The Mormons had just arrived in Utah after their 1,300-mile exodus across the Great Plains and over the Rocky Mountains. Food was scarce, the climate shocking in its extremes, and local Indian bands uneasy. Never one to back down from a challenge, Brigham Young and his counselors in the FirstPresidency sent church members out to establish footholds throughout the Great Basin. But the church leaders felt they had a divine commission to do more than simply establish Zion in the wilderness; they had to invite the nations to come up to "the mountain of the Lord's house" as Isaiah hadprophesied. In these critical early years, when survival in Utah was by no means guaranteed, hundreds of missionaries were sent to every inhabited continent, proclaiming the Mormon gospel from Sweden to Chile, Hong Kong to Cape Town.The 14 "general epistles" sent out from the First Presidency from 1849 to 1856 provide a glimpse into church leaders' views of well-known events like the formation of Utah Territory in 1850 and the handcart tragedy of 1856, as well as insight into the day-to-day realities of life in the West. Woveninto each epistle are missionary calls and reports from the field, giving the Mormons a glimpse of the wider world far beyond their isolated home. At times, the epistles are a mixture of soaring doctrinal expositions and mundane lists of items needed in Salt Lake City, such as- shoe leather andnails.This volume collects the 14 general epistles, and offers introductions that provide historical, religious, and environmental contexts for the letters, including how they fit into the Christian epistolary tradition. Footnotes and extensive biographic and geographic register help readers understandthe people, places, and events described in the text.