Trial Report, , Hancock Co., IL, [8–26 July 1843], Extradition of JS for Treason (Nauvoo, IL, Municipal Court 1843); “Municipal Court of the City of Nauvoo, Illinois” and “Trial of Joseph Smith,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 12 July 1843, –; 19 July 1843, ; 26 July 1843, –.
“Trial of Joseph Smith,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 26 July 1843, –.
TRIAL OF JOSEPH SMITH.
sworn. says that he concurs with the preceding witnesses and , in all the facts with which he is acquainted, that in the summer of 1838 he was elected Sheriff of the county of and State of . That in the fall of the same year while the was threatened and infested with mobs, he received an order from the presiding Judge of said , to call out the Militia and he executed the same. The said order was presented by Joseph Smith, Sen. who showed the a letter from giving such advice as was necessary for the protection of the citizens of said ; reports of the mobs destroying property were daily received. Has no knowledge that Joseph Smith was concerned in organizing or commanding said Militia in any capacity whatever. About this time he received information that about forty or fifty “Yauger [Jäger]-Rifles” and a quantity of amunition were being conveyed through to for the use of the mob: Upon which he deputized to go with a company of men and to intercept them if possible, he did so and brought the said arms and amunition into which were afterwards delivered up to the order of , judge of the fifth circuit in .
It was generally understood at that time that said arms had been stolen by , and his company of volunteers, who had been upon a six months tour of service in the war between the and the Florida Indians, they were supposed to have been taken from the Fort at “Tampa Bay, “and brought to Clay County and that Captain Pollard or some other person loaned them to the mob—He further says that whilst in office as sherriff he was forcibly and illegally compelled by Lieutenant Cook, the son in law or brother in law of , the Methodist Priest—to start for and when he demanded of him by what authority he acted he was shown a Bowie knife and a brace of Pistols—And when he asked what they wanted of him he said they would let him know when he got to . Many of the citizens of were taken in the same manner without any legal process whatever and thrust into prison.
sworn. Says that, so far as he was acquainted with the facts stated by the previous witnesses, he concurs with them, and that he accompanied Mr. Joseph Smith into the State of , and arrived at on the 14th day of March, 1838, and was neighbor to Mr. Smith until he was taken by ’ militia, a prisoner of war, as they said, and that he was knowing to his character whilst he was in the State of ; and that he, Mr. Smith, was in no way connected with the militia of that : neither did he bear arms at all, nor give advice, but was a peaceable, law-abiding, good citizen, and a true republican in every sense of the word. He was with Mr. Smith a great share of the time, until driven out of by an armed force, under the exterminating order of . He heard the most of Mr. Smiths’ public addresses, and never did he hear him give advice or encourage anything contrary to the laws of the State of ; but to the contrary, always instructing the people to be peaceable, quiet, and law-abiding, and if necessity should compel them to withstand their enemies, by whom they were daily threatened in mobs at various points, that they, the Mormons, should attend to their business strictly, and not regard reports; and if the mob did come upon them, to contend with them by the strong arm of the law; and if that should fail, our only relief would be self defence: and be sure and act only upon the defensive. And there were no operations against the mob by the militia of only by the advice of Generals , , and .
At the time that the army came in sight of , he observed their approach, and thought some of the militia of the had come to the relief of the citizens; but to his great surprise, he found that they were come to strengthen the hands of the mobs that were around us, and which immediately joined the army. A part of these mobs were painted like Indians, and “,” their leader, was also painted in a similar manner, and styled himself the “Delaware Chief,” and afterwards he, and the rest of the mob, claimed and obtained pay, as militia, from the , for all the time they were engaged as mob, as will be seen by reference to the acts of the Legislature. That there were Mormon citizens wounded and murdered by the army under the command of , and he verily believes that several women were ravished to death by the soldiery of and . He also stated that he saw Joseph Smith, , , , and , delivered up by to , but expected they would have returned to the that evening or the next morning, according to agreement, and the pledge of the sacred honor of the officers that they should be allowed to do so: but they did not return at all. The next morning, demanded and took away the arms of the Militia of , (which arms have never been returned,) assuring them that they should be protected; but so soon as they obtained possession of the arms, they commenced their ravages by plundering the citizens of their bedding, clothing, money, wearing apparel, and everything of value they could lay their hands upon; and also attempting to violate the chastity of the women in sight of their husbands and friends—under the pretence of hunting for prisoners and arms. The soldiers shot down our oxen, cows, hogs and fowls, at our own doors, taking part away, and leaving the rest to rot in the streets. The soldiers also turned their horses into our fields of corn.
