Religion and Politics Essay on Joseph Smith’s Council of Fifty

This morning my review essay of the new Council of Fifty volume from the Joseph Smith Papers Project went live. It really was one of my favorite writing projects in a long time, as I’ve long looked forward to a day to read these documents. I’ll probably have a few more posts on the C50 minutes in coming weeks. Many thanks to the JSP people for providing an advance review copy.

For those who like references, here are the references for the R&P essay:

  • “burn the records”: William Clayton, “Events of June 1844,” in JSP A1:198.
  • “literal kingdom of God”: JS, C50 minutes, April 18, 1844, in JSP A1:228.
  • “damned wrotten thing”: Amasa Lyman, C50 minutes, March 18, 1845, in JSP A1:336.
  • For JS’s presidential campaign see this post and its sources: The Mormon National Convention, 1844
  • “eternal principle,” “cursed head,” “oldest down to the youngest,” and “establish a Theocracy”: JS, C50 minutes, March 11, 1844, in JSP A1:40, 42, 43-44.
  • “rent from center to circumference”: JS, “The Government of God,” Times & Seasons, July 16, 1842.
  • “amend that constitution”: JS, diary, March 10, 1844, in JSP J3:201.
  • “resolved to draft”: C50 minutes, March 19, 1844, in JSP A1:54.
  • The draft of the Mormon Constitution is in C50 minutes, April 18, 1844, in JSP A1:110-114.
  • “ye are my spokesmen”: JS, C50 minutes, April 25, 1844, in JSP A1:137.
  • Jeffersonian democracy“: JS, C50 minutes, April 11, 1844, in JSP A1:90.
  • Smith’s use of “theodemocracy” is in JS, “The Government of God”; see also Patrick Mason, “God and People: Theodemocracy in Nineteenth Century Mormonism,” Journal of Church and State 53, no. 3 (Summer 2011): 349-375.
  • “Prophet, Priest & King”: Erastus Snow, C50 minutes, April 11, 1844, in JSP A1:95-96.
  • For notions of the “Kingdom of God” in antebellum America, see Eran Shalev, American Zion: The Old Testament as a Political Text from the Revolution to the Civil War (Oxford UP, 2013). For the European religious critiques of democracy in Europe during the nineteenth century, see James Kloppenberg, Toward Democracy: The Struggle for Self-Rule in European and American Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 547-644. For the First Vatican Council, see August Hasler, How the Pope Became Infallible: Pious IX and the Politics of Persuasion (New York: Doubleday, 1981).
  • “mire of democracy”: Fisher Ames, quoted in Gordon Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (Oxford UP, 2009), 303.
  • For religious ministers drawing on fear, see Amanda Porterfield, Conceived in Doubt: Religion and Politics in the New American Nation (University of Chicago Press, 2012). For protest agitations against the Constitution, see Christian G. Fritz, American Sovereigns: The People and America’s Constitutional Tradition Before the Civil War (Cambridge UP, 2007). For Garrison’s critiques of the Constitution, see W. Caleb McDaniel, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform (LSU Press, 2013). For Second Great Awakening and the lower classes, see Paul E. Johnson, A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837, revised ed. (Hill & Wang, 2004).
  • “Mormon Reserve”: William Richards, petition, January 14, 1845, included in C50 minutes, February 4, 1845, in JSP A1:236-237.
  • “men of congenial religions or other interests”: Orson Spencer, editorial, included in C50 minutes, February 4, 1845, 242.
  • “standard of liberty”: Brigham Young, C50 minutes, March 1, 1845, in JSP A1:225.
  • “our object”: George Miller, C50 minutes, March 22, 1845, in JSP A1:355.
  • “old squaws blanket”: Reynolds Cahoon, C50 minutes, March 4, 1844, in JSP A1:284.
  • For alleged Mormon collusions with Native Americans, see Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (Oxford UP, 2014), 52-105.
  • “diametrically opposed”: Robert James Turnbull, The Crisis: Or, Essays on the Usurpations of the Federal Government (Charleston: A.E. Miller, 1827), 9.
  • “diversity of interests”: John C. Calhoun, “Exposition,” in The Papers of John C. Calhoun, ed. Robert L. Meriwether et al., 28 vols. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1959-2003), 10:490.
  • For Parker’s views on interests and government, you’ll have to wait for my forthcoming article. (Sorry.)
  • “government worth asking for”: Amasa Lyman, C50 minutes, March 18, 1845, in JSP A1:336.
  • “beauties of American liberties”: Parley Pratt, C50 minutes, October 4, 1845, in JSP A1:495-496.
  • “moral empire”: Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, translated and edited by Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 237.
  • For Trump’s xenophobic, racist, sexist, bigoted, and divisive remarks, see nearly any clip of him ever talking.

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