Mormons are familiar with stories of persecutions in Missouri back in the 1830s. Why were Mormons so persecuted? It turns out that the people of Missouri were concerned that Mormons were trying to start a Slave Rebellion. On the other hand, Joseph Smith was known to be against the abolitionist movement. Could both positions be true? We asked these questions to Dr. Paul Reeve of the University of Utah and he gives his answers which may surprise you. Here are a few excerpts from my interview with Paul.
Outsiders, non-Mormons in Missouri read that article and get up in arms really quickly. They suggest that the Mormons are inviting free blacks to the state of Missouri to incite a slave rebellion. Beyond that they also argue they are inviting free blacks to the state of Missouri to steal our white wives and daughters. Fear of race mixing is always bound up in these charges leveled against the Mormons almost from the beginning, that somehow they are inciting a slave rebellion is one argument, but also race mixing was the other argument. You’re inviting free blacks, and black men. There was the myth of the black beast rapist that animates white people’s concerns of who black people are, especially black men. All black men just simply want white women, and that charge is leveled against the Mormons.
Mormons are labeled as abolitionists who are in favor of amalgamation—amalgamation is the pre-Civil War term for race mixing, then Joseph Smith finds it politically expedient to speak out against the immediate abolitionists and amalgamation, race mixing.
I also wondered if there any modern parallels, such as the LDS Church’s current position on abortion.
Are you surprised that Joseph Smith was anti-slavery and anti-abolitionist? Do you think abortion is a modern-day equivalent to slavery?