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Full text of "Message of the Governor of the State of Illinois, in relation to the dis turbances in Hancock County, December 23, 1844."

Illinois) SENATE. <Uru j^ssbm.. 

I .EGIS. \ ^^ ^ [g,, SESSiON. 




MESSAGE 



Q7"72. 1 w^ 



OF THE 



GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, 



IN RELATION 



TO THE DISTURBANCES IN HANCOCK COUNTY, 



DECEMBER, 23, 1844. 
X^d on the table, and 2,500 copies ordered to be printed for the use of the two houses. 



SPRING FrELD: 

TTaLTEBS &. WjEBEB, PoBLIC PklNTSSg, 

(6) 1844. 






Executive Department, 1 

Spnng^eW, December 23, 1844-5 

^VLlThf honor to lay before the Senate a special message in relation 
to the disturbances in Hancock county. 



I am most respectfully, &c. ^^„_^ 
THOMAS FORD. 



MESSAGE 



FROM 



THE GOVEHN OR, 

In relation to the disturbances in Hancock connlij. 



To the Honorable, the Senate, 

and House of Representatives : 
• As many versions of the disturbances during the last summer and fall, 
in Hancocif county, have gone abroad to the world, I have thought it 
proper to state in a solemn and authentic form, every thmg connected 
with those transactions which has come to my knowledge; and upon 
which I rely as the truth. 

On the seventeenth day of June last, a committee of a meeting of the 
citizens of Carthage, presented themselves to me, with i\. request that the 
militia might ba ordered out to assist in executing process in the city of 
Nauvoo. From the affidavits presented at the same time, I judged that 
an occasion had arisen of considerable difficulty and perplexity; and from 
their statements, I coula be of no other opinion than that great excite- 
ment existed in the minds of the people. I therefore determined to visit, 
in person, that section of country, and examine for myself (he truth and 
nature of their complaints; and being on the ground, 1 would be the better 
enabled to judge of what oughf to be done, under the actual circum- 
stances existing. Therefore, no order for the militia was made; and I 
arrived at Carthage on the morning of the twenty-first day of the same 
month. 

Upon my arrival I found an armed force assembled, and hourly increas- 
ing, under the summons and direction of the constables of the county, 
to serve as a posse comitatus to assist in the execution of process. The 
General of (hat Brigade, liad also called for the militia, en masse, of the 
counties of McDonough and Schuyler, for a similar purpose. Another 
assemblage to a considerable number, had been made at Warsaw, under 
the command of Col. Levi Williams. 

The tirst thing which I did on my arrival, was to place all the militia 
then assembled or which were expected to assemble, under military 
command of their proper officers. 

I next despatched a messenger to Nauvoo, informing the Mayor and 
Common Council of the nature of the complaint made against them; 
and requested that persons might be sent to me, to lay their 



side of the question before me. A committee was accordingly sent, who 
mtide such aclcriowlcdgments, that I had no difhcuity in concluding that 
the following ilicts were perfectly true. 

It appears thata certain portion of the citizens of Nauvoo became dissat- 
isfied wi'th the conduct of some of the leading men of the place; and estab- 
lished a newspaper press, as the organ of their peculiar views. Those 
persons were cx-conimunicated from the church called, "The Latter day 
8aints," but more familiarly known as the Mormon Church; and their 
printing; press and materials were destroyed, by order of the Common 
(Council. 

It appeared tliat previous to the destruction of the press. a very curi- 
ous tiial was had before tiic Common Council, which nsulted in a judg- 
ment of that body, that the press was a public nuisance and oiiglit to be 
abated. It does not appear that any person was tiied, or that any of 
the owners of the property had notice of the proceeding, or were per- 
mitted to defendin any particuhir. The proceeding was an cx-parte 
proceeding in rcn? against the property. No jury was called or sworn, 
and most of the witnesses were permitted to give their evidence, without 
hein.c under oath. It appeared further, that there existed no general or- 
dinance ol' the city, defining such a press to be a nuisance; and further, 
tliat the Common Council possessed legislative authority, only; and could, 
under no pretence, set in judgment as a court. 

The press, however, was declared to be a nuisance; and the Mayor was 
ordered to see it abated as such; and if necessary, to call to his assittancc 
a portion of the Nauvoo Legion. The Mayor made his warrant lo the 
Marshal of the city, who, aided by a portion of the Legion, executed his 
warrant, by destroying the press and scattering the type and other mar 
terials of the oflice. 

The owners of the property proceeded to Carthage and took out war- 
rants from before a justice of the peace, against the Mayor and members 
.if the Council and others engaged in the outrage, for a riol. Some of these 
■were arrested, but wcfe immc'diatcly taken before the fiiunicipal court of 
the city by writ of habeas corpus and discharged. It niipears that the 
city charter confers upon that court power to issue writs of h.ibeas corpus 
in all cases of imprisonment arising under the ordinances of the city; a 
provision manifestly relating to such imprisonment at might be the I'.on- 
scqucnce of violations of the city ordinances. But the Common Council 
passed an ordinance conferring upon the court, jurisdiction lo i^sue the 
writ in all cases of arrest and imprisonment in the city, by whatsoever 
authority the same might be made; thus drawing to that court, jurisdic- 
tion to discharge from every kind ofimprisontnent, whether made by State 
or federal authority; and makin_' it impossible to execute the laws there, 
unless permitted by the municipal court. 

The whole proceedings of the Ma\or, the Common Council, and the 
iM'inicipal Court, were ii regular and illegal, and not to be endured in a 
free counlry; though perhaps some apology might be made tor the court, 
as it had been repeatedly assured by some of the best lawyers in the State, 
who had been candidates for office, before that people, that it had full and 
competent power to issue writs of habeas corpus in all cases whatever. 
The Common Council violated the law in assuming the exercise ol judicial 
power; in proceeding exparte without notice to the owners of the prop- 
erty; iii proceeding against the property in rem; in not calling a jury; in 



not swoarinK all the witnesses; in not giving the owners of the property 
accused of being a nuisance, in consequence of being libelous, an oppor- 
tunit}' of giving the truth in evidence; and in fact by not proceeding by 
civil suit or indictment, as in other cases ol" libel. The Mayor violated 
the law in ordering tiiis erroneous and absurd judgment of the Common 
Council to be executed. And the municipal court erred in discharging 
tiicm from arrest. 

As this proceeding touched the iiborty of the press, which is justly dear 
to any republican people, it was well calculated to raise a great tinme of 
exciicmcnt. And it may well be qiiestioncd, whether years of misrepre- 
sentation by the most profligate newspaper could have engendered such a 
feeling as was produced by the destruction of this one press. ^- 

There were other causes, to heighten the excitement. Tnesc people 
had undertaken to innovate upon the established systems of religion. 
Their legal right to do so, no one will question. But all history bears tes- 
timony that innovations upon religion have always been attended by a 
temper of liosiiliiy in the public mind; which sometimes, has produced 
the most desolating wars; always, more or less of persecution. Even 
the innocent Quakers, the unolTcnding Shakers, and the quie*. and orderly 
Methodists, in their origin, and until the world got used to them, had 
enough of persecution to encounter. But if either of these sects had con- 
gregated together in one city, where the world could never get to know 
them; could never ascertain, by personal acquaintance, the truth or fal- 
sity of the many reports which are always circulated to the prejudice of 
such innovators: and moreover, if they had armed themselves; and 
organized into a military legion as the citizens of Nauvoo, and had 
been guilty of the high handed proceedings carried on against the heretic- 
al press, the public animo'it}'. and their persecutions, must have been 
greatly increased, in rancor and severity. 

In addition to these causes of excitement, there were a great many re- 
ports in circulation, and generally believed by the people; or at least, they 
pretended to believe them. I mention these reports and rumors, not be- 
cause I had any evidence of their truth, but because they had a serious 
influence in swelling the public excitement. 

It was asserted that Joseph Smith, the founder and head of the I\Ior- 
mon church, had caused himself to be crowned and anointed King of the 
Mormons; that he had embodied a band of his followers, called Danitcs, 
who were sworn to obey him as !.iod, and to do his commands, murder 
and treason not excepted; that he had instituted an order in the church, 
whereby those who composed it were jiretended to be sealed up to eter- 
nal life, against nil crimes, save the shedding of innocent blood or consent- 
ing thereto. That this order was instructed that no blood was innocent 
blood, except that of the members of the church; and that these two or- 
ders were made the ministers of his vengeance, and the instruments of 
an intolerable tyranny, which he bad established over his people, anil 
which he was about to extend over the neighboring country. The peo- 
ple atfected to believe, that with this power in the hands of an ui. scrupu- 
lous leader, there was no safety for the lives or prn|jerty of any one who 
(should oppose him. They affected likewise, to believe, that Smith incul- 
cated the legality of perjury, or any other crime, in defence, or to ad- 
vance the interests of the true believers; and that himself had set them 
the example, by swearing to u false accusation against a certain person, 



.6 

for the crime of murder. It Weis likev/ise asserted, to be a fundamental 
article of the Mormon iailli, that God had given the world and all it con- 
tained, to them as his saints; that they secretly believed in their right to 
ail tile goodly lands, farms, and property, in tlic country; that at present, 
they were kept out of their rightl'ul inheritance by force; that consequenl- 
Iv, there was no moral offence in anticipating God's good time to put them 
in possession by stealing, if opportunity offered; that in iact, the whole 
church was a community of murderers, thieves, robbers, and outlaws; 
that Joseph Smith had established a Bogus factory in Nauvoo, for the 
manufacture of counterfeit money; and that he maintained about his per- 
son, a tribe of swindleis, blacklegs, and counterfeiters, to make it, and 
put it into circulation. 

It was also believed, that Joseph Smith had announced a revelation 
from heaven, sanctioning polygamy, by some kind of spiritual-wife sys- 
tem, which I never could well understand; but at any rate, whereby a 
man was allowed one wife in pursuance of the laws of the country, and 
an indelinite number of others, to be enjoyed in some mystical and spirit- 
ual mode; and that lie himself, and many of his I'ollowers, hnd practiced 
upon the precepts of this revelation, by seducing a large number of 
women. 

It was also asserted, that Joseph Smith was in alliance with the Indians 
of the Western Territories; and had obtained over them such a control, 
that in case of a vrar, he could command their assistance, to murder his 
e'nemics. 

Ujion the whole, if one half of these reports had been true, the IMor- 
mon community must have been the most intolerable collectien of rogues 
ever assembled; or, if one half of llicH* were false, ihcy were the most 
maligned and abused. 

Fortunately for the purposes of those who were active in creating ex- 
citement, there were some truths which gave countenance to some of 
these accusations. 1 apprehend that it was sufficiently proved in a pro- 
ceeding at Carthage, whilst I was there, that Joseph Smith had sent a 
band of his followers to Missouri to kidnap two men who were vvitnesses 
against a member of his church, then in jail, and about to be tried on a 
charge of larceny. It was also a notorious fact, that he had assaulted 
and severely beaten an officer of the county, for an alleged non-perform- 
ance of his duty, at a time when that officer was just recovering from 
severe illness. It is a fact also, that he stood indicted for the crime of 
perjury, as was alleged, in swearing to an accusation for murder. It is a 
fact also, thatliis municipal court, of which he was chief justice, by writ 
of habeas corpus had frecjuently discharged individuals accused of high 
crimes and offences against the laws of the State; and on one occasion 
had discharged a person accused of swindling the Government of the 
United States, and who had been arrested by process of the federal courts. 
Thereby giving countenance to the report, that he ohstructtd the ad- 
ministiation of justice; and had set up a government at Nauvoo, inde- 
pendent of the laws and government of the Slate. This idea was further 
corroborated in the minds of the people, by the fact that the people of 
Nauvoo liad petitioned the last session of Congress for a territorial gov- 
ernment, to be established at Nauvoo, and to be independent of the State 
government. It was a fact also, that some larcenies and robberies had 



been committed, and that Mormons had been convicted of the crimes; 
and that other larcenies had been committed by persons unknown, but 
suspected to be Mormons. Justice, however, requires me here to say, 
that 1 have investigated the charge of promiscuous steahng, and find it 
to be greatly exaggerated. I could not ascertain that there were a grea- 
ter proportion of thieves in that community, than any other of the same 
number of inhabitants; and perhaps if the city of Nauvoo were compar- 
ed witb St. Louis, or any otiier Western city, the proportion would not 
be so great. I think it very probable, however, that the Mormons some- 
times erred in protecting members of their community f»om prosecution 
and punishment, who were accused of otiences, under a. belief that the 
accusation against them^ was a persecution of their enemies on ac- 
count of their religion. 

I have reason to believe too, that the report of an alliance with the 
Indians, was a groundless calumny. For, on a late occasion when fif- 
teen or twenty Potawatamie Indians passed Nauvoo in their canoes on 
their way to their hunting grounds in Iowa territory, it was at once asser- 
ted, that as many as two hundred Indians had come to the assistance of 
the Mormons; and were ready to scalp and murder their enemies; and this 
ridiculous slory was greedily swallowed by an excited people. 

Anottier cause of excitement, was a report, industriously circulated 
and generally believed, that Hyrum Smith, another leader of the Mor- 
mon church, had offered a reward for the destruction of the press of the 
'•Warsaw Signal," a newspaper published in the county, and the organ 
of the opposition to the Mormons, it was also asserted that the Mor- 
mons, scattered through the settlements of the county, had threatened all 
persons who turned out to assist the constables, with the destruction of 
their property and the murder of their families, in the absence of their 
fathers, brothers and husbands. 

But the great cause of popular fury was, that the Morm.ons at several 
preceding elections ban cast their vote as an unit; thereby making the 
fact apparent that no one could aspire to the honors or offices of the coun- 
try, v.'ithin the sphere of their inlluencc, without their approbation and 
votes. It appears to be one of the principles by which they insist upon 
being governed as a community to act as a unit in all matters of govern- 
ment and religion. They express themselves to be fearful that if division 
should be encouraged in politics, it would soon extend to their religion, 
and rend their church with seism, and into sects. 

