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The President Elect: Book Two - Joseph Smith the Candidate

The President Elect: Book Two - Joseph Smith the Candidate

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The President Elect: Book Two - Joseph Smith the Candidate

305 pages
4 heures
Jun 29, 2011


This is a book about what might have been. What if Joseph Smith had survived Carthage Jail and had gone on to run for President of the United States? Would he have been successful? Would the Civil War have begun in 1845, as a result?
This style of writing is called “counterfactual history”. You will go away thinking, “Yes, it really could have happened this way”.
In Book Two, Joseph completes his campaign swing through the eastern states. William Smith goes to work for Horace Greeley. The stonework on the Nauvoo Temple is completed. Joseph Smith meets Abraham Lincoln. Joseph returns to Carthage as a trial witness. The national election is held, and Joseph and his shadow cabinet travel to Washington City as the Southern states begin to secede from the Union. Joseph makes preparations to move the Saints to the Upper California, under the direction of Brigham Young.

Jun 29, 2011

À propos de l'auteur

Kurt's career has been in the aerospace software industry. He is the author of twenty-one books and short stories. Kurt speaks French and has studied Hebrew, Russian, Icelandic and Hindi as background for his series of otherworld books, "The Clan of the Stone". He has always had an interest in science fiction and space travel. Kurt lives with his wife and family, a cat and a dog in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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The President Elect - Kurt F. Kammeyer

Joseph Smith

The President Elect

Book Two: The Candidate

Copyright 2013 Kurt F. Kammeyer

Smashwords Edition

License Notes

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This is a book about what might have been. Nearly all the characters depicted in this book were real people, and their actual histories are a matter of record. There are only a very few instances where the characters are completely fictitious. Since I am dealing with real people, I have tried to respect the memory of the many greats and not-so-greats mentioned in this novel. The actual heroes, for the most part, remain heroes, and the villains are still villains.

Most of the scenes in this book are based on real events that took place in America around the years 1844-1845. However, in many cases the dates have been changed to improve the flow of the narrative. In some cases, actual statements made by one person are quoted by another. For example, in a few places Joseph Smith says things which in reality were said by Brigham Young or others. The recurring theme of this book, so to speak, might be: History precedes itself.

This book uses an entirely different approach than any previously used by LDS authors who have written about Joseph Smith. Instead of just fictionalizing the Prophet’s short life, I have extended his life into a work of fiction that explores what could very well have happened, if only he had survived Carthage.

Since the 1930s a discipline has grown up under the name of Counterfactual History – the study of what might have been, if only small events were changed at certain key turning points in history. What if Hitler had repulsed the Normandy invasion? What if William the Conqueror had lost the Battle of Hastings? What if Annie Oakley had missed her shot and killed Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1889, when he challenged her to shoot a lighted cigar from between his teeth? In my estimation, Joseph and Hyrum Smith’s presence in Carthage Jail was just such a turning point in history. I have no doubt that if they had survived, our nation and the world would be a very different place today.

I have gone to great lengths to make this book as true to life as possible. In particular, I have tried to make these people speak and sound the way they actually did in 1840s America. A quotation from Mark Twain in his introduction to Huck Finn best says what I have attempted:

In this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri Negro dialect; the extremest form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the ordinary Pike County dialect; and four modified varieties of this last. The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork; but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech.

I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding.

(Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)

Would that I were as conversant with these dialects as Mark Twain was! In addition to some of the dialects he mentioned, I have sometimes made use of the broadest, most flap-jawed southern patois of all, as found in the writings of Sut Lovingood (George Washington Harris), a contemporary and inspiration to Mark Twain.

Many of the early leaders of the Church came from New England, including Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and they no doubt spoke with a rather strong West New England twang which I have not attempted to imitate here. However, I have tried to mimic the following accents, with varying degrees of success: Southern English, Irish, Cockney, Welsh, Yorkshire/Cumbrian, Yiddish, German, and French. The accents of persons such as William Clayton, Charles Lambert, and Dan Jones were not written haphazardly, but are based on their place of origin in the British Isles.

Writing in dialect is an imprecise business at best, and the overusage of it can get in the way of the narrative. After awhile, the many dropped h’s and apostrophes can become a liability. Unfortunately, there are simply not enough letters in the alphabet to portray the subtle nuances of all the English dialects used here. I found that certain dialects were fairly easy to render (Welsh, Cumbrian), while others were nearly impossible (Received Southern Pronunciation, the Queen’s English). Unless you have actually heard a Yorkie or a Lankie’s speech patterns, much of the effect of this dialect may be lost on you. Also, the use of written dialect can mislead us into thinking that the less proper (i.e., 21st century American-sounding) a person’s speech was, the less educated they were. While this is certainly true of some of the characters in this book (Prudence Bigelow, for instance), it was not generally the case, then or now.

As a final check on the accuracy of this book, I have carefully compared it against Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, in order to weed out any 21st-century anachronisms. Whether these efforts have made this a better yarn, I shall leave to the reader to decide.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever succeeded in fictionalizing Joseph Smith’s life while still respecting his character. How could they? To the non-Mormons, he was and is a complete mystery. At the other end of the spectrum, Latter-day Saint authors tend to treat him with such reverence (and rightly so) that it is well-nigh impossible to explore his true personality.

Those who have written about Joseph Smith – and they are legion – have generally used two approaches. They either turn him into something he was not (a charlatan, a clever but lazy oaf, or a modern Mahomet) or, if they are more honest, they simply write around him. In the latter category are several extremely popular series written recently by Latter-day Saint authors, which I would prefer not to mention here by name.

No novel about Joseph Smith can surpass the true history of his life. As he said of himself,

You don’t know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it; I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself.

Since this book is an historical extrapolation, no one should assume that it represents the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The views expressed here are solely my own. I have tried to tread lightly when it comes to Church doctrine or sacred matters, and I have relied heavily on historical records concerning polygamy, the Nauvoo temple, Church organization, Joseph Smith’s campaign for President, and slavery. In addition, most of the miracles portrayed here are based on historical accounts – they actually happened.

The first chapter of this book is a meticulously accurate depiction of the actual events leading up to the instant of the martyrdom. As near as we can tell from the many written accounts, it really happened this way. After that, all kinds of amazing alternate timelines unfold, as Joseph Smith pursues his campaign for the Presidency.

For the record, these are the historical facts: Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were incarcerated in Carthage Jail, Illinois, where on June 27th 1844, they were both killed by an armed mob. John Taylor was severely wounded in the attack; Willard Richards escaped with just a nick on his left ear. The campaign to elect Joseph Smith President of the United States died with him. In February of 1846, Brigham Young led the first company of Saints out of Nauvoo, and in 1847 the first pioneer company made the long journey to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. The rest, as they say, is history...

Kurt F. Kammeyer


PONTOOSUC, Tuesday, September 10, 1844

Porter Rockwell left Hampton on Sunday and made his way on horseback down the east shore of the Mississippi River. As he rode along, he had plenty of time to think about James J. Strang’s revelations and the brass plates he had displayed to his followers.

It just don’t add up. He had witnesses who swore that the ground was undisturbed round the oak tree, and the plates was a good four foot under ground. They must be real, else it’s all a spool of lies, but how…?

In the early evening Porter arrived at Pontoosuc, a small village about 15 miles north of Nauvoo. Based on Strang’s description of the miraculous discovery of the plates, he soon found the Hill of Promise and the big oak tree, just up the bank from the river. The ground around the tree still showed signs of the recent excavation.

So it is true… he thought, confused. That corks it… No! I know a shyster when I sees one…

He wandered down to the river, where an old steamboat wreck lay beached. He sat down on the hull timbers, his head in his hands, and thought for a long time. Finally he got up and wandered idly about the wreck, examining the hull. It appeared to have suffered a boiler explosion and fire – an all too common fate for steamboats. The superstructure and pilot house were gone, leaving nothing but the burned-out flat-bottomed hull, with rusty remnants of the fire boxes still standing amidships. What was left of the boat had been picked clean, and most of the brass and iron fittings had been removed.

The sun was setting across the river. Porter was just turning to leave when he stubbed his toe on a long, heavy object half buried in the sand. It was a section of the broken paddlewheel driveshaft, about five feet long and six inches in diameter. On the visible end of the hollow shaft, someone had fitted a wooden T handle. Curious, Porter picked up the T end of the shaft, and a trickle of clay poured out of the other end. He thought for a moment, looked up the bank towards the oak tree, and smiled.

It all makes sense t’ me now, he thought.

BUFFALO, Tuesday, September 10

Joseph and William paid a visit to James G. Birney, the presidential candidate of the Liberty Party, at his campaign headquarters in Buffalo. The Birney campaign was in full swing, with brass bands, crowds roaming the streets carrying banners, and all the political hoopla that Joseph had come to recognize during his recent travels.

