History of the Latter-day Saints
Ronald D. Dennis, trans. and ed., Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003).
J12 JONES, Dan. Hanes Saint y Dyddiau Diweddaf, o’u sefydliad yn y flwyddyn 1823, hyd yr amser yr alltudiwyd tri chan mil o honynt o’r America oherwydd eu crefydd, yn y flwyddyn 1846. (History of the Latter-day Saints, from their establishment in the year 1823, until the time that three hundred thousand of them were exiled from America because of their religion, in the year 1846.) Merthyr Tydfil: Published and for sale by Capt. Jones. Printed by J. Jones, Rhydybont, .
[ii]––102 pp. 17.1 cm. Printed wrapper. Welsh Mormon Writings 16.
Various segments of the History first appeared in Prophet of the Jubilee. The availability of the booklet was announced in the July 1847 issue, price one shilling.
As a relatively new Latter-day Saint himself, Jones used a variety of sources for much of the History, principally the Times and Seasons, Orson Pratt’s writings, and the Millennial Star. His translations of borrowed items are not always word-to-word faithful to the original; even the testimonies of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon contain slight variations in Jones’s Welsh translation. Such changes are imitated in this translation back to English.
Some may wonder at the obvious hyperbole in the title of History. On 13 May 1844 Joseph Smith wrote that the Church numbered 200,000 people (see Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 547). Bishop George Miller is quoted in the 26 February 1845 Nauvoo Neighbor as estimating the Church membership “with our families, little less than 300,000 souls.” It would appear that Dan Jones had based his estimate on such calculations as these.
More than half the booklet was original with Dan Jones. Of considerable historical significance are his bracketed comments to Governor Thomas Ford’s writings concerning the Martyrdom (see pp. 87–88). Also highly valuable are Jones’s account of the Martyrdom and his memories and impressions of the man he admired above all others, the Prophet Joseph Smith (see pp. 73–87).
The table of contents lists 49 divisions, but only 27 of these are given separate chapter headings and numbers in the text. No explanation is offered in the preface, nor is one apparent in the book itself.
HISTORY OF THE
ESTABLISHMENT IN THE YEAR 1823,
TO THE TIME WHEN
THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND OF THEM WERE EXILED
FROM AMERICA BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGION,
IN THE YEAR 1846.
“BEHOLD YE among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously; for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it to be told you.”—HABAKKUK.
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”—AMOS.
PUBLISHED BY, AND FOR SALE FROM, CAPT. JONES.
AND ALSO AVAILABLE FROM OTHER BOOKSELLERS.
PRINTED BY J. JONES, RHYDYBONT.
We recommend to you one more new book in addition to all that have been published; but no one else has offered to you a book so new, and with such wondrous contents as this one. In this book you will find the entertaining and true account of the divine establishment of that organization which is called “Mormonism,” or, more appropriately, the religion of the Latter-day Saints.
All the publishing, preaching, and speaking done throughout our land against this organization is sufficient proof that it is considered an object worthy of public attention, which is tantamount to admitting that the more we have of its history, the better; neither does anyone doubt that in proportion to that knowledge we will be enabled to form a correct opinion about it; for we hope that there is no man in this enlightened age who is prepared to recommend or to reject an organization that professes to be divine, without giving it a fair trial before an unbiased court.
Also perhaps some things in this book may appear more incredible at first glance than a more detailed investigation will prove them to be. Yet, dear reader, we testify seriously that our main objective is to present a true account of the matter under consideration, and we testify that it is to be found in this book as far as the story goes; and this book is not like the books that have been written against us, based on the groundless stories and tales which are told far and wide, but it is based on the most reliable evidence we could find, and on reasons, facts, scriptures, and truths, which we consider incontrovertible.
Let our self-denial in leaving our whole business, a very lucrative one, and coming seven thousand miles, and then immediately taking up our pen, and risking our popularity and everyone’s favor, to raise up this divine organization, together with the character of its founders, from the lowliest condition of disgrace, by continuing to cleanse and wash them of the stains that were cast upon them by their enemies, in the same way a diamond is treated, until by now they are fair and beautiful in the sight of thousands throughout our land—let all this bear witness. Our ability cannot add one ray of light to what this religion already is, but let all this bear witness that we recommend it so strongly to our dear compatriots because we knew earlier that it is the truth. What purpose apart from the good of others could be behind all this? Profit is not our aim, otherwise we would not recommend it to the poor, and for free. Nor is it honor, or else we have lost the way to that too. Oh no, gentle reader, our purpose is nothing other than what we proclaim, namely that others may enjoy the benefit and the divine blessings that were freely given to us, and which are promised to everyone who is obedient to this divine organization. Why, then, is our testimony not correct in your sight? What these eyes have seen, what these ears have heard, from eyewitnesses, yes, what we know of the truth of the following story, is recommended to your attention in this book. Take it kindly and without prejudice; read through it carefully, praying for the Spirit of truth to help you to judge it correctly; and if you are not satisfied of its truth before you leave it, go and follow exactly the order it reveals; and then, if God does not prove its truth to you through adequate facts, you may say that Mormonism is deceit, and we will join with you to proclaim it thus. On the other hand, however, the man who rejects it and its proofs without a trial is doing an injustice to his own soul.
We beg to be excused for any structural or grammatical errors that may be in it; and we pray that it may be instrumental in directing all who read it to the true way towards paradise, for their own good, and for the glory of Him who alone is worthy of all praise. Amen. Establishment of Mormonism
Angelic Ministry is Logical
IT IS completely illogical to deny angelic ministry nowadays, while admitting that it was reasonable for angels to come to men in former times, such as to the patriarchs and the prophets—to eat and drink with Abraham, Lot, the wife of Manoah, &c., without proving that a gulf has been formed, so that they cannot come, or some other proofs in this matter. I have yet to see one of those who deny this truth offer any proof or justification, except to say that they are not necessary; and since they do not come to them, they cannot come to anyone else; and they cry, “Deceivers,” “false prophets,” “pooh pooh!” This is the only voice of Tradition, like the hunter’s horn—always the same tune, until all the hunting dogs have learned it; or like the story of the parrot—what he hears everyone saying, he says too. It is admitted also that an angel came to Zacharias, Mary, and many other servants of God, in former times. Who but an angel gave John the message to go out and baptize? and why can an angel not do the same thing in this age? They admit that those who professed this at that time were truthful and godly people, and their profession of this quite reasonable, with no case for anyone to say otherwise; but this is the question, why can it not be as reasonable for the same thing to occur in our day? Does time change the logical truth of one age into blasphemous heresy in another age? Oh no, logic is the same in every age; but there are some who prefer practical tradition to human logic. How unreasonable to condemn and kill the Latter-day Saints because they receive heavenly visitors; and in the same instant to adorn the graves of saints of former days, who were killed for the same thing! But, they say, they were telling the truth, but you do not receive visitations as they did. Well, how can this be proven? the assertion is not sufficient to withstand the reasonable testimony of hundreds. Besides, did not the contemporaries of the early saints say the same thing? They were the deceivers at that time, each in his lifetime; and the others who had died ages ago were the truthful ones, although they professed the same thing! And who condemns us more for professing angelic ministry, than those who a few years ago believed and professed the same thing, yes, and even prayed publicly for it? It is only a few years since hundreds said they heard heavenly choirs singing hallelujah in the sky, above their meetings, from Beddgelert to the ends of the principality; and I do not doubt that the same story would be believed if it were told on Bala Green; but let no one else dare profess such a thing. I have heard preachers asserting from the pulpits to hundreds, that angels bring blessings from heaven now, and associate with the occasional elderly lady in her cottage, &c.; but, if others profess the same thing, woe betide them: “all deceit,” they say, And when they are asked how profession of the thing can be deceit in the one case, without being so in the other, “Oh, we do not think (they say) that we see angels with our physical eyes, rather it is some mysterious apparition,” like the “still, small voice:” and is this not folly of the most foolish kind, indeed, a contradiction? Who ever saw an angel, and yet did not see it? And how could anyone see an angel except with his eyes? This is how saints saw them in former times; they would look into their eyes, speak to them, eat at the same table, walk hand-in-hand with them, and sometimes struggle with them until they had proof of their strength. There is a race now living which testifies to the truth of this, since they will not eat “the thigh joint” in memory of the injury sustained by their father in his struggle with an angel; and although others did not see them at the time, that does not prove that they were not there, but rather that angelic ministry is a gift of God; and if they were not there, how could they see them? If they did not see them, they were deceivers for asserting that! Oh no, it was not some witchcraft that the early saints practiced, any more than we do; it was angels they saw when they said they did, that is persons from other worlds, of various degrees; and the reason others did not see them was that the veil had not been lifted from their eyes through receiving that gift; and that, perhaps, because they were not as godly as the others, or because the particular angel’s message was not for them personally. It is questionable whether any angel would dare reveal himself to anyone without permission; and even then, it is doubtful whether he would be allowed to appear to anyone except the one he is sent to, because “they are dutiful servants.” They are subject to laws in their circles, and they do not come on paltry, unnecessary errands, to satisfy the eyes or the whims of men. It is seen that it is a contradiction for one to see an angel, and yet not see him, but to see him mysteriously without his physical eyes.
It is illogical to deny angelic ministry in this age; and those who deny it show themselves to be evil men, for they admit that those who were guilty of the same denial were evil men in every previous age. I do not suppose that the Saints ever professed to have seen an angel without receiving the same condemnation; and the greater the zeal for the religion of the fathers, the longer the faces, the more frequent the synagogue meetings, the longer the false prayers, the harsher is the verdict always. What gave rise to greater wrath among the false prophets and the false teachers against the patriarchs, the prophets, and the saints in every age, than this? The enemies regard this as a blasphemy against their God, and an insult to the religion of their fathers; it is easier for them to swallow a camel than to believe this, and there was nothing to be done but kill them if they would not be silent about their angels, their revelations, and indeed everything they themselves did not possess. If they would join with them in “denying its power,” they would happily walk hand-in-hand with them; but, “we cannot but speak the things we have seen, and heard and felt” is the defense of God’s missionaries in every age, even if speaking them should cost them their lives. So it was with Zacharias; he was killed in the temple. It was the angels’ message to the shepherds which aroused Herod’s jealousy, prompting the cruel killing of hundreds of innocent babies. When Stephen said that he had seen Jesus Christ sitting on his Father’s right hand, stones were showered on his head. The religious men of the time listened quite happily to Paul telling his story, until he said he had seen an angel, and that was enough; that was the end of his life as far as they were concerned; they swore they would eat no food until he was killed. The multitudes listened quite happily to Christ until he performed a miracle, or referred to his being sent from another world; and as soon as the words came from his pure lips, everyone had a stone in his hand. Had they been asked if they believed the prophets, they would have said they were willing to die in defense of their godly fathers; and when this generation is asked, were they not evil men, despite their great profession of faith? Oh yes, they say, worse than their fathers. For what? Was it not for disbelieving their godly contemporaries, and persecuting them? Well, dear reader, beware lest “thou be the man” who “fills the measure of thy fathers” in this age; if it be so, “how shalt thou escape the judgment of hell?” Although there are so many examples in the scriptures that prove how unreasonable it is to persecute for this thing, yet so do the children after their fathers, and their children’s children after them. “Oh that they were wise, that they understood this!”
It is illogical for those who profess to be children of God in one age, to deny the ministering of God’s angels to his children in another age, and to profess that he is unchanging! He is no respecter of persons, but in every age the righteous are acceptable to him; for logic tells us that such an assertion is a contradiction, and as impossible as it would be for an earthly father who had a number of sons serving him here and there throughout the world, to visit or send messengers to the one and never to send word or message to the others who served him just the same. Such a father would be a respecter of persons in everyone’s view; so then must be the other, if he does not send his angels with the message to the younger brothers in this age, as he did to their older brothers in former times. This is the language of reason. But, they say, by now, if we were as godly as our older brothers, we too would have the company of angels as did they. And indeed, we must admit this now or get into worse confusion: if this is admitted, it would be the end of the argument, by recognizing that angelic ministry is logical in this age; for it was the logic of the matter that was in question, not the fact.
Enough has been said for now to prove that it is not the logic, but the tradition of the age which denies the coming of angels in our time: and logic in every way, if given a fair chance, proves the consistency of the statement; and every logical thinker will believe consistent testimony about the coming of an angel to our earth, now as before, and will act accordingly.
Next, we shall weigh this statement on the scriptural scales: if it is found wanting there, beware—we do not wish anyone to believe it; but, on the other hand, if the weight bears up in this correct scales, I am confident that everyone will be pleased to believe and accept it.
Present-day Ministering of Angels is Scriptural
The first witness to prove that an angel was to come to our earth, as late as this age, was John. When he was on the isle of Patmos, “on the Lord’s day,” and “in the Spirit,” about the year A.D. 96, “the Lord showed unto him the things that should be thereafter.” And the most notable thing was the strange “beast” which was to rise up, and “war against the saints, until he overcame them,” by killing them. Then the kingdom of God, namely the apostolic church, would go to the wilderness for a time, and times, and half a time, in which season God would not authorize servants to do work for him. Even though there might be in the world a certain number of good, gifted, moral, God-fearing men who would worship him the best they could, and acceptably in his eyes according to the light they had received, this does not prove that even the best of them would be servants sent from God, which they could not be unless they were sent by God; “for no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron,” namely, through some kind of revelation. Paul agrees with this—”How shall they preach, except they be sent?”—that is, by God, of course. And since God did not send a message to our ancestors before they died, they are not under condemnation as if they had refused a message from God through his messengers.
And after the whole world has been in the confused and divided situation described by John, for that space of time, it is shown to him (in Rev. xiv, 6) that God would send an angel to restore that which had been lost, namely the right or effective authority to preach the eternal gospel—not a new gospel, but a new dispensation to preach the old gospel, which is the laws of the kingdom of God. In this way would they receive the authority, not only to restore and to administer the ordinances of his house, but to authorize others to do likewise. The necessity for this must be recognized, in order for the great work of the latter days to be fulfilled. It must also be recognized that it is impossible even for the Almighty himself, and I say this with the greatest respect, ever to send a servant to do anything for him, without revealing this to him in one way or another. He had several ways of sending servants, from the beginning of the world; through his own voice, by sending his Son, or through his angels. He has the right to choose his own way, and his own time; and although his ways do not always please men, he will act according to his own counsel and purpose though all the people of the world oppose him. It was through sending an angel that John says this great work would start; and since all the theologians and wise men of earlier times, for centuries, from what we hear of them, deny that an angel came on such a mission to them, it is useless for us, or any of their successors, to claim otherwise. Let us await, then, the fulfillment of this valuable prophecy, and let us be prepared to receive it. We know that there are many different opinions among men about this remarkable prophecy, as about almost every other one. Some say it refers to the Bible Society; others, as appropriately, that it is to the Missionary Society, or the air balloons, &c. It would take too long to trace men’s fertile imaginations on this subject; and since everyone follows his own commentator, I shall follow John himself. An angel is what John says; and to say anything different is, according to my interpretation, “to add to the words of the book of this prophecy.” There is solid evidence of the state of deterioration the world would be in up until this time, in the fact of an angel’s coming from heaven on such a mission; and either the necessity for it must be recognized or else the angel comes on an unnecessary errand. If the ones who dwelt on the earth had either the pure gospel, or the right to minister it, then it would be unnecessary for an angel to bring to them from heaven something they already possessed. Each is free to choose the explanation he wishes.
Something else that is obvious in this prophecy is the time this angel would come. The same message informs us—”For the hour of his judgment is come,” that is, after the eternal gospel this angel presented to men was preached “unto them that dwell on the earth; and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people:” not after some other doctrines were preached to the whole world, but this gospel brought by this angel at this time. Ver. 8 also proves that it would be accomplished as late as our time, since the next angel says, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city.” Every Protestant we have seen agrees that this is the “mother whore of all the earth,” as she is called; and everyone knows that she has not yet fallen, but is gathering strength as if she were going to live for eternity; but there was not much time between the coming of the angel mentioned with the eternal gospel and the fall of Babylon—only enough time for the inhabitants of the earth to hear, to understand, to believe, and to obey the message, not from the mouth of the angel, but from the mouths of men; for it has been God’s custom to “put this treasure (the gospel) in earthen vessels,” in every previous age. This is John’s testimony about the coming of an angel in the latter times. If no other witness were available, this statement weighs fully on the scriptural scales, as well as the logical one. But in order to give a clearer explanation of the matter, see Matt. xxiv, 31, “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they [the angels] shall gather together his elect, from the four winds.” “His elect,” I venture to say, are the wandering Jews; and I shall prove this later. “To gather them together.” To which place, I wonder, except to the land that God vowed through an oath to give to their fathers. Not to the sky—not to another planet—not to any earth other than this one; for it is here that the “Son of Man,” their Messiah, will come to be King over them forever. He will come on the clouds of heaven, and all his saints with him. Neither he nor they will remain on the clouds of heaven, but those will be their chariots to come “to reign with him on the EARTH,” “for a thousand years.” This is the testimony of the Son of God himself on the subject, and it is stated more clearly in verse 14—And THIS gospel of the kingdom SHALL BE PREACHED [this could not be done without divine authority, which could not be obtained without revelation through an angel, or in some manner] in all the whole world, FOR A WITNESS, and then shall the end come.” This is further proof that he does not refer here to the dispensation he gave to the apostles, for it was not for a witness at the end that they preached it, and there could be no consistency in that for some 1800 years, since the end has not come yet; for it is of the end of this deformed and sinful world that he speaks, and that in response to a question from his disciples seen in ver. 3. Nor is ver. 34 any obstacle to this; if it is thought to be, ver. 33 removes it instantly, with one word, “when ye shall see these things,” that is, you who will be living in that age in which they take place—when ye shall see them, your age shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled. But, to be brief, let us compare these two reliable witnesses with each other. “And this gospel,” says Christ; “the eternal gospel,” says John. “Shall be preached,” says Christ, i.e., I shall give the right through revelation to do that; “And I saw an angel,” says John. “To preach,” “for a witness, and then shall the end come,” says the one; “the hour of his judgment is come,” says the other. It can be seen that the two agree word for word, to prove that there are promises in the book of God about the coming of angels as late as our time. If anyone has any further objection to that, let it be between him and the Bible; I have proved it there, as I promised; and if it were not for fear of being too lengthy, I would bring several other witnesses to prove the same thing. But for the time being, let us proceed to look into the same accurate image in order to see what kind of persons the angels are. Since so much mention is made of them, if we can only get to know them better, and understand their nature, their composition, and their work, perhaps that will be a means of eliminating some of the opposition created by prejudice against them, and making men willing for angels to come into our midst from time to time, to deliver their message, and return in peace. Or else, let us take warning from what happened in the days of Lot; for “the same way also that it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” No doubt poor Lot committed unpardonable sin in the eyes of the Sodomites, by mentioning that angels were coming to the earth; but if the profession of such a thing made them act cruelly towards him, they became even worse when their eyes forced them to believe in angelic ministry. They tried to destroy them! Strange, is it not, that they did not believe after seeing? Not so strange, either, when we consider that the eyes are not the best guides to find God; rather faith, from reliable testimony, is the means which He provided. “PREACHING Christ crucified” was the apostolic way, and not by proclaiming themselves great miraculous doctors to the world.
Angelic Beings and Their Influences
From what we understand from the Scriptures, there are three, if not more, types of angels. 1. The archangels Paul and Judas speak of, namely the highest in authority and the strongest in power. 2. The angels, or those early saints who were resurrected, and consequently are corporeal beings, or like Enoch or Elijah, were translated. There is mention in Gen. xviii of angels eating and drinking with Abraham and Lot; and they did not just pretend to eat, otherwise where did the calf, the cakes, and the milk go? 3. The angels which are called “ministering spirits;” and if one were to search carefully, perhaps it could be proven that this third category of spiritual beings comprises two groups in the heavenly realms. The Psalmist says that God created man “a little lower than the angels:” let this be linked with what Paul says in the proper translation—”Who maketh [or sendeth] his ministering spirits, his angels [messengers], a flame, or in flames of fire.” Such would make up the fourth class of angels. There is further proof that one class of angels eats, from what Paul says—”Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby have some entertained angels unawares.” It is said also in the Psalms, that man eats the bread of angels. The risen Christ ate bread, and fish roasted on a fire he himself had lit on the seashore. If he had not flesh and bones, why did he say to Thomas, “Reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side, and thy finger into the print of the nails,” &c.? What is clearer in the Bible, than that the angelic beings have flesh and bones, eat and drink like men, and with men; and if here, then why not at home?—although we cannot describe their food there. The saying “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” does not contradict this; for there is a big difference between saying “flesh and blood,” and saying “flesh and bones:” and it is this difference that confuses the minds of many. And however small one thinks the difference between them is, it is as great as between Christ resurrected and Christ before he died, yes, as much as there will be between “this mortal” and “immortality.” And since such persons exist, why would it be illogical for them to associate with men now as before?
From these examples, and others that could be noted, it is seen that there are resurrected angelic beings—that it is they who come on errands from God to man, and spirits ministering to spirits. John fell at the feet of one angel, about to worship him, but the angel told him, “See thou do it not; I am thy FELLOW-SERVANT, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” One might think from these words, especially the English version of them—”One of thy brethren the prophets,” that this angel could be godly old Daniel, or one of the prophets who was resurrected with Christ.
Satan says that the angels are the guardians of the saints; and even he would not dare lie to the Son of God. He says—”He shall give his angels charge over thee, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” It seems to me, from detailed searches of the Scriptures, that the angels, when God has saints on earth who are worthy of it, stay on earth with them, to protect them from harm, if they recognize and listen to their voice. There are several witnesses that prove this, such as Isaiah, Abraham, &c., as well as the enemies of the Lord, such as Hagar, Balaam, and others, who bear witness to this. We can see that they recognize the authority and the offices of angels on the earth to a great extent. But, of all the mysteries pertaining to angels, I think that their influence on men, without their seeing them or hearing them, is the most incomprehensible mystery in the opinion of this age. Some deny this, because they cannot comprehend it; and there is another group of men who go to the opposite extreme of inconsistency, saying that some things are “mysteries to be believed, but not to be comprehended”—that it is presumptuous of men to look into them, or to express their opinion on them; and it is too great a task for me to show which of the two groups is the more illogical. But I know of nothing that God has ever revealed, that he does not wish men to understand. What other purpose did he have in revealing it? No heavenly or earthly creature can arrive at more knowledge on the right path than God, who is the source of light and knowledge, wishes him to have; “who will have all men come unto the knowledge of the truth;” yes, step by step, “until (man) be filled with all the fulness of God.”
But to return. How do angels have such a mysterious influence on the minds of men? This is the question of many who already understand the profound mysteries of the philosophy, astrology, and philology of this age, to a large extent. Their ignorance of this proves that proper research is unknown to them.
To shed light on this I refer first to the ladder that Jacob saw, with one end placed on the earth, the other end reaching to the heavens, and the angels of God descending and ascending along it. Also the dream of Pharaoh, and Joseph’s interpretation of it. How could he be sure of his interpretation unless there was some association between Pharaoh’s angel and Joseph’s angel? Also, the dream of Nebuchadnezzar about the great idol which had gone from his mind by the time he awoke. Through that mysterious association between their angels, Daniel was able to bring to light not only the idol, but also its interpretation. Daniel says—”There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets,” not by coming from heaven to reveal the dream and its interpretation, but by sending his angels, “his ministering spirits,” to explain the mystery to them. We find that the wise men from the east “were warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod.” And after they had gone away, “behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.” These examples are sufficient to prove that spirit ministers to spirit, and so we dream revelations because good or bad angels reveal to our spirits what to dream; and this is one way which heaven and its hosts have to mingle with the inhabitants of the earth!
“Some men’s sins are open beforehand,” before they themselves go before the Judge, “going before to judgment:” because they did not receive forgiveness for them before they died; “and some men they follow after.” “Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” It is obvious that this is done because spirits from God report all we do. “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.” “And there are three that bear record in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.” No wonder, then, that the sins of some go before them to judgment—that we must give an account in the judgment “for every act which we do in the flesh, whether it be good or bad;” for it all amounts to this:—Our blood, which is our life—our spirit, which is immortal—and the water, in which we are baptized “for the remission of sins,” all testify to God of our acts in the flesh, and “the angels of our presence” are the messengers who testify that to him; and we are rewarded, or punished, accordingly. The sins of the ungodly follow after them before the judgment; and since their “summer is ended, and the harvest of their souls is past,” they receive “for every transgression full payment.”
The angels come in and through the authority of God, as is obvious in the account of Jacob’s wrestling with God. “And when Jacob was left alone, there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day;” but when he prevailed not, he inquired “the name of the man;” so he called “the name of the place Peniel, the face of God.” This is also confirmed by the coming of “the Captain of the Lord’s host” to Joshua, and his revealing to him precisely the way to take Jericho, its fate, and everything it was essential for him to know in order to fulfill the work of the Lord. To prove this even more clearly, read the testimony of John on the isle of Patmos—”The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto HIM [Jesus Christ], to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by HIS ANGEL, unto his servant John.” This has now been clearly enough proven; but perhaps it will be said that there are some who do not dream at all, and others who have bad dreams. We can acknowledge that also as being consistent with what has been said. There are some men who do not believe in God, angels or spirits. Others believe the one thing and the other, but do not behave according to their belief. There are evil and good spirits that deal with man’s spirit asleep and awake, and that influence him to the extent that he allows them; but they have no power over him, except through persuasion. They are completely opposite to each other in their effects, with the exception of times when the evil one assumes the form of an “angel of light.” With regard to man’s ability to withstand them, before they get too strong of hold on him, the Apostle says, “Try the spirits whether they are of God.” “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Let everyone do thus, so as not to sadden the spirit of God.
Present-day Ministering of Angels
Having proved in such detail, in the previous chapter, the existence, offices, and influences of angels and spirits on men, let us proceed to refer the reader to some promises given to us by God, through his servants, that such ministerings would be received, through such beings, yes, even “in these latter days.” Read Acts ii, 17, 18. Even though it is so clearly stated here, nearly everyone explains that this refers to the day of Pentecost; yes, even though Peter says the opposite—even though God says that it is “in the last days;” and so says Joel ii, 28—”and it shall come to pass after THAT.” Read the previous verses, and it will be seen that the prophet is referring to the great work that would be done on earth (ver. 21), when the children of Zion would rejoice (ver. 23). After restoring to the Jews the possession of their country (ver. 27)—when Christ would reign in the midst of Israel temporally and spiritually, after their LAST restoration from their last dispersal, which would be because they “refused to listen to the voice of the Holy One of Israel,” which is proved in these words—”And my people shall NEVER be ashamed.” After that, Joel says, the above prophecy will be fulfilled; and if only he will look at the words, no logical person can think that they were fulfilled at that time; “for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be DELIVERANCE, as the Lord hath said” (ver. 32). What DELIVERANCE was there at that time? Was it not the complete opposite of deliverance that there was then, and up to now? “Behold, I leave your house desolate,” says Christ. It was a scattering at that time; it will be a deliverance at that time to which Joel, Peter, and God refer; namely, “In the last days”—”Before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (ver. 31)—”I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions,” &c.
The angels are the instruments God uses to gather his elect to those places which he has prepared for them for their deliverance, when the “vials” of his wrath shall be poured onto the ungodly, before he comes to reign on the earth with his saints for a thousand years. The angels are the soldiers of heaven, to report the things which men do, and which God chooses for them to do; it is they who will gather his wheat into his storehouse, before he burns “the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And this will be done by influencing them in the manner stated, namely through giving to them revelations, the spirit of prophecy, &c. It is these who bottle “the prayers of the saints” in “golden vials” and take them before the throne! By now, it can be seen that angelic ministry is not only as logical and scriptural in this age as in any previous age, but is more necessary, because of the greater work God will do on earth. Oh, how useful they are! How merciful is gracious God to send them “in this dispensation of the fulness of times,” in which “HE WILL GATHER TOGETHER in one all things in Jesus Christ.” Let us thank him for such heavenly blessings. Let no one be found in this age “filling up the measure of their fathers,” yes, those fathers whom they condemned for refusing these things in earlier times. And should not the testimony of those who are alive now, yes, hundreds of the elect of the earth, who know in fact that pure angels have come to our earth in this age, have some effect in persuading men to believe this? They cannot all have been deceived in what their eyes saw, their ears heard, their hands felt, and which they know for themselves. If we have been deceived in this, our reason, our ears and our eyes have been deceived. And if this is deception now, it would be the same as claiming that the whole story about such strange things as happened in the earlier times was deception; and I am prepared to be deceived to believe the scriptures, as were the saints in former times; and the more the better of such deceit. Thus shall we be deceived into their company in the end, and that is my wish. We cannot deceive others in this; for if they obey the same heavenly order, it will prove itself to be true to all who are honest in their principles, in every corner of the earth; indeed, it has already, and is doing so to hundreds now in Wales, by conferring heavenly blessings and spiritual gifts on them; not so that they might believe, but, as before, after they have believed and obeyed, to strengthen, sanctify, and perfect them. And whoever experiences the principles of “Mormonism,” as it is called, “shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” It will prove itself to be divine truth, “eternal gospel,” “the power of God unto salvation;” and this is why I said that it cannot deceive anybody. Do not fear it, reader; prove it; and I guarantee that, if your purpose is honest, you will never regret it. Having prepared the way, by removing the previous obstacles, I think you are anxious to ask, To whom did that angel appear? I in turn ask, does the truth of the story depend on the character of the person to whom he appeared? If so, if I said he appeared to Mohammed, the whole Christian world would reject him. If it were to the Pope of Rome, would the Protestants believe that? Or, if the angel had come with this message to one of the most prominent, godly men of the highest character, who leads some sect now, perhaps that party would believe; but I have no doubt that all the others would reject him and his testimony as deception, and they would say all manner of evil about his character and that of his followers. That would cause such animosity and jealousy towards them that they would kill them, if they could. If they were asked why they do that, their answer would be, “They deserve to die; they deceive the minds of the weak, and they essentially say that no one is right but they; we cannot bear for anyone to insult in any way the religions given to us by our godly fathers, who died in godliness believing them!” Could not the children of all fathers in every age and country defend their religions as appropriately as this? We have heard as good a reason as that from the Hindus for worshipping Juggernaut! “Oh no,” they say, “it is the religion of the Bible that we have; not idolatry.” But there is a great difference between professing and believing the religion of the Bible, for the religion of the Bible is angelic ministry in every age of the world. In fact, neither the accuracy nor the usefulness of this phenomenon depends very much on the character given by popular opinion to the person who had the great honor of witnessing it; for it is God who chooses his instruments, and it was the lowliest of the earth that he chose in former times, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of men.” The glory of his name and the good of mankind are his purpose.
