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mormons, society and church

DANITES, dinits, a former secret society of the Mormon Church, for militant action against its enemies. It was organized by Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, 30 March 1836, by a °covenant* to avenge any further expulsion of the Missouri Mormons by mobs; on the basis of a "revelation* of 6 Aug. 1833, justifying any Mormon in ((rewarding thine enemy according to his works." The first name chosen was Daughters of Zion, from Micah iv, 13; this not seeming graphic, it was changed to Destroying Angels, or Flying Angels, the former used for many years; then the Big Fan (Jer. xv, 7 or Luke iii, 17) ; then Brothers of Gideon; finally Sons of Dan, turned by outsiders into Danites, from Gen. xlix, 17. A constitution was adopted, giving the executive power to the president of the Church and his counselors, and the legisla tive power to the same, with the generals and colonels of the society; this legislature to have power to ((administer punishments to the guilty in accordance with the offense.° The oath taken by the members was to obey the Prophet and First Presidency gin all things, the same as the supreme God"; to °stand by my brethren,* and guphold the presidency, right or wrong*; and invoking terrible punishments for revealing the secrets of .the society. The Mormons have usu

ally denied that the society existed, or if so that it was countenanced by the Church; and Smith's Nauvoo council denied its existence there. Brigham Young, however, boasted of its existence in Salt Lake City. Its actions, from the nature of the case, can only be inferred. It is usually credited with all the deeds of blood charged against the Mormons, including the Mountain Meadows massacre (q.v.). The name was attached by the Douglas Democrats to the administration (Buchanan) Democrats in the Lincoln-Douglas senatorial Illinois campaign of 1858, as an insinuation that they were Buchan an's tools in upholding the Utah Rebellion. Consult Ferris, (Utah and the Mormons) (New York 1854).