January 2, 2024

When Missouri Mob Tried to Kill Joseph Smith

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Missouri was a dark time in the History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The persecution agains the Latter-day Saints was extreme and their prophet captured and taken to jail. The lessons learned through the hardships should never be forgotten. There were many events that took place before Joseph and the other leaders were taken to the Liberty Jail. The process of getting Joseph Smith and the others to jail is when Jospeh found out who were his real friends, and those who were willing to betray him.

Betraying Joseph Smith

During the days of Missouri, it became clear quickly who was in support of the Prophet Joseph Smith and who was not. One of the worst betrayers in the History of the Church was a man named George M. Hinkle. He was the highest ranking officer of the Mormon militia, a trusted friend of the prophet Joseph Smith. The leaders of the Church trusted that Colonel Hinkle would negotiate a truce, with the fights with the Missouri Mob. Hinkle he did not follow through on his promises. Not only did Hinkle not negotiate a truce, but he was intending for the mob to kill Joseph and the other leaders. Records of Colonel Hinkles secret concessions with the enemy show they agreed “to give up their [the Church’s] leaders to be tried and punished.”

Colonel Hinkle denied in aiding the Missouri Mob men but Joseph Smith recorded “towards evening I was waited upon by Colonel Hinkle, who stated that the officers of the militia desired to have an interview with me and some others, hoping that the difficulties might be settled without having occasion to carry into effect the extermination orders.” This interview was truly a ploy to lure the Latter-day Saint leaders beyond the safety of Far West into the hands of the Missouri mob.

The news of the capture of Joseph Smith spread, and the soldiers that helped imprison Joseph and the others leaders, acted like lawless mob. It was recorded that the mob acted as “so many bloodhounds let loose upon their prey. . . if the vision of the infernal regions could suddenly open to the mind, with thousands of malicious fiends, all clamoring. . . raging and foaming like a troubled sea, then could some idea be formed of the hell which we had entered.”

”[We] could distinctly hear their horrid yellings” wrote Mother Smith of that late October night in 1838. Not knowing the cause, we supposed they were murdering [Joseph].” Father Smith sobbed, “Oh, my God! My God! They have killed my son! They have murdered him! And I must die, for I cannot live without him!” He then “fell back upon [the bed] helpless as a child.”

During this time, the militia mocked and tormented the prophet and the other leader of the Church. Saying things like “come Mr. Smith, show us an angel.” “Give us one of your revelations.” “Show us a miracle” “Or if you are Apostles of men of God, deliver yourselves, and then we will be Mormons.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith and the other leaders of the Church were silent to the mockery of the lawless officials. The men called of God had to wait their fate, in a lawless court. There were fourteen officers, twenty local ministers, judges, who demanded the prisoners life be terminated. Only one man, Alexander Doniphan stood up for the wrongly accused prisoners. Doniphan defended Joseph Smith and the other Church leaders, but with no success.

In a military directive to Doniphan, Lucas ordered:

Sir:”You will take Joseph Smith and the other prisoners into the public square of Far West, and shoot them at 9 o’clock to-morrow morning.” Samuel D. Lucas Major-General Commanding.

Doniphan, the only man willing to stand up for the injustices being wrought against the Prophet Joseph and his fellow Church leaders, would not agree with the Major's order to kill these men without a trial and due process.

Doniphan responded:

”It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty tomorrow morning, at 8 o’clock; and if you execute these men, I will hold your responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God.” A.W. Doniphan Brigadier- General

Doniphan went on to defend these men privately to General Lucas saying “You hurt one of these men if you dare and I will hold you personally responsible for it, and at some other time you and I will meet again when in mortal combat and we will see who is the better man.”

Joseph Smith and the others were not killed that day, thanks to one man standing up for what is right. Alexander Doniphan became a good friend of Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith even named one of his son's after Alexander Doniphan.

Joseph and his friends were brought to Richmond Jail, and this is where the famous story of “Rebuking of the Guards” took place, then on to Liberty Jail.


“Joseph, Exploring the Life and Ministry of the Prophet” Black and Skinner P.296-298

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