Paul A. Douglas
6. Does Smith’s extensive ‘rap-sheet’ including his arrest, trial and likely conviction for money digging, treason, attempted murder and bank fraud comport with being a prophet of God?
STATE OF NEW YORK VS JOSEPH SMITH
“Warrant issued upon written complaint upon oath of Peter G. Bridgeman, who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person and an imposter.
Prisoner brought before Court March 20, 1826.
Prisoner examined: says that he came from the town of Palmyra, and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel in Bainbridge most of time since; had small part of time been employed by said Stowel on his farm, and going to school. That he had a certain stone which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold mines were a distance underground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times, and had informed him where he could find these treasures, and Mr. Stowel had been engaged in digging for them. That at Palmyra he pretended to tell by looking at this stone where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, and while at Palmyra had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds; that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health.”
Copy of fees below:
The court record plainly shows that Joseph Smith was involved in magic practices at the same time he was preparing himself to receive the plates for the Book of Mormon.
It is interesting to note that in the court record Joseph Smith confessed that “for three years” prior to 1826 he had used a stone placed in his hat to find treasures or lost property. That means that in 1823, three years after he claims to an angelic visitation he was also engaged in treasure hunting.
Surely this is highly damaging to Smith’s character for according to Joseph Smith’s own testimony, he began his money-digging activities in about 1823.
Smith also claims to have found the gold plates on September 22, 1823.
Before this discovery, LDS historian Francis W. Kirkham, couldn’t bring himself to believe that Smith was a dishonorable con man. That he cheated people out of their money with assurances that he would find buried treasure using a peep stone in a hat. He wrote, “If such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him…. How could he be a prophet of God, the leader of the Restored Church to these tens of thousands, if he had been the superstitious fraud which ‘the pages from a book’ declared he confessed to being?”
A New Witness for Christ in America, vol. 1, pp. 3, 85‐87 and pp. 486‐87
The late Hugh Nibley, perhaps the most prominent Mormon apologist ever stated, “…if this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith.” 2
He went on to also state that if the authenticity of the court record could be established it would be “the most devastating blow to Smith ever delivered.”
Well, Hugh, it is, and it is!
FairMormon suggests the proceedings did not constitute a trial, but rather more of a “preliminary hearing” where the accused is bound over for trial at a later date and this may very well be the case.
This is why I said, ‘likely convicted.’
It should be noted however that the LDS Church has not been forthcoming with the publication of a full and truthful history of this event. Their records would make the assessment more certain. Perhaps another example of Boyd Packer’s dictates that, “some truths are not very useful.” 3
There is some evidence that Justice Neely found Joseph Smith “guilty” of being a “disorderly person,” and that the judge could have immediately sentenced him to “sixty days” in the “Bridewell House of Correction, at hard labor,” but instead he bound him over to be tried by three justices at a later date.13
It may well be that Smith simply then left the jurisdiction, which was probably fine with the court, as the trouble-maker was gone.
Nonetheless, there certainly was a trial even though there exists contradictory evidence as to whether or not there was a conviction.
We have the following:
“And therefore, the Court find[s] the Defendant guilty. Costs: Warrant, l9c. Complaint upon oath, 251/2 c. Seven witnesses, 871/2 c. Recognizances, 25 c. Mittimus, 19 c. Recognizances of witnesses, 75 c. Subpoena, 18 c.—$2.68.”14
Further, On March 8, 1842, Justice Joel K. Noble, who acquitted Joseph Smith of some charges brought against him in 1830, wrote a letter in which he spoke of Joseph Smith’s “first trial” — i.e., the case before Justice Neely. According to Justice Noble, Smith “was condemned” at that time.
The seven known witnesses to the trial stated:
- Benton: tried and condemned … designedly allowed to escape
- Cowdery: honorably acquitted
- Noble: was condemned, took leg bail (escaped)
- Marshall: guilty?
- Tuttle: guilty?
- Purple: discharged
- Constable De Zeng: not a trial
I am not sure it matters, my best guess is there is about a 50/50 chance that there was some sanction.
Regarding Joseph Smith’s ‘money digging.’ There are only three explanations:
1, God did give Joseph Smith the power to see treasures in his stone.
- Smith had a vivid imagination the ability to convince people and perhaps himself that he saw real treasure in his stone.
