Early Latter-day Saints saw the world through martyrological lenses. To suffer persecution was the ultimate sign of chosenness and the Saints themselves used the memory their persecutions to draw distinct boundaries between themselves and their neighbors that had not suffered. Given this persecution discourse, many Nauvoo Saints that had not been in Missouri in 1838 yearned to be persecuted as had been their brethren. The following excerpt from a letter written by Bishop Alanson Ripley, who had been in Missouri, shows how the Saints negotiated these boundaries to include those that had not actually suffered persecution.
The appeal of the church to the American people, clearly and understandingly sets forth the outrages practised upon the saints by the mob in the State of Missouri, a parallel of which cannot be produced in the annals of history since the days of our saviour; for we were stoned, we were whipped, we were robbed, we were imprisoned, and plundered, of all we possessed, and many of the saints sealed their testimony with their blood. But thanks be to our God, we take the spoiling of our goods[,] and the wasting of substance joyfully, knowing that we have a building of God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens, and being expelled as we were from our homes, and plundered of all our property, renders us almost destitute of means to carry on the works which the Lord our God has commanded us to do…
[W]e firmly believe that the brethren who have funds will notice this appeal and come to our aid, and give us influence, so that they may be heirs with those who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this obtain a knowledge that the course of life which they pursue is according to the will of God.—See book of covenants, lecture 6, 9th paragraph.
It is vain for persons to fancy themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith with God and favor with him, so as to obtain eternal life, unless they, in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain a knowledge that they are accepted of him.
 Historian Stephen J. Fleming argues that “Mormonism gave the particularly romantic the potential opportunity to suffer for conscience sake. [Edward] Hunter felt that he had missed out on something by joining Mormonism after the Missouri expulsion. Shortly before his death, Joseph Smith asked Hunter to go talk to the governor of Illinois, explaining, “‘You have always wished to have been with us from the commencement. If you go to Springfield and do this business for me now in this time of danger, it shall be as though you had been in Missouri and had always been with us.'” [HC 6:492] In this way, Mormonism allowed these converts to live out their romanticized heritage” (Stephen J. Fleming, “‘Congenial to Almost Every Shade of Radicalism’: The Delaware Valley and the Success of Early Mormonism,” Religion and American Culture 17, no. 2 [Summer 2007]: 149).  Times and Seasons, July 1840, 137.