The Perpetual Emigrating Fund
From 1855 to 1887, approximately 85,000 converts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to Utah with the help of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund. Soon after its organization the Church maintained a shipping agency at Liverpool, England, and a managing conductor received the emigrants at the United States Port of Entry and sent them on to the outfitting post from which place the Saints were organized into companies under the direction of outfitting agents and equipped for the journey across the plains. The company spent during the years 1853?55 about $200,000 annually.
During the 1860's, the Church sent teams and supplies East to meet the season's emigration at the railway terminal. Teamsters, together with wagons, horses, mules and oxen, operating through the Emigration Company, brought thousands of pioneers into the valley. "Three separate companies, sent east for that purpose, in a single year, 1866, included 456 teamsters, 49 mounted guards, 89 horses, 134 mules, 8,042 oxen, and 397 wagons. Totals for the entire eight year period included, 1,913 wagons, with approximately 17,543 oxen, and 2,389 men who crossed the plains to bring in immigrants. With the completion of the transcontinental railway in 1869, Church teams ceased operations but strangely the number of immigrants did not increase with the improved facilities for travel. In fact, in the eight year period preceding 1869, the total of immigrants brought in by the Church teams exceeded the number in the next eight-year period by 6,644."
The Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company was organized by the Church on September 7, 1850, and one week later it was incorporated under the laws of the Provisional State of Deseret. Brigham Young was elected president with thirteen assistants. The preamble to the articles of incorporation read, in part:
Whereas, in the fall of 1849 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did, by voluntary donation, create a fund for the laudable and benevolent purpose of facilitating the emigration of the poor to this state, and
Whereas, labor, industry, and economy is wealth, and all kinds of mechanics and laborers are requisite for building up and extending the benefits of civilized society, subduing the soil, and otherwise developing the resources of a new country, and Whereas, there are many good and worthy people who would gladly emigrate to this state if they were provided with the means, and
Whereas, we consider it a subject worthy of consideration and encouragement ... We the general assembly of the State of Deseret do ordain and establish the following ordinance.
An Ordinance incorporating the Perpetual Emigrating Company: Sec. 1. Be it ordained by the General Assembly of the State of Deseret that the General or a Special Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to be called at such time and place as the First Presidency of said Church shall appoint?is hereby authorized to elect, by a majority, a company of not less than thirteen men, one of whom shall be designated as their President, and the others Assistants.
Sec. 2. This Company is hereby made and constituted a body corporate under the name and style of the Perpetual Emigrating Company; and shall have perpetual succession, and may have and use a common seal, which they may alter at pleasure.
Sec. 3. This Company, under the name and style aforesaid, shall have power to sue, and be sued, plead and be impleaded, defend and be defended, in all the Courts of law or equity, and in all actions whatsoever; to purchase, receive, and hold property, real and personal; to receive, either by donation on deposit, or otherwise, money, gold dust, grain, horses, mules. cows, oxen, sheep, young stock of all kinds, as well as any and every kind of valuables, or property, whatsoever; to emit bills of credit and exchange; to sell, lease, convey, or dispose of property, real and personal; and finally to do and perform any and all such acts as shall he necessary and proper for the interest, protection, convenience or benefit of said Company.
Sec. 4. A majority of said Company at Head Quarters shall form a quorum, to do business, and shall elect from their number a Secretary, Treasurer, and Recorder; and shall have power to select and appoint all other officers and agents necessary to transact the business of the Company.
Sec. 5. It shall be the duty of the President of the Company to superintend all the business of the Company; he shall also sign all certificates, bills, vouchers, as well as all the papers and documents pertaining to the general business of the Company, which shall be countersigned by the secretary.
Sec. 6. It shall be the duty of the Recorder to record in a fair and legible hand, all the general business transactions of the Company, in good and sufficient books suitable for the purpose, which he shall procure at the expense of the Company, and safely keep and preserve the same. He shall also make a faithful and accurate record of all donations to the Fund, of the names of persons donating, the amount, kind of property, etc., in books separate and apart from any other entries, and safely keep and preserve all the books and papers of the Company; the said books being free to the inspection and examination of all persons interested.
Sec. 7. The President and Assistants, shall individually give bond and security in the sum of not less than ten thousand dollars to be approved by the First Presidency of said Church, and filed in the General Church Recorder's office.
Sec. 8 The Secretary, Treasurer and Recorder, and all other officers or agents appointed by the Company, shall give bond and security to be approved by the President of the Company, and filed in the Company Recorder's office; and all the Company shall be responsible for the acts of all officers and agents so appointed.
Sec. 9. There shall be a general settlement of all the business transactions of the Company, so far as returns are received from abroad, as often as once in each year; and it shall be the duty of all the officers and agents, to make out correct returns of all their transactions; and deliver or transmit the same to the Secretary of said company, on or before the first day of December in each year; and it shall be the duty of the President of the Company to produce or exhibit a manifest of the same & file it in the Recorder's office; as also, a copy of the same in the General Church Recorder's office, as soon as practicable thereafter.
Sec. 10. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to keep an accurate account of all money or property received and disbursed by him and make returns as herein before directed.
Sec. 11. The Company being collectively responsible for their own officers and agents, shall have the power of substituting others in their places, or dismissing them or any of them from office, and it shall be the duty of all persons so superceded or dismissed, to pay over and to pass into the hands of their respective successors, or the Company, all moneys, property, books, papers, accounts, of every name and nature belonging, or in anyway pertaining to the business of said Company.
Sec. 12. It shall be the duty of the Company to appoint one or more of their number to travel on the business of the Company, to procure wagons, cattle, mules, horses, etc., as shall be necessary for the purpose of the Emigration of the poor; who shall also have the general direction of all matters and things pertaining to said Emigration, while abroad; and he or they shall also make their annual returns, as herein before directed.
Sec. 13. The entire proceeds of the business of the Company, shall inure to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund for the poor; whether arising from donations, insurance, deposits, exchange, increased value of property, or in any other way or manner whatsoever. And the general business of the Company shall be devoted, under the direction and supervision of the First Presidency of said Church, to promote, facilitate, and accomplish the Emigration of the poor.
Sec. 14. The members of this Company, shall hold their offices at the pleasure of the Conferences hereinbefore mentioned; but the First Presidency of said Church shall have power to fill all vacancies that may occur, by death, removal, or otherwise; and all such persons so appointed, shall qualify as herein before directed, and hold the offices until superceded by an election.
Sec. 15. No officer agent or member of the Company, shall be permitted to retain in his hands any portion of the funds of the Company, as compensation; but shall receive such remuneration as shall be awarded him or them upon settlement with the board of President and Assistants.
Sec. 16. All persons receiving assistance from the Perpetual Emigrating Fund for the poor, shall reimburse the same in labor or otherwise as soon as their circumstances will admit.
Sec. 17. The Islands in the Great Salt Lake, known as Stansbury Island, and Antelope Island, are hereby reserved and appropriated for the exclusive use and benefit of said Company, for the keeping of stock, &.
The following letter of instructions sent to Bishop Hunter gives the objective of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund:
"In the first place this fund has been raised by voluntary donations, and is to be continued by the same process and by so managing as to preserve the same and then to multiply. Bishop (Edward) Hunter will make the most judicious application of the funds in the purchase of young oxen and cows that can be worked effectually in the valley, and that will be capable of improving and selling after their arrival so as to continue the fund the following year ... Wagons are so plentiful here it is not desirable to purchase with the Perpetual Fund. Let those be assisted who will make wagons of wood, such as will be strong and safe to bring them here, so that all the funds may be appropriated to the purchase of such things as will improve in value by being transferred to this place. When the Saints thus helped arrive here they will give their obligations to the Church to refund to the amount of what they received, and as fast as they can procure the necessaries of life, and a surplus, that surplus will be applied to liquidating their debt and thereby increasing the Perpetual Fund. By this it will be discovered that the funds are to be appropriated in the form of a loan rather than a gift... The few thousands we send out by our agent at this time is like a grain of mustard seed in the earth. We send it forth into the world, and we expect it will grow and flourish, and spread in a few years to cover England, cast its shadow in Europe, and in the process of time compass the whole earth. That is to say, these funds are designed to increase until Israel is gathered from all nations, and the poor can sit under their own vines, and inhabit their own homes, and worship God in Zion."Source: Our Pioneer Heritage Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.