" 1 To seal the testimony of this book and the Book of Mormon, we announce the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Hyrum Smith the Patriarch. They were shot in Carthage jail, on the 27th of June, 1844, about five o’clock p.m., by an armed mob—painted black—of from 150 to 200 persons. Hyrum was shot first and fell calmly, exclaiming: I am a dead man! Joseph leaped from the window, and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming: O Lord my God! They were both shot after they were dead, in a brutal manner, and both received four balls.
2 John Taylor and Willard Richards, two of the Twelve, were the only persons in the room at the time; the former was wounded in a savage manner with four balls, but has since recovered; the latter, through the providence of God, escaped, without even a hole in his robe.
3 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!
4 When Joseph went to Carthage to deliver himself up to the pretended requirements of the law, two or three days previous to his assassination, he said: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I SHALL DIE INNOCENT, AND IT SHALL YET BE SAID OF ME—HE WAS MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD.”—The same morning, after Hyrum had made ready to go—shall it be said to the slaughter? yes, for so it was—he read the following paragraph, near the close of the twelfth chapter of Ether, in the Book of Mormon, and turned down the leaf upon it:
5 And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. And now I . . . bid farewell unto the Gentiles; yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood. The testators are now dead, and their testament is in force.
6 Hyrum Smith was forty-four years old in February, 1844, and Joseph Smith was thirty-eight in December, 1843; and henceforward their names will be classed among the martyrs of religion; and the reader in every nation will be reminded that the Book of Mormon, and this book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of the nineteenth century to bring them forth for the salvation of a ruined world; and that if the fire can scathe a green tree for the glory of God, how easy it will burn up the dry trees to purify the vineyard of corruption. They lived for glory; they died for glory; and glory is their eternal reward. From age to age shall their names go down to posterity as gems for the sanctified.
7 They were innocent of any crime, as they had often been proved before, and were only confined in jail by the conspiracy of traitors and wicked men; and their innocent blood on the floor of Carthage jail is a broad seal affixed to “Mormonism” that cannot be rejected by any court on earth, and their innocent blood on the escutcheon of the State of Illinois, with the broken faith of the State as pledged by the governor, is a witness to the truth of the everlasting gospel that all the world cannot impeach; and their innocent blood on the banner of liberty, and on the
magna charta of the United States, is an ambassador for the religion of Jesus Christ, that will touch the hearts of honest men among all nations; and their innocent blood, with the innocent blood of all the martyrs under the altar that John saw, will cry unto the Lord of Hosts till he avenges that blood on the earth. Amen."
Doctrine and Covenants 135
I wanted to highlight one verse that captures the essense of what this day has meant for me, but how can any faithful Saint complain of reading the entire section when it means so much? (Translated: I couldn't keep myself from putting the whole thing here!)
The Prophet Joseph Smith is one of the most important figures in my life. I have studied his life in great detail, and to say that I admire him is trite and insufficient. To say that I mourn on this anniversary of his martyrdom; doubly so.
I have been blessed with an understanding of his life. As a young teenager, I too have questioned my God on eternal truths. I have asked the question, "Which church should I join?" and was instructed to join none of them. The confusion he must have felt; I have felt it. The ridicule he endured for us all, in order to establish this Church; I would not be enduring it today if he hadn't taken the full force of those first and mighty blows. I love and respect the Prophet Joseph Smith for all that he taught, all that he shared, and for the remarkable example and legacy he left behind. He left behind a hope for all of Heavenly Father's children who have ever been 17 years old and envisioned something more from life. Up until the very end, he was faithful to Our Heavenly Father, crying out to Him with his last breath. A truer Saint will probably never walk the Earth, especially not in my shoes, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to bear his burdens; to rise to the occasion I so willingly inherit.
Here's to you, Brother and Prophet Joseph Smith, for being the best that mankind can ever hope to be. Even though you weren't perfect, you did what you knew was right, even when people said you were going to Hell for it. You did the best you could do, and your vision moved an entire people across a continent in search of something better. Something more than what the world had to offer. And because of that same dream, Brother Joseph Smith, I undertake that same quest in less than a year. The world can and will say what it wants about your history. I prefer to know the man behind it.
I wish to bear my testimony, in case there is any doubt, that I know the Prophet Joseph Smith worked a true and mighty miracle from the time of his first vision onward. I will never again doubt the sacred and powerful potential of my dreams because of his life, and I can only hope and pray that:
"Millions shall know Brother Jospeh again." Hymn 27