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IN the Saints' Herald for January 1, 1879, there appeared an article from the pen of Elder William B. Smith, brother of Joseph Smith the Martyr, from which we quote. After speaking of the people in Utah denying the divinity of Christ and substituting the Adam-god theory, he states:
Joseph Smith, to my personal knowledge, never taught any such doctrine. While reading over a few lines of that forged revelation on the wife doctrine, I thought it singularly strange that your father could have given utterance to such ideas of blood and murder, when in all his lifetime, his example and teachings were so contrary, or reversed to such teachings. No man, from my personal knowledge, was more devoted to his wife and children than Joseph Smith; nor could he for one single moment have penned a law, or given utterance to a rule that would, under any circumstances whatever, have deprived them of life. Nor did Joseph Smith ever predict that the time would come, that it would be lawful to murder apostates; or to destroy rebellious women, because they refused to become polygamous wives, or to submit to such rules of barbarism. Any one acquainted with the real character of Joseph Smith, on the subject of family relation, would know, at the first glance, that that monster revelation was a forgery and a fraud of the blackest dye, palmed off upon the name and character of the prophet. Twice in my history I journeyed with my brother Joseph to Missouri as his life guard; once in
the camp of the Saints, and once in company with your Uncle Hyrum, Vincent Knight, and Elder Rigdon; and up to only a few days previous to his death, I was in close council, more or less, with your father; and never in all this familiar association with him, did I ever hear him hint or say that he had received a polygamous revelation. And, from these, and other facts that I might name, I pronounce that polygamous revelation a base and wicked forgery, the intent of which, like the oaths and covenants that apostates administer in their humbug endowments, was to better enable these usurpers and conspirators to sustain themselves in their apostasy, and illgotten power.
On January 6 the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed the constitutionality of the anti-polygamy law of Congress enacted in 1862, 1 and confirmed the sentence of the lower courts upon George Reynolds of Utah who had been convicted under this act.
The decision in the Reynolds case was as follows:
The question is, whether religious belief can be accepted as justification of an overt act, made criminal by the law of the land. The inquiry is not as to the power of Congress to prescribe criminal laws for the Territories, but as to the guilt of one who knowingly violates a law which has been properly enacted, he entertaining a religious belief that the law is wrong.
1An act to punish and prevent the practice of Polygamy in the Territories of the United States and other places, and disapproving and annulling certain Acts of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, That every person having a husband or wife living, who shall marry any other person, whether married or single, in a Territory of the United States, or other place over which the United States have exclusive jurisdiction, shall, except in the cases specified in the proviso to this section, be adjudged guilty of bigamy, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, and by imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years: Provided, nevertheless, That this section shall not extend to any person by reason of any former marriage whose husband or wife by such marriage shall have been absent for five successive years without being known to such person within that time to be living; nor to any person by reason of any former marriage which shall have been dissolved by the decree of a competent court; nor to any person by reason of any former marriage which shall have been annulled or pronounced void by the sentence or decree of a competent court on the ground of the nullity of the marriage contract.
Section 2. And be it further enacted, That the following ordinance of the provisional government of the state of Deseret, so called, namely: "An ordinance incorporating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," passed February 8th, in the year 1851, and adopted, re-enacted and made valid by the governor and legislative assembly of the territory of Utah by an act passed January 19, in the year 1855, entitled "An act in relation to the compilation and revision of the laws and resolutions in force in Utah Territory, their publication, and distribution," and all other acts and parts of acts heretofore passed by the said legislative assembly of the territory of Utah, which establish, support, maintain, shield, or countenance polygamy, be, and the same hereby are, disapproved and annulled: Provided, That this act shall be so limited and construed as not to affect or interfere with the right of property legally acquired under the ordinance heretofore mentioned, nor
Congress can not pass a law for the government [of ] the Territories which shall prohibit the free exercise of religion. The first amendment to the Constitution expressly forbids such legislation. Religious freedom is guaranteed everywhere throughout the dominion of the United States, so far as congressional interference is concerned. The question to be determined is, whether the law now under consideration comes within this prohibition. The word "religion" is not defined in the Constitution. We must go elsewhere therefore to ascertain its meaning; and nowhere more appropriately, we think, than to the history of the times in the midst of which the provision was adopted. The precise point of inquiry is, What is the religious freedom that has been guaranteed? In the preamble of the Act introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates by Jefferson in 1775, religious freedom is defined, and after reciting "that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his power into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty." It is declared "that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when the principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order." In these two sentences is found the true distinction of what properly belongs to the church and what to the state. In a little more than a year after the passage of this statute the convention met which prepared the Constitution of the United States. Five of the States, while adopting the Constitution, proposed amendments. Three-New Hampshire, New York, and Virginia-included, in one form or another, a declaration of religious freedom in changes they desired to have made, as did also North Carolina, where the convention at first declined to ratify the Constitution until the proposed amendments were acted upon. Accordingly, at the first session of the First Congress an amendment was under consideration. It was proposed, with others, by Mr. Madison. It met the views of the advocates of religious freedom and was adopted. Jefferson afterward, in reply to an address to him by a committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, took occasion to say: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for the faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature
with the right "to worship God according to the dictates of conscience," but only to annul all acts and laws which establish, maintain, protect, or countenance the practice of polygamy, evasively called spiritual marriage, however disguised by legal or ecclesiastical solemnities, sacraments, ceremonies, consecrations, or other contrivances.
Section 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall not be lawful for any corporation or association for religious or charitable purposes to acquire or hold real estate in any territory of the United States during the existence of the territorial government of a greater value than $50,000; and all real estate acquired or held by any such corporation or association contrary to the provisions of this act shall be forfeited and escheat to the United States: Provided, That existing vested rights in real estate shall not be impaired by the provisions of this section. Approved July 1, 1862.-The Saints' Herald, vol. 28, p. 35.
