LIAR, LIAR? PART I

ww_liar_liar_st_george

PART I:  WILFORD WOODRUFF & THE EMINENT MEN

Introduction

jim carrey liar liarIn 1997 Jim Carrey starred in a movie about a career driven, divorced lawyer and father who loves spending time with his young son, but his job keeps getting in the way causing him to continually break promises to the boy and then lie about why he could not keep them.  His frustrated son then makes a birthday wish that his dad would have to tell the truth for an entire day—which immediately comes true. This creates real problems for this rather shrewd lawyer, who thought that he was telling those lies for good reasons—to try and salvage his relationship with his son and excel at his career so he can reunite his family. As the movie ultimately shows the audience, Lying isn’t good (even for those who think there is nothing really wrong with doing so) because there are always unexpected consequences, or the classic “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

In Mormonism, this kind of behavior is called by some “lying for the Lord”. As lawyer and “apostle” Dallin H. Oaks explains,

Some have suggested that it is morally permissible to lie to promote a good cause. For example, some Mormons have taught or implied that lying is okay if you are lying for the Lord… As far as concerns our own church and culture, the most common allegations of lying for the Lord swirl around the initiation, practice, and discontinuance of polygamy. …The whole experience with polygamy was a fertile field for deception. It is not difficult for historians to quote LDS leaders and members in statements justifying, denying, or deploring deception in furtherance of this religious practice.[1]

Mormon General Conference Held In Salt Lake CityBut do fertile fields of deception justify lying? According to Oaks, no. But he doesn’t condemn those who did so, instead he states that he won’t “judge them”. In the course of this speech he also adds,

The children of God have always been commanded to seek the truth and to say what is true. The Ten Commandments the Lord gave the children of Israel include: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbour” (Ex. 20:16). The 13th Article of Faith declares that “We believe in being honest [and] true.” To be “true” includes appearing to be what we really are. To speak the truth is to give an accurate account of the facts (see D&C 93:24).[2]

On April 14, 2013 Rock Waterman composed an article centered around Wilford Woodruff’s claimed 1877 “vision” in the St. George Temple where George Washington and other “spirits of the dead” supposedly appeared to Woodruff in person and spent two nights demanding that he proxy baptize them as Mormons.[3]

Waterman writes,

For those who may not be familiar with the story (and I can’t imagine any member who is not), here is Wilford Woodruff’s personal testimony as delivered in the Salt Lake City tabernacle in September of 1877:

“I will here say, before closing, that two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights.  I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them. The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose, that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends and relatives. I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McCallister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others. I then baptized him for every President of the United States, except three; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them.” (Journal of Discourses Vol. XIX, pg 229)

It’s too bad Wilford hadn’t bothered to check the records at the endowment house, because if he had, he would have seen that proxy baptisms for the founders had already been done. Sometimes repeatedly.[4]

So the whole crux of the matter here, is whether (since they had already been proxy baptized) these “spirits of the dead” would have even bothered to appear to Woodruff to chastise him that “nothing has ever been done for us”.

So what did Woodruff do after he claimed to have this visitation? He claims that he went “straightway into the baptismal font” and was baptized by proxy for the signers of the Declaration of Independence—not realizing (perhaps) that someone else had beat him to the punch.[5]

This raises questions as to whether Woodruff gave an accurate account of the facts, and perhaps turned a desire, or a dream (he recorded many) into a visitation by the “spirits of the dead”. At least this is what some think. Others … aren’t too happy with this portrayal of events.

Wilford_Woodruff_c. 1835

Kirtland Era Painting of Wilford Woodruff

I. Not Lying, Just something Else…

In an effort to try and downplay this scenario, (that there was no need for the “spirits of the dead” to appear to Woodruff and that they told him nothing had been done for them, and therefore he lied about it) some have presented us with what they consider more plausible explanations for Woodruff’s actions. Amy Thiriot, a rather well researched Historian about Mormonism writes in an article titled “Historical News Flash: Wilford Woodruff’s Vision of the Founding Fathers”,

As I’ve worked on this project, I’ve found that people sometimes become very concerned that most of the Founding Fathers already had proxy baptisms done before this vision occurred. Wilford Woodruff’s note, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us,” leaves people wondering why the Founding Fathers would have appeared to Wilford Woodruff if their baptisms had already been done?[6]

Let’s see if she really answers her own question.

George F. Gibbs_c. 1887

George Francis Gibbs, c. 1887

First she tries to suggest that George Francis Gibbs did not correctly transcribe what Woodruff said. This really doesn’t work for a number of reasons, including the fact that Gibbs recorded Woodruff in 1877, and there was long in place a tradition of having the sermons that appeared in those volumes (The Journal of Discourses) approved and if need be corrected before they were sent out for publication.[7]

On August 9, 1876, George F. Gibbs was appointed the Church’s “phonographic reporter to the Deseret News”, and was so good at his job that Brigham Young made him “Secretary and Stenographer of the Twelve”, a position he held for the next forty years.  I know of no retractions or complaints that Gibbs had ever mistranscribed any sermons during his tenure at the News, or for the Mormon Hierarchy. To make this claim is very weak speculation, at best.

Secondly, she says that the Founding Fathers just wanted Woodruff to do the proxy work himself,—even  though it was already done—because  “he had a specific responsibility and mission to develop and alter the doctrines and practices of temple work including proxy ordinances, adoptions, and sealings.”  Alter doctrines? This makes little sense.

What exactly did Woodruff alter? Direction came from the First Presidency. For example, when the St. George Temple was dedicated, Brigham Young closed down the Endowment House. John Taylor reversed this after Young died. Specific examples would help here, but she offers none. And most importantly, would that invalidate the baptisms already done? Hardly, though others try to infer this without any evidence to prove it. In an effort to try and make Woodruff seem more important than he was, she writes,

When the temple opened in January 1877, Brigham Young was mostly bedridden and he turned the practical operations over to Wilford Woodruff. President Woodruff was in charge of developing day-to-day procedures for temple work, including figuring out the doctrine and practice of the proxy endowment.

Actually, Young was not incapacitated at all at this time. Woodruff was with him constantly during the first few months the temple was open. Woodruff’s last personal visit with Young was on April 16, 1877. But they still communicated by telegraph and letter.

On January 14, 1877 Woodruff writes in his journal,

I spent the Evening with President Young. He told me their was No Necessity of dressing in the Temple Clothing while giving the second Anointing any more than in administering the first Anointing or Ordaining. He also said that we should use the Bible in the garden & Bible & Book of Mormon in the Telestial room and add the Covenants to it in the Terrestial Room. [8]

Salt Lake City Endowment House

Salt Lake City Endowment House

Woodruff certainly had authority to run the Temple. But he was in frequent contact with Young in person, by telegraph and through letters, as his journal shows.[9] 

Her third explanation for why these men appeared to Woodruff to chastise him for doing nothing for them is really strange to me. She writes,

“…when he [Woodruff] wrote in his journal, he used interchangeable language to refer to baptisms and endowments. Note the repetitive language from January 9, “the first ordinances of the Endowments,” and January 11, “the first day in which Endowments…” He was not writing in error; the baptisms that were done on January 9 were a vital preliminary part of the entirely new ordinance of proxy endowments.[10]

What does how Woodruff describes proxy baptisms or Endowments have to do with the spirits of the dead claiming that nothing had ever been done for them? What she seems to be suggesting here is that there was some kind of importance to doing the two things together. This is ridiculous. If that were so, why perform all of the thousands of baptisms for the dead in the Endowment House where they were forbidden to give Endowments for the dead? The whole point here, is that the preliminary part (baptisms for the dead) was already done for the Eminents. A repetition of this preliminary part, was both superfluous, unnecessary and frowned upon.

She just seems to miss this point altogether.  Woodruff in describing the Endowments and Proxy Baptisms would also sometimes separate the two as he did here in 1891:

“…although Joseph Smith received revelations with regard to Temples, and the ordinances and endowments afterwards administered in the Temple at Nauvoo.” [11]

 Two years later, Franklin D. Richards also separated the two,

 “We go into them [Temples] and receive ordinances and endowments… “[12]

Wilford_Woodruff_circa_Kirtland_era

Wilford Woodruff, Kirtland Era

This proves nothing though. Since all of these rites are called “ordinances” by the Mormon Hierarchy, this point by Thiriot doesn’t really address the question she asks, why the spirits of the dead claimed that NOTHING had been done for them. The Ordinance of Baptism, whether by proxy or not, is still something.

She next offers the explanation that because many were rebaptized in the church for various reasons,[13] and some proxy baptisms were redone (for reasons unknown, but most likely because those that redid them were unaware that they had already been done),[14] that this is somehow significant to answering her question.  This again, makes little sense, because rebaptism was an ordinance performed for the living, not the dead, and was discontinued shortly after the turn of the Twentieth Century.[15]

So would the spirits of the dead be concerned with what was never a requirement for redemption? The spirits of the dead did not appear to Woodruff and tell him that their work was invalid and needed to be repeated, (the work that could be done up to that point), they told him that nothing had ever been done for them, which (in the light of the facts) was untrue.

Finally, she writes,

“Wilford Woodruff’s actual accounts of these events differ from how they have been portrayed subsequently in artwork and story.”

How is this relevant? In her footnote to this point she mentions one person, James Godson Bleak, who I will discuss later.  But really, what does this have to do with why the spirits of the dead appeared to Woodruff? Nothing, and so we see that Amy Thiriot doesn’t really give any other plausible explanations to answer her own question.  But she does give us a reason for why this issue bothered her enough to cobble together some rather speculative scenarios. She writes,

wilford_woodruff_c. 1842

Wilford Woodruff Nauvoo Era

“I am not going to put up with anyone defaming with [sic] the memory of the good people of St. George, and that includes Temple President Wilford Woodruff.”[16]

II. More Of The Same “Something else”

Did Rock Waterman and others like Brian Stuy defame Wilford Woodruff? Do actual events differ from the way they are portrayed by Woodruff? Let’s look at the evidence, which I believe actually supports what Rock Waterman wrote based on Brian Stuy’s research.[17]

But before we do, let’s turn our attention to another effort to discredit Waterman’s conclusions, and which prompted my response here. In an article titled “Rock Waterman’s Pants Are On Fire,” Geoff Nelson writes on July 25, 2014:

“If we add a little context and a small amount of additional information then most of the conclusions in Rock’s post collapse.”

I’m all for context and any additional information, so let’s recap what Mr. Nelson has added to this issue. He writes,

“…Rock argues that because baptisms for the dead had already been performed for the Founding Fathers that Wilford Woodruff is lying about his account of their visitation to him in 1877. The assumption is made that if they had already been baptized then they would not have appeared to Wilford to request that their ordinance work be performed.”

This is exactly what Amy Thiriot was concerned with, but didn’t really address. Let’s see how Nelson fares. He writes,

 “If we read the essay by Brian Stuy (which Rock cites) it becomes clear that Rock’s post is largely a retelling of much of Stuy’s paper. However Rock seems to ignore all the alternative explanations given by Stuy and instead lands directly on lying as the solution.”[18]

Did Stuy offer alternative explanations? From reading Stuy’s article it doesn’t appear that his conclusion is any different than Waterman’s, even with the supposed “alternate explanations”:

“…the issue is not whether Woodruff experienced a dream or a literal visitation of the Founding Fathers. I believe rather that the key question concerns the need for Woodruff’s experience. Since the proxy baptismal work had already been performed for all of these individuals, what reason would they have for visiting him, either in dream or by visitation, and how could they accurately reproach him that “nothing has ever been done for us”? Since proxy endowments could not be performed in the Endowment House, the only work they could legitimately desire would be their proxy baptisms. The only explanation consistent with the evidence presented by Woodruff’s testimony and the baptismal records from Nauvoo and the Endowment House is that Woodruff, unaware of these records, felt an anxiety about redeeming the souls of these distinguished figures and acted upon it.”[19]

Stuy claims that they ONLY explanation consistent with the evidence was Woodruff’s need to act. Feeling “anxiety” or “need” and acting on it, is not the same as having the spirits of the dead actually appear to you, as Woodruff claimed. To say so, (based on the evidence) would ultimately be untruthful, exactly what Waterman and Stuy conclude (Stuy—in  a nicer sounding way).  So what are these alternative explanations that Nelson claims collapse Waterman’s (and by inference), Stuy’s conclusions?

Rebaptism (Again)?

First, his article is largely a rehash of Thiriot’s article, and so he brings up rebaptism again. He writes,

It was common upon major events for someone to be rebaptized to renew their covenants as they are about to take upon themselves further commitments. Wilford himself had been baptized 7 times prior to this vision of the Founding Fathers. People didn’t blink an eye at multiple baptisms. It was normal.

Additionally, the church used baptism as a means of healing. Many, even children under age 8, were baptized for their health. In fact, for the first 4 years after the Manti Temple was dedicated, more baptisms for health were performed in the temple than any other ordinance for the living.[20]

It may have been normal to rebaptize the living for the reasons that Nelson lists above, (in fact, it was required before entrance into the Temple from 1877 to 1893)[21] but those reasons don’t apply to the dead, and those baptisms didn’t make previous ones invalid. A dead person doesn’t need any healing, renewal of covenants, etc. As for rebaptism, George Q. Cannon explained that repentance was really enough:

We hear a good deal of talk about re-baptism, and the First Presidency and the

George Quayle Cannon, c. 1851

George Quayle Cannon, c. 1851

Twelve have felt that so much re-baptism ought to be stopped. Men, when they commit sin, think if they can only get the Bishop to re-baptize them, they are all right and their sins are condoned. It is a fallacy; it will lead to destruction. There is no such thing in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is repentance from sin that will save you, not re-baptism. If you have been baptized, then, if you commit sin, repent of the sin, confess it, and make the confession as broad as the knowledge of the sin; confess it to your brethren and sisters, and ask their forgiveness: and do not imagine that when you commit sin you can slip into the waters of baptism and you are all right again. Do not delude yourselves, brethren and sisters. Sinners, be not deceived by such a fallacy. Something more than this is necessary. We need to repent of our sins, and to confess them to God. We need to come before the Lord with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and before the Church with the spirit of confession. We should not be afraid to confess our sins; for there is no man among us that is not a sinner. Of course, there are different degrees of sin, and there is a difference in the degrees; but no man or woman, in listening to the confession of another, need pride himself or herself and say, “I am not a sinner. Here is this poor creature, a sinner; oh, how I pity him!” If we come to God in humility, He will show unto us our sins, and our imperfections, and our faults; and we will feel merciful to our brethren and sisters who, like ourselves, are weak and erring. We will be full of pity for them, and we will forgive them. This is the feeling that should exist in every bosom when men and women who commit sin come and confess their sins and are humble and contrite. When Latter-day Saints hear such things, there is a feeling of pity wells up in their hearts, and their souls overflow with sympathy, and they say, “Yes, yes, we’ll forgive you, and we’ll try and forget all about it. Go on, dear brother, (or sister) repent, and do better from this time forward, and we will give you our faith and prayers.” That is the way Saints should feel when their brethren and sisters commit sin and repent of it.[22]

Rebaptism though, was linked to proxy work, but not in the way that some might think. D. Michael Quinn writes,

“Although baptism for the dead has traditionally been regarded as distinct from rebaptism, baptism for the dead at Nauvoo was also another form of rebaptism. Since 1840 sermons and revelations had provided authorization for already baptized members of the LDS Church to be baptized in behalf of their deceased friends and relatives.  Among instances of this practice within the Joseph Smith family were Emma Smith being baptized for her father, Isaac Hale; Hyrum Smith for his brother Alvin; Lucy Mack Smith for her brother, uncle and aunts; Don Carlos Smith for his “Friend” General George Washington; and Joseph Smith performing baptisms for the dead as late as 5 July 1843. Because each living proxy had already been baptized, the ordinance thus provided a rebaptism for the living proxy as well as a first baptism for the deceased, as indicated in a certificate dated 4 July 1841: “Catharine Fory renewed her covenant with the Lord, and was baptised in behalf of. …” Therefore, each person who was baptized in behalf of another person was simultaneously renewing his own or her own original covenants of baptism.”[23]

But again we see that this was for the benefit of the living, not the dead. Thus the issue of rebaptism in relation to Woodruff’s claim that the dead spirits of the founding fathers visited him is simply a red herring.

Note also, that George Washington was baptized by Don Carlos Smith over thirty years before he supposedly appeared to Woodruff (and at least twice more by others in Nauvoo alone) to supposedly berate him for being ignored.

WilfordWoodruff_c_1848Rights of Heirship?

Nelson then moves on to another alternative explanation, but is a bit misleading in his use of a quote by Brigham Young to try and prove that this is somehow relevant. He writes,

In work for the dead, there were “rights of heirship” which were to be followed. Brigham discussed this in an 1873 address to the saints:

“There are some inquiries now with regard to officiating in ordinances, which I wish to answer. Some brethren here are anxious to know whether they can receive endowments for their sons or for their daughters. No, they cannot until we have a Temple; but they can officiate in the ordinances so far as baptism and sealing are concerned. A man can be baptized for a son who died before hearing the Gospel. A woman can be baptized for her daughter, who died without the Gospel. Suppose that the father of a dead son wishes to have a wife sealed to his son; if the young woman desired as a wife is dead and have a mother or other female relative in the Church, such mother is the heir, and she can act in the sealing ordinances in the stead of her daughter. But if the young woman desired as a wife have no relative in the Church, to act in her behalf, then the mother of the young man can be baptized for her, and act as proxy for her in the sealing ordinances.…

For instance, a man and his wife come into the Church; he says, “My father and mother were good people; I would like to officiate for them.” “Well, have you any other friends in the Church?” “Nobody but myself and my wife.” Well, now, the wife is not a blood relation, consequently she is not in reality the proper person, but she can be appointed the heir if there are no other relatives—if there are no sisters, this wife of his can officiate for the mother; but if the man has a sister in the Church, it is the privilege and place of the sister of this man, the daughter of those parents that are dead, to go and officiate—be baptized, to go and be sealed with her brother for her father and mother. If this man and woman have a daughter old enough to officiate for her grandmother, she is a blood relation, and is the heir, and can act; but if there is no daughter, the man’s wife can be appointed as the heir.” 

The problem here, is that Nelson left out an important part of this quote. Notice the ellipses? What he didn’t quote by Brigham Young undermines his argument that right of heirship should have been followed, and therefore those that performed the baptisms before Woodruff were somehow wrong in doing so. Here is the entire Young quote with the omitted text in bold,

With regard to the heirship, I can not enter into all the matter tonight. The subject would require a good deal of explaining to the people, consequently, I will pass over it at present. I can merely say this, however, that we see that the Lord makes his selection according to his own mind and will with regard to his ministers. Brother Joseph Smith, instead of being the first born, was the third son of his father’s family who came to maturity, yet he is actually the heir of the family; he is the heir of his father’s house. It seems to us that the oldest son would be the natural heir; but we see that the Lord makes his own selection.

There are some inquiries now with regard to officiating in ordinances, which I wish to answer. Some brethren here are anxious to know whether they can receive endowments for their sons or for their daughters. No, they cannot until we have a Temple; but they can officiate in the ordinances so far as baptism and sealing are concerned. A man can be baptized for a son who died before hearing the Gospel. A woman can be baptized for her daughter, who died without the Gospel. Suppose that the father of a dead son wishes to have a wife sealed to his son; if the young woman desired as a wife is dead and have a mother or other female relative in the Church, such mother is the heir, and she can act in the sealing ordinances in the stead of her daughter. But if the young woman desired as a wife have no relative in the Church, to act in her behalf, then the mother of the young man can be baptized for her, and act as proxy for her in the sealing ordinances. We can attend to these ordinances now before the Temple is built here; but no one can receive endowments for another, until a Temple is prepared in which to administer them. We administer just so far as the law permits us to do. In reality we should have performed all these ordinances long ago, if we had been obedient; we should have had Temples in which we could attend to all these ordinances. Now, the brethren have the privilege of being baptized for their dead friends—when I say the brethren, I mean the brethren and sisters—and these friends can be sealed.

For instance, a man and his wife come into the Church; he says, “My father and mother were good people; I would like to officiate for them.” “Well, have you any other friends in the Church?” “Nobody but myself and my wife.” Well, now, the wife is not a blood relation, consequently she is not in reality the proper person, but she can be appointed the heir if there are no other relatives—if there are no sisters, this wife of his can officiate for the mother; but if the man has a sister in the Church, it is the privilege and place of the sister of this man, the daughter of those parents that are dead, to go and officiate—be baptized, to go and be sealed with her brother for her father and mother. If this man and woman have a daughter old enough to officiate for her grandmother, she is a blood relation, and is the heir, and can act; but if there is no daughter, the man’s wife can be appointed as the heir.[24]

Young also says, in prelude to the above comment:

If you recollect, you that were in Nauvoo, we were very much hurried in the little time we spent there after the Temple was built. The mob was there ready to destroy us; they were ready to burn our houses, they had been doing it for a long time; but we finished the Temple according to the commandment that was given to Joseph, and then took our departure. Our time, therefore, was short, and we had no time to attend to this. My father’s children, consequently, have not been sealed to him. Perhaps all of his sons may go into eternity, into the spirit world, before this can be attended to; but this will make no difference; the heirs of the family will attend to this if it is not for a hundred years.[25]

Brigham Young, c. 1864

Brigham Young, c. 1864

Did Brigham Young seem worried about time frames here? Not at all. This is instructive when trying to determine why the spirits of the dead would be in such a hurry to have work already done that would let them out of the prison house.[26]

Before I comment further on the above it will be instructive to relate what Nelson writes about the above quotation by Brigham Young:

This “right of heirship” was the policy of the church in performing proxy ordinances. Was it always followed? No. Frequently people did not know about details of church policy and there was no fast, easy means of getting information about them. It is clear that it Wilford was aware of this teaching of the right of heirship because he was concerned that he would never be capable of performing the temple work for his ancestors.[27]

This is probably the most important piece to Nelson’s argument because it would then require the “heirs” to do the proxy work which would invalidate the work done by others, thus providing a need for Woodruff to do them all over and have a reason for the spirits of the dead to appear to him. The problem with this is that it doesn’t work, for a number of reasons which I will discuss below, chief among them that Woodruff wasn’t an heir to the “Eminents”. Also, Nelson left out the part about doing proxy baptisms for dead FRIENDS, which made it seem like the quote was only about relatives doing work for relatives.

Let’s recap what Young was saying about the rights of heirship. It is important to note that Young declares that what he says here, isn’t all that he wishes to reveal about it beause that would take a good deal of explaining. This shows that there really was no policy in place about the “right of heirship”, but only what Young chose to reveal at that time, which was basically that it was in flux because “sometimes the Lord makes the selection”.

With that in mind, Young introduces the concept with an example that Nelson does not include in his quote. It is about Joseph Smith being the 4th Son, but still being the designated heir to the family.

It is important to note that Young had a much broader view of what constituted family and heirs. He also stated that it was the Lord who makes his own selection with regard to those who minister for him and are designated as heirs. Therefore there was no set policy, or you could expect lots of exceptions, something that Nelson does acknowledge as he claims that it was not always followed.

Young makes this clear when he states that “now, the brethren have the privilege of being baptized for their dead friends… and these friends can be sealed.”

What Young is saying is that it was the descendants right to officiate if they could, but that might not always be the case. This was taken into account when a policy was written up in 1905, and left any decisions about heirs up to the discretion of the Temple President. (see below) This essentially destroys any argument that work must be done by the heirs as some kind of set policy, or that this had anything to do with the “Eminents”. As early as 1847 Young taught,

“While treating upon the principle of Adoption He said some men were afraid they would loose some glory if they were sealed to one of the Twelve And did not stand alone And have others sealed to them. President Young said there kingdom consisted of their own posterity And it did not diminish that at all by being sealed to one of the Twelve but ownly bound them by that perfect Chain according to the law of God and order of Heaven that will bind the righteous from Adam to the last Saint And Adam will claim us all as members of his kingdom we being his Children.”[28]

Work for the dead was to help bring about this “perfect chain”, just as much as ordinances done for the living. To Young, heirship was not a rigid concept:

“I am entitled to the Keys of the Priesthood according to linage & Blood. So is Brother H. C. Kimball & many others [      ] Have taken Kingly power & grades of the Priesthood. This we would have taught in the Temple if time had permitted. Joseph Smith was entitled to the Keys of the Priesthood according to Blood. Still He was the fourth son. But when we get another Temple built then we will teach you concerning those things. Suffice it to say that I will extend the Chain of the Pristhood back through the Apostolic dispensation to Father Adam just as soon as I can get a temple built.”[29]

Young was waiting for a Temple to be built before revealing everything, which is important to keep in mind. Nor was heirship a rigid concept to John Taylor. As Abraham H. Cannon wrote in his journal,

Thursday, Dec. 18th, 1890: . . .Father holds that we who live on the earth now and are faithful, will stand at the head of our lineage and will thus become Saviors as has been promised us. Pres. John Taylor was not sealed to his parents though they died in the Church, as he felt that it was rather lowering himself to be thus sealed when he was an apostle and his father was a high priest; but this is rather a questionable proceeding.[30]

It seems that the apostles from Woodruff’s time just did what they pleased, further evidence that the right to heirship was not strictly followed nor enforced and so really has no bearing here. Why was it so important for family members to do the work for their own families when they could, but not so important that it could only be done by family? This was explained by Wilford Woodruff:

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1853

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1853

“You have had laid before you, during this Conference, some things pertaining to the redemption of our dead, and some things in regard to the building of temples. These, brethren and sisters, are important works. They are works which we do for others that they cannot do for themselves. This is what Jesus Christ did when He laid down His life for our redemption, because we could not redeem ourselves. We have fathers and mothers and kindred in the spirit world, and we have a work to perform in their behalf. As an individual I have had great interest in this work of redeeming the dead, and so have my brethren and sisters. This is a labor we must continue as far as we have opportunity. This principle was taught by the Apostle Paul. He asks, “If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?” This is a work that rests upon the Latter-day Saints. Do what you can in this respect, so that when you pass to the other side of the vail your fathers, mothers, relatives and friends will bless you for what you have done, and inasmuch as you have been instruments in the hands of God in procuring their redemption, you will be recognized as Saviors upon Mount Zion in fulfillment of prophecy.”[31]

Even Woodruff includes “friends” with family.  If it was the policy that the family should do the work, then why did Woodruff himself do the work for so many that were not part of his own family? Why did he feel the need to take away the recognition of family members as “Saviors upon Mount Zion”? To take that glory to himself? Perhaps this had something to do with Woodruff’s need to do the work himself?

Did the Lord make Wilford Woodruff the heir to all the “Eminent Men” on Woodruff’s list? Where is there any evidence of that? The evidence available leads to a different conclusion.

It is also worth noting here, that written instructions concerning the rights of heirs was not written up until 1905:

INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING TEMPLE ORDINANCE WORK

“…Those who do Temple work, or get it done, should be careful to designate their proper relationship to each one of the dead. A clear distinction should be made between blood kindred and those to whom they are married; the latter whom are known as relatives in law, thus a man is nephew-in-law to his uncle’s wife, cousin-in-law to his cousin’s wife, etc. If the dead are known to be blood relations, but the degree of relationship cannot be stated, the word RELATIVE is to be given. When there is no family connection, the word FRIEND should be used. The relatives, or friends[,] of a wife should be listed separately from those of her husband, and the work for her kindred should be at the instance of her brother, if he is a member of the Church, or of her eldest son. In the performance of work for the dead, the right of heirship (blood relationship) should be sacredly regarded. When practicable, relatives should represent the dead. The name of the individual at whose instance (by whose authorization or permission) the work is done, and his or her relationship to each of the dead is required for [the] record, if the relationship is known. As a rule, the eldest living MALE representative of the family, who is a member of the Church, is the recognized heir. Any individuals who are eligible may act as proxies for the dead but, unless the proxy is the heir, their relationship to the dead, if any, is not to be entered. It is advised that individuals having Temple ordinances performed should limit that work to persons bearing the SURNAMES of their parents and grandparents, and who resided in localities where those ancestors lived; that provides four family lines. To include other lines than those involves the probability of repeating Temple ordinances that individuals representing other families may have a better right to have performed. Every possible precaution should be taken to prevent such undesirable repetition. Temple work may be done for dead individuals who were married to your blood relations, but the family lines of such relatives-in-law must not be included in that work.  —Joseph F. Smith, ca. 1905; emphasis in original.”[32]

St. George Temple c. 1880

St. George Temple c. 1880

Still, it was only “when practicable”, that relatives should represent the dead. Did Woodruff himself violate the right of heirship by performing the work for the Eminents? Perhaps. Even though the instructions above speak of “undesirable repetition”, they do not say that previous work was to be considered invalid. So we see that using this as an alternative explanation for Woodruff’s claim that the spirits of the dead appeared to him claiming that nothing had been done for them is another red herring argument.

What is interesting is that ten years after Woodruff baptized the “Eminents”, he penned a letter to Temple President Marriner W. Merrill which included a response to James H. Martineau concerning heirship:

Marriner Wood Merrill

Marriner Wood Merrill

We send the enclosed letter to you for Brother James H. Martineau, and send it unsealed that you may read its contents and obtain therefrom our views concerning the principle alluded to by him. We must be more strict in enforcing the rule which is here mentioned in regard to heirship in our Temples, and people must not be permitted to follow their whims in being baptized for any and every body whom they may choose to officiate for; and persons should be questioned upon this subject of being baptized for those not of their own kin. We are satisfied that no man has a right[,] outside of his own kindred[,] to attend to ordinances for the dead without consultation and permission from the Presiding authority of the Church. But as this, perhaps, would lead to great delay and large correspondence, you as President of the Temple are authorized to exercise a wise discretion in permitting persons to be baptized for friends, when they satisfy you that they have no representative in the Church.[33]

The letters to Martineau read,

I think it is better for you to defer the ordinance of second anointing for this Indian girl who has been sealed to you since her death. It will be no los[s] to her for the present. As to the martyrs of whom you speak, we see no impropriety in having the ordinance of baptism attended to for them, especially if you know who they are: but before having them sealed to you, you should certainly have some knowledge of them and of your right to have them, as others may claim that they have a better right than you hereafter.[34]

And,

You ask if you are right in doing temple work for some noted Indian chiefs who are deceased. I am glad that you have asked this question because in officiating for those whom you mention, you have gone too fast. A man has a right to officiate for his own dead ancestry, if he be the heir, or if it be done with a knowledge and consultation of the heir, but he has no right to go into other families and officiate for them, even though they may have no representatives in the Church[,] without in the first place consulting the presidency of the Church.[35]

 Daniel H. Wells was in charge of the Endowment House and a member of the First Presidency when Haden Wells Church and John Bernhisel performed the proxy baptisms for the signers of the Declaration of Independence. There is no reason to assume that he did not have the same “wise discretion” that was given to Marriner W. Merrill.

Wilford Woodruff with plural wife Sarah Brown c. 1860

Wilford Woodruff with plural wife Sarah Brown c. 1860

III. So, Why The Big Hurry?

Brian Stuy points out that it was Brigham Young’s remarks at the dedication of the St. George Temple that perhaps motivated Woodruff to perform the proxy baptisms for the Founding Fathers:

What do you suppose the fathers would say if they Could speak from the dead? Would they not say we “have lain here thousand of years here in this prision House waiting for this dispensation to Come. Here we are bound and fettered in the association of those who are filthy.” What would they whisper in our Ears? Why if they had the power the vary thunders of heaven would be in our Ears if we Could but realize the importance of the work we are ingaged in. [36]

Woodruff would claim in 1877 that the concept of redeeming the founding fathers had never entered his heart due to his only thinking about close friends and family, but a year before he made that comment he said,

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1860

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1860

And if there is anything I desire to live for on the earth, or that I have desired, it has been to get a record of the genealogy of my fathers, that I might do something for them before I go hence into the spirit world. Until within a few years past it has seemed as if every avenue has been closed to obtaining such records; but the Lord has moved upon the inhabitants of this nation, and thousands of them are now laboring to trace the genealogical descent of the Puritan fathers, those who landed at Plymouth Rock, and whose descendants built up New England. Their lineages are coming to light, and we are gradually obtaining access to them, and by this means we shall be enabled to do something towards the salvation of our dead. [37]

Here we see Woodruff’s “need” to do something about those that “built up New England” proclaimed by him a year before the claimed visitation in the St. George Temple. Those mentioned by him above would be classed as “Eminent Men” (and women).  There is also something else that Woodruff was aware of, and that was the claimed vision of Ann Booth in March, 1840 which Woodruff recorded in his Journal:

I Ann Booth wife of Robert Booth of the Town of Manchester England had the following vision on the 12th Day of March in the year of our Lord 1840. Being caried away in a vision to the Place of departed spirits I saw 12 Prisons, one abov another, verry large, and builded of soled stone. on ariveing at the <dore of the> upermost Prision I behe[l]d one of the 12 apostles of the Lamb who had been martered in America, standing at the dore of the Prison holding a key in his hand with which he opned unlocked the dore and went in and I fol[low]ed him. he appeard to be of a large sise, thick set, darke hare, darke eyes, and eyebrows of a smiling count[e]nan[c]e, and on <his> had was a crown of gold or somthing brighter. he was dresed in a long, white robe, with the sleves plated from the sholder down to the hand. upon his brest ware fore [four] stares [stars] apparently like gold <or briter> and a

John Wesley

John Wesley

golden girdle about his Loins. his feet was bare from above the Ancles down<w>ard and his hands were also bare. as he entred the prison he seemed to stand about 3 feet from the floor (which was of Marble) as if the place was not worthy for him to stand upon. a verry brilient and glorie<u>s light surounded him, while the res[t] of the prison was dark. but his light was peculiar to him self and did not reflect upon others who was in the prison who ware surounded with a gloom of darkness. on the right hand of the dore stood Jhon Wesley, who on seing the glories personage, rased his hands and shouted ‘glory, honer, praise, and Power be ascribed unto God and the Lamb forever and ever. Deliverance has Com. the Apostle then commecd to preach the Baptism of repentence for the remision of sins and the gift of the Holy Gost by the laing of hands when the hundreds of prisners gave a shout with aloud voice saying ‘Glory be to God for ever and ever’. the marble floor was then removed and a River of watter clere as Cristall seemed to f[l]ow in it place. the Apostle then called to John Wesley by name who came fawrd quickley and both went down in to [fold in paper worn, obscuring the text] and the Apostle Baptized him and coming up out of the water he lade his hands upon him for the gift of the Holy Gost, at the same time ordaining him to the Preasthood of Aaron. the Apostle then retired to the place ware he first stod and John Wesley then proseded to Baptize a man by the [name] of Kilbham and next John Madison and Wm. Scott and John Tongue <who> ware Methodest Prachers with whome I had ben aquanted personly. the next he Baptized was my grand father

David W. Patten

“Apostle” David W. Patten

Edmond Whitehead. the next was my unkel Johon [John] Whitehead and the next was my sister Elizabath Oland, the <next> was Joseph Lancashere. next Samuel Robinson Robinson and the next was my own Mother. all these had lived and died Methodest and I had had ben personly aquanted with them all. and after this he Baptized all the Prisoners amounting to menny hundreds. after they ware all Baptized, the Apostle Lade his hands on them all and confermed them. then instantly the Darkeness dispersed and they ware all surrounded and envellopd in a Brilint light, such as suround’d the Apostle at the first. and they all lifted up theyr voices with one accord giving glory to God for deliverence. My gra<n>d fatheer then came to me and Blest me saying ‘the Lord bless [you] forever and ever. art thou com to see us deliverd? my mother then came to me and clasped me in hir arms and kissed me three times and said ‘the Lord Almightly Bless the for ever and evere.’ [38]

It was a month after the vision of Ann Booth began circulating that Joseph Smith preached his first public sermon on baptism for the dead in Nauvoo. [39] It may have been this vision that prompted Smith to publically proclaim the doctrine in Nauvoo in August of 1840, since Booth’s claimed vision obviously contains doctrinal errors. [40]

What is interesting is that Woodruff writes on July 5, 1877 that he had been reading from his first journal. [41]

Brian Stuy points out that Woodruff began reading about Daniel Boone in Evert Augustus Duyckinck’s National Portrait Gallery of Eminent Americans. [42]

Daniel Boone from Duyckinck’s National Portrait Gallery of Eminent Americans

Daniel Boone from Duyckinck’s National Portrait Gallery of Eminent Americans

This was just a few months after he spoke of “the descendants who built up New England”, which would include the Founding Fathers.  His journal entry for August 3-5, 1876 reads,

In my leasure moments of late I have read the life of Daniel Boone the great explorer & pioneer of Kentucky and afterwords Early setler of Louisianna and it is vary Strange that Kentucky should have Cheated him out of his land & home after locating the Country & fighting Indians 40 years. Also the Lands in Louisianna that the spanish Government gave him was taken from him By Congress and he never had any land given him untill he was about 80 years old and a short time before his death. His life was a remarkable one. He lived 3 Months in the wilderness of Kentucky 500 miles from any white men without bread, sugar, or salt in a Camp surrounded with Indians and was taken twice a prisioner by them & escaped. Built a fort gathered his family and white Emigration to it & maintained it through many years of Indian wars & was then deprived of his home By Lawyiers and Land speculators. [43]

However Woodruff got motivated, why did he feel pressed to perform the proxy work for the “Eminents” that he did in 1877?

Perhaps some further information on the spirits of the dead and where they go after they die might be in order and shed some context on Young’s 1877 remarks. In 1856, Brigham Young taught,

When you lay down this tabernacle, where are you going? Into the spiritual world. Are you going into Abraham’s bosom. No, not any where nigh there, but into the spirit world. Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of this organized earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this earth, for the express purpose of inhabiting it to all eternity. Where else are you going? No where else, only as you may be permitted.

When the spirits of mankind leave their bodies, no matter whether the individual was a Prophet or the meanest person that you could find, where do they go? To the spirit world. Where is it? I am telling you. The spirit of Joseph, I do not know that it is just now in this bowery, but I will assure you that it is close to the Latter-day Saints, is active in preaching to the spirits in prison and preparing the way to redeem the nations of the earth, those who lived in darkness previous to  the introduction of the Gospel by himself in these days.

The Spirit World

The Spirit World

He has just as much labor on hand as I have; he has just as much to do. Father Smith and Carlos and brother Partridge, yes, and every other good Saint, are just as busy in the spirit world as you and I are here. They can see us, but we cannot see them unless our eyes were opened. What are they doing there? They are preaching, preaching all the time, and preparing the way for us to hasten our work in building temples here and elsewhere, and to go back to Jackson County and build the great temple of the Lord. They are hurrying to get ready by the time that we are ready and we are all hurrying to get ready by the time our Elder Brother is ready.

The wicked spirits that leave here and go into the spirit world, are they wicked there? Yes.

The spirits of people that have lived upon the earth according to the the best light they had, who were as honest and sincere as men and women could be, if they lived on the earth without the privilege of the Gospel and the Priesthood and the keys thereof are still under the power and control of evil spirits, to a certain extent. No matter where they lived on the face of the earth, all men and women that have died without the keys and power of the Priesthood, though they might have been honest and sincere and have done every thing they could, are under the influence of the devil, more or less. Are they as much so as others? No, no. Take those that were wicked designedly, who knowingly lived without the Gospel when it was within their reach, they are given up to the devil, they become tools to the devil and spirits of devils.

Go to the time when the Gospel came to the earth in the days of Joseph, take the wicked that have opposed this people and persecuted them to the death, and they are sent to hell. Where are they? They are in the spirit world, and are just as busy as they possibly can be to do every thing they can against the Prophet and the Apostles, against Jesus and his kingdom. They are just as wicked and malicious in their actions against the cause of truth, as they were while on the earth in their fleshly tabernacles.

Joseph, also, goes there, but has the devil power over him? No, because he held the keys and power of the eternal Priesthood here, and got the victory while here in the flesh. [44] 

Young claims here the the spirits of the dead all go to a “spirit prison”.  Young’s remarks in 1877 seem to be a contradiction to his earlier teachings about the spirit world. Joseph F. Smith in 1918 claimed to have a vision of the Spirit World, which was later canonized. He wrote,

As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great. And there were gathered together in one place, an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality, and who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemers name. All these had departed the mortal life firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection through the grace of God the Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand. They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death. Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fullness of joy. While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful, and there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on condition of repentance. But unto the wicked he did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, his voice was not raised, neither did the rebellious who rejected the testimonies and the warnings of the ancient prophets behold his presence, nor look upon his face. Where these were darkness reigned, but among the righteous there was peace and the saints rejoiced in their redemption and bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell. Their countenances shone and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them and they sang praises unto his holy name. …jesus_spirit_world

I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotton Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead. The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, and after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions and are washed clean shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.[45]

According to Smith and others, the “prison doors” were opened by Jesus, who then sent messengers to preach to them. Those that accepted the Gospel were released from the prison and “the association of those who are filthy” . This is where many Mormon Authorities claimed that David W. Patten went after he was killed at the Battle of Crooked River when he engaged Missouri State Militia. [46] George W. Cannon explained about how this happens,

What is that Gospel? Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, who left His glorious abode on high and came on earth to endure and to die for our salvation. Repentance. Is it not a glorious thing to be able to say to a wicked man, “Only repent with all your heart, and God will forgive you.” This is what is being preached unto the spirits in prison. They are being told how they can escape from their evil surroundings and from the power of Satan. Then if they will repent, there are men on the earth who will perform for them, in places expressly dedicated to God for that purpose, those ordinances that cannot be administered there. They can be baptized for them, they can act for them in receiving the ordinance of laying on of hands, and thus they can receive the Spirit of God, and be snatched from the evils to which they have become subjected through sin, and be placed in the path where they can continue to progress eternally. [47]

This is exactly what was done for the “Eminents” in the Endowment House. According to Ann Booth, men like John Wesley and others accepted the Gospel, repented, and Haden Wells Church, John Bernhisel and others performed their baptisms and the ordinance of laying on of hands which enabled them to escape from their bondage and association with the “filthy”.  Five years after he redid the work for the “Eminents”, Woodruff declared,

Our mission is more extended and extensive than we realize. There have been no Prophets, no Apostles, upon the earth for the last 1,800 years, that we are much acquainted with, except Nephi, who dwelt upon this continent several hundred years after the death of Christ. There has been no one upon the earth with authority to preach the Gospel to the nations of the earth. Many  [p.331] generations have passed away. Many thousands of millions have passed into the spirit world. We are now at the end of the sixth thousand years. We are bordering upon the millennium. We are living in the great and last dispensation, in the which the God of Israel expects us, his servants, his sons and daughters, to perform the work which has been left to our charge. It is our duty to build these temples. It is our duty to enter into them and redeem our dead. Joseph Smith is preaching to the spirits in prison; so are all the Elders who have died in the faith. There are millions of them there, and they must have the Gospel offered to them. Joseph Smith and others cannot baptize the spirits in water, it is not the law; but their posterity, their sons and daughters who are living in the last dispensation, are expected to go into these temples and there redeem their dead. This is a good work, and it is a great blessing for men and women to have this privilege. We have one of these temples finished, and we are doing a great work in that temple. A hundred and sixty-two thousand persons have been baptized for the dead, and nearly seventy thousand endowments have been given in that temple. We have only just begun this work. We want the Logan temple finished, as also the temple at Manti, that the people may go forth and redeem their dead. Our forefathers are looking to us to attend to this work. They are watching over us with great anxiety, and are desirous that we should finish these temples and attend to certain ordinances for them, so that in the morning of the resurrection they can come forth and enjoy the same blessings that we enjoy. We are living in the flesh and have the privilege of receiving the Gospel of Christ for ourselves. Our forefathers had not this privilege; and as their posterity when we meet them in the spirit world we shall have the joy and satisfaction of knowing that we did our duty by them while here upon the earth. We occupy a position in this capacity towards them the same as we do to this generation. We occupy the position of Saviors upon Mount Zion.[48]

Again we can ask the question, why would the “Eminents” appear to Woodruff and ask for work to be done that had already been done, which had freed them from their association with the wicked in the Spirit World and placed them on a path to “progress eternally”?

