The Mormon Hawaiian Mission And The Smallpox Epidemic Of 1853

In 1851–1852 Utah Mormon missionaries converted hundreds of native Hawaiians on Maui, and during the spring of 1853 hundreds more on Oahu. In 1853 the smallpox virus reached Honolulu and spread among natives who had no natural immunity to it. The Utah elders interfered with efforts of authorities to deal with the disease claiming it was part of the “scourges” accompanying the imminent Second Coming, and promising that their healing powers (priesthood “administrations”) would protect the native saints. Constantly violating the quarantine, the Utah and native Mormon elders likely spread the disease to other Oahu villages, causing many deaths.

John J. Hammond