Episode 4 - Destruction of the Nauoo Expositor's Press
In Episode 2 we left William Law behind after he printed the prospectus of his anti-Mormon – or anti-Joseph Smith, really -- newspaper, the Nauvoo Expositor. Today he prints the first, and only, issue of the paper – and it turns everything upside down.
I am Stephen Dethloff, and this is the Strangers & Pilgrim’s podcast telling of the Death of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
On June 7th, 1844 the first and only issue of the Nauvoo Expositor gets printed. The paper gets printed and citizens in Nauvoo are furious. The paper attacks Joseph for his morals, for his religious teachings, and for his politics – and perhaps especially the paper attacks Joseph for how those things all blend together.
And, just so you know how fast everything from here is going to move – the paper, again, comes out on the 7th of June. Joseph Smith is killed on the 27th. That’s in 20 days.
We started our story of the Death of Joseph Smith with the story of Porter Rockwell in jail in Missouri, being asked by the sheriff to turn Joseph Smith in. That happened in December of 1843. Everything in the first 3 episodes of this story has taken place over 6 months. Some of the other things that we’ve referenced and will reference are things that happened in Missouri, that help explain how the Mormons got to Illinois -- like Joseph Smith being in Liberty Jail for treason, and the Mormons being driven out and attacked by mobs. But, that’s for context, really. Outside of those flashbacks, the first 3 episodes of our story covered December 1843 through the end of May 1844 -- 6 months.
But, this act – the printing of the first issue of the Nauvoo Expositor, happens 20 days before Joseph’s death. Everything is downhill very fast from here.
The Nauvoo Expositor is printed. It is full of poems, and satirical stories, and has various affidavits and editorials in it. And, the paper officially lays out 15 grievances or complaints against Joseph Smith.
One of the grievances listed by the newspaper is regarding Joseph’s use of habeas corpus as a legal technique. One of the complaints is of Joseph’s running for president.
Surprisingly, to me, William Law condemns Joseph Smith for his hostile conduct towards the citizens in Missouri. Joseph was run out of Ohio by an armed mob of men. From Ohio he settled in Missouri and lived there, as a free man, for 8 months before the extermination order was written. After the extermination order Joseph lived in Missouri for 6 more months – but that’s because he was in a Missouri prison.
This complaint, though that Joseph acted hostilely towards the Missourians was a popular complaint of men in Missouri, and the anti-Mormons in Illinois, who were trying to align themselves with Joseph’s enemies in Missouri, thus took up the charge. And, as a result, the Mormon reformationists that left the Mormon church and joined William Law’s organization also decided to take up that complaint.
Anti-Mormons felt like the Mormons should’ve just run away from their persecutions instead of attempting to fight back. They felt like the Mormons were wrong to try and fight against the mobs that were murdering, and raping, and attacking them.
At this point William and members of his secret organization are openly conversing with members of Thomas Sharp’s Anti-Mormon party, and they’re openly conversing and planning with Anti-Mormons in Missouri. It’s no longer there is one group of people fighting Joseph Smith led by William Law and another group of people fighting Joseph Smith led by Thomas Sharp. They’re two fronts of the same war. And they’re sharing information with one another.
Another one of the complaints in the newspaper is of Joseph’s teaching and practicing of polygamy.
Joseph’s teaching on polygamy still exists today, and is known within Mormon Scripture as Doctrine and Covenants Section 132. You can go read it online, or in a Mormon Book of Scripture if you’re interested.
William Law believed almost all of Joseph’s visions, revelations, and commandments – up to polygamy. That was, for William, one of Joseph’s teachings that he could not believe, and made him think Joseph was a fallen prophet.
But, again, that’s why – even in the Nauvoo Expositor – the paper written to destroy Joseph Smith and his city William Law reaffirms that the Book of Mormon is true scripture. And that Joseph Smith used to be a prophet of God. Because, William Law, right now in 1844 is a Mormon reformer. Even though, forty years later, as we quoted in another episode, he regrets ever learning about the religion.
So, the Nauvoo expositor lists 15 official complaints against Joseph – but remember, the whole purpose of the Expositor is to get the Nauvoo City Charter repealed. So, these complaints are all brought up in the context of “repeal the city charter.”
You’ll remember that Nauvoo was a city founded by Mormon refugees. They came into Illinois in the dead of winter as Strangers and Pilgrims. 5,000 Mormons scattered across the country side all over western Illinois.
