This study of the trial of the accused assassins of Joseph Smith dates from the authors' student days at the University of Chicago. As a potential historian and young lawyer, we stood on a street corner discussing some problems in Mormon legal history and wondering whether there were enough sources on the trial for a joint scholarly article. A preliminary search disclosed many original documents in the courthouse at Carthage, Illinois, and we began the long process of investigation that has resulted in this book.
Our book is intended to have significance for both scholar and layman. We have tried to look at the trial as a significant legal event in Mormon and American history. But we have tried not to lose sight of the fact that good history is good narrative. Our introduction and concluding chapter may be of special significance for the scholar, but for most readers the point of interest will be the story between.
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