New LDS Church Web page provides context for conflicts among 19th-century Mormons

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    May 16, 2014 9:38 p.m.

    Rather than enter the debate which perpetuates LDS-Non LDS animosities, I choose to relate the following experience:
    Several years ago, my brother in law and sister were serving a family history mission in Jefferson City, Missouri. One of their responsibilities was to help with the filming of Missouri wills. We visited them at the Jefferson City Archives, where we were offered a tour of the facilities by the gentleman in charge. We were given royal treatment! He took us into parts of the archives that not many tourists are allowed to see.
    At the conclusion of our tour, he presented us with a copy of the Boggs extermination order along with its Twentieth Century rescindment with this comment: "We had our disagreements a generation or two ago but now we're working together for each other's benefit."
    Wouldn't we all be better off with that attitude?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 16, 2014 10:59 a.m.

    The belief that Mormons were driven out of the country and fled to the West to find refuge is largely a colorful myth passed down from generation to generation in Mormon cultural legend. It is true that the situation in Nauvoo had become precarious due to hostilities for which both sides must share blame. But the migration to the West had been discussed and planned since long before the murders of Joseph and Hyrum. It was destined to happen and must be seen as one segment of the larger saga of Americans moving west.

    There were many Mormons who remained behind. They were scattered across the Midwest in enclaves that would form a nucleus for splinter groups, most notably the Reorganized Church which is today’s Community of Christ.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    May 16, 2014 10:18 a.m.

    You do realize that most of the stories about the "Danites" is false right? If you research historical records that the claims that the Danites did, was all refuted because people were in another part of the country when the event happened (OP Rockwell was the most targeted).

    Was there are group called "Danites"? Yes, but when they started crossing the line of normal defense, Joseph Smith put a stop to it. In fact their main leaders (Sampson Avard) was removed from the church.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    May 16, 2014 10:08 a.m.


    Please define "Big" when you are referring to big groups staying.....

    As for your Emma Comment, Yes Emma did not come west because of some miscommunication between her and Brigham. Add to that there were others trying to drive a wedge between them (Ammon Babbit is one of them). But to say she "stayed" is not entirely true, she moved north to get out of Nauvoo to avoid the very real threat. She lived outside of Nauvaoo for several years, then she remarried a non LDS man (Bidemon) who took care of her property.

    As for the other members.. no one actually stayed in Nauvoo, they left and went to other communities making sure that no one knew they were "Mormon".

    If you want a non slanted book about OP Rockwell, read Harold Schindler book on him.. debunks 80 percent of the Danites myths..... by the way, I don't think he is LDS.

  • RoyceN Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2014 11:27 a.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations

    The church manuals in my opinion are commonly very slanted taken out of context, twisted and sometimes outright deceptive.

    For you to say the early saints were unjustly forced out of places proves that you believe the white washed history of the church that they provide in the manuals.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    May 14, 2014 11:18 a.m.


    What is the context?

    Have you never been part of a sports team during a pep talk? The Mormons viewed themselves as having chosen to live differently than others which would lead people to believe they were not capable of "worldly activities", essentially that they were weak and stupid. I suppose if Brigham Young had added "and so we will do these things" I might see your point.

    As the LDS article pointed out Brigham Young used firey language to rally his people. Have you never said something to the effect, "I'm going to kill so and so" as a means of making your point that you are displeased about something? If so, should we then arrest you for making death threats against someone?

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    May 14, 2014 10:35 a.m.


    For more details on the matter, please refer to "Church History In The Fulness Of Times" Student Manual. This is on the church's website under manuals for Institute.

    Below are some select chapters from this manual for starters. You will see the church doesn't whitewash its history and that the Mormons were forcibly removed on various occasions. Please check it out for yourself:

    * Chapter Eleven: Expulsion from Jackson County
    * Chapter Sixteen: Missouri Persecutions and Expulsion
    * Chapter Twenty One: Growing Conflict in Illinois
    * Chapter Twenty-Two: The Martyrdom

    If you have time, read the whole manual. There is a lot of good content. It will be an eye opener to you.

    Keep in mind anti-Mormon material on church history is commonly very slanted, taken out of context, twisted, and sometimes outright deceptive. The church's manual is a much better resource for you.

  • RoyceN Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2014 10:06 a.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations

    "The Mormons, as a group, did not have a say where to settle. When their numbers were large enough, they were kicked out violently and unjustly on multiple occasions."

    Where do you get this from? They weren't kicked out and they choose to go to the Utah territory so they could get out of the United States and be where it wasn't illegal to practice polygamy.

    You do realize there were big groups of Mormons that stayed. Even Joesph's first wife Emma Smith stayed. Why didn't she get kicked out violently?

  • donn layton, UT
    May 14, 2014 10:06 a.m.

    RE: Jeanie,The Mormons weren't perfect, as outlined in this article and in Mr. Jones book, but in the balance they tried to be fair, especially Brigham Young.

    “I have many a time, in this stand, dared the world to produce as mean devils as we can; we can beat them at anything. We have the greatest and smoothest liars in the world, the cunningest and most adroit thieves, and any other shade of character that you can mention. We can pick out Elders in Israel right here who can beat the world at gambling, who can handle the cards, cut and shuffle them with the smartest rogue on the face of God's footstool. I can produce Elders here who can shave their smartest shavers, and take their money from them. We can beat the world at any game. We can beat them, because we have men here that live in the light of the Lord, that have the Holy Priesthood, and hold the keys of the kingdom of God.” (JoD v. 4 p.77)

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    May 14, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    Craig Clark:

    "Unlike Mormons, the tribes had no say as to where they would settle."

    The Mormons, as a group, did not have a say where to settle. When their numbers were large enough, they were kicked out violently and unjustly on multiple occasions. You make it sound like the early Mormons had the luxury of going where ever they wanted. Nothing can be more far from the truth. Mormons eventually had to leave the country for safety!

    "There will always be plenty of matter for debate and disagreement as to what happened and why."

    That is part of the problem, Craig. This cannot be viewed merely as an academic exercise and debate for knowing the 'what' and the 'why.' These are real people we are talking about that had horrendous evils inflicted upon them. Lightly put, Mormons on the whole were bullied -- they were not the bullies.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 14, 2014 7:56 a.m.

    The significance of this essay is that the Church is owning its history, the bad along with the good. It sticks to known facts and provides an accurate account. There will always be plenty of matter for debate and disagreement as to what happened and why.

  • ksampow Farr West, Utah
    May 14, 2014 7:47 a.m.

    Joseph Smith and Brigham Young condemned the actions of the Danites (a secret group of misguided individuals) and clearly taught (as does the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants) that the only appropriate use of violence is in self-defense, which specifically excludes seeking revenge. As with any religion, there were those who did not follow the teachings. Some anti-Mormons even posed as Danites to frighten Missourians and to incite more Anti-Mormon fervor.

    To all of those who discussed the plight of American Indians: the barbaric treatment of American Indians in no way lessens the severity of the anti-Mormon atrocities. Both were appalling. And it is worth mentioning that Mormons of ALL nationalities and ethnic backgrounds were subjected to persecution for one reason alone: their religion.

  • Dante Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2014 7:42 a.m.

    Without excusing any group of any of the numerous conflicts of that era, we would do well not to judge early 19th Century behavior from the biases of our 21st Century standards. Times change. Many of these horrific acts occurred on the raw and lawless frontier where education was scarce, illiteracy was common, media information dissemination was in its infancy, and vigilante justice was often the only justice available.

  • Jamescmeyer Midwest City, USA, OK
    May 14, 2014 6:47 a.m.

    Discarding the accurate accounts gleaned by others as "whitewashed" renders suspect whatever you next say on the matter. The Church is also no more transparent now than it has ever been. It has always had this sort of information available, in the way it now says, though not in such a convenient place or manner.

    The danites were a group of people in the Church who began to make oaths with one another to "avenge" the Church, and that Joseph Smith denounced. They were from then on not "Mormon" in the sense of exercizing the will of the Church. They took no secret orders from Joseph Smith, they were no one's bodyguards, they were not lead by Porter Rockwell, or probably most things people like to say to make the Church look like some sort of mafia.

    1.96 Standard Deviations never said that the LDS Church were the only people expelled from their lands-multiple times-at gunpoint. Everything in his post is completely accurate.

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    May 14, 2014 12:09 a.m.

    War. There is always the collateral damage. Today we have drones. Innocent people are always killed during wartime. Canvas bombing of German cities. Atomic bombs on cities in Japan.

    The Mormons beat the US army in the war caused by erroneous reports sent to President Buchanan.

    Missouri wagon trains traveling through the Utah territory spread the paranoia that the U.S. Army, approaching the Salt Lake Valley, had rape, pillaging and plundering as their stated objective. This caused collateral damage by reflex....Mountain Meadows.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    May 13, 2014 10:11 p.m.


    Probably one of the best primary sources of the Mormon's relations with the American Indians is the personal account of Daniel W. Jones in his memoir "40 Years Among the Indians". His first hand account is fascinating. The Mormons weren't perfect, as outlined in this article and in Mr. Jones book, but in the balance they tried to be fair, especially Brigham Young.

  • donn layton, UT
    May 13, 2014 9:13 p.m.

    RE: Jeanie, Over all the Indians respected Brigham Young and he treated them fairly?

    The Danites, a group of Mormon men organized and active under Joseph Smith (before the Mormons moved to Utah Territory), functioned as a sort of secret police:“ Men handpicked for their skill with guns and their courage, the Danites were sworn to secrecy and invested with cabalistic handshakes and signals. They would prove, across nearly half a century, well into Brigham Young’s reign in Utah, a devastatingly effective cadre of assassins, targeting apostates, enemies, rich Gentiles, and even Indians–in effect, the KGB of the Mormon church.” (David Roberts, Devil’s Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy.

    The Danites, as a named organization, was discontinued after 1838. But as the Mormon vigilante philosophy continued to function under Brigham Young, it was closely tied to the Mormon doctrine of individual blood atonement.

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    May 13, 2014 5:08 p.m.

    NedGrimley -- There is not a living person responsible for the things described on either side. No one left to take responsibility. It makes no sense to blame, punish or persecute the descendants of either (any) sides of these conflicts, incidents and crimes. As stated at beginning and ending of the essay, these events in absolutely no way reflect the actions, attitudes, policy or beliefs of the present day LDS Church. Certainly given the international nature of the church, including those in the many political and unstable hot spots in the world, problems most certainly and statistically exist. But they are not institutional.

    The essay seems rather thorough and as deprecating as necessary, as well as being written in the spirit of apology (where none is required as described above). Not sure what more needs doing.

  • tennerifa Orem, UT
    May 13, 2014 3:27 p.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations:
    It would appear that you are well versed in some of the white washed stories of the early Church. The LDS Church seems to be becoming more open, and less revisionist about early history, and for that I applaud them.
    If you will do even some elementary research about the early history of the Church, you will find that the original members/leaders were complicit in (at least much of)the poor treatment they received at the hands of others. That is not to say that they deserved the poor treatment, but neither were they entirely innocent of wrong doing themselves.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    May 13, 2014 3:20 p.m.


    Could you please tell us where we can read journals from the other side? I'd be interested.

    As far as 1.95 being more insensitive, what evidence can you give that the violence was indeed equal on both sides?

    Incidentially, the Mormon settlers (for the most part) treated the indians with more respect than the US Government did. One of the few things some of the Indians had against Brigham Young was he did everything he could to stop the Indian slave trade (Indians kidnapping other indian’s children and selling them as slaves into Mexico.) Over all the Indians respected Brigham Young and he treated them fairly. Maybe because they were both opressed by the government in power.

  • RoyceN Salt Lake City, UT
    May 13, 2014 2:48 p.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations

    I think you have only gotten one side of the story. Of course you haven't read the journals of the ancestors from the other side of the violence so its not really fair for you to say "the persecution and violence was much, much, more one-sided against the Mormons". It seems a bit more insensitive than Craig saying blame both sides.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 13, 2014 1:57 p.m.

    1.96 Standard Deviations,

    " many other minority groups are you aware of in United States history that were forcefully expelled, essentially by gunpoint, from various states and eventually had to move out of the entire country?...."

    The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forcibly removed the Cherokee and other Indian nations from their homelands to designated regions called Indian territory. Unlike Mormons, the tribes had no say as to where they would settle. Nor did they have the option of staying put as did Mormons who chose to remain behind rather than go West with Brigham Young. A bit of a larger perspective might help out here.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    May 13, 2014 1:49 p.m.

    Ah, that we could all take responsibility "and move on..."

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    May 13, 2014 1:13 p.m.

    Craig Clark:

    Your comment is pretty insensitive. The early Mormon church members were not perfect as the church article shows, but it is definitely not fair to say there is "ample" to blame on both sides. The persecution and violence was much, much, more one-sided against the Mormons. Had these early Mormons been your own ancestors, and you read their journals of what happened to them, your view would definitely be a bit more compassionate.

    Keep in mind Mormons are the ONLY religious group in the history of this country to have an extermination order issued against them! It was made legal to murder Mormons in cold blood!

    Also, how many other minority groups are you aware of in United States history that were forcefully expelled, essentially by gunpoint, from various states and eventually had to move out of the entire country? This happened to the Mormons.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 13, 2014 12:09 p.m.

    There is ample blame on both sides for the violent conflict between Mormon’s and their non-Mormon neighbors in the 1800s. In my view, religious persecution as a factor has been overblown in the Mormon retelling of what happened and why. America has had a turbulent past. It’s time for all sides to take responsibility and move on.