Fundraising for the Saints — 1839

July 18th, 2012, by Kent Larsen

Two weeks ago I wrote about the fundraising attempt in New York City that was meant to help the Mormons who had been driven from Nauvoo. In fact, that was the second time that Mormons solicited funds in New York City for the relief of those driven from a state. The first time came in 1839, after Mormons had been driven from Missouri. Of the two attempts, the first was more successful.

In May 1839 John P. Greene was called as president of the Eastern States Mission,  and he arrived in New York City soon after, where he found a branch of less than 100 (about 100 had been baptized by this point, but some had gathered to the main body of the Saints, and others had abandoned the faith). Greene set about not only trying to proselyte, but also to help the Saints in Missouri. On July 4th, the New York Branch then held a fast for Parley P. Pratt, who was in prison in Missouri, and he escaped from the prison that same day.

By September Greene had also arranged for a fundraising meeting, in an attempt to help the women and children (often widows and orphans) who had fled Missouri and were camped nearly destitute near Quincy, Illinois. On September 16, 1839, Greene was able to make his case to New York City.

The meeting was held in National Hall on Canal Street. Greene had apparently come to New York prepared, for he had a letter from Illinois Governor Carlin verifying the need of the thousands of Mormons now encamped on Illinois soil. And Greene’s recitation of the situation was apparently quite moving, though delivered unemotionally, as described in the Christian Register:

Mr. Green proceeded to give a plain, unadorned, and, as is believed, unexaggerated narrative of the settlement of the Mormons in Missouri, of the constant outrages to which they were subjected—and the series of persecutions, which were only ended by their forcible explusion from the State, and the surrender, without compensation, of the lands and houses they had acquired by their own money or built with their own hands. Mr. Green was himsf an actor and witness in many of the scenes he described, and he related them without any attempt at ornament or appeal to passion.

Greene was also supported by a number of New Yorkers, who were generally not Mormon, including the chairman of the meeting, Charles King, son of the late longtime New York lawyer and former U.S. Senator Rufus King and later President of Columbia University. The meeting designated King as the chairman of a committee that would solicit and collect funds to be forwarded to those in need.

As of yet, I haven’t found any record of how much was collected and when it was sent to Illinois.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply