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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



The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character








On Tuesday morning, Joseph and Hyrum Smith were arrested again in
Carthage, this time on a charge of treason in levying war against
the state, by declaring martial law in Nauvoo and calling out the
Legion. In the afternoon of that day all the accused, numbering
fifteen, appeared before a justice of the peace, and, to prevent
any increase in the public excitement, gave bonds in the sum of
$500 each for their appearance at the next term of the Circuit
Court to answer the charge of riot.* It was late in the evening
when this business was finished, and nothing was said at the time
about the charge of treason.

* The trial of the survivors resulted in a verdict of acquittal.
"The Mormons," says Governor Ford, "could have a Mormon jury to
be tried by, selected by themselves, and the anti-Mormons, by
objecting to the sheriff and regular panel, could have one from
the anti-Mormons. No one could [then] be convicted of any crime
in Hancock County."--"History of Illinois," p. 369.


Very soon after their return to the hotel, however, the constable
who had arrested the Smiths on the new charge appeared with a
mittimus from the justice of the peace, and, under its authority,
conveyed them to the county jail. Their counsel immediately
argued before the governor that this action was illegal, as the
Smiths had had no hearing on the charge of treason, and the
governor went with the lawyers to consult the justice concerning
his action. The justice explained that he had directed the
removal of the prisoners to jail because he did not consider them
safe in the hotel. The governor held that, from the time of their
delivery to the jailer, they were beyond his jurisdiction and
responsibility, but he granted a request of their counsel for a
military guard about the jail. He says, however, that he
apprehended neither an attack on the building nor an escape of
the prisoners, adding that if they had escaped, "it would have
been the best way of getting rid of the Mormons," since these
leaders would never have dared to return to the state, and all
their followers would have joined them in their place of refuge.

The militia force in Carthage at that time numbered some twelve
hundred men, with four hundred or five hundred more persons under
arms in the town. There was great pressure on the governor to
march this entire force to Nauvoo, ostensibly to search for a
counterfeiting establishment, in order to overawe the Mormons by
a show of force. The governor consented to this plan, and it was
arranged that the officers at Carthage and Warsaw should meet on
June 27 at a point on the Mississippi midway between the latter
place and Nauvoo.

Governor Ford was not entirely certain about the safety of the
prisoners, and he proposed to take them with him in the march to
Nauvoo, for their protection. But while preparations for this
march were still under way, trustworthy information reached him
that, if the militia once entered the Mormon city, its
destruction would certainly follow, the plan being to accept a
shot fired at the militia by someone as a signal for a general
slaughter and conflagration. He determined to prevent this, not
only on humane grounds,--"the number of women, inoffensive and
young persons, and innocent children which must be contained in
such a city of twelve hundred to fifteen thousand
inhabitants"--but because he was not certain of the outcome of a
conflict in which the Mormons would outnumber his militia almost
two to one. After a council of the militia officers, in which a
small majority adhered to the original plan, the governor solved
the question by summarily disbanding all the state forces under
arms, except three companies, two of which would continue to
guard the jail, and the other would accompany the governor on a
visit to Nauvoo, where he proposed to search for counterfeiters,
and to tell the inhabitants that any retaliatory measures against
the non-Mormons would mean "the destruction of their city, and
the extermination of their people."

The jail at Carthage was a stone building, situated at the
northwestern boundary of the village, and near a piece of woods
that were convenient for concealment. It contained the jailer's
apartments, cells for prisoners, and on the second story a sort
of assembly room. At the governor's suggestion, Joseph and Hyrum
were allowed the freedom of this larger room, where their friends
were permitted to visit them, without any precautions against the
introduction of weapons or tools for their escape.

Their guards were selected from the company known as the Carthage
Grays, Captain Smith, commander. In this choice the governor made
a mistake which always left him under a charge of collusion in
the murder of the prisoners. It was not, in the first place,
necessary to select any Hancock company for this service, as he
had militia from McDonough County on the ground. All the people
of Hancock County were in a fever of excitement against the
Mormons, while the McDonough County militia had voted against the
march into Nauvoo. Moreover, when the prisoners, after their
arrival at Carthage, had been exhibited to the McDonough company
at the request of the latter, who had never seen them, the Grays
were so indignant at what they called a triumphal display, that
they refused to obey the officer in command, and were for a time
in revolt. "Although I knew that this company were the enemies of
the Smiths," says the governor, "yet I had confidence in their
loyalty and their integrity, because their captain was
universally spoken of as a most respectable citizen and honorable
man." The governor further excused himself for the selection
because the McDonough company were very anxious to return home to
attend to their crops, and because, as the prisoners were likely
to remain in jail all summer, he could not have detained the men
from the other county so long. He presents also the curious plea
that the frequent appeals made to him direct for the
extermination or expulsion of the Mormons gave him assurance that
no act of violence would be committed contrary to his known
opposition, and he observes, "This was a circumstance well
calculated to conceal from me the secret machinations on foot!"

