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4. Edward Partridge is to "stand in his office" and divide the "inheritances."
5. W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery are to be "printers to the church."
6. The bishop and the agent are to make preparation for those and their families who have been "commanded to come to Zion."1 The "residue” of elders and members are to await further instructions.
The revelations of August 1st, 7th, 8th, and 12th, all announced during this first visit to Independence, contain additional items.2
No one is break the laws of the land.
The law of consecration, i.e., the United Order, is to apply to all who receive an inheritance in Zion. Martin Harris, a man of some wealth, is asked to set the example.
9. The elders of the church are not, in the main, to receive inheritances for some time to come; but are to "push the people together from the ends of the earth."
10. An agent is also to be appointed in Ohio "to receive monies to purchase lands in Zion."
11. The manner of life the people of Zion are expected to live is enumerated by way of commandment.
12. The route for the "saints" to take in “journeying to Zion" is to be by land rather than by water.
The formulation of this program was of considerable significance. It is to be observed that the site for the chosen city has now been made definite, general arrangements and plans to effect its building have been made, and the leaders have been chosen who are expected to bring to consummation the great task. Further, the manner of life which should maintain among those who are to live in the city is elaborated. High moral considerations abound. Not only was an effort to be made to establish higher equality, but the laws of the land were to be observed and the rights of others respected. Only those outside of Mormonism who neither wished to sell their lands nor live neighbors with the new comers could well find grounds for objection. Within
1 These men were: Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, A. S. Gilbert, Edward Partridge, Isaac Morley and John Corrill, the last two being counsellors to Bishop Partridge. c.f. Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 57-61 passim.
2 Ibid., Sec. 58, 59, 60 and 61.
3 Jackson County was highly rated by people generally at this time. Alphonzo Wetmore, for instance, in his Gazeteer of the State of Missouri, says: When the settlements in Jackson were at first commenced, it is remembered that a rage for that quarter pervaded the whole emigrating world; and for several years, when movers with the most substantial equipment were questioned on the road as to their destination, they uniformly answered. "Ua to the Blues."
the ranks of the founders of the new order the big majority saw in the program further evidence of divine origin.
On one matter, however, serious questionings arose. The people had had no part in the formulation of the program, in the selection of the location of the city, nor in the choice of men for leadership. All these things, so commonly taken care of by the American pioneers who had been building towns and cities for generations, had come in the form of revelations through Joseph Smith. Was Joseph Smith seeking for undue power? With some misgivings and mutterings, but on the whole, ready to go ahead, the missionaries began the return journey to Kirtland on the Missouri, in sixteen canoes, on August 9, 1831, leaving Bishop Partridge to hold conference with the rest of the Western Mission when they should arrive.1 With the slow means of travel which prevailed in frontier America in the early thirties, it would be late fall before they could return with their families to establish homes.
1 Linn, Story of the Mormons (New York, 1902), p. 168; also Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 64.
With the return of the Council of Seven High Priests in the fall of 1831, the United Order began to function. The intention, according to the "program", was to purchase the holdings of all of the old settlers, who would sell, in Independence, and in the surrounding country, particularly to the west, and also to buy government land within this district when it should be offered for sale. When this program was formulated it is doubtful if there were as many as three hundred families in the Church, and the big majority of these were poor. But new converts were being made daily and, since there was considerable vigor in the new church, it was hoped that the necessary money would be forthcoming in due time.
The temple site, with quite a large tract surrounding it, containing 63 acres, was purchased outright for the church by Bishop Partridge, in 1831.1
The land for the members was purchased largely through the agent, Sidney Gilbert. Fortunately, a considerable body of government land was located in Jackson County, and this land was opened up for sale soon after the Mormons arrived. The act of Congress of March 6, 1820, authorizing the formation of a constitution and a state government for Missouri, provided also for the setting aside of one entire township (46.080 acres). This land was to be used solely for the benefit of a seminary of learning. It was to be designated by the President, and was to be vested in the state legislature. The commissioner who made the selection for the President of the seminary lands annoyed the early settlers by making large selections in Jackson County. Here the early settlers had simply located on land which was new and had never been in the market. The location of the seminary lands in Jackson County (then a part of Lafayette County), was therefore an annoyance to these people, since a large amount of land was thrown out of the market. However, on December 31, 1830, the General Assembly passed on act providing for the sale of these lands, after six months notice, at a price not less than
Jensen and Stevenson, Infancy of the Church (Salt Lake City, 1889), p. 6. This interesting piece of ground is now owned by a number of different parties, but the temple site itself is in the possession of the Hendrickites, whose abstract of title, costing $50.00 shows, however, some breaks in the chain. They have, no doubt, as good a title as can be procured. c.f., supra, p. 6.
