“As a Thief in the Night”
by Dan Erickson

Chapter 8
Millenialism and the Anti-Polygamy Campaign

[p.179]At a special conference in August 1852 the Mormon church formally announced its practice of plural marriage. The general reaction from Americans was indignation and repugnancy. That same year Harriet Beecher Stowe also published Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The timing emotionally linked the tyranny of slavery to polygamy, a tie that continued throughout the 1850s. Depicting Mormon polygamists as slave holders, abolitionists and reformers carried the image of slave masters over to polygamist husbands.1 In 1855 and 1856 alone, four anti-Mormon novels were published all using the theme of strong women fighting against cowardly, depraved men.2

As part of the pre-Civil War debate, Mormon polygamy be-[p.180]came entangled with slavery and the associated questions of territorial and states’ rights that linked Mormons and the South in a common cause.3 With a direct attack in the 1856 Republican platform, national attention was drawn to ridding’ the nation of the “twin relics of barbarism—Polygamy, and Slavery.”4 As such, polygamy became a pawn in the much larger game of sectional politics as individuals and states determined their allegiance on the controversial issue of what authority Congress could exercise and maintain over U.S. territories.5 Southerners knew “if we can render polygamy criminal, it may be claimed that we can also render criminal that other ‘twin relic of barbarism,’ slavery.”6

During the twenty years from 1871 to 1891, every U.S. president from Ulysses S. Grant to Benjamin Harrison specifically focused on Utah in Congressional addresses,7 identifying polygamy as “a remnant of barbarism, repugnant to civilization” and declaring “the Mormon Church … offends the moral sense of manhood by sanctioning polygamy.”8 In his 1884 annual message, Chester A. [p.181]Arthur recommended that “Congress assume absolute political control of the Territory of Utah.”9 Noting that “the Mormons have given their allegiance to a theocracy,” the New York Times portrayed church leaders and followers both as scheming, disloyal citizens.10

In Utah persecution was a major theme of general conference addresses from 1860 to 1890.11 Oppression was part of the Plan of Salvation, a refiner’s fire to purify the people of God.12 Oppression also meant the Millennium was near and the Saints were then living in the final stage of history prior to the earth’s destruction. That American citizens had turned a deaf ear to their pleas confirmed that the end was in sight: the harsher the persecution, the nearer the Millennium.13

Mormon writing and preaching was filled with concern for “last things.”14 “Calamities were thickening in the world,” wrote Charles [p.182]Walker, the earth’s mortal age of six thousand years was nearly over.15 Many of those then alive were told they would be “quickened,” in anticipation of the Parousia, that they would never taste death and would see the dead come forth from their graves and the lost tribes of Israel return from the north.16

Congress focused on polygamy in 1862 by passing the Morrill Act to outlaw bigamy.17 During the congressional debate of the 1860s, many congressmen maintained polygamy “went beyond what was tolerable in America”18 But problems inherent in enforcing the Morrill Act became readily apparent. Since marriage records were not required to be kept in Utah or many other U.S. [p.183]territories until 1887, proof of multiple marriages demanded under the law was next to impossible to obtain.19

Subsiding somewhat during the immediate post-Civil War years, the attack on polygamy once renewed became a major engine for Mormon millennialism. Mormons believed the contest over polygamy represented a “holy war,” and defense of the theological tenet re-energized LDS millennial hope.20 As early as 1860 even non-Mormons had become familiar with the Saints’ assertion that Christ would return prior to the turn of the century.21

In their redemptive hope, the Saints revisited earlier millennial prophecies, specifically Joseph Smith’s identification of 1891 as the year Christ would return to redeem his people.22 In 1875 Andrew J. Allen reported that elders were preaching that the Savior would come to earth “soon not more than sixteen years according to the revelations Joseph Smith had received.”23 In his 1875 diary Oliver [p.184]Huntington also recalled Smith’s prophecy that “God had revealed to him that the coming of Christ would be within 56 years, which being added to 1835 shows that before 1891 and the 14th of Feb. the Savior of the world would make his appearance again upon the earth and the winding up scene take place.”24

This revival of Mormon millennialism coincided with an official endorsement of Joseph Smith’s prophetic timetable. In 1876 the church published a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants which divided the revelations into numbered verses and added twenty-six new sections. This included the Joseph Smith millennial prophecy, thus canonizing it as scripture.25 Sold in October 1876 as the first edition published in the United States since the 1846 Nauvoo edition, these revised scriptures offered renewed hope that the Lord would soon appear to aid the Saints in their struggle with the gentiles. Testifying to Smith’s prophetic calling, senior church official John Taylor left no doubt that the Saints interpreted literally prophecies uttered from the lips of modern-day prophets: “all that he [God] has said … through ancient prophets and through Joseph Smith are true, and as sure as God lives they will take place. I will prophecy that they will take place as sure as God lives, and they are approaching very rapidly upon [p.185]us.”26 Reaffirming their faith in modern revelation, George Q. Cannon told the Saints that step by step all of Joseph Smith’s prophecies were coming to fruition just as sure as [if] God [had] spoken it.”27

Throughout the late 1870s millennialism remained a theme.28 While attending a conference in Kanab, Utah, L. John Nuttall recorded that Bishop Sixtus E. Johnson retold the account of the Joseph Smith prophecy. Johnson emphasized that if Smith would have lived to be eighty-five, he would have seen the Savior. Johnson “urged the Saints to prepare for the judgements of the Almighty upon the wicked Nations.”29 Tying imminence of the Millennium to the Saints’ return to Missouri and the eventual redemption of Zion, Apostle Lorenzo Snow predicted in 1878 that

the time is speedily coming-we do not want to talk very much though about going to Jackson County, Missouri. … We are not going tomorrow, nor next day, this week or next week.; but we are going, and there are many hundreds and hundreds within the sound of my voice that will live to go back to Jackson County and build a holy temple to the Lord our God.30

An increase in Mormon millennial expectation appeared in 1879 in response to the Supreme Court decision in the George Reynolds polygamy case.31 Reynolds, a secretary to Brigham Young and a [p.186]prominent polygamist, allowed himself to be used as a test case to challenge the government’s anti-polygamy statutes. Initially convicted in 1875 of bigamy under the Morrill Act, Reynolds’s case was appealed to the Utah Supreme Court which, in 1876, upheld the lower court’s decision. Eventually appealed to the nation’s highest tribunal, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Reynolds’s conviction as a legitimate means of prohibiting a practice which threatened the well-being of American social values.32 Labeling marriage a “sacred obligation,” Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite identified polygamy as an evil “which strikes at the foundation of American society.” Classified as social corruption, Mormon polygamous behavior fell outside the freedom of religion protection of the First Amendment.33

Admitting no illegality, the church hierarchy continued to defend plural marriage as constitutionally protected.34 The anti-polygamy campaign confirmed the opinion that state officials were indeed their “enemies.”35 From the pulpit church leaders denounced the Reynolds decision as an invasion of their right to religious freedom, and prophesied that the wrath of God would fall upon the government officials responsible for the Saints’ persecution.36 In March 1879 [p.187]Apostle Orson Pratt rhetorically asked, “What about the American nation. That [Civil] war … was nothing, compared to that which will eventually devastate that country. The time is not very far distant in the future, when the Lord God will lay his hand heavily upon that nation [America].”37 Apostle Moses Thatcher surmised there was now more freedom in Great Britain than in the United States.38

The Saints took the remarks of their leaders to heart. After the Supreme Court decision in the Reynolds case, Thomas W. Whitaker confessed in his journal that “The Lord has told us we must obey the law of polygamy and the United States Government say we shall not.” Believing the world was fast preparing itself for destruction, he predicted the 1880s would be the “most destructive period of the world’s history.”39 Whitaker was not alone. Following the decision a Millennial Star editorial titled “The Coming of the Messiah” reiterated Joseph Smith’s 1835 prophecy that “fifty-six years should wind up the scene,” concluding “this would take us to the year 1891.” The article also recounted Smith’s second prophecy of seeing the face of the Son of Man should he live to be eighty-five, ascertaining that this “would be in 1890, or on the verge of 1891.” Although cautiously reminding readers that Smith gave no specific date, the editorial emphasized that “it is evident that one of the most stupendous occurences, [p.188]relating to the history of this planet, is approaching,” and that is “the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world.”40

