A writer in the Quincy (Illinois) Whig-evi-dently intelligent and well informed-not justify-ing, nor palliating, the murder of the Mormon Joe Smith and his associates, but evidently thinking that the reaction in favor of the Mormon tribe is too strong, if not dangerous-gives the following ac-count of the principles and conduct of these people, which, well-considered, is calculated to subdue somewhat of that sympathy in their favor which the supposition of persecution in all cases naturally excites in the breasts of a just and humane people:
"The recent death of Joseph Smith and his brother, by lawless violence, while confined in jail, has been justly re-probated by the public voice, as well in the county of Han-cock, where it happened, as in the State of Illinois generally, and in other parts of the Union. No man, so far as my knowledge extends, has been found to justify that rash and guilty act, however much he might believe that the crimes of the prisoners bad deserved punishment at the hands of the law.
But it seems to me that public sentiment, as is often the case, is in danger of re-acting with so much force as to over-bear what, for want of a better term, I shall call public rea-son. In other words, our feelings have been so much revolt-ed by this instance of anti-Mormon violence, that we sym-pathize with the Mormons alone; we are strongly set against their opponents; we forget the past conduct of the Prophet and his followers; we lose sight of the causes which led to the catastrophe, and the Mormons are becoming in our eyes a peaceful, law-abiding people, while their dead leaders as-sume the semblance of innocent and martyred victims. This is by no means an unusual revulsion in public feeling. But it is necessary to a just understanding of a question, which may at no distant day be of the highest importance to our-selves, that we arrest this current of sympathy, and calmly examine the actual position of things, before we are hurried away from the ground we have heretofore occupied.
I need not review the history of the Mormons in this and other States. From the many and conflicting statements published, enough may be gathered to satisfy us of these facts: that they have every where been troublesome neigh-bors; that wherever they have established themselves they have bred difficulties where none before existed; and that, taken as a body of people, especially if collected in strong set-tlements, they have always manifested a disposition to resist or evade the general laws of the State when applied to restrain their action. Such is the testimony against them in other States, and such is our own experience of them in Illinois.
The causes of this insubordination and turbulence on their part are neither obscure nor uncertain; they are to be found in their peculiar tenets of faith and principles of Government. Other religious sects are as enthusiastic as the Mormons, as devoted to the worship of the creed of their choice; but they form no distinct, civil, or political community; they are all (however variant from one another in religious opinion) citi-zens of a common Government, and all recognise the su-preme obligations of the Constitutions, State and Federal, and the laws made in pursuance thereof. Each man looks to those laws as the measure of his duties and his rights, and is prepared to sustain their authority against all who op-pose it.
But the Mormons have heretofore proceeded upon a dif-ferent system. The aim and object of him who called him-self their prophet was to collect about him a people devoted to his will and obedient to all his commands. To this end he pretended to be inspired by God himself, to be favored with frequent revelations, and to announce to his followers, from time to time, the commands of the great Jehovah. To Make his influence over them more direct and powerful, they were gathered, as much as possible, into communities, sepa-rate and distinct from other citizens; and, if people of a dif-ferent persuasion have settled among them, they have been too few and weak to make head against the authority of the prophet. The Mormons, thus associated and thus taught, have been the blind, fanatical, unreasoning followers of an arch impostor. They have fed his luxury with their contri-butions of money and property. They have pampered his pride and lust of power by their obedience and adulation. And, more than all, they have set up his will as paramount to the laws of the land, and have shown themselves on more than one occasion ready to support him by force in his oppo-sition thereto. What else indeed, could be expected? The word of God, say they, is of far greater obligation than the word of man. God speaks by the mouth of Joseph-man speaks by human laws. Shall we not, therefore, rather obey God than man?
Time will not permit me to exhibit the many illustrations of what I have stated above, which will readily occur to all who are familiar with the conduct of these people in Hancock county for the last three or four years. It is true that the grant of powers in the charter of the city of Nauvoo has fur-nished them with a pretext for some of the usurpations and encroachments of which they have been guilty. But it was but a pretext, and a flimsy one; it could not and did not de-ceive the designing men, who used it as a cloak for deliberate tyranny; it could not have served the purpose of deceiving any community not enslaved by the debasing influence of superstition; nor was that city charter necessary for the ac-complishment of these purposes. Had that pretext been wanting, others would have been found. The ground work existed in the hearts of the deluded people; it was easy for the hand of their ruler to raise upon it his edifice of fraud, vice, and tyranny.
Who does not know the fact that one short year since Jo-seph Smith, when arrested by the authority of the Governor of this State, upon a demand made by the Governor of Mis-souri, discharged himself from custody by a mock trial upon habeas corpus before his creatures, the City Council of Nau-voo, he himself being President of that same City Council, as Mayor of the city!
Who does not know that this successful defiance of the jaws of the State, and of process emanating from its highest Executive authority, is but one instance out of many? Let me enumerate a few of them. The authorities of Nauvoo have assumed and exercised the power-
To establish a Recorder's office for the record of deeds, in-dependent of that provided for by the State laws in every county.
To grant marriage licenses, independently of the State laws requiring them to issue from the Clerk of the County Com-missioners' Court.
To try cases of slander and causes the jurisdiction whereof is vested exclusively in the Circuit Courts of the State.
