Entry in the Personal Narrative of Joseph Smith (June 10, 1844)
Hearing on the Expositor Affair in the Municipal Court of Nauvoo (June 12-13, 1844)
Synopsis of Proceedings in the City Council against the Nauvoo Expositor.
COUNCIL, REGULAR SESSION, June
In connection with other business as stated in last week's paper, the Mayor remarked that he believed it generally the case, that when a man goes to law, he has an unjust cause, and wants to go before someone who wants business, and that he had very few cases on his docket; and referring to Councilor Emmons, editor of the Nauvoo Expositor, suggested the propriety of first purging the City Council; and, referring to the character of the paper and proprietors, called up Theodore Turley, a mechanic, who being sworn, said that the Laws (William and Wilson.) had brought bogus dies to him to fix.
Councilor Hyrum Smith inquired what good Foster and his brother and the Higbees and Laws had ever done. While his brother Joseph was under arrest from the Missouri persecution, the Laws and Robert D. Foster would have been ridden on a rail, if he had not stepped for" ward to prevent it, on account of their oppressing the poor.
Mayor said, while he was under arrest by writ from Governor Carlin William Law sued him for $40 he was owing Law, and it took the last expense money he had to pay it.
Councilor Hyrum Smith referred to J. H. Jackson's coming to this city, &c. Mayor said that William Law had offered
Councilor Hyrum Smith continued-Jackson told him he (Jackson) meant to have his daughter, and threatened him if he made any resistance. Jackson related to him a dream, that Joseph and Hyrum were opposed to him, but that he would execute his purposes; that Jackson had laid a plan with four or five persons to kidnap his daughter, and threatened to shoot anyone that should come near after he had got her into the skiff; that Jackson was engaged in trying to make bogus, which was his principal business. Referred to the revelation read to the High Council of the Church, which has caused so much talk, about multiplicity of wives; that said revelation was in answer to a question concerning things which transpired in former days. That when sick, William Law confessed to him that he had been guilty of adultery, and was not fit to live, and had sinned against his own soul, &c., and inquired who was Judge Emmons? When he came here he had scarce two shirts to his back; but he had been dandled by the authorities of the city, &c., and was now editor of the Nauvoo Expositor, and his right hand man, was Francis M. Higbee, who had confessed to him that he had had the -----!
Washington Peck sworn, said-"Soon after Joseph H. Jackson came here, he came to witness to borrow money, which witness loaned him and took some jewelry as security.
Soon after a man from across the river came after the jewelry.
At another time wanted to get money of witness. Asked witness if he would do anything dishonorable to get a living. Witness said he would not.
Witness asked if it was Joseph. "No." said
Afternoon.-Ordered by the Council that Sylvester Emmons be suspended until his case could be investigated, for slandering the City Council. That the Recorder notify him of his suspension, and that his case would come up for investigation at the next regular session of the Council. (The order is in the hands of the Marshal).
Councilor John Taylor said that Councilor Emmons helped to make the ordinances of the city, and had never lifted his voice against them in the Council, and was now trying destroy the ordinances and the charter.
Lorenzo Wasson sworn, said Josoph H. Jackson had told witness that bogus-making was going on in the city; but it was too damned small business. Wanted witness to help him to procure money, for the General (Smith) was afraid to go into it; and with $500 he could get an engraving for bills on the Bank of Missouri, and one on the State of
Mayor suggested that the Council pass an ordinance to prevent misrepresentations and libelous publications and conspiracies against the peace of the city; and, referring to the reports that Dr. Foster had set afloat, said he had never made any proposals to Foster to come back to the Church. Foster proposed to come back; came to Mayor's house, and wanted a private interview. Had some conversation with Foster in the hall, in presence of several gentlemen, on the 7th inst. Offered to meet him and have an interview in presence of friends, three or four, to be selected by each party; which Foster agreed to, and went to bring his friends for the interview; and the next notice he had of him was the following letter: -
To GENERAL J0SEPH SMITH
June 7th, 1844.
