A book by Charles River Editors
I’m not a Mormon, so I’m not super privy to LDS church history in any way. I’ve known for a long time that The Book of Mormon postulates that the Biblical Garden of Eden is supposed to be situated somewhere around Independence, MO, and that they have a temple there in preparation for the Second Advent. What I did not know much about was what exactly happened that forced the Mormons out of Missouri and eventually into Utah. I knew folks apparently got tarred and feathered, what I did not realize is that a full-on war between Joseph Smith and his growing flock and the various state militias from Missouri. Being interested in local history, I feel that not knowing some sort of background in this time period is a hole in my understanding. I might eventually use this information to visit a few sites related to this in the future.
Looking around on Amazon, I found a ton of books created by the LDS Church, but I wanted to avoid those due to obvious propaganda. I don’t want to upset anyone I know that is a Mormon, but the early years of the faith are full of dark spots that I have found get glossed over entirely. The Mormon Wars: The History of the Mormons’ Conflicts across the Frontier in the 19th Century looked interesting, if not somewhat benign being a “free” book on Kindle Unlimited. I figured if it was bad, I could just send it back immediately and continue the search. I’m always weary of books like this (cheaply made, mass produced books) since some are basically re-written Wikipedia articles, some generated entirely by bots. Luckily, this one does not seem like that, and was competently written.
“Among all the various figures in 19th century America who left controversial legacies, it is hard to find one as influential as Joseph Smith (1805-1844), the founder of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Mormonism, and the Latter-Day Saint movement. Revered as a prophet on the level of Moses by some, reviled as a perpetrator of large-scale fraud by others, what everyone can agree on is that Joseph Smith founded a religious movement that played a crucial role in the settlement of the West, especially in Utah.”Publisher’s Description
The Mormons were the subject of years of persecution in various states during the early nineteenth century, most notably in Missouri. This can be chalked up to a few factors including revivalist movements finding their brand of Christianity as incompatible with a Southern lifestyle, and oh yeah there’s that whole slavery thing the Mormons were very much against. Granted, The LDS leadership did not make things better by creating a standing army, doing vigilante attacks using a militarized wing called the Danites, and even declaring war on Missouri itself at one point. This bloody time period resulted in multiple deaths, massacres, arrests and even the eventual death of Joseph Smith at the hands of an angry mob.
There are a few instances in this book where something is referenced that was never explained, or there is an assumption that the reader knows information that was left out. I’m not sure if this is due to the use of inline references, or the fact that sections were summarized from another source, but that was the only real blemish that this book had. You can’t beat the cost, and its a competent summarization of the conflict itself without going too much into the doctrine of Joseph Smith or something that I honestly would not care about. In a way, the narrative is somewhat against the Mormons, but that can be explained due to the use of contemporary sources, many of which would not be a fan of their side of the story at all. I plan to see a few museums in Independence about this time period, it will be interesting to see how insanely polar opposite their account will be (they are LDS run I believe), I think I’d be able to draw a conclusion from the middle at that point.