A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.
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 Nauvoo.
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.Many public buildings were erected. Good houses were built, and beautiful gardens soon bloomed around them. On the outskirts of the city, fields of grain stretched as far as the eye could reach. In 1842 there were 20,000 people in the city, and Nauvoo promised to be one of the largest cities in the West.
The fame of Joseph and the "Mormon" city spread, and many people came to see the wonder. Missionaries were sent out to preach, the Times and Seasons published by the Church, printed many Gospel truths and much important history. The militia was organized and the city had a well-drilled body of men called the Nauvoo Legion. Peace and prosperity smiled upon them for a season, and it seemed that at last there would be a permanent stake of Zion established.
But it was not to be. The hate that burned in the hearts of evil men had not grown less, but was only waiting for a chance to show itself. Trouble again arose. It would not be easy to understand the many causes that led to these troubles, but a few may be noted.
The Saints now had great power at the polls, the same as in Missouri. The "Mormons" would not vote for men who would not give them their rights, and so many of these politicians became their enemies and stirred up the people against the Saints by their many lies. Then, there were the jealousies of the sectarian preachers; and perhaps worse than all, the evil work of apostates. Then it happened that a band of thieves troubled the neighborhood, and of course the "Mormons" were blamed. It was not a hard matter to find excuses for a further persecution of the Latter-day Saints.
And now came again Governor Boggs, of Missouri. He, it seems, had not had enough, so he asked Governor Carlin to deliver to him Joseph and the other brethren who had escaped from Missouri. Governor Carlin of Illinois, made out the papers for the brethren's arrest, but the officer could not find them when he went to Nauvoo. He therefore returned without his prisoners, and nothing more was done in the matter until nearly a year later, when Joseph was visiting the governor at Quincy. Governor Carlin treated Joseph kindly, but as soon as the Prophet had left, some of the officers were sent after him. They overtook Joseph and arrested him on the old charge from Missouri. However, they went on to Nauvoo, where the sheriff, being sick, was taken good care of by his prisoner. As it was Joseph's right by law to be tried in Illinois, he was permitted to have a hearing before Judge Stephen A. Douglas, in Monmouth, Illinois. There was great excitement at the trial, some of his enemies trying to excite a mob against him. At the close of the hearing Joseph was set free by the judge.
Dr. J.C. Bennett was the mayor of Nauvoo, and held other high positions; but he proved to be a very wicked man. At one time, when the Legion was having a sham fight, Bennett tried to get Joseph into a position that he might be shot without anyone knowing who did it. This did not succeed. Then he began to commit sin, and say that Joseph upheld him in it. Bennett was of course cut off from the Church, after which he wrote many false things against Joseph and the Saints and was the means of bringing much persecution on them.
In May, 1842, Ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri was shot at and wounded by some person in Independence. Although at this time they were hundreds of miles from Independence, Joseph Smith and O.P. Rockwell were charged with this crime, and again papers were issued for their arrest. They were tried in Nauvoo and acquitted. As the Missourians were trying many schemes to take Joseph to Missouri and there kill him, he went in hiding for a time. Every effort was made to take Joseph, and rewards were offered for his capture.Elder Rockwell was kidnapped and taken to Missouri, where he was ill-treated, but at last escaped.
Thomas Ford now became governor of Illinois and to him Joseph went. The governor prevailed upon Joseph to stand another trial, which was held at Springfield, Illinois. Joseph was again proved innocent and released.
But the fiends from Missouri would not give up. Once again he was taken while away from Nauvoo, by two officers, who abused him shamefully. I cannot tell you all about his exciting adventures—that you must read in a larger history—but at last he arrived safe again in Nauvoo.
Persecution continued. Mobs now gathered around Nauvoo. Threats were made that mobs would come from Missouri, and join with those of Illinois, against the "Mormons." There was great unrest. When Joseph was spoken to about the danger he was in, he said he was not exposed to as much danger from outside enemies as from traitors within. "We have a Judas in our midst," he said.
Thus ended the year 1843.
Topics.—1. Settlement at Nauvoo. 2. The healing of the sick. 3. City of Nauvoo. 4. Attempts to take Joseph to Missouri.
Questions and Review.—1. Locate Nauvoo. 2. What was its name before it was called Nauvoo? 3. Relate how Joseph healed the sick. 4. When did Joseph go to Washington? 5. What was his mission there? 6. What answer did President Martin Van Buren make? 7. Why was it useless to expect justice from Missouri? 8. What kind of city did Nauvoo become? 9. What was the Times and Seasons? 10. What was the Nauvoo Legion? 11. Name some of the causes that led to the new persecution. 12. Who was Dr. Bennett, and what did he do? 13. Tell of the efforts to get Joseph to Missouri.