Early Mormon grudge against President Van Buren lasted a long time

Mormons believe that the higher level of salvation, or exaltation, a person earns after their time on Earth determines the extent of their power and responsibilities throughout eternity. Temple ceremonies on earth are connected to the Mormon view of the hereafter. As can be expected, energetic Mormons have done temple work for just about all of the U.S. presidents and even founding fathers. For a long time, there was one key exception: the eighth U.S. president, Martin Van Buren.

Although it wasn’t true, I was told as a child by more than one adult LDS Church member that temple ceremonies had not been performed for President Van Buren as punishment for his deliberate betrayal to the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith and the early LDS church members. And indeed, Smith was very bitter when, on a visit to Washington D.C. in 1839, President Van Buren emphatically rejected the young church’s pleas to allow church members to settle peacefully in Missouri or at least be paid for their losses at the hands of that state’s anti-Mormon mobs. In early 1840, Smith met again with Van Buren, who uttered these LDS-iconic words: “…your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you.”

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