Nauvoo After The Exodus

Brockman's force was disbanded after its object had been

accomplished, and all returned to their homes but about one

hundred, who remained in Nauvoo to see that no Mormons came back.

These men, whose number gradually decreased, provided what

protection and government the place then enjoyed. Governor Ford

received much censure from the state at large for the lawless

doings of the recent months. A citizens' meeting at Springfield

demanded that he call out a force sufficient "to restore the

supremacy of the law, and bring the offenders to justice." He did

call on Hancock County for volunteers to restore order, but a

public meeting in Carthage practically defied him. He, however,

secured a force of about two hundred men, with which he marched

into Nauvoo, greatly to the indignation of the Hancock County

people. His stay there was marked by incidents which showed how

his erratic course in recent years had deprived him of public

respect, and which explain some of the bitterness toward the

county which characterizes his "History." One of these was the

presentation to him of a petticoat as typical of his rule. When

Ford was succeeded as governor by French, the latter withdrew the

militia from the county, and, in an address to the citizens,

said, "I confidently rely upon your assistance and influence to

aid in preventing any act of a violent character in future."

Matters in the county then quieted down. The Warsaw newspapers,

in place of anti-Mormon literature, began to print appeals to new

settlers, setting forth the advantages of the neighborhood. But a

newspaper war soon followed between two factions in Nauvoo, one

of which contended that the place was an assemblage of gamblers

and saloon-keepers, while the other defended its reputation. This

latter view, however, was not established, and most of the houses

remained tenantless.

Amid all their troubles in Nauvoo the Mormon authorities never

lost sight of one object, the completion of the Temple. To the

non-Mormons, and even to many in the church, it seemed

inexplicable why so much zeal and money should be expended in

finishing a structure that was to be at once abandoned. Before

the agreement to leave the state was made, a Warsaw newspaper

predicted that the completion of the Temple would end the reign

of the Mormon leaders, since their followers were held together

by the expectation of some supernatural manifestation of power in

their behalf at that time* Another outside newspaper suggested

that they intended to use it as a fort.

* A man from the neighborhood who visited Nauvoo in 1843 to buy

calves called on a blind man, of whom he says: "He told me he had

a nice home in Massachusetts, which gave them a good support. But

one of the Mormon elders preaching in that country called on him

and told him if he would sell out and go to Nauvoo the Prophet

would restore his sight. He sold out and had come to the city and

spent all his means, and was now in great need. I asked why the

Prophet did not open his eyes. He replied that Joseph had

informed him that he could not open his eyes till the Temple was

finished."--Gregg, "History of Hancock County," p. 375.

Orson Pratt, in a letter to the Saints in the Eastern states,

written at the time of the agreement to depart, answering the

query why the Lord commanded them to build a house out of which

he would then suffer them to be driven at once, quoted a

paragraph from the "revelation" of January 19, 1841, which

commanded the building of the Temple "that you may prove

yourselves unto me, that ye are faithful in all things whatsoever

I command you, that I may bless you and cover you with honor,

immortality, and eternal life."

The cap-stone of the Temple was laid in place early on the

morning of May 24, 1845, amid shouts of "Hosannah to God and the

Lamb," music by the band, and the singing of a hymn.

The first meeting was held in the Temple on October 5, 1845, and

from that time the edifice was used almost constantly in

administering the ordinances (baptism, endowment,etc.). Brigham

Young says that on one occasion he continued this work from 5

P.M. to 3.30 A.M., and others of the Quorum assisted.

The ceremony of the "endowment," although considered very secret,

has been described by many persons who have gone through it. The

descriptions by Elder Hyde and I. McGee Van Dusen and his wife go

into details. A man and wife received notice to appear at the

Temple at Nauvoo at 5 A.m., he to wear white drawers, and she to

bring her nightclothes with her. Passing to the upper floor, they

were told to remove their hats and outer wraps, and were then led

into a narrow hall, at the end of which stood a man who directed

the husband to pass through a door on the right, and the wife to

one on the left. The candidates were then questioned as to their

preparation for the initiation, and if this resulted

satisfactorily, they were directed to remove all their outer

clothing. This ended the "first degree." In the next room their

remaining clothing was removed and they received a bath, with

some mummeries which may best be omitted. Next they were anointed

all over with oil poured from a horn, and pronounced "the Lord's

anointed," and a priest ordained them to be "king (or queen) in

time and eternity." The man was now furnished with a white cotton

undergarment of an original design, over which he put his shirt,

and the woman was given a somewhat similar article, together with

a chemise, nightgown,, and white stockings. Each was then

conducted into another apartment and left there alone in silence

for some time. Then a rumbling noise was heard, and Brigham Young

appeared, reciting some words, beginning "Let there be light,"

