The New Mormon History
D. Michael Quinn, editor

Chapter 14
“To Maintain Harmony”: Adjusting to External and Internal Stress, 1890-1930
Thomas G. Alexander

[p.247] In his landmark organizational study, German sociologist Max Weber outlined three forms of authority: traditional, charismatic, and legal. Originally charismatic under Joseph Smith and to some extent under Brigham Young, by the late nineteenth century leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) had become traditional. Leaders no longer functioned outside acknowledged lines of authority but operated with clearly established relationships to one another and to Mormon church membership. The presidency of the church automatically passed to the president of the Council of the Twelve. Being called to the First Presidency or to the Twelve immediately vested church leaders with authority both in the priesthood sense and in the sense of personal prestige, more the original meaning of the Latin auctoritas.1

Just as the leadership of the church was not charismatic by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, neither was it legal. It was not governed by the “rule of law and not of men.” Church leaders had not yet separated church money and equipment from their private property. In fact as late as Lorenzo Snow’s death in October 1901, the question arose whether his property and church property were one and the same, and the separation was not completely solidified until 1922 and 1923 during Heber J. Grant’s administration. Furthermore well into the twentieth century and to a lesser [p. 248] extent today, most general authorities did not depend completely on their positions for a living. Since a bureaucracy requires a money economy, a true bureaucracy within the church could not be organized before 1908 when the church sifted to a money system by abolishing payments in scrip and kind.2

Administratively the system of government dominant in the church today was largely set in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, when leadership was traditional and its structure was shifting from charismatic to more bureaucratic forms of leadership. Under Joseph Smith, administration centered in the prophet, who generally made final decisions and exercised personal authority. Although the current prophet still has the power of making final decisions on all questions, a church bureaucracy operating under fixed rules handles most administrative matters. The Church Office Building housing the bureaucracy at 50 East North Temple rather than the Church Administration Building housing most general authorities at 47 East South Temple operates the church’s day-to-day affairs. Bureaucrats know the files and rules and provide continuity of administration. In the administrations of Joseph F. Smith (1901- 18) and Heber J. Grant (1918-45), reading committees drawn from the First Presidency and Twelve approved texts for church use, and the First Presidency considered and appropriated the exact sum of the church’s share for the construction of a new chapel. Today the bureaucracy handles both matters, though ultimate approval still rests with the First Presidency and Twelve as it would with administrative officers in any bureaucratic system.3

If the church organization in the late nineteenth century was post-charismatic and pre-bureaucratic, it was also unlike classical pre-bureaucratic forms of organization which typically are avocational and directed by persons of independent means. An example would be a medieval fiefdom ruled by a vassal of a king. The situation of the general authorities was much different. In virtually every case, a large part of their outside incomes were linked to church-controlled businesses like ZCMI, Consolidated Wagon and Machine, or Hotel Utah, or they were beholden to the church for outstanding loans. In some cases, as with James E. Talmage and John A. Widtsoe, church stipends provided their entire or principal income.4 Thus financially the church’s hierarchy had some characteristics of a bureaucracy though church funds were not the only source of income for its [p. 249] organizational leaders.

Yet the form of organization was collegial, essentially a pre-bureaucratic form. Many commentators on church government have missed this point. Frank Cannon’s Under the Prophet in Utah pictures the church as an autocracy run by Joseph F. Smith; Samuel W. Taylor’s recent study offers a similar emphasis.5

Doctrinally and historically the church leadership thus exhibited both hierarchical and collegial elements. Both are built into the scriptural injunctions about church government. Doctrine and Covenants 107 declares that “the Presidency of the High Priesthood … has a right to officiate in all offices in the church” (v. 9), indicating a hierarchical superiority to other quorums in the church. At the same time the Twelve, “special witnesses of the name of Christ,” are said to “form a quorum, equal in authority and power to the three presidents previously mentioned” (vs. 23-24)—a collegial element. In addition, the seventy “form a quorum equal in authority to that of the Twelve special witnesses or Apostles” (vs. 25-26).

In light of these dual characteristics, crises—often those associated with succession in the First Presidency—made the conflict between hierarchy and collegiality more conspicuous than did operational problems. There are, of course, exceptions to this generalization.6 In most cases, however, Timothy Ware’s generalization made about conciliarism in the Greek Orthodox Church holds for the LDS church as well: “In the Church, there is neither dictatorship nor individualism, but harmony and unanimity; men remain free but not isolated, for they are united in love, in faith, and in sacramental communion. In a council this idea of harmony and free unanimity can be seen worked out in practice. In a true council no single member arbitrarily imposes his will upon the rest, but each consults with the others, and in this way all freely achieve a `common end.'”7

When schismatic tendencies and disharmony have developed in the LDS church, in a number of cases the Twelve resolved them by collegial action. An instructive parallel is the operation of the cardinals during medieval schisms in the Roman Catholic Church.8 Like the succession dispute between Urban VI and Clement VII, the crisis at the death of Joseph Smith not only posed the question of succession but also of a unified church’s continued existence.

At the death of Joseph Smith, the Twelve acted on behalf of [p. 250] God and of the general church as a council to preserve the body of the Saints from dissolution and the church from destruction. In practice, of course, schism did develop, but in general the largest portion of the church membership recognized the collegial authority of the Twelve and followed them to the west.

