The following was a message given by Joseph Smith on Sunday, May 26, 1844. As the title states, Smith used this occasion to respond to those he perceived were persecuting him. Ironically, Smith’s brother Hyrum, two days prior, cautioned Smith “against speaking so freely about my enemies, &c., in such a manner as to make it actionable. I told him that six months would not roll over his head before they would swear twelve as palpable lies about him as they had about me.” In this speech, Joseph Smith made several outlandish comments, many of which have been emphasized in bold type.
Address of the Prophet—His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo.
President Joseph Smith read the 11th Chap. 2 Corinthians. My object is to let you know that I am right here on the spot where I intend to stay. I, like Paul, have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation. As Paul boasted, I have suffered more than Paul did. I should be like a fish out of water, if I were out of persecutions. Perhaps my brethren think it requires all this to keep me humble. The Lord has constituted me so curiously that I glory in persecution. I am not nearly so humble as if I were not persecuted. If oppression will make a wise man mad, much more a fool. If they want a beardless boy to whip all the world, I will get on the top of a mountain and crow like a rooster; I shall always beat them. When facts are proved, truth and innocence will prevail at last. My enemies are no philosophers: they think that when they have my spoke under, they will keep me down—but for the fools, I will hold on and fly over them.
God is in the still small voice. In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devil—all corruption. Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days
of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go. For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings, for I have kept several good, faithful, and efficient clerks in constant employ: they have accompanied me everywhere, and carefully kept my history, and they have written down what I have done, where I have been, and what I have said; therefore my enemies cannot charge me with any day, time, or place, but what I have written testimony to prove my actions; and my enemies cannot prove anything against me. They have got wonderful things in the land of Ham. I think the grand jury have strained at a gnat and swallowed the camel.
A man named Simpson says I made an affidavit against him, &c. Mr. Simpson says I arrested him. I never arrested Mr. Simpson in my life. He says I made an affidavit against him, I never made an affidavit against him in my life. I will prove it in court. I will tell you how it was: Last winter I got ready with my children to go to the farm to kill hogs. Orrin P. Rockwell was going to drive. An Englishman came in and wanted a private conversation with me. I told him I did not want any private conversations. “I demand one of you!” Such a one I am bound to obey anyhow. Said he—”I want a warrant against the man who stabbed Brother Badham. He said it was a man who boarded at Davis’. He said it was Mr. Simpson—it answered his description. I said I had no jurisdiction out of the city. He said—”The man must be arrested, or else he will go away.” I told him—”You must go to Squire Wells, Johnson, or Foster.” Mr. Lytle stepped up and said—”I am a policeman.” I jumped into my carriage, and away I went.
When I came back I met Mr. Jackson. He said—”You did wrong in arresting Mr. Simpson.” I told him I did not do it. I went over and sat down, and related the circumstances. He turned round and said—”Mr. Smith, I have nothing against you; I am satisfied.” He went and supped with me. He declared in the presence of witnesses, that he had nothing against me. I then said—I will go over to Esquire Johnson, and testify what the Englishman told me.” I told him not to make out that I believe he is the man, but that I believe he is innocent. I don’t want to swear that he is the man. Messrs. Coolidge, Rockwell, Hatfield, and Hawes were present.
Mr. Johnson made one [a complaint] out in due form: and as I sat down in a bustle the same as I do when one of the clerks brings a deed for
me to sign. Johnson read it. I said—”I can’t swear to that affidavit; I don’t believe it, tear up that paper.” Mr. Simpson agreed to come before Badham and make it up. I did not swear to it [i. e. to the complaint.]
After a while, Dr. Foster and others came in. They called me up to testify. I told it all the same as I do here. Mr. Simpson rose up, and asked—”Do you believe now that I am the man who stabbed Mr. Badham?” I replied—”No sir, I do not now, nor ever did: the magistrate says I did not swear to it.” He considered, and made a public declaration that he was satisfied with me.
