Mormon Reformation

In response to an increasing fear of outsider influence in the territory, Brigham Young and other apostles began preaching a series of focused and inciting sermons in 1854-56 that inspired many to be re-baptized as an act of penance. These sermons provoked the Latter-day Saints towards more exacting obedience to the Word of Wisdom, payment of tithes, and promoted the acceptance of plural marriage as the pathway to eternal exaltation. Additionally, Young began preaching a form of capital called “blood atonement,” which stipulated that grave sins such as adultery, murder, and apostasy were beyond the saving power of Christ, thus requiring the perpetrator to offer themselves as a sacrifice by means of decapitation or firing squad. While no documented orders have been found from Young calling for blood atonement to be carried out, a number of Mormons took it upon themselves to commit violent acts of frontier justice in its name.