|Mayor of Tucson, Arizona|
January 22, 1802|
Warren County, New York
|Died||September 21, 1873
|Resting place||Tucson, Arizona|
Mark Aldrich (January 22, 1802 – September 21, 1873) was a founder of Warsaw, Illinois, an Illinois state senator for the Whig Party, the first American mayor of Tucson, Arizona, and one of five defendants tried and acquitted of the murder of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement.
Founding of Warsaw and political leadership
Aldrich was born in New York and moved to Hancock County, Illinois, in 1832, where he was one of the early developers of what would later become Warsaw. Aldrich was the first postmaster of Warsaw between 1834 and 1838. In 1836 and 1838 he was elected to the Illinois Senate as the representative for Hancock County.
Early involvement with the Latter Day Saints
In the late 1830s, Latter Day Saints began settling in Hancock County. According to Latter Day Saint leader Joseph Smith, Aldrich spent two years trying to convince Smith and the Latter Day Saints to purchase a section of land south of Warsaw that Aldrich owned. In 1841, Smith finally relented and some of the Latter Day Saints settled as Aldrich's tenants in what would be called Warren, Illinois. However, once the Latter Day Saints had settled there, Aldrich raised the rent and imposed a number of restrictions on the Latter Day Saints that had not been foreseen. As a result, Smith moved the Latter Day Saints settled in Warren to Nauvoo, where the majority of Latter Day Saints had settled.
Following his disagreements with Smith, Aldrich became an opponent of the Latter Day Saint presence in Hancock County. As a major in command of the Warsaw Independent Battalion of the Illinois State Militia, Aldrich was accused of having directed men under his command to storm Carthage Jail where Smith was being held in June 1844. Smith and his brother Hyrum were shot dead by a mob that attacked the jail on June 27. On October 26, 1844, Aldrich was indicted for the murder of the two Smiths. At trial, Aldrich and four other defendants were found not guilty of the crime by a jury.
Aldrich ran in the election for sheriff of Hancock County in 1846, but lost. He went to California during the gold rush and settled in Tucson, Arizona, where he became the first American mayor of that city. In March 1861, he was chairman of the convention that declared Arizona's secession from the United States. Aldrich was later elected to three terms in the upper house of the Arizona Territorial Legislature; during the 1866 term, he was the body's president. He died in Tucson on September 21, 1873.
- Joseph Smith, B.H. Roberts (ed.). History of the Church 4:405, 471.
- Joseph Smith, B.H. Roberts (ed.). History of the Church 4:486, 471–72.
- Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill (1975). Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press) p. 54.
- Thomas C. Sharp, Jacob C. Davis, William N. Grover and Levi Williams.
- The Forgotten Legacy: A Short History of the Confederate Territory of Arizona.
- "Local Matters". Arizona Citizen. September 27, 1873.
- Marvin S. Hill. "Carthage Conspiracy Reconsidered: A Second Look at the Murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith", Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Summer 2004.
- "Mark Aldrich", Joseph Smith Papers