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He pretended to have revelations. The easy trend scribed in imitation of scriptural language teeming with vague phrases upon which he placed such interpretations as when needful to carry out his immediate purpose as he organized his church on the patent prescribe of the sacred books of the Mormon faith with a council of twelve and quorums of elders and priests over all of them he exercised supreme authority like Joseph when schism was threatened or murmurs of discontent came to his ears. It would silence all opposition by means of a convenient revelation. The way it was presenting eyewitness accounts of historic events. Material for this series was drawn from the filed papers of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Today. The kingdom of St. James. James Jesse Strang small and spare with a thin hatchet a face and
reddish hair was considered in his time one of the most fascinating orators imaginable. In 1943 he moved from New York State to practice law in the village of Burlington Racine County Wisconsin. At that time Mormonism fairly widespread in the East was beginning to catch cold in Wisconsin. The founder and prophet of the religion Joseph Smith had his headquarters two hundred miles south of Burlington in Illinois. Straying greatly impressed by what he had heard of Smith's career studied Mormonism. And in January 1844 attended a Mormon meeting in Burlington. The speaker was the apostle Lyman right. The wild ram of the mountains who later led a small following into Texas crude shrill and frenzied as Wright's lecture was it left in effect on Strang a month later. He hurried to Nauvoo to meet Joseph Smith the famous translator of the Book of Mormon. Smith recognizing Strang's intelligence fluency of speech and his apparently endless
fund of esoteric information. Glee introduced Strang into the councils of the church on February 25th 1840 for James Jesse Strang was baptized into the Mormon faith. Within a week he was ordained an elder of the church. From then on the early story of Mormonism in Wisconsin and Michigan was so closely associated with straying that its recital is largely biographical. With a new author already as an elder. Strang suggested that the Illinois Mormon then in constant danger of assault should establish a state or a settlement in Wisconsin. It was agreed that Strang act as advance agent returned to Burlington and for the next two months travel through the countryside looking for the stake. If I finally selected some prairie and forest land near the confluence of the white and re seen rivers
late in May he sent a detailed report of his findings to a novel. But before he had time to get an answer Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered by a mob at Carthage Illinois. The assassinations through the Mormon Church in the confusion there were numerous and better systems. Many saw the succession but among all the contenders for leadership Brigham Young and James Jesse string proved the most powerful. A letter alleged to have been written by Joseph Smith was the basis of Strang's claims Strang was careful to explain the circumstances of the latter's composition. A few days previous to his death God gave Joseph Smith a revelation appointing me as his successor in a prophetic office. This revelation Joseph caused to be written in placed among the confidential archives of the Church of the novel. He also wrote to me a letter repeating the substance of it and giving me brief counsel for my calling. This letter
reached me at Wisconsin and its contents became public. Several days before the first rumor of the martyrdom of the prophet. There in Smith wrote. And now behold my servant James Jay's driving has come to thee from far for truth when he knew it not and have not rejected it but had faith in the the shepherd and stone of Israel and to him shall the gathering of the people be. For he will plant a stake of Zion in Wisconsin and I will establish it and there shall my people have peace and rest and shall not be moved for it shall be established on the Prairie. And behold my servants James and Aaron feel planted for I have given them wisdom. Behold my servant James shall lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes of Zion. And my servant Aaron shall be his counsellor for he has wisdom in the Gospel and
understand of the doctrines and earth not Darian. Thus was I called by the revelation of God and received my appointment through Joseph according to the revelations given to him and at the same moment in which Joseph was slain. I was visited by an angel of God accompanied by a numerous heavenly trained and anointed and ordained to the prophetic office as Moses and Joseph had been before me. So I was called by the voice of God and sent by the hands of angels as were the chief prophets before me. The church elders made a furious onslaught on the claims of Strang. They denounced his letter as a forgery and threatened with the powers of the church all who would uphold the pretender his claims were rejected and he was excommunicated. However Strang's alleged revelations had attracted wide attention at Navaho although Brigham
Young was unquestionably a great leader. The messianic expectancy of many Mormons made them prefer a man who like straying claimed supernatural powers. Where the body of Mormons who are attached to his cause returned to the
