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Murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith - Carthage Jail - Carthage, IL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Chasing Blue Sky
N 40° 24.905 W 091° 08.360
15T E 657864 N 4475491
Quick Description: On June 27, 1844, at about 5 o'clock in the afternoon, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were assassinated by enemies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the county jail at Carthage, Illinois.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 12/10/2013 3:05:30 PM
Waymark Code: WMJNWD
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member cache_test_dummies
Views: 3

Long Description:

"The death of Joseph Smith, Jr. on June 27, 1844, marked a turning point for the Latter Day Saint movement, of which Smith was the founder and leader. When he was attacked and killed by a mob, Smith was the mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, and running for President of the United States. He was killed while jailed in Carthage, Illinois, on charges relating to his ordering the destruction of facilities producing the Nauvoo Expositor, a newspaper whose first and only edition claimed Smith was practicing polygamy and that he intended to set himself up as a theocratic king. Smith voluntarily surrendered to the authorities at the county seat at Carthage to face the charges that he was accused of. While he was in jail awaiting trial an armed mob of men with painted faces stormed the jail and shot him and his brother Hyrum to death. The Latter Day Saints view Joseph and Hyrum as martyrs.

Several of Smith's disaffected associates at Nauvoo and Hancock County, Illinois, joined together to publish a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor. Its first and only issue was published June 7, 1844.

In response to public outrage generated by the paper, the Nauvoo city council passed an ordinance declaring the newspaper a public nuisance designed to promote violence against Smith and his followers. They reached this decision after lengthy discussion, including citation of William Blackstone's legal canon, which included a libelous press as a public nuisance.

Under the council's new ordinance, Smith, as Nauvoo's mayor, in conjunction with the city council, ordered the city marshal to destroy the paper and the press on June 10, 1844. By the city marshal's account, the destruction of the press type was carried out orderly and peaceably.

Warrants from outside Nauvoo were brought in against Smith and dismissed in Nauvoo courts on a writ of habeas corpus. Smith declared martial law on June 18 and called out the Nauvoo Legion, an organized city militia of about 5,000 men, to protect Nauvoo from outside violence.

Illinois Governor Thomas Ford proposed a trial by a non-Mormon jury in Carthage, the county seat, and guaranteed Smith's safety. Smith reluctantly agreed and submitted to arrest, and was further quoted as saying "I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me — he was murdered in cold blood."

On June 25, 1844, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, along with the other fifteen city council members and some friends, surrendered to Carthage constable William Bettisworth on the original charge of riot. Upon arrival at Carthage, almost immediately Joseph and Hyrum were charged with treason against the state of Illinois for declaring martial law in Nauvoo, by a warrant founded upon the oaths of A. O. Norton and Augustine Spencer. At a preliminary hearing that afternoon the city council members were released on $500 bonds, pending later trial. The judge ordered Joseph and Hyrum Smith to be held in jail until they could be tried for treason, a capital offense.

The Smith brothers and their companions were held at the Carthage Jail, joined there by Willard Richards, John Taylor, and John Solomon Fullmer. Governor Ford left for Nauvoo not long after Smith went to stay at the jail. The anti-Mormon "Carthage Greys", a local militia, were assigned to protect Smith.

Dan Jones, who was present, relayed to Governor Ford several threats against Joseph Smith made by members of the Carthage Greys, all of which were dismissed by Ford.

Before a trial could be held, a mob of about 200 armed men, their faces painted black with wet gunpowder, stormed the jail in the late afternoon of June 27, 1844. As the mob was approaching, the jailer became nervous, and informed Smith of the group.

The Carthage Greys reportedly feigned defense of the jail by firing shots or blanks over the attackers' heads, and some of the Greys reportedly joined the mob, who rushed up the stairs.

The mob fired shots through the door and attempted to push the door open to fire into the room. Hyrum Smith was shot in the face, just to the left of his nose, throwing him to the floor. He cried out, "I am a dead man!" and collapsed. He died almost immediately.

Joseph Smith, Taylor, and Richards attempted to defend themselves. Taylor and Richards attempted to use walking sticks in order to deflect the guns as they were thrust inside the cell, from behind the door. Smith used a small pepper-box pistol that Cyrus Wheelock gave him when Wheelock visited the jail earlier that day. Three of the six barrels misfired, but the other three shots injured at least three of the attackers.

John Taylor was shot four or five times and was severely injured, but survived. Richards escaped unscathed as he was pushed behind the door when it was forced open.

After using all of the shots in his pistol, Joseph Smith made his way towards the window. As Smith prepared to jump down, Richards reported that he was shot twice in the back and a third bullet, fired from a musket on the ground outside, hit him in the chest.

Ultimately, five defendants—Thomas C. Sharp, Mark Aldrich, William N. Grover, Jacob C. Davis and Levi Williams—were tried for the murder of the Smiths. All five defendants were found not guilty by a jury. The trial jury was composed exclusively of non-Mormons after the defense counsel convinced the judge to dismiss the initial jury, which included Mormons. The defense was led by Orville Hickman Browning, later a United States Senator and cabinet member." SOURCE

Date of crime: 6/27/1844

Public access allowed: yes

Fee required: no

Web site: [Web Link]

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Chasing Blue Sky visited Murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith - Carthage Jail - Carthage, IL 4/23/2012 Chasing Blue Sky visited it