The Essential Joseph Smith
Foreword by Marvin S. Hill
“I Require Attention,” A Sermon Delivered on 30 June 1843
(from Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols.
[Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983-85], 2:248-55)
[p.186]I require attention. I discoverd what the emotions of the people were on my arival to this city [after being arrested, taken away, and then returned], & I have come here to say how do you do to all parties & I do now say How do you do at this time. I meet you with a heart full of gratitude to Almighty God & I presume you all feel the same. I hardly know how to express my feelings. I feel as strong as a Giant. I pulled sticks with the men Coming along & I pulled up the strongest man theire was on the road with one hand & two could not pull me up & I continued to pull untill I pulled them to Nauvoo. I will pass from that subject then.
There has been great excitement in the country & since those men took me I have been cool & dispassionate through the whole: thank God I am now in the hands of the Municipal Court of Nauvoo & not in the hands of Missourians.
It has been discussed by the great & wise men lawyiers &c. O your Powers & legal tribunals are not to be sanctioned & here we will [not] make it lawful to drag away inocent men from their families & friends & have them unlawfully put to death by ungodly men for ther religion.
Relative to our [Nauvoo City] Charter court[‘]s right of Habeas Corpus &c we have all power: And if any man from this time forth says any thing contrary, cast it into his teeth. Their is a secret in this; if their is not power in our Charter and Courts, then there is not power in the State of Illinois, nor in the Congress or Constitution of the United States. For the United States gave unto Illinois her constitution & Charter & Illinois gave unto Nauvoo her Charters which have ceded unto us our vested rights & has no right or power to take them from us. All the power their was in Illinois she gave to Nauvoo. And any man that says to the contrary is a fool.
I want you to learn O Israel what is for the happiness & peace of [p.187]this city & people. If our enemies are determined to oppress us & deprive us of our rights & privileges as they have done & if the Authorities that be on the earth will not assist us in our rights nor give us that protection which the Laws & Constitution of the United States & of this State garrentees unto us: then we will claim them from higher power from heaven & from God Almighty & the Constitution &c. I SWEAR I will not deal so mildly with them again for the time has come when forbearance is no longer a virtue. And if you are again taken unlawfully you are at liberty to give loose to Blood and Thunder. But act with Almighty Power.
But good luck for me as it always has been in evry time of trouble. Friends though strangers were raised up unto me & assisted me. The time has come when the veil is torn of[f] from the State of Illinois & they have deliverd me from the State of Missouri: friends that were raised up unto me would have spilt their Blood for me to have delivered me. Then I told them not. I would be delivered By the power of God & Generalship & I have brought them to Nauvoo & treated them kindly. I have had the privilege of rewarding them good for evil. They took me unlawfully treated me rigorously, strove to deprive me of my rights & would have run me to Missouri to have been murdered if providence had not interposed: but now they are in my hands. I took them into my house set them at the head of my table & set the best before them my house afforded & they were waited upon by my wife whome they deprived of seeing me when I was taken.
I shall be discharged by the Municipal Court of Nauvoo. Were I before any good tribunal I should be discharged. But Befor I will bear this unhallowed persecution any longer I will spill my Blood. Their is a time when bearing it longer is a sin. I will not bear it longer. I will spil the last drop of Blood I have and all that will not bear it longer say AH. And the cry of AH rung throughout the Congregation.
We must stop paying the lawyiers money. For I have learned they dont know any thing. For I know more than they all. Whosoever believeth that there is power in the Charters of Nauvoo shall be saved. He that believeth not shall not come here. If a lawyer shall say their is more power in other places & Charters than in Nauvoo believeth it not. I have converted this canditate for congress Mr Walker. I suppose when I see him Converted I will vote for him & not before. I have been with these lawyers & they have treated me well. But I am here [p.188]in Nauvoo & the Missourian[s] to[o] & when they will get out I dont know perhaps when some others may.
However you may feel about the high hand of oppression, I wish you to restrain your hand from violence against these men who arestd me. My word is at stake. A hair of their heads shall not be harmed.
My life is pledged to carry out this great work. I know how readily you are to do right. You have done great things & manifested your love in flying to my assistance on this occasion. I could not have done better myself. And I Bless you in the name of the Lord with all Blessings. May you not have to suffer as you have heretofore. I know the Almighty will bless all good men. He will bless you: and the time has come when their shall be such a flocking to the standard of Liberty as never has been Nor never shall be hereafter.
What an erie [array] of things has commenced. Shall the Prophecys be esstablished by the Swords? Shall we allways bear? NO. Will not the State of Missouri stay her hand and in her unhallowed persecutions against the Saints? If not, I restrain you not any longer. I say in the name of Jesus Christ I this day turn the key that opens the heavens to restrain you no longer from this time forth. I will lead you to battle & if you are not afraid to die & feel disposed to spill your Blood in your own defence you will not offend me. Be not the aggressor. Bear untill they strike on the one cheek. Offer the other & they will be sure to strike that. Then defend yourselves & God shall bear you off.
Will any part of Illinois say we shall not have our rights? Treat them as strangers & not friends & let them go to Hell. Say some we will mob you. Mob & be damned: If I [am] under the necessity of giving up our charted rights, privileges & freedom which our fathers fought bled & died for & which the constitution of the United States & this State garrentee unto us, I will do it at the point of the Bayonet & Sword.
Many Lawyiers contend for those thing[s] which are against the rights of men & I can ownly excuse them because of ther ignorance. Go forth & Advocate the laws & rights of the people ye lawyiers. If not dont get into my hands or under the lash of my tongue.
Lawyiers say the powers of the Nauvoo Charters are dangerous. But I ask is the constitution of the United States or of this State dangerous? No. Neither are the charters granted unto Nauvoo by the legislator of Illinois dangerous & those that say they are are fools. We [p.189]have not our rights. Those which the constitution of the U.S.A. grant & which our Charters grant we have not enjoyed unmolested. Missouri & all wicked men will raise the hugh & cry against us and are not satisfyed.
But how are you going to help yourselves? What will mobocrats do in the midst of this people? If mobs come upon you any more here, dung your gardings [gardens] with them. But says one you will get up excitement. We will get up no excitement except what we can find an escape from. We will rise up Washington like & break of the wait [weight] that bears us down & we will not be mobed.
To give you an account of my Journey, I will give you an anecdote that may be pleasing. A day before I was taken I rode with my wife through a Neighborhood to visit some friends & I said to Mrs Smith here is a good people. I felt this by the spirit of God. The next day I was in their hands a prisioner with Wilson who Said as he drove up ha ha ha By God we have got the prophet. He gloried much in it But he is now our prisioner.
When Reynolds of Missouri & Wilson of Carthage came to take me the first salutation was (instead of taping me on the shoulder & saying you are my prisioner) with two Cocked pistols to my head God damn you I will shoot you. I will shoot you God damn you I will shoot you nearly 50 times first & last[.] I asked them what they wanted to shoot me for. If you make any resistance. O vary well says I[,] I have no resistance to make.
They then dragged me away & while on the road I asked them by what authority they did these things. They said by a writ from the Govornors of Missouri & Illinois. I then told them I wanted a writ of Habeas Corpus. The reply was God damn you you shant have it. I told a man to Go to Dixon & get me a writ of Habeas Corpus. The reply was by Willson. God dam you you shant have it. I will shoot you. I sent for a lawyier to come. One came & Reynolds shut the door in his face & would not let me speak to him & said again God damn you I will shoot you. I turned to him opened my bosom & told him to shoot away & I did it freequently. I told Mr Reynolds that I would have council to speak to & the Lawyers came to me & I got a writ of Habeas Corpus for myself & got a writ for Reynolds & Wilson for unlawful procedings towards me & cruel treatment. They Could not get out of town that night. I pleged my honor to my council that the Nauvoo Charter had power to investigate the subject & we came [p.190]to Nauvoo by common consent & I am now a prisioner of higher authority. Yes higher Authority before yourselves.
