Mormon Nauvoo is an easily defined subject. It begins in 1839, ends seven years later, and incorporates such essentials as the move to Illinois, city and temple building, the Nauvoo Legion, political stresses, and the death of Joseph Smith. The Millers’ attractively printed narrative history recites all the generally known facts. In addition, it supplies newer information on land purchases and the operations of city government, plus descriptions of important landmarks now the object of historic restoration.
Nauvoo: The City of Joseph originated a dozen years ago as a dual-purpose report. Compiled for the National Park Service, which was considering the Mormon westward movement for its missions 66 program, it also served as an initial historical summary for Nauvoo Restoration, Inc.
As published, the study proceeds in six segments. In the first, the Mormons move quickly from their beginnings on New York to the expulsion from Missouri and the purchase of an inheritance in Nauvoo. Section two briefly describes church government, then chronicles the daily routine of municipal affairs under the Nauvoo Charter. A lengthy third section touches on church activities and general growth, lists major economic developments, describes social and cultural life in Nauvoo, and identifies major public buildings. In the fourth division, the narrative moves forward through political conflict to the assassination of the Smith brothers and the succession crisis. Section five describes the death of Nauvoo and traces plans for the westward trek. A final part sketches the post-Mormon era and attempts an interpretation of the period’s influence on subsequent events in Utah. A helpful survey of pre-Mormon Nauvoo is relegated to an appendix but deserves to be read in its chronological position at the beginning of the book.