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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



Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat








Smith's autobiography gives incidentally many interesting
glimpses of the prophet as he exercised his authority of dictator
during the height of his power at Nauvoo. It is fortunate for the
impartial student that these records are at his disposal, because
many of the statements, if made on any other authority, would be
met by the customary Mormon denials, and be considered generally
incredible.

That Smith's life, aside from the constant danger of extradition
which the Missouri authorities held over him, was not an easy one
at this time may readily be imagined. He had his position to
maintain as sole oracle of the church. He was also mayor, judge,
councillor, and lieutenant-general. There were individual
jealousies to be disposed of among his associates, rivalries of
different parts of the city over wished-for improvements to be
considered, demands of the sellers of church lands for payment to
be met, and the claims of politicians to be attended to. But
Smith rarely showed any indication of compromise, apparently
convinced that his position at all points was now more secure
than it had ever been.

The big building enterprises in which the church was engaged were
a heavy tax on the people, and constant urging was necessary to
keep them up to the requirements. Thus we find an advertisement
in the Wasp dated June 25, 1842, and signed by the "Temple
Recorder," saying, "Brethren, remember that your contracts with
your God are sacred; the labor is wanted immediately." Smith
referred to the discontent of the laborers, and to some other
matters, in a sermon on February 21, 1843. The following
quotations are from his own report of it. "If any man working on
the Nauvoo House is hungry, let him come to me and I will feed
him at my table . . . and then if the man is not satisfied I will
kick his backside . . . . This meeting was got up by the Nauvoo
House committee. The Pagans, Roman Catholics, Methodists and
Baptists shall have place in Nauvoo --only they must be ground in
Joe Smith's mill. I have been in their mill . . . and those who
come here must go through my smut machine, and that is my
tongue."* The difficulty of carrying on these building
enterprises at this time was increased by the financial
disturbance that was convulsing the whole country. It was in
these years that Congress was wrestling with the questions of the
deposits of the public funds, the United States Bank, the
subtreasury scheme, and the falling off of customs and land-sale
revenues, with a threatened deficit in the federal treasury. The
break-down of the Bank of the United States caused a general
failure of the banks of the Western and Southern states, and
money was so scarce at Nauvoo that one Mormon writer records the
fact that "when corn was brought to my door at ten cents a
bushel, and sadly needed, the money could not be raised."

* Millennial Star, Vol. XX, p. 583.


The relations between Smith and Rigdon had been strained ever
since the departure of the Mormons from Missouri. The trouble
between them was finally brought before a special conference at
Nauvoo, on October 7, 1843, at which Smith stated that he had
received no material benefits from Rigdon's labors or counsel
since they had left Missouri. He presented complaints against
Rigdon's management of the post-office, brought up a charge that
Rigdon had been in correspondence with General Bennett and
Governor Carlin, and offered "indirect testimony" that Rigdon had
given the Missourians information of Smith's whereabouts at the
time of his last arrest. Rigdon met these accusations, some with
denials and some with explanations, closing with a pitiful appeal
to the all-powerful head of the church, whose nod would decide
the verdict, reciting their long associations and sufferings, and
signifying his willingness to resign his position as councillor
to the First Presidency, but not concealing the pain and
humiliation that such a step would cause him. Smith became
magnanimous. "He expressed entire willingness to have Elder
Rigdon retain his station, provided he would magnify his office,
and walk and conduct himself in all honesty, righteousness and
integrity; but signified his lack of confidence in his integrity
and steadfastness."* This incident once more furnishes proof of
some great power which Smith held over Rigdon that induced the
latter to associate with the prophet on these terms.

* Times and Seasons, Vol. IV, p. 330. H. C. Kimball stated
afterward at Rigdon's church trial that Smith did not accept him
as an adviser after this, but took Amasa Lyman in his place, and
that it was Hyrum Smith who induced his brother to show some
apparent magnanimity.


Smith's creditors finally pressed him so hard that he attempted
to secure aid from the bankruptcy act. In this he did not
succeed,* and he was very bitter in his denunciation of the law
because it was interpreted against him. It was about this time
that Smith, replying to reports of his wealth, declared that his
assets consisted of one old horse, two pet deer, ten turkeys, an
old cow, one old dog, a wife and child, and a little household
furniture. On March 1, 1843, the Council of the Twelve wrote to
the outlying branches of the church, calling on them "to bring to
our President as many loads of wheat, corn, beef, pork, lard,
tallow, eggs, poultry, venison, and everything eatable, at your
command," in order that he might be relieved of business cares
and have time to attend to their spiritual interests. It was
characteristic of Smith to find him, at a conference held the
following month, lecturing the Twelve on their own idleness,
telling them it was not necessary for them to be abroad all the
time preaching and gathering funds, but that they should spend a
part of their time at home earning a living.

* See chapter on this subject in Bennett's "History of the
Saints."


At this same conference Smith was compelled to go into the
details of a transaction which showed of how little practical use
to him were his divining and prophetic powers. A man named Remick
had come to him the previous summer and succeeded in getting from
him a loan of $200 by misrepresentation. Afterward Remick offered
to give him a quit-claim deed for all the land bought of Galland,
as well as the notes which Smith had given to Galland, and
one-half of all the land that Remick owned in Illinois and Iowa,
if Smith would use his influence to build up the city of Keokuk,
Iowa. Smith actually agreed to this in writing. At the conference
he had to explain this whole affair. After alleging that Remick
was a swindler, he said: "I am not so much of a 'Christian' as
many suppose I am. When a man undertakes to ride me for a horse I
feel disposed to kick up, and throw him off and ride him. David
did so, and so did Joshua." *

* Millennial Star, Vol. XX, pp. 758-759.


