mormon studies, latter day saints, liberty, freedom


You wanted to know what we waited to move for, wrote Sidney Tanner, an early Mormon pioneer, to his family in the East. "It was to go to a land of freedom where we could enjoy the peace of society and our liberty. We did not want to live in a country where there was no peace, no liberty and its citizens [were] not allowed their rights." So much has been written about the Mormon Trail that one wonders if there is anything of consequence to be said. Surely all the prominent details are well known. And were it not for the fact that new sources continue to come to light, one might almost agree to leave the topic alone. However, on closer examination, one soon sees that a host of subjects remains unaddressed and several fascinating themes yet undeveloped. The purpose of this paper is to examine one such theme that played more of a role in the thinking and worshiping of the Latter-day Saint exodus than has yet been acknowledged--namely, their unfolding sense of liberty, a double-sided liberty that included both freedom from persecution and oppression and the freedom to worship as they pleased and where they pleased. It was a dear and cherished liberation bought at the price of sacrificed properties and lost lives that contributed enormously to the success of their enterprise. It also was abundantly attested to in their many writings, songs, symbols, and celebrations.

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Mormon Historical Studies




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine