“The receipt of the revelation offering the priesthood to men of all races and colors”
What is this document?
“In recent months one aspect or another of this matter has come up for informal discussion in various regular meetings of the First Presidency and the Twelve. There have been discussions for instance, about patriarchal blessings for Negroes and about the problems we might encounter in Brazil after the dedication of the Sao Paulo Temple. As a matter of historical fact, many of the early settlers in Brazil were Portuguese and African Negroes. There was extensive intermarriage. It is generally felt that an appreciable part of the Brazilian nation is now composed of people who have some degree or other of Negro blood in their veins. Many of these have no facial or other physical characteristics to indicate in any way that they have Negro ancestry. Many of our Church congregations, particularly in Northern Brazil, have in them full and part blood Negroes. The social problems existing in the United States are not found in Brazil to any appreciable degree and so this intermixture of races has not caused problems except with reference to priesthood ordinations and the prospects of temple blessings.”
I think this captures the mood of the social pressure against racism really well. Essentially, giving the priesthood to African-americans was only a problem for these racist white assholes, not for anybody who actually lived in Brazil where the new temple was being built.
After that it goes on to detail the last week of may and first week of June 1978 prior to the public statement issued by the church, anything jump out at you that you want to discuss from McConkie’s description of the series of events?
“President Kimball then advised the members of the Presidency and the Twelve that in recent months he had been giving extended serious, prayerful consideration to the matter of conferring the priesthood upon the Negroes and that he felt the need for divine guidance. He said that in recent weeks he had spent many hours alone there in the upper room in the temple pleading with the Lord for counsel and direction. He said he hoped the Lord would give a revelation one way or another and resolve the matter. He indicated that if it was the mind and will of the Lord that we continue in the present course, denying the priesthood to the descendants of Cain, that he was willing to sustain and support that decision and defend it with all its implications to the death. He said however, that if the Lord was willing to have the priesthood go to them, he hoped for a clear affirmation of this so there would be no question in anyone’s mind.”
“While President Kimball prayed, the revelation came. When he ceased to pray, there was a great pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit such as none of those present had ever before experienced. There are no words to describe what then happened. It was something that could only be felt in the hearts of the recipients and which can only be understood by the power of the Spirit…All of the Brethren at once knew and felt in their souls what the answer to the importuning petition of President Kimball was. All knew with one voice what the intent and purpose of the Lord was with reference to the priesthood. Nothing could have been more clearly and forcibly presented. Some of the Brethren were weeping. All were sober and somewhat overcome. When President Kimball stood up, several of the Brethren, in turn, threw their arms around him and each of the Brethren knew that an answer had been received and that the voice of the Lord had been heard. All knew what should be done.”
Mark E. Petersen was absent in Brazil during the meeting and Brother Delbert L. Stapley was ill in the hospital. Petersen was informed by phone call and Stapley was informed after the fact when the quorum went to his hospital room and told him about the new revelation.
What should we take away from McConkie’s sequence of these events?
What other information included in this 37-document flood should we know about?
“Evolution has its own church. Darwin, who how holds a position of influence in the courts of hell, is its patron saint. He has been canonized again and again and again by his disciples in the temples of learning. As he writhes and twists in burning agony on the spits of Sheol, he yet plots and plans other ways and means to deny the goodness of God and the atonement of his Son.”
“No one who is dealing with the true sciences ever seems to be perturbed if someone else contradicts their views. If I found fault with physics or chemistry or mathematics their exponents would smile and go their merry ways. They know the principles of their disciplines will stand on their own merits. Not so with evolution. Its principles, like those of other false religions, must be defended and championed lest some crack be found in their armor.”
What the hell is this 51-page document titled “How to start a cult”?
“Intellectual conceits: personality of Satan” “And what you may not know is that Lucifer means light bearer. He held the priesthood and a high position in the Church; he was a teacher; he taught in the Eternal University; he was head of the department of speculative theology; and he was dean of the college of liberal intellectuality. His mission was and is to teach, to expound, to persuade, to bear light to others according to the views and purposes of his own mind.”
