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    Mormonism.ca - Story Of

In Illinois

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Even More On The History Of Mormonism
Even More On The Religious Puzzle
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
History Of Mormonism
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Introductory Remarks
Last Days At Kirtland
More On Mormonism Social Puzzle
More On The History Of Mormonism
More On The Religious Puzzle
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Mormonism The Political Puzzle
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Notes On The History Of Mormonism
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Sidney Rigdon
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Political Puzzle
The Political Puzzle Continued
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Religious Puzzle
The Religious Puzzle Notes
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Smith Family
The Social And Society Puzzle
The Social Puzzle
The Social Puzzle Notes
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts


The Story Of The Mormons

A State Of Civil War
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Last Days At Kirtland
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Sidney Rigdon
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Reformation
The Smith Family
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts



After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days








The murder of the Smiths caused a panic, not among the Mormons,
but among the other inhabitants of Hancock County, who looked for
summary vengeance at the hands of the prophet's followers, with
their famous Legion to support them. The state militia having
been disbanded, the people considered themselves without
protection, and Governor Ford shared their apprehension. Carthage
was at once almost depopulated, the people fleeing in wagons, on
horseback, and on foot, and most of the citizens of Warsaw placed
the river between them and their enemies. "I was sensible," says
Governor Ford, "that my command was at an end; that my
destruction was meditated as well as the Mormons', and that I
could not reasonably confide longer in one party or the other."
The panic-stricken executive therefore set out at once for
Quincy, forty miles from the scene of the murder.

From that city the governor issued a statement to the people of
the state, reciting the events leading up to the recent tragedy,
and, under date of June 29, ordered the enlistment of as many men
as possible in the militia of Adams, Marquette, Pike, Brown,
Schuyler, Morgan, Scott, Cass, Fulton, and McDonough counties,
and the regiments of General Stapp's brigade, for a twelve days'
campaign. The independent companies of all sorts, in the same
counties, were also told to hold themselves in readiness, and the
federal government was asked to station a force of five hundred
men from the regular army in Hancock County. This last request
was not complied with. The governor then sent Colonel Fellows and
Captain Jonas to Nauvoo by the first boat, to find out the
intentions of the Mormons as well as those of the people of
Warsaw.

Meanwhile the voice of the Mormon leaders was for peace. Willard
Richards, John Taylor, and Samuel H. Smith united in a letter
(written in the first person singular by Richards), on the night
of the murders, addressed to the prophet's widow, General Deming
(commanding at Carthage), and others, which said:--

"The people of the county are greatly excited, and fear the
Mormons will come out and take vengeance. I have pledged my word
the Mormons will stay at home as soon as they can be informed,
and no violence will be on their part. And say to my brethren in
Nauvoo, in the name of the Lord, be still, be patient; only let
such friends as choose come here to see the bodies. Mr. Taylor's
wounds are dressed and not serious. I am sound."

This quieting advice was heeded without even a protest, and after
the funeral of the victims the Mormons voted unanimously to
depend on the law for retribution.

While things temporal in Nauvoo remained quiet, there were deep
feeling and great uncertainty concerning the future of the
church. The First Presidency had consisted, since the action of
the conference at Far West in 1837, of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and
Sidney Rigdon. Two of these were now dead. Did this leave Rigdon
as the natural head, did Smith's son inherit the successorship,
or did the supreme power rest with the Twelve Apostles?
Discussion of this matter brought out many plans, including a
general reorganization of the church, and the appointment of a
trustee or a president. Rigdon had been sent to Pittsburg to
build up a church,* and Brigham Young was electioneering in New
Hampshire for Smith. Accordingly, Phelps, Richards; and Taylor,
on July 1 issued a brief statement to the church at large, asking
all to await the assembling of the Twelve.

"John Taylor so stated at Rigdon's coming trial. This, perhaps,
contradicts the statement in the Cannons' "Life of Brigham Young"
that Rigdon had gone there "to escape the turmoils of Nauvoo."

Rigdon arrived in Nauvoo on August 3, and preached the next day
in the grove. He said the Lord had shown him a vision, and that
there must be a "guardian" appointed to "build the church up to
Joseph" as he had begun it. Cannon's account, in the "Juvenile
Instructor," says that at a meeting at John Taylor's the next day
Rigdon declared that the church was in confusion and must have a
head, and he wanted a special meeting called to choose a
"guardian." On the evening of August 6, Young, H. C. Kimball,
Lyman Wight, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, and Wilford Woodruff
arrived from the East. A meeting of the Twelve Apostles, the High
Council, and high priests was called for August 7, at 4 P.m.,
which Rigdon attended. He declared that in a vision at Pittsburg
it had been shown to him that he had been ordained a spokesman to
Joseph, and that he must see that the church was governed in a
proper manner. "I propose," said he, "to be a guardian of the
people. In this I have discharged my duty and done what God has
commanded me, and the people can please themselves, whether they
accept me or not."