Since I have been acquainted for years with that person who had the sublime honor of being an instrument in God’s hand, to establish his kingdom on earth in these latter days; having heard the story from his own lips; having seen his conduct and his behavior; having associated with him in private and in public, and with his family members on their peaceful hearth; having been at his side in the midst of riotous mobs of cruel enemies who sought his life, because of this testimony; having been with him in jail for the forty-seventh time he was imprisoned for his beliefs; having heard his testimony in the depths of the prison, behind the strong doors, where he was thrown on the accusation of treason against the government for preaching from Dan. ii, 44. Since, as I say, I know that he, without judge or jury, sealed with his blood the testimony about an angel’s bringing this message to him: since I heard this from his lips in his last hour, how can I doubt it? Hundreds of cruel men, most of them drunk, came having blackened their faces before rushing on him, and killed him and his brother there, without one examination of his case according to the law of the land. Hundreds of bullets were shot at them through the windows and the door. Four went through him, and the same number through his brother; and I know that they died as martyrs, completely innocent of all the accusations against them that are spread the length and breadth of the world. If persecution, killing, and spinning lies in every age are the work of the devil and his instruments, against what sort of men will they fight? “If a kingdom be divided against itself, it cannot stand.” So says every reasonable man. Since I have had all these advantages, and understand the importance of this thing to a great extent, is it not a sin for me not to open the eyes of my compatriots to these new, strange, divine, and beneficial truths? I shall give, then, a brief summary this time, and at greater length next time, of the manner, the way and the time Joseph Smith received this great honor. Do not wonder, reader; for that is his name: or, “old Joe Smith, the false prophet, the evil, presumptuous, foolish, crafty cheat,” &c., &c., as he is called by the enemies of truth and the numerous family of prejudice. The less well they know him, the greater their animosity toward him; and indeed, I was much the same, until I was forced to believe, through careful research and association with him, that he was not the evil man I had imagined him to be. And I am answerable for the truth of the following story, even if all the theologians and wise men of Wales should speak against it. I challenge the whole age to gainsay my witness, according to the scriptures and the laws of common testimony.
Early History of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith was born in the town of Sharon, Windsor County, state of Vermont, in the United States of America, on the 23rd of December, 1805. When he was ten years old, his parents with their family moved to Palmyra, in the state of New York. They resided in this county about eleven years; the latter part of the time in the town of Manchester. They were farmers by occupation. Joseph’s advantages, and consequently his knowledge of the different branches of learning, were exceedingly small, amounting only to being able to read, write, and do a little arithmetic. Between the ages of fourteen and fifteen, he began to seriously reflect upon the necessity of preparing for his future state of existence; but how to do so was a question as yet undetermined to his satisfaction in his own mind. It seemed to him to be a question of infinite importance, insofar as the salvation of his soul depended upon a correct understanding of it. If he could not find the right way to it, then he saw that it would be impossible for him to walk in it, except by chance—venturing toward the just Judge, and resting all he had on chance. This was something that he was unwilling to do. If he inquired with the various religious denominations, each would refer him to their own particular tenets, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” He discovered they had many things which were in direct opposition to one another. It seemed reasonable to him that God would organize only one way to be saved; and consequently, he could not believe that of all the different churches in the world any but one was the true church of God, and that one would have to be built on the same foundation, believe the same doctrine, practice the same ordinances, be bound in the same Spirit, and bring forth the same fruit as the early church, before God would approve it in this age. And since he could not rely on such changing and different foundations for eternal life, he determined to search the scriptures carefully and without bias. He continued in this manner for a period of time, believing what he read. In the midst of the various wonderful truths which studded its pages, and delighted his heart, hardly one caught his attention more than the following:—”If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given to him.” It is difficult to describe what joy this valuable promise caused him, when he saw that it was the privilege of all men to ask, yes, and with the certainty of receiving from God the knowledge that was so essential in order to walk uprightly in the way of truth, and put an end to the difficult argument which was in his thoughts. This was like a light shining forth in a dark place, to guide him to the path he wished to tread; and consequently, he decided to retire to a secret place in the woods, a little way from his father’s house, to pray to God to fulfill this valuable promise, and show him which of all the denominations was the church of Jesus Christ. After kneeling there, and beginning the important task of calling on the Lord with all his heart, he was tempted (apparently) by the powers of darkness, in many ways, to think that his prayer was not being heard, and that such a thing is not to be had now; but he continued more and more fervently to seek for deliverance, until the darkness began to disperse from his mind, and he was able to pray as if in the strength of the Spirit, and in unwavering faith. While continuing to pour out his soul to God in this way for an answer to his prayer, he soon saw a light shining wondrously in the sky above him; he strove even more to pray, and the light was descending gradually towards him, and as it drew near, it increased in brilliance and magnitude so that, by the time it reached the tops of the trees, the wood seemed to be illuminated in a brilliant and glorious manner around him. At first he expected to see the boughs and the leaves being scorched around him. But since it did not have that effect on them, he was encouraged to be able to withstand the brilliance. It continued thus to descend slowly, until it reached the earth, and he was enveloped in the midst of it. When it first came upon him, it produced strange sensations throughout his whole sys tem, and immediately his mind was caught away from the objects with which he was surrounded, as in a heavenly vision. He saw two glorious personages, who resembled each other in their features or likeness. They told him his sins were forgiven. He was informed upon the matters about which he was inquiring, and which had caused him such mental anguish—that all the religious denominations in the country believed imperfect doctrines, to a greater or a lesser degree, and that consequently God did not acknowledge any of them as his church; even though many of them were zealous, conscientious, God-fearing men, fleeing evil, and worshiping him according to the light which they had. He was commanded not to join any of them. He received a promise that the true doctrine—the fulness of the gospel, should, at some future time, be restored to him; and after these things, the vision disappeared, leaving his mind overflowing with indescribable peace and joy. Some time after having received these divine manifestations, his mind was overtaken somewhat by the desires of youth, of which he afterwards sincerely repented before God.
Revelation of the Gold Plates
On the 21st of September, 1823, it pleased the merciful and gracious God not only to hear, but also to answer the prayers of Joseph Smith. Having retired to rest, as usual, his mind was set in fervent prayer, and the earnest desire of his soul was to have the fellowship of some divine messenger who would announce to him his acceptance with God, and unfold to him the principles of the religion of Christ, according to the promise he had received in the former vision. While he persisted thus before the throne of God, endeavoring to exercise faith in the promises which were so sweet to his soul, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room. The first sight was as if the house were filled with consuming fire! Such a sudden appearance of a light so bright occasioned a shock to his whole body; but it was soon followed by such joy and rapture that he desired with all his heart to associate with the cause of it. Thereupon, a glorious personage appeared before him. And notwithstanding the brightness of the light which filled the room, some divine rays of an even more intense and glorious light again surrounded this personage! Though his countenance was as lightning, yet love and innocence were so clearly marked on it that every fear was banished from the mind, and the soul was pervaded by its image. His stature was a little above the common size of men in this age: his garment was as white as snow, and had the appearance of being without any manner of seam. This luminous being spoke to him, saying he was an angel of God, sent forth by commandment to communicate to him that his sins were forgiven, that his prayers were heard, and also to bring him the good tidings of great joy; namely, that the time was at hand for the Lord to fulfill the covenant which he had made with ancient Israel, concerning their posterity—that the great, wondrous, and strange work God had promised to fulfill on the earth, as a preparation for the second coming of the Messiah, was about to commence; and also, that the time was at hand for the gospel to be preached in its fulness to all the nations, that a people might be prepared in holiness and faith to be worthy of enjoying his glorious resting place, in his victorious reign on the new and restored earth.
He was also informed that he was chosen and called, to be an instrument in God’s hand to bring forth the wondrous work of this glorious dispensation. It was made manifest to him that the “American Indians” were a remnant of Israel; that when they first came to the continent they were a people of beautiful and pleasant aspect, possessing a knowledge of the only true God, enjoying his favor, and receiving peculiar blessings from his hand; that the prophets and inspired writers among them had written an account of the most remarkable of God’s dispensations to them, from age to age, for many generations, until they were overcome by the judgments of God for their wickedness, and the greatest part of them were destroyed; but that the records which contained their history (through the commandment of God to one of their last prophets) had been hidden, to protect them from the wicked men who sought to destroy them. He said these records contained many divine revelations, pertaining to the gospel of the kingdom; as well as prophecies about the remarkable, glorious and dreadful things which would be fulfilled in the last days. And it was so that God could fulfill his promises to his ancients who wrote the records, and accomplish his purpose in their restitution, &c., that these records were to be brought forth. If he were faithful, he would have the privilege of being an instrument in bringing these holy mysteries to the light. He gave him a solemn warning to remember always to do everything for the glory of God. These records would not be entrusted to anyone who sought his own aggrandizement, glory and benefit through them. After advising him to live righteously, to be of upright principle in the service of God, and showing him many things past and to come, too numerous to mention here, the angel departed, and the light and glory of God withdrew with him, leaving Joseph’s mind calm and joyous, to ponder the things he had heard and seen. But before morning, the vision was twice repeated, instructing him further and in greater detail concerning the great and wondrous work God was about to perform on earth.
In the morning, he went out to his work as usual; but soon the vision was repeated once again, and the angel appeared before him; and having been informed by the previous visions concerning the place where the records were hidden, he was commanded to go there forthwith to view them. Immediately, leaving his tasks, he went to the place where he was instructed.
I shall give a brief description of that place where the records lay, in the words of a gentleman by the name of Oliver Cowdery, who subsequently visited the spot. “On the east side of the common road which leads from the town of Palmyra, Wayne County, to Candandaigua, Ontario County, in the state of New York (U.S.A.), about four miles before reaching the little town of Manchester, there is a large hill—I say large, because it is as large as, if not larger than, any in those environs.” After giving a detailed description of the hill, he adds—”It was near the top of it, on the east side, that the [aforementioned] records were found. When I visited the spot in 1830, there were several trees growing there, enough to provide shade from the heat of summer, but not so numerous as to prevent grass from growing. How deep in the earth the records were hidden it is difficult to say; but from the fact that they had been some fourteen hundred years lying there, on the side of a hill so steep, it could be imagined that they were several feet below the surface when they were put there, since it is natural for the surface to wear away, more or less, in that length of time; although it would not wear as much near the summit as lower down, perhaps. In this place a hole had been dug. A stone with a smooth upper surface filled the bottom; around its edges was a sort of cement in which were placed erect four thin stones along the outer edges of the lower stone. All of them when placed like this formed a box, and the corners were filled carefully with cement so that the moisture from without was prevented from entering. The inner surfaces of the other stones were also smooth. This box was sufficiently large to admit a breastplate, such as was used by the ancients to protect the chest from the arrows of the enemies. From the bottom of the box, resting on the breastplate, arose three pillars composed of the same cement as was in the sides. Upon these three pillars lay the records. This box was covered with another stone, the bottom surface being flat and the upper crowning. When Mr. Smith visited the place on the morning of the 22nd of September, 1823, the upper surface of the stone was visible, but its sides were concealed by soil and grass; so it is evident that, although it is not known how deep they were hidden in the first place, the time had been sufficient for the earth to be worn away from them and bring them into view. When once directed, it was easy for him to find them, although they were not so remarkable as to draw the attention of anyone passing by. After reaching the spot with some effort, he lifted the uppermost stone and, to his great surprise, his eyes beheld the wondrous contents of the box. As he gazed upon this sacred treasure, marveling and pondering upon what he had previously heard from the angel, behold, the angel of the Lord, who had appeared to him before, stood before him, and his soul was filled with rejoicing as it was the evening before, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the glory of the Lord shone around him, and rested upon him. When he was in this blessed state, gazing at the glorious scene before him, the angel said to him, “Look!” and as the angel spoke, he beheld the prince of darkness surrounded by his innumerable host. After these had passed from his sight, the angel spoke further, saying, “All this was shown to you—the good and the evil, the holy and the impure, the glory of God and the power of darkness—that you may know the two powers, and not be overcome by evil. Behold, whatsoever enticeth and leadeth to good and to do good is of God, and whatsoever doth not is of that wicked one: it is he that filleth the hearts of men with evil, to walk in darkness and blaspheme God; you see from henceforth that his ways are to destruction, but the ways of holiness are peace and rest. You cannot at this time obtain these records, for the commandment of God is strict concerning them. Thou must see them before obtaining them, through sincere prayer and faithfulness in keeping the commandments of the Lord. They are not deposited here for the sake of profiting from them, nor for self-glory; but they were sealed by the prayer of faith, because of the knowledge they contain; and they are of no worth to anyone, except for the knowledge they contain. They will reveal the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it was given to his people who formerly lived on this land. When it shall be brought forth by the power of God, it shall be carried to the Gentiles, of whom many will receive it, and afterwards will the seed of Israel be brought into the fold of their Redeemer, by obeying it also. Those who kept the commandments of the Lord on this land desired this at his hand, and through the prayer of faith they obtained the promise that if their descendants should transgress and fall away, these records would be restored to their children. These things are sacred and must be kept so; for the promise of the Lord concerning them must be fulfilled. No man can obtain them if his heart is impure, because they contain that which is sacred. By them will the Lord work a great and marvelous work. The wisdom of the wise shall become as naught, and the understanding of the prudent shall be hid, because the power of God shall be displayed. Those who profess to know the truth, but walk in deceit, shall tremble with anger against him; but with signs and with wonders, with gifts of healing—the manifestations of the power of God, and with the Holy Ghost, shall the hearts of the faithful be comforted. You have now beheld the power of God manifested, and the power of Satan; you see that there is nothing desirable in the works of darkness; that they cannot bring happiness, that those who are overcome therewith are miserable; while, on the other hand, the righteous are blessed with a place in the kingdom of God, where joy unspeakable surrounds them. There they rest, beyond the power of the enemies of truth, and where no evil can disturb them. They are continually crowned with the glory of God, and they feast upon his goodness, and enjoy his smiles. Behold! notwithstanding you have seen this great manifestation of power, by which you may ever be able to detect the evil one, yet I give unto you another sign, and when it comes to pass then know that the Lord is God, and reigneth, and that he will fulfill his purposes, and that the knowledge which this record contains will go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people under the whole heaven. This is the sign: when they begin to hear that God has revealed these things to you, the workers of iniquity will seek your overthrow. They will proclaim and circulate stories, and false accusations to destroy your reputation, and also will seek to take your life without cause; but remember this, if you are faithful, continuing to keep the commandments of the Lord hereafter, he will preserve you from their hands, and he will enable you to bring knowledge of these records to men; for in due time God will give you a commandment to come and receive them. When they are interpreted, the Lord will give the holy priesthood to some, and they shall begin to proclaim this gospel, baptizing by water for remission of sins, and after that they shall have the power to give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Then will persecution rage more and more; for the iniquities of evil men shall be revealed, and those who are not built upon the rock will seek to overthrow the church; but it will increase the more opposed, and spread farther and farther, increasing in knowledge till it shall be sanctified, and receive its inheritance when the glory of God will rest upon it. And when this takes place, and all things are prepared, the ten tribes of Israel will be revealed in the north country, whither they have been for a long season; and when this is fulfilled the saying of the prophet will be brought to pass,—And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. But, notwithstanding the workers of iniquity shall seek your destruction, the arm of the Lord will defend you, and will make you victorious over them all, to bring these things forth, if you keep all his commandments. Your name shall be known among the nations, for the work which the Lord will perform by your hands shall cause the righteous to rejoice, and the jealous to rage; with the one it shall be had in respect and honor, and with the other in reproach and contempt; yet with these it shall cause fear and terror, because of the great and marvelous work which shall follow the coming forth of this fulness of the gospel. Now, go thy way rejoicing; remember the great things the Lord hath done for thee. Be diligent in keeping his commandments, and he will deliver thee from temptations, the arts and devices of the wicked, until thy work is complete. Forget not to pray, that thy mind may become strong, that when he shall manifest unto thee thou mayest have power to escape the evil, and to obtain these precious records.”
Many more instructions and pieces of information were given by the mouth of the angel to Mr. Smith, which are too lengthy to publish here. During the period of the four following years, he frequently received revelations from the mouths of heavenly messengers; and on the morning of the 22nd of September, 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into his hands. And now, reader, what really makes these truths seem more unreasonable or incredible in our times, than it was for those heavenly messengers to do similar things to others in former times? I venture to say that no one who believes the one can produce an answer, nor offer an objection to the other, only the unfounded tales of tradition and prejudice. Yet, we do not ask anyone to depend entirely on the testimony of Joseph Smith for the truth of this, any more than we do; but hundreds of thousands are alive now in every corner of the earth, and hundreds now in Wales, who have received sufficient testimonies from God according to his promise, that it is true; and not only that, but every man of honest heart who obeys this eternal gospel, will receive testimonies also from the same source for himself. Is this not a valuable promise? Then prove it, and see that it is true.
Description of the Plates
Having proved in a previous chapter of this book that angelic ministry, in these latter days, is logical, scriptural, and a genuine fact, we gave a little of the history of the visit of holy messengers to Mr. Joseph Smith in America, their message, the wonderful discovery of precious old records, and the way they were delivered into his hands; and as we promised we will give a description of them, how they were translated, the testimonies of those who saw them with their eyes, and felt them with their hands, and so knew the things of which they testified. We will also give a brief summary of the contents of these old, profitable, and glorious records. Our knowledge and experience of prejudice and its harmful effects, are sufficient to excuse us for warning the gentle reader not to judge the following story, according to the unfounded stories that have already filled the country almost to overflowing. And, for his own and the truthʼs sake, neither let him weigh it in the religious scales of the age. If angels had nothing to do with the discovery of the aforementioned records, no doubt the wise and great historians of the country would approve it as the most precious thing that has taken place on the continent since its original settlement; it would have a place next to the highest shelf in the libraries of the theologians, and it would be seen gilded, and in its proper place on the tables of the leaders of the world; yes, it would create a new era in the history of the world! What a great objection the family of man has to angels associating with them in our days! Where is the essential principle that was created in man to fit him to associate with his brothers above? Has it completely disappeared from the human race by now? Where is reason? Has tradition swallowed it entirely? Many other things were brought forth on the continent, and in other places, more incredible than the things under consideration; but the one is generally believed, and the others are denied in the face of incontrovertible and divine facts! We remember one remarkable occasion that came to our attention while we were there, as an example, to prove what has been said, and to show the irrationality and power of prejudice. On the 16th of April, 1843, a man by the name of Robert Wiley, a merchant in Kinderhook, Pike County, state of Illinois, dreamed that there were some treasures hidden in a hillock known to him in the neighborhood; and after digging for about thirteen feet from the surface, he found six brass plates, four inches long, an inch-and-three-quarters wide at one end, and two-and-three-quarter inches wide at the other end; four lists of letters (hieroglyphics) on each side of them. On one of the plates is the picture of three skulls, the largest in the middle, surrounded by rays similar to those one sees surrounding the head of our Savior in the pictures that are made of him now. Underneath the two smaller ones is the picture of two trees, and their branches; on one of the plates is the picture of a large head, and the picture of two hands pointing to it. We saw those plates, and the case was publicized through the newspapers, and I did not hear that anyone disbelieved it; but if the one who found them were to utter a word that angels had anything to do with the matter, we do not think that he would be believed about this, any more than Joseph Smith is believed that he received gold plates. Thus the prejudice is so strong against angels, that people would rather believe the testimony of this professed deist, than the other godly man. There is every sign that these plates had been hidden there for many an age, for trees two-and-a-half feet thick were growing on top of those artificial mounds. The wise men of the world have imagined a great deal about the origin of these mounds, and many other remains of the buildings of the ancients; but their history and their makers, and everything else that pertains to them, are entirely unknown to the world; only what is shown on the plates is revealed from time to time. And is not the discovery of the one that is generally accepted (and if anyone should doubt, he can see the picture of them here), an admission of the other? And is not the fact that this uneducated Joseph Smith has translated the one set of plates, while knowledge of the hieroglyphics has been lost to the world, almost since time immemorial, apart from a few letters, proof that he also translated correctly the others that were given to him through angelic ministry? No doubt these, in addition to the many others that could be noted, are incontrovertible facts in the eyes of every reasonable man.
But to return to the story about the gold plates, for such they appear to be. The hieroglyphics were engraved upon them, on each side. The size of the plates was seven to eight inches in length and width, and thinner than common tin, bound into a volume, with three rings running through holes at one edge of the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The letters on the unsealed part were small and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, as well as much skill in the art of engraving. With these records was found a curious instrument, called by the ancients the Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones, clear as crystal, set in the two rims of a bow. This instrument was in use in ancient times by persons called “seers,” and through it things past and future, far and near, were revealed to them.
Persecution Concerning the Plates
When the inhabitants of that vicinity heard that Mr. Smith had seen heavenly visions, and that he had discovered those sacred records, they began to ridicule him and persecute him; even when he was taking the plates home, he was waylaid by two men who had secreted themselves for the purpose of robbing him of the records on his return; for there had been great excitement in those areas since the time he was informed that he would receive them, and everyone was in a state of anticipation or fear; one of the two struck Mr. Smith with a club before he perceived them; but being a very strong man and large in stature, with great exertion he cleared himself from them and ran towards home, being closely pursued until he came near his fatherʼs house, and having failed to get hold of him again, they fled, and for fear of being caught, they withdrew from the country licking their wounds, and no more was heard of them; but the wife of one of them, fifteen years later, happened to be in a gathering in England where everyone was doing his worst in telling stories about the saints, and she admitted that her husband was one of the two above, that he was never well after that, but died because of the thing, and that that was the reason she had left the country. But before these two men fled they spread the word that Mr. Smith had obtained the gold plates, and soon the news was broadcast through those parts, and they started inventing misrepresentations, and false accusations to slander his character, in accordance with what the angel had told him previously; and not only were all manner of tales about him flying as if upon the wings of the wind, but frequently a riotous mob of evil men attacked the house at night. Several times he was shot at and very narrowly escaped. Every device and evil plan they could invent was tried to get the plates away from him. And being continually in danger of his life from such a gang of cruel and abandoned wretches, he decided to leave the place and go to Pennsylvania; and accordingly he packed up the few goods he intended to take with him in a wagon, hiding the plates in a barrel of beans. He had not gone far before he was overtaken by a man who told him to stop, that he had a warrant to search his wagon, although he did not say for what; but Mr. Smith knew that his purpose was to obtain the plates; and after searching everywhere except where they were, he went away sadly disappointed. After he had driven on, another came in the same manner and with the same purpose, and after ransacking almost everything, he too went away equally chagrined because of his disappointment. After that Mr. Smith pursued his journey without any further molestation until he came into the northern part of Pennsylvania, near the Susquehanna river, where he had intended to go when he set off.
Story of the Translation of the Plates
Having provided himself with a home, Joseph Smith commenced translating the records, with the help of God, and through the means of the Urim and Thummim. Being a poor writer, he employed a scribe to write the translation as it came out of his mouth. In the meantime, a few of the original characters of the plates were accurately transcribed by Mr. Smith, which, with the translation, were taken by a gentleman by the name of Martin Harris to the city of New York, and which he presented to a learned linguist by the name of Dr. Anthon, who professed to be extensively acquainted with many languages, both ancient and modern. After examining them carefully for a while, he said he was unable to decipher them correctly, but he translated a few here and there, writing them down on paper; then he said that if the book were brought to him, he could assist in translating them. He questioned Mr. Harris about them, by whom and where they were found; he said they were very old Egyptian hieroglyphics, and that he knew of no one who could translate them more accurately than himself. He listened very intently to Mr. Harris telling the story, until he said that it was an angel who had given them to a young man of his acquaintance. The doctor leapt to his feet in rage when he heard about the angel. “Trickery, all trickery,” he said; “talking about an angel now, indeed!—all lies—be off with you,” he said; and shouting “Pooh, pooh!” he threw what he had translated into the back part of the fire; but Mr. Harris was agile enough to snatch them from there before they were destroyed; and despite all his prejudice, the whole thing was published in the newspapers there, together with the conversation the two of them had, and the doctor later admitted the truth of it. And whosoever believes the Bible will be completely satisfied by comparing these things with what is seen in Isaiah xxix, 11—”And the vision of all is become to you as the WORDS of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed.” Ver. 12—”And the BOOK is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.” Behold the literal fulfill ment of a remarkable prophecy, over two thousand years after its proclamation, and three times as many miles away from the place where it was made! Is this not solid proof? It will be noticed that it was the WORDS of the book that were to be given to the learned one, yes, the words of that “sealed” book. But the BOOK itself would be given “to him that was not learned,” namely Joseph Smith; and so it was done. Perhaps some of the “terrible ones” and the “scornful ones” of this age will wonder that we venture to prove the truth of the Book of Mormon through the scriptures, but they need do so no longer; for if the Bible did not prove it true, it would not be believed by us any more than by them. Oh, yes; the prophets have spoken clearly about it in many an age, as well as the great and marvelous work God would do on the earth when he revealed the Book of Mormon to the world: see ver. 14 of the same chapter—”Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” In order to see when these things were to take place, follow that phrase “this people.” See the previous verse—”Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” “This people” will be contemporary with the bringing forth of the “sealed book.” If the prophet were living in the nineteenth century, I wonder if he could have given a more detailed and skillful description of it than he gave here?
Some say that these things were accomplished in ancient times; but let them read it again, in order to better understand it, especially ver. 17—”Is it not yet a very little while [that is after beginning the great work, when the “sealed book” is revealed] and Lebanon [an expanse of wilderness in Palestine] shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest?” Ver. 18—”And in THAT day shall the deaf hear the words of the BOOK and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.” Are those not great miracles? And yet, no greater than have already been accomplished since this sealed book was revealed; i.e., if these eyes of mine testify the truth. It is evident, throughout this chapter, but especially in ver. 22, that this work is as recent as our times, when the Lord will fulfill his covenant with Abraham, namely—”And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger for an everlasting possession;” and here he says, “Jacob [his seed amidst the gentiles] shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale.” Why so? Ver. 23 gives the answer—“But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him [possessing the “land wherein they are strangers,” after their last dispersal], they shall sanctify my name; and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob [Jesus Christ, their Messiah], and shall fear the God of Israel.” For refusing “the Holy One of Israel,” they were scattered to the four corners of the earth. Since Jacob and Israel are one and the same, the Holy One of each name is the same; and everyone knows that all Israel does not yet sanctify the name of the Son of Man, but rejects him as a fraud; but when the above prophecy is fulfilled, they will believe in him, although not before they are gathered back to their country, but after that. So, it is clear enough that Isaiah, apart from many other prophets, proves the divinity of the Book of Mormon, and these others will be brought forward in their time; but for the time being, let us proceed with the story.
Mr. Smith continued the work of translation, as diligently as his circumstances would permit, until he finished the unsealed part of the records, which is called the “BOOK OF MORMON,” and which contains nearly as much reading as the Old Testament.
The Book of Mormon—Its Description
We have given a brief history, in the previous chapter, of the origin of this book, which has given rise to such excitement, joy, lies, and truths, and has caused such an indescribable revolution in the four corners of the earth, that almost all the people are already taking up arms in its favor, or against it. Ever since its first appearance to the world, the pastors and the leaders of the people have attacked it at the tops of their voices; writers seized upon their invented tales, too, until the ears of the people are made numb by the sound of their bells ringing, “Deceivers, false teachers, false prophets, fools, cunning frauds, liars,” &c., &c.; and that is echoed from the tongues of religious people, drunkards, learned and unlearned heretics. They have by now sounded and resounded until they have almost stunned the world, and have been instrumental, although unwillingly, in bringing it to the attention of the people; and in the midst of all the noise, there are some of honest principle, who are searching for the truth, and who ask them, what is the cause of all this strange agitation? Why does everyone unite, from every party and no party, great and small, noble and plebeian, in every country, to oppose these people? The only answer that could be had from them would be:—”Oh, we do not really know what the matter is, except that some deceitful and uneducated wretches have come to our midst, as the apostles once did, testifying that angels have appeared to some men in these days; they profess to have revelations, miracles, &c., as though it were necessary to restore in our midst in this enlightened age the religion of the ancient times, and that faith which once was given to the saints; and through that they endanger all the religions and the numerous sects which our godly fathers gave to us, and which have been constructed on the basis of the wisdom of the theologians and the great men of the whole world, independent of the Spirit of God, and all its facts; this is the cause” (they say); and then they raise their voice in unison, shouting, “Great is human wisdom, great and excellent are the new forms of theological beliefs of this age; great is the ability of our uninspired pastors, who do not want to know anything but their own imaginings and opinions, and how strange it is the way they satisfy us with enticing words of human wisdom which are not the explanation of the Spirit and the power, for there is no need for that now; otherwise our faith would rest on the power of God rather than on the wisdom of the wise men.” It is not surprising, then, that it is so difficult to obtain from the populace, in the midst of such noise and stupor, a hearing or credence for even the best, sweetest, and most remarkable news that was ever offered to them.
I suppose that no book ever had so much said against it by those who knew so little about it, as the Book of Mormon. Wherever it goes in every country, the ears of the populace are filled to the brim with stories and tales as numerous and varied as their authors, which consequently contradict each other; many of them published and preached by those who have never seen the book; others by those who have dipped into it here and there, purposely to pick faults, and not infrequently one sees quotations from it greatly distorted and twisted. Some describe it as an invented tale; others say it is a new Bible, to supersede the old. Some condemn it for being the most worthless tissue of foolishness they ever saw; others say that it is the most skillful fraud possible. Some find fault with it because it is too similar to the Bible, that its testimony coincides with it, and is therefore unnecessary; but others assert that it is a fraud because it is not similar enough to the Bible. Some condemn the principles it contains because they are immoral, totally evil, and blasphemous; but others of their brothers proclaim to their faces that the principles teach morality, chastity, and holiness, as though it had been purposely composed to trick in that way. Among others, one learned minister went to the trouble of publishing a 60-page treatise, against the Book of Mormon, &c., accusing it unsparingly of comprising a strangely foolish mixture “of faith and acts, of God’s mercies, and of asking obedience of his creatures.” Some of the great men of the age have proclaimed that its idiom, its language, and its contents prove its antiquity; and others of the same class, that it bears every mark of a recent forgery. Some cannot make out what use it could be, or how to prove its truth, unless there were some prophecies in it to be fulfilled, from which they could prove its divinity; others quote extensively from the prophecies that are about to be fulfilled, and they condemn it for being too clear: the old prophets did not do thus, they say.
Now, in the face of such a variety of conflicting claims about something that is so essential to understand properly, it would be not only very beneficial, but in the common interest to present a summary of the contents of the Book of Mormon, until we can print it in Welsh; although it is not, as we are accused, instead of or to replace the holy Bible, in any manner or means. There is not a word in it that contradicts the Bible, but it proves the divinity of the Bible undeniably, so that one need only read it to remove not only that false accusation, but every other one, and believe its truth and the Bible’s too.
Early Inhabitants of America
In this valuable book can be found the ancient history of the American continent, from its early settlement by a colony who came there from the great separation which occurred at the tower of Babel, to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. By these records we are informed that America in ancient times was inhabited by two distinct races of people; the first came directly from the tower of Babel, being called Jaredites; the second came from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ, being Israelites, principally the descendants of Joseph. The first nation, or Jaredites, were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The majority of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century, and the remaining remnant gradually dwindled into an uncivilized state, until they divided into a multitude of nations, who are now called by Europeans, the “American Indians.”
We also learn from this ancient book that the Jaredites were a righteous people, that they obtained favor in the sight of the Lord, so that, at the confusion of languages, they were not confounded; but because of their righteousness, the Lord miraculously led them from the tower to the great ocean, where they were commanded to build vessels, in which they sailed across the great deep and landed on the shores of North America. The Lord swore unto them in his wrath, that whosoever should possess this land of promise should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them, and they were fully ripened in iniquity. But he promised that if they kept his commandments he would make them the greatest and most powerful nation of all the nations of the earth.
