Mormon History

Slander of Henry Clay by Joe Smith - 1844

Warsaw Messenger June 5, 1844

Joe  Smith  and  Henry  Clay.

The last Nauvoo Neighbor contains the correspondence between Joe Smith and Henry Clay, which has been long talked of, but nothing known in relation thereto, of a definite character. In Joe's first letter to Mr. Clay, he enquires, what will be his course of action if elected to the Presidency, in relation to the Latter Day Saints, having reference to the Missouri difficulties. Mr. Clay answered in a very courteous, yet frank and firm manner, that as a candidate for the Presidency, he can make no promises, nor give pledges of favor to any particular class of the community. Joe replies in a style characteristic of himself. A more scurrilious, low, blackguard production, we have seldom seen. He speaks to Mr. Clay in his rejoinder, thus: "A blackleg in politics, begging for a chance to shuffle yourself into the Presidential chair, where you might deal out the destinies of our beloved country, for a game of brag, that would end in 'Hark from the tombs a doleful sound.'" He then speaks of him as a "gambler, duelist, intriguer, &c.," and uses every vituperative phrase that the political slang dictionary contains. And what is all this for? What has provoked the ire of his Holiness? Mr. Clay has dared to be candid, and has too much honor and regard for character, to play the sucophant to such a beast as Joe, and some of our two penny politicians in this vicinity have, and therefore, in the eyes of that miscreant he is a vile loathsome wretch.

Joe, you are [the] very thing you accuse Messrs. Van Buren, Clay and Calhoon of being; and more, we do not believe that even your blackguard pen, or rather that of your man Friday's, (for no one would accuse you of being able to put two sentences in the English Language together correctly,) can picture a wretch so depraved, and loathsome as yourself. Yos Joe! we have that confidence in your saintship, that we do not believe that the concentrated extract of all the abominations of the Infernal Regions, can add one stain to the blackness of your character. Look in a mirror Joe and you will see the reflection of the most detestable wretch that the earth contains. The man who under the garb of a Commissioned Minister of the Most High, has made the seduction of innocent females an amusement -- the man on whose skirts rests the blood of hundreds of his confiding followers -- the man who has hired assassins in his employ, commanding them to perform deeds that Satan might shrink from -- the traducer of character -- the swindler who robs without compunction his deluded victims of their sll, that he may revel in wealth. Behold yourself Joe! and as you may well say as a prototype of your Holiness once said,

'Not hell with all its powers to damn.
  Can add one taint to the foul thing I am!


LAST RESORT OF JOE. -- Whenever any individual renders himself obnoxious to Joe Smith, in Nauvoo, and his influence is likely to produce a disasterous effect upon his prospects and schemes, he immediately sets himself to work, to destroy the character and reputation of his enemy, that he may thus render him harmless. Thus it was, that to put down the Laws and Fosters, he invented and circulated the most scandulous reports, and procured the oaths of his miscreant minions, to substantiate them. He hoped, by this means, to divert the attention of the honest and well meaning, amongst his followers, from his own rottenness, by discrediting the witnesses, who bore testimony against him. His last resort to this same game, is the most despicable of all. In the last Neighbor, is published the affidavits of three females, who have been compelled by his holiness, to make statements which entirely blasts their own fame, in order that he might thus destroy the influence of a man, who he felt to be a dangerous enemy. We say that these females have been compelled to publish their own shame, for we cannot conceive how any woman, having left one spark of that native modesty, which characterizes the sex, could voluntarily consent to publish to the world the loss of her virtue, and the degradation of her chastity. A female, that can do such an act, must either be influenced by fear, or else she must be an abandoned strumpet, whose word is unworthy of credence.

What then can Joe hope to gain by such pitiable resorts? Can he hope to turn public indignation from himself, as a base seducer, by fastening the brand upon C. L. Higbee! No Joe! all the evidence which you can manufacture from the ready material which you have at hans -- all the affidavits which you can force weak females yo [make]: or induce abandoned srumpets to publish will never make a sensible man believe that the accused is guilty, or that you are not a villain.

These affidavits bear upon the face of them, their own condemnation. Women who wear their virtue so loosely, as to throw it off, on so slight a representation and inducement as they say Mr. Higbee made to them, should never be used as witnesses in any sensible community. No Joe, these affidavits are but evidence against yourself. They show conclusively that the females of your city, are taught by you, to hold virtue, chastity, decency and propriety, eh! every thing that gives adornment to the character of the sex, as subservient to your will and desire. Yes Joe! by your showing, you have made it appear to the world, that the women of your church, will willingly submit to a seducer if he can make it appear that it is your will that they should. Shame where is thy blush?