William Law VS Joseph Smith

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William Law VS Joseph Smith

Post by _grindael »

I'm sure many think they know William Law, but do you, really? Do you know the circumstances that led to his belief that Joseph was a fallen prophet? Here is the story of their fracture, and what drove both men to abandon a great friendship...

William Law had once claimed that "Brother Joseph is truly a wonderful man, he is all we could wish a prophet to be..." He was a rich man who gave freely of his means and who Hyrum Smith would defend even after his brother Joseph and William had become bitter enemies:

I wish to speak about Messrs. [William and Wilson] Law's steam mill, there has been a great deal of bickering about it. The mill has been a great benefit to the city, no matter how much fault found; it has been the means of building the city, it has brought in thousands who would not have come here; but as they saw that the Mormons had got no horns, they came, and have got good by it. People would rather come in than starve. -- The Messrs. Laws have sunk their capital, and done a great deal of good; it is out of character to cast any aspersions on the Messrs. Laws. -- When we come to investigate conspiracy, it is that rascal Jackson who presumed upon them; he supposed he could lead them into any manner of iniquity. I do not believe that the Messrs. Laws would do any thing to injure me or any man's life. The men gave in affidavit that Jackson said they would go into it tooth and toe nail; I will not believe they will do it, if Jackson swore upon a stack of Bibles as big as Mount Etna. I make these observations for the purpose of putting down prejudice. (Times & Seasons, Vol. V. No. 14, 597, August 1, 1844, Hyrum’s comments about the Laws were omitted from the History of the Church, See Vol. 6, 300).

Law had defended Joseph against the accusations of John C. Bennett, (that Smith was the originator of the spiritual wife doctrine and was practicing it), and had accepted for a time Smith’s teachings on a plurality of gods, calling and election, etc. which he had been preaching since 1843. It is also quite possible that Law had Joseph seal his wife (Jane) to him (William) for time and eternity. John Scott, one of Joseph Smith’s bodyguards claimed that this was so at the High Council/Apostles Trial of William and Jane Law on April 18th, 1844. The testimony about William and Jane Law reads,

[Jno Scott] = Law yesterday [many?]Gods. more wifes—full Mormons —
spoke against Joseph = William Laws, rights, — went to Wm wife to attempt to seduce her. Joseph wanted her to come into the [Spiritual Wife] order. [Law] not privilege to [be] seld [sealed] unless he obed [obeyed] & marry more [wives?]
Privilege sealed to him — watch his opportunity Wm out in bedroom attempt to take [her] abed. — repent & kill him spare his life she told her husband — get time told William. —
Joseph swore &c.—Wm told Joseph Wm wife some [lied ?] when. Joseph said you did
Joseph acknowledged & seal[e]d William & wife
Was not a more gallant scoundrel ever hung between the heavens and the earth
Vote carried unanimously, — Wilson Law, Clayton moved Wm Law be cut off 2nd J. P. Green, Wm Clayton, - spoke
C. C. Rich. said [?] Wm Law made a statement at wedding last winter Joseph had revelations for the [?]
Snow testified about Laws statement at City Council
Clayton moved [?} Law be cut off & [Jane ?]

This scenario presented by John Scott (A Danite and one of Smith's bodyguards) begins by speaking of many gods and polygamy. He says that Law “spoke against Joseph”. Smith wanted Jane Law to “come into the order” (another term for spiritual wifeism), and said that Law was not privileged to be sealed unless he obeyed and married more wives.

According to Law’s diary, he “harkened to the teachings of man and for a short moment”, and this may have been enough for Joseph to perform the sealing of the Laws to mollify them, as it had with Emma for a time.

Smith may have then attempted to seduce Jane Law, which then turned William against Joseph for good. What is strange is that in his diary, William Law writes this (that Joseph attempted to seduce his wife, but it is scratched out).

For this, Scott calls Law a “gallant scoundrel”. The appellation “scoundrel” was also used in connection with John C. Bennett two years earlier but unlike Bennett, William Law was no scoundrel. Thomas Ford would later write of him:

This Bennett was probably the greatest scamp in the western country. I have made particular enquiries concerning him, and have traced him in several places in which he lived before he joined the Mormons, in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and he was everywhere accounted the same debauched, unprincipled, profligate character. He was a man of some little talent, and in 1840-1841 had the confidence of the Mormons, and particularly that of their leaders. (Thomas Ford, A History of Illinois, Chicago, 1854, 263).

The other side of the story, was told by Joseph to Alexander Neibaur:

[p.15] May 24, [1844]

Called at J. [Joseph] Smith 10 o'clock found . . . took dinner, read German.

After dinner met the Fox and Sac Indians, danced their war dance.

Called at Brother J. S. [Joseph Smith's]. Met Mr. Bonnie. Brother Joseph [Smith] told us the first call he had a revival meeting. His mother, brother and sisters got religion. He wanted to get religion too; he wanted to feel and shout like the rest but could feel nothing. [He] opened his Bible of the first passage that struck him was [James 1:5.], "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not." [He] went into the woods to pray, kneels himself down, his tongue was closed, cleaving to his roof, could utter not a word, but felt easier after a while. [He] saw a fire toward heaven, came near and nearer. [He] saw a personage in the fire, light complexion, blue eyes, a piece of white cloth drawn over his shoulders, his right arm bare. After a while another person came to the side of the first. Mr. [Joseph] Smith then asked, "Must I join the Methodist Church?" "No, they are not my people. [They] have gone astray; there is none that doeth good, not one, but this is my Beloved Son, harken ye him." The fire drew nigher, rested upon the tree, enveloped him. Comforted, I endeavored to arise but felt uncommon feeble. [I] got into the house and told the Methodist priest [who] said this was not an age for God to reveal himself in vision. Revelation has ceased with the New Testament.

Told about Wm. [William] Law—wished to be married to his wife for eternity. Mr. [Joseph] Smith would inquire of the Lord, answered no because Law was a adulterous person. Mrs. Law wanted to know why she could not be married to Mr. Law. Mr. [Joseph Smith] S. said [he] would not wound her feelings be telling her. Some days after, Mr. [Joseph] Smith going toward his office. Mrs. Law stood in the door, beckoned to him the once did not know whether she beckoned to him, went across to inquire. Yes, please to walk in, no one but herself in the house, she drawing her arms around him, if you won't seal me to my husband seal myself unto you, he said, stand away and pushing her gently aside giving her a denial and going out. When Mr. [William] Law came home he inquired who had been in his absence, she said no one but Br. Joseph, he then demanded what had passed. Mrs. L. [Law] then told Joseph wanted her to married to him— (Alexander Neibaur, Diary, CHL, Pg. 15)

What is interesting is that Joseph's bodyguard (John Scott) appears to tell an entirely different story about what happened and that Joseph did seal Law to his wife. No mention of adultery at Law's illegal trial. The only thing Law appears to have done is disagree with Joseph's teachings. But according to Joseph, Law's wife invites him into her home while her husband is not there, and Joseph of course goes inside with her and then she throws herself at Joseph. Then Joseph claims that he didn't seal the Laws to each other because William Law was an adulterer and of course Joseph cries, "Stand away" and pushes her away. But Joseph's bodyguard testified that "Joseph wanted her to come into the [Spiritual Wife] order". Why wouldn't he ask them BOTH? Why would he approach Jane to "come into the order without speaking to William about it?"

And so what did Joseph do, he gave this speech (at the end of December, 1843) to a crowd of worked up Nauvoo Policeman:

Let us keep cool as a cucumber in a frosty morning. Say nothing about M[iss]o[uri]. Soft words turn away wrath “in the heart of a fool,” therefore ^we will^ [be gentle][.] Poor pussy this generation. Keep time, — have the ordinances in [your] possession and study them, & ferret out all brothels and disorderly conduct, and if a transgressor resists[,] cuff his ears. — If any one lifts a weapon [or] presents a pistol &c [you must] take his life if needs be. Take care of yourselves own lives. Let no horse be taken away — or any thing stolen. — Let M[iss]o[uri] alone, stay at home, [and] if any man attempt to bribe you[,] tell me. Let us have a reformation. The speculators are in this state & wanting to sell revolving pistols to us to fight the M[iss]o[urians] & the M[iss]o[urians] to fight us. I think my life more in danger from some little do[ugh] head of a fool in this city than from all the co[nsta]bular[ies] of enemies abroad, and [if] I can escape the ^the hand of an as^ assassin[,] of a Brutus I can live as like as ^might^ Caesar ^have lived if [it] had not been for a Brutus.^ I have ^had^ pretended friends who have betrayed me[,] as I am informed. (Dinger, John S.. The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes (Kindle Locations 5916-5926). Signature Books. Kindle Edition.)

According to D. Michael Quinn,

These Mormon policemen were proud of their Danite background. According to one complaining Mormon at Nauvoo, policeman Daniel Carn "told me several times Daniteism was not down…said it was a good system." Carn laconically replied (in Joseph Smith's presence): "Daniteism is to stand by each other [—] that is all I know about Daniteism." Hosea Stout, an officer in both the Nauvoo Legion and Nauvoo police, made a point of teaching "the old Missouri Danite drill" to his men. In December 1843 Smith authorized the Nauvoo police to kill "if need be," and then said his own life was endangered by a "little dough-head" and "a right-hand Brutus." The latter remarks put the police on notice to look for Mormon dissenters as traitors. Within a week Nauvoo's police panicked Smith's second counselor William Law and stake president William Marks (both polygamy foes) to fear that he had marked them for death. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, 117).

On January 2, 1844 Law heard that policeman were speculating that he was the "Brutus" Joseph purposefully told them about, and he went to Hyrum Smith about it, who brought him to Joseph. Joseph said he never intended any such idea (that it could be William Law) and that he would have the Council and the Police together tomorrow. William Law wrote in his diary,

2 [January 1844]This day I learn from remarks made by J. Smith before the city council and police, I am suspected of being a Brutis, and consequently narrowly watched, and should any misconceive my motives my life would be jeoperdized. I went to Hyrum Smith and told him how matters were going, he seemed astonished, and said he would see Joseph and have it put down; he went to him and returned to me again, and I went with him to Joseph; he said he never intended any such idea to be conveyed and that he would have the Council and Police together tomorrow.

3 [January 1844]. Today I am called on to appear before the Council to hear the investigation. Joseph declares that he and I are very good friends and that the Devil gets into people to destroy and break up friends; that he has nothing against me, and would not be afraid to trust his life in my hands; that I was too good a man to injure him, &c &c. Hyrum Smith made a speech very much in my favor and Wilson Law's. Said we and all our people were high minded and noble and no one ought to have any suspicions against us &c. &c. Council dismissed.

4 [January 1844]. This morning a new rumour is afloat. Leonard Sobey states that Warren Smith one of the Police men said he believed I was the Brutis and that Wm. Marks was another, and that we had better keep out of his way or he would pop us over . Wilson Law, Hyrum Smith and I went to Joseph Smith and told him; he became very angry that any should have any fears or suspect that he would encourage such a thing, and said that he had a good mind to put them (the police) on us any how, we were such fools, or words to that effect. It produced an indignation in my heart, that I could not control, to find the mayor of the City, threaten two innocent men, with forty armed police, because they complained to him of threats having been made by them, against their lives; some hard words passed between us, and so the affair passed off for that day,--.

5 [January 1844]. I am called upon to appear before the City Council, to hear an investigation of the affair of Warren Smith. Wm. Marks is sworn and declares that Leonard Sobey told him, that Warren Smith told him that William Law was the Brutus spoken of by Joseph Smith, and that Wm. Marks was another, and that they had better keep out of his way or he would pop them over. L. Sobey was sworn and testified to pretty much the same words, &c. The Poliece were call'd upon to say whether J. Smith had told them so; those present said not, and Joseph and Hyrum made speeches on the subject. I made a few remarks . Joseph said he would not think such a thing of Bro. Law or Bro. Marks for they were lovely men both of them. I made some remarks , said Joseph had nothing to fear from me, I was not his enemy (I did not say I was his friend). I said that if he and I had any difficulties or should have any hereafter I thought we could settle them between ourselves without calling on the Poliece &c ,--. Wilson Law made an excellent speech; spoke against men scandalizing each other on suspicion, that every man's name should be held sacred till facts could be proved against him, &c. &c.

Joseph made another speech, and in it said that F. C. Higbee had better be careful or a train of facts would be disclosed concerning him that he would not like; gave us to understand that he was conniving with Missouri &c., and that he only disgraced anyone who associated with him, and that he had denied him the privilege of his house (or words like that) and would not allow him to associate with his females &c; that he had been called on to lay hands on him when he stank from a cause that he did not like to name (or such a saying). [Smith claimed that Higbee had the "pox" and there is no evidence he ever did] I did not believe the story at all, and cannot see why he should tell it. Court adjourned and all disperse in peace. (William Law Diary, 1844, pp. 1-3)

The City Council Minutes from the Law meeting are of extreme interest. They show that there were those who bore animosity towards Law and Marks because of their rejection of what they called (with no objections from Joseph) the spiritual wife system. Eli Norton was called to testify because William Law claimed that it was Norton who told him that his and Marks’ life was in danger:

Eli Norton: Bro[ther] [Daniel] Cairns said all that I have heard — [and the mayor] probably refered to what has been stated, about a doe head &c. ^By Mayor^[:] Did he sa[y] he ^I^ had administered a private oath? ^Norton[:]^ No! [He] said not much about Law, did not say you had ever ministered any private oath. Cairns never intimated Law must be put out of the way. [He] did not call W[illia]m Laws [by] name nor no other name, did not say the policemen had a private oath. — did [I] underst[oo]d Cairns to say there was private instructions, and if a man could not keep a secret[,] [he] was not worthy of a place in the Church. [Cairns] did not say the Mayor had given him a charge, did not tell where. [He] told me there were doe heads about, did not say the doe heads were in danger. The Mayor was in danger from the doe head.

By W[illia]m Law[:] Did you not understand from Bro[ther] Cairns that [Joseph] was suspicious of one near him as a doe head, & must be taken care of. — [Were you not] satisfied he had reference to me?

E[li] N[orton][:] Yes. He mentioned a doe head standing near Joseph. [He said he] had [a] conversation on Spiritual wifes. — I did not believe [it]. — [I] knew Bro[ther] Law was opposed [to Joseph's Spiritual Wifeism], and in this conversation the doe head came in. Cairns did not say Joseph had anything to do with spiritual wifes or had not taught any such things, did not say Bro[ther] Law had any thing to do with it. — ^There was^ no chain to the conversation, — ^He suggested^ there was another Law, the Law of God, [and] d[id] not know who administered the ^other^ oath.

Mayor[:] Tell what you know that made you so alarmed about Bro[ther] Law.

Eli Norton[:] Cairns told me several times Daniteism was not down, never said [the] Mayor had any thing to do about Daniteism. Cairns said it was a good system, said Q every department Quorum had their teachings and they must not tell another quorum, did not say I must take an oath to remain his counsellor. — I drew the inference that Bro[ther] Law was the doe head from Cairns conversation, but Cairns did not name Law. Bishop Cairns said[:] I told him we were sworn & our duties [were] specified. I said by the covenant we have made in Baptism we are bound to protect each other in righteousness. Daniteism is to stand by each other[,] that is all I know about Daniteism. — [The] Mayor said he was not afraid of any thing but a doe head in our midst. ^In our conversation we^ referred to spiritual wifes and one thing brought on another. — I was asked who can that man be? I gave my opinion that certain men had been required to give their property to certain purposes & then went & built a mill & sowed a hundred acres of hemp & lost it in the river.

— Norton said Bro[ther] Law knew about the Spiritual wife system. I never intimated that Bro[ther] Law[’s] life was in danger. I intimated that Bro[ther] Law might be the doe head, previously Bro[ther] Law and me had [a] conversation about stories afloat on spiritual wifes. He thought it was from the devil — and we must put it down[,] that he knew such a thing was in existence & [was] breaking up of families &c.

By Law[:] Did I said not say we have a good foundation [for believing so] because Joseph blowed it all up before the [Nauvoo Stake] High Council & Hyrum before the Elders Quorum? Yes said Cairns, [confirming that] Law did not[,] [in their conversation][,] speak disrespectfully of Joseph or of the Church. [Cairns said he] had no secret conversation with [the] Mayor. Nor [had he received a] charge except before the council [and people had] never heard any thing from me to endanger the life of any man.

