Thursday, December 31, 1970

the position of the Church with regard to the Negro (1969)

The following is a letter from the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the membership clarifying the confusion regarding the Church's position regarding the Civil Rights Movement. I am reprinting it here because it's hard to find elsewhere, and I find it a very interesting document in chronicling the Church's changing attitude toward African Americans.

December 15, 1969

To General Authorities, Regional Representatives of the Twelve, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, and Bishops

Dear Brethren:

In view of the confusion that has arisen, it was decided at a meeting of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to restate the position of the Church with regard to the Negro both in society and in the Church.

First, may we say that we know something of the sufferings of those who are discriminated against in a denial of their civil rights and Constitutional privileges. Our early history as a Church is a tragic story of persecution and oppression. Our people repeatedly were denied the protection of the law. They were driven and plundered, robbed and murdered by mobs, who were in many instances aided and abetted by those sworn to uphold the law. We as a people have experienced the bitter fruits of civil discrimination and mob violence.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States was divinely inspired, that it produced by "wise men" whom God raised up for this "very purpose," and that the principles embodied in the Constitution are so fundamental and important that, if possible, they should be extended "for the rights and protection" of all mankind.

In revelations received by the first prophet of the Church in this dispensation, Joseph Smith made it clear that it is "not right that any man should be in bondage one to another." These words were spoken prior to the civil war. From these and other revelations have sprung the Church's deep and historic concern with man's free agency and our commitment to the sacred principles of the Constitution.

It follows, therefore, that we believe the Negro, as well as those of other races should have his constitutional privileges as a member of society, and we hope members of the Church everywhere will do their part as citizens to see that these rights are held inviolate. Each citizen must have equal opportunities and protection under the law with reference to civil rights.

However, matters of faith, conscience, and theology are not within the purview of the civil law. The first amendment to the Constitution specifically provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

The position of THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints affecting those of the Negro race who choose to join the Church falls wholly within the category of religion. It has no bearing upon matters of civil rights. In no case or degree does it deny to the Negro his full privileges as a citizen of the nation.

This position has no relevancy whatever to those who do not wish to join the Church. Those individuals, we suppose, do not believe in the divine origin and nature of the Church, nor that we have the priesthood of God. Therefore, if they feel we have no priesthood, they should have no concern with any aspect of our theology on priesthood so long as that theology does not deny any man his constitutional privileges.
A word of explanation concerning the position of the Church:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owes its origin, its existence, and its hope for the future to the principle of continuous revelation. "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God."

From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding Presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny of our earthly parents Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which he has not made fully known to man. Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, "The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God .... "Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man's mortal existence, extending back to man's preexistent state. President McKay has also said,

"Sometime in God's eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the priesthood." Until God reveals his will in this matter, to him whom we sustain as a prophet, we are bound by that same will. Priesthood, when conferred on any man comes as a blessing from God, not of men. We feel nothing but love, compassion, and the deepest appreciation for the rich talents, endowments, and the earnest strivings of our Negro brothers and sisters. We are eager to share with men of all races the blessings of the gospel. We have no racially segregated congregations.

Were we the leaders of an enterprise created by ourselves and operated only according to our own earthly wisdom, it would be a simple thing to act according to popular will. But we believe that this work is directed by God and that the conferring of the priesthood must await his revelation. To do otherwise would be to deny the very premise on which the Church is established.

We recognize that those who do not accept the principle of modern revelation may oppose our point of view. We repeat that such would not wish for membership in the Church, and therefore the question of priesthood should hold no interest for them. Without prejudice they should grant us the privilege afforded under the Constitution to exercise our chosen form of religion, just as we must grant all others a similar privilege. They must recognize that the question of bestowing or withholding priesthood in the Church is a matter of religion and not a matter of constitutional right.

We extend the hand of friendship to men everywhere and the hand of fellowship to all who wish to join the Church and partake of the many rewarding opportunities to be found therein. We join with those throughout the world who pray that all of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ may in the due time of the Lord become available to men of faith everywhere. Until that time comes we must trust in God, in his wisdom, and in his tender mercy.

Meanwhile we must strive harder to emulate his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose new commandment it was that we should love one another. In developing that love and concern for one another, while awaiting revelations yet to come, let us hope that with respect to these religious differences, we may gain reinforcement for understanding and appreciation for such differences. They challenge our common similarities, as children of one Father, to enlarge the outreaching of our divine souls.

