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The interest exhibited by many individuals in this community, to know something more in relation to the “ life and death” of “ Joe Smith,” the Mormon Prophet, has induced the author to subjoin the following remarks; premising, however, that the account here given of an event so recent, may not, in every particular, be correctly understood, and, therefore, correctly reported ; especially, a thousand miles and upward from where it occurred.
Serious difficulties (for a long time previous to the late tragedy, the death of Smith, in Carthage, Hancock county, Illinois,) had existed among the Morinons, of the nature and extent of which we are ignorant. They caused, however, a new paper, (the Nauvoo Expositor,) to be established in the “ Holy City,” which in a short time became obnoxious to the ruling party. An order of the commor council, (of which “ the prophet,” was president,) being made for “ its abatemert, as a nuisance,” the order was executed, and the press of the Nauvoo Expositor, without any legal authority whatever, was improvidently destroyed. A warrant was, thereupon, issued against Smith and others for a riot.
Previous however to this, some difficulties had occurred at Nauvoo in the execution of process sent thither to be served, and the officers to whom that duty had been assigned were forcibly obstructed, under, and by virtue of the city ordinances before adverted to. (See page 398.) The people in that vicinity, thereupon (and perhaps justly,) became excited ; and the question whether “ the prophet” and his followers, should set the laws and authority of the State and Nation at defiance, became one of fearful import.
The militia of the adjacent counties having been assembled, some two or three thousand in number, and some armed bands from Missouri and Iowa, having congregated in the vicinity of Nauvoo ; Governor Ford, apprised of their intention to commit violence upon the Mormons, and dreading its consequences, repaired in person to the scene of anion; and with that promptness which has hitherto marked his official course, and reflected great credit on him, both as an officer and a citizen, allayed for a while me storm that was brewing.
On Monday, the 24th of June, 1844, Lieutenant General Joseph Smith, (" the prophet,") and General Hyrum Smith, his brother, having received assurances from Governor Fora of protection; in company with some of their friends, left Nauvoo for Carthage, in order to surrender themselves up as prisoners, upon a process which had previously been issued, and was then in the hands of a public officer to be executed. About four miles from Carthage, they were met by Captain Dunn and a company of cavalry, on their way to Nauvoo, with an order from Governor
Ford for the State arms in possession of the Nauvoo legion. Lieutenant General Smith having indorsed upon the order his admission of its service, and given his directions for their delivery, returned with Captain Dunn to Nauvoo, for the arms thus ordered by Governor Ford to be surrendered. The arms having been given up in obedience to the aforesaid order, both parties again started for Carthage, whither they arrived a little before twelve o'clock, at night. On the morning of the 25th, an interview took place between the Smiths and Governor Ford. Assurances of protection by the latter were repeated, and the two Smiths were surrendered into the custody of an officer. Bail having afterward been given for their appearance at court, to answer the charge for “abating the Nauvoo Expositor,” a mittimus was issued on the evening of the 25th, and the two Smiths were committed to jail on a charge of treason, “ until delivered by due course of law.” On the morning of the 26th, another interview was had between the governor and the accused, and both parties seemed to be satisfied. Instead of being confined in the cells, the two Smiths, at the instance of their friends, were put into the debtors’-room of the prison, and a guard assigned for its, as well as their security. During this time their friends, as usual, had access to them in jail, by permission of the governor. On the same day, (June 26,) they were taken before the magistrate who had committed them to prison, and further proceedings, on the complaint for treason, were postponed until the 29th. On the morning of the 27th, Governor Ford discharged a part of the troops under his command, and proceeded with a portion of the residue, a single company only, to Nauvoo ; leaving the jail, the prisoners, and some two or three of their friends, guarded by seven or eight men, and a company of about sixty militia, the Carthage Grays, a few yards distant in reserve.
About six oclock in the afternoon of the 27th, during the absence of Governor Ford, the guard stationed at the prison were overpowered by an armed mob in disguise; the jail was broken and entered, and the two Smiths, (Joseph and Hyrum,) without any pretenee of right or authority whatever, were wantonly slain. Having effected their object, all vi which was accomplished in a few minutes, they immediately dispersed Governor Ford, with the company of militia above mentioned, having repaired to Nauvoo, and explained to the Mormons what “they might expect in case they provoked a war:" on his return from thence, in the afternoon, was accosted by a messenger from Carthage, about three miles from the city, and informed of the fatal occurrence which had transpired in his absence. He thereupon hastened to Carthage, and found its while population alarmed—many had already filed with their families, and others were preparing to go. He thereupon directed General Deming, with a few troops, “ to observe the progress of events ; to defend property against small numbers, and to retreat if menaced by a superior force ;” and proceeded himself to Quincy, about fifty miles distant, where he established his head-quarters, and on the 29th of June, issued the illowing order :
QUINCY, June 29, 1844. It is ordered, that commandants of regiments in the counties of Adams, Marquette, Pike, Brown, Schuyler, Morgan, Scott, Cass, Fulton, and McDonough ; and the regiments comprising General Stapp's brigade, call their respective regiments, together immediately upon the receipt of this order, and proceed, by voluntary enlistment, to enrol as many men as can be armed in their respective regiments. They will make arrangements for a campaign of twelve days; and will provide themselves with arms, ammunition, and provisions accordingly; and hold themselves in readiness immediately to mareh upon the receipt of further orders.
