The Mormon prophet Joseph Smith ran for President in 1844. He did so with the goal of bringing more power to the federal government and to unite the nation in its liberties. In those days, mobs had been free to persecute the Mormons. It was up to the individual states to make their own freedom guarantees, and so far none had come to the aid of the Mormons. The federal government had not even been able to mandate Rights for all people in all states. The Bill of Rights that was ratified in 1791, did not actually apply everywhere. Even the first amendment, that guaranteed religious freedom, and the second amendment, that gave people the right to bear arms, was not being respected. Joseph had experienced first hand the lawlessness that existed in the United States. He had sought redress for the suffering Saints, and was told that the federal government had no power to intervene.
Tragically, the prophet Joseph Smith was assassinated in 1844 before he could carry out his full campaign for president. His political platform outlined how he would empower the US president to send an army to suppress mobs violating the rights of US citizens. He also stated that he would eliminate slavery and “pay every man a reasonable price for his slaves out of the surplus revenue arising from the sale of public lands, and from the deduction of pay from members of Congress.” Before running for president, he had spent several months in Washington D.C. meeting with the President Van Buren, senitors and congressmen and also writing all the main men running in the upcoming presidential election. He received no commitments or interest from anyone on his views. Joseph stated the following.
“[I would not have run for president] if I and my friends could have had the privilege of enjoying our religious and civil rights as American citizens, even those rights which the Constitution guarantees unto all her citizens alike. But this as a people we have been denied from the beginning. Persecution has rolled upon our heads from time to time, from portions of the United States, like peals of thunder, because of our religion; and no portion of the Government as yet has stepped forward for our relief. And in view of these things, I feel it to be my right and privilege to obtain what influence and power I can, lawfully, in the United States, for the protection of injured innocence.” – Joseph Smith
With the prophet Joseph dead, and no one else on the horizon to pursue changing the nation as a whole, there was no other course for the country other than to face a terrible civil war. What then was the result of that war? Was it simply to end slavery? That was big part of it. But in addition, it created a stronger federal government that could now guarantee the rights of its citizens. No longer would it be possible for states to completely disregard the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Temples could then dot the land, and people were free to worship. Joseph tried to lead the nation on an easier path, but that was not to be, and the country had to go through some trying times in order to repent and become one again.