Carthage Jail: The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith, Carthage, Illinois
The Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were shot and killed while under the protection of the state of Illinois in Carthage Jail.
The Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were shot and killed while under the protection of the state of Illinois in Carthage Jail. They were in Carthage for trial to answer charges related to the destruction of a newspaper press, the Nauvoo Expositor. The jail and its rooms are shown as the story unfolds. After being kept in a dungeon cell and a debtors’ cell, Joseph Smith and those accompanying him were eventually given the jailors bedroom as their quarters. The events of June 24-27 are related in some detail leading to a mob of men storming the jail, murdering Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and leaving John Taylor severely wounded. The feelings and thoughts of Wilford Woodruff were that their deaths were part of the Lord’s plan and that Joseph is now continuing his mission in the world of the spirits of the dead.
As one reads the various accounts of what occurred in Carthage, there seems to be several differing perspectives of what would occur. There were at least four separate groups directly involved. • First, enemies of the Prophet felt that it had been much too difficult to get Joseph in Carthage and they did not intend that he should ever leave alive. • Second, Governor Ford appears to have been trying to fulfill or maybe better said, negotiate, the responsibilities of his office. That is, he needed to interface with a hostile opposition that included sworn enemies of the Saints, some with an intense hatred of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the need to assure that justice was served in avoiding the religious persecution aimed toward the Saints similar to that which occurred in the state of Missouri under the watch of then governor Lilburn W. Boggs. • Even the jailor seems to have been confused as to where in the jail he should house those awaiting trial as it appears that they were kept in each room of jail at various times. • Last, the Prophet Joseph Smith and his companions dealt with the uncertainties of how to best respond to the legal charges, as well as suspicions of the intentions of the mob-like men that had gathered in Carthage in the midst of a foreboding spirit that they may never leave Carthage alive.