The Question of Succession — Biography of Brigham Young — His Early Life — Conversion — Missionary Work — Made President of the Twelve — His Devotion to the Prophet — Sidney Rigdon and Brigham Young Rival Aspirants for the Presidency — Rigdon's Claims — Public Meetings — Brigham Elected President of the Church — His Character — Temple- Building — Fresh Disasters — the Affair at Morley — the Men of Quincy and the Men of Carthage — the Mormons Consent to Abandon Their City.
Upon the death of Joseph Smith, one of the questions claiming immediate attention was, Who shall be his successor? It was the first time the question had arisen in a manner to demand immediate solution, and the matter of succession was not so well determined then as now, it being at present well established that upon the death of the president of the church the apostle eldest in ordination and service takes his place.
Personal qualifications would have much to do with it; rules could be established later. The first consideration now was to keep the church from falling in pieces. None realized the situation better than Brigham Young, who soon made up his mind that he himself was the man for the emergency. Then to make it appear plain to the brethren that God would have him take Joseph's place, his mind thus works: "The first thing that I thought of," he says, "was whether Joseph had taken the keys of the kingdom with him
|p. 194||from the earth.
Brother Orson Pratt sat on my left; we were both leaning back on our
chairs. Bringing my hand down on my knee, I said, 'The keys of the kingdom
are right here with the church.'" But who held the keys of the
kingdom? This was the all-absorbing question that was being discussed at
Nauvoo when Brigham and the other members of the quorum arrived at that
city on the 6th of August, 1844.
Brigham Young was born at Whitingham, Windham county, Vermont, on the 1st of June, 1801. His father, John, a Massachusetts farmer, served as a private soldier in the revolutionary war, and his grandfather as surgeon in the French and Indian war.1 In 1804 his family, which included nine children,2 of whom he was then the youngest, removed to Sherburn, Chenango county, New York, where for a time hardship and poverty were their lot. Concerning Brigham's youth there is little worthy of record. Lack of means compelled him, almost without education, to earn his own livelihood, as did his brothers, finding employment as best they could. Thus, at the age of twenty-three, when he married he had learned how to work as farmer, carpenter, joiner, painter, and glazier, in the last of which occupations he was an expert craftsman.
In 1829 he removed to Mendon, Monroe county, where his father then resided; and here, for the first time, he saw the book of Mormon at the house of his brother Phineas, who had been a pastor in the reformed methodist church, but was now a convert to Mormonism.3
1Waite's The Mormon Prophet and his Harem. Linforth, Route from Liverpool, 112, note, states that his grandfather was an officer in the revolutionary war; this is not confirmed by Mrs Waite, who quotes from Brigham's autobiography. Again, Nabby Howe was the maiden name of Brigham's mother, as given in his autobiography; while Linforth reads Nancy Howe; and Remy, Jour. to G. S. L. City, i. 413, Naleby Howe.
2Born as follow: Nancy, Aug. 6, 1786, Fanny, Nov. 8, 1787, Rhoda, Sept. 10, 1789, John, May 22, 1791, Nabby, Apr. 23, 1793, Susannah, June 7, 1795, Joseph, Apr. 7, 1797, Phineas, Feb. 16, 1799, and Brigham, June 1, 1801. Two others were born later: Louisa, Sept. 25, 1804, and Lorenzo Dow, Oct. 19, 1807.
3In Ibid., it is mentioned that before the organization of the latter-day (cont.)
|p. 195|| About
two years later he himself was converted4
by the preaching of Elder Samuel H. Smith, brother of the prophet; on the
14th of April, 1832, he was baptized, and on the same night ordained an
elder, his father5 and all his
brothers afterward becoming proselytes. During the same month he set forth
to meet the prophet at Kirtland, where he found him and several of his
brethren chopping wood. "Here," says Brigham, "my joy was
full at the privilege of shaking the hand of the prophet of God…He was
happy to see us and bid us welcome. In the evening a few of the brethren
came in, and we conversed together upon the things of the kingdom. He
called upon me to pray. In my prayer I spoke in tongues. As soon as we
rose from our knees, the brethren flocked around him, and asked his
opinion…He told them it was the pure Adamic language;…it is of God,
and the time will come when Brother Brigham Young will preside over this
church." In 1835 he was chosen, as will be remembered, one of the
quorum of the twelve, and the following spring set forth on a missionary
tour to the eastern states. Returning early in the winter, he saved the
life of the prophet, and otherwise rendered good service during the great
apostasy of 1836, when the church passed through its darkest hour.6
Brigham was ever a devoted follower of the prophet, and at the risk of his own life, shielded him against the persecutions of apostates. At the close of 1837 he was driven by their machinations from Kirtland,7
(3cont.) church, Phineas had wrought a miracle, 'whereby a young girl on the point of death had been restored to life.' Remy does not give his authority.
4At a branch of the church at Columbia, Penn. Tullidge's Life of Young, 78.
