Interim Content



The common name for the “Daughter of Zion,” an oath-bound military society organized among the Latter-day Saints in Missouri in summer 1838 to defend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from internal and external opposition. The official name was apparently derived from a passage in the book of Micah: “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.” The more common nickname “Danites” was derived from the Israelite tribe of Dan. The society was modeled after the Israelite armies of the Old Testament, with companies of tens and fifties, but it also had officers like those found in state militia organizations. The society’s constitution vested executive authority in JS and his counselors in the First Presidency. JS attended at least one of the society’s meetings and reportedly expressed approval of its aims, but the precise nature of his involvement with the organization is unclear. The Danites began in connection with the effort to intimidate dissenters into leaving Far West, Missouri. According to its constitution, the society sought to protect the God-given rights of the Latter-day Saints and to resist oppression. It also promoted political candidates favored by the First Presidency and attempted to enforce consecration efforts. Later, in the “Mormon War” of autumn 1838, the term Danites was used interchangeably with armies of Israel to describe Latter-day Saint forces generally. The popular notion of the Danites as an enduring secret society of Latter-day Saint avengers far outlived the society’s brief existence in summer and autumn 1838.