Nauvoo Conspiracy

2003-4-23 06:57:00

My Friends,

Thanks Keith for posting one of the few articles on Joseph Smith I have not read. Very interesting. Joseph Smith is probably the most difficult man in history (where we have some writings available) to discover what is and is not true about him. You can't go by one negative account for it is amazing how one account will differ from another.

William Law is not the Snow White portrayed here. There is much evidence that he was the one seeking the life of Joseph rather than the other way around and perhaps this letter written many years after the fact reflects his own illusions back to him.

Law sought authority for himself and established a church that competed with Joseph's church which he called The True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The trouble was that few wanted to join.

He also headed up a conspiracy to kill Joseph Smith. A partial account is given below. After Joseph was killed, the only survivor (Willard Richards) who got a look at the mob, testified that William Law was among the killers. After this Law still had the nerve to offer himself as the new leader of the church, but was rejected and Brigham Young was chosen instead.

Later he joined the Reorganized LDS Church which ironically had the belief that Joseph Smith never believed or taught about polygamy, but was a creation of Brigham Young. This is curious because Law attempted to prove that Joseph Smith practiced it in secret.

Some of the incriminating things that Joseph was supposed to have told Law are difficult to believe when you consider that he kept many secrets from friends much dearer to him than Law ever was.

It is very difficult to find an unbiased account of the Prophet as the LDS church whitewashes him and his enemies make him sound worse than the devil himself.

The most unbiased book I have read on him is "Joseph Smith, the First Mormon," by Donna Hill. This is a good book to read if you desire to gain an accurate feel of the man. You can probably find a copy in your public library.

Here is the article I mentioned that gives another side of Joseph and William Law:


Conspiracy Of Nauvoo

Those who have read the life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, must be familiar with the fact that from his earliest boyhood he was ever the object of bitter persecution. Notwithstanding the numerous published accounts of mobbings, published accounts of mobbings, drivings, bodily injuries, aggravating accusations, mock trials, and murderous attempts upon his life which he endured, and with which the people are familiar, there are, no doubt, many events and trials yet hidden from the world in the bosoms of his most familiar friends, which may have caused him far greater agony than many of those with which the public are acquainted. Among these the following narrative may be classed, as it has never before been published, and the facts it contains may have had an important influence in hastening, if not really accomplishing, the death of the Prophet.

Early in the spring of 1844 a very strong and bitter feeling was aroused against Joseph, among many of his brethren in and around Nauvoo; and some who held high positions in the Church and were supposed to be his best friends, turned against him and sought by various means in their power to do him injury. Many murmured and complained, and some of the more wicked, even watched their opportunity to take his life, and were continually plotting to accomplish that end. At length this wicked feeling became so strong and general, among a certain class, that it was resolved to form an organization, or secret combination that would better enable them to accomplish their wicked purposes.

Accordingly a secret meeting was appointed to take place in the new brick house of William Law, Joseph's first counselor, on a certain Sabbath, and invitations to attend it were carefully extended to members of the Church whom it was thought were disaffected, or in sympathy with these wicked views and desires. Among those who received invitations to attend this meeting was Brother Denison L. Harris, now the Bishop of Monroe, Sevier County, Utah, then but a young man of seventeen years of age. Austin A. Cowles, at that time a member of the High Council, was one of the leaders in this wicked movement, and being a near neighbor and on intimate terms with Brother Harris, he had given young Denison an invitation to the secret meeting, and told him also to invite his father, but to be sure and not breathe a word about it to anyone else, as it was to be kept a profound secret. Denison was much perplexed over the invitation he had received, and certain things that Brother Cowles had told him; and while sitting on his father's woodpile, thinking them over and wondering what he had better do, another young man, named Robert Scott, who lived but a short distance away, came over, sat down on the log, and the two began to converse upon various subjects, such as generally engage the conversation of young men of their age. It seems they had been intimate companions for several years; and they had not conversed long before each discovered that the other had something on his mind which troubled him, but which he did not like to reveal. Finally, one proposed that, as they had always been confidants, they now exchange secrets, on condition that neither should reveal what the other told him.

Both readily agreed to this, and when each had told the cause of his anxiety, it proved to be the same--both had received an invitation to the same secret meeting. Robert Scott, having been reared by William Law, seemed to be almost a member of his family, and on this account had been invited by him to attend the meeting.