5John Young was made first patriarch of the church. He died at Quincy, Ill., Oct. 12, 1839. Waite's The Mormon Prophet, 2.
6Tullidge's Life of Brigham Young, 83. In a speech delivered after he became president, Brigham says: 'Ascertaining that a plot was laid to waylay Joseph for the purpose of taking his life, on his return from Monroe, Michigan, to Kirtland, I procured a horse and buggy, and took brother William Smith along to meet Joseph, whom we met returning in the stage-coach. Joseph requested William to take his seat in the stage, and he rode with me in the buggy. We arrived at Kirtland in safety.'
7'On the morning of Dec. 22d I left Kirtland in consequence of the fury (cont.)
|p. 196||and took refuge at
Dublin, Indiana, where he was soon afterward joined by Joseph Smith and
Sidney Rigdon. Thence, in company with the former, he went to Missouri,
arriving at Far West a short time before the massacre at Haun's Mill. Once
more Brigham was compelled to flee for his life, and now betook himself to
Quincy, where he raised means to aid the destitute brethren in leaving
Missouri,8 and directed the first
settlement of the saints in Illinois, the prophet Joseph, Parley P. Pratt,
and others being then in prison.
By revelation of July 8, 1838,9 it was ordered that eleven of the quorum should "depart to go over the great waters, and there promulgate my gospel, the fulness thereof, and bear record of my name. Let them take leave of my saints in the city Far West, on the 26th day of April next; on the building spot of my house, saith the Lord." As the twelve had been banished from Missouri and could not return with safety, many of the church dignitaries urged that the latter part of this revelation should not be fulfilled. "But," says Brigham, "I felt differently, and so did those of the quorum who were with me." The affairs of the church were now in the hands of the twelve, and their president was not the man to shrink from danger. "The Lord had spoken, and it was their duty to obey."
The quorum started forth, and reaching Far West toward the end of April, hid themselves in a grove. Between midnight of the 25th and dawn of the 26th
(7cont.) of the mob, and the spirit that prevailed in the apostates, who threatened to destroy me because I would proclaim publicly and privately that I knew, by the power of the holy ghost, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the most high God, and had not transgressed and fallen, as apostates declared.' Id., 84.
8I held a meeting with the brethren of the twelve and the members of the church in Quincy, on the 17th of March, when a letter was read to the people from the committee, on behalf of the saints at Far West, who were left destitute of the means to move. Though the brethren were poor and stripped of almost everything, yet they manifested a spirit of willingness to do their utmost, offering to sell their hate, coats, and shoes to accomplish the object. At the close of the meeting $50 was collected in money and several teams were subscribed to go and bring the brethren.' Id., 89-90.
9This is the date given in Doctrine and Covenants, 381 (ed. S. L. City, 1876). See also Linfcrth's Route from Liverpool, 112, note. Tullidge gives July 8, 1836. Life of Brigham Young, 90.
|p. 197||they held a
conference, relaid the foundation of the house of the Lord,10
and ordained Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith as apostles in place of
those who had fallen from grace. "Thus," says Brigham, "was
this revelation fulfilled, concerning which our enemies said, if all the
other revelations of Joseph Smith came to pass, that one should not be
Upon the excommunication of Thomas B. Marsh, in 1839, the office of president of the twelve devolved by right on Brigham by reason of his seniority of membership. On the 14th of April, 1840, he was publicly accepted by the council as their head, and at the reorganization of the church councils at Nauvoo he was appointed by revelation on the 19th of January, 1843, president of the twelve travelling council.
After the founding of Nauvoo, the president, together with three others of the quorum,11 sailed for Liverpool, where they arrived on the 6th of April, 1840, the tenth anniversary of the organization of the church. Here he was engaged for about a year in missionary work, of which more hereafter. Taking ship for New York on the 20th of April, 1841, he reached Nauvoo on the 1st of July, and was warmly welcomed by the prophet, who a few days afterward12 received the following revelation: "Dear and well-beloved brother Brigham Young, verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Brigham, it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me; I have seen your labor and toil in journeyings for my name. I therefore command you to send my word abroad, and take special care of your family from this time henceforth and forever. Amen."
Already the mantle of the prophet was falling upon the president of the twelve; already the former had
10'Elder Cutler, the master workman of the house, recommenced laying the foundation by rolling up a large stone near the south-east corner. Id., 92.
11Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, and Parley P. Pratt. Reuben Hedlock also accompanied them.
12On July 9th. Doctrine and Covenants, 409.
|p. 198||foretold his own
death; but notwithstanding the revelation, Brigham was sent as a
missionary to the eastern states, and at Peterborough, New Hampshire,
received news of the tragedy at Carthage jail.
When Governor Ford and his militia were preparing to march on Nauvoo for the purpose of forestalling civil war, the only course open to the prophet and his followers was a removal from Illinois. In 1842 an expedition had been planned to explore the country toward or beyond the Rocky Mountains; but when Joseph Smith put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency of the United States, all other matters were for the time forgotten. Brigham claimed that had he been present the assassination would never have occurred; he would not have permitted the prophet's departure for Carthage: rather would he have sent him to the mountains under a guard of elders. But Brigham had no reason to complain of the dispensation of providence which was now to bring his clear, strong judgment and resolute will to the front.
