6 May 1843 (Saturday).

6 May 1843 (Saturday). Prairie East of Nauvoo. [1]

Joseph Smith Diary, by Willard Richards

9 1/2 Mounted, with staff. Band & about 12 ladies. led by Emma. [2] & proceeded to the General Parade of the Legion east of My farm on the Prairie & had a good day of it except very high wind.—Marched the Legion down Main St. & disbanded about 2 oclock P.M. after a short speech on the Prairie. there were 2 United States officers Present [3] & General Swazey [4] from Iowa.—In my remark told the Legion when we have petitioned those in power for assistance they have always told us they had no power to help us, damn such power.—when they give me power to protect the innocent I will never say I can do nothing. [5] I will exercise that power for their good. So help me God.

Levi Richards Diary

General Joseph Smith addressed the Legion a few m[in]utes with warmth & lively feeling—expressed his perfect satisfattion with the Legion—& noticed the same expressed by two United States officers (names unknown)—Speaking of power in relation to our country & the innocent,—he said that those who held power when applied to by those who were suffering, received in answer "We cant do any thing for you," damn such power,—if I have power, & am called on by the innocent Sufferer I swear I will use by the great God I will use that power for them—& not Say I cant do any thing for you—I can do something—& I will!

Nauvoo Neighbor 1 (10 May 1843)

On Saturday last we had a general parade of the "Nauvoo Legion," according to previous appointment. There were not so many spectators present as there would have been if the weather had been more favorable. It was very cold and windy throughout the day. The Legion however looked well, better than on any former occasion; and they performed their evolutions in admirable style.

General Arlington Bennet [6] was prevented from being present, as was anticipated, in consequence of sickness.

The officers did honor to the Legion, many of whom were equipped, and armed, cap-a-pie. Many ladies on horseback honored us with their presence, and we observed that the men were in good spirits; that they had made great improvements, both in uniform and discipline, and from what we saw, we felt proud to be associated with a body of men which in point of discipline, uniform, appearance, and a knowledge of military tactics, are the pride of Illinois, one of its strongest defences, and a great bulwark of the western country.

Two officers of the regular army were present, and expressed great satisfaction at our appearance and evolutions. Lieutenant General Joseph Smith, delivered a spirited and patriotic address on the occasion, which was received with enthusiasm by both officers and men. He was followed by General Swazy of Iowa, in his usual good style.

—6 May 1843

Notes

[1] See History of the Church, 5:383-84. Not in Teachings. The History of the Church account is an amalgamation of the reports in the Joseph Smith Diary and the Nauvoo Neighbor. The report by Levi Richards is here published for the first time. A reminiscent account of this discourse by James Burgess contains the essential details found in the other three accounts published here, and adds that the "Constitution and Government would hang by a brittle thread."

In the month of May 1843. Several miles east of Nauvoo. The Nauvoo Legion was on parade and review. At the close of which Joseph Smith made some remarks upon our condition as a people and upon our future prospects contrasting our present condition with our past trials and persecutions by the hands of our enemies. Also upon the constitution and government of the United States stating that the time would come when the Constitution and Government would hand by a brittle thread and would be ready to fall into other hands but this people the Latter day Saints will step forth and save it.

General Scott and part of his staff on the American Army was present on the occasion.

I James Burgess was present and testify to the above (James Burgess Notebook, Church Archives).

[2] Emma Smith.

[3] Apparently General Winfield Scott (1786-1866) was one of the United States officers present.

[4] Samuel Swazy of Iowa Territory.

[5] This is an obvious allusion to the pitiful response President Martin Van Buren gave to the Prophet when he went to Washington D.C. in late 1839 and personally delivered the Saints' petitions for redress of grievances for their Missouri losses of 1838-39. Despite the popular states' rights doctrine, Van Buren's comment, "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you," and "If I take up for you I shall lose the vote of Missouri" was unsympathetic if not deplorable (History of the Church, 4:80). See July 1840, at note 9.

[6] James Arlington Bennet (1788-?) was elected inspector-general of the Nauvoo Legion in April 1842. proprietor and principal of the Arlington House, an educational institution on Long Island, New York, Bennet joined the Church in 1843, but withdrew soon after Joseph's death. The Nauvoo Neighbor (3 May 1843) gave notice of Bennet's anticipated arrival and the upcoming review of the Legion: "There will be on the 6th inst. a general review of the Nauvoo Legion, General Arlington Bennet of Arlington House, near New York is expected to attend. The Legion will parade and perform the evolutions on the prairie, we hope the day may be favorable, we expect that the Legion on that day will appear to advantage."