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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.

Electioneer Missionaries (Part 3 of 8)
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

Click this link to purchase his book and a small portion will go to Gospel Tangents:  Storming the Nation!  (Actually use this link to do all your shopping on Amazon!  😉

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Mormons: Originally Swing Voters! (Part 2 of 8)

Mormons are known to be pretty reliably Republican, at least in Utah.  It wasn’t that way in Joseph Smith’s day, because the Republican Party didn’t even exist!  Mormons alternated between Whig and Democratic support and were seen as swing voters in Joseph’s Smith’s day.  Historian Dr. Derek Sainsbury will tell us more about 19th century presidential politics.

GT:  Now, it’s interesting, you said Democrat and Whig because there was no Republican party in 1845.

Derek:  No.

GT:  So, Republicans didn’t exist. Are Whigs, were they pretty similar with Republicans back in the day?

Derek:  When the Whig Party falls apart, from the ashes of that, you’re going to get a couple of different parties that coalesce into the Republican Party in the 1860s.

Derek:  The Whig Party is in response to what’s happening with this new Democratic Party, and they call themselves the Whigs. So they would make fun of Andrew Jackson. They would call him King Andrew, because he was ruling with this whole spoil system and “What I say goes.”

Derek:  The Whigs took on the name Whigs because the Whigs were the the political opposition party in England against the king, against the Tories. So, that’s why they called themselves the Whigs because they were in opposition to King Andrew, Andrew Jackson.

Derek:  The Democrats and Whigs are evenly split in Missouri, so much so that this large influx of Latter-day Saints is going to determine politics in Illinois, the whole time they’re there.

GT:  So they were the original swing voters.

Derek:  Well, yeah, in a major sense. They started to be seen that way, by the time of the election. In 1844, they start to be seen that way by major newspapers back in the east, that not only could they decide the vote in Illinois, but maybe they could decide the vote in a bigger way. There was this perception, too, that we had more people than we actually did have. So there was this perception that something could come out of all of this.

Were you aware of the Mormon vote deciding elections as swing voters?  Check out our conversation….

Mormons: Originally Swing Voters! (Part 2 of 8)
The Mormon voted vacillated between the Democrats & Whigs in the 1830s-40s and were seen as important swing voters.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Derek!

418:  Views of General Joseph Smith