Joseph Smith – Persecution
- 1 Inspiring Stories
- 1.1 “Cleared From Trial” as told by Joseph Knight, Jr.
- 1.2 “Escaping Doubtless Persecution” as told by Addison Everett
- 1.3 “Suffered Terrible Abuse” as told by Levi Hancock
- 1.4 “Unlawfully Arrested” as told by Newel Knight
- 1.5 “Early Martyrs of the Church” as told by Daniel Tyler
- 1.6 “Zion’s Camp Cursed” as told by Heber C. Kimball
- 1.7 “Counsel to Brother Haun” as told by Daniel Tyler
- 1.8 “Forgiving Persecutors” as told by Daniel Tyler
- 1.9 “Rebellion of William Smith” as told by Daniel Tyler
- 1.10 James Henry Rollins
- 1.11 James B. Bracken, Sr.
- 1.12 Benjamin F. Johnson
- 1.13 “Always Upheld Constitution” as told by Joseph Smith Jr.
“Cleared From Trial” as told by Joseph Knight, Jr.
I think it was in November, 1827, he made known to my father and me that he had seen a vision, that a personage had appeared to him and told him where there was a gold book of ancient date buried, and if he would follow the directions of the angel he could get it. We were told it in secret. My father and I believed what he told us. I think we were the first after his father’s family. At last he got the plates, and rode in my father’s wagon and carried them home. Joseph then commenced to translate the plates. Father and I often went to see him, to carry him some things to live upon. After many trials and troubles, he got the plates translated. By this time, my mother and many of my relations believed.
Joseph and Oliver came to Colesville, in May, 1830, where we lived, and Oliver baptized my father’s family, and a few of my relatives. When we were going from the water, we were met by many of our neighbors, who pointed at us and asked if we had been washing our sheep. Before Joseph could confirm us, he was taken by the officers to Chenango County for trial, for saying that the Book of Mormon was a revelation from God.
My father employed two lawyers to plead for him, and they cleared him. That night our wagons were turned over and wood piled on them, and some sunk in the water. Rails were piled against our doors, and chains sunk in the stream, and a great deal of mischief done. Before Joseph got to my father’s house, he was taken again to be tried in Broome County. Father employed the same lawyers, who cleared him there.
Four weeks passed before Joseph could get a chance to confirm us. Then we had the greatest time I ever saw. The house was filled with the Holy Ghost, which rested upon us. 1
“Escaping Doubtless Persecution” as told by Addison Everett
At Colesville, New York, in 1829, he [Joseph Smith] and Oliver were under arrest on a charge of deceiving the people. When they were at the justice’s house for trial in the evening, all were waiting for Mr. Reid, Joseph’s lawyer. While waiting, the justice asked Joseph some questions, among which was this: “What was the first miracle Jesus performed?” Joseph replied, “He made this world, and what followed we are not told.”
Mr. Reid came in and said he wanted to speak to his clients in private and that the law allowed him that privilege, he believed. The judge pointed to a door to a room in the back part of the house and told them to step in there. As soon as they got into the room, the lawyer said there was a mob outside in front of the house. “If they get hold of you they will perhaps do you bodily injury; and I think the best way for you to get out of this is to get right out there,” pointing to the window and hoisting it.
They got into the woods in going a few rods from the house. It was night and they traveled through brush and water and mud, fell over logs, etc., until Oliver was exhausted. Then Joseph helped him along through the mud and water, almost carrying him. They traveled all night, and just at the break of day Oliver gave out entirely and exclaimed, “Oh, Lord! Brother Joseph, how long have we got to endure this thing?”
They sat down on a log to rest, and Joseph said that at that very time Peter, James and John came to them and ordained them to the apostleship. They had sixteen or seventeen miles to go to get back to Mr. Hale’s, his father-in-law’s, but Oliver did not complain any more of fatigue. 2
“Suffered Terrible Abuse” as told by Levi Hancock
After I returned from a mission, the Prophet told me about being mobbed in Hiram, and how they pulled the hair out of his head. Then he showed me the place where they had pulled the hair out. He said they poured aqua fortis down him, he thought. I said, “While I was in Cleveland, I heard some laughing about it. They said the devil must have gotten the better of the Lord that time. I told them I thought he did once before when they killed the Son of God, and his disciples too. I did not consider that proved him an impostor.” I never saw men so much confounded. I said no more, but all eyes were on me while I stayed at the house.
The Prophet was often in trouble. If his friends gave him money, he was stripped of it all by his enemies. I know, for I did all I could do to uphold that good man. My heart would ache for him. He had to stand against thousands of his pretended friends who sought to overthrow him. It was terrible the abuse he suffered. 3
“Unlawfully Arrested” as told by Newel Knight
Joseph Smith came to Colesville to make us a visit. There were many in our neighborhood who believed and were anxiously waiting for an opportunity to be baptized. Meeting was appointed for the Sabbath, and on Saturday afternoon we erected a dam across a stream which was close by, with the intention of baptizing those who applied on Sunday. But during the night a mob collected and tore away the dam.
Early on Monday morning we were on the alert, and before our enemies were aware of it, Oliver Cowdery proceeded to baptize Emma Smith, Hezekiah Peck and wife, Joseph Knight and wife, Levi Hall, Polly Knight and Julia Stringham. But before the baptism was entirely finished, the mob began to collect again. We retired to my father’s house, and the mob, which numbered about fifty, surrounded the house, raging with anger, and apparently wishing to commit violence against us. So violent and troublesome were they that the brethren were obliged to leave my father’s house, and they succeeded in reaching mine. The mob, who soon found where they had gone, followed them and it was only by great prudence on our part and help from our Heavenly Father that they were kept from laying violent hands upon us.
A meeting had been appointed for the evening to confirm those who had been baptized in the morning. The time appointed had arrived, and our friends had nearly all collected together, when, to our great surprise and sorrow, the constable came and arrested Brother Joseph Smith, Jun., on a warrant charging him with being a disorderly person, and of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon.
The constable, soon after he had arrested Joseph, told him that the plan of those who had got out the warrant for his arrest was to get him into the hands of the mob who were now lying in ambush for him, and that he, the constable, was determined to save Joseph from them, as he found him to be a different person to what he had been represented. This proved true, for they had not proceeded far from the house when the wagon in which Joseph and the constable were riding was surrounded by the mob, who seemed only to await some signal from the constable. But to their great discomfiture, he gave the horses the whip and was soon out of their reach.
As the constable was driving briskly along, one of the wagon wheels came off, which accident left them almost in the hands of the mob who had pursued them closely. But the constable was an expert man and managed to get the wheel on again before the mob overtook him, and soon left them in the rear once more.
He drove on to the town of South Bainbridge, Chenango County, where he lodged Joseph in an upper room of a tavern; and in order that all might be safe for himself and Joseph, he slept during the night with his feet against the door, and kept a loaded gun by him (Joseph occupied a bed in the same room), and declared that if they were unlawfully molested he would fight for Joseph and defend him to the utmost of his ability.
On the following day a court was convened for the purpose of investigating the charges which had been made against Joseph Smith, Jun. On account of the many scandalous reports which had been put in circulation, a great excitement prevailed. My father, Joseph Knight, Sen., did not let the opportunity pass of doing all in his power to assist this persecuted boy. He went to two of his neighbors, James Davidson and John Reid, Esqs., respectable farmers who were well versed in the laws of their country, and retained them in behalf of Joseph during his trial.
The trial commenced among a crowded multitude of spectators. Among the witnesses called up against Joseph was one Josiah Stoal, a gentleman for whom Joseph formerly worked. He was examined as follows:
Question—”Did not the prisoner, Joseph Smith, have a horse from you?”
Q.—”Did he not go to you and tell you an angel had appeared unto him and told him to get the horse from you?”
A.—”No, he told me no such thing.”
Q.—”Well, how did he get the horse from you?”
A.—”He bought it from me the same as any other man would do.”
Q.—”Have you had your pay?”
A.—”That is not your business.”
The question being repeated, the witness replied, “I hold his note for the price of the horse, which I consider as good as the money; for I am well acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jun., and know him to be honest, and, if he wishes, I am ready to let him have another horse on the same terms.”
Mr. Jonathan Thompson was next called and examined.
Question—”Has not the prisoner, Joseph Smith, Jun., had a yoke of oxen of you?”
Q.—”Did he not obtain them from you by telling you that he had had a revelation to the effect that he was to have them?”
A.—”No, he did not mention a word of the kind concerning the oxen; he purchased them the same as any other man would.”
After several more similar attempts the court was detained for a time in order that two young ladies, daughters of Josiah Stoal, with whom Joseph had at times kept company, might be sent for, in order, if possible, to elicit something from them which could be made a pretext against Joseph.
