In a previous thread, an obviously irritated poster emphatically and disdainfully declares that Joseph Smith didn't kill anyone at Carthage--and maybe didn't even shoot anyone, either:
“I think there is very little evidence that he [Joseph Smith] killed anyone personally.
“That c--p about him killing people at Carthage jail comes only from a Mormon source trying to paint him as a hero. I do think the fact that he had a gun and that he tried to shoot his way out is credible (although I am not positive it happened, either), but if he killed two people where are the bodies? Where were the funerals? No one was reported as missing? No bodies at the scene? Sounds like if he did manage to hit anyone, they survived.”
(“I think there is very little evidence that he killed anyone personally,” posted by “Steve,” on “Recovery from Mormonism” discussion board, 30 July 2011)
Hold yer fire there, "Steve." Just because you and I happen to share the same first name doesn't mean we necessarily harbor similar views on this murderous matter.
In contrast, another RfM poster, "habiff," asks some more measured and reasoned questions:
"Given the whitewash of all the history of the [Mormon' [C]hurch, [d]o we know the real account of what happened? Do we know that the mob fired first? Maybe Joseph fired first? Did the jailers ever give their account on what really happened? I think it would rock the church's foundation if it ever came to light that Joseph or Hyrum shot first."
("Carthage Jail Account," posted by "habiff," on "Recovery from Mormonism" discussion board, 19 May 2013)
Below are some arguments (from a variety of research-rich books in my personal library, as well as from other sources) concerning reports of who Joseph Smith may have shot and/or killed at Carthage, and how he may have done it, all while not under the "divine" protection of his sacred Mormon underwear (which he had actually ditched before he died).
--Versions of Joseph Smith's Assassination at Carthage, Where He Reportedly Only Wounded Some of His Attackers
*Mormon Author Donna Hill, in “Joseph Smith, the First Mormon”:
“Balls were fired into the room, lodging in the walls and ceiling. Swearing and shouting, more men crowded up the stairway and pushed against the door. When Hyrum stood back to aim his pistol, a shot through the door struck the left side of his nose and he fell moaning, 'I am a dead man.'
“Joseph leaned over his brother and cried, 'Oh, dear brother Hyrum!' Seeing that he was dead, Joseph Smith jumped up, threw open the door and emptied his six-shooter into the passageway. The gun missed fire once or twice but reports had it that Joseph wounded three or four men and that he slipped his fist through the door and punched a young man from Warsaw in the neck.
“An account written for the 'Atlantic Monthly' some years later comment upon Joseph's courage, saying that he stood by the jamb of the door and fired four shots, bring his man down every time. According to that report, he shot an Irishman named Wills in the arm; a southerner from the Mississippi bottom named Gallagher (spelled Gallaher on the indictment) in the face; a gawky youth from Bear Creek named Voorhees (spelled Voras on the indictment) in the shoulder; and another man whom the reporter did not care to name because he was six feet two in moccasins (identified as Allen on the indictment). It was, said that account, a 'handsome fight.'”
(Donna Hill, “Joseph Smith, the First Mormon: The Definitive Story of a Complex and Charismatic Man and the People Who Knew Him,” Chapter 15, “Martyrdom” [Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1977], p. 416)
*Excommunicated Mormon Author Fawn Brodie, in “No Man Knows My History”:
“Joseph had a six-shooter and Hyrum a single-barrel pistol, which had been smuggled in by friends the previous day. The other two men [Willard Richards and John Taylor] had nothing to defend themselves with save two hickory canes. All four sprang against the door but retreated when the first ball penetrated the thick panel.
“As the door was forced open, . . . Hyrum was caught by fire from one of the half-dozen muzzles pointing evilly toward the doorway. . . .
“Joseph now discharged all six barrels down the passageway. Three of them missed fire but the other three found marks. One of the wounded rushed back down the stairs, his arm a mass of blood and mangled flesh. 'Are you badly hurt?' someone shouted.
“'Yes, my arm is all shot to pieces by Old Joe,' he screamed, 'but I don't care; I've got revenge; I shot Hyrum!' . . ,
“Most of the balls coming in through the window were striking harmlessly against the ceiling, while the men in the hallway who had not been hit or frightened back by Joseph's shooting were trying to fix their aim upon him.
“When his pistol was empty, Joseph flung it on the floor crying, 'There, defend yourselves as well as you can,' and sprang to the window.”
(Fawn Brodie, “No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet,” 2nd ed., Chapter XXVII, “Carthage” [New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983], p. 393)
*Excommunicated Mormon Author D. Michael Quinn, in “The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power”:
“. . . Three prisoners were trying to secure the upper room's door with bare hands and wooden canes against a cursing mob shooting randomly inside. Joseph Smith fired back with a six-shooter at the attackers in the doorway, wounding three of them.”
(D, Michael Quinn, “The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power” [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1994], p. 141)
*Non-Mormon Author Richard Abanes, in “One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church”:
“[Joseph Smith], who had been smuggled a six-shooter, fired all of his rounds at the door, severely wounding the man who had just killed his brother. . . .
“. . . Joseph retreated, throwing his gun at the assailants and lunging for the second-story window in a vain attempt to escape.”
(Richard Abanes, “One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church” [New York, New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002], pp. 199, 201)
*Non-Mormon Author Jon Krakauer, in “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of a Violent Faith”:
“ . . . [F]riendly visitors were given unrestricted access to the Smith brothers [in Carthage Jail]. By this means, two guns were smuggled in to theSmith brothers--a six-shooter pepperbox revolver and a single-shot pistol. . . .
“The [Warsaw Dragoons] swarmed upstairs and tried to force their way into the bedroom where the prisoners were quartered. Joseph and Hyrum brandished their smuggled weapons while Taylor and Richards each grabbed a walking stick, positioned themselves on either side of the doorway and began whacking furiously at the mob's muskets as the barrels were poked through the partially-opened door.
“Two bullets ripped through the door panel; the second one smashed into Hyrum's neck, severing his spinal cord, and he dropped to the floor dead, where four more balls immediately struck his body. Joseph responded by reaching around the doorjamb and blindly firing all six rounds of his revolver, wounding at least one of the Warsaw Dragoons.”
(Jon Krakauer, “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of a Violent Faith,” Chapter Twelve, “Carthage” [New York, New York: Doubleday, a Division of Random House, 2003], pp. 131-32)
--Versions of Joseph Smith's Assassination at Carthage, Where Some of Those Whom He Reportedly Shot Died as a Result
*Mormon Authors Dallin H. Oaks (eventual Mormon Church Apostle) and Marvin S . Hill (Associate Professor of History, Brigham Young University), in "Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assasins of Joseph Smith":
“Upon hearing the guns firing below, Joseph and Hyrum seized their pistols and ran to the door to hold it shut against the attackers. Some of the mob fired shots through the wooden door, hitting Hyrum in the face. . . .
"Joseph, seeing his fallen brother at his feet, stepped up beside the door and began firing his pistol at the men in the hallway. After attempting to fire all six barrels (three misfired) he ran to the window . . . as bullets struck him from behind. . . . An examination of his body showed that he had been hit four times, once in the right collar bone, once in the breast and twice in the back. . . .
“Very little is known about four of the men who were indicted [in Joseph Smith's death]. . . . Wills, Voras and Gallaher were probably named in the indictment because of their wounds, which testimony showed were received at the jail, [and] were irrefutable evidence that they had participated in the mob. . . . A contemporary witness reported these three as saying that they were the first men at the jail, that one of them shot through the door killing Hyrum, that Joseph wounded all three with his pistol and that Gallaher shot Joseph as he ran to the window. According to Hay, Wills--whom the Mormon prophet had shot in the arm--was an Irishman who joined the mob from 'his congenital love of a brawl.' Gallaher was a young man from Mississippi who was shot in the face. Hay described Voras (Voorhees} as a 'half-grown hobbledehoy from Bear Creek' whom Joseph shot in the shoulder. . . .
“ . . . William M. Daniels, the prosecution's key witness before the grand jury [had] [t]wo weeks before the trial . . . published a 24-page booklet containing 'the names and proceedings of the principal murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. . . .
“The Daniels booklet . . . adds one unfamiliar detail [about what took place as the mob ran up the stairway and fired thorough the wooden door into the prisoners' chamber]: that the pistol Joseph fired at the mob 'wounded three of them--two mortally.' . . .
“Daniels [in court testimony] told . . . how . . .. [h]e saw three wounded men after the shooting. Daniels was acquainted with one of them, a man named Wills, whose 'arm was shot all to pieces.' This man said in Daniels' presence that 'Joe Smith shot him, that he was the first [attacker] shot through the door.' A man named Voras had blood on his shoulder but appeared to be only slightly wounded. A third man was wounded in the face. When the call came to go around to the window, the man who was wounded in the shoulder ran around that side of the jail. There, Daniels said, 'I saw him shoot Smith,' holding the gun in both hands. Daniels said he had not seen any of the wounded men since that day at the jail.” . . .
“Immediately following Daniels' testimony about the wounds received by the three men, [counsel for the accused murderers of Joseph Smith] asked about the truthfulness of the pamphlet's statement that Joseph Smith had mortally wounded two of his assailants. Daniels replied: 'I told you I did not write that book--[Lyman O.] Littlefield wrote it.'”
(Dallin Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, “Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith,” Chapter 2, 'Murder . . . by a Respectable Set of Men;” Chapter 4, “Elections and Indictments;” Chapter 6, “The Courtroom and the Contestants;” and Chapter 8, “Quiet Perjury to Screen a Murder” [Urbana, Chicago, London: University of Illinois Press, 1976], pp. 21, 52-53, 87, 131-32)
*Excommunicated Mormon Authors Jerald and Sandra Tanner, in “The Changing World of Mormonism” and in “Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?”:
“Most Mormons believe that Joseph Smith died without putting up a struggle but the actual truth is that he died in a gunfight. In the 'History of the Church,' the following account is given concerning Joseph Smith's death:
“'Immediately there was a little rustling at the outer door of the jail and a cry of surrender, and also a discharge of three or four firearms followed instantly. . . . Joseph sprang to his coat for his six-shooter, Hyrum for his single barrel. . . .
“'When Hyrum fell, Joseph exclaimed, 'Oh dear, brother Hyrum!' and opening the door a few inches he discharged his six-shooter in the stairway . . . two or three barrels of which missed fire.
“'Joseph, seeing there was no safety in the room and no doubt thinking that it would save the lives of his brethren in the room if he could get out, turned calmly from the door, dropped his pistol on the floor and sprang into the window . . . and he fell outward into the hands of his murderers . . . .' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 6, pp. 617-18)
“In the introduction to Volume 6 of the 'History of the Church,' p. xli, Joseph Smith is praised for his part in the gunfight:
“'. . . [T]he Prophet turned from the prostrate form of his murdered brother to face-death dealing guns and bravely returned the fire of his assailants, 'bringing his man down every time' and compelling even John Hay, who but reluctantly accords the Prophet any quality of virtue, to confess that he “made a handsome fight.” . . .'
“John Taylor, who became the third president of the [Mormon] Church, testified concerning the death of Joseph Smith:
“'He [Joseph Smith], however, instantly arose and with a firm quick step and a determined expression of countenance, approached the door and pulling the six-shooter left by Brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died.' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 7, pp. 102-03)
“From the preceding information it can be seen that the death of Joseph Smith can in no way be compared to the death of Jesus. Jesus did go like a 'lamb to the slaughter' but Joseph Smith died like a raging lion.”
(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, “The Changing World of Mormonism: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Changes in Mormon Doctrine and Practice” [Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1980-81], pp. 465-66)
“It is claimed that before Joseph Smith was murdered in the Carthage jail he made this statement: 'I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; . . . ' ('Doctrine and Covenants' 135: 4). . . .
