Events Leading to Carthage Martyrdom – Deseret News – Sept. 2, 1989

The following is a typical rehashing of misinformation footnoted throughout.

Six months before the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, the citizens of Nauvoo, Ill., nominated Joseph as a candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

Although few seriously considered his election,1 the saints were at least assured an advocate for their rights against oppression.2 Ironically, however, it was Joseph”s nomination that began the spiral of events leading to his brutal murder.3 Following is a brief summary of events leading up to the martyrdom:

June 10, 1844 – John Greene and others broke into the office of the anti-Mormon newspaper, Nauvoo Expositor, and destroyed the press as ordered by the mayor and city council of Nauvoo. The paper had been filled with vile and malicious slanders against the Prophet and the leading citizens of Nauvoo.4

June 11 – Nauvoo was placed under martial law because of threats of mob vengeance.5

June 16 – Joseph wrote Illinois Gov. Thomas Ford, requesting the governor come to Nauvoo to quell a growing insurrection. Instead, Gov. Ford went to Carthage, Ill., and by letter, in an effort to find favor with the mob, falsely accused the Prophet of violated laws.6

June 22 – Joseph, Hyrum and others started their journey to the West in an effort to flee the mob; upon accusation of cowardice, however, Joseph decided to return to Nauvoo. Two days later, they left for Carthage to submit to yet another trial.

June 25 – Joseph and Hyrum were arrested on a charge of treason and falsely imprisoned in Carthage Jail.7

June 27 – The Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were killed by a mob.



Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the gospel doctrine course of study.

Information compiled by Gerry Avant and Elayne Wells

Sources: History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, by Lucy Mack Smith; Joseph Smith, Martyr, Prophet of God by Francis M. Gibbons; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson; Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, by Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl; Essentials in Church History, by Joseph Fielding Smith; A Chronology of the Doctrine and Covenants, by Dell Van Orden and Gerry Avant.


1. Few? Joe & Hyrum sent out emissaries everywhere who broadcasted his run for the Presidency and it was widely printed in local and distant newspapers.back
2. Their rights were never oppressed, the issue was a city charter granting the Mayor more power than other cities.back
3. One view, but as the dates below point out, it was the revealing of secret, polygamous relationships that put the nail in the coffin. A practice forbidden by the New Testament, D&C and Book of Mormon.back
4. It contained not a single untruth, but truths Joe & Hyrum previously denied. In the State of Illinois, polygamy was illegal and the doctrine of a plurality of gods blasphemous.back
5. It was placed under martial law to keep the citizens from abadnoning Joe and forced the residents to stay after nearly 300 had already fled.back
6. In the governor”s history he recounts that Joe and the City Council went to far when they destroyed property – press and furnishings within. Putting the city under martial law was treason and so he was charged also for treason. The governor then did go to Nauvoo.back
7. Falsely imprisoned is too strong of language and inaccurate.back