SIR,-I have consulted my friends in relation to your proposals of settlement, and they as well as myself, are of opinion that your conduct, and that of your unworthy, unprincipled clan, is so base, that it would be morally wrong, and detract from the dignity of gentlemen, to hold any conference with you. The repeated insults and abuses I, as well as my friends, have suffered from your unlawful course towards us, demands honorable resentment. We are resolved to make this our motto.
Nothing on our part has been done to provoke your anger, but have done all things as become men. You have trampled upon everything we hold dear and sacred. You 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; and I, as well as my friends, will stay here and 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.
The proposals made by your agent, Dimick Huntington, as well as the threats you sent to intimidate me, I disdain and despise as I do their unhallowed author. The right of my family and my friends demands at my hand a refusal of all your offers. We are united in virtue and truth, and we set hell at defiance, and all her agents. Adieu.
R. D. FOSTER.
Mayor continued-And when Foster left his house, he went to a shoe shop on the hill, and reported that Joseph said to him, if he would come back he would give him Law's place in the Church, and a hat-full of specie.
Lucien Woodworth sworn. Said that the conversation as stated by the Mayor was correct. Was at the Mansion June 7th, when Dr. Foster rode up and inquired if General Smith was at home. Dr. Foster went into the house; witness followed. Dr. Foster was there, the General, and others, looking at some specimens of penmanship. Something was paid respecting a conversation at that time between the General and the Doctor. Gen. Smith observed to Foster, if he had a conversation, he would want others present. The Doctor said he would have a word with him by himself, and went into the hall. Witness went to the door that he might see and hear what was passing. They still continued to talk on the subject of a conversation that they might have afterwards with others present, whom Mr. Smith and Foster might choose. Foster left, and went for those that he said he wanted present, and would return soon with them. He heard all the conversation. Heard nothing about Gen. Smith's making any offers to Foster to settle.
Mayor said he wished it distinctly understood that he knew nothing about Dimick Huntington going to see Foster.
Woodworth said he sent Dimick Huntington to Foster, and Joseph knew nothing about it.
Councilor Hyrum Smith said Dimick Huntington came to him on the 7th inst. and said he had had an interview with Dr. Foster, and thought he was about ready to come back, and a word from him or Joseph would bring it about.
Mayor said-"The conduct of such men and such papers are calculated to destroy the peace of the city, and it is not safe that such things should exist, on account of the mob spirit which they tend to produce." He had made the statements he had, and called the witnesses to prepare the council to act in the case.
Emmons was blackguarded out of Philadelphia, and dubbed with the title of Judge (as he had understood from citizens of Philadelphia); was poor, and Mayor helped him to cloth for a coat before he went away last fall, and he (Emmons) labored all winter to get the post office from Mr. Rigdon (as informed).
Mayor referred to a writing from Dr. Goforth. showing that the Laws presented the communication from the Female Relief Society in the Nauvoo Neighbor to Dr. Goforth, as the bone of contention, and said if God ever spake by any man, it will not be five years before this city is in ashes and we in our graves, unless we go to Oregon, California or some other place, if the city does not put down everything which tends to mobocracy, and put down murderers, bogus-makers, and scoundrels. All the sorrow he ever had in his family in this city has arisen through the influence of William Law.
Councilor H. Smith spoke in relation to the Laws, Fosters, Higbees, editor of the Signal, &c., and of the importance of suppressing that spirit which has driven us from
Mayor said, at the time Governor Carlin was pursuing him with his writs, William Law came to his house with a band of Missourians for the purpose of betraying him. Came to his gate, and was prevented by Daniel Carn, who was set to watch. Law came within his gate and called, "Mayor," and the Mayor reproved Law for coming at that time of night with a company of strangers.
Daniel Carn sworn. Said that about ten o'clock at night a boat came up the river with about a dozen men. William Law came to the gate with them. Witness, on guard, stopped them. Law called Joseph to the door, and wanted an interview. Joseph said; "Brother Law, you know better than to come here at this hour of the night," and Law retired. Next morning Law wrote a letter to apologize, which witness heard read, which was written apparently to screen himself from the censure of a conspiracy; and the letter betrayed a conspiracy on the face of it.
Adjourned at half-past 6 p. m. till Monday, 10th, 10 o'clock a. m.
Adjourned session, June 10th, 10 o'clock a.m. Alderman Harris presiding.
