John Taylor (1808-1887), a British-born Methodist preacher, was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Toronto, Canada, to which he had emigrated in 1830. He rose to become a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, and he was present (and severely wounded) at Carthage Jail on 27 June 1844, during the mob attack that claimed the lives of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. (In the C. C. A. Christensen painting above, he is shown second from the left, attempting to fight the attacking mob off with his cane.) Following the death of Brigham Young in 1877, he was the presiding officer of the Church, formally serving as its third president from 1880 until his own death in 1888.
Here is a portion of a testimonial from John Taylor as it appears in Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, Personal Glimpses of the Prophet Joseph Smith (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2009):
I testify that I was acquainted with Joseph Smith for years; I have traveled with him; I have been with him in private and in public; I have been associated with him in councils of all kinds; I have listened hundreds of times to his public teachings, and his advice to his friends and associates of a more private nature. I have been to his house and seen his deportment in his family. I have seen him arraigned before the tribunals of his country, and have seen him honorably acquitted and delivered from the pernicious breath of slander, and the machinations and falsehoods of wicked and corrupt men. I was with him living, and when he died, when he was murdered in Carthage jail by a ruthless mob . . . with their faces painted. . . .
I have seen him, then, under these circumstances, and I testify before God, angels and men that he was a good, honorable, virtuous man, that his doctrines were good, scriptural and wholesome, that his precepts were such as became a man of God, that his private and public character was unimpeachable, that he lived and died a man of God and a gentleman. This is my testimony. (174-175)
Since yesterday (Saturday) was the 176th anniversary of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith (and of the nearly-fatal wounding of John Taylor), it seemed to me appropriate to share this testimony from John about Joseph. And then, of course, there is his formal announcement of the martyrdom, now canonized as Doctrine and Covenants 135.
Posted from Garden City, Utah