Joseph and Hyrum Smith sealed their testimony with their blood and are "authors under Christ of our salvation and the gospel as we know it in this dispensation," Larry Porter declared at the Sons of Utah Pioneers Mormon History Symposium.
Brother Porter traced the events leading up the martyrdom of the two leaders, beginning with the Prophet's candidacy for president of the United States in 1844.Joseph Smith became a candidate after questioning each candidate pertaining to what his action would be, if elected, regarding the injustice suffered by the Saints. Not satisfied with any of the replies he received, he concluded in November 1843 to run for president, "this because of `injured innocence,' and saying, `If I can gain any power legally, lawfully, then I'll do it,' " Brother Porter explained.
Joseph Smith and other Church leaders formed a political party, which was opposed by the formation of a party by his enemies.
One such enemy, Brother Porter said, was William Law, who had been second counselor in the First Presidency. Law and others plotted a conspiracy against the Prophet.
Two of the conspirators, he said, had a change of heart and revealed the plot to Joseph Smith. The primary leaders of the conspiracy were then named in the Church newspaper, the Times and Seasons, and were excommunicated from the Church.
"They discussed how they could get to Joseph Smith and get him to commit some overt act which would cause the law to come in and get him away from his friends where the enemies could get to him with powder and ball," Brother Porter recounted. "They concluded that they would float a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor."
The publication was libelous against Church leaders, he said, and quoted John Taylor as saying the people rose up against it. The Nauvoo City Council declared the Expositor a public nuisance and directed that it be removed.
"On the face of it," he commented, "if you were to not chip all the bark away, it appears as though the sanctity of the press had been violated. But when you realize that these men had formed a blood conspiracy against the Prophet Joseph Smith, and were not adverse to taking his life and that of Hyrum Smith and others of their primary leaders, then it takes on a different bent."
The incident ultimately led to the arrest of Joseph, Hyrum and other Church leaders at the direction of Gov. Thomas Ford of Illinois, who believed the word of the conspirators over that of the Church leaders. That was followed by the martyrdom at Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844.
Brother Porter said: "If you go to Carthage today, you'll see a plaque that has these very stark lines from Joseph Smith in 1835: `When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do His will, most assuredly God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering and he has not nor will not seek His face in vain."