1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mormons
MORMONS, the common name given to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a religious sect founded by Joseph Smith, jun., at Manchester, New York, in 1830, and since 1848 largely concentrated about Salt Lake City, Utah. Smith was born on the 23rd of December 1805 at Sharon, Windsor county, Vermont, from which place in 1815 or 1816 his parents, who like his grandparents were superstitious, neurotic, seers of visions, and believers in miraculous cures and in heavenly voices and direct revelation, removed to New York, where they settled on a small farm near Palmyra, Wayne county (then Ontario). In 1819 they removed to Manchester, in what is still Ontario county, about 6 m. from Palmyra. In Manchester Joseph, a good-natured, lazy boy, suffering from a bad heredity physically and psychically, began to have visions which seem to have accompanied epileptoid seizures (his mother's father had falling fits), from which he recovered apparently before he became of age. The boy's father was a digger for hidden treasure and used a divining rod to find proper places to dig wells, and about this time the son became a crystal gazer and by the use of a “peepstone” discovered the whereabouts of pretended hidden treasure. He said (in 1838) that on the night of the 21st of September 1823 the angel Moroni appeared to him three times, and told him that the Bible of the western continent, the supplement to the New Testament, was buried on a hill called Cumorah, now commonly known as Mormon Hill. It seems almost certain that he told other and earlier stories of how he came to find the gold plates, and it is possible that before this time there was a story current in Canada of the recovery of a “Gold Bible.” It was not until the 22nd of September 1827 that (as he said) he dug up, on the hill near Manchester, a stone box, in which was a volume, 6 in. thick, made of thin gold plates 8 in. by 7 in., and fastened together by three gold rings. The plates were covered with small writing in characters which, it was said, Professor Charles Anthon declared were in the “reformed Egyptian tongue”; with the golden book Smith claimed that he found a breastplate of gold and a pair of supernatural spectacles, consisting of two crystals set in a silver bow, and called “Urim and Thummim”; by aid of these the mystic characters could be read. Being himself unable to read or write fluently, Smith employed as amanuenses: first Martin Harris (1793-1875); then his own wife, Emma; after the middle of April 1829, Oliver Cowdery, a blacksmith and school teacher; and David Whitmer (1805-1888); to them, from behind a curtain, he dictated a translation, for the printing and publishing of which Martin Harris paid, in spite of the continued opposition of his wife to the scheme. An edition of 5000 copies of The Book of Mormon was printed early in 1830 in the printing office of the Wayne Sentinel at Palmyra. It was accompanied by “The Testimony of the Three Witnesses,” a sworn statement of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris that an angel of God had shown them the plates of which the book was a translation, and by “he Testimony of the Eight Witnesses,” four of them Whitmers and three of them Smiths (Joseph's father and his brothers Hyrum and Samuel). Soon afterwards, according to Smith, the plates disappeared, being taken away by the angel Moroni.
The Book of Mormon, in which Joseph Smith was declared to be God's “prophet,” with all power and entitled to all obedience, professes to give the history of America from its first settlement by a colony of “Jaredites” from among the crowd dispersed by the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel down to the year 5 A.D. These settlers in course of time destroyed one another. In 600 B.C. Lehi, his wife, and four sons, with ten friends, all from Jerusalem, landed on the coast of Chile. Upon the death of Lehi, the divine appointment to the leadership of Nephi, the youngest son, roused the resentment of his elder brothers, who were in consequence condemned to have dark skins and to be an idle, mischievous race, the “Lamanites” or North-American Indians. Between the Nephites and the bad Hebrews a fierce war was maintained for centuries, until finally, in spite of divine intervention in the person of the risen Christ, who here founded a Church with the same organization “as was enjoyed on the Eastern Continent,” the Nephites fell away from the true faith, and in 384 A.D. were nearly annihilated in a battle at the hill of Cumorah, in Ontario county, New York. Among the handful that escaped were Mormon and his son Moroni, the former of whom collected the sixteen books of records, kept by successive kings and priests, into one volume, which on his death was supplemented by his son with some personal reminiscences and by him buried in the hill of Cumorah, where he was divinely assured that the book would one day be discovered by God's chosen prophet. This is Smith's account of the book: it was a contention of the early anti-Mormons, now however discredited, that The Book of Mormon as published by Smith was rewritten with few changes from an unpublished romance, The Manuscript Found, written before 1812 by Solomon Spaulding (1761-1816), a minister and iron-founder who had become greatly interested in the prehistoric mounds of Ohio and wrote a romance to explain their origin and the Hebrew origin of the North-American Indians. The style of the book is poor; the speeches of primitive Indian chiefs are filled with the phraseology of the 19th-century camp-meeting; there are long extracts from the Westminster Confession, and a speech of Nephi contains a statement of doctrine which corresponds with heretical views held in Smith's own time in the presbytery of Geneva, in which his home lay.
