-- Nov 19, 1896
[Apostle Franklin D. Richards Diary] At 10 am the following named Apostles met in upper room of Historian's Office building; viz Lorenzo Snow, FS Richards, B. Young, FM Lyman, JH Smith, G. Teasdale, HJ Grant, JW Taylor, MW Merrill & AH Lund and considered the case of Moses Thatcher--after which it was decided, that he be severed from the Council of the 12 Apostles & that he be deprived of his Apostleship & other offices in the Priesthood & that the same be published in the DE News. Every member participated. A sad & sorrowful day's labor for us. (1)
-- Nov 19, 1896; Thursday
At 10 o'clock this morning the special meeting appointed to consider and take action upon the case of Brother Moses Thatcher convened at the Historian's office. There were present the following Apostles: Lorenzo Snow, F[ranklin]. D. Richards, Brigham Young [Jr.], Francis M. Lyman, John Henry Smith, Geo[rge]. Teasdale, Heber J. Grant, John W. Taylor, Mar[r]iner W[ood]. Merrill and Anthon H. Lund; also Geo[rge]. F. Gibbs, reporter.
It was nearly half past ten before President Snow called the meeting to order. A few minutes before that hour a son of Bro[ther]. Thatcher came to the room bearing a letter to President Snow from his father. After President Snow had opened it and read its contents, he then expressed himself to the effect that evidently Brother Thatcher did not want to meet with his quorum, and by way of informing the brethren present of what had passed between himself and Brother Thatcher in the shape of written communications, he requested Elder Richards to read the following letters, which explain themselves:
No 101 West North Temple St., Salt Lake City, Utah,
November 17th, 1896.
Elder Lorenzo Snow, President of the Twelve Apostles.
Dear Brother: --
On the 11th inst. I wrote you a somewhat lengthy letter in which, after reviewing my case, I asked that the same publicity be given my defence as that given to the complaints and accusations made against me. My son George F. Thatcher delivered to you that communication about 10 o'clock A.M., the following day. At noon on the 13th inst. Brother Isaac Smith of the Cache [Utah] Stake Presidency handed me a letter from you, of which the following is a copy:
Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake City, Nov[ember]. 12, 1896.
Elder Moses Thatcher,
Dear Brother: --
This is to notify you that at a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles held today it was resolved that as you are not in fellowship with the Council, your case will be called up for consideration and action at a meeting to be held for that purpose at 10 A.M. on Thursday, 19th inst., at the Historian's Office, this city.
With kind regards,
As no reference is made to my communication of the 11th inst., in yours of the 12th, I am in doubt as to whether the letter was intended to be a reply to the former or not; but as no word has reached me I suppose I should so regard it, especially in view of the fact that the action of the Apostles respecting my case was evidently taken after the delivery to you of my letter of the 11th inst. You say: "Your case will be called up for consideration and action at a meeting to be held for that purpose at 10 A.M. on Thursday, the 19th inst". Am I warranted in concluding that you intended that declaration to be a denial of my request for a public hearing? And if so, am I to understand that "consideration" and "action" mean that my trial will commence on the date and at the time and place mentioned? If that is the intention, am I, as heretofore directed by you, to defend myself against or plead to the charges as published in the Deseret Evening News of October 17th? if so will the charges be presented one at a time, or considered as a whole? In either event will those making the charges be present to hear my witnesses? Will I be permitted to bring with me and introduce the testimony of those willing to testify in my behalf? Is the "Manifesto" regarding church discipline in political affairs and for the failure to sign it, which it was understood at the time I was suspended from exercising the functions of the Apostleship, to be introduced as any part of the charges against me? As I will have to call witnesses from various points, I shall greatly appreciate as early a reply as possible.
Your brother in the Gospel,
To the foregoing communication President Snow said he made the following reply:
Salt Lake City, Nov[ember]. 18th, 1896.
Elder Moses Thatcher,
Dear Brother: --
I am in receipt of your letter of the 17th inst. in which you advise me of the receipt by you of a communication signed by myself on behalf of the Quorum of the Twelve, and dated Nov[ember]. 12th. You ask whether my letter was intended to be a reply to the former communication which you sent to me, in which you had requested a public hearing of your case; and you further ask if you are warranted in concluding that that letter was a denial of your request for this public hearing? You also ask, if this be so, are you to understand that "consideration" and "action" mean that your trial will commence on the day and at the time and place mentioned; and further, if that is the intention are you to defend yourself against or plead to the charges as published in the Deseret Evening News of October 17th, and if so, will the charges be presented one at a time or considered as a whole; also in either event, will those making the charges be present to
hear your witnesses, and will you be permitted to bring with you and introduce the testimonies of those willing to testify in your behalf. You further ask whether the document regarding church discipline, which you failed to sign, will be introduced as pat of the charges against you.
