Brigham Young as a Statesman
We could talk about something with a glamorous title, but then as Brigham Young told us yesterday,1 How do you know I’m telling you the truth? How do you know that I’m not deceiving you? How do you know I’m not pulling your leg? How do you know I’m not deceiving myself? What do I know about what happened thousands and thousands of years ago?2 The best way for me to stay in business is to avoid situations in which my real knowledge might be put to the test, and some of us become extremely skillful at that. I’m going to talk about Brigham Young today. After all, this is Brigham Young University, and the one thing we have to be proud of is the name of Brigham Young. The best way we can honor that name is not with bronze statues and plaques and the usual velour and Victorian bric-a-brac, status symbols for the dead, but to heed his sayings, to heed his teachings. He gave them as eternal teachings, based on eternal principles—very practical, very up-to-date. You can judge for yourself just how timeless and up-to-date they are.
First of all, Brigham Young the leader was Brigham Young the statesman because of what he had done. He had led his people out away all by themselves; they were entirely independent; they had to govern themselves. He had to know all about government, because he was in charge. And so here we have a man, whether he would or not, in charge of a state.
You may judge whether there has been a labour upon me, when you reflect that I realize that God holds me responsible for the salvation and safety of this people. You hold me responsible, every one of you, as standing between you and God, to guide you safely—to dictate and direct the affairs of this Church and kingdom; and then you may judge whether my mind labours or not. My mind becomes tired, and so do your minds, if you are Saints.3
They, too, had to work, and the thing that would get the Saints through was using their brains, not using their voices or their muscles, necessarily. He says, of himself,
It is the man who works hard, who sweats over the rock, and goes to the kanyons for lumber, that I count more worthy of good food and dress than I am. But do not I labour? Yes, with my mind. Can any man tell what labour there is upon me? [Of course, the labor, the real burden of responsibility, of administration. It is a terrible thing when you have all the responsibility and take it.] No, not a man can begin to tell what I feel for the Latter-day Saints in this Territory, throughout the mountains and the world—what I feel for their salvation and preservation. They have to be looked after and cared for; and all this more particularly rests upon me. My brethren love to share with me all that the Lord puts upon them; but in the day of trouble they look to me to secure them and point out a way for their escape.4
He had to know about government, and his leadership went over into government. “When God calls a man to preside, He gives him wisdom to preside, so heap the blame on me. . . . I was the designer of that Hall, and I am ashamed of it, it is too small [i.e., he built his first assembly house, and it was too small; the man says, “All right, I am responsible”]; to do credit to this body of men, let them build a Hall that will contain 15,000 persons”—so he started on the tabernacle that very month.5 He is the noble character, the nobleman seeking the benefit of all around him, trying to bring his servants—if you please, his tenants—to his knowledge; to receive like blessings that he enjoys, to dispense his wisdom and talents among them, and to make them equal with himself. This is the person—the great political leader. This is very much, of course, like the discourse of Pericles. “As old as I am now [he said when he was 73], I expect that if I should see a wagon in the mud, my shoulder would be first to the wheel to lift it out.”6 And that was true. He was always helping; he was always right in there.
A correspondent from the New York newspapers went up to the 24th of July picnic at Alta—it was Brighton in those days—in 1860, and he gives a very moving description. When the show was all over, when some three thousand wagons had gone down the canyon on the specially made road, and the dust had settled, late in the evening there was one figure still left in the camp, going around with a bucket dowsing all the campfires—and that was Brigham Young, the last man left, to make sure that all the fires were out.7 This is a careful man, who doesn’t want to waste, doesn’t want to destroy, wants to preserve, to see that everything is done right. He was a marvelous figure.
After all, these people had broken with the civilization in which they lived; they’d been pushed out, and the Lord required that of them. It was necessary, but they were very much aware of the fact of having been cut off, and being by themselves. And Brigham had led them out; he’d led them out of the world. This meant that their attitude to politics, especially national politics, would be conditioned by this feeling of aloofness—they had no real part in it, one way or the other. But we’ll see how. “[The] world [is] bound in the dim light of king-craft, money-craft, and serfdom.”8 He says, “[Our life is] tame and uninteresting to those who dwell amid the whirl of mental and physical energies, constantly taxed to their utmost tension in the selfish, unsatisfying and frenzied quest of worldly emolument, fame, power, and maddening draughts from the syren cup of pleasure.”9 What style the man has! As I say, he never wrote a note, never followed anything at all, just spoke strictly from the cuff. And as we’ll see tomorrow,10 he spent but eleven days at school—the only formal education he ever had.11 Yet he has one of the most vigorous, terse, powerful prose styles of any American. And he could also be very eloquent. “[We] are so remote from the high-wrought excitement . . . [and] little prone to deem mere property, rank, titles, and office the highest prizes for human effort.”12 We don’t take those things seriously anymore. We are out of that rat-race, and we are glad of it. “How easy it is for the love of the world to take possession of the hearts of the human family! How easy it is for their minds to become darkened by the god of this world, and become like the eyes of the fool, which are in the ends of earth, seeking for gold and silver, and the riches, grandeur, popularity, and titles of this world”13—all the things people look for. You notice how up-to-date these things are too. “When I see them grovelling in the dust; longing, craving, desiring, contending for the things of this life, I think, O foolish men, to set your hearts on the things of this life! To-day they are seeking after the honors and glories of the world, and by the time the sun is hidden by the western mountains the breath is gone out of their nostrils, they sink to their mother earth.”14 What a lesson this is for us now.
So he had taken the Saints out, and when he saw the Nauvoo Temple burning he said, “Good, the best thing that could happen; take it, Father, it’s yours. I’m glad of it.” He never looked back.15 Five times his own house was taken from him, as well as his farm and everything he’d built up. He said he never thought of it; “Finest thing in the world,” he says. “Out for more.”16 Now there are certain principles, and therefore certain attitudes. He regards the state as a necessary evil: “Necessary, but evil.” “Every system of civil polity invented by men, like their religious creeds, has been proved by experiment wholly inadequate to check the downward tendency of the human race.”17 He certainly takes a dim view, and so this is his advice. “As for politics, we care nothing about them one way or the other, although we are a political people; but it is for the right.”18 “It is the Kingdom of God or nothing with us.”19 The Latter-day Saints were now isolated where they wouldn’t have to make this choice, and would be able to think in the unified sense, just of the kingdom of God, not being identified with one party or another. He hammers at that all the time.
He sent a general epistle to all the missionaries:
Amid all the revolutions that are taking place among the nations, the elders will ever pursue an undeviating course in being subject to the government, wherever they may be [be subject to the government, respect the government,wherever you are], and sustain the same by all their precepts to the Saints, having nothing to do with political questions which engender strife, remembering that the weapons of their warfare are not carnal but spiritual, and that the Gospel which they preach is not of man but from heaven.20
Maintain this aloofness; keep out of it; don’t get down into that business—that is what he tells them. They’re spreading the gospel. Wherever you live, however, you must be subject to the government. And so, he says, “Revenue laws should embrace a penalty.” The fact that a collector dislikes to enforce his collections should cease to be an excuse. Tax collectors in Utah didn’t want to collect, so they were being lax. The people were abundantly able to pay their taxes, and if they failed or neglected to do so, the law should be enforced against them. We’re still bound to live by it—it’s the only way we can get along. Then he explains that politics is not a primary concern, because of its partisan nature. Primarily, “we do not send these elders forth for political purposes; we have nothing to do with the political world.”21 Had Joseph Smith made political capital of his religion and calling, and raised up a political party, he doubtless would have become celebrated and renowned in the world as a great man and a great leader. But he didn’t do that. “Are there any Democrats, any Whigs, any Methodists, and Baptists, or anything like the parties and sects of the day among us? No. What is there?”22 He could still say that in 1857; nobody wanted to be here then when the heat was on. “Those who want to do the will of their Father in heaven—and when they can know his will, and their faith is one—their hope is one, they are one in all things.”23 “The world complain[s] of us with regard to our politics. . . . [They say why don’t you take sides?] And enquire, ‘are there any Democrats here? Are there any Republicans here?’ We do not care who rules; we are satisfied with God, who setteth up one man, and casteth down another.”24 They had to send Brother Babbitt to Congress to do business for them, but Brigham did that reluctantly; he didn’t like the idea of Babbitt being there, and he said to Babbitt in conference, “If we could keep him here a few months, and in our councils a few years, I think that he would despise litigation as he would the gates of hell. If we had him here, we would wrap him up in the Spirit and power of God, and send him to preach glad tidings to the nations of the earth, instead of his being engaged in the low and beggarly business of pettifogging,”25 which was Brigham’s idea of Congress. Regional rivalry and factionalism were the order of the day:
Clubs, societies, or firms are apt to clash more or less and run into sectional differences and sectional feelings. This I do not want. When we say we will do a good thing, I want the whole community to be of one heart and of one mind in that matter.26
Here is a great bone of contention with regard to political affairs. The world say[s]; ‘Why do not these Latter-day Saints get up their mass meetings and sustain this, that or the other man, and be like other people in the political point of view?’ Why do we not sustain these advocates who are now in the field, and join, and be one with some one or other of the political parties of the country? We have no desire to do so, that is the reason.27
He said that, of course, when he was old. The Saints were a unique and peculiar people, separated from these things. But they had reason; it was very wise to keep out of this because of what was happening. As soon as the Saints were driven off, then arose the terrible mobs, “bleeding Kansas and Missouri,” and all the issues; and then the mounting partisanship, the fierce party politics, and the savage loss of self-control crystallized around the issue of slavery—this was a good thing to be out of. In 1845, before the Saints had come to Utah (and Brigham Young had taken over after the death of Joseph Smith), he said, “A crisis of extraordinary and thrilling interest has arrived. . . . The ranklings of violence and intolerance, . . . of settled vengeance, and blood guiltiness cannot long be suppressed.”28 These were the feelings. After all, “bloody Kansas” and the “bushwackers” and the “jayhawkers” of Missouri were far worse in their depredations after the Saints left. They did far more mobbing and burning of each other than they ever did to the Saints. And this went on for twenty-five years after. “Settled vengeance, and blood guiltiness cannot long be suppressed. . . . Every sensible man in the nation has felt . . . the dreadful vortex into which partizan ambition [people exploiting interest for their own purpose], contempt of the poor, and trampling down the just as things of nought, were fast leading the nation.”29 Then he says (this is his theory),
There has been a progressive revolution since the close of the [Revolutionary] war, but not in virtue, justice, uprightness, and truth. It has become quite a custom, and by custom it has the force of law, for one party to mob another, to tear down and destroy Catholic churches, drive citizens from the ballot box, . . . and persecute, plunder, drive from their possessions, and kill a great people. Revolution in the United States is progressing [this is in 1854]; but to the true spirit of Democracy and the science of government, the Revolution I refer to is strictly opposed.30
It’s going the wrong way; this is nothing for us to get mixed up in. Very closely allied to this party spirit is the national feeling, and he said we should avoid that. “[Since the time of Nimrod,] physical force, conquest, and oppression have been the characteristic of every period of the world’s history.”31 He’s right. And this feeling, this attitude of aloofness, added to the other peculiarities of the moment, in a sense deepened the common charge of treason:
Do you blame the wicked for being mad? [I don’t blame them; they look at us in our peculiar position, and you can hardly expect any other reaction!] No. They desire to rule, to hold the reins of government on this earth; they have held them a great while. I do not blame them for being suspicious of us; men in high standing are suspicious of us, hence the frequent cry, “Treason, treason, we are going to have trouble with the people in Utah.”32
He has a lot to say about that. But his theory of government is that all earthly government is imperfect, because all earthly things are imperfect since the Fall. “Don’t get carried away by them—they are not eternal.” Necessary, yes, but every government is makeshift. “Every government in the world has the seeds of its own destruction within itself,” he says, and he means that.33 It can be a good thing and a necessary thing, but it is all tending toward one end. It’s like the human system itself. There are remedies, there are various ways of life, there are various regimes you can follow to enjoy life and be healthy, but this isn’t your eternal life. We haven’t been resurrected yet. We’re all tending toward one end. And it’s so with governments. “Why are they thus lead to sow the seeds of their own destruction?” he asks. “Because the kingdoms of this world are not designed to stand.”34 “Every government lays the foundation of its own downfall,”35 and “I am so far from believing that any government upon this earth has constitutions and laws that are perfect, that I do not even believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the Church, that is perfect in its fulness.”36 Don’t expect governments to be perfect, he says; even our revelations are not perfect. “The revelations of God contain correct doctrine and principle, so far as they go; but it is impossible for the poor, weak, low, grovelling, sinful inhabitants of the earth to receive a revelation from the Almighty in all its perfections.”37 And how would you expect such poor, weak, low, grovelling, and sinful inhabitants of the earth to set up for themselves a model government that would last forever? You’re not going to get it, Brigham says, so don’t fool yourselves.
“With all the excellency, and all the carefulness and correctness exhibited in the formation of constitutions and laws, they have the seeds of destruction within themselves. In the laws of every government now on this earth, there are certain principles in their constitutions that will ere long sap the foundations of their existence.”38 It wasn’t many years before we had the great Civil War, because of certain defects in the Constitution itself, which allowed all sorts of conflicts and interpretations. So it was with Israel—was it good for Israel to have a king? Yes, it was, because that is what they sought for. “Was it the Lord’s choice that they should have an earthly king? No, it was not His mind and will, but it was the will of the people, consequently, He brought about circumstances to give them kings and rulers, according to their desire, and to bring judgments upon them.”39
“If we must have an organization after the order and wishes of those who are ignorant of the things of God, we must have political and municipal organizations. Kingdoms are organized to suit the conditions of the people, whether the government is that of the people, in the hands of a few individuals, or centred in one.”40 So this is his attitude toward government in general: Don’t put your trust in it, and don’t look to it for salvation. “Our experience has demonstrated the simple fact [and this corollary grows out of that] that in enacting laws, the fewer they are, when well-executed, the better they are for the people. Multiplying laws would not add to our peace or union. If we did not know how to govern and control ourselves that would be a broken reed to lean upon.”41
A principle of leadership: Let us control ourselves. So Brigham gives some general principles of correct government. “The Priesthood of the Son of God [Is the world ready for that? No], which we have in our midst, is a perfect order and system of government, and this alone can deliver the human family from all the evils which now afflict its members, and insure them happiness and felicity hereafter.”42 “I do not know that we should want any sheriff, marshals, constables, magistrates, jurors, judges or governors.”43 And this was established because the word of God would govern and control every person as an individual. “That Kingdom grows out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it is not the Church [talking about the kingdom of God], for a man may be a legislator in that body which will issue laws to sustain the inhabitants of the earth in their individual rights, and still not belong to the Church of Jesus Christ at all.”44 He was talking about a model plan of government.
The trouble is that we are not perfect. Isn’t that a sad thing? “I have not yet attained to perfect confidence in myself in all circumstances, neither has God in me, for were such the case, He would answer every request I made of Him, every wish of mine would be answered to the letter.”45 “There are a thousand circumstances I cannot help or control that are thrown around me without any action of my choice.”46 He admits that he is at the mercy of circumstances, and so are the rulers of the world. “Do you think that I would have let my brother die, if I had the power the Lord has? Would I have let Jedediah [go] behind the veil, had I had that power? No; though in that I might have gone contrary to the wishes of the Almighty. For want of the knowledge which the Lord has, if I had power I might bring injury upon myself and this people.”47 If he used power without the Lord’s knowledge, he would bring injury upon himself and his people, so it was good that he didn’t have it! “Could I in the flesh become as perfect as God in the spirit, I could not stay on the earth with my friends to hold close communion with them and speak with them face to face as men speak to each other.”48 “If I were perfect the Lord would take me to Paradise quicker than you would be willing to have me go there. I want to stay with you; and I expect to be just perfect enough to lead you on—to still know a little more than you know.”49 That’s all he expects, but don’t look for perfection in human government or the things of this world.