should make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. Adhering to the expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore man to all his natural rights in opposition to his social duties." Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order. From that day to this we think it may safely be said, there never has been a time, in any state of the Union, when polygamy has not been an offense against society, cognizable by the civil courts and punishable with more or less severity. In the face of all this evidence it is impossible to believe that the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom was intended to prohibit legislation in respect to this most important element in social life-marriage: while from its very nature the sacred obligation is, nevertheless, in most civilized nations, a civil contract, and usually regulated by law. Upon it society may be said to be built, and out of its fruits spring the social relations and social obligations and duties with which the Government is required to deal. In fact, according as monogamous or polygamous marriages are allowed do we find the principles on which the government of a people to a greater or less extent rests. An exceptional colony of polygamists, under exceptional leaders, may sometimes exist for a time without appearing to disturb the social condition of the people who surround it; but there can not be a doubt that, unless restricted by some form of constitution, it is within the legitimate scope of the power of every civil government to determine whether polygamy or monogamy shall be the law of social life under its dominion. In our opinion the statute immediately under consideration is within the legislative power of Congress. It is constitutional and valid as prescribing the rule of action for all those residing in the Territories and in places over which the United States have exclusive control. This being so, the only question which remains is, whether those who make polygamy a part of their religion are excepted from the operation of the statute. If they are, then those who do not make polygamy a part of their religious belief may be found guilty and punished, while those who do, must be acquitted and go free. This would be introducing a new element into our criminal law. Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they can not interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. Suppose one religiously believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship, would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent the sacrifice? Or, if a wife religiously believed it was her duty to burn herself upon the funeral pile of her dead husband, would it be beyond the
power of the civil government to prevent her carrying her belief into practice? So, here, society under the exclusive dominion of the United States prescribes as the law of its organization that plural marriages shall not be allowed. Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land; and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances. Criminal intent is a necessary element of crime; but every man is presumed to intend the necessary and legitimate consequences of what he knowingly does. Here the accused knew that he had been once married and that his first wife was living. He also knew that his second marriage was forbidden by law. When, therefore, he married the second time, he is presumed to have intended to break the law, and the breaking of the law is crime. Every act necessary to constitute a crime was knowingly done, and the crime was therefore knowingly committed. Ignorance of a fact may sometimes be taken as evidence of a want of criminal intent, but not ignorance of law. The only defense of the accused in this case, is his belief that the law ought not to have been enacted. It matters not that his belief was a part of his religion; it was still a belief, and belief only. Upon a careful consideration of the whole case, we are satisfied that no error was committed by the court below, and judgment is consequently affirmed.
Elder William Nelson, who had been in the Society Islands for a time in 1878, returned to America because he was not permitted to remain only a specified time without a permit, and he had failed to obtain one. Sometime in January he wrote from Oakland, California, that he intended to again return to the Islands.
On January 20, Elder D. S. Mills wrote his resignation as president of the Pacific Slope Mission. It was published in Herald for March 1, but no action taken until the ensuing General Conference in April.
A notice was published in the Herald for February 1, of a Sr. Delano, of Indian River, Maine, being healed of quick consumption, under the administration of Elders J. C. and E. C. Foss, after the doctor had given her up to die. Such cases were frequently reported, and well attested, but we have not space to mention all.
The following from the pen of Elder A. H. Smith is interesting in connection with well known history:
I left home February 1, and met Bro. J. T. Kinneman at the depot in Stewartsville, on his way to conference of Far West District. I accompanied him and near the place of my nativity I met the Saints, among whom I found Uncle William. It was with peculiar feelings that I joined in the business of the conference; and these feelings were intensified when I was called upon to speak, and subsequently to baptize in the immediate neighborhood of my birthplace, whence forty years ago, my father and mother were driven by mob violence. I could not help thinking that God in his own time and way was preparing for the return from exile those who are faithful, to their land of promise, and my heart was soft, my trust strengthened in the work.-The Saints' Herald, vol. 26, p. 89.
March 19, the Bluff Creek Branch was organized in Jackson County, Mississippi, by Elder Heman C. Smith and Priest James Falk. This was a new place, the faith of the church having first been presented in the place by these ministers five weeks previous to the organization. The branch was composed of twelve members; R. M. King presiding priest, Simeon Cochrane teacher.
On March 30,1879, a mass meeting was held on the Temple Lot at Far West, Missouri. The meeting was addressed by Elder William B. Smith, and some preambles and resolutions adopted. 2
2Whereas, The Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints was expelled from the state of Missouri in 1838-39, by executive authority under mob rule; and, Whereas, The church of the Saints having entered many thousand acres of land for which they paid their money in silver and gold, in this county of Caldwell; and, Whereas, The Saints after having expended hundreds of thousands of dollars in the purchase of lands, making improvements, building houses, and devoting much labor in opening new farms among strangers, and in a strange land; and, Whereas, According to the sacred order of our church government, we, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, assembled here to-day en masse, do most sincerely regret our losses, and the great sacrifice of life and property, that fell to the lot of the Church that we are here to-day to represent; and, Whereas, We, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, esteem this spot of earth sacred; this Temple Lot where lies this corner-stone, that was laid with honors due to the sacredness of those church rights and ordinances, wherein the worship and name of God are revered; not only in temples built with human hands, but honored and revered in the hearts of all men who are true believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ; and, Whereas, This corner-stone was laid here on this Temple Lot, over forty years ago, and consecrated to God by solemn prayer; and at a time when the blood of the Saints was made to drench this Missouri soil, in a land of boasted freedom, and yet by mob rule the Church of Christ was driven to seek an asylum in a more congenial clime; and, Whereas, The principal causes that led to this expulsion of the Saints from this county, of Caldwell and state of Missouri, have ceased to exist, since the emancipation of slaves, from the State; and, Whereas, A more civilized spirit has taken possession of the masses of the people of the state Of Missouri; therefore,
Resolved, That this meeting of the citizens of Caldwell County and Church of Jesus
The annual General Conference for 1879 convened at Plano, Illinois, April 6; Presidents Joseph Smith and W. W. Blair presided; Elder H. A. Stebbins, secretary; John Scott, assistant.
On the second day of the conference the First Presidency presented the following:
To the Reorganized Church, in Conference Assembled, at Plano, Illinois, April 6,1879, Greeting:
The Presidency, in pursuance of duty, respectfully submit the following:
1. THE AUSTRALIAN MISSION. We are advised that Bro. Glaud Rodger has already left Sydney for his home. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that he be succeeded by one or more efficient elders.
2. THE SOCIETY ISLANDS. Bro. William Nelson, who was last year authorized to go to these Islands, did go. He also placed in the Bishop's hands, two hundred dollars, to be used for this mission. In the course of the few months past, Bro. Nelson returned to California, he having remained on the Island of Tahiti as long as he could safely without an official permit, which he could not obtain as an officer of the church. After his return to Oakland, California, he requested a return of the two hundred dollars, he then being out of work and without means. This was done, and not long since we were informed that he had again started to the Islands, all of which has been at his own expense, unless the withdrawal of the two hundred dollars may be otherwise accounted.
During his stay of three months upon Tahiti, he was at Tiona for the greater part of the time, and when he left there he had added some thirty to the church, which now numbers eighty-one, and had succeeded in imparting valuable instruction upon church government to the branch there. From a letter directed to Bro. T. W. Smith, we learn that the one
Christ, invite our brethren in the East and elsewhere, to emigrate to this land and secure their inheritances in Zion, by purchase; and, further,
Resolved, That we, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are a separate and distinct class of worshipers from that body of Mormons located in Utah, known as the polygamic Mormons; and, further,
Resolved, That we, as the true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, deem it proper that we embody in these resolutions, for the benefit of our neighbors, and the world of mankind generally, the fact, that we, as a church, have no fellowship whatever for that class of people, as we regard them as apostates from the faith; and therefore not worthy the confidence of any people. And, further,
Resolved, That these resolutions and the minutes of this meeting be sent to the "Herald" Office, at Plano, Illinois, with the request that they be published in the "Herald" for the benefit of the Saints abroad; as there is now a good time for those who wish to locate near the temple ground, on easy and cheap terms for obtaining farms. There are also splendid locations near the city of Far West that are now for sale, that have not been moved by the plow for many years. And for timber there is plenty of it; and water. Come, then, ye Saints of latter days, and possess the goodly land by purchase, and none to molest or make you afraid.
who had been left there by Brn. Wandell and Rodger, who spoke English, had gone away from the Island, and that the presiding elder left in charge had been deposed and severed for sufficient reasons.
