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HISTORY OF MORMONISM.
THE Mormons in the full tide of prosper-ity, rejoicing in their political triumph, vaunting themselves on the completeness of their organization, and the vigorous and efficient rule of their chief, failed to profit by the severe lessons of adversity which they had but lately experienced. Regard-less of the waning popularity of their leader, and the rumblings of dissatisfaction and hostility which were continually borne to their ears from the surrounding neigh-borhood, they still persisted in their way-ward and exceptionable policy, and still fur-ther aroused the prejudice and hatred of their enemies by their arrogant and absurd pretensions. They laughed at the high-toned denunciations of their enemies, and treated with hardy contempt the numer-ous gatherings and consultations of the Gentiles. The Prophet declared that when divine interposition should become necessa-ry, the Lord would commission his destroy-ing angels to scatter and destroy the boasted strength of the Anti-Mormons, in the same manner as the Assyrian host had annihila-ted by the supernatural visitation of the de-stroyer, ages before, for the vindication and protection of the Jews. Smith was too dig-nified, and withal too powerful, to concede anything to allay the prejudices of his neighbors. He had forgotten that only a few years since, those who now denounced him so heartily had provided for his neces-sities, and sympathized with his alleged wrongs, with sincere and unostentatious generosity. He would concede nothing to the outraged feelings of those who had but lately been his benefactors, but, on the con-trary, with base ingratitude, and trusting in his increasing strength, when admonished of his course, he scornfully pointed them to the superior discipline of his military, the completeness of their equipments, and the strength of their unwavering devotion to his person and his cause. In the mean time, the Missourians had not yet abandoned their quarrel with the Mormons; nor had they forgotten that their vengeance had been baffled by the escape of Smith, whilst an indictment was pend-ing against him for treason. They were determined that he should yet be arrested and compelled to answer for his numerous crimes. To this end a requisition was granted under the seal of the State of Mis-souri, requiring the executive of Illinois to deliver up to a commission appointed for that purpose the body of Joseph Smith, a "fugitive from justice." Upon the service this requisition, the Governor of Illinois, in obedience to the requirements, issued a war-rant for the arrest of Smith, and placed it in the hands of an officer for execution. It is hardly probable that any officer would have possessed sufficient hardihood to have attempted the arrest of the Prophet in his own city. It would have been impractica-ble, even if no resistance should be made; as a thousand cunning expedients would have been resorted to by the Mormons to conceal the Prophet and defeat the ends of justice. Fortunately, however, it was discovered that Smith was absent from Nauvoo on a “mission of love" in the northern portion of the State. The officer charged with the execution of the writ having ascertained Smith's absence from Nauvoo, proceeded in pursuit of him, and, without difficulty or opposition of any kind, secured his arrest at a small village on Rock river. Being in this manner deprived of the support of his friends, the Prophet had no choice left him but to accompany the officer with the ut-most apparent cheerfulnes, and the most jovial good feeling towards his captors, not, however, until he had contrived secretly to send an embassy with intelligence of his arrest to his friends at Nauvoo. This em-bassy travelled with the greatest possible speed; whilst the Missourians, having in custody the captured Prophet, seeing no possible chance for his escape or rescue, pro-ceeded at a more leisurely pace in the same direction. They did not, however, think it prudent to risk the prisoner among his friends in Nauvoo; as sufficient was known of the character of the Mormons for cun-ning and duplicity to render the escape of Smith absolutely certain. They according-ly determined to cross the Mississippi riv-er at Fort Madison, ten miles above Nau-voo. Whilst the Missourians were quietly progressing across the State, well satisfied with themselves and the result of the ex-pedition, with chivalrous generosity endeav-oring to cultivate the acquaintance of their prisoner, and tendering to him their offices, the Mormon emissary which Smith had dis-patched with the intelligence of his arrest, arrived at Nauvoo and communicated to the High Council the perilious situation of the Prophet. On the reception of this intelligence, the Mormons lost no time in fruitless lamentations. To