Multiple factors led to woes in Missouri

While Church members often blame the "mob" for the suffering of Latter-day Saints in Missouri, historians point out other factors that may have contributed.

The 1820 Missouri Compromise had made Missouri a slave state. Most Latter-day Saints had come from the anti-slavery North. By 1833 there were enough Mormons to fairly well dominate Jackson County politics and wield quite an influence throughout the state as well. Some of the Saints lacked good judgment and boasted that Jackson County was their Zion by divine decree.The Lord, however, placed the responsibility for the Saints' problems squarely on their own shoulders. Their transgressions included disunity, lustfulness, slowness in hearkening to the Lord, and failure to share with the poor. (See D&C 101:2-7, 103:1-4, and 105:2-5.) These shortcomings were in marked contrast to the ideals that must characterize a righteous people. (See, for example, Moses 7:18 and D&C 97:16-21.) The Saints needed further chastening and purifying, and the Lord promised He would be merciful toward them. (D&C 101:4, 9; see July 24 Church News, p. 14.)

The governor of Missouri suggested that the Latter-day Saints raise a force to work with the state militia in restoring the exiled Mormons to their homes in Jackson County. Section 103, given in February 1834, directed the Saints to raise such a force from among the strength of the Church. This group, known as "Zion's Camp," left Kirtland during May and arrived in Missouri in June 1834. Along the way the Kirtland contingent was supplemented by volunteers from other areas, bringing the total to 205 men. Zion's Camp also was to take provisions for the relief of the exiles who had by that time settled in Clay County.

When members of Zion's Camp arrived in Missouri in June 1834, they learned that the governor, who was anxious to avoid bloodshed and to find a peaceful solution, had withdrawn his offer to use the state militia to help the Saints. The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith to instruct the members of Zion's Camp as well as the Saints residing in Missouri concerning their future course.

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