Here the was shewn ’s speech, which is as follows, viz:
“Gentlemen,—You whose names are not attached to this list of names, will now have the privilege of going to your fields, and of providing corn, wood, &c., for your families. Those that are now taken will go from this to prison, be tried, and receive the due demerit of their crimes; but you, (except such as charges may hereafter be preferred against,) are at liberty as soon as the troops are removed that now guard the place, which I shall cause to be done immediately. It now devolves upon you to fulfil the treaty that you have entered into, the leading items of which I shall now lay before you. The first requires that your leading men be given up to be tried according to law; this you have complied with. The second is, that you deliver up your arms; this has also been attended to. The third stipulation is, that you sign over your properties to defray the expenses that have been incurred on your account; this you have also done. Another article yet remains for you to comply with,—and that is, that you leave the forth-with. And whatever may be your feelings concerning this, or whatever your innocence is, it is nothing to me. (whose military rank is equal with mine,) has made this treaty with you; I approve of it. I should have done the same had I been here, and am therefore determined to see it executed. The character of this has suffered almost beyond redemption, from the character, conduct and influence that you have exerted; and we deem it an act of justice to restore her character by every proper means.— The order of the to me was, that you should be exterminated, and not allowed to remain in the . And had not your leaders been given up, and the terms of the treaty complied with before this time, your families would have been destroyed, and your houses in ashes. There is a discretionary power vested in my hands, which, considering your circumstances, I shall exercise for a season. You are indebted to me for this clemency. I do not say that you shall go now, but you must not think of staying here another season, or of putting in crops; for the moment you do this the citizens will be upon you; and if I am called here again in case of non-compliance with the treaty made, do not think that I shall act as I have done now. You need not expect any mercy, but extermination, for I am determined the ’s order shall be executed. As for your leaders, do not think, do not imagine for a moment, do not let it enter into your minds that they will be delivered and restored to you again, for their fate is fixed, the die is cast, their doom is sealed. I am sorry, Gentlemen, to see so many apparently intelligent men found in the situation that you are; and Oh! if I co[uld in]voke that Great Spirit of the unknown [God to ]rest upon and deliver you from that awful chain of superstition, and liberate you from those fetters of fanaticism with which you are bound—that you no longer do homage to a man. I would advise you to scatter abroad, and never again organize yourselves with Bishops, Priests, &c., lest you excite the jealousies of the people and subject yourselves to the same calamities that have now come upon you. You have always been the aggressors—you have brought upon yourselves these difficulties, by being disaffected, and not being subject to rule. And my advice is, that you become as other citizens, lest by a recurrence of these events you bring upon yourselves irretrievable ruin.”
and was asked by the Court if it was correct? and after reading it, he replied—
Yes, as far as it goes—for, continued he, I was present when that speech was delivered, and when fifty-seven of our brethren were betrayed into the hands of our enemies as prisoners, which was done at the instigation of our open and avowed enemies: such as and others, and the treachery of . In addition to the speech referred to, said that, we must not be seen as many as five together. If you are, said he, the citizens will be upon you, and destroy you; but to flee immediately out of the . There was no alternative for them but to flee: that they need not expect any redress, for there was none for them. With respect to the treaty, the further says, that there never was any treaty proposed or entered into on the part of the Mormons, or even thought of. As to the leaders being given up, there was no such contract entered into or thought of by the Mormons, or any one called a Mormon, except by . And with respect to the trial of the prisoners at : I do not consider that tribunal a legal court, but an [i]nquisition—for the following reasons: That Mr. Smith was not allowed any evidence whatever on his part, for the conduct of the court, as well as the ’s own words affirmed, that there was no law for Mormons in the State of . And he also knew that when Mr. Smith left the State of , he did not flee from justice, for the plain reason that the officers and the people manifested by their works and their words, that there was no law, nor justice for the people called Mormons. And further he knows that Mr. Smith has ever been a strong advocate for the laws and constitutions of his country—and that there was no act of his life while in the State of , according to his knowledge, that could be implied or construed in any way whatever, to prove him a fujitive from justice; or that he has been guilty of “murder, treason, , , theft, and stealing,” the crimes he was charged with by , when he delivered him over to the civil authorities; and he supposes that the learned did not know but there was a difference between “larceny, theft and stealing.”
The also says that they compelled the brethren to give away their property by executing a Deed of Trust, at the point of the bayonet, and that Judge Cameron stood and saw the Mormons sign away their property, and then he and others would run and kick up their heels, and said they were glad of it, and “we have nothing to trouble us now.” This judge also said, God damn them, see how well they feel now. also said he had authority to make what treaties he pleased; and the would sanction it.
