Mormon Apostle: Dallin Oaks' Shameless Defense of the Outlaw Joseph Smith

Subject: The Legaleze Trapeze of Dallin H. Hoax vs. the Illegal Destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor 
Date: Feb 22, 2006
Author: steve benson

Supreme manipulator, deceiver and Mormon hired gun Dallin H. Oaks [Mormon Apostle] authored an appallingly apologetic defense of Joseph Smith's 1844-ordered destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, entitled "The Suppression of the Nauvoo Expositor", published in the Utah Law Review, vol. 9 (Winter 1965), pp. 862-903.

It was an order, by the way, which led directly to Smith buying the farm in a hail of bullets.

As authors Robert Gottlieb and Peter Wiley observe:

"[When Smith's opponents] founded a newspaper to denounce [him] from inside the holy city [of Nauvoo] itself, Smith took the fatal step of ordering the press destroyed.

“Two weeks later Smith, who had predicted his demise, was jailed . . . along with his brother . . . The jail was soon attacked, and Smith and his brother were shot to death.”

(Robert Gottlieb and Peter Wiley, America’s Saints: The Rise of Mormon Power [New York, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1984], pp. 42-43)

Author Ernest H. Taves notes that, when all was said and shot, Smith had no one else to blame but himself for his fate:

”In the end, [when] the [Nauvoo] City Council declared that the Expositor was guilty of slander and was a nuisance ‘worse than a dead carcass’ and directed . . . mayor [Smith] to eliminate it[,] . . . [h]e did [and] in so doing, [made] perhaps the greatest mistake of his life. He ordered the city marshal and a detail from the [Nauvoo] Legion to destroy the press, pi the type in the street, burn all the papers in the establishment, and (if any resistance was offered to all this) to destroy the building that had housed the press. . . .

“When [William Law] returned [from Carthage to Nauvoo,] he rode through his pied typed, looked at the gutted building, and saw his furniture in the street.

“The stage was set for the final act.”

(Ernest H. Taves, Trouble Enough: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon [Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Press, 1984], pp. 202-03), emphasis added

Surprise, Surprise: The Mormon Church's Official Propaganda Arm FARMS Backs Oaks’ Defense of the Expositor’s Destruction

Falling back on Oaks' slippery defense of Smith's unlawful act, FARMS apologist Elden J. Watson justifies Smith's illegal order to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor in a review of the book, Cultures in Conflict: A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois, by John E. Hallwas and Roger D. Launius.

In typical fancy-fudging FARMS fashion, Watson predictably whines that the book in question is "anti-Mormon" but, just as predictably, fails to offer any fact-based refutation of the authors' premise--resorting, instead, to huffing and puffing in hyperbolic histrionics, as he merely refers his audience to Oaks' article, without bothering to go into any details:

"There is one more item I would like to comment on before closing. The destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor is perhaps the keystone of the authors' presentation. It is one of the most reiterated and frequently mentioned topics throughout the volume.

“Time and time again the authors allude to this incident as the prime documented example of an illegal and aggressive action perpetrated by Joseph Smith and other leaders of the Church against a few upstanding and honorable men of the community who wanted nothing more than a reform of the Church.

"These claims were answered before they were ever raised, but because the primary legitimate and accepted scholarly assessment of the action taken against the Nauvoo Expositor does not agree with their presumptions, the authors discard it with a mere wave of the hand [quote]:

‘Dallin H. Oaks, former justice on the Utah Supreme Court and present apostle in the church, has tried to pound a square peg into a round hole in seeking to legitimate the clearly illegal act of destroying the Expositor in June 1844. See Dallin H. Oaks, "The Suppression of the Nauvoo Expositor," Utah Law Review, 9 (Winter 1965): 862-903. (p. 9 n. 6)'

"The authors' authority for dismissing forty pages of documentation, detailed legal examination, discussion, and findings by a former member of the Utah Supreme Court is that 'virtually everyone except the Latter-day Saints' considered it illegal at the time and that Governor Ford, 'as fair an individual as was present in the Mormon conflict,' called the action 'irregular and illegal, and not to be endured in a free country' (p. 9, n. 6).

"They make the additional unsupported assertion that [Illinois] Governor [Thomas] Ford was an authority on constitutional law, but neglect to indicate what bearing that may have on Elder Oaks's review.

"Oaks's review responds thoroughly and sufficiently to the legality of the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor."

(Elden J. Watson,“Cultured Conflicts: History Served on the Half Shell,” at

Oh, yeah? So you say.

Or, better yet, bray.

Hold Your Horses There, FARMS: Oaks Actually Admits that Joseph Smith Unlawfully Ordered the Destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor

In reality, Oaks himself admitted in the article to which Watson robotically refers that Smith broke the law in ordering the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor:

"The characterization of the printing press as a nuisance, and its subsequent destruction, is another matter. The common law authorities on nuisance abatement generally, and especially those on summary abatement, were emphatic in declaring that abatement must be limited by the necessities of the case, and that no wanton or unnecessary destruction of property could be permitted. A party guilty of excess was liable in damages for trespass to the party injured. . . .

"[T]here was no legal justification in 1844 for the destruction of the Expositor press as a nuisance. Its libelous, provocative, and perhaps obscene output may well have been a public and a private nuisance, but the evil article was not the press itself but the way in which it was being used.

"Consequently, those who caused or accomplished its destruction were liable for money damages in an action of trespass."

(Oaks, "Suppression of Nauvoo Expositor, pp. 890-891), emphasis added

In a separate and later examination, Oaks also admits that the Nauvoo Expositor was demolished, on orders of Smith, without the benefit of due process of law:

”[Smith] urged that the newspaper be declared a nuisance and destroyed without judicial process, a procedure supported by Blackstone. . . . “John Taylor, a city councilman and high-ranking church leader, agreed, saying that the Expositor ‘stinks in the nose of every honest man.’ . . .

“[Smith] won over most of the council. They passed an ordinance declaring the newspaper a public nuisance and issued an order to the mayor to have it abated. Joseph Smith, acting as mayor, ordered the city marshal to destroy the newspaper and press without delay and instructed the major general of the Nauvoo Legion to have the militia assist. Shortly [thereafter], citizens and legionnaires marched to the Expositor office and smashed the press, scattering the type as they did so.”

(Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith [Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1976], p. 15), emphasis added

But, Wait: Oaks Then Famously (and Faithfully) Flip-Flops

Despite his confession that Smith broke the law in ordering the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, Oaks apparently can’t stay honest for long and ultimately contends/pretends that in other respects, Smith did not break the law:

First he writes:

"In view of the law discussed . . . in Blackstone, . . . [there] seems to have been sufficient to give the Nauvoo City Council considerable basis in the law of their day for their action in characterizing the published issues of the Nauvoo Expositor as a nuisance and in summarily abating them by destruction."

(“The Illegal Destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor", at )

Oaks' Unenlightened and Unlawful Reading of the Law

There are significant problems, however, with Oaks' above excuses, as noted below:

"Oaks' position is that the First Amendment didn't apply to the suppression of the Expositor because the doctrine of 'incorporation' (which was developed during the New Deal era) wasn't in force at the time. So state and local governments, such as the Nauvoo City Council, weren't [Oaks claims] bound by the First Amendment.

"There are two BIG problems with this defense. First, the Nauvoo Charter (which is available on-line) EXPRESSLY incorporated the U.S. and Illinois State Constitutions, with their respective protections of the freedom of speech, press, assembly, etc.

"So Oaks' legal argument is a tissue of sheer sophistry.

"Second, Oaks and other Morg leaders persist in upbraiding President Van Buren for his statement: 'Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you,' as if this were a cowardly dereliction of duty.

"But Van Buren was right: He could only have intervened in Missouri on the application of the state government for help in quelling an insurrection.

"Why is this important? Simple: Oaks' claim that the suppression of the Expositor was constitutional and legal rests on a strict federalist interpretation of the Constitution (allowing for Oaks' dishonest treatment of the Nauvoo Charter).

"The same is true of Van Buren's infamous statement. So, strict federalism would justify mob action by Mormons, but supposedly wouldn't justify Washington's refusal to quell mob action against them."

("Oaks, Smith and the Constitution," authored by "Will,"
14 March 2003, at ; and "Nauvoo Charter," at ), original emphasis

The Nauvoo Expositor and the U.S. Constitution: Both Nuisances to Joseph Smith

The patent illegality of the Nauvoo City Council's action in ordering (on Smith's command] the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor press is beyond serious debate, despite what Deceptive Dallin wants others to believe. Smith's destruction of the Expositor press clearly violated the U.S. Constitution, as acknowledged by Brigham Young University’s own website:

"With the powers granted by the [Nauvoo] city charter, they [the City Council] declared the newspaper a nuisance, as they felt its declarations threatened the security of the city. They authorized the mayor (Joseph Smith) to see that the nuisance was abated.

