To be read June 27, about five o’clock p.m.

To seal the testimony of this book and the Book of Mormon, we announce the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Hyrum Smith the Patriarch. They were shot in Carthage jail, on the 27th of June, 1844, about five o’clock p.m., by an armed mob — painted black — of from 150 to 200 persons. Hyrum was shot first and fell calmly, exclaiming: I am a dead man! Joseph leaped from the window, and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming: O Lord my God! They were both shot after they were dead, in a brutal manner, and both received four balls.

John Taylor and Willard Richards, two of the Twelve, were the only persons in the room at the time; the former was wounded in a savage manner with four balls, but has since recovered; the latter, through the providence of God, escaped, without even a hole in his robe.

Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fullness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!

When Joseph went to Carthage to deliver himself up to the pretended requirements of the law, two or three days previous to his assassination, he said: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I SHALL DIE INNOCENT, AND IT SHALL YET BE SAID OF ME—HE WAS MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD.” — The same morning, after Hyrum had made ready to go — shall it be said to the slaughter? yes, for so it was — he read the following paragraph, near the close of the twelfth chapter of Ether, in the Book of Mormon, and turned down the leaf upon it:

And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. And now I . . . bid farewell unto the Gentiles; yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood. The testators are now dead, and their testament is in force.

Hyrum Smith was forty-four years old in February, 1844, and Joseph Smith was thirty-eight in December, 1843; and henceforward their names will be classed among the martyrs of religion; and the reader in every nation will be reminded that the Book of Mormon, and this book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of the nineteenth century to bring them forth for the salvation of a ruined world; and that if the fire can scathe a green tree for the glory of God, how easy it will burn up the dry trees to purify the vineyard of corruption. They lived for glory; they died for glory; and glory is their eternal reward. From age to age shall their names go down to posterity as gems for the sanctified.

They were innocent of any crime, as they had often been proved before, and were only confined in jail by the conspiracy of traitors and wicked men; and their innocent blood on the floor of Carthage jail is a broad seal affixed to “Mormonism” that cannot be rejected by any court on earth, and their innocent blood on the escutcheon of the State of Illinois, with the broken faith of the State as pledged by the governor, is a witness to the truth of the everlasting gospel that all the world cannot impeach; and their innocent blood on the banner of liberty, and on the magna charta of the United States, is an ambassador for the religion of Jesus Christ, that will touch the hearts of honest men among all nations; and their innocent blood, with the innocent blood of all the martyrs under the altar that John saw, will cry unto the Lord of Hosts till he avenges that blood on the earth. Amen.

– John Taylor

11 comments for “To be read June 27, about five o’clock p.m.

  1. Shawn Bailey
    June 27, 2005 at 3:20 pm

    “Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah” and “Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!”

  2. Wilfried
    June 27, 2005 at 3:20 pm

    Thank you, Matt. That was one of the first texts I read when I encountered Mormonism, 41 years ago. The missionaries had given me a D&C as the first reading material. I read it from cover to cover. The power of that section spoke to me strongly, the sincerity of John Taylor was undeniable. But more than anything, I gained an overwhelming respect for the Prophet, which feeling and conviction has never left me.

  3. Mike Parker
    June 27, 2005 at 3:28 pm

    As a companion to John Taylor’s eyewitness testimony (canonized in D&C 135), here is the report from Willard Richards:

    “Two Minutes in Jail,” as told by Willard Richards. Times and Seasons, Vol.5, No.14 (1 August 1844), pp. 598-99.


    Possibly the following events, occupied near three minutes, but I think only about two, and have penned them for the gratification of many friends.

    Carthage, June 27th, 1844

    A shower of musket balls were thrown up the stair way against the door of the prison in the second story, followed by many rapid footsteps. While Generals Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Mr. Taylor, and myself, who were in the front chamber, closed the door of our room against the entry at the head of the stairs, and placed ourselves against it, there being no lock on the door and no ketch that was useable.

    The door is a common panel, and as soon as we heard the feet at the stairs head, a ball was sent through the door, which passed between us, and showed that our enemies were desperadoes, and we must change our position.

    Gen. Joseph Smith, Mr. Taylor, and myself sprang back to the front part of the room, and Gen. Hyrum Smith retreated two thirds across the chamber directly in front of and facing the door.

    A ball was sent through the door which hit Hyrum on the side of his nose when he fell backwards extended at length without moving his feet. From the holes in his vest, (the day was warm and no one had their coats on but myself,) pantaloons, drawers and shirt, it appears evident that a ball must have been thrown from without, through the window, which entered his back on the right side and passing through lodged against his watch, which was in his right vest pocket completely pulverizing the crystal and face, tearing off the hands and mashing the whole body of the watch, at the same instant the ball from the door entered his nose.

    As he struck the floor he exclaimed emphatically; “I’m a dead man.” Joseph looked towards him and responded, “O dear! Brother Hyrum!” and opening the door two or three inches with his left hand, discharged one barrel of a six shooter (pistol) at random in the entry from whence a ball grazed Hyrum’s breast, and entering his throat passed into his head, while other muskets were aimed at him, and some balls hit him.

    Joseph continued snapping his revolver, round the casing of the door into the space as before, three barrels of which missed fire, while Mr. Taylor with a walking stick stood by his side and knocked down the bayonets and muskets, which were constantly discharging through the door way, while I stood by him, ready to lend any assistance, with another stick, but could not come within striking distance, without going directly before the muzzle of the guns.

