Cultures In Conflict

Cultures In Conflict: A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois

John E. Hallwas
Roger D. Launius
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Cultures In Conflict
    Book Description:

    Cultures in Conflict offers students of history an invaluable source of documents regarding the history of the Mormon presence in Illinois. Few local histories are so academically sound. —Illinois Times Hallwas and Launius have compiled and written the most balanced and thorough account yet of the events and circumstances that led to the forced Mormon exodus from Nauvoo following the mini civil war that erupted in Illinois during the 1849s

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-336-2
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. [Map]
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The so-called Mormon conflict that occurred in Hancock County, Illinois, during the 1840s has been frequently discussed by historians but is not well understood. Nevertheless, the main events in that famous frontier episode are easily summarized. Expelled from Missouri in 1839, the Mormons fled to western Illinois, where they soon established the city of Nauvoo under the leadership of their prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr. Situated on a bend of the Mississippi River in Hancock County, Nauvoo grew rapidly during the next seven years as a flood of Latter Day Saints settled in the area.¹ A separatist community with a zionic...

  6. Part I: The Coming of the Mormons
    • Introduction
      (pp. 15-17)

      During the bitter winter of 1838–1839 some five thousand Latter Day Saints crossed the Mississippi River from Missouri and settled in western Illinois. Since the organization of the Mormon Church almost ten years before, this group of religious pioneers, led by Joseph Smith, Jr., had received the brunt of political rhetoric, social ostracism, and in some cases, mob violence. These people came to Illinois in 1838 and 1839 not as ordinary settlers but as refugees from neighboring Missouri, where the state’s population had expelled them following a brutal and deadly conflict.

      In Illinois during the early 1840s, these people...

    • 1 The Lay of the Land
      (pp. 18-20)

      In the winter of 1838–1839 the beleaguered Mormons began to settle in western Illinois, following their expulsion from Missouri. At first many of them moved into Adams County, on the Mississippi River around Quincy, where they were welcomed as an unjustly persecuted people. The Saints, as they called themselves, purchased property in Hancock County, about fifty miles north of Quincy, and settled in an area originally platted as the town of Commerce. They changed the name to Nauvoo and began to build a major river port and religious center for the sect. When the Mormons arrived, Hancock County was...

    • 2 Mormon Nauvoo
      (pp. 20-21)

      This short article, “Nauvoo,” Sangamo Journal (Springfield, Ill.), 9 February 1841, p. 2, is a remarkable non-Mormon description of the establishment of the principal Mormon community in Hancock County. It is a generally sympathetic account, noting that the Saints had been illegitimately expelled from Missouri by force and concluding that they were “generally quiet, industrious and economical.” It demonstrates that many people in western Illinois were well disposed toward the Mormons during the first years of their stay in Illinois because they viewed the sect as more quaint than threatening.

      This city is in the north-western part of Hancock county,...

    • 3 The Nauvoo City Charter
      (pp. 21-24)

      Perhaps the most important political act in the early years of the Mormon settlement was the passage of a city charter by the Illinois state legislature in December 1840. The document established the legal bulwark for the erection of the Mormon kingdom at Nauvoo. It might seem surprising, but the Illinois legislature passed this charter rather easily. During the same term, it passed forty-seven other acts of incorporation, seven of which were city charters. The passage of incorporating legislation was routine, but the lawmakers were especially motivated to approve this particular charter for two reasons: (1) the sympathy of fellow...

    • 4 Mormon Leaders on the Gathering to Nauvoo
      (pp. 24-29)

      In January 1841, fresh from the establishment of Nauvoo as a legally incorporated city, the Latter Day Saint First Presidency issued an important proclamation to followers around the world. It describes the church’s rise, phoenixlike, from the ashes of the debacle in Missouri. It also comments favorably on the passage of the Nauvoo Charter as legal protection against persecution. Joseph Smith also recognizes the assistance he and his people had received from several political and business leaders in Illinois in establishing Nauvoo, and contrasts their actions favorably with the hostility and violence the Saints had suffered in Missouri. Most importantly,...

    • 5 A Non-Mormon Reminiscence of Nauvoo
      (pp. 29-32)

      The following reminiscence by Eudocia Baldwin Marsh is a vivid and interesting account of Mormon Nauvoo from the perspective of a non-Mormon girl. Marsh was born in Geneva, New York, in 1829. Her father, Epaphras Baldwin, had been an officer in the army during the War of 1812 and had settled in Illinois in 1833 to claim land in the Military Tract. The Baldwins lived on a farm outside of Carthage, the Hancock County seat, throughout the 1840s. It is clear that they were not sympathetic to the strong Mormon influence in the county, but neither were they anti-Mormons since...

    • 6 A Minister Criticizes warsaw and Nauvoo
      (pp. 32-35)

      One of the most active missionary organizations in the United States during the 1840s was the American Home Missionary Society, based in New York City. Sponsored by the Presbyterian and Congregational churches, it had twenty ministers working full-time in Illinois by 1840. One of these men was Benjamin F. Morris, who by 1841 was presiding over a mission in Warsaw. From this position in the chief rival community to Mormon Nauvoo, he had a ringside seat for the Mormon conflict in Hancock County. In this quarterly report to the missionary board, he describes his perspectives on Christianity in Hancock County...

    • 7 Remarks of the Prophet to Saints Newly Arrived from England 13 April 1843
      (pp. 35-38)

      Beginning in 1840, the Mormon missionaries in England began to send emigrants to settle in Nauvoo. Through 1842 nearly 3,000 had come to America, and in 1843 an additional 769 emigrated. All came in response to Joseph Smith’s call for the building up of Nauvoo as a Mormon center, to work on the Nauvoo temple, and to prepare for the advent of Christ’s millennial reign. This public speech by Joseph Smith to some immigrants to Nauvoo is a marvelous mixture of American and religious values. It demonstrates something of his mythic vision of mission and destiny. In this document Smith...

    • 8 A Western Pennsylvanian Reports on Nauvoo
      (pp. 38-44)

      David N. White (1803–88), the editor of the Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, visited Nauvoo in August 1843 and interviewed Joseph Smith at his home. He was attracted to Nauvoo because of the “far-famed kingdom of the ‘Latter-day Saints’” and wrote a graphic contemporary description of the city and its inhabitants. Like many other non-Mormons visiting Nauvoo, White was mesmerized by the temple that dominated the city’s landscape both physically and culturally. His description is one of the finest contemporary accounts written by a non-Mormon. White sought out Smith and recorded an intriguing interview with the Mormon prophet, one which delineates...

    • 9 Josiah Quincy on Joseph Smith
      (pp. 44-51)

      In the spring of 1844 Josiah Quincy (1802–82) visited Nauvoo while on a trip to the West with his cousin, Charles Francis Adams. Both were members of the New England upper class. Adams was the son of former president John Quincy Adams and grandson of Revolutionary War rabble-rouser and second U.S. president John Adams. Charles Francis Adams later was minister to Great Britain and a writer of considerable stature. Quincy’s family was only a little less distinguished; his father had been the mayor of Boston and was then the president of Harvard College. In 1845 Quincy was elected mayor...

