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Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith
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Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Carthage Conspiracy deals with the general problem of Mormon/non-Mormon conflict, as well as with the dramatic story of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum, and their alleged assassins. It places the infamous event at the Carthage jail (1846) and the subsequent murder-conspiracy trial in the context of Mormon and American legal history, and deals with the questi ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 1st 1979 by University of Illinois Press (first published October 1st 1975)
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3.99  · 
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 ·  300 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Latter-day Saint Sunday school classes are filled with commentaries, quotes, and doctrine related to the early years of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those formative years of a growing but bewildered new religion are sources of inspiration (and sometimes controversy) for Latter-day Saints. In the Nauvoo period in particular, Latter-day Saints explore the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith mostly as it relates to the Saints' eventual exodus to the West, leaving behind the ...more
Jared Cook
Oct 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, law, lds
This book was interesting. It describes the day-to-day mechanics of the trial of the men who were for the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, gives the history of the major players in trial, and places it all in its historical political context. The daily maneuverings and motions of the trial are interesting to a lawyer, perhaps less so to the casual reader, but the narrative doesn't bog down in legal minutia to the point of being unreadable.

The major themes of the book are rule of law vs. popular
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it
This is about the murder of Joseph Smith by a mob and the ensuing "trial." There are a lot of good facts, and the authors were meticulous which they should have been since they are lawyers. However, it does read like a legal brief which is why I could only give it three stars.
Greg Newkirk
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Flows well

A page turner of a legal and historical treatise. It is a sad and disappointing story, a tragedy. But it provides a great insight into conspiracy and extra-legal philosophy, explaining the deeper resources of reasoning and justification for murder. It is disturbing in its revelation that many people can be of like thinking in that they lack basic human decency while functioning normally in all other aspects of social life.
May 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
It was ok. I picked it out of the bookcase when I didn't have a book for nighttime reading. It reads like a legal document, not much in the way of character development, and I already knew what the verdict was--so no surprises there. Anyway, it was okay.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it
A difficult beginning but more interesting as one got into it.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting but a hard read for someone who doesn’t have a lot of knowledge of legal terms or the judicial system.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very well written and thoroughly documented. It kept my interest, even when I didn't exactly follow all the legal maneuverings. I was grateful to be able to read about the trial in detail.
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This is a very comprehensive look (insofar as historical information is available) at the five men indicted for the murder and conspiracy to murder Joseph Smith in June, 1844, and the events surrounding their indictment. The authors have researched and extensively documented the events in Mormon history which predated the killing of Joseph and his brother Hyrum at Carthage, Illinois, the political climate of western Illinois at the time (which was a significant factor in events leading up to the ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Everyone with any interest in Joseph Smith should read this book. Quoting the most significant sentence, the first sentence in Chapter 2 on page 6, "The murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage, Illinois, was not a spontaneous, impulsive act by a few personal enemies of the Mormon leaders, but a deliberate political assassination, committed or condoned by some of the leading citizens in Hancock County." It was after I heard of this sentence that I decided to read the book while I was a senio ...more
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book has sat on my shelf for years. I wish I would have read it long ago. With solid church history and extended discussions of trial strategy and procedure in the mid-1800's, this book couldn't be anything but perfect for me. I particularly liked the analysis of jury nullification and whether that's really what happened in the trial of the five men indicted for the murder of Joseph Smith.

And I promise I've seen several old attorneys during my few years of practicing law that were like the
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: LDS scholars and lawyers
Despite the clear title, Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith, I was expecting something different. I guess I was expecting a biography of the people involved, and maybe some reflection about the ultimate fate of the church, the Smith family, etc. But what I got was just what the title suggests - the trial. First the effort to identify the people responsible. Then all about the legal system of Hancock county Illinois at the time, and the political and social ma ...more
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: church
This was a fascinating book. I remember my dad reading it in preparation for a talk several years ago. I didn't remember much of what he said about it, but I certainly did remember the awful color of the book cover!

As far as the content goes, I have to disagree with many of the reviews I read. I found the portrayal of the legal maneuvering during the trial to be really interesting. The changes in our legal system since that time would render much of the posturing and strategy seem archaic and us
Jacob Lines
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What happened to the men that killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith? You may have heard that they all died terrible deaths, evidence of divine retribution for their deeds. But that isn’t quite true. Many of them did very well in later life, becoming mayors and legislators and generals – pillars of their communities. This book details the legal proceedings that took place after the Martyrdom, whereby the governor of Illinois tried to vindicate the state’s honor by holding the murderers accountable. It is ...more
Nov 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to John by: Gordon Flade
Shelves: history, religious
Very interesting look into the trial of those that killed the Prophet Joseph. It is a window into how the justice system worked (or really didn't work) back in the 1840's with considerable detail about juries, witness collection, and lawyer posturing. It was very different from "Law & Order" of our day. The outcome is predictable, yet still tragic. Whether or not you accept Joseph Smith as God's prophet, everyone can agree a mob murder like this is a tragic event and it is a mockery of justi ...more
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious
It was interesting to see how heated the environment was after Joseph Smith's death. His enemies felt perfectly justified in essentially executing him.

