In the late winter and early spring of 1839, Latter-day Saint refugees began appearing on the banks of the Mississippi River opposite Quincy, Illinois. They had been ordered to leave the state of Missouri by the decree of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, and the state militia had enforced the chief executive's infamous Extermination Order.
Banished from Missouri and their homes, the Saints took the only route out of the state open to them—due east to Quincy, where they hoped the could escape the unspeakable atrocities of Missouri. The citizens of Quincy looked across the wide river and saw there the starving and freezing refugees, arriving in droves. Before long, hundreds could be seen lining the shore.
The people of Quincy were trouble by what they saw. Who are these people? Why are they flocking to our shores? What are we going to do? Their response became known as The Quincy Miracle.
The story that follows is the heart-rending history of the Latter-day Saints in Quincy, Illinois. It's an emotional story: at one moment you'll feel shock and outrage over the cruelty endured by the Saints in Missouri, and at the next your heart will swell with gratitude unbounded for the kindness shown them in Quincy—the same gratitude expressed in a most unusual way more than 160 years later in the summer of 2002.
History of the Saints is a private non-profit entity dedicated to the research and teaching of Latter-day Saint history. Dennis Lyman, Bryant Bush, and Glenn Rawson originally began working together as part of the Joseph Smith Papers and have continued their efforts to make early Church history as accurate, understandable and accessible to a general audience as possible.