    • 10 An Iowa Sheriff on the Mormons
      (pp. 51-55)

      In contrast to the elevated, touristlike perspective of Josiah Quincy, Hawkins Taylor (1811-?) presents an everyday view of the Saints in Nauvoo in this recollection written in 1876. He had been born on 15 November 1811 in Kentucky, but within a year or two, his family had moved to southern Indiana, where he grew up. He had only three months of formal schooling but was literate enough to consider studying law for a time. In 1831 he went to Missouri, working in Hannibal, but quickly moved on to the lead-mine country of Galena in the northwestern part of Illinois. In...

    • 11 Celebrating the Power of Mormon Nauvoo
      (pp. 55-58)

      This article, “Celebration of the Anniversary of the Church—Military Parade—Prest. Rigdon’s Address—Laying the Corner Stones of the Temple,” Times and Seasons 2 (15 April 1841): 375–77, is a remarkable description of the secular power of the new Mormon stronghold. The military pomp of the temple cornerstone ceremony described here assured the Saints that they would never again have to suffer the kind of oppression they had experienced in Missouri. With the passage of the Nauvoo Charter and the authority it gave, they felt safe behind the walls of Zion. And the ceremony also symbolized their unity...

    • 12 Life in Nauvoo from a Non-Mormon Perspective
      (pp. 58-61)

      Charlotte Haven, a non-Mormon visitor from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, arrived as a teenager in Nauvoo in December 1842 and stayed for a year with her brother and his wife. There she wrote several letters about life in the Mormon city. A small non-Mormon community existed in Nauvoo, made up of businessmen, their families, and a few nonmember spouses of Mormons. Haven was a part of this community and found that a comfort while living in what she regarded as an alien culture. While there she also joined the Mormons in various social and cultural activities. As a non-Mormon, she was...

    • 13 The Mormon Leadership on Nauvoo
      (pp. 62-64)

      The Mormon community was growing rapidly during the early 1840s. After having been pushed from place to place, and having seen their religious dreams go unfulfilled, the Latter Day Saints regarded Nauvoo as both a refuge for the present and a promise for the future. This report to the church’s membership made by the organization’s First Presidency, the three-man senior leadership organization, offers thanks for deliverance from Missouri and, like the ceremonial speech of Sidney Rigdon (see Document 11 above) reveals that the myth of religious persecution was essential to the Mormon identity. In other words, interpreting any and all...

  7. Part II: The Origins of the Conflict
    • Introduction
      (pp. 67-69)

      Many non-Mormons in Hancock County probably disliked the Mormons from the first, in the same way that most Americans have generally disliked what they have viewed as religious fanaticism, but they were initially disposed toward tolerance because they sympathized with the Saints as refugees from oppression in Missouri. That view, however, soon began to change. Some of the Mormons, embittered against Gentiles because of their recent experience and impoverished because of their forced abandonment of homes in Missouri, stole food, livestock, and other things from farms in the Nauvoo area. And non-Mormons soon learned that trips to Nauvoo in search...

    • 1 A Non-Mormon Report of Mormon Theft
      (pp. 70-72)

      Shortly after the Mormons arrived in Hancock County and before much political antagonism had developed, residents in some townships noted a significant increase in theft. Livestock, food, clothes, and other items were taken, and the Mormons were immediately blamed. As early as 15 July 1840, for example, the Warsaw Message reported that Hancock County residents were griping about “petty depredations … such as the loss of various small instruments of agriculture.” After the killing of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in 1844, some non-Mormons responded to public criticism of the mob violence at Carthage jail by forming a Central Committee to...

    • 2 Oral History Accounts of Mormon Theft
      (pp. 72-75)

      Recollections of Mormon theft remained vivid in the minds of some non-Mormons until late in their lives and were often passed along to family members. In the later nineteenth century Foster Walker of Pontoosuc, located ten miles north of Nauvoo, began conducting interviews with pioneers who recalled the Mormon era and with relatives of others who had already died. He had been born in Ohio in 1836 and had come to the Pontoosuc area with his family during the 1850s. His father was a farmer, and Walker himself farmed for many years. At the turn of the century he was...

    • 3 A Farmer’s Wife on Mormon Theft
      (pp. 75-77)

      The memoir of Eudocia Baldwin Marsh (located in the Archives, Knox College Library, Galesburg, Illinois; see the headnote for Part I, Document 5) includes the following account of how Joseph Smith avoided paying a debt to a non-Mormon farmer. Although she does not name the farmer, he was apparently John W. Marsh, who later married her, according to a footnote by Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, who edited this reminiscence as “Mormons in Hancock County: A Reminiscence,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 64 (Spring 1971): 42–45. As Marsh’s introductory comments reveal, she regarded Smith’s failure...

    • 4 An 1840 Assessment of Smith’s Political Power
      (pp. 78-79)

      Located almost fifty miles south of Nauvoo was Quincy, an important Mississippi River town where the Mormons had found temporary refuge in 1839. The editor of the Quincy Whig from 1838 until his death in 1851 was Sylvester M. Bartlett, a native of Massachusetts who had edited newspapers in St. Louis and Galena, Illinois, before moving to Quincy. During the 1840s he took an interest in Mormon affairs and was present, for example, at the laying of the temple cornerstone at Nauvoo in 1841. Perhaps his most interesting article is focused on Joseph Smith a few months after his return...

    • 5 “Our Position—Again”: An Editorial by Thomas Sharp
      (pp. 79-81)

      Thomas C. Sharp (1813–94), editor of the Warsaw Signal, became one of the most vocal opponents of the Mormons in Illinois and did much to incite the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in 1844. Born in Mount Holly, New Jersey, he studied at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and was admitted to the bar in 1840. Later that year he came west to Quincy, where he briefly practiced law before moving to Warsaw. In November 1840, he and printer James Gamble bought the local newspaper, which Sharp soon renamed the Warsaw Signal. Except for later 1842 and 1843,...

    • 6 A Brief Historical Sketch of the Anti-Mormon Party
      (pp. 81-82)

      No resident of early Hancock County was more interested in history than Thomas Gregg (1808–92), a newspaperman who eventually wrote an extensive county history and a biography of Joseph Smith. Born in Belmont, Ohio, Gregg was raised in a Quaker family. In 1822 he became a printer’s devil, an apprentice, in nearby St. Clairsville. He was already writing poetry and essays when he moved to Cincinnati in 1835. Later that year he came west, to Carthage, Illinois, where he founded the town’s first newspaper and a short-lived magazine. In the decades that followed, Gregg edited several other newspapers and...

    • 7 The Prophet on the Local Political Campaign
      (pp. 82-85)

      The Illinois gubernatorial election of 1842 pitted Democrat Adam W Snyder against Whig Joseph Duncan, who had been governor from 1834 to 1838. Joseph Smith became an outspoken supporter of Snyder, urging his followers to vote for him and for John Moore, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. That immediately brought criticism from non-Mormons, especially Whigs, who felt that Smith was using his religious position to subvert popular government. One such critic was Sylvester M. Bartlett, editor of the Quincy Whig, whose article from the 22 January 1842 Whig, p. 2, is reprinted here. (See the headnote for Part II,...