Mayor referred to Dr. Foster, and again read his letter of the 7th instant (as before quoted).
Orrin P. Rockwell sworn. Some day last week saw Dr. Foster ride up to the
The Doctor's brother was proposed. General said he had no objection; wanted him present. Dr. Foster started, saying he would be back shortly. Before Dr. Foster left, the men whom General Smith had named to be present at the conversation were sent for.
Cross.examined. Witness went into the house as Mayor and Dr. Foster were coming out of the bar-room into the hall. Nothing said by the Mayor to Dr. Foster about his coming back. Made no offer to Foster about a settlement.
Mayor said the first thing that occurred to his mind, when he stepped into the ball with Foster, was that be wanted to assassinate him. He saw something shining below his vest. Mayor put his finger on it and said-"what is that?'" Foster replied-"It's my pistol," and immediately took out the pistol, and showed it openly, and wanted the Mayor to go with him alone. Mayor said he would not go alone. Mayor never saw the pistol before. Had a hook on its side to hang on his waist-band.
Andrew L. Lamoreaux sworn. Said that in 1839 or '40, while President Joseph Smith, Elder Rigdon, Judge Higbee, Orrin P. Rockwell, and Dr. Robert D. Foster were on their way to
Peter Hawes sworn. Said that he came to Nauvoo before the Laws and brought considerable property. It was a short time after the Church had been driven out of
Dr. Foster made a public dinner on the 4th of July. Witness was obliged to be absent, and deposited meat, flour, &c., with William Law to give to the poor at that dinner, and Law handed it out as his own private property. Witness carried a load of wheat to Law's mill to be ground. Law would not grind it only to give a certain quantity of flour in return by weight. Law used up the flour, promising from time to time he would refund it. As witness was about to start on a mission to the south with his valise in his hand saw Law before his door talking with Hyrum Smith. Called on Law, and told him he was going away, and his family wanted the flour. Law promised on the honor of a gentleman and a Saint, that his family should have the flour when they wanted.
Councilor Hyrum Smith said he recollected the time and circumstance.
Hawes said when he returned he found his family must have starved, if they had not borrowed money to get food somewhere else; could not get it of Law; and Law was preaching punctuality, punctuality, punctuality, as the whole drift of his discourses to the Saints, and abusing them himself and grinding the poor.
Mayor said, if he had a City Council who felt as he did, the establishment (referring to the Nauvoo Expositor) would be declared a nuisance before night; and then he read an editorial from the Nauvoo Expositor. He then asked who ever said a word against Judge Emmons until he attacked this Council or even against Joseph H. Jackson or the Laws, until they came out against the city? Here is a paper (Nauvoo Expositor) that is exciting our enemies abroad. Joseph H. Jackson has been proved a murderer before the Council, and he declared the paper a nuisance-a greater nuisance than a dead carcass. They make it a criminality 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 he then read a statement of William Law's from the Expositor, where the truth of God was transformed into a lie concerning this thing. He then read several statements of Austin Cowles in the Expositor concerning a private interview, and said he never had any private conversations with Austin Cowles on these subjects; that he preached on the stand from the Bible, showing the order in ancient days. What the opposition party want is to raise a mob on us and take the spoil from us, as they did in
Peter Hawes recalled a circumstance which he had forgotten to mention concerning a Mr. Smith who came from
Mayor said certain women came to complain to his wife that they had caught Wilson Law with the girl [in compromising relations] at Mr. Hawes’ in the night.
Councilor Hyrum Smith proceeded to show the falsehood of Austin Cowles in the Expositor, in relation to the revelation referred to.
Mayor said he had never preached the revelation in private; but he had public. Had not taught to the anointed in the Church in private, which statement many present confirmed; that on inquiring concerning the passage on the resurrection concerning "they neither marry nor are given in marriage," &c., he received for answer, "Man in this life must marry in view of eternity, otherwise they must remain as angels, or be single in heaven," which was the doctrine of the revelation referred to; and the Mayor spoke at considerable length in explanation of this principle, and was willing, for one, to subscribe his name to declare the Expositor and whole establishment a nuisance.
