On several occasions during his time in Nauvoo, Joseph smith told the Saints the feared for his life, and also he functioned to prepare the Church to proceed in his absence.1 In the spring of 1844, he confronted mounting the opposite both among dissident Latter-day Saints and also opponents of the Church in the region. In early on June 1844, dissidents released a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor, which attacked Joseph Smith’s character and criticized specific doctrines and also practices of the Church. Acting on their expertise of the law and also fearing that the paper could lug increased persecution come the Church, Joseph blacksmith (as market of Nauvoo) and also the city council considered the paper a public nuisance and also ordered the press’s destruction.2 virtually immediately, opponents of the Church released calls because that Joseph’s arrest and for more violence versus the Saints. Joseph and his brothers Hyrum contemplated escaping and also even crossed the Mississippi River, but they decided to send to arrest on fees relating come the devastation of the press.3

Joseph and Hyrum reported to Carthage, Illinois, where they were further charged through treason and placed in custody pending a trial. Governor thomas Ford had actually promised lock protection, however they feel uneasy being jailed in a hostile town. While wait in the maximum ground room the the jailhouse, Joseph, Hyrum, Willard Richards, and John Taylor learned the book of Mormon, sang hymns, and also spoke indigenous of blessing to visitors. Top top June 27, Joseph dictated a letter come his wife Emma in which that expressed his love because that his family and also his thoughts on the comes trial. “I am an extremely much resigned to my lot,” he wrote, “knowing i am Justified and have done the best that can be done. Give my love come the children and also all my Friends.”4

Late that afternoon, an equipped mob charged the prison, rushed increase the stairs, and also fired shots into the room whereby Joseph and also his companions to be being held. Hyrum was shot and also killed practically immediately. Joseph rushed come the window, to be shot in the chest and the back, and also fell to the soil below, whereby he was most likely shot again. John Taylor to be shot four times however survived.5 only Willard Richards arised unscathed.

You are watching: How old was joseph smith when he died


Painting illustrating the moments leading up to Joseph Smith’s killing in Carthage Jail.

After the murders, Joseph and Hyrum Smith’s bodies were pushed to Nauvoo in two open up wagons. The bodies were cleaned and examined, and death masks to be made to preserve their facial features. A publicly viewing, attended by around 10,000 people, was organized at the Mansion House. Fearing that enemies could desecrate the bodies, mourners filled coffins v sandbags for a public burial. The bodies to be initially hidden under the loose Nauvoo House, climate months later were disinterred and also reburied under one outbuilding on the blacksmith homestead.6

John Taylor and also Willard Richards listed firsthand accounts of the murders, including entries Richards make in his journal while in Carthage Jail.7 The Nauvoo Neighbor and also Times and also Seasons released an notice of the deaths and also a eulogy because that Joseph and also Hyrum, i beg your pardon was later canonized in the Doctrine and also Covenants.8 william Daniels, a member of the mob who observed events from outside the jail and also who later joined the Church, likewise recorded his perspective.9 A detailed account created in 1856 by john Taylor was supplied by Church historians in translate into Joseph Smith’s main history.10 In this accounts, Joseph and also Hyrum to be hailed as martyrs for the cause of the revitalized Church.

Many others left accounts of hear news of the deaths, angry the grief that widows Emma Smith and also Mary Fielding Smith, and also mourning because that the lose of the Prophet and Patriarch. “I witnessed the lifeless corpses of ours beloved brethren once they were lugged to their virtually distracted families,” created Vilate Kimball in a letter to her husband, Heber. “I saw their tears and also groans, i m sorry was enough to rend the love of an adamant. Every brother and also sister that observed the scene felt deeply to sympathize with them. Yea, every heart is filled through sorrow, and the really streets of Nauvoo seem to mourn.”11

Five males were indicted for the murders and stood psychological in Carthage in may 1845. Church members were encouraged not come testify or to visit the trial out of concern that the justice mechanism was stacked versus them and in are afraid of provoking further violence. Without Mormon witnesses, the prosecuting attorney can present tiny credible testimony, and he dismissed every the crucial evidence, top the jury to acquit all five men. This has led some scholars to view it as a sham trial.12 stories circulated among Latter-day Saints about the purported fates of those connected in the murders. Scholars have actually researched their lives and established that these story of divine retribution to be folklore and also not history.13

