Galvanizing Effect of Joseph Smith’s Death

Joseph Smith, the Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his brother Hyrum, its Patriarch, were shot to death by a black-face mob in the upper room of the jail at Carthage, Illinois, on June 27, 1844. That act of ruffianism, which culminated (though it did not end) the hostility of the middle border toward Joseph’s peculiar people, was expected to scotch the Mormons for good. Instead, it did two things: it tempered their already well-tempered steel in the blood of martyrs, and made zealots out of men and women who might otherwise have been only die-hards; and it assured the carrying-out of migration plans that had been fitfully contemplated long before Joseph’s death.