From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Berrett, Lamar C.
The tenth Article of Faith of the Church states, "We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion [the New Jerusalem] will be built upon the American continent." From the Book of Mormon (Ether 13:1-5), early Latter-day Saints realized they had a role in the fulfillment of prophecy and were looking forward to the establishment of the New Jerusalem in America.
Anxious to know exactly where the promised city would be and when it would be built, the Saints were excited when in 1831 a series of revelations identified Missouri as the general location of the city of Zion, that "Independence is the center place, and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse" (D&C 57:1-3;45:64-66;48:4-6;52:1-5, 42-43). Subsequently, Joseph Smith also indicated that the Jackson County area had been the location of the Garden of Eden.
Independence, Missouri, county seat of Jackson County, was the preparation and departure point in the 1830s and 1840s for trappers, explorers, and pioneers who were going to western America over the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California trails. The Latter-day Saints, however, anticipating permanent residence, purchased land, built homes, prepared their farms, and dedicated a temple site.
After one year of living peacefully in Independence and vicinity, the Saints began to be persecuted by their non-Mormon neighbors. Social, religious, and political differences finally developed into open hostilities, and the Latter-day Saints were driven into neighboring Clay County in 1833, where they petitioned for a peaceful settlement so that they could return to their homes. A settlement never came, but Latter-day Saints still look forward to a time when the city of Zion, the New Jerusalem, will be built in the area of Independence, Missouri.
Anderson, Richard L. "Jackson County in Early Mormon Descriptions." Missouri Historical Review 65 (Apr. 1971):270-93.
Bushman, Richard L. "Mormon Persecutions in Missouri in 1833." BYU Studies 3 (Autumn 1960):11-20.
LAMAR C. BERRETT