Two grandmothers, with their two granddaughters; Two husbands, with their two wives; Two fathers, with their two daughters; Two mothers, with their two sons; Two maidens, with their two mothers; Two sisters, with their two brothers; Yet only si... Read more of Two grandmothers at Free Jokes.caInformational Site Network Informational
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    Mormonism.ca - Story Of

In Illinois

A State Of Civil War
After Smith's Death - Rigdon's Last Days
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Even More On The History Of Mormonism
Even More On The Religious Puzzle
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
History Of Mormonism
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Introductory Remarks
Last Days At Kirtland
More On Mormonism Social Puzzle
More On The History Of Mormonism
More On The Religious Puzzle
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Mormonism The Political Puzzle
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Notes On The History Of Mormonism
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Renewed Trouble For The Mormons - The Burnings
Rivalries Over The Succession
Sidney Rigdon
Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States
Smith's Falling Out With Bennett And Higbee
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Social Conditions In Nauvoo
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Building Up Of The City - Foreign Proselyting
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Evacuation Of Nauvoo - The Last Mormon War
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Expulsion Of The Mormons
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The Final Expulsion From The State
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Institution Of Polygamy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons In Politics - Missouri Requisitions For Smith
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Murder Of The Prophet - His Character
The Nauvoo City Government - Temple And Other Buildings
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Political Puzzle
The Political Puzzle Continued
The Reception Of The Mormons
The Reformation
The Religious Puzzle
The Religious Puzzle Notes
The Settlement Of Nauvoo
The Smith Family
The Social And Society Puzzle
The Social Puzzle
The Social Puzzle Notes
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Suppression Of The Expositor
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Uprising Of The Non-mormons Smith's Arrest
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts


The Story Of The Mormons

A State Of Civil War
After The War
Attitude Of The Mormons During The Southern Rebellion
Beginning Of Active Hostilities
Blood Atonement
Brigham Young's Death - His Character
Brigham Young's Despotism
Colonel Kane's Mission
Early Political History
Eastern Visitors To Salt Lake City - Unpunished Murderers
Facility Of Human Belief
First Announcement Of The Golden Bible
From The Mississippi To The Missouri
From The Rockies To Salt Lake Valley
Fruitless Negotiations With The Jackson County People
Gentile Irruption And Mormon Schism
Gifts Of Tongues And Miracles
Growth Of The Church
How Joseph Smith Became A Money-digger
In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties
Last Days At Kirtland
Mormon Treatment Of Federal Officers
Nauvoo After The Exodus
Organization Of The Church
Preparations For The Long March
Progress Of The Settlement
Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing
Sidney Rigdon
Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple
Smith's Ohio Business Enterprises
Social Aspects Of Polygamy
Some Church-inspired Murders
The Camps On The Missouri
The Different Accounts Of The Revelation Of The Bible
The Directions To The Saints About Their Zion
The Everlasting Gospel
The Expulsion From Jackson County The Army Of Zion
The Fight Against Polygamy - Statehood
The First Converts At Kirtland
The Following Companies - Last Days On The Missouri
The Foreign Immigration To Utah
The Founding Of Salt Lake City
The Hand-cart Tragedy
The Last Years Of Brigham Young
The Mormon Battalion
The Mormon Bible
The Mormon Purpose
The Mormon War
The Mormonism Of To-day
The Mormons' Beliefs And Doctrines Church Government
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Peace Commission
The Pioneer Trip Across The Plains
The Reformation
The Smith Family
The Spaulding Manuscript
The Territorial Government - Judge Brocchus's Experience
The Witnesses To The Plates
Translation And Publication Of The Bible
Wild Vagaries Of The Converts



Social Conditions In Nauvoo








Having followed Smith's political operations to their close, it
is now necessary to retrace our steps, and examine the social
conditions which prevailed in and around Nauvoo during the years
of his reign--conditions which had quite as much to do in causing
the expulsion of the Mormons from the state as did his political
mistakes.

It must be remembered that Nauvoo was a pioneer town, on the
borders of a thinly settled country. Its population and that of
its suburbs consisted of the refugees from Missouri, of whose
character we have had proof ; of the converts brought in from the
Eastern states and from Europe, not a very intelligent body; and
of those pioneer settlers, without sympathy with the Mormon
beliefs, who were attracted to the place from various motives.
While active work was continued by the missionaries throughout
the United States, their labors in this country seem to have been
more efficient in establishing local congregations than in
securing large additions to the population of Nauvoo, although
some "branches" moved bodily to the Mormon centre.*

* Lee's "Mormonism Unveiled;" p. 135.


Of the class of people reached by the early missionaries in
England we have this description, in a letter from Orson Hyde to
his wife, dated September 14,1837:-- "Those who have been
baptized are mostly manufacturers and some other mechanics. They
know how to do but little else than to spin and weave cloth, and
make cambric, mull and lace; and what they would do in Kirtland
or the city of Far West, I cannot say. They are extremely poor,
most of them not having a change of clothes decent to be baptized
in."*

* Elders' Journal, Vol. I, No. 2.


In a letter of instructions from Smith to the travelling elders
in Great Britain, dated October, 1840, he warned them that the
gathering of the Saints must be "attended to in the order that
the Lord intends it should"; and he explains that, as "great
numbers of the Saints in England are extremely poor, . . . to
prevent confusion and disappointment when they arrive here, let
those men who are accustomed to making machinery, and those who
can command a capital, though it be small, come here as soon as
convenient and put up machinery, and make such other preparations
as may be necessary, so that when the poor come on they may have
employment to come to."

The invitation to all converts having means was so urgent that it
took the form of a command. A letter to the Saints abroad, signed
by Joseph and Hyrum Smith, dated January 15, 1841, directed those
"blessed of heaven with the possession of this world's goods" to
sell out as soon as possible and move to Nauvoo, adding in
italics: "This is agreeable to the order of heaven, and the only
principal (sic) on which the gathering can be effected."*


* The following is a quotation from a letter written by an
American living near Nauvoo, dated October 20, 1842, printed in
the postscript to Caswall's "The City of the Mormons":--


"If an English Mormon arrives, the first effort of Joe is to get
his money. This in most cases is easily accomplished, under a
pledge that he can have it at any time on giving ten days'
notice. The man after some time calls for his money; he is
treated kindly, and told that it is not convenient to pay. He
calls a second time; the Prophet cannot pay, but offers a town
lot in Nauvoo for $1000 (which cost perhaps as many cents), or
land on the 'half-breed tract' at $10 or $15 per acre . . . .
Finally some of the irresponsible Bishops or Elders execute a
deed for land to which they have no valid title, and the poor
fellow dares not complain. This is the history of hundreds of
cases . . . . The history of every dupe reaches Nauvoo in
advance. When an Elder abroad wins one over to the faith, he
makes himself perfectly acquainted with all his family
arrangements, his standing in society, his ability, and (what is
of most importance) the amount of ready money and other property
which he will take to Nauvoo . . . . They make no converts in
Nauvoo, and it appears to me that they would never make another
if all could witness their conduct at Nauvoo for one month . . .
. In regard to this communication, I prefer, on account of my own
safety, that you should not make known the author publicly. You
cannot appreciate these fears [in England]. You have no idea what
it is to be surrounded by a community of Mormons, guided by a
leader the most unprincipled."
We have seen how hard-pressed Smith was for money with which to
meet his obligations for the payment of land purchased. It was
not necessary that a newcomer should be a Mormon in order to buy
a lot, special emphasis being laid on the freedom of religious
opinion in the city; but it was early made known that purchasers
were expected to buy their lots of the church, and not of private
speculators. The determination with which this rule was enforced,
as well as its unpopularity in some quarters, may be seen in the
following extract from Smith's autobiography, under date of
February 13, 1843: "I spent the evening at Elder O. Hyde's. In
the course of conversation I remarked that those brethren who
came here having money, and purchased without the church and
without counsel, must be cut off. This, with other observations,
aroused the feelings of Brother Dixon, from Salem, Mass., and he
appeared in great wrath."

