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.
ful situation, or place, carrying with it, also, the idea of rest; and is truly descriptive of this most delightful situation. It is situated on the eastern bank of the , at the head of the Des Moines Rapids, in ; bounded on the east by an extensive prairie of surpassing beauty, and on the north, west, and south, by the . This place has been objected to by some, on account of the sickness which has prevailed in the summer months, but it is the opinion of , a physician of great experience and medical knowledge, that , and all the eastern and southern portions of the City of , are as healthy as any other portions of the western country, (or the world, to acclimated citizens,) whilst the northwestern portion of the city has experienced much affliction from ague and fever, which, however, he thinks can be easily remedied by draining the sloughs on the adjacent in the .
The population of our is increasing with unparralled [unparalleled] rapidity, numbering more than three thousand inhabitants. Every facility is afforded in the city and adjacent country, in , for the successful prosecution of the mechanical arts, and the pleasing pursuits of agriculture. The waters of the can be successfully used for manufactoring purposes, to an almost unlimited extent.
Having been instrumental in the hands of our heavenly Father in laying a foundation for the of , we would say, let all those who appreciate the blessings of the gospel, and realize the importance of obeying the commandments of heaven, who have been blessed of heaven with the possession of this world’s goods, first prepare for the general gathering—let them dispose of their effects as fast as circumstances will possibly admit, without making too great sacrifices, and remove to our and —establish and build up manufactories in the city, purchase and cultivate farms in the county—this will secure our permanent inheritance, and prepare the way for the gathering of the poor. This is agreeable to the order of heaven, and the only principal on which the gathering can be effected—let the rich, then, and all who can assist in establishing this place, make every preparation to come on without delay, and strengthen our hands, and assist in promoting the happiness of the Saints. This cannot be too forcibly impressed on the minds of all, and the are hereby instructed to proclaim this word in all places where the Saints reside, in their public administrations, for this is according to the instructions we have received from the Lord.
The of the Lord is in progress of erection here, where the Saints will come to worship the God of their fathers, according to the order of his house, and the powers of the holy , and will be so constructed as to enable all the functions of the priesthood to be duly exercised, and where instructions from the Most High will be received, and from this place go forth to distant lands.
Let us then concentrate all our powers, under the provisions of our magna charta granted by the Legislature, at the “City of ,” and surrounding country, and strive to emulate the actions of the ancient covenant fathers, and patriarchs, in those things, which are of such vast importance to this and every succeeding generation.
The “,” embraces all our military power, and will enable us to perform our military duty by ourselves, and thus afford us the power, and privilege, of avoiding one of the most fruitful sources of strife, oppression, and collision with the world. It will enable us to show our attachment to the and as a people, whenever the public service requires our aid—thus proving ourselves obedient to the paramount laws of the land, and ready at all times to sustain and execute them.
The “University of the City of ,” will enable us to teach our children wisdom—to instruct them in all knowledge, and learning, in the Arts, Sciences and Learned Professions. We hope to make this institution one of the great lights of the world, and by and through it, to diffuse that kind of knowledge which will be of practical utility, and for the public good, and also for private and individual happiness. The Regents of the University will take the general supervision of all mat [p. 274]
In winter 1835–1836, JS studied Hebrew under Joshua Seixas in Kirtland, Ohio. Hebrew scholar Louis C. Zucker has explained that Seixas’s Manual Hebrew Grammar for the Use of Beginners, which Seixas used in instructing JS, indicated in a “List of Peculiar and Anomalous Forms Found in the Hebrew Bible” that “the first words under the letter Nun are na-avauh and nauvoo—verb forms whose anomalous ‘voice’ is designated, without translation. The first word the Authorized Version renders ‘becometh’ (Psalms 93:5), and the word nauvoo is rendered ‘are beautiful’ (Isaiah 52:7), ‘are comely’ (Song of Solomon 1:10). This verb may be used of person, thing, or place. The idea of rest may have stolen in from idyllic verse two of the Twenty-Third Psalm, where a homonymous root is used meaning ‘pastures’ (ne-ot or ne-oth).” (Zucker, “Joseph Smith as a Student of Hebrew,” 48, italics in original; Seixas, Manual Hebrew Grammar, 111.)
Zucker, Louis C. “Joseph Smith as a Student of Hebrew.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3 (Summer 1968): 41–55.
Seixas, Joshua. Manual Hebrew Grammar for the Use of Beginners. 2nd ed., enl. and impr. Andover, MA: Gould and Newman, 1834.
The Des Moines rapids were an eleven-mile stretch of “blue limestone reaching from shore to shore, at all times covered with water” along the Mississippi River between Nauvoo and Keokuk, Iowa Territory. (Robert E. Lee, St. Louis, MO, to Charles Gratiot, 6 Dec. 1837, in Report from the Secretary of War, Senate doc. no. 139, 25th Cong., 2nd Sess. , p. 2.)
Report from the Secretary of War, in Compliance with a Resolution of the Senate of the 25th Instant, in relation to the Rock River and Des Moines Rapids of the Mississippi River. Senate doc. no. 139, 25th Cong., 2nd Sess. (1838).
Malaria epidemics had afflicted the Saints in the summers of 1839 and 1840. During both years, deaths from malaria and several other diseases were higher in the months of August and September than in other months of the year. (See Ivie and Heiner, “Deaths in Early Nauvoo,” 167–168.)
Ivie, Evan L., and Douglas C. Heiner. “Deaths in Early Nauvoo, 1839–46, and Winter Quarters, 1846–48.” Religious Educator 10, no. 3 (2009): 163–173.
Others shared JS and Bennett’s view of the region. In 1833 non-Mormon Anthony Hoffman, writing about this region of Illinois, stated, “I can confidently say it is Healthy, except on the Bottom lands near the Rivers.” (Anthony Hoffman, Rushville, IL, to John Reid, Argyle, NY, 1 Nov. 1833, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.)
Hoffman, Anthony. Letter, Rushville, IL, to John Reid, Argyle, NY, 1 Nov. 1833. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.
In his inaugural address as Nauvoo’s mayor on 3 February 1841, Bennett argued that “public health requires that the low lands, bordering on the Mississippi, should be immediately drained, and the entire timber removed. This can and will be one of the most healthy cities in the west, provided you take prompt and decisive action in the premises.” (John C. Bennett, “Inaugural Address,” Times and Seasons, 15 Feb. 1841, 2:318.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
JS worried that few Saints from urban areas of England would have the necessary agricultural experience to prosper in Nauvoo. In a 15 December 1840 letter to the Twelve Apostles, he recommended that skilled workers who could build the necessary machinery to establish manufacturing in the region should immigrate to Nauvoo before those “who must have certain preparations made for them before they can support themselves in this country.” (Letter to Quorum of the Twelve, 15 Dec. 1840.)
Magna Carta is a Latin term meaning “the great charter.” Historically, the term was used to refer to a thirteenth-century English document that was signed by King John and promised certain rights to England’s barons.
The Nauvoo charter authorized the city to develop a “body of independent military men to be called the ‘Nauvoo Legion.’” Illinois required that all white male residents of the state between the ages of eighteen and forty-four be enrolled in a state militia unit. A law enacted in 1837 allowed for volunteer or independent militia companies to “adopt a constitution and by-laws for the regulation and government” of their own company, as long as they were not “inconsistent with the constitution of the United States or of this State.” (Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840; An Act for the Organization and Government of the Militia of This State [2 July 1833], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 469, sec. 1; An Act Encouraging Volunteer Companies [2 Mar. 1837], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 500, sec. 1.)
The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.