"[Smith] instructed the city marshal to abate the nuisance which he and his men accomplished by breaking into the printing shop, throwing the press into street where it was smashed with a sledge hammer, dumping the type into the street, and burning the undistributed copies of the newspaper.

"Such an extra-legal method of abating a newspaper was not without precedent in Illinois (though not in keeping with long established practices concerning abatement of a public press), but it was viewed as a violation to the federal Constitution which forbids destruction of property without due process of law. The city council had only the authority to abate the nuisance by suspending further publication of the paper pending a court hearing which would determine whether it was a public nuisance.

"The proprietor of the paper went to Carthage and swore out a warrant for the 18 members of the City Council, charging that they had violated the federal Constitution by destroying property with the resultant implication of 'suppression of the freedom of the press.'

"In response to the charge, 15 members of the Nauvoo City Council appeared before the justice of the peace in Carthage on Tuesday, June 25, and were bound over to the next term of the circuit court on bail of $500 each. Jointly they posted $7500 in bonds . . .

"[The Smiths], however, remained in Carthage to have an interview with Governor Ford. While awaiting audience with him, they were arrested on charges of treason and rioting for having used some of the Nauvoo Legion to assist the town marshal in the destruction of Expositor equipment. For this charge they were committed to the Carthage jail that afternoon."

("The Nauvoo Expositor Office Which Joseph Smith Destroyed," quoted from BYU’s website, at )

Contrary to claims often advanced by Mormons defending the indefensible actions of Smith against the Nauvoo Expositor, the city of Nauvoo--despite its supposedly all-powerful municipal charter--was not a sovereign entity. Therefore, Nauvoo (meaning its mayor/council form of government) was ultimately subordinate to laws of the state of Illinois, as well as to those of the nation, as embodied in the U.S. Constitution.

As one student of the subject observes:

"Nauvoo was not a 'sovereign entity.' It was a city just like any other, and was subordinate to the laws and authority of Hancock County, which seat was at Carthage. That's why, after Smith ordered the Expositor press destroyed, its owners went to Carthage to file charges; lawmen from Carthage attempted to enter Nauvoo to arrest Smith; and Smith eventually submitted to arrest at Carthage.

"Nauvoo was most certainly not a 'theocracy independent of the state of Illinois.' Joseph Smith & Co. may have secretly planned for it to be that way, but it certainly was not true, legally speaking. Mayor Joseph Smith could not legally 'pardon himself if he broke the law.' In fact, it was his abuse of state and federal laws which led to his arrest and murder. And Smith's illegal pardoning of other criminals in Nauvoo added fuel to the flames.

Even [Mormon historian] B.H. Roberts noted that the Nauvoo Charter allowed nothing that was 'inconsistent with the constitution of the United States, and the State Constitution of Illinois.' (The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo, p. 80.)

"No municipal laws can override state laws, and no state laws can override federal laws. . . ."

("Nao crer, please read . . .," post by "Randy J.," Recovery from Mormonism board, 23 February 2006, at )

Unable to deny the actual facts concerning the Nauvoo City Charter, the LDS-biased and –published Encyclopedia of Mormonism acknowledges that it was ultimately subject to the overriding authority of the Illinois and federal constitutions:

”The Nauvoo document . . . was much like the charters of other Illinois cities. . . .

“One important provision stated that the Nauvoo Council could pass any ordinance not repugnant to the constitutions of the United States or to that of Illinois. . . . Ordinances passed by the Nauvoo Council could be in direct violation or disregard of state law and still be valid in Nauvoo, provided they did not conflict with specific powers granted by the federal and state constitutions. Leaders of the city militia, known as the Nauvoo Legion, and the [U]niversity [of the City of Nauvoo] trustees could also pass laws, limited only by state and federal constitutions.”

Which is a big “only.”