    When the revolver failed, we had no more fire arms, and expecting an immediate rush of the mob, and the door way full of muskets half way in the room, and no hope but instant death from within: Mr. Taylor rushed into the window, which is some fifteen or twenty feet from the ground.

    When his body was nearly on a balance, a ball from the door within entered his leg, and a ball from without struck his watch, a patent lever, in his vest pocket, near the left breast, and smashed it in “pie,” leaving the hands standing at 5 o’clock, 16 minutes, and 26 seconds — the force of which ball threw him back on the floor, and he rolled under the bed which stood by his side, where he lay motionless, the mob from the door continuing to fire upon him, cutting away a piece of flesh from his left hip as large as a man’s hand, and were hindered only by my knocking down their muzzles with a stick; while they continued to reach their guns into the room, probably left handed, and aimed their discharge so far around as almost to reach us in the corner of the room to where we retreated and dodged, and then I re-commenced the attack with my stick again.

    Joseph attempted as the last resort, to leap the same window from whence Mr. Taylor fell, when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without, and he fell outward exclaiming, “O Lord my God!”

    As his feet went out of the window my head went in, the balls whistling all around. He fell on his left side a dead man. At this instant the cry was raised, “He’s leaped the window,” and the mob on the stairs and in the entry ran out.

    I withdrew from the window, thinking it of no use to leap out on a hundred bayonets, then around Gen. Smith’s body. Not satisfied with this I again reached my head out of the window and watched some seconds, to see if there were any signs of life, regardless of my own, determined to see the end of him I loved; being fully satisfied, that he was dead, with a hundred men near the body and more coming round the corner of the jail, and expecting a return to our room I rushed towards the prison door, at the head of the stairs, and through the entry from whence the firing had proceeded, to learn if the doors into the prison were open.

    — When near the entry, Mr. Taylor called out, “take me” I pressed my way till I found all doors unbarred, returning instantly caught Mr. Taylor under my arm, and rushed by the stairs into the dungeon, or inner prison, stretched him on the floor and covered him with a bed in such a manner, as not likely to be perceived, expecting an immediate return of the mob.

    I said to Mr. Taylor, this is a hard case to lay you on the floor, but if your wounds are not fatal I want you to live to tell the story. I expected to be shot the next moment, and stood before the door awaiting the onset.


  4. Soyde River
    June 27, 2005 at 11:37 pm

    An extraordinary man, chosen by the Lord.

    In my opinion, by the time this century ends, he will be acclaimed as the greatest American of the 19th Century.

  5. June 28, 2005 at 12:26 am

    “Earth must atone for the blood of that man . . . Wake up the world for the conflict of justice . . . .Millions shall know ‘Brother Joseph’ again”

  6. Hans Hansen
    June 28, 2005 at 2:32 am

    And of course, the original version of the verse in “Praise to the Man” that read:

    “Long shall his blood which was shed by assassins,
    Stain Illinois, while the earth lauds his fame.”

    from #24, Deseret Sunday School Songs, 1909.

  7. Harold B. Curtis
    June 28, 2005 at 3:12 am

    We shall be surprised one day to find out that the earth does now seek after the name of Joseph Smith. In far away countires with strange sounding names, some primary child holds a picture of the prophet Joseph and bares witness of his divine calling.

    Some struggling soul, who can’t do it on their own, will seek for the name and mission of Jesus Christ, remembering that it is Joseph Smith who described the….
    …’Alpha and Omega”,…
    …”on the right hand of the Father”,
    …. “whose brightness and glory defy all description”,
    … “whose voice was the voice of rushing waters”,
    …”the voice of thunder”,
    …”the voice of the seas heaving themselves”
    …a voice of judgement,
    …a voice of mercy,
    …a voice crying out from the cross in agony and divine holiness and wholeness,
    …Father forgive them

    It is this voice who tells Joeph Smith then, and tells us today, join none of them. For having a form of Godliness but denying the power therof was as wrong then as it is now.

    Thank you Joseph Smith, Thank you……..

  8. Kingsley
    June 28, 2005 at 1:02 pm

    “The last time I saw the Prophet he was on his way to Carthage Jail. Himself and his brother Hyrum were on horseback, also Brothers John Taylor and Willard Richards. They stopped opposite Sister Clawson’s house, at the house of Brother Rosecrans. We were on the porch. The streets of Nauvoo were narrow, and we could hear every word he said. He asked for a drink of water. They all took a drink. Some few remarks passed between them which I do not remember; but one sentence I well remember: after bidding goodbye, he said to Brother Rosecrans, ‘if I never see you again, or if I never come back, remember that I love you.’ This went through me like electricity. I went in the house and threw myself on the bed and wept like a whipped child. And why this grief for a person I had never spoken to in my life, I could not tell. I knew he was a servant of God, and only think of the danger he was in! and how deeply he felt it, for I could see that he looked pale!”

    — Mary Ellen Kimball

  9. A. Greenwood
    June 28, 2005 at 1:03 pm

    Here we are, Brother Joseph, Brother Hyrum—true to the faith you sealed with your blood.

  10. June 28, 2005 at 2:54 pm

    Matt, thank you for your post and for giving me a reason to think of the Prophet Joseph today.

  11. Geoff B
    June 28, 2005 at 3:45 pm

    Great post, Matt. I don’t know of a greater man except for the Savior Himself. Thanks for reminding me of the prophet and his great and humble brother Hyrum today.

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