“John Taylor, who became the third president of the Mormon Church, made these statements concerning the death of Joseph Smith:
“'Elder Cyrus B . Wheelock came to see us and when he was ab out leaving drew a small pistol--a six-shooter--from his pocket, remarking at the same time, 'Would any of you like to have this?' Brother Joseph immediately replied, “Yes, give it to me,” whereupon he took the pistol and put it in his pantaloons pocket. . . . I was sitting at one of the front windows of the jail when I saw a number of men, with painted faces, coming around the corner of the jail and aiming towards the stairs. . . .
“'I shall never forget the deep feeling of sympathy and regard manifested in the countenance of Brother Joseph as he drew nigh to Hyrum and, leaning over him, exclaimed, “Oh! My poor, dear brother Hyrum!” He, however, instantly arose and with a firm, quick step and a determined expression on his countenance, approached the door and pulling the six-shooter left by Brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges. Two of whom, I am informed, died.' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 7, pp. 100, 102-03)”
(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, “Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?,” 5th ed., Chapter 19, “Joseph Smith: Like a Lamb?” (Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987), p. 259)
--Versions of Joseph Smith's Assassination at Carthage Jail, Where the Ultimate Fate (Death or Survival) of Those Reportedly Shot by Joseph Smith Is Not Mentioned
*Non-Mormon Author Ernest H. Taves, in “Trouble Enough: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon”:
“John Fullmer smuggled a single-barrel pistol into the jail. Cyrus Wheelock brought in a six-shooter in a raincoat pocket. . . .
“ . . . [S]ome of the mob stormed the stairway, pushed against the door and began firing. Others below were firing through the windows.
“The men inside sprang to their weapons: Joseph to the six-shooter, Hyrum to the pistol. A shot came through the door and struck Hyrum near the nose. At the same moment another ball came through the window and struck Hyrum in the back. . . . Joseph emptied the six-shooter down the stairs; some shots misfired, some connected. Balls were whistling through the air all over the room. . . .
“Joseph flung the six-shooter to the floor and tried to get through the window. He was struck twice from the door, once from below. “
(Ernest H. Taves, “Trouble Enough: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon,” Chapter 21, “Assassination” [Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1984], p. 213)
--Did Joseph Smith Shoot and/or Kill Any of His Attackers at Carthage? Give It Your Best Shot
I don't think the case has been conclusively made either way as to whether Joseph Smith actually killed anyone he shot at Carthage. (Please note that I said "anyone he shot at Carthage." We'll get to that point in a moment).
In the meantime, we do have an eventual Mormon apostle, Dallin H. Oaks, along with two noteworthy excommunicated Mormon authors, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, putting up evidence per the argument that Joseph Smith killed members of the Carthage mob.
Oaks cites a witness' claim (examined during the court trial of Joseph Smith's eventually-exonerated assassins) that Joseph Smith had, in fact, mortally wounded some of his Carthage attackers. (That said, Oaks does not clearly indicate whether he views this claim to be true, although he appears inclined toward doubt).
On the other hand, noted ex-Mormon critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner, quoting the view of third president of the Mormon Church John Taylor, argue that Joseph Smith most likely did shoot back at and kill some of his Carthage attackers.
As noted above, I think the jury is perhaps still out on that question.
However, based on the available evidence, it seems beyond reasonable doubt that Joseph Smith did indeed shoot some of his jailhouse assailants with a gun that had been smuggled into him by a sympathizer. The indictments read out against members of the mob who murdered Joseph Smith noted that those on trial for Smith's murder who were wounded were wounded by gunfire. It was, as Oaks observes, the bullet wounds which they received that likely served as compelling physical proof directly tying them to the mob responsible for murdering Joseph Smith. The rounds that inflicted their injuries would have had to have come from Joseph Smith's six-shot revolver since the only other armed cellmate with him at the time of his death--his brother Hyrum--was shot and killed before he (Hyrum) could get off a round from his single-barrel weapon.
That only leaves Joseph Smith who could have wounded the men in question (and--who knows?--maybe killed some, too).