In reply to these queries I have to say that the Quorum of the Apostles do not consider your request for a public hearing a proper one, and for this reason: It is not your standing in the Church that is at issue, but your fellowship with the brethren of your own quorum. This is the business to be settled between yourself and us, and when this is settled satisfactorily there will be no difficulty remaining concerning the document on church discipline. You have been informed on several occasions that the members of your quorum could not fellowship your spirit and conduct. Several of them have waited upon you and informed you that the Twelve felt you should make amends and take proper steps to restore yourself to their fellowship. This, therefore, is not a matter for the general public, nor for the presence of witnesses. You yourself are the principal party interested, and if you can take the necessary steps--which are altogether within your own power, there need not be the least difficulty about your having the fellowship of your fellow Apostles. This has always been the course taken in our church from the beginning to the present time. If the question of your fellowship with the church should be brought forward at any time, it will then be for the church to give you such a hearing as will enable its members to express themselves as to whether they will hold you in fellowship or not. With kind regards,
The following letter was then read which was a few minutes previous received from Brother Thatcher, by the hand of his son, George F.:
101 North West Temple St., Salt Lake City,
November 18th 1896.
Elder Lorenzo Snow, President of the Quorum of Twelve.
Dear Brother: --
Your esteemed favor of even date replying to my letter of yesterday was handed me this evening, and its contents have been carefully considered. As there is to be no trial of my case, and as I am not requested to be present, I take it to be the purpose, as heretofore notified, that the Quorum meet on the morrow for the purpose of considering my case and determining what I must do before I can again enjoy the fellowship of my brethren of the Twelve Apostles. Beyond the public action taken at the Annual Conference on the 7th of April last, which suspended me within a few hours after my failure to sign the document regarding Church discipline on political matters, and your citation to the remarks of the brethren as published in the Deseret News on Oct[ober]. 17th, about me, I know of nothing upon which to found requirements in my case, and since judgment in those matters has already
been passed, the necessity of presenting through witnesses or otherwise any defence in my behalf seems obviated. I can therefore only wait with great concern and deep anxiety your findings, specifying the conditions upon which I may regain the fellowship of my brethren and restoration to the official position heretofore held in the Church and the duties and obligations of which I have sought earnestly, honestly and prayerfully to discharge. The thought of the permanent loss of that exalted position and of your fellowship, and of the consequent humiliation and bitterness that may follow are very dreadful,--I shrink from their contemplation. It seems a sad ending, a fruitless reward for thirty years or more of earnest and devoted work, in a cause that has and still does inspire the best efforts of a life, subject, of course, to human weaknesses and human errors, but nevertheless devoted and true. I cannot, brethren, I utterly fail to feel that I deserve the fate that now seems hanging over me. Pardon, I did not intend to plead my case. Only let me remind you brethren, of how the Lord has required us to use the priesthood, persuasion, gentleness, brotherly kindness, patience, love. This in the interest of mercy. Try each of you to place or imagine yourself placed in my position. Remember if you can that there is none of you, no not one, for whose peace and happiness I would not give all I have and for the preservation of whose liberties and rights I would not, if necessary, sacrifice even my life. As proof, if you require proof, I refer to records of the past. But as you would be judged, judge me. Then submit that judgment, give me reasonable time to consider it, and if I can harmonize my conscience, convictions respecting justice, truth and honor with your findings and requirements, I shall do so gladly and with a heart full of grateful acknowledgments to Him whose servants we have all been glad to be. Praying the Lord to direct your minds in all things, and uphold and sustain you now and hereafter, I remain,
Your fellow laborer in the Gospel,
President Snow then remarked that the case was now before the Council, and it was for the Council to take such action as was proper and right. As for himself he had very little faith in Brother Thatcher's sincerity, as the spirit of technicality was plainly manifest through all his correspondence; but he had chosen not to meet with his quorum. Pres[iden]t. Snow said that he did not think anything would be gained by communicating any further with him, and all that was left for the quorum to do was to proceed and take action in the case. He closed by frankly admitting that he did not think the Lord was pleased with them as a quorum for the way in which they had temporized with Brother Thatcher, allowing him to go so long in his downward course without dealing with him. He added that he knew the feelings of the quorum towards Brother Thatcher, as he had been subject of conversation among themselves for such a length of time; but it was for each one now to express himself freely as to the action to be taken.
