History of the Church
From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
[This entry discusses the History of the Church in the following six periods: History of the Church: c 1820-1831, Background, Founding, New York Period History of the Church: c 1831-1844, Ohio, Missouri, and Nauvoo Periods History of the Church: c 1844-1877, Exodus and Early Utah Periods History of the Church: c 1878-1898, Late Pioneer Utah Period History of the Church: c 1898-1945, Transitions: Early-Twentieth-Century Period History of the Church: c 1945-1990, Post-World War II International Era Period In addition, several other articles cover the History of the Church in the light of specific historical disciplines or approaches: see Doctrine: Meaning, Source, and History of Doctrine; Economic History of the Church; Intellectual History; Legal and Judicial History of the Church; Politics: Political History; Social and Cultural History; and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the.
Bibliographic sources relevant to all of these periods are: James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1976; Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience, New York, 1979; Church Education System, History in the Fulness of Times, Salt Lake City, 1989; and Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, Salt Lake City, 1950. ]
History of the Church: c. 1820-1831, Background, Founding, New York Period
Author: BUSHMAN, RICHARD L.
C. 1820-1831 Background Founding New York Period
[For other articles pertaining to the main events in the first period of Church History, see also First Vision; Moroni, Visitations of; various entries listed under Book of Mormon; articles on the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and Organization of the Church, 1830.
Early biographical information can be found in articles on the Smith Family Ancestors, Smith, Joseph, Smith, Emma Hale, and several other members of the Smith Family, in addition to Harris, Martin, Cowdery, Oliver, Whitmer, David, and Rigdon, Sidney. For a listing of Mormon sites and communities of this period, see New York, Early LDS Sites in.]
The establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began in the 1820s with events that occurred primarily in New York State. The Prophet Joseph Smith received his first vision in 1820, obtained the gold plates of the Book of Mormon from the hill Cumorah in 1827, received priesthood authority in 1829, and officially organized the Church on April 6, 1830. By the time the Church left New York for Ohio early in 1831, it was organized and its basic direction was clearly established.
In its formative years, the infant Church learned above all to depend on revelation for direction. Joseph Smith, young and relatively unschooled, did not pretend to work out the doctrines of the new Church by himself. Direct revelations from God led him step by step. Perhaps the most revolutionary idea in the Church is its belief in Christian revelation beyond the Bible. Latter-day Saints have never doubted the inspiration of the Bible; it has been an essential standard from the beginning (see Bible: LDS Belief in the Bible). Their experience led them to realize, however, that God also spoke to prophets who were not included in that conventional canon of scripture: the Book of Mormon showed them this (2 Ne. 29:10-14), and they heard Joseph Smith speak with the same authority as biblical apostles and prophets. Consequently, Latter-day Saints began to think of revelation in a new way, and the principle of continuing revelation greatly disturbed their fellow Christians, but from the beginning nothing was more basic to the Church.
The History of the Church begins with the family of Joseph Smith, Sr., and Lucy Mack Smith, the Prophet's parents (see Smith Family), who, with thousands of other New Englanders, flooded into New York in the early nineteenth century looking for better land. They brought with them their Calvinist religious intensity, but with a zeal modified by the new conditions of life in republican and pluralistic America. They had long searched without success for a faith on which they could rely. The increasing number of Christian denominations and a host of new intellectual influences from the Enlightenment made it more difficult to embrace religious faith than when Congregationalism had predominated in New England. Joseph Smith's quest for salvation began with the question of which Church is true. This question was possibly thrust upon him by his parents' uncertainties and by the plurality of churches-Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Quaker-in his own village.
Moved by evangelical revivals, Joseph Smith asked for direction from God about the true religion in the early spring of 1820. Although only fourteen, he had confidence in the biblical promise that he could get an answer (James 1:5). He went into the woods near his home, kneeled down, and prayed. In his accounts of the event, he testifies that the answer he received astonished him. Both God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared and told him to join none of the existing churches. He was assured that he was in good standing with God, told many things he could not write about, and then the vision closed, leaving him overcome. This revelation of the Father and the Son is considered by Latter-day Saints to be the opening event in the restoration of the gospel.
For three and a half years Joseph received no further communication from the heavens. Wondering if he had disqualified himself through unworthiness, Joseph was praying on the evening of September 21, 1823, when to his astonishment, an angel appeared in the room and announced that he was Moroni and had come with instructions from God. He told Joseph about a record written on gold plates giving a history of the former inhabitants of the western continents. The resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ, had appeared to these people and had given them the fulness of the gospel. The angel said the plates were buried in a hill near Joseph's home. In the course of the night, the angel came three times, delivering the same basic message and adding a little more information each time. Although exhausted, Joseph went to the hill the next day and found the plates encased in a stone box just below the surface of the earth; but he was not allowed to remove them. The angel appeared again and told him he must come back again the following year on the same day, September 22. For the next four years, Joseph faithfully returned to that place in the same manner. Finally, on September 22, 1827, he was allowed to take the plates into his possession (see Moroni, Visitations of).
The events of the four-year interval between 1823 and 1827 doubtless helped Joseph Smith to mature in preparation for the responsibilities and challenges that subsequently came to him. There is some evidence that his father was involved in treasure hunting, a common activity among poor New England farmers who hoped through the use of magic to discover buried money, and it was necessary for Joseph to extricate himself from the mistaken notions of that superstition. The angel told Joseph that one of the reasons for the delay in giving him the gold plates was that he had dwelt on their monetary worth (PWJS, p. 7). In November 1825, Joseph and his father worked briefly with a man named Josiah Stowell of South Bainbridge (afton), New York, who believed a Spanish treasure was located in Harmony, Pennsylvania, near the Susquehannah River. The project failed, and the Smiths gradually separated themselves from the money-digging activities of their neighbors to concentrate on the religious mission described by the angel. As a happy outgrowth of the Harmony project, while working there Joseph met Emma Hale (see Smith, Emma Hale), whom he married on January 18, 1827. In the meantime, his older brother Alvin died; Joseph was arrested in 1826 as a "glass looker" under a New York law that made it a crime "to tell fortunes, or where lost or stolen goods may be found" (see the legal definition of "Disorderly Persons," The Justice's Manual, Albany, New York, 1829, p. 144; see also Smith, Joseph: Legal Trials of Joseph Smith); and his parents lost their farm through their inability to make the last mortgage payment. These misfortunes, along with other experiences, deepened and strengthened the young man as he learned to discern between good and evil and to endure opposition.
After Joseph obtained the plates in 1827, curious and sometimes malicious neighbors in Manchester and Palmyra, New York, made it impossible to begin work on the translation. They ransacked the Smith house and barn, and only by constantly moving and concealing the plates could he keep them safe. He had been strictly warned not to show them to anyone, but that did not satisfy the curiosity seekers. Emma's brother, Alva, offered to help; he transported the pair with their belongings and the plates-hidden in a barrel of beans-125 miles to Harmony, Pennsylvania, where Emma's father lived. Joseph procured some acreage from his father-in-law, Isaac Hale, and a small house was provided. It was here that the translation began (see Book of Mormon Translation By Joseph Smith).
A sympathetic neighbor from Palmyra, Martin Harris, took enough interest in the plates to visit Joseph in Harmony. With the plates, Joseph had received an instrument called interpreters, or a Urim and Thummim, that enabled him to translate the characters engraved on the metal tablets. Joseph made copies of a few characters for Martin to take to language experts in Albany and New York City to verify Joseph's work. There is some confusion about what happened in these interviews, but Martin Harris was unequivocally satisfied (see Anthon Transcript). When he returned to Harmony, he offered to take the dictation as Joseph translated. Between April 12 and June 14, 1828, the two of them completed 116 pages of manuscript. At this point, Harris, who suffered from his wife's doubts about the existence of the plates, asked permission to show the manuscript to her and four other family members. With great reluctance Joseph Smith agreed. After hearing nothing from Martin for a number of weeks, Joseph went to his parents home in Manchester, New York, to confront him. Martin despairingly confessed that he could not find the manuscript. He had succumbed to pressure, shown the manuscript to neighbors beyond his agreement, and someone had stolen it (see Manuscript, Lost 116 Pages).
On the occasion of the crisis, Joseph received a revelation through the Urim and Thummim in which the Lord severely rebuked him. He more than Martin was held responsible for the loss of the manuscript. "Behold, you should not have feared man more than God," he was told (D&C 3:7). Martin did no more transcribing for Joseph, and from that time until the spring of 1829, Joseph accomplished little on the translation. In April, Oliver Cowdery, a young schoolteacher who had boarded with the Smith family in Manchester, came to learn more about the Book of Mormon. Having himself received a vision of the Lord and the plates, he was persuaded that the work was divine and offered to serve as scribe (PWJS, p. 8). Beginning on April 7, 1829, the two, Joseph and Oliver, worked together almost constantly until the translation was completed in June, a little more than two months later.
In the course of translating a portion of 3 Nephi that described the manner of baptism, Joseph and Oliver wondered about their own need for baptism. As had become customary with Joseph, he sought instruction from God. On May 15, 1829, while he and Oliver prayed, a heavenly messenger appeared to them. Identifying himself as John the Baptist, he conferred on them the Aaronic Priesthood, which gave them the authority to baptize (see Aaronic Priesthood: Restoration). With that newly received authority and under the direction of the angel, the two men baptized each other in the Susquehannah River. This revelation established an important principle in the Church: that divine ordinances such as baptism can be performed only by persons who have received priesthood authority by ordination. John the Baptist told Joseph and Oliver they would later receive a second and higher priesthood called the Melchizedek Priesthood. Subsequently Peter, James, and John appeared to them on the banks of the Susquehannah River some place between Harmony and Colesville, New York, and ordained them apostles (see Melchizedek Priesthood: Restoration of Melchizedek Priesthood).
By late May 1829, religious opposition against Joseph was growing in Harmony, and he and Oliver needed a calmer place to work. Oliver wrote to a friend, David Whitmer, who agreed to move them to his family's farm in Fayette, New York. Emma joined them in Fayette shortly afterward. A copyright was obtained for the Book of Mormon on June 11, 1829, and the translation soon was completed. As they completed the book, Joseph Smith learned through revelation that others would be allowed to see the golden plates. Witnesses were promised in the Book of Mormon itself, and Joseph's associates were eager to know who would have the privilege. Martin Harris, David Whitmer, and Oliver Cowdery were chosen, shown the plates by the angel Moroni, and heard the voice of God declaring to them that the work had been translated by the power of God. A few days later at Manchester, Joseph Smith was permitted to show the plates to eight other men. They examined the plates closely and lifted them with their hands. The statements of these two sets of witnesses were printed in the back pages of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon and appear in the front pages of all recent editions (see Book of Mormon Witnesses).
Finding a printer to publish the Book of Mormon proved to be difficult. Palmyra people who were suspicious of Joseph Smith banded together to intimidate the local printer, Egbert B. Grandin, by threatening not to purchase copies. Others, like Martin's wife, Lucy Harris, challenged Joseph's financial motives. After contacting printers as far away as Rochester, Joseph persuaded Grandin to accept the job. Martin Harris's guarantee made the difference in Grandin's decision. On August 25, 1829, Harris mortgaged his farm, pledging to pay $3,000 for 5,000 copies. Joseph and Martin hoped to sell enough copies to raise at least $3,000, but in the end Martin had to sell 151 acres to fulfill his agreement. Typesetting began in August 1829, and finished copies were available March 26, 1830.
Publication of the Book of Mormon brought to a close the endeavor that had occupied Joseph Smith since receiving the plates in 1827. Meanwhile, the revelations he was receiving made clear that translating the Book of Mormon was not the end of his divine mission. He was also to organize a church. Samuel Smith had been baptized in Harmony in late May 1829; Hyrum Smith, David and Peter Whitmer, Jr., and others were baptized in June in Seneca Lake. They had begun meeting together, and they had taught and tried to persuade all who requested information. On April 6, 1830, in the house of Peter Whitmer, Sr., in Fayette, New York, Joseph Smith organized the Church of Jesus Christ (see Organization of the Church, 1830Name of the Church). Six men subscribed as members, and over fifty people were present. The group sustained two officers as leaders of the Church, Joseph Smith as first elder and Oliver Cowdery as second elder. Joseph was also given the titles of seer, translator, and prophet. In addition, a revelation made provision for ordaining elders, priests, teachers, and deacons as a lay priesthood (see Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 20-22). Some of the lay persons present at the organization were ordained that day, and from the start, the Church made no provision for a special clerical order (see Lay Participation and Leadership).
Three clusters of believers were organized into branches of the fledgling Church soon after its organization-one in Fayette; another in Manchester at the old Smith home; and a third in colesville in southern New York, which was near the farm of Josiah Stowell (in Bainbridge Township, Chenango County), Joseph's one time employer and a loyal supporter. Members of the Joseph Knight family, who had provided Joseph and his assistants food and clothing during the translation, lived in Colesville and were the nucleus of the branch there. Joseph and Emma moved back to their house in Harmony, but met with all three branches at prescribed quarterly conferences held at the Peter Whitmer farm in June and September 1830.
In the summer of 1830, troubles began to arise. Twice Joseph was put on trial as a "disorderly person." Both times he was acquitted. More disturbing to Joseph, some of his own followers questioned his authority and claimed revelations and prerogatives of their own. Hiram Page, ordained a teacher in June 1830 and a husband of Catherine Whitmer, wrote out a sheaf of revelations he claimed came from God. Although still young and inexperienced, Joseph sensed the confusion and danger of many voices trying to speak authoritatively. At the September conference in Fayette, Joseph received a revelation that established that only one person approved by common consent was to receive commandments and revelations for the entire Church (D&C 20:65;28:1-3, 11-13). Hiram Page lacked that authorization. After hearing Joseph, the conference confirmed him as sole revelator for the Church (D&C 28:2; D. Cannon and L. Cook, eds., Far West Record, Salt Lake City, 1983, p. 3). This principle of revelation for the whole Church coming through the man sustained as the Prophet remains a practice of the Church to this day.
In the six months after the organization of the Church, converts were added in small numbers. Joseph Smith's brother Samuel went out with copies of the Book of Mormon to share with anyone interested. Joseph Smith, Sr., visited his brothers, sisters, and parents in St. Lawrence County, New York, where most of them lived, to tell them what had happened. Later conversions resulted from these expeditions, but very few at the time. Parley P. Pratt, a farmer from Ohio, believed that God led him to the house of Hyrum Smith, Joseph's brother, to find out about the Book of Mormon.
The most successful early missionary venture was launched in September and October 1830, when Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Parley Pratt, and Ziba Peterson were called to teach the Indians (see Lamanite Mission of 1830-1831). The Book of Mormon had special relevance for Native Americans because it was a religious record from ancient America, and the four were charged to take this message to the Indians who were assembling in the territory west of Missouri. The mission was notable as much for what was accomplished en route, however, as for the preaching to the Indians. After leaving New York, the missionaries stopped in the Mentor-Kirtland area of northeast Ohio near Pratt's former farm. Before joining the Church, Pratt had been associated with the Campbellite movement, which was forming into the Disciples of Christ church. This group believed in rigorously adhering to the teachings and practices of the New Testament church, sloughing off all later additions. The teachings of Joseph Smith appealed to many of them because his doctrines embodied for them a pure restoration of true Christianity. About 130 persons were converted, including the leading Campbellite preacher in the area, Sidney Rigdon. In a few weeks, the four missionaries nearly doubled the membership of the Church. They continued on to Indian country that winter, enduring severe hardships on their long trek on foot from St. Louis across Missouri. They found a land in western Missouri into which the Church would soon begin settling. They also taught among the Delaware and Shawnee Indians until government officials told them to stop because of a prohibition against proselytizing among the tribes.
Soon after the missionaries left Ohio for the West in December 1830, Sidney Rigdon left for New York, accompanied by Edward Partridge. They brought news of the conversions in Ohio and urged Joseph Smith and the membership to move there. Joseph was prepared to take the suggestion seriously because of revelations he received concerning the gathering of the Church (D&C 37:1-4;38:31-33). Indeed, for the remainder of the century, converts to the Church would assemble at a central gathering place, first in Ohio, then in Missouri, in Illinois, and finally in Utah. Another revelation focused on the second coming of Jesus Christ and on the destructions to be visited upon the world before that event occurred. It said that before those tribulations, the people of God were to "be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land" (D&C 29:8). A further revelation spoke of a city of Zion to be built somewhere in the West (D&C 28:9). These hints led Church members to realize that they would not remain long in New York.
