Account of Meeting, [, Hancock Co., IL], 3 July 1841. Featured version copied [ca. 1844–1845] in Hosea Stout, History of the Nauvoo Legion, Draft 1, p. 5; handwriting of ; one page; Nauvoo Legion Records, CHL.
Single leaf measuring 9¾ × 7⅞ inches (25 × 20 cm), ruled with twenty-eight blue lines. The account of the meeting was recorded on the recto only and appears between other entries of ’s manuscript history of the .
The account was copied and collected with ’s history of the Nauvoo Legion between 1843 and 1845. Early Church Historian’s Office inventories include Stout’s Nauvoo Legion record, indicating that it has likely remained in institutional custody since its creation.
“Historian’s Office Inventory G. S. L. City March 19. 1858,” ; “Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.
Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL. CR 100 130.
On 3 July 1841, JS required the to assemble for inspection as part of the ’s Independence Day celebrations and expressed his patriotism in a speech to the legion. Though Independence Day was officially observed on 4 July, in 1841 the fourth fell on a Sunday, so Nauvoo, Illinois, celebrated the holiday on Saturday, 3 July. Another celebration was held by the Saints across the in on Monday, 5 July.
The Independence Day celebration of 3 July was apparently well advertised, as many visitors came to to witness the event. According to one Nauvoo resident, “On the 1 & 2 Numbrs of Strangers from a distance came into the City some on Horse back others in large Waggons drawn by Oxen others in very fine teems early on the 4th all was live the legion mostly dressd & equibt in full Uniform met at the place of Rendevouz about 3 o cl[ock] the Artelrie [artillery] anouncet the Arrivel of the Leutnant General on the whole it was a grand Muster.” After reviewing the troops, JS delivered a patriotic speech expressing his devotion to the nation and his willingness to die in its defense.
This public review of the Nauvoo Legion may have been designed to serve two purposes: to counter accusations of Latter-day Saint disloyalty to the nation and to demonstrate that was well prepared to defend itself. One month earlier, on 5 June 1841, JS had been arrested on his way home from , Illinois, on a warrant issued by Governor at the request of the state of . In the subsequent court hearing, held 9–10 June, the case was dismissed on a technicality. However, the arrest caught the attention of newspapers in , and reports were reprinted in newspapers in other states. Some papers, like the New York Herald, anticipated that conflict would arise between those attempting to capture and arrest JS and those determined to protect him. The Herald concluded that “according to all appearances a civil war will soon break out in Illinois.” Noting that the Saints were armed, the paper speculated that it was “highly probable that the next accounts will bring us descriptions of the scenes and deeds of blood.”
These apprehensions notwithstanding, the account of the Independence Day proceedings published in the Times and Seasons stated that “good feeling; unanimity, and pleasure was manifested by all parties,” also noting that the Nauvoo Legion “appeared in its glory and presented a beautiful appearance, and will soon compare with the best military organization in the .” The Times and Seasons made particular note of the “several distinguished citizens from different parts of the ” who attended the celebration and “expressed their great pleasure at the proceedings.”
While preparing his manuscript history of the Nauvoo Legion, sometime between 1843 and 1845, copied the account of this meeting, likely from a source that is no longer extant. The loose manuscript was placed in chronological order among copies of minutes from various Nauvoo Legion proceedings. A second copy of this featured account was also made and included in Stout’s history of the Nauvoo Legion.
“Celebration of Independence,” Times and Seasons, 15 July 1841, 2:479. Both the Times and Seasons and the Warsaw Signal, a paper critical of the Latter-day Saints, also noted there were many women present at the celebration. (See “Great Parade at Nauvoo,” Warsaw [IL] Signal, 7 July 1841, .)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
On the the 3rd day of July 1841 the was called out to celebrate our National Independance <the 4th being Sunday>, and was reviewed by Lieutenant-General Joseph Smith. Who made an Eloquent and patriotic Speech to the troops and strongly testified of his regard for our national welfare and his willingness to lay down his life for his in defence of his if need be and closed with these <remarkable> words emphatically spoken. “I would ask no greater boon than to lay down my life for my country.” [p. 5]
Despite the Latter-day Saints’ grievances over their treatment in the United States and the failure of the federal government to intervene, JS still considered himself a devoted, patriotic American. In a letter JS wrote a year later to James Arlington Bennet, he asserted he was a “patriot and lover of [his] country, pleading at their feet for protection and deliverance, by the justice of their Constitutions.” (JS, Journal, 8 Sept. 1842.)
The Warsaw Signal, a newspaper that advanced Whig politics and perceived the Saints as favoring the Democratic party, used a caustic tone in covering the celebration, but its account of the proceedings may shed some further light on what JS said in his address: “[the] Mormon orator held forth—to enumerate particulars would be tedious. He however appeared to be a democratic republican of the first water—said that in a Republican Government the people must at all events be obeyed by their representatives.— President Tyler was just the man for him.— Did’nt believe that there were any brave men, and told the troops that they need’nt be brave, but just obey orders, lift their guns and crack away &c. &c.” (“Great Parade at Nauvoo,” Warsaw [IL] Signal, 7 July 1841, .)