Lorenzo Snow, Dec 29, 1899

-- Dec 29, 1899
Presidents Lorenzo Snow, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith were at the office.

Brother Richard M. Robinson, of Grantsville [Utah], called, having just returned from a mission to Florida. He exhibited a gold coin, a little larger though a little thinner than our ten cent silver coin, and containing well marked characters. He stated that this coin had been found by Brother I. N. Carlton of Casey Settlement, Camden County, Georgia, while plowing in his field at that place. It was situated on the St. Mary River, which divides Georgia from Florida. The coin was plowed up last spring, and was given to Brother Robinson in the latter part of August. He now presented it to President Snow, as head of the Church, hoping that it might be found useful in helping to establish the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, or for some other sacred purpose.

The sum of $1500 was appropriated in favor of the Sevier [Utah] Stake Tabernacle.

At 2 P.M. Brother [Milton D.] Hammond and Brother [Charles O.] Card called upon the Presidency. Brother Hammond went over the same ground covered in his previous talks. He added that the engineer of the Canal Company had not made full estimates, and that the company had paid according to the estimates made. He suspected that this was sharp practice, and took it for granted that the engineer had adopted this plan to hide the company's inability to entirely meet its present obligations, owing to a shortness of funds. Three o'clock meeting of the First Presidency and Apostles. Present: besides the First Presidency, B[righam]. Young [Jr.], F[rancis]. M. Lyman, John Henry Smith, George Teasdale, H[eber]. J. Grant, A[nthon]. H. Lund, M[atthias]. F. Cowley, A[braham]. O[wen]. Woodruff and Rudger Clawson; also Seymour B. Young, Bishops [William B.] Preston, [Robert T.] Burton, and [John R.] Winder, C[harles]. W. Penrose and H[iram]. B. Clawson. Bro[ther]. John Henry Smith was asked to explain the object of the meeting. He said there was a scheme on foot to disfranchise the Mormon people through an amendment to the Constitution. ...

Bro[ther]. John Henry Smith again remarked that the effect upon the people would be of extreme moment, that is, upon those liable to arrest. ... He closed by saying that it was his unqualified opinion that the church should not directly nor indirectly be found bearing the burdens of polygamists; and as for himself, he was willing to declare to a tabernacle congregation that he held himself amenable to the laws of this country, and that every man should bear his own burden, and that the fact of himself and other polygamists having lived with an maintained their plural families should not in any sense affect the liberties of the people who are not polygamists.

Pres[iden]t. [Lorenzo] Snow asked the brethren present to make remarks if they had any to make. No one responding, he himself said that if Bro[ther]. John Henry had stated fully what he intended to say he would have said that he intended to obey the law and influence his brethren to do likewise; and further, that Deseret News should change the spirit of its editorials and be less Democratic. He then said he would like to know if the brethren present felt to make any change by way of meeting the present situation. Referring to the proposed measure amending the Constitution, the President said he could hardly believe such a thing could be done, but in this case he might possibly be mistaken; but he could say that he did not feel in the least discouraged by the outlook but he felt it his duty to do all he could to stave off trouble.

The President again invited the brethren to speak who had any light to reflect on the points presented. [Note: Francis Lyman, Brigham Young Jr., John Henry Smith, Heber Grant, William Preston, Anthon Lund, Robert Burton, Joseph F. Smith and Charles Penrose spoke, not on Snow's invitation to effect a change in policy regarding unlawful cohabitation, but on politics generally and on the Deseret News's editorials.] ...

