are clarified by that glorious first vision. (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 93)
Joseph Fielding Smith
I now say-
That Joseph Smith is the one to whom all men must look in this day to learn the truth about Christ and his gospel;
That in due course the name of this prophet shall be known in every corner of the earth and among all people;
That the honest in heart will accept him as a prophet and will worship that Lord whom he revealed;
That the church that he organized by divine command prospers because it follows the revelations that came through him;
And that all who believe the teachings of Joseph Smith and labor in the course set by him shall come to a knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was crucified for the sins of the world. In the same way that I know Jesus is the Christ-and that is by revelation from the Holy Spirit-I know that Joseph Smith is and was and everlastingly shall be a prophet of God.
I revere and honor his holy name. With his brother, my grandfather, Patriarch Hyrum Smith, he sealed his testimony with his blood in Carthage Jail. And I, for one, want to be an instrument in the Lord's hands of letting the ends of the earth know that salvation is again available because the Lord raised up a mighty seer in this day to reestablish his kingdom on earth. ("The First Prophet of the Last Dispensation," Ensign, Aug. 1971, 7)
Harold B. Lee
[John Taylor], speaking of the Prophet Joseph, [said,] "Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived" (D&C 135:3). Now, some may think that to be an exaggerated statement, but [it is not] when we think of what He gave to us through this marvelous young man who, in a short space of two years, brought forth the great volume of scripture which was a second witness to the mission of the Lord, the Book of Mormon, and [when we] think [that] this young man, without the gift of an educated man, but moved by the power of Almighty God, translated that record from an unknown language into the language we have it today, in the which was to be found the fulness of the everlasting gospel. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 372)
Spencer W. Kimball
The God of all these worlds and the Son of God, the Redeemer, our Savior, in person attended this boy. He saw the living God. He saw the living Christ. Few of all [men created] had ever glimpsed such a vision-Peter, James, and John, yes, and Moses, Abraham, and Adam, but few others. Joseph now belonged to an elite group-the tried and trusted, and true. He was in a select society of persons whom Abraham describes as "noble and great ones" that were "good" and that were to become the Lord's rulers. (Abraham 3:22-23.)
"Mormonism will fail if we kill their prophet," they said a century ago as they murdered Joseph Smith in cold blood. Undoubtedly their fiendish grins of satisfaction at such a foul deed changed to perturbed grimaces when they came to realize that they had been but kicking against sharp points, injuring only themselves. Mormonism was not destroyed by the cruel martyrdom, but here was its vitality. The bullet-torn flesh fertilized the soil; the blood they shed moistened the seed; and the spirits they sent heavenward will testify against them throughout eternities. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 430)
Ezra Taft Benson
I bear testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the living God, one of the greatest prophets that has ever lived on the earth. He was the instrument in God's hand in ushering in the present gospel dispensation, the greatest of all, and the last of all in preparation for the second coming of the Master. ("Joseph Smith: Prophet to Our Generation," Ensign, Mar. 1994, 5)
Howard W. Hunter
Time vindicates the words and acts of a prophet. The passing of time has turned faith into knowledge, for these things which Joseph Smith prophesied have largely come to pass. One who accepts the doctrine commonly known or referred to as Mormonism must accept word for word and syllable by syllable, wholly and completely, those writings which have been left to us by the Prophet Joseph Smith-a prophet, seer, and revelator...
I am grateful for my membership in the Church. My testimony of its divinity hinges upon the simple story of the lad under the trees kneeling and receiving heavenly visitors. If it is not true, Mormonism falls. If it is true-and I bear witness that it is-it is one of the greatest events in all history. (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 189)
Gordon B. Hinckley
Great was the Prophet Joseph Smith's vision. It encompassed all the peoples of mankind, wherever they live, and all generations who have walked the earth and passed on. How can anyone, past or present, speak against him except out of ignorance? They have not tasted of his words; they have not pondered about him, nor prayed about him. As one who has done these things, I add my own words of testimony that he was and is a prophet of God, raised up as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty to usher in a new and final gospel dispensation. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 503)
Thomas S. Monson
No description of models for us to follow would be complete without including Joseph Smith, the first prophet of this dispensation. When but 14 years of age, this courageous young man entered a grove of trees, which later would be called sacred, and received an answer to his sincere prayer.