The Charter expressly says that the City Council shall have power to enact all laws for the benefit & convenience of said City not contrary to the Constitutions of the United States or of this State & the City ordinance says the Municipal Court shall have power to give writs of Habeas Corpus arising under the ordinances of the City. Their is nothing but what we have power over excepted restricted by the constitution of the United States or of this state. It is in accordance wi[t]h the constitution of the U.S.A.
But says the mob what dangerous powers. But the constitution of the United States nor of this state is not dangerous against good men but bad men the breakers of the law. So with the laws of the country & so with the laws of Nauvoo. They are dangerous to mobs but not good men that wish to keep the law.
We do not go out of Nauvoo to disturb any body or any city town or place. Why need they be troubled about us? Let them not meddle with our affairs but let us alone. After we have been deprived of our rights & privileges as citizenship driven from town to town place to place state to state with the sacrifice of our homes & lands & our Blood been shed & many murdered & all this becaus of our religion because we worship Almighty God according to the dictates of our own consience. Shall we longer bear these cruelties which have been bearing upon us for the last ten years in the face of heaven & in open violation of the constitution & laws of these United States & of this State? May God forbid. I will not bear it. If they take away my rights I will fight for my rights, manfully & Righteously untill I am used up with Blood & thunder sword & pistol. We have done nothing against law or right.
As touching our City Charter & laws their is a secret in it. What is it? Our laws go behind the writ & investigate the subject ie of Habeas Corpus while other laws do not go behind the writ. You speak of Lawyiers, I am a Lawyier to[o] But the Almighty God has taught me the principle of law & the true meaning of the writ of Habeas Corpus is to defend the Innocent & investigat the subject. Go behind the writ & if the form of a writ is wright that is issued against an innocent man He should not be dragged to another state & there put to death or in jeapordy life or limb because of prejudice when he is innocent. The benefits of the constitution & law is for all alike & the [p.191]great [E]loheem God has given me the privilege of having the benefits of the constitution & the writ of Habeas Corpus & I am bold to ask for this privilege this day & to ask you to carry out this privilege principle. And all who are in favor of carrying out this great principle make it manifest by raising the right hand & their was a sea of hands A universal vote. Here is truly the Committy of the whole.
In speaking of my Journey to Nauvoo I will relate a circumstance. When Mr Cyrus Walker first came to me they said I should not speak to any man & they would shoot any man that should speak to me. An old man came up & said I should have council & said he was not afraid of their pistols & they took me from him, & I had an opportunity to have killed him but I had no temptation to do it to him nor any other man, my worst enemy not even Boggs. In fact he would have more hell to live in the reflection of his past life than to die. My freedom commenced from the time the old man came to me & would talk to me. We came direct from Papa grove to Nauvoo. We got our writ directed to the nearest court having authority to try the case & we came to Nauvoo.
It did my soul good to see your feelings & love manifest towards me. I thank God that I have the honor to lead so virtuous & honest a people to be your leader & lawyier as Moses to the children of Israel. Hosannah Hosannah Hosannah Hosannah to the name of the Most High God. I commend you to his grace & may the Blessings of heaven rest upon you in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.
Furthermore if Missouri continues her warfare & continues to Issue her writs against me & this people unlawfully & unjustly as they have done & our rights are trampled upon & they take away my rights I sware with uplifted hands to Heaven I will spill my Blood in its defence. They shall not take away our rights, & if they dont stop leading me by the nose I will lead them by the nose & if they dont let me alone I will turn up the world. I will make war.
When we shake our own bushes we want to ketch our own fruit. The Lawyiers themselves acknowledge that we have all power granted us in our Charters that we Could ask for, that we had more power than any other court in the state for all other courts were restricted while ours was not & I thank God Almighty for it & I will not be rode down to Hell by the Missourians any longer, & it is my privilege to speak in my own defence & appeal to your honor.