This seems to me to be an unfortunate view of the subject, and more 
unfortunate in practice, as I am well satisfied that it must be the fruitful 
source of excitement, violence, and mobocracy, whilst it is persisted in. 
It is indeed unfortunate for their peace, that they do not divide in elec- 
tions, according to their individual preferences or political principles, 
like other people. 

This one principle and practice of theirs, has arrayed against them in 
deadly hostility, all aspirants for office who are not sure of their support, 
and all who have been unsuccessful in elections, with all their friends and 
influence. 

These also were the active men in blowing up the fury of the people; 
in hopes that a popular movement might be set on foot, which would result 
in the expulsion or extermination of the Mormon voters. For this purpose 



public meetings had been called; inflamatory speeches had been made; ex- 
aggerated and unfounded reports had been extensivel)' circulated; commit- 
tees had been appointed, and rode night and day to spread the reports, 
and solicit the aid ot" the neighboring counties. And at a public meeting 
at Warsaw resolutions were passed to expel or exterminate the Mormon 
population. This was not however, a movement which was unanimou;;- 
ly concurred in. The county contained a goodly number of inhabitants 
in favor of peace, or who at least desired to be neutral in such a con- 
test. These were stigmatised by the name of '•''Jack Mormons^'' and 
there were not a few of the more furious exciters of the people, who 
openly expressed their intention to involve them in the common expul- 
sion or extermination. 

A system of excitement and agitation was artfully planned and execu- 
ted with tact. It was planned and executed very much upon the prin- 
ciple adopted by the Jacobins in revolutionary France, It consisted in 
spreading reports and rumors of the most fearful character. As exam- 
pies: On the morning before my arrival at Carthage, I was awakened 
at an early hour, by the frightful report, which was asserted with con- 
fidence and apparent consternation, that the Mormons had already 
commenced the work of burning, destruction and murder; and that every 
man capable of bearing arms, was instantly vt^anted at Carthage, for the 
protection of the country. We lost no time in starting; but when we ar- 
rived at Carthage, we could hear na more concerning this story. Again, 
during the few days that the militia were encamped at Carthage, frequent 
applications were made to me, to send a force here, and a force there, and 
a force all about the country, to prevent murders, robberies, and larce- 
nies, which it was said, were threatened by the Mormons. No such 
forces were sent: nor were any such oirences committed at thjattime, ex- 
cept the stealing of some provisions; and there was never the least proof 
that this was done by a Mormon. Again, on my late visit to Hancock 
county I was informed by some of their violent enemies, that the larce- 
nies of the Mormons had become unusually numerous and insufferable. 
They indeed admitted that but little had been done in this way in their 
imm:diate vicinity. But they insisted that sixteen horses had been 
stolen by the Mormons in one night, near Lima in the county of Adams. 
At the close of the expedition, I called at this same town of Lima, and 
upon enquiry, was told that no horses had been stolen in that neighbor- 
hood, but that sixteen horses had been stolen in one night in Hancock 
county. This last informant being told of the Hancock story, again 
changed the venue, to another distant settlement in the northern edge 
of Adams. 

As my object in visiting Hancock was expressly to assist in the execu- 
tion of the laws, and not to violate them, or to witness or permit their 
violation; as I was convinced that the Mormon leaders had committed a 
crime in the destruction of the press, and had resisted the execution of 
process, I determined to exert the whole force of the State, if necessary, 
to bring them to justice. But seeing the great excitement in the public 
mind, and the manife-t tendency of this excitement to run into mobocra- 
cy, I was of opinion that before I acted, I ought to obtain a pledge from 
the officers and men to support mc in strictly legal measures, and to pro- 



tect the prisoners in case they surrendered. For I was determined, if pos- 
sible, that the i\>im3 oi' law should not be made the catspaw of a mob, to 
seduce these people to a quiet surrender, as the convenient victims of jiop- 
ular fury. I, therefore, called together the whole force llicn assembled at 
Carthage, and made them an address, explaining to them what 1 could, 
and what I could not, legally do; and also adducing to them various rea- 
sons why they as well as the Mormons, should submit to tiic laws; and 
why, if they had resolved upon revolutionary proceedings, their pur- 
pose should be abandoned. 'Ihc assembled troops s;eemed much pleased 
with the address; and upon its conclusion the officers and men unan- 
imously voted, witli acclamation, to sustain me in a strictly legal course, 
and that the prisoners should be protected from vioh nee. Upon (he 
arrival of additional forces from Warsaw, i\]cDonough and .Schu}ler, 
similar addresses were made, with the same result. 

It seemed to me that these votes (ully authorized me to promise the 
accused Mormons the protection of the law in case they surrendered. 
They were accordingly duly informed that if they surrendered ihey 
would be protected, and if I hey did not, the whole force of the State 
would be called out, if necessary, to compel their submission. A force 
of ten men was despatched with the constable to make the arrests and 
to guard the prisoners to Head Quarters. 

In the meantime, Joseph Smith, as LieutenantGeneral of the Nnuvoo 
Legion, had declared martial law in the city; the Legion w\as c.-sfnilled 
and ordered under arms; the members of it residing in the country, 
were ordered into town. The Mi-rmon settlements obeyed the summons 
of their leader, and marched to his assistance. Nauvoo, was one gi eat 
military camp, strictly guarded and watched; and no ingress or egress 
was allowed, except upon the strictest examination. In one instance 
which I'.ame to my knowlc'gc, a citizen of McDonough, who happened 
to be in the city, was denied the privilege of returning, until he made 
oath that he did not belong to the party at' Carthage; that he would re- 
turn home without calling at Carthage ; and that he would give no in- 
formation of the movement of the Mormons. 

However, upon the arrival of the constable and guard the .Mayor 
and Commop, Council at once siernilied their willingness to surrender, and 
stated their readiness to proceed to Carthage next morning at eighi 
o'clock. Martial law liad previously been abolished. The hour of eight 
o'clock came, and the accused failed to make their appearance. 'I he 
constable and his escort returned. The constable made no elTort to ar- 
rest any of them; nor would he or the guard delay their departure one 
minute beyond the time, to see whether an arrest could probably be made. 
Upon their return they reported, that they had been informed that the 
accused had fled and could not be found. 

1 immediately proposed to a council of officers, to march into Nauvoo 
with the small force then under my command, but the officers were of 
opinion that it was too small, and many of them insisted upon a further 
call of the militia. Upon reflection 1 was of opinion that the offi( ers 
were right in the estimate of our force; and the project for immediate 
action was abandoned. 1 wassoon infcrmcd however, of the conduit of 
the constable and guard, and then 1 was perfectly satisfied that a most 
base fraud had been attempted ; that in fact it was feared, that the Mor- 



10 

mons would submit; and thereby entitle themselves to the protection of 
the l.ivv. It was very apparent that many of the bustling active spirits, 
were afraid that there would be no occaMon for calling out an overwhelm- 
ing militia force; for marching it into Nauvoo; for probable mutiny when 
there ; and for the extermination of the Mormon race. It appeared that 
the constable and the escort were full) in the secret, and acted well their 
part, to promote the conspiracy. 

