Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith
Prophet, Seer and Revelator

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Angry cries broke the stillness. A mob with black axel-greased faces shouted obscenities, storming the jail. They fired through the door, killing Hyrum instantly. John rushed to hold the door shut. Crashing through the entry, the men smashed John against the wall and continued to fire their weapons. John fought back, deflecting the discharging guns with a cane as their muzzles came through the door.

“That’s right, Brother Taylor, parry them off as well as you can.” These were Joseph’s last words to John.

John ran for the open window, but a bullet struck his left leg near his knee. He fell onto the windowsill, hitting his pocket watch and throwing him back into the room. Bleeding, he dragged himself under the bed; bullets pierced his right thigh and his left hand.

The Prophet ran to the window. Did he do it to draw the gun fire away from his friends? Weapons fired on him from inside and outside the jail. Joseph Smith leaped from the window and was killed.

The mob left the jail, gathering outside.

Mobs sought to destroy the Church and thought that the best way would be to kill the Prophet. Angry men roamed the country, plotting the death of Joseph Smith. Fear filled the air.

Reluctantly, but of their own choice, Joseph and Hyrum Smith went to Carthage jail to be locked up. Irate groups gathered there, crying for the death of Joseph Smith. Governor Ford came to Carthage to try to smooth the situation. John met with the Governor on June 27, 1844, to see if he would protect Joseph and Hyrum, but the Governor felt the law should take its course. The hearing would be in two days. John felt helpless and frustrated.

On that same day John and Willard Richards waited with Joseph and Hyrum in Carthage Jail, looking toward the hearing on June 29. The afternoon felt muggy and oppressive. Heaviness weighed on John’s chest.

Hyrum asked John to sing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.” John sang – his rich, deep voice echoing through the prison with sadness lacing the melody.

“Sing it again,” Hyrum said.

John sighed. “Brother Hyrum, I do not feel like singing.”

“Oh, never mind; commence singing and you will get the spirit of it,” Hyrum replied.

John inhaled the sultry air and sang one more time, feeling an unexplained sorrow. The weight of the afternoon heat seemed unbearable.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

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.”

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Joseph Smith met with the apostles to discuss the upcoming 1844 Presidential election and the course the Saints should take. Political candidates in the area knew the Mormons carried a large vote so they tried to persuade the Mormons to support their political views. If the Saints supported the Whigs, the Democrats were angry with them. If they supported the Democrats, the Whigs were upset. The Saints wanted to be free of the negative political badgering. They also wanted a candidate that wouldn’t allow them to be persecuted. When the Saints had asked President Martin Van Buren for help in Missouri, he had said, “Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you.”

The apostles urged the Prophet to run for President of the United States. So Joseph Smith, the Prophet, became a candidate for President. By this time, John was editor of both the Nauvoo Neighbor and the Times and Seasons newspapers. John’s enthusiasm for the Prophet’s candidacy spilled into his writing. He wrote editorials about Joseph in both newspapers. Because of John’s excellent writing skills, over forty-five newspapers in the United States printed some of the articles about the Prophet Joseph. John played a “pivotal role” in Joseph’s campaign. Many men, including all of the twelve, except John and Willard Richards, traveled to the East to campaign for the Prophet. Joseph gained popularity throughout the United States, and a lot of people learned about Mormonism.