land he had selected for a stake in Wisconsin a place he called fori the Garden of Peace. It began to build up his City of Refuge prophesied that the Mormons would be driven from that then the words of Joseph appointing him would be realized. In time Strang announced a new revelation proper sighing a miracle which would completely establish his claims. The miracle occurred in September 1845 as Strang himself recorded on the 13th of September 1845. I called together a number of persons and related to them that God had revealed to me that there was involved he buried in the ground an ancient record which I was required to obtain and translate. I related to them the revelation. The angel of the Lord came unto me James and the light shined about him above the brightness of the sun and he showed unto me
the plates of the sealed record. And he gave into my hands the magic spectacles of the Your him and from him and out of the light came the voice of the Lord saying Behold my servant James I am about to bless thee with a great blessing which shall be to those that love me and immutable testimony to those who know me not a stumbling block. Our work shall come forth and the secrets of the past shall reveal. Behold the record which was sealed from my servant Joseph M to the. It is reserved. And while I was yet in the spirit the angel of the Lord took me away to the Hill in the east of Walworth against White River in vari and there he showed them to me the record buried
under an oak tree as large as the body of a man. It was enclosed in an earthen casement and buried in the ground as deep as to a man's waist. And I beheld it. As a man can see a light stone in clear water. For I saw it by the wearing of the Yoram. And some of the spectacles. And I returned to your home and family to the angel of the Lord. And he departed out of my sight. After relating the revelation I took the people to an old oak tree and told them the ancient record was deposited there in all time and the tree had grown over it. I then asked them to examine everything relating to it most critically so that they could stand as witnesses. Considering their findings it was significant that string's witnesses were
also his followers. We can examine those we dug all the way without most care and we say with the utmost confidence that no part of the earth through which we dug exhibited any sign or indication that it had been moved or disturbed at any time previous. The root of the tree struck down on every side very closely extending below the case and closely interwoven with roots from other trees. None of these had been broken or cut away. In fine we found an alphabetical and pictorial record carefully cased up very deep in the earth and covered with a flat stone with an oak tree one foot in diameter growing over it with every evidence that the senses can give that it had lain there as long as the tree had been growing. Yeah but there's another story told to the effect that Mr. Strang cut up somebodies old brass kettle and manufactured some plates out of it. But some characters on them then went to a certain oak
tree a foot in diameter and by boarding a slanting Oh under said tree deposited those plates and said oh and then claimed that God revealed to him that our record was buried there and called for and had four of what he considered the most honest and intelligent men in the neighborhood to go and dig up this record and all this was done to prove to the people that he was a great prophet. A week after the finding of the forty plates sometimes known as the plates of Laban and awestruck audience gathered for strength translation of the hieroglyphics scratched on these plates strength reported that the inscription was the record of Raj Montoro. And the concluding sentence of his seemingly inscrutable record as translated by straying possesses special importance the forerunner men shall kill. But how might he profit their child while I will be his
strength. And he shall bring forth that I record. Record my words and bury it in the hill of promise. The Forerunner was of course Joseph Smith and the mighty prophet James Strang and the clear intent of these statements was to evidence to the world that Strang had been appointed by God from ancient times to be his vice regent on earth where the discovery and translation of these plates Strang found himself a celebrity overnight. He had now gained a definite foothold in his fight for succession. The number of his followers increased despite the continued opposition. Brigham Young Joseph Smith never wrote or caused to be written Strang's letter of appointment. It is a law a forgery a snare and let this testimony be in remembrance before God and let it stand against him. And you if you shall persist in following him. If you think it proper to listen to
the false words of Mr Strang after this is laid before you. Brother Miller is instructed to cut you off from the church. We hope you'll see your error and flee from it and save yourselves from the snare of deception and the devil. In the beginning of 1846 there began the great exodus of Mormons under the leadership of Brigham Young across the Mississippi and into the wilderness of the West. The knot had been tightening around the doomed city have no food for a long time as the frequency of conflicts between the Mormons and their non Mormon neighbors whom they referred to as Gentiles increased. A few months previous James Strang sent forth a biting pastoral letter to the Illinois Mormons warning them to be aware of their leader and his proposed migration to Utah or California. Let not my call to you be VERY the destroyer has gone forth among you and has prevailed. You are preparing to resign country and houses and lands to him. Many of you are about to leave the haunts of civilization and of