The Nauvoo Neighbor of December 27, 1843, contained an
advertisement signed by the clerk of the church, calling the
attention of immigrants to the church lands, and saying, "Let all
the brethren, therefore, when they move into Nauvoo, consult
President Joseph Smith, the trustee in trust, and purchase their
land from him, and I am bold to say that God will bless them, and
they will hereafter be glad they did so."

A good many immigrants of more or less means took warning as soon
as they discovered the conditions prevailing there, and returned
home. A letter on this subject from the officers of the church
said:--

"We have seen so many who have been disappointed and discouraged
when they visited this place, that we would have imagined they
had never been instructed in the things pertaining to the Kingdom
of God, and thought that, instead of coming into a society of men
and women, subject to all the frailties of mortality, they were
about to enjoy the society of the spirits of just men made
perfect, the holy angels, and that this place should be as pure
as the third heaven. But when they found that this people were
but flesh and blood . . . they have been desirous to choose them
a captain to lead them back."

The additions to the Mormon population from the settlers whom
they found in the outlying country in Illinois and Iowa were not
likely to be of a desirable class. The banks of the Mississippi
River had long been hiding-places for pirate bands, whose
exploits were notorious, and the "half-breed tract" was a known
place of refuge for the horse thief, the counterfeiter, and the
desperado of any calling. The settlement of the Mormons in such a
region, with an invitation to the world at large to join them and
be saved, was a piece of good luck for this lawless class, who
found a covering cloak in the new baptism, and a shield in the
fidelity with which the Mormon authorities, under their charter,
defended their flock. In this way Nauvoo became a great
receptacle for stolen goods, and the river banks up and down the
stream concealed many more, the takers of which walked boldly
through the streets of the Mormon city. The retaliatory measures
which Smith encouraged his followers to practise on their
neighbors in Missouri had inculcated a disregard for the property
rights of non-Mormons, which became an inciting cause of
hostilities with their neighbors in Illinois.

The complaints of thefts by Mormons became so frequent that the
church authorities deemed it necessary to recognize and rebuke
the practice. Lee quotes from an address by Smith at the
conference of April, 1840, in Nauvoo, in which the prophet said:
"We are no longer at war, and you must stop stealing. When the
right time comes, we will go in force and take the whole state of
Missouri. It belongs to us as our inheritance; but I want no more
petty stealing. A man that will steal petty articles from his
enemies will, when occasion offers, steal from his brethren too.
Now I command you that have stolen must steal no more."*

* Lee's "Mormonism Unveiled;" p. 111.


The case of Elder O. Walker bears on this subject. On October 11,
1840, he was brought before a High Council and accused of
discourtesy to the prophet, and "suggesting (at different places)
that in the church at Nauvoo there did exist a set of pilferers
who were actually thieving, robbing and plundering, taking and
unlawfully carrying away from Missouri certain goods and
chattels, wares and property; and that the act and acts of such
supposed thieving, etc., was fostered and conducted by the
knowledge and approval of the heads and leaders of the church,
viz., by the Presidency and High Council."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XVIII, p. 185.


The action of the church authorities themselves shows how serious
they considered the reports about thieving. As early as December
1, 1841, Hyrum Smith, then one of the First Presidency, published
in the Times and Seasons an affidavit denying that the heads of
the church "sanction and approbate the members of said church in
stealing property from those persons who do not belong to said
church," etc. This was followed by a long denial of a similar
character, signed by the Twelve, and later by an affidavit by the
prophet himself, denying that he ever "directly or indirectly
encouraged the purloining of property, or taught the doctrine of
stealing." On March 25, 1843, Smith, as mayor, issued a
proclamation beginning with the declaration, "I have not altered
my views on the subject of stealing," reciting rumors of a secret
band of desperadoes bound by oath to self-protection, and
pledging pardon to any one who would give him any information
about "such abominable characters." This exhibition of the heads
of a church solemnly protesting that they were opposed to
thieving is unique in religious history.

