The year is 1844, the African American population in the south is living in slavery and the presidential election is coming up. One of the candidate’s’ platform is to bring equality to all people. Maybe the U.S. would be less divided now, if he would have won.
Joseph Smith Jr., founder of The Latter Day Saint Movement, also known as the Mormons, felt the need for equality amongst all people. A very charismatic man, and a good speaker, Smith led his people for 14 years before he was killed by a mob in Carthage, Illinois.
“It is by no means improbable that some future textbook for the use of generations yet unborn will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the 19th century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen, and it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, and the reply absurd as it doubtless seems to most men now living may be an obvious commonplace to their descendants,” historian John Quincy said.
Richard D. Poll, the late professor of history and political science, said the following about Smith’s reasoning to run for presidency, “The idea of announcing for the Presidency probably occurred to Joseph Smith during the winter of 1843-44, when his inquiries to some of the leading national political figures about what would be their course of action toward the Mormons, if elected to the White House, drew unsatisfactory answers or no answers at all.”
Smith claimed no political party affiliation when he ran. “Unity is power, and when I reflect on the importance of it to the stability of all governments, I am astounded at the silly moves of persons and parties,” Smith said.
Smith was staunchly against slavery. “The Declaration of Independence ‘holds these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal: that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ but at the same time, some two or three millions of people are held as slaves for life, because the spirit in them is covered with a darker skin than ours,” Smith said.
At this point in time, Smith had gained a large amount of support through his followers, and because of this, he was able to get people to go out across the country telling others to vote for him. There would not be another significant attempt to abolish the abhorrent practice again until the Republican Party formed in 1856 with a primary goal of getting rid of slavery. This process would not be completed for another seven years after a bloody war.
The ability to be a good speaker was not limited to Smith alone. Sidney Rigdon, Smith’s vice presidential pick, had been a minister for most of his life. A while after becoming a member of Smith’s newly founded church, Rigdon gave a speech that would later referred to as the “Salt Speech,” which became a rallying cry for the members that were being persecuted by the Missourians.
Perhaps these two men would have been able to begin the process of mending several years before it did. If so, their ability to speak and get many people to come together, might have caused a different turn of events to occur in our nation’s history, and we would not be such a divided nation.