"Armed men are coming from the state of Missouri" : Federalism, Interstate Affairs, and Joseph Smith's Final Attempt to Secure Federal Intervention in Nauvoo
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society
University of Illinois Press; Illinois State Historical Society
Rogers examines the constitutional and political theory behind Joseph Smith's letter to President John Tyler, written just seven days before his murder, pleading for federal intervention in behalf of the beleaguered religionists at Nauvoo. Evidence that anti-Mormon forces from Iowa and Missouri were planning a mob action against Smith was palpable in the weeks leading up to the Mormon leader's murder. Smith's appeal reflected his belief that the federal government could intervene to prevent the likely assault, given the interstate nature of the threat posed by Iowans and Missourians crossing the Mississippi River in pursuit of Smith. Rogers thus reveals how violent anti-Mormonism in Illinois, and the Midwest generally provoked fundamental debates over federalism and constitutionalism, including both the nature of and limits to federal power in antebellum America.