Aaron Johnson went before the grand jury and swore I did not swear to it. when Dr. Foster goes and swears that I swore to it, and that he was in the room when he was not in. Chauncey wanted me to stay and have a conversation. Dr. Foster asked Aaron Johnson for the writ and affidavit. He handed them to Dr. Foster, who read them, and then threw them into the fire. I said—”Doctor, you ought not to have burned it; it was my paper.” Dr. Foster goes to the grand jury and swears he did not burn only one; but I say he burnt both. This is a fair sample of the swearing that is going on against me.
The last discharge was the 40th; now the 41st, 42nd, 43rd; all through falsehood. Matters of fact are as profitable as the Gospel, and which I can prove. You will then know who are liars, and who speak the truth I want to retain your friendship on holy grounds.
Another indictment has been got up against me. It appears a holy prophet has arisen up, and he has testified against me; the reason is, he is so holy. The Lord knows I do not care how many churches are in the world. As many as believe me, may. If the doctrine that I preach is true, the tree must be good. I have prophesied things that have come to pass, and can still.
Inasmuch as there is a new church, this must be old, and of course we ought to be set down as orthodox. From henceforth let all the churches now no longer persecute orthodoxy. I never built upon any other man’s ground. I never told the old Catholic that he was a fallen true prophet God knows, then, that the charges against me are false.
I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can.
This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this.
William Law testified before forty policemen, and the assembly room full of witnesses, that he testified under oath that he never had heard or seen or knew anything immoral or criminal against me. He testified
under oath that he was my friend, and not the “Brutus.” There was a cogitation who was the “Brutus.” I had not prophesied against William Law. He swore under oath that he was satisfied that he was ready to lay down his life for me, and he swears that I have committed adultery.
I wish the grand jury would tell me who they are—whether it will be a curse or blessing to me. I am quite tired of the fools asking me.
A man asked me whether the commandment was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet has charged me with adultery. I never had any fuss with these men until that Female Relief Society brought out the paper against adulterers and adulteresses.
Dr. Goforth was invited into the Laws’ clique, and Dr. Foster and the clique were dissatisfied with that document, and they rush away and leave the Church, and conspire to take away my life; and because I will not countenance such wickedness, they proclaim that I have been a true prophet, but that I am now a fallen prophet.
Jackson has committed murder, robbery, and perjury; and I can prove it by half-a-dozen witnesses. Jackson got up and said—”By God, he is innocent,” and now swears that I am guilty. He threatened my life.
There is another Law, not the prophet, who was cashiered for dishonesty and robbing the government. Wilson Law also swears that I told him I was guilty of adultery. Brother Jonathan Dunham can swear to the contrary. I have been chained. I have rattled chains before in a dungeon for the truth’s sake. I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves.
When I love the poor, I ask no favors of the rich. I can go to the cross—I can lay down my life; but don’t forsake me. I want the friendship of my brethren.—Let us teach the things of Jesus Christ. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a downfall.
Be meek and lowly, upright and pure; render good for evil. If you bring on yourselves your own destruction, I will complain. It is not right for a man to bare down his neck to the oppressor always. Be humble and patient in all circumstances of life; we shall then triumph more gloriously. What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.
I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience; and then I sent my brother Hyrum, whom they virtually kicked out of doors.
I then sent Mr. Backenstos, when they declared that they were my enemies. I told Mr. Backenstos that he might tell the Laws, if they had any cause against me I would go before the Church, and confess it
to the world. He [Wm. Law] was summoned time and again, but refused to come. Dr. Bernhisel and Elder Rigdon know that I speak the truth. I cite you to Captain Dunham, Esquires Johnson and Wells, Brother Hatfield and others, for the truth of what I have said. I have said this to let my friends know that I am right.
As I grow older, my heart grows tenderer for you. I am at all times willing to give up everything that is wrong, for I wish this people to have a virtuous leader, I have set your minds at liberty by letting you know the things of Christ Jesus. When I shrink not from your defense will you throw me away for a new man who slanders you? I love you for your reception of me. Have I asked you for your money? No; you know better. I appeal to the poor. I say, Cursed be that man or woman who says that I have taken of your money unjustly. Brother Babbitt will address you. I have nothing in my heart but good feelings.