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Danite Rites?

On the first Monday in August [1838] an election [at Gallatin] was held. It was the lawful right of the Mormons to vote, but the Missourians swore the Mormons should not vote, saying they had no more right to vote than a "nigger." This was trying to free born American citizens.

The ballot box was guarded but the brethren thought to claim our rights and maintain them, so they voted, walked up and offered their votes; a fight ensued and six or seven brethren cleared out all those who opposed them. Thus was the starting of the shedding of blood in the Mormon war of 1838.

About this time I was invited to unite with a society called the Danite society. It was gotten up for our personal defense, also for the protection of our families, property and religion. Signs and passwords were given by which members could know the other wherever they met, night or day. All members must mend difficulties if he had any with a member of the society, before he could be received.

This is the earliest dated reference I have seen to signs and passwords being in use in Mormonism, and predates the first Nauvoo Endowments by four years. This account comes from a Journal by my wife's Great Great Great Great Grandfather, Lumon Andros Shurtliff.

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