Question: Are there government records that prove that the apostles were involved in counterfeiting in Nauvoo?

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Question: Are there government records that prove that the apostles were involved in counterfeiting in Nauvoo?

There are no "government records" which prove that the apostles "were involved in making counterfeit coins"

The book One Nation Under Gods claims that government records indicate that Brigham Young, Willard Richards, Parley Pratt, and Orson Hyde were involved in making counterfeit coins, and that this may have "started under Joseph's leadership." [1] The author cites the following sources to support his claim:

  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Mormon Kingdom, vol. 2, 51-64.
  • D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 127, 650-651.
  • Warsaw Signal, June 5, 1844.
  • St Louis American, December 2, 1845.

There are no "government records" which prove that the apostles "were involved in making counterfeit coins" At best, there is an indictment from a local grand jury, but an indictment is not proof—and, it is unlikely that indictment was anything but a ploy to make sure the Mormons left.

Of three men accused, two are non-Mormons, and the third was criticized by Hyrum Smith for this practice after his eventual apostasy

On page 127, Quinn mentions three men who either passed counterfeit money or who were accused of counterfeiting—yet, two are non-Mormons, and the third was criticized by Hyrum Smith for this practice after his eventual apostasy.

On pages 650-651, Quinn mentions two items that relate to counterfeiting:

  • 24 Mar. [1845] A disaffected Mormon writes that Theodore Turley, of the Council of Fifty, has prepared a press in Nauvoo for counterfeiting, and that Turley gave the man a counterfeit $5.00 bill. [650]
  • 4 June. [1845] Young and Kimball learn that Warren Snow and Dominicus Carter have been jailed in Quincy, Illinois, for passing counterfeit money. Bishop Joseph L. Heywood confirms that they are guilty. In Utah Snow would become a bishop and Carter a member of a stake presidency. [651]

None of this associates Joseph Smith (or any of the named apostles) with approving or conducting counterfeiting in any way

That Snow and Carter later held church leadership positions says nothing about official sanction for their actions in Nauvoo—repentance is a firm tenet of the Church.

The "government documents" to which the author refers (via the Tanners) date from 1846 and appear to be a ploy to provide incentive for the Saints to leave Nauvoo

The grand jury of the United States district court of Springfield, Illinois, in January 1846, issued twelve indictments against prominent Church leaders for counterfeiting United States coin. [Niles' National Register, January 3, 1846.] This action was generally thought to be a ploy on the part of the government to make certain that the Saints would keep their promise to leave Nauvoo in the spring. Church leaders issued a circular in which they denied the charge of counterfeiting. They reiterated that they expected the migration to begin early in March. [Missouri Reporter, February 5, 1846.] They then went into hiding and refused to give themselves up for trial.[2]


Notes

  1. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 62-65, page 552 (hardback); page 550 (paperback).
  2. Kenneth W. Godfrey, “Causes of Mormon Non-Mormon Conflict in Hancock County, Illinois, 1839–1846” (PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1967), [citation needed].