Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Danites

Danites. The common name for the “Daughter of Zion,” an oath-bound military society organized among the Mormons in Missouri in summer 1838 to defend the LDS church from internal and external opposition. The official name was apparently derived from a passage in the book of Micah: “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.” The more common nickname “Danites” was derived from the Israelite tribe of Dan. The society was modeled after the Israelite armies of the Old Testament, with companies of tens and fifties, but it also had officers like those found in state militia organizations. The society’s constitution vested executive authority in Joseph Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency. Joseph Smith attended at least one of the society’s meetings and reportedly expressed approval of its aims, but the precise nature of his involvement with the organization is unclear. The Danites began in connection with the effort to intimidate dissenters into leaving Far West, Missouri. According to its constitution, the society sought to protect the God-given rights of the Latter-day Saints and to resist oppression. It also promoted political candidates favored by the First Presidency and attempted to enforce consecration efforts. Later, in the “Mormon War” of autumn 1838, the term Danites was used interchangeably with armies of Israel to describe Mormon forces generally. The popular notion of the Danites as an enduring secret society of Mormon avengers far outlived the society’s brief existence in summer and autumn 1838.
The above description is from The Joseph Smith Papers (http://josephsmithpapers.org/) the LDS Church’s website.
I’ve only done a casual research on the Danites. I know that lots of anti-Mormon people use the Danites as a source to discredit Joseph Smith. They’ll try anything.
I like the thought of the Danites as the “CIA” of the Church. I tend to agree with many who said it was originally a group to defend the Saints during Missouri madness. It was only organized for about 6 months until it was used by guy named Sampson Avard to do his evil deeds. He sold out the Church and Joseph Smith to save himself so naturally he’s quoted and used as a source.
Contrast Avard with Orrin Porter Rockwell. Rockwell was loyal to the Church and especially to Joseph, until his death. I’m surprised Porter didn’t take out Avard as revenge. I’m not sure of the timing, maybe Porter was in prison at that time.
Porter Rockwell was a Danite but remained loyal. I’m not sure about some of the others. Like I said, I have not really researched it.

The St Louis Era newspaper in 1843 reported that OP Rockwell, arrested under an assumed name, for the attempted murder of Governor Boggs.
Even Porter understood being as stealth as possible and traveled using alias’s.
This is the Society’s Constitution
Whereas, in all bodies laws are necessary for the permanency, safety and well-being of society, we, the members of the society of the Daughter of Zion, do agree to regulate ourselves under such laws as, in righteousness shall be deemed necessary for the preservation of our holy religion, and of our most sacred rights, and the rights of our wives and children. But, to be explicit on the subject, it is especially our object to support and defend the rights conferred on us by our venerable sires, who purchased them with the pledges of their lives and fortunes, and their sacred honors. And now, to prove ourselves worthy of the liberty conferred on us by them, in the providence of God, we do agree to be governed by such laws as shall perpetuate these high privileges, of which we know ourselves to be the rightful possessors, and of which privileges wicked and designing men have tried to deprive us, by all manner of evil, and that purely in consequence of the tenacity we have manifested in the discharge of our duty towards our God, who had given us [those] rights and privileges, and a right in common with others, to dwell on this land. But we, not having the privileges of others allowed unto us, have determined like unto our fathers, to resist tyranny, whether it be in kings or in the people. It is all alike unto us. Our rights we must have, and our rights we shall have, in the name of Israel’s God.
“ART. 1st. All power belongs originally and legitimately to the people, and they have a right to dispose of it as they shall deem fit. But as it is inconvenient and impossible to convince the people in all cases, the legislative powers have been given by them from time to time, into the hands of a representation composed of delegates from the people themselves. This is and has been the law in both civil and religious bodies, and is the true principle.
“ART. 2d. The executive power shall be vested in the president of the whole church and his counsellors.
“ART. 3d. The legislative powers shall reside in the president and his counsellors, together with the generals and colonels of the society. By them all laws shall be made regulating the society.
“ART. 4th. All offices shall be during the life and good behaviour, or to be regulated by the law of God.
“ART. 5th. The society reserves the power of electing all its officers with the exception of the aides and clerks which the officers may need in the various stations. The nomination to go from the presidency to his second, and from the second to the third in rank, and so down through all the various grades, branch or department retains the power of electing its own particular officers.
“ART.6th. Punishment shall be administered to the guilty in accordance to the offense, and no member shall be punished without law, or by any others than those appointed by law for that purpose. The Legislature shall have power to make laws regulating punishments as in their judgment shall be wisdom and righteousness.
“ART. 7th. There shall be a secretary whose business it shall be to keep all the legislative records of the society, and also to keep a register of the names of the members of the society, also the rank of the officers. He shall also communicate the laws to the generals, as directed by laws made for the regulation of such business by the Legislature.
“ART. 8th. All officers shall be subject to the commands of the Captain General given through the Secretary of War. And so all officers shall be subject to their superiors in rank, according to laws made for that purpose.
There are parts of this Constitution that sound like Alma 46:12
“…In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children…”
I am certain the Church does not have a group of Danites anymore. I don’t think they existed for very long in the first place.
Moroni did not like the way he saw some leading away church members. So he decided to remind the people. I think we as church members need to be reminded once in a while. Perhaps this saying applies
“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”
Richard Grenier
Perhaps it’s time we, as the more “rough men” in the church, should reorganize the Danites.
Joseph Smith Jr., in his letter to Emma Smith, his wife, dated June 27, 1844, the day of his death, wrote, “There is one principle which is eternal; it is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of the household, whenever necessity requires, and no power has a right to forbid it, should the last extreme arrive, but I anticipate no such extreme, but caution is the parent of safety”.
Caution IS the parent of safety.

Semper Paratus
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