$2.00 per acre.1 Sales were made of seminary, and also of public lands in the fall of 1831, at Independence, Palmyra, and Benton." An act passed January 17, 1831, provided for the division of 80 acres of seminary lands adjoining Independence into lots, and for their sale at auction no lot of one acre or less to be sold for less than $10.00, nor any lot of more than one acre for less than $5.00 per acre. Sales of seminary lands were also made in 1833. After May, 1835, they were disposed of by private entry in the same manner and for the same price as United States lands were disposed of "in sections, half sections, quarter sections, half quarter sections, or quarter quarter sections." The receipts in the state Treasury having reached $70,000, the legislature of 1838-39 proceeded to find a location for the State University, or Seminary of learning. Five commissioners were appointed, and on June 24, 1839, these men located the University at Columbia, Boone County, that county having made the largest bid.R
Through their purchase of seminary lands, the Mormons thus assisted in providing the initial funds which brought about the establishment of the University of Missouri.
During this period the National Government was disposing of its public lands in blocs as small as 80 acres at $1.25 per acre. The terms were for cash, but were very much in the interest of the purchaser. Indeed, the period 1820-1841 is sometimes designated under the caption "Sales to suit Purchaser." Either large or small areas could be purchased. The unit of areas had gradually been reduced, says Mr. Leifur Magnusson:
"From township and eight section areas to single sections (640 acres), half sections (320 acres), quarter sections (160 acres), and half quarter sections (80 acres). This reduction was intended to encourage the taking of small holdings and to attract the individual settler. The price was reduced from the prevailing one of $2.00 per acre to $1,25. The sales were both public and private and payment was by cash. They were consummated without special proclamation and proceeded after the fashion of ordinary private real estate transfers."
Clearly then, with good seminary lands at $2.00 per acre and public lands at $1.25 per acre, no great amount of capital was necessary in order to get a foothold.
While the idea of buying up all the surrounding country was not lost sight of, it was but natural because of the poverty
1 Laws of Missouri, p. 37.
2 C. R. Barnes and others: Commonwealth of the State of Missouri (St. Louis, 1887), pp. 22, 252-53.
3 Laws of Missouri, 1830, p. 92.
4 Laws of Missouri 1835, pp. 576-77.
5 Ibid., 1838-39, pp. 173-87.
6 cf., Alphonzo Wetmore's Gazetteer of the State of Missouri (St Louis, 1837),
7 Leifur Magnusson, Disposition of Public Lands in the United States with Particular Reference to Wage Earning Labor (Washington, 1919), p. 10-a Department of Labor publication.
of the early Mormons to direct attention to the purchase of new land from the Government, which was not only cheap, but was better land than much of that owned by the old settlers, who had largely selected the wooded hillsides for their homes.1 The Mormons filled up the open spaces rapidly, a considerable number establishing homes on the Big Blue River. Some were too poor to buy any land and simply settled as "squatters" on the public land, expecting ultimately to purchase their holdings. But this arrangement was anything but satisfactory to the old settlers, as is elsewhere fully explained; and it became evident to the Mormon leaders that the vitally important thing was to buy out the improved lands.3 To accomplish this, help must be had from the church membership in the branches located in the states farther east. Many of these people were comfortably situated with homes and farms. Would they be willing to sell out and buy in Jackson County? Some of them no doubt were willing, but they required time, in which to make satisfactory sales of their property. Others held back. It became a question whether the church could, with the aid of those who had means, and supplemented by the work of the elders who daily made converts, raise sufficient money to buy out the old settlers before the rising wrath of these people made conflict inevitable. The conflict came. During the winter and spring of 1833-4 efforts were made to raise enough men and enough money in the East to handle the situation. But on short notice only small sums could be secured. Possibly some felt that under the conditions which maintained there at that time Missouri was an unsafe place in which to invest their money. At any rate the amounts raised were small. For instance, at a meeting at Kirtland, Ohio, April 17, 1833, $29.68 was donated; on April 21, 1834, at a conference at New Portage, Ohio, $66.37 was gathered; while at another meeting at Kirtland, about the last of April, $251.60 was turned over. When Zion's Camp left for Missouri, a considerable amount of provisions, consisting of food and clothing, was taken along for the exiled members in Missouri. But when it come to the big test of purchasing the old settlers' possessions on the terms submitted by them on June 16, 1834, the Mormons were utterly unable to do so. They needed more time.
Some purchases of land were made in Kirtland, in 1833, which must be taken account of here, for the reason that this property was secured as a part of the United Order effort. The Millenial Star contains the following account of these farms:
1 See Linn, op.cit., pp. 161-2; also Roberts, op.cit., vol. 5, p. 607.
2 Caswell, op. cit., pp. 112-4.
3 Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 63:25-29.
4 Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 1073-4.
5 For further particulars concerning those terms see Chapter XII.