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Missouri in the 1830s


Missouri national park
Missouri national park

In 1831 Joseph Smith, organizer of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, settled a band of his Mormon followers at Independence. Smith designated Independence as “Zion,” the place to which Jesus Christ would return. Converts flocked into western Missouri.

The Mormons were against slavery and favored immigration of free blacks. Their views soon brought them into conflict with proslavery factions, and they were forced north across the Missouri River into Clay County.

Violence continued, and in 1836 the legislature set aside Caldwell County for the Mormons, where they settled and founded the town of Far West. However, some also moved into Davies and Carroll counties, where opposition from their neighbors led to the Mormon War. Governor Lilburn W. Boggs called out the state militia with the order that the Mormons had to be “exterminated or driven from the state.” By April 1839 most Mormons had left Missouri and gone first to Illinois, and later founded a new Zion in Salt Lake City, Utah.

However, to many of Smith’s original followers, Independence was still the Mormon Zion. In 1860 his son Joseph Smith III accepted leadership of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who were the largest group of dissident Mormons and still lived largely in the Midwest. He established the headquarters of this body at Independence. "Missouri" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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