Foster gives his account of the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor in a letter to the editor of the NY Daily Herald.

Jun 26, 1844
News (traditional)
Charles A. Foster

Charles A. Foster, "News from Nauvoo," New York Daily Herald, June 26, 1844, 1

New York Daily Herald
Charles A. Foster, Hyrum Smith, William Law, Francis Higbee, Robert D. Foster, Lilburn Boggs, Joseph Smith, Jr., Joseph H. Jackson, Orrin Porter Rockwell
Reading Public

News from Nauvoo

Great Excitement at Nauvoo—Destruction of the Printing Establishment of the Nauvoo Expositor.

On Board Steamer “Osprey”)

June 12, 1844)

Mr. Editor: — In behalf of the Publishers of the "Nauvoo Expositor," and for the purpose of informing the public, I hasten to label for your readers in the community generally, the particulars of one of the most unparalleled outrages ever perpetrated in the country.

On Monday evening, last, a company consisting of some two or 300 of the Nauvoo Legion, assisted by as many volunteers, armed with muskets, swords, pistols, Bowie knives, & c., marched up in front of the office of the "Expositor" — entered the building by breaking open the door with a sledge-hammer, and destroyed the press and all the materials, by throwing them into the street and setting the whole on fire.

This took place between the hours of 7 and 10 P.M. The particulars are as follows:— A large and respectable portion of the citizens having become fully convinced by the most conclusive testimony, and their own observation, that the character of Joe Smith, in conection with many of the Mormon leaders had become so base and corrupt that longer countenance would be crime. They early in April last, resolved themselves into a new Society, styled the "Reformed Mormon Church," and appointed William Law their President. The old church party felt very uneasy about the establishment of this new party, and commenced a tirade of abuse and slander against the characters and persons of those who had heretofore stood in high estimation, simply because they dared to think for themselves, and express their honest opinions.

The new party, having no organ through which to speak, being denied the privilege of publishing any thing against Joe (however true it might be) had only the alternative left, to establish a Press of their own, or else, quietly submit to the vile and false assertions which were heaped upon them by wholesale, as often as the “Nauvoo Neighbor" made its appearance.

For the purpose, then, of establishing a free and independent press in Nauvoo, through which he might advocate equal rights to every citizen, and whereby all might speak for themselves, a company of several gentlemen, (some of whom were members of the new church, and some of no church,) formed themselves into a committee to publish the "Nauvoo Expositor," the first number of which appeared on the 7th inst., as proposed in the prospectus. The next day an extra session of the City Council was called for the purpose of adopting means and measures to bring our youthful paper to an immediate and untimely fate. The “Expositor" was eagerly sought for on all hands — some had the audacity to read it in a public street, while others — poor pitiable creatures, would conceal it in their pocket, and repair to some private corner, and there peruse it. In the Council various opinions were expressed, as to the modus operandi of suppressing our odious paper, whose only offense was, telling the truth, and exposing to public gaze the inequities of those who were governing us with a heart of steel and a rod of iron. Some suggested the propriety of passing an ordinance in relation to libels, but Joe, and Hiram, (Joe's brother,) raved and swore away with a vengeance, declaring it a nuisance, which should be demolished on the spot, together with the property of all concerned in its publication, if they made any resistance or defense. One liberal councilman thought they should notify, but this was objected to, the ordinance was passed, the orders given, and the troops presented themselves, as full of fight as old Joe is of folly.

The excitement here became tremendous. Surrounded on all sides by a ruthless and merciless gang of ruffians, and being few in number ourselves, we knew not what to do. Our feelings were too deeply wounded for utterance — already insulted beyond endurance, we must now submit to the forfeiture of our rights to the mercy of a mob, and that under sanction of law. We concluded to make no resistance. When they had marshalled their troops before the office, F. M. Higbee and myself, in behalf of the publishers, forbade their entering the premises or laying hands on the press. They paid no regard to our commands, but marched up the stairs, broke open the door, entered the office, and demolished the press – threw out the tables, stands, desks, & c., and scattered the type in all directions. After clearing out the office, they piled up the combustible materials, and set them on fire, and burnt them to ashes, while the multitude made the air ring with their hideous yells.

This constitutes the history of this disgraceful and most outrageous affair. We have given a simple statement of the facts as they took place, without the aid of fancy or fiction, and shall conclude this sketch by stating to the public that this is but a specimen of the injustice that is meted out to those whose ambition soars higher than to obey the dictum of such a tyrannical wretch as Joe Smith – a man notorious for ability – a man whose crimes are too dark to be recorded, whose character is stained with deeds that would blacken the bottomless pit. We mean all we say in relation to this monster. Facts have recently been developed which fully substantiate the position. It is a fact too well known to be disputed or denied, that Joe did employ Rockwell and others to shoot the ex-Governor Boggs, of Missouri, and by J. H. Jackson's statement, tried to hire him to go to Missouri and rescue Rockwell, and perpetrate the same diabolical deed, if he had an opportunity. Dr. R. D. Foster has made affidavit also, which is now on file, that he offered him $300 to pay his expenses in going to Missouri and shooting Boggs, stating, "it was the will of God, and must be done," and would reward him handsomely.

It is a lamentable fact, that he has ensnared scores of credulous and superstitious females (both married and single,) in his seductive net, under pretense of Divine authority, thereby involving families and individuals in disgrace and infamy, and after gratifying his most hellish lust, has, to clear himself, thrown the lie upon them, adding the blackest insult to the foulest injury.

It is a fact, generally known, that he has been prominently engaged in the manufacture of bogus money and counterfeiting.

It is a fact, he now stands indicted before the Hancock Circuit Court, for perjury, fornication, and adultery.

It is a fact that he has used his office and the assumed power of the City Charter in protecting and shielding fugitives from justice, charged with high misdemeanors.

It is a fact that he lives upon the spoils of his dupes in splendor, while thousands are in a state of starvation. And last but not least, it is a fact, that he has capped the climax of his outrages by authorizing the destruction of a public press. Not satisfied with personal injury, he resorts to open contempt and violation of one of the most sacred features of American institutions — the liberty of the press.

We repeat it, history affords no parallel to the iniquities and enormity of this tyrant who, dressed in a little brief authority, perpetrates deeds, at which Heaven weeps and human nature falls back ashamed of her own depravity.

In this our situations — robbed of our property — stripped of our rights, and outraged on every hand, we present our case before a free and enlightened public, leaving it with them to say how long we shall be subjected to a sacrifice of our nearest and dearest rights at the shrine of unhallowed ambition.

Respectfully, & c.,

Charles A. Foster.

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