Strangite Kingdom (Vandverse)

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Strangite Kingdom

Capital St. James
Largest city Little Currents
Official languages English, French
Demonym(s) Strangite
Government Theocratic Monarchy
• King
James I
Establishment
• Established
8 July 1850
Date format dd-mm-yyyy
Driving side right

The Strangite Kingdom is a theocratic monarchy located in the Great Lakes region, based on the principles of the Latter Day Saints Movement and the teachings of James Strang. The nation was founded after the death of Joseph Smith, the original leader of the Mormon faith, when James Strang arose as one of his key successors. Strang would lead his contingent of followers to Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, where they eventually developed an independent nation.

History[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

Strangites share the same history with other Latter Day Saint denominations up until the assassination of Joseph Smith. During the resulting succession crisis, several early Mormon leaders asserted claims to succeed Smith, including Sidney Rigdon, Brigham Young and James Strang. Rigdon's claim rested on his status as the senior surviving member of Smith's First Presidency, the church's highest leadership quorum. Rejected by the main church body in Nauvoo, Illinois, Rigdon and his followers moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where his organization faltered. A descendant of the Rigdonite church lives on today as The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite), which is not recognized as legitimate by Strangites.

Brigham Young initially argued that Smith could have no immediate successor, but rather that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (of which he was president) should be sustained as the presiding body of the church. Young and his followers migrated west to the Salt Lake Valley, in what became Utah Territory, continuing to use Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as their name until incorporating in 1851, when the spelling was standardized as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". This organization has become the largest Latter Day Saint body in the world today. Both the Utah LDS Church and the Strangite church posit themselves as the sole legal continuation of Smith's organization; neither considers the other to be legitimate, nor do they recognize the validity of any of the numerous other Latter Day Saint sects.

Although he was a relatively recent convert at the time of Smith's death, James Strang posed a formidable—and initially quite successful—challenge to the claims of Young and Rigdon. Strang was a Mormon elder charged with establishing a stake or "place of refuge" in Wisconsin, should the Mormons be forced to abandon their headquarters in Nauvoo. He possessed a document that came to be known as the "letter of appointment", alleged to have been written by Smith prior to his death. The wording of the letter was ambiguous; some insist that it only appointed Strang to be president of the new Voree Stake of the church, while Strang and his followers interpreted it as a call to follow Smith as President of the Church. Strang also claimed that at the moment of Smith's death, he was visited by angels who ordained him to be Smith's successor, though he claimed no other witnesses to the event.

Strang's assertion appealed to many Latter Day Saints who were attracted to Mormonism's doctrine of continuing revelation through a living prophet. In the face of protracted Mormon anguish at Smith's death, Strang insisted that there still was, indeed, a Mormon seer who communed with God and conversed with angels. Strang's claim was bolstered by his discovery of the Voree plates, purporting to contain the last testament of an ancient Native American, one "Rajah Manchou of Vorito". These plates were found in the Hill of Promise, which would become the temple site in the new Strangite town of Voree. This event was reminiscent of Smith's translations of the golden plates (the Book of Mormon) and the Book of Abraham, and may have encouraged some Latter Day Saints to accept Strang over any of his competitors, who had not produced any such "records".

Many prominent Latter Day Saints believed in Strang's "letter of appointment" and accepted him as Mormonism's second "Prophet, Seer, Revelator and Translator"—at least in the short term. These included the church's Presiding Patriarch and apostle William Smith (Smith's only surviving brother); Book of Mormon witness Martin Harris (who left and later rejoined the LDS Church in Utah); Nauvoo Stake President William Marks; second Bishop of the Church and church trustee-in-trust George Miller; apostle John E. Page; former apostle William E. McLellin; Smith's mother Lucy Mack Smith; and other members of the Smith family. Another adherent was John C. Bennett, former mayor of Nauvoo and a former member of the First Presidency. Bennett had been in Smith's innermost circle but had broken with the founding prophet and had written an anti-Mormon exposé. Bennett founded a secretive Strangite fraternal society known as the "Order of Illuminati".

Strang found his greatest support among the scattered outlying branches of Mormonism, which he frequently toured. His followers may have numbered as many as 12,000, at a time when Young's group had just over 50,000. After Strang won a debate at a conference in Norway, Illinois, he converted the entire branch. While in Voree, the Strangites published a periodical known as the Voree Herald. Strang's church also fielded a mission to England, one of the primary sources of converts to Mormonism. This mission was led by Martin Harris, the financier of the Book of Mormon and one of its Three Witnesses. Harris proved a poor spokesman, however, and the English missions sided with the LDS Church led by Young.

Establishment[edit | edit source]

Strang would lead his contingent from Voree to a new land in Lake Michigan, known as Beaver Island. Here his disciples founded a town known as St. James, and in 1850, openly established an ecclesiastical monarchy with Strang as the spiritual "king" of his church. The date of his coronation, 8 July, is still mandated as one of the two most important days in the Strangite church calendar (the other is April 6, the anniversary of the founding of Smith's church).

Contrary to popular belief, Strang never claimed to be king over Beaver Island, or any other geographical entity. Rather, he asserted that he was king over his church, which he saw as the one, true "Kingdom of God" prophesied in scripture and destined to spread over all the earth. The constitution of this kingdom was contained within the Book of the Law of the Lord, which Strang claimed to have translated from the Plates of Laban mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Originally published in 1851, this new book of Strangite scripture would be republished in a greatly expanded edition in 1856. The book is still revered by Strangites today, remaining a vital part of their canon of scripture.

