B.H. Roberts made the above statement. What event was he referring to?
a. The first vision
b. The Mormon exodus across the plains
c. The California gold rush
d. The building of the Salt Lake Temple
a. Defend yourself and you will go free
In the following February (1839), together with other brethren, he (Erastus Snow) was sent by the Church at Far West as a messenger to Liberty, Clay county, where Joseph, the Prophet, and fellow prisoners at that time were incarcerated. When the jailor on the evening of Feb. 8th brought supper to the prisoners, the visiting brethren were permitted to enter the cell. That same evening the prisoners, agreeable to an arrangement made the day previous, made an attempt to escape, but failed. When the jailor went out, Hyrum Smith took hold of the door, and the others followed; but before they could render the assistance needed, the jailor and guard succeeded in closing the door, shutting in the vising brethren as well as the prisoners. The jailor immediately gave the alarm, and the greatest excitement followed. Not only the citizens of the town, but a great number from the surrounding country, gathered around the jail. Every mode of torture and death that their imagination could fancy, was proposed for the prisoners, such as blowing up the jail, taking the prisoners out and whipping them to death, shooting them and burning them to death, tearing them to pieces with horses, etc. The brethren inside listened to all these threats, but believing that the Lord would deliver them, laid down to rest for the night. The mob finally became so divided among themselves that they were unable to carry out any of their numerous plans. That night, while some of the visiting brethren spoke about their being in great danger, the Prophet Joseph told them “not to fear, that not a hair of their heads should be hurt, and that they should not lose any of their things, even to a bridle, saddle, or blanket; that everything should be restored to them; they had offered their lives for their friends and the gospel; that it was necessary the Church should offer a sacrifice and the Lord accepted the offering.” The brethren had next to undergo a trial, but the excitement was so great, that the guard dared not take them out until it abated a little. While they were waiting for their trial, some of the brethren employed lawyers to defend them. Elder Snow asked Brother Joseph whether he had better employ a lawyer or not. The Prophet told him to plead his own case. “But,” Said Brother Snow, “I do not understand the law.” Brother Joseph asked him if he did not understand justice; he thought he did. “Well,” said Brother Joseph, “go and plead for justice as hard as you can, and quote Blackstone and other authors now and then, and they will take it all for law.” He did as he was told, and the result was as Joseph had said it would be; for when he got through his plea, the lawyers flocked around him, and asked him where he had studied law, and said they had never heard a better plea. When the trial was over, Brother Snow was discharged, and all the rest were held to bail, and were allowed to bail each other, by Brother Snow going bail with them. They also got everything that was taken from them, and nothing was lost, although not two articles were found in one place.
Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1901), 105-106.