Sunday, February 23, 2014

Reforming Newspaper Wrecks City of Nauvoo and Makes Smith a Martyr, by Rev, Orien W. Fifer,

Despite their differing outcomes, there are a great many similarities in the stories of Joseph Smith, who founded the Mormon church in 1830, and Jim Jones, who is credited with ordering the self-destruction of the Peoples Temple in 1978, beyond the great migrations at the heart of both narratives. So many similarities, in fact, that the lives of these two charismatic spiritual leaders must represent some universal archetype as it is expressed within the field of temporal political affairs.

Both men were essentially frauds within their professions, who taught outlandish, illogical precepts that resulted in phenomenal, irrational growth for their respective churches. Each man then died violently, in endings triggered by sex scandals.

Both men were instruments of social control who were favored by the political classes of their day, who utilized the services provided by the organizations they'd helped build up in a cynical display of democracy. Despite Jim Jones' extreme political and theological pronouncements, he held a number of political endorsements that burnished his public reputation. Joseph Smith made an incremental march across five states in his war against culture and society without ever leaving the side of the throne of American power. At what should have been the lowest point in Smith's career--the expulsion of the Mormon church from Missouri under threat of genocidal extinction--his political power was at its zenith.

The following article about Joseph Smith and the Mormons makes clear two points. That his political power was at its greatest just before his destruction:
Politically the city was feared. Astute politicians courted the solid Mormon vote. Abraham Lincoln termed Joseph Smith a friend and courted his political favor. Stephen A. Douglas, from the beginning of their residence in Illinois was a prime friend of the Mormons, and favored them in substantial and frequent fashion. Congressional and county candidates bargained for Mormon votes.

The city also boasted in 1844 of a candidate for the presidency and a candidate for the vice presidency. Joseph Smith had been put forward for the presidency in January, 1844, and 137 elders, among them Brigham Young, had been sent out to electioneer for him through eastern states. Later Sidney Rigdon was named for vice-president. Nauvoo complacently complimented itself upon these political ventures, and it is an open question how far the issues of 1844 would have been affected if the Expositor had not been issued, if Smith had not been murdered, and the Mormons had cast their votes for their candidates in the autumn.
and that the moment of Smith's destruction was precipitated by the premature announcement of his revealed doctrine sanctioning the plurality of wives for church leaders, contained in the first edition, of a single issue of 1,000 copies, of a new newspaper put out by Mormon insiders (The Jim Jones' "sex scandal" was a cover up of news of his arrest for homsexual assignation in a Los Angeles movie theater in 1973, which if made public would have destroyed him and his church as thoroughly as the "revolutionary suicide" did, but more about that anon.)

A last word about the title the Rock Island Argus gives to the article it reprints from the New York Christian Advocate: "Reforming Newspaper Wrecks City of Nauvoo and Makes Smith a Martyr."

Although the times were much different between the 1840's and the 1970's, another important commonality between the Smith and Jones' stories is the role the media played in building up both men as what I see as secret franchises of a ruling government. In the 1840's, small towns of a few thousand souls could boast of competing newspapers, and the saga of the Prophet Joseph Smith received as much media attention back then as any Later-day celebrity does today. Even with the volume of facts available, determining any truth of perpetration or victimhood is elusive. Were the "gentiles" of Missouri justified in their abhorrent treatment of the Mormons as fellow citizens? As some have suggested, did the Mormons deliberately act to goad on a retaliatory response from a manufactured enemy, to manipulate public opinion? Back then, at least one point of view can be seen as a controlled synthetic result of media itself secretly enfranchised by the ruling government. By the 1970's, the power of ruling authorities over "airwaves" gave them control over three non-competing television networks, and allowed them to insert the media itself into the narrative, as it did in the Jim Jones' story with the NBC crew killed at the airport along with Congressman Ryan. But by the year 2000, control was so complete and integrated, an entirely fabricated reality of Biblical importance such as 9/11 could be computer generated and sold to the public like a brand of beer, or a new automobile. This leaves the "one-percent" as the all-knowing wizards behind the curtain--to whom, we are finally told, pay no attention.

