The Untold Story of the Death of Joseph Smith

Bill McKeever explains the issues and events, the rumors and facts, that led to the death of Joseph Smith on June 27, 1844.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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52 Responses to The Untold Story of the Death of Joseph Smith

  1. 2bowdown says:

    Old Man: I agree with you. I also like how these conversations are being carried out with respect yet frank and to the point. I will get back to you on your post, but I just got done doing a grave yard shift and I’m done for now. I have some long responses to get back to, but I’ll do my best. Thanks for the cordial discussion.

  2. grindael says:

    Still waiting for that reply. Some further information about Jo’s motives for shooting people. Here is the letter he wrote from Carthage to his wife Emma on the day of his murder,

    CARTHAGE JAIL, June 27th, 1844.
    20 minutes past eight a.m.

    DEAR EMMA.—The Governor continues his courtesies, and permits us to see our friends. We hear this morning that the Governor will not go down with his troops today to Nauvoo, as we anticipated last evening; but if he does come down with his troops you will be protected; and I want you to tell Brother Dunham to instruct the people to stay at home and attend to their own business, and let there be no groups or gathering together, unless by permission of the Governor, they are called together to receive communications from the Governor, which would please our people, but let the Governor direct.

    Brother Dunham of course will obey the orders of the government officers, and render them the assistance they require. There is no danger of any extermination order. Should there be a mutiny among the troops (which we do not anticipate, excitement is abating) a part will remain loyal and stand for the defense of the state and our rights.

    There is one principle which is eternal; it is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of the household, whenever necessity requires, and no power has a right to forbid it, should the last extreme arrive, but I anticipate no such extreme, but caution is the parent of safety.


    P. S.—Dear Emma, I am very much resigned to my lot, knowing I am justified, and have done the best that could be done. Give my love to the children and all my friends, Mr. Brewer, and all who inquire after me; and as for treason, I know that I have not committed any, and they cannot prove anything of the kind, so you need not have any fears that anything can happen to us on that account. May God bless you all. Amen.

    Notice the last paragraph. (not the P.S.) As for “resigned to my lot”, that is being put on trial. Jo actually thought that things had calmed down and that the troops would defend him. The penalty for treason was death, and Smith specifically said he had no fear of that.

    Allen J. Stout would write,

    And while they were in jail, Brother Joseph wrote an official order to Jonathan Dunham to bring the Legion and reserve him from being killed, but Dunham did not let a single man or mortal know that he had received such orders, and we were kept in the city under arms, not knowing but all was well, until the mob came and forced the prison and slew Joseph and Hyrum Smith and wounded John Taylor severely. (Journal, page 13).

    In her book “The Rocky Mountain Saints”, Fanny Stenhouse wrote about this incident, (Footnote, pg. 164) and though she did not name him, it is apparent that she is speaking of Jonathan Dunham. Though there was an attempted forgery of that order by Jo to Dunham by Mark Hoffman, that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. Smith actually did a second P.S. To Emma which read,

    P. S.—20 minutes to 10.—I just learn that the Governor is about to disband his troops, all but a guard to protect us and the peace, and come himself to Nauvoo and deliver a speech to the people. This is right as I suppose. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p.611).

    And then this,

    He afterwards wrote a few lines with his own hand, which were not copied. (ibid).

    Who did he write those “few lines” to? We simply do not know. It easily could have been Jonathan Dunham.

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