Mister Scratch wrote:What's your take on the credibility of the story that Joseph Smith made the "masonic sign of distress," and called out, "Is there no help for the widow's son?" before he died? (As it is recounted in NMKMH, for example.
Based on what I have read, it seems entirely plausible and likely. I've read of others using the same sign when in peril (masons in non-Mormon situations), so I see no reason why he shouldn't (we all know how deeply Masonry influenced Joseph in the last years of his life). Putting myself in his shoes, at the very moment he was about to be blown away, I'm sure I would have tried the same thing if I had any hope it might work. In addition, I would have done exactly as Joseph did if I had a pistol in that situation -- take down as many of the mob as possible before being killed. Honestly, I can't imagine the horror he and his associates must have gone through in those last moments. I'm disgusted to even think about it.
This all reminds me. Years ago, I visited Nauvoo (before the temple was rebuilt and when it was still a sleepy little town). I'm a bit of a history buff, and knew where in the little neighboring village of Warsaw, Illinois (a few miles from Carthage and Nauvoo) that Thomas Sharp, editor of the Warsaw Signal
, the most rabid of all anti-Mormon publications of the time, had maintained his office in 1844. Sharp was the man credited with fomenting the greatest hatred toward the Mormons, and he was believed to have participated in the murders at Carthage (he was later tried, and acquitted with the other defendants -- by the way, when later asked if he did participate in the murders, all he had to say was: "Well, the jury said not."), and a few years later he helped burn down the Nauvoo Temple. I found what used to be his newspaper office (now an abandoned shell among many other vacant storefronts along main street in Warsaw), and took great pleasure in delivering the largest loogie I could muster onto the front glass of the old newspaper office. Oh, I know, this was petty and juvenile, but somehow it made me feel better. I do not idolize Joseph Smith like many Mormons do, and am fully aware of certain actions by him that I deem wrong and immoral. But he did not deserve what Tom Sharp and others did to him (and Hyrum) in Carthage. Sharp, who lived a long life and was very successful (as mayor, lawyer, judge, etc.), was nothing more than a murderer to me, and all his accomplishments in later life cannot overcome what he did in Carthage. And while my little bit of spittle on his old office made no difference one way or the other in anyone's scheme of things, part of me hopes that at least Sharp was aware of it from the hereafter. ;)