JS, , and , Proclamation, , Hancock Co., IL, 15 Jan. 1841. Featured version published in “A Proclamation, to the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Times and Seasons, 15 Jan. 1841, –277. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
In the 15 January 1841 issue of the Times and Seasons, its editors published “A Proclamation, to the Saints Scattered Abroad,” which was signed by JS, , and —the of the . This proclamation encouraged the growing number of English converts to relocate to , Illinois. Members of the in had begun to organize the emigration of church members, some of whom had already arrived in Nauvoo. Although there was enthusiasm for the British mission’s success, church leaders were concerned about not having the resources to sustain Nauvoo’s rapidly growing population. The Twelve recommended pooling funds to enable more Saints to emigrate, which meant converts had very little means when they arrived in Nauvoo. On 15 December 1840, JS wrote the apostles, encouraging wealthier Latter-day Saints to emigrate before the impoverished.
In addition to encouraging immigration and recommending a policy for how Saints could best migrate to , the First Presidency commended the Saints for the growth of the church in the and “the Islands of the Sea,” referring specifically to proselytizing in Great Britain, Australia, and the East Indies. The proclamation reviewed the state of church members from the time of their expulsion from to the hospitable reception they were enjoying in . It also thanked several prominent men in , Illinois, and the Nauvoo area, including new converts , who had sold to the church his vast property holdings in the region, and , who had lobbied the Illinois state legislature for the Nauvoo city charter.
The proclamation announced that on 16 December 1840 the legislature had passed the charter, which authorized the new city to establish its own municipal council and court system, a local militia, and a municipal university. The proclamation also stated that construction of a in Nauvoo had commenced. It emphasized the great potential for agriculture and manufacturing that the city’s location on the afforded, even though there were still concerns about sickness along the river. Reiterating JS’s instructions in his 15 December 1840 letter to the apostles, the proclamation encouraged those capable of building infrastructure and businesses to immigrate to the area, which had been appointed as a gathering place for the Saints in October 1839, and to prepare the way for the poor who would follow.
The Times and Seasons referred to the proclamation as “a document of considerable interest to the church at large.” The editors expressed their support for its contents and their “hope that it will not only be received with pleasure, but that the instructions which are communicated, will be cheerfully attended to.” The proclamation, for which no manuscript copy is apparently extant, was republished in the March 1841 issue of the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star.
The relationship which we sustain to the , renders it necessary that we should make known from time to time, the circumstances, situation, and prospects of the church, and give such instructions as may be necessary for the well being of the Saints. and for the promotion of those objects, calculated to further their present and everlasting happiness.
We have to congratulate the Saints on the progress of the great work of the “last days;” for not only has it spread through the length and breadth of this vast continent; but on the continent of Europe, and on the Islands of the sea, it is spreading in a manner entirely unprecedented in the annals of time.
This appears the more pleasing when we consider, that but a short time has elapsed, since we were unmercifully driven from the State of , after suffering cruelties and persecutions in their various, and horrid forms.— Then our overthrow, to many, seemed inevitable, while the enemies of truth triumphed over us, and by their cruel reproaches endeavored to aggravate our sufferings. But “the Lord of Hosts was with us, the God of Jacob was our refuge!” and we were delivered from the hands of bloody and deceitful men; and in the State of we found an asylum, and were kindly welcomed by persons worthy the characters of freemen. It would be impossible to enumerate all those who in our time of deep distress, nobly came forward to our relief, and like the good Samaritan poured oil into our wounds, and contributed liberally to our necessities, as the citizens of en masse and the people of , generally, seemed to emulate each other in this labor of love. We would, however, make honorable mention of , , General [Samuel] Leech, , Rev. Mr. Young, Col. Henry, , John Wood, , , Samuel Holmes, and , Esquires, who will long be remembered by a grateful community for their philanthropy to a suffering people, and whose kindness on that occasion is indelibly engraven on the tablet of our hearts, in golden letters of love.