Many church leaders and members were convinced that the end of the world was near.41 In May 1879 Charles Walker recorded that Joseph Smith’s contemporary, one O. M. Allen, professed he heard “the prophet Joseph say that those who lived until the year 1881 would see the judgments go forth on the wicked that would make their soul sicken to see and hear of them.”42 That same month Apostle Charles W. Penrose warned the Saints that “the times in which we live … are just preceding the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.”43 In June 1879 Apostle Wilford Woodruff blatantly told the Saints in northern Arizona, “There will be no United States in the Year 1890.”44

Providing additional encouragement of the Saints’ millennial hope, in 1879-1880 the church published a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, edited by Apostle Orson Pratt and containing footnotes and references for the first time. Canonized at October 1880 general conference, it officially endorsed lay member millennial expectation.45 Pratt’s footnotes for Section 130 highlighted Joseph Smith’s 85-year millennial prophecy, adding in the commentary section confirmation of the fateful time frame “near the end of the year 1890.” Pratt also cross-referenced the revelation to “See prophecy of Joseph, uttered 14 March 1835 … ‘Even 56 years should wind up the scene.’”46 To many there was no doubt the Son of Man would make his appearance in 1890-91.47

In both public and private remarks church leaders and rank-and-file made clear that intensified persecutions during the 1880s fulfilled the prophesied turbulence prior to a coming apocalypse.48 Wilford Woodruff in particular believed in the imminence of the cataclysmic end of the world, and his millennial hope developed in conjunction with the increased threat to the Saints. Woodruffs journal records his thoughts during the 1880s, and year after year his conviction that the Millennium was imminent intensified.49

[p.190]Woodruff’s ominous expectations were exemplified by his so-called “Wilderness Revelation” received in January 1880. Its theme was the impending apocalypse, the judgements of God upon the nation, and the Second Coming of Christ.50 In Woodruff’s revelation, the Lord proclaimed:

The nation is ripened in iniquity … and I will not stay my hand in judgement upon this nation or the nations of the earth…. The blood of my servants Joseph and Hyrum … cries from the ground for vengeance upon the nation which has shed their blood. But theirblood shall speedily be avenged and shall cease to cry unto me, for the hour of God’s judgement is fully come and shall be poured out without measure upon the wicked…. prepare ye for the coming of the Son of man, which is nigh at the door. No man knoweth the day nor the hour; but the signs of both heaven and earth indicate His coming. as promised by the mouths of my disciples. The fig trees are leaving and the hour is nigh.51

[p.191]Upon returning to Salt Lake City, Woodruff presented the revelation from the church hierarchy who accepted it as “the word of the Lord.” Then, with the presiding authorities of the church gathered in a prayer circle, senior apostle John Taylor, kneeling at the altar and offering prayer for the group, legitimized the church’s condemnation of the United States and the current generation. Woodruff’s revelation from the Lord symbolized the leaders’ solidarity.52

Not all general authorities struck an apocalyptic note in their sermons, but Woodruff continued to warn church members of the approaching “hour.” At an 1881 conference in Manti he promised “that thousands of the children of the latter day saints would not die but would live to see the Saviour come.”53 The same year at St. George, Utah, Woodruff told the Saints “the coming of the Son of Man was nigh, even at the doors, and that there were thousands living in [the] mountains at [that] time that would see the son of God come and many would not taste death.”54 These pronouncements confirmed members’ ongoing gospel discussions, many publicly quoting Joseph Smith “that 56 years should wind up the scene and the Savior should come to his people. It being then Feb. 14th, 1835.”55

In 1882 an amendment to the Morrill Act, sponsored by Vermont Republican senator George F. Edmunds and later termed the Ed-[p.192]munds Act, provided the practical means of prosecuting polygamists who had eluded arrest under earlier legislation. The federal government’s power stemmed from the creation of the new offense of cohabitation where no proof of marriage was required, and where any contact between a suspected man and a potential polygamous wife was seen as sufficient evidence for a conviction.56

The precarious position of the church hierarchy was brought to the forefront by the conviction of Salt Lake City church leader Angus M. Cannon. Cannon was convicted in a far-reaching decision that placed a minimal burden on the prosecution. In the case cohabitation was now defined as providing temporal support, such as food and shelter, for more than one woman on a regular basis.57 In specifying what constituted cohabitation, the courts interpreted the Edmunds Act to criminalize the appearance of polygamous marriage. The impetus for conviction under cohabitation as stated by the court was “not only to punish bigamy and polygamy when direct proof of the existence of those relations can be made, but to prevent a man from flaunting in the face of the world the ostentation and opportunities of a bigamous household.”58

Most church leaders were polygamists, with the controversial practice stretching far down into the ranks of local leadership where most stake presidents, bishops, and counselors also lived this “celestial law.” Now forced into hiding by the Edmunds Act during the period known as “the Raid,” the lives of leaders and members alike underwent tremendous disruption. Men abandoned their farms and businesses, and plural wives with children went into hiding or moved continually on the “Underground” to avoid testifying against husbands and fathers.59

[p.193]The Saints viewed the new legislation as a direct assault not only on polygamy but on Mormonism, designed to “destroy our rights as citizens, to take away from us our liberties under the Constitution and laws, and to obtain the political control of our country.”60 Henry Eyring of St. George fumed that the Edmunds Bill placed them “in a state of bondage[,] … and completely ruled by our enemies.”61 With tenacity of faith, the Saints interpreted the anti-polygamy crusade as the determining factor separating the righteous from the wicked, representing a “sign of the times,” a prelude to the final act of history. That things had now turned against them fit into their millennial scheme.62

As in earlier eras, with increased persecution came intensified belief in an imminent millennial salvation.63 Church members knew the Lord would intercede as soon as he had sufficiently tried the Saints.64 In 1882 First Presidency member George Q. Cannon warned, “At no period in the history of the children of God in this dispensation have events been of more importance than those which are now taking place in our midst and around us.”65 “The Civil War [p.194]that is past is not the only war that will take place in this land,” declared Cannon, who described the Edmunds Bill and the policies of U.S. president Arthur as fulfilling Joseph Smith’s prophecies. The drama of the last days were unfolding as God planned.66 Cannon compared the Saints and the United States to the Israelites and Pharaoh, not only cultivating a sense of severe persecution but also of expectant deliverance.67

As the federal government intensified its attack on God’s people, the church’s newspaper and mouthpiece, the Deseret News, editorialized on the certain fall of the United States. “Because of her acts she must pay the penalty,” it was said. “Woe is unto her because of the blood of the Prophets and Saints which has been shed. Woe is unto her because of unjust legislation. Woe is unto her because of striving to enforce it.”68 In his last public discourse before going underground, church president John Taylor chastised the nation, declaring, “You will see trouble, trouble, trouble enough in these United Sates. And as I have said before I say today, I tell you in the name of God, Woe! to them that fight against Zion, for God will fight against them.”69 “Trouble and anxiety and sorrow and judgement will soon overtake this nation,” revealed Taylor, the Lord was about to “take the matter into His own hands” and “vex” the United States.70

It was a scenario that made sense to the troubled Saints, and members concurred in their leaders’ assessment of the church’s situation. “Alas the approach of the Son of God is at hand,” wrote Lorenzo Hatch of Woodruff, Arizona, who described the Edmunds Act as a precursor to the Millennium. Christ’s return, he was certain, [p.195]was imminent.71 Charles Walker’s seventies quorum in St. George compared the Saints’ afflictions in Missouri and Illinois to the current polygamy persecution, foreshadowing “the great things that would transpire before the winding up scene in 1891.”72 Lay members published works demonstrating that the end of the world was at hand.73 Some Saints, compiling prophecies and predictions, especially Smith’s statement that “56 years should wind up the scene,” even arrived at an exact date for the event, 14 March 1891.74

Throughout the 1880s Mormon millennialism and polygamy cannot be separated. Church leaders continued their attempt to maintain the institution of polygamy by circumventing anti-polygamy laws while awaiting the promised Parousia. Proclaiming that the Saints will not give up “one jot nor tittle” to purchase favor from the United States, John Taylor declared: “I [will] defy the United States [and] obey the will of God.”75 To accomplish their aim, in 1885 Taylor and [p.196]other prominent Mormons, under pursuit as violators of the 1882 Edmunds Act, went “underground,” avoiding the law by hiding out in a series of church members’ homes, barns, and other sanctuaries.76 That same year the Mormon leadership obtained permission from the Mexican government to establish colonies across the border.77 In September 1886 Taylor commissioned Charles Ora Card to establish a place of refuge for polygamists in Canada as well.78
In the midst of defying the federal government’s passing laws “which are clearly unconstitutional,” church leaders continued their Millennial oration.79 In 1884 and 1885 apostle Erastus Snow told the Saints to look for some important changes in the world in the next five to six years, predicting the persecution of the Saints would continue until the Lord had gathered the grain to himself.80 Wilford Woodruff [p.197]affirmed that due to the anti-polygamy persecutions the destruction of the United States is “at the door of this generation.”81 Woodruff believed the current tribulations were the last great trial of the Saints forcing them to take a stand one way or the other.82 Concluding that the government was “at War” with the Saints, he prophesied God would begin to fight the church’s enemies, that the signs of the times pointed to the Second Coming.83 In 1886 Woodruff confided in his journal, “We are in the midst of a national persecution. The United States Government is making war upon the Latter Day Saints… But if the Saints Suffer for their Religion Our Persecutors will Suffer for their sins. Great things await this generation. Behold the signs of the time. Watch for the Coming of the Son of Man.”84

As the decade progressed, apocalyptic rhetoric increased.85 In late 1886 Apostle Moses Thatcher told the Saints, “It is my belief that the time of our deliverance will be within five years, the time indicated being February 14, 1891. … in consequence of the wickedness and corruption of the officers of the nation, the government will pass into the hands of the Saints, and that within five years.”86 At the church’s October 1888 general conference Apostle Franklin D. Richards proclaimed many children then alive would witness the redemption of Zion and the Second Coming.87 Church leaders may [p.198]never have named a specific day, but they certainly identified the “generation.”

As part of this intense millenarian frame of mind, talk of the return to Missouri revived a “reformation” spirit. Church leaders admonished the Saints to “wake up … trim our lamps, and be prepared for the coming of the Son of Man.”88 Not only had Jackson County, Missouri, been designated by revelation as a land of promise and the location for the New Jerusalem but the Saints had been told they would possess it and raise a temple there before their generation passed.89 After their move west, the Saints’ hope of returning to reclaim their “inheritance” in Missouri was preached continually. It was expected, especially during dramatic happenings, that the “present” generation would march back across the plains to establish the center stake of Zion, and church leaders continued “profficing [sic] we will soon go to Jackson County in Missouri.”90 Until his death in 1887, John Taylor believed he would die in Jackson County.91

This spiritually electric atmosphere with its millennial anticipation explains other events of the time, illustrated by a heightened [p.199]interest toward converting the Lamanites. The New Jerusalem in Missouri, as it was seen in the 1830s, was to be located on “the borders by the Lamanites.”92 While Mormon attempts to convert Native Americans had never enjoyed dramatic success, it too was looked upon as a necessary step before the Saints could return (3 Ne. 21:23-24).93 These remnants of Joseph, as American Indians were referred to, were expected to assume a primary role, after their conversion, in building the temple near Independence. It was the eleventh hour, the time of the Lamanites had arrived, and startling developments were expected.94 It was also said they would act as a shield and protector to the Saints, scourging the gentiles, and church leaders predicted that within five years (as of 1886) these “Lamanites [would] go forth as a battle ax, in fulfilment of prophecy.”95 As the crusade against Mormon polygamy gained momentum, these expectations took on added meaning.96

[p.200]In 1887 Congress increased political, legislative, and judicial pressure on the church through passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act which dissolved the Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a legal entity. The statute also disfranchised all Utah women, prohibited illegitimate children from inheriting from their fathers, and established the bureaucratic mechanism to escheat to the government all church assets in excess of $50,000 including the Salt Lake City temple block in full.97 The government’s anti-polygamy assault on Mormonism’s core institution was on the verge of inflicting its final blow.

Yet while appealing the constitutionality of the Edmunds-Tucker Act, in May 1888 at the dedication of the Manti temple Wilford Woodruff, then senior apostle, instructed other apostles that “we are not going to stop the practice of plural marriage until the coming of the Son of man.”98 Considered by some as “the prophet of the twelve,” Apostle John W. Taylor told members in southern Utah they would live to “see the Savior come.”99 As late as November 1889 Woodruff confirmed that “the Lord will never give a revelation to abandon plural marriage,” received a new revelation that “the judgements of God, which are to be poured out upon all nations … are nigh at your doors,” promised destruction of the church’s opponents, and prophesied the Saints’ deliverance from their enemies.100 Woodruff held fast to his belief, asserted over twenty years earlier, that the [p.201]cities of Albany, Boston, and New York would be destroyed. He then predicted the nation would call upon a future church president to “take the Presidency of the United States to save the Constitution,” and that these events would be fulfilled prior to “thirty years hence.”101 In his position as church president, Woodruff continued to tell members that “many” living in 1889 would while “in the flesh” see Christ come in clouds of glory.102

As 1890 commenced, events began to whirl out of the church’s control. In February gentiles wrestled political control out of Mormon hands in the Salt Lake City municipal elections.103 Later that same month the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Idaho Test Oath decision to disfranchise all Mormons, even non-polygamists.104 On 19 May 1890, in a five-to-four decision, the Supreme Court declared the provisions of the Edmunds-Tucker Act constitutional. The decision allowed for seizure of all church property in excess of $50,000 and redistribution of the funds to finance public non-Mormon schools, leaving open the possibility that the church’s temples would be confiscated.105 Then in the summer of 1890 the Cullom-Struble [p.202]bill, applying the same Idaho test-oath standards to all U.S. territories including Utah, began to move through Congress.106

The year 1890 also saw the culmination of the Native American Ghost Dance movement. This, coinciding with the calamities facing the church, prompted many members to associate the visions of the Messiah declared by Indians with Christ’s millennial reign. The Ghost Dance predicted that the Messiah would return in 1890, and the agitation precipitated the infamous Indian massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in December 1890.107

Senior church leaders, including now church president Wilford Woodruff and second counselor in the First Presidency Joseph F. Smith, assigned religious significance to the timing of the Ghost Dance manifestations.108 Smith announced that the heavenly visitors reported by the Indians were “probably one or more of the Three Nephites” from the Book of Mormon whom Christ allowed to remain on the earth until his coming, “disciples who tarried, whose mission [p.203]was to minister to the remnants of their own race…. It is in perfect harmony with the order of heaven for ministering spirits or messengers from God or Christ to visit the Lamanites.”109 Responding to the Indian messianic rumors in August 1890, Apostle Anthon H. Lund stated at the San Pete Stake conference, “We need not say— ‘our Lord delayeth his coming!’ … We can be sure it is in the near future, because the Lord told Joseph Smith … that if he lived to be a certain age, he should see His face, which points to [18]91.”110

Never faltering in their millennial hope, church leaders continued to assure one another their deliverance was in sight. On 29 May 1890 president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles Lorenzo Snow prophesied at a meeting of the Twelve: “[Y]ou brethren will live to behold the savior, you shall not die, death shall have no power over you. You have a great work to perform … Be faithful and you shall never taste death.”111 Apostle Brigham Young, Jr., recorded the impact of this prophecy: “His words penetrated to the marrow surely God is with us.”112 In August 1890, during a meeting of the Twelve, Snow laid his hands on Abraham H. Cannon’s head to give him an apostolic blessing and confirmed that he would “live to see the Savior, [and] the triumph of Zion.”113 As late as September 1890, John Morgan, one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy, reported a widespread belief that “missions would necesarily be short; that the end is very near and the Elders about to be called home.”114

[p.204]Then, for the ‘Temporal Salvation of the Church,” on 24 September 1890 Woodruff issued the Manifesto publicly abandoning polygamy.115 Although the intent of the Manifesto was ambiguous, it seems clear the document was a temporary solution to solve an immediate crisis, deflecting pressure long enough for Utah to gain statehood or for Christ’s return, whichever came first.116 Years later Franklin S. Richards, the church’s general legal counsel, stated that “the imminent danger of these bill [Cullom-Struble] passing Congress was the immediate cause of the issuance of the Manifesto.”117 One church publication boasted that the Manifesto had been given to “subvert the cunning of the devil” and buy time for the Saints, perhaps fulfilling Brigham Young’s reported declaration that “we shall pull the wool over the eyes of the American people and make them swallow Mormonism, polygamy and all.”118

[p.205]Having been taught “no principle or Revelation that God ever gave to his people was to be laid on the shelf as a thing of the past,” Mormons had believed for half a century that the “celestial law” of plural marriage was crucial to their cosmology.119 Despite official claims that the voting “was unanimous,”120 at least some voted against the Manifesto and perhaps a majority abstained. The church membership was unprepared and shocked by this change.121 When the Manifesto was presented for a sustaining vote in the October 1890 general conference, many supported it only reluctantly, some believing the reversal of the church’s stand on polygamy a sure sign that the Millennium was nigh.122 Apostle Moses Thatcher gave private support for the Manifesto at the 30 September to 1 October 1890 meetings of the apostles based on his faith that the Millennium would occur within months.123 No doubt Thatcher and others held fast to Wilford Woodruffs declaration that “we won’t quit practising Plural Marriage until Christ shall come.”124

In an attempt to reassure the Saints and decrease apocalyptic concern, no fewer than seven church authorities spoke on the Second [p.206]Coming during the same October 1890 general conference in which the Manifesto was adopted. Some advised the Saints not to expect Christ’s advent in 1891.125 Gibson Condie recorded in his journal, “Some of the speakers referred to the year 1891, as a great many of the saints have an Idea that the Lord was to come and reign on earth.”126 George Q. Cannon told members that there was “too much agitation” associated with the 1891 prophecy, “no man knoweth the day nor the hour.”127

Nevertheless, in cryptic tones other church leaders continued to supply the Saints with millennial hope. During the same conference Apostle Franklin D. Richards merely referred with interest to the millennial prophecy, while Apostle Francis M. Lyman told the Saints to “pray twice a day” to “be prepared for what is to come in 1891.”128 Apostle Moses Thatcher warned members to “prepare themselves for 1891” as “the day of calamity is approaching. It is at the doors.”129 [p.207]Perhaps most telling, after the Manifesto’s presentation at general conference, Woodruff promised members:

I will say to the Latter-day Saints, as an Elder in Israel and as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are approaching some of the most tremendous judgements God ever poured out upon the world. You watch the signs of the times, the signs of the coming of the Son of Man. They are beginning to be made manifest both in heaven and earth…. We are approaching these things. All that the Latter-day Saints have to do is to be quiet, careful and wise before the Lord, watch the signs of the times, and be true and faithful; and when you get through you will understand many things that you do not today.130

As the anti-Mormon Salt Lake Tribune reported, the leaders’ references to “1891 as an Epoch in Church History,” followed by George Q. Cannon’s denunciation, merely underscored the intensity of the general membership’s millennial expectation.131

As 1891 began, many Saints still anticipated the coming of the Lord. On 1 January 1891 President Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal: “This is New Years day And the year that has been looked upon by many as one of the most important years of the world.”132 Charles Walker reiterated the same sentiment: “Some say and have written that great things are to happen this year … [p.208]some even declare that Christ will come and the Millennial Reign inaugurated.”133

But by then, politically, the Manifesto had already achieved its desired effect. Three weeks after its issuance, district attorney Charles S. Varian told the First Presidency that he favored reversing anti-polygamy legislation, and soon Congress tabled the Cullom-Struble bill.134 Church. leaders privately expressed their belief that congressional anti-polygamy legislation had stalled due to Woodruff’s Manifesto.135 In 1891 the tide began to turn as the U.S. Supreme Court decided to allow children born of polygamous marriages to inherit from their fathers’ estates.136 Non-Mormon federal appointees Judge Charles S. Zane and Utah territorial governor Arthur L. Thomas endorsed a polygamist amnesty petition which was sent to President Benjamin Harrison in late 1891.137 With relief, church leaders began to feel that the government’s hand, “extended to crush us,” had been averted. As the year progressed, and the trials and tribulations of the previous year waned, millennial anticipations, and a hoped for divine intervention to save the church from its enemies, diminished. In mid-1892 church leaders asked the Saints to express prayers of gratitude for their deliverance “from the evil which environed [us] and I which threatened [our] overthrow,” admonishing members to remember how their fate had changed over the past two years.138 The church began to accept the role, although forced upon it, of assimilation into a gentile world.

[p.209]To preserve the church as an institution, successive church presidents Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith increasingly followed a course of accommodation. The abandonment of plural marriage, economic individualism, and political diversity were increasingly accepted as part of the Mormon way. With the “official” passing of polygamy, and the political goal of statehood, millennialism and the immediacy of a kingdom-saving millennial event declined in importance. Historians have described this transitional period as “creative adjustment,” “a new era of cooperation and understanding.”139 During these years church leaders came out of hiding, and President Harrison granted amnesty to individuals subject to polygamy-cohabitation laws. Amnesty was further broadened by President Grover Cleveland and polygamists were no longer sent to prison. Between the years 1894 and 1896 church property was returned, thus removing the risk of losing their sacred temples, and finally statehood was granted. These events prepared the church for transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century.140

Polygamy, more than any other issue, identified the Saints as a distinctive group apart from the American mainstream. Mormons had struggled against a hostile America and attempted to nullify its laws as best as they could, creating a separate society, all in preparation for Christ’s coming kingdom. Since polygamy was illegal, it could only be legally practiced in a separate politically-independent kingdom. Thus the deferral of its public announcement until the Saints were in Utah. For Latter-day Saints, polygamy served as a rallying point, identifying them as a peculiar people, separate from cultural America, and tied them irrevocably to Mormonism. As Klaus Hansen and Carmon Hardy have pointed out, it was polygamy that “more [p.210]than any other Mormon institution came to symbolize the new heaven and new earth.”141

Yet, in the eyes of the nation, polygamy represented the most visible threat to American society. Spurred on by millennialism, a cycle ensued as the Saints trusted in the Almighty and became socially entrenched against the larger society, which in turn led to a sharper contrast. The Saints believed God allowed persecution to permit the gentiles to show their true colors prior to their annihilation. Anti-Mormon sentiment and persecution only reinforced an us-versus-them mentality. As God’s family, the Saints’ struggle against persecutions would be short-lived and soon end in their triumph over the world.142

Although the hierarchy attempted to present a united front, discrepancies between stated and implied understandings of the Manifesto and the doctrine of the Second Coming betray behind-the-scenes tension. Church leaders split between those publicly condemning plural marriage while privately practicing it and those insisting, “We will sacrifice no principle to save property or life itself.” During the 1890s the quorum remained divided not only over polygamy and eschatology, but also over politics.143

Until the 1880s, Mormon society acted as it willed, defying the government’s attempt to force it to conform with American values. [p.211]The shock waves of the anti-polygamy raids led to the 1890 Manifesto, but also removed a cornerstone of Mormon culture. Polygamy, long considered a holy obligation, was no longer deemed necessary for salvation. Although some believed, as Charles Walker reported, that leaders had reneged on the revelation on plural marriage, with the ending of polygamy the Millennium became a future event rather than an imminent reality.144

Plural marriage had not only been a way of separating the Saints from the world, but a means of hastening the Parousia. Anti-polygamy persecution was the necessary accumulation of fury prior to the end of the world, and increased government persecution provided hope that the Millennium was indeed imminent.145 As Larry Logue has pointed out, the cessation of polygamy ended the Saints’ ability to “provoke non-Mormons’ rage with the church’s blessing.146 The passing of polygamy compelled Mormons to abandon the best method of separating themselves from the world, eventually leading to the demise of a millennial world view as the overriding LDS cosmology.147 With the postponing of millennial deliverance, the “theocratic and separatist aspects” of Mormonism became a casualty of assimilation into the mainstream of American society.148



1. Jessie L Embry, “The Polygamy Image,” This People, Fall 1990, 25.

2. Leonard J. Arrington and Jon Haupt, “Intolerable Zion: The Image of Mormonism in Nineteenth Century American Literature,” Western Humanities Review 22 (Summer 1968): 244-45; Leonard J. Arrington, “Mormonism: Views from Without and Within” Brigham Young University Studies 14 (Winter 1974): 144; Neal Lambert, “Saints, Sinners and Scribes: A Look at the Mormons in Fiction,” Utah Historical Quarterly 36 (Winter 1968): 63; Jan Shipps, “From Satyr to Saint: American Attitudes Toward the Mormons, 1860-1960,” paper presented at the 1973 annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians, TS, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City. 18, photocopy in my possession.

3. Gustive O. Larson, “Utah and the Civil War,” Utah Historical Quarterly 33 (Winter 1965): 63.

4. Platform of the Republican Party, adopted at Philadelphia, 17 June 1856. See Donald Bruce Johnson, ed., National Party Platforms, 2 vols. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978), 1:27.