(James I. Kimball, Jr., “Nauvoo Charter,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism: : The History, Scriptures, Doctrine, and Procedures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 3 [New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992], p. 994), emphasis added

Even Mormon Historians Disagree with Oaks on This One

Moreover, despite Oaks' mischievous misdirects, BYU history professor Thomas G. Alexander has explicitly and publicly acknowledged that there existed " no legal justification for the destruction of the [Nauvoo Expositor] press, and the proprietors might have sued the council for recovery of the machine's value."

(Thomas Alexander, "The Church and the Law," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 1, Summer 1966, pp. 123-24), emphasis added

Even apologetic LDS historians harboring obvious sympathies for scoundrel Smith--such as Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton--acknowledge his panicked rush to judgment over the publication of the Expositor’s damning revelations, while also noting that alternatives to the newspaper’s destruction were available:

”In the spring of 1844 . . . a small group of Mormon dissidents [in Nauvoo] founded a counter-organization and began publishing the . . . Expositor. They got out only one issue . . . which contained inflammatory allegations about the sex lives of the Mormon leaders and members.

“Smith, who was mayor, his brother Hyrum, vice-mayor, and the City Council, citing Blackstone on a community’s right to abate as a nuisance anything that disturbs the peace, declared the newspaper libelous and a public nuisance endangering civil order, and directed the city marshal to destroy that issue and the press.

“Some had argued for merely fining the libelers simply burning the papers, but Smith said he would ‘rather die tomorrow and have the thing smashed, than live and have it go on, for it was exciting the spirit of mobocracy . . . and bringing death and destruction upon us.’ The Council, which included at least one non-Mormon, concurred.

“Nothing could have provided better ammunition for the anti-Mormons in Illinois . . . Although suppression of inflammatory periodicals was not without precedent and abatement of a nuisance was within the powers of the city council, leaders of the anti-Mormon party were quick to raise the issue of freedom of the press.”

(Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints [New York, New York: Alfred A,[, Knopf, 1979], pp. 77-78), emphasis added

Adding fuel to the Expositor fire, former assistant Mormon Church historian under Arrington, James B. Allen, admitted that Smith "acted illegally" in ordering the destruction of the newspaper:

". . . [W]hen Joseph Smith ordered the actual destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor printing press, he provided his enemies with a clearly legitimate means of arresting him for violation of the law. They seized upon this to inflame the public even more, and this led directly to [his] assassination.

"Some people may be disturbed by the suggestion that Joseph Smith acted illegally in this instance, but it is important to understand that under the tense pressures of the times he, too, may have made a mistake."

(James B. Allen, Brigham Young University Today, March 1976, p.10, quoted in Jerald and Sandra Tanner, “Destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor: Answering Dr. Clandestine. A Response to the Anonymous LDS historian,” at ). emphasis added

Allen, together with fellow Mormon historian Glen M. Leonard, also (albeit reluctantly and not surprisingly, since they were writing under the guiding influence of the LDS Church Historical Department) noted that the Nauvoo City Council ultimately exceeded—at least in certain respects--its legal authority in its questionable decision to have the Expositor demolished:

“The councilmen suspended one of their own members, non-Mormon Sylvester Emmons, who was editor of the Expositor, and discussed the identity of the publishers and the intent of the newspaper.

“After analyzing legal precedents and municipal codes, the Council decided the paper was a public nuisance that had slandered individuals in the city. . . . [T]he Council acted under the nuisance ordinance. The mayor, Joseph Smith, then ordered the city marshal to destroy the press, scatter the type, and burn available papers. Within hours the order had been executed. The publishers, ostensibly fearing for their personal safety, fled to Carthage, where they obtained an arrest warrant against the Nauvoo City Council on a charge of riot.”

Allen and Leonard then seek to defend the shaky constitutionality of the Council’s command decision to destroy the newspaper press:

“The Council had acted legally in its right to abate a nuisance, though contemporary legal opinion allowed only the destruction of published issues of an offending paper, not the destruction of the printing press itself. The city fathers had not violated the constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press, though they had probably erred in violating property rights.”

(James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, Published in Collaboration with the Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1976], p. 192), emphasis added

Then-Mormon and noted historian Fawn M. Brodie, is far less reluctant to point out the breathtakingly unconstitutional nature of Smith’s un-American assault on the Expositor:

”Calling together the City Council, [Smith] ordered a trial, not of the apostates, but of the Expositor itself. It was a strange, high-handed proceeding. There were no jury, no lawyers, no witnesses for the defense. The councilors simply stood up, one after another, and accused the editors of seduction, pandering, counterfeiting, and thievery. . . .

