A School History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 507 pages of information about A School History of the United States.

[Footnote 1:  Many did not know what the word “Omnibus” painted along the top of the stages meant.  Some thought it was the name of the man who owned them.  It is, of course, a Latin word, and means “for all”; that is, the stages were public conveyances for the use of all.]

%323.  The Owenite Communities.%—­The efforts thus made everywhere and in every way to increase the comforts and conveniences of mankind turned the years 1820-1840 into a period of reform.  Anything new was eagerly taken up.  When, therefore, a Welshman named Robert Owen came over to this country, and introduced what he considered a social reform, numbers of people in the West became his followers.  Owen believed that most of the hardships of life came from the fact that some men secured more property and made more money than others.  He believed that people should live together in communities in which the farms, the houses, the cattle, the products of the soil, should be owned not by individual men, but by the whole community.  He held that there should be absolute social equality, and that no matter what sort of work a man did, whether skilled or unskilled, it should be considered just as valuable as the work of any other man.

All this was very alluring, and in a little while Owenite communities were started in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and New York, only to end in failure.[2]

[Footnote 2:  Noyes’s History of American Socialism.]

%324.  The Mormons.%—­But there was a social movement started at this time which still exists.  In 1827, at Palmyra, in New York, a young man named Joseph Smith announced that he had received a new bible from an angel of the Lord.  It was written, he said, on golden plates, which he claimed to have read by the aid of two wonderful stones; and in 1830 he gave to the world The Book of Mormon.

After the book appeared, Smith and a few others organized a church.  Many at once began to believe in the new religion.  But the West seemed so much better a field that in 1831 Smith and his followers started for Ohio, and at Kirtland established a Mormon community.  There the Mormons lived for several years, and then went to Missouri, whence they were expelled, partly because they were an antislavery people.  In 1840 they settled on the banks of the Mississippi in Illinois and built the town of Nauvoo.  At Nauvoo they remained till 1846, when, having adopted polygamy, they were driven off by the people of Illinois, and, led by Brigham Young, marched to Council Bluffs, in Iowa.  There they stopped to look about them for a safe place of abode, and finally, in 1847, left Council Bluffs for Great Salt Lake, then in the dominions of Mexico.[1]

[Footnote 1:  Kennedy’s Early Days of Mormonism.]


1.  The rise of the new states in the West, and the appearance of the steamboat on the Mississippi, were the causes of a great revival of public interest in internal improvements.

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A School History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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