Joseph Smith’s fatality left the Church without a leader because that the first time because its starting in 1830, and Hyrum’s death eliminated one potential avenue for succession. In the months adhering to the martyrdom of the Prophet and Patriarch, the vast majority of Church members sustained the leadership of the Quorum the the Twelve.14

Church Resources

Jeffrey Mahas, “Remembering the Martyrdom: D&C 135,” in Matthew McBride and James Goldberg, eds., Revelations in Context: The story behind the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake City: The Church the Jesus Christ the Latter-day Saints, 2016), 299–306.

Ronald K. Esplin, “God Will defend Me till My work Is Done,” Ensign, Aug. 1989, 16–21.

Reed Blake, “Martyrdom at Carthage,” Ensign, June 1994, 30–39.

“Carthage Jail: Carthage, Illinois,” history.lds.org.


The following publications administer further information about this topic. By introduce or linking you to these resources, we do not endorse or insurance the contents or the views of the authors.

Dallin H. Oaks and also Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy: The attempt of the Accused Assassins that Joseph blacksmith (Urbana: university of Illinois Press, 1975).

Dean C. Jessee, “Return come Carthage: composing the history of Joseph Smith’s Martyrdom,” journal of Mormon History, vol. 8, no. 1 (1981), 3–19.

Related Topics: Nauvoo Expositor, disagreement in the Church


For example, top top April 28, 1842, Joseph smith told the Nauvoo Relief society that he would certainly not be long with them. Nauvoo Relief Society, minutes, Apr. 28, 1842, 36, Church background Library, Salt Lake City; Jill Mulvay Derr, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, Matthew J. Grow, eds., The very first Fifty Years: key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s background (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2016), 56.

Joseph blacksmith letter to Emma Smith, June 27, 1844, in Joseph blacksmith Collection, Church history Library, Salt Lake City.

Early account state Taylor was shot 5 times, one shot gift deflected by his pocket watch. Later evaluation suggests the watch would have all yet disintegrated if win by a bullet and also that the damage to the watch face likely occurred when Taylor fell down on the windowsill, resulting in the watch pin to pierce the confront from the inside. See Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo: A place of Peace, a civilization of Promise (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), 397.

Oliver Boardman Huntington journal, Mar. 8, 1897, book 18, 62, L. Tom Perry special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; see additionally Curtis G. Weber, “Skulls and also Crossed Bones?: A Forensic study of the continues to be of Hyrum and Joseph Smith,” Mormon historic Studies, vol. 10, no. 2 (2009), 1.

Lyman Littlefield released Daniels’s account together a pamphlet: Lyman O. Littlefield, A exactly Account of the murder of Generals Joseph and also Hyrum blacksmith at Carthage, on the 27th Day that June, 1844, through William M. Daniels, an Eye angry (Nauvoo, Illinois: john Taylor, 1845). For an example of another early account, check out William Clayton, “Council of Fifty Minutes,” Feb. 27, 1845, in Matthew J. Grow, Ronald K. Esplin, note Ashurst-McGee, Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, and Jeffrey D. Mahas, eds., governmental Records: the supervisory board of Fifty, Minutes, march 1844–January 1846. Vol. 1 the the governmental Records series of The Joseph blacksmith Papers, edited through Ronald K. Esplin, Matthew J. Grow, and also Matthew C. Godfrey (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2016), 190–204.

Ronald K. Esplin, “Life in Nauvoo, June 1844: Vilate Kimball’s Martyrdom Letters,” BYU Studies, vol. 19, no. 2 (1979), 231–40; spelling and also punctuation standardized.

See more: How Much Is Skydiving In New York City, Ny, Skydiving In And Near New York City, Ny

Dallin H. Oaks and also Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy: The psychological of the Accused Assassins that Joseph blacksmith (Urbana: college of Illinois Press, 1975); Marvin S. Hill, “Carthage Conspiracy Reconsidered: A second Look in ~ the killing of Joseph and also Hyrum Smith,” newspaper of the Illinois State historical Society, vol. 97, no. 2 (Summer 2004), 107–34.