“Then he went on to add . . . to his list of denials of polygamy . . .

“The City Council now declared that the press was libelous and must be destroyed. [Smith] issued a proclamation declaring it a civic nuisance; a portion of the Legion marched to the office, wrecked the press, pied the type, and burned every issue of the hated paper that could be found. . . .

“. . . [F]or [Smith] . . . to indulge in [the] sport [of destroying an Illinois newspaper was] . . . a violation of the holy Constitution. It was a greater breach of political and legal discipline than the anti-Mormons could have hoped for. Joseph could not have done better for his enemies, since he had at last given them a fighting moral issue."

Brodie then describes the response Illinois Governor Ford’s reaction to Smith’s unabashed law-breaking:

”When Thomas Ford learned of the burning of the Expositor, he went directly to Carthage for an investigation, determined to call out the militia if necessary to bring the offenders to justice. . . . Ford wrote to the prophet demanding that he and everyone else implicated in the destruction of the Expositor submit immediately to the Carthage constable and come to that city for trial. . . .

“. . . Ford brought a discriminating and sensitive intelligence and a stubborn loyalty for the law. . . .

“Ford himself came to the [Carthage] jail and talked with the prophet for several hours. . . . They argued back and forth, testing each other’s sincerity and strength . . . [ending up in strong disagreement on] the wrecking of the Expositor.

“’The press in the United States is looked upon as the great bulwark of American freedom,’ Ford insisted [to Smith], ‘and its destruction in Nauvoo was represented and looked upon as a high-handed measure, and manifests to the people a disposition on your part to suppress the liberty of speech and of the press.'”

(Fawn B. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet [New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983], pp. 377, 388-89), emphasis added

LDS historian Donna Hill describes succinctly the wayward activities of Smith that led to his untimely demise:

”About two weeks before his death he had defied the sacred American precept of freedom of the press by demolishing an opposition newspaper . . . the Nauvoo Expositor, on the grounds that it was libelous and a public nuisance.”

Hill then explains Smith’s twisted thinking, where he decided that allowing the Nauvoo Expositor to continue publishing its embarrassing revelations would interfere with Smith’s grandiose plans to, among other things, take over the world and impose a Mormon theocracy:

"[Smith's]. . . tolerance . . . of the continued publication of . . . the newspaper would [have] disrupt[ed] the harmony of his religious community, endanger[ed] his candidacy for the highest office in the land, threaten[ed] the establishment of the political kingdom of God and, in short, dash[ed] all his dearest hopes.

"To suppress his enemies and their newspaper would [have been] a violation of those principles of freedom on which he was now so vigorously campaigning for office.

"To sue the paper for libel over issues that were already charged with emotion [such as Smith's 'moral imperfections,' i.e., polygamy] would [have] expose[d] him to sensational publicity, even if he should win, which was not likely. To lose such a suit would [have] endanger[ed] the city charter and might [have] result[ed] in the dissolution of the city government, or its assumption by dissenters."

What, then, to do?

Smith chose to simply ignore the U.S. Constitution:

"In a session [of the Nauvoo City Council], [Smith] read aloud and denied the charges in the Expositor. He declared that the Constitution did not authorize the publication of libel. . . . Hyrum Smith pronounced the paper a nuisance. Another councilman defined 'nuisance' as anything that disturbed the peace . . . Another councilor found and cited a passage in Blackstone on public wrongs.

"Hyrum suggested that the best solution would be to smash the press and pie the type.

"One councilor by the name of Warrington, a non-Mormon, proposed instead that the council levy a fine of $3,000 for every libel, but [Joseph] Smith protested that not would dare to go to Carthage to prosecute, and that his own life had been threatened there.

"The council found the Expositor guilty of libel, declared it a public nuisance and directed [Smith], as mayor, to have the nuisance removed. [Smith] immediately ordered the marshal, with the aid of troops under Jonathan Dunham, acting major general of the Nauvoo Legion, to destroy the press. . . .

"[That] same day . . . the marshal and a contingent of the Legion marched out at [Smith's] order and wrecked the press, broke down what had been set up . . ., spilled the type into the street and burned every printed sheet in the office."

The Governor of Illinois was not pleased.

