Southern Illinois History Page

Col. E.D. Taylor and the Mormons in the Election of 1844

A History of Illinois

    CHICAGO (1854) — Another election was to come off in August, 1844 for members of Congress, and for the legislature; and an election was pending throughout the nation for a President of the United States. The war of party was never more fierce and terrible than during the pendency of these elections. The parties in many places met separately almost every night; not to argue the questions in dispute, but to denounce, ridicule, abuse, and belittle each other with sarcasm, clamor, noise, and songs, during which nothing could be heard but hallooing, hurrahing, and yelling, and then to disperse through town with insulting taunts and yells of defiance on either side.
    In all this they were but little less fanatical and frantic on the subject of politics than were the Mormons about religion. Such a state of excitement could not fail to operate unfavorably upon the Mormon question, involved as it was in the questions of party politics by the former votes of the Mormons. As a means of allaying the excitement and making the question more manageable, I was most anxious that the Mormons should not vote at this election, and strongly advised them against doing so. But Col. E. D. Taylor went to their city a days before the election and the Mormons, being ever disposed to follow the worst advice they could get, were induced by him and others to vote for all the democratic candidates. Col. Taylor found them very hostile tot he governor and on that account much disposed not to vote at this election. The leading whig anti-Mormons, believing that I had an influence over the Mormons, for the purpose of destroying it had assured them that the governor had planned and been favorable to the murder of their prophet and patriarch. The Mormons pretended to suspect that the governor had given some countenance to the murder, or at least had neglected to take the proper precautions to prevent it. And yet it is strange that at this same election they elected Gen. Deming to be the sheriff of the county, when they knew that he had first called out the militia against them, had concurred with me in all the measures subsequently adopted, had been left at command at Carthage during my absence at Nauvoo, and had left his post when he saw that he had no power to prevent the murders. As to myself, I shared the fate of all men in high places who favor moderation, who see that both parties in the frenzy of their excitement are wrong-espousing the cause of neither; which fate always is to be hated by both parties. But Col. Taylor like a skilful politician denied nothing, but gave countenance to everything the Mormons said of the governor; and by admitting to them that the governor was a great rascal; by promising them the support of the democratic party, an assurance he was not authorized to make, but which they were foolish enough to believe, and by insisting that the governor was not the democratic party he overcame their reluctance to vote. Nevertheless, for mere political effect, without a shadow of justice the whig leaders and newspapers everywhere, and some enemies in the democratic ranks, immediately charged this vote of the Mormons to the governor's influence; and this charge being believed by many, made the anti-Mormon party more furious than ever in favor of the expulsion of the Mormons...

Gov. Thomas Ford. 1854. A History of Illinois. Chicago: S.C. Griggs and Co. 254-255.
    Col. E.D. Taylor's sister, Francine "Sina" Taylor married John Crenshaw of the Old Slave House fame in 1817. He remains one of the most fascinating politicians who left his marked from the saltworks in Gallatin County to the lead mines of Galena as well as Sangamon and LaSalle Counties and the City of Chicago.

Created April 15, 2000 by Jon Musgrave © 2000