December 24, 1912, The Rock Island Argus, page 9, When Mormons Quit the State; Reforming Newspaper Wrecks City of Nauvoo and Makes Smith a Martyr, by Rev, Orien W. Fifer,

Rock Island Argus. (Rock Island, Ill.) 1893-1920, December 24, 1912, HOME EDITION, Image 9
Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL
Persistent link: What is OCR?



Reforming; Newspaper Wrecks City of Nauvoo and Makes Smith a Martyr.


After a long search I have at last found a copy of one of the most interesting newspapers ever published, the Nauvoo Expositor. The Expositor was issued but once, June 7, 1844. but that number ruined a promising city, caused the mob-murder of Joseph Smith, the prophet, divided the church of which he was the founder, exploded a great commercial enterprise, and exiled thousands of people. Somewhat indirectly, but none the less effectively, the paper affected the political history of the nation. The stormy debates in congress, the fierce accusations by enemies, and stubborn resistance by friends of Mormonism in recent years, the grave influence of the Mormon vote upon political leaders and policies, and the complicated story of polygamy, with its dangerous social phases, can be traced to the one issue of this ill-fated newspaper.

In 1844, Nauvoo, Ill, now a placid little village, was the most important city politically and numerically in the state. In that year Chicago had less than 10,000 inhabitants, while Nauvoo contained nearly 15,000. Nauvoo teemed with industries. Steam boats were landing immigrants from Europe. A respectable college was flourishing. A temple costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in labor and material was approaching completion upon the high brow of the plateau which formed part of the site of the city. A real estate "boom" was on. Occupying one of the most beautiful sites for a city anywhere in the Mississippi valley, Nauvoo, in 1844, justified great expectations. Politically the city was feared. Astute politicians courted the solid Mormon vote. Abraham Lincoln termed Joseph Smith a friend and courted his political favor. Stephen A. Douglas, from the beginning of their residence in Illinois was a prime friend of the Mormons, and favored them in substantial and frequent fashion. Congressional and county candidates bargained for Mormon votes.

The city also boasted in 1844 of a candidate for the presidency and a candidate for the vice presidency. Joseph Smith had been put forward for the presidency in January, 1844, and 137 elders, among them Brigham Young, had been sent out to electioneer for him through eastern states. Later Sidney Rigdon was named for vice-president. Nauvoo complacently complimented itself upon these political ventures, and it is an open question how far the issues of 1844 would have been affected if the Expositor had not been issued, if Smith had not been murdered, and the Mormons had cast their votes for their candidates in the autumn.

Until that fateful day in June, 1844, Nauvoo was a power in Illinois and dreamed of unlimited power and influence. The one number of the Expositor changed all this. It was issued on Friday. By Monday evening, following, the press had been destroyed, the papers and office furniture burned, the building wrecked in part, and the owners and editor had fled for their lives. Within a little more than two years, the Mormon community was hastening across the savage-swept prairies to an undiscovered home, the streets of the city had been stained with blood of citizens slain in civil strife; the gorgeous parades and ceremonies had ended, the imposing Temple was desecrated, and the city itself was for sale. The paper, aiming only to reform the Mormon religion, had made the Prophet a martyr, aroused the State of Illinois to warfare against the so-called "Saints" and left the once prosperous city to dwindle to a village slumbering quietly amid strawberry beds and vineyards.

The copy of the paper before me contains four well-printed pages of six columns each. The edition numbered 1,000 copies. It was published by Mormons who had lived in Nauvoo, some of whom had been high in the confidence of Joseph Smith and the church. Their newspaper venture was the method chosen to assail the character and destroy the political power of Smith, and to disclose the secret teaching and probable practice of polygamy.