So what follows from this? “I endeavor to look upon [mankind] as an angel would, having compassion, long-suffering, and forbearance towards them. How many times can I forgive a brother? . . . I think I could forgive a brother seventy times seven in one day.”50 “It is no more natural for your lungs to expand and contract in breathing than it is for you to wish others to be like yourselves. . . . [And this is the thing you’ve got to get over with.] All of these classes act according to their faith and traditions, and each one of them says, ‘If you are not as I am, you are not right.’ This is just as natural as it is to breathe vital air. I wish this trait in the Saints to be done away. I want the Elders of Israel to learn to take people as they are.”51 It is one of his principles of leadership. “Just as soon as our eyes are turned away from watching ourselves, to see whether we do right, we begin to see faults in our neighbors; this is the great difficulty, and our minds become more and more blinded until we become entirely darkened.”52 “It matters not what your neighbours do, look to your God with all your heart, instead of watching your neighbours, and there will be no danger of your leaving the true path.”53 This is a powerful thing; he said this on a number of occasions: “The spirit that seeks only to accuse, that can only delight itself in the failings and errors of mankind, so born of hell as only to find delight in the defects of humanity—. . . it is the very work of Satan, and his servants.”54 So don’t accuse—never accuse. “People cannot judge themselves as they can others, nor look upon their own conduct as they do the conduct of others. Cease looking at others; cease to judge each other.” Yes, “but they, through their traditions, can judge every person but themselves: they can weigh every person in their scale of justice; but they never think of trying themselves.”55 “There is one principle I wish to urge upon the Saints in a way that it may remain with them—that is, to understand men and women as they are, and not understand them as you are.”56 “Judge not each other rashly, for you will find that ninety-nine wrongs out of a hundred committed by men are done more in ignorance than from a design to do wrong.”57
Brigham Young keeps at suspicion, judging, etc.—the very basic things—all the time. “Do not be so full of religion as to look upon every little overt act that others may commit as being the unpardonable sin that will place them beyond the reach of redemption and the favours of our God.”58 “In this Territory are people gathered from almost all nations, where they have been differently educated, differently traditioned, and differently ruled. How, then, can we expect them to look, to act, and to have sentiments, faith, and customs precisely alike? I do not expect to see any such thing, but I endeavor to look upon them as an angel would, having compassion, long-suffering, and forbearance towards them.”59 Here’s a very good psychological insight; this is typical Brigham Young. He knows the answer here. He says, “You may see, or think you see, a thousand faults in your brethren; yet they are organized as you are; they are flesh of your flesh, bone of your bone; they are of your Father who is in heaven: we are all his children, and should be satisfied with each other as far as possible. The main difficulty in the hearts of those who are dissatisfied is, they are not satisfied with themselves.”60 When you start attributing your misfortune to the wickedness of others, that’s your subconscious at work. Brigham Young was a marvelous psychologist; you could write a whole book about that aspect of him. If anyone gets so excited about someone else’s wickedness, he’s not satisfied with himself. He’s fallen short.
Let compassion reign in our bosoms. Try to comprehend how weak we are, how we are organized, how the spirit and the flesh are continually at war.61
Be kind to all as our Father in heaven is kind. He sends His rain upon the just and the unjust; and gives the sun to shine upon the evil and the good. So let our goodness extend to all the works of His hands, where we can; but do not yield to the spirit and influence of evil.62
How often it is said—”Such a person has done wrong, and he cannot be a Saint, or he would not do so.” How do you know? We hear some swear and lie; they trample upon the rights of their neighbor, break the Sabbath by staying away from meeting, riding about the city, hunting horses and cattle, or working in the kanyons. Do not judge such persons, for you do not know the design of the Lord concerning them; therefore, do not say they are not Saints. What shall we do with them? Bear with them.63
“May the Lord God Almighty bless the Saints, and every one who will permit his blessings to come upon them. I am under the same obligations to bless sinners as I am to bless Saints, if they will receive my blessings.”64 “Do we despise them? No; we pity them. ‘Pity them?’ Yes, pity them. [He’s talking about the people that were persecuting them.] They are flesh of your flesh, bone of your bone. God ‘hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.’ “65 “Forgive them, not only seven times, but seventy times seven in a day, if their hearts are fully set to do right. Let us make it a point to pass over their weaknesses and say, ‘God bless you in trying to be better in time to come,’ and act as wise stewards in the kingdom of God. . . . Do not throw away a man or a woman, old or young.”66 “Do you expect to see a perfect man? Not while you stay here[!]”67 “Much of Joseph’s policy in temporal things was different from my ideas of the way to manage them.”68 Brigham Young never managed things the way Joseph did. He was a businessman; Joseph wasn’t. “He did the best he could, and I do the best I can.”69 We must always give others the benefit of the doubt.
We are not capacitated to receive in one day, nor in one year, the knowledge and experience calculated to make us perfect Saints, but we learn from time to time, from day to day, consequently we are to have compassion one upon another, to look upon each other as we would wish others to look upon us, and to remember that we are frail mortal beings, and that we can be changed for the better only by the Gospel of salvation.70
“Oh fools! not to understand that those you condemn are the workmanship of God, as well as yourselves! God overlooks their weaknesses; and so far as they do good, they are as acceptable as we are.”71 This is our Brigham Young again, running true to form. “It’s not our calling to accuse or punish the wicked [you remember that Mormon says the same thing; cf. Mormon 3:15; 4:5]. Surely, the justice of God will overtake the wicked, and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished.”
Would you like to empty these vials [of God’s wrath] upon the heads of the nations, and take vengeance upon those who have so cruelly persecuted you? Do you delight in the sufferings of your fellow-beings? Jesus died for those very beings. Have you ever realized that the blood of Jesus, the Son of God, was voluntarily shed for those very characters, as well as for us? Do you not think that he has feeling for them? Yes, his mercy yearns over the nation that has striven for a score of years to rid the earth of the Priesthood of the Son of God and to destroy the last Saint. He has mercy upon them, he bears with them, he pleads with them by his Spirit, and occasionally sends his angels to administer to them. Marvel not, then, that I pray for every soul that can be saved. Are they yet upon saving ground? Many of them can yet be saved, if they will turn to the Lord.72
As you know, they were cast out; but what were their ties to the country? This great strife, this great political partisanship, these terrible fights going on, this mounting crisis back home—what were the guiding stars of Brigham Young’s policy? First was the Constitution. Accept that. “I do not lift my voice against the great and glorious Government guaranteed to every citizen by our Constitution, but against those corrupt administrators who trample the Constitution and just laws under their feet.”73
Do we wish to be free from the United States Constitution? No. There is not a word in it but what we can subscribe to with all our hearts. Do we wish to be free from the laws of the United States? No. They are as good laws as we can ask for. Neither do we wish for any better laws than are the most of those enacted in Missouri and Illinois [they had wonderful laws in Missouri and Illinois too]. What, then, was the difficulty with this people? Magistrates, sheriffs, constables, military officers, &c., walked those laws under their feet.74
The signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution were inspired from on high to do that work. But was that which was given to them perfect, not admitting of any addition whatever? No. . . . They laid the foundation, and it was for after generations to rear the superstructure upon it. It is a progressive—a gradual work. If the framers of the Constitution and the inhabitants of the United States had walked humbly before God, . . . the nation would now have been free from a multitude of place-hunters who live upon its vitals.75
If they had, there would have been a consistent growth, but as Brigham said, the revolution had been downwards instead. Then here’s the famous passage—which he refers to often—about the Constitution being rescued: “I expect to see the day when the Elders of Israel will protect and sustain civil and religious liberty and every constitutional right bequeathed to us by our fathers, and spread those rights abroad in connection with the Gospel for the salvation of all nations. I shall see this whether I live or die.”76
“Protect and sustain civil and religious liberty and every constitutional right.” “How long will it be before the words of the prophet Joseph will be fulfilled? He said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people.”77 “When the Constitution . . . hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the ‘Mormon’ Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it.”78 “Will the Constitution be destroyed? No: it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, ‘The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread [the original quotation of Joseph Smith does not mention the Constitution]. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.’ It will be so.”79
“The present Constitution, with a few alterations of a trifling nature, is just as good as we want; and if it is sustained on this land of Joseph, it will be done by us and our posterity. Our national brethren do not know how to do it.”80 Brigham supports the federal government on this principle. “The American Government is second to none in the world in influence and power, and far before all others in liberal and free institutions. . . . It was in this government, formed by men inspired of God, although at the time they knew it not.”81 “We love the Constitution of our country; it is all we could ask; . . . we love the Federal Government, and the laws of Congress.”82 “To accuse us of being unfriendly to the Government [and, of course, this was the constant charge], is to accuse us of hostility to our religion, for no item of inspiration is held more sacred with us than the Constitution under which she acts.”83 “The General Constitution of our country is good, and a wholesome government could be framed upon it, for it was dictated by the invisible operations of the Almighty; he moved upon Columbus to launch forth upon the trackless deep.”84 “We have no difficulties with our Government: we never have had any difficulties with any government under which we have lived.”85 “The Latter-day Saints live and always have lived in a land of law, and, if they have transgressed the law, shame on a community, like the people that live under the Government of the United States, to persecute them instead of prosecuting them.”86 If they’ve broken the law they could be prosecuted.
