Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

sheaves. Unfortunately for themselves, they did not unite prudence with their industry. They were too enthusiastically certain of their triumph, to temporise or conciliate. Their prophet had declared that Zion should be established, and should put down her enemies under her feet. Why, then, should they hesitate to proclaim their anticipations ? They boasted openly that they should soon possess the whole country, and that the unbelievers should be rooted out from the land. These boasts excited the greatest indignation, not unaccompanied by some fear; for the old settlers saw the number of their new neighbours increasing weekly, and knew that their compact organisation gave them a power more than proportionate to their numerical strength. Legally, however, there were no means of preventing these strangers from accomplishing their intentions. For every citizen of the Union had an undoubted right to buy land in Jackson County, and to believe that Joseph Smith, Junior, was a prophet. But in America, when the members of a local majority have made up their minds that a certain course is agreeable to their interests or their passions, the fact that it is illegal seldom prevents its adoption. The Jacksonians knew that they had at present a majority over the Mormonites, and they resolved to avail themselves of this advantage before it was too late, lest, in their turn, they should be outpumbered, and thereby be liable to those pains and penalties which are the portion of a minority in the Great Republic. The citizens of ihe county therefore convened a public meeting, wherein they agreed upon the following (among other) resolutions : –

That no Mormon shall in future move and settle in this country.

" That those now here who shall give a pledge within a reasonable time to remove out of the country, shall be allowed to remain unmolested until they have sufficient time to sell their property.

· That the editor of The Star,' (the Mormon paper) be required forthwith to discontinue the business of printing in this country.

That those who fail to comply with these requisitions, be referred to their brethren who have the gifts of divination and unknown tongues to inform them of the lot that awaits them.'

These resolutions were at once communicated to the Mormon leaders; but, as they did not immediately submit, the meeting unanimously resolved to raze to the ground the office of the obnoxious newspaper. This resolution was forth with carried into effect, and the Mormon Bishop' (a creature of Smith's, who presided in his absence), was tarred and feathered, — an appropriate punishment enough, which had also been administered to his master, not long before, by a mob in Ohio.

Notwithstanding these hostile demonstrations, the Mormons could not bring themselves to leave their newly-purchased lands without resistance. They appealed to the legal tribunals for redress, and organised a militia, which maintained for some time a guerilla warfare against their antagonists. At length, however, they were overpowered by numbers, and abandoned their beloved Žion. But most of them found refuge in the adjoining counties, where they gradually acquired fresh property, and continued for four years in tranquillity.

Meanwhile their prophet had remained snugly established at Kirtland, which he wisely judged a more desirable home than the wild land of Zion, till the latter should be comfortably colonised by his adherents. Hence he sent out his 'apostles' and

elders' in all directions to make proselytes, which they continued to do with great success. The first duty imposed on all con

was the payment of tithing to the Church.' (D. C. sec. 107.) And those who received the commands of Joseph as the voice of God, did not hesitate to furnish this conclusive proof of the reality of their faith. On the strength of the capital thus placed at his disposal, Smith established at Kirtland a mercantile house and a bank. We find from his autobiography, that the whole Smith family were at liberty to draw without stint from the common stock; and their ill-gotten gains were squandered as recklessly as might have been expected. Embarrassment ensued, and several revelations called upon the saints for money to prop the Prophet's credit.* At length the crash came. The firm failed, the bank stopped payment, and the managers were threatened with a prosecution for swindling. To escape the sheriff's writ, Smith and Rigdon were obliged to fly by night; and they took refuge among their followers in Missouri.

This occurred in the autumn of 1837, four years after the expulsion of the saints from Zion. That expulsion had painfully falsified the prophecies of Smith, who had so completely committed himself to the successful establishment of his people in the spot which he had first chosen, that he did not acquiesce in their abandonment of it without a struggle. In February, 1834, soon after their ejectment, he had promised their immediate restoration in the following revelation :

• Verily I say unto you, I have decreed that your brethren which have been scattered shall return .... Behold the redemption of Zion must needs come by power. Therefore I will raise up unto my people a man who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel. Verily I say unto you that my servant Baurak Ale is

* See • Smith's Autobiography,' under date of March, 1834.

ye

[ocr errors]

the man .... Therefore let my servant Baurak Ale say unto the strength of my house, my young men and the middle aged, gather yourselves together unto the land of Zion. ... And let all the churches send up wise men with their monies, and purchase lands as I have commanded them. And, inasmuch as mine enemies come against you, to drive you from my goodly land which I have consecrated to be the land of Zion,

shall curse them ; and wliomsoever ye curse I will curse. It is my will that my servant Parley Pratt, and my servant Lyman Wight, should not return until they have obtained companies to go up unto the land of Zion, by tens, or by twenties, or by fifties, or by an hundred, until they bave obtained to the number of five hundred, of the strength of my house. Behold this is my will ; but men do not always do my will ; therefore, if you cannot obtain five hundred, seek diligently that peradventure you may obtain three hundred, and if ye cannot obtain three hundred, seek diligently that peradventure ye may obtain one hundred.' (D. C. sec. 101.)

By such efforts a volunteer force of 150 men had been raised, and had marched from Kirtland in June 1834, to reinstate the saints in their inheritance.* Joseph also, who, to do him justice, seems not to have lacked physical courage, had marched at their head; though why he superseded Baurak Ale,' the divinelyappointed Moses of the host, we are not informed. The little force had safely reached their brethren in Missouri; but the Prophet, finding they were not strong enough to effect their purpose, had disbanded them without fighting, and had himself returned to Kirtland, where he had remained till the commercial crisis which we have just mentioned.