There followed for Joseph unrelenting persecution as he related to others the account of the glorious vision he received in that grove. Yet, although he was ridiculed and scorned, he stood firm. Said he, "I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it."
Step by step, facing opposition at nearly every turn and yet always guided by the hand of the Lord, Joseph organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He proved courageous in all that he did.
Toward the end of his life, as he was led away with his brother Hyrum to Carthage Jail, he bravely faced what he undoubtedly knew lay ahead for him, and he sealed his testimony with his blood.
As we face life's tests, may we ever emulate that undaunted courage epitomized by the Prophet Joseph Smith. (Thomas S. Monson, "Models to Follow," Ensign, Nov 2002, 60)
DC 135:3 He... has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum
Joseph F. Smith
What does the martyrdom teach us? The great lesson that "where a testament is there must also of necessity be the death of the testator" (Heb. 9: 16) to make it of force. Moreover, that the blood of martyrs is indeed the seed of the Church. The Lord permitted the sacrifice, that the testimony of those virtuous and righteous men should stand as a witness against a perverse and unrighteous world... This martyrdom has always been an inspiration to the people of the Lord. It has helped them in their individual trials; has given them courage to pursue a course in righteousness and to know and to live the truth, and must ever be held in sacred memory by the Latter-day Saints who have learned the great truths that God revealed through his servant Joseph Smith. (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 491)
If it be the will of the Lord for the people to live, they will live. If it had been the will of the Lord that Joseph and Hyrum should have lived, they would have lived. It was necessary for Joseph to seal his testimony with his blood. Had he been destined to live he would have lived. The Lord suffered his death to bring justice on the nation. The debt is contracted and they have it to pay. (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 467)
DC 135:4 I am going like a lamb to the slaughter
I understand my mission and business. God Almighty is my shield; and what can man do if God is my friend? I shall not be sacrificed until my time comes; then I shall be offered freely. (History of the Church, 5:259)
I defy all the world to destroy the work of God; and I prophesy they never will have power to kill me till my work is accomplished, and I am ready to die. (History of the Church, 6:58) (Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith's Teachings, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q.Cannon [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], "Martyrdom")
Spencer W. Kimball
Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood. He could have saved his life.... He loved life. He loved his wife and family and friends. He wasn't anxious to go over into eternity. He wanted to live a normal and natural life. He either had to give up his testimony-to recant-or he had to give up his life. He wasn't willing to give up his testimony. He said, "Who am I to deny that I have had heavenly manifestations-that the Lord has appeared before me?"
And so he went calmly, knowing that his life would be taken. He said, "I go as a lamb to the slaughter"; and he went up to Carthage, knowing that the mob was gathering there and knowing they had bullets in their guns. He went calmly and passed on. He said, as he passed on, "Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 143)
I heard Joseph say many a time, "I shall not live until I am forty years of age." The spring before he was killed-his death occurred the 27th of June, 1844-he hurried off the first Elders of the Church. All right, I thought then, and I think so now. It is all in the hands of God. They killed Joseph, and what for? For the Gospel's sake. (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 467)
I am tired, I have been mobbed, I have suffered so much. Some of the brethren think they can carry this work out better than I can, far better. I have asked the Lord to take me out of this world. I have stood all I can. I have to seal my testimony to this generation with my blood. I have to do it, for this work will never progress until I am gone, for the testimony is of no force until the testator is dead. People little know who I am when they talk about me, and they never will know until they see me weighed in the balance in the kingdom of God. Then they will know who I am, see me as I am. I dare not tell them, and they do not know me. (Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, They Knew the Prophet, comp. Hyrum and Helen Mae Andrus, [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974] pp. 26-27)
DC 135:4 he read the following paragraph... in the Book of Mormon, and turned down the leaf upon it
Jeffrey R. Holland
When Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum started for Carthage to face what they knew would be an imminent martyrdom, Hyrum read these words to comfort the heart of his brother:
Thou hast been faithful; wherefore... thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.
