On 29 August 1842, at a special of in , Illinois, JS spoke about outwitting his enemies. These enemies included the legal officials who were attempting to arrest and extradite him to , as well as and individuals JS associated with him, including , , and . Bennett had accused JS of engaging in illicit sexual relations, alleged that JS had sent to assassinate former Missouri governor , and vowed to help extradite JS from to Missouri. Bennett’s claims might have contributed to JS’s arrest on 8 August; although JS was released on a jurisdictional question, he then went into hiding to avoid extradition. Bennett had also created problems in the eastern . On 8 August, had written JS from , urging JS and other leaders to “put down the slanders of Bennett.”
While JS was in hiding, the held a four-day meeting with in an attempt to resolve differences between him and JS. The apostles strove “to get him to recall his sayings against Joseph . . . but he persisted.” On 20 August, the council “cut off” Pratt from the church. However, JS’s journal suggests that a day later Pratt “signified his intention of coming out in defence of the truth and go to preaching.” JS returned to his home in , at the request of his wife , on 23 August. Three days later, he convened a meeting with members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and discussed plans to hold a conference and send the available elders on missions to foil ’s efforts.
The special conference occurred on 29 August. At ten o’clock that morning, “the Elders assembled in the near the ,” and called on “every Elder who can” to go east in order to counteract ’s “false statements,” preach the gospel, and obtain funds for the temple. JS then spoke, rehearsing the trouble the Saints had had with officials and describing his avoidance of extradition as another victory over them. He then instructed the elders to defend his character and expose the unjust and corrupt actions of and , and he warned , , and that their efforts to oppose him would fail. According to JS’s journal, “Orson Pratt set behind Joseph all the time he was speaking. He looked serious and dejected, but did not betray the least signs of compunction or repentance.” Writing a short time later, recorded that “about 400 Elders have since gone & many others are going.”
recorded an account of JS’s discourse into JS’s journal, which was being kept in the Book of the Law of the Lord, probably on or shortly after 29 August 1842. The entry in the journal appears to be a fair copy. Rather than carrying the large Book of the Law of the Lord with him to the , Clayton likely took notes of the discourse in a smaller notebook or on loose leaves and then used his notes to record an account of the discourse in JS’s journal.
JS, Journal, 26 Aug. 1842; John C. Bennett, Nauvoo, IL, 27 June 1842, Letter to the Editor, Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 8 July 1842, ; John C. Bennett, Carthage, IL, 2 July 1842, Letter to the Editor, Sangamo Journal, 15 July 1842, .
Woodruff, Journal, 10 Aug.–18 Sept. 1842. In the 1850s, Brigham Young wrote that JS, who was in hiding on 20 August, had been informed of Pratt’s intransigence and had instructed the council to “ordain Bro. Amasa Lyman in Bro. Orson’s stead.” In January 1843 JS determined that “as there was not a quorum” when Pratt had been disciplined, he “had not legally been cut off”; JS did, however, uphold Lyman’s ordination. Some sources use the term disfellowshipped in reference to Pratt’s removal, while others use the term excommunicated. Regardless, when Pratt returned to the church in 1843, he “recived the presthood & the same power & authority as in former days,” thus regaining his membership in the Quorum of the Twelve. (Historian’s Office, Brigham Young History Drafts, 64; Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Minutes, 20 Jan. 1843; JS, Journal, 20 Jan. 1843; Taylor, Succession in the Priesthood, 18–20; see also England, Life and Thought of Orson Pratt, 75–86.)
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Minutes, 1840–1844. CHL.
Taylor, John. Succession in the Priesthood: A Discourse by President John Taylor, Delivered at the Priesthood Meeting, Held in the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, Friday Evening, October 7th, 1881. [Salt Lake City?], [1881?].
England, Breck. The Life and Thought of Orson Pratt. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1985.
“He had told them formerly about fighting the Missourians, and about fighting alone. He had not fought them with the sword nor by carnal weapons; he had done it by stratagem or by outwitting them, and there had been no lives lost, and there would be no lives lost if they would hearken to his council. Up to this day God had given him wisdom to save the people who took council. None had ever been killed who abode by his council. At the brethren went contrary to his council, if they had not there lives would have been spared. He has been in all the while, and outwitted s associates and attended to his own business in the all the time. We want to whip the world mentally and they will whip themselves physically. The brethren cant have the tricks played upon them that were done at and , they have seen enough of the tricks of their enemies and know better”. has attempted to destroy himself,— caused all the almost to go in search of him. Is it not enough to put down all the infernal influence of the Devil what we have felt and seen, handled and evidenced of this work of God? But the Devil had influence among the Jews to cause the death of Jesus Christ by hanging between heaven and earth. and others of the same class caused trouble by telling stories to people who would betray me and ‘they must believe these stories because his told him so’! I will live to trample on their ashes with the soles of my feet. I prophecy in the name of Jesus Christ that such shall not prosper, they shall be cut down in their own plans. They would deliver me up Judas like, but a small band of us shall overcome. We dont want or mean to fight with the sword of the flesh but we will fight with the broad Sword of the spirit. Our enemies say our Charter and Writs of are worth nothing. We say they came from the highest authority in the , and we will hold to them. They cannot be disannulled or taken away.”
