Nauvoo

A River Town

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From its founding in 1839 until the main Exodus of the Mormons under Brigham Young in 1846, Nauvoo, Illinois, was an integral part of the social, economic, and political fabric of the American frontier. Located on the Mississippi River midway between St. Louis, Missouri, and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin—both outposts for fur trading companies—Nauvoo was conceived and born concurrent with the dying gasps of the American fur trade’s golden era. It emerged on the American scene halfway between 1815 and 1860, the chronological bounds of a genuine “transportation revolution” in the United States which saw a national economy replace a “colonially oriented” one. Nauvoo participated in those economic changes and enacted (or attempted to enact) some scenes in miniature from the national stage, such as the replacement of domestic with factory systems of manufacturing. Demographically, it was the wonder of its age and region. Fed by a steady stream of immigrants from the international missionary system of the Mormon Church, Nauvoo grew at an almost precarious rate.

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