Lorenzo Snow, Sep 22, 1898

-- Sep 22, 1898
Financial difficulties of certain Church institutions-- Salt Lake City, Utah.

President Wilford Woodruff died in San Francisco, California on September 2, 1898. Before his death he had announced to his close associates in the administration of the Church that "it was not the will of the Lord that in the future there should be a lengthy period elapse between the death of the president of the church and reorganization of the first presidency." (Juvenile Instructor, November 1, 1901, p. 660)

Accordingly his successor, Lorenzo Snow was chosen as the new President of the Church at a special meeting of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles on September 13, 1898. He was sustained in that office by the body of the Church at the ensuing October general conference, 1898.

Lorenzo Snow had been born in Mantua, Ohio, April 3, 1814 making him in his 85th year when he became President. He died October 10, 1901 making his term as President of the Church three years.

During those three years his main task was the development of a plan for the reformation of the financial structure of the L.D.S. Church.

His predecessor in office, Wilford Woodruff, had repeatedly noted in his personal diary the financial dilemma that he and the Church faced with such expressions as:

August 8, 1894 "I don't sleep nights and am weary by day. As trustees-in-trust and the presidency of the church we have taken such a load upon us it is difficult to carry it."

August 9, 1894 "There is a heavy load resting upon us in church affairs, our debts are very heavy."

December 30, 1896 "The presidency of the church are so overwhelmed in financial matters it seems as though we shall never live to get through with it unless the Lord opens the way in a marvelous manner. It looks as though we shall never pay our debts."

April 7, 1897 "I spoke of this financial condition of the church, explained the action of the government officials in starting our debts. I did not want to die until the church and myself as trustee-in-trust are out of debt."

Wilford Woodruff did not live to see this last expressed hope realized. The task was handed to his successor Lorenzo Snow.

Present Snow immediately set about to get the Church "out of debt" with three measures:

(1) He abandoned a number of the financial enterprises of the previous administration, more especially mining, milling and railroad enterprises.

(2) He issued $1,000,000 worth of short term bonds in the name of the Church.

(3) He received a revelation "from the Lord" calling upon the church membership to from that day forward (May 8, 1899) "pay a full tithing."

Perhaps one other notable development in this short administration was the resumption of control by the Church over the Deseret News which had been leased in October, 1892 to a private company, George Q. Cannon Sons operating as the Deseret News Publishing Company.

Including the two addresses of President Snow as Prophet, Seer and Revelator on the subject of tithing, we have been able to locate 24 public documents of the First Presidency during Lorenzo Snow's three years as President.

Of these 24 documents, all reproduced below in the remainder of this volume and all of them more or less self-explanatory, eight deal directly with the subject of tithing and the financial affairs of the Church, as might be exacted from the background of Presidents Snow's administration given above.

Three of the remaining messages deal with the subject of Church publications and six with the training and calling of the missionary force of the church.

One message each deals with the following topics: Temple ordinances; Church procedure in voting for church officers; a headquarters building for Church auxiliary organizations; status of church members who join secret societies; testimony of President Snow concerning David W. Patten, an early martyr of the Church; and an address prepared to commemorate the opening of the Twentieth Century.

Readers who wish to gain historical perspective and background for these 24 documents of President Snow's administration are encouraged to become familiar with the following references even before reading the documents. CHC 6:351-385, RCH 3:253-273; Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, pp. 380-412.

A LETTER to the Presidency, Bishops and Counselors, and Saints of the Pocatello Stake of Zion.

Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 22, 1898.


This letter will be presented to you by Elders Heber J. Grant and Matthias F. Cowley, and we ask you to treat as strictly confidential all communications which they may make to you.

We have called these brethren on a mission to raise the funds to save one of the institutions of Zion from making an assignment, and another-the Oneida Stake Academy-from closing its doors against hundreds of children who are in need of proper training and education in our church schools.

We feel that it would be a great calamity to have these institutions fail, as it would injure the credit and moral prestige of the Latter-day Saints as a community, and to maintain which is something that should appeal to the patriotism of every Latter-day Saint.

We appeal to you to render to these brethren all the financial aid that your circumstances will admit of, and also to assist them, to the full extent of your ability, to accomplish this mission.

We fully appreciate the fact that the saints have very many calls made upon them, but notwithstanding this, as sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven, we do not hesitate to appeal to you for aid in these matters, knowing that every sacrifice made in aiding any of the institutions of Zion will be sure to bring an ample reward from our Father in Heaven.

We assure you that we shall appreciate very much indeed all you shall do to aid the brethren in making their mission a success.

Your Brethren in the Gospel, LORENZO SNOW, GEORGE Q. CANNON, JOSEPH F. SMITH. {1898-September 22-Circular letter, Church Historian's Library,} (1)

-- Sep 29, 1898; Thursday
Eleven o'clock meeting of the First Presidency and Apostles at the Temple. Present: Pres[iden]ts. Lorenzo Snow, Geo[rge]. Q. Cannon, Jos[eph]. F. Smith and Franklin D. Richards; Elders Brigham Young [Jr.], Francis M. Lyman, Geo[rge]. Teasdale, Heber J. Grant, John W. Taylor and A[braham]. O[wen]. Woodruff. ...

President Snow asked the Apostles to encourage the emigration of suitable people from the different Stakes to Canada, to work under the contract made with the Alberta Company. (2)

1 - Clark, James R., Messages of the First Presidency (6 volumes)
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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