To punish by fine and imprisonment persons guilty of speaking words disrespectful of Joseph Smith, and other al-leged offences, which, if cognizable any where, belonged ex-clusively to the Circuit Courts.
To arrest and annoy peaceable visiters to the city, by vex-atious confinement and examination, under pretence of regu-lating its police.
To discharge persons from arrest upon civil or criminal pro-cess from any court of the State, by writs of habeas corpus emanating from the City Council,
And they passed an ordinance prohibiting any civil officer to serve process from the State Courts in Nauvoo, unless it was countersigned, by their Mayor, under penalty of fine and imprisonment, which the Governor of the State is for-bidden to remit by his pardon!
But, not to fatigue your readers with further enumerations, I will proceed briefly to relate the facts which led to the late occurrences in Hancock county, and from one example they may learn all the rest.
Certain seceding Mormons, for reasons satisfactory to themselves, disavowed the authority of their late master a few weeks ago, and set up a newspaper in Nauvoo, which was designed to expose his hypocrisy and vices. The Pro-phet, in his capacity as Mayor, called together the City Council, and took into consideration this enterprise of the seceders, and the first number of the paper which had then been published. It was resolved by the City Council and the Mayor that the paper was a public nuisance, and ought to be abated, and forthwith a warrant was issued to the City Marshal to take a sufficient force with him and to destroy the press and type. That officer obeyed his instructions, and on the same day, by force, broke into the office, broke up the press, and scattered the type into the street.
One of the proprietors of the press went immediately to Carthage, the county seat, and complained on oath against the Mayor, the City Council, the Marshal, and others con-cerned, for a riot in the destruction of his press. Upon his affidavit a warrant was issued to a constable, who went to serve it, attended by only one individual. He served it first upon the two Smiths, and afterwards upon the others. The Prophet at first tried threats and intimidation against the constable, swore great oaths that he would lose the last drop of his blood rather than go to Carthage, and finally resorted to the never-failing habeas corpus. He issued writs for the other defendants; some of them (being the City Council) issued a writ for him: they tried each other and discharged each other; and the constable was dismissed by the city mar-shal (himself a defendant) with the assurance that, whether they were discharged or not, he should never take them out of that city.
The constable reported to his fellow citizens in other parts of the county the resistance which he had met with, and called upon them for a force sufficient to enable him to exe-cute the writ. It was known long before that Nauvoo boasted a large force under military organization, which was reported to be well supplied with arms. It was therefore necessary to make serious preparations for the collision. The volunteer companies of the county were called out; new companies raised and organized; aid was solicited from other counties; arms, ammunition, and provisions were collected, and mes-sengers were despatched to the Governor, to inform him of the state of things and ask his interference. The Mormons, on their part, were not idle. Their friends were collected from the settlements into Nauvoo; the troops were daily pa-raded and drilled; guards were stationed about the city, who permitted no one to pass in or out without leave of the city authorities; means and munitions of war were procured as fast as possible, and the whole city was put under strict mili-tary regulations, and, as many say, martial law was pro-claimed. Nay, even after the Governor arrived in the coun-ty, the United States mail was stopped and sent back some distance, and detained a considerable time, until leave to pro-ceed was given by the Mormon authorities.
Such was the state of affairs when the Governor arrived in the county. He recognised the propriety of the action of the citizens, and, after a short correspondence, demanded of the Prophet and his co-defendants an unconditional surrender of themselves to the constable who had served the writ. After some shuffling for two or three days, the accused finally came in and gave themselves up on a promise of protection from violence, which the Governor gave them, and which he re-ceived an assurance of from the troops. After their surren-der upon this charge, which they acknowledged, and for which they gave bail, the two Smiths were detained upon the further charge of treason; and, the trial being postponed in order to procure witnesses, they were committed to jail for safe-keeping.
There is no doubt but that some evil disposed persons were during all this time engaged in stirring up the wrath of the people against the two Smiths, and endeavoring to incite them to violence. But there is reason to believe, from the course of events, that such a result might not have taken place but for one or two unlucky circumstances. The Gov-ernor had ordered the troops at Warsaw and Carthage to rendezvous on Thursday, the 27th June, at Golden's Point, and to march upon Nauvoo. His object I do not know, but I presume it was to make a display of force to the Mormons, and to convince them of their incapacity to resist the arms of the State. On the morning of that day, however, appre-hending disturbances if he marched so large a force into the city, he ordered all the troops to be disbanded, with the ex-ception of some 200 men, part of whom were in Nauvoo and a part in Carthage. With one company of these he set out himself for Nauvoo.
Upon the same day an attempt was detected to convey into the jail a bundle containing clothes, which were evidently intended to disguise the prisoners: and the report became general that a rescue and escape was contemplated. Doubt-less the disbanding of the troops was also urged as a proof of the Governor's connivance at it. These were topics well calculated to inflame the minds of men, already strongly ex-cited by the annoyance and tyranny of the Mormon rulers, and the recent expectation of actual hostilities. They pro-duced a most unfortunate effect. A body of armed men marched hastily upon the jail, overpowered the guard, and put to death the two Smiths, and in that act inflicted a deep wound upon the honor of the State, and wrought a lasting
injury to all who were opposed to the Mormon dynasty."
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