BECK index

American Philosophy & Religion 1817-44

by Sanderson Beck

American Peace Societies
Unitarians and Channing
New Harmony, Brook Farm & Hopedale
Bancroft on the Human Spirit
Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon
Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church 1830-38
Smith, Brigham Young and Mormons 1839-44

American Peace Societies

      Peace societies were formed at the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 in both England and America. In August of that year the successful New York merchant David Lord Dodge founded the New York Peace Society. Years earlier Dodge had been advised to carry firearms while traveling because of robbers; but after nearly killing the landlord at an inn, he decided that the use of weapons was contrary to being a Christian. By 1808 he had adopted the nonresistant position, renouncing all violence even in defense. The next year he published a pamphlet condemning defensive war as against the teachings of the Gospels.
      The publication of Dodge’s longer War Inconsistent with the Religion of Jesus Christ was delayed by the war until 1815. In this book he argued that war is an economic calamity because even the winning side usually loses more than it gains. He believed the distinction between offensive and defensive war is illusory. War destroys the young and healthy, and it does not lead to peace and freedom because of its hatred and violence. He noted that nations do not allow soldiers to decide which wars are unjust because it would undermine military discipline. If they did allow soldiers to follow their consciences, war would become impractical. Dodge was surprised that so many Christians protest slavery and intemperance but fail to see the greater evil of war. He explained the difference between personal defense and war; the latter is a planned and organized activity that allows time for debate and reflection. Dodge did not accept arguments from the Old Testament because Christians are under a new dispensation. A nation is a collection of individuals and still has the same ethical responsibility that an individual has.
      Because of Dodge’s leadership the New York Peace Society adopted a nonresistant platform, and he criticized the more moderate views of Noah Worcester, who founded the Massachusetts Peace Society, also in 1815. The year before Worcester had published A Solemn Review of the Custom of War in which he argued that war does not right wrongs because the people killed are not the people responsible for the wrong policies. He recommended settling international disputes by arbitration in a world court. By 1818 the Massachusetts Peace Society had a thousand members including the governor and some military officers. The Baptist minister Henry Holcombe and Quakers formed the Pennsylvania Peace Society in 1822. In 1828 these groups joined to become the American Peace Society, and William Ladd emerged as the new leader. In 1823 he published his essays on peace and war in the Christian Mirror in Portland, Maine and then anonymously as the book The Essays of Philanthropos on Peace and War in 1825.
      In 1832 the South Carolina slave owner Thomas S. Grimké (1786-1834) gave an address for the Connecticut Peace Society in which he orated that war in any form is utterly contrary to Christian principles. He was one of the first to argue that even the American War of Independence was wrong and unchristian to use violence. In 1836 Bowdoin professor Thomas Upham (1799-1872) published a long Manual of Peace that discussed many peace issues and suggested that until more people had advanced to the level of nonresistance, a congress of nations could bring world order. That year the American Peace Society had been kept vibrant by the speaking tour of the zealous Rev. Henry C. Wright. In 1837 he and Garrison were able to persuade Ladd to put through an amendment to clarify that the American Peace Society was “founded on the principle that all war is contrary to the spirit of the gospel.”1 This caused some moderates, like the society’s vice president Dr. William Allen, to resign because they opposed the radical nonresistants and supported “defensive” wars.
      In 1840 Ladd published An Essay on a Congress of Nations. He proposed two main international bodies—first, a congress of ambassadors from all Christian and civilized nations to make a mutual treaty for preserving peace, and second, a court of nations to arbitrate and judge cases brought before it by mutual consent of disputing nations. Instead of an executive branch, Ladd trusted to public opinion, which he called “the queen of the world.”2 His plan gave equal representation to every nation sending delegates and required unanimous consent to establish international laws. The congress was to organize the court of nations. He argued that the US war against Britain in 1812 could have been prevented by protracted negotiation. He estimated that the Inquisition, slavery, and intemperance had not caused half as much misery to mankind as wars. He urged every person to help plan a congress and court of nations as a duty to one’s country, the world, and to God.
      After Ladd died in 1841, the American Peace Society reverted to a moderate program under the conservative administration of George Beckwith. In 1847 he published The Peace Manual: or, War and its Remedies in which he described substitutes for war, temporary and permanent, introducing them thus:

All our methods of peace, or substitutes for war,
resolve themselves into the simple principle of having
nations adjust their difficulties as individuals do theirs.
The latter, when any dispute arises,
either agree between themselves,
or refer the case to umpires mutually chosen,
or carry it into a court of law
for a fair and equitable decision;
and, in pursuance of the same policy,
nations should first employ negotiation,
next resort, by arbitration or mediation,
to some form of amicable reference, or, better than all,
should establish a system of justice between nations,
like our codes and courts of law for individuals.3

      Most of the “ultras” supported the more radical Non-Resistance Society founded by Garrison in 1838. On 13 March 1842 in Augusta, Maine the Unitarian minister Sylvester Judd gave a discourse, The Moral Review of the Revolutionary War, or Some of the Evils Considered. John Adams had acknowledged that the real American revolution occurred between 1760 and 1775 and was nonviolent, but that peaceful process was followed by the violent war for independence. The more moderate abolitionist Lewis Tappan in June 1843 represented the American Peace Society at the first World Peace Congress in London.

      Shakers led by Ann Lee came to the United States in 1774. In 1808 the patriotic Legislature of Massachusetts recognize their conscientious scruples and exonerated them from all military duty, and the legislatures of New York, Connecticut, and Kentucky followed that example. In 1818 the Society of People commonly called Shakers issued a Memorial to the respectable Legislature of the State of New Hampshire

containing a brief statement of the principles and reasons
on which their objections and conscientious aversion
to bearing arms, hiring substitutes,
or paying an equivalent in lieu thereof, are founded.4

The following quotations are from that Memorial:

We have sufficient cause, and deem it necessary to object
To the contemplated amendment of the militia bill,
by pleading our claim and conscientious right of exemption
from military requisitions, by our natural,
inherent, and constitutional rights of conscience….
In all free governments it is acknowledged
as a self-evident truth,
that the liberty of conscience is an unalienable right;
consequently no human authority
has a right to claim any jurisdiction over the conscience….
When Christ came, he taught both by precept and example,
to love our enemies, to render good for evil,
and to do to others as we would that others should do to us.
He also commanded saying,
put up again thy sword into his place,
for all they that take the sword
shall perish with the sword….
It may be asked, cannot a man be a christian
and yet bear arms in defence of his country?
To which we answer, Christ has expressly said,
“No man can serve two masters.”…
All we claim is liberty of conscience for ourselves;
and we are willing that all others should enjoy the same….
The constitution of the United States declares that
Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….
Fines, taxes, or imprisonments, imposed upon conscience,
can be nothing less than an abridgment of these rights….
And should we consent to pay a tax as an equivalent
this would be a virtual acknowledgement
that the liberty of conscience is not our natural right;
but may be purchased of government at a stated price….
Therefore viewing the liberty of conscience
more dear to us than life itself,
we feel ourselves impelled
by the most sacred obligations of duty,
to decline rendering our personal services,
hiring substitutes, paying an equivalent,
or doing any thing whatever to aid,
or abet the cause of war,
let the consequences be what they may.
As we consider the conscience
to be the throne of God in man,
and the only medium through which
the light, mind, or will of God, can be revealed;
hence should we consent, either directly or indirectly,
to any cause diametrically contrary to the light
or voice of God in our own consciences,
we conceive that no human law or authority whatever,
can palliate the crime or atone for the sin….
Therefore we confidently trust,
that the enlightened Legislature of this State
will not hesitate to recognize a right
which constitutes the very first principle of liberty;
and that they will continue our exemption
from these requisitions so contrary
to all our views of religious liberty;
to whose consideration and candour,
our conscientious sentiments and observations
on this subject are respectfully submitted.