IV. Other Concerns

Woodruff’s Sources And Knowledge

“Wilford Woodruff”, writes Stuy, “apparently left Duyckinck’s National Portrait Gallery of Eminent Americans in Salt Lake City when he left for St. George on 1 November 1876. That he did not have the two volume [set] that he had been reading during the previous months is strongly supported by the fact that he did not perform the baptismal work for anyone whose biography is found only in this work, including Daniel Boone, Patrick Henry, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow—men who were greatly admired and whom Woodruff certainly would have considered worthy of proxy attention.”[49]

Stuy also notes that all of the Presidents for whom Woodruff did proxy work for had biographical sketches in Duyckinck’s National Portrait Gallery of Eminent Americans, but the biographical data that Woodruff included for these Presidents was so dissimiliar from Duyckinck’s that he is certain that Woodruff did not have the work with him in St. George. [50]

Why is this important? Because Woodruff got so many details wrong in his documentation about the Eminents. As Stuy points out,

Portrait Gallery“It seems likely that, if the signers had literally appeared to Woodruff, he would have used all of the resources at his disposal to compile as complete and comprehensive a listing of worthies as he could. Woodruff’s use of Duyckinck’s volumes does nothing in and of itself to cause us to question his experience as a literal visitation from the spirit world. But because the baptismal work had been previously performed for every individual who had signed the Declaration of Independence—the very men Woodruff explicitly states appeared to him—we must consider the nature of his experience with these men. It seems unlikely that they would have literally appeared to him in August 1877, after their proxy baptisms had been done, to express their unhappiness that no proxy work had been performed for them, yet this was certainly the main message that Woodruff understood from his experience. [51]

Woodruff apparently spent two consecutive nights with these men, but didn’t get any details that would help him with their genealogies and recorded inaccurate information about them? He didn’t question them about their marriages, their children and forefathers? Woodruff certainly was aware of the lack of avenues of information.

As Stuy observes, “…a comparison between the two listings (Duyckinck’s Portrait Gallery & Woodruff’s list) shows not a single instance in which Woodruff’s proxy record contains accurate biographical information not contained in Duyckinck’s volumes.” (page 73) Stuy adds, “In several instances, Woodruff has information not found in Duyckinck’s volumes, but these additions are always inaccurate.[52]

It seems that Woodruff had the ultimate access, but didn’t make use of it, or the Eminents were feeding him false information. Another thing to consider that hasn’t really been addressed, is how likely it was that Woodruff would have known that the Eminents baptisms had been done, long before the move to Utah. Guy Bishop writes,

Baptisms for deceased friends often reflected personal reverence for historical figures. In addition to the previously mentioned noted historical figures, other Saints showed a fascination with saving the greats of bygone generations such as Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, and “Gen’l. Montgomery [who] fell at Quebec,” for whom John Harrington was proxy. Also Stephen Jones was baptized for Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de LaFayette. The greater the historical reputation, the more times proxy baptisms were performed. In 1841 alone, George Washington, for example, benefitted from proxy baptisms done by Don Carlos Smith, Stephen Jones, and John Harrington. Many of these eminent men from thepast, including most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and former U.S. presidents, as well as several noted women, were again baptized in the St. George Temple in 1877.” [53]

wilford-woodruff-baptisingWoodruff himself was familiar with and participated in many baptisms for the dead in Nauvoo.  Even Charlotte Haven, who was visiting relatives in Nauvoo, witnessed baptisms for the dead, including the baptism of George Washington:

Last Sunday morning the Judge came in and soon proposed a walk, for it was a balmy spring day, so we took a bee-line for the river, down the street north of our house. Arriving there we rested awhile on a log, watching the thin sheets of ice as they slowly came down and floated by. Then we followed the bank toward town, and rounding a little point covered with willows and cottonwoods, we spied quite a crowd of people, and soon perceived there was a baptism. Two elders stood knee-deep in the icy cold water, and immersed one after another as fast as they could come down the bank. We soon observed that some of them went in and were plunged several times. We were told that they were baptized for the dead who had not had an opportunity of adopting the doctrines of the Latter Day Saints. So these poor mortals in ice-cold water were releasing their ancestors and relatives from purgatory! We drew a little nearer and heard several names repeated by the elders as the victims were douched, and you can imagine our surprise when the name George Washington was called. So after these fifty years he is out of purgatory and on his way to the “celestial” heaven! It was enough, and we continued our walk homeward. [54]

One other thing to consider if you are inclined to believe that Woodruff did know about the proxy baptisms performed for the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Woodruff said that he didn’t know of any:

I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them. The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose, that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends and relatives. [55]

Here Woodruff claims that the thought never entered his heart that anything had been done for these men. Woodruff also claims that it never entered “our” minds. But that is obviously not true, since it had certainly entered the minds of many since proxy work first started being performed in Nauvoo. Who is he including here? Certainly not John D. T. McAllister, who did recording and confirmations in the Endowment House.

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1865

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1865

Woodruff Misquoted (Again)?

This brings us to Nelson’s next point, which is to blame George Gibbs. I have already addressed this speculation above, but Nelson also claims that because Woodruff only mentions the Endowment House in his September 16, 1877 address and no others, that this is evidence that Gibbs misquoted him. Here is what Woodruff said once again,

“I will here say, before closing, that two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights.  I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them.”[56]

Let’s reconstruct this without mentioning the Endowment House. “Said they, … nothing has ever been done for us… I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them.”

We still have the problem of Woodruff claiming that the spirits of the dead said “nothing has ever been done for us”, and we have Woodruff repeating that “nothing had been done for them” at the end. So Gibbs misheard this entire paragraph? This is simply an unreasonable speculation, especially since we know that Gibbs surely had the sermons he transcribed checked by those who gave them, as George D. Watt did when he was the chief recorder.[57] 

Wilford Woodruff's Temple Lot Case Testimony - Journal of Discourses Sermons

Wilford Woodruff’s Temple Lot Case Testimony – Journal of Discourses Sermons – Where he states that it was a General Rule for them to correct their sermons – Transcript Courtesy of The Church History Library

Nelson adds that because in Mormon theology one needs more than just a baptism, we can suppose that Woodruff was misquoted. But is that what Woodruff meant when he spoke about redeeming the dead in 1877? For example, ten years later Woodruff claimed that,

As an individual I have had great interest in this work of redeeming the dead, and so have my brethren and sisters. This is a labor we must continue as far as we have opportunity. This principle was taught by the Apostle Paul. He asks, “If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?” This is a work that rests upon the Latter-day Saints. Do what you can in this respect, so that when you pass to the other side of the vail your fathers, mothers, relatives and friends will bless you for what you have done, and inasmuch as you have been instruments in the hands of God in procuring their redemption, you will be recognized as Saviors upon Mount Zion in fulfillment of prophecy. [58]

One must look at this in historical context. At that time redeeming the dead did not include Endowments, because Brigham Young would not authorize any to be done outside of a Temple. That is why in later quotes Woodruff expands the definition to include Endowments more often. Four years later Woodruff again broaches this subject and once again links redeeming the dead to baptism, even after there were multiple temples in operation:

The Latter-day Saints have gone to work and labored in these Temples by the commandment of God, for the blessing of the living and redemption of their dead, and a million of men and women, whose bodies are returned to dust, and whose spirits are in the spirit world, have received the benefits of the Gospel by [p.209] the power of God and the work of the Elders, under the direction of President Young. Is this a loss of prestige? Is there no hand of God in this? Is there no progress in this? These things certainly were not accomplished in the life of Joseph Smith, although Joseph Smith received revelations with regard to Temples, and the ordinances and endowments afterwards administered in the Temple at Nauvoo. He also built the first Temple, in Kirtland, and many blessings were revealed in that Temple, and this work was continued while he lived, as far as he had the power. I remember well the first time I read the revelation given through the Prophet Joseph concerning the redemption of the dead—one of the most glorious principles I had ever become acquainted with on earth.

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1877

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1877

To think that I and these Latter-day Saints could go forth into the waters of baptism and redeem our fathers, our mothers, and those that have gone before us, in the lineage of our father’s house, and they come forth and receive a part in the first resurrection! Well might the Prophet say God has fulfilled His promise that in the last days He would raise up saviors upon Mount Zion, and the kingdom should be the Lord’s. Never did I read a revelation with greater joy than I did that revelation. I have often referred to the course we pursued in connection with that. Joseph Smith himself (many of you may recollect the time) went into the Mississippi river one Sunday night after meeting, and baptized a hundred. I baptized another hundred. The next man, a few rods from me, baptized another hundred. We were strung up and down the Mississippi, baptizing for our dead. But there was no recorder; we attended to this ordinance without waiting to have a proper record made. But the Lord told Joseph that he must have recorders present at these baptisms—men who could see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and record these things. Of course, we had to do the work over again. Nevertheless, that does not say the work was not of God.[59]

To be sure, there are many quotes by Woodruff that include Endowments when he speaks of redeeming the dead, but not always. Notice also, that Woodruff claims that though the work had to be done over in Nauvoo because there was no recorder, (as per a clarifying “revelation” by Joseph Smith) that the work was still “of God”.  Since there were recorders when work was done in Utah, there would be no reason to redo any of that work, nor was it ever suggested that this be done.

So a rebaptism does not nullify the original baptism. In the case of the “Eminents”, this was not an issue since their baptisms were recorded and performed under the supervision of one of the First Presidency (Daniel H. Wells) who oversaw the work in the Endowment House at that time (1868-1884) and was frequently there participating in the work.[60]

Proxy baptisms were also performed by Haden Wells Church, a respected Seventy who had served multiple successful missions for the church, and John M. Bernhisel who was the first Mormon Congressional Delegate from Utah Territory to Washington, had close ties to the First Presidency of the church, and Wilford Woodruff. [61]

There is nothing at all upon which to base Nelson’s inference that because the proxy baptisms performed on behalf of the “Eminents” were not done by a descendant or with the approval of a church authority, they were invalid or that there was some need for Woodruff to do them himself.  He offers only speculation.

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1880

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1880

When All Else Fails Speculate

Nelson then tries to undermine the validity of the work already done by Haden Wells Church[62] (who performed about half of the baptisms for the signers of the Declaration of Independence) by speculating that he may not have had authorization and may have been commanded to stop doing their work.

I could perhaps agree that this was plausible if not for the fact that Church performed the baptisms for about half of the signers on more than one occasion, a year apart, and that those that helped him were prominent men in the Church. Brian Stuy writes,

Haden Wells Church

Haden Wells Church

[Haden Wells] Church performed the proxy baptisms for twenty-nine of the fifty-four signers—just more than half. Why he did not perform the work for the remaining signers is unknown (Endowment House, 23 August 1871, 17 April 1872, #183384). Oliver Wolcott, one of the signers for whom Church did not perform the work, nevertheless had his work performed by a descendant, Phineas Wolcott Cook (ibid., 13 September 1872, #183384).

John Adam’s baptism was repeated in Utah by Samuel H. B. Smith and by Haden Wells Church (Endowment House, 15 November 1871, 17 April 1872, #183384).[63]

From this, Nelson infers that it is “plausible” that,

“partway through his efforts Hayden Church was told that because he wasn’t a descendent and didn’t have authorization that he needed to stop. Notice that just months after this Oliver Wolcott was baptized by a descendent. [64]

There of course may be more plausible reasons why Church did not finish the work for the signers—he may have been busy with other responsibilities. It took him a year and two visits to complete half the list, but the next year, 1873, Church spent time as a traveling missionary, and one news article has him visiting Kanab in Kane County in September of that year.[65]

Haden Church News Article 1873Again, this would not invalidate what Church did, even if he was told to stop which does not seem at all plausible. If this were so, why was John M. Bernhisel allowed to do proxy work for the remaining signers just two years later, after Oliver Wolcott did some work for only one of the signers? It is very plausible that Wolcott was the only descendant at that time that was available and ready to do the work.  As explained above in Wolcott’s case, that would invoke the “right of heirship”.  What this shows is that there was a very coordinated effort in performing these proxy baptisms, as we shall see.

Even though John Hancock’s baptism was done by his descendant Levi Ward Hancock, this was not done in the Endowment House, but in the St. George Temple on May 29, 1877. The same was true of William Floyd, whose proxy work was done by descendant Addison Everett in March of the same year.

From what Stuy writes, Bernhisel was aware of Church’s work, because he did not do any of the work for those that Church had served as proxy for. [66]

What this evidence suggests is that this was a coordinated effort, and they did not do the work for those they knew had descendants able to do the work at that time. What it does not suggest, is that the work was discontinued solely on the basis of right of heirship.

John-M.-Bernhisel

John M. Bernhisel

I find it interesting that Nelson will try and undermine Haden Church’s authority to do the work, and yet will make the conjecture that others who may not have been heirs somehow got permission:

John Hancock’s work was done by a relative, Levi Hancock, again fitting well with the idea of heirship making proxy ordinance work valid. William Floyd’s work was performed by Addison Everett. In this case, I am not aware of a relationship between the two. It is important to note that under Wilford’s tenure as Temple President that Addison Everett was the one who completed the proxy work for William Floyd. Perhaps if Everett is not related to Floyd, permission from a presiding authority had been granted to do the work.[67]

Where does Nelson get the idea that proxy work would be more valid if done by an heir? I can find no evidence that any Mormon Authorities ever said so. The best explanation that I can come up with is that if an heir redid a baptism, it would only change the details which were recorded, transferring the proxy work to the heir. This would not invalidate the original baptism though.  And this point is rather moot, because the hiers would be sealed to their ancestors, regardless of who did the baptism. None of the men who did the proxy work for the “Eminents” requested to have them sealed to their lineage. So, why would this (getting permission to proxy baptize) not be the case with Church and Bernhisel? This begs the question,

Was Woodruff aware of the work that had been done for these men? I find it hard to believe that he was not. He exchanged many letters with John M. Bernhisel, and mentions Haden W. Church and his son in his Journals, and he was very close to John D. T. McAllister, who did some of the confirmations and recordings.[68] On the other hand, Stuy writes,

But Woodruff apparently did not know of the proxy baptisms Haden Church and John Bernhisel had completed earlier for the signers of the Declaration of Independence and past U.S. presidents. In fact, every signer of the Declaration of Independence had been baptized by proxy before Woodruff performed that ordinance in the St. George Temple in 1877.[69]

He relegates to a footnote that Woodruff may have known of Bernhisel’s work. I find it personally hard to believe that Woodruff did not know about the previous work. But this point is also moot, as I have explained above, because the baptisms performed by Church and Bernhisel were valid and Woodruff claimed that it never entered his or others hearts to do anything for them in his September 19, 1877 discourse.

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1890

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1887

V. Rogue Baptisms?

There are a few other things worth mentioning that are perhaps relevant in understanding the circumstances surrounding these events.  Brian Stuy writes,

On one occasion Church was confirmed by an individual who would play an important role in Woodruff’s experience, John Daniel Thompson McAllister, who also served as recorder for many of the baptisms. Church’s wife, Matilda, was proxy baptized for many of the signers wives.[70]

Woodruff had worked with McAllister as early as 1864 in the Endowment House where they performed sealings for the living.[71]

At On the 13 of June, 1868 Woodruff took J. D. T. McAllister with him to visit the dying Heber C. Kimball who was blessed by them along with Brigham Young, Daniel H. Wells and Albert Carrington.[72]

McAllister was appointed by Brigham Young as President of the St. George Stake, and Woodruff writes that,

“I went down to the Temple with Br Angel and looked over the rooms to see how we would [be] organized to prepare for Endowments. I wrote the Ceremony (or assisted Br Mcallister in doing it) for work in the Temple.[73]

At the time that McAllister did the confirmations and recordings for the proxy baptisms performed by Haden Church, he was a Counsellor to Bishop Elijah F. Sheets, and was the Salt Lake City Marshall.  Elijah Sheets served as bishop of the Salt Lake City Eighth Ward from 1856 to 1904. He also served at the central Church level as a traveling bishop, as the Church’s head livestock agent, and as an assistant trustee-in-trust.[74]

John Daniel Thompson McAllister c. 1870

John Daniel Thompson McAllister c. 1870

McAllister like Sheets had the confidence and trust of the First Presidency.  He was elected Fire Chief and City Marshall and also served as a Territorial Marshall. He worked in the Endowment House for many years and was Superintendent of Brigham Young’s Woolen Mill. He was elected foreman of the Council in the Legislature in 1862 and 1863. In 1867 he was appointed to be in charge of the Tabernacle.

All three of these men, Haden Church, John McAllister and John Bernhisel were exemplary in their respective duties and assignments. There is no reason to believe that any of them did not act within proper Priesthood channels in doing proxy work for the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  I know of no systematic program to nullify all (or any) of the proxy baptisms done in the Endowment House by performing them again in a temple, therefore Woodruff’s decision to rebaptize the “Eminents” was his own choice, not some kind of policy decision based on lack of authority to perform them the first time.  And since Woodruff himself was not an heir, this makes his motive to do so even more questionable as a legitimate need. Woodruff as Temple President certainly had the authority to rebaptize the Eminents, but that still leaves us right back where we started: Why would the signers of the Declaration of Independence need to appear to Woodruff and tell him that no work had been done for them, when it obviously had been?[75] 

Marriner W. Merrill would comment on duplicate work in 1895:

Of course, there was quite an amount of work done in the Endowment House; but we have found that a great deal of that work has been duplicated, from the fact that people did not keep a record of the work themselves, and the records of the Endowment House in times past were not available to everybody.[76]

This would not be Woodruff’s problem, since he would have had access to any records he cared to search for. I can’t imagine that if Woodruff was somehow not aware of the proxy work done for the “Eminents”, that McAllister would not have told him in St. George. Therefore it is very probable that Woodruff knew about the proxy baptisms before he performed them, but went ahead anyway, disregarding the rule not to perform duplicate work.

Woodruff claimed that McAllister knew about the visit of the spirits of the dead, yet he, like Woodruff did not record anything about it in his Journal; but he did write about the proxy work that he performed. On 21 August 1877, McAllister recorded:

At the Temple as usual. 682 baptism for the dead. Myself 170, Wilford Woodruff 21, Joseph Hammond 226,and A. P. Winsor 225. On this day I was baptised for all the dead presidents of the United States except Martin Van Buren and Jas. Buchanan.[77]

On August 22 John wrote,

I received endowments for General George Washington and Sister Lucy B. Young received Endowments for Mary Ball, Washington’s Mother. I was also ordained a High Priest for Washington.

On Thursday 23, I received Endowments for Millard Filmore. I also acted for Augustine Washington and my wife, Ann, for his 1st wife and for his 2nd. Mary Ball, George Washington’s mother in the sealing. Ann also acted for Maria Fackrell who was sealed to John Washington, great-grandfather of George. I was also baptised for Daniel Park Custin [sic] and John Park Custin, sons of Martha and her first husband. I was also ordained a High Priest for Benjamin Franklin, on this day.[78]

Brian Stuy writes that,

“McAllister frequently performed proxy ordinances for famous historical personalities. In addition to acting in the confirmation of eleven signers proxy baptized by Haden Wells Church in 1871, McAllister was baptized for several prominent individuals, including the first Emperor of Russia and Austria (Endowment House, 9 August 1871, 12 June 1872, #1183384).[79]

David H. Cannon

David H. Cannon

Years later Woodruff would mention McAllister in connection with a retelling of the supposed visitation, along with two others, James Godson Bleak and David H. Cannon.  David H. Cannon was a bishop, high counselor, and a member of the Stake Presidency in St. George for many years which required traveling to visit the wards and branches throughout southern Utah and Nevada. After the building and dedication of the St. George Temple Cannon served first as an assistant to then temple president Wilford Woodruff, then as an assistant to temple president John D.T. McAllister and finally on 28 August 1893 he was called to be President of the St. George Temple.[80]

Canon never mentioned that he had any direct knowledge of the claimed visitation of the spirits of the dead to Wilford Woodruff. In 1922 he gave a speech to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers where he recounted important events in his life. Concerning the events of the time in question he said,

On January 9, 1877 I was called by President Young to labor in the St. George Temple. I was set apart April 17, 1877 to assist President Woodruff in the performance of the higher ordinance in the House of the Lord.[81]

This would have been the perfect time to recount something about the claimed vision of Woodruff, but Canon does  not mention it. If these men witnessed the same events that Woodruff did, they never mentioned it or wrote about it in their journals.

In 1905 Canon did mention that he had knowledge of the dead manifesting themselves at St. George, but gave no specific examples or what he meant by “manifested”:

Pres[iden]t [David H.] Cannon said we should seek to do our own work for our immediate relatives when we are able so to do. If we engage proxies, let them labor for those not so closely related to us. Our relatives in the other world will ask, why we did not [do] the work for them; by this we shall certainly be confronted. It is a fact that while we represent the dead, they have, at times, manifested themselves[,] to his knowledge, in this temple.[82]

According to Franklin D. Richards the dead could manifest themselves in many different ways in addition to seeing the dead:

When we dedicated the Temple at Manti, there were many brethren and sisters that saw the presence of spiritual beings, which could only be discerned by the eyes of the inner man. The Prophets Joseph, Hyrum, Brigham, and various other Apostles that have gone, were seen; and not only so, but the ears of many of the faithful were touched and they heard the music of the heavenly choir that was there. Then what a happy thing it would be if everybody went to that house, when it comes to be dedicated, so upright in their hearts before the Lord as to be pleasing in His sight![83]

Then there is the James Godson Bleak account. Amy Thiriot mentions this in a footnote to her article. The account reads,

James Godson Bleak

James Godson Bleak

”I was also present in the St. Geo. Temple and witnessed the appearance of the Spirits of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and also the Spirits of the Presidents of the U.S. up to that time. And also others, such as Martin Luther and John Wesley. (The man that started the Methodist Faith) who came to Wilford Woodruff and demanded that their baptism and endowments be done. Wilford Woodruff was baptized for all of them. While I and Brothers J.D.T. McAllister and David H Cannon (who were witnesses to the request) were endowed for them. These men that we did work for were choice Spirits, not Wicked men. They laid the foundation of this American Gov., and signed the Declaration of Independence and were the best spirits the God of Heaven could find on the face of the earth to perform this work. Martin Luther and John Wesley helped to release the people from religious bondage that held them during the dark ages. They also prepared the peoples hearts so they would be ready to receive the restored gospel when the Lord sent it again to Men on earth. Wilford Woodruff,  ‘Said, Would those spirits have came to me and demanded at my hand as an Elder in Israel, that I should go and attend to the saving ordinances in the House of God, for them if they had not been noble spirits before God? They would not. I bear testimony because its true. The Spirit of God bare record to myself and these brethern while we were laboring in thier behalf.’”[84]

This account has been cited by many as an actual diary entry, but that is not the case. It is obviously a late account given well after Woodruff dedicated the Salt Lake Temple.

The story of James Godson Bleak is an interesting one. He was a close friend of Wilford Woodruff’s, but Bleak is not mentioned by Woodruff in his Journals until well after the supposed visitation took place.[85]

In 1883 Woodruff gave an account of the History of the St. George Temple and said,

Wilford Woodruff, age 86 (6 April 1893)

Wilford Woodruff, 1893

The corner stones were laid on the 10th day of March, 1873, and labor was continued thereon until Jan[.] 1st, 1877, when it was dedicated to God. (See W[ilford] Woodruff ‘s Journal of Jan[.] 1st, 1877, which contains the dedicatory prayers of W[ilford] Woodruff, Erastus Snow, and B[righam] Young Jr., also the speech of President [Brigham] Young.) I, Wilford Woodruff, bear testimony, that Pres[iden]t B[righam] Young told me to go to work and prepare the Temple for giving Endowments, and I had made the preparations according to his acceptance; and on the 9th of Jan., 1877, we repaired to the Temple and for the first time the ordinance of baptism for the dead was performed in the Temple of St. George[.] Wilford Woodruff went into the font by the direction of Pres[iden]t Brigham Young and administered the ordinance of baptism for the first 140 persons, and confirmed the first person, Pres[iden]t Young laying on hands at the same time. John L. Smith administered the ordinance of baptism for the next 83 persons, making 223 baptisms and confirmations during that day. Wilford Woodruff Confirmed one 1. J[ohn] D. T. McAllister confirmed 64, A[lonzo] H. Raleigh 15, H[enry] W. Bigler 123, and Erastus Snow 20. Susie Amelia Young Dunford was the first baptized and confirmed by W[ilford] Woodruff. Pres[iden]t Brigham Young requested me to take charge of the Temple, which I did. He also requested me to write all the ordinances of the Church from the first baptism and confirmation through every ordinance of the Church. Geo[rge] Q. Cannon assisted some in this writing, and when I had finished it to the satisfaction of the President, he said to me, “Now you have before you an ensample to carry on the endowments in all the temples until the coming of the Son of Man.” On the 8th of April, 1877, W[ilford] Woodruff was appointed in the public assembly to take charge of the Temple and preside over it, and in private conversation with the President, he said he wanted me to take the whole charge of the Temple and attend to all affairs connected with the endowments, sealings &c. I told him I was not able to go to the altar and do all the sealings as I had injured myself at that labor in the Salt Lake Endowment House. Pres[iden]t Young told me to go to work and ordain some men to help me to do the sealing[s]. He told me to set apart J[ohn] D. T. McAllister and David H. Cannon for that purpose and, if I needed more, to set them apart. I set apart Br[other] McAllister to that work April 14th, 1877. I set apart David H. Cannon for the same purpose on the 27th of April. I also set apart James G. Bleak to officiate at the altar some time afterward (I do not recollect the date). (2d March 1881.) Pres[iden]t Young gave me power and authority to give second anointings and seal women to men as I might be led by the Spirit of God. I parted with Pres[iden]t Young for the last time in the flesh at 9:30 A.M. on April 16th, 1877, when he started for Salt Lake City. Brigham Young Jr., was very sick at the time. When I left St. George, I placed the presidency of the Temple in the hands of John David Thompson McAllister, who was to preside over it in my absence. This is the testimony which I Wilford Woodruff bear to all whom it may concern.[86]

In 1953 Caroline S. Addy wrote her Master’s Thesis about the life of James Godson Bleak and had access to all of his papers and diaries.[87] She never mentions any account by Bleak about the “Eminents” appearing either to Woodruff or Bleak, even though she devotes a whole chapter on their relationship as friends.[88]

Addy’s assessment of Bleak as an Historian is a mixed one. She writes that,

The main defects of the work (Bleak’s “Annals of the Southern Utah Mission”) are its chronological form, its lack of interpretation, its avoidance of events uncomplimentary to the church, and its over-emphasis on affairs in St. George. Points in its favor are the vital facts it furnishes from sources which are lost or which would be difficult for students of the present day to go over, and the basis it forms for future studies in Southern Utah history.[89]

I believe that Bleak wanted to prop up his old friend Wilford Woodruff, and that after he heard Woodruff’s speech in 1898 where he (Bleak) was mentioned, he gave the above account, parts of which are taken directly from Woodruff’s 1898 speech:

“I am going to bear my testimony to this assembly, if I never do it again in my life, that those men who laid the foundation of this American Government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of Heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord. Another thing I am going to say here, because I have a right to say it. Every one of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence with General Washington called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the house of God for them. Men are here, I believe, that know of this–Brothers J. D. T. McAllister, David H. Cannon and James C. Bleak. Brother McAllister baptized me for all these men, and I then told these brethren that it was their duty to go into the Temple and labor until they got endowments for all of them. They did it. Would those spirits have called upon me, as an Elder in Israel, to perform that work, if they had not been noble spirits before God? They would not. I bear this testimony because it is true. The spirit of God bore record to myself and the brethren while we were laboring in that way.”[90]

Haden W. Church, John Bernhisel and others were also “Elders in Israel”, who had all the authority necessary to perform the work, which they did. There is absolutely no reason that the work that they did would (or should) have been declared invalid, especially since Woodruff himself was not a proper heir.

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1894

Wilford Woodruff, c. 1894

VI. Stuy To The Rescue?

From what has been revealed above, it is clear that there are no alternative explanations to answer the question why the spirits of the dead would appear to Wilford Woodruff on those warm nights in the summer of 1877 and claim that nothing was ever done to redeem them from the clutches of the wicked and filthy in the Spirit World.This does bring to mind what Brigham Young once said,

Brother John [Young] referred to some persons receiving revelations. I say to such persons, Go ahead, and get all the revelations you can. If brother Joseph visits you every night, go ahead, and tell him to bring brother Hyrum, father Smith, Don Carlos Smith, St. Paul, Peter, James, and John, and Jesus Christ, if you can induce him to do so. But I could almost lay my hand on that Bible and swear that the man or woman who gets such revelations has been guilty of adultery, or of theft, or has been rebellious and apostatized in feelings, but has come back again, and now professes to have such revelations. Hell is full of such revelations; and I could almost testify that a man or woman who receives them has been guilty of some outrageous crime. I have had men come to me and tell the wonderful great dreams and visions which they have, when those very persons have apostatized heretofore, have denied their God and their religion; and I knew it. Many come to me and tell me what wonderful visions they have—that their minds are open to eternal things—that they can see visions of eternity open before them and understand all about this kingdom,—many of whom have at some time been guilty of betraying their brethren, or committing some atrocious crime. I never notice them much. I sit and hear them talk about their wonderful knowledge, but it passes in and out of my ears like the sound of the wind. It is for me to see to this kingdom, that it is built up, and to preserve the Saints from the grasp of the enemy. The visions of the class I have mentioned are nothing to me. They may exhibit their great knowledge before me; but when they have done, it is all gone from me.[91]

Why is this relevant? Because both Woodruff and Young can be checked in relation to their “visions” and “revelations”. That brings me back to Brian Stuy, who really does give us an alternative explanation about what might have happened, and which even Geoff Nelson (in the comments to his article, seems persuaded by).

In 1893 there were many who witnessed the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple and heard Woodruff speak about his claimed vision in St. George.  One of them wrote,

While at St. George there was a class of men come to me in the night visions, and argued with me to have work done for them. They were the signers of the Declaration of Independence.[92]

Wilford_Woodruff c 1885In an effort to understand and put Woodruff’s experience into some kind of coherent context, Stuy writes,

After the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893, Woodruff, reflecting on his accomplishments for that year [1893], wrote in his journal: “Two nights in succession before John Taylor[‘]s death [in 1887] President Young gave me the Keys of the Temple and told me to go and dedicate it which I did.” It seems clear that Young, who had died in 1877, had literally appeared to him and conveyed keys that allowed Woodruff to complete and dedicate the Salt Lake Temple.

But Woodruff’s contemporary journal entries about these visitations convey a completely different idea. On 12 March 1887, Woodruff recorded the dreams in which Brigham Young visited him:

I dreamed last night that the L D Saints holding a great Conference at Salt Lake City at the great Temple and thousands of Mechanics were laboring hard to finish the Temple. I was requested to open the Conference As I was an Exile and they might not have me with them long. The Key of the Temple was given me to open it. As I went to the door A large Company were assembled and I overtook Presid[en]t Brigham Young and He asked what the matter was with the great Company at the Door. Some one Answered the Elders did not want to Let the people into the Temple. He said Oh, oh, oh and turned to me & said let all[,] all into the Temple who seek for Salvation. I saw several who were Dead and among the Number my wife Phebe. I believe there is some meaning to this dream.

Woodruff records that he received similar dreams for the next three nights, and wrote on 15 March: “I dream almost Ev[er]y night of these great Meetings. I do not understand what those Dreams Mean.” It is significant that, at the time he had these dreams, Woodruff could not readily interpret them. I believe that these dreams, and their later metamorphosis into his claim of an actual visitation from Brigham Young, set a helpful clear context in which we can better consider the events surrounding the St. George proxy baptisms and endowment work. I hypothesize that the same process of metamorphosis was at work here.[93]

Wilford Woodruff Banquet PartyUnfortunately, there was no dream, vision, or anything else written in Woodruff’s Journal in August of 1877 or earlier to morph into a vision of the spirits of the dead appearing to him and claiming that nothing had ever been done for them. This is not insignificant, since Woodruff was very faithful in writing down his dreams and impressions, some of which are documented in Stuy’s article.

In Part II of this study I will explore more of Woodruff’s Journal entries and show how they are sometimes quite different from his later recollections, and also analyze Woodruff’s claim to being a “prophetic historian” and how this may have affected how he recounted his experiences.

Though Woodruff did claim to have a spiritual experience that involved his own ancestor’s proxy work while in the St. George Temple, that had nothing to do with the “Eminents”.[94]

And even though Stuy does try hard to rescue Woodruff from himself, his conclusion that he did the proxy work in response to dreams still doesn’t absolve Woodruff from what I would term good old fashioned bullshit, or “statements made by people more concerned with the response of the audience than in truth and accuracy”. [95]

As the old proverb goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, but do the ends really justify the means? That is for the individual to decide. For those who subscribe to this philosophy, crying “defamation” in relation to Woodruff and the “Eminents” at those who do not, may reveal more about them than they may realize.

Wilford Woodruff Funeral

Wilford Woodruff’s Funeral

Woodruff bust blog back

Part II of Liar, Liar? “If You Can’t Be True To Yourself…” will be published in a few weeks.

NOTES

[1] Dallin H. Oaks, “Gospel Teachings About Lying,” BYU Fireside Address, 12 September 1993.

[2] ibid.

[3] Rock Waterman, “Wilford Woodruff’s Pants Are On Fire”, Pure Mormonism Blog, Sunday, April 14, 2013, Online here, accessed August 1, 2014.

[4] ibid.

[5] Since Woodruff went “straightway to the baptismal font” and records August 21 as the day he performed those baptisms, the spirits of the dead should have appeared to him the previous two nights (19th & 20th). I here present the Journal entries from August 13, 1877 through August 25, 1877:

13 We drove to Kanarr and I ordained Brother [Roundy?] a Bishop and his Brother his 2d Councillor. We then rode to Belview & spent the night with Jacob Gates. 30 M.

Aug 14, 1877 We drove to St George over a vary rough road as it was yesterday. I telegraphed to Presidet Young of my arival and had one in return. 30 M.

15 I spent the day in the Temple. We gave 55 Endowments. Ordained 22 Elders. J D T McAllister sealed 5 Couple & D H. Cannan 6. I wrote 2 letters to Mr Sorrenson & Delight.

16 I spent the day in the Temple. Gave Endowments to 83. Ordained 30 Elders. W Woodruff sealed 6 Couple E Snow 25. I wrote 3 letters to Elias Smith, John Morgan and H. B. S[tetl?]er.

17 I spent the day in the Temple. Gave Endowments to 95 One half of them Swiss. Ordained 32 Elders. J D. T. McAllister sealed 13 Couple D H Cannon 11. I attended the funeral of Sister Moody [p.367] wife of John M Moody. I wrote 2 letters to Sarah and B[ell/ulah?].

18 I wrote 2 letters to G. Q. Cannon & Wilford. I spent the day writing.

19 Sunday Met at the Tabernacle at 11 oclok. Prayer By Wm Smith. Augustus Hardy spoke 10 Minuts, Thomas Hall 10 M, B F Pendleton 14 Minuts. Afternoon. Prayer By James Nixon. Frank B. Woolly spoke 2 M, Moroni Snow 2 M, Seth Pimm 1. Erastus B Snow spoke 6 M, W Woodruff 35 M D. H. Cannon 35. I wrote 2 Letters to Bulah & Emma.

I spent the Evening in preparing a list of the Noted Men of the 17 Centaury and 18th including the signers of the declaration of Independance and the Presidents of the United States for Baptism on Tuesday the 21 Aug 1877.

20 I sent a letter to Presidet Young, L J Nuttall, Nellie Asahel Clarie and Owen. 6.

Aug 21, 1877 I Wilford Woodruff went to the Temple of the Lord this morning and was Baptized for 100 persons who were dead including the signers of the Declaration of Independance all except John Hancock and [William Floyd]. I was Baptized for the following names:

William Hooper Benjamin Franklin
Joseph Hewes John Morton
John Penn George Clyme
Button Gwinnett James Smith
Lyman Hall Francis Lightfoot Lee
Edward Rutledge George Taylor
George Walton James Wilson
Thomas Heywood Jr George Ross
Thomas Lynch jr Caezer Rodney
Arthur Myddleton George Read
Samuel Chase Thomas McKean
William Chase Paca Philip Livingston
Thomas Stone Francis Lewis [p.368]
Charles Carroll of Carrolton Lewis Morris
George Wythe Richard Stockton
Richard Henry Lee John Witherspoon
Thomas Jefferson Francis Hopkinson
Benjamin Harrison John Hart
Thomas Nelson Jr Abraham Clark
Francis Lightfoot Lee Josiah Bartlett
Carter Braxton William Whipple
Robert Morris Samuel Adams
Benjamin Rush John Adams
Robert Treat Paine Samuel Huntington
Elbridge Gerry William Williams
Stephen Hopkins Oliver Wolcott
William Ellery Mathew Thornton
Roger Sherman

Baptized for the following Eminent Men:

Daniel Webster Edward Gibbon
Washington Irving David Garrick
Michael Faraday Sir Joshua Reynolds
William Makepeace Thackerey Robert Burns
John Calwell Cahoon Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Baron Justus Von Liebig John Philip Kemble
Henry Clay Frederick Von Schiller
Edward George Earl Lytton Bulwer
George Peabody Henry Grattan
Charles Louis Napoleon Bonapart Lord Horatio Nelson
Thomas Chalmers John Filpot Corran
William Henry Seward George Stephenson
Thomas Johnathan Jackson Sir Walter Scott
Frederick Henry Allexander Von Humboldt
David Glascoe Farragut Lord Henry Brougham
Hiram Powers William Wordsworth
Lewis John Rudolph Agassis Daniel O Connell
Lord George Gordon Byron Richard Cobden
David Livingstone Christopher Columbus
Americus Vespucius
Count Camillo Bonso di Cavour John Wesley
Samuel Johnson Oliver Goldsmith
Thomas Babington Macauley Benito Juarez
Frederick 2d king of Prussia Count Demetrius Perepa [p.369]

When Br McAllister had Baptized me for the 100 Names I Baptized him for 21, including Gen Washington & his forefathers and all the Presidets of the United states that were not in my list Except Buchannan Van Buren & Grant.

It was a vary interesting day. I felt thankful that we had the privilege and the power to administer for the worthy dead esspecially for the signers of the declaration of Independance, that inasmuch as they had laid the foundation of our Government that we Could do as much for them as they had done for us.

Sister Lucy Bigelow Young went forth into the font and was Baptized for Martha Washington and her famaly and seventy (70) of the Eminent women of the world. I Called upon all the Brethren & Sisters who were present to assist in getting Endowments for those that we had been Baptized for to day.

 I wrote Letters to D D MCArthur. I wrote to Susan Dunford. There were Baptized in all to day 682.

22 We gave Endowments to 88. /WW/ Ordained 2 High Priest for George Washington and John Wesley, and 4 Elders. Total Ordained 40. W Woodruff sealed 9 Couple and 7 Children to their parents. D H Cannon sealed 26 Couple.

23 W Woodruff ordained Brother Ellis Sanders a High Priest for Benjamin Franklin and got Endowments for him, also ordained 6 Elders. We gave 138 Endowments. Ordained 60. W Woodruff sealed 3 Couple J McAllister 18, D H Cannon 3.

24 We gave Endowments to 130. W Woodruff Ordained 2 High Priest One for Christopher Columbus. Ordained 60. W Woodruff gave 2d Anointings to 3 Persons 1 Living & 2 dead. J. McAllister Sealed 12 Couple D. H. Cannon 18 and Sealed 10 Children to parents.

25 I spent the day in a variety of Business.(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.366-369, August 18, 1877-August 25, 1877).

What is interesting about the entry on the 19th, is that Woodruff writes that he prepared the names for Baptism on Tuesday the 21st. Were they scheduled ahead of time or was this added to the entry on that page?

[6] Amy Tanner Thiriot,  “Historical News Flash: Wilford Woodruff’s Vision of the Founding Fathers”, The Keepapitchinin Blog, October 22, 2013, Online here, accessed August 1, 2014.

It may be of interest to some that on another article at this site involving a strange prophecy copied by Woodruff in his journal, I made a comment to clarify what I thought were some erroneous conclusions in the article, which was answered by the owner of the site, Ardis E. Parshall, with some hostility.  When I submitted a follow up comment to answer the hostile accusations and erroneous conclusions leveled at me, it was never published and I am unable to comment further on this site. This strange prophecy will be addressed in Part II of this article.

