The Foreign Immigration To Utah

When the Mormons began their departure westward from Nauvoo, the

immigration of converts from Europe was suspended because of the

uncertainty about the location of the next settlement, and the

difficulty of transporting the existing population. But the

necessity of constant additions to the community of new-comers,

and especially those bringing some capital, was never lost sight

of by the heads of the church. An evidence of this was given even

before the first company reached the Missouri River.

While the Saints were marching through Iowa they received

intelligence of a big scandal in connection with the emigration

business in England, and P. P. Pratt, Orson Hyde, and John Taylor

were hurriedly sent to that country to straighten the matter out.

The Millennial Star in the early part of 1846 had frequent

articles about the British and American Commercial Joint Stock

Company, an organization incorporated to assist poor Saints in

emigrating. The principal emigration agent in Great Britain at

that time was R. Hedlock. He was the originator of the Joint

Stock Company, and Thomas Ward was its president. The Mormon

investigators found that more than 1644 pounds of the

contributions of the stockholders had been squandered, and that

Ward had been lending Hedlock money with which to pay his

personal debts. Ward and Hedlock were at once disfellowshipped,

and contributions to the treasury of the company were stopped.

Pratt says that Hedlock fled when the investigators arrived,

leaving many debts, "and finally lived incog. in London with a

vile woman." Thus it seems that Mormon business enterprises in

England were no freer from scandals than those in America.

The efforts of the leaders of the church were now exerted to make

the prospects of the Saints in Utah attractive to the converts in

England whom they wished to add to the population of their

valley. Young and his associates seem to have entertained the

idea, without reckoning on the rapid settlement of California,

the migration of the "Forty-niners," and the connection of the

two coasts by rail, that they could constitute a little empire

all by itself in Utah, which would be self-supporting as well as

independent, the farmer raising food for the mechanic, and the

mechanic doing the needed work for the farmer. Accordingly, the

church did not stop short of every kind of misrepresentation and

deception in belittling to the foreigners the misfortunes of the

past, and picturing to them the fruitfulness of their new

country, and the ease with which they could become landowners


Naturally, after the expulsion from Illinois, in which so many

foreign converts shared, an explanation and palliation of the

emigration thence were necessary. In the United States, then and

ever since, the Mormons pictured themselves as the victims of an

almost unprecedented persecution. But as soon as John Taylor

reached England, in 1846, he issued an address to the Saints in

Great Britain* in which he presented a very different picture.

Granting that, on an average, they had not obtained more than

one-third the value of their real and personal property when they

left Illinois, he explained that, when they settled there, land

in Nauvoo was worth only from $3 to $20 per acre, while, when

they left, it was worth from $50 to $1500 per acre; in the same

period the adjoining farm lands had risen in value from $1.25 and

$5 to from $5 to $50 per acre. He assured his hearers, therefore,

that the one-third value which they had obtained had paid them

well for their labor. Nor was this all. When they left, they had

exchanged their property for horses, cattle, provisions,

clothing, etc., which was exactly what was needed by settlers in

a new country. As a further bait he went on to explain: "When we

arrive in California, according to the provisions of the Mexican

government, each family will be entitled to a large tract of

land, amounting to several hundred acres," and, if that country

passed into American control, he looked for the passage of a law

giving 640 acres to each male settler. "Thus," he summed up, "it

will be easy to see that we are in a better condition than when

we were in Nauvoo!"

* Millennial Star, Vol. VIII, p. 115.

The misrepresentation did not cease here, however. After

announcing the departure of Brigham Young's pioneer company,

Taylor* wound up with this tissue of false statements: "The way

is now prepared; the roads, bridges, and ferry-boats made; there

are stopping places also on the way where they can rest, obtain

vegetables and corn, and, when they arrive at the far end,

instead of finding a wild waste, they will meet with friends,

provisions and a home, so that all that will be requisite for

them to do will be to find sufficient teams to draw their

families, and to take along with them a few woollen or cotton

goods, or other articles of merchandise which will be light, and

which the brethren will require until they can manufacture for

themselves." How many a poor Englishman, toiling over the plains

in the next succeeding years, and, arriving in arid Utah to find

himself in the clutches of an organization from which he could

not escape, had reason to curse the man who drew this picture!

* John Taylor was born in England in 1808, and emigrated to

Canada in 1829, where, after joining the Methodists, he, like

Joseph Smith, found existing churches unsatisfactory, and was

easily secured as a convert by P. P. Pratt. He was elected to the

Quorum, and was sent to Great Britain as a missionary in 1840,

writing several pamphlets while there. He arrived in Nauvoo with

Brigham Young in 1841, and there edited the Times and Seasons,

was a member of the City Council, a regent of the university, and

judge advocate of the Legion, and was in the room with the

prophet when the latter was shot. He was the Mormon

representative in France in 1849, publishing a monthly paper

there, translating the Mormon Bible into the French language, and

preaching later at Hamburg, Germany. He was superintendent of the

Mormon church in the Eastern states in 1857, when Young declared

war against the United States, and he succeeded Young as head of

the church.