      The Shakers followed many rules that included chastity and separation of the sexes even though women had equal rights to men and their own leaders. The year 1842 was important for the Shakers, and on January 5 The Youth’s Guide to Zion contained many homilies of spiritual instruction. Here are a few of them:

Gold is valuable, when well refined at the mine;
and much is thought thereof.
Souls are valuable, bright and glorious,
when well refined and tried in time….
Tribulation is sweet to the seeker after righteousness.
It is the staff of humility, and a hand-rail to honesty.
Sincerity of soul in the work of redemption
is worth mountains of gold.
The offerings of the sincere are sweet smelling favors
to the Father of Heaven.
Praise thyself by good works only.
Prudence provides stores for charity to give to the poor;
clothes to cover them, and food to sustain them.
Contentment is a sign of resignation to the cross,
with which all faithful souls are marked.
Let contentment dwell within thy breast.
Be subject thereunto; for it is a lovely guest….
Love meekness, for this is a strong virtue.
Pride will make no tarry with meekness:
but flee away to the high minded zeal.
Zion’s children are called to speak with a new tongue.
Simplicity is in the voice,
and in wisdom it giveth form to its words.5

Unitarians and Channing

      William Ellery Channing was born on 7 April 1780 in Newport, Rhode Island. He attended a preparatory school in New London and went to Harvard University in 1794. He was influenced by the Essay on the History of Civil Society by Adam Ferguson which described social progress and the quest for moral perfection. In 1798 Channing graduated at the top of his class but was not allowed to talk about politics in his commencement address. In November he went to Richmond, Virginia to tutor the children of David Meade Randolph. Channing read books by Mary Wollstonecraft and her husband William Godwin as well as Rousseau even though they were Deists. He returned to Newport in July 1800 and was influenced by the selfless ethics of the Congregationalist theologian Samuel Hopkins who criticized slavery. Channing also adopted ideas from Richard Price, Cervantes, Joseph Priestley, and Francis Hutcheson’s Inquiry into the Originals of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue. While earning his master of arts degree at Harvard, he became a member of a moderate Calvinist church. Channing’s first sermon before the Ministers’ Association for his license to preach was well received, and by June 1803 he became the minister at the Federal Street Congregational Church in Boston until his death.
      On 13 October 1816 Dr. James Freeman preached the first Unitarian sermon in Baltimore, and a Unitarian church was founded in February 1817. They raised $17,350 for a building that ended up costing $100,000, and it took sixty years to pay the debt. Jared Sparks had studied with Channing and chose him to preach at his ordination as the first minister on 5 May 1819. Channing defended Unitarian Christianity, and in 1820 they formed a conference of liberal Congregational ministers, which five years later became the American Unitarian Association. Channing, like Emerson, disliked sectarian squabbles, and he was praised by Emerson above all other ministers. Channing was active in the peace movement, which began in 1815 when Noah Worcester founded the Massachusetts Peace Society, the first influential peace society in the world.
      Channing’s “First Discourse on War” was given to the Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts at Boston in 1816. He described the miseries and crimes of war, their causes, and some possible remedies. In addition to the suffering and destruction, he pointed out how war corrupts the morals of society, promotes “criminal modes of subsistence,” and endows government with dangerous powers. The sources of war are the human propensity for excitement that makes war the deepest game of all, the passion for superiority and power, admiration for warlike deeds, false patriotism that puts one’s nation over others, and upbringing and education which glamorize military exploits.
      Channing saw the remedies as well as the causes to be of a moral nature. Yet he considered national subjugation worse than a war of defense. He argued that just as a government has a right to repress the violence of its own citizens, it also may resist a foreign army because the “very end and office of government is to resist evil men.”6 He suggested that rulers should take more honor in the prosperity of their states than in the extent of their territories. Even more we should honor nations for their free institutions, equal laws, knowledge, benevolence, and justice. We must learn to admire the heroes of conscience, human rights, the martyrs for peace and freedom more than the false attributes of military courage. The peaceful qualities of the Christian teachings ought to be emphasized and demonstrated by its ministers. Courage can reach a much more generous height working for peace than on the rough field of war. He also said,

Let us teach that the honor of a nation
consists not in the forced submission of other states,
but in equal laws and free institutions,
in cultivated fields and prosperous cities;
in the development of intellectual and moral power,
in the diffusion of knowledge, in magnanimity and justice,
in the virtues and blessings of peace.7

      In 1829 he published his book on the Catholic mystic, Fénelon. Spurred to action by Lydia Maria Child’s powerful Appeal in 1833, Channing reluctantly supported abolition in his book Slavery in 1835. He answered the argument that the apostle Paul had advised slaves to obey and masters not to free their slaves by writing that that view was no longer valid because of the situation “in this age of the world and amidst the light which has been thrown on the true interpretation of the Scriptures.”8
      Channing gave another discourse on war on 25 January 1835. He suggested that the most conspicuous use of human wisdom has been to use civil institutions to repress war, retaliation, and the resort to force among citizens of the same state; but governments have organized and let loose their forces against other nations, spreading desolation, misery, and death. All other evils fade in comparison to war. The old barbarous worship of mere courage must be replaced by wise moral judgment. Justice must be the first element of a nation’s honor. People who systematically sacrifice justice for their own selfish interests are basically a band of robbers. The next element of national honor that Channing recommended is the spirit of philanthropy. Spreading education can purify morals and refine manners. Once again Channing disagreed with the nonresistants, as he believed that outrages against peace must be repressed by force. Yet a nation should engage in war wisely, aware of what is right, and with sorrow. Usually a nation loses more by going to war to redress a past wrong. The main consideration should be security for the future. He held that governments have a duty to protect their people from violence and aggression. To make sure that it is being just, a nation should refer disputes to an impartial umpire. An unjust war involves people in the guilt of murder.
      Channing gave a third lecture on war in 1838. Again he described the physical and moral evils of war, which can only be overcome by the principles of universal justice and love. He noted that Europe had been at peace since 1816 and had been able to apply its industry to useful arts. He emphasized the inward morality. He wrote,

No calculations of interest, no schemes of policy
can do the work of love, of the spirit of human brotherhood.
There can be no peace without but through peace within.9

Channing found various reasons why people become insensitive to war. First, it appears common and seems familiar. Second, war is exercised by the great power of the government with its assumption that it is right. Yet he argued that government’s right to war must be bounded, and those who go beyond what is truly right are responsible. Thus he maintained that the citizen before fighting must inquire into the justice of the cause and is “bound to withhold his hand if his conscience condemns the cause.”10 The presumption should be that war is always unjust because of the dangers of false patriotism.
      Channing warned that the attitude of rulers and nations towards foreign states, which is usually partial and unjust, ought to show us that war is rarely just or necessary. He advised the Christian to refuse war and to submit if necessary to prison and execution in martyrdom for peace. We must distinguish between reasonable laws and those which require a person to commit manifest crimes. Every individual is responsible for one’s own actions, even if the rulers claim the “right of war.” In a republican government the rights of speech, press, and peaceful methods of redressing public grievances are extremely valuable. Even in war these freedoms are of great importance. Channing tempered the right of free discussion with the admonition to speak and write only the truth. The third cause of insensitivity he attributed to the deceptive shows, costumes, and splendor by which war is arrayed. Finally he noted that people tend to be blind to the dignity of human nature because they do not see their enemies and dehumanize them.
      Channing also drew lessons from the life of Napoleon and exposed the problems caused by the passion for dominion. On 1 August 1837 Channing published an 80-page open letter to Henry Clay on the “Annexation of Texas.” He reviewed the insurrection and the underlying scheme to take over Mexican territory and considered it the first encroaching step toward crime, war, and the extension of slavery. Although he did not want to see the Union dissolved, he indicated he would prefer that to becoming a partner in this war to spread slavery. He wrote that it would be “an act which is to pledge us as a people to robbery and war, to the work of upholding and extending slavery without limitation or end.”11
      After the death of Noah Worcester in November 1837, Channing wrote a tribute to the saintly founder of the Massachusetts Peace Society. He wrote about Dr. Worcester:

He interpreted literally the precept, “Resist not evil;”
and he believed that nations, as well as individuals,
would find safety, as well as “fulfill righteousness,”
in yielding it literal obedience.
One of the striking traits of his character
was his confidence in the power of love,
I might say, in its omnipotence.
He believed that the surest way to subdue a foe
was to become his friend;
that a true benevolence was a surer defence
than swords, or artillery, or walls of adamant.
He believed that no mightier man
ever trod the soil of America than William Penn,
when entering the wilderness unarmed,
and stretching out to the savage
a hand which refused all earthly weapons,
in token of brotherhood and peace.
There was something grand in the calm confidence
with which he expressed his conviction
of the superiority of moral to physical force.
Armies, fiery passions, quick resentments,
and the spirit of vengeance, miscalled honor, seemed to him
weak, low instruments, inviting, and often hastening,
the ruin which they are used to avert.12

      Abner Kneeland was a Universalist and a Jacksonian Democrat who supported women’s rights and interracial marriage. He founded the First Society of Free Enquiry, and he published the Boston Investigator. In 1834 he was charged with blasphemy, and the Superior Court convicted him after two failed trials. In April 1838 Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw sentenced him to 60 days in jail. Channing and Ellis Loring wrote a petition asking for a pardon that was signed by Emerson, Garrison, Theodore Parker, and George Ripley. Although the petition makes eloquent arguments for free speech, an opposing petition gathered more signatures, and Kneeland served the time. Here are the arguments they gave:

Because the punishment proposed to be inflicted
is believed to be at variance
with the spirit of our institutions and our age,
and with the soundest expositions
of those civil and religious rights which are at once
founded in our nature and guaranteed
by the constitutions of the United States
and this Commonwealth;
Because the freedom of speech and the press
is the chief instrument of the progress of truth
and of social improvements,
and is never to be restrained by legislation,
except when it invades the rights of others
or instigates to specific crimes;
Because, if opinion is to be subjected to penalties,
it is impossible to determine where punishment shall stop,
there being few or no opinions in which an adverse party
may not see threatenings of ruin to the state;
Because truths essential to the existence of society must be
so palpable as to need no protection from the magistrate;
Because the assumption by government
of a right to prescribe or repress opinions
has been the ground of the grossest depravations of religion
and of the most grinding despotisms;
Because religion needs no support from penal law,
and is grossly dishonored by interpositions for its defense,
which imply that it cannot be trusted to its own strength
and to the weapons of reason and persuasion
in the hands of its friends;
Because, by punishing infidel opinions,
we shake one of the strongest foundations of faith, namely,
the evidence which arises to religion from the fact that
it stands firm and gathers strength amid the severest
and most unfettered investigations of its claims;
Because error of opinion is never so dangerous
as when goaded into fanaticism by persecution,
or driven by threatenings to the use of secret arts;
Because it is well known that the most licentious opinions
have, by a natural reaction, sprung up in countries
where the laws have imposed severest restraint
on thought and discussion;
Because the influence of hurtful doctrines
is often propagated by the sympathy
which legal severities awaken toward their supporters;
Because we are unwilling that a man whose unhappy course
has drawn on him general disapprobation should,
by a sentence of the law, be exalted into a martyr
or become identified with the sacred cause of freedom;
and, lastly,
Because we regard with filial jealousy
the honor of this Commonwealth and are unwilling that
it should be exposed to reproach,
as clinging obstinately to illiberal principles,
which the most enlightened minds have exploded.13

      In February 1840 Channing published his lectures “On the Elevation of the Laboring Classes” that he gave to meetings of mechanics and apprentices. He urged workers to develop their intellects and spiritual awareness, saying,

Truth is the light of the Infinite Mind,
and the image of God in his creatures.
Nothing endures but truth.
The dreams, fictions, theories,
which men would substitute for it, soon die.
Without its guidance effort is vain, and hope baseless.
Accordingly, the love of truth, a deep thirst for it,
a deliberate purpose to seek it and hold it fast,
may be considered as the very foundation
of human culture and dignity….
Let our studies be as wide as our condition will allow;
but let this be their highest aim,
to instruct us in our duty and happiness,
in the perfection of our nature,
in the true use of life, in the best direction of our powers.
Then is the culture of intellect an unmixed good,
when it is sacredly used to enlighten the conscience,
to feed the flame of generous sentiment,
to protect us in our common employments,
to throw a grace over our common actions,
to make us sources of innocent cheerfulness
and centres of holy influence,
and to give us courage, strength, stability,
amidst the sudden changes
and sore temptations and trials of life.14

      In March 1842 Channing wrote “The Duty of the Free States; Or, Remarks suggested by the Case of the Creole.” In the legal conflict he noted how the British had freed themselves of slavery, writing,

The question between the American
and English governments turns mainly on one point.
The English government does not recognize
within its bounds any property in man.
It maintains that slavery rests wholly
on local, municipal legislation;
that it is an institution not sustained
and enforced by the law of nature,
and, still more, that it is repugnant to this law;
and that, of course, no man who enters the territory
or is placed under the jurisdiction of England
can be regarded as a slave, but must be treated as free.15

Channing also advised the free states in the North to follow the principle “that it is infinitely more important to preserve a free citizen from being made a slave than to send back a fugitive slave to his chain.”16 At the end of his life Channing wrote that if the spirit of justice and humanity pervaded the country, they would not be easily driven to war. He died in October 1842.

New Harmony, Brook Farm & Hopedale

      The Presbyterian evangelist Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875) led revivals in New York City from the summer of 1829 to the spring of 1834 that came to be known as the Second Great Awakening. He preached that Jesus died for their sins, offering vicarious atonement. In 1834 his wife Lydia Finney organized the New York Moral Reform Society. By 1839 they had 445 auxiliaries and became the American Female Moral Reform Society. They published weekly The Advocate of Moral Reform. In 1838 the Boston Female Moral Reform Society became the New England Female Moral Reform Society. They worked to reduce prostitution and the prejudice of the sexist double standard, and they promoted chastity.

      The Welsh manufacturer and reformer Robert Owen with his son William came to the United States late in 1824. For $150,000 he purchased the 30,000 acres that had become the Harmony Society founded by the German Pietist George Rapp in 1805. Robert Owen spoke in the US House of Representatives to large audiences in 1825 on February 25 and March 7. He had written Discourses on a New System of Society as a basis for a socialist community called “New Harmony” in Indiana. By summer 900 people had moved to New Harmony. Owen set himself up as the sole proprietor with a constitution that was to become elective. He went back to England while his sons William and Robert Dale Owen edited the New Harmony Gazette, and they founded a Masonic lodge and a Female Social Society. Robert Owen returned in January 1826, and on February 5 they implemented the New Harmony Community of Equality with communal sharing and a rule-making assembly of all the adults. On July 4 Owen declared “mental independence” opposing private property, organized religion, and marriage vows, but these ideas were not popular. Owen realized the experiment had failed when he returned again in 1827. New Harmony was dissolved in April as settlers were given long leases on lands for low prices. Owen had lost about four-fifths of his fortune. This experiment was described by Prince Carl Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, in his Travels Through North America during the Years 1825 and 1826.
      In October 1842 another German Pietist by the name of Christian Metz came to the United States and founded the Ebenezer colony for the Community of True Inspiration eight miles from Buffalo, New York. In 1855 he would move his congregation of 1,200 to Iowa to found the Amana Colonies.

      Albert Brisbane was born on 22 August 1809 in Batavia, New York. He went to Europe in 1828, and at Paris he studied privately with the socialist Charles Fourier for two years until 1834 when he returned to the United States. By 1839 he had organized groups in New York and Philadelphia to study Fourier’s ideas, and in 1840 he published his Social Destiny of Man, Or, Association and Reorganization of Industry. In that book he argued that the current misery and injustice in the world were caused by the wrong organization of society. He believed that superior association could relieve the indigence, fraud, oppression, war, derangement of climate, diseases artificially produced, and the vicious circle with no improvement by replacing them with general and graduated riches, practical truth in business and social relations, real and effective liberty, constant peace, equilibrium of temperature and climate, preventive medicine, and by opening to amelioration and improvement. He suggested that monotonous, repugnant, and degrading labor could give way to work and industry that are rendered attractive. In labor he recommended a compact scale among groups, short duration and free choice of occupations, and parceled exercise in occupations and functions.
      His book converted the journalist Horace Greeley who worked with Brisbane to publish the weekly Future on industrial association for two months. When Greeley started publishing the New York Tribune, he gave Brisbane a daily column and paid him $150 a week. Brisbane also wrote for other periodicals including The Dial, and on 5 October 1843 he began publishing The Phalanx, or Journal of Social Science. During the early 1840s Brisbane’s propagation of Fourier’s socialism and others stimulated the forming of experimental communities in Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.

      George Ripley in October 1840 had told the Transcendentalist Club that he was planning to start the Brook Farm commune. He and his wife Sophia raised money, and on 11 October 1841 they purchased land near Theodore Parker’s home in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Ripley accepted only those who could invest $500 or more in the stock company. He was influenced by Brisbane and the socialism of Charles Fourier, and he persuaded Greeley who gave them a regular column on the front page of the New York Tribune from March 1842 to September 1843. In the summer of 1844 they began a building for 14 families and some single persons called the Phalanstery named after Albert Brisbane’s periodical The Phalanx which they took over and renamed The Harbinger in June 1845. The writer Nathaniel Hawthorne soon tired of the experiment, and his novel Blithedale Romance would reflect his experience; but Margaret Fuller was a frequent visitor. On 3 March 1846 the nearly completed Phalanstery accidentally burned down. Ripley left in May and eventually paid off the Brook Farm debt of $17,445 in 1862.

      The Universalist minister Adin Ballou was intent on founding the kingdom of heaven on earth, and he began publishing the biweekly Practical Christian in April 1840. Ballou would also publish his book, Practical Christian Socialism in 1854. A Fraternal Community began at Mendon, Massachusetts on 28 January 1841. In the first year thirty people accepted the constitution for fraternal communism using the methods of temperance, nonviolence, chastity, and other reforms. They also formed anti-slavery, peace, and woman’s rights associations. They set up a joint stock proprietorship with shares of $50 sold to each person. Every man, woman, and some children were paid wages to work eight hours a day six days a week. Later that year the Hopedale Community purchased farm land at Milford, Massachusetts. Members took possession of the farm in April 1842, and within ten years they had 500 acres. Some wanted to change the capitalist investments to a socialist commune, but the joint-stock investment would reach $40,000 by 1856. Ballou wrote in the preface to his book about the Hopedale Community the following:

Let each class of dissenting socialists
stand aloof from our Republic and experiment
to their heart’s content on their own wiser systems.
It is their right to do so uninjured, at their own cost.
It is desirable that they should do so,
in order that it may be demonstrated as soon as possible
which the true social system is.
When the radically defective have failed,
there will be a harmonious concentration of all
the true and good around the Practical Christian Standard.
Meantime the author confides this Cause calmly
to the guidance, guardianship and benediction of God,
even that Heavenly Father who once manifested
his divine excellency in Jesus Christ,
and who ever manifests himself
through the Christ-Spirit to all upright souls.17

      The Transcendentalist Bronson Alcott returned from England in 1842 with the mystic Charles Lane who paid Alcott’s debts and helped his family start the Fruitlands community on 90 acres near Harvard. Lane imposed his ascetic ideas, and the Alcott children grew to hate him. They ate mostly potatoes, apples, and whole-wheat bread and wore linen clothes rather than slave-labor cotton or wool from sheep. Lane also opposed using animals as slaves. In January 1844 Lane and his son left to live with the Shakers. Louisa May Alcott would write The Transcendental Wild Oats based on her experience, but it would not be published until 1873.

Bancroft on the Human Spirit

      George Bancroft wrote the first volume of his famous History of the United States in 1834, and the entire series of six volumes would cover up to 1782. In August 1835 he gave an oration at Williamstown College on “The Common Man in Art, Politics, and Religion.” Here are some excerpts from this brilliant speech:

