Mormon History

Exposing the Illinois Puppet Governor - 1844

Sangamo Journal August 22, 1844


The following article and communication from the Quincy Whig, will arrest the attention of the reader. The communication furnishes reasons, in addition to those given in our last paper, why the Mormons, who were indisposed to take any part in the late election, were induced to go en masse for the loco foco party. We may be certain that so long as that party are in power in this State, the Mormons will be induced to sustain them, either through intrigue, or what is nearly equivalent to force, necessity.

We trust that means will be adopted to procure a copy of the letter of Governor Ford to W. W. Phelps. It is a public document. Tho's Ford was acting in the capacity of Governor, and it cannot be legally suppressed. We call upon W. W. Phelps to publish it in the column of the "Neighbor." The people of this State want to see what Gov. Ford has done in the late outrages; all his acts from beginning to end. They demand that there shall be no suppression of the documents" no denunciation of a mass of our citizens publicly, and by a private communication, apologizing to them. promise them favors for the purpose of getting into their good graces. -- All the people require is, that they be informed of all the facts in the case, so that all may have the means of forming a just estimate of the official services of Gov. Ford.

It is intimated that Gov. Ford promised the Mormons to arrest those engaged in killing Joseph and Hyrum Smith, soon after the election. But Gov. Ford having secured the Mormon vote, flushed with success, has gone off to attend a party Convention at Nashville.

We have good reasons for believing that Gov. Ford is in possession of all the facts in relation to the murder of the Smiths. He knows the names of the individuals concerned to a great extent, and especially does he know the name of the leader. As that leader was a captain in the loco foco party, of course he was not to be arrested before the election. It might have diverted votes from his party candidate; -- whereas the scheme in operation was well designed to secure the votes of the anti-Mormons, as well as those of the Mormons.

We understand that the documents in the Governor's hands state these circumstances" -- that when it was learned at Warsaw that Joe and Hyrum Smith were in prison at Carthage, there was a draft among the anti-Mormon troops at Warsaw of every tenth man; that ____ was appointed Captain; that they disguised themselves and proceeded to the neighborhood of Carthage; that an arrangement was made by which they should ostensibly attack the guard at the jail, fire over their heads, seize them, and then execute their purposes of killing the Smiths. The plan was fully carried out. The Governor at this time, however, is apparently too much engaged in politics to give attention to this matter, and it will probably be not disturbed again until the approach of another election.

We again invite Mr. Phelps to publish the communication of Gov. Ford, unless the communication is of such a character as to reflect discredit on all the parties concerned.

From the Quincy Whig.    


In corroboration of the statements we made against Gov. Ford, previous to the election, we give the following letter from a friend at Burlington. In publishing his letter contrary to his wish, we urge the importance of the information it contains. It is now manifest to the world that a most base political game has been played to get the Mormon votes, in which that unscrupulous political tool, Thomas Ford, has acted a leading part. Read citizens, read, and see to what lengths the locofoco leaders will go, in tampering with the Mormons. Ford has used that people three times for the benefit of his party. -- But to the letter:

                Burlington, Iowa, Aug. 4, 1844.
Mr. S. M. Bartlett:
Dear Sir: -- I have for the last few days been at Nauvoo watching the movement of things, and I can assure you that your speculations, in the last Whig, in relation to the intrigue of Gov. Ford for Mormon votes, are correct. The whole Mormon vote to-morrow will be given to Hoge for Congress, but I trust it will not be sufficiently large to elect him, though I have my fears. The addresses to the Warsaw people were without a doubt intended for the Nauvoo market, and I have it from both the Warsaw and Nauvoo people, that they were sent to Nauvoo some two days before they were sent to Warsaw. The issuing of that address, was without the shadow of doubt, an infamous electioneering trick, and it should consign that miserable little demagogue and party tool Tom Ford, to the lowest depth of infamy. But that is not all, nor the worst. I was yesterday told by Mr. Babbitt, the Mormon candidate for the Legislature, that Ford had recently sent a private communication to the Mormons, covering three sheets, and directed to W. W. Phelps, who is one of the leaders at Nauvoo and a great locofoco. That communication contains a detailed explanation of his conduct in the late trouble, and he seeks in it to do away with the prejudice which the Mormons have against him. He tells them he thinks it better not to move in arresting those who murdered Joe and Hyrum Smith till after the election, as he should have to call out the militia to do it, AND THAT THEY WOULD ALL TURN MOB!! He also encloses to those rascals the answer of Col. Harney to his requisition for U. S. Troops, who says that he has not 500 troops at any one station, which he can spare, and that he has transmitted his letter to the authorities at Washington. Ford then tells them when he gets the 500 U. S. Troops, he will have the murderers arrested. The other matters which this dignified Gov. of the great State of Illinois alludes to in his communication, can well be imagined.

It has been the wish of three fourths of the Mormons not to vote at all this year, but that would not answer the purposes of Hoge and the unprincipled band at Springfield, for Hoge's election depends entirely upon the Mormon vote. They held a meeting at Nauvoo on Friday, to determine whether they would run a ticket or vote at all or not, and I was told that four fifths of all who went to the meeting were opposed to doing anything. But who should appear on the spot to pull the wire but one of Ford's emissaries from Springfield, R. D. Taylor, commonly called Dick Taylor. Dick "fugles" with some of the leaders -- gets a committee appointed, who report to the meeting a full church ticket -- with Hoge at the head of it -- and which, after much confusion, is adopted, and will be voted to-morrow. Dick then made a speech to them in behalf of Hoge, and in which he abused and misrepresented Sweat most outrageously.

The above are facts in relation to the last bargain and intrigue for Mormon votes, which you can use as you may think proper.
                Your's, truly.

 Sangamo Journal September 5, 1844


The Governor is becoming sensitive on this matter. He denies in the last Register that he has "honey-fugled" the Mormons. We are not surprised at the Governor's sensitiveness. Public opinion is somewhat against him. Scarcely any doubt exists among a numerous portion of our citizens, that the trouble[s] with the Mormons have been so managed as to secure their votes for the Governor's party. The party action of the Governor -- his interference in elections, as witness his trip to Nashville, and his speech as Jacksonville -- is not calculated to give an extraordinary force to his declaration of innocence.

 Sangamo Journal September 26, 1844


The troops mustered into service by the Governor from Sangamon, are on their march to Hancock County, the seat of anticipated disturbances, although the last news from that region represents every thing quiet as usual. The three independent companies of this city, as in duty bound, promptly responded to the call of the Governor, without stopping to inquire into the reasons which influenced the Commander in Chief, to make the requisition upon them; and of course are in no way responsible for the consequences that may result to the State from this movement of the executive. But as conductors of a public journal, it is our right as well as duty, to lay before the public the facts, as far as they have come to our knowledge, connected with the past and present Mormon disturbances, with which his excellency has been concerned; and we wish it distinctly understood, that in any remarks we may see proper to make now or hereafter, that we do not intend the slightest reflection upon any officer or private under his command. We propose to review, the official acts of the executive of the State, as we understand them, and leave the public to decide upon the correctness and propriety of our course.

It is not our intention to go into a detailed history of all that has transpired since the first founding of Nauvoo by the Mormons. The public are already familiar with the history of Joe Smith's operations in Illinois, but they may not be as well informed upon all matters relative to Governor Ford's connexion with them, as they may desire; and it is for the purpose of supplying this deficiency, that we pass in review before them some of the most prominent incidents that have transpired within the last few months.

It has been a matter of public notoriety throughout the length and breadth of the State, that the Mormons, headed by those unprincipled scoundrels, Joe and Hyrum Smith, had established in the county of Hancock a government which they openly declared placed them entirely above the constituted authorities of the State; and that they had, in several instances, set at defiance writs issued by the State authorities for the apprehension of Joe Smith and other individuals, and in some instances had gone as far as to imprison the officers charged with their execution. These and similar outrages had been committed again and again with impunity by this band of ruffian outlaws; and yet no measures had been taken by our executive to enforce the laws and protect the peace and dignity of the State. But this was not all. It was equally notorious that they had been for years in the daily practice of plundering the peaceable citizens of Hancock county of their property, and when pursued into Nauvoo, and the property found upon the mormon culprit by the rightful owner, they never failed in proving to the entire satisfaction of the city courts by lying witnesses, that the property had been their's for months or years before. If complaint was made to the Hancock circuit court, the result was the same. The Mormons having entire control of the county offices, whenever they chose, they could have a majority of the grand jury, and consequently no mormon could be indicted on the complaint of an anti-Mormon. The old citizens of Hancock, who had spent years of toil in securing for themselves and families a home, found themselves suddenly and without provocation on their part, stripped of their dearest rights, their property daily and hourly depredated upon without the possibility of redress by an appeal to the law.

They had time and again called for a redress of their grievances, but in vain; yet they continued for years longer to bear with patience all these hardships, in the hope, that in compliance with the provisions of the constitution, Joe Smith would be surrendered to the authorities of Missouri, where he would suffer the penalty of the crimes of which he should be found guilty by due process of law. But in this reasonable hope they were doomed to disappointment, as the following statement will show:

Some eighteen months ago the Governor of Missouri made a requisition upon Gov. Ford. -- The Governor issues his warrant for his arrest, and places it in the hands of the proper officer. The officer finds Joe at Dixon, Ills., and arrests him; but Joe takes the officer by force to Nauvoo, and by the agency of a mock trial, before his City Council, is discharged from custody. The officer repairs to Springfield, applies to Gov. Ford for a military force to enable him to execute the writ, and receives for an answer "That he finds nothing in the Laws or Constitution of the State to authorize him to call out the military for such a purpose;" and consequently Joe Smith is suffered to run at large and continue his depredations on the good people of Hancock county.

Now, mark the remarkable and extraordinary coincidence. At that time a canvass was going on in that District for Congress. It was generally conceded that the Mormon vote would elect the member of Congress; and it was also expected that Joe Smith would throw the Mormon vote for the Whig candidate, on account of personal friendship. Gov. Ford's refusal to call out the military to enforce the law by the arrest of Joe, reaches Nauvoo about two days before the election, and lo, and behold! they vote en mass for Gov. Ford's friend, Mr. Hoge.

Joe Smith now considers himself safe, and gathering impudence from a supposed impunity from arrest, he bids open defiance to the legal authorities of Illinois and Missouri, and riots in his disgusting debaucheries, and as a last and crowning act of tyranny and oppression, he declares a public journal established at Nauvoo, for the purpose of exposing his corruptions to the public, a public nuisance, and directs his Marshal to destroy the press, which was accordingly done, and its proprietors escape with their lives to Warsaw.

The citizens of Hancock now become alarmed for their safety, and finding that the law had on all former occasions failed to redress their grievances, and protect them in their rights, and despairing of all aid from the Executive of the State, resolved to take matters into their own hands and rid themselves of a public nuisance that was laying waste their county, and which had reduced the value of their farms from one and five thousand dollars to as many hundreds.

In the mean time Joe writes letters denouncing the prominent loco foco candidates for the Presidency, and proclaims himself a candidate for that exalted station. A warrant is now issued for Joe Smith and his city council, for destroying the press, by a Justice of the Peace for Hancock county, and as usual it is treated with contempt. The officer applies for a military force to aid the execution of the law, and the Governor very promptly orders out two or three thousand troops and marches them to the scene of action, and commands Joe to surrender, and after much parlaying, billet-doux writing and sundry closetings with Joe's friends; and pledges from his Excellency of immunity from all harm, Joe and Hyrum repair to Carthage and surrender themselves to trial, and give bond for their appearance at the next term of the Hancock county circuit court, to undergo a mock trial before a Mormon jury with Mormon witnesses. They are now arrested on a charge of treason against the State and placed in jail until they could be bound over for trial, which every body knew from past experience would end in a judicial farce.

The citizens of Hancock, seeing that he was about again to escape what they deemed a just retribution for his past crimes, and a recollection of their past injuries, pressing upon them, in a fit of phrenzy, they break into the jail at the risk of their lives, commit an act over which we would, if we could draw the veil of oblivion, however much, as they may suppose and argue there may be in all the circumstances of the provocation to palliate the act. Of one thing we are assured, by persons who have visited the Mormon religion, and that is, that nineteen-twentieths of the anti-Mormons may justly be considered as accessaries either before or after the fact, and are therefore equally guilty with the 200 who were actually detailed to execute the deed.

A general panic now seizes the Governor, and he makes a rapid retreat to Quincy, advising all in his route through Hancock county, to flee to a place of safety, in expectation that the Mormons would revenge the death of their prophets. This apprehension proved groundless; quiet was soon restored, and the troops returned to their homes. The Mormons had imbibed the impression, in consequence, no doubt, of the blundering and unmilitary conduct of the Governor, that he had left their Prophets in Carthage in charge of the Hancock troops, whom they regarded as their most deadly enemy, for the express purpose of giving their enemies an opportunity of assassinating them, and thus remove Joe out of the way of his favorite for the Presidency, James K. Polk.

From that time to this it would seem that he has been labouring to reinstate himself in the confidence of the Mormons. Immediately after the death of the Smiths, he publishes a most violent and vindictive philippic against the citizens of Hancock, in the shape of an official proclamation, calculated to soothe the exasperated feelings of the Mormons, at the expense of a repetition of the tragedy that had been recently enacted, by goading the people of that county on to acts of desperation. This did not have the effect of reconciling the Mormons to the Governor and his party, and they resolved not to participate at all in the election then about to come off for Congress. It was believed and the result, proved, that if they adhered to their resolution the Locofocos must lose a member of Congress. Something more was obliged to be done to avoid so dire a calamity. A second proclamation was issued a few days before the election, filled with violent abuse of the anti-Mormons, and lauding the Mormons for their disposition to obey the law and preserve the peace, and promising them the entire military force of the State if necessary, to protect them from injury from the assaults of the "murderous outlaws" of Hancock county. This document reached Nauvoo a few days before the election; and what follows? The Mormons reverse their decision not to vote at all, and vote in mass the Polk and Dallas ticket, not only in Nauvoo, but throughout the State.

Now admitting it to be true, as his Excellency alledges in his recent letter, that he had acted throughout the entire transactions with a view solely for the preservation of the peace and the character and dignity of the State, without the slightest reference to party considerations; is it not most extraordinary, that throughout his entire official intercourse with the Mormons, every act should have operated to the political advantage of his own party friends? And that every thing should have been so timed as to secure these results, as certainly as that effect follows cause?

The order issued last week to officers of the different counties calling out 1500 men; sets forth in substance, (we quote from memory, not having been able to procure a copy) that "whereas the citizens of Hancock have advertised that a grand military Wolf Hunt will take place in that county on the 27th instant, &c."

Thus it seems 2500 militia are called out and marched to Hancock county, not to execute the law, nor to suppress an insurrection or rebellion, for nothing of the kind actually exists; but for the purpose of preventing an anticipated breach of the peace at some future period.

Now, will it not strike the reader as very strange, that the same Governor who eighteen months ago, could find "nothing in the constitution or laws of the State to justify his calling out the militia" to arrest an individual, surrounded by his Nauvoo Legion of 2,000 armed men, and bidding defiance to an officer, charged with the service of a writ issued by the executive of a sovereign State; can now find ample authority for calling into service 2,500 men, at an expense to the State of at least 40,000 dollars, for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Nauvoo, (who boast of being able to muster 2,000 well drilled troops at a moment's warning;) against an anticipated attack from a party of "Wolf Hunters?" We take the following extract from the Governor's last proclamation, dated July 25th, before alluded to, for the purpose of showing his opinion then, of the ability of the Mormons to protect themselves against any force which the anti-Mormons might bring against them:

I have said to you often that you cannot succeed; by this time you see it yourselves. What can your small force do against two thousand armed men, entrenched in a city, and defending themselves, their wives and their children? Now, we would ask, what has transpired within the last few weeks to render necessary a militia force of 2500 men to protect these same Mormons from an attack from this "small anti-Mormon force." Why this remarkable sensitiveness manifested by the Executive, at this particular time, for the preservation of the peace, and execution of the laws, in the county of Hancock?

It is generally conceded by all acquainted with the state of the public sentiment in the Mormon region, that peace and quietness can never be restored until one party or the other leaves the country. We are free to acknowledge that all our sympathies are with the old citizens of Hancock County. They are identified with us in interest and feeling, and God forbid that through any agency of ours they shall be driven from their homes endeared to them by every association and tie that binds men to earth; in order that a set of lawless debauchees, may riot in their licentiousness over Hancock county, the fairest portion of the State, free and unrestrained; and we will not believe that the people of Illinois will countenance their executive in the adoption of a course of policy calculated to secure such a result. Are they willing to [be] taxed to the amount of hundred[s] of thousands of dollars for the purpose of sustaining in our midst an independent community, with their Legion of 2000 armed men?

This band of Mormons have in the course of four or five years obtained undisputed sway over one county of the State. Should they continue to increase in the same ratio for the future, how long will it be before they will have entire control of the State?

Since the main portion of this article was written, it has been given out, by those who appear to have the confidence of the Governor, that his real object in marching troops into Hancock county, is for the purpose of arresting the band of 200 men who participated in killing the Smiths, in anticipation of their resisting the service of legal process. If this be the Governor's real and sole object, notwithstanding his orders for calling out the troops would seem to imply the contrary, we hope the accused will offer no resistance to the regular operations of the law, but yield implicit obedience to all legal process; and thus show to the world that the denunciations against them by the Governor have been uncalled for and without foundation. He will not deprive them of the privilege of being tried in a neighboring county, where all the circumstances calculated to palliate the offence with which they stand charged will have their weight and influence.

We sincerely hope that nothing will be done by the people of Hancock, calculated to justify the enormous expenditure of public money now being made by the executive of the State, or that shall authorise the assumption of his excellency, that the anti-mormons in that region, are a "riotous disorderly class of people." Let them hear, and forbear a little longer, and the people of Illinois will see to it, as we believe, that their grievances shall be redressed, and they shall be enabled to enjoy, with the mass of our citizens, the peaceable and undisturbed possession of their homes and the rights and privileges which justly belong to them.

Our limits forbid our pursuing the subject further at this time; but we shall advert to it again hereafter. In the meantime we shall keep our readers informed of [all] that transpires of interest to them, at the seat of war.