Seeing this to be the state of the case, I delayed any further call of 
the militia, to give the accused another oppoitunity to surrender; for 
iHd<'ed 1 was most anxious to avoid a general call for the militia at that 
critical season of the year. The whole spring season preceding, had 
been unusually wet. No ploughing of corn had been done, and but very 
little planting. The season had just changed to be suitable for plough- 
ing. The crops which had been planted, were universally sulfering ; 
and the loss of two weeks, or even of one, at that time, was likely to 
pr.)duce a general famine all over the country. The wheat harvest was 
a.Uo approaching; and if we got into a war, (here was no foreseeing 
whon it would end, or when the militia could safely be discharged. In 
addition to these considerations; all the grist mills in all that section of 
the country had been swept away, or disabled, by the high waters; leav- 
ing the inhabitants almost witiiout meal or flour; and making it impossi- 
ble then to procure provisions, by impressment or otherwise, for the sus- 
ten mce of any considerable force. I was totally without funds bflong- 
ing to the State, with which to purchase at more distant markets; and 
thi:re was no manner of ccrtaint}' that such purchases could have been 
made on the credit of the State, considering the embarrassed condition 
of tlie treasury. I was also desirous of avoiding the expense of a great 
armament; and of a war, the duration and expense of which, could not 
be tbreseen; if they could be honorably r.voided. 

In the meantime I made a requisition upon the officers of the Nauvoo 
Legion, for the surrender of the State arms in their possession. It ap- 
pears that there is no evidence in the Quarter Master General's Office, 
of the number and description of the arms with which the Legion had 
been furnished. On this subject I applied to Gen. Wilson Law, for in- 
formation. He had lately been the Major General of the Leg'on. He 
had seceded from the Mormon party; was one of the owners of the pro- 
scribed press; had left the city, as he said, in fear of his life; and was one 
of the party asking for justice against its constituted authorities. He 
was interested to exaggerate the number of arms, rather than to place it 
at too low an estimate. From his inlormation I learned that the Legion 
had received three pieces of cannon and about two hundred and fifty 
stand of small arms and their accoutrements. Of these, the three pieces 
of cannon and two hundred and twenty stand of small arms, were sur- 
rcndi-red. These arms were demanded because the Legion was illegally 
use I in the destruction of the press, and in enforcing martial law in the 
city, in open resistance to legal process, and the posse comitatus. 

1 di'manded the surrender also on account of the great prejudice and 
exrllemcnt which the possession of these arms by the Mormons, had al- 
wa.s kindled in the minffs of the people. A l.irge portion of the peo- 
ple, by pure misrepresentation, had been inade to believe that the Le- 
gion had received of the State as many as thirty pieces of artillery, and 



11 

five or six tiiousand stand of small arms, which in ail probabihty would 
soon be wielded for the conquest of the country; and for tlieir subjection 
to Mormon domination. I was of opinion that the removal of these arms 
would tend much to allay this excitement and prejudice; and in point of 
fact, although wearing a severe aspect, would be an act of real kindness 
to the jMormons themselves. • 

On the 23d or 24th day of June, Joseph Smith, the Mayor of Nauvoo, 
together with his brother Hyrum,and nil the members of the council, and 
ail others demanded, came into Carthage and surrendered themselves 
prisoners to the constable, on the charge of riot. They all voluntarily 
entered into a recognizance before the Justice of the Peace for their ap- 
pearance at court to answer the charge. And all of them were dis- 
charged from custody, except Joseph and Hyrum Smith, against whom 
the Magistrate had issued a new writ, on a complaint for treason. They 
were immediately arrested by ihe constable, on this new chaige, and re- 
tained in his custody, to answer it. 

The oveit act of treason charged against them, consisted in the alledg- 
ed levying of wir against the State by declaring martial law in Nauvco, 
and in ordering out the Legion to resist the posse comitatus. Their ac- 
tual guiltiness of the charge, would depend upon circumstances. If their 
opponents had been seeking to put the law in force in good faith, and 
nothing more, then an airay of a military force in open resistance to the 
posse comitatus, and the militia of the State, most probably would have 
amounted to treason. But if those opponents merely intended to use 
the process of the law, the militia of the State, and the posse comitatus, 
as cats paws to compass the possession of their persons for the purpose of 
murdering them afterwards, as the sequal demonstrated the fact to be, it 
ir.ight well be doubted whether they were guilty of treason. 

Soon after the surrender of the Smiths, at their request I despatched 
Captain Singleton with his company from Brown county, to Nauvoo, to 
guard the town ; and ^ authorized him to take command of the Legion. 
He reported to me afterwards, that he called out the LiCgion for inspec- 
tion; and that upon two hours' notice, two thousand of them assembled, 
all of them armed; and this after the public arms had been taken away 
from them. So, it appears that they have a sufficiency of private arms, 
for any reasonable purpose. 

After the Smiths hud been arrested on the new charge of treason, the 
Justice of the Peace postponed the examination, because neither of the 
parlies were prepared with their witnesses for trial. In the meantime 
he committed them to the jail of the county, for greater security. 

In ail this matter the justice of the peace and constable, though hum- 
ble in ofhce, were acting in a high and independent capacity, far beyond 
any legal power in iiie to control. I considered that the executive pow- 
er, could only be called in to assist, and not to dictate, or control their 
action; that in thehumbie sphere of their duties, they were as independ- 
ent, and clothed with as high authority by the law, as the Executive 
Department; and that my province was, simply, to aid them with the 
forca of the State. It is true, tiiat so far as I could prevail on them by 
advice, I endeavorpu to do so. The prisoners were not in military cus- 
tody, or prisoners of war; and I could no more legally control these offi- 
cers, than 1 could the superior courts of justice. 



12 

Some persons have supposed, that I ought to have had them sent to 
some more distant and friendly part of the State, for confinetnciit and 
trial; and that I ougiit to have searched iheni for concealed arms: but 
these surmises and suppositions are readily disposed of, by the fact lliat 
they were not my prisoners: but were the prisoners of the constable and 
jailer, under the direction of the Justice of the Peace. 

The jail in which thej^ were confined, is a considerable stone building; 
containing a residence for the jailer, cells for the close and secure con- 
finement of prisoners, and one larger room, not so strong, but more airy 
and comfortable than the cells. They were- put into the cells by the 
jailer; but upon their remonstrance and request, and by my advice, thej 
were transferred to the larger room; and there they remained utiti! the 
final catastrophe. Neither they nor I, seriously apprehended an attack 
on the jail through the guard stationed to protect it. Nor did 1 appre- 
hend the least danger on their part to escape. For I was very sure that 
any such an attempt would have been the signal of their immediate 
death. Indeed if they had escaped, it would have been fortunate for the 
purposes of those who were anxious for the expulsion of the Mormon 
population. For the great body of that people would inost assuredly 
have followed their prophet and principal leaders, as they did in their 
flight from Missouri. iSince their death, no one has arisen of influence 
enough to lead them in a similar manner. 

The force assembled at Carthage amounted to about twelve or thirteen 
hundred men; and it was calculated that four or five hundred more, were 
assembled at Warsaw. Nearly all that portion resident in Haiirock, 
were anxious to be marched into Nauvoo. This measure was supposed 
to be necessary, to search for counterfeit money, and the apparatus to 
make it; and also, to strike a salutary terror into tha Mormon people. 
by an exhibition of the force of the State; and thereby prevent future 
outrages, murders, robberies, burnings and the like, apprehended as the 
effect of Mormon vengeance, on those v/ho had taken a part against 
them. On my part, at one time this arrangement was agreed to. The 
morning of the 'i7th day of June was appointed for the march; and 
Gnlden's point, near the Mississippi river, and about equidistant from 
Nauvoo and Warsaw, was selected as the place of rendezvous. I had 
determined to prevail on the Justice to bring out his prisoners, and take 
them along. A council of oflicers however, determined that this would 
be highly inexpedient and d.ingerous; and offered such substantial reasons 
for their opinions, as induced nie to change my resolution. 

Two or three days' preparations had been made for this expedition. 1 
observed that some of the people became more and irioi'e excited and 
inflamatory, the further the preparations were advanced. Occasional 
threats came to my cars, of destroying the city and murdering or expel- 
ling the inhabitants. 

1 had no objection to ease the terrors of the people by such a display 
of force; and was most anxious also to search for the allcdged apparatus 
for making counterfeit money; and in fact to enquire into all the ch.^rges 
against that people, if I could have been assured of my command against 
mutiny and insubordination. But I gradually learned to my entire sat- 
isfaction, that there was a plan to get the troops into N;iuvoo, and then 
to begin the war, probably by some of our own party, or some of the 



u 



seceding Mormons, taking advantage of the niglit, to (ire on our own 
force, and then laying it on ihc Mormons. 1 wassatlsQed th.'it there were 
those amongst us fully capable of such an act; hoping that in the alarm, 
bustle, and confusion of a Militia camp, the truth could not be discover- 
ed, and that it might lead to the desired collision. 

I had many objections to be made the dupe of any such, or similar 
artifice. I was openly and boldly opposed to any attack on the city, 
aiilcss it should become necessary, to arrest prisoners legally charged and 
demanded. Indeed if any one will reflect upon ihe number of women, 
inoOensive young persons, and innocent childien, which must be contain- 
ed in such a city, of twelve or filleen thousaud inhabitants, it would seem 
to me his heart would relent arid rebel against such violent resolutions. 
Notiiing but the most blinded and obdurate fury, could incite a person, 
even if he had the power, to the willingness of driving such persons, 
bare and houseless, on to the prairies, to starve, suffer, and even steal, 
as they must have done for subsistence. No one who has children of his 
own, could think o( it for a moment. 

Besides this, if we had been ever so much disposed to commit such an 
act of wickedness, wc evidently had not the power to do it. I was well 
assured that the Mormons, at a short notice, could muster as many as two 
or three thousand well armed men. We had not more than seventeen 
hundred; with three pieces of cannon and about twelve hundred stand 
of small arms. We bad provisions for two days only; and would be 
compelled to disband at the end of thai time. To think of beginning »■ 
war under such circumstances, was a plain absurdity. 11 the Mormons had 
luccecded in repulsing oui' attack, as most likely w ould have been the case, 
the country must necessarily be given up to their ravages until a new 
force could be assembled, and provisions made for its subsistence. Or 
if we should have succeeded in driving them from iheir city, they would 
have scattered over the country; and being justly incensed at our bar- 
barity, and suffering with privation and hunger, would have spread deso- 
lation all over tlic country, without any possibility on our part, with the 
force wc then had, of prevenling it. Again, they would have had the 
■idvantage of being able to subsist their for:c in the field, by plundering 
their enemies. 

All these considerations were duly urged by me, upon Ihe attention of 
a council of officers, convened on the morning of the 2Tlh of June. I 
also urged upon the council, that such wanton and unprovoked barbarity on 
their part, would turn the sympathy of the people in the surrounding 
counties, in fuor of the Mormons; and thcrcal'ter, it would be impossible 
to raise a volunteer Militia force, to protect sucli a ])eoplc against them. 
Many of the ofticcrs admitted that there might be danger of collision. 
But such was the blind fury prevailing at the lime, though not showing 
itself by much visible excitement, that a small majority of the council 
adhered to the first resolution of marching into Nauvoo; most of the offi- 
cers of the Schuyler and McDonough Militia, voting against it; and 
most of those of the county of Hancock voting in its favor. 

A very responsible duty now devolved upon me, to determine whether! 
would, as Commander in Chief, be governed by the advice of this major- 
ity. 1 had no hesitation in deciding that I would not; but on the contra- 
ry, 1 ordered the troops to be disbanded, both al Carthage and Warsaw, 



14 

with the exception of three companies, two of which were retained as 
a guard to the jail, and the other was retained to accompany me to 
Nauvoo. 

The officers insisted much in council, upon the necessity of marching 
to that place to search for Hpparatus to make counterfeit money, and 
more particularly to terrify thi Mormons from attempting any open or 
secret measures of vengeance against the citizens of the county, who 
had taken a part against them or their leaders. To ease their terrors on 
this head, 1 proposed to them that I would myself proceed to the 
city, accompanied by a small force; make the iiroposed search, and 
deliver an address to the Mormons; and tell them plainly what degree 
of excitement and hatred prevailed against them in the minds of the 
whole people ; and that if any open or secret violence should be commit- 
ted on the parsons or property of thoso who had taken part ag linst them, 
thatno one would doubt but thatithad been perpetrated by then); and that 
it would be the sure and certain means of the destruction of their city 
and the extermination of their people. 

I ordered two companies under the command of Captain B. F. Smith, 
of the Carthage Greys to guard the jail. In selecting these companies, 
and particularly the company of the Carthage Greys, for this service, 
I have been subjected to some censure. It has been said that this com- 
pany had already been guilty of mutiny, and had been ordered to be 
arrested, whilst in the encampment at Carthage ; and that they and their 
officers were the deadly enemies of the prisoners. Indeed it would have 
been difficult to find friends of the prisoners, under my command, urdess 
I had called in the Mormons as a guard; and this, I was satisfied, would 
have led to the immediate war, and the sure death of the prisoners. 

Itis true that this company had behaved badly towards the Brigadier 
General in command, on the occasion when the piisonei's were shown 
along the line of the McDonough Militia. This company had been or- 
dered as a guard. They were under the belief that the prisoners who 
were arrested for a capital offence, were shown to the troops in a kind 
of triumph; and that they had been called on as a triumphal escort 
to grace the procession. They also, entertained a very bad feeling to- 
wards the Brigadier General who cominanded their service on the occa- 
sion. The truth is, however, that this company was never ordered to be 
arrested; that the Smiths were not shown to the McDonough tioops, as 
a mark of honor and triumph, but were shown to them at the urgent re- 
quest of the troops themselves, to gmtify their curiosity in beholding per- 
sons who had made themselves so notorious in the country. 

