Washington D.C.

Nine years after the organization Joseph Smith decided enough was enough and he needed to approach the President of the United States regarding the persecution to members of the Church.  By this time the Saints had been forced out of Fayette New York, Kirtland Ohio, Jackson County Missouri and Clay County Missouri.  They were, at this point, located in Nauvoo, Illinois, which was a swamp-land when they showed up.

November of 1839 Joseph Smith, along with Sidney Rigdon, Orrin Porter Rockwell and Elias Higbee, left to Washington D.C., and on November 29th of the same year Joseph and Elias met with President Van Buren.  In this meeting the Prophet told the President what has been going on with the members of the Church.  He asked if they could receive protection from the government, considering the First Amendment of the United States Constitution grants the freedom of religion.  President Buren showed his sympathy and the two men of the Church left the meeting.  While in Wasthing D.C. Joseph and the friends with him went to the many other political leaders of the area with the same plea, but received no assistance.  When they returned to meet a second time with the President to hear his final say on the matter, they received this answer:

“Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you. … If I take up for you I shall lose the vote of Missouri.”

Smith and company went back to Illinois with the rejection of the President, but decided they would not let it end there.  Joseph Smith Jr., Presdient of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, decided that if change was to come in favor of the Saints he must be run and be elected President of the Unites States himself.

Joseph’s friend William Wines Phelps, a scribe and writer for the prophet on many occasions as well as the author of many church hymns, helped President Smith pen a pamphlet stating his platform.  The pamphlet was titled:  General Smith’s Views of the Power and Policy of the Government.  This pamphlet did not actually directly mention the Church, nor was the Church the only reason he was running as a candidate for presidency.  Joseph ran to abolish slavery, suppress mobs, reduce the salary of politicians, form a national bank, grant prison reforms, and much more.  Smith and Phelps printed 1,500 copies of this pamphlet and sent them to political leaders.

It was during the LDS General Conference held in April of 1844 that the Prophet made the official announcement that he was running for U.S. President.  In this General Conference was also announced a new mission for the missionaries of the church.  Those called to this new mission were called Electioneer Missionaries, and were called to preach the gospel as well as share Joseph Smith’s political platform for the coming election.

The political views of Smith became very popular throughout the nation and this worried those that were persecuting the Saints.  To keep the Prophet from gaining presidency it was decided by these persecutors that it was time to kill Joseph Smith.  In June of 1844, Joseph Smith and a few of his friends were then arrested and taken to Carthage Jail in Illinois.


Additional Reading:
Vote:  Joseph Smith!
Religious Freedom
Fundamentals of Our Constitution
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
Joseph Smith:  Campaign for President of the United States
General Smith’s Views of the Power and Policy of the Government