Crises also developed as Mormonism made the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. In these cases the sources of strain came in the attempt to define the political, social, economic, and doctrinal position of the church and its leadership as the church moved from a highly unitary, internally rigid body to a more pluralistic organization. Under those conditions, the standard of conduct of church members and the limits of conformity for members and leaders alike changed rapidly, straining the internal harmony of the general authorities and leading to the removal of some.

Although church leadership is partly hierarchical and partly collegial, the model for deliberations of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve is collegial. As each general authority is inducted into the Council of the Twelve, he is so instructed. Perhaps the best example of this is found in the journal of James E. Talmage. Francis M. Lyman, then president of the Twelve, told Talmage after having him set apart that during the deliberations of the Twelve and First Presidency, he must feel free to present his views as vigorously as he chose. After the body made a decision, however, he must leave the meeting supporting the decisions, duty-bound not to discuss the deliberations or any disagreements which might have developed in the council. Because of a curious interpretation of that charge, Talmage’s journal changed radically. Before his apostleship, he wrote fully and freely about the operation of the church. Afterward it was virtually silent on matters of church organization and policy. Yet apostles Anthon H. Lund, Reed Smoot, George F. Richards, and Heber J. Grant understood the charge differently.9

The collegial principle under which the First Presidency and Twelve operated was, as they called it, “harmony.” In general it worked very well for day-to-day operations and in developing internal programs such as the priesthood reform movement, temple ceremony revisions, and alterations of temple garment styles.10

Perhaps the best example of this ability to reach harmony on matters not involving larger issues is found in the codification of [p. 251] doctrine undertaken during the 1890s and culminating in the publication in 1899 of James E. Talmage’s A Study of the Articles of Faith. In 1894 the First Presidency asked Talmage, then a lay member, to give a series of lectures on the doctrines of the church. Four years later he was asked to rewrite the lectures and present them to a committee for consideration as an exposition of church doctrine.11

In the process Talmage reconsidered and clarified some doctrines which had been poorly defined before. For example, during the 1894 lectures, George Q. Cannon, first counselor in the First Presidency, “expressed his opinion that the Holy Ghost was in reality, in the image of the other members of the God-head—a man in form and figure; and that what we often speak of as the Holy Ghost is in reality but the power or influence of the spirit.” The First Presidency, however, “deemed it wise to say as little as possible on this as on other disputed subjects,” perhaps since the nature of the Holy Ghost was somewhat equivocal in the writings of Joseph Smith.12

After the 1894 discussion Talmage published an article in the Juvenile Instructor incorporating Cannon’s views and also reproduced the position in the Articles of Faith manuscript. He was somewhat surprised when the First Presidency approved that section practically without revision. The controversial opinion of 1894 had by 1899 become the published doctrine of the church.13

Harmony floundered, however, on the shoals of larger traditional interests—changes which seemed alterations in basic principles (plural marriage or organic evolution) or which involved larger political interests (dietary rules, member involvement in politics) or a combination (the League of Nations controversy).

It is, I believe, at these stress points which challenged collegiality and traditional authority that we best see the operation of harmony. This is partly true because “the Brethren” often did not comment on discussions when harmony easily prevailed. Essentially, the Council of the Twelve and First Presidency faced from the 1890s through the early 1930s the difficulties of any traditional society under the stress of acculturation, attempting the task of, in Peter Berger’s phrase, “world maintenance” while trying to define a new twentieth-century Mormonism within an increasingly pluralistic society. Under these conditions it is not surprising that traditional leadership was strained by both measures which broke with previous tradition and those that continued it.14

[p. 252] Perhaps the most difficult problem church leadership faced was determining the role of the general authorities in national politics. In the nineteenth century, the church had been politically unitary rather than pluralistic. Local and general authorities decided political questions in the church’s interest, as they perceived it. In territorial Utah the church-operated People’s Party held virtually all political offices until conditions in 1889 and 1890 contributed to several anti-Mormon Liberal Party victories. In 1891 church leadership formally disbanded the People’s Party and urged members to divide into the two major parties. Since the Republican Party had been most vigorous in its anti-Mormon activities, leaders feared that most members would become Democrats, essentially remaining unitary. Their solution was to have Republican general authorities actively solicit membership while Democratic general authorities remained relatively silent.15

Some Democratic general authorities, such as Moses Thatcher of the Twelve and B. H. Roberts of the First Council of the Seventy, objected. Thatcher, who had been in and out of difficulty for opposing his colleagues on expenditures for economic development, for supporting a strong millennialist position, and for differences with fellow apostle Marriner W. Merrill, declined to obey and was threatened with exclusion from the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893 until he recanted.16

In late 1893 the anti-Mormon Liberal Party similarly disbanded, and its members joined the two major parties. Most became Republicans, tipping the scale enough to elect Frank J. Cannon, son of George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency, as territorial delegate and a GOP majority to the Utah constitutional convention of 1895. In 1895 Utahns elected a Republican majority to the legislature and state offices.17

