History of the Word of Wisdom, Mar 31, 1896

-- Mar 31, 1896
[Apostle Heber J. Grant Diary] [Pre-conference quorum meeting in temple.] John Henry Smith, at the meeting this afternoon, expressed pleasure in listening to what had been said by the brethren this morning. Stated that he felt very delicate indeed about expressing an opinion regarding Bro[ther] Moses or Bro[ther] Roberts, because of his having taken such an active part himself in politics, and also because of his having been associated the political party opposed to these brethren. Felt that because of Bro[ther] Moses’ weak condition physically, and the fact that he has taken more or less morphine to alleviate his pain, that if a committee were appointed to call upon Bro[ther] Thatcher that they should be sure to do so in the morning. ... (1)

-- May 4, 1896
Apostle John Henry Smith writes in his journal: "I had a talk with Dr. W. B. Parkinson. He told me Bro. Moses Thatcher [recently dropped from the Quorum of the Twelve] is a Morphine fiend and he explained to me the terrible effects of the Drug. He also placed in my hands a letter purporting to be written by an opium eater, a Doctor in Oregon, but my spirit says it was written by Moses Thatcher." (2)

-- May 28, 1896
[Apostle Heber J. Grant Diary] [Council meeting] Pres[iden]t Jos[eph] F. Smith gave us an account of his recent visit to Logan, where he attended the conference of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association. He stated that Bro[ther] Moses Thatcher was in Logan, but did not attend the meeting. Stated that an officers' meeting was held at which the question as to whether or not the name of Bro[ther] Moses Thatcher should be sustained at the Conference as one of the counselors to General Superintendent Woodruff was very extensively discussed. Some of the brethren feeling that the name should be presented and others that it should not be. It was finally decided not to present Bro[ther] Thatcher's name to the conference.... . Bro[ther] John Henry Smith, while regretting deeply the position occupied by Bro[ther] Thatcher, was nevertheless willing to join his brethren in taking action against Bro[ther] Moses. He, however, felt that Moses, on account of being addicted to the use
of morphine, was hardly a responsible man. Bro[ther] Grant and others called Bro[ther] Smith's attention to the fact that Bro[ther] Thatcher's position since he commenced using morphine was in perfect harmony with that which he occupied a number of years prior to becoming addicted to this habit. It was finally decided that a meeting should be held with Bro[ther] Thatcher by the Apostles, and that the First Presidency should not attend said meeting. (1)

-- Jul 8, 1896
[Apostle Heber J. Grant Diary] At 10 am attended a meeting of the Apostles in the Temple. Pres[iden]t Lorenzo Snow offered the opening prayer, and he very earnestly supplicated the Lord in behalf of Apostle Moses Thatcher. John Henry Smith said that he did not look on him the same as a man who had become addicted to the use of liquor to the extent that he was not responsible for his actions. Bro[ther] Moses had been addicted to the use of morphine. ... (1)

-- Jul 9, 1896
[Apostle Heber J. Grant Diary] Joseph F. Smith felt that some action ought to be taken at once in the case of Bro[ther] Moses Thatcher, as he was confident that great damage was being done by allowing the matter to run along without any decided action, as some of the people were beginning to think that the Apostles were undecided regarding Bro[ther] Moses' case and dare not take action against him. [George Thatcher is also in some kind of trouble.] John W. Taylor felt that some action should be taken as once in Bro[ther] Moses' case He said that in making molasses it was necessary occasionally for the pot to boil over to allow the scum to pass off, and he felt that in Bro[ther] Thatcher's case, if action were take quite a number professing to be Latter Day Saints, but who kept none of the commandments of the Lord, would withdraw from the Church, and in his opinion this would be very beneficial. Francis M. Lyman expressed himself that we should take some action in the case of
Bro[ther] Thatcher at an early date, seeing that he was considerably improved in health. Wilford Woodruff stated that in his opinion it was the duty of the quorum of the Apostles to take prompt action in the case of Bro[ther] Thatcher. Geo[rge] Q. Cannon expressed similar views to those of the other brethren. Referred to the visit of Counselor William Howard of the Emery Stake bo the First Presidency, and the fact of Bro[ther] Howard's previously conversing with the brethren and felt that Bro[ther] Moses Thatcher had been dealt harshly with, and was inclined to sympathize with him if not almost to sustain him in his position. Diary Excerpts of Heber J. Grant, 1887-1899, Internally Dated MW Merrill expressed deep regret that there was any necessity for action in the case of Bro[ther] Thatcher, but thought something should be done as some of the people were saying that the Apostles had made a mistake in Bro[ther] Thatcher's case and dare not deal with him. (Grant) I expressed
myself as agreeing with my brethren who had previously spoken, and said that since I became an Apostle that Bro[ther] Thatcher, in my opinion, had very seriously neglected his duties as an Apostle, and that it was seldom that he ever attended a stake quarterly conference with the exception of Cache stake and the stakes in the vicinity of his home. Joseph F. Smith again expressed himself as feeling that we were injuring those who were weak in the faith, by not taking action in Bro[ther] Thatcher's case. Referred to the fact that Bro[ther] Ja[me]s H. Moyle voted against the address at a recent meeting in the 12th ward, and that since that time he had had an interview with the First Presidency, and had assured them that there were very many young men in the community, who felt just as he did, and if they voted their honest sentiments they would be found in opposition to the address, but they lacked the moral courage to take a stand in opposition to the address. Bro[ther] Moyle
had assured the brethren that there were a great many who felt that the Apostles were wrong and the Bro[ther] Thatcher was right, and that they were expecting Bro[ther] Moses to be vindicated. Pres[iden]t Smith felt that the Church must be looked after, and while he had not the least hardness in his hearth against Bro[ther] Moses, at the same time he felt that we were not justified in pursuing a halting course in his case. Wilford Woodruff expressed the opinion that the longer we left this case without some action, that the worse condition it would be in. The Presidency then withdrew from our meeting, and we appointed Bro[ther]s Richards and Young a committee to call upon Bro[ther] Moses, and learn the state of his feelings, and report at a meeting of our quorum at seven this evening. At our meeting tonight, Bro[ther]s Richards and Young reported that they had visited Bro[ther] Moses, and found that there was no change whatever in his feelings, but on the contrary, he was mo
re confirmed than ever in his position of opposition, to the address issued at the last conference. Pres[iden]t Lorenzo Snow, after hearing the report of Bro[ther]s Richards and Young, said that he would like each of the brethren to express themselves regarding Bro[ther] Moses’ case. Referred to the fact that Bro[ther] Moses Thatcher had been ordained to the Apostleship, and that this was the nearest place to God that man can reach in this life. And that men who receive this high office were under obligations to so live as to be entitled to the inspiration of the Good Spirit at all times. Bro[ther] Moses was not in perfect harmony with the Presidency of the Church, the Apostles, the first seven presidents of the seventies, and the presiding bishopric. He was satisfied that action in this case would be the best possible thing for Bro[ther] Moses himself. He asked Bro[ther] John W. Taylor to be the first speaker. John W. Taylor said Moses is the leader of all the dissenters
in the church, and gives sympathy and encouragement to those who are in opposition to the Priesthood of God, and I can not fellowship him. I think one thing can bring Moses to his senses it will be for us to take action in his case. Moses is one of the worst enemies that the church has, as he is poisoning men's minds. I am in favor of withdrawing fellowship from him. He is today associating with men and in harmony with them in many things, who would gladly destroy the Church of God. Was on hand to vote upon the question whenever it should be called. George Teasdale said that he thought the best things we can do is to withdraw fellowship from Bro[ther] Moses, as he is not in harmony with this quorum, or the First Presidency of the Church. He remembered that it was with difficulty that Bro[ther] Thatcher was admitted to the Temple at Salt Lake at the time of its dedication. Bro[ther] Moses at that time had surrendered to his brethren simply because they demanded it, and not be