    • 8 The Prophet and the 1843 Congressional Race
      (pp. 85-87)

      Smith’s delivery of Mormon votes for a congressional candidate also led to criticism. In 1843 he had at first promised his support to Cyrus Walker, a Whig from nearby McDonough County. Walker was a brilliant lawyer who had defended Smith against charges brought from Missouri at Dixon, Illinois, a few months earlier—probably in exchange for Smith’s political support. But there was a change in plans, evidently because Democratic leaders had agreed to provide Smith with protection from his Missouri pursuers. At a meeting in Nauvoo on 6 August 1843, Smith told his followers to listen to the counsel of...

    • 9 A Mormon Account of Smith’s Missouri Troubles
      (pp. 87-90)

      Lyman O. Littlefield (1819–88), a long-standing adherent to Mormonism, had been expelled from Missouri in 1839 with the other Latter Day Saints and came to Quincy, eventually settling in Nauvoo in 1841. When the Mormons started leaving the city in 1846, he remained behind for a time to edit the Hancock Eagle, but that newspaper failed in the fall. He subsequently took his family to the Great Basin and was one of the founders of the Mormon community of Logan, Utah, where he edited a newspaper, the Utah Journal. He also published a memoir of his experience in the...

    • 10 The Prophet’s Speech on His Arrest and Habeas Corpus
      (pp. 91-97)

      After Joseph Smith returned to Nauvoo, following his arrest by a Missouri official at Dixon, Illinois, in June 1843, he delivered a speech to the Mormon people who had welcomed him back in triumph. It reveals his resentment of the Missouri authorities and his determination to oppose them with military force if necessary. The speech also expressed his view of Nauvoo as a kind of city-state, loosely federated with Illinois, where Mormon power was absolute. “All the power there was in Illinois she gave to Nauvoo,” he announced. Of course, no legislator in Illinois would have supported that view, nor...

    • 11 The State of Warsaw: A Lyceum Speech
      (pp. 97-101)

      In the fall of 1843 some residents of Warsaw formed a civic group called the Warsaw Legislature, which was devoted to formulating and espousing their political ideology. It was a lyceum in which people of the community, pretending that Warsaw was a separate state, acted as a democratic assembly to discuss current issues and propose possible legislation. Without question the organization was a response to Mormon influence in the county. By the fall of 1843 Smith’s control of his followers had been repeatedly criticized, and most Hancock County offices were in the hands of church members or Mormon sympathizers. The...

    • 12 A Neighboring County Becomes Alarmed
      (pp. 101-102)

      The emergence of the Mormons as the dominant political force in Hancock County and the stories about Joseph Smith bargaining for political favors by controlling Mormon votes had an impact on non-Mormons elsewhere in western Illinois. In the adjacent county to the east, McDonough, a resolution was adopted that reflected the growing alarm about the Mormon threat to democratic government. Although it may not have been published in 1842 or 1843 when it was first drafted—for McDonough County had no newspaper until 1851—the resolution was probably posted as a broadside. A copy of it was later found and...

    • 13 Concerns about Mormon Despotism: An 1844 Historical Account
      (pp. 103-108)

      Perhaps the earliest historical account of the conflict between Mormons and non-Mormons in Hancock County was published shortly after the death of Joseph Smith and his brother at the hands of an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage. Written by George T. M. Davis (1810–?) of Alton, Illinois, just north of St. Louis on the Mississippi River, it was entitled An Authentic Account of the Massacre of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, and Hyrum Smith, His Brother, Together with a Brief History of the Rise and Progress of Mormonism, and All the Circumstances Which Led to Their Death (St. Louis: Chambers...

  8. Part III: The Trouble in Nauvoo
    • Introduction
      (pp. 111-114)

      No aspect of the Mormon conflict has been less thoroughly and critically examined than the developments within Nauvoo in 1843 and 1844 that led to dissent, repression, and violence.¹ For too long the trouble in Nauvoo has been understated rather than understood. The vast majority of scholars interested in Mormon history have been believing Latter-day Saints for whom the Mormon past is a sacred drama, and a thoroughgoing scholarly examination of the assertions, conflicts, and events that culminated in the Expositor affair inevitably challenges cherished Mormon conceptions of the past. These scholars, honest in intent and sound in methodology, have...

    • 1 John C. Bennett’s Exposé
      (pp. 115-121)

      The most explosive issue within Nauvoo was polygamy, and the man who brought it to public attention was John Cook Bennett (1804–67). Born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, he received a license to practice medicine in Ohio in 1825. Although he claimed to have degrees from the University of Ohio at Athens and a medical college in Montreal, existing records do not support his assertions. After attempting to start colleges in Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, Bennett moved to Illinois, leaving behind a wife and two children in Ohio. He later received a divorce. Bennett settled at Fairfield in southern Illinois,...

    • 2 A Young Woman Rejects a Polygamous Relationship
      (pp. 121-125)

      Martha Brotherton, an immigrant from England, also came forward with an account of her attempted seduction at Nauvoo. At the request of John C. Bennett (see Part III, Document 1), she wrote him a long letter, which was a formal affidavit, and gave him permission to use it. He sent it to various newspapers and later printed it in his book, The History of the Saints; or, An Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism (Boston: Leland and Whitney, 1842), 236–40.

      The letter is a detailed description of being pressured by Brigham Young to become one of his plural wives....

    • 3 An Apostle’s Wife Recalls Smith, Bennett, and Polygamy
      (pp. 125-128)

      Corroboration for part of John C. Bennett’s exposé came from Sarah Pratt, the wife of Mormon apostle Orson Pratt. In 1842 she had been approached by Smith about becoming his “spiritual wife” while her husband was on a mission to England and Scotland. Brigham Young told her to say nothing but “do as Joseph wished.” She refused him and apparently declined to keep the matter quiet, so she was slandered as a loose woman who was having an affair with Bennett in order to discredit her comments about Smith.

      When her husband returned to Nauvoo, he found a sordid situation...

    • 4 Polygamy and Politics: A Non-Mormon Response
      (pp. 128-130)

      Charlotte Haven, a non-Mormon whose letters about life in Nauvoo appear in Part I, wrote briefly about the most controversial aspects of the community—polygamy and politics—in a letter dated 8 September 1843. With respect to Mormon political activity, Haven commented that Smith used his brother Hyrum to switch Mormon support from one party to another. (For a discussion of that matter, see the headnote to Part II, Document 8). Her remarks show that at least some of the non-Mormons in the area recognized that “political ruse” for what it was—an attempt to deliver votes to the Democrats...

    • 5 The Reformed Mormon Church
      (pp. 131-132)

      In April 1844, a group of Mormon dissidents who opposed polygamy and objected to the decline of civil rights in Nauvoo broke with the prophet and established the Reformed Mormon Church. Under the leadership of William Law (1809–92), who was chosen as president, the dissenters began to hold meetings at which the prophet was publicly criticized and to visit local families to see who would join with them. Law had come from the Toronto area late in 1839. A leading businessman, he became a counselor to Joseph Smith in the church presidency. (For more on Law, see the headnote...

