, Journal Excerpt, 23–27 June 1844; handwriting of ; nineteen pages; in Willard Richards, Journal, CHL. Portions of some entries were written in pencil before they were overwritten in ink.
JS’s journal, kept by , ended with the entry of 22 June 1844, just before JS left , Illinois, in company with Richards, , and . Richards, who remained with JS until the moment of JS’s death on 27 June, evidently left JS’s journal in Nauvoo when the four men departed for , Illinois. Richards, however, recorded in his own journal many of the events of the last five days of JS’s life. These events include JS’s arrival on the bank in on the morning of 23 June and his trip to Carthage, during which JS and Hyrum gave themselves up to authorities on the charge of treason. Richards’s journal also recounts JS’s activities in Carthage during the days preceding his and Hyrum’s deaths. The material Richards recorded in his own journal during this time is in the same format and style as the record he had been keeping for JS. Richards’s hasty, terse notations and precise attention to details—illustrated by his practice of recording the specific times events occurred—indicate that he continuously carried his journal with him and recorded many of the events as he witnessed them, possibly with the intention of using the record to fill in JS’s journal at a later date. Richards’s journal entries for 23–27 June 1844 provide a contemporaneous firsthand account of JS’s activities during the last five days of his life, and they are reproduced here in full. Richards first inscribed portions of these entries in pencil and then rewrote them in ink. In a few cases, while overwriting, he skipped or altered the original penciled text. The transcription here reproduces the final ink version and does not capture the slight variations in the penciled text.
<Joseph> said I have had a good deal of anxiety about my safety. which I never did before— I could n[o]t help.—
1/2 Past 12 noon . arived came in with a letter fr[o]m .— (Filed)— said he had got the magistrate on a pin hook the Magistrate had committd— them without examination— & had no further jurisdiction.— if Justice [Robert] Smith would consent to go to for examatin [examination]—
JS had been arrested in Far West, Missouri, on 31 October 1838 and remained in custody of Missouri officials until 16 April 1839, when he was allowed to escape. According to JS’s history, JS also “spoke of . . . the shameful kidnapping of his witnesses” in Missouri “and their being thrust into prison to prevent them from giving their testimony in his favor”—a reference to events that transpired during the court of inquiry held 12–29 November 1838 before Judge Austin A. King in Richmond, Missouri. (JS History, vol. F-1, 164; “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Sept. 1840, 1:162–163.)
Thomas Ford may have repeated the same points he made in his 22 June 1844 letter to JS—that is, that the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor press violated the constitutional protection of freedom of the press and the guarantee against being deprived of “life liberty or property” without due process of law, and that the Nauvoo city council, a legislative body, assumed judicial powers it did not have when it deemed the press a nuisance. (Thomas Ford, Carthage, IL, to JS et al., [Nauvoo, IL], 22 June 1844, JS Collection, CHL; see also Editorial Note following 22 June 1844 entry in JS, Journal; and John Taylor, “The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith,” in Burton, City of the Saints, 531.)
Taylor, John. “The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith.” In The City of the Saints, and Across the Rocky Mountains to California, by Richard F. Burton, 517–540. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1862.
JS told Thomas that he and Hyrum Smith had been arrested and incarcerated on the charge of treason. In his letter, JS noted that the statement in the mittimus that said they had appeared before a magistrate was “utterlyfalse.” Feeling that he and Hyrum had “no reasonable prospect, of any thing but partial decisions of law” and that their only hope for justice lay in obtaining a habeas corpus hearing before an impartial judge, JS asked Thomas to make himself at home in JS’s house at Nauvoo “until the papers can be in readiness for you to bring us on Habeas [Corpus]. Our witnesses are all at Nauvoo—& there you can easily investigate the whole matter.” According to William Clayton, the plan to hold a habeas corpus hearing before Thomas at Nauvoo was based at least in part on JS’s expectation that he would accompany Thomas Ford to Nauvoo the following day. (JS, Carthage, IL, to Jesse Thomas, [Springfield], IL, 26 June 1844, JS Collection, CHL, underlining in original; Clayton, Journal, 26 June 1844.)