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In the summer of the year 1850, during the course of an inquiry in which he was engaged on the subject of LABOUR AND THE Poor," the author of this volume had occasion to direct his particular attention to the amount of Emigration from the port of Liverpool. While pursuing his researches, he learned that, independently of the general emigration of English and Irish, amounting, during the fine season, to nearly 20,000 persons per month, there was a peculiar, but smaller stream of emigration, carried on in behalf of the religious sect known by the name of the Mormons,” or “Latter-Day Saints." He was informed that many years ago these people had established an Emigrational Agency in Liverpool, having ramifications in all parts of England, Wales, and Scotland, and that the number of Mormon emigrants sailing from that port to New Orleans, on their way to the Great Salt Lake Valley, in California, during the year 1849, had been no less than 2,500, chiefly consisting of farmers and mechanics of a superior class, from Wales, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, and the southern counties of Scotland; and that since 1840 the total emigration of the sect from Great Britain had amounted to between 13,000 and 14,000 persons. He was led, in consequence, to devote his attention to the history of the origin and progress of this singular sect, of which comparatively little was known. The results of his investigations were published in the Morning Chronicle a short time afterwards, in three letters of the well-known series undertaken by that Journal. The subject, however, was too interesting, important, and extensive to be thoroughly handled in the limited space at the disposal of a newspaper, and the writer was, in consequence, induced—having received, in the meantime, a large accession of new, valuable, and authentic materials—to extend these slight sketches into the volume now offered to the public. It presents the history of Joseph Smith, a great impostor, or a great visionary—perhaps both—but in either case one of the most remarkable persons who has appeared on the stage of the world in modern times. The author has endeavoured to disencumber the conflicting accounts of his disciples on the one hand, and of his enemies on the other, of all exaggeration for him, or against him, and to state with fairness what appeared to him to be truth. As far as he is aware, it is the first time that anything which can be called a history of this new religion and its founder has been offered to the public, either in this country, or in the cradle of the Mormons--the United States of America.
With respect to the Illustrations of this Volume, it may be stated, that embracing, as they do, views of remote places not hitherto pourtrayed, and representations of events in a wild and very partially settled country, they have, nevertheless, been derived from authentic sources, having been drawn from the rude sketches, or minute descriptions, of persons to whom the spots were familiar, and who were, in many cases, eye-witnesses of the incidents depicted. Such Portraits of the leading Mormons as it has been possible to procure, are from the pencil of a Mormon artist, and other subjects have been copied from prints published under the sanction of the sect.
LONDON, April, 1852.