Mormon History

Attempted Assassination of Former Missouri Governor - 1842

Daily Missouri Republican May 12, 1842

A FOUL DEED. -- By the steamboat Thames, we learn that Liliburn W. Boggs, late Governor of this State, was most basely shot on the night of the 6th inst. at Independence, in this State. Gov. Boggs' residence was, we believe, in the suburb or edge of the town. The Clerk of the Thames has furnished us with the following statement of the particulars:

Gov. Boggs was shot by an assassin on Friday 6th inst., in the evening, while reading in a room in his own house, in Independence, Mo.

His son, a boy, hearing a report, ran into the room, and found the Governor sitting in his chair, with his jaw fallen down, and his head leant back; and on discovering the injury done his father, gave the alarm.

Foot tracks were found in the garden, below the window, and a pistol picked up, supposed to have been overloaded, and thrown from the hand of the scroundrel who fired it. Three buck shot, of a heavy load, took effect; one going through his mouth, one into the brain, and another probably in or near the brain, all going into the back part of the head and neck.

The Gov. was alive on the morning of the 8th, but no hopes of recovery by his friends, and but slight hopes from his physicians.

A man was suspected, and the Sheriff most probably has possession of him by this time.

The pistol was one of a pair stolen some days previous from a baker in Independence, and the legal authorities have the description of the other.

In addition to the foregoing, we have the following from the Governor's brother-in-law, who resides in Independence.

 

The Warsaw Signal July 9, 1842

NAUVOO.

We understand that the very mischief is brewing in Nauvoo, since the threatening of Bennett to expose the villainy of Joe and his satellites. Several of Joe's right hand men, among them, one of the Pratts, G. W. Robinson, and Sidney Rigdon, have left the church and joined Bennett's party.

One disclosure particularly will prove interesting -- and that is in relation to Bogg's murder. -- Bennett states that a Mr. Rockwell started suddenly from Nauvoo, about two weeks before Boggs' assassination; that he (Bennett) asked Joe where Rockwell had gone; and that Joe replied, that 'HE HAD GONE TO MISSOURI TO FULFIL PROPHECIES!!' He says further, that Rockwell returned to Nauvoo on the very day that the news of Governor Boggs' assassination arrived. Since that, the Prophet has presented said Rockwell with a carriage and horse, or horses; and he has suddenly become very flush of money, and lives in style. These statements we give as we received them. It is said that Bennett has affidavits to prove every fact above stated, and will shortly present them to the world. If this be true, there will but little doubt remain, that Joe Smith was the real instigator of Boggs's assassination.

 

MORMONISM. -- The disclosures made by Gen. Bennett in relation to this sect, are far from being void of interest. We publish to-day some matters from Bennett in relation to the attempted assassination of Gov. Boggs, which are at least of sufficient importance to be inquired into. One of their own papers, the Nauvoo Wasp, while defending Smith from any participation in the matter, gloried in the act, for he says "it remains to be known who did the noble deed." Apart from the act of which he is accessory, there are now pending against him in this State indictments for crimes sufficient not only to predicate a demand upon but to induce the Governor of Illinois to give him up.

 

American Bulletin July 14, 1842


 FOR  THE  BULLETIN.

MESSRS. EDITORS: -- In accordance with your request I now proceed to give you some account of the attempt on the life of Ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri.

Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, in a public congregation in Nauvoo, last season, (1841,) prophecied that Lilburn W. Boggs, Ex-Governor of Missouri, should die by violent hands within a year. Mr. C. S. Hamilton, of Carthage, Ill., stated in my presence, and in the presence of several other gentlemen, at the tavern house of Mr. Robinson, in Warsaw, Illinois, on Sunday, the 10th inst., that he was present and heard this prophecy; I was likewise present, as were many thousand people, and heard the prediction. The faithful,Joe Smith is called, from merited punishment.

In the Spring of 1842, Smith offered a reward of five hundred dollars to any man that would kill Boggs. I heard the offer made to some of the Danites, and told Smith that if he persisted in such a course, it would result in his ruin. Mr. Jonathan Clark, of Hancock county, Ill., stated in Carthage on the 6th inst., in the presence of Dr. Thomas L. Barnes, Jonas Hobart, myself and others, that Mr. Taylor, an English emigrant, told him that he heard Smith make the same offer and that he (Taylor) had, in consequence thereof apostatized and written home to his friends in Europe detailing the horrible facts.

Mr. O. P. Rockwell left Nauvoo from one to two months prior to the attempted assassination of Governor Boggs -- told Orson Pratt and wife that he (Rockwell) had been in Boggs' neighborhood, in Missouri, and had had the honor of standing on the corner of Temple lot in Independence, -- and returned to Nauvoo the day before the report of the attempted assassination reached there -- said he came down the Missouri river to the Mississippi, then down to St. Louis, then up to Nauvoo, etc., etc. At that time the "Nauvoo Wasp" declared, "It remains to be known who did the NOBLE DEED." The Wasp was, and is yet, edited by Wm. Smith, brother to the Prophet.

Some weeks after Rockwell left Nauvoo I asked Smith where he had gone. "Gone," said he, "gone to fulfil PROPHECY,"with a significant nod, giving me to understand that he had gone to fulfil his prediction in relation to the violent death of Boggs.

On the evening of the 29th ultimo, twelve of the Danites, dressed in female apparel, approached my boarding house, (Gen. Robinson's,) in Nauvoo, with their carriage wheels wrapped with blankets, and their horses' feet covered with cloths, to prevent noise, about 10 o'clock, for the purpose of conveying me off and assassinating me, and thus prevent disclosures -- but I was so admirably prepared with arms, as were also my friends, that after prowling around the house for some time, they retired.

On Friday, the 1st. inst., I went to Carthage; and on the 5th I had a call from Mr. O. P. Rockwell, the result of which is detailed in the following affidavits, to wit:

STATE OF ILLINOIS,
HANCOCK COUNTY, ] ss.

Personally appeared before me, Samuel Marshall, a Justice of the Peace in and for said county, John C. Bennett, who being duly sworn according to law deposeth and saith, that on the 5th of July, 1842, at the house of Mr. Hamilton, in Carthage, Mr. O. P. Rockwell came to him and desired a private interview, to which deponent replied that if he (Rockwell) had any thing to say, he could speak it out before the gentlemen present. Rockwell said it was a private matter which interested them only -- deponent then went out with him. Rockwell said, "Doctor you do not know your friends, -- I am not your enemy -- and I do not wish you to make of my name in your publications;" deponent replied that he recognized Joe Smith and all his friends, as his personal enemies; to which Rockwell replied "I have been informed by Warner and Davis that you said Smith gave me fifty dollars and a wagon for shooting Boggs and I can and will whip any man that will tell such a cursed lie -- did you say so or not?" After looking at him for a moment or two the deponent said, "I never said so, sir, but I did say, and I now say it to your face, that you left Nauvoo about two months before the attempted assassination of ex-Governor Boggs, of Missouri, and returned the day before the report of his assassination reached there; and that two persons, in Nauvoo, told me that you told them that you had been over the upper part of Missouri, and in Boggs' neighborhood,"  to which Rockwell replied, "well I was there; and if I shot Boggs they have got to prove it -- I never done an act in my life that I was ashamed of, and I do not fear to go any where that I have ever been, for I have done nothing criminal." Deponent replied, "certainly they have got to prove it on you if you did shoot him; I know nothing of what you did, as I was not there, I only know the circumstances, and from them I draw my own inferences, and the public will theirs -- and now, sir, if either you, or Joe Smith think you can intimidate me by your threats, you are mistaken in your man, and I wish you to understand distinctly that I am opposed to Joe and his holy host -- I shall tell the truth fearlessly, and regardless of consequences." Rockwell replied, "If you say that Joe Smith gave me fifty dollars and a wagon to shoot Boggs, I can whip you, and will do it in a crowd." Deponent then said -- "why are you harping on what I have not said, I have told you what I have said to your face and in presence of these gentlemen, and you have acknowledged the truth of all I have said, and I shall say it again, and if you wish to fight I am ready for you." The conversation then ceased on that subject. Rockwell told deponent that he had been accused wrongfully of wishing to assassinate him, or of being ordered by Smith to do so; but deponent said, "I believe that Joe ordered you to do it -- I know that orders were sent from him to the Danites for that purpose." Rockwell said that Smith had never given him any such orders, neither was it his intention; and further the deponent saith not.
however, will deny this, in order to save "THE LORD'S ANNOINTED." as

JOHN C. BENNETT.

Sworn to, and subscribed, this 7th day of July, 1842, before me, at my office in Carthage.

                        SAMUEL MARSHALL, J. P.
{Seal.}



STATE OF ILLINOIS, }
HANCOCK COUNTY, } ss.

Personally appeared before me, Samuel Marshall, a justice of the peace in and for said county, Clayton Tweed, who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith, That on the 5th day of July, 1842, at the house of Mr. Hamilton, in Carthage, Mr. O. P. Rockwell came up to Gen. John C. Bennett, and said to him, "I wish to have some private conversation with you, will you come out of doors with me?" To which Bennett replied, "No, sir, if you have any thing to say to me, speak it out before these gentlemen." Rockwell then observed, "It is a matter which interests you and myself alone, and I should like much to see you a few minutes by ourselves." They then went out, and were some time in conversation, when loud words ensued, and deponent came up much agitated, fearing there would be a fight, and heard Bennett say, "I now say to your face what I said behind your back, that you left Nauvoo about two months before the attempted assassination of Ex-Governor Boggs, of Missouri, and returned the day before the report of his assassination reached there, and that two persons in Nauvoo told me that you told them that you had been over to the upper part of Missouri, and in Boggs' neighborhood," to which Rockwell replied, "If I shot Boggs, they have to prove it." Bennett said "Certainly, they have got to prove it on you, if you did shoot him. I know nothing of what you did, as I was not there. I only know the circumstances, and from them I draw my own inferences, and the public will theirs. And now, sir, if either you or Joe Smith think you can intimidate me by your threats, you are mistaken in your man; and I wish you to understand distinctly, that I am opposed to Joe and his holy host -- I shall tell the truth fearlessly, and regardless of consequences." Bennett further remarked, "why are you harping about what I have not said? I have told you what I have said, to your face, and you have acknowledged the truth of it, and I will say it again; and if you wish to fight I am now ready for you -- you will never have a better time." This conversation then ceased, and the parties separated -- and further this deponent saith not.

                    CLAYTON TWEED.
Sworn to and subscribed before me, this 7th day of July, 1842 at my office in Carthage.

                        SAMUEL MARSHALL, J. P.
{Seal.}



STATE OF ILLINOIS, }
HANCOCK COUNTY, } ss.

Personally appeared before me, Samuel Marshall, a justice of the peace in and for said county, Jonas Hobart, who being duly sworn accordingly to law, deposeth and saith, That, on the 5th day of July, 1842, at the tavern house of Mr. Hamilton, in Carthage, he came up to where Gen. John C. Bennett and Mr. O. P. Rockwell were in angry conversation, when he heard Rockwell say, that if any man said that Joe Smith hired him to shoot Boggs, he stated what was false. There was then some warm talk about fighting, and Bennett said, "I tell you sir, to your face what I have said behind your back, and if you are for fight now is as good a time as you will have." Rockwell said he had been up into Boggs' neighborhood, in Missouri; and said he, "if I shot Boggs they have got to prove it." Bennett said "certainly they have -- I do not know what you did, I only know the circumstances -- I have told them, and I have now told them to your face, and you have acknowledged them -- and I shall tell them again fearless of consequences," -- and further deponent saith not.

                    JONAS HOBART.
Sworn to and subscribed, this 9th day of July, 1842, before me, at my office in Carthage.

                        SAMUEL MARSHALL, J. P.
{Seal.}



STATE OF ILLINOIS, }
HANCOCK COUNTY, } ss.

Personally appeared before me, Samuel Marshall Justice of the Peace in and for said County, John H. Lawton, who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith, that on the 5th day of July, 1842, he came up to where Gen. John C. Bennett and O. P. Rockwell were in conversation, at the house of Mr. Hamilton in Carthage, and heard Rockwell say that he had been up in Boggs' neighborhood, in Missouri, and that if he had shot Boggs they had to prove it; and then began to talk of whipping Bennett, whereupon Bennett replied, "I have said nothing behind your back but what I now said to your face, and if you wish to fight now I am ready for you;" the conversation then ceased and the parties separated; and further this deponent saith not.

                    JOHN H. LAWTON.
Sworn to and subscribed, this 6th day of July, 1842, before me, at my office in Carthage.

                        SAMUEL MARSHALL, J. P.
{Seal.}


I would say further, that, before Rockwell left Nauvoo, he was abjectly poor. Since his return, he has left his family in the lower part of the city, taken up his residence at the tavern of Capt. Amos Davis -- has an elegant carriage and horses at his disposal, and his pockets filled with gold. Capt. Davis can, and will, if called upon, tell more about his former poverty, and present apparent affluence, at all events so far as gold is concerned. This is said to be the same carriage and horses that were muffled on the evening of the 29th of June.

If Smith is demanded, I will show by Col. F. M. Higbee and others, that he murdered a certain prisoner in Missouri.

These are some of the facts of this outrage upon civilized society. Now let the demand be made, and the truth shall appear. As Smith was an accessory before the fact in this case, he should be demanded on the old indictments for murder, treason, burglary, and arson and secured -- then the facts shall appear in this case. Rockwell can be demanded on affidavit. I expect Higbee on Tuesday next, if Smith does not have him murdered to prevent his developments.

I am aware that Smith now seeks my life, and is fortifying his Mormon witnesses by revelation; but if the demand is made as I have suggested, no earthly force can save him.
                              JOHN C. BENNETT.
ST. LOUIS, July 13th, 1842.


Note: John C. Bennett's July 13, 1842 statement, alleging that Joseph Smith, Jr. had sent Elder Rockwell to Missouri to murder ex-Governor Boggs (and that Smith had subsequently said that Rockwell had "gone to fulfill prophecy") is an expansion of disclosures made in his "Second Letter," as published in the Sangamo Journal on July 15, 1842. Bennett's detailing of this allegation in the pages of the Native American Bulletin was quickly reprinted in the pages of the Warsaw Signal in mid-July 1842 and in the Sangamo Journal on July 22nd. Bennett supplies essentially the same information on pp. 281-285 of his 1842 book, History of the Saints.

MAIN INDEX

BIBLE INDEX

HINDU INDEX

MUSLIM INDEX

MORMON INDEX

MORMON HISTORY

BUDDHISM INDEX

WORD FAITH INDEX

WATCHTOWER INDEX

MISCELLANEOUS INDEX

CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX