We were pronounced clean, comfortable, and good looking. So wrote LDS voyage leader Matthias Cowley after arriving in Philadelphia with a company of foreign Saints in the mid-nineteenth century. At this time, Latter-day Saint European immigrants, obeying the call to come to Zion, were gathering to America by the thousands on the way to their Mormon Mecca in Salt Lake City. They were obeying the call to come to Zion. In 1852, the First Presidency issued the following counsel: "When a people, or individuals, hear the Gospel, obey its first principles, are baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, it is time for them to gather, without delay, to Zion; unless their presidency shall call on them to tarry and Preach the Gospel to those who have not heard it; and generally, the longer they wait the more difficult it will be for them to come home; for he who has an opportunity to gather, and does not improve it, will be afflicted by the devil."

Original Publication Citation

Fred E. Woods, "'Pronounced Clean, Comfortable, and Good Looking:'The Passage of Mormon Immigrants Through the Port of Philadelphia," Mormon Historical Studies, 6, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 5-34.

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Mormon Historical Studies




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine