Mormon History

Memory of Encounter with Joe Smith - 1875

The Salt Lake Daily Tribune June 5, 1875


Graphic Account of an Interview
Between Joe Smith and
Peter Cartwright.

Cincinnati, O., May 28, 1875.      

Eds. Tribune: A few nights ago, Terrill, the murderer of Harvey Myors, stepped into a book store in Cincinnati and called for the autobiography of Peter Cartwright, the pioneer Methodist of Illinois. He wanted to read up a little on


Cartwright says, "Soon after the Mormons were driven from Missouri, I became acquainted with many of the leading men, and was formally introduced to Joe Smith, in Springfield, then our county town. We were soon engaged on religion -- Mormonism in particular -- and I found him to be a very illiterate and impudent desperado in morals, having a vast deal of low cunning. Joe made an [onset] on me by flattering, laying on the soft sodder thick and fast. He expressed unbounded pleasure in the privilege of becoming acquainted with me, one among God's noblest creatures, an honest man. * * * gave him rope, as the sailors say, and he preceeded to express his belief that "the Methodists of all the churches in the land were nearest right, but they had stopped short by not claiming gift of tongues, prophecy and miracles," quoting a batch of Scripture to prove his positions correct. He did


and went on to say: "Indeed,if the Methodists would only advance a step or two, they would take the world. We Latter Day Saints are Methodists, only a little more so; and if you would come in, we could sweep not only the Methodist Church, but all others, and you would be looked up to as one of the Lord's greatest prophets. You would be honored by countless thousands, and have of this world's good things


I criticized Joe's explanations, till, unfortunately, we got into high dispute, when he cunningly concluded that the bait of flattery would not take, as I was not to be wheedled out of common sense and honesty, so he moved upon my fears, saying, In all ages the right and good way has been evil spoken of, and it is an awful thing to fight against God."

"Now," said he, "if you will go with me to Nauvoo, I will show you living witnesses who will testify that they were cured, by the saints, of all the diseases flesh is heir to. I will show you that we have the gift of tongues, can speak in unknown languages, and that the Saints can drink any deadly poison without being hurt." He closed by saying, "the idle stories you hear about us are nothing but sheer persecution." I then gave him an account of some Mormons who came to one of my camp meetings in Morgan county. These Mormons, twenty or thirty in number, came to the meeting, took their position, did some singing, and then put forward an old woman to blather in an unknown tongue. She swooned -- into her husband's arms, and, on coming to, sure enough began to talk in an unknown tongue. The manoeuver was to bring the Mormons into notice and break up our meeting. So coming up I took the old woman by the arm saying, I would hear nothing of such presumptuous, blasphemous nonsense, and told her peremptorily to hush her gibberish. She opend her eyes, says, "My dear friend, I have a message from God to you," but I stopped her saying, "I'll have none of your messages. If God cannot speak through any better medium than a lying, hypocritical old woman, I will not hear it." The husband flew into a great rage, but I cleared them from the place, and was informed that this same husband had been recently caught


Joe became restive, and at the conclusion of my story, his wrath boiled over and he cursed me in the name of his God, and said, "I will show you, sir, that I will raise up a government that will overturn the United States Government, and a religion that will overthrow every form of religion in this country!"

"But," said I, "Uncle Joe, the Bible says the bloody and deceitful man shall not live out half his days, and I expect the Lord will send the devil after you some of these days, and take you out of the way."

"No, sir," said he, "I shall live and prosper, while you will die in your sins."

"Well," said I, "if you live and prosper, you must stop your


From which last remark of that redoubtable Peter it doth appear that Joseph did -- !

Note: The Tribune account is a paraphrase of Rev. Peter Cartwright's words, not an exact reproduction.