Episode 61 – Congressional Deafening
On this week’s episode, we cover the first 3 months of 1840 when Jo met with the United States Congressional committee to petition them for redress for what the Saints had suffered in Missouri. The meeting met every day over a week’s time and increasingly became more skeptical with each day of discussion with Jo. Finally, a resident of Missouri makes it to the meeting to give his side of the conflict and the committee resolves that Missouri should handle Missouri’s problems. After that we have a bit of a longer Mormon Leaks Minute segment with correspondent, Ryan McKnight, to discuss a treasure trove of 37 leaked documents from Bruce McConkie’s unpublished personal writings. Patrons get an extra segment discussing McConkie’s hatred of evolution.
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Voicemail Line (864)Nake-dMo (625-3366)
A few episodes ago we suspended the historical timeline. We did this so we could invite my research partner, Cody Noconi of the Psilly Rabbits podcast, on to the show for an in-depth discussion of the Smith-Entheogen theory ramping up for Sunstone. Of course the previous episode was a wrap up of Sunstone where Marie and I discussed some of the presentations, including the Smith-entheogen presentation, and we talked about some of the other fun stuff we did in Utah while there for an extra couple days after Sunstone. At the end of this episode I’ll add a few concluding thoughts now that I’ve had time to process and reconnect with some of the people I met at Sunstone.
But now it’s finally time to jump back into our historical timeline to see what Jo and friends are up to lately. When we last were talking about Joseph Smith and company, the Quorum of the twelve were slowly making their way towards the east coast to board a ship bound for England where they would set up shop for over a year to proselyte to the unwashed Europeans hungry for the Mormon Jesus in their lives. At this same time, Jo, Rigdon, Pistol Packin’ Porter Rockwell, and Elias Higbee began their journey for Washington D.C. to petition the government for redress for what the Saints suffered in their time living in Missouri prior to being removed at the hands of the mob armed with the Mormon extermination order.
During this journey, Orson Pratt accompanied Jo and listened to a number of lectures he gave on his history as well as the history of the Book of Mormon, which he compiled into a pamphlet to be printed in Edinburgh titled, “An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions…”. This booklet served as some of the foundation for the Joseph Smith history which would be printed in the newly circulating Times and Season in a few year’s time.
After reading through that for patrons only, we discussed Jo’s meeting with the POTUS, Martin Van Buren, who promptly turned Jo out of the white house once he learned of Jo’s reasons for calling the meeting. The POTUS was worried about the next election cycle and knew that if he gave the Mormons anything that he would, “come in contact with the whole state of Missouri”. Once again, politics got in the way of making a moral decision.
After this meeting, Jo, Rigdon and Higbee were stuck in D.C. waiting for a meeting with Congress to attempt to go over the President’s head.
This helping of milk gets us ready to chomp into some meat, so let’s get to the beginning of 1840.
Some interesting developments occurred during the first month of 1840. Jo didn’t want the meeting with Congress to go as unfortunately for the Saints as had the meeting with President Van Buren, so he decided to get some things in order. In a letter he sent right after his meeting with the president, he directly petitioned some of the leaders to make affidavits describing what they’d experienced in Missouri at the hands of the militia. They were making any possible argument they could to Congress that their constitutional rights had been violated, all in hopes that the government would understand the plight of the Mormons and take pity on them in the form of a huge payout. Here’s the line from Jo’s letter dated Dec. 7th, 1839, sent to the church in Commerce, Illinois, taken from page 43 of the Dan Vogel HoC source and text critical edition.
“We want you to assist us now; and also to forward us your certificates, that you hold for lands in Missouri; your claims to preemption rights, and affidavits to prove that soldiers were quartered on us and in our houses without our consent, or any special act of law for that purpose; contrary to the Constitution of the United States. We think brother Ripley and others will recollect circumstances and facts relative to this matter.—You will also recollect the circumstances of brother Joseph and others, being refused the privilege of habeas corpus by the authorities of Missouri.
