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Was Joseph Smith really a martyr?


Mudcat

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I hashed this out, quite a bit back and at that point reached the conclusion that he was a martyr.

However the discussion was related to Joseph Smith's use of firearms and if retaliation and martyrdom were not mutually exclusive. Though likely discussion worthy, such a direction is not the impetus of the topic.

But, I have been rethinking this a bit.

I'll offer a prevalent definition of "Martyr" from dictionary.com that hopefully we can all find agreeable.

1. any of those persons who choose to suffer or die rather than give up their faith or principles

2. any person tortured or killed because of his or her beliefs

As I see it, martyrdom does not singularly rest with the intents and beliefs of the "martyred" individual, but also and likely more so in importance are the intentions of the "martyrs" killers.

So I would ask. Why did this mob kill Joseph Smith?

Was it destruction of the press, his LDS beliefs, what have you?

I am hoping for historical citations rather than opinions.

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A "martyr" is one who dies in/for a cause that they believe in. Whether you believe it was a just cause or whether or not it was a just cause is irrelevant to the intent of the word.

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Had Joseph Smith been a Baptist minister and destroyed a press, would a mob have still killed him? Can't say for sure, obviously, but probably not in my opinion.

If Joseph Smith had been a Baptist minister and wielded enormous power as mayor of a thriving city, general of an army, and been seen as the almost unobjectionable mouth of God to his followers and he had destroyed a press, would they still have killed him? In my opinion, probably so.

The problem with this question is trying to separate Joseph Smith's religious beliefs from his political power and influence. In my opinion they are too closely tied together. I've concluded that Joseph Smith was killed because of the power he wielded -- and he held that power because he proclaimed himself to be a prophet.

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It seems obvious that they did not kill JS because of his destruction of the printing press. Members of the mob had done similar things and they didn't seem to see it as a serious offense.

I don't know that it was simply because of his LDS beliefs either. I think it was because he was the leader of the LDS church and not just that he was a member.

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So I would ask. Why did this mob kill Joseph Smith?

Because he was the prophet of our religion at the time. They viewed him as the source... though that didn't work out all to well.

They didn't like that he taught that they were teaching corrupted versions of the gospel.

Nor did they like that the Bible wasn't the only source of the gospel.

Nor did they like the fact that Joseph was somewhat of an abolitionist if I remember correctly.

There were other things too... but ultimately, all their reasons combined caused the mob to get angry enough to go in there and kill him.

EDIT: OOOH... woops, sorry, you wanted historical citations... yah srry... well Lightbearer has one I guess.

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People led by fear and zealotry can and will do things unthinkable to those with whom they disagree. Joseph's death came in reaction to what was perceived to be treason through a theocratic uprising. Joseph viewed politics through the lenses of his faith. That scared a lot of people both in and out of the Church. He advocated a flight from American pluralism. That didn't sit well with many people.

In addition to what were considered political threats, there were moral issues that could not be reconciled in a Puritanical/Victorian society. Joseph's plural marriage (and not being forward about it) caused such a frenzy in the press that the general opinion of him had turned sour.

In light of all of this, (after some coaxing from Emma) Joseph did indeed surrender himself to authorities on grounds that he would be protected and fearing that his life would be taken.

Probably the two biggest proponents of the "Joseph Smith was not a martyr" movement are Rocky Hulse and Bob Betts. Their objections rest in the notion that because Joseph Smith used weapons (even in the defense of his friends) he cannot be considered a martyr, and in reality is no more a martyr than Mohammed Atta and the rest of the 9-11 high-jackers.

I have demonstrated at considerable length on other boards precisely why Joseph Smith could remain a martyr in light of his use of weapons, though my answers on the issue (as well as most other issues) are met with disdain and cries that I'm "spinning the facts."

As has been noted elsewhere:

How should a Prophet behave when he is in jail, promised protection, and an armed mob is forming outside? How would you react, if your religious faith was being challenged by an angry mob with guns? Yes, Jesus rebuked violence before His arrest. So did Joseph Smith: "It is not by gun or sword that the kingdom of God will roll forth, but by the power of the truth." But also keep in mind, that when Jesus was being arrested his chief apostle pulled out a sword and cut a man's ear off. Keep in mind that Elijah called down fire from heaven to consume the soldiers sent to capture him (1 Kings 1:10; 12: 'If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee.
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I hashed this out, quite a bit back and at that point reached the conclusion that he was a martyr.

However the discussion was related to Joseph Smith's use of firearms and if retaliation and martyrdom were not mutually exclusive. Though likely discussion worthy, such a direction is not the impetus of the topic.

But, I have been rethinking this a bit.

I'll offer a prevalent definition of "Martyr" from dictionary.com that hopefully we can all find agreeable.

1. any of those persons who choose to suffer or die rather than give up their faith or principles

2. any person tortured or killed because of his or her beliefs

As I see it, martyrdom does not singularly rest with the intents and beliefs of the "martyred" individual, but also and likely more so in importance are the intentions of the "martyrs" killers.

So I would ask. Why did this mob kill Joseph Smith?

Was it destruction of the press, his LDS beliefs, what have you?

I am hoping for historical citations rather than opinions.

Why did they kill Joseph? Obviously because they hated Joseph and wanted to silence him and destroy Mormonism. They feared Joseph, he was not only a religious leader he was a political force as well. But primarily I believe it was because of his religion he was killed. I think they thought that if he was killed the Church would wither and die on the vine. I think it was very similar reasons the Jews had Christ legally murdered. He was a threat also both religious and political. Many claim that it was just because of the principle of plural marriage, but the problem with that idea was at the time these were only allegations, the Saints did not publicly proclaim the teaching until after they arrived in Utah. They were killed because their testimony was an indictment of traditional Christianity and they proclaimed not a mere reformation of the Church of Christ but a restoration of authority that would make all other Churches be seen as apostate in nature, just as the Jews had been accused of being at the time of Christ. It would overthrow the very foundations of the Christian religion... that is also why many try to defame and oppose it even now. It is uncompromising and thus it forces the issue of "if it is true then all others are wrong" not a very popular sentiment. Now you have my opinion, here is a historical citation that backs it up:
(D&C 135:1-7)"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
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Hiya Mudcat,

I hashed this out, quite a bit back and at that point reached the conclusion that he was a martyr.

...I'll offer a prevalent definition of "Martyr" from dictionary.com that hopefully we can all find agreeable.

In NT verbiage, martyr simply means "witness."

I suspect that definition is more relevant than whatever additional 21st-century baggage the term has come to carry.

As I see it, martyrdom does not singularly rest with the intents and beliefs of the "martyred" individual, but also and likely more so in importance are the intentions of the "martyrs" killers.

NT says witnesses would be killed for the testimony that they bore.

So I would ask. Why did this mob kill Joseph Smith?

Seven years prior to his death, Elijah Lovejoy, a preacher/newspaper editor was killed by a mob over the issue of slavery.

(Elijah was advocating for emancipating all slaves - and a pro-slavery mob killed him.)

Seven years later in 1844, Joseph's campaign for president, not far from where Elijah was killed, also advocated the same thing, but even laid out a viable means to fund the emancipation of each slave.

Was it destruction of the press, his LDS beliefs, what have you?

You would have to ask each member of the mob. There were largely different motives that drove them.

Some of the instigators, like Sharp, hated Joseph for financial and political reasons.

(People can become ticked off when a man of principle won't collude with them.)

Some thought it infuriatingly undemocratic to claim revelation from God - and claimed it to be their duty of God to end such autocratic claims. etc., etc.

Another man swore to kill Joseph because Joseph played a role in ending his courtship of a young lass.

Etc.

Take your pick. And that's just a small sampling of the rationale some people dredged up to shut a man's mouth for good.

I am hoping for historical citations rather than opinions.

A single opinion would be too simple. But was he killed for the testimony that he bore?

The very founding of Nauvou, and its town council were expressions/outgrowths of what he saw/witnessed.

Can one say that the central events in Nauvou were anything other than an expression of his testimony?

Especially in the context of his 1844 platform.

There would have been no Nauvou if he had not born testimony of what he saw.

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Why did the mob kill Joseph?

If you had left your land to join the Saints, and then no longer believed it was true, you might be angry with Joseph.

If you were previously a Mason, and heard him put normal Masonry down, you might disagree with him.

If you had put your money in his bank and lost it all, when he prophesied it would never fail, and heard rumors of illegalities of the bank, you would probably be upset with Joseph.

If you heard rumors of Danites, the council of fifty, and heard his plans for the US, you might wonder how far he would go.

If your child or wife was secretly married to him and had relations with him, it would be hard to stay humble.

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Why did the mob kill Joseph?

If you had left your land to join the Saints, and then no longer believed it was true, you might be angry with Joseph.

If you were previously a Mason, and heard him put normal Masonry down, you might disagree with him.

If you had put your money in his bank and lost it all, when he prophesied it would never fail, and heard rumors of illegalities of the bank, you would probably be upset with Joseph.

If you heard rumors of Danites, the council of fifty, and heard his plans for the US, you might wonder how far he would go.

If your child or wife was secretly married to him and had relations with him, it would be hard to stay humble.

The problem here is simple: The persecution of JS began almost immediately upon publication of the book of mormon. He was imprisoned, tarred and feathered, mormon property was destroyed, including homes and mormon printing presses and no one suffered for their crimes. What happened to JS was an accumulation of news stories, rumors, and ignorance about mormons. Not to mention the frontier mentality of Americans during that time. They were not exactly a tolerant people.