Prominent among the aspirants for the presidency of the church was Sidney Rigdon, one of the first and ablest to espouse the cause, and not altogether without grounds for his pretensions. He had performed much labor, had encountered many trials, and had received scanty honors, being at present nothing more than preacher, and professor of history, belles-lettres, and oratory. By revelation of January 19, 1841, he had been offered the position of counsellor to the prophet,13
13Doctrine and Covenants, 406. In this same revelation the officers of the priesthood were likewise named: Hyrum Smith, patriarch; Joseph Smith, presiding elder over the whole church, also translator, revelator, seer, and prophet, with Sidney Rigdon and William Law as councillors, the three to constitute a quorum and first presidency. Brigham Young, president over the twelve travelling council, who were Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, William Smith, John Taylor, John E. Page, Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, George A. Smith, and some one to be appointed in place of David Patten; a high council, Samuel Bent, H. G. Sherwood, George W. Harris, Charles C. Rich, Thomas Grover, Newel Knight, David Dort, Dunbar Wilson, Aaron Johnson, David Fulmer, Alpheus Cutler, William (cont.)
|p. 199||if he would consent
to humble himself. But Sidney would not humble himself. Soon after
Joseph's death, at which he was not present, he had a revelation of his
own, bidding him conduct the saints to pittsburgh.14
Visiting that city, he found the time not yet ripe for this measure; and
meanwhile returning to Nauvoo, the 3d of August, he offered himself on the
following day as a candidate for the presidency, aided by Elder Marks.
Sidney now put forth all his strength to gain influence and secure retainers. He must have Joseph's mantle; he must have the succession, or henceforth he would be nothing. It was a momentous question, not to be disposed of in a day. To substantiate his claim, Sidney could now have visions with the best of them; on various occasions he told how the Lord had through him counselled the people to appoint him as their guardian. He requested that a meeting should be held on the following sabbath, the 8th of August, for the further consideration of the matter. But prior to this meeting Parley Pratt and two others of the twelve bade the candidate go with them to the house of John Taylor, who yet lay prostrate with his wounds. Taylor expostulated with him, but to no purpose. Sidney continued to press his claims, even assuming the sacred office, prophesying and ordaining. On the sabbath named, according to appointment, Sidney and his supporters met in the grove near the temple; but were confronted by the apostles, with Brigham at their head. Standing before them, Sidney addressed the
(13cont.) Huntington; president over a quorum of high priests, Don Carlos Smith, with Amasa Lyman and Noah Packard for counsellors; a priesthood to preside over the quorum of elders, John A. Hicks, Samuel Williams, and Jesse Baker; to preside over the quorum of seventies, Joseph Young, Josiah Butterfield, Daniel Miles, Henry Herriman, Zera Pulsipher, Levi Hancock, James Foster—this for elders constantly travelling, while the quorum of elders was to preside over the churches from time to time; to preside over the bishopric, Vinson Knight, Samuel H. Smith, and Shadrach Roundy, and others.
14See his memorial to the Pennsylvania legislature, in Times and Seasons, v. 418-23. Remy says that he was also instructed to pay a visit; to Queen Victoria, and overthrow her if she refused to accept the gospel Jour. to G. S. L. City, i. 411; a statement for which I find no authority.
|p. 200||brethren for nearly
two hours. Yet he seemed to make no impression. "The Lord has not
chosen him," said one to another. The assembly then adjourned to two
o'clock, when the saints in and about Nauvoo gathered in great numbers.
After singing and prayer, through the vast assemblage was heard a voice,
strikingly clear, distinct, and penetrating.15
It was the voice of Brigham, who said: "Attention, all! For the first
time in my life I am called to act as chief of the twelve; for the first
time in your lives you are called to walk by faith, your prophet being no
longer present in the flesh. I desire that every one present shall
exercise the fullest liberty. I now ask you, and each of you, if you want
to choose a guardian, a prophet, evangelist, or something else as your
head to lead you. All who wish to draw away from the church, let them do
it, but they will not prosper. If any want Sidney Rigdon to lead them, let
them have him; but I say unto you that the keys of the kingdom are with
It was then put to vote, Brigham meanwhile saying, "All those who are for Joseph and Hyrum, the book of Mormon, book of Doctrine and Covenants, the temple, and Joseph's measures, they being one party, will be called upon to manifest their principles boldly, the opposite party to enjoy the same liberty."17 The result was ten votes for Sidney, the quorum with Brigham at their head getting all the rest. Elder Philips then motioned that all "who have voted for Sidney Rigdon be suspended until they can have a trial before the high council."18
The truth is, Sidney was no match for Brigham. It was a battle of the lion and the lamb; only Brigham
15'He [Brigham] said, as he stood on the stand, he would rather sit in sackcloth and ashes for a month than appear before the people, but he pitied their loneliness, and was constrained to step forward, and we know he was, because he had the voice and manner of Joseph, as hundreds can testify.' Reminiscences of Mrs F. D. Richards, MS., p. 14.
