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979 > Page 979 of Annals of the West : embracing a concise account of principal events which have occurred in the western states and territories, from the discovery of the Mississippi valley to the year eighteen hundred and fifty-six.

1839. MORMONS IN MISSISSIPPI VALLEY. 979 Smith. Against the army, thirty-five hundred strong, thus brought to annihilate them, and which was evidently not a mob, the fourteen hundred Mormons made no resistance; three hundred fled, and the remainder surrendered. The leaders were examined and held to trial, bail being refused, while the mass of the unhappy people were stripped of their property to pay the expenses of the war, and driven, men, women, and children in mid-winter, from the State naked and starving. Multitudes of them were forced to encamp without tents, and with scarce any clothes or food, on the bank of the Mississippi, which was too full of ice for them to cross. The people of Illinois, however, received the fugitives, when they reached the eastern shore, with open arms, and the saints entered upon a new, and yet more surprising series of adventures, than those they had already passed through. The Mormons found their way from Missouri into the neighboring State, through the course of the year 1839, and missionaries were sent abroad to paint their sufferings, and ask relief for those who were thus persecuted because of their religious views; although their religious views appear to have had little or nothing to do wdth the opposition experienced by them in Missouri. After wandering for a time in uncertainty, the saints fixed upon the site of Commerce, a village on the east bank of the Mississippi, as the spot upon which to rest; and there, in the spring of 1840, began the city of Nauvoo, to which place, by means of new arrivals, accessions by hundreds were added monthly. As political strife was very violent about this time, with its ordinary concomitant of corruption, it is not to be wondered at, that the politicians of each party were but too eager to curry favor with these people, whose votes were valuable, and whose advent was therefore at once seized upon, by the respective leaders, as a means of party aggrandizement. The following extract, taken from "Ford's Illinois," will show how the Mormons managed to reap the advantages of this spirit of political servility: "At the legislature of Illinois, session 1840-41, it became a matter of great interest with both parties, to conciliate these people. They were already numerous, and were fast increasing by emigration from all parts. It was evident that they were to possess much power iu elections. They had already signified their intention of joining neither party further thau they could be assisted in matters of immediate interest by that party; and in readiness to vote en masse for such persous as were willing to do them most service.