Thatcher and Roberts together with Presiding Bishop William B. Preston and Apostle John Henry Smith served in the state constitutional convention, and Thatcher and Roberts intended to run as Democratic candidates for the U.S. senate and congress in 1895. Thatcher and Roberts thought that since church members were now politically divided and the church had given up its political dictation, the American tradition of liberty required no prior restraint and hence no permission to run for office.18

On the eve of the election in the priesthood meeting of the [p. 253] October 1895 general conference, Joseph F. Smith, second counselor in the First Presidency, attacked Roberts and Thatcher, charging they were out of harmony since they had not sought permission to run. Smith seems to have had three motives. He was concerned about balance between the two political parties; he was an extremely partisan Republican of long standing; and he was concerned about the need of the general authorities to act in harmony. He insisted that all church officials secure permission from their quorum to run for office to determine whether they would be spared from their ecclesiastical duties.19

Discussed by the First Presidency and Twelve, largely in Thatcher’s absence since he was ill during much of the next six months, Smith’s views were codified in the so-called Political Manifesto and approved by both bodies shortly before the April 1896 general conference. Thatcher refused to sign. Late in the year, after various efforts by his colleagues had failed, he was dropped from the quorum and ordered not to exercise his priesthood. He forestalled excommunication the next year only by recanting.20

The Thatcher case posed the classic conflict of traditional leadership—personal liberty and collegial authority. The goals of the First Presidency and Twelve included balancing church membership between the two parties and safeguarding the internal harmony necessary to lead the church. In this case the council faced a combination of external and internal stress. The external stress came both from demands that the church cease political dictation and from Republican Party officials. If the church had indeed given up political dictation, however, could the quorum in good conscience demand control over its members’ political activities?

The council resolved the issue by insisting that the church had no desire to control politics but that it had a right to control the actions of quorum members. In the interest of harmony, each member had to receive approval to participate in outside political activities that might compete with his ecclesiastical duties. Thatcher, believing that this solution infringed upon his personal liberty refused to subordinate his own interests to the council’s need for harmony and was expelled.

The incident reveals another feature of the council’s operation—a relatively greater emphasis on hierarchy than on collegium. Though permission to run for political office had been necessary [p. 254] before 1891, it was apparently not necessary again until Joseph F. Smith opened his attack on Roberts and Thatcher in October 1895. Smith was fourth in line for the presidency and a counselor in the First Presidency. As such, his public statements carried considerable weight. Even today a preemptive public statement or leak of a public position by a senior general authority may dictate the public position of the council on a particular question.21

An even more complex case is that of dietary code found in the Word of Wisdom. The current interpretation of abstention from alcohol, tea, coffee, and tobacco had been enunciated by Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and Brigham Young but was not codified until 1898-1905. As the general authorities reached consensus, the First Presidency sent circular letters to stake presidents and bishops outlining the policy, and members of the council began catechizing local officials about adherence to the rules.22

After 1905 council disagreement left the meaning of the Word of Wisdom to focus on public policy. Some apostles such as Heber J. Grant, then a senior member of the Twelve, believed that adherence to the Word of Wisdom required members to promote Prohibition. Grant, an active Democrat, could insist on that position since the Democratic Party was largely Mormon. Republicans Reed Smoot and Joseph F. Smith saw the situation more from the perspective of Republican gentile businessmen, many of whom opposed Prohibition. The situation was further complicated by evangelical Protestants who initiated the Prohibition movement in Utah and chided church leaders for moral sloth.23

Even for Mormon Republicans the situation was not simple. President Smith and Elder Smoot feared dividing the Republican Party and strengthening the anti-Mormon American Party, which controlled Salt Lake City government from 1905 through 1911. After 1911 they were apprehensive about the possibility of reviving an anti-Mormon coalition against ecclesiastical influence in the Prohibition question. On the other hand, a number of prominent Mormon Republicans, led at first by a reluctant Nephi L. Morris, president of the Salt Lake Stake, favored Prohibition and fought Smoot and his political machine on this and other issues. This breach widened into a full rupture after the Republican Party refused to support statewide Prohibition in 1912 and a group of so-called “Prohibition Republicans” reconstituted themselves as the Progressive Party, supporting  [p. 255] Theodore Roosevelt for the U.S. presidency and Morris for Utah governor.24

Breaches of harmony were virtually unavoidable under these circumstances. Joseph F. Smith and Reed Smoot preached abstinence and at times even Prohibition from the pulpit. In private they counseled political moderation, though at times favored local option. This visible contradiction between official and unofficial signals confused the general church membership. The penultimate conflict took place in 1915 when William Spry, Utah governor, in part with President Smith’s support, pocket-vetoed a bipartisan Prohibition bill, divided the Republican Party, and thus committed political suicide. Republican Nephi L. Morris lost a bid for governor in 1916, while the Democratic Party behind German-Jewish businessman Simon Bamberger carried the governorship and the legislature.25

