Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lyndon W. Cook on William Law's Diary

The Diary

  • Jan 1st: he had considered plural marriage, but God enlightened and saved him (p.37)
  • Jan 2nd: Law was under suspicion of being a traitor (p.38f), and Hyrum plans to raise the issue at tomorrow's Council meeting
  • Jan 3rd: Called before council (p.41) to investigate accusation (HC 6:162-165), Joseph and Hyrum Smith vouch for character of William and Wilson Law
  • Jan 4th: new rumors lead to new confrontation with JSJr: "It produced an indignation in my heart, that I could not control, to find the major of the City, threaten two innocent men [Law and Marcks], with forty armed poliece [sic!], because they complained to him of threats having been made by them, against their lives" (p.42).
  • Jan 5th: Another council meeting over accusations and worries (see HC 6:166-170), where after clearing the Law brothers, Joseph Smith Jr insinuates against Francis Marion Higbee (p.45) for no good reason as far as Law can tell (p.46)
  • Jan 8th: Joseph Smith Jr stops Law to tell him of having been dropped from the First Presidency on Jan 7th, 1844, and that he wants Law and his wife and his brother to stop speaking ill of him (p.46); Law is angry at the illegal proceedings for removing him as called by revelation and twice confirmed by general Conference, but also relieved to be rid of the association since "I cannot fellowship the abominations which I verily know are practiced by this man" (p.46)
  • {{after the January 8th entry, there is brief on on January 13th, with Law suffering about the changed situation in the church, and then nothing until March 29th}}
  • {{Cook reports, (p.47 Fn 21) that by March 24th, Joseph Smith Jr was publicly stating that Wilson and William Law were in a conspiracy with Chancy Higby, Dr Foster and Dr Jackson to take the life of Smith and his entire family}}
  • By March 29th, Law was suffering under the slander that the Prophet was circulating regarding him and his wife Jane (p.47); Hyrum came to visit (p.48) to re-establish their good relationship, but the insistence on plural marriage continued to separate them.
  • Cook points out (p.73 Fn 47) that Wilson Law's wife, Elizabeth F. Sikes, died in Nauvoo on March 31st, 1844; interestingly this finds no reflection in the diary!
  • On Apr 15, Law wrote against the King Follet Discourse and its "blasphemous doctrines": "Such as a plurality of Gods, other gods as far above our God as he is above us. That he wrought out his salvation in the flesh with fear and trembling, the same as we do; that Joseph Smith is a god to this generation," (p.49) and many more such issues. But Hyrum spoke for the Laws (CH 6:299) (p.49), esp. about the mill: "There has been a great deal of bickering about the Messrs Laws Steam Mill --- it has been a great benefit to this City --- it has advanced the benefit of the City --- it has brought in thousands who would not have come here but as they saw that the Mormons had no horns they have got a good by it" (pp.49f Fn 26)  And after the conference, Almon Babbitt came to reconcile Law with Smith Jr, but Law refused as long as Smith Jr would not recant his abomination (p.50).
  • April 19 Law learned from William Marks (p.50) that Dr Foster [English physician and land speculator, RCK], as well as he and his wife, had been cut off from the Church (p.51). 
  • April 21, Law complained that Brigham Young had violated D&C 107:23,35 in presiding over this Stake, as his power was limited to his Quorum (p.51)
  • April 22, Law asked Williard Richards for a transcript, but there was no record, which Law also saw as Illegal (p.52)
  • May 13 Sidney Rigdon came and offered restitution for Forster, William & Wilson & Jane Law (p.52), but the Laws denied the legality of their cutting off (p.53), which Rigdon admitted; but for reconciliation they demanded recanting of plurality of marriage, and this Rigdon could not offer (p.53);   
  • in footnote 36, Cook reports that Wilson Law, who was a Major General in the Nauvoo Legion, was dishonorably discharged from the Nauvoo Legion, to be court-martialed for ungentlemenly and unofficer-like conduct (p.52)
  • in footnote 41, Cook gives the details of the counter-Church that Law had started, with 300 attending their first service on May 12th 1844, where Elder Blakeslee preached against plural marriage (p.54)
  • in footnote 42, Cook gives the details of the mud slinging and accusation of sexual impropriety between Law and Smith Jr, involving an orphaned teenage girl in Law's case and Maria Lawrence in the case of Smith Jr (p.54);
