The Mormon Migration:
A Quest For Religious Freedom


The Mormon Church: Troubles and Migration

This painting is of the Mormons migrating from Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Mormons were forced to leave every state in which they settled. The Mormons, who first emerged as a religious group in 1830, were driven from New York state to Ohio, to Missouri, to Illinois, and finally to Salt Lake City, Utah. The reason that they were forced out was the ideas of their religion.The main reason that people did not like them was that they practiced polygamy. Polygamy is the practice of having more than one wife. Many people were against this practice, because they thought it was immoral. They also had a way to get land. If you owned land and you were Mormon, you had to deed it to the church and then the church would deed it back according to peopls needs.

In 1831, Joseph Smith moved the church community to Kirtland, Ohio. The church's main source of income and power was the Mormon- run Kirtland Bank. Everything was going fine until 1837 when the bank system splintered because of fights over power within the church. After the fall of the bank, the Mormons gave up and moved to Missouri.

The "Winter Quarters" in Nebraska.

In Missouri, the Mormons were again attacked in the "Massacre at Hawns Mill." During the massacre, twenty Mormons were killed, and many more were wounded.

Joseph Smith and others were arrested after the massacre on what appeared to be false charges. With Joseph Smith still in jail, the Mormons were ordered out of Missouri.

This is a model of Brigham Young's house in Utah.

Fifteen thousand Mormons fled to open land in Illinois, where they built there dream city and named it Nauvoo, under the leadership of Brigham Young. A few months later, Joseph Smith escaped jail and came to Nauvoo. After the Mormons settled into Illinois, Smith, his brother, and other church leaders were jailed. The reason of the jailing is that they thought the leaders of the Mormons were in charge of the Mormons and if they jailed their leaders, then the whole religion would cease to exist.

Fortunately for the church, Brigham Young was not recognized as a leader, and he was not imprisoned. A mob attacked the jail on June 27, 1844, and Joseph Smith and his brother were fatally shot. In the winter of 1845, the Illinois legislature repealed the Nauvoo charter, leaving its court system powerless, and its militia illegal. The Mormons were left with no protection from anti-Mormon mobs.

By Autumn 1845, church leaders promised they would go west in the spring. Five thousand church members were told to save food and prepare to migrate. They tried to finish the temple so they could leave properly endowed in God's grace. Anti-Mormons did not like the fact that the Mormons wanted to finish the temple. They thought that if the Mormons were planning to finish the temple, they would stay. Anti-Mormons began planning a tax against the Mormons.

This is Brigham Young's Book of Mormon, which he took with him on his migration from Illinois to Utah.

During the first week of February 1946, wagons crossed the frozen Mississippi River. Unfortunately, many Mormons only had enough food for a few days, and had to be helped by those who were more prepared. A couple of hundred people stayed in Lee County, Iowa; others traveled during the winter.

This is Brigham Young's compass, which he used to lead the way across the United States.

The apostles, who friends with Smith and all had a major part of the church's system, organized the Mormons into two large groups, then into groups of one hundred each, then into groups of fifty, and finally into groups of ten, with officers over each. Food and supplies were distributed to each group of fifty.

Soon the Mormons met up with the Popuwatom Tribe, who agreed to let the Mormons use their land. Those settlements became known as the

Winter Quarters. As Mormon wagon trains traveled to the Winter Quarters, a U.S. Army captain requested that five hundred Mormons be sent to fight in the Mexican War. Brigham Young agreed, and the army gave money in exchange for the soldiers.

When Young reached Utah he was sick and had to be carried in a carriage. When the Mormons reached Utah, Young sat up and looked out over Great Salt Lake Valley and said, "This is the place."

The first Mormons arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, and began building Salt Lake City. By 1869, eighty thousands saints (taken from the church's official name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) had come to Utah.


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