These facts must be authenticated by affidavits. Let any particular transaction of the outrages in Missouri that can be sworn to by the sufferers, or those who were eye-witnesses to the facts, be sent; specifying the particulars. Have the evidence bona fide to the point.”
The trusted leaders were happy to oblige with the request to forward Jo’s mission in petitioning the government for redress. Here are a few excerpts from subsequent pages in the Dan Vogel HoC:
“I, Simeon Carter, certify that I have been a resident of the State of Missouri for six years and upwards, and that I have suffered many things by a lawless mob; both me and my family having been driven from place to place, and suffered the loss of much property, and finally expelled from the State.”
“I, [William F. Cahoon], hereby certify that in the year 1838 I was residing in Daviess county, Missouri, and while from home I was taken prisoner in Far West, by the militia and kept under guard for six or eight days, in which time I was forced to sign a deed of trust, after which I was permitted to return home to my family in Daviess county, and found them surrounded by an armed force, with the rest of my neighbors, who were much frightened… We were not permitted to go from place to place without a pass from the General, and on leaving the county I received a pass as follows:--“I permit William F. Cahoon, to pass from Daviess to Caldwell county, and there remain during the winter, and thence to pass out of the State of Missouri.
In which time both me and my family suffered much on account of cold and hunger, because we were not permitted to go outside of the guard to obtain wood and provision,…”
“I[, John M. Burk,] hereby certify that General John Clark and his Aid, at their arrival at Far West in Caldwell county, Missouri, came to my tavern stand, and without my leave, pitched their marquees in my yard, and did take my wood and hay to furnish the same, and did bring their horses in also, and without my leave, take hay for them, and did take possession of my house, and use it for a council house, and did place a strong guard around it, so as to hinder any person from going in or out, and I myself was not permitted to go in and out; for all this I have received no remuneration, and was not even permitted to pass out of town to water travelers’ horses without a permit…I also certify that Baldwin, Wight, Hyrum [& Joseph] Smith, and McRae, in Clay county, Missouri, did apply for a writ of habeas corpus and did not get it.”
I’ll spare you reading any more as they kind of all say similar things, but there are affidavits from Jedediah Owen, T. Alvord, William Hawk, Timothy Clark, Urban Stewart, and quite a few other Saints who all claimed they had suffered extensively at the hands of the militia during their time in Missouri.
The next few pages detail some very unimportant occurrences that don’t really need to be discussed in depth. Basically, some of the quorum of the Twelve, especially Bloody Brigham Young, were making their way towards the coast constantly hindered by sickness, sometimes not making progress for weeks at a time.
Skipping over those accounts, we finally get to the end of February of 1840, when Jo is finally granted a Congressional audience to hear his pleas for redress. Granted, he wasn’t in front of the entire house, they just appointed a special committee to hear the complaints over a week-long period from the 20th to the 26th.
Jo and Elias Higbee represented the Mormons during these hearings and they recount the proceedings rather well in letters they sent to the brethren in Commerce after each day, and all these letters are included in the HoC Vol 4.
We won’t read the letters in their entirety, but I am going to read important extracts from each one and we’ll discuss them as we go along.
The first letter is dated Feb 20th, 1840 and it begins as follows:
“Dear Brother:--I have just returned from the Committee Room, wherein I spoke about one hour and a half. There were but three of the committee present, for which I am very sorry. I think they will be obliged to acknowledge the justice of our cause. They paid good attention; and I think my remarks were well received. It was a special meeting appointed to hear me by my request.—The Missouri Senators and Representatives were invited to attend. Dr. Linn, and Mr. Jamieson attended, and God gave me courage so that I was not intimidated by them. Dr. Linn, I thought, felt a little uneasy at times; but manifested a much better spirit afterwards, than Mr. Jamieson.”
This sets our scene. The committee was made up of a few representatives from Missouri, who were not present for this first hearing. Instead, only 3 of the appointed committee were in attendance to hear Jo’s petition, Dr. Linn, Mr. Jamieson, and an unnamed person who doesn’t seem to make an appearance in any of these letters.
