Question: Did Porter Rockwell admit to shooting Lilburn Boggs?

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Question: Did Porter Rockwell admit to shooting Lilburn Boggs?

The author does not tell us that his source, Schindler, was criticized for giving credence to anti-Mormon sources on this issue

The author of the critical book One Nation Under Gods claims that Porter Rockwell admitted that he had tried to kill Lilburn Boggs. [1] He offers the following sources:

  • Orrin Porter Rockwell. Quoted in Harold Schindler, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Man of God, Son of Thunder, 80.
  • Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons, 250.

The author does not tell us that his source, Schindler, was criticized for giving credence to anti-Mormon sources on this issue:

Anti-Mormon testimony is given free rein in relation to the shooting of Governor Boggs, especially in an effort to link Joseph Smith with it through the death "prophecies" which Rockwell tried to fulfill. Evidence of these predictions of Boggs's early and violent demise unravel into loose ends as the whole affair becomes unfinished business. After an accumulation of anti-Mormon charges convinces one of Rockwell's guilt, a contrary court decision such as that of Judge Pope (p. 88) throws the whole question back to where it has been for over a century--a state of uncertainty in which each reader decides the case for himself according to his personal prejudices.[2]

A review of the second edition of this work noted the same difficulties:

The late Gustive O. Larson reviewed the first edition of the Rockwell biography for Dialogue (Winter 1966) and objected primarily to the "over-abundance of irresponsible testimony and sensationalism represented by such names as William Daniels, Bill Hickman, Joseph H. Jackson, Swartzell, Achilles, Beadle, and . . . Kelly and Birney's 'Holy murder' . . ." I feel that Larson's criticism is still valid and see little effort on the part of the author to rectify this tendency.[3]

Rockwell was acquitted by a Missouri jury, after being held captive for more than a year

The author does not mention McLaws' paper, which examined the evidence and found it insufficient to assign blame to anyone.[4]

One Nation Under Gods also fails to account for the fact that Rockwell was acquitted by a Missouri jury, after being held captive for more than a year—if a jury in hostile Missouri would not condemn him, how good could the evidence have been?[5]


Notes

  1. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 98, page 548 (hardback); page 546 (paperback).
  2. Gustive O. Larson, "The Legend of Porter Rockwell, review of Orrin Porter Rockwell: Man of God, Son of Thunder, by Harold Schindle," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 1 no. 4 (Winter 1966), 115.
  3. Eugene E. Campbell, "Revised But Unchanged, review of Orrin Porter Rockwell: Man of God, Son of Thunder, by Harold Schindle," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 no. 4 (Winter 1983), 149.
  4. Monte B. McLaws, "The Attempted Assassination of Missouri's Ex-Governor, Lilburn W. Boggs," Missouri Historical Review LX (October 1965), 50-62.
  5. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 468–469.