[The] Mayor spoke on [the] Spiritual wife system and explained, The man who promises to keep a secret and does not keep it he is a liar and not to be trusted. (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 6312-6347).

It is important to note that the two policemen that made the threats to William Law and William Marks were not held accountable for their actions. Joseph Smith:

...proposed Let that Daniel Cairns & W[arren] Smith be dropped from the police if the council consent ^lest they scare some body^ — don't guard Bro[ther] Marks house any more. Men must ^not^ pervert the power entrusted to them[.] (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition,6428-6430).

Yet we know that Smith wasn’t serious or he would have made it an order, which he had the power to do. Both Daniel Cairns and Warren Smith were Danites. Then,

[Orson] Spencer spoke in objection to dropping the 2 police mentioned by the Mayor. C[ouncillor] [George W.] Harris — said the police were in the hands of the Mayor. (Dinger, John S. (2013-11-26). The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes (Kindle Locations 6442-6443). Signature Books. Kindle Edition).

And this is what happened:

On Motion of W[illiam] W. Phelps, voted that the 2 police be retained and the police received the thanks of the Council. (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 6454-6455).

Phelps always worked hand in hand with Joseph. This was all obviously planned before hand, for Smith wrote in his diary,

Wednesday, Jan[uary] 3d 1844 At home. [several lines left blank] 12 noon City Council. W[illia]m Law sworn, and Eli Norton concerning certain reports in circulation about a "doe" [dough] head [traitor] which proved to be all about nothing at all. [several lines left blank] Cloudy and cold. {page 221}

Thursday, January 4[th] 1844 At home. Another Tempest in a tea pot about nothing at all. W[illia]m Marks thought somebody had concluded he was the Brutus or doe head. Leonard Soby made affidavit that Warren Smith had said something about Law and Marks. Se[e] affidavit. (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 437, January 4, 1844).

If this were about nothing at all, then why did Smith even make the initial comments about traitors? This was all about Joseph trying to browbeat Law and Marks into keeping silent about his Spiritual Wife System. So Joseph used an old tactic, that they were in league with the Missourians, which could not be farther from the truth. Brian Hales and Gregory L. Smith in response to Grant Palmer claim that:

While it may seem unlikely that Grant Palmer’s historical documentation methodology could get any worse, it does. He next quotes from John C. Bennett quoting Sarah Pratt allegedly quoting Joseph Smith (p. 13):

Sister Pratt, the Lord has given you to me as one of my spiritual wives [somewhat like a concubine, or a wife for the night]. I have the blessings of Jacob granted me, as God granted holy men of old, and as I have long looked upon you with favor, and an earnest desire of [Page 212]connubial bliss, I hope you will not repulse or deny me. (p. 13; material in square brackets added by Palmer)

The dramatics in this alleged conversation appear to be Bennett’s elaborations. He refers to “spiritual wifery,” a term Joseph Smith never used except in derision. The revelation on celestial and plural marriage, dictated by the Prophet (now section 132), contains no mention of the words “spiritual” or “wifery.” Interestingly, Bennett did not adopt other terms like “everlasting wifery,” “celestial wifery,” “eternal wifery,” or “spiritual marriage,” which is evidence that Joseph’s teachings and Bennett’s claims were completely unrelated to each other and casts significant doubt that Joseph Smith would have ever used the term as Bennett alleged. (Hales & Smth, The Mormon Interpreter).

It is simply untrue that Smith never used the term Spiritual wifery or Spiritual Wife System except in derision. I have the quotes that not only did Joseph do so, but others did also. All throughout this meeting the term was used for Smith’s doctrine and no one (not even Smith) objected. He call his own doctrine the "Spiritual Wife System". The minutes claim that Smith spoke “on the Spiritual wife system,” and claimed that those who promise to keep secrets and do not do so, cannot be trusted. He certainly was not speaking of John C. Bennett here; but those who Joseph had entrusted the secrets of his own spiritual wife system to. Using this term for Bennett’s system was simply a diversion and a way to publicly clarify the two. That is why years later those like Eliza R. Snow disdained the term so much. But in private, the term was used to describe both systems because they were derived from one source, Joseph Smith. Bennett simply did not get Joseph’s permission, nor focus on a “ceremony” to unite those who he had relations with, like Smith later did, after Bennett and his brother William were exposed. The minutes continue:

Gen[eral] W[illia]m Law Spoke [and] said there was no man in the city more zealous to support Mormonism than himself. I have ever been ready to stand forth for the defense of Joseph and am yet [willing to]. If he lives till I shed his blood or strike a hair from his head[,] he will live till he is as old as Methuselah — and I firmly believe if I live till Joseph kills me or sets any one to kill me I shall live as long as I shall want to.

Mayor [to Law][:] Did I ever tell you that any body had told me that you would sell your property [and] you would blow up Mormonism?

Law[:] Hyrum told me that.

Bishop Cairns said he had never conveyed the idea to father Norton that Joseph ^had^ said that Mr Law was the Doe head.

Mayor[:] Where a man becomes a traitor to his friend or country who is innocent, treacherous to innocent blood, I consider it right to cut off his influence so that he could not injure the innocent, but [it is] not right to meddle with that man without testimony, law & trial. [I] suggested the propriety, since Rockwell is clear & Avery &c & we have promise of protection from the Govern[or] &c[,] of the policemen laying up their guns and carrying only small arms — and that the [City] Council pass such an order. The Danite system never had any existence. The term grew out of a term I made [in] an off[ice] when the brethren prepared to defend themselves from the mob in Far West [Missouri]. [It was] the in reference to the stealing of Macaiah images, [that] if the enemy comes[,] the Danites will be after them, meaning the brethren in self defense. (Dinger, John S. (2013-11-26). The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes (Kindle Locations 6350-6364). Signature Books. Kindle Edition).

Joseph’s reply to Law is rather strange here. Smith askes Law if he ever told him that Law (had told Joseph) that he would sell all his property and blow up Mormonism. Law claims that Hyrum told that to him. Hyrum does not object. Smith does not claim that he never told that to Hyrum. Then Joseph goes into a speech about cutting off men’s influences but using the law to do it. He then makes an odd comment about the Danites claiming there was nothing to their organizaion, yet claims that he himself had named them. We know from Smith’s 1838 Diary that he affirmed their existence:

Thus far, according to the order /revelation/ of the Danites. We have a company of Danites in these times, to put to right physically that which is not right, and to clense the Church of very great evils which has hitherto existed among us inasmuch as they cannot be put to right by teachings and persuasyons. This company or a part of them exhibited on the fourth day of July [ - ] They come up to consecrate, by companies of tens, commanded by their captain over ten (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 198, July 27, 1838).

So Joseph was lying about the Danites. The Council then heard from William Marks,

W[illia]m Marks [was] sworn [and] testified [that] Monday evening Bro[ther] Soby came up & said are you aware of the danger you are in? [I said] No! [He told me my] life [Washington]s threatened, — A policeman [had] stopped [Soby] in the dark [to say this, and Soby] was alarmed.

— Marks[:] [At first] I supposed the threats were from that policeman — but I was mistaken. Another policeman said last Sunday that Joseph had enemies, that Law & Myself were Josephs enemies & if [we] came in his way, a [we] might be popped over. A fire was kindled in the street near my house, and I thought I was watched. Francis Higby told me, — and a man in the east part of town told me, and a man came from the other side of the river [came] & told the story ^to that man[,] as he said[.]^ [And] yesterday morning Hiram [Smith], Wilson Law & William Law met in [the] street & I told [them] the story, as before related.

Mayor[:] Did ever any body tell you I was the one who directed you to be watched? W[illia]m Marks[:] No! (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 6379-6387).

Leonard H. Soby [was] sworn[:] On Sunday, 31 Dec[ember] — I met Warren Smith in Crouses Store [and] asked him if he knew who the Brutus was. [Warren] Smith said he believed W[illia]m Law was one & Marks another. [He said] they had better not come in my his way. — my impression was if they were coming in [He] did not say he would shoot them or endanger their lifes [in] any way. — [I] did not know whether there [had been] any private instructions — or what — [but I] believed Bro[ther] Marks was in danger. [I] did not think Marks [was] in danger from Joseph. [I] thought [Warren] Smith was under a wrong impression with regard to Marks. — W[arren] Smith said he ^(Marks)^ had better not come in my way. — I gathered the idea there was something wrong with Bro[ther Warren] Smith — [I] don't recollect any person present. — Mayor[:] Did Mr [Warren] Smith give you to understand that I had authorized him to believe there was any difficulty between us, or any other policeman? Soby[:] No! — [I] did not think W[arren] Smith would transcend his official duties, towards Marks. [I] felt at the time Marks & Law was in danger [but] did not think they were in danger if they did not rise up against the authority. — [He] did not say he had any instruction — [I] said to Mr Marks[,] you have enemies. — My impression was that somebody had been to Joseph to make a bad impression on his mind. — W[arren] Smith did mention Bro[ther] Marks name, ^I think^ according to the best of my recollection (Dinger, John S. (2013-11-26). The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes (Kindle Locations 6388-6400). Signature Books. Kindle Edition)

Warren Smith[:] Soby asked my opinion. I [responded that] from rumor I would suspect W[illia]m Law. [I do] not believe [I] mentioned Marks name. — My opinion was founded on rumor. Bro[ther] ^coun[cillor]^ I[saac] Hill said [to me that] Bro[ther] Law was in a bad situation, was kicking [against the pricks], and if he did not mind [his behavior][,] he would go over the board. If he had his property & was away [from the city][,] he would feel better. — [I] have heard it talked of that Bro[ther] Law was not going to stand &c &c. ^Hill^ did not tell [me] what [William Law] was kicking at. [I] think he mentioned [the] spiritual wife system, &c. I understood a Brutus to mean a treacherous man. — Bro[ther] Hill did not believe in the ^Spiritual wife system^ & Law did not believe in it. (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 6402-6408).

Francis M. Higby [was] sworn[:] [I] have heard received the impression from some source that Mr. Law, Mr Marks & probably one or two others could not subscribe to all things in the church, and it might make trouble, [but I] don't know of any ones being endanger[ed]. No one told me the police had received any ^private^ instruction — [I] could not tell of one who even had mentioned the subject to [me]. (Dinger, John S. (2013-11-26). The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes (Kindle Locations 6413-6416). Signature Books. Kindle Edition).

Mayor referred to Francis Higbys testimony. Thought Francis Higby had better stay at home & hold his tongue, lest rumor turn upon him. Did not believe there was any rumor of the kind afloat. Thought the young men of the city had better withdraw from him & let him stand on his own merits [and] not consider him the Standard of the city. (Dinger, John S.,The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 6436-6439).

Yet there was a rumor afloat. Joseph is the one who is actively trying to downplay all this and act like it didn't happen. Joseph later (on January 16th) ordered that these comments about Higbee be stricken from the record. On the 5th of January Willard Richards wrote in Joseph’s diary that,

“Bro[ther] Phelps made out commission for Joseph H. Jackson and Mariner [Marinus] J. Eaton as my aids as L[i]eut[enant] General. Returned home. [Spoke with] A number of gentlemen who had put up [boarded] with me and others. I sent for Bro[ther] Phelps who come in and read my letter to J[ohn] C. Calhoun. Dreamed about 2 serpents swallowing each tail foremost. [several lines left blank][several lines left blank] (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 438).

So William thought all was at peace. Law penned an entry in his dairy for the 6th & 7th of January that “Nothing very important transpired. “ The next day (January 8) Law claims that he was “passing along the street near my house,” (he owned two city blocks next to Smith’s property), “when call’d to by Joseph Smith.”

In the Smith Diary, Willard Richards records,

Sunday, January 7[th] 1844 At home in the morning. Rode out to my farm and preached at Bro[ther] Lot's. Also O[rson] Spencer and Reynolds Cahoon preached. [several lines left blank] 6 P.M. attended the prayer meeting in the assembly room. Law absent. Marks not present. [several lines left blank] Very cold. {page 225} (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 438)


Monday, Jan[uary] 8[th] At home in the morning. 11 A.M. went to My office to investigate a difficulty between John D. Parker and his wife. Staid about 2 hours left the case to Bro[ther] Phelps, who labored to produce a reconciliation with good effect. [p.439] Each agreeing to promote each others happiness, which if they kept their covenant, Bro[ther] Phelps told them God would bless them and if they did not God would curse them. Had an interview with W[illia]m Law in the street [in] front of Bro[ther] Phelps. (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 439, added emphasis).

So what happened? Law and Marks decided not to go to the meeting of the "Anointed Quorum". Andrew Ehat writes,

Both Law and Marks did not attend the Quorum meetings that Saturday and Sunday evening, and at the 7 January 1844 meeting William Law

became the first person ever dropped from the Quorum.(363) Bathsheba W. Smith, a member of the Quorum, later recalled,

I was present when William Law, Joseph Smith's counselor, was dropped from [the Anointed] quorum by each one present voting yes or no in his turn. He was the first member that was dropped who had received his endowments. One member hesitated to vote, which called forth earnest remarks from the Prophet Joseph. He showed clearly that it would be doing a serious wrong to retain him longer. After his explanation the vote was unanimous.(364)

So it was Joseph who persuaded them to drop Law from the Anointed Quorum. Where was Law's trial? Remember that Joseph specifically claimed,

I consider it right to cut off his influence so that he could not injure the innocent, but [it is] not right to meddle with that man without testimony, law & trial

Ehat also writes,

The next day, however, new rumors were afloat. Leonard Soby told William Law that Warren Smith, another policeman, believed that William was the "Brutus" and that William Marks was another.William Law went with his brother, Wilson, and Hyrum Smith to see the Prophet, and according to William, Joseph "became very angry that any should have any fears or suspect that he would encourage such a thing, and said that he had a good mind to put them (the police) on us any how, we were such[129] fools, or words to that effect. It produced an indignation in my heart, William observed "that I could not control . . . some hard words passed between us"(357) ending their interview. So the City Council met again the next day, 5 January 1844. "Joseph," according to William, "said he would not think such a thing of Bro. Law or Bro. Marks for they were lovely men both of them."(358) Then Law summarized his own remarks. "Joseph had nothing to fear from me, I was not his enemy (I did not sayI was his friend). I said that if he and I had any difficulties or should have any hereafter I thought we could settle them between ourselves without calling on the Poliece [sic]."(359)After the meeting was over, and the rumors finally squelched, Joseph, according to the History of the Church, confided his feelings to his journal.

What can be the matter with these men? is it that the wicked flee when no man pursueth, that hit pigeons always flutter, that drowning men catch at straws, or that Presidents Law and Marks are absolutely traitors to the Church, that my remarks should produce such an excitement in their minds.Can it be possible that the traitor whom Porter Rockwell reports to me as being in correspondence with my Missouri enemies, is one of my quorum? The people in the town were astonished, almost every man saying to his neighbor, "Is it possible that Brother Law or Brother Marks is a traitor, and would deliver Brother Joseph into the hands of his enemies in Missouri?" If not, what can be the meaning of all this?(360)

Too bad that this entry is NOT in Joseph's diary. Where they got it from to insert in the History of the Church is a mystery. Joseph simply had written in his diary that it was all about NOTHING. Dan Vogel writes in his new History of the Church edition that this paragraph was made up by George Albert Smith in the 1850's. (Vol. 6, FN 392).

Law continues (his Diary entry from the 8th) where he had stopped Law in the street:

…he [Joseph Smith] said I was injuring him by telling evil of him, he could not name any one that I talked to, he said my wife was injuring him and that Wilson Law was doing so too; he could not give any authority but was very angry, and told me I had no longer a place in the Quorum, and that he had cut me off from the first Presidency and appointed another in my place. Some unpleasant words ensued, I told him his cause was not only unjust but dishonourable, &c &c. I confess I feel ennoyed very much by such unprecedented treatment for it is illegal, inasmuch as I was appointed by revelation (so called) first and twice after by unanimous voice of the general Conferences,--but I feel relieved from a most emba rrassing situation I cannot fellowship the abominations which I verily know are practiced by this man, concequently I am glad to be free from him, and from so vile an association---I thank God that he opened my understanding to know between truth and error, in relation to plurality & community of wives, and that I had fortitude to tell Joseph that it was of the Devil and that he should put it down & I feel that I have opposed a base error and that the eternal God is on my side, and if I am persecuted it is because I vindicate principles of virtue and justice, not that I wish to injure any man, but I love the truth, and hate to see the virtuous destroyed and brought down into corruption and vice, and finally cast upon the world as unclean--

13 [January 1844]. Several days have elapsed without any important move that I know of; what my feelings have been I cannot relate, various and painful at times almost beyond endurance; a thousand recollections burst upon my burning brain, the past, the present, and the future, disappointed hopes, injured feelings, where they should have been held sacred; the holy religion of Jesus Christ perverted to meet the base designs of corrupt men, these things are as poison'd arrows in my bleeding heart,--yet Heaven is my hope, and Christ is my friend------

These are hardly the thoughts of someone who is “thirsting for blood” as Brian Hales and others claim. But the rumors started by Joseph Smith about William Law continued to spread. Joseph had cut William Law from the First Presidency with no notice, and no trial. As Lyndon Cook writes,

In July 1840 one additional piece of protocol relating to Church courts was fixed by [Joseph Smith]:

No case [shall be tried] without both parties being present or having had an opportunity to be present, neither should they hear one parties complaint before his case is brought up for trial, neither should they suffer the character of any one to be exposed before the Council without the person being present and ready to defend him or herself that the minds of the councellors be not prejudiced for or against any one whose case they may, possibly, have to act upon. (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 11 July 1840, CHL, quoted in Cook, opening post. cited. 60).

On January 16th Richards records in Smith’s diary that,

Tuesday, Jan[uary] 16[th] 1844 10 A.M. F[rancis] M. Higby was brought up on complaint of O[rson] Pratt before Municipal Court for absenting himself from City Council without leave—when [he should have been] in attendance as a witness—and for slanderous and abusive language towards one of the members of the Council. Court adjourned and City Council commenced their session and continued till two o'clock. During which time a reconciliation took place with Francis [p.441] M. Higby who had written a slanderous letter concerning me and said many hard things which he acknowledged and I forgave him. I went before the Council and stated that all difficulties between me and Francis M. Higby are eternally buried and I am to be his friend forever. To which F. M. Higby replied I will be his friend forever and his right hand man. (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 440, added emphasis).

Remember what Joseph says here that he is "to be his friend forever". Then on February 26th, (a month later!) Richards writes that Joseph,

“Held Court at the Mansion. City of Nauvoo vs O[rsimus] F. Bostwick on complaint of Hyrum Smith for slanderous language concerning Hyrum and certain females of Nauvoo. Fined Bostwick $50.00 and costs. F[rancis] M. Higbee, his attorney, gave notice he should appeal to the Municipal court and then to the circuit court. I told [p.449] him what I thought of him trying to carry such a suit to Carthage. It was to stir up the mob, and bring them upon us &c. [several lines left blank] (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 449, added emphasis).

Here we see that it was Joseph who took offense at Higby for wanting to take the Bostwick case to Carthage and he accuses Higby of trying to “stir up the mob and bring them upon us.” Joseph would later lie that he never (after making up with Higbee) said a bad word about him after that. Of course, Bostwick was accusing Hyrum of polygamy and Joseph couldn't have that aired out in a Carthage Court.

On March 2, Joseph accused Bro[ther] Stoddard of “giving appearance of evil in attempting to be bail for O[rsimus] F. Bostwick.” (ibid., 450). Bostwick had accused Hyrum Smith of practicing polygamy, and was vilified by Joseph for doing so.

Then on March 7th, Smith got into a dispute with Hyrum Kimball about wharfage rights . Smith claimed that “I am determined to use up [kill] such men if they will not stop their efforts.” (ibid., 452)

Since William Law was friends with Francis Higbee, he was guilty by association in Smith’s mind. On March 9, the “Relief Society met twice in the assembly room and sanctioned the Voice of Innocence from Nauvoo,” (written by William Phelps) which condemned polygamy and fornication. (ibid, p.458) On the day they met to finish sanctioning the Voice of Innocence (March 16th) the Relief Society never met again in Nauvoo. Joseph was desperately trying to mitigate the damage to his leaking ship. But he had hit an iceberg when he treated William Law and others the way he did. As Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery explain,

[Emma] then presented both the “Voice of Innocence” and the presidency’s letter, stating that the two documents contained the principles the society had started upon, but she “was sorry to have to say that all had not adhere’d to them.” Referring to Joseph’s original charge to search out iniquity, Emma reminded the women that she was the president of the society by the authority of Joseph. The minutes record, “If there ever was any Authority on earth [to search out iniquity] she had it–and had [it] yet.” Emma urged the women to follow the teachings of Joseph Smith as he taught them “from the stand,” implying that his private teachings should be disregarded. Reminding them that “there could not be stronger language than that just read,” she emphasized that those were Joseph’s words” (Newell and Avery, Mormon Enigma, Emma Hale Smith, 173).

They add,
“When Emma had the women take a public oath with their hands raised in support of virtue, she caused enough consternation in the men’s councils to stop the Relief Society meetings” (Ibid., 174).

Joseph's plan had backfired and Emma was now more than ever turned against Joseph's Spiritual Wifeism. The next day Smith preached a sermon about the sealing power and that one should act with “craftiness” in such matters. Be crafty and seal all you can, and then you can get to heaven and tell God you can claim what you seal and they will all be yours...

On the 11th Smith organized the Council of 50. It is claimed by some that Joseph did so in reaction to the Dennison Lott Harris story, but this is false since Joseph did not find out about any supposed conspiracy until March 24. The Harris story is a concocted fable. William Clayton writes in his diary:

[March 11, 1844. Monday.] In Council again all day, as last night many great and glorious ideas were advanced, we had a very profitable time. We organized into a Council and I was admitted a member. I will here name whose names were put on the list of members of this important organization: Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, W[illard] Richards, P[arley] P. Pratt, O[rson] Pratt, J[ohn] Taylor, H[eber] C. Kimball, G[eorge] A. Smith, W[illiam] W. Phelps, L[ucien] Woodworth, G[eorge] Miller, A[lex] Badham, P[eter] Haws, Erastus Snow, Reynolds Cahoon, Amos Fielding, A[lpheus] [p.127] Cutler,72 Levi Richards, N[ewel] K. Whitney, J[ohn] M. Bernhisel, L[orenzo] D. Wasson, myself… (George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, 127).

Joseph had already discussed plans for a Presidential run on January 29. Clayton writes,

[January 29, 1844. Monday.] At President Joseph's in Council with the Twelve on the subject of running Joseph for President of U.S. Joseph said he would have to send me out on a mission. P.M. at his house. Evening attended lodge and after had some conversation with Desdemona C. Fullmer. She has treated my family unfeelingly and unkindly in various ways and I requested her to look out for another home. She said she would not untill she had council from Joseph. Joseph. (ibid., 125)

Fullmer was one of Smith’s spiritual wives who he had supposedly “married” in July of 1843. George D. Smith writes that “The next day Desdemona Fullmer complained to Brigham Young and to Heber C. Kimball that Clayton had threatened to "kick her." Clayton said she "lied" and accused her of having a "malicious disposition." (ibid.) Fullmer had left the mansion because of Emma. Joseph was stashing spiritual wives all over the city, and Emma was like a bloodhound trying to sniff them all out. And things were just heating up with William Law & Co.

In Smith’s diary for January 29th, Willard Richards wrote that,

“The Twelve [Apostles] met at the Mayor's office [with] Joseph and Hyrum [and] J[ohn] P. Green. Moved by Willard Richards and voted unanimously that we have independent electors and that Joseph Smith be a candidate for the next presidency [of the United States] and that we use all honorable means to secure his election.” (Faulring, opening post. cited, 443).

Joseph then claimed that,

After the April conference we will have gen[eral] conferences all over the nation and I will attend them. Tell the people we have had Whig and Democrats [as] Presidents long enough. We want a President of the United States. If I ever get in the Presidential chair I will protect the people in their rights and liberties. I will not electione[e]r for myself, Hyrum, Brigham, Parley, and Taylor must go. The Whigs are striving for a king under the garb of Democracy. There is oretory enough in the Church to carry me into the Presidential chair the first slide. (ibid)

At the Mansion the night before, Richards writes, “Capt[ain] White of Quincy was at the Mansion last night and this morning drank a toast: "May all your enemies be skined, their skins made into drum heads for [p.444] your friends to beat upon. Also may Nauvoo become the empire seat of government." (ibid)

Smith then claimed that “Clayton must go out [on a mission] or he will apostatize. Must. Also gave some instructions concerning an address to the paper for Bro[ther] Phelps to write—views on the powers and policy of the Government of United States &c.” (ibid).

The Council of Fifty was to be the political, or temporal arm of the Church. D. Michael Quinn writes,

The catalyst for organizing this theocratic body was Mormon conflict with a U.S. government officer. On 10 March 1844 Smith read two letters from Lyman Wight, George Miller, and their associates who were on a mission in Wisconsin to obtain lumber to build the Nauvoo temple and Nauvoo House. Lyman Wight complained that the U.S. Indian agent was using his legal power to prevent Latter-day Saints from dealing with native Americans. The Indians had been allowing Mormons to obtain lumber from tribal lands. Wight asked the First Presidency to let his lumber missionaries go with native Americans to the Republic of Texas where they would be free from U.S. laws and could establish a gathering place.

Wight's letter was crucial in the development of Mormon theocracy. Mormons had previously been in conflict with municipal, county, and state officials. Now a federal officer was impeding construction of a divinely commanded temple. According to the 1833 revelation, this federal official was doing that which "cometh of evil," even though acting within the constitutional powers of the U.S. government.

At a preliminary meeting on 10 March, Smith indicated the radical dimensions of this new council. "Can this council keep what I say, not make it public, all held up their hands. [one blank line] Copy the constitution of the U.S. [blank space] hands of a select committee [one blank line] No law can be enacted but what every man can be protected from." Smith wanted to decide formally which national or state laws Mormons could disregard.

As the theocratic revelation authorized in 1833, the U.S. Constitution was the guide for deciding which laws "cometh of evil" (D&C 98:6-7). Apostle Parley P. Pratt later preached: "No one quorum has power to give eternal laws for his people, but a certain council which includes the Twelve and many others." In the Council of Fifty's perspective, congressional laws and Supreme Court decisions about constitutionality were irrelevant. As an interpreter noted: "If Smith waited until 1844 before he formally organized the government of the kingdom, the logic behind that move goes back to the very beginning of the new religion, because he never conceived of Mormonism as merely another sect."

[p.122] Authors often cite the History of the Church to describe the purposes of this theocratic council. However, a revelation to the Council of Fifty gives a more comprehensive statement of the Fifty's purpose:

Thus saith the Lord God who rules in the heavens above and in the earth beneath, I have introduced my Kingdom and my Government, even the Kingdom of God, that my servants have heretofore prophesied of and that I taught my disciples to pray for, saying "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," for the establishment of my rule, for the introduction of my law, for the protection of my Church, and for the maintenance, promulgation and protection of civil and religious liberty in this nation and throughout the world; and all men of every nation, color and creed shall yet be protected and shielded thereby; and every nation and kindred, and people, and tongue shall yet bow the knee to me, and acknowledge me to be Ahman Christ, to the glory of God the Father.

Although this document was never publicly canonized, the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other members of the Council of Fifty accepted this revelation "as the word and will of God." Council members William Clayton, Benjamin F. Johnson, John D. Lee, Lyman Wight, and George Q. Cannon referred to this expansive mission of the Council of Fifty in often-quoted statements. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, 121-122).

For two years Joseph Smith had trying to hide his involvement with his own brand of spiritual wifeism, and had successfully vilified anyone who had publicly accused him of practicing and teaching such doctrines. John C. Bennett had actually helped Joseph, he was a convenient scapegoat for any accusations made against Smith. Bennett’s checkered past actually helped Smith divert attention away from his own practices and place the blame on Bennett.

Even two years later they were bringing up Bennett’s name in relation to any teachings about spiritual wifeism (or polygamy) which was still being taught and practiced in Nauvoo. If accusations popped up in regard to Smith, they would release affidavits against any who dared to accuse him as they successfully did with Bennett and Sarah Pratt. Joseph was careful with what he taught “on the Stand”, and along with his partner in polygamy, Hyrum Smith, he made a series of denials that they were involved in any activities that contradicted the Article on Marriage that was the public rule of the Church.

Since these tactics had been very successful for the Smiths, Joseph believed that he could continue this policy and hide his activities as he ran for the Presidency of the United States. What he was not counting on was William Law and his brother Wilson turning against him. It was in Smith’s best interest to mollify those who were in opposition to his new doctrines, and as he was successful in keeping Emma under a modicum of control, (at least her public silence that he was involved in polygamy) he felt that he could also do so with William Law and it appears that Smith was almost successful. On January 1, 1844 Law wrote in his diary,

Fearful and terrible, yea most distressing have been the scenes through which we have past, during the last few months. The recollection paralizes the nerves, chills the currents of the heart, and drives the brain almost to madness. Had it not been for the goodness of God, surely we had been lost, overwhelmed, swallowed down in the vortex of iniquity, through our religious zeal we harkened to the teachings of man, more than to the written word of God; yea, (for a short moment) even in contradiction to the Commandments of the most high; but his spirit prevailed and before the fearful step was taken, the abomination that maketh desolate glares before our view, lights burst from before the Throne of Jehovah, and we saw and learned that justice and truth , virtue and holiness, could alone bring us into the presence of God. But it is even now, as in the days of Adam, Satan sayeth "transgress and you shall not die." (William Law Diary, January 1, 1844)

Along with William Law; the Eaton and Williams affidavits also vilify Joseph H. Jackson, who Joseph had recently (on January 5, 1844) made a Colonel in the Nauvoo Legion (an Aide-de-Camp). He also made out a commission for Marenus J. Eaton on this day. From Law's diary it appears that he for a time accepted some of Joseph's more radical teachings. This may be why Joseph sealed William and Jane to each other. But Law claims that he came to his senses.

Brian Hales claims that Joseph H Jackson was not an “insider” or “confidant” of Smith:

Looking at other contemporary documents further erodes Jackson’s claims to have been Joseph Smith’s confidant. Emma’s biographers, Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, observed: “Jackson’s name never appeared on any roll, in any minutes, or in any diary or journal entry referring to the councils of the church, secret or otherwise.” Despite being introduced to Joseph in May 1843, he is not mentioned in the Prophet’s diary until December 29, 1843. A journal entry penned a week later notes that Jackson received a commission as an aide in the Nauvoo Legion to Lieutenant General Joseph Smith. Other than these two references, all other entries identify him as working against the Prophet. (Hales, Brian C., Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Volume Second Amendment: History, Greg Kofford Books, Kindle Edition, 6264-6271).

Hales mentions the December 29, 1843, entry in Smith’s diary but does not quote it. Here is what it says:

Friday, Dec[ember] 29[th] At home. In the forenoon Bro[ther] Phelps called and gave us a lesson on eloquence and read my appeal to the Green Mountain boys, and also a New Year's Hymn without rhyme. 3 P.M. I related to Dr. Bernhisel and Joseph H. Jackson my commencement in receiving Rev[elation]. Mr. Jackson said he was almost persuaded to be one with liquors. [several lines left blank] Cool, freezing. {page 216} (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 436).

Jackson though, is repeatedly mentioned in William Clayton's diary. On January 30, Willard Richards records in Smith’s diary that,

Tuesday, January 30[th] 1844 11 A.M. went into the office with Col[onel] Jackson. [several lines left blank] 1 P.M. Court at my office, City versus Thomas Coates, fined $25 and costs for beating John Ellison. [several lines left blank] (ibid., 444).

So we know that Joseph was on good terms with Joseph Jackson at the end of January, 1844. Hales also does not quote from William Clayton’s diary, where Jackson is mentioned on May 20, 1843:

[May 20, 1843. Saturday.]…Rode on prairie with President Joseph, [Joseph H.] Jackson, Brother Oakley and others to look lands. P.M. rode out with Jackson to shew lands. President Smith tells me he has appointed Jackson to sell lands and relieve me of their burthen. He says Jackson appears a fine and noble fellow but is reduced in circumstances. The president feels disposed to employ him and give him a chance in the world. Jackson says he shall be baptized ere long. (George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, 105).

