Eyes Westward - Nauvoo, IL, US
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Chasing Blue Sky
N 40° 32.571 W 091° 24.035
15T E 635441 N 4489240
Quick Description: This monument, to the Mormon Pioneers who were forced out of Illinois and travelled to the Salt Lake valley, is located on the shores of the Mississippi River in Nauvoo, Illinois.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 9/18/2012 12:41:53 PM
Waymark Code: WMFA51
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 1

Long Description:
"In all of United States history, few people have suffered for their religious convictions as did the early Latter-day Saints. Because of the rapid growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and what many contemporary religionists viewed as the heretical doctrine of living prophets and modern revelation, many outsiders viewed Latter-day Saints with suspicion and contempt. During the first two decades of the Church's existence, Latter-day Saints repeatedly experienced the cycle of migration, settlement (including purchasing the lands they settled in), and expulsion. Within the span of 17 years, the fast-growing body of Latter-day Saints moved en masse from the Finger Lakes region of western New York state (1830-1831), to Kirtland, Ohio (1831-1838), Jackson County, Missouri (1831-1839) and Commerce/Nauvoo, Illinois (1839-1848), where their prophet, Joseph Smith, was murdered by a mob. In the dead of winter 1846, the Latter-day Saints once again abandoned their homes and began the long, hard trek to the Rocky Mountains, where they would at last find welcome refuge.

In all of Church history, perhaps nothing symbolizes the pragmatic nature of Latter-day Saint religion as does the city of Nauvoo. On the very hem of the western frontier, the Latter-day Saints drained the swamps, wrote an ambitious city charter, established a university, mounted a city militia, and built a temple.

To Nauvoo and its vicinity came the great majority of all Latter-day Saint converts for the next seven years, swelling the population to about 20,000 by 1846. At its height it rivaled Chicago as the largest city in the state. A vibrant, culturally eclectic place, it came to be known as "Nauvoo, the Beautiful."

The relative peace and prosperity of the Nauvoo period was short-lived. Political maneuvering for the "Mormon vote" at the state level had granted the municipality perhaps the most liberal city charter in the state, and Nauvoo was seen as both a political and economic threat by many in the older, neighboring communities. At the height of tensions, a local opposition newspaper called for mob action against the Saints, to which the city council responded by destroying the offending printing press. Amidst growing regional clamor for, once again, the Saints' extermination, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were jailed. On 27 June 1844, a mob stormed Carthage jail and shot the brothers to death in their prison cell.

Following the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, ire against the Saints rose rapidly. In 1845, the repeal of the Nauvoo City charter, which among other things granted the Latter-day Saints the right to keep a standing militia for their own protection, signaled the effective end of their sojourn in Illinois. These events, however, merely catalyzed a move contemplated by Church leaders for a number of years. As early as 1840 Joseph Smith had taught there was "a place of safety preparing for [the Saints] away towards the Rocky Mountains" (quoted in Ronald K. Esplin, "'A Place Prepared': Joseph, Brigham and the Quest for Promised Refuge in the West," Journal of Mormon History vol.9 [1982], 90). By the fall of 1845, preparations for the exodus were well under way; the proposed departure date would be, in the words of Brigham Young, "as soon as the grass grows" (quoted in Wallace Stegner, The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail, [1964], 38) in the following spring. But the mobs wouldn't rest. On 4 February 1846, in the heart of a Midwestern winter so cold and bitter the Mississippi River froze over, the Latter-day Saints were driven from their homes and lands down a street which came to be known as the "Street of Tears" and into the unknown mystery of the western frontier.

Although the body of Latter-day Saints grew rapidly, swelling the population of a number of frontier communities, the Saints were no theocratic usurpers: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may" (Articles of Faith 1:11). But as they gathered converts, they gathered enemies, leaving themselves, ultimately, no choice but departure. In a letter addressed to U.S. President James K. Polk in 1846, Brigham Young gave notice of the farewell:

"We would esteem a territorial government of our own as one of the richest boons of earth, and while we appreciate the Constitution of the United States as the most precious among the nations, we feel that we had rather retreat to the deserts, islands or mountain caves than consent to be ruled by governors and judges whose hands are drenched in the blood of innocence and virtue, who delight in injustice and oppression." Thus, they walked (quoted in B.H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 3:89-90).

"For Brigham Young and his associates, the 1846 exodus from Nauvoo, far from being a disaster imposed by enemies, was foretold and foreordained—a key to understanding LDS history and a necessary prelude for greater things to come. From a later perspective too, scholars of the Mormon experience have come to see the exodus and colonization of the Great Basin as the single most important influence in molding the Latter-day Saints into a distinctive people" (Reed C. Durham Jr., "Westward Migration, Planning and Prophecy," in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 4:1563)." (visit link)

At the west end of Parley Street, where it meets the Mississippi River, stands a monument to the citizens of Nauvoo, who were forced out of their homes, in the dead of winter in 1846. The monument consists of statues of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, the first and second Prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, respectively. They are standing, looking west, with Joseph Smith rasing his left hand westward, while Brigham Young holds the map of the Great Basin and the route to the Rockies.

The marker on the base of the monument reads:

"To Your Tents O Isreal"

On the anniversary of the 200th year celebration of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, this monument of His prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young has been erected.

In Nauvoo the saints heard the rallying ancient cry, "To your tents, O Isreal", in sublime faith and trust, such as history scarcely records, they obeyed, ready to follow their leader where ever he might direct their pilgrim feet. The scenes of wagons, impossible to fully comprehend the hardships those sweet early saints endured.

The first wagons left Nauvoo on February 4, 1846. This early departure, brought on by increased mobocracy subjected them to gale-force winds, torrential rain, snow, subfreezing temperatures and axle-deep mud. Most of the Saints were poorly prepared for this epic journey. Many were city dwellers from the eastern United States and England, skilled in many crafts, but unaccostomed to the feeding and harnessing of horses, oxen and mules, driving wagons and herding livestock. Through much work, sacrifice and prayer and under the inspiration of Heaven and their inspired leaders, these faithful Saints completed their journey west and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

To those early pioneers whom we love, honor and cherish; may your names be forever remembered.
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Chasing Blue Sky visited Eyes Westward - Nauvoo, IL, US 4/23/2012 Chasing Blue Sky visited it