History, 1838–1856, volume E-1 [1 July 1843–30 April 1844]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
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<​July 4​> few words in my own defence, in relation to my arrest. In the first place I will state to those that can hear me, that I never spent more than six months in , except while in prison. While I was there, I was at work for the support of my family. I never was a prisoner of war during my stay, for I had nothing to do with war. I never took a pistol, gun or sword, and the most that has been said on this subject by the Missourians, is false. I have been willing to go before any Governor, Judge or tribunal, where justice would be done, and have the subject investigated. I could not have committed treason in that , while <​I resided​> there for treason against , consists in levying war against the State, or adhering to her enemies. Missouri was at peace and had no enemy that I could adhere to, had I been disposed; and I did not make war as I had no command or authority either civil or <​military​>, but only in spiritual matters as a Minister of the Gospel. <​This people​> was driven from that by force of arms under the exterminating order of . I have never committed treason. The people know very well I have been a peaceable citizen, but there has been a great hue and cry about being shot. No crime can be done, but it is laid to me. Here I was again dragged to the court, and acquitted on the merits of the case and now it comes again. But as often as God sees fit for me to suffer I am ready, but I am as innocent of the crimes alleged against me as the Angels in heaven. I am not an enemy to mankind, I am a friend <​to mankind​> I am not an enemy to , nor any Governors, or people. As to the military station I hold, and the cause of my holding it, is as follows. When we came here, the required of us to bear arms and do military duty, according to law, and as the church had just been driven from the State of , and robbed of all their property and arms; they were poor and destitute of arms, they were liable to be fined for not doing duty, when they had not arms to do it with; they came to me for advice, and I advised them to organize themselves into independent companies, and demand arms of the ; this they did. Again there were many Elders having license to preach, which by law exonerated them from Military duty, but the officers would not release them on this ground. I then told the Saints that though I was clear from Military duty by law, in consequence of lameness in one of my legs; yet I would set them the example, and would do duty myself, they then said they were willing to do duty, if they could be formed into an independent Company and I could be at their head, this is the origin of [HC 5:489] the Nauvoo Legion; and of my holding the office of Lieutenant General. All the power that I desire or have sought to obtain, has been the enjoyment of the Constitutional privilege for which my fathers shed their blood, of living in <​peace in​> the society of my and childen and enjoying the society of my friends, and that religious liberty which is the right of every American citizen, of worshipping according to the dictates of his conscience and the revelations of God.
With regard to elections, some say all the Latter day Saints vote together and vote as I say; but I never tell any man how to vote, or who to vote for, but I will show you how we have been situated by bringing a comparison; should there be a Methodist Society here, and two candidates running for office, one says if you will vote for me, and put me in Governor, I will exterminate the Methodists, take away their charters &c.. The other candidate says if I am Governor, I will give all an equal privilege; which would the Methodists vote for? of course they would vote en masse for the candidate that would give them their rights. [p. 1660]
July 4 few words in my own defence, in relation to my arrest. In the first place I will state to those that can hear me, that I never spent more than six months in , except while in prison. While I was there, I was at work for the support of my family. I never was a prisoner of war during my stay, for I had nothing to do with war. I never took a pistol, gun or sword, and the most that has been said on this subject by the Missourians, is false. I have been willing to go before any Governor, Judge or tribunal, where justice would be done, and have the subject investigated. I could not have committed treason in that , while I resided there for treason against , consists in levying war against the State, or adhering to her enemies. Missouri was at peace and had no enemy that I could adhere to, had I been disposed; and I did not make war as I had no command or authority either civil or military, but only in spiritual matters as a Minister of the Gospel. This people was driven from that by force of arms under the exterminating order of . I have never committed treason. The people know very well I have been a peaceable citizen, but there has been a great hue and cry about being shot. No crime can be done, but it is laid to me. Here I was again dragged to the court, and acquitted on the merits of the case and now it comes again. But as often as God sees fit for me to suffer I am ready, but I am as innocent of the crimes alleged against me as the Angels in heaven. I am not an enemy to mankind, I am a friend to mankind I am not an enemy to , nor any Governors, or people. As to the military station I hold, and the cause of my holding it, is as follows. When we came here, the required us to bear arms and do military duty, according to law, and as the church had just been driven from the State of , and robbed of all their property and arms; they were poor and destitute of arms, they were liable to be fined for not doing duty, when they had not arms to do it with; they came to me for advice, and I advised them to organize themselves into independent companies, and demand arms of the ; this they did. Again there were many Elders having license to preach, which by law exonerated them from Military duty, but the officers would not release them on this ground. I then told the Saints that though I was clear from Military duty by law, in consequence of lameness in one of my legs; yet I would set them the example, and would do duty myself, they then said they were willing to do duty, if they could be formed into an independent Company and I could be at their head, this is the origin of [HC 5:489] the Nauvoo Legion; and of my holding the office of Lieutenant General. All the power that I desire or have sought to obtain, has been the enjoyment of the Constitutional privilege for which my fathers shed their blood, of living in peace in the society of my and childen and enjoying the society of my friends, and that religious liberty which is the right of every American citizen, of worshipping according to the dictates of his conscience and the revelations of God.
With regard to elections, some say all the Latter day Saints vote together and vote as I say; but I never tell any man how to vote, or who to vote for, but I will show you how we have been situated by bringing a comparison; should there be a Methodist Society here, and two candidates running for office, one says if you will vote for me, and put me in Governor, I will exterminate the Methodists, take away their charters &c.. The other candidate says if I am Governor, I will give all an equal privilege; which would the Methodists vote for? of course they would vote en masse for the candidate that would give them their rights. [p. 1660]
Page 1660