[7] It may be instructive here to understand how the sermons in the Journal of Discourses were transcribed and readied for publication. In his Book, The Mormon Passage of George Watt (researched by descendant Ronald G. Watt for 30 years and published in 2009), writes:

“When Watt suggested to Brigham Young that he publish a journal of sermons from which Watt could receive his salary, Young and Richards agreed. The Journal of Discourses ensured that all Mormons and even non-Mormons would know what the Lord wanted through the speeches of his representative, Brigham Young. From then on, Watt had a permanent desk in the president’s office and the Tabernacle, taking down the speeches in his SWIFT, curious symbols.”

“On the first day of the new year, [1852] Watt also began teaching a class in Pitman shorthand. His students included Brigham Young, Thomas Bullock, Thomas W. Ellerbeck, William C. Staines, Nathaniel H. Felt, Albert Carrington, and Daniel Wells, some of the most influential men in Salt Lake City. He probably received a dollar from each student. To prepare for this course, Watt wrote and published his own exercise book, a shortened version of the Pitman manual. He included within it instructions in phonography and some lessons. Young began to practice shortly after his first lesson, and on January 5, he spent all day with his shorthand studies. (The Mormon Passage of George D. Watt: First British Convert, Scribe for Zion, Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, pages 126-7)

So Young, and others were very familiar with Watts and his process, and had full confidence in his abilities, not only that, he taught it to others, who used it to transcribe those sermons, that John Widtsoe and many others (who produced collections from them) affirmed were accurate, and approved.  As Ronald Watt explains,

“Watt’s potential employment must have been on the mind of Brigham Young. Finally, Watt wrote a letter to Young early in May 1853. He suggested that he be allowed to prepare “a few of your sermons which have not  yet been in print with Elder P. P. Pratt’s two discourses at the conference on the spirit world and birthright to send to England for publication in  the form of a magazine of about 150 or 200 pages to sell.” He suggested that part of the profit go to satisfy his economic necessities and the rest be used for Young’s purposes. Almost immediately his suggestion brought assent from the members of the First Presidency. It would enable Brigham Young and the First Presidency to have the written word to send to the members of the church and the missionaries.

The next day Young notified Watt of the First Presidency’s agreement, and Watt began transcribing and editing sermons.  On May 25 and 26, YOUNG SPENT MOST OF HIS TIME EXAMINING THE WRITTEN DISCOURSES. On June 1, 1853, the First Presidency officially granted Watt  the privilege of preparing and publishing Young’s discourses in magazine-LIKE form, recognizing that “Elder George D. Watt, by our counsel, spent  much time in the midst of poverty and hardships to ACQUIRE THE ART of reporting in Phonography which he has FAITHFULLY and fully accomplished.” Since publication would be less expensive in England, the sermons were to be sent to Liverpool as Watt had suggested.  All the profits from the venture would go to Watt, who would also take care of all the costs. The First Presidency encouraged all church members to purchase the journal for  Elder Watt’s benefit. Watt now had a permanent income and a place of employment.

More importantly for the church, the Journal of Discourses was a watershed, essentially the beginnings of a worldwide publication. Even though the Journal of  Discourses was a private venture, it was an OFFICIAL CHURCH PUBLICATION and the  most important source of President Young’s and other church authorities’  sermons. Watt also joined OTHER CLERKS in the First Presidency’s office. Albert Carrington was Brigham Young’s clerk and attended to his correspondence.  Thomas Bullock, an early convert from England, was also there.” (ibid, pages 133-34)

The JOD was an OFFICIAL publication, and was reviewed beforehand by those that gave the talks:

“In November the Deseret News announced that Watt’s service as a reporter was available not only to the News but anybody who wanted CORRECT reports, and “if the brethren will employ him, and sustain him in his employment, time will prove it a BLESSING to all concerned.” (ibid, p. 135)

This is essentially the same process that George Francis Gibbs went through years later. He worked for the Deseret News, and was then called as chief stenographer to Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve. As Ronald Watt writes about George Watt,

“With permission to publish speeches of the church authorities, Watt needed to concentrate on the Journal of Discourses. The process of publishing each volume was laborious. He needed to be at all the meetings, recording the speeches in shorthand. Then, WITH THE HELP OF PRESIDENT YOUNG, he chose the talks that would be transcribed. In the first volume, twenty-six of the fifty-three sermons were by Young. Heber C. Kimball and Parley P. Pratt had the next most sermons published with six each. In the second volume, Brigham Young had composed seventeen of the fifty-six sermons. Young’s sermons were spoken without notes and from memory.  The phonographer had to work very hard to keep up with each speaker.  Watt grew accustomed to the delivery style and speed of each speaker.  If Young was not the first speaker, Watt sometimes did not arrive at the Tabernacle on time, and when he arrived late for the meeting, he slipped into his desk very quietly.

On July 2, 1854, he noted in his shorthand notes, “Phineas Young spoke but I was too late to report it.” At the same meeting, Young called upon Watt to speak. After he recorded the speeches, Watt transcribed them word for word, spending many hours at his desk. Next he read the sermons to those who gave them and corrected them. Sometimes Thomas Bullock read Watt’s transcribed sermons, and Watt corrected them again. Albert Carrington copy-edited them, and then Watt sent the final collection of sermons by post to Liverpool for publication. The president of the British Mission also wrote a short preface. The sermons FIRST came out in pamphlet, serial form and were sold to church members both in Britain and Utah by subscription. The publication of the Journal of Discourses meant that the sermons of the Mormon leaders were some of the first religious works to be available for potential world consumption. It helped both the missionary effort and membership.” (ibid, pp. 135-136)

Here, we see that the sermons were read back to those that gave them, and they were corrected BEFORE they even went into print. Hence we have this statement by Brigham Young, with the full meaning very clear:

“I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . “ (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264).

As a general rule, those sermons were copied and approved by Young and others, and even corrected beforehand. As Brigham Young Jr. wrote in the preface to Vol. 11, “The Journal of Discourses is a vehicle of Doctrine”. They are ‘as good as scripture’, according to Brigham Young. Brigham Young was involved in every aspect of what was published by the Church, and was very adept at ferreting out what he deemed to be false doctrine. This tradition was continued after Young’s death, and those that later transcribed the sermons for the Journal of Discourses like George F. Gibbs were subjected to the same scrutiny and process.

[8] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.322.

[9] See Journal entry above for the 14th and 20th. See also note #94. Woodruff writes that Young was present at the Temple on the 9th of January to witness the first ordinances performed there, Young himself did sealing work on the 11th, 12th, and on the 14th Woodruff spent the evening with Young. On the 15th he also spent the evening with Young. On the 18th, Young was again doing sealing work in the Temple. On the 20th, Woodruff spent the day writing and the evening at Young’s house. Again, on the 21st, 22nd, and called upon Young “for a short time” on the 24th.

On February 1st, Young “delivered a lecture at the veil” for 30 minutes. On the 3rd he rode to the Price Settlement with Young and spent the evening with him. He was with Young on the 5th, and Young was again in the Temple on the 9th. On the 10th and 11th he spent the evening with Young. On the 12th they spent the day writing the Ceremonies. On the 13th he spent the evening with Young and on the 15th he wrote that “Presidet Young was with us [at the Temple] and felt well. On the 19th he “spent several hours” with Young and Young “visited us” at the Temple on the 21st. On the 23rd, Woodruff claimed to have his “revelation” about the redemption of his dead and sent a copy to his wife Phoebe. Young was back at the temple on the 24th and on the 25th he “spent the evening” with Young.Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff

March is much the same with nightly visits to Young and Young performing sealings in the temple. He gave one of his daughters in marriage to Woodruff in the Temple on the 10th. He records that on March 14th that,

“I washed And Anointed Presidet Brigham Young for and in behalf of John Sanderson Twiss to get Endowments for his [him] the first time that Presidet Young has Ever got Endowments for any person on Earth.  also gave Presidet Young his Second Anointing for John Sanderson Twiss.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.339).

On March 30, Woodruff records that “The Quorum of the Twelve arived to day in the Temple to day. We met in Council in the Presidets office in the Evening,” and the next dayYoung “spent the afternoon” with the Twelve at the Temple.

The early part of April is filled with evening visits to Young until his return to Salt Lake City on the 16, which Woodruff records as the last time he ever saw Brigham Young alive. But they were still in close contact by telegram and letter until his death in August.

Young is not portrayed by Woodruff as being too sick to give counsel, direction or to visit the temple during the first five months of 1877, and so Amy Thiriot writing that he turned over the “practical operations” of the temple to Woodruff because of illness is simply sloppy research. He gave Woodruff authority to run the Temple. But this does not mean that Woodruff did not work closely with Brigham Young until he was familiar with all the operations of the Temple and defer to Young’s authority in all matters.

Also, Woodruff wrote out the Endowment Ceremony with Brigham Young Jr. as assigned and supervised by Brigham Young, who then reviewed it with them:

Spent the Evening with Presidet Young. He requested Brigham jr & W Woodruff to write out the Ceremony of the Endowments from Begining to End. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.322, Janurary 14, 1877)

On the 15th he records,

Brigham Young jr & Myself wrote out a part of the Ceremony of the Endowment. We rode out in the afternoon. (ibid)

On the 10th of February Woodruff records that he “spent the day writing on the Ceremony”, he “spent the evening” of the 11th with Young and then on the 12th records that “I spent the day writing on the Ceremonies & we [probably Brigham Young Jr.] spent the Evening with President Young reading the Ceremony.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.327).

It is interesting to note that Woodruff records that he had never even heard the Ceremony of Adoption until March 22, 1877:

22d I presided in the Temple to day. We gave Endowments to 174. Their was 66 Elders ordained for the Dead. W Woodruff sealed 11 dead persons to John Sanders Twist Presidet B Young & Sister Twiss as Proxy.   I also Adopted two Couple to Presidet B Young.   E Snow sealed 41 Couple. This day was the first [p.341] time in my life that I Ever herd or performed the Ceremony of Adoption. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.341)

[10] Thiriot, op. cited.

[11] Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses, Vol.2, p. 209, April 6, 1891.

[12] Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses, Vol.3, p. 226, February 12, 1893.

[13] See, “The Practice of Rebaptism at Nauvoo,” by D. Michael Quinn, BYU Studies (1978) Vol. 18, No. 2. PDF Download here. Also, “Rebaptism And Church Governance”, by J. Stapely, at By Common Consent Blog, Posted January 18, 2010, online here, both Accessed August 1, 2014.

[14] See remarks by Marriner W. Merrill at Note #76.

[15] See Note # 13.

[16] The accusation of defamation seems to be a current trend with Mormon apologists. For example, see the recent “Big Trouble in River City: American Crucifixion and the Defaming of Joseph Smith”, by Craig L. Foster and Brian Hales. To defame someone is to use falsehood to try and damage their reputation. This of course, is often in the eye of the beholder but can be checked with the facts, as we will do here with Woodruff. As for Alex Beam defaming Joseph Smith, one example may suffice. Foster and Hales write,

Beam writes that Eliza admitted she had been “the Prophet’s wife and lover” (89). He provides no documentation and obviously missed Eliza’s 1877 letter to RLDS missionary Daniel Munns where she flatly denied having ever been Joseph Smith’s “carnal” wife but freely acknowledged that there were “several ladies now living in Utah who accepted the pure and sacred doctrine of plural marriage, and were the bona fide wives of Pres. Joseph Smith.”33 During a June 9 interview with MormonStories podcaster John Dehlin, Laura Hales, wife of Brian Hales, addressed this lack of evidence for this statement during the question and answer period. Beam appeared nonplussed by the fuss regarding his use of the term “lover,” which he admitted was an ill-chosen word to describe Eliza’s relationship with Joseph. This speaks of his willingness to infuse dramatic prose into his text without regard to documentary evidence.

The letter in question reads,

You ask (referring to Pres. Smith), “Did he authorize or practice spiritual wifery? Were you a spiritual wife?’ I certainly shall not acknowledge myself of having been a carnal one” . . . . I am personally and intimately acquainted with several ladies now living in Utah who accepted the pure and sacred doctrine of plural marriage, and were the bona fide wives of Pres. Joseph Smith.” (Eliza R. Snow, Letter to Daniel Munns, May 30, 1877, Community of Christ Archives)

It is important to note the ellipses. Since I don’t have access to the entire letter, this quote should be read with caution. Still, what did Snow mean by “a carnal one”? That she didn’t have sex with Joseph Smith? This contradicts another statement made by Snow,

He [Joseph Smith III] said, “I am informed that Eliza Snow was a virgin at the time of her death.” I in turn said, “Brother Heber C. Kimball, I am informed, asked her the question if she was not a virgin although married to Joseph Smith and afterwards to Brigham Young, when she replied in a private gathering, ‘I thought you knew Joseph Smith better than that.’” (Angus Cannon, Statement, in 1905 interview with Joseph Smith III, LDS Church History Library.)

So what’s the deal here? Simply that Snow did not like the term “spiritual wifery”. Why? Because it implied the system attributed to John C. Bennett that was unspiritual or carnal. If one simply reads the 1828 definition of the word carnal, this becomes clear:

1. Pertaining to flesh; fleshly; sensual; opposed to spiritual; as carnal pleasure. (1828 Webster’s Dictionary)

Snow was not denying that she ever had sex with Smith, but that the relationship was carnal, or unspiritual.  That is why she adds that she is “personally and intimately acquainted with several ladies now living in Utah who accepted the pure and sacred doctrine of plural marriage, and were the bona fide wives of Pres. Joseph Smith.”

“Pure and Sacred” doctrine (or spiritual), verses “spiritual wifery” (carnal).  Bona fide wives, not simply sex partners as in Bennett’s system.

These are the kinds of examples that the article by Foster and Hales are full of. It is easy to bandy about the term defamation, but a lot harder to prove it in relation to Joseph Smith’s polygamy.  As for the supposed defamation of Wilford Woodruff, read on.

Addendum to this Note, January 1, 2015:

I made the above points concerning Eliza R. Snow’s disdain for the term “spiritual wife” and how she linked this with carnality. I did so not having the context of the full letter, but i had a feeling I was right. Since this article was written, Brian Hales has posted much of his polygamy research online, and among those items was the complete letter from Eliza R. Snow to Daniel Munns. I post it here:

Eliza R. Snow to Daniel Munns 1

Eliza R. Snow to Daniel Munns 2

The entire letter makes it perfectly clear what Eliza R. Snow was getting at when she was asked about being a “spiritual wife”. She writes,

You ask (referring to Pres. Smith), Did he authorize or practice spiritual wifery? Were you a spiritual wife?’ I certainly shall not acknowledge myself of having been a carnal one

Here is where Brian Hales employs the ellipses. Here is what he left out which totally explains Eliza R. Snow’s context:

It would be rather difficult to measure the amount of spirituality, I was in possession of, so as to make an estimate I candidly confess “spiritual wifery” I know nothing of only as the term was used as an epithet with which to stigmatize those of us who valiantly moved forward in obedience to the commands of God, in establishing the practice of plurality. 

I am personally and intimately acquainted with several ladies now living in Utah who accepted the pure and sacred doctrine of plural marriage, and were the bona fide wives of Pres. Joseph Smith — noble and intelligent woman, who live to honor him, and who revere his memory and anticipate holding the same endearing relationship with him in eternity — having been connected to him by the same power and authority which Christ conferred on the Apostle Peter, by which “whatsoever he bound on earth should be bound in heaven” &c. 

What is also interesting here (and you don’t see Hales quote) is that Eliza Snow expressly claims that she was,

I was married to Joseph Smith, the Prophet, more than two years previous to his death — not by a hireling Priest with usurped authority, but by a man of God who has been legally authorized to preform the sacred ordinance of marriage, An ordinance which unites for time and for eternity. 

Snow claims that she was married in an ordinance that UNITES for TIME and eternity. The letter above shows that Snow considered the term “spiritual wife” repulsive and that it was only used as an epithet to stigmatize (disgrace) those who moved forward in obedience in ESTABLISHING the PRACTICE of plurality. These are not the words of someone who was simply “sealed” to Joseph Smith. This strongly implies the marriage was for TIME and consummated. Using this letter to try and claim that the evidence is conflicting about sexuality in the marriage is quite simply disingenuous of Brian Hales.

[17] Brian Stuy, Wilford Woodruff’s Vision of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 26, No. 1, Spring 2000, pp. 64-90, hereafter cited as “Stuy 2000”. Online here.  You can sign up for a free JSTOR account and view up to three articles a month. You can also read the article here, with no hassles, here. Accessed, August 19, 2014. (Link courtesy of Brent Metcalfe).

[18] Geoff Nelson, “Rock Waterman’s Pants Are On Fire,” Rational Faiths Blog, July 25, 2014, Accessed, August 2, 2014, Online here.

From reading the comments to this article by Geoff Nelson, he seems more concerned with another subject that Waterman brought up in regards to Woodruff, that he was responsible for the Mormon belief in prophetic infallibility.

Woodruff was not, but was simply repeating what previous Mormon “prophets” had been touting since the time of Joseph Smith as Nelson documents. Mormon “prophets” do claim doctrinal infallibilty, simply because they have stated time and again that they would never be permitted to lead the church astray because they would be removed from office by God before that could happen. Smith himself taught that,

I never told you I was perfect, but there is no error in the revelations I have taught.” (The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [1980], 369).

What gets debated now is what “revelation” is. The trend in Mormonism now is to label all embarrassing “revelation” as opinion, or folklore.

[19] Stuy 2000, page 81.

[20] Nelson, op. cited.

[21]  As per President John Taylor,

“It will be well for persons presenting themselves at the Endowment House to receive the ordinances thereof, to be prepared to reply to the following questions:— “When were you born?” “Where were you born?” “When were you first baptized?” “What is your Father’s name?” “What was your Mother’s maiden name?” No person will be eligible to receive these blessings except they have been rebaptized.” (John Taylor to Angus M. Cannon, Nov. 15, 1877, cited in Devery S. Anderson, The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 1718-1728). See also, Allen and Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, 431.

Anderson notes that rebaptism as a temple requirement was discontinued in 1893.

[22] President George Q. Cannon, Conference Report, October 7, 1897.

[23] Quinn, “The Practice of Rebaptism at Nauvoo”, p. 229. Accessed, August 2, 2014, Online here.

[24] Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses Vol. 16, p.188.

[25] ibid, bold mine.

[26] John W. Taylor explained the spirit prison:

Yesterday reference was made to the preaching of the Gospel to the dead. I wish to use the same quotation in order to illustrate to your minds that there is hope for men though they fail to obtain forgiveness in this world. There will be an opportunity in the next world if they have not committed the unpardonable sin. The Apostle Peter speaks of this in his epistle. He refers to the Savior, after He was put to death, having gone, during the three days that His body lay in the tomb, to preach to the spirits in prison who were disobedient when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was preparing. What does this mean? It simply means what we read here in the Book of Genesis, that the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. They were committing whoredoms and all kinds of abominations before the Lord, and He concluded that the better way would be to drown them all with a flood after being warned to repent by His Prophet Noah. A few thousand years afterwards Christ preached to these spirits in prison. Did He go to preach to perfect men? No. They were sinners, liars, whoremongers, seducers, and Christ, to carry out His own mission, went to them in the spirit world to release them from the prison house, after they had paid the penalty of their crimes. Christ preached the Gospel to them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. Therefore, I say unto you look up unto God the Father of  the spirits of all flesh. There is hope. Repent and renew your covenants. (Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 96, April 6, 1888).

Woodruff gave the halt of Temple work and his concern for the spirits in prison as his reason for discontinuing polygamy:

The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it, you would have had no use for Brother Merrill, for Brother Edlefsen, for Brother Roskelley, for Brother Leishman, or for any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice. Now, the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested to us, and leave our Prophets and Apostles and fathers free men, and the temples in the hands of the people, so that the dead may be redeemed. A large number has already been delivered from the prison house in the spirit world by this people, and shall the work go on or stop? This is the question I lay before the Latter-day Saints. You have to judge for yourselves. I want you to answer it for yourselves. I shall not answer it; but I say to you that that is exactly the condition we as a people would have been in had we not taken the course we have. (Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses, Vol.2, p. 288, November 1, 1891).

Of course, they could have left the United States and settled elsewhere, as Brigham Young did, who did not seem as constrained with timeframes pertaining to the work of the dead as Woodruff was. It is important to note that all of Woodruff’s recorded “visions” and “revelations” showed exactly the opposite of this scenario. This is also a far cry from his Testimony to the World he gave as an “Apostle”,

When both the Congress of the United States and Judges of the Law have taken a step to deprive a Hundred and fifty thousand of her Citizens the right to Enjoy their religion which the Constitution garantees unto them, Will not the Same God who has given this Nation a free Government and an Inspired Constitution of Equal rights to all Men who dwell beneath its broad folds, Hold the Rulers and Judges of the Land responsible for the use they make of the power in their Hands? He will.

The Congress of 1862 And the Supreme Judges of 1878, in there acts and Decision have taken a Dangerous and fearful Step. Their acts will sap the vary foundation of our Government and it will be rent in twain and the God of Heaven will hold them responsible for these things. For what men Sow they will reap And the measure they meet unto others will be meeted unto them saith the Lord. When the Constitution is once broken by the rulers of the Land there will be no stoping place untill the Nation is broaken in peaces, and no power beneath the Heavens Can save this Nation from the Consequences thereof. And all Rulers of this Nation as well as other Nation will have to give an account to the Judge of all the Earth for the use they make of the power put into their hands. Virtue Exhalteth a Nation while sin is a reproach to any People.

The question was asked the Hebrews what God is there that is able to deliver you out of the Hands of [p.462] King Nebuchadnezzar. A righteous answer of faith was given. We do not know that our God will deliver us out of your hands, But be it known unto the O King that we will not serve thy Gods, nor worship the golden Image which thou hast set up. So I say as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. I will not desert my wifes and my Children, and Disobey the Commandments of God for the Sake of accomidating the public Clammers of a generation steeped in sin and ripened for the Damnation of Hell. I would rath[er] go to prision and to Death.

If I would not I would never be fit to associate with the prophets and Patriarchs of old, and I Could not But despise in my heart any man who professed to be a latter day Saint who would do otherwise. Why should we fear man who ownly has power to kill the Body more than him who has power to Cast both body and Soul into Hell? Christ says when men Speak all manner of Evil against you and persecute you for Righteousness sake rejoice and be Exceding Glad for so persecuted they the Prophets and Apostles who were before you. I would say to all Israel treat your wives and Children Kindly and keep the Commandments of God and trust in him and He will fight your battles. And I will say in the Name of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God That Mormonism will Live and prosper, Zion will flourish, And the Kingdom of God will stand in Power, Glory, and Dominion as David saw it when this Nation is broaken in peaces as a potters vessel and laid in the dust and brought to Judgment Or God never spake by my mouth. Therefore I say to all the Saints throughout the world be faithful and tru[e] to your God, To your religion, to your families and to yourselves. (“Testimony of the Apostle Wilford Woodruff to be published to the whole World”, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.461-2, February 22, 1879, emphasis mine.)

[27] Nelson, op. cited. But how does the right of heirship apply to Woodruff himself performing the proxy work for the “Eminents”? Nelson never addresses this point.

[28] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 3, p. 118, Janurary 16, 1847.

[29] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 3, p. 132, February 16, 1847, emphasis mine.

[30] Abraham H. Cannon Journal, December 18. 1890.

[31] Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol. 1, p. 80, Wilford Woodruff, Oct. 9, 1887.

[32] Devery Scott Anderson, The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History,  Signature Books, Kindle Edition, Locations 3811-3891. This is an impressive collection of documents that anyone who is interested in Temple research will find invaluable.

[33] Wilford Woodruff to Marriner Wood Merrill, Sept. 5, 1887, ibid,  2439-2451.

[34] Wilford Woodruff to James H. Martineau, Sept. 5, 1887, ibid,  2467-2471.

[35] Wilford Woodruff to James H. Martineau, Oct. 26, 1887, ibid.

[36] Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.318, January 1, 1877.

[37] Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses Vol. 18,  p.191, April 6, 1876

[38] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.478, July 2, 1840.

[39] The practice of baptism for the dead was first introduced by Joseph Smith in the summer of 1840 at the funeral of Seymour Brunson, five months after Sarah Ann Booth began circulating her claimed vision. (See Alexander Baugh, “For This Ordinance Belongeth to My House”: The Practice of Baptism for the Dead Outside the Nauvoo Temple, Mormon Historical Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring, 2002, page 47, online here, Accessed August 5, 2014.)

Baugh writes that Smith first taught this concept in 1838, utilizing the answer to this question by Smith as a proof text,

“If the Mormon doctrine is true, what has become of all those who have died since the days of the apostles?” The Prophet answered, “All those who have not had an opportunity of hearing the gospel, and being administered to by an inspired man in the flesh, must have it hereafter before they can be finally judged.” (Elders Journal  of The Church of the Latter Day Saints, 1 (July 1838): 43).

Smith though,  is not advocating that “the dead must have someone in mortality administer the saving ordinances for them to be saved in the kingdom of God,” (Baugh, op. cited) rather, he is simply stating that all those who die without hearing the gospel on earth, must have it (the gospel) administered to them by someone with authority before they can be finally judged. This would be done in the Spirit World.

Parley P. Pratt affirmed this two years later when he said that if “the thief on the cross [was] saved without baptism,” that he was “included in the same mercy as the heathens, who have never had the offer of the Gospel, and therefore, are under no condemnation for not obeying it.” (“The Gospel Illustrated in Questions and Answers,” Millennial Star, 1 (June 1840): 27, cf., Gregory A. Prince, Power From On High, Ch.4, p.144).

As Joseph Smith taught in this “revelation”:

Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel—twelve thousand out of every tribe?

A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 1, p.254)

This was echoed by Warren Cowdery, who wrote in 1837 “that the dead could inherit the Celestial Kingdom on condition that the gospel were preached to them and they accepted its message. He cited 1 Peter 4:6 to defend the concept of preaching to the dead. Once again, however, there was no mention of any requirement for ordinances to be performed in behalf of the dead. (Prince, op. cited).

Sidney Rigdon taught,

The whole matter then comes to this, that the gospel as set forth in the New Testament, is an order of things through which men were made partakers of the power of God while in the flesh, and that by one man administering to another by the authority of God in the name of Jesus Christ, this is what is called the gospel in the New Testament. It was enjoyed by the ministry of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists &c. and through the ministry of these men the power of God was received; they administered to the believers by the laying on of the hands, and the power of God attended, and thus men in days of old received the power of God unto salvation, and it was because of this, that the gospel is called the power of God unto salvation. (The Latter-day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Vol.2, No.6, p.274, July, 1836).

In December,1841 Joseph Fielding recounted to Ebeneezer Robinson his thoughts about the new doctrine of baptism for the dead,

The object of the Baptismal Font is also truly interesting to me, and I have no doubt to all the saints: for some time I had thought much on the subject of the redemption of those who died under the broken covenant, it is plain they could not come forth in the kingdom of God, as they had not been adopted, legally into it, neither could they be while there was no priesthood, they had not been born of water and the spirit, and if they should come into the kingdom without this it would falsify the plain word of Jesus Christ, yet how would those who died martyrs and all those who have lived up to the best light they have had, and would no doubt have rejoiced in the fulness of the gospel had they had it, be denied this privilege? I thought, perhaps those who receive the priesthood in these last days would baptize them at the coming of the Savior, and this would fulfil the words of the Savior; many shall come from the east and from the west &c., and shall sit down in the kingdom of God,–but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out, as foolish virgins, but a touch of the light of revelation has at once dispelled the darkness and scattered the doubts which once perplexed my mind and I behold the means which God hath devised that his banished ones may be brought back again; every step I take in surveying the plan of heaven, and the wisdom and goodness of God, my heart feels glad, but when I have listened to the teachings of the servants of God under the new covenant and the principles of Baptism for the Dead the feelings of my soul were such as I cannot describe. (Times and Seasons 3,1 Jan. 1842, pp. 648-49).

[40] Like Joseph Fielding (above), Ann Booth probably also “thought much” on the subject of the redemption of those who had died without the gospel and according to her, was answered with a vision of the Spirit World. This claimed vision by Booth is obviously the pattern for many later teachings about the Spirit World, including Joseph F. Smith’s claimed “Vision of the Redemption of the Dead” in 1916, except for the doctrinal changes that Smith made in regard to ordinances having to be performed on earth, instead of the Spirit World.

Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon claimed to have seen this in a vision in 1832,

And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo! these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the first born, who have received the fulness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun of the firmament. Behold, these are they who died without law; and also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it: these are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men: these are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness; these are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father: wherefore they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies of celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun: these are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus: wherefore they obtained not the crown over the kingdom of our God. And now this is the end of the vision which we saw of the terrestrial, that the Lord commanded us to write while we were yet in the Spirit. (Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, 1835, Section 91:7).

He then revised that vision with another claimed vision, which supposedly took place on January 21, 1836 in the Kirtland Temple:

Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, whowould have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts. I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven. (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 137:7-10)

Ann Booth references several Biblical passages in her account including, “the 3d chapter of Peter 18, 19, 20 speaking of the spirits in Prison.” Joseph F. Smith also references these verses, claiming that they inspired his own claimed vision. Erastus Snow taught 30 years before F. Smith’s claimed vision,

The mission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, between his death and resurrection was a similar mission, but a very short one. It lasted only three days. While his body lay in the tomb his spirit visited the spirits in prison, turned the key and opened the door of their prison house, and offered unto them the Gospel of salvation. How many of them were prepared to avail themselves of it at that time? Comparatively few. But he opened the door and offered the message of life and salvation, and having done this, His fellow laborers—the Seventies, Elders and others whom He ordained to the ministry—as fast as they finished their ministry in the flesh—continued their work among’ the spirits in prison. So is the Prophet Joseph Smith officiating and ministering to those spirits, and so are all His brethren, the Apostles, who have gone in his wake, who have followed, as it were, in his track. They have just gone behind the veil. Who shall we say? Let us call to mind a few of the brethren who have passed away—Brother David Patten (the first of the Apostles who was slain), Parley P. Pratt, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, Charles C. Rich, and others of the Apostles; also Patriarchs Father Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith; Elders Samuel H. Smith, Don Carlos Smith—all the first Elders of this Church and the Presidents of all the early quorums, and a vast company of the members of their quorums. All these and many more are laboring in the spirit world preparing the spirits thereof to receive the benefits and blessings which are now about to be offered to them in the temples of God. In other words, “a ticket of leave” is about to be sent to them to the effect that their friends on the earth have officiated in their behalf, have complied with the ordinances which are appointed for their redemption, which will enable them to advance into a higher sphere, to walk upon a higher plane, to enter a higher class where they can be further instructed and prepared for a glorious resurrection. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 25, p.34, February 2, 1884)

I believe that the timing of Smith’s first teachings about baptism for the dead just months after the claimed vision of Ann Booth is not a coincidence.

[41] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.359.

[42] Evert Augustus Duyckinck, National Portrait Gallery of Eminent Americans, Vol. 1, may be found online here. Volume 2 here.

[43] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.28.1

[44] Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.369-70, June 22, 1856.

[45] Joseph F. Smith, 3 October 1918, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 138:11-24, 57-59.

[46] D. Michael Quinn writes,

In the early summer of 1838, [Sampson] Avard was the stalking-horse for the First Presidency. The Danite constitution specified: “All officers shall be subject to the commands of the Captain General, given through the Secretary of War.” Joseph Smith had held the latter position “by revelation” in the church’s “war department” for three years,  [footnote 87 Document Containing the Correspondence, Orders, &c In Relation to the Disturbances With the Mormons, 102; Jessee, The Papers of Joseph Smith, 2:42n2.] and had been commander-in-chief of the Armies of Israel for four years. What the Danites did militarily during the summer and fall of 1838 was by the general oversight and command of Joseph Smith.

In the skirmishes that both sides called “battles,” Mormons used deadly force without reluctance. Benjamin F. Johnson wrote that Danite leader (and future apostle) Lyman Wight told his men to pray concerning their Missouri enemies: “That God would Damn them & give us pow[e]r to Kill them.” Likewise, at the beginning of the Battle of Crooked River on 25 October 1838, Apostle David W. Patten (a Danite captain with the code-name “Fear Not”) told his men: “Go ahead, boys; rake them down.”  [footnote:  Dean R. Zimmerman, ed., I Knew the Prophets: An Analysis of the Letter of Benjamin F. Johnson to George F. [S.] Gibbs, Reporting Doctrinal Views of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Bountiful, UT: Horizon Publishers, 1976), 27; Nathan Tanner reminiscence, in George S. Tanner, John Tanner and His Family (Salt Lake City: John Tanner Family Association/Publishers Press, 1974), 386. At the time of this 1903 letter, Johnson was a patriarch and George S. Gibbs was an assistant in the LDS Church Historian’s Office. His name has often been misread as George F. Gibbs, his father who was secretary to the First Presidency at the same time. The back cover of this publication described editor Zimmerman as “Supervisor of Academic Research for LDS Department of Seminaries and Institutes.” ] The highest ranking Mormon charged with murder for obeying this order was Apostle Parley P. Pratt who allegedly took the careful aim of a sniper in killing one Missourian and then severely wounding militiaman Samuel Tarwater. This was after Apostle Patten received a fatal stomach wound. [footnote:  Indictment of Parley P. Pratt for murder of Moses Rowland, filed 2 Apr. 1839, Boone County Circuit Court Records, Case 1379, fd 17, Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, University of Missouri; John D. Lee autobiography in Mormonism Unveiled: or the Life and Confessions of the Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee (St. Louis: Bryan, Brand & Co., 1877), 73, with similar description in Reed Peck manuscript, 99-100 of the unnamed Parley P. Pratt, a “cold hearted villain (I know him well).” Neither History of the Church, 3:170-71, nor The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt, Jr. (New York: Russell Brothers, 1874), 195-97, explains the reason for Pratt’s murder indictment or imprisonment.] In their fury at the sight of their fallen leader, some of the Danites mutilated the unconscious Tarwater “with their swords, striking him lengthwise in the mouth, cutting off his under teeth, and breaking his lower jaw; cutting off his cheeks…and leaving him [for] dead.” He survived to press charges against Pratt for attempted murder.  [footnote:  James H. Hunt, Mormonism…Their Troubles In Missouri and Final Expulsion From the State (St. Louis: Ustick & Davies, 1844), 190-91. Although he did not acknowledge that Tarwater sustained these injuries after he was shot and lying unconscious on the ground, an assistant LDS church historian gave a more gruesome description of his injuries, including “a terrible gash in the skull, through which his brain was plainly visible.” See Andrew Jenson, “Caldwell County, Missouri,” The Historical Record 8 (Jan. 1888): 702.]

Nevertheless, Mormon marauding against non-Mormon Missourians in 1838 was mild by comparison with the brutality of the anti-Mormon militias. Three days after Governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued a military order that the Mormons “must be exterminated, or driven from the State,” a Missouri militia unit attacked the LDS settlement at Haun’s Mill on 30 October 1838. They shot at and wounded thirteen fleeing women and children, then [p.100] methodically killed eighteen males, including two boys (ages nine and ten). When one of the Missouri militiamen found ten-year-old Sardius Smith’s hiding place, he put “his rifle near the boy’s head, and literally blowed off the upper part of it,” testified survivor and general authority Joseph Young shortly thereafter. Other Missourians used a “corn-cutter” to mutilate the still-living Thomas McBride. When the survivors found the elderly man, his corpse was “literally mangled from head to foot.” Aside from Young’s status as a near-victim along with his wife and children, Haun’s Mill struck at the heart of other general authorities: Sardius was a nephew of former Seventy’s president Sylvester M. Smith whose brother also died in the massacre, and recently appointed apostle Willard Richards lost a nephew there.

A generally unacknowledged dimension of both the extermination order and the Haun’s Mill massacre, however, is that they resulted from Mormon actions in the Battle of Crooked River. Knowingly or not, Mormons had attacked state troops, and this had a cascade effect. Local residents feared annihilation: “We know not the hour or minute we will be laid in ashes,” a local minister and county clerk wrote the day after the battle. “For God’s sake give us assistance as quick as possible.” Correspondingly, the attack on state troops weakened the position of Mormon friends in Missouri’s militia and government. Finally, upon receiving news of the injuries and death of state troops at Crooked River, Governor Boggs immediately drafted his extermination order on 27 October 1838 because the Mormons “have made war upon the people of this state.” Worse, the killing of one Missourian and mutilation of another while he was defenseless at Crooked River led to the mad-dog revenge by Missourians in the slaughter at Haun’s Mill. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Signature Books, 1994, p. 100)

[47] George Q. Cannon, Brain Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol. 5, p.374, January 22, 1898.

[48] Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses,  Vol. 23, p.331, Dec. 10, 1882.

[49] Stuy 2000, op. cited, pp. 74-75.

[50] Stuy 2000, op. cited. p.75, note 28.

[51] Stuy 2000, op. cited. p. 76.

[52] Stuy 2000, op. cited. p. 73.

[53] M. Guy Biship, “What Has Become of Our Fathers?” Baptism for the Dead at Nauvoo, Dialogue, Vol. 23, No. 2, page 90.

[54] Charlotte Haven, “A Girl’s Letter’s from Nauvoo”, Overland Monthly, Vol. 16, No. 96, December 1890, pp. 629-630.

[55] This is one point that no one seems to be addressing. Woodruff here states that it “never entered his heart” that nothing had been done for them, prior to his work in August 1877. He is therefore stating that he didn’t know about any previous work. He also states that “our” minds were not focused on historical figures, but more immediate friends. Could Woodruff not have known about the many baptisms for Eminent people that had been going on since the days of Nauvoo?

[56] Journal of Discourses, Vol. 19, p.

[57] See Note #7. Although there is always a chance that some of the sermons in the Journal of Discourses contain blatant misquotations, it might be well to remember that there is always a chance that you can be struck by lightning or die in a plane crash. Odds are though, that you won’t, and that they don’t.

[58] Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 80, Wilford Woodruff, Oct. 9, 1887.

[59] Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses, Vol.2, p. 209, Wilford Woodruff, April 6, 1891.

[60] Here are some of the many entries that place Daniel H. Wells in the Endowment house during the years 1868-1876:

Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p.383; Vol. 6, p.393; Vol. 6, p.397; Vol. 6, p.400; Vol. 6, p.401; Vol. 6, p.403; Vol. 6, p.432; Vol. 6, p.478; Vol. 6, p.486; Vol. 6, p.495; Vol. 6, p.533;

I was Baptized to day for Ten of my Dead Friends in the font in the Endowment House. Samuel Smith Baptized. D H. Wells & Joseph F Smith officiated in Confirming. Joseph F Smith was Mouth. At the Same time Phebe W Woodruff was Baptized for Seven of our Dead Friends. See record in this Journal. (WIlford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p.489, August 31, 1869)

25 I Came to the City & spent the day in the Endowment House. We Baptized for the dead 489. Joseph F Smith & Samuel Smith done the Baptizing. D H Wells W. Woodruff Joseph F. Smith & Samuel Smith Done the Confirming. I laid on hands in the [p.543] Confermation of Nearly the whole. D H Wells Also sealed 33 Couple & W Woodruff sealed 26 Couple. (WIlford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p.543, May 25, 1870.)

Vol. 6, p.545; Vol. 6, p.561; Vol. 7, p.107; Vol. 7, p.161, 18; Vol. 7, p.175; Vol. 7, p.176; Vol. 7, p.185; Vol. 7, p.188; Vol. 7, p.191; Vol. 7, p.206; Vol. 7, p.217; Vol. 7, p.226; Vol. 7, p.239; Vol. 7, p.280; Vol. 7, p.282.

17 I spent the day at the Endowmet House. There were near 1,000 of the Dead Baptized for to day. D H Wells Confirmed for some 5 Hours. W. Woodruff sealed 92 Couple for the dead then D. H. Wells sealed till night. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.186, June 17, 1874).

On this day, John M. Bernhisel was performing proxy work Declaration signer Benjamin Rush, British political philosopher John Locke and U. S. President Millard Fillmore:

[July] 8 I spent the time in the Endowmet House. There was Baptized 693. W Woodruff Confirmed 200. D H Wells sealed 73 Couple for the dead W Woodruff 68 Couple. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.188, July 8, 1874)

On this day, August 9, 1876 John M. Bernhisel did proxy work for many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Woodruff records that he and Daniel H. Wells were present:

Aug 9 I spent the time in the Endowment House. We baptized some 500 persons for the dead. W. Woodruff sealed 33 for the dead & D H. Wells 13. (WIlford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.282)

[61] Bernhisel is mentioned in Woodruff’s Journals over 150 times. He exchanged many letters with Dr. Bernhisel, who would send him clippings from papers, news from the east, along with tree cuttings for his orchards and gifts that Woodruff would deliver to Bernhisel’s family. They also wrote each other about personal matters.

[62] For a brief biography of Haden Wells Church, go here. Accessed August 5, 2014.

[63] Stuy 2000, p. 68, note #7.

[64] Nelson, op. cited.

[65] The Deseret News, Oct. 1, 1873, p. 11. James Godson Bleak also knew Church, and mentions him in his Annals of the Southern Utah Mission.

[66] Stuy 2000, p. 69.

[67] Nelson, op. cited.

[68] Woodruff knew Haden Church and took an interest in his family after he died while on a mission for the Church. On May 10, 1868, Woodruff writes,

A P Rockwell Prayed. B Young jr spoke 30 Minuts E D Woolley 50 Minuts. Afternoon. Prayer By W Woodruff. Haden Ch[urch] spoke 10 Minuts. R. [T?] Burton spok 6 minuts Joseph [ ] 3 M and Presidet Young spok one hour & 20 Minuts. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p.407).

This speech by Church was also reported in the Deseret News,

“Elder Haden W. Church said some few years ago he had been called to go on a mission, to settle in the south of the Territory, which he had labored to fulfill with all the ability and power he had. Now, being called to go on a mission to preach the gospel, he felt to go, having faith in God that His blessings would be with him.” (Deseret News, May 11, 1862).

In 1882 Woodruff writes about Church’s son,

I obtained a Donation of $40 from the Trustee in trust for Haden Church to assist him in necessities and deliverd the Money to him.  (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 8, p.96, April 17, 1882)

And in October writes,

19   I received a letter from Haden W Church & He informed me his wife & ownly Daughter was Dead and Buried. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 8, p.128, October 19, 1882).

[69] Stuy 2000, pp. 70-71.

[70] Stuy 2000, p. 68.

[71] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p.173.

[72] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p.411.