Heber J. Grant’s pro-Prohibition stand also challenged harmony. A member of the national board of the Anti-Saloon League, Grant championed Prohibition from the pulpit and platform. Joseph F. Smith resignedly said that he had “frequently tried to modify his zeal,” but Grant did “as he wishes.” The legislature had passed a 1909 local option bill which Spry had, to a furor among Prohibition supporters, pocket-vetoed. Grant, who believed the liquor interests had bought the governor and Smoot’s political machine with Republican support, planned a strong Prohibition speech for the April 1909 conference. Francis M. Lyman, president of the Council of the Twelve, however, apparently sensing a breach of harmony, asked his colleague to speak on the “peaceable things of the Kingdom.” Annoyed, Grant nevertheless decided obedience was better than sacrifice and followed Lyman’s counsel.26

In this case the strain on harmony was external. Harmony was achieved first on local option as a compromise and later on statewide prohibition. Breaches in that harmony came because of extracollegial stress caused when members worked publicly for positions generally opposed by the council’s consensus. Late in 1915 when the overwhelming majority in Utah clearly favored statewide Prohibition, Smoot and Smith came out publicly and privately in favor of Prohibition, thus reuniting the council and reestablishing harmony. By that time, however, irreparable damage had been inflicted on the political machine Smoot had so carefully organized and President Smith had so fully supported. In this case stress had little [p. 256] inside effect but resulted in tremendous external repercussions as members of the church, looking for signals to reinforce the harmony they expected, were understandably confused by the conflicting rumors.

A third breach of harmony was created by the problem of new plural marriages. Between the Manifesto of October 1890 ostensibly ending new plural marriages and the Second Manifesto of April 1904 when Joseph F. Smith strongly interdicted the practice, members of the Twelve and First Presidency sanctioned and performed various marriages both in the United States and abroad.27

When the election of Reed Smoot as senator from Utah and the resultant investigations brought some of these marriages to light, general authorities reexamined their policy of approving new plural marriages. Obviously it was a costly one. Church leaders had agreed to end plural marriage in exchange for statehood; now their good faith was suspect. The extent to which members of the First Presidency and Twelve participated in these decisions is not yet determined, nevertheless, the revelation of new marriages caused serious external and internal stress.

The First Presidency and Twelve did not arrive at a consensus on a course of action until after 1904, and their new policy was as difficult to implement as it had been to reach. Plural marriage had been so thoroughly ingrained in the Latter-day Saint community that neither a public pronouncement nor a hierarchical decision could easily eliminate it. Apostle Marriner W. Merrill, for instance, insisted in one discussion that no year would go by without some children being born to plural marriages and that the Manifesto of 1890 was not a revelation from God.28

Some of the most politically minded, including Reed Smoot, Francis M. Lyman, and Joseph F. Smith, feared adverse public opinion and pressed vigorously to stop the new marriages. In 1906 the Twelve dropped Matthias F. Cowley and John W. Taylor from their ranks for openly advocating continued plural marriage and Marriner W. Merrill, another advocate, died. George F. Richards, Orson F. Whitney, and David O. McKay, none of whom was a polygamist or attached to the principle of plural marriage, replaced them.29

Even then not until 1911 could the First Presidency and Twelve reach a consensus sufficient to try Taylor and Cowley for their membership in spite of the two apostles’ continued effort to influ-[p. 257]ence others to enter new plural marriages. It was privately whispered that Smoot and Lyman were out of harmony for pressing so hard to end new plural marriages while public pronouncements stressed that church leadership had resolved the question and that offenders would be tried. As in the case of Prohibition, contradictory public and private signals left many members unable to perceive a consensus within the highest quorums of the church.

The hardening resolution, however, became apparent in 1909, two years before the Cowley and Taylor trials, when a special committee of apostles was formed under Francis M. Lyman to prosecute new polygamists despite resistance to the prosecutions both from the membership and from local leaders.30

In an apparent attempt to reeducate the general membership and public, the leaders reinterpreted “celestial marriage” and “new and everlasting covenant”—previously understood to mean plural marriage. In various places, including testimony before the senate committee investigating Reed Smoot, James E. Talmage emphasized that the terms actually referred to sealing for time and eternity in the temple. Results of the trials were publicized through church periodicals. Gradually members became convinced of the new consensus, and those who refused to change were disciplined or forced underground.31

In this case the sources of strain on harmony were extremely complex. Like the cases of political involvement and the Word of Wisdom, continued plural marriages created outside political pressure, but of a different sort, since there was no incentive outside the church to maintain the plural marriage system. Internally, however, the stress was enormous since a high percentage of general and local church leaders either were or had been polygamists. In addition, opposition from within the Twelve stemmed from members like Abraham O. Woodruff, George Teasdale, Marriner W. Merrill, and Matthias F. Cowley, normally the most loyal of members. It was only as they died or were expelled that a new consensus formed. By the time the Lyman committee was appointed in 1909, only seven of the fifteen members of the First Presidency and Twelve had been in the leadership when Reed Smoot was elected to the senate in 1903.

Conflicting interests also appeared in the League of Nations controversy following World War I. Here a majority of the Twelve and all of the First Presidency publicly supported the league and [p. 258] adopted a resolution that council members would not oppose the league. Because of his opposition to the league covenant as drafted, Reed Smoot ran into considerable difficulty, though his support of Henry Cabot Lodge’s reservations rather than William Borah and the irreconcilables left him a loophole.32

However, Smoot opposed the league and attacked those who supported it by working through James Casey, editor of the Herald-Republican, a Mormon church-sponsored Republican Party newspaper. Its attacks on B. H. Roberts, Richard W. Young, president of the Ensign Stake and close friend of President Heber J. Grant, and Anthony W. Ivins, a member of the Twelve and Grant’s cousin, angered members of the Twelve and led eventually to the newspaper’s sale.33

As in the case of new plural marriages, leaks from the council meetings left the public impression that the council had changed its position to support Smoot. This led in turn to a confrontation between Smoot and several other council members. He promised to make the matter clear in a public speech but feared losing the 1920 senatorial election, a fear which Heber J. Grant, a Democrat, shared. Recognizing the important role a member of the Twelve could play in Congress, Grant allowed Smoot to turn his denial into an equivocal statement. The dispute was never resolved but died with potential United States membership in the League in 1921. Its principal results were contributing to the demise of the Herald-Republican, strengthening the position of Democratic apostles such as Anthony W. Ivins,34 and polarizing millennarian sentiment within the church. Some members believed like Smoot that neither the League nor any other earthly power could prevent war and pestilence on earth until Jesus Christ’s second advent. Others such as George F. Richards saw the League as an agency for promoting world peace which would allow the gospel to spread in preparation for the Second Coming.35

A fourth major breach in harmony came from the conflict between a literal interpretation of the Bible on the one hand and the theory of evolution through natural selection and higher criticism of biblical texts on the other.

Since the late nineteenth century, speeches and articles in the Improvement Era and other church magazines generally allowed rather wide latitude, all the way from Joseph Fielding Smith’s biblical literalism to John A. Widtsoe’s belief that evolution may take place [p. 259] within “orders.” On the authenticity of the Bible, the Improvement Era had published the views of University of Utah professor Frederick J. Pack and others indicating that the earth was millions of years old and that events like Noah’s flood could not possibly have taken place literally since there was not enough water, time, or heat to accomplish the indicated flooding and evaporation. In 1921 Anthony W. Ivins and Charles W. Penrose of the First Presidency observed that some biblical stories like Jonah and Job might not be literally true.36

The crisis, however, centered on the question of humankind’s age on the earth. Joseph Fielding Smith rejected any scientific evidence which did not agree with his “Adam was the first man” interpretation of the scriptures. B. H. Roberts’s unpublished manuscript “The Truth, The Way, The Life,” dealt with biblical literalism and organic evolution by including pre-Adamic humans. After a long discussion the Twelve refused to approve either Roberts’s or Smith’s views. Smith disobeyed, however, preaching and publishing on the topic. This publication and the ensuing controversy which surrounded it disturbed President Grant, not because he agreed with one position but because he feared disharmony. James E. Talmage attempted to smooth over the disharmony in a speech denying organic evolution while allowing a scientific view of the earth’s age.37

The Political Manifesto, the Word of Wisdom, new plural marriages, and the League of Nations had each been tied to a political or social concern. In the case of evolution and the Bible, the problem was doctrinal: what was the nature of creation, the development of beings, the nature of biblical texts, and the relationship of humanity to God? Though evolution and related questions required a reexamination of basic doctrinal positions, they were perhaps least disruptive, partly because they did not involve practical concerns and partly because the church had a long tradition of discussion on the nature of humankind and creation. Brigham Young, for instance, had speculated that Adam had been brought to the earth rather than having been created or born here.

From these five issues during a period of rapid change and adjustment, the historian can make some generalizations about stress within the Mormon ecclesiastical polity. In each case the First Presidency and Twelve related basic problems to the need for maintaining harmony in the face of disruptive internal and external influences. [p. 260] In virtually every case, if they could not achieve actual consensus, they thought it important to maintain the appearance of harmony in order to maintain morale and promote brotherhood. The common contemporary tactic of lay members opposing one another by citing a favorite general authority or scripture to support their position can be extremely disruptive. Such controversy is even more divisive in a collegial situation.

Thus disruptions of collegial harmony could in extreme cases lead to discipline and severance from the quorum, as with Moses Thatcher and Matthias F. Cowley, or excommunication, as with John W. Taylor. In other instances official displeasure rested upon Reed Smoot, Joseph Fielding Smith, and B. H. Roberts. Issues of basic doctrines, as with new plural marriages, or of doctrine combined with public policy, as with the Word of Wisdom, caused the most difficulty over the longest period of time.

Since church leadership had already shifted from charismatic to traditional authority, the stress resulting from these challenges reveals much about how a traditional organization maintains consensus while simultaneously legitimizing change. In some cases leaked reports of quorum debates allowed church members the comfort of recognizing that they were not alone—either in clinging to tradition or in favoring change. Dissension could be allowed over conflicting goals, as in the apparent either-or choice between supporting the League of Nations and reelecting Reed Smoot, or in the conflict between supporting Prohibition and keeping the Republican Party unified. On some issues dissent could not be tolerated. Moses Thatcher, Matthias F. Cowley, and John W. Taylor were unwilling to maintain harmony at the cost of personal convictions and found ultimately that their collegium could not allow this deviance.