- Smith deliberately sought to defraud others.
Historians employed by the LDS Church have occasionally excommunicated, but more commonly threatened with sanctions if they publish an objective history rather than a faith promoting rendition. In fact, Packer goes so far as to refer to objective histories of Mormonism as “disease germs.” 4
Regarding Joseph’s efficacy in actually finding “buried treasure,” and Smith’s claim that he could see anything when looking at the peep stone in his hat is contradicted by his own statement to his father-in-law Isaac Hale as evidenced by the sworn statement of Peter Ingersoll, replicated below:
“In the month of August 1827, I was hired by Joseph Smith, Jr. to go to Pennsylvania, to move his wife’s household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife then was. When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s, in Harmony, PA from which place he had taken his wife, a scene presented itself, truly affecting. His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: “You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money — pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.” Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor never could; and that his former pretensions in that respect, were all false.”
He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into magic stones. Mr. Hale told Joseph, if he would move to Pennsylvania and work for a living, he would assist him in getting into business. Joseph acceded to this proposition. I then returned with Joseph and his wife to Manchester.
One circumstance occurred on the road, worthy of notice, and I believe this is the only instance where Jo ever exhibited true Yankee wit. On our journey to Pennsylvania, we could not make the exact change at the toll gate near Ithaca. Joseph told the gate tender, that he would “hand” him the toll on his return, as he was coming back in a few days. On our return, Joseph tendered to him 25 cents, the toll being 12 1/2. He did not recognize Smith, so he accordingly gave him back the 12 1/2 c. After we had passed the gate, I asked him if he did not agree to pay double gateage on our return? “No,” said he, “I agreed to hand it to him, and I did, but he handed it back again.”
Joseph told me on his return, that he intended to keep the promise which he had made to his father-in-law; “but,” said he, “it will be hard for me, for they will all oppose, as they want me to look in the stone for them to dig money.” And in fact, it was as he predicted. They urged him, day after day, to resume his old practice of looking in the stone. — He seemed much perplexed as to the course he should pursue. In this dilemma, he made me his confident (sic) and told me what daily transpired in the family of Smiths. One day he came, and greeted me with a joyful countenance. — Upon asking the cause of his unusual happiness, he replied in the following language: “As I was passing, yesterday, across the woods, after a heavy shower of rain, I found, in a hollow, some beautiful white sand, that had been washed up by the water. I took off my frock, and tied up several quarts of it, and then went home.
On my entering the house, I found the family at the table eating dinner. They were all anxious to know the contents of my frock. At that moment, I happened to think of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called the golden Bible; so I very gravely told them it was the golden Bible.
To my surprise, they were credulous enough to believe what I said. Accordingly, I told them that I had received a commandment to let no one see it, for, says I, no man can see it with the naked eye and live. However, I offered to take out the book and show it to them, but they refused to see it, and left the room.”
Now, said Jo, “I have got the d[amne]d fools fixed, and will carry out the fun.” Notwithstanding, he told me he had no such book, and believed there never was any such book, yet, he told me that he went to Willard Chase, to get him to make a chest, in which he might deposit his golden Bible. But, as Chase would not do it, he made a box himself, of clap-boards, and put it into a pillow case, and allowed people only to lift it, and feel of it through the case.
In the fall of 1827, Joseph wanted to go to Pennsylvania. His brother-in-law had come to assist him in moving, but he himself was out of money. He wished to borrow the money of me, and he presented Mr. Hale as security. I told him in case he could obtain assistance from no other source, I would let him have some money. Joseph then went to Palmyra; and, said he, “I there met that d[am]n fool, Martin Harris, and told him that I had a command to ask the first honest man I met with, for fifty dollars in money, and he would let me have it. I saw at once,” said Joe, “that it took his notion, for he promptly gave me the fifty.”
Joseph thought this sum was sufficient to bear his expenses to Pennsylvania. So, he immediately started off, and since that time I have not been much in his society. While the Smiths were living at Waterloo, William visited my neighborhood, and upon my inquiry how they came on, he replied, “we do better there than here; we were too well known here to do much.” 5
I certify, that on this 9th day of December 1833, personally appeared before me the above-named Peter Ingersoll, to me known, and made oath, according to law, to the truth of the above statement. 6
Joseph’s ‘rap sheet’ below comes from an article by Diane Tingen in Mormonism Schism.