A few days later, (May 23) Smith called Jackson “rotten hearted” because he was told that Jackson was speaking with some of his spiritual wives while he was out of town. (Smith also pressed Clayton to see if he had any "familiarity" with Emma). Jackson must have offered up some explanation that satisfied Smith (As did Clayton) because he told Jackson in December that he “would to God” that Jackson would be persuaded to “be one with me.” A week later he had Jackson commissioned as a Colonel in the Nauvoo Legion. Jackson would later claim that he had come to Nauvoo to look for business opportunities but had been accused of being a “Missouri Spy” and shot at. He then decided to become an agent provocateur among the Mormons. Marenus Eaton may have found out about Jackson’s plans, but more than likely he wanted to get close to Smith himself, since he was a convicted counterfeiter.

After Nauvoo and the death of Joseph Smith, Jackson enlisted in the US Army was injured and probably died in battle during the Mexican War since all records of him dead end there.

Sometime at the end of March “Brother Alexander Mills, one of the police, informed [Joseph Smith] that Chauncey L. Higbee drew a pistol on him the night before, and threatened to shoot him,” and Smith “instructed him to make complaint to Esquire Wells, and have him apprehended.”(History of the Church, Vol. 6, p.283)

On April 1, the Higbee’s appeared in court and were found not guilty, but Daniel H. Wells still fined Chauncey L. Higbee $10 for “using abusive language and insulting the city marshal while in the discharge of his official duty.” (ibid, p.285)

At the same time Robert D. Foster was also fined $10, supposedly for “a breach of the ordinance pertaining to gambling, &c.” (ibid)

Immediately, the Higbees had John P. Greene (City Marshal) & Andrew and John Lytle (policemen) arrested on a warrant by Robert Foster for false imprisonment. Smith presided at the trial, discharged the defendants and ruled that Chauncey L. Higbee was a “very disorderly person who had “originated in a malicious and vexatious suit and made him pay court costs. (ibid., 286).

It is obvious that Smith and his police were harassing the “dissenters” as much as they could, and that anytime they went before a judge in Nauvoo they were bound to lose. Smith should have recused himself from the Higbee suit, but did not. On March 29, 1844, William Law wrote in his diary:
Since my last conversation with Joseph Smith which was on the 8th Jan'y I have had no association with him, as I do not wish to associate with evil doers; he has in the meantime been using all his influence to destroy me, he has employed every vile and corrupt man and woman in the city over whom he has any power to circulate evil reports as false as the author of lies, about me and my wife, but he has failed. . to accomplish his object, for our names yet stand fair and untarnished in the estimation of the virtuous and the good; we find the better part of the community to. be our friends; they feel disgusted with Smith's course for it has been most disgusting lothsome to the virtuous mind, lust, falsehood, injustice, and cruelty have characterized his course towards me & mine in such an unparalelled degree that the unprejudiced could not but see it, and abhor the man and his base acts,----

Hyrum Smith was here a few days ago. He Beg'd for peace; we told him of the corrupt opperation which had been practised upon us; he could not deny it, but said he was sorry as we had always been good friends to him and Joseph and had done much good for the church &c &c. I told him I was ready for an investigation before the Conference, and that there would bring their abominations to light; he said there would not be an investigation before Conference, that they wanted peace. I told him then to cease their abominations, for they were from Hell & that I knew it. he said they were not doing anything in the plurality of wife business now, and that he had published a piece against it; when I came to examine the piece refered to I found that it amounted to this, that no one should preach or practice such things unless by revelation (of course through Hyrum or Joseph). I told Hyrum that we stood on the defensive, we would defend the truth, we would defend ourselves both in character and in person. (William Law Diary, 5)

At the Conference, Hyrum Smith affirmed what Law wrote about investigations, and praised the Law brothers. See quote at the beginning.

Yet, Brigham Young proclaimed that, “Doctor Foster lost his money by gambling, and joined blacklegs. Those men who say there is evil in the Church are evil themselves.”(Ibid., 326).

D. Michael Quinn writes,

The last public endorsement of violence during Joseph Smith’s life occurred at the general conference on 6 April 1844. Sidney Rigdon undoubtedly startled many Mormons by announcing: “There are men standing in your midst that you can't [sic] do anything with them but cut their throat & bury them.” The Prophet said nothing to censure his first counselor’s remarks. (Sidney Rigdon sermon on 6 April 1844, compiled on 24 April 1844 by Thomas Bullock, LDS Archives, with complete transcription in Quinn’s research files, Beinecke Library; deleted from the published report, as quoted in D. Michael Quinn, “The Culture of Violence in Joseph Smith’s Mormonism, Part III”, Sunstone, Issue 164, October, 2011, 28, (Complete article, PDF, Online here, Accessed December 31, 2014).

On April 7, Law wrote in his diary,

I have learned that my case cannot be brought before the Conference as the Smiths are determined that no exposure of their wicked deeds shall be made to the Conference, but if any charges be preferred they will insult and abuse the person daring to make the charges & then turn the investigation over to the High Council and some particular High Priests, a[nd] so I have concluded to let the matter rest at present. (William Law Diary, April 7, 1844)

A few days later, on April 13th, Willard Richards wrote in Smith’s diary:

At 1 p. m., the Municipal Court sat in the assembly room, where I [Joseph Smith] asked Dr. R. D. Foster if he bore my expenses to Washington, or any part thereof.

Foster replied he did not.

I stated that Dr. Goforth had said that he was taken in a secret council when Foster told him he had paid my expenses.

Dr. Foster replied he never had a secret interview with Dr. Goforth, and gave his version of the meeting.

I then asked him—"Have I ever misused you anyway?

Foster said—"I do not feel at liberty to answer this question, under existing circumstances?"
I again asked him—"Did I ever misuse you?"

He again replied—"I do not feel at liberty to answer under existing circumstances"

I then asked—"Did I ever wrong you in deal, or personally misuse you in any shape?"

Foster said,"I do not feel at liberty to answer. I have treated you Christianly and friendly too, so far as I have had the ability."

I then asked him to tell me where I had done wrong, and I will ask his forgiveness; for I want you to prove to this company by your testimony that I have treated you honorably.

Foster then said—"I shall testify no further at present."

I then asked Justice Aaron Johnson—"Did I ever make oath before you against Simpson?"

He replied—"Not before the persecution."

I then told the whole story.

Andrew Colton then came up before the Municipal Court on habeas corpus, and was discharged on the insufficiency of the papers.

After which, I preferred the following charge before the High Council against Dr. Robert D. Foster "for unchristianlike conduct in general, for abusing my character privily, for throwing out slanderous insinuations against me, for conspiring against my peace and safety, for conspiring against my life, for conspiring against the peace of my family, and for lying."

A charge was preferred against Harrison Sagers for teaching spiritual wife doctrine and neglecting his family, which was handed over to the High Council to act upon. (History of the Church, 332-333).

The case of Harrison Sagers is interesting. Sagers was first charged with this on November 25, 1843. The High Council minutes read,
Joseph Smith [preferred a charge] against [William Henry] Harrison Sagars. Charge[:] Nauvoo City[,] November 21st 1843. Brother Marks[.]

Dear Sir, I hereby prefer the following charges against Elder Harrison Sagars, namely: 1st. For trying to seduce a young girl, living at his house[,] by the name of Phebe Madison. 2nd. For using my name in a blasphemous manner, by saying that I tolerated such things in which thing he is guilty of lying &c &c. Joseph Smith.

The defendant plead not guilty. One [high councilman each] were appointed to speak on [either] side, viz. (7) [Thomas] Grover and (8) [Aaron] Johnson[.] The charge was not sustained, but it appeared that he had taught false doctrine which was corrected by President Joseph Smith,86 and the defendant was continued in the church.

[The] Council adj[ourne]d [un]till Saturday the 9th day of Dec[ember] next at 2 o’clock P.M. Hosea Stout[,] Clerk. (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 12620-12629).

Here we see Sagers being charged with “seducing” a young girl, and claiming that Joseph Smith approved of it. Smith claims that he didn’t but that Sagers was only teaching “false doctrine” and he corrected him. He was allowed to stay in the church. Then on April 13, 1844 his first wife, Lucinda Sagers preferred a charge of adultery (spiritual wifeism) and leaving her. The minutes of the High Council read:

Lucinda Sagars [preferred a charge] against [William Henry] Harrison Sagars. Charge[:]

To the Presidency and the Twelve. Inasmuch as you have declared officially that you will deal with all persons who teach or have taught the abominable doctrine of Spiritual wives, this is to notify you that Harrison Sagars is guilty of that said sin, which thing can be proven by credible witnesses, and if he is not chastized for it by the church the laws of the land will be enforced against him. H[arrison] Sagars left his family in December last[,] since which time he has not provided for them in any way whatever. The cause of the innocent demand action immediately and you are the ones to take the matter in hand. Lucinda Sagars.

Brother Harrison Sagars, Dear sir[:] As this complaint has been handed over to the High Council by the First Presidency to act upon, you are requested to appear before [the] Council on Saturday the 13th inst[ant] at my house at 2 o’clock P.M. to answer the within ^above^ charges. Nauvoo City[,] April 10th 1844.

William Marks President of said Council. [The] Defendant plead not guilty. Two were appointed to speak on [each] side to wit[:] (5) D[avid] Fulmer & (7) J[ames] G. Divine on the part of the plaintiff and (6) G[eorge] W. Harris and (8) A[aron] Johnson on the part of the defendant.

[It was] decided that ^as^ the first part of the charge had been brought before the Council before (on the 25th of Nov[ember] 1843) and he [being] tried on it; that the Council had no right to deal with him on that item. And that the second part was not sustained and therefore that he should remain in the Church.

Adjourned till the 27th inst[ant] at one o’clock P.M. Hosea Stout[,] Clerk. (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 13157-13174).

John Dinger writes,

Notice that the action against Sagers is driven by his wife, while the high council remains surprisingly lackadaisical in its response to alleged adultery. It appears that they knew Sagers had been given permission to take his sister-in-law as a second wife. If so, considering that the revelation required a man receive his first wife’s permission, the high council was complicit in the transgression (D&C 132:61; but cf. vv. 64-65).

A document in the LDS Church History Library and Archives titled “Trial of Harrison Sagars defendant and his wife Lucinda Sagars” states that Ja[me]s Hadlock — says that he heard the defendant teach the doctrine of spiritual wives, and that he said he believed it to be the order of God[.] It was before he had his trial before this council, that [the] def[endan]t said his whole salvation wd? rested on having 2 certain Girls to wit[,] [seventeen-year-old] Amanda Higbee and [twenty-five-year-old] Phebe Madison[,] and that was the way [he and his first wife] came to part[.] … They seperated last fall … P. Wells testifies [he heard James] Hadlock [speak about the] … spiritual wife doctrine … last fall [but] … thought it was all a joke. Mrs Hadlock says def[endan]t taught[the] spiritual wife doctrine … He frequently comes to see his child [and says] … that he must get an old woman to get young women for him … [The] def[endan]t and wife parted by agreement on the 8th of Dec[ember] … His wife said [the] def[endan]t and his mother all was whores … [It was] decided that as the first part of the charge had been brought up before the Council before (on the 25 Nov[ember] 1843) and he [was] tried on it[,] that the Council had no right to deal with him on that item, and that the second part was not sustained and therefore that he should remain in the Church (Nauvoo Stake High Council Court Papers, Selected Collections, 1:19). (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 13912-13929).

Smith did not find Sagers guilty of adultery in either case. He only claimed that Sagers had taught “false doctrine” in what he said about Smith. Yet, Smith finds no fault in what he did except for this. When his wife prefers a charge, they also wave it off. This was exactly Smith’s M.O with spiritual wifeism. Sagers could do what Smith did, but he couldn’t teach that Joseph “tolerated it” in public. It was “false doctrine” because they were denying that it was being taught. For more on W. H. H. Sagers, see “William Henry Sagers: A Brief History”, Common Consent Blog.

On April 15, William Law wrote,

April 15 (1844]. Conference is over, and some of the most blasphemous doctrines have been taught by J. Smith & others ever heard of. Such as a plurality of Gods, other gods as far above our God as he is above us. That he wrought out his salvation in the flesh with fear and trembling, the same as we do; that J. Smith is a god to this generation, that secret meetings are all legal and right and that . the Kingdom must be set up after the manner of a Kingdom (and of course have a King) &c . &c .It was a strange Conference, was not organised at all, and was managed in a most unprecedented manner. Hyrum Smith stated to the Conference that the Law's were not engaged in any conspiracy as had been stated; that Jackson had said he said they were honourable men and had done a great deal for the place, that the steam mills were of great use to the city, &c. &c. Since Conference Almon Babbit came to me, and said, that Joseph Smith wished a reconciliation and that if I would let all drop and say nothing about it, and be friendly, he would restore me to my office of the first Presidency and raise me high than ever, & would send me a writing to that effect. I told Mr. Babbit that I could not be bought, that if J. Smith wanted reconciliation with me he must make public acknowledgment and cease from his abominations &c. (ibid., 13)

On April 16th, Smith had a conversation with Chauncey Higbee in front of his house and read to him and “Esquire Marr,” the affidavits made by Dr. A. B. Williams' and M. G. Eaton. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p.341). The next day Smith claimed (at the dinner table) that he heard a “report” that someone staying at his house was being paid off by the Laws to spy on him. Joseph was losing it, and feeding into all the rumors flying around Nauvoo like a flock of angry ravens.

The next day the Nauvoo Neighbor (Edited by William Smith) published the affidavits against the “dissenters” that Williams and Eaton had sworn out on March 27th:

Wednesday, [April] 17[th] 1844 P.M. Rode out. [several lines left blank] This days Nauvoo Neighbor printed Williams and Eatons affidavit about Jackson, Foster, Laws &c. and my reply to the Washington Globe. (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 471).

Given the news by Almon Babbit that Law would not concede to let matters drop, Smith had the Laws excommunicated. This was the day after Smith had published the Williams and Eaton affidavits. On April 18, Brigham Young presided over the excommunication of William Law. The curious minutes I've already shared above.

On April 26, all hell broke loose between Joseph Smith and the Foster Brothers. Smith’s diary records the incident,

Friday, April 26[th] 1844 At home. 10 A.M. Marshal went up on hill to arrest Augustus Spencer for an assault on his Bro[ther] Orson Spencer for an assault in his own home. R[obert] D. Foster, Charles Foster, and Chaunc[e]y L. Higbee come down.

Charles Foster drew a pistol towards me on the steps of my office. I ordered him to be arrested and the pistol taken from him. A struggle ensued in which Charles Foster, R[obert] D. Foster and Chaunc[e]y L. Higbee resisted and I ordered them to be arrested. They resisted and I Mayor ordered the High policemen to be called and his possey and went on to try A[ugustus]. Spencer. Fined him $100 bound for to keep the peace 6 months.

$100 Bonds appealed to Municipal court at once [by] R[obert] D. Foster, Ghaunc[e]y L. Higbee and Charles Foster[, arrested] for resisting the authorities of the city. O[rrin] P[orter] Rockwell sworn Marshal [John Greene] sworn. Said Dr. Foster swore by God he would not assist the Marshal and swore by God they would see the Mayor &c. in hell before they would go. {page 99}

[p.474] Charles Foster drew a pistol. Dr. Foster interfered. Cha[r]les Foster and Chaunc[e]y L. Higbee said they would be God damned if they would not shoot the Mayor. Breathed out many hard threatening and menacing sayings. Would concider favored of God for the privilege of shooting or ridding the world of such a Tyrant referring to the Mayor. J. Coolidge confirmed.Tufts swore [and] confirmed the foregoing statements.

Fined R[obert] D. Foster, Charles Foster and C[hauncey] L. Higbee fined $100 each. Appealed to Municipal Court.

Issued a warrant for a R[obert] D. Foster on complaint of Willard Richards for breach of ordinance in that Foster, said tosaid Richards, "You," shakeing his fists in his face, "are another Damned black hearted villian. You tried to seduce my wife on the boat when she was going to New York and I can prove it. And the oath is out against you." (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 473-474).

