Joseph and Sidney Are Tarred and Feathered


This is the account of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon being attacked by a mob in the middle of the night on March 24, 1832. They were torn from their beds, stripped naked, had hot tar poured over their bodies, and then had feathers stuck to the tar. Joseph recorded the event in the History of the Church o Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

A painting of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail on his knees praying.“On the 24th of March, the twins [whom he and Emma had adopted] before mentioned, which had been sick of the measles for some time, caused us to be broken of our rest in taking care of them, especially my wife. In the evening I told her she had better retire to rest with one of the children, and I would watch with the sicker child. In the night she told me I had better lied down on the trundle bed, and I did so, and was soon after awakened by her screaming murder, when I found myself going out of the door, in the hands of about a dozen men . . .

“They then seized me by the throat and held on till I lost my breath. After I came to, as they passed along with me, about thirty rods from the house, I saw Elder Rigdon stretched out on the ground, whither they had dragged him by his heels. I supposed he was dead. I began to plead with them, saying, ‘You will have mercy and spare my life, I hope.’ . . .

“They ran back and fetched the bucket of tar, when one exclaimed, with an oath, ‘Let us tar up his mouth;’ and they tried to force the tar-paddle into my mouth; I twisted my head around, so that they could not . . . They then tried to force a vial into my mouth, and broke it in my teeth. All my clothes were torn off me except my shirt collar; and one man fell on me and scratched my body with his nails like a mad cat . . .

“They then left me, and I attempted to rise, but fell again; I pulled the tar away from my lips, so that I could breathe more freely, and after a while I began to recover, and raised myself up, whereupon I saw two lights. I made my way towards one of them, and found it was Father Johnson’s. When I came to the door I was naked, and the tar made me look as if I were covered with blood, and when my wife saw me she thought I was all crushed to pieces, and fainted. . . .

“My friends spent the night in scraping and removing the tar, and washing and cleansing my body; so that by morning I was ready to be clothed again. This being the Sabbath morning, the people assembled for meeting at the usual hour of worship, and among them came also the mobbers . . . With my flesh all scarified and defaced, I preached to the congregation as usual, and in the afternoon of the same day baptized three individuals. . . .

“During the mobbing one of the twins contracted a severe cold, continued to grow worse until Friday, and then died.”

Return to Two Church Centers: Ohio and Missouri 1832–1834

Summary
Article Name
Joseph and Sidney Are Tarred and Feathered
Description
Personal account from Joseph Smith of the night he and Sidney Rigdon were tarred and feathered by a mob.

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