1830 – New York
Smith reportedly, performed an exorcism in Colesville and was again tried as a disorderly person. He was acquitted. The account of the exorcism is in this article about the Knight family can be found on LDS.org. The article on LDS.org which also discussed the trial has been removed by the Church.
1837 – Kirtland, Ohio
In May 1837, Grandison Newell accused Joseph Smith of plotting to murder him. Joseph was eventually acquitted. Did he intend to have Newell killed? We don’t know but the testimony of church leaders and employees revealed just how seriously the Prophet’s followers took his supposed off-hand remarks.
In either case, statements by two apostles and other close associates no doubt undermined Joseph Smith’s reputation. Wilbur Denton and Sidney Rigdon both testified that the alleged conspiracy took place in April or May of 1835. Orson Hyde testified that when rumors began circulating that Newell might sue the floundering Kirtland Safety Society, Joseph Smith “seemed much excited and declared that Newell should be put out of the way, or where the crows could not find him,” and he said that “destroying Newell would be justifiable in the slight of God, that it was the will of God, etc.”
1838 – Kirtland, Ohio
After a warrant was issued for Smith’s arrest on a charge of banking fraud, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri under cover of nightfall on January 12th, 1838. This incident had to do with the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, and with charges of fraud and illegal banking, including the illegal purchase of Monroe Bank in Michigan by Smith and Rigdon. Oliver Cowdery was named the Monroe bank’s Vice-President which saw him move to Michigan to run that bank.
1838 – Missouri
On November 1, 1838, the Mormons surrendered to 2,500 state troops and agreed to forfeit their property and leave the state. Joseph Smith was court-martialed and nearly executed for treason, but militiaman Alexander Doniphan, who was also Joseph Smith’s attorney, probably saved Joseph’s life by insisting that he was a civilian.
Smith was then sent to a state court for a preliminary hearing, where several of his former allies, including Danite commander Sampson Avard, turned state’s evidence against him. Joseph Smith and five others, including Sidney Rigdon, were charged with “overt acts of treason,” and transferred to the jail at Liberty, Missouri to await trial.
In 1839, Smith tried to escape at least twice during his four-month imprisonment. On April 6, 1839, on their way to a different jail after their grand jury hearing, he finally did escape after bribing the sheriff.
Subsequently, as was his custom Joseph Smith and the Mormons fled the state, this time moving to Illinois.
The Kirtland Bank was created in the State of Ohio by Joseph Smith who named himself Cashier and Sidney Rigdon who became the President. However, because the venture was underfunded a Banking Charter was refused.
Not to be deterred, however, Joseph and Sidney declared it an “Anti-Bank,” and depositors were lured in because Joseph Smith told his followers that as a Prophet of God, the Bank could never fail.
Warren Parrish, who had been an officer in the bank and had apostatized from the Church, made this statement:
“I have listened to him [i.e., Smith] with feelings of no ordinary kind, when he declared that the AUDIBLE VOICE OF GOD, INSTRUCTED HIM TO ESTABLISH A BANKING-ANTI BANKING INSTITUTION, who like Aaron’s rod SHALL SWALLOW UP ALL OTHER BANKS (the Bank of Monroe excepted,) and grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.” 7
However, problems arose when merchants and businessmen began to redeem the ‘anit-banks’ notes. Joseph knew that the Bank did not have enough cash to cover the notes and that an old-fashioned, “Bank Run” would ruin the bank. Smith and Rigdon resigned as officers and the bank did indeed fail.
“If the bank needed a final blow to shatter what little prestige it still held among the faithful, it received it when Warren Parrish resigned as cashier, left the church, and began openly to describe the banking methods of the prophet. Parrish was later accused of absconding with $25,000, [$500,000 today] but if he took the sum it must have been in WORTHLESS BANK NOTES since that amount of specie in the vaults would have saved the bank”, 8
Joseph Smith’s delusions resulted in many faithful Mormons losing their life savings and – their faith. Many people, who were given worthless bank notes in exchange for gold and silver deposits, convinced that Joseph had intended to swindle them from the outset, attacked him verbally and threatened him physically. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon fled Kirtland during the night in January 1838 to escape bank depositors.
“The toppling of the Kirtland bank loosed a hornets’ nest. Creditors swarmed in upon Joseph armed with threats and warrants. He was terribly in debt. There is no way of knowing exactly how much he and his leading elders had ‘borrowed’ since the loyal Mormons left no itemized account of their own claims. But the local non-Mormon creditors whom he could not repay brought a series of suits against the prophet which the Geauga county court duly recorded. These records tell a story of trouble that would have demolished the prestige and broken the spirit of a lesser man.
Thirteen suits were brought against him between June 1837 and April 1839, to collect sums totaling nearly $25,000. The damages asked amounted to almost $35,000. He was arrested seven times in four months, and his followers managed heroically to raise the $38,428 required for bail. Of the thirteen suits, only six were settled out of court-about $12,000 out of the $25,000. In the other seven, the creditors either were awarded damages or won them by default.
Joseph had many additional debts that never resulted in court action. Some years later he compiled a list of still outstanding Kirtland loans, which amounted to more than $33,000. If one adds to these the two great loans of $30,000 and $60,000 borrowed in New York and Buffalo in 1836, it would seem that the Mormon leaders owed to non-Mormon individuals and firms well over $150,000.” 9
“Joseph Smith had his Mormon bank “capitalized at $4 million. A huge sum of capital, when at the time, in the entire state of Ohio, the total capitalization of the banks was $9 1/3 million. Setting itself up for failure.
For some casual observers wanting to see the Mormon banks assets, inside of the vault were boxes “filled” with gold and silver coin. However, the boxes were first filled with sand, and then a thin layer of coin laid on top. This shows fraud, not just mismanagement.
“Lining the shelves of the bank vault… were many boxes, each marked $1,000. Actually, these boxes were filled with ‘sand, lead, old iron, stone, and combustibles’ but each had a top layer of bright fifty cent silver coins.” 10
Joseph and Sidney Rigdon were tried in court for violating the law, were found guilty and fined $1,000.
This illegal bank began, of course, with Joseph Smith receiving a revelation from GOD himself. Wilford Woodruff, who later became the fourth President, confirmed that Joseph claimed to have had a revelation concerning the bank.
“During the summer of 1837, Joseph spent much of his time away from Kirtland to avoid these lawsuits…. Apostles Luke S. Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson, and John F. Boynton were rejected and disfellowshipped. “The blame for the bank failure fell heavily on Joseph. He had issued a formal invitation to his followers to take stock in the venture and the institution had been organized outside the law. Heber C. Kimball later was to comment that at this moment, ‘there were not twenty persons on earth that would declare that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.’ Six of the apostles came out in open rebellion
…Joseph first established the bank by revelation and then had to later admit that because of poor management and other internal and external conditions the project was a failure.” 11
FairMormon claims that Joseph Smith was never convicted of a crime. Their website quotes Joseph Bentley, a lawyer who worked on the Joseph Smith Paper Legal volumes as saying:
“Joseph Smith was persecuted in courts of law as much as anyone I know. But he was never found guilty of any crime, and his name cannot be tarnished in that way.”
This is, of course, incorrect. I just provided one example above of where he Smith was found guilty along with Sydney Rigdon for banking, “irregularities.’ As well, there is no question that Joseph was arrested, and appeared before Judge Albert Neely
There was another case where there is much stronger evidence that Joseph was convicted on August 1, 1843, of the crime of assault. This case is clear; Smith assaulted Hancock County tax collector Walter Bagby after he called Smith a liar.
Joseph Smith enraged got out of the buggy in which they were riding, and either struck Bagby multiple times, or attempted to strike or choked him.
William Clayton, one of Joseph Smith’s scribes was present and recorded what happened:
“P.M. went to Temple at 4 o clock J and Backenstos came up to the Temple. J began to tell me concerning a tax title which Hamilton had on me of the city lots he having got a Sheriffs Deed. J. told me to inquire of Bagby concerning it. While we were talking Bagby came up & J asked him concerning it. he denied all knowledge of it. J. told him that he had always been ready to pay all taxes when called upon & he did not think it good behavior to sell his lots when he was willing to pay the taxes whenever called upon. Bagby said he had done more for J. than for any other man in the County. J. reiterated that he had abused the citizens here and was always doing so. Bagby then told him he was a liar at which J. got out of his Buggy. When Bagby saw him get out he ran to pick up a stone to through at which J. was so enraged that he followed him & struck him two or three times. Esqr. Wells stepped between them & succeeded in getting them apart and J. told him to assess the fine and he was willing to pay it. J. rode down to Whitneys & got the fine assessed & then returned to the political meeting. Bagby staid a while muttering that J. was a coward &c.”
This event was also recorded, in part, twelve days later in Joseph Smith’s own journal which states:
“Mr. [Walter] Bagby. of Cartharge [sic]. who has exercised more despotic power over the inhibtants [sics] of this city & than any despot of the Eastern country. I met. he gave me some abusive language took up a stone to throw at me I siezd him by the throat to choke him off.”
The History of the Church recounts the incident, “Bagby called me a liar and picked up a stone to throw at me, which so enraged me that I followed him a few steps, and struck him two or three times. Esquire Daniel H. Wells stepped between us and succeeded in separating us…. I rode down to Alderman Whitney . . . he imposed a fine which I paid.” 12
Joseph Smith had an extensive number of ‘interactions’ with the criminal justice system. His problems with the law were extensive and continuous between from his first disorderly person/fraud trial in 1826 to his second arrest for treason and inciting a riot in 1844.
Joseph’s ‘Rap Sheet’
March 1826 Disorderly person
June 1830 Disorderly person
June 1830 Disorderly person
February 1837 Illegal banking
June 1837 Conspiracy to Murder
January 1838 Banking fraud
August 10, 1838 Threatening Judge
Nov. 12, 1838 Treason
August 1842 Conspiracy to Murder
June 6, 1843 Treason
May 1844 Perjury
May 1844 Fornication & Adultery
June 11, 1844 Inciting a riot
June 24, 1844 Treason
These are just criminal matters involving Smith, there were also many many civil matters in which he was the defendant as well.
6 Th. P. Baldwin, Judge of Wayne County Court
7 Painesville Republican, February 22, 1838, page 297
8 Fawn M. Brodie No Man Knows My History, page 198
9 Fawn M. Brodie No Man Knows My History, page 198
10 C.G. Webb (W. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 1886, p 36.
11 Joseph Smith As An Administrator,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, May 1969, pp. 80, 81
12 Hugh Nibley, The Mythmakers p. 142.
13 Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y. Court Trials, by Wesley P. Walters, p. 109, reprinted in the Westminster Theological Journal.
14 (Fraser’s Magazine, February 1873, pp. 229-30).
15 From, “Occult to Cult with Joseph Smith, Jr.,” Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y. Court Trials, p. 123.
16 Boyd K. Packer, “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect,” 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259‐271
17 Affidavit of Wilson Law, June 20, 1844, published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. II,” Alton Telegraph & Democratic Review, February 22, 1845, 1
18 Affidavit of John W. Putnam, August 13, 1844, published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. IV,” Alton Telegraph & Democratic Review, March 15, 1845.
19 Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1845, 1, 6.
20 Ayatullah Sayyid Imam RuhallaMusawi Khomeini, ‘Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist’, Jan 21, 1970.
21 3 Nephi 20: 15-17, 20
22 3 Nephi 21: 14-15, 18, 21
FairMormon’s Comment No. 12
Joseph Smith’s Money-Digging, Magic, and Criminal Behavior
FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER
The author implies Joseph’s “almost certain conviction” despite the lack of evidence supporting this conclusion.”
OK, I made three assertions:
1. That Joseph Smith was a money-digger:
I think FairMormon will stipulate that Smith was engaged in the occupation of ‘money-digger.’ That this took place before his claim to have found the ‘Gold Plates.’ And that the methodology was the same he later employed in the translation of the BOM – a rock in his hat.
Scrying or money-digging is an inherently dishonest occupation, evidenced by the fact he never found anything. He took money from people lacking the wit to realize that if he really had ‘the gift’ to see treasure below the ground he would be engaged in unearthing the gold and silver for himself rather than being in their employ for a pittance. It is analogous to the snake-oil salesmen selling their courses on ‘How to become a millionaire by buying real estate with no money down,’ on infomercials in the wee hours of the morning. If they had the ‘secret’ why would they not be out there doing it!