5. Orma Linford, “The Mormons and the Law: The Polygamy Cases,” Utah Law Review 9 (Winter 1964): 312.

6. Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st Sess., 1860” p. 1410. For a detailed study of the background and legislative juxtapositioning over the slavery and polygamy issues, see Richard D. Poll, “The Twin Relic: A Study of Mormon Polygamy and the Campaign by the Government of the United States for Its Abolition, 1852-1890,” M.A. thesis, Texas Christian University, 1939, 60-116.

7. James D. Richardson, comp., Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 20 vols. (New York: Bureau of National Literature, 1917), Grant—1871: 9:4105; Hayes—1879: 10:4512,—1880: 10:4557; Garfield—1881: 10:4601; Arthur —10: 1881: 10:4644, —1883: 10:4771, —1884: 10:4837; Cleveland—1885: 10:4946; Harrison—1890: 12:5553.

8. Ulysses S. Grant and James A. Garfield, in Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 9:4105, 10:4601.

9. Chester A. Arthur, in Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 10:4837.

10. “A Threat From Mormondom,” New York Times, 22 June 1875.

11. A. Karl Larson and Katharine Miles Larson, eds., Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 2 vols. (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1980), 1:318, 15 Sept. 1870; Larry M. Logue, A Sermon in the Desert: Belief and Behavior in Early St. George, Utah (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 33; Gordon Shepherd and Gary Shepherd, A Kingdom Transformed: Themes in the Development of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984), 76.

12. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 1:306, 20 Feb. 1870: Ballard S. Dunn, The Twin Monsters… (New York: James Pott and Co., n.d.), 6; “Report of the Utah Commission,” 1887, in Report of the Secretary of the Interior…, 5 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1887), 2:1339.

13. Logue, A Sermon in the Desert, 33-34. See also poems by Charles Walker in Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:589, 2 Oct. 1882: 2:774-75, 24 July 1894: Franklin S. Richards to John Taylor, 9 Feb. 1887, photocopy, Franklin S. Richards Correspondence, 1886-90, Utah State Historical Society.

14. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 1:388, 15 June 1874: 2:624, 25 Dec. 1883; Robert Glass Cleland and Juanita Brooks, eds., A Mormon Chronicle: The Diaries of John D. Lee, 1848-1876, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1983), 2:291-92, 29 Aug. 1873; Scott G. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1833-1898, 9 vols. (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983-85), 7:94, 10 Nov. 1872; “Record of Andrew Jackson Allen,” TS, Utah State Historical Society; 97-98, 21 Sept. 1873; “Prophetic Warnings,” Deseret News 17 (11 Aug. 1884): 2; “An Epoch of Commotion,” ibid., 17 (24 Apr. 1884): 2; F. D. Richards, Journal of Discourses, 26 vo1s. (Liverpool, Eng.: F. D. Richards, 1855-86), 24:283, 6 Oct. 1883.

15. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 1:367, 20 Apr. 1873. See also Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 15:263, 29 Dec. 1872; Wilford Woodruff, ibid., 17:247,9 Oct. 1874; Wilford Woodruff, ibid., 23:331, 10 Dec. 1882; Wilford Woodruff, ibid., 24:53, 27 Jan. 1883; Wilford Woodruff, ibid., 25:10, 6 Jan. 1884; George Teasdale, ibid, 26:54, 11 Jan. 1885; Orson F. Whitney, ibid., 26:200, 19 Apr. 1885.

16. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 17:37, 18 Apr. 1874; Wilford Woodruff, ibid., 18:37, 27 June 1875; Anthony Woodward Ivins Diaries, Utah State Historical Society, 1:17-19, 4 Oct. 1871; “Excerpts from a Journal or Sketch of the Life of Joel Hills Johnson,” bound printed copy (N.p.: n.p., n.d.), 28-30, Utah State Historical Society; Thomas William Whitaker Journal, 1849-86, photocopy of holograph, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, 6 Jan. 1879.

17. Edwin Brown Firmage and Richard Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts: A Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 131.

18. James L. Clayton, “The Supreme Court, Polygamy, and Enforcement of Morals in Nineteenth Century America: An Analysis of Reynolds v. United States, “Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12 (Winter 1979): 48.

19. Firmage and Mangrum, Zion in the Courts, 149-51.

20. John Henry Smith to Joseph Smith III, 21 Apr. 1886, Library Archives, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Independence, Missouri; Cleland and Brooks, Diaries of John D. Lee, 2:235, 18 Apr. 1873; Orson Pratt, “Celestial Marriage,” The Seer 1 (May 1853): 75; John Thompson, Mormonism—Increase of the Army … (Washington. D.C.: Buell and Blanchard, 1858), 5.

21. Richard F. Burton, The City of the Saints, ed. Fawn M. Brodie (1861; reprint, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963), 403;]. H. Beadle, Life in Utah, or the Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism (Toronto: A.H. Hovey, 1872), in Louis G. Reinwand, “An Interpretive Study of Mormon Millennialism During the Nineteenth Century with Emphasis on Millennial developments in Utah,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1971, 98.

22. Henry Ballard Diary, TS, Special Collections, Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 76, 15 Jan. 1876. See Gordon Shepherd and Gary Shepherd, A Kingdom Transformed: Themes in the Development of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984), 195-96, which shows that general conference addresses with eschatological themes peaked near the end of the years 1869-89.

23. “Record of Andrew Jackson Allen,” TS, Utah State Historical Society, 105, 21 Mar. 1875. See also C. Jacobson Diary, 1876, TS, in Reinwand, “An Interpretive Study of Mormon Millennialism,” 145, where the same fifteen-year time frame is promoted.

24. Oliver B. Huntington Diary, TS, Special Collections, Lee Library, 2:129.

25. Historian Office Journal, 7 July 1874-14 Nov. 1875, p. 70, in Robert J. Woodford, “The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1974, 75-76. Editor Orson Pratt included section 130 in the 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants under the direction of Brigham Young. See Woodford, “The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants,” 1710. This section was first published on 9 July 1856 in the Deseret News, and has been in every LDS edition of the Doctrine and Covenants since 1876, but is not canonized in RLDS scripture. See Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants (1981; reprint, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), 131; Richard P. Howard, Restoration Scriptures: A Study of Their Textual Development (Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1969), 229.

26. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 21:56; 21 Sept. 1878.

27. “Religious Service,” Deseret News 15 (26 June 1882): 1; “Remarks By President George Q. Cannon.” ibid., 17 (26 July 1884).

28. Kenney, Wilford Woodruffs Journal, 7:258, 31 Dec. 1875; Wilford Woodruff’s Journal of Discourses, 19:360-61, 30 June 1878; Wilford Woodruff, ibid., 19:135, 13 Oct. 1877.

29. Leonard John Nuttall Diary, TS, Special Collections, Lee Library, 7 Dec. 1878. Nuttall records Johnson as stating that Smith would have been eighty years old when he would see the Savior.

30. Millennial Star 40 (10 Apr. 1878): 64, in Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 153.

31. Reinwand, “An Interpretive Study of Mormon Millennialism,” 151. See Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879); Firmage and Mangrum, Zion in the Courts, 151-59; Linford, “The Mormons and the Law: The Polygamy Cases,” 331-41.

32. Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879); Linford, “The Mormons and the Law: The Polygamy Cases,” 341.

33. Firmage and Mangrum, Zion in the Courts, 156; B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 59-60; Clayton, “The Supreme Court, Polygamy, and Enforcement of Morals in Nineteenth Century America,” 55.

34. Nels Anderson, Desert Saints: The Mormon Frontier in Utah (1942; reprint, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), 291.

35. Annie Clark Tanner, A Mormon Mother (Salt Lake City: Tanner Trust Fund, 1991), 82; John Taylor, 13 Oct. 1882, in James R. Clark, ed., Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1833-1964, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 2:348-49.

36. The most scholarly contemporary reaction to the Reynolds decision was George Q. Cannon, A Review of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Case of George Reynolds v. the United States (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Printing and Publishing Establishment, 1879). A sampling of church leaders who declared the Reynolds verdict unconstitutional may be found in Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses, 20:188, 7 Apr. 1879; Franklin D. Richards, ibid., 23:111, 8 Apr. 1882; John Taylor, ibid., 26:38-39, 14 Dec. 1884; George Q. Cannon, ibid., 26:145, 18 Jan. 1885; “The Reynolds Test Polygamy Case—An Unconstitutional and Oppressive Decision,” Millennial Star 41 (13 Jan. 1879): 24; Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:513-14,9-10 Dec. 1880.

37. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 20:151, 9 Mar. 1879. See also L. John Nuttall Diary, 7 Jan. 1879.

38. John Morgan Journals, 1875-92, 10 vols., LDS church archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 8:158, 7 Oct. 1888.

39. Thomas William Whitaker Journal, Jan. 1879. See also L. John Nuttall Diary, 35, 7 Jan. 1879; Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 1:474-75, 6 Feb. 1879; George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, 23:279, 8 Oct. 1882; Franklin D. Richards, ibid., 20:314-15, 6 Oct. 1879.

40. “The Coming of the Messiah,” Millennial Star 41 (7 Apr. 1879): 216-18.

41. Reinwand, “An Interpretive Study of Mormon Millennialism,” 140-41.

42. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 1:486, 31 May 1879. Allen’s 1881 date may stem from Dimick Huntington’s recollection that, in surrendering to Illinois officials in 1844, Smith had said, “If they shed my blood it shall shorten this work 10 years. That taken from 1891 would reduce the time to 1881 which is the true time within which the Saviour should come [and] much must be crowded into 6 years.” In Oliver B. Huntington, Diary, TS, Special Collections, Lee Library, 2:129.

43. Charles W. Penrose, Journal of Discourses, 20:216, 25 May 1879.

44. Minutes of Eastern Arizona Stake Conferences, 1879-82. 28 June 1879. p. 87, in Charles S. Peterson, Take Up Your Mission: Mormon Colonizing Along the Little Colorado River, 1870-1900 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1973), 228.

45. The 1879 edition, with footnote references, was first printed and offered for sale in England in October 1879, and printed for the first time in Utah in 1880. See Woodford, “The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants,”91. For canonization of the new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants at general conference in October 1880, see Deseret News, 11 Oct. 1880, 2.

46. Woodford, “The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants,” 1718. Pratt’s extensive footnotes were deleted entirely by a 1921 revising committee. See ibid., 1717. See also Shepherd and Shepherd, A Kingdom Transformed, 195-96.

47. Reinwand, “An Interpretive Study of Mormon Millennialism,” 143-45, although Reinwand hedges somewhat, claiming that only occasional remarks regarding the Second Coming in 1890 or 1891 “filter[ed] down” from church leaders.

48. In the 1880s the Deseret News, edited by Charles W. Penrose, had a periodic column dealing with national and international news. A sampling of the headlines in this column illustrates Penrose’s millennialism. Captions commonly used to head these columns were: “Depravity and Disasters,” “Death and Disaster,” and “The Catalogue of Crime.” They can be found in Deseret News, 16 June 1884, 1: 20 Feb. 1884, 1; 8 Mar. 1884, 6; 11 Jan. 1884, 1: 21 Oct. 1884, 1: “War and Rumors of War.” 9 Feb. 1885, 1; “War Spirit Spreading,” 1 Apr. 1885, 2.

49. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 8:292-94, 31 Dec. 1884: 8:310, 20 Mar. 1885; 8:336-37, 3 Oct. 1885: 8:343, 12 Nov. 1885; 8:349-50, 20 Dec. 1885; 8:351, 31 Dec. 1885; 8:415, 31 Dec. 1886; 8:474, 31 Dec. 1887; 9:74, 31 Dec. 1889. A recent one-volume condensation of the Woodruff journals reflected the dominance of them in its title: Susan Staker, ed., Waiting for World’s End: The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993). In contrast, Thomas G. Alexander contends that although Woodruff felt the year 1890 was important, there was no clear indication that Woodruff “actively anticipated” 1890 to usher in the Millennium. Such an interpretation seems to misrepresent Woodruff’s own distinctively apocalyptic sentiments. Woodruff’s year-end entries were particularly millennial as he both summarized the previous year’s events and articulated his predictions (albeit in general terms) for the coming year. See Alexander, “Wilford Woodruff and the Changing Nature of Mormon Religious Experience,” Church History 45 (Mar. 1976): 66.

50. Alexander, “Wilford Woodruff and the Changing Nature of Mormon Religious Experience,” 64-66. For the context surrounding the “Wilderness Revelation,” see Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 7:546-47, 26-28, Jan. 1880. The actual revelation was received on 26 Jan. 1880, see ibid.

51. Woodruff’s “Wilderness Revelation” can be found in full in Staker, Waiting for World’s End, 340-46; and Fred C. Collier, ed., Unpublished Revelations of the Prophets and Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City: Collier’s Publishing Co., 1979-93), 1:123-29.

52. For a description of the presentation of the revelation to the Twelve Apostles, and John Taylor’s prayer at the altar, see Thomas G. Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth: The Life and Times of Wilford Woodruff, a Mormon Prophet (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1991), 237-39. In the nineteenth century Mormon prayer circles were used as a vehicle for members to covenant to live specific gospel principles to a greater degree. In the church’s highest quorums, the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, administrative and doctrinal matters were discussed and decisions affecting the entire church made while leaders, dressed in temple clothes, met in prayer circles. See D. Michael Quinn, “Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles,” Brigham Young University Studies 19 (Fall 1978): 103.

53. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:563-64, 14 Aug. 1881.

54. Ibid., 2:544, 20 Mar. 1881. See also John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 21:253, 21 Mar. 1880.

55. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:522, 21 Jan. 1881.

56. Firmage and Mangrum, Zion in the Courts, 161.

57. James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), 392.

58. Cannon v. United States, 116 U.S. (1885), Supreme Court Reporter (St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1886), 287.

59. Kimberly Jensen James, “‘Between Two Fires’: Women on the ‘Underground’ of Mormon Polygamy,” Journal of Mormon History 8 (1986): 49-61; Martha Sonntag Bradley, “‘Hide and Seek:’ Children on the Underground,” Utah Historical Quarterly 51 (Spring 1983): 133-53; Jessie L. Embry, Mormon Polygamous Families: Life in the Principle (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987), 17-22.

60. Editorial, Deseret News Semi-Weekly, 9 Apr. 1886. See also Charles W. Penrose, editorial, Deseret News, 15 June 1885; George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, 26:145, 18 Jan. 1885.

61. Journal of Henry Eyring, 1835-1902, TS, Special Collections, Lee Library, 63. See also Gibson Condie, “Reminiscence and Diary,” LDS church archives, 80.

62. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 8:96, 20 Apr. 1882.

63. “Discourse By Apostle F.D. Richards,” Deseret News 18 (24 Jan. 1885): 1; “Remarks By President George Q. Cannon,” ibid., 17 (26 July 1884): 1; “Remarks By Apostle F.D. Richards,” ibid., 18 (18 July 1885): 1; Journal of Jesse Nathaniel Smith (Salt Lake City: Jesse N. Smith Family Associates, 1953), 288, 16 May 1884.

64. John Willard Young to Susie and Mabel Young, 17 Feb. 1886, John Willard Young Correspondence, LDS church archives; “Discourse By President Joseph F. Smith,” Deseret News 16 (7 July 1883): 1.

65. George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, 23:271, 8 Oct. 1882.

66. “Discourse By President George Q. Cannon,” Deseret News 15 (28 Oct. 1882): 1.

67. “Discourse By President George Q. Cannon,” Deseret News 18 (13 Dec. 1884): 1.

68. “They Refuse To See,” Deseret News 28 (6 June 1885): 2.

69. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 26:156, 1 Feb. 1885. See also Collier, Unpublished Revelations, 1:140.

70. Collier, Unpublished Revelations, 1:144; Franklin D. Richards, Journal of Discourses, 26:102, 18 Jan. 1885; Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:645, 3 Mar. 1885; L. John Nuttall Diary, 7 Jan. 1879.

71. Ruth Savage Hilton, ed., Lorenzo Hill Hatch Journal (Provo, UT: n.p., 1958), 125.

72. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:586, 16 Sept. 1882.

73. See Elder Robert Smith, Signs of the Times (Payson, UT: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1887); and W. H. H. Sharp, Prophetic History and the Fulfillment of Prophecy From 600 Years B. C. to The Year of Our Lord A.D. 1891 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Home Co., 1888). These books were read and discussed by the Saints, Charles L. Walker apparently referring to the latter when he recorded on the final day of 1891: “This is the end of the Great eventful year as some have choosed to call it, and as many have been looking for many years, some … have even boldly asserted and even prophesied that Christ would come and that the Saints would controll all the Kingdoms of the Earth, and some have written and published Books with diagrams showing the great Image that Daniel refers to, and have calculated as they though to a nicety the Times, time, and half times, etc., etc., etc., and have set forth startling things to come to pass.” See Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:731, 31 Dec. 1891.

