Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  January 18, 2015 12:00am-1:21am EST

12:00 am
a. he talks about how the book of mormon compares to other religious texts and how early mormons attempted to create a "new zion" in the american west during the 1830's under the leadership of joseph smith. this class is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> good morning. this semester, it seems to me we have spent a lot of time studying the great ism's of the world -- hinduism, buddhism. judaism. then we get to a couple of non-isms -- christianity and islam. today, we are beginning to get days on the subject of mormonism. we are going to begin our story really at the end of the early chapter of mormon's history in -- mormonism's history in the
12:01 am
united states. we began on june 27, 1834. on that day, the mormon prophet joseph smith sat in jail in carthage, illinois. this was just little bit east of this red dot in western illinois. it was near the mormon gathering place, headquarters of sorts, a nauvoo, in western illinois. joseph smith was the president and prophet of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints. his followers were commonly known as mormonites or mormons known after the church's founding scripture, the the book of mormon.
12:02 am
smith was the mayor of the city of nauvoo and the lieutenant general of the militia. he was in jail on the charge of inciting a riot. a group of mormon dissenters upset with his leadership of the church, had published the first issue of a newspaper criticizing his leadership. smith had persuaded the city council to order the destruction of the newspaper's printing press, which took place in the middle of june. normally, this would not have been a matter of life and death. but in june of 1844 in illinois, it was. both political parties in illinois hated joseph smith and the mormons, who, because of their numbers, controlled the politics in their county. and non-mormon settlers who
12:03 am
lived nearby hated the mormons even more. they formed mobs and they were determined to kill joseph smith. after smith ordered the destruction of this critical newspaper, he was arrested placed in jail, put on trial. -- awaiting trial. he was on the second floor of a small, stone jail, imprisoned with his brother hiram and two close friends and associates. a small detachment of militia soldiers guarded the downstairs door of the jail. it was an incredibly hot afternoon in the early summer time. in the late afternoon, about 125 men, members of another militia, rode into town. they had their faces smeared
12:04 am
with mud and gunpowder to disguise themselves. the troops guarding the jail offered no resistance, given to this attacking force. so, the attackers entered the jail, climbed upstairs. joseph smith's brother hiram and the other prisoners tried their best to hold the door shot to ut to fend off the attackers but it was a flimsy wooden door. hiram smith was quickly shot through the skull and collapsed backwards, dead almost instantly. joseph smith had a gun and wounded three of the attackers as they fought their way in. he quickly ran out of bullets. he ran to the window, planning to try to jump out and escape outside, but he was shot
12:05 am
repeatedly. several times in the back and also from the crowd of attackers who had gathered outside in front of the jail, and smith was dead by the time he hit the ground. many in illinois hoped that the mormon prophet's death would also mean the end of the church he had founded. this semester, we have talked about all sorts of religious leaders. the buddha, abraham, moses jesus, mohammed. all of them figures of ancient history. you can't read anything in their own handwriting. there aren't any newspaper clippings to tell you about their lives. there aren't any letters they wrote and left behind. in the cases of figures like
12:06 am
abraham and moses, human history, outside of the bible, cannot give us any assurance that they even existed. in the case of the buddha, the first accounts of his life that we possess may have been written several centuries after his death. jesus and mohammed, i think we can be quite sure existed. the first non-christian reference to jesus came about six decades after his death. there's quite a lot of uncertainty, but at least we have christian writings dating to as early as 20 years after his death. the koran seems to have assumed its present form no more than 20 or 30 years after mohammed's death.