[73] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.292, November 13, 1876. Three months later, Brigham Young asked Woodruff and his son Brigham Jr. to write up the ceremony, which they read to Young when they were finished. See note #9.

[74] Life of John D. T. McAllister, by Blanche Sullivan Spendlove, p. 6.3, Online here, Accessed August 5, 2004. See also Gene L. Pace, Elijah F. Sheets: The Half-Century Bishop, Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons, ed. Donald Q. Cannon and David J. Whittaker (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, 1985), 255–73. Online here, Accessed August 5, 2014.

[75] Wayne Hinton, John D. T. McAllister: The Southern Utah Years, 1876-1910, Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 29, No. 2, 2003, p 116. As to motive, what was worth more to Woodruff than gold and silver?

Brother George Q. Cannon has referred to your labors in settling here. You were called to come here by the servants of God. You left your homes to come here and you have done what was required of you in this matter. You have had power to finish the Temple, and you have had power to go in and redeem your dead. A great many of you have done this, and I hope all of you will continue as long as you have any dead to redeem. Never cease that work while you have the power to enter into the Temple. I have greatly rejoiced in my work in this Temple, and in the blessings that I have received at the hands of the Latter-day Saints here. Gold and silver are no comparison to these things. I have had some thousands redeemed here. I have had baptisms, ordinations, washings and anointings, endowments and sealings for them, the same as if they were standing in the flesh themselves. I shall go and meet them on the other side of the veil. You will go and meet your relatives. You will hold the keys of their salvation to the endless ages of eternity, if you attend to this labor for them. (Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol.3, p. 82, Wilford Woodruff, June 12, 1892, emphasis mine.)

How would it be, to be some kind of a celebrity on the other side of the veil for the endless ages of eternity?

[76] Brain Stuy, Collected Discourses, Vol. 4, p.359, Marriner W. Merrill, October 4th, 1895.

[77] McAllister Journal, August 21, 1877, p. 55-57, op cited, pp. 116-117, online here. Accessed August 5, 2014.

[78] ibid.

[79] Stuy 2000, p. 79.

[80] David H. Cannon, Meeting of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers in St. George, Utah, February 19, 1922. Online here, Accessed August 5, 2014.

[81] ibid.

[82] Temple Minute Book, St. George, Jan. 25, 1905, Devery S. Anderson, The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, 3898-3902.

[83] Franklin D. Richards, “Temple Manifestations of the Spirit,” February 12, 1893, Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol.3, p. 233. Stories about Temple Manifestations were not uncommon during this time period. Brian Stuy in his article “”Come, Let Us Go Up to the
Mountain of the Lord”: The Salt Lake Temple Dedication” for Dialogue, Vol. 31, No. 3, recounts many that took place there. See especially pp. 107-108, Online here, accessed August 5, 2014.

[84] Jennifer Mackley gives the Bleak account and writes,

His statement was “copied from some of his own records” by his great-granddaughter and the version I have is in her handwriting. My estimate is James Bleak’s statement/record was made 20-40 years after 1877. (It was at least 21 years after the fact because he repeats parts of Wilford Woodruff’s April 1898 Conference address regarding the experience and less than 40 years because he died in 1918.)

[85] The first time that Bleak is mentioned in his Journals is on November 10, 1877:

10 I received No 32, 3 Letters from Bleak & E Snow. Wrote No 41 in return. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.381).

Jennifer Mackley though, mentions in her note (cited above) that Bleak was proxy for two of the Endowments performed the day after Woodruff and McAllister performed the baptisms.

[86] Wilford Woodruff, “History of the St. George Temple, Its Cost & Dedication and the Labor Thereon”, Mar. 26, 1883, Anderson, Devery; The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History, Kindle Edition,

[87] Addy’s Master’s Thesis may be found here. Accessed August 10, 2014.

[88] Caroline S. Addy, “James Godson Bleak, Pioneer Historian of Southern Utah”, unpublished Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, June 1953, pages 56-62.

[89] ibid, p. 144

[90] Wilford Woodruff, 10 April 1898, Conference Report, pp. 89-90.

[91] Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p.352, Brigham Young,

[92] Joseph West Smith Journal, 11 April, 1893, Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses, Vol.3, p. 274, Wilford Woodruff, Minutes of the Salt Lake Temple Dedication, Held April 6-24, 1893).

[93] Stuy 2000, pp. 77- 78.

[94] Woodruff recorded that on the night of February 23, 1877,

23 I presided in the Temple to day. <While meeting at the altar I received a revelation concerning the redemption of my dead.> / While praying at the Altar I received a Revelation Concerning the redemption of my dead./ We gave Endowments to 159. E Snow sealed 33 W. Woodruff 13 Couple. D H Cannon Ordained 27 Elders A H Raleigh 11, J L Smith 11, W Woodruff 2 A P Winser 1, Wm. W Smith 2. I spent the Evening with [ ]. I wrote 2 letters to Phebe <and sent her the revelation>. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.329).

A week later, on his 70th birthday Woodruff would speak to an assembled group of women in the Celestial Room of the St. George Temple,

Ever Since I have been working in this Temple my mind has been Exercised in behalf of the dead, And [I] have felt a great desire to see my dead redeemed before I passed away. A few days ago I went into the Cealing room whare I often go to Pray for I Consider there is no spot on this Earth more acceptable than this Temple and while there I went befor the Lord with this subjet resting upon my mind and I Pray the Lord to open My way to see my Dead Redeemed. And while I prayed the spirit of the Lord rested upon me and Conveyed the following Testimony to me:

Let my servant Wilford Call upon the virgins Maidens, Daughters, & Mothers in Zion and let them Enter into my /Holy/ Temple on the 1 day of March the day that my servant Wilford has seen the time alloted to man, Three score years and Ten, and there let them received their washing and Anointing and Endowments for and behalf of the wives who are dead and have been sealed to my servant Wilford, or those who are to be Sealed to him, and this shall be acceptable unto me Saith the Lord, and the dead of my servant shall be redeemed in the spirit world and be prepared to meet my servant at the time of his Coming which shall be at the time appointed unto him, though not revealed to man in the flesh. Now go to and perform this work and all shall be accomplished according to the desire of your heart.

[p.332] This was merely a key to me. Light burst upon my understanding. I saw an Eff[etual?] door open to me for the redemption of my dead. And when I saw this I felt like shouting Glory Hallalulah to God and the Lamb.

Now in this matter you Can be baptized for any number on the same day, but when you come to giving Endowments one person Can ownly attend to one in a day. Some of those women you have been officiating for have been sealed to me, some have not. Those that were sealed to me were sealed at various times during the last twenty years, By Presidet Young, H C. Kimball, D. H. Wells, G. Q. Cannon and J F Smith. I have never taken this Course without consulting Presidet Young. When this thing was manifest to me I said to some of the sisters that I would like to have them Come on my Birth day and make me a present by getting Endowments for some of my dead, and as a testimony to me all were willing. When I saw the magnitude of this I spoke to Presidet Young about it. He said he would furnish half a dozen himself and He has in this assembly 5 daughters and 3 wives. I feel thankful to you my sisters for this manifestation of Kindness for you might have searched the world over and you Could not have found a present as dear to me as this.

What is gold or silver in Comparison to the redemption of our dead? Nothing. If I Can redeem my dead, and save myself and family I will be satisfyed. I feel that when we get into the spirit world we shall see the importance of this days work. This is my birth day. I am three score years and ten to day. You are to day in this Endowment without a man with you. But we shall furnish one Man as an Adam. L John Nuttall will officiate as such. Sisters you have the Blessings and Gratitude of my heart, And I hope I may not ownly partake of Eternal life with those whom you are redeeming to day, But with all of you who are laboring for them this day. I pray that we may all meet with them in the Celestial kingdom of our God. Amen.

I went through the Endowments of the day more like being in vision than a reality. These 154 Sisters [p.333] were led to three veils and three of us Wilford Woodruff J. D. T McAllister & L John Nuttall all dressed in Temple Clothing took them all through the three veils. I took through about 60, at the Middle veil, which I attended (there was no sealing to day). Presidet Young was preset at the Temple in witnessing the Ceremonies. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 7, p.331-333, March 1, 1877).

Again we see Woodruff as Temple President still consulting Brigham Young, and that Young was not too sick to attend these ceremonies.

[95] Wikipedia page, under the subtitle, “In the philosophy of truth and rhetoric”, online here, accessed August 12, 2014.

Playing F.A.I.R. “The Curse of Cain”

INTRODUCTION

Ok, they did it again. On the F.A.I.R. Blog for February 28, 2012 they write,

“In connection with Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, the priesthood ban is getting a lot of attention from the media again.”[1]

F.A.I.R. then quotes a B.Y.U. Professor (Randy L. Bott) who was quoted in an article that appeared in the Washington Post entitled, The Genesis of a Church’s Stand on Race,

“According to Mormon scriptures, the descendants of Cain, who killed his brother, Abel, “were black.” One of Cain’s descendants was Egyptus, a woman Mormons believe was the namesake of Egypt. She married Ham, whose descendants were themselves cursed and, in the view of many Mormons, barred from the priesthood by his father, Noah. Bott points to the Mormon holy text the Book of Abraham as suggesting that all of the descendants of Ham and Egyptus were thus black and barred from the priesthood.”[2]

F.A.I.R. then comments that what Bott told the Post “is an example of how doctrinal folklore continues to be taught by well-meaning members of the Church,” and that it was “created” to “explain a Church policy that was “reversed” decades before. F.A.I.R. calls Bott’s explanation “dubious folklore” that is “no longer relevant”.

Here we see yet another example of  F.A.I.R.’s typical dishonest “apologetic information”.  In case you didn’t know, the term apologetics etymologically derives from the Classical Greek word apologia (ἀπολογία, “speaking in defense”). In the Classical Greek legal system two key technical terms were employed: the prosecution delivered the kategoria (κατηγορία), and the defendant replied with an apologia. To deliver an apologia meant making a formal speech or giving an explanation to reply and rebut the charges, as in the case of Socrates’ defense.[3]

Ironically, this defense is given by Mormons against their own fellow Mormon  F.A.I.R. then continues by giving a synopsis of the actual official doctrine taught by the church (which they claim is folklore),

“In the premortal existence, certain spirits were set aside to come to Earth through a lineage that was cursed and marked, first by Cain’s murder of his brother and covenant with Satan, and then again later by Ham’s offense against his father Noah. The reasons why this lineage was set apart weren’t clear, but it was speculated they were somehow less valiant than their premortal brethren during the war in heaven. In this life, then, the holy priesthood was to be withheld from all who had had any trace of that lineage.”[4]

F.A.I.R. then claims that any scriptures cited to support the curse of Cain doctrine “cannot logically be interpreted this way unless one starts with the priesthood ban and then works backward” to find scriptures that support a “predetermined belief”.  In their conclusion they claim “the ‘curse of Cain’ folk doctrine” may have been understood by “LDS ancestors”, but that today it’s “neither understandable nor necessary”, that it is “unsupported from the scriptures”, and that “in reality we do not know why God allowed the denial of the priesthood for a time in this dispensation.” They repeatedly use the word “policy” in connection with this official church doctrine.

I. BOTT GOES VIRAL

There may be more than one reason why F.A.I.R. cited that Washington Post article on the Curse of Cain. In addition to the comments of Professor Bott that F.A.I.R. cited in their article, the Post also reports him as saying,

“God has always been discriminatory” when it comes to whom he grants the authority of the priesthood, says Bott, the BYU theologian. He quotes Mormon scripture that states that the Lord gives to people “all that he seeth fit.” Bott compares blacks with a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father’s car, and explains that similarly until 1978, the Lord determined that blacks were not yet ready for the priesthood.

“What is discrimination?” Bott asks. “I think that is keeping something from somebody that would be a benefit for them, right? But what if it wouldn’t have been a benefit to them?” Bott says that the denial of the priesthood to blacks on Earth — although not in the afterlife — protected them from the lowest rungs of hell reserved for people who abuse their priesthood powers. “You couldn’t fall off the top of the ladder, because you weren’t on the top of the ladder. So, in reality the blacks not having the priesthood was the greatest blessing God could give them.”[5]

Randy L. Bott B.Y.U. Professor

According to one B.Y.U. blogger,

“The comments shocked many BYU students when the story began to be shared on Facebook and Twitter, with many claiming in disbelief that Bott must have been misquoted. Other students, however, claim that Bott has taught similar ideas in his religion classes. Bott is one of BYU’s most popular professors and is the top-rated professor of any university on RateMyProfessor.com.”[6]

Professor Bott’s bio on wiki describes him as “an American professor of religion at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, USA. He teaches classes on missionary preparation and the Doctrine and Covenants, and is a prolific author of LDS doctrinal and motivational literature. In 2008, he was also listed as the highest-ranked professor on Ratemyprofessors.com.”

Given Bott’s credentials, it’s hard to believe that he would be reciting “folklore” to the Washington Post in response to serious questions about the Church’s priesthood ban.  It’s also hard to believe that F.A.I.R. found it necessary to defend the church against one of its own B.Y.U. professors. So who is giving us the facts, Professor Bott, or the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research?

II.  FOLKLORE OR COMMANDMENT FROM GOD?

It seems that Mormon apologists will say anything to make their church’s past racism more palatable. One way of doing so is to label the priesthood ban a “policy”.  According to Lester E. Bush,

“Normally a “doctrine” is a fundamental belief, tenet, or teaching, generally considered within the Church to be inspired or revealed. A “policy” is a specific program or “practice” implemented within the framework of the doctrine. Some policies or practices are so loosely tied to their doctrinal base that they may be changed administratively; other policies or practices are so closely tied to a doctrine as to require a revision of the doctrine before they can be changed.”[7]

Unfortunately for those like F.A.I.R., the Mormon First Presidency in 1949 gave an official statement which declared,

“The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle.

President Brigham Young said: “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.”

President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement: “The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.”

The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of the spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.”

George Albert Smith

J. Reuben Clark

David. O. McKay

August 17, 1949[8]

Does this official statement sound like “folklore”? The Mormon First Presidency here quotes Brigham Young, who elaborated more on this doctrine in 1852 before the Territorial Legislature,

The Lord said I will not kill Cane But I will put a mark upon him and it is seen in the face of every Negro on the Earth And it is the decree of God that that mark shall remain upon the seed of Cane & the Curse untill all the seed of Abel should be re[deem]ed and Cane will not receive the priesthood untill or salvation untill all the seed of Abel are Redeemed. Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him Cannot hold the priesthood & if no other Prophet ever spake it Before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ. I know it is true & they know it. The Negro cannot hold one particle of Government But the day will Come when all the seed of Cane will be Redeemed & have all the Blessings we have now & a great deal more. But the seed of Abel will be ahead of the seed of Cane to all Eternity.

Let me consent to day to mingle my seed with the seed of Cane. It would Bring the same curse upon me And it would upon any man. And if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane the ownly way he Could get rid of it or have salvation would be to Come forward & have his head Cut off & spill his Blood upon the ground. It would also take the life of his Children…

Their is not one of the seed of old Cane that is permitted to rule & reign over the seed of Abel And you nor I cannot Help it.

Those that do bear rule should do it in righteousness. I am opposed to the present system of slavery. The Negro Should serve the seed of Abram but it should be done right. Dont abuse the Negro & treat him Cruel.

It has been argued here that many of the Jews were Black. Whenever the seed of Judah mingled with the seed of Cane they lost their priesthood & all Blessings.

As an Ensample let the Presidency, Twelve Seventies High Priest Bishops & all the Authorities say now we will all go & mingle with the seed of Cane and they may have all the privileges they want. We lift our hands to heaven in support of this. [At] That moment we loose the priesthood & all Blessings & we would not be redeemed untill Cane was. I will never admit of it for a moment.

Some may think I dont know as much as they do But I know that I know more than they do. The Lord will watch us all the time. The Devil would like to rule part of the time But I am determin He shall not rule at all and Negros shall not rule us. I will not admit of the Devil ruling at all. I will not Consent for the seed of Cane to vote for me or my Brethren. If you want to know why we did not speak of it in the Constitution it was because it was none of their Business. Any man is a Citizens Black white or red and if the Jews Come here with a part of the [p.99] Canaanite Blood in them they are Citizens & shall have their rights but not to rule for me or my Brother. Those persons from the Islands & foreign Countries know nothing about Governing the people. THE CANAANITE CANNOT HAVE THE WISDOM TO DO THINGS AS THE WHITE MAN HAS. We must guard against all Evil. I am not going to let this people damn themselves as long as I can help it.”[9]

"Folklore" taught to Mormon youth? (19th Century Publication)

F.A.I.R. would have us believe that this is a “theory adopted” by early Mormons from “similar beliefs in early American Protestantism”, and that the Mormons then used this to “explain” the “policy” of their racism against blacks.  They also state that this is a “policy for which no revelation or prophetic explanation was ever given.”

Of course we just saw some of those “explanations”, but there were plenty more.  Notice how Mormon authorities officially call this a “commandment from the Lord”, and a “doctrine”, while F.A.I.R. continues to repeat the word “policy” over and over as if this wishful thinking might somehow make it true. Brigham Young emphatically declares that ,

“Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him Cannot hold the priesthood & if no other Prophet ever spake it Before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ. I know it is true & they know it.”

Was Brigham Young not a Mormon “prophet”? Was this then not a “prophetic explanation”? Does saying something “in the name of Jesus Christ” mean anything to Mormons? According to Mormon authorities it does, for on July 17, 1947 the First Presidency wrote a letter to one Lowry Nelson and explained,

“Dear Brother Nelson:

“We might make this initial remark: The social side of the Restored Gospel is only an incident of it; it is not the end thereof.

The basic element of your ideas and concepts seems to be that all God’s children stand in equal positions before Him in all things. Your knowledge of the Gospel will indicate to you that this is contrary to the very fundamentals of God’s dealings with Israel dating from the time of His promise to Abraham regarding Abraham’s seed and their position vis-a-vis God Himself. Indeed, some of God’s children were assinged to superior positions before the world was formed.

“We are aware that some Higher Critics do not accept this, but the Church does. Your position seems to lose sight of the revelations of the Lord touching the pre-existence of our spirits, the rebellion in heaven, and the doctrines that our birth into this life and the advantages under which we may be born, have a religionship in the life heretofore. From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.

“Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient partiarchs till now. God’s rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous [meaning ‘marriage within a specific tribe or similar social unit’]. Modern Israel has been similarly directed. We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this are, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.

“Faithfully yours,

George Albert Smith

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

David O. McKay”[10]

Lowry understood perfectly what “the brethren” were saying, and responded on 8 October:

“The attitude of the Church in regard to the Negro makes me very sad. I do not believe God is a racist.

The First Presidency answered:

“We feel very sure that you are aware of the doctrines of the Church. They are either true or not true. Our testimony is that they are true. Under these circumstances we may not permit ourselves to be too much impressed by the reasonings of men, however well founded they may seem to be. We should like to say this to you in all sincerity, that you are too fine a man to permit yourself to be led off from the principles of the Gospel by worldly learning.

“You have too much of a potentiality for doing good and we therefore prayerfully hope that you can re-orient your thinking and bring it in line with the revealed Word of God.”

This was not folklore from the Mormon past, this was absolutely Mormon doctrine, and officially declared by a Mormon First Presidency to be “a commandment from God”.

III. FALLOUT

The recent Washington Post article has made a big impact on the Church. Yesterday, they felt it necessary to issue this statement,

“The positions attributed to BYU professor Randy Bott in a recent Washington Post article absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU faculty members do not speak for the Church. It is unfortunate that the Church was not given a chance to respond to what others said.

The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form.

For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent.  It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding.

We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.” [11]

The Deseret News, a paper owned by the Church, also published an article titled,  Race, Folklore and Mormon Doctrine, where they claimed,

“Elder Jeffery R. Holland, a current member of the Council of the Twelve, recently said in a public interview “One clear-cut position is that the folklore must never be perpetuated…I think almost all of (these teachings) were inadequate and/or wrong.”[12]

Though it is unclear if Holland is aware of the First Presidency Statement of 1949, what is clear is that he is lying about this doctrine being folklore.  In Randy Bott’s Blog called “Knowing Your Religion”, this doctrine was well explained in an article called Blacks and the Priesthood.  After the Washington Post article came out and the Mormon Church was in damage control, the Blog was taken down.  In the Deseret News article yesterday, they write,

“Professor Bott went on at great length to explain the pre-1978 ban. He cited the Bible, claiming that the descendants of Cain, who killed his brother, Abel, were black. He stated that “God has always been discriminatory” and compared blacks to a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father’s car. Likewise, some Latter-day Saints continue to repeat the idea that blacks were fence sitters in a pre-mortal war between God and Satan.

Unquestionably, many leaders and rank and file Mormons justified the ban before 1978 in these terms. Some of these ideas, like the Biblical mark of Cain, were an inheritance from the racist theologies of nineteenth-century American Protestantism. Others, like the claim that the spirits of blacks were lukewarm supporters of God before coming to earth, are unique to Mormon thought, although they lack support in Mormon scripture.

As a Latter-day Saint, I find such claims infuriating. It is one thing to explain as a matter of history what some Mormons may have thought in the past. It is a very different thing to offer the same ideas as good Mormon theology in the present. They aren’t.”[13]

But the Post article did not claim that these points of doctrine were “Mormon theology in the present”. Remember, the title of the article was The Genesis of a Church’s Stand on Race. In the article they quote Don Harwell, an African American Member of the Church who states, “he does not appreciate any attempt to connect the historic plight of blacks in the church to Romney, whom he strongly supports.”

They also quote part of the official statement of the First Presidency from 1949,

“As recently as 1949, church leaders suggested that the ban on blacks resulted from the consequences of the “conduct of spirits in the pre-mortal existence.” As a result, many Mormons believed that blacks were less valiant in the pre-Earth life, or fence sitters in the war between God and Satan. That view has fallen out of favor in recent decades.”[14]

Nowhere does the Washington Post article suggest that this is Mormon theology in the present, but it does do exactly what the Deseret News article claims they have no problem with, “explains as a matter of history” what Mormons taught in the past.

CONCLUSION

The doctrine of the Curse of Cain was not “folklore” of the Mormon Church, it was stated by Brigham Young to be true, and “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him Cannot hold the priesthood & if no other Prophet ever spake it Before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ. I know it is true & they know it.”

Why would a current member of the Mormon Quroum of the Twelve, F.A.I.R, and the First Presidency all lie that this is “folklore”, when former “prophets” emphatically declared that it was a doctrine of the church and a “commandment of God”? Why would they lie and say that they “do not know why, how or when this restriction began in the Church,” when former “prophets” issued official statements explaining it in detail?

Though there is no restriction on blacks being ordained in the Mormon Church today, this doctrine was founded in racism, perpetuated by Mormon “prophets” as a “commandment from God”, and was an integral part of the church for over a hundred years.  Professor Bott was being honest and forthright about the history of the church concerning this doctrine, someone that the church hierarchy, and the apologetic arms of the church could learn a thing or two from.

NOTES

[1] http://www.fairblog.org/2012/02/28/dispelling-the-myth-of-the-curse-of-cain/

[2] ibid.

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apologetics

[4]  http://www.fairblog.org/2012/02/28/dispelling-the-myth-of-the-curse-of-cain/

[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-genesis-of-a-churchs-stand-on-race/2012/02/22/gIQAQZXyfR_story_1.html

[6] http://trevorantley.com/2012/02/28/byu-professor-randy-botts-allegedly-racist-statements-students-plan-protest/

[7] Neither Black Nor White, page 94. Online here.

[8] ibid, Appendix. Online here.

[9] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 4, p.98, Sunday, January 4, 1852.

[10] John J. Stewart and William E. Bennett, Mormonism and the Negro,” [Orem, Utah: Community Press, 1960], pp. 46-47

[11] http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/racial-remarks-in-washington-post-article

[12] http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765555343/Race-folklore-and-Mormon-doctrine.html?pg=2

[13] http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765555343/Race-folklore-and-Mormon-doctrine.html?pg=1

[14] http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-genesis-of-a-churchs-stand-on-race/2012/02/22/gIQAQZXyfR_story_3.html

Mormon Secrets & Perjuring Prophets

INTRODUCTION

It was the bi-centennial year of the birth of Joseph Smith.  In December of that year (2005) Mormon “prophet” and President Gordon B. Hinckley gave an interview to the Associated Press. In that interview, Hinckley stated,

“Understanding and appreciation come of knowledge. The more people come to know us, the better they will understand us.”[1]

The Associated Press then asked Hinckley,

“The church seems to have difficulty distancing itself from its history of polygamy. You’ve said there are no fundamentalist Mormons, but these groups still practice polygamy and still claim Joseph Smith as their own. How do you resolve that dilemma?”[2]

Who answered,

“Well, let me just say this, the doctrine came of revelation and was discontinued by revelation. We believe in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law. And so, we have very little sympathy with those who disobey the law in this manner.”[3]

Hinckley was then asked,

“Some scholars say historical records point to discrepancies with the official church history. How do you reconcile the differences? And what is the church’s position on historical scholarship?”[4]

Hinckley’s answer was clear and concise:

“Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.”[5]

Does the Mormon Church have anything to hide? Is their official history an “open book”? Does the real history of the church lead to “faith and strength and virtues”? If the Church has “very little sympathy” for those who “disobey the law”, how should members feel when they learn that church leaders  bribed Supreme Court judges, influenced elections, committed perjury, and put a gag order over its own members to keep them from recording in their diaries the minutes of Church Council meetings? Why is the church silent about such aspects of its history?

I.  UNDER “AFFIRMATION”

per·ju·ry   [pur-juh-ree]  noun, plural -ries. Law . the willful giving of false testimony under oath or affirmation, before a competent tribunal, upon a point material to a legal inquiry.

In 1902 (with the permission of the Mormon “prophet” Joseph Fielding Smith) a Mormon “apostle” named Reed Smoot was elected Senator to the newly formed State of Utah.  His election sparked an intense four-year battle about whether Smoot was eligible or should be allowed to serve, due to his position as a Mormon “apostle”. Many in the U.S. Government were convinced that his association with the church disqualified him from serving in the United States Senate. Only a few years earlier, another prominent Utah Mormon, B.H. Roberts, had been elected to the House of Representatives but was denied his seat because he practiced polygamy. Smoot was not a polygamist, but the Salt Lake Tribune had reported that church leaders continued to secretly approve of new, post-Manifesto plural marriages, and as a result, the Senate began an investigation into Smoot’s eligibility.

Mormon “prophet” Joseph F. Smith was called to testify before Congress, and his testimony is fascinating for what it reveals and doesn’t reveal. When Smith is called to testify, he will not be “sworn in”, rather he states, “I prefer to affirm, if you please.”[6] To “affirm” rather than be “sworn in” (or take an oath to tell the truth) became an option in court proceedings because of Jesus’ admonition to “not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”[7]

Joseph Fielding Smith

This is curious, because Smith obviously had no problems swearing many oaths in the Mormon Temple Ceremony, including an “oath of vengeance” against the murderers of his uncle and father.[8] Smith also seemed concerned about being known as a “spotter” or a paid informant.  He would continually evade questions and deny knowledge about events and claim he was not a “spotter”, as he did here:

“I do it

very reluctantly, simply because I am required to do so by this honorable committee. I regret it very much, and I wish to say that much to the committee, because my statements and     testimony here are going to the world, and I do not want it understood, being compelled, as I have been, to give information and to make statements of opinion in relation to my friends, that I am in any sense a spotter or an informer. If there is anything, gentlemen, that I despise it is an infamous spotter and informer, and I am not one of those. I wish to state that in order that it may go down on record.”[9]

Asked about which “apostles” might have had children by their polygamous wives, Smith claims no knowledge, and once again, that he is not a “spotter”:

Senator Overman.  You say six [apostles] are polygamists.  Now, are those or any one of them disobeying the law of the land in regard to polygamous cohabitation?
Mr. Smith.  I do not know anything about their unlawful cohabitation relations.  I only referred in my answer to the question yesterday to the fact that they were in the status of polygamists; that is, they had more wives than one.
Senator Overman.  You do not know whether they have had children born to them since the manifesto or not?
Mr. Smith.  I am happy to say that I am not a paid spotter or informer.
Senator Overman.  You might know without being a spotter.
Mr. Smith.  I do not know.

Senator Overman.  You do not know whether they have children or not?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir.
Senator Overman.  You might have answered without saying you were not a spotter.
Mr. Smith.  Excuse me; I beg pardon.[10]

Smith then commits outright perjury,

“It has been the continuous and conscientious practice and rule of the church ever since the manifesto to observe that manifesto with regard to plural marriages; and from that time till to-day there has never been, to my knowledge, a plural marriage performed in accordance with the understanding, instruction, connivance, counsel, or permission of the presiding authorities of the church, or of the church, in any shape or form; and I know whereof I speak, gentlemen, in relation to that matter.”[11]

But this wasn’t true as D. Michael Quinn explains,

“Yet for nearly two years, President Woodruff did not encourage new plural marriages and permitted only three United States residents and one local resident to marry plural wives in Mexico and Canada. That changed in 1894. At the meeting of the Presidency and Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple on 5 April 1894, President Cannon expressed regrets that there were no provisions for polygamous marriages, to which President Woodruff replied: “The day is near when there will be no difficulty in the way of good men securing noble wives.” A month later, President Woodruff wrote a letter of instruction to Apostles Brigham Young, Jr., and John Henry Smith concerning their second trip to Mexico in five months, authorizing them “in adjusting all matters that properly comes [sic] under your calling.” Whether President Woodruff added verbal clarifications, Apostle Young, who had told the Mexican Saints in February that it was impossible for any man to marry a plural wife anywhere in the world and to cancel any polygamous engagements, performed at least five plural marriages there when he returned in May-June 1894. Among these plural marriages was one for Franklin S. Bramwell, then a stake high councilman, who later wrote, “When I took my second wife I had a letter signed by President Woodruff himself and went to Mexico with a personal letter from Prest. George Q. Cannon.” President Woodruff may or may not have known that George Q. Cannon signed a recommend on his behalf at this same time for a plural marriage to be performed in the Logan Temple, but there can be no question that in October 1894 President Woodruff personally authorized Apostle Abraham H. Cannon to marry a new plural wife: “Father [George Q. Cannon] also spoke to me about taking some good girl and raising up seed by her for my brother David…. Such a ceremony as this could be performed in Mexico, so Pres. Woodruff has said.” Six months later, Wilford Woodruff gave a newspaper interview: “I hurl defiance at the world,” said President Woodruff, “to prove that the manifesto forbidding plural marriages has not been observed.”[12]

Wilford Woodruff

Smith is then asked about one of Abraham H. Canon’s marriages to Lillian Hamblin:

Mr. Tayler.  Do you know her?
Mr. Smith.  Yes; I know here now.
Mr. Tayler.  Was she his wife?
Mr. Smith.  That is my understanding, that she was his wife.
Mr. Tayler.  Do you know when he married her?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir; I do not.
Mr. Tayler.  Did you marry them?
Mr. Smith.  No, sir; I did not.

Mr. Tayler.  You did not see her in California about that time [June of 1896]?
Mr. Smith.  I did, most distinctly.
Mr. Tayler.  Where?
Mr. Smith.  In Los Angeles.
Mr. Tayler.  With whom was she there?
Mr. Smith.  She was with Abraham Cannon.
Mr. Tayler.  Was she married to him then?
Mr. Smith.  That is my understanding, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  Was she married to him when you saw her shortly before that?
Mr. Smith.  That is my belief.  That is, I do not know anything about it, but that is my belief, that she was his wife.

Mr. Tayler.
  When did you first learn that Lillian Hamlin was his wife?

Mr. Smith.  The first that I suspected anything of the kind was on that trip, [a previous trip they took together to the Provo Mines during the same month] because I never knew the lady before.[13]

That Smith knew Canon well and that they spent many hours together (outside of Quorum Meetings), is attested to by Cannon’s diary entry:

“In the afternoon I went to the races, and took John Q. [Cannon] with me in my buggy. Presidents [Wilford] Woodruff and [Joseph F.] Smith were there, and I sat in their carriage a good part of the afternoon.”[14]

These men socialized together and many were in business together.  But Smith doubles down, and reinforces his perjury:

Abraham H. Cannon

Mr. SMITH. … I should like to draw a distinction between

unlawful cohabitation and polygamy. There is a law prohibiting polygamy, plural marriages.

Senator HOAR. You mean now a law of the State of Utah ?

Mr. SMITH. I mean the law of the State, and  I mean that this is in the constitution of our State. It is required by the enabling act. That law, gentlemen, has been complied with by the church; that law has been kept by the church; and there never has been a plural marriage by the consent or sanction or knowledge or approval of the church since the manifesto.[15]

These outright lies offended many people, including Abraham’s brother Frank J. Cannon, who painfully recalled these instances of Smith’s perjury:

“Late in July, 1896, when I was in New York on business for the Presidency, I received a telegram announcing the death of my brother, Apostle Abraham H. Cannon. We had been companions all our lives; he had been the nearest to me of our family, the dearest of my friends—but even in the first shock of my grief I realized that my father would have a greater stroke of sorrow to bear than I; and in hurrying back to Salt Lake City I nerved myself with the hope that I might console him.

I found him and Joseph F. Smith in the office of the Presidency, sitting at their desks. My father turned as I entered, and his face was unusually pale in spite of its composure; but the moment he recognized me, his expression changed to a look of pain that alarmed me. He rose and put his hand on my shoulder with a tenderness that it was his habit to conceal. “I know how you feel his loss,” he said hoarsely, “but when I think what he would have had to pass through if he had lived—I cannot regret his death.”

The almost agonized expression of his face, as much as the terrible implication of his words, startled me with I cannot say what horrible fear about my brother. I asked, “Why! Why—what has happened?”

With a sweep of his hand toward Smith at his desk—a gesture and a look the most unkind I ever saw him use—he answered: “A few weeks ago, Abraham took a plural wife, Lillian Hamlin. It became known. He would have had to face a prosecution in Court. His death has saved us from a calamity that would have been dreadful for the Church—and for the state.”

“Father!” I cried. “Has this thing come back again! And the ink hardly dry on the bill that restored your church property on the pledge of honor that there would never be another case—”I had caught the look on Smith’s face, and it was a look of sullen defiance. “How did it happen?” My father replied: “I know—it’s awful. I would have prevented it if I could. I was asked for my consent, and I refused it. President Smith obtained the acquiescence of President Woodruff, on the plea that it wasn’t an ordinary case of polygamy but merely a fulfilment of the biblical instruction that a man should take his dead brother’s wife. Lillian was betrothed to David, and had been sealed to him in eternity after his death. I understand that President Woodruff told Abraham he would leave the matter with them if he wished to take the responsibility—and President Smith performed the ceremony.”

Smith could hear every word that was said. My father had included him in the conversation, and he was listening. He not only did not deny his guilt; he accepted it in silence, with an expression of sulky disrespect.

He did not deny it later, when the whole community had learned of it. He went with Apostle John Henry Smith to see Mr. P. H. Lannan, proprietor of the Salt Lake Tribune, to ask him not to attack the Church for this new and shocking violation of its covenant. Mr. Lannan had been intimately friendly with my brother, and he was distressed between his regard for his dead friend and his obligation to do his public duty. I do not know all that the Smiths said to him; but I KNOW that the conversation assumed that Joseph F. Smith had performed the marriage ceremony; I know that neither of the Smiths made any attempt to deny the assumption; and I know that Joseph F. Smith sought to placate Mr. Lannan by promising “it shall not occur again.” And this interview was sought by the Smiths, palpably because wherever the marriage of Abraham H. Cannon and Lillian Hamlin was talked of, Joseph F. Smith was named as the priest who had solemnized the offending relation. If it had not been for Smith’s consciousness of his own guilt and his knowledge that the whole community was aware of that guilt, he would never have gone to the Tribune office to make such a promise to Mr. Lannan.

Frank J. Cannon

All of which did not prevent Joseph F. Smith from testifying—in the Smoot investigation at Washington in 1904—that he did not marry Abraham Cannon and Lillian Hamlin, that he did not have any conversation with my father about the marriage, that he did not know Lillian Hamlin had been betrothed to Abraham’s dead brother, that the first time he heard of the charge that he had married them was when he saw it printed in the newspapers!*

If this first polygamous marriage had been the last—if it were an isolated and peculiar incident as the Smiths then claimed it was and promised it should be—it might be forgiven as generously now as Mr. Lannan then forgave it. But, about the same time there became public another case—that of Apostle Teasdale—and as this narrative shall prove, here was the beginning of a policy of treachery which the present Church leaders, under Joseph F. Smith, have since consistently practised, in defiance of the laws of the state and the “revelation of God,” with lies and evasions, with perjury and its subornation, in violation of the most solemn pledges to the country, and through the agency of a political tyranny that makes serious prosecution impossible and immunity a public boast.  [16]

D. Michael Quinn reveals the extent of Smith’s perjury,

“Wilford Woodruff had approved Abraham H. Cannon’s entry into a proxy polygamous marriage on behalf of his brother. When Lillian Hamlin was endowed in the Salt Lake Temple on 17 June 1896, she was sealed by proxy to the deceased David H. Cannon. Abraham H. Cannon was the proxy, and Joseph F. Smith performed the sealing. The next day, the Smiths and Cannons left Salt Lake City for California. Therefore, Joseph F. Smith actually performed his only post-Manifesto polygamous marriage as a proxy ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple for Abraham H. Cannon but could legally claim that he simply officiated in a sealing on behalf of the deceased brother.”[17]

The use of aliases was common among the Mormon Hierarchy during this period. In his diary entry of July 21, 1887, Abraham Cannon writes that John Taylor used “diff. names for the brethren (disguised) Bro. Williams for C. W. Penrose & Col. Mack for J.F.S. [Joseph Fielding Smith]”[18]

It appears that Joseph F. Smith was more concerned with being labeled an “informer” or “spotter” than he was of telling the truth under oath (or affirmation), or living by his own words of counsel,

G.Q.Cannon, W.Woodruff, J.F.Smith

“Now, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ are taught principles of truth. The word of God is truth. There is no word that God hath spoken to the children of men for their guidance that is not true. And it is the business of men and women, especially those in this Church, to learn what is the word and will of God. When they have learned it, it is their duty to accept it in their hearts, incorporate it in their lives, and abide by it. Then they become the disciples of Christ in very deed. Then they shall know the truth. They shall not merely believe the truth because it is stated by one in whom they have confidence; but they shall know the truth, and the truth shall make them free. It is only the truth that can make men free.”[19]

And chose to ignore the Doctrine and Covenants:

“Thou shalt not lie; he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out.”[20]

I’m not aware of any public confession by Joseph F. Smith for lying at the Reed Smoot Hearings.  Instead of repenting, Smith publically affirmed his perjury in the April 1904 General Conference of the Church:

“They charge us with being dishonest and untrue to our word. They charge the Church with having violated a “compact,” and all this sort of nonsense. I want to see today whether the Latter-day Saints representing the Church in this solemn assembly will not seal these charges as false by their vote… In seconding the resolution that has just been read–which I most heartily do–I desire to state at least one reason for doing it. As remarked by the president, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been accused of being covenant-breakers with this nation. Of course, there never was, and could not be, any compact between the Church and the general government of the United States. But there could be a compact between the State of Utah and the United States, and there was such a compact made in the Constitution of our state, by and through the Constitutional Convention. And now I am pleased with the opportunity of the Church saying in its official capacity that the Latter-day Saints not only now are, but have been, true to the compact between the State of Utah and the United States, and that they are true to the Constitution of the state, which, by express provision, forever prohibited plural or polygamous marriages, and made that irrevocable, without the consent of the United States. The adoption by the Church of this resolution should put to silence those who have accused us of being covenant-breakers.[21]

1904 Political Cartoon – “The Real Objection To Smoot”

Smith would later compound his perjury, by writing to the Senate Committee in Washington nine days after the Mormon Conference:

The president of the church writes me, explanatory of this, as follows:

OFFICE OF THE FIRST PRESIDENCY OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS,

Salt Lake City, Utah, April 15, 1904,

Hon. JULIUS C. BURROWS,

Chairman Committee on Privileges and Elections, United States Senate, Washington, D. C.

SIR:

It is with regret that I inform you of my inability to procure the attendance of Messrs. John Henry Smith, George Teasdale, Marriner W. Merrill, John W. Taylor, and Matthias F. Cowley before the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections.

Hon. John Henry Smith is still quite ill, but has signified his willingness to appear before the committee, if desired, as soon as his health will permit.

I am informed that Mr. Marriner.W. Merrill is still in such poor health that he is unable to leave his home.

My latest reports from Mr. Teasdale are to the effect that his health is still poor, but improving.

In accordance with the suggestion of Mr. Robert W. Tayler, I communicated to Messrs. John W. Taylor and M. F. Cowley my earnest desire that they should appear and testify before the committee, and

am in receipt of letters from them stating, in substance, that they are unwilling, voluntarily, to testify in the Smoot investigation. As this is a political matter, and not a religious duty devolving upon them or

me, I am powerless to exert more than moral suasion in the premises.

With reference to the others named the facts are as above stated.

Again expressing my sincere regret that I am unable to procure the attendance of these gentlemen, I am,

Very respectfully,

JOSEPH F. SMITH.[22]

As B. Carmon Hardy writes,

George Teasdale

“President Smith’s “sincere regret” is questionable, and his efforts to have Teasdale, Cowley, and Taylor testify were quite pretended. Teasdale, who celebrated his seventy-third birthday in 1904, may have been in declining health. He seems always to have been fragile. Yet, in the spring of 1904, at the time President Smith told the committee Teasdale was too frail to make the trip to Washington, the apostle was directed to hasten south into Mexico—an ordeal involving at least as much, and probably more, physical strain than a rail journey east. In the late summer Teasdale was healthy enough to travel north and attend three stake conferences in Arizona. In the letter containing these assignments, the apostle was instructed to see that no reports of his presence in Arizona were released to newspapers. Neither was he to let it be known what his intended course of travels was. Secretary to the First Presidency George F. Gibbs, who had a penchant for injecting his own style into official communications, wrote Teasdale that the First Presidency wished him to return to Mexico “without unnecessarily offending the righteous sensibilities of the righteous people of this the greatest nation on the top of the earth.”

