“A Disturbance at the Mormonite Chapel”: 19th Century British Hooliganism and the Latter-day Saints

It will be news to exactly none of you that 19th century Mormon missionaries were not welcomed by many of the communities they entered. That dislike often varied according to the community: Nowhere else in the world were elders whipped and shot as they occasionally were in the United States. In the German states, elders were frequently banished, sometimes being imprisoned briefly before banishment. In the Scandinavian countries, elders were also banished, but my unverified impression is that those banishments were linked to imprisonment more frequently than in Germany.

In Great Britain elders were sometimes pelted by eggs and mud; halls rented as Mormon meeting places sometimes had their windows broken. But Great Britain’s special claim to missionary harassment took the form of hooliganism. Sure, rowdies in America did often throw stones at buildings where elders were preaching, and even shot through the walls on occasion – but the English raised hooliganism to a fine art, unrivaled elsewhere.

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