“I told them firstly, that I represented a suffering people, who had been deprived, together with myself, of their rights in Missouri; who numbered something like fifteen thousand souls; and not only they, but many others were deprived of the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States. At least the amount of one hundred and fifty thousand free-born citizens are deprived the enjoyment of citizenship in each or every state; that we had no ingress in the State of Missouri; nor could any of us have only at the expense of our lives; and this by the order of the Executive.
I then took their own declaration of the cause of our expulsion; referred them to P. P. Pratt’s pamphlet, which I held in my hand; then showed that the first accusation, therein contained, was on account of our religious tenets; furthermore, that the others were utterly groundless. I went on to prove that the whole persecution from beginning to end, was grounded on our religious faith. For evidence of this, I referred them to Porter Rockwell’s testimony, and P. Powell’s. I stated that there was abundant testimony to prove this to be a fact, among the documents…”
Jo then tells them an extremely biased version of the history of the Saints in Missouri, no doubt painting a solemn and persecution ridden picture for these congressmen to contend with. It continues with Jo getting a little forceful with the situation, which I think may have served to his detriment.
“I demanded from them a restitution of all our rights and privileges as citizens of the United States, and damages for all the losses we had sustained in consequence of our persecutions and expulsion from the State; and told them we could have recourse no where else on earth that I knew of; that we could not sue an army of soldiers, neither could we go into the State to sue anyone else. I told them that I knew not how far Congress had jurisdiction in this case, or how far they had not; but as far as they had, we claimed the exercise of it for our relief; for we were an injured people.”
The next paragraph gets to an interesting point, exhibiting why Jo was seeing Congress for this in the first place, and Jo makes a really good point.
“Mr. Linn then said he wished me to answer one thing, viz: If the Legislature of Missouri did not refuse to investigate the subject of our difficulties solely on account of the trials then pending. In reply I assured him that I knew they had refused us an investigation; but as to that being the cause, I did not know, but told him they might have done it, when those trials were discharged. He seemed to think it injustice for Congress to take it up before the Legislature had acted on it.”
This will end up coming into play at the end of these letters, but essentially Mr. Linn asked Jo if he thought that the Missouri investigation into the matter was tabled just because the trial for the Mormon leadership was underway. This may be the case, but it introduces some interesting paradoxes that Missouri was able to weasel out from underneath instead of properly investigating the legality of removing the Mormons.
When the Mormons were chased out of Missouri and Jo and the leadership were arrested, they held off full investigation until the leadership could be properly convicted of treason. They figured it would be sometime in mid-1839 that a ruling would come down convicting Jo and Rigdon of high treason against the United States, which would allow the state to pin all legal fault on the Mormons and essentially relieve the state of Missouri of any fault. The thing is, Jo and the leadership had escaped prison upon being moved to Boone county for a hearing on a writ of habeas corpus they drew up, which essentially absolved Missouri of the need to even investigate because the whole problem had been swept under the rug. So the question Linn asked Jo was tantamount to asking if he would submit to Missouri’s investigation, which would imply that if fault was found on the part of the Mormons that Jo would suffer the legal repercussions; which, if Missouri could prove treason, meant the death penalty.
Missouri handling the investigation made for a lot of long-term ramifications which may have benefitted the Saints in the long run, but probably meant that Jo would spend considerable time in prison if he could be convicted of the crimes. This might be why Jo was trying to go over Missouri’s head in the first place in meeting with the United States Congress. He could provide a one-sided telling of the Missouri-Mormon war. If he could get these congressmen on his side without them knowing the nuance and confusion of everything which happened during the conflict, the Mormons could have been given a positive ruling, holding Missouri at fault for what happened, which would have been beneficial to Jo in more than just economic ways.
At the end of the meeting that day, Mr. Linn told Jo of something he was a bit afraid given what he had told the committee.
“Mr. Linn observed, that there was a gentleman whom he would have before the Committee on the morrow, who lived in the upper part of Missouri, that knew everything relative to the affair. I presume he is to put in his gab. I suppose I must attend the committee, as I am solicited by the Chairman; but I would rather take a flogging; because I must sit still, and hear a volubility of lies concerning myself and brethren. Lies I say, for they have nothing but lies to tell, that will in the least degree justify their conduct in Missouri.”
After that, Mr. Linn tells Jo that he sent a letter to Judge King asking for the documents generated during the November court of inquiry, so he could see the available testimony upon which King had thrown them in jail.
“In my remarks I stated that an Article of the Constitution was violated in granting compulsory process, for witnesses in behalf of the prisoners; and that the main evidence adduced, upon which they were committed, was from Dr. Avard; who once belonged to our society, and was compelled to swear as suited them best, in order to save his life; that I knew him to be a man whose character was the worst I ever knew in all my associations, or intercourse with mankind; and that I had evidence by affidavits before them, of five or six respectable men, to prove that all he swore to was false.”
Remember back to the court of inquiry episode number 50, we read through a ton of testimonies provided by more than just Dr. Sampson Avard which implicated Jo and the leadership in a number of military-like actions against the citizens and militia of Missouri. Avard’s testimony was a substantial nail in Jo’s coffin, but his testimony wasn’t necessary to prove everything, it just proved that the Danite Manifesto was a legitimate document. Jo was absolutely terrified of this committee learning the other side of things from Avard’s testimony or from this unnamed Missourian who would be attending the meeting tomorrow. He could control the information the committee heard when it was just them and him in the room, but the truth would very quickly shine a spotlight on Jo’s faults, which he obviously wanted to keep hidden for as long as possible.
In the committee meeting the next day, Jo was happy that the Missourian couldn’t make it, but one of the people on the committee had educated himself a bit since the previous day’s meeting and leveled some accusations which are important to take in context. We spent the 10 historical timeline episodes from 40 to 50 covering the Missouri-Mormon war, so if you need a refresher, the backlog awaits.
The opening paragraph of Jo’s letter after the next day’s hearing exhibits that Mr. Jamieson understood the situation better than what Jo had anticipated.
“Mr. Linn and Mr. Jamieson made some remarks, to which I replied.—Mr. Linn is much more mild and reasonable than Mr. Jamieson, who related a long lingo of stuff, which he said was proven before the Legislature, which amounted to about this: that Joseph Smith gave the Mormons liberty to trespass on their neighbors’ property; also told them, that it all belonged to them; as they were Israelites. Upon the strength of this they became the aggressors. I replied that the Jackson county people in their declaration of causes that induced them to unite in order to drive the Mormons, the crime of stealing, or trespassing, was not mentioned; and there was no docket, either clerk’s or justice’s, that could show it, in Jackson, Clay, Caldwell, or in Daviess counties; and that no man ever heard such teaching or doctrine from Joseph Smith or any other “Mormon”; that we held to no such doctrine, neither believed in any such thing.”
That’s really loaded. Let’s debunk what Jo said line upon line. Mr Jamieson accused Jo of telling the Mormons, the Danites specifically, to go and steal the goods from the Missourians in Daviess county. That accusation is true, and the justification Jo used was that the goods and livestock were owned by Gentiles and the Danites needed to appropriate the consecrated property for the storehouse. But, Jo told them to do so because the Mormons were starving and wouldn’t survive the winter because the Missourians had chased them out of Carrol county, creating a starving refugee crisis which needed to be dealt with somehow, and stealing was the only option the Mormon leadership could think of. Jo responded to this accusation by saying the Missourians started it and that there was no mention of the crimes they’d committed against the Mormons in the first place which put them in the place of desperation. Both of those are accurate assessments of the situation. Then, however, Jo unequivocally lies about the justification the Mormons used to consecrate the Gentile’s property. Jo preached that he would be a new Mohammed to this generation and that peace would come by the sword, after which the Danites caused peace in Daviess county by removing any non-Mormon Missourians living there. The situation is too messy to ascertain the truth in a few hour and a half-long meetings as was held between Jo and this investigative committee. Let’s read one more excerpt from the letter after this second meeting because it illustrates a marked shift from the attitude of the first meeting to how the committee was reacting to day #2 of conversation about the conflict.
“I made these remarks partly from motives which I may at another time explain to you. He laid great stress on the trials at Richmond, and a constitution, that he said Avard and others swore to; then went on to relate what it contained, and that it was written by Sidney Rigdon. I flatly denied it, and I could bring all the Mormons, both men, women, and children, besides myself, that would swear before all the world, that no such thing ever existed, nor was thought of among the Mormons.”
That constitution Jo and the committee were discussing was the Danite manifesto, which Avard took a copy of and swore an affidavit of its truth when he defected and provided testimony against the Mormon leadership during the court of inquiry. Jo flatly denied the existence of it. I can understand why, because it was essentially a document organizing a Mormon militia and declaring war against anybody who stands against Jo and the leadership, which sure makes Jo look like a military leader. If a case could be made that he acted in the capacity of a military leader, inciting insurrection against the government of Missouri, the government has its case made for it and whatever the Mormons suffered doesn’t matter because it was treasonous.
Another interesting point the committee made was that Jo needed to provide documentation showing the value of the Saints land which had been lost. The government wasn’t going to pay out any dollar amount to the Mormons unless they could back it up.
“They inquired very particularly concerning how much land we had entered there, and how much of it yet remained unsold; when Mr. Corwin observed that we had never entered much land there, but were squatters. I then described the size of Caldwell and Daviess counties, giving an explanation on these matters.”
That’s an incredibly relevant point. Most of the land the Mormons had settled was, indeed, untamed countryside and possession of land back then often did amount to Americans moving to a place and improving the land and eventually the government would consider the land theirs. The Mormons were trying to do that, but the Missourians didn’t want them there so they chased them out before squatter’s rights actually kicked in. The point is, the Mormons paid for very little of the land on which they had settled. They paid for the goods and shouldered the costs of improving the land, but they didn’t pay anybody for actual land deeds, making estimations of their land value a very challenging proposition.
Jo and Higbee’s recounting of the next day marks an even harsher shift in the perception of the committee. The committee’s friend from Missouri finally made it to the meeting and offered his insights to what happened in Missouri during his time there.
“I am just informed by General Wall, (the Chairman of the committee) before whom, or to whom our business is referred, that the decision is against us, or in other words unfavorable; that they believe redress can only be had in Missouri; the Courts and Legislature. He says, they will report this week. I desire to get a copy of it, and also the papers. I feel a conscience void of offense towards God and man in this matter;…I feel now that we have made our last appeal to all earthly tribunals; that we should now put our whole trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We have a right now which we could not heretofore so fully claim; That is of asking God for redress and redemption, as they have been refused us by man.”
Things don’t get any better after that. The judgement of the investigative committee was delivered on March 4th, 1840, of which these are the important takeaways.
“The petition is drawn up at great length, and sets forth with feeling and eloquence, the wrongs of which they complain, justifies their own conduct, and aggravates that of those whom they call their persecutors, and concludes by saying they see no redress, unless it be obtained of the Congress of the United States, to whom they make their solemn, last appeal, as American citizens, as Christians, and as men; to which decision they say they will submit.
The Committee have examined the case presented by the Petition, and heard the views urged by their agent, with care and attention: and after full examination and consideration, unanimously concur in the opinion, that the case presented for their investigation is not such a one as will justify or authorize any interposition by this Government…
The grievances complained of in the Petition are alleged to have been done within the State of Missouri.—The Committee under these circumstances, have not considered themselves justified in inquiring into the truth or falsehood of the facts charged in the Petition. If they are true, the petitioners must seek relief in the courts of Judicature of the State of Missouri, or of the United States, which has the appropriate jurisdiction to administer full and adequate redress for the wrongs complained of, and doubtless will do so fairly and impartially; or the petitioners may if they see proper, apply to the justice and magnanimity of the State of Missouri—an appeal which the Committee feel justified in believing will never be made in vain by the injured or oppressed.
