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Theo-Democracy in Deseret (Part 6 of 8)

Following Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young tried to implement theo-democracy in the Territory of Deseret, which is now known as Utah.  In our next conversation with Dr. Derek Sainsbury, we’ll talk about how successful Brigham Young was in implementing Joseph’s view of government.

Derek:  When the Civil War breaks out, they see that as a natural–Section 87, the revelation about the Civil War, a civil war starting. They see that as fulfillment of that [revelation] obviously, but also of the rejection of political salvation that Joseph Smith offered them in in 1844. While we don’t join the Confederacy, we don’t really join the Union, we kind of sit on the sidelines, hoping, for some, not all, but hoping for some that it all falls apart. In fact, the Council of Fifty that Brigham Young–Brigham Young continues this Council of Fifty, this Governing Council, political Council, he continues that they kind of lead the theo-democracy in the Deseret era.

Then after theo-democracy is established, they [Council of Fifty] kind of go away. They stopped meeting because they have the structure set up. It’s inherent now in the actual system they have.  But during the Civil War, he brings it back.  He brings the council back and they create their own legislature, which is the exact same people. After every single legislature session during the Civil War, they do a second one with the legislature of Deseret, and they do the exact same thing. It’s like a shadow government, if you will. In the public speeches that Brigham Young and other leaders of the church give, they start to talk again. They start to bring back and talk more about this idea of the Kingdom of God, which meant a lot different than it means now.  It meant the political Kingdom of God is coming back and they saw in the fulfillment of the Civil War that this might happen, and we need to be ready to govern ourselves when the country collapses, and then spread that government. You hear during the Civil War, in a lot of the discourses that are given by the leaders of the church, that idea.  They even start to talk about, “Hey, this government is here. It’s been here. It’s just waiting for the right time.”  Then, of course, the Civil War doesn’t lead to the collapse of United States, and we have to go back to trying to get along with the United States.

Derek:  When reconstruction is done, then the Republicans turn to us, the other twin relic of barbarism, polygamy.  That’s when the real difficult relationship with the federal government begins through the 1870s and the 1880s, leading up to the Manifesto and the creation of the State of Utah and all that other stuff, which really is all trying to destroy the theo-democracy.  Plural marriage is great for them to attack. Polygamy is great for them to attack because it’s sensational, it’s great.  But what the really trying to do, because it’s seen as un-American, is break up the relationship between church and state.

GT:  Yeah, because when the bishop is also the judge, the federal government has to pull in “Gentile” judges. Because they’re trying to break this theo-democracy.

Derek :  Yeah, and it takes them a long time. Because one, they planted theo-democracy really well, and they’d given all kinds of powers when they created them to the probate judges and to others where they could basically put them in their own courts, if people were accused. So, it took a lot of different amendments and legislation from the US Congress to finally kind of break down all of the theo-democracy.

Check out our conversation….

Brigham Young was much more effective at establishing theo-democracy in Deseret than Joseph Smith.

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

422:  Anti-Slavery Missionaries in the South

421: Bobby Kennedy-Joseph Smith

420:  Electioneer Missionaries

419:  Mormons: The Original Swing Voters!

418:  Views of General Joseph Smith

 

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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….

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

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Views of General Joseph Smith (Part 1 of 8)

Most Mormons know that Joseph Smith ran for the presidency of the United States.  Was it a serious run?  Did Joseph really think he was going to win?  Dr. Derek Sainsbury will answer those questions, and we’ll talk about Joseph Smith’s Presidential platform.  I was surprised to learn that General Joseph Smith was pushing his military expertise!

Derek: On January 29, 1844, they nominate him. And he immediately starts writing a political pamphlet called “The Views of General Joseph Smith,” on the powers and policy of the United States government. And it’s mailed to all the leaders of government in the United States, and to all the major newspapers.

GT:  General Joseph Smith!  He is emphasizing his military background.

Derek:  Right, because obviously he can’t win our election or even affect an election as Prophet Joseph Smith. Right? Because  it’s got to appeal to a wider group and he is a general in the Navajo Legion by state commission. In fact, he’s a Lieutenant General. He’s the only Lieutenant General between George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant in the history of the United States.

GT:  So who mentioned Lieutenant General?

Derek:  Governor Carlin.

GT:  Oh really?

Derek: Yeah,  not necessarily because he thinks he deserves it, but that’s the commission when they do the Nauvoo Legion. That’s the commission that Joseph Smith requests. Both parties when in those early days, are [courting the Mormon vote.] It’s so evenly split [between] Democrat and Whig in Illinois. They’re stumbling over each other.

Now for those of you on YouTube, you’ll notice a 3-D reproduction of Joseph Smith in his military dress uniform.  It was done by a fantastic artist named Adam Worthington.  He has kindly allowed me to use it in this video, and if you would like a copy of it yourself, please go to Adam’s website, knowbrotherjoseph.com and you can not only see this amazing reproduction, but other 3-D renderings of Joseph Smith and Emma.  These are available for purchase, so please support Adam’s amazing artwork!

Dr Derek Sainsbury tells about General Joseph Smith’s 1844 campaign for President of the United States.