He then told the brethren what he was going to do, viz; to send all the away and when the mob came there would only be women and children to fight and they would be ashamed, He said
“I dont want you to fight but to go and gather [p. 183]
According to later accounts, during the conflict between Latter-day Saints and their neighbors in northern Missouri, John Killian, a Caldwell County militia officer, advised Jacob Hawn, who was not a member of the church, to lead the Saints located near his mill to safety in Far West, Missouri, and JS gave the same counsel. Hawn apparently failed to convey the message to the settlement of Saints. According to one account, he told church members living at Hawn’s Mill that JS had counseled them that if they thought they “could maintain the mill” and “thought not to come to Farewest,” they should not move, particularly since local Missouri residents “had agreed to be at pease.” Seventeen church members at Hawn’s Mill were killed in an attack in October 1838. (Daniel Tyler, “Recollections of the Prophet,” 94–95; Lewis, Autobiography, 11–12; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 16, ; Brigham Young, Discourse, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, 20 May 1866, in George D. Watt, Discourse Shorthand Notes, 20 May 1866, George D. Watt, Papers, CHL, as transcribed by LaJean Purcell Carruth; Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, 78–79.)
Tyler, Daniel. “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith.” Juvenile Instructor, 1 Feb. 1892, 93–95.
Tension between Orson Pratt and JS escalated in mid-July 1842 as Pratt struggled with allegations raised regarding his wife, Sarah Marinda Bates Pratt. Bennett alleged that JS had proposed marriage to Sarah Pratt, an allegation that Sarah apparently corroborated. In contrast, Jacob B. Backenstos and others alleged that Bennett had an affair with Sarah while Pratt was on a mission to England. Unable to reconcile these allegations, and with Bennett’s actions becoming more public, a distraught Orson Pratt left Nauvoo on 15 July but returned later that night. (See Account of Meeting, 15 July 1842; John C. Bennett, Carthage, IL, 2 July 1842, Letter to the Editor, Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 15 July 1842, ; Stephen H. Goddard, “Letter to Orson Pratt” and “Testimony of Mrs. Goddard,” in Affidavits and Certificates [Nauvoo, IL: 1842], copy at CHL; and Jacob B. Backenstos, Affidavit, Hancock Co., IL, 28 July 1842, JS Office Papers, CHL.)
Sangamo Journal. Springfield, IL. 1831–1847.
Affidavits and Certificates, Disproving the Statements and Affidavits Contained in John C. Bennett’s Letters. Nauvoo Aug. 31, 1842. [Nauvoo, IL: 1842]. Copy at CHL.
In a letter sent to Parley P. Pratt in mid-July, Brigham Young noted that Orson Pratt did “not know whether his wife is wrong, or whether Joseph’s testimony and others are wrong.” Young echoed this theme when Orson Pratt was reinstated into the Quorum of the Twelve in January 1843; he “said all he had against Orson was when he came home he loved his wife better than David.” Young here used the biblical David as a type for JS. Decades later, Sarah Pratt made several claims after she was disaffected from the church, some of them dubious, and again insisted that JS had proposed to her. (Brigham Young, Nauvoo, IL, to Parley P. Pratt, Liverpool, England, 17 July 1842, CHL; Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Minutes, 20 Jan. 1843; Von Wymetal, Joseph Smith the Prophet, 61–63.)
Young, Brigham. Letter, Nauvoo, IL, to Parley P. Pratt, Liverpool, England, 17 July 1842. CHL. MS 14291.
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Minutes, 1840–1844. CHL.
Von Wymetal, Wilhelm [W. Wyl, pseud.]. Joseph Smith the Prophet: His Family and His Friends; A Study Based on Facts and Documents. Salt Lake City: Tribune Printing and Publishing, 1886.
As Governor Thomas Ford later explained, the Nauvoocharter could in fact be repealed through legislative or judicial means. While efforts to repeal the charter failed during JS’s lifetime, it was finally repealed in January 1845. (Thomas Ford, Springfield, IL, to “the Citizens of Hancock County, Mormons and all,” 29 Jan. 1844, Warsaw [IL] Signal, 14 Feb. 1844, ; An Act to Repeal the Act Entitled “An Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo” [29 Jan. 1845], Laws of the State of Illinois [1844–1845], pp. 187–188.)
Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.
Incorporation Laws of the State of Illinois; Passed at a Session of the General Assembly, Begun and Held at Vandalia the 6th Day of December, 1836. Vandalia, IL; William Walters, 1837.