When a revelation came in December 1830 (D&C 37) telling them to move to Ohio, it was accepted by most. At a conference on January 2, 1831, directions and an additional revelation (D&C 38) were given for the move. The Prophet, Emma, and a few others went ahead and arrived in Kirtland on February 1, 1831, to prepare for the arrival of others. The Colesville Branch, under Newel Knight; the Fayette Branch, under the Prophet's mother and Thomas Marsh; and the Manchester Branch, under Martin Harris, traveled to Ohio in separate companies during April and May 1831. By mid-May virtually all of the New York Mormons from the named branches were in Kirtland.
Backman, Milton V., Jr. Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration, rev. ed Salt Lake City, 1986.
Bushman, Richard L. Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism. Ubrana, Ill., 1984.
Madsen, Truman G., guest ed. BYU Studies 9 (Spring 1969):235-404 (entire issue devoted to LDS origins in New York).
Porter, Larry C. "A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania in 1816-1831." Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1971.
Smith, Lucy Mack. History of Joseph Smith, ed. Preston Nibley. Salt Lake City, 1958.
Whittaker, David J. "Sources on Mormon Origins in New York and Pennsylvania." Mormon History Association Newsletter no. 43 (Mar. 1980):8-12.
History of the Church: c. 1831-1844, Ohio, Missouri, and Nauvoo Periods
Author: BACKMAN, MILTON V., JR.
Author: ESPLIN, RONALD K.
C. 1831-1844 Ohio Missouri and Nauvoo Periods
[This article focuses first on the Church in northeastern Ohio, LDS Communities in, where Kirtland, Ohioserved as Church headquarters, and in western Missouri. By 1839 the focus shifts to western Illinois, LDS Communities in, with Nauvoothe new headquarters city. For discussion of the difficulties that led to violence and finally expulsion from Missouri, see Missouri Conflict.
This article outlines organizational and doctrinal developments and examines tensions and conflicts between the Saints and their neighbors, and within the Church itself. Many of these resulted from the attempt to build a tightly unified, sacral community that responded to continuing revelation within a larger society often hostile to these goals. The Prophet Joseph Smith, whose martyrdom ends this period, was a dominant figure; see articles under Smith, Joseph, and Visions of Joseph Smith.The Gatheringand Templeswere central concerns; see Kirtland Templeand Nauvoo Temple.]
In October 1830 four LDS missionaries on their way to preach to the Indians west of Missouri (see Lamanite Mission of 1830-1831) introduced the restored gospel to the communities of northeastern Ohio. Before they resumed their journey, the missionaries baptized approximately 130 converts, organized the new members into small "branches," and appointed leaders over each group. Approximately thirty-five of these members lived in Kirtland, Ohio, a community directly east of what is today metropolitan Cleveland.
Sidney Rigdon, a restorationist preacher in that vicinity, joined the Church in November 1830 and notified Joseph Smith of the missionaries' success. As a result, the Prophet inquired of the Lord and recorded revelations (D&C 37:3;38:32) calling the converts of the recently organized Church in New York to "assemble together at the Ohio." He and his family moved to Kirtland by early February 1831, and about two hundred New York Saints followed by summer, making northeastern Ohio the first LDS gathering place.
Most of the New York Saints and many of the earliest Ohio converts did not remain in Ohio. In the summer of 1831, Joseph Smith traveled to the Missouri frontier and identified Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, as a second gathering place. Latter-day Saints anticipated that a holy city, a New Jerusalem, would be established in a new North American Zion, a city of refuge from tribulations that would afflict the wicked in the last days (D&C 29:7-9;45:65-71;57:1-3). Sidney Rigdon dedicated the land for gathering, and Joseph Smith designated the specific site where a temple would be built, and, after appointing others to supervise the gathering to Zion, returned to Ohio.
In Hiram, Ohio, a rural farming community about thirty miles south of Kirtland, Joseph Smith worked on his inspired translation of the Bible (see Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST)]), a project that served him as a school. Prayerfully seeking enlightenment about particular passages and doctrines frequently brought new revelation and understanding. After the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon, who was serving as his scribe, were beaten and tarred and feathered by a mob in March 1832, they and their families moved to Kirtland.
The two gathering places of the early 1830s each had a different purpose. Although Latter-day Saints migrated to the Missouri frontier to lay the foundations of a new Zion, the administrative headquarters of the Church, responsible for directing the missionary program and building the first temple, remained in Ohio. There was some competition between the two centers, with both needing resources and members and both wanting the presence of the Prophet Joseph Smith. But, as revelation made clear, the goals of the two were complementary: the promised "endowment from on high" associated with the Kirtland Temple was a prerequisite for success in Zion (D&C 105:9-13, 33). Joseph Smith resided in Kirtland until 1838, keeping in touch with Missouri members by mail and messenger, and traveling there five times to instruct Church members on policies, programs, and beliefs.
In Jackson County, Latter-day Saints published two periodicals, the evening and the morning star and the Upper Missouri Advertiser, and attempted to establish a unique economic order based on consecration with assigned stewardship of property and other assets, as directed by revelations to Joseph Smith (see Missouri: LDS Communities in Jackson and Clay Counties). Disagreements about legal requirements and individual selfishness hampered implementation, but the basic impediment was that the Saints had too little capital and very little to consecrate. Still, some participants were inspired by the concepts involved, and the ideals behind the effort left a significant legacy (see United Orders).
Although the Latter-day Saints migrated to western Missouri to build a city of peace and refuge, they encountered major hostility. Older settlers considered these newcomers a threat to their own patterns of living. Missourians complained that Mormons sought to influence slaves, that their "eastern" lifestyle was incompatible with the Missouri frontier, that they were an economic and political threat, that their friendship for the Indians threatened the region's security, and that they held unusual religious beliefs. These charges indicate a significant cultural clash between the LDS immigrants and older settlers. Rapid immigration of Latter-day Saints into Jackson County intensified the tensions, resulting in confrontation.
After violence erupted in the summer of 1833, Governor Daniel Dunklin sent a local militia into the area to establish peace. Assuming that the militia would protect all settlers, Latter-day Saints surrendered their arms to this military force. But other Missourians were not disarmed, leaving Church members defenseless. In early November 1833, mobs drove more than a thousand Latter-day Saints from Jackson County, forcing them to abandon their homes and farms. Most of them escaped across the Missouri River to Clay County.
Between November 1833 and the summer of 1836, Clay County was the major gathering place for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. During these years, Church members tried but failed to secure redress for the loss of property in Jackson County. They also sought government protection for an attempt to return to their lands. In 1834, believing that Governor Dunklin had agreed to extend the assistance of state militia to reinforce their own efforts, Church members assembled a small paramilitary force from Ohio and elsewhere to accompany the Missouri refugees back to Jackson County. Zion's Camp, as the expedition was called, failed to obtain gubernatorial support and disbanded in June rather than initiate armed conflict.
Though it failed in its primary aim, Zion's Camp profoundly affected many participants and had lasting significance. For most, the hurried March from Ohio to Missouri, more than 800 miles in humid heat, was the most difficult physical challenge of their lives. Some had even greater difficulty with the realization that in spite of that ordeal, they had not assisted the Missouri Saints to return to their lands. They found fault with Joseph Smith's leadership, and the experience contributed to their later dissent. But for many participants, Zion's Camp was an unparalleled opportunity to live day and night with the Lord's prophet-reminiscent of ancient Israel under Moses. The experience bonded them to Joseph and to each other, and out of the crucible of Zion's Camp came many future LDS leaders. The two reactions reflected differing views about prophetic leadership and about how a society based on revelation and priesthood should be organized-differences that became more pronounced in later Kirtland.
The revelation disbanding Zion's Camp refocused attention on Ohio and on the necessity of completing the Kirtland Temple without delay (D&C 105). Before returning to Ohio, Joseph Smith organized a Missouri stake and appointed a presidency and high council, matching what he had done in Kirtland the February before. Soon, several Missouri Church leaders left for Kirtland to assist with temple construction.
All parties concerned had viewed the Saints' stay in Clay County, Missouri, as temporary. With a return to Jackson County now unlikely, pressures mounted for them to find another location. Urged by community leaders to leave before violence erupted, most Latter-day Saints migrated northward, establishing a new western headquarters at Far West, Missouri. Responding to this movement of thousands of Latter-day Saints into unsettled northwestern Missouri, the state legislature in late 1836 created two new counties, Caldwell and Daviess (see Missouri: LDS Communities in Caldwell and Daviess Counties). Since most Latter-day Saints settled in Caldwell, it became known as the Mormon County.
Joseph Smith later taught that a primary purpose for the gathering of the faithful in any age was to build a house of the Lord wherein could be revealed the ordinances of his temple. As temple construction progressed, the LDS population in Kirtland multiplied from about 100 in 1832 to over 1,500 in 1836. Latter-day Saints migrated there from New England, New York, and elsewhere to assist in building the Lord's house, in which, they had been promised as early as January 1831, they would be "endowed with power from on high" (D&C 38:32).
In March 1836 the Kirtland Temple was completed and dedicated, and during the months before and after the dedication, the Saints enjoyed an unusual pentecostal season. In the temple, a week after its dedication, keys of the priesthood were conferred on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in visitations by Moses, Elias, and Elijah. Blessings and instructions received in the temple were particularly significant for missionaries (see Missions), whose proselytizing travels from Kirtland during the 1830s ranged from Canada to the American South and, in 1837, to the British Isles, with extensive missionary work within Ohio.
While its headquarters remained in Kirtland, the Church experienced major doctrinal and administrative development. A number of the most significant revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received in the Kirtland and Hiram areas, including the vision of the Resurrection and the three degrees of glory (D&C 76); the law of consecration and stewardship (D&C 42); the Word of Wisdom, sometimes called the Lord's law of health (D&C 89); revelations on the priesthood and its organization (D&C 84, 107); and the coming of the Millennium (D&C 1, 29, 88, 133). Many of these revelations came in response to questions raised by Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible. Joseph Smith also received a revelation relating to plural marriage (D&C 132), but it was not recorded until 1843. The book of Abraham, not published until 1842, resulted from the Prophet's acquisition in 1835 of a collection of mummies and papyri from Egypt.
As growth required organizational development, a series of revelations directed the establishment of both local and general Church officers. These included the office of bishop in 1831, the First Presidency of the Church in 1832, and a permanent high council in 1834. In February 1835 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Quorum of the seventy were organized, selected principally from Zion's Camp veterans. Both quorums had responsibility for proselytizing. Though the Twelve were spoken of as second to the Presidency, their immediate assignments were to supervise the labors of the Seventy and to oversee the Church outside its organized stakes.
Revelation also directed officers of the Church to study widely in many fields of knowledge in preparation for their ministries and directed that a School of the Prophets be organized for that purpose (D&C 88:77-80, 118-141). The attitudes and imperatives expressed in the revelation became influential not only in instituting that first Church-sponsored school but also in the Church's approach to learning and education throughout its subsequent history.
Publication of the Evening and the Morning Star, disrupted in Missouri by the expulsion from Jackson County, was resumed for nearly a year in Kirtland. The Latter Day Saints' messenger and advocate, successor to the Star, was the first Church periodical to publish some of Oliver Cowdery's letters dealing with the history of Joseph Smith. The Doctrine and Covenants, containing many of the revelations given to Joseph Smith, was published in Kirtland in 1835.
The promulgation of new doctrine and the establishment of a church hierarchy offended some Latter-day Saints who preferred the less complicated faith they had embraced in the Church's infancy. Those who did not share the Prophet Joseph Smith's vision of a new society organized under priesthood were also disturbed by the increased direction Church leaders gave members in temporal matters and by the Prophet's extensive involvement in economic affairs. The collapse of an unchartered Kirtland Safety Society that had been sponsored by Church leaders helped bring discontent to a head (see Kirtland Economy). Lawsuits were filed against Joseph Smith, threats were made against his life, and against the lives of his most vigorous supporters, and a number of prominent Church members apostatized. In the midst of this turmoil, the Prophet sent some of his staunchest supporters as missionaries to the British Isles. There, in less than a year, they gained more than 1,500 converts and laid the groundwork for thousands more to follow (see Missions of the Twelve to the British Isles).
By 1837, Latter-day Saints outnumbered other residents of Kirtland Township. That year, LDS candidates were elected to all major town offices except that of constable. Many Church members in Kirtland were relatively poor and lived in clusters of small temporary homes. Some non-Mormons became resentful of this influx of the poor and of Church leadership that seemed undemocratic and thus un-American. Economic and political rivalries developed, accompanied by threats and some mob violence. Outside pressure mounted for the removal of the Mormons from Kirtland at the same time as bitter internal dissension plagued the Church. In January 1838, Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and other Church leaders whose lives had been threatened fled to western Missouri, followed gradually by most of the Latter-day Saint residents of Kirtland and vicinity.
In 1837-1838, LDS migration into western Missouri increased rapidly. This growth sparked increased agitation among neighbors who feared Mormon economic and political domination and who saw the influx as a threat to their way of life. Grievances that had been expressed by Jackson County citizens in 1833 were repeated and enlarged. Rumors and accusations became the basis for intolerant actions. Some insisted that since Caldwell County had been created for Mormons, Latter-day Saints were not to settle outside the borders of that county.
The decisive confrontation was sparked by a fight that erupted when ruffians attempted to prevent LDS voting at Gallatin, Daviess County. Exaggerated reports of this melee unloosed agitation that had been mounting and led to the formation of mobs determined to drive all Mormons from Daviess County. Mobs also threatened Latter-day Saints living in DeWitt, Carroll County, until, on October 11, 1838, they were forced to leave their homes and farms. As the refugees traveled to the LDS stronghold at Far West, they were continually harassed and several died.
After Governor Lilburn Boggs refused pleas to protect the DeWitt Saints, Church leaders mobilized the Caldwell County militia and prepared to protect themselves. Some members of the Danites, originally organized to assist with Latter-day Saint community development, engaged in paramilitary activity, including burning the headquarters of mobbers at Gallatin and Millport who had threatened their destruction. Meanwhile, a local militia forced Latter-day Saints to leave their farms in Ray County and threatened to shoot Church members accused of being spies. Trying to prevent the threatened executions, a unit of the LDS Caldwell County militia engaged the Ray militia on October 25 at Crooked River. Men were killed on both sides, and wildly exaggerated rumors of marauding Mormons enflamed the countryside. On October 27, without investigating the charges and countercharges, Governor Boggs accused Church members of initiating hostilities and ordered the state militia to exterminate the Mormons or drive them from the state (see Extermination Order). Three days later, the Haun's Mill Massacre, in which more than two hundred militiamen attacked a tiny LDS settlement and brutally killed seventeen, underscored the likelihood that Boggs's order would be carried out literally.
Confronted by overwhelming militia forces, the Latter-day Saints surrendered at Far West and agreed to leave the state. Approximately 10,000 Church members were forced to leave Missouri, most in winter and amid intense hostility. Traveling eastward, they crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois. After suffering immense losses of property and some loss of life, in early 1839 most reached Quincy and other western Illinois communities whose residents offered aid and refuge.
Meanwhile, Church leaders in Missouri were arrested and charged with treason. Most were promptly released, but ten were imprisoned without trial during the winter of 1838-1839, some in richmond jail and others in Liberty Jail. During the Prophet Joseph's half-year stay in Liberty Jail, he wrote some of the most insightful and eloquent inspired writings of his career (D&C 121-23), and he emerged in April 1839 with a clear understanding of what must be done to complete his mission satisfactorily and a firm determination to do so.
The Saints arranged to purchase land for a new gathering place on both sides of a bend in the Mississippi River north of Quincy. Nauvoo, Illinois, superseded the fledgling community of Commerce and became Church headquarters. Many members also settled across the river in Lee County, Iowa.
Plagued by malaria, Nauvoo-area Saints sought to confront larger issues while still struggling to establish a viable community after the Missouri disaster. Attempting to obtain redress for Missouri losses, President Joseph Smith visited national political leaders in Washington, D.C., but the prevailing emphasis on states' rights precluded federal assistance. Despite illness and poverty, nine members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles fulfilled an assignment to proselytize in the British Isles. They arrived in England in early 1840 and during the next fifteen months saw nearly 5,000 converts join the approximately 1,500 they found on arrival. The following year, Orson Hyde, an apostle, visited Jerusalem and dedicated Palestine for the gathering of the Jews (see Israel: Gathering of Israel).
In England the Twelve launched the Latter Day Saints' Millennial Star and published a hymnal and a second edition of the Book of Mormon, founding in the process what became a major LDS publication center for the next half century. The Twelve initiated the emigration of LDS British converts to America in 1840, and during the next six years nearly 5,000 migrated to Nauvoo (see Immigration and Emigration). Under the leadership of Brigham Young, the Quorum of the Twelve became an effective administrative force during this mission. When they returned to Nauvoo, they were given new responsibilities. In August 1841, Joseph Smith announced that the Twelve now stood "next to the First Presidency," and their jurisdiction was expanded to include supervision of the Church's stakes as well as mission areas.
