Patterns and Context of Southern Anti-Mormon Violence
Anti-Mormon violence represented the most common sort of violence against religious minorities—black Christians excepted—in the postbellum South. Vigilantes targeted hundreds of Latter-day Saints, including some converts and sympathizers but focusing particularly on missionaries. Mormons were whipped, kidnapped, forcibly expelled from towns or even their own homes, and in a few instances killed. Property damage was also extensive, through arson, shootings, and confiscation. Postbellum southern anti-Mormon violence should be understood as a particular set of interactions between Mormons and white southerners, with specific actions and reactions embedded in local, regional, and national contexts. This chapter describes the patterns of southern anti-Mormon violence, examines its geographic and historical setting, and situates it within the long tradition of American vigilantism that retained a special hold in the postbellum South even as it was dying out in the rest of the country.
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