--Joseph Smith Dies in a Gun Battle without the Benefits of His God Garments
By way of interesting sidenote, Joseph Smith, in the process of abandoning his self-created polygamy problem, bought the farm without his garments on. Let's examine his fateful decision (or not, depending on how much stock one puts in the alleged magical power of Mormon underwear to ward off close-quarter gunfire) to chuck his sacred underwear.
-Joseph Smith was Shot Out of a Jail Window as a Fallen, Godless, Garmentless Prophet
For faithful Mormons, that is no doubt a bitter bullet to swallow, but so declared two eventual Mormon Church presidents. Both Brigham Young and Joseph F. Smith essentially condemned Smith for being uninspired in choosing to leave polygamy and his garments behind before he headed off to his death at Carthage Jail.
Excommunicated Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn reports that "Brigham Young told a general conference of Mormons in Utah that 'Joseph was worn out with it [multi-wifing], but as to his denying any such thing, I never knew that he denied the doctrine of polygamy.' Then Young acknowledged, 'Some have said that he did, But I do not believe he ever did.' Most significant is Young's admission that Smith had wearied of plural marriaage. Although Young declined to say he knew Smith had abandoned or denied polygamy, he merely said with uncharacteristic reserve that he never personally heared Smith deny the 'doctrine of polygamy' even though 'some have said that he did.'"
Earth to Kolob: Smith's own actions prove he did.
Quinn continues to unmask the "prophet" Joseph:
"Smith removed his own endowment 'robe' or garment before he went to Carthage Jail and told those with him to do likewise. His nephew Joseph F. Smith later explained, 'When Willard Richards was solicited [by Smith] to do the same, he declined, and it seems little less than marvelous that he was preserved without so much as a bullet piercing his garments.'"
Smith was, it seems, making all kinds of bad (including deadly) decisions because he had tumbled, stumbled and bumbled from grace.
On that point, Quinn notes that Young regarded Smith's death at Carthage as having been avoidable, blaming it on Smith's failure to follow God:
"Brigham Young explained in a published sermon that Smith's martyrdom at Carthage, Illinois, was unnecessary:
"[Quoting Young]: 'If Joseph Smith, Jr., the Prophet, had followed the Spirit of revelation in him, he never would have gone to Carthage . . . and never for one moment did he say that he had one particle of light in him after he started back . . . to give himself up in Nauvoo. This he did through the persuasion of others. I want you to understand that . . . . But if Joseph had followed the revelations in him he would have followed the shepherd instead of the shepherd's following the sheep.'"
Quinn adds that such "accounts . . . claim that Smith lost the spirit of God during the last days of his life."
(D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1994], pp. 145-47; see also: "The Mormon Temple As a Lasting Relic of Polygamy," at: http://www.i4m.com/think/temples/temple_legacy.htm
; and "Joseph Smith--the Work and the Glory," at:http://www.i4m.com/think/history/fallen_prophet.htm
--Mormon Spin on Why Joseph Smith Showed Up at Carthage Minus His Protective Underwear: The Weather Was Too Hot
As some promoters of Mormon "art" attempt to explain the dilemma facing the to-wear-or-not-to-wear Smith:
" . . . [T]he fact [is] that Joseph Smith (as well as Hyrum and John Taylor) did not wear temple garments under his clothes while in Carthage Jail. The reason for this choice was debated by some of the highest authorities of the Church in the aftermath of the murders, as reflected in a journal entry describing a general priesthood meeting, over which Heber C. Kimball presided, held on December 21, 1845:
"'Elder John Taylor confirmed the saying that Joseph and Hyrum and himself were without their robes in the jail at Carthage, while Doctor Richards had his on, but corrected the idea that some had, that they had taken them off through fear. W. W. Phelps said Joseph told him one day about that time, that he had laid aside his garment on account of the hot weather.
"'Elder [Heber C.] Kimball said word came to him and to all the Twelve about that time to lay aside their garments, and take them to pieces, or cut them up so that they could not be found.'"