In the process of time they increased greatly, becoming a very numerous and powerful people, occupying a large part of the country, building many large cities and being a civilized and comfortable nation. They were well versed in agriculture and machinery to a great extent. Trade and commerce flourished on every hand; yet, in consequence of wickedness they were often visited by the Lord with terrible judgments. Many prophets were raised up among them from generation to generation, who warned the people to forsake their evil ways, and prophesied of judgments and calamities which would overtake them if they did not repent. Sometimes they were visited by pestilence and plagues; at other times by famine and war, until at length (having occupied the land for some sixteen hundred years) their wickedness became so great that the Lord threatened, by the mouth of his prophets, to utterly destroy them from the face of the land. Even so they gave no heed to these warnings until the word of the Lord was fulfilled, and they were entirely destroyed, leaving their houses, their cities, and their possessions desolate. Their sacred records, which were kept on gold plates, were hidden by one of their last prophets, until they were discovered by the remnant of Joseph, which soon afterwards was brought there from Jerusalem to inherit the land.
Jewish Inhabitants of America
This remnant of Joseph was also led in a miraculous way from Jerusalem, in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. They were first led to the eastern borders of the Red Sea; then they journeyed along the borders thereof in a southeastern direction; after which they went eastward, until they came to the great ocean. There, by the command of God, they built a vessel in which they were safely brought across the ocean, landing upon the western coast of the American continent. In the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah, at the time the Jews were carried away captive into Babylon, more people came from Jerusalem, some of whom were descendants of Judah; they landed in the north part of America, and emigrated into the northern parts of South America, where they lived until they were discovered by the remnant of Joseph, about four hundred years later.
From these records we learn that this remnant of Joseph, soon after they landed, separated themselves into two distinct nations. This division was caused by a certain portion, in their wickedness, persecuting and pursuing the remainder who were more righteous than they, until they came to the northern parts of South America, leaving the wicked nation in possession of the middle and southern parts of the same. The first nation was called Nephites, being led by a prophet whose name was Nephi. The other nation was called Lamanites, being led by a wicked man whose name was Laman. The Nephites had in their possession a copy of the five books of Moses, together with the writings of the holy prophets down to Jeremiah, in whose days they left Jerusalem; these were engraved on plates in Egyptian characters. They themselves also made plates soon after their landing, on which they engraved their history, as well as many of the prophecies, visions, and revelations they received. These sacred records were kept by holy and inspired men, who handed them down from generation to generation. The Lord gave unto them the whole continent for a land of promise, and he promised that they and their children after them should inherit it, on condition of their obedience to his commandments; or, if they were disobedient, they should be cut off from his presence. And the Nephites prospered in the land according to their righteousness, and they multiplied greatly and spread forth to the east, and west, and north: they built cities, synagogues, and temples, together with towers, castles, fortifications, and strong fortresses, to defend themselves against their enemies. They cultivated the earth, and raised various kinds of crops in abundance; they also possessed large flocks, and many domestic animals; they became a contented people, and were made wealthy by the abundance of their gold, silver, copper, tin, and iron. They were very skillful in the arts; they made various accurate and useful kinds of machinery; cloths of various kinds were manufactured, &c. Swords, scimitars, and various implements of war were made, together with shields and bucklers, to defend themselves in battle with their enemies. And in the days of their righteousness they were a civilized, able, and happy people.
But, on the other hand, the Lamanites, because of the hardness of their hearts and their disobedience, brought down the judgments of God on their own heads in many ways; nevertheless they were not destroyed as a nation, but the Lord God sent forth a curse upon them and they declined into a people no longer fair of appearance, color, or habits; yes, into a loathsome, uncivilized, cruel, and bloodthirsty people; being great enemies to the Nephites, whom they sought to overcome and destroy. Many times they came against them with their numer-ous hosts to battle; but they were repulsed by the Nephites almost always, not, however, without great loss on both sides; and thousands were frequently slain in their battles, and were piled together in slaughtered heaps, and covered with earth, which is proved to be true by the numerous mounds found in North and South America, filled with human bones, &c.
The second colony left Jerusalem eleven years after the remnant of Joseph, lived in the North, and after that emigrated to the South, until they were found by the Nephites; these were called the people of Zarahemla. They too had gone into a sad decline, and there had been civil war among them for many years, and they had brought no records with them; so their language too had been greatly corrupted and altered. They denied the existence of God; and at the time they were visited by the Nephites, although numerous, they were only in a partial state of civilization. But in time, after the Nephites united with them, they taught them the scriptures which were in their possession; they restored them to civilization and became one nation with them. And in the process of time, the Nephites built ships near the Isthmus of Darien, in which great numbers of them sailed northward, and colonized that part. Other colonies emigrated by land to the same place; and so, in a few centuries, nearly the whole continent became peopled. The north, at that time, was almost entirely destitute of timber, it having been destroyed by the more ancient race; that is those who came there first from the tower of Babel, as was mentioned; and because of that, the Nephites were obliged to build their houses, for the most part, of cement: also they carried much timber there from the south, and planted many types of trees there too, which they brought from the south, so that they would grow and in time their wants would be supplied. So, large cities were built in time, not only by the Nephites, but also by the Lamanites. The law of Moses was observed by the former, and God raised up prophets among them from time to time throughout their generations. Many records, both historical and prophetic, which were of great size, were kept among them; some on plates of gold, brass, and many other materials. The records of the more ancient race who had been destroyed before they came here were also found by them; these were engraved on plates of gold; they translated them into their own language by the power of God and through the means of the Urim and Thummim. They contained a historical account from the creation down to the tower of Babel, and from that time down until the people were destroyed, comprising a period of fourteen or fifteen hundred years. They also contained many prophecies, great and marvelous, reaching forward in time to the end of the era of the new heaven and the new earth, and the final consummation of all things.
The prophets also among the Nephites prophesied of great things and opened the secrets of futurity; they foresaw the coming of the Messiah in the flesh, the strange and great things which would take place in ages to come; the blessings and the unutterable glory that God intends for their descendants in the latter days, according to his eternal design in the morning council. They would break out in floods of joy and song, as they gazed through their divine binoculars, at the establishment of the kingdom of peace, the peaceful reign of righteousness, when the world would be restored to purity. We are reminded how the public was recently amazed because some wealthy astronomer had built a telescope of enormous size in order to see further into the starry depths and understand their numbers, their orbits, and their order. But he and one Herschel would be consigned to oblivion if one had a mere glimpse through that wonderful telescope, through which those ancient godly prophets saw not only the orbits and the magnificence of the lunar bodies and those close by, but also the composition and establishment of the worlds before the morning stars did sing, and the sons of God did leap with joy,—the incomprehensible blessedness, and the unsearchable glory of those eternal abodes, which eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, and which it has never come into man’s heart to imagine. Also, when they looked through the other end of it, they saw a detailed and correct description of the tumult of nations, wars, diseases, plagues, and pestilences—the judgments of God on empires, earthquakes, and revolutions; they saw kings rolling in the dust, and emperors on the dungheaps. And, further still, they saw the saints of the Most High taking possession of the kingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom, beneath all the heavens—the coming of the Ancient of Days, with his head like fleece, and the restoration of the keys of all dispensations to his hand—the greatness, glory and excellence of the Second Adam, coming triumphantly, with his crown on his head, his imperial scepter in his hand, and all his saints with him, in their beautiful aerial chariots;—yes, this would be shown to them now and again in their turn, until they saw the King of kings riding on his white stallion, as on a sea of glass, an innumerable multitude with him in glory, and a thousand myriads throwing their crowns at his feet, serving him and praising him who loved them, and bought them, and washed them in his blood, of every tribe and tongue, people and nation under heaven, and made them kings and priests for him, to reign with Him on the perfect and undefiled EARTH. Through this excellent telescope, the Nephites saw the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Son of God in the land of their forefathers, and together the celestial and terrestrial phenomena at the time bore out the truth of the prophecies of their fathers. Notwithstanding all this, they fell into great wickedness, and cast out the saints of God, and the prophets, and stoned and killed those that God sent to them. Therefore, at about the time of the crucifixion of the Son of God, they were visited in great judgment. Thick darkness covered the continent for a time, the earth groaned terribly in anguish and sorrow at their transgressions, leaping like a boat before the furious waves of the ocean; the limestone was rent in fear into broken fragments, and shot in pieces far away; mighty mountains were sunk into valleys, to hide their heads in shame, and in their indignant rage they boiled up and raised the bottom of their fertile meadows to shroud their heads in a blanket of cloud, to remain as a monument to testify to future generations how the elements felt excruciating agony and grief when the nails were driven into the pure hands of him who made us; yes, they sympathized as though the stab of the long, sharp lance were penetrating to the depths of their very bowels, when it pierced the heart of the Creator of heaven and earth. Many large cities at the time ceased to be; their synagogues and fine temples were torn to shreds; their foundations, together with their cities and their citizens by the thousands in places were massacred and swallowed up into the depths of oblivion—there to recall and promise a literal fulfillment of the divine prophecies of their fathers, according to the Book of Mormon; and in Yucatan, Guatemala, Mexico, and many other places on the continent, there are brimstone and salt lakes—the ruins of their castles, their fortified cities, and a host of other facts which remain today and are truthful witnesses to the fulfillment of the prophecies of the ancestors of the American Indians, and consequently of the Book of Mormon. Through dreadful judgments the Lord destroyed most of the Nephites and the Lamanites, that the blood of the saints and the prophets they had killed might no longer cry to him for vengeance.
Appearance of Christ to the American Indians–Their Wars—and the Story of Mormon
After Christ arose from the dead, finished his ministry at Jerusalem, and ascended to the right hand of Majesty in the heavens, he appeared to the most righteous of the Nephites, when they were assembled round their temple in the northern parts of South America. He exhibited to them the marks of the nails in his hands, feet and wounded side; he abolished the law of Moses, establishing his gospel in its stead; he chose twelve disciples from among them to preach it, and administer its ordinances, together with the sacrament. He prayed for and blessed their children; he healed their sick, blind, deaf, injured, and those who were afflicted in any way. He showed forth his power in their midst, through raising the dead; he expounded the scriptures which had been given from the beginning down to that time, and he made known unto them the most remarkable and glorious things he would fulfill among them, and their children after them, until he should come in the fulness of time in glory; and from that time down to the end, when everyone, of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation, should be gathered before the throne of God to be judged according to the actions they accomplished in the flesh, whether good or evil, until the heaven and the earth should pass away, and there should be a new heaven and a new earth. All these revelations of Christ were engraved on plates; and the Book of Mormon contains quotations from some of them, but much the greater part are hidden to this day and are to be made manifest to the Saints in God’s good time, in order to fulfill his intentions. We have no doubt that it will be considered a strange thing, and perhaps doubtful by some, that Jesus Christ appeared in person on the continent; and yet, I cannot comprehend what counterargument, even Prejudice itself, could bring to disprove it. Such as these cannot explain to whom Christ referred when he said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold” (John x, 16). He does not mean the Gentiles, because he did not call them sheep or anyone else but “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He said that he came only to the “sheep,” yes, sheep of some other “fold” [country], than Palestine. Why, then, can it not be admitted that it is to this “remnant of Joseph” that it refers? It cannot here refer to the Gentiles either because he says, “and they shall hear my voice.” Not the voice of his servants, but his voice, as those sheep heard his voice in Judea. When it is proved that it is not to them that Christ refers in this strange saying, we will bring other resources which will give clear, positive proof; but until then, it must be admitted that Jesus Christ himself, yes, in our Bible, proves the truth of the Book of Mormon!
After Jesus Christ had finished his ministry among the Nephites, he ascended into heaven in their presence; and the twelve disciples whom he had sent, went forth upon all the face of the land, preaching his gospel, and baptizing those who repented for the remission of sins; and after that, they received the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands of the disciples. Many great miracles were wrought by them and by others in the church, until almost all the remaining Nephites and Lamanites throughout the north and the south became obedient; and they dwelt in righteousness for nearly three hundred years: but towards the beginning of the fourth century of the Christian era, they so far apostatized from God that he again suffered destructive judgments to fall upon them. The Nephites at that time dwelt in the north, and the Lamanites in the southern part of America. There were cruel wars between them which lasted for many years and resulted in the complete overthrow of the Nephites and their destruction as a nation. These wars commenced near the Isthmus of Darien, and at length the Nephites were driven before their enemies to the north and the east of it, where they were still pursued until they gathered their whole remaining nation together, men, women, and children, and encamped around the hill Cumorah, where the records were found by Joseph Smith, as previously noted. Here too they were pursued by the Lamanites; and having gathered together their numerous hosts, they attacked them, and laid them low with hard slaughter for many days, hewing down mercilessly the aged, the young and the middle-aged, indiscriminately. Hundreds of thousands were slain on both sides, and the entire nation of the Nephites was destroyed from off the face of the earth, excepting a few who had deserted over to the Lamanites, a few who escaped into the south country, and a few who fell wounded and were left on the field of battle for dead. Among these last were Mormon and his son Moroni, who were righteous men.
Mormon had made an abridgement from the records of his forefathers upon plates, which he entitled the “Book of Mormon;” and, being commanded of God, he hid in the hill Cumorah all the sacred records of his forefathers that were in his possession; and he gave only the Book of Mormon to his son Moroni to finish.
Moroni survived a few years after this destruction of his nation, and continued the writings, in which he informs us that the Lamanites hunted those few Nephites who escaped the tremendous slaughter on the hill Cumorah, and killed them, excepting those who had fled to the Lamanites, and that he alone was left, and kept himself hid, for they destroyed every Nephite who would not deny the Christ, even after the war. He furthermore states that the Lamanites were at war one with another, and over the whole face of the land they were plundering and killing each other. He continues the history until the four hundred and twentieth year of the Christian era, when, by the commandment of God, Moroni hid up the records in the hill Cumorah, where they remained concealed until by the ministering of an angel they were revealed to Mr. Smith, who, by the power of God, translated them into English by means of the Urim and Thummim, as is known.
Testimonies About the Book of Mormon
Having given from time to time a summary of the contents of the Book of Mormon, it is natural to ask now, is it not a valuable book? Many say that if they were to see the plates on which it is engraved, they would believe it to be true: but it is the same as saying that they will believe that God exists when they see him; or, that they would believe that Christ had risen if they had seen him. Some claim that they should see those plates, before they should believe it. With a little reflection, one would realize that it is well nigh impossible for everyone in every part of the world to see them. How long would it take, and at what cost, for the same ones to go and show the plates to every one of the six hundred million of the human race, for they could not show them in more than one place at once! Any reasonable man would say that that was impossible. Well, then, how unreasonable it is for certain persons to ask to see them, any more than all the others. If it is reasonable for anyone to believe testimony about this, without seeing them, then so should it be for everyone. What better is one man in the sight of God than the other? He is no respecter of persons. Had he not the same right to choose his witnesses to this, as the Son of God had to choose his witnesses to his resurrection? Those who reject the testimony about this are imitating those unbelieving Pharisees who rejected testimony about the resurrection of Christ, because they did not see him. We do not expect anyone to believe the Book of Mormon, or any other revelation that professes to come from God, without abundant testimonies; for we do not do so ourselves. But, perhaps some think it presumptuous of us, to say that we offer them as much as they have to prove the truthfulness of the scriptures; however, I venture to say that, although there are plenty of incontrovertible testimonies to prove the divinity of this sacred volume, which we believe completely, yet we have more proofs of the truth of the Book of Mormon than that! But, they say, are they not all biased witnesses that you have; and what value is the testimony of the Saints themselves about the matter under debate? I ask, What witnesses have we to prove the truth of the New Testament? I know of no witness apart from totally biased ones, and only six of those, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Paul. Were they not biased in all that they wrote? and is their testimony any less forceful because they are biased in the matter? If it is not, why is the testimony of those witnesses who testify so strongly to the truth of the Book of Mormon invalid, then? For my part, I admit that I cannot comprehend how a single unbiased witness to the one or the other can be had; unless some people were to say that they know the Book of Mormon to be true, but even so, they are willing to lose their souls rather than accept it, in order to be unbiased witnesses, so that others might believe it! Who would say that he disbelieved the New Testament, although witnessing to others of its truth, thereby depriving himself of eternal life? How foolish this would be; and yet no more foolish than expecting to find an unbiased witness to the Book of Mormon; for at the moment of believing, he would necessarily become biased; and would not such a biased witness be rejected because his assertion contradicted his example, which is the truest witness of all? “Do not the miracles prove the truth of the New Testament?” some say; “and are there not hosts of those who were inside and outside the church who bear witness to their truth?” I answer that, of all those hosts, not even one has given us his testimony about this, except those six biased ones. There is a difference between having the testimony of the people themselves, and having testimony of others about them! If the reader answers the following questions, then I think we shall come to the same conclusion about this:—Did your eyes see the miracles being performed? Did your ears hear them speaking in tongues? Have you seen any witness who saw them healing as much as one sick person? Have you read the testimony of as much as one unbiased witness outside the church who says he saw them performing one miracle? If the New Testament is believed without as much as one unbiased witness, why can the same not be done with the Book of Mormon? We accept that the testimony of those partial witnesses is sufficient to prove the truth of the New Testament, and it should be sufficient for everybody. But it is seen that those who refuse the Book of Mormon because the witnesses are biased, refuse the New Testament according to the same reasoning!
From what has been under consideration previously, it is evident to every unbiased mind that more testimonies exist to the truthfulness of the aforementioned book than for the New Testament, insofar as there are hundreds now living who have come to know the truth of the Book of Mormon and testify to it, when there is no one alive today who can testify to the truth of the New Testament. We have further proofs and testimonies to bring before our readers, but we shall leave them aside for now, while promising to give them in the next chapter, the testimonies of those who saw and felt the gold plates of the book, those to whom it was explained through the power of God, and who know with certainty that they are true, and derive from the ancients previously mentioned.
“All things together go to shew,
That the Book of Mormon is all true.”
Additional Testimonies to the Truthfulness of the Book of Mormon
We said in the previous chapter that there are more witnesses to prove the Book of Mormon than there are to prove the New Testament. No reasonable person will think, because there are greater proofs of the one, that that diminishes the other at all.
Now, is it not obvious that there are more witnesses to the truth of the Book of Mormon, than remain now to the New Testament? Although there are sufficient to prove the one true, at present there exist more for the other. And does not reason teach us to judge according to witnesses about the matter? So, if one of them is believed, both must be believed. There are several, even among those who profess to be impartial scholars in our time, who assert that no one saw the gold plates, &c., except Joseph Smith; indeed, in Merthyr recently, some people preached from chapel to chapel against this book, when they had never seen it; and when an offer was made to put them straight on the subject, they confessed that they were not telling the stories as truth, but as local legends. The following testimonies are printed in the Book of
|Six eyewitnesses, who wrote in their time, eighteen hundred years ago, that they and their brethren had performed miracles.||Three hundred thousand eyewitnesses to the fact that miracles are being performed in the present time.|
|Not so much as one living witness who was healed in the days of the apostles;—it all rests on the testimony of the six.||There are thousands who testify in our day, that they themselves have received health, without relying at all on hearsay evidence.|
|The six witnesses of the New Testament are dead, so we cannot cross-examine their testimony.||Tens of thousands of witnesses to the Book of Mormon who are alive today, are reasonable beings, yes, are Welsh, some hundreds of them, so that they can be cross-examined.|
|Not so much as one impartial witness outside the church, to the fact that miracles were performed in the days of the apostles.||Hundreds of thousands of reliable witnesses who testify that God performs miracles in these days through his servants.|
Mormon; and yet, a man recently published a little anonymous essay, full of unfounded tales, and among other lies he announced that no one saw the plates, except Joseph Smith—yes, he asserts this when the Book of Mormon had been in his hands, contradicting him completely. We give the testimony of the following people in addition, because they are as impartial and incontestable as it is possible to be; for they were considered truthful, honest men of high character by their acquaintances until the time they saw these things and testified about them to the world—yes, several of them at the time were good enough to hold high positions in the sectarian churches: and yet, their actions in viewing and testifying about the gold plates in question, caused them to be cast out as wrongdoers, as Christ says—”They shall put you out of the synagogues.” Even so, no one has been able, nor will be able either, to disprove their testimony: none of them has ever denied it, as Peter and others did, even under duress: but some of them sealed the truth of it with their blood, when they were martyred because of it; they were offered their lives to deny it, but they did not accept deliverance, “that they might obtain a better resurrection.”
WITNESSES TO THE GOLD PLATES.
“Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which had the appearance of gold: as many of the leaves as Mr. Smith has translated we did handle with our hands, and we saw the engravings thereon, which had the appearance of ancient and curious workmanship. This we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us those plates, that we have seen and hefted them, and know of a surety that he has got them. We give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen; and we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
|“CHRISTIAN WHITMER,||JOSEPH SMITH, Sen.,|
|HIRAM PAGE,||JOHN WHITMER,|
|PETER WHITMER, Jr.,||HYRUM SMITH,|
|JACOB WHITMER,||SAMUEL H. SMITH,”|
What reasonable man will continue to doubt the truth of the Book of Mormon? What book in the world produces more witnesses of its truthfulness? And would not such testimony be admissible in every court, in every land? And yet, these are not the only ones who are in its favor; out of many, we put before you for the time being the testimony of three other acceptable men of that country, who could not possibly have been deceived, or deceived others either.
“We make it known, with words of soberness, unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, who shall see this work, that we, through the grace of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record [the Book of Mormon], which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of Babel. We know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a certain surety that these things are true. We also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; for they have been shown to us by the power of God, and not of man. And we also declare, with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and laid the plates before our eyes, that we beheld and saw them and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld them. We therefore bear record that these things are true, and they are marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of them; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things, knowing that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall be rid of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment seat of Christ, to dwell with him eternally. And the glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, who are one God. Amen.
“OLIVER COWDERY, MARTIN HARRIS.”
Joseph Smith’s Authority to Baptize, Preach, &c., Together with the Establishment of the Church
In the year 1829, Mr. Smith and Mr. Cowdery, having learned the correct mode of baptism from the teachings of Christ to the Nephites, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, had a great desire to be baptized; but knowing of no one who had the necessary authority to administer that sacred and important ordinance, they prayed fervently to the Lord to show them how the necessary authority to administer the ordinances of the gospel was to be restored; and behold an angel of the Lord stood before them! and, laying his hands upon their heads, he ordained them, and commanded them to baptize each other, which they did. This strange circumstance may seem incredible in the eyes of present-day prejudice. But this is not the first time that the Lord has made exceptions to the established laws of the gospel. If one believes the scriptures, it was in a not dissimilar fashion that John the Baptist was sent out to baptize; neither he nor any other of God’s servants ever went forth to baptize, nor to do anything else in his name, without being sent by him, through some means or other. John says, “He that sent me to baptize with water, he said unto me.” This is his testimony; not only that someone sent him, but proof too that it was some real prophet who sent him, because he foretold to him,—”Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” John, together with the fulfillment of this prophecy about Christ, testifies that it was some prophet of God who sent him. And since there was no prophet of God on earth at that time, nor had been, as far as we know, for some one hundred and fifty years at least, was it not perhaps some angel from God, “who had been of his brethren the prophets,” who ordained him also to baptize? If so, what is unreasonable about sending an angel in the same manner again? It is obvious, from what follows, that the Levites did not possess the authority to baptize, nor did the priests. John i, 25—”And they [the priests and the Levites, for the Jews in general] asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?” There is an admission here that Elias baptized with authority, and that Christ would do so, as well as that other prophet, whoever he was. They also confessed that they themselves had no authority to baptize; and so they could not have sent John, even though he was of their lineage, the son of a prophet. Who sent him, then? Ver. 6 gives a satisfactory answer—”There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” And since God had no servant on earth who had the right to ordain John, he doubtless sent an angel to ordain him, as he did in these latter days to Joseph Smith, and for all we know, the angel may have baptized John, yes, with his own hands; for it is not likely that he would send him to baptize, without first being baptized himself. God alone has the right to make exceptions, and to do as he wishes; and thus did he do of necessity at the establishment of every previous dispensation, as well as this latest one; and did not the religious leaders of those ages oppose such exceptions, just as these things are now opposed?
But, to continue with the story, after the restoration of divine authority to men in this manner, in the year 1830, a large edition of the Book of Mormon first appeared to the world in print. And, as some began to peruse it carefully, the Spirit of the Lord bore witness to their spirits that it was true, and, being obedient to its requirements, they repented before God, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and they were immersed in water, for the remission of their sins; after which, by the commandment of God, hands were laid upon them, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. On the sixth day of April, 1830, in the town of Manchester, Ontario County, state of New York, United States of America, the Church of Jesus Christ of “Latter-day Saints” was established. Some were called through revelation and the spirit of prophecy; and, having been ordained, they went about preaching and bearing testimony of these things, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And, although they themselves were the weak things of the earth, yet they were strengthened by the Holy Ghost, becoming the means whereby many were brought to repent and forsake their evil ways, and were baptized in water confessing their sins, and were filled with the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and they saw visions and prophesied; devils were cast out, and the sick were healed through the prayer of faith and the laying on of hands. Thus the preaching of the gospel increased greatly, and the Lord worked with them as before, by confirming the preaching of the word, through the signs following those who had already believed the word. Miracles do not precede the word, but follow after it. Thus God raised up witnesses to bear testimony of his name, and lay the foundation of his kingdom in these last days; and he does not leave himself without a witness now, but pours out his Spirit abundantly on those who obey him. And, although there were only six in this church at that time, they went about to preach as they were commanded, testifying to the things they had seen and heard, and the people believed them, obeyed the gospel, and received the Holy Ghost, in every place they went. Some of those who were ordained went to the states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, &c.; and Joseph Smith went to Upper Canada, and had great success, so much so that the numbers of the Saints were over a thousand before the end of that year. In some places the leaders, the wise men, and the preachers obeyed the call, and entire congregations were converted and baptized. By now, harsh persecution arose against them, for jealous pastors were losing their sheep: they started to preach against them, plan and publish untrue stories about their characters, such as saying that Joseph Smith professed to be able to perform miracles, &c. The cause of this was that he placed his hands on the head of, and prayed over, sick people who were almost dying, and they were soon restored to health, although Joseph Smith did not claim any power of his own to perform miracles, any more than do any others of the Saints, merely that God found us worthy of being instruments in His hand.
Establishment of the Saints in Kirtland, and the Persecution in Missouri
About the year 1831, the Saints from every state started to gather in Kirtland, a small town in the State of Ohio, a few miles south of Lake Erie. Several of them bought land, and worked it diligently; others of them built houses; and the craftsmen among them went into business, according to their various crafts; and thus they carried on for a while successfully and comfortably. Great success crowned the efforts of those who were preaching in the other states. As soon as men from among the world obeyed the gospel, their neighbors would despise and persecute them, fashioning all manner of false accusations against them, which caused those who could, to move near their brethren in Kirtland. Having increased their numbers to some thousands, they set to building a house of worship, or large temple, in Kirtland, and they persisted diligently, under all sorts of disadvantages, until they completed a convenient and beautiful building.
Soon afterwards, their neighbors were jealous of their success, and they feared that the “Mormons,” as they called them, would be so numerous in time as to have an influence against them in the elections; as though their fellowmen would forfeit their freedom and their civil rights when they believed the gospel; and the only plan they could devise, in order to keep the reins of power in their own hands, was to bring false accusations against peaceful and innocent people. Here was begun that devious old trick that was practiced so much after that in other places, of setting some of their own old cottages on fire, and then accusing some of the Saints of doing it. Then it was reported in the newspapers far afield that the Mormons killed, and burned the houses of, their neighbors. Not unlike old Nero’s trick of setting Rome on fire, and accusing the Christians, so as to stir up the populace against them. It was about this time that the foolish story about Joseph Smith, that he “walked on the water,” was invented. But it was said beforehand that it was a woman called Ann Lee, in the eastern states, who did that; and we remember hearing that story being brought against Joanna Southcott, when we were schoolchildren; but most recently it was attributed to Joseph Smith: and however foolish and offensive the story is, yes, without ever so much as one word of truth, or any substance to it, about Joseph Smith, yet it has been proclaimed in the newspapers and across the pulpits of America. It is also a surprising thing that this story, like thousands of others that are just as groundless, has gained a passage across the Atlantic Ocean, has gone around England and Scotland, and is now traveling rapidly through Wales; it is being helped on its way from chapel to chapel—riding swiftly on the saddles of preachers, from one county to another—mounting the pulpits of one denomination that is just as welcoming as the next; and it is strange how it satisfies the taste of those who have given themselves up to solid error, so that they believe lies, those who do not accept truth’s love. This is such a tasty morsel that the respectable editor of the Revivalist embraced it with the right hand of society, writing holiness on its forehead, and giving it a passport, and as free a passage as he could, in its ungodly task of deceiving his fellow countrymen, so that it might prepare the way for his own carriage. We do not think that it would be necessary for anyone to say that every word of this story is false, if it were not for the fact that some reverend gentlemen like these were trying to sanctify it with their corrupt lips, and thus give it an appearance of truth. But the people have had enough proof by now that the reverends are no better than their neighbors at telling the truth.
But to return to the story. The persecution against the Saints grew as much as their success. Joseph Smith was brought many times before the courts, and he was accused of almost everything that evil men could devise, in order to bring him down. In their great eagerness, the witnesses swore too much to be true; and since they swore opposite things to each other, yes, although he was judged by his professed enemies, he escaped from their grasp each time greater than a conqueror. Since they could not prove him guilty of transgression against civil law, a mob would often attack his house at night, threatening him with death, unless he took the Saints away from there. Once in particular they attacked his house in the middle of a cold night, when there was considerable snow and ice; they dragged him from his house by his feet, and they beat him cruelly, until they thought they had killed him; even so, there was life left in him, and he could hear them discussing among themselves what to do with him. Some advocated digging a grave there, and burying him. They went to fetch spades to that end, but since the earth was too hard for them to do that, some of them went back to Mr. Smith’s house and took a pillow off his bed. After tearing off his clothes, they plastered his body with pitch; then they rubbed the feathers in the pitch, and left him there for dead. Soon after they went away, he got up, and went to his house. His wife had gone to tell people about it, and to beg her neighbors for help. Mr. Smith took care of himself, and it was found that his bones were in one piece, but that his front teeth were broken. The next morning (the Sabbath), he preached to a large crowd, keeping his engagement. The story of the persecutions and the oppression suffered by the Saints after this would be too long to describe here; but since there was no justice or peace for them to enjoy in Kirtland, nor any hope of such, in the year 1834, some of them went towards the west in search of a place where they could live together in peace. They settled in Jackson County, State of Missouri; they bought lands from the government, which they continued to pioneer and to work, and the Saints from Kirtland would emigrate there from time to time, as their circumstances permitted. They soon began to preach there; and the inhabitants had nothing in particular against them or their doctrine for a while, apart from some of the sectarians who shouted after them, “deceivers, and false prophets.”