The Expositor contained the affidavits of William Law and his wife Jane Law, and of Austin Cowles. William Law stated that Hyrum Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph, read to him a certain document and then gave it to him to read for himself; that he took the document home and read it to his wife Jane; that it contained authorization for certain men to have more than one wife in this world and in the world to come; and that Hyrum Smith had declared the contents of the document to be revelation from the Lord received by Joseph Smith. Jane Law declared in her affidavit that she had read the document, and that it contained the doctrine of more wives than one at a time and that wives who would not allow their husbands to have more than one wife would be under condemnation before God. Austin Cowles stated that in the summer of 1843 Hyrum Smith did introduce into the high council a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph sanctioning the plurality of wives, and that by reason of such doctrine being taught and practiced he had left the office of first counselor in the church.

The paper also contained a preamble of several columns, in which the definite statement was made that Joseph Smith had attempted to secure a plurality of wives. This preamble was followed by 15 resolutions passed by seceders from the church in Nauvoo, in which again and again the protest was made against the teaching of plurality of wives by Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

The effect of the publication of these charges was immediate and disastrous. The Mormons went through the process of at trial concerning the Expositor. The trial was one of the most curious in the history of jurisprudence. It was held on Saturday, the day following the publication of the paper. The trial was adjourned over Sunday, continued and completed on Monday. The paper itself seems to have been tried by the city council acting as Jury with the mayor, Joseph Smith in the chair. The owners, though absent, were tried without representation. Governor Ford, who writes largely from evidence furnished by the Mormons themselves, states that "one finds difficulty in determining whether the proceedings were the result of insanity or depravity. Nobody accused had notice of the trial. Nobody was permitted to defend the accused. No jury was called or sworn. No witnesses were put on oath. From the Mormon standpoint it was abundantly proved that the owners of the Expositor were sinners, in their eyes, swindlers, counterfeiters and robbers. It was the most curious and irregular trial ever fielded in any civilized country. The city council finally declared that the printing office that issued the Expositor was a public nuisance, also all the copies existing in the office, and the mayor was authorized to remove the same without delay in such manner as he might direct. The prophet ordered the city marshal to destroy the printing press, to "pi" the type and to bum all the Expositors found, together with libelous handbills which might be found.

The press was destroyed that evening, the prophet aiding strenuously in the destruction and engaging in something of a fist fight with a bystander. He later issued a proclamation reciting the charge that the city was infested with blacklegs, counterfeiters and debauchees, and that the proprietors of the Expositor belonged to that class.

The owners of the paper, who had fled to Carthage, filed charges against the Prophet and the city council for rioting. The legal incidents ensuing brought Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, under practical arrest to Carthage. A mob broke into the jail and shot Joseph, exalting him to martyrdom in the eyes of his people.

Six months later the state legislature repealed the unique city charter of Nauvoo, the most favorable ever granted to an American city. In the summer of 1845 a degree of civil war was witnessed in and around the city. In October of that year the Mormons agreed to evacuate the region in the spring of the following year and remove to some point west of the Rocky mountains. The exodus began in the winter and proceeded during the summer. Excitement, fanned by wild rumors, created suspicion and hatred among the enemies of the Mormons, and on Sept. 16, 1846, a battle was fought at Nauvoo. The following day the remaining inhabitants of the city departed across the river into Iowa, urged by deeds of violence and compulsion disgraceful to American citizenship. The city stood empty, despoiled, and where 15,000 people had toiled and worshiped, only silence reigned among empty houses and deserted temple.

Mormon writers of the polygamous and the non-polygamous branches always have characterized the Expositor as a venomous, filthy, false and disreputable sheet. Some of these writers doubtless never have read the paper. The paper deserves consideration. The literary style, is not superior, but the writing is straightforward and evidently the work of men possessing more than average courage. The paper needs to receive consideration as one of his elements in the better history of the middle west. Perhapi Illinois might have been saved from Mormon political domination without the Expositor, but the fact remains that the paper set in motion causes which relieved the state of any perils like those which menace more western commonwealths.