Draining the swamps and welcoming a growing number of settlers, the Saints in Nauvoo created a thriving community that eventually numbered nearly 12,000, rivaling Chicago as the largest city in Illinois. Construction and growth fueled the economy, cultural life thrived, and the Saints developed the most important religious community of their short history. Having learned from experience that they could not rely on the goodwill of others for protection, they sought institutional guarantees. In the Nauvoo charters the Illinois state legislature provided the protections of home rule, a municipal judiciary, and a city militia. Determined never again to be defenseless as they had been in Missouri, they built their chartered Nauvoo Legion into the largest militia in Illinois.
To an unusual degree, Joseph Smith occupied a position of political as well as ecclesiastical power, serving at various times as city councilman, mayor, commanding general of the Nauvoo Legion, and editor of the leading local newspaper, the Times and Seasons. These positions gave him wide latitude to build a sacral society and to accomplish the things he felt most central to his mission.
After receiving additional priesthood keys in the Kirtland Temple in 1836, Joseph Smith looked to the day when he could complete his temple-related responsibilities and convey additional teachings and ordinances to the Saints. He emerged from Liberty Jail convinced that his time to do so was short and that Nauvoo would be his last opportunity. As soon as the Saints had regrouped and were secure in their new home, he began unfolding a set of additional teachings, ordinances, and organizational patterns-many of them temple-related-that further distanced the Saints from their own earlier notions and from the beliefs of their neighbors. This process began with an important revelation of January 1841 (D&C 124) that, among other things, launched the construction of the Nauvoo Temple, and continued for more than three years. By April 1844, just three months before his death, the process was complete.
In Nauvoo Joseph Smith expounded on the nature of the Godhead and the origin and destiny of the human race, stressing the concept of eternal progression in conjunction with the Plan of Salvation (see King Follett Discourse). Teaching the universal availability of salvation, he introduced vicarious ordinances for deceased individuals, including baptism for the dead. Experiencing resistance to new doctrines and practices, yet driven by personal forebodings to avoid delay, the Prophet began in 1841-1842 to introduce plural marriage and sacred temple ordinances (see Endowment) privately to a limited number of trusted associates, including members of the Quorum of the Twelve, who were later to deliver them to worthy members of the Church once the temple was complete.
Among the most important Nauvoo organizational developments was the March 1842 founding of the Relief Society, a benevolent, social, and religious organization for women (see Relief Society in Nauvoo). The Relief Society provided women a structure to facilitate charitable work and sisterhood. More important, it brought women into close contact with priesthood organization and helped to prepare them for temple experiences to come. The Church's first wards, or basic congregational units, were founded in Nauvoo, and additional responsibilities for bishops were defined. The council of fifty was the last organizational element set up by Joseph Smith. Though it played a useful practical role for several years after its March 1844 organization, its greatest importance was in providing a governmental model for the future kingdom of God on earth.
From the temple to the Council of Fifty, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stood by the Prophet as his closest advisers and assistants. Foreseeing the day when the Saints might need a more secure haven in the isolated West, in February 1844 Joseph Smith assigned the Twelve to lead an expedition to find such a location (see Westward Migration: Planning and Prophecy), but shortly put the project on hold. First, he wanted them to travel to the East on a more political mission. When inquiries to the presidential candidates in the approaching national election produced no one willing to defend Mormon rights, the Prophet Joseph Smith launched his own presidential campaign, providing a platform for making his views known and speaking out on behalf of his people. During their usual summer proselytizing, the Twelve and other supporters would travel in the East, combining preaching with electioneering. Before they left, about March 26, 1844, Joseph Smith made his "last charge" to the Twelve. He declared that he had now given them every priesthood key that he possessed and that it was their responsibility to shoulder the burden of the kingdom while he rested. Before they returned from the East, he was murdered.
Although Nauvoo grew rapidly, progress on its most ambitious construction projects, the Nauvoo Temple and the Nauvoo house hotel, lagged, in part because of a shortage of capital. Hopes to make Nauvoo a manufacturing center failed to materialize for the same reason (see Nauvoo Economy). But the continued success of LDS proselytizing and the influx of immigrants, combined with LDS solidarity and industriousness, transformed Nauvoo into a formidable economic and political competitor to the other towns in Hancock County.
Neighbors unsympathetic to Nauvoo also had other complaints. The theocratic organization of the LDS community, with its apparent unity of purpose and its local autonomy, aroused resentment. The tendency for Latter-day Saints to vote as a bloc for local and state candidates who were most likely to benefit them alienated both Whigs and Democrats (see Nauvoo Politics). Nauvoo's strong militia aroused envy and distrust. The fact that the city's judicial system shielded Joseph Smith from prosecution provoked charges that he had placed himself beyond the law.
As these things increased the hostility of adversaries of the Church, Thomas Sharp, editor of a newspaper in nearby Warsaw, made his Warsaw Signal a voice for these concerns and took up a sustained crusade against Joseph Smith and Nauvoo. In the spring of 1844 several disgruntled former associates combined forces with anti-Mormons to mount an offensive against the Prophet from within Nauvoo itself. They published the Nauvoo Expositor newspaper, which attacked the Church and made inflammatory charges against Joseph Smith. The Nauvoo City Council declared the paper a public nuisance and ordered the sheriff to destroy it, an action that aroused the Prophet's enemies and provided the basis for his arrest. On June 27, 1844, Joseph and his brother Hyrum were murdered in the jail at the county seat, Carthage, while awaiting trial (see Carthage Jail; Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith).
The Prophet Joseph Smith established the doctrinal and organizational foundation of the modern Church and prepared Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to build on the foundation he had laid (see Succession in the Presidency). His ministry and his mission were complete.
Allen, James B., and Glen M. Leonard. The Story of the Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, 1976.
Backman, Milton V., Jr. The Heavens Resound. Salt Lake City, 1983.
Flanders, Robert Bruce. Nauvoo: Kingdom on the MIssissippi. Urbana, Ill., 1965.
Gentry, Leland H. "A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri from 1836 to 1839." Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1965.
Grandstaff, Mark R. Review of Quest for Refuge: The Mormon Flight from American Pluralism, by Marvin S. Hill; and Exiles in a Land of Liberty: Mormons in America, 1830-1846, by Kenneth H. Winn. BYU Studies 30 (Winter 1990):100-107.
Hill, Marvin S. Quest for Refuge. Salt Lake City, 1989.
LeSueur, Stephen C. The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. Colombia, Mo., 1987.
Pratt, Parley P. Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt. Salt Lake City, 1985.
Underwood, Grant. "Millenarianism and the Early Mormon Mind." Journal of Mormon History 9 (1982):41-51.
History of the Church: c. 1844-1877, Exodus and Early Utah Periods
Author: ARRINGTON, LEONARD J.
Author: MAY, DEAN L.
C. 1844-1877 Exodus and Early Utah Periods
[After outlining developments in Nauvoo, Illinois, following the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, this article traces the exodus from Nauvoo to the West. It then focuses primarily on the political and economic developments associated with establishing a new commonwealth in the Great Basin under Brigham Young's direction. It also reviews Church organization, plural marriage, and the building of temples.
To understand daily life and what it meant to be a Latter-day Saint during this period, see Pioneer Life and Worshipand Social and Cultural History. For more on Church leadership and organization, see: Organization: Organizational and Administrative History, Auxiliary Organizations, Sunday School, Retrenchment Association, Young Men. For the Exodus: Westward Migration: Planning and Prophecy; Mormon Pioneer Trail; Historical Sites; Council Bluffs (Kanesville), Iowa; Iowa, LDS Communities in; "This Is the Place" Monument. For the development of the Mormon commonwealth consult: Agriculture; Economic History of the Church; Pioneer Economy; Immigration and Emigration; Handcart Companies; City Planning; Deseret Alphabet; Deseret University; Native Americans; and articles on pioneer settlements in Arizona, Pioneer Settlements in, California, Pioneer Settlements in, Colorado, Pioneer Settlements in, Idaho, Pioneer Settlements in, Nevada, Pioneer Settlements in, New Mexico, Pioneer Settlements in, and Wyoming, Pioneer Settlements in. See also Politics: Political Historyand Woman Suffrage.]
The martyrdom of joseph and Hyrum Smith on June 27, 1844, precipitated a major crisis. In the immediate aftermath and emotional shock of losing their founding prophet, many Latter-day Saints suffered a crisis of faith: Could anyone take his place? Would the Lord still be with the Church? Nor was it immediately clear to everyone who should lead: Would it be Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith's counselor in the First Presidency? The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, led by Brigham young? Someone else? Whoever succeeded to leadership would face the challenge of resolving tensions within the Church and facing powerful adversaries without.
At the time of the assassination, most members of the Quorum of the Twelve were in the East on missions. Sidney Rigdon, who had left Nauvoo for Pittsburgh just before the martyrdom, returned August 3 and asserted a claim to lead as "Guardian." Three days later several of the Twelve, including Brigham Young, arrived just in time for an August 8 meeting already called to decide guardianship. Rigdon spoke first for his claims. He was followed by Brigham Young, who asserted the responsibility of the Twelve to lead the Church in Joseph's absence and to build on the foundation he had laid. The great majority voted to sustain the Twelve. Many claimed that Brigham Young was transfigured before them, speaking with the voice of the deceased prophet and appearing like him in person and manner.
The August 8 vote effectively settled the question of succession: no one else could make a persuasive claim of having either the authority or the full confidence of the Prophet. The vote sustained the Quorum of the Twelve, with Brigham Young at their head, as the leaders of the Church, but it did not immediately result in a new First Presidency; that would come later, after the Twelve had completed the Nauvoo Temple and located a new home for the Church in the West, responsibilities they felt an obligation to accomplish as a quorum. Nor did the vote satisfy those who longed for a way to be Latter-day Saints but without the Nauvoo innovations that they viewed as problematic and that the Twelve would continue-such things as the emphasis on temple, new doctrines including plural marriage, and the unity of temporal and ecclesiastical concerns under the priesthood. Some of these briefly followed others who set themselves up as leaders, but many simply drifted away. Years later, some banded together as the reorganized church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints with emphasis and direction quite different from Joseph Smith in Nauvoo or the Twelve in the Great Basin (see Schismatic Groups).
The first priorities of the Twelve were to complete the Nauvoo Temple while privately preparing for the exodus to the West (see Westward Migration: Planning and Prophecy)-which they were committed to delay until the Saints received temple ordinances. The Saints so rallied behind the temple that the capstone was in place by May 1845, and the edifice was ready for ordinance work by December. Eventually nearly 6,000 men and women received temple ordinances before leaving for the West. In the spring of 1845, with the temple nearing completion, Church leaders began preparations for the move West. In September, shortly after mob violence erupted against the outlying settlements around Nauvoo, the Twelve publicly announced that the Saints would all depart.
Brigham Young was supported in these endeavors by eight of the Twelve-the same who had served abroad under his direction in 1840-1841-and by members of the council of fifty. Organized in March 1844 by Joseph Smith, the Council of Fifty had been involved in two major activities prior to his death: secretly negotiating with the Republic of Texas for possible settlements there, and publicly campaigning to support Joseph Smith's candidacy for the U.S. presidency. More than seventy-five percent of the surviving members of the original Council of Fifty supported Brigham Young, but William Smith, John E. Page, Lyman Wight, all apostles, and Nauvoo Stake President William Marks dissented and were never reconciled either to the temple or to the Great Basin exodus and its implications. The Council of Fifty helped organize the exodus from Nauvoo and, in early Utah, helped establish an economic and political theocracy.
The exodus began in February 1846, before renewed hostilities erupted. All during the spring and summer, a flow of wagons moved out across the Iowa prairies. The Latter-day Saints were still unsettled in Iowa when a U.S. military officer arrived on June 26 with a requisition for 500 volunteers to serve in the campaign against Mexico. Though sometimes regarded as an oppressive trial imposed upon the refugee Mormons by the U.S. government, the call actually resulted from secret negotiations with U.S. President James Polk (see Mormon Battalion). Though the battalion took 500 able-bodied men from their midst, it brought a much-needed $70,000, which was used to aid the families of the men and fund the general program of the exodus.
Because the evacuation of Nauvoo and the trek across Iowa had largely exhausted the travel season, the Saints prepared to winter on the Missouri River. They built temporary settlements at winter quarters on the river's west bank, now Florence, Nebraska, a suburb of Omaha, and on the east bank at Kanesville, later council bluffs, iowa. There preparations continued for the great migration to the interior basins of North America. On January 14, 1847, Brigham Young announced a revelation that the Saints should be "organized into companies [of hundreds, fifties, and tens], with a covenant and promise to keep all the commandments of the Lord our God" (D&C 136:2-3). On April 5, 1847, he led the first pioneer company, departing from Winter Quarters.
After a three-month journey, advance scouts entered the valley of the Great Salt Lake. Three days later, on July 24, 1847 (see Pioneer Day), Brigham Young entered the valley. On July 28 he designated a temple site and announced to the 157 pioneers that "this is the right spot," making it clear that he and the Saints intended a long stay in the vicinity of the Great Salt Lake.
After his return from Utah to Winter Quarters in October 1847, Brigham Young presented to the apostles the question of reorganizing the First Presidency. Although no written revelation explicitly authorized the Twelve to reorganize the presidency, many considered that right implicit in the 1835 revelation concerning the authority of that quorum in relation to the First Presidency (D&C 107:21-24). The Twelve sustained Brigham Young as President of the Church, with Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as his counselors, an action ratified by Church members later that month at a special conference at Kanesville, Iowa, and the following year in Salt Lake City.
In Utah, Brigham Young set out to fulfill Joseph Smith's dream of establishing a permanent refuge for the Saints. This included creating a political state in which the Church would play a dominant role. The theocratic nature of this government was indicated by the fact that a Church high council, presided over by Joseph Smith's uncle John Smith, conducted both religious and civil affairs in the Salt Lake Valley from the fall of 1847 until the return of Brigham Young to the valley in September 1848, when the Twelve and the Council of Fifty assumed direction.
In the closing months of 1848, the Council of Fifty began deliberations toward establishing a more permanent government. Anticipating that the Great Basin would become United States territory, the Council debated the relative merits of petitioning Congress for territorial or statehood status. It opted first for a territory but soon after, in July 1849, following precedents in Texas and California, petitioned for statehood and began to organize the provisional State of Deseret (see Deseret, State of). Brigham Young was elected Governor and other Church authorities comprised its executive and judicial branches and much of its legislative branch. The legislature convened in December 1849, and the State of Deseret functioned as an autonomous state within the national domain until March 28, 1851, when it was formally dissolved and superseded by Utah Territory, which had already been created as part of the national Compromise of 1850 (see also Utah Statehood).
The boundaries of the State of Deseret were vast, encompassing all of present Utah, most of Nevada and Arizona, more than one-third of California, and parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. To establish control of this domain, Brigham Young began a vigorous colonization program, which, before his death in 1877, founded nearly 400 settlements. An energetic system of proselytizing, particularly in the british isles and Scandinavia, with thousands converted, of whom nearly 90,000 immigrated to Utah by the end of the century. The Church promoted, organized, and conducted this immigration. For the benefit of those who could not otherwise afford travel costs, the Church organized the perpetual emigrating fund. Chartered in 1850 by the State of Deseret, for the next thirty-seven years the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company raised funds and utilized Church resources to assist approximately 26,000 emigrants from Europe to the mountain West.
The State of Deseret was the closest the Church ever came to realizing the theocratic model previously outlined by Joseph Smith. Church authorities served in important civil positions. After federally appointed judges left the territory in 1851, probate courts, with bishops as judges, were given jurisdiction over both civil and criminal cases. The intention was that LDS influence over the political life of the territory would eliminate the persecution that had repeatedly occurred. In later years the very success of this theocratic society would create less violent but ultimately more dangerous conflicts with American society (see Politics: Political History).
Inseparable from the prolonged conflict with the federal government was the LDS practice of plural marriage. Although polygamy had been practiced privately prior to the exodus, Church leaders delayed public acknowledgment of its practice until 1852. In August of that year, at a special conference of the Church at Salt Lake City, Elder Orson Pratt, an apostle, officially announced plural marriage as a doctrine and practice of the Church. A lengthy revelation on marriage for eternity and on the plurality of wives, dictated by Joseph Smith on July 12, 1843, was published following this announcement (D&C 132). Viewing it as a religious obligation for faithful brethren to marry more wives than one, Latter-day Saints believed that polygamy was protected by constitutional guarantees of religious freedom. There were no federal laws against polygamy, and the territorial incorporation of the Church allowed it "to solemnize marriages compatible with the revelations of Jesus Christ" (Arrington and Quinn, p. 261). In some communities as much as twenty to twenty-five percent of the LDS population eventually lived in polygamous households, with most men who practiced polygamy having one to four plural wives.