The young ladies came and were each examined as to his character and conduct in general, but in particular as to his behavior towards them in public and private. They both bore such testimony in Joseph’s favor as to leave his enemies without a cause for complaint. Several attempts were made to prove something against Joseph, and even circumstances which were alleged to have taken place in Broome County were brought forward. But these Joseph’s lawyers would not admit against him, in consequence of which his persecutors managed to detain the court until they had succeeded in obtaining a warrant from Broome County. This warrant they served upon him at the very moment he had been acquitted by the court.
The constable who served this second warrant upon Joseph had no sooner arrested him than he began to abuse him. So heartless was he that, although Joseph had been kept all day in court without anything to eat since the morning, he hurried him off to Broome County, a distance of about fifteen miles, before allowing him to eat. The constable took him to a tavern where were gathered a number of men who used every means to abuse, ridicule, and insult him. They spit upon him, pointed their fingers at him, saying, “Prophesy! prophesy!” Thus did they imitate those who crucified the Savior of mankind, not knowing what they did.
The tavern was but a short distance from Joseph’s own house. He wished to spend the night with his wife, offering to give any bail desired for his appearance. But this was denied him. He applied for something to eat. The constable ordered him some crusts of bread and some water, which was the only fare he received that night. At length he retired to bed. The constable made him lie next to the wall. He then laid himself down, threw his arms around Joseph, as if fearing that he intended to escape; and in this manner was Joseph compelled to spend the night.
Next day he was brought before the magistrate’s court of Colesville, Broome County, and placed on trial. His friends and lawyers were again at his side, and his former persecutors were arrayed against him with the rage and fury of demons visible upon their countenances, and manifested in their actions. Many witnesses were again examined, some of whom swore to the most palpable falsehoods, just as those had done who appeared against him the previous day. But they contradicted themselves so plainly that the court would not admit their testimony. Others were called who showed by their zeal that they were willing to prove anything against him. But all they could do was to tell some things that they had heard somebody else say about him.
They proceeded for a considerable time in this frivolous and vexatious manner, when finally I was called upon and examined by Lawyer Seymour, who had been sent for specially for this occasion. One lawyer, Burch, was also retained on the prosecution. But Mr. Seymour seemed to be a more zealous Presbyterian, and seemed more anxious and determined that the people should not be deluded by any one professing godliness and not denying the power thereof.
As soon as I had been sworn, Mr. Seymour proceeded to interrogate me as follows:
Question—”Did the prisoner, Joseph Smith, Jun., cast the devil out of you?”
Question—”Why, have you not had the devil cast out of you?”
Question—”And had not Joseph Smith some hand in it being done?”
Question—”And did he not cast him out of you?”
Answer—”No, sir. It was done by the power of God, and Joseph Smith was the instrument in the hands of God on this occasion. He commanded him to come out of me in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Question—”And are you sure it was the devil?”
Question—”Did you see him after he was cast out of you?”
Answer—”Yes sir, I saw him.”
Question—”Pray, what did he look like?” (Here one of the lawyers on the part of the defense told me I need not answer that question.) I replied: “I believe, I need not answer you that question, but I will do it if I am allowed to ask you one, and you can answer it. Do you, Mr. Seymour, understand the things of the Spirit?”
“No,” answered Mr. Seymour. “I do not pretend to such big things.”
“Well, then,” I replied, “it will be of no use for me to tell you what the devil looked like, for it was a spiritual sight and spiritually discerned, and, of course, you would not understand it were I to tell you of it.”
The lawyer dropped his head, while the loud laugh of the audience proclaimed his discomfiture.
Mr. Seymour now addressed the court and in a long and violent harangue endeavored to blacken the character of Joseph, and bring him in guilty of the charges preferred against him.
Messrs. Davidson and Reid followed on Joseph’s behalf. They held forth in true colors the nature of the prosecution, the malignity of intention, and the apparent disposition of the prosecution to persecute their client rather than to do him justice. They took up the different arguments that had been brought forward by the lawyers for the prosecution, and having shown their utter futility and misapplication they proceeded to scrutinize the evidence which had been adduced, and each in his turn thanked God that he had been engaged in so good a cause as that of defending a man whose character stood so well the test of such a strict investigation.
