Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833–1838 Missouri Conflict

Brief Notices
Edited by: Clark V. Johnson
Reviewer: Boley T. Thomas
Journal: 32:4

Ultimately, persecution is personal. The causes may be institutional and the aftermath may blame faceless mobs, but in reality it's people persecuting people. The blows are thrown by flesh and blood, and the hits are losses taken at the most personal levels. No better (or worse) example of this can be found than in the Missouri persecution of the Latter-day Saints, and Mormon Redress Petitions assembles a massive collection of all known and existing personal petitions for redress submitted by early LDS Church leaders to the United States government after those atrocities ended in 1838.

Even though the Saints had purchased land, cultivated it into productive farms, and built homes, they were obliged to abandon their property or face certain death. While imprisoned in a Missouri jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith instructed the Saints to compile written affidavits detailing their losses. These affidavits were organized into at least four separate petitions to the United States government, yet they produced no relief, nor could federal courts be persuaded to hear the case. This book gives a grassroots view of this episode in Mormon history, with statement after statement by the people who experienced these persecutions up close.

This documentation also dispels the notion that the Mormons were expelled from Missouri only because of social, political, and economic reasons, and shows that the dominate reason for Missourian hostility toward the Saints was religion. Account after account tells how the mobsters pressed the Saints to denounce their belief in the Book of Mormon and membership in the Church in exchange for promises of safety. Readers may inspect these original statements and personal narratives, and come to their own conclusions about what happened during this dramatic period in Church history.