For the first several years, life in their new western refuge seemed tenuous. A mild winter in 1847-1848 was followed by spring frosts and a discouraging summer. Then drought damaged and plagues of crickets devoured a good portion of the crops. Many believed that they saved a remnant of their crops only because of the miraculous intervention of great numbers of gulls that descended on the fields and devoured the crickets (see Seagulls, Miracle of). After the lean winter of 1848-1849, however, the pioneers were able to raise enough in most years to see them through the winter. An unexpected bonanza came in 1849 when hundreds of travelers bound for the California gold fields came through Utah, eagerly trading scarce manufactured goods, exhausted animals, and even flour for local produce. The initial settlements by this time were well-enough established to begin colonization throughout the Rocky Mountain area.
The Saints founded dozens of colonies, at first primarily within the confines of present Utah. First settled was a core area extending north and south from the headquarters at Salt Lake City along the western edge of the mountains. The next colonies were in the higher mountain valleys of the region, such as the Cache and Heber valleys. Almost at the same time, other colonies were established in more distant areas, in response to particular needs, such as the founding of an iron industry (Parowan, Jan. 1851; Cedar City, Nov. 1851); establishing stations along immigration routes (San Bernardino, 1851; purchase of Fort Bridger, 1855); undertaking missions to the Indians (Fort Lemhi in present Idaho; Las Vegas, Nevada; Fort Supply in 1853 in present Wyoming; and the Elk Mountain Mission in east-central Utah, all in 1855); producing warm-climate crops, such as cotton and sugar (St. George, 1861); or, later, searching for a refuge for polygamous families.
The most common motive for colonization was the need to find land for a growing population of farmers, a need leading to settlement of most suitable sites in Utah by 1880 as well as others in northern Arizona, southwestern Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, western Wyoming, and southeastern Idaho. Often new areas were opened with a "mission" call (see Callings), wherein established settlers were asked to undertake a Church-sponsored mission to found a colony. Once the mother colony was established, nearby areas were settled spontaneously as young people coming of age sought land to farm.
The founding of a commonwealth in the West was not accomplished without conflicts and difficulties. A prolonged drought in 1855 was followed by a severe grasshopper infestation. The insecurities thus created may have helped feed the fire of the reformation of 1856-1857, a period of intense soul-searching and recommitment. The fiery and at times intemperate sermons of the Reformation had heightened pioneer anxieties when, early in 1857, believing exaggerated reports that the Mormons were in a state of rebellion, U.S. President James Buchanan secretly ordered 2,500 federal troops to Utah. Acting without the benefit of an investigation, Buchanan relieved Brigham Young as governor, a position to which Young had been reappointed even after the 1852 announcement of polygamy. Unfortunately, Buchanan did everything in secrecy, even stopping the mails to Utah to give the troops the advantage of surprise.
After receiving private confirmation of the government action, Brigham Young instructed all missionaries to return to Utah and ordered missions closed and the more isolated colonies abandoned. Accustomed to persecutions involving state militia, Latter-day Saints saw the advance of armed forces toward Utah as a prelude to plunder, rape, and slaughter. As they prepared for armed resistance, war hysteria swept the territory.
As advanced units of the Utah expedition approached Fort Bridger, they encountered the Saints implementing a "scorched earth" policy of resistance. Mormon raiders seized and burned federal supply trains and destroyed the forage in front of the advancing troops. The timely arrival of heavy snows mired the army for the winter, allowing mediators, especially Thomas L. Kane, time to seek reconciliation. Meanwhile, President Young ordered northern Utah settlements abandoned and organized the "Move South." If the Latter-day Saints had to leave their refuge, they would leave the Great Basin as much a wilderness as they had found it. Negotiations succeeded by spring, just as the army started to move. Alfred Cumming was installed as governor, and on June 12, 1858, Brigham Young accepted a pardon for his supposed rebellion. Two weeks later, General Albert Sidney Johnston led his troops through a deserted Salt Lake City and established an isolated Camp Floyd forty miles to the southwest. The Utah War became fittingly known as Buchanan's Blunder.
A disastrous consequence of the war hysteria was the Mountain Meadows Massacre of September 1857, in which local officials in southern Utah joined with Indians to massacre a company of settlers en route to California. It is well documented that Brigham Young's command was to let the travelers pass through in peace, but his advice arrived too late to prevent the killing, and a locally orchestrated cover-up portrayed the crime as solely an Indian depredation. Responding to charges that whites were involved, President Young urged the new governor to investigate, but Governor Cumming maintained that if whites were involved they would be pardoned under the general amnesty granted in 1858. Eventually, as more information came to light, some of the principal participants were excommunicated from the Church and one, John D. Lee, was convicted in federal court and executed.
Though preoccupied by the Civil War, the federal government nonetheless demonstrated interest in Utah Territory. In 1862 Fort Douglas was established on the eastern edge of Salt Lake City, under the leadership of a dedicated anti-Mormon, Patrick Edward Connor. Connor and his troops were charged with guarding transportation routes, but they also published the aggressively anti-Mormon Union Vedette, encouraged mining, and promoted non-Mormon immigration to the territory. In 1863 Connor's troops attacked a group of Northern Shoshone Indians on the Bear River in the northern Cache Valley, killing some 250 men, women, and children.
The decade following the Utah War was one of general expansion for the Church. In 1862 Congress enacted a law prohibiting polygamy in the territories and disincorporating the Church, but the law went unenforced until after Reynolds V. United States in 1879. Church immigrants continued to arrive by the thousands, and Brigham Young continued planting colonies to house them. The steady influx of non-Mormons to Utah and the construction of a transcontinental railroad, however, pointed toward future challenges to LDS domination of their Great Basin commonwealth.
The completion of the transcontinental railroad brought opportunities as well as challenges. Brigham Young had long anticipated the end of physical isolation and in some ways encouraged it. In 1852 and in 1854, the Saints petitioned Congress for a transcontinental railroad to pass through Utah. Such a railroad would simplify immigration and permit Church leaders to establish rail links connecting many distant colonies with Salt Lake City. When the Pacific Railroad Act was passed on July 1, 1862, President Young subscribed for $10,000 worth of stock in the newly organized Union Pacific Railroad Company, of which he became a director in 1865.
Though the railroad made it easier for Church immigrants to reach Utah, it also encouraged non-Mormon immigration. The end of isolation likewise threatened Utah's economic and political independence. In order to build the local economy and postpone the establishment of a powerful non-Mormon business community, Church officials had long struggled to discourage the importation of eastern manufactured goods. They now launched a determined campaign to discourage the purchase of imported luxuries, including tea, coffee, alcohol, and tobacco, and Joseph Smith's 1833 revelation discouraging the use of these products was given added emphasis (see Word of Wisdom).
Despite Brigham Young's long opposition to the development of precious metal-mining in Utah, the approach of the railroad revived enthusiasm for harvesting Utah's mineral wealth. Under the direction of several prominent Church businessmen and intellectuals such as William Godbe, Edward W. Tullidge, and Eli B. Kelsey, a "New Movement" developed within the Church against what they referred to as "Priesthood Autocracy." These men wrote persuasive articles in the Utah Magazine urging the exploitation of Utah's mineral resources in order to keep the industry in local (and therefore LDS) control. Envisioning a different result, Brigham Young denounced the "Godbeites" for inviting "Gentile" domination of Utah. Eventually, Godbe, whose doctrinal unorthodoxy posed an additional challenge, was excommunicated. Although Brigham Young rejected the Godbeite solution, he recognized the realities of the new economic situation and inaugurated a series of programs to reinforce spiritual solidarity and economic independence.
One part of Brigham Young's program involved the organization of the School of the Prophets in 1867. The original School of the Prophets had been established by Joseph Smith in 1833 to provide adult education and prepare for the temple. In the Utah organization, adoption of an economic program accompanied discussions of theology. The Schools of the Prophets instructed landowners in methods of securing property titles, solicited contributions of labor and funds to finance branch railroads, established locally owned cooperative merchandising and manufacturing enterprises, urged the reduction of wages to allow greater exportation of Utah goods, organized boycotts of hostile Gentile establishments, and required that members pledge to observe the Word of Wisdom. The Schools also contracted with the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads to grade the transcontinental line in Utah, thus limiting the influx of non-Mormon laborers and providing cash revenue to Latter-day Saints. Within a few years, as economic conditions changed, these organizations gradually disappeared.
More permanent than the Schools of the Prophets were the organizations that Brigham Young established for the women and youth of the Church. Between the rebirth of the Relief Society in 1867 and Brigham Young's death a decade later, with General President Eliza R. Snow assisting bishops in forming local organizations, the society spread to every Church settlement in the Great Basin. In addition to its charitable purposes, the Relief Society worked with the Schools of the Prophets in encouraging home industry and discouraging the purchase of imports. Major achievements of the Relief Society included the beginning of a grain storage program, launching silk culture, founding the woman's exponent, building Relief Society halls in most settlements, starting a commission store for home industries, and impressive support of women's medical training (see Maternity and Child Health Care). Relief Society leaders were also active in woman suffrage, and in 1870 Utah women were second to Wyoming women to receive the franchise.
In 1869 Brigham Young established an organization for young women with the unwieldy name "Young Ladies' Department of the Cooperative Retrenchment Association." He urged the girls to avoid all extravagances, and to "cease to build up the merchant who sends your money out of the Territory for fine clothes made in the East" (Susa Young Gates, History of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association of the Church, p. 9 [Salt Lake City, 1911]). The Young Ladies' Mutual Improvement Association, as it was later named, became an organization primarily concerned with cultural, social, and religious activity (see Young Women; Retrenchment Association).
After the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, both Union Pacific and Central Pacific defaulted on their grading contracts. The losses to the Mormon economy were staggering: $500,000 in cash, and even greater aggregate losses to subcontractors, merchants, and laborers. In an effort to compensate for these losses, Church leaders sponsored railroads within the territory, using the half million dollars' worth of iron, construction equipment, and rolling stock that the bankrupt Union Pacific had used as a substitute payment on its obligations. Although these railroads brought benefits to Utah, their success did not completely assuage the bitterness the Saints felt toward the initial setbacks with the transcontinental railroad.
In addition to intensifying his call for home manufacture and boycotts of non-Mormon merchants as the rails approached Utah, Brigham Young established a cooperative system of merchandising. In October 1868 he organized Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) to "bring goods here and sell them as low as they can possibly be sold and let the profits be divided with the people at large" (Arden Olsen, History of the Mormon Mercantile Cooperation in Utah, p. 80 [Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1935]). With widespread support, the new department store became a profitable enterprise that continues as Salt Lake City's largest retailer. Branch stores were established in many communities, as were cooperative tanneries, gristmills, dairies, butcher shops, banks, iron works, sawmills, woolen mills, and cotton factories. These helped the Saints forestall for another decade the "outside" control that the arrival of the railroad presaged.
The remarkable success of the Cooperative Movement suggested to Brigham Young that a revival of "The United Order of Enoch," long his goal, might now be feasible. Inaugurated by Brigham Young during the winter of 1873-1874, the Order Movement had been inspired by a desire to emulate attempts to live the law of consecration in the 1830s and by the success of the Brigham City Cooperative. Under the direction of Elder Lorenzo Snow, Brigham City had become eighty-five percent self-sufficient, conducting virtually all agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and trade in the surrounding area. Almost the entire population was employed in the various departments of the cooperative, and received their remuneration in products rather than cash. So successful was the Brigham City Cooperative that it was hardly affected by the financial Panic of 1873.
After Brigham Young launched the United Order movement, more than 200 orders were established throughout Utah, southern Idaho, northern Arizona, and Nevada. Because he left the operation of these orders in local hands, several different types emerged. Some, like Orderville in southern Utah, were almost totally communal. In the larger cities, where tightly organized communal orders were impossible, separate ward congregations financed individual cooperative enterprises, such as farms or factories, and then exchanged products. The manifestations of the United Order of Enoch varied, but they represented a genuine effort of the people to become "one," as the early revelations had commanded. As with nearly all voluntary enterprises of this nature, these orders eventually disbanded due to internal strains and external pressures. The movement itself ended by 1877, although some orders, such as that at Orderville, continued for another decade.
Prior to his death in 1877, Brigham Young was able to see the fulfillment of one of his most sacred aspirations-the completion of a temple in Utah. The full significance of temples and their ordinances dated back to the Nauvoo period, when Joseph Smith introduced baptism for the dead, marriage for eternity, and a set of religious instructions and covenants called the Endowment. Since abandoning the Nauvoo Temple in 1846, Brigham Young dreamed of a temple in the West. Upon arriving in the valley he dedicated ground in Salt Lake City for such a temple, but the imposing structure took forty years to complete. In the meantime, a temporary Endowment house, constructed in 1855, provided a place for sacred ordinances. After deciding to build a less imposing structure in the south, Brigham Young dedicated the completed St. George Temple on April 6, 1877. In the decade following his death, two additional temples were built in Utah (Logan and Manti) before the Salt Lake Temple was finally dedicated in 1893.
After the St. George temple dedication, Brigham Young initiated a massive reorganization of the Church, primarily at the local level, clarifying and redefining priesthood responsibilities in the process. Every ward and stake was affected and most received new leadership.
By the time of his death on August 29, 1877, Brigham Young had brought the Latter-day Saints to an apex of growth in their mountain retreat and kingdom. His dying words, "Joseph! Joseph! Joseph!" were appropriate for one who had lived his life, as he frequently said, as an apostle of Jesus Christ and of Joseph Smith. In his sometimes unbending manner, Brigham Young had worked for more than forty years to attain the goals of Joseph Smith. The Saints had achieved a unified economic and political power, though they would soon be forced to bend in the face of unrelenting federal pressure. More important, by courageously facing their challenges and pursuing their dreams in the desert, they had become a strong and cohesive people of faith. Committed to gospel ideals regardless of the costs, they left a heritage that continues to inspire Latter-day Saints throughout the world.
General works focusing on this period include Leonard J. Arrington, Brigham Young, American Moses, New York, 1985; and Great Basin Kingdom, Cambridge, Mass., 1958; Eugene E. Campbell, Establishing Zion: The Mormon Church in the American West, 1847-1869, Salt Lake City, 1988; Dean L. May, Utah: A People's History, Salt Lake City, 1987; and a brief account in Leonard J. Arrington and Michael Quinn, "The Latter-day Saints in the Far West, 1847-1900," in F. Mark MicKiernan, Alma R. Blair, and Paul M. Edwards, eds., The Restoration Movement: Essays in Mormon History, Lawrence, Kans., 1973, pp. 257-70.
In addition to numerous relevant articles in the Journal of Mormon History, BYU Studies, Dialogue, Sunstone, and the Utah Historical Quarterly, see" Richard E. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri 1846-1852, Norman, Okla., 1987, for the period leading to Utah settlement; Wallace Stegner's The Gathering of Zion, New York, 1964, a classic account of migration to Utah; Leonard J. Arrington, Feramorz Y. Fox, and Dean L. May, Building the City of God: Community and Cooperation Among the Mormons, Salt Lake City, 1976, which focuses on communitarianism; and Norman F. Furniss's The Mormon Conflict, 1850-59, New Haven, Conn., 1960, the best book-length study of the Utah War.
History of the Church: c. 1878-1898, Late Pioneer Utah Period
Author: SESSIONS, GENE A.
Author: HARTLEY, WILLIAM G.
C. 1878-1898 Late Pioneer Utah Period
[This article discusses a period of stress and adaptation following the death of Brigham Young as the Church confronted great pressures to conform to contemporary American mores. After presenting an overview of the period, the article considers organizational changes, economic programs, establishment of new LDS settlements, and missionary work, then focuses on the struggle over Polygamy, culminating in the Manifesto of 1890announcing the official end of Plural Marriage. In the wake of the Manifesto came home rule for Utah (see Utah Statehood), expanded proselytizing, attempts to shore up religious education (see Academies), and more limited Church economic involvement (see Pioneer Economy).
To understand daily life and what it meant to be a Latter-day Saint during this period, see Pioneer Life and Worshipand Social and Cultural History. For additional information on continued Church Colonizationinto new areas, see entries on pioneer settlements in Mexico and Central America, the Church inand Canada, the Church in, and in Arizona, Pioneer Settlements in, Colorado, Pioneer Settlements in, Idaho, Pioneer Settlements in, Nevada, Pioneer Settlements in, New Mexico, Pioneer Settlements in, and Wyoming, Pioneer Settlements in. On developments related to plural marriage, see: Legal and Judicial History of the Church; Antipolygamy Legislation; Reynolds V United States; and Manifesto of 1890.]
