Jan 2021 versus Jun 1844

I remember a day when I realized how much confusion could have been avoided had Joseph Smith lived longer. I pulled the covers over my head and wept great wracking sobs.

When the news started rolling out about the attack on the U.S. Capitol, it was obvious to me that there were parallels between the mob of January 2021 in Washington, DC, and the mob of June 1844 in Carthage, IL.

  • The 1844 press had agitated for overthrow of a legitimately elected rule, with the Expositor laying the groundwork for suspicion and the Warsaw Signal actively calling for violence, “War and extermination is inevitable! Citizens ARISE ONE and ALL!!!-Can you stand by, and suffer such INFERNAL DEVILS! to ROB men of their property and RIGHTS, without avenging them. We have no time for comment, every man will make his own. LET IT BE MADE WITH POWDER AND BALL!!!” 1
  • The Carthage Greys were posted to protect Joseph Smith, but they were instructed to avoid loading their guns and rifles.
  • The individuals attacking gathered a distance from Carthage and whipped themselves into a “righteous” anger before attacking, based on reports under oath by those who were at that gathering.
  • Many individuals attacking had painted their faces (though it doesn’t seem the folks who attacked on Jan 2021 intended to hide their identities).
  • Some of those attacking were harmed during the attack.

Luckily, no elected officials were shot on 6 January 2021. In this, the attack of June 1844 achieved a higher degree of lethality, at least on the part of the intended victims.

I hadn’t bothered posting anything about this earlier because it seemed to me a comparison that didn’t need to be pointed out. However someone I care about, who is active on social media, indicated that they had not seen any comments comparing Jan 2021 to Jun 1844.

So with this, I consider that lack of comment on the obvious to be rectified.

Notes:

  1. Thomas Sharp, Editorial, Warsaw Signal, June 11, 1844, at http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/IL/sign1844.htm#0611 on 11 Jan 2021.
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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.

9 thoughts on “Jan 2021 versus Jun 1844

  1. Thanks very much for providing a comparison that I had not considered. It was an unexpected treat to consider the parallels between those two events.

  2. In the case of the events of June 1844, all accused of having participated were able to avoid conviction, though they bragged about it.

    I doubt those who participated in the events of January 2021 will have as complete luck avoiding conviction.

  3. Meg, wonderful post. We can learn from history. Sadly, most of the rioters will only be sorry that they were caught. And many more will praise those who killed Joseph and trashed the Capitol.

  4. I suspect people will care when they get to Final Judgment. There’s the little-discussed situation of fearing God. Whether people know they should fear God now or not, God and His truth is to be feared by any who are not centered in that truth.

    Having a worldview that is informed by fact is a good start.

    As Elisha said, “…those who are with us [God and the truth] are more than those who are with them.”

  5. Thank you Meg. I credit knowing the history of my faith as the main reason I have always feared and abhorred mob actions, and felt suspicion and antipathy toward those who would stir them up.

  6. “Whipped into a righteous anger”

    It reminds me of something historian Simon Schama said about the events leading up to the English Civil War: “But the Scots, English and Irish were not about to be reasonable–because they were too busy being righteous. Over the next 50 years, righteousness would kill a lot of the British. At the end, reason would appear, but not before a lot of tears had been shed.”

    On the eve of the Spanish Civil War, Prime Minister, Santiago Casares Quiroga, appealed to General Emilio Mola, the de-facto leader of the Nationalists, for a compromise. Mola’s answer is chilling as we view current events: “You have your supporters and I mine. If you and I were to reach a deal, we should both be betraying our men.”

    The partisans on both sides of our current polity are so utterly convinced of the unshakable moral superiority of their positions that I do not see this ending well. Perhaps one of the other gentle contributors here can point out a more optimistic way forward that I have missed.

  7. The thing is that we do elections a certain way here in America. No one in possession of fact and promulgating fact supports the notion of wide-spread electoral fraud. No one in that above set supports the idea that any minor fraud that may have occurred would overturn the results of the election.

    If the country were to become ruled by those who overturned law and custom, the new rulers would find themselves challenged by those even less adherent to law and custom than themselves. Or at least, that has proven true through thousands of years of documented history around the world.

    For myself, I am currently fascinated by events of circa 1000 AD, when violence and murder nearly ended the royal claim of the descendants of Alfred the Great (reigned circa 871-888 A.D. – the amazing King you hear modern British royals (on TV dramatizations, at least) asserting as the foundation of their right). The House of Wessex was overthrown by a blonde leader willing and able to become more ruthless than those he was defeating. I’m descended from those ancient Saxons and Vikings (though not that particular blonde usurper).

    Truth is truth. God will do the post-event reconstruction with us, helping eternally mend the fractious pain of our current conflicts. That is my faith and my hope and part of why I find it possible to love all.

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