  • June 7th, the Nauvoo expositor, already expected by its enemies according to the June 1st entry, came forth from the press (p.55); 
  • June 10th the Laws were invited to Carthage by "twenty five of the most respectable citizens in Carthage vicinity" (p.55) to give a discourse on the subject of Nauvoo legislation, which the Laws used to warn against mob-rule and patience in the reach of the law (p.55); upon return home (p.56) the Laws find the press destroyed by Marshall J.P. Green on the Mayor's orders
  • June 12 "This day myself, my wife and children (three) [i.e. Richard, Thomas, William Jr, cf. (p.56 Fn 48), RCK], Wilson Law, R. D. Foster, wife and child and two other families leave Nauvoo, on a steamboat for Burlington, Iowa. My brother and I had nine horses, three waggons [sic!] & two || carriages & most of our furniture, much of which could not be got under cover, and we had rain nearly all the time going up; lay over one night on the way because of darkness." (pp.56f)
  • June 13th: in Burlington they put their things in storage, but failed to find any reasonable rent
  • June 14th: Mrs Law, with Dr Foster's help, gave birth to John Law; "This afternoon we obtained ten rooms in the National Hotel, at $26 per month, and commence moving our effects into them." (p.57)
  • June 15th: "Continue to fit up our rooms and to dry our goods which were wet." (p.57)
  • June 16th: Austin Cowles and family join them, escaping "from that worse than Sodom" (p.57)
  • In Footnote 50, Cook reports that Austin Cowles, counselor of William Marks, had already resigned on September 23, 1843 "over the secret practice of plural marriage and provided William Law an affidavit summarizing the 1843 High Council meeting where Hyrum Smith instructed relative to having multiple wives" (p.57)
  • June 17th: Elder Blakeslee [who had preached (p.54) against plural marriage, RCK] joined them; Mrs Law is able to move about (p.58); Wilson and R.D.Foster go to Carthage (p.59) but William needs to stay with his family for a few days (p.59)
  • June 19th: An address regarding Nauvoo produces no results, leading Law to call "the Burlingtonian a mean, heartless set at best" (p.59).
  • June 20th: The expats learn that Nauvoo is under Martial Law and that a large army is gathering in Carthage to oppose the Mormons.
  • June 25th: Law visited Carthage, spoke to Governor Ford and Justice of the Peace Robert F. Smith, learning that the Smiths were awaiting their trial the next day (p.59)
  • June 26th: The Smiths please continuance for two days, which is granted (p.60)
  • June 27th: Army is disbanded, two companies remain, one to guard jail, 8 men at a time; Wilson & Foster and William return, expecting to give testimony next week, to Burlington, via Appanose, where they traded their horses for a steamboat and continued to Ft Madison, but could get no boat. Next morning the death of the Smiths makes the round, and they are astonished. "We could hardly believe it possible, and the manner of it was the most astonishing part of all, but it was true; the judgement of an offended God had fallen upon them. During the latter part of their lives they knew no mercy, and in their last moments they found none." (p.60)
William Law ended his diary with this damning character assessment of Joseph Smith Jr, and interestingly enough, also of his wife Emma.
One of Joe Smith's weakest points was his jealousy of other men. He could not bear to hear other men spoken well of. If there was any praise it must be of him; all adoration & worship must be for him. He would destroy his best friend rather than see him become popular in the eyes of the Church or the people at large. His vanity knew no bounds. He was unscrupulous; no man's life was safe if he was disposed to hate him. He sat the laws of God and men at defiance. He was naturally base, brutish and corrupt and cruel. He was one of the false prophets spoken of by Christ who would come in sheep's || clothing but inwardly be a ravelling wolf. He works proved it. One great aim seemed to be to demoralize the world, to give it over to Satan, his master; but God stopped him in his mad career & gave him to his destroyers. He claimed to be a god, whereas he was only a servant of the Devil, and as such met his fate. His wife was about as corrupt as he was. (pp.60-61)

Bibliographical Record

Lyndon W. Cook, William Law: Biographical Essay -- Nauvoo Diary -- Correspondence -- Interview, Orem, UT (Grandin Book Company), 1994.

No comments:

Post a Comment