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Mormon Temple at Nauvoo, Illinois
Mormon Temple at Nauvoo, Illinois

This illustration from Henry Lewis' Das Illustrirte Mississipithal depicts the large temple built by the Church of Latter-Day Saints (or Mormons) at Nauvoo, Illinois. The Mormons came to Illinois in 1832, fleeing persecution in Missouri. By 1842 Nauvoo had become a city of at least 12,000, the largest in Illinois. Thousands of other Latter-Day Saints lived nearby. The church erected a massive temple. Insisting upon controlling local institutions, the Latter-Day Saints assembled the Nauvoo Legion, a well-trained Mormon army provided cannon by Springfield officials eager to court the bloc-voting sect. The Mormons' exclusive social and economic organization and clumsy attempts to influence Illinois politics quickly led to controversy with other Illinoisans. By 1844 Illinois Governor Thomas Ford had called out the state militia to quell the growing conflict. In June of that year an anti-Mormon mob rushed the jail holding the Saints' leader Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum and murdered them. Despite the governor's ineffectual efforts to keep the peace, lawlessness persisted for two years in what has come to be known as the Mormon War. In 1846 the Mormons quit Illinois and began their trek to Deseret, the modern Salt Lake Valley of Utah.

Image source: Minnesota Historical Society
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project