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Abstract

In 1838 Governor Boggs of Missouri issued Executive Order 44, wherein he wrote that Mormons must be removed from the state and exterminated if necessary. The initial research question for this thesis was why the interactions between the Missourians and the Mormons lead to a call for the extermination of the Mormons? To properly understand the political philosophy that justified such action from the Missourians, the research for this thesis began by working back from the Missouri period to the origins of the United States. The attempt to understand the development of political thought in this period led to research into the political philosophy of early modern England, which led to an examination of Christianity’s place in early modern English politics. The thesis begins by examining the relationship in the medieval period between the papacy and the European monarchs. It follows this examination by tracing the development of the political thought that goes from a nearly universal acceptance of the Pope’s authority to a nearly complete rejection (at least in England and the United States) of any absolute religious authority. It examines the political connection between this rejection of absolute religious authority and the progression of democratic principles. By examining the progression of political thought from early modern England to Jacksonian American, the thesis concludes by arguing that the Mormon's beliefs in miracles and absolute religious authority caused the Missourians to mistrust the Mormons. The Mormon's beliefs were seen by their fellow citizens not only as proof that they were deluded but that they couldn’t be trusted in a democratic society.

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