16Woodruff's Journal, MS., Aug. 8, 1844.
17Hist. Brigham Young, 1844, MS., 25.
18Wifford Woodruff states that Rigdon did not receive a single vote. Reminiscences, MS., 2.
did not know before that he was a lion, while Sidney received the truth with reluctance that he was indeed a lamb. Something more than oratory was necessary to win in this instance; and of that something, with great joy in his heart, Brigham found himself in possession. It was the combination of qualities which we find present primarily in all great men, in all leaders of men—intellectual force, mental superiority, united with personal magnetism, and physique enough to give weight to will and opinion; for Brigham Young was assuredly a great man, if by greatness we mean one who is superior to others in strength and skill, moral, intellectual, or physical. The secret of this man's power—a power that within a few years made itself felt throughout the world—was this: he was a sincere man, or if an impostor, he was one who first imposed upon himself. He was not a hypocrite; knave, in the ordinary sense of the term, he was not; though he has been a thousand times called both. If he was a bad man, he was still a great man, and the evil that he did was done with honest purpose. He possessed great administrative ability; he was far-seeing, with a keen insight into human nature, and a thorough knowledge of the good and evil qualities of men, of their virtues and frailties. His superiority was native to him, and he was daily and hourly growing more powerful, developing a strength which surprised himself, and gaining constantly more and more confidence in himself, gaining constantly more and more the respect, fear, and obedience of those about him, until he was able to consign Sidney to the buffetings of Satan for a thousand years, while Brigham remained president and supreme ruler of the church.19
19Sidney had a trial, and was convicted and condemned. Sidney Rigdon was a native of Saint Clair, Penn., where he was born in 1793. Until his 26th year he worked on his father's farm, but in 1819 received a license to preach, from the society known as the regular baptists, being appointed in 1822 to the charge of the first baptist church in Pittsburgh, where he became very popular. In 1824 he resigned his position, from conscientious motives, and joined the Campbellites, supporting himself by working as a journeyman tanner. Two years later he accepted a call as a Campbellite preacher at Bainbridge, O., (cont.)
|p. 202|| Thus
Brigham Young succeeded Joseph Smith. The work of the latter was done. It
was a singular work, to which he was singularly adapted; the work yet to
be done is no less remarkable, and a no less remarkable agent is raised up
at the right moment. Matters assume now a more material turn, and a more
material nature is required to master them—if coarser-grained, more
practical, rougher, more dogmatical, dealing less in revelations from
heaven and more in self-protection and self-advancement here on earth, so
much the better for the saints. "Strike, but hear me!" Joseph
with Themistocles used to cry; "I will strike, and you shall hear
me," Brigham would say.
No wonder the American Israel received Brigham as the gift of God, the Lion of the Lord,20 though the explanation of the new ruler himself would have been nearer that of the modern evolutionist, who would account for Brigham's success as the survival of the fittest. It was fortunate for the saints at this juncture that their leader should be less prophet than priest and king, less idealist than business manager, political economist, and philosopher. Brigham holds communion with spiritual powers but distantly, perhaps distrustfully; at all events, he commands the spirits rather than let them command him; and the older he grows the less he has to do with them; and the less he has to do with heavenly affairs, the more his mind dwells on earthly matters. His prophecies are eminently practical; his people must have piety that will pay. And later, and all through his life, his position is a strange one. If the people about Nauvoo are troublesome, God orders him west; and then he tells
(19cont.) and afterward built up churches at Mantua and Mentor in that state. In 1830 he joined the Mormon church, being converted by the preaching of Parley. Further particulars will be found in Times and Seasons, iv. 177-8, 193-4, 209-10; Cobb's Mormon Problem, MS., 12; Tucker's Mormonism, 123-7; Pittsburgh Gaz., in S. F. Bulletin, Aug. 4, 1876. Returning to Pittsburgh after his excommunication, Sidney led a life of utter obscurity, and finally died at Friendship, Allegheny County, N. Y., July 14, 1876. Lippincott's Mag., Aug. 1880.
