*This article is being offered free as a courtesy to lds.org as it was footnoted in an expanded Gospel Topic on their site.
A newer edition of this article was published as a chapter in Sustaining the Law. Follow this link to view the chapter.
Jeffrey N. Walker explains how Missouri persecutors in Daviess County profited from driving Mormons off the lands they had settled. In 1830, laws allowed squatters the first opportunity to buy land they had improved after the land was surveyed. If squatters did not make the payment deadline, other interested parties could buy the improved land at unimproved prices. Walker argues that some Missourians were motivated by greed in cleverly orchestrating the timing of their persecutions. The Extermination Order given by Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs and the siege of Far West occurred at the same time the Mormons’ land payments were due. Walker explains that when the Mormons’ preemptive rights lapsed because they were forcibly prevented from leaving the city to make their payments, their persecutors quickly purchased the most valuable improved land.