The time was singularly favourable to the founding of a new sect: religious unrest and receptiveness were prevalent; and western New York was the scene of the foundation of various new communities between 1780, when Jemima Wilkinson founded “Jerusalem” in Yates county, New York, and 1848, when the Fox sisters gave their first spiritualistic manifestations about ten miles from Joseph Smith's home. His book and his claim to divine authority, upheld by frequent revelations, soon drew many followers to Smith. A Church was formally organized on the 6th of April 1830 at Fayette, Seneca county, New York; and in June a conference of about thirty members met at Fayette. Smith and Cowdery had previously (May, 1829) baptized each other, in alleged accordance with the instruction of John the Baptist, who had ordained them, conferring “the priesthood of Aaron”; while Peter, James and John afterwards made them priests of “the order of Melchisedec.” In October 1830 Smith sent out Parley Parker Pratt (1807-1857), Oliver Cowdery, Ziba Peterson, and Peter Whitmer, jun., as missionaries. One of their first converts, in Mentor, Lake county, Ohio, was Sidney Rigdon (1793-1876), whom Pratt had formerly known, who had preached as a Baptist in 1819-1828—a part of this time in Pittsburg—who had then joined Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott in establishing the Disciples of Christ, and who was pastor of a church in Mentor. Rigdon was baptized, became a Mormon leader, and, after a “revelation” of December 1830, made a new translation of the Bible, in which prophecies of the coming of Joseph Smith and the nature of The Book of Mormon are inserted in the 50th chapter of Genesis and the 29th chapter of Isaiah respectively. This translation was not published until 1866 and is not in use in the Mormon churches. In January 1831 Smith, who had been “persecuted” in his New York home, where several lawsuits, all unsuccessful, had been brought against him, accompanied Rigdon to Ohio, where at Kirtland (a few miles south-west of Mentor), Lake county, Ohio, the preaching of the new sect was very successful, partly because Pratt and Rigdon were so well known to the Disciples in north-eastern Ohio. Smith at this time seems to have intended to make the New Jerusalem at Kirtland; there he established a general store, a steam saw-mill and a tannery, bought land, platted a great city, and built a stone temple, which was consecrated in 1836. But the church was “persecuted” again, especially by apostates; on the 25th of March 1832 Smith and Rigdon were tarred and feathered at Hiram, Portage county, where they were then living. In February 1834 the Church was fairly organized; already on the 8th of March 1833 Smith, Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams had been styled the first presidency, and were entrusted with the keys of the last kingdom. About this time the licentiousness of Smith might have led to the dissolution of the Church but for Brigham Young (1801-1877), a Vermont painter and glazier, who was baptized in 1832 and soon afterwards was ordained elder. Young's indomitable will, persuasive eloquence, executive ability, shrewdness and zeal soon made their influence felt, and, when a further step was taken in 1835 towards the organization of a hierarchy by the institution of the quorum of the “twelve apostles,” who were sent out as proselytizing missionaries among the “gentiles,” Young was ordained one of the Twelve and despatched to preach throughout the eastern states. In 1836 the Kirtland Safety Society Bank was organized (in accordance with a “revelation” to Smith); as it was unchartered it issued notes under the name of “The Kirtland Safety Society anti-Bank-ing Co.”; but in March 1837 Rigdon and Smith, the secretary and treasurer, were charged with violating the state law against unchartered banks, and they were convicted in October; the society appealed, claiming that it was not a bank but an association, but in November the “bank” suspended payments and in Jan. 1838 Smith and Rigdon left the state for Missouri. In 1836-1837 there had been a determined attempt to depose Smith and make David Whitmer head of the Church; Rigdon and Young successfully opposed this movement, which was backed by Whitmer, Pratt, Williams and Harris. Probably in June 1837 (or in July 1838) there was organized under the leadership of Captain “Fear Not” (David W. Patten) a band called “The Daughter of Zion” (see Mic. iv. 13), the “Big Fan” (Jer. xv. 7), “Brothers of Gideon,” and finally “Sons of Dan,” or “Danites” (Gen. xlix. 17), bound to secrecy under penalty of death, and formed to punish all who opposed the Church and its supreme head. Numerous crimes and outrages were attributed to them. In the winter of 1830-1831 Pratt, Cowdery and two others had gone as far west as Jackson county, Missouri; in June 1831 Rigdon and Smith joined them there near what is now Independence and (in August) laid corner-stones of Zion and of a Mormon temple; thereafter Mormon immigration to Missouri increased rapidly; and in the early part of 1838 Smith and Rigdon fled to the new settlement called Far West (now Kerr) in Caldwell county, Missouri, which had been made in 1836-1837. Thither many of the saints had taken refuge, having been forcibly driven from Independence and Big Blue in November and December 1833, and having been induced to remove from Clay county after staying there in 1833-1836. In Caldwell and Daviess counties Smith's troubles, however, continued to increase. His profligacy had repelled many of his leading supporters and bred internal dissensions, while from the outside the brethren were harassed and threatened by the steadily growing hostility of the native Missourians. At Far West on the 4th of July 1838 Rigdon preached his “salt sermon” from Matt. v. 13, urging his hearers to wage “a war of extermination” on those who disturbed them. To such a height did the conflicts with the “gentiles” grow that they assumed the proportions of a civil war, and necessitated the calling out of the state militia. A company of Danites from Far West put some Missourian militia to flight but lost their own leader Captain Patten; the gentiles then attacked a Mormon settlement at Hawn's Mill (near Far West) and killed in cold blood about a score of the Mormons. Late in October Far West surrendered to an overwhelming force of militia. Smith and Rigdon with others were arrested and imprisoned on a charge of treason, murder and felony, and their followers to the number of 15,000 crossed over into Illinois and settled near Commerce, Hancock county. Smith, who succeeded in escaping from custody, had rejoined the Mormons in Illinois, and there they were cordially welcomed, especially by the politicians of both parties, who hoped to secure the Mormon vote in the presidential campaign of 1840; and when they founded (on the site of Commerce) the city of Nauvoo, they readily obtained (Dec. 1840) from the state legislature a charter which made the city practically independent of the state government and gave Smith nearly unlimited civil power. He organized a military body called the Nauvoo Legion (also incorporated by the legislature), of which he was commander, being commissioned “lieutenant-general” by the governor of Illinois in 1841; Smith allowed Dr John C. Bennett, an Illinois politician and a new convert, to be the city's first mayor. Foundations of a new temple were laid on the 6th of April 1841 and the temple (83 by 128 ft.) was dedicated on the 1st of May 1846. The city grew very rapidly; a university of the city of Nauvoo was established, among its professors being Rigdon and Orson Pratt (1811-1881), a mathematician, who was called “The Gauge of the Law.” In 1842 Smith was charged with instigating an attempt, made by O.P. Rockwell, a Mormon of Nauvoo, to assassinate ex-Governor L. W. Boggs of Missouri; it was impossible to hold either Rockwell or Smith after their indictment and arrest, since the Nauvoo municipal court had the power to determine cases of habeas corpus; the influence of Dr Bennett, who had quarrelled with Smith, was not strong enough to outweigh the power of the Mormon vote with the state authorities, and Smith was not held when in June 1843 he was arrested on the old charge of treasonable acts committed in Missouri. His downfall was brought about in a very different manner.