In fact these men, although not regular lawyers, were, upon this occasion, able to put to silence their opponents, and convince the court that Joseph Smith, Jun., was innocent. They spoke like men inspired of God, while those who were arrayed against Joseph trembled under the sound of their voices and shook before them as criminals before the bar of justice. Disappointment and shame were depicted on the faces of the assembled multitude, who now began to learn that nothing could be sustained against Joseph.
The constable, who had arrested Joseph and treated him in so cruel and heartless a manner, came forward and apologized and asked his forgiveness for the ill-treatment he had given him. So much was this man changed that he told Joseph the mob had resolved if the court acquitted him that they would take him. tar and feather him, and ride him on a rail; and further, that if Joseph wished, he would lead him out another way, so that he could escape in safety.
After all the efforts of the people and court to sustain the charges brought against Joseph proved an entire failure, he was discharged and succeeded in making good his escape from the mob through the instrumentality of his new friend, the constable.
After a few days the Prophet, accompanied by Oliver Cowdery, came to my house, intending to confirm those who had been baptized. These servants of God had scarcely arrived when the mob began to collect, and so violent were they that it was thought best for Joseph and Oliver to make their escape lest they should suffer at the hands of our enemies. They left without taking any refreshment, the mob closely pursuing them, and it was ofttimes as much as Joseph and Oliver could do to escape them. However, by traveling all night, excepting a short time when they were forced to lie down and rest themselves under a tree, alternately watching and sleeping, they managed to get beyond the reach of their pursuers. 4
“Early Martyrs of the Church” as told by Daniel Tyler
In a discourse in Far West, Missouri, Joseph Smith said, “Many of the elders of this Church shall yet be martyred.”When the massacre took place at Brother Haun’s mill, I felt in hopes that that was the fulfillment of the prediction. Subsequently, when he and his brother Hryum were martyred in Carthage jail, I hoped that that would be the entire amount of those who would seal their testimony with their blood; but alas, several have since had their blood shed for the testimony of Jesus. 5
“Zion’s Camp Cursed” as told by Heber C. Kimball
Our brethren in Jackson County, Missouri, also suffered great persecution. In 1833, about twelve hundred were driven, plundered and robbed. Their houses were burned, and some of the brethren were killed. The next spring, Joseph gathered together as many of the brethren as he could, with what means they could spare, to go to Zion, to render assistance. We gathered clothing and other necessaries to carry to our brethren.
Our wagons were about full of baggage, etc. Consequently, we had to travel on foot. Every night before we went to bed, we united in our tent and offered up our prayers before the Lord for protection. This was done by all of the companies at the sound of the trumpet; and at the sound of the trumpet in the morning every man was upon his knees, each one in every tent being called upon in his turn to be mouth in prayer.
When we came to Belle Fountain, we discovered refractory feelings in Sylvester Smith. Finding quite a rebellious spirit in him, and to some extent in others, the Prophet declared that as a result they would meet with misfortune, difficulties and hindrances. “And you will know it before you leave this place,” he said, while exhorting them to humble themselves before the Lord and become united.
On the following morning when we arose, we found almost every horse in the camp so badly foundered that we could scarcely lead them a few rods to water. When Brother Joseph learned the fact, he explained that it was for a witness that God overruled and had his eye upon them. He then said that all those who would humble themselves before the Lord should know that the hand of God was in this misfortune, and their horses should be restored to health immediately. By twelve o’clock the same day the horses were as nimble as ever, with the exception of one of Sylvester Smith’s, which soon afterwards died. 6
“Counsel to Brother Haun” as told by Daniel Tyler
Everyone has probably heard or read of the terrible massacre at Haun’s Mill. Brother Haun owned a grist mill which took his name. From two to four days prior to the massacre, the citizens of the little settlement assembled in a mass meeting and appointed Brother Haun a committee of one to go to the city for advice to know what to do. The whole county was under arms and excitement. The Apostle David W. Patten, with Brothers Gideon Carter and O’Banion, had already sealed their testimony with their blood.
Brother Haun repaired to the city, and as the Prophet was but a private citizen and minister of the gospel, in the legal sense, he first went to Captain John Killian, of the Caldwell County Militia, informed him of his appointment, and inquired what he and his brethren should do.
“Move into the city,” was the prompt reply.
Brother Haun: “What! And leave the mill?”
Captain Killian: “Yes, and leave the mill.”
Brother Haun: “What! To the mob?”
Captain Killian: “Yes, to the mob.”