In this state of happy confidence the governor set out for Nauvoo
on the morning of June 27. On the way, one of the officers who
accompanied him told him that he was apprehensive of an attack on
the jail because of talk he had heard in Carthage. The governor
was reluctant to believe that such a thing could occur while he
was in the Mormon city, exposed to Mormon vengeance, but he sent
back a squad, with instructions to Captain Smith to see that the
jail was safely guarded. He had apprehensions of his own,
however, and on arriving at Nauvoo simply made an address as
above outlined, and hurried back to Carthage without even looking
for counterfeit money. He had not gone more than two miles when
messengers met him with the news that the Smith brothers had been
killed in the jail.

The Warsaw regiment (it is so called in the local histories),
under command of Colonel Levi Williams, set out on the morning of
June 27 for the rendezvous on the Mississippi, preparatory to the
march to Nauvoo. The resolutions adopted in Warsaw and the tone
of the local press had left no doubt about the feeling of the
people of that neighborhood toward the Mormons, and fully
justified the decision of the governor in countermanding the
march proposed. His unexpected order disbanding the militia
reached the Warsaw troops when they had advanced about eight
miles. A decided difference of opinion was expressed regarding
it. Some of the most violent, including Editor Sharp of the
Signal, wanted to continue the march to Carthage in order to
discuss the situation with the other forces there; the more
conservative advised an immediate return to Warsaw. Each party
followed its own inclination, those who continued toward Carthage
numbering, it is said, about two hundred.

While there is no doubt that the Warsaw regiment furnished the
men who made the attack on the jail, there is evidence that the
Carthage Grays were in collusion with them. William N. Daniels,
in his account of the assault, says that the Warsaw men, when
within four miles of Carthage, received a note from the Grays
(which he quotes) telling them of the good opportunity presented
"to murder the Smiths" in the governor's absence. His testimony
alone would be almost valueless, but Governor Ford confirms it,
and Gregg (who holds that the only purpose of the mob was to
seize the prisoners and run them into Missouri) says he is
"compelled" to accept the report. According to Governor Ford, one
of the companies designated as a guard for the jail disbanded and
went home, and the other was stationed by its captain 150 yards
from the building, leaving only a sergeant and eight men at the
jail itself. "A communication," he adds, "was soon established
between the conspirators and the company, and it was arranged
that the guards should have their guns charged with blank
cartridges, and fire at the assailants when they attempted to
enter the jail."

Both Willard Richards and John Taylor were in the larger room
with the Smith brothers when the attack was made (other visitors
having recently left), and both gave detailed accounts of the
shooting, Richards soon afterward, in a statement printed in the
Neighbor and the Times and Seasons under the title "Two Minutes
in Gaol," and Taylor in his "Martyrdom of Joseph Smith." * They
differ only in minor particulars.

* To be found in Burton's "City of the Saints."


All in the room were sitting in their shirt sleeves except
Richards, when they saw a number of men, with blackened faces,
advancing around the corner of the jail toward the stairway. The
door leading from the room to the stairs was hurriedly closed,
and, as it was without a lock, Hyrum Smith and Richards placed
their shoulders against it. Finding their entrance opposed, the
assailants fired a shot through the door (Richards says they
fired a volley up the stairway), which caused Hyrum and Richards
to leap back. While Hyrum was retreating across the room, with
his face to the door, a second shot fired through the door struck
him by the side of the nose, and at the same moment another ball,
fired through the window at the other side of the room, entered
his back, and, passing through his body, was stopped by the watch
in his vest pocket, smashing the works. He fell on his back
exclaiming, "I am a dead man," and did not speak again.