When the Carthage Greys ascertained what was the true motive in 
showing the prisoners to the troops, they were perfectly satisfied. All 
due atonement was made on their part, for their conduct to the Brigadier 
General, and tliey cheerfully returned to their duty. 

Although i knew that this company wei'c the enemies of the Smiths, 
yet I had confidence in their loyalty and integrity; because their Captain 
was universally spoken of, as a most respectable citizen, and honorable 
man. The company itself, was an old independent company, well armed, 
unifi)rmed and drilled; and the members of it were the elite of the mili- 
tia of the country. I relied upon this company especially, because it 
was an independent company, for a long time instructed and practised in 



15 

military discipline and subordination. 1 also had their word and honor, 
officers and men, to do their duty according to law. Besides all this the offi- 
cers and most of the men resided in Carthage; in the near vicinity of 
Nauvoo; and, as I thought must know that they would make themselves 
and their property, convenient and conspicous marks of Mormon ven- 
geance, in case they were guilty of treachery. 

1 had at first intended to select a guard from the county of McDonough; 
but the militia of that county were very much dissatisfied to remain; their 
crops weie suiicring at home; they were in a perfect fever to be dischar- 
ged; and I was destitute of provisions to supply them for more than a few 
days. They were far from home, where they could not supply them- 
selves. Whilst the Carthage company could board at their own houses, 
and would be put to little inconvenience, in comparison. 

What gave me greater confidence in the selection of this company as 
a prudent measure, was that the selection was first suggested and urged 
by the Brigadier General in command, who was well known to be utterly 
hostile to all mobocracy and violence towards the prisoners; and who 
was openly charged by the violent party, with being on the side of the 
Mormons. At any rate, I knew that the jail would have to bcguardeil as 
long as the prisoners were confined; that an imprisonment for treason 
might last the whole summer and the greater part of the autumn, before 
a trial could be liad in the circuit court; that it would be utterly impossi- 
ble ill the circumstances of the country, to keep a force there Iroma 
foreign county, for so long a time; and that a time must surely come, 
when the duty of guarding the jail would necessarily devolve on the citi- 
zens of the county. 

It is true, also, that at this time I had not believed or suspected, that 
any attack was lo be made upon the prisoners injail. It is true that I 
was aware that a great deal of hatred existed against them, and that 
there were those who would do them an injury if they could. I had 
heard of some threats being made, but npne of an attack upon the prisoners 
whilst in jail. These threats seemed to be made by individuals, not acting 
in concert. They were no more than the bluster which migiithave been 
expected; and furnished no indication of numbers combining for this or 
any other purpose, 

I must here be permitted to say, also, that frequent appeals had bpen 
made to me to m.ikc a clean and tliorough work of the matter by exter- 
minating the Mormons, or expelling them from the State. An opinion 
seemed generally to prevail, ttiat tiic sanction of Executive authority 
would legalize the act; and all persons of any influence, authority, or 
note, who conversed with me on the sulijert, frequently and repeatedly 
stated their total unwillingness to act without my direction; or in any 
mode except according to law. 

This was a circimistance well calculated to conceal from me, the secret 
machinations on foot.^ I had constantly contended again-t violent meas- 
ures, and so had the Brigadier General in command; and lam convinced 
that unusual pains were taken to conceal from boih of us, the secret 
measures resolved upon, it has been said, however, that some person 
named W lliams, in a public speech at Carthage, called for volunteers to 
murder the Smiths; and that I ought to have had him arrested. Wheth- 



IG 

er such a speech was really made or not, is yet unknown to me. I have 
heard liie report of it for the first time, within the last few weeks. 

Having ordered the guard, and discharged the residue of the militia, I 
imaiediateiy departed for Nauvoo, eighteen miles distant, accompanied 
by Col. Buckmaster, Quartermaster General, and Capt. Dunn's Compa- 
ny of dragoons. 

Alter we had proceeded four miles, Col. Buckmaster intimated to me, 
a suspicion, that ail r.ltack would be made on the jail. He slated the 
inatter as a mere suspicion, aiising from having seen two persons con- 
verse together at Carthage, with some air of mjstcry. I, myself, enter- 
tained no suspicion of such an attack; at any rate none before the next 
day, ill the afternoon. Bec.'use it was notorious, that we had departed 
from Carthage, with the declared intention of being absent, ;it least two 
days. 1 could not believe, that any person would attack the jail, whilst 
We were in Nauvoo; and thereby expose my life, and the lives of my 
companions, to the sudden vengeance of the Mormons, upon hearing of 
the death of their leaders. Nevertheless, acting upon the principle of 
providing against mere possibilities, I sent back one of the company, with 
a special order to Capt. Smith, to guard the jail strictly and at the peril 
of his life, uniil my return. 

We proceeded on our journey four miles further. By this time I had 
convinced myself that no attack would be made on the jail that day, or 
night. I supposed that a regard for my safety, and the safety of my com- 
panions, would |)revent ,an attack, until those to be engaged in it, could 
he assured of' our departure from Nauvoo. I still think, that this ought 
to have appeared to mo, to be a reasonable supposition. 

I, tlierefore, determined at tiiis point, to omit making the search for 
counterfeit money in Nauvoo; and defer, an examination of hW the oth- 
er abixninations charged on that people, in order to return to Carthage 
that same night, that I might be on the ground in person, in time to pre- 
vent an attack on the jail, if any had been meditated. To this end we 
called a halt; the baggage wagons were ordered to remain where thej 
were, until towards evening; and then return to Carthage. 

Having made tlie«e arrangernents, we proceeded on our march, and 
arrived at Nauvoo about four o'clock, of the afternoon, of the 27th day 
of June. As soon as no.ice could be given, a crowd of the citizens as- 
sembled, to hear an address, which 1 proposed to deliver them. The 
number present, has been variously estimated, from one, to five thou- 
sand. 

Jii this address I stated to them, liow, and in what, their functionaries 
had violated the laws, AI*o the many scandalous reports in circulation 
against them, and that these reports, whether true or false, were generally 
believed by the people. 1 distinctly stated to them the amount of hatred 
and prejudice, which prevailed every where .igainst them, and the causes 
of it, at length. 

I also told them plainly and emphatically, that if any vengeance should ' 
be attempted openly or secretly against the persons or property of the 
citizens, who hail taken part against their leaders, that the public hatred 
and excitement was such, that thousands would assemble for the total 
destruction of their city; and the extermination of their people; and- 
that no power in ths State would be able to prevent it. During this ad- 



17 

dresa some impatience and resentment, were manifested by the Mormons, 
at the recital of the various reports enumerated concerning them; which 
they strenuously, and indignantly denied to be true. They claimed to 
be a law abiding people; and insisted, that as they looked to the law alone 
for their protection, so were they careful themselves to observe its pro- 
visions. Upon the conclusion of this address, 1 proposed to take a vote 
on the question, whether they would strictly observe laws, even in oppo- 
sition to their prophet and leaders. The vote was unanimous, in favor 
of this proposition. 

