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Martyrdom

Years of tensions between Mormons and their Hancock County neighbors came to a head in June 1844.

On June 7, the Nauvoo Expositor was published at its office on Mulholland Street. This newspaper sought to expose Joseph Smith’s teachings on plural marriage, politics, and the use of law, doing so in a

scandalous way. On June 10, the Nauvoo City Council declared it a public nuisance and ordered the city marshal and police to destroy the press and papers.

Legal maneuverings that released Mayor Joseph Smith and the Nauvoo City Council from arrest for riot only exacerbating neighboring communities. Within a week, armed bands were wandered the prairie looking for a fight. Threats of all-out civil war brought Governor Thomas Ford to Hancock County on June 21 to personally ensure peace.

With Ford’s assurance of safety, on June 24, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, along with most of the city council and police force, went to Carthage to surrender themselves to court. After a hearing on the 25th, the city

council was released on bail. However, the Smith brothers were were held on an charge of treason for declaring martial law in Nauvoo. While incarcerated in the county jail on the afternoon of June 27, a mob from southwestern Hancock County broke in and killed the Smiths.

The bodies were returned to Nauvoo the following day, and on June 29 a viewing and public funeral were held. Because of a reward for the remains of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, they were secretly buried multiple times, the last time in 1928 at what is now the Smith Family Cemetery on Water Street.

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