In the following July, several thousand of the Saints came to settle in Jackson County, and they very soon turned the wilderness into meadowland. They built a town called Far West, in a salubrious and attractive location. The surrounding country was owned by the Saints. They built cottages, mills, and villages; and they put seeds in the ground, expecting to have that peace and freedom to worship God according to their conscience, which the laws of the republic promised each and every one of its subjects. The Saints took care, as much as they could, not to give their neighbors any reason to persecute them, so that some of them had denied themselves to the extent of promising not to interfere in anything pertaining to the state; but others claimed their right to that. Because the Saints had voted in the election of state officials, some of the old settlers immediately agitated against them, and there was disturbance and fighting between some of them. From thenceforth, those who misrepresented the quarrel accused the Saints of refusing to allow others to cast their vote. They falsely accused the Saints of many tales, of being traitors to the government, &c. Some of them forged the names of the leaders, announcing in one of the newspapers that the Saints were inviting Negro slaves to escape from their owners, and come to them, and they would have their freedom. They could not invent anything that would excite the state more than this, because Missouri is a state where slave trading is very common. Although the Saints did not interfere with their slaves, it is true that they did not support keeping their fellow creatures captive like animals; but they knew that they would be endangering their lives, and breaking state law, if they said anything against them. The inhabitants who settled in this part of the state had mostly moved from Kentucky, Tennessee, and the other slave and semi-barbaric states. It had for years been a haven to which debtors would flee, and those who were escaping punishment for their crimes against the law of their own country. They were quite like their Indian neighbors, but much more cruel. In order to fan the flames even more, the missionaries who were among the Indians accused the Saints of scheming with the Indians to come and kill the citizens and possess the land. The only reason they had was that the Saints preached to the Indians who came into their midst, and two or three preachers returned to the woods with the Indians to teach them, and that at their own request. This so incensed the missionaries that they went to the slave-traders, who were only too pleased to have some case against the Saints. This accusation was an excellent basis on which to carry on their invention, especially since their riotous mob was presided over by such godly preachers; and, strange though it is to tell, yet it is true enough that these missionaries of peace did not rest until they had eighteen of them to preach throughout the country against the Saints, until they incited them in their hundreds to attack and kill them, if they did not leave the country forthwith. They burned their own property so as to send word to the Governor of the State that the Saints did it; they destroyed many of the Saints’ houses, they burned their crops, they stole their animals, and they frequently gathered in armies against them, having blackened their faces, dressed in skins, with feathers on their heads, shouting frightfully like Indians; and wherever the hatred of these uncivilized preachers fell, would fall the vengeance of their inhuman and merciless followers. In vain the Saints would call on the government for protection, for the state officials had believed the false accusations that were brought against the Saints. More than once the Governor of the State, with the magistrates, instructed them to defend themselves, which they had not yet ventured to do; and as soon as they defended their houses and their families in the face of attack from the evil men, stories flew through the country that the Mormons had killed some large number of people, adding and misrepresenting until others were even more incensed against them, without inquiring if what they heard was true. In the end, the Governor called out the militia to help the rioters to exile the Saints from the country, at the cost of everything they owned, without permitting them an inquiry or any other justice, as will be clearly seen from the following testimony of an eyewitness and fellow sufferer, given under oath before one of the courts of the state of Illinois in the year 1838, endorsed also by many others, proclaimed to the world to their faces, and one which stands today as incontrovertible testimony against them, and will continue to shout in the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth until he judges his people in justice.
Read and wonder, reader, and then remember that you have not been told half the cruelties and persecution suffered by the innocent and defenseless Saints, because of their religion, in Missouri!
Testimony of Hyrum Smith, Patriarch, Before the Court in Nauvoo, State of Illinois
This testimony was given by Hyrum Smith on behalf of his brother Joseph Smith, who was brought before the courts at Nauvoo, on the instruction of the Governor of the State of Missouri, and who was accused of treachery in that state. It is right to note here that the witness was a brother to Joseph Smith, the prophet, who was the founder of Mormonism. The size of our publication does not allow us to give more than just a short abridgement of this important testimony, which contains the whole story of the persecution in Missouri.
After clearing his brother’s character, Hyrum Smith goes on to say that when his brother was in the State of Missouri, the people who were commonly called Mormons were being threatened most dreadfully; and about the first Monday in August, 1838, at the election in Gallatin, Davies County, Mormons were forbidden to exercise their rights of franchise; and because of that circumstance, agitation and fighting began among the citizens of that place, which caused a mob to rise up in that county thenceforth, threatening the extermination of the Mormons. After our witness and his brother heard that rioters were rising up, and that they had murdered two of the citizens of the place, and would not suffer them to be buried; they went over to learn the particulars of the situation, but they learned that none were killed, rather several were wounded. On their return, they called on the authorities, and pleaded with them to attempt to calm the rioters, which, in writing, they promised to do; and soon afterwards, there was peace.
Things did not continue in this way for long; for very soon the mob began to collect again, so that several hundred of them attacked the Mormons in Millport, a few miles from Diahman, taking away their animals, and threatening them with extermination. They frequently took men, women and children prisoners, whipping them and treating them in the most cruel manner, tying them to trees and depriving them of food until they were compelled to gnaw the bark from the trees in order to sustain life. In short, they did everything to them that they thought would most excite the indignation of the other Mormons, and get them to put up a defense, so that they could accuse them of breaking the law, and thus excite the populace to assist them in exterminating those innocent people. Messengers were dispatched immediately to the authorities, and military assistance was procured to defend the town; but after things quieted down, and the soldiers left, the animosity of the persecutors rekindled, and they rose up in several other places where the Mormons lived, dispossessing them of their property, and treating them brutally. The soldiers in most places were refusing to do their duty. It was thought best now to send a petition to the Governor, and another to Judge King. The Mormons were still in a dreadful state; they saw themselves completely surrounded by armed enemies, some of whom would be under the leadership of ministers of the gospel. They made the Mormons give up everything in their possession, under threat of death, and forced them to promise to leave their country, and go to Far West, otherwise they would drive them there, and then to hell.
While this situation persisted, the answer came back from the Governor and others, informing them that the Mormons could have no assistance, and because they had fought for themselves, that they had no intention of worrying about them.
All the scattered families of these people in all the counties except Davies County, were forced to go to Far West, but not before many of them starved to death on the way. This only increased their hardship, for many thousands were driven to a place where there were no habitations to shelter them, rather they had to huddle together, some in sorts of tents, others under blankets, and many with no shelter from the inclemency of the weather. For two months they were in this state, many of them being killed, while others were so badly whipped that they had to swathe up their bowels to prevent them from falling out. About this time, one General Parks came from Richmond, Ray County, who was one of the commissioned officers sent out to Diahman, and Hyrum Smith and his brother went from there at the same time. After they had all arrived at Diahman, and gone to the house of one Colonel Wight, about eleven o’clock at night, a Mormon woman came in, bringing her two children along with her, one about two-and-a-half years old, the other a babe in her arms. She came in on foot, a distance of about three miles, through the snow, and waded across the Grand River when the water was waist deep. She stated that some of the rioters had turned her out of doors, had taken all her household goods, and had burned her house, and she had barely managed to save herself and her children. Her husband at that time was in Virginia, and she was living alone.—This cruel transaction excited the feelings of Colonel Wight, and he asked General Parks, in the hearing of the others, how long they had to suffer like this? This caused the mob to be dispersed, and their arms to be taken away. But they soon devised a new trick; instead of burning the Mormons’ houses now, they set fire to their own houses (having first emptied them), and sent all over the country to say that it was the work of the Mormons. Thereafter, it was impossible to persuade anyone that it was not the Mormons who were guilty, and the prejudice of the country against them was excited even further. Noticing the suffering of the people in Diahman, our witness and his brother returned to the city of Far West, and dispatched a messenger to General Atchison, stating the facts as they did then exist, and praying for assistance if possible. In the meantime, the Judge of the County Court issued orders to the county militia to stand in constant readiness, day and night, to prevent the citizens from being massacred, which fearful situation they were exposed to every minute. Everything continued to be very alarming. Notwithstanding all this, the people still hoped that the Governor would render them assistance; and while they were waiting for deliverance, praying and weeping, they beheld a large army approaching the town, brandishing their glittering arms in the bright sunshine; and the inhabitants could not but feel joyful for a moment, thinking that the Governor had sent relief. But, to their surprise, when the army arrived there, they formed up into a double file, and dispatched three messengers bearing white flags to the town to ask for three persons to be brought out of the town, before they should massacre the rest and set the town ablaze. The three said to them, “If the people must be destroyed, and the city burned, we are prepared to accept the same fate.” After this, the army retreated about a mile-and-a-half back from the town; and soon a messenger was sent to talk to the two generals, but before he reached their camp, he was shot by one of the Methodist preachers, by the name of Bogard; however, he managed to see one of them, who told him that the other was not there, and that he had sent him back because he was too merciful to the Mormons. The messenger begged him to spare the town until the next morning, which he coolly agreed to do, as he had not yet received the Governor’s order, which he expected at any hour. A second messenger was dispatched to the same general, imploring him to use his best endeavors to preserve the lives of the people, and he returned with the news that many had been wretchedly killed by some of the soldiers of another general called Lucas. These crimes were committed previous to having received the Governor’s order. A little before sundown, another army came in, under the leadership of one Cornelius Gillum, who had been committing dreadful depredations previously in another place. This army had painted their faces like Indians. They would whoop and roar like Indians all night. Early in the morning, a messenger was sent to have another interview with General Doniphan; and on his return, he informed them that the Governor’s order had arrived; and that General Doniphan had said that the Governor’s order was to exterminate the Mormons, but that he would be damned if he would obey it, and that General Lucas might do what he pleased. But it was learned that this order was only a copy of the original, which was in the hands of Major General Clark, who was on his way to Far West, with an additional army of six thousand men. Soon after this, there came into the town a messenger, bringing the intelligence that an awful massacre of the people of Haun’s Mill had taken place, as a result of the Governor’s order to exterminate the Mormons.
The army which went to Far West, during all the while they were encamped there, continued to lay waste the arable fields, steal the animals, and kill them for sport. They held the city under siege, and no one was permitted to come in or go out under penalty of death. Many of the citizens were shot when they ventured out to obtain sustenance. There was one field of twelve hundred acres, which was mostly covered with arable crops; and it was entirely laid waste by the horses of the army. The day after the arrival of the army there, in the evening, Colonel Hinkle went to the city, requesting to see Joseph Smith (Sen.), Parley P. Pratt, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, and George W. Robinson, and stating that the officers of the army wanted a consultation with them, and that they assured them they would not be harmed. They agreed, and went with the colonel towards the camp, when soon they were surrounded by soldiers. They supposed their purpose was to guard them into the camp in safety; but to their surprise, when they were brought to General Lucas, Hinkle went up to him and said, “These are the prisoners I agreed to deliver up to you.” Lucas drew his sword, and said, “You are now my prisoners;” and at that time, the main army came to meet them. They opened to the right and left, and Smith and his friends were led between them, amidst the shouting and whooping of the soldiers. After being thus betrayed, they were placed under guard, and they were compelled to lie on the cold ground all night, and were told that they dare not ever expect their liberty again. The next morning, the soldiers were permitted to go to the town to disturb the people at their leisure, to enter into their houses and pillage them, ravish the women, and take away every weapon they could find. About twelve o’clock, Colonel Hinkle came to the house of our witness (Hyrum Smith), and he was taken prisoner with the others, despite his sickness and that of his family at the time. Within half an hour, one Amasa Lyman was held and placed under the same guard. They were out again that night; and Hinkle came to H. Smith, and said he would plead their case in the court martial, but he was afraid he should not succeed. He said also that there was another court then in session, in which there were about twenty different preachers. In the morning, General Doniphan came to them and said that the verdict of the court was that they were to be shot that morning, but that he wanted no hand in the work, and that he and his brigade were leaving the place, considering that they would be spilling innocent blood. This movement of Doniphan’s made considerable excitement in the army, and much talk among the officers; and the prisoners heard that “the damned Mormons would not be shot that morning, because General Doniphan had frustrated the plan, and that another court had ordered them to be taken to Jackson County, to be executed there.” In a few moments, two wagons came to fetch them, and while they were getting into them, the prisoners were shot at by four or five men, but without effect. The men were secured, and they drove off. After much pleading, they were permitted to go to the city under guard, to bid their relatives farewell, and get some clothing, but they were not allowed to say a word. Then they went on towards Jackson County, and after traveling 12 miles, they stopped for the night, and the prisoners were permitted to sleep out in the snow, from which they suffered severely. In the morning at the dawn of day, they were made to continue on their journey, and were exhibited to everyone along the road, as though they were elephants or camels. They were stared at and examined from head to foot by men, women, and children, only they did not look at their teeth. This treatment of them was continued, until they arrived at Independence, in Jackson County, when they were exhibited once again all over town. After that, they were placed in an old log house under guard, where they were compelled to stay all that night and the next day. After being in the town about four days, a messenger came from General Clark to order them back to Richmond, Ray County, where he and his army had arrived to await them there; but on the morning they were to depart, the prisoners were informed by General Wilson that it was expected by the soldiers that they would be hanged on the road, except that the other general wanted to have the pleasure. They arrived at Richmond on the 9th of November, where they were again secured in an old log house. In half an hour, a man came in with chains and padlocks, saying he was authorized to put them in chains. The soldiers were aiming their guns at them while the man fastened the chains about them. In a few minutes, General Clark came in, and the prisoners asked him what was the cause of this treatment; but he gave no reply, saying that they would be told in a few days. While they were still in this situation, a young man of the name of Grant came to see them, and told them that he had seen General Clark make his choice of men to shoot them on Monday morning; he also saw them loading their rifles with two balls in each, and after they had finished, the general addressed them thus:—”Gentlemen, you shall have the honor of shooting the Mormon leaders on Monday morning at eight o’clock!” But because of something or other, the general durst not carry out his intentions; and so he sent to Fort Leavenworth for the military code of laws, to find out if preachers, who never did military duty, came under his jurisdiction; and he spent a week searching: so the Monday passed away without their being shot. It was strange that a man such as the general knew no better. However, when he had discovered that they were not in his power to punish, he came to the prisoners in the log house, and said he had concluded to deliver them over to the civil authorities, as persons guilty of treason, murder, and quite a number of things. Accordingly, they were handed over to those pretended authorities; and the next morning, they were released from their chains, and were led to the court. Austin A. King was the judge, and one Mr. Birch the district attorney, namely the two gentlemen who sat previously on the court martial when the prisoners were sentenced to be shot. This court continued to sit over fourteen days, in some manner, and the portrayal given by our witness of its proceedings is a disgrace to a country which boasts so much of its freedom and its Christianity.
A show was made of calling up witnesses; and the way they were sworn in was by holding bayonets in front of them, threatening to kill them if they did not swear to the things they were told to do. And it is known that many of them confessed their testimony was false after they had safely escaped from there.
After continuing this sort of inquiry for twelve to fourteen days, the judge told us that, unless we brought witnesses to rebut them, he would thrust us into prison, although we were already in prisons similar, I should think, to the persecution of the days of Nero, or the Inquisition. However, we gave him the names of forty persons who were acquainted with all the troubles, and he placed as many summonses in the hands of Bogart (that notorious Wesleyan preacher who was our chief enemy and avenger, apart from his superior military and religious brother, Captain Clark), who took 50 armed men and, in a few days, returned with the forty witnesses from Far West; and instead of bringing them before the court, he thrust them all into jail; and while they were there, the judge again threatened to imprison us, unless we brought forward our witnesses. At this Col. Wight asked him how we could bring our witnesses to court while they were locked up in jail? That we could not but submit to what they wished to torment us with; and several others said the same as he; but Joseph Smith did not say a word to them.
General Doniphan and Captain Reese urged us to try again to get witnesses there, and we gave the judge the names of another twenty, and he sent the same Bogart and his 50 armed men to fetch them as before; but the people of Far West had realized that this was a trick to imprison everyone who knew the truth, for fear of their cruelties being made known, and they fled the country, so that Bogart brought only one back with him, and he thrust him into prison with the others.
While consulting with each other in the court about what we should do next, we saw a man by the name of Mr. Allen standing outside by the window. We called him, and he came in; and although the judge taunted us so to bring our witnesses, he objected to this Mr. Allen giving testimony until General Doniphan swore with a great oath that he insisted that he should, and that it was a shame for the court to treat the prisoners so inhumanly, that they had locked over forty of their witnesses in the bull pen in order to prevent them from defending themselves. Then the witness was permitted to go forward; but as soon as he began testifying, a man by the name of Cook (who was the superintendent of the guard, and a brother-in-law to the said Bogart) rushed forward, and in the presence of the judge he seized the witness by the neck, and threw him to the ground, and then continued to kick him as far as the door, and then shouted to some of his soldiers, who were standing nearby, “Shoot the d——l; shoot him.” The soldiers ran after him, but he escaped from their sight. At this the court arose, and we were ordered to Liberty Jail, Clay County. We asked for what cause, or what was the charge; but the only answer was because we were “Mormons.” The next morning, a blacksmith came and put heavy chains on us, and they put us in a wagon. The blacksmith informed us that the judge had found us guilty of treason, lest we should get bail; that his intention was to keep us in jail until all the Mormons left the state. I also heard this judge boasting in front of the court that there was no justice to be had for us in Missouri, and that he had decided that the Mormons would not be fairly dealt with, but that he was sworn to fulfill the governor’s order, which was to exile them from the country, and that he would execute it to the letter. Along the way toward Clay, we were exhibited as a show; and having arrived, we were thrust into a dark and dingy prison; our bed was the hewn side of an oak tree, and our food was not fit for dogs; poison was administered to us three times; and the way that we escaped its effects was that they had given us too much so that we vomited it; and had it not been for our heavenly Father’s protection, we would many times have fallen prey to their cruelties. And more incredible still, although it is true enough, they several times tried to feed us human flesh, which they called “Mormon beef,” and a little coffee and Indian corn bread. None of us partook of the former except L. Wight; and I described it later to experienced physicians, who admitted that it was human flesh. We learned afterwards, from one of the soldiers, that they expected notoriety through this inhuman cruelty towards us; but the effect on the multitude was quite the opposite; and when they realized that, they denied it, trying to keep it a secret; but it was already too public for that.
From this dungeon we sent two petitions to the Supreme Court of the state for a trial, but we were refused by Judge Reynolds, who is now the governor of the state. We then sent a petition to the county court, and in about three weeks we were taken out of the dungeon for a few hours, and then back in again. A few days later, Judge Turnham came to us and informed us that Mr. Rigdon could go out on bail, but that his life would be in danger if he was seen, and that he should get away in the night; but that his own life was in danger if he released any of the rest of us. He admitted it was hard for us to suffer such persecution, and that he knew we were innocent, and that the people knew it, and admitted it too; that all this was a repetition of the cruelties in Jackson county, for fear that we would become too numerous in the state. He said that this treachery against us was planned from the governor down to the lowest judge within the state, and that it was a Baptist preacher, by the name of Riley, who fostered the greatest jealousy between us and the people, by riding into our town every day, and noting everything he heard from everybody, and then going among the others misrepresenting us, and that it was all jealousy of our religion. Mr. Rigdon got bail, and escaped safely in the night to the state of Illinois. The jailor told us that these things had been planned against us by the governor, and all his officers, since the previous spring, but that they had been more fully carried out at the time that General Atchison came to Jefferson City with Wilson, Lucas, and Gillum, the self-styled “Delaware Chief.” He also told us that the governor was now ashamed of the whole transaction, and that he would be glad to set us at liberty if he dared do it; but, said he, “do not lose heart, for the governor has laid a plan for your release. He has appointed Birch to be a judge, before whom you are to appear, and he has been instructed how to release you before long.”
In the following April we were taken to Davies county, with the promise of a trial, but when we arrived there, instead of a court or jury, there was another inquisition to receive us. That same Birch who sentenced us to death in the court martial before was the judge, and the whole jury that were there to judge us were the main perpetrators of that cruel and inhuman massacre at “Haun’s Mill,” where so many defenseless men, women, and children were martyred in cold blood; and after plundering them even of the clothes they were wearing, they left them in the field; and the excuse they offered was that the governor had ordered them to do it! The same clan sat as jurors in the day time as made up the guard to watch us at night; and their chief entertainment was to shatter our feeling by boasting how many houses they had burned, and how many of the Mormons’ animals they had stolen, and which women they had raped. They described the tortures, and the way the “Mormon bitches” (!!) resisted their attacks. They confessed that they followed one woman to a schoolhouse, where she was hiding from them, and lashed her feet and hands to the benches, and that sixteen of them had satisfied their monstrous desires one after the other, and had left her in that state. They boasted of such villainy in our presence for ten days. We had heard of such things previously, but they were too incredible for us to believe before this, that there were men in this country who could be guilty of such things. This woman suffered from their barbarity for over three months before she recovered. This grand jury recited their victories throughout the country, imitating the Indians in dance and gesture around us, drinking liquor, and singing ribald songs. Then they would roll on the floor, pretending to swoon, &c., and sang the songs they had heard in “camp meetings,” and all this in the presence of, and the considerable amusement of, the chief judge Birch, who had previously admitted in our hearing “that there was no law for the Mormons in Missouri.” And after a continuation of these things for ten days, we were informed that we had been indicted for “treason, murder, arson, larceny, theft, and stealing, &c.,” without our being proved guilty of any of them; but if they had known of any worse offense, no doubt they would have put it in the list. They did not understand that they were filling the list so that we could receive the beatitude promised by Jesus Christ when they would say every evil word against us for his sake and the gospel’s.
We were sent from here in the care of the sheriff, and four men, in a wagon towards Boon county, with a prison warrant from Birch, without anyone’s name, place or date on it. We started thus about two hours before sunset, and arrived as far as Diahman; and there we bought two horses from our guards, and paid for one of them with the clothes we were wearing, and for the other with a note we signed. The next day we went as far as the house of Judge Morin, a distance of some five miles. The following day we went some twenty miles along the road towards Boon, where a jug of whiskey was bought; then the warrant was shown to us, and we were informed that Birch had told the man not to carry us to Boon; and said he “I shall take a hearty drink, and I shall go to sleep, you may do as you have a mind to.” Three others drank their fill of the whiskey mixed with new honey, and they were soon fast asleep. The other one helped us to saddle the horses, and set off, and after he had bidden us farewell, we went gladly on our way from this captivity towards the state of Illinois, which we reached in ten days; and we found our families there in good health, but in a state of great poverty and deprivation, having been driven out of the state of Missouri by the state militia at the cost of every- thing they owned, while we were in prison because of the gospel of peace! And after all that, those cruel persecutors would have the people of this state believe that my brother Joseph is guilty of treason, when, in fact, they are trying to hide their cruelties and villainies; and yet they are unrepentant in their thirst for more blood of innocence. I do testify that Joseph Smith is not guilty of treason, nor of violating any one of the laws of the land in any way. I do know also that all the Mormons were driven out of the state after being robbed of everything they had, and they barely escaped with their lives: so too my brother and his family, and all this as a consequence of the order of Governor Boggs, the same being confirmed by the legislature of the state. And I do know, and so does this court, and every man who is acquainted with the circumstances, that Governor Boggs, and Generals Clark, Wilson, Lucas, and Gillum, are guilty of treason against the citizens of Missouri, and did violate the constitution by exiling unsparingly at the point of their bayonets some twelve to fourteen thousand of its inhabitants from their land, and did martyr some three to four hundred men, women and children, in cold blood, and in the most horrid and needless way; and the whole cause of it was religious bigotry and persecution because the Mormons dared to worship God in heaven according to their conscience; and as they understood his meaning in the scriptures of the divine truth; turning away from the old superstitions and human traditions of those who taught the doctrine of men’s commandments. And notwithstanding the Mormons had bought and paid into the coffers of the state over two hundred thousand dollars! Although the president of the States and the congress have been made acquainted with these facts, and petitions have been sent to them asking for justice, yet so far no one is giving it consideration, there is no arm to help us, no one to take pity on our complaint, nor anyone who promises ever to look into the matter, nor assures us that we will hereafter be restored in any way to our rights. I do also know most positively that Joseph Smith has not been within the boundaries of Missouri since the beginning of the year 1839. And further this deponent saith not.
The circumstance which occasioned this court, together with the above testimony, years after the terrible scenes it describes had passed, was the fact that the state of Missouri before an election thought they could win the vote of the Mormons for the Whigs by accusing the Democrats of causing the persecution, a trick which succeeded before more than once at the cost of the innocent ; and this time in particular the governor of Missouri gave a warrant to the sheriff accusing Joseph Smith of attempting or causing the shooting of Governor Boggs, when he had not been within hundreds of miles of him for years, and he had no grounds for his accusation, apart from the malicious false accusations of men of evil intent, which was adequately proven in the inquiry, and Joseph Smith came out of that den as he came out of over forty others, completely clean and innocent, with scratches of neither wolf nor lion on his skin.
Who can read the above account without being horrified by the influence of zeal without knowledge, and taking the name of religion while denying its power! Such are the avengers, the executioners, and the torturers of the world in every age and country; and yet these are the stories and the authorities that are quoted and published by authors of the same taste, and are believed as the truth by those under their spell, not only in America, but in our own country, alas. We are in possession of a host of testimonies which can disprove all the wicked accusations against that good and godly man, Joseph Smith.
To those who doubt the truth of the above testimony (for we are not unaware that there are some here too who will swallow a lie as big as a camel, while a truth as big as a fly will choke them), we say that we have not yet related the half of it, and we add one thing which we desire them to remember in times to come, and that is, that their eyes will force them to believe the above story before long, through being eyewitnesses to similar cruelties and violence nearer home, because of the same profession of faith, to the extent that those professing it increase in godliness; and while preachers continue to preach from their pulpits, and authors to publish their tales and lies, and add to them, as they have been doing for some years now, the day is approaching that will prove that they are the cause of it all; yes, they who fan the flame of passion in this way, which, to the degree that they fan it, will spread through our land, and its outrages will be similar to theirs.
Many other testimonies to the same effect were put before the court, and showing more pitiful scenes than the above, but they would be too long to publish here.
P. P. Pratt, one of the prisoners who was in a dungeon for over seven months, gives the following story, which took place in a trial of men for their lives, and which shows something of the nature of those assizes, and the cause of the persecution. Among many other similar questions, Judge King asked the witness,—”Do the Mormons send missionaries to other countries?” The answer was in the affirmative; then he asked,—”Do the Mormons believe the forty-fourth verse of the second chapter of Daniel, where it says, And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever; and the twenty-seventh verse of the seventh chapter as well?” This too was answered in the affirmative ; then the judge ordered the scribe to record that carefully, and that it was a strong point to prove Joseph Smith a traitor; but this was too much for even a Missouri lawyer to bear; even so he remonstrated against the judge in vain, urging him to pass a sentence of treason against the Bible and its author!
General Clark’s Speech in Far West
What follows is a quotation from the speech of General Clark, one of the chief military leaders in the state. It was made in Far West, after the mobs got the inhabitants to give them their arms, with the promise of being left in peace, and then rushed into their town and did as they pleased. This man was not only a military leader, but the chief missionary of a large denomination in those parts, and his main instruments or officers in his army held ranks equivalent to their church posts, and were paid with the beauty and booty of the Saints after that conquest begun by their brothers who were missionaries among the Indians, by accusing the Saints who went to preach to them of trying to persuade the Indians to join with them to kill the people and possess the land! Yes, poor things, however incredible this was; even though all the armies of England and the Indians had failed to achieve this when the Americans were not one tenth so numerous! And yet, this unreasonable accusation was swallowed, like every other one from such holy lips against the Saints, by many of those under their spell, to the shame of the name of good and gentle old Wesley.
The general began his speech as follows; and it deserves to be recorded in every magazine throughout Wales, and the world!
“Those whose names are on this list [which was in his hand] are permitted to go back to your business. The others will go from here to prison, be condemned, and be punished commensurate with their crimes. It devolves upon you to fulfill the treaty that you have made, as follows:—The first thing in the treaty was that you should give up your leading men into the hands of the law, which you have done. The second thing was for you to deliver up all your arms; this also you have done. The third thing is that you sign over your houses, your lands, and your possessions, to defray the expenses of this war; this too you have already done [yes, some were forced to do that at the point of the bayonets!!!] And the next thing you must do is to leave the state forthwith. Your feelings or your innocence are nothing to me. General Lucas (whose military rank is equal to mine) made that bargain with you [there was no bargain or choice in the matter, but considerable compulsion]; and I approve of it. I should have done the same myself, and am determined to execute it. The governor ordered me to exile you, and I shall do it. Had not your leaders been given up, your families would have been destroyed, and your houses in ashes before this [says this gentle Reverend!]. There is a discretionary power vested in my hands, and you are indebted to me for this clemency and lenity [what is it!]. You must not think of staying here another season, nor of putting crops in the land, otherwise the people will be upon you and will destroy you. If your noncompliance calls me here again, you can believe that I shall not be as merciful and patient next time; you can expect no mercy from my hand, but exile; for I have sworn to execute the governor’s order in full. As for your leaders, do not think, do not imagine, and do not let the hope enter your minds for a moment that they will ever return to you. Their fate is fixed, their die is cast, their doom is sealed. I am surprised at you that so many apparently orderly and intelligent gentlemen should be in such a situation; and Oh, if I could invoke the Spirit of the great unknown God to rest upon you [said Satan when he assumed the semblance of an angel of light], and deliver you from such chains of prejudice [his sword failed to do that], and to smash the fetters of fanaticism that bind you [physician heal thyself], that you no longer do homage to man [which they never did to any man but Jesus Christ]. I would advise you to scatter abroad, and never again organize yourselves with bishops, priests, &c.”
Hear this, Church of England! Hear the spirits of the bishops, and the priests whom God placed in his church! Yes, hear, Deists of the world, how fearless is your military brother from Missouri above a crowd of innocent and defenseless people who dare to worship according to the New Testament. What would his father Wesley have thought of this prodigal son of his behaving so cruelly to his mother, who raised him on the knees of bishops and priests? Such a profession is terrible now, says General Clark, and the roar of his cannons and the tumult of his bloody arms bear witness to it; and another thing! The moans of the deceased, the sighing of the widow, and the groans of the orphans, together with the blood of his victims, bore witness, through the heavens, until it reached the ears of their Father, that is the Lord God of the Saints. Their prayers are preserved, and their tears counted there, and are answered to such an extent that his masters from the deepest pit have received a mission to represent their interests after this, so that he was swept away in indescribable terrors to his own place in judgment, and there we shall leave him; but we quoted the above from his speech, as an example of the extremes of deterioration of mankind, and a warning to others not to imitate him in heresy and prejudice lest their end be like his end!