Mr. Birney was a tall, distinguished-looking man of fifty-two years of age. For several decades he had been one of the most prominent abolitionists in America.

Mr. Smith, I have followed yo’ campaign closely and I must say, fo’ a young upsta’t you have ce’tainly made a name for yo’sef and yo’ new National Refo’m pa’ty, he said. Wha, in ma first run at the Pres’dency in 1840 I polled jest seven thousan’ votes, yet here you are, relatively unknown to the nation, yet with delegates an’ conventions afoot in nearly evah state. I must congratulate you.

Joseph replied, Thank you, Mr. Birney. I believe I owe the success of my campaign principally to the broad appeal of my platform. In contradistinction, Mr. Polk and Mr. Clay are like the cloud of steam from a kettle – it makes a good impression, but then dissipates and vanishes away. You can’t pin them down on anything. And forgive me, but if I may be so bold, your Liberty Party platform, while it has merit, is in my estimation too narrow and divisive to ever appeal to the nation as a whole.

Per’aps, but ma larger p’litical purpose has been to get men elected to Congress who could actually make a difference on the slavery issue, Birney replied. The Whigs an’ Democrats, ‘cept fo the Ba’n-Burners, won’t touch the issue – although, Mr. Clay has come out in suppo’t of re-colonization, as has Commodore Robert Stockton. Fact, it was Stockton an’ Clay who sta’ted the whole Liberia movement back in 1820.

In my view, re-colonizing the slaves back to Africa will never solve the problem, said Joseph. Those that are here, despite what the Supreme Court may claim, are already American citizens in my opinion. Furthermore, as fast as we ship them back to Africa, the slave-ships will only continue to bring new captives to our shores. No, the only solution is to outlaw slavery, then buy them their freedom from their masters. Then, the black man will be free to work his own land and earn an honest wage, which is his right.

Birney was skeptical. Mr. Smith, have you evah visited the South?

I’ve lived in Missouri, so I think I understand the Southern view on slavery, if that’s what you mean.

I’m not so sure you do. When I lived in Kentucky, my ab’litionist press was destroyed three times by pro-slavery mobs. Eva’ since the Nat Turner rebellion in 1831, every ‘massa’ in the South goes to bed with a loaded pistol unda’ his pillow, terrified that he mought not wake up in the mornin’, courtesy of his slaves. There’s a deep, ingrained fear an’ loathin’ of the Negroes, flava’ed perhaps with a healthy dose of guilt, an’ the maddenin’ feelin’ that maybe, just maybe the black race is just as intelligent an’ hard-workin’ as their masta’s – per’aps more. For these reasons, I find it unlikely that the South will eva’ willingly turn thea’ slaves loose, for any sum o’ money. Thea’s simply too much rancor, don’t you see?

I see no other way, short of war, Joseph replied. And that would only inflame the animosities, not assuage them. But those are the alternatives.

Both men ruminated in silence for a time. Finally, Mr. Birney looked at Joseph and said,

Shoot, Smith, you know well as I do that neitha’ one of us has a chance in Hell of winnin’ the Presidency. But togetha’, we just mought make a difference.

What are you proposing? Joseph said cautiously.

Tho’ we may have our differences, yet we still have more in common than with eitha’ of the two maja’ pa’ties, Birney said. So, hea’s what I perpose: Winna’-take-all. If’n I win more electors, you’ll throw yo’ votes to me, and if you win more electors, you can have my votes. It mought just give us enough votes to tip th’election, at least in Congress. Do we have an agreement?

Joseph closed his eyes and sat motionless for about ten seconds. Then he opened them and said,

I agree to your proposal.

The three men shook hands and parted.

As Joseph and William were making their way to the steamboat quay, William turned and said anxiously,

Joseph, I donna like it! ‘Tis an unholy alliance, a pact wi’ th’ deevil! How can ye joost gie’ o’er the Saints’ votes t’ that abolitionist, withou’ they ‘ave a say in it?

William, I thought long and hard about this pact. I think Mr. Birney knows we can beat him handily at the polls, and this is his way of conceding defeat, without actually admitting it. I have no intention of losing to him, at any rate, and we’ll just have to wait and see if he follows through on his part of the agreement. ‘Make unto yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, and they will not destroy you.’ So in the end, we really have nothing to lose by this.

At about noon, Joseph and William boarded a steamboat headed for Cleveland.