"Well, Den," said Robert, after a short pause, are you going to attend the meeting?"

"I don't know," replied Denison, "are you?"

"I don't know whether to go or not," said Robert, "suppose we go in the [2] house and tell your father of his invitation, and see what he says about it."

They entered the house and consulted for some time with Denison's father, Emir Harris, who was a brother of Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon. They informed him of his invitation to the same meeting, and told him many other things that Brother Cowles had told Denison. He decided to go at once and lay the whole matter before the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was then in Nauvoo, and ask his advice. He immediately went to Joseph's house, a distance of about two and a half miles, and informed him of the whole affair. Joseph listened with interest until he had finished, when he said: "Brother Harris, I would advise you not to attend those meetings, nor pay any attention to them. You may tell the boys, however, that I would like to have them go, but I want them to be sure to come and see me before the meeting takes place. I wish to give them some counsel."

Subsequent events showed the wisdom of Joseph in advising Brother Emir Harris not to attend the meeting and selecting young men to do the work he wished to have accomplished. Brother Harris returned and told the boys what Joseph desired them to do, and they readily agreed to comply with his request. Accordingly, on the next Sunday before the secret meeting took place, Robert and Denison called at the house of Joseph to learn what he wished them to do. He told them he desired that they should attend the meeting, pay strict attention, and report to him all their proceedings, at the first favorable opportunity. He moreover cautioned them to have as little to say as possible, and to avoid giving any offence.

They attended the meeting as desired. There were quite a number present, and the time was mostly occupied in planning how to get at things the best, and effect an organization. Strong speeches were also made against the Prophet, and many lies were told to prejudice the minds of those present against him. This portion of the proceedings was not a difficult task, for the element of which the audience was composed was only too susceptible to such evil impressions, and those who spoke were eminently successful in producing the desired impressions, and arousing the feelings of enmity toward the Prophet, that they might wish to use in accomplishing his overthrow. It seems that the immediate cause of these wicked proceedings was the fact that Joseph had recently presented the revelation on Celestial Marriage to the High Council for their approval, and certain members were most bitterly opposed to it, and denounced Joseph as a fallen Prophet, and were determined to destroy him.

The meeting adjourned to convene again on the following Sabbath, and the two young men were invited to attend the next one also, but were cautioned not to tell a soul of what had transpired at the first one. At the first suitable opportunity they called upon Joseph, related to him what had taken place, and gave him the names of those who had taken part in the proceedings. The leading members among the conspirators, for such they really were, were William and Wilson Law, Austin A. Cowles, Francis and Chauncey Higbee, Robert Foster and his brother, two Hicks brothers, and two merchants, Finche and Rollinson, who were enemies to the Church. After hearing their report and asking several questions, which they answered to the best of their knowledge, Joseph said: "Boys, I would like you to accept their invitation and attend the second meeting. But come to me again next Sunday, before their meeting convenes, as I may have something more to say to you before you go."

At the expiration of a week they again went to see Joseph, who gave them the necessary advice, after which they went to the meeting. This time the conspirators were still more vehement in their abusive remarks about Joseph. New crimes that he had committed had been discovered, and the old ones were much magnified. Their accusations were not only against him, but against his brother Hyrum and other prominent men in Nauvoo. There seemed to be no end to the wickedness of which these good men were accused, as most of the time until a late hour was occupied by different ones in denouncing and accusing Joseph and his friends of the most heinous crimes. Before the meeting adjourned, however, it was agreed that they should all endeavor to work the matter up as much as possible during the week, that something definite might be accomplished towards effecting a more complete organization without further delay. The meeting was to convene again on the following Sunday. As the boys had kept quiet and said nothing against any of their proceedings, it was supposed, of course, that they were in sympathy with the movement, and an invitation was accordingly extended for them to attend the next meeting.