We would, likewise, make mention of the Legislature of this , who, without respect of parties, without reluctance, freely, openly, boldly, and nobly, have come forth to our assistance, owned us as citizens and friends, and took us by the hand, and extended to us all the blessings of civil, political, and religious liberty, by granting us, under date of Dec. 16, 1840, one of the most liberal charters, with the most plenary powers, ever conferred by a legislative assembly on free citizens, for the “City of ,” the “” and the “University of the City of .” The first of these charters, (that for the “City of ,”) secures to us in all time to come, irrevocably, all those great blessings of civil liberty, which of right appertain to all the free citizens of a great civilized republic—’tis all we ever claimed. What a contrast does the proceedings of the legislature of this present, when compared with those of , whose bigotry, jealousy, and superstition, prevailed to such an extent, as to deny us our liberty and our sacred rights— has set a glorious example, to the whole and to the world at large, and has nobly carried out the principles of her constitution, and the constitution of these , and while she requires of us implicit obedience to the laws, (which we hope ever to see observed) she affords us the protection of law—the security of life, liberty, and the peaceable pursuit of happiness.
The name of our city (,) is of Hebrew origin, and signifies a beauti [p. ]
The increasingly contentious situation between Mormons and non-Mormons in Missouri culminated on 27 October 1838, when Governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued an executive order calling for the Saints to “be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace.” Three days later, a segment of the Missouri militia raided the Saints’ settlement at Hawn’s Mill in Caldwell County, Missouri, resulting in the deaths of seventeen men and boys. (Lilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, Fayette, MO, 27 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City; Joseph Young and Jane A. Bicknell Young, Affidavit, Record Group 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives, Washington DC.)
Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.
Record Group 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives / Petitions and Memorials, Resolutions of State Legislatures, and Related Documents Which Were Referred to the Committee on Judiciary during the 27th Congress. Committee on the Judiciary, Petitions and Memorials, 1813–1968. Record Group 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1789–2015. National Archives, Washington DC. The LDS records cited herein are housed in National Archives boxes 40 and 41 of Library of Congress boxes 139–144 in HR27A-G10.1.
The use of the term freemen here implied that Illinois offered the Saints freedoms equal to those of other citizens. In 1841 Noah Webster defined freeman as “one who enjoys liberty, or who is not subject to the will of another; one not a slave or vassal” and “one who enjoys or is entitled to a franchise or peculiar privilege.” (“Freeman,” in American Dictionary , 718.)
An American Dictionary of the English Language; First Edition in Octavo, Containing the Whole Vocabulary of the Quarto, with Corrections, Improvements and Several Thousand Additional Words. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. 2nd ed. 2 vols. New Haven: By the author, 1841.
Many Saints noted the hospitality and charity of Quincy’s residents. For example, John L. Butler recalled that one man allowed several families to reside without cost in “ten or twelve small houses that he had built on purpose to rent,” and Sarah Pea Rich noted that those in Quincy did “all they could to give our bretheren employment and assisted maney that ware in need.” (Butler, Autobiography, ; Rich, Autobiography, 53.)
Butler, John L. Autobiography, ca. 1859. CHL. MS 2952.
Rich, Sarah DeArmon Pea. Autobiography and Journal, 1885–1890. Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich, Autobiography, 1884–1893. CHL.
On 28 February 1839, a meeting of Quincy citizens appointed Joseph T. Holmes to a committee in charge of collecting donations for the Saints. Samuel Holmes, Bushnell, and Morris were placed on another committee “to draw up subscription papers and circulate them among the citizens for the purpose of receiving contributions in clothing and provisions.” Illinois senator Richard M. Young, Carlin, Leech, Morris, Holmes, and Holmes lent their support to the Saints when they signed a statement on 8 May 1839 urging others to donate to the impoverished newcomers.aBartlett was one of the editors of the Quincy Whig, which published a number of positive articles on the Saints.b
(a“The Mormons,” Quincy [IL] Whig, 16 Mar. 1839, ; Greene, Facts relative to the Expulsion, iii. bSee, for example, Editorial, Quincy Whig, 23 Feb. 1839, ; and Report, Quincy Whig, 2 Mar. 1839, .)
Quincy Whig. Quincy, IL. 1838–1856.
Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.
Ford, Thomas. A History of Illinois, from Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847. Containing a Full Account of the Black Hawk War, the Rise, Progress, and Fall of Mormonism, the Alton and Lovejoy Riots, and Other Important and Interesting Events. Chicago: S. C. Griggs; New York: Ivison and Phinney, 1854.
This passage alludes to the Saints’ expulsion from Missouri, which was brought about partly by Governor Lilburn W. Boggs’s 27 October 1838 executive order. In addition, the Missouri legislature had refused to officially consider the Saints’ petition for redress. (Lilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, Fayette, MO, 27 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City; Letter from Elias Higbee, 21 Feb. 1840.)