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Mormons No Strangers to Intolerance and Persecution
The Beautiful State of Utah
When one thinks of early Utah history, often times the images of Brigham Young and the Mormon Church come to mind, and for good reason. These two principals played a great part in forming the history of the state of Utah. This was back when Utah was not actually even a state but a territory, known as Utah Territory. In fact, in its first proposal for statehood the name on the petition was, the State of Deseret, symbolizing industry and harmony. Now the name Utah is forever etched in history meaning, "Tops of the Mountians." But, I am getting a bit ahead of myself, so let me take you back a little bit further...
The history of the Mormon settlements in the United States are varied depending on who you choose to listen to, or what history book you choose to read, but I will attempt to combine the parts of history I feel to be the most correct.
The Mormons and Jackson County Missouri
One of the first Mormon gathering places was that of Jackson County Missouri.
For several reasons the Mormons did not seem to become a welcome addition to the populace that inhabited the place at the time. Jackson County Missouri was considered the very edge of civilization, and so the “roughest of characters” were the kind of resident to be found there. Usually, they were running away from something, mostly the law. The Mormons fit the running category as well, but they were running away from persecution.
The Mormons felt that Jackson County could offer the best spot possible where they could settle separated from the rest of the world so they could worship as they believed without persecution. This was not the case at all.
The Mormons Posed A Politcal Threat
The Missourians hated the Mormons for several reasons, but some of the most prominent ones had to do with the fact that they presented a political opposition to those already inhabiting the area. They were mostly “easterners” with a different view on the upcoming issues of “southern” idealism, mainly the opposition of slavery. The Mormons came in such a big group that the people who lived there originally thought they would hold political domination over the issues that required a vote. This is one of the reasons the people of Missouri tried to withhold the vote from the Mormons at that time.
The Mormons didn't mix well with the Missourians
Another reason for the hatred that was expressed is based on religious beliefs. Reverend Finis Ewing who was a preacher in the surrounding area labeled the Mormons as “the common enemy of mankind.” The beliefs that the Mormons practiced included the desire for industry and thrift, this did not mix well with the populace of drifters that resided there.
Separation Caused Division for Mormons and Missourians
The Mormons may have brought some of the misery they incurred upon themselves to some degree. They became a separatist group, not wanting to "mix" in with the townspeople. They wanted to be separate because their beliefs and standards were different from those whom they lived among. This caused a bitterness and division, between the two groups mostly because they chose buy and sell primarily amongst themselves, hindering the commerce in the area. The Mormons also had made it known that the surrounding area had been pronounced the area “Zion”, a place for the gathering of the righteous, by Joseph Smith the Mormon prophet. This obviously didn’t go over big for those who did not believe in the same way.
This arrangement of living resulted in a great display of mob violence. The people of Jackson County held a council on July 20, 1833, wherein 500 of the townsmen voted to remove the Mormons from Jackson County, “peaceable if we can...forcibly if we must!”
Mormons Were Driven From Missouri to Illinois
In a nutshell the Mormons were illegally driven from Jackson County Missouri, to Clay County Missouri where they were “peacefully asked to leave” a little over a year later.
The state of Missouri then organized a new county where they decided to put the Mormons so that they would not be a problem to others and developed a nearby county called Caldwell County. This is the county in which the Mormons established the city of Far West. Here in Far West they gathered by the droves, which presented the same political problems as before. The people of Missouri thought that the Mormons would vote in a block vote and so decided to prevent them from doing so. This erupted in violence again as the Missouri governor issued the famous “extermination order” which allowed the legal extermination of the Mormons, and they were driven again by mob violence in the dead of winter to Quincy, Illinois.
The Mormon Temple In Nauvoo
The Mormons Made Nauvoo From Swampland
Quincy, Illinois was just a temporary resting place until the Mormons could find a place to resettle, so in the spring they purchased a piece of swampland across the Mississippi River from Quincy and proceeded to make of it their beautiful Nauvoo. It was in Nauvoo that they were again persecuted and, in fact, their beloved prophet Joseph Smith was martyred as a further result of the mob violence that seemed to follow them where ever they went.
The Mormon Journey Begins
Brigham Young Led The Mormons To Utah
Without their prophet to guide them the affairs of the church fell under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with Brigham Young as president. It was here once again they were forced to leave their beautiful city of Nauvoo in the dead of winter and find a place of refuge in the west. After months of cross country migration Utah became the final resting place for the Mormons.
The Mormon Journey Continued To Utah
Utah, The Place For The Mormons
As the wagon train carrying Brigham Young reached the top of what is now known as Emigration Canyon he prophetically stated, “This is the Place.” That was July 24, 1847. It was here in modern day Salt Lake City that the Mormons would use their motto of “Industry and Harmony” to make the “Desert Blossom as a Rose.”
Utah, This Is The Place
Utah History Involves Mormon History
So, as you can see, telling the history of the state of Utah is not to be done without mention of Brigham Young, The Mormon Church and the faithful Mormon pioneers, who walked with “faith in every footstep.” They played a pivotal role in the history of the United States, as well as in the history of the church.
In the face of persecution they pressed forward looking for a refuge among the mountains of the west. Utah was the refuge they sought. Here they lived undisturbed by persecution and mobs for about 10 years, in fact Brigham Young stated, "Give us ten years of peace and we will ask no odds of the United States."
It was ten years to the exact day, that riders came into Emigration Canyon during the annual Pioneer Day Celebration on July 24th, which marked the arrival of the Mormons into Utah, to announce the advancement of troops from the United States Army to war against the Mormons of Utah. This war was know as the Utah war, and is often called the "bloodless war." In my opinion however, that title is not correct. There was blood shed as a result of that war, and it was shed at Mountain Meadows.
Which I will write about in the next Hub of this series....