Though these difficulties affected only a few, and did not immediately show their full effects, the excommunication of the Laws and Foster was the beginning of the end of Nauvoo, for as Fawn Brodie points out, Law was no ordinary trouble-maker or apostate. Even excommunicated he was still a believer. His purpose was not to denounce Joseph and the Church, but to bring them back to health, and so he did not pull out of Nauvoo, but stayed on, in constant fear of his life from the Sons of Dan, to see what he could accomplish in the way of reform. Oearly there was no road to reform that did not involve direct attack on Joseph. Accordingly Law and his associates prosecuted the attack with energy. One of the somewhat disreputable Higbee brothers who had been smeared in the Bennett scandals of 1842 sued Joseph for slander; Foster and Joseph H. Jackson had little trouble persuading the Mormon-hating grand jury of Carthage to indict the prophet for false swearing; and William Law himself got him indicted for adultery and polygamy. While they were waiting for the law of Illinois to take its course, the rebels ordered a printing press, intent upon airing within the holy city itself the smell of Joseph’s sins. Joseph responded not by denying the charges but by assuming their absurdity, and by a vicious vilification of his enemies-murderers, thieves, fornicators and bearers of false witness. In the midst of that the press arrived and was set up, and the first issue of the Nauvoo Expositor appeared on the streets on June 7, 1844. It did not vilify or fulminate. It kept its temper and a reasonable tone. But it rocked Nauvoo to the deep foundations of the temple, for it denied Joseph’s right to the autocratic power he wielded, accused him of abusing the city charter, doubted his political revelations, charged him with using Church money for land gambles. . . .
The Expositor’s first issue was its last . . .