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The Extermination Order and How it was Rescinded
Governor Lilburn W. Boggs Extermination Order

    Governor Boggs issued orders to General Clark, conferring upon him the most plenary authority for putting down the so-called Mormon insurrection following the receipt of several appeals from mob leaders and citizens in northern Missouri and pressured by advisors to act immediately. This document, now known as the "Extermination Order," was issued on 27 October 1838.


Lilburn W. Boggs image, H073.1, provided courtesy of Community of Christ Archives, Independence, Missouri

Headquarters of the Militia
City of Jefferson, October 27, 1838
Gen. John B. Clark.

    Sir:- Since the order of this morning to you, directing you to cause four hundred mounted men to be raised within your division, I have received by Amos Rees, Esq. of Ray county and Wiley C. Williams, Esq., one of my aids, information of the most appalling character, which entirely changes the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State. Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operations with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary, for the public peace-their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so, to any extent you may consider necessary. I have just issued orders to Maj. Gen. Willock of Marion county, to raise five hundred men, and to march them to the northern part of Daviess, and there unite with General Doniphan, of Clay, who has been ordered with five hundred men to proceed to the same point for the purpose of intercepting the retreat of the Mormons to the north. They have been directed to communicate with you by express, you can also communicate with them if you find it necessary. Instead, therefore, of proceeding as at first directed to reinstate the citizens in their homes, you will proceed immediately to Richmond and then operate against the Mormons. Brig. Gen. Parks of Ray, has been ordered to have four hundred of his Brigade in readiness to join you at Richmond. The whole force will be placed under your command.
I am very respectfully, Your Ob't Serv't,
L. W. BOGGS, Commander-in-Chief.

Biographical Sketch of Lilburn W. Boggs by His Son

    In late 1975, RLDS Far West, Missouri Stake President Lyman F. Edwards wrote Governor Christopher Bond inviting him to participate in the RLDS annual stake conference kicking off the 1976 summer reunion. President Edwards suggested that some kind of gesture during the American Bicentennial might be appropriate in the heart of "Mormon War Country." RLDS Church leaders also worked through the chair of the Republican Committee in the area. The Governor's Office responded positively to the invitation, but no promises were made as to his availability.
    In February 1976, Lyman and his wife Nancy attended the Lincoln Day Dinner at the Mila Club in St. Joseph, Missouri, where Governor Bond was in attendance. President Edwards was assisted by the local Episcopal priest, who was interested in helping arrange Bond's attendance at the RLDS conference. Nancy was most winsome and persuasive; and Governor Bond responded that he was really quite intrigued by the project and that he would continue to follow up with his staff.
    The Missouri State Patrol contacted RLDS Church leaders regarding security arrangements at the stake conference in case Governor Bond could appear but cautioned that his reelection campaign might take priority. Just one month before the conference, the Governor's Office asked for additional details and for information about who should be invited, in case the gesture materialized. The RLDS First Presidency's Office was contacted, along with LDS Church leaders in Salt Lake City.
    Governor Bond arrived at the conference and addressed the gathering. He then presented an official Governor's Executive Order that technically rescinded the "extermination order" and that presented apologies to the Saints and other people of Missouri for the unfortunate developments of that earlier day. Lyman Edwards recalled: The order was tasteful and even passionate in its seriousness, even as we were aware that the current setting was somewhat focused on a patriotic celebration.


Lyman F. Edwards, RLDS Far West Stake President, W. Wallace Smith, RLDS President, Christopher S. Bond, Governor of Missouri, Gerald WInship, Jackson County Board of Elections, image, D3260.1, provided courtesy of Community of Christ Archives, Independence, Missouri

    After reading the Executive Order, the Governor presented it to [RLDS Church] President W. Wallace Smith on behalf of the Saints of the Restoration Movement. Governor Bond stayed for the conference and mingled with the Saints after the meeting before departing with our appreciation. [Statement by Lyman Edwards, 14, March 1991, as cited in Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and T. Jeffery Cottle, Old Mormon Kirtland and Missouri (Santa Anna, CA: Fieldbrook Productions, Inc., 1991), 306].

Governor Bond's order reads as follows:

    WHEREAS, on October 27, 1838, the Governor of the State of Missouri, Lilburn W. Boggs, signed an order calling for the extermination or expulsion of Mormons from the State of Missouri; and
    WHEREAS, Governor Boggs' 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; and
    WHEREAS, in this bicentennial year as we reflect on our nation's heritage, the exercise of religious freedom is without question one of the basic tenets of our free democratic republic;
    Now, THEREFORE, I, CHRISTOPHER S. BOND, Governor of the State of Missouri, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the State of Missouri, do hereby order as follows: Expressing on behalf of all Missourians our deep regret for the injustice and undue suffering which was caused by the 1838 order, I hereby rescind Executive Order Number 44, dated October 27, 1838, issued by Governor W. Boggs.
    In witness I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the great seal of the State of Missouri, in the city of Jefferson, on this 25 day of June, 1976.
    (Signed) Christopher S. Bond, Governor.
[Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and T. Jeffery Cottle, Old Mormon Kirtland and Missouri (Santa Anna, CA: Fieldbrook Productions, Inc., 1991), 283-285, 306].

On 6 April 2001, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints officially became known as the Community of Christ.

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