April 9, 2013

The Mormon War of 1838

T. Ward Frampton, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, is publishing 'Some Savage Tribe': Race, Legal Violence, and the Mormon War of 1838, in the Journal of Mormon History (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

This paper argues for a reinterpretation of the Mormon War of 1838, during which the governor of the State of Missouri issued a formal order to "exterminate" approximately 10,000 Mormon men, women, and children. It argues that the politics of race - largely overlooked in most accounts of the hostilities - were central to the conflict on a variety of levels: fears of racial violence, stoked by perceived Mormon sympathy toward Native Americans and abolitionism, helped give rise to the conflict; Mormons gradually became racially recast as non-white leading up to the Extermination Order; and, curiously, Missourians frequently engaged in "racial masking" (wearing red and black face paint) when engaged in hostilities. It concludes by arguing that the event is significant not only as a formative moment in the history of the Mormon Church, but also as a window into the intersection of law, race, and violence on the American frontier.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

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