50 Comments

Carthage Conspiracy: Trial of Joseph’s Assassins

I’ve recently been invited to a website called StayLDS.com.  Let me quote the mission of StayLDS:

StayLDS.com is dedicated to helping people who are struggling in some way to remain involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after a major shift in (or challenge to) their faith. We are committed to being a supportive, positive environment in which people with any difficulty can commune openly and honestly in a spirit of love and support.

I think I was invited there since I deal with many of the topics in church history that people find problematic.  I think it is ok to deal with these tougher issues.  I don’t always have orthodox responses, but I strive to put them in proper historical context, and I want to help people stay in the church.  In a way, I feel like a missionary. In addition to the resources on the front page, there is a forum where most anybody can ask a question and create a discussion.

One of the people there took great issue with the fact that a gun was smuggled into the Carthage Jail, and he felt like the church was covering up this fact.  I’ve known a gun was smuggled to Joseph for years from visits to the Carthage Jail in Illinois, and the tour guides do not try to hide this fact.  Anyway, I’ve already promised to post on the book called  Carthage Conspiracy by Dallin H Oaks.  The writer at StayLDS inspired me to detail the fact that Elder Oaks had already published about the smuggled gun in 1975.

The writer also learned that John Taylor believed that Joseph may have killed one or two of the assailants with this gun.  So, I wrote the paragraphs below to refute this fact, though Joseph did wound 3 men, who never were tried for the murder.  While this information may be surprising to some, I just don’t think there is a cover up of this, as evidenced by Elder Oaks book which came out more than 30 years ago.

I highly recommend Carthage Conspiracy. Dallin Oaks clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court from 1957 to 1958. After his clerkship he practiced at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago. Oaks left Kirkland & Ellis to become a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. During part of his time on the faculty of the Law School, Oaks served as interim dean. Oaks left the Law School upon being appointed President at Brigham Young University. Oaks served as president of Brigham Young University from 1971–1980.  Currently, Elder Oaks is an apostle, and is fourth in line to become the next prophet, behind Packer, Perry, and Nelson.

The book was first published in 1975 by the University of Illinois Press, and Oaks goes into great detail of the trial of the accused assassins. There are plenty of details in there that aren’t well known or discussed. You can find it for as cheap as $5.29 plus shipping at Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/025200 … d_i=507846

Page 20 discusses the actual events of the mob at the jail. I am including most of his footnotes below.

In the Carthage jail on the morning of June 27 Joseph Smith wrote a letter to his wife, reassuring her that, if there was an attack, some of the militia would remain loyal. Later he and Hyrum entertained several visitors, including Cyrus H. Wheelock, who, fearing an attack on the jail, slipped a pistol into Joseph’s pocket.

Further down on the page (pages 20-21),  (I’ve created another paragraph for readability)

“While there were guards around the jail,” eyewitness William Hamilton recalled later, “they were guards that did not guard and in fact I think understood the whole matter.” [Quoted in Berry, "The Mormon Settlement in Illinois", 88, 89] The guards fired directly into the attackers from a distance of twenty feet, but no one fell. Scuffling briefly with the guards, the mob tossed them aside and stormed up the stairs toward the room where the prisoners were held. Upon hearing the guns firing below, Joseph and Hyrum seized their pistols and ran to the door to hold it shut against the attackers. Some of the mob fired shots through the wooden door, hitting Hyrum in the face. He fell upon his back, dead, his head toward an open window on the east. Joseph, seeing his fallen brother at his feet, stepped up beside the door and began firing his pistol at the men in the hallway. After attempting to fire all six barrels (three misfired) he ran to the window. Outside were more of the mob, who fired at him from below as bullets struck him from behind. [This account is based on the recollections of eyewitnesses Willard Richard, John Taylor, and John H. Sherman. Joseph Smith's Journal kept by Willard Richards, June 27, 1844; Times and Seasons 5 (August 1, 1844), 598; Smith, History of the Church, VII, 102-4; VI, 617,19; Scofield, History of Hancock County, 846-47.]
He teetered on the sill, with one leg and an arm out the window, and then fell to the ground, landing on his left side. [Hamilton and Sherman agree on this. Se also testimony of Thomas Dixon in "Minutes of Trial," 60] An examination of his body showed he had been hit four times, once in the right collar bone, once in the breast, and twice in the back. Accounts differ as to whether he was dead before he hit the ground, [See Willard Richards to Brigham Young, June 30, 1844, Richards Papers, Church Archives] but Thomas Dixon, who was standing near the jail, said that while there was blood on his pants when he came to the window, “he was not dead when he fell–he raised himself up against the well curb.” [Cf. Ford, History of Illinois, 354, and Marsh, "Mormons in Hancock County," 53, with the recollection of William H. Hamilton in Scofield, History of Hancock County, 845.] He then “drew up one leg and stretched out the other and died immediately.” [This recollection is attributed to Thomas Dixon in "Documents relating to the Mormon Troubles," 26, handwritten notes on the trial testimony, Chicago Historical Society.] William R. Hamilton confirmed Dixon’s statement that the body was not molested after it hit the ground.[Scofield, History of Hancock County, 845; "Minutes of Trial," 60. Another eyewitness states that Joseph was stabbed with a bayonet while on the ground. Samuel Otho Williams to John A. Prickett, July 10, 1844.]
Here’s the detail describing what happened to those 3 shots Joseph fired into the mob. From page 51,