    • 6 An Exposé Poem on Smith’s Polygamy
      (pp. 132-138)

      In 1844 two lyrics appeared in the Warsaw newspaper under the pseudonym Buckey. Both criticized Smith’s polygamy. They were obviously written by a very well-informed person who had become disenchanted with him. Mormon historians have traditionally assigned the authorship to Wilson Law, the brother of dissident leader William Law. The Laws had come to Nauvoo late in 1839. Wilson became a well-respected leader, serving one term as president of the city council. He was also appointed brigadier general of the Nauvoo Legion, a position that he held until his association with the dissenting Mormons caused him to be dismissed in...

    • 7 The Prophet Denies “Spiritual Wifeism”
      (pp. 138-141)

      The public accusations of polygamy leveled against Smith by the dissidents forced him to respond. He did so in a speech to the community on 26 May 1844, reprinted here from Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1912), 6:408–12. Despite his long practice of taking plural wives and his issuance of a revelation—to close associates only—that justified polygamy, Smith continued publicly to deny all such charges. Moreover, those who accused him—including William and Wilson Law, who are named in...

    • 8 The Nauvoo Expositor
      (pp. 142-148)

      In May 1844, leaders of the Reformed Mormon Church, aided by non-Mormon Sylvester Emmons, launched a newspaper that was independent of the control of the Latter Day Saint hierarchy. The Expositor was a means to express dissent—perhaps the ultimate form of adherence to an ideal, for the dissenters felt their cause was so important that they were willing to endure censure for it—and through it the publishers hoped to arouse the community against the secret practice of polygamy, raise concern about other doctrines, and curb Joseph Smith’s theocratic control.

      The first—and only—issue appeared on 7 June...

    • 9 The Nauvoo City Council Acts against the “Expositor”
      (pp. 149-156)

      Perhaps no document shows more clearly how Joseph Smith dominated the government of his community than the account of the 8 June 1844 city council meeting (continued on 10 June), at which the Expositor was declared a nuisance that must be destroyed. Reprinted here are the council minutes as they appeared in the Nauvoo Neighbor, 19 June 1844, pp. 2–3. They show that Smith called the newspaper a “treasonable” threat to the city’s “chartered rights,” asserted that the dissenters wanted to incite violence against Nauvoo, and called for the paper’s destruction no less than four times during the meeting....

    • 10 A Dissenter Reports the Destruction of the “Expositor”
      (pp. 156-159)

      Joseph Smith moved very quickly against the Expositor. After the city council agreed on what should be done about the press, Smith acted as mayor to order the city police to destroy it, and then he acted as lieutenant general of the Nauvoo Legion to provide military support for the institutionalized violence. The press was destroyed without prior notice on the evening of 10 June 1844, before the dissenters could get out their second issue. (Smith’s haste was no doubt prompted by the editors’ statement that subsequent issues of the Expositor would publish “Affadavits … to substantiate the facts alleged.”)...

    • 11 John Taylor Defends the Destruction of the “Expositor”
      (pp. 159-160)

      The actions of Joseph Smith and the Nauvoo City Council in destroying the Expositor were defended by John Taylor (1808–87), the editor of the Nauvoo Neighbor. Born and raised in Milnthorpe, England, he immigrated to Canada in 1830 and was baptized in Toronto in 1836. After joining the Mormon Church and making an important missionary trip to England, he moved to Kirtland, Ohio, then to Missouri, and finally to the Nauvoo area in 1839. He edited The Millennial Star, assisted Joseph Smith in publishing the Times and Seasons, and later founded and edited the Nauvoo Neighbor. All were sanctioned...

    • 12 The Dissenters Flee to Burlington
      (pp. 161-162)

      David Wells Kilbourne (1803–76) was a well-to-do farmer who had immigrated to Iowa Territory from England. He had nothing to do with the events in Hancock County, but he was a resident of Fort Madison on 12 June 1844, when word came that Joseph Smith had destroyed the Reformed Church newspaper at Nauvoo and that the Mormon dissenters had been threatened and feared for their lives. The people of Fort Madison responded with a riverboat of volunteers to assist in their evacuation. The dissident families were taken to Burlington.

      Kilbourne was apparently one of the volunteers, and during the...

    • 13 William Law Recalls the “Expositor” Affair
      (pp. 163-165)

      The destruction of the Expositor was a tragedy for William Law (1809–92), the president of the new Reformed Mormon Church and a copublisher of the newspaper. A native of Ireland, Law had immigrated to America as a child and later settled in Churchville, Ontario. Converted to the Mormon Church in 1836, he led a caravan of Canadian Saints to Nauvoo three years later. He became a leading businessman and in 1841 was selected as a counselor in the First Presidency to advise Joseph Smith. However, in 1843 he objected to the new doctrine of polygamy and to the concentration...

    • 14 Willard Richards Pleads for Help
      (pp. 165-168)

      One of Joseph Smith’s most trusted associates was Willard Richards (1804–54). He had been born and raised in Massachusetts and was a physician living in Boston in 1835 when he first read the Book of Mormon. He decided to move to Kirtland, Ohio, where he joined the church the following year. He was one of the first missionaries to England in 1837, and while on the mission in 1840, he was called to fill a vacancy in the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and was ordained in England by his cousin, Brigham Young. In the closing years of the prophet’s...

    • 15 Isaac and Sarah Scott Comment on the Trouble in Nauvoo
      (pp. 169-172)

      Joseph Smith’s more controversial doctrines and his suppression of the dissenters caused some members of the church to become disenchanted. Isaac and Sarah Scott were two of them. Isaac was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1819. Sarah was born in 1823 and raised in Sutton, Massachusetts. In 1843 they were married in Sutton and then moved to Nauvoo, where Isaac farmed and Sarah taught school. By that time they had been members of the Latter Day Saints Church for several years.

      Their letter of 16 June 1844 is reprinted from a collection...

  9. Part IV: The Murders in Carthage
    • Introduction
      (pp. 175-180)

      Perhaps the greatest mistake of Joseph Smith’s life—certainly it was the most costly—was the destruction of the Expositor, published by Mormon dissidents in June 1844. In another time, another circumstance, Smith might have gotten away with this action. Not this time. The individuals Smith sought to destroy were part of Mormonism’s middle class, persons who enjoyed both power and prestige—as well as professional acceptance and understanding—outside the church. Paul M. Edwards suggests that within the church this class is often at odds with authorities and “feel[s] excluded from power because they are neither rich enough (in...

    • 1 Fanning Flames
      (pp. 181-184)

      Close on the heels of the Nauvoo City Council’s action to silence the Expositor on 10 June 1844, anti-Mormon groups began to organize opposition designed to get rid of the problem of Joseph Smith permanently. The Expositor incident provided the type of flagrant violation of law that diehard anti-Mormons required to take action against Smith. They saw it as the final act in a long list of abuses of legal secular authority by Nauvoo officials and felt it demanded a prompt response. They quickly found support even among those non-Mormons without strong antipathies because of the Nauvoo authorities’ violation of...

    • 2 Mormon Justifications
      (pp. 185-189)

      When it became clear to Smith that the non-Mormons of Hancock County had united in opposing the destruction of the Expositor and were committed, like never before, to arresting and penalizing the Mormons responsible for the action, he tried to explain his position to Governor Thomas Ford of Illinois and implore his intercession. In the midst of the crisis, on Wednesday, 12 June 1844, the first attempt was made to arrest the Mormon leaders. David Bettisworth, a constable from Carthage, visited Nauvoo with a warrant for Joseph and Hyrum Smith, W. W. Phelps, John Taylor, and several others on the...