allow the Mis-sourians to take the Prophet into their own State would indeed be signing his death-war-rant, or consenting to his murder, as all the fierce and relentless and undying hate of which human nature is susceptible had been aroused in the breast of the Missou-rian in his recent contest with the Proph-et. Even should he have been acquitted by the court in which his cause was impend-ing, the determination was general that the fanatic impostor escaping from legal justice should die by the hands of violence. It was uncertain to the Mormons what route would be taken by the captors of the Prophet; and to make assurance doubly sure—to guard against the possibility of escape, a steamboat owned by the Mormons was called into requisition, and was imme-diately dispatched by way of the Mississip-pi to Beardstown on the Illinois, whence they had reason to believe the Missourians would proceed by steamboat to St. Louis. At the same time they dispatched a strong detachment of the Nauvoo Legion north on the direct route to the point where Smith had been arrested. This last expe-dition had traveled about thirty miles when they fell in with the Missourians, and im-mediately surrounded them. The odds in numbers and equipments was so manifest-ly in favor of the Mormons, that resistance was out of the question. The Missourians vainly urged that they acted under legal authority and by the warrant of the Gov-ernor; that by virtue of this unquestioned authority they had made the arrest, and that duty required that they should make legal return of their prisoner to the proper authority of Missouri. The Prophet admit-ted the unquestioned validity of their pro-cess; nor had he any disposition to resist an authority which all good citizens were bound to respect; nor would he suffer his people—who, notwithstanding the contra-ry opinions expressed of them by their or-derly submission to the law—to rescue him from their custody, which, if illegal and wrongful could be redressed without any appeal to violence. But whilst lie submit-ted implicitly to the supremacy of the law, he claimed in common with every American citizen, its protection. Whilst he respect-ed the authority under which he had been arrested, he claimed the right under a writ of habeas corpus, to inquire into the legali-ty of his detention. And should it be found, upon a full, impartial, and satisfactory in-vestigation, that there was suffiicient cause to restrain him of his liberty, trusting in the purity of his past life and the righteous-ness of his past actions, he would cheerfully accompany them and confront his accusers in their own courts, where he hoped tri-umphantly to vindicate his innocence. To avail himself of his legal remedy, it was ne-cessary to visit Nauvoo, where he assured the Missourians a hospitable reception awaited them, and where the grievance of which he complained could be inquired in-to by the municipal court of that city, which had full authority to try writs of habeas corpus; and he hoped there would be no doubt entertained of its impartiality. However much the Missourians may have doubted the pledge of hospitality given by the Prophet, or whatever faith they may have placed in the impartiality of the tri-bunal to which the Prophet intended to appeal, prudence influenced them to accept the proposition made to them, and visit Nauvoo. Immediately after their arrival, the Pro-phet procured the issuing of his writ of ha-beas corpus from the municipal court of Nauvoo. This judiciary had been organ-ized under the provisions of the charter, and surrounded with circumstances of great dignity. It consisted of a presiding judge and eight associates. Smith himself had been chosen Chief Justice, and now his case was to be determined by his eight as-sociates, whom he claimed to be impar-tial, even when their chief was a party. At this time the congressional election was pending, and the candidates were then engaged canvassing the district with the most commendable zeal and industry.—The Whig candidate, a lawyer of great experience and some eminence in his pro-fession, was at Nauvoo, engaged in the laudable enterprise of "making his election sure," when Smith and the Missourians re-turned to Nauvoo. It was thought by the Prophet that the presence of this gentle-man on the trial of his “habeas corpus” would be of the utmost service to him, in attaching weight and dignity to the de-cision of his court. Should this tribunal be afterwards charged with stretching its jurisdiction beyond its statutory limits, he could refer to Cyrus Walker, the most tho-rough of jurists, who advised and insisted on the very decision to which the objection was raised. And if the learned, astute, and practical lawyer of forty years' expe-rience, honestly erred in his opinion, was it not possible that the men who constitu-ted the court, unacquainted