Faithfully your brethren,

/SS/David O. McKay
/SS/ Hugh B. Brown
/SS/ N. Eldon Tanner

Friday, December 25, 1970

Excerpt from Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price

Excerpt from
Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price
Hyrum L. Andrus
Chapter 12

First published in 1967

Hyrum L. Andrus taught Pearl of Great Price classes at Brigham Young University.

The former decree of God concerning the Negro [i.e. the one found in the Pearl of Great Price] has been reaffirmed in modern times. According to George Q. Cannon, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following doctrine: "That the seed of Cain could not receive the Priesthood nor act in any of the offices of the Priesthood until the seed of Abel should come forward and take precedence over Cain's off-spring." Other reports confirm the fact that Joseph Smith taught that the Negro cannot yet receive the priesthood. In May, 1879, President John Taylor and other prominent men in the Church who had known the Prophet personally discussed the status of the Negro. Among these men was Zebedee Coltrin, who was intimately associated with Joseph Smith and had been appointed by him a member of the First Council of Seventy, when that Council was organized in this dispensation. President Taylor opened the discussion with the comment:

Some parties have said to me that Zebedee Coltrin had talked to the Prophet Joseph Smith on this subject, and they said that he (Coltrin) thought it was not right for them [i.e., Negroes] to have the Priesthood. Whereupon, Joseph Smith said to him that Peter, on a certain occasion had a vision wherein he saw heaven open, and a certain vessel descended unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth, wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise Peter! Kill and eat, but Peter said, Not so Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common (speaking of the Gentiles).

President Taylor then asked Brother Coltrin, "Did the Prophet Joseph Smith ever make such a statement to you?"

Brother Coltrin, "No sir, he never said anything of the kind in his life to me."

President Taylor, "What did he say?"

Brother Coltrin, "The spring that we went up in Zion's Camp, in 1834, Brother Joseph sent Brother J. P. Greene and me out south to gather up means to assist in gathering out the Saints from Jackson County, Mo. On our return home, we got into a conversation about the Negro having the right to the Priesthood, and I took the side that he had no right. Brother Greene argued that he had. The subject got so warm between us that he said he would report me to Brother Joseph when we got home, for preaching false doctrine, which doctrine that I advocated was that the Negro could not hold the Priesthood. 'All right,' I said, 'I hope you will.' And when we got home to Kirtland, we both went in to Brother Joseph's office together, to make our returns; and Brother Greene was as good as his word, and reported to Brother Joseph that I had said that the Negro could not hold the Priesthood. Brother Joseph kind of dropped his head and rested it on his hand for a minute, and then said, 'Brother Zebedee is right, for the Spirit of God saith the Negro has no right nor cannot hold the Priesthood.' He made no reference to scripture at all. But such was his decision. I don't recollect ever having any conversation with him [on the subject] afterwards, but I have heard him say in public, that no person having the least particle of Negro blood can hold the Priesthood." . . .

President Abraham O. Smoot said, "D. W. Patten, Warren Parrish, and Thomas B. Marsh were laboring in the Southern States in 1835 and 1836. There were Negroes, who made application for baptism, and the question arose with them whether Negroes were entitled to hold the Priesthood; and by those brethren it was decided they would not confer the Priesthood until they had consulted the Prophet Joseph. Subsequently they communicated with him and his decision, as I understood, was they were not entitled to the Priesthood, nor yet to be baptized without the consent of their masters. In after years, when I became acquainted with Joseph myself in Far West, about the year 1838, I received from Joseph substantially the same instructions. It was on my application to him what should be done with the Negro in the South, as I was preaching to them. He said I could baptize them by consent of their masters, but not to confer the Priesthood upon them."

Those men who knew Joseph Smith and received their understanding of the priesthood and its rights from him taught the same doctrine that he expressed. Brigham Young stated: Cain conversed with his God every day, and knew all about the plan of creating this earth, for his father told him. But, for the want of humility, and through jealousy, and an anxiety to possess the kingdom, and to have the whole of it under his own control, and not allow any body else the right to say one word, what did he do? He killed his brother. The Lord put a mark on him. . . . When all the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood, and of coming into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received their resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity. He deprived his brother of the privilege of pursuing his journey through life, and of extending his kingdom by multiplying upon the earth; and because he did this, he is the last to share the joys of the kingdom of God.

The fact that descendants of Cain are presently denied the right to hold the priesthood is not based wholly upon the actions of their fathers. Deeper reasons go back into the pre-earth life, to the appointments that were made in sending spirits into the world to obtain bodies among the several families of the earth. Here one must understand the great doctrinal points taught in the Pearl of Great Price concerning the placement of man on earth. The problem must be viewed in light of the demands of eternal truth and justice, not merely in light of an immediate issue, for man is an eternal entity and God deals with him accordingly. In a letter to a student at Brigham Young University, President David O. McKay expressed his views on the subject as follows:

In your letter to me of October 28, 1947, you say that you and some of your fellow students have been "perturbed about the question of why the Negro race cannot hold the Priesthood."

In reply I send you the following thoughts that I expressed to a friend on the same subject:

Stated briefly your problem is simply this . . . Since, as Paul states, "the Lord hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth," why is there shown in the Church of Christ discrimination against the colored race? . . .

I believe, as you suggest, that the real reason dates back to our pre-existent life. This means that the true answer to your question (and it is the only one that has given me any satisfaction) has its foundations in faith . . . (1) Faith in a God of justice, (2) Faith in the existence of an eternal plan of salvation for all God's children. . . .

It was the Lord who said that Pharaoh, the first governor of Egypt, though a righteous man, blessed with the blessings of the earth, with the blessings of wisdom . . . "could not have the right of the Priesthood."

Now if we have faith in the justice of God, we are forced to the conclusion that this denial was not a deprivation of merited right. It may have been entirely in keeping with the eternal plan of salvation for all the children of God.

Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man's mortal existence, extending back to man's pre-existent state. . . .

Manifestly, from this revelation ("Abr. 3:22"Abr. 3:23Abraham 3:22-23) we may infer two things: first that there were among those spirits different degrees of intelligence, varying grades of achievement, retarded and advanced spiritual attainments; second that there were no national distinctions among these spirits such as Americans, Europeans, Asiatics, Australians, etc. Such "bounds of habitation" would have to be "determined" when the spirits entered upon their earthly existence or second estate. . . .

If in their eagerness to take upon themselves bodies, the spirits were willing to come through any lineage for which they were worthy, or to which they were attracted, then they were given the full reward of merit, and were satisfied, yes, even blessed.

Accepting this theory of life, we have a reasonable explanation of existing conditions in the habitations of man. How the law of spiritual attraction works between the spirit and the expectant parents has not been revealed, neither can finite minds fully understand. . . .

By the operation of some eternal law which men do not yet understand, spirits come through the parentage for which they are worthy—some as Bushmen of Australia, some as Solomon Islanders, some as Americans, as Europeans, as Asiatics, etc., with all the varying degrees of mentality and spirituality manifest in the parents of the different races that inhabit the earth.

Of this we may be sure, each was satisfied and happy to come through the lineage for which he or she was prepared.

The Priesthood was given to those chosen as leaders. There were many who could not receive it, yet who knew that it was possible for them at some time in the eternal plan to achieve that honor. Even those who knew that they would not be prepared to receive it during their mortal existence were content in the realization that they could attain every earthly blessing, progress intellectually and spiritually and possess to a limited degree the blessings of wisdom.

George Washington Carver was one of the noblest souls that ever came to earth. He held a close kinship with his Heavenly Father, and rendered a service to his fellow men such as few have ever excelled. For every righteous endeavor, for every good deed performed in his useful life, George Washington Carver will be rewarded, and so will every other man—red, white, black, or yellow; for God is no respecter of persons.

Sometime in God's eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the Priesthood. . . .

From a statement of the First Presidency to President Ernest L. Wilkinson of the Brigham Young University, the position of the Church may also be ascertained. On that occasion, they wrote:

The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the Priesthood at the present time. . . .

The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind; namely, that the conduct of spirits in the pre-mortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality, and that while the details of the principle have not been made known, the principle itself indicates that the coming to this earth and taking on mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the principle is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood, is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the Priesthood by Negroes.

Thursday, December 17, 1970

Gladys Knight 1954-1963

In 1955 at the age of eleven, while visiting Aunt Gladys near Detroit The Pips hooked up with Maurice King who taught them how to perform and got them their first professional gig singing the Parker House Sausage. They also recorded "Whistle My Love" for Brunswick (Decca) Records, but it went nowhere fast. Brenda Knight and Elenor Guest left the group. Edward Patten and Langston George joined The Pips.

