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Profile of anti-Mormon Thomas Sharp (Part 3 of 7)

I think Thomas Sharp should be the ultimate villain in Mormonism, but I’ll bet most people don’t know who he is.  In our next conversation with Brian Stutzman, we’ll learn more about the man who incited a mob to kill the prophet Joseph Smith.

Brian:  Thomas Sharp came from a Methodist family.  In England, in the late 1700s, John and Charles Wesley started the Methodist movement….Thomas Sharp was 22 years old when he came to Warsaw in 1844 or 1840, rather, so he’s a rather young man. He tries his hand at the newspaper business with a partner named James Gamble. They spent six months, about, down on the river at the foot of Main. Then they move their press and change the name from Western World to the Warsaw Signal and they go up into an unknown location up on Main Street.  Now some of the tour buses stop and point to building at 204 Main.  They say, “This is where Thomas Sharp published.”  That building wasn’t built till 1851, way after Thomas Sharp published there, but it was after the Mormon period.

But the turning point and Ben A. Marshall wrote a paper called the Turning Point of Thomas Sharp. There’s some discrepancy over some of the facts here. But when they set the cornerstone for the Nauvoo temple, in April six of 1841, Joseph Smith had a table up front for the dignitaries and some of the dignitaries, one of them was Chief Keokuk, from Iowa, who this town is named after, and he was up at the front table. He invited young Thomas Sharp, again, 22-23 years old to be up at the head table with him and they had this big feasts and a military parade and they set the cornerstone for the Nauvoo Temple.

GT:  So at this time, Thomas is still friendly.

Brian:  Yeah, neutral at best, neutral or friendly. Sometime after–now, people speculate that that day he turned against the church. There’s another historian and she’s kind of in my house with me and my wife. We’ve done some history, Brooke Lethar. She was at BYU. Now she’s studying at the University of Utah, and she has found research that it was awhile later before, Sharp turned negative. So there was a time where he was friendly and that he turned negative. So he goes up there and he starts writing terrible things in his paper.  There was a term in in that area about Masons. If you were not a Mason, but you’re referring to Mason’s there was a term called Jack Mason.

Thomas Sharp is sitting there, seeing this bloc-voting going on up Nauvoo, and the two main political parties at the time were Democrats and Whigs. He says to his fellow people, fellow residents, he says, we don’t have a shot in heck of getting somebody elected unless we join together, put our differences aside, and maybe we can get somebody elected locally. So he and Aldrich, again, these are two guys stood trial, and the guy named William Roosevelt. William Roosevelt was the cousin to Teddy Roosevelt’s father. They’re living in Warsaw and they get together and they create this political party in 1841. It’s called the anti-Mormon political party. That wasn’t a mob. It wasn’t hostile, at least at first, but it was a political party to try to outvote the Mormons. Well, in 1842, Thomas Sharp decides to run for a seat in the state legislature. Well, who was he was he opposed by?  The prophet’s little brother, William Smith, and William Smith beats him. In 1844 when Joseph Smith was running for President Thomas Sharp talks about running for the United States Senate, and then he learns that Hyrum Smith, the prophet’s brother was considering running for the same seat in the United States Senate and Sharp withdrew.

Check out our conversation….

It is surprising that Thomas Sharp is not more well-known among Church members. He literally started the anti-Mormon political party!

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Brian!

307: Economic Reasons Warsaw Hated Joseph

306: The Anti-Mormon Triangle: Warsaw, Carthage, Nauvoo

 

 

 

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The Warsaw-Nauvoo Rivalry (Part 2 of 7)

There was a real economic rivalry between the cities of Warsaw and Nauvoo, Illinois.  Is that the reason Thomas Sharp hated Mormons?  Brian Stutzman will give us more information on this rivalry.

Brian:  So the Latter day Saints come up and they come to Quincy, and Joseph Smith eventually joins them. They come up and they’re they are settling. As they come up, people in Warsaw are saying, “Why don’t you stop here?”  See in 1837, there was this national depression. Half the financial institutions in the United States collapse, including our own Kirtland Safety Society. There’s these developers that have all this land, and they say, “Come settle here. So I don’t go bankrupt. I need to sell my land.”  There were people in Warsaw that said the same thing and Joseph Smith and some of the other leaders, Isaac Borrow, some of these guys sit down.  “We’re making this deal with Isaac Galland and we’re going to settle up here.” There were some good interactions between the two towns.

Brian:  Not everybody in Warsaw at the time, was necessarily anti-Mormon…there were some political tensions that way, but also the fact that you could vote after six months of being in the States, even if you were an immigrant. So all of a sudden, you had bloc-voting going on. The people of Warsaw said, “We’ll never elect anybody with 6000, 8000, 10,000 LDS people when were at 400-500 down here.

GT  24:24  Because Nauvoo was really large.