A Hancock County historian has stated that the grand jury was presented with the names of about sixty persons for indictment. They voted first on the entire sixty, but the evidence was so inconclusive that the number of grand jurors who voted to indict was less that the required twelve. The grand jury then struck off the ten names with the least evidence and voted once more, but again failed to secure the minimum votes. They continued in this manner until the list of potential defendants contained only the nine persons with the strongest evidence against them. In this last instance the requisite twelve votes were finally obtained, and the nine defendants were accordingly indicted or formally charged with the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.[Gregg, Prophet of Palmyra, 301-2. The Warsaw Signal, October 30, 1844, maintains that no indictment could be obtained from Tuesday through Friday, but that on Saturday the Mormons "smuggled" in two additional witnesses who provided the basis for the indictment.]

There were separate indictments for the two murders. Each charged the same nine defendents: John Wills,[A Mormon Source gives this as "John Patrick Wells." Smith, History of the Church, VII, 162] William Voras,[So in indictment. Other sources often show it as "Voorhees."] William N. Grover, Jacob C. Davis, Mark Aldrich, Thomas C. Sharp, Levi Williams, and two men named Gallaher and Allen, whose first names were not given.[There were three Gallahers in the Warsaw militia units: Charles, Patrick, and William. "Muster Roll of the Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers, Musicians and Privates belonging to the 59th Regiment 4th Brigade and 5th Division, Illinois Militia, under the command of Levi Williams," Chicago Historical Society.]

From page 52, please note the 3 wounded:

Wills, Voras, and Gallaher were probably named in the indictment because their wounds, which testimony showed were received at the jail, were irrefutable evidence that they had participated in the mob. They undoubtedly recognized their vulnerability and fled the county. A contemporary witness reported these three as saying that they were the first men at the jail, that one of them shot through the door killing Hyrum, that Joseph wounded all three with his pistol, and that Gallaher shot Joseph as he ran to the window.[Hay, "The Mormon Prophet's Tragedy," 675] According to Hay, Wills, whom the Mormon prophet had shot in the arm, was an Irishman who had joined the mob from “his congenital love of a brawl.”[Statement of Jeremiah Willey, August 13, 1844, Brigham Young correspondence, Church Archives.] Gallaher was a young man from Mississippi who was shot in the face.[Hay, "The Mormon Prophet's Tragedy," 669, 675. Another source says Wills was a former Mormon elder who had left the Church. Davis, An Authentic Account, 24.] Hay described Voras (Voorhees) as a “half-grown hobbledehoy from Bear Creek” whom Joseph shot in the shoulder. The citizens of Green Plains were said to have given Gallaher and Voras new suits of clothes for their parts in the killing.[Statement of Jeremiah Willey, August 13, 1844]
I’ve never understood why anyone would question Joseph’s actions.  He had been beaten, and been subject to harrassment and death threats for years.  I came across an anti-Mormon website which used this smuggled gun and Joseph shooting others to paint the picture that Joseph didn’t go like a lamb to the slaughter, but went out with guns blazing.  Well, I’m no sheep farmer, but I don’t think sheep sit there peacefully before they die–they fight back.  I just don’t understand why anyone would be troubled by this.  I agree that it is a little strange that Joseph had a revolver while incarcerated, but would anybody who had been threatened like he had act any differently?

50 comments on “Carthage Conspiracy: Trial of Joseph’s Assassins

  1. While it’s never been a problem for me, I can see where other people might have problems with it for two reasons. One, he said he was going like a lamb to the slaughter. This is usually treated in church lesson manuals like he knew he was going to die. A gun battle is the opposite of that.
    Second, the gun battle, while openly discussed in history books, isn’t discussed where most mormons learn their church history — in sunday school classes.
    It’s as simple as that.

  2. Well, there is the oft-quoted statement where Joseph does seem to act like he knew he would die. Paraphrasing, he said something like “If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of no value to me. I go like a lamb to the slaughter…”

    Still, I don’t think anyone would try to escape death in his situation. I don’t think it was his time to die–he could have done so much more.

    Yes, I guess many people do get their church history lessons in Sunday School, but I don’t understand why they think they know the whole story from a 1 hour lesson.

  3. Perhaps it bothers some people because it’s easy to get the impression from the official manuals that Joseph went to his death with a Christlike submission. Christ never put up a fight when people spit on him, whipped him, or when he was being nailed to the cross. We do put Joseph on a very high pedestal and we always talk of him as a martyr. Perhaps he wasn’t a true martyr in the sense that he wasn’t going down willingly while turning the other cheek. But I personally have no problem with the idea of Joseph defending himself in a gun battle. It seems like common sense to me and I would have done the same. Really, it’s common sense that we would expect someone in his position to defend himself. It only becomes problematic when we have perceptions of him that are either untrue or inaccurate, which often happens when we only the standard textbook answers.

  4. I’m with FD. The fact that Joseph shot back is no big deal, really… but too many people (like myself) grow up in the church thinking that Josephs death was some sort of submissive christ experience – or that Kind & Loving Joseph wouldn’t dream of physically injuring anyone. This is a very naive and ill-informed view of Joseph, but it’s all too common…

    It’s true, though, that of all the historical issues surrounding Mormonism’s foundational stories, this one is cakewalk…

  5. Are we real sure that Christ’s experience/attitude was totally submissive?
    Of course, he was overpowered by Romans but are we positive that there was no resistance?
    Is this summation scriptural or is it a tradition?

  6. Since the arrest of Jesus in at least one of the gospels involves him healing a soldier after Peter did violently resist, the account is about as scriptural as anything in the NT can get. Jesus, knew what what coming in a broad sense, because he’d been preparing his disciples for his arrest.

    JS, however, thought he had a chance to escape — or he wouldn’t have gone to the window. So, its a problem if you are a pacifist, but not necessarily for either a just war or Christian realist advocate.

    It makes me wonder more and more if the discomfort with the BofM in my denomination and with JS is that the can’t reconcile the early LDS church with their increasingly pacifist beliefs. Keep an eye out for developments there.

  7. Yes, FD, perhaps you’re right. I wonder if these people who have this naive image of a lamb going to slaughter, also think George Washington really did chop down a cherry tree. It just seems strange to me that people have such naive impressions of events like this.

    Bruce, I’d have to agree with FireTag–it does seem to be scriptural that Jesus offered no resistance to the Romans. I will say that John Dominic Crossan says the gospel accounts differ. In Mark, Jesus is alone, but in Matthew, Jesus is surrounded by followers. (Crossan says the original Mark doesn’t have the same ending as our current Bible.)

    FireTag, whenever I hear about anti-Mormon literature, it seems to refer to the LDS. Do CoC people also encounter anti-Mormon materials and try to refute them? Would a CoC member be troubled to learn that Joseph had a gun? There are plenty of things that wouldn’t bother a CoC member, I would think, such as the Word of Wisdom, belief in exaltation (Nauvoo period revelations that the CoC rejects), so I’m just wondering how much this stuff would bother a typical CoC member.

  8. Many people in the CofChrist are rather bothered by Joseph’s association with anything violent BEFORE Carthage — that was the basis for my statement about pacifism being bothersome.

    We are too small a target to get much attention from anti-Mormon evangelicals. They tend to contrast us with you guys and say, “See, even the RLDS think this is wrong.” And we get less flack from the liberal side because we are a liberal denomination. (I’m not quite the last conservative standing, but we are clearly moving toward the peace and justice wing of American Christianity.

  9. I suppose the Nauvoo Legion and Zion’s Camp are real sources of discomfort for the pacifists….

  10. Maybe he wasn’t trying to protect himself but the other men with him that he loved and cared for. Maybe he was trying to protect them.

  11. MH: You bet they are. They might well be able to make a case for their discomfort, but largely, there is an assumption that the case is self-evident and therefore need not be made.

    Lee: Good point.

  12. Lee, you’ve made an excellent point. Certainly Joseph was trying to protect his friends as well as himself.

  13. [...] Heretic has a post about the trial of Joseph Smith’s assassins. It was largely inspired by former judge and current Apostle Dallin H. Oaks’ book Carthage [...]

  14. This all happened so fast, that I don’t think JS had time to think. I think his actions were instinct. He watched his brother fall to the floor, but instead of going to his aide (perhaps the wound was obviously fatal) he fired into the mob and then tried to escape. He didn’t stop to see if the others were OK or to assist them in escaping. His brother was his closest male companion. I believe that if he had time to think, he would have gone to Hyrum’s side, if for no other reason than to grieve and pay respects, or tried to assist the others. Everything we know about this event points to instinctual reaction.

  15. Bishop Rick, I agree whole-heartedly.

  16. [...] The practice was not announced publicy until 1852, and the actual revelation was not added to the D&C until 1876.  I talked about the Nauvoo Expositor, which published allegations of Joseph’s polygamy.  Joseph directed the press be destroyed, which resulted in his arrest and eventual murder at the Carthage Jail. [...]

  17. Thanks so much for clarifying these shots as ‘injuring’ and not killing these assailants. I agree, who would argue ‘self defense’? and yet I have to say, it was unexpected when Cyrus Wheelock slipped the gun in Joseph’s pocket. The anxiety and adrenalin were beginning to mix with prayers for calm as the pounding footsteps and angry voices drew near. I believe when shots fired through the closed door(cowards!) and Hyrum was killed, Joseph in his incredible sense of love and loss for his brother wielded the gun as a tangible ‘CRY OF INJUSTICE’… who could fault the heart of this wonderful man… called of God to be His Prophet and mouthpiece… who gave it all?! Where is your heart to question, if you truly have looked at the circumstances of this man’s life? Let your questions come in the form of a prayer FROM YOUR HEART… “and it shall be given unto you…” and ‘the TRUTH shall set you free.”