There are a number of islands adjacent to Tahiti, upon which Bro. Nelson reports numbers of believers, and deems it of importance to try to obtain a hearing upon them. He intends making the effort.
3. THE ENGLISH MISSION. From reports received we deem it essential that a change be made in the presidency of the Welsh Mission, and suggest the name of John R. Gibbs. We also think it important that, if the church is now prepared to meet the expense, there should be an active elder sent, who can stay for two years at the least.
4. THE DANISH MISSION. Bro. Peter N. Brix is trying to do a good work, and it is necessary that some one be sent to aid him, or to take up the work where he may leave it.
The Presidency attempted to supply one to this mission, but failed, for obvious reasons.
5. THE CALIFORNIA MISSION. Bro. D. S. Mills has resigned the presidency of this mission, and we recommend that Bro. Joseph F. Burton be appointed in his stead. Bro. Mills has been very faithful in his service, and his resignation was advised by President Joseph Smith, for causes of a local character, affecting the progress of the work in some localities, but not affecting the character of Bro. Mills. In this connection we regret to state that the health of Bro. Mills has failed him, and, as informed by Bro. H. P. Brown, it is feared that he will soon pass beyond the river. He is an estimable man and full of sympathy and noble resolution. It is fair to state that many of the branches are opposed to his resignation.
6. THE CASE OF BRO. J. W. BRIGGS. The resolution of the semiannual conference, authorizing the Presidency to call a proper council, before which the question at issue might be placed, seemed to point out the necessity of some other body than any that had been named in connection with it. In pursuance of this view, correspondence was had with Elder Briggs, in regard to the number and composition of said council, and it was soon apparent that the only course left to the Presidency, was to issue a general call to the class of officers from which such council could be chosen, to assemble at the present session, with the intention then to perform the duty imposed by said resolution. Subsequently to this call we learned that in all probability Elder Briggs would not be able to attend. Later still, we have received an article from Elder Briggs, which will be laid before you for action. Your action in the premises will dispose of our duty. Other explanation will be made if found necessary. . . .
8. THE UTAH MISSION. It appears that under all the circumstances now surrounding this mission, it should be vigorously prosecuted. The position hitherto assumed by the Reorganization is coming into prominent notice, and the time for a strong effort is at the doors. We deem it wise that the chapel in Salt Lake City should be finished at an early date.
The prospects in the general field are good, so far as open doors and opportunities for the preaching of the word are concerned. In some districts there has been a marked increase in membership, and a corresponding increase in spiritual growth. In other districts a series of continued disputes have weakened the influence of the working elders, and injured the spiritual growth of all. These disputes have grown out of several disturbing causes, chief among which is the absolute failure of differing brethren to submit to the decisions of the councils to which they have appealed, some invariably charging injustice and corruption either in the composition of the council, or in the processes of conducting inquiries by the officers of the church, in case they are found in fault. In some others, offenses are seriously aggravated by constant bickering over causes that have been adjudicated, but which are revived at successive periods of time, settlement not being followed by forgiveness from the offended. These difficulties reflect discredit upon the parties to them, and many have employed the best wisdom of the church, to little avail; and it is with great regret that we see them occur again and again in the same branches and districts, and are compelled to hear over and over again the tales of injury which inquiry upon our part has failed to confirm in many cases. We are of the opinion that the attention of officers and people in the church should be more constantly and actively engaged in the acquirement of personal gospel graces than in bringing real or supposed offenders against the law to judgment. We believe there has been quite too much factious "cutting off" of members where kindly forbearance and ministerial counsel would have saved them; we therefore advise as of the utmost importance that the ministry do not lend their influence to this spirit of disintegration any longer, we protest against it as beneath the dignity of their calling.
We cheerfully commend the brethren of the organized districts to the conference for their indorsement [endorsement] and support, and trust that the reports will bear out our statement of fair increase both in numbers and spirituality.
PLANO, Illinois, April 6, 1879. W. W. BLAIR.
The following document was presented by the President by request of Elder Jason W. Briggs:
To the Elders and Church in General Conference Assembled; Brethren:At the session of the late semiannual conference, it was voted to "Request the First Presidency to appoint a court to try the case of J. W. Briggs, on the charges made against him at this session of conference." Said charges being a revision of what purports to be reasons for not sustaining at the preceding semiannual conference, which "reasons" were by committee presented to J. W. Briggs, and his answer furnished them, which, with their own report, were submitted to the late annual conference, when the whole case was referred to another committee, composed of the Quorum of the Twelve, and by them reported upon, after which,
the conference, in compliance with the recommendation of this last committee, voted as follows: "That it is the sense of this conference that he (J. W. Briggs) be relieved from the odium attached to his name as an officer of the church, that he may labor in his exalted calling."
Now, therefore, I respectfully demur to the act of the late semiannual conference, aforesaid, on the following grounds:
First. That it is unjust, and subversive of the elements of all just government, to put in jeopardy twice for the same cause, or alleged offense.
Second. That it ignores, or violates a rule and usage of the church, in respect to quorums, that their members ought to first, in case of grievance or accusation, be heard by their respective quorums.
Third. That the First Presidency are not authorized to appoint a court to try the said case, the church being governed by law, and not by the viva voce order of a conference.
Fourth. That the aforesaid charges, based upon published articles (except the last), in which the several questions embraced were discussed, from a Bible, Book of Mormon, and book of Doctrine and Covenants standpoint, are in antagonism to the declared liberality of the church, before the world, and tends to repress investigation, and thus block the way of progress in the discovery of new truth.
Fifth. That the added charge to the revised list before mentioned, of denying "the law of tithing," is based upon remarks upon a resolution on that subject in open conference, and violates parliamentary rules, forbidding the calling in question elsewhere, words (or sentiments) spoken in debate.
Without multiplying further objections to the act of the semiannual conference in my case, I respectfully request at your hands, the consideration due the subject involved, and to myself the simplest justice. I ask first, that the act of the semiannual conference, before mentioned, be by you rescinded, and an affirming the act of the late annual conference, before mentioned; or, second, so far modify said act of the semiannual conference as to refer the whole subject to the Quorum of the Twelve, in their capacity of a presiding high council. To this high council I appeal, and from church usage, might and do demand, as a right, to be heardbefore that council.