But that wasn’t the way it was done—persecuting them instead of prosecuting them. It was perfectly legal and all right for them to be prosecuted. “An instance cannot be found upon the records of any court in the United States where the leaders of this people have been legally convicted of a breach of law and order.”87 Not one instance. “There is not another nation under heaven but this, in whose midst the Book of Mormon could have been brought forth. The Lord has been operating for centuries to prepare the way for the coming forth of the contents of that Book from the bowels of the earth.”88 It would have had an easier time in other countries, but it would have been against the will and policy of their various state religions. The restoration could have been suppressed by law. In this country it could not be suppressed by law. Persecution, yes. Mobs, yes. But that wasn’t the government; that wasn’t the country—it was the way people were misbehaving. This was what the Mormons always had to deal with. They never had any trouble with laws, government, or anything like that; all those ran beautifully.
“This is my country. I am a native-born American citizen. My father fought for the liberty we ought to have enjoyed in the States, and we shall yet see the day when we shall enjoy it.”89 But what do you do when the whole country has turned against you for religious reasons? The declaration of 1897, asking why Christians couldn’t fellowship with the Mormons, was purely for religious reasons, and not for social reasons.90 To paraphrase: “We think the social plan of the Mormons is wonderful: their organization, their progress, their economy—all that is marvelous. We have nothing to hold against them. It is their doctrine—their degrading belief in revelation, their belief in prophets, the degrading doctrine of God, the Book of Mormon, belief in angels—it is all those things we can’t go along with.” The reasons the churches of America refused to allow their members to “fellowship,” as they put it, with the Mormons were purely doctrinal and had nothing to do with anything else. This declaration was signed by other religious leaders in America and was officially accepted. It was first introduced by the Congregationalists, then the Methodists took it over, then came the Baptists, and also the Episcopalians—all for religious reasons, for specific Mormon beliefs.
“Now, we left the United States with the intention of planting our feet in the Great Basin, which then belonged to Mexico. Before we left Nauvoo we wrote to the governors of every State and Territory in the Union, requesting them to give us an asylum within their borders. We received five answers, and these refused to listen to our petition. I have now in my possession copies of those letters.”91 So they refused to let them stay.
Before we left Nauvoo, not less than two United States’ senators came to receive a pledge from us that we would leave the United States; and then, while we were doing our best to leave their borders, the poor, low, degraded curses sent a requisition for five hundred of our men to go and fight their battles! That was President Polk; and he is now weltering in hell with old Zachary Taylor, where the present administrators will soon be, if they do not repent.92
First, officials refused to let the Latter-day Saints stay, ordering them out; then they refused to let them depart in peace! Once the Mormons departed and succeeded against all expectations, “We are obliged to maintain our rights; for every blackleg, horse thief, counterfeiter, and abominable character are united with the hireling priests and lying editors and wicked leaders of our Government to falsely accuse the ‘Mormons,’ with a view to our destruction.”93
Finally the wicked followed the Saints west, setting up gambling shops, drinking and carousing, stirring up strife, hatching up law suits, hunting out disaffected spirits, and then lecturing the people on morality, wishing them to become like other communities. Only after they had done everything they could—and the Mormons had done nothing to oppose—did they finally let the Mormons alone. No, now they tried to involve them in all sorts of intrigues. Here is a typical case. They sent a governor. And then some miserable scamp got into a fuss with the Indians and got killed. So the governor ordered out the militia to kill off the Indians. The brethren, naturally, were required to go along, but knowing the white men to be the aggressors, they did not want to turn out and, like General Harney, kill the “enemy.” So they said, “We shall not go.” Then the governor said, “Ah, they’ve committed treason!” He would send an army to Utah to shoot and hang. “Our enemies are determined to bring us into collision with the Government.”94 Brigham had no argument with the government—the perfect government. Nothing was better for this life than the Constitution. “You are not going to find anything better to go by,” said Brigham. But, “Our enemies are determined to bring us into collision with the Government, so they can kill us; but they shall not come here.”95
“Joseph Smith, in forty-seven prosecutions was never proven guilty of one violation of the laws of his country. They accused him of treason, because he would not fellowship their wickedness.”96 “Now, as we are accused of secession, my counsel to this congregation is to secede, what from? From the Constitution of the United States? No. From the institutions of our country? No. Well then, what from? From sin and the practice thereof. That is my counsel to this congregation and to the whole world.”97
Brigham Young explains further:
We have got to be called treasoners by our enemies. Joseph was taken up six times, if I remember rightly, on the charge of treason. Once he was brought into court by some enemies who thought they could prove that he had committed adultery, and that they termed treason. At another time our brethren wanted to vote in Davies County, Missouri, and said they would cast their votes and have their rights with other citizens; whereupon Joseph was taken up for treason. Another time, he was taken up on a charge of high treason; and when he came before the grand jury, his enemies wanted to prove that he had more than one wife, asserting that that was high treason.98
Anything to get the Saints into trouble, and that sort of thing had been going on all along. Thus they faced the problem of security; they had not been listened to. Certain people were out to get them, and the press was never quiet. Always, stirrings were going on. Brigham said in 1853: “I have been frequently asked, what is going to be the result of these troubles? I answer—The result will be good.”99 “He will not suffer the Priesthood to be again driven from the earth. They may massacre men, women, and children; but the Lord will not suffer them to destroy the Priesthood.”100 “Up to this time we have carried the world upon our backs. Joseph did it in his day, besides carrying this whole people, and now all this is upon my back, with my family to provide for at the same time and we will carry it all, and bear off the Kingdom of God.”101 “This is my confidence in my God. I am no more concerned about this people’s suffering unto death, than I am concerned about the sun’s falling out of its orbit and ceasing to shine on this earth again.”102
“I am aware [he sounds like Demosthenes] that you will want to know what will be the result of the present movement against us [Johnston’s Army in 1857]. ‘Mormonism’ will take an almighty stride into influence and power, while our enemies will sink and become weaker and weaker, and be no more; and I know it just as well now as I shall five years hence.”103 A year after this he stood up in conference and said, “I thank God for the United States Army—I’m two million dollars richer, than one year ago.” Yet it had looked as though the Saints would be destroyed. When he heard of the army’s coming, he got in his buggy with his old colored servant, Abel, and they whipped the horses and came down to Provo as fast as they could. He held a conference. He said, “The Army’s coming in. They’re going to camp down here. You just double the price of everything. Charge what you can get for your eggs; if they want to raise their own chickens and vegetables, fine, they’re welcome to do so. Meanwhile, put on the screws.” And they did! And so the Army paid through the nose for the luxury of conquering Utah.104
Brigham Young said of the intentions of the Church’s enemies, “The waves of civilization, to use their own figure, will then surge right up against the walls of barbarism, in which we are entrenched, and wash them down. We as a religion can then be wiped out, and no longer offend the fastidious tastes and senses of the priests and politicians of this enlightened age.” Well, we shall see. “Now they are seeking again to break up this people. God will hold them in derision.”105 This was in 1870. Again and again there were the plots, and we often forget that the most dangerous plots were hatched in the 1870s. Brigham had one formula for survival: “If this people will serve Him with all their heart, mind, and strength, they have nothing to fear from this time henceforth and forever,” he told them in 1853.106 “In doing this, no power under the heavens can disturb this people.”107 “If we will only practise what we profess, I tell you we are at the defiance of all hell.”108 “And now I prophesy that, if this people will live their religion, the God of heaven will fight their battles, bring them off victorious over all their enemies, and give to them the kingdom.”109
In 1857, Brigham Young said, “I will prophesy a little, and I will say that my word shall be as true as any word ever spoken from the heavens. If this people, called Latter-day Saints, will live to the truth, the thread of oppression which is cut will never be united again.”110 And it never has been since then. We’d better live up to it now. “As the Lord live[s], if this people will be faithful in the performance of every duty [this is ten years later], they will never come upon a field of battle to fight their enemies.”111 “If we will stand up as men and women of God, the yoke shall never be placed upon our necks again.”112 What is the warfare of the Saints?
