Old Man River:  History Along the MississippiApril 19-November 2, 2003

Man vs. Man

The Saints and the Mormon Trek

Bald eagle and alligator crossing sign
The Upper vs. The Lower Mississippi
The Mormon Trek exhibit section
Artifacts and images on loan from many sources, including:
~ Muscatine Art Center, Muscatine IA
~ Floyd Risvold, Edina MN

Published in 1830, the Book of Mormon shook up the Judeo-Christian world. This translation of "golden plates revealed in a vision" professed to be the history of ancient Hebrews in the Americas long before the birth of Christ. Joseph Smith Jr. established the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Soon, hundreds of converts - called Mormons or Saints - claimed they were chosen by God to restore Christ's true doctrines to a corrupt world.

Resentful neighbors forced the Saints from New York to Ohio to Missouri in search of a home. After the governor ordered their extermination, thousands of Mormons moved to Illinois land along the Mississippi River where they built the city of Nauvoo. In June 1844, however, Smith and other leaders were accused of civil disturbance, jailed, then murdered by a hostile mob.

Subsequent leader Brigham Young formed a Mormon exodus to the valley of the Great Salt Lake beginning in 1846. After crossing the Mississippi, the first caravans stretched 300 miles across southern Iowa, then on to the Great Plains where hundreds perished from hunger or exposure. Nonetheless, a Mormon stronghold was created in Utah Territory.

Joseph Smith III led one of several splinter groups who stayed in the Midwest to form the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The reorganized church remained faithful to the original doctrines, rejecting the practice of polygamy and all association with Brigham Young's church.

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Did you know … ?
Persecution of the Mormons was based on many factors: a) the Saints' claim to spiritual supremacy and belief in Joseph Smith's direct revelations from God; b) the self-sufficiency of their communities that limited outside trade; c) fear of their rising political power due to rapid growth of the Church, and d) the Utah Mormons' practice of polygamy (plural marriage), practiced from the 1840s until 1890. Polygamy was finally condemned so Utah could achieve statehood.

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This section "Man vs. Man" has the following related pages:
The Saints and The Mormon Trek

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2 men in a canoe
Early Exploration and Development
River Days
view of Bellview, Iowa
Riverfront Property
You are here!Civil War enenactors
Man vs. Man
Bald eagle and conservation officer
Man vs. Nature
jazz musician
The Arts Along the River
New Orleans graveyard
Legends and Spirits
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