The American Early Republic and Frontier Era History

Chapter 8 (Part 3) :: What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “True or not, the Book of Mormon is a powerful epic written on a grand scale with a host of characters, a narrative of human struggle and conflict, of divine intervention, heroic good and atrocious evil, of prophecy, morality, and law. Its narrative structure is complex. The idiom is that of the King James Version, which most Americans assumed to be appropriate for a divine revelation.”
  • “He continued to receive revelations from God (sometimes using a seer-stone) that amplified what was in the Book of Mormon and provided guidance to the faithful; these the LDS Church has codified as their Doctrine and Covenants.”
  • “They tended to be people of New England birth or heritage, carrying the cultural baggage of folk Puritanism (as distinguished from Calvinist theology): communalism, chiliasm, identification with ancient Israel, and the practice of magic. Often they had been involved in other Christian restorationist movements, but no particular denominational background predominated. The prophet and his followers perpetuated traditions of a culture, Richard Bushman explains, “in which the sacred and the profane intermingled and the Saints enjoyed supernatural gifts and powers as the frequent blessing of an interested God.””
  • “The Mormons did not passively await Christ’s millennial kingdom but worked to prepare for it. Their brand of premillennialism was as activist as any postmillennialism, and even more certain of a special millennial role for America.”
  • “His notorious order to the militia of October 27, 1838, reads: “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace.””
  • “The militia commander ordered Joseph Smith shot after a brief illegal court-martial, but the officer charged with the execution refused to carry it out. Turned over to the civil authorities, the prophet escaped custody five months later and joined his refugee people on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. There they immediately turned their faith and talents to building up another new community, larger and more beautiful, which they named Nauvoo.”

Thought Questions

  • What is millennialism? What is restorationism?
  • What was the “burned-over district” of western New York state
  • Who was Joseph Smith Jr.?
  • Describe the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during Smith’s leadership
  • Explain and Expand: “in 1831 the Saints moved into the Western Reserve area of northeastern Ohio, to a town called Kirtland.”
  • Explain and Expand: “For the next several years there would be two centers of Mormon settlement, one in Ohio and one in Missouri.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The speculation that American Indians constituted some of the Lost Tribes of Israel had been expressed by many writers over the years and was current in Smith’s milieu. Native Americans themselves sometimes endorsed the Lost Tribes theory of their origins.”
  • What was “the Word of Wisdom” and how did it impact the development of the latter day saints?
  • How did the economic crisis of 1837 impact the development of the latter day saints?
  • Describe the process that created the Mormon War of 1838?
  • Describe the events of the Mormon War of 1838
  • How was millennialism connected to the founding of the latter day saints?
  • In what ways did American “exceptionalism” impact the founding of the latter day saints?
  • In what ways did American “manifest destiny” impact the founding of the latter day saints?
  • Who was Alexander Campbell?
  • Who was Charles Finney?
  • Compare and Contrast: Charles Finney, Alexander Campbell and Joseph Smith Jr.
  • Compare and Contrast: Pre-millennialism and Post-millennialism
  • Explain and Expand: “premillennialism appealing to the disinherited of this world”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading