Mormon Foreknowledge of the West

Among those seeking a new home beyond the Mississippi in 1846 were the Mormons, whose particular brand of religion was obnoxious to their neighbors in Missouri and Illinois. Even though the Mormon migration to the American West was part of the general overland movement of the midnineteenth century, it also differed from the broader western migration in some important ways. First, it was a cooperative mass-movement of a whole people, even a whole culture. The Mormons were not gold seekers or hunters or fur trappers. They were home seekers and home builders. Their purpose was to find a land so remote they could get beyond the reach of their enemies and worship God according to their own pattern and build his kingdom as they had been commanded. Second, by 1846 the Mormon leaders had as extensive a knowledge of the land beyond the Rocky Mountains as was available in the maps and books of the period. Their trek to that region was neither a mere accident nor a sudden inspiration; rather, they had learned all they could about the West prior to their exodus in February 1846.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 21:4
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