    • 3 The Last Speech of Joseph Smith
      (pp. 190-194)

      As pressure on Joseph Smith grew stronger in the two weeks following the destruction of the Expositor press, he responded with increasingly tough comments. He wrote to his uncle, John Smith, in another Mormon settlement outside Nauvoo on 17 June 1844, “that we feel determined in this place not to be dismayed if hell boils over all at once.” He told him to “defend yourselves to the very last, and if they fall upon you with a superior force, and if you think you are not able to compete with them, retreat to Nauvoo. But we hope for better things,...

    • 4 “The Condition of Affairs in Nauvoo Were Very Critical”
      (pp. 194-199)

      The following account by Edward Stevenson (1820–97), a young convert to Mormonism who had been born in Gibraltar, Spain, a colony of Great Britain, exemplifies the feelings in Nauvoo at the time of Joseph Smith’s arrest and removal to Carthage for trial. Smith tried desperately to avoid leaving Nauvoo because he was convinced, rightly as it turned out, that he was not safe as a result of the backlash from the Expositor incident. But once he realized that he had to turn himself in, or lose the confidence of some Mormons, he prepared his followers to view him as...

    • 5 Non-Mormon Preparations
      (pp. 199-200)

      Using the warsaw Signal as a means of stirring up anti-Mormon sentiment after the destruction of the Expositor, Thomas C. Sharp kept up constant pressure in Hancock County for action against Joseph Smith and the Mormons. The illegal way in which the Nauvoo City Council had handled the Expositor incident certainly contributed, for it served as a major new rallying point for the non-Mormons. Joseph Smith had violated the law, and ultimately he would be forced to answer for it by legal authorities of the state. If he would not surrender peaceably, he would be forced to submit. That was...

    • 6 The Last Letters of the Prophet to His Family
      (pp. 201-202)

      The relationship of Joseph Smith, Jr., to his wife, Emma Hale (1804–79), was often stormy but always passionate. In some instances they mixed like fire and water, clashing over such things as family finances and debts. They also never agreed on plural marriage, Emma railing against it privately, denying it publicly, and in at least one instance with the Relief Society, organizing women in Nauvoo to combat it. Yet the Smiths had a magnetic attraction to each other, expressed through mutual tenderness and deep respect.

      On Monday, 24 June 1844, Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum, and several others rode...

    • 7 An Official Explanation of the Trouble in Hancock County
      (pp. 203-213)

      It had been difficult to achieve the arrest of Smith and other Mormon leaders, and Governor Ford had personally pledged to protect them. When the Smith brothers were murdered three days later, he felt betrayed and injured by the non-Mormon residents of Hancock County. Not only had they caused him to violate his personal honor, something that he highly prized, but the mob had acted while he was in Nauvoo making a speech to the Latter Day Saints. He had purposely not taken a large militia with him to Nauvoo because he neither wanted to needlessly intimidate the Saints nor...

    • 8 A Mormon Woman’s Reflections on the Smith Murders
      (pp. 214-216)

      Vilate Kimball (1806–67) was a young Latter Day Saint living in Nauvoo during the Expositor affair and its aftermath in June 1844. The wife of apostle Heber C. Kimball, at the time in the eastern states on a missionary trip, she was a keen observer and careful reporter of events in the city in two letters to her husband. She began her first letter to Heber Kimball on 9 June, just after the appearance of the first and only Expositor issue but before the press had been destroyed. She added a section on 11 June reporting on the destruction...

    • 9 The Official Mormon Rendition of the Murders
      (pp. 217-220)

      Within days of the assassinations at the Carthage jail on 27 June 1844, several accounts of the episode appeared in the press. The Times and Seasons, the official religious newspaper of the Latter Day Saints at Nauvoo, was one of the first to prepare a full account. It included a brief description of the last four days of Joseph Smith, essentially from the time of his surrender to Governor Ford on the morning of Monday, 24 June 1844, until his death in the late afternoon of 27 June. Signed by Willard Richards, John Taylor, and Samuel H. Smith, the announcement...

    • 10 Willard Richards’s Eyewitness Account from Carthage Jail
      (pp. 220-222)

      At the time of the double assassination at the Carthage jail, Willard Richards and John Taylor were both in the company of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. After the assassination they wrote narratives of their experiences. Richards published his description of the event within weeks of the murders in the Times and Seasons as “Two Minutes in Jail,” 6 (1 August 1844): 598–99. Richards was an apostle in the Mormon Church when the Smith brothers were killed and had long been one of its leaders. (See the biographical sketch in Part III, Document 14.) His article is a vivid and...

    • 11 “Such an Excitement I Never Witnessed in My Life”
      (pp. 222-226)

      In contrast to the perspective from within the jail offered by Willard Richards, the following letter, written by a non-Mormon eyewitness, depicts the scene in Carthage before and during the killings. Samuel Otho Williams (?–1844) was a second lieutenant in the Carthage militia and left a detailed account of the events which took place in June 1844. Although he did not much like the Latter Day Saints, Williams did not consider himself an anti-Mormon and denied any involvement in the conspiracy to murder the Smith brothers. He wrote this sevenpage letter from Carthage to a friend, John Prickett, on...

    • 12 “The Work of Death Has Commenced”
      (pp. 226-228)

      A different view of the murders of the Smiths, a typical non-Mormon position, appears in the contemporary account of David Wells Kilbourne (see the headnote to Part III, Document 12). Kilbourne was certainly not sympathetic to the Latter Day Saints, as shown in this set of letters to a Reverend T. Dent of Billington, near Whalley, Lancashire, England, with whom he corresponded. Kilbourne was a resident of Fort Madison, Iowa Territory, about twelve miles north of Nauvoo on the Mississippi River, and took no part in the actual events.

      This letter, written by a literate and well-informed individual near the...

    • 13 A Youth’s Recollection of the Smith Murders
      (pp. 228-231)

      William R. Hamilton was one of the youngest members of the Carthage Greys at the time of the Smith murders in 1844. Later a judge in the county, he was the son of Artois Hamilton, who owned the hotel in Carthage where the wounded John Taylor was taken and cared for. Hamilton’s letter to Foster Walker (see the biographical sketch of Walker in Part II, Document 2) provides a unique perspective on the activities that took place during the assassination. Walker, a resident of Pontoosuc, in Hancock County, sought recollections from many non-Mormons on this subject near the turn of...

    • 14 “An Authentic Account of the Massacre”
      (pp. 231-233)

      George T. M. Davis was the non-Mormon editor of the Alton Telegraph and Democratic Review, published about eighty miles south on the Mississippi River in Illinois (see Part II, Document 13). He had not been an eyewitness to the Smith brothers’ murders, but he went to Carthage immediately and wrote an account of the entire affair soon afterward, based on personal observations and numerous interviews. No friend of the Mormons, Davis justified the killings as an expedient measure to resolve the problems in Hancock County. While he was biased against the Saints, much of his version of events has been...

