Politics, Mormons, Newspapers


Much has been written about the pohtical origins of the Mormon conflicts in Nauvoo, Illinois, between 1839 and 1844, but relatively little scholarship has analyzed the role of the partisan press in that conflict. George Gayler and other historians claim that· Mormon political activity ... must be singled out as the chief source of irritation between [ the Mormons] and the Illinois citizens." However, Gayler limits his investigation of the press mostly to the anti-Mormon newspapers, the Nauvoo Expositor and the Warsaw Signal. Governor Thomas Fords History cf Illinois describes the sordid political battle between the Whigs and the Democrats, but his Democratic loyalty detracts from the value of his account. Philhp Winkler's 1991 Doctoral Thesis "Mormon Nauvoo in Jacksonian America· thoroughly establishes Mormon Nauvoo in the political context of Jacksonian America by claiming that the Mormons created political anxiety among the Whigs and Democrats because of their disregard for Jacksonian principles. His thesis falls short, however, of capturing the emotional interaction between the parties because his examination of the Illinois press is only supplementary. Helen Fulton

Snider was more accurate when she claimed in her 1933 M.A. thesis "Mormonism in Illinois: An Analysis of the non-Mormon Press Materials," that newspapers crystallized the opinions of the Mormons and non-Mormons, "bringing about the conflict much sooner than would have occurred otherwise." Similarly, Annette Hampshire recognized the value of the press and made extensive use of it in her 1985 book Mormonism in Conflict The Nauvoo Years, but her assessment of theunear neutral(ity]" of the press overlooked the political fervor which generated the press.