Mormon History

Mormon Caused Problems at Carthage - 1844

Warsaw Message January 17, 1844

For the Warsaw Message.

Meeting of Citizens at Carthage.

At a large and respectable meeting of the citizens of Hancock county, held in the court house in Carthage, on Wednesday the 10th day of January, 1844 --

The meeting was organized by the appontment of Jas. B. Matthews, Chairman, and John C. Elliott, Secretary.

The objects of the meeting having been stated by the chairman, on motion, it was decided that Valentine Wilson address the meeting, which he accordingly did in an appropriate and eloquent speech.

After which it was moved and decided that the chairman appoint a committee of three to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting, in regard to certain difficulties with the community of people called Mormons.

The chair named Walter Bagby, Colonel Levi Williams and Henry Newton, for that committee, who reported the following Preamble and Resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

That while we have been denied the ends of Justice in Nauvoo, by the interposition of armed bodies, set up by the authorities of that city, and ordered to rescue a prisoner at all hazards, regardless of law or justice, from the rightful custody of an officer, which order was accordingly carried into successful execution, as is well authenticated in the case of Smith, the leader of the Mormon community at Dixon, in Lee county of this State.

And while the authorities of the city of Nauvoo have been continually passing ordanances in designation of the laws and constitution of the State of Illinois and of the United States, calculated, if carried into effect to be a source of galling oppression to the citizens of this county, and indeed to all who may be so unfortunate as to be placed under their operation; which laws have been in many cases executed upon individuals to their great detriment and annoyance.

And while we have seen a growing disposition on the part of that community and especially of their leader, the most potent Joseph Smith, to harrass us, by dragging our citizens from the most remote parts of the county to Nauvoo, to be tried for every petty offence, and when there to be subjected to all the indignities that the said Smith -- the most foul-mouthed blackguard that ever was commissioned by Satan to vex and torment the children of men -- could invent.

And while we have been threatened, vilified and abused in every possible form and manner, insomuch that we are driven to the conclusion that there is no alternative now left us, but the most object and ignominious resistance;

Still we desire to hold ourselves responsible to the laws of the country, so far as they are reasonably administered; and will at all times cheerfully submit to be tried by officers of our immediate vicinage; Yet --

Resolved, That seeing we have been constrained to believe that the authorities of Nauvoo, by a succession of the most extraordinary ordinances that were ever known to be passed by a deliberating body, design to bar themselves against the just and equitable operation of the laws, as well as by many other indications too numerous here to name. We hereby determine and pledge to each other, our sacred honor, and all our substance, so far as it may be needed, to resist every oppression that may be attempted to be imposed upon us, and every indignity that may be offered to any individual or community in this county, or the surrounding counties, by the authorities of Nauvoo, at the point of the bayonet.

Resolved, That we pledge ourselves most solemnly, that we will at all times hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment's warning, to any point to which we may be called.

Resolved, That each and every one of us will use our influence and our best exertions, to induce those of our immediate neighborhood to engage heartily in the work, by organizing themselves into defensive bodies, that we may be at all times prepared for any emergency.

Resolved, That the editor of the Warsaw Message be requested to publish in his paper the proceedings of this meeting, -- the late ordinances of the City of Nauvoo in relation to the services of process, and the selling of liquors in said city...


The Nauvoo Neighbor, as is usual with that print, on such occassions, comes out with a long rigmarole of untruth, about the affair at Carthage last week, between the citizens and Mormons.

The facts as they occurred, were about as follows: A constable from Nauvoo, went to Carthage on Saturday, and arrested one Milton Cook, on a charge of Bastardy, Before reaching the Justice -- but whetehr before they left Carthage or not, we did not learn -- the prisoner made his escape from the officer. In the mean time, some of the citizens turned out to defend Cook, declaring that he should not be taken to Nauvoo for trial; but offered no resistance to a hearing before any other magistrate. The officer, seeing that he could not succeed in his attempt, returned to the Justice who issued the writ, who summoned 11 men to his assistance. With this reinforcement, he returned on Monday night; when three or four of the party attacked Mr. Bartlett's grocery, in which Cook was supposed to be. They were met at the door with five or six bayonets, firmly grasped; and it appeared that one Mr. Eagel had no more prudence than to rush violently against one of them, and get himself hurt. Thus repulsed, the party retired for the night.

In the morning, it would seem, as by accident, the parties again met at Wilson's store. Considerable confusion and volence prevailed for a moment; when the pistol of Dr. Morrison, as he was attempting to draw it from his pocket, was accidently discharged. The ball, instead of striking one of the officer;s party in the forehead, and glancing off afain, to the imminent danger of the whole -- as the Neighbor has it -- passed very near the Doctor's own head, and lodged in the ceiling! -- No pistol was intentionally fired, and no bayonet plunged at the breast of any of the assailants, during the whole affray.

The combatants now separated; the constable and his posse set out for Nauvoo, declaring that they would return with the Legion, and take the prisoner, or lay the town in ashes!

The above are substantially the facts of the case. We leave our readers to make their own comments.

According to request of the Citizens' Meeting, we publish in this No. several of the Nauvoo Ordinances, tending to show how utterly regardless of all law and right & decency, the authorities of that city can make themselves. One ordinance authorizes marriages without a license; another sets Smith above the license laws of the State, "fir the health and convenience of travelers; another takes all process out of the hands of State officers, and puts it into those of the city; & yer another takes the pardoning power away from the Governor!


Mr. Gregg: -- in your paper published on the 10th inst., we find some remarks on the fifficulties which occured between the Carthagenians and the Mormons on Monday and Tuesday last, in which I think may be seen a strong squinting at a disposition to compromise with that people. Your closing paragraph runs thus:

"As a means of bringing about so desirable a result, we respectfully suggest that a public meeting of all parties be called, to meet at Carthage on as early a day as practicable to take into consideration the grievances and their remedy. What say you, fellow citizens?"

As for one, I say, NO Never!! Just as well might you call upon us to strike hands with Pirates or to compromise with the Powers of Darkness. Who is there amongst us so wanting in discrimination as not to be able to see, that a community constructed as is that at Nauvoo, headed by a leader so destitute of every moral principle, as we know Jo Smith to be, can be trusted? -- obeying a leader most implicitly who in their very midst has committed so long a catalogue of the most adominable acts, of which the imagination of man can conceive; attempting at the same time to cloak all his outrages under the sacred garb of religion, and that too, the pure and holy religion of Jesus Christ! In view of such wonderful presumption, I am constrained to cry out -- "O blasphemous wretch! Who can trust him?" I repeat it most emphatically, "Let no such man be trusted!" I again answer, I can make no compromise with Nauvoo, as a community, while it avows allegiance to the Beast and the False Prophet. If there are those, as you suggest, who would be willing to rid themselves and the country, of the evils growing out of the mad projects of that presumptuous wretch, let them show their faith by works, and come out, and disabuse themselves of the odium which cleaves to them like the fatal shirt of Nessus, and that will suffice me. For I hold that the little philosophy which I can lay claim to, has never yet taught me that when I see a thief, and other partakers with him, that these last can be honest men! No, Sir, I can never compromise with Jo Smith; nor yet with a community who consider his will as their pleasure -- no matter how absurd. And more especially cannot I compromise with Jo Smith, until I shall have seen his inflated vanity and his intoerable audacity humbled and subdued. I have seen too much of his treachery, and felt too much of his dastardly tyranny, when in the plenitude of his power, he expected no resistance. Who, then, in view of such a being, but with the full assurance that so soon as he shall have found himself in a situation to crush them with impunity, that he will not withold his hand for a moment? These are my feelings: They are the feelings of one who presumes to subscribe himself,        --- Hannibal.

Remarks on the Above.

WE are glad that our Query has brought so prompt an answer -- though so unfavorable to our own views. One has spoken, -- and he has spoken, no doubt, the sentiments of many -- and we desire a further expression, on the part of our citizens. Our columns are always open to well tempered articles on a subject so momentous. Again we ask -- Fellow Citizens, what say you?

We acknowledge, that, inview of all the circumstances -- regarding the high state of excitement which has been produced upon the public mind -- the danger there is of collision and bloodshed, and consequent misery and ruin and death, to hundreds of innocent people -- in view of all these things, we have a "strong squinting at compromise." Rather thando worse, we would "strike hands with Pirates, or compromise with the Powers of Darkness" -- so far, at least, as to agree to a system of non-intercourse. We would not compromise with Joe Smith one inch, in the acknowledgement of his right to plunder, and destroy, and tyrannize, and dupe, as he is doing; or that he is any thing short of a demon in human shape, sent to scourge mankind. But we do believe that there are "ten righteous persons in the city" -- yes, fifty times ten -- who are innocent of any intention to do wrong. And, shall they, too, suffer? Shall there be no discrimination made between these, and that ruthless and guilty band, who disregard all law and all right? Shall all be made to suffer alike -- the innocent with the guilty. God forbid!

We see no use in attempting to disguise the fact, that many in our midst contemplate a total extermination of that people; that the thousands of defenceless women and children, aged and infirm, who are congregated at Nauvoo, must be driven out -- aye, DRIVEN -- SCATTERED -- like the leaves before the Autumn blast! But what good citizen, let us ask -- what lover of his country and his race, but contemplates such an event with horror?

Shall not, we would ask -- shall not the olive branch be at least held out to those innocent -- though deluded -- followers of the prophet? Shall not an attempt be made to set them right, in reference to the designs and aims of those, whom they have heretofore been taught to regard as their wirst enemies?

We still persist in the opinion that a compromise may be ebtered into that will do much good; that will, in its operation, entirely stay the work of destruction. And we call upon all our fellow citizens to aid in bringing about such a compromise.