    • 15 A View from warsaw
      (pp. 234-237)

      George Rockwell (1815–?), a Warsaw druggist, was a Connecticut native who came west in the early 1840s. He was an active member of the anti-Mormon group in Hancock County during the summer of 1844, and this letter to his father, Thomas H. Rockwell of Ridgefield, Connecticut, contains a vivid description of the activities taking place in the area. It conveys clearly the various fears that the Mormons aroused in the wider populace. Rockwell assesses the nature of the conflict, emphasizing Mormon self-righteousness, separatism, bloc voting, and militarism as central ingredients. His letter explicitly shows, from inside one man’s head,...

    • 16 A Heroic Poem of the Martyrdom
      (pp. 237-240)

      Eliza Roxey Snow (1804–87) was one of the most gifted poets in the early Mormon Church, and a leader of Latter Day Saint women, both at Nauvoo and the Great Basin. Her poem recounting “The Assassination of Generals Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith” offers a heroic image of the Mormon leaders and presents their slaying by an unrighteous world as an event of cosmic significance, second only in spiritual importance to the death of Christ. And it views America as not a locus for Zion but an ungodly place of wickedness from which the Saints must flee. A deeply...

  10. Part V: The Trial and the Violence
    • Introduction
      (pp. 243-246)

      With the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, a détente between the two factions in Hancock County occured and lasted several months. For their part, the anti-Mormons were afraid that the Mormons would call out the Nauvoo Legion and lay waste to Carthage and Warsaw. Moreover, the reaction to the murders of the Smiths was almost universally negative. The press castigated the lynching, the state’s leadership was appalled, and Governor Thomas Ford pledged to bring the ringleaders to justice. In this situation the anti-Mormons felt that the best course was to lay low. At the same time, they tried to...

    • 1 Thomas Sharp on the Hancock County Conflict
      (pp. 247-251)

      Thomas C. Sharp (see Part II, Document 5) wasted little time in mobilizing the Warsaw Signal to explain to non-Mormons in Illinois what had happened in Carthage on 27 June 1844. While few people in the state sympathized with the Mormons, fewer still thought mobocracy was a solution for grievances. Sharp tried to convince them otherwise. Contrary to the narratives of John Taylor and Willard Richards, which emphasized the innocence of the Saints and their persecution by an unrighteous society, or even the nonplussed tone of the Samuel Williams letter, Sharp tried to convey the image of a law-abiding community...

    • 2 The Mormons Call for Calmness
      (pp. 251-253)

      While Thomas C. Sharp and other anti-Mormons in Hancock County defended the murders and sought continued action against the Saints, the Mormon leaders in Nauvoo took a conciliatory stance. They urged the Mormons in the county to try to rebuild their lives, to continue their activities, and to live peacefully. Isaac C. Haight (1813–86), a Mormon living outside of Nauvoo, recalls in his autobiography that “the mob, having accomplished their purpose, began to disperse and peace began to be restored and the Saints to return to their different occupations, harvesting having now commenced. I began to harvest and all...

    • 3 Thomas Ford to the People of Warsaw
      (pp. 253-255)

      Governor Ford (see Part IV, Document 7) was enraged by the murder of the Smith brothers while in the custody of the state, and he moved during the dog days of summer to stabilize the situation in Hancock County. Always a legalist due to his background in the judicial system, he deplored what had happened in Carthage on that June afternoon when the Smiths were shot. He fully believed that Joseph Smith and the Mormons were dangerous elements in the state, and he was convinced of the illegality of their actions in silencing the Nauvoo Expositor, but he was appalled...

    • 4 Isaac and Sarah Scott on the Aftermath of the Murders
      (pp. 256-259)

      Isaac and Sarah Scott (see Part III, Document 15) were living in Nauvoo during the summer of 1844 and wrote an insightful series of letters about their experiences. Members of the Latter Day Saints for several years, they began to dissent from the main body of the church in early 1844 and were in sympathy with the Laws and Fosters in the publication of the Expositor. They comment on the manner in which the Saints at Nauvoo are dealing with the death of their leaders and the question of succession, noting the internal schisms that have emerged. Both also apparently...

    • 5 John Hay on the Trial of the Smiths’ Assassins
      (pp. 259-262)

      John Hay (1838–1905) was born in Salem, Indiana, but moved as a small boy with his family to Warsaw, Illinois, in 1841. His father, Charles Hay, was a physician there, and although he apparently did not participate in the mob violence, it was undoubtedly from his father that the younger Hay got much of his information about the Mormon conflict. Dr. Hay tutored his son in Latin and Greek and then sent him to a private school in Pittsfield, Illinois State University (now Concordia College) in Springfield, and eventually to Brown University, where he received a master’s degree in...

    • 6 The Anti-Mormons Demand an Investigation
      (pp. 262-265)

      While the pretrial activities were taking place, and the defendants were out on bail, on 21 December 1844, Governor Thomas Ford delivered a Message from the Governor, in Relation to the Disturbances in Hancock County that charged the anti-Mormons in Hancock County with religious persecution. He called the assassinations of Joseph and Hyrum Smith the most vile deed ever committed in the state and demanded that order be restored and the law upheld. Ford’s statements infuriated the non-Mormons of Hancock County, who believed that they had been upholding the republican virtues and laws of the United States against those who...

    • 7 The Mormon Reaction
      (pp. 265-267)

      The Mormons at Nauvoo did not sit quietly by while non-Mormon groups tried to gather information about their supposed crimes. The Nauvoo City Council met on 13 January 1845 to decide what action was best to stave off this attack. It passed a series of resolutions that were just as strong and demanded just as much action on the part of state authorities as had the Warsaw group.

      The document published here, “The Voice of Nauvoo! Proceedings of the City Council. Preamble,” Times and Seasons 15 (January 1845): 773–74, clearly reflects the concern of the Mormons that the church...

    • 8 The Repeal of the Nauvoo Charter
      (pp. 267-270)

      At the same time that these events were taking place in Hancock County, the Illinois State Legislature was meeting in Springfield and considering the propriety of repealing the Nauvoo city charter. The legislators were incensed at the way the charter had been used repeatedly by Joseph Smith to subvert the law and serve his own purposes. The most blatant abuse was the city council’s destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor in June 1844. The legislature saw the charter as a tool that had been willfully exploited by the Saints; the Mormons, of course, viewed it as a legal bulwark to defend...

    • 9 Sheriff Minor Deming and the Resumption of Violence
      (pp. 270-273)

      After the deaths of the Smith brothers, an immediate concern for most non-Mormons in Hancock County was the August 1844 local election. The year before, the Saints had emerged as a central political force in electing individuals friendly to them to county office. Nearly all non-Mormons wanted to reverse this trend, but they faced an uphill battle. The murder of the Smiths had prompted many in the county, even those who disagreed with the Mormons, to condemn the violence. They were little inclined, therefore, to vote for anyone identified with anti-Mormonism.

      At this critical juncture, Minor R. Deming (?–1845),...

    • 10 The Attack on the Durfee Settlement
      (pp. 273-275)

      Although the overall situation in Hancock County had been relatively quiet for several months, when it became clear that the Saints were not going to leave the area, anti-Mormons in the county began to reassert themselves. Indeed, in “An Epistle of the Twelve, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in all the World,” appearing in the Times and Seasons 6 (15 January 1845): 779–80, Brigham Young stated that the church was stable and committed to building up Nauvoo as a Mormon stronghold. He invited

      all the young, middle aged, and able bodied men who have...

