Religious Freedom: The Mormom Legacy By: Charlotte Wilson ED 417 Dr. Helms
Rationale • Students have many misconceptions about religious freedom in America after the Civil War. It is important for students to understand that religious freedom was a trial. Students will learn about the problems the Mormons faced in the early stages of freedom in America. This will enable students to better understand Mormons, and the individual freedoms they wanted that we know have.
Religious Revival • Between 1797 thru the early 1830’s people were caught up in the Second Great Awakening. • New religions sprouted. • New York given label as “burned-over district.” • Many confused. Joseph Smith, 14, was one of them.
Joseph Smith • Had a vision in 1820 and later in 1823. • Claimed he saw an angle that showed him where ancient records of Christ’s visit to the America’s were. • Translated the records now known as The Book Of Mormon. • Personal testaments of records and truthfulness given by scholars and others.
Records • Engravings written upon gold plates were Egyptian. • History of prophet Lehi and his family when they left Jerusalem and sailed to Western Hemisphere. • Their descendents split into the Lamanites and the Nephites. • Said to be ancestors of American Indians.
Church Organized • April 6, 1830 Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints was organized. • Given nickname of LDS church and Mormons because they believe the Book of Mormon to be true. • Membership grew through missionary work • Today is the fastest growing church in world with over 6 million. • More members outside U.S. than inside.
Kirtland, Ohio • Due to the religious times, non-believers harassed members. • Marks the beginning of the Saints long journey westward. • Communities established in Kirtland, Ohio and Independence, Missouri during 1830’s. • Was the church’s center for 8 years. • First Mormon temple built and completed in 1836. • Now over 100 Mormon temples worldwide.
Problems • Missourians burned fields, barns, and drove off livestock. • Beat and killed Saints. • Joseph Smith arrested for preaching Book of Mormon. Later released. • Persecution began. • Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered by a mob while his family was asleep.
Far West, Caldwell County • Caldwell militia attack was ordered. • Higher authorities overruled the order. • Gangs burned houses later that day in opposition to cancellation of order. • Deeds done that would make a savage hang it’s head in shame.
Haun’s Mill • Governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued an extermination order against the Saints. • He stated, “Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary, for the public good. These outrages are beyond all description.” • He published lies making them appear like exiles wanting to flood the state with war. • Was unprovoked during a truce between the Saints and Missourians. • Saints wanted to practice their religion and preach to others.
Haun’s Mill Massacre • October 30, 1838 200 Missourians attacked the isolated settlement and butchered the Saints. • Mormon men retreated to a blacksmith shop. • Women and children ran into the woods for safety. • Children were mutilated and the gang boasted of their deeds and robbed the dead. • Child shot in the head and child’s head blown off. • Survivors put bodies in an unfinished well. • Sound familiar?….(the Holocaust)
Holocaust • 1941 Americans were appalled at stories of torture and suffering as Hitler committed genocide on his own people in Germany. • Mass graves, torture, persecution. • Americans had already forgotten that over 100 years earlier they themselves did the same to Mormons. • Was there really religious freedom in America?
Jail • November 30, 1838 the prophet, Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum, and other leaders were moved to a jail in Clay County and incarcerated at Liberty Jail. • Charged with treason. • Poisoned for five days. • Served human flesh as meat. • Freed in 1839.
Nauvoo or Commerce, Illinois • Mormons sought refuge here in the late 1830’s. • Was a swamp, but Mormons irrigated it and it became a beautiful place. • Non-Mormons became jealous of their prosperity. • Petitions made to Governor of Illinois to disperse the Mormons.
Smith Surrendered • Joseph Smith was faced with threats on members lives and expulsion from the state, and surrendered. • He was jailed with three others on June 24, 1844. • While traveling there Smith said, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter…I shall be innocent, and it shall be said of me-he was murdered in cold blood.”
Awaiting Trial • Friends visited and smuggled letters to the prophet. • One night 100 men gathered around jail. • Mob forced their way inside, firing as they came up the stairs. • Instantly the occupants grabbed two guns. • Hyrum was shot 4 times crying, “I am a dead man.” • Smith shot twice in the back by the window and then fell 25 feet to the ground below. • Sealed their testimonies of their faith with their own blood.
Brigham Young • Church leader after Smith was martyred. • Organized the evacuation of Mormons from Nauvoo. • Then took over as prophet of the church. • Took Mormons on a dramatic exodus west over thirteen hundred miles. • Studied reports of explorer's and chose the Great Salt Lake.
Mexican War • 1836 federal government got involved in Mexican War. • Mormons supplied 500 men for the cause. • In return Mormons were given permission to temporarily camp on Indian Land in Nebraska. • Tribes agreed.
Journey Begins • Begins in Spring of 1846. • Young and advisors mapped out every detail of exodus in advance. • Saints went west in caravans at regular intervals. • First wagons halted to plow and plant for next caravans.
Mississippi River • Initial party reached river on June 14, 1846 which took them four months to complete this part. • Camp built in Omaha, Nebraska called Winter Quarters. • Also called “Misery Bottom”. • Provided safety against mobs • Entire families wiped out by heavy winter conditions and disease • Before spring, 2,000 saints died in the cold.
Pioneer Band • April 1847 Young led a band along trail to blaze the way for Saints to come. • Known as Mormon Trail. • Last 116 miles were most the difficult. • Livestock were weak, wagons worn, people weary. • Roamed through canyons, slopes, and over rocky ridges of the Watsatch Range.
Home • July 24, 1847 the Saints caught their first glimpse of home. • Immediately planted crops. • Emigrants continued to arrive. • Over the next twenty years over 70,000 Mormons traveled by wagons and handcarts to Salt Lake City.
Migration • Mormons made the trails for other migrates. • Mormons expedition was not voluntary for they had to find an isolated area to settle and practice their religion in peace. • Was a movement of an entire people, religion and culture driven by religious fervor and determination.
Immigrants • Europeans came daily off boats and traveled with the Mormons as they moved west. • Missionaries had been busy proclaiming the restored gospel of Jesus Christ around the world while Mormons trekked. • Many left families and loved ones behind to go preach for years at a time. • Today there are over 30,000 young men each year who serve two years of their life to preach the gospel.
Conclusion • In the end the Saints were given their freedom to worship only after too many lives were taken in cold and innocent blood. • June 25, 1976 Governor Christopher S. Bond of Missouri issued and executive order which recognized the legal invalidity and formally apologized in behalf of the state of Missouri for the suffering it caused the Saints. • By almost any measure the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints is one of the world’s richest and fastest-growing religious movements of all time. • It has sustained the most rapid growth rate of any new faith group in American history since the founding one hundred and seventy years ago in upstate New York. • Nevertheless the church’s pioneer past is now celebrated as an integral part of the American saga and a legacy to the descendents of the early Saints.
Further Questions and Exploration • Compare and contrast the Mormon’s legacy to other persecuted groups of people. • Was there religious freedom in America in 1800’s? What connotes religious freedom? • Find out what Mormons believe by looking up The Thirteen Articles of Faith. • What differentiates Mormon religion from others?
Reference • To know more about: Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon, the trek west, religious freedom at this time, or the First Vision: • Contact your local missionaries, or a local Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. • Or ask me…Charlotte Wilson email@example.com