("Carthage Jail," under "Images of the Restoration," at: http://www.imagesoftherestoration.org/blog/?p=12
--In Reality, a Guilt-Ridden, Death-Fearin' Joseph Smith Abandoned His Not-So-Magic Garments Because He Finally Abandoned His Poisonous Doctrine of Polygamy
Smith could see the writing on the wall and tried to cover his godlessly-garmentless backside by turning his back on the "divine" doctrine of polygamy itself.
A desperate Smith not only eventually and ostensibly abandoned his devotion to polygamy, he went so far as to ash-can the original copy of his polygamy "revelation." To be sure, Smith not only ended up disavowing polygamy (at least privately), he sought to destroy all evidence of it that he could (at least that which was committed to paper).
For a sex fiend like Smith, that must have been quite the sacrifice.
Commenting on Smith's last days alive, Quinn writes:
"Smith was, in fact, willing to destroy the original manuscript of the 1843 polygamy revelation. Based on 'many (some of whom are now living)' in Utah, Joseph F. Smith wrote that the prophet [Joseph Smith] 'consented for her [Emma Smith] to burn the paper containing the original copy of the revelation.' An obscure 1853 publication also reported that the original text of the polygamy revelation 'by Joseph Smith's command was burned.'"
(Quinn, "Origins of Power," p. 147)
In his frenzy to sweep evidence of polygamy under the rug and out of sight in order to save his own skin, Smith admitted to his anti-multi-wifery wife Emma that plural marriage was going to destroy the Mormon Church if it was not abandoned.
"In her only post-1844 admission of her husband's polygamous arrangements, Emma Smith remembered that the prophet did more than consent to the revelation's destruction. She told William E. McLellin in 1847 that it was Smith himself, not she, who burned the original manuscript of the revelation. According to her 1847 account, while alone in their Mansion House bedroom, Smith 'told her that the doctrine and practice of polygamy was going to ruin the church' and then he burned the revelation. . . .
"[William] Clayton's diary shows just before the prophet returned to Emma [that night], he told his secretary to burn the Council of Fifty's minutes. It makes sense that while he was alone with her the night of 23 June 1844, only hours before surrendering for trial, he directed his attention to destroying the written evidence of polygamy."
Of Smith's realization that polygamy was Mormonism's most threatening enemy, Quinn further notes:
"Emma Smith remembered that the prophet did more than consent to the revelation's destruction. According to her 1847 account, while alone in their Mansion House bedroom, Smith 'told her that the doctrine and practice of polygamy was going to ruin the church' and then he burned the revelation. Clayton's diary shows just before the prophet returned to Emma [that night], he told his secretary to burn the Council of Fifty's minutes. It makes sense that while he was alone with her the night of 23 June 1844, only hours before surrendering for trial, he directed his attention to destroying the written evidence of polygamy."
(ibid., p. 147)
--Joseph Smith Not Only Got Rid of His Own Garments, He Told Elements of His High Command to Lose Theirs, Too
"In the last days of his life, Smith seemed ready to turn his back on all the secret developments of Nauvoo and abandon what he had taught as sacred for years. . . .
"Smith had . . . given orders for members of the Quorum of the Anointed at Nauvoo to destroy their endowment 'garments.' Levi Richards had entered the Anointed Quorum in December 1843. His wife reminisced that the mob asked William Law to describe the endowment garments and robes. 'The order came that in every habitation where any of the endowment clothes were found, [it] would [mean] death,' she wrote. Therefore, the members of the Anointed Quorum began 'to tear to pieces the garments, etc.' . . .
"But Smith's orders for destruction of the garments extend beyond Law's threat in Illinois. Heber C. Kimball said Smith sent word to the apostles on the East coast to destroy their garments they had received in the endowment since 1842."
Quinn adds that while "[Smith's] willingness to destroy the endowment garment and the minutes of the Council of Fifty was not necessarily his abandoment of the endowment and Council of Fifty[,] . . . his instructions allow such a conclusion."
(ibid., pp. 145-46)
--The Garment Noose Tightens
Smith was desperate to save himself and was therefore doing all he could in his prophetless power to shed rather than end up dead.
