Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Review: Expectations Westward

This book is completely titled Expectations Westward: The Mormons and the Emigration in the Nineteenth Century of their British Converts by P.A.M. Taylor. It is published in 1966 by Cornell University Press. It is an very good look at the migration of the Mormons by and makes several very good conclusions. It is not written by a Mormon, however the author did considerable homework in going through the old Millennial Stars, and other resources to compile some very good data about the Mormon migration from Utah.

55,000 British Saints migrated to Utah during the 19th century. While this was only a small percentage of the millions of British who were immigrating the United States and Australia, it represented 25 percent of the population in Zion. They made a significant contribution to the economy of Utah in music, business, mining, farming and religion. They now have a posterity numbering in the millions.

The author concludes that the migration did not mimic that of the Britain in general, where the primary motivation was economic. Much of the drive to emigrate came from a testimony of the Gospel and a desire to share in building the Kingdom of God.

However many of the converts in Britain were poor. This book talks about the Perpetual Emigration Fund and its role in fulfilling the goal of helping the Saints gather to Zion.

The author has several chapters which follow the migration. The description of the voyages across the Atlantic are very insightful. There were more death aboard a Mormon ship than other ships. The author points out that a Mormon ship represented the British population in general--old, young, women, men, pregnant women, infants and children. There was more contagious disease among the children, and more deaths due to old age. When the migration went through New Orleans and St. Louis there was death due to cholera and typhoid. The alternative resulted in 1700 miles by rail, and an extra 300 miles overland.

The pioneer migration, from 1847 to 1869 was very difficult. Eventually fast steam ships, and trains all the way to Utah made the journey less risky, but it still represented a major change in the lives of the people who were emigrating. I would recommend this book to someone who is wanting to better understand the Mormon migration.

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