  18. Wow, I didn’t realise this is an ongoing opportunity to voice… I think Joseph went to the window to, ‘give the mob what they wanted’ and hopefully, ‘appease the beast’, allowing his friends in the room a possible chance to be spared. I have a profound witness that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and a man of wonderful, heartfelt passions. Thinking about the circumstances makes me appreciate him even more… May Heavenly Father bless us all with greater understanding…

  19. Lisa, thanks for stopping by. I just posted ay updated version of this post slightlagain over at Mormon Matters, so you may want to follow a new, ongoing conversation I’ve started over there.

  20. Just wanted to add that my great^4 grandfather, Cyrus Wheelock, gave JS the gun he used.

  21. I learned of the gun in my church history glass in high school
    where have you been

  22. Hi, all, thank you for this enlightening “conversation.” I came across these postings while researching my husband’s family history, many of whom lived in Nauvoo and Carthage at the time, but none of them were Morman. I was VERY relieved to read that none of my husband’s family were among the accused, but the Samuel Otho Williams mentioned in the eyewitness accounts is one of my husband’s direct ancestors. Does anyone know where the full text of his letter is? I’ve only encountered snippets of it when I googled his name. He was a member of the Carthage Greys at the time, and I would like to know the full extent of his involvement. (ASAP after the evening in question, he moved his family out of Carthage…was he fearful or ashamed? I don’t know.)

  23. It is so interesting to me that so many people have relatives dating to this event. Thanks for stopping by Sheila!

  24. [...] Following the destruction of the press, Joseph, Hyrum, and others were transported to Carthage on the charge of riot.  Once there, the charge was upgraded to treason.  I’ve talked previously about Michael Quinn downplaying polygamy in relation to the Expositor, as well as Dallin Oaks’ book discussing the trial of Joseph’s assassins. [...]

  25. @Anonymous
    Cyrus Wheelock is my Great Great Grandfather and I am so proud of that fact. He had tried desperately to get Boggs to stop the Mob but knowing it was not gonna happen he did what he could to help Joseph and Hyrum. I’m always happy to share the fact that he gave that gun to Joseph and good for Joseph for using it!!!

  26. @Julie
    Julie.I too am a decendent of Cyrus Wheelock. He was my great great great grandfather. We are related it appears.

  27. Julie, Kathy, I too am a decedent of Cyrus Wheelock. Grandson of Claude Wheelock, Son of Cyrus Alberto Wheelock, son of Cyrus Hubbard Wheelock.

  28. Joseph Smith is supposed to be a profit of god, which I do not believe a profit of god would have a smuggled pistol or possibility injure or kill any one. Here you have this “Saint”, who supposedly is a profit of god was who had a warrant out for his arrest for violated someones freedom of press, who had someones buisness destroyed. It almost sounds like the moffia today. The guy is a nut case. The Mormon people base their religion on a 15 year old that was not happy in life and had an unwitnessed vision of god and had no physical proof of the gold tablets, other than a pocket full of dust in his pocket? That is scarey.

  29. Robert, it’s spelled prophet, not profit. Tell me, if you were tarred and feathered multiple times, dragged out of your house, threatened multiple times, told you were to be executed by the Missouri militia but another man refused because the execution order was against the law, had your friends and family driven out of Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois, would you not try to protect yourself?

    Please tell me something. If everyone knew you had gold, would there be no attempts to kill you and take the gold?

    Give me a break. You’re as biased as they come, and can’t look at this with a shred of objectivity.

  30. First of all, if I had a warrant out for my arrest for something I did wrong, I would not flee. Lets see, he destroyed someones newspaper because he did not like what they were writing about the Mormon church. He had a warrant out for his arrest and he fled. And was smuggled a weapon into the jail? give me a break. The Mormon religion in this country, after we became a country is the only religion to have had several major conflicts with people in different areas of the country. Have you looked into the reason why? Is it because every area where the Mormons lived Missouri, Illinois, Now Utah every where they moved, they tried to take over the area and adopt their own laws. Also it is known that JS had killed people before when they were chased out of Missouri. First of all he violated someones constitutional right of freedom of the press, he had a warrant out for his arrest and fled which is felony flight, And a weapon was smuggled into the jail? I have gone to many churches over the years, and this is the only one in our country that has had conflicts with people. I come from a huge Mormon Family. And if you are not Mormon, you are treated like garbage. This is why I started studying the Mormon religion. All other faith welcomed me in with no secrecy. JS sounded like a dangerous man to me. Another cult brainwashing people for there benefit.

  31. Do you not understand the history of why they were kicked out of Missouri?

    Let’s see. Back in 1833, the Mormons wrote a newspaper article “Free People of Color”, welcoming blacks to the state. What happened? The Missourians destroyed the Mormon Press. You talk of freedom of the press, but nobody enforced that, did they? What else happened? They tarred and feathered Bishop Partridge, and forced them at gunpoint to leave the state. So give me a break about freedom of the press. Where’s your outrage about Mormons being against slavery and having their press destroyed? Where’s your outrage over the Haun’s Mill Massacre? Did the Mormons deserve that?

    “JS had killed people before when they were chased out of Missouri.” Oh please do tell me the evidence for this. I’d love to see this outrageous charge.

    As for the weapon in the jail, why didn’t he try to escape? He could have easily overpowered the guards before the mob came, but he didn’t. So then 200 mobbers come and you think this is somehow a fair fight? GIVE ME A BREAK.