As on the previous occasion, the young men watched a fitting opportunity of reporting to Joseph without arousing the suspicions of any that attended the meeting. He listened attentively to the recital of all that had taken place at the second meeting, after which he said: "Boys, come to me again next Sunday. I wish you to attend the next meeting also." The boys promised to do so, and left the room. They kept the meetings and their connection with them, however, a profound secret from the rest of their friends, and at the appointed time again went to the house of Joseph to receive their usual instructions. This time he said to them, with a very serious countenance: "This will be your last meeting; this will be the last time that they will admit you into their councils. They will come to some determination. But be sure," he continued, "that you make no covenants, nor enter into any obligations whatever with them. Be strictly reserved, and make no promise either to conspire against me or any portion of the community. Be silent, and do not take any part in their deliberations." After a pause of some moments, he added: "Boys, this will be their last meeting, and they may shed your blood, but I hardly think they will, as you are so young. If they do, I will be a lion in their path! Don't flinch. If you have to die; die like men; you will be martyrs to the cause, and your crowns can be no greater. But," said he, again, "I hardly think they will shed your blood."

This interview was a long one. Joseph's sensitive feelings were touched by the faith, generosity and love manifested by these young men in their willingness to undertake such a hazardous enterprise at his bidding. He blessed them and made them precious promises for their sacrifice, and told them if their lives were taken their reward would be all the greater. After leaving Joseph's house with his sincere wishes for their safety, the boys waited anxiously for the time of meeting to arrive. They fully realized the dangers into which they were about to plunge themselves, yet they did not shrink. They knew it was their duty, and they determined to attempt it at all hazards. They were now familiar with the names of the persons conspiring against Joseph, the object they had, in view, and many of their plans for accomplishing that object. Moreover, they were supposed by the would-be-murderers to be in perfect sympathy with all their hellish designs; and if, by any circumstance, they should arouse the suspicion that they were present at Joseph's request, or even with his knowledge, their lives in such a crowd would, indeed, be of little value. They determined to trust in the Lord and die rather than betray the Priesthood. Their feelings may perhaps be imagined as the time of meeting drew near, and they started off in the direction of William Law's house, where it was to be held. They certainly displayed faith that every young man in Israel should cultivate.

On arriving at the rendezvous they found to their surprise and discomfiture, that the entrance to the house was guarded by men armed with muskets and bayonets. After being scrutinized from head to foot, and carefully cross-questioned, they succeeded in passing the guards and gaining admittance. From this it will be seen that great care was taken to prevent any person from entering, except those whom they knew to be of their party, and ready to adopt any measures that might be suggested against the Prophet Joseph. On entering they found considerable confusion and much counseling among the members of the conspiracy. All seemed determined that Joseph should die, yet objections were raised by some to each of the plans proposed.

The Prophet was accused of the most wicked acts, and all manner of evil was spoken of him. Some declared that he had sought to get their wives away from them, and had many times committed adultery. They said he was a fallen Prophet, and was leading the people to destruction. Joseph was not the only one against whom they lied. His brother Hyrum and many of the leading men in Nauvoo were accused of being in league with him and sharing his crimes. In these councilings and plannings, considerable time was spent before the meeting was called to order, and anything definite commenced. The boys, however, followed Joseph's instructions, and remained quiet and reserved. This seemed to arouse the suspicions of some that they were not earnestly in favor of their wicked purposes, and some of the conspirators began to take especial pains to explain to the young men the great crimes that Joseph had committed, and the results that would follow if his wicked career were not checked, with a view to convincing them that their severe measures against Joseph were for the best good of the Church, and persuading them to take an active part with them in accomplishing this great good. The two boys, however, sat together quietly, and would simply answer their arguments by saying that they were only young boys, and did not understand such things, and would rather not take part in their proceedings.

As before stated, Brother Scott had been reared in the family of William Law, and the latter pretended great friendship for him on that account, and was very anxious to explain to him the object of the proposed organization, and induce him to join. He would come around and sit beside Robert, put his arm around his neck, and persuade, argue, and implore him to join in their effort to rid the Church of such a dangerous impostor. At the same time Brother Cowles would sit beside Brother Harris in the same attitude, and labor with him with equal earnestness. The boys, however, were not easily convinced. Still, in their replies and remarks, they carefully tried to avoid giving the least offense or arousing any suspicions regarding the true cause of their presence. They said they were too young to understand the "spiritual wife doctrine," of which Joseph was accused, and many of the other things that they condemned in the Prophet. Joseph had never done them any harm and they did not like to join in a conspiracy against his life.

"But," they would urge, "Joseph is a fallen Prophet; he receives revelations from the devil, and is deceiving the people, and if something decisive is not done at once to get rid of him, the whole church will be led by him to destruction." These and many other arguments were vainly brought forth to induce the boys to join them, but they still pretended not to understand nor take much interest in such things. At length they ceased their persuasions, and, things having developed sufficiently, they concluded to proceed with the intended organization.