20See note 41, p. 192, this vol.
|p. 203||him if roads are
opened and canals constructed it will please him. From these practical
visions come actions, and on a Sunday the great high-priest rises in the
tabernacle and says: "God has spoken. He has said unto his prophet,
'Get thee up, Brigham, and build me a city in the fertile valley to the
south, where there is water, where there are fish, where the sun is strong
enough to ripen the cotton plants, and give raiment as well as food to my
saints on earth. Brethren willing to aid God's work should come to me
before the bishop's meeting.'" "As the prophet takes his seat
again," says an eye-witness, "and puts on his broad-brimmed hat,
a hum of applause runs around the bowery, and teams and barrows are freely
To whatsoever Brigham applied himself he directed his whole strength, provided his whole strength was necessary to the accomplishment of his purpose. There were others in the field against him, aspirants for the late prophet's place, besides Sidney; but directing his efforts only against the most powerful of them, the president of the twelve summoned the quorum and the people, as we have seen, crushed Rigdon and his adherents by one of the master-strokes which he was now learning, declared the revelations of Rigdon to be of the devil, cut him off, cursed him, and was himself elected almost without a dissenting voice, giving all ostensibly the fullest liberty to act, yet permitting none of them to do so, and even causing ten to be tried for dissenting. Henceforth none dared to gainsay his authority; he became not only the leader of the Mormons, but their dictator; holding authority for a time as president of the twelve apostles, and finally in the capacity of the first presidency, being made president of the whole church in December 1847.
Brigham Young was now in his forty-third year, in the prime of a hale and vigorous manhood, with exuberant vitality, with marvelous energy, and with unswerving faith in his cause and in himself. In stature
|p. 204||he was a little
above medium height; in frame well-knit and compact, though in later years
rotund and portly; in carriage somewhat stately; presence imposing, even
at that time, and later much more so; face clean shaven now, but afterward
lengthened by full beard except about the mouth; features all good,
regular, well formed, sharp, and smiling, and wearing an expression of
self-sufficiency, bordering on the supercilious, which later in life
changed to a look of subdued sagacity which he could not conceal;
deep-set, gray eyes, cold, stern, and of uncertain expression, lips thin
and compressed, and a forehead broad and massive—his appearance was that
of a self-reliant and strong-willed man, of one born to be master of
himself and many others. In manner and address he was easy and void of
affectation, deliberate in speech, conveying his original and suggestive
ideas in apt though homely phrase.21
When in council he was cool and imperturbable, slow to decide, and in no
haste to act; but when the time for action came he worked with an energy
that was satisfied only with success.
Like his predecessor, he was under all circumstances naturally a brave man, possessing great physical strength, and with nerves unshaken by much excess or sickness. That he was given to strong drink has often been asserted by his enemies, but never by his friends, and rarely by impartial observers. He was always in full possession of himself, being far too wise a man to destroy himself through any indiscretion.
He was undoubtedly the man for the occasion, however, for no other could, at this juncture, save the Mormons from dissolution as a sect and as a people. If the saints had selected as their leader a man less resolute, less confident, less devoted to his cause and to his people, a man like Sidney Rigdon,
21Bowles, Across the Continent, 86, says that even at 64 he spoke ungrammatically. This criticism is a fair commentary on the difference between a Bowles and a Brigham.
|p. 205||for example,
Mormonism would have split into half a dozen petty factions, the strongest
of which would hardly be worthy of notice.
Discussing the great Mormon leaders, Hyde, who though an apostate was one of the most impartial of writers, says: "Brigham Young is far superior to Smith in everything that constitutes a great leader. Smith was not a man of genius; his forte was tact. He only embraced opportunities that presented themselves. He used circumstances, but did not create them. The compiling genius of Mormonism was Sidney Rigdon. Smith had boisterous impetuosity, but no foresight. Polygamy was not the result of his policy, but of his passions. Sidney gave point, direction, and apparent consistency to the Mormon system of theology. He invented its forms and many of its arguments. He and Parley Pratt were its leading orators and polemics. Had it not been for the accession of these two men, Smith would have been lost, and his schemes frustrated and abandoned. That Brigham was superior not only to Smith but also to Rigdon is evident."
Burton says: "His manner is at once affable and impressive, simple and courteous,…shows no sign of dogmatism,…impresses a stranger with a certain sense of power; his followers are, of course, wholly fascinated by his superior strength of brain." Temper even and placid, manner cold, but he is neither morose nor methodistic. Often reproves in violent language; powers of observation acute; has an excellent memory, and is a keen judge of character. "If he dislikes a stranger at the first interview, he never sees him again. Of his temperance and sobriety there is but one opinion. His life is ascetic; his favorite food is baked potatoes with a little buttermilk, and his drink water."22
22City of the Saints, 292—3,; Mormonism, 170. Hyde is by no means one of Brigham's flatterers, but appears to speak from conviction. On the same page he remarks: 'Brigham may be a great man, greatly deceived, but he (cont.)
|p. 206|| Further:
though he made his people obey him, he shared their privations. Soon we
shall find him rousing his followers from the lethargy of despair, when
their very hearts had died within them, and when all cheeks blanched but
his; speaking words of cheer to the men, and with his own sick child in
his arms, sharing his scant rations with women and children who held out
their hands for bread.
For a brief space after the election of Brigham the saints had rest. The city of Nauvoo continued to thrive;23 a portion of the temple was finished and dedicated,24 the building of the Nauvoo house and council-house was progressing rapidly.