A short time before sun down, we departed on our return to Carthage. 
When we had proceeded two miles, we met two individuals, one of them 
a Mormon, who informed us, that the Smiths, had been assassinated in 
jail, about five ot six o'clock of that day. The intelligence seemed to 
strike every one with a kind of dumbness. As to myself, it was perfectly 
astounding; and I anticipated the very worst consequences from it. The 
Mormons had been represented to me as a lawless, infatuated, and fanat- 
ical people, not governed by the ordinary motives, which influence the 
majority of mankind. If so, most likely, an exterminating war would 
ensue, and the whole land would be covered with desolation. 

Acting upon this supposition, it was my duty to provide as well as I 
could for the event. I, therefore, ordered the two messengers into cus- 
tody, and to be returned with us, to Carthagt . This was done, to get 
time to make such arrangement as could be made; and to prevent any 
sudden explosion of Mormon excitement, before they could be written to, 
by their friends at Carthage. I, also, despatched messengers to Warsaw, 
to advise the citizens of the event. But the people there, knew all about 
the matter, before my messengers arrived. They, like myself, anticipa- 
ted a general attack all over the country. The women and children were 
removed across the river; and a committee was despatched that night to 
Quincy for assistance. The next morning, by day light, the ringing of 
all the bells in the city announced a public meeting. The people as- 
sembled in great numbers, at an early hour. The Warsaw committee 
stated to the meeting, that a party of Mormons, had attempted to rescue 
the Smiths out of jail; that a party of Missourians, and others had killed 
the prisoners to prevent their escape; that the Governor and his party 
were at Nauvoo, at the time, when intelligence of the fact was brought 
there; that they, had been attacked by the Nauvoo Legion, and had re- 
treated to a house, where they were then closely besieged. That the 
Governor had sent out word that he could maintain his position for two 
days, and would be certain to be massacred, if assistance did not arrive 
by the end of that time. It is unnecessary to say, that this entire story 
was a fabrication. It was of a piece with the other reports, put into 
circulation by the anti-Mormon party, to influence the public mind, and 
call the people to their assistance, the effect of it, however, was, that 
by ten o'clock, on the 28th of June, between two and three hundred men, 
from Quincy, under the command of Major Flood, embarked on board 
of a steam boat, for Nauvoo, to assist in raising the siege, as they honest- 
ly believed. 

As for myself, I was well convinced that those, whoever they were, 
who assassinated the Smiths, meditated in turn, my assassination by the 
Mormons. The very circumstances of the case, fully corroborated the 
i> 



18 

information, which I afterwards received, that upon consultation of the 
assassins, it was agreed amongst them, that the murder must be committed 
whilst the Governor was at Nauvoo; that the Mormons would naturally 
suppose that he had planned it; and that in the first outpouring of their 
indignation, they would assassinate him, by way of retaliation. And that 
thus they would get clear of the Smiths and the Governor, all at once. 
They, also, supposed, that if they could so contrive the matter, as to have 
the Governor of the State assassinated by the Mormons, the public ex- 
citement would be greatly increased against them, and would result in 
their expulsion from the State at least. 

Upon the first hearing of the assassination of the Smiths, I was sensi- 
ble that my command was at an end; that my destruction was meditated 
as well as that of the Mormons; and that I could not reasonably confide 
longer, in the one party or in the other. 

The question then arose, what would be proper to be done. A war 
was expected by every body. I was desirous of preserving the peace. I 
could not put myself at the head of the Mormon force, with any kind of pro- 
priety; and without exciting greater odium against them, than already 
existed. I could not put myself at the head of the anti-Mormon party, 
because they had justly forfeited my confidence, and my command over 
tliem, was put an end to, by mutiny and treachery. I could not put my- 
self at the head of either of these forces; because both of them, in turn, 
had violated the law; and as I then believed, meditated further aggression. 
It appeared to me, that if a war ensued, I ought to have a force in which 
I could confide, and that I ought to establish my Head Quarters at a place 
where I could learn the truth, as to what was going on. 

For these reasons, I determined to proceed to Quincy, a place favora-, 
bly situated for receiving the earliest intelligence; for issuing orders to': 
raise an army if necessary, and for providing supplies for its subsistance. 
But first, I determined to return back to Carthage, and make such arrange- 
ments as could be made for the pacification and defence of the country. 
When I arrived there, about 10 o'clock at night, I found that great con- . 
sternation prevailed. Many of the citizens had departed with their fami-< 
lies, and others were preparing to go. As the country was utterly de- 
fenceless, this seemed to me to be a proper precaution. One company of 
t'le guard, stationed by me, to guaid the jail, had disbanded and gone 
home before the jail was attacked; and many of the Carthage Greys 
departed soon afterwards. 

Gen. Deming, volunteered to remain, in command of a few men, with 
orders to guard the town, observe the progress of events, and to retreat 
if menaced by a superior force. 

Here, also, I found Doct. Richards and Mr. Taylor, two of the princi- 
pal Mormon leaders, who had been in the jail, at the time of the attack j 
and who voluntarily addressed, a most pacific exhortation to their fellow 
citizens, which was the first intelligence of the murder, which was received 
at Nauvoo. I think it very probable, that the subsequent good conduct 
of the Mormons, is attributable to the arrest of the messengers; and to 
the influence of this letter. 

Having made these arrangements I departed for Quincy. On my 
r^ad thither, I heard of a body of militia marching tiom Schuyler; 
and another from Brown. It appears, that orders had been sent out in 



19 

my name, but without my knowledge, for the militia of Schuyler county. 
I immediately countermanded their march, and they returned to their 
homes. When I arrived at Columbus, I found that Captain Jonas had 
raised a company of one hundred men, who were just ready to march. 
By my advice, they postponed (heir march, to await further orders. 1 
arrived at Quincy on the morning of the 29th of June, about 8 o'clock; 
and immediately issued orders, provisionally, for raising an imposing 
force, when it should seem to be necessary. 

I remained at Quincy for about one month, during which time a com- 
mittee from Warsaw, waited on me, with a written request that I would 
expel the Mormons from the State. It seemed, that it never occurred to 
these gentlemen, that I had no power to exile a citizen; but they insisted 
that if this were not done, their party would abandon the State. This re- 
«luisition was refused, of course. 

During this time also, with the view of saving expense, keeping the 
peace, and having a force which would be removed from the prejudices, 
in the country, I made application to the United States for five hundred 
men, of the regular army, to be stationed for a time, in Hancock county, 
which was subsequently refused. 

During this time, also, I had secret agents amongst all parties, obser- 
ving their movements; and was accurately informed of every thing which 
was meditated on both sides. It appeared that the anti-Mormon party, 
had not relinquished their hostility to the Mormons; nor their determina- 
tion to expel them: but had deferred further operations until the fall season, 
utter they had finished their summer's work on their farms. 