Brother Haun then left the Captain and went to Brother Joseph and asked him the same questions, and received the same answers.
“But Brother Joseph,” responded the mill-owner, “we think we are strong enough to defend the mill and keep it in our own hands.”
“Oh, well,” replied he, “if you think you are strong enough to hold the mill you can do as you think best.
“What more could he say? The Prophet’s method had always been when his counsel was asked to give it freely and leave parties to receive or reject it. He could not, nor would not if he could, take away people’s agency.
Brother Haun returned and reported that Brother Joseph’s counsel was for them to stay and protect or hold the mill. 7
“Forgiving Persecutors” as told by Daniel Tyler
Soon after the Prophet’s arrival in Nauvoo from Missouri prison, Brother Isaac Behunnin and I made him a visit at his residence. His persecutions were the topic of conversation. He repeated many false, inconsistent and contradictory statements made by apostates, frightened members of the Church and outsiders. He also told how most of the officials who would fain have taken his life when he was arrested turned in his favor on forming his acquaintance. He laid the burden of the blame on false brethren.
Those who testified against him through fear subsequently returned to the Church, some of them weeping and expressing a willingness that the Lord would remove them by death if that would remove the stain they had brought upon themselves be swearing falsely to shield themselves from the threatened death if they said aught in the Prophet’s favor.
One scene was particularly touching, and showed the goodness of the Prophet’s heart. A man who had stood high in the Church while in Far West was taken down with chills or ague and fever. While his mind as well as body was weak, disaffected parties soured his mind and persuaded him to leave the Saints and go with them. He gave some testimony against the Prophet. While the Saints were settling in Commerce, having recovered from his illness, he removed from Missouri to Quincy, Illinois. There he went to work chopping cordwood to obtain means to take himself and family to Nauvoo, and provide a present to the injured man of God if, peradventure, he would forgive and permit him to return to the fold as a private member. He felt that there was salvation nowhere else for him, and if that was denied him, all was lost as far as he was concerned. He started with a sorrowful heart and downcast look.
While on the way, the Lord told Brother Joseph he was coming. The Prophet looked out of the window and saw him coming up the street. As soon as he turned to open the gate, the Prophet sprang up from his chair and ran and met him in the yard, exclaiming, “O Brother, how glad I am to see you!”
He caught him around the neck, and both wept like children.
Suffice it to say that proper restitution was made, and the fallen man again entered the Church by the door, received his priesthood again, went upon several important missions, gathered with the Saints in Zion, and died in full faith.
When the Prophet had ended telling how he had been treated, Brother Behunnin remarked, “If I should leave this Church, I would not do as those men have done. I would go to some remote place where Mormonism had never been heard of, and no one would ever learn that I knew anything about it.”
The great Seer immediately replied: “Brother Behunnin, you don’t know what you would do. No doubt these men once thought as you do. Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that, you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.” 8
“Rebellion of William Smith” as told by Daniel Tyler
At the time William Smith and others rebelled against the Prophet at Kirtland, I attended a meeting “on the flats” where Joseph presided. Entering the school house a little before the meeting opened and gazing upon the man of God, I perceived sadness in his countenance and tears trickling down his cheeks. A few moments later a hymn was sung and he opened the meeting by prayer. Instead of facing the audience, however, he turned his back and bowed upon his knees, facing the wall. This, I suppose, was done to hide his sorrow and tears.
I had heard men and women pray—especially the former—from the most ignorant, both as to letters and intellect, to the most learned and eloquent. But never until then had I heard a man address his Maker as though He was present listening as a kind father would listen to the sorrows of a dutiful child. Joseph was at that time unlearned, but that prayer, which was to a considerable extent in behalf of those who accused him of having gone astray and fallen into sin, was that the Lord would forgive them and open their eyes that they might see aright. That prayer, I say, to my humble mind, partook of the learning and eloquence of heaven. There was no ostentation, no raising of the voice as by enthusiasm, but a plain conversational tone, as a man would address a present friend. It appeared to me as though, in case theveil were taken away, I could see the Lord standing facing His humblest of all servents I had ever seen. It was the crowning of all prayers I ever heard.
When Joseph arose and addressed the congregation, he spoke of his many troubles, and said he often wondered why it was that he should have so much trouble in the house of his friends, and he wept as though his heart would break. Finally he said, “The Lord once told me that if at any time I got into deep trouble and could see no way out of it, if I would prophesy in His name, he would fulfill my words.” He then said, “I prophecy in the name of the Lord that those who have thought I was in transgression shall have a testimony this night that I am clear and stand approved before the Lord.”