cause he had been convinced in his heart that they were right and he was wrong. The only reason that he had been willing to wait and not take action before in Bro[ther] Moses' case was on account of his poor health. If Moses was able to visit the lake as he had been doing for some time past, and intended to do again today, his health certainly was not so poor but what he could have met with us today. John Henry Smith Have felt Moses was not responsible for his actions because of his excessive use of morphine. He was practically a drunken man (Bro[ther] John W. Taylor asked the question "How long would you feel to fellowship a drunkard, Br Smith?" to which question Bro[ther] Smith did not give a very decided answer). He felt that this case was a very serious one indeed, and had dreaded it more than anything else in his life. Moses was a broken down man, and he had been impressed with the idea that his influence for harm among the saints was very limited indeed. Said that he s
hould be one with his brethren in whatever action they should decide to take in this case. Because of family relations and disposition politically he could not help regretting that more time was not to be granted in this case and felt in his heart of hearts that he would like, considering the condition of Bro[ther] Moses' health to give him more time. Pres[iden]t Lorenzo Snow said that he and all the rest of the quorum regretted that we had to bring this case to a crisis, and we would all gladly vote for more time, did we not think that it would be injurious to the work of the Lord to do so. Heber J. Grant felt that action should be taken. Said Moses had accused Pres[iden]t Geo[rge] Q. Cannon at the time of the death of Pres[iden]t John Taylor, of trying to steal the presidency of the Church, and from that day to this had never repented of his accusation (which Heber had) against Bro[ther] Cannon, and had gradually gone on from then till now, neglecting his duties as an Apos
tle, until today he was not in harmony with either the Presidency or any of the leading officials of the church, and it was time that action was taken, no matter how painful the task. Moses health had improved enough of late so that he was able to go to Saltair, and take a bath
and in as much as he did this at times when he knew that the Apostles were meeting in the Temple, and as he had been specially reminded of our meeting, it seemed to him that the excuse that he was unable to meet with us was hardly justifiable. MW Merrill felt that the expressions of the Presidency to day at our sacrament meeting was the inspiration of the Lord. Moses thinks we are all his enemies, except Pres[iden]t Snow. Felt very deeply grieved over the course of Bro[ther] Moses. Felt that whatever action we might take through the direction of the Pres[iden]t of our quorum will be for the best good of the Church. Referred to the fact that many years ago while Pres[iden]t Brigham Young was at his home (called attention to dead limb ought not to all how it to remain as whole tree would be injured thereby) and he felt that the case of Bro[ther] Thatcher was somewhat analogous to the dead limb. Believed it ds dangerous to delay action in cases of this kind. He referred to the
fact that there are many people who think that the Presidency and this quorum dare not handle Bro[ther] Moses, and he was convinced that it was time that we should do something. Francis M. Lyman stated that he felt that the question before us was a very grave one indeed, but his feelings were in harmony with those expressed by his brethren. Referred to the fact that between our meetings today he had visited Apostle Abraham H. Cannon, and had explained to him that we were going to consider Bro[ther] Moses' case, and that Bro[ther] Cannon had sent a message by him that he wished it understood that he was one with the members of his quorum in whatever action they might decide to take. Bro[ther] Lyman referred to the neglect of duty on the party of Bro[ther] Moses in visiting the different quarterly conferences and wondered what condition the church would be in today if we all had all been as careless as Bro[ther] Moses in visiting the quarterly conferences of the stakes of Zion
. He felt that Moses Thatcher was in a condition of apostacy, and that we should make a change against him of apostacy and give him two weeks notice to appear and answer to his charge. Brigham Young expressed regrets that Bro[ther] Moses Thatcher looked so bad physically and also regretted that he felt so rebellious in his spirit. Said his sympathy said to him, give Moses time, but his judgment told him that the proper medicine for Bro[ther] Moses was to inform him just exactly where he stood as he had no idea that the Apostles were even thinking of such a thing as permanently withdrawing fellowship from him. Felt the sooner that we give Moses to understand that he must harmonize himself with his brethren or lose his Apostleship the better it would be for him. Said he could not fellowship Bro[ther] Moses, and yet his heart bled for him. Franklin D. Richards, felt that by making a charge of apostacy against Bro[ther] Thatcher that we could very much better defend ourselves be
fore the people than by taking some action without preferring a regular charge against him. As if we were to do this all Isreal would feel that we were lacking in sympathy. He felt the same as his brethren that it was a very painful thing indeed to take action against Bro[ther] Moses, and yet he thought it ought to be done. Lorenzo Snow said he liked the suggestion of Bro[ther] Lyman with reference to making a formal charge of apostacy. He did not think that delay would do Bro[ther] Moses one particle of good at the same time he thought that it was the wisest thing to do so as not to affect those who were weak in the faith. Felt that Moses actions had been such that unless he repented that we should withdraw fellowship and take his Apostleship from him. He felt that Moses’ actions had been such that a charge of apostacy could be sustained. President Woodruff is a very merciful man and under his administration, we might say that today is a day of mercy. In the days of the p
rophet Joseph Smith, Bro[ther] Moses would have been dealt with promptly, and unless he put himself in perfect harmony with his quorum his fellowship would have been taken from him. . . . (1)

1 - Diary Excerpts of Heber J. Grant, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies
2 - On This Day in Mormon History, http://onthisdayinmormonhistory.blogspot.com

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