Hill writes:

"[In a subsequent meeting with Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage, Governor Ford] . . . came to the conclusion that the proceedings of the Nauvoo City Council, court and mayor had been illegal on many counts . . .

"In [a] message [delivered to Joseph Smith] and the City Council . . . Ford said:

"'I now express to you my opinion that your conduct in the destruction of the press was a very gross outrage upon the laws and the liberties of the people. It may have been full of libels, but this did not authorize you to destroy it.

"'There are many newspapers in this state which have been wrongfully abusing me [Ford] for more than a year, and yet such is my regard for the liberty of the press and the rights of a free people in a republican government that I would shed the last drop of my blood to protect those presses from any illegal violence.’

"Ford continued that the Mormons had violated at least four principles of the Constitution: that the press should be free, that proprietors of a libelous press may be brought to trial but had the right to give evidence, that the people should not be subject to search and seizure of their property without due process and that there should be no union of legislative and judicial powers in the same body. . . .

“[Joseph and Hyrum Smith], John Taylor, Porter Rockwell, William W. Phelps and thirteen other members of the Nauvoo City Council were [eventually] charged with riot in destroy the . . . and were released on bond of five hundred dollars each, to appear at the next term of the circuit court.”

(Donna Hill, Joseph Smith, the First Mormon: The definitive story of a complex man and the people who knew him (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1977], pp. 2, 393-95, 399-400, 402, 410), emphasis added

Mormon writer William E. Bennett admits that Smith’s criminal assault on the offices of a free press resulted in his ultimate undoing:

”’[The destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor] proved to be the spark which ignited all the smoldering fires of opposition into one great flame . . . The cry that the ‘freedom of the press’ was being violated, united the factions seeking the overthrow of the Saints as perhaps nothing else would have done.’ . . ."

After citing Bennett, author Richard Abanes further details the legal entanglements now closing fast around Smith:

“In response to Smith’s actions, those opposing the Mormon prophet filed a complaint against him in Hancock County, Illinois, claiming that Smith had violated the freedom of the press. Smith was arrested, but quickly tried in Nauvoo and released. The opposition immediately accused Smith of manipulating the law. Suddenly, the familiar thread of mob violence surrounded Nauvoo. Smith declared martial law . . . and put his troops on full alert.

“Illinois Governor Ford then stepped into the situation, demanding that Smith give himself up to be tried in Carthage, Illinois. But [Smith], along with his brother, Hyrum, decided instead to flee into Iowa. Once there, however, they began to have misgivings about running from the law.

“First, they had abandoned their flock, which produced in them a significant degree of guilt.

“Second, their presence in Iowa did not insure their safety since that territory’s governor had never agreed to ignore Missouri’s extradition order for Smith on [an] old charge of treason.

“Third, Smith’s departure had left the Saints with virtually no leadership since many of the loyal apostles were away on missions.

“Fourth, a messenger informed Smith that the Nauvoo Legion had divided between those who wanted to defend the city and those who wanted to flee.

“So back across the Mississippi both he and Hyrum journeyed, continuing on to Carthage, where they were placed in the town’s jailhouse.”

(Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church[New York, New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002], p. 198), emphasis added

Even the LDS -biased and -published Encyclopedia of Mormonism has been forced to admit that Smith’s illegal assault on the offices of a free press provided ample reason for his arrest:

[Smith’s prompt order to] the city marshal to destroy the press and burn all the copies of the paper . . . justified or not, played into the hands of the opposition. It riled anti-Mormon sentiment throughout Hancock County and provided substance for the charges used by the opposition to hold Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail, where he was murdered on June 27, 1844.”

(Reed C. Durham, Jr., “Nauvoo Expositor,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 3, p. 997), emphasis added

Indeed, the “substance” to which Mormonism’s Encyclopedia blandly refers was broadly outlined in the Nauvoo Expositor--that is, before Smith destroyed the press in a futile attempt to cover up the illegal and immoral acts of himself and his associate--and which was subsequently followed by the destruction of other private property owned by those who had published the newspaper. These acts of lawlessness quickly formed the legal justification for the arrest and imprisonment of Smith at Carthage:

”On June 7th, 1844, the first and only edition of the Nauvoo Expositor was published. This paper exposed polygamy and some of the other illegal activities of Church leaders. Smith ordered this printing press destroyed. He also ordered all copies of this newspaper to be confiscated and burned.

