Smith's First Visits To Missouri Founding The City And The Temple

On June 7, 1831, a "revelation" was given out (Sec. 52)

announcing that the next conference would be held in the promised

land in Missouri, and directing Smith and Rigdon to go thither,

and naming some thirty elders, including John Corrill, David

Whitmer, P. P. and Orson Pratt, Martin Harris, and Edward

Partridge, who should also make the trip, two by two, preaching

by the way. Booth says: "Only about two weeks were allowed them

to make preparations for the journey, and most of them left what

business they had to be closed by others. Some left large

families, with the crops upon the ground."*

* Howe's "Mormonism Unveiled."

Smith's party left Kirtland on June 19, and arrived at

Independence in the following month, journeying on foot after

reaching St. Louis, a distance of about three hundred miles.

Smith was delighted with the new country, with "its beautiful

rolling prairies, spread out like real meadows; the varied timber

of the bottoms; the plums and grapes and persimmons and the

flowers; the rich soil, the horses, cattle, and hogs, and the

wild game.... The season is mild and delightful nearly three

quarters of the year, and as the land of Zion is situated at

about equal distances from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as

well as from the Alleghany and Rocky Mountains, it bids fair to

become one of the most blessed places on the earth."* The town of

Independence then consisted of a brick courthouse, two or three

stores, and fifteen or twenty houses, mostly of logs.

* Smith's "Autobiography," Millennial Star, Vol. XIV.

The usual "revelation" came first (Sec. 57), announcing that

"this is the land of promise and the place for the City of Zion,"

with Independence as its centre, and the site of the Temple a lot

near the courthouse. It was also declared that the land should be

purchased by the Saints, "and also every tract lying westward,

even unto the line running directly between Jew and Gentile"

(whatever that might mean), "and also every tract bordering by

the prairies." Sidney Gilbert was ordered to "plant himself"

there, and establish a store, "that he might sell goods without

fraud," to obtain money for the purchase of land. Edward

Partridge was "to divide the Saints their inheritance," and W. W.

Phelps* and Cowdery were to be printers to the church.

* Phelps came from Canandaigua, New York, where, Howe says, he

was an avowed infidel. He had been prominent in politics and had

edited a party newspaper. Disappointed in his political ambition,

he threw in his lot with the new church.

Marvellous stories were at once circulated of the grandeur that

was to characterize the new city, of the wealth that would be

gathered there by the faithful who would survive the speedy

destruction of the wicked, and of the coming of the lost tribes

of Israel, who had been located near the north pole, where they

had become very rich. While not tracing these declarations to

Smith himself, Booth, who was one of the party, says that they

were told by persons in daily intercourse with him. It is doing

the prophet no injustice to say that they bear his imprint.

The laying of the foundation of the City of Zion was next in

order. Rigdon delivered an address in consecrating the ground, in

which he enjoined them to obey all of Smith's commands. A small

scrub oak tree was then cut down and trimmed, and twelve men,

representing the Apostles, conveyed it to a designated place.

Cowdery sought out the best stone he could find for a

corner-stone, removed a little earth, and placed the stone in the

excavation, delivering an address. One end of the oak tree was

laid on this stone, "and there," says Booth, "was laid down the

first stone and stick which are to form an essential part of the

splendid City of Zion."

The next day the site of the Temple was consecrated, Smith laying

the cornerstone. When the ceremonies were over, the spot was

merely marked by a sapling, from two sides of which the bark was

stripped, one side being marked with a "T" for Temple, and the

other with "ZOM," which Smith stated stood for "Zomas," the

original of Zion. At the foot of this sapling lay the

corner-stone--"a small stone, covered over with bushes."

Such ceremonies might have been viewed with indulgence if

conducted in some suburb of Kirtland. But when men had travelled

hundreds of miles at Smith's command, suffering personal

privations as well as submitting to pecuniary sacrifices, it was

a severe test of their faith to have two small trees and t wo

round stones in the wilderness offered to them as the only

tangible indications of a land of plenty. Rigdon expressed

dissatisfaction with the outcome, as we have seen; Booth left the

church as soon as he got back to Ohio; members of the party

called Cowdery and Smith imperious, and the prophet and Rigdon

incurred the charge of "excessive cowardice" on the way.

Smith made a second trip to Independence, leaving Ohio on April

2, 1832, and arriving there on his return the following June. His

stay in Missouri this time was marked by nothing more important

than his acknowledgment as President of the high priesthood by a

council of the church there, and a "revelation" which declared

that Zion's "borders must be enlarged, her Stakes must be


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