YELROME, Tuesday, September 10

The Morley Settlement (Yelrome spelled backwards), was situated about 25 miles south of Nauvoo near the border of Hancock and Adams counties. About 300 Latter-day Saints had followed Father Isaac Morley to this site, and by 1844 Yelrome and Lima were becoming prosperous outposts of Zion. Unfortunately, Yelrome was located a mere ten miles from Warsaw, the center of anti-Mormon activity in the county. On this day, the inhabitants of Yelrome got an unwelcome visit from their neighbors to the north.

At about ten o’clock in the morning Isaac Morley was mowing hay with Hiram Mount, when he saw four men approaching on horseback.

Watch yourself, Hiram, Isaac said softly. I know these men, and they ain’t here ta pick crab-apples.

Major Mark Aldrich reined his horse up in front of the two men and said,

Mornin’ Isaac. I heard that ol’ mullet-head Rigdon’s raisin’ Cain up in Nauvoo. They say half the town’s already up an’ follered him to Hampton. So, when you plannin’ to leave here?

Isaac Morley put down his scythe and replied tartly,

Well Mark, I guess you’re just a fount of knowledge this mornin’. Did you ride all the way from Green Plains just to ask me that? Or are you here to drag me off to Missouri like you done poor ol’ Daniel Avery last year?

Aldrich bristled. Damn you, Morley! Someone fired at our schoolhouse in Green Plains yesterday, an’ when we find out which Mormon it was, yall’ll be an idiot short, I promise. I’ve warned you an’ your followers to clear out o’ here before! This is my land! You Mormons think you kin rule the county, an’ elect whoever you please?

Hiram Mount spoke up. But you know perfectly well we bought this land, fair and square! What gives you the right to drive us off it?

You shet your head! Aldrich snarled. This committee here, he said motioning to the other men, has been appointed to make three propositions to you. First, you kin take up arms with us an’ proceed to Nauvoo, where we will arrest Brigham Young an’ his doughead friends. Or second, you kin give up your arms to us an’ stay quiet as bedbugs here till the fuss is o’er. Or third, you kin pack up your followers an’ high-tail it for Nauvoo. It’s your call.

Hiram Mount was furious at this. He shouted,

Here’s my reply, you murdering puke! at the same time aiming a vicious blow at Aldrich with his scythe. Aldrich ducked, and his horse screamed and reared as the long blade raked her flank. Isaac Morley tried to pull Hiram back, but too late. Aldrich drew his pistol, aimed at Hiram and fired. Hiram fell to the ground with a cry, and then was still.

Isaac looked down at Hiram in anguish and heard three loud clicks. He looked up just in time to see three rifles aimed straight at his head. He backed slowly away from the men with his hands raised.

That’ll answer! Aldrich said as he tried to settle his horse. You got till Saturday mornin’ to make up your minds. After that, we’ll burn the town, hear?

With that, Major Mark Aldrich and his men spun their horses around and cantered down the road toward Green Plains.

NAUVOO, Wednesday, September 11

Just before noon Clarissa Young was walking up Munson Street to the market when she spied a strange man standing near the corner of Granger and Munson. He was dressed in rags, holding a Bible in one hand and a tract in the other. Clarissa ignored him and proceeded up the street. As she approached Hotchkiss Street she noticed another man just as poorly dressed, waving the same tract in the air. She stopped to listen from a discrete distance.

...Behold, my servant James shall lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes of Zion, for he hath wisdom in the gospel and understandeth the doctrines and erreth not therein. And I will have a house built unto me there of stone, and there will I show myself to my people by many mighty works, and the name of the city shall be called Voree, which is, being interpreted, Garden of Peace, for there shall my people have peace and rest and wax fat and pleasant in the presence of their enemies.

What on earth? she thought. This doesn’t sound like the true gospel to me.

Once she had finished her purchases, she turned and headed south on Granger Street until she reached home. Along the way she spotted yet a third preacher near Kimball Street.

She thought, Who are these curious men?

She found Brigham Young out in his garden, weeding his cabbage. As she began to describe the three men to him, Brigham straightened up and said,

Yes, my dear, I know right well who they are. They’re the deluded followers of James J. Strang, who claims Joseph Smith ordained him to be the next Prophet of the Church. They’ve been drifting into town by ones and twos for about a week now, from Hampton up north. Looks like they‘ve deposed Sidney and chosen this Strang charlatan as their new ‘Guardian’.


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