A barrage of bullets cut short Smith's campaign in 1844. He was the first presidential candidate to be assassinated, according to historian Newell G. Bringhurst.
Some of the obstacles Smith faced, however, live on.
In a July Gallup Poll, 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, a figure that has hardly budged since 1967. Earlier this month, a prominent pastor who backs Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president called Mormonism a “cult.'' Romney shrugged off the insult, saying he has heard worse.
Joseph Smith heard worse, too. A study of his short-lived campaign demonstrates that anti-Mormon sentiment is rooted deep in American history.
(See also related BBC News, Christian Post, and Atlantic stories.)