31 July 2012

Mormons Terrorized by Locals

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, 2003, Excerpts

In the 1830s northwestern Missouri was still untamed country inhabited by rough, strong-willed characters. Jackson County residents initially responded to the perceived Mormon threat by holding town meetings, passing anti-Mormon resolutions, and demanding that civil authorities take some kind of action. When such gestures failed to stem the tide of Saints, however, the citizens of Independence took matters into their own hands. In July 1833 an armed mob of five hundred Missourians tarred and feathered two latter-day Saints and destroyed a printing office because an LDS newspaper had published an article deemed overly sympathetic to the antislavery.

Then, one cold November night, vigilantes systematically terrorized every Mormon settlement in the region. After savagely beating the men, they drove twelve hundred Saints from their homes, forcing them to run for their lives into the frigid darkness. Most of them fled north across the Missouri river, never to return to Jackson County.

In 1836 the Missouri legislature, hoping to relocate the Saints in an out-of-the-way place that forestall bloodshed, had designated sparsely populated Caldwell County as a zone of Mormon settlement. By 1838 the Mormons had purchased some 250,000 acres in Caldwell County from the federal government and built a thriving town they christened Far West. But in the summer of 1838 trouble erupted in neighboring Daviess County, where Mormons had spilled over the county line and begun establishing large new settlements.

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