From Assassination to Expulsion: Two Years of Distrust, Hostility, and Violence

The murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith on June 27, 1844, marked the beginning of the end of the presence of the Latter-day Saints in Illinois. Conflict with their neighbors had begun three years before, but even after the murders of the Church leaders, it was by no means a foregone conclusion on all sides that the Smiths’ deaths would mean the departure of their followers. As one scholar puts it, “One should avoid viewing the final expulsion of the Mormons from Hancock County as the inexorable effect of the killings,” although in some minds no other alternative ever became acceptable. This article deals with the movements and countermovements undertaken by the Latter-day Saints and by their neighbors from the time of the Smiths’ assassination until the day, a little over two years later, when the last party of Church members left Nauvoo, Illinois. Those movements are chronicled in the media and public records of the day—especially in the pro-Mormon newspapers published at Nauvoo and in the anti-Mormon press

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