Each one of the brethren present then spoke briefly, all agreeing with President Snow that if they had erred at all in the consideration of Brother Thatcher's case, as doubtless they had, they erred on the side of leniency. They all expressed themselves prepared to vote, and endorsed what President Snow had said in his opening remarks.
After each one of the brethren present had spoken, President Snow said that he had little thought when the present First Presidency was organized that this quorum would be called upon to sever from it one of its members. We never imagined such a thing possible. Ever since the first meeting Pres[iden]t. Snow said he had felt moved upon to show his brethren the necessity of establishing a perfect union among themselves as a quorum, and the necessity also of being perfectly united with the First Presidency. At that time a perfect union did not exist among them. He had sometimes thought that his reference to this subject so often since then had become somewhat tedious to some of the members of the Council; but he said he had been impressed to speak upon it in the hope that at last he would succeed in effecting a thorough and perfect union in the quorum. The last conversation he had with Brother Moses Thatcher was on the train between Salt Lake and Brigham City [Utah], during which he reminded Brother Moses that this was the day and hour of his trial, and he asked him saying, "Bro[ther]. Moses why is it that you cannot see it, and why is it that you will not let your brethren help you to see it"?. He felt truly sorry; he loved Brother Thatcher, and it was because of the love he had for him he undertook to make one last effort to save him and to draw him to this council. He knew a man who had a great deal of love for Brother Thatcher, a man who had already done all he could to help him to see the position he was in, and he sent this brother to him to see if it was not possible to prevail upon him to come to this meeting, and to show him that the way was perfectly clear before him, and that nothing would be expected of him in order to regain the fellowship of his quorum more than any other member; but it was no use, everything had failed, and it remained for the quorum now to do its duty.
Some little time was then occupied informally by the brethren discussing the form of motion or resolution to be introduced expressing the mind of the Council, it being the unanimous feeling of the brethren that they could not do less than drop Brother Thatcher from the quorum and deprive him of his priesthood. Brother Grant the moved that this be the decision of the Council; it was seconded by two or three of the brethren and carried unanimously. It was then moved by Elder John Henry Smith, and seconded by Elder F[ranklin]. D. Richards, that President Snow be requested and authorized to prepare a card signed by himself as President of the Twelve Apostles, informing the officers and members of the Church through the Deseret News of the action taken in Brother Thatcher's case. Following is the card as published in the Deseret News this evening, after it had received the approbation of the First Presidency:
TO THE OFFICERS AND MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH.
This is to inform you that, at a meeting of the Council of Apostles held Thursday, November 19th, 1896, there being
present Lorenzo Snow, Franklin D. Richards, Brigham Young, Francis M. Lyman, John Henry Smith, George Teasdale, Heber J. Grant, John W. Taylor, Marriner W[ood]. Merrill, and Anthon H. Lund, which meeting was called for the purpose of considering and taking action on the case of Elder Moses Thatcher, and of which meeting and its object he had been duly notified, after a full consideration of all the circumstances of the case, and after each Apostle present had expressed himself upon the subject, it was unanimously decided that Moses Thatcher be severed from the Council of the Twelve Apostles, and that he be deprived of his Apostleship, and other offices in the Priesthood.
(Signed) Lorenzo Snow,
President, Council of Apostles.
Soon after the close of the Council the following letter was addressed to Brother Thatcher:
Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov[ember]. 19, 1896.
Hon. Moses Thatcher.
Dear Brother: --
It becomes my painful duty as President of the Twelve Apostles to inform you that, at a meeting of that body held today (November 19th, 1896) at which all the living members of the Council, excepting yourself, were present, it was decided, after a full consideration and individual expression of everyone present, to sever you from the Council of Twelve Apostles and deprive you of your Apostleship and other offices in the Priesthood. I remain,
Brother B[righam]. Morris Young called and reported that he acted as messenger for Pres[iden]t. Snow in delivering the above letter to Brother Thatcher, which he did a little before 4 o'clock, this afternoon. After reading it, Brother Thatcher remarked, "That's all right Brother Morris, that's all right". Brother Morris then withdrew. (2)
1 - Diary Excerpts of Franklin D. Richards, 1887-1897, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies
2 - First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve minutes
LDS History Chronology: Lorenzo Snow
Mormon History Timeline: the life of Lorenzo Snow
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