Two o'clock p. m. Willard Richards, the clerk of the Council, bore testimony of the good character and high standing of Mr. Smith and his family, whose daughter was seduced by Wilson Law, as stated by the last witness before the morning council; that Mrs. Smith died near the mouth of the Mississippi, and the father and eldest daughter died soon after their arrival in this place; and that the seduction of such a youthful, fatherless and innocent creature, by such a man in high standing as the Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion, was one of the darkest, damnedest, and foulest deeds on record.
Councilor Hyrum Smith concurred in the remarks made by the clerk concerning the excellent character of Mr. Smith and his family.
Mayor said the Constitution did not authorize the press to publish libels, and proposed that the Council make some provision for putting down the Nauvoo Expositor.
Councilor Hyrum Smith called for a prospectus of the Expositor. Councilor Phelps read article 8, sec. I, Constitution of
The clerk read the prospectus of the Nauvoo Expositor as follows:
PROSPECTUS OF THE "NAUVOO EXPOSITOR."
The Nauvoo Expositor will be issued on Friday of each week, on an imperial sheet, with a new press and materials of the best quality, and rendered worthy of the patronage of a discerning and enlightened public.
The Expositor will be devoted to a general diffusion of useful knowledge, and its columns open for the admission of all courteous communications of a religious, moral, social, literary, or political character without taking a decided stand in favor of either of the great political parties in the country. A part of its columns will be devoted to a few primary objects, which the publishers deem of vital importance to the public welfare. Their particular locality gives them a knowledge of the many gross abuses exercised under the "pretended" authorities of the Charter of the City of
The columns of the Expositor will be open to the discussion of all matters of public interest, the production of all correspondents, subject to the decision of the editor alone, who shall receive or reject at his option. National questions will be in place, but no preference given to either of the political parties. The editorial department will contain the political news of the day, proceedings of Congress, election returns &c. Room will be given for articles on agriculture, the mechanic arts, commercial transactions, &c.
The first number of the Expositor will be issued on Friday, the 7th day of June, 1844. The publishers bind themselves to issue the paper weekly for one year, and forward 52 copies to each subscriber during the year. Orders should be forwarded as soon as possible, that the publishers may know what number of copies to issue.
The publishers take pleasure in announcing to the public that they have engaged the service of Sylvester Emmous, Esq., who will have entire charge and supervision of the editorial department. From an acquaintance with the dignity of character and literary qualifications of this gentleman, they feel assured that the Nauvoo Expositor must and will sustain a high and honorable reputation.
All letters and communications must be addressed to Charles A, Foster. Nauvoo,
CHARLES IVINS, FRANCIS M. HIGBEE, CHAUNOBY L.HIGBEE, ROBERT D. FOSTER, CHARLES A. FOSTER,
Mayor read the statements of Francis M. Higbee from the Expositor,
and asked-"Is it not treasonable against all chartered rights and privileges, and against the peace and happiness of the city'"
Councilor Hyrum Smith was in favor of declaring the Expositor a nuisance.
Mayor made a statement of what William Law said before the City Council under oath, that he was a friend to the Mayor, &c., and asked if there were any present who recollected his statement, when scores responded, Yes.
Mayor read from Illinois Constitution, article 8, section 22, touching the responsibility of the press for its constitutional liberty.
Councilor Stiles said a nuisance was anything that disturbs the peace of a community, and read Blackstone on private wrongs, vol. 2, page 4; and the whole community has to rest under the stigma of these falsehoods (referring to the Expositor) and if we can prevent the issuing of any more slanderous communications, he would go in for it. It is right for this community to show a proper resentment; and he would go in for suppressing all further publications of the kind.
Councilor Hyrum Smith believed the best way was to smash the press and pi the type.
Councilor Johnson concurred with the Councilors who had spoken.
Alderman Bennett referred to the statement of the Expositor concerning the Municipal Court in the case of Jeremiah Smith as a libel, and considered the paper a public nuisance.
Mayor replied that they threatened to shoot him when at
Councilor Hyrum Smith spoke of the Warsaw Signal, and disapprobated its libelous course.
Mayor remarked he was sorry to have one dissenting voice in declaring the Expositor a nuisance.
