chuch history, mormon studies, latter-day saints, transmigration


The infamous extermination order issued 27 October 1838 by Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs caused thousands of Latter-day Saints to flee the state and seek refuge in Illinois across the Mississippi River. Illinois, established in 1817, had high hopes for its future, but just two decades later it was smitten, like the rest of America, with the economic depression of 1837. In such a needy condition, the people Illinois welcomed the Mormon migrants for three central reasons. Financially motivated, the state viewed the Latter-day Saint influx as an opportunity to raise its population to boost the economy through the collection of taxes. Politically driven, the Whigs and the Democrats sought to secure the Mormon block vote. Finally, and more philanthropically, there was a genuine humanitarian appeal, as evidenced primarily in the good citizens of Quincy who simply desired to relieve the Mormon exiles of their wretched conditions of homelessness and hunger in the winter of 1839.

Original Publication Citation

Fred E. Woods, "Two Sides of a River: Mormon Transmigration through Quincy, Illinois, and Hannibal, Missouri," Mormon Historical Studies 2 (2001): 119-47.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Mormon Historical Studies




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine