[From The Mormons by Gunnison, 1852]



IF the impulsiveness of the swooning Rigdon drove him occasionally to excess, in cooler moments he was the advocate of order and system. His was a restless character, between extremes. But the genius of Smith was a match for his ardor. In order to divert his attention and keep him in the traces, new and other work was carved out. A revelation is given in June, by which the principal elders, in parties of two, are directed west. to preach by the way and in the cities along their routes; and by a fixed time to meet on the borders of the Missouri. This mission was for selecting a site for a temple in the "land of Zion," and to found a city to be called Zion, the New Jerusalem of the Saints. This part of the country was chosen with great attention to its beauty of location, richness of soil, and all the requisites of a great empire. The point selected was near Independence, and where they were informed " from heaven'" Adam's altar was built, and in the very centre of the Garden of Eden. Here it was supposed they could expand unmolested, and convert the sparse population over to their views, or buy out any unconvinced of the propriety of joining them. They sadly mistook the character of the pioneers of civilisation, as the sequel proved.

The site for a city was selected, the land consecrated, and they proceeded to lay the corner-stone of the temple amid the beautiful groves which witnessed the Druidical pageantry. Here was to be the grand centre of gathering, and all other places of similar organisation were to be called " Stakes of Zion "—here was the place where the kings of the earth were to bring their wealth and the streets were to be paved with gold and precious stones. But as yet the " statics" only flourish, while the consecrated " Zion " lies silent in the umbrageous forest groves on the banks of the great 3Iissouri. " The everlasting residence " is yet uninhabited, and "the abodes of plenty and peace," the "joy of the whole earth," lie, as yet, in the peaceful silence of the wilderness.

The three hundred missionaries forwarded their converts hither, and there was soon collected over 1,200 in Jackson County and the vicinity, buying lands and cultivating them peaceably. The heads of the church returned, shortly after the ceremony of laying the corner-stone, to Shinchar, as they now named the Iiirtland "stake," and engaged in building a temple there, laying off a city, and offering town lots for sale. All property was consecrated to the Lord, and the doctrine laid down, that the Saints were only stewards of what they had in charge, and that a tenth part of all, labor, earnings: and time, should be dedicated forthwith, and for ever, to the use of the priesthood, under direction of the Presidency. Public store-houses were erected to receive the tithes and donations, and the bishops put in charge of the collection.

Two years thus passed quietly away in the temporal matters, though strifes and apostacies- became alarmingly frequent in spiritual concerns. Opportunely for the waning power of the prophet, a turmoil appeared in Zion, and persecution came to his aid, and cemented the union among those not anathematised. The people in Jackson County collected and drove out the Mormons, their neighbors, who were obliged to take refuge across the river; but they refused to sell their lands, which belonged to the " Saints of the Lord," and they could not alienate them. When Joseph heard of these troubles, he sent forth a revelation, which informed his people that Heaven was visiting for their lack of faith, strifes and disagreements, but that he would chastise and return them again to their inheritance. To make this good, a party called the " army of Zion" left Ohio to aid their brethren, being armed and drilled for the service, but before they arrived on the ground, the mob, or a party of militia, met them and demanded a parley. As the heavens opened not in vengeance on the enemy, the prophet disbanded his party instead of fighting, and his demonstration not having the effect of awing the country into submission, the holy soldiery dispersed. Some of these remained in Missouri, joining their brethren; others returned to Ohio, but many fell with the cholera. This last was declared to be the fulfilling of prophecy, for ''judgment must begin at the house of God'" but it was to pass thence and utterly destroy their enemies.

The attack upon those in Jackson County appears to have been without provocation, other than fears of their clanship. There had been no complaint of misdemeanors, and this expulsion, without color of law, was most unjust and oppressive. The following year, 1834, a guard was furnished by the Governor, and an attempt to secure redress was made in the courts, but the mobocratic spirit was so prevalent that the attorney-general advised the abandonment of the suit, and the civil proceedings were given up accordingly.

More peaceable times now seemed to hover over the Mormon fortunes. They gathered rapidly together in Clay and adjoining counties, and pressed forward their farming operations vigorously; and plenty again appeared on their tables, and comfort in their dwellings. At Kirtland, in the autumn of 1835, a Hebrew and theological school was formed, and several hundred elders attended the instructions given by a celebrated Hebraist and scholar. In the following spring, several of these now learned doctors repaired to Missouri, and large accessions flocked in from abroad, which so alarmed the old inhabitants of Clay County' that they determined to drive them away. The evident clanship and unity of action in all matters, caused these new comers to be distrusted. Various conferences were held, and consulting committees appointed, during the year, and anally an arrangement was made, by which it was stipulated that the Mormons should withdraw to Caldwell, if lands were procured in exchange for those they should leave; and the affair was amicably arranged, and the removal effected. Here, in the hope of a permanent residence' they set to work again with more than usual ardor.

Meanwhile swimming operations in lots, buildings, banks, and manufactures, were in full tide at Kirtland. A large mercantile house was started on a tithe basis, and obtained credit to a considerable amount; and in 1837 a bank was set in motion, and property assumed fictitious values. The temples with its various compartments for giving and receiving endowments, or for imparting and obtaining the gifts of the Spirit, was so far advanced that the rites were actually held. For some days wine flowed freely—wine that had been consecrated, and declared by the prophet to be harmless and not intoxicating. This, with previous fastings, and expectations wrought up to the highest pitch, and other means used to create mental excitement, produced unheard of effects, if we may credit the witnesses of these proceedings. Visions, tongues, trances, wallopings on the ground, spoutings, weeping, and laughing, the outpouring of prophecies, and terrible cursings of the Missourians, exhortations from house to house, and preaching to unseen nations; these, and other fantastic things, wore among " the signs following" at Kirtland.

Not long after followed the crash of the speculations. The improvident habits of sudden wealth, the unwise investments in lots, houses' and mills, and the loose management of the mercantile firm, brought on embarrassments in 1838. The bank failed, and the managers were prosecuted for swindling. Smith and Rigdon secretly departed for far-west, the new Zion, and thus escaped to '`the city of refuge," from the sheriff and his writs, and perhaps from the penitentiary. Here they imparted to the Saints the developing nature of their own spirits. New cities were located, and settlements begun in Davies, Caldwell, and Carroll counties. The spot where Adam blessed his children was revealed, and a city was founded in the valley, to be called Adam-mon-diamon' significant of the patriarchal blessing.


Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001