Joseph Smith was killed in 1846 by a mob in Alton, Illinois, near the Illinois-Missouri border. Unless I am mistaken, the foregoing statement is quite obviously false on two accounts (1846; Alton). Yet, I was quite surprised to find that the source of this mistake is a well-known historian of U.S. religious history.
In 1846, shortly before being killed by a mob in Alton, Illinois, Joseph Smith had stood for president of the United States.
This sentence is placed in a paragraph where Mark Noll outlines George Q. Cannon’s article, “Emancipation of the Slaves: The Prophet Joseph’s Plan–Results of Its Rejection” within his recent work, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2006). Because there is no other reference in the endnotes, I thought that perhaps George Q. Cannon made the mistakes and Noll had simply repeated them. Yet, in checking Cannon’s article, I found that he does not mention when nor where Smith was killed. So, I am unsure where Noll found this information, perhaps someone could enlighten me. I thought it was particularly strange given that 1846 was not an election year.
I do not think Noll’s mistake is unforgivable, and certainly much graver errors have been and are made in historical studies. Further, Noll’s work, as you know, is very good and insightful. So, I wonder how often similar mistakes are made with regard to Mormon history. What similar errors have readers of the JI come across? This also has led me to wonder about facts relating to events I am less informed about. I am interested to know how frequently these errors surface in historical works generally. To what can we attribute these errors, specifically with regard to Mormonism?
 Mark A. Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 80.
 George Q. Cannon, “Emancipation of the Slaves-The Prophet Joseph’s Plan-Results of Its Rejection,” Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star (London) 25, no. 7 (Feb. 14, 1863): 99-101.