Leaving Home

In Victorian times many merchants in Liverpool enjoyed newfound prosperity, living in elegant homes on fashionable streets.
But away from the classical buildings and broad avenues, the city was dark, crowded and dirty. Most people lived in squalor.  
Narrow streets were filled with homeless children and barefoot beggars. Broken-down peddlers and people sold goods of every description and kind, including themselves. Diseases ran rampant.
Mormon missionaries from America (shown above) found eager converts. Seeking a spiritual anchor, and desperate from hunger and poverty, tens of thousands heeded the call to gather to the “Promised Land” in the Utah Territory, to a “land that will supply all your wants.”
The Latter-day Saint Prophet Brigham Young wrote, “Almost without exception it is the poor that receive the Gospel.”
The port of Liverpool was the point of departure. The wharf was a “noisy, smoky city of ships,” filled with vessels from countries around the world.
As the wharf receded, many immigrants wondered if they would ever see their homeland again, and many would die before reaching America. One convert wrote, “I was alone. The company with which I was to sail was all strangers to me. When I … saw the ocean that would soon roll between me and all I loved, my heart almost failed me.”
Writer Charles Dickens, who had come aboard a Mormon ship to write an exposé, was instead surprised at the “steadiness of purpose and much undemonstrative self-respect among this class.”
“It is surprising to me that these people are all so cheery, and make so little of the immense distance before them,” Dickens wrote. “By what successful means, a special aptitude for organisation had been infused into these people, I am, of course, unable to report. But I know that, even now, there was no disorder, hurry, or difficulty.”
The Gathering