This, Part 1, is exceptional. These people know what they are talking about and they are worth listening-to.
The scene I remember most is the one of the single mother with two daughters and a son walking from Illinois to Utah. Earlier, or I think this woman was one of them, the episode told the story of a woman recruited from the U.K. for the trek only to be told to build a cart and go.
This woman’s son died of starvation along the way and she was pleased it happened. Pleased he was put out of his misery is one way to look at it, we will be stronger and make it to the end of our journey is another. The mother embraced the latter position and this cuts to the heart of blood revenge or blood atonement. It is similar or worse than killing or harming disbelievers. It is okay if it is in the name of the religion.
Today it would be could be considered manslaughter or child endangerment.
I learned concepts like communitas, initiations, and rites of passage studying cultural anthropology a long time ago.
Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young used them to create a massive enterprise. Smith and his family were “downwardly mobile” and Young was a 30-year old go-nowhere carpenter in Ohio. People would listen to them and they amassed great power and led that multi-billion dollar organization. Neither had any higher or formal education nor were either ever elected to any public office.
Smith was removed from every place he lived as a result and was finally murdered. Palmyra, NY, Kirtland, OH, the Garden of Eden in Jackson County, MO, and finally Nauvoo, IL. That is Americana. He was exiled and killed by the other Americans.
He was arrested some 30 times in his 39-year life for charges ranging from disorderly person/fraud to bank fraud, to treason, to conspiracy to murder. His profession–treasure hunting on poor farmland–may have been legal but staring into a hat and claiming to see where gold is buried, and taking money for it, is not.
When Smith was killed he was in serious legal trouble and facing treason charges in both Missouri and Illinois. He is not a martyr, he was a criminal.
Under Young the Mormons fled to Utah Territory. They had amassed money (Smith with his office over the general store, and the banking; I don’t know when tithing started.) They sent missionaries or scouts and every destination was legal or acquired at the time.
Utah was part of Mexico.
One thing about Americana is the law has never changed. Towns, companies, religions, and even cultures may come and go but the Constitution, except for a small number of amendments, has not changed.
Mormonism was formed under or because of freedom of religion in the United States (i.e., the Constitution). What I found best about the program is that it describes how it has been restrained since inception because of those laws. That is the concept of theocracy.
Wherever Joseph Smith tried he was kicked-out by the locals. Sometimes it was more legal than others, but it was accepted by the majority and/or powers that be at the time. His ideas or practices were not acceptable to the majority of the people or elected authorities where he and his followers lived and he was removed. Once this was by the governor of Missouri.
At the time it was different than ‘We’ll put you in jail and throw away the key’ (e.g., Warren Jeffs). They didn’t have the FBI or a lot of other resources. It was done in more forceful ways.
He seems to have had an incredible, look you in the eye charisma as well as sexual charm.
In reference to the May 25 letter to the editor “Mormon polygamists forced to follow laws,” and the claim that polygamy was not illegal in the United States before mormons practiced polygamy:
The Illinois anti-bigamy law enacted February 12, 1833 : “Sec 121. Bigamy consists in the having of two wives or two husbands at one and the same time, knowing that the former husband or wife is still alive. If any person or persons within this State,https://www.standard.net/opinion/anti-bigamy-law-enacted-in/article_12a47fd2-677d-5721-965a-3410a2338c98.html
being married, or who shall hereafter marry, do at any time marry any person or persons, the former husband or wife being alive, the person so offending shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine, not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisoned in the penitentiary, not exceeding two years. It shall not be necessary to prove either of the said marriages by the register or certificate thereof, or other record evidence; but the same may be proved by such evidence as is admissible to prove a marriage in other cases, and when such second marriage shall have taken place without this state, cohabitation in this state after such second marriage shall be deemed the commission of the crime of bigamy, and the trial in such case may take
place in the county where such cohabitation shall have occurred.” Revised Laws of Illinois, 1833, p.198-99.
Illinois population 1830: 157,500
Illinois population 1840: 457,000
Illinois population 1850: 851,500
Nauvoo population at peak (around 1842): 13,000
Hancock County pop. 1840: 9,946 1850: 14,652 1860: 29,061 etc.