An oath had been prepared which each member of the organization was now required to take. Francis Higbee, a justice of the peace, sat at a table in one end of the room and administered the oath to each individual separately in the following manner: The candidate would step forward to the table, take up a Bible, which had been provided for the purpose, and raise it in his right hand, whereupon the justice would ask him in a solemn tone, "Are you ready?" And, receiving answer in the affirmative would continue in a tone and manner that struck awe to the minds of the boys as they listened: "You solemnly swear, before God and all holy angels, and these your brethren by whom you are surrounded, that you will give your life, your liberty, your influence, your all, for the destruction of Joseph Smith and his parry, so help you God!" The person being sworn would then say, "I do," after which he would lay down the Bible and sign his name to a written copy of the oath in a book that was lying on the table, and it would be legally acknowledged by the justice of the peace.

The boys sat gazing upon this scene, wondering how intelligent beings who had once enjoyed the light of truth could have fallen into such depths of wickedness as to be anxious to take such an oath against the Prophet of God and his faithful followers. They also felt no little uneasiness concerning their own fate, and almost dreaded the moment when the last one should have taken the oath. At length that portion of the business was accomplished, and about two hundred persons had taken the oath. Among that number were three women, who were ushered in, closely veiled to prevent being recognized, and required to take the same oath. Besides doing this, they also testified that Joseph and Hyrum Smith had endeavored to seduce them; had made the most indecent and wicked proposals to them, and wished them to become their wives. After making affidavit to a series of lies of this kind, they made their exit through a back door. One of the women, whom the boys suspected as being William Law's wife, was crying, and seemed to dislike taking the oath, but did so as one who feared that the greatest bodily injury would surely follow a refusal.

After the oath had been administered to all but the two boys, Law, Cowles and others again commenced their labors to get them to take it, but met the same success as before. Arguments, persuasions, and threats were in turn used to accomplish their desire, but in vain. They exhausted their ingenuity in inventing arguments, lies, and inducements to get the boys to unite with their band. "Have you not heard," said they, the strong testimony of all present against Joseph Smith? Can a man be a true Prophet who would commit adultery? He is a fallen Prophet, and is teaching the people doctrines that his own imagination or lustful desires have invented, or else he received that revelation from the devil. He will surely lead the whole Church to destruction if his career is not stopped. We can do nothing with him by the law, and for the sake of the Church we deem it our solemn duty to accomplish his destruction and rescue the people from this peril. We are simply combining and conspiring to save the Church, and we wish you to join us in our efforts, and share the honors that will be ours. Come, take the oath and all will be well."

"Oh, we are too young," they replied, "to understand or meddle with such things, and would rather let others who are older and know more do such work. We came to your meetings because we thought you were our friends and gave us a kind invitation. We did not think there was any harm in it, but if you will allow us to go now we will not trouble any more of your meetings. Joseph Smith has never done us any harm, and we do not feel like injuring him."

"Come, boys," said another of the crowd, "do as we have done. You are young, and will not have anything to do in the affair, but we want you should keep it a secret, and act with us; that's all."

"No," replied the boys in a firm but cool tone, as they rose to leave, "we cannot take an oath like that against any man who has never done us the least injury." They would gladly have passed out and escaped the trouble they saw brewing for them; but, as they feared, they were not allowed to depart so easily. One of the band exclaimed in a very determined voice: "No, not by a damned sight! You know all our plans and arrangements, and we don't propose that you should leave in that style. You've got to take that oath, or you'll never leave here alive." The attention of all was now directed to the two boys, and considerable confusion prevailed. A voice in the crowd shouted, "Dead men tell no tales!" whereupon a general clamor arose for the boys to take the oath or be killed. Even their pretended friends, Cowles and Law, turned against them. "If you do not take that oath," said one of the leading members, in a blood curdling tone, "we will cut your throats." The looks and conduct of the rest showed plainly that he had spoken only what they were ready to execute. It was evident the mob were eager for blood. That moment certainly must have been a trying one, but it seemed that fear had suddenly vanished from the bosoms of the two boys, and they coolly but positively again declared that they would not take that oath nor enter into any other movement against the Prophet Joseph.