    “the only religion to have had several major conflicts with people in different areas of the country”

    Really? Muslims aren’t persecuted today? The Branch Davidians lived peacefully? We don’t have any Sikh’s killed in Wisconsin?

    I’m really sorry your were treated poorly from your family. That is a shame. Go ahead and study Mormon history–I do. But don’t be so blatantly biased. Your accusations are ridiculous and show you’re using your family as an excuse to spread lies and distortions. Your family shouldn’t treat you badly, but quit spreading lies and distortions.

  32. Back in those day when there was slavery, did the Mormons have the right to invite people of color to live free in Missouri during the time of slavery? Don’t get me wrong, I am totally against any kind of slavery or repression. And as for being treated poorly by my family, I was not. I never said they treated me poorly, I said they always thought they were better than me due to there religion, and that all other religions were a joke to them. I been on the LDS website many times and this is where I get my information. So I don’t appreciate being called a liar, I did not come on here calling you names. If I am a liar, I got all of my information from the lds website, the joseph smith papers and watching the byu telivision. Don’t call me names it is not christian like.

  33. Robert,

    For someone who claims to know about this episode, you show an amazing lack of understanding for the period. did the Mormons have the right to invite people of color to live free in Missouri during the time of slavery?

    Well, if they were free people of color, why couldn’t they live anywhere they want? Your question seems to say that it was ok for Missourians to violently attack free blacks, despite your assertion that “I am totally against any kind of slavery or repression”, but you think that the Mormons were wrong for promoting civil rights in Missouri. I find your logic weird on this. Certainly there were no laws against free people living anywhere they wanted, but local vigilantes were very happy to beat up blacks and Mormons that they didn’t like. Are you saying that the Missourians were justified in their physical abuse of blacks and Mormons in 1833? Indeed this is a strange assertion.

    I said they always thought they were better than me due to there religion, and that all other religions were a joke to them. I been on the LDS website many times and this is where I get my information.

    Where does it say on the LDS website that “other religions were a joke to them”? I’ve never read that. This is another one of your distortions, and it is not helpful. Quit spreading distortions.

    Now, all religions believe their teachings are the best. If all religions said any religion was good, what is the incentive to join? I guess I’ll become a Hindu or a Muslim then, because it just doesn’t matter, right?

    When you make assertions that Mormonism is another “cult brainwashing people for there benefit”, you sound like a bigot. I don’t allow bigots here, so take your insults somewhere else. Such language is certainly unchristian, and you should have to apologize like Al Sharpton did a few years back for a similar quip, or Pastor Robert Jeffries did recently.

    If I am a liar, I got all of my information from the lds website, the joseph smith papers and watching the byu telivision. Don’t call me names it is not christian like.

    Well, I’ll quit calling you a liar when you quit calling my church a cult. Deal?

    You are really good at spreading distortions. But here’s the one statement that is at least a completely baseless accusation, if not a flat-out lie: “JS had killed people before when they were chased out of Missouri.” Oh please do tell me the evidence for this. I’d love to see this outrageous charge.

    If you have no evidence then you are repeating a lie from someone else. In that case, someone else is the liar, and you are merely parroting a baseless accusation. Get your facts straight so you don’t sound like you enjoy spreading lies, otherwise, you sound like a mindless dupe. If you have evidence from BYU television, LDS.org, or any other reputable source, then please provide this information. Otherwise, quit spreading lies.

  34. First of all I have a problem with any slavery at all free or not free. At that time Slavery was legal in the south unfortunately. Second, I am all for civil rights remember it was the mormons who would not allow people of color to hold positions in their cult. Second, talk about bigots. And third, are you also trying to take away my freedom of speech just like your “PROPHET” did? Have you read the bio of JS. He was also a seer and stone reader. Is that “Fortune telling?”

  35. All of the info I got was from the three sources byu tv lds website, and smith papers. I will go back and look up some of the reading. and I will return to share them with you.

  36. Robert, (or should I be disrespectful and call you “Liar”?) If you can’t be respectful, leave. I’m still waiting anxiously for all your evidence.

    Free speech applies to the government, not blogs. If I came in your house and insulted you, then I can’t cry “free speech” and expect you to sit there and take it. (If I’m wrong, just give me your address and I’ll be happy to come to your house and insult you, all the while shouting “don’t take away my free speech!”)

    Get a life, show some respect, and show me some real evidence. Otherwise, take your attitude to ex-mormon.org where they enjoy insulting Mormons. It’s not welcome here.

  37. Robert, If you would take a bit of advice, it would really be helpful if you would provide some references for your allegations, such as Joseph killing some people before the LDS were chased out of Missouri.

    I looked into your comment about slavery and the LDS inviting free blacks to Missouri. Missouri had passed a law in 1825 barring free Negroes from settling in the state, unless they were already citizens of another state. (Laws of the State of Missouri, 1825, p. 600) The “Free People of Color” essay was an attempt to clarify the policy for the church on inviting free blacks to Missouri. There is an article on that matter at Blacklds.org (http://www.blacklds.org/fpoc)

    If you wish to do some research on a particular subject and come back to us with it, we can engage in a respectful discussion on the merits of your data and do some research of our own.