Councilor Hyrum Smith referred to the mortgages and property of the proprietors of the Expositor, and thought there would be little chance of collecting damages for libels.
Alderman Elias Smith considered there was but one course to pursue that the proprietors were out of the reach of the law; that our course was to put an end to the things at once. Believed by what he had heard that if the City Council did not do it, others would.
Councilor Hunter believed it to be a nuisance. Referred to the opinion of Judge Pope on "habeas corpus, and spoke in favor of the charter, &c. Asked Francis M. Higbee, before the jury, if he was not the man he saw at Joseph's house making professions of friendship' Higbee said he was not. (Hundreds know this statement to be false.) He also asked R. D. Foster if he did not state before hundreds of people that he believed Joseph to be a Prophet. "No," said Foster. They were under oath when they said it. (Many hundreds of people are witness to this perjury).
Alderman Orson Spencer accorded with the views expressed, that the Nauvoo Expositor is a nuisance. Did not consider it wise to give them time to trumpet a thousand lies. Their property could not pay for it. If we pass only a fine or imprisonment, have we any confidence that they will desist? None at all. We have found these men covenant breakers with God, with their wives, &c. Have we any hope of their doing better? Their characters have gone before them. Shall they be suffered to go on, and bring a mob upon us, and murder our women and children, and burn our beautiful city? No! I had rather my blood would be spilled at once, and would like to have the press removed as soon as the ordinance would allow; and wish the matter might be put into the hands of the Mayor, and everybody stand by him in the execution of his duties, and hush every murmur.
Councilor Levi Richards said he had felt deeply on this subject, and concurred fully in the view General Smith had expressed of it this day; thought it unnecessary to repeat what the Council perfectly understood; considered private interest as nothing in comparison with the public good. Every time a line was formed in
Councilor Phineas Richards said that he had not forgotten the transaction at Haun's Mill, and that he recollected that his son George Spencer then lay in the well referred to on the day previous, without a winding-sheet, shroud or coffin. He said he could not sit still when he saw the same spirit raging in this place. He considered the publication of the Expositor as much murderous at heart as David was before the death of Uriah; was prepared to take stand; by the Mayor, and whatever he proposes; would stand by him to the last. The quicker it is stopped the better.
Councilor Phelps had investigated the Constitution, Charter, and laws. The power to declare that office a nuisance is granted to us in the Springfield Charter, and a resolution declaring it a nuisance is all that is required.
John Birney sworn. Said Francis M. Higbee and Wm. Law declared they had commenced their operations, and would carry them out, law or no law.
Stephen Markham sworn. Said that Francis M. Higbee said the interest of this city is done the moment a hand is laid on their press.
Councilor Phelps continued, and referred to Wilson Law in destroying the character of a child-an orphan child, who had the charge of another child.
Warren Smith sworn. Said F.M. Higbee came to him and pro- posed to have him go in as a partner in making bogus money. Higbee said he would not work for a living; that witness might go in with him if he would advance fifty dollars; and showed him (witness) half-dollar which he said was made in his dies.
Councilor Phelps continued and he felt deeper this day than ever he felt before, and wanted to know, by "Yes," if there was any person who wanted to avenge the blood of that innocent female who had been seduced by the then Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion, Wilson Law; when "Yes!" resounded from every quarter of the house. He then referred to the tea plot at Boston, and asked if anybody's rights were taken away with that transaction; and are we offering, or have we offered to take away the rights of anyone these two days ("No!' resounded from every quarter.) He then referred also to Law's grinding the poor during the scarcity of grain, while the poor had nothing but themselves to grind; and spoke at great length in support of' active measures to put down iniquity, and suppress the spirit of mobocracy.
Alderman Harris spoke from the chair, and expressed his feelings that the press ought to be demolished.
The following resolution was then read and passed unanimously, with the exception of Councilor Warrington:
"Resolved, by the City Council of the city of Nauvoo, that the printing-office from whence issues the Nauvoo Expositor is a public nuisance and also all of said Nauvoo Expositor which may be or exist in said establishment; and the Mayor is instructed to cause said printing establishment and papers to be removed without delay, in such manner as he shall direct."
W. RICHARDS, Recorder.
The following order was immediately issued by the Mayor: