The Cadre for the Kingdom : The Electioneer Missionaries of Joseph Smith's 1844 Presidential Campaign
Salt Lake City, UT
University of Utah
Doctor of Philosophy
The consequences of Joseph Smith's assassination, during his 1844 presidential campaign, shaped the rest of nineteenth-century Mormonism. Historians have documented Smith’s murder, the subsequent succession crisis, and exodus to the Great Basin. Yet, no one has examined in detail the hundreds of men, and one woman, Smith dispatched throughout the nation to preach Mormonism and campaign for him. This study focuses on this cadre of over six hundred electioneer missionaries. Who were they before the campaign? What did they do during the campaign? How did electioneering influence their beliefs? What became of them religiously, politically, socially, and economically in the decades following Smith’s assassination?
The cadre came from a variety of socioeconomic, religious, and political experiences, yet were united in building Smith's Zion of restorationist Christianity, economic cooperation, and theodemocratic government in preparation for the return of Christ. They campaigned for Smith and preached Mormonism at great sacrifice, encountering opposition, hardship, and sometimes surprising success. Smith's assassination terminated the campaign, but only further steeled this cadre to his goal of Zion. Brigham Young followed Smith’s ideal of aristarchy by choosing loyal cadre men to oversee the evacuation of the faithful and the colonization of the American West.
Appointed to important leadership positions within the church, cadre members thus disproportionately became the religious, political, social, and economic leaders for decades in the Great Basin Mormon Kingdom, a theodemocratic Zion. They were general, regional, and local clergy simultaneously occupying territorial, county, and municipal government offices. As leaders, cadre men entered plural marriage and took more wives than their counterparts. The consequential land wealth, coupled with unique economic opportunities from their religious and political stations, created them as an economic elite.
Continued resistance to the un-American nature of theodemocratic Zion from the federal government eventually crushed Mormonism's Zion and its leadership. However, the descendants of the cadre adapted and endured to remain, even up to the present time, the Mormon religious, political, social, and economic elite of the Great Basin. Their story is Mormonism’s story and is directly linked to their heretofore understudied and undervalued campaign experience in 1844.