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The Mormon Gold Rush of 1849

Thomas Rhoads, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who had recently returned from California, left a sack with $17,000 in gold on Church President Brigham Young’s desk to pay his tithing. The sight left Brigham Young in a difficult situation.

On one hand, he just couldn’t stomach the thought of sending anyone to California. He taught fervently that the Saints should resist the temptation to leave their new home to follow “the god of this world.” On the other hand, the church desperately needed the gold to pay for goods in the yet untamed Salt Lake Valley.

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