Finding peace in Carthage Jail

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    May 16, 2014 10:26 p.m.

    I get a definite impression that some, intent on detracting from the message of peace delineated in the article, are desirous only of perpetuating the bitterness of the past. This phenomenon is nurtured not only in negative views of LDS History, but also in race, gender, and cultural issues throughout the whole of society. IMHO we will never solve anything by ongoing vituperative debate disguised as objective intellectual analysis. The latter may give us some direction when framed in honesty, but much of it reeks of the proverbial wolves in sheeps' clothing howling at the prey rather than the soft bleating before the lambs of the fold.
    Visiting the Sacred Grove, Carthage Jail, Martin's Cove, Temple Square in SLC, or any other temple grounds--and their interiors, if one qualifies to enter--are havens of peace. Detractors may never comprehend the fact--but I plead with them anyway to give us who do a little consideration.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 15, 2014 2:13 p.m.


    No one compares to Christ. No one.

    But as to prophets defending themselves (and others) look at Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Elijah. Prophets can take up the sword.

  • donn layton, UT
    May 15, 2014 1:53 p.m.

    @Ulvegaard, I guess what I learned is, who did what to whom isn't so critical as the fact that Joseph sealed his testimony with his blood and this had added to my own testimony.

    Jesus (agonizing and nailed on the Cross)said,“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. VS,JS shooting a revolver at the men who moments later killed him.

    “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.. (D.H.C. v 6. P 408,409)

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    May 14, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    I didn't get to linger in that upper bedroom, but I did take the tour.

    One thing that impressed me was a story told by the guide. He said that several years before, President Spencer W. Kimball toured the jail. He noted the blood stains still visible on the floor upstairs -- which had been carefully preserved. He then turned to the head of the historic site who had accompanied the prophet on this tour and said, "It's time to forgive, please have the blood stains cleaned off." (or words to that effect).

    I guess what I learned is, who did what to whom isn't so critical as the fact that Joseph sealed his testimony with his blood and this had added to my own testimony. Now, let's press forward.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    May 13, 2014 4:28 p.m.

    @donn ... I believe the point is that Joseph went to his death, and was killed, for his beliefs. The issues isn't who did the deed.

    But I love the Brigham Young quote. And amen to it.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    May 13, 2014 11:48 a.m.

    Please read the whole post and absorb the perspective of the comment. You will understand if you try.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    May 13, 2014 11:46 a.m.

    The author found peace in Carthage jail. Many readers will find peace reading his account. Very well done. Bravo.

  • donn layton, UT
    May 13, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    RE:1.96 Standard DeviationsMormon officers are telling the story just fine. It does not differ sharply from historical record?

    Wilford Woodruff, ”The death of JS I remember what Joseph said, a short time before he was slain in one of the last sermons I ever heard him preach. Said he, “Men are here today who are seeking my blood, and they are those who have held the Priesthood and have received their washings and anointing’s; men who have received their endowments. I saw the faces of those men at that time, and they had a hand in slaying the Prophet.” (JoD v 4 p 149). Dec, 1856.

    Brigham Young comments on it.… “when you feel like killing me for so doing, as some of the people did who called themselves brethren in the days of Joseph Smith, look out for yourselves, for false brethren were the cause of Joseph's death, and I am not a very righteous man.” (JoD v 3 49). Francis M Higbee was at the meeting of dissenters on April 28, 1844.

    Whether Mormons killed JS or not is unimportant many important Mormons wanted to by taking an Oath(upon request) to kill him.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 13, 2014 11:30 a.m.

    "The Expositor incident was an EXCUSE to arrest "

    I'm sorry but when is ordering the destruction of someone's property an "excuse" to arrest them?

  • cval Hyde Park, UT
    May 13, 2014 10:34 a.m.

    Some of you should read "The Carthage Connection" by Dallin Oaks. He examines the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum, and the legal proceedings that followed in the attempt to bring justice.... from a strictly legal perspective.

    It provides a much clearer treatment of the historical record that some of you keep referring to. The LDS Church is telling the truth in this.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 13, 2014 10:09 a.m.

    The Expositor incident was an EXCUSE to arrest and kill Joseph. They charged him with treason which was absurd because treason cannot be committed against a state--only the nation. Many elements had been trying for years to find an excuse and a way to put Joseph to death.

    In the 19th century many communities believed that banning together to stop what was considered a threat to the community was a justifiable defense of the community. The town council of Nauvoo believed the Expositor was a threat to the safety of the community and they voted to stop it. That's not the way we see things now, but that's how things were seen then. That is also the basis for the mobs against Joseph. Regardless of what happened at the Expositor, it was in no way a justification for Joseph's murder.

    Joseph was a martyr. He went willingly and knowing he would lose his life. No one was convicted of his murder. Their defense was that this is what the people wanted and so they did it. It was a political assassination plain and simple and no one was held responsible.

  • Floyd Johnson Broken Arrow, OK
    May 13, 2014 10:05 a.m.

    To continue the technicalities: Joseph and Hyrum did not die in a jail cell. They were in a bedroom in the jail. Both rooms are upstairs and adjacent, they had been in the cell, but were moved to the bedroom. The keeper of the jail certainly did not consider them a threat.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    May 13, 2014 9:05 a.m.


    You can still be a martyr and be armed with a pistol for self-defense. Cinci Man provided the definition of a martyr, and Joseph Smith meets that. The church also doesn't hide the fact Joseph Smith had a pistol.

    From FAIR: "Joseph's gun is on display at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, where anyone can see it. It has been there for years. There is overwhelming evidence that from the earliest days following the martyrdom, to the present, that both official and unofficial Church publications have repeatedly mentioned Joseph's pistol."

    Also, the June 2013 Ensign (church magazine) features a painting called "Greater Love Hath No Man" by Casey Childs. It is on the page before the article, "Two Witnesses, Three Days, and the Aftermath of the Martyrdom." The artwork shows Joseph, Hyrum and Willard Richards are attempting to hold the door shut as the mob attempts to enter the room. John Taylor is holding his walking stick. In Hyrum’s left pocket is a pistol, and in Joseph’s left pocket, clearly visible, is another pistol.

    Mormon officers are telling the story just fine. It does not differ sharply from historical record.

  • MAYHEM MIKE Salt Lake City, UT
    May 13, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    @ Blue:

    You wrote: "Yes, he was killed by a violent mob . . . But he was no martyr"

    From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

    "mar·tyr noun \ˈmär-tər\
    : a person who is killed or who suffers greatly for a religion, cause, etc.

    : a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion"

    Perhaps you'd like to review the "recorded history" and learn the real reason Joseph was persecuted from the time of his youth, culminating in his death at Carthage. It certainly wasn't solely because of the Expositor event.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    May 13, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    Definition of martyr"

    1. a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion.
    2. a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause.

    There are various versions of recorded history about a great many things, this incident included. I, too, have sat in that cell and drawn many spiritual feelings that inspire and motivate me. Thanks for a wonderful article. If you look for good, you shall surely find it.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    May 13, 2014 7:24 a.m.

    The martyrdom story told by Mormons differs sharply from the historical record of events that actually led up to and took place in that jail. (Is the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor also included in your story of inspiration?)

    Moreover, Smith had a pistol, fired it multiple times, wounding several of his attackers, and then attempted to jump out the window.

    Yes, he was killed by a violent mob. He didn't deserve that. He fought to defend himself. Bully for him. But he was no martyr; he was a victim of a mob violence. No more, no less.

    I draw personal inspiration and comfort from a great many things, too. The difference is I don't attempt to find inspiration in stories that are so distinctly and demonstrably at odds with recorded history.