Hence, the underwear tossing.
Besides the claim of Brigham Young and Joseph F. Smith that Joseph Smith discarded his garments as personal penance for polygamy, several of his closest cohorts noted for the record that Smith had come to criticize polygamy and to rue the day he started doing it.
Abandon one "divine" doctrine and you're sure to abandon others. Indeed, that's the history of Mormonism in a nutshell.
Author Eric N. Davis, in his book, "House of Cards: One Man's Journey Through the World of Mormonism, Magic and Murders," lays out why Smith decided to take his chances and lay aside his garments--even though one of his fellow jail buddies decided, when push came to shove, to leave his own on:
" . . . [T]he miraculous tale of Willard Richards escaping [death at Carthage] without so much as 'a hole in his robe' is simply Mormon propaganda for the use of temple garments. According to a few early accounts of the martyrdom, prior to their incarceration at Carthage, Smith was regretting his 'commandment' of polygamy in the Church, and felt unworthy of his temple covenants. He removed his garments, and asked all of his cellmates to do the same. Willard Richards was supposedly the only one who refused to comply with Smith's request. Then as a result of Richards wearing his garments, he was providentially saved from injury in the attack. This story was later repeated by several Church leaders, including Heber J. Grant in 1907, and is the basis for the 'magic underwear' myth.
"In reality, although Richards was indeed unharmed, several shots did tear through his clothing. Two things spared willard Richards from injury, and neither of them had anything to do with a miracle. First, the mob wasn't conerned with Richards. They wanted Joseph and Hyrum. Richards was just an accessory to Mormonism. Second, Richards was standing behind the door throughout the entire gunfight, and was never caught in the middle of the crossfire. It was only a few stray bullets that managed to reach his clothing."
(Eric N. Davis, "House of Cards: One Man's Faith Through the World of Mormonism, Magic and Murders" [Bloomington, Indiana: Author House, 2010], p. 294, at: http://books.google.com/books?id=FyG7vA8p9n8C&pg=PA294&lpg=PA294&dq=jonrcarver+unharmed&source=bl&ots=OSLGtjJYLr&sig=JB56NCtvnJ7v39KnabR1QsPl3l8&hl=en&ei=6zcdTqeQJeiy0AG0_PXCBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=jonrcarver%20unharmed&f=false
Ironically, it was not until a garment-free Joseph Smith got blown away at Carthage that Mormons started believing in the supposed magical protective power of their temple underwear--thanks to garment-garbed Willard Richards' survival. Until Smith ate lead, Mormons didn't believe garments could physically save them from harm:
"Garments were not originally believed to provide any physicial protection. However, this idea came about by the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in the jail at Carthage, Illinois. Neither Joseph, Hyrum, nor John Taylor had been wearing their garments. Willard Richards, who had been wearing his garments, escaped unscathed in the attack."
("Mormon Underwear Garments," at: http://www.i4m.com/think/temples/mormon-garments.htm
As one observer summed it up:
". . . Joseph went to Carthage without any garments on [and got himself killed] . . . .
"D&C 134:2 . . . explains that Richards went [away] unharmed." [Quinn describes that scriptural passage as a 'tribute to the preservation of Willard Richards during the attack on Carthage Jail'}.
"This is where the rumor started that the garments SUPPOSEDLY protect you from physical harm, too, though this is simply a traditional myth founded upon the true story of Willard Richards being the only one unharmed and superstitiously attributed to his being the only one who rebelled against the prophet's command and wore his garments anyway.
"Moral of the story of Willard Richards: Apparently we believe that God will sometimes reward us for disobeying the prophet."
("Joseph Smith Ordered Destruction of the Garments (& How the 'Magic Underwear' Myth Began," original emphasis; and Quinn, "Origins of Power," p. 146)
--Joseph Smith Destroys the Garment Myth
Try as hard as Joseph Smith tried to rid himself of his Mormon secret underwear in order to save his own hide, in the end he still took it in the shorts.
"Is there no help for the ungarmented son?"
Edited 9 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2013 12:30AM by steve benson.