    I assure you that MH is not a blind follower of the LDS faith and is willing to follow where the evidence leads. We have taken opposite positions on many issues that he has blogged about. He has allowed me to have my say and we have engaged in respectful dialogues on those issues. I am sure he will accord you the same diginity. He only asks that dissent is couched in respectful terms and that allegations are backed up with facts.

    Glenn

  38. Glenn, thanks for your comment. Robert, I can assure you that Glenn and I have disagreed on MANY topics. I welcome respectful disagreement. {several previous comments between Robert and I were off topic and removed that addressed the topic of cult. If you want to see these comments, go to the discussion about whether it is acceptable to use the word cult, now back to the topic.}

    Now, let’s address your lie that “it is known that JS had killed people before when they were chased out of Missouri.” You haven’t come up with any sources because there aren’t any. You won’t find anything on to support this baseless allegation in the following sources: LDS.org, BYU television, Joseph Smith Papers, No Man Knows My History, Rough Stone Rolling, Origins of Power, Extensions of Power, The Making of a Prophet, Insiders View of Mormon Origins, The Spaulding Manuscript, View of the Hebrews, the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, or Mormon Doctrine.

    Now, there is probably some baseless accusation on exmormon.org. Go there, but I wouldn’t call it reputable, and it won’t be a fact.

    Give me facts respectfully, and we’ll talk. {snip}

  39. Now, let’s get back to the topic of the post. Do you believe that Mormons deserved the mob attack of 1833 when they published “the wonderful events of this age much is doing towards abolishing slavery and colonizing the blacks in Africa”? Did Bishop Partridge deserve to be beaten, tarred, and feathered? Did the Mormons deserve to have their press destroyed?

    Now, if you’re legitimately interested in learning Mormon history, I talk about it all the time (without pejoratives). I have noted that Mormons were both anti-slavery and anti-abolitionist. I’ve also discussed the Haun’s Mill Massacre, and I’ve even admitted that Mormons weren’t completely blameless in Missouri. However, nothing that those people did deserved the following:

    October 30, 1838 – The Hauns Mill Massacre; 18 Mormons are killed, ranging in age from 10-year old Sardius Smith, to 62 year old Thomas McBride. These 2 deaths were particularly gruesome.

    After surrendering his weapon, 62 year old Thomas McBride was hacked to death with a corn knife.

    An enraged Missourian leveled his gun against the 10 year old boy’s head, and after proclaiming that ‘nits become lice” pulled the trigger, killing Sardius Smith instantly.

    See my post on the Pre-Halloween Massacre, as well as my post dealing with Trouble in Zion. Now, when you can really understand the death that preceded what happened in Carthage, I hope you can better understand why Joseph tried to defend himself. The Carthage Mob of 1844 wasn’t quite as bloodthirsty as the Haun’s Mill mob of 1838, but they were both guilty of murder.

    And in both cases, not a soul was ever convicted of murder. But I guess that’s just fine with you because Mormons deserve death and physical abuse. Joseph deserved to die by the hands of a mob. (Please correct me if I am wrong–I certainly hope I am wrong, but you have never refuted that Joseph was unjustly murdered, and implied that he deserved his death because Joseph “violated someones freedom of press”.) Last I checked, violating freedom of the press wasn’t a death penalty offense. If you know of another case where someone was executed for a freedom of the press violation, I’d sure like to hear it. (Facts please.) I’d also like to hear what you’d do to the mobbers that destroyed the Mormon press in 1833. I’d also like to hear if you think the Haun’s Mill mobbers deserved the death penalty. I’d also like to hear if you think the Carthage Mobbers deserve the death penalty. I’d also like to hear if you think Joseph’s death by mob was what Jesus wanted.

  40. Robert, depending on the particular definition that one uses, just about any group of people could be called a cult. All religions pretty much do fall under one of the definitions.
    Here is another definition: “a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.” By that definition, political parties could be called cults. Just about any organization could be called a cult since organizations are founded for a particular purpose or ideal.

    The main point though, is what does it gain one to label an organization as a cult? The word has become pejorative to many organizations.

    As for MH’s response to your first post, please go back and read your first post and see if maybe you could have worded it better. Maybe see if you could have provided specific references for your allegations. It does not matter if an allegation is negative. What really matters is that proper documentation is provided in order that people on the receiving end may do some fact checking and hopefully engage in a respectful dialogue and exchange of ideas.

    Glenn

  41. I don’t agree with the way JS was killed. He Should have had a fair trial, and I don’t believe he would have been convicted to a death sentence. Unfortunately in those days and times, terrible tragedies like the tarring and feathering and hangman mobs occurred. My question is, (and I don’t mean any disrespect at all), Is why was there any conflict at all? In both Missouri and Illinois. You here of no other religious organizations at that time, Pretty much the 1800’s that dealt in so many Physical conflicts. Another answer to a comment of mine that was turned around for the person who likes to call names benefit, I said above that my Mormon Family thought all other religions were a joke, Not the LDS. I have at least 500 family members in AZ who are Mormons. Family has been in AZ for Many decades. Let me tell you, I was born in 1960, and lived in South Phoenix for a lot of my life. In the 60’s during segregation I lived among blacks, and Hispanics. A lot of these folks were my friends. I may not see eye to eye with my Mormon relatives, but they would be the first to tell you that I am not a bigot. From what I have read, it seems to me that wherever the Mormons went, they tried to change the area to adhere to their beliefs and rules. That is why I commented on, If they could invite blacks to live free in Missouri. Was it a Free state, instead I get someone calling me a bigot, when they don’t even know me? What a nice “Saint”. My church has always allowed blacks. Have you ever been to a Black Southern Baptist Church. You don’t know what you are missing. When my sister was married several years ago,in our church, one of the few Mormons who showed up collected all of the pamphlets in our foyer. We found out later she destroyed them. Is this christian like?

