JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , [Editor of the Quincy Whig], [, Adams Co., IL], 22 May 1842. Featured version published in Quincy Whig, 4 June 1842, vol. 5, no. 6, . Transcription from a microfilm image obtained from Micro Photo, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
The 4 June 1842 issue of the Quincy Whig consists of four leaves; each page contains seven columns. The Quincy Whig was a weekly newspaper published from 1838 to 1852. In 1842, Henry V. Sullivan was the publisher of the newspaper, and was the editor.
History of Knox and Daviess Counties, Indiana, 196; Collins and Perry, Past and Present of the City of Quincy and Adams County, Illinois, 652.
History of Knox and Daviess Counties, Indiana. From the Earliest Time to the Present; with biographical Sketches, Reminiscences, Notes, Etc.; Together with an Extended History of the Colonial Days of Vincennes, and It’s Progress Down to the Formation of the State Government. Chicago: The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1886.
Collins, William H., and Cicero F. Perry. Past and Present of the City of Quincy and Adams County, Illinois. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1905.
On 22 May 1842 in , Illinois, JS wrote a letter to , the editor of the Quincy Whig, objecting to the newspaper’s implications that JS was complicit in an assassination attempt on , former governor of . Boggs, who had issued an order in 1838 declaring that the Latter-day Saints should be “exterminated or driven from” Missouri, had been shot by an unknown assailant on the evening of 6 May 1842 in , Missouri. A 21 May article in the Quincy Whig stated that “several rumors” existed as to who fired the shot, “one of which throws the crime upon the Mormons.” The Whig asserted that JS had prophesied Boggs’s “death by violent means” a year earlier, which, in the Whig’s view, provided “plenty of foundation for rumor.”
On 22 May, JS wrote to to deny that he had predicted ’s demise or had been involved in the attempted assassination. Four days later, a public meeting in “unanimously disapproved of the remarks of the Quincy Whig” and declared “that Gen. Smith had never made such a prediction.” The Wasp, a Nauvoo newspaper edited by JS’s brother s, published JS’s letter to Bartlett in its 28 May issue.
The Whig, which was published weekly, received JS’s letter on 28 May and printed it in its next issue, dated 4 June. JS also wrote to the Quincy Herald requesting publication of his letter to ; the Herald subsequently included the Bartlett letter in its 2 June issue. The letter was also published in the 14 June issue of the New York Herald. Apparently no manuscript copy is extant. Because the letter was addressed to Bartlett, editor of the Quincy Whig, the text featured here is from the Whig.
A 22 May 1842 entry in JS’s journal states that he “called at the Editors office to have letter copied for Qunciy [Quincy] Whig. denying the charge of killing Ex Govener Boggs of Missouri.” This statement suggests that JS took his letter to the printing office, either to make a fair copy to send to the Quincy Whig or to make a file copy to retain in Nauvoo before sending the original letter. (JS, Journal, 22 May 1842.)
Because Boggs’s order was instrumental in forcing the Saints from Missouri in 1839, church members had placed much blame on him for their mistreatment in that state. William Smith, for example, stated that Boggs’s actions indicated “to the world that he is not only capable of tolerating, but of participating in one of the most inhuman and barbarious persecutions, ever recorded in the annals of history, by favoring, and encouraging the Missouri mob in butchering, beating, and driving the Saints from the State and robbing them of their possessions.” (William Smith, “Infatuated & Deluded Sect,” Times and Seasons, 15 Feb. 1841, 2:314–315.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
“Assassination of Ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri,” Quincy (IL) Whig, 21 May 1842, . Neither JS’s journal nor minutes of church meetings in Nauvoo in 1841 contain a prophecy from JS about Boggs’s death. Other newspapers, including the Missouri Reporter and the Sangamo Journal, also promulgated the account of JS prophesying Boggs’s death and suggested church members were behind the assassination attempt. (News Item, Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 27 May 1842, ; John C. Bennett, Carthage, IL, 2 July 1842, Letter to the Editor, Sangamo Journal, 15 July 1842, ; see also Bennett, History of the Saints, 281–282.)
Quincy Whig. Quincy, IL. 1838–1856.
Sangamo Journal. Springfield, IL. 1831–1847.
Bennett, John C. The History of the Saints; or, an Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism. Boston: Leland and Whiting, 1842.
Dear Sir: In your paper, (the Quincy Whig,) of the 21st inst., you have done me manifest injustice, in ascribing to me a prediction of the demise of , ex-governor of , by violent hands. was a candidate for the State Senate, and I presume, fell by the hand of a political opponent, with his “hands and face yet dripping with the blood of murder,” but he died not through my instrumentality. My hands are clean, and my heart pure, from the blood of all men. I am tired of the misrepresentation, calumny and detraction heaped upon me by wicked men; and desire and claim only those privileges guaranteed to all men by the Constitution and Laws of the , and of .
Will you do me the justice to publish this communication, and oblige
Although the Quincy Whig initially reported that it was unlikely Boggs would survive the assassination attempt, he actually lived. (“Assassination of Ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri,” Quincy [IL] Whig, 21 May 1842, ; News Item, Quincy Whig, 28 May 1842, .)
The Quincy Whig responded to this charge by stating that JS saw “a design to ‘misrepresent’ where none exists” and that it was merely reporting “every thing of a news character, that may interest readers, whether as rumor or in a more direct and tangible shape.” (“The Mormons—Mr. Smith’s Letter,” Quincy [IL] Whig, 11 June 1842, , italics in original.)