When Joseph Smith, after escaping out of jail in Missouri, showed up and met with the rest of the Mormons in Illinois he said, concerning the land that would later become the city of Nauvoo, “the place was literally a wilderness . . . mostly covered with trees and bushes . . . but [with] no more eligible place presenting itself, I considered it wisdom to make an attempt to build up a city.”
And, so, Joseph began writing letters to friends and followers – men and women who were scattered across Illinois, to come and settle in this new location, so that they could build up a city. Eventually, Nauvoo became a city in the eyes of the Illinois state government when a bill that was written for the incorporation of Nauvoo was approved by the Illinois House, Senate, and Governor.
Now, the bill that passed through congress, to make Nauvoo an official city in the eyes of the government, gave Nauvoo a City Charter – which is a legal document that sets out the rules and laws of the city that is being formed. And, the City Charter passed through the State congress pretty easily, and without any disagreement. But shortly afterwards citizens of Illinois began to have problems with it.
No one is sure if the lawmakers in Illinois didn’t have any problems with the bill when they passed it because they were busy and didn’t read it, or because they knew the Mormons were already a powerful voting bloc which they wanted to win over to their side, or if they felt bad for the Mormons as refugees from Missouri, and wanted to give them favorable city-laws so that they would feel safe and protected.
Regardless, four years after the city charter passed the Illinois congress, a lot of the citizens in Illinois – and a lot of the lawmakers who had actually passed the bill through – had problems with it.
One of the things that the city charter allowed for, was for the City Council of Nauvoo to free anyone who was arrested. One historian writes, regarding this effect of the Nauvoo City Charter, that it “was designed to make Nauvoo an island of legal safety. . .the net result was not only to help protect the Mormons from legal persecution, real or imagined, but also to make’ outside’ law enforceable in Nauvoo only if the city government concurred.”
The Mormon refugees looked at this provision as a safety net from continued religious persecution. Remember, right across the Mississippi River is Missouri – a state full of people that want to kill Joseph. A state which is still trying to bring him back west for the attempted assassination of Ex-Governor Boggs, even though they had already dropped the charges against Porter Rockwell.
So, while the Mormons look at this provision as a safety net their neighbors look at it as a way to harbor criminals. They look at the law as being incapable of reaching men and women who lived inside Nauvoo. People hated the Mormons for this special provision their city laws provided, and they feared them for it.
Famously, too, the charter gave the city of Nauvoo its own army – the Nauvoo Legion. Now, the Nauvoo Legion was part of the Illinois State Militia. And, every city at the time has a militia. In this time period it was required, by the Illinois State Constitution, that every free, able-bodied man in the state be a member of their city’s militia. So, the Nauvoo Legion was not a Mormon military. It was the Nauvoo branch of the Illinois State Militia.
But, even though the militia was solely under the direction of the Governor of the State – Governor Ford. It was also under the direction of the city Mayor for local issues. So, because Nauvoo was the largest city in Illinois at the time, and full of Mormons, it just so happened that its Militia favored protecting Joseph Smith. And, so, it offered a good deterrent against individuals who wanted to make war against Joseph Smith and the Mormons head-on.
The Nauvoo Legion was a big reason that Joseph, with all his enemies in Missouri and Illinois, was safe in the city of Nauvoo to begin with.
But, the Nauvoo branch of the state militia was granted special powers and abilities through the city charter that other militias did not have. For example, the Nauvoo Legion was allowed to be used as a police force by the Mayor – whereas other militias were not.
And, so, again, the Mormons looked at this provision given to them by their city charter as something that brought them safety. Their neighbors, who took pity on the Mormons when they first showed up, and allowed the city of Nauvoo to have that provision, now look on it with fear and anger.
They look on the Nauvoo city charter as something evil, that the Mormons had written so that they could easily attack other people.
So, William Law, with the Nauvoo Expositor, is hoping that by taking away the Nauvoo City Charter, you take away Joseph Smith’s role as mayor, you take away his city council, you take away his role as Lieutenant-General of the Nauvoo Legion. You take away the City Council’s ability to get anyone out of being arrested. You take away the Nauvoo Legion itself. Its state-issued weapons. It’s ability to act as a police force.
So, then, a city which was an island of defense for the Mormon prophet and for his followers becomes a place where someone can easily walk into, take out the prophet, and have him killed.
So, the Nauvoo Expositor is printed. The very next day the Nauvoo City Council meets. It’s on a Saturday. They meet about the paper. They are trying to figure out what to do about it. It is disrupting the peace of their city. They don’t make any decisions, though. It’s a Friday. So, they take the weekday off, and two days later, on a Monday, the city council meets again. Joseph Smith, as mayor of Nauvoo, is also there.
They’re discussing how to react to the paper. But, they’re also discussing, in a bigger picture, how this paper is the latest in a long string of attacks from the paper’s publishers. So, the city council begins to recount all of the times that William Law and his partners have made efforts, or made threats, to kill Joseph Smith in the past.
There is, for sure, one failed attempt at murder prior to this paper being published. It was a time when a man by the name of Foster pulled a gun on Joseph Smith and stuck it right to his belly. Luckily, Porter Rockwell was there. Porter jumped in front of the gun, and wrestled it out of Foster’s hand. Foster was a business partner of William Law’s. One of the expositor’s publishers, and a member of William Law’s new religion and secret organization.
So, there is a history of William Law, and his friends, publicly and privately trying to attack Joseph inside of Nauvoo.
This discussion at the city council slowly turns to not only looking at the Nauvoo Expositor as the most recent instance of William Law’s persecution against Joseph, but as the most recent instance of all the persecution against all Mormons.
One of the councilmen reminds every one of a massacre at Haun’s Mill, back in Missouri. He says, “My Son laid there dead in Haun’s Mill for two days before he could be put in a coffin.” He said, “I cannot sit here with the same murderous spirit that was raging in Missouri and do nothing. Whatever we do, the quicker the better.”
Haun’s Mill was a Mormon Settlement in Missouri. In October of 1838, during the height of the Mormon’s being persecuted in Missouri, a mob marched on the settlement and massacred 17 of the Mormons there. They killed men, women, and children.
Two days before the massacre, a group of Mormons stopped at Haun’s Mill. This group was traveling through from Kirtland, Ohio. And, to me, this just sets the tone of this council meeting – and is a good case-in-point of our entire story of persecution up to now.
In this instance, a group of Mormon pioneers are fleeing from religious persecution on the American Frontier. They’re moving from danger to safety. From Ohio to Missouri. And, they finally get to safety in Missouri. But, instead of finding safety they immediately find themselves in the middle of a massacre.
You can imagine how demoralizing that would be. It would make you feel hopeless. It would be frustrating. And, that’s what they’re all feeling. The Mormons feel like they can’t be in Ohio. They can’t be in Missouri. And, now, they can’t be in Illinois.
Joseph is running for President to try and get their our property back. The Nauvoo City Charter protects them. They have their own militia. They’re trying to get the federal government to allow them to gather an army to escort them out to Oregon.
All these things the Mormons are doing to try and protect themselves, and they’re all being interpreted by their enemies as attacks, or warning signs of impending danger.
Another councilman, in this meeting, talks about other Missouri persecution. He is still angry about what happened at Far West, and reminds every one of the persecution there. We’ve talked about how Joseph was taken into custody at Far West. Well, for months before he was arrested there, Mormons in the city and surrounding areas were shot at, whipped, had their property burned. They suffered all sorts of persecutions there and in the counties round about.
It was shortly after the Haun’s Mill massacre that Joseph Smith was thrown in Richmond Jail, and from there thrown directly into Liberty Jail. And from there was allowed to escape into Illinois. So, the persecution at Far West and Hauns Mill and all of Missouri are still a very large part of the Mormon psyche living in Nauvoo.
Joseph reads to the council the section of the expositor paper where it says that they want to repeal the city’s charter. And, he says, “Is it not treasonable against all chartered rights and privileges? And against the peace and the happiness of this city!?”
Joseph’s brother Hyrum says, “Yes. It is treasonable. We should burn the press and pie the type.
Hyrum tells everyone there that they already have this Warsaw Signal paper printing all this Anti-Mormon stuff 17 miles south of us. One is enough. We don’t’ need another Anti-Mormon paper right in our city.
Everyone is on board to destroy the press except for one man. Councilor Warrington. Who isn’t a Mormon, by the way. He wants to simply fine the Expositor for every libel it printed. But, no one else wants to. They think it would be ineffectual. They just want the press destroyed.
So, the city council passes an ordinance that labels any publication which uses libel as a tool to excite the public mind against a chartered city a nuisance.
Now, at the time, The Rights in the US Constitution did not apply to the states. So, where it says, in the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” At the time, that law only applied to the US Congress, or the Federal Government. It wasn’t until 1925 that freedom of the press and freedom of speech, in the United States Constitution, extended to states.
However, the Illinois State constitution at the time does protect people’s freedom of speech. And, it does protect freedom of the press. It says that men and women in the state are allowed to “Publish as they please.” However, it also says that they, “must be answerable both to the community and the individual.”
It’s the fact that there wasn’t much case law at the time that addressed this area of freedom of the press, and this sentence in the Illinois constitution, that “those who publish papers must be answerable to the community,” that the city council decides their ordinance labeling the Expositor as a nuisance is best for the city. To protect them from the growing spirit of mobocracy.
Based on this ordinance, Joseph Smith, as mayor of the city, then orders the city marshall to “Destroy the press, pie the type, and burn all the libelous hand bills found inside.” Pieing the type just meant that they would take the boxes of type and dump them in the road, and mix all the pieces up, so that it would be difficult for someone to go and pick up all the letters and immediately use them to start printing again.
Obeying orders, the City Marshall, J.P. Greene, gathered a group of men and marched through the streets of Nauvoo to the Expositor’s printing office.
It was in all this discussion about the Nauvoo Expositor press, that Joseph Smith presciently said, “I would rather die tomorrow and have the thing smashed, than live and have it go on.”
It’s night time. The city is dark. The City Marshall is walking at the front of a group of men carrying torches. Behind the men with torches a group of 200 citizens follow behind – just to watch and see what would happen.
The men stop in front of a two story brick building. The Nauvoo Expositor printing offices. The Marshall knocks on the door. He tells them to open up. The bottom floor of the two story building is home to one of the newspaper investors – Francis Higbee. This is the same Francis Higbee who was swearing everyone in to their oaths to the destruction of Joseph Smith at that secret meeting in William Law’s house that we talked about in Episode 2.
Francis Higbee, like William Law, was also a person who just left the Mormon Church after becoming disaffected with Joseph Smith. Francis came from a family who experienced and survived all of the persecutions in Missouri, actually. We talked in episode 1 about how the first settlement the Mormons were kicked out of in Missouri was Independence, in Jackson County, Missouri.
Well, the Higbees were some of the settlers of Independence. And, they were one of the families who, in the middle of the night, swam across the Missouri River to the safety of the county over, while their property was being looted. Francis’ Father, Judge Higbee, is dead at the time of the printing of the Nauvoo Expositor. But, before that, Judge Higbee, was a great friend to the Prophet Joseph. Now, Judge’s Higbee’s two sons are leaders in William Law’s new Mormon Reformation church. They were leaders in William’s secret organization bent to destroy Joseph.
And, I say this, again, to bring back up, again, what we talked about in Episode 2 -- that this young Mormon religion, as far is its members go, is in a near constant state of change. People convert to it. People apostatize from it. People are persecuted in it for years. And, they struggle through and survive the persecutions. Only to then leave the church and persecute the very people amongst whom they used to find strength and comfort.
Anyway, J.P. Greene, the city marshall, is at the front of the group of men there. Followed by the curious bystanders. And he knocks on Francis’ door demanding that he open up the printing press. He shows him, through the window, the just written city ordinance that classified the Nauvoo Expositor as a nuisance. And, he shows him the 2nd order from the mayor which demanded the press’ destruction. Francis Higbee says he will not open up the door for Marshall Greene. So, the Marshall tells the men to force the door.
So, ten men break off from the group and march up the outside stairs that lead to the 2nd floor. At the front of the line – probably 2nd in line – is Porter Rockwell. They get up there and try the door. It’s locked. So, the man next to Porter hauls back and knees it in. The door swings open and the men walk across the room.
Now, Francis downstairs hears this. And he is furious. He hears the door get kneed in, and hears these men walking around upstairs, and he busts outside and runs up the stairs. And he is screaming, “All I want to live for is to see this city sunk down to the lowest hell, and by God it shall!” This curse he is screaming, is of course, in reference to the Expositor’s main goal – which is to repeal the charter of Nauvoo. And, he probably wants to see the city actually destroyed, too.
Higbee swears that he will shoot Joseph Smith and all that pertain to him. And, he is screaming all this while the men quietly go about their work upstairs. They’re gathering up all the printed papers and carrying them downstairs. They’re carrying the boxes of type downstairs. Doing it quietly and orderly in the same way that a police raid would confiscate things from a crime scene.
Then the men tear apart the printing press. They brought tools to do it with. And, they start to carry the dismantled pieces downstairs. And, Francis can’t stop them, because he’s outnumbered, so he is just standing there shouting at them. He shouts, “Before ten suns shall go over our heads, the temple, the Nauvoo house, and the mansion shall all be destroyed. It will be the total downfall of this community.”
The men quietly carry all these things downstairs and they start a fire in the streets. They throw the papers in a fire and burn them. They throw the printing press, too, in the fire. The box of type – or printing letters- doesn’t get thrown in the fire. It gets pied. That means they just get thrown in the street, and people use their feet to kind of mix them all up. They just kind of jumble all the letters up.
The press is gone. Everyone reconvenes to meet up for a kind of a debriefing. The meeting is in front of Joseph’s house – the Nauvoo Mansion. Joseph Smith is standing on the steps there next to the Town Marshall. And, he is facing the crowd of men and onlookers who just carried out his orders.
Joseph tells the men that he doesn’t care how many papers are printed which told the truth. But, that he will not submit to have another libelous publication in the city. He tells all the men that they’ve done a good job, and that they’ve executed the orders which were given them by the city council.
The crowd, then erupts into a cheer. They say “hip-hip-hooray,” over and over again, and all go back home.
The night the press is destroyed William Law comes home – he was out of town that day. He comes home and finds his wife who tells him that their printing press has been destroyed. William immediately decides to put on a good face, and let everyone know that he isn’t scared of them. He takes one of his business partners and rides through the street at night. They ride right up to the printing press. They walk their horses over the type that has been pied in the street and right by the remains of the press which had been set on fire.
That night, however, perhaps revealing his true feelings, he goes home and packs. And, the very next morning, he and his wife, and his children have moved. They move across the Mississippi river into Iowa. They move into a hotel until they can find a house.
Almost everyone that is involved with the printing press leaves town except for Francis Higbee. He stayed behind to try and settle business matters and take care of the partners’ property.
Part of settling business matters is the inevitable lawsuit. Francis Higbee sues Joseph Smith. And, he sues him in Carthage, Illinois. So, that’s where the case is going to be heard. Two days after the Nauvoo Expositor press is destroyed, a Constable from Carthage shows up with an arrest warrant.
And, the arrest warrant demands that Joseph be brought before the judge who wrote the warrant, in Carthage, or some other justice of the peace. And, Joseph Smith tells the Constable – there is no way I’m going to Carthage. Everyone there wants me dead. Everyone on the way there wants me dead. I will go to court here in Nauvoo. The Constable tells him back, “I’ll be damned, but I will carry you to Carthage before Judge Morrison who issued the writ.”
So, Joseph has his close friend Willard Richards – also a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and also the clerk for the local municipal court – write a legal document called a habeas corpus that will allow Joseph to appear before a judge in Nauvoo, instead of in front of a judge in Carthage.
Joseph goes to court that very day. And, the plaintiff, Francis Higbee, is right there – front and center. And, so, Joseph Smith appears before a Judge and the trial focuses on whether or not Joseph Smith was inciting a mob, or inciting a riot, to destroy the press – or whether the press was actually destroyed by a posse under the direction of the City Marshall as ordered by City Council and Mayor.
So, the testimonies are based on the behavior of the posse – were they angry, shouting, unruly like a mob? All the witnesses – and remember there were over 200 people who had followed this posse to watch – say the posse that destroyed the press behaved quietly and orderly. They all bare witness that the only person who was yelling and shouting was, in fact, Francis Higbee.
The Judge finds Joseph Smith, the defendant, not guilty for inciting a riot to the destruction of the property of the plaintiffs.
So, people in Hancock county are now furious. Joseph didn’t go to Carthage. He was proven innocent in a court in nauvoo. Mobs start to form again. In Carthage a mob gathers and resolves to “utterly exterminate, the wicked and abominable Mormon leaders, the author of our troubles.” They demand that a “war of extermination should be waged to the entire destruction” of the Mormons. The mobs start bringing in cannons and weapons and ammunition from Missouri in preparation for their extermination. Some people, too, from Missouri are crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois, because they’ve been trying to kill Joseph Smith for years now, and want to finally get it done.
So, a friend of Joseph’s tells him that he needs to go before a county judge. And, that hopefully by going to trial again all of the excitement and anger of people will sort of calm down. In fact, the mobs are so angry, and are so intent on exterminating the Mormons, that Hyrum writes a letter to Brigham Young that he needs to get all the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles and come back to Nauvoo.