And now I, Moroni, bid farewell... until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ. (Ether 12:37-38)
A few short verses from the 12th chapter of Ether in the Book of Mormon. Before closing the book, Hyrum turned down the corner of the page from which he had read, marking it as part of the everlasting testimony for which these two brothers were about to die. I hold in my hand that book, the very copy from which Hyrum read, the same corner of the page turned down, still visible. Later, when actually incarcerated in the jail, Joseph the Prophet turned to the guards who held him captive and bore a powerful testimony of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Shortly thereafter pistol and ball would take the lives of these two testators.
As one of a thousand elements of my own testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, I submit this as yet one more evidence of its truthfulness. In this their greatest-and last-hour of need, I ask you: would these men blaspheme before God by continuing to fix their lives, their honor, and their own search for eternal salvation on a book (and by implication a church and a ministry) they had fictitiously created out of whole cloth?
Never mind that their wives are about to be widows and their children fatherless. Never mind that their little band of followers will yet be "houseless, friendless and homeless" and that their children will leave footprints of blood across frozen rivers and an untamed prairie floor. Never mind that legions will die and other legions live declaring in the four quarters of this earth that they know the Book of Mormon and the Church which espouses it to be true. Disregard all that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as imposters and charlatans until the end of time? They would not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. ("Safety for the Soul," Ensign, Nov. 2009, 88-89)
DC 135:6 the Book of Mormon... cost the best blood of the nineteenth century
The evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God is seen on every hand in the great organization of this Church and its great achievements and accomplishments. It has been said that one of the presidents of the United States said that this was the greatest organization in the world for the development of men and women. And we know that that is true...
The Prophet Joseph Smith has given to the world more revealed truth than any prophet who has ever lived upon the face of the earth, aside from Jesus Christ the Lord, as far as any records we have today evidence anything to the contrary.
Many thinking people, not members of the Church, have recognized in Joseph Smith a conundrum and wondered where his power came from. A writer for the New York Herald who had visited with the Prophet Joseph Smith back in 1842, published this:
"Joseph Smith is undoubtedly one of the greatest characters of the age. He indicates as much talent, originality and moral courage as Mahomet, Odin or any of the great spirits that have hitherto produced the revolutions of past ages. . . . While modern philosophy, which believes in nothing but what you can touch, is overspreading the Atlantic states, Joseph Smith is creating a spiritual system, combined also with morals and industry, that may change the destiny of the race. . . . We certainly want some such prophet to start up, take a big hold of the public mind-and stop the torrent of materialism that is hurrying the world into infidelity, immorality, licentiousness and crime." (Quoted by George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, 1958 ed., p. 345.)
It is a prophet, the voice of a prophet that this world needs today.
Now, you remember the statement contained in the book Figures of the Past by Josiah Quincy, the former mayor of Boston, saying:
"It is by no means improbable that some future textbook, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destiny of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet. And the reply, absurd as it doubtless seems to most men now living, may be an obvious commonplace to their descendants." (1926 ed., p. 317.) (Conference Report, October 1965, Afternoon Meeting 87)
George Albert Smith
My brethren and sisters, all the truth that is advocated in all the teachings of men, necessary for our salvation, is contained within the lids of the books that I have already enumerated [the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price]. We may not possess a library of two or three thousand volumes, but we may possess at small cost a priceless library that has cost the best blood that has ever been in this world. Will our Father hold us guiltless when we go home, if we have failed to teach our children the importance of these sacred records? I think not. He called his sons one by one, and they gave their lives that we might have the Old Testament. He sent his Only Begotten Son into the world, and his life was sacrificed in order that we might have the teachings of the New Testament. The prophets of God recorded in the Book of Mormon laid down their lives and sealed their testimonies with their blood, in order that the children of men might know what the Father desired of them. He sent the Prophet Joseph Smith, and he gave his life, together with his brother Hyrum, in order that we might have the truths contained in the sacred record known as the Doctrine and Covenants. Do you suppose that after the Lord has done all this for us-has given to this world the choicest and sweetest of men and women, whose lives have been dedicated to the blessing of mankind, many of them sealing their testimony with their blood, has placed within our reach the excellent teachings contained in these holy records-that he will consider us appreciative if we fail to teach them to our families? (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, edited by Robert McIntosh and Susan McIntosh [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 50)
DC 135:7 their innocent blood on the floor of Carthage jail
Several decades ago, visitors to Carthage jail were routinely shown the blood stains on the dark wood floor of the upper room. More recently the rhetoric of the Lord's vengeance has softened. Is Carthage jail a holy place? If so, is it sacred because of the blood spilt or the lives that ended that fateful day?