men to go into an unexplored wilderness among savages and in trackless deserts to seek a home in the wilds where the footprint of the white man is not found. The voice of God has not called you to this that the oppressed flee for safety unto vari and let the gathering of the people be there. Strang's call was well timed. Brigham Young's expedition having crossed the frozen Mississippi late in January suffered many misfortunes discouraging reports arrived in Wisconsin and Illinois Strang's joy was great when all during February and March. Family after family of Mormons poor Harris mistrustful of other leaders poured into his makeshift settlement on the White River eventually vari was to attract 2000 settlers. He was the first utopian community in the Wisconsin territory. At first everyone worked at clearing trees building houses providing food. Then gradually
as elementary demands were met Frank began formulating a social theory and a code of laws for his village. He insisted upon abstinence from alcohol meat tea coffee and tobacco and lectured against spitting in church required that women wear plain gray calico and men plain homespun and thoroughly condemned plural marriages or sexual lapses of any sort. These restrictions gave rise to a great deal of trouble. And when Strang left the village on a proselytising tour there was a great deal of backsliding and even open revolt. But strength was always able to overcome his opponents despite financial difficulties dissension among the members and the hostility of neighbors worry survived for three years. During these years Strang toyed with the idea of a very University of Wisconsin as revelations in the law of prophetic succession were published in a book entitled The Diamond. He introduced the gospel of baptism for the dead which allowed deceased
persons to be baptized by proxy in the sanctified White River Strang himself was the first to save from the prison house of darkness Lord Byron James Knox Polk and Oliver Cromwell. Other Mormons were immersed for the salvation of Napoleon Bonaparte and members of the American family of Adams. One institution of Strang's which aroused great antagonism both inside and outside the colony was the secret order of the Illuminati in order which provided for an absolutist military hierarchy headed by straying all sworn to defend and uphold the order even though they ran directly counter to the laws of civil government. Although the initiates were sworn to secrecy under the threat of damnation news of the Illuminati soon leaked out spreading general alarm and bringing down the derision of the non-Mormon community on Strang's head
assailed from all directions he was fairly successful in his counterattack. But he began to feel that very was slowly being hemmed in by unfriendly neighbors. The same conditions which had driven the novel Mormons across the Mississippi would endanger the permanency of his own colony for the growth of his Mormon community. Isolation was essential otherwise annihilation was only a question of time. In the spring of 1847 he began considering the removal of his colony to a more promising spot. After he had led a reconnoitring party to the beaver Islands a beautiful site about 50 miles southwest of Mackinac Island Michigan. He decided that there was to be the great corner stake of Zion. His decision was couched in the same biblical style of Revelation. I beheld a land amidst wide waters and covered with large timber with a deep Broad Bay on one side of it. And
I wandered over it upon little hills and among the rich valleys where the air was pure and serene and the unfolding foliage with its fragrant shades attracted me till I wandered to bright clear waters scarcely ruffled by the breeze in my vision. A great number of Indians came in could lose and in my perplexity I asked one who came near. What mean is all this. And he said unto me the guard carried away in the spirit and brought to this land in the midst of waters in the north country that the Lord might show thee what he will do hereafter for here shall be a stake and a cornerstone of Zion. By mid 1849 migration to Beaver Island Michigan began in earnest
many families moving in from the east were Strang had gone to proselytise and many coming from Horry. There were certain difficulties. One of the first Mormon settlers on the island had proclaimed a divine mission for the slaying of Gentiles and another had predicted a massacre of Mormons by the local Indians. These zealots sprang silenced by excommunication. According to a later commentator However the outspoken hatred of the nine Mormon population near the islands was a more serious matter. The Mormon settlers manifested so much energy that the fisherman whose rude huts punctuated the coast there as well as on the mainland opposite took serious alarm. A lamb sale being held about this time considerable friction occurred between Mormon and Gentile claimants of choice tracts. There arose an unpleasantness that later bore bitter fruit. It was claimed by the Mormons that the fisherman induced the captains of vessels bearing Mormon emigrants not to land at Beaver Island. Many were
carried on to Wisconsin who had been ticketed from the east for the harbor of St. James but so the Mormons had rechristened the Horseshoe Bend where vessels came to land. The cluster of houses that were reared on the ancient mounds along the shore they dignified by the name city of St. James. As time went on and converse between Mormons and Gentiles became more frequent. The Mormons planned a large tabernacle while some of them were getting out the timber for the structure they were set upon and soundly beaten. Doubtless there is much truth in the claim made by the Mormons that up to this time they were more sinned against than aggressors drunken fishermen invaded their homes and subjected the women to a dignitaries debating clubs were attended by uninvited guests whose boisterous conduct prevented proceedings. Men from our mission American Act came in boats to raid outlying farmhouses family sent by the missionary elders were met at the wharf and told to return to the boat. As all the Mormons would soon be driven away or killed.
About 1850 the Beaver Island Mormons began to retaliate. Their numbers had so increased that they could safely do so. The ambitions of James Jesse Strang were about to be realized. Now he pointed to the sacred book he had translated from the plates he revealed vari therein was a significant section entitled The calling of the King. Chapter 20 Section 6. He God hath chosen his servant James to be king. He has made him his apostles of all nations. He had established him a prophet above the kings of the earth and appointed him. By his voice did he call him. And he sent his angels unto him to ordain him. The 8th of July 1850 was set for the coronation of King. As for me the king of the kingdom of St. James. Was crowned king He took place in
a building about 80 feet long constructed but partly completed at the time of the carnation. Any young woman under similar circumstances. I was anxious to be present and managed to get into the time. Tangle at one end was packed full on March the procession of elders and other quorums is guarding the king. First came the king dressed in a robe of bright red and accompanied by his counsel. Then follow the twelve Elder is the seventy in the minor orders that the ministry the people are permitted to occupy what space remain in the tabernacle. The cheap ceremonies were performed by George Jay Adams president of the Council of Elders. Adams had been in and he succeeded in making the crowning of the king a very
imposing ceremony ended by placing upon the Auburn his mistress a crown of metal the crown was a plane circling the cluster of stars projecting in front. King Strang was now supreme on Beaver Island. But as the population of the island multiplied in the power of the Mormons with it the hatred of the traders and fishermen on the opposite coast became more intense. The border feud grew so bitter that it became the subject of newspapers in several states as the Mormon population increased the solid vote of Beaver Island became of great concern to Michigan politicians to the discomfiture of the people of Mack in Akron 1851. The Mormons elected all the county officers and by 1853
Kings straying had secured his own election to the legislature. During this period of his reign the power of King Strang was at its zenith among his own people his word was law and he proceeded to put into effect ideas which he had long treasured. The use of intoxicants was prohibited and likewise of coffee tea and tobacco. There was a code that strictly governed all morals and religious observance and violations were punished with a rigor that for bad repetition ties are required of every husband and first of everything from the first fruits of there are going to the Rose store. Schools were established and from the royal press were issued books and pamphlets in great numbers. Women were required to wear rivers. Men were required to be as decorous in their conduct as women and gaming was prohibited by far the greatest uproar was caused by the King's sudden
about face on the subject of polygamy or spiritual wife or which had been practiced among the Nauvoo Mormons and which Strang had at first violently opposed. After new revelation straining to come to himself for writers each of whom bore him several children. It was later learned that the first of these polygamous wives had travelled to the east with them while the Mormon headquarters were still at Gori and while divine sanction of plural marriages had not yet been revealed to him dressed in man's clothing masquerading as his secretary. She had accompanied him everywhere. While seemingly securely entrenched the kingdom of St. James was at this time really crumbling. Many attempts have been made to crush Strang's power in the form of lawsuits and raids press attacks and the trails from within the Mormon ranks. On June 16th 1856 his overthrow came Henry Legler describes the circumstances about the middle of June
1856 a ship steamed into the harbor of St. James and by invitation of the captain King's trying proceeded to visit the vessels officers as he was about to step on the pier. Two pistol shots were fired from behind both taking effect. He turned and recognized the assassins as they fired again. As he sank to the ground they struck him over the head and face with weapons. Ran aboard the steamer and gave themselves up. They were taken to Mackinaw where the murderers were received as heroes. They were never brought to trial. The King had been assassinated by two of his subjects. Thomas Bedford and Alexander Wentworth Bedford have been whipped by the order of the King for some offense is said to have upheld his wife in disregarding the mandate to wear bloomers. Wentworth also had a grievance. Strang survived about three weeks during which time he gave minute directions for the future government of the kingdom refusing to name a successor. He asked to be taken back to vari where he died July 9th 1856.
The Kingdom fell with the death of Strang soon after his removal to Boree. The fisherman came with a torch and axe to destroy the printing office was sacked. The tabernacle reduced to ashes and the Mormon settlers were exiled. The way it was presenting eyewitness accounts of historic events. Today the kingdom of St. James. Material for the series has gone from the files and papers of the State Historical Society it was guns and. Consultant for the series was Doris plant. Scrips by Bethel Pern music contest for production Ralph Johnson. This is the national educational radio network.
The Way It Was
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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"The Way It Was" is a radio program which presents eye witness accounts of notable topics throughout American history. Each episode begins with a description of a specific event, person, or historical topic, followed by several dramatic readings of witness testimonies found in the files and papers of the state historical society of Wisconsin. The program was originally released in 1969, and was re-broadcast from the program library of National Public Radio.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-37-14 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:32
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Chicago: “The Way It Was; 14,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 20, 2024,
MLA: “The Way It Was; 14.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 20, 2024. <>.
APA: The Way It Was; 14. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from