Crime and Punishment in Mormon Nauvoo, 1839–1846 | BYU Studies

Crime and Punishment in Mormon Nauvoo, 1839–1846

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Crime and Punishment in Mormon Nauvoo, 1839–1846

Kenneth W. Godfrey

Samuel W. Taylor argued that the "City Beautiful" and the Mississippi bottomland had their "brothels, barrooms, saloons" and "notorious gangs of banditti—knaves, cutthroats, horse thieves, counterfeiters, outlaws—organized and so powerful that some frontier settlements and even counties came under their control. With all of these accusations of disregard for law and property in Nauvoo, it seems appropriate to examine the evidence and to ascertain just what the truth was relative to crime and punishment among the Latter-day Saints as they sojourned in Illinois and Iowa during the years 1839–46.