180 years ago today - Jun 22, 1844

Joseph sends a letter to Gov. Ford containing all the affidavits showing the Saints' side of the conflict. The Nauvoo Legion continues to prepare to defend Nauvoo, digging ditches, pitching tents, and setting up camp. Late the night before, John Taylor and Dr. John M. Bernhisel had gone to Carthage to meet with Ford, and had spent a terrified night, as the town was full of anti-Mormon rejoicing and celebration. Early on the morning of June 22, Taylor and Bernhisel meet with Ford, but find him surrounded by William and Wilson Law, the Higbees, the Fosters, etc. Whenever Taylor or Bernhisel try to explain their side of the Expositor story, they are immediately contradicted, and communication is almost totally blocked.

After a five-hour wait, they receive a letter from Gov. Ford to take to Joseph Smith. It states that Joseph has committed one illegality after another and should plan to come to Carthage at once. Ford says, "I will also guarantee the safety of all such persons asmay thus be brought to this place from Nauvoo either for trial or as witnesses for the accused." Joseph begins to write a reply to Ford, having decided that only the United States president, John Tyler, could truly decide the legality in a matter like this. He ends his letter to Ford with the statement, "We again say, if anything wrong has been done on our part, and we know of nothing, we will make all things right if the Government will give us the opportunity. Disperse the mob, and secure to us our constitutional privileges, that our lives may not be endangered when on trial."

However, the more Joseph thinks about Ford's reply, the more he realizes, "There is no mercy—no mercy here." Hyrum adds, "No; just as sure as we fall into their hands we are dead men."Unsure of what to do, Joseph gets a sudden idea. "It is clear to my mind what to do. All they want is Hyrum and myself. . . . Let them search; they will not harm you in person or property, and not even a hair of your head. We will cross the river tonight, and go away to the West."

Joseph prepares to cross the river, and as his final recorded quote in his personal life's record, he writes, "I told Stephen Markham that if I and Hyrum were ever taken again we should be massacred, or I was not a prophet of God. I want Hyrum to live to avenge my blood, but he is determined not to leave me." The Prophet prepares to flee to the West, and to put his and Hyrum's families on the Maid of Iowa. Joseph, Hyrum, and Willard Richards wait on the banks of the Mississippi and as they do, they instruct W. W. Phelps to take their families to Cincinnati, and from there to petition the president of the United States. At midnight, Joseph, Hyrum, Willard Richards, and Orrin Porter Rockwell get in the boat, and at 2 A.M. Rockwell rows them across the Mississippi in a leaky skiff. Hyrum and Joseph bail water all the way.

[Conkling, Christopher J., Joseph Smith Chronology]

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