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BYU Studies Quarterly

BYU Studies Quarterly

Abstract

When Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs accused Joseph Smith (founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) of being the mastermind behind his attempted assassination in 1842, Joseph Smith's enemies tried to extradite him to Missouri for trial three times. Each time, Joseph successfully appealed to the laws of the land and exerted self-preserving political influence through the Nauvoo City Council to avoid extradition. This article examines closely the second of the three cases, illuminating how Joseph Smith emerged temporarily victorious but ultimately turned public opinion against himself. The public viewed the Prophet as taking advantage of legal loopholes to escape justice and felt threatened by his political power. The much-publicized legal proceedings stirred up greater anti-Mormon sentiment toward the Saints and contributed to heated persecutions and, eventually, Joseph Smith's martyrdom.

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