The New International Encyclopædia/Mormons
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MORMONS, or more properly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A religious sect of the United States. The early history of the Mormons is that of their founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., who was born at Sharon, Windsor County, Vt., December 23, 1805. According to contemporary anti-Mormon descriptions, or to the suppressed accounts of early Mormon apologists, Joseph's paternal grandfather was a man of distorted religious views; his maternal grandfather, Solomon Mack, was an infirm beggar, and superstitious to a high degree. Joseph's mother believed in cures by faith and in dreams as heavenly admonitions. The Prophet's father, after failing as a farmer, a storekeeper, and a root-digger in Vermont and New Hampshire, took up a land claim in Ontario County, N. Y., in 1815. Like his son, he was a confessed believer in witchcraft and demon possession. In his autobiography Smith called these the reports of evil-disposed and designing persons; by the later church historians they are either palliated or deprived of significance: however, to the student of heredity these details of Smith's ancestry are considered essential to a pathological estimate of his character. The Mormons quote, only to refute, the hostile statements that Smith was a visionary, a fanatic, an impostor, and a libertine; instead, they esteem him a prophet, a seer, a vicegerent of God, and a martyr (Times and Seasons, v. 856). They grant that Joseph's education was defective and that as a boy he could hardly write his name. He himself asserted that he was ‘a rough stone’ and desired ‘the learning of heaven alone.’ His mother said of him that in his nineteenth year he had never read the Bible through.
The ‘conversion’ of Joseph took place in 1820 near Palmyra. It was a time of great local excitement on the subject of religion. Joseph had retired to a solitary place and knelt in prayer to God. He fell into a trance, and was seized with a feeling of great depression and terror. “Just at this moment of great alarm,” he continues in his description of the event, “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me. . . . When I came to myself again I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven.” The second of the ‘visions of Joseph’ took place on September 21, 1823, when the heavenly messenger disclosed the hiding place of the gold plates upon which the Book of Mormon was asserted to be engraved. There was a series of seven visions in all, which extend over as many years, and which, as in the case of Mohammed, have been attributed by some to epilepsy.
Connected with these trances is the so-called “transcription of the gold plates.” As a money-digger among Indian mounds young Smith made use of a ‘peek-stone.’ This became the famous ‘Urim and Thummim,’ whereby “Joseph the Seer translated the reformed Egyptian of the plates of Nephi.” Students of abnormal psychology infer from recent investigation of the original document with its sprawling superscription ‘Caractors’ that it is analogous to the automatic writing of the semi-hypnotized crystal gazer, and urge that Smith's later methods of ‘translating’ bear out this supposition of a sub-conscious activity. Throwing himself into a condition of revery by gazing into his ‘interpreters,’ he dictated to his scribes what appeared to him to be communications of supernatural origin. Such an interpretation of Joseph's visions in terms of abnormal psychology is thought blasphemous by the Saints. They hold the records to be divinely inspired, while Smith compared his peculiar psychic experiences to those of Saint Paul. Of Smith's writings the first was the Book of Mormon, begun in September, 1827, at Manchester, N. Y., continued at Harmony, Pa., and finished at Fayette, N. Y., June, 1829. The original manuscript has disappeared. There remains only a duplicate made by Smith's principal scribe, the schoolmaster Oliver Cowdery. The first edition was printed at Palmyra in 1830. Two other editions were published within ten years. The fifteen books of this “Sacred History of Ancient America from the Earliest Ages After the Flood to the Beginning of the Fifth Century of the Christian Era” Smith himself thus summarized: “The history of America is unfolded from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian Era. We are informed by these records that America, in ancient times, has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites, and came directly from the Tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle toward the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians. This book also tells us that our Saviour made His appearance upon this continent after His resurrection; that He planted the Gospel here in all its fullness and richness and power and blessing; that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessing, as was enjoyed on the Eastern Continent: that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions; that the last of their prophets who existed among them was commanded to write an abridgment of their prophecies, history, etc., and to hide it up in the earth.”
Certain adverse critics dismiss the Book of Mormon as a mere hodge-podge of petty information, gross anachronisms, and biblical borrowings; this, in the opinion of another class of adverse critics, is to miss its significance both as a cryptic biography and as a characteristic bit of provincial Americana. The latter declare that in addition to private affairs inadvertently incorporated there are water marks of some historic interest to be found in the document. They detect, in Scriptural paraphrase, descriptions of the current agitations against Romanism, infidelity, and Freemasonry, and even references to the so-called Washingtonian movement for total abstinence. The widely prevalent theory that the Indians were the lost ten tribes of Israel is also embodied. The Nephites were not merely the modern red men in disguise, but in their mental habits they intimately resembled local sectarians. The speech of Nephi contains quotations from the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the speech of Lehi reflects the heretical tenets charged against the Presbytery of Geneva, in whose bounds Joseph himself lived. Applying the methods of the higher criticism, unbelievers note that the book is filled with the catch-words of the Methodist camp-meeting exhorter, and cite in particular the last section of the Book of Mormon, from its likeness to a Methodist book of discipline, as final proof of the writer's dependence on local theology. Believing the Book of Mormon to be the veritable word of God delivered through verbal inspiration, the Mormon apologists consider it unwarrantable to apply the higher criticism to their bible. Nevertheless such criticism renders untenable previous arguments against the authenticity of the work.
