Many know the story of Joseph Smith and his campaign for President of the United States in 1844. Most have considered it an impossible and foolish campaign with not even the barest chance of success. Not so fast according to Ron Andersen. Andersen is an Abraham Lincoln researcher, historian, author, and founder of the Lincoln Leadership Society. This organization is dedicated to perpetuating Lincoln’s remarkable principles of conduct by highlighting values still relevant to us today that will benefit our families, our careers, and our communities. He was the guest presenter to the Settlement Canyon Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers at their monthly dinner and history evening May 6, 2021. However, because of COVID limitations, this get-together was virtual and so no dinner. We are planning and hoping to sit down to potluck again for the July dinner and presentation.
In his books about Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Smith and the Constitution of the United States, Andersen theorizes an interesting scenario in which Joseph Smith could have successfully been elected President of the United States if his life had not been prematurely shorted by an assassin’s bullet. After unsuccessfully importuning the U.S. Congress, governors, and the President himself for redress of the many wrongs committed against members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Missouri and elsewhere, Smith was nominated to campaign for the highest office in the land. He skillfully organized a network of over 500 “election missionaries” and nine of the Twelve Apostles who traveled the country holding conferences and campaign meeting wherever they traveled. A pamphlet sketching the main planks of his campaign was sent to all political leaders, postmasters and newspapers and results were very favorable and starting to gain momentum. This all came to an abrupt halt on June 27, 1844, just four months shy of the election, when Joseph was murdered as a martyr to his cause.
Interestingly enough, the main thrust of Joseph’s campaign was picked up by Abraham Lincoln 17 years later. As history tells, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was declared during the Civil War, a conflict that led to almost a million deaths. As Joseph Smith and Lincoln desired, the slaves were freed and the authority of the federal government in state’s rights were set straight. The two main flaws of the Constitution that Joseph started to repair were completed by Abraham Lincoln resulting in his martyrdom as well.
It was Joseph Smith who first proposed the purchasing of slaves from their masters. This action was to be financed through the sell of broad swaths of federal lands in the west. Lincoln put forward this same solution to slavery. He postulated that if owners considered their slaves as property, then pay them for their property. He valiantly tried to convince the senate and congress in Washington of this resolution, reasoning that if accepted, the country could save itself from the violence that was sure to come from simply freeing the slaves.
Of course, the destruction that Lincoln foresaw, and which Joseph Smith prophesied about happened, propelling this nation into the darkest period of history not seen before or since. Smith exclaimed in 1832 that slaves would rise up against their masters resulting in a war between the northern states and southern states that would “eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls” until the inhabitants were “made to feel the wrath and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end…” What a price paid by not listening to these two inspired giants who would have saved us from the horrifying acts experienced then, and which in part may be continuing today.
The Settlement Canyon Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers thanks Ron Andersen for his thorough research and captivating presentation and invites SUP members and their friends to listen to another wonderful historical representation in June by Lori Hendersen who is the granddaughter of Willard Bean, lovingly known as “The Fighting Preacher.” Exact time and date to follow.
Darrell Smith is the publicity chairman for the Settlement Canyon Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.