Within a few years of the martyrdom, Gov. Thomas Ford recognized that the events that unfolded in Carthage might transform a common county jail into sacred space ... "that Nauvoo and the Carthage Jail may become holy and venerable names, places of classic interest like Jerusalem."
...And the question of how to remember what happened at Carthage Jail has evolved throughout the ensuing years. "Many Mormons, like Joseph Fielding, initially regarded Carthage Jail as a cursed site ... nonetheless they were drawn to the site because of the religious significance of what had occurred there."
Fifteen months after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, 60 residents of Nauvoo, including Brigham Young, Willard Richards and John Taylor, traveled to Carthage for some legal business and decided to visit the jail. They found "the walls pocked with bullet marks and the stains of spattered blood on the floor of the jail." Richards and Taylor described what happened that afternoon, pointing to where the brethren had stood to protect themselves. Because of their re-enactment, Mormons have a clearer picture of what actually transpired.
...In 1903, the current owner of Carthage Jail decided to sell it to the LDS Church for $4,000. "Their decision guaranteed that the jail would be preserved," explained Cannon, "and Latter-day Saints would control any on-site interpretation of the martyrdom."
More and more Mormons started visiting the jail even though the church still kept it as a private residence. In 1904, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir went through and in 1905 a mission president organized a conference in Nauvoo and Carthage with a visit to the jail included. In 1906, President Joseph F. Smith toured the jail on his way home from his European tour and "wept uncontrollably at the site of the dark stain of his father's blood."
In 1934, mission president George Romney first assigned a missionary couple to the jail. Cannon described this as "the first time that the Latter-day Saints began using the jail as a base for proselytizing." As non-LDS people began to tour the jail in addition to the ever-increasing Mormon tourists, the church provided a pamphlet about the jail with the statement "the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith make this jail a sacred shrine."
Bryant Hinckley, the next mission president following Romney, enlarged the restoration efforts in Carthage and Nauvoo in 1938. Joseph and Eunice McRae were called to lead up the restoration of Carthage Jail: "they explored every nook and cranny. Using paint remover and steel wool, they uncovered the original woodwork in the interior. They excavated the original well, decorated the interior of the jail with period furniture and landscaped the grounds." They continued to take visitors through the jail, emphasizing the blood stain still visible on the floor boards.
In 1963, the LDS Church built the current visitors center next to the jail and Howard W. Hunter dedicated the building. Instead of dwelling on the blood stain of the Prophet, the apostle said the visitor's center and jail "were not reminders of a crime, but instead church leaders intended them to be monuments to the two men who sealed their testimonies with their blood."
By 1978, the focus of Carthage Jail missionaries shifted even more toward missionary work...Soon after this, the president of the Nauvoo Restoration project, J. LeRoy Kimball, directed the missionaries serving at Carthage to remove the protective covering over the purported bloodstain on the floor. He also told the missionaries to no longer point it out to visitors. What happens next, Cannon explained, was that the story became garbled as subsequent missionaries explained that President Kimball had provided this direction. But it was J. LeRoy Kimball, president of the Nauvoo Restoration project, and not LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball.
...In 1989, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the improvement to the visitors center and jail, and said that the message of the jail's restoration was "one of healing and reconciliation."
