Smith Murdered for Polygamy
and other crimes

Things quickly unraveled for Smith after the destruction of "The Expositor." The governor of Illinois personally came to Nauvoo in an attempt to mitigate the growing hostility between the Mormons and the surrounding Illinoisans. Smith gave himself into Illinois custody, having the governor's promise of safe custody. That custody, however, was not safe.

An angry crowd stormed the jail at Carthage, Illinois, where Smith and his brother Hyram (and John Taylor, a counselor to Smith) were incarcerated. The two Smith's were killed; Taylor narrowly escaped death.

Later Taylor, as President of the Church in Utah (succeeding Brigham Young) would be the last President of the Church to publicly defend polygamy, saying he would rather have his hand cut off than to sign a statement denouncing the practice.