It can never be presumed that a State either wants the power or lacks the disposition to redress the wrongs of its own citizens, committed within her own territory, whether they proceed from the lawless acts of her officers or any other persons. The Committee therefore report that they recommend the passage of the following Resolution:--
Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be discharged from the further consideration of the Memorial in this case; and that the memorialists have leave to withdraw the papers which accompany their Memorial.”
As was probably the right decision, the Congressional committee left it up to the State of Missouri to deal with the Mormon problem. But, Jo refused to step foot inside the state again. He’d escaped once already and knew that if he went back to Missouri for any reason he’d be arrested and held for trial, which is the proper way to handle the Missouri-Mormon conflict. Let’s work with a couple hypotheticals here to see what the outcome may have been for the Mormons had Jo faced the music.
Proposed hypothetical: After this congressional committee denied him and sent him back to the Missouri government for redress, let’s just say Jo went back to Richmond and met with the State legislature petitioning for redress for what the Mormons suffered. He would have been promptly arrested and had evasion of law enforcement added to his record, which would only worsen the sentence he would inevitably receive. But, he would spend some time in jail while the state gathered the evidence they needed to convict Jo of treason while him and General Doniphan compiled their defense case. This likely would have taken over a year to get to the bottom of, and Jo probably would have been convicted of treason and sentenced to the gallows, assuming he made it that far without a vigilante mob taking care of the problem long before the hearing.
Nested in that hypothetical are a couple of possible outcomes though… Let’s just say that Doniphan was as good of a lawyer as the Mormons thought he was and could successfully defend Jo against all allegations, including military treason. The state would be forced to admit fault and be held accountable for tens or even hundreds of thousands in damage against the Mormons, undoubtedly worthy of a state Supreme Court ruling to come down with because it was such a high-profile case. But, Missouri was the original state where the Dredd Scott case was originally brought up, so I wouldn’t exactly trust their judgement on what was actually fair.
Let’s just keep running with that hypothetical positive outcome for Jo and the Mormons. They would have been paid for their trouble, and likely would have been given license to resettle on the lands they’d been chased from, and Governor Lilburn Boggs undoubtedly would have suffered repercussions for the Extermination order. In the best possible outcome scenario, Jackson County would have been opened back up to the Mormons and they could go about settling the untamed lands around their declared promised land, Independence. They may have even been permitted, through much trial and tribulation against the citizens, to build their revered temple on the dedicated plot to bring about the second coming of Jesus.
Nauvoo Illinois likely would never have been a thing and Jo probably wouldn’t have died in Carthage. Granted, this line of illogic is constructed purely of hypothetical built upon hypothetical given the best possible outcome for the Mormons. But, even if it was incomprehensibly fleeting, there was a chance that this situation would have turned out in the favor of the saints, thus forever altering the course of American history.
My overall point with these hypotheticals is to point out that the system existed in a way that could have delivered justice to the Mormons. Of course, that system is heavily influenced by the constituent people who make up said system, and their biases can’t always be parsed out and disconnected from the system, but it’s constructed in a way which attempts to be most just for the most people. Jo could have gone down the proper legal avenues. There’s no telling what the outcome could have been, but he could have done the right thing instead of trying to go over Missouri’s head with his bullshit petition to Congress which they wholly rejected on the grounds that Jo was skipping the proper legal steps.
Jo knew how things were going after the first meetings and didn’t even stick around for the judgement. The same day it was delivered, he made his way back to Nauvoo, and this is the entry for March 4th 1840 on page 72 in the Vogel HoC.
“I arrived safely at Nauvoo, after a wearisome journey, through alternate snows and mud, having witnessed many vexatious movements in Government Officers, whose sole object should be, the peace and prosperity, and happiness of the whole people; but instead of this, I discovered that popular clamor, and personal aggrandizement were the ruling principles of those in authority; and my heart faints within me when I see by the visions of the Almighty, the end of this nation, if she continues to disregard the cries and petitions of her virtuous citizens, as she has done, and is now doing.
