Assemblyman Lilburn W. Boggs (1796-1860)

Wednesday marks the 215th birthday of Lilburn W. Boggs, who was both a delegate to the first Constitutional Convention (he didn’t attend) and served as an Assemblyman in 1852. What makes Boggs stand out is what he did before joining the legislature.

Born in 1796, Boggs was first married at 21, and a Representative in the Missouri Legislature by age 30. He moved to Missouri’s upper house four years later, and became Lieutenant Governor two years after that.

In the election of 1836, Boggs was elected Governor of Missouri, and that’s where the trouble started. Two years into his term as Governor, tensions between Mormons and non-Mormons in the state escalated to the point of armed attacks between the communities. To resolve the “Mormon problem” in Missouri, Boggs issued an order that “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace.” Most Mormons fled the state to Illinois.

In May 1842, Boggs was shot four times by an unidentified attacker as he read a newspaper in his study. Two shots lodged in his skull, another in his neck, and a fourth entered his throat. After another term in the Missouri State Senate, Boggs moved to California, settling in the Sonoma area (the area he represented in the Assembly in 1852).

Boggs died in Sonoma in 1860.


  1. Kerry Wallace says

    This man was a blemish on the face of Missouri for many years. He actually issued and extermination order of people based on their religious views. Some say he was not par to all the facts others say the Mormons deserved it. Fact is, his order was unconstitutional and a moral travesty. Even the man accused of trying to kill him said he wished he had but it wasn’t him. This man was later released for lack of evidence. His order was paramount to the Hitler’s order to exterminate the Jews yet no one would complain if someone had shot Hitler, except, of course, the Nazis.

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