    • 11 Thomas Sharp on the Killings of Worrell and McBratney
      (pp. 275-278)

      It did not take long for the house burnings, robberies, and other acts of intimidation to turn deadly and escalate beyond the point where they could be contained. Thomas C. Sharp, the anti-Mormon agitator who edited the Warsaw Signal, wrote an unpublished history of the Mormon war in the fall of 1845 designed to express the opinions of those opposed to the presence of the Saints in the county. The first portion of that history dealt with the killings of Franklin A. Worrell—the commander of the Carthage Greys detachment that had been guarding the Smith brothers at the time...

    • 12 The Disappearance of Phineas Wilcox
      (pp. 278-280)

      On 16 September, the same day that Franklin Worrell was killed, non-Mormon Phineas Wilcox went to Nauvoo with a load of wheat to be milled. While waiting for it, he stayed at the home of Ebenezer B. Jennings, a Mormon friend. Apparently there were people in the community who believed that Wilcox was an anti-Mormon spy, and Mrs. Jennings warned Wilcox of danger. Wilcox did not believe her, however, and the next morning Wilcox and Jennings went to visit the temple, then being constructed on the hill above the city. Wilcox was captured at the temple, apparently taken to the...

    • 13 Jacob Backenstos and his Proclamations
      (pp. 280-288)

      For a brief period in 1845, the most controversial figure in Hancock County was Jacob B. Backenstos. He had come to the county in 1843, perhaps with the backing of Stephen A. Douglas, to fill the office of circuit clerk. A non-Mormon, he quickly associated himself with the Mormon majority for political reasons. The very next year, he was elected to the state legislature on the strength of the Mormon plurality in the county. Of course, his pro-Mormon political opportunism aroused non-Mormon resentment, which increased in January 1845, when Backenstos made a speech to the legislature opposing revocation of the...

    • 14 An Eyewitness Account of the Military Occupation of Carthage
      (pp. 288-291)

      The effort by Sheriff Backenstos to control Hancock County by means of a Mormon posse seemed to many non-Mormons a realization of their deepest fear—loss of liberty through Mormon domination. One man who shared that view was Jason H. Sherman (1813–?), a native of Maine who had moved to the county in 1841 to practice law. He was a resident of Carthage until after the Mormons left for the West and served as Hancock County school commissioner from 1847 to 1851. Sherman later moved to Ithaca, New York, where he became a judge and, toward the end of...

    • 15 An Anti-Mormon Plea for Support
      (pp. 291-294)

      In the midst of the conflict in the fall of 1845, while Backenstos’s posse was in control of Carthage, some of the non-Mormons in the county drafted a manifesto to residents nearby, explaining why they were opposed to the Mormons remaining there. In strong terms they describe some of the real and imagined crimes of the Mormons and ask for support in ridding Hancock County of them. They also express regret for the killings at Carthage in 1844 and the subsequent house burnings, for which all non-Mormons were unjustly blamed, but they fail to recognize that their approach to Mormon...

    • 16 Mason Brayman Assesses the Situation
      (pp. 295-296)

      As violence between the Mormons and non-Mormons was occurring in Hancock County in the fall of 1845, Thomas Ford was not entirely idle. He sent troops into the county once again to restore order and appointed Mason Brayman, attorney for the state, to negotiate a treaty between the Mormons and the old settlers. The treaty quickly turned into a vehicle for the peaceful removal of the Mormons from the state beginning early in 1846.

      Brayman spent several weeks in the county in November 1845 and was disgusted with what he saw. Both sides, he found, had become so intransigent that...

  11. Part VI: The Exodus and the Battle of Nauvoo
    • Introduction
      (pp. 299-301)

      The Mormon conflict ended twice. On 24 September 1845, the Saints agreed to leave Illinois, capitulating to non-Mormon pressure which had expanded well beyond the limits of Hancock County.¹ It was a reluctant exodus, which began in early February 1846 and resulted in the departure of perhaps twelve thousand Latter Day Saints by late spring. The second ending of the conflict was violent. After the exodus had virtually ceased in June 1846, the more aggressive non-Mormons used intimidation and mob action to force the remaining Saints out. That effort culminated in the Battle of Nauvoo, which occurred in mid-September. Several...

    • 1 The Mormons Decide to Leave Illinois
      (pp. 302-304)

      By mid-September 1845, Mormons and non-Mormons were still raiding, plundering, and intimidating each other, with no end in sight. General Hardin and his troops did not arrive until 28 September 1845 to reestablish order. But support for the non-Mormons was increasing in western Illinois, especially after the repressive tactics of Sheriff Backenstos and his Mormon posse had been widely reported.

      One very important meeting of non-Mormons was held at Quincy on 22 September. Delegates from nine counties—which did not include Hancock—deliberated about the conflict, adopted resolutions advocating Mormon departure and contacted the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. The letter...

    • 2 The Proceedings of the Carthage Convention
      (pp. 304-309)

      After the Quorum of Twelve Apostles had responded to the representatives of the nine-county meeting, the latter held a second gathering at Carthage on 1–2 October 1845. That convention produced a series of resolutions, the first of which accepted the Mormon proposal to leave Illinois in the spring and recommended that other non-Mormons acquiesce as well. The delegates also called for a multi-county military organization—which never materialized—to keep peace in Hancock County until the Mormons left.

      But the published proceedings of that meeting, which appeared in the Quincy Whig and are reprinted here from Josiah B. Conyers,...

    • 3 Eliza Snow’s Poem “Let Us Go”
      (pp. 309-310)

      Once the decision had been made to leave Illinois, most Mormons looked forward to heading west. Eliza Snow (see the headnote to Part IV, Document 16) expressed that view in a poem called “Let Us Go,” which was written in the fall of 1845 and subsequently published in a collection of her verse, Poems, Religious, Historical, and Political (Liverpool, England: F. D. Richards, 1856), 146–47.

      The poem is an interesting expression of the Mormon myth of persecuted innocence. Through incantatory repetition (“Let us go, let us go”), the poet urges the virtuous Mormons to flee from “the wicked” who...

    • 4 Governor Ford Justifies the Use of Militia
      (pp. 310-313)

      Governor Ford’s dispatching of troops to Hancock County, under the leadership of General John J. Hardin, was not appreciated by most Mormons, who had been pleased with the efforts of Sheriff Jacob Backenstos and his Mormon posse. Two Mormon leaders wrote to Ford and criticized his decision. One was Orson Spencer, president of the Nauvoo City Council, and the other was George Miller, a bishop in the church. Spencer’s letter was abusive—(see Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1932], 7:502), and Ford...

    • 5 Continued Conflict in the Mormon Kingdom
      (pp. 313-317)

      That society at Nauvoo was a far cry from righteous and innocent is evident from a wide range of documents from 1845. Among them are several important accounts by Mormons. For example, early in 1845 Sidney Rigdon, the only surviving member of the First Presidency and a leader of his own Mormon faction after the death of Joseph Smith, wrote an extensive article for his Latter Day Saints Messenger and Advocate, published in Pittsburgh, entitled “The Apostates and Rebellious Spirits at Nauvoo,” 1 January 1845, p. 1, which condemns Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders for their immorality, especially polygamy....