Finally, Cannon explains, the transformation of Carthage from a negative reminder of the martyrdom to a celebration of Joseph and Hyrum's life continued into the 2000s. In 2004, the Illinois House of Representatives "approved a resolution expressing regret for the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage ... the stain of the Prophet's blood on the floor of Carthage had nearly worn away." (Emily Jensen, "Carthage Jail in Mormon Memory", Mormon Times from http://www.mormontimes.com/studies_doctrine/church_history/?id=7914)
DC 135:7 the broken faith of the state as pledged by the governor
"Thomas Ford later tried to excuse himself for leaving the Carthage Greys, one of the militia units in town, to protect the prisoners while he left for Nauvoo. The Greys had been the most hostile of the armed men gathered in Carthage. Ford admitted that he 'knew that this company were the enemies of the Smiths, yet I had confidence in their loyalty and integrity; because their captain was universally spoken of as a most respectable citizen and honorable man.' Ford said he turned down 'frequent appeals' to 'make a clean and thorough work of the matter, by exterminating the Mormons, or expelling them from the State.' When the Greys assured him they would not act without his permission, he believed them. As he told the story later, he did not think they would endanger the governor's life by killing the Prophet while he was in Nauvoo exposed to Mormon wrath...
"When Thomas Ford got to Carthage about 10 p.m. on June 27, many citizens were fleeing and more preparing to go. Ford himself soon hurried away, traveling through the night to arrive at Quincy on June 29. The people of Warsaw had already evacuated women and children across the river. All expected an assault from vengeful Mormons. The anti-mormons hoped the Mormons would attack, believing it would secure their downfall. The Warsaw Signal reported that the legion would kill Ford in Nauvoo. 'To have the governor of the State assassinated by the Mormons,' Ford explained in his history of Illinoise, 'the public excitement would be greatly increased against that people, and would result in their expulsion from the State at least.' When nothing happened, the Signal tried to justify the murders: 'Is it not better that the blood of two guilty wretches, whose crimes had so long awaited the vengeance of Heaven, has been shed and thus by cutting of the fountain head to dru up the stream of corruption?' Unfazed by the enormity of the assassination, the anti-Mormons openly asked Governor Ford for support in evicting the remaining Mormons. Weeks after the killing, the governor's agents found 'the temper of the people still greatly aroused against the Mormons.' Ford was almost speechless with anger. In an open letter, he wrote: 'I could not believe that so much stupidity and baseness, as was necessary for such an enterprise as the murder of defenceless prisoners in jail would be, could be mustered in Hancock county.'" (Richard Lyman Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, [New York: Random House, 2005], 548-551)
DC 135:7 the innocent blood of all the martyrs under the altar that John saw
Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:
That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;
From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. (Luke 11:49-51)
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants (i.e. Joseph and Hyrum Smith) also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Rev. 6:9-11)
Charles W. Penrose
Joseph Smith, a Prophet of God, was rejected of men like unto the ancient Prophets. He came to a wicked and perverse generation. He came to a people who had turned away from God and followed after the ways of men. He came to a people who worshiped God with their lips, while their hearts were far from him. He came to a people who loved darkness rather than light, and therefore they did the deeds of others who were in the same position in previous ages-they slew the Prophet of God. His blood stains the soil of Illinois, and of the United States, his blood smokes up to God with the blood of Abel, and with the blood of all the martyrs, and will be laid at the door of a wicked and corrupt generation; for although all did not imbrue their hands in his blood, yet they consented to the deed and were ready to say, "served him right, we are glad he is out of the way." The same spirit is manifested toward our leaders to-day. The world would like to see them slaughtered too. What harm did Joseph Smith ever do the world. He bore testimony of these things to those who professed to believe in this book (the Bible) and who hug it to their bosoms and sing:
And they rejected the very truths contained in that book, that this man, a Prophet of the Lord, proclaimed by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 22: 95)
Funeral and Interment
About 8 A.M. [June 28, 1844] Dr. Richards started for Nauvoo with the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum on two wagons, accompanied by their brother Samuel M. Smith, Mr. Hamilton, and a guard of eight soldiers... When the procession arrived, the bodies were both taken into the Nauvoo Mansion. The scene there cannot be described.
