03 August 2012

Joseph: Government of God

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

Relatively few people outside of Nauvoo knew much at that point about Joseph’s doctrine of polygamy, but bad blood between the Saints and the Gentiles who lived around them had been building for at least two years. Although Joseph and his followers had been welcomed by the citizens of Illinois when they’d first arrived, the same attitude of divine entitlement that had turned Missourians against the Mormons gradually antagonized the residents of Hancock County as well.

Non-Mormons were especially alarmed by Joseph’s penchant for theocratic governance, as well as his apparent disregard for every article of the United States Constitution except those that assured Mormons the freedom to worship as they saw fit.

Joseph’s avowed intent to replace the elected government of the United States with a “government of God” was poorly received by the Gentile residents of Hancock County, who didn’t fancy becoming subjects of King Joseph Smith. Joseph’s non-Mormon neighbors were distressed by the way the Saints voted as a uniform bloc in lockstep with the prophet’s instructions, using that leverage to exert inordinate influence in the state government.

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