One of their callers had left a six-shooting pistol with the
prisoners, and, when Joseph saw his brother shot, he advanced
with this weapon to the door, and opening it a few inches,
snapped each barrel toward the men on the other side. Three
barrels missed fire, but each of the three that exploded seems to
have wounded a man; accounts differ as to the seriousness of
their injuries. While Joseph was firing, Taylor stood by him
armed with a stout hickory stick, and Richards was on his other
side holding a cane. As soon as Joseph's firing, which had
checked the assailants for a moment, ceased, the latter stuck
their weapons through the partly opened doorway, and fired into
the room. Taylor tried to parry the guns with his cudgel. "That's
right, Brother Taylor, parry them off as well as you can," said
the prophet, and these are the last words he is remembered to
have spoken. The assailants hesitated to enter the room, perhaps
not knowing what weapons the Mormons had, and Taylor concluded to
take his chances of a leap through an open window opposite the
door, and some twenty-five feet from the ground. But as he was
about to jump out, a ball struck him in the thigh, depriving him
of all power of motion. He fell inside the window, and as soon as
he recovered power to move, crawled under a bed which stood in
one corner of the room. The men in the hallway continued to
thrust in their guns and fire, and Richards kept trying to knock
aside the muzzles with his cane. Taylor in this way, before he
reached the bed, received three more balls, one below the left
knee, one in the left arm, and another in the left hip.

Almost as soon as Taylor fell, the prophet made a dash for the
window. As he was part way out, two balls fired through the
doorway struck him, and one from outside the building entered his
right breast. Richards says: "He fell outward, exclaiming 'O
Lord, my God.' As his feet went out of the window, my head went
in, the balls whistling all around. At this instant the cry was
raised, 'He's leaped the window,' and the mob on the stairs and
in the entry ran out. I withdrew from the window, thinking it of
no use to leap out on a hundred bayonets, then around General
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 gaol, and expecting a return to our room, I rushed toward the
prison door at the head of the stairs." Finding the inner doors
of the jail unlocked, Richards dragged Taylor into a cell and
covered him with an old mattress. Both expected a return of the
mob, but the lynchers disappeared as soon as they satisfied
themselves that the prophet was dead. Richards was not injured at
all, although his large size made him an ample target.

Most Mormon accounts of Smith's death say that, after he fell,
the body was set up against a well curb in the yard and riddled
with balls. Taylor mentions this report, but Richards, who
specifically says that he saw the prophet die, does not. Governor
Ford's account says that Smith was only stunned by the fall and
was shot in the yard. Perhaps the original authority for this
version was a lad named William N. Daniels, who accompanied the
Warsaw men to Carthage, and, after the shooting, went to Nauvoo
and had his story published by the Mormons in pamphlet form, with
two extravagant illustrations, in which one of the assailants is
represented as approaching Smith with a knife to cut off his
head.*

*A detailed account of the murder of the Smiths, and events
connected with it, was contributed to the Atlantic Monthly for
December, 1869, by John Hay. This is accepted by Kennedy as
written by "one whose opportunities for information were
excellent, whose fairness cannot be questioned, and whose ability
to distinguish the true from the false is of the highest order."
H. H. Bancroft, whose tone is always pro-Mormon, alludes to this
article as "simply a tissue of falsehoods." In reply to a note of
inquiry Secretary Hay wrote to the author, under date of November
17, 1900: "I relied more upon my memory and contemporary
newspapers for my facts than on certified documents. I will not
take my oath to everything the article contains, but I think in
the main it is correct." This article says that Joseph Smith was
severely wounded before he ran to the window, "and half leaped,
half fell into the jail yard below. With his last dying energies
he gathered himself up, and leaned in a sitting posture against
the rude stone well curb. His stricken condition, his vague
wandering glances, excited no pity in the mob thirsting for his
life. A squad of Missourians, who were standing by the fence,
leveled their pieces at him, and, before they could see him again
for the smoke they made, Joe Smith was dead:" This is not an
account of an eye-witness.


The bodies of the two brothers were removed to the hotel in
Carthage, and were taken the next day to Nauvoo, arriving there
about three o'clock in the afternoon. They were met by
practically the entire population, and a procession made up of
the City Council, the generals of the Legion with their staffs,
the Legion and the citizens generally, all under command of the
city marshal, escorted them to the Nauvoo Mansion, where
addresses were made by Dr. Richards, W. W. Phelps, the lawyers
Woods and Reid, and Colonel Markham. The utmost grief was shown
by the Mormons, who seemed stunned by the blow.

The burial followed, but the bodies did not occupy the graves.
Stenhouse is authority for the statement that, fearing a grave
robbery (which in fact occurred the next night), the coffins were
filled with stones, and the bodies were buried secretly beneath
the unfinished Temple. Mistrustful that even this concealment
would not be sufficient, they were soon taken up and reburied
under the brick wall back of the Mansion House.*

* "Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 174.