The also stated that he never transgressed any of the laws of ; and he never knew a Latter Day Saint break a law while there. He also said that if they would search the records of , , or counties, they could not find one record of crime against a Latter Day Saint, or even in , so far as knew.
sworn. Saith that he has been acquainted with Joseph Smith Senior for the last twelve years, and that he removed to the State of in the year 1831, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized, agreeably to the law of the land. No particular difficulty took place until after some hundreds had assembled in that land who believed in the Book of Mormon, and Revelations which were given through said Joseph Smith Senior. After nearly two years of peace had elapsed, a strong prejudice among the various sects arose, declaring that Joseph Smith was a false prophet, and ought to die: and I heard hundreds say they had never known the man, but if they could come across him, they would kill him as soon as they would a rattlesnake. Frequently heard them say of those who believed in the doctrine he promulgated, that if they did not renounce it, they would exterminate or drive them from the in which they lived. On enquiring of them if they had any prejudice against us, they said No, but Joe Smith ought to die, and if he ever comes to this country, we will kill him, God damn him.
Matters went on thus until some time in the summer of 1833, when mobs assemble in considerable bodies, frequently visiting private houses, threatening them with death and destruction instantly, if they did not renounce Joe Smith as a prophet, and the Book of Mormon. Some time towards the last of the summer of 1833, they commenced their operations of mobocracy. On account of their priests, by mating in their prejudices against Joseph Smith Senior, as I believe, gangs of from thirty to sixty, visiting the house of George Bebee, calling him out of his house at the hour of midnight, with many guns and pistols pointed at his breast, beating him most inhumanly with clubs and [whip]s; and the same night or night afterwards, this gang unroofed thirteen houses in what was called the Whitmer Branch of the Church in . These scenes of mobocracy continued to exist with unabated fury. Mobs went from house to house, thrusting poles and rails in at the windows and doors of the houses of the Saints, tearing down a number of houses, turning hogs, horses, &c., into cornfields, burning fences, &c. Some time in the month of October, they broke into the of S. Gilbert & Co., and I marched up with thirty or forty men to witness the scene and found a man by the name of , brickbatting the store door with all fury, the silks, calicoes, and other fine goods, entwined about his feet, reaching within the door of the store-house. was arrested and taken before , by seven testimonies, and then acquitted without delay. The next day the witnesses were taken before the same man for false imprisonment, and by the testimony of this one , were found guilty, and committed to jail. This so exasperated my feelings that I went with two hundred men to enquire into the affair, when I was promptly met by the of the militia, who stated to me that the whole had been a religious farce, and had grown out of a prejudice they had imbibed against said Joseph Smith, a man with whom they were not acquainted. I here agreed that the church would give up their arms, provided the said would take the arms from the mob. To this the cheerfully agreed, and pledged his honor with that of , Owen [Samuel C. Owens], and others. This treaty entered into, we returned home, resting assured on their honor, that we would not be farther molested. But this solemn contract was violated in every sense of the word. The arms of the mob were never taken away, and the majority of the militia, to my certain knowledge, were engaged the next day with the mob, ( and not excepted,) going from house to house in gangs of from sixty to seventy in number, threatening the lives of women and children, if they did not leave forthwith. In this diabolical scene, men were chased from their houses and homes, without any preparations for themselves or families. I was chased by one of these gangs across an open prairie five mile without being overtaken, and lay three weeks in the woods, and was three days and three nights without food. In the mean time, my wife and three small children, in a skiff passed down a distance of fourteen miles and crossed over the , and there borrowed a rag carpet of one of her friends and made a tent of the same, which was the only shield from the inclemency of the weather during the three weeks of my expulsion from home. Having found my family in this situation, and making some enquiry, I was informed I had been hunted through , and counties, and also the Indian territory. Having made the enquiry of my family, why it was they had so much against me, the answer was, “He believes in Joe Smith and the Book of Mormon, God damn him, and we believe Joe Smith to be a damned rascal!!” Here on the bank of the were eight families, exiled from plenteous homes, without one particle of provisions, or any other means under the heavens to get any only by hunting in the forest. I here built a camp twelve feet square, against a sycamore log, in which my wife bore me a fine son on the 27th of December. The camp having neither chimney nor floor, nor covering sufficient to shield them from the inclemency of the weather, rendered it intolerable. In this doleful condition, I left my family for the express purpose of making an appeal to the American people to know something of the toleration of such vile and inhuman conduct, and travelled one thousand and three hundred miles through the interior of the , and was frequently answered “That such conduct was not justifiable in a republican government; yet we feel to say that we fear that Joe Smith is a very bad man, and circumstances alter cases. We would not wish to prejudge a man, but in some circumstances, the voice of the people ought to rule.” The most of these expressions were from professors of religion; and in the aforesaid persecution, I saw one hundred and ninety women and children driven thirty miles across the prairie, with three decrepit men only in their company, in the month of Nov., the ground thinly crusted with sleet, and I could easily follow on their trail by the blood that flowed from their lacerated feet!! on the stubble of the burnt prairie. This company not knowing the situation of the country, nor the extent of , built quite a number of cabins, that proved to be in the borders of . The mob, infuriated at this, rushed on them in the month of January 1834, burned these scanty cabins, and scattered the inhabitants to the four winds, from which cause many were taken suddenly ill, and of this illness died. In the mean time, they burned two hundred and three houses and one grist mill, these being the only residences of the Saints in .