The ideas in the book were within the young author's ken. His Calvinism need not have been formally derived from the New England Primer, nor his arguments on Deism from Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, since the backwoods pulpit and the political gossip of the taverns supplied these notions. If the internal evidence makes the Book of Mormon indigenous, the external evidence is equally against a foreign authorship as presented in the ordinary Spaulding-Rigdon theory. This is, briefly, that a romance of prehistoric America, written in Ohio in 1812 by a Congregational minister, Solomon Spaulding, was the ‘source, root, and inspiration’ by which Smith's associate, Sidney Rigdon, concocted the scheme of a Golden Bible. The recovery in 1885 of the alleged original of Spaulding's “Manuscript Story” has been to the Mormons conclusive proof of its non-connection with the Book of Mormon, for there is no real resemblance between the two.
The day of the founding of the Mormon Church was April 6, 1830. On that day Smith claimed to have received a revelation beginning: “Thou shall be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle.” This is a characteristic sentence from the second half of the Mormon canon, the Book of Commandments. This rarest of original Mormon sources is in part a book of discipline, containing the “Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ.” To add to the confusion of contents, this pamphlet of 55 chapters has its biographical side. Like its enlargement, the revamped Book of Doctrine and Covenants, it comprises “revelations to Joseph Smith, .Jr., for the building up of the Kingdom of God in the last days.” Concerning the origin of these vaticinations, David Whitmer, the tliinl witness of the gold plates, asserted that the revelations were given through the stone through which the Book of Mormon was translated, and Parley P. Pratt described how “each sentence was uttered slowly and very distinctly.” Smith himself was more cautious as to the divine origin of his messages, saying, “We never inquire for special revelation only in case of there being no previous revelation to suit the case.”
The local receptiveness, at that time, to new religious ideas is manifest by the success of other leaders. Jemima Wilkinson prophesied at Crooked Lake; William Miller predicted the end of the world at Rochester; and the Fox sisters started Spiritualism only ten miles from Joseph Smith's home. The return of apostolic gifts was hoped for by the local Quakers, Primitive Baptists, and Restorationists. A half-year later, during the revivalistic meetings of the Mormons at Kirtland, remarkable religious phenomena were reported.
The Kirtland revival was the turning point in the life of the infant Church. Because of it there came a “revelation to the churches in New York, commanding them to remove to Ohio.” It was now that Sidney Rigdon played his part in the Latter-Day movement. He had been a Baptist preacher in Pittsburg, and a minister of the Disciples' Church in Ohio. He organized at Kirtland a branch of Saints of one hundred members, and in February, 1831, Smith betook himself thither. David Whitmer asserts that Rigdon soon obtained more influence over Smith than any other man living. In exchange for the home-made Mormon Bible, Rigdon gave a foreign framework to the Mormon Church. He got hold of some of the transplanted ideas of Fourier the French collectivist. Nineteen families in Rigdon's neighborhood had already formed themselves into a common stock company. A revelation of February, 1831, runs: “Thou shalt consecrate all thy properties which thou hast to impart unto me with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken; the bishop shall appoint every man a steward over his own property, inasmuch as is sufficient for himself and family; the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and needy, and for the purpose of purchasing lands, and the building up of the New Jerusalem.”
Smith's Ohio business enterprises brought financial loss. He first opened a general store at Hiram which failed. Land speculation also brought loss. Three farms at Kirtland, costing over $11,000, were to be turned into a permanent city of Zion with 32 streets. Like the Church tannery and the Church sawmill, this paper city had no financial foundation. At the same time a $40,000 temple was begun (the corner-stone was laid July 23, 1833), and although most of the Saints gave one-seventh of their time to its building without pay, a debt of from $15,000 to $20,000 was left upon it. Meanwhile an attempt was made to prevent financial disaster by establishing the Kirtland Safety Society Bank. Reorganized in 1837 as the Kirtland Society Anti-Banking Company and uttering at least $200,000 of its notes, the crash came within ten months, and Secretary Rigdon and Treasurer Smith tied to Missouri.