Augustine Spencer was a non-Mormon in a family full of Mormons. He had been friendly towards Joseph Smith and the Church until his father died on November 27, 1843, and it came time to divide the estate. As the oldest son of Daniel and Chloe Spencer, Augustine felt that he should be the Administrator of the Estate, (which was considerable) but was opposed by his Mormon family who took the matter to the county seat at Carthage. There, Augustine was granted control of the Estate. Accusations were then made by both sides about the goods and monies left by Daniel Spencer. As Richard and Claudia Sadler write:

As the enmity widened between Augustine and his mother Chloe and his three younger brothers, so did his animosity toward the Church and its leaders. By April 1844, Augustine had clearly aligned himself with the leading Nauvoo dissenters—William Law (Joseph Smith’s second counselor in the First Presidency), his brother Wilson Law, Chauncey and Francis Higbee, and Charles A. and Robert D. Foster. (Richard & Claudia S. Sadler, Augustine Spencer: Nauvoo Gentile, Joseph Smith Antagonist, Mormon Historical Studies, Vol. 12, Issue 2, September 2011, 35

On April 26, Augustine and his younger brother Orson got into a heated argument at Orson’s home, which escalated to physical confrontation. (ibid, p. 35) Augustine left his brother’s house and went to an attorney’s office (W. H. J. Marr) where he was found by Orrin Porter Rockwell, the City Marshal who was sent there to arrest him. Rockwell claimed that he had resisted arrest and so would be taken before the Mayor, Joseph Smith to be charged. (ibid)
A crowd soon converged on the Mayor’s Office including Chauncey Higbee, Robert and Charles Foster, who came to Augustine’s defense. In the ensuing argument about Augustine being arrested without due process, Charles drew a gun on Smith and threatened to shoot him. Smith immediately held a hearing and fined them all $100 and Augustine another $100 to “keeph the peace for six months.” Foster told Smith that “there was Daniteism in Nauvoo.” (ibid.)

It almost seems from all of the incidents that Smith and his detractors were engaged in that both parties enjoyed taking opposite sides of an argument so they could confront each other. With each new confrontation emotions ran hotter and hotter as more and more accusations and hostility were manifested. Joseph was their tyrant and they were his usurpers of authority. Any complaint that went to Carthage was looked upon by Joseph as a threat to him. Smith wanted dictatorial control, but they just weren't willing to give it to him.

On May 3, Parley P. Pratt wrote a warning letter to Joseph Smith and Orson Spencer from Richmond, Massachusetts, about Augustine which read in part:
Dear Brother Joseph and Brother Orson Spencer, or whom it may concern:

This is to forewarn you that you have a snake in the grass—a base traitor and hypocrite in your midst, of whom perhaps you may not be fully aware. You may think these hard terms, but I speak from good evidence and speak the truth. Mr. Augustine Spencer, brother to Elder Orson Spencer, has written a letter from Nauvoo, which is now going the rounds in this neighborhood, and is fraught with the most infamous slander and lies concerning Joseph Smith and others, and which is calculated to embitter the minds of the people who read or hear it. It affirms that Joseph Smith is in the habit of drinking, swearing, carousing, dancing all night, &tc., and that he keeps six or seven young females as wives, &tc., and many other such like insinuations (ibid.)
Pratt claimed that he never saw the letter, but that he had “carefully examined the testimony of those who have, and I have also seen and witnessed its baneful effect upon the people here.” (ibid., 36)

No wonder Smith thought there were "traitors" everywhere. The rumors about spiritual wives was spreading far and wide. The day after the shooting incident Smith’s diary records that,

9 A.M. R[obert] D. Foster come up for trial. After much conversation with the Mayor in which he charged Joseph with many crimes [like] Daniteism in Nauvoo, and a great variety of vile and false Epithets and charges. Court adjourned to Monday 9 A.M. Foster agreed to meet Joseph on 2d Monday of May at the stand and have a settlement. Foster then said he would publish it [in the] Warsaw paper. Joseph told him if he did not agree to be quiet [and] not attempt to raise a mob and [threaten violence] he would not meet him. If he would be quiet he would publish it in Neighbor. Foster would not agree to be quiet and Joseph said he was free from his (Foster) blood had made the last overtures of peace, [and] delivered him into the hand of God and shook his garments against him. (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 475).

The next day (Sunday) the 28th of April, the Law’s organized their new Church:

Sunday, April 28[th] 1844 At home. Hyrum preached at the stand. A.M. There was a meeting at Gen[eral] W[illia]m and Wilson Law's near the saw mill of those who had been cut off from the Church and their dupes. Several affidavits were taken and read against Joseph and others. W[illia]m Law, Wilson Law, Austin D. Cowles, John Scott Sen[ior]., Francis M. Higbee, R[obert] D. Foster, and Robert Pierce were appointed a committee to visit the different families of the city and see who would join the new Church (IE [i.e.,]) it was decided that Joseph was [a] fallen prophet &c. and W[illia]m Law was appointed in his place. Austin Cowles and Wilson Law Councillors. R[obert] D. Foster and F[rancis] M. Higbee to the 12 Apostles &c. as report says. El[der] James Blakely preached up Joseph in the A.M. and [in the] P.M. joined the anties [anti-Mormons]. Cha[rle]s Ivins Bishop. [several lines left blank] (ibid.)

This sounds almost like what Dennison Harris describes in his 1881 recollection to George S. Gibbs (without all the drama). This was Law's grand "conspiracy", to start a new church without Joseph.

On Monday (April 29) Robert D. Foster came up for trial and Joseph finally recused himself and gave the case to William Marks. Foster “objected to jurisdiction of court and informality” (Smith Diary). It was ruled by the court that his objections had no foundation. On the same day Smith had Abiathar Williams file affidavits to suspend the Laws from the Nauvoo Legion pending a trial. (ibid.)

On May 6th Joseph nominated Sidney Rigdon to be his Presidential running mate. It appears that Smith no longer thought Rigdon was working with the Missourians to betray him. He was now fully focused on William Law. Also on that day Smith had a warrant served on him by Francis Higbee for slander in the amount of $5000. Gary Bergera writes,

It is unclear what immediately prompted the suit; perhaps others of Higbee’s immediate circle had talked about Smith’s earlier accusations against him. Smith petitioned Nauvoo’s municipal court the same day to allow him to respond to Higbee’s charges and to force Higbee to justify why Smith should remain under arrest. During the May 8 proceeding, which Higbee did not attend, Smith proved good on his threat to try to expose Higbee. According to the published minutes:

Joseph Smith sworn … Francis M. Higbee said he was grieved at me, and I was grieved at him. I was willing on my part to settle all difficulties, and he promised if I would go before the City Council and tell them he would drop every thing against me forever. I have never mentioned the name of Francis M. Higbee disrespectfully from that time to this; but have been entirely silent about him; if any one has said that I have spoken disrespectfully since then, they have lied: and he cannot have any cause whatever. I want to testify to this court of what occurred a long time before John C. Bennet left [t]his city. I was called on to visit Francis M. Higbee; I went and found him on a bed on the floor.

[Here follows testimony which is too indelicate for the public eye or ear; and we would here remark, that so revolting, corrupt, and disgusting has been the conduct of most of this clique, that we feel to dread having any thing to do with the publication of their trials; we will not however offend the public eye or ear with a repetition of the foulness of their crimes any more.]

Bennet said Higbee pointed out the spot where he had seduced a girl, and that he had seduced another. I did not believe it, I felt hurt, and labored with Higbee about it; he swore with uplifted hands, that he had lied about the matter. I went and told the girl’s parents, when Higbee and Bennet made affidavits and both perjured themselves, they swore false about me so as to blind the family. I brought Francis M. Higbee before Brigham Young, Hyrum Smith and others; Bennet was present, when they both acknowledged that they had done these things, and asked us to forgive them. I got vexed, my feelings had been hurt; Higbee has been guilty of adulterous communication, perjury, &c. which I am able to prove by men who heard them confess it. I also preferred charges against Bennett, the same charges which I am now telling: and he got up and told them it was the truth, when he pleaded for his life, and begged to be forgiven; this was [Bennett’s] own statement before sixty or seventy men; he said the charges were true against him and Higbee. I have been endeavoring to throw out shafts to defend myself, because they were corrupt, and I knew they were determined to ruin me: [Higbee] has told the public that he was determined to prosecute me, because I slandered him, although I tell nothing but the truth. Since the settlement of our difficulties, I have not mentioned his name disrespectfully; he wants to bind up my hands in the circuit court, and make me pay heavy damages for telling the truth. In relation to the conspiracy, I have not heard Francis M. Higbee say he would take away my life; but Chauncey Higbee [and two others] … said they would shoot me, and the only offence against me is telling the truth.

Although Hyrum Smith had earlier insisted that such accusations were “a mistake,” he and others now joined their testimony to Joseph Smith’s regarding Francis’s reported depravity:

Brigham Young, sworn, With regard to Francis M. Higbee, at the time that is spoken of, I stopped opposite Mr. Laws’ store, we had been conversing with Dr. Bennet when I came into the room, Francis Higbee rather recoiled and wished to withdraw; he went out and sat upon a pile of wood. He said it is all true, I am sorry for it, I wish it had never happened. I understood Bennet who related some of the circumstances, he cried and begged of us to forgive him, and said if he could be permitted to stay in the city as a private individual he should be happy; that was about what he said; it is true, I am sorry for it I wish it had never been so; as we came up, Dr. Bennet, Mr. Higbee, and Mr. Smith, had been talking about it, I have not mentioned it before, I knew of the whole affair, it was on the 4th of July, or a few days after[;] it was shortly after I came from England. I was in the City Council when Mr. Higbee said all was settled. …

Hyrum Smith swore,—I recollect a settlement of difficulties between Francis M. Higbee and my brother Joseph, about which some of the court may recollect. I recollect Dr. Bennett asking forgiveness of the [Masonic] Lodge when there was about sixty present—Francis M. Higbee acknowledged that it was the truth, that he was sorry, and had been a thousand times: he acknowledged his connection with the woman on the hill; I did think he was with Dr. Bennet at the time, the statement of Bennet was, that he was guilty, he was sorry and asked forgiveness, he said he had seduced six or seven, he acknowledged it, and said if he was forgiven, he would not be guilty any more. Francis said he knew it was true, he was sorry and had been a hundred times; the very things that we had challenged him with, he acknowledged. I told Francis that it had better be settled[.] [H]e said, Joseph had accused him—if his character was gone all was gone, he said he would settle it and they went into the room, he did not deny any charge, he said he was sorry, that he wanted it buried, and it was agreed to do so. Francis did not say any thing about his sickness, but Dr. Bennet … doctored him in the time of his sickness. …

Heber C. Kimball, sworn—I think it is near two years: I had some conversation with Francis Higbee, he expressed himself indignant at some things; he expressed himself that he was sorry, he would live a new life, he never would say a word against President Joseph Smith; he had an inclination to write that what he published was false. … The last time I conversed with him, he said, “if I had taken your council, I should now have been a man looked on with respect; he said he was not connected with the people that opposed President Smith and never would”—he much regretted the course he had taken.
At the end of the hearing, the court discharged Joseph Smith and ruled that “Francis M. Higbee’s character having been so fully shown, as infamous, the court is convinced that this suit was instituted through malice, private pique and corruption; and ought not to be countenanced; and it is ordained by the court that said Francis M. Higbee pay the costs.” To underscore his commitment to expose Higbee, Smith had the court record, including his own testimony, published in the Nauvoo Neighbor the next week.

Before the end of the month, Higbee issued his own public statement to the Warsaw Signal:

The nature of the above case was as follows:—On the 1st day of May, 1844, I sued out a capias, from the Clerk of the Circuit Court, of the Fifth Judicial District of Illinois, against Joseph Smith, who, immediately on being arrested obtained a writ of habeas corpus, from the Municipal Court at Nauvoo, that he might under that garb or semblance of justice, extricate himself from the just demands of violated law, as has always been the case before when men have attempted to bring him to justice. On the return of said writ before the Municipal Court, Joseph Smith in justification of his own wickedness, corruption and infamy, swore first, as follows: “That I was grieved at him, and he was grieved at me,” but he does not tell the cause of my “grief,” neither does he give the world to understand the cause of his. He, as well as I, recollects well, the cause which first induced me to question his pretentions to sincerity, and which gave rise as he says, to my ‘grief:’ which was the base attack he (Joseph Smith) made upon the virtue of Miss Nancy Rigdon, in 1842, to whom I was at that time paying my addresses. The attack was of so base, so loathesome, and of so detestable a character, that I could not conceal my feelings from the base seducer, and I assailed Joseph Smith about the matter; in (as I think quite likely,) rather a rough manner, for I felt much excited indeed; when he (Smith) assured me I must keep perfectly dark, and be quiet, or he would serve a quietus upon me—But I could not feel reconciled towards Joseph, and I made another assault upon him, in front of Mr. James Ivin’s store, (or where he at that time kept,) and he upon that occasion told me he would blow my character to the four winds, if I did not be still, for God would deal with him, if I would be still and mind my own business, and that I was only exciting and agitating the attack, he made upon Nancy for the sake of insuring to myself an imperishable name, (or some words to that effect.)

The excitement upon my part was still on the increase, for as I reflected upon the matter, the more and more I became astonished; to think that Joseph Smith, a man professing to be a Messiah, sent by the God of Heaven to revolutionize and christianize this depraved and fallen generation, would have the presumption to attack the virtue of any female, with whom I was corresponding, and that too under the cloak of Christianity, was more than I could or ever will bear from him or any other man made in the image of his God;—I care not what his pretentions of Christianity may be, or how many revelations he may call to his aid—he is a dark fiend from the Tartarian regions, and hell stands wide to swallow him up; and I would here recommend that Joseph Smith should look well to the west, for the figure of the Lord hath written it upon the wall “Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.”

Smith discovered my feelings and commenced raging against me, by assailing my character in every corner of the street and in any private circle, and he soon commenced his outrageous attacks upon my character from the public stand. I met Smith in the public street before Hiram Smith’s office, about that time (in ’42,) when he presented his hand for my acceptance, I carried mine behind me, and refused to accept his, when he stated that he was sorry the things had assumed such an aspect, for he always loved me and did still, and I was a good boy, and every body knew it, and if every body did not know it, they were not as smart as he was. At that time he eulogized my moral worth to the skies, but could not come [to] it, for I still persisted, and utterly refused to extend my hand to any one so base, so lost to every sense of honor and virtue.”

The above is a brief statement of some things that passed between Joseph and myself, about the time he made the attack upon the virtue of Miss Nancy, sufficient, however, to acquaint the public with the reasons for my feeling towards him, as he stated I did. As for himself he could not succeed in his unhallowed attempts, and that is what made him feel so bad, but all the man had to do, I suppose in mitigation of the crime, was to offer up the entrails of a lamb, if John T. Barnett would sell another, as he did when Mr. Samuel Pratt repeated his attempts.

Joseph Smith continues his statement before the Municipal Court, at great length with regard to myself, during which statement he (Joseph) tells but one falsehood, and that includes all the man said from the time he rose to swear, until he closed his testimony—which was a lie of the basest kind, and constitutes him a perjured villain, and so he stands on the docket of that Court, and what is still more painful and desperate, is to know as I do verily know, that he stands before the Bar of Heaven and owns [i.e., admits] that he has lied, and that too, for the sole purpose of destroying him who has never harmed the hair of any man’s head, or injured any female under Heaven. (Bergera, opening post. cited)

Smith is caught in a lie in his testimony. He claims that “I have never mentioned the name of Francis M. Higbee disrespectfully from that time to this; (January 13th) but have been entirely silent about him; if any one has said that I have spoken disrespectfully since then, they have lied: and he cannot have any cause whatever.” Joseph also testifies that,

“I never said any thing about Law, etc. etc. but what was strictly true. I have been placed in — the only sin I ever committed was in covering up their iniquities, etc. that I am ashamed of & will never do it again—“

Yet, little more than a month later, because Higbee decided to counsel Orsimus Bostwick, and did not want him tried in Nauvoo, Smith accused Higbee of trying to “stir up the mob, and bring them upon us”. Joseph also claims that “In relation to the conspiracy, I have not heard Francis M. Higbee say he would take away my life,” yet Smith accused him of trying to bring a mob down on him. They only thing that Smith can claim is that Chauncey Higbee drew a gun on him and threatened to shoot him, which he did in front of many witnesses, so he wasn’t trying to hide it by way of some conspiracy. There isn’t one mention of Francis Higbee in Smith’s Diary until February of 1844. Francis Higbee’s name though, was brought up by Joseph Smith in the Nauvoo City Council on January 3, 1844:

“Mayor [Joseph Smith] spoke on Spiritual Wife system, and explained, The man who promises to keep a secret and does not keep it[,] he is a liar, and not to be trusted. … When a man becomes a traitor to his friend or country who is innocent, treacherous to innocent blood[,] [I] do consider it right to cut off his influence so that he could not injure the innocent, but [it is] not right to meddle with that man without testimony, law & trial.” (Dinger, opening post. cited above).

