Page images
PDF
EPUB

7. There was no past experience in irrigation to draw upon.
8. There were no railroads.
9. There were no government highways such as the Cumber-

land.
10. There were Indians, who were finding themselves dis-

placed by the white man, and who were at times

inclined to be hostile. 11. Timber for shelter was often far away and hard to get

and coal for fuel had then been discovered in only

limited quantities. 12. The problem that clothing and shoes presented was most

difficult to handle. Bare feet predominated in summer and worn out shoes with rag or sack covering

were very general in winter. Organized effort surmounted these obstacles. Trouble with the Indians was minimized not alone by considerate treatment of the red men, but by the fact, which was obvious to the Indians, that these whites were strong enough to protect themselves. The United Order may have failed to establish itself as a system but the lessons in sharing alike which it taught, were most potent factors in making successful the war against a reluctant nature, which gave ground grudgingly and responded slowly, although surely to a strong unity of purpose. When extreme need appeared those who had shared with those who had not. Shortage in capital was largely offset by the organized use of labor power. Religion was the basis of organization, but, by this time, the Mormon church was well organized and its machinery proved an effective means of using human energies of all kinds. Canals, roads, and railways were built. Sluggards found little room and scant solace in the ranks of these hardy men who were redeeming the desert with toil. Behind every movement which made for the growth of

1 D. D. Lum in Social Problems of Today (New York, 1886), p. 9, says concerning early Mormon colonization: “I am frank to say that do not believe that this conquest could have wrested from nature by individual efforts, by settlers, isolated from each other without mutual aid or assistant; nor that this mutual aid, under such circumstances would have been extended but for the religious bond which' knit the pioneers into a common brotherhood. The obstacles to be overcome were too great; nature presented too forbidding an aspect to permit of this great conquest having resulted from the unorganized and undirected efforts of isolated settlers. It was a warfare upon nature by drilled colorts, animated by a common feeling, and therefore, accomplished what a guerilla warfare would have been incapable of achieving. There was needed the unifying element of a deep moral conviction, nerving men's souls to withstand difficulties and welding individual interests together to form closer social ties."

2 The stern realities of the eariy days is preserved to readers by cryptic accounts here and there such as the following from James H. McKlintock in The Mormon Settlements in Arizona (Phoenix, 1921), p. 121: "There were the usual casualties of the desert country. In June James Davidson, wife and son died of thirst on the road from the Muddy settlements to St. George. Their journey delayed on the desert by the breaking of a wagon wheel.”

the country, the church buttressed itself solidly. The square blocked villages, with their wide streets, pushed their way from mountain foothills to lake fringe; from narrow valley end on the south, to snow-capped hills on the north; from valley to valley; and from state to state. Once planted they remained.? Unknowingly Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had planned for an empire.

1 cf., D. D. Lum, Social Problems of Today.

2 There were some cases of abandonement where experience found the location to be undesirable, for example, the settlements on the Muddy (formerly Arizona, but later Nevada) were abandoned December, 1870.

CHAPTER X

DIFFICULTIES WITHIN

A certain amount of friction is inevitable in everything new. The tractor, the automobile, the airship operate with labored motion until such time as the various parts have become fitted to their proper spheres. Then, if the machine is well made, friction abates, and smoothness and precision take the place of the former waste of energy. Even so, new social and economic orders have certain inevitable difficulties to encounter.

B. H. Roberts, Assistant Church Historian, in his History of the Mormon Church, points out that rivalry had developed between the two centers of the church at Kirtland, Ohio, and at Independence, Mo., due in part to what was regarded as a slighting of the older church membership from New York. These people had

ettled in Jackson County, but had been given scant recognition by way of appointment to office in the church. Kirtland converts, such as Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, Edward Partridge, Sidney Gilbert, Newel K. Whitney, Isaac Morley and others, were chosen for leadership, both in Kirtland and in Independence. Joseph Smith also made his home at or near Kirtland and this was a source of disappointment to the people of Independence. A further difficulty arose from the fact that the Mormon organization or system was only in process of formation at this time. Not only this, but many items of belief and of principle had not yet been enunciated. However, staunch in belief the membership as a whole might be, many would find their faith taxed through inability to assimilate the new features which were fast developing in the church.

In addition to such general difficulties, there were also others which had their basis in the changed economic conditions brought about by the establishment of the Order, and it is in these, particularly, that we are here interested.

During the first three days' journey down the Missouri, in August, 1831, after selecting the location of Zion and deciding upon a plan of operations, the members of the Western Mission quarrelled among themselves. The details of this disagreement have never been very clearly set forth, but it appears that Joseph Smith was irritable and some in the party thought that he was seeking for too much power.” Certain it is that today the position

1 Americana, May, 1919, vol. 5, pp. 467-68.

2 Ezra Booth, an apostate, who was a member of the Western Mission, makes some charges against Joseph Smith in a series of nine letters, which are published in Howe's Mormonism Unveiled. For a brief account of the controversy see Roberts' History of Mormonism, Americana, vol. 5, p. 380; aiso Kennedy's Early Days of Mormonisin, pp. 98-100. The letter of Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith, referred to later in this chapter, also makes reference to this difficultv.

1

of the president of the church is one of considerable power and responsibility. In those early days, when church membership was small, such powers probably appeared large to some and the church as a consequence top heavy. Filled to overflowing with dreams of the wonderful things that were to be accomplished, Joseph Smith likely had scant patience at this time with his co-workers, who, earthbound and guided not so much by the brightness of the vision arrangement of things. It is probable that some were nettled hy as by the experience of the past, felt some scruples about the new the Bishop being required through the “revelation" of August, 1831 to "impart of the money which I have given him, a portion unto mine elders who are commanded to return; and he that is able, let him return it by way of the agent, and he that is not, of him it is not required."

It is also likely that some of these men, while having become converted to the plan of the United Order, could see that if the consecration and the surplus were to be disposed of by revelation through Joseph Smith, no one would have any assurance as what would become of his property. Joseph Smith would thus have "monarchial powers" as it was termed, and such things as economic motives would be entirely absent. As our analysis of the United Order has already made evident, this was not to be the arrangement, for the proceeds of the general treasury were not to be used except “by the voice and common consent of the Order” and the proceeds of the sacred treasury only were to be subject to requisition by commandment or by common consent. But this ruling, while evidently the intention in the early revelation which exhorted to do all things by common consent, was not definitely developed until 1834 and, since the August revelation did authorize Bishop Partridge to use funds to pay the expenses of some of the members of the Western Mission back to Kirtland, it is not surprising that some were disappointed, and it is easy to see why it was that, while the Missouri River difficulties were adjusted, the idea back of them continued to give trouble during the entire Independence period.

Somewhat of a feeling of discontent grew, both among the leaders and among the people at Independence, during the winter of 1831-32. By spring, April, 1832, it became necessary for Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Newel Whitney to make a second visit to Zion, this time to allay discord. It is noteworthy that at this time as on many other occasions, Joseph Smith's pres

3

[ocr errors]

1 Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 60:10-11, Compare Ezra Booth's letter No. 7, published in Howe, op.cit., pp. 201-08, for corroboration of this view.

2 See letter of Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith, published in Times and Seasons, vol 5, No. 22, p. 721, also compare Ezra Booth's letters Nos. 1, 5, published in Howe's op.cit., pp. 178,195.

3 Doctrine and Covenants, sec. 104. 4 Ibid., sec. 78:8-12.

1

ence had an electrifying effect on his followers. Difficulties were forgotten and peace restored. It was during this visit that the important addition of a Central Board was made to the United Order plan.

But with the return of the church leaders to Kirtland, the adjustment of differences proved to be a temporary one and dissatisfaction broke out in a more pronounced way. The establishment of a Central Board was a step forward in establishing a desirable all-around plan, but the real trouble at Independence was a feeling that the direction of the Order (their Order) had been too much with those who lived away from Independence, and this included Joseph Smith, who made his home at or near Kirtland. The arrangement placed power in the hands of five men, but three of these, Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Newel Whitney lived at Kirtland.

True, the Order had been strengthened, but they thought at the wrong end. Some of the Independence leaders would not have been troubled so much by this arrangement, had not the great obstacles with which they were surrounded pressed with increasing weight upon them. Take the case of Sidney Gilbert. He was agent, in charge of the store, out of which he must make a living for himself and family. Later, since the publication of the Commandments was a slow process, this store was called upon to support the Literary Firm.? This meant furnishing supplies to the families of Martin Harris, W. W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer. The other two members of the Literary Firm, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, since they lived at Kirtland, probably received their support, at this time, through the store at Kirtland. To increase his burdens further the

poor

in large numbers crowded in, and wanted book credit.3 Where and how was he to get money with which to "replenish his store"? He decided to stop issuing credit, for he was business man enough to know that, as things were going, ruin was imminent. So discouraged did he become that he became somewhat ugly in attitude. Farther removed from the trying situation, and less informed on the essentials of business practice, Joseph Smith felt the import of the ugly words, but did not appreciate so much the necessity of a remedy for the situation. At any rate he upholds the cause of the poor and requires that credit be extended to them. Optimistically inclined, he felt that present difficulties could be overcome by the United Firm negotiating loans. Later, under im

us

1 Concerning his reception, Joseph Smith says: “We found the brethren in Zion generally enjoying health and faith; and they were extremely glad to we!come among them."-Joseph Smith, op.cit., vol. 1, p. 215.

2 See letter of the Presidency to the Brethren in Zion, June 25, 1833, published in Joseph Smith, op.cit., vol. 1, pp. 363-66.

3 See letter of Joseph Smith to Sidney Gilbert, dated March 21, 1833, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, No. 24, p. 754.

« PreviousContinue »