As president of the Church in Ohio, Smith's communistic ambitions were mingled with hierarchical schemes. Besides the United Firm and the Safety Bank, in 1833 he dedicated to the Lord the printing office of the Latter-Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate. In 1834 he organized the First High Council of the Church of Christ, with himself, Rigdon, and Williams as the First Presidency. In 1835 he chose the Twelve Apostles, among whom were Brigham Young, the Lion of the Lord; Parley Pratt, the Archer of Paradise; and Lyman Wright, the Wild Ram of the Mountain. In 1836 Smith instituted the several quorums or executive bodies of the Church, first the Presidency, then the Twelve, and the Seventy, also the counselors of Kirtland and Zion. In 1837 he set apart Apostles Kimball and Hyde to go on a mission to England, the first foreign mission of the Church.
In 1832, as a prophet of woe urging the Saints to sell all they had and flee from the wrath to come. Smith brought the mob upon himself and Rigdon at the town of Hiram. In the great apostasy of 1836 the Church lost some of its pillars. The three witnesses to the Book of Mormon were soon cut off. In the bull of excommunication David Whitmer, the anti-polygamist, was compared to Balaam's ass; Martin Harris was called a negro with a white skin, while all the “dissenters,” says the Prophet, “are so far beneath my contempt that to notice any of them would be too great a sacrifice for a gentleman to make.”
While the Saints were yet in Ohio there is evidence that polygamy was both practiced and sanctioned by those highest in authority. The Reorganized Church of Latter-Day Saints under the leadership of the Prophet's son, Joseph Smith, 3d, has claimed that the doctrine of ‘spiritual wifery’ was introduced, not by the Prophet, but by the older men, notably Hurlburt, Bennett, and Rigdon. The real acts of these scapegoats may never be known, for their testimony as to Smith's implication in their practices was declared unprintable. Hence what remains of the evidence against the Prophet is merely circumstantial, and is to be counterbalanced by his early attempts at ostensible suppression. In October, 1831, Smith admonished William E. McLellin through a revelation: “Commit not adultery, a temptation with which thou hast been troubled.” In July, 1833, Smith wrote to the brethren in Zion to “guard against evils which may arise from accounts given of women.” In 1835 the Book of Doctrine and Covenants declared: “Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman but one husband.”
The third place of settlement by the Saints was Missouri. Smith's order to Oliver Cowdery to go and establish the Church among the Lamanites brought four Mormon missionaries to Jackson County as early as 1831. The town of Independence was declared the new city of Zion and a site for a temple was chosen there in August. The converts poured in from the Middle Atlantic States and Canada with such rapidity that the non-Mormons were somewhat alarmed. The printing of the Book of Commandments with its revelations to the Saints calling Missouri “the land of your inheritance, which is now the land of your enemies,” led to acts of hostility from the citizens of Jackson County. The burning of barns and the shooting into Mormon houses at night was followed by demands for the removal of the Mormons from the country within a reasonable time, and for the prohibition of future Mormon settlement therein. The element of border ruffianism was doubtless responsible for the speedy destruction of the church printing office, and for the tarring and feathering of Bishop Partridge, yet the Saints themselves were not without fault. Their agreement to depart within eight months was written, as they alleged, “supposing that before the time arrived the mob would see their error and stop the violence.” Since Governor Dunklin was loath to call out the militia, the mob drove at least fifteen hundred Mormons across the Missouri, the women and children suffering terrible hardships in the November storms. The negotiations for financial redress proved fruitless, for, as the Governor himself confessed, conviction for any violence committed against a Mormon could not be had in Jackson County. Until 1838 the town of Far West was materially prosperous and on good terms with its neighbors, but upon the Prophet's arrival in that year there arose dissensions within and without. The Presidency was deposed on a charge of misappropriating trust funds and Oliver Cowdery expelled for counterfeiting. With the further defection of Thomas B. Marsh, president of the Twelve, and Orson Hyde, one of the original Apostles, there came the establishing of an organization called ultimately the Danite Band, and known popularly as the Avenging Angels. Bound to secrecy by blood oaths, obeying any behest of the Church against property or life, this American variety of thugs owed its origin to Smith's revelation of August 6, 1833 — “Thine enemy is in thine hands, and if thou reward him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.” The year 1838 also saw the establishment of the tithing system. Forty years afterwards the annual tithing revenues were estimated at a million dollars, appropriated, according to Brigham Young, to church erection, emigration, and poor relief.
