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A Young Folks' History of the Church

The Martyrdom
On January 29, 1844, Joseph Smith was nominated for President of the United States.
Neither he nor his friends had much hopes of his election, but it gave the citizens of
Nauvoo at least a chance to vote for an honest man who was their friend. Brethren were
sent to various parts of the country to make speeches in his favor, and Joseph published
his views on how the government should be conducted. One of his ideas was that the
government should set the negro slaves free, paying their masters for them. President
Abraham Lincoln, twenty years later, also favored this plan.
Meanwhile, Nauvoo prospered and the Church grew. When the weather would permit,
meetings were held in a grove near the temple, there being no room large enough to hold
the large crowds of people. Joseph continued to give many glorious truths to the Church
about the nature of God, the land of Zion, baptism for the dead, and many other things.
The Prophet's prediction that there was a Judas in their midst soon proved too true; and
there were more than one. William Law, Joseph's second counselor, William Marks,
president of the Nauvoo Stake, with many other leading men proved themselves false to
Joseph and the Church. They even planned with Joseph's enemies to have him killed.
They were also proved guilty of other sins and were therefore cut off from the Church.
After this, these men said Joseph was a fallen prophet, and so they organized a church of
their own. It did not amount to anything, however.
Joseph's periods of peace were not many. Apostates were his worst enemies, and they
were all the time annoying him by having him arrested on all manner of false charges.
These men were very bitter, and they howled around him like a pack of wolves, eager to
devour him; but Joseph trusted in the Saints and they in him, for those who were faithful
to their duties knew by the Spirit of God that Joseph was not a fallen prophet.
In June, 1844, the enemies of the Saints began to publish a paper in Nauvoo, called the
Expositor. Its purpose was to deprive the people of Nauvoo of their rights, so it boldly
said. One paper was printed, and that was so full of false statements and abuse against the
city officials that the city council declared it a nuisance and had the press, type, etc.,
destroyed.
This raised great excitement among the enemies of the Church. Joseph and seventeen
others were arrested, tried before a court in Nauvoo, and acquitted; but this did not satisfy
the mobbers. On the advice of the United States judge for that district, Joseph and his
brethren allowed themselves to be arrested again and have a trial before Justice Daniel H.
Wells, then not a "Mormon." They were again discharged as innocent of crime.
Now mobs began to threaten again, but the Nauvoo Legion was ready to defend the city.
As the Legion was drawn up in front of Joseph's house one day—it was the 18th of
June—he got upon a platform and spoke to the soldiers. That speech was long
remembered by those who heard it. It thrilled them through and through and at the word
they would gladly have marched and met the mob in battle; but that was not Joseph's
way. He was always willing to have the laws carried out even if he suffered thereby, so
that his enemies could have no just excuse. That was the Prophet Joseph Smith's last
public speech.
 
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