Brigham Young said at the conference in the Temple on October 8,
1845, "We will petition Sister Emma, in the name of Israel's God,
to let us deposit the remains of Joseph according as he has
commanded us, and if she will not consent to it, our garments are
clear." She did not consent. For the following statement about
the future disposition of the bodies I am indebted to the
grandson of the prophet, Mr. Frederick Madison Smith, one of the
editors of the Saints' Herald (Reorganized Church) at Lamoni,
Iowa, dated December 15, 1900:--

"The burial place of the brothers Joseph and Hyrum has always
remained a secret, being known only to a very few of the
immediate family. In fact, unless it has lately been revealed to
others, the exact spot is known only to my father and his
brother. Others who knew the secret are now silent in death. The
reasons for the secrecy were that it was feared that, if the
burial place was known at the time, there might have been an
inclination on the part of the enemies of those men to desecrate
their bodies and graves. There is not now, and probably has not
been for years, any danger of such desecration, and the only
reason I can see for still keeping it a secret is the natural
disinclination on the part of the family to talk about such
matters.

"However, I have been on the ground with my father when I knew I
was standing within a few feet of where the remains were lying,
and it is known to many about where that spot is. It is a short
distance from the Nauvoo House, on the bank of the Mississippi.
The lot is still owned by the family, the title being in my
father's name. There is not, that I know, any intention of ever
taking the bodies to Far West or Independence, Missouri. The
chances are that their resting places will never be disturbed
other than to erect on the spot a monument. In fact, a movement
is now underway to raise the means to do that. A monument fund is
being subscribed to by the members of the church. The monument
would have been erected by the family, but it is not financially
able to do it."

In the October following, indictments were found against Colonel
Williams of the Warsaw regiment, State Senator J. C. Davis,
Editor Sharp, and six others, including three who were said to
have been wounded by Smith's pistol shots, but the sheriff did
not succeed in making any arrests. In the May following some of
the accused appeared for trial. A struck jury was obtained, but,
in the existing state of public feeling, an acquittal was a
foregone conclusion. The guards at the jail would identify no
one, and Daniels, the pamphlet writer, and another leading
witness for the prosecution gave contradictory accounts.

But the prophet, according to Mormon recitals, did not go
unavenged. Lieutenant Worrell, who commanded the detachment of
the guards at the jail, was shot not long after, as we shall see.
Murray McConnell, who represented the governor in the prosecution
of the alleged lynchers, was assassinated twenty-four years
later. P. P. Pratt gives an account of the fate of other
"persecutors." The arm of one Townsend, who was wounded by Joe's
pistol, continued to rot until it was taken off, and then would
not heal. A colonel of the Missouri forces, who died in
Sacramento in 1849, "was eaten with worms, a large, black-headed
kind of maggot, seeming a half-pint at a time." Another
Missourian's "face and jaw on one side literally rotted, and half
his face actually fell off." *

*Pratt's "Autobiography," pp. 475-476.


It is difficult for the most fair-minded critic to find in the
character of Joseph Smith anything to commend, except an
abundance of good-nature which made him personally popular with
the body of his followers. He has been credited with power as a
leader, and it was certainly little less than marvellous that he
could maintain his leadership after his business failure in Ohio,
and the utter break-down of his revealed promises concerning a
Zion in Missouri. The explanation of this success is to be found
in the logically impregnable position of his character as a
prophet, so long as the church itself retained its organization,
and in the kind of people who were gathered into his fold. If it
was not true that HE received the golden plates from an angel; if
it was not true that HE translated them with divine assistance;
if it was not true that HE received from on high the
"revelations" vouchsafed for the guidance of the church,--then
there was no new Bible, no new revelation, no Mormon church. If
Smith was pulled down, the whole church structure must crumble
with him. Lee, referring to the days in Missouri, says, "Every
Mormon, if true to his faith, believed as freely in Joseph Smith
and his holy character as they did that God existed."* Some of
the Mormons who knew Smith and his career in Missouri and
Illinois were so convinced of the ridiculousness of his claims
that they proposed, after the gathering in Utah, to drop him
entirely. Proof of this, and of Brigham Young's realization of
the impossibility of doing so, is found in Young's remarks at the
conference which received the public announcement of the
"revelation" concerning polygamy. Referring to the suggestion
that had been made, "Don't mention Joseph Smith, never mention
the Book of Mormon and Zion, and all the people will follow you,"
Young boldly declared: "What I have received from the Lord, I
have received by Joseph Smith; he was the instrument made use of.
If I drop him, I must drop these principles. They have not been
revealed, declared, or explained by any other man since the days
of the apostles." This view is accepted by the Mormons in Utah
to-day.

* "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 76.


