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Illinois apologizes to Mormons, Utah for 1844 murder

By PATTY HENETZ, Associated Press
Last Updated 12:01 pm PDT Wednesday, April 7, 2004

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A delegation of Illinois officials apologized to leaders of the Mormon Church on Wednesday for the 1844 murder of the church's founder and the expulsion of Mormons from Illinois.

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and others made the trip to Utah a week after the Illinois House approved a resolution expressing regret for violence against Mormons, including the slaying of Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"There was a chapter in our history that we are not proud of," Quinn said after meeting privately with church leaders and Utah officials, including Gov. Olene Walker.

Quinn said he hoped the gesture would make Mormons feel welcome in Illinois. Each year, about 350,000 Mormons visit Nauvoo, Ill., where Smith settled, and about 51,000 Mormons now live in Illinois.

James E. Faust, one of the church's top leaders, said the resolution is a "message of respect and reconciliation" that will "long live in the hearts of this people."

Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, 93, did not attend the meeting because of the death of his wife on Tuesday.

Mormons built Nauvoo into a city of 20,000, one of the largest in the nation at the time, about 210 miles southwest of Chicago. But their religious beliefs and growing power created friction with non-Mormons. In 1844, Smith and his brother were arrested, and a mob broke into the jail and killed them.

More violence followed, and the new church leader, Brigham Young, guided his followers out of the state in 1846, first to Iowa and then on to Utah, where they arrived in 1847.


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