A special meeting of the church was held on the morning of August
8. Rigdon had previously addressed a gathering in the grove, but
he had not been winning adherents. As we have seen, he had
alienated himself from the men who had accepted Smith's new
social doctrines, and a plan which he proposed, that the church
should move to Pennsylvania, appealed neither to the good
judgment nor the pecuniary interests of those to whom it was
presented. Young made an address at this meeting which so wrought
up his hearers that they declared that they saw the mantle of
Joseph fall upon him. When he asked, "Do you want a guardian, a
prophet, a spokesman, or what do you want?" not a hand went up.
Young then went on to give his own view of the situation; his
argument pointed to a single result--the demolition of Rigdon's
claim and the establishment of the supreme authority of the
Twelve, of whom Young himself was the head. W. W. Phelps, P. P.
Pratt, and others sustained Young's view. Before a vote was
taken, according to the minutes quoted, Rigdon refused to have
his name voted on as "spokesman" or guardian. The meeting then
voted unanimously in favor of "supporting the Twelve in their
calling," and also that the Twelve should appoint two Bishops to
act as trustees for the church, and that the completion of the
Temple should be pushed.*

* For minutes of this church meeting, see Times and Seasons, Vol.
V, p. 637. For a full account of the happenings at Nauvoo, from
August 3 to 8, see "Historical Record" (Mormon), Vol VIII,
pp.785-800.


On August 15 Young, as president of the Twelve, issued an epistle
to the church in all the world in which he said:--

"Let no man presume for a moment that his [the Prophet's] place
will be filled by another; for, remember he stands in his own
place , and always will, and the Twelve Apostles of this
dispensation stand in their own place, and always will, both in
time and eternity, to minister, preside, and regulate the affairs
of the whole church." The epistle told the Saints also that "it
is not wisdom for the Saints to have anything to do with
politics, voting, or president-making at present."

Rigdon remained in Nauvoo after the decision of the church in
favor of the Twelve, preaching as of old, declaring that he was
with the brethren heart and soul, and urging the completion of
the Temple. But Young regarded him as a rival, and determined to
put their strength to a test. Accordingly, on Tuesday, September
3, he had a notice printed in the Neighbor directing Rigdon to
appear on the following Sunday for trial before a High Council
presided over by Bishop Whitney. Rigdon did not attend this
trial, not only because he was not well, but because, after a
conference with his friends, he decided that the case against him
was made up and that his presence would do no good.*

* For the minutes of this High Council, see Times and Seasons,
Vol. V, pp. 647-655, 660-667.


When the High Council met, Young expressed a disbelief in
Rigdon's reported illness. He said that, having heard that Rigdon
had ordained men to be prophets, priests, and kings, he and Orson
Hyde had obtained from Rigdon a confession that he had performed
the act of ordination, and that he believed he held authority
above any man in the church. That evening eight of the Twelve had
visited him at his house, and, getting confirmation of his
position, had sent a committee to him to demand his license. This
he had refused to surrender, saying, "I did not receive it from
you, neither shall I give it up to you." Then came the order for
his trial.

Orson Hyde presented the case against Rigdon in detail. He
declared that, when they demanded the surrender of his license,
Rigdon threatened to turn traitor, "His own language was,
'Inasmuch as you have demanded my license, I shall feel it my
duty to publish all your secret meetings, and all the history of
the secret works of this church, in the public journals.'* He
intimated that it would bring a mob upon us." Parley P. Pratt,
the member of Rigdon's old church in Ohio, who, according to his
own account, first called Rigdon's attention to the Mormon Bible,
next spoke against his old friend.

* Lee thus explains one of these "secret works": "The same winter
[1843] he [Smith] organized what was called 'The Council of
Fifty.' This was a confidential organization. This Council was
designated as a lawmaking department, but no record was ever kept
of its doings, or, if kept, they were burned at the close of each
meeting. Whenever anything of importance was on foot, this
Council was called to deliberate upon it. The Council was called
the 'Living Constitution.' Joseph said that no legislature could
enact laws that would meet every case, or attain the ends of
justice in all respells." --"Mormonism Unveiled," p.173.


After Amasa Lyman, John Taylor, and H. C. Kimball had spoken
against Rigdon, Brigham Young took the floor again, and in reply
to the threat that Rigdon would expose the secrets of the church,
he denounced him in the following terms:--

"Brother Sidney says, if we go to opposing him, he will tell our
secrets. But I would say, 'O, don't, brother Sidney! don't tell
our secrets--O, don't!' But if he tells our secrets, we will tell
his. Tit for tat. He has had long visions in Pittsburg, revealing
to him wonderful iniquity among the Saints. Now, if he knows of
so much iniquity, and has got such wonderful power, why don't he
purge it out? He professes to have the keys of David. Wonderful
power and revelations! And he will publish our iniquity. O, dear
brother Sidney, don't publish our iniquity! Now don't! If Sidney
Rigdon undertakes to publish all our secrets, as he says, he will
lie the first jump he takes. If he knew of all our iniquity why
did he not publish it sooner? If there is so much iniquity in the
church as you talk of, Elder Rigdon, and you have known of it so
long, you are a black-hearted wretch because you have not
published it sooner. If there is not this iniquity, you are a
blackhearted wretch for endeavoring to bring a mob upon us, to
murder innocent men, women and children. Any man that says the
Twelve are bogus-makers, or adulterers, or wicked men is a liar;
and all who say such things shall have the fate of liars, where
there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Who is there who has seen
us do such things? No man. The spirit that I am of tramples such
slanderous wickedness under my feet." *

* William Small, in a letter to the Pittsburg Messenger and
Advocate, p. 70, relates that when be met Rigdon on his arrival
at St. Louis by boat after this trial, Orson Hyde, who was also a
passenger and thought Small was with the Twelve, addressed Small,
asking him to intercede with Rigdon not to publish the secret
acts of the church, and telling him that if Rigdon would come
back and stand equal with the Twelve and counsel with them, he
would pledge himself, in behalf of the Twelve, that all they had
said against Rigdon would be revoked.


At this point the proceedings had a rather startling
interruption. William Marks, president of the Stake at Nauvoo,
and a member of the High Council (who, as we have seen, had
rebelled against the doctrine of polygamy when it was presented
to him) took the floor in Rigdon's defence. But it was in vain.

W. W. Phelps moved that Rigdon "be cut off from the church, and
delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until he repents." The
vote by the Council in favor of this motion was unanimous, but
when it was offered to the church, some ten members voted against
it. Phelps at once moved that all who had voted to follow Rigdon
should be suspended until they could be tried by the High
Council, and this was agreed to unanimously, with an amendment
including the words, "or shall hereafter be found advocating his
principles." After compelling President Marks, by formal motion,
to acknowledge his satisfaction with the action of the church,
the meeting adjourned.

Rigdon's next steps certainly gave substance to his brother's
theory that his mind was unbalanced, the family having noticed
his peculiarities from the time he was thrown from a horse, when
a boy.* He soon returned to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where his
first step was to "resuscitate" the Messenger and Advocate, which
had died at Kirtland. In a signed article in the first number he
showed that he then intended "to contend for the same doctrines,
order of government, and discipline maintained by that paper when
first published at Kirtland," in other words, to uphold the
Mormon church as he had known it, with himself at its head. But
his old desire for original leadership got the better of him, and
after a conference of the membership he had gathered around him,
held in Pittsburg in April, 1845, at which he was voted "First
President, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator," he issued
an address to the public in which he declared that his Church of
Christ was neither a branch nor connection of the church at
Nauvoo, and that it received members of the Church of Latter-Day
Saints only after baptism and repentance.** In an article in his
organ, on July 15, 1845, he made assertions like these: "The
Church of Christ and the Mormons are so widely different in their
respective beliefs that they are of necessity opposed to one
another, as far as religion is concerned . . . . There is
scarcely one point of similarity . . . . The Church of Christ has
obtained a distinctive character."

* Baptist Witness, March I, 1875.

**Pittsburg Messenger and Advocate, p, 220.


Rigdon told the April conference that he had one unceasing
desire, namely, to know whether God would accept their work. At
the suggestion of the spirit, he had taken some of the brethren
into a room in his house that morning, and had consecrated them.
What there occurred he thus described:--

"After the washing and anointing, and the patriarchal seal, as
the Lord had directed me, we kneeled and in solemn prayer asked
God to accept the work we had done. During the time of prayer
there appeared over our heads in the room a ray of light forming
a hollow square, inside of which stood a company of heavenly
messengers, each with a banner in his hand, with their eyes
looking downward upon us, their countenance expressive of the
deep interest they felt in what was passing on the earth. There
also appeared heavenly messengers on horseback, with crowns upon
their heads, and plumes floating in the air, dressed in glorious
attire, until, like Elisha, we cried in our hearts, 'The chariots
of Israel and the horsemen thereof.' Even my little son of
fourteen years of age saw the vision, and gazed with great
astonishment, saying that he thought his imagination was running
away with him. After which we arose and lifted our hands to
heaven in holy convocation to God; at which time was shown an
angel in heaven registering the acceptance of our work, and the
decree of the Great God that the kingdom is ours and we shall
prevail."