With some the question arises, Are we in danger from our enemies [the year after Johnston’s Army]? No; there is no danger, only in our neglecting the duties of a Saint. Are we in danger now? No. Have we been? No. Shall we be? No, we shall not. It has been written that many should be slain for the testimony of Jesus; and, in my humble opinion, there have already been enough slain to fulfil that prophecy.113
“Now, brethren, can we fight against and subdue ourselves? That is the greatest difficulty we ever encountered, and the most arduous warfare we ever engaged in.”114 “In this probation, we have evil to contend with, and we must overcome it in ourselves, or we shall never overcome it anywhere else.”115 “As to being afflicted, never fear that: only fear that you are not living as well as you might, and then there is no danger.”116
We are never going to destroy the enemies of God by the evil passions that are in us—never, no never. When those who profess to be Saints contend against the enemies of God through passion or selfwill, it is then man against man, evil against evil, the powers of darkness against the powers of darkness. But when men who are sanctified, purified, do anything, they will do it with a coolness as if conversing at their firesides with each other.117
You will be whipped until you have the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ sufficiently to love your brethren and sisters freely, men, women, and children; until you can live at peace with yourselves, and with every family around you; until you can treat every child [this was during Walker’s War] as though it were the tender offspring of your own body, every man as your brother, and every woman as your sister; and until the young persons treat the old with that respect due to parents.118
All right, that is victory.
Let us go down into the cabin and do up our praying in fair weather. That is what ‘Mormonism’ teaches me; and when it is dark as midnight darkness, when there is not one particle of feeling in my heart to pray, shall I then say, I will not pray? [This is Brigham, the leader.] No, but get down knees, bend yourselves upon the floor, and mouth, open; tongue, speak; and we will see what will come forth, and you shall worship the Lord God of Israel, even when you feel as though you could not say a word in His favor. That is the victory we have to gain; that is the warfare we have to wage. It is between the spirit and the body; they are inseparably connected.119
So who is the enemy?
As to the struggle that is going on between the Latter-day Saints and the world, have we any struggle with them? No. Have we any contention? No, not in the least. Have we any battle to fight? No, none at all. Are we to marshal our armies to contend against them? No. Here are the words of truth; we go forth and declare them to the ends of the earth; it is our mission and all we have to do. They may war against us, they may marshal their forces and their armies. God rules, I fear them not. If I preserve myself in the truth, I am alright.120
Who hinders you from being happy? from praying, and serving the Lord as much as you please? Who hinders you from doing all the good in your power to do? Who is there here, to mar in any way the peace of any Saint that lives in these peaceful valleys? No one. It is for us to keep our own gardens clean, and see we do not harbor evil in our own hearts.121
How do we deal with them then? “One of the nicest things in the world is to let an enemy alone entirely, and it mortifies him to death.”122
Woe to those who fight against it [Joseph Smith’s testimony]. What will we do to them? Nothing at all, but preach the Gospel. They may lie about us as they please. If we will faithfully mind our own concerns, live our religion, do good to all men, preach the Gospel to the nations of the earth, gather up the honest in heart, build up and establish Zion in the earth, send the Gospel to the House of Israel, and live and serve God in all things, all will be well with us, we have no cause for fear in the least.123
“If there are any hearts or spirits in this city, or elsewhere, that are fearfully wondering whether or not we are going to be destroyed, . . . I will say to all such trembling souls, You need entertain no such fears. You need have only one fear, and that is with regard to yourselves.”124 And so he continues:
If I do not enjoy all I anticipated, if my happiness is not as complete as I anticipated, if the light of the Holy Spirit is not in my heart to that degree which I expected it would be [many of the saints being disappointed], if I have not obtained all I anticipated when I was down in yonder world, mingled with the wicked, the cause is in myself, in my own heart, in my own disposition, in the weakness of human nature; it is my own will that prevents me from enjoying all I anticipated, and more.125
As for the weaknesses of human nature, we have plenty of them; weakness and sin are with us constantly; they are sown in the mortal body, and extend from the crown of the head to the souls of the feet. We need not go to our neighbors for sin, to palliate all our crimes, for we ourselves have plenty of it; we need not crave weakness from our fellow man, we have our own share of it; it is for us to trust in the Lord, and endeavor to deliver ourselves from the effects of sin, plead with every person to take the same course, and propose and plan every possible means to become friends of God, that we may thereby become friends of sinners, and receive a great reward in a day to come.126
Brigham doesn’t like retaliation to arms. “I sometimes felt, before the move, like taking the sword and slaying my enemies, until they were wasted away. But the Lord did not design this, and we have remained in peace and quietness.”127 “We could wipe the few enemies now in our borders out of existence in a very short time, if I would give the word to do so.”128 “We could circumscribe their camps and kill every man, woman and child of them. This is what others have done, and if we were to do it, what better are we than the wicked and the ungodly?”129 “The cause of human improvement is not in the least advanced by the dreadful war which now convulses our unhappy country [this was 1863].”130 “War is instigated by wickedness—it is the consequence of a nation’s sin.”131 “Never try to destroy a man. It is our mission to save the people, not to destroy them. The least, the most inferior spirit now upon the earth, in our capacity, is worth worlds.”132
We do not want to stand here and talk about war [Johnston’s Army was entering]. There is nothing so repugnant to my feelings as to injure or destroy. But what is upon us? Nothing, only another manifestation of the opposition of the Devil to the kingdom of God. War has been declared against the Saints over twenty-seven years, and our enemies have only fallen back so as to gain strength and pretexts for making another attack. Will that spirit increase? If it does, and we love our religion, let me tell you that we will increase faster than our enemies will.133
All war can do is destroy. “Let a few incendiaries go through a city and put the torch here and there, and the city is destroyed—the labor of years, perhaps of centuries, is wasted. Does this make great men of them? Perhaps they think so. If they can destroy a city or a nation they think they will gain a great name. They will not.”134
War is futile. “A large share of the ingenuity of the world is taxed to invent weapons of war. What a set of fools!”135 “There is a spirit that prompts the nations to prepare for war, desolation, and bloodshed—to waste each other away. Do they realize it? No.”136
According to my definition of the word, there is not a strictly and fully civilized community now upon the earth. Is there murder by wholesale to be found in a strictly and fully civilized community? Will a community of civilized nations rise up one against another, nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, using against each other every destructive invention that can be brought to bear in their wars?137
“Much of the skill, ingenuity, and ability of the Christian nations are now devoted to manufacturing instruments of death. [And of course it’s truer today than it was then!] May we be saved from the effects of them! As I often tell you, if we are faithful, the Lord will fight our battles much better than we can ourselves.”138
When the nations have for years turned much of their attention to manufacturing instruments of death [of course this was in 1860, and this is just before the six weeks war broke out—wasn’t it between Prussia and Denmark, and then between Prussia and Austria], they have sooner or later used those instruments. Our nation, England, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and other nations have for years exercised their inventive skill, and expended much means in inventing and fabricating instruments of death [little did he realize what was coming!]. . . . From the authority of all history, the deadly weapons now stored up and being manufactured will be used until the people are wasted away, and there is no help for it. The spirit of revolution goes on through the nations: it never goes back.139
“Does it justify the slaying of men, women, and children that otherwise would have remained at home in peace, because a great army is doing the work? No: the guilty will be damned for it.”140
Some Christian nations lately went to war with each other [this is in 1859, and he is referring to the Crimean War (1853—56)]. What for? Pride—to please a selfish, worldly, carnal, wicked heart. And the priests, the majority of them being of the same faith, on both sides the line of battle prayed to the same God for success in slaying the opposing army.141
The destruction of property and life during the war [the Civil War] has been enormous; but I am satisfied that the destruction of the love of virtue—the love of every exalted principle of honor, and of political and social government—has been greater, comparatively, than the destruction of property and life. Religious societies abound in the nation. Although it never was more wicked than at the present time, it is strange to say that it never was more religious in profession.142
Brigham says more about the futility of armaments. Here is his policy, and it seems rather demanding. He applied it, too.
