Letter: William Smith to President Brigham Young:
President Young:'-- I feel that my life is in danger, news has come to me that certain men are forming a conspiracy to put me out of the way in this city. I am not safe in the hands of the Police that will insult me to my face and draw their canes over my head. I claim protection from your hands ... some have turned against me, because I had the audacity to get married. I also took upon me to advise the Hodges [murdered two days earlier] to leave Nauvoo and never return ... I volunteered my council to Bro. Tuft who appeared to be taking an active part in getting rid of these men'--Tuft said he did not care a damn for what I said and further insulted me; he had his council from others and should follow it &c. &c., charging me falsely, I would not bear it, took him by the collar; he drew his cane. I do not believe it is your council to Police to run over me. Since this time this man Tufts is surrounded by groups of men threatening me, and I am not safe Bro. Young, and something must be done. I will not risk my life in the hands of such men, they must either give me satisfaction or quit the Police, for to be murdered in cold blood in my bed, cut to pieces .... The deacons that pass my house nightly say in the streets that it is in more harm to raise a cane over an apostle's head and beat him for a crime &c. &c., men came to me last evening and said Bro. Smith your life is in danger, take care of yourself ... '
Our mind [the Twelve] was that the Policeman was doing his duty, and Bro. Wm. Smith was in the wrong; and his life was not in jeopardy. ... we appointed a meeting of the Twelve and the Police in the Masonic Hall in the evening and that things might be overruled by the spirit of the Lord, we appointed a meeting of the Quorum of the Priesthood at which however few but the Twelve were present; we there prayed for William that God would overrule every evil principle; that his violent spirit might be curbed by the spirit of God... He was invited by President Brigham Young to speak and make a statement of his feelings.
'He arose and made some explanations in regard to the course he had taken to counsel the Police, to let a Prisoner who was in their custody go, who was one of the brothers of the Hodges condemned for murder, [and who we had every reason to believe was implicated in the same thing.] He furthermore stated he had some altercation with Brother Tufts, one of the Police, who he had heretofore considered as a good brother, and did now; that a scuffle had ensued, wherein he attempted to strike Tufts ... for if the people here did not want him, he would go away ... that he was one of the last remnants of the Smith family to whom the priesthood had come; and that if he went away, he would take along with him, his sister, his mother, and the last remains of the family; and that where he and they went, there the priesthood, authority, and the Church would be; he made many other remarks of an unpleasant nature.'
'Elder Young arose and said ... that he did not receive his priesthood from William Smith but from his brother, and he understood the power of that priesthood; neither is this Church indebted to William Smith for the priesthood; ... As William Smith says that if he goes away from here and takes his Father's family along, the priesthood and authority would go. I say it will not go the priesthood and authority is in the church and cannot be taken from it without transgression. ... William Smith had no right to counsel those men to let the Hodges go...
We could live in peace here before William Smith came; and since he came there has been the devil to pay; he has been throwing out hints all the time, that the presidency belonged to him, producing discord. I have reason to believe, and before we get through with this matter, think I can prove, that he told General Deming that I was the instigator of that murder (Hodges) I will not stand such things...
Brother William arose and seemed to be humbled ... 'Brother Brigham had misunderstood him; he did not mean that he would take the priesthood away with him; but that he would take his family away; and that he had not said, that he had a right to the presidency;'-- but that he always said that Brother Brigham was the head of the church; and that he did not wish any of the Police to be dismissed, he only wished to know if he would be safe.' Brother Brigham said, if that was all that was wanted it could be soon done.
He did not wish to harrow up any person's feelings; and this investigation would not be necessary. He called upon the Police to know if they would stand by brother William, and support him. They all answered, 'yes'. He then called upon Brother William to know if he would support the Police.
He answered, 'yes.'
['The John Taylor Nauvoo journal, January 1845-September 1845,' BYU Studies 23:3 (1983) edited by Dean C. Jessee]