During the 1878-1898 period of growth, severe problems, and pronounced changes, the Church met many challenges under Church Presidents John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff. The 1879 Supreme Court ruling upholding antipolygamy legislation introduced a decade of ever harsher enforcement of ever harsher laws. Facing governmental persecution and seeking "home rule" through statehood, the Church moved to end the practice of plural marriage and surrender its once firm control of Utah Territory's politics and economics. In the 1890s Utah Territory and its LDS residents embarked on the road to "Americanization."
Though this period was noted for its prolonged confrontation with the federal government, growth was also a striking characteristic. Church membership doubled (from 115,065 to 229,428), as did the number of stakes (20 to 40) and wards (252 to 516). LDS settlements extended into Mexico and Canada. As proselytizing efforts expanded, the number of missions increased (from 8 to 20). Priesthood quorum work became more orderly and standardized. General Authorities regularly visited quarterly stake conferences and ward conferences. Auxiliary organizations became widely established in stakes and wards, and general-level auxiliary presidencies and boards were appointed. The Church also finished three new temples, bringing the total in Utah to four.
After President Young's death in August 1877, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles did not immediately organize a new First Presidency. John Taylor presided over the Church as president of the Twelve until October 1880. Under his leadership the Twelve completed the reorganization of wards and stakes that President Young had begun.
They also expanded auxiliary organizations. By 1880 the Twelve selected three of their own (Elders Wilford Woodruff, Joseph F. Smith, and Moses Thatcher) to form a general superintendency of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association (YMMIA; see Young Men) and to supervise new central YMMIA boards or committees created first for counties and later for stakes. The Young Ladies' retrenchment association became the Young Ladies' Mutual Improvement Association (YLMIA) in 1878, with boards established in the stakes beginning that year and a Churchwide organization beginning in 1880 with Elmina S. taylor as president (see Young Women). The Primary Association, a new organization to benefit children, was started in 1878 in Farmington, Utah. After other wards copied the program, a Churchwide primary organization was created in 1880, headed by Louie B. Felt. Relief Society President Eliza R. Snow continued to supervise all women's work in the Church, which now included YLMIA and Primary. Elder George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency continued as general superintendent of the Sunday schools throughout this period. The Sunday Schools, Relief Society, and MIA were organized in the British Isles and Scandinavia beginning in the late 1870s and early 1880s.
Legal tangles surrounding the settlement of Brigham Young's estate became a bothersome problem for the Twelve. After federal legislation severely limited Church holdings, President Young had controlled a complicated mix of personal and Church property. His heirs and the Church finally settled the matter by compromise out of court in 1879.
In 1880, its fiftieth birthday, the Church proclaimed a Year of Jubilee, modeled on an ancient Hebrew custom, to give relief to the poor. It erased from the books an indebtedness of $802,000 to the perpetual emigrating fund-half of the outstanding total. In addition to distributing cattle and sheep to the needy, authorities forgave the worthy poor half their unpaid tithing. The Relief Society also lent nearly 35,000 bushels of wheat from its storage bins to help drought-stricken farmers.
After directing the Church for three years, in October 1880 John Taylor and the Twelve again organized a First Presidency: John Taylor, President of the Church, and George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, who had previously served in the First Presidency under Brigham Young, as counselors.
Revelations to President Taylor in 1882 and 1883 prompted a reorganization of the seventy. For the first time the seventy-six local quorums were organized on a geographic basis, enrolling all seventies within their respective boundaries. In addition, between 1884 and 1888, twenty-five new quorums were created. This reorganization revitalized the Seventy, and the number of seventies filling full-time missions increased as soon as the change was implemented.
This period also saw a growth in Church-related publications. Two new magazines served the youth: the contributor (1879-1896) for young men and the young woman's journal (1889-1929) for young ladies. The Morgenstjernen (1882-1885), a historical publication in Danish, continued in English as The Historical Record (1886-1890). The Sunday School published its first music book (1884), and the Book of Mormon first appeared in a Swedish translation (1878). In 1880 the Church accepted by vote the Pearl of Great Price as scripture, giving the Church the fourth of its standard works. It also published, in 1879, editions of the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, with Elder Orson Pratt's chapter and verse divisions, cross-references, and notes.
President Taylor also implemented a new economic program. Less rigidly structured than the earlier united orders, it struck a balance between private enterprise and group economic planning. Zion's Central Board of Trade fostered cooperative economic activity by promoting business, seeking new markets, providing information to farmers and manufacturers, preventing competition harmful to home industry, and sometimes regulating wages and prices. Stake boards of trade coordinated with the central agency. Unfortunately, by 1885 anti-Mormon crusades forced these boards of trade to disband. Pioneer and presiding bishop Edward Hunter, who had served since the 1850s, died in 1883 and was replaced in 1884 by William B. Preston.
During the 1880s the Relief Society further developed programs that had begun in the 1870s: storing grain, maintaining ward Relief Society halls and commission stores, sponsoring nursing and midwifery education programs, overseeing the organizations for children and young women, watching over the spiritual well-being of LDS women, and improving the ongoing care of the poor. New developments included the 1882 opening of the Deseret hospital, Utah's second hospital and the first operated by the Church. The death of Eliza R. Snow in 1887 marked the end of an era for the Relief Society; in 1888 Zina Diantha H. young replaced her as president.
Despite severe problems, Church leaders remained committed to providing the blessings of temples to more of the Saints. To supplement the one functioning temple in St. George, President John Taylor dedicated Utah's second temple, at Logan, on May 17, 1884. Built primarily with donated money, materials, and labor, it cost an estimated $800,000. A third temple, in Manti, Utah, built at a cost close to $1 million, was dedicated in 1888 by Elder Lorenzo Snow, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Work also continued on the larger Salt Lake Temple, begun in 1853, but not completed until 1893.
Colonization continued. Between 1876 and 1879, no fewer than 100 new LDS settlements were established outside Utah and more than 20 within the territory. LDS settlements in Arizona expanded rapidly. Stakes, formed in the vicinity of the Little Colorado River in 1878 and 1879, were absorbed into the newly created St. Johns and Snowflake stakes in 1887. Meanwhile, along the Gila and Salt rivers, the St. Joseph and Maricopa stakes were formed in 1883. New LDS settlements appeared in Nevada; in eastern Utah, where the Emery Stake was created in 1882; and in southeastern Utah and nearby parts of Colorado and New Mexico, where the San Juan Stake was formed in 1883. Many LDS converts from the southern states settled in the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado, and in 1883 their settlements became the San Luis Stake.
Antipolygamy prosecution caused Church leaders to found colonies in Mexico and Canada, beyond the reach of U.S. laws. After President Taylor's 1885 visit to Mexico, hundreds of Saints poured into Chihuahua and established villages in a region that is still identified as Mexico's "Mormon Colonies" (see Mexico, Pioneer Settlements in). These settlements at first were part of the Mexican Mission. Within a decade more than 3,000 Saints had moved in, more settlements were established, and in December 1895 the Ju rez Stake was created to direct Saints in the Mexican colonies.
Under instructions from President Taylor, Cache Stake President Charles Ora Card located a place of refuge in southern Alberta in 1886 for Latter-day Saint colonists (see Canada, LDS Pioneer Settlements in). The next spring, arrivals from Utah founded Cardston, fourteen miles north of the United States border. Settlements sprang up nearby in Aetna (1888) and Mountain View (1893). In June 1895 the Alberta Stake became the first stake organized outside the United States (the Salt Lake Stake excepted, then in Mexican territory).
Missionary work produced impressive successes and brought frustrating problems. Between 1879 and 1889 the Church operated a small mission in Mexico that had about 242 converts. In New Zealand a branch was organized among the Maoris in 1883. In 1884 Jacob Spori opened the Turkish Mission, which included Palestine. Numbers of missionaries bound for Europe increased. The gathering to Utah of European converts continued, despite anti-Mormon publicity that prompted U.S. officials to ask European governments to stop Mormons from emigrating. That request was not granted.
After a Southern States Mission was organized in 1875, conversions occasionally provoked violence. Missionaries were driven from some communities, and in 1879 a Georgia mob shot and killed Elder Joseph Standing. At Cane Creek, Tennessee, in 1884, a mob murdered two missionaries and two residents who had shown an interest in the Church.
Wanting to see their history told fairly, Church leaders provided extensive information to California-based historian Hubert Howe Bancroft. Bancroft's History of Utah (1889) was one of the first non-LDS scholarly histories to treat the Church in a fair light.
In 1879 the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional the Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862, affirming the illegality of plural marriage (see Reynolds V United States). As new legislation was passed and prosecutions became more severe, polygamous husbands and fathers had four choices-give up their families, hide from the law, face prosecution, or leave the United States. Despite this crisis, President Taylor, declaring that when the laws of man and God conflict he would obey God, refused to desert his own plural families or to tell the other brethren to abandon theirs. Attacks on polygamy, often led by religious organizations, came from every direction. When national women's groups urged President Rutherford B. Hayes to prosecute Utah polygamists, 2,000 LDS women signed a resolution affirming that plural marriage was a religious practice protected under the Constitution.
Bitterness between the Saints and the gentiles brewed nationally and within Utah. Public pressure led Congress to pass the Edmunds Act in 1882, which mandated up to five years' imprisonment and $500 fines for polygamy, and up to six months and $300 fines for unlawful cohabitation (see Antipolygamy Legislation). Persons practicing polygamy or unlawful cohabitation lost their civil rights to serve on juries, hold public office, and vote. The law created a board of five commissioners to handle voter registration and elections. It declared children born of polygamists before January 1, 1883, legitimate, and it gave the president power to grant amnesties at his discretion.
The Utah Commission began its work in 1882 by declaring that anyone who had ever practiced plural marriage, even before the 1862 anti-bigamy law, could not vote. Since the commission required voters to take a "test oath," swearing that they were not in violation of the law, within one year the law disfranchised more than 12,000 Latter-day Saints. In 1885, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that this test oath was unconstitutional.
The judicial crusade against polygamists severely disrupted Church society in Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. Polygamous men and their families suffered greatly, as did the Church as an organization. Otherwise law-abiding husbands and fathers-and some wives and children-became fugitives in a Mormon "underground," frequently moving from place to place to escape federal marshals hunting "cohabs." Saints developed secret hiding places in homes, barns, and fields, codes to warn one another, and spotters to watch for the marshals. Federal "deps" (deputy marshals) adopted disguises as peddlers or census takers and hired their own spotters to question children and neighbors and to invade the privacy of homes. Bounties were offered for every cohab captured. Families suffered, particularly wives left to tend farms while their husbands were in hiding. Wives who refused to testify against their husbands were sent to prison. Men, women, and children suffered long periods of deprivation and fear.
In Utah between 1884 and 1893, 939 Saints went to prison for polygamy-related charges. In Idaho and Arizona the Saints suffered from similarly harsh prosecution. When Arizona prisons became crowded, cohabs were sent to a Detroit penitentiary. One Utahan, Edward M. Dalton, was killed by a pursuing deputy, which embittered the Saints against the government. So did a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a man who stopped living with his wife but who provided her food and shelter was guilty of cohabitation.
The crusade disrupted normal Church activities significantly. President Taylor avoided arrest by traveling. In the last public sermon he preached, he criticized what he called a judicial outrage, then went into hiding. Several apostles went into exile, taking special missions to remote areas in the West, Mexico, Canada, and Hawaii. Several others filled European missions and missions to Native Americans. Many stake presidents and bishops likewise tried to avoid arrest.
Between 1884 and 1887 general conferences were held in Provo, Logan, and Coalville, rather than in Salt Lake City, to help attenders avoid arrest. Few General Authorities attended. Elder Franklin D. Richards, an apostle who was immune from arrest because his plural wife had died, presided over some of the conferences. General epistles from President Taylor and President Cannon gave guidance to the conferences.
President Taylor directed the Church by letters. For more than two years President Taylor remained "underground," separated from most of his family and friends. He died in hiding in Kaysville, Utah, on July 25, 1887, after serving as a General Authority nearly forty-nine years. By the time of his death, nearly every settlement in Utah had been raided by federal marshals, hundreds of Saints had become refugees in Mexico or Canada, and nearly all the leaders were in hiding. At his funeral in Salt Lake City, he was honored for being a double martyr whose blood was shed in Carthage Jail with Joseph and Hyrum Smith and who then died in exile because of government persecution.
Once again the Council of the Twelve, led by senior apostle Wilford Woodruff, took the helm of the Church and steered the course, largely from the "underground," until they again established a First Presidency at general conference in April 1889. Elder Woodruff became Church President, and George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith were his counselors. This would be the last time that the Twelve delayed reorganizing the First Presidency upon the death of the President. In December 1892, President Woodruff, indicating that prolonged delay was not pleasing to the Lord, instructed senior apostle Lorenzo Snow to reorganize immediately upon his death.
By 1887 national political leaders saw that the Church was not bending to the law, so Congress framed a tougher measure, the Edmunds-Tucker Act, designed to destroy the Church as a political and economic entity in order to force the Saints to abandon plural marriage. The law dissolved the Church as a legal corporation, required the forfeiture of all property in excess of $50,000, dissolved the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company and claimed its property, and disbanded the Nauvoo Legion (territorial militia). To aid prosecutions, the law required compulsory attendance of witnesses at trials and confirmed the legality of forcing wives to testify against husbands. County probate judges, who helped impanel juries, had to be appointed by the President of the United States. Federally appointed officers took control of schools. Probate courts certified all marriages. The act disinherited all children born of plural marriages one year or more after the act was passed. Woman suffrage was abolished and a new test oath was designed. No one could vote, serve on a jury, or hold public office without signing an oath pledging support of antipolygamy laws.
Federal lawmen zealously tried to arrest and imprison Church leaders. President Woodruff stayed in the underground, near St. George, Utah, directing the Church by letter and private meetings. George Q. Cannon, President Woodruff's first counselor, was arrested in February 1886, posted bail, and then escaped into hiding until 1888 when, with a more lenient judge on the bench, he gave himself up. He served 175 days in prison and paid a $450 fine. Allowed visitors in prison, he was able to conduct much Church and personal business. He supervised the Sunday Schools and finished writing a biography of Joseph Smith. His presence buoyed up the spirits of his fellow cohabs in the prison. Latter-day Saints regarded these prisoners as martyrs and gave them gala receptions when they were released.
Arrests were a problem, but most damaging to the Church were its inability to acquire and use funds to further its work and the loss of political rights. To protect $3 million worth of real and personal property from confiscation, the Church asked prominent members to assume ownership of certain properties as trustees. Nonprofit associations were created to hold property, including the three Utah temples. Ward and stake associations took over local meetinghouses, tithing houses, and Church livestock. Many stakes established academies with the use of tithing that was returned to them by the Church.
Federal receivers confiscated about $800,000 worth of property not turned over to private parties or associations, then rented back certain properties to the Church, such as the Temple Block in Salt Lake City. Church leaders tested the constitutionality of the confiscations, but in 1890 the Supreme Court upheld the new law by a 5-4 vote. The economic destruction of the Church seemed certain.
Matching this economic crusade was a political assault. With all women, thousands of LDS men, and all convert-immigrants disfranchised, anti-Mormon politicians won control of the Ogden and Salt Lake City governments. In Idaho practically all Church members were disfranchised by a test oath requiring them to state under oath that they did not believe in or belong to a church that believed in plural marriage. When the Supreme Court in 1890 upheld the Idaho test oath, anti-Mormons pushed the Cullom-Struble Bill in Congress that would disfranchise all Latter-day Saints everywhere (see Legal and Judicial History of the Church).
Economically crippled and with its members denied political rights, the Church faced a ruinous future unless its practice of plural marriage was stopped. President Woodruff consulted with leaders and prayed earnestly to know what to do. After receiving divine revelation, he issued the manifesto on September 24, 1890, announcing an official end to plural marriage. "The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice," President Woodruff later said. "He has told me exactly what to do, and what the result would be if we did not do it" (Deseret Evening News, Nov. 14, 1891). The Manifesto said that the Church had halted the teaching of plural marriage and was not allowing new plural marriages. President Woodruff said he would submit himself to the laws of the land and urged Church members to do the same. At general conference on October 6, 1890, the Church accepted the Manifesto. It was incorporated into the Doctrine and Covenants in 1908.
Speaking for the First Presidency, George Q. Cannon explained that a revelation from 1841 applied in 1890; it had instructed the Church that when "enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those men, but to accept of their offerings" (D&C 124:49). Most Saints accepted the new direction, but not easily and not all. Indeed, a limited number of new plural marriages occurred in the next decade before Church leaders made it clear that all who persisted in the practice faced excommunication.