The beginning of civil strife in Missouri dates from Rigdon's ‘salt sermon,’ a Fourth of July oration (1838), in which there was officially predicted a war of extermination between Saints and Gentiles. After the State election in August, it was reported to Governor Boggs that the Mormons were so numerous and well armed that the judicial power of Daviess and Caldwell counties was wholly unable to execute any civil or criminal process against a Mormon. A regiment of militia was thereupon called out, but General Deniphan, fearing that much blood would be spilled, disbanded most of his force. At the Prophet's suggestion the organization of the ‘Fur Company’ let loose foraging bands over the country. Then followed the killing of the Danite leader, ‘Fear Not’ Patten, the defeat of the Missouri Captain Bogart. and the retaliation upon the Mormons in the infamous Hawn's Mill Massacre. On October 27th the Governor issued orders that the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State. There ensued a determined campaign against the Mormons. The final terms of surrender, offered at Far West by General Lucas, included the payment of debts and the expulsion from the State of all the Mormons except the leaders, who were subject to trial. In the trial of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Rigdon, and others at Liberty, testimony was given that the members of the Danite Band considered themselves as much bound to obey the heads of the Church as to obey God, and that Smith advised the people to spoil the Gentiles. The Prophet was confined in Liberty until April, 1839.
The fourth place of removal of the Saints was Illinois, and here their experience was but a repetition of their last migration. Friction was sure to arise because of the lawless squatters and timber thieves in the northern counties and because of the politicians at Quincy and their toadying for the Mormon vote. Smith purchased the city of Commerce on the banks of the Mississippi for about $70,000; the name of the town was changed to Nauvoo, supposedly derived from a Hebrew word meaning beautiful. The rapid growth of Nauvoo was largely due to the religious propaganda. At home, proselyting was extended from Maine to Michigan, while mass meetings were called in the Eastern cities to express sympathy with the Mormons as oppressed by the enemies of the freedom of religious opinion. Abroad, the press knew even less of Latter-Day ambitions, since the Mormon appeals in England were directed to the illiterate and superstitious. At Liverpool, Orson Pratt published his Discovery of Ancient American Records and the Mormon organ, the Millennial Star, advertised “Bones set through faith in Christ.” But that which appealed most strongly to English weaver, Scotch miner, and Welsh peasant was the prospect of owning a farm in the land of Missouri, where “the Lord had been raining down manna in rich profusion.” The success of the Mormon missionaries in Great Britain is evinced by the growth of the system of chartering ships for emigrants, from one vessel and 200 passengers in 1840, to 8 vessels and 1614 passengers in 1842.
In the meantime Mormondom in America was flourishing both financially and politically. Through efficient lobbying the Illinois legislature granted charters for the city of Nauvoo, the Nauvoo Legion, and the University of the City of Nauvoo. Three-fourths of the university faculty was drawn from local talent, being composed of Orson Pratt, Orson Spencer, and Sidney Rigdon, with James Keeley, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, as president. An army officer, in 1842, praised the Nauvoo Legion, but expressed his fear of the growth of a Mormon corps filled with religious enthusiasm and led on by ambitious officers. This fear was justified by the attempted assassination of Governor Boggs, of Missduri, by O. P. Rockwell, a Mormon living at Nauvoo. The Prophet, having called Boggs a ‘knave, butcher, and murderer,’ was indicted as instigator of the plot. He was then released by his own municipal court. Smith's ability to swing votes led to an enlargement of his political ambitions. He called on President Van Buren with a claim for Mormon losses amounting to $1,381.044.55½. Failing to obtain redress from Congress, he addressed letters of appeal to Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. On receiving non-committal answers from these rival Presidential candidates, he ran for President himself.