with legal prin-ciples or the complicated forms of the law, might commit the same error, without be-ing amenable to the charge of corruption? Walker hailed the misfortune of the Pro-phet, and the necessity of his presence as his counsel, as the brightest omen of the success of his somewhat doubtful political campaign. This congressional district, prior to the emigration of the Mormons, was about equally balanced between the politi-cal parties; and the Mormon vote at this time invariably decided the contest by its influence in number. The candidate very plausibly argued, that if he, by his profes-sional learning, should give dignity and re-spectability to the Mormon tribunal, it was due to him that the Mormons should re-ciprocate his kindness and remunerate his labors, by granting to him their undivided support at the approaching election. After the preliminary arrangements were made, Smith, without further delay, was brought before the court over which he or-dinarily presided. The only question which appeared necessary to decide was one of jurisdiction. It was contended by the Mis-sourians that the Legislature never intended to grant to the municipality of Nauvoo any authority to issue writs of habeas corpus, excepting in cases where the cause of de-tention originated under the laws or ordi-nances passed by the city council; that in the case under advisement, the cause of detention arose under the State and nation-al laws, and could not be investigated by the tribunal before which, it was pending. This view of the case was combatted by Mr. Walker with admirable adroitness and plausibility. He had the confidence and sympathy of the court; and it was not won-derful that it should decide with the most harmonious unanimity in favor of its own, jurisdiction. It would hardly be supposed that this preliminary decision would have disposed of the merits of the case. That because the court had jurisdiction of the matter in question, that therefore the pris-oner should be discharged, without any in-quiry into the legality of his detention, would scarcely be considered a legitimate conclusion by any court in America. Yet such was the decision of the Mormon tribu-nal in the present case. The court, with-out any reference to the Governor's warrant under which the defendants justified, de-clared their opinion to be, "that General Joseph Smith be, and is hereby, legally and honorably discharged. To procure the discharge of his client under such circumstances, reflected but lit-tle credit on the professional skill of the counsel. But the Missourians were resolv-ed not to be baffled by the chicanery of the Mormons, and still determined to bring their fanatical leader to justice. For the accomplishment of this purpose, they im-mediately departed for Springfield, the seat of government, to procure, if possible, an-other warrant from the executive for the arrest of the Prophet. It now depended on Walker to counteract any statement made by the Missourians, and, if possible, prevent the Governor from granting any further process in the case. For this pur-pose he was sent to Springfield by Smith. In this mission Walker was completely successful. The Governor, on his repre-sentation, refused to grant a new warrant, and by the superior address and cunning of the Mormons, returned home from their fruitless expedition. This was an impor-tant trumph for the Prophet. He had thwarted the vengeance of his enemies with-out any appeal to violence. He had achieved his discharge from arrest "by due course of law." To render his triumph more complete, he obtained his discharge from imprisonment under the operation of a law passed by his own city council, and his freedom was pronounced by a court un-der his own control. In his contest with the people of Missouri, he had fought against the legally constituted authority of the State, and was denounced as a leader of a revolutionary and disorganizing mob; but now, by a masterly stroke of states-manship, he had changed his policy, and, by submission to the laws, had become the founder of the "law and order party" of the county of Hancock. In his "Missouri War," where force opposed force, the Pro-phet had been sadly the loser. But in his late contest, where cunning and chicanery were the weapons of his warfare, the most complete success was the result of his poli-cy. Through the influence and operation of the late decision of the Nauvoo court, as-suming jurisdiction of writs of habeas cor-pus, the city became a refuge for every fu-gitive from justice. The outlawed felon, escaping from the vengeance of the law, hurried to the City of Saints, and found a safe asylum and ample protection from the Prophet, who received him with kindness, and granted to him his countenance and support. (To be continued.)
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