The old Kirtland business troubles came up to annoy Smith from
time to time, but he always found a way to meet them. While his
writ of habeas corpus was under argument out of the city in 1841,
a man presented to him a five-dollar bill of the Kirtland Bank,
and threatened to sue him on it. As the easiest way to dispose of
this matter, Smith handed the man $5.

Smith's Ohio experience did not lessen his estimation of himself
as an authority on finance. We find him, at the meeting of the
Nauvoo City Council on February 25, 1843, denouncing the state
law of Illinois making property a legal tender for the payment of
debts; asserting that their city charter gave them authority to
enact such local currency laws as did not conflict with the
federal and state constitutions, and continuing:--

"Shall we be such fools as to be governed by their [Illinois]
laws which are unconstitutional? No. We will make a law for gold
and silver; then their law ceases, and we can collect our debts.
Powers not delegated to the states, or reserved from the states,
are constitutional. The constitution acknowledges that the people
have all power not reserved to itself. I am a lawyer. I am a big
lawyer, and comprehend heaven, earth and hell, to bring forth
knowledge that shall cover up all lawyers, doctors and other big
bodies."*

*Ibid., p. 616.


Smith had his way, as usual, and on March 4, the Council passed
unanimously an ordinance making gold and silver the only legal
tender in payment of debts and fines in Nauvoo, and fixing a
punishment for the circulation of counterfeit money. Perhaps this
Council never took a broader view of its legislative authority
than in this instance.

Smith never laid aside his natural inclination for good
fellowship, nor took himself too seriously while posing as a
mouthpiece of the Lord. Along with the entries recording his
predictions he notes such matters as these: "Played ball with the
brethren." "Cut wood all day." A visitor at Nauvoo, in 1843,
describes him as "a jolly fellow, and one of the last persons
whom he would have supposed God would have raised up as a
Prophet."* Josiah Quincy said that Smith seemed to him to have a
keen sense of the humorous aspects of his position. "It seems to
me, General," Quincy said to him, "that you have too much power
to be safely trusted in one man." "In your hands or that of any
other person," was his reply, "so much power would no doubt be
dangerous. I am the only man in the world whom it would be safe
to trust with it. Remember, I am a prophet." "The last five
words," says Quincy, "were spoken in a rich comical aside, as if
in hearty recognition of the ridiculous sound they might have in
the ears of a Gentile."**

* This same idea is presented by a writer in the Millennial Star,
Vol. XVII, p. 820: "When the fact of Smith's divine character
shall burst upon the nations, they will be struck dumb with
wonder and astonishment at the Lord's choice,--the last
individual in the whole world whom they would have chosen."

** "Figures of the Past;" p. 397.


Smith makes this entry on February 20, 1843: "While the
[Municipal] Court was in session, I saw two boys fighting in the
street. I left the business of the court, ran over immediately,
caught one of the boys and then the other, and after giving them
proper instruction, I gave the bystanders a lecture for not
interfering in such cases. I returned to the court, and told them
nobody was allowed to fight in Nauvoo but myself."

In January, 1842, Smith once more became a "storekeeper." Writing
to an absent brother on January 5, 1842, he described his
building, with a salesroom fitted up with shelves and drawers, a
private office, etc. He added that he had a fair stock, "although
some individuals have succeeded in detaining goods to a
considerable amount. I have stood behind the counter all day," he
continued, "dealing out goods as steadily as any clerk you ever
saw."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XIX, p. 21.


The following entry is found under date of June 1, 1842: "Sent
Dr. Richards to Carthage on business. On his return, old Charley,
while on a gallop, struck his knees and breast instead of his
feet, fell in the street and rolled over in an instant, and the
doctor narrowly escaped with his life. It was a trick of the
devil to kill my clerk. Similar attacks have been made upon
myself of late, and Satan is seeking our destruction on every
hand."

Smith practically gave up "revealing" during his life in Nauvoo.
At Rigdon's church trial, after Smith's death, President Marks
said, "Brother Joseph told us that he, for the future, whenever
there was a revelation to be presented to the church, would first
present it to the Quorum, and then, if it passed the Quorum, it
should be presented to the church." Strong pressure must have
been exerted upon the prophet to persuade him to consent to such
a restriction, and it is the only instance of the kind that is
recorded during his career. But if he did not "reveal," he could
not be prevented from uttering oral prophecies and giving his
interpretation of the Scriptures. That he had become possessed
with the idea of a speedy ending of this world seems altogether
probable. All through his autobiography he notes reports of
earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, etc., and he gives special
emphasis to accounts that reached him of "showers of flesh and
blood." Under date of February 18, 1843, he notes, "While at
dinner I remarked to my family and friends present that, when the
earth was sanctified and became like a sea of glass, it would be
one great Urim and Thummim, and the Saints could look in it and
see as they are seen." Another of his wise sayings is thus
recorded, "The battle of Gog and Magog will be after the
Millennial."

In some remarks, on April 2, 1843, Smith made the one prediction
that came true, and one which has always given the greatest
satisfaction to the Saints. This was: "I prophesy in the name of
the Lord God that the commencement of the difficulties which will
cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of man
will be in South Carolina. It may probably arise through the
slave trade." This prediction was afterward amplified so as to
declare that the war between the Northern and Southern states
would involve other nations in Europe, and that the slaves would
rise up against their masters. It would have been better for his
fame had he left the announcement in its original shape.

Such is the picture of Smith the prophet as drawn by himself. Of
the rumors about the Mormons, current in all the counties near
Nauvoo, which cannot be proved by Mormon testimony there were
hundreds.





Next: Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee

Previous: Social Conditions In Nauvoo



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