Praise to the Man

The Prophet’s Legacy


The last of the mourners passed through the Mansion House at 5:00 p.m. on June 29, 1844. The coffins of Joseph and Hyrum were nailed closed and taken by hearse to the graveyard, though to elude malicious tampering, the bodies of the two Church leaders had been taken secretly to another location.

William W. Phelps,1 close associate of the Prophet Joseph, gave a stirring funeral sermon for the martyred Church leaders. “They can rest from their labors, and their works shall follow them,” he declared. “Mourn not; these sons of God are safe; dry up your tears; confess the hand of the Lord in all things, and comfort each other with the sweet hope that their lives were precious in the sight of all heaven.”2

Phelps paid final tribute to the prophet of the Restoration by writing the hymn “Praise to the Man”: “Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven! / Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain. / Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren; / Death cannot conquer the hero again.”3


Joseph Smith Quotes

In February 1847 Joseph Smith appeared to Brigham Young in a dream and said: “Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord, and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you how to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Tell the people to be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and follow it, and it will lead them just right” (Brigham Young, vision, Feb. 17, 1847, in Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization modernized).

“If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven, and if you will follow the revelations and instructions which God gives you through me, I will take you into heaven as my back load. If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours—for charity covereth a multitude of sins” (History of the Church, 4:445).

“It is a time-honored adage that love begets love. Let us pour forth love—show forth our kindness unto all mankind, and the Lord will reward us with everlasting increase; cast our bread upon the waters and we shall receive it after many days, increased to a hundredfold” (History of the Church, 5:517).


Brigham Young, Second President of the Church, 1847–1877

“The devil and his emissaries thought, if they could only destroy Joseph Smith, that the system he had laid the foundation to build upon would crumble and fall to rise no more; but it is evident to all, that since the death of Joseph, the system has flourished with greater vigor than before, for where there is a testament in full force, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator, for a testament is of force after men are dead” (Deseret News, June 22, 1864, 302).

Wilford Woodruff, Fourth President of the Church, 1889–1898

“I have felt to rejoice exceedingly in what I saw of [Brother] Joseph, for in his public and private career he carried with him the Spirit of the Almighty, and he manifested a greatness of soul which I had never seen in any other man” (Deseret News, Jan. 20, 1858, 363).

Lorenzo Snow, Fifth President of the Church, 1898–1901

“I knew Joseph Smith to have been an honest man, a man of truth, honor and fidelity, willing to sacrifice everything he possessed, even life itself, as a testimony to the heavens and the world that he had borne the truth to the human family” (Deseret News, Oct. 7, 1889, 2).


Where were Joseph and Hyrum buried?

Due to threats that the graves of Joseph and Hyrum would be desecrated, boxes of sandbags were buried, after which the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were secretly buried at midnight in the basement of the unfinished Nauvoo House. Then “a most terrific shower of rain, accompanied with thunder and lightning, occurred, and obliterated all traces of the fact that the earth had been newly dug” (History of the Church, 6:628). Later, the bodies were placed a short distance from the Homestead in an outbuilding. In 1928 the bodies were exhumed and placed in the small cemetery behind the Homestead.

What became of the survivors of the attack on the Carthage Jail?

After surviving Carthage Jail, John Taylor and Willard Richards wrote to the Saints abroad, informing them of recent events. Willard Richards was called to serve as a counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency. John Taylor became the third President of the Church following the death of Brigham Young. “Two better men than Joseph and Hyrum Smith never lived,” John Taylor and Willard Richards wrote. “Two better men God never made. The memorial of their godly lives is embalmed, printed with indelible ink in the memory of every honest heart who knew their upright walk and conversation” (History of the Church, 7:174).


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