The mob was now enraged, as they thought they were betrayed, and it was with the greatest difficulty that the leaders succeeded in keeping them from falling upon the boys and cutting them to pieces. The leaders, however, were no less determined that the boys should die, but as the house in which the meeting was held stood but a short distance back from the street, they thought it better to be more quiet about it, lest some one might be passing and discover what was going on. Order was at last restored, when it was decided to take the boys down into the cellar, where the deed could be more safely accomplished. Accordingly, a guard, with drawn swords and bowie knives, was placed on either side of the boys, while two others, armed with cocked muskets and bayonets, at their backs, brought up the rear as they were marched off in the direction of the cellar. William and Wilson Law, Austin Cowles and others, accompanied them to the cellar. Before committing the murderous deed, however, they gave the boys one more chance for their lives. One of them said: "Boys, if you will take that oath your lives shall be spared; but you know too much for us to allow you to go free, and if you are still determined to refuse, we will have to shed your blood." But the boys, with most commendable courage, in the very jaws of death, once more rejected the only means that would save their lives.

At this juncture, when it seemed that each moment would end the earthly existence of these two noble young men, a voice from some one in the crowd, as if by Divine interposition, called out just in time to save their lives: "Hold on! Hold on there! Let's talk this matter over before their blood is shed!" and with great difficulty some of the more cautious ones succeeded in quieting those whose anger and excitement prevented them from weighing well what they were on the verge of committing, and considering the consequences that would inevitably follow. Thus the instantaneous death of the boys was prevented, while the crowd retired to the further end of the room and consulted earnestly together, in so low a tone, however, that the boys could not hear what they said. It was evident, however, that they were nearly equally divided in their views of the feasibility of putting the boys to death. Some appeared to be enraged and fully determined to shed their blood, while others were equally resolved to prevent the cruel deed. During the discussion the boys distinctly heard one of them say: "The boys' parents very likely know where they are, and if they do not return home, strong suspicions will be aroused, and they may institute a search that would be very dangerous to us. It is already late, and time that the boys were home."

This was a very important consideration, as well as a very unexpected circumstance in favor of the boys. Hope rose high in their breasts as the discussion continued, and one by one of the more excited conspirators was silenced, if not convinced, until at length the tide turned in favor of the boys, and it was decided that they should be released. Some openly, and many in their feelings, opposed this resolution, as they considered it as unsafe to liberate the boys to reveal all their plans, as to kill them and get them out of the way.

A strong guard was provided to escort them to a proper distance lest some of the gang might kill them before they made their escape. They placed a strict injunction upon the boys not to reveal anything they had seen or heard in these meetings, and declared if they did any member of the conspiracy would kill them at first sight. This caution and threat were repeated several times in a way that gave the boys to understand that they meant all they said, and would just as leave slay them as not if they suspected anything had been revealed by them.

Everything being ready, the boys started off in charge of the guard. Right glad were they to once more gain the open air with so good a prospect for their lives, and they breathed a sigh of relief and satisfaction when they were out of sight of the house in which they had endured such great peril. They took an unfrequented road down toward the Mississippi River which runs around one side of Nauvoo. Some of the guard were very much dissatisfied with the way the tables had turned, and, when they had got a safe distance from the house, they halted to consider if it would not be best to slay the boys on their own responsibility. They would gladly have murdered them if they could have done so with any hopes of having the deed remain undiscovered; but, after some discussion, they contented themselves by reiterating the cautions and threats that had been given to the boys before starting. They continued their march until within a few rods of the river, when they halted, and one of the guards said:

"Well, I guess we have gone about far enough, and had better turn back." Then turning to the boys, he continued, "Boys, if you ever open your mouths concerning anything you have seen or heard in any of our meetings; we will kill you by night or by day wherever we find you, and consider it our duty."

"Oh, don't fear on that account," replied the boys, anxious to allay their uneasiness, lest they still might take a notion to slay them and cast their bodies into the river, "we can see that it is greatly to our advantage and necessary to our peace and safety to keep silent concerning these things."

"I'm glad you've got sense enough to see it in that light," was the rejoinder in a tone that indicated his mind was somewhat relieved.