While I do this, I am sensible that the action of the quorum in this case is not final, necessarily, I feel it to be the first legitimate step toward such a finality, a consummation equally desirable to me and the church.
It is not inconsistent with the foregoing to further represent to you upon the whole matter, that for twenty-six years I have watched the germinating and progress of the Reorganization with an interest exceeding that of any other subject, and have sustained a relation to it, in some respects unshared by any, and during this whole period up to the present, I have sought to promote its best interest, by a thorough canvass of all subjects relating to it, and especially in respect to the published articles
complained of, my intent and whole design was to discriminate, and stimulate others to do the same, between truth and error, between the rational and the fanciful, or the fanatical. And still further, I call attention to an obvious fact, if the same course is pursued toward all others who differ from somebody else, it will result in generating hypocrisy, as a defense against accusation, or divide every branch and every quorum in the church. To God, the heart searcher, I commend his truth and his work, and invoke his blessing and divine inspiration upon your sittings.
I remain in hope,
J. W. BRIGGS.
-The Saints' Herald, vol. 26, p. 130.
The paper of Elder Briggs was subsequently taken up and referred to the Quorum of Twelve. After consideration they reported as follows:
Whereas, We deem it impracticable (because illegal) in the absence of the accused, he not having been notified to appear, to prosecute the trial of J. W. Briggs, at the present session of conference; therefore,
Resolved, That said trial be deferred to the semiannual conference of 1879, and that all parties concerned be notified to appear then and there before this council.
A. H. SMITH, President pro tem.
J. CAFFALL, Secretary pro tem.
This was adopted.
Missionary labor was reported by Josiah Ells, J. H. Lake, J. R. Lambert, T. W. Smith, James Caffall, W. H. Kelley, Charles Derry, W. B. Smith, R. C. Elvin, M. H. Froscutt, Jackson Goodale, C. G. Lanphear, J. C. Foss, B. V. Springer, J. H. Hansen, Robert Davis, J. T. Davies, J. S. Patterson, J. F. McDowell, Duncan Campbell, James McKiernan, Heman C. Smith, E. C. Brand, E. M. Wildermuth, Magnus Fyrando, J. C. Clapp, R. J. Anthony, M. T. Short, C. N. Brown, D. H. Bays, A. J. Cato, J. W. Bryan, Ralph Jenkins, W. T. Bozarth, G. T. Griffiths, Columbus Scott, R. M. Elvin, Joseph Luff, G. S. Yerrington, J. T. Phillips, J. L. Adams, J. M. Wait, and J. J. Cornish.
The reports of these ministers represented labor done in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Michigan, Canada, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Florida, Utah, Idaho, California, New York, and Texas.
The following missions reported: English, Utah, and Australian.
Reports were presented from districts as follows: London, Canada; Florida; Kewanee, Illinois; Northern Illinois; Pittsfield, Illinois; Southeastern Illinois; Decatur, Iowa; Des Moines, Iowa; Gallands Grove, Iowa; Little Sioux, Iowa; Pottawattamie, Iowa; String Prairie, Iowa; Central Kansas; Spring River, Kansas; Eastern Maine; Massachusetts; Michigan; Central Missouri; Far West, Missouri; Independence, Missouri; Nodaway, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Central Nebraska; Northern Nebraska; Southern Nebraska; Pittsburg [Pittsburgh], Pennsylvania; Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania; West Wisconsin. Reports showed general activity and progress.
Church Recorder's report showed a net increase of eleven hundred sixteen, with several missions and districts not heard from.
The Bishop reported receipts, including balance in hand at last report, $4,921.01; expended, $3,657.88; leaving balance in his hand of $1,263.13. He also reported a net balance in hands of agents of $257.42.
Elder Z. H. Gurley, of the Twelve, presented the following:
To the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saintsin Conference Assembled, Holden at Plano, Illinois, April 6, 1879; Greeting: Whereas, At your last semiannual conference, the church adopted and affirmed the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants" as a "standard" of faith to the church; and believing that all who represent her should now accept all the revelations contained therein, and that the church so enjoins and expects them so to teach; and, Whereas, Before God I can not consistently subscribe to that position, or feature of faith, I hereby offer you my resignation as an officer in the church, and pray you to accept the same and grant me an honorable release. In 1870, I think, I fasted and prayed for two days in relation to this same matter; and though I was blessed with spiritual food, I received no evidence in relation to that book. After a severe mental struggle for one, two, or three years, I felt to tolerate until time should make all right, but I have waited in vain.
Some five or six weeks since, my mind was led to reconsider the matter, and since that date it has continued with me both night and day-and with prayer and supplication to God I arrived at the following conclusions, before I heard or knew what the action of your last conference was upon this subject; and this, too, without any influence whatever from any one. Entirely alone I wrestled early and late.
I despise duplicity in religion, and I propose being honest with God,
the church, and myself; and when I read the action of the conference referred to, I felt constrained to "come to the front" and take a position, so I submit the following reasons why I should be released:
First. I have reasons for believing that section 26 in the original was but the first paragraph and nearly three lines in our present edition, the rest being added after the publication of the first edition; which I object to.
Second. I reject the inspiration of paragraph 6, section 64; paragraph 5, section 100; paragraph 1, section 101; paragraphs 5 and 8, section 102; and seriously doubt the entire sections.
Third. I reject the "Order of Enoch," as not being applicable to us, and all the various fictitious names in section 101, and elsewhere.
Fourth. I reject the local Zion, or gathering in the Doctrine and Covenants, but confess the general gathering as taught in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and also in parts of Doctrine and Covenants.
Fifth. As I know of no law of God either permitting or commanding the establishing of "stakes," and "high councils" in said stakes, I reject the same as no part of the organization of the Church of Christ. And for the same reasons I reject the "school of the prophets," believing them to be addendas to the gospel and church of our blessed Lord, and their tendency a return to Judaism; and also the office of patriarch.
Sixth. As I reject a local gathering, or Zion, the revelation on tithing is of none effect to me as a law; but the principle of "free-will offering" involved in it, however, I heartily indorse [endorse].
Seventh. I do not believe in baptisms for the dead; hence I reject that doctrine, as also some other features of the revelation of 1841.
I believe that all offices and doctrines which did not obtain under the administration of Christ as shown by the New Testament and Book of Mormon, should be expunged from our faith instead of adopting the same as a "standard."
Eighth. The expression about Joseph Smith in paragraph 3, section 113, I believe to be false, an outrage on good common sense, and unbecoming the church of Christ.
I offer the foregoing reasons why I should be released, without comment; and here let me assure you, that it is the result of mature reflection and calm consideration. However weak my efforts as a minister may have been, I have not one fear to meet the record I have made; and lest I be misunderstood, permit me to assure you that I do confess, and hope I ever shall, the gospel of our blessed Lord as published in the epitome of our faith, but nothing more.