The Book of Mormon had forbidden polygamy: “There shall not any man have save it be one wife, and concubines he shall have none, for I the Lord God delighteth in the chastity of women. . . . For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people, otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” The conditional clause may indicate that Smith from the first had intended to make polygamy a part of the creed of the Church. There is some evidence that even in Ohio polygamy had been secretly practised by Smith and less probably by other elders. In Illinois there seems to have been no secret about Smith's cohabiting with other women. On the 12th of July 1843 he had a revelation expressly establishing and approving polygamy. This revelation was not published officially until 1852, but its purport immediately became known in Nauvoo and aroused great indignation. Dr R. D. Foster, whose wife Smith seems to have coveted, and whom Smith had accused of theft and immorality, William Law and Wilson Law, wealthy Canadian converts, and Sylvester Emmons, a member of the council, established a newspaper the Expositor, which was to work for the repeal of the city charter, “to correct the abuse of the unit power, to advocate disobedience to political revelations”; the first and only number (June 7, 1844) told of Hyrum Smith's reading to the council the “revelation on the eternity of the marriage covenant, including plurality of wives,” of Joseph Smith's methods and success in winning spiritual wives, and of the prophet's political ambitions. The city council tried the editors of the Expositor, the Smiths denying the “revelation” on plural marriage, and on the 20th of June the Expositor printing office was razed. Foster and the Laws fled to Carthage. There was a general uprising against the Mormons and Smith put Nauvoo under martial law; but his most able lieutenants were absent, the legion surrendered its arms, and Joseph and Hyrum Smith and others were arrested on the charge of treason (June 25, 1844) and were imprisoned at Carthage. On the night of the 27th a mob, with the collusion of the militia guard, broke into the prison and shot the two brothers dead.
Rigdon, the survivor of the first presidency, and Brigham Young, who were absent from Illinois at the time of Smith's death, were rivals for Smith's place; Young succeeded in having the Council of Twelve, of which he was head, made the supreme authority, and then had Rigdon tried for threatening treason and “cut off from the Church.” Young had still to meet the opposition of Joseph Smith's family, who claimed for his son, Joseph, the right of succession, and for a time supported the claims of James J. Strang (1813-1856) of Wisconsin, who had been baptized in February 1844, who told of revelations he had received, who settled with his followers on Beaver Island, Michigan, in 1847, was crowned “King of Zion” there in July 1850, and was killed by some of his followers there in June 1856, when his kingdom broke up. In January 1845 the Nauvoo city charter was repealed; hostility and suspicion against the Mormons increased; there were “burnings” of Mormon property in the outlying country and retaliation by the Nauvoo Legion under a pro-Mormon sheriff; a commission of four members (including Stephen A. Douglas), appointed by the governor, arranged with the Mormon authorities in October 1845 that they should all leave the state next spring. In May and June 1846 most of the Mormons left Nauvoo; in September the city was cannonaded and it again surrendered to the gentiles.
Five companies of Mormon volunteers joined the force under Colonel Stephen W. Kearny which marched to California in the winter of 1846-1847; but this was rather in the nature of assistance from the general government, which provided for their western transportation, than a proof of Mormon patriotism. An exploring party under Brigham Young entered (July 24, 1847) the Great Salt Lake valley and chose it as a place for their new city. Young then returned to Winter Quarters, near what is now Florence, Nebraska, and there on the 5th of December 1847 was chosen president as Smith's successor. Under his leadership, and in accordance with a scheme “revealed” to him and announced in January 1847, the march was organized in a masterly way; the main body, for instance, in its trip across the prairies made flour in a mill built by Young and reaped grain sowed months before by an advance guard. The first migration arrived in Salt Lake City in September, and the population of the new settlement before the close of 1848 was about 5000. The city did not prosper, however, during the first few years of its settlement; but in 1849 and 1850 it became a dépôt and outfitting place for the immigrants to California in the gold excitement. The great improvement of the country under systematic irrigation (here first used on a large scale in the United States) was another factor in the industrial growth of the settlement. As early as 1837 Mormon missionary work had begun in Great Britain, and many foreign converts had immigrated to Ohio, Missouri and Illinois; in December 1847, in a “general epistle” to the Church, Young urged all Mormons in Europe to emigrate as speedily as possible; 120 British saints immigrated in February 1848; a general “emigrating fund” was established in 1849, and the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company was incorporated in 1850; but in 1855 when there were 4425 emigrants, according to the British agency, as a result of an attempt to cut down expenses, proper provision was not made for their transportation from Iowa City, only hand-carts or push-carts being supplied, and one-sixth of a party of 400 died of starvation or exhaustion in a winter march across the plains.
When the Mormons first went west they thought they would escape from the jurisdiction of the United States, but the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the close of the Mexican War transferred the region to the United States. In March 1849 a convention at Salt Lake City organized the “State of Deseret,” of which Brigham Young was elected governor; a general assembly meeting in July sent a delegate to the Federal Congress and asked through Stephen A. Douglas for admission into the Union as a state or as a Territory; and on the 9th of September 1850 Utah was admitted as a Territory, of which Young became governor. He forced three non-Mormon district judges to leave the Territory in 1851, and by his open opposition to Lieut.-Colonel Edward Jenner Steptoe, U.S.A., who was stationed in Salt Lake City in the winter of 1854-1855 with about 300 soldiers on the way to California, and who was appointed governor of Utah in December 1854, forced Steptoe to decline the nomination. In 1855-1856 actual violence seems to have been offered to Judges George B. Stiles and W. W. Drummond; and about the same time Federal Indian agents in Utah complained that Mormon missionaries to the Indians were rousing them to hostilities against the United States. The defiant attitude of the Mormon Church towards the United States was thus being continually brought to the notice of the Federal authorities by official reports and by officials fugitive from Utah; and at the same time popular sentiment was stirred against Mormonism by constant rumour of violence in Utah against non-Mormons and apostates and by the official publication, in August 1852, of the “revelation on the eternity of the marriage covenant, including plurality of wives.” In 1853 Young put down autocratically the “Gladdenites,” followers of Gladden Bishop, who opposed polygamy. In 1856 the Mormon “Reformation” had begun: its principal factors were an elaborate system of confession to missionaries of the Church; the apparent inspiration by the Church of assassination of any suspected of hostility to the Church, of opposition to the ambition of its leaders, or of an intention to escape from Utah and the control of Young; and the doctrine of “blood atonement,” which was introduced by Jedediah Morgan Grant (1817-1856) and by which the only remission for certain sins was the shedding of the sinner's blood, so that, according to Brigham Young, “cutting people off from the earth ... is to save them, not to destroy them.” Many outrages were committed by a Mormon band of desperadoes who called themselves “Wolf-hunters.” Young's agents doubtless killed William P. Parish of Springville, Utah, early in 1857, apparently because he was planning to remove to California; at about the same time a party of six, including two brothers named Aikin, travelling from San Francisco were arrested as spies, were acquitted, and then were attacked in their camp and murdered, one at least by an assassin who claimed that Young had given him the order; and at Mountain Meadows in Washington county, in the south-western part of Utah, on the 11th of September 1857, about 120 immigrants on their way to southern California, having been attacked four days before by Indians and Mormons and having made a bold defence, were tricked by a flag of truce carried by Mormons who pretended to be a rescuing party, and were killed by armed Mormon troops, seventeen of the younger children being spared.
In 1857 President Buchanan appointed Alfred Cumming (then superintendent of Indian affairs on the Upper Missouri) as governor of the Territory in place of Young, and sent 1500 men to Utah under Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston. On the 15th of September Young issued a proclamation forbidding all armed forces from entering the Territory, calling to arms all forces in the territory, and declaring martial law. On the 5th and 6th of October a band of mounted Mormons under Major Lot Smith captured and burnt three supply-trains of the Federal troops; soon afterwards 800 oxen were cut out from another supply-train and were driven to Salt Lake City. The main body of the Federal troops under Colonel Johnston went into winter quarters in November at Black's Forks, near Fort Bridger. But in the spring of 1858, through the intervention of Thomas L. Kane of Pennsylvania, who had probably been baptized by Young in 1847 and seems to have been a Mormon agent in the East, and who now received letters of authority from President Buchanan, the Mormons were induced to make a merely formal submission to Federal authority. Governor Cumming acquiesced in this settlement of affairs, by which the actual victory was with the Saints. A peace commission sent to Utah in the summer of 1858 carried to the Mormons a presidential proclamation by which they received pardon for their treason. Practically all the Federal troops were withdrawn from Utah in the summer of 1860; soon afterwards Governor Cumming left the Territory to join the Confederate army. One of his immediate successors, John W. Dawson of Indiana, late in 1861 was forced to leave the territory, having been terribly beaten by several Mormons who professed (with apparent truth) to avenge an insult to a woman. In 1862, because the Mormons were suspected of sympathizing with the Confederate States, Colonel P. E. Connor, in command of the military district of Utah (and Nevada), actually marched United States troops into Salt Lake City. Governor Stephen S. Harding, appointed in 1862, proved less tractable than previous governors; a mass meeting in March 1863 undertook to secure his removal; and in June he and a Federal judge were displaced, possibly by the influence of Young (whom Harding had arrested for polygamy but who was not indicted), through capitalists interested in western mail-express and telegraph projects. The Church became less hostile to the Federal government toward the close of the Civil War, as it became apparent that the Confederacy was to be defeated.
Young made a successful effort in 1868-1869 to assure the industrial and commercial control of Utah: after Colonel Connor established Camp Douglas in the immediate vicinity of Salt Lake City it became increasingly difficult for the Mormon authorities to prevent trade with gentile stores in the city; and in 1869 there was incorporated the Zion Co-operative Mercantile Institution, to which practically all retailers in the territory were forced to sell out. In 1869 the Pacific Railroad reached Salt Lake City and by lessening its isolation, lessened its control by Young. His power was shaken somewhat, and the general tone of Mormonism was improved greatly by the “Godbeite movement,” led by W. S. Godbe and E. L. T. Harrison, who with T. B. H. Stenhouse, author of The Rocky Mountain Saints (1874), Edward W. Tullidge, who wrote an official History of Salt Lake City, and others, had established in 1868 the Utah Magazine, which attacked Young's despotism. Although Godbe and Harrison were “cut off” from the Church they succeeded in founding the Salt Lake Tribune (1870), the first permanent protest in Utah against Young. At the same time the power of the Latter-Day Saints and Young's autocracy were threatened by the growth of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which was formed in 1852 upon the announcement of the doctrine of polygamy, which declared that polygamy had been foisted upon the Church and that Brigham Young was an interloper, and which chose Joseph Smith III. (son of Joseph Smith, jun.; born in 1832) as its head in 1860; in 1863 and in 1869 representatives of the Reorganized Church preached in Salt Lake City.