On my way home I did not fail to proclaim the iniquity and insolence of Martin Van Buren, towards myself and an injured people, which will have its effect upon the public mind: and may he never be elected again to any office of Trust or Power, by which he may abuse the innocent and let the guilty go free.”
This meeting was a complete and utter failure for Jo and the Mormons. The only thing left they could do was to accept the outcome of the congressional committee hearing and go through the proper channels of the Missouri government, but Jo, understandably, refused to go back, so the Mormons and the government were at an impasse. This is how it would remain for the rest of Jo’s life.
The Missouri investigative committee had tabled investigation into the Missouri-Mormon conflict until July of 1839 as that’s when they expected to have a criminal hearing on Jo, but that hearing never happened and the investigation into the faults of the Missouri government never happened either.
A little history can go a long way towards shattering modern-day perceptions. I’ve heard the story of the Mormons being chased out of Jackson County and Missouri as a whole glossed over dozens of times, completely ignoring the important nuance which puts things into context. It’s often told in a way something along the lines of, “The saints suffered religious persecution in Missouri and were chased out by the mobs and were never repaid for all the property and goods the mob stole.” Actually, none of that sentence is completely true, every bit of it lacks full truth in some way shape or form. Let me revise that sentence to make it more accurate, and this is how I make the case that a little history can go a long way. “The Mormons suffered vigilante violence common of alien groups in frontier 19th century America. After months of armed conflict with small groups of casualties, the Missouri government mobilized nearly 5000 militia-men to end the Mormon problem in Missouri once and for all, and they were subsequently removed from the state. Joseph Smith, fearing the death penalty for high treason against the United States government, sought redress for what the saints suffered, but the US government kicked the issue back to the Missouri government where the issue should have been handled in the first place. Instead of going through the proper legal channels for recourse, Joseph wouldn’t set foot back in Missouri to face the consequences of his actions, and the Mormons were never repaid for their loss of property and life.”
You see, that single sentence before heaped on such a pile of steaming bullshit and couched the hearers knowledge of the conflict as a solely religious persecution, ignored every bit of nuance, and painted the Mormons as victims, and it required my 4 sentences just now to unpack everything and try to set the record somewhat straight, and even I just glazed over the whole scenario. My point is, in order to debunk that single sentence claim from earlier, it requires reading a number of books and understanding the social and political dynamic between the Missouri and Mormons over the span from 1831-1840. That takes a lot of work to understand. It’s so much easier to say, the Saints were persecuted, massacred, and ultimately chased out of Missouri because of the Extermination order.
We can’t judge the truth of a religion or a prophet based on persecution alone, but that’s how it’s so often perceived by the followers of said religion or prophet. If the followers can somehow paint Joseph Smith as a righteous and pious man who was persecuted apropos of nothing, it fits their narrative and somehow translates to him being a true prophet, while the unwashed masses personify the adversary with each and every persecution. If we look at Jo in context, nothing we see lends any credibility to him as a prophet, whatever a prophet might be. Instead we just see a dude with overpowering vices who was incredibly inept and ill-educated, constantly making very human mistakes and looking for easy answers to his problems, and, when no easy answer existed, he usually ran away from the problems he’d created for himself. If we judge the righteousness of a person based solely on persecution, wouldn’t Hitler be our forerunning modern-day prophet? At the time of his death, hundreds of millions of people wanted him dead and were persecuting the Nazi’s, massacring them and chasing them out of Poland, France, Belgium, Africa, Russia, and everywhere else they’d settled under their glorious leader. Most major world governments were persecuting the Nazis constantly since their rise under the great prophet Addie.
The point I’m trying to make is context in history really matters. We have to understand historical figures like Jo and Addie in proper context to paint a wholistic picture of them and what they did. You see how problematic it becomes when we claim truth based solely on persecution? A true religion, persecution does not make.
Church on Sunday
Copyright Ground Gnomes LLC subject to fair use. Citation example: "Naked Mormonism Podcast (or NMP), Ep #, original air date 08/07/2017"