In 1847, at the suggestion of Taylor, Hyde, and Pratt, who were

still in England, a petition bearing nearly 13,000 names was

addressed to Queen Victoria, setting forth the misery existing

among the working classes in Great Britain, suggesting, as the

best means of relief, royal aid to those who wished to emigrate

to "the island of Vancouver or to the great territory of Oregon,"

and asking her "to give them employment in improving the harbors

of those countries, or in erecting forts of defence; or, if this

be inexpedient, to furnish them provisions and means of

subsistence until they can produce them from the soil." These

American citizens did not hesitate to point out that the United

States government was favoring the settlement of its territory on

the Pacific coast, and to add: "While the United States do

manifest such a strong inclination, not only to extend and

enlarge their possessions in the West, but also to people them,

will not your Majesty look well to British interests in those

regions, and adopt timely precautionary measures to maintain a

balance of power in that quarter which, in the opinion of your

memorialists, is destined at no very distant period to

participate largely in the China trade?" *

* See Linforth's "Route," pp. 2-5.

The Oregon boundary treaty was less than a year old when this

petition was presented. It was characteristic of Mormon duplicity

to find their representatives in Great Britain appealing to Queen

Victoria on the ground of self-interest, while their chiefs in

the United States were pointing to the organization of the

Battalion as a proof of their fidelity to the home government.

Practically no notice was taken of this petition. Vancouver

Island, was, however, held out to the converts in Great Britain

as the one "gathering point of the Saints from the islands and

distant portions of the earth," until the selection of Salt Lake

Valley as the Saints' abiding place.

On December 23, 1847, Young, in behalf of the Twelve, issued from

Winter Quarters a General Epistle to the church a which gave an

account of his trip to the Salt Lake Valley, directed all to

gather themselves speedily near Winter Quarters in readiness for

the march to Salt Lake Valley, and said to the Saints in


"Emigrate as speedily as possible to this vicinity. Those who

have but little means, and little or no labor, will soon exhaust

that means if they remain where they are. Therefore, it is wisdom

that they remove without delay; for here is land on which, by

their labor, they can speedily better their condition for their

further journey." The list of things which Young advised the

emigrants to bring with them embraced a wide assortment: grains,

trees, and vines; live stock and fowls; agricultural implements

and mills; firearms and ammunition; gold and silver and zinc and

tin and brass and ivory and precious stones; curiosities, "sweet

instruments of music, sweet odors, and beautiful colors." The

care of the head of the church, that the immigrants should not

neglect to provide themselves with cologne and rouge for use in

crossing the prairies, was most thoughtful.

* Millennial Star, Vol. X, p. 81.

The Millennial Star of February 1, 1848, made this announcement

to the faithful in the British Isles:--

"The channel of Saints' emigration to the land of Zion is now

opened. The resting place of Israel for the last days has been

discovered. In the elevated valley of the Salt and Utah Lakes,

with the beautiful river Jordan running through it, is the newly

established Stake of Zion. There vegetation flourishes with magic

rapidity. And the food of man, or staff of life, leaps into

maturity from the bowels of Mother Earth with astonishing

celerity. Within one month from planting, potatoes grew from six

to eight inches, and corn from two to four feet. There the

frequent clouds introduce their fertilizing contents at a modest

distance from the fat valley, and send their humid influences

from the mountain tops. There the saline atmosphere of Salt Lake

mingles in wedlock with the fresh humidity of the same vegetable

element which comes over the mountain top, as if the nuptial

bonds of rare elements were introduced to exhibit a novel

specimen of a perfect vegetable progeny in the shortest possible

time," etc.

Contrast this with Brigham Young's letter to Colonel Alexander in

October, 1857,--"We had hoped that in this barren, desolate

country we could have remained unmolested."

On the 20th of February, 1848, the shipment of Mormon emigrants

began again with the sailing of the Cornatic, with 120

passengers, for New Orleans.

In the following April, Orson Pratt was sent to England to take

charge of the affairs of the church there. On his arrival, in

August, he issued an "Epistle" which was influential in

augmenting the movement. He said that "in the solitary valleys of

the great interior" they hoped to hide "while the indignation of

the Almighty is poured upon the nations"; and urged the rich to

dispose of their property in order to help the poor, commanding

all who could do so to pay their tithing. "O ye saints of the

Most High," he said, "linger not! Make good your retreat before

the avenues are closed up!"

Many other letters were published in the Millennial Star in

1848-1849, giving glowing accounts of the fertility of Salt Lake

Valley. One from the clerk of the camp observed: "Many cases of

twins. In a row of seven houses joining each other eight births

in one week."

In order to assist the poor converts in Europe, the General

Conference held in Salt Lake City in October, 1849, voted to

raise a fund, to be called "The Perpetual Emigrating Fund," and

soon $5000 had been secured for this purpose. In September, 1850,

the General Assembly of the Provisional State of Deseret

incorporated the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company, and Brigham

Young was elected its first president. Collections for this fund

in Great Britain amounted to 1410 pounds by January, 1852, and

the emigrants sent out in that year were assisted from this fund.

These expenditures required an additional $5000, which was

supplied from Salt Lake City. A letter issued by the First

Presidency in October, 1849, urged the utmost economy in the

expenditure of this money, and explained that, when the assisted

emigrants arrived in Salt Lake City, they would give their

obligations to the church to refund as soon as possible what had

been expended on them.* In this way, any who were dissatisfied on

their arrival in Utah found themselves in the church clutches,

from which they could not escape.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XII, p. 124.

There were outbreaks of cholera among the emigrant parties

crossing the plains in 1849, and many deaths.

In October, 1849, an important company left Salt Lake City to

augment the list of missionaries in Europe. It included John

Taylor and two others, assigned to France; Lorenzo Snow and one

other, to Italy; Erastus Snow and one other, to Denmark;* F. D.

Richards and eight others, to England; and J. Fosgreene, to


* Elder Dykes reported in October, 1851, that, on his arrival in

Aalborg, Denmark, he found that a mob had broken in the windows

of the Saints' meeting-house and destroyed the furniture, and had

also broken the windows of the Saints' houses, and, by the

mayor's advice, he left the city by the first steamer. Millennial

Star, Vol. XIII, p. 346.

The system of Mormon emigration from Great Britain at that time

seems to have been in the main a good one. The rule of the agent

in Liverpool was not to charter a vessel until enough passengers

had made their deposits to warrant him in doing so. The rate of

fare depended on the price paid for the charter.* As soon as the

passengers arrived in Liverpool they could go on board ship, and,

when enough came from one district, all sailed on one vessel.

Once on board, they were organized with a president and two

counsellors,--men who had crossed the ocean, if possible,--who

allotted the staterooms, appointed watchmen to serve in turn, and

looked after the sanitary arrangements. When the first through

passengers for Salt Lake City left Liverpool, in 1852, an

experienced elder was sent in advance to have teams and supplies

in readiness at the point where the land journey would begin, and

other men of experience accompanied them to engage river

portation when they reached New Orleans. The statistics of the

emigration thus called out were as follows:--

* See Linforth's "Route," pp. to, 17-22; Mackay's "History of the

Mormons," pp. 298-302; Pratt's letter to the Millennial Star,

Vol. XI, p. 277.


1848 5 754

1849 9 2078

1850 6 1612

1851 4 1869

The Frontier Guardian at Kanesville estimated the Mormon movement

across the plains in 1850 at about 700 wagons, taking 5000 horses

and cattle and 4000 sheep.

Of the class of emigrants then going out, the manager of the

leading shipping agents at Liverpool who furnished the ships

said, "They are principally farmers and mechanics, with some few

clerks, surgeons, and so forth." He found on the company's books,

for the period between October, 1849, and March, 1850, the names

of 16 miners, 20 engineers, 19 farmers, 108 laborers, 10 joiners,

25 weavers, 15 shoemakers, 12 smiths, 19 tailors, 8 watchmakers,

25 stone masons, 5 butchers, 4 bakers, 4 potters, 10 painters, 7

shipwrights, and 5 dyers.

The statistics of the Mormon emigration given by the British

agency for the years named were as follows:--


1852 3 732

1853 7 2312

1854 9 2456

1852 1854, Scandinavian

and German via Liverpool 1053

1855 13 4425

In 1853 the experiment was made of engaging to send adults from

Liverpool to Utah for 10 pounds each and children for half price;

but this did not succeed, and those who embraced the offer had to

borrow money or teams to complete the journey.

In 1853, owing to extortions practised on the emigrants by the

merchants and traders at Kanesville, as well as the

unhealthfulness of the Missouri bottoms, the principal point of

departure from the river was changed to Keokuk, Iowa. The

authorities and people there showed the new-comers every

kindness, and set apart a plot of ground for their camp. In this

camp each company on its arrival was organized and provided with

the necessary teams, etc. In 1854 the point of departure was

again changed to Kansas, in western Missouri, fourteen miles west

of Independence, the route then running to the Big Blue River,

and through what are now the states of Kansas and Nebraska.

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