Extermination Order (Mormonism)

From Academic Kids

The "Extermination Order" is known in Latter Day Saint history as the executive order issued on October 27, 1838 by Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs to have Mormons driven from the state in response to what he termed "open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State ... the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description."

This order was written three days after disaffected church leaders Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde attested in an affidavit asserting the existence of the Danites and Joseph Smith's intention to conquer the world. It also came on the heels of the Battle of Crooked River which claimed casualties of 4 state militiamen, all Mormon. Tensions already ran high as anti-Mormon sentiments and repeated conflict prompted the state to forcibly relocate Mormons from Jackson County, Missouri north to areas not previously settled. Word of the attack convinced Boggs that the Mormons should be removed from the state altogether.

Subsequent history

The order directly preceded the Haun's Mill Massacre, which occurred three days later. This mob killing of 17 men and boys underscored the seriousness of the threat. Thousands of faithful Latter Day Saints crossed the Missouri River out of the state even as their leader and purported prophet Joseph Smith Jr. faced capital punishment.

Smith was narrowly spared the death penalty and managed to escape. Smith and the other Mormons resettled in Nauvoo, Illinois beginning in 1839.

Boggs suffered an assassination attempt on his life, but survived even with balls of buckshot embedded in his skull. Mormon Porter Rockwell was accused of being the assassin, but was later released without indictment after having spent months in jail. This supposed involvement in assassination attempt, however, is one reason Missouri unsuccessfully dispatched bounty hunters to bring Joseph Smith back to Missouri.

The Extermination Order remained active, though likely legally invalid, until it was rescinded by Governor Christopher S. Bond on June 25, 1976, 137 years after being signed.

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