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When the press for the Nauvoo Expositor arrived in Nauvoo on May 7, 1844, it stirred great excitement among the citizens of Nauvoo, Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Within three days the owners, all leaders of the opposition movement, issued a broadside prospectus for the paper. On June 7, 1844, the first and only issue of the Nauvoo Expositor appeared and caused an immediate furor in the community. Nauvoo residents were incensed at what they saw as its sensational, yellow-journalistic claims about Nauvoo religion, politics, and morality. The newspaper's polemics against the Church and Joseph Smith were threatening and polarizing. The anti-Mormons were exultant about the Nauvoo Expositor, but Church members demanded that something be done.
As mayor of Nauvoo, Joseph Smith summoned the city council. After fourteen hours of deliberation in three different sessions, the council resolved on the evening of June 10, 1844, that the newspaper and its printing office were "a public nuisance" and instructed the mayor "to remove it...without delay." Joseph Smith promptly ordered the city marshal to destroy the press and burn all copies of the paper. That night the marshal carried out the mayor's orders, an action that played into the hands of the opposition. It riled antimormon sentiment throughout Hancock County and provided substance for the charges used by the opposition to hold Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail, where he was murdered on June 27, 1844.