Danites. A title attributed to Sampson Avard, a Mormon, who described the Danites as a band of armed men formed into companies of tens and fifties who were bound by secret oaths never to discuss their activities which they carried out against those unfriendly to the Mormon cause. Mormon historians and leaders have since tried to distance themselves from this objectionable organization, which was also known as the Destroying Angels. In October 1838, Joseph Smith claimed that this illegal group had nothing to do with a Church-ordained Council of Fifty, which was set up as a defense mechanism against mob attack (Documentary History of the Church 3:178-182). Joseph Smith later denied that the Danites ever existed (Documentary History of the Church 6:165).
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