As early as 1862 Congress had passed the Morrill Act (introduced by Justin S. Morrill) “to punish and prevent the practice of polygamy in the Territories,” but in 1867 the presiding officers of the Utah legislature, petitioning for the repeal of this act, declared that “the judiciary of this Territory has not, up to the present time, tried any case under said law.” Attempts to pass some extreme measures in 1866 and in 1869-1870 failed. In October 1871 a grand jury in Utah indicted Young and others for violating a Territorial statute against improper cohabitation; but in April 1872 the Supreme Court of the United States (Chilton v. Englebrech) practically declared the jury incompetent as it had been impanelled by a Federal (and not by a Territorial) marshal, and in October 1873 the same court (Snow v. The United States) ruled that the attorney-general appointed by the president in a territory could try no cases save those in which the Federal government was a party, thus putting the prosecution of polygamy cases into the hands of the locally elected attorney-general. But on the 23rd of June 1874 President Grant signed the Poland Act, “in relation to courts and judicial officers in the Territory of Utah,” which provided for prosecution by the United States attorney-general (not the locally elected official) in criminal cases in Federal courts in the Territory, for the impanelling of grand and petit jurors by the United States marshal, and for the challenge of any juror practising or believing in polygamy on a trial for adultery or polygamy, and otherwise corrected the defects in the Territorial law as pointed out by the Supreme Court, so that prosecutions for polygamy might no longer be a mere farce. But the law was little more than a dead letter: there were few prosecutions, and the only conviction was that of Young's secretary, George Reynolds, whose case dragged on from 1874 to 1879. In 1873 Ann Eliza Young, called “Wife No. 19,” brought a suit for divorce against Brigham Young; the defendant was at various times imprisoned and fined for failure to pay alimony pendente lite; and in 1877 the judge decided that the marriage was void as polygamous.
Young died in Salt Lake City on the 29th of August 1877; he left an estate of more than $2,000,000, and was survived by about 25 wives and more than 40 children. The Church owes much to him, for he was an able leader. It has been said of him that he was “for daring a Cromwell, for intrigue a Machiavelli, for executive force a Moses, and for utter absence of conscience a Bonaparte.” It must be borne in mind that to him, more than to anyone or anything else, was due the long struggle of the Church against the United States. His only doctrinal contribution to the Church was in 1852 when, in a sermon, he said that our Father could be none other than the first Man; that Adam came into the garden of Eden in a celestial body and with one of his wives; and that “He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.”
Young's successor in the presidency—acting president until 1880—was John Taylor (1808-1887), an Englishman by birth, who was living at Toronto when P. P. Pratt converted him in 1836; he was a missionary in England in 1840; then went to Nauvoo and was wounded when Smith was killed; preached in France and Germany, and translated The Book of Mormon into French His first counsellor, appointed in 1880, was George Q. Cannon, who was probably the real administrator. On the 22nd of March 1882 President Arthur approved the Edmunds Act, drafted by George F. Edmunds of Vermont, which disfranchised polygamists in the Territories, made ineligible for jury duty in prosecutions for bigamy, polygamy, or unlawful cohabitation all who practised polygamy or believed in it, and made polygamy punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and imprisonment of not more than five years, and cohabitation with more than one woman punishable by a maximum fine of $300, imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. The act was opposed because it was ex post facto. Under the Edmunds Act and the Edmunds-Tucker Act of March 1887 about 1200 persons were convicted of polygamy or unlawful cohabitation in Utah, Idaho and Arizona. The law was so rigidly enforced that about 12,000 were disfranchised, and the president of the Church had to spend his last years in hiding, and many other prominent Mormons escaped “on the underground.” The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 dissolved the Perpetual Emigration Company and the corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; and the Supreme Court in May 1890, on the ground that the Church was an organized rebellion, upheld the constitutionality of the confiscation of the Church property. On the 24th of September 1890 Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898), who had been chosen to succeed President Taylor in 1889, and who was himself a polygamist, issued a manifesto declaring “that my advice to Latter-Day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land”; and on the 6th of October the general conference of the Church approved Woodruff's manifesto and accepted “his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding.” This apparent rescindment of “revelation” was explained by Mormon scholars as Smith had explained the abandonment of the New Jerusalem in Missouri—the Saints were prevented from carrying out the commands contained in a revelation, but as they had tried to obey, they would not be punished for disobedience. On the 4th of January 1893, in response to a petition from the officials of the Church pledging the membership thereof to faithful obedience to the laws against polygamy, &c., President Harrison issued a general pardon to all liable to the penalties of the Edmunds-Tucker Act, on condition that they had not violated its provisions since the 1st of November 1890 and should not violate them in future. On the 4th of January 1896 Utah was admitted to the Union as a state, one of the conditions made by Congress being that polygamy should be prohibited by the state constitution, and that this prohibition be repealable only with the consent of the United States and of the people of the state; and article iii. of the constitution reads: “The following ordinance shall be irrevocable without the consent of the United States and the people of this state: Perfect toleration of religious sentiment is guaranteed. No inhabitant of this state shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship; but polygamous or plural marriages are for ever prohibited.” In March 1896 the escheated property of the Church still in possession of the United States government was restored, but the Church was not again incorporated, its legal business being transacted by its president as trustee-in-trust for the body of religious worshippers known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; each ward of the Church has, however, been incorporated, and its bishop is its executive head. In 1898 President Woodruff died and was succeeded by Lorenzo Snow (1814-1901), a native of Ohio, converted to Mormonism in 1836. In 1898 Brigham Henry Roberts (b. 1857), an Englishman by birth and a Mormon leader, was elected to Congress from Utah; as he had three wives there was objection to his taking his seat in 1899 in the 56th Congress; and on the 25th of January 1900 by a vote of 268 to 50 he was excluded from his seat. In 1903 Reed Smoot (b. 1862), an apostle of the Church, was elected to the United States Senate, where there was an attempt to exclude him (not on the ground that he was a polygamist, for there was no suspicion of his having violated the law, but because the apostles of the Church still advocated polygamy); the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections reported in favour of his exclusion; but on the 20th of February 1907 the Senate voted against his exclusion (42-28). According to Senator Smoot there were in 1906 not more than 500 householders in Utah who were polygamous; only six of the twelve apostles, and only one chosen since April 1900, were polygamous; and of the fourteen general authorities chosen between 1890 and 1906 twelve were monogamists. Joseph Fielding Smith (b. 1838), a nephew of the prophet, being a son of Hyrum Smith, succeeded to the presidency in 1901; he was a polygamist, and in March 1907, soon after the birth of what was said to be his forty-third child, he pleaded guilty when charged with breaking the law against polygamy and was fined $300.
The growth of the Latter-Day Saints has been largely in foreign countries. Missionary work in southern Canada was begun in 1833 by Orson Pratt, and in 1836 his brother, Parley P. Pratt, organized a mission in Toronto; in 1837 the work was begun in Liverpool, which is still the headquarters in Great Britain; in Ireland the work met with little success; from Germany missionaries were expelled in 1851 and in 1853; the Book of Mormon was translated into Italian by Lorenzo Snow in 1852; a Hawaiian version was made in 1856 by George Q. Cannon; and the missions in Scandinavia were begun about 1850. In the earlier years of the Church all converts were urged to migrate to Utah, and the glowing accounts of life there doubtless increased their number; the later policy of the Church, to which it was forced after 1887, when the Perpetual Emigration Fund was dissolved and assisted immigration was forbidden by the Federal government, was for converts to remain in their native countries. In England (and to a lesser degree on the Continent) the announcement of the doctrine of plural marriage was a disadvantage to the Church, and many converts transferred their allegiance to the Josephites, or Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who always opposed polygamy and attempted to prove that such doctrines had been foisted on the Church by Brigham Young, who had supplanted Joseph Smith's true successor, Joseph Smith III.
In 1908 the total number of Latter-Day Saints in the United States (chiefly in Utah and the neighbouring states) was estimated at 350,000, and there were besides about 48,000 members of the Reorganized Church. In Utah there are four great Mormon temples—at Salt Lake City (1893), Manti (1888), Logan (1884) and St George (1877). The Reorganized Church has twice been declared by United States Courts the legal successor of the Church founded by Joseph Smith, jun.; it holds that “the doctrines of polygamy, human sacrifice, or killing men to save them, Adam being God, Utah being Zion or the gathering place of the saints, are doctrines of devils”; its headquarters are in Lamoni, Iowa, whither it was removed from Piano, Illinois, in 1881; it has several churches in Canada, the largest being at London, Ontario, and Toronto, and it is the owner of a Temple lot at Kirtland, Illinois. The Temple lot at Independence, Missouri, is owned by the small band of Mormon schismatics (organized in Illinois in 1835) who call themselves “The Church of Jesus Christ,” and are known as Hedrickites; the Utah Church considers Independence as the holy city, and made a large settlement there in 1907.
The general morality of the Mormons seems to have been high for a frontier community; there was no gambling nor drunkenness. The Saints, notably in the time of Brigham Young, were fond of dancing, and the Deseret Dramatic Association was formed and a theatre was built in the early years of the settlement in Utah.
Government.—The Mormon hierarchy is highly complicated. At the head of the body is a president, who possesses supreme authority, and is successor to Joseph Smith, jun., “Seer, Translator, Prophet”; the president is supported by two counsellors. These three are supposed to be the successors of Peter, James and John, constitute what is known as the “first presidency,” seem to typify the Trinity, and are the head of the priesthood of Melchisedec. Then comes the “patriarch,” whose chief duty is to bless and lay on hands, and after him the “twelve apostles,” forming a travelling high council. Of these the president is ex officio one, and endowed with authority equal to the other eleven. Their duties are important. They ordain all other officers, elders, priests, teachers and deacons, 'lead all religious meetings, and administer the rites of baptism and sacrament. The “quorum of the twelve” is second in power to the “quorum of the first presidency,” and acts in case the president dies or is disabled. Fourth come the seven presidents of the “seventies” or “seventies' quorums,” each body comprising seventy elders; there are about 140 seventies in all, each of which has seven presidents, and every seven one president. These seventies make annual reports, and are the missionaries and propagandists of the body. Fifth come the “high priests,” whose chief duty is to officiate in all the offices of the church in the absence of any higher authorities. The priesthood of Melchisedec is made up of the officials just named—president, two counsellors, patriarch, apostles, presidents of seventies, elders and high priests. In the Aaronic priesthood, which is subordinate to the priesthood of Melchisedec, and is occupied rather with temporal affairs, the highest office is that of the presiding bishop, who superintends the collection of tithes; other Aaronic officials are styled priests, teachers and deacons. The Church is made up of about 50 stakes (21 in Utah), each having a presidency (a president and two counsellors), and is divided into wards, which are subdivided into districts, each of which has a certain number of teachers, a meeting-house, Sunday school, day school, and dramatic, debating and literary societies.