About eight or ten thousand persons were addressed by Dr. Willard Richards, William W. Phelps, Esquires Woods and Reid of Iowa, and Col. Stephen Markham. Dr. Richards admonished the people to keep the peace, stating that he had pledged his honor, and his life for their good conduct, when the people with one united voice resolved to trust to the law for a remedy of such a high-handed assassination, and when that failed, to call upon God to avenge them of their wrongs.
O, Americans, weep, for the glory of freedom has departed!
When the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum arrived at the Mansion, the doors were closed immediately. The people were told to go quietly home, and the bodies would be viewed the next morning at eight o'clock.
Dimick B. Huntington, with the assistance of William Marks and William D. Huntington, washed the bodies from head to foot. Joseph was shot in the right breast, also under the heart, in the lower part of his bowels and the right side, and on the back part of the right hip. One ball had come out at the right shoulder-blade. Cotton soaked in camphor was put into each wound, and the bodies laid out with fine plain drawers and shirt, white neckerchiefs, white cotton stockings and white shrouds. (Gilbert Goldsmith was doorkeeper at the time).
After this was done, Emma (who at the time was pregnant) also Mary (Hyrum's wife) with the children of the martyred Prophet and Patriarch, were admitted to see the bodies. On first seeing the corpse of her husband, Emma screamed and fell back, but was caught and supported by Dimick B. Huntington. She then fell forward to the Prophet's face and kissed him, calling him by name, and begged him to speak to her once. Mary, (the Patriarch's wife) manifested calmness and composure throughout the trying scene, which was affecting in the extreme. Relatives and particular friends were also permitted to view the remains during the evening.
Saturday 29.-At 7 A.M. the bodies were put into the coffins which were covered with black velvet fastened with brass nails. Over the face of each corpse a lid was hung with brass hinges, under which was a square of glass to protect the face, and the coffin was lined with white cambric. The coffins were then each put into a rough pine box.
At 8 A.M. the room was thrown open for the Saints to view the bodies of their martyred Prophet and Patriarch, and it is estimated that over ten thousand persons visited the remains that day, as there was a perfect living stream of people entering in at the west door of the Mansion and out at the north door from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., at which hour a request was made that the Mansion should be cleared, so that the family could take their farewell look at the remains.
The coffins were then taken out of the boxes into the little bedroom in the northeast corner of the Mansion, and there concealed and the doors locked. Bags of sand were then placed in each end of the boxes, which were nailed up, and a mock funeral took place, the boxes being put into a hearse and driven to the graveyard by William D. Huntington, and there deposited in a grave with the usual ceremonies. This was done to prevent enemies of the martyred Prophet and Patriarch getting possession of the bodies, as they threatened they would do. As the hearse passed the meeting ground accompanied by a few men, William W. Phelps was preaching the funeral sermon.
About midnight the coffins containing the bodies were taken from the Mansion by Dimick B. Huntington, Edward Hunter, William D. Huntington, William Marks, Jonathan H. Holmes, Gilbert Goldsmith, Alpheus Cutler, Lorenzo D. Wasson, and Philip B. Lewis, preceded by James Emmett as guard with his musket.
They went through the garden, round by the pump, and were conveyed to the Nauvoo house, which was then built to the first joists of the basement, and buried in the basement story.
After the bodies were interred, and the ground smoothed off as it was before, and chips of wood and stone and other rubbish thrown over, so as to make it appear like the rest of the ground around the graves, a most terrific shower of rain, accompanied with thunder and lightning, occurred, and obliterated all traces of the fact that the earth had been newly dug.
The bodies remained in the cellar of the Nauvoo House where they were buried, until the fall, when they were removed by Dimick B. Huntington, William D. Huntington, Jonathan H. Holmes, and Gilbert Goldsmith, at Emma's request, to near the Mansion, and buried side by side, and the bee house then moved and placed over their graves. (History of the Church, 6:626-629)