Mormon History


Missouri Governor's Call to Mobilize - 1838

Daily Missouri Republican – September 25, 1838



Information has been received by express from Judge King, who [resides in the Circuit where the difficulty exists that an insurrection is now actually on foot in the counties of Caldwell and Daviess. -- The same information has just been received from Gen. Atchison, who is now at Richmond, with 250 men, and intends proceeding immediately to the scene of difficulty. Gen. A. has ordered out 400 more men from his Division. In consequence of this information, the Governor has, by expresses, ordered Gen'ls Grant of Boone, to have 360 men, Clark of Howard, to have 500 men, Lucas of Jackson, 400 men and Crowther, of Cooper, 400 men, organized and to march immediately to the scene of doifficulty, to suppress the insurrection and restore order to the community. Gen Atchison states that the men now under arms in Daviess and Caldwell, are not less than 2000; the greater part of whom are Mormons, and the balance citizens.

The Governor has also ordered out the Boonville Guards, to be in readiness, to join him at Boonville on Saturday or Sunday next, and march with him to the scene of operations. The Governor, Adjutent General, and two Aids leave this morning.

Major-General Bolton will also repair to the scene of action with some two hundred volunteers from the county in two or three days.

The only object of the Commander in Chief seems to be to prevent the shedding of blood and restore order to the community.


Extermination Order comes back on 19th century Missouri governor

First published Jan 21 2011
Salt Lake Tribune


The window to the study shattered and the ex-governor, who had been quietly reading the newspaper, was struck down with two pieces of buckshot in his skull. A third lodged in his neck and a fourth passed into his throat, and he reflexively swallowed it.


The assassin escaped into the rainy night, but a stolen revolver was found outside the window.


Even as family and doctors gave up the wounded politician for dead, a likely suspect was already being fingered. An itinerant hired man was identified as the likely gun thief and probable assassin.


A sheriff’s investigation identified the man as Orrin Porter Rockwell, a sometime associate of the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith.


The Wasp, a Mormon newspaper, reported that former Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs “is undoubtedly killed according to report; but who did the noble deed remains to be found out.” Rockwell, who had escaped to Illinois, coyly said he had “done nothing criminal.”


If the Mormon press was less than gracious toward Boggs, the reason is understandable: He was the author of the infamous 1838 Missouri Executive Order 44, better known as the “Extermination Order,” which read, in part: “...the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace — their outrages are beyond all description.”


Missourians, who were mostly southern pro-slavery states-rightists, distrusted the Yankee Mormons right from the start. They deemed the Mormon collectivist sense of religious community to be profoundly un-American. And if the terms “socialist” and “communist” had been current in the 1830s, the locals surely would have hurled them at the newcomers.


Curiously, it wasn’t Boggs who first tossed the word “extermination” onto the dry tinder of bad feeling that characterized Mormon-Missourian relations.


In a speech delivered July 4, 1838, Mormon apostle Sidney Rigdon warmed up the crowd with threats to hang Mormon apostates, “an act at which the angels would smile with approbation.” Then he really got rolling: “…that mob that comes on us to disturb us, it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for we will follow them until the last drop of their blood is spilled; or else they will have to exterminate us, for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses and their own families ... .”


Apostle Orson Hyde would later say that Rigdon was the “cause of our troubles in Missouri” — troubles that led to escalating violence and the Boggs Extermination Order in October. Violent rhetoric, usually followed by bullets and blood, chased the Latter-day Saints out of Missouri and into Illinois and from there to the Great Basin, where more violent rhetoric brought an invading United States Army.


The degree to which violent rhetoric contributed to the murder of 120 immigrants at Mountain Meadows is debated but not denied.


Anyone who can recall the history of violence done to and by Mormons surely can also recall the hate speech that preceded and incited those acts.


Then as now, words matter, which is why we sometimes take them back.


In 1927, the LDS Church changed the words to the hymn “Praise to the Man,” which pointed the finger at Illinois for the assassination of Joseph Smith. The words “stain Illinois” were replaced by the more neighborly “Plead unto heav’n.”


In 1976, Missouri Gov. Kit Bond, by executive order, officially rescinded the Boggs Extermination Order, finally making the place safe for LDS tourists from Utah.


By the way, Boggs surprised friend and foe alike by making a remarkable recovery.


He lived to successfully lead a wagon train to California in 1846 — a train that the Donner Party would regret abandoning. He died in 1860 in Napa, having made a fortune selling dry goods during the Gold Rush. 


Pat Bagley is The Salt Lake Tribune’s editorial cartoonist.