Doctrine.—A system of polytheism has been grafted on an earlier form of the creed, according to which there are grades among the gods, the place of supreme ruler of all being taken by the primeval Adam of Genesis, who is the deity highest in spiritual rank, while Christ, Mahomet, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young also partake of divinity. The business of these deities is the propagation of souls to people bodies begotten on earth, and the sexual relation permeates the creed. The saints on leaving this world are deified, and their glory is in proportion to the number of their wives and children; hence the necessity and justification of polygamy (although its practice is not now authorized by the Church), and the practice of having many wives sealed to one saint. Marriage, if accompanied by the ecclesiastical ceremony of “sealing,” is for eternity, and is a necessary pre-requisite to heavenly bliss. A man may be sealed to any number of women, but no woman may be sealed to more than one man. Both marriage and sealing by proxy are permitted to assure salvation to women who die unsealed. This system of spiritual wives or celestial marriage is based on the idea that a woman cannot be saved except through her husband. Polygamous marriage is supposed to make possible the procreation of enough bodies for thousands of spirits which have long awaited incarnation. Especially in their earlier years the Mormons believed in faith healing, and Joseph Smith bade them “trust in God when sick, and live by faith and not by medicine or poison.” Their distinguishing points of faith are: religiously, a belief in a continual divine revelation through the inspired medium of the prophet at the head of the Church; morally, polygamy, though this is condemned in the Book of Mormon, as has been noticed above; and, socially, a complete hierarchical organization. They believe in the Bible as supplemented by the Book of Mormon, the Book of Doctrine, and revelation through the president of the Church; in the gift of prophecy, miracles and casting out devils; in the imminent approach of the end of the world; in their own identity with the apocalyptic saints who shall reign with Christ in a temporal kingdom, either in Missouri (at Independence) or in Utah; in the resurrection of the body; in absolute liberty of private judgment in religious matters; and in the salvation of a man only if he believes in Christ's atonement, repents, is baptized by immersion by a Christ-appointed apostle and receives the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost by duly-authorized apostles. Among their minor rules as laid down in A Word of Wisdom supposed to have been revealed to Joseph Smith (Feb. 27, 1833), are these recommendations: that it is not good to drink wine or strong drink, except at the Lord's Supper (and even then it should be home-made grape-wine), or to use hot drinks or tobacco—the former being meant for the washing of the body and the latter for the healing of bruises and sick cattle; man’s proper food is herbs and fruit; that for beasts and fowls, grain; and, except in winter and in case of famine and severe cold, flesh should not be eaten by man. Infant baptism is also condemned, but the children of saints who have reached their eighth year should be baptized. The deceased, also, can be baptized by proxy, and in this way—“baptism for the dead” (1 Cor. xv. 29)—Washington, Franklin and others have been vicariously baptized into the Church, since, according to the Mormons, there was no valid baptism between the time of the corruption of the primitive Church and the establishment of the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
Bibliography.—The Book of Mormon, first printed in 1830, has
been reprinted and translated frequently. Smith also wrote a
History of Joseph Smith, being extracts from his journal, published
in 1842–1846 in Times and Seasons, a church periodical, and a
Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ
(Zion, Jackson county, Missouri, 1833), and “compiled” a Book
cf Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints
(Kirtland, Ohio, 1835, and often reprinted); and The Pearl of Great
Price: Being a choice Selection from the Revelations, Translations
and Narratives of Joseph Smith, First Prophet, and Revelator to the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Liverpool, 1851; Salt
Lake City, 1891). The best bibliographies are in H. H. Bancroft’s
History of Utah (San Francisco, 1889), vol. xxi. of the History of the
Pacific States of North America, in which the effort to avoid bias
against the Mormons has made the work biassed in their favour,
and in I. Woodbridge Ri
iey’s The Founder of Mormonism, a
Psychological Study of Joseph Smith, Jr. (New York, 1902), the first
inquiry by a trained psychologist into Smith’s case. More important
than either of these works is William Alexander Linn’s The Story
of the Mormons from the Date of their Origin to the Year 1901 (New
York, 1902); Linn, unlike Riley, thinks it proved that Rigdon used
the “Spaulding manuscript” in the preparation of the Book of
Mormon. E. W. Tullidge’s History of Salt Lake City (Salt Lake
City, 1886) and Orson F. Whitney’s History of Utah (4 vols., Salt
Lake City, 1892–1898) are valuable general works by Mormon
writers; the leaders of the Reorganized Saints, Joseph Smith III
and Herman C. Smith, wrote A History of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Lamoni, Iowa, 1901); and Tullidge, a
member of the same branch, wrote a Life of Joseph the Prophet
(Piano, Illinois, 2nd ed., 1880). Edward H. Anderson’s Brief History
of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (3rd ed., 1905) and J. E. Talmage’s
Story of Mormonism (reprinted, 1907) are regarded by Mormons
as authentic. Early attacks oh Mormonism are E. D. Howe’s
Mormonism Unveiled (Painesville, Ohio, 1834) and Pomeroy Tucker’s
Origin and Progress of the Mormons (New York, 1867). And among
works descriptive of Mormonism in Utah written by Gentiles the
more important are: History of the Mormons of Utah: their Domestic
Polity and Theology (Philadelphia, 1852), by Lieut. J. W. Gunnison
of the U.S. Topographical Engineers, who took part in surveys
preliminary to building a transcontinental railway; Utah and the
Mormons (New York, 1854), by B. G. Ferris, secretary of Utah
Territory in 1852–1853; Horace Greeley, Overland Journey from New
York to San Francisco in 1859 (New York, 1860); Jules Remy,
Journey to Great Salt Lake City (London, 1861); and The City of the
Saints, and across the Rocky Mountains to California (London,
1861), by Richard F. Burton, who spent a month in Salt Lake
City in 1860. There is much valuable material in the Reports of
the Utah Commission appointed under the Edmunds Act, in Testimony
before the Senate Committee in the Smoot case (1903–1905),
and in the Report of the Committee on Privileges and Elections
(Senate Report 4253, 59th Congress, 1st Session), also in the Smoot
- Martin Harris took a copy in Smith's hand of certain “caractors” (so Smith spelled it) to Dr Anthon, who at first thought it “a hoax upon the learned,” but, after hearing the story of the diamond spectacles and that Harris had been asked to pay for the publication of the book, said that it was a fraud on Harris. He recognized the miscellaneous and haphazard nature of the “caractors,” of which facsimiles are given by Riley, p. 81, and Linn, p. 40. Riley thinks that the “caractors” were automatic writing, and that “unconscious cerebration played a large part in the evolving of the gold plate scheme.”