Brian  24:25  It got really big, really fast.  Those people could vote.  If Joseph Smith came out for a candidate, they’re going to win, at least locally. You had some economic issues as well. People tended to trade amongst themselves.  In 1842, I believe it was, Thomas Sharp wrote in his paper, he said, “It’s funny that the Latter-day Saints,” I’m paraphrasing, “up in Nauvoo don’t trade with us. We don’t have anything. You won’t find anything made in Nauvoo in Warsaw. You won’t find it.” He says, “We’re probably better off because of it,” as a joke. So economics also played a part in the expansion of the Church. Joseph set up what was called the hub and spoke idea of settlements. Nauvoo was going to be the hub, and then they’d have settlements. We did that in Utah with Salt Lake and all the little communities. So Nauvoo this is going to be the center and Montrose, which became Zarahemla and some of these other towns. Well, they were looking to put a Mormon settlement in Warsaw, just south of Warsaw.

Find out more about these early settlements.  Check out our conversation….

Hill-Dodge Bank in Historic Warsaw, Illinois. Brian Stutzman describes the rivalry between Warsaw and Nauvoo.

Don’t miss our previous episode with Brian!

306: The Anti-Mormon Triangle: Warsaw, Carthage, Nauvoo

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Anti-Mormon Triangle: Carthage, Nauvoo, Warsaw (Part 1 of 7)

Carthage, Nauvoo, and Warsaw, Illinois form a bit of an anti-Mormon Triangle.  Most Mormons know about the first 2 cities, but what do you know about the third?  In our next conversation, we’ll get acquainted with both Brian Stutzman and Warsaw, Illinois, once a hotbed of anti-Mormon sentiment.

Brian:  Before the Saints came to Nauvoo and before Warsaw was even started, there were some tracts of land on both sides of Mississippi. It doesn’t sound politically correct, but on the Iowa side, (Iowa was a territory,) the government set up what was called the Half-breed Tract. Basically, it was for people that would be given land if they had one parent that was Native American, and another one that was a white person. That’s why it was called Half-breed Tract. Well, the government gave this land away. And these Indians, half-Indians, half-breeds, whatever the term was in that time period, they didn’t want it. So land speculators, like I said, Isaac Galland came, and would give them pennies on the dollar. He and his land development company had thousands of acres over on the Iowa side by Montrose, which became later the Zarahemla Stake. Well on the other side of the river by Commerce and Hotchkiss which became Nauvoo…

GT:  Yeah, Commerce became Nauvoo.

Brian:  So the United States government had 3.5 million acres. They had three different tracts. They called them military tracts, or bounty tracts, and basically, after the War of 1812, the United States government owed soldiers back pay. They didn’t have any money, but they had all this land on the western frontier. That’s what this military tract was. Essentially, if you were a soldier in the War of 1812, you would get 160 acres in one of these three military tracts. One of them came through western Illinois.  It covered 12 counties. Like I said, it’s 3.5 million acres, so it’s sizable. Well, the soldiers up in New England didn’t want to move. Some of them didn’t want to move, at least to Western Illinois, so they would sell their land for pennies on the dollar. So Isaac Galland and other land speculators had land on both sides of the Mississippi and they heard about Joseph Smith being in Liberty Jail, and he wrote him and said, “If you’re looking for a place for your people, I’ll make you a deal–nothing down….”  That’s one reason I think the saints moved to Quincy and then on up as soon as Joseph escaped from Liberty to go up to Nauvoo.

Brian is the first person to write a history of Warsaw, and we’ll learn more about the dynamics that led to people of that city to storm the Carthage Jail and kill Joseph Smith, Jr.  Brian also had an interesting experience!

Brian: I later became really good friends with the mayor, Tiffany Murphy and her husband Chris Bass. They had me over for dinner multiple times, took me out on the river. It was really cool. My experience with Warsaw not only on my multiple trips back because I was doing research for this book, but an apex of it was spending two nights in the bedroom of Thomas Sharp.

GT:  There you go.

GT:  Oh wow.

Brian:  Now my wife says, “Is kind of like staying in the bedroom of Hitler or something?  Was it dark? Was it positive?”

Thomas Sharp was editor of the newspaper and leader of the mob that stormed the jail in Carthage.  We’ll talk about him quite a bit over the next few weeks.  We’ll also talk about the events that led to a big rivalry between Nauvoo and Warsaw.  Check out our conversation….

Carthage, Nauvoo, and Warsaw formed an anti-Mormon triangle that led to the prophet Joseph Smith’s death. Brian Stutzman has written the first history of Warsaw, Illinois.

If you’re interested in Joseph Smith, don’t miss our conversations about the First Vision!

292: First Vision Conflicts (Vogel)

291: 1835 Account of First Vision (Vogel)

290: Making a Case for Melchizedek Priesthood in 1831? (Vogel)

289: Methodist Visions (Vogel)