In 1837 the Eastern USA suffered an economic collapse. Many people lost their jobs, and as Banks went bust they also lost their savings. People were bankrupted and factories and businesses closed.
The Mormons, whose Bank also collapsed ruining many non-believers, became one of the more popular scapegoats for the ruin. This resulted in many Mormons choosing to move West in the face of increasing violence. The increasing population had made land hard to come by.
This combined with the desperation and increasing crime in the East forced people to consider moving West. The Crisis became a big PUSH factor in encouraging people to migrate westward.
1844 Joseph Smith Died
As the Prophet and founder of the Mormon Church he was the leader of many thousands of believers. He led them in a desperate search for a safe haven for the community to settle.
Smith would not lead his Mormons West as he thought it unfit to build the Zion for the coming of Jesus. Smith was shot dead in 1844 as he tried to escape from jail.
Brigham Young was the new leader of the Mormons and chose to lead them West, to Great Salt Lake where they settled successfully. This was an important turning point for the Mormons.
1848 Gold Rush 1848!!
Before Gold was discovered in 1848 by James Marshall, around 5,000 people per year were drifting west across the Great Plains. However with the discovery this increased tenfold by the following year.The 50,000 miners were hunting for their fortunes in California –many found one. The first miners – the ‘49ers – proved that large numbers of settlers could travel and live in the west. The paths and routes they used were easily found by later families who travelled west. By 1850 California was a US state. The 1848 Goldrush speeded up the settling of the west by Americans.