The main tasks of charismatic leadership are rallying converts and true believers; traditional leadership must concern itself with both internal harmony and outside pressures. Between 1890 and 1930 the church accepted for the first time the necessity of finding a way for God’s kingdom to coexist with Caesar’s. At least four of the five issues discussed were directly related to external pressures imposed by the need for accommodation. The Political Manifesto required division into political parties because of outside pressure. Prohibition was in part the result of pressure from evangelical Protestant denominations who thought that professed Mormon be-[p. 261]liefs in abstinence should require Mormon opposition to all alcoholic use in the community. Various groups with Victorian moral standards feared and hated plural marriage. The League of Nations controversy pressured the church leadership to take an interest in national politics. Only in the evolution controversy was there little compelling outside pressure, and perhaps for that reason it was the easiest to resolve or ignore.

In retrospect the church leadership’s efforts to maintain legitimacy during a rapid transition from being a religious monopoly to being a competing religious movement strained its internal structure. As long as the Latter-day Saints monopolized secular and religious interests in Utah territory, they could “utilize the entire society” as their “plausibility structure” in world maintenance. After the monopoly was broken, they used “social engineering” to maintain the structure, and an important feature of that engineering was the principle of “harmony.”38

The disruption of collegial harmony is probably not out of proportion to the stress. If the removal of three members from the quorum is used as a measure of stress, the only period which exceeds this one came in the wake of the Missouri persecutions when seven were dropped, though two of them returned to the quorum. Even after the murder of Joseph Smith, the succession crisis, and the exodus from Illinois, only three were dropped from the Twelve, indicating that perhaps the stress associated with the problems in Illinois were not greater than those associated with accommodating the norms of Victorian America.



1. Max Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, trans. and eds. H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946), 196-252; Peter M. Blau, On the Nature of Organizations (New York: Wiley, 1974), 42-43; on the history of the LDS church, see James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976); and Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978).

2. Weber, From Max Weber, 197; Anthon H. Lund Journal, 5, 6, 21, and 24 Nov. 1901 and 6 Mar. 1902, archives, historical department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, hereafter LDS archives; Marriner W. Merrill Journal, 27 Feb. 1902, LDS archives; Journal History, 26 [P. 262] Nov. 1923, LDS archives; Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958), 409. All documents from LDS archives are used by permission.

3. Weber, From Max Weber, 214. Fifty East North Temple, the Church Office Building, houses mostly middle- and lower-echelon officers, while the Church Administration Building at 47 East South Temple is the office building in which the First Presidency and Twelve are located.

4. Weber, From Max Weber, 107, 214. On business interests, salaries, and other connections among the church’s hierarchy, see D. Michael Quinn, “The Mormon Hierarchy, 1832-1932: An American Elite,” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1976, 127-30; John A. Widtsoe, In A Sunlit Land: The Autobiography of John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1952), 161; George F. Richards Journal, 30 Jan. 1925, LDS archives; Heber J. Grant Diary, 12 June 1928, LDS archives.

5. Frank J. Cannon and Harvey J. O’Higgins, Under the Prophet in Utah: The National Menace of a Political Priestcraft (Boston: C. M. Clark Publishing Co., 1911); Samuel W. Taylor, Rocky Mountain Empire: The Latter-day Saints Today (New York: MacMillan, 1978); Jan Shipps, “Writing about Modern Mormonism,” Sunstone 4 (Mar.-Apr. 1979): 43-48; James E. Talmage Journal, 10 Nov. 1901, Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. On 23 November 1918 as the Council of the Twelve considered the reorganization of the First Presidency upon the death of Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund wrote in his diary: “As a people we have learned the meaning of Section 107 in Doctrine and Covenants which tells us that the Twelve form a quorum equal in authority with the First Presidency, and they have also learned that Seniority in quorums means authority. (This may be called an unwritten law of the church, but we have seen how it tends to harmony.)”

6. See D. Michael Quinn, “Joseph Smith III’s 1844 Blessing and the Mormons of Utah,” Journal of the John Whitmer Historical Association 1 (1981): 12-27, and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (Summer 1982); Gary James Bergera, “The Orson Pratt-Brigham Young Controversies; Conflict Within the Quorums, 1853-1868,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 13 (Summer 1980): 7-49; and Reed C. Durham, Jr., and Steve H. Heath, Succession in the Church (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970).

7. Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1963), 23.

8. See Brian Tierney, Foundations of the Conciliar Theory: The Contribution of the Medieval Canonists from Gratian to the Great Schism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955), 2-23.

9. James E. Talmage Journal, 8 Dec. 1911. For similar comments, [p. 263] see Grant Diary, 5 Apr. 1900; John Henry Smith Journal, 4 Oct. 1903, Western Americana, University of Utah; and George Albert Smith Journal, 6 Oct. 1903, University of Utah.

10. William G. Hartley, “The Priesthood Reform Movement, 1903-1922,” Brigham Young University Studies 13 (Winter 1973): 137-56; George F. Richards, Journal, 15 Nov., 10, 27, 28 Dec. 1921, 3 June, 7, 13 July, 31 Aug. 1922, 9 Dec. 1926 and 25 Jan. 1927.

11. U. S. Senate, 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 the State of Utah to Hold His Seat, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C., 1904-1906), 3:4 (hereafter cited as Proceedings); Lund Journal, 5 Jan. 1899; Talmage Journal, 27 Dec. 1898; see also Thomas G. Alexander, “The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine: From Joseph Smith to Progressive Theology,” Sunstone 5 (July-Aug. 1980): 28.