Before his pitiful end, and for the purpose of justifying himself and his supporters for these cruelties and murders, this Clark published his excuse, in which he accused the Saints of the worst things he and his followers did. For instance, he accuses the Saints of burning the house of one woman, and says that she had to flee for her life with her two children in the night, in the absence of her husband, &c. Yes, this was published by him, and the story had a free passage across the sea, was translated and published as true in the “Star of Gomer,” on the authority of such a man as Clark. But the truth of the story is the exact opposite from end to end; only one circumstance is mentioned which suffers the portrayal of one side or the other ; and the poor woman was one of the Saints, and the wife of one of the Saints called Smith, who had gone to the state of Virginia at the time. The attackers were mobs under the leadership of one Bogart, a ministerial brother to Clark. In the night they warned her to leave immediately if she wanted to save her life; but before she had time to put hardly any clothes on herself or her children, her house was blazing above her head, with all she possessed in it. There was deep snow on the ground at that time, and she had several miles to go to the place where she expected protection, which was the house of one of the leaders of the Saints by the name of Lyman Wight, which she reached before daybreak, although she had to cross a large and dangerous river when the current was up to her armpits. But the surprising thing is, that men should be so free, not only to commit this, but to attribute it to the victims! Yet we have the story of exactly the same things in earlier persecutions, such as Nero setting Rome on fire with his own hand, and then accusing the Saints of that for the express purpose of inciting persecution against them, which succeeded in killing and burning thousands of them when they were innocent! So this Nero knew of the success of the old trick. We would not pay so much attention to him, if it were not for the fact that writers give so much weight and momentum to the false accusations of him and his sort; and also so that no one may be dismayed when their jealousy, and our godliness, increase so clearly as to cause such scenes nearer home: it is folly to expect anything else.
After showing our readers a glimpse of another scene in the Missouri tragedy and persecution, we shall go on to pleasanter scenes.
What follows is the testimony of a man by the name of Joseph Young, and his wife, about a massacre known as “Haun’s Mill Tragedy” which was given under oath, with several others bearing witness to its truth.
“On the thirteenth of October, I crossed the Mississippi River on my journey to the western part of the state of Missouri, and I continued my course till I crossed Grand River, and Compton’s FERRY. Here I was warned that if I proceeded any farther on my journey, I would be imprisoned by armed men who were roaming through the country “to hunt Mormons.” I could not countenance such oppression in the free country where I was born, with no cause for it; I claimed my right to search for the object of my desire, which was a healthy and peaceful place to locate myself and my family, where we could enjoy the society of our friends; and I proceeded to Caldwell County. After crossing Shoal creek and going about three miles, I met a mob of about forty, armed with rifles, and mounted on horses; they commanded us to turn back, otherwise they threatened to kill us then and there. I asked why this strange prohibition? They replied that it was because we were Mormons, and added that everyone who professed the Mormon religion was obliged either to renounce it or to leave the state within ten days. Accordingly they drove us back to Whitney Mill, where we tarried three days; then we went along secret paths towards “Haun’s Mill,” where we arrived on the Sunday and found a number of our brethren holding a service. It was understood that the mobs were collecting in this neighborhood too, under the command of one Col. Jennings, of Livingston, threatening them with burning and killing. Following their decision, the Saints prepared to defend themselves; only 28 were armed, and they were in constant readiness for the attack. In the evening, one of the mob came into our midst, and made a treaty on behalf of the others that they and we should do all we could to keep the peace; but we soon understood that this was treachery to take us off our guard, and facilitate their aims. The next day we understood that there were other mobs collecting near the Grand River, under the leadership of that same Wm. Mann who sent us back, and on Tuesday, the 30th, that bloody massacre was committed, which scene I shall never forget.
“Three fourths of that day passed as smiling as the preceding one. I think there was no individual of the company that was apprised of the fate that hung over their heads at the time, and which suddenly destroyed nearly thirty families. The banks of Shoal creek, on either side teemed with women washing, &c., the innocent children playing around them, and the fathers employed in gathering in their winter provisions or in guarding the mills. The weather was very pleasant, the sun shone clear, and the whole scene was tranquil and delightful. But, about four o’clock, while sitting at the door of my house, with my babe in my arms, and my wife standing by my side, suddenly the scene was strangely altered! Beyond the river I could see a large company of armed men galloping towards us as fast as their horses could carry them; then they formed up to fight opposite us; thereupon one of our brethren, called David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers (there being over 240 of them), made a signal for peace; at this they rushed at us, and their leader Comstock first fired his gun; then they discharged a shower of bullets from their rifles, over a hundred at a time, into a blacksmith shop nearby, where our brethren had gone to hide. They came closer again, and pushed their guns between the logs, of which the smithy was built, with large cracks between them, so that they could aim as they pleased at the unfortunates within. There were several families tented in rear of the shop who had not yet had time to build houses, and who were in great danger until, amidst a shower of bullets, they fled to the woods.
“After gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, I committed my family to the protection of heaven, and with the bullets already flying around my house, I withdrew secretly to the woods, following three of my brethren whom I saw in front of me. While on the side of a nearby hill, we were discovered by the mob, who continued to fire at us till we fled from their sight to the other side of the hill; then I hid myself in a secret place until eight oʼclock in the evening, at which time I heard a female voice, no distance away, calling my name, and telling me that the mob had gone. I came out of my hiding place, and returned with her to the house of Brother Ben. Lewis, where I found my family, and two of my friends mortally wounded, one of whom died before morning. Here we passed that night in deep reflection on the carnage and this great and needless loss. The next morning I, and five others who had escaped with their lives, went to the woods to see the situation in the mill; and when we arrived we saw the body of Mr. Merrick behind Mr. Haun’s house, and that of an old man of over eighty, by the name of McBride, on the other side of the house, more or less cut to pieces from head to foot. We were informed by one of the onlookers by the name of Miss Rebecca Judd, that the rioters had shot the poor old gray-haired man with his own gun after he had given it up to them; and then he was damaged in that way by one Mr. Rogers from Caldwell county, with a corn cutter (part of a scythe), and that he boasted afterwards of this great feat. We found Mr. York’s body inside the house, and after succoring these people we went to the blacksmith shop; and there (Oh, what a scene!) lay our brethren heaped across each other in blood, so that one could hardly recognize them. We found eight already dead, and another by the name of Mr. Cox, formerly of Indiana, in the throes of death, and he expired when he was moved. We were in such jeopardy of a second attack by the mob, to dispatch the remaining few who had been preserved (for we believed that they were lying in ambush in the woods to this end), that we could not give our friends the burial we would have chosen, but only bury them in great haste in a place that had been dug as a well. Among others who were slain, I will mention one Sardius Smith. He was a little nine-year-old boy; and through fear he had hidden safely under a bellows in the smithy throughout the massacre, until he was discovered by a man called Mr. Glaze of Carroll County, who, in cold blood, put the muzzle of his rifle near his head, and blew it off in pieces! I was informed by Mr. Stanley, Glaze’s neighbor, that he was boasting of his bravery over this in his home afterwards. The number killed and mortally wounded at this time, from what I understand, was 18 or 19 [then follows a list of their names]. Among those who recovered from their wounds were an Isaac Laney, who had two bullets through his body, one through each arm, and two through his thighs, and Nathan K. Knight who received a bullet through his body, and Mr. Yokum badly shot through his head and other places, and Jacob Myers, Mr. Haun, and several others, who were deeply wounded. Miss Mary Studwell, while fleeing, was shot through the hand, whereupon she fell in a faint behind a log, in which were subsequently found upwards of twenty bullets.
“To finish their work of destruction, this mob (who were led by the most influential people of the five surrounding counties) proceeded to rob the houses, wagons and tents, even of bedding, clothing, and every other thing they could use, driving off some horses and wagons, and leaving the widows and children completely destitute of food to sustain life, and even stripped the bodies of the slain of the clothes that were worth having! According to their own admission, they fired seven rounds in this bloody massacre, which would make over 1500 shots at this little, innocent company of about 30.
“We certify that the whole of the above story, to the best of our knowledge, is true in every detail. (Signed)
“JANE A. YOUNG.”
We could quote a volume of similar tales about the sufferings of the Saints under the oppression of their enemies, all because of their religion, and prove also that most of the zealous captains who caused all this were sectarian preachers; but we shall desist.
The above stories may appear incredible, it is true, to our Welsh readers, because they think that the government would not allow such things to happen; but let it be remembered at the same time what a difference exists between this government and a republic, and at its new frontiers too. One should remember the other disturbances there were throughout every state in turn, and the doubt will disappear when one recalls what the nature and instinct of pseudo-religious zeal has been in former times throughout the world, especially when they have, as these do, not only permission, but the order and the power of the government to execute their verdict, whatever it might be.
Some think that this would not be done in “this enlightened age,” as it is called, unless the victims were guilty of crimes to cause and merit them. But second thoughts ask, What could they do to deserve such treatment? What, to be exiled from their own country, when there is no law in that country which allows exile for any offense? What can justify their martyring without warning, or trial, or mercy, the old as well as the young, male and female, and everyone indiscriminately? What excuse do men need who can do all this, and brutally rape chaste women to death? Those who could find a sufficient excuse for this, could just as properly revel in it without any reason or excuse either! A reason, is it? A reason for all this! If some are guilty, why did they not prove the guilty to be so, and punish them for it, instead of this cannibalism. Not one of the Saints’ names was on all the chronicles of the state as being guilty of breaking one of its laws when they were attacked.
Apart from that, can it not be claimed just as properly that the Saints in the time of the apostles were guilty and deserved the persecutions they suffered in Jerusalem, in Rome, under Nero, and many others? What made them deserve the oppression of Maximus, &c.?
Would it not be the same to claim that the Quakers deserved to be burned, as they were a short time back in Rhode Island, &c., by the Presbyterians? I wonder if our fathers deserved the torture, the imprisonment, the burning at the stake, and the agonies which were imposed by order of the Inquisition, &c.? What excuse is needed to incite persecution? There is enough fire in the veins of those who persecute with an excuse to do as much without any excuse, although none of them were without some excuses, yes, even against gentle Jesus himself; either he was speaking blasphemy, or there was a danger of the Romans taking their country from them, or something else, as these people claimed that there was a danger of the Mormons uniting with the Indians, and taking their land too! And no doubt their partisans related those accusations throughout the world as zealously, as rapidly, and as honestly, as is done with their like in our age. And yet, what difference does it make?
In the middle of winter, 1838, all the Saints were exiled from the state of Missouri, and they made their way as best they could through ice and deep snow, several hundred miles to Quincy, in the state of Illinois, a town on the banks of the Mississippi river, about 200 miles above St. Louis. Here they were received with great hospitality, and support through contributions from the generous people of this state, and several other eastern states; and there was hardly a newspaper or a state which did not raise its voice against the oppression and injustice of the state of Missouri; even so it did not answer the purpose of administering justice to the Saints.
Establishment of the City of Nauvoo
THE following spring, the Saints bought a large piece of land, which lay about 40 miles to the north of Quincy, and on the banks of the Mississippi, a delightful and pleasant place, with fertile lands for several miles, especially to the eastern side of it; these lands were owned for the most part by a gentleman by the name of Mr. Galland (who behaved very graciously at first, and until he received pay for his land, and then became a harsh enemy), Mr. Wells, and others. There were a few poor cottages here built on the river bank which were called “Commerce,” but the spot was considered too unhealthful for hardly anyone to live there for any time.
The Saints gathered here, called the place “Nauvoo,” (which means beautiful), and set to the task of tilling the soil, and building houses, &c., with all their might; and their incomparable industry was crowned with abundant crops of the earth’s produce in the first season of almost everything they needed; and the craftsmen in their turn were no less diligent building houses, shops, &c., &c., in the town; until within the year was seen, (and to the astonishment of all who went by) everyone apparently comfortable, and various works of art succeeding.
It was on being exiled from Missouri, or a little before that, that the first missionaries took “this gospel” to the islands of the sea; so that, instead of harming the work, this dispersal from Missouri, as does kicking the mustard plant when it is in full bloom, caused the seed to scatter throughout the garden, or like the previous dispersal of the disciples from Jerusalem. Among other places Britain was able to hear this eternal gospel through one of the apostles called Heber C. Kimball, &c. And the seeds soon grew in good ground until they soon brought forth fruit a thousandfold, who gathered in Nauvoo, from the year 1840, out “like doves to their windows,” turning the face of the country upside down for miles around, and increasing in all honors and arts correspondingly. It was not long before the jealous spirit of their southern neighbors showed itself. About 16 miles to the south, there was a small town called Warsaw, another about 18 miles to the east, Carthage, which was the county seat; and the others were in league to split the county into two parts so as to have their town as a county seat, which would win them great advantages, valuable jobs and influence, besides a rise in the price of the lands they had for sale there. Their most cunning leaders agreed that they would have to prevent the unaccustomed growth of the new town of Nauvoo, which was already beating them in numbers, in case the seat for the new county was established here; and, without any other cause, they set about in earnest proclaiming all sorts of stories and misrepresentations of the Saints. I do not believe (and I am judging from a personal acquaintance with him) that there is any man more skilled, more suitable, or more able, or who would love the business of falsely accusing, reviling, inventing lies completely, without a word, syllable or excuse in them, with satisfaction, better than the instrument they employed for this work by the name of Thomas Sharp. He had been “sharp” enough to escape from his proper place on the gallows of the eastern states more than once! He had been sharp enough to escape the punishments deserved by the worst criminals; and in the end, under the leadership of the only one who was sharper than he, he made his way into this partnership to fulfill the measure of his untruthfulness, which he did as quickly as he could. He published a newspaper called the “Warsaw Signal,” which he edited himself; and in its columns were to be seen all the most disgraceful accusations which he could have heard, have read in others’ stories, or which his own heart could have invented against the people of Nauvoo, and each as groundless as the next. It was not long before the editors of that country understood who and what he was, and refused to quote or notice hardly anything he said, any more than the neighbors who knew him believed any of his rigmarole. He was not dismayed by this, for he knew better than to expect it; but his main objective was to rely on scattering his rubbish far afield, where neither he nor the “Mormons” were known; and so he was strangely successful in getting far away newspapers to quote the worst stories he could construct in their own columns, and send them with their influence to others, &c. And more than once we have read this “Sharp” quite naturally as in a clear mirror, in English and Welsh newspapers! Yes, we would have known him even if his name had not been on them all. This one is (appropriately) the father of the lies about the Saints while in Nauvoo, and as will be seen further on in the story, he is the main cause of the persecutions and the spilling of innocent blood there after this.
The greatest profit made by this Sharp was by selling himself to be a “cat’s paw” for the Missourians forever. Certainly, before every state election he would always insist on getting Missouri, or someone from somewhere, to bring some accusation or other against Joseph Smith, and all quite without cause: their purpose in this was so that they could accuse the opposition, that is the “whigs” of doing that, and so win the vote of the Mormons, as they thought, on the side of the “Democrats!!” The defenses in the face of these accusations cost thousands of dollars to Joseph Smith. This is what was proclaimed to the world about him, with almost every editor having his verdict about him that he was sure to be guilty, &c., while understanding nothing about the matter. But, J. Smith was proven completely clean of every accusation; yes, even though he was judged by his professed enemies each time; and those authors would be as careful not to retract their accusations while publishing his defense as they are full of zeal to behave in the same way in our country. For our part, we should thank this Sharp for the information we got about the Saints; for it was by reading his and others’ accusations that our attention was drawn to them before we saw them, while living in that country. Through a detailed examination of their accusations, we saw clearly that either it was impossible for them to be true, exaggerating in their great eagerness, or that they contradicted themselves in some way, which led me to reason,—Why does everyone agree to deliver such false accusations against this obscure people? I saw that this was evil work, and that those who perpetrated such things were worse than those who suffered them! And without ever having thought before this that the Mormons, as they were called, professed or believed the Christian faith, or the Bible, I would often ask what can be causing all this against them more than against anyone else? It must surely be some virtues which incited liars against them; and so they must be more virtuous than their persecutors for them to suffer so many agonies, prisons, and losses. Thus did I reason about them for a while, without seeing any of them, or reading any of their work. Among other stories I had heard, one was that “they held everything in common,” “that Joe Smith had been trying to walk on the water,” “that he claimed miraculous power;” and others said that “he claimed he is the Christ.” I also read that the Spaulding Romance, as it is called, professed to reveal the original source of the “Book of Mormon,” and that it was the work of a man of the above name, &c. And although I found sufficient internal proofs in the other stories to prove to my satisfaction that they were lies, yet, I confess that I could scarcely for the life of me, yes, having had concrete facts to the contrary, fail to believe this last story. It was so skillfully woven—certified by so many witnesses, I had supposed, of high character, especially when I saw so many Reverends on it, to whom at the time I considered no little reverence and belief to be due; yes, I almost thought it was impossible for those who possessed this title to say, much less testify, to anything but what they knew to be “gospel.” But how strangely was I disappointed in this! Not of my volition, but somewhat against my will, I was forced to admit in astonishment my mistake; and only then was I able to shake off the shackles with which the men of that title had bound my soul almost unbeknown to me previously! Or to rid myself of the poisonous effects of this story from my mind. If anyone deserved the “blessedness” which Christ promised when everyone spoke ill of them, I freely admitted that it was the “Mormons” that deserved it.
There soon came into my hand, through some chance occurrence, part of a letter written by Joseph Smith’s wife to some religious sister when she was with her husband in a Missouri jail; and I shall never forget the feelings aroused in me by this part of a letter! I saw in it clearly not only that its author believed the New Testament as did we—professing the apostolic faith, and rejoicing in the midst of her tribulations at being worthy of suffering all this for the sake of testimony of Jesus and the gospel; but that it contained better counsel, more wisdom, and demonstrated a more evangelical and pious spirit than anything I had ever read! I read it over and over; I almost considered it the fruit of the ideas of the apostolic age rather than the writing of the wife of such a presumptuous—and entirely ungodly man as that “Joe Smith” had been depicted to me: but the more often I read it, the greater my desire to possess something of the spirit and hopes of its author, even though it should cost me imprisonment also. My mind was not satisfied then until I got hold of one of the Mormons, and, once I had found him, it was not just two or three nights that we sat up to investigate the differences of opinion that existed between us about the gospel; and to my great surprise, I perceived that I was almost a full-fledged Mormon already, which when I realized it frightened me greatly; for I could foresee my popularity at an end the minute I had this despicable name; and consequently, my livelihood and my all. These considerations prompted me to search for sufficient counterarguments to still my conscience, and to reject them; but I shall always be thankful that the task was too difficult and endless for me. I was forced to cut through all obstacles, whatever might be the consequences of obeying the promptings of a conscience awakened in the face of the divine word of the scriptures. I submitted to the divine ordinance of baptism in the Mississippi, that is the “father of waters,” and I know I shall never regret it, if I have strength to go on till the end. Even so, somehow I had not a grain of love for that “Joe Smith;” I could have swallowed almost everything except that he was a prophet of God. I later came to realize that I had formed some strange fancies about what sort of men the old prophets were; I considered that they, and consequently “Joe Smith” before he could be a prophet, would have either sheep or goat skin for clothing, a long beard, and long white hair; that his face would be long and wrinkled, and with a haughty and dissenting air; grumbling quite a lot, and very holy. I almost believed that he ought to be a wanderer on the mountains, never coming to a house or to a table, but living on locusts, &c.; and when he came among people to deliver his divine message, that he would do so in a way that would prove to everyone that he was a prophet! While groundless fancies such as these were contending for space in my mind alternately with the thousand and one equally unfounded false accusations I had heard about this remarkable person, I took my steamboat with over 300 immigrants (Saints) from St. Louis towards Nauvoo. When we arrived a large crowd of respectable looking people came to greet us very hospitably; such handshaking and kissing among the women, and such a hearty welcome on meeting each other rather surprised me; but to my even greater dismay, when my glance scanned the crowd for the prophet I had pictured, and failed to see anyone similar, a large handsome man came up to me in the crowd on the boat, took my hand and squeezed it kindly, saying, “God bless you brother,” several times; but before I could ask his name, he was out of sight; and then he came by again, when I understood that my eyes had beheld for the second time Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet! And although I was so busy I spared some time to gaze at him, and I saw in him everything contrary to my expectation. His fair countenance, and his cheerful and guileless face rather convinced me that he was not the cunning and deceitful man I had heard about; the wonderful love and respect shown to him by everyone, and his humility, forced me to believe that this was not that cruel oppressor who considered everyone his slaves; yes, in a word, I was soon convinced that much of what I had heard about this man was false accusations. I went with him to his house, and he related to me in a few words the story of more of his sufferings because of his religion than I had hardly thought possible for anyone to endure so long. Yet he was as sure of his subject, and as unshakable in his determination as an everlasting rock. He boasted through it all as though he had profited from it, and before leaving his company I was almost surprised how anyone could doubt, if there was such a thing as a prophet, that it was he. Then I saw and chatted with the one who had written that part of a letter that had so surprised me; but that did not contain half her wisdom; around her I saw three boys and one girl, the oldest being about ten years of age; in her armchair in the corner was his aged mother (over 80) of whom he was very respectful. He said that the grey hairs of his old father had taken him to his grave while under persecution. After this I went with him around the city (for it was worthy of the name by now), and I saw them all at their various tasks, and looking like other men, but comelier and more diligent than is common: having circled the place, I failed to find a drunkard, or a place to get drunk, an oath or any dissipation! Could it be, I said, that everything I heard about this place and these people is lies? If not, where is the “huge wall that surrounded the city so that no one could return from it alive” as I had heard? There were not two stones on top of each other there to that purpose! Where were all the “slaves” I had heard of, and the business of “all things in common,” and many other strange things? Everyone here is as free and independent as anyone I ever saw; yes, and each happily enjoying his possessions, the fruits of his labor, his family, his money, and his own thoughts or opinion without hindrance; and with state protection for that. Instead of “Joseph Smith taking the property of others,” or any of the other elders either being supported at the cost of others, as are the “Reverends,” and the authors who accuse them, they support their families at their own expense. Thus I found everything here opposite to what I had heard about this place and its inhabitants, until by the time I got back to the boat I was almost prepared to say that I would not believe anything from now on about them, except what I saw; or else, decide to believe the opposite of what their enemies said about the Mormons at least; and no doubt there are hosts like myself who went there with their minds full of prejudice, and returned from there with a completely opposite opinion about the place and the people. I saw hosts of such as these during the time that we were carrying some thousands of immigrants there after that; and among others the following story by the “Rev. Samuel A. Prior,” a Wesleyan minister, will be entertaining and enlightening about the nature of Nauvoo and its inhabitants; this was published in one of the newspapers of that country at the time.
Description of the City of Nauvoo and its Inhabitants
“Mr. Editor,—I am unwilling to return from Nauvoo without offering a recognition of my warmest gratitude for the unexpected kindness, and the cheerfulness shown to me while I was there. I confess that I began my visit to this place with some considerable prejudice against it.—I have had the misfortune to live among people who look upon a Mormon as being almost of another race, holding little affinity to the rest of mankind. My ears have been so often assailed by tales of their vice and immorality, that I expected, in spite of great efforts to be impartial, to see here many things detrimental to the Christian character, if not disgraceful to society. My friends crowded around me when they understood my aim, warning me to beware one thing, and to be careful of another danger, and to observe carefully in order to get the truth, which I was determined to do, even if I stayed there a lengthy time to that end. I set out on foot, about a sixty-mile journey. On my way I had time to reflect upon my aim and purpose, as well as the condition in which I expected to find Nauvoo and its inhabitants. Having arrived within twenty miles of Nauvoo, I went to visit some of my old brothers in the faith who had joined the Mormons. They received me with hospitality and courtesy beyond my expectations; here I was so pleasantly surprised, that the traditional fetters began gradually to be undone, and I began to feel ashamed because of the opinions I cherished about these people. Although I could not agree with them about religious matters, yet I liked their honesty, their knowledge, and their willingness to examine everything deliberately and impartially, which was beyond my expectations.
The next day they took me to Nauvoo; and at 11 o’clock on that day, for the first time, I heard the “PROPHET” preach. I will not attempt to describe the feelings which filled my bosom as I sat in a fairly conspicuous place in the crowd, who were waiting in silence for his appearance. While he tarried (for the time had not yet come), my bosom was filled with the tales I had heard about him. I expected to see a strange looking man, his countenance revealing grief and sadness, as well as marks of ceaseless vengeance and oppression. I expected, it is true, to see in his face the profound inquiry and the seclusion, the fiery and mystic glances, which I supposed characterized the ancient prophets, together with evidence in his look of the conscious guilt, and the shame which, from what I had heard of him, should have been in his bosom. At last he appeared! But oh, I was greatly disappointed! Instead of the heads and horns of the beast and false prophet on his shoulders, there was little difference to be seen from any other man, except that he was of larger proportions than almost any of the others. Well, I said, although there is nothing in his appearance to take exception to, yet, when he starts to preach, he will prove himself to be all I had imagined. I watched him closely, and he commenced preaching, not from the “Book of Mormon,” but from the Bible, 1 Peter, chap. 1. He commenced slowly, and continued calmly with his subject, while I expected every minute to hear him pouring forth his verdict of condemnation on every sect but his own, and in a spirit of revenge proclaiming “anathemas” on all who were not Mormons; but I waited in vain—I listened with surprise, and I sat uneasy in my seat. I could not persuade myself that this sermon was not an exception to his common manner, because I was there, lest I find fault with him; for instead of a heap of inconsistent assertions, disconnected, disordered sentences, and malicious and bitter attacks on others, or twisting the scriptures secretly and cunningly to serve his own purpose, and weave a web of deceitful reasoning to obscure the gospel as I had anticipated, he made his way painlessly and unhindered through an informative, fluent, comprehensive and lengthy discourse, with skill and wisdom unexpected by me, as though he recognized the importance of his station, and his duty to God and man, which convinced me that he was worthy of the character of “rightly dividing the word of truth,” and giving impartially to saint and sinner their portion in due season. I went away compelled to change completely my opinion of him from his head to his toes, and about his religion and his character from end to end. In the evening, I agreed to his request, and preached. The congregation was very large, and they listened carefully and politely. This surprised me even more, as I did not expect them to permit religious freedom to others; but I later understood that there was as much of that here as anywhere, and that the law defended it. After I had closed, Mr. Smith arose and begged leave to differ from me in some points I had noted, and this he did calmly, politely, and very affectionately, like one who was more desirous to expose error and truth in their true colors, than to take triumphant pride in debate. I received benefit from his teachings, and at the same time my prejudice against the Mormons disappeared. He invited me to call upon him, which I promised to do.
“The next morning I went down to the city, and I noticed my feelings strangely altering, rather against my will; or at least, one stay after another was giving away unbeknown to me, and I was frequently filled with solemnity; yet, I could not but expect that I would obtain through the city sufficient facts to excuse to a great extent the descriptions I had heard and read about the immorality of this place, although I did not believe that it is the sink hole of the country, or that all who dwell in it are the dregs of society, liars, drunkards, thieves, villains, as was said. But having had a good look through the city, I was completely disappointed even in this expectation. Instead of a few cottages and small dwellings of poor appearance, I saw, to my delight, one of the most attractive, lively, and beautiful towns I had seen in the west. The buildings (or at least most of them) were large and splendid, and more pleasing to the eye than are seen almost anywhere. The pleasant, far-spread plain below the high land is adorned with such varied and romantic dwellings, that I almost believed it was all a mirror; and instead of being in Nauvoo of Illinois among Mormons, that I was in the city of Leghorn in Italy, which this location resembles very much. I gazed for some time with fond admiration at the valley below. Here and there the occasional brick building raised its head above the others with a majestic appearance, as though a monument to the artistic skill of its makers, and to the incomparable industry and diligence of these inhabitants, who have snatched it up from the clutches of disease and obscurity, making of it under all sorts of disadvantages, in two or three years, one of the finest cities in the west.
“Amid the other fine buildings which adorned the hill where I stood, was seen the temple, which is being built of hewn stone, and which is already about 18 feet high and growing fast. This will be a large building, and will demonstrate skill unequaled in this age. It is over 120 feet long, nearly 100 wide, and is to be 75 high. It is surrounded on the outside by carved columns, beyond the craftsmanship of the Corinthians; and its entrance is exceptional.
“But in the distance I saw one object which was finer still, and enhanced the whole scene, the majestic Mississippi, which in the swell of its waves rushed through its hollow rocky banks in its curve along three sides of the chosen city, rushing its way to the sea, and snatching large steamboats like feathers in its lap. On the farther side of the river, opposite me, I could see a pleasant land, with its prairies and woodlands as varied as the mind could desire; and with houses and cottages scattered here and there. [Here the author paints this beautiful scene in color and images that we have not the space to include, had we the ability to translate them correctly.]
“I investigated the streets and workplaces of the city to find what was going on. I found hardly anyone as idle as myself, but everyone busy with some employment, and the whole city alive throughout. I sought in vain for signs of immorality and evil, so that I was astonished and delighted at my ill success. I saw no loungers about the streets, nor any drunkards about the taverns, nor such signs on the faces of anyone here as are seen in almost every town where liquor is to be found. I heard neither an oath, nor a blasphemy, nor swearwords, in the whole city, and neither did I see, though I searched carefully, one sad face in the place; but everyone was cheerful, polite, and most industrious.
“I conversed with most of the leading men there, and found them social, well informed, hospitable, and polite. I saw nothing but propriety among them all. Where then, I would ask, are all the proofs of Nauvoo’s ungodliness? Where, in the name of goodness, is the immorality which is proclaimed against its inhabitants? Where is the gang of marauders, horse thieves, ruffians, murderers and drunkards I heard lived here? Where are those cruel avengers who are seeking an opportunity to spill blood? Where are the superstitions that are a disgrace to mankind, specimens of enchantment and ignorance! Where are the damnable heresies, and the doctrines of demons, which I heard so much originated in this place? I am sure that nothing of the sort is to be found in Nauvoo. Those who publish such things must have got the wrong place and name, or all have agreed to invent so many lies deliberately. I blush with disappointed shame for my friends who had informed me of all these lies, and I made up my mind, like the queen of the south, not to believe any accusations of enemies about anybody, especially against the Mormons, but to go, as she did, and see for myself. And, dear reader, go thou and do likewise; and I assure you that, if you have heard the place praised, you have not been told the half of its virtues and excellence.
“SAMUEL A. PRIOR.”
This is the sort of testimony an honest and impartial eyewitness gives about Nauvoo, about Joseph Smith, and its other inhabitants! My eyes and ears also testify that the above is true, for I was there at that time; and I believe that every truthful man would say the same about it. But oh! what is one to think of the characters of others who went there determined to misrepresent the whole thing, because of the enmity and dishonesty that were in them? Doubtless they will be held responsible by the truth for the influence they exerted against it in this way. One of this gentleman’s religious brethren, by the name of Turner, published a lengthy treatise before this, without ever thinking it worth his while to come and investigate as did this one, although he lived in the same state; rather he published the stories he himself had heard, and the reviews of them, together with quotations from the stories of other untruthful men, who did the same as he, the whole thing as contrary to the above account, and consequently to the truth, as light is to dark. And yet, it is not infrequently that this treatise is quoted in this country, on the authority of its “Reverend” and corrupt author. How much more easily lies are believed than the truth by such people! But of everyone else who published treatises against Nauvoo and the Mormons, we know of none which contains so many deliberate misrepresentations, invented false testimonies, and malicious, untruthful, and damaging vomit as the loathsome bunch by that ignoble, unforgettable, college-bred sage, Casswell; but this masterpiece nevertheless earned him a higher title in the ranks of the theologians, with which he was crowned soon afterwards in Chicago in that state. And the most precious pearl he brought with him from that distant land to his own country was, “Caswell’s Prophet of the 19th Century!” But its greatest peculiarity as compared with every other book is that it is more bereft of truth, and fair reasoning, and usefulness, than any we ever saw. And it is not without incontestable grounds that we dare to proclaim this verdict on it either; yes, nothing less than almost innumerable facts. We know more from experience about this man, and his visit to Nauvoo, than we have space and desire to publish here; but it is our duty to the public who swallow it so greedily to give them these few hints, until we have a better opportunity to go into detail. But to return.