It is true also that one branch of the Mormon church preserves cleanness of practice and teaching concerning polygamy by reason of the one issue of the Expositor. The members of the church characterize the Expositor in bitter terms, but it may have preserved them from polygamy. The sudden death of Joseph Smith made it possible for all Mormons to look upon him in a siantly light, Mormons who went to Utah accepted the charges made by the Expositor and boldly announced the doctrine of polygamy with endorsements from Joseph Smith much as the Expositor had published. The Mormons who remained behind in Illinois and elsewhere never have admitted the paternity of polygamy in the Smith family. The Expositor sheds some light upon the issue.

One who reads the expositor now is convinced that these men who made protest against Joseph Smith were conscious of a real peril in their church and to their domestic welfare. The tone of the paper is serious and earnest. There is a convincing corroboration of the charges made in the paper by the later admissions of the polygamous Mormons. After the revelation concerning polygamy was published in Salt Lake City in 1852 and attributed to Smith, William Clayton, who had been a clerk in Smith's office in Nauvoo, testified in an affidavit made in 1874 that the prophet broached the subject of plurality of wives during February, 1843, and that later Hyrum Smith offered to read the revelation to Mrs. Smith if the prophet could write it out. In a history of Mormonism, by E C. Evans, of the Utah branch of the church, it is stated that the revelation concerning polygamy was read in part by Hyrum Smith in June, 1843, before the high council, all of whom except two or three received it as true doctrine.

This corroborates the affidavits of William Law and Austin Cowles in the Expositor. The time--the summer of 1843--the proffer of Hyrum Smith to read the revelation, the fact of the reading before the high council, are coincidences in the testimony of opposing parties which substantiate the truth of the charges published in the Expositor.

There is no foundation for the charge made so often by the Mormons that the Expositor was "reeking with libel and filth," or that "the leading citizens, men and woman, were spoken of and slandered in the most indecent terms." The editor of the paper, Sylvester Emmons, removed to Beardstown, Ill., and lived there until his death. For 16 years he was mayor of the town and lived in esteem. William Law, who signed the first affidavit, had been named as one of the first presidency, had been mentioned by name in the special revelation commanding the building of the Nauvoo house (which has a story in itself very interesting), and had been registrar of the university. In April of that very year, 1844, Hyrum Smith had spoken in high terms of William and his brother Wilson. These Law brothers ran a grist mill and a notice was printed in the Expositor that in view of hard times they would grind grain free on Thursdays for those who deserved charity. In the trial of the Expositor Joseph Smith complained that William Law had pursued him to recover $4,000 which he owed him.

There is much evidence to show that these men who published the ill-fated Expositor were men of strength and worth, and that they rendered the civilization of the Mississippi valley an inestimable service for good in the publication of a "martyr newspaper." New York Christian Advocate.


Another article that displays coincidences between the two religious figures:

1. Attempted or realized political assassinations
2. Both Jim Jones and Joseph Smith maintained secretive oath-sworn "hit squads" to effect political dirty work. Smith had his "Danites," and Jones his "Angels."
3. Smith and Jones both apparently enhanced their reputations for prophesy by announcing to supporters the impending deaths they themselves had arranged for. See my: Was the 1959 Car Crash That Killed Five Peoples Temple Members Murder?, for an early example, in which I've determined Jim Jones's recently adopted Korean daughter was sacrificed along with a carload of intended victims. Joseph Smith isn't shy about a prospective political hit job---nor his motive for going after the former Governor of Missouri: ice-cold revenge!

O. P. Rockwell
July 28, 1842, The Ohio Democrat, page 1, Mormonism Unveiled, by Gen. Bennett,

The Columbia Democrat. October 10, 1840, page 3, Vol. 3, No. 28 Whole No. 132
Mormonism Unveiled,
By the Sangamo Journal we have a portion of the promised disclosures touching the infamous conduct of the Prophet Joseph Smith, promised by Gen. Bennett, but recently a Mormon high in office and enjoying Smith's unbounded confidence. The disclosures show corruption such as had rarely been developed before the days of the Latter Day Saints, and and if the half Bennett states be true, Joe richly deserves the Penitentiary instead of reverence and obedience from his deluded followers. Bunnell, gives names freely, and calls upon many witnesses to sustain the truth of his statements.

Gen Bennett states that a band among the Mormons at Nauvoo called the Danite Band, is organized and bound together by covenants -entered into with uplifted hands, the object of which is to assassinate anyone who dares make disclosures in relation to the conduct of the Prophet, and to obey his behests in all things.

We copy Bennett's reasons for supposing that the attempt to assassinate Gov. Boggs of Mn., was made by a Danite.

2d. The fulfilment of Prophecy.--In 1841, Joe Smith prophesied, in a public congregation in Nauvoo, that Lilburn W. Boggs, Ex-Governor of Missouri, should die by violent hands within one year. From one or two months prior to the attempted assassination of Gov. Boggs, Mr. O. P. Rockwell left Nauvoo for parts unknown to the citizens at large. I was then on terms of close intimacy with Joe Smith, and asked him where Rockwell had gone? -Gone,' said he, 'GONE TO FULFIL PROPHECY!' Rockwell returned to Nauvoo the day before the report of the assassination reached there and the Nauvoo Wasp remarked 'it yet remains to be known who did the noble deed!' Rockwell remarked to a person now in Nauvoo, and whose name I forbear to mention for the present, from motives of prudence and safety to the person, but which shall be forthcoming in due time, that he had been all over Upper Missouri, and all about where Boggs lived,' and this was communicated to me by that person before I withdrew from the church, and we had considerable conversation upon that daring act. Rockwell is a Danite, Joe's public memory is very treacherous on the subject I presume; but his private memory is so good that he has a guard around his house every night, with the State cannon and a full supply of small arms, for the protection of his person against any attempted arrest. He likewise requested me to write lt Gov. Carlin for his protection, which I agreed to do. and so accordingly did, asking the Governor whether he would be protected from any illegal act of violence, to which the Governor replied that all citizens should receive equal protection, but that he knew no privileged man or order of men, and that the dignity of the Stale should be preserved according to the strict letter of the constitution and the laws. This letter refused to show to Joe, as open hostilities had commenced between us, and he accordingly detailed a Court Marshall to try me for treason against the citizens of the State of Illinois! This Court I regarded as illegal, and treated it with that utter contempt which such an assemblage of inferior officers will always receive at my hands. Now I call upon Colonel Francis M. Higbee to come out and tell what he told Gen. Robison and myself in relation to the murder of a certain prisoner in Missouri. Col. Higbee do not fear lo tell the story--tell exactly how Joe had the murder done up and what part he ordered you to take in the affair, but which you did not take. Tell it as Robison knows it, and as you told me, and do not fear. Gov. Reynolds will make another demand, and Joe shall be delivered over, I will visit Missouri and tell the dreadful story. Let the call be made, and the laws shall he executed.

Bennett calls Joe Smith the great Mormon, seducer and mates that he has "clandestine wives under the new dispensation, and has seduced hundreds of single and married ladies in the name of the Lord!" Revolting details of the Prophets attempt to seduce the daughter of Sidney Rigdon, Mrs. Pratt, wife of Professor Orson Pratt, of Ihe Nauvoo University, and others, are given; and when repulsed, by his intended victims, .the infamous old scoundrel proclaimed that the refusal became a sin unless sacrifice was offered; and in one instance Bennett says Smith said to him--

"General, if you are my friend I wish you to procure a lamb, and have it slain, and sprinkle the door posts and the gate with its blood, and take the kidneys and the entrails and offer them upon an altar of twelve stones that have not been touched with a hammer and it will save me and my priesthood. Will you do it?" l will, I replied. So I procured the lamb from Captain John T. Barnett, and it was slain by Lieutenant Stephen H. Goddard, and I offered the kidneys and entrails in sacrifice for Joe, as he desired; and Joe said, 'all is now safe'--the destroying angel will pass over without harming any of us'

We may notice these disclosures further hereafter.---Cleveland Herald.

1 comment: