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A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Even More On The History Of Mormonism
Even More On The Religious Puzzle
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
History Of Mormonism
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Introductory Remarks
Last Days At Kirtland
More On Mormonism Social Puzzle
More On The History Of Mormonism
More On The Religious Puzzle
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Mormonism The Political Puzzle
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Notes On The History Of Mormonism
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Sidney Rigdon
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Political Puzzle
The Political Puzzle Continued
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Religious Puzzle
The Religious Puzzle Notes
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Smith Family
The Social And Society Puzzle
The Social Puzzle
The Social Puzzle Notes
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts


The Story Of The Mormons

A State Of Civil War
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Last Days At Kirtland
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Sidney Rigdon
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Reformation
The Smith Family
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts



Rivalries Over The Succession








Rigdon was not alone in contending for the successorship to
Joseph Smith as the head of the Mormon church. The prophet's
family defended vigorously the claim of his eldest son to be his
successor.* Lee says that the prophet had bestowed the right of
succession on his eldest son by divination, and that "it was then
[after his father's death understood among the Saints that young
Joseph was to succeed his father, and that right justly belonged
to him," when he should be old enough. Lee says further that he
heard the prophet's mother plead with Brigham Young, in Nauvoo,
in 1845, with tears, not to rob young Joseph of his birthright,
and that Young conceded the son's claim, but warned her to keep
quiet on the subject, because "you are only laying the knife to
the throat of the child. If it is known that he is the rightful
successor of his father, the enemy of the Priesthood will seek
his life."** Strang says, "Anyone who was in Nauvoo in 1846 or
1847 knows that the majority of those who started to the Western
exodus, started in this hope," that the younger Joseph would take
his father's place .***

* The prophet's sons were Joseph, born November 6, 1832; Fred G.
W., June 20, 1836; Alexander, June 2, 1838; Don Carlos, June 13,
1840; and David H., November 18, 1844.

** "Mormonism Unveiled," pp. 155, 161.

*** Strang's "Prophetic Controversy," p. 4.


At the last day of the Conference held in the Temple in Nauvoo,
in October, 1845, Mother Smith, at her request, was permitted to
make an address. She went over the history of her family, and
asked for an expression of opinion whether she was "a mother in
Israel." One universal "yes" rang out. She said she hoped all her
children would accompany the Saints to the West, and if they did
she would go; but she wanted her bones brought back to be buried
beside her husband and children. Brigham Young then said: "We
have extended the helping hand to Mother Smith. She has the best
carriage in the city, and, while she lives, shall ride in it when
and where she pleases." * Mother Smith died in the summer of 1856
in Nauvoo, where she spent the last two years of her life with
Joseph's first wife, Emma, who had married a Major Bideman.

* Millennial Star, Vol. VII, p. 23.


Emma caused the Twelve a good deal of anxiety after her husband's
death. Pratt describes a council held by her, Marks, and others
to endeavor to appoint a trustee-in-trust for the whole church,
the necessity of which she vigorously urged. Pratt opposed the
idea, and nothing was done about it.* Soon after her husband's
death the Times and Seasons noticed a report that she was
preparing, with the assistance of one of the prophet's Iowa
lawyers, an exposure of his "revelations," etc. James Arlington
Bennett, who visited Nauvoo after the prophet's death, acting as
correspondent for the New York Sun, gave in one of his letters
the text of a statement which he said Emma had written, to this
effect, "I never for a moment believed in what my husband called
his apparitions or revelations, as I thought him laboring under a
diseased mind; yet they may all be true, as a prophet is seldom
without credence or honor, excepting in his own family or
country." Mrs. Smith, in a letter to the Sun, dated December 30,
1845, pronounced this letter a forgery, while Bennett maintained
that he knew that it was genuine.**

*Pratt's "Autobiography," p. 373.

** Emma Smith is described as "a tall, dark, masculine looking
woman" in "Sketches and Anecdotes of the Old Settlers."


The organization--or, as they define it, the reorganization of a
church by those who claim that the mantle of Joseph Smith, Jr.,
descended on his sons, had its practical inception at a
conference at Beloit, Wisconsin, in June, 1852, at which
resolutions were adopted disclaiming all fellowship with Young
and other claimants to the leadership of the church, declaring
that the successor of the prophet "must of necessity be the seed
of Joseph Smith, Jr." At a conference held in Amboy, Illinois, in
April, 1860, Joseph Smith's son and namesake was placed at the
head of this church, a position which he still holds. The
Reorganized Church has been twice pronounced by United States
courts to be the one founded under the administration of the
prophet. Its teachings may be called pure Mormonism, free from
the doctrines engrafted in after years. It holds that "the
doctrines of a plurality and community of wives are heresies, and
are opposed to the law of God." Its declaration of faith declares
its belief in baptism by immersion, the same kind of organization
(apostles, prophets, pastors, etc.) that existed in the primitive
church, revelations by God to man from time to time "until the
end of time," and in "the powers and gifts of the everlasting
gospel, viz., the gift of faith, discerning of spirits, prophesy,
revelation, healing, visions, tongues, and the interpretation of
tongues." No one ever heard of this church having any trouble
with its Gentile neighbors.

The Reorganized Church moved its headquarters to Lamoni, Iowa, in
1881. It has a present membership of 45,381, according to the
report of the General Church Recorder to the conference of April,
1901. Of these members, 6964 were foreign,--286 in Canada, 1080
in England, and 1955 in the Society Islands. The largest
membership in this country is 7952 in Iowa, 6280 in Missouri, and
3564 in Michigan. Utah reported 685 members.

The most determined claimant to the successorship of Smith was
James J. Strang. Born at Scipio, New York, in 1813, Strang was
admitted to the bar when a young man, and moved to Wisconsin.
Some of the Mormons who went into the north woods to get lumber
for the Nauvoo Temple planted a Stake near La Crosse, under Lyman
Wight, in 1842. Trouble ensued very soon with their non-Mormon
neighbors, and after a rather brief career the supporters of this
Stake moved away quietly one night. Strang heard of the Mormon
doctrines from these settlers, accepted their truth, and visiting
Nauvoo, was baptized in February, 1844, made an elder, and
authorized to plant another Stake in Wisconsin. He first
attempted to found a city called Voree, where a temple covering
more than two acres of ground, with twelve towers, was begun.

When Smith was killed, Strang at once came forward with a
declaration that the prophet's revelations indicated that, at the
close of his own prophetic office, another would be called to the
place by revelation, and ordained at the hands of angels; that
not only had he (Strang) been so ordained, but that Smith had
written to him in June, 1844, predicting the end of his own work,
and telling Strang that he was to gather the people in a Zion in
Wisconsin. Strang began at once giving out revelations,
describing visions, and announcing that an angel had shown him
"plates of the sealed record," and given him the Urim and Thummim
to translate them.

Although Strang's whole scheme was a very clumsy imitation of
Smith's, he drew a considerable number of followers to his
Wisconsin branch, where he published a newspaper called the Voree
Herald, and issued pamphlets in defence of his position, and a
"Book of the Law," explaining his doctrinal teachings, which
included polygamy. He had five wives. His Herald printed a
statement, signed by the prophet's mother and his brother
William, his three married sisters, and the husband of one of
them, certifying that "the Smith family do believe in the
appointment of J. J. Strang." Among other Mormons of note who
gave in their allegiance to Strang were John E. Page, one of the
Twelve (whom Phelps had called "the sun-dial"), General John C.
Bennett, and Martin Harris.

Strang gave the Mormon leaders considerable anxiety, especially
when he sent missionaries to England to work up his cause. The
Millennial Star of November 15, 1846, devoted a good deal of
space to the subject. The article began:--

"SKETCHES OF NOTORIOUS CHARACTERS: James J. Strang, successor of
Sidney Rigdon, Judius Iscariot, Cain & Co., Envoy Extraordinary
and a Minister Plenipotentiary to His Most Gracious Majesty
Lucifer L, assisted by his allied contemporary advisers, John C.
Bennett, William Smith, G. T. Adams, and John E. Page, Secretary
of Legation."

Strang announced a revelation which declared that he was to be
"King in Zion," and his coronation took place on July 8, 1850,
when he was crowned with a metal crown having a cluster of stars
on its front. Burnt offerings were included in the programme.

This ceremony took place on Beaver Island, in Lake Superior,
where in 1847 Strang had gathered his people and assumed both
temporal and spiritual authority. Both of these claims got him
into trouble. His non-Mormon neighbors, fishermen and lumbermen,
accused the Mormons of wholesale thefts; his assumption of regal
authority brought him before the United States court, (where he
was not held); and his advocacy of the practice of polygamy by
his followers aroused insubordination, and on June 15, 1856, he
was shot by two members of his flock whom he had offended, and
who were at once regarded as heroes by the people of the
mainland. A mob secured a vessel, visited Beaver Island, where
Strang had maintained a sort of fort, and compelled the Mormon
inhabitants to embark immediately, with what little property they
could gather up. They were landed at different places, most of
them in Milwaukee. Thus ended Strang's Kingdom.*

* "A Moses of the Mormons," by Henry E. Legler, Parkman Club
Publications, Nos. 15-16, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 11, 1897; "An
American Kingdom of Mormons," Magazine of Western History,
Cleveland, Ohio, April, 1886.


Another leader who "set up for himself " after Smith's death was
Lyman Wight, who had been one of the Twelve in Missouri, and was
arrested with Smith there. Wight did not lay claim to the
position of President of the church, but he resented what he
called Brigham Young's usurpation. In 1845 he led a small company
of his followers to Texas, where they first settled on the
Colorado River, near Austin. They made successive moves from that
place into Gillespie, Burnett, and Bandera counties. He died near
San Antonio in March, 1858. The fact that Wight entered into the
practice of polygamy almost as soon as he reached Texas, and
still escaped any conflict with his non-Mormon neighbors, affords
proof of his good character in other respects. The Galveston
News, in its notice of his death, said, "Mr. Wight first came to
Texas in November, 1845, and has been with his colony on our
extreme frontier ever since, moving still farther west as
settlements formed around him, thus always being the pioneer of
advancing civilization, affording protection against the
Indians."

After Wight's death his people scattered. A majority of them
became identified with the Reorganized Church, a few gave in
their allegiance to the organization in Utah, and others
abandoned Mormonism entirely.





Next: Brigham Young

Previous: After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days



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