12. Talmage Journal, 5 Jan. 1899; D&C (1883 ed.), 54-55.

13. Talmage Journal, 9, 16 Jan. 1899; Lund Journal, 13 Jan. 1899.

14. In a sense the LDS church was confronting a challenge to legitimacy not unlike the model with which Peter L. Berger deals in The Sacred Canopy: Elements of A Sociological Theory of Religion (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967). This was a period in which the LDS leadership faced an almost classical problem of “world maintenance.” As Berger pointed out, “when a challenge appears…[the old verities] can no longer be taken for granted. The validity of the social order must then be explicated both for the sake of the challengers and of those meeting the challenge. The children must be convinced, but so must their teachers” (31); see also Robert H. Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877-1920 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967), 44-75.

15. Gustive O. Larson, The Americanization of Utah for Statehood (San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1971), 284-90; Kenneth W. Godfrey, “Was There More to the Moses Thatcher Case than Politics?” paper presented to a joint Mormon History Association/Utah Endowment for the Humanities session, 1, 3 Nov. 1979, 21-22. For a thorough treatment, see Edward Leo Lyman, “The Mormon Quest for Utah Statehood,” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Riverside, 1981.

16. Godfrey, “Moses Thatcher,” 8, 9, 11, 12, 16, 17, 19, 20, 26, 29, 31.

17. Ibid, 25-26. Larson, Americanization of Utah, 296-97.

18. B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 6:330-31; Marriner W. Merrill, Utah Pioneer and Apostle: Marriner Wood Merrill and His Family, ed. Melvin Clarence Merrill (n.p., 1937), 192.

19. Roberts, Comprehensive History, 6:330-31.

20. Merrill, Utah Pioneer and Apostle, 198-99, 205, 207, 209; Proceed-[p. 264]ings, 1:170, 563; Milton R. Merrill, “Reed Smoot, Apostle in Politics,” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1950, 4; Roberts, Comprehensive History, 6:335-36.

21. A recent example of this same phenomenon was the controversy over the volume by Allen and Leonard cited above. Although initially released in an unusually large edition that sold out rapidly, it was not republished for nearly fifteen years. Reportedly a senior general authority disliked the book. Allen and Leonard were told by other members of the Twelve, however, that they liked the volume and considered it an important contribution to Mormon history.

22. For a general discussion of the development of the Word of Wisdom, see Paul H. Peterson, “An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972; Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool: F. D. & S. W. Richards, 1855-85), 12:27-32; Grant Diary, 5 May, 30 June 1898; Lund Journal, 31 Aug., 2 Sept., 9 Jan. 1900, 26 June 1902; Emmeline B. Wells Journal, 8 Sept. 1900, Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library; John Henry Smith Journal, 5 July 1906; First Presidency to C. R. Hakes, 1 Aug. 1902, to John W. Hess, 31 Oct. 1902; and to H. S. Allen, 1 Nov. 1902, First Presidency, letters sent, LDS archives; George Albert Smith Journal, 5 Aug., 2 Sept. 1905, 27 May, 2 June, 16 June 1906.

23. For a general discussion of these interests, see Bruce T. Dyer, “A Study of the Forces Leading to the Adoption of Prohibition in Utah in 1917,” M.S. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1958; Grant Diary, 15 Mar., 12, 16 Nov. 1908; Lund Journal, 2 Oct. 1908; Journal History, 4, 6 Oct. 1908. For a discussion of the national prohibition movement, see Joseph Gusfield, Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1963). Gusfield’s thesis that the middle class tried to regain its status by imposing Prohibition on the lower classes seems not to apply to Utah since the main support for Prohibition came from a group already holding high status and opposition came from a similar group in the Republican party. The only exception might be found in the Prohibition Republicans. See also James H. Timberlake, Prohibition and the Progressive Movement, 1900-1920 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963), who sees the Prohibition crusade as part of the movement for progressive reform; and Norman H. Clark, Deliver Us From Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition (New York: Norton, 1976), both of whom see Prohibition as part of the American reform movement.

24. Lund Journal, 23, 26, 27 Jan., 3 Feb., 15, 17 Mar., 17 Nov. 1909; John Henry Smith Journal, 26 Jan. 1909, 4 Oct. 1911; Dyer, “Prohibition in Utah,” 29-31, 43-44, 55; Grant Diary, 23 Mar. 1909; Reed Smoot Diary, 9 Oct., 11, 17 Nov. 1909, 4 Oct. 1911, Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library; Reuben Joseph Snow, “The American Party in Utah: A Study of Political Party Struggle During the Early Years of Statehood,” M.A. thesis, [p. 265] University of Utah, 1964.

25. Joseph F. Smith, “Editor’s Table: Temperance and Prohibition,” Improvement Era 12 (Aug. 1909): 830-33; Lund Journal, 5 Mar. 1915; Jan Shipps, “Utah Comes of Age Politically: A Study of the State’s Politics in the Early Years of the Twentieth Century,” Utah Historical Quarterly 35 (Spring 1967): 109-11.