74. Reinwand, “An Interpretive Study of Mormon Millennialism,” 140-42.

75. Samuel W. Taylor, The Kingdom or Nothing: The Life of John Taylor, Militant Mormon (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1976), 288. A sampling of sentiments expressing the belief that the church would never give up polygamy includes: “What Shall The Mormon Church Do,” Deseret News 12 (6 Sept. 1879): 2; “Honorable George Q. Cannon Interviewed,” ibid., 14 (17 Dec. 1881): 4; “Discourse By President George Q. Cannon,” ibid., 17 (8 Dec. 1833): 1; “Expressions From the People,” ibid., 18 (24 Mar. 1885): 4; “Discourse By President George Q. Cannon,” ibid., 18 (11 Apr. 1885): 1; Juvenile Instructor, 1 May 1885; John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 23:68, 9 Apr. 1882; John Taylor, ibid., 26:152-53, 1 Feb. 1885; George Reynolds, ibid., 26:159-60, 29 Mar. 1885; Orson F. Whitney, ibid., 26:201, 19 Apr. 1885; Lorenzo Snow, ibid., 26:368, 10 Jan. 1886; Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:645, 25 Jan. 1885, 2:649, 14 June 1885; Levi Savage, Jr., Diary, TS, Special Collections, Lee Library, 78, 25 Jan. 1885.

76. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 8:333-34, 21 Sept. 1885; 8:351, 31 Dec. 1885; 8:415, 31 Dec. 1886.

77. Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 173-78.

78. Donald G. Godfrey and Brigham Y. Card, eds., The Diaries of Charles Ora Card: The Canadian Years, 1886-1903 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993), xxxviii.

79. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 23:266, 8 Oct. 1882. See also the Gibson Condie “Reminiscences and Diary” (LDS church archives) where almost every page for the 1880s recounts disasters throughout the world, as well as numerous references to the persecution of the Saints by their “enemies.”

80. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:640, 23 Dec. 1884; 2:656, 1 Nov. 1885.

81. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 8:349, 20 Dec. 1885.

82. Ibid., 8:336•37, 3 Oct. 1885; Levi Mathers Savage Family History Journal, mimeographed copy, Special Collections, Lee Library, 112•13, 14 June 1855.

83. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 8:351, 31 Dec. 1885.

84. Ibid., 8:378, 16 Feb. 1886.

85. Thomas William Whitaker Journal, 22•25 Apr. 1886.

86. Abraham Hoagland Cannon Diaries, photocopy of MS, Special Collections, Lee Library, 14 Oct. 1886; “An extract from the Remarks of Apostle Moses Thatcher at Lewiston, Cache Co. Utah Terr[itory] 1886, 6 Nov. 1886,” LDS church archives; Arthur Pendry Welchman, “Reminiscences and Diary,” LDS church archives, 133, 10 Apr. 1886; Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Dec. 1886, in Reinwand, “An Interpretive Study of Mormon Millennialism,” 141-42.

87. John Morgan Journals, 6 Oct. 1888, 8:156.

88. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 1:413-14, 11 Aug. 1875; 2:629, 26 Apr. 1884; Winslow Farr Diary, TS, Special Collections, Lee Library, 54, 11 Jan.1875; Tanner, A Mormon Mother, 102; “Life Story of Anson Bowen Call,” TS, in possession of B. Carmon Hardy, Orange, California, 2; J. Cecil Alter, ed., “Journal of Leonard E. Harrington,” Utah Historical Quarterly 8 (Jan. 1940): 49; Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 21:285, 4 July 1880; John Mills Whitaker Diaries, 3 vols., TS of 7 volume original, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1:23, 29 June 1884.

89. Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God, comps., Joseph Smith, Junior, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams (Kirtland, OH: F.G. Williams and Co., 1835), secs. 4 and 97.

90. “Record of Andrew Jackson Allen,” 33, 14 Mar. 1858; Elias Smith, Journal of Discourses, 6:221, 2 Aug. 1857; Brigham Young, ibid., 10:339, 7 Oct. 1864; George Q. Cannon, ibid., 13:97,6 Apr. 1869; John Taylor, ibid., 17:66, 7 May 1874; Orson Pratt, ibid., 17:291, 7 Feb. 1875.

91. Reinwand, “An Interpretive Study of Mormon Millennialism,” 142.

92. A Book of Commandments of the Church of Christ, Organized According to Law, on the 6th of April, 1830 (Zion [Independence], MO: W.W. Phelps and Co., 1833), 68; Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., 154; Evening and Morning Star, Dec. 1832, 54; Jan. 1833,62.

93. Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 17:301, 7 Feb. 1875.

94. “Movements Among The Indians,” Millennial Star 1 (Dec. 1874): 760-61; Henry Eyring, “American Indians.” Millennial Star (19 July 1875): 449-53; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 20:146-47; 9 Mar. 1879.

95. Welchman, “Reminiscence and Diary,” 133, 10 Apr. 1886. See also 3 Ne. 21:12-13, 20:16-17; “The Fulfillment of Prophecy.” Millennial Star 34 (23 Aug. 1862): 531.

96. For a sample of such references, based on the Book of Mormon prophecy at 3 Nephi 20:15-17 and 21:12-13, see Parley P. Pratt, Mormonism Unveiled… (New York: Orson Pratt and Elijah Fordham, 1838), 15; Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., 2d ed. rev., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974-76), 1:419; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 9:178-79,15 July 1855; Joseph Lee Robinson Journal, mimeographed copy, 13, Utah State Historical Society; Dimick Baker Huntington Journals, 2 vols., LDS church archives, Apr. 1859; Patriarchal Blessings given to Joseph C. Bentley, in “Israel Ivins Bentley.” TS, Oral History Interview, by Gordon Irving, May 1973, LDS church archives, 4-5, 9-10, 14-15.

97. Firmage and Mangrum, Zion in the Courts, 197-202.

98. Heber J. Grant Diary, 17 May 1888, in Jean Bickmore White, ed., Church, State, and Politics: The Diaries of John Henry Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1990), 201n121., 17 May 1888. See also Jean Bickmore White, “The Making of the Convention President: The Political Education of John Henry Smith,” Utah Historical Quarterly 39 (Fall 1971): 359; Heber J. Grant Journal, 17 May 1888, in D. Michael Quinn, “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18 (Spring 1985): 34.

99. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:704,16-17 Dec. 1888; “Biographical Record of Martha [Cragun] Cox,” LDS church archives, 141.

100. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9:67-69, 24 Nov. 1889; L. John Nuttall Diary, 24 Nov. 1889; Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 3:171-76.

101. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 6:422, 22 Aug. 1868. See also Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 153; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 20: 152, 9 Mar. 1879.

102. Wilford Woodruff, “Remarks,” at Tooele Stake Conference, 29 July 1889, in Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. (Sandy, UT: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-92), 1:325.

103. Thomas G. Alexander and James B. Allen, Mormons & Gentiles: A History of Salt Lake City (Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Co., 1984), 100.

104. The Idaho Test Oath, originally passed in February 1885, amended Idaho territorial election laws to exclude any member of an organization which endorsed polygamy (the Mormon church) from voting or holding public position. See Grenville H. Gibbs, “Mormonism in Idaho Politics, 1880-1890,” Utah Historical Quarterly 21 (Oct. 1953): 295-96; Merle W. Wells, Anti-Mormonism in Idaho, 1872-92 (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1978), 57-61.

105. Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 2d ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 234.

106. Edward Leo Lyman, Political Deliverance: The Mormon Quest for Utah Statehood (Urbana: University of Illinoi6 Press, 1986), 126-33.

107. Henry F. Dobyns and Robert C. Euler, The Ghost Dance of 1889 Among the Pai Indians of Northwestern Arizona (Prescott, AZ: Prescott College Press, 1967), vii-viii; Dee Alexander Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971); James Mooney. The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), originally published as part 2 of the Fourteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1892-93 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1896), 789-91; Gregory E. Smoak, “Mormons and the Ghost Dance of 1890,” South Dakota History 16 (Fall 1986): 290-91.

108. Wilford Woodruff: John King correspondence cited in Lawrence G. Coates, “The Mormons and the Ghost Dance,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18 (Winter 1985): 107. One writer claims the unique doctrines taught by the church (sacred scripture written by the Indians’ ancestors, the promise of Indians rising once again to greatness, Christ previously ministering to the people with a promise to return to usher in the Millennium) led Mormon-converted Indians to be the Indian Messiah Wovoka’s “easiest and most enthusiastic converts.” See Paul Bailey, Wovoka, The Indian Messiah (Los Angeles: Westernlore Press, 1957), 121-22.

109. Joseph F. Smith, “The Messiah Craze,” The Young Woman’s Journal 2 (Feb 1891): 268-71, in Coates, “The Mormons and the Ghost Dance,” 109-10.

110. The County Register, 28 Aug. 1890, in Coates, “The Mormons and the Ghost Dance,” 107.

111. Brigham Young Jr. Journals, 1862-1902, LDS church archives, 29 May 1890. See also 6 Aug. 1890, where Snow makes a similar prediction. Journal notations and quotations provided by B. Carmon Hardy.

112. Ibid., 29 May 1890.

113. Abraham H. Cannon Diaries, 6 Aug. 1890.

114. In William G. Hartley, “The Seventies in the 1880s: Revelations and Reorganizing,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 (Spring 1983): 83.

115. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9:112-16, 25 Sept. 1890.

116. Jan Shipps, “In the Presence of the Past: Continuity and Change in Twentieth-Century Mormonism,” in After 150 Years: The Latter-day Saints in Sesquicentennial Perspective, ecls. Thomas G. Alexander and Jessie Embry (Provo, UT: Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, 1983), 10. Debate continues on the initial meaning of the Manifesto. While some historians have called it “a revelation” (Thomas G. Alexander, “The Odyssey of a Latter-day Prophet: Wilford Woodruff and the Manifesto of 1890,” Journal of Mormon History 17 [1991]: 171), and “not simply a political document” (Allen and Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, 413), others consider its issuance a delaying tactic. See Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 55. chap. 4 in its entirety and specifically pp. 129-31; Lyman, Political Deliverance, 134; Hansen, Quest for Empire, 177. See discussion in Quinn, “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904,” 9-11.

117. See “Address Delivered by President Franklin S. Richards to the High Priest Quorum of Ensign Stake,” 13 Nov. 1932, LDS church archives, in Ken Driggs, “‘Lawyers of Their Own to Defend Them’; The Legal Career of Franklin Snyder Richards,” Journal of Mormon History 21 (Fall 1995): 106. See also Frank J. Cannon and Harvey J. O’Higgins, Under the Prophet in Utah (Boston: C.M. Clark Publishing, 1911), 102-105.

118. “The Manifesto,” Millennial Star 52 (24 Nov. 1890): 744; Brigham Young quoted in Proceedings Before The Committee On Privileges And Elections Of The United States Senate In The Matter Of The Protests Against The Right Of Hon. Reed Smoot, A Senator From Utah, To Hold His Seat, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906), 1:15. See also Ambrose B. Carlton, The Wonderlands of the Wild West, with Sketches of the Mormons (N.p.: n.p., 1891), 321.

119. John Henry Smith, in Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:716, 16 Sept. 1890.

120. Doctrine and Covenants, Official Declaration—1, 292.

121. Ronald W. Walker, “B. H. Roberts and the Woodruff Manifesto,” Brigham Young University Studies 22 (Summer 1982): 363•66; Abraham H. Cannon Diaries, 26 Sept. 1890; Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 135; Quinn, “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904,” 48-49.

122. Quinn, “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904,” 47-49; Kenneth W. Godfrey, “The Coming of the Manifesto,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3 (Autumn 1970): 20-24.

123. Thatcher, in Heber J. Grant Journal, 30 Sept. 1890-1 Oct. 1890, in Quinn, “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904,” 47.

124. White, Church, State, and Politics, 201, 17 May 1888. See also White, “The Making of the Convention President,” 359.

125. Church authorities who referred to the year 1891 in connection with the “coming of the Son of Man” reference include B. H. Roberts, Moses Thatcher, Francis M. Lyman, Franklin D. Richards, Heber J. Grant. George Q. Cannon, and Wilford Woodruff.

126. Gibson Condie, “Reminiscences and Diary,” 107.

127. Stuy, Collected Discourses, 2:121; Marriner Wood Merrill Diaries, 1887-1906, LDS church archives, 1:72,5 Oct. 1890 (citation provided by B. Carmon Hardy). See also “General Conference,” Deseret Evening News, 4 Oct. 1890; “General Conference,” ibid., 6 Oct. 1890, 4; “The Mormon Conference,” Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Oct. 1890, 4; “Second Day’s Conference,” ibid., 6 Oct. 1890.

128. Stuy, Collected Discourses, 2:110.

129. “General Conference,” Deseret Evening News, 6 Oct 1890, 2; Stuy, Collected Discourses, 2:107; Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Oct. 1890. Thomas Alexander discounts the influence of Thatcher’s belief in the imminence of the Millennium, arguing that by 1889 Thatcher was out of harmony with church leaders. See Alexander, “Wilford Woodruff and the Changing Nature of Mormon Religious Experience,” 66. Thatcher’s difficulties with George Q. Cannon started in 1887 over control of stock in the Bullion Beck silver mine. The Thatcher-Cannon conflict troubled all members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and First Presidency and in mid-1890 Joseph F. Smith was asked to step in and mediate the controversy to keep it out of the public courts. Thatcher later incurred the wrath of fellow church leaders by not acquiescing to their wishes within the realm of Utah Republican-Democratic politics, and in November 1896 he was dropped from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. See Edward Leo Lyman, “The Alienation of an Apostle from His Quorum: The Moses Thatcher Case,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18 (Summer 1985): 67-91.

130. Stuy, Collected Discourses, 2:136: Carlton, The Wonderlands of the Wild West, 321.

131. “The Mormon Conference,” Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Oct. 1890, 4; “Second Days Conference,” ibid., Oct. 1890, 4. See also Keith E. Norman, “How Long, O Lord? The Delay of the Parousia in Mormonism,” Sunstone 8 (Jan.-Apr. 1983): 53; Allen and Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, 413.

132. Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9:133, 1 Jan. 1891.

133. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:721, 3 Jan. 1891.

134. White, Church, State, and Politics, 243, 14 Oct. 1890.

135. Abraham H. Cannon Diaries, 2 Oct., 22 Oct. 1890; Richard D. Poll, “The Legislative Anti-polygamy Campaign,” Brigham Young University Studies 26 (Fall 1986): 119; E. Leo Lyman, “The Political Background of the Woodruff Manifesto,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 24 (Fall 1991): 38; Lyman, Political Deliverance, 185.

136. Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 152.

137. White, Church, State, and Politics, 264-56, 18-22 Dec. 1891. The amnesty petition, along with Zane’s and Thomas’s favorable recommendations, is found in “Amnesty,” Contributor 13 (Feb. 1892): 196-97.

138. Lyman, Political Deliverance, 120.

139. Arrington and Bitton, The Mormon Experience, 234; Allen and Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, 416.

140. Arrington and Bitton, The Mormon Experience, 242-43; Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 152; Orma Linford, “The Mormons and the Law: The Polygamy Cases,” Utah Law Review 9 (Summer 1965): 584-85. The amnesty proclamations are found in Richardson, Messages and Papers at the Presidents, Harrison—1893, 7:5803-5804; Cleveland—1894, 8:5942-43.

141. Klaus J. Hansen, Mormonism and the American Experience (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 165, 157; Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 56-60. This is also recognized in Harold Bloom, The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 70.

142. Logue, A Sermon in the Desert, 35.

143. Abraham H. Cannon, Diaries, 1 Oct. 1890; Walker, “B. H. Roberts and the Woodruff Manifesto,” 363-66; Brigham Young, Jr., in Davis Bitton, “The Ordeal of Brigham Young, Jr.,” in The Ritualization of Mormon History and Other Essays (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 132. Brigham Young, Jr., in ibid., specifically identified a generation gap between the older apostles and “the younger men of the Quorum.” On the political partisanship of the 1890s, see D. Michael Quinn, “The Mormon Hierarchy, 1832-1932: An American Elite,” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1976, 234-38; Lyman, Political Deliverance, 166-81.

144. Larson and Larson, Diary of Charles Walker, 2:728, 20 Oct. 1891. See also Logue, A Sermon in the Desert, 117.

145. Millennial Star 49 (1887): 295-96.

146. Logue, A Sermon in the Desert, 119.

147. Ibid., 119-20.

148. Thomas F. O’Dea, The Mormons (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), 171; Richard D. Poll, “The Americanism of Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 44 (Winter 1976): 89.