With the issuance of the Manifesto, hostilities ebbed and the Church entered a new era of cooperation. It was generally understood that husbands would not be required to reject their plural wives and their children, and local prosecutors became very lenient in punishing those charged with polygamy. U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, who in 1891 had visited Utah and shaken hands with President Woodruff, granted a limited amnesty to the Saints in 1893, followed by a general amnesty granted by U.S. President Grover Cleveland in 1894. After the Manifesto and the amnesties, General Authorities resumed their normal administrative duties.
Seeking statehood for Utah, Church leaders instructed Utah Saints to join the national political parties and become Democrats or Republicans. A Republican Congress passed an enabling act in 1894 that Democratic President Grover Cleveland signed. Utah wrote a new Constitution that prohibited plural marriage and ensured the separation of church and state. On January 4, 1896, Utah became a state, nearly fifty years after President Brigham Young first sought that status (see Utah Statehood).
In 1896 General Authorities accepted a "political manifesto" stipulating that none of them would run for elected office without prior approval of their presiding Church authorities. When Elder Moses Thatcher, an apostle, refused to sign the document, he was dropped from the Quorum of the Twelve.
During the 1890s the Church missionary force nearly tripled. In the Pacific region, missionary work penetrated into Samoa in 1888 and Tonga in 1891. In 1898 the Australasian Mission was split into the Australian and the New Zealand missions. Some Hawaiian Saints immigrated to Utah and created a settlement at Iosepa in western Utah. Missionary work was resumed in California in 1892 and in the eastern United States in 1893. Proselytizing continued in Europe, though emigration from there declined by 50 percent in the 1890s compared with the 1880s. By the 1890s the Church, with its base in America secured and most good land in the West occupied, discouraged immigration and asked overseas converts to build up stakes in their homelands rather than gather to Zion.
The Edmunds-Tucker Act strengthened public schools, which excluded religious education. In response, the Church began holding after-school religion classes in meetinghouses and established academies or high schools in larger settlements. Between 1888 and 1891 thirty-one LDS academies were opened in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Canada, and Mexico.
The 1890s saw Church women extending their reach and demonstrating their political rights. Continuing their affiliation with eastern women's movements, they became charter members of the National Council of Women and found their eastern associates to be important allies in their fight against disfranchisement. Relief Society-sponsored suffrage activities led to the inclusion of guaranteed woman suffrage in the 1895 Utah State Constitution.
After forty years, construction of the Salt Lake Temple was completed and dedicated in April 1893. Following a brief open house on April 5, the first opportunity for nonmembers to tour a temple, the sacred edifice was dedicated on April 6, forty years after the laying of the cornerstone. The dedicatory services were repeated between April 6 and May 18, and included five sessions reserved for children under the age for baptism; about 75,000 Latter-day Saints attended. Thereafter members of the Church entered the temple only to perform ordinances for the living and the dead. The following year President Woodruff announced by revelation that LDS family groups no longer needed to be sealed to prominent priesthood leaders by adoption (see Law of Adoption), but that they should be sealed by lineage as far back in time as possible. As a result, members began pursuing genealogy and performed sealing ordinances for ancestors several generations back. The Church created the genealogical society of Utah to assist researchers.
In 1893 the Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir, while on a major tour, sang at the Chicago World's Fair, winning second prize in an important contest. The entire First Presidency traveled with the choir, marking the first time a Church President had traveled east since the migration to the West nearly fifty years before. This performance was indicative of a new public image for the Church, though that same year the Church was denied representation in the World's Parliament of Religions, which also met in Chicago.
There were other significant developments under Wilford Woodruff's direction: in November 1896, the Church's monthly Fast Day was changed from the first Thursday to the first Sunday of each month, a practice that continues; in 1897, the custom of rebaptism was ended. In the same year, Wilford Woodruff, himself a pioneer of 1847, presided over a Churchwide commemoration of the first entrance into the Salt Lake Valley fifty years before. Salt Lake City celebrated with parades, programs, and the unveiling of a Brigham Young Monument.
During the 1890s the Church and Utah joined the American mainstream economically as well as politically. Many cooperative ventures became private, and most Church-controlled businesses were sold or started to compete as income-producing enterprises. But integration into the national economy was not painless. The earlier confiscation of properties and decrease in the payment of tithing caused by the antipolygamy crusade hurt the Church severely, as did the national depression of 1893. Leaders were forced to borrow heavily from eastern financiers to pay debts and meet obligations, and by 1898 the Church's debts exceeded $1,250,000. However, despite debt and a national depression, the Church promoted and invested in such basic industries as beet sugar manufacturing, hydroelectric power, and selected mining and transportation ventures to help expand the economic base of the Great Basin and benefit Latter-day Saint communities (see Economic History of the Church).
With the ending of plural marriages, the achievement of statehood for Utah, and entrance into the American mainstream in terms of politics and finances, Latter-day Saints moved firmly into a new era. One measure of the change was Church response to the Spanish-American War in 1898: the First Presidency encouraged LDS young men to support the national effort, thereby demonstrating LDS patriotism and loyalty.
President Wilford Woodruff died on September 2, 1898, in San Francisco, California, at the age of ninety-one. In accordance with his instructions, a new First Presidency was immediately named, with Elder Lorenzo Snow becoming the Church's fifth President.
History of the Church: c. 1898-1945, Transitions: Early-Twentieth-Century Period
Author: SADLER, RICHARD W.
Author: WALKER, RONALD W.
C. 1898-1945 Transitions: Early-Twentieth-Century Period
[At the turn of the century the Church's finances suffered from the lingering effects of the federal crusade against Polygamyand the public doubted that its recently declared cessation of Plural Marriagehad indeed taken effect. After discussing developments in these two areas, this article looks at the Latter-day Saints' integration into the larger American society, including examining the Church's position on war and peace. It also reviews the efforts to systematize that accompanied the steady growth throughout this period.
In addition to cross-references found in the text, relevant general articles include Organization: Organizational and Administrative Historyand Economic History of the Church. Centennial Observances accompanied the Church's one-hundredth anniversary in 1930. Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, and Heber J. Grant were Presidents of the Church during this period.]
The Church entered the twentieth century beleaguered and isolated. The LDS experience hitherto had involved founding, exodus to the isolated American West, building there a spiritual and temporal kingdom of God, and grappling with an unsympathetic and often hostile larger American community. The year 1898, however, was a watershed. Following the death of President Wilford Woodruff in September, Lorenzo Snow (1898-1901) succeeded to office and began a series of changes aimed at renewal and redefinition. He, along with his successors President Joseph F. Smith (1901-1918) and President Heber J. Grant (1918-1945), reacted to the sweeping changes of the first half of the twentieth century and reached back to preserve old values in a rapidly changing world. The result by the middle of the century was a Church accepted by and integrated into American society, more vigorous and vital than anyone but its most stalwart defenders might have foreseen a half century earlier.
An immediate problem was finances. The antipolygamy crusade (see Antipolygamy Legislation) had severely impaired revenue and assets, first by incarcerating leaders who normally managed donations and second by seizing and mismanaging Church property. The Panic of 1893 and the resulting depression made the situation worse. In an effort to provide employment and stimulate the local economy, leaders had borrowed money to fund public works and business projects. President Snow quickly ended this practice. His administration slashed expenditures, sold nonessential property, and urged followers to increase their financial contributions.
He dramatically announced this new policy in a southern Utah preaching tour. In May 1899, speaking to assembled members in St. George, he promised that faithful compliance to the Church's longstanding tithing code would bless members and at the same time free the Church from its debts. A year after President Snow's tithing emphasis, Church income doubled. Leaders also encouraged cash donations instead of in-kind commodities and instituted systematic spending and auditing procedures. Because of these reforms, by 1907 President Smith was able to announce that the Church at last had retired its debt. Annual tithing receipts stood at $1.8 million, in contrast to the Church's 1898 debt of $1.25 million. Moreover, the Church had property worth more than $10 million. The Church never again resorted to deficit spending, not even during the Great Depression.
President Snow's reforms did not preclude the holding of investment property or controlling of businesses by Church officers and directors (see Economic History of the Church). While some enterprises were divested, such as the Deseret Telegraph, the Utah Light and Railway Company, and the Saltair Resort at the Great Salt Lake, the Church particularly invested in concerns that advanced its social or institutional purposes. It retained the Deseret news, and in the early 1920s leaders established one of the country's first radio stations, later known as ksl radio. The Salt Lake theatre, the pioneer playhouse, was returned to the Church to provide sanctioned recreation-only to close at the onset of the Depression because of reduced box office revenues and what Church leaders thought were declining theatrical values.
Drawing on the precedent of the Nauvoo house, Salt Lake City's Hotel Utah was built to draw tourists from hostile non-Mormon hoteliers and enhance the Church's image. The Beneficial Life Insurance Company provided low-cost insurance. The Utah Sugar Company, transformed into the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, continued to provide local farmers a market for their most important cash crop, while Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) and Zion's Savings Bank & Trust attended the public with competitive retailing and banking services. This altruistic investment policy was also pursued on a broader level. Church leaders sat on the board of other corporations important to the region.
These investments and the social concerns they expressed harked back to the pioneer ideals of community concern and uplift. They were not the only remnant of the past. Plural marriage continued to be a troublesome issue for Latter-day Saints and focused national attention on the Church, particularly during the Snow and Smith administrations. Although many members believed that the 1890 manifesto ended plural marriage, others interpreted the pronouncement as simply shifting the responsibility for practicing it from the Church to the individual. As a result, from 1890 to 1904 some plural marriages continued, though on a greatly reduced level. Moreover, while some husbands stopped living with plural wives, most felt a moral and spiritual obligation to continue caring for their families.
This confusion and ambiguity spilled over visibly into politics. In 1898 Elder B. H. Roberts, a member of the first council of seventy and the husband of three wives, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Salt Lake Ministerial Association and similar organizations elsewhere used Roberts's election to focus on continuing plural marriages, charging the Church with failure to abide by the agreements that had brought Utah statehood. Anti-Roberts petitions containing seven million signatures flooded Congress and the House eventually refused Roberts his seat.
Still more serious was the case of Reed Smoot. The 1903 election of Smoot, a monogamous member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, to the U.S. Senate once more stirred national uproar. The Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections commenced hearings on Smoot in 1904 (see Smoot Hearings), but Congress focused more often on the Church itself. Were church and state truly separate in Utah? Did the Church control the conduct of its members? Did it encourage polygamy and polygamous cohabitation? During the two-year investigation, President Joseph F. Smith and other leaders testified before the committee. Others, such as Matthias F. Cowley and John W. Taylor, suspected of performing plural marriages since the Manifesto, refused. To close the controversy and demonstrate the Church's willingness to make the question a matter of discipline, President Smith announced a "Second Manifesto" that expressly forbade future plural marriages. He also required the resignations of both Cowley and Taylor from the Council of the Twelve. In 1907 the Senate narrowly voted to allow Smoot to retain his seat.
Plural marriage still failed to recede entirely, even in the face of the now resolute policy of President Smith and later President Grant. Elders Cowley and Taylor, for instance, each received further discipline for additional plural marriage activity, the former being "disfellowshipped," while Taylor, after taking an additional plural wife, was excommunicated. Their conduct was similar to that of a growing number of former Mormons in the twentieth century. Styled fundamentalists, they accepted automatic excommunication rather than yield on plural marriage or discard other nineteenth-century practices. Unlike Latter-day Saints generally, who were strengthened by their belief in current prophetic revelation and therefore approached new times in new ways, the Fundamentalists faced the modern world by looking backward.
Nor did the plural marriage issue go away in the popular press. During the first decade of the twentieth century and even beyond, the Church came under severe public scrutiny by muckrakers and political opponents in Utah. Newspapers, magazines, and cinema in both the United States and Europe focused on sensationalized (and often fictionalized) aspects of polygamy, depicted Church leaders as autocrats, and denounced the Church as un-American and un-Christian (see Anti-Mormon Publications; Stereotyping of Latter-Day Saints). Old charges of danite atrocities and blood Atonement resurfaced. In Utah the assault was led by two former U.S. Senators, Frank J. Cannon and Thomas Kearns, who used the Salt Lake Tribune to launch bitter attacks on Smoot and the Church and to support the American Party. This short-lived, anti-Mormon political party controlled Salt Lake City government from 1905 to 1911.
The Church attempted to meet the barrage of abuse even though the tide flowed strongly against it. Early efforts included promoting Saltair Resort and Salt Lake City's Temple Square as visitors centers. With the tabernacle organ and Mormon Tabernacle Choir as attractions, the latter site by 1905 annually drew 200,000 visitors. Attendance climbed steeply thereafter. When possible, leaders placed refutations in the muckraker publications. Moreover, a point-by-point rebuttal was read during the Church 1911 general conference. Perhaps the ablest and most enduring rejoinder came from B. H. Roberts. From 1909 to 1915, he issued a series of articles on Mormon history in the magazine Americana. These were later updated as Roberts's fair-minded, six-volume comprehensive History of the Church.
Increasingly men and women outside the Church also defended the Latter-day Saints. By 1900 C. C. Goodwin, a former editor of the anti-Mormon Salt Lake Tribune and longstanding critic, frankly labeled Mormons as successful, prosperous, and generally likable. Leading sociologist Richard T. Ely praised LDS group life. Morris R. Werner produced a Brigham Young biography devoid of previous stereotypes and hostility. These path-breaking ventures were followed by others. By the late 1920s President Grant conceded that virtually anything the Church might request could be placed in the media. Indeed Time Magazine gave President Grant cover treatment, while Hollywood studios completed such favorable motion pictures as Union Pacific and Brigham Young.
In part the change in public attitude came from the integration of Church members into the larger American society. Nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints expanded their agricultural settlements throughout the mountain West and even into Canada and Mexico (see Colonization), although their agrarian communities were often tightly knit, provincial enclaves. In contrast, as LDS outmigration continued in the twentieth century, Church members now rubbed shoulders with fellow Americans in urban settings. During the 1920s, for instance, the percentage of Latter-day Saints living in the intermountain West declined while those living on the American West Coast rose. In 1923 the Los Angeles Stake, the first modern stake outside the traditional Mormon cultural area, was created. Between 1919 and 1927 the number of Latter-day Saints in California increased from fewer than 2,000 to more than 20,000. The twentieth-century Church dispersion had begun, first with the migration of large numbers to the West Coast, then also with increasing volume to the East and Midwest.
Direct contact with neighbors lessened cultural, religious, and even emotional barriers, bringing Mormons and non-Mormons an increased appreciation for each other. The growing number of successful Americans who were also Latter-day Saints or Utah-born accelerated the process. Maud Adams was lionized for her widely popular stage portrayal of Peter Pan. Philo T. Farnsworth's inventions brought about television. Cyrus Dallin and Mahonri Young achieved distinction in the arts.
Latter-day Saints were particularly drawn to public affairs. Edgar B. Brossard became a member and then chairman of the United States Tariff Commission. J. Reuben Clark, Jr., rose in the higher levels of the State Department bureaucracy, finishing his government career as ambassador to Mexico. During the New Deal, Marriner S. Eccles was chairman of the Federal Reserve System. James H. Moyle served as assistant secretary of the treasury from 1917 to 1921, while William Spry was commissioner of public lands from 1921 to 1929. Heber M. Wells was the treasurer of the U.S. Shipping Board. Richard W. Young became a U.S. commissioner of the Philippines and returned from the First World War as Utah's first regular army general. For members of a once persecuted religious minority, each such personal success betokened the Church's growing acceptance and prestige. "Outsiders" were becoming "insiders."
Two Church members had disproportionate influence in shaping the Church's new image. One was Reed Smoot. Aloof, but honest and utterly tireless in his devotion to government duty and Church interests, Smoot remained in the Senate for thirty years. As chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, he wielded major influence over American economic policy. More than any other Latter-day Saint in public service, he personified the Church, assuaging questions about its patriotism and integrity by his personality and presence.
The other was President Heber J. Grant. A businessman by inclination and early profession, President Grant's homespun ways and business-mindedness charmed an age given to commercial enterprise. Non-Mormons delighted particularly in his speeches. Concluding an address before the San Francisco Commonwealth Club, he was greeted with cries of "Go on! Go on!" When he addressed the Second Dearborn Conference of Agriculture, Industry, and Science, the "Chemurgicians" twice gave him standing ovations. His public relations ministry included more than delivering speeches. He promoted tours of the Tabernacle Choir. He personally guided nationally prominent business and political leaders through Salt Lake City and cultivated their friendship. He visited U.S. Presidents Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House. While President Grant was respected by his own people, non-Mormons also liked and idealized him.