And we need to mention his run for president. He was a candidate for the presidency. We can also claim that it was a politcal assasination. I am sure that it was on the mob's mind. Throughout our lives, we make people angry. But no deserves to die for doing so.

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I hashed this out, quite a bit back and at that point reached the conclusion that he was a martyr.

However the discussion was related to Joseph Smith's use of firearms and if retaliation and martyrdom were not mutually exclusive. Though likely discussion worthy, such a direction is not the impetus of the topic.

But, I have been rethinking this a bit.

I'll offer a prevalent definition of "Martyr" from dictionary.com that hopefully we can all find agreeable.

1. any of those persons who choose to suffer or die rather than give up their faith or principles

2. any person tortured or killed because of his or her beliefs

As I see it, martyrdom does not singularly rest with the intents and beliefs of the "martyred" individual, but also and likely more so in importance are the intentions of the "martyrs" killers.

So I would ask. Why did this mob kill Joseph Smith?

Was it destruction of the press, his LDS beliefs, what have you?

I am hoping for historical citations rather than opinions.

Unfortunatly the publicly declared motives and the spark that ignites the fuse for such actions as these are seldom the motives that actually are the basis of the action. This is not to say that the real motives can not be found but only that one has to dig beneath the public pronouncements. Not an easy task.

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Historically speaking, "martyr" has had a wider label than what is being claimed today by those who protest the label being given to Joseph Smith.

See for example the Prison Ship Martyrs as well as some who died in the Crusades. Willingness to die didn't seem to be required, neither did pacifism. What was required was dying for a cause.

'

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If you had left your land to join the Saints, and then no longer believed it was true, you might be angry with Joseph.

You might, but you'd be blaming the wrong person. Of course, anger is not always rational.

If you were previously a Mason, and heard him put normal Masonry down, you might disagree with him.

I wonder where you imagine he "put normal Masonry down". I have read more than a little on the matter, and there was no indication that he ever did.

Furthermore, there were dozens of Masons in the Church in 1844 (including Hyrum and several of the Apostles), and they did not feel he had betrayed "normal Masonry".

If you had put your money in his bank and lost it all, when he prophesied it would never fail, and heard rumors of illegalities of the bank, you would probably be upset with Joseph.

Of course money is a major driving force in this sort of thing. But once again, there was a huge "Panic of 1837" across the country, Ohio was not exempt. And, more to the point, those who were members of the Kirtland Anti-Bank Safety Society failed to follow the rules Joseph and the other managers of the anti-bank, they effectively scuttled the society.

Furthermore, Joseph told them that he would have nothing more to do with the society precisely because they were ignoring his counsel.

So, CFR on your claim that Joseph had categorically prophesied that the KABSS would never fail.

If you heard rumors of Danites, the council of fifty, and heard his plans for the US, you might wonder how far he would go.

You might. But rumors of Danites were not facts of Danites (which was an apostate group, from the beginning).

The Council of Fifty included, as everyone involved knew, included many people who were not LDS as well as Saints.

And what, exactly, were these "plans for the US [sic]" that should have made people angry? Was it freeing the slaves by buying them from their owners? Was it building a dam to improve navigation on the Mississippi? I mean, I know that would infuriate me.

If your child or wife was secretly married to him and had relations with him, it would be hard to stay humble.

And the evidence for this is what, exactly? Because there is no reason to believe that the previously married women to whom Joseph was sealed ever had "relations" with him. You seem to be conflating "sealing" with "sexual intercourse". The two are not synonymous.

Lehi

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hagoth7 said: Seven years prior to his death, Elijah Lovejoy, a preacher/newspaper editor was killed by a mob over the issue of slavery.

(Elijah was advocating for emancipating all slaves - and a pro-slavery mob killed him.)

Seven years later in 1844, Joseph's campaign for president, not far from where Elijah was killed, also advocated the same thing, but even laid out a viable means to fund the emancipation of each slave.

The problem here is simple: The persecution of JS began almost immediately upon publication of the book of mormon. He was imprisoned, tarred and feathered, mormon property was destroyed, including homes and mormon printing presses and no one suffered for their crimes. What happened to JS was an accumulation of news stories, rumors, and ignorance about mormons. Not to mention the frontier mentality of Americans during that time. They were not exactly a tolerant people.

And we need to mention his run for president. He was a candidate for the presidency. We can also claim that it was a politcal assasination. I am sure that it was on the mob's mind. Throughout our lives, we make people angry. But no deserves to die for doing so.

You are both on target, and claims of martyrdom are secondary (and perhaps a matter of faith).

