130 years ago today - Mch. 30 1887

[Interview of William Law (former counsellor to Joseph Smith, editor: Nauvoo Expositor)]
"You speak, in your book, of Joseph Smith having sent Rockwell to kill Governor Boggs. Let me tell you, that Joe Smith, told me the fact himself. The words were substantially like this, "I sent Rockwell to kill Boggs, but he missed him, it was a failure; he wounded him instead of sending him to Hell."

... "What position had Rockwell in Joseph's house?"

"Rockwell was the lackey of the house. He used to comb and shave Joseph, blackened his boots and drove his carriage. He would have done anything Joe wanted him to do. I never saw a horse or carriage belonging to Rockwell which you say he got from Joseph for the attempt to kill Boggs."

...Secret orders went out that nobody could buy property without the permission of Joseph Smith, Hyrum or the authorities, as they called them, so our property was practically worthless. ... [Wilson Law] wrestled with Joe in Nauvoo and threw him on his back."

... "They tried to get rid of me in different ways. One was by poisoning. I was already out of the church when Hyrum called one day and invited me for the next day to a reconciliation dinner as he called it, to his house. He said Joseph would come, too. He invited me and my wife. He was very urgent about the matter, but I declined the invitation. Now I must tell you that I, in those dangerous days, did not neglect to look out somewhat for the safety of my person and that I kept a detective or two among those who were in the confidence of the Smiths. That very same evening of the day on which Hyrum had been to my house inviting me, my detective told me that they had conceived the plan to poison me at the reconciliation dinner. Their object was a double one. My going to the dinner would have shown to the people that I was reconciled and my death would have freed them of an enemy. You may imagine that I didn't regret having declined that amiable invitation."

"Have you had any knowledge of cases of poisoning in Nauvoo, ordered by the authorities?"

"I know that several men, six or seven, died under very suspicious circumstances. Among them were two secretaries of the prophet, Mulholland and Blaskel Thompson. I saw Mulholland die and the symptoms looked very suspicious to me. Dr. Foster, who was a very good physician, believed firmly that those six or seven men had been poisoned, and told me so repeatedly."

"What may have been the reason for poisoning the secretaries?"

(With a smile) "They knew too much, probably."

"What do you know about the Danites?"

"Nothing of my personal knowledge. They existed, but their workings were kept very secret. I never belonged to the initiated. Smith tried very hard to get them to kill me. One day my detective told me, that two Danites had gone to Joseph and told him that they wanted to put me out of the way. Joseph said: "Don't--he (Law) is too influential; his death would bring the country down upon us; wait." ...

"Did Emma, the elect lady, come to your house and complain about Joseph?"

"No. She never came to my house for that purpose. But I met her sometimes on the street and then she used to complain, especially because of the girls whom Joseph kept in the house, devoting his attention to them. You have overrated her, she was dishonest."

"Do you mean to say that she was so outside of the influence Joseph had over her?"

"Yes, that is exactly what I mean. Let me tell you a case, that will be full proof to you. Soon after my arrive in Nauvoo the two L[awrence] girls came to the holy city, two very young girls, 15 to 17 years of age. They had been converted in Canada, were orphans and worth about $8000 in English gold. Joseph got to be appointed their Guardian, probably with the help of Dr. Bennett. He naturally put the gold in his pocket and had the Girls sealed to him. He asked me to go on his bond as a guardian, as Sidney Rigdon had done. "It is only a formality," he said. Foolishly enough, and not yet suspecting anything, I put my name on the paper. Emma complained about Joseph's living with the L[awrence] girls, but not very violently. It is my conviction that she was his full accomplice, that she was not a bit better than he. When I saw how things went I should have taken steps to be released of that bond, but I never thought of it. After Joseph's death, A. W. Babbitt became guardian of the two girls. He asked Emma for a settlement about the $8000. Emma said she had nothing to do with her husband's debts. Now Babbitt asked for the books and she gave them to him. Babbitt found that Joseph had counted an expense of about $3000 for board and clothing of the girls. ...

