These men evidently winced at an exposure of their acts, and thus vulgarly, impudently, and falsely repudiated them. One of their number, Mr. Mar, addressed himself several times to me while in conversation with the governor. I did not notice him until after a frequent repetition of his insolence, when I informed him that “my business at that time was with Governor Ford,” whereupon I continued my conversation with his Excellency. During the conversation, the governor expressed a desire that Joseph Smith, and all parties concerned in passing or executing the city law in relation to the press, had better come to Carthage; that, however repugnant it might be to our feelings, he thought it would have a tendency to allay public excitement, and prove to the people what we professed, that we wished to be governed by law. We represented to him the course we had taken in relation to this matter, and our willingness to go before another magistrate other than the municipal court; the illegal refusal of our request by the constable; our dismissal by the municipal court, a legally constituted tribunal; our subsequent trial before `Sqire Wells at the instance of Judge Thomas, the circuit judge, and our dismissal by him; that we had fulfilled the law in every particular; that it was our enemies who were breaking the law, and, having murderous designs, were only making use of this as a pretext to get us into their power. The governor stated that the people viewed it differently, and that, notwithstanding our opinions, he would recommend that the people should be satisfied. We then remarked to him that, should Joseph Smith comply with his request, it would be extremely unsafe, in the present excited state of the country, to come without an armed force; that we had a sufficiency of men, and were competent to defend ourselves, but there might be danger of collision should our forces and those of our enemies be brought into such close proximity. He strenuously advised us not to bring our arms, and pledged his faith as governor, and the faith of the State, that we should be protected, and that he would guarantee our perfect safety.
We had at that time about five thousand men under arms, one thousand of whom would have been amply sufficient for our protection.
At the termination of our interview, and previous to our withdrawal, after a long conversation and the perusal of the documents which we had brought, the governor informed us that he would prepare a written communication for General Joseph Smith, which he desired us to wait for. We were kept waiting for this instrument some five or six hours.
About five o’clock in the afternoon we took our departure with not the most pleasant feelings. The associations of the governor, the spirit he manifested to compromise with these scoundrels, the length of time that he had kept us waiting and his general deportment, together with the infernal spirit that we saw exhibited by those whom he had admitted to his counsels, made the prospect anything but promising.
We returned on horseback, and arrived at Nauvoo, I think, at about eight or nine o’clock at night accompanied by Captain Yates in command of a company of mounted men, who came for the purpose of escorting Joseph Smith and the accused in case of their complying with the governor’s request, and going to Carthage. We went directly to Brother Joseph’s, when Captain Yates delivered to him the governor’s communication. A council was called, consisting of Joseph’s brother, Hyrum, Dr. Richards, Dr. Bernhisel, myself, and one or two others.
We then gave a detail of our interview with the governor. Brother Joseph was very much dissatisfied with the governor’s letter and with his general deportment, and so were the council, and it became a serious question as to the course we should pursue. Various project were discussed, but nothing definitely decided upon for some time.
In the interim two gentlemen arrived; one of them, if not both, sons of John C. Calhoun. They had come to Nauvoo, and were very anxious for an interview with Brother Joseph.
These gentlemen detained him for some time; and, as our council was held in Dr. Bernhisel’s room in the Mansion House, the doctor lay down; and as it was now between 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning, and I had had no rest on the previous night, I was fatigued, and thinking that Brother Joseph might not return, I left for home and rest.
Being very much fatigued, I slept soundly, and was somewhat surprised in the morning by Mrs. Thompson entering my room about 7 o’clock, and exclaiming in surprise, “What, you here! The brethren have crossed the river some time since.”
“What brethren?” I asked.
“Brother Joseph, and Hyrum, and Brother Richards,” she answered.
I immediately arose upon learning that they had crossed the river, and did not intend to go to Carthage. I called together a number of persons in whom I had confidence, and had the type, stereotype plates, and most of the valuable things removed from the printing-office, believing that, should the governor and his force come to Nauvoo, the first thing they would do would be to burn the printing office, for I know that they would be exasperated if Brother Joseph went away. We had talked over these matters the night before, but nothing was decided upon. It was Brother Joseph’s opinion that, should we leave for a time, public excitement, which was then so intense, would be allayed; that it would throw on the governor the responsibility of keeping the peace; that in the event of an outrage, the onus would rest upon the governor, who was amply prepared with troops, and could command all the forces of the State to preserve order; and that the act of his own men would be an overwhelming proof of their seditious designs, not only to the governor, but to the world. He moreover thought that, in the east, where he intended to go, public opinion would be set right in relation to these matters, and its expression would partially influence the west, and that, after the first ebullition, things would assume a shape that would justify his return.
I made arrangements for crossing the river, and Brother Elias Smith and Joseph Cain, who were both employed in the printing-office with me, assisted all that lay in their power together with Brother Brower and several hands in the printing-office. As we could not find out the exact whereabouts of Joseph and the brethren, I crossed the river in a boat furnished by Brother Cyrus H. Wheelock and Alfred Bell; and after the removal of the things out of the printing-office, Joseph Cain brought the account-books to me, that we might make arrangements for their adjustment; and Brother Elias Smith, cousin to Brother Joseph, went to obtain money for the journey, and also to find out and report to me the location of the brethren.
As Cyrus H. Wheelock was an active, enterprising man, and in the event of not finding Brother Joseph I calculated to go to Upper Canada for the time being, and should need a companion, I said to Brother Cyrus H. Wheelock, “Can you go with me ten or fifteen hundred miles?”
He answered, “Yes.”
“Can you start in half an hour?”
However, I told him that he had better see his family, who lived over the river, and prepare a couple of horses and the necessary equipage for the journey, and that, if we did not find Brother Joseph before, we would start at nightfall.
A laughable incident occurred on the eve of my departure. After making all the preparations I could, previous to leaving Nauvoo, and having bid adieu to my family, I went to a house adjoining the river, owned by Brother Eddy. There I disguised myself so as not to be known, and so effectually was the transformation that those who had come after me with a boat did not know me. I went down to the boat and sat in it. Brother Bell, thinking it was a stranger, watched my moves for some time very impatiently, and then said to Brother Wheelock, “I wish that old gentleman would go away; he has been pottering around the boat for some time, and I am afraid Elder Taylor will be coming.” When he discovered his mistake, he was not a little amused.
I was conducted by Brother Bell to a house that was surrounded by timber on the opposite side of the river. There I spent several hours in a chamber with Brother Joseph Cain, adjusting my accounts; and I made arrangements for the stereotype plates of the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, to be forwarded east, thinking to supply the company with subsistence money through the sale of these books in the east.
My horses were reported ready by Brother Wheelock, and funds on hand by Brother Elias Smith. In about half an hour I should have started, when Brother Elias Smith came to me with word that he had found the brethren; that they had concluded to go to Carthage, and wished me to return to Nauvoo and accompany them. I must confess that I felt a good deal disappointed at this news, but I immediately made preparations to go. Escorted by Brother Elias Smith, I and my party went to the neighborhood of Montrose, where we met Brother Joseph, Hyrum, Brother Richards and others. Dr. Bernhisel thinks that W. W. Phelps was not with Joseph and Hyrum in the morning, but that he met him, myself, Joseph and Hyrum, W. Richards and Brother Cahoon, in the afternoon, near Montrose, returning to Nauvoo.
On meeting the brethren I learned that it was not Brother Joseph’s desire to return, but that he came back by request of some of the brethren, and that it coincided more with Brother Hyrum’s feelings than those of Brother Joseph. In fact, after his return, Brother Hyrum expressed himself as perfectly satisfied with the course taken, and said he felt much more at ease in his mind than he did before. On our return the calculation was to throw ourselves under the immediate protection of the governor, and to trust to his word and faith for our preservation.
A message was, I believe, sent to the governor that night, stating that we should come to Carthage in the morning, the party that came along with us to escort us back, in case we returned to Carthage, having returned.
It would seem from the following remarks of General Ford that there was a design on foot, which was, that if we refused to go to Carthage at the governor’s request, there should be an increased force called for by the governor, and that we should be destroyed by them. In accordance with this project, Captain Yates returned with his posse, accompanied by the constable who held the writ.
The following is the governor’s remark in relation to this affair:
“The constable and his escort returned. The constable made no effort to arrest any of them, nor would he or the guard delay their departure one minute beyond the time, to see whether an arrest could be made. Upon their return they reported that they had been informed that the accused had fled, and could not be found I immediately proposed to a council of officers to march into Nauvoo with the small force then under my command, but the officers were of the opinion that it was too small, and many of them insisted upon a further call of the militia. Upon reflection I was of the opinion that the officers were right in the estimate of our force, and the project for immediate action was abandoned.
“I was soon informed, however, of the conduct of the constable and guard, and then I was perfectly satisfied that a most base fraud had been attempted; that, in fact, it was feared that the `Mormons’ would submit, and thereby entitle themselves to the protection of the law. It was very apparent that many of the bustling, active spirits were afraid that there would be no occasion for calling out an overwhelming militia force, for marching it into Nauvoo, for probable mutiny when there, and for the extermination of the `Mormon’ race. It appeared that the constable and the escort were fully in the secret, and acted well their part to promote the conspiracy.”
In the morning Brother Joseph had an interview with the officers of the Legion, with the leading members of the city council, and with the principal men of the city. The officers were instructed to dismiss their men, but to have them in a state of readiness to be called upon in any emergency that might occur.
About half past 6 o’clock the members of the city council, the marshal, Brothers Joseph and Hyrum, and a number of others, started for Carthage, on horseback. We were instructed by Brother Joseph Smith not to take any arms, and we consequently left them behind. We called at the house of Brother Fellows on our way out. Brother Fellows lived about four miles from Carthage.