9/14/10

NAUVOO: KINGDOM ON THE MISSISSIPPI

by Robert Bruce Flanders

Both Mormons and non-Mormons will be fascinated by this exceptionally objective and interesting book written by a historian and member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Nauvoo, Illinois, today is a semi-ghost town on the Mississippi River with about 1,000 inhabitants. In 1845 it was the "City Beautiful" of the Mormon Church and, with a population of 11,036, the largest city in Illinois.
This book is a history of what became a romantic legend about a martyred prophet, a lost city, and religious persecution. It is a history of Nauvoo, a history of the early Mormon Church, and a biography of Joseph Smith's temporal, rather than spiritual, life.

Nauvoo (1839-1846) was a critical period in Mormon history. It was the climax of Joseph Smith's career and the start of Brigham Young's. It was here that Utah really had its beginning and the pattern of Mormon society in the West was laid: forms of social organization and control, the union of ecclesiastical and civil government, the notion of an independent Mormon nation-state within the United States, peopling a new country with convert-immigrants, and the polygamous family system. And as it was a kind of opening chapter in Utah and western history, so was it a short but vivid chapter in the history of Illinois and the Midwest.

The presence of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith dominates this book, just as it dominated Nauvoo. It was he who founded, planned, and promoted Nauvoo. It was his dream and his death.