Some thoughts on the Mormon Experince in Nauvoo.

The liberal charter granted to the city of Nauvoo was modeled after, and very similar, to similar charters issued to nearby towns. However, the interpretation of Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders was unique. Jospeh was both leader of the church and mayor of Nauvoo. The manner in which the civic government of Nauvoo was run violated church and state on a scale seldom if ever seen again; for all intents and purposed the church ran the city of Nauvoo.

Initially welcomed by surronding communities several things begin to anger previous residents. The local newspaper in Carthage is venomantly anti-mormon, and is a primary cause in creating a violent attitude towards the mormons. However, it is able to play on several very real problems.

Mormon immigration in Nauvoo, from both Missouri and oversea missions, ensured that within short order Nauvoo had enough political clout to dominate local elections and enforce their political will on the surronding communities, if they voted in a block; which they did. The mormons voted whoever Joseph voted, a problem Joseph F. Smith and others would have to address as Utah bid for stateship later. Nearby residents where understandly concerned about a new religous group controlling local politics.

Joseph and other Church leaders also had trouble dealing with differing opinions and conflict. This created an us vs. them attitude which not only create internal problems, but feed external ones as well. Had Joseph and other church leaders understood how their own behavious made things worse, Nauvoo may very well have survived as a Mormon community. As it was, there response to outside concerns was to blame jealousy and "presuction of the righteous", rather than understand outside concerns and work to address them. It should be noted that had church leaders learned this lesson in Jackon County, MI, and Kirtland, OH, the 1838 Mormon war in Missouri may well have been averted, leaving the mormons to settle in Far West and Adamondaomin rather than come to Nauvoo.

The mormons where forced from Nauvoo by the intolerance and prejudice of their neighbors, but there own actions only served to create problems rather than solve them. Because this pattern had occured before, in Kirtland and twice in Missouri, Joseph Smith and other leaders must share some blame for the fall of Nauvoo.

For more on Nauvoo, I recommend the book :
Nauvoo, Kingdom on the Missippi, by Robert Flanders. From Missippi Press. Required reading for many of the tour guides in Nauvoo.

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