12:07 am
information about mohammed's life, however, comes from oral traditions, not written down for a considerable longer time. for the conditions surrounding his life there is also a lot of uncertainty. we might draw some parallels between joseph smith and these other religious founders. like jesus, joseph smith was killed at the prime of his life by political and religious opponents. like mohammed, he was not only a religious leader, but a political, even sometimes military leader to his people. also like mohammed, it claims to -- he claimed to have received a new revelation from god via an angel and dictated messages that his followers accepted as divine revelations. 19th century americans noticed
12:08 am
these parallels. they often called joseph smith an american mohammed. joseph also had more than one wife. mohammed married 12 or 13 women after the death of his beloved khadijah. joseph smith was sealed to -- that is the latter-day saint term -- sealed to around 30 women. joseph smith was in the news as recently as last week for his marriages. this is the headline from the new york times from last monday. it was the front page of the new york times, i believe. i saw it on his webpage. -- on its webpage. which, i could not figure out
12:09 am
how to take an effective screen shot. "it's official -- mormon founder had up to 40 wives." this is actually worldwide news. this is an article from the daily telegraph out of london, also last monday. "mormon church finally admits founder joseph smith was polygamist with more than 40 wives." the church had long glossed over his marital history. i noticed when i first looked at the telegraph's article last monday, it initially said "church had maintained he was monogamous for nearly 200 years." my first thought was, it must have been a really slow news day. this happened a long time ago. it's not new news. but more on that later on. joseph smith married a lot of women. it is probably what he is most well-known for historically.
12:10 am
but the big difference between joseph smith and all of these other religious founding figures is timing. the others, the details of their lives, they fade into ancient history. their lives seem mythical. they lived far away from us. joseph smith lived in the united states. he published the book of mormon in 1830. that sounds like a long time ago, but compared to our other texts this semester, it isn't. he lived a day's drive from here. many people will are comfortable with god speaking to moses and an egyptian burning bush or to
12:11 am
the prophet mohammed in an arabian cave. but to joseph smith in western new york? so, these are our questions about mormonism. first of all, how do we categorize mormonism? is the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints a new religion, or is it a branch of christianity or is it something else? so, we will spend some time on that. secondly, we have been discussing scripture, especially the second half of this semester. so, what is scripture for latter-day saints? we spent a fair bit of time on that today. and finally, joseph smith introduced new rituals during the last several years of his life that became very significant for the identity and practice of his followers, especially after his death.
12:12 am
so we will spend time of those developments. we are going to begin with the book of mormon, which is how most americans encountered the church in the 1830's. this is how they would have encountered it. joseph smith introduced himself to the world when he published the book of mormon in 1830. it was a very big and hefty book. i did not assign it all. you can probably be grateful for that. it was almost 600 pages when it was published originally. joseph smith, because of the financial support of one of his followers, printed 5000 copies. they planned to sell it for $2.50 a copy, which is a lot of money back in 1830.
12:13 am
however, if you bought one in 1830, it would have been a tremendous investment. if you have an original 1830 look of mormon at auction, they typically sell for around $200,000, which is a very good rate of return. joseph smith's missionaries had a very small number of members in this church initially. small number of followers. they went out and at first tried to sell copies of the books. almost nobody would buy them. $2.50 for a strange bible. hard to get people interested. so, they gave it away. latter-day saint missionaries by now have given away hundreds of millions of copies of the book of mormon in scores of different languages. it might well be the most
12:14 am
distributed, widely distributed piece of american literature. so, what is it? what's in it? it begins as the story of a family, a family of israelites with a father named lehi. when the book begins, they are living in jerusalem. just prior to its destruction at the hands of the babylonians. the babylonian empire conquers jerusalem and judah in 587 b c .c., carries those who live there into exile. the formative moment of the emergence of jewish monotheism. lehi's family is warned to leave. jerusalem is going to be destroyed. you need to leave.
12:15 am
they leave and travel across the arabian peninsula. they are told to build a boat, which they do, and they travel to the land of promise, which is what we know of as the new world, in the americas. lehi's family has a lot of dysfunctional infighting. it is centered between two of his sons. he has essentially a good, faithful, obedient son named nephi and a scheming, devious, unreliable son named laman, and the descendents of those sons split into two factions and over time, two peoples. the mostly righteous nephites
12:16 am
and the mostly unrighteous lamanites. and they are at war with each other as the book proceeds. throughout hundreds of years of history, there are prophets who predict the coming of a messiah. many christians believe the old testament prophesies the coming of jesus christ. if you look at references, they are rather vague, rather it obscure. in the case of the book of mormon, it's more specific. there is going to be a messiah named jesus christ. he will be born of a virgin named mary. he will die for the sins of humanity. he will be resurrected. he will have 12 apostles disciples. all very explicit prophecies.
12:17 am
the good people in the story accept those prophecies. and they are essentially ancient christians or pre-christian christians. followers of jesus christ before he was born on the earth. the climactic part of the book of mormon is the appearance of jesus christ to these people in the new world. after jesus's birth, life, death, and resurrection he then appears to the people and ushers in a time of peace and prosperity. nephites and lamanites except jesus christ. -- accept jesus christ.
12:18 am
for a couple hundred years everybody gets along, society thrives, it's all wonderful. eventually, things fall apart again. some people begin falling away from the church, fighting with each other. you have the emergence of nephites and lamanites. it has a tragic ending. the lamanites wipe out the nephites. the last remaining nephites, or among the last remaining nephites, are a man named mormon and his son moroni. the scripture is named for mormon who according to the text, is the editor of much of what is in the book of mormon. so, that's the book. i want to take a few minutes and discuss the excerpts that we read. you read the beginning, the end, and a few bits from the middle. what i would like to know is, first of all, quite basically, what did you think? what were your impressions? does what you read resemble any of the other scriptures we have read this semester?
12:19 am
>> i drew very specific parallels with this and genesis. >> ok. >> what i found interesting, where it says the voice from heaven claims jesus is the son. that's almost exactly like genesis. >> ok. where the voice from heaven claims jesus -- >> let me find where it was. >> ok. take your time. >> oh, and the part about the devil, too. and that god created everything. >> which passage are you in, karen?
12:20 am
>> ok, right now, second nephi 14. pretty much all the way through 27 reminds me of genesis. 14, he is basically saying god created everything, which is what genesis says, right? >> sure. >> and 16 through 19, it is talking about the fall of the devil, the fall of the angel that becomes the devil, like genesis, and then 19 through 22 is adam and eve, and it is adam and the great sin. what i found really interesting was at 22 when they start to speculate about what would have happened if adam had never sinned. >> all right. let's just keep that thought for a second. we encountered the story of the garden of eden and the fall in the early chapters of genesis.
12:21 am
we did not look at them, but there are several passages in the koran that discuss adam in and the fall. the book of mormon does as well. you are right. it begins with assertions that seem fairly standard. god created everything. there is a temptation of adam and eve. they eat the fruit. and what is the twist in the book of mormon that is different from what we encountered in genesis? >> the what if? >> what is the what if? >> [indiscernible] there would be no aging. they are showing what could have been. >> would that have been a good thing?
12:22 am
>> no, because would not be here. >> we would not be here? [laughter] that's true. go ahead. >> maybe god had created the people in perfect, so if they had not eaten the apple, the next one would have. [indiscernible] >> maybe so. i think this suggests there would not have been a next line, if they had not eaten the fruit. if you read the original narrative in genesis, there are not many children introduced into the story until after eating the fruit. it is not suggested it will be a particularly pleasant thing. eve is told she will be cursed with painful childbirth. i think this is a great passage to explore. there are parts of the the book of mormon that i think our mind numbingly dull. mark twain once referred to the the book of mormon as chloroform
12:23 am
in print. this particular passage i find to be a big exception to those comments. let's take a look at a little bit of it together. it introduces the idea of satan or the devil as a fallen being. you can find that in other parts of the hebrew scriptures and the christian new testament. not in the early chapters of genesis itself. adam and eve eat the fruit. they are driven out of the garden of eden to till the earth. you are right. without this, we would not be here. but then, there is a pretty explicit positive reinterpretation of these events. if adam had not transgressed, he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of eden. everything would have remained the same. maybe that's not too bad for adam and eve.
12:24 am
but in reality, they would have had no children. wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery, doing no good, for they knew no sin. and then adam saw that men might be and men are that they might have joy. i find that a rather beautiful passage. my daughter sometimes asks me when she is sick, her question is, daddy, why did god create germs? i, of course, do not know why god created germs. but i actually sometimes -- this will strike you as somewhat zany -- i think of this passage in the book of mormon. if we were perfectly healthy all of the time, that would be wonderful, but we would place no value upon it because we would not know what it feels like to
12:25 am
be crummy. we may not value our lives as much if we did not know we would die. we might not know what it means to be happy if we didn't know what it means to be miserable. we might not know how to do good if we did not know that we have done wrong. it's a very different interpretation than you find in the early chapters of genesis. genesis, in a sense, this is a fortunate fall. it is good this happened. we have the ability to experience great joy. any other similarities or differences with the bible that you noticed? >> we talked about how the trinity was not really defined after -- during the relationship when jesus is talking about the
12:26 am
parables. it says, god, the father will bear record of me. that really defines the relationships compared to what we find in mark. >> it is much more explicit. i only gave you a few passages but there are other that are similar like that about the trinity. great. anna? >> there was a lot of less blame on eve in the the book of mormon. and more blame on the both of them than there was in genesis. or even there and that passage it says that adam transgressed, but eve took the fruit and gave it to him. >> yeah, that's a good observation. although you may notice in the original genesis, god does not buy it when adam says he woman
12:27 am
-- the woman gave it to me. he takes the punishment as well. but you are right. >> along with how eve is mentioned in this -- it says they would not have children and they would be in a state of innocence, it says that if adam did not eat it, but it does not say what if eve did not eat it. i feel like that is left out. >> it would've been really bad i think, if only one of them ate the fruit. in marriage, you have to be united. kira? >> it was 11-7. behold my beloved son in whom i am well pleased, in whom i have glorified my name. hear ye him. it is god calling out to them --
12:28 am
check it out, it's jesus. he is my son and i like him. >> that may be similar to the baptism of jesus, right? that is the one you're looking for? the language is quite similar. there's a lot of language in the third book of nephi that closely resembles language in the new testament, especially from the gospel of matthew. the beatitudes. let me make sure i get it right. blessed are the poor in spirit. it's almost word for word identical to what you find in the gospel of matthew. the the book of mormon for latter-day saints was a new work of scripture, regarded perhaps in a similar manner as the bible.
12:29 am
we will talk about the coming forth of the the book of mormon a little later on, where joseph smith said it came from, the story of its translation, and so on. early latter-day saints probably read the bible more than the the book of mormon, but they accepted the the book of mormon as a new revelation and a sign that god was speaking to human beings again, in a manner akin to the bible. but for latter-day saints, new scripture did not end with the the book of mormon. joseph smith, beginning in the year 1828, dictated or wrote down messages that he said were from god. go ahead with your question. chris. >> [indiscernible]
12:30 am
someone thought that god talked twice -- which is the book of mormon? the bible is what happened. it is not a what if scenario? why would god create a what if scenario? how does that make sense? >> it's a great question. i'm trying to see -- i suppose first of all, we would have to look at the fuller passage in the second book of nephi. yeah, i think there are parts of the book of mormon -- depending on whether you see them coming from god or joseph smith -- that attempt to clarify things that christians found opaque or difficult to understand. i think one of the questions --
12:31 am
and this was not original for joseph smith, why did god create something good and allow a fall? how do we make sense of that? was the fall part of god's plan? did god create something beautiful for human beings to mess it up right away? how do we make sense of that? i think what you have -- you have this in second nephi, the words of lehi, the words of this patriarchal figure. it is his understanding. i think they are understood to be a divine explanation of what took place. i think it is a way of trying to make sense of the fall and say yes, this was part of god's plan. it was a tragedy that human mortality was actually a good thing. i think you can see this as a way of trying to make sense of that. does that help at all in terms
12:32 am
of -- >> so is the book of mormon half opinion and half god's word, in a sense? >> my own belief is that -- whatever scripture you take, there is a lot of humanity and it -- in it. the book of mormon presents this as the words of an ancient prophet. it was up to joseph smith's followers to accept that as the case. most people who encountered the book of mormon did not. if you are a member of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints, then yeah. one is probably going to regarded as -- regard it as something else. ok? scripture did not in with the book of mormon. joseph smith also dictated revelations, messages that he said were from god, initially given to him from jesus christ.
12:33 am
sometimes joseph would pray, ask god a question, repeat an -- receive an answer, tell it to a scribe. it would be written down. sometimes he would have a specific message for one of his followers. you, go on a mission to the indians. you, martin harris, use your wealth to help publish the book of mormon. sometimes the message was for joseph himself. you have sinned and i am taking away the gift of translation for a time. you need to repent. some of smith's passages had more lasting significant messages for his followers. let me give you a few examples. because smith led his church in
12:34 am
this way as a prophetic figure with revelations, is early -- his early followers frequently called him joseph the seer. i think using that as more or less a synonym for prophet. in 1832, smith dictated a long revelation known as "the vision" to his followers. most contemporary christians thought about simply heaven and hell as the two possible destinations for human beings. for some branches of christianity, perhaps a stop in purgatory before heaven. in this revelation of joseph smith, heaven was quite different. smith's revelation described degrees of heavenly glory or
12:35 am
separate heavenly realms or kingdoms. the highest of those being the celestial kingdom, whose glory was like that of the sun. this was reserved for members of christ's true church. in other words, the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints. the second tier of glory was identified as the terrestrial kingdom. glory like that of the moon. specifically interacting with a passage to one of paul's letters to the corinthians with that language of sun, moon, and stars. the terrestrial kingdom was for kind of ordinary people, decent christians, ordinary people with their faults and sins who did not belong to the true church. the lowest degree of glory, the
12:36 am
revelation termed the telestial kingdom. glory like that of the stars. these are for pretty bad people. people leading rotten lives. only a few people, called the sons of perdition, were bound for hell. so, ultimately all human beings would be saved to different degrees of glory. in terms of being one of the sons of perdition, i think it would be things such as murder apostasy, using cell phones in class -- the really deadly sins that would cast one to outer darkness. that's one example. the second example came the following year. another revelation, which presented itself as a word of wisdom to smith's followers.
12:37 am
this is essentially a dietary code. we have encountered others this semester. we spent some time talking about being kosher in our unit on judaism. islam also has some dietary requirements. no alcohol, no pork. the word of wisdom prescribed no hot drinks, later specified as coffee and tea, and also forbade the use of wine or strong drink, which is today interpreted to mean no alcohol, and also forbade -- it also says not to eat much meat and to eat herbs in season.
12:38 am
that does not get nearly as much discussion. other revelations talk about the need for the saints. the saints of the latter days. the members of the restored church of christ to gather together at a place called zion, which in the bible is essentially a synonym for jerusalem. to gather together to a new jerusalem to seek shelter from imminent divine judgment and prepare for the second coming of jesus christ. smith in the early 1830's identified zion as the city of independence in northwestern missouri. right on the borders of what was the american frontier at the
12:39 am
time. and so, he called on his followers to begin buying property there and living there. smith himself actually remained in ohio at this time. he moved to ohio in the very early 1830's. he did not move to missouri yet, but his followers began doing so. they moved to independence and other neighboring parts of jackson county, missouri. from the start, joseph smith faced opposition from neighbors, from some other ministers. it is when the latter-day saints began settling in independence that they began to have serious conflicts and clashes with other americans.
12:40 am
and i think it is not too hard to figure out why. this is a relatively sparsely settled part of the american frontier. in 1832, 1833, hundreds of mormons began moving to independence, buying land, building houses, settling there. other settlers, non-mormon settlers, are worried they will soon be outnumbered. it's probably also a little offputting when a new religious movement starts buying up the property in your county and claiming that they will be sheltered from god's coming judgment. the non-mormons in jackson county had all sorts of complaints about incoming mormon settlers. they didn't like the fact that many of the latter-day saints during their gatherings spoke in
12:41 am
spiritual tongues. that was considered a crazy practice, out of the christian mainstream at this time. the mormons -- a few of the mormons made statements in support of abolition. this was a slaveholding part of missouri. that generated some opposition. basically, the non-mormons, they not want to be in the minority. this is the united states in the 1830's. the majority really do rule, and no central government is going to step in and help persecuted minorities. a lot of americans believed communities have the right to expel unwanted minorities from their midst. think of what happened to native
12:42 am
americans in the late 1830's with the trail of tears removal to parts beyond northwest mississippi. the summer of 1833, non-mormons began essentially harassing mormon settlers. roughing a few people up damaging property, burning homes, pressuring them to leave. with the clear indication, if they do not agree to leave worse is coming. so the mormon settlers in jackson county agree they will go. they go to neighboring counties in missouri. joseph smith is still in ohio at the time. the loss of independence in jackson county was a huge setback for joseph smith and his followers. this was supposed to be zion. the site of the new jerusalem where the saints of the latter days would gather to await the return of jesus christ. instead, everything fell apart.
12:43 am
go ahead. >> why did they choose independence as the main city? was there a vision that made him choose independence? >> it's a great question. i think it is connected to an early group of mormon missionaries that he sends just beyond this part of missouri into what was then just called indian territory. there is a specific reason why smith and the mormons are interested in the missions to indians. i should have talked about this when we talk about the book of mormon, so thank you for asking. it allows me to get back to it. the book of mormon suggested that the lamanites would eventually return to the true church. that they would be redeemed. the early mormons believed that the indians of their day are the lamanites, the descendents of
12:44 am
that book of mormon people. and they will soon return to the true faith. that tends not to happen when smith sends out indian missionaries. but from the group of missionaries that comes here and does missionary work in the indian territories, this part of missouri, you know, is on smith's mind. and it's also available land. as smith presents it to his followers, this is a divine revelation. go here. so, i think most of his followers, it is that simple. >> it seems like a lot of the true followers with think god would not come get them if they were not in the place he told them to go. if they moved to another state then for some reason they would not be in refuge. they would not be sheltered.
12:45 am
>> i think that is the belief. in the early 1830's, there is the mormon belief that the events of the last days are going to happen same. -- soon. god is going to judge the nations of the earth and return to reign with his true followers. so, there is a place we need to gather and do this. that vision of jackson county, of independence as zion, as that collapses, i think the latter-day saints begin thinking and longer terms and with less emphasis that these events of the last days are going to be soon or immediate. smith was still in ohio. after the loss of zion, many of his followers go there. others go to other counties in missouri hoping that independence and jackson county
12:46 am
will be redeemed soon. i will show you again on the map. zion, independence, jackson county, fairly part of the west. -- fairly far to the west. smith is in northeastern ohio. he is there through the winter of 1837. a couple of important and one somewhat humorous thing happens there. smith's followers build a temple in kirtland. there were revelations that commanded them to build a temple in zion. that did not come to fruition, but they built a temple in kirtland. smith talked a lot about restoring christ's true church. a lot of americans think about
12:47 am
restoring the church as spoken about in the new testament. smith thinks in grander and longer terms. he wants to not just restore the new testament church. he wants to restore all ancient practices and doctrines. so, his people built temples not churches. he talks of restoring a priesthood, an ancient priesthood. especially when we get to polygamy or plural marriage, that actually fits in as well. smith promises his followers that if they complete this temple in ohio, they will receive an endowment of spiritual power that will empower them for missionary work and maybe for other sacred tasks. in the spring of 1836, his
12:48 am
followers complete and dedicate this temple, and the dedication of the temple produces a series of wondrous events among his followers. they talk about seeing angels. some of them talk about seeing jesus christ. they utter prophecies. they speak in tongues. some of them sing songs in spiritual tongues. under smith's leadership, many followers felt the veil between heaven and earth part. they feel like the veil is parting. heaven coming down to earth. that spiritual power they perceived is one reason why many
12:49 am
followed him despite setbacks, like what happened in missouri. joseph smith also committed some serious blunders. so, the spring of 1836 is a wondrous time for the latter-day saints temple. one year later, that had become a distant memory. from the very beginning of the church, the dissension, internal disagreement, was a problem for joseph smith and the mormons. joseph smith's followers sometimes doubted his prophetic authority. in early 1837, that issue became a crisis. and the crisis came from the misguided creation of a bank. and this is a little bit hard to understand outside of context in 1830's united states. mormon kirtland, this town in
12:50 am
ohio, like many western american communities -- and ohio is still more or less western at this time. it was land rich and cash poor. people did not have much hard money and hard money essentially meant gold and silver coins. one solution for that for many american communities was the printing of paper money. we are used to that today. it was a little bit more unusual in the 1830's. -- it was a little bit more uncertain in the 1830's. smith develops a plan to create a bank and issue banknotes that would rest on a small amount of gold and silver. but also on the larger amount of land that the latter-day saints owned in kirtland.
12:51 am
so, in the followed 1836, smith sent an associate to philadelphia to purchase plates for printing banknotes. and he sent another follower to the capital of ohio, columbus, to secure a charter for a bank and the name was the kirtland safety society bank. while waiting on the application for the bank charter, church leaders began printing and issuing banknotes and putting them into circulation. there was a law in ohio against unchartered societies engaging in banking. but these actions for the 1830's were not all that unusual. there were all sorts of unchartered banks and
12:52 am
corporations issuing paper money in the united states. the american banking system as of 1837 was pretty much an unregulated chaos. many institutions issued bank notes backed by property and -- backed by very little hard money or property, and there were all sorts of fraudulent banking operations as well. in the case of the mormons, the ohio state legislature turned down the church's application for a bank charter, so that was a problem. they already started printing and issuing paper money. joseph smith and his associates were undeterred. they came up with a pretty clever idea. instead of issuing notes of the kirtland safety society bank
12:53 am
bank officers stamped out that word "bank" and more creatively stamped "anti" and "ing" and "company" after it. so these were the notes of the anti-banking company. do you think that was a good idea? it was not a good idea. you do not want to own money from an anti-bank, do you? that is not the kind of paper money you might feel greatly confident in. the clumsy alteration seemed to invite the misfortune that followed. that is smith's signature at the bottom by the way and that is brigham young's signature. brigham young being joseph smith's successor who led the latter-day saints to utah. they actually used the notes for
12:54 am
a time and utah, which is why he signed up at the top. this actually worked really well for a while. establishment of the kirtland safety society notes generated a burst of economic activity and confidence in the town. a short economic boom. men and women who liked joseph smith mostly came from rather impoverished backgrounds and began to see the fulfillment of some of their economic dreams. willard richards, one of the three other men in the jail cell during smith's assassination, commented early that winter, kirtland bills are as safe as gold. but that was not the case. once these were in circulation
12:55 am
men and women who did not belong to the church would sometimes take them in as payment. they then tried to exchange them for gold or silver from the bank, and the bank quickly ran out of hard money. and there was a run on the bank. the value of the notes plummeted and the whole enterprise collapsed. the collapse of the bank caused many of smith's followers to lose faith, not only in the bank, but also in joseph smith as a prophet. by the end of the year, there was fighting among different mormon factions in the kirtland temple. smith was hounded by creditors. he feared being prosecuted for violating bank charter law. so, by the end of the year he fled to missouri.
12:56 am
so, what do we have so far? a church whose followers had to abandon the place that joseph smith had identified his zion. -- as zion. a church whose prophet started a bank that failed. a prophet who essentially had to flee ohio for his life. the story was not over yet. smith joined a group of his missouri followers in a more northern county and the mormon population began to grow there. at first when the mormons were mostly just caldwell county, things were ok for a short time. but especially as people came
12:57 am
from ohio to join the missouri settlement, they grew and expanded into other counties. that generated opposition from non-mormons in missouri, and opposition that became even more intense than it had been in 1833. by the summer of 1838, there was fighting between mormons and non-mormons in missouri again. fighting on election day that august. the growth of mob actions against outlying mormon communities. and a sense that missouri's state militias were prepared to take action against mormon settlements. by october, it looks like there was going to be open war between mormon settlers and non-mormons in missouri.
12:58 am
and both sides had engaged in some acts of violence. there had been deaths on both sides. in october of 1838, the governor of missouri issued a rather remarkable order. that declared that the mormons were in "open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this state." "the mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace." that is a rather remarkable statement. the governor's name was wilburn boggs. an american state governor issuing an order calling for the extermination or expulsion of a religious group. at about the same time, it
12:59 am
but before, i think, the extermination order was known, there was a massacre of 19 mormon settlers at a place called honn's mill in missouri. most of those who were killed were killed after they had surrendered, including a 10-year-old boy. evidently, there was discussion about whether or not to kill the 10-year-old boy, and they concluded he had to die as well. they explained nits will become lice. if he had lived, he would have become a mormon.
1:00 am
i think there was expectation on both sides this conflict would the salt militarily. ultimately smith saw his people were outnumbered and he surrendered to state's authorities. he was arrested and imprisoned on charges of treason, was in jail for almost half a year, and then escaped.
1:01 am
1:02 am
1:03 am
1:04 am
1:05 am
1:06 am
1:07 am
1:08 am
1:09 am
1:10 am
1:11 am
1:12 am
1:13 am
1:14 am
1:15 am
1:16 am
1:17 am
1:18 am
1:19 am
1:20 am

15 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on