Pres[iden]t. [George Q.] Cannon now remarked that he was impressed witho ne things, that is the sentiment of the brethren who had spoken could be discerned in his politics. (Bro[ther]. Grant here took exceptions to this remark.) Pres[iden]t. Cannon thought there was a question deeper than anything yet touched upon, that is, the policy the church was going to pursue in regard to our marital relations; that is, whether we should take the course suggested by Bro[ther]. John Henry, and eat humble pie; whether we will obey the law, or go on as we are now going and defend violations of the law. He thought it was bad ground for us to occupy to justify ourselves in having children by our plural wives; he thought it right and proper however for us to have children by them, but did not think it wise for us to claim the right to do so when the laws of the state were against it. Plural wives bearing children should, he thought, be placed beyond the power of the law. He believed that public feelings would be placated if we were not called upon to defend violations of the law, but regard such cases as sporadic cases. The speaker said he was satisfied that we should not come out and say we are not going to have children by our plural wives, and that nation would not expect this at our hands; and he did nto think that anything would have such a tendency to quiet public feeling so much as for men to go into court and promise to obey the law and not equivocate. He said that from the beginning he his mind was clear on this point, that we should not show the least feeling of defying the law. While we feel keenly the justice of our cause, in Washington [D.C.] that feature figures but little. Prejudice has weight. He did not think it would be a good thing for Bro[ther]. John Henry to make the public utterance suggested by him; but he did think that a course might be taken to placate the leading men of the nation. He differed from some of the speakers that we could not be disfranchised without a constitutional amendment. We were given statehood on certain conditions; and he believed prejudices could be worked up to such a pitch as to cause Congress to act by a short cut. It must be admitted by all that we have disappointed the Republican party. They admitted us with the idea that we would be at least part fo the time a Republican state. By giving the women the franchise destroyed the Republican chances in the State. Pres[iden]t. Cannon closed by saying that there certain was an impression abroad that the News was a Democratic paper, and President Snow's name as its publisher, has been used to the injury of the Republican party.

Adjourned until tomorrow.

Pres[iden]ts. [Lorenzo] Snow, [Joseph F.] Smith and [George Q.] Cannon; also Apostles [Brigham] Young [Jr.], [Francis M.] Lyman, [John Henry] Smith, [George] Teasdale, [Heber J.] Grant, [Anthon H.] Lund, [Matthias F.] Cowley, [Abraham Owen] Woodruff and [Rudger] Clawson, Pres[iden]t. Seymour B. Young, B[isho]ps. Preston, Winder and Burton, H[iram]. B. Clawson & C[harles]. W. Penrose met at Pres[iden]ts Office at 3 p.m. and were in session until 6 o'clock. The subjects that were discussed were "The possible amendment to the Constitution and the disfranchizement of our people". The changing of the [Deseret] "News" policy and editor. "Shall our brethren who are arraigned before the courts promise to obey the law in the future?" Bro[ther]s John Henry Smith and B[isho]p. Hirum [B.] Clawson were very much frightened. I think there was no need of it. Pres[iden]t. Brigham Young of the Apostles made a fine speech and did not favor a change in the "News". Pres[iden]t. Smith would make Bro[ther]. Penrose Church historian. Would not obey the law. Pres[iden]t. Cannon thought we could possibly promise to obey the law but still raise children by wives. Most of the brethren spoke in favor of no change but to do our duty and trust in God. [December 30, 1899; Journal History; Brigham Young Jr., Diary; Abraham Owen Woodruff, Diary; Seymour B. Young, Diary]

Presidents Lorenzo Snow, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith were at the office.

An order was issued for an appropriation in favor of a Brother Harris, to assist him while studying law in Mexico.

A cable message from Liverpool [England], received today, read as follows: "[Harold] Eldredge sailed today on Lucania, Robinson accompanying him."

President William W. Cluff, of Summit [Utah] Stake, who had been telegraphed for, came to the office and met with the Presidency this morning. He was consulted as to his judgment in regard to selling the Cedar City [Utah] coal mines, or leasing them. President Snow had given an option on them for $125,000, but the parties holding the option wished to know if the property could not be leased for twenty years, by giving ten cents royalty per ton of 2,140 pounds to the ton, or if the Church would give a six months option, and if so at what price. This proposition was considered by the First Presidency, Brother Cluff, Bishops [William B.] Preston and [John R.] Winder, and immediately after by them and a Mr. Ladd, the gentleman making the offer. The matter was taken under advisement by the Presidency, with the understanding that an answer would be given on Tuesday next.