  42. As for my first post, I stand by that 100 percent unless you can explain otherwise.

  43. Robert, you will have to do some more research on your own in order to answer your questions about the many and varied reasons for conflict. The LDS church members had problems from the very first. Some of the doctrines were strange and most religions of the time believed that the heavens were closed to further revelation and that the Bible was the sole word of God.
    The history of religion in the United States is one of intolerance and violence. Just do a Google for religious violence in the early years of the Union. The persecution became so great in New York that the church moved its headquarters to Ohio but also sent many to Missouri, Jackson County where Joseph had prophesied that the New Jerusalem would be built.
    The members would work together to build homes, clear land, cultivate farms, etc. There was an envy factor coupled with the religious intolerance that was never far from the surface in that time period. When a new group of people move in to an area and rapidly become prosperous and remain close knit, those people are often viewed with some degree of suspicion by the native population. Especially if their religion is something strange.
    There were problems in Ohio caused by the collapse of the Kirtland Banking Society which caused a lot of anger and the blame was laid at the feet of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. In Missouri there were some of the Saints that maybe bragged to their non-member neighbors about the prophecies which indicated that the Lord’s church would own much of Jackson County.
    A person does not necessarily have to do anything wrong for conflict to come his or her way. Being different is all that is needed to bring about conflict. Being different and being prosperous amplifies the problem. Being different, prosperous, and a little arrogant can be sometimes fatal. Those problems still exist today.
    When the problems in Missouri and Kirtland came to a head, the church moved its headquarters to Commerce Illinois in 1839. In 1840 that town had about 3000 citizens. But it was surrounded by a malarial swamp. The LDS drained that swamp, renamed the city Nauvoo, and it rapidly grew to a city rivaling Chicago. It had about 12000 inhabitants in 1844, rivaling Chicago with about 15000, when Joseph was murdered.
    Part of the problem there was the great political power that such a block of voters wielded. They were a pretty homogenous group politically speaking and had the power to influence local and state elections. Political hate and envy, added to economic envy can be a strong incitement to conflict. It still is today. But the times were more violent and volatile at that stage in history. The polygamy question raised its head there and caused a firestorm as disaffected former members spun tales mixing some truth with some maybe salacious gossip. There is not enough time to go into all of that. Suffice it to say, it was a source of conflict.

    Joseph was originally arrested on the charge of inciting a riot, but was released on a writ of habeas corpus in a Nayvoo municipal court. Which was legal. His adversaries then had a warrant issued for his arrest on the charge of treason against the state of Illinois for calling out the Nauvoo Legion. This is the false charge because he was a general in the Legion and at that time, had the authority to call it up. I do not know all of the details that would be a legitimate cause for him to be able to call the legion to arms. That would have been settled in court. But, as we now know, that court appearance never happened.

    Glenn

  44. [...] but there are some that aren’t.  I have been surprised that my 3-year old post on the Trial of Joseph’s Assassins has suddenly developed a spirited discussion.  I want to keep that post on topic, so I have [...]

  45. Thanks Glenn, that is interesting. I appreciate you answering my question to the best of your ability. I will keep up my research and if I have any more questions, I will ask you, Thanks again, Robert.

  46. [...] I thought my Carthage post was long dormant, but it has received a burst of activity lately.  One commenter has decided that [...]

  47. terrible tragedies like the tarring and feathering and hangman mobs occurred. My question is, (and I don’t mean any disrespect at all), Is why was there any conflict at all? In both Missouri and Illinois. You here of no other religious organizations at that time, Pretty much the 1800′s that dealt in so many Physical conflicts.

    In regards to the 1833 troubles in Missouri, the powder keg was most certainly the newspaper article by W.W. Phelps. That’s not the only issue, but it was a big issue. You had northern “Yankee” Mormons moving into Independence, Missouri, trying to coexist with “Southern” Missourians. As with any religious group that tends to congregate, there were suspicions. We have that today. When Muslims, or Mexicans, or Blacks, or Italians, or Polish people, or Jews, move into any area, the “natives” resist it. We’ve experienced that for the entire life of our country. Currently, it is acceptable to complain about illegal aliens (mostly Mexicans) in our country, taking our jobs. This is no different today than 1833, except (1) Mormons have a religious component, and (2) slavery was a divisive topic. So, I see this as a clash of cultures more than a religious problem specifically in 1833. The Church was just too young for Missourians to be all that impressed with the theology of Mormons. Muslims and Mexicans are treated very similar today, though without the violence because the U.S. is more settled and there really is no frontier justice any more.

