Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest

The gauntlet thus thrown down by Smith was promptly taken up by

his non-Mormon neighbors, and public meetings were held in

various places to give expression to the popular indignation. At

such a meeting in Warsaw, Hancock County, eighteen miles down the

river, the following was among the resolutions adopted:

"Resolved, that the time, in our opinion, has arrived when the

adherents of Smith, as a body, should be driven from the

surrounding settlements into Nauvoo; that the Prophet and his

miscreant adherents should then be demanded at their hands, and,

if not surrendered, a war of extermination should be waged, to

the entire destruction, if necessary for our protection, of his


Warsaw was considered the most violent anti-Mormon neighborhood,

the Signal newspaper there being especially bitter in its

attacks; but the people in all the surrounding country began to

prepare for "war" in earnest. At Warsaw 150 men were mustered in

under General Knox, and $1000 was voted for supplies. In

Carthage, Rushville, Green Plains, and many other towns in

Illinois men began organizing themselves into military companies,

cannon were ordered from St. Louis, and the near-by places in

Iowa, as well as some in Missouri, sent word that their aid could

be counted on. Rumors of all sorts of Mormon outrages were

circulated, and calls were made for militia, here to protect the

people against armed Mormon bands, there against Mormon thieves.

Many farmhouses were deserted by their owners through fear, and

the steamboats on the river were crowded with women and children,

who were sent to some safe settlement while the men were doing

duty in the militia ranks. Many of the alarming reports were

doubtless started by non-Mormons to inflame the public feeling

against their opponents, others were the natural outgrowth of the

existing excitement.

On June 17 a committee from Carthage made to Governor Ford so

urgent a request for the calling out of the militia, that he

decided to visit the disturbed district and make an investigation

on his own account.* On arriving at Carthage he found a

considerable militia force already assembled as a posse

comitatus, at the call of the constables. This force, and similar

ones in McDonough and Schuyler counties, he placed under command

of their own officers. Next, the governor directed the mayor and

council of Nauvoo to send a committee to state to him their story

of the recent doings. This they did, convincing him, by their own

account, of the outrageous character of the proceedings against

the Expositor. He therefore arrived at two conclusions: first,

that no authority at his command should be spared in bringing the

Mormon leaders to justice; and, second, that this must be done

without putting the Mormons in danger of an attack by any kind of

a mob. He therefore addressed the militia force from each county

separately, urging on them the necessity of acting only within

the law; and securing from them all a vote pledging their aid to

the governor in following a strictly legal course, and protecting

from violence the Mormon leaders when they should be arrested.

* The story of the events just preceding Joseph Smith's death are

taken from Governor Ford's report to the Illinois legislature,

and from his "History of Illinois."

The governor then sent word to Smith that he and his associates

would be protected if they would surrender, but that arrested

they should be, even if it took the whole militia force of the

state to accomplish this. The constable and guards who carried

the governor's mandate to Nauvoo found the city a military camp.

Smith had placed it under martial law, assembled the Legion,

called in all the outlying Mormons, and ordered that no one

should enter or leave the place without submitting to the

strictest inquiry. The governor's messengers had no difficulty,

however, in gaining admission to Smith, who promised that he and

the members of the Council would accompany the officers to

Carthage the next morning (June 23) at eight o'clock. But at that

time the accused did not appear, and, without any delay or any

effort to arrest the men who were wanted, the officers returned

to Carthage and reported that all the accused had fled.

Whatever had been the intention of Smith when the constable first

appeared, he and his associates did surrender, as the governor

had expressed a belief that they would do.. Statements of the

circumstances of the surrender were written at the time by H. P.

Reid and James W. Woods of Iowa, who were employed by the Mormons

as counsel, and were printed in the Times and Seasons, Vol. V,

No. 12. Mr. Woods, according to these accounts, arrived in Nauvoo

on Friday, June 21, and, after an interview with Smith. and his

friends, went to Carthage the next evening to assure Governor

Ford that the Nauvoo officers were ready to obey the law. There

he learned that the constable and his assistants had gone to

Nauvoo to demand his clients' surrender; but he does not mention

their return without the prisoners. He must have known, however,

that the first intention of Smith and the Council was to flee

from the wrath of their neighbors. The "Life of Brigham Young,"

published by Cannon & Sons, Salt Lake City, 1893, contains this


"The Prophet hesitated about giving himself up, and started, on

the night of June 22, with his brother Hyrum, W. Richards, John

Taylor, and a few others for the Rocky Mountains. He was,

however, intercepted by his friends, and induced to abandon his

project, being chided with cowardice and with deserting his

people. This was more than he could bear, and so he returned,

saying: 'If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of no

value to myself. We are going back to be slaughtered.'"

It will be remembered that Young, Rigdon, Orson Pratt, and many

others of the leading men of the church were absent at this time,

most of them working up Smith's presidential "boom." Orson Pratt,

who was then in New Hampshire, said afterward, "If the Twelve had

been here, we would not have seen him given up."

Woods received from the governor a pledge of protection for all

who might be arrested, and an assurance that if the Mormons would

give themselves up at Carthage, on Monday, the 24th, this would

be accepted as a compliance with the governor's orders. He

therefore returned to Nauvoo with this message on Sunday evening,

and the next morning the accused left that place with him for

Carthage. They soon met Captain Dunn, who, with a company of

sixty men, was going to Nauvoo with an order from the governor

for the state arms in the possession of the Legion.* Woods made

an agreement with Captain Dunn that the arms should be given up

by Smith's order, and that his clients should place themselves

under the captain's protection, and return with him to Carthage.

The return trip to Nauvoo, and thence to Carthage, was not

completed until about midnight. The Mormons were not put under

restraint that night, but the next morning they surrendered

themselves to the constable on a charge of riot in connection

with the destruction of the Expositor plant.

* It was stated that on two hours' notice two thousand men

appeared, all armed, and that they surrendered their arms in

compliance with the governor's plans.

Translation And Publication Of The Bible Wild Vagaries Of The Converts facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail