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The Mormon MenaceViolence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South$
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Patrick Mason

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199740024

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199740024.001.0001

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Rumors, Religious Competition, and Community Violence

Rumors, Religious Competition, and Community Violence

The Cane Creek Massacre

(p.35) 3 Rumors, Religious Competition, and Community Violence
The Mormon Menace

Patrick Q. Mason (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Mormonism seemed to be exploding in rural northwestern Tennessee in the mid-1880s, thanks largely to the efforts of Elder John Gibbs. This engendered considerable resentment among many local residents. Some Protestant ministers, responding to rumors about the missionaries and the increased religious competition they represented, condemned the Mormons, and a few preachers explicitly encouraged mob violence to drive the missionaries out of the area. This low-level conflict climaxed on Sunday, August 10, 1884, when a group of approximately a dozen masked men attacked an LDS worship service, resulting in the deaths of four Mormons, including Gibbs, as well as the mob leader. Following what came to be known as the Cane Creek (or Tennessee) Massacre, the county effectively degenerated into mob law, as vigilantes forced LDS converts and friends to vacate their homes and farms. The state legislature also passed strict anti-polygamy legislation.

Keywords:   Gibbs, religious competition, mob, vigilantes, Cane Creek Massacre, legislation

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