26. Lund Journal, 2 Oct. 1908, 15, 17 Mar. 1909; Journal History, 14 Oct. 1908, 20 Mar. 1909; Grant Diary, 12, 16 Nov. 1908, 23 Mar., 6 Apr. 1909; Joseph F. Smith to Reed Smoot, 15 Feb. 1909 in Joseph F. Smith Letterbooks, LDS archives; Dyer, “Prohibition in Utah,” 43-44.

27. Lund Journal, 2 Oct. 1900, 28 Sept. 1906; John Henry Smith Journal, 9, 10 Jan. 1900; Proceedings, 1:110-11, 389-90, 406, 422, 487-88, 2:68, 141-43, 295-96; Joseph F. Smith to Reed Smoot, 9 Apr. 1904, Joseph F. Smith Letterbooks; Cannon and O’Higgins, Under the Prophet, 177; Grant Diary, 9 Oct. 1898; George Q. Cannon to Anthony W. Ivins, 27 Dec. 1897, Ivins Family Papers, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City; Anthony W. Ivins, excerpts from the A. W. Ivins Recordbook of Marriages, Utah State Historical Society; B. Carmon Hardy and Victor W. Jorgensen, “The Taylor-Cowley Affair and the Watershed of Mormon History,” Utah Historical Quarterly 48 (Winter 1980): 4-36.

28. Matthias F. Cowley, Cowley’s Talks on Doctrine (Chattanooga, TN: Ben E. Rich, 1902), 180-82; Joseph Eckersley Journal, 26 Dec. 1904, LDS archives; Lund Journal, 9 Jan. 1900, 18 Nov. 1903; Journal History, 19 Nov. 1903; John Henry Smith Journal, 9, 10 Jan. 1900, 19 Nov. 1903; Joseph F. Smith to Samuel L. Adams, 24 Dec. 1903, Joseph F. Smith Letterbooks; Talmage Journal, 14 Oct. 1904; Merrill, Utah Pioneer and Apostle, 147; Proceedings, 1:408-10.

29. Lund Journal, 5 Apr. 1906; First Presidency to Heber J. Grant, 12 Apr. 1906, First Presidency, letters sent.

30. George F. Richards Journal, 14 July 1909 and passim. Richards’s journal provides excellent documentation for the various trials.

31. James E. Talmage, “The Story of Mormonism,” Improvement Era 4 (Oct. 1901): 909; Smoot Hearings, 3:42-45.

32. James B. Allen, “Personal Faith and Public Policy: Some Timely Observations on the League of Nations Controversy in Utah,” Brigham Young University Studies 14 (Autumn 1973): 77-98; Smoot Diary, 22 Sept., 12 Oct. 1919, 29, 30 July, 5 Aug. 1920; Lund Journal, 5 Aug. 1920.

33. Lund Journal, 30 Jan., 3 Feb. 1919; Grant Diary, 30 Jan., 31 July 1919, 17 July 1920; Smoot Diary, 20 Aug., 12 Oct. 1919.

34. James H. Moyle to Heber J. Grant, 29 Apr. 1920; Grant to Moyle, 13 May 1920, cited in James Henry Moyle, Mormon Democrat: The Religious and Political Memoirs of James Henry Moyle, ed. Gene A. Sessions (Salt Lake [p. 266] City: Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1975), 258-65; Grant Diary, 23 Oct. 1920; Smoot Diary, 23, 24 Oct. 1920; Lund Journal, 21 Oct. 1920.

35. Lund Journal, 28 July 1920; George F. Richards Journal, 3 Oct., 4 Nov. 1919. On the nature of Mormon millennialism, see Grant Underwood, “Seminal Versus Sequicentennial Saints: A Look at Millennialism,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 14 (Spring 1981): 32-44.

36. John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith as Scientist: A Contribution to Mormon Philosophy (Salt Lake City: General Board, Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Associations, 1908), 109-13; Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954); Charles W. Penrose and Anthony W. Ivins to Joseph W. McMurrin, 31 Oct. 1921, First Presidency, letters sent; Frederic W. Pack, Science and Belief in God (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1924).

37. Grant Diary, 8 Apr. 1927, 22 May 1930; 16, 25 Jan. 1931; Truman G. Madsen, “The Meaning of Christ–The Truth, The Way, The Life: An Analysis of B. H. Roberts’s Unpublished Masterwork,” Brigham Young University Studies 15 (Spring 1975): 260 and passim; Duane E. Jeffrey, “Seers, Savants, and Evolution: The Uncomfortable Interface,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 8 (Autumn-Winter 1973): 63-65. On 25 January 1931, Heber J. Grant wrote in his diary, “After reading the articles by Brother [B. H.] Roberts and [Joseph Fielding] Smith, I feel that sermons such as Brother Joseph preached and criticisms such as Brother Roberts makes of the sermon are the finest kind of things to be let alone entirely, I think no good can be accomplished by dealing in mysteries, and that is what I feel in my heart of hearts these brethren are both doing.” See also James E. Talmage, “The Earth and Man” (1931); reprt., Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 1976). On Brigham Young University’s vault copy of the published version of this speech is a notation “False doctrine” in Joseph Fielding Smith’s hand.

38. See Berger, Sacred Canopy, 49-50.