History Revealed


“Young saw the opportunity for the Mormons to make a home for themselves where they wouldn’t be uprooted”

In the icy grip of winter, a thin line of wagons set out from Nauvoo, Illinois, and crossed the Mississippi River, laden with passengers and provisions. Those inside belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (otherwise known as the Mormons), and they were fleeing their city in search of a new home. They were headed for the west.

Somewhere in that great untamed wilderness, they were sure, they would find a better future: a place to build a new city, which – they hoped – would be free of the dangers that had dragged Nauvoo into violence and despair.

This wasn’t the first time that the Mormons had been pushed to abandon their homes in search of a fresh start. Since Joseph Smith had proclaimed himself to be a prophet of God in 1830 and preached from his Book of Mormon, his followers had been hounded. Their lifestyle – particularly the practice of polygamy, and their steadfast refusal to keep slaves – deeply worried their Christian neighbours.


Forced out of their original home of Missouri in 1839 after an outbreak of armed fights, 15,000 Mormons settled in what would become known as Nauvoo, in Illinois.

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