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“Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon.”

This is the story of our last major pioneer migration out west; it’s also the story of America’s largest homegrown faith: Mormonism.

Growing up in the “burned-over district” of America’s Second Great Awakening, it’s not too surprising that upstate-New-York farmer Joseph Smith has his mind on God. But with a new book of scripture (The Book of Mormon), a restorationist gospel, the power of the Mormon vote, and polygamy, members of the church founded by Joseph--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or “Mormons”--find themselves at odds with their fellow nineteenth-century Americans in several different states. In these peak years of American vigilantism, this means vandalism. Violence. Murder. And massacre at a Missouri mill.

Mormons become religious refugees as they head west by the thousands along the newly dubbed “Mormon Trail.” But all is not well far away in the west. The US army is coming. War hysteria now peaks as an unsuspecting California-bound wagon train makes its way through southern Utah.

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