When thus finally driven to take refuge among his followers, Smith found them in a very critical position. Four years had passed since their expulsion from Zion, and they had established themselves in greater numbers than before, in the countries bordering on that whence they had been driven. They bad cultivated the soil with perseverance and success, were daily increasing in wealth, and had built two towns (or cities, as they called them) Diahman and Far-west. But their prudence had not grown with their prosperity. They thought themselves a match for their enemies, and fearlessly provoked them by repeating their former boasts. The Prophet's arrival added fuel to the flame. The disgraceful failure of his prophecies still rankled in his mind. He declared publicly among his disciples, that he would yet

tread down his enemies, and trample on their dead bodies;' and that, like Mahomet, whose motto was the Koran or the sword, so

* See M. Star, XV. 69. 205.

should it be eventually, Joseph Smith or the sword.'* These and similar facts were disclosed to the Missourians by apostate Mormons, and excited great exasperation. At length a collision occurred at a county election, and open warfare began. For some weeks the contest was maintained on equal terms, and both parties burnt and destroyed the property of their antagonists with no decisive result. But, finally, the Governor of Missouri called out the militin of the State, nominally, to enforce order, but really to exterminate the Mormons. They were unable to resist the overwhelming force brought against them, and surrendered almost at discretion, as appears from the following terms which they accepted: First. To deliver up their leaders for trial; secondly, To lay down their arms; thirdly, To sign over their properties, as an indemnity for the expenses of the war; and lastly, To leave the State forthwith. The spirit in which this last condition was enforced will appear from the conclusion of an address delivered to the Mormons by General Clark, the commander of the hostile forces:

• Another thing yet remains for you to comply with — that you leave the State forthwith. Whatever your feelings concerning this affair; whatever your innocence; it is nothing to me. The orders of the governor to me were that you should be exterminated; and had your leader not been given up, and the treaty complied with, before this you and your families would have been destroyed, and your houses in ashes.

The results of this contest seemed likely to be fatal to tlie Prophet, who was given up to the State authorities, to be tried on charges of treason, murder, and felony, arising out of the war. But he contrived to escape from his guards, and thus avoided, for the time, the justice of a border jury. He filed to Illinois, where he found the remnant of his persecuted proselytes, who had been compelled to cross the bleak prairies, exposed to the snowstorms of November, with no other shelter than their waggons for sick and wounded, women and children. 12,000 of these exiles crossed the Mississippi, which separates the States of Missouri and Illinois. By the citizens of the latter they were received with compassionate hospitality, and relieved with gifts of food and clothing.

In a wonderfully short time the sect displayed once more its

* The above statements are in an affidavit (given in 'Mormonism Illustrated ') made in Oct. 1838, and countersigned by Orson Hyde, who is now the chairman of the Apostolic College. Whether he was then a renegade, who has since repented; or whether he made these confessions under compulsion, we have no information.

inherent vitality, and that strength which springs from firm union and voluntary obedience. Soon its numbers were increased by the arrival of proselytes to 15,000 souls. For the third time they gathered themselves together in a new settlement, and built the town of Nauvoo in a strong position on the banks of the Mississippi, which nearly surrounds the peninsula selected for their capital. In eighteen months the city contained 2,000 houses. The prairies were changed into corn-fields, the hills covered with flocks and herds, and steamers landed merchandise and colonists upon wharves which had superseded the aboriginal marsh. Here the Mormonites seemed at last securely established in a commonwealth of their own, and Joseph was permitted, for five years, to enjoy the rich fruits of his imposture undisturbed. The wealth at his disposal was continually increasing, both from the tithing of his old converts (which augmented with their growing property), and from the contributions of new proselytes. These were now flowing in, not only from the United States, but even from Europe. In 1837, a mission had been sent to England, and the Mormon apostles baptized 10,000 British subjects before the Prophet's death. New revelations summoned all these converts to Nauvoo, bringing with them their gold, their silver, and their precious stones.' (D. C. sec. 103.) A mansion house was begun, where the Prophet and his family were to be lodged and maintained at the public cost. “Let it be built in my name, and let my servant Joseph Smith and his house have place therein from generation to generation, saith the Lord; and let the naine of the house be called the

Nauvoo House, and let it be a delightful habitation for man.' (D. C. sec. 103.) But, while thus providing for his own comfort, Joseph was careful to divert the attention of his followers from his private gains by a public object of expenditure, which might seem to absorb the revenues under his charge. As he had before done at Kirtland, so now at Nauvoo he began the building of a temple. But this was to be on a far grander scale than the former edifice, and was to be consecrated by the most awful ceremonies. For here alone (so it was revealed) could the rite of baptism for the dead be efficaciously performed. (D. C. sec. 103.) The foundation of this temple was laid with military and civil pomp early in 1841.

Meanwhile the State of Illinois had granted a charter of incorporation to the city of Nauvoo, and Joseph Smith was elected Mayor. Moreover, the citizens capable of bearing arms were formed into a well-organised militia, to which weapons were supplied by the State. This body of troops, which was called the Nauvoo Legion, was perpetually drilled by the Prophet, who

« AnteriorContinuar »