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The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet…

The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith

by N. B. Lundwall

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N. B. Lundwall writes about the horrible things which happened to the men who assassinated Joseph Smith. A lot of people want to believe that these horrible things really did happen. Except that they didn't happen.


"Those who were responsible for the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum on June 27, 1844, were not who might you think they were, according to one presenter at the BYU Studies 50th Anniversary Symposium. Debra Marsh, a master's student at the University of Utah, presented evidence Friday that the members of the Illinois mob that sought to put an end to Mormonism at Carthage Jail didn't rot away because of "the Mormon curse," as N.B. Lundwall claimed in his book, "The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith," but went on to live normal lives. Another characterization from B.H. Roberts found in the introduction to volume 6 of the History of the Church, which called the mob a "criminal element" and "ruffians" isn't correct, either, Marsh said.Marsh, in her paper "Respectable Assassins: A Collective Biography and Socioeconomic Study of the Carthage Mob," said that contrary to popular belief the mobsters did not suffer for their actions, and actually were respected people who went on to greater accomplishments."The Carthage mob members lived normal life spans, through which they prospered financially," Marsh said. "They ran for and won political office, and generally appear to be protected and honored by their fellow citizens for their participation in the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. "Marsh used a list of 89 men compiled by Sheriff Jacob Backenstos and a variety of other records to paint a picture of who these mobsters were. According to her research, while they came from the same regions of the country as others who lived in the area, mobsters were generally older than the general male population of Hancock County and were mostly learned professionals, businessmen and farmers who had their own property. The mob also had 16 men who held 24 different public offices, including state senator and U.S. senator. A large majority of the mob would have been considered in the upper class."This was a group of men that represented the top tier of Hancock county, in regards to power and socioeconomic status."Marsh then showed what happened to the mob after the martyrdom of the Smith brothers."Most of these individuals seem to have lived normal life spans in which they prospered," Marsh said. "Obviously, living a long life doesn't necessarily translate into good fortune. But if financial well-being is an indicator of the quality of one's life, then they lived quite well."In 1850, the average earnings of the mob were barely more than the U.S. average, with mobsters earning $1,540 compared to $1,050 for the average American. But at the end of the decade, mobsters had increased their earnings by 249 percent, or five times the national average, earning an average of $7,842 compared to $2,140. One member, Mark Aldrich, was extremely successful in the California Gold Rush and later became a merchant in Tucson, Ariz., with his personal estate valued at $50,000. Another, Jacob C. Davis, ended up being a state senator and eventually a U.S. senator for Illinois. Mob members held 24 public offices between 1844 and 1856.Marsh also referred to various historical accounts in which men list being part of the proceedings at Carthage Jail as one of their life's greatest achievements. Seeing the killers of Mormonism's founder doesn't take away from Marsh's testimony of the church, and she says it shouldn't bother other Mormons, either."Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that the mob members prospered. I know that the notion that an unseen hand dispersing justice to the wicked is very comforting," Marsh said."However, it quite simply isn't true. The wicked often prosper in this life. As many of us believe, though, we all will have to account for our actions, if not in this life, in the next. The most important fact remains, regardless of what happened to the Carthage mob: Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyrs for God, and Joseph did more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world than any other man that lived in it."

Credit goes to Nick Newman, Mormon Times, who wrote the synopsis of the seminar. ( )
  MsMixte | Mar 19, 2013 |
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