History of the Church Series
This daily feature is an introduction to a full article by Susan Sessions Rugh. Each Wednesday we focus on an aspect of church history, beginning in New York in the early 19th century and progressing throughout the year to Utah in the 20th century. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.
Less than a fifteen–minute drive northeast of Carthage, Illinois a sign announces, "Webster, Population 46." A boarded–up store, a tiny cafe, and a small white church with a bell tower mark the spot. Situated in a wide bend of Crooked Creek, Webster received its, name in 1847, less than a year after the departure of Latter–day Saint settlers who had founded the town as Ramus in 1840 and who renamed it Macedonia in 1843. In 1845 it was reputed to be the third largest town in Hancock County, and its population peaked at somewhere between five and six hundred before the Macedonian Saints left in the spring of 1846. Macedonia, like other rural Mormon settlements in Hancock County, was a casualty of the Mormon conflict centered in Nauvoo. The renaming of the town for the prominent American statesman Daniel Webster was surely an attempt to forge a new identity and forget the past.
Historical treatment of the events leading up to the expulsion of the Saints in 1846 has focused on Nauvoo and the Church leadership there. Scholars have argued that the insularity of Nauvoo was a key factor in generating regional hostility towards the Church. Unwilling to integrate politically or economically, the Saints presented a theopolitical monolith that aroused hostility.