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History Independence

As persecution persisted in Ohio and other areas in the East, Joseph Smith suggested that some of the Saints settle in Missouri. In 1831, Joseph Smith received a command from the Lord that they should buy as much land in the Jackson County area of Missouri as possible (see Doctrine and Covenants 57:3-5, 58:37, 49-52 and 63:72). He also received revelation that Jackson County would be the site of the New Jerusalem at the time of the Second Coming. On August 2, 1831, the land was dedicated as a place of gathering for the Saints. The next day, Joseph Smith dedicated the temple site. Settling of the wild frontier land then began.By January 1832, more funds were coming from other members of the Mormon Church. In the spring, another 300-400 families arrived, and the area began to rapidly prosper. In June of 1832, the Church published its first periodical, the Evening and Morning Star. At the time it was the only newspaper in the area, so it contained national and international news and was read by Mormons as well as non-Mormons of the area. The Star also, however, printed Mormon Church news and revelations received by Joseph Smith.

Joseph Smith MormonBy the end of 1832 there were over 800 Saints in Jackson County. There were, however, difficulties within the Mormon Church. Some members were not following the law of consecration; there was jealousy and other problems. The members in Jackson County were warned to repent or Zion would suffer. In July 1833, the peace the Saints were enjoying in Missouri ended suddenly. The first settlers of the area and other non-Mormons became afraid and suspicious of the Saints. They did not like the huge influx of people moving into the area who did not hold the same political, cultural, or religious ideas as they. By this time, there were nearly twelve hundred Saints in the area. Independence also began to lose business at this time, because a flood had caused the Missouri river to change its course. This was also blamed on the Mormons.

On July 20, four to five hundred non-Mormon citizens met at the courthouse in Independence. They drafted a document that said that no more Mormons were going to be allowed into the area, and those that were already living there must agree to leave as soon as they could. The Mormon Church leaders of the area were surprised by the document and asked for three months to find out what the Church leaders in Ohio would advise them to do, but this request was denied. They then asked for ten days; this was also denied. They were given only fifteen minutes to decide whether or not they should agree to the terms. The non-Mormon meeting quickly turned into a mob which destroyed the printing office and press. They destroyed copies of the Book of Commandments and manuscripts. Luckily two sisters saw some of the unbound books and took as many as they could and hid with them in a cornfield. The mob then went searching for the leaders of the Mormon Church. Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen were tarred and feathered by the mob, because they would not denounce the Book of Mormon.

On July 23, the mob returned again, this time with guns, clubs, and whips. They burned fields and haystacks, and destroyed homes. Six leaders of the Mormon Church offered their lives in exchange for the safety of the rest of the members. Their offer was turned down, and they were forced to sign an agreement that they would be out of the county by April 1, 1834.

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