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Mormons in Missouri


The Mormon Extermination Order, also known as Missouri Executive Order 44, stands as a stark chapter in the history of religious persecution in the United States. The order was issued in 1838 by the governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs, and targeted members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons, who had settled in the state. The order reflected deep-seated hostility and fears among some Missourians towards the Mormon community, culminating in violence, forced expulsion, and significant hardship for thousands of Mormons.

The roots of the conflict between Mormons and their Missouri neighbors can be traced to a variety of factors, including religious differences, economic competition, and cultural misunderstandings. Mormons began to settle in Missouri in the early 1830s in large numbers and tensions quickly escalated. The large influx of people was concerning to Missourians who worried that the communal practices of Mormons would upset the political life of Missouri by voting as a block. Most Mormons (from the North) were opposed to slavery and welcomed people of all races to join their church, including Blacks in Mormonism and Native Americans. These ideas were in contrast to the political climate of Missouri, a frontier and slave state. Mormons faced discrimination and violence from their non-Mormon neighbors.

The situation reached a boiling point in 1838 with the outbreak of violence in northwestern Missouri, particularly in Daviess, Caldwell, and Carroll counties. Both Mormons and non-Mormons engaged in acts of aggression and retaliation, leading to a state of near-anarchy in the region. In response to escalating tensions and reports of Mormon militancy, Governor Boggs issued Executive Order 44 on October 27, 1838.

The Mormon Extermination Order ordered Mormons to be "exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace." The language of the order was inflammatory and extreme, reflecting the depth of hostility towards the Mormon community among most of Missouri society. It effectively authorized the use of force against Mormons and sanctioned their expulsion from the state.

In the aftermath of the Extermination Order, LDS Church founder, Joseph Smith was imprisoned in Liberty, Missouri and other Mormons in Missouri faced widespread persecution, violence, and displacement. Vigilante mobs attacked Mormon settlements, burning homes, looting property, and driving families from their land. Thousands of Mormons were forcibly expelled from the state. They fled to Illinois and other states for safety. Opposition to the Mormon Church continued and can be seen today in documents like the Mormon CES Letter.

The Mormon Extermination Order remains a dark chapter in American history, highlighting the dangers of religious intolerance and the abuse of state power. In subsequent years, the LDS Church has come to view the Extermination Order as a symbol of Mormon perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity, and efforts were made to reconcile with the state of Missouri. In 1976, Missouri Governor Christopher S. Bond formally rescinded Executive Order 44, acknowledging its unjust and unconstitutional nature.

What was the Mormon Extermination Order? Why were Mormons persecuted in Missouri? Are blacks treated equally in the Mormon Church? Was Joseph Smith imprisoned in Missouri or anywhere else in the United States? Faith topics, Religions of America, Lifestyle choices


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