A Young Folks' History of the Church
From his prison in Missouri, Joseph had advised his brethren to buy land in the state of
Illinois and Iowa. Towards these states, therefore, the Saints had fled, leaving merciless,
blood-stained Missouri to the judgment of God.
Twenty years afterwards when the great war broke out between the North and the South,
Missouri was one of the fiercest battle grounds, and its people suffered terribly for the
misery and bloodshed they had brought upon the Saints.
The people of Illinois received the homeless Saints kindly, and sold them land upon
which to live. At a small place called Commerce, situated on the east bank of the
Mississippi river, Joseph bought land, and there he decided to locate the headquarters of
the Church. The place was beautifully situated in a bend of the river. Here a city was laid
out and called Nauvoo, meaning beauty and rest, and Joseph invited the Saints to settle
and build up the place. It was no small task to gather the scattered Saints into one body
again, but early in the summer of 1839 a number of houses were erected in the new city.
Now came another trouble. Commerce was not a healthful place, but the Saints were
promised that that would be changed; however, it was not long before a great many of the
Saints became sick. Nearly every house was afflicted, and Joseph himself also took the
fever. On the morning of July 22nd, Joseph arose from his bed and commenced
administering to the sick. He began with those in his own house, then went to some
camping in his yard. The Prophet commanded the sick in the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ to arise from their beds and be made whole, and the sick were healed on ever side.
He then went from house to house and from tent to tent upon the bank of the river,
healing the people. Many wonderful healings were performed. Joseph would take the sick
person by the hand, or stand in the door of the tent and command the afflicted person to
arise and be made whole. The Prophet with some of the brethren who were now with him
crossed the river to the place where Brigham Young was lying ill. President Young was
soon healed and followed with the rest. As there were many whom the Prophet could not
reach, the Twelve were sent to administer to them. Joseph gave Wilford Woodruff a silk
handkerchief which he was to use in healing some children. President Woodruff kept the
handkerchief to the day of his death.
After this, there was very little sickness in Nauvoo. During the summer and fall of 1839
the city grew rapidly. About this time seven of the Twelve left for their mission to
England, of which you have been told, and the English Saints soon began to gather to
Late in October, 1839, Joseph went to the city of Washington to lay the troubles of the
Church before the authorities of the nation. Joseph made the acquaintance of many
leading men, among them John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay. Martin Van Buren was
president, and to him Joseph told of the wrongs they had suffered from the people of
Missouri. It was then that the president made the famous remark: "Your cause is just, but
I can do nothing for you." His meaning, no doubt, was that the president of the United
States had no right to interfere with the affairs of a state; but that all such troubles should
be settled by the state itself.
So Joseph returned without any help. Meanwhile, Nauvoo grew into a large city. Ten
wards were laid off and organized. April 6, 1841, the corner stone of the temple was laid.