I cannot lay before you theestimates, of the costs of these proceedings. 
I do not know that any estimates have ever been made by the proper 
ofHcers; and certainly none have been returned to me, except for the 
transportation of the Quincy Militia to Warsaw and back. And I do not 
know that any claim will be made by the men. 

I omit to say any thing of the manner of the murder of the Smiths; or 
of the persons by whom the murder was committed, because several per- 
sons are under indictment for their supposed share in the act; and it is 
not proper that I should say any thing, which might, possibly prejudice a 
fair and impartial trial. 

It has always appeared to me, however, that the persons who commit- 
ted the deed, ought to be made to answer for their crime. The honor of 
the State and the supremacy of the laws seemed to be compromitted; a 
trial ought to be insisted on, exactly as in other cases; and if the accused, 
have all the matters of defence and justification on their side, which 
they claim, they will be able to show them to the court. 

During the latter part of August and first of September last, I observed 
that the anti-Mormon paper, in Hancock county, renewed its attacks on 
the Mormons; every number of which, groaned with charges of larcenies 
and robberies and meditated outrages. By this fact, connected with my 
previous information, I was certain that the time was approaching, when 
a new attempt was to be made to expel the Mormons. In a short time 
afterwards, I ascertained that the officers of the militia in Hancock coun- 
ty, had appointed agrand military parade, at Warsaw to come oli" on the 
ySth day of October. Circulars were printed, signed by these ofHcers, 
and extensively circulated in Iowa Territory; in the State of Missouri; 



30 

and in the neighboring counties; inviting the militia in all those parts, to 
attend the parade; and to come prepared for a six days' encampment. 

Il was a!so extensively given out, that there was to be a grand wolf 
hunt; and that the Mormons and Jack-Mormons, were the wolves to be 
hunted. A large number engaged in getting up this movement, openly 
slated, that the object of it, was to make war on the Mormons. 

I could not hesitate, as to what duty required. The State had already 
been in danger of disgrace by a treacherous and cowardly murder. The 
Mormons had been peaceable, submissive and quiet, ever since the death 
of the Smiths; and contrary to general expectation instead of attempting 
to avenge themselves, either openly or secretly, had quietly, and patiently 
submitted to the slow operation of the laws, to redress their grievances. 

They were human beings; and citizens of the State. They had not 
been disfranchised by law. and were constitutionally entitled to protec- 
tion. 

From respect to the prejudices of my fellow-citizens, I declined to au- 
tliorise the legion to be called out, to suppress disturbances; but imme- 
diately issued a call for volunteers from the State militia. 

The call was answered by four or five hundred men. I requested Gen- 
eral Hardin, to take the command. He did so with alacrity; thereby 
exhibiting a patriotic devotion, in maintaining the supremacy of the law, 
even against the advice of many of his personal and political friends. 

We marched with as much alacrity as possible, and arrived in Hancock 
county, on the 25th day of October. The malcontents abandoned their 
design, and I believe all the leaders of it fled to Missouri. The Carthage 
Grey's fled almost in a body; and every one fled who, from his previous 
conduct, supposed himself obnoxious as a leader. 

During our presence in the county writs were taken out against three 
persons charged with the murder of the Smiths. They also fled to Mis- 
souri. As for myself, although I was determined from the first, for the 
honor of the State, that this murder should bo fully enquired into; and 
some of the guilty brought to trial; yet, I was never anxious to proceed 
with the full rigor of the law. I always insisted that the prosecutions 
should be limited to a few individuals, and I was utterly opposed to all 
Buch unnecessary harshness, as would excite sympathy in their favor. 

For this reason, I consented to advise the prosecuting attorney, to ad- 
mit them to bail and to agree to a continuance of the cause, if desired, by 
the defendants, Upon this arrangement being made, to which I was also 
advised by Gen. Hardin and Col. Baker, the persons accused surrender- 
ed themselves to the Sheriff. 

The militia were disbanded next morning and returned home, after a 
campaign of about thirteen days. 

The good effect of this expedition is, that in my opinion it has saved 
much bloodshed; and has prevented a more extensive contest than many 
persons anticipated, all over thatpartof tlie country: to which the peo- 
ple, from political considerations, grovi'ing out of an excited election then 
pending, were about to be made parties. 

It also, shewed to both parties in Hancock, that the people at a distance 
would not be quiet spectators of such a contest; but would rally around 
their constituted authorities to put it down. This is a fact, which one cf 
tha parties, before the experiment was tried, would not believe- They 



21 

supposed that the Mormons, were so odious and unpopular, that they 
might be massacred with impunity; that the people, generally would not 
have the will, nor the Government the power, to interfere to prevent it. 

I have not yet received the estimates of the costs of this expedition; but 
I am informed by letter from Maj. W. B. Warren, Aid de Camp to Gen. 
Hardin, who is preparing them, that the whole cost, will not exceed eight 
or nine thousand dollars. When they arc received, they will be laid be- 
fore you. 

1 have extended this account, lam afraid too far; and yet there is much 
to say, calculated to throw light, on these proceedings. 

As to the Nauvoo charters, about which so much has been said, among 
the people, the privileges therein contained, were much abused during the 
lifetime of the Smiths. Ordinances have been passed, inflicting a dif- 
ferent and more severe punishment, upon well defined crimes than what is 
provided by the laws of the State. The city council passed an ordinance, 
that no arrest should be made in the city, unless the writ for that pur- 
pose, should be first, approved and endorsed by the Mayor. They 
also, provided for a severe punishment, against any officer attempting 
such arrest, without this approval; and enacted that the Governor of the 
State should not pardon the ofiender, except by consent of the Mayor. 
And they, also provided that the Municipal court, should have a general 
power to issue writs of habeas corpus. These last ordinances are alleg- 
ed to have been passed to protect their citizens, from the continued perse- 
cutions of the Missourians. They may have been useful, in the lifetime 
of the Smiths to protect them; but since their death, there has been, and 
most probably will be, no call for the exercise of such usurped authority. 

The Nauvoo Legion also, has been a great offence to the people of this 
State. It has been represented to be a standing army, of four or five 
thousand, well drilled, and well disciplined forces. This legion was cal- 
led out for review, during my last visit there. I do not pretend myself to 
be skilled in military science; but it was the decided opinion of all the 
field oflacers, who accompanied mc, that this legion is in no wise superi- 
or to the common militia, and that in fact they were inferior to most of 
the militia in the State. 

I would recommend that the Legion be repealed; and that Nauvoo, 
should be formed into a brigade by itself. It will be impossible for the 
Nauvoo militia, and that of the surrounding country, to act together in 
peace for some time to come. 

I see very strong indications on the part of both Houses, to make an 
entire repeal of all these charters. I do not see how, ten or twelve thous- 
and people, can well do in a city, without some chartered privileges. I 
would advise, that all the obnoxious parts, of these charters should be re- 
pealed; and an ample provision made against any future abuses of power, 
thus leaving all the really useful parts of their city charter; and placing 
them upon grounds of some equality with other citizens. This is repub- 
lican and cannot be denied without injustice. 

I am very respectfully. 

Your obedient servant, 

THOMAS FORD. 

Springfield, December 17, 1844, 



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