Mormonism in 19th Century America

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was an effort to create a more structured society.

The Mormon church was established by the economically unfortunate Joseph Smith, who published the Book of Mormon in 1830, named after the prophet he claimed to have written it.

The Book of Mormon -- Another Testament of Jesus Christ

The Book of Mormon

Smith's Book of Mormon detailed how a lost tribe of Israel arrives in America (before Columbus), and the members of said civilization were honored with arrival of Jesus in America after resurrection (second coming), but later generations within the civilization were immoral, and so were punished with darkened skin. Thus, Smith explains the origins of Native Americans in a religious context.

Joseph Smith -- America's Prophet

Raised in upstate New York, Smith founded the Mormon tradition and believed that the old Israeli-America could serve as a pious model for the modern, secular world. Smith was charged with treason in 1844 for conspiring against the government to win foreign support for Mormon colonies. After being imprisoned, Smith was forced from the jail by an angry mob and was shot and killed.

"I retired to a secret place in a grove, and began to call upon the Lord; while fervently engaged in supplication, my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in features and likeness, surrounded with brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon day."

-- Joseph Smith, History of the Church 4:535–536.

Brigham Young -- The Migrant Leader

Brigham Young served as Smith's successor after his death, and led a mass migration (one of the largest in history) to what is now Salt Lake City, Utah, where he established a Mormon Church.

Mormon Beliefs

Mormons believe that there are more than one world and as one is destroyed another is created. God will share information about this certain world to only his Prophets. They also believe that all things existed in a spirit form before they existed in their physical form. The three main pillars of Mormonism are: The Creation, The Fall, and the Atonement. They also believe that the six days of creation were actually six periods of unknown length.

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” ~ 2 Nephi 2:25

A Mormon "baptism for the dead".

The Mormon Geography

The historical journey of Mormonism reached across nearly all the continental United States, beginning with Joseph Smith's personal revelation in the hills of upstate New York, and extending all the way to Brigham Young's settlement in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Conclusion -- What Was Attractive about Mormonism?

Mormonism's focus on the family unit, its tightly knit, often rigid, social and organizational structure, and radical religiosity all offered an escape from the constantly changing, newly industrialized secular world of 19th Century America.

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