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Anti-Slavery Missionaries in the South (Part 5 of 8)

In 1844 when Joseph Smith was running for president of the United States, he proposed a system of gradual emancipation for all slaves.  How did that message go over in the South?  Hint:  not well.  In our next conversation, Dr. Derek Sainsbury will tell us some of the stories of these missionaries, and some of the surprising receptiveness to the message in some cases.

GT:  I think the interesting thing for me, especially I served my mission in South Carolina, so I’m very familiar with Southern Baptists and Pentecostals and all sorts of things. But, in 1844, slavery was legal and Joseph Smith is talking about freeing the slaves. I don’t think that went very well in the South.

Derek:  It didn’t. The one blind spot that I have is, as a historian with this is none of the ones that went in the deep South kept a journal.

GT:  Oh really?

Derek:  Here’s that same George Miller, a couple days later is walking and a guy stops him in the street and he says, “You best get out of here, because my slaves have been told if they see you, to lynch you, to put you up on the tree and lynch you.”  So he’s like, “hmm, I’m moving on to the next town.”

It wasn’t always violent however opposition.

Derek:  Right, but this is when it started was in the 40s, 1840, 1844. They’d have these huge barbecues and whiskey and get people to show up and listen. Well, he goes to the other end of the square and stands up on a tree trunk and starts…

GT:  The stump. That what they actually called a stump speech.

Derek:  That’s right. He starts preaching Joseph Smith, he’s not preaching the gospel. He’s doing electioneer stuff about General Joseph Smith’s run for the presidency. By the time he’s done, the entire crowd is shifted, and is listening to him. When it’s over, they’re saying, “You don’t want any of this guy’s barbecue,” and they take him to the tavern, give him a big meal. He writes about how many of them liked the ideas, even though some of them disliked, well, a lot of them disliked Joseph. This was a common thread not just in the Upper South, but everywhere.

GT:  What state was this in?

Derek:  This was Kentucky, but even as far up as in Massachusetts, in Boston, there were a lot of people that liked the ideas in the pamphlet, but not so much, Joseph. They would have these conferences where they would come up with these resolutions, for lack of a better word, and they were both Mormon and non-Mormon together, that agreed with these principles. So there was more acceptance than we really knew. Not overwhelming, but there were some out there that also didn’t like the two-party system, didn’t like the Democrats and the Whigs, were looking for another way forward.

Are you surprised to hear about some successes?  Check out our conversation….

Joseph Smith’s anti-slavery message didn’t go well in the South, but there were some surprising successes too.

Don’t miss our previous conversations….

421: Bobby Kennedy-Joseph Smith

420:  Electioneer Missionaries

419:  Mormons: The Original Swing Voters!

418:  Views of General Joseph Smith

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Bobby Kennedy & Joseph Smith (Part 4 of 8)

Joseph Smith and Bobby Kennedy were both killed while running for president of the United States.  Dr. Derek Sainsbury tells us more about these two men, and I was surprised to hear about their surprising similarity.

GT:  I mean, I think the closest modern day equivalent is probably Bobby Kennedy.

Derek:  Absolutely.

GT:  Yeah.

Derek:  Yeah. In fact, that’s the next book I’m already writing is a comparison between those two.

GT:  Oh really? Oh, wow. That’ll be interesting.

Derek:  Because he’s the only other candidate in the history of the United States–

GT:  [George] Wallace got shot I guess.

Derek:  Shot but not killed. Yeah.

GT:  Oh, really? So those are the only two people that have been killed is Joseph Smith and Bobby Kennedy?

Derek:  Yeah.

GT:  Wow.

Check out our conversation….

Bobby Kennedy & Joseph Smith are the only presidential candidates to be killed while running for POTUS.

Don’t miss our previous discussions with Dr. Derek Sainsbury!

420:  Electioneer Missionaries

419:  Mormons: The Original Swing Voters!

418:  Views of General Joseph Smith


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Electioneer Missionaries (Part 3 of 8)

More than 600 men and women were called to be electioneer missionaries on behalf of Joseph Smith’s campaign for president. It was the largest missionary force for more than 50 years.  In our next conversation with Dr. Derek Sainsbury, we’ll talk about some of these missionaries.

Derek:  There’s this call to all available Elders to try and make General Conference in April because they’re going to have a meeting. So in General Conference in April–it’s a four day conference, the last conference is just a meeting of the Elders. It’s run by Brigham Young and the Twelve Apostles. They say, “We’re going to send out electioneer missionaries, and you will preach and politic. We’re going to set up these conferences in all of these different states and the Twelve will come and meet you in these conferences, until we have a convention in July, in Baltimore.”  This is where the Whigs and the Democrats were also having their convention.

GT:  Both parties were having it in the same city? Wow.

Derek:  Yes so that his would have been the third convention in Baltimore, obviously, not anywhere near as big. But that was the thinking that was going into it. They call for volunteers and 277 of them volunteer that day. By the time they print their names and assignments in the newspaper, a week later, there are over 300.  In my research over the past 15 years, I have the number up now to 621. So this is a huge missionary effort, which is one of the reasons we know that it was a serious effort.

GT:  I know you mentioned in your book that it was the largest proportion of missionaries that the church has ever had.

Derek:  Ever! Until today.

GT:  Let’s say, how many people do we have in our church now?

Derek:  Over sixteen million.

GT  :  Sixteen million. So 600 missionaries back then, proportionately, what would be the same number for us today?

Derek:  Oh, so,  we’re looking at, jeez, can I use my calculator? You’re looking at in the hundreds of thousands of missionaries,

GT:  Hundreds of thousands. I know we’ve got the Coronavirus, but we were we were having 60,000.

Derek:  You’re looking at a lot more than that. You’re looking at hundreds of thousands.

Brigham Young and a large group of missionaries campaigned for Joseph Smith in 1844.

Check out our conversation….

Don’t miss our previous episodes with Dr. Sainsbury.

419:  Mormons: The Original Swing Voters!

418:  Views of General Joseph Smith

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