The Church's sturdy growth during the period reflected its more positive image. Membership more than tripled during the half century; from the years 1900 to 1945 totals grew from 268,331 to 979,454. Prior to 1898 the Church had organized 37 stakes (16 were discontinued); by 1945 another 116 had been added. The Church's missionary force changed and increased accordingly, growing younger, attracting more unmarried individuals, and after 1898, including an increasing number of young women. At the turn of the century, fewer than 900 missionaries were called annually; by 1940 there were 2,117.
Missionary work continued to be a major preoccupation. The most ambitious new mission was Japan, opened in 1901 by missionaries led by Elder Heber J. Grant, then an apostle. Three years later the Mexican mission was reopened. The 1920s saw more than 11,000 German-speaking converts, though most converts came from English-speaking areas: Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, with the Southern States Mission being the most successful. Unfortunately, there as elsewhere, missionaries were subject to acts of physical violence. At the beginning of the century, annual convert baptisms were 3,786; a half century later the total had reached 7,877.
The Church sought to make its proselytizing more effective. Instead of dispatching missionaries without "purse and scrip," most now were financially supported by their families or local congregations. Missionary training classes were organized at Church academies and colleges. In the mid-1920s a Salt Lake City "Mission Home" for departing sisters and elders was inaugurated, where missionaries typically received lessons on proper diet, hygiene, etiquette, and especially missionary techniques and Church doctrine for two weeks. The era also produced new proselytizing tracts. Charles W. Penrose wrote a series entitled Rays of Living Light, James Talmage completed the Great Apostasy, and Ben E. Rich authored A Friendly Discussion. To preserve a sense of its heritage and to help tell its story, the Church purchased sites of significance to its early history (see Historical Sites): the Carthage Jail in Illinois (1903), where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum had been killed; a part of the Independence, Missouri, temple site (1904); Joseph Smith's birthplace in Sharon, Vermont (1905-1907); and the Smith homestead in Manchester, New York (1907). At each of these locations, the Church eventually constructed visitors centers.
Perhaps more than by expansion, the era was characterized by internal consolidation. Lorenzo Snow's succession to office was symptomatic. For the first time the accession of the senior-tenured apostle to the office of Church president was completed within days instead of the past interregnums of about three years (see Succession in the Presidency). Recognizing the Church's increasing complexity, President Snow urged General Authorities to devote their full time to their ministry. By 1941 the question no longer was simply leadership efficiency but expansion. "The rapid growth of the Church in recent times, the constantly increasing establishment of new Wards and Stakes [and] the steadily pressing necessity for increasing our missions in numbers and efficiency," the First Presidency noted in 1941, "have built up an apostolic service of the greatest magnitude" (CR [Apr. 1941]:94-95). In response to these new requirements, five men were appointed assistants to the Twelve. In contrast to the short-term laity that continued to occupy most Church positions, "general" Church officers-about thirty in number-now received compensation and served full-time, lifelong ministries.
Priesthood governance was also altered. The first half of the century saw a steady decentralizing of decision making as stake and local leaders received enlarged authority. The Church reduced the size of stakes to make them more functional and placed new emphasis on "ward teaching" (see Home Teaching). With smaller districts and more boys and men assigned to teaching, the percentage of families receiving monthly visits grew from 20 percent in 1911 to 70 percent a decade later. Finally, in a major departure from pioneer practice, members were urged to take secular disputes to civil and criminal courts rather than to Church tribunals. Once a means of regulating social and economic issues, Church courts now concerned themselves exclusively with Church discipline.
Priesthood quorums were strengthened. Priesthood meetings were now held weekly, with meeting quality improved by centrally generated lesson materials. President Joseph F. Smith in 1906 outlined a program of progressive priesthood advancement for male youth. Contingent on worthiness, young men received ordination to the office of deacon at the age of twelve, teacher at fifteen, and priest three years later. In turn, worthy men typically received the offices of elder and high priest, altering the nineteenth century dominance of the seventy among adult men. In 1910 quorums of high priest and seventy were realigned to coincide with stake boundaries, allowing closer direction by local authorities.
The tendency toward consolidation was also manifest in the Church's auxiliary organizations. Youth programs, once informal, diverse, and locally administered, increasingly yielded to centrally directed age group programs and unified curricula. The children's primary Association no longer served older youth, while the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association (YMMIA) and its young women counterpart (YWMIA) included adolescents as young as twelve (see Young Men; Young Women). At first both the national Boy Scout and Campfire Girl programs were used for younger MIA members (see Scouting), but soon the latter was dropped in favor of an indigenous program. Activity programs received increasingly strong emphasis. With Sunday school and now priesthood quorums providing doctrinal instruction, the MIA increasingly turned to dance, drama, music, and sports. Church headquarters produced a magazine for each auxiliary: The Primary had the children's friend (1902) and the Sunday School the juvenile instructor (1900), later known as the instructor (1929). YMMIA had the improvement era (1897), YWMIA the young woman's journal (1889); in 1929 the two joined forces and the improvement era became the publication for both. Articles, curricula, and programs were periodically reviewed and correlated. For instance, a general Church Correlation Committee and the Social Advisory Committee combined to issue a pivotal and far-reaching report in 1921 (see Correlation of the Church Administration).
The Relief Society experienced these same trends. Its first three twentieth-century presidents, Zina D. H. Young (1888-1901), Bathsheba W. Smith (1901-1910), and Emmeline B. wells (1910-1921), all remembered the Nauvoo organization. For them women's meetings were to be spontaneous, spiritually active, and locally determined. The new century, however, redefined their vision. In 1901 a few lesson outlines were provisionally provided. Twelve years later, with the recommendation of a Church correlation committee, Relief Society leaders adopted a uniform, prescribed curriculum. They also implemented uniform meeting days (Tuesday), record books, and a monthly message for the visiting teaching women who made monthly home visits. In 1915 an official Relief Society magazine replaced the semi-independent woman's exponent, a voice for Relief Society since 1872. While the First Presidency at first endorsed the continuation of female prayer healing-often undertaken in meetings on an impromptu basis-the practice dwindled and by mid-century was abolished. As a further sign of centralization under priesthood leadership, the Relief Society was housed in the Bishop's Building and increasingly received its direction from the Presiding Bishopric rather than the First Presidency. Though Relief Society had once played a role in developing and supervising the Primary and YWMIA, their supervision of the children's and youth auxiliaries ended.
The Relief Society's later presidents, Clarissa S. williams (1921-1928), Louise Y. robison (1928-1939), and Amy Brown lyman (1940-1945), cooperated in these changes. Speaking for modernism and efficiency, they and their advisory boards set aside such past tasks as home industry, silk culture, and commission retailing in favor of community outreach; "scientific" or professionally trained social work; campaigns against alcohol, tobacco, and delinquency; and, during the Great Depression, public relief. The latter effort was crucial. "To the extent that Relief Society Organizations in Wards are operating in cooperation with Priesthood Quorums and Bishoprics," declared Elder Harold B. Lee, who led the Church's relief efforts, "just to that extent is there a security [welfare] program in that ward" (Relief Society Magazine 24 [Mar. 1937]:143). These efforts reflected the early-twentieth-century Mormon feminine ideal. Women were to uplift, soften, and assist. While women leaders continued to play an active role in the National and International Council of Women, the rank and file were less active in political, social, and professional roles than in homemaking.
Several doctrinal issues were clarified, another indication of systematization at work. From the early years of the Snow administration, Church authorities discussed how strictly the 1833 health revelation, the Word of Wisdom, should be obeyed. In 1921 the question was answered by making abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee one of the standards for admission to temples. During the century's first three decades, the health code led most Latter-day Saints to support local, state, and national prohibition.
In 1909 the First Presidency issued a statement designed to clarify the Church position on evolution. While the method of creation was not discussed, the declaration held that "Adam was the first man and that he was created in the image of God." The issue remained troublesome, however. Along with the question of higher biblical criticism, it led to the resignation of three Brigham Young University professors in 1911 and to extended private discussion among Church leaders two decades later.
In 1916 the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve issued a second important doctrinal exposition entitled "The Father and the Son." Apparently occasioned by anti-Mormon pamphleteering charging the Church leaders with conferring divinity on Adam, the statement delineated the respective roles of the first two members of the Godhead. Shortly before his death, Joseph F. Smith received a vision of missionary work and spiritual existence in the afterlife, which was eventually included as Section 138 in the Doctrine and Covenants. In addition to specific matters, general LDS doctrine and history received systematic treatment, often for the first time, by such works as President Smith's Gospel Doctrine, Elder James E. Talmage's Articles of Faith and Jesus the Christ, and Elder B. H. Roberts's three-volume New Witnesses for God.
With its membership still predominantly American, the Church was especially affected by the events occurring in the United States during this period. Almost from the outset, President Grant's administration was beset with hard times. Farming and mining, two of Utah's main industries, slumped badly in the 1920s and especially in the 1930s during the Great Depression. President Grant carefully conserved Church finances, trimming expenditures and construction projects. Using his contacts with national business and political leaders, he kept key Utah and Church-owned enterprises afloat. He was also concerned for the individual Saint. After careful preparation, he announced in 1936 the Church Welfare Program (see Welfare Services), which sought self-sufficiency and sustenance for the needy by simultaneously providing both work and needed commodities.
Despite difficult times, the Church maintained its primary functions. Just prior to the economic downturn, it completed an imposing five-story building in Salt Lake City. Temples were completed in Hawaii (1919); Cardston, Alberta, Canada (1923); and Mesa, Arizona (1927). Education also received attention. Between 1875 and 1911, the Church established thirty-four all-purpose academies. However, as the century progressed, financial distress and the rising acceptance of public education brought changes, and many of the academies were closed or transferred to state control (see also Education). The Church, however, did not entirely surrender its educative role. A released-time seminary program for high school students began in 1912 (see Seminaries), and during the 1920s, institutes of religion for college students were established, the first at the University of Idaho.
Twentieth-century wars and warfare demonstrated the distance the Church had traveled from nineteenth-century alienation and isolation. Latter-day Saints supported the Spanish-American War effort and U.S. involvement in the two twentieth-century world wars. In the former the First Presidency issued a statement affirming the loyalty of the Latter-day Saints and telegraphed local leaders to encourage enlistment. Utah became one of the first states to fill its initial quota. Involvement in World War I was even more substantial. At first uncertain of its proper role, the Church eventually helped Utahans oversubscribe the government's financial quota for the state. By September 1918 Utah had more than 18,000 men under arms, almost half of them volunteers. Participation in the Second World War was more dutiful, perhaps because of the private misgivings of President Grant and his Counselor J. Reuben Clark over New Deal policymaking. Nevertheless, by April 1942, 6 percent of the total Church population served in the American forces or in defense-related industries; others served for Canada, Britain, and Germany.
While each conflict saw some pacifist currents and even opposition, the general tendency was supportive of the need to yield loyalty to constituted government. "The Church is and must be against war," the First Presidency declared in April 1942. Yet when "constitutional law calls the manhood of the Church into the armed service of any country to which they owe allegiance, their highest civic duty requires that they heed that call" (CR, pp. 88-97; see War and Peace).
While documenting religiosity is difficult, statistics suggest the impact of the Church on the everyday life of its people. Meeting attendance showed sturdy growth throughout the era. In 1920 weekly average attendance at Sacrament meeting was 16 percent; in 1930, 19 percent; in 1940, 23 percent; and 1950, 25 percent. Suggestive of Church family ideals, LDS birthrates exceeded the national average, as did marriage rates. No doubt the Church health code is reflected in the fact that in 1945 the LDS death rate was about half the national average.
A closer view of statistics reveals that in the decades of the early twentieth century the number of children born per LDS family declined, the age at time of marriage increased, and divorce ratios often mirrored national trends-lingering behind but moving in the same direction as national trends, as if assimilation were simply incomplete (see Vital Statistics).
The half-century brought social, cultural, and political integration; growth and consolidation; and programs that redefined and reapplied earlier Church ideals. But the era also produced indications that Church members were not immune to such broad currents as secularism and even materialism. For observers, at mid-century basic questions remained: Could the Church preserve its traditional values and energy? Or would its journey into the modern world cost the movement its identity and mission?
For general surveys of the period:
Alexander, Thomas G. Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930. Urbana, Ill. 1986.
Allen, James B., and Glen M. Leonard. The Story of the Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, 1976.
Arrington, Leonard, J., and Davis Bitton. The Mormon Experience. New York, 1979.
Church Education System. Church History in the Fulness of Times. Salt Lake City, 1989.
Cowan, Richard O. The Church in the Twentieth Century. Salt Lake City, 1985.
Roberts, B. H. A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, 1930.
For LDS programs, policies, and teachings during the period:
Alexander, Thomas G. "Between Revivalism and the Social Gospel: The Latter-day Saints Social Advisory Committee, 1916-1922." BYU Studies 23 (Winter 1983):19-39.
Alexander, Thomas G. "The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine: From Joseph Smith to Progressive Theology." Sunstone 5 (July-Aug. 1980):24-33.
Alexander, Thomas G. "'To Maintain Harmony': Adjusting to External and Internal Stress, 1890-1930." Dialogue 15 (Winter 1982):44-58.
Hartley, William G. "The Priesthood Reform Movement, 1908-1922." BYU Studies 12 (Winter 1973):137-56.
Hefner, Loretta L. "This Decade Was Different: Relief Society's Social Services Department, 1919-1929." Dialogue 15 (Autumn 1982):64-73.
History of the Church: c. 1945-1990, Post-World War II International Era Period
Author: ALLEN, JAMES B.
Author: COWAN, RICHARD O.
C. 1945-1990 Post World War II International Era Period
[Since World War II, the Church has enjoyed-and had to cope with-rapid international growth. After summarizing postwar revitalization and the attendant increases in membership, the article focuses on the adaptations that accompanied growth and internationalization. In surveying recent developments, it provides an introduction to the contemporary Church.
For additional information about Church growth during this period, see Vital Statisticsand articles about the Church in Africa, the Church in; Asia, the Church in: Asia East; Asia, the Church in: Asia South and Southeast; Australia, the Church in; British Isles, the Church in; Canada, the Church in; Europe, the Church in; Hawaii; Mexico and Central America, the Church in; Middle East, the Church in the; New Zealand, the Church in; Oceania, the Church in; Scandinavia, the Church in; South America, the Church in: Brazil; South America, the Church in: South America, North; South America, the Church in: South America, South; and West Indies, the Church in. For developments in organization and procedure, see Organization: Organizational and Administrative History; Organization: Contemporary Organization. Consult also the biographies of those who served as Church President in this period: George Albert Smith (1945-1951); David O. McKay (1951-1970); Joseph Fielding Smith (1970-1972); Harold B. Lee (1972-1973); Spencer W. Kimball (1973-1985); and Ezra Taft Benson (1985-).]
Throughout his life and ministry, President George Albert Smith's prevailing message was one of love. It was fitting, therefore, that it was during his administration that goods were sent from America to Europe to help relieve the suffering of the Saints following World War II, especially those in Germany who had been devastated by war. In 1946 Ezra Taft Benson, of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, directed the reopening of the European Mission and the Church's relief efforts there. He found branches disorganized, meetinghouses destroyed, and many members without homes. Most had lost possessions and everywhere there was pressing need for food and clothing. The Church's Welfare Services became a significant factor in the recovery of many Saints as well as some nonmembers.
Since the war had postponed everything from missionary work to building construction, it was necessary to reestablish and revitalize Church programs everywhere. The missionary force was rapidly rebuilt and hundreds of meetinghouses were constructed. Half of all the chapels in use in the mid-1950s were erected in the years following World War II, a period when more than half of all Church expenditures went for building projects.
BECOMING AN INTERNATIONAL CHURCH. The close of World War II marked the dawn of a new era in Church history in which a dominant theme was international growth. In 1947 Church membership reached one million, and by 1990 the total was over seven million. Growth was especially strong along America's West Coast, in Latin America, and, after 1978, in Africa. In 1950 the Church had 180 organized stakes, nearly half of them in Utah; in 1990 there were 1,700 stakes, with less than one-fourth in Utah. In 1950 the Church was organized in fewer than 50 nations or territories, but by 1990 it had expanded to 128. Less than 8 percent of the Church lived outside the United States and Canada in 1950, but forty years later this was approximately 35 percent. During the same period the number of missionaries grew from 6,000 to 40,000 and the number of temples increased from eight, only one of which was outside the United States, to forty-four, with twenty-three outside the United States.
