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Book examines 1844 murder of Mormon prophet

Robert S. Wicks (art), director of the Miami University Art Museum, and Fred R. Foister, local history researcher, are co-authors of Junius and Joseph: Presidential Politics and the Assassination of the First Mormon Prophet, recently published by Utah State University Press.

Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was 38 years old and the mayor of Nauvoo, Ill., when he declared his candidacy for president of the United States.

Wicks and Foister argue that Smith's presidential bid had a direct connection to his assassination on June 27, 1844. They look closely at the political environment of 1840s Mormonism, especially the involvement of Mormon Church leaders and their entwined relationships with other prominent political players in Illinois.

The authors present evidence that “Joseph Smith's murder, rather than being the deadly outcome of a spontaneous mob uprising, was in fact a carefully planned military-style execution”; identify many of the individuals who planned the assassination as well as those who carried it out; and contend that the effort to remove the Mormon leader involved prominent Whig politicians as well as the Democratic governor of Illinois.

Wicks, a member of the faculty since 1983, has published numerous articles, chapters, essays and books including Buried Cities, Forgotten Gods: William Niven's Life of Discovery and Revolution in Mexico and the American Southwest.

Date Published: 06/09/2005
Volume: 24   Number: 37


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