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Martyrdom account tells of mob violence

In an address given in Carthage, Ill., on the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum Smith, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then first counselor in the First Presidency, described the events of June 27, 1844:

As the afternoon of that fateful day wore on, John Taylor sang, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief." He sang all seven verses, and Hyrum asked him to sing them again."The jailer suggested about 5 o'clock that the four of them in the jail - Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Willard Richards and John Taylor - might be safer if they went into the cell. Joseph indicated that they would do so after supper.

"A few minutes later, a noise was heard outside, followed by a cry of surrender. Then came two or three gunshots."

As a mob of men with painted faces rushed up the stairs and began firing their weapons, "The prisoners pushed the door shut and then tried to knock down the guns sticking through the door. John Taylor used Stephen Markham's large hickory cane, and Willard Richards used John Taylor's cane. A bullet fired through the door hit Hyrum on the left side of the nose. He fell back saying, `I am a dead man!' "

John Taylor was hit, and then the Prophet, who "jumped to the window, paused for a moment, cried, `Oh Lord, my God,' then fell out the window, his body resting against the curb of the well. . . .

"Joseph Smith died here at Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844, 150 years ago. But his work has grown in magnitude, strength and power, and will continue to do so. He sealed his testimony of the divinity of this work with his blood."

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