   There is a spirit in man: not in the privileged few;
not in those of us only who by the favor of Providence
have been nursed in public schools.
It is in man; it is the attribute of the race.
The Spirit, which is the guide to truth,
is the gracious gift to each member of the human family….
   In questions of practical duty conscience is God’s umpire,
whose light illuminates every heart.
There is nothing in books which had not first
and has not still its life within us.
Religion itself is a dead letter
wherever its truths are not renewed in the soul.
Individual conscience may be corrupted by interest
or debauched by pride,
yet the rule of morality is distinctly marked.
Its harmonies are to the mind like music to the ear;
and the moral judgment, when carefully analyzed
and referred to its principles, is always founded in right….
   If reason is a universal faculty,
the universal decision is the nearest criterion of truth.
The common mind winnows opinions;
it is the sieve which separates error from certainty.
The exercise by many
of the same faculty on the same subject
would naturally lead to the same conclusions.
But if not, the very differences of opinion that arise
prove the supreme judgment of the general mind.
Truth is one.
It never contradicts itself:
One truth cannot contradict another truth.
Hence truth is a bond of union.
But error not only contradicts truth,
but may contradict itself;
so that there may be many errors,
and each at variance with the rest.
Truth is therefore of necessity an element of harmony;
error is necessarily an element of discord.
Thus there can be no continuing universal judgment
but a right one.
Men cannot agree in an absurdity;
neither can they agree in a falsehood….
   A government of equal rights must, therefore,
rest upon mind; not wealth, not brute force,
the sum of the moral intelligence of the community
should rule the State.
Prescription can no more assume to be
a valid plea for political injustice.
Society studies to eradicate established abuses and to bring
social institutions and laws into harmony with moral right,
not dismayed by the natural and necessary imperfections
of all human effort, and not giving way to despair,
because every hope does not at once ripen into fruit.
   The public happiness is the true object of legislation,
and can be secured only by the masses of mankind
themselves awakening to the knowledge
and the care of their own interests.
Our free institutions have reversed
the false and ignoble distinctions between men;
and refusing to gratify the pride of caste,
have acknowledged the common mind
to be the true material for a commonwealth….
   It is not by vast armies, by immense natural resources,
by accumulations of treasure, that the greatest results
in modern civilization have been accomplished.
The traces of the career of conquest pass away,
hardly leaving a scar on the national intelligence.
The famous battle grounds of victory are, most of them,
comparatively indifferent to the human race;
barren fields of blood, the scourges of their times
but affecting the social condition
as little as the raging of a pestilence.
Not one benevolent institution,
not one ameliorating principle in the Roman state
was a voluntary concession of the aristocracy;
each useful element was borrowed
from the democracies of Greece
or was a reluctant concession to the demands of the people.
The same is true in the modern political life.
It is the confession of an enemy to Democracy, that
“all the great and noble institutions of the world
have come from popular efforts.”
   The universality of the intellectual and moral powers
and the necessity of their development for the progress
of the race proclaim the great doctrine of the natural right
of every human being to moral and intellectual culture.
It is the glory of our fathers to have established in their laws
the equal claims of every child
to the public care of its morals and its mind.
From this principle we may deduce
the universal right to leisure;
that is, to time not appropriated to material purposes,
but reserved for the culture
of the moral affections and the mind.
It does not tolerate the exclusive enjoyment of leisure
by a privileged class, but, defending the rights of labor,
would suffer none to sacrifice
the higher purposes of existence
in unceasing toil for that which is not life.
   Such is the voice of nature;
such the conscious claim of the human mind.
The universe opens its pages to every eye;
the music of creation rebounds in every ear;
the glorious lessons of immortal truth
that are written in the sky and on the earth
address themselves to every mind,
and claim attention from every human being.
God has made man upright
that he might look before and after;
and he calls upon everyone not merely to labor,
but to reflect;
not merely to practice the revelations of Divine Will,
but to contemplate the displays of Divine Power.
Nature claims for every man leisure,
for she claims every man as a witness to the Divine Glory,
manifested in the created world….
   The right to universal education being thus acknowledged
by our conscience not less than by our laws,
it follows that the people is the true recipient of truth.
Do not seek to conciliate individuals;
do not dread the frowns of a sect;
do not yield to the proscriptions of a party;
but pour out truth into the common mind.
Let the writers of intelligence,
like the rains of heaven, descend on the whole earth.
And be not discouraged
by the dread of encountering ignorance.
The prejudices of ignorance are more easily removed
than the prejudices of interest;
the first are blindly adopted; the second willfully preferred.
   Intelligence must be diffused among the whole people;
truth must be scattered among those
who have no interest to suppress its growth.
The seeds that fall on the exchange
or in the hum of business may be choked by the thorns
that spring up in the hotbed of avarice;
the seeds that are let fall in the salon may be
like those dropped by the wayside which take no root.
Let the young aspirant after glory scatter the seeds of truth
broadcast on the wide bosom of humanity;
in the deep, fertile soil of the public mind.
There it will strike deep root and spring up
and bear a hundred fold, and bloom for ages
and ripen fruit through remote generations….
   Yes, truth is immortal; it cannot be destroyed;
it is invincible, it cannot long be resisted.
Not every great principle has yet been generated;
but when once proclaimed and diffused,
it lives without end in the safe custody of the race.
States may pass away; every just principle of legislation
which has been once established will endure.
Philosophy has sometimes forgotten God;
a great people never did.
The skepticism of the last century
could not uproot Christianity
because it lived in the hearts of the millions.
Do you think that infidelity is spreading?
Christianity never lived in the hearts
of so many millions as at this moment.
The forms under which it is professed may decay;
for they, like all that is the work of man’s hands,
are subject to the changes and chances of mortal being.
But the spirit of truth is incorruptible:
it may be developed, illustrated, and applied;
it never can die; it never can decline.
   No truth can perish; no truth can pass away.
The flame is undying, though generations disappear.
Wherever moral truth has started into being,
humanity claims and guards the bequest.
Each generation gathers together
the imperishable children of the past and increases them
by new sons of light, alike radiant with immortality.18

Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon

      Joseph Smith Jr. was born on 23 December 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. At age seven he suffered a bone infection and used crutches for three years. In 1811 the Smith family moved to Lebanon, New Hampshire, and by 1817 they were in Palmyra, New York. Joseph grew to be six foot two inches, and he was strong and liked to wrestle. Revivals at camp meetings got Joseph interested in religion. His parents and a grandfather had visions and dreams they thought were from God. Joseph was exposed to different religious beliefs and tended toward Methodism. His mother recalled how he would tell his family stories about the ancient inhabitants of America. Joseph attended school briefly and studied the Bible at home. In the spring of 1820 he was in the woods when he had a vision of a pillar of light which he identified as Jesus Christ who forgave his sins. In 1824 Josiah Priest copyrighted The Wonders of Nature and Providence, which argued that American Indians came from Israel, in the same New York office, where the Book of Mormon would be copyrighted five years later.
      On 21 September 1823 the Smiths discussed the diversity of churches and many of the opinions about scriptures. That night Joseph prayed and saw the lighted being Moroni in a robe who told him of golden plates with writing about “the former inhabitants of this continent” with the “everlasting Gospel” that was “delivered by the Saviour.” A breastplate also contained two stones, Urim and Thummim, that could be used to translate the book. Moroni quoted biblical prophecies and told Joseph to prepare for the last days. He advised him not to show the plates and stones to anyone. The next day Joseph found the plates, but the angel rebuked him for touching them. The angel warned him that the plates must not be used to obtain riches.
      Joseph’s older brother Alvin became ill, and before dying on November 23 he told Joseph “to obtain the Record.” One year later a revival occurred in Palmyra and other towns. Joseph saw greed in these Christians and preferred to read the Bible. He and his brother Hyrum worked in mining to aid their family, and Joseph used a stone to help people find lost things. In 1826 a court in Chenango County accused him of trying to find lost treasure by glass-looking, and he gave up seeking for riches.
      In January 1827 Joseph Smith married 22-year-old Emma Hale without her parents’ consent. Joseph annually on September 22 visited Cumorah, the place where he found the golden plates, and this year he was permitted to remove them. The angel told him not to show them to anyone else, but he was urged to translate them from “reformed Egyptian” and publish them. Treasure hunters wanted the plates, and in October he moved to Harmony, Pennsylvania to live with his wife’s parents. Joseph said that the two crystals helped him translate the plates.
      In February 1828 Martin Harris began assisting Joseph Smith as a secretary. Joseph decided to bring the golden plates home, and on the way he was assaulted twice but escaped. Harris estimated that the plates weighed about fifty pounds. Harris lost the first 116-page manuscript in June, and Joseph said the angel stopped the translating until September. Harris showed some letters to the Columbia College professor Charles Anthon who said that they were Greek, Hebrew, and strange marks; but Harris reported that Anthon gave him a certificate saying they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic. Harris reported that Joseph looked at the Urim and Thummim crystals while dictating from behind a curtain. Harris would provide funds from his farm for the publishing.
      In April 1829 Oliver Cowdery replaced Harris taking dictation, and in June they moved to Fayette, New York. That spring they translated 1 Nephi to replace the lost 116 pages, and they completed the project by July. Joseph showed the plates to Harris, Cowdery, and David Whitmer, who are known as the “three witnesses.” His father and brothers Hyrum and Samuel along with four Whitmers and Hiram Page also claimed they saw them. Later in 1838 Joseph Smith said that at this time John the Baptist appeared to him and Cowdery and conferred the Aaronic priesthood on them. They baptized and ordained each other, and Joseph was told that he would be First Elder of the Church and Cowdery Second Elder. Those who believed in the book would be baptized. Joseph had the title page of the Book of Mormon copyrighted at Utica on 11 June 1829, and they started printing it that summer. Abner Cole began publishing his Palmyra weekly Reflector in September and included a long excerpt from the book in December. Joseph confronted Cole who wanted to fight; but Smith persuaded him to accept arbitration, and Cole promised not to print from it any more.
      On 26 March 1830 Joseph Smith published his 588-page Book of Mormon in Palmyra. Written in the biblical style of the Old and New Testaments, this book purports to be an account of a lost tribe of Israel that sailed to the North American continent about 600 BC. The idea that he translated writing from the golden plates is implausible since he did not know any ancient language. His two “translators” were not allowed to look at the plates except on one brief occasion. Joseph dictated the text from behind a curtain using the two crystals. In my opinion the most reasonable explanation for this extraordinary book is that he channeled it from spiritual entities in combination with his own knowledge of the Bible and his imagination. Joseph’s wife Emma later told her son that Joseph dictated to her for hours at a time even though he was “ignorant and unlearned.”
      In 2 Nephi 2:27 is written,

Men are free according to the flesh;
and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.
And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life,
through the great Mediator of all men,
or to choose captivity and death,
according to the captivity and power of the devil.

In some ways the Book of Mormon is similar to Muhammad’s Qur’an. Like that scripture of Islam and the Judeo-Christian Bible, spiritual salvation and eternal life are contrasted to the punishment of everlasting damnation. In 2 Nephi 5 the Nephites separate themselves from the Lamanites who because of their unbelieving are cursed and are given dark skin. In 2 Nephi 26 all men are considered alike with God; but in Joseph’s Book of Abraham in 1835 he wrote that Noah cursed the descendants of Ham with black skin, and so they could not be priests. This betrays the racism against Africans and native Americans that would haunt Mormon history. In Jacob 2 that prophet criticizes the desire for riches, pride, and lechery, but he encouraged people to seek riches in order to help others. Jacob also condemned plural marriage.
      Mormon is the military leader of the Nephites for about 60 years up to 385 CE. Eventually the darker-skinned Lamanites wipe out the Nephites after the latter became corrupt; the history ended in 421 CE. Thus the Lamanites were the ancestors of the native Americans who need to be converted to Christianity.
      Alexander Campbell, who founded the successful Disciples of Christ, wrote a critique of the Book of Mormon for the Millennial Harbinger in February 1831 which was published the next year in Boston as the pamphlet Delusions: An Analysis of the Book of Mormon; with an Examination of Its Internal and External Evidences, and Refutation of Its Pretences to Divine Authority, and he called the book a “romance.” The Book of Mormon contradicts archaeological evidence with the use of horses and steel, and the account does not harmonize with native Americans’ history or traditions. DNA evidence backs up the theory that native Americans came from east Asia across the land bridge, not from Semites. Joseph was likely influenced by Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews which was published in 1823 because later in his life he was known to have seen the book. The prophet Nephi was so influenced by Isaiah that thirteen chapters are a translation of Isaiah 2-14, and eight other chapters also quote from or refer to specific chapters in Isaiah.
      In 3 Nephi that prophet begins preaching repentance and belief in the Christ. After the storms during the crucifixion the voice of Christ is heard, and Jesus Christ appears to the Nephi people and preaches. In chapter 12 he empowers 12 disciples, and his teachings found in the Gospels are presented. In 4 Nephi all the Nephites and Lamanites have been converted to the Church of Christ, but in the next two centuries division, evils, and false churches arise. After another century the Nephites and Lamanites have become bad, and the Lamanites wipe out the Nephites.

Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church 1830-38

      On 6 April 1830 Joseph Smith and six others started a Church of Christ. A mob threatened them, and Joseph was arrested and tried for disorderly conduct but was acquitted. He and Cowdery had to flee from a mob. Joseph in June had a revelation with Moses. In the first chapter of Joseph’s Book of Moses he prayed to God and “stood in the presence of God” and was given wisdom. Joseph’s interpretation of Genesis was included in that book. He discussed Enoch and the anger in human hearts. God reveals to Enoch that Christ will come and spread truth.
      In January 1831 Joseph led 70 Mormons from New York to Kirtland, Ohio, where Cowdery had converted Sidney Rigdon and about a hundred Campbellite Restorationists. Joseph adopted their communal sharing and called it the “United Order.” A storehouse was to provide for the poor and to purchase land for the New Jerusalem. After a conference in June a revelation sent fourteen pairs of elders to Missouri where Cowdery had settled in Jackson County. He reported that it was the New Jerusalem.
      Ezra Booth had critical letters accusing Joseph of fraud published in the Ohio Star, and Sidney Rigdon replied. In January 1832 the Amherst Conference recognized Joseph as the President of the High Priesthood. On March 24 about a dozen men abducted Joseph from his bedroom at night, and others took Rigdon. They stripped Joseph‘s body, beat him, tried to poison him, tarred and feathered him, and left him to die. Joseph made it to the Johnsons’ house, and that night they scraped the tar off, making his flesh raw.
      Joseph revealed, “If ye are not equal in earthly things, ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things,”19 but everyone can improve their talents. Lack of property to help those in poverty led to his ending the communism. Like some similar sharing communities in this period, this one lasted only two years. He renamed the Mormon church the “Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.” Joseph in September clarified that the Aaronic priesthood is for administering the law and the higher Melchizedek priesthood for the new dispensation of Christ. Mormons published the monthly Evening and the Morning Star in Independence, Missouri from June 1832 until July 1833.
      Joseph and Mormon Bishop Whitney in October 1832 visited New York, where a cholera epidemic was killing hundreds. They returned on November 6, the day his son Joseph Smith III was born. A few days later Brigham Young arrived. The elders and high priests at Hiram decided to publish Joseph’s 65 revelations through September, and in 1833 they printed 3,000 copies of the Book of Commandments.
      In December 1832 Joseph had revelations for two days and said, “Intelligence, or the light of truth was not created or made.”20 He organized a School of the Prophets for training elders, and he greeted students as friends and brothers. Joseph’s revelation on Christmas Day advised a diet of wholesome plants with little meat, and he forbade using tobacco, liquor, coffee, and tea. He also mentioned South Carolina where a convention had nullified a tariff that favored the north, and he warned of “troubles among nations,” the North fighting the South which would have Britain as an ally, and a slave uprising and later Indian violence. He predicted that the South Carolina rebellion would lead to a war that would begin there and “terminate in the death and misery of many souls.”
      A conference of the School of the Prophets on 22 January 1833 began with speaking in tongues. In April the school disbanded as missionaries were sent out. That summer conflicts with their neighbors led them to believe that the Mormons might take over the county. In July a mob destroyed their property and warned them to leave Jackson County, and by November the Mormons had moved across the Missouri River to Clay County. That fall Joseph toured Canada on a mission.
      Mormons published the Evening and the Morning Star from December 1833 to September 1834, and then in October they changed the name to the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate which was published for three years. In May 1834 Joseph organized a militia of 200 men, and he led them to Missouri where they set up Zion’s Camp. On June 24 cholera broke out. Joseph healed by laying on hands, but this time it gave him cholera; 68 were infected, and 14 died. He left Zion’s Camp in July. Missouri was a slave state, and Mormons were not slave-holders, though Joseph recognized the South’s right to hold slaves because the practice was in the Bible.
      Joseph returned to Kirtland on August 1, and in February 1834 he organized the High Council and founded the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Michael Chandler sold Joseph four Egyptian mummies with scrolls in July 1835, and he used them to write the Book of Abraham. Based on the examples of Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon, he began to consider plural marriage and practiced it secretly. The Book of Commandments was expanded into the Doctrine and Covenants in August. In that book he revealed, “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” (82:6) Joseph’s grandfather Asael Smith was a Universalist believing that salvation is for all souls. Now Joseph explained that “endless torment” in the Book of Mormon meant God’s punishment because torment for sins is temporary.
      In January 1837 Joseph and other leaders formed the Kirtland Society Anti-Banking Company and issued bank notes, but the bank failed a month later. He started a merchandise store, borrowed to get inventory, and ran up a debt of $100,000. Joseph was the treasurer but resigned in June. Debt collectors pressured them. A warrant for banking fraud was issued for Joseph’s arrest, and he and Sidney Rigdon were each fined $1,000 for issuing bank notes without a charter. The Book of Mormon was revised with more than 3,000 revisions including changing “which” to “who” more than 700 times and “saith” to “said” over 200 times. In June they sent missionaries to Britain, and in December the Church expelled dissenters over conflicts involving land in Caldwell County, Missouri. Joseph and Rigdon left Kirtland in January 1838, and in March they reached Far West, Missouri. There on July 4 Rigdon gave his “Salt Sermon” in which he warned about persecution and a possible “war of extermination.” The Church leader David Patten organized the secret Danites to fight against the mobs.
      The city of Gallatin, Missouri declared that the Mormons could not vote on August 6. One week later officers arrested Joseph who refused to be tried in Daviess County. General David Atchison commanded the Missouri militia, and he went to Far West and on September 3 promised to protect Joseph during the trial. He stationed militia on the Caldwell border. Mormons in July had moved to De Witt in Carroll County, and in the August election all but 8 votes were opposed to Mormons living there. On September 20 vigilantes led by William Austin demanded the Mormons leave, and on October 1 they burned a Mormon house. Mormons left De Witt and moved north, and Joseph mobilized forces in Caldwell and replaced Sampson Avard as commander of the Danites. The 500 Mormons forced hostile persons in Daviess to move and burned fifty buildings. They held off the Missouri militia at Crooked River on the 24th while Patten and two other Mormons were killed.
      On October 27 Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs ordered General John B. Clark to drive out the Mormons or exterminate them, and he called out 2,500 state militia. On the 30th a band of 250 Regulators and militia attacked the Mormons at Haun’s Mill in Caldwell County and killed 17 Mormons. The next day about 2,500 state troops arrested Smith and other Mormon leaders. Major-General Samuel Lucas ordered Brigadier-General Doniphan to shoot them; but he refused to murder them and transferred them to Liberty in Clay County for trial. Many considered the Mormons a persecuted minority, but several anti-Mormon pamphlets were published in 1838.

Smith, Brigham Young and Mormons 1839-44

      Brigham Young was born on 1 June 1801 in Whitingham, Vermont. His father had fought for George Washington in the War of Independence. His mother died when he was fourteen. In 1816 his younger brother Lorenzo had a dream in which the Saviour said that he wanted Brigham. His father asked Brigham to take a temperance pledge; but he said no because he would not give up his liberty. When he was 23, Brigham married Miriam Works and moved to Aurelia, New York. His family had been poor, and he worked as a painter, glazier, and carpenter. He attended various churches and decided to join the Methodists.
      In the spring of 1829 Brigham Young moved to Mendon and came across the Book of Mormon in April 1830. After studying it for two years he visited the Mormon church in Columbia, Pennsylvania and was convinced. He consulted his older brother Joseph who was preaching Methodism in Canada. Brigham was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on 15 April 1832, and a few months later he went to Kirtland, Ohio and met the prophet Joseph Smith who said Young’s gift of tongues was “of God.” He also said that Young would preside over the church, but another report had him saying he would lead it to hell. Young’s wife was also baptized, but she died of tuberculosis in September.
      In February 1834 Brigham Young married Mary Ann Angel. He built and painted houses, went to Hebrew school, and assisted the prophet Joseph. In February 1835 Joseph chose Young as one of the Twelve Apostles, and in the spring he traveled in the east as a missionary.
      During the Mormon War of 1838 Young managed to avoid being arrested. After the death of Patten and Thomas Marsh leaving the Mormons with his wife, Young became the President of the Twelve Apostles and led about 3,000 Mormons from Missouri to Quincy, Illinois.
      In a letter on 20 March 1839 Joseph Smith wrote in admiration of the United States Constitution, and he warned against organizing bands like the Danites. After being a prisoner for six months, Joseph gave whiskey to get the guards drunk, and in April he and four other Mormon prisoners escaped and went to Quincy, Illinois where Brigham Young had become the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and provided refuge for 14,000 Mormons. Joseph formed a council that advised moving to Commerce, Illinois. He bought land there by the Mississippi River and named the Mormon town “Nauvoo” which they began to build after the conference in April 1840.
      In the summer of 1839 Joseph had sent Brigham Young and other apostles on missions to Britain where they converted factory workers and others. The wealthy physician John C. Bennett became Mayor of Nauvoo and Assistant President of the church. That summer and in the next two summers the Mormons suffered from a malaria plague. Yet in five years Nauvoo became a city of 15,000, equal to Chicago at that time. Joseph began writing the story of his life.
      In the fall of 1839 Joseph Smith went to Washington with Judge Elias Higbee. On November 29 they were received at the White House by President Van Buren who said he could do nothing for them. Illinois Senator Richard M. Young loaned them money, and he presented to the Senate their requests by 678 petitioners to be compensated for lost property in Missouri. Joseph spoke to large audiences including 3,000 in Philadelphia. In Washington he lectured on the common beliefs of Christians. Higbee stayed in Washington to receive in March 1840 the report from the congressional committee which ruled that redress could only come from the Missouri courts. On December 16 Governor Thomas Carlin signed the bill for the Nauvoo charter that gave city officers much authority. They started the Nauvoo Legion, a militia for all Mormon men between the ages of 18 and 45.
      Brigham Young and several apostles had sailed in March 1840 from New York to Liverpool. By 1841 there were 5,814 British Mormons. They published 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon, 3,000 hymnals, and 50,000 tracts, and they started the monthly Millennial Star. Young encouraged emigration and offered farm land.
      In January 1841 Joseph Smith revealed that they would build a temple and a boardinghouse where his family could live and welcome visitors. In the summer Missouri tried to extradite Joseph Smith for treason, arson, and robbery in 1838, but Illinois Supreme Court Judge Stephen Douglas heard the case and voided the writ on a technicality.
      Joseph had begun considering plural marriage in 1831, but he did not “seal” a second marriage to Louisa Beaman until April 1841. In the next 30 months Joseph married about thirty more women, ten of whom were already married. Mayor Bennett seduced many women. Joseph made him resign and became mayor himself, and Bennett left. The Church recorded a revelation on plural marriage in 1843. Joseph never advocated it publicly, and the Mormon practice did not become widely known until 1852.
      In March 1842 the Relief Society gave Mormon women a role in administration, and Joseph’s wife Emma was made its president. In a congressional election Joseph backed the Whig Cyrus Walker, but his brother Hyrum Smith told Mormons to vote for Joseph Hoge who promised not to use the militia against the Mormons. When Hoge won, the Whigs were furious at the Mormons. Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs was wounded by an assassin in May, and Joseph Smith’s bodyguard was suspected but later acquitted.
      Joseph’s wife Emma objected to his having twelve other wives, and she persuaded him to settle for two sisters who were 18 and 19. He agreed because he had already married them, and they were wedded to him again in Emma’s presence on May 11. That month Joseph added four teenage wives to the nine he had.
      In June a mass meeting in Illinois resolved that the Mormons had too much power. That summer Joseph preached the millennial Kingdom of God with theocratic rule for the Earth. He was initiated into Freemasonry and experimented with some of their rituals such as endowment, and by October the Masonic lodge in Nauvoo had 253 members. John C. Bennett in a letter to the New York Herald in August called for a war against the Mormons, and the Boston Transcript agreed. He also published Mormonism Exposed.
      In June 1843 Joseph Smith was extradited to Missouri on an old charge and arrested, but Mormons helped him get released on bail at Nauvoo. On July 12 he announced that a revelation told him to restore plural marriage because the Mormons were the new Israel. He announced he was running for US President and sent out missionaries to promote Mormonism and his candidacy. He wrote letters to the other candidates and got responses from Clay and Calhoun to whom he wrote a long reply. He campaigned that he wanted to “ameliorate the condition of all: black or white, bond or free,” and he promised compensated emancipation. He favored annexing Oregon after the Indians consented. He also wanted to annex Texas, California, Canada, and Mexico.
      In March 1844 Joseph Smith formed the Council of Fifty to decide secretly which laws to obey. Plans were made to settle Mormons in Texas, California, or Oregon. He proposed marriage to two women and excommunicated their husbands on April 18. Dissidents got charges filed against Joseph for perjury and polygamy. Joseph desired the wife of William Law, and on June 7 the couple rebelled and published one edition of the Nauvoo Expositor to criticize Smith and advocate Mormon reforms. The Nauvoo City Council had the Expositor’s press destroyed, and the Warsaw Signal’s editor Thomas Sharp called for weapons. On June 18 Joseph declared martial law. Governor Thomas Ford warned him and the Nauvoo City Council to surrender, or they would face the militia. On the 23rd Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum turned themselves in at Carthage to stand trial. Governor Ford promised to protect them from a mob, but he used only the Carthage militia. Four days later Joseph was preparing for his treason trial when armed men stormed the jail and shot both brothers. Joseph had a revolver which had been smuggled in to him, and he wounded three attackers. He was shot while trying to escape out a window. He cried out, “O Lord, my God” and died. Five men were tried for the murders but were acquitted.
      After the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith on 27 June 1844, Sidney Rigdon returned to Nauvoo on August 3 and planned a conference for August 8. Brigham Young arrived on the 6th. At the conference Rigdon spoke first for an hour and a half; but Young won over the people because he sounded more like Joseph Smith. He believed in the greatest good for the greatest number and said he was nothing without the guidance of God. He suggested a meeting of the quorums that afternoon, and they accepted the Twelve Apostles headed by Young over Rigdon. The latter led a few followers secretly to his home in Pittsburgh where they established a Mormon church and newspaper; but that group did not last long.


1. Quoted in Radical Pacifists in Antebellum America by Peter Brock, p. 72.
2. An Essay on a Congress of Nations, p. xlix-l by William Ladd quoted in Plans for World Peace through Six Centuries by Sylvester John Hemleben, p. 106.
3. The Annals of America, Volume 7, p. 381.
4. Conscience in America: A Documentary History of Conscientious Objection in America 1757-1967 ed. Lillian Schlissel.
5. The People Called Shakers: A Search for the Perfect Society by Edward Deming Andrews, p. 188.
6. Discourses on War by William Ellery Channing, p. 33.
7. The Works of William E. Channing, D.D., p. 649.
8. Quoted in Channing: The Reluctant Radical by Jack Mendelsohn, p. 251.
9. The Works of William E. Channing, D.D., p. 673.
10. Ibid., p. 676.
11. Ibid., p. 261.
12. Ibid., p. 605-606.
13. The Annals of America, Volume 6, p. 423.
14. The Works of William E. Channing, D.D., p. 45, 50-51.
15. Ibid., p. 856.
16. Ibid., p. 874.
17. Quoted in Strange Cults & Utopias of 19th-Century America by John Humphrey Noyes, p. 129.
18. The Annals of America, Volume 6, p. 128-136.
19. Doctrine and Covenants 78:6.
20. Ibid., 82:5.

Copyright © 2020 by Sanderson Beck

American Revolutions 1744-1817 has been published as a book .
For ordering information, please click here.

Brazil, Argentina & Chile 1817-44
Venezuela, Colombia & Peru 1817-44

Caribbean & Central America 1817-44
Mexico and Democracy 1817-44
US Era of Monroe & J. Q. Adams 1817-2
Native Tribes, Removal & the West
Jacksonian Democracy 1829-37
US Depression, Van Buren & Tyler 1837-44
Canada Becomes Democratic 1817-44
Slavery and Abolitionists 1817-44
Women Reforming America 1817-44
American Philosophy & Religion 1817-44
Emerson’s Transcendentalism
Literature of Irving, Cooper & Whittier
Summary & Evaluating America 1817-44

World Chronology to 1830
Chronology of America to 1844

BECK index