Joseph was not the victim of an angry mob, but the presence of a mob and his incarceration in Carthage Jail was a useful subterfuge for a major political assassination. Powerful people saw Joseph as a huge political threat and eliminated him at the first viable opportunity. You can read about the surprising evidence and circumstances in Robert Wicks & Fred Foister, Junius and Joseph: Presidential Politics and the Assassination of the First Mormon Prophet (Logan: USU Press, 2005). After Joseph was wounded and leaped from the second story window of the jail, he was carefully set up against the well just outside the jail and given the coup de grace in disciplined military fashion.

Another book on Mormon history is in preparation, and it will deal with an equally odd and ironic set of circumstances leading up to the massacre of the Fancher wagon train at Mountain Meadows. A hint: Innocent victims taken many years before returned to take recompense on all concerned, but is turnabout fair play? Some might conclude that both Fancher and Lee had it coming to them going as far back as the Black Hawk War.

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Joseph was not the victim of an angry mob, but the presence of a mob and his incarceration in Carthage Jail was a useful subterfuge for a major political assassination. Powerful people saw Joseph as a huge political threat and eliminated him at the first viable opportunity. You can read about the surprising evidence and circumstances in Robert Wicks & Fred Foister, Junius and Joseph: Presidential Politics and the Assassination of the First Mormon Prophet (Logan: USU Press, 2005). After Joseph was wounded and leaped from the second story window of the jail, he was carefully set up against the well just outside the jail and given the coup de grace in disciplined military fashion.

This is often overlooked by the critics as if his run for the presidency was not important for the gentile mindset. But it was extremely important. No one gave a hoot about a printing press. Heck, printing presses came and went and a few were destroyed along the way and so the nauvoo expositor was just a blip. But Joseph's run for the presidency was an ice breaker for many people outside the mormon faith who saw mormonism as a threat to their power base. His run for high public office was the catalyst for his murder. Wonderful that more research is being done in this field.

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I hashed this out, quite a bit back and at that point reached the conclusion that he was a martyr.

However the discussion was related to Joseph Smith's use of firearms and if retaliation and martyrdom were not mutually exclusive. Though likely discussion worthy, such a direction is not the impetus of the topic.

But, I have been rethinking this a bit.

I'll offer a prevalent definition of "Martyr" from dictionary.com that hopefully we can all find agreeable.

1. any of those persons who choose to suffer or die rather than give up their faith or principles

2. any person tortured or killed because of his or her beliefs

As I see it, martyrdom does not singularly rest with the intents and beliefs of the "martyred" individual, but also and likely more so in importance are the intentions of the "martyrs" killers.

So I would ask. Why did this mob kill Joseph Smith?

Was it destruction of the press, his LDS beliefs, what have you?

I am hoping for historical citations rather than opinions.

He was in every way that matters.

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You might, but you'd be blaming the wrong person. Of course, anger is not always rational.

I wonder where you imagine he "put normal Masonry down". I have read more than a little on the matter, and there was no indication that he ever did.

Furthermore, there were dozens of Masons in the Church in 1844 (including Hyrum and several of the Apostles), and they did not feel he had betrayed "normal Masonry".

Of course money is a major driving force in this sort of thing. But once again, there was a huge "Panic of 1837" across the country, Ohio was not exempt. And, more to the point, those who were members of the Kirtland Anti-Bank Safety Society failed to follow the rules Joseph and the other managers of the anti-bank, they effectively scuttled the society.

Furthermore, Joseph told them that he would have nothing more to do with the society precisely because they were ignoring his counsel.

So, CFR on your claim that Joseph had categorically prophesied that the KABSS would never fail.

You might. But rumors of Danites were not facts of Danites (which was an apostate group, from the beginning).

The Council of Fifty included, as everyone involved knew, included many people who were not LDS as well as Saints.

And what, exactly, were these "plans for the US [sic]" that should have made people angry? Was it freeing the slaves by buying them from their owners? Was it building a dam to improve navigation on the Mississippi? I mean, I know that would infuriate me.

And the evidence for this is what, exactly? Because there is no reason to believe that the previously married women to whom Joseph was sealed ever had "relations" with him. You seem to be conflating "sealing" with "sexual intercourse". The two are not synonymous.

Lehi

In dealing with why Joseph was killed, it doesn't matter whether any of what I stated is true. It matters what the rumors were. So, you don't think there were rumors of the stuff that I stated?

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...But Joseph's run for the presidency was an ice breaker for many people outside the mormon faith who saw mormonism as a threat to their power base. His run for high public office was the catalyst for his murder...

And his official platform to end slavery was something people were willing to kill over.

In the 1830s. In the 1840s. And well beyond the 1860s.

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You may want to read this account of the Martyrdom of Joseph Smith which was given by a William M. Daniels (non-member) who witnessed the murder at Carthage from outside of the jail and was a witness of events that took place with the evil fiends before hand and testified to their murderous intents and how they executed it.

http://sethadamsmith.com/2010/05/23/the-martyrdom-of-joseph-smith/

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