This can’t be about John C. Bennett, because Smith considered him guilty, so it is about himself who he (Joseph) declared “was innocent of all these charges” later in May. Here was see Smith talking about his own “Spiritual Wife System” as they called it. He also did exactly the opposite of what he counsels here with William and Wilson Law when Brigham Young cut them off from the Church on April 18th.

On the 12th Smith railed against his enemies and claimed that no one had power to reveal the principles of faith, virtue and love but him:

All the lies that are now hatched up against me are of the devil, and the influence of the devil and his servants will be used against the kingdom of God. …When did I ever teach anything wrong from this stand? When was I ever confounded? I want to triumph in Israel before I depart hence and am no more seen. I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught. Must I, then, be thrown away as a thing of naught? I enjoin for your consideration—add to your faith virtue, love, &c. I say, in the name of the Lord, if these things are in you, you shall be [p.367] fruitful. I testify that no man has power to reveal it but myself—things in heaven, in earth and hell; and all shut your mouths for the future. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, 366).

In his diary, Law wrote on May 13th 1844 that he told Sidney Rigdon (who Joseph had sent to William Law to offer him restoration of his place in the Church),

…that if they wanted peace they could have it on the following conditions, That [if] Joseph Smith would acknowledge publicly that he had taught and practiced the doctrine of the plurality of wives, that he brought a revelation supporting the doctrine, and that he should own the whole system (revelation and all) to be from Hell; to acknowledge also that he had lately endeavored to seduce my wife, and had found her a virtuous woman and that persecution against me and my friends was unjust; if Smith and his followers will entirely cease from their abominations and fully undeceive the people as to these things, then I would agree to cease hostilities, otherwise we would publish all to the world. (William Law Diary, May 13, 1844)

As one can see from above, the part about Joseph seducing William’s wife has been crossed out. I believe that this was done not because it didn’t happen (we have Scott’s testimony from the 18th of April to support this as well as Edward Bonney’s) but because Law did not include this in his demands to Rigdon. He may have mentioned it to Rigdon, but did not want to demand Smith to acknowledge it publicly if he would admit to and denounce his practice of polygamy. For the next few days, William Law tried to make sense out of his excommunication:

April 19 [1844]. This day I learn from Wm. Marks (President of this Stake) telling my brother that the heads of Presidents of all the Quorums met together last night, and without having preferred any charges, or notifying to trial, cut off (as they call it) from the Church, R.D. Foster, Wilson Law, myself and my wife, they said we were opposed to Joseph Smith and that was enough, some charges had been prefered against Foster, but they cut him off before the day of trial, the fact is they are afraid to bring us to trial, knowing that they cannot prove anything against us, and they know we could prove them guilty of base & damning crimes, they fear that we might bring charges against them, and therefore they want tocut us off lest we should expose their wicked acts. But we consider this cutting off as illegal, and, therefore corrupt. S. Rigdon was not present.

21 [April 1844]. I this day sent a written demand to Pres: Marks demanding who as follows (in substance) to let me know who our accuser was, what accused of, who the witnesses were, what they proved &c, and by whom we were tried, he (Marks) said he had not presided, that Brigham Young had, this was illegal, as B. Young has no right to preside in this Stake only over his own Quorum.

22 [April 1844]. I went this day called on Willard Richards (Church Recorder) to obtain transcript of the record of our trial, when to my surprise he said there was no record, only that we were cut off--this again was illegal but it is like the rest of their dark deeds,--By the above the Church has as a body transgressed the laws of the Church and of God & every principle of justice and are under deep transgression. (William Law Diary, April 22, 1844, 7)

It seems from the transcript we have of William Law’s “trial” that all they did was discuss a few incidents from the past and then excommunicated him without consulting him about anything. Nameless “men on the hill” claim that Smith was maligned by the Laws and Foster. The trial was illegal. Smith would later claim,

In relation to the power over the minds of mankind which I hold, I would say, It is in consequence of the power of truth in the doctrines which I have been an instrument in the hands of God of presenting unto them, and not because of any compulsion on my part. I wish to ask if ever I got any of it unfairly? if I have not reproved you in the gate? I ask, Did I ever exercise any, compulsion over any man? Did I not give him the liberty of disbelieving any doctrine I have preached, if he saw fit? Why do not my enemies strike a blow at the doctrine? They cannot do it: it is truth, and I defy all men to upset it.(History of the Church, Vol. 6, 274, March 24, 1844).

He also claimed that, “I won't swear out a warrant against them, for I don't fear any of them: they would not scare off an old setting hen.” (ibid.)

Yet this is exactly what Joseph Smith did (swear out warrants against his “enemies”, based on hearsay reports). For example, Joseph claimed that,

My brother Hyrum received an anonymous letter, supposed to have been written by Joseph H. Jackson, threatening his life, and calling upon him to make his peace with God for he would soon have to die. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, 367, May 12, 1844).

With no way to prove this, they attribute it to Joseph H. Jackson and Joseph Smith starts proclaiming that Jackson was a proven murderer, a charge that was never substantiated. John S. Dinger writes,

In fact, nothing in the minutes of the city council indicated that Joseph Jackson had committed murder. Joseph Smith had alleged an intent on Jackson’s part, and Washington Peck may have felt intimidated by Jackson; there was fear that Jackson might elope with Hyrum Smith’s daughter, but he had not eloped and had not killed anyone either. (Dinger, John S. (2013-11-26). The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes (Kindle Locations 8529-8532). Signature Books. Kindle Edition).

Still, on June 10, Joseph would claim that,

Joseph H. Jackson has been proved a murderer before this Council. (Dinger, John S. (2013-11-26). The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes (Kindle Locations 7212-7214). Signature Books. Kindle Edition).

William Law was opposed to Joseph’s doctrines. But they were not focused on that, but on rumors of violence. On May 3rd, the Twelve wrote a letter to Reuben Hedlock and claimed:

William and Wilson Law , R[ obert] D. Foster, C[ hauncey] L. & F[ rancis] Higbee, father [Austin] Cowles &c., have organized a new church. (Laws and Fosters were first cut off.) William Law is prophet, James Blakesley and Cowels, counselors; Higbee and Foster of the twelve: cannot learn all particulars; Charles Ivins, Bishop; old Dr [Younger] Green and old John Scott his counselors; they are talking of sending a mission to England, but it will probably be after this when they come among you. ’Tis the same old story over again, “The doctrine is right, but Joseph is a fallen prophet.” (Letter from the Twelve to Reuben Hedlock, Nauvoo, May 3rd, 1844, as quoted in, The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 1879).

All of the reports of Law being in a conspiracy to murder the Smith family were false. Even Hyrum did not believe them, and said so at the April Conference. Yet Joseph went ahead and had William Law excommunicated by Brigham Young, probably because Hyrum Smith had qualms about it.

On May 4th, both Robert D. Foster and Aaron Johnson were cashiered from the Nauvoo Legion for “unofficer like and unbecoming conduct”. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, 355). On the 6th of May, Smith wrote the Court at Nauvoo that the suit brought against him by Francis M. Higbee for slander was,

instituted against him without any just or legal cause; and further that the said Francis M. Higbee is actuated by no other motive than a desire to persecute and harass your petitioner for the base purpose of gratifying feelings of revenge, which, without any cause, the said Francis M. Higbee has for a long time been fostering and cherishing. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, 358).

Smith also claimed that another reason for the suit by Higbee against him was to,

throw your petitioner [Joseph Smith] into the hands of his enemies, that he [Higbee] might the better carry out a conspiracy which has for some time been brewing against the life of your petitioner. (ibid.)

On May 9th the Law brothers were cashiered out of the Nauvoo Legion for the same reasons as Francis Higbee. (ibid, p.362) On the same day Joseph boasted,

When did I ever teach anything wrong from this stand? When was I ever confounded? I want to triumph in Israel before I depart hence and am no more seen. I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught. Must I, then, be thrown away as a thing of naught? (History of the Church, Vol. 6, 366).

By now it was a familiar game to Smith to separate what he said “on the stand” with what he practiced in private. On May 23, Joseph reports that,
Past nine p. m., I walked a little way with Dr. Richards for exercise. My brother Hyrum called in the evening, and cautioned me against speaking so freely about my enemies, &c., in such a manner as to make it actionable. I told him that six months would not roll over his head before they would swear twelve as palpable lies about him as they had about me. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, 403, May 23, 1844,),

This was because Smith kept repeating rumors in public and private as if they were facts. (Like with Joseph Jackson and William Law) Joseph’s reply was not to listen to Hyrum but to tell him they would be telling lies about him too. Except that his critics weren’t lying about Joseph’s spiritual wife doctrine. Then on May 25 Joseph got the news that he was being brought up on charges of false swearing and adultery. Smith’s diary records that he was,

At home. Keeping out of the way of expected arrests from Carthage. Towards night the grand jury [members] Hunter [and] Marks returned from Carthage also Marshal Green and A[lmon] M. Babbit. [They] informed me [there] were 2 indictments found against me. One for false swearing by R[obert] D. Foster and Joseph Jackson and one for polygamy or something else by the Laws, the particulars of which I shall learn more hereafter. Much hard swearing before Grand Jury. Francis M. Higby swore so hard that I [understand he] had to [be] removed[, he says that I steal] states property &c. His testimony was rejected. (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 483, Saturday, May 25, 1844)

The next day Smith had recorded that he “Preached at the stand about /Joseph/ Jackson and the mobocrats.” (ibid.) Smith boasted that,

I have suffered more than Paul did. I should be like a fish out of water, if I were out of persecutions. Perhaps my brethren think it requires all this to keep me humble. The Lord has constituted me so curiously that I glory in persecution. I am not nearly so humble as if I were not persecuted. If oppression will make a wise man mad, much more a fool. If they want a beardless boy to whip all the world, I will get on the top of a mountain and crow like a rooster: I shall always beat them. When facts are proved, truth and innocence will prevail at last. My enemies are no philosophers: they think that when they have my spoke under, they will keep me down; but for the fools, I will hold on and fly over them.

God is in the still small voice. In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devil—all corruption. Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days [p.409] of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. …

Matters of fact are as profitable as the Gospel, and which I can prove. You will then know who are liars, and who speak the truth I want to retain your friendship on holy grounds.

Another indictment has been got up against me. It appears a holy prophet has arisen up, and he has testified against me: the reason is, he is so holy. The Lord knows I do not care how many churches are in the world. As many as believe me, may. If the doctrine that I preach is true, the tree must be good. I have prophesied things that have come to pass, and can still.

Inasmuch as there is a new church, this must be old, and of course we ought to be set down as orthodox. From henceforth let all the churches now no longer persecute orthodoxy. I never built upon any other man's ground. I never told the old Catholic that he was a fallen true prophet God knows, then. that the charges against me are false.

I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can.

This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this.

William Law testified before forty policemen, and the assembly room full of witnesses, that he testified under oath that he never had heard or seen or knew anything immoral or criminal against me. He testified [p.411] under oath that he was my friend, and not the "Brutus." There was a cogitation who was the "Brutus." I had not prophesied against William Law. He swore under oath that he was satisfied that he was ready to lay down his life for me, and he swears that I have committed adultery.

I wish the grand jury would tell me who they are—whether it will be a curse or blessing to me. I am quite tired of the fools asking me.

A man asked me whether the commandment was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet has charged me with adultery. I never had any fuss with these men until that Female Relief Society brought out the paper against adulterers and adulteresses.

Dr. Goforth was invited into the Laws' clique, and Dr. Foster and the clique were dissatisfied with that document, and they rush away and leave the Church, and conspire to take away my life; and because I will not countenance such wickedness, they proclaim that I have been a true prophet, but that I am now a fallen prophet.

Jackson has committed murder, robbery, and perjury; and I can prove it by half-a-dozen witnesses. Jackson got up and said—"By God, he is innocent," and now swears that I am guilty. He threatened my life.

There is another Law, not the prophet, who was cashlured for dishonesty and robbing the government. Wilson Law also swears that I told him I was guilty of adultery. Brother Jonathan Dunham can swear to the contrary. I have been chained. I have rattled chains before in a dungeon for the truth's sake. I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves.

When I love the poor, I ask no favors of the rich. I can go to the cross—I can lay down my life; but don't forsake me. I want the friendship of my brethren.—Let us teach the things of Jesus Christ. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a downfall.

Be meek and lowly, upright and pure; render good for evil, If you bring on yourselves your own destruction, I will complain. It is not right for a man to bear down his neck to the oppressor always. Be humble and patient in all circumstances of life; we shall then triumph more gloriously. What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.

I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience; and then I sent my brother Hyrum, whom they virtually kicked out of doors.

I then sent Mr. Backenstos, when they declared that they were my enemies. I told Mr. Backenstos that he might tell the Laws, if they had any cause against me I would go before the Church, and confess it [p.412] to the world. [Wm. Law] was summoned time and again, but refused to come. Dr. Bernhisel and Elder Rigdon know that I speak the truth. I cite you to Captain Dunham, Esquires Johnson and Wells, Brother Hatfield and others, for the truth of what I have said. I have said this to let my friends know that I am right. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, 408-412. For more on Joseph’s legal troubles at this time see “Joseph Smith’s Indictment for Adultery and Fornication, by John Dinger, Rational Faiths Blog, August 16, 2015. Dinger answers many of the claims addressed by me above).

On June 1st, William Law wrote:

June 1st [1844]. Since our Conference April 21st we have held public meetings every sabbath day; our enemies rage, and publish slander about us, but we cease not to vindicate the cause of truth, and oppose crime. To this end we have purchased a printing press and intend issuing in a few days a paper to be entitled the Nauvoo Expositor. This course has caused great alarm in the camp of our enemies; they are running to and fro, not knowing how to shield themselves; they use every means possible to destroy our influence; our lives are threatened and our steps watched by night and day. (William Law Diary, June 1, 1844)

On June 6 Smith’s diary records that,

About 12 [P.M.] 1/2 D[imick] B. Huntington come and said R[obert] D. Foster felt bad and he thought there was a chance for him to return if he could be reinstated in his office in the Legion &c. that he had all the anties affidavits &c. at his control. I told him if he would return, withdraw all his suits &c. and do right he should be restored. Met Bro[ther] Richards coming from his garden with new potatoes. Told him to go to the High Council and have Bro[ther] Brown restored to the church and give him his licence. Rode out with several in my carriage an hour or so. [several lines left blank]
7 P.M. Heavy shower, thunder, lightning [and] rain and again about 9. {page 147}

Friday, June 7[th] 1844 At home. R[obert] D. Foster called professidly to make some concessions and return to the Church. [He] wanted a private interview which ! declined. Told him I would choose individuals and he might choose others and we would meet and I would settle any thing on righteous principles. [several lines left blank]

Report was circulated in the evening that Foster said I would receive him on any terms and give him a hat full of dollars into the bargain.
1st number of Nauvoo Expositor published to day, ed[ited] by Sylvester Emmons. (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 488)

Yet at the City Council Meeting on June 8, 1844 Smith claimed that,

…he had never made any proposals to [Robert D.] Foster to come Back. Foster proposed to come back[,] come to his home[,] and wanted a private interview[.] [The] Mayor told him he would have no private interview — [He] had some conversation with Foster in the hall, in [the] presence of several. Mayor [He] related to [the] Council [his] conversation with Dr. Foster and read a letter from Dr Foster — dated June 7th[,] and when he left my house he went to a ^s[hoe]^ shop on the hill — and said that Joseph [Smith] said if he would come back he would give him Laws place in the church & a [bag] full of specie— and then wrote the Letter just read. (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 7064-7070).