This remarkable growth resulted from renewed efforts to fulfill the revelation given to Joseph Smith "that the kingdom may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth" (D&C 109:72). Early in his administration President David O. McKay, the first to travel so extensively as Church President, toured missions in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the South Pacific, dedicating two temple sites in Europe and announcing that a temple would be built in New Zealand. In 1955 he declared that the Church must "put forth every effort within reason and practicability to place within reach of Church members in these distant missions every educational and spiritual privilege that the Church has to offer" (CR [Apr. 1955]:25). Building temples, increasing the number of missions, organizing stakes worldwide, persuading the Saints to build up Zion in their homelands rather than emigrate to America, and eventually putting Church leadership into the hands of each country's native people were all significant steps toward fulfilling that goal. In addition, increasing emphasis was placed on calling local missionaries who, in some areas, later essentially replaced American missionaries.
Growth did not come without its problems, however, not the least of which was sorting out which practices, teachings, and programs really constituted the essence of the gospel and which were reflections of the American culture in which the Church had grown. To open the eyes of members-particularly Americans-to the need for defining the gospel in terms of universal principles, Church leaders spoke out with increasing frequency. In 1971, for example, Elder Bruce R. McConkie reminded some American Saints that in New Testament times even the apostles were so indoctrinated with the idea that the Plan of Salvation was limited to a particular people that they found it difficult to take it to gentile nations, and he applied the lesson to the modern Church. He called upon American Saints to rise above their biases, though there would be "some struggles and some difficulties, some prejudices, and some uncertainties along the way." Other peoples, he noted, "have a different background than we have, which is of no moment to the Lord . It is no different to have different social customs than it is to have different languages . And the Lord knows all languages" (Palmer, pp. 143, 147). In 1987 Elder Boyd K. Packer reminded a group of Church leaders that "We can't move [into various countries] with a 1947 Utah Church! Could it be that we are not prepared to take the gospel because we are not prepared to take (and they are not prepared to receive) all of the things we have wrapped up with it as extra baggage?" (as quoted in Dialogue 21 [Fall 1988]:97). The goal was to ennoble people of diverse cultures and perspectives to more fully find true brotherhood and sisterhood within the common spiritual bounds of the Church.
In 1974 President Spencer W. Kimball challenged members to "lengthen our stride" in carrying the gospel to all the earth, and urged them to pray that barriers might be removed. He appointed David M. Kennedy, former U.S. secretary of the treasury and ambassador-at-large, as the Church's international representative to work with governments in resolving problems that had hindered the Church's activities. In 1977 the Church was legally recognized in Poland, and in 1985 a temple was dedicated in the German Democratic Republic. The dramatic political revolutions of 1989-1990 opened other eastern bloc countries and led to the beginnings of LDS missionary work in the Soviet Union.
One of the far-reaching changes in the twentieth century was the revelation received by President Spencer W. Kimball in June 1978 extending priesthood blessings to all worthy male members. The result of long and earnest prayer, the revelation meant that "the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood without regard for race or color" (see Doctrine and Covenants: Official Declaration 2). Without delay, worthy blacks were sealed in temples and many received assignments as missionaries and leaders. In Ghana and Nigeria, where blacks had been pleading for the establishment of the Church for years, the Church grew rapidly, but it also expanded in other areas with large black populations. The first black General Authority, Elder Helvécio Martins of Brazil, was sustained at the general conference of the Church in April 1990.
ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES. Numerous administrative changes also reflected the demands of Church growth. In 1967 stakes were organized into regions. Beginning in 1975, several regions were organized into areas, and by 1984 area presidencies, each consisting of three General Authorities, were assigned responsibility for stakes throughout the world.
In 1975 President Kimball announced the organization of the First Quorum of the seventy, members of which were General Authorities of the Church and included the former assistants to the Twelve. In 1989 the Second Quorum of the Seventy was organized; these General Authorities serve for terms of three or five years. In 1978 the practice was begun of placing members of the Seventy on emeritus status for reasons of health or age, and the following year the patriarch to the church also became an emeritus.
General Authorities also took steps to more effectively coordinate Church programs and, beginning in 1961, placed greater emphasis on "priesthood correlation" (see Priesthood; Correlation of the Church Administration). Under the chairmanship of Elder Harold B. Lee, committees at Church headquarters planned, prepared, and reviewed curricula and activities for all organizations or age groups. They defined more carefully the unique roles of each organization and eliminated unnecessary duplication. Leaders focused on the home as the most effective place for teaching and applying gospel principles. Family Home Evening received renewed emphasis, and beginning in 1965 attractive manuals providing lesson helps were issued.
In the early 1970s there was also a consolidation of administrative responsibilities at Church headquarters. Agencies were grouped into several large departments, each under the jurisdiction of one or more General Authorities, with full-time professionals generally managing day-to-day operations. For example, the Welfare, Social Services, and health programs were consolidated into a Welfare Services Department. A tangible symbol of this consolidation was the new twenty-eight-story Church office building in Salt Lake City, bringing most Church administrative units together. In 1970, functions of Aaronic Priesthood and the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association were combined (see Young Men). In 1971 the publishing program was consolidated (see Magazines). Magazines in other languages than English were unified in 1967, with standardized content except for local matters (see International Magazines).
Other changes came as rapid international growth increased the travel and administrative load of Church leaders. In the 1970s stake presidents were authorized to "set apart" full-time missionaries (see Setting Apart), ordain bishops and Patriarchs, and dedicate chapels. General Authorities met in conference with individual stakes less frequently but, beginning in 1971, the Church began holding "area conferences," where a delegation of General Authorities met with the Saints gathered from geographic regions. In 1979 the number of stake conferences each year was reduced from four to two, and in the 1980s regional or multiregional conferences replaced area conferences (see Conferences).
CHURCH EDUCATION. Between 1950 and 1990 total enrollment in the Church's educational programs increased from 38,400 to 442,500 (see Church Educational System (CES)). Full-time enrollment at Brigham Young University soared from 5,400 in 1950 to nearly 25,000 by 1975, leading to an enrollment ceiling. Rather than devoting ever larger amounts to higher education, funds increasingly went to meet more basic needs associated with worldwide growth. The major expansion in enrollment came in the area of religious education. Since the early twentieth century, students in predominantly LDS communities had attended "released time" seminary classes adjacent to their secondary schools. Beginning in California in the 1950s, "early morning" seminaries convened in church buildings near public secondary schools. After 1968, in areas where members were even more scattered, young people received "home study" seminary materials. The Church also increased the number of institutes of religion placed adjacent to college and university campuses. By 1990 seminary or institute programs were conducted in seventy-four nations or territories.
The Church also gave special attention to the religious life of college students. In 1956 the first student stake, with twelve wards, was organized on the Brigham Young University campus. This provided Church services that ministered directly to student needs and offered expanded opportunities for leadership. The plan spread to other areas where there were enough students to justify it. Subjective evidence suggested greater spiritual growth; and in such statistically measurable matters as temple marriage and attendance at meetings, student wards led the Church.
In some areas of the Pacific and Latin America, areas of particularly rapid Church growth where public education was not widely available, the Church returned to its earlier practice of establishing schools for religious instruction and to teach educational basics. It established forty elementary and secondary schools in Mexico, and established a junior college on the outskirts of Mexico City. As better public educational facilities developed, the Church closed many schools.
BUILDING PROGRAM. New congregations required new buildings. Even with two or three wards sharing most buildings, the Church found it necessary to complete more than one new meetinghouse every day. Potential costs were enormous, and in many areas the local Saints could not afford to raise their share.
One solution emerged when the Church encountered a labor shortage while erecting school buildings in the South Pacific. Beginning in 1950, it called young men as "building missionaries" to donate their labor for two years. As they completed buildings at a much lower cost, experienced builders taught them construction skills; labor missionaries also learned marketable skills from experienced builders. In the 1950s and 1960s building missionaries erected schools and chapels in the South Pacific, Latin America, Europe, and elsewhere. Later, in an effort to minimize construction and maintenance costs, the building department developed a series of standardized plans that could be adapted to different locations and expanded as needed.
Though general Church funds assisted with meetinghouses, local congregations were expected to contribute not only labor but also a significant portion of the money needed-in addition to paying regular tithes and offerings. With a view toward easing the financial burden on local congregations, the share borne by local Saints gradually diminished until, by 1989, local contribution was no longer required.
By the 1980s, new meetinghouses were generally smaller and sometimes more austere than earlier ones, but this approach allowed the Church to erect hundreds of chapels annually, and especially to provide badly needed meeting places in developing areas. It was also a move towards equality. Money that might have gone to build more expensive buildings in affluent areas instead provided comfortable places for worship throughout the Church.
TECHNOLOGY AND THE MODERN CHURCH. The Church actively seeks to harness the astonishing developments in modern technology to enhance its administrative capabilities and to aid in delivering its spiritual message. Since the Church installed its first computer in the Financial Department in 1962, it has made use of this technology in myriad ways, including in architectural design, a computerized membership record system, automated accounting, processing missionary papers, record keeping at both the general and local level, and in providing resources for historical and genealogical research.
Perhaps no Church activity has felt the impact of modern technology more than genealogical work. As Church membership grew, so did the need for more effective means of gathering and processing names for temple work. The Genealogical Department (now the Family History Department) microfilmed vital records from around the world, making them available in its library in Salt Lake City (see Family History Library) and in hundreds of family history centers throughout the world. In the 1960s, the Genealogical Department also began using the computer to organize names obtained from these records. Since 1978, designated Church members have been devoting four or more hours of weekly service "extracting" information from microfilms for the sake of temple work. The Family History Department also produced personal ancestral file, a widely used computerized genealogical program, and began making key genealogical data available on laser disks.
Technology touched the temple in other ways. Motion picture and video technology allowed temple instructions to be presented more efficiently and more effectively. Because this could be done in one room instead of the former series of four rooms, temples could be built smaller and thus were less expensive to construct, making it possible for more members throughout the world to have a temple nearby. The new technology also made it possible to present the ordinances in several languages simultaneously, if necessary.
The effect of television on Church communications and the Church public image was also dramatic. General conferences of the Church were first broadcast on KSL Television in Salt Lake City in 1949, and by the mid-1960s one or more session of each conference were being televised coast-to-coast in the United States. In the 1980s the Church developed a satellite communication system connected to stake centers throughout the world so that Latter-day Saints could view both conference and other Church-initiated programs.
MISSIONARY WORK. By 1990 over two-thirds of the Church's annual growth came from convert baptisms. Approximately 30,000 of more than 40,000 full-time missionaries were young men ages nineteen to twenty-one; single women twenty-one years of age or older and couples who had reached retirement age made up most of the remainder.
Considerable attention was given to improving proselytizing techniques and abilities. After much experimentation, a systematic plan based on a series of regularized lesson discussions was officially adopted in the 1950s. After considerable refinement and modification, by 1990 the plan focused less on memorization on the part of the missionaries and more on their ability to rely on the Spirit in the presentation of outlined subject matter.
Missionaries were also given more effective training, especially in languages. In 1963 a Language Training Mission, later known as missionary training center, was established near Brigham Young University, and five years later a similar program opened near the Church College of Hawaii (see Brigham Young University: Brigham Young University-Hawaii Campus). By 1990 missionaries were receiving intensive language and missionary training in fourteen missionary training centers around the world, though about 75 percent were attending the Provo center.
Innovations in the missionary program included encouraging more nonproselytizing activities and Christian service. In 1971, for instance, "health missionaries" began teaching the basics of nutrition, sanitation, and disease prevention, especially in developing countries. By 1990 all missionaries were urged to spend two to four hours a week in community service, in addition to proselytizing. Also, older missionary couples were often assigned to nonproselytizing Church service, including health and Welfare work, leadership training, staffing visitors centers and doing other public relations activities, assisting patrons in the Church's various family history centers, temple service missions, and teaching missions.
PUBLIC ISSUES AND SOCIAL CONCERNS. Though the Church attempted to distance itself from direct political involvement, Church leaders nevertheless from time to time declared official positions on moral issues. The First Presidency publicly lamented the growing flood of pornography, the widespread practice of birth control, and abortion, and the general decline in moral standards, including the rising number of divorces and the increased prominence of homosexuality. In 1968 the Church became directly involved in Utah's political process by openly opposing liquor-by-the-drink. It has also made public pronouncements in favor of Sunday closing laws and state right-to-work laws and against state lotteries (see Gambling).
Amid the intense civil rights conflict that characterized the United States in the 1960s the First Presidency openly called for "full civil equality for all of God's children," and specifically urged Latter-day Saints to work for civil rights for blacks. In the 1970s, as the controversy in America over women's rights escalated, the First Presidency took a public stance in favor of full equality before the law for women but, at the same time, publicly opposed the Equal Rights Amendment as anti-family. The First Presidency was also deeply concerned with the morality of the nuclear arms race and officially denounced it in 1980 and again in 1981 (see War and Peace).
In contrast to the early twentieth century when most Latter-day Saints lived in predominately rural settings, since mid-century, most have lived in urban centers. The hectic lifestyle in large cities created added emotional strains, and an array of attractions and temptations tended to pull family members in different directions. Responding to these and other needs, the Church instituted a series of social programs. Since 1919 the Relief Society had operated an adoption agency and provided foster homes for disadvantaged children. This was expanded. The Indian Student Placement Services, begun in the 1950s under the chairmanship of Elder Spencer W. Kimball, extended to thousands of native american children the advantages of attending good schools while living in wholesome LDS family environments. A "youth guidance" program provided counseling to families in need. These three programs, required by law to employ licensed professional social workers, were combined in 1969 to form the Church's Social Services Department. This department also sponsored youth day camps, programs for members in prison, and counseling for alcohol or drug abusers.
Church leaders also began to show more concern for the special needs of unmarried men and women. Whether divorced, widowed, or simply never married, their social and spiritual needs were often not being met through traditional Church activity oriented toward couples and families. In the 1970s special programs for young single adults as well as older singles were created under the auspices of the priesthood and Relief Society. Through self-directed councils at the ward, stake, and regional level, they participated in dances and other cultural activities and found broader opportunities to become acquainted with other members their own age who shared common interests. In addition, wards for young singles were organized, first in the Emigration Stake in Salt Lake City, and then in other areas.
RETURN TO BASICS. One of President Ezra Taft Benson's clarion calls to the Saints in the 1980s was to return to traditional values. In particular, he urged regular study of the Book of Mormon as a means to strengthen faith in Christ and to receive guidance in meeting contemporary challenges. His call, however, was only one manifestation of the efforts of modern Church leaders to respond to the ever-deepening challenges of the world and to lead the Saints in a return to basics.
In 1972 the adult Gospel Doctrine class in Sunday School began a systematic study of the standard works. The scriptures were the only texts, and they were to be studied in an eight-year (later four-year) rotation. Soon all Church curricula were tied to the scriptures. To support the curriculum and encourage individual scripture study, Church leaders supervised the publication of new editions of the standard works, each cross-referenced to the others. The Church publication of the King James Version of the Bible, in 1979, contained an important 800-page appendix that included a Bible dictionary, a topical guide to all the scriptures, maps, and extracts from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. In 1981 new editions of the other standard works appeared, including additional study helps.
The "return to basics" theme was echoed also in many other changes in Church policies and programs. In 1980 the Church meeting schedule was consolidated into a single three-hour block on Sundays, replacing the traditional schedule of priesthood meeting and Sunday school in the morning, Sacrament meeting in the late afternoon or evening, and auxiliary meetings during the week (see Meetings, Major Church). The move simplified transportation challenges for many members, but Church leaders emphasized that the central objective was to allow more time for families to study the scriptures or engage in other appropriate Sabbath activities together.
Beginning in 1990 in the United States and Canada and extended to other parts of the world in 1991, ward and stake budget donations were no longer required from members; all operating expenses of local units would be paid from tithes and offerings. The uniform system promoted greater equality, cutting many local operating budgets while increasing others (see Finances of the Church; Financial Contributions). In explaining the new policy, Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve called it an inspired "course correction," part of an overall effort to get back to basics (Ensign 10 [May 1990]:89-91). The metaphor could well be applied to much of what had happened since 1945.
Church members have generally accepted changes well, and have seen in them an opportunity for further spiritual growth. As a result, in 1990 the Church was moving more rapidly than ever before toward being able to accommodate diverse nationalities, language groups, and cultures. Church leaders continued to emphasize the traditional doctrines, but general conference addresses increasingly tended also to define Sainthood in terms of what Elder M. Russell Ballard characterized in April 1990, as the "small and simple things": love, service, home, family, and worship of the Savior (Ensign 10 [May 1990]:6-8). These are among the universals that constitute the essence of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint.
Much has been written about this period in professional journals. A few broad treatments are mentioned in the introduction to this history section. See also Spencer J. Palmer, The Expanding Church (Salt Lake City, 1978). For additional information, consult the bibliographies accompanying the biographies of Church Presidents who served during this period: George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, and Ezra Taft Benson.