Ever praying that truth may prevail, I am yours for truth,
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, October 15, 1878. Z. H. GURLEY.
This was referred to the Quorum of Twelve. After deliberation the quorum reported as follows:
Resolved, That we believe that the reasons presented by Z. H. Gurley for his resignation as an officer of the church are sufficient ground for the
acceptance of said resignation, therefore we recommend that he receive an honorable release from his official standing in the Church.
Signed, A. H. SMITH, President, pro tem.
JAMES, CAFFALL, Clerk, pro tem.
This was adopted after striking out the word "honorable."
The committee on tune book asked for an extension of time, which was granted.
The Utah chapel building committee presented a financial report to the effect that they had collected eight hundred twenty-two dollars and forty-one cents, which was expended with the exception of forty-three dollars and four cents now in hand.
A letter accompanied this report which was referred to the Bishopric, who subsequently reported as follows:
The financial report of the Utah chapel building committee having been referred to the Bishopric, together with a statement from the chairman of said building committee, that probably fourteen hundred dollars will be needed to finish the building, of which amount he thinks that they in Utah can raise four hundred dollars, if the Saints in the East will supply one thousand dollars, we hereby report that we have considered the matter; and, while we believe it would be for the good of the work to have a house of worship in Salt Lake City, could the money required be readily spared from the funds of the church, or from the contributions of the Saints, over and above other demands upon them, yet we do not feel that we are authorized or at liberty to make such a call as the one contemplated in the letter requesting aid; neither do we believe that it is practicable at present to make a successful call of the kind, in addition to supplying the other needs of the church. Israel L. Rogers, H. A. Stebbins, David Dancer.
This report was adopted.
The following resolution was adopted by unanimous vote: "Resolved, That it is the opinion of this conference that when a member has been legally excommunicated from the church, he can be received back into the fold only through the door, baptism."
The following letter from the Chicago Historical Society was read:
CHICAGO, April 7, 1879.
JOSEPH SMITH, Esq.;
Dear Sir: I write you in behalf of and for the Chicago Historical Society, to thank you for The Saints' Herald, which is sent regularly to
the Society and carefully preserved by us. We hope you will continue to keep this society upon your free list.
I also write to ask if you will do the favor to supply this society with some autograph letters of the principal leaders of your denomination. We would like especially to get some of your father's and his associates during the early history of the church. We want them for preservation, and should you comply with our request, we shall have the letters bound into a volume, and in that way they will be preserved.
Possibly you may be able to secure for us some letters touching the outrageous treatment your people received in Illinois and Missouri, written at the time or thereabout by some victim of that relentless and disgraceful persecution. If you furnish us with anything relative to that outrage, it shall be preserved.
I would be glad to have you call and see our library.
Send by express at our expense.
ALBERT D. HAGER, Librarian.
The Board of Publication was authorized to forward to the society a copy each of Holy Scriptures, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Saints' Harp.
The Quorum of Seventy reported the death of two members of the quorum; namely, Jeremiah Jeremiah and Otis Shumway; and that they had dropped from the quorum D. T. Bronson.
The High Priests' Quorum reported that they had enrolled the names of Justus Morse and William B. Smith on account of former ordinations; and upon recommendation of the quorum Crowell G. Lanphear, Henry A. Stebbins, and David Dancer were ordained high priests; and the ordination of Daniel S. Mills was provided for by requesting Elder H. P. Brown to ordain him. Edward W. Tullidge was ordained an elder and Elder G. S. Yerrington was received into the First Quorum of Elders.
The following was moved by Brn. Kelley and Caffall: "Whereas, Upon examination, it is made to appear that a change in the Board of Publication is necessary, and would be productive of good, therefore, be it Resolved, That the present members of the board be respectfully requested to resign." The movers were by vote ordered to present their objections to the board in writing, which they subsequently did as follows:
1. Object to three men of one quorum occupying such an important position as the Board of Publication, and the whole of the Bishopric are members of the board.
2. The board should be composed of men of the best literary talent, as well as financial ability. The church literature is to be passed upon by the board, such as books, pamphlets, etc.
3. One of the members of the board is already burthened with a multiplicity of offices that imposes too great labor upon one, is not according to the genius of the work, and a bad precedent.
4. The President of the church, by reason of his literary ability, talents, and position, should be a member of that board.
5. Amount of errors that have occurred with the secretary in his books, both in the debit and credit, amounted to about one thousand dollars, but after investigation it has been reduced to about two hundred dollars, loss to the church. We do not know what further investigation may show, as the investigation has not been completed. That since retiring from the house, some ninety-six dollars have been discovered in favor of the secretary, which leaves a balance of about two hundred dollars due the church.
6. Upon reliable authority from men of good business capacity and who have a chance to know, we are informed that the office should be run so as to save at least one thousand dollars per annum from the net proceeds, and that this can be done in justice and right.
7. The selling price of the books and pamphlets is by far greater than should be, as may be seen by comparing the cost price of books with the advertised selling price. . . .
This shows a lack in financial management.
8. The board has had doubts of the competency of one of the employees since 1877, but he is yet retained.
9. Appointed committee of the board some time ago to audit the books, but failed to do so on account of not being convenient. Left work undone that should have been done. . . .
These objections were referred to a committee composed of M. H. Forscutt, J. S. Patterson, and J. W. Gillen, which ,reported as follows:
President and Brethren: Your committee to whom was referred report of brethren moving the resignation of the present Board of Publication, and their reasons therefor, beg to submit the following:
Objection 1. That three men of one quorum, the Bishopric, are members of that board, we hold to be an invalid one, if no specific ground be alleged.
No. 2. We hold to be no objection, as the opposite has never been urged with respect to the board against whom it seems to be urged as an objection.
No. 3. We know of but one member of the board holding a multiplicity of offices, and as he has not complained of the onerous duties thereof, nor
has it been alleged that he in any sense has failed in the performance; and furthermore, he has this day been released from two of those offices, we also hold this objection to be invalid.
No. 4. Your committee agree with, but as the Board of Publication is by the articles of incorporation to be nominated by the Bishop of the church, this should be referred to him.
No. 5. Places both credit and debit as one thousand dollars; this should be divided and credit and debit separately shown; it also claims two hundred dollars loss to the church which we understand the secretary himself is responsible for. The investigation being incomplete, we think the action for reporting such loss till clearly ascertained, a serious error against the brother involved. Still further, the church would in no case suffer loss, as the treasurer, Bro. Dancer, is held responsible.
No. 6. As to the possibility of saving one thousand dollars from the net proceeds, your committee is not prepared to say, as the figures on which to base necessary conclusions are not before us; if there be a reduction of wages, and a corresponding reduction in prices of books, we, however, fail to see how there can be any increase of net gains.