“The next day a mill and some other buildings belonging to the Laws, Higbees, Fosters, and others who printed the Nauvoo Expositor were also destroyed. These men and their families who dared to question Smith’s unlimited power were forced to flee Nauvoo for their lives! Smith and his outlaws were on a rampage.

“Soon after the Nauvoo Expositor incident, several warrants were issued by state and county authorities for the arrest of Joseph [and] Hyrum [Smith], and a number of other Church leaders. Charges included treason against the State of Illinois, polygamy, adultery, resisting arrest, destruction of property, and perjury.

“These new charges, in addition to . . . old Ohio and Missouri charges along with [an] outstanding warrant for high treason by the President of the United States certainly justify calling Smith an ‘outlaw.’ Unfortunately, Smith was turned into a martyr before he could stand trial for his crimes.”

(Arza Evans, The Keystone of Mormonism [St. George, Utah: Keystone Books, Inc., 2003], p. 162), emphasis added

Non-Mormon Historians Also Conclude That Smith Violated the Law in Ordering the Demolition of the Nauvoo Expositor

Noted journalists Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, dispassionately report the events surrounding the irrational and illegal trashing of the Expositor on the orders of a deeply desperate Smith:

”In the context of the times, and for dissidents [in Nauvoo] who had been denied a public forum, [the Expositor’s] writers were relatively restrained in their wording. The paper advanced a desire for a ‘reformation in the Church,’ ‘hazarding every earthly blessing, particularly property, and probably life itself, striking this blow at tyranny and oppression.’

“It argued against polygamy, political intrigue, ‘false doctrines’ such as the ‘doctrine of many Gods’ preached in Smith’s [King] Follett sermon, the habeas corpus provision of the city charter, Smith’s participation in Nauvoo land speculation, and acknowledgment of ‘any man as king or law-giver to the church, for Christ is our only king and law-giver.’

“Robert Foster and William and Jane Law included signed affidavits that they had read the text of the prophet’s secret revelation on plural marriage, and that [Smith’s] brother Hyrum had introduced the revelation in secret council.

“An emergency meeting of Nauvoo’s city council was called . . . Since polygamy was not legal in Illinois (and not publicly acknowledged by the church until 1852 from the safe vantage point of Utah), Hyrum Smith blandly reaffirmed past official denials of plural marriage, assuring the council that his brother’s 1843 revelation was not for modern times; it referred only to ancient days. Therefore, the Expositor had libeled Smith.

“The Expositor, of course, was a clear threat to the prophet’s control of Nauvoo. In addition to the publicly denied polygamy, some of Smith’s political activities represented a radical break from the normal parameters of Jacksonian democracy: Smith knew that someone had betrayed him by giving information to Foster and Law. . . . But [Smith], as mayor of Nauvoo, declared action was essential because the Expositor faction would ‘destroy the peace of the city’ and foment a ‘mob spirit.’”

The Ostlings then cut Smith an undeserved break, but still leave him a criminal:

“With the backing of his Council, Smith ordered that the new paper be smashed and all possible copies of the press run destroyed. The spirit of the Bill of Rights may thus have been grossly violated, but technically, under Illinois law at the time and Nauvoo’s charter, the only crime committed by Smith . . . was a violation of privacy rights. The following day Law was informed of a murder plot against him and his associates. Aware of the prophet’s security forces and the well-armed Legion, Law and Foster fled with their families from Nauvoo.”

Then, commenting on how the Mormon Church has historically misrepresented the events surrounding the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, the Ostlings describe the brash LDS propaganda film, “Legacy,” which became a popular, featured fixture for faithful Mormons flocking to Temple Square:

”Smith dies off-camera with someone crying, ‘They’ve killed him! They’ve murdered Joseph Smith at the Carthage Jail!’ There is no scene that shows the smashing of the Expositor press or gives a real clue to the issues raised by the newspaper. The drama and scenery of the trek are so beautifully photographed that many Mormons [saw] the movie over and over, every time they visit[ed] Temple Square.”

(Richard N. Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, [San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999], pp. 15-16, 242), emphasis added

A Prominent Resident of Nauvoo At the Time of the Expositor’s Destruction Expresses Uncertainty Over the Legality of Smith’s Demolition Order

Historian H. Michael Marquardt sets the scene:

”Joseph Smith . . . commanded the city marshal to destroy the printing press, pi the type in the street, and burn all the Expositor papers.