I thought Oaks did a great job of providing the historical background. Most of Mormon history in Nauvoo pretty much ends with Joseph Smith, and the Mormon Exodus. It was nice to find out what else was going on in addition to these 2 events. It certainly was a trying time, and the war fervor between Mormon and anti-Mormons was quite high even after
Mary Robbins
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
It took me awhile to finish this book. I got bogged down in the massive amount of detail about the events. I also found it hard to keep track of all the different players, especially since I put it down for a year. About halfway through I became invested and was able to finish it. The second to last chapter was particularly interesting to me, as it covers events after the trial that lead to the church's exodus from Nauvoo.

A very interesting book on an under reported part of the church's history.
Chad Simons
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it
This book was not what I expected. I have it three stars because it was hard to read. Many footnotes were crucial to the story, so you had to flip back and forth for those.

I wanted a book about the people suspected in Joseph's killing, and about their lives and fate following. The afterword of this book covers that info in a matter of pages.

The rest of the book is a lot of detail about the trial itself. It's well written and informative, so don't let the three stars chase you away. Like I said
Kathy Gover
Mar 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kathy by: missionaries in Nauvoo, Ill.
Shelves: historical
A great detailed history of the trial of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. I was impressed with all the research and info about Nauvoo and the history of the LDS church during the early days of its growth. It was not an easy read with the often tedious intricasies of the trial with early 19th century quotes and culture of the day. However, it was heartbreaking to read how two cultures clashed with how problems were solved in the day with such violence and intolerance. It will be a re-read in the fu ...more
Oct 19, 2009 rated it liked it
This was an interesting historical account of the trial for the murderers of Joseph Smith. Elder Oaks put down the facts with no prejudice at all in favor of the mormons; he really just wrote how both sides of the conflict acted. This book was somewhat difficult to read, but I enjoyed learning about this piece of history that I have not studied before.
Oct 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is written as a look at our jury system of law, using the trial of the accused murders of Joseph Smith. It is a great book with an insight into the legal system I had not previously understood. It also tells a story seldom told. About what happened in Nauvoo and the surrounding areas directly after the Martyrdom of Joseph Smith. It is riveting.
Gordon Larsen
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and extraordinarily well-sourced account of the trial of the accused murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Like much of LDS Church history, it makes me angry to learn how my ancestors were treated and how the judicial system failed them but grateful and proud at how they, as a people, responded.
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Oaks and Hill did a spectacular job in publishing this book. It is arguably one of the best books on Mormon History available, particularly from a historical or law perspective. Very interesting reading in relation to the events leading up to and after the death of Joseph Smith. Essential for any budding Mormon historians.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a very detailed description of the trials for the members of the mob who killed Joseph Smith. It was historically fascinating and really well documented, but straight fact so if you don't like reading history textbooks, this probably is not for you. It was heart-breaking at times to read how the Saints at the time were treated in court.
Mar 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: religiosity
I read most of this library book before I could not renew it again. I was very interested in what I did manage to read. Elder Oaks (before he was put in the Quorum of Twelve Apostles) gives the details of the aftermath and legal trial of the ringleaders of those who murdered Joseph and Hyrum.
Nate Cooley
Feb 09, 2008 marked it as to-read
Before Dallin Oaks was an apostle for the Church, he was an instructor and scholar at the University of Chicago Law School. This book details the story of the trial and ulitmate assasination of Joseph Smith.
Oct 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jim-s, laurie-s
Great book. Sad how others take it upon themselves to correct what they see wrong in their little worlds. This book points out in detail the steps taken to end a religion with the death of it founder and why that failed.
Terry Earley
Mar 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Oaks, a former judge, re-constructs the legal case for the murders of Joseph and Hyrum. Justice on the frontier was not what it is today, and no one was convicted for these murders.

He and his co-authors examined the transcripts and records to re-create the trials. Very informative.
Feb 23, 2011 rated it liked it
This is probably the most authoritative book out there on the trial of Joseph Smith's assassins. It was a bit dry, but it definitely opened my eyes to what was going on in Illinois during that time period.
Aug 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Fascinating look at the trial that took place after Joseph and Hyrum's murders. I learned more about what was going on politically in Hancock County at that time and more about the legal system of that day.
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Dallin Harris Oaks is an American attorney, jurist and religious leader. Since 1984, he has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He is a former professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, a former president of Brigham Young University, and a former justice of the Utah Supreme Court. In the 1970s and 1980s, ...more