The most part of one thousand and two hundred Saints, who resided in , made their escape to . I would here remark that among one of the companies that went to , was a woman named Sarah Ann Higbee who had been sick of chills and fever for many months; and another of the name of Keziah Higbee, who was under the most delicate circumstances, lay on the bank of the , without shelter, during one of the most stormy nights I ever witnessed, while torrents of rain poured down during the whole night, and streams of the smallest minutia were magnified into rivers. The former was carried across the , apparently a lifeless corpse.— The latter was delivered of a fine son, on the bank, within twenty minutes after being carried across the , under the open canopy of heaven, and from which cause, I have every reason to believe, she died a premature death. The only consolation they received, under these circumstances, was “God damn you, do you believe in Joe Smith now?” During this whole time, the said Joseph Smith, Senior, lived in , in the town of , according to the best of my knowledge and belief, a distance of eleven hundred miles from , and thinks that the church had but little correspondence with him during that time. We now mostly found ourselves in —some in negro cabins—some in gentlemen’s kitchens—some in old cabins that had been out of use for years—and others in the open air, without anything to shelter them from the dreary storms of a cold and stormy winter.
Thus like men of servitude we went to work to obtain a scanty living among the inhabitants of . Every advantage which could be taken of a people under these circumstances was not neglected by the people of . A great degree of friendship prevailed between the Saints and this people under these circumstances for the space of two years; when the Saints commenced purchasing some small possessions for themselves; this together with the emigration created a jealousy on the part of the old citizens—that we were to be their servants no longer. This raised an apparent indignation and the first thing expressed in this excitement was: “you believe too much in Joe Smith,”—consequently they commenced catching the Saints in the streets, whipping some of them until their bowels gushed out, and leaving others for dead in the streets. This so exasperated the Saints that they mutually agreed with the citizens of that they would purchase an entire new north of and cornering on . There being not more than 40 or 50 inhabitants in this new , who frankly sold out their possessions to the Saints, who immediately set in to enter the entire from the General Government. The having been settled, the issued an order for the organization of the into a regiment of militia, and an election being called for a Colonel of said regiment—I was elected unanimously, receiving 236 votes, in August 1837. Then organized with subaltern officers according to the statutes of the , and received legal and lawful commissions from for the same.
I think, sometime in the latter part of the winter said Joseph Smith moved to the district of country the Saints had purchased, and he settled down like other citizens of a new county, and was appointed the first Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, holding no office in the either civil or military. I declare that I never knew said Joseph Smith to dictate by his influence or otherwise any of the officers either civil or military, he himself being exempt from military duty from the amputation from his leg of a part of the bone on account of a fever sore.
I removed from to , purchased a pre-emption right, for which I gave 750 dollars, gained another by the side thereof, put in a large crop and became acquainted with the citizens of , who appeared very friendly. In the month of June or July there was a town laid off, partly on my pre-emption, and partly on lands belonging to Government—the emigration commenced flowing to this newly laid off town very rapidly. This excited a prejudice in the minds of some of the old citizens who were an ignorant set, and not very far advanced before the aborigenees of the country in civilization or cultivated minds, fearing lest this rapid tide of emigration should deprive them of office of which they were dear lovers. This was more plainly exhibited at the Aug. election in the year 1838. The old settlers then swore that not one Mormon should vote at that election; accordingly they commenced operations by fist and skull; this terminated in the loss of some teeth, some flesh, and some blood. The combat being very strongly contested on both sides—many Mormons were deprived of their votes; and I was followed to the polls by three ruffians with stones in their hands, swearing they would kill me if I voted.
A false rumor was immediately sent to , such as two or three Mormons were killed and were not suffered to be buried. The next day a considerable number of the Saints came out to my house—said Joseph Smith came with them—he enquired of me concerning the difficulty—the answer was political difficulties—he then asked if there was any thing serious—the answer was, no, I think not—we then all mounted our horses and rode up into the Prairie a short distance from my house to a cool spring near the house of where the greater number stopped for refreshment, whilst a few waited on —he was interrogated to know whether he justified the course of conduct at the late election or not—he said he did not, and was willing to give his protest in writing, which he did, and also desired that there should be a public meeting called which I think was done on the next day. Said Joseph Smith was not addressed on the subject but I was, who, in behalf of the Saints, entered into an agreement with the other citizens of the that we would live in peace, enjoying those blessings fought for by our forefathers, but while some of their leading men were entering into this contract, others were raising mobs, and in a short time the mob increased to 205 rank and file, and they encamped within six miles of . In the mean time Joseph Smith and those who came with him from returned to their homes in peace suspecting nothing—but [I] seeing the rage of the mob and their full determination to drive the Chu[r]ch from , sent to (Major General of the Division in which we lived,) he immediately sent , with between 200 and 300 men. moved his troops near the mob force, and came up and conversed with me on the subject—after conversing some time on the subject, Major Hughes came and informed that his men were mutinizing, and the mob were determined to fall on the Saints in . I having a Col’s. commission under , was commanded to call out my troops forthwith, and to use s own language “kill every G——d d——n mobocrat or make them prisoners, and if they come upon you give them hell”—he then returned his troops and gave them an address, stating the interview he had with me, and he also said to the mob, that if they were so disposed they could go on with their measures—that he considered that with the militia under his command all-sufficient to quell every G——d d——n mobocrat in the , and if they did not feel disposed so to do, to go home or G——d d——n them he would kill every one of them.— The mob then dispersed. During these movements Joseph Smith nor any of those of or any other place were not at only those who were settlers and legal citizens of the place. The mob again assembled and went to , Carroll county, there being a small branch of the Church at that place, but of the transactions at this place I have no personal knowledge. They succeeded in driving the Church from that place, some to the east and some to the west, &c. This increased their ardor, and with redoubled forces from several counties of the , they returned to to renew the attack, many unwanton attacks and violations of the rights of citizens took place at this time from the hands of this hellish band. I believing forbearance no longer to be a virtue, again sent to the for military aid, who ordered out . came part of the way, but fearing his men would mutinize and join the mob, he came on ahead and conversed with me a considerable time. The night previous to his arrival the of was driven from her house by this ruthless mob, and came into , a distance of three miles, carrying two children on her hips, one of which was then rising of two years old, the other six or eight months old—the snow being over shoe-mouth deep, and she having to wade which was at this time waist deep, and the mob burnt the house and every thing they had in it—and , passing the ruins thereof, seemed fired with indignation at their hellish conduct, and said he had hitherto thought it imprudent to call upon the militia under my command in consequence of popular opinion, but he now considered it no more than justice that I should have command of my own troops, and said to me, “I therefore command you forthwith to raise your companies immediately and take such course as you may deem best in order to disperse the mob from this .” I then called out sixty men and placed them under the command of Captain , and I also took about the same number— was ordered to , where a party of the mob were located, and I to , where another party was located. I and formed the troops under our command, and addressed them as follows:—
“Gentlemen, I deplore your situation—I regret that transactions of this nature should have transpired in our once happy —your condition is certainly not an enviable one—surrounded by mobs on one side, and popular opinion and prejudice against you on the other—gladly would I fly to your relief with my troops, but I fear it would be worse for you—most of them have relations living in this , and will not fight against them. One of my principal Captains, namely and his men have already mutinized and have refused to obey my command. I can only say to you, gentlemen, follow the command of , whom I have commanded to disperse all mobs found in , or to make them prisoners and bring them before the civil authorities forthwith. I wish to be distinctly understood that is vested with power and authority from me to disperse from your midst all who may be found on the side of mobocracy in the county of . I deeply regret gentlemen (knowing as I do the vigilance and perseverence of in the cause of freedom and rights of man) that I could not even be a soldier under his command in quelling the hellish outrages I have witnessed. In conclusion, gentlemen, be vigilant and persevere and allay every excitement of mobocracy. I have visited your place frequently—find you to be an industrious and thriving people, willing to abide the laws of the land.— And I deeply regret that you could not live in peace and enjoy the privileges of freedom. I shall now, gentlemen, return and dismiss my troops and put under an arrest—leave the sole charge with , who [p. ]