and ending "Now let us make man in our image, after our

likeness." Approaching the man first, he went through a form of

making him out of the dust; then, passing into the other room, he

formed the woman out of a rib he had taken from the man. Giving

this Eve to the man Adam, he led them into a large room decorated

to represent Eden, and, after giving them divers instructions,

left them to themselves.

Much was said in later years about the requirement of the

endowment oath. When General Maxwell tried to prevent the seating

of Cannon as Delegate to Congress in 1873, one of his charges was

that Cannon had, in the Endowment House, taken an oath against

the United States government. This called out affidavits by some

of the leading anti-Young Mormons of the day, including E. L. T.

Harrison, that they had gone through the Endowment House without

taking any oath of the kind. But Hyde, in his description of the

ceremony, says:--

"We were sworn to cherish constant enmity toward the United

States Government for not avenging the death of Smith, or

righting the persecutions of the Saints; to do all that we could

toward destroying, tearing down or overturning that government;

to endeavor to baffle its designs and frustrate its intentions;

to renounce all allegiance and refuse all submission. If unable

to do anything ourselves toward the accomplishment of these

objects, to teach it to our children from the nursery, impress it

upon them from the death bed, entail it upon them as a legacy." *

* Hyde's "Mormonism," p. 97.

In the suit of Charlotte Arthur against Brigham Young's estate,

to recover a lot in Salt Lake City which she alleged that Young

had unlawfully taken possession of, her verified complaint (filed

July 11, 1874) alleged that the endowment oath contained the

following declaration:-- "To obey him, the Lord's anointed, in

all his orders, spiritual and temporal, and the priesthood or

either of them, and all church authorities in like manner; that

this obligation is superior to all the laws of the United States,

and all earthly laws; that enmity should be cherished against the

government of the United States; that the blood of Joseph Smith,

the Prophet, and Apostles slain in this generation shall be


As soon as the agreement to leave the state was made, the Mormons

tried hard to sell or lease the Temple, but in vain; and when the

last Mormon departed, the structure was left to the mercy of the

Hancock County "posse." Colonel Kane, in his description of his

visit to Nauvoo soon after the evacuation, says that the militia

had defiled and defaced such features as the shrines and the

baptismal font, the apartment containing the latter being

rendered "too noisome to abide in."

Had the building been permitted to stand, it would have been to

Nauvoo something on which the town could have looked as its most

remarkable feature. But early on the morning of November 19,

1848, the structure was found to be on fire, evidently the work

of an incendiary, and what the flames could eat up was soon

destroyed. The Nauvoo Patriot deplored the destruction of "a work

of art at once the most elegant in its construction, and the most

renowned in its celebrity, of any in the whole West."

When the Icarians, a band of French Socialists, settled in

Nauvoo, they undertook, in 1850, to rebuild the edifice for use

as their halls of reunion and schools. After they had expended on

this work a good deal of time and labor, the city was visited by

a cyclone on May 27 of that year, which left standing only a part

of the west wall. Out of the stone the Icarians then built a

school house, but nothing original now remains on the site except

the old well.

The Nauvoo of to-day is a town of only 1321 inhabitants. The

people are largely of German origin, and the leading occupation

is fruit growing. The site of the Temple is occupied by two

modern buildings. A part of Nauvoo House is still standing, as

are Brigham Young's former residence, Joseph Smith's "new

mansion," and other houses which Mormons occupied.

The Mormons in Iowa were no more popular with their non-Mormon

neighbors there than were those in Illinois, and after the

murders by the Hodges, and other crimes charged to the brethren,

a mass meeting of Lee County inhabitants was held, which adopted

resolutions declaring that the Mormons and the old settlers could

not live together and that the Mormons must depart, citizens

being requested to aid in this movement by exchanging property

with the emigrants. In 1847 the last of these objectionable

citizens left the county.

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