“William Clayton reported:

“’The city council passed a resolution declaring the printing press on the hill a “nuisance” and ordered it destroyed, in not moved in three hours notice. About sundown the police gathered at the Temple . . . and after organizing, proceeded to the office and demolished the press and scattered the type.’

“Vilate Kimball wrote to her [Mormon apostle] husband Heber about the activities of that day:

“’Nauvoo was a scene of confusion last night. Some [one] hundred of the Brethren turned out and burned the printing press, and all the apparatus pertaining to the office of the opposite party; this was done by order of the City Council. They had only published one paper, which is considered a public nuisance, but I do not know whether it will be considered so in the eyes of the Law or not. They have sworn revenge, and no doubt they will have it.’”

(H. Michael Marquardt, The Rise of Mormonism: 1816-1844 [Longwood, Florida: Xulon Press, 2005], pp. 632-33), emphasis added

Giving Oaks the Benefit of the Doubt, He Still Comes Up Empty-handed and Empty-headed

Even if, as some have suggested, existing law in 1844 was unclear on the matter of the legality of the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, it was nonetheless a matter of law at the time that the city of Nauvoo would have required Illinois state sanction in order to take action against the newspaper:

"Even without an [authorizing city] ordinance, . . . the city of Nauvoo could have relied upon the long-existing common law doctrines of nuisance and libel. The city might also have acted upon the common law of eminent domain, which allows the government to take private property for public use.

"Such a taking, however, would have required, under the Illinois 'Takings Clause,' that the taking be approved by the Illinois general assembly, . . . that just compensation be given (Art. VIII, clause 11)."

("Nauvoo Expositor," at "Wikipedia," ), emphasis added

Summing Up Smith: Damn the Constitution, Full Speed Ahead

As Loren Franck writes in his "Ten Lies I Told as a Missionary:"

"It did not matter that they [the Nauvoo City Council] did not have legal authority to [destroy the presses of the Nauvoo Expositor. . . .

“It did not matter that the sole reason for declaring it a 'public nuisance' was that it publicly dared to state that Joseph Smith was a polygamist and had established a political Kingdom of God on earth, both of which were true. . . .

“The press had to go and the Mayor, conveniently none other than Joseph Smith himself, saw to it with a vengeance."

(Loren Franck, “Ten Lies I Told as a Missionary,” at ), emphasis added

Sigh . . .

It must be tough being a Mormon apologist when there is so much to apologize for.

Subject: Okay, Let's Look At Oaks' Description of the Nauvoo Expositor As Well . . .
Date: Feb 23 02:34
Author: SL Cabbie

Here's a link showing the original . . .

"There was no legal justification in 1844 for the destruction of the Expositor press as a nuisance. Its libelous, provocative, and perhaps obscene output may well have been a public and a private nuisance, but the evil article was not the press itself but the way in which it was being used."

Provocative? Possibly . . . Obscene? I invite the reader to determine this for himself . . . Libelous? Oaks as a lawyer knows full well that truth is a 100% certain defense against charges of libel . . .

I wonder if Oaks has even looked at the newspaper himself . . .

Subject: Text of Nauvoo Expositor
Date: Feb 23 12:24
Author: Doubting Thomasina

Thank you, Steve. That was a very interesting read. I have William Law to thank for my own awakening. Last August as I began to confront my own doubts about the Cult by reading historical research, I read the Nauvoo Expositor. And I also read an interview with William Law when he was in his 80s.

There is nothing obscene in the paper--publishing the Nauvoo Expositor was an act of bravery to reveal polygamy, to reveal the illegal theocracy of Nauvoo and other matters. In the interview I read, Law is so remorseful of his association with Mormonism. In this interview he says that he doesn't think the Smith brothers should have been murdered, that they should stood trial.

After I read these documents, I thought ruefully about how I have stood in Carthage Jail and wept for the martyred prophet.

There are voices from the past and those in the present the LDS church cannot ignore much longer and will have to face. I would be willing to bet most church members, even the more thoughtful ones, have never really read the text of the Nauvoo Expositor.

Things haven't changed much, have they?

Subject: The church has classically used the term "Trumped-up charges" but...
Date: Feb 23 18:06
Author: Gad

it's obvious that The Expositor was the victim of such charges. And WHAT LIABLE?! It was telling the truth



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