Smith was assassinated in jail at Carthage, Ill., June 27, 1844. The causes leading up to his death were not merely political, but also financial and social. He secured relief from his Kirtland creditors only by taking advantage of the bankruptcy act, and the numerous thefts around Nauvoo were laid to the Mormons. Smith was also in trouble with his associates; in 1843 he deposed Rigdon as his adviser. On July 12, 1843, there came the famous “Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, including Plurality of Wives, Given through Joseph, the Seer, in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Ill.” This document was not promulgated until 1852; its authenticity is, however, proved by its similarity in style with the Book of Mormon. In this document the authority for polygamy is derived from the example of the Old Testament patriarchs, but the Mormon harem is confined to ten virgins. The Prophet's ideas on ‘spiritual wifeism,’ like his early gospel, appear to have been ‘plain and simple’ and without any philosophic basis. Whatever Smith taught on the ‘mysteries of the kingdom’ is derivable from the writings of the two Pratts, who excogitated a system of metaphysics justifying plurality of wives. According to Orson, called the Gauge of Philosophy, “celestial marriage opens the way for all women who wish to marry to fill the measure of their creation. . . . It shows how the innumerable creations of God [i.e. this world and other planets] may be peopled with intelligences. . . . Woman without man and man without woman cannot be saved. The larger the progeny a man has, the greater will be the fullness of his eternal glory.” These were the esoteric teachings of the Saints, whispered as early as 1840. Smith's plural wives numbered over a score, most of whom were taken by the Apostles Kimball and Young after the Prophet's death. Outward proof of the practice of polygamy in the forties is to be sought in such virulent persecutions as caused the expulsion of fifteen thousand Saints from Missouri, and in such publications as the Times and Seasons' ‘extract from a letter from the vicinity of Nauvoo,’ which says, “The excitement on both sides of the river against the Mormons is increasing very fast. The conduct of Joseph Smith and the other leaders is such that no community of white men can tolerate.” Turmoil now arose in the Mormon camp itself. Three well-informed men, Dr. Foster and the two Laws, started a paper called the Expositor, which, besides advocating ‘disobedience to political revelations,’ sought to ‘explode the vicious principles of Joseph Smith.’ The first and only number condemned the Church appropriation of property without accounting, the preaching of the doctrine of plural gods, sealing, and the plurality of wives. The wanton destruction of the Expositor press and property on June 10th under the order of Joseph Smith, as lieutenant-general of the Nauvoo Legion, was succeeded by great commotion among non-Mormons. Outlying counties raised men and money for a ‘war’ against the Saints, for Nauvoo was now declared under martial law. On June 22d the Prophet and a few others started to flee to the Rocky Mountains, but upon Governor Ford's promise of protection, Smith surrendered himself at Carthage on the 24th. The first arrest was made on a charge of riot, the second on a charge of treason in levying war against the State. In appointing the Carthage Grays, who were the avowed enemies of the Smiths, as a guard over the jail, the Governor made a fatal blunder. On June 27th, with the evident collusion of the guard, a band of disguised assailants, presumably from the Warsaw regiment, brutally murdered the Prophet and his brother Hyrum.
With the death of Smith rival claims to the prophetic successorship arose between Brigham Young, J. J. Strang, and Smith's own son. The ‘Strangites’ disappeared with the killing of their leader in 1856 because of his polygamous practices. The ‘Young Josephites,’ however, founded in 1852 the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the body still exists under the presidency of Joseph Smith, 3d. It claims to be the continuation of the original Church of Latter-Day Saints, and has been recognized as such by the courts. It maintains that the doctrines of plurality and community of wives are heresies. The headquarters of the Church are at Lamoni, Iowa. It has a publishing house, and issues two weekly papers (Zion's Hope, for Sunday-schools, and the Saints' Herald, a general religious weekly and the official organ), a monthly magazine (Autumn Leaves) for young people, and books and tracts. It maintains Graceland College and a home for the aged poor. There is another establishment at Independence, Mo., with a printing press, whence are issued Zion's Ensign, a weekly paper, books, and tracts. The Church has about 45,000 members.
The logical successor of Smith was Brigham Young. Young joined the Mormon Church in New York State on April 14, 1832, and in the same year was sent by the Prophet from Kirtland on a missionary tour in Canada. Returning to Ohio with a band of converts in 1834, he went with the ‘Army of Zion’ to Missouri as one of the ‘captains of tens.’ In 1835 he was appointed one of the original Quorum of Twelve. Young assisted Smith in his flight to Missouri in 1838, and two years after sailed to Liverpool on a mission. The Prophet was fond of him, and Young's faithfulness to the cause is shown by his being left President of the Twelve upon Smith's assassination.
The Prophet's tragic death was of no avail against the domestic enemies of the Church. In January, 1845, the Nauvoo charter was repealed. The situation being recognized as intolerable, Young officially arranged to leave the country in the spring, a delegation having previously been sent out to investigate locations in California and Oregon. The final choice of Utah was due to a chance meeting with some trappers from the Great Salt Lake Valley. The organization of the Mormon exodus was in many respects remarkable. A pioneer company of young men was first sent ahead to plant crops, which the following companies should reap. Meanwhile Nauvoo had been turned into a vast wagon shop, so that the first company comprised a train of one thousand wagons. This ‘Camp of Israel,’ which included President Young and the Twelve Apostles, was subdivided into companies of from fifty to sixty wagons in charge of captains of fifties, captains of tens, and contracting commissaries. The versatility of the American pioneer was displayed in the establishment of way stations, with various repair shops and with a flouring mill built by Young himself. The largest company, which started from Elk Horn River on July 4th, included 1553 persons, with 566 wagons. By 1848 all the Mormons had crossed the plains except a few left on the Missouri as forwarding agents for emigrants from the Eastern States and Europe.
