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Contingent CitizensShifting Perceptions of Latter-day Saints in American Political Culture$
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Spencer W. McBride, Brent M. Rogers, and Keith A. Erekson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501716737

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501716737.001.0001

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“Some Little Necromancy”

“Some Little Necromancy”

Politics, Religion, and the Mormons, 1829–1838

(p.17) Chapter 1 “Some Little Necromancy”
Contingent Citizens
Adam Jortner
Cornell University Press

This chapter looks into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that was labeled “Salem Witchcraftism,” “hocus pocus,” and “superstition” in its first decade. It analyzes the political dissent against Mormonism, which shared an antipathy with anti-Shakerism that purported superstition and magic. It also mentions Ann Lee, the Shaker founder, who was referred to as a “fortune teller” and Joseph Smith Jr. who was branded as “very expert in the arts of necromancy.” The chapter explores the propensity of critics to accuse Mormons of superstition and magical practice and associate that accusation with an enmity toward republicanism. It talks about the so-called alternative religions of the early republic routinely faced charges of being both superstitious and dangerous to democracy.

Keywords:   Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salem Witchcrafism, hocus pocus, superstition, anti-Shakerism, necromancy, republicanism

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