Sunday, February 1, 2015

Nauvoo skies, Warsaw, and the Christ-like quality of virtue

Isn't this the most beautiful sunset you've ever seen?
I am regularly awe struck how beautiful it is here. 
If Nauvoo in the winter is not on your bucket list, you better add it.

This picture was taken last month by the son of a missionary couple here. He has some other amazing shots. Nauvoo Website

Check this out
Eagle on a mission--get out of the way! It was taken in Keokuk, Iowa near where we shop at Wal-mart.

Warsaw and more of the story
I've had requests to explain more of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, and since we took a tour this week along the Martyrdom Trail as we call it, I can add a few more details.

Remember, in my post titled Charity and Joseph, I explained in simple terms some of the events that led to Joseph's incarceration in Carthage Jail. See that post if you're confused.
Thomas Sharp, was the editor of the Warsaw Signal that flagrantly and consistently distorted facts about Joseph Smith to stir people up and sell news papers. When the Mormon's didn't retaliate as expected, the slanderous print was taken to a new shop in Nauvoo under the name of the Nauvoo Expositor.

Side note--Thomas Sharp was also head of the Anti-Mormon political party in the 1840's.
Well, the pictures above show what's left of the infamous print shop in Warsaw. It was resurrected in 1987 as a museum hoping to bring in a little funding for the dwindling city. However, infamy doesn't always have much of a draw especially for the LDS crowd and it was closed in 2008 due to little patronization. The remains of the museum are what you see above.

Military or civilian clothes?
Some people are concerned that Joseph is shown headed to Carthage Jail in both his military uniform and in his regular clothes. Here is more of the story.

Joseph agreed to show up in Carthage on a charge of rioting since he was the mayor who agreed with the Nauvoo City Council to deem the Nauvoo Expositor a nuisance and had the press destroyed. It was all done legally as I explained before, and the entire City Council and Joseph had been acquitted of the charge twice. None-the-less, Joseph agreed to come with the Council to avoid mob action directed at citizens in Nauvoo. Joseph was promised a fair trial and safety by Governor Ford if he would come voluntarily.

So, when Joseph left Nauvoo at 6 AM on Monday, June 24, 1844, he was in his military uniform as mayor of Nauvoo and head of the Nauvoo Legion. He also came with 18 of the City Council and there were others who were asked to come. In all, there were about 38 men.

They traveled by horse back from Nauvoo to Carthage which in 1844 was an 18 mile trip. However,when the men arrived at Albert Fellows farm and stopped to rest the horses, Captain Dunn of the  Augusta Illinois Militia, met up with the group.
Captain Dunn and his militia of 60 men had orders to march into Nauvoo and disarm the Nauvoo legion of their state given arms. Joseph warned Captain Dunn that the Nauvoo Legion would not likely relinquish their arms willingly, having  memories of Missouri and the blood and horror that took place after giving up their weapons just 7 years earlier.
This is the location of Albert Fellow's farm. The original farmhouse is gone, of course, but this is the same location about 4 miles west of Carthage and 14 miles from Nauvoo.

It was agreed that Joseph would return to Nauvoo to convince the Nauvoo Legion to give back any state owned weapons. Only one man went on to Carthage at that time to inform Governor Ford of the delay.

The men arrived back in Nauvoo about 2:30 PM. After complying with Captain Dunn's orders, Joseph spent a few hours at home with his wife, Emma, and children. When Joseph left the second time from Nauvoo about 6:30 PM that same day, he was in civilian clothes.

Charge of treason
Something else I want to explain better is the charge of treason. As I mentioned before, Joseph was never presented with evidence of treason before a judge. To me, it is obvious that the charges would not have stuck, which is why the judge didn't have both charges brought up at the same time. Only the charge of rioting was addressed and when bail was met and most of the men had headed back to Nauvoo, the second charge of treason was addressed. When Joseph appeared before the judge this time, the court room was empty since the judge had gone home early. None-the-less and without a preliminary hearing, Joseph was taken to jail to await trial for treason.

Okay, so maybe there wasn't proof of treason, but what reasons did they give for such a serious crime? Well, on 18th of that same month, the Warsaw Signal, wrote in their paper that Nauvoo would be attacked by an armed mob on the 19th of June. In response, Joseph as head of the Nauvoo Legion declared Marshal Law in the city of Nauvoo. Basically, that meant that no one could come or go from Nauvoo. Marshal Law was withdrawn a day later when the war was abated.

The charge of treason then was because Joseph declared Marshal Law. Why is that considered treason? Well, we'll all have to use our imagination on that one. Joseph wrote to Emma from Carthage Jail, "Don't worry about the charge of treason. There is nothing to it."
 This is the general spot that historians think the 200 men met and smeared their faces with mud and gun powder to hide their identities before attacking Joseph and Hyrum in Carthage Jail.

This is the sight of the old tavern in Warsaw where the murderers met after the terrible deed was done and where they drank and bragged. All the men were exhonerated before a judge in 1845. However, I'm quite sure that their fate in the next life hasn't turned out well.

The rest of the story
 It has been nearly 175 years since the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum and the exodus of the Mormons from the United States. Everyone involved is dead.  What remains?
Well, the thriving city of Nauvoo went from 12,000 population to less than 900 today and had a state military of 3,500 in the 1840's.
Warsaw grew from 500 to 3000 today that once had a military of 1,100.
Carthage had a town of 500 with 75 men in their militia of which most of them may have been part of the mob that attacked Carthage Jail. Today they have a population of about 2700.
All three towns are suffering with the financial collapse in America. Abandoned buildings are evidence up and down narrow streets with deteriorating sidewalks and little to no signs of prosperity.
Thomas Sharp couldn't sell many news papers once the Mormons were gone. He eventually went out of business, moved to Carthage and set up shop again. Some evidence suggests that he may have been successful in Carthage but truth is, he was a paraplegic the last three years of his life. That sounds pretty miserable to me.
Governor Ford was not a happy camper after the murders. He was not re-elected ever again. Both he and his wife died about 12 years later-- one of cancer and the other tuberculosis leaving his children as paupers. Both of his sons were hung by a mob accusing them of stealing horses. Evidence suggests that the boys were innocent.

The assignment we received from our mission president this week was to consider Christ-like characteristics and pick one to work on.

Both Elder Johnson and I chose virtue. So what exactly is virtue?

In a nut shell, here's what we discovered: Virtue originates in one's innermost thoughts. It is a set of thoughts and behaviors that is based on high moral standards. (It is what's lacking in much of society both in the 1840's and now.) Traits like honesty, integrity, being obedient to God's commandments, accountability for thoughts as well as actions are all fruits of virtue. What we do when we think no one is watching is a good measuring stick.

How are we going to be more virtuous? Well, I think it is easier to replace thoughts and behavior with better choices rather than to think I can stop doing something without putting a different behavior in its place (if that makes any sense to you). Therefore, if our mind is full of uplifting music and/or scriptures then negative and undesirable thoughts will have little room to affect our behavior. So, Elder Johnson and I plan to find more scriptures to put to memory, and have a few more uplifting songs on our minds.

Will you do the same? Let's make the world a little better with our efforts.

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