The Political and Social Realities of Zion's Camp | BYU Studies

The Political and Social Realities of Zion's Camp

The Political and Social Realities of Zion's Camp
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The Political and Social Realities of Zion's Camp

Richard L. Anderson
Peter L. Crawley

Ever since Zion's Camp marched out of Kirtland, Ohio, in May 1834, its journey has been one of Mormon history's more controversial events. BYU professors Peter Crawley and Richard L. Anderson review the facts and evaluate the context of political and social forces that brought Zion's Camp into and out of existence. After being expelled from Jackson County, Missouri, the Latter-day Saints asked Governor Daniel Dunklin for assistance in returning to their homes in Jackson County. The governor promised a protective force, but he did not promise a force to protect them once they were back in the county. The Saints knew they would be expelled again, since the Jackson County mob was constantly making threats. A council in Kirtland decided to begin the expedition to take back Mormon lands in Jackson County, and Zion's Camp was created so that the Saints would be able to retain their property once they returned there. However, Governor Dunklin eventually shifted his position and no longer would provide a force to help the Saints regain their property, out of a very real fear that civil war would erupt in Missouri. Without government assistance, Zion's Camp had no real political recourse but to disband.