Their buildings were erected with great sacrifice of time, and amidst difficulties and discouragement in consequence of poverty. Money was exceedingly scarce.25 The revelation requiring tithing, made in 1838, was first practically applied in Nauvoo; the tenth day was regularly given to work on the temple; the penny subscriptions of the sisters are mentioned, which was a weekly contribution, and was intended for the purchase of glass and nails. Every effort was made to encourage manufacture, and to utilize their water-power. At a meeting of the trades delegates
(22cont.) is not a hypocrite;' and on the next page: 'Brigham, however deceived, is still a bad man, and a dangerous man; and as much more dangerous, being sincere in thinking he is doing God's work, as a madman is than an impostor.' In Id., 136-40, we have a short and succinct narrative of Brigham's career up to the assassination of Joseph Smith, probably the best that has yet been written in such brief space.
23'Almost every stranger that enters our city is excited with astonishment that so much has been done in so short a time.' Likewise there was always work enough for them among the gentiles, who 'did not know how to make a short johnny-cake until our girls taught them.' Speech of Elder Kimball, April 8, 1845, in Id., vi. 973. Says John Taylor: 'When we first settled in Nauvoo,…farming lands out of the city were worth from $1.25 to $5 per acre; when we left they were worth from $5 to $50 per acre. We turned the desert into a city, and the wilderness into a fruitful field or fields and gardens.' Millennial Star, viii. 115. Bennett mentions a community farm near Nauvoo, which was cultivated in common by the poorer classes. History of the Saints, 191.
24It was dedicated May 1, 1846, by Wilford Woodruff and Orson Hyde. Two days later they held their last meeting there. Woodruff's Rem., MS., 3.
25'When corn was brought to my door at ten cents a bushel, and sadly needed, the money could not be raised.' Utah Notes, MS., p. 6.
|p. 207||there was
intelligent discussion as to the place becoming a great manufacturing
In January 1845 it was proposed that a building for the high-priests should be erected, to cost $15,000, and the work was cheerfully undertaken. There were frequent entertainments given in the way of dances and public dinners in the Nauvoo mansion and in the bowery six miles out of the city.27 At their conference in April, thousands gathered. The temple was pushed forward, as the people were counselled to receive their endowments there as early as possible. On the 24th of May the walls were finished, and the event was duly celebrated.28 On the 5th of October their first meeting in the temple was held.29 From mites and tithings it was estimated that a million dollars had been raised. Brigham, Parley, and others of the quorum administered in the temples to hundreds of people, the services often continuing all day and night.30 At the end of December one thousand of the people had received the ordinances. And all this was done midst renewed persecutions, and while the people were making preparations to evacuate the city.
The masons withdrew the dispensation previously granted to Nauvoo, and to this day they refuse to admit Mormons into their order.
26There was $500 or $600 already collected from the penny subscriptions, which was drawn by order of Brigham to meet a debt on land which must be immediately paid. Hist. B. Young MS., Dec. 5, 1844. John Taylor says it was intended to establish manufactures at Nauvoo on a large scale, for which the services of English emigrants were to be secured. At the head of the rapids, near Nauvoo, stood an island, to which it was proposed to build a dam, leaving spaces for water-wheels, and thus securing power for mills. Rem., MS., 19-20.
27In Hist. B. Young, MS., July 9, 1845, is a description of a public dinner for the benefit of the church, where Young, Kimball, Taylor, and others officiated at the table.
28At six o'clock in the morning the people assembled. The 'Capstone March,' composed for the occasion, was played by Pitt's band; Brigham laid on the last stone and pronounced the benediction, and the whole congregation shouted, Hosanna! hosanna to God and the lamb! amen, amen, and amen!' Hist, B. Young, MS., 83.
29The first stone was laid April 6, 1841.
30'I commenced administering the ordinances of endowment at five o'clock and continued until half-past three in the morning.' Id., MS., Dec. 10, 1845.
|p. 208|| Fresh
disaster now approached Nauvoo. The whigs and the democrats of Illinois
had both sought to secure the Mormon vote, until finally they began to
declare that Mormonism signified a government not in accord with that of
the United States. The city charter had been repealed in January 1845, and
Daniel Spencer, who had been elected to fill the remainder of the term of
the murdered mayor, was deposed, as were all the other city officers; a
new charter was before the legislature, but never granted. These and like
measures, followed as they were by the discharge of Joseph Smith's
assassins, imparted to the gentiles renewed courage. The crimes of the
whole country were laid at the door of the saints. Nauvoo was denounced as
a den of counterfeiters, cattle-thieves, and assassins,31
the leaders of the gang being men who in the name of religion outraged all
sense of decency. The smuts retaliated in kind; and shortly it came about
that in sections settled by Mormons gentiles feared to travel, and in
sections settled by gentiles Mormons feared to travel. In view of this
state of affairs, which was more like old-time feudalism than latter-day
republicanism, Governor Ford made an inspection of the city, and declared
that fewer thefts were committed in Nauvoo in proportion to population
than in any other town in the state. The cause of this, however, may have
lain in the fact that the population of Nauvoo was chiefly Mormon, and
whatever might be their depredations upon the gentiles, the saints were
not accustomed to steal from each other.
