Extermination Order Rescinded
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“Extermination Order Rescinded,” Ensign, Sept. 1976, 95

Extermination Order Rescinded

The infamous order that called for the “extermination or expulsion” of Mormons from Missouri, issued in 1838, has finally been rescinded after 138 years.

In the order, a letter to General John Clark of the state militia, Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs charged that the Mormons had committed outrages “beyond all description” and that the Mormons were in “open and armed defiance of the laws” and had “made war upon the people of this state.” The Haun’s Mill Massacre occurred as a result of this order, and the Saints, already harassed by mobs, signed a treaty with General Lucas of the state militia agreeing to give up their leading men for trial, to surrender their arms, to sign over their properties to defray the expenses of the war, and to leave the state. The Mormons left the state within the following year. Since then the order has not been enforced, though it was technically still the law, and today there are five stakes and three missions in the state.

The continued existence of the order was recently brought to the attention of Missouri Governor Christopher S. Bond. Governor Bond, upon rescinding the order, said, “This was a dark chapter in Missouri’s history. In this, our country’s 200th birthday, it is fitting to reaffirm our belief in the principles which our founding fathers recognized in our state and nation’s Constitution and Bill of Rights.” Bond’s executive order expresses “on behalf of all Missourians our deep regret for the injustice and undue suffering which was caused by this 1838 order” and states that “Governor Boggs’s order clearly contravened the rights to life, liberty, property, and religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Constitution of the State of Missouri.”