Mormon History

Dissention Among the Mormons - 1844

Daily Missouri Republican May 15, 1844

JOE SMITH -- DISSENTION AMONG THE MORMONS AT NAUVOO. -- We have good reasons for placing reliance in the details of a letter, the contents of which hereafter stated, giving an account of an ememte at the chief city of the Mormons, Nauvoo. The occurrences took place on the 26th. On that day -- says the writer -- a fracas of an alarming and important character occurred in Nauvoo, threatening with impending destruction the Mormon government and even the life of the Prophet himself. It originated under the following circumstances: Joe Smith, Prophet and Mayor elect, having ordered his police to arrest a man by the name of Spencer, for an insult on his brother in his own house -- the residence of his mother also -- the accused refused to become a prisoner, alleging it was illegal to arrest without a writ from the Mayor. -- All the parties, however, collected round the Masonic Hall, or court-house. Joe Smith, Mayor, being present, ordered the police and the people to take said Spencer into custody. The constable having placed hands on him, Spencer put himself in a fighting position, and was assisted by Dr. Foster and his brother, younger Foster, and also James Higby -- who said they would not submit to the authority of the Prophet. Joe Smith put hands too, to assist in taking him, when the younger Foster took out a pistol, presented it, and said he would shoot the Prophet. At this moment I came up, and saw the struggle. The Prophet got hold of the pistol, and held firmly round the bretch until, by the assistance of Rockwell, a second, the Prophet succeeded in getting the pistol from Foster. The Dr. and Lasner at this time took up stands, and vociferated they would kill the Prophet -- said he was a villian and an impostor, and that he knew it; that they would be doing a meritorious act to rid the world of such a villian, an impostor and tyrant. Higden said he would certainly shoot him -- at any rate told him he remembered by-gone times -- knew of blood being shed on the island opposite; that he, the Prophet, was the right man. He (Rigby) belonged to his band -- had sustained him by money and force; he knew the Mormon Prophet, Joe Smith, was the author of murders, and it was high time he should die, and he would kill him. The Prophet got his hand cut and his nervous system shook. Finally, the authorities succeeded in bringing up three traversers before the court, It would be too long to write all the trial. -- Let the following suffice: The traversers manifested no disposition to withdraw their threats -- on the contrary, demanded their pistol from the Mayor, who gave it to them -- said he was always lenient, and would tyranize over no man. Foster took the pistol, and took another from his breast, examined to see all was properly loaded, and betrayed much wickedness and desperation. The court having heard the evidence, the Prophet made many observations about his clemency -- adverted to the threats, and denied ever having been privy to any murders on the island -- said he would maintain his authority and the law, should it cost life, and then fined the traversers -- Spencer for assaulting his brother, a cripple, in %100; and said Spencer, Dr. Foster and his brother young Foster, each $100 for resisting civil authorities. Appeals were taken in all the suits. The case is, at present, undergoing a second trial before a Squire in the upper part of the city, where the mother, a brother of Spencer, and his two daughters are called on to give evidence before a jury. The verdict is not yet returned. Spencer, in the pleadings, when the Elder Brother objected to his mother's evidence, on the ground of age and forgetfulness, called on his brother's daughters, who were present, and whose memories, he assured the court, were as bright as their faces (and they are undoubtedly handsome.) The court, however, overruled his motion.

Joe Smith has a number of enemies and his influence is beginning to decline, but I think his doctrine is on the increase.

There are about fifty masons and stonecutters about the Temple. It will be the most extraordinary building on the American Continent. We have a regular theatre, got up by the Mormons themselves Last night the play of Pizarro went off in good style to a large audience, of which about one hundred were ladies. I was astonished to see such an array of beauty in the New Jerusalem.


Quincy Whig May 22, 1844


THE MORMONS. -- We last week gave some account of the dissentions and divisions which have sprung up in the holy city of Nauvoo -- growing out of the arbitrary conduct of "the Prophet." Since then, the breach has become still wider between the head of the church and his followers. The citizens have procured a press, and will soon commence a paper, for the purpose of exposing Smith on his own ground and among his own people. Last week, individuals of the Mormon faith, (Messrs. Blakesly and Higbee,) representing the dissenters, addressed, addressed a large number of our citizens, in reference to the "flare up," at Nauvoo. We were not present, but have it from others who were, that the dissenters, made out that Joe Smith was pretty much of a rough customer, especially in relation to the "spiritual wife" doctrine. Their whole aim was principally against Smith and not against the church -- of which they still claimed to be members. They painted Smith, as any thing but the Saint he claims to be -- and as a man, to the last degree, corrupt in his morals and religion. On Wednesday night, Mr. John P. Green, a Mormon elder, addressed a crowded house in defence of "the Prophet." The principal portion of the worthy elder's speech, while we were in the house, was taken up, in an apology for addressing the meeting, and when he did come to the substance of his address, he could only disprove the statements made by the dissenters, from his own knowledge -- he said he had been a Mormon for the last twelve years -- and had always been intimate with Smith, -- and that such doctrines as were ascribed to Smith by his enemies, had never been taught to him. He further said that Smith was like a diamond, the more he was rubbed, the brighter he appeared -- and he strongly insinuated, that the characters of the individuals, who had assailed Smith on the second evening previous, were none of the best, &c. &c.

We think these Mormon missionaries are laboring under a mistake in one particular. It is not so much the particular doctrines, which Smith upholds and practices, however abominable they may be in themselves, that our citizens care about -- as it is the anti-republican nature of the organization, over which he has almost supreme control -- and which is trained and disciplined to act in accordance with his own selfish will. The spectacle presented in Smith's case -- of a civil, ecclesiastical and military leader, united in one and the same person, with power over life and liberty, can never find favor in the minds of sound and thinking Republicans. The day has gone by when the precepts of Divine Truth, could be propagated at the point of the sword -- or the Bible made the medium of corrupt men to gratify their lustful appetites and sordid desires.