At a place called the Morley settlement, in Hancock county, in September 1845, the people held a meeting to devise means for the prevention of thievery. Though few definite charges were advanced, there was much said derogatory to Mormon honesty. Presently the discharge of a gun was heard, once or twice, perhaps more. It was said the shots were fired
31For specimens of the accusations brought against them, see Hall's Mormonism Exposed, 24-34.
|p. 209||by Mormons, and
that they took aim at the house in which the meeting was held. Soon the
cry went abroad that the Mormons were in arms, and there were quickly
volunteers at hand to help the men of Morley. A meeting was held, and it
was resolved to expel the saints. At the time appointed, armed bands
appeared and burned some twenty Mormon dwellings, driving the inmates into
the bushes.32 The people of
Illinois were evidently now determined to adopt the previous policy of the
men of Missouri. This was not all. Word had come that forces from Nauvoo
were moving to the aid of the Mormons at Morley, whereupon the gentiles
throughout all that region banded, threatening to burn and drive out the
saints until not one should remain. As a beginning, Buel's flouring mill
and carding machine, near Lima, the property of a Mormon, was reduced to
And now the men of Quincy, their old friends and benefactors, turned against them; and though not manifesting the deadly hate displayed in some quarters, were nevertheless resolved that the Mormons should depart from the stake. On the 22d the citizens met and agreed that further efforts to live in peace with the Mormons were useless.34
Indeed, the saints themselves had reached the
32Says the Quincy Whig: 'If the Mormons have been guilty of crime, why, punish them; but do not visit their sins on defenceless women and children. This is as bad as the savages.' Sheriff Backenstos thus testifies: 'It is proper to state that the Mormon community have acted with more than ordinary forbearance, remaining perfectly quiet, and offering no resistance when their dwellings, other buildings, stacks of grain, etc., were set on fire in their presence, and they have forborne until forbearance is no longer a virtue.' Fullmer's Expulsion, 19.
33'Mobs commenced driving out the Mormons in the lower part of Hancock co., and burning their houses and property…The burning was continued from settlement to settlement for ten or eleven days without any resistance whatever. The people at Nauvoo sent out wagons and teams to bring those people in whom the mob had driven out of their homes.' Wells' Narrative, MS., 35-6. 'The mob said they would drive all into Nauvoo, and all Nauvoo into the Mississippi.' Richards, Rem., MS., 16.
34'It is a settled thing that the public sentiment of the state is against the Mormons, and it will be in vain for them to contend against it; and to prevent bloodshed and the sacrifice of so many lives on both sides it is their duty to obey the public will, and leave the state as speedily as possible. That they will do this, we have a confident hope, and that, too, before the last extreme is resorted to, that of force.' Fullmer's Expulsion, 20.
|p. 210||same conclusion. It
was no new idea to them, seeking a home elsewhere. It was a rough element,
that by which they were surrounded, an element which brought upon them
more of evil than of good. Comparatively few additions were made to their
number from the bold border men of Missouri and Illinois, most of their
proselytes coming from other parts of the United States and from Europe.
The whole great west was open to them; even during the days of Joseph
there had been talk of some happy Arcadian retreat far away from every
adverse influence;35 and in the
fertile brain of Brigham the idea assumed proportions yet broader and of
more intensified form, significant of western empire and isolation
somewhere in California or the Pacific isles, with himself as leader, and
followers drawn from every quarter of the globe.
A general council was held on the 9th of September, at which it was resolved that a company of fifteen hundred men be selected to go to Salt Lake Valley, and a committee of five was appointed to gather information relative to the subject.36 There were frequent meetings of the authorities and consultations in regard to emigrating to California.37
The saints would go, they said, but they must have a reasonable time in which to dispose of their property
35On the 20th of Feb., 1844, according to the Millennial Star, xxii. 819, Joseph counselled the twelve to send out a delegation and 'investigate the locations of California and Oregon, and hunt out a good location where we can remove to after the temple is completed, where we can build a city in a day and have a government of our own.' In Taylor's Reminiscences, MS., 19, is the following: 'A favorite song in Nauvoo, and of my own composition, was entitled "The Upper California, O that's the land for me!" what is now Utah being known by that name. Joseph Smith was the first who talked of the latter-day saints coming to this region. As early as August 1842 he prophesied that the saints would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, and there become a mighty people.'
36See Hist. B. Young, 1845, MS., 19.