President Snow ascertained the mind of Brother Cluff as to the value of those coal mines. The latter thought that $125,000 was no price at all for the property, and that if the Southern Pacific Railroad should come into this country it would be invaluable to them. He would not lease at all, and in this view Bishops Preston and Winder agreed with Brother Cluff.

Immediately after this interview, a meeting of the Salt Lake & Los Angeles Railway was held. Present beside the First Presidency, Nephi W. Clayton, Isaac A. Clayton, Bishop William B. Preston, and Bishop John R. Winder. A proposition from W. J. Bateman, and C. W. Miller, previously laid before President Snow, was now considered. These gentlemen proposed to take the management of the railroad and pavilion, and pay the Church 75 per cent of the net earnings. They would guarantee $8,000. As previously stated the Church has only received $1800 from the railroad and beach properties, over and above running expenses, during the six years they have been [in] existence.

President Snow left before the meeting was over; also Bishops Preston and Winder. On motion of President Smith, the proposition of Messrs. Bateman and Miller was declined.

Meeting of Pres[idency]. & 12 Bishoprick. Question shall we when bro[ugh]t. to the or before the Court promise to obey the law. Unanimous decision that we must acknowledge its suprem[ac]y. Brethren must not have children born to them by their wives here in this state. I asked the question, how about my situation; Two wives under forty, one in N[ew]. Mex[ico], other in Arizona my case was not under consideration. Jos[eph]. F. S[mith]. Jno. [John] H[enry]. S[mith]. H[eber]. J. Grant H[iram]. B. Clawson. I think that is all that are in danger at present from Cha[rle]s. Mostyn Owen's complaints. According to my view of it, families must be scattered in neighboring states and Territories. We met at the Pres[iden]ts. Office in continuation of our meetings of yesterday. No decision was reached. I spoke using Sec[tion]. 98 of Doc[trine]. & Cov[enants]. Pres[iden]t. [Lorenzo] Snow gave me about the most complete sitting down I ever got in my life because he misunderstood me. Here Pres[ident] [Lorenzo] Snow laid down the law that the latter clause of the Manifesto vis that men must cease beget[t]ing children by their plural wives must be observed and that when any any one was bro[ugh]t to trial on this count and were asked if they would obey the law in future of non cohabitation they were to promise to do so.

Appendix 1.

The 1897 Trial of Moses Thatcher Before the Salt Lake Stake High Council (1)

-- Saturday, Dec 30, 1899
[Apostle Rudger Clawson Diary] Salt Lake City. Foggy and cold. 2 p.m. Continuation of the meeting of the brethren on Friday. The principal topic of discussion was the attitude of the brethren when arrested and found guilty of unlawful cohabitation. Would it be proper for them to promise to obey the law--or rather express their intention to do so?

President Snow said, he did not see how we could very well do otherwise, in order to satisfy the honorable people of the nation, who are willing to send their sons into battle for the defense of our country, and when they fall in battle it is looked upon as an honor. They are willing to make this sacrifice for their country. They look upon the United States as the greatest nation on the earth and feel that its laws are supreme--and that when it comes to a question of law, the Latter-day Saints should bow. It is necessary sometimes for the saints to make sacrifices for the good of their fellowmen, that the honorable ones of the earth perchance may be saved. This is one of those times. There are, he said, about 300 plural wives among the saints who are bearing children, as against the body of the church--say 350,000--who are not in polygamy. These 300 women for the good of the nation and of the church should be willing for a time to refrain from having children. They would lose nothing

by it, for the Lord would reward them abundantly.

Though no formal vote was taken the brethren generally seemed to endorse the views of President Snow. Meeting adjourned sine die. (2)

1 - Journal History; Minutes; Abraham Owen Woodruff, Diary
2 - Stan Larson (editor), A Ministry of Meetings: The Apostolic diaries of Rudger Clawson, Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, 1993, http://bit.ly/rudgerclawson

LDS History Chronology: Lorenzo Snow

Mormon History Timeline: the life of Lorenzo Snow


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