The following testimony about Nauvoo will not be without interest. The last was by a “Reverend,” but this one is by a man who does not profess any religion, and was published in a newspaper called the “Boston Bee.” Having enlarged upon the situation, virtues, and morality of Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, and its inhabitants, &c., in agreement with the above, he says,—
“Since I last wrote, I have paid a visit to the Mormon Prophet, and I perceived in him almost everything but the tales I had heard about him. In a conversation with theologians who doubted his right to the title of prophet, he said that he claimed no more right to be a prophet than every man had to claim who professed to be a preacher of righteousness, or a minister of the New Testament. Before a man can be a minister of Jesus, he must be a witness to Jesus; and even though he testifies to Jesus, it is essential to possess the spirit of prophecy, for, on John’s authority (Rev. 19), the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. He who professes to be a minister of Jesus Christ must possess the spirit of prophecy, or else confess to being a false witness, because he is bereft of the essential gift to fulfill his work. And the difference between him and the theologians of the age (he says) with regard to this, is that he professes the spirit of prophecy, which alone can fit and enable him to testify about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the gospel of salvation; and the clergy all deny that Spirit, without which it is impossible for anyone to be true witnesses, or covenanters for Jesus Christ, and yet at the same time they profess to being ministers of salvation! In this (he says), I am honest and consistent, and they are dishonest, and completely inconsistent. Now, see the difference. If they were true witnesses to Jesus Christ, they would confess that they possessed his testimony, as John says that every one of Christ’s servants has the testimony within himself, which is that Spirit which brings a knowledge of Jesus Christ, and of things past and future, which Spirit necessarily makes him a prophet. He said that he did not profess to be some wonderfully good man above everyone else, but he would freely confess that he was a sinner as much as all men, that is to say imperfect, and that one must progress gradually to man’s perfection in the gospel.
“I cannot but inform you, to your surprise perhaps, that he dresses, speaks, eats, walks, and behaves, as other men, from what I saw, so similarly that I almost believe he is a man! Although a man who has been misrepresented to me more than anyone else ever has; yes, he was in all things completely different from my fancies about a prophet.
“They have not yet completed their great temple, and they have no convenient place to worship. Their apostles and elders preach in the houses on the Sabbath and on other evenings; and when the weather permits, the Prophet preaches to a crowd of twelve to fifteen thousand, in a convenient grove near the temple. Once, I heard him preach here excellently on the Prodigal Son, and after that, in what way John was greater than the other prophets, &c.—Boston Bee.”
So that the reader should have from the lips of plenty of impartial witnesses the opportunity to form a correct opinion about Nauvoo and its inhabitants, in the face of so many who spoke ill of the place and these remarkable people, who nearly turn the world upside down, we put before him the following story. This is again an eyewitness, remember, whom we quote from the Palladium.
“Nauvoo, the city of the Prophet, lies on a long point of very beautiful land formed by the bend of the river. From the farthest parts of the fine plain, opposite the river, the ground rises in regular benches of several feet, and then into table land. On the last and highest bench, which is level with the land to the east, they are building their temple, which will be a magnificent and costly building. The boundaries of the town are six miles long and three, or more wide. No more beautiful sight can be seen than the City of Saints. It contains over ten thousand inhabitants, apart from those in the area. There is but little of the prophet in the exterior of Joe. He is a large, powerfully built man, and he is reckoned to be a social, good-natured, temperate, gentle fellow, and in all quite a good man. He has nerves of iron, an eye like the Argus, a head like a lantern, and a heart full of all sorts of things. He is a friend to everyone who is a friend to him; but woe betide his enemy. Much has been said about the Mormons, and yet they are people too like others; and their prophet is a man, not unlike me in appearance. There is nothing in their belief that is incredible, except it be the inspiration of their Prophet, which I am permitted to doubt. The greatest difference between them and the Methodists is, that they have more of the Spirit than the followers of Wesley. When the Methodist shouts hosanna, the Mormon prophesies ; and when the former shouts, glory, the latter speaks in unknown tongues. When one prays over a brother, the other anoints him with oil, and lays his hands on his head, and heals him—if he can! When the sectarian’s faith fails him so that he cannot believe some part of the Bible, he calls on the help of his interpretive or explanatory system, but the Mormon swallows it all down just as it stands, like the whale swallowed Jonah, hat and boots. The former worships a God without body, parts, or passions, while the latter worships the same God that Moses saw, and the seventy elders, who dined with Abraham in Mamre, and who struggled with Jacob, namely the one the Bible describes as feeling rage daily against the ungodly. Quite a difference, too; but the Mormon is prepared whenever you wish to answer for what he believes, whilst the other cannot describe to you what is the object of his worship. You have doubtless heard of the thievish propensities of the Mormons. No doubt much thieving is done at their cost, when their accusers, not they, are the guilty ones. They are charged in this world with many evils which will certainly not be recorded against them in the next. My paper is drawing to a close, and I must pull in my horns, otherwise I could reveal to you many more virtues and false accusations of the place and these diligent and zealous people.”
From these stories, the Saints are not such “satanic” people as their accusers, are they? And where can one find, though one searches, a more accurate description than this? We beg leave to add one more testimony by an Englishman, and an impartial one, it should be remembered. Our aim in enlarging on this is not only to support the truth, and wash away the stains our enemies put on the Saints’ characters, but also for whoever considers and keeps the matter in his heart until the time and the persecutions to come, examples such as these will help the lovers of truth to judge the spirits, and understand their tricks, so that they do not join with them to spill innocent blood through zeal without knowledge, and repent having fulfilled the measure of their untruthfulness.
“I heard a great deal said (says the writer), whilst in my native land, respecting the people called Mormons. I had heard some of their missionaries preaching in England; and although I considered they taught some strange, new things, yet I decided to give them the same fair play as everyone else; and that the best way to do that would be to visit their city, talk to them, and investigate the testimonies of their enemies. I had, previous to this time, been affiliated with the Wesleyan church, and I realized that there existed in their breasts no little prejudice against these people; so I could not give full credence to what they said about them; and on the other hand, it was hard for me to believe all their statements either. Fearing that there was some dissemblance among them in England, which would be more clearly revealed in their city, and amidst their own people, I determined to see to my own satisfaction, whatever the cost and the trouble; then I took ship (although my friends, in their great concern for me, were trying to persuade me not to lest I should be a follower of Joe, as they termed it), and landed in safety in New Orleans; and since I wanted to begin my purpose properly, and had heard quite a bit about the Missouri persecution, I inquired about, and found, a steamboat going to St. Louis, in that state, and the source where I expected to hear the worst accusations against the Mormons. And almost the first question I asked after finding comfortable lodgings was, What think you of the Mormons? At this my ears were assaulted from all quarters by great and small, male and female, with such accusations as I never before heard about anyone! The Mormons! they said, the thieving cheats, the blasphemers, those devilish men! They deserved to be burned every one, said others, with dreadful oaths, and the character given to them would be too bad to repeat. They assured me that they knew they were men of the worst sort in the world. They said that adultery was not only tolerated, but approved in their midst; that they plundered everyone they could, and that blood and murder was to be found in their skirts. And that after stripping the traveling stranger who was so unfortunate as to fall into their midst of all he possessed, they threw him into a dark dungeon underneath the temple, where he was fed upon bread and water, until death put a period to his sufferings—that he was left to die there alone and in secret, and that not even a friend was allowed to follow him to his grave, but he would die like a dog, and be buried as such; but it would be too great a task to relate half of what I heard, and some may consider this sufficient to hinder me in my purpose, but it was quite to the contrary. Although I doubted not the truth or the likelihood of these accusations, yet I was determined, if they were proven true, to sell my life as dearly as I could. I landed at Nauvoo on a beautiful morning in the summer, and I felt a degree of dread when I set foot upon its shore! I discovered a number of armed men coming to meet me; but my fear disappeared when I realized they were a party of young men going to hunt for pleasure. I took courage and went onward, and I felt more at home as I met the occasional Englishman known to me in England. I hastened my steps towards the temple, and having gazed upon and thoroughly examined every part of it, I was fully satisfied that there was no danger of being imprisoned there at least, as there was no such place or anything similar, and this dreadful accusation was all lies, which encouraged me to look into the basis of the others. I found accommodation near the temple, as I chose, in order to have the opportunity to observe everything that went on there; and I resolved to get the truth from the horse’s mouth, so that I would know what I sent back to my own country about this place and these people.
“The city limits are quite extensive, and it is organized on a very beautiful plan. The streets are wide and straight, and cross each other at right angles, which will add to its beauty when finished. On the highest land in these parts stands the temple, the wonder of the world: beneath, as far as the river, one can see shops, palaces, and almost all sorts of houses, creating a magnificent view. Beyond the town the Mississippi hurries on, along which the steamships convey Mormons from all parts of the world to their home here, like doves to their windows. I have often seen them landing here, and the welcome they received proved that the same spirit reigned, and the same love bound their hearts, although unknown to each other, with knots hard to cut and harder to untie. I have heard many a one say—Oh, how happy to live here; it would be happy to die here, and happier to be resurrected in this delightful place. This constitutes their happiness; then why are even the Mormons not allowed to enjoy the objects of their desire in peace when they wish to be at peace with every man alive? The inhabitants seem to be wonderfully diligent and determined; they are busy building manufactories here. They have opened large and beautiful farms on the prairies around the city, and are producing abundant crops of wheat, Indian corn, oats, potatoes, flax, &c., and all in less than four years; I do not know what other people could accomplish such a feat! Already one sees those who landed recently having built fine houses in the city; others on their small farms in the surrounding areas; yes, those people who would never have owned a house, if they had stayed where they were, are soon freeholders here, where they and their children can enjoy abundance, if the endless fury of the Missourians does not burst its banks again. Joseph Smith lives in the Mansion house, a place which was provided to welcome strangers, and from experience I believe it deserves that description. The Prophet is a cheerful, entertaining, and sociable companion, and he understands something about almost everything in this world, and seems as though his home had been in the other. I believe that he has the goodwill and trust of nearly all the people; and his diligence in helping them, and his loyalty to them under all persecutions, and through as it were rivers of innocent blood for many years, have made him worthy of this. I saw the prophet, and his brother Hyrum, standing side by side one day; and I could not but admit that these were two of the handsomest, wisest, and godliest men of the age, and great men of the nineteenth century. We have been in their services on Sundays, and I have not witnessed a more attentive hearing, or more orderly and polite appearances anywhere. It is true that some things in the prophet’s teaching are hard for me to understand or judge, yet he proves them all scripturally quite painlessly.
“I saw only peace, unity, and love, reigning in this young, but happy, city. Drunkards are not seen here wandering along the roads of this town as in almost every other; neither are oaths, curses, nor any blasphemies, heard echoing through this delightful atmosphere; but while noise and predictions about a Mormon war, tumult in the city of the Saints are heard, and talk about all sorts of disturbance here, if the tales of their enemies are to be believed, peace and happiness reign in gladness in this place.
“With regard to the persecution in Missouri, I have not yet found any basis for believing that the Mormons deserved any of it. On the other hand, it is my firm belief that the Missourians did martyr many innocent men, rape and kill defenseless women and destitute children, needlessly, and in cold blood! And from the testimonies that have come to my notice, not only from the Mormons, but also face to face from the Missourians, it seems clear to me that they did all this out of enmity and religious jealousy alone, although under other pretexts, of course; but these they have failed to this day to prove true. And yet these people now and again thirst, especially before a state election, for more of the Saints’ blood! They blame the state of Illinois for allowing the Mormons to live within their borders! But we ask, what blame is there in that? These people are an adornment and are beneficial to the state where they are! Their diligence and incomparable success in Nauvoo, in such a short time, bear witness to that; and, if they are left in peace for as long again, one does not need the spirit of prophecy to foresee that their city will surpass any in the western world. The desire to see the prophet, the temple, &c., draws people from cities all over the world, who bring with them greater or lesser wealth. And, you inhabitants of Illinois, be prudent, and let the Mormons alone now; extend to them protection in the enjoyment of rights and privileges, like your other citizens, and they will soon grow into a people mighty and strong to benefit you and make you blessed; and the philanthropic governor who sheltered them from the fury of their cruel persecutors will be held in everlasting remembrance, his name will be honored by future generations.”—”Times and Seasons.”
Now the reader is enabled to form his own opinion about that Joseph Smith against whom so much is said. Here are seen his virtues, his gentleness, and his great diligence in making his fellowmen happy, temporally and spiritually. This was his main aim and desire, and he achieved it more than anyone else in his time, and with more persecutions and losses to himself, and more obstacles than anyone we know. In the above picture one sees also what sort of people the Saints of Nauvoo were; and oh, so completely opposite to the jealous portraits of their enemies!
It would take too long to describe here the persecutions and the warrants that were brought against Joseph Smith by the state of Missouri, and everyone else who could get the instruments in their hands to bring false accusations against him; for, although they were so numerous, Joseph Smith proved himself entirely innocent of them all in the assizes of the country, although not without much cost and suffering.
History of John C. Bennett
As among every other faction, hypocritical men with false intentions came to Nauvoo; and in order to win trust, and achieve their ungodly aims, they sometimes joined the church. These, when they were sifted through the sieve of petty discipline, and blown away with the chaff, would join up with the Missourians and the Warsawians, &c., to wreak vengeance on the Saints in every manner they could. The conduct, life, and heartfelt zeal of Joseph Smith through and through were too pious to tolerate any of them in their midst, unless they could be restored to the way of righteousness. Among others of these, we note, for instance, one John C. Bennett, who was in their midst a little over a year; and through his eloquence and his false virtue, he rose to have considerable influence and a high position in the city, until they came to understand his secret wickedness. Then he was warned time after time to leave his wicked ways; and in the end, after all advice and warnings had failed, he was excommunicated. When he realized his filth was about to be revealed to the world, he took poison with the intention of killing himself, but it had no effect. After that he joined ranks with the enemies of the Saints, and formed a partnership with the Missourians to wreak vengeance on Joseph Smith, but he failed in this; then he published a treatise professing to reveal “the deceit of Joe Smith, &c.,” which treatise was disgraceful to read. In it he accused others of almost everything he himself had been guilty of. He applied himself to selling this, and to lecturing against the Saints for a while, passing from state to state, and he professed he had left the Mormons because of their wickedness, and that he was, as a matter of conscience, serving his country by revealing it to others, &c. His pamphlet and his lectures were extensively quoted to newspapers, which were sometimes read by the “Reverends” from the pulpits as truth! And is it any wonder that those under his spell formed their opinion of, and acted accordingly towards, Joseph Smith and his religion? Is that not a natural consequence? Then one sees who is responsible for the consequences of such behavior, which leads to the shedding of innocent blood. After second thoughts had their proper effect, everything worked against the lecturer, until he was frequently chased out of one town or another by the rabble who were listening to him; and with rotten eggs, &c., being thrown after him, he was driven back to the west in great disgrace. After this he was taken on as an employee of the Editor of a newspaper called the Sangamon Journal, with the express purpose of that hostile Editor’s filling his pages with false accusations against the Saints; for he was a professed enemy because of his indoctrination. After he had gotten all he could out of Bennett, he turned him away; and the last we heard of him was that he was a rejected tramp, an accurate fulfillment of the prophecy about him; and so has gone, and will go, every arm of flesh that is raised against this divine work.
I would not consider the story of this man worthy of space in our columns, had not authors, even in Wales, published his stories, especially in the Star of Gomer, which filled several of its columns with this man’s untruthful stories, portraying Joseph Smith’s character as more wanton and evil than anyone’s. We visited this Editor, and we showed him who, and what sort of man, his author was, that is this Bennett, Clark, &c., and the great disservice he had done to the readers of the Star, by publishing such things. He promised to publish the defense if I would write refutations of those stories, which I did as comprehensively as possible. Among other testimonies given under oath, I translated and sent to him the following by the said Bennett himself. The Star acknowledged receipt of it; and instead of publishing it like an honest man, he accused me on the wrapper before the country of being guilty of asking him to publish “libel!” And so, not only did he make matters worse, and show his desire for everyone to believe the other bad stories about Smith, but he brought a disgraceful charge against another totally without cause, only because he dared to defend the truth and the innocent; and he did this in such a manner that the country could not judge if it was so or not; but thank goodness for the freedom of the press, for it will bring the truth to light even though it exposes their treacherous deceits against good and godly men. Here is a copy of the article which he proclaimed to be blasphemy! And if anyone can show anything libelous in publishing it, is it not Bennett who is guilty of the libel on himself? It should be noted that this testimony was given after J. C. Bennett was excommunicated from the church, and on the occasion of Bennett’s having used the name of Joseph Smith to justify his own adultery and loathsomeness.
“STATE OF ILLINOIS, CITY OF NAUVOO.”
“John C. Bennett appeared before me, Daniel H. Wells, justice of the peace in the above city, and swore under oath according to the law of the land, that he was never taught anything contrary to the most specific principles of the gospel, chastity, or the laws of God or man in any manner or under any circumstance, by Joseph Smith, and that he was never aware that Joseph Smith ever, through word or example, taught or approved any ungodly behavior. I also testify that he never taught me that wantonness, nor adultery, nor any association with women, was legal or tolerable; and I never heard him teaching that to others.
“JOHN C. BENNETT.
“Attested under oath before me, the 17th of May, 1842,
“DANIEL H. WELLS.”
This is enough to disprove all this man’s false accusations against Joseph Smith after that, as he never saw him afterwards. It should also be remembered that it was after this time that he published all he did. But to return to the story of Nauvoo.
Everything was progressing rapidly here despite everything, with hosts of Saints gathering there from the other states, from Britain, and other parts of the world; and an unaccustomed success for the gospel everywhere. Yet, not infrequently a disturbance was stirred up against Joseph Smith, on some false accusations, and the most damaging and cruel was what later grew until it killed Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum, in Carthage Jail, which happened as follows; and may we be allowed to go into detail with the story according to what we saw with our own eyes to our sorrow; for the greatness of the remarkable person, the greatness and true understanding of the religion for which he suffered so much for over fifteen years, and the truth of which he sealed with his blood, together with the fact that there are so many misrepresentations of the one and the other, all deserve exactitude in this matter.
The Martydom of Joseph Smith and his Brother Hyrum!
There was a clan of hypocritical scoundrels in Nauvoo who were accused of robberies, making false currency, and the like; but it was impossible to find proofs of their guilt for a while, which caused Joseph Smith to announce that he would give five hundred dollars as a reward to anyone who brought sufficient proofs against them to enable him to put an end to their wickedness. Some of them were members of the church in name only; and sufficient witnesses were found to excommunicate eight or ten of those supposed guilty. Joseph Smith’s diligence and determination in scouring the city clean of such scoundrels caused their anathemas to pour down on his head. They often attacked him cruelly, and threatened his life, so that he had to have a guard around his house at night. In April, 1844, several of these avengers gathered at Joseph Smith’s house, and I heard them abusing and reviling him very cruelly and unreasonably with harsh threats, admitting that it was only because of his opposition to them, and his excommunication of them. Despite all this, he did not threaten back, but reasoned gently against them, urging them to leave their evil ways.
A few days later, an accusation was brought against one of their number, by the name of A. Spencer, by his natural brother, of being guilty of cruelty to his aged mother, and her defenseless family. His faction defended him against the state officials, to save him from coming to trial, until they were defeated and he was taken by them to the Court House. Joseph Smith was there; and one of the faction, called Foster, rushed at him through the crowd with a loaded pistol; and when he was within a foot of his chest, and about to shoot, J. Smith saved his life by grabbing the pistol and taking it from him; others threatened to shoot him; and the jealousy of these people was so great against him at this time, that they threw stones at his head in the crowd! Even so he did not retaliate, but the guilty man was fined for the crime of which he was accused, and some of his faction were permitted to bail him out. After that the malice of this faction became worse and worse, and soon they bought a printing press, and set it to work in Nauvoo, professing in public that their aim was revenge against Joseph Smith and the other inhabitants who were prey to their jealousy. They already knew through experience how much influence the printing press had in inciting persecution against the Saints; and this was how they expected it to succeed in fomenting the populace far away into becoming a riotous mob to wreak vengeance on Nauvoo. They published a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor, which was owned and edited by this faction alone; and which contained the most disgraceful stories, and the most shameful and damaging libels they could imagine, not only on Joseph Smith, but also on several of the most renowned inhabitants and merchants of the town, men and women. A verdict against them was obtained, and a large fine, through the law of the land; but that had no effect, because they had forestalled this by transferring their property from their hands, so that they could not be caught. Eventually, the city court took the matter in hand; and after a detailed and penetrating inquiry into the laws of the country to work out what they should do with the printing press, it was first realized by lawyers from elsewhere that the copyright granted by the state gave the City Council (which comprises twelve of the respectable gentlemen of the city, hardly any of them Saints) the right to determine what was a nuisance, and how one should behave toward it. Following that, the Mayor of the city gave an order to the chief Sheriff, who took about forty of the police, and they brought the printing press out of the building into the street, and broke it into pieces. That night it was found that some of the faction had gone away through the country, and had taken this opportunity to say that “Joseph Smith opposed the freedom of the press” which is considered a great crime in that country. They said too that their office and everything had been burned by the Mormons, urging everyone to join with them to seek vengeance. They were caught in their trickery that night, that is the ones of the faction left there for the purpose, trying to set fire to the building themselves, in order to increase their crime; and their deceit came to light through the police finding the fire in time, and extinguishing it before it managed to burn the office; and the others, taking their partners’ success for granted, prophesied it as truth. Thereupon this evil faction left the city, and applied themselves to agitating the people, some of whom knew no better, and many of whom did not wish to know. They got a warrant from one Smith, a justice from Carthage, against Joseph Smith, his brother, and the whole City Council, summoning them before him, to defend themselves in the face of the accusation of destroying the printing press. In the meantime Joseph Smith was informed that treachery had been planned to get him to Carthage, and that he could not come from there alive, and that it was through the said warrant that they would take him there, and that the summons of the other people was only a fake, in order to facilitate getting him there; and the witness said that the same justice as had signed the warrant was to sit as judge, and that he was one of the main ones in the treachery with the owners of the press. After the man had sworn this under oath, his testimony was written down, and Joseph Smith sent it with messengers to the governor of the state (who lived in Springfield, over three hundred miles from Nauvoo), asking for his protection, and a fair trial. Soon after this the county sheriff came from Carthage, with the warrant, and I was standing next to Joseph Smith when he came and ordered him to Carthage without delay! Joseph Smith read, in the warrant, the freedom which is granted every man, that is “to appear before the magistrate who issued it, or the nearest to him;” but this freedom was refused to Joseph Smith. Thereupon J. Smith informed the sheriff that he was willing to go with him to some other magistrate. “No,” said he, with an atrocious oath, “you must come to Carthage without delay, and you cannot go anywhere else.” This proved the truth of his treachery, and Joseph Smith refused to go to Carthage, as the laws of self defense instructed him and every other man not to go to the slaughter until he had to. At this, the sheriff summoned him and the others before justice Wells, where, after an inquiry, they were proved not guilty. The sheriff returned and said that Joseph Smith had refused to obey the law of the land, which was a sweet and useful pretext for them to send messengers through the country in the name of the sheriff to force those who chose to gather in Posse Comitatus to help him complete his job, and bring Joseph Smith to Carthage; and great was the agitation they created throughout the country. The avengers of the Saints boasted that they were vested with state authority, by using every trick, as well as forging the names of the captains of the militia, and even the name of the governor of the state; also that Sharp whom we have already mentioned issued summonses calling the whole militia together to Carthage, or Warsaw, to mobilize against Joe Smith, &c. Within a few days he was boasting that they had seven thousand armed men ready for the attack on Nauvoo! Yes, he noted the day and the hour, together with the mode of attack, and many threats which were disgraceful to the country, such as, that they would kill everyone in Nauvoo, and would burn the city unless they got Joseph Smith, &c. These threats caused the Nauvoo militia to gather together to defend the city; and again messengers were sent to the governor of the state to apprise him of the state of things, and request his instructions on how to proceed. But the rioters’ messengers had forestalled them, and had influenced the governor to believe their misrepresentations; and instead of investigating both parties, he visited Carthage, the main assembly point of the opposition, and there he found several thousand gathered, feasting on the cattle, sheep, and pigs which they had stolen from the Saints, and getting drunk on the liquor provided by their leaders in order to prepare them to shed innocent blood. Governor Ford listened to their accusations, together with their threats (for they did not hesitate to threaten him to his face that he would meet the same fate if he stood in their way in their determination to demand “Joe Smith”), and on Saturday, June 22nd, 1844, he sent the same sheriff with the same warrant and a strong guard with him to Nauvoo to fetch those who were accused. It was night when they arrived, and they received a warm welcome from Joseph Smith, and food for themselves and their horses. He promised to return with them the following morning, if they waited, for he feared that he would be killed on the way by the rioters; but they did not wait, but returned, saying that he had refused to come, and that they had only just escaped with their lives from the city! At the same time, Joseph Smith sent messengers to apprise the Governor, who had believed the rioters more and more by now, of the truth; but the messengers were thrown into jail in Carthage as spies; so with others, and again. Others went on Sunday, June 23rd, and assured the governor that Joseph Smith and the others would come there on Monday morning, it he attested that they would have a trial before they were killed, which he promised very fairly. On Monday morning, according to his promise, Joseph Smith and his brother, and about twenty of us, apart from the City Council, went towards Carthage. And J. Smith could have delivered himself from their clutches in many ways; yes, hundreds gathered around him, begging him with tears on their cheeks, out of affection for him, not to go to the slaughter; for almost everyone, and he too, believed that he would not come back alive. And I shall never forget that scene, when he stood in the middle, and looking around him, and then at the city and its inhabitants, who were dear to him, he said, “If I do not go there, the result will be the destruction of this city and its inhabitants; and I cannot think of my dear brothers and sisters, and their children, suffering the Missouri scenes again in Nauvoo; no, your brother Joseph prefers to die for his brothers and his sisters, for I am ready to die for them. My work is finished; the Lord has listened to my prayers, and has promised me that I should have rest from such cruelties before long, so then do not prevent me with your tears from going to bliss.” And having embraced his little children, who clung to his clothes—having bidden farewell to his wife, whom he loved very much, in tears—and having given the last comfort to his old, godly mother, he addressed the whole crowd very effectively, urging them to be faithful in the way, and with the religion he had taught them, and thus he would be able to meet them before long out of the reach of mobs and every oppression, and that he was about to seal his belief in it with his blood; and had he a thousand lives, it would be worth them all.
After this strange and heartbreaking scene, which no tongue can relate, nor pen write, we set out from his house on horseback, but completely unarmed, apart from some of us who had pistols in our pockets. When on the upland, where the temple was, and with a host following to have the last sight of him, he stood, and looked back at the city for a moment with great solemnity, and then he said, “Oh! city, once the happiest, but now the most pitiful in sadness. These people are the godliest, the kindest, and the dearest to heaven of all the people of the world. Oh, if they knew what awaits them!” But he restrained himself, and after looking over it again, we proceeded on to Carthage. On the way we met some of the messengers who had gone there on Saturday night, and who had been released from prison that morning. They described the rioters in an unruly and bloody state. When within four miles of Carthage, we met a large crowd of armed men near us, quite unexpectedly; and when they saw us, they formed up to attack us. At this Joseph Smith stopped his horse in the middle of the road, and addressed us cheerfully and fearlessly, urging us— “Dear brothers (said he), you cannot come with me any further; flee back for your lives, and may all their vengeance pour down on my head; I shall suffer it, for I go like a lamb to the slaughter, with my conscience clear toward God and men;” and thereupon he was surrounded by soldiers (as we understood them to be) and their bared swords; and the General ordered him to “surrender.” At this, his soldiers, as though they had won the battle of Waterloo, shouted three cheers for their victory. J. Smith addressed them briefly and comprehensively, and showed them that he had never been their enemy, or ever disobeyed any of their laws, and as proof of their misconception of him that he was now on his way voluntarily, and not of necessity, into the midst of those who were thirsting for his blood; and (he said), I ask one favor of you, if you are Americans, do not refuse me! If there is any humanity in you, and honor or human feelings, do not deny this last request of mine! This great favor is, that you defend my life so that I may have a fair trial before the assizes of my country. I do not dread the outcome, be it the most horrible death, as much as I fear dying with a blemish on my character, or for the world to disgrace the religion I profess: will you promise this? he asked publicly. Their General answered immediately (that is, Dunn, he and his army had come from MacDonough County, and were completely unacquainted with Joseph Smith before this), “If this is the Joe Smith whose evil we have heard so much about, I have been completely disappointed; all we heard was lies, lads (said he), and I know that this is a good man, whoever he is, and I (said he with a great oath) am determined to defend him until he has a fair trial, even though it should cost me my life;” and his whole army agreed to the same thing with “three cheers for Joe Smith,” louder than before! After this, Dunn showed a letter from Governor Ford ordering the people of Nauvoo to surrender all their arms to him; and although it was so cruel and foolish to ask this, yet the Saints obeyed, and gave up quietly the only defense of their lives they possessed, at the request of the governor, who, at the request of the rioters, facilitated their murderous intentions. It is strange that the governor would do this without disarming the attackers, unless he was of the same heart and mind as they! We turned back to Nauvoo; all the arms and cannons were collected together; and in the afternoon, we set out again for Carthage, which we reached alive by midnight, although the rioters had tried to kill Joseph Smith, despite the soldiers. We took lodging in the Hamilton House, and the following morning we met Governor Ford, and he promised the prisoners protection and justice. At the request of the armies, General Demming appeared before them with J. and H. Smith; for hardly any of them had seen them before, or known anything about them except the tales of the rioters. This caused quite a commotion in the ranks of the “Carthage Greys” army of Captain Smith (the same justice who issued the warrant, and who, with his army constituted the main rioters), because they considered that too much respect for the prisoners. Eventually, by threatening to order the other armies to imprison them, the “Carthage Greys” were quelled. In the afternoon an inquiry was held in the Hamilton house, because it was too dangerous for the prisoners to appear in the Court House. Because of the fury of the rioters, they chose to post bail for their appearance at the Quarter Session rather than go on trial. They finished posting bail, and the City Council was allowed to return home; but the bloodthirsty traitors had prepared another arrest for J. and H. Smith, by appointing two of their number, by the names of H. O. Norton and A. Spencer (who was the cause of the aforementioned disturbance in the “Court House”) to swear a warrant against them for treason against the state. At this the sheriff insisted on transferring them to prison immediately, without trial or anything; but the rioting in the streets was such that they refused to go without an escort to defend them, and after it got dark, the Carthage Greys came to the house, and defended them as far as the jail, in the midst of threats, oaths, and curses. The prisoners had asked some of us to follow them to the jail for the sake of having our company, they said; but I could see before that that it was in order to be proven witnesses of their words, their behavior, and their character, until death, that we followed them; and we are grateful that we had such an honor, and woe betide us if we do not make the proper use of it. We were all locked up together in a dungeon, which was about ten feet square; and here we spent the first evening of our imprisonment in sweet conversation about “the mystery of godliness;” and such joy possessed them when they foretold that they were both about to finish their race, and go to enjoy it. I never saw them more cheerful and intent on heaven, nor did I ever before think of Carthage Jail as the gate of paradise.