No. 7. The complaint of the vast difference between the cost and selling price of the books, as showing a like lack of financial management, we beg to report that the brethren have given as the cost of some of these works a sum too small, including neither cost of plates nor postage in most instances, nor any of the percentage deductible as an allowance to agents. . . . We think the objection of very doubtful propriety, as presented.
No. 8. The board not being present, and not having heard from them, as a board, we are not prepared to say whether the objection be valid or not.
No. 9. We must leave as we have done No. 8, having no information authoritatively. . .
Your committee, therefore, is unanimously of the opinion that the demand for the resignation of the board is unwarranted, as far as the facts before us could justify such a demand.
This report was adopted after some opposition, and upon separate motion the board was sustained. The following preamble and resolution was adopted:
Whereas, Some fault has been found with the present salaries paid to persons in the Herald Office, therefore be it
Resolved, That the Board of Publication be requested to take the matter under advisement and, if practicable, reduce the wages of employees therein.
Jackson Smith, Mary Smith, and Wells Chase were received into membership upon their former baptism.
The following missions were appointed: Josiah Ells, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, and Virginia. John H. Lake, Central and Southern Illinois and Southeastern Iowa. Joseph R. Lambert, Northern Iowa and Minnesota. T. W. Smith, Eastern States. J. Caffall, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado. W. H. Kelley, Ohio, Indiana, Canada, and Michigan. A. H. Smith, Missouri and Southwestern Iowa. Charles Derry, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota. M. H. Forscutt, wherever opportunity offers as circumstances may permit. Hugh Lytle, S. W. Condit, D. M. Garnet, J. C. Crabb, J. M. Harvey, P. Cadwell, W. Baldwin, T. Carrico, J. A. McIntosh, J. W. Chatburn, S. S. Wilcox, G. Sweet, and C. G. McIntosh to labor as circumstances may permit in Western Iowa. H. J. Hudson, G. Derry, in Nebraska as circumstances may permit. R. C. B. Elvin, in present field of labor. John Landers, in Kansas. G. A. Blakeslee, in Berrien County, Michigan, as circumstances may permit. W. H. Hazzeldine and J. Whitehead, in St. Louis District. W. D. Morton and O. P. Dunham, as circumstances permit, in Eastern Iowa. H. P. Brown, in the Pacific Slope Mission. Joseph Parsons and J. Price, in Pittsburg [Pittsburgh] District, in connection with local authorities. T. P. Green, in Southern Illinois District, in connection with local authorities. A. M. Wilsey, in Illinois, in connection with local authorities. William B. Smith, Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. E. C. Brand, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. Duncan Campbell, Southern Iowa and Northern Missouri. B. V. Springer, Southern Indiana, Southern Ohio, and Kentucky, under direction of W. H. Kelley. J. H. Hansen, Southern States Mission. Robert Davis, Michigan. J. T. Davies and M. T. Short, Southwestern Missouri and Southeastern Kansas. J. S. Patterson, Northern Illinois. James McKiernan, in former field, as circumstances may permit. J. T. Phillips, Missouri. J. C. Foss, Maine, with liberty to extend to Rhode Island. J. W. Gillen, to take charge of the Australian Mission. I. N. Roberts, Northern Kansas. J. M. Wait, Northeastern Wisconsin. Joseph Lakeman, Maine and Canada. Heman C. Smith, Southeastern States. Magnus Fyrando, to remain in Utah if health permits. J. C. Clapp, in charge of Oregon and Washington Territory. R. J. Anthony, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. C. N. Brown, New York
and Rhode Island. D. H. Bays, Texas Mission. A. J. Cato, released from Texas Mission. J. W. Bryan, Texas Mission. Ralph Jenkins, released from Texas and appointed to Northwestern Iowa. W. T. Bozarth, Missouri, with privilege to extend to Texas. Gomer Griffiths, Missouri. Columbus Scott, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. R. M. Elvin, Southwestern Iowa, Northeastern Kansas, Southeastern Nebraska, and Northwestern Missouri. Joseph Luff, Indiana, Michigan, and Canada. John J. Cornish, Michigan and Canada. G. S. Yerrington, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. James Brown, Western Virginia and Ohio. Thomas Taylor, President of the European Mission. P. N. Brix, Danish Mission. F. C. Warnky, Colorado. J. L. Adams, present field. E. M. Wildermuth, T. E. Jenkins, and George Hatt, as circumstances permit. C. H. Jones, under direction of A. H. Smith. J. L. Buckingham, to labor in Oregon under direction of J. C. Clapp.
A petition was presented to continue Bro. D. S. Mills in charge of the Pacific Slope Mission. A telegram from there was read, saying that Bro. Mills had been unanimously sustained in that presidency by the conference of that mission held April 6. This choice was ratified.
Bro. William Nelson was sustained in his mission to the Society Islands, and the return of the two hundred dollars to him by Bishop Rogers was sanctioned.
J. F. McDowell was relieved from his appointment.
Bro. Robert Evans was released from the presidency of the Welsh Mission and Bro. J. R. Gibbs was appointed in his place.
All other ministers in good standing were requested to labor as they may find opportunity.
A conference for the Pacific Slope Mission was held at San Francisco, California, April 6, 7, 8; Elders H. P. Brown and J. F. Burton presiding; Peter Canavan and J. R. Cook secretaries. The minutes as published in the Herald indicate that there was much difficulty and ill feeling manifested. The chairman, Elder Brown, and sixteen others, published over their signatures a protest against the publication
of the minutes on the grounds that they were incorrect in several particulars.
On April 22, Elder Joseph Dewsnup wrote from Manchester, England, where the late revolt from Brighamite rule took place, as follows:
We held our district conference here in Manchester on the 13th of April, and we had a glorious time together, the Spirit's power was much felt, and the Saints were strengthened for present as well as future warfare.
On April 30, 1879, at Nauvoo, Illinois, Mrs. Emma Smith Bidamon died. She was one of the most remarkable characters connected with the history of the latter-day work. It is not too much to say that her influence upon husband and sons had much to do with shaping the destiny of the church both during her husband's administration, and in the Reorganization, and as it was said of one of old time she "being dead yet speaketh." That she was highly respected is evident from testimonies left on record. (See volume 1, pages 120 to 122.) She was also loved and honored by the Reorganization; but, as might have been supposed, those against whose acts she ever protested sought to throw discredit upon her reputation.
Soon after the death of her husband a report was circulated that she had renounced the faith her husband taught, and had expressed lack of confidence in his claims. The New York Sun for December 9, 1845, contained a letter over her signature giving expression to these doubts. She promptly wrote the following reply and forwarded it to the Sun:
NAUVOO, December 30, 1845.
To the Editor of the New York Sun; Sir: I wish to inform you, and the public through your paper, that the letter published Tuesday morning, December 9, is a forgery, the whole of it, and I hope that this notice will put a stop to all such communications.
Whether this was published in the Sun or not we do not know; but it was published in Times and Seasons for January 15, 1846. (See volume 6, page 1096.)
That she was loved and trusted by her neighbors who had known her long, and amid the most trying scenes of her
life, is attested by the following obituary from the Nauvoo Independent:
Mrs. Emma Bidamon, whose departure from this life on April 30, we noticed in our last issue, was the daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, and born in the town of Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, July 10, 1804. She remained an inmate of her father's house until January 19, 1827, when she married Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, as it is usually termed. It is stated that Joseph Smith stole her away from her father's house and married her against the advice and wishes of her friends; but whether this is true or not, it appears that after her marriage, her father relented, as fathers usually do, and the runaways returned to her father's farm, where they remained for some two or three years. From there Mrs. Smith removed with her husband to Palmyra, New York, and from there to Kirtland, Ohio, where she was a constant participant in the busy scenes of the church's prosperity and exodus from there. During her stay at Kirtland, her two sons, Joseph and Frederick G. W., were born, of whom Frederick died in Nauvoo, in 1862. From Kirtland, Mrs. Smith went with others to Missouri, living with her husband, first in one county and then in another, till the mobbing in 1838; when, her husband having been taken prisoner and lodged in Liberty Jail, in Ray County, she, with the great mass of the Mormons, was obliged to leave Caldwell County and the state of Missouri. She arrived at Quincy, Illinois, where she and other refugees from violence were kindly received. Here, some six months after his capture, Mrs. Smith was joined by her husband, he having escaped from the custody of his guards, in going from Liberty to another county ostensibly for trial, and not long afterwards, they settled on the Hugh White farm below Commerce, in the building now standing opposite the Riverside Mansion, on the west.
During the five years from their first settling here, Mrs. Smith bore her part in the toils, deprivations, and sickness incident to the settling of a new country. Her son Alexander, was born in her stay in Missouri, and one other, Don Carlos, was born to her in Nauvoo, but died in his infancy. Her husband, Mr. Smith, was killed at Carthage, June 27, 1844, and Mrs. Smith remained at Nauvoo during all the troubles attending the expulsion of the Mormons from the state of Illinois, except the time between September, 1846, and February, 1847, when she, with two or three families that went with her, sojourned at Fulton City, in Whiteside County, in this State. Her youngest son, David Hyrum, was born November 17, 1844, a few months after Mr. Smith's death.
Mrs. Smith was keeping the Nauvoo Mansion, so long the principal hotel of the place, during the year 1847, and here became acquainted with Major Lewis C. Bidamon, one of the new citizens, as they were called, and on December 27, 1847, she was married to him, the Reverend William Hana, brother to the celebrated Reverend Dick Hana, of the M. E. Church, officiating in the marriage ceremony.
Mrs. Bidamon raised her four boys and an adopted daughter, now Mrs. Julia Middleton, to woman and manhood, all of whom, except Frederick before named, now mourn her demise. She was the companion of her first husband for eighteen years, and shared his fortune during the fourteen years of his active ministry; passing through scenes of sorrow and trouble that tested her character to the extreme; and won the esteem of all. She was the wife of Major Bidamon from 1847 to 1879, nearly thirty-two years, and proved herself to be a worthy companion. She was mistress of the Nauvoo Mansion, with the exception of two or three short intervals, from its erection in 1843 till about 1871, when the building fell into the hands of her sons Alexander and David, when she and her husband removed to the Riverside Mansion in a part of what was known as the Nauvoo House, on the river-bank at the foot of Main Street. She was loved and respected by all her neighbors, for her charitable and kind disposition. She was a good and faithful wife, a kind and loving mother, as the expressions of her children and associates will verify. If such a record as she has left does not render a person worthy of a better life beyond, it is difficult to conceive how it can be done.
The body of Mrs. Bidamon was laid in the parlor of the Mansion, where she resided, in the morning after her demise, and in the evening of the same day, was placed in the burial case, where it was constantly watched by Mrs. Middleton, the inmates of the Major's house and a few intimate friends, until the afternoon of Friday, May 2. At twelve m., the friends and relatives of the deceased began to arrive, and at two p. m., the hour set for the services, the rooms were filled, and a large number in attendance who could not find entrance, but stood gathered near the open doors to listen.
The funeral services were in charge of Elder John H. Lake, of Keokuk, Iowa; the sermon was delivered by Elder Joseph A. Crawford, of Burnside, this county; the singing was in charge of Elder Richard Lambert, of Rock Creek Township. There were six bearers, five of whom were nephews of Mrs. Bidamon, sons of sisters of Joseph Smith, her first husband, four of them brothers, named respectively, Solomon J., Alvin, Don C., and Frederick Salisbury, the other nephew Don C. Milikin; the other bearer was Elder D. D. Babcock, of Montrose, Iowa.
After the services were over, the large company filed through the room past the coffin, viewing the face of the deceased as they passed. It was a touching sight to see those citizens so long acquainted with the silent sleeper, while she was living, pausing beside her to take a last look at her peaceful face, so calm amid the grief of the assembly. Now and then one to whom she had been dearer than to others, would caress the extended hand, or gently stooping lay the hand upon the cold face or forehead, some even kissing the pale cheek in an impulse of love and regret. But scenes of grief must pass-the family at length took leave of her whom they had so long known and loved. The coffin lid was put in place, the six bearers raised their burden reverently, and with the mourning train,
passed to the place of interment, upon the premises of her oldest son, near by, where with solemn hymn and fervent prayer the remains were left to their long repose.
The assembly was large; almost every one knew Mrs. Bidamon, some intimately and for many years; some but for a few months, but it is safe to say that the respect, esteem, and love with which she was regarded by all, is but a just tribute to the sterling virtues of the woman, wife, and mother, whom the community so soberly, so sadly, and so tenderly laid away to rest, on that beautiful May day, by the side of the Father of Waters, the mighty Mississippi.
Mrs. Bidamon was a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and her funeral services were conducted by elders and members of that body of believers, and the sermon was indicative of their hopes in the millennium yet to come.
At the close of the sermon, Elder Lake paid a touching tribute of love and respect to Mrs. Bidamon, in a few words expressive of her faith and hope, stated to him a few days before her death. Taken as a whole the funeral was remarkably impressive and tenderly sad.-Nauvoo Independent.
The following indicates the character of the opposition against her life and attitude, together with the defense made by her eldest son, President Joseph Smith:
The Utah Deseret News, for May 21, 1879, in noticing the death of the wife of the Martyr, as announced in the Carthage Republican, of Hancock County, Illinois, adds to the notice as follows:
"To the old members of this church the deceased was well known, as a lady of more than ordinary intelligence and force of character. Her opposition to the doctrine of plural marriage, which, however, she at first embraced, led to her departure from the faith of the gospel as revealed through her martyred husband. She chose to remain at Nauvoo when the Saints left for the West, and in consequence lost the honor and glory that might have crowned her brow as the 'elect lady.'
