When Elijah Abel joined the Church in 1832, many members were preparing to move to Missouri to build up Zion. But things were complicated for Abel. Under Missouri law, a free black person like him could be thrown out of the state, jailed, or whipped for failing to provide proof of citizenship. Anyone found guilty of helping an undocumented free black person immigrate could be fined $500—a massive sum for the time. Laws as well as attitudes stood in the way of building a city that could live up to the Book of Mormon standard of inviting all, “black and white, bond and free” to come unto Christ.
See William W. Phelps, “Free People of Color,” Evening and Morning Star, vol. 14 (July 1833), 218; 2 Nephi 26:33