Mattias F. Cowley

In a subsequent letter Teasdale, who was still in Mexico, was advised that his so-called medical advisers in Salt Lake City felt the weather yet inappropriate for his return to Utah. These same advisers had determined that if he desired a change of scenery, he could travel to Canada for a few months. Why Canada, as far from Utah as Mexico, was acceptable was undoubtedly clear to Teasdale. The communication closed by reminding the apostle that he had previously indicated that he wished to be only where the Lord wanted him to be. And that, he was being told, was to stay out of the way. Teasdale was an apostle known to have married plurally since the Manifesto, and the fact that in his testimony in Washington, D. C. , President Smith had provided a dubious scenario concerning Teasdale’s domestic affairs, more than anything associated with his health, accounted for the time the apostle spent south of the border.

Regarding apostles Taylor and Cowley, it is true both men asked to be excused from attending the hearings. Cowley, for example, wrote Smith that he wished to avoid the humiliation of exposing his family affairs to the nation’s eyes. Moreover, he said that whatever he could add to the record would but confirm what President Smith had already said in his testimony. At the same time, Cowley’s letter stated that, while he would not volunteer, he would go to Washington if subpoenaed. This was clearly a less defiant posture than that represented by President Smith to Senator Burrows.

John W. Taylor

Taylor, in his reply to the president, was more pointed, saying he felt “positive disinclinations” about going. Because of his residence in Canada at the time, he undoubtedly felt greater safety from the committee’s summons.  After receiving the letters of both men from President Smith, Smoot cut out “the whitened sepulchers” from Taylor’s letter and read them to members of the committee. The senators agreed, after hearing them, that Taylor and Cowley were both beyond President Smith’s control and that he could not force them to testify in Washington.

From the beginning there was an unmistakable note of equivocation in President Smith’s attitude about the prudence of having Taylor and Cowley testify. In the presence of Senator Smoot and his secretary, Carl A. Badger, he remarked that he felt he could persuade them to appear in Washington, provided they were not guilty of involvement in post-Manifesto marriages.90 That Smith, in making such a comment, was hedging against the discovery of what he knew to be fact was not lost on Senator Smoot. Badger recorded in his journal that Smoot volunteered, if President Smith thought best, to resign his senatorial office rather than bring sorrow on the church. Anthon H. Lund, President Smith’s counselor, said less than a month later that the First Presidency took concern when it was rumored that someone was likely to be subpoenaed who could testify to the certainty of Taylor’s post-Manifesto marriages.91 It was also said that Taylor even agreed to testify in Washington but stated that he would not compromise the truth in what he said. Supposedly, he was actually departing for Washington, D. C. , when recalled by Apostle Francis M. Lyman, who, on the authority of a warning dream, told him to stay in Canada. As much as two years later, Smoot wrote President Smith that it yet seemed best for Taylor and Cowley to remain out of reach of Congress until the investigating committee finished its work and the opportunity for successfully serving them with subpoenas had passed.[23]

This video shows Smith’s testimony about all the Corporations that he owned as Trustee in Trust for the Church. Pay attention to his testimony about the Deseret News. He claims that he doesn’t know who owned it so he could tell his questioner positively. Smith perjured himself, he did know exactly who owned it and who the officers of the company were. Here is Rudger Clawson from about a year before the Smoot Hearings:

The question was discussed. Pres. Smith thought it unfair to [p.558] advance the money without interest or any consideration. It would be only proper, he thought, for the News to share the profits of handling this publication with the church—inasmuch as they supplied the means. Some of the brethren took the view that it made but little difference, AS THE DESERET NEWS BUSINESS BELONGED TO THE CHURCH, and whatever profits there were would eventually come to the trustee-in-trust. Pres. Smith, however, did not quite endorse this view, and the matter was referred to Elder Clawson of the auditing committee to investigate and get more favorable terms. Pres. Smith at this juncture expressed some dissatisfaction with the manner in which the News is conducted, and rather spoke as if he felt that his wishes in regard to its policy were disregarded. The headlines in the News sometimes gave it the appearance of a gentile paper. As, for instance, referring to our people constantly as the “Mormons” or the great “Mormon” conference, and alluding to Senator Smoot, as Smoot. To say the least, this was disrespectful and unbecoming. Presidents Winder and Lund were appointed to have a talk with Elders [Charles W.] Penrose, [Horace G.] Whitney, and [John E.] Hansen in regard to some of these things. It was decided that all copyrights of the church publications should be assigned to the trustee-in-trust rather than to the Deseret News. (Larson, Diaries of Rudger Clawson, p.558, 19 March, 1903).

The Reed Smoot Hearings took place a year later. There is no way that F. Smith didn’t know, he was in charge of all the monies that came from and went to that business. Here is another entry from a financial report that was discussed with Joseph Fielding Smith:

[April 2, 1903]In the meeting of the Presidency and Twelve today, in behalf of the church auditing committee, I submitted the following report from the Presiding Bishop showing the receipts and disbursements of tithes for the year 1902. Also, a report from the books of the trustee-in-trust incorporating the final results as shown by the Presiding Bishop’s report and a statement of the silent assets of the church. (This report should have been included in the foregoing minutes.)

Presiding Bishop’s Office,
March 1st, 1903
GENERAL STATEMENT OF RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS
OF TITHES FOR THE YEAR 1902
Receipts
Tithes on hand, Jan. 1, 1902
P.B.O. 36,805.09 [p.575]
Stakes 355,554.70
Missions 12,787.70 405,147.49
Tithes received:
Stakes 1,363,544.66
Missions 57,506.53 1,421,051.19
Profits in handling, P.B.O. 424.00
Receipts from other sources
P.B.O. 1,013.09
Stakes 3,588.50
Missions 12,082.18 16,683.77
Total receipts 1,843,306.45
Disbursements
Losses
P.B.O. 16,871.52
Stakes 25,177.50 42,049.02
Bishops’ percentage
P.B.O. 7,928.00
Stakes 123,148.41 131,076.41
Improvements
P.B.O. 114.60
Stakes 40,169.23 40,283.83
General expenses
P.B.O. 7,917.92 [7918.16]
Stakes 14,138.00
Missions 106.00 22,162.16
Mission Maintenance 23,077.88
Paid trustee-in-trust
Cash 902,631.86
Orders 285,528.63 1,188,160.49
Balance on hand, Dec. 31, 1902:
P.B.O. 46,475.88
Stakes 339,804.00
Missions 10,216.78 396,496.66
Total 1,843,306.45
Audited Mch. 27, 1902, and submitted April 2, 1903.
(Signed) Rudger Clawson,
Reed Smoot,
Auditing Committee.

GENERAL REPORT
Surplus
Net surplus at the office of trust-in-trust 2,001,659.21
Tithes on hand in stakes of Zion, Jan. 1, 1903 396,496.66
Total 2,398,155.87
Silent Assets of the Church
Real estate:
Coal lands &c. 180,914.78
Tithing properties in stakes 325,801.12 506,805.90
B. Y. Academy, Provo, loan 100,262.41
Josepa Agricultural Co., owe on acct. 50,000.00
Total 666,068.31
Recapitulation
Surplus and tithes on hand, Jan. 1, 1903 2,398,155.87
Silent assets of the church 666,068.31
Total 3,064,224.18
Submitted,
(signed) Rudger Clawson,
Reed Smoot.
Data taken from Presiding Bishop’s general reports.
Net increase in tithing in 1902 over 1901 10,662.34
Net increase of cash tithing in 1902 over 1901 31,733.03

Total tithing paid in stakes 1,363,544.66; of this amount $1,049,541.73 was forwarded to the Presiding Bishop’s office, and $342,721 was disbursed locally. Total loss in handling tithes was 2.1%. Amt. paid to bishops for handling tithes was $123,148.41 or 9% of the total tithing received. The trustee-in-trust received 99.1[%] of the cash tithing of 1902. All the local expenses in the Stakes were paid or could have been paid from the profits in exchanges. Amount paid to the worthy poor—$95,713.92; of this amount the trustee-in-trust paid 36%, the fast offerings covered 40%, and Relief Society and sundry offerings covered 24%.

Number of tithe-payers in the church in 1901 were 74,625 [p.577]
Number of tithe-payers in the church in 1902 were 74,764
Net increase 139
Number of non-tithe-payers in 1901 10,859
Number. of non-tithe-payers in 1902 12,412
Increase 1,553

Number of non-tithe-payers, showing priesthood: 243 high priests; 656 seventies; 3396 elders; 584 priests; 600 teachers; 1966 deacons; 7445 total priesthood; 4967 members; 12,412 total.

Brother Clawson explained that if the foregoing Presiding Bishop’s report were approved, it would be copied into the trustee-in-trust’s record of assets and liabilities of the church, and the net results, namely, the tithes on hand, Jan. 1, 1903, would be carried into the trustee-in-trust’s general ledger. The said ledger would then show the exact financial status of the church with the exception of the Deseret News business, which the committee would report upon at an early day. Upon motion of Elder Jno. H. Smith the report was received, approved, and placed on file. (Larson, Diaries of Rudger Clawson, p.574-577)

 

II. LESSONS LEARNED FROM PERJURY?

In the wake of his testimony at the Reed Smoot Hearings, as Joseph F. Smith continued his lying in front of the entire Mormon Church, he probably began to wonder how he was going to keep the truth from getting out.  The case of Abraham H. Cannon was of particular concern to him, and Smith brought it up at a Council Meeting in October, 1904:

“Pres. [Joseph F.] Smith said that he wanted to refer to a matter that had given him much concern—namely, the private journals of the brethren of the council. Many things were written in them which, if they were to fall into the hands of the enemy, might bring trouble upon the church. After the death of the brethren, you cannot tell what may become of their journals, and even now the brethren felt an anxiety in relation to Pres. Geo. Q. Cannon’s journal, who made a pretty full account of everything that transpired in the councils of the brethren; the same with Abram Cannon and others. Elder Jno. H. Smith said that he was very much concerned about this matter and had been for a long time and felt ‘that some action should be taken in the premises. Pres. Winder said that it was very unsafe and risky for the brethren to write down that which occurred in these meetings. This duty belonged to the clerk of the council and nobody else. Pres. Winder moved that it be the sense and feeling of the council that the brethren should not write in their journals that which took place in the council meetings. Carried by unanimous vote. Meeting adjourned. Benediction by Elder Jno. H. Smith.”[24]

John R. Winder, Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund

CONCLUSION

Ironically, the diaries of Abraham H. Cannon were recently published (all except the last year, which is lost), and what they reveal about the church is that it has not been “clear and open” and that they in fact had much to hide. How strange that one “prophet” would claim that “the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues” and another that it “might bring trouble upon the church”, and that the “apostles” of said church would feel “anxiety” over “pretty full account[s] of everything that transpired in the councils of the brethren” and that it would be “unsafe and risky” for them to “write down that which occurred in these meetings”, or have them made known to the public.

There is much about Mormon history that is left out of the “official” accounts.  One would hope that Mormons, (As Joseph Fielding Smith taught) “shall not merely believe the truth because it is stated by one in whom they have confidence”; hopefully they will investigate and really know the truth, because  “it is only the truth that can make men free.”

ABRAHAM H. CANNON DIARY EXCERPTS

April 6th, 1884–Last day of Gen. Conf. “At a Priesthood meeting held in the evening (after the Hall was cleared of all those who were not worthy of being present by arranging the brethren according to wards and stakes) the strongest language in regard to Plural Marriage was used that I ever heard, and among other things it was stated that all men in positions who would not observe and fulfill that law should be removed from their places. The Spirit of the Lord rested powerfully upon the First Presidency each of whom addressed the meeting. All present felt the force of the remarks made.”

June 9, 1884–He called on Sis. Eliza R. Snow Smith Young: “. . . and in the course of our conversation she said she heard the Prophet Joseph once remark, `when the ten tribes were taken away, the earth was divided, so that they occupy a separate planet from this.’ This was news to me.”

May 10, 1885: Went out to “the Penn” to visit “our imprisoned brethren.” “They are all feeling quite well and as happy as possible under the circumstances. They have a few priveleges not granted to other prisoners, such as having their own beds, receiving milk, etc.”

May 18, 1885: At a mtg. in President’s office about the present crusade. “It seems that some so-called Saints in various parts of the country are beginning to weaken and talk of compromise [concerning polygamy]. Some of the leading men in Idaho are even in this frame of mind. Such talk is an evidence to me of utter lack of faith in God and His promises.”

June 30, 1885: Attended court part of the day where Bro. F. A. Brown’s case was called. The forenoon was occupied in getting a jury, and in the afternoon at his own request he was sworn as a witness. He was then permitted to read a paper in which he gave a short review of his past life, admitting his marriage with two women and saying that he would rather have his head severed from his body than to deny his religion and his God. After his testimony the case went to the jury who brought in a verdict of guilty with a recommendation for mercy. . . . As I was returning home I went to the Co-op store where a large crowd had gathered. By suggestion of some of our leaders the flags over which the “Mormons” had control were mostly placed at half mast in mourning for the sad persecution now going on in our midst. The flags at the city hall and court house had already been raised to the masthead at the command of a few anti-Mormons, and now, at 5 p.m. they had assembled at ZCMI with threats of using force in hoisting the flag. The police were there in numbers, however, and no attempt at violence was made. Finally Wm. Jennings and Thos. G. Webber came and had the stars and stripes raised, to the utter disgust of the many staunch Saints. Threats were then made to raise the flags on the Gardo House, Presidents Office, Tithing and Des. News offices, the Temple and Tabernacle, but they continued to wave in their half-mast positions until dark. In the evening a number of friends assembled at my home and we had an exhibition of fireworks until quite a late hour. At the celebration in Ogden today Apostle Moses Thatcher threw a bomb- shell into the camp of the Liberals by reciting some of Utah’s sufferings because of religious bigotry. His statements were too true to rest easy on the minds of the anti-Mormons and he was reprimanded by Judge Powers, the orator of the day. Gentiles are really beginning to think that the Saints are in rebellion.

Nov. 10, 1885: “A notice was published in tonight’s News signed by all of the Apostles except Geo. Teasdale who is absent, stating that [Apostle] Albert Carrington had been cut off from the Church for lewd and lascivious cohabitation and adultery. These acts are said to have been mostly of recent occurrence. This action caused everyone to be surprised.”

March, 1888: In the afternoon Apostle F. D. Richards spoke on the duties of the Saints, and I also spoke for about 25 minutes in a confused way. I fear that I counted too much on my own wisdom in arising to speak, and I felt very much chagrined when I resumed my seat. I hope the lesson will not be lost on me. As we drove home Father [George Q. Cannon] told me that all his success in life was due to his zeal for the work of God. Men gave him credit for much more ability than he possessed, but whatever talents he did possess he had tried to use to the glory of God. In his speaking he had never desired to be sensational but to be sound in doctrine. He asked me what I understood concerning Mary conceiving the Savior; and as I found no answer, he asked what was to prevent Father Adam from visiting and overshadowing the mother of Jesus. “Then,” said I, “He must have been a resurrected Being.” “Yes,” said he, “and though Christ is said to have been the first fruits of them that slept, yet the Savior said he did nothing but what He had seen His Father do, for He had power to lay down His life and take it up again. Adam, though made of dust, was made, as Pres. Young said, of the dust of another planet than this.” I was very much instructed by the conversation and this day’s services.

April 7, 1889: . . .Apostles Moses Thatcher and Heber J. Grant in the presence of Bros. Gates and Morgan ordained two High Priests who were going on missions to be Seventies. This is an innovation, for while I believe that a Seventy holds the higher office, there are some, even among the Twelve, who think a High Priest is higher. This settles the matter as far as these two missionaries are concerned.

June 23, 1889–Geo. Q. Cannon is teaching the gospel to A.H. He taught: (1) “That all men, even the sons of perdition, will be resurrected.” (2) “That Jesus Christ is Jehovah”. (3) “That Adam is His Father and our God”. (4) That under certain unknown conditions the benefits of the Savior’s atonement extend to our solar system.”

October 7, 1889: October: . . .At 3 p.m. I attended a meeting of the Twelve at the Gardo House where Bros. Merrill, Lund and myself were set apart as Apostles in the order named. Pres. Woodruff set apart the first, Father [George Q. Cannon] the second, and Bro. Joseph F. [Smith] myself. Our charge was first given us by Father at Pres. W’s instance. The importance of our callings was portrayed, and our privileges were named. Among these were the privileges of having the ministration of angels, and of seeing the Savior Himself; of hearing the voice of God as audibly as we hear a man’s voice; of continually being under the direction of the Holy Ghost; of being prophets and revelators; and of many other things of which I have a verbatim copy, as also of my blessing and ordination, in which I was promised everything my heart desired in righteousness if faithful.

Oct. 7, 1889: About 1 p.m. all were excused from the room except the pres[idents] of stakes, their counselors and the leading authorities, when political matters were discussed. Our danger of losing the election in this city was mentioned and it was proposed that those stakes who could spare young men to come to this city and acquire residence so as to be able to vote, do so, and that we here provide employment and pay for such. Our enemies intend to run in miners, railroad graders, and every available man to win the election, and it will require all our efforts to foil their plans.

Oct. 21, 1889: About 5 p.m. Bro. Jorgason of Sevier Co[unty] desired my counsel as to what course he should take. He was arrested two weeks since on a bench warrant on a charge of polygamy. His first wife died 18 months ago and he has since married his plural wife before a justice of the peace. I advised him to keep his wife out of the way until after his trial, and when his case came up, he should prove the death of his first wife and subsequent marriage to his second. The date of his union with the latter, however, in the house of the Lord, he should not reveal, as it has occurred within three years.

Nov. 27, 1889 (at Fillmore)–Two young unmarried people have committed fornication. “Bro. Kelly (1st Counselor in stake pres.) was told that on asking forgiveness they should be permitted to receive re-baptism and not be cut off; but where persons thus sin who have received their endowments, they must be excommunicated.”

Dec. 6, 1889: . . . In speaking of the recent examination before Judge Anderson, Father said that he understood when he had his endowments in Nauvoo that he took an oath against the murderers of the Prophet Joseph as well as other prophets, and if he had ever met any of those who had taken a hand in that massacre he would undoubtedly have attempted to avenge the blood of the martyrs. The Prophet charged Stephen Markham to avenge his blood should he be slain; after the Prophet’s death, Bro. Markham attempted to tell this to an assembly of the Saints, but Willard Richards pulled him down from the stand, as he feared the effect on the enraged people. Bro. Joseph F. Smith was traveling some years ago near Carthage, when he met a man who said he had just arrived five minutes too late to see the Smiths killed. Instantly a dark cloud seemed to overshadow Bro. Smith and he asked how this man looked upon the deed. Bro. S. was oppressed by a most horrible feeling as he waited for a reply. After a brief pause the man answered, “Just as I have always looked upon it–that it was a d. . .d cold- blooded murder.” The cloud immediately lifted from Bro. Smith and he found that he had his open pocket knife grasped in his hand in his pocket, and he believes that had this man given his approval to that murder of the prophets, he would have immediately struck him to the heart.

Dec. 8, 1889: Father briefly mentioned two cases with which he was familiar where men were killed in a violent way for the reason, as he believed, that they took the name of God in vain and were very profane.

Dec. 19, 1889: During our meeting a revelation was read which Pres. Woodruff received Sunday evening, Nov. 24th. Propositions had been made for the Church to make some concessions to the Courts in regard to its principles. Both of Pres. Woodruff’s counselors refused to advise him as to the course he should pursue, and he therefore laid the matter before the Lord. The answer came quick and strong. The word of the Lord was for us not to yield one particle of that which He had revealed and established. He had done and would continue to care for His work and those of the Saints who were faithful, and we need have no fear of our enemies when we were in the line of our duty. We are promised redemption and deliverance if we will trust in God and not in the arm of flesh. We were admonished to read and study the Word of God, and to pray often. The whole revelation was filled with words of the greatest encouragement and comfort, and my heart was filled with joy and peace during the entire reading. It sets all doubts at rest concerning the course to pursue.

Feb. 28, 1890: After a bitter cold night we had a very cold day. From 7 till 10:30 a.m. I was busy at the office reading proofs preparing copy, etc. At the latter hour I went by invitation to the Gardo House. There, where we usually hold our prayer circle, the following brethren met: Presidents Woodruff, Cannon and Smith, Bros. John R. Winder, B. Y. Hampton, F. Armstrong, J. W. Fox, Jr., N. V. Jones, Geo. Reynolds, Arthur Winter and myself. Before the business of the meeting commenced we were all placed under obligation to keep the matter entirely secret. Pres. Woodruff then stated that his mind had been considerably exercised of late in regard to the prospect of our people being taxed under “Liberal” rule to such an extent as to ruin them. After thought and prayer on the subject he felt impressed that we should carefully begin to sell our surplus property at the exorbitant figures now being paid by outsiders for real estate, and reinvest our money on good security, thus shifting the burden of taxation from our shoulders to those of our enemies. All the brethren expressed their approval in general of the plan, and Father expressed the idea that he believed the Lord was, for some good purpose, turning the tide of Gentile wealth in our direction, and he felt that we should take advantage of the event. The necessity of perfect secrecy and the utmost care in this movement was apparent to all for should it once be known among the Saints that it would not meet with disapproval to sell their property to speculators a great panic would immediately ensue. Bros. Winder, Armstrong, Hampton, Fox and Jones and I were appointed a committee to take this matter in hand and work it up.

Apr. 23, 1890: I listened this forenoon to a narration by Bp. Timothy Winters of Rexburg [Idaho] of the course of [Stake] Pres. Thos. E. Ricks of the Bannock Stake. Bro. Winters has received notice to prepare for a mission to New Zealand in August next, and he believes that Pres. R. has been instrumental in having him called through spite because their views have not been alike. I learned through Bp. Winters, whom I am at liberty to quote as authority, that Pres. R. is very arbitrary in his way thus creating a feeling against him among the people. He also drinks and has been seen more than once in a drunken condition. About five weeks ago as he was returning from Salt Lake he joined some of the Home Missionaries who had been laboring in Eagle Rock and Pocatello and rode with them to Market Lake. At the latter place as they were waiting for a team to convey them to Rexburg, he invited these brethren and some strangers who were present to step up to the bar and drink with him and then play cards. The brethren refused to drink, but indulged in card-playing. He, however, drank until he was intoxicated and also played cards. These matters are talked about in the stake and are sure to injure his standing. … The city council, in last evening’s session, granted a franchise on the State Road to the Rapid Transit Street R[ail] R[oad] Company of which I own some stock. They also gave the Liberal band permission to hold sacred concerts on Sunday evenings in the [Salt Lake] Theatre or Opera House. This they did notwithstanding the protest of the various ministers in this city, and the feelings of the great majority who oppose it. The sacred stillness of our Sabbath is thus to be broken by creatures who have no respect for the Lord or His laws.

July 24, 1890: Andrew J. Burt called to report some of his negotiations with three “Liberal” leaders—McCallum, Morris and an unknown—for the prevention of illegal voting, which, if successful, means the election of the People’s Ticket. The price they want is between twenty and thirty thousand dollars. Father called a council of the Apostles, and we all felt that Bro. Burt should continue his negotiations, but on the plan of giving only $1,00000 down and the remainder payable on the election of our ticket throughout this County. We all felt that this means would be well spent if it brought triumph to our side. Thus the proposition is made to pay men to be honest or to prevent fraud.

July 28, 1890: The country through which we today passed is rapidly building up, and a few years, I think, will see it thickly populated. I asked Pres. Parkinson to give me a chance to purchase a building lot in Preston near the academy when the land is plotted. This will be a good place for “undergrounders.”

Sept. 26, 1890: There is considerable comment and fault-finding among some of the Saints because of a manifesto which Pres. Woodruff issued on the 24th inst., in reply to a statement made by the Utah Commission that plural marriages were still authorized and celebrated, and that within the past year some 40 or more had been performed. Pres. W. denied this allegation, and said that such marriages were forbidden by the Church in this Territory, and he called upon the Saints to submit to the law of the land in this particular. In his declaration, however, there is no renunciation of principle nor abandonment of families recommended, as some fault-finders try to make it appear.

Oct. 17, 1890: Uncle David [Cannon] came in about noon and told me that he had just had a conversation with Lindsey Sprague, a deputy marshal, who told him that there were papers out for my arrest, but it was not the intention to serve them until my family were located and where they could be captured. I got Chas. H. Wilcken to investigate the matter for me and he learned that it was indeed a fact that a warrant was issued and in Doyle’s hands for my arrest. I therefore kept in my room all the afternoon.

Oct. 18, 1890: I … spent some time at my room until Bro. Wilcken came and informed me that he had bought Doyle off and had got his promise that I should not be molested, nor should any other person without sufficient notice being given for them to escape, and to get witnesses out of the way. He gave Bro. Wilcken the names of some 51 persons whose arrest he intended to try and effect on a trip he and another deputy intend to undertake today, through Utah and Emery counties. A messenger was therefore despatched to give these people warning. Thus with a little money a channel of communication is kept open between the government offices and the suffering and persecuted Church members.

Nov. 2, 1890: In relation to S[amuel] F. Ball who desires to go to Mexico and get a fourth wife, Father said it could not be done, as such things had ceased to occur even there. One young man who recently had this privilege, came back and allowed the knowledge of it to go out, and thus put the Church in danger. Father feels, as I do, that it is best to entirely cease the performance of such marriages for the present and thus make the brethren more appreciative of present blessings. …

Nov. 18, 1890: A saloon has been opened in Deseret by one of the brethren—Hawley. He has built a nice brick structure, and had a dance there last night and another tonight for opening. Nearly all the Saints attended[,] a notice of the parties having been given in Sunday meeting, and the proprietor of the saloon having been called to dismiss the meeting.

Dec. 18, 1890: . . .Father holds that we who live on the earth now and are faithful, will stand at the head of our lineage and will thus become Saviors as has been promised us. Pres. John Taylor was not sealed to his parents though they died in the Church, as he felt that it was rather lowering himself to be thus sealed when he was an apostle and his father was a high priest; but this is rather a questionable proceeding. Before separating we administered to Pres. Woodruff for his severe cold. Father was mouth.

Jan. 26, 1891: Quite a large number of plural wives are now living in Franklin [Idaho], as it is considered safe for them to do so[,] there being no law of the state yet enacted against the practice of the Saints. Besides it is doubtful if a man could be punished if he has his wife in different States or Territories

January 30, 1891: After some little discussion it was decided that it will be best for Z.C.M.I. and other corporations to cease paying tithing on their earnings but leave the stockholders to pay from their dividends. The custom, however, of deducting the tithing from the wages of employees was not discontinued. It was thought proper in some instances to induce eastern Gentiles of respectability to take stock with us in some of our large corporations. They would thus feel interested in protecting us in case of attack on our institutions. It was reported that there are many thieves working in Z.C.M.I. whose thefts have been discovered. Whether to make public examples of them or merely discharge them, was referred to the Board of Directors.

Apr. 9, 1891:  Went to the Gardo House at 2 o’clock and spent about 2 hrs. there. We did not hold our prayer circle, as there was so much business demanding immediate attention. The polygamist [Hans] Jespersen, who is now in prison, and was married in the Endowment House just before it was demolished, threatens to tell who performed the ceremony unless something is done for him immediately. The person [Franklin D. Richards] is liable, if discovered, to two years’ imprisonment and a $1,00000 fine, for officiating in a plural marriage. It was decided that F[rancis] M. Lyman and James Jack visit him and others of the 18 brethren now imprisoned, tomorrow, and assure them that no pains shall be spared to effect their release. They will be advised to sign a dispatch to the U.S. Att[orne]y. Gen[era]’l in Washington [D.C.], promising hereafter to obey the law. Jespersen is to be counseled to telegraph to Utah Pros[ecuting] Att[orne]y [Charles S.] Varian, who is now in Washington, making a similar promise. Thus the effort will be made to immediately relieve these brethren, who are now confined in their cells for 22 out of 24 hrs., and are not by themselves, but mixed up with the “toughs.” Warden [Oscar] Vandercook will be asked to authenticate the prisoners’ messages.

June 29, 1891: We had considerable talk over the conditions existing here, and felt that everything is moving along satisfactorily. The change in sentiment towards our people is exhibited in the fact that ex-Marshal F[rank] H. Dyer called Heber J. Grant out of a [Salt Lake] Herald Directors’ meeting a few days ago, and told him that one of his plural wives had been located in this city by the deputies, and said, “For G–d’s sake, get her away, Grant, for we can’t afford to have the Vice-President of this company arrested for violating the law.” Heber did get her away.

Feb. 9, 1892: In the afternoon spent a short time at the [Church] President’s office where the advisability of dividing the Summit Stake in two, and making a new Stake in Wyoming was considered. The object of doing so was to prevent [Stake] Pres. W[illiam] W. Cluff, who is an ardent Democrat, from using his influence with the people of his Stake in Wyoming to make them Democrats, instead of leaving them as they now are, Republicans. The division would make the Stake in Wyoming number but 646 souls, and would also make the Summit Stake, which is now very small, still smaller. It was decided to call Pres. Cluff to an interview, and if he will promise to use his influence to keep the Saints as far as possible in the Republican party, to not divide the Stake. Geo. F. Gibbs and Robt. Campbell were selected to go quietly to Logan and work to make the Republican ticket successful in the approaching city election, which takes place on the 1st of March. The registration lists now show that the Republicans outnumber the Democrats, but there is quite a number of neutral voters whom it is desired to convert to Republicanism so as to make the party abundantly strong.

Mar. 16, 1892: In the afternoon I was at the President’s office to hear the complaints of the Territorial Central Committee of the Democratic Party concerning the alleged Church influence which was used to make the recent election in Logan a Republican instead of a Democratic victory. There were present Presidents [Wilford] Woodruff and [Joseph F.] Smith, F[ranklin] D. Richards, Moses Thatcher, John H. Smith, myself, Geo. F. Gibbs, Sam. Merritt, Jos. L. Rawlins, W[aldemar] Van Cott, F[rank] H. Dyer, F[ranklin] S. Richards, LeGrand Young, R[ichard] W. Young, J[ames] H[enry] Moyle, Robt. Sloan, G[eorge] W. Thatcher, and Jos. Kimball. Mr. Merritt opened the interview by saying there was evidence on hand in the form of affidavits to show that Geo. F. Gibbs and other members of the Church had stated that the Presidency had sent them privately to Logan to influence voters to cast their ballots for the Republican ticket. He (Merritt) did not believe this had been done by the authorities, but he felt that it was due to the Democrats as well as to themselves [and] that the Presidency of the Church should make public announcement that they did not empower Mr. Gibbs or any other person to use their names to influence voters. A mass of affidavits were then read to prove that ecclesiastical influence had been used for this purpose, and then remarks were made by all of the Democratic committee present, and some of these remarks were not mild. All denounced the using of Church influence in political matters, and the dangers of so doing were portrayed in bright colors. When these men had finished Pres. Woodruff thanked them for coming to him with the matter, and said he had used no influence whatever, and no person had his authority for using his name in this connection. G. F. Gibbs disclaimed any right to use the names of the Presidency, and said he had not done so in the way the affidavits claimed. Pres. Smith also denied having authorized the use of his name. I then spoke a few words in defense of Father, and told them that he was for a division in all sincerity, and he did not play with such matters. It was about 5 o’clock when the interview ended, we having been together about three and a half hours

March 29th, 1892. . . I asked Jos. F. Smith why it was that Ham’s son Canaan was cursed instead of Ham for exposing his Father’s person. He said that the Prophet Joseph is credited with saying that the sin of Ham consisted in trying to casterate his father, Noah, and kill his brothers, Shem and Japeth, so that he might become the head of the nations of the earth. Ham had married a daughter of Cain, and by him the curse was carried through the flood. The seed of this union is the Egyptians, who are not black, but after Ham’s curse, his seed were entirely black. Hence the difference between the races who now inhabit Africa.

We continued our meeting. Pres. Snow said he felt that when any question came up among us on which the majority were clear, should there be one who did not see as the others, that one should be willing to yield his views to those of the majority, and leave the responsibility of the course pursued with them. –John W. Taylor spoke in relation to the Manifesto: “I do not know that that thing was right, though I voted to sustain it, and will assist to maintain it; but among my father’s papers I found a revelation given him of the Lord, and which is now in my possession, in which the Lord told him that the principle of plural marriage would never be overcome. Pres. Taylor desired to have it suspended, but the Lord would not permit it to be done. At the close of John W.’s remarks our meeting adjourned till tomorrow at 10 o’clock. I closed with prayer.

May 26, 1892: At two o’clock I was at my Quorum meeting where were present all the Presidency and myself, as also Bro. [Francis M.] Lyman; Geo. Gibbs, clerk. Bro. Jos. F. Smith was mouth in prayer. Thereafter some conversation followed as to whether Adam is our God or not. There are some in the Church who do not accept of the statement of Pres. [Brigham] Young that such is the case, but to me it seems reasonable to think that Adam has at least much to do with our present condition, and will control greatly our future destiny.

Dec. 17, 1892: At my Quorum meeting on Thursday the brethren were told that our success in the Church suits was in a great measure due to the fact that we have a partner of Justice [Stephen J.] Field of the Supreme Court of the United States in our employ, who is to receive a percentage of the money if the suits go in our favor, and the property is returned to us. It was decided at this meeting that we would dispense with the services of the Church attorneys at the end of the year. Those now employed are F[ranklin] S. Richards and Le Grand Young. The former receives $5,000 per year, and the latter $3,000. The latter has felt some reluctance at accepting his pay for the work now being done, but the former has felt it was his due.

July 19, 1893: Three more Denver banks went to the wall today because of the runs made on them. By request of the Salt Lake bankers we [Deseret News] suppressed the exciting news from Denver, so that the people here might not become needlessly alarmed at the situation. Our bank statements published today show a very healthy condition.

October 10, 1893: “He [George Q.Cannon] believes the time will come when marriages will occur in our temples under the Aaronic Priesthood, instead of giving to young and inexperienced men all the blessings belonging to the Higher Priesthood. It is frequently the case now that unworthy persons go into the temples on recommends, which they should not receive, but it cannot well be prohibited them to enter, because of their family connections. He hoped this change would occur soon. The brethren should pay their tithes and offerings promptly and fully, and thus aid the Church in its difficultly. Men should not sell their honor, their wife’s virtue or their inheritances. We should hold all of these sacred. Pres. Woodruff and Jos. F. Smith approved of all that had been said, and the latter spoke at some length on the false doctrines which are now being circulated.

Nov. 9 1893: . . . Pres. Woodruff told of himself and David Patten being in Tennessee on a mission. While there Bro. Patten had a journey of 40 miles to make one day, but when he went out to get the mule he had procured for this labor, he was on the ground nearly dead with the colic. Bro. Patten said: “See here, old fellow, this won’t do! You have got to carry me 40 miles today, and with these words he stepped up to the animal, laid his hands on the animal, and blessed him. The mule immediately arose, and made the journey. Pres. Woodruff said that was the only time in his life when his faith had been tried, but he thought it strange for an Elder to administer to a mule, and thus do what seemed sacrilege in his mind at that time. –Bro. Joseph F. Smith told of his mother having one of her oxen become sick when she was coming to the valley with her family. The captain of the company said the animal would die, but she got out a bottle of consecrated oil, and got two of the brethren to administer to the ox, and it recovered. Father also had one of his cattle healed by the laying on of hands by himself. The animal accidentally got its leg badly hurt, and it looked as though it could no more travel, but Father slipped out after dark and administered to it, and it recovered and made the journey home. — Bro. J. F. Smith told about David Patten having seen and walked with Cain. Cain is described as being a very large man, his head being even with that of David Patten when the latter was seated on his animal. I always entertained the idea that Cain was dead, but my attention was called to the passage of scripture concerning the curse of God which should fall upon whoever should slay Cain. I supposed this meant whoever should kill his seed.

March 25, 1894 . . .Bro. Roskelly of the Logan temple is having a considerable number of persons who are dead sealed and adopted to him. This is right where people request it, but he should not try to induce them to take this course through their surviving relatives, or in their own cases, if alive. Pres. Woodruff will write him to not try to get people to be thus sealed to him, but where they ask it of their own free will it will be proper.

March 28, 1894: . . . I [Pres. Woodruff] was sealed to my father, and then had him sealed to the Prophet Joseph. Erastus Snow was sealed to his father though the latter was not baptized after having heard the Gospel. He was, however, kind to the Prophet, and was a Saint in everything except baptism. The Lord has told me that it is right for children to be sealed to their parents, and they to their parents just as far back as we can possibly obtain the records; and then have the last obtainable member sealed to the Prophet Joseph, who stands at the head of this dispensation. It is also right for wives whose husbands never heard the Gospel to be sealed to those husbands, providing they are will to run the risk of their receiving the Gospel in the Spirit world. There is yet very much for us to learn concerning the temple ordinances, and God will make it known as we prove ourselves ready to receive it. In searching out my genealogy I found about four hundred of my female kindred who were never married. I asked Pres. Young what I should do with them. He said for me to have them sealed to me unless there were more than 999 of them. The doctrine startled me, but I had it done.

March 1894: . . . Speaking of Salina, and the great number of non-Mormons living there, he (Bp. Jensen) said that Pres. Brigham Young once said that it would require a very good Saint to live in Saline, and not lose the faith, as the spot on which the city is built has been the scene of many in ancient battle in times when the Nephites and Lamanites were at war with each other. The pass through the mountains is the lowest here of any place in the Wasatch range. The spirits of the ancient dead still hover around this place. Bro. Jensen says it seems as though all the apostates gravitate to this place. He also says that out of all the young men who have been born and reared in this place he only knows two who have any faith. Were it not for the good teachers he has in the ward, the powers of evil would undoubtedly gain the ascendancy.

Oct. 24, 1894: . . . The Presidents Woodruff and Smith both say they were willing for such a ceremony (sealing David to a wife) to occur, if done in Mexico, and Pres. Woodruff promised the Lord’s blessing to follow such an act. Father said Uncle Angus could sound Annie on the matter, and I was willing to leave it in that way.

Nov. 16, 1894: “When Pres. Woodruff first met him [Joseph Smith] and his brother Hyrum they were coming in from target shooting with pistols, which they held in their hands. Bro. Joseph remarked that he was intending to go up to Missouri, and thought he would have to do some shooting, and wanted first to see if he could hit anything.

Oct. 1, 1895: . . . Bro. Lyman related of the joining to the church of several old-time Mormons, and said he could not help feeling sorry for these men who have lost so much time and so many blessings by their apostasy. –Some desultory talk was now had in which the following truths were told: Joseph Smith tried the faith of the Saints many times by his peculiarities. At one time he had preached a powerful sermon on the Word of Wisdom, and immediately thereafter he rode through the streets of Nauvoo smoking a cigar. Some of the brethren were tried as was Abraham of old. The Prophet said that the scripture concerning the putting of new wine into old bottles referred to the teaching of the Gospel to old traditionated people, many of whom were unable to stand the new truths. Even baptism for the dead was once unacceptable to the Saints.

Nov. 14, 1895: SLC “Father [George Q. Cannon] felt that some investigation should be had of the conduct of [Moses] Thatcher & [B. H.] Roberts before they receive any ecclesiastical appointments in the Church. Pres. Snow said he could not fellowship them until they made things right, nor could any of the Quorum do so. It was decided to leave any investigation of their affairs until after Statehood, as trouble might otherwise ensue because of the exercise of church discipline.”

NOTES

[1] Gordon B. Hinckley Dec. 25, 2005 interview with The Associated Press, see also http://www.deseretnews.com/article/635171604/Pres-Hinckley-answers-myriad-questions-about-the-LDS-Church.html?pg=2

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

[6] Reed Smoot Transcript, page 80.

[7] Matthew 5:34-37 The most infamous example of the Mormon “death oaths” was the “oath of vengeance”. The oath of vengeance was an addition made to the Nauvoo Endowment under the direction of Brigham Young by 1845 in the Nauvoo Temple, after the death of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum.  Participants agreed to be bound by the following oath, or something substantially similar:

“You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and to your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.”

David John Buerger writes, “On 14 December 1904, the Washington Times and the New York Herald featured front-page photographs of a man in purported endowment clothing, depicting signs and penalties. Testimony during this hearing as well as other previously published unfriendly discussions of this oath indicate that, commencing by 1845 in the Nauvoo Temple ceremony as administered by Brigham Young, the oath of vengeance was routinely given to all initiates.” (The Development of the Mormon Temple Endowment CeremonyDialogue, Vol. 20, No. 4, p.53, Winter 1987).

Abraham Cannon in his diary, gives this chilling account of how Joseph F. Smith almost literally fulfilled this oath:

“In speaking of the recent examination before Judge Anderson, Father said that he understood when he had his endowments in Nauvoo that he took an oath against the murderers of the Prophet Joseph as well as other prophets, and if he had ever met any of those who had taken a hand in that massacre he would undoubtedly have attempted to avenge the blood of the martyrs. The Prophet charged Stephen Markham to avenge his blood should he be slain; after the Prophet’s death, Bro. Markham attempted to tell this to an assembly of the Saints, but Willard Richards pulled him down from the stand, as he feared the effect on the enraged people. Bro. Joseph F. Smith was traveling some years ago near Carthage, when he met a man who said he had just arrived five minutes too late to see the Smiths killed. Instantly a dark cloud seemed to overshadow Bro. Smith and he asked how this man looked upon the deed. Bro. S. was oppressed by a most horrible feeling as he waited for a reply. After a brief pause the man answered, “Just as I have always looked upon it–that it was a d. . .d cold- blooded murder.” The cloud immediately lifted from Bro. Smith and he found that he had his open pocket knife grasped in his hand in his pocket, and he believes that had this man given his approval to that murder of the prophets, he would have immediately struck him to the heart.” (Diary of Abraham H. Cannon, Friday, Dec. 6th, 1889).

[8] For some examples of the Temple Endowment Oaths, see http://www.i4m.com/think/temples/temple_oaths.htm

[9] Reed Smoot Transcript, page 149.

[10] ibid, page 202.

[11] ibid, page 129.

[12] D. Michael Quinn, Dialogue, Vol.18, No.1, p.62-63, Spring 1985

[13] Reed Smoot Transcript, page 111.

[14] Diary of Abraham H. Cannon, June 21, 1893.

[15] ibid, page 130.

[16] Frank J. Cannon and Harvey J. O’Higgins, Under the Prophet in Utah: The National Menace Of A Political Priestcraft,  p.176-179. This was not the only instance of the Smiths going to Lannan.  In his diary entry for Friday, September 23, 1898, John Henry Smith writes,

“The Republican Salt Lake Co. Convention convened at the Salt Lake Theatre, about 400 delegates present. Things went along harmoniously. In company with Prest. J. F. Smith, I called upon P[atrick]. H. Lannan [owner of the Salt Lake Tribune] and talked over the course being taken by the Tribune in its asaults on B. H. Roberts. Mr. Lannan made lots of talk and said nothing, really. Prest. J. F. Smith presented him a paper setting forth that no marrying was going of the plural kind. He said that will not do.”  Jean Bickmore White, Church, State, and Politics, The Diaries of John Henry Smith, Signature Books,  p.409.

Frank Cannon’s recollection along with John Henry Smith’s diary entry, show how Joseph F. Smith further perjured himself at the Smoot Hearings:

Mr. TAYLER. What inquiry did you make to find out whether Abraham H. Cannon, one of the twelve apostles of the church, had made  a plural marriage?

Mr. SMITH. I made no inquiry at all.

Mr. TAYLER. Did you set on foot any inquiry ?

Mr. SMITH. No, sir; not myself.

Mr. TAYLER. Did you have any interest in finding out whether there had been?

Mr. SMITH. Not the least.

Mr. TAYLER. Not the least?

Mr. SMITH. Not the least.

Mr. TAYLER. So that the public charge that an apostle of the church had married a plural wife as late as 1896 did not concern you at all?

Mr. SMITH. The public charge, or what you call a public charge, is simply the charge made by the bitterest anti-Mormon publication in Salt Lake City, and its charges are of such a vicious character that I  pay no attention to them. If I were to undertake to answer one- hundredth part of the vicious and vile charges that are made in the anti-Mormon papers against me and my people I would have nothing else to do in the world.

Mr. TAYLER. Yes; but was not the charge respecting Abraham H.  Cannon taking a plural wife made with much circumstance and detail?

Mr. SMITH. Not that I know of, any more than it was newspaper  talk.

Mr. TAYLER. Then you mean to say that as a general proposition, notwithstanding your sensitiveness on the subject of plural marriages having been authorized or performed under the sanction of the church,

you do not investigate any charges that are made of that character ?

Mr. SMITH. It is not my business to investigate them. I have given to this honorable committee

The CHAIRMAN. The question is. Do you make any investigation?

Mr. SMITH. I have made the assertion and explanation here to this [478] honorable committee that our courts of original jurisdiction in the church are the bishops’ courts, and it is the duty of the bishops to inquire into the moral character and the moral standing and the good fellowship of members of the church who reside in the wards of the bishops.

Senator HOAR. Including officials ?

Mr. SMITH. Yes. sir.

Senator HOAR. Including all officials ?

Mr. SMITH. They have jurisdiction over all members of the church, and all officials are members of the church.

Mr. TAYLER. Did you not feel any duty laid upon you to investigate this, in the interest of the church, apart from any personal lapse?

Mr. SMITH. No; not in the way that these reports and rumors came to me. They were the reports and rumors of malicious persons.

Mr. TAYLER. Malicious persons?

Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.

Mr. TAYLER. Sometimes malicious persons tell the truth.

Mr. SMITH. That may be.

Mr. TAYLER. Or is it your assumption that they never do ?

Mr. SMITH. We become habituated to hearing reports of malicious persons until we pay no attention to them, even if they do tell the truth.

Mr. TAYLER. Suppose it were charged that Francis M. Lyman, president of the twelve apostles, who does not, I believe, live in your ward, had performed a plural-marriage ceremony at Provo; would that induce

you to make any inquiry ?

Mr. SMITH. Mr. Chairman, I submit that it is not a supposable case.

The CHAIRMAN. Would you make the inquiry ? That is the question.

Mr. SMITH. It is not a supposable case, and if it were the case I could not tell you

The CHAIRMAN. That is the only answer you desire to make ?

Mr. SMITH. It is the only answer I can give. It is not a supposable case. I suppose I am not required to answer suppositions.

The CHAIRMAN. May I ask just a question ? In any instance where you have learned that these high officials, or anyone else, have been guilty of a plural marriage, or of performing a ceremony of that kind,

since 1890, have you made inquiry into it?

Mr. SMITH. It has not, Mr. Chairman, been my business to do it.

The CHAIRMAN. Answer my question. Have you inquired?

Mr. SMITH. No, sir; because it has not been my business.

The CHAIRMAN. I understand.

Mr. SMITH. I wish to say further

The CHAIRMAN. That covers it.

Mr. SMITH. I wish to say, in connection with that, Mr. Chairman, that the circumstances that are referred to by this gentleman occurred[ 479] before I was president of the church, and before it was my duty to inquire into anything of the kind, if it was possible to be construed that the president of the church should interfere with the duties of the lesser authorities of the church.

The CHAIRMAN. I understand you to say, Mr. Smith, now, as president, it is not your duty to make inquiry ?

Mr. SMITH. It is not, because it belongs to the lesser authorities. (Reed Smoot Transcript, pages 477-479).

Not only is Smith lying here about this specific instance, he is lying about Church interest in the Tribune.  The following diary entries show that the Tribune was of ongoing concern to the Church Hierarchy, and was read and discussed often in Smith’s presence:

“Prest. W. Woodruff, Jos. F. Smith, Lorenzo Snow, Moses Thatcher, F. D. Richards, A. H. Cannon and I met in Council. The Tribune questions were answered by F. S. Richards and all approved by the brethren present. I took them to Mr. Lannan. (Jean Bickmore White, Church, State, and Politics, The Diaries of John Henry Smith, p.285, Thursday, January 26, 1893).

[January 26, 1893:] [Salina] writing journals letters and answers to Tribune questions.

[January 27, 1893:] [Manassa] I wrote to Pres[ident] Jos[eph] F. Smith and sent him list of answers to Tribune questions as bro[ther] Roberts prepared them and we approved.

[January 19, 1895:] Showed to Bro[ther]s Jos[eph] F. Smith and John Henry Smith an editorial in the Millard County Blade taking bro[ther] John Henry to task for calling Herald man a liar through the Tribune.

[March 13, 1889] In council at Gardo with Pres[iden]t WW FDR Geo[rge] QC, JFS, MT, JHS, HJG, JW Taylor & considered the impropriety of Bro JW Taylor denouncing statement of Delegate JT Caine that Polygamy in Utah was politically a dead issue as a damned lie &c as reported in Nephi Ensign and copied into Tribune. (Diary of Franklin D. Richards)

“Called at the office of the First Presidency to arrange an interview with Pres[iden]t Lorenzo Snow and Senator Jos[eph] L. Rawlings, but failed on account of Pres[iden]t Snow not being in. [Later at quorum meeting] Asked God to direct us politically and preserve the saints from being lead away from a right course by wicked men. Asked God to confound those who are running the Tribune. . . . Mattias F. Cowley . . . Felt the spirit of God should lead in all matters, business, political and religious. There are men among us who would go in direct opposition to what the wishes of the Presidency were politically if they should learn their wishes, and yet these men claim to be in fellowship in the Church. I feel that such men are sure to lose the faith unless they repent and change their course of action. [A mean Tribune editorial today] Marriner W. Merrill Expressed himself freely on political matters and said that while it might not be a wise thing to publicly say it yet, in his opinion it was the right of the Presidency of the Church to express their opinions on all matters, political as well as religious and what he wanted to know is what the Presidency desire and then he wanted to do it, and was only too willing to lay aside his own feelings if they were not in harmony with the feelings of the apostles. Was sorry that there were some who profess to have faith and yet will go in direct opposition to the mind and will of the Presidency. Heber J. Grant Told of how Bro[ther] Taylor had been impressed to sign a Bond for the Bullion Beck and Champion mine for $100,000 when all of the apostles were opposed and how it has turned out to be the right thing. At 5 PM(board m[ee]t[in]g State Bank) After supper I called on Pres[iden]t Lorenzo Snow and he said he would be pleased to meet Senator Rawlings. We had a confidential chat regarding the condition of Zion’s Savings Bank and Trust Co. I hope and pray in case he should take the Presidency of that Bank that he will stop dividends and cut down the expenses. This evening attended in company with Anthony W. Ivins the Democratic ratification meeting in the Theater. . . . I heard more of OW Powers’ talk than any other speaker. (Diary of Heber J. Grant, October 4, 1898).

“[Irate at Tribune letter] I would give considerable time and energy if I had the power to show the Tribune up to the people in their true colors. Anthony Ivins [Juárez Stake President and later “apostle”] and I chatted until 11:15 Speaking of plural marriage he said there were quite a number of them being performed in Mexico, said he was on hand and willing to take another wife if his brethren felt that it was the wisest thing to do under all the circumstances. He had no desire for another wife, but at the same time had a strong desire to fail in doing any duty devolving upon him and he wanted me and my fellow apostles to know that he was on hand to perform any and every duty required of him. Had all his life accepted in his heart of plural marriage and was making an effort to get another wife when the Manifesto came along. I was glad to have him say this much.” (ibid, October 7, 1898)

They were angry at the Tribune for reporting the continuance of plural marriages, which the Church was publically denying, but that Grant just admitted in his diary!

“…Speaking of the Salt Lake Tribune, which is vilifying the our [sic] people, he [Heber J. Grant] thought [it] a disgrace for the saints to patronize it. The question of the attitude of the Deseret News toward the [p.57] Tribune was discussed. It was the feeling of the brethren that Editor Penrose was a little too pugnacious—and that the better policy would be to treat that paper with silent contempt. Pres. Snow intimated that he would have a talk with Bro. Penrose respecting the matter. Benediction by Pres. Jos. F. Smith. “ (Stan Larson, A Ministry of Meetings, The Apostolic Diaries of Rudger Clawson, p. 56-7, entry of May 4, 1899).

Treating the Salt Lake Tribune “with silent contempt” by way of the Deseret News, did not stop them from reading and discussing it:

“…12:30 noon. Meeting at the President’s office. Present: the First Presidency,  [Lorenzo Snow, George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith], Apostles B. Young, [Jr.] J. H. Smith, A. H. Lund, A. O. Woodruff, R. Clawson, Reed Smoot, Bp. W. B. Preston, J. R. Winder, Attorneys LeGrande Young and F. S. Richards, C. W. Penrose, and Bp. H. B. Clawson, and G. F. Gibbs, clerk.

Pres. Snow stated that a very serious charge had been made by The Salt Lake Tribune against the Presidency of the church to the effect that they had sold out or bargained away for a money consideration the United States senatorship to Thos. Kearns. The purpose of the meeting, therefore, was to consider the wisdom and propriety of starting a suit for libel against the publishers of that paper. By request of Pres. Snow, Elder C. W. Penrose read a number of excerpts from different issues of the Tribune covering the change.” (Stan Larson, Diaries of Rudger Clawson, p.243, Tuesday, 29 January 1901).

“Salt Lake City. Cloudy; heavy rain during night. 10:15 a.m. Meeting at the temple. Present: Presidents Jos. F. Smith, Jno. R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund, and Elders Jno. H. Smith, Geo. Teasdale, Marriner W. Merrill, Rudger Clawson, Hyrum M. Smith,  Jno. Smith, pat., and the clerk.

Some informal talk was indulged in regarding Brother Reed Smoot at Washington, and the information was brought out by the reading of an excerpt from the Tribune that Dr. [Samuel E.] Wishard was in Washington to enter formal protest against the seating of Brother Smoot. Pres. Smith remarked that the activity of Satan and his hosts against us in the present case was only a further testimony to him of the divinity of Mormonism. In view of the fact that the question of seating Brother Smoot would probably be under consideration while we were in session, he suggested that special prayers be offered up in his behalf.” (Stan Larson, Diaries of Rudger Clawson, p.552, Thursday, 5 March 1903).

This was a year before Smith testified at the Smoot hearings that “we pay no attention to them, even if they do tell the truth.” The charge by the Tribune about the election Senate election involving Thomas J. Kearns was also true. As Frank J. Cannon writes,

“Apostle Heber J. Grant, a Republican by sentiment but a Democrat by pretension, was selected by President Snow to barter the Senatorship to McCune. There can be no doubt of it. Everyone immediately suspected it. Letters from Grant, published in the newspapers of January, 1899, subsequently  confirmed it. And President Snow’s actions, toward the end of the campaign, proved it.” (Under the Prophet in Utah, pages 221-222).

Heber J. Grants diary confirms his and the church’s involvement in the campaign:

[August 13, 1898] Hon. AW McCune is thinking of running for the United States Senate and he asked me today if I would help him. I told him I had no objections to doing what little I could to aid him in securing the place, although I assured him that I could not on account of the ecclesiastical position which I occupied, devote any time to laboring for his cause. [Talked of Utah loan & trust; he gave check for $5000.] I chatted today with Pres[iden]t Joseph F. Smith and Elder John Henry Smith and asked them if they had any objections whatever to my doing a little work in a quiet way in the interests of friend McCune securing the office of United States Senator. They both assured me that they had no objections whatever and did not know of any Democrat that they would sooner see go to the U.S. Senate than Mr McCune. Pres[iden]t Smith suggested that I call and chat the matter over with Pres[iden]t Woodruff and get his opinion in the premises. I went to Pres[iden]t Woodruff’s house to chat with him, but his carriage had just left for the Rio Grande Depot. He and his wife, Pres[iden]t Cannon and wife and others leave on the noon train today for California.

[October 7, 1898] FD Richards . . . In his opinion wars are necessary for the establishing of Gods work in the land (referred to American Revolution, Civil War opened South to missionary work, Franco-Prussion had Germany) . . . [Met with RR Lyman, Heber Iverson, Sec[retar]y Higgs of the Co. officers Ymmi(?) of Salt Lake.] We chatted on the League matters and it was suggested that I try and get Hon. AW McCune to pay off the League debt of $1,800 and the brethren said if he would do so they would do all in their power to try and make him a United States Senator. I hope Mr. McCune will conclude to do it .

[November 9, 1898] The Herald announces that the Democratic Party had won the elections. Pres[iden]t L. Snow’s Democratic Headquarters, Cha[rle]s W. Penrose’s & St. Car. Co’s. At the last place chatted with Hon. AW McCune and explained that tomorrow three notes of $500 each signed by Richard W. Young, Cha[rle]s W. Penrose and Benj. Hampton and endorsed by me, I told him I was not able to pay these notes and he gave me $1500 and told me to loan it to the above parties and if I ever collected it then to repay same to him and if I lost it then I need never repay it. I feel very thankful indeed for this assistance as I don’t know how I could have maintained my credit had it not been for the assistance from Bro[ther] McCune. I chatted with him on the political situation and assured him of my best efforts in trying to make him the US Senator. Called and chatted with Pres[iden]t Jos[eph] F. Smith and was much pleased to learn that he would prefer to see AW McCune the next Senator in preference to Frank J. Cannon. I chatted with Bro[ther] John R. Winder and he promised me to do all he could to aid me in getting AW McCune elected as US Senator. At the Theatre wrote Jos[eph] Howell and John R. Murdock asking them not to pledge their vote for US Senator.

[December 29, 1898] After the meeting had a chat with Apostle Francis M. Lyman on the political situation, He objected to my writing letters in favor of Mr. McCune as Senator and referring to anything said to me by Pres[iden]t Snow or Woodruff. I agreed with him & said in the future I would not do so. I regret having ever mentioned the names of the Presidency in any of my letters. Bro[ther] Lyman does not seem to think Mr McCune is worthy to go to the U.S. Senate. I can not blame him for wanting to have his son-in-law Bro[ther] W[ilia]m King made Senator.

[January 19, 1899] Chatted with Pasper Robertson of Emery Co. in Mr. McCune’s interest. Met McCune and had a talk with him in regard to his employing Edward H. Snow as his private sec[re]t[ar]y if he is made US Senator.

[17] D. Michael Quinn, Dialogue, Vol.18, No.1, p.85. Quinn’s footnote reads,

“Salt Lake Temple Living Endowment Record, 17 June 1896, GS; Salt Lake Temple Deceased Sealing Book C, p. 19, 17 June 1896, GS; Wilford Woodruff, Diary, 18 June 1896. In the Nauvoo Temple record book of sealings for the dead of January-February 1846, one ceremony united the living woman for eternity to the deceased husband and for time to the proxy husband. As an assistant recorder for the Salt Lake Endowment House in earlier years, Joseph F. Smith recopied these Nauvoo sealings in which he had special interest because many of them involved his martyred father and uncle. He also copied early Utah proxy sealings and was thus conversant with the dual nature of this single ceremony. Even in early Utah, however, not every man who acted as proxy in a sealing with a living woman became her “proxy husband,” and by 1896 it was no longer customary for a single proxy sealing to have the dual function it once had. Joseph F. Smith never had to answer a direct question about performing this polygamous marriage in the Salt Lake Temple because every time he was asked about the Cannon marriage, it was in the context of the claim that the ceremony occurred aboard ship between San Pedro and Catalina Island. According to Cannon family tradition, Joseph F. Smith also performed a polygamous ceremony for George M. Cannon and Ellen C. Steffensen. See Cannon, “After the Manifesto,” p. 35, note 33. On the contrary, Matthias F. Cowley’s marriage record shows that Cowley performed the plural marriage for Cannon and Steffensen in Salt Lake City on 17 June 1901. Cowley also stated that he was the officiator of this Cannon marriage in Minutes of the Quorum of the Twelve, 10 May 1911.”

[18] Diary of Abraham H. Cannon, July 21st, 1887.

[19] Joseph F. Smith, And The Truth Shall Make You Free, Bear Lake Stake Conference Address,  November l0th, 1895. Brain Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol. 4, p.406.

[20] Doctrine and Covenants, Section 42:10.

[21] Conference Report, April 1904, p.76

[22] Reed Smoot Transcript, page 1058.

[23] B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage, p. 256-8

[24] Stan Larson, A Ministry of Meetings, The Apostolic Diaries of Rudger Clawson, October 5, 1904, pages 777-778.

Playing F.A.I.R.

Really?

I often come across this scenario on Mormon Facebook Pages and other sites as I browse the internet:

Self-proclaimed Mormon “apologists” using material from F.A.I.R (Foundation for Apologetic  Information and Research) to “prove” that critics of Mormonism are dead wrong about issues (that the critics prove) the Church has manipulated or lied about in telling its history.

Case in point – This alleged “prophecy” recorded in the History of the Church they claim was given by Joseph Smith:

“I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.”[1]

I. CHALLENGING THOSE DAMN “ANTI-MORMONS”

On a Facebook Page titled “Challenging Anti-Mormon Apologetics”,[2]I came across the following post:

“LDS Honesty: Lying for the Lord (Link provided in the previous post) also says the following:

4. The famous Rocky Mountain Prophecy was a later addition to the official church history and not uttered by Joseph Smith as a prediction that the Mormons would inhabit the Salt Lake Valley. Despite the fact it is not authentic; the church presented it as such for more than a century. The ‘Rocky Mountain Prophecy’ was added after the Mormons arrived in Utah. (The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 406) The church had no intentions of giving this information to members, in order to make their history appear more faith promoting.

Contemporary documentation says otherwise. [3]

What is this “contemporary documentation” they speak of? If one pursues the F.A.I.R. link that the Facebook Page mentioned above provides, one comes upon the “Official Mormon Apologist” response to the above allegations: that Smith’s famous Rocky Mountain “prophecy” was inserted into the Manuscript History of the Church at a later date.

And what is this “contemporary documentation”? Let’s start with their conclusion and work our way back. F.A.I.R. states,

“To accept a “forgery” theory, we must accept that all of the people listed above who remembered Joseph speaking about the Rocky Mountains were lying or fabricating their experience. Furthermore, we must also accept that Joseph was sending explorers to the west with no real expectation of moving, and the discussion of heading west by both members and enemies was all idle talk.”[4]

This is a classic case of diverting the issue. Jerald and Sandra Tanner actually state in The Changing World of Mormonism,

“In our book Falsification of Joseph Smith’s History, page 10, we stated concerning this prophecy:

There is some evidence that Joseph Smith considered going west to build his kingdom, but since we now know that the Mormon Historians actually compiled Joseph Smith’s History after his death and that they drew from many sources, we cannot help being suspicious of the authorship of this prophecy.[5]

Jerald & Sandra Tanner

We see that the Tanners did indeed admit that “there is some evidence that Joseph Smith considered going west”, so why does F.A.I.R. state,

“But, to claim that the account of him discussing and even prophesying a move to the west rests on nothing but “forgery” is to distort and ignore too many sources, from too broad a time period, over what is essentially a peripheral issue.”

Notice F.A.I.R. trying to tie this specific “prophecy” to any discussion about the Rocky Mountains, and that any discussion of moving west by Smith must also be classed as spurious. Then, if they can show that Smith discussed it, this makes the Tanners deceptive.  F.A.I.R. is trying to set their own criteria here, but this is not what the Tanners claim at all, as I have shown above. Is the fact that someone discussed something likely to be made into an issue?

The Tanner’s claim was not that Smith ever discussed the Rocky Mountains, or moving the church west; it was that a false prophecy was fabricated by Mormon Historians (most likely based on exaggerations by contemporary Mormons well after the fact) and placed in the official History of the Church as an actual specific statement (prophecy) that Joseph Smith made.  The specific charge made by the Tanners was this,

“Important evidence concerning Joseph Smith’s prophecy that the Mormons would come to the Rocky Mountains has recently come to light. This prophecy was reported to have been given in 1842 in Illinois. Joseph Smith himself was supposed to have said:

“While the Deputy Grand-Master was engaged in giving the requisite instructions to the Master-elect, I had a conversation with a number of brethren in the shade of the building on the subject of our persecutions in Missouri and the constant annoyance which has followed us since we were driven from that state. I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” (History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 85) …

The situation, then, boils down to the following: we have two handwritten [history]manuscripts, books D-1 and D-2. Neither of these books were even started until after Joseph Smith’s death. In both cases the prophecy concerning the Mormons coming to the Rocky Mountains was interpolated in a smaller handwriting. From this evidence we can reach only one conclusion: the famous “Rocky Mountain Prophecy” is not authentic.” [6]

F.A.I.R singles out the book One Nation Under Gods, and Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s book The Changing World of Mormonism, (and since they imply that Richard Abanes probably got his information from the Tanners –  I will focus on the argument made in Changing World). F.A.I.R.  makes these points of criticism:

Jerald and Sandra Tanner claim that a prophecy from Joseph about the Saints’ move to the Rocky Mountains was forged after the fact and inserted into the History of the Church. They provide the following sources for this claim:

  • History of the Church 5:85.
  • Joseph Smith’s Manuscript History, Book D-1, page 1362
  • Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1971, p.469
  • Davis Bitton, Joseph Smith in the Mormon Folk Memory, The John Whitmer address, delivered at the Second Annual Meeting of the John Whitmer Historical Association, Lamoni, Iowa, September 28, 1974, unpublished manuscript, p.16″ [This article is now available in “Joseph Smith in the Mormon Folk Memory,” in Restoration Studies, ed. Maurice L. Draper, vol. 1, (Independence, Missouri, 1980).]

And conclude, “This use of sources is dishonest and misleading.”[7]

II. FAIR OR UN-F.A.I.R.?

The Tanner’s sources are “dishonest” and “misleading”? Let’s take this point by point and see if they are.  F.A.I.R. states,

None of these sources support the argument:

  • The BYU Studies article from 1971 is Dean Jessee’s account of the authorship of the History of the Church. It says nothing about adding a “Rocky Mountain Prophecy,” and the Tanners neglect to provide the perspective on authorship practices in 19th century history that Jessee provides. They thus hide the material that answers their objection. Readers can fortunately access these ideas on the FAIR wiki.[8]

Dean C. Jessee

Can we point out that F.A.I.R. doesn’t acknowledge that the History of the Church also doesn’t acknowledge that Joseph Smith really didn’t “first-person” his own history either?  And they must have missed the Tanners when they explained,”since we now know that the Mormon Historians actually compiled Joseph Smith’s History after his death and that they drew from many sources..” Do all the Mormon “Authorities” who quote this “prophecy” bother to explain the background behind it? That this quote is used by the Church as a bona fide “prophecy” of Smith, and in using it this way they tout Smith’s prophetic powers?  But the real question that F.A.I.R. doesn’t address about this source is why the Tanner’s used it. Not only does F.A.I.R. does not explain this, they don’t even offer a link or internet address to the Book! They don’t even bother to quote what the Tanner’s said! Here is the Tanner’s explanation:

“We are now happy to announce that a photograph of the portion of the original handwritten manuscript containing this ‘prophecy’ has been located at the Visitor Center in Nauvoo, Illinois. Wesley P. Walters of Marissa, Illinois, has sent us a photograph of this page…. This photograph is taken from ‘Joseph Smith’s Manuscript History,’ Book D-1, page 1362.”

An examination of the photograph revealed that the part concerning the Mormons becoming “a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” was crammed in between the lines of the text in a much smaller handwriting. This indicated that the famous prophecy had been added to the manuscript sometime after this page had originally been written. When we published an enlarged edition of Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? we stated that “Dean C. Jessee’s study proves that this prophecy could not have been written in ‘Joseph Smith’s Manuscript History’ until at least a year after Joseph Smith’s death. He shows that page 1362 of the Manuscript History—the page containing the prophecy—was not even written until July 4, 1845!”

We reasoned that if the page was not written until July 4, 1845, then it was likely that the interpolation containing the prophecy was not added until after the Mormons came to Utah. We have recently found new evidence which further undermines the authenticity of this prophecy. Fortunately, in 1845 Brigham Young had ordered the scribes to make a “duplicate handwritten copy of the History” (Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1971, p. 469). We examined this second manuscript, Book D-2, p. 2, and found that the “Rocky Mountain Prophecy” was written in very small handwriting between the lines. In other words, it was obviously added at a later time to this manuscript.” [9]

So the reason that the Tanners quoted Jessee from his 1971 article, was to prove that Brigham Young had ordered a duplicate made of the Church History, and that the Manuscript History wasn’t written until after Smith died. They quoted Jessee to verify this, and found that the “prophecy” was inserted into Smith’s history well after the fact.  They also included a photo (in their on-line version of the book) of the page in question from the Manuscript History, which can be found here, and below. This source absolutely supports the argument.

F.A.I.R. is not playing fair, because they are not telling you why the Tanners used the source.  How many Mormons are going to go to the trouble of reading what the Tanner’s wrote? Especially when F.A.I.R. doesn’t quote them, has this disclaimer at the beginning of nearly every book they review that is critical to Mormonism:

“Those who do not wish to examine the claims contained in what some would consider an “anti-Mormon” work are advised to proceed no further.” [10]

F.A.I.R. then goes to the Davis Bitton source and states,

  • Davis Bitton’s article specifically rejects the Tanners’ claim:

Two errors have been made regarding this Rocky Mountains prophecy. The first is to reject it out of hand as a later invention of the Utah Mormons. There is enough discussion of possible westward moves during the later Nauvoo period to think that Joseph Smith, in one of his prophetic moods, might well have said something of the sort. The second error, even more serious, is to seize upon these fragments as the basis for concluding that Joseph knew exactly what the future held in store for the Saints down to every last detail. Like the constitution-by-a-thread prophecy, the Rocky Mountains prophecy probably had a basis in an actual statement. The two prophecies are alike, too, in the fact that they were extremely popular later on when they served the needs of the Saints for encouragement.[11]

First, the Tanners did not “reject it out of hand as a later invention”, they show credible evidence that it was.  Second, might and probably don’t make it so. A statement that one is thinking about moving west someday, or sending out exploration parties, is far different from prophesying that one will, with specific details about what happens before and after.  Thirdly, (and most important) it is the Mormons that are “seizing upon these fragments as the basis for concluding that Joseph knew exactly what the future held in store for the Saints down to  every last detail,” and that is why this is not a “peripheral issue”.  Here is a little more of Davis Bitton quoted by the Tanners,  that F.A.I.R. doesn’t quote,

“The situation, then, boils down to the following: we have two handwritten manuscripts, books D-1 and D-2. Neither of these books were even started until after Joseph Smith’s death. In both cases the prophecy concerning the Mormons coming to the Rocky Mountains was interpolated in a smaller handwriting. From this evidence we can reach only one conclusion: the famous “Rocky Mountain Prophecy” is not authentic. The church historical department has Joseph Smith’s diary for 1842-43, but the first entry does not appear until December 21—some four months after the prophecy was supposed to have been given. Mormon scholars have been unable to come up with anything to support the authenticity of this prophecy.

Davis Bitton, an assistant church historian, has written almost five pages concerning this matter. He frankly states that “there is no such prophecy in the handwriting of Joseph Smith or published during the Prophet’s lifetime, but it was referred to in general terms in 1846 during the trek west. After the arrival in the Salt Lake Valley the prophecy was frequently cited and became more specific as time went on” (“Joseph Smith in the Mormon Folk Memory,” The John Whitmer address, delivered at the Second Annual Meeting of the John Whitmer Historical Association, Lamoni, Iowa, September 28, 1974, unpublished manuscript, p. 16).

Davis Bitton goes on to state that “The manuscript history covering this period was written in 1845….” This is, of course, a year after Joseph Smith’s death. Mr. Bitton then admits that the prophecy is an “insertion” which was added into the manuscript as “an afterthought” (p. 18). Although Davis Bitton cannot find any real evidence that Joseph Smith made the famous “Rocky Mountain Prophecy,” he does feel that there was “a time when something like this might have been said by Joseph Smith with considerable plausibility. Anytime during the last four years of his life, … the Prophet had good reason to consider possibilities for relocation. It can be demonstrated that he considered the possibility of settling in Oregon (or on Vancouver Island). He was attempting to negotiate some kind of colonization venture in Texas …” (p. 17).

Mr. Bitton admits that other changes were made in Joseph Smith’s documents to support the idea that he knew the Mormons would come to the Rocky Mountains:

And in February 1844 the Prophet was organizing an exploring expedition to go to the West. There are some interesting changes in the way the description of this expedition was written by Willard Richards, secretary of Joseph Smith at the time, and the later revisions. The original, handwritten version reads: “Met with the Twelve in the assembly room concerning the Oregon Expedition.” This has been modified to read “the Oregon and California Exploring Expedition.” Continuing, the Richards manuscript reads, “I told them I wanted an exposition of all that country, “—which has been changed to “exploration of all that mountain country.” There are other such changes that make one suspect that the later compilers of the history, notably George A. Smith and his assistants in the 1850s, were determined to have Joseph Smith contemplating the precise location where the Saints had by then settled. Oregon would not do; Oregon and California as then defined at least included the Rocky Mountains. If the Prophet could be made to say “mountain country” instead of just “country,” it would appear that he clearly had in mind the future history of his followers (pp. 17-18).[12]

If we go by what F.A.I.R. states, we have Bitton refuting himself! They have to perpetuate an outright lie, to make their point (that Bitton’s article specifically rejects the Tanner’s argument). Bitton’s article in no way rejects the Tanner’s claim, that the specific prophecy, recorded in the History of the Church was an insertion after the fact. It was, and Bitton agrees that it was, stating that “there is no such prophecy in the handwriting of Joseph Smith or published during the Prophet’s lifetime”.  The Tanners also reveal Bitton’s speculation that the prophecy might be based on something Smith might have said. But the bottom line is Smith didn’t say it, and there is no proof that he did.  Is F.A.I.R.’s claim that the Tanner’s use of this source is “dishonest” fair? We see that it is not, and that the Tanner’s are more fair than F.A.I.R., admitting that Smith “considered going west to build his kingdom”.

III. EVIDENCE IS NO EVIDENCE

F.A.I.R. also attacks the Tanners for the use of the History of the Church source. They quote a footnote by B.H. Roberts, where he supports the authenticity of the “prophecy” with a quote by Anson Call. Their main objection is “The author[s] provide only the History of the Church reference, but provide no evidence of [their]claim.”

No evidence? Here is F.A.I.R.’s “evidence”. F.A.I.R writes,

The prophecy source is the biography of Anson Call, in August 1842. The relevant section reads as follows:

“A block schoolhouse had been prepared with shade in front, under which was a barrel of ice water. Judge Adams, the highest Masonic authority in the State of Illinois, had been sent there to organize this lodge. He, Hyrum Smith and J. C. Bennett, being high Masons, went into the house to perform some ceremonies which the others were not entitled to witness. These, including Joseph Smith, remained under the bowery. Joseph as he was tasting the cold water, warned the brethren not to be too free with it. With the tumbler still in his hand, he prophesied that the Saints would yet go to the Rocky Mountains, and said he, ‘This water tastes much like that of the crystal streams that are running from the snow-capped mountains. I had before seen him in a vision, and now saw, while he was talking, his countenance change to white, not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living, brilliant white. He seemed absorbed in gazing upon something at a great distance and said, “I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains.”

Anson Call

I had before seen him [Joseph Smith] in a vision [i.e., while seeing or reporting a divine vision or revelation], and now saw while he was talking his countenance change to white; not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living brilliant white. He seemed absorbed in gazing at something at a great distance, and said: “I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains.” This was followed by a vivid description of the scenery of these mountains, as I have since become acquainted with it. Pointing to Shadrach Roundy and others, he said: “There are some men here who shall do a great work in that land.” Pointing to me, he said, “There is Anson, he shall go and shall assist in building up cities from one end of the country to the other, and you, rather extending the idea to all those he had spoken of, shall perform as great a work as has been done by man, so that the nations of the earth shall be astonished, and many of them will be gathered in that land and assist in building cities and temples, and Israel shall be made to rejoice.”

It is impossible to represent in words this scene which is still vivid in my mind, of the grandeur of Joseph’s appearance, his beautiful descriptions of this land, and his wonderful prophetic utterances as they emanated from the glorious inspirations that overshadowed him. There was a force and power in his exclamations of which the following is but a faint echo: “Oh the beauty of those snow-capped mountains! The cool refreshing streams that are running down through those mountain gorges!” Then gazing in another direction, as if there was a change in locality: “Oh the scenes that this people will pass through! The dead that will lay between here and there.” Then turning in another direction as if the scene had again changed: “Oh the apostasy that will take place before my brethren reach that land! But,” he continued, “The priesthood shall prevail over its enemies, triumph over the devil and be established upon the earth, never more to be thrown down!” He then charged us with great force and power, to be faithful to those things that had been and should be committed to our charge, with the promise of all the blessings that the Priesthood could bestow. “Remember these things and treasure them up. Amen.” (Tullidge’s Histories, Vol I. History of Northern Utah, and Southern Idaho.–Biographical Supplement, p. 271

 Thus, the accusation must be not only that the Church decided to “forge” a prophecy by Joseph, but that Anson Call did as well. Can we assess how likely these claims are?[13]

We sure can assess them, because F.A.I.R. is not really being fair here either. The first thing they want you to believe is that the source is from the biography of Anson Call is “in August 1842”. There are all kinds of problems with this, which B.H. Roberts mentions in that Church History footnote that F.A.I.R. quotes.  Here are some of the problems that Roberts encountered,

“It is thought important that the following statement from a biography of Anson Call, by Edward Tullidge, should be made part of the history of this prophetic incident, as doubtless the testimony of Brother Call relates to the same incident as that described in the Prophet’s text of the History, notwithstanding some confusion of dates that exists in the Call testimony. It will be seen that the Prophet fixes the date of his prophecy on Saturday, the 6th of August, 1842. In Whitney’s History of Utah, Vol. IV.—(Biographical section of the history, p. 143), the date on which Call heard the prophecy, is given as the 8th of August, 1842. While in Tullidge’s biography of Call the date is given as the 14th of July, 1843, evidently an error. There is no entry in the Prophet’s journal for the 8th of August, 1842, and the entries for the 8th of August, 1843, and the 14th of July, 1843, relate to matters of quite a different character. Tullidge, in relating Anson Call’s recollection of the incident also says that J. C. Bennett was present on the occasion, which must also be an error, as the rupture between Bennett and the Church and its authorities occurred and he had left Nauvoo previous to the 6th of August, 1842. In the Call statement as published by Tullidge, the name of Mr. Adams, the Deputy Grand Master Mason in charge of the ceremonies, is given as George, it should be James.”[14]

B. H. Roberts

Tullidge’s biography of Call was written in 1889. So when did Call actually first write down the prophecy he claimed that Smith made? Certainly not when it happened (August 1842), since he is wrong about so many details.  Notice that even in his notes, Roberts tries to make it seem as if Smith wrote the prophecy and put it in his history himself.

It seems that Anson Call kept a journal, but the prophecy is not found there. He wrote an autobiography taken from his journals that ended at the year 1839. He later wrote what he called a “Life Sketch”.

The following is taken from Anson Call: Excerpts from his Autobiography:

“Almost the last journal entry that Anson makes shows his love and his respect for Joseph Smith by as indicated by the following:

About the middle of May I was one day traveling to Warsaw when to my great surprise I met Brothers Joseph and Hyrum. I asked him when and how he had made his escape from Missouri. He said, ‘I am in a great hurry, for my enemies are pursuing me…I will say in short to you, the prayers of the brethren brought me her” He then inquired of me where I lived. He said, ‘in about a week I will be at your house; then I will relate the whole matter to you.’ He passed on in great haste. I was filled with great joy to see our prophet after more than six months. Suffering by chains and dungeons once more in the enjoyment of liberty.

He came to my house about the appointed time, had his dinner and spent the principle part of the afternoon in conversation. Hyrum, Sidney Rigdon, and Vincent Knight were with him. He related to some of the circumstances of his escape from Missouri. He also stated that he had purchased a tract of land in Commerce. A place for the saints to gather to, now called Nauvoo. In the course of the summer my wife had a very severe sickness, chills and fever from which she would probably have died had it not been for her being healed by the laying on of hands. Worked for the Carthaginians and supported our families. I preached to them a few times in the court house but they were not very religious and did not wish to inquire much about Mormonism. (Call, pp. 18 & 19.)

Anson moved West with the rest of the saints. He was assigned by Brigham Young to settle Bountiful. He settled down on a 300 acre farm and raised 18 children with the help of four wife’s. He was the bishop of the Bountiful Ward. He built the Bountiful First Ward by order of Brigham Young.

One of the most lasting contributions that Anson made, other than his prodigious posterity, are a few tibbits of  historical information that he recorded. One of which is the prophecy that Joseph Smith made of the saints moving west.

Joseph Smith by Sutcliffe Maudsley

The “Life Sketch” has the same text as the “Autobiography”, but it is written in 2nd person, with the exception of this quote.)

On the 14th of July, 1843, with quite a number of his (Joseph Smith brethren, he (Joe) crossed the Mississippi River to the town of Montrose to be present at the installment of the Masonic lodge of the ‘rising sun, A block school house had

J.C. Bennett

been prepared with shade in front, under which a barrel of ice water. Judge George Adams was the highest Masonic author in the state of Illinois and had been sent there to organize this lodge He (Joe), Hyrum Smith and J.C. Bennett, being high masons, went into the house to perform some ceremonies which the others were not entitled to witness. These, including Joseph Smith remained under the bowery. Jose] as he was tasting of the cold water, warned the brethren not to be fret with it. With the tumbler still in his hand he prophesied that the Saint would yet go to the Rocky Mountains; and, said he, ‘this water tastes much like that of the crystal streams that are running from the snow capped mountains’ we will 1st Mr. Call describe (sic) this prophetic scene: I had before seen him in a vision and now saw while he was talking his countenance changed to white: not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living brilliant white. He

seemed absorbed in gazing at something at a great distance and said, ‘I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains’. This was followed by a vivid description of the scenery of these mountains as I have since become acquainted with it. Pointing to Shadrach Roundy and others, he said, ‘There are some men here who shall do a great work in that land.’ Pointing to me he said, ‘There is Anson, he shall go and shall assist in building cities from one end of that country to the other, and you’ rather extending the idea to all those he had spoken of, ‘shall perform as great a work as has been done by man, so that the nation of the earth shall be astonished and many of them will be gathered in that land and assist in building cities and temples, and Israel shall he made to rejoiced’.

S. Roundy

“It is impossible to represent in words this scene which is still vivid in my mind, of the grandeur of Joseph’s appearance, his beautiful descriptions of this land and his wonderful prophetic utterances as they emanated from the glorious inspirations that over shadowed him. There was a force and power in his exclamations of which the following is but a faint echo. ‘Oh the beauty of those snow capped mountains. The cool refreshing streams that are running down through theose (sic ?) mountains gorges’ Then gazing in another direction, as if there was a change and locality; ‘oh the scenes that this people will pass through’ The dead that will lay between here and there.’ Then turning in another direction as if the scene had again changed: ‘Oh the apostasy that will take place before my brethren reach that land’. But he continued, ‘the Priesthood shall prevail over all it’s enemies, triumph over the devil and be established upon the earth never more to be thrown down.’ He then charged us with great force and power, to be faithful in these things that had been and …???

[Written at bottom of page “THIS CONCLUDES ALL WE HAVE OF THIS COPY”, Alice Maud Call Burton Afton, Wyo.] (Life Sketch of Anson Call 1810-1890, Pioneer in the building of the west.)”[15]

The “prophecy” that Call records here, is obviously written well after the fact, because of the problems with the historical data that B.H. Roberts notes in his History of the Church. Also, the “almost the last journal entry” was when Smith escaped from Liberty Jail in 1839! The “prophecy” was obviously written later, and appears to be unfinished in the copy that Alice Burton had in her possession because it breaks off mid sentence near the end.

F.A.I.R.’s sarcastic comment that Call “forged” his “prophecy”, is the most realistic conclusion, because the historical details don’t line up with the facts.

Since F.A.I.R. has no evidence that there was an actual specific Rocky Mountain prophecy uttered by Smith in his lifetime, they choose to befuddle the issue with a series of quotes that they claim bolster the premise that there was probably a prophecy, therefore there must have been some kind of a prophecy. Most of these are remembrances of Mormon authorities long after the fact – which prove nothing at all.

One interesting quote they use, is from Wilford Woodruff’s Journal. On November 24, 1878 Woodruff wrote on the” Inside Front Cover Fly Sheet” of one of his Journals some “true sayings” of the “Prophet Joseph” that he says he copied from Philo Dibble’s “record”. These “true sayings” are supposedly Dibble’s recollection of Smith’s last address before the Nauvoo Legion. It is obvious from a quick reading that these are not journal entries from the period, or even written on those dates or shortly after the events because like Call’s account, they are so full of inaccuracies.

Philo Dibble

Dibble first gives the date of the 22 of June and says that Smith “called us [The Nauvoo Legion] out in order and to my astonishment Counselled us to give up our arms” and then prophesied to them that they would “gather many people into the fastness of the Rocky Mountains as a centre for the Gathering of the people.” He then thanked them, dismissed them and told them to “take care of your wives, Children and homes.” But the Legion did not give up their arms until June 24, six days after Smith’s last address to the Nauvoo Legion.

Dibble then gives a date for the next day, and has Smith giving his last speech to the Nauvoo Legion. If he had dismissed them the day before, (as Dibble attests)and said his obvious farewell (take care of your wives, children and homes) why would he give them a “last speech” the next day? Also,  Dibble’s date for the “last speech” of Smith before the Nauvoo Legion as the 23 of June, 1844 is incorrect. The actual date of that event was on the 18 of June, and it is well documented. Dibble uses parts of Smith’s speech as recorded by those who were there and later published in the History of the Church, and then has Smith repeating his prophecy about the Rocky Mountains that he supposedly told them the day before.

F.A.I.R. concludes with,

“It could be, of course, that Anson Call forged his account, and all the Church leaders and members lied about remembering Joseph speak about the matter. But why then appeal to “many of you” remembering Joseph speaking about it? Why not claim it was a private, secret teaching given to the apostles—for, they certainly also reported these. If the claim was fraudulent, why risk exposure?

Or, the story could have started after the Saints reached the valley, and simply grown in the telling with members “remembering” the story as it was retold to them. But, the contemporary evidence would seem to argue against this, and witnesses often mentioned how struck they were by Joseph’s remarks. They also described him discussing this idea in a variety of setting, which argues against an accumulated “folklore.”[16]

F.A.I.R. thinks it “strange to see critics argue that Joseph would not prophesy about this,” because they claim that critics say he “was always larding his ideas with prophetic pronouncement,” and I agree. He did.  I have furnished some of that “larding” below in the next section.  I will also show that the accumulated “folklore” argument fits the evidence perfectly.

Again we see F.A.I.R. combining two different issues and tying them together; implying if the prophecy itself was fraudulent that Smith’s discussing the matter must also be based on something “fraudlent”. The Tanners do not say that Smith never spoke about it, they admit that he did. The Tanner’s “evidence” is legitimate though, while F.A.I.R.’s evidence doesn’t appear to be any evidence at all.

Also, Call’s appeal to “many of you” was made because Smith did in fact make vague statements about the west.  This obviously grew into a full blown “folklore” “prophecy” as did the story about Brigham Young transforming into Joseph Smith while he was making the case for claiming leadership of the Church.

I do agree with one point that F.A.I.R. makes: that Smith “discussed moving to the west several times, and likely prophesied about it.” Given the Mormons history of being driven out of every place they settled in, it sure wouldn’t be bad odds to do so and get that right.  But it wasn’t this particular “prophecy” given in those words on that date; the details are completely different, and he made other “prophecies” about the west and Nauvoo that were completely false. This makes Smith a good guesser, but a bad prophet.

IV. ROCKY MOUNTAIN ZION?

“But the Colorado Rocky Mountain high
I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky,
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply:
Rocky Mountain high” [17]

***

“Men profess to prophecy. I will prophesy that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man are already commenced, one pestilence will desolate after another, we shall soon have war & bloodshed. The Moon will be turned to blood. [Matt. 24]I testify of these things, & that the coming of the Son of Man is nigh even at your doors.–If our Souls & our bodies are not looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, & after we are dead if we are not looking forth, &c we shall be among those who are calling for the rocks to fall upon us &c– There will be here & there a stake &c. for the gathering of the Saints Some may have cried peace, but the Saints & the world will have little peace from henceforth. Let this not hinder us from going to the Stakes, for God has told us to flee not dallying, or we shall be scattered, one here, another there. There your children shall be blessed & you in the midst of friends where you may be blessed. &c  …

The Gospel net gathers of every kind. I prophecy that the man who tarries after he has an opportunity of going will be afflicted by the Devil. Wars are at hand we must not delay, but we are [are we] not required to Sacrifice.[?] We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object.–when wars come we shall have to flee to Zion, the cry is to make haste.

The last revelation says ye shall not have time to have gone over the Earth until these things come. It will come as did the cholera, war, & fires burning earthquake, one pestilence after another &c  the Ancient of Days [will] come then judgment will be given to the Saints.

 Whatsoever you may hear about me or Kirtland, take no notice of, for if it be a place of refuge the Devil will use his greatest efforts to trap the Saints. You must make yourselves acquainted with those men, who, like Daniel pray three times a day to the house of the Lord. –Look to the Presidency &c & receive instruction. Every man who is afraid, covetous &c will be taken in a snare.–The time is soon coming when no man will have any peace but in Zion & her Stakes. I saw men hunting the lives of their own sons, & brother murdering brother, women killing their own daughters & daughters seeking the lives of their mothers. I saw armies arrayed against armies I saw blood, desolations, & fires &c,–The Son of Man has said that the mother, shall be against the daughter, & the daughter against the mother &c, &c–these things are at our doors. They will follow the Saints of God from City to City—

goya-yson-tan-fiera

Satan will rage & The Spirit of the Devil is now enraged, &c I know not how soon these things will take place, and with a view of them shall I cry peace? No! I will lift up my voice & testify of them. How long you will have good crops, & the famine be kept off. I do not know. When the fig tree leaves, know then that the summer is nigh at hand. we may look for Angels &c. & receive their ministering but we are to try the spirits & prove them. for it is often the case that men make a mistake in regard to these things.”~Joseph Smith, July, 1839[18]

This “prophecy” was given a few months after Smith escaped from jail in Missouri, when he was well aware that the possibility of returning was dismal. Here, he mentions “stakes” of Zion that would be the only safe havens for the “saints”. These “stakes” would be an important part of Smith’s plans for a westward expansion of the church.

Let’s consider some of the accounts that speak of “the Rocky Mountains”, including some of those mentioned in the F.A.I.R. article’s “Other Evidence From Joseph’s Lifetime” section.   In an article titled “The Far West”, which appeared in the Evening and Morning Star in October of 1832, we are told about the lands from the Mississippi River to the Rockies in the far west:

“The far west, as the section of country from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains may justly be styled, is not only distant from the Atlantic States, but different. Its principle river, running rapidly from the 48th to the 39th degree of north latitude, is always rily, always wearing away its banks and always making new channels: It is rightly named Missouri; for in plain English, it looks like the waters of misery,-or troubled water:-even as the sea which the prophet said, Casts up mire and dirt…”[19]

United States 1832

In 1821 the Missouri Territory stretched all the way from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. After 1821 and Missouri statehood, it was renamed the Arkansaw Territory and the northern part went unnamed.  In 1834 during the “Zion’s Camp” march, Smith claimed to see a vision of a white Lamanite named Zelph who he described as a great general under one “Onandagus”, known from “Cumorah to the Rocky Mountains”.  As the article in the Star explains,

“this beautiful region of country is now mostly, excepting Arkansas and Missouri, the land of Joseph or the Indians,” and though “the world will never value the land of Desolation, as it is called in the book of Mormon, for any thing more than hunting ground, for want of timber and mill-seats: The Lord to the contrary notwithstanding, declares it to be the land of Zion which is the land of Joseph, blessed by him, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and fulness [fullness] thereof…”[20]

But 1832 would be a bad year for Mormonism in Missouri, for Smith would underestimate the old settlers there, along with their patience in dealing with a large group of what they deemed religious fanatics who thought they were justified in “consecrating the riches of the Gentiles”[21] to themselves as their God given due.  Of course the Mormons thought that the backlash was only religious persecution as Francis Bishop wrote in 1839, who blamed it all on,

“a rumor [which] was likewise raised and carried abroad through the papers, that the church in Missouri, who had purchased lands there and were peaceably settled on them, were intending to drive the inhabitants out of the State, upon the ground that they claimed the country as a promised land.”[22]

It would be hard to read the above “revelation” about consecrating the riches of the Gentiles and not get that impression. Smith would later change that verse in the 1835 expanded edition of the Book of Commandments, renamed the Doctrine and Covenants. Returning for a moment to B. H. Roberts and  New Witnesses for God, we find Roberts mentioning another “prophecy” (as he calls it) in connection with the alleged 1842 “prophecy” that is a part of Doctrine and Covenants, Section  49. It reads,

“But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites [the American Indians] shall blossom as the rose. Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed.”[23]

The problems with tying this “prophecy” to the 1842 Rocky Mountain prophecy should be obvious, for the place that was “appointed” (to gather) was not in the Rocky Mountains, but in the state of Missouri:

“Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints. Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.”[24]

1838 United States (click to enlarge)

But you may say, the land of Missouri stretched all the way to the Rocky Mountains! Perhaps if the old settlers had known about Smith’s plans for the Rocky Mountains they would have been less recalcitrant. Then again, they probably read the next verse of this “revelation” penned by Smith:

“And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.”[25]

By 1832 the State of Missouri was the little boot of the former Missouri Territory. The Mormons were coming in droves, and as we read in the rest of that Star article on the Far West,

“When we consider that the land of Missouri is the land where the saints of the living God are to be gathered together and sanctified for the second coming of the Lord Jesus, we cannot help exclaiming with the prophet, O land be glad! and O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord: For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou [Jerusalem] shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land [Zion] any more be termed Desolate… “[26]

Driven out of Jackson County into neighboring counties, the Mormons for a time lived in peace with the Missourians.  But “the gathering” and visions of destruction were still Smith’s primary focus. In 1833, Smith says he is inspired “by God” to write to N.C. Saxton,

“The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians; having been found through the ministration of an holy angel, and translated into our own language by the gift and power of God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years, containing the word of God which was delivered unto them. By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph which was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them, and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply with the requisitions of the new covenant. But the tribe of Judah will return to old Jerusalem. The city of Zion spoken of by David, in the one hundred and second Psalm, will be built upon the land of America, “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads” (Isaiah xxxv: 10); and then they will be delivered from the overflowing scourge that shall pass through the land. But Judah shall obtain deliverance at Jerusalem. … These are testimonies that the Good Shepherd will put forth His own sheep, and lead them out from all nations where they have been scattered in a cloudy and dark day, to Zion and to Jerusalem, besides many more testimonies which might be brought.

And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country. The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requirements of the new covenant, have already commenced gathering together to Zion, which is in the state of Missouri, therefore I declare unto you the warning which the Lord has commanded to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my Maker are upon me and that to him I am accountable for every word I say wishing nothing worse to my fellow-men than their eternal salvation; therefore, “Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come.” Repent ye, repent ye, and embrace the everlasting covenant, and flee to Zion, before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled. Remember these things; call upon the Lord while He is near, and seek Him while He may be found, is the exhortation of your unworthy servant.” [Signed] JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.[27]

Smith was telling everyone to flee to Missouri! And he was apparently soon to bring the lost Tribes with him. Smith declares here that “the city of Zion … will be built upon the land of America” and that “there are those whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, including the city of Zion being built, fulfilled. By mid 1834 Smith had gathered up a group of Mormon menfolk and they made their way to Missouri to take back their lands in Jackson County.

But before leaving to “redeem” Zion in May 1834, Smith gave a “revelation” in response to Parley Pratt and Lyman Wight’s arrival in Kirtland with questions on what they should do about their lands in Jackson County. Smith’s reply was that if they “hearken from this very hour” to the counsel they are given from Smith, they would “begin to prevail against” their “enemies from this very hour.”[28]

Hearken they did, answering Smith’s call to arms with enthusiasm.  How could they not be excited when they had received this promise supposedly by God himself,

“Behold, this is the blessing which I have promised after your tribulations, and the tribulations of your brethren–your redemption, and the redemption of your brethren, even their restoration to the land of Zion, to be established, no more to be thrown down. Nevertheless, if they pollute their inheritances they shall be thrown down; for I will not spare them if they pollute their inheritances. Behold, I say unto you, the redemption of Zion must needs come by power; Therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel. For ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham, and ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm. And as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be. Therefore, let not your hearts faint, for I say not unto you as I said unto your fathers: Mine angel shall go up before you, but not my presence. But I say unto you: Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land.[29]

Arriving in Missouri with much bickering and squabbling among them on the way,

“A possibly decisive battle with the “Jackson Countians” was aborted 19 June by a devastating thunder-and-hail storm which the Mormons ascribed to divine intervention. Three days later, near Liberty, Joseph Smith issued the “Fishing River Revelation,” chastising the Saints for disobedience and disbanding the camp, thereby postponing indefinitely the eventual Mormon reclamation of Jackson County. Zion’s Camp never officially fired a shot upon its enemies. The few deaths reported among the Missourians came mainly by drowning, and those among the Mormons from cholera.”[30]

Did the Mormons “pollute their inheritances”? With Zion’s Camp having been decimated by cholera, and Smith himself being struck with it while claiming he could “heal the sick”, all of his previous violent rhetoric from his February “revelation” was tossed aside, like these promises made in that very “revelation”,

“Verily, verily I say unto you, that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., is the man to whom I likened the servant to whom the Lord of the vineyard spake in the parable which I have given unto you. Therefore let my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., say unto the strength of my house, my young men and the middle aged—Gather yourselves together unto the land of Zion, upon the land which I have bought with money that has been consecrated unto me. And let all the churches send up wise men with their moneys, and purchase lands even as I have commanded them. And inasmuch as mine enemies come against you to drive you from my goodly land, which I have consecrated to be the land of Zion, even from your own lands after these testimonies, which ye have brought before me against them, ye shall curse them; And whomsoever ye curse, I will curse, and ye shall avenge me of mine enemies. And my presence shall be with you even in avenging me of mine enemies, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again. And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple.”[31]

Smith instead, gave his Fishing River Revelation, where he blames his own failure on the church,

“were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now.”[32]

Yet, Smith was supposed to be “the man like unto Moses” and lead them “with power” and “a stretched out arm”. And as the followers of Moses were led, “so shall the redemption of Zion be”.  Did Moses have those in his camp who griped? Yes. But did that stop Moses from destroying the Egyptians? Not at all. Remember, Smith doesn’t liken the redemption of Zion to the possessing of the promised land of Israel, he likens it to when Israel was leaving Egypt, “and as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be.” This included all the gripers, backbiters, and those who had committed “transgressions”.  These were individuals, not the entire church.  Smith had been so confident in his power that he wrote another earlier revelation which stated,

“And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed; neither shall there be any other place appointed than that which I have appointed, for the work of the gathering of my saintsUntil the day cometh when there is found no more room for them; and then I have other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion.”[33]

This pretty much states that it’s Missouri or nothing. “Zion shall not be moved out of her place,” says Smith, even though “her children are scattered”.[34] Smith tells us that God “reveals” to him that there is “none other place appointed” and that “neither shall there be until the day” comes that “there is found no more room for them” and then, only then, will there be “other places” which would be called “stakes”.

Smith knew what he had written, and so after blaming this failure on others, decides to set the date for the “redemption of Zion” and try again. On August 16, 1834 he writes to the leaders of the Church in Clay County, Missouri,

“use every effort  to prevail on the churches to gather to those regions  and situate themselves to be in readiness to move  into Jackson Co. in two years from the Eleventh of  September next which is the appointed time for the  redemption of Zion.[35]

This would set the date for the “redemption of Zion” at September 11, 1836. A diary entry by Joseph Smith that was made on September 25, 1835 shows that he was still intent on fulfilling this, and that it was indeed “the voice of the spirit of the Lord, that those “driven out”  should be set back on their lands by the spring of 1836:

September 24th 1835 This day the High Council met at my house to take into consid[e]ration the redeem[p]tion of Zion. It was the voice of the spirit of the Lord that we petition to the Governer [of Missouri]. That is those who have been driven out /should/ to do so to be set back on their Lands next spring. We go next season to live or dy [die] to this end so the dy is cast  in Jackson County.

We truly had a good time and Covena[n]ted to strug[g]le for this thing u[n]till death shall desolve [dissolve] this union. And if one falls that the rest be not discouraged but pe[r]sue this object until it is a[c]omplished. Which may God grant u[n]to us in the name of Christ our Lord.

September 24th 1835 This day drew up an Arti/c/le of [p.35] inrollment for the redem[p]tion of Zion that we may obtain volunteers to go next spring /to M[iss]o[uri]/. I ask God in the name of Jesus that we may obtain Eight hundred men /or one thousand/ well armed [men] and that they may ac[c]omplish this great work. Even so. Amen.[36]

But the Mormons couldn’t even hold on to their lands in Clay County, and were expelled by the citizens there and were forced to regroup in Ray (Caldwell) County.  John Corrill writes that

“Friendship began to be restored between them and their neighbors, the old prejudices were fast dying away, and they were doing well, until the summer of 1838.”[37]

What happened was Joseph Smith. Having made a mess of things in Kirtland with the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society,[38]Smith was forced to flee Kirtland in the middle of the night in January of 1838 and arrived in Far West, Missouri in the spring of that year. He subsequently ex-communicated all of the leaders of the Church there, and as John Corrill writes, told the “saints” that,

“in order to get protection and favor from God, they must become one, and be perfectly united in all things; cleanse themselves from every kind of pollution, and keep the whole law of God; and, if they would do this, God would strengthen them against their enemies, his arm should be their arm, and the time was not far distant when, if they purified themselves properly, one should be able to choose his thousand, and to put their ten thousand to flight.[39]  

This was the same rhetoric used in the journal entries of 1835. It again amounted to nothing. In Caldwell County tensions mounted, and a secret band of Mormon “enforcers” [40] was formed called the Danites, which Smith described in his diary:

“We have a company of Danites in these times, to put to right physically that which is not right, and to cleanse the Church of very great evils which hath hitherto existed among us inasmuch as they cannot be put to right by teachings & persuasions.[41]

Open war soon erupted between the Missourians and the Mormons, with Smith promising to those that fought with him that,

“he would yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; and if he was not let alone, he would be a second Mohammed to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic ocean; that like Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was, ‘the Alcoran or the Sword.’ So should it be eventually with us, ‘Joseph Smith or the Sword.’”[42]

Ordering the Mormon apostle David W. Patten to attack State Militia, Smith outraged the Governor, who issued an Extermination Order against the Mormons. Patten was killed in the Battle of Crooked River, and Smith was captured and charged with treason and murder.  Sent to Richmond and then Liberty Jail, Smith bribed his guards and left the state, and soon thereafter made Commerce Illinois the new gathering place for the “saints”.[43] It is here, that we have some more mention of the Rocky Mountains.

About a year after his “leg bail” from the Missourians, Smith sent Jonathan Dunham on a mission to New York to proselyte the Indians there. Smith had suspended his plans to intermarry with the “Lamanites” in Missouri because govern­ment regulations enforced by Indian agents forbade dwelling among the Indian Tribes, and the Missourians were suspicious very early on of supposed Mormon interaction with them. It seems that the conversion of an Indian and his family, who was “an Interpreter of six tribes” generated excitement among the Mormons to renew their efforts in fulfilling Smith’s prophecy that the “Lamanites” would “blossom as the rose”.[44]

On July 19, 1840 Smith would embellish his concept of Zion once more, claiming that “When all this comes true–and it surely will–then they will know that a prophet has been among them,”[45] before he launched into a “prophetic” speech that would set the stage for the coming “Lamanite” uprising. Howard and Martha Corey reported that Smith,

“read the parable of the 12 olive trees  and said speaking of the Land of Zion that It consists of all N. & S America but that any place where the Saints gather is Zion which every righteous man will build up for a place of safety for his children that The olive trees are 12 stakes which are yet to be built not the Temple in Jackson [County, Missouri] as some suppose for while the 12 olive stakes are being built we will be at peace but the Nations of the Earth will be at war”[46]

Having failed twice at Zion’s redemption, Smith was now claiming that twelve “stakes” must be built up first, but in 1837 told something quite different to some in his inner circle like Mary Fielding, who mentions them in a letter to her sister written in 1837:

“Some important things were shown to Brother Joseph in vision previous to his going off relative to the enlargement of our borders which has indeed become indispensably necessary for the inhabitants of Zion both here [Ohio] and in the west [Missouri]are crying the cities are too strait for us give place that we may dwell. The people are crowding in from all parts and as President Rigdon said in his last discourse here they will gather and earth and hell combined cannot hinder them for gather they will. Hence the necessity of planting new stakes which they received a command to do before they left and it is expected that after they have set in order the Church in the west they will fix upon 11 new stakes before they return but this is not spoken of in public for reasons you will be aware of. If this were generally known it would probably make there way much more difficult.”[47]

Forced out of Missouri without redeeming Zion, Smith reverses himself, and claims,

“The redemption of Zion is the redemption of all N & S America and those 12 stake must be built up before the redemption of Zion can take place and those who refuse to gather and build when they are commanded to do so cease to be Saviours of men and are henceforth good for nothing but shall be cast out and trodden underfeet of men for their transgression…”[48]

We then have Smith claiming that the Mormons would save the Constitution after the desolation that the “Gentiles” would suffer (for rejecting the Book of Mormon)[49]and Smith gives a timeframe for when all this happens, and does it by way of a “prophecy”,

“We shall build the Zion of the Lord in peace untill the servants of that Lord shall begin to lay the foundation of a great and high watch Tower and then shall they begin to say within themselves what need hath my Lord of this tower seeing this is a time of peace & Then the Enemy shall brak come as a thief in the night and scatter the servants abroad when the seed of these 12 Olive trees are scattered abroad they will wake up the Nations of the whole Earth Even this Nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to peices and tumbling to the ground and when the constitution is upon the brink of ruin this people will be the Staff up which the Nation shall lean and they shall bear away the constitution away from the very verge of destruction Then shall the Lord say go tell all my servants who are the strength of mine house my young men and middle aged &c come to the Land of my vineyard and fight the battle of the Lord Then the Kings & Queens shall come then the rulers of the Earth shall come then shall ail saints come yea the Foreign saints shall come to fight for the Land of my vineyard for in this thing shall be their safety and they will have no power to choose but will come as a man fleeth from a sudden destruction But before this the time shall be when these who are now my friends shall become my enemies and shall seek to take my life

But brethren come ye yea come all of you who can come and go to with your mights and build up the cities of the Lord and whosoever will let him come and partake of the poverty of Nauvoo freely for those who partake of her poverty shall also shall also partake of her prosperity. And it is now wisdom in God that we should enter into as compact a city as posible for Zion and Jerusalem and must both be built up before the coming of Christ How long will it take to do this 10 years Yes more than 40 years will pass before this work will be accomplished and when these cities are built then shall the coming of the Son of man be”[50]

It would be hard indeed, to imagine Smith prophecying (and really believing) that the saints would be “driven” from Nauvoo, in 1842 when he “prophesied” in 1840 that it would become the greatest city in the world,

And I prophecy in the name of the Lord that the state of Illinois shall become a great mountain and mighty mountain as city set upon a hill that cannot be hid and a great that giveth light to the world and The city of Nauvoo als[o] shall become the greatest city in the whole world. Now from this hour bring every thing you can bring and build a Temple unto the Lord a house into the mighty God of Jacob. We will build upon the top of this Temple a great observatory a great and high watch tower and in the top thereof we will Suspend a tremendous bell  that when it is rung shall rouse the inhabitants of Madison wake up the people of Warsaw and sound in the ears of men [in] Carthage Then comes the ancient records yea all of them dig them yea bring them forth speedily

Then shall the poor be fed by the curious who shall come from all parts of the world to see this wonderful temple Yea I prophecy that pleasure parties shall come from England to see the Mamoth and like the Queen of Sheba shall say the half never was told them. School houses shall be built here and High schools shall be established and the great men of the [earth] shall send their sons here to board while they are receiving their education among us And even Noblemen shall crave the priviledge of educating their children with us and these poor saints shall chink in their pockets the money of these proud men received from such as come and dwell with us”[51]

Not finished, Smith again gives a “ prophesy” that “these saints” will return to Missouri,

“Now brethren I obligate myself to build as great a temple as ever solomon did if the church will back me up. Moreover it shall not impoverish any man but enrich thousands I prophecy that the time shall be when these saints shall ride proudly over the mountains of Missouri and no Gentile dog nor Missouri dog shall dare lift a tongue against them but will lick up the dust from beneath their feet and I pray the father that many here may realize this and see it with their eyes. And if it should be (Stretching his hand towards the place and in a melancholly tone that made all hearts tremble) will of God that I might live to behold that temple completed and finished from the foundation to the top stone I will say Oh Lord it is enough Lord let thy servant depart in peace, which is my ernest prayer in the name of the L[ord] Jesus Amen.”[52]

We now return to Jonathan Dunham and his mission to the “Lamanites”, who left Fort Leavenworth where he was residing, and wrote a letter to Hiram Kellogg in Kirtland to ask for assistance, signing it “Jonathan Dunham, Lamanite”. After he arrived in Kirtland, one of the leaders there, Thomas Burdick wrote a letter to Joseph Smith, quoting some of Dunham’s letter and asking about his “mission”, which they thought odd in the light of Dunham’s subsequent explanations upon his arrival there. Dunham initially wrote Kellogg,

“Dear brother in the gospel and new Covenant, I feel it a duty to inform you that I am on  my way and mission to the State of New York, I have  just returned from the Far West! by way of Commerce  Nauvoo, Springfield &c. I started in company with three other Elders who have all got sick & I have been obliged to leave them, two of whom have gone back &  the other I left in Covington K.Y. opposite Cincinatti.  My mission is urgent indeed. I am now left alone”  I did want you to select out if possible three or four Lam anite preachers and have them ready when I arrive to  go to Catteraugus Buffalo Tonawanda, Tuscaroras  Alleganys Onendagas and Oneidas:— I want the  bretheren if possible to assist me in getting to the Onida  Castle by water for I am in haste to return to Nauvoo  at Oct. Conference, & then to my station in the Terri tory of Missouri 9 miles from the Garrison (Leving worth), from whence, I have just come. A new  scene of things are about to transpire in the west, in fulfilment of prophecy, &c I want your prayers & also  the prayers of the bretheren that I may have my health to  accomplish my mission. I am not sent to the Gentiles  neither to the Cities of the Sameritans, but to the promised  people of the house of Jacob, who if they go through &c”[53]

While in Kirtland, Burdick reports that Dunham preached in public that,

“This nation is about  to be destroyed” and suggests to the bretheren that there is a place of safety preparing for them away towards  the Rockey mountains they may have a long and croo ked Road to go to get there” and says but few will  be preserved to arrive there, he suggests that twelve  stakes may be built up & again thrown down—  That the ten tribes are somewhere on a Planet taken  from this Plannet which when it comes back will cause  this earth to reil to and fro like two Boats meeting—  that Adam had 15 or 16 sons before Cain &c.”[54]

Dunham had obviously heard Smith’s “prophetic” speech in July, or reports of it. His “towards the Rocky Mountains”, could mean anywhere between the western boundary of Missouri and the Rockies, and as we shall see, there was never any specific destination Mormon “prophets” had in mind, only vague references to the Rocky Mountains, as this was.  In 1841, the “saints” were told,

“all places of gathering are discontinued, excepting Hancock county, Illinois, and Zarahemla, in Lee county, Iowa territory, opposite Nauvoo…”[55]

Regardless, this was in direct contradiction to a “revelation” that Smith wrote in 1830 where he states,

“And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts; Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked. For the hour is nigh and the day soon at hand when the earth is ripe; and all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that wickedness shall not be upon the earth; For the hour is nigh, and that which was spoken by mine apostles must be fulfilled; for as they spoke so shall it come to pass; For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.”[56]

And in 1831,

“Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints. Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.”[57]

Smith’s modus operandi was to entrench himself in a place, until driven out when his dishonest dealings were exposed. In 1842 he came close to leaving Nauvoo over the defection of John C. Bennett and his revelations about Smith’s spiritual wifeism, and so the Rocky Mountains and the “stakes” were again discussed. This was mentioned by Oliver Olney, a convert from the Kirtland days who had weathered the Missouri storm, but had recently apostatized.

“Also twelve Stakes of Zion on its borders that was to be reared by the Latter Day Saints, in the due time of the Lord, as the way opened it for them to perform.”[58]

Marvin S. Hill in “Quest For Refuge” explains,

“For a time, in response to the criticism in local and national press due to Bennett’s allegations, Smith entertained the idea of finding refuge further west. Oliver Olney learned of this and wrote him a letter dated 20 July 1842 from Quincy. He inquired, “They say with your numerous wifes and maidens you are about to start west as far as the Rocky Mountains where you will raise up a Righteous Branch without being molested by the Laws of the Land.” Olney later noted that the Saints “are fast a fixing to go West where they can live in peace without being molested By the laws of the land. They say soon to start If what I hear is correct as far West as Origen Territory and establish a stake of Zion.” But Willard Richards indicated in a letter to James Arlington Bennett of New York, written in November, that the Saints desired to go no further west unless compelled, so that by the latter date they felt reasonably certain that they had weathered the storm stirred by Bennett.”[59]

1846 Texas Territory

Since Missouri was now off limits to the Mormons, the Territory beyond Missouri – which was Texas and encompassed part of the Rockies – would be considered by Smith and others as an additional refuge for the “saints”.  This fits in with Smith’s plans to proselyte the “Lamanites” and set up the twelve “stakes”  (or cities) in the Texas Territory, as recorded by William Clayton:

[January 1, 1845. Wednesday.]…The organization of the Kingdom of God on 11th March last is one important event. This organization was called the Council of Fifty or Kingdom of God, and was titled by revelation as follows. “Verily thus saith the Lord, this is the name by which you shall be called, the Kingdom of God and his Laws, with the Keys and power thereof, and judgment in the hands of his servants, Ahman Christ.” In this Council [p.154] was the plan arranged for supporting President Joseph Smith as a candidate for the presidency of the U.S. President Joseph was the standing chairman of the Council and myself the Clerk. In this Council was also devised the plan of establishing an emigration to Texas, and plans laid for the exaltation of a standard and ensign of truth for the nations of the earth. In this Council was the plan devised to restore the Ancients to the Knowledge of the truth and the restoration of Union and peace amongst ourselves.  In this Council was President Joseph chosen our Prophet, Priest and King by Hosannas. In this Council was the principles of eternal truth rolled forth to the heavens without reserve and the hearts of the servants of God made to rejoice exceedingly. I was admitted a member of the first quorum and a member of the council of fifty. I have received two companions, received two children and buried one.”[60]

A month later, Wilford Woodruff mentions California as a place to set up “a city”,

“I met with the Quorum of the Twelve at Joseph’s Store and according to Joseph’s counsel, we selected a company to go on an exploring expedition to California and pitch upon a spot to build a city. The following persons were named: Jonathan Dunham, David Fulmer, Phineas Young, Alphonzo Young, Yearsley and Emmet.”[61]

Wilford Woodruff

What is interesting, is that Smith’s Presidential Platform included the annexation of Texas, and he still had plans for the territory.  In the History of the Church Smith’s plans were revealed,

7 Mar 1844 – At a meeting at the Nauvoo Temple, William W. Phelps read Smith’s presidential platform and he was “unanimously, with one exception” nominated as a candidate for President of the United States.   Explaining his views on slavery and westward expansion, Smith said that he would free the slaves from a few states, compensate their owners, annex Texas, and settle the freed slaves in Texas, where they would act as a buffer of human flesh against the British, who were also attempting to gain control of Texas:

British officers are now running all over Texas to establish British influence in that country…. It will be more honorable for us to receive Texas and set the negroes free, and use the negroes and Indians against our foes….How much better it is for the nation to bear a little expense than to have the Indians and British upon us and destroy us all…. The South holds the balance of power. By annexing Texas, I can do away with this evil. As soon as Texas was annexed, I would liberate the slaves in two or three States, indemnifying [i.e. compensating] their owners, and send the negroes to Texas, and from Texas to Mexico, where all colors are alike. And if that was not sufficient, I would call upon Canada, and annex it.”[62]

Aside from the racism here, Smith’s plans to use the “negroes and Indians against our foes” as “a buffer of human flesh” is reprehensible for one claiming to follow Jesus. A year later, after Smith’s death, Clayton mentions Lewis Dana, an Indian (Lamanite) who they had admitted to the Council of Fifty, and the Council’s plans to use him to help them find a place to settle in the “west”,

[March 1, 1845. Saturday.] At 10 A.M. met at the Seventies Hall in the Council of Fifty. The following brethren were taken into fill up the Quorum viz; Joseph Young, John E. Page, David Fullmer, Theodore Turley, Albert P. Rockwood, Jonathan Dunham, and Lucien R. Foster. They subscribed to the laws of the Council and covenanted before God with uplifted hands to maintain all things inviolate agreeable to the order of the Council. Brothers Daniel Spencer, Isaac Morley, and Shadrack Roundy were selected to make up the number of 50 but they were absent and sick. Brother John Pack was admitted to sit in the place of Wilford Woodruff, John D. Lee in the place of Ezra Thayer, and Lewis Dana in place of Amos Fielding they being absent on business. Lewis Dana is a Lamanite of the Oneida nation and the First Lamanite who has been admitted a member of any Quorum of the Church.

The object of the Council was to decide whether we shall send out a company of men with Brother Dana to fill Josephs measures originally adopted in this Council by going West to seek out a location and a home where the Saints can dwell in peace and health and where they can erect the ensign and standard of liberty for the nations, and live by the laws of God without being oppressed and mobbed under a tyrannical government, without protection from the laws. Many able speeches were made on the subject and the Council finally agreed to send out a company with Brother Dana to accomplish this important object.”[63]

Just as Smith dreamed of being the head of God’s political kingdom on earth, so did Brigham Young, who left the United States and to start an independent nation, which he named Deseret.[64]The plans for this political kingdom was to befriend the Indians, who the Mormons expected to “rise up” against the people of the United States and help them destroy themselves.[65]

Some months before the his diary entries of September 1835 which outlined the plan to redeem Zion by 1836, Smith called  a special conference of those who had been members of Zion’s Camp, and told them that “God had commanded it and it was made known to him by vision and by the Holy Spirit” that “it was The Will of God that they should be ordained to the ministry and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last times, or the coming of the Lord which was nigh, even fifty six years, should wind up the scene.”[66]

This timeframe would figure prominently in a tract that Parley P. Pratt would publish in a rebuttal of claims made by LaRoy Sunderland who had denounced Mormonism in his publication, Zion’s Watchman. In his tract, called Mormonism Unveiled, Pratt stated that the Book of Mormon prophesied this very scenario, (involving the “Lamanites”) and Pratt also “prophesied” that it would happen in less than 50 years from that date (or the Book of Mormon was false), which was also the same timeframe that Smith would repeat in July of 1840,

LaRoy Sunderland

The Book of Mormon contains many prophecies, yet future, with names, places, and dates, so definite, that a child may understand; indeed, it is one of the peculiar characteristics of the Book of Mormon, that its predictions are plain, simple, definite, literal, positive and very express, as to the time of their fulfilment. Notice a prediction of Nephi, page 125, second edition. “For after the book of which I have spoken, shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many, which shall believe the words which are written, and they shall carry them forth, unto the remnant of our seed, (the Indians) and then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us; how that we came on from Jerusalem; and that they are the descendants of the Jews; and the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be declared among them; wherefore they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers; and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers; and then shall they rejoice for they shall know, that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God. And their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people. And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ, shall also be a delightsome people; and it shall come to pass, that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth. * * * For the time speedily cometh, that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy, and he will spare his people.”

Also page 121, 2d edition. “Behold that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof: for the kingdom of the devil must shake; and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance. or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger and perish; for behold at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.”

Also, page 122 2nd edition. “Woe unto all those who tremble and are angry, because of the truth of God; for behold he that is built upon the rock, receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth, lest he shall fall.” Also. page 123 2nd edition. “Woe be unto the Gentiles, says the Lord God of Hosts; for notwithstanding I shall lengthen out my arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me.” See also, page 514, and read the fate of our nation, and the fate of the Indians of America; in the day that the Gentiles should reject the fullness of the gospel.–(The Book of Mormon.) See also, page 526, where a sign is given, and the time clearly set for the restoration and gathering of Israel from their long dispersion, namely, the coming forth the Book of Mormon, should be the sign; and in the day this work should come forth, should this great event commence among all nations. Also, p. 527, where all who will not hearken to the Book of Mormon, shall be cut off from among the people; and that too, in the day it comes forth to the Gentiles and is rejected by them. And not only does this page set the time for the overthrow of our government and all other Gentile governments on the American continent, but the way and means of this utter destruction are clearly foretold; namely, the remnant of Jacob will go through among the Gentiles and tear them in pieces. like a lion among the flocks of sheep. Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off. This destruction includes an utter overthrow, and desolation of all our Cities, Forts, and Strong Folds–an entire annihilation of our race, except such as embrace the Covenant, and are numbered with Israel.

Parley P. Pratt

Now, Mr. Sunderland, you have something definite and tangible, the time, the manner, the means, the names, the dates; and I will state as a prophecy, that there will not be an unbelieving Gentile upon this continent 50 years hence; and if they are not greatly scourged, and in a great measure overthrown, within five or ten years from this date, then the Book of Mormon will have proved itself false. And furthermore, as Mr. LaRoy Sunderland has lied concerning the truth of Heaven, the fulness of the Gospel; and has blasphemed against the word of God, except he speedily repent, and acknowledge his lying and wickedness, and obey the message of eternal truth, which God has sent for the salvation of his people. God will smite him dumb, that he can no longer speak great swelling words against the Lord; and a trembling shall seize his nerves, that he shall not be able to write; and Zion’s Watchman shall cease to be published abroad, and its lies shall no longer deceive the public; and he will wander a vagabond on the earth, until sudden destruction shall overtake him; and if Mr. La Roy Sunderland enquires, when shall these things be? I reply, it is nigh thee–even at thy doors; and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I hope Mr. Sunderland, will no more complain of the jargon of the Mormon Prophets being unintelligible or indefinite.”[67]

Brigham Young elaborated on those plans for the Lamanites in July of 1847 as WIlford Woodruff records in his Journal,

“all the governors–and presidents of the U.S.A. had rejected all our petitions from first to last, that when the Saints were driven from Illinois and perished as it were on the prairies, then President Polk sends for a draft of 500 men to go into the Army. What for? That they might be wasted entirely wasted away as a people. If the brethren had not gone, they would have made war upon us and the Governor of Missouri would have been ordered not to have let us cross the Missouri and the raising of the battalion was our temporal salvation at the time and said Polk would be damned for this act and that he with many of the government men had a hand in the death of Joseph and Hyrum and that they should be damned for these things and if they ever sent any men to interfere with us here, they shall have their throats cut and sent to hell, and with uplifted hands to Heaven swore by the Gods of Eternity that He would never cease His exhortation while he lived to make every preparation and avenge blood of the Prophets and Saints, that he intended to have every hole and corner from the Bay of Francisco to Hudson Bay known to us and that our people would be connected with every tribe of Indians throughout America and that our people would yet take their squaws, wash and dress them up, teach them our language and teach them to labor and teach them the gospel of their forefathers and raise up children by them and teach the children and not many generations hence they will become a white and delightsome people and in no other way will it be done and that the time was nigh at hand when the gospel must go to that people.”[68]

In his book Establishing Zion, Eugene E. Campbell writes,

“When the Mormons began their emigration from Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1846, their destination was California. The Great Basin, which was part of the Mexican province of Upper California, was to be the site of the first colony, but as Apostle Parley P. Pratt wrote in September 1846, “I expect we shall stop near the Rocky Mountains about 800 miles nearer than the coast … and there make a stand until we are able to enlarge and extend to the coast.”[69]

This didn’t happen, not because of prophetic vision, but because they did not have the means. Campbell again explains,

“Young had also notified Brannan as late as 6 June 1847 that “the main [camp] will not go to the west coast, or to your place at present, as they do not have the means.” This implied that Young’s contingent would have followed Brannan’s example, if they had had the means. Young continued in the same letter, “Any among you who may choose to come over into the basin, or meet the camp, are at liberty to do so, and if they are doing well where they are, and choose to stay, it is quite all right.” However, after church authorities established the Great Salt Lake Valley as the headquarters of the church, the policy emerged of requiring that all loyal church members gather to that region, help to build it up, and secure it for the church.[70]

There is ample evidence to show that neither Joseph Smith nor Brigham Young had any specific places in mind when it came to setting up “stakes” or cities in the west, hence there was no “vision” or “prophecy” that described anything in detail, as Anson Call would claim years after the Mormons built up the Salt Lake Valley.  Having been driven out of every place they had previously settled, and with tensions rising in Nauvoo in 1842, it is quite plausible that Smith mentioned the Rocky Mountains as his next place to escape to.  His plans for the Presidency of the United States only go to show that Smith intended to stay in Nauvoo, and keep it intact as one of the “stakes” of Zion, along with establishing other “stakes” in the “far west”.  But his timeline changed with every new move and every new city he built up, all the while “prophesying “ “greatness” for those cities, none of which ever came to pass[71]

Addendum:

I found this recently posted by rare document and book collector Rick Grunder  on his website where he lists some “past treasures” he has sold, and one of them was a broadside that was published by the Church in 1845. Grunder writes,

The first printing of news that the entire Church will go West, published at Nauvoo in October, 1845.  A spectacular Mormon broadside (Flake 1339; Crawley 284; Byrd 945), of which only five examples are recorded. This sixth example appears to be the only copy in private hands.

Our houses, our farms, this Temple and all we leave will be a monument to those who may visit the place of our industry, diligence and virtue. . . .  Wake up, wake up dear brethren . . . to the present glorious emergency . . . The exodus of the . . . only true Israel from these U. S. to a far distant region of the West . . .  Let all wagons that are hereafter built be constructed to the track of five feet width from centre to centre. . . . There are said to be many good locations for settlements on the Pacific, especially at Vancouver’s Island, near the mouth of Columbia.  BRIGHAM YOUNG, Pres’t.  WILLARD RICHARDS, Clerk.

The Huntington Family copy, with notarized provenance. Sold to a private collector.

V. THE REAL ISSUE

What is the real issue that the Tanners and Richard Abanes and others are getting at here? It is this:

That there were changes made in Joseph Smith’s history after the fact and written in as his actual words, without any documents to authenticate them.  As B.H. Roberts writes in New Witnesses,

“At that date, August 6th, 1842, the Rocky Mountains seemed like a country afar off to the people of Illinois. The Missouri River was the extreme frontiers of the United States. All beyond that was well nigh an unexplored wilderness filled with savages. The church was fairly settled at Nauvoo, the state authorities were apparently very friendly, the future of the Saints in Illinois seemed propitious. Yet in the midst of all these favorable circumstances the Prophet predicted much affliction for some of the Saints, death from persecution for others, apostasy for many, and for the great body of the church an exodus to the Rocky Mountains, where some of those present who were listening to the prediction, should live to assist in making settlements and building cities in the Rocky Mountains where they would see the Saints become a mighty people.

There can be no question as to the reality of these two predictions, the one of March, 1831, and the other of August, 1842, or of their being of a character to test the divine inspiration of him who uttered them. That they were proclaimed some years before the events predicted in them began to be fulfilled, or even there was any thought or prospect of such events taking place, is well known; that the latter prophecy has been fulfilled to the uttermost, the whole history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from August, 1842, until now witnesses. The Saints suffered many afflictions in Illinois. Their homes, fields, stacks of grain, stock and other property were destroyed; their prophets and a number of others were killed outright by mob violence; many more perished from exposure and disease occasioned by being driven from their homes at an inclement season of the year. In those trying times, following the martyrdom of the Prophet and the expulsion from Nauvoo, many turned away from the faith, and it is too generally known to need comment, that the great body of the church made its way to the Rocky Mountains, where cities, towns and villages have been founded, the wilderness subdued, and the Saints are fast becoming a mighty people.”[72]

Even knowing the problems with Call’s recollection of Smith’s “prophecy”, Roberts still insists that “the latter prophecy has been fulfilled to the uttermost”, and touts it as a test of “the divine inspiration of him who uttered them.”  In 1891 Assistant Church Historian Andrew Jensen repeats the “prophecy” to a group of students,

“I need spend no time to prove the fulfilment of this remarkable prophecy. All of you who are present in this hall tonight can testify to its literal fulfilment. The Latter-day Saints have indeed become a mighty people in these mountains, numbering as they do now about two hundred thousand souls, organized into thirty-two stakes of Zion, or nearly five hundred wards and branches; and this does not include the Saints in Mexico and Canada. It is also a matter of history that the Saints, for years after the prediction was uttered, continued to suffer persecution and affliction from their enemies; that many apostatized, while others, who proved faithful and true to their covenants, were put to death for conscience’ sake, and the remainder were driven by a ruthless mob from the beautiful city of Nauvoo into the western wilderness in the year 1846.”[73]

Apostle Erastus Snow would add to the folklore in 1916:

“Joseph Smith, when he uttered this prophecy, when he beheld this vision, was standing upon the banks of the Mississippi River, fifteen hundred miles from where we now are. Yet he saw the Rocky Mountains, and the crystal streams flowing from yonder canyons, and I doubt not that if he had led his people to this land, as he once purposed doing, he would have recognized it as a familiar scene, having beheld it in vision, by the seeric gift, before he saw it with the natural eye. But the Prophet was not destined to fulfill his own prediction; his martyrdom prevented; and the Lord raised up another mighty man to carry out the project, to become the founder of Utah, and the redeemer of the Great American Desert.”[74]

On the Churches official site, under “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church” they are still pedaling the folklore,

“The Prophet was well aware that he and all of the Saints living in Nauvoo were in an increasingly dangerous situation. As Nauvoo grew larger, some of the people who lived in the area began to fear the growing political and economic power of the Saints, and mobs began again to harass them. The Prophet was in particular danger, for authorities from Missouri made repeated efforts to capture him, and apostates from the Church became increasingly hostile in their efforts to destroy him. On August 6, 1842, the Prophet declared that the time would come when Church members would be forced to leave Nauvoo:

“I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.”[75]

The footnote they give for the quote references the same interpolated manuscript that the Tanners expose as having been doctored after the fact:

History of the Church, 5:85; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book D-1, p. 1362, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. [76]

In July of 1997, M. Russell Ballard once again references the same spurious prophecy in a New Era article,

“The pioneer exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, began on February 4, 1846. Nearly four years earlier, in August of 1842, the Prophet Joseph Smith shared his foreknowledge of the trek west: “I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some [would live to] build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, 1976, 255).[77]

“Apostle” M. Russell Ballard

The impression the Church today gives is not that this “prophecy” is a conglomeration of various and sundry statements by Smith, or even an amalgamation of them crafted into a coherent “prophecy”, but a valid, specific statement uttered by Smith on a particular day and inserted by Smith himself into his own history.  What the evidence shows is that this is not only an interpolation, but it is an insertion of something that there is no evidence that Smith ever said in those precise words, and was in fact a contradiction of previous prophecies that were recorded! The Tanners are absolutely correct in their use of sources to prove this, and their conclusion that this “prophecy” is “not authentic”.

CONCLUSION

The shoddy and deceptive “apologetics” of F.A.I.R. are demonstrated here for what they are. If one were to systematically go through each of their reviews, one can come to the same conclusion for the majority of their efforts. Their vilification of the Tanners as “dishonest” is especially disturbing, for as we see by the evidence from this one instance, the Tanners are vindicated by the facts, and it is F.A.I.R. who is shown to be dishonest and misleading.

F.A.I.R.’s disclaimer at the bottom of each of its articles is a fascinating puzzle in and of itself. They claim,

“The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR) is not … affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All research and opinions provided on this site … should not be interpreted as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief, or practice.”

How can an organization that consists of members of the Mormon Church not be affiliated with it? Affiliated means to be formally or informally associated.  Are we to believe that “faithful members” of a church are not affiliated with it? In a press release to promote their newly published book Shaken- Faith Syndrome (distributed by the Church owned Deseret Book) in 2008, F.A.I.R. describes itself as,

“a  tax-exempt 501 (C) 3 Corporation staffed by faithful members of the Church of Jesus  Christ of Latter-day Saints who seek to defend the Mormon Church, its leaders,  teachings, and practices….”[78]

Good for them. But they don’t play fair.

NOTES

[1] History of the Church , Vol.5, Ch.4, p.85.

[2] Challenging Anti-Mormon Apologetics is a Facebook Page that describes itself as “A group where the members discuss issues brought up by critics of Mormonism on Face Book”.  Their Rules of the Page include,

3. Personal attacks (a.k.a. ad hominem attacks) will not be tolerated. Friendly jabs, however, are allowed.

4. Hostility toward any given religious group is forbidden. Disagreements are to be expected, but this is no excuse for hostility.

In a post made on February 6, 2012 we read,

“Lion Leviticus – your end will be near if you continue to disrespect and post your Anti-Mormon Rhetoric here. Consider this your fair warning from this Admin – Timothy. If you disagree then you can go somewhere else and post your poisonous bigotry elsewhere. One more post from you that disrespects, condemns, state we are going to hell or are children of a False Prophet then you will be banned and you will no longer enjoy the privileges of posting on this page. Consider this fair warning you lying serpent of the Devil and False prophet who possesses a contentious spirit.”

And in a follow up,

“Any other apostates, ex-mormons, athiests, or Anti-Mormons do not like this decision, you all can go to other places on the web where you are more than welcome to gnash, rant, rail, and deceive one another. Your days are numbered, and you will be called out. I am tired of your evil rantings and your destruction of testimonies and slandering of the Prophets and the Apostles. I will start calling you out by name and calling you out and expose you for who you are. Want to discuss my faith, you will discuss it with due respect and disagree honorably. If you act like a child and want to through mud, use slander, call us names then you will be called a child of Satan, children of lies, deceiving and lying spirits who are bent on one thing and one thing only. YOU DO NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO CONDEMN US AND OUR TESTIMONY STANDS AS A WITNESS TO YOUR LIES AND DECEPTIONS AND YOUR ANGER TOWARD THE TRUTH, RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LIBERTY WE HAVE IN CHRIST AND IT WILL LEAD YOU TO BONDAGE AND THERE YOU WILL BECOME A SERVANT OF YOUR FATHER!” ~~Timothy [Berman] (Page Administrator, emphasis all his).

I think that will suffice as to how well they “challenge” anything on that Page, and the top-notch scholarly approach they use there. Still, the story surrounding the Rocky Mountain “prophecy” is interesting, which prompted this article. Note: This post was subsequently removed from the page, but here is a screenshot of the post as it appeared:

[3] Fair Article: Criticism of Mormonism Books One Nation Under Gods, use of sources, forged Rocky Mountain prophecy, hereafter, Criticism.

[4] ibid.

[5] The Changing World of Mormonism by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, page 405, emphasis mine, hereafter Changing World.

[6] ibid, pages 404-05, emphasis mine.

[7] Fair Wiki Article: Joseph Smith prophecies, Forged Rocky Mountain prophecy, Tanners use of sources, hereafter, Tanner’s sources.

[8] ibid.

[9] Changing World, pages 405-406, emphasis mine.

[10] The full warning reads,

“This is a review of claims and/or responses to misrepresentations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints found in this work. The inclusion of an author’s work here does not imply that he or she is “anti-Mormon,” or that none of his or her work(s) have value. Those who do not wish to examine the claims contained in what some would consider an “anti-Mormon” work are advised to proceed no further.”

Almost all of their “reviews” of books critical of Mormonism, contain this “Note”, and it is even applied to authors that are members of the Church. I guess if you are critical of Mormonism in any way, even if you are a member, you are an “anti-Mormon”. That must be fair, since it’s coming from F.A.I.R., right?

[11] Fair Article Criticism of Mormonism Books One Nation Under Gods, use of sources, forged Rocky Mountain prophecy, op. cited, hereafter, Criticism.

[12] Changing World, pages 405-406, emphasis mine.

[13] F.A.I.R. Article, Criticism, op. cited.

[14] History of the Church vol. 3, page 85, emphasis mine.

[15] http://user.xmission.com/~plporter/lds/ansoncall.htm

[16] Fair Article, Criticism, op. cited.

[17] John Denver, lyrics from the album Rocky Mountain High, RCA, 1972.

[18] Joseph Smith, August 8, 1839, Willard Richards Pocket Companion, emphasis mine (probably copied in part from notes of John Taylor & given sometime in July). Smith would later claim that the “whole of America” is Zion, but if it is, then where do you flee to? He mentions “stakes” that will provide some protection. But Smith had already revealed that Zion was a specific place, and the only place that fits his end of the world scenario is Jackson County Missouri. Salt Lake City would be a “stake” of Zion, and would not fit this scenario in the timeframe that Smith gave over and over, that the end would come in fifty years from the time of this statement. This has been borne out by historical events.

[19] The Evening and the Morning Star, Vol. 1 No. 2 October 1832, page 37, hereafter Star.

[20] ibid. Wilford Woodruff wrote an account of the “Zelph vision” that warrants inclusion here,

“While on our travels we visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent probably by the Nephites & Lamanites. We visited one of those Mounds and several of the brethren dug into it and took from it the bones of a man.

[Interlinearly after “We visited one of those Mounds”:] considerd to be 300 feet above the level of the Illinois river. Three persons dug into the mound & found a body. Elder Milton Holmes took the arrow out of the back bones that killed Zelph & brought it with some of the bones in to the camp. I visited the same mound with Jesse J Smith. Who the other persons were that dug in to the mound & found the body I am undecided.

Brother Joseph had a vission respecting the person. He said he was a white Lamanite. The curs was taken from him or at least in part. He was killed in battle with an arrow. The arrow was found among his ribs. One of his thigh bones was broken. This was done by a stone flung from a sling in battle years before his death. His name was Zelph. Some of his bones were brought into the Camp and the thigh bone which was broken was put into my waggon and I carried it to Missouri. Zelph was a large thick set man and a man of God. He was a warrior under the great prophet /Onandagus/ that was known from the hill Camorah /or east sea/ to the Rocky mountains. The above knowledge Joseph receieved in a vision.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.10)

[21] Book of Commandments, 44:32 reads,

“For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate the riches of the Gentiles, unto my people which are of the house of Israel.”

Smith would change this in 1835 to read,

“For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel.”

While there have been a few Mormon writers who have been willing to admit that Joseph Smith’s revelations have been changed, many have not been that honest. Mormon Apostle John A. Widtsoe said that the revelations “have remained unchanged. There has been no tampering with God’s word” (Joseph Smith—Seeker After Truth, p. 119).

Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth president, said that “there was no need for eliminating, changing, or adjusting any part to make it fit; but each new revelation on doctrine and priesthood fitted in its place perfectly to complete the whole structure, as it had been prepared by the Master Builder” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 170).

For an indepth study of all the changes made in the Book of Commandments,  go here.

[22] A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints, by Francis K. Bishop, 1839 page 1.  A good article on some of the reasons behind the Mormon War can be found here.

[23] B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.1, Ch.22, p.300, bracketed words are in the original. For more on the “Lamanites” see note 65.

[24]  Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Section 57:1-2, hereafter D&C, emphasis mine.

[25] ibid, verse 3.

[26] Star, page 37, emphasis mine.

[27] JS, letter, Kirtland, OH to N. C. Saxton, Rochester, NY, 4 Jan. 1833; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, with insertion in handwriting of William W. Phelps; in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 14–18; JS Collection, CHL.. See also, History of the Church, vol. 3:311-15.  My question when reading why Smith wrote this letter is – why is this not canonized? Smith wrote a follow up letter to N.C. Saxton, the editor of the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer where only part of the letter had been published and claimed,

“The letter which I  wrote you for publication I wrote by the commandment of God, and I am quite anxious  to have it all laid before the public for it is of importance to them …” (JS, letter, Kirtland, OH, to N. C. Saxton, Rochester, NY, 12 Feb. 1833; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 27–28; JS Collection, CHL., emphasis mine)

[28] D&C 103:6-7.

[29] ibid, 13-20.

[30] Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol.19, No.4, p.196, hereafter Dialogue, emphasis mine.

[31] D&C 103 21:28, emphasis mine

[32] History of the Church, vol. 2:108-11. Also, D&C 105:2.

[33] D&C 101: 20-21.(16 December 1833)

[34] ibid, verse 17.

[35] Joseph Smith Jr. (Kirtland, OH), to Lyman Wight, Edward Partridge, John Corrill, Isaac Morley, and others, Clay County, MO, 16 Aug. 1834; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 84–87; JS Collection, CHL.

[36] Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p.34-35, emphasis mine.

[37] John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church, page 26.

[38] http://mormonthink.com/glossary/anti-banking.htm

[39] ibid, page 29, emphasis mine.

[40] Corrill, p. 46.

[41] Joseph Smith diary, Missouri Journal, 1838, March to September, under July 27, 1838; Scott Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p. 198, emphasis mine.

[42] History of the Church 3:167

[43] Reed Peck was a follower of Joseph Smith from the time of the Church’s organization until the summer of 1838 when he became “opposed to the wicked transactions in Davies and the oppressive influence by which the church is led”. He directly tied Smith to the Danites by eyewitness testimony. Reed Peck left the Mormons and returned to South Bainbridge, (Afton, New York) farmed, and was a Justice of the Peace. In 1839 Reed Peck wrote an account of the events of the Mormon War, which has become known as the Reed Peck Manuscript,or History. Concerning the Danites he writes,

“A few individuals of us [p. 36] were ever after this opposed to the rule of the presidency perceiving that all spiritual and temporal affairs were under their control and no monarch on earth ever had supreme power over his subjects more than they over the inhabitants of Caldwell County only they durst not exercise it to so great a degree Their word was law in religious civil and military matters, but the secret springs of their power and influence we did not yet understand…

[p. 38] Some time previous to this Secret meetings had been held in F West that excited much curiousity among those that had not been permitted to attend as it was easily discovered that something more than ordinary was in progress among the male members of the church Ignorant of the nature of these meetings I attend one about the last of June, and heared a full disclosure of its object=Jared Carter Geo W. Robinson, and Sampson Avard, under the instructions of their presidency, had formed a secret military Society, called the “daughter of Zion” and [p. 39] were holding meetings to initiate members The principles taught by Sampson Aard as spokesman, were that “as the Lord had raised up a prophet in these last days like unto Moses it Shall be the duty of this band to obey him in all things, and whatever he requires you shall perform being ready to give up life and property for the advancement of the Cause When any thing is to be performed no member Shall have the privilege of judging whether it would be right or wrong but Shall engage in its accomplishment and trust God for the result [p. 40] It is not our business or place to know what is required by God, but he will inform us by means of the prophet and we must perform If any one of you see a member of the band in difficulty in the surrounding country contending for instance with an enemy, you shall extricate him even if in the wrong if you have to do with his adversary as Moses did with the Egyptian put him under the Sand and both pack off to Far West and we will take care of the matter ourselves. No person shall be suffered to speak evil or disrespectfully of the presidency The secret signs [p. 41] and purposes of this society are not to be revealed on pain of death” &c &c About 50 persons were initiated into the Society at the time I was introduced and to sam time the oath was administered to all the novices at once of which I took advantage by remaining silent and accordingly avoided taking it

I was appointed Adjutant of the band in consequence I suppose of my holding that office in the 59th Reg Missouri Militia I did not think it policy to regect the appointment though I declared to my society friends that I would never act in [p. 42] the office — All the principles of the Society tended to give the presidency unlimited power over the property, persons and I might say with propriety lives of the memebrs of the church as physical force was to be resorted to if necessary to accomplish their designs The blood of my best best friend must flow by my own hands if I would be a faithful Danite should the prophet command it Said A McRae in my hearing “If Joseph should tell me to kill Vanburen in his presidential chain I would im [p. 43] mediately start and do my best to assassinate him let the consequences be as they would–Having been taught to believe themselves invincible in the defence of their cause though the combined power of the world were in array against them, and the purposes of God were to be accomplished through their instrumentality, the wicked destroyed, by force of arms the “nations subdued,” and the Kingdom of Christ established on the Earth, they consider themselves accountable only at the bar of God for their conduct, and consequently [p. 44] acknowlegded no law superior to the “word of the Lord through the prophet” Do you suppose said a Zealous Danite at a time when the Sheriff of Daviess county held a State’s warrant against Joseph Smith that the prophet will condescend to be tried before a judge? I answered that Smith would in all probability submit Knowing that in case resistence was made the officers would call in the strength of other counties to enforce the law “What, said he, do we care for other counties or for the state or whole United States.” [p. 45] The independence of the church was to be supported it laws and the behests of the presidency enforced by means of this layal band of Danites, under command of Jared Carter, the terrible brother of Gideon became the additional title of “Captain Genl of the Lords hosts” His subalterns were Maj Genl Sampson Avard Brigd Genl C. P. [-] Coln Geo W. Robinson also a Lieut Coln Maj. Secretary of War an Adjutant, Captains of fifties & captains of tens and all these officers with the privates were to be under the administration of [p. 46] the presidency of the church and wholly subject to their control

At a meeting for the organisation of the Danites Sampson Avard presented the society to the presidency who blessed them and accepted their Services as though they were soon to be enployed in executing some great design They also made speeches to the Society in which great military glory and conquest were represented as awaiting them, victories in which one should chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight, were portrayed in the most lively manner, the assistance of [p. 47] Angels promised and in fine every thing was said to inspire them with Zeal and courage and to make them believe that God was soon to “bring to pass his act, his strange act” or by them as instruments to perform a marvelous work on the Earth In the fore part of July the “brother of Gideon” or Jared Carter Capt Genl of the Danites having complained to Joseph Smith of some observations made by Sidney Rigdon in a Sermon, was tried for finding fault with one of the presidency and deprived of his station and Elias Higbee was appointed in his stead

[p. 48] Carter’s punishment according to the principles of the Danites Should have been death In the evening after the trial I was in company with Maj Genl Sampson Avard Dimick B Huntington Capt of the Guard, Elias Higbee the new capt Genl and David W. Patten one of the twelve apostles and member of the high counsel of the church all of whom had sat with the presidency on the trial. D. B. Huntington stated that Joseph declared during the examination that he should have cut Carters throat on the spot if he had been alone when he made the complaint [p. 49] Huntington also Said that on his trial Carter came within a fingers point of losing his head Sampson Avard related at the same time the arrangements that had been made by the presidency and officers present at the trial respecting the dissenters.–Said he, “All the head officers are to be furnished by the presidency with a list of dissenters both in Ohio and Missouri and if for example I meet with one of them or who is damning and cursing the presidency, I can curse them too and if he will drink I can get him a bowl for brandy and after a while [p. 50] take him by the arm and get him one Side in the brush when I will into his guts in a minute and put him under the Sod. When an officer had disposed of a dissenter in this way he shall inform the presidency, and them only with whom it shall remain an inviolable Secret In July the law of consecration took effect which required every person to give up to the bishop all surplus property of every description, not necessary for their present support Sampson Avard the most busy actor and sharpest tool of [p. 51] the presidency informed John Corrill and My self that “all persons who attempted to deceive and return property that should be given up would meet with the fate of Ananias and Saphira who were Killed by Peter”” 

[44] See Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.484, July 13, 1840.

[45] Ezekiel 33:33

[46] Coray Notebook

[47] Mary Fielding to Mercy Rachel Fielding Thompson,  October 7, 1837, LDS Archives, Kenneth W. and Audrey M. Godfrey, Jill Mulvay Derr, Women’s Voices (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982), pp. 60-68.

[48] Howard and Martha Coray Notebook, July 19, 1840. Dean C. Jessee, gives the background here.

[49] See Note 65.

[50] Coray Notebook. On April 6, 1843 Smith gave a sermon and promised,

If I had not actually got into this work, & been called of God, I would back out. but I cannot back out. I have no doubt of the truth. were I going to prophecy I would prophecy the end will not come in 1844 or 5 or 6. or 40 years more there are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death til christ comes. I was once praying earnestly upon this subject. and a voice said unto me. My son, if thou livest til thou art 85 years of age, thou shalt see the face of the son of man.–I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this & I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live til that time Jesus he would make his appearance.–but I do not say whether he will make his appearance or I shall go where he is.-

I prophecy in the name of the Lord God.–& let it be written. that the Son of Man will not come in the heavens till I am 85 years old 48 years hence or about 1890.–the Read 14 Rev. 6 verse another angel fly in the midst of heaven; for the hour of his judgment is come. to extermination–from commencement. commence when angel commences preaching this gospel 1 day–1000 years. 1000 years as 1 day.–41 yrs 8 months.– only 6 years from the voice, saying. if thou live till thou art 85. years old. Hosea 6th chapter after 2 days &c 2520 years which bring it to 1890.–the Son of man never will be, never can be till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out, which judments are commenced. (Smith diary)

[51] ibid.

[52] ibid.

[53] Thomas Burdick, letter, (Kirtland, OH), to JS, Nauvoo, IL, 28 Aug. 1840; handwriting of Howard Coray; in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 174–176; JS Collection, CHL.

[54] ibid, page 174-75. See note 65 for more on the Ten Tribes.

[55] History of the Church, Vol. 4, p.410.

[56] D&C 29:7-11

[57] D&C 57:1. The introduction to Section 97 Reads, “Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, 2 August 1833 (see History of the Church, 1:400–402). This revelation deals particularly with the affairs of the Saints in Zion, Jackson County, Missouri, in response to the Prophet’s inquiry of the Lord for information.” Smith at that time wrote,

“Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that a house (temple) should be built unto me in the land of Zion, like unto the pattern which I have given you. Yea, let it be built speedily, by the tithing of my people…And now, behold, if Zion do these things she shall prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible, and the nations of the earth shall honor her, and shall say: Surely Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there; and he hath sworn by the power of his might to be her salvation and her high tower” (Verses 10-11, 18-20).

Smith though, was in Kirtland Ohio when he wrote this, and had no idea that just ten days previous to making an “inquiry of the Lord for information”, that the “saints” had agreed to leave Jackson County Missouri. Certainly God must have known this, but he obviously didn’t relate it to Smith. In the History of the Church, they record the incident this way,

“Early in the morning of the 23rd of July, the mob again as­sembled, armed with weapons of war and bearing a red flag; whereupon the Elders, led by the Spirit of God, and in order to save time, and stop the effusion of blood, entered into a treaty with the mob, to leave the county within a certain time” (History of the Church, vol. I, p. 394).

[58] The Absurdities Mormonism Displayed, by Oliver Olney, 1843, pg. 4.

[59] Marvin S. Hill, Quest For Refuge, page 120.

[60] George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, p.153-4, emphasis mine.

[61] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, February 21, 1844

[62] History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 244

[63] An Intimate Chronicle, p.158-9, emphasis mine.

[64] Wilford Woodruff gives a succinct account of “Deseret” and what they wished to accomplish in doing so, in his Journal entry of October 13, 1849:

“I wrote two letters to day one to Allexander Badlam at San Francisco & one to Orson Pratt of Liverpool. I sent A Copy of the New York Herraid Weekly of Oct 13 to Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, Allexander Badlam, & Joseph Russell. This Paper Contained An account of the Saints organizing themselves into An Independent Sovreign State called the state of Deseret And appointing their Govornor & other officers. Brigham Young was Elected Governor. This is certainly an important erie in the History of the Church & kingdom of God.

There has been more written in the New York Herrald, Tribune, Sun, Boston papers & many papers in the United States in favor of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints than has been written before for many years. The Editors of papers begin to see that the saints will prosper, rise up & build Zion, nowithstanding all there Efforts to crush us & destroy us from off the Earth, when they now find us organized into a State Government holding in our hands the Key of the North American Continant And that we will not die but live & rise up in the midst of all our oppressions they begin to speak in our favor & the world marvel at our prosperity. And One remarkable fact is that thousands of men who had A hand expelling us from the United States & drove us into the wilderness have this season while on there way to the gold digings have had to come bending unto the saints & have had to look to them to save them from starvation & death” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 3, p. 490, emphasis mine.)

[65] “…We know the Gospel has to be offered to the Gentiles first, we have offered it to them for the space of twenty five years, that we may be prepared to go to the house of Israel,” announced Wilford Woodruff in a Conference address in 1857,

“The Gentiles in a great measure, have rejected it; we have borne a faithful testimony to the nations of the earth, and they prefer to take their own course, and act on their own agency; they would rather build themselves up than the kingdom of God. The consequence is, it will soon be taken from the Gentile nations, and it will not be long before the judgments of God are abroad among them, and those bitter branches will be taken off the tree.

Now there is no personage, or subject, or work upon the face of the whole earth, but what is more popular than the Lord, and His Gospel, and kingdom; His name is dishonored and blasphemed, with impunity by nearly all the inhabitants of the earth and in the midst of every nation under heaven, but the day is nigh at hand when He will make bare His arm of power, and show the world that there is a God in Israel, who will no longer bear the blasphemies of the wicked without bringing them to judgment, but He will send forth those angels, those messengers who dwell in the presence of God, who are waiting with their sharp sickles in their hands to reap down the earth; but this will not be until the Gospel has been fully offered to the Gentiles; then the bitter branches will be broken off.

This kingdom will go forward, for the Lord God has decreed it, and Zion will arise and be adorned with beauty and power, and true refinement, in light and knowledge, and in every good gift that will prepare the minds of men for the Society of their Heavenly Father and of celestial beings. These lessons have got to be given, and we have got to learn them, and we have got to bring ourselves to the celestial law of God; we have to be quickened by the Spirit and power of the kingdom of God and its righteousness, that we may be prepared to carry out the purposes of the Lord; then this kingdom will be borne to the house of Israel, and they will receive it.

The door has already been unlocked to the Lamanites in these mountains, and they will begin to embrace the Gospel and the records of their fathers, and their chiefs will be filled with the Spirit and power of God, and they will rise up in their strength, and a nation will be born in a day, because they are of the seed of Abraham, and God has promised to bless the descendants of Abraham, and they will be saved with the house of Israel, for the Lord has spoken it, and made those promises unto them through their fathers.

Again, here are the ten tribes of Israel, we know nothing about them only what the Lord has said by His Prophets. There are Prophets among them, and by and by they will come along, and they will smite the rocks, and the mountains of ice will flow down at their presence, and a high way will be cast up before them, and they will come to Zion, receive their endowments, and be crowned under the hands of the children of Ephraim, and there are persons before me in this assembly today, who will assist to give them their endowments. They will receive their blessings and endowments, from under the children of Ephraim, who are the firstfruits of the kingdom of God in this dispensation, and the men will have to be ordained and receive their Priesthood and endowments in the land of Zion, according to the revelations of God.”(Journal of Discourses, 4:231-32)

Woodruff also noted that “President Young said he herd Joseph Smith say that the Ten Tribes of Israel were on a Portion of Land separated from this Earth.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p.363, September 8, 1867).

Orson Hyde declared that the gospel had been preached to the world, and that the “saints” were being gathered to Utah, to escape it:

“These missionaries and labourers are now called home. The Lord says, ‘It is enough.’ ‘Come out of her, my people,’ is now the voice of God to his servants in every land and nation. The vials of his wrath cannot be poured out until you, like Lot, flee from the countries doomed to feel the vengeance of God. To you, my faithful brethren abroad, the Spirit of Christ has often whispered, during the last six months, ‘Go home—go home.’ Your guardian angels have said it to you in dreams and in visions, and we expect to see you come. Scores have already arrived. God bless them and you too, if you listen to the whisperings of that voice that speaks truth to the heart.

“What now remains to be done? Your testimony is borne—your words have gone into all the earth. Read in the Book of Covenants, page 102, and you will find the answer in part—‘After your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people; for after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her; and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand. And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds; and all things shall be in commotion; and surely men’s hearts shall fail them, for fear shall come upon all. people,’&c.

“Again, the sign gives in the Book of Mormon, showing when the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled and they abandoned to the judgments and wrath of Almighty God, and showing also when the covenants of the Father with the house of Israel shall be fulfilled, is this important declaration—‘I will take the fulness of my Gospel from among the Gentiles,’&c. It might be considered treason to quote further. With our Elders and missionaries comes the fulness of the Gospel from among the Gentiles, who, like the leaky ship, are abandoned to the mercy of the winds and the waves.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.16)

Why does Orson Hyde speak of treason? Because they believed that the United States was to be broken up and Brigham Young would be installed as President (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 5, p.219). In 1857, Wilford Woodruff records Brigham Young saying about then President Buchanan, “I should not wonder if we heard he was dead soon” (Wilford Woodruff Journal,Vol. 5, p. 72).

By the end of 1857, Brigham Young and the Mormons could “foresee” only the sure and swift destruction of the United States. In an address to the Legislative Council Young declares,

“When Our Fathers set in solumn Convention upon the subject of our Declaration of Independance they knew well that their Cause was just. Yet it required the strongest talent and argumet and language was exherted to bring that august body of senators to agree as a unit in putting their names to that Sacred instrumet. The speech of Sir Patrick Henry was a masterly Effort of talent & oritory upon that solumn occasion.

It does not require any argumet with this body of men to Convince them what Course to persue. What Causes this difference? They were inspired by the Lord to step forth to esstablish an Independant Government in America, but this body of Men [the Mormons] are far more inspired by the same God to esstablish the Kingdom of God upon the Earth and lay a foundation for the Liberty and salvation of our Children and to lift up a Standard for the oppressed of all nations. Our path is marked out as plain to our view as is our broad street or the missippi River to the natural Eye.

The Same God who inspired our Fathers to Esstablish a Free government said through the prophet Joseph Smith that if ever the Constitution of the United States or its principles were ever preserved it would have to be done by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints even the servants of God Holding the Holy priesthood. That day has now Come & the day is dawning when we are Called to act. The Same God who has destroyed two Nations who have dwelt upon this Continent because of their iniquity, has also said that all other Nations who should occupy this Continent when they were ripened in iniquity should in like manner be Cut off from the earth and not left to pollute the Land of Joseph or the Land of Zion. I do not know what Els our Nation can do in order to fill up their Cup of iniquity than what they have done and are doing. I do not know of any other key [p.142] the United States Can turn to seal fast their Condemnation than the Exertions which they are makeing to destroy the Saints of God for their religion. I am in For the measure because it is right.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, p. 141-142, emphasis mine).

Wilford Woodruff referred to himself as a “Prophetic Historian”(Journal, Vol. 5:615), and at the end of 1857 declares,

“Eighteen hundred and fifty Seven has past and gone to return no more forever. It has borne its report to heaven of all men and Nations. It has been an important year to Zion and the world. 1857 will be the year on histories page which will be dated the Commencement of the downfall of the United States For it is during this year that they have entered the field as the open Enemies & persecuters of the saints of the Most High god and have sent an Armey of 2,500 men 1,000 miles for the purpose of laying a foundation for the destruction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints called Mormons who have setled in the great Bason of North America Called Utah Territory of the State of Deserett. Here is esstablished the kingdom of God as Daniel saw it by vision, and the people of the United States are Determined to destroy the kingdom of God from off the Earth. For these things the Judgments of God will now begin to rest more fully upon that Nation and will be increased upon them year by year untill they are broaken up and wasted away from under Heaven and Cease to become a Nation. And this Calamity will begin to Come spedily [speedily] upon them. And they will be visited with thunder, lightning, storm, whirl winds Earthquakes floods, pestilence plagues, war and Devouring fire and the wicked will slay the wicked untill the Nation is wasted away and broaken up.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, p. 145, emphasis mine).

Such were the sentiments of Mormon “prophets” about the Nation of America. In his first entry for 1858 Woodruff writes “that they know not the thoughts of the Lord neither understand they his ways” and pens this prophecy,

“…Prepare yourself O Land of America for the judgments of the God of Heaven await you and are nigh even at your doors. For the Lord hath looked down from his Holy habitation and hath beheld all your wickedness and abomination and all the Evil designs of your hearts and all your secrets plans for the destruction of the Saints of the Most High. For all these things God will bring you into Judgment and He will require the stewardship at the Hands of the President of the United States and at the Hands of the Senators, and Representatives, and Govornors, and Judges, and all the Rulers of the Land will all be held responsible for the use they make of the liberties & blessings put into their hands and the whole people of the Land who Elect the officers of Government will be held responsible for the conduct of those officers as well as their own Conduct in their dealings with the Church and kingdom of God upon the Earth.Let us watch the signs of the times of 1858 and we shall find that the Lord will soon Come out of his hiding place and in his fury he will vex the Nation and in his hot displeasure he will begin to Cut off the wicked and unjust stewards and appoint them their portion with hypocrites and unbelievers. Let the Saints of God prepare for that which is to come”. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, p. 151, January 1, 1858, emphasis mine).

[66] Remarks delivered on February 14, 1835, Kirtland Council Minute Book, LDS Archives.

[67] Parley P. Pratt, Mormonism Unveiled, pages 14-16.

[68] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, July 28, 1847.

[69] Establishing Zion, by Eugene E. Campbell, page 42.

[70] ibid.

[71] An example of this is Smith’s comments about the Kirtland Safety Society and the city of Kirtland, Ohio:

“I also herd President Joseph Smith jr. declare in the presence of F Williams, D. Whitmer, S. Smith, W. Parrish, & others in the Deposit Office that he had receieved that morning the Word of the Lord upon the Subject of the Kirtland Safety Society. He was alone in a room by himself & he had not ownly the voice of the Spirit upon the Subject but even an audable voice. He did not tell us at that time what the LORD said upon the subject but remarked that if we would give heed to the Commandments the Lord had given this morning all would be well. May the Lord bless Brother Joseph with all the Saints & support the above named institution & Protect it so that every weapen formed against it may be broaken & come to nought while the Kirtland Safety Society shall become the greatest of all institutions on EARTH.”(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.120, January 6, 1837)

“But by January 23, the Safety Society stopped redeeming its notes for specie, or hard-money. During its brief operation,

“Brigham [Young] was reported to have deposited marked script in the bank and was shocked several days later to receive one of his marked notes as part of a commercial transaction. He apparently thought that banks simply stored deposits and that because [his] notes were circulating, something dishonest was going on in the bank.” (Chartering the Kirtland Bank, by Dale W. Adams, BYU Studies, Vol. 23, No. 4, 1983).

There obviously was, and regardless of who was to blame, bad judgement on Smith’s part, led to the Kirtland Safety Society’s demise:

“The founders of the bank must have known they were skating on very thin legal ice when they began to issue script without either a state bank charter or at least a corporate charter that might be loosely interpreted as authorizing circulation of company debt notes.” (ibid, page 477)

By April, Smith was still hoping for an positive outcome, according to Woodruff, and made this boast,

“President Hiram Smith followed Joseph with many useful remarks. He also was Clothed with much of the spirit of God. Joseph desired us to give heed to his words & teaching this once & be wise that Zion & her stakes might spedily be redeemed. He instructed us to be sure & ask those that enter the Kingdom to send up their wise men to Kirtland with there money to counsel with the presidency & purchase an interitance before they move their families or bring the poor to the places of gathering for to suffer. Also that we must keep in view the institution of the Kirtland Safety Society & if the Elders of Israel would be faithful & do what was in their power this once Kirtland should spedily be redeemed & become a strong hold not be thrown down.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.134, April 6, 1837)

But just three days later, Smith was obviously angered by the “saints” lack of faith in his bad decision. But this only strengthened Woodruff’s belief in Smith’s prophetic abilities,

“Sidney Closed and Joseph arose & like the lion of the tribe of JUDAH he poured out his Soul in the midst of the Congregation of the Saints. But who can find languague to write his words & teachings as with an iron pen in a rock that they may stand for future generation to look upon? A fountain of knowledge rolled from his mouth to the people which was the word of God. Yea in the name of God he proclaimed that Severe Judgment awaited those Characters that professed to be his friends & friends to humanity & the Kirtland Safety Society But had turned tritors & opposed the Currency & its friends which has given power into the hands of the enemy & oppressed the poor Saints. Such have become Covenant Breakers for which they will feel the wrath of God as true as Joseph is a prophet.

“Joseph uttered the feelings of his Soul in pain while viewing the poverty & afflictions of Ephraim or the Saints in Kirtland at least that fals brethren should be whited walls & bring perrils upon the Saints. Joseph is as a father to Ephraim & to all Israel in these last days. He mourns because of unbelief & the negligence manifest with many who have receieved the gospel in obeying the commands of God. He fears lest but few be left to receieve an  inheritance. There is not a greater man than Joseph [p.139] standing in this generation. The gentiles look upon him & he is to them like bed of Gold conceled from human view. They know not his principle, his spirit, his wisdom, virtue, phylanthropy, nor his calling. His mind like Enochs swells wide as eternity. Nothing short of a God can comprehend his Soul.”(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.138 April 9, 1837)

Another interesting “prophecy” by Smith, but unrelated to Kirtland, had to do with the Relief Society and Nauvoo. Again, if Smith had seen the demise of Nauvoo in August 1842, why did he ‘prophecy’ this just a few months before that?

“I now deliver it as a prophecy that before ten years shall roll round, the queens of the earth shall come and pay their respects to this Society – they shall come with their millions and shall contribute of their abundance for the relief of the poor – If you will be pure, nothing can hinder it.” (A Record of the Organization, and Proceedings of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Illinois, 1842-44, April 28, 1842)

For more folklore about Mormon Prophets and the Salt Lake Valley, see: Post Mortal Appearances of Joseph Smith, by Sharon Lindbloom.

Brigham Young’s “vision” of Ensign Peak has been claimed to have been a “secret” that Young didn’t let on about (one of those scenarios that F.A.I.R. mentions). In his excellent article, A Banner is Unfurled, by Ronald W. Walker, he explains,

“As the pioneer party traveled into the Great Plains, led by Young and the other main leaders, members were anxious about where they were going. Where was the gospel flag to be lifted? While leaders had bandied about such places as Oregon, California, Texas, and Vancouver Island, by 1846 they had fixed their eyes on the Great Basin interior, most specifically the Bear River, Salt Lake, or Utah Lake valleys. Each of these valleys answered the requirements of Young’s earlier statements about settling in the West’s “beautiful” but “barren” hills or his still more revealing passage of placing the gospel flag above a “perfect Sea of water.” But during the final stage of the trip, Young had still not named the precise place. As he told his brother, Lorenzo, who was worried by Brigham’s poor health and his failure to declare a destination: “Brother Lorenzo, when we reach the end of our journey I shall know it; AND I DON’T KNOW IT.”

Several of the pioneers thought Young’s indecision lay with his inner or spiritual seeking. “Brigham Young did not tell us whither he was leading us,” said one. “Perhaps he did not know it himself. He confined himself to telling us that God, in a vision, had caused him to see the spot where we were to stop.” Churchman Erastus Snow, also along on the pioneer trip, gave the same report. “Said the Prophet Brigham [to the camp]–`I have seen it [the promised location], I have seen it, in vision, and when my natural eyes behold it, I shall know it.'”

Young was looking for Ensign Peak, or at least this is what Mormon believers would later claim. After visiting Utah in 1866 and interviewing Brigham Young, British author and critic William Hepworth Dixon said that this was the report he had heard from the prophet himself. “Brigham Young tells me,” he wrote, that when coming over the mountains, in search of a new home for his people, he saw in a vision of the night, an angel standing on a conical hill, pointing to a spot of ground on which the new Temple must be built. Coming down into this basin of Salt Lake, he first sought for the cone which he had seen in his dream; and when he had found it, he noticed a stream of fresh hill-water flowing at its base, which he called the City Creek.

If Young failed to record such a “vision of the night” in his own records, there is evidence of his spiritual groping about where to settle. By early July 1847, perhaps as the result of their interview with mountaineer Jim Bridger, Young and the Mormon leadership increasingly looked on the Salt Lake Valley as the place for their settlement. But Young wanted confirmation. His own diary tells of his first view of the valley from Big Mountain. Turning the carriage in which he was riding to see the vista to the west, he felt “the spirit of light” resting on him and hovering “over the valley.” “I felt that there the Saints would find protection and safety.” (Dialogue, Vol.26, No.4, p.78, Winter 1993, emphasis mine).

Though we have no contemporary evidence of a “vision”, or Smith or an angel appearing to Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff mentions Young’s “vision” of Ensign Peak on “Pioneer Day” in 1888, found in:  Brian Stuy, Collected DiscoursesVol. 1, p. 165. Also, George Albert Smith mentions it in 1927, found in: Conference Report, April 1927, p.86.

[72] B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.1, Ch.22, p. 303

[73] A Lecture Delivered by Elder Andrew Jenson before the Students’ Society, in the Social Hall, Salt Lake City, Friday Evening, January 16, 1891. Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol.2, p. 161.

[74] Conference Report, April 1916, p.66

[75] Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith.

[76] ibid.

[77] Faith in Every Footstep by Elder Russell M. Ballard, New Era, July 1997.

[78] http://shakenfaithsyndrome.com/press.pdf