The next morning, we were all moved to the room above the jailer’s house, to which stairs led from the outside door; the upper room had a very poor door, with neither a lock nor any sort of latch on it, apart from the fact that there were three large windows there, through any of which whoever wished could shoot into every corner of the room. We understood there was agitation among the mobs because they had thrown the men into jail without any kind of inquiry, although the justice had perjured himself by signing on their mittimus that there was; and so they could not get them out of the jail when they wished without the permission of the jailer; who, seeing their desire to kill the prisoners, and that many were hiding in the hillocks with their guns ready to shoot them as soon as they came out of the door, refused them. Again and again the sheriff came to ask for them under the pretext of going to the Court House for trial, and the jailer refused to let them out until one or two of the leaders of the mobs agreed to walk arm in arm with the prisoners; for he considered that escort stronger than the “Carthage Greys,” and the whole lot; and in this way they went about half a mile towards the Court House amid such shouts and threats from the drunkards, and the curses of those who were thirsting for their blood, until I imagined it was not unlike that bloody scene on Calvary, and I heard words quite similar to those used there to taunt, such as, “Now, old Joe (said some to his face), if you are a prophet, how did you come into custody like this?” Another answered, “Oh, if Joe were a prophet, he would soon call for a host of angels, kill us all, and escape.” Yes it was inane remarks like these that filled his ears along the way to the Court House, where their professed enemy again sat in judgment on them, with his hostile partners as witnesses, and lawyers against them. Only with earnest pleading from the prisoners’ lawyers, Messrs Reid from Fort Madison, and Woods from Burlington, was a postponement of the trial to the next day obtained, so that the witnesses, who lived about twenty miles away, could be brought there. At last this was permitted, and the prisoners were taken back to the jail. The magistrate shied away from signing the subpoenas to fetch the witnesses for the defense, although he knew no one else there could do so, until he thought it was too late for that. The jail was watched by eight or ten of Captain Dunn’s retinue, who were the least prejudiced of all; and thanks to the efforts of the prisoners and the rest of us in preaching to them, they believed our testimony to the point of admitting that the accusations brought by the rioters were lies with the express purpose of revenge on J. Smith. Not infrequently they were heard persuading each other to return to their homes, and that they would not join the mobs to persecute any more. After that, other guards would come, to whom we would preach in the same manner. The occasional one would be so vengeful that he would not let Joseph Smith speak, while at the same time they would listen to the others.
About twelve o’clock that night, we lay down to sleep as follows:— Hyrum Smith, and Dr. Willard Richards, in the bed; Joseph Smith on one side of me, and John Taylor on the other; Col. Markham and another brother, next to him, lying on mattresses on the floor; and that is all there were of us. We expected nothing less than an attack on us nearly every hour; even so, the only defense we could provide was to set a chair across the door in such a way that it would fall if the door was opened. I had not yet fallen into a deep sleep when I heard a sound like the heavy tread of an army approaching us. I got up, and I looked through the window, from where I could see, by the light of the stars, an army already opposite the door! I listened to what they were saying; but they were whispering so softly that I could scarcely hear anything but this, “What number shall go in?” When I heard this, I awoke my brethren; but there was no need to tell them why, for the sound of their feet rushing up to our door already signalled that it was time to beware. We stood by the door to attack the first one who opened it, and we could clearly hear them breathing outside. It was as quiet as the grave for a minute or two, as we expected a shower of bullets perhaps in our midst; and then J. Smith asked bravely and loudly who was there, and what they wanted. He invited them in, saying we were ready to receive them, and that it made no difference to him whether he died then or after daybreak, &c. At that they stole down quietly; and from then till daylight they were conferring opposite our windows about what they should do. Sometimes they decided to rush in on us; but before they reached the door, perhaps another faction would restrain them; and so they continued until the assassin’s terror, daylight, dispersed them all except for about eight of the “Carthage Greys,” who stayed there as guards. In the morning I went, at the request of J. Smith, to the lower door to inquire who and what were behind that disturbance in the night. I addressed my questions to the officer of the guards, who answered me with horrible curses, that the prisoners could never come out alive; that I should see before night that he was a better prophet than Joe Smith; that I was not a jot better than he, nor was anyone else who supported him. At this I reminded the gentleman who and what he was, that Governor Ford had under the oath of the state promised protection to the prisoners, and had put their lives in his hands, and that I would inform the governor of his threats, which greatly enraged him. I went to the Hamilton House and revealed all to Governor Ford, and I reminded him of his promise to protect the prisoners, requesting him to put others to guard them instead of the Carthage Greys, who were thirsting for their blood; but it was in vain, he suggested there was no danger whatsoever. After that I went into the midst of a large crowd of the rioters, and heard their publicly proclaimed decision to make a pretense of leaving until Governor Ford left, and then they would return, and were determined to kill “Joe Smith,” even if they had to tear down the jail. Having heard such a sentence being sealed on the innocent with three cheers from everyone, I returned, and related everything to Governor Ford; but again he did not consider it worth his notice! I hurried to inform the prisoners of these things, but the guard would not let me back in. The prisoners earnestly beseeched them to let me in, saying that the governor had permitted that (which he had promised when he visited the prison the day before); but all in vain. I returned a third time to the governor, describing the danger they were in, and I requested a pass from him to go in; he refused this too, even though I followed him until he was on his horse setting off with the escort towards Nauvoo; but he did order General Demming to give me a pass for Willard Richards, as secretary to the prisoners, but to no one else.
The governor left about eleven o’clock, leaving eight of the Carthage Greys to guard the jail, and about sixty others in the town to keep a lookout with them. And then their aims became clear; the people would come back to the town in hosts howling and threatening; and not only threatening, but preparing for the bloody slaughter. I myself was the only Mormon in their midst, and great were their threats to me; they gathered around me in droves; and not infrequently they aimed stones at me, because I dared to defend the prisoners, and dared them to allow them to have a trial the next day by the law of their land, as is the right of every man; and I reproached them with the fact that they had given themselves up to them on that understanding, and they were now in their power, and if they could prove them guilty, I would agree with the verdict with all my heart, &c. While I was pleading like this, one of their chief leaders admitted, “that nothing could be proven to convict them, and that the law of the land could not reach them, but powder and balls will.” At this one of the guards came to inform me that “Joe Smith” was asking for me, and although the guards would not allow me to go into the jail, nor J. Smith to come out, yet they allowed Willard Richards to come, whom I informed about everything I understood of the intentions of the mobs to kill them before nightfall. He told me that I was in greater danger outside, and he put a letter in my hand, with Joseph Smith’s request to take it to Quincy (about sixty miles away), and to return as fast as I could. News of the letter went through the mobs like the wings of the breeze, and some claimed it was orders to the “Nauvoo Legion” to come there to save the prisoners; and others claimed some other things. When I was asking for my horse to be made ready, some swore that I should not go from there alive unless I gave them the letter; but they could not agree on this, which was just as well for me, for I had decided to die rather than release it from my hand. Then they split into two or three groups; one group wanted to chase me out of there immediately, letter and all, another group threatened that I would not reach Nauvoo alive; and at this I saw several with their guns in their hands, running across the fields to the nearby woods, through which the road to Nauvoo passed, and although I understood their intention, yet I could not see how I should be saved, yet salvation would come somehow, I doubted not a bit. While they were quarreling amongst themselves, and my horse was ready nearby, I saw my chance, and it was no time after I reached the saddle before the horse and I were out of their sight in the middle of a cloud of dust, with the bullets whistling through the air everywhere except where they wanted. Before I had time to think about the road that lay ahead of me, which was almost completely unfamiliar to me, I found myself in the prairie hurrying towards Warsaw, instead of on the road to Nauvoo; I realized my mistake after having a look at the surrounding countryside, and I crossed the prairies to the right road. Later I found out that my life had been saved, through the horse’s mistake, from those who were watching me in the woods; and also from the other side, I understood that I was as it were between two fires, because if I had gone a mile further without turning from the Warsaw road, I would doubtless have been killed by about 300 of the cruelest of the mobs, who were coming along that road to Carthage, and who killed the prisoners within less than two hours from then! But I proceeded on my way, leaving Governor Ford and his escort; I arrived at Nauvoo before sunset, and waited for a steamboat to go towards Quincy. While I was waiting here, the Governor arrived, and I heard his speech to a large crowd of people; and its content was not directed at, nor worthy of, anyone but the rioters. He told with relish the unfounded tales of the mobs, as though he believed them to be true, and then he said in the hearing of the wives, children, and dear friends of those godly men, who were being cruelly murdered at that very moment, and he threatened loudly, “a severe atonement must be made.” The governor’s officials were heard urging him to hasten from there assuring him that the deed (that is the assassination) was sure to have been accomplished by that time, and that is why he and his army hurried from Nauvoo as soon as they could instead of waiting until the next day as he had promised to do. It is unlikely that there was as much sadness in any city in the world as reigned throughout Nauvoo at this time. Any messenger who might come was eagerly awaited, and yet they dreaded hearing what they feared so much; but not a single messenger returned that night from Carthage. Towards the middle of the night, a steamboat came down the river, and I went on it towards Quincy (40 miles), and the boat called at Warsaw on its way before daylight, and great was the excitement there! The passengers on the boat were informed with great delight that “Joe Smith, and his brother Hyrum had been killed in Carthage Jail;” and Oh, how sweet was the news to their lips! That “Sharp” fellow again had published an extra with great haste, accusing the Mormons of having gone to Carthage to save the prisoners, and saying that the guard in the fulfillment of their duty had shot J. and H. Smith lest they escape, when, in fact, I was the last Mormon to be in Carthage, and was driven out at bayonet point, as it were! Yes, when in fact it was this very “Sharp” himself who was leading the ones who had killed them, and boasting, “that he had put one bullet through old Joe;” and while his fingers were still dripping with innocent blood, he announced to the world that it was the Saints who did it, inviting everyone from everywhere to gather to defend Warsaw; that the Mormons had already burned Carthage to ashes, and killed its inhabitants, General Ford and all, and that they expected them to burn Warsaw at any minute! Yes, he published this in his paper, and sent messengers to the other Counties to call the militia to defend them, when in fact he knew that he was in no danger at all from the Saints, and I heard, when I was there, his party admitting and praising the cunning of “Sharp’s” trick to get people there; and that “to attack the city of Nauvoo, and kill or exile the d-m-d Mormons was their objective.” This incorrect account of the killing of J. and H. Smith flew across the world; and we do not believe that the truth has yet caught up with it. This is an example of all the accusations of this Sharp and his party against the Saints. I was rash enough to contradict him there on the bank, from what I knew; and if the boat had not been at my side for me to jump into, they would have killed me too for that. After reaching Quincy, I could see that Sharp’s messengers had arrived and had stirred up the whole city, to the point that they were expecting the Mormons there to kill them too; and the militia were busy preparing to go to save Warsaw, as they thought. As soon as I had the opportunity, with the people gathered together, I opposed those lying messengers to their faces; and then the people saw that they were in no danger, and that none of the Mormons had even raised a hand to any of them, or was about to, and everyone returned to his business, and I went with another steamboat towards Nauvoo, which I reached by eight o’clock the next morning.
Oh! what a mournful sight was seen in Nauvoo that day! There never was, and there never will be, its like; everyone sad in the streets, all the shops closed, and all business forgotten. Onward I quickened my steps, until I reached the house of the late Joseph Smith. I pushed through the grieving crowd, until I reached the room where his body and his brother’s had been placed (for they had been brought from Carthage the previous day); there they lay in their coffins, side by side; noble men, as they had suffered, side by side, from one prison to another for years, and had worked together, shoulder to shoulder, to build the kingdom of the Immanuel; eternal love had bound them steadfastly to each other and to their God until death; and now my eyes beheld the blood of the two godly martyrs mingling in one pool in the middle of the floor—their old mother, pious and sorrowful, on her knees in the middle of it between the two, with a hand on each of her sons who lay in gore—her heart almost breaking with excruciating agonies and indescribable grief. At the head of the deceased sat the dear wife of each one, and around their father stood four of Joseph’s little children, and six of Hyrum’s children, crying out from time to time, “My dear father;” “And my dear father,” said the others, with no reply but the echo from the walls, “Oh my father,” and from the hearts of the mothers, “My husband killed,” and the old mother groaning sadly, “Oh my sons, my sons.”
Eagerly and sorrowfully the thousands pushed forward in turn, to have a last look at their dear brethren, whose profound counsels, and heavenly teaching, had been music to their ears, a light to their paths, and a joy to their hearts many times. In the streets round about, there reigned almost the stillness of the grave; but all, rich and poor, had crystal tears streaming down their cheeks. Even the sun and the elements had become still as if in surprise, and all of nature looked at the man’s endless fury towards the finest on earth in every age and part of it. I shall always remember my feelings at the time. Now I saw the two men of greatest virtue and wisdom on earth without doubt, whom I saw just now it seemed preaching tenderly, from between the iron bars of their prison, the gospel of peace to those who sought to kill them; the two stood like two reeds in the midst of storms as witnesses to Jesus, despite the jealous rage of the press, the pulpits, and the mobs of the age, straightening like the reed with its head up after each breeze by despising profit and worldly fame, they held steadfastly to their aim until they finished their work, and like their elder brothers, and their Leader before them, they did not love their lives unto death, they did not refuse to face knowingly the slaughter; but leapt on the bloody altar which they saw awaiting them in Carthage, “that they might have a better resurrection.” But what pen can describe that scene and the feelings of the thousands of mourners? The only comfort which sustained them from sinking under the oppression and the loss was that a day of swift reckoning on this was coming soon, that he who has the just scales in his hand perceives it all and will——, but I shall restrain myself. It is easier for the reader to imagine this scene and its consequences than it is for me to describe them.
The two were buried secretly together, for rewards of several thousand dollars were already being offered by their enemies for their heads!! But to return to Carthage and the story, from whence I escaped about three o’clock in the afternoon, on the 27th. The following picture will show the attack on the jail, and the situation of the place, clearly; it was written by one of the four who were there at the time, namely Dr. Willard Richards.
Story of the Assassination.
“Two Minutes in the Jail.”
“Possibly the following took three minutes to be accomplished, although I do not think it was more than two; and I wrote it at the request of, and as an explanation to my friends.
CARTHAGE, June 27th, 1844.
“A shower of bullets was shot up the stairway to the door of our prison in the second story, and we heard the sound of many footsteps rushing up. We closed the door, and stood inside against it, to keep it closed, there being no lock or latch on it that was usable. The door is of thin pine; as soon as the sound of footsteps reached the top of the stairs, they fired through the door, and the first ball passed between us, and showed that they were assassins. At this we changed our attitude. Mr. Joseph Smith, Mr. Taylor, and myself sprang back to the other side of the room, and Mr. Hyrum Smith retreated two-thirds across the chamber opposite, facing the door, when a ball was fired from the door, which went through his head; then he fell backwards extended at length, without moving his feet. From the holes in his clothes and subsequently his body, it appears that another ball shot him through the window at the time, which entered his back, passed through his body, lodging in his watch, which was in the right pocket of his waistcoat, shattering it into pieces. The two balls must have hit him at the same instant. When he fell, he said clearly, “I’m a dead man.” Joseph looked at him, and then said, “Oh! my dear brother Hyrum!” Then, opening the door a few inches with his left hand, he discharged a six shooter at random into the entry, from whence at that moment came a ball, which tore open Hyrum’s breast, and entered his head under his jaw, and went out through the top of his head, while other muskets were aimed at him simultaneously, and some other balls went through him from the door. Joseph continued to fire his revolver in their faces, standing to one side, and reaching his hand around the casing of the door, but three barrels missed fire. Mr. Taylor stood by his side with a stick in his hand, with which he hit the points of the bayonets and the muzzles of the guns that were pushed in the door. By his side I stood with another stick, but I could not come within striking distance without being in the muzzle of the guns. After the revolver failed, we had no means to defend ourselves; and as we expected a rush of the mob into the room at any minute, and the door was already half full of muskets, pushing forward into the room, and with no hope from anywhere of saving our lives, Mr. Taylor rushed to the window, which is some 12 or 15 feet above the ground outside. When he was about to jump out, a ball from within was shot into his thigh, and at the same instant another ball from without was fired, which hit his watch, which was in the left pocket of his waistcoat, shattering it into pieces, and leaving the hands standing at 5 o’clock, 16 minutes, and 26 seconds. The force of this shot threw him back into the room, and he fell to the floor, and rolled under the bed which stood by his side, where he lay as though dead. Nevertheless the mob at the door continued to fire upon him, and tore away a piece of flesh from his thigh bigger than a man’s hand, although I tried my best to save him by hitting and knocking down their guns with my stick. They thrust their guns in at an angle, until they nearly reached us, when we were in the corner by the door, whence I beat their guns with my stick. As a last resort, Joseph ventured to the window from which Taylor had fallen; but almost before he reached it, two balls pierced him from the door, and another from outside through the window which entered near his heart; and he fell outward, where bayonet points received him, and he cried out clearly, ‘O LORD MY GOD.’
“No sooner had his feet gone out of the window than my head went in, the balls whistling all around. At this the cry was raised, “He’s leaped the window,” and those who were near the door, and on the stairs, ran out. I withdrew from the window when I saw it would be of no use to follow him, and leap on over a hundred bayonets, which had by now gathered around Joseph Smith’s body. Still unwilling to leave him, I again reached my head out, and watched carefully for a while to see if there were any signs of life in him; regardless of my own safety, I made up my mind that I would see the end of him I loved as myself. Being satisfied that he was already dead, with over a hundred of the rioters rushing towards him, and more coming from the other side of the jail; and as I expected every second that they would return to the jail, I ran to the iron door of the cell which was next to the door of our room, and where they still stood shooting, to see if it was locked. When I was near it, Mr. Taylor shouted to me, “Take me with you;” and having seen that those bars were open, I returned, and carried Mr. Taylor there, that is to the inner prison, and stretched him on the floor, and covered him with a mattress, so that he would not be noticed, for I expected the mob to come in any second. I remarked to Mr. Taylor,—’This is rather a hard bed, but if your wounds are not fatal, I hope you can live to tell the story.’ I expected to be shot every instant, and I stood in the door ready for whatever might come.
The mob, having realized that they had killed Joseph Smith, withdrew in haste, taking three with them, who were mortally wounded and who died wretchedly soon afterwards.
These rioters had come mostly from Warsaw, and were led by “ Thomas Sharp,” and other Press owners. They were about 300 in number, and had colored their faces black, red, and yellow, so that they would not be recognized. Messengers went from there to Nauvoo to tell what they had done, and were turned back by Governor Ford on the way. The following describes the scene in Carthage at the time.
“12 o’clock at night, Hamilton Inn, Carthage.
“To Mrs. Emma Smith, and Maj. Gen. Dunham, &c.
“Governor Ford has just arrived; he promises to look into everything and make matters straight.
“I say to the citizens of Nauvoo—My dear brethren, be prudent; recognize that the “Lord reigns.” Do not rush out of the city, do not gather together in Carthage; stay at home, and prepare for an attack on you from Missouri. The Governor promises all the help he can give: he has already sent for soldiers: Joseph and Hyrum have been killed, but not by citizens of Carthage, from what I understand.
“We shall prepare the bodies to be brought home as soon as we can.
“The people of the area are very frightened, and fear that the Mormons will come here seeking vengeance. I have given my word for the Mormons, that they will stay home peacefully as soon as they can be informed; and that no one is in danger from them, and again I beseech my brethren in Nauvoo, in the name of the Lord our God, be prudent, patient, and forebearing, in this again, as you have always been; let only a few of our friends who choose come here to see the bodies and to help to take them home. Mr. Taylor’s wounds have been treated, and they are not fatal. I am in good health.
“SAMUEL H. SMITH.”
“N.B. Defend yourselves until I can send assistance to you, June 27th, 1844.
“THOMAS FORD, Governor of the State.
This was rather cold comfort from that same governor who forced the Saints to give up, at the request of the mob, all the arms they possessed to DEFEND themselves, was it not? How were they to defend themselves, their wives, and their children, even in their own homes, from such people, when he had disarmed them, as if it were purposely to give the others a chance to fulfill their aims. Let everyone form his own opinion of him according to his actions, his speech in Nauvoo, in the prison, and all else.
Here is the letter of one of the leaders of his army, who was accused by the mob of being partial to the Mormons, because of his attempt to administer justice, rather than joining with them.
“Mr. Orson Spencer,
“Dear Sir,—Be so good as to ponder this important matter, and to moderate in such a difficult situation. Perhaps your moderation may forestall and prevent much destruction. I was in my house when the atrocious act was committed. Doubtless it will be condemned by the majority of even the inhabitants of this county. Beware lest you be attacked by the Missourians.
“M. R. DEMMING.”
“N. B. Governor Ford, and nearly all the inhabitants of Carthage, have fled somewhere in great fright for their lives, they believe.
“M. R. D.”
The day after this slaughter, the militia and the people of Nauvoo were called together. They were addressed at ten o’clock by Judge Phelps, Col. Buckmaster (the governor’s envoy) and others, who urged everyone to carry on peacefully and patiently; and preparations were made for the arrival of the bodies of the two godly martyrs in the city. About three o’clock they were met by a large crowd of people at the edge of the city, and they all came in looking very orderly and polite, all under the leadership of the City Marshall, and comprising several hundred people. When they reached the “Mansion House,” Joseph Smith’s house, the bodies were taken in there, and no tongue can tell of the sad scene. Over 10,000 men under such circumstances able to be so patient and forbearing as to agree without exception to rely on the law of the land (which had already been proven to them many times to their distress to be so powerless) for protection and justice for this atrocious murder of their dearest brethren, when they were in prison with the state’s assurance that they would have protection and justice; and when that failed, no one was surprised; but they waited then for the just God who administers justice! Here is an example for the nineteenth century of Mormon gentleness and powers of self-control, when one admits that they had every power in their hands at that time not only to destroy that county, but the state before them. Yes, this fact is sufficient to prove that they were not bloodthirsty avengers as they were accused, and that the godliness and evangelicalism of the Mormons is no less that that of the saints of old! Where can one find an example of such voluntary restraint? We reply that we know of none such in this age, other than the restraint and obedience of their leaders, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, to all state laws and authorities at all times, and even on this last occasion, although they knew full well that their obedience could cost them their lives!! Here is an incontestable fact to prove also that the accusation of treason or disobedience was as untrue about these pious people as all the other accusations published by these assassins, and echoed by others of the same inclination, the length and breadth of practically the whole world.
The following speech by Governor Ford shows that he too has opened his eyes to see who is to blame for this riot, and how the Saints’ characters are superior to those of their enemies. Who will thank him for discovering it now, when it is too late? He had enough opportunities and testimonies to be able to see the intentions of the mob in time to save the lives of the prisoners, and it is without doubt to that extent that he will be considered responsible for the use he made of his influence, as we notified him in plain English a few hours before they were killed, in the presence of witnesses, some of whom remain, and others who have gone on ahead to meet him before the court where the worth and virtue of the innocent blood of Prophets and Apostles will be proven.
Address of Governor Ford to the People of the State of Illinois
“I DESIRE to give a brief but true description of the disgraceful affair which took place in Carthage, in regard to the Smiths, as far as my knowledge extends. The Smiths, Joseph and Hyrum, have been assassinated in jail; I do not know by whom, but I will know. [He could not have forgotten the names of those who threatened that to his face!] I had pledged myself that they would receive protection, and on that basis they surrendered as prisoners. The Mormons surrendered all the arms in their possession, and the Nauvoo Legion submitted to the command of Capt. Singleton of Brown County, willingly and obediently. And I had sent him there for that purpose. The rioters required all this to prove that the Mormons were peaceably disposed; but it appears that every obedience and submission on the part of the Mormons proved ineffective in bringing them [the rioters] to peace. It was not I alone that gave the pledge of security to the Smiths, but my officers and men assured me that they would assist me in protecting them. [So much the worse then was their crime and their treachery, and he should have known better from their previous “honor” than to entrust men’s lives to their bloody hands.] If this deed was committed by these people [we answer that it was, and how did he not know?], they have added treachery to murder, and have done all they could to disgrace the state, and sully the public ‘honor.’ [!! Whose “public honor,” I wonder? Where was it hiding before? Was it in the bosoms of the murderers?] On the morning of the day the deed was committed, we had proposed to march the entire army to Nauvoo; but I discovered clearly that the army would not be satisfied with less than the utter destruction of the city [and still leaving the prisoners in their hands after discovering that much!]; and that once we arrived there, pretexts would not be wanting for commencing hostilities. The Mormons had already complied with everything required of them, and had submitted to more than should have been asked of them. An attack on our part against them in the present season, with the harvest on our hands, would be as impolitic as it was disgraceful [and so, having killed the two best, it appears that the thanks of the other thousands for their lives were not due to him, but to the harvest which called them!]; and because of this [that is the ‘harvest,’ and not because of justice, and the desire to prevent the shedding of more innocent blood], we decided in a council [of traitors] to disband the army [so that they could be more free, and less responsible for the murder], except three companies; two of which were promised to guard the jail [only 70 in all], and with the other I went to Nauvoo to address those people [he did, poor things, and he was a worse comforter than Job’s as well], and to tell them what they might expect in case they designedly provoked a disturbance [yes, he threatened that their houses would be in ashes, and that their wives and children would be burned in the conflagration, and that he could not defend them!! but that he would not or did not, is what he meant]. I think I performed this duty keenly and fully [says he; yes, in a way that no one since the days of Nero, except his partner Clark from Missouri, has done]; and having returned about 3 miles towards Carthage, I met a messenger from there who informed me of what had taken place there. I hastened on to that place. I am told that the guards did their duty [but it was proved to him later that there was a clear understanding between them, and that the guards had written a letter to the other rioters, telling them the best time to fire, and of course for their part that they would empty their barrels into the air above their heads! The letter came to hand later]; but that the majority were overpowered [if so, how was not even one from either side wounded?]. Many families had fled from Carthage, and others were preparing to follow them; and as I considered there was danger of the Mormons’ wreaking vengeance, I supported this. Gen. Demming volunteered to remain here with a small number of soldiers, to defend property from damage as far as he could. I decided to proceed to Quincy, to prepare a force sufficient to suppress disorder. I have hopes that the Mormons will not start, or cause any disturbance. But I may be disappointed in this [if he had been, it would have been the first time for them to disappoint him]; I fear the opposition will not be satisfied. They may recommence their atrocities. I am determined to preserve the peace as far as I can, whatever the consequences. I think I have sufficient pretext to summon up an army, to be ready at my disposal at a moment’s warning. Establishing myself at Quincy will enable me to get all news with greater celerity.
“Governor, and Commander in Chief.”
The main aim of the rioters, or a large part of them, in killing Joseph and Hyrum Smith, was to scatter the inhabitants of Nauvoo; and they supposed, and did not hesitate to proclaim, that “the end of Joe Smith would be the end of Mormonism;” and as the Missourians had appropriated the lands, houses, and cities of the Saints three times before, these people thought of having the city of Nauvoo, and the valuable smallholdings around it. To this very end, they accumulated as many men as they could, with all sorts of pretexts and wiles, in Carthage, preparing to attack, and destroy Nauvoo. Frequently they would kidnap the Saints they caught in the vicinity, and beat them severely. They tied some to trees without cause, whipping them and wounding them badly, expecting that by so doing they would tempt the people of Nauvoo to seek revenge, and thereby have a case against them. In this way that county was kept in a state of turmoil and constant fear; and even after the death of the martyrs, we would frequently be called from our beds in the middle of the night to save our lives, because the rioters were coming to Nauvoo to kill us. Because Governor Ford heard these things, as well as the news that the rioters were threatening to reveal his partnership with them in the atrocious deed committed in Carthage, if he hindered their aims, he published the following address:
“QUINCY, June 30th, 1844.
“Sir,—I do not think the Mormons will cause any disturbance, or that there is any reason for the opposition to fear anything. I regret to learn that the rioters are still telling and publishing a thousand tales and false accusations completely without foundation, for the purpose of getting people together, without my authority, hoping, having got them to Warsaw, that they will agree with their treacherous and rapacious counsel. This is a stratagem against the country, and it cannot be endured.
“I am afraid that the rioters of Hancock County are fast losing the trust and sympathy of their fellowmen, not only there, but throughout the world. I strictly order you that you do not permit them to attack Nauvoo, or any of its inhabitants from now on, without my authority. I think it would be better to disband your forces too, unless you think it necessary to retain some to repel and disperse the rioters; you must be the judge of that.
“I desire you to order away immediately the people who came over from Missouri and from Iowa.
“I order you to hold under warrant anyone who supports the gathering to attack Nauvoo, or any other disturbance; and that you use every means to prevent the disgraceful, and previously successful, practice of publishing all sorts of false accusations and untruthful tales, which is done deliberately to excite the public.
“(Signed) THOMAS FORD,
“Commander in chief.
“To Brig. Gen. Demming, Carthage, Ill.”
Everything was peaceful in Nauvoo, as it had been, without one appearance or even any threats of vengeance, but they unanimously applied themselves, according to their previous decisions, to pursue peace with everyone. All commerce went on as before. The Saints redoubled their efforts to build the temple, &c. The writers and editors of the country had recognized the trickery of the rioters in their misrepresentations, and had come to Nauvoo to see the truth of things, and had published the truth instead of others’ tales. This fact, together with Gen. Demming’s zealous endeavors, caused the influence of the stream created by the rioters to turn around and pour down on their own heads, so that they had to disband and give up their evil intentions for a while. They saw very clearly that they had to recognize that, instead of dispersing and destroying the church of God, or hindering its progress in any way by killing its leaders, they had brought it great fame, and had caused thousands to investigate its principles who had not thought it worthy of their attention before. And this bloody deed became the most accurate image in which everyone could perceive Mormonism versus Sectarianism in their true respective colors. And indeed, what man of reason would not have foreseen that the innocent blood of godly prophets and apostles would cement all the Saints together in a bond and a knot of eternal love more powerfully than anything else? In this too was made true an eternal saying, which is that “all things [and this also] work together for good to them that love God.”
Oh no, no one who even considers that Joseph Smith is the AUTHOR of Mormonism, understands the first thing about it. Although, it is true, it was he who had the honor of being an instrument in establishing it in “the dispensation of the fulness of times,” and that he more than anyone else suffered and did the most for it, yet he was only an instrument in the hand of the one whose work it is, that is the Lord God of Israel, who is able to finish it; he will hasten it, and cut it short in righteousness, despite the killing of Joseph Smith and his brother, and hosts of others, because of it.
Character of Joseph Smith
There are hundreds of thousands in the four corners of the world who know that Joseph Smith was the godliest man on the face of the earth, yes, who know this, we say, beyond dispute, apart from the countless millions who must yet confess this; and fearlessly we dare anyone in Wales, or in the world, to prove anything to the contrary. Let those unacquainted with him think what they will of our testimony, that matters nothing to us; we are answerable to God and men only for what we say, and we say only what we know.
This is also proven through the great work, and the wonderful preparations he made for the restoration of pure religion, and the gathering of the remnant of Israel according to God’s covenant with Abraham and others. In what country or age, we ask, was such a revolution in the religious world created, was the cause of Zion furthered, and was the world flooded with such heavenly light, as that which Joseph Smith brought about in fewer than twenty years from the time the angel first appeared to him? Yes, let it be remembered that he was an uneducated young lad, a husbander of animals in the woods, barely seventeen years old—as the willow on the river bank withstands the fury of the waves of the flood tide, this lad faced and triumphed over all the human wisdom, popularity, wealth, and obstinacy, of a perverse and adulterous nation. And he did so without any ability, experience, wealth, influence, or anything on his side but divine power, incontrovertible truths, self-evident facts, and divine revelations containing so much light, and so much of the Spirit of God in them, that they could not be resisted from the lips of his servants; rather they shoot their beams of heavenly light and divine love into every honest heart that receives them, and reflect like the brilliant rays of the sun off a glorious mirror, and animate, adorn, and glorify the one who possesses them.
Despite the best efforts of the enemies of truth to blacken the character, and stain the memory of Mr. Smith, the columns of our history are as unsullied by them as the white snow; and in order to adorn the picture of his life and death more gloriously still, he fearlessly and bravely took the brush in his own hand, and painted a border around it of scarlet, that is, with his own blood! Worthy of such adornments is only he whom God made a monument for the nineteenth century of the perfection of his power through such a poor instrument as Joseph Smith! He came out of the middle of nearly fifty furnaces heated for him by persecutors, before courts of law, on charges of some crime or other, ten times hotter than for others; and from them all God saved him, as he did those three young men, without singeing a hair on his head (that is, his character), nor leaving the smell of fire on his clothing. His enemies will have a poor excuse when they stand before the Lord God of Joseph Smith, and their Judge, for shedding innocent blood. At that time they will have to make public confession of the truth, which is that it was out of jealousy for his piety, and envy for his greatness and incomparable majesty, that they killed him. No doubt it was fear of Joseph Smith’s sincere righteousness, and alarm at their own merits, among other things, that incited them to martyr him.
Because of his gentleness and his guilelessness in judging everyone to be as honest as he, some cunning and selfish men slipped in among Joseph Smith’s friends, who, in his greatest trouble, behaved toward him like that serpent which some man found on the road almost dead from cold, and warmed in his bosom until it revitalized, and the way it repaid his tenderness was to pierce him in his heart. Thus they could not stand in the midst of the wheat before his powerful fan, when he blew transgressors from his presence like chaff before a rushing whirlwind. No doubt false brethren, or rather let them be known by their proper name, which is “apostates,” greatly influenced others to deprive him of his life. They had seen his greatness, and they, like Delilah with Samson, knew of his weaknesses too. Yet their victory over him is a disgrace to the state and the nation, and has done them eternal harm. They cannot outgrow it; they cannot outlive it; and they cannot undo it, wash it away, or outdie it either. The verdict has been inscribed with a gold pen on the hearts of millions against them, ranging from any who conformed to the one who shot the fatal balls in Carthage Jail; and in every bosom where honesty, humanity, love of life, or freedom and happiness dwell, thence also will righteous “anathemas” be breathed against the “Carthage butchery.” The vengeance and wrath of a just God and good men will dog the steps of all the guilty ones and their supporters with terrors, as Milton describes the front gates of the Gehenna itself,—
“—————grating harsh thunder.”
Our Lord said, “It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!” According to the way that the whole Christian world, as well as ourselves, professes to tread, which is by the holy volume, it is seen that it is in keeping with our God’s gracious custom to send prophets to the world in every age when he had particular work to be done; and more clearly still he says explicitly through his servant, “the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” The same accurate image also shows that they all received the same cruel treatment, from Abel to the last mentioned, yes even his own dear Son, as the cruel treatment received by these their last brethren in Carthage, and all their lives. And it is no less strange than true either, that the nation which professed most zeal without knowledge, most illusion of godliness while denying its power, and most college and pulpit wisdom and human devotions instead of divine ordinances, were, and are, those who have the loudest voices, the greatest application, and the sharpest spears and swords to shed the blood of the divine envoys [i.e., that nation]. This is why the pagan nations will belong to the Lord in the days of his strength, namely because they will not be guilty of shedding the blood of prophets as is “this enlightened age,” and the other “enlightened age.” Their “conscientiousness” does not do this for God as they imagine, rather it tightens their bonds, and increases their sentence, because they should have looked into the matter before condemning it, or opposing it! But on to the story.
Joseph Smith’s Prediction of his Death
Joseph Smith had foreseen that his end was at hand, and in preparation for this he had been for about four months almost daily (before the beginning, or any signs, of the last disturbance) teaching the apostles, in their councils, about the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and the manner and means to carry on the work after his departure; and, having finished giving them their inheritance, he said clearly, “The kingdom of God now rests on your shoulders; take heart to spread it all over the world; it no longer matters what becomes of me, or how soon I go to my rest, &c.” He publicly informed about 15,000 people so clearly that everyone understood that he was shortly to leave them. He said that he would not live to see the temple completed, but that he had presented the essential keys for giving the inheritance, and everything else to the apostles. A few weeks before the beginning of this disturbance, all the apostles but two, Willard Richards and John Taylor, went according to his advice, to preach throughout the eastern states, “for,” said he, “your lives are not safe in Nauvoo, or in these parts;” and that is where they were when he was killed. They returned to Nauvoo as soon as they heard; and on the 8th of August an assembly was held in Nauvoo to organize things for the future, and to bring into effect the measures arranged through Joseph Smith; but primarily for the apostles to stand in their proper place at the head of the church on earth, in the absence of their former leaders. There were between twelve and fifteen thousand Saints gathered there, and arranged in districts according to their counties. Brigham Young, Orson Hyde, P. P. Pratt, and others addressed the crowd warmly and effectively, so that everyone perceived that the mantle of the prophet had truly fallen on the apostles; and the whole crowd without exception manifested their approval of the apostles as leaders of the church by raising their right hand.
About this time those who held high office and considerable influence aimed to elevate themselves and rebel against the church authorities, and they succeeded to an extent in attracting disciples to follow them: and these were duplicitous and mentally unstable, and they followed them for a while; but by far the majority understood the voice of their shepherds too well to be tricked in that way.
Among others who were excommunicated for their rebelliousness were Sydney Rigdon, James J. Strang, and others. Like shooting stars, as if for a moment, these shone through the western atmosphere, and then were extinguished, and nearly all their followers returned profoundly repentant back to the fold. The Saints succeeded and prospered at home and throughout the world after that, as a bed of herbs is fragrant after delightful falls of dew or summer rain. They joined together more and more to complete the temple, and to build the city through energetic and unanimous efforts; and this is not strange when one considers that the previous storms had blown away the chaff, and winnowed the wheat until it was purified and cleansed.
Before the end of this summer, several thousand elders and other officials went on missions through the various states, Canada, and the isles of the sea. Wilford Woodruff, Hyrum Clark, and myself, and our families set off—they to England, and I, according to my previous calling, to Wales. We traveled across the state of Illinois as far as Chicago, about 250 miles, in wagons, visiting several churches along the way. There we took a steam boat to cross the lakes, Michigan, Huron, Erie, St. Clair, and Ontario, as far as Oswego in the state of New York, about 1400 miles; and from there we came in pleasant canal boats as far as Albany, over 300 miles; and then in a steamboat down the Hudson river, 160 miles, to New York. We stayed in this city, preaching and ministering in the area until the return of brother Woodruff from the state of Maine. The three of us, and our families, together with two other missionaries called Hardy and Holmes, set off on board a ship from New York to Liverpool at the beginning of October; and after a stormy voyage, we arrived at the pleasant port on the first day of January, 1845. We found that the churches were successful throughout Britain in general, and the number of Saints here over 10,000. Within a few days, I went to the town of Wrexham, in North Wales, and began preaching the gospel with hardly any success for some time, with the country filled with the groundless stories invented by “Thomas Sharp,” and the other enemies, which were believed instead of the truth. No one had attempted to preach this gospel in Welsh throughout any of the counties of the North before this. After publishing two thousand copies of a 48-page treatise, demonstrating the establishment and plan of the apostolic church, &c., I went on a journey through the northern counties, and great was the excitement it caused and the opposition I received almost everywhere from the most zealous sectarians, but others listened attentively. The first branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I established was in Rhosllanerchrugog; and the first Welshman baptized was a man from there, when he heard and believed the gospel, by the name of Robert Evans, formerly a gifted preacher with the Campbellites. The following summer I visited Merthyr Tydfil and the surrounding areas, where I found a number of branches, comprising over two hundred Saints, who had heard the gospel from an elder by the name of Wm. Henshaw, who had come here from England some time before; and I shall never forget my happiness when I met so many of my blood brothers and sisters who had come to the bond of the same eternal covenant, to see alike, and to walk together along the same paths, to drink from the same divine Spirit, and to strive towards the same objective. In various branches here they enjoyed the gifts of the Holy Spirit abundantly, and their increase was in proportion to the persecutions they suffered at the hands of professors of the faith of gentle Jesus!
Despite everything, the Saints increased so quickly that they were over a thousand in number the following summer. A periodical was appearing monthly, and about a dozen doctrinal treatises had been published.
In the summer of 1845, very good news came from Nauvoo that the Saints had completed the temple, and several hundred of the elders had received their endowments in it. But before the end of the summer, the scene was sadly changed. The rioters had been obliged to be still for a while, because their leaders were on bail to appear in the quarterly court on the charge of killing Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and although Thomas Sharp and others were proven guilty of “deliberate murder,” yet they were released on bail of less than twenty pounds!! And in the end no one to this day has been punished for the shedding of that innocent blood, but it continues to cry out, “How long?”
The rioters, emboldened because of this freedom, applied themselves to creating a disturbance against the inhabitants of Nauvoo once more by bringing false accusations against their leaders, in order to take them out to Carthage so that they could wreak vengeance on them as they had done on the others before them; but after long and bitter experience, the Saints had by then come to a better understanding of the “first law of nature,” which is to save themselves, and this they did by keeping out of their way. There was such opposition to the Saints even in the Senate that they abolished the city’s Charter, although this was illegal. And as was proven later, some of the members of the Senate were leaders of the mob. The rioters devised a scheme to gather people together with the intention of attacking Nauvoo afterwards, as follows. Sharp announced through his publication that a “Wolf hunt” was to take place on a particular day, inviting everyone to come there fully armed; and the thing that frustrated their bloody purpose was that governor Ford understood their intention and sent soldiers to disperse them. After that they assembled near Warsaw under the leadership of Col. Williams (a cruel enemy of the Saints), about 800 or 900 of them, who began the old Missouri practices of burning barns, and the Saints’ property. They continued to do this throughout those parts, burning houses over the heads of some women and children who were ill in their beds at the time, without giving them any warning, but dragging them to the fields and leaving them there. They plundered their houses of anything they wanted, driving their animals with them. They were allowed to continue in this way unhindered for over ten days, for the militia refused to turn out at the request of the sheriff (Backenstos) to disperse the scoundrels until he realized that the militia were the culprits. By this time they had burned over two hundred houses, and had caused a loss of many thousands of dollars, and had taken many precious lives as well. Eventually the county Sheriff summoned the Nauvoo militia, under his leadership, to defend the houses and possessions of the citizens, and they set to flight all the rioters in the first battle, leaving several of their number dead on the field; and they pursued them as far as Carthage, and thence as far as Warsaw, and they fled across the Mississippi river to the state of Missouri; and so peace was restored for a short while. Yet, even so, Sharp, Williams, Capt. Smith, and others, did not cease brewing up storms against Nauvoo, which the following autumn poured down more destructively and unexpectedly than before. They gathered around Nauvoo by the thousands, with determination, which they professed publicly, and set upon their banners, “that nothing less would satisfy them than either the complete, unconditional exile of all the Saints, great and small, male and female, within five days, to the midst of the beasts and savages of the western desert, or that they be killed unsparingly, and their houses and their city burned about their heads if they refused to go.” The Saints decided to defend themselves, rather than comply with the one condition or the other; and so there was fierce fighting on all sides for several days on the outskirts of the city. Many of the rioters were killed, and, among others of their leaders, Capt. Smith was killed (the one who was with the “Carthage Greys,” namely the same Smith who started the disturbance, and who issued that first warrant on Joseph Smith, and the one who sat in judgment on him at Carthage). Only three of the Saints were killed. T. Sharp and Col. Williams were leaders in this attack too. And as they were sleeping one night in their camp, waiting for daylight to attack the city again, they were frightened by some agitation like the noise of a large army coming through the woods; most of them lifted their tents up onto their horses, and fled in great haste and fright towards Carthage, and the rest of their army set out after them before daybreak, thinking it was the Saints who were chasing them. By the time dawn had broken, and the last company had reached the meadows which stretched about ten miles in front of them, they were seen by the first ones, who mistook them for the Mormons still pursuing them; and so they fled for fear of each other, with no one after them but their own consciences, and a herd of cattle from the town, which had fled in fright through the woods past their camp!!
Within a few days the mob gathered in greater numbers still around Nauvoo. The government refused to give the Saints any protection; but several of the senators, together with delegates from Governor Ford, persuaded the Saints to go away, and leave their land, and all their possessions, in the hands of their persecutors, for they said “they were too numerous for the Saints to be able to defend themselves,” and there was no help to be had for them from the government!! They admitted publicly that the Saints were not to blame; and yet they wished them to approve the suggestion of exile for the sake of peace! I would like to set down their letters in full, so that the reader could form his own opinion about this cruel oppression, if there were space; but my limitations force me to restrain, because this treatise has grown much bigger than I intended at the beginning, although it by no means yet contains all the interesting stories relating to Mormonism. But, to the story. The conditions of peace were agreed upon between the parties, and the Saints were given permission to stay there until the following summer, or until pasture had grown to sustain their animals to travel. The rioters promised the Saints peace and quiet to prepare for their exile; but, like every promise one could expect from such cruel savages, it was not long before they broke it. They continued to create as much disturbance as they could, bringing unfounded complaints against some of the leaders of the Saints, so that they could still drag them to the butchery of Carthage before they went; for they would not allow them to go away alive either; and having failed every other way to get hold of the Apostles, they agreed together to form an army for the time of the Saints’ departure to the wilderness numerous enough to kill them there. But this time too the Lord in his grace spared his children from the hands of their cruel enemies, through their learning of the mob’s plot, and starting with about a thousand chosen men several weeks before the appointed time, and traveling on to the wild west, until they reached the more tender protection and defense of the uncivilized Indians, before their “Christian” (alias, sectarian) persecutors overtook them. They suffered much cold and hardship, and hunger, without doubt, for the snow was deep on the ground at that time. Having arrived in the midst of the Pottawatomie Indians, they made camp, and began to build wooden houses, and work the land; and when it came to be the season for sowing, they put corn in the land, leaving some there to watch it ready for when another camp of their brethren came that way after them, and then they went on towards California, for that was where they were drawn.
In June another encampment, comprising about 5,000, went after them; and before the end of the summer yet another encampment, of about the same number, set off along the same paths; and as one encampment waited for a time to rest their animals, they would build log houses, and would put crops in the earth, in order to provide food for those who came after them.
In Nauvoo, they had left their possessions in the hands of a committee of five, to sell as best they could. Several financiers from the other states, having heard that the Saints had to leave there, had come there to buy their houses, and their lands, &c., waiting for their own price, of course; and it was to these that most of the Saints sold, or rather gave the possessions that they could not take with them on their journey. The Saints throughout all the states, and also the Canadians, were preparing almost unanimously to emigrate with their exiled brethren as soon as they could organize their circumstances. In January, 1846, about 200 or 300 left from New York, in a ship around Cape Horn, to the Bay of San Francisco in California, which they reached safely after a comfortable voyage. Thousands of others were preparing to sail the same way from the other eastern seaports soon after them.
All the Saints had left Nauvoo apart from 200 or 300 who were for the most part unable to follow their brethren to the wilderness unless they could sell their property, so that they could buy carts or wagons, and animals, to carry them. Many people, mainly from the eastern states, who had bought the Saints’ properties, had moved to Nauvoo to take possession of them, and were known as “the new citizens.” The jealousy of the old rioters was kindled against these too, and there was no lack of excuses for accusing them of similar faults, if not worse, than those of the Mormons; and this would not seem strange to anyone who knew them, for as others were buying and taking possession of the Saints’ property, the rioters were losing the great reward they had anticipated for all their diligence, hard work, and endless persecutions, that is, to take possession of the whole city and the farms, and all the surrounding country, without paying anything for them. However strange this method of becoming rich may sound to Welsh ears, it was not unknown to these people, for they were encouraged in this by the example of the Missourians quietly enjoying all the lands and property of the Saints after exiling them in the same way three or four times in that state; and, to this day, neither the government, nor anyone else, has attempted to bring their oppressors to trial, or to restore their rights to the Saints. And thus these mobs proposed to possess Nauvoo as the spoils of a self-fomented war. When they were disappointed by the arrival of the “new citizens,” they immediately turned to their successful old plans, that is inciting the populace against them with some disgraceful false accusations, and showing them to be dangerous to their cause; and so they succeeded once again in collecting a large crowd of armed men, and attacked Nauvoo. They had every advantage over the city, because the citizens owned hardly any arms, since the mob had treacherously laid hands on all the cannons and arms in the state, which had been entrusted to the militia. Despite all this, and although the mob outnumbered the citizens and the Saints almost ten to one, the latter joined together to defend themselves and their homes; this they did with great bravery during three days of hard fighting; but on the fourth day the “citizens” left the Saints on their own, and despite that the rioters still could not come into the city until a certain number of state officials went there and persuaded the Saints, or rather commanded them, “not to defend themselves any longer, lest (they said) more blood be shed.” It was understood that these people were military officers, under orders from Governor Ford to collect enough militia to defend the city and disperse the mob, but instead of that they went there them selves without their militia, either because they could not, or because they did not choose to fetch them; they were disappointed in their expectation that the mob would listen to them, for they only mocked them. The Saints on the other hand, always compliant and obedient to every order which professed to come with some shade or appearance of state authority, obeyed them, and fled across the Mississippi River to Iowa territory, in great haste, without having time to take hardly any of their furniture, or their clothes, or food or scarcely any other provisions with them before the rioters were galloping through the streets of the chosen city shouting and howling and boasting of their victory.
The “new citizens” were also forced to flee unconditionally, leaving even the possessions they had so recently purchased in the hands of the mob after all; these feasted voraciously on the spoils, devoting themselves to drunkenness and every pleasure which fed their inhuman cravings; and they continue to enjoy most of the city and the environs unhindered to this day!! It will be seen from this that it was not the Saints but their restless neighbors who were to blame for the constant disturbances and wars against them, and as if purposely to prove this clearly to everyone, fate allowed the “new citizens” to try co-existing with the rioters. The result was the same as it has been and will be for all men who choose to live honestly and peacefully instead of joining with them; i.e., they fell helpless prey to the jealous enmity of the rioters.
Since stories such as these seem rather incredible in this day and age, and since they are worth chronicling among the feats of the age, and since we are in possession of an accurate account of this last and cruelest exile, together with the articles to which the victims had to testify in order to save their lives, we put them before the reader in the words of a gentleman who was one of the committee.
“To give you a description of all the pitiful scenes the people of this city (i.e., Nauvoo) were forced to pass through since you left, would be too great a task to complete in one letter; suffice it to say that the mob gathered against us again, soon after your departure; they continued to increase until they were over 1500 armed men, with about 200 baggage wagons, with sectarian clergymen to preach to them constantly, and religious orators to persuade this cruel rabble that they were serving God by persecuting and killing us, plundering us of our possessions, burning our houses over our heads, and exiling us all from our country only because of our religion! Yes, their main leader was a zealous Campbellite preacher, by the name of Thomas S. Brockman.
“At the time the mob were encamped at Carthage, Col. Singleton and Maj. Parker, who were sent by governor Ford to Nauvoo with an escort of ten men to defend them, endeavored to make peace between the parties, on the governor’s authority.
“Very cruel conditions were imposed by Col. Singleton on the saints, forcing them to leave the state within sixty days! But, hard as they were, when they were proposed to the mob, they rejected them unanimously, which caused Singleton and several of the mob leaders to leave, as they were too cruel for them to be able to follow; and they published their withdrawal in the newspapers, stating also that the Mormons had agreed to as much, if not more, than humanity could ask of them. The mob immediately placed Brockman in command, and the next day they rode towards Nauvoo, where they arrived on the morning of the tenth of September, and encamped upon the ‘Hunter Farm.’ In the meantime, instead of soldiers coming from the governor to defend lives, Major Flood, of Quincy, with John Wood, Esq., Mayor of Quincy, Dr. Conyers, and Mr. Joel Rice, visited the mob encampment, with a hope of turning them from their murderous purposes, but they were completely disappointed; for instead of that the rioters fired cannon balls after these gentlemen when they were returning from them towards Nauvoo. The next day they moved their camp nearer to the city, shooting grape shot, and cannon balls at the city all day. They were prevented from coming into the city by our one domestic cannon (made out of a piece of an old steam boat shaft). The next day they commenced fighting about one o’clock in the afternoon, which lasted only an hour and twenty minutes, before they were defeated rather miraculously by about 150 of the Saints. It is not known how many of the rioters were killed, but they acknowledged one was, and twelve wounded.
“At this juncture of affairs, a committee landed from Quincy, who succeeded in bringing the rioters to some sort of compromise without further bloodshed, although the conditions were very oppressive to the poor Saints, as will be seen from what follows; worse yet than those conditions even, they were forced to flee across the Mississippi River without delay, in order to save their lives. For the following month Mr. Fulmer and I remained there, the mob in complete possession of the city; Mr. A. Babbitt had gone to visit the western camp. And Oh! such ungodly scenes, I hope never to see again. Our houses were minutely searched, frequently quite contrary to their promise, on the pretext of seeking arms, or Mormons hiding. Since that time, some of the ‘new citizens’ succeeded in pulling Governor Ford off his nest, and he came here with a force to keep the peace after all the Saints were exiled, yes, it was to keep the rioters in peaceful possession of their spoils that he came. But the rioters laughed at him, and mocked him in every scornful way they could; and their women with a very grandiose appearance presented the governor with a petticoat to be worn as an indication of their recognition of his bravery.
“Governor French, who now holds Ford’s position, testifies that mobocracy shall no longer rule in the state of Illinois.
“The following is a copy of the conditions made at the aforementioned time.
“ ‘Articles of accommodation or conditions of peace, made and entered into the sixteenth day of September,1846, between Almon W. Babbitt, Joseph L. Heywood, and John S. Fulmer, trustees of the church of the Latter-day Saints of the one part, and Thomas S. Brockman, commander of the posse, and John Carlin, special constable of the Hancock posse of the second part, and Andrew Johnson, moderator of the citizens of Quincy of the third part:—
“ ‘1. The city of Nauvoo will surrender. The force of Col. Brockman to take possession of the city tomorrow, the 17th, at three o’clock p.m. [There is not one excuse here why the other poor creatures should have to allow uncivilized strangers such as these to take possession of their houses, and their beautiful city! No, no purchase or sale of it, but the rioters must have it! Do they get hold of some wrongdoers in the city to examine them before a state court? Oh! no, no, but they must, say these preachers and religious folk, have all their neighbors’ possessions without paying them anything, although they had killed them for that purpose, and all because they dared to worship God according to their conscience, in their own free country!!]
“ ‘2. All arms to be delivered into the hands of the committee, to be restored to them after they cross the river.
“ ‘3. The Quincy committee pledge their influence for peace; and the leaders and the people of the camp promise to save lives until the above time.
“ ‘4. The helpless and the sick are to be protected, [but note from the following accounts what sort of protection and treatment they received; it is said that several died of want, with these persecutors mocking them at the time].
“ ‘5. All the Mormons are to leave their Mormonism, or leave the state as soon as they can cross the Mississippi river. [Here is a clear admission that their jealousy was not directed at the Mormons, but was only because of Mormonism! Yes it was obviously religious persecution, although on several pretexts which have continued to dog these victims from one end to the other of the continent, for years almost, and to cause them to suffer more than man can tell.]
“ ‘6. A committee of five men, including the trustees of the church, and five clerks with their families (but Mr. Pickett not to be one of their number), to be permitted to remain in the city to sell the property of the others.
“ ‘7. Hostilities to cease immediately, and ten of the committee to enter the city to take possession of it for the others as soon as they wish.’ Here follows a list of their names.
“On the 9th of October, when our wagons returned to the banks of the Mississippi, opposite Nauvoo, they found the rest of the Saints lying on the river bank, without houses, beds, furniture, food, clothes, or anything; but death by starvation was staring them in the face! They had been driven out of the city by the mobs unsparingly, without warning, and without mercy, in addition the fact that many were suffering from the sicknesses and diseases of that country at the time. They had nothing to live on there, and nothing to start their journey with. In this difficult situation, they turned to the Lord, and he sent a large flock of quail, which came down in their midst, on their sleeping quarters, and at their feet, until even the sick and all others were catching them with their hands, until they were satisfied; so their tables were spread with meat, morning and evening. Not only the Saints saw this, but the world also. A steamboat was passing within six rods of them, and saw them, and the passengers on it marveled greatly; others on the bank (apart from the Saints) wondered when they saw such a marvel; but stranger still was that the birds followed the Saints along the road when they started their journey, alighting on their wagons, and under their feet, offering themselves as willing sacrifices to save the lives of the Saints oppressed by their persecutors. Tell this to the nations of the world! Tell it to kings and leaders!! Let this be made known to those who profess to believe that God brought Israel through the wilderness in the days of Moses, that they may also believe that there is a God in these days, and that his children are as dear to him now as then; and that he feeds them again when the oppression of the enemy is unbearable. He is the God of the whole earth; before him every knee bows, and every tongue confesses to the name of Jesus Christ.”—(From the “Millennial Star.”) Chapter XXVII.
The American Press Turns in Favor of the Saints
“A strange excitement and sympathy is gaining ground in favor of the Mormons, throughout our land. The peculiar nature of their tenets, the strange origin of their faith, and the singularity of the personages selected for their prophets and leaders, together with the books, &c., published against them, had an influence on the popular opinion of the age against them for years. They were represented as unmoved in disgraceful habits, and it is most remarkable that the Mormons hardly opposed these charges [they did, we say, for we know they did all they could in that matter, and we also know that while truth was lighting its match, falsehood would set the world ablaze, and our defenses would be thrown there; not to the newspaper columns, but as in Wales, to the back of the fire without being read]. When a cruel mob rushed into Carthage prison and killed Joe Smith, and his brother Hyrum, the atrocious act shocked the country for a while, but it was soon forgotten. Subsequently a mob gathered in the state of Illinois, under the name of Anti-Mormons, with the aim of exiling them from their community, and compelling them to abandon their farms, their houses, and all their possessions, as well as the costly temple which they had built, as plunder for their persecutors. For this purpose they collected their cannons, and their arms of war against Nauvoo. The position of the Mormons attracted the attention of the other states; but as Illinois, their own state, gave them no assistance or protection, but rather commended the violence of the persecutors, it was believed that their characters were so bad as to merit the treatment they received, and their exile to seek a place of residence somewhere else. [What evil could they have committed to deserve exile from a republic, I wonder?] The Mormons defended their homes as well as they could, until they were overcome by the numbers of the rioters, and having the state against them, and public opinion; and when they had no aid and no protection from anywhere, they said, ʻWe will go,ʼ and they did go into the wilderness, men, women, and children; some on foot, some in wagons, carrying with them the remains of their furniture, and leaving their homes, they fled to the wilderness. Some  joined the army bound for California, and another part went west of the Mississippi River. Thus 12,000 or 15,000 persons, from a state of comfort and prosperity, were driven from their homes to lie down on the banks of sickly rivers, or to deal as well as they could with savages and beasts, on the vast prairies of the west. But it now appears clear enough from various testimonies worthy of our belief—some are intimate with the Mormons, and have closely observed, and scrutinized their conduct and behavior, that great injustice has been done to those unfortunate people, so oppressed, robbed, and abandoned quite defenseless by a sovereign state which was bound to protect their rights. The late Capt. Allen of the U. S. Dragoons, who had 500 of the Saints in his army, testifies that they were all not only spirited and brave, good and faithful people, but describes them as wonderfully pure and unexceptionable in their moral conduct, frugal, careful, industrious, and self-denying, and manifesting heroic patience in suffering, worthy of the noblest Christian character. Again, one of the worthiest correspondents of the ‘U. S. Gazette,’ who has travelled and lived among the Mormons, writes that chastity, virtue, and love, together with a spirit of unity, and effort for family happiness, form absolute characteristics of this outcast people, as well as their temperance, orderliness, industry, courage, and steadfast determination in the objects of their desire. If this be so, words are inadequate to portray the incomparable injustice and cruelty they suffered in the state of Illinois. One can excuse the cruelties suffered by the Goths and Vandals, to some extent, and the persecutions of the dark ages; but that a free country such as America in these enlightened times, with all its institutions to ensure freedom for its citizens, should exile about 15,000 [over three times as many] of its citizens, without being proven guilty of any crime, through the power of arms, from their homes, and their possessions, and that the strong arm of the state should not be held forth for their protection, is a stain on our annals and on our country, which will take years to wash out. There is no parallel to it in the history of our country. And this is not the worst of the story either; riots, drunkenness, and crimes, are the results of the victory of the Anti-Mormons! A reckless body of people violated all the Mormon property, took possession of their farms, and desecrated their temple; the poor, the sick, and the aged, like the innocent children, were driven half-famished into the woods, and all their safeguards, and their livelihood, were outraged and cut off.
“If strong statements about the condition and character of the Mormons be true, the state of Illinois is bound in honor and by its own laws to restore these innocent victims to their homes, their property, and their rights, and the legislature, for the sake of justice and humanity—for the character of their state and their institutions, should direct the governor to issue a proclamation inviting the Mormons to return to their homes, and guarantee them protection against every attack on them. They are now, by the injustice of the state, dying in the wilderness of starvation and cold; or are prey to the savages and the beasts. Hosts of them are now lying on the earth on the banks of the Mississippi River, opposite the city they built through industry, and now see it all in the hands of the worst kind of robbers. Let Illinois awake to this good work before public opinion of the whole country demands for the Mormons justice for what has passed, and protection for the future.”—(From the New York Sun.)
Venerable reader, as we finish these strange stories, our conscience testifies that we have given you an accurate portrayal of the life of that godly and conscientious man, Joseph Smith, as far as the account of his cruel martyrdom and that of his brother Hyrum, because of their loyalty to Mormonism. Here is an account of the eternal gospel endorsed and sealed with the blood of prophets and godly apostles again, in our day. Here too you can see the story of thousands choosing cruel exile rather than be deprived of the comforts of Mormonism. Where else can one see such a spectacle? And after it was too late, the children of the world, through the American press, came to admit, as in former times, that it was all needless persecution! Notice the character they give to the Saints now; and O, let the editors of Wales be as charitable as to imitate them in this as they did on the other side. We know that this book deserves your deep consideration, and your belief; and our sincere wish is that it be instrumental in bringing you to an understanding of the truths it contains through obedience to the order it reveals. Amen.