The Patriarch, Hyrum Smith, made an announcement to the
conference of 1843, which further confirms the charges of
organized thieving made by the non-mormons. While denouncing the
thieves as hypocrites, he said he had learned of the existence of
a band held together by secret oaths and penalties, "who hold it
right to steal from anyone who does not belong to the church,
provided they consecrate one-third of it to the building of the
Temple. They are also making bogus money . . . . The man who told
me this said, 'This secret band referred to the Bible, Book of
Doctrine and Covenants, and Book of Mormon to substantiate their
doctrines; and if any of them did not remain steadfast, they
ripped open their bowels and gave them to the catfish.'" He named
two men, inmates of his own house, who, he had discovered, were
such thieves. The prophet followed this statement with some
remarks, declaring, "Thieving must be stopped."*

* Millennial Star, Vol. XX, pp. 757-758.


The Rev. Henry Caswall, in a description of a Sunday service in
Nauvoo in April, 1842 "City of the Mormons," p. 15) says:--

"The elder who had delivered the first discourse now rose and
said a certain brother whom he named had taken a keg of white
lead. 'Now,' said he, 'if any of the brethren present has taken
it by mistake, thinking it was his own, he ought to restore it;
but if any of the brethren present have stolen a keg, much more
ought he to restore it, or else maybe he will get catched.' . . .
Another person rose and stated that he had lost a ten dollar
bill. If any of the brethren had found it or taken it, he hoped
it would be restored." This introduction of calls for the
restoration of stolen property as a feature of a Sunday church
service is probably unique with the Mormons.

That the Mormons did not do all the thieving in the counties
around Nauvoo while they were there would be sufficiently proved
by the character of many of the persons whom they found there on
their arrival, and also by the fact that their expulsion did not
make those counties a paradise.* The trouble with them was that,
as soon as a man joined them, no matter what his previous
character might have been, they gave him that protection which
came with their system of "standing together." An early and
significant proof of this protection is found in the action of
the conference held in Nauvoo on October 3, 1840, two months
before the charter had given the city government its extended
powers, which voted that "no person be considered guilty of crime
unless proved by the testimony of two or three witnesses."**

* "Long afterward, while the writer was travelling through
Hancock, Pike and Adams Counties, no family thought of retiring
at night without barring and doublelocking every
ingress."--Beadle, "Life in Utah," p. 65.

** Millennial Star, Vol. XVIII, p. 153.


It became notorious in all the country round that it was
practically useless for a non-Mormon to attempt the recovery of
stolen property in Nauvoo, no matter how strong the proof in his
possession might be. S. J. Clarke* says that a great deal of
stolen stock was traced into Nauvoo, but that, "when found, it
was extremely difficult to gain possession of it." He cites as an
illustration the case of a resident of that county who traced a
stolen horse into Nauvoo, and took with him sixty witnesses to
identify the animal before a Mormon justice of the peace. He
found himself, however, confronted with seventy witnesses who
swore that the horse belonged to some Mormon, and the justice
decided that the "weight of evidence," numerically calculated,
was against the non-Mormon.

* "History of McDonough County," p. 83.


A form of protection against outside inquirers for property,
which is well authenticated, was given by what were known as
"whittlers." When a non-Mormon came into the city, and by his
questions let it be known that he was looking for something
stolen, he would soon find himself approached by a Mormon who
carried a long knife and a stick, and who would follow him,
silently whittling. Soon a companion would join this whittler,
and then another, until the stranger would find himself fairly
surrounded by these armed but silent observers. Unless he was a
man of more than ordinary grit, an hour or more of this
companionship would convince him that it would be well for him to
start for home.*

* Lee's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 168.





Next: Smith's Picture Of Himself As Autocrat

Previous: Smith A Candidate For President Of The United States



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