While the conference was in session, Pittsburg was visited by a
disastrous conflagration. Rigdon prayed for the sufferers by the
fire and asked God to check it. "During the prayer" (this
quotation is from the official report of the conference in the
Messenger and Advocate, p. i86), "an escort of the heavenly
messengers that had hovered around us during the time of this
conference were seen leaving the room; the course of the wind was
instantly changed, and the violence of the flames was stayed."

Rigdon's attempt to build up a new church in the East was a
failure. Urgent appeals in its behalf in his periodical were made
in vain. The people addressed could not be cajoled with his
stories of revelations and miraculous visions, which both the
secular and religious press held up to ridicule, and he had no
system of foreign immigration to supply ignorant recruits. He
soon after took up his residence in Friendship, Allegheny County,
New York, where he died at the residence of his son-in-law, Earl
Wingate, on July 14, 1876. In an obituary sketch of him the
Standard of that place said:--

"He was approached by the messengers of young Joseph Smith of
Plano, Ill., but he refused to converse or answer any
communication which in any way would bring him into notice in
connection with the Mormon church of to-day. It was his daily
custom to visit the post-office, get the daily paper, read and
converse upon the chief topics of the day. He often engaged in a
friendly dispute with the local ministers, and always came out
first best on New Testament doctrinal matters. Patriarchal in
appearance, and kindly in address, he was often approached by
citizens and strangers with a view to obtaining something of the
unrecorded mysteries of his life; but citizen, stranger and
persistent reporter all alike failed in eliciting any information
as to his knowledge of the Mormon imposture, the motives of his
early life, or the religious faith, fears and hopes of his
declining years. Once or twice he spoke excitedly, in terms of
scorn, of those who attributed to him the manufacture of the
Mormon Bible; but beyond this, nothing. His library was small: he
left no manuscripts, and refused persistently to have a picture
of himself taken. It can only be said that he was a compound of
ability, versatility, honesty, duplicity, and mystery."

One person succeeded in drawing out from Rigdon in his later
years a few words on his relations with the Mormon church. This
was Charles L. Woodward, a New York bookseller, who some years
ago made an important collection of Mormon literature. While
making this collection he sent an inquiry to Rigdon, and received
a reply, dated May 25, 1873. After apologizing for his
handwriting on account of his age and paralysis, the letter
says:--

"We know nothing about the people called Mormons now.* The Lord
notified us that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
were going to be destroyed, and for us to leave. We did so, and
the Smiths were killed a few days after we started. Since that, I
have had no connection with any of the people who staid and built
up to themselves churches; and chose to themselves leaders such
as they chose, and then framed their own religion.

* The statement has been published that, after Young had
established himself in Utah, be received from Rigdon an
intimation that the latter would be willing to join him. I could
obtain no confirmation of this in Salt Lake City. On the
contrary, a leading member of the church informed me that Young
invited Rigdon to join the Mormons is Utah, but that Rigdon did
not accept the invitation.


"The Church of Latter-Day Saints had three books that they
acknowledged as Canonical, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the
Commandments. For the existence of that church there had to be a
revelater, one who received the word of the Lord; a spokesman,
one inspired of God to expound all revelation, so that the church
might all be of one faith. Without these two men the Church of
Latter-Day Saints could not exist. This order ceased to exist,
being overcome by the violence of armed men, by whom houses were
beaten down by cannon which the assalents had furnished
themselves with.

'Thus ended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and
it never can move again till the Lord inspires men and women to
believe it. All the societies and assemblies of men collected
together since then is not the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints, nor never can there be such a church till the
Lord moves it by his own power, as he did the first.

"Should you fall in with one who was of the Church [of] Christ,
though now of advanced age, you will find one deep red in the
revelations of heaven. But many of them are dead, and many of
them have turned away, so there are few left.

"I have a manuscript paper in my possession, written with my own
hands while in my [Both. year}, but I am to poor to do anything
with it; and therefore it must remain where it [is]. During the
great fight of affliction I have had, I have lost all my
property, but I struggle along in poverty to which I am
consigned. I have finished all I feel necessary to write.

Respectfully,"SIDNEY RIGDON."*


* The original of this letter is in the collection of Mormon
literature in the New York Public Library. An effort to learn
from Rigdon's descendants something about the manuscript paper
referred to by him has failed.


Rigdon's affirmation of his belief in Smith as a prophet and the
Mormon Bible when he returned to Pennsylvania was proclaimed by
the Mormons as proof that there was no truth in the Spaulding
manuscript story, but it carries no weight as such evidence.
Rigdon burned all his old theological bridges behind him when he
entered into partnership with Smith, and his entire course after
his return to Pittsburg only adds to the proof that he was the
originator of the Mormon Bible, and that his object in writing it
was to enable him to be the head of a new church. Surely no one
would accept as proof of the divinity of the Mormon Bible any
declaration by the man who told the story of angel visits in
Pittsburg.





Next: Rivalries Over The Succession

Previous: The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character



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