51 pages 1 hour read

Jon Krakauer

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2003

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Chapters 17-20Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3

Chapter 17 Summary: “Exodus”

After Joseph Smith’s death, the Mormon city of Nauvoo was in crisis. Smith had failed to establish an heir, and multiple camps existed to support one candidate or another. While most Mormons at the time were unaware that church leaders were practicing polygamy, Emma Smith was determined that Smith’s successor be strongly anti-polygamy. Brigham Young, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Smith’s close ally, was away on a mission trip when he heard the news of Smith’s murder. Emma and other anti-polygamy church leaders desperately tried to establish Smith’s younger brother as the new leader before he suffered a mysterious death most likely attributed to poison. Brigham Young returned to Nauvoo and appealed to the Mormons to give up polygamy.

Those who listened to Young speak described how he seemed to take on the appearance, voice, and mannerisms of Smith. It was clear to everyone that he was God’s appointed leader of the church. After Smith’s death, anti-Mormon sentiments rose, exacerbated by the fact that Smith’s murderers were never convicted. Young asked the Illinois government to cease fire upon Mormons so that he could remove his people from the country entirely.