By March, 1848, the population of Salt Lake City numbered 1671, with 423 houses built. In spite of the failure of the crops and the consequent suffering of the first winter, glowing accounts of the new Zion were sent to England, with the result that within two years the English immigrants included men of many professions and trades. Young early projected cotton, woolen, and glass factories, for there were no sources for manufactured goods nearer than one thousand miles. In all this the aim of the leaders was to establish a State entirely self-supporting. But the balance sheet in 1852 showed a deficit. Young undertook to retrench expenses by giving less assistance to immigrants, but this policy turned out disastrously. The economic salvation of Mormondom was not due to the financial abilities of the body, but to outside causes. Abundance of money was brought to Salt Lake City by those who were hastening to California for gold, and by the building of the Pacific Railroad.
The political success of Mormonism was equally fortuitous. The war with Mexico having transferred the sovereignty of this region to the United States Government, on March 4, 1849, a convention at Salt Lake City adopted a constitution for the State of Deseret. The confusion of the Mormon political ideas was manifested in calling Deseret a State and at the same time in dispatching a Territorial delegate to Washington. Babbitt's application was rejected largely because of the hostility of the Illinois Democrats.
The growth of Young's dictatorship depended on mixed personal and religious reasons. He was known as hard-working Brigham Young; and his word was counted the word of God to his people. The power of the head of the Church was also increased by the issuance of paper money, by the strict application of the tithing system, and by the order that no man should hoard up his property. Young's addresses in the temple show that, with the development of his despotism, there came a loss of personal liberty among the laity. In connection with the School of the Prophets he appointed Church confessors to go among all families. In 1856 occurred the so-called ‘Reformation,’ in which the discontented were weeded out. After the murder of the would-be apostate, William R. Parrish, a deed instigated by Young himself, there came the organization of four hundred ‘Wolf Hunters,’ whose object was to prevent such rare escapes as that of Frederick Loba and his wife. By 1856 the doctrine of blood atonement was in operation. Apostasy was practically declared a capital crime to be atoned for only by having the blood spilled upon the ground, and Rosmos Anderson, who wanted to marry his stepdaughter against the wishes of the ward bishop, had his throat cut by the ecclesiastical executioners, so that his blood might run into his freshly dug grave.
The murder of the Aikin party in 1857 came under Young's policy of keeping the Gentiles out of Utah. Six men from San Francisco, with an outfit valued at $25,000, were shot while being ‘escorted’ by ‘Bill’ Hickman, who was known as ‘Brigham's Destroying Angel.’ In the same year occurred the most wholesale of these affairs, the Mountain Meadows Massacre (q.v.).
Chief among the reasons for governmental neglect of the Mormons were the appointment of mere party hacks as Territorial officers and judges and the impotence of the Federal Government at the ajiproach of the Civil War. Furthermore, the authorities were ignorant concerning Mormon practices and ambitions. Upon the establishment of the Territory of Utah, in 1851, Brigham Young was appointed Governor. When the Federal appointee, Judge Brocchus, ventured to criticise polygamy, Young publicly called him a coward and asked him to “apologize to the satisfaction of the ladies.” President Pierce's offer of the Governorship to Lieutenant-Colonel Steptoe led Young to threaten vengeance for this ‘infringement’ upon his individual rights and privileges. By 1856 the political parties began to make capital out of the Mormon situation. Stephen A. Douglas asserted that it was the duty of the President to remove Brigham Young and all his followers from office. In his message of 1857, President Buchanan declared that there was no longer any government in Utah but Brigham Young. All this was declared to be a Democratic scheme to blind the North regarding the pending slavery issue. However, a force of 1500 troops was dispatched under General Scott, whereupon Young announced that he “would ask no odds of Uncle Sam or the devil.” The Nauvoo Legion was recruited from all able-bodied males between eighteen and forty-five, martial law was declared in the Territory, and the Mormons harassed the Federal column by setting fire to the grass, stampeding their cattle, and burning the supply trains. An advance by winter into the Salt Lake Valley being deemed out of the question. Colonels Johnston and Alexander joined forces near Fort Bridger. Meanwhile Young, determined upon being the civil as really as he was the ecclesiastical head, commissioned Col. T. L. Kane as lobbyist at Washington. Taken with the pro-Mormon report of Governor Cumming, the result was a full and free pardon offered by President Buchanan to the very leaders whom Judge Eckles had charged with adultery. The attitude of the Church being considered treasonable during the Civil War, in May, 1862, Utah was put under military supervision. Colonel Connor's plans to overawe Young were frustrated by Lincoln's let-alone policy, and it was not until the lapse of a generation that the Mormon leaders unwillingly traded polygamy for Statehood.