During this conversation, one of the boys looking towards the river, to his great surprise, saw a hand rise into view from behind the bank and beckon for them to come that way. The guards, after admonishing them once more to be silent, and telling them their lives depended upon their keeping the secret, turned to retrace their steps just as one of the boys, anxious to put them at ease as much as possible, said to his companion: " Let's go down to the river."

"Yes," returned the guard, evidently pleased with that arrangement; "you had better go down to the river."

The reader will readily understand that the meeting had lasted until a late hour in the afternoon and the conspirators had already detained the boys so long that they were afraid their parents and friends, some of whom perhaps knew where the boys had gone, would become anxious and begin to suspect foul play, and possibly might institute a search which would prove exceedingly disadvantageous to the conspiracy. The boys therefore very adroitly proposed to go to the river, so if they were found there it would be sufficient explanation for their long absence. The guards perceived the idea instantly, and it pleased them, for it indicated to them that the boys wished to keep the secret, and avoid being questioned too closely.

The boys started off on a run toward the river, but, lest the guards should watch them, and discover the presence of Joseph, whose hand it was they had seen above the bank, they directed their course to a point about a quarter of a mile beyond where Joseph was, knowing that he would follow them. On reaching the river, they stepped down the bank and there awaited the arrival of the Prophet, the guards returned to the meeting.

It seems that Joseph, knowing the danger into which the boys had gone, had become so uneasy at their long absence that he could no longer remain at home, so he and one of his body guard, John Scott, who was the brother to Robert, started out to see if they could discover what had become of them. Perhaps they suspected the boys had been murdered, and that their bodies would be thrown into the stream, as William Law's house, where the meeting was held, was but a short distance from the river. At all events they were there under the bank when the boys were liberated, and now glided around close to the water's edge to the point where the boys were awaiting them.

It was a joyful meeting; Joseph seemed delighted to see that the boys bad escaped with their lives. The party walked on to a point nearly opposite Joseph's store, where a board fence came down to the edge of the river, forming, together with the orchard trees and shrubbery, a suitable retreat where they could converse without any danger of being seen or heard.

"Let us sit down here," said Joseph. All four of them entered the secluded retreat, and when they were seated he continued: "Boys, we saw your danger and were afraid you would not get out alive, but we are thankful that you got off safely. Now relate to me all that you have witnessed."

The boys then gave him a complete account of all they had witnessed, and passed through; repeated to him the oath they had seen and heard administered to some two hundred individuals separately; gave him the names of all they knew that had taken the oath; in short they gave him a most accurate recital of all they had seen and heard.

Joseph and his companion listened very attentively, and, as the boys proceeded, a very grave expression crept over the countenance of the former, showing that a deep anxiety was preying upon his mind. When the recital was finished a pause of some length ensued. Joseph was very much moved, and at length burst out: "O, brethren, you do not know what this will terminate in!" But proceeded no further, for his feelings were so strong that he burst into tears.

In great agitation, Brother John Scott, who was an intimate and trusted friend of Joseph, sprang forward and throwing his arms around the Prophet's neck, exclaimed: "O, Brother Joseph! do you think they are going to kill you?" and they fell on each other's necks and wept bitterly. The scene is difficult to describe. The thought of losing their friend and Prophet by the hands of such a bloodthirsty mob was sufficient to wring their hearts; and those brave men who but a few moments before had fearlessly faced death, and scorned the proffered conditions on which their lives might be spared, now wept like children and mingled their tears with those of their leader.

Joseph was the first to master his feelings, and, raising Brother Scott's arms from off his neck, he said, in a deep and sorrowful tone: "I fully comprehend it!" He then relaxed into a solemn study, while his brethren anxiously watched the changes of his countenance as if they would read the thoughts and feelings that mere preying upon his heart. The scene was painful and impressive. Each moment they expected to hear him say that his work on earth was done and that he would have to be slain to seal his testimony.

After a long silence he finally continued: "Brethren, I am going to leave you. I shall not be with you long; it will not be many months until I shall have to go."

This remark still left them in doubt as to his future fate, but had such significance that Brother Scott again anxiously inquired: "Brother Joseph, are you going to be slain?"

Joseph, for some reason, evaded a direct reply, but continued in a tone that told too plainly of the sorrow he felt: "I am going away and will not be known among this people for twenty years or more. I shall go to rest for a season."

This reply did not clear away their doubts any more than the former one, but it was evident he intended to leave the people and keep hid more closely than he ever had done, or else, with prophetic vision, he discerned the final outcome of his enemies' efforts, and, through compassion, forebore to crush the spirits of his brethren by telling them plainly the whole truth.

Subsequent events leave us still in doubt as to the real purport of his words. The dark clouds of persecution from enemies without, fearfully augmented by traitors from within, grew so threatening toward the close of the Prophet's life, that he saw something must be done for the safety of himself and the people. He therefore conceived the idea of moving the Saints once more, and this time far beyond the cruel blasts of persecution, and seek shelter behind the barriers of the Rocky Mountains. He called for a company of volunteers to explore the great West and find the most suitable place for the Saints to settle. Quite a number volunteered and began to make preparations for the journey.

It is a well known fact that just previous to surrendering himself to be taken to Carthage, Joseph got into a boat and started across the river, evidently to evade his enemies. He intended to keep out of their hands until this company had procured a suitable outfit for such an undertaking, when he would have accompanied them. Some of his brethren, however, begged him not to desert the people in such a time of trouble and danger, and at their importunity he returned to Nauvoo, and we all know the result. He was induced to surrender himself to the officers of the law, was cast into prison, and there cruelly murdered by a bloodthirsty mob.

Perhaps in reply to Brother Scott's question, Joseph was revolving these plans in his mind and looking forward to the time when he and the Saints would be beyond the reach of persecution; it is now impossible to tell, but the events which followed rather indicate that he foresaw his death. However, he continued in great earnestness:

"They accuse me of polygamy, and of being a false Prophet, and many other things which I do not now remember; but I am no false Prophet; I am no impostor; I have had no dark revelations; I have had no revelations from the devil; I made no revelations; I have got nothing up of myself. The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. He said to me that unless I accepted it and introduced it, and practiced it, I, together with my people, would be damned and cut off from this time henceforth. And they say if I do so, they will kill me! Oh, what shall I do? If I do not practice it, I shall be damned with my people. If I do teach it, and practice it, and urge it, they say they will kill me, and I know they will. But," said he, "we have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction."

It will be seen from these outbursts of his soul what a conflict was going on in his mind, and the agony that he endured can only be imagined by those who knew his sensitive and generous spirit. Persecution and imprisonment from the hand of an enemy would be passed by almost unnoticed when compared with these murderous thrusts from the daggers of alienated friends. Death, to a man who was so familiar with the unseen world and the happiness to be enjoyed there, was stripped of its terrors. His fear of simply losing his life caused him little anxiety. But his whole soul was in the work which the Lord had given him to do, and such bloodthirsty opposition to a commandment of God among his brethren caused the greatest anxiety and grief. His greatest trials are no doubt hid deepest from our view.

The consultation lasted for a long time before they separated to their homes, and impressions were made on the minds of our two young heroes that will last forever. They got an insight into the life of the Prophet and the nature of the work he had to perform, that had never before entered their imaginations. Their love for him and the cause in which he was laboring was increased, and gladly would they have laid down their lives to have saved his.

Before separating, however, Joseph placed a seal upon the boys' lips, and made them promise that they would not reveal what had transpired that day to a living soul--not even to their own fathers, for at least twenty years. The object of placing this injection upon them no doubt was for their own safety, as their lives would probably have been taken if any of the conspirators should ever find but that any of their proceedings had been revealed. The boys kept their promise, and now, after a lapse of so many years, these important facts, which throw light upon many of the acts and sayings of Joseph Smith, which his brethren could never before fully understand, are revealed and placed with other important records in the archives of the Church.

The muse of history, too often blind to true glory, has handed down to posterity may a warrior, the destroyer of thousands of his fellowmen, and left us ignorant of the valorous deeds of real heroes, whose lot chanced to be more humbly cast; but in that day, when all men's actions will be revealed upon the housetops, we shall no doubt see the names of Denison L. Harris and Robert Scott among the world's heroes as stars of no small magnitude.

"Fact is stranger than fiction," and in value they cannot be compared. I respectfully submit the above narrative, which is a true recital of events that actually transpired. The manuscript has been carefully scrutinized by proper authorities who are satisfied of its authenticity and have approved its publication, as an important and accurate item of history connected with the Church. Horace Cummings.

(Taken from The Contributor, Vol. V, pp. 251-260.)