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.
couraged, and also that they may see the persecutions we suffered in , were but the prelude to a far more glorious display of the power of truth, and of the religion we have espoused.
From the kind, uniform, and consistent course pursued by the citizens of , and the great success which has attended us while here, the natural advantages of this place for every purpose we require, and the necessity of the of the of the Most High, we would say, let the brethren who love the prosperity of , who are anxious that her should be strengthened, and her cords lengthened, and who prefer her prosperity to their chief joy, come, and cast in their lots with us, and cheerfully engage in a work so glorious and sublime, and say with Nehemiah, “we his servants will arise and build.”
It probably would hardly be necessary to enforce this important subject on the attention of the Saints, as its necessity is obvious, and is a subject of paramount importance; but as watchmen to the house of Israel, as Shepherds over the flock which is now scattered over a vast extent of country, and the anxiety we feel for their prosperity and everlasting welfare, and for the carrying out the great and glorious purposes of our God, to which we have been called, we feel to urge its necessity, and say, let the Saints come here—This is the word of the Lord, and in accordance with the great work of the last days.
It is true the idea of a general gathering has heretofore been associated with most cruel and oppressing scenes, owing to our unrelenting persecutions at the hands of wicked and unjust men; but we hope that those days of darkness and gloom have gone by, and from the liberal policy of our government, we may expect a scene of peace and prosperity, we have never before witnessed since the rise of our church, and the happiness and prosperity which now await us, is, in all human probablility, incalculably great. By a concentration of action, and a unity of effort, we can only accomplish the great work of the last days, which we could not do in our remote and scattered condition, while our interests both spiritual and temporal will be greatly enhanced, and the blessings of heaven must flow unto us in an uninterrupted stream; of this, we think there can be no question. The great profusion of temporal and spiritual blessings, which always flow from faithfulness and concerted effort, never attend individual exertion or enterprize. The history of all past ages abundantly attests this fact.
In addition to all temporal blessings, there is no other way for the Saints to be saved in these last days, as the concurrent testimony of all the holy prophets clearly proves, for it is written—“They shall come from the east and be gathered from the west; the north shall give up, and the south shall keep not back”—“the sons of God shall be gathered from far, and his daughters from the ends of the earth:” it is also the concurrent testimony of all the prophets, that this gathering together of all the Saints, must take place before the Lord comes to “take vengeance upon the ungodly,” and “to be glorified and admired by all those who obey his gospel.” The 50 Psalm from the first to the fifth verses, inclusive, describes the glory and majesty of that event. “The mighty God even the Lord hath spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.— Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him and it shall be very tempestous round about him.
He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, (that he may judge his people.)
Gather my Saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
We might offer many other quotations from the scriptures, but believing them to be familiar to the Saints we forbear.
We would wish the Saints to understand that, when they come here they must not expect to find perfection, or that all will be harmony, peace and love; if they indulge these ideas, they will undoubtedly be deceived for here there are persons, not only from different States, but from different nations, who, although they feel a great attach [p. 276]
Before the October 1839 general conference appointed the Commerce area as a place of gathering, there were concerns that large populations of Saints attracted greater negative attention. For example, BishopEdward Partridge stated in February 1839 that “it was not expedient under present circumstances, to collect together but thought it was better to scatter into different parts and provide for the poor which will be acceptable to God.” (Minutes and Discourses, 5–7 Oct. 1839; “Conference in Quincy Feby. 1839,” Far West Committee, Minutes, CHL.)
Far West Committee. Minutes, Jan.–Apr. 1839. CHL. MS 2564.