The Settlement Of Nauvoo

Smith's leadership was now to have another illustration. Others

might be discouraged by past persecutions and business failures,

and be ready to abandon the great scheme which the prophet had so

often laid before them in the language of "revelation"; but it

was no part of Smith's character to abandon that scheme, and

remain simply an object of lessened respect, with a scattered

congregation. He had been kept advised of Galland's proposal,

and, two days after his arrival in Quincy, we find him, on April

24, presiding at a church council which voted to instruct him

with two associates to visit Iowa and select there a location for

a church settlement, and which advised all the brethren who could

do so to move to the town of Commerce, Illinois. Thus were the

doubters defeated, and the proposal to scatter the flock brought

to a sudden end. Smith and his two associates set out at once to

make their inspection.

The town of Commerce had been laid out (on paper) in 1834 by two

Eastern owners of the property, A. White and J. B. Teas, and

adjoining its northern border H. R. Hotchkiss of New Haven,

Connecticut, had mapped out Commerce City. Neither enterprise had

proved a success, and when the Mormon agents arrived there the

place had scarcely attained the dignity of a settlement, the only

buildings being one storehouse, two frame dwellings and two

blockhouses. The Mormon agents, on May 1, bought two farms there,

one for $5000 and one for $9000 (known afterward as the White

purchase), and on August 9 they bought of Hotchkiss five hundred

acres for the sum of $53,500. Bishop Knight, for the church, soon

afterward purchased part of the town of Keokuk, Iowa, a town

called Nashville six miles above, a part of the town of Montrose,

four miles above Nashville, and thirty thousand acres in the

"half-breed tract," which included Galland's original offer, and

ten thousand acres additional.

Thus was Smith prepared to make another attempt to establish his

followers in a permanent abiding-place. But how, it may be asked,

could the prophet reconcile this abandonment of the Missouri Zion

and this new site for a church settlement with previous

revelations? By further "revelation," of course. Such a

mouthpiece of God can always enlighten his followers provided he

can find speech, and Smith was not slow of utterance. While in

jail in Liberty he had advised a committee which was sent to him

from Illinois to sell all the lands in Missouri, and in a letter

to the Saints, written while a prisoner, he spoke favorably of

Galland's offer, saying, "The Saints ought to lay hold of every

door that shall seem to be opened unto them to obtain foothold on

the earth." In order to make perfectly clear the new purpose of

the Lord in regard to Zion he gave out a long" revelation" (Sec.

124), which is dated Nauvoo, January 19, 1841, and which contains

the following declarations:--

"Verily, verily I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to

any of the sons of men to do a work under my name, and those sons

of men go with all their might and with all they have, to perform

that work and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come

upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it

behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those

sons of men, but to accept their offerings.

"And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and

commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my

work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they

repent not and hate me, saith the Lord God.

"Therefore for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those

whom I commanded to build up a city and house unto my name in

Jackson County, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies,

saith the Lord your God."

This announcement seems to have been accepted without question by

the faithful, as reconciling the failure in Missouri with the new

establishment farther east.

The financiering of the new land purchases did credit to Smith's

genius in that line. For some of the smaller tracts a part

payment in cash was made. Hotchkiss accepted for his land two

notes signed by Smith and his brother Hyrum and Rigdon, one

payable in ten, and the other in twenty years. Galland took

notes, and, some time later, as explained in a letter to the

Saints abroad, the Mormon lands in Missouri, "in payment for the

whole amount, and in addition to the first purchase we have

exchanged lands with him in Missouri to the amount of $80,000."*

Galland's title to the Iowa tract was vigorously assailed by Iowa

newspapers some years later. What cash he eventually realized

from the transaction does not appear.** Smith had influence

enough over him to secure his conversion to the Mormon belief,

and he will be found associated with the leaders in Nauvoo


* Times and Seasons, Vol. II, p. 275.

** "Galland died a pauper in Iowa."--"Mormon Portraits," p. 253.

The Hotchkiss notes gave Smith a great deal of trouble.

Notwithstanding the influx of immigrants to Nauvoo and the growth

of the place, which ought to have brought in large profits from

the sale of lots, the accrued interest due to Hotchkiss in two

years amounted to about $6000. Hotchkiss earnestly urged its

payment, and Smith was in dire straits to meet his demands. In a

correspondence between them, in 1841, Smith told Hotchkiss that

he had agreed to forego interest for five years, and not to

"force payment" even then. Smith assured Hotchkiss that the part

of the city bought from him was "a deathly sickly hole" on which

they had been able to realize nothing, "although," he added, with

unblushing affrontery for the head of a church, "we have been

keeping up appearances and holding out inducements to encourage

immigration that we scarcely think justifiable in consequence of

the mortality that almost invariably awaits those who come from

far distant parts."* In pursuance of this same policy (in a

letter dated October 12, I84I), the Eastern brethren were urged

to transfer their lands there to Hotchkiss in payment of the

notes, and to accept lots in Nauvoo from the church in exchange.

* Millennial Star, Vol. XVIII, p. 631.

The name of the town was changed to Nauvoo in April, 1840, with

the announcement that this name was of Hebrew origin, signifying

"a beautiful place."*

* In answer to a query about this alleged derivation of the name

of the city, a competent Hebrew scholar writes to me: "The

nearest approach to Nauvoo in Hebrew is an adjective which would

be transliterated Naveh, meaning pleasant, a rather rare word.

The letter correctly represented by v could not possibly do the

double duty of uv, nor could a of the Hebrew ever be au in

English, nor eh of the Hebrew be oo in English. Students of

theology at Middletown, Connecticut, used to have a saying that

that name was derived from Moses by dropping 'iddletown' and

adding 'mass.' "

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