Scripture Stories
Chapter 57: The Prophet Is Killed: June 1844

“Chapter 57: The Prophet Is Killed: June 1844,” Doctrine and Covenants Stories (2002), 201–5

“Chapter 57,” Doctrine and Covenants Stories, 201–5

Chapter 57

The Prophet Is Killed

June 1844

Nauvoo Temple
judge speaking with Joseph

The enemies of the Church blamed Joseph Smith for the problems in Nauvoo, and they wanted him and other leaders to be arrested. But after Joseph was arrested, a judge said he had done nothing wrong and let him go.

Governor of Illinois speaking to soldiers

The mobs were angry that Joseph Smith had been released. They threatened to attack Nauvoo. They even threatened to tar and feather one of the judges. Joseph asked the governor of Illinois to stop the mobs, but the governor believed the mobs’ lies and would not help.

Hyrum and Joseph

Joseph Smith knew he might be put in jail again, and he was afraid his brother Hyrum would also be put in jail. Joseph told Hyrum to take his family and go to another city, but Hyrum would not leave his brother.

Joseph and Hyrum

Joseph Smith felt that if he and Hyrum left Nauvoo, the mobs would not hurt the Saints. They decided to go across the river and hide. Then they would go west to find another place for Church members to live.

Joseph reading letter

Some people thought Joseph Smith was running away because he was afraid. Emma Smith, Joseph’s wife, sent some friends to find him and ask him to come back. Joseph thought he would be killed if he returned to Nauvoo, but he did what his friends wanted him to do.

Joseph being taken by soldiers

The day after Joseph and Hyrum returned to Nauvoo, they and other city leaders went to Carthage, a town about 20 miles away. In Carthage they were arrested on false charges, and Joseph, Hyrum, and some of their friends were put in jail until a trial could be held.

Joseph and friends in Carthage Jail

Joseph, Hyrum, and their friends were in jail for three days. During this time, mobs threatened them and said bad things about them. While in jail, Joseph and his friends prayed and read the Book of Mormon. John Taylor sang one of Joseph’s favorite songs about Jesus.

mob attacking jail

By the afternoon of 27 June 1844, only Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards were still in Carthage Jail. At about five o’clock, a mob of more than 100 men stormed the jail. Some members of the mob shot at the windows, and others ran past the guard and up the stairs to the room where Joseph and his friends were.

Hyrum lying dead on floor

The brethren tried to keep the door shut, but there were too many people for them to defend themselves. The mob pushed open the door and shot Hyrum Smith. When Joseph saw that Hyrum was dead, he cried out, “Oh, dear brother Hyrum!” The mob also shot John Taylor, who was seriously wounded but not killed. They did not shoot Willard Richards.

Joseph falling out window

After Hyrum and John Taylor were shot, Joseph Smith ran to the window. He was hit by two bullets fired from the doorway of the room and a third bullet fired from outside the jail. He cried, “O Lord my God!” and fell out the window. The Prophet was dead. He had given his life for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saints retrieving body of Joseph

The bodies of Joseph and Hyrum Smith were taken to Nauvoo, where they were buried. Their families and other members of the Church were very sad.

work of Joseph Smith

The Prophet Joseph Smith did much important work. He translated the Book of Mormon. Jesus restored His Church through him. Joseph Smith sent missionaries to teach the gospel in other lands. He led the Saints in building a beautiful city. God loved Joseph Smith. The Saints also loved him. Joseph Smith did more for our eternal salvation than anyone except Jesus Christ.