During the next few months opposition to the Church became bitter and angry. Harassment of the Mormons in Missouri had come from nonmembers of the Church, but much of the persecution in Nauvoo came from those who joined the Church and then had fallen away. Some of the apostates set up an anti-Mormon newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor. On June 7, 1944 the paper cruelly derided the Prophet and the Saints in Nauvoo.
The city council met in long sessions to decide what to do. Should they demolish the newspaper? They studied city codes to see what legal action they could take, using a famous English judge and jurist of the time, William Blackstone, as an authority. The council decided that if a newspaper slandered people, it could be considered a public nuisance and should be destroyed. Twenty presses in the State of Illinois had been dismantled in the last twenty years for the same reasons without any retaliation. The council also felt, if they didn’t take action, angry Mormons would probably tear down the press anyway, causing more problems. The Nauvoo Expositor was demolished.
Anti-Mormon outrage at the destruction of a free press called for the Saints to be driven from Illinois. Joseph sent word to the men on political missions, campaigning for his presidency, to return home. He also wrote to Governor Ford of Illinois, asking for help; but the governor did nothing.
Mobs threatened to destroy Nauvoo if Joseph and Hyrum were not put in jail. Joseph and Hyrum said they would go to Carthage to protect Nauvoo and the Saints, but they felt they had done nothing wrong. A hearing date was set.
In the early part of the day on June 24, Joseph, Hyrum and John Taylor with others paused at the temple site on their way to Carthage. Joseph said, “This is the loveliest place and the best people under the heavens; little do they know the trials that await them.”