24 March 1844 (Sunday).

24 March 1844 (Sunday). At Temple Stand. [1]

Wilford Woodruff Diary

I have been informed by two gentleman [2] that a conspiracy is got up in this place for the purpose of taking the life of President Joseph Smith his family and all the Smith family; the heads of the Church, one of the gentleman will give his name unto the public & the other wishes it to be hid for the present they will both testify to it on oath & make an affidavit upon it the names of the persons revealed at the head of the Conspiracy are as follows (Chancy Higby [3] Dr Foster, [4] Dr Jackson, [5] Wm & Wilson Law) and the lies that Higby has hatched up as a foundation to work upon is, he says that I had mens heads Cut off in Missouri & that I had a Sword run through the hearts of the people that I wanted to kill & put out of the way [6] I wont swear out a warrent against them for I dont fear any of them they would not scare of[f] and old Setting hen. I intend to publish all the iniquity that I know of If I am guilty I am ready to bear it their is honor among enemies I am willing to do any thing for the good of the people, I will give the names of one of the gentleman who have divulged the plot his name is Eaton, [7] he will sware to it he is a bold fellow. Jackson said a Smith should not be alive 2 weeks not over two months any how. As concerning the Character of these men I will say nothing about it now, but If I hear any thing more from them on this subject I will tell what I know about them.

[After addresses from Orson Spencer and Sidney Rigdon] (President Joseph Smith again arose & said in relation to the power over the minds of the mankind which I hold, I would say it is in consequence of the power of truth in the doctrins which I have been an instrument in the hands of God of presenting unto them & not because of any Compulsion on my part. I will ask if I ever got any of it unfair. If I have not reproved you in the gate, [8] I ask did I ever exerise any compulsion over any man. did I not give him the liberty of disbelieveing any doctrin I have preached if he saw fit, why do not my enemies strike a blow at the doctrin, they cannot do it, it is truth, And I am as the voice of one Crying in the wilderness repent of your sins & prepare the way for the Coming of the Son of Man, for the Kingdom of God has Come unto you and hence forth the ax is laid unto the root of the tree and evry tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, God Almighty (and not Jo Smith) shall hew down & cast it into the fire.) [9]

Joseph Smith Diary, by Willard Richards

10 A M. I preached at the Temple stand, followed by O. Spencer [10] & Prest Rigdon

On the Stand I related what was told me yesterday by Mr Eaton. that Wm. Law. Wilson Law. R. D. Foster, Chauncey L. Higbee, & Joseph Jackson had held a caucus, designing to destroy all the Smith family in a few weeks.

Thomas Bullock Diary

Went to the Temple Joseph spoke about a conspiracy to kill him—he said he would not say anything about the characters of the Laws, Jackson, Dr Foster, or Higbee—but if he was driven to it, he would tell all he knew…Joseph again spoke [after Orson Spencer and Sidney Rigdon] and shewed that his Power was in the Doctrines he taught and defied all men to upset it—he called aloud "as the voice of one bawling in the wilderness Repent ye Repent ye for the Kingdom of God is at hand"— [11]

—24 March 1844

Notes

[1] See History of the Church, 6:271-73. Part of this discourse is in Teachings, p. 341. The original source for the reports of this address in History of the Church and Teachings is the Wilford Woodruff Diary. The account by Thomas Bullock is here published for the first time.

[2] Marenus G. Eaton and Abiathar B. Williams.

[3] Chauncey L. Higbee (1821-84). Son of Elias Higbee. After his father's death in 1843, Chauncey turned against Joseph Smith and was excommunicated from the Church. Later he became a prominent politician in Illinois, serving as state representative, state senator, and circuit judge.

[4] Robert D. Foster (1811-?) was converted to the Church by 1839. A land speculator at Nauvoo, Foster was excommunicated for apostasy in April 1844.

[5] Joseph H. Jackson, a stranger to the Saints in Nauvoo, attempted to endear himself to the Smith family. After being denied the right to marry Hyrum Smith's daughter, Lavina, Jackson became embittered and sided with William Law and other apostates opposed to Joseph Smith. Although Jackson, in his scurrilous Narrative of the Adventures and Experiences of Joseph H. Jackson in Nauvoo (Warsaw: August 1844), claimed to be a close confidant of the Prophet until his rupture with Church leaders in the spring of 1844, in fact, only shortly after Jackson arrived in Nauvoo, in 1843, Joseph Smith expressed to his scribe, William Clayton, his lack of confidence in the man.

[6] The Prophet is here alluding to the so-called order of Danites of the Missouri period.

[7] Marenus G. Eaton (1811-?). Eaton, though not a member of the Church, became a member of the Council of Fifty shortly after this time.

[8] Isaiah 29:21.

[9] John 1:23; Matthew 3:2, 8, 10.

[10] Orson Spencer.

[11] Matthew 3:2.