The independent companies of riflemen, infantry, cavalry, and artillery, in the above
named counties, and in the county of Sangamon, will hold themselves in readiness in like
THOMAS FORD, Governor, and Commander-in-chief.
Soon after the murder of the two Smiths, Doctor Richards, a prominent Mormon, who had accompanied the accused to jail, transmitted to Nauvoo the following note, undersigned by Governor Ford.
Twelve o'clock at night, June 27,
Carthage, Hamilton's tavern. To MRS. EMMA SMITH, and
MAJOR-GENERAL DUNHAM, etc. The govemor has just arrived, and says that all things shall be inquired into, and all right measures taken. I say to all the citizens of Nauvoo : My brethren, be still, and know that God reigns—don't rush out of the city-don't rush to Carthage-stay at home, and be prepared for an attack from Missouri mobbers. The governor will render every assistance possible. He has sent out orders for troops. Joseph and Hyrum are deadbut not by the Carthage people. The guards were there, as I believe.
We will prepare to remove the bodies as soon as possible. The people of the county are greatly excited; and fear that the Mormons will come out and take vengeance. I have pledged my word that the Mormors will stay at home, (as soon as they can be informed,) and no violence will be done on their part. 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.
SAMUEL H. SMITH.
On the next day, June 28th, the Nauvoo legion was called out, at 10, A. M., and addressed by Judge Phelps, a Mormon, and Colonel Buckmaster, of Alton, one of the aids to Governor Ford. All excitement was at once allayed, and preparations were immediately commenced for receiving the remains of the deceased. At three o'clock in the afternoon, several thousands assembled, and the bodies of Joseph Smith and Hyrım Smith, followed by Samuel H. Smith, a brother of the deceased, Dr. Richards, Mr. Hamilton of Carthage, and others, in a wagon, guarded by eight men, were escorted into the city, and “taken out” at the Nauvoo House. The people were then addressed by Dr. Richards and Judge Phelps, by Mr. Woods and Mr. Reed of Iowa, and by Colonel Markham. The bodies of the deceased were then buried with military honors.
« The prophet,” it is said, has left a will or revelation appointing a successor; and, among other things, it is stated that his son, a lad of twelve years, is named therein as his successor. Of this, however, there is no certainty.
Public tranquillity is apparently restored--at least idr the present—and prepararations are making “ to call home the absent apostles and members of the council of seventy," to appoint a successor. Labor upon the temple, yet unfinished, which for a few days was suspended, is now resuned, and peace and harmony, it is said, “ prevails throughout Nauvoo.
Religious fanaticism, when directed by a master spirit, has, in every age, been a
stepping-stone to power. Whether it will be so at this time remains to be seen. Mammon, at present. is the god of this world. If it can be shown that the interest of any considerable portion of its population wil be promoted by sending in their adhesion to the successor of “ the prophet,” “ the Caliph of Nauvoo,” there can be no doubt of a rapid increase in the nu nler of Mormons. The circumstances under which “ the prophet” has been slain are calculated to multiply his followers. No matter how ridiculous or dangerous the doctrine, converts are everywhere easily obtained. Mammon and Mormon are alike almost in sound, and their principles and their creeds are not, it is presuned, dissimilar.
Smith, by the violence of his passions, and the multitude of his debaucheries, had incurred the displeasure of several leading Mormons. Many, therefore, we have no doubt, rejoice in his fall; and so far as the progress of Mormonism is concerned, it is more than probable that the event will be regarded, by many of his followers, as a Providential dispensation. Smith, in his lifetime, courted persecution, but not “unto death.” If his assassins intended by his murder to subvert Mormonism, they have greatly erred. No religion, however ridiculous, has yet been crushed by violence. Should the Mormons, under the guidance of prudent leaders, submit them. selves to the laws and institutions of the State, which has foolishly and imprudently nurtured them in its bosom, their doctrines, however absurd, may yet obtain currency where neither friends nor foes have believed it possible.
In 1842, General Bennett, an influential Mormon, once Mayor of Nauvoo, published a book in which he exposed the iniquities of Smith. Making due allowance for his hostility to “ the prophet,” and conceding, as we are constrained to do, that it bears mark of authenticity, we subjoin from his work, without vouching for correctness, the following description of the Holy City—its temple-its“ prophet, priest and king :"
DESCRIPTION OF NAUVOO.
Nauvoo, the Holy City of the Mormons, and present capital of their empire, is situated on the northwestern part of Illinois, on the east bank of the Mississippi, in latitude N. 40° 35', and longitude W. 14°, 23'. It is bounded on the north, south, and west, by the river, which there forms a large curve, and is nearly two miles wide. Eastward of the city, is a beautiful undulating prairie. It is distant ten miles from Fort Madison, in lowa, is fifty-five miles above Quincy, Illinois, and more than two hundred above St. Louis.
Before the Mormons gathered there, the place was named Commerce, and was but a small and obscure village of some twenty houses. So rapidly, however, have they accumulated, that they are now, within three years of their first settlement, upward of seren thousand inhabitants in the city, and three thousand inore of the Saints, in its immediate vicinity.
The surface of the ground upon which Nauvoo is built, is very uneven though there are no great elevations. A few feet below the soil is a vast bed of limestone, from which excellent building material can be quarried, to almost any extent. A number of tumuli, or ancient mounds, are found within the limits of the city, proving it to have been a place of some importance with the extinct inhabitants of this Continent.
The space comprised within the city limits, is about four miles in its greatest length, and three in its greatest breadth ; but is very irregular in its outline, and does not cover so much ground as the above measurement would seem to indicate.
The city is regularly laid out—the streets crossing each other at right angles, and being generally of considerable length, and of convenient width. The majority of the houses are as yet merely white washed log-cabins ; but latterly, quite a number of frame and brick houses have been erected.
The chief edifices of Nauvoo are the Temple, and a hotel, called the Nauvoo House, neither of which is yet finished. The latter is of brick, upon a stone foundation, and presents a front on two streets, of one hundred and twenty feet each, by forty feet deep, and is to be three stories high, exclusive of the basement; and, though intended chiefly for the reception and entertainment of strangers and travellers, contains, or rather, when completed is to contain a special suite of apartments, for the especial accommodation of the Prophet Joe Smith, and his heirs and descendants for ever.
The privilege of this accommodation he pretends was granted him by the Lord, in a special revelation, on account of his services to the church. It is most extraordinary that Americans, imbued with democratic sentiments and an utter aversion to hereditary privileges of any kind, could for a moment be blinded to the selfishness of the scoundrel, who thus coolly provided for himself and his latest posterity a palace and a maintenance. We may, however, safely predict that his Imperial Majesty will not continue long in the enjoyment of his palace, and that, if he escapes the fate of Haman, it will only be to wander, like Cain, a vagabond on the face of the earth.
The Mormon Temple is a splendid structure of stone, quarried within the bounds of the city. Its breadth is eighty feet, and its length one hundred and twenty, besides an outer couri of thirty feet, making the length of the whole structure one hundred and fifty feet.*
In the basement of the Temple is the baptismal font, constructed in imitation of the famous brazen sea of Solomon. It is upborne by twelve oxen, handsomely carved, and overlaid with gold. Upon the surface of it, in panels, are represented various scenes, handsomely painted. This font is used for baptism of various kinds, viz: baptism for admission into the church, baptism for the healing of the sick, baptism for the remission of sins, and lastly, which is the most singular of all, baptism for the dead. By this latter rite, living persons, selected as the representatives of the deceased, are baptized for them, and thus the dead are released from the penalty of their sins! This baptism was performed, I recollect, for General Washington among others.
It is known that Joe had established a Sisterhood of Saints, for the vilest purposes. A Miss Brotherton makes an affidavit, that Joe wished to have her marry one of his confederated allies, by the name of Young, already a married man, and locked her up with Young, to talk over the proposition. The young lady, in spite of the holy appeal, had strong doubts of the correctness of marrying a man who had a wife already ; but Young, to remove her scruples, introduced the prophet to back his suit, which the lady describes as follows:
Well,” said Young, “ sister Martha would be willing, if she knew it was lawful and right, before God.”
· Well, Martha,” said Joseph, “it is lawful and right before God—I know it is. Look here, sis: do n't you believe in me?"
I did not answer.
“Well, Martha,” said Joseph,“ just go ahead, and do as Brigham wants you to-he is the best man in the world except me.”
“ Oh!” said Brigham, “then you are as good ?” “ Yes,” said Joseph.
A writer from St. Louis, in speaking of the Temple, says: The system upon which this temple has been building, is the exaction of labor every tenth day from every man who cannot purchase his exemption from the task with money. It will be, if ever finished, a very imposing-looking editice. stands in a high and commanding position, a prominent object, riveting the stranger's eye at once, and upon near inspection, the style of architecture is found to be more than coinmonly attractive from its singularity. It is like nothing else, and, unless we be allowed to designate it as the Mormonic order, it certainly bas no name at all. The stone is of excellent quality, quarried in the neighborhood, and very good mechanics have been at work upon it.
The massive caps of the columns are already carved from huge blocks, showing a gigantic round human face, like the broad full moon. The columns are made to rest upon crescent moons, sculptured on the face of the stone, resting with the horns down, with a profile of eyes, nose, and mouth, upon the inner curve. What idea this is meant to convey, we could not lo rr, though the impression is irresistible that the church is built up upon moonshine.