In addition to printing religious materials, the Strangite printing press on Beaver Island became the source of a new periodical, the Northern Islander, which was the first real newspaper in all of northern Michigan. As St. James became an entrepôt for Great Lakes shipping, the Strangites began to compete with more established commercial lake ports such as Mackinac Island. Tensions grew between Mormons on Beaver Island and their non-Mormon neighbors, which frequently exploded into violence. Accusations of thuggery and thievery were leveled by both parties against each other, compounded by ever-increasing dissension among some of Strang's own disciples, who chafed at what they saw as his increasingly tyrannical rule.

In 1854, Strang published Ancient and modern Michilimackinac, including an account of the controversy between Mackinac and the Mormons. Dale Morgan, a historian of the Latter Day Saint movement, writes: "Strang surveys the geography and history of Mackinac and the surrounding region, particularly the islands of Lake Michigan, and after giving an account of the Mormon settlement upon Big Beaver Island, addresses himself to the bitter controversies between the people of Mackinac and the Mormons. Although dealing with controverted matters and colored by Strang's indignation at the outrages he and his people had to endure, the pamphlet is a responsible source on the events of which it treats, and is also interesting for the considerable measure of learning it reveals in Strang".

Beaver Island War[edit | edit source]

In 1856, after a failed assassination attempt against King Strang, all out war broke out between the Strangites and the non-Mormon settlers of the Great Lakes. After the brief Battle of St. James, Strangite forces under seasoned commander John C. Bennett managed to defeat the last vestiges of non-Mormons on the island itself. A raid would also be undertaken against Mackinac Island, utilizing timber pirate vessels that had found haven at Beaver Island, but the attack did not initially result in complete takeover of the island as hoped by Strang.

The Strangites would launch another daring raid at the end of the year against the island of Mackinac, this time contracting a few hundred French settlers to their cause. The French of northern Michigan were eager to harass British settlers moving south from Ontario, and Strang encouraged immigration from French settlers during this time to help bolster his colony's population. In 1857 Strang signed a treaty with the inhabitants of the region, which granted him direct control over Beaver Island, Manitou Island, Mackinac Island, and the land around the Straits of Mackinac. Additionally he demanded that all Strangite converts would not be harmed, and Strangite proselytization could not be halted. Over the next several years this arrangement would come under fire from numerous other parties, as new waves of settlers arrived in northern Michigan.

Also in 1857, Strang supported the creation of Mackinaw City on the southern end of the Straits of Mackinaw. Initially founded by non-Strangites, Strang heavily influenced its creation by supplying the settlement with people and supplies, and ensuring that its population was majority Strangite. Across the Straits the old French fortification at St. Ignace was also seized by Strang around the same time.

House of Strang[edit | edit source]

  • James I Strang (1813-1860)
    • Myraette Strang (1836-) --Wingfield W. Watson (1826-1922) - Second Viceroy
      • James Watson (1855-)
      • Mary Watson (1856-) -- John Harris (1830-1892) - Grand Master of the Seventies (1872-1892)
        • Martin Harris (1874)
        • David Harris (1875)
        • Lucy Harris (1877)
        • Myraette Harris (1880)
      • Jane Watson (1857-)
      • Joseph Watson (1858-)
    • Mary Strang (1837-) --Lorenzo Dow Hickey (1817-1897) - First Viceroy
    • William Strang (1840-1856)
    • Hattie Strang (1842-) --John E. Page (1828-1870) - Grand Master of the Seventies
    • Charles I Strang (1845-)
      • James Strang (1861) --Princess Amélie of Louisiana (1865 - 1951)
        • James Strang (1885)
        • Henry Strang (1887)
        • Theresa Strang (1890)
      • --Others
        • Alexander Strang (1878-)
        • Julia Strang (1879-) --Edmond Lapierre (1866-1960) - Member of Parliament for Nipissing (1921–1930), Member of Parliament for Sudbury (1934–1937)
        • Mary Strang (1880-)
        • Joseph Strang (1880-)
        • Evangeline Strang (1882-)
        • Clement Strang (1883-1890)
        • Eugenia Strang (1884-)
        • Anna Strang (1885-)
        • Bertha Strang (1885-)
        • Emmeline Strang (1885-)
        • Frederick Strang (1886-)
      • Mary Strang (1862-) -- Charles de Charette (1860-) - Count of Vincennes
      • John Strang (1862-)
      • Catherine Strang (1863-) --William Donald Ross (1869-1947) - Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (1927-1931)
      • Clement Strang (1863-)
    • Eva Strang (1849-) --John C. Bennett (1804-1867) - Grand Master of the Illuminati, Secretary of War, Duke of Manitou
    • Clement Strang (1849-) - Duke of Mackinac (1869)
      • James Strang (1867)
      • Elizabeth Strang (1868)
      • Clement Strang (1868) - Illinois Representative (1905-1928)
      • Joseph Strang (1870) - Mayor of Milwaukee (1898-1906)
      • Soloman Strang (1872)
      • Aaron Strang (1872)
      • Theresa Strang (1873)
    • James Jesse Strang (1852-1872) - Grand Master of the Seventies (1870-1872), Apostle (1869)
    • Evangeline Strang (1853-)
    • David Strang (1853-) - Bishop of Voree (1869), Illinois Senator (1887-1891)
    • Gabriel Strang (1854-) - Duke of Manitoulin (1872)
    • James Strang (1854-) - Apostle (1886)
    • Eugenia Strang (1855-) --Gabriel Chouteau (1794–1887) - President of Illinois (1860-1864)
      • Auguste Chouteau (1867-)