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Gotta love history. Fascinating overlap there. It probably wouldn't be much of a stretch to conclude that Lincoln's disdain for Latter-day Saints stemmed in part from living in the Mormon state of the time (Illinois, not Utah). Lincoln probably simply followed common public perception -- the same public perception that cultivated the climate of persecution against the Mormons that ended in the largest forced migration in U.S. History -- right from Illinois. Lincoln would have certainly been aware of all the drama surrounding the rise of Nauvoo, the antagonism of the Nauvoo Lodge of the Freemasons against the Mormons and Joseph Smith in particular, the mobbings and violence plaguing Nauvoo, issues with the press in Nauvoo, the emigration of large numbers of Mormons to Nauvoo, the assassination of Joseph Smith, and the forced migration of the Mormons under Brigham Young and the burning by Illinois mobs of the Nauvoo temple. All of this stuff featured prominently in the newspapers of the time, particularly since Nauvoo was one of the biggest cities in Illinois at the time. Lincoln surely read about it because it all made for spectacular tabloid journalism: Mormon topics sold papers. Of course, ex and anti-Mormons simply state that the Mormons deserved all the persecution that they endured because they voted as a bloc and were anti-social with regards to the broader community of Illinois. That is one way to look at it. Under that view, Lincoln absorbed a correct understanding of the Mormons by living in this geographic proximity, which directly contributed to his dislike of them. Another view would be that the Latter-day Saints did not deserve to be mobbed, raped, and burned out of their homes and forced to leave the city and temple they had built, no matter how annoying they were to non-believers. Under that view, Lincoln doesn't come off very well in sharing in the general disdain for the Mormons that thrived in Illinois of the period.

It would be interesting to know whether any writings of Lincoln have survived in which Lincoln discusses the Mormons during the Nauvoo period, i.e. writings influenced by what Lincoln was reading in the papers about the rise of Nauvoo and the practice of the Mormons who were building it.

I recommend Abraham Lincoln: In His Own Words. It is a set of two dozen half-hour lectures on Lincoln and his times with Lincoln's recorded speeches, going back to 1838, as the window or jumping off point into that world. Hearing about the politics of westward expansion and the internal arrangements of Illinois gave me a better picture of the world of the Mormons of that time.

Isn't Bro. Bushman presenting a paper on Lincoln and Joseph Smith in Wyoming sometime soon?

Bushman presented a paper on the JS/Lincoln parallels at JWHA 2005 in Springfield, Illinois. At the same conference, Brian Andreason, an LDS historian working for the Lincoln Papers, also presented a paper on Mormon ties to Lincoln's Springfield. I would imagine that Bushman's piece will be made available in print soon (if not already). Not sure about Andreason's.

I do remember reading recently that Lincoln congratulated JCB on the passage of the Nauvoo Charter. I'll have to see if I can dig up the citation.

The hearing in Springfield actually became a signficant precedent in later extradition cases, being cited by several federal and state judges throughout the nineteenth century, usually as the "Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet Case," and showing up in most major legal commentaries throughout the nineteenth century. I've only been able to trace it being significant as far as the 1890s, so I don't know what happened to the case in legal circles in the twentieth century.

Lincoln mentioned Joseph Smith and the Mormons in a March 1840 letter:

To John T. Stuart

Good find Justin. I believe that would coorespond with JS's trip to Washington to petition for redress.

Lincoln made brief reference to John C. Bennett in a July 1842 letter posted here.

Those interested might wish to check out Junius and Joseph which as it deals with the political intrigue of Joseph's assassination deals with Lincon a fair bit. Quite interesting.

Ok, found the reference to Lincoln and JCB. Bennett described in a letter to the Times and Seasons that Lincoln voted for the passage of the charter, "and came forward, after the final vote, to the bar of the house, and cordially congratulated me" (Joab [JCB's pen name] to the Editors, 16 December 1840, Times and Seasons, January 1, 1841, 267).

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