Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints learn early on about the murder of their faith’s founder, Joseph Smith.
They know that, on June 27, 1844 (179 years ago this month), he and his brother Hyrum were gunned down by a mob at a jail in Carthage, Ill. They know that no one was ever convicted of the killings. And they know that the ugliness that took place outside their “City Beautiful” marked the beginning of the end to the Saints’ stay in nearby Nauvoo.
What many insiders and outsiders alike either don’t know or fail to recognize, however, is that Smith’s slaying was not only a religious martyrdom but also a political assassination. They forget that the church leader was a candidate for the U.S. presidency at the time of his death and was the first American to be assassinated while running for the White House.
On this week’s show, with the help of Benjamin Park, author of the acclaimed “Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier,” we revisit the mystique surrounding Carthage, how it happened, why it happened, what can be learned from it.