"She was the mother of four children, all the sons of the Prophet Joseph, viz.: Joseph, now leader of the sect that commonly bears his name, Frederick (deceased), Alexander, and David. It was mainly through her influence that they were led into the by-path wherein they have gone astray. She has now gone behind the vail to await the great day of accounts. There is no feeling of bitterness in the hearts of the Saints toward Sister Emma, but only of pity and sorrow for the course she pursued. May her remains rest in peace."
Mrs. Emma Smith Bidamon, "Sister Emma," has been a singular rock of offense to Brigham Young and to his followers. Her straightforward opposition from which she never swerved, was at its beginning perilous, and afterwards, was evidently more provocative of anger than of pity in those whom she opposed. So far as Sister Emma's having first embraced
the doctrine of plural marriage, from which she afterwards revolted, is concerned, she directly and positively denied having anything to do with it, and, as published elsewhere, placed her testimony on record, that she neither saw nor handled the so-called revelation on celestial marriage; and this she did notwithstanding the statement of President Brigham Young, that she burned the original.3 The fact that this woman maintained her character for truth and integrity to the close of her life, and won a name for good, with the respect of even the enemies of Mormonism, together with the fact that she openly avowed and always stoutly defended her faith in "the faith of the gospel as revealed through her martyred husband," is a sufficient denial of the statement made by the News that she "departed" from that faith. She did what she could to stay the tide of evil that was creeping over the church, and maintained by her testimony and life what she as president; Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Sarah M. Cleveland, counsellors [counselors]; Eliza R. Snow, secretary; and Mary C. Miller, Lois Cutler, Thirza Cahoon, Ann Hunter, Jane Law, Sophia R. Marks, Polly Z. Johnson, Abigail Works, Catherine Petty, Sarah Higbee, Phebe Woodruff, Leonora Taylor, Sarah Hillman, Rosannah Marks, and Angeline Robinson, members of the "Ladies' Relief Society," of Nauvoo, testified to in a certificate published in the Times and Seasons, in October of the year 1842, at the close of an article on marriage, in which the existence of any other system of marriage than the one published in the book of Doctrine and Covenants is denied. (Times and Seasons, volume 3, page 940.) The relief society there named is supposed to have been the original one, of which the "Ladies' Relief Society," of Salt Lake City, is the successor. One distinguishing difference between Sister Emma and some of the others who signed that certificate is, that she maintained her testimony by her subsequent life, while they did not. 4 She was then "the elect lady," and if so because of what she then was, she did right to remain in her then convictions, which she did.
So far as her being the responsible agent of leading her son Joseph, "the leader of the sect which commonly bears his name," astray, is concerned, we have this to state: We were of full age (and we believe of sound mind), when we made the choice that we did. Sister Emma did not use her influence to direct us into the way we chose. That she did approve of it, and gave it her hearty sanction, we admit, and revere her for it; while for the love of honorable deeds, pure life, and hatred of bigotry and oppression, either of dogma or person, that we may have inherited from her, we shall ever feel profoundly grateful. She has indeed '"gone behind the vail," to answer to her account when called, and there those who now have "only pity and sorrow for the course she pursued," may find to their shame that "the elect lady" has not lost "honor and glory;" but that the dauntless and deathless spirit that burned within her when, widowed and bereaved, she dared to raise her voice against
3see volume 3, pages 352, 355.
4see volume 2, page 598.
what she believed to be corrupting and destructive of purity and virtue in woman, will be crowned in celestial life and immortal peace.
We trust, so far as her oldest son is personally concerned, that those against whose principles we are at war, will cease casting the fault of our error and crime (if it be such), in choosing our fate in Mormonism upon her; so far as we can possibly do so, we absolve her from any and all responsibility in the matter, and desire that upon us alone may be visited the punishment due.-The Saints' Herald, vol. 26, p. 200.
On June 15, 1879, Elder M. H. Forscutt delivered a commemorative discourse on the death of "Sister Emma," at Plano, Illinois.
In order to put Oliver Cowdery, the second elder of the church, whose testimony is so interwoven with the early history of the church, correctly on record regarding issues that have divided latter-day Israel, we here record a letter from him to his brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Jackson, as published in Saints' Advocate, May, 1879, in answer to a letter from his sister relating to the existence of polygamy at Nauvoo:
TIFFIN, Seneca County, Ohio, July 24, 1846.
Brother Daniel and Sister Phœbe: Phœbe's letter mailed at Montrose on the 2d of this month was received in due time, and would have been replied to immediately, but it came in the midst of toil and the business of court, which has just closed, and I take the earliest moment to answer. It is needless to say that we had long looked for and long expected a letter from you or Sr. Lucy. Now, brother Daniel and sister Phœbe, what will you do? Has sister Phœbe written us the truth? and if so, will you venture with your little ones into the toils and fatigues of a long journey and that for the sake of finding a resting-place, when you know of miseries of such magnitude as have, as will, and as must rend asunder the tenderest and holiest ties of domestic life? I can hardly think it possible that you have written us the truth, that though there may be individuals who are guilty of the iniquities spoken of-yet no such practice can be preached or adhered to as a public doctrine. Such may do for the followers of Mahomet; it may have been done some thousands of years ago; but no people professing to be governed by the pure and holy principles of the Lord Jesus, can hold up their heads before the world at this distance of time and be guilty of such folly, such wrong, such abomination. It will blast, like a mill-dew, their fairest prospects, and lay the ax at the root of their future happiness.
You would like to know whether we are calculating to come on and emigrate to California. On this subject everything depends upon circumstances not necessary for me to here speak of. We do not feel
to say or do anything to discourage you from going if you think it best to do so. We know, in part, how you are situated. Out of the church you have few or no friends, and very little or no society-in it you have both.
So far as going West is concerned I have thought it a wise move indeed I could see no other, and though the journey is long and attended with toil, yet a bright future has been seen in the distance if right counsels are given and a departure in no way from the original faith, in no instance, countenanced. Of what that doctrine and faith are and were I ought to know, and further it does not become me now to speak.
May 7, Elder William Nelson wrote from Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands, giving the information that he had returned to the islands, and that he found the Saints doing as well as could be expected; that Bro. David Brown was receiving the Herald regularly, which Bro. Nelson read to them in their own language.
Some time in May Elder Glaud Rodger arrived at San Francisco, returning from his long mission to Australia. On May 21 he wrote from San Francisco that he had visited Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Watsonville. On the 22d he started for Decatur County, Iowa, his family having removed to that point from California during his absence. On June 6 he wrote to the Herald Office from Decatur County, Iowa, mentioning his arrival and that J. W. Gillen had left the same place on June 4 for Australia. He stated: "I have left the colonies clear of any incumbrance [encumbrance]; no debt for my successor to meet; a good little library, and many friends both in and out of the church."
On May 25, 1879, Elder D. S. Mills was ordained a high priest at Oakland, California, by H. P. Brown, according to direction of General Conference.
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