Whenever the time comes that you hate an object, or a thing, try and heap blessings on the object, and it will be well for you, for it will take away those feelings. . . . When I see a man commit folly in his weakness, am I to stretch forth my hand to destroy that man? No! But I will pull him out of the pit if I can.143
Why do you not say, if you have a mind to abuse, abuse away? . . . Let every heart be firm and every one say, I will never contend any more with a man for property. I will not be cruel to my fellow-creature, but I will do all the good I can, and as little evil as possible. Now where would be the wrong of taking this course?144
You will find it unwise to quarrel with your neighbour for differences of opinion, or for his course of conduct, but simply be concerned to always do right, and rest assured that each one the world over, will attain to precisely that amount of intelligence, happiness, and glory, or the reverse, which he has lived for.145
How about a policy of nonresistance, then? He says, “When men are oppressed, it is in their own hearts and feelings: it is not because oppression comes upon them from any other quarter, than that they are dissatisfied. They are not satisfied with themselves.”146 That is the trouble. Of course that is the psychology of feeling oppressed. We are told that during the worst times of the persecution, in Nauvoo, etc., the Saints were never so happy. Those who went through it never felt better. “Our enemies are unremitting in their labors and vigilance, and with a zeal worthy of a better cause. It is interesting to watch the fruitlessness of their labors.”147 “Interesting to watch,” he says—nonresistance. “But these things [the excesses of the army of occupation in 1859; they were pretty bad] are most excellent tests of the patience and forbearance of the Saints, and are such as would not be quietly endured by any other people.”148
They talk about overthrowing us, and obliterating our peculiarities which are so obnoxious to them. . . . They have schemed, planned and devised mischief against us in secret, . . . and, in fact, done everything against us that they could [and he knew a great deal of what was going on]; . . . but notwithstanding all this, have they been able to rob us of the enjoyments of our religion and of peace?149
The Vedette [the newspaper, printed at Fort Douglas, that had just changed hands] has been unusually bitter of late, since the change of editors—too bitter to hold out very long. . . . If we would quarrel with them, or notice them, it would be encouraging; . . . but it is very annoying, after they have exhausted every invective, and every species of vituperation and slander, to find no spot so vulnerable that they can cause us . . . to even express the most trifling anger or vexation.150
And that settles it.
I must be patient with them, as the Lord is patient with me; as the Lord is merciful to me, I will be merciful to others; as He continues to be merciful to me, consequently I must continue, in long-suffering, to be merciful to others; patiently waiting, with all diligence, until the people will believe.151
Since the Jews are now front-line news, let us review Brigham’s interesting prophecies on them. “Let me here say a word to the Jews [this is an interesting story, because I’ve heard my grandmother tell about this many times]. We do not want you to believe our doctrine. If any professing to be Jews should do so, it would prove that they are not Jews. A Jew cannot now believe in Jesus Christ. Brother Neibaur [who was sitting on the stand then], who thinks he is a Jew, is a good Latter-day Saint; he has not any of the blood of Judah in his veins.”152 Grandpa Neibaur came home that day, stormed in the house, threw down his hat, and said, “Brigham doesn’t know everything!” I guess he was very proud of being a Jew.
The decree has gone forth from the Almighty that they cannot have the benefit of the atonement until they gather to Jerusalem, for they said, let His blood be upon us and upon our children, consequently, they cannot believe in him until his second coming. We have a great desire for their welfare, and are looking for the time soon to come when they will gather to Jerusalem, build up the city and the land of Palestine, and prepare for the coming of the Messiah. When he comes again, he will not come as he did when the Jews rejected him; neither will he appear first at Jerusalem when he makes his second appearance on the earth; but he will appear first on the land where he commenced his work in the beginning, and planted the garden of Eden, and that was done in the land of America. When the Savior visits Jerusalem, and the Jews look upon him, and see the wounds in his hands and in his side and in his feet, they will then know that they have persecuted and put to death the true Messiah, and then they will acknowledge him, but not till then. They have confounded his first and second coming, expecting his first coming to be as a mighty prince instead of as a servant. They will go back by and by to Jerusalem and own their Lord and Master. We have no feelings against them. I wish they were all gentlemen, men of heart and brain, and knew precisely how the Lord looks upon them.153
“Jerusalem is not to be redeemed by the soft still voice of the preacher of the Gospel of peace.”154 This is interesting too, because everything he says here is diametrically opposed to what the whole Christian world was preaching about the restoration of Jerusalem. I wrote a long article in a Jewish encyclopedia on this particular subject.155 All the Christian churches were climbing all over each other in their eagerness to get back to Jerusalem and establish the Jews. The Mormons would take no part in that, because it’s the Jews’ show, not ours. Jerusalem is not—and moreover the Latter-day Saints didn’t think it was it was—to be redeemed by evangelism or anything similar; it would have to be by the shedding of blood and in other ways.
Look how things have gone: “Jerusalem is not to be redeemed by the soft still voice of the preacher of the Gospel of peace. Why? Because they were once the blessed of the Lord, the chosen of the Lord, the promised seed. . . . Jerusalem is not to be redeemed by our going there and preaching to the inhabitants,” as every other Christian church has been doing.156 That’s what that Crimean War was about—the holy places; the French and the Russians claimed the right to protect them and send their missionaries, the Franciscans. Every other church thought that, but not the Latter-day Saints:
Jerusalem is not to be redeemed by our going there and preaching to the inhabitants. It will be redeemed by the high hand of the Almighty. It will be given into the possession of the ancient Israelites by the power of God, and by the pouring out of His judgments. . . . The people who are the most ready to receive the Gospel are those who have lived without it from the days of Noah to this time [the Jews had never heard it. The Jews] . . . will be the last of all the seed of Abraham to have the privilege of receiving the New and Everlasting Covenant. You may hand out to them gold, you may feed and clothe them, but it is impossible to convert the Jews, until the Lord God Almighty does it.157
By and by the Jews will be gathered to the land of their fathers, and the ten tribes, who wandered into the north, will be gathered home, and the blood of Ephraim, the second son of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, which is to be found in every kingdom and nation under heaven, will be gathered from among the Gentiles, and the Gentiles [notice, the blood of Ephraim is largely us] who will receive and adhere to the principles of the gospel will be adopted and initiated into the family of Father Abraham [receive the covenant by adoption], and Jesus will reign over His own and Satan will reign over his own. This will be the result.158
“Build up Zion, redeem the House of Israel, and perhaps assist (though I do not think there will be any need of it) to gather the Jews to Jerusalem and prepare for the coming of the Son of Man.”159 The Jews can take care of themselves. “God has removed the kingdom from Jerusalem again to Zion, and here he will wind up the scene.”160 “This American continent will be Zion; for it is so spoken of by the prophets. Jerusalem will be rebuilt and will be the place of gathering, and the tribe of Judah will gather there; but this continent of America is the land of Zion.”161 He is very clear. “Here are the Lamanites, another example. Their wickedness was not so great as those who slew the Son of God. . . . Still, the curse will be removed from them before it will be removed from the children of Judah; and they will become ‘a white and delightsome people.’ “162
There interesting things will happen, and they have followed this pattern and not that predicted by the whole Christian world, in its wisdom. Brigham Young’s Indian problems (remember, his main problems were with the Indians) are very important, because they are an excellent measure of his statesmanship. His policy applies to any international or cultural conflict.
I certainly believe that the present affliction, which has come upon us from the Indians, is a consequence of the wickedness which dwells in the hearts of some of our brethren. . . . I believe that the Lord permits them to chasten us at the present time to convince us that we have to overcome the vindictive feelings which we have harbored towards that poor, down-trodden branch of the house of Israel [the Indians definitely have a case].163
Brigham says in 1853 in Walker’s War,
And when the Indians make war on us, the mob only had power to drive the Saints to their duty, and to remember the Lord their God, and that is all the Indians can do. This people are worldly-minded, they want to get rich in earthly substance, and are apt to forget their God, the pit from which they were dug, and the rock from which they were hewn, every man turning to his own way. Seemingly the Lord is chastening us until we turn and do His will. . . . There will always be Indians or somebody else to chastise you.164
Talking about polygamy, Brigham says, “There will always be more cats coming out of the bag.” “You’ll get rid of polygamy”; that will cease to be an issue, but he says, “There will always be cats coming out of the bag to scandalize the world.”165 Of course it’s the Negro question today. It will always be something like that. Expect it. “There will always be Indians or somebody else to chastise you, until you come to that spot; so amen to the present Indian trouble, for it is all right. I am just as willing the rebellious of this people should be kicked, and cuffed, and mobbed, and hunted by the Indians, as not, for I have preached to them until I am tired.”166 Don’t do as they do. “People do not realize what they have done by driving us into the midst of the Lamanites. [It’s the best thing that could happen for both of us.]”167 “Shall we do as the Lamanites do? No. I forbid it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—I forbid any elder or member in this church slaying an innocent Lamanite, any more than he would slay an innocent white man.”168
I wish to impress them with the necessity of treating the Indians with kindness, and to refrain from harboring that revengeful, vindictive feeling that many indulge in. I am convinced that as long as we harbor in us feelings towards them, so long they will be our enemies, and the Lord will suffer them to afflict us. But now their game has gone, and they are left to starve. It is our duty to feed them. The Lord has given us ability to cultivate the ground and reap bountiful harvests. We have an abundance of food for ourselves and for the stranger. It is our duty to feed these poor ignorant Indians; we are living on their possessions and at their homes [so what else can we expect?]. Do we wish to do right? You answer, yes. Then let the Lamanites come back to their homes, where they were born and brought up. This is the land that they and their fathers have walked over and called their own; and they have just as good a right to call it theirs to-day as any people have to call any land their own. The Indians are far oftener, if not always, when differences of education and habits are included, more sinned against than sinners.169
[Take] these wild Indians; we call them savages; we call them heathens. Let yourselves be divested of prejudice . . . and let your minds be in open vision before the Almighty, seeing things as they are, [and] you will find that that very people know just as much about the Lord as anybody else.170
[The demands of the Indians] should be met with a spirit of liberality on the part of the General Government. . . . I have uniformly pursued a friendly course of policy towards them, feeling convinced, that independent of the question of exercising humanity towards so degraded and ignorant a race of people, it was manifestly more economical, and less expensive, to feed and clothe, than to fight them. . . . Doubtless, a vast deal of patience and forbearance would be required to carry out this policy, even if the Indians should consent to try it.171
“Toward the Indians, continue to exercise patience, charity, and forbearance; pray for them, and teach them also. We exhort you to feed and clothe them as heretofore, but never lose an opportunity of teaching them to work. Let us impart freely of such as have received.”
I am sorry that some of our brethren have been killed by the Indians, but am far more sorry that some of the Indians have been slain by the brethren [imagine that!]. I have often said, and I say again, if any person is to be killed for stealing, let that one be a white man, and not an Indian, for the white men know better, while Indians do not; and you must lay aside your angry feelings towards them, and cease wishing to kill them. . . . Any man who cheats a Lamanite should be dealt with more severely than for cheating a white man.172
The last few days the emissaries of darkness have been exulting in the creation of another Indian outbreak. [They would always raise these outbreaks, then blame them on the Mormons.] Another Indian outbreak incident, of course, by the Mormons. This time the plot was laid at Deep Creek. Our brethren, the Lamanites, had nothing to do with it. Thus far it has resulted in dispatching troops from California, Camp Douglas and other points to the seat of war. This shows how the ring in Salt Lake works to stir up.
He claims there was actually a ring. The Saints’ enemies had it very carefully worked out, and they never missed a chance. Think of the opposition; think of the fighting. There was tremendous power behind that opposition. He continues to comment on the Indian policy. How did he deal with a military minority?
I have saved the Government hundreds of thousands of dollars, by keeping the Indians peaceable in Utah. Hundreds of miles have the Indians travelled to see me, to know whether they might use up the emigrants, saying—”They have killed many of us, and they damn you and damn us, and shall we stand it?” I have always told them to hold on, to stop shedding blood, and to live in peace. . . . It is more than I can do to keep the Indians still under such outrageous treatment.173
There has been much prejudice raised against us on account of Indian depredations, notwithstanding the great trouble and expense to which we have been subjected in preventing them, and without which no person could have travelled across these mountains and plains. [If we hadn’t held the Indians down], what is the reason the Indians have acted so badly? Because of the practice, with many emigrants, of killing the Indians wherever they could find them. . . . In this, there is one man in the Senate of the United States who, I think, agrees with me, if there is nobody else; and that one is General Sam Houston. [He was a great friend of Brigham Young’s.] He has had experience, and has good sense. You will find as fine natural talent among these Indians as among any people; and often, when one of them, who has as kind a heart and good appearance as need be, walks up to an emigrant camp with kindly feelings, he is shot down.174
What a fine way to receive people. What can you expect of the Indians? “Has there been one treaty with the Indians fulfilled in good faith by the Government? If there is one, I wish you would let me know.”175 He was satisfied that among the redmen of the mountains and forests you could find as many good and honest persons as among the Anglo-Saxons.
The Indian policy, then, was one of coexistence. Of Chief Walker, Brigham said,
How many times have I been asked in the past week what I intend to do with [Chief] Walker? I say, Let him alone, severely. I have not made war on the Indians, nor am I calculating to do it. My policy is to give them presents, and be kind to them. Instead of being Walker’s enemy, I have sent him a great pile of tobacco to smoke when he is lonely in the mountains. He is now at war with the only friends he has upon this earth, and I want him to have some tobacco to smoke. . . . Let the Lord extend the hand of benevolence to brother Walker [and he always called him “Brother Walker”], and he will make you do it by other means than exhortations given in mildness. This very same Indian Walker has a mission upon him, and I do not blame him for what he is now doing: he is helping me to do the will of the Lord to this people, he is doing with a chastening rod what I have failed to accomplish with soft words, while I have been handing out my substance, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick. But this has no effect upon this people at all, my counsel has not been needed, so the Lord is making brother Walker an instrument to help me, and perhaps the means that he will use will have their due effect.176
I tell you, [Brother] Walker has not been the cause of the Indian war. But the Lord will work out the salvation of his people, if they do as they are told. I tell the brethren who live out from this city that the Indians are friendly and wish to make treaties.177
As human beings, the Indians also had weaknesses, and Brigham Young was not a sentimental fool. We should neither underestimate them nor imitate their weaknesses. “The Elders of Israel are either so fluctuating in their feelings, so unstable in their ways, or so ignorant of the Indian character, that the least mark of friendship manifested by these treacherous red men will lull all their fears.”178 Don’t let that happen. Remember, they play the game, the same game you do. They’re human beings too. Throw them entirely off their guard saying, “It is all right.” Wait a minute.
The Indians are very much as they say the whites are, that is, uncertain—not to be trusted [because they don’t trust us]. The whites may be uncertain, but I know the Indians are. [And so] I dislike to trust them far [right now, so don’t be completely disarmed; don’t let your good will become sentimentality.] When we first entered Utah, we were prepared to meet all the Indians in these mountains, and kill every soul of them if we had been obliged to do so. [Fortunately we didn’t have to do any of that.] This preparation secured us peace [for the time they needed it]. I would rather take my chance to-day for good treatment among Indians, than I would white men.179
If the inhabitants of this Territory . . . had never condescended to reduce themselves to the practices of the Indians . . . [this is not your culture at all. This is a good thing; he recognized that there is a difference. Don’t act like them. In that case, if they hadn’t done that, so many of our people went off and tried to act like Indians] there never would have been any trouble between us and our red neighbors. [This is the key to the whole of it.]180
To Walker, the chief, whom all California and New Mexico dreaded, I said, “It will just as sure kill as the world, if you live as we live.” Said he, “I want as good as Brigham, I want to eat as he does.” Said I, “Eat then, but it will kill you.” I told the same to Arapeen, Walker’s brother, [if you adopt our diet and our way of life, it will kill you].181
You’re not for that, Brigham said. “I am suspicious that this people do not possess the faith they should have, therefore I calculate to carry with me proper weapons of defence.”182 It’s a lamentable thing, regrettable, but if we lack the faith, it’s the next best thing.
But, lest you should not have faith, we have caused to be done that which has been done, in having this people prepared for any emergency that should arise. My advice is be on the watch all the time. Do not lie down, and go to sleep, and say all is well, lest in an hour when you think not, sudden destruction overtake you.183
This, of course, was in the midst of an Indian war, overconfidence in the other extreme. “You cannot, with my consent, go to any place, unless it is to a city, that is, or [to a place that] will be walled in.”184 He recommended that the Saints wall the cities—we still have Cedar Fort; Lehi was a walled town. The last remnants of the wall still stand. Payson was the last one of the walled cities.
“You are so instructed,” he said during 1853, “to see if you will do as you are told. Let your dwelling house be a perfect fort. From the day I lived where brother Joseph Smith lived, I have been fortified all the time so as to resist twenty men, if they should come to my house in the night, with an intent to molest my family, assault my person, or destroy my property.”185 He’d had enough experience with Joseph Smith to know that you had to be ready for the enemy. “But there’s no place for alarmism,” he counsels; “I know this people have suffered more by the contemplation of trouble, than they have when actually passing through it. As they have magnified future trouble almost infinitely beyond its real dimensions, so they have imagined to themselves a greater heaven than they can find in Zion, at its present stage of progression.”186 But things can be overdone in both extremes. There were many manic depressives among the Saints, who got panicky at the least sign of danger, thinking the millennium should be here when things started going well. Some members surmised that they were going to have trouble; they needed not expect any trouble except they took a course to bring it on themselves. They needed never expect to see sorrow unless their own conduct, conversation, acts brought it on them. “On the other hand, they no sooner discover an Indian in an hostile attitude, than the hue and cry is ‘We shall all be murdered immediately.’ “187 As soon as an Indian started behaving himself, they immediately went off guard and became all lovey-dovey, and opened themselves wide open to this man, who still suspected them. He didn’t know how to deal with these strange, volatile people. On the other hand, as soon as the Indian frowned, what happened? The human cried, ” ‘We shall all be murdered immediately.’ That is the kind of stability, the kind of unshaken self-command, the style of generalship and wisdom manifested by Elders in Israel.”188
This was the kind of man to have for a leader. Brigham Young also commented on the race crisis. As you can imagine, he believed strongly in the brotherhood and equality of man. It was an important principle with him, because we’re living in that third dimension which makes the gospel. He lived in a third-dimensional world; we live in a two-dimensional world. That’s why we have difficulty representing the gospel very well; we’ll always fail because ours is two-dimensional. The gospel has another dimension that other religions don’t have. You can’t interpret this dimension to other people unless they want to see it. One must see it in stereo. Brigham Young saw the world, the cosmos, in stereo. He saw that other dimension which leaders of the world today don’t see, which we don’t see ourselves. It’s rare, but when you do see it, it’s a real image, a real thing. When you live in that dimension, everything looks entirely different. He seems to be a man from another planet, a strange man that could do and say these things. He seemed to be equal to anything; he seemed to carry it off so easily. Of course the fact that he had a tremendous physique may have helped too. But he was very calm. When he was fifteen years older than I am, he didn’t have a gray hair. He died at the age of seventy-seven of a ruptured appendix, a thing that could be easily prevented and taken care of today, but doctors didn’t know what to do about it then. And they had nothing for mountain fever. They had nothing for the various diseases and plagues which the Saints suffered from, and Brigham had them again and again, yet he survived and accepted everything with his sweet, calm nature.
We’re always given a picture of Brigham Young the hard driver, because we can’t consider a person accomplishing what he did without being a bulldozer. He was anything but a bulldozer. He was the kindest gentleman. I know this from his wives, his daughters, his grand-daughters. I’ve heard it again and again from my grandmother; Brigham Young came into the house to be met there by a big feast for the President. He wanted bread and milk, his favorite dish, and he settled for that, while everybody else had the banquet. Everybody else had a good time; then he would dance until 3:00 in the morning. They said he was the last figure dowsing the campfire in the canyons, but when the Saints first went up there, he welcomed them all. Then some character appeared with a bugle and a list of events, and Brigham charged him. Brigham said they could blow the bugle all they wanted, but he’d do what he wanted to, so they started dancing. When at 10:00 the bugle blew, Brigham said, “Well, I’m going to go on dancing,” and so they all went on dancing until 3:00 in the morning.189 He didn’t like regimentation. He liked variety, differentness, everybody being themselves. What a marvelous man.
* This address was given 7 June 1967 at Brigham Young University.
1. See “Brigham Young as a Leader,” an address delivered on 6 June 1967 at Brigham Young University, pages 449—90 in this volume.
2. Cf. JD 17:51; 14:205.
3. JD 6:174.
4. JD 5:99.
5. MS 15:386.
6. JD 16:113.
7. MS 22:702.
8. MS 14:216.
9. MS 20:218.
10. NIbley’s address delivered on 8 June 1967 at Brigham Young University was “Brigham Young as an Educator.”
11. JD 13:149, 176.
12. MS 20:218.
13. JD 1:335.
14. JD 15:18.
15. Cf. JD 8:203.
16. Cf. JD 2:18—20; JD 3:5—6.
17. MS 17:675.
18. JD 31:573.
19. JD 31:573.
20. JD 13:215.
21. JD 12:33—34.
22. JD 5:228.
23. JD 5:229.
24. JD 10:329.
25. JD 1:361.
26. JD 10:204.
27. JD 15:123.
28. MS 6:197.
29. MS 6:197.
30. JD 7:9.
31. MS 17:674.
32. JD 4:38.
33. Cf. JD 4:267.
34. JD 4:267.
35. JD 14:93.
36. JD 2:314.
37. JD 2:314.
38. JD 4:267.
39. JD 3:257 (emphasis added).
40. JD 15:161.
41. Cf. JD 14:83: “‘Must we not have law?’ we have plenty of it, and sometimes we have a little too much. Legislators make too many laws; they make so many that the people do not know anything about them. Wise legislators will never make more laws than the people can understand.”
42. JD 13:242.
43. JD 15:161.
44. JD 2:310.
45. JD 4:284.
46. JD 9:105.
47. JD 4:284.
48. JD 10:223.
49. JD 10:212.
50. JD 7:134.
51. JD 9:121, 123.
52. JD 3:195.
53. JD 8:177.
54. MS 8:45.
55. JD 6:71.
56. JD 8:37.
57. JD 10:232.
58. JD 7:136.
59. JD 7:134.
60. JD 8:287.
61. JD 3:247.
62. JD 12:220.
63. JD 1:339.
64. JD 8:261.
65. JD 8:136.
66. JD 8:368.
67. JD 8:367.
68. JD 8:16.
69. JD 8:16.
70. JD 3:363.
71. JD 8:148.
72. JD 8:124.
73. JD 5:232.
74. JD 5:351.
75. JD 7:14.
76. JD 11:262—63.
77. JD 12:204.
78. JD 2:182.
79. JD 7:15.
80. JD 8:324.
81. JD 2:170.
82. JD 2:182.
83. JD 2:175.
84. JD 7:13.
85. JD 5:124.
86. JD 9:331.
87. JD 9:331.
88. JD 11:17.
89. JD 8:279.
90. League for Social Service, Ten Reasons Why Christians Cannot Fellowship the Mormon Church (Salt Lake City, UT: Kinsman, 1897).
91. Cf. JD 11:17—18: “When we were driven from Nauvoo, our Elders went to the East to lay our case before the judges, governors, and rulers of the different States to ask for any asylum; but none was offered us.”
92. JD 5:231—32.
93. JD 5:350.
94. JD 5:234.
95. JD 5:234.
96. JD 10:111.
97. JD 10:111.
98. JD 5:234.
99. JD 1:164.
100. JD 2:184.
101. JD 2:317.
102. JD 4:26.
103. JD 5:235.
104. Cf. JD 8:356—57.
105. JD 13:335.
106. JD 1:78.
107. JD 1:78.
108. JD 2:186.
109. JD 5:167.
110. JD 5:332.
111. JD 11:134.
112. JD 5:332.
113. JD 7:56.
114. JD 6:315.
115. JD 6:99.
116. JD 5:258.
117. JD 8:325.
118. JD 1:169.
119. JD 3:207.
120. JD 18:360.
121. JD 2:95.
122. JD 19:70.
123. JD 19:5.
124. JD 19:3.
125. JD 1:311.
126. JD 1:360.
127. JD 8:150.
128. JD 5:351.
129. JD 11:264.
130. JD 10:250.
131. JD 10:230.
132. JD 9:124.
133. JD 5:340.
134. JD 10:315.
135. JD 8:324.
136. JD 8:174.
137. JD 8:6—7.
138. JD 8:325.
139. JD 8:157.
140. JD 7:137.
141. JD 7:134.
142. JD 12:120.
143. MS 13:258.
144. JD 1:32—33.
145. MS 17:120.
146. JD 6:328.
147. MS 33:170.
148. JD 21:303.
149. JD 27:637.
150. JD 27:206.
151. JD 15:45 (supplement).
152. JD 11:279.
153. JD 11:279.
154. JD 2:142.
155. Hugh W. Nibley, “Jerusalem: In Christianity,” in Encyclopedia Judaica, 16 vols. (Jerusalem: Macmillan, 1972), 9:1570—75.
156. JD 2:141—42.
157. JD 2:141—42.
158. JD 12:38.
159. JD 11:294.
160. JD 8:195
161. JD 5:4.
162. JD 2:143.
163. JD 11:263.
164. JD 1:169.
165. Cf. JD 1:188—89.
166. JD 1:169.
167. JD 5:236.
168. JD 11:265.
169. JD 11:263—64.
170. JD 3:87.
171. MS 17:261.
172. MS 16:188.
173. JD 5:236.
174. JD 7:58.
175. JD 10:108.
176. JD 1:168—69.
177. JD 6:327.
178. JD 1:163.
179. JD 1:105.
180. JD 6:327.
181. JD 14:87.
182. JD 1:106.
183. JD 1:107.
184. JD 1:77.
185. JD 1:167.
186. JD 1:314—15.
187. JD 1:163.
188. JD 1:163.
189. MS 18:673—80; 22:699—702.