The next Sabbath his brother William and several others made humble confessions before the public. 9
James Henry Rollins
When the Saints were driven from Missouri, I was taken to Richmond. General Clark said, “You get down off the horse and go into the bull pen with the rest of them.” When I entered, I found forty or fifty brethren.
I was called the next morning, when court had convened. A pole was stretched across to keep us back from Judge King and his court. I stood close to this pole, at the back of Joseph and Hyrum and the lawyers, and Doniphan and Atchison. A man was brought in as a witness, who testified that I had burned his house. I spoke openly, as I stood behind Joseph and Hyrum, that he was a curly headed liar.
Joseph turned his head toward me and said, “Pshaw, Henry, don’t say anything.”
This saying caused some consolation in the court room.
James B. Bracken, Sr.
Soon after Joseph’s arrival in Far West, trouble commenced, and the same fall there were several thousand state troops sent to Far West with extermination orders from Governor Boggs. I never saw a nobler looking or acting man than Joseph Smith appeared on that occasion.
On one occasion when the mob was on us and some of the brethren did things they should not have done, such as appropriating to their own use things that did not belong to them, Joseph called us together and said that he felt to censure because of the acts of men. “Some,” he said, “are doing things that will cause the blood of the brethren to be shed.”
He referred to stealing.
I saw George M. Hinkle when he betrayed the Prophet, and took him into the camp of the mob. I also saw Joseph Smith a day or two later, when they brought him back and were taking him to Jackson County, when they said we would never see our Prophet any more. Many of the brethren tried to get to the wagon to shake hands with the Prophet but the mob would not allow that privilege, so the Prophet raised the wagon cover and put out his hand toward the brethren and said, “Good-bye,” and passed on in silence. 10
Benjamin F. Johnson
In 1839, after the Prophet escaped from Missouri and arrived at Nauvoo, I was with him. The people had flocked in from the terrible exposures of the past, and nearly everyone was sick with intermittent or other fevers, of which many died. The Prophet, too, had a violent sickness. As Emma was in no degree able to care for him, it wholly devolved upon me. Both day and night through a period of a little less than two weeks I was hardly absent from his room. Almost his only food was gruel, and about the only treatment he would accept was a flush of the colon with warm water, perhaps tinctured slightly with capsicum of myrrh, or a little soda and salt, both of which were prepared and administered by me in the room he occupied. If any sleep came to me, it was while lying upon his bed or sitting in my chair.
At this time, with so much sickness and death, a great fear began to prevail, with a desire in some to abandon Nauvoo, and with this feeling President Rigdon was greatly exercised, making grave complaints. The Prophet now arose in great power, like a lion, or as a giant refreshed with wine, shook off his own sickness, went to Brother Rigdon, rebuked his fearful and complaining spirit, and told him to repent or a scourge from the Lord awaited him. Those being sick he commanded to be healed, which they were. He then called for a skiff and crossed the river to Montrose, where he found Elijah Fordham, drawing apparently his last breath. By his command, life returned and he arose and was at once made whole. The Prophet then visited Brother Joseph B. Noble and other places, full of the power of God, healing the sick.
Soon after the Prophet’s recovery, I too came apparently nigh unto death through a violent attack of the fever, through which my comfort was kindly looked after by the Prophet. 11
. . .
I was present when the Prophet gave his last charge to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was in Nauvoo early in 1844, in the meeting of a council of the Prophet’s most trusted friends, including the Twelve, but not all of the constituted authorities of the Church. The Prophet stood before that association, and with great feeling and animation he graphically reviewed his life of persecution, labor and sacrifice for the Church and the kingdom of God, both of which he declared were now organized upon the earth, the burden of which had become too great for him longer to carry, that he was weary and tired with the weight he had so long borne. He then said, with great vehemence: “And in the name of the Lord, I now shake from my shoulders the responsibility of bearing off the kingdom of God to all the world, and here and now I place that responsibility, with all the keys, powers and privileges pertaining thereto, upon the shoulders of you, the Twelve Apostles, in connection with this council; and if you will accept this, to do it, God shall bless you mightily and shall open your way; and if you do it not, you will be damned. I am henceforth free from the blood of this generation and of all men.”
Shaking his skirt with great vehemence, he raised himself from the floor, while the Spirit that accompanied his words thrilled every heart.
At his last visit to us at Ramus, he preached with great animation to a large congregation and blessed nineteen children. He then turned to me and said, “Benjamin, I am tired, let us go home.”
My home being only a block distant, we soon reached it, and entering we found a warm fire with a large chair in fromt, and my wife sitting near with her babe, our eldest, upon her lap. Approaching her, I said, “Now, Melissa, see what we have lost by not going to meeting. Brother Joseph has blessed all the children in the place but ours, and it is left out in the cold.”
But the Prophet at once said, “You shall lose nothing” He then proceeded to bless our first born.
Then with a deep-drawn breath, as a sigh of weariness, he sank down heavily in his chair, and said, “Oh! I am so tired—so tired that that I often feel to long for my day of rest. For what has there been in this life but tribulation for me? From a boy I have persecuted by my enemies, and now even my friends are beginning to join with them, to hate and persecute me! Why should I not wish for my time of rest?”
He words and tone thrilled and shocked me, and like an arrow pierced my hopes that he would long remain with us. I said, as with a heart full of tears, “Oh! Joseph, what could we, as a people, do without you and what would become of the great latter-day work if you should leave us?”
He was touched by my emotions, and in reply he said, “Benjamin, I would not be far away from you, and if on the other side of the veil I would still be working with you, and with a greatly increased, to roll on this kingdom.”
Early on June 28, 1844, I heard of the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum. To attempt to delineate the feelings of woe and unutterable sorrow that swelled every heart too full for tears, I need not attempt. I stood up, dazed with grief, could groan but but could not weep. The fountain of tears was dry! “Oh God! what will thy orphan Church and people now do!” was the only feeling or thought that now burst out in groans.
I did not go to see their mutilated bodies. I had no wish to look into their grave; I knew they were not there, and the words of Brother Joseph began to come back to me: “I could do so much more for my friends if I were on the other side of the veil.” These sords, “my friends”—oh, how glad I was that he was my friend! These thoughts gradually gained the empire in my heart, and I began to realize that in his martyrdom there was a great and eternal prupose in the heavens. 12
“Always Upheld Constitution” as told by Joseph Smith Jr.
If there is trouble in the country, neither I nor my people made it, and all that we have ever done, after much endurance on our part, is to maintain and uphold the constitution and institutions of our country, and to protect an injured, innocent, and persecuted people against misrule and mob violence. 13
- Joseph Knight, Jr., Folder, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 1. ↩
- Letter of Addison Everett to Oliver B. Huntington, February 17, 1881, Young Woman’s Journal, II (November, 1890), pp. 76-77; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], pp. 14-15 ↩
- Levi Hancock, “Life story of Levi W. Hancock,” Brigham Young University Library, pp. 47-49, 73-82; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], p. 19 ↩
- “Newel Knight’s Journal,” in Scraps of Biography (Faith Promoting Series, Volume 10) (Salt Lake City, 1883), pp. 47-65; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], pp. 7-13 ↩
- Daniel Tyler, The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII (February 1, 1892), pp. 93-95; (February 15, 1892), pp. 127-128; (August 15, 1892), pp. 491-492; XXVIII (May 15, 1893), p. 332; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 51. ↩
- Heber C. Kimball, Woman’s Exponent, IX (August 1, 1880), p. 39; (September 15, 1880), p. 59; (November 1, 1880), p. 82; (November 15, 1880), p. 90; X (May 15, 1881), p. 186; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 35. ↩
- Daniel Tyler, The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII (February 1, 1892), pp. 93-95; (February 15, 1892), pp. 127-128; (August 15, 1892), pp. 491-492; XXVIII (May 15, 1893), p. 332; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 51. ↩
- Daniel Tyler, The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII (February 1, 1892), pp. 93-95; (February 15, 1892), pp. 127-128; (August 15, 1892), pp. 491-492; XXVIII (May 15, 1893), p. 332; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 52. ↩
- Daniel Tyler, The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII (February 1, 1892), pp. 93-95; (February 15, 1892), pp. 127-128; (August 15, 1892), pp. 491-492; XXVIII (May 15, 1893), p. 332; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 50. ↩
- The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII, (April 1, 1892), p. 203; Statement by James B. Bracken, November 6, 1881, Church Historian’s Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. ↩
- “They Knew the Prophet” [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 91 ↩
- They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 96 ↩
- Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 385-86 ↩