- More than a dozen years afterwards Smith, when asked if “Mormon” was not connected with the Greek word for “hobgoblin” (“Mormo” is thus used in 17th-century English), explained that it meant “more good,” from the “Egyptian mon,” “with the addition of more, or the contraction mor.”
- It was supposed that Sidney Rigdon had been a compositor in a Pittsburg printing-office, that he had stolen Spaulding's manuscript from this office, or had made a surreptitious copy of it, and that he entered into a plot with Smith to use this material for a new Bible. In support of this are vague stories of a mysterious visitor to Smith at the time he was making his translation; and the argument that Smith did not, and Rigdon did, know enough to get the book in shape. But there is no actual proof that Rigdon lived in Pittsburg or was employed in a printer's shop there as early as when Spaulding's “copy” must have been left with the printer; and there is no evidence that Rigdon knew anything of Mormonism until after the publication of The Book of Mormon. The discovery by Professor J. H. Fairchild, in 1884, in Honolulu of a manuscript romance by Spaulding (now in the library of Oberlin College, Ohio), which did not agree at all in style or matter with The Book of Mormon, does not entirely settle the matter, as this romance is so different in character from the story read by Spaulding to some of his friends in 1811-1812, that if it was really Spaulding's, it must have been a later work than The Manuscript Found. Even, however, if it be true that Smith used Spaulding's story, his own additions to it must have been large, for parts of the Book seem autobiographic, and one incident seems to be based on the anti-Masonic excitement prevalent in New York state after the disappearance of William Morgan in 1826—ten years after the death of Solomon Spaulding.
- Rigdon had formerly been well known and respected in Hiram, which was a stronghold of the Disciples; there he had taught Latin and Greek to the father of Mrs James Abram Garfield.
- Young received at this time the title of “The Lion of the Lord”; Lyman Wright and Parley Pratt, who also became apostles, were called respectively “The Wild Ram of the Mountains” and “The Archer of Paradise.”
- The existence of this organization has been denied by Mormons, but there is abundant evidence that it did exist. See Linn, pp. 212-214, and Bancroft, pp. 124-126; the latter, friendly to the Mormons, says (p. 124) that of the existence of the Danites “there is no question.”
- One of the early charges against the Mormons in Missouri was that they invited free negroes and mulattoes to settle with them; and this rather than any disgust at their religious teachings may have been the first source of opposition to them.
- Such solecisms are not infrequent in the Mormon Bible.
- Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, and others of the Twelve were campaigning for Smith's candidacy for president of the United States, a campaign which he had undertaken because neither Henry Clay nor John C. Calhoun would give him satisfactory pledges as to the attitude he would take toward the Mormons if elected president.
- Rigdon attempted, with brief success, to establish in Pittsburg a Church of Christ, independent of the Latter Day Saints, but based on much the same plan. He spent his last years at Friendship, Allegany county, New York.
- There is no positive proof that this massacre was ordered by the authorities. John Doyle Lee, who was executed in 1877 for the massacre, was a prominent Mormon, had been “adopted” as a spiritual son of Brigham Young in Nauvoo, was one of the founders of Provo and other Mormon settlements in southern Utah, a probate judge, afterwards a member of the Territorial legislature, and his statement implicates the Church. Lee said that he was sacrificed to justice. The only charge against the immigrants seems to have been that they were from Arkansas, and that all Arkansans had forfeited their lives because it was in Arkansas (near Van Buren) that Parley Parker Pratt, the Mormon Isaiah, was killed on the 13th of May 1857 by Hector H. McClean, with whose wife Pratt had eloped. It seems probable that sentiment was aroused against the Arkansans by false stories of their poisoning wells, burning fences, &c.
- Buchanan's message (Dec. 8, 1857) stating that Young and his followers apparently intended “to come into collision with the government of the United States” and his sending troops to Utah were considered by his critics as attempts to create an issue which would overshadow the slavery question and to draw away from the army an important force.
- This act, introduced by Luke Potter Poland (1815-1887) of Vermont, was bitterly opposed by the Congressional delegate from Utah, George Q. Cannon (1827-1901), an Englishman by birth, a prominent Mormon missionary in Hawaii and Great Britain, and Parley P. Pratt's successor as apostle. He had been elected in 1872, and there was a long fight to prevent his being seated because he was a polygamist.
- Woodruff was born in Connecticut, became a Mormon in 1832, in 1839 was made an apostle, in 1840 and in 1845 was a missionary to England, preached throughout the United States; wrote Leaves from my Journal (1881), and was called in the Church “Wilford the Faithful.”
- In 1831 the Order of Enoch, or United Order, was established, providing for a community of goods; when the people proved unable to keep this law, the “lesser law of tithing” was given to them in 1838.