Question: Did Hosea Stout have three men flogged because they "were not in good fellowship"?

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Question: Did Hosea Stout have three men flogged because they "were not in good fellowship"?

The Nauvoo police did not threaten others because they were "not in good fellowship"

Stout's journal entry begins:

[September] 14, Sunday. Went with my wife to meeting at the Stand. H. [Heber] C. Kimball and Brigham Young preached about the mob burning houses and gave the Saints advice what to do under the present trying circumstances; at intermission I met the Eleventh Quorum near the Stand, and then in the afternoon attended meeting.[1]

The problems begin at the afternoon meeting:

It was a business meeting and all who were not in good fellowship were not allowed to be present and the police in keeping them away had to flog three who were determined to stay.[2]

Thus, the Nauvoo police did not threaten others because they were "not in good fellowship." There was no problem with these men being in town, or attending the morning preaching.

The men who were flogged were refusing to leave a private meeting to which they were not invited and not entitled to attend

However, the afternoon meeting was "a business meeting." The Saints did not have an indoor assembly hall large enough to accommodate them, so meetings were held out of doors. The men "out of fellowship" who were flogged were refusing to leave a private meeting to which they were not invited and not entitled to attend.

The conclusion of Stout's diary entry probably illustrates why the Saints were so determined that their enemies not be present at their business meeting, during which plans for defense of the city and citizens were probably a topic:

After police meeting I went with Colonel [John] Scott to see [General] Rich; after some consultation with them we concluded that it was best to post a guard below the city to prevent any person from going in or out to correspond with the mob, as some were trying to make a difficulty in the name of the Mormons.[3]

These floggings did not occur in a peaceful, tranquil, 21st century city

This was a nineteenth-century frontier town, surrounded by hostile enemies who were burning out-lying Mormon homes and who would again drive the Saints from Illinois in winter weather. The Saints had to make plans to maintain the peace of their city—plans which could be compromised if apostates or dissidents were aware of them. Those "out of fellowship" might also use what they learned at the business meeting to perform acts for which the Mormons could be "framed," giving their enemies a justification for further attacks and military action.

Violence only occurred after the three dissidents refused to leave a meeting to which they were not invited

The author often relies on Quinn, though he here does not cite him. Quinn writes,

In the fall of 1845, Mormon enforcers became openly violent in their approach toward dissenters. On 14 September Hosea Stout recorded that Nauvoo's police "had to flog" three men "who were not in good fellowship" but had tried to attend an open air "business meeting" of the church....These incidents were occurring at public meetings of the church during daylight hours.[4]

Like the author, Quinn's treatment is inadequate. He fails to note that Stout did nothing to prevent those out of fellowship from attending public preaching meetings, and says nothing about the security situation in which the Church members found themselves. He tells us nothing about the fact that violence only occurred after the three dissidents refused to leave a meeting to which they were not invited.

The partial use of sources can sometimes lead to an inaccurate view of the complete picture.


Notes

  1. Diary of Hosea Stout (14 September 1845); available in Juanita Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844-1861 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1964).
  2. Stout diary, 14 Sept 1845.
  3. Stout diary, 14 Sept 1845.
  4. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 180, quoting Hosea Stout diary, 14 Sept. 1845, Brooks, On The Mormon Frontier 1:63.