More than 600 men and women were called to be electioneer missionaries on behalf of Joseph Smith’s campaign for president. It was the largest missionary force for more than 50 years. In our next conversation with Dr. Derek Sainsbury, we’ll talk about some of these missionaries.
Derek: There’s this call to all available Elders to try and make General Conference in April because they’re going to have a meeting. So in General Conference in April–it’s a four day conference, the last conference is just a meeting of the Elders. It’s run by Brigham Young and the Twelve Apostles. They say, “We’re going to send out electioneer missionaries, and you will preach and politic. We’re going to set up these conferences in all of these different states and the Twelve will come and meet you in these conferences, until we have a convention in July, in Baltimore.” This is where the Whigs and the Democrats were also having their convention.
GT: Both parties were having it in the same city? Wow.
Derek: Yes so that his would have been the third convention in Baltimore, obviously, not anywhere near as big. But that was the thinking that was going into it. They call for volunteers and 277 of them volunteer that day. By the time they print their names and assignments in the newspaper, a week later, there are over 300. In my research over the past 15 years, I have the number up now to 621. So this is a huge missionary effort, which is one of the reasons we know that it was a serious effort.
GT: I know you mentioned in your book that it was the largest proportion of missionaries that the church has ever had.
Derek: Ever! Until today.
GT: Let’s say, how many people do we have in our church now?
Derek: Over sixteen million.
GT : Sixteen million. So 600 missionaries back then, proportionately, what would be the same number for us today?
Derek: Oh, so, we’re looking at, jeez, can I use my calculator? You’re looking at in the hundreds of thousands of missionaries,
GT: Hundreds of thousands. I know we’ve got the Coronavirus, but we were we were having 60,000.
Derek: You’re looking at a lot more than that. You’re looking at hundreds of thousands.
Were you aware how large the missionary force was for Joseph? I also asked Derek which modern politicians compared most to Joseph Smith, such as Pat Robertson, Jesse Jackson, or others. Who do you think is most similar?
Joseph Smith and Bobby Kennedy were both killed while running for president of the United States. Dr. Derek Sainsbury tells us more about these two men, and I was surprised to hear about their surprising similarity.
GT: I mean, I think the closest modern day equivalent is probably Bobby Kennedy.
Derek: Yeah. In fact, that’s the next book I’m already writing is a comparison between those two.
GT: Oh really? Oh, wow. That’ll be interesting.
Derek: Because he’s the only other candidate in the history of the United States–
GT: [George] Wallace got shot I guess.
Derek: Shot but not killed. Yeah.
GT: Oh, really? So those are the only two people that have been killed is Joseph Smith and Bobby Kennedy?
We also talk about the convention for Smith held in Baltimore in July 1844. Because news traveled slowly, those planning the convention found out Joseph died just the day before the convention and were crushed at the news. Were you aware of this similarity between Kennedy & Smith? What are your thoughts of Joseph’s run for President? What are your thoughts concerning their murders?