David Grua on The Missouri War and Liberty Jail Letters

LDS Perspectives will be switching to bi-weekly podcasts in 2018. In this inaugural podcast for 2018, Dr. Grua talks about the conflicts in Missouri during the 1830s, which Dr. Grua indicates is well known in American history as an unusually violent decade throughout the nation.

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Dr. David Grua talks about February 1838–August 1839. This was a tumultuous period in the life of Joseph Smith and the history of the church, marked by internal dissent, the abandonment of Kirtland, Ohio, as church headquarters, the outbreak of violence with anti-Mormons in Missouri, the emergence of the Danite Society, the Missouri–Mormon War, Governor Lilburn W. Boggs’s infamous “extermination order,” Joseph Smith’s imprisonment in Liberty, Missouri, and the exodus and relocation of the Saints to Illinois.

Dr. Grua estimates Missourians killed roughly 40 Mormons during this era. While there was violence on the part of both Mormons and non-Mormons, the Northern (e.g., Mormon) style of violence was against property and considered personal injury sacrosanct. The Southern (e.g., non-Mormon) style of violence included murder and rape in addition to destruction of property.

This was also a time characterized by spiritual outpourings and revelation, with the Prophet dictating D&C 115–120, writing the letters that included D&C 121–123, and delivering several doctrinally-rich discourses to the Twelve Apostles as they prepared for their mission to England. Taunalyn and David review this history in detail and the documents published in the volume.
David also discusses his “Joseph Smith’s Missouri Prison Letters and the Mormon Textual Community,” an essay that will be published in Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources in February 2018 from Oxford University Press.

David W. Grua holds a Ph.D. in American History from Texas Christian University and an M.A. and B.A. from Brigham Young University. He is the author of Surviving Wounded Knee: The Lakotas and the Politics of Memory (Oxford, 2016) and was awarded the Robert M. Utley Prize from the Western History Association.

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.