Habeas Corpus Action Brought in Nauvoo Municipal Court by Joseph Smith

History of the Church, Volume VI (pp.456-458)
The Nauvoo Expositor building, where the press was destroyed on the order of Joseph Smith

At 5 p.m. I appeared before the Municipal Court on the above habeas corpus. The following is a copy of their docket.

Hearing on the Expositor Affairs Before the Municipal Court of Nauvoo­ - habeas corpus Proceedings.

Special session, June 12th, 1844, 5 o'clock p.m.

Present-Alderman N. K. Whitney, Orson Spencer, George W. Har­ris, Gustavus Hills, Elias Smith, and Samuel Bennett, associate justices. The Mayor being on trial, George W. Harris was elected president pro tem.

John P. Greene, Marshal, made his return on the writ of habeas corpus; "the body of Joseph Smith in court."

David Bettisworth made his return on the copy of the warrant which was attached to the petition as follows:-I hold the body of Joseph Smith by virtue of a writ, of which the within is a copy. David Bettis­worth, constable."

7th section of Addenda of City Ordinance read by Councilor George P. Styles. Resolution of City Council June 10th, 1844, declaring print­ing establishment of the Nauvoo Expositor a nuisance read. Mayor's order to the Marshal to execute the same was also read, and Lieut.­ General's order of June 10th, 1844, to Major-General Dunham to assist the Marshal to destroy said printing establishment.

Theodore Turley sworn, said that the order of the Marshal was exe­cuted quietly and peaceably. There was no riot or disturbance, no noise, no exultation; the Marshal endeavored to keep peace and silence, and the officers did also. The two companies under command of Dun­ham and Markham retired in perfect order; no exultation or shouting. Marched in front of the Mansion, and were dismissed.

J .R. Wakefield confirmed the statements of Theodore Turley: said the Marshal stated his authority, and demanded the keys of the building, which Higbee denied; and Marshal ordered the door to be forced, and the press was broken, and type pied in the street.

James Jackson, sworn, confirmed the statements of previous wit­nesses; heard no noise on opening the door. Most of the confusion he heard was Higbee and his company throwing blackguard language to the posse, which they did not regard: saw the whole proceedings till they were dismissed; all was done in order. Higbee's blackguard language was not answered to at all by the ranks. Heard nothing said about shooting. Heard someone damn the city authorities. Under­stood it was Charles Foster. I am a stranger in this place.

John Kay, Robert Clift, Augustus A. Farnham, Joseph A. Kelting, Henry G. Sherwood, Augustus Stafford, Cyrus Canfield, John Gleason sworn.

Henry C. Sherwood confirmed the statements of previous witnesses. Pullin called for Dr. Foster and the officer commanded silence. Francis M. Higbee's threats have been lavish towards General Smith and Hyrum for a long time; has threatened injury upon them and the prop­erty of the Smiths. His conspiracies and threats have not been a little. ­

Orrin P. Rockwell sworn. Some three or four weeks ago said Francis M. Higbee said he would go his death against Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Francis said, "I know my course is wrong; but if I stop I shall get hell, and if I go on I shall only get hell;" and would do what he intended at the risk of his life, and would destroy the General if pos­sible. Said the Council had ordered the press destroyed and "who lays his bands on the press it is death to them." Witness has frequently heard Higbee tell lies about the General to injure his character.

John Hughes, Joseph Dalton, William Clayton and James Goff sworn. John Hughes said, Higbee said, "By God, all I want to live for is to see this city sunk down to the lowest hell, and by God it "shall!" This was just previous to the Marshal’s arriving on the 10th. William Clayton said two years ago this June Francis M. Higbee con­fessed he was concerned with John C. Bennett in his iniquity, and had a bad disorder: said he knew his character was ruined. From time to time since that, witness knew Higbee had been threatening General Smith's character and property.

Leonard Soby heard Higbee threaten to shoot General Smith at Rollinson's store, and Higbee said the destinies of this people are this day sealed in the archives of heaven, and there shall not be left one stone upon another on that temple.

John P. McEwan: Higbee said, in reference to Joseph Smith, "G­--d-- him, I will shoot him and all that pertains to him; and before ten suns shall go over our heads, the Temple, Nauvoo House and Mansion shall all be destroyed, and it will be the total downfall of this community.”

Cyrus Canfield: Higbee said he would never let things go till he had accomplished the downfall of General Smith; that he did not value his life to produce the downfall of General Smith.

Joseph Dalton: Higbee said, if they laid their hands on the press, from that hour they might date their downfall; that ten suns should not roll over their heads till the city was destroyed.

Court decided that Joseph Smith had acted under proper authority in destroying the establishment of the Nauvoo Expositor on the 10th inst.; that his orders were executed in an orderly and judicious manner, without noise or tumult: that this was a malicious prosecution on the part of Francis M. Higbee; and that said Higbee pay the costs of suit, and that Joseph Smith be honorably discharged from the accusations and of the writ, and go hence without delay.

The June 8-10 Meeting of the Nauvoo City Council

Ordinance Concerning Libels and Other Purposes

Entry in the Personal Narrative of Joseph Smith (June 10, 1844)