"You have known the parents of the prophet, old Lucy and old Joe, the Abraham of this new dispensation?"

"Oh, yes, I knew them. Old Lucy was in her dotage at that time; she seemed a harmless old woman. Old Joe sold blessings, so much a head, always in the same style--that my sons should be emperors and my daughters mothers of queens, and that everybody should have as many children as there was sands on the shore. Old Joe was an old tramp."

... "What do you remember about Emma's relations to the revelation on celestial marriage?"

"Well, I told you that she used to complain to me about Joseph's escapades whenever she met me on the street. She spoke repeatedly about that pretended revelation. She said once: "The revelation says I must submit or be destroyed. Well, I guess I have to submit." On another day she said: "Joe and I have settled our troubles on the basis of equal rights." * * * Emma was a full accomplice of Joseph's crimes. She was a large, coarse woman, as deep a woman as there was, always full of schemes and smooth as oil. They were worthy of each other, she was not a particle better than he."...

"Did you ever see the celebrated peepstone?"

"No. I never saw it and I never saw Joseph giving a revelation. But Hyrum told me once that Joseph, in his younger years, used to hunt for hidden treasures with a peepstone."

"Was Joseph a habitual drunkard?"

"I don't believe he was. I only saw him drunk once. I found Joseph and Hyrum at a place where they kept quantities of wine. I remember that Joseph drank heavily, and that I talked to Hyrum begging him to take his brother away, but that was the only time I saw the prophet drunk."

"Have you ever heard of the old woman that was drowned in the interest of the church?"

"I have heard of a woman being put aside. They said she had been brought over the river and buried on an island near the shore or on the other shore, near the water. But at that time I did not believe a word of rumors of this kind, and did not investigate them."

"Did you ever hear of abortion being practiced in Nauvoo?"

"Yes. There was some talk about Joseph getting no issue from all the women he had intercourse with. Dr. Foster spoke to me about the fact. But I don't remember what was told about abortion. If I heard things of the kind, I didn't believe in them at that time. Joseph was very free in his talk about his women. He told me one day of a certain girl and remarked, that she had given him more pleasure than any girl he had ever enjoyed. I told him it was horrible to talk like this." ...

"What do you know about the revelation on polygamy?"

"... When I came to Joseph and showed him the paper, he said: 'Yes, that is a genuine revelation.' I said to the prophet: 'But in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants there is a revelation just the contrary of this.' 'Oh,' said Joseph, 'that was given when the church was in its infancy, then it was all right to feed the people on milk, but now it is necessary to give them strong meat' We talked a long time about it, finally our discussion became very hot and we gave it up..."

"You returned the revelation to Hyrum?"

"Yes, I did. I was astonished to see in your book that the revelation was such a long document. I remember DISTINCTLY that the original given me by Hyrum was MUCH SHORTER. It covered not more than two or three pages of foolscap. The contents are substantially the same, but there was not that theological introduction. The thing consisted simply in the command of doing it, and that command was restricted to the High Priesthood and to virgins and widows. But as to Joseph, himself, the Lord's chosen servant, it was restricted to virgins only, to clean vessels, from which to procure a pure seed to the Lord."

"In what manner would Joseph succeed to keep you and others from knowing what was going on behind the curtain?"

"Marks, Yves, I and some others had, for a long time, no idea of the depravity that was going on. This was simply the result of a very smart system adopted by the prophet and his intimate friends like Brigham Young, Kimball and others. They first tried a man to see whether they could make a criminal tool out of him. When they felt that he would not be the stuff to make a criminal of, they kept him outside the inner circle and used him to show him up as an example of their religion, as a good, virtuous, universally respected brother."/...

"Did you ever hear Joseph speak of his money?"

"Oh yes, he used to boast of his riches. He expressed the opinion, that it was all important that he should be rich. I heard him say myself, 'it would be better that every man in the church should lose his last cent, than that I should fall and go down.'"


[Source: "The Law Interview: Dr. Wyl and Wm. Law.," The Daily Trubine (Salt Lake Tribune): Sunday Mormon, July 31, 1887]

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