    • 6 The Completion of the Temple
      (pp. 317-320)

      While the conflict continued and the Mormons prepared to leave Nauvoo, work on the temple proceeded. The huge stone structure, located on the hill that rose in back of the town, lacked some finishing touches in the interior but was sufficiently complete to be used for meetings starting in early October 1845. More importantly, and the reason why the Saints so diligently worked on the building even though they planned to use it for only a few months, it was the site, beginning in early 1846, for “endowments”—the ritual ceremonies in which the faithful received spiritual blessings, such as...

    • 7 A Mormon Interprets the Last Days of Nauvoo
      (pp. 321-323)

      As previous events had been, the final conflict with non-Mormons and the exodus from Nauvoo were viewed by many Mormons through the prism of myth. The innocent chosen people of God continued to be persecuted by the wicked. Perhaps no document illustrates that perspective more dearly than the memoir of Joseph Lee Robinson (1811–90), a young Mormon living in Nauvoo at the time.

      The tendency of myth to gloss over the complexities of history is striking in the opening sentence of Robinson’s account of Nauvoo’s last days: “And it came to pass that the Devil was mad.” No sociological...

    • 8 Brigham Young Describes the Exodus
      (pp. 324-325)

      The Mormons began leaving Nauvoo for the West in early February 1846 under the leadership of Brigham Young (for biographical information, see the headnote to Part VI, Document 1). From 9 August 1844 until the exodus he kept a detailed journal, which includes the following account of his activities and related events on 6–9 February 1846. These excerpts are from the journal at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah and were previously published in Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, (Salt...

    • 9 Nauvoo in the Spring of 1846
      (pp. 326-328)

      As the Mormons began leaving, other people moved to Nauvoo—non-Mormons who were taking advantage of the inexpensive homes for sale. One of these newcomers later wrote an extensive account of Nauvoo and the conflict in 1846. His series of newspaper articles, entitled “Nauvoo—Then and Now,” appeared on page 1 of the Carthage Gazette from 30 June through 3 November 1875, and from 18 January through 9 February 1876. The author’s identity remains unknown because he simply signed the articles “X. Y. Z.”

      These excerpts are from the 30 June and 7 July installments, and they focus on the...

    • 10 The Battle of Nauvoo
      (pp. 329-334)

      Conflict between Mormons and non-Mormons erupted again in the early summer of 1846 and continued sporadically until mid-September, when a non-Mormon posse seized control of Nauvoo and expelled the last Mormons. The cause for the fighting was that perhaps a thousand Mormons chose not to leave Nauvoo. By June the migration had virtually ceased and the non-Mormons believed, rightly as it turned out, that those who remained intended to stay. Some were Mormon dissenters, such as Joseph Smith’s widow and children, who were on the outs with Brigham Young’s group, while others simply saw no reason to abandon their property...

    • 11 The Treaty That Ended the Conflict
      (pp. 334-335)

      As the miniature civil war raged in Hancock County, leaders in Quincy quickly organized a committee to negotiate yet another agreement to end the fighting between the two hostile parties. The committee of a hundred men, formed by Henry Asbury and Isaac N. Morris, and chaired by Andrew W. Johnson, then traveled to Nauvoo, sending word ahead that they were coming to act as mediators. After securing a suspension of the fighting, the Quincy group formed subcommittees to visit the leaders on each side. They eventually worked out an arrangement whereby the Mormons would surrender their arms temporarily to the...

    • 12 A Nauvoo Resident Who Tried to Stay Neutral
      (pp. 335-338)

      Among the documents about Nauvoo in 1846 is a letter by a store owner, William Cooper, Jr. (1813–?), a native of Ohio who had moved from Kentucky to the Mormon community in the spring of that year. His wife was apparently from Harrison County, Indiana, and his letter is addressed to the Crozier family there. Cooper describes the same kind of lawlessness in Nauvoo that X. Y. Z. complained about (see Part VI, Document 9), but he also depicts the difficulty in remaining neutral as the conflict between the Mormons and their enemies accelerated. In particular he describes the...

    • 13 A Mormon Woman Recalls the Battle of Nauvoo
      (pp. 338-340)

      The experience of Mormons who were expelled from Nauvoo in September 1846 is exemplified by the short memoir of Ann Eliza Coffin Garner. Although she was a small child in 1846, she recalls the response of her parents, which must have been typical of many Latter Day Saints. Her father fought the non-Mormons in the battle; her mother hated to see them occupy the temple. And her memoir reveals the hardship and sorrow that the Mormons suffered as they left in haste to begin their long journey to the West.

      Garner’s memoir also illustrates something about the operation of the...

    • 14 The Final Evacuation
      (pp. 340-342)

      The Nauvoo treaty, dated 16 September 1846, gave the remaining Mormons five days to leave the city, and a few days later, on 19 September, a correspondent for the Burlington Hawkeye, published in Iowa Territory about thirty miles north of Nauvoo on the Mississippi, witnessed this departure and wrote a brief account. He signed the article “Che Mo Ko Mon,” a Sauk term meaning “white man,” so his identity is unknown, but he may have been living near Fort Madison. His letter to the editor, entitled “Nauvoo. The Day After It was Evacuated,” appeared in the 24 September 1846 issue...

    • 15 The Empty City
      (pp. 342-345)

      Another well-written description of Nauvoo is set at the end of September, after the evacuation was completed. Like the previous article, it was a letter to the editor of a newspaper—in this case, the St. Louis Missouri Republican. The author signed it simply “T. G.” (“A Week in Nauvoo—View from the Temple,” Missouri Republican, September 29, 1845), but since the letter was later reprinted in Thomas Gregg’s The Prophet of Palmyra (New York: John B. Alden, 1890), 369–74, he was probably the author (see Part II, Document 6).

      His account is of interest for several reasons. First,...

    • 16 Governor Ford Gets Reinvolved
      (pp. 345-347)

      The takeover of Nauvoo by non-Mormons had an impact on Governor Ford (see Part IV, Document 7). While he was glad to have the troublesome Mormons out of Illinois, he had clearly tried to prevent forcible expulsion, so the action of Colonel Brockman’s military unit was yet another blow to his authority and prestige. Afterward Ford felt that he must do something to reassert civil authority in Nauvoo, and he also wanted to restore to their homes some “new citizens” who had been ejected for assisting the Mormons in the battle. He therefore gathered two hundred militia, marched to Hancock...

    • 17 A Tourist Views Hancock County in 1852
      (pp. 347-350)

      After the Mormons were gone, Hancock County returned to a peaceful, law-abiding condition, and despite the sudden decline in population, with the loss of a city of some twelve thousand people, prosperity slowly increased. Indeed, the county had much to offer, including extensive, rich farmland and direct access to the Mississippi River, which had attracted hopeful settlers since the early 1830s.

      But after 1846 Hancock County also had one thing that few other places in the state possessed in the mid-nineteenth century—a past. A distinctive era, marked by intimidation and violence, had come and gone, and it would always...

  12. Bibliographic Note
    (pp. 351-354)
  13. Index
    (pp. 355-368)
  14. About the Authors
    (pp. 369-369)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 370-370)