The anti-polygamy legislation began with the Morrill bill of February, 1860. The severest punishment being merely the statutory penalty for bigamy, the measure was ineffective. The Cullom bill of 1869 was fought by Delegate Hooper on the ground that the Mormon views of the marriage relation were an essential part of their religious faith and therefore constitutionally guaranteed. Convictions under the Poland bill of 1874 being appealed, the United States Supreme Court ruled that religious belief cannot be accepted as a justification for an overt act made criminal by the law of the land. President Hayes, in his message of December, 1879, struck at the root of the matter by declaring that polygamy could only be suppressed by taking away the political power of the sect which encouraged and sustained it. Like remarks of Presidents Garfield and Arthur, in 1881, led to the Edmunds bill of 1882, which provided that no polygamist should be entitled to vote in any Territory or to hold office under the United States. Within two years 12,000 voters were disfranchised by this act, and within eight years 468 persons, mostly in the rural districts, were convicted for polygamy or unlawful cohabitation. When in 1890 the courts declared the ecclesiastical property confiscated because the Mormon Church was an organized rebellion, Young's successor, President Wilford Woodruff, issued a manifesto in which he advised the Latter-Day Saints to “refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.” The difficulties of obtaining Statehood and the unseating of Congressman Roberts in 1899 led the Church to so modify its views of political dominion as to declare that the Mormons “form not a rival power as against the Union, but an apostolic ministry to it, and their political gospel is State rights and self-government.” A late estimate places the number of Mormons in the United States, exclusive of the Reorganized Church, at about 300,000. They are no longer receiving large accessions from foreign propaganda among Teutonic races.
According to the present official handbook, the religion of the Latter-Day Saints consists of doctrines, commandments, ordinances, and rites revealed from God to the present age. The first principle is faith in God and in Jesus Christ; the next is repentance from all sin, then follows baptism for the remission of sin, as a preparation for the gift of the Holy Ghost, bestowed by the laying on of hands. Obedience to these principles is necessary to membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Faith in God is the beginning of religion, and confers spiritual gifts such as healings, miracles, tongues, the interpretation of tongues, discernment, visions, dreams, prophecy, and revelation. Authority to administer in the name of the Deity must of necessity come from God. This involves revelation. There having been no communication with heaven for hundreds of years, the world was without divine authority to administer gospel ordinances until Joseph Smith. By John the Baptist he was ordained to the lesser or Aaronic priesthood, and by Peter, James, and John to the higher or Melchizedek priesthood, receiving the Holy Apostleship and the keys of the kingdom with power to seal on earth so that it might be sealed in heaven. The religion of the Latter-Day Saints is progressive. It cannot be defined in a written creed. It is added to by the revelations of God as the capacities of the Saints enlarge and the needs of the Church increase. Every member of the Church is entitled to the blessings of divine communion and revelation for his or her own comfort and guidance. Revelations for the whole Church are only given through its President, who is its earthly head and holds the keys of the kingdom. Among the later revelations to the Church are the doctrines of baptism for the dead and of celestial marriage. As there was no authority among men to administer the ordinances of the gospel from the days of the early Apostles or shortly after, to the time of the restoration of the priesthood to Joseph Smith the Prophet, all the baptisms during the intervening period were void. The friends of the dead, however, are permitted to take their names and be baptized in their stead, the ceremony being duly witnessed and recorded on earth and accepted and ratified in heaven. Other ordinances may also be admitted by proxy, the living in behalf of the dead.
Celestial marriage is marriage unto all eternity. According to the revelation on this subject all the marriages entered into without divine authority are dissolved by death. Celestial marriage is entered into by those who have obeyed the gospel and become the sons and daughters of God by adoption. The woman is given to the man and they become one flesh. That which is thus sealed on earth is sealed in heaven, and is as valid as though performed in person by the Deity. If a wife thus sealed to her husband should precede him in death, it would be his privilege to wed another. The second wife, or third, if the second should die, would be sealed to him in the same manner as the first. They would all be his equally. In the resurrection he would have three wives, with their children, belonging to him in the everlasting covenant. The revelation on celestial marriage declares that if given to man in the everlasting covenant in the way appointed of God, he is not under condemnation, but is justified in receiving more wives than one. They are sealed to him and become his, and he cannot commit adultery with them because they are his and his alone. None of them are concubines or mistresses, or mere ministers of lust. Celestial marriage in its fullness is ordained of God. It is an establishment of religion. It is ecclesiastical in its nature and government. It is therefore outside the domain of constitutional law. Being within the pale of the Church, its free exercise cannot of right be prohibited.
