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Act 1: The Apostates
Act 2: The Mobs
Act 3: Joseph Smith
Act 4: Martyrdom


Palmyra, New York, 1820

A Christian revival meeting is taking place. Among those attending is a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith. The preachers involved at first appear to be cooperative in their efforts to bring the Gospel to the frontier people, but they begin to argue over differences in doctrine.

Joseph Smith is confused over how to determine who is really speaking for God. He decides to study the Bible, and comes across a passage that suggests he can ask of God for his answer.

He goes to a secluded place and attempts to pray, but is overwhelmed by a dark force as Satan attempts to thwart his effort. The only thing that saves him is a visit from the Father and the Son, who instruct him that none of the sects speak for God, and that Joseph will be called to a marvelous work.


Nauvoo, Illinois, 1844

It is 24 years later. Joseph Smith is now the founder and prophet of the Mormon Church, founder and mayor of a new city in Illinois called Nauvoo, and Lieutenant General of the city militia called the Nauvoo Legion. Friction with neighboring towns and villages is growing. But even worse, some dissention within the church is forming.

Apostates, led by William Law, discuss how they believe Joseph is a fallen prophet because he introduced the doctrine of plural marriage. As the citizens of Nauvoo are gathering to hear a sermon given by Joseph Smith, the apostates decide they have to kill Joseph to save the church.

They invited two teenage boys to take part in their plans, who can't figure out why they were included. The boys run to Joseph to warn him. Joseph asks that they continue to attend their meetings as spies so he can beware of their plots. He then as part of his sermon warns the congregation that he is as capable of dying as anyone, and that traitors are a greater danger than outside enemies.

The boys attend the final meeting of the apostates, who plot the assassination and then require everyone to take an oath of secrecy upon pain of death. The boys refuse, and are threatened with death until Jane Law, William's wife, decides the murders could be traced to them. The boys are released with threats of extermination if they talk.

But the boys head straight for Joseph and tell all. Joseph thanks and praises them for their courage and true friendship.


Nauvoo and Carthage, Illinois, 1844

A typical mobocrat, member of a mob, ponders on how he needs an excuse to kill Mormons, while the apostates, thwarted in their assassination attempt, instead print a newspaper attacking Joseph Smith, which they call the Nauvoo Expositor. Joseph and the city council decide they must destroy the press and papers to preserve the peace.

The apostates are thrilled at this act, because they believe it gives the mobs the excuse they've been looking for. After embellishing on the facts to make them more lurid, they run to a tavern in Carthage, a nearby town notorious for its hatred of Mormons, and incite the drunken men there to riot. They run out and begin plundering, raping, and murdering nearby Mormon homesteads.

One home in particular, where a mother and her young son live, is entered by a mobocrat, who attempts to rape her. The son intervenes and is killed. The mother is left to mourn her son while the mob returns to the tavern to celebrate.

After this attack Joseph and his brother Hyrum decide to declare martial law in Nauvoo. The Nauvoo Legion is paraded around the city while its members and the citizens of Nauvoo honor their General and Prophet Joseph Smith.


Nauvoo and Carthage, Illinois, 1844

The governor of Illinois, Thomas Ford, comes to Carthage and meets with the apostates to determine what is going on. The apostates tell their same embellished story to him, and he contemplates whether he should have Joseph Smith arrested.

He decides to issue an order for Joseph and Hyrum's arrest, and the county sheriff and deputy are sent to serve the warrant. They are expected to appear at court on their own recognizance, with veiled threats on Nauvoo if they do not.

Joseph and Hyrum decide instead to flee to the Rocky Mountains, because Joseph feels inspired that one more arrest will mean their death. A tender parting scene occurs between Joseph and his wife Emma, and the two brothers cross the Mississippi River.

Shortly the sheriff and deputy return looking for them. When they can't be found, the two officers threaten Emma and her children, and the citizens of Nauvoo, with death. The citizens are shocked that Joseph would desert them, and Emma sends a note to Joseph telling him of the danger and begging him to return.

Joseph is in anguish, bitter that his wife and friends seem unconcerned for his life, but alarmed at the sheriff's threats. In despair he resolves to turn himself in.


Carthage, Illinois, 1844

Joseph Smith bids farewell to Nauvoo as he, his brother Hyrum, and a group of other men head out for Carthage. On the way they meet Captain Dunn and his militia, who arrest the two brothers. The militia revel in this victory for the mobs.

In Carthage, Robert Smith is the justice of the peace and the captain of another militia called the Carthage Greys. He and a member of his militia, the mobocrat, see Joseph and Hyrum coming into town and greet them with blatant threats of murder. The Carthage Greys surround them and taunt them, with Satan watching in the background.

Joseph and Hyrum are brought to the court of Robert Smith where a mock trial takes place and they are pronounced guilty of treason. They are then brought to the Carthage jail.

Three good friends of Joseph, John Taylor, Dan Jones, and Willard Richards, choose to follow Joseph to the jail, where they plan to stay with him, even to death. Meanwhile Robert Smith and the Carthage Greys meet with Governor Ford to come up with a sinister plan on how to deal with the whole situation.

Dan Jones overhears the guards talking about the plan and leaves the jail to warn Governor Ford. When the Governor seems unconcerned Dan condemns him and hurries back to the jail, but is not allowed inside.

Governor Ford marches with several militia groups into Nauvoo as a show of force. He leaves behind a number of Carthage Grey soldiers to guard the jail. Dan Jones complains loudly to the Governor over the choice of guards, but the Governor reassures him that Joseph will be protected.

On the way, the Carthage Greys are eager to plunder Nauvoo, but are disbanded when the Governor overhears this. They return to Carthage to take part in the murder.

The jailkeeper senses something is amiss, and suggests that Joseph and his colleagues move to the basement cell for safety, which they promise to do after supper. Joseph asks Willard Richards if he will follow him there, and Willard says he will follow him anywhere, and will even die in his place. John Taylor sings "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" at the request of Joseph, which event is hinted at in the music.

Meanwhile the wives of the men involved in all this are home praying for their husbands. Jane Law praises her husband for saving the church, while Emma expresses her outrage at the traitorous apostates.

All throughout Carthage, men are gathering into a vicious mob who arm themselves, blacken their faces for disguise, and descend upon the jail. A gunfight ensues, in which the guards only make a show of resistance. In minutes the jail is surrounded and swarming with mobocrats. Hyrum is shot and cries out, falling into Joseph's arms. Joseph, attempting to draw the fire from his other friends, retreats to the window. He is shot three times and cries out, then falls out of the window to his death.


Nauvoo and Heaven, 1844

The bodies of Joseph and Hyrum are returned to Nauvoo. Emma mourns the death of her husband, but consoles herself with the certainty that he will be waiting for her in heaven.

Indeed, we see the spirits of Joseph and Hyrum ascending to heaven where they are greeted by a chorus of angels. Joseph presents himself before the thrones of God the Father and the Son, where he kneels before them, then is raised to his feet and embraced by Jesus Christ.

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