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James Jesse Strang

Strang, James Jesse (străng) [key], 1813–56, American Mormon leader, b. Cayuga co., N.Y. A lawyer and teacher, he migrated in 1843 to Wisconsin, was converted to Mormonism, and at the death of Joseph Smith (1844) claimed the succession, saying that he had had a vision in which God had proclaimed him prophet. Excommunicated, Strang organized a colony in Walworth co., Wis., calling it Voree. Many Mormons unwilling to accept the leadership of Brigham Young were attracted to Strang's colony. Aware of the difficulty of founding his ideal community in a Gentile neighborhood, he sought a more suitable site. In 1847 he selected Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, then sparsely peopled by trappers and fishermen. There he established a colony, driving out other settlers and setting up a despotic rule. The inhabitants of the mainland were violently opposed to the Strangite colony, and public opinion finally forced the federal government to bring numerous charges against Strang, but he successfully defended himself. His power increased; in 1850 he was crowned King James, and he was later elected to the Michigan house of representatives. His harsh rule had made him bitter enemies, however, and in 1856 he was assassinated. The colony was soon dispersed and the land and property seized by inhabitants of the mainland.

See his diary (ed. by M. M. Strang, 1961).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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