There is also ample evidence that Joseph knew he was engaged in a dishonest pursuit. Peter Ingersoll, a friend, and neighbor of Smith’s in an affidavit swears that Smith admitted privately to him that he (Smith) could not see anything.
Peter further describes in sworn testimony, the heart-wrenching reunion of Smith and his father-in-law after eloping with his daughter, Emma:
“I was hired by Joseph Smith Jr. to go to Pennsylvania to move his wife’s household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife was then. When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s place [Isaac Hale, Emma’s father], in Harmony, PA, from which place he had taken his wife.
“His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: ‘You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money–pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.’
“Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor ever could, and that his former pretensions in that respect, were all false. He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones.”
2. He was arrested and tried as a result of the activity
STATE OF NEW YORK VS JOSEPH SMITH
Warrant issued upon written complaint upon oath of Peter G. Bridgeman,
who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person
and an imposter. The prisoner brought before Court March 20, 1826.
3. He was almost certainly convicted
As I stated in my letter Justice Neely used the word “guilty.” Judge Neely could have immediately sentenced him to “sixty days” in the “Bridewell House of Correction, at hard labor,” but instead he bound him over to be tried by three justices at a later date.
I agree that this sounds like a finding that this was analogous to today’s preliminary hearing. however, the record shows the judge spoke of guilt.
Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y. Court Trials,
by Wesley P. Walters, p. 109,
reprinted in the
Westminster Theological Journal.
In my letter I also presented the list of costs:
“And therefore, the Court find[s] the Defendant guilty. Costs: Warrant, l9c. Complaint upon oath, 251/2 c. Seven witnesses, 871/2 c. Recognizances, 25 c. Mittimus, 19 c. Recognizances of witnesses, 75 c. Subpoena, 18 c.—$2.68.”
Further and perhaps more damning, Justice Noble’s comment that Smith “was condemned,” referencing this trial.
PLEASE NOTE: My interrogative was, ‘Joseph Smith’s Money-Digging, Magic, and Criminal Behavior’ yet FairMormon has ignored the Magic and Occult connection or his extensive ‘Rap Sheet.’
Joseph Smith’s problems with the law were extensive and continuous between from his first disorderly person/fraud trial in 1826 to his second arrest for treason and inciting a riot in 1844.
Smith’s Final Arrest for Treason
Joseph Smith was a very ambitious man. Shortly before his death in 1844 he established a theocratic-political system which he called the Council of 50. and on April 11th, 1844 he anointed himself King and Ruler over all the earth with unlimited civil, military and ecclesiastical power.
This body met in Nauvoo seventeen times before he was killed, and at at least one of those sub-rosa meetings, Smith prophesied the entire overthrow of the United States within a few years.
Smith saw himself as reigning over all of America and eventually the entire world. Like so many things Joseph Smith did it was done covertly and undercover and those who were given knowledge of it or who was promised to become one of the ‘Princes’ were sworn to secrecy under penalty of death.
Wilson Law, the brother of William Law, the former second councilor in the First Presidency and the highest ranking Major General in the Nauvoo Legion, stated that Smith’s intended to:
“Set the laws at defiance; for the Government, he said, was corrupt, and ought to be overthrown, and he would do it, for he could get help plenty from the Indians, for he had communication with them all the time, and they were ready. And deponent further saith that he verily believes that said Joseph Smith is and has been, conspiring with the Indians against this Government, he having agents out among the Indians, passing to and fro ever since last summer; and that a number of Indians have come to Nauvoo, at different times, last winter and spring, and held secret councils with said Smith. And further, that Hyrum Smith, last winter, said to the affiant, that this Government must be changed; for it did not suit them, and they could never keep the revelations or build up the kingdom under the present form of Government.”
Affidavit of Wilson Law, June 20, 1844, published in
“Letters to Gov. Ford−No. II,” Alton Telegraph
& Democratic Review, February 22, 1845, 1
John W. Putnam. Putnam, a resident of Bear Creek, Illinois, a community not far from Nauvoo, stated on August 13, 1844:
“That he saw in the lodge at Nauvoo, a number of arms, and he understood that there were plenty of arms in Nauvoo. He further states that the Mormons are endeavoring to seduce the Indian tribes from their allegiance to the United States, and engage them to take up the hatchet against the people of the United States, and that white men are to lead them on to the conflict.”
He further states that “he has understood that Lyman Wight has already departed [to Texas] to stir up the savages and prepare them for the final struggle with the whites. He also understood that cannon had been received in Nauvoo, sent there in hogsheads of sugar, and also fire arms (sic) and ammunition. He further states … that in conjunction with the Indians [the Mormon plan is] to attack the people and subvert the government, and establish Mormonism throughout the United States. He further states, that…. the Indians had twice held their Powows or war dances in Nauvoo.”
Affidavit of John W. Putnam, August 13, 1844,
published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. IV,” Alton
Telegraph & Democratic Review, March 15, 1845.
Smith’s determined goal of a theocratic-political empire is evident in the pretentious ‘Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To all the Kings of the World’ which the Council of the Twelve (who are also all members of the Council of Fifty), addressed: “To all the Kings of the World; To the President of the United States of America; To the Governors of the several States; And to the Rulers and Peoples of all Nations.”
Smith even had the cheek to send a copy of this ‘proclamation’ to Queen Victoria.
The pronouncement warned world leaders: “You cannot…stand as idle and disinterested spectators of the scenes and events which are calculated in their very nature to reduce all nations and creeds to one political and religious standard, and thus put an end to Babel forms and names, and to strife and war.”
Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1845, 1, 6.
Is this not precisely the form of government militant Islam longs for today?
“Islamic government does not correspond to any of the existing forms of government… Islamic government is neither tyrannical nor absolute, but constitutional. It is not constitutional in the current sense of the word… It is constitutional in the sense that the rulers are subject to a certain set of conditions in governing and administering the country, conditions that are set forth in the Noble Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Most Noble Messenger (Imam). It is the laws and ordinances of Islam comprising this set of conditions that must be observed and practiced. Islamic government may therefore be defined as the rule of divine law over men.”
Ayatullah Sayyid Imam Ruhallah Musawi Khomeini,
‘Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist’, Jan 21, 1970.
If you replaced the word Islam with Mormonism and the word Imam for LDS Church President you have Joseph Smith’s un-American dystopian society.
Smith’s goal of world domination simply echoes the message of the Book of Mormon:
15. And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive after they have scattered my people-
16. Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
17. Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
20. And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.
3 Nephi 20: 15-17, 20
12 And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;
15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;
18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.
21 And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
3 Nephi 21: 14-15, 18, 21
Brigham Young speaking as a member of the Council of the Fifty on March 11th, 1845: “The gentiles (sic) have rejected the Gospel; they have killed the Prophets and those who have not taken an active part in the murder all rejoice in it, and that is saying that they are willing the blood of the prophets should be shed. The gentiles (sic) have rejected the Gospel [And] we will sweep them out of existence.”
Council of 50 Minutes, 300
Treason has ever been deemed the highest crime which can be committed in civil society and in the past, has been visited with the deepest public resentment and the greatest of penalties – usually death.
Were Smith’s actions treasonous? Probably. Black’s Law Dictionary: defines treason as “the offense of attempting to overthrow the state to which one owes allegiance, either by making war against the state or by materially supporting its enemies.”
Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution reads:
“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”
Had Smith not been killed in the gunfight at Cartage jail, I think it would have been unlikely that he would have been convicted of treason. Treason is a very high bar, ‘levying war against them.’
But the Jig was up for Joseph Smith and his foolish order to destroy the Expositor and call out the Nauvoo Legion was serious stuff. Even more damaging was the public exposure of Smith’s plural marriages which would have been very upsetting to many of the good citizens of his community; especially since teenage girls and married women were among his ‘brides,’
Had he not been killed, I suspect this time he would have spent a considerable amount of time in the penitentiary.
It is perhaps telling that I have been unable to find any apologists having commented directly on Smith’s accusations of treason.
This is the second time that FairMormon has accused me of ‘propaganda.” Sadly the nameless individual penning their apology is entirely ignorant as to what propaganda is.
Therefore on the next page, I am going to take an aside and not just explain what propaganda is but also provide evidence that the Mormon Church is perhaps the most accomplished practitioner of it since the days of another Joseph named Goebbels.
Next, Propaganda and Undue Influence in the LDS Church