Brigham Young and these men are still out east trying to get Joseph Elected for president. Remember, only two of the 12 members of the quorum of the 12 apostles are left in Nauvoo – Willard Richards, who was Joseph’s secretary, and John Taylor, who was Joseph’s campaign manager and the editor of Nauvoo’s newspaper. Hyrum tells Brigham, in his letter, that they “are not frightened, but think it is best to be prepared for the onset [of mob attacks],” He tells Brigham, “if it is extermination, extermination it is.”
So, Joseph Smith goes to court again. And, this time, Joseph Smith himself stands up as the prosecuting lawyer is questioning a witness and objects to the questioning. Joseph claims that this trial is to see if individuals, himself and other members of the city council, incited a riot or a mob. He says that it shouldn’t be that way. That, because they were acting as a city council, the question shouldn’t be whether they started a mob, but whether or not the ordinance they passed labeling the Nauvoo expositor a nuisance was legal. Joseph says they shouldn’t be tried as individuals, but be tried as an entire city council unit.
And, you know, the judge agrees with Joseph Smith. The Judge says that, in that regard, the plaintiffs haven’t presented a claim, and so Joseph is discharged. Everyone walks again.
Well, Joseph getting off the first time infuriated the mobs. But, Joseph getting off the second time tips them over the edge.
And, we talked a lot in the last episode, about the roles that newspapers were playing in Joseph’s presidential election. Well, they’re playing just as big of a role in public reaction to one of their peers being destroyed. Thomas Sharp, in the Warsaw Signal, writes that war and extermination are now inevitable. He urges men to make their own comments on the matter with powder and balls.
In conjunction with the Warsaw Signal’s furor, a large meeting in warsaw gets up, and they say, “it’s just a matter of time before the Mormons come for our Anti-Mormon paper.” News even gets back to them that Hyrum was talking about the Warsaw Signal in the city council meeting in which they chose to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor. So, they know their paper is on the minds of the church leaders. And, they’re scared that the Mormons are coming for theirs now.
While the Warsaw Signal is arguing for extermination, the Nauvoo Neighbor is publishing from the other side. They said, “. . .let us enjoy our religion, rights and peace like the rest of mankind. Why start presses to destroy rights and privileges, and bring upon us mobs to plunder and murder?”
But, things have moved too far past the point of calmness now. Thomas Sharp’s Warsaw Signal had printed, just a week before the Nauvoo Expositor was published, that they would not be surprised to hear of Joseph Smith’s death by violent means in a short time. They said that he had deadly enemies. And, that the feeling of the country would break forth in fury upon the slightest provocation.
Well, Joseph and church leaders thought that the publication of the Nauvoo Expositor would be the slightest provocation that set off the chain of violence against them. But, they never let it get that far. And, so, it turns out that it was the destruction of the press, and then the subsequent getting out of two charges, that was the provocation which set off violence against them.
But, no one is attacking the Mormons, or Nauvoo, because the Nauvoo Militia is still there. Citizens committes are being formed in Warsaw and Carthage to do in the Prophet. But, they can’t. They can’t get into Nauvoo to get the Prophet. A year and a half after Joseph’s death the Governor of Illinois is writing up his account of all these events to present to the Illinois Congress. In that write-up he says, regarding this time, “No leading man of either party (That’s the Mormons and the Anti-Mormons) could be arrested without the aid of an army, as individuals of both parties ere justly afraid of surrendering for fear of being murdered;”
And, no one wants to get up an army and go against the Nauvoo Legion because they’re the largest militia in the area. But, Thomas Sharp and the Warsaw mob see a way to start attacking the Mormons immediately – but indirectly. Because not all of the Mormons live in Nauvoo – or inside the city limits. A lot live in the suburbs or on the outskirts.
So, they go around to these Mormons living in the Suburbs and start taking their weapons. And, they give them a few days to leave. They say, ‘you leave, or we’re going to come back and burn your houses down and take all your stuff.
So, people on the outskirts of Nauvoo are getting kicked out of their houses. Their weapons are being stolen. They’re moving into Nauvoo proper. The Mormons are refugees, again. Kicked out of Ohio, kicked out of Missouri, and now kicked out of the Illinois countryside and into Nauvoo. Thomas Sharp and the Warsaw Mob tell these refugees to give Joseph Smith a message that unless he gives himself up, they’re going to burn Nauvoo to the ground.