    Now, the issues of Ohio are different. Much of that had to do with the Kirtland Banking Crisis. Following the collapse of the mismanaged bank, many church members questioned the leadership of Joseph Smith and turned against him. In that case many of the persecutors were former members.

    In regards to Illinois, the persecution was due to polygamy, and the Nauvoo Charter that protected Joseph from (what the Mormons viewed) were spurious claims initiated in Missouri. Following the expulsion of Mormons in Jackson County, Missouri, they went to Dewitt and Davies Counties. Once again, block voting and culture clash erupted. After several skirmishes where the Mormons were attacked, they decided to attack Missourians. This incited the Missourians even more, and Governor Boggs issued the Extermination Order, expelling Mormons from the state. Now imagine your state expelling Muslims (or Baptists) from the state. Can you understand what an amazing proclamation this is? Not even the Branch Davidians were expelled from Texas, but instead died in a fiery inferno.

    So, I think the factors are multiple, and it’s not helpful to just feel like Mormons were expelled simply because of their religion. It had more to do with politics than religion, though religion was certainly part of it.

  48. As for my first post, I stand by that 100 percent unless you can explain otherwise.

    Ok, let’s look back at that comment and break it down.

    Joseph Smith is supposed to be a profit of god, which I do not believe a profit of god would have a smuggled pistol or possibility injure or kill any one.

    Not sure why you can’t spell prophet, but that occurs so often that I often think it’s on purpose. Maybe you’re just a bad speller, I don’t know. If that’s the case, then I’m sorry for taking offense. But it is often a dig at Mormons to purposely spell it profit. If it was unintentional, then ok.

    But let’s address the issue of whether a [prophet] “of god would have a smuggled pistol or possibility injure or kill any one.”

    Do you believe in the Bible? Do you believe that Moses, Joshua, and Elijah were prophets? I suspect you do. Did you know that Moses killed an Egyptian? Do you know that Joshua massacred the entire city of Jericho? (I’ve talked about Joshua’s Unholy War (and yes this is my opinion, not my church’s.) I’ve got real problems with Joshua and the city of Jericho. Did you know that Elijah ordered the death of the priests of Baal? Is that your concept of a prophet?

    I’m sure I could come up with other examples, but Joseph defending himself against a mob of 200 trying to kill him is much easier proposition to defend that Joshua massacring an entire city. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.”

    Here you have this “Saint”, who supposedly is a profit of god was who had a warrant out for his arrest for violated someones freedom of press, who had someones buisness destroyed.

    I’ve already discussed this. I think you and I agree that freedom of the press isn’t a capital crime. Yes it was wrong, but Joseph acted no differently than Missouri vigilantees in 1833. That doesn’t excuse Joseph’s actions, but it does shed a different light on things. I’m sure that as mayor, Joseph felt his actions were legal and similar to the 1833 mob actions in Missouri.

    It almost sounds like the moffia today. The guy is a nut case.

    Completely unnecessary and un-Christian commentary. And you wonder why I got upset?

    The Mormon people base their religion on a 15 year old that was not happy in life and had an unwitnessed vision of god and had no physical proof of the gold tablets, other than a pocket full of dust in his pocket?

    Do you have any proof of Moses and the 10 Commandments? How about Jesus turning water to wine? How about proof of the resurrection? How about proof of walking on water? Do you have proof that Jesus was not an illegitimate child?

    Some things must be taken on faith.

    That is scarey.

    Unnecessary commentary again that doesn’t sound respectful. And you wonder why I called you a bigot? Do you use this language around your Mormon family of 500? No wonder they think your are a joke if you do use this language. It’s absolutely disrespectful.

  49. [...] I’m also curious how you think as well as Joseph Smith felt about the right to bear arms.  On the one hand it could be argued that Joseph was for the right to bear arms.  After all, the church has a storied history of the Nauvoo Legion, and Joseph even attained the rank of general in the Nauvoo Legion. On the other hand, Joseph was the victim of too many guns in the hands of a mob.  While Joseph did have a gun smuggled in the Carthage Jail and shot some of his attackers, he was no match for an armed mob of 200 with fully armed rifles.  Would Joseph have wished those guns were confiscated and/or registered so that we might have had a conviction.  Nobody was convicted of Joseph and Hyrum’s murder, despite the fact that some in the mob had wounds inflicted by Joseph Smith.  (Dallin Oaks book is an awesome reference on the Trial of Joseph’s assassins.) [...]

  50. [...] I’m also curious how you think Joseph Smith felt about the right to bear arms.  On the one hand it could be argued that Joseph was for the right to bear arms.  After all, the church has a storied history of the Nauvoo Legion, and Joseph even attained the rank of general in the Nauvoo Legion. On the other hand, Joseph was the victim of too many guns in the hands of a mob.  While Joseph did have a gun smuggled in the Carthage Jail and shot some of his attackers, he was no match for an armed mob of 200 with fully armed rifles.  Would Joseph have wished those guns were confiscated and/or registered so that we might have had a conviction.  Nobody was convicted of Joseph and Hyrum’s murder, despite the fact that some in the mob had wounds inflicted by Joseph Smith.  (Dallin Oaks book is an awesome reference on the Trial of Joseph’s assassins.) [...]

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