The Mormon system of proselyting is simple. Twice each year, at the annual and semi-annual conferences held in Salt Lake City, a number of the faithful elders of the Church are selected by the authorities and ‘called’ by the assembled saints to visit the home or the foreign field. They travel at their own charges. Each mission is presided over by some elder selected by the general authorities of the Church, and the minor divisions of branches and conferences have their proper officers. The Utah missionaries remain in their fields of labor from two to four years and until released by competent authority to return home. Mormon missionaries have gone to every State and Territory of the Union, also to Canada, Mexico, the Antilles, Brazil and Peru, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, South Africa, India, the East Indies, China, Australia, New Zealand, the Society Islands, and the Hawaiian Islands. The Church has an organization known as the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company, which makes advances of money to assist the faithful to Utah and adjoining districts.
The Mormon hierarchy is complicated. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were the first two elders and apostles in the Church. Smith, who bore the title of Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, stood at the head of the Melchizedek priesthood, of which three presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church. The President of the Church and his two counselors form the First Presidency, and the three together represent the Trinity. The Twelve Apostles form a quorum equal in authority and power to the three Presidents previously mentioned. The Twelve are a traveling presiding High Council, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, to build up the Church and regulate its affairs in all nations. The Seventies are also called to preach the gospel and form a quorum equal in authority to that of the Twelve. The Seventy Elders have seven presidents to preside over them, chosen out of the number of the Seventy. There are now over 120 of these Seventies. In addition to these the officers of the Melchizedek priesthood are high priests and elders. The officers of the Aaronic or lesser priesthood are priests, teachers, and deacons. There are twenty-one Stakes of Zion in Utah. Over each stake there is a presidency consisting of a president and two counselors, who are high priests. This presidency bears the same relation to the stake that the First Presidency bears to the whole Church. A high council in each stake, consisting of twelve members, who are also high priests, act for the stake as the traveling presiding High Council act for the Church in all the world. It is the province of the high priests to preside, while the special calling of the Seventy is to travel and preach the gospel and build up the Church.
Bibliography. The four chief collections of Mormoniana in America are: The Church Archives at Salt Lake City; Government publications at Washington; the Berrian Collection, New York Public Library, rich in first editions and rare publications of the Early Church; the collection of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, at Madison, which includes the unique private collection of Mr. A. T. Schroeder, late of Salt Lake City. Mormon Periodicals: Deseret News (Salt Lake City, 1852-87); Elders' Journal (Kirtland, Ohio, and Far West, Mo., 1837-39); Evening and Morning Star (Independence, Mo., and Kirtland, Ohio, 1832-34); Journal of Discourses (by Brigham Young and the Church leaders, Liverpool, 1854-86); Latter-Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate (Kirtland, Ohio, 1834-37); Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star (Liverpool, 1840); Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Ill., 1834-45; vol. iii. ed. by Smith; early files suppressed by Brigham Young). Pro-Mormon Works: Bancroft, History of Utah (San Francisco, 1890); Handbook of Reference to History, etc. (Salt Lake City, 1882); Joseph Smith, .Jr., Book of Commandments (Zion, Jackson County, Mo., 1833; exceedingly rare: Salt Lake Tribune reprint, 1884); Book of Mormon (1st ed., Palmyra, N. Y., 1830; 2d ed., equally rare, Kirtland, Ohio, 1835); The Pearl of Great Price (selections from the writings of Smith, Salt Lake City, 1891); Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith and His Progenitors (by the mother of the Prnphet; suppressed by Brigham Young; Liverpool, 1853, and Plano, Ill., 1880); Joseph Smith, 3d, and Heman C. Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (from the standpoint of the Reorganized Church, Lamoni, Iowa, 1901); Thompson, Evidences in Proof of the ‘Book of Mormon’ (suppressed by Brigham Young; Batavia, N. Y., 1841); Tullidge, History of Salt Lake City (the work of a reformer, but censored by the Church; Salt Lake City, 1886); Whitmer, An Address to All Believers (written by a primitive non-polygamous Mormon, Richmond, Mo., 1887). Anti-Mormon Works: Ferris, Utah and the Mormons (New York, 1854); Gunnison, The Mormons (description of early life in Utah by an army officer: Philadelphia, 1856); Howe, Mormonism Unveiled (the earliest first-hand information against Smith, very rare; Painesville, Ohio, 1834); Hyde, Mormonism: Its Leaders and Designs (the confessions of an apostate; New York, 1857); Linn, The Story of the Mormons (the most complete and exhaustive history of Mormonism; New York, 1902); Riley, The Founder of Mormonism (a psychological study of Joseph Smith, Jr.; New York, 1902); Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints (a vivid portrayal by an able ex-Mormon; London, 1870); Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (the exposé of a fellow-townsman of Smith; New York, 1867); Utah Commission (Government Reports under the Edmunds Law, Washington).