According to the Nauvoo Neighbor, June 19, 1844, the letter from Robert Foster of June 7, 1844, read:

To Gen[eral] J[oseph] Smith Sir, I have consulted my friends in relation to your proposals of settlement, and they as well as myself are of [the] opinion that your conduct and that of your unworthy, unprincipled, clan, is so base that it would be morally wrong & detract from the dignity of Gentlemen to hold any conference with you[.] [T]he repeated insults, and abuses, I as well as my friends have suffered from your unlawful course towards us demands honorable resentment, [and] we are resolved to make this [“honorable resentment”] our motto[.] [N]othing on our part has been done to provoke your anger but [we] have done all things as become men, [while] you have trampled upon everything we hold dear and sacred[.] [Y]ou have set all law at defiance and profaned the name of the most high to carry out your damnable purposes — and I have nothing more to fear from you than you have already threatened, & I as well as my friends will stay here & maintain and magnify the law as long as we stay — and we are resolved never to leave until we sell or exchange our property that we have here[.] [T]he proposals made by your agent D[i]mic[k] Huntington as well as the threats you sent to intimidate me, I disdain and despise[,] as I do their unhallowed author[.] [T]he right of my family and my friends demand at my hand a refusal of all your offers[.] [W]e are united in virtue and truth, and we set hell at defiance and [bid] all her agents adieu. R[obert] D. FOSTER Gen[eral] J[oseph] Smith (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 8476-8490).

On June 10, Smith told the City Council that,

Joseph H. Jackson has been proved a murderer before this Council and [the mayor] declared the paper a nuisance, a greater nuisance greater than a dead carcass. — They make [it] a criminality of for a man to have a wife on the earth while he has one in heaven — according to the keys of the holy priesthood, and [the mayor] read the statement of W[illia]m Law in the Expositor, where the truth of God was transformed into a lie. [He] read [the] statements of Austin Cowles — & said he had never had any private conversation with Austin Cowles on these subjects, that he preached on the stand from the bible showing the order in ancient days[,] having nothing to do with the present time. (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 7212-7220).

At the same meeting Hyrum Smith claimed that,

Jackson told him he me[a]nt to have [Hyrum’s] daughter. Jackson laid a plan with 4 or 5 persons to kidnap his daughter & threatened to shoot any man that should come near after he got her in the skiff[.] [He] was engaged in trying to make Bogus [currency][,] which was his principle business. — [Hyrum] referred to the revelation [he] read to the [Nauvoo Stake] High council— that it was in answer to a question concerning things which transpired in former days & had no reference to the present time— that W[illia]m Law[,] when sick[,] [confessed and] said ^he had been guilty of adultery &^ he was not fit to live or die, had sinned against his own soul &c. Who was Judge [Sylvester] Emmons[?] When he come here he had scarce 2 shirts — was dandled by the authorities of the city. — Now [he is] Editor of the [Nauvoo] Expositor — His right hand man [is] Francis Higby who confi[d]ed to him the speaker he had had the Pox— &c — Emmons had lifted his hand against the Municipality of God Almighty and the curse of God shall rest upon him. (Dinger, John S. (2013-11-26). (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 6990-7001).

Joseph and Hyrum were obviously lying when they claimed that the “revelation” on polygamy was “in answer to a question concerning things which transpired in former days & had no reference to the present time.” If they were lying about the polygamy revelation, what else were they not being truthful with? Yet these accusations took on a life of their own. Lucy Smith later wrote that,

“a man by the name of Joseph Jackson, who had been in the city several months, being desirous to marry Lovina Smith, Hyrum’s oldest daughter, asked her father if he was willing to receive [Joseph Jackson] as a son-in-law. Being answered in the negative, he went and requested Joseph [Smith] to use his influence in his favour. As Joseph [Smith] refused to do so, he next applied to Law, who was our secret enemy, for assistance in stealing Lovina from her father, and, from this time forth, [Joseph Jackson] continued seeking out our enemies, till he succeeded in getting a number to join him in a conspiracy to murder the whole Smith family” (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations [Liverpool: Orson Pratt, 1853], 275, as quoted in Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 8430-8437).

It was in this meeting that Joseph claimed that Jackson had been proved to be a murderer before the City Council, when there was no such proof. On the same day William Law wrote in his diary,

This morning Wilson Law, Dr. Foster, Chas. Ivins and myself went to Carthage. It was the day of the sale of lands for taxes, and we had an invitation by twenty five of the most respectable citizens in Carthage vicinity to go there and deliver a lecture or more on the subject of Nauvoo legislation, usurpation &c &c. We did so. In my address I strongly urged the policy and necessity of being patient, and allowing the law to have its course in all cases, to avoid anything like an outbreak; showed that mobs would only tend to create a false sympathy for those opposed to us. I told them that the law was entirely sufficient to reach each case and every man; that it only required the public to say that the law should be executed and it would be. I was told that our press would be destroyed, but I did not believe it. I could not even suspect men of being such fools, but to my utter astonishment tonight upon returning from Carthage to Nauvoo I found our press had actually been demolished by order the Marshal J.P. Green, by order of the Mayor (Jos. Smith) and the City Council. The Marshal had the office door broken open by sledges, the press & type carried out into the street and broken up, then piled the tables, desks, paper &c on top of the press and burned them with fire. The Marshal said his instructions were to burn the houses of the proprietors if they offered any resistance. Our absence on that occasion was perhaps for the best as it may have saved the sheding of blood. (William Law Diary, June 10, 1844, 9-10).

Edward Bonney, one of three non-members of the Council of Fifty (which included Uriah Brown and Marenus G. Eaton) wrote a book in 1855, titled, “The Banditti of the Prairies” in which he detailed the events that led up to the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith:

In the Spring of 1844, Wm. Law, a leading Mormon, openly charged the Prophet (Joseph Smith) with an attempt to seduce his wife. (This soon after became the spiritual wife doctrine, and was believed, and even preached to some extent by the leaders of the Mormon Church.) This charge was promptly denied by the Prophet, and Law was denounced in the most bitter terms for an alleged attempt to slander the Prophet — the holy head of the Church, and as a persecutor of the Saints. Summoned by the high tribunal of the Church Law appeared, refused to retract what he had said, and again avowed its truth, for which he was immediately cut off from the Church. Being a man of considerable influence, Law drew with him a few of the disaffected members of the Church, who were already tired of bowing in humble submission, and paying tribute to the Prophet Joseph, and being held the ready subjects of his will and pleasure.

Among these deserters were Wilso[n][,] Law, Frank [Francis] Higby [Higbee], [Robert D.]Foster, and others, who determined to put the world in possession of their grievances, by publishing a long train of corruption and crimes, countenanced and practiced by the Prophets and heads of the Church, in which they had long been accomplices or accessory. —In order more effectually to accomplish their designs and bring themselves into notice they at once set about establishing a principal office at Nauvoo, in direct opposition to the will and special edict of the Prophet.

In the month of May, [June] A. D. 1844, the new press was put in operation, and the prospectus and first number of a newspaper published under the title of the "Nauvoo Expositor." It contained a series of charges against Joseph Smith, and the leading men in the church, including bigamy, adultery, larceny, counterfeiting, &c. —

In reply to this, the '' Nauvoo Neighbor," a newspaper printed under the direction and control of the Prophet, charged the dissenters from the Mormon faith with the same crimes, and sustained many of the charges by the publication of numerous affidavits, made, without doubt, by the Prophet's standing witnesses. Each appeared determined to out-do the other in the promulgation of slander and abuse, with which, according to their own stories, each had long possessed a knowledge of. If either were guilty of half they were accused of, the gallows had long been defrauded of its just dues, and earth was teeming with the base, the vile, and the bloodstained.

But while the surrounding Country was suffering by and remonstrating against the perpetration of these crimes, and charging them justly upon the Mormons, they with one united voice echoed the cry of "Persecution for Righteousness' sake." Then was it that the old adage was fully proved, that when "rogues fall out honest men get their dues." Upon the issue of the first number of the "Expositor," the Prophet and his adherents determined to at once silence them by the destruction of the press, and the total annihilation of the office.

The subject was brought before the City Council, and many inflamatory speeches were made, in most of which the members of the said Council participated. Smith, the Prophet, told them "that the time had come to strike the blow! That God no longer required them to submit to the oppression of their enemies, and that he should vote for the destruction of the press; that it was a nuisance, and he should order it destroyed as such!"

Hiram Smith spoke in substance the same as his brother, and also denounced in unmeasured terms. Sharp, [was] the editor of the Warsaw Signal. He [Hyrum] said "he would give any man five hundred dollars who would go into the Signal office with a sledge and demolish the press. That it should be done at all hazards, even if it took his farm to pay for it!"

Upon calling for the vote, eleven voted for, and one against, declaring the Expositor a nuisance, and immediate measures were taken for carrying the ordinance for its destruction into effect. —

This dissenting vote was a Mr. [Benjamin] Warring[ton], and the only anti-[non] Mormon in the Council, and little was he regarded by the hot headed ones who were bent on destruction.

The City Marshall, acting under the orders of the Council, raised a force of several hundred men, headed by Gen. [Jonathan] Dunham of the Nauvoo legion, armed with clubs, &c., and proceeded to the printing office. Meeting with no resistance, they entered the office, look the blank paper and other materials and burned them in the streets, pied the type, and taking the press into the street, broke it into pieces with hammers.

This done, they repaired to the house of the Prophet who addressed them in terms of praise, applauding them for their, services, and telling them that they had but done their duty and upheld the law. In return he was loudly cheered by the mob, after which they quietly and immediately dispersed. Some of the leaders, however, remained and congratulated each other upon their success, and the downfall of the power of their enemies. Foremost among them was the Marshall, who thus addressed the Prophet:

"General, this is the happiest hour of my life!" 'Thank you, my good fellow,'' was the reply," you have done well, done your duty, and shall be rewarded for it."

This outrage upon the public press helped to fan the flame already kindled against the Mormon outlaws, by their repeated depredations upon the citizens of the surrounding country, and plainly foreshadowed the storm that was to burst with startling fury.

The dissenting Mormons at once united with those opposed to that sect, and various meetings were called, and all parties urged to arm and prepare themselves to resist any further aggression; to be ready at all hazards to protect themselves and meet the worst.

Warrants were issued against the Smiths, and other leaders, in the destruction of the printing office of the Expositor, and though served by the proper officers, they refused to obey the mandates of the law, and laughed at its power!

As in all former cases, the writ of Habeas Corpus was resorted to, and all the arrested at once set at liberty and discharged from arrest; the same persons that were arrested acting as officers of the Courts that discharged them! Thus effectually defeating the ends of justice, and compelling the officer to return to Carthage without a single prisoner!

This mock administration of law, added new fuel to the flame. The public being convinced that Nauvoo was the headquarters of nearly all the marauders who were preying upon the surrounding community, together with the full belief that the Mormon leaders were privy to their depredations, and the resistance and defeat of justice, now became enraged, and determined to rise in their might and enforce the law, even though it should be at the point of the bayonet or sabre. Determined to rid themselves of the harpies that were gnawing at their very vitals, and if need be, rid themselves of the whole Mormon population. Thoroughly aroused and conscious not only of their power but also the justice of their cause, they fearlessly avowed their purposes, and though still defying, the most secret recesses of Mormondom trembled in view of the bursting of the tempest they had raised, but could not avert. (Edward Bonney, The Banditti of the Prairies: Or, The Murderer’s Doom, A Tale of The Mississippi Valley: An Authentic Narrative of Thrilling Adventures In The Early Settlement Of the Western Country”, 1855, Philadelphia, T.B. Peterson and Brothers, 19-21).

Edward Bonney was close to Joseph Smith and helped him with his legal troubles. Bonney spent a lot of time with the Mormon “prophet”. In Joseph’s diary he is mentioned multiple times, and was included in many decisions that Joseph made. For example, on May 25, Joseph’s Diary reports that,

2 P.[M.] Joseph Jackson come in town/as I heard/. I instructed the officers to have him arrested for threatening life &c. Had a long talk with Hunter Marks, Babbit, Hyrum, [Edward] Bonney, Dr. Richards, Roundy &c. and concluded not to keep out of their way any longer.

Bonney accompanied Joseph to Carthage to answer charges on May 27th. On June 11, Joseph wrote,

“Dr. Richards come to me at my home as I was talking with Hyrum, Eaton, [Edward] Bonny &c.”

When Joseph was brought up on riot charges for the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, he held court in Nauvoo with Daniel H. Wells presiding. He appointed Edward Bonney to prosecute him.

Defendants were brought before the court by Joel S. Miles, constable of the county aforesaid, by virtue of a warrant issued by the court on complaint of W. G. Ware, for a "riot committed in the city of Nauvoo, county aforesaid, on or before the 10th day of June, 1844, by forcibly entering a brick building in said city, occupied as a printing office and taking therefrom by force, and with force of arms, a printing-press, types and paper, together with other property, belonging to William Law, Wilson Law, Robert D. Foster, Charles A. Foster, Francis M. Higbee, Chauncey L. Higbee and Charles Ivins, and breaking in pieces and burning the same in the streets.

George P. Stiles, Esq., appeared as counsel for the defense, and Edward Bonny, Esq., for the prosecution. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, 488)

The reason for this is obvious and Smith was let go. It is not clear what happened to Bonney immediately after the death of the Smiths. The last entry about him in the History of the Church claims that as Joseph was leaving Nauvoo for Carthage on the 24th of June:

When they [Joseph and Company] arrived at the top of the hill, [overlooking the City] Joseph sent Rockwell with a horse for Dr. Southwick, a Southern gentleman who had been staying some days at the Mansion, and who wished General Joseph Smith to buy considerable property in Texas; but Ed. Bonny took possession of the horse, so that Dr. Southwick could not then go.

After Smith’s death Edward Bonney moved to Lee County, Iowa and ran a livery stable after which he worked as a Private Detective and helped Law Officers hunt down criminals. On one of his many cases, he volunteered to infiltrate a gang of counterfeiters who had been involved in the murder of George Davenport, a wealthy trader. Years later Bonney would write of his experiences in “The Banditti of the Prairies” and gain much notoriety as a result. The book is considered to be extremely accurate when it is compared to the court records of the cases that Bonney worked on. Brigham Young dropped Bonney from the Council of 50 after Smith’s death and they then began to vilify him. William Clayton wrote in 1847:

June 30, 1847…Elder Samuel Brannan arrived, having come from the Pacific to meet us, obtain council &c. He is accompanied by "Smith" of the firm of [Joseph H.]Jackson, [Mareneus G.] Heaton[Eaton] & [Edward] Bonney, bogus makers of Nauvoo. (George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, 354).

On the 11th of June 1844 Joseph Smith told the City Council that,

All the sorrow I he had ever had in his family, has arisen through the influence of W[illia]m Law.

Really? Was it William Law who went behind his wife's back and took dozens of Spiritual Wives? He then claimed that,

…at the time Gov[ernor] [Thomas] Carlin was pursuing him with his writs — W[illia]m Law come to my house with a band of Missourians for the purpose of betraying me — come to my gate — and was prevented with by Daniel Cairns [Carn] who was set to watch[.] [They] had come within his gate, and [Carn] called [the] Mayor after and the Mayor reproved Law for coming at that time of night. Daniel Cairns [Carn] [was] sworn [and] said — about 10 Oc[loc]k at night — a boat come up the river with about a Doz[en] men. W[illia]m Law come to the gate with them when [he] was on guard — and [he] stopped them. Law called Joseph to the door, and wanted an interview. Joseph said Bro[ther] Law you know better than to come here at this hour of the night — & Law returned. [The] next morning Law wrote a letter to apologize — which [Cairns] [Carn] [had] heard read — which was written apparently to screen himself [Law] from the censure of a conspiracy, and the Letter betrayed a conspiracy on the face of [it] — (Dinger, John S., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 7098-7111).

Joseph produced no letter by William Law, only Carn the Danites testimony. Yet in 1842 Joseph wrote this about William and Wilson Law in the Book of the Law of the Lord,

My heart was overjoyed, as I took the faithful band by the hand, that stood upon the shore one by me. W[illia]m. Law, W[illia]m. Clayton, Dimick B. Huntington, George Miller were there. The above names constituted the little group. I do not think to mention the particulars of the history of that sacred night which shall forever be remembered by me. But the names of the faithful are what I wish to record in this place. These I have met in prosperity and they were my friends, I now meet them in adversity, and they are still my warmer friends. These love the God that I serve; they love the truths that I promulge; they love those virtuous, and those holy doctrines that I cherish in my bosom with the warmest of feelings of my heart; and with that zeal which cannot be denied. I love friendship and truth; I love virtue and Law; I love the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob and they are my brethren, and I shall live, and because I live, they shall live also. These are not the only ones, who have administered to my necessity; whom the Lord will bless. There is brother John D. Parker, and brother Amasa Lyman, and brother Wilson Law, and brother Henry G. Sherwood, my heart feels to recoprocate the unweried kindnesses that have been bestowed upon me by these men. They are men of noble stature, of noble hands, and of noble deeds; possessing noble and daring, and giant hearts and souls. There is brother Joseph B. Nobles also, I would call up in remembrance before the Lord. There is brother Samuel Smith, a natural brohter; he is, even as Hyrum. There is brother Arthur Millikin also, who married my youngest sister Lucy. He is a faithful, an honest, and an upright man. While I call up in remembrance before the Lord these men, I would be doing injustice to those who rowed me in the skiff up the river that night, after I parted with the lovely group, who brought me to this my safe and lovely and private retreat. Brother Jonathan Dunham and the other whose name I do not know. Many were the thoughts that swelled my aching heart, while they were toiling faithfully with their oars. They complained not at hardship and fatigue to secure my safety. My heart would have been harder than an admantium stone, if I had not have prayed for them with anxious and fervent desire. I did so, and the still small voice whispered to my soul, these that share your toils with such faithful hearts, shall reign with you in the kingdom of their God; but I parted with them in silence and come to my retreat. I hope I shall see them again that I may toil for them and administer to their comfort also. They shall not want a friend while I live. My heart shall love those; and my hands shall toil for those, who live and toil for me, and shall ever be found faithful to my friends. Shall I be ungrateful? Verily no! God forbid! The above are the words and sentiments, that escaped the lips of President Joseph Smith on this the 11th day of August A.D. 1842 in relation to his friends and has now quit speaking fo the moment but will continue the subject again. William Clayton, clerk. (Joseph Smith, The Book of the Law of the Lord, August 11, 1842, 164-165).

It would be incredible that William Law, who fought for Joseph during the attempted extradition of 1842 (See other entries in the Book of the Law of the Lord) would have been secretly in cahoots with the Missourians. And who does Joseph use to back up this accusation? Daniel Carn, the same man who publicly accused Law and Marks of being “traitors” and that they should be killed. Carn was a Danite and likely one of the “prophets” standing witnesses who Edward Bonney claimed would testify to anything to protect Smith. D. Michael Quinn writes,

In December 1843, Joseph Smith organized the "Police Force of Nauvoo," with Jonathan Dunham and Hosea Stout (former Danites) as captain and vice-captain. Among the forty police were such other Danites from Missouri as Charles C. Rich, John D. Lee, Daniel Carn, James Emmett, Stephen H. Goddard, Abraham C. Hodge, John L. Buffer, Levi W. Hancock, Abraham O. Smoot, Dwight Harding, and William H. Edwards. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, 117).

Goddard was one of Smith’s witnesses against Sarah Pratt and her supposed affair with John C. Bennett. See the pattern here?

On the 13th of June, Smith related this dream which he claimed to have had,

In the evening I attended meeting in the Seventies' Hall. George J. Adams preached and I made some observations afterwards, and related a dream which I had a short time since. I thought I was riding out in my carriage, and my guardian angel was along with me. We went past the Temple, and had not gone much further before we espied two large snakes so fast locked together that neither of them had any power. I inquired of my guide what I was to understand by that. He answered, "Those snakes represent Dr. Foster and Chauncey L. Higbee. They are your enemies and desire to destroy you; but you see they are so fast locked together that they have no power of themselves to hurt you. I then thought 1 was riding up Mulholland street, but my guardian angel was not along with me. On arriving at the prairie, I was overtaken and siezed by William and Wilson Law and others, saying, "Ah! ah! we have got you at last! We will secure you and put you in a safe place!" and, without any ceremony dragged me out of my carriage, tied my hands behind me, and threw me into a deep, dry pit, where I remained in a perfectly helpless condition, and they went away. While struggling to get out, I heard Wilson Law screaming for help hard by. I managed to unloose myself so as to make a spring, when I caught hold of some grass which grew at the edge of the pit.
I looked out of the pit and saw Wilson Law at a little distances attacked by ferocious wild beasts, and heard him cry out, "Oh! Brother Joseph, come and save me!" I replied, "I cannot, for you have put me into this deep pit." On looking out another way, I saw William Law with outstretched tongue, blue in the face, and the green poison forced out of his mouth, caused by the coiling of a large snake around his body. It had also grabbed him by the arm, a little above the elbow, ready to devour him. He cried out in the intensity of his agony, "Oh, Brother Joseph, Brother Joseph, come and save me, or I die!" I also replied to him, "I cannot, William; I would willingly, but you have tied me and put me in this pit, and I am powerless to help you or liberate myself." In a short time after my guide came and said aloud, "Joseph, Joseph. what are you doing there?" I replied, "My enemies fell upon me, bound me and threw me in." He then took me by the hand, drew me out of the pit, set me free, and we went away rejoicing. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, 462).

This appears to be an elaboration of a dream that Smith recorded in his diary from January 5, in which Smith recorded that he, “ Dreamed about 2 serpents swallowing each tail foremost.” [several lines left blank] (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 438).

Unfortunately it was Smith who threw himself into the deep pit and could not get out, not William and Wilson Law who he had cut off and alienated.

William Law was not in Carthage when Joseph Smith was murdered. His diary records what transpired on the last days of Joseph’s life:

25th [June 1844]. I leave Burlington in company with Robert Hicks for Carthage; take a boat at Madison and from there by land, arrive at Carthage the same day and find a large army and the Governor, as Commander in chief, at their head. The Smith[s] and others, finding the Governor and a heavy force was after them, gave themselves up and were on trial before Esq. Smith of Carthage, on the charge of riot; a bill being found, they gave bail and the Smiths were then arrested on the charge of Treason, and sent to jail, to be tried tomorrow.

26th [June 1844]. The Smiths are brought to the Court House, for examination, but plead a continuance for two days, which being granted (to obtain witnesses) they are remanded to jail.

27 [June 1844]. This morning 8 o'clock Gov. Ford disbands all of the troops but two companies, one to go as an escort with him to Nauvoo, and the other to guard the jail (8 men at a time) . Immediately after breakfast Wilson Law, R.D. Foster and myself leave Carthage for Burlington, and arrive at Appanose about noon, take dinner and conclude to leave our horses there, and go to Burlington on a steamboat, as we would need our horses again on Sunday to carry us to Carthage to the trial, as we were call'd on as witnesses. About two o'clock we crossed over the river to Ft. Madison, as we had some business there and the boats generally land at that place; we remained there all the afternoon and night, no boat having come up. In the morning by daylight we heard the news of the death of the Smiths. We could hardly believe it possible, and the manner of it was the most astonishing part of all, but it was true; the judgment of an offended God had fallen upon them. During the latter part of their lives they knew no mercy, and in their last moments they found none. Thus the wicked may prosper for a time, but the hour of retribution is sure to overtake them.

We get our horses over the river and return home to Burlington by 1 land this morning. being the 28th of June 1844 . One of Joe Smith's weakest points was his jealousy of other men. He could not bear to hear other men spoken well of. If there was any praise it must be of him; all adoration & worship must be for him. He would destroy his best friend rather than see him become popular in the eyes of the Church or the people at large. His vanity knew no bounds. He was unscrupulous; no man's life was safe if he was disposed to hate him. He set the laws of God and men at defiance. He was naturally base, brutish and corrupt and cruel. He was one of the false prophets spoken by Christ who would come in sheep's clothing but inwardly be a ravening wolf . His works proved it. One great aim seemed to be to demoralize the world, to give it over to Satan, his master; but God stopped him in his made career & gave him to his destroyers. He claimed to be a god, whereas he was only a servant of the Devil, and as such met his fate. His wife was about as corrupt as he was. (William Law Diary, 12-14).

Thus we see the epic struggle that took place between Law and Smith and we all know how it turned out. Was William Law some kind of murderous villain? Mormon Apologists like Brian Hales would have us think so. But he was not. He acted honorably, and stuck to his convictions. Joseph continually lied and manipulated people and took advantage of his position of power. I hope that all who read this will do their own investigation of he facts and scour the evidence and come to their own conclusions.

I, for one, see William Law as a voice of reason and unlike Smith was not guilty of anything he was accused of, except for opposing Josephs radical theological doctrines. Joseph was drunk with power, but still could not control nor hinder Law in his mission to expose Smith before the world. Smith would over reach, and take the steps that led him to Carthage where he met his fate.
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Re: William Law VS Joseph Smith

Post by _Runtu »

Fascinating stuff! Thanks for posting that. It's kind of ironic that, the more desperate Joseph became, the more risks he took. With predictable results, I might add. Again, I am not saying "he got what he deserved" or in any way justifying his murder, but you can see through the last months of his life how he continued to escalate things rather than defuse them.
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Re: William Law VS Joseph Smith

Post by _grindael »

It's kind of hard to know if he was manipulating events, or being swept up by them. I think it was a little of both. You have Hyrum warning him to just shut up, that what he was saying about some could be actionable in court. You simply can't go around accusing people of murder without any proof to back it up. Smith had none. He was being hedged in on all sides, Emma, Law, Marks and I think that Jackson's defection to the dissenters really shook him. Jackson was quite the character. After he left Nauvoo he went down to Mississippi where he might have been from, and joined the "B" Company of Mississippi Rifles under Captain Douglas Cooper. He fought in the Battle of Monetery in the Mexican War and was seriously wounded. About that battle, it is said,

The Mexicans surprised Taylor and put up a strong defense at Monterrey, but it was taken on September 25, 1846. Brigadier General Quitman, Colonel Davis, and the Mississippi Rifles were all in the thick of the fight. Several soldiers were killed. In fact, of the 119 volunteer units of the Mexican War, the Mississippi Rifles lost 59 men in combat, the largest number in any unit. Another 123 Mississippians died in accidents or from disease.

Wilford Woodruff has an entry in his diary about Jackson which reads,

We Also learned that many who had been enemies to the church were dead. Jackson who had A hand in the death of the Prophet died in Mexico with the black vomit. Mr Eagle is also dead. We were informed that Gen Harding, Maj Warren & capt Morgan with Half of the Quincy grays were killed in the Mexican war. O Pratt & myself spent the night at Br Guymans. Wilford Woodruff's Journal, Vol. 3, p. 294, Dec. 3, 1847

Jackson was "dangerously wounded" in the Battle of Monterey, and so he might have died of sickness brought on by his wounds. The "black vomit", was yellow fever, and according to one Encyclopedia,

Although 13,000 U.S. soldiers died during the course of the Mexican War, only about 1,700 were killed in combat. Ninety percent died of disease, such as yellow fever. Mexican casualties are estimated at 25,000.


Yellow fever begins after an incubation period of three to six days.[12] Most cases only cause a mild infection with fever, headache, chills, back pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle pain, nausea, and vomiting.[13] In these cases, the infection lasts only three to four days. In 15% of cases, however, people enter a second, toxic phase of the disease with recurring fever, this time accompanied by jaundice due to liver damage, as well as abdominal pain.[14] Bleeding in the mouth, the eyes, and the gastrointestinal tract cause vomit containing blood, hence the Spanish name for yellow fever, vómito negro ("black vomit").

This hardly paints Jackson as some kind of scoundrel, but as a Patriot who fought and likely died, for his country. (Props to Joseph Johnstun for the original research on Jackson in Mexico).
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Re: William Law VS Joseph Smith

Post by _moksha »

If there was any praise it must be of him; all adoration & worship must be for him.

Had to re-examine the title to make sure William Law was not making a prophetic reference to Donald Trump.
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Re: William Law VS Joseph Smith

Post by _deacon blues »

Wow Grindael, you really put some research into this. It was long, but definitely worth reading, if only only for the comparison of Joseph's quotes about Danites. Joseph was plainly untrustworthy. And after realizing how John Taylor lied about Danites, I don't trust him either.
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Re: William Law VS Joseph Smith

Post by _Runtu »

moksha wrote:Had to re-examine the title to make sure William Law was not making a prophetic reference to Donald Trump.

I've had the same thought sometimes. Very similar personality types: tendency for unwarranted self-aggrandizement, intolerance of any dissent or questioning, one-way loyalty, intense jealousy of anyone else getting more attention, and so on. One chose business and politics, and the other religion.
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Re: William Law VS Joseph Smith

Post by _markgrammer »

I registered yesterday solely to thank grindael for his loooong posts that frequently come up in my Google searches to better understand the people and events of pre-martyrdom Nauvoo. Thanks grindael! Your work is much appreciated!

Stuff I'm trying to figure out:

*What the hell happened? :)
*How many reputations did Joseph blast over polygamy? (Nancy Rigdon, Martha Brotherton, Sarah Pratt, John C Bennett, William Law, ???)
*How many flat-out lies did Joseph tell over polygamy (vs carefully worded denials)?
*How much of John C. Bennett's "History of the Saints" is wrong? Just how big a scoundrel was he?
*Character of other expose-writers (William Law, Martha Brotherton, Joseph Jackson, Thomas Sharp, Sarah Pratt, William Wymetal, etc.)
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Re: William Law VS Joseph Smith

Post by _Fence Sitter »

Welcome Markgrammer,

If you are interested in reading more about John C Bennett there is a decent biography of him out there by a non LDS source called

The Saintly Scoundrel

Only about $7.00 plus shipping from Amazon.

I think the way you measure the character of the people who either fell away from Joseph Smith or were driven away by him, is to see how they lived their lives after Mormonism. Bennett continued to be part scoundrel part entrepreneur, all self promoter after he left Mormonism. He led an very interesting life.
"Any over-ritualized religion since the dawn of time can make its priests say yes, we know, it is rotten, and hard luck, but just do as we say, keep at the ritual, stick it out, give us your money and you'll end up with the angels in heaven for evermore."
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Re: William Law VS Joseph Smith

Post by _Doctor CamNC4Me »

I just finished reading the entire opening post. So, thanks to MarkG for bumping it. I swear. Everytime I read a lenghty post about Joseph Smith and those surrounding him I feel like I just watched an episode of Real Housewives of Orange County. The drama, backstabbing, betrayal, and victim complexes are off the charts. Lol. If this is what the Restoration looked like it would be like God had picked The Jersey Shore crew as His chosen people solely because He likes a good challenge.

- Doc
In the face of madness, rationality has no power - Xiao Wang, US historiographer, 2287 AD.

Every record...falsified, every book rewritten...every statue...has been renamed or torn down, every date...altered...the process is continuing...minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Ideology is always right.
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Re: William Law VS Joseph Smith

Post by _Goldenbrass »

Markgrammer thank you for bumping this and Grindael thank you for doing all of this research and writing this out. William Law is the closest that Mormonism has had to a true reformer, he saw corruption and made a stand and for that he paid a large price.

Joseph Smith's pattern of abuse, love bombing, narcissistic need to be the center of attention, megalomaniac run for President and his in/out group claims about the "Missourans" to create cohesion and quiet dissent are classic cult behavior. It's fascinating that Emma was so instrumental in using Joseph's public denials from "the stand" to make his life so difficult in those final years. Emma was obviously complicit but even she had a limit to what she was willing to put up with. Joseph's attempt to use the Relief Society as a group of "standing witnesses" to shield his abuse set the series of events into motion that contributed to his untimely demise.

Incredible research and it really pulls together all of the strands that contributed to the situation that existed when Joseph Smith made his decision to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor. Something tells me I'm going to be reading all of your posts that you've made in this forum. Do you have any that you would recommend I read first?
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