If it seems still more surprising that Smith's associates placed
so little restraint on his business schemes, it must be
remembered that none of his early colaborers--Rigdon, Harris,
Cowdery, and the rest--was a better business man than he, and
that he absolutely brooked no interference. It was Smith who
decided every important step, as, for instance, the land
purchases in and around Nauvoo; and men who would let him
originate were compelled to let him carry out. We have seen how
useless better business men like the Laws found it to argue with
him on any practical question. The length to which he dared go in
discountenancing any restriction, even regarding his moral ideas,
is illustrated in an incident related in his autobiography.* At a
service on Sunday, November 7, 1841, in Nauvoo, an elder named
Clark ventured to reprove the brethren for their lack of
sanctity, enjoining them to solemnity and temperance. "I reproved
him," says the prophet, "as pharisaical and hypocritical, and not
edifying the people, and showed the Saints what temperance,
faith, virtue, charity, and truth were. I charged the Saints not
to follow the example of the adversary non-ormons in accusing the
brethren, and said, 'If you do not accuse each other, God will
not accuse you. If you have no accuser, you will enter heaven; if
you will follow the revelations and instructions which God gives
you through me, I will take you into heaven as my back load. If
you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw
a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours--for charity
covereth a multitude of sins. What many people call sin is not
sin. I do many things to break down superstition."' A
congregation that would accept such teaching without a protest,
would follow their leader in any direction which he chose to
indicate.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XVIII, p. 743.


Smith was the farthest possible from being what Spinoza has been
called, "a God-intoxicated man." Real reverence for sacred things
did not enter into his mental equipment. A story illustrating his
lack of reverence for what he called "long-faced" brethren was
told by J. M. Grant in Salt Lake City. A Baptist minister, who
talked much of "my dee-e-ar brethren," called on Smith in Nauvoo,
and, after conversing with him for a short time, stood up before
Smith and asked in solemn tones if it were possible that he saw a
man who was a prophet and who had conversed with the Saviour.
"'Yes,' says the prophet, 'I don't know but you do; would you not
like to wrestle with me?' After he had whirled around a few
times, like a duck shot in the head, he concluded that his piety
had been awfully shocked."*

* Journal of Discourses, Vol. III, p. 67.


In manhood Smith was about six feet tall, weighing something over
two hundred pounds. From among a number of descriptions of him by
visitors at Nauvoo, the following may be cited. Josiah Quincy,
describing his arrival at what he calls "the tavern" in Nauvoo,
in May, 1844, gives this impression of the prophet: "Pre-eminent
among the stragglers at the door stood a man of commanding
appearance, clad in the costume of a journeyman carpenter when
about his work. He was a hearty, athletic fellow, with blue eyes
standing prominently out on his light complexion, a long nose,
and a retreating forehead. He wore striped pantaloons, a linen
jacket which had not lately seen the wash-tub, and a beard of
three days' growth. A fine-looking man, is what the passer-by
would instinctively have murmured upon meeting the remarkable
individual who had fashioned the mould which was to shape the
feelings of so many thousands of his fellow-mortals." *

*" Figures of the Past," p. 380.


The Rev. Henry Caswall, M.A., who had an interview with the
prophet at Nauvoo, in 1842, thus describes him: "He is a coarse,
plebeian, sensual person in aspect, and his countenance exhibits
a curious mixture of the knave and the clown. His hands are large
and fat, and on one of his fingers he wears a massive gold ring,
upon which I saw an inscription. His eyes appear deficient in
that open and straightforward expression which often
characterizes an honest man."

* Millennial Star, November 1, 1850.


John Taylor had death-casts taken of the faces of Joseph and
Hyrum after their murder. By the aid of these and of sketches of
the brothers which he had secured while they were living, he had
busts of them made by a modeller in Europe named Gahagan, and
these were offered to the Saints throughout the world, for a
price, of course.*

The proofs already cited of Smith's immorality are convincing.
Caswall names a number of occasions on which, he charges, the
prophet was intoxicated after his settlement in Nauvoo. He
relates that on one of these, when Smith was asked how it
happened that a prophet of the Lord could get drunk, Smith
answered that it was necessary that he should do so to prevent
the Saints from worshipping him as a god!*

* "Mormonism and its Author," 1852.


No Mormon ever concedes that proof of Smith's personal failings
affects his character as a prophet. A Mormon doctor, with whom
Caswall argued at Nauvoo, said that Smith might be a murderer and
an adulterer, and yet be a true prophet. He cited St. Peter as
saying that, in his time, David had not yet ascended into heaven
(Acts ii. 34); David was in hell as a murderer; so if Smith was
"as infamous as David, and even denied his own revelations, that
would not affect the revelations which God had given him."





Next: After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days

Previous: Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest



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