37F. D. Richards read Fremont's Journal to the twelve, and later Hastings' account of California was read. Hist. B. Young, MS., 308-16. A letter was also read to the authorities from Brother Sam Brannan, stating that the secretary of war and others of the cabinet were planning to prevent their moving west—alleging that it was against the law for an armed body to go from the U.S. to any other government; that it would not do to let them go to California or Oregon, but that they must be obliterated. Hist. B. Young, MS., 305.
|p. 211||and leave the
country.38 The meeting at Quincy,
notice of which with a copy of the resolutions was sent to Nauvoo, named
six months as the time within which the Mormons must depart. In answer,
the council of the church replied, on the 24th of September, that they
could not set forth so early in the spring, when there would be neither
food for man or beast, nor even running water, but that it was their full
intention to depart as soon as possible, and that they would go far
enough, God helping them, forever thereafter to be free from their
enemies. Meanwhile all they asked was that they should not be further
molested by armed bands or suits at law, but rather assisted in selling
their property and collecting their effects.39
To this the men of Quincy gave assent; at the same time pledging themselves to prompt action in case of failure oil the part of the saints to keep their promise, and taking measures to secure a military organization of the people of Adams county.40
It was not to be expected that Carthage would remain idle while other towns were acting. A convention of delegates from nine surrounding counties was held there about the end of September, and four commissioners, among whom were Hardin, commander of the state militia, and Douglas, senator,41 were sent to Nauvoo to demand the departure of the Mormons. The deputation was met by the council of the twelve with the president at their head, and answer was promptly made that the removal would
38One thousand families, including 5,000 or 6,000 souls, would remove in the spring. Hist. B. Young, MS., 1845, 234. Hundreds of farms and some 2,000 houses were offered for sale in Nauvoo city and county. 'There was grain enough growing within 10 miles of Nauvoo, raised by the Mormons, to feed the whole population for two years, if they were to do nothing but gather it in and feast upon it.' Id., MS., 35.
39A lengthy communication to this effect was drawn up and signed by Brigham Young, president, and Willard Richards, clerk. Printed in full in Fullmer's Expulsion, 20-1.
40Answer in full in Id., 22.
41The other two were W. B. Warren and J. A. McDougal. Tullidge's Life of Young, 8.
|p. 212||take place as
speedily as possible. "What guarantee will you give us?" asked
Hardin. "You have our all as guarantee," answered Brigham.
"Young is right," said Douglas. But this reply would not satisfy
all the commissioners, and the twelve were requested to submit their
intentions in writing, in order that they might be laid before the
governor and people of the state. This was done.42
The commissioners then returned home; but not even yet were the men of Carthage content. To the resolutions passed at Quincy were added others of similar nature, and the whole adopted. A plan of organization was agreed upon, and arrangements were made for calling meetings and securing volunteers, who were to select their own officers and report to the Quincy military committee. The judge of Hancock county was requested by this convention not to hold
42In answer to the letter of the commissioners, the saints on the same day said, after referring to their communication of the 24th to the Quincy committee: 'In addition to this, we would say that we had commenced making arrangements to remove from the country previous to the recent disturbances; that we have four companies of 100 families each, and six more companies now organizing, of the same number each, preparatory to a removal. That 1,000 families, including the twelve, the high council, the trustees, and general authorities of the church, are fully determined to remove in the spring, independent of the contingencies of selling our property; and this company will comprise from 5,000 to 6,000 souls. That the church, as a body, desire to remove with us, and will if sales can be effected so as to raise the necessary means. That the organization of the church we represent is such that there never can exist but one head or presidency at any one time. And all good members wish to be with the organization; and all are determined to remove to some distant point, where we shall neither infringe nor be infringed upon, so soon as time and means will permit. That we have some hundreds of farms and some 2,000 houses for sale in this city and county, and we request all good citizens to assist in the disposal of our property. That we do not expect to find purchasers for our temple and other public buildings; but we are willing to rent them to a respectable community who may inhabit the city. That we wish it distinctly understood that although we may not find purchasers for our property, we will not sacrifice it, nor give it away, or suffer it illegally to be wrested from us. That we do not intend to sow any wheat this fall, and should we all sell, we shall not put in any more crops of any description. That as soon as practicable we will appoint committees from the city, La Harpe, Macedonia, Bear Creek, and all necessary places in the country, to give information to purchasers. That if these testimonies are not sufficient to satisfy any people that we are in earnest, we will soon give them a sign that cannot be mistaken—we will leave them.' In Hist. B. Young, MS., Nov. 1845, it is stated that there were families organized 3,285: wagons on hand 1,508; wagons commenced 1,892.
|p. 213||court during that
autumn, for fear of collision between saints and gentiles, and the
governor was recommended to station in that vicinity a small military
force to keep peace during the winter.
During the height of the troubles at Nauvoo, Orson Pratt was in New York, where on the 8th of November, 1845, he addressed a farewell message to the brethren in the east, calling upon such of them as had means to sell their property, buy teams, and join the overland emigration, and those who had none to take passage in the ship Brooklyn, chartered for the purpose by Elder Samuel Brannan, and which was to sail round Cape Horn, via the Hawaiian Islands, for California. Shortly after, the Brooklyn sailed with 238 emigrants, the price of passage being $50 for adults, with $25 additional for subsistence. The details of this expedition, with names of the emigrants, their doings in California, and the departure for the Great Salt Lake of a large portion of them, is given in volume V. chapter XX. of my History of California. Upon his return to Nauvoo, Pratt brought $400 worth of Allen's six-shooting pistols.
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