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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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Masonic Connections in Oliver Cowdery’s Family (Part 1 of 7)

Clair Barrus has been studying Mormon history since before Al Gore invented the internet!

Clair:  Well, to show my ancientness, I was actually online in 1984, on the internet, when only engineering firms and universities were on the internet.

GT:  Was this like Prodigy or AOL or something else?

Clair:  It was before. I remember when AOL and Prodigy came online. This was pre-anything. You had to be working at an engineering firm, and some universities had access.

GT:  So like the ARPANET?

Clair:  Oh, yeah, it was the ARPANET. Yeah, it was pre-internet. It was the ARPANET.

GT:  Wow, you’re very experienced.

Clair:  Yeah, I’ve been around for a while. (Chuckling)

I was surprised to learn that it isn’t just Joseph Smith who has connections to masonry and magic.  It turns out that Oliver Cowdery has a family history with magic and masonry.  Clair Barrus will tell us more.

Clair:  Let me start with Oliver Cowdery and his father William Cowdery. I think there’s some interesting early Masonic influences that may have come through Oliver Cowdery. Oliver Cowdery’s father was actually involved very early on in a group called, the New Israelites. When you think of New Israelites, compare that with Latter-day Saints.  New and Latter are related, and Saints and Israelites are related. So, you have an interesting relationship just in the naming there. The New Israelites were a very interesting group of people up in Vermont that William Cowdery was involved with. They used rods a lot. They were rodsmen, and they would use rods to get revelations through. Then they created a religious movement and they had a dietary code/restrictions, just has an interesting parallel to the Word of Wisdom. They wanted to build a new Jerusalem. They actually would use their divining rods to gather underground gold and had vast heaps of gold and they were going to use that gold to pave the streets of their new Jerusalem.  They got a revelation. Nathaniel Wood, who was the leader, got a revelation that they should build a temple. Now this is interesting because think about it. What temple builders are there in American religious history? The Mormons or the Latter-day Saints and the New Israelites and the Masons. The Masons are symbolic temple builders.  The interior of every Masonic Lodge is a temple. That was it before Joseph Smith, so I think this is an interesting, unique parallel.  If anyone knows of another temple builder before Joseph Smith, I would love to know, please let me know.

Check out our conversation….

Historian Clair Barrus tells about the masonic connections in Oliver Cowdery’s family.

Don’t miss our previous conversation about Masonry and Mormonism with historian Cheryl Bruno!

405: Mormon-Mason Similarities/Differences (Bruno)

404: Joseph Smith’s Masonic Connections (Bruno)

403: Masonry from King Solomon to Kirtland (Bruno)