Today is the 166th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Despite his promises of protection and a fair trial, Governor Ford allowed the Smiths to be imprisoned by their enemies without bail and without a hearing on a wholly new charge of treason for having declared martial law in Nauvoo. Stating that he had to "satisfy the people," the Governor ignored clear warnings of danger and disbanded most of the troops. He then left the hostile Carthage Greys to guard the jail and took the most dependable troops with him to Nauvoo.
During the governor's absence, a mob of between one hundred and two hundred armed men—many of them from the disbanded Warsaw militia—gathered in late afternoon, blackened their faces with mud and gunpowder, and then stormed the jail. In less than two minutes, they overcame feigned resistance from the Greys, rushed upstairs, and fired through the closed door. Hyrum, shot first, died instantly. John Taylor, an apostle, tried to escape out a window and was shot five times, but survived to later become the Church's third President. Only Willard Richards, another apostle, survived unharmed. Trying to go out the window to deflect attention from the two survivors inside, Joseph Smith was hit in the chest and collarbone with two shots from the open doorway and two more from outside the window. His final words as he fell to the ground outside the jail were, "O Lord, my God!" As rumors spread that the Mormons were coming, the mob dispersed.
Our Stake President spoke a great deal about Joseph Smith and this story at our meeting today. I have been doing a lot of thinking about our beloved Prophet and how I would like to be like him. I believe every Prophet since Joseph Smith (and probably prior to him) have been perfect examples to us in how we should live, behave, and treat others. Joseph Smith loved everyone and exemplified Christ in all things. He knew that he was going to die that night. He knew who those men were after and he tried to save the others who were with him. Even in those last few moments of his life, he was thinking of others before himself.