When Alma O. Taylor arrived in Japan in 1901 to begin his mission, what does he state he was stunned by?
a. The size of their cities
b. The amount of people
c. How difficult it was to teach Mormonism
d. The controversy created by the elders arrival
On the other hand, during the years the Mormons were headquartered in Nauvoo (1839-1846), the city had a reputation among non-Mormons as a lawless place. The sentiment that Nauvoo was a crime haven may will have carried over to the Saints’ reputation as trouble-makers on the westward trail. Kenneth Godfrey’s study of crime in Nauvoo shows that the city attracted frontier outlaws seeking to take advantage of the Saints, and there was some criminal activity. At least one Church member was also part of the cause of the city’s poor image: a Church member, William Gregory, confessed to and was convicted of having “spread abroad certain slanderous reports and insinuations that go to carry an idea that much pilfering, pillaging, plundering, stealing, &c is practiced by members of said church and that such practice is known to and tolerated by the heads and leaders of the church.” One Mormon man was convicted of whipping his wife. The “non-Mormon populace of Illinois came to believe that everything that was stolen in our near Hancock County had been taken by Mormons and that all Mormons were thieves.”
But Church leaders never countenanced lawlessness; they worked hard to maintain order and justice. Godfrey concludes:
“The indictment rate is no lower than that of Marion County, Indiana, whose population was greater than Nauvoo’s [an indication that crimes were not tolerated]. These statistics [records of court cases] indicate that the crime rate was low in Nauvoo, as the Saints claimed. . . . Often perpetrators tried to make it appear that they were LDS or that they were acting for the LDS church. Many neighboring nonmembers, unable to discriminate between good and bad Saints or to know if lawbreakers from Nauvoo were in fact Mormons, came to believe Nauvoo was a hotbed of criminal activity. . . . Available records regarding Nauvoo’s crime and punishment indicate that images of Nauvoo as a crime haven contain elements of truth but are exaggerations.”
Violence and Disruptive Behavior on the Difficult Trail to Utah, 1847-1868, David L. Clark (BYU Studies, Vol. 53, Number 4, 2014), 89-90.