Gladys was twleve years old in 1956 when The Pips joined the Supersonic Attractions tour with Jakie Wison and Sam Cooke so that they could get more performing experience during the summer when they didn't have school.

Gladys was thirteen years old when her daddy, suffering from extreme depression, moved out of the house and got an apartment to himself. Gladys mother worked two jobs. Brenda, Bubba and Gladys got part time jobs, but bills still went unpaid sometimes and utilitys were occassionlly shut off. In spite of all that, Gladys joined the track team, the choir, the yearbook staff and the cheerleading squad. She even joined her music teacher's jazz band and met Aretha Franklin for the first time, but all she really wanted to do was hang out with her friends.
,br> Gladys was fifteen years old when a serial rapist attacked her in her own bed one night. Thankfully, her brother Bubba was able to run him off before Gladys sutained any injuries other than a swollen lip, but the police never did catch that guy.

Gladys was sixteen years old when she began her senior year in high school. She was still singing with The Pips and the jazz band, and she was in love with Jimmy, a sax player in the jazz band.

After one particular gig a fellow named Fats Hunter asked them to stick around and sing something so that he could try out his new recordeing equipment. They recorded "Every Beat of My Heart," and were surprized when they heard it on the radion a couple of weeks later. Without a contract, Fats Hunter had released the record under his HumTom label and then sold the master to Vee Jay Records who sold lots of copies. The song made the top ten, but nobody paid The Pips; however, Fury Records heard the song and offered them a contract.

Gladys didn't want to go to New York to record the song for Fury Records. She had a track meet to throw javelin for, but she went. Since she was lead singer, Fury Records recommened they use the name Gladys Knight and The Pips. The record did very well, even competing against the illegal release. At one point the songs were on the charts at number 2 and number 3, but Fury didn't pay Gladys Knight and The Pips either. They claimed to have spent so much in recording and promoting there was nothing left to pay the artists. But, they got a gig at The Apollo.

In 1960, Gladys Knight found herself pregnant and married her boyfriend Jimmy in an informal ceremoy. Her brother Bubba gave her away. Jimmy joined Gladys Knight and The Pips on the road. Gladys met Tina Turner for the first time at the Howard Theater where Tina gave Gladys a real rock and roll make over. Tragically, Gladys miscarried in her first trimester.

In 1962, Gladys Knight and The Pips recored their first album for Fury Records. "Guess Who" and "Letter Full of Tears" made the Top Five on the charts, but they were still not getting paid. George Langston left the group to pursue a solo career, and they became a quartet. Gladys became pregnant again and left the group, too. The Pips went to New York and had some sucess on their own working as back up singers. On August 13, 1962, Little Jimmy was born.

Monday, November 23, 1970

Gladys Knight 1944-1953

May 28, 1944: Gladys Knight was born in Atlanta Georgia to Merald Woodrow Knight from Cordel, Georgia, son of a full-blooded Cherokee, and Sarah Elizabeth Woods from College Park, a suburb of Atlanta. She was named for an aunt who lived near Detroit. Gladys first home was in the Gray Street public housing projects at 224 Merritts Avenue near the Fox Theater. Her sister Brenda was three years old when Gladys was born, and her brother Merald Jr (Bubba) was just 16 months old.

When Gladys was only two years old, her brother would push her up high enough to get a handhold on the piano bench. Then they would both get to playing like they were child prodigies performing at Carnegie Hall.

At age three: Gladys' Uncle Alvin made a recording of Little Gladys singing the gospel hymn "Just a Closer Walk with Thee." Gladys' daddy was able to move the family to their first regular home by working two jobs. On August 22, 1947, Gladys brother David was born.

At age four: Gladys had her first recital as the youngest member of the Sunbeam Children's Choir at the Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. She sang "Ave Maria" in Latin.

At age five: Gladys was baptized at Mount Moriah Baptist Church. Gladys enjoyed duplicating the recipes from her Little Girl's Cookbook. Once, after her mother had made a cake, Gladys and Bubba fought over the bowl. Gladys settled on the knife, but when her brother tried to protect her from cutting her tongue on the blade, she fell and nearly slit her own throat.

Before the age of six: Gladys began performing and touring as a guest soloist with the Mount Moriah Baptis Church Choir and the Morris Brown College Choir in Atlanta, Georgia. She once pondered the signs over two water fountans that said WHITE and COLORED, and she asked her mother, "Momma, what color is water?"

Age eight: Gladys Knight won the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour contest on national television by singing Brahms's "Lullaby" and Nat King Cole's "Too Young." The prize: $2,000. It was a very big deal for a little black girl to beat out everybody else on one of the most popular prime time shows.

December 4, 1952: Bubba's tenth birthday party leads to an impromptu talent show. Brenda, Bubba and Gladys sang with their cousins, Eleanor and William Guest. They sounded really good, and Gladys' mother suggested they form a group. They rehearsed every week. Their cousin James Woods agreed to be their manager. He had connections in the local club scene and was known as Pip, so they became The Pips. The Pips first big gig was winning the talent show at the El Morocco. The prize: a two-week contract to perform at the Royal Peacock - $10 a night for two shows a night. They got great exposure and lots of invitations to sing at other clubs.

Sunday, March 1, 1970

Defend the oppressed

History of the Church Volume 6 pages 293-295

[General Conference Minutes of the Church, April, 1844.]

Elder John Taylor [of the twelve], being called upon to address the congregation, said—It gives me pleasure to meet and associate with so large an assemblage of the Saints. I always feel at home among the brethren. I consider them the honorable of the earth; and if I can do anything to conduce to their happiness, or that will in anywise tend to their edification, I am satisfied.

I therefore address this congregation with cheerfulness and pleasure, and if by unfolding any of the principles of truth that I am in possession of, or laying before you anything pertaining to the kingdom—if my ideas will enlarge your minds, or produce beneficial results to any, I shall consider myself on this, as on all other occasions, amply repaid.

6 -- 293
Many things have been spoken by Elder Rigdon concerning the early history of this Church. There is no person who has searched the oracles of eternal truth, but his mind will be touched with the remarks made by our venerable friend, which unfold the dispensation of Jehovah, and have a tendency to produce the most thrilling feelings in the

in the bosoms of many who are this day present, and to promote our general edification. He traces with pleasure on the historic page—the rise of nations, kingdoms and empires. Historians dwell with great minuteness on the heroic deeds, the chivalrous acts, the dangers and deliverances, the tact, bravery, and heroism of their chieftains, generals and governments.

We, as Republicans, look back to the time when this nation was under the iron rule of Great Britain, and groaned under the power, tyranny and oppression of that powerful nation. We trace with delight the name of a Washington, a Jefferson, a LaFayette, and an Adams, in whose bosoms burned the spark of liberty. These themes are dwelt upon with delight by our legislators, our governors and presidents; they are subjects, which fire our souls with patriotic ardor.

But if these things animate them so much, how much more great, noble and exalted are the things laid before us! They were engaged in founding kingdoms and empires that were destined to dissolution and decay; and although many of them were great, formidable and powerful, they now exist only in name. Their cloud-capped towers, their solemn temples, are dissolved, and nothing now remains of their former magnificence or ancient grandeur but a few dilapidated buildings and broken columns. A few shattered fragments remain to tell to this and to other generations the perishable nature of earthly pomp and worldly glory.

They were engaged in founding empires and establishing kingdoms and powers that had in themselves the seeds of destruction, and were destined to decay. We are laying the foundation of a kingdom that shall last forever—that shall bloom in time and blossom in eternity. We are engaged in a greater work than ever occupied the attention of mortals. We live in a day that prophets and kings desired to see, but died without the sight.

When we hear the history of the rise of this kingdom from one who has been with it from its infancy—from the lips of our venerable friend who has taken an active part in all the history of the Church, can we be surprised if he should feel animated, and that his soul should burn with heavenly zeal? We see in him a man of God who can contemplate the glories of heaven, the visions of eternity, and yet who looks forward to the opening glories which the great Elohim has manifested to him pertaining to righteousness and peace—a man who now beholds the things roll on which he has long since beheld in prophetic vision.

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Most men have established themselves in authority by laying desolate other kingdoms and the destruction of other powers. Their kingdoms have been founded in blood, and supported in tyranny and oppression. The greatest chieftains of the earth have obtained their glory—if glory it can be called—by blood, carnage and ruin. One nation has been built up at the expense and ruin of another and one man has been made at the expense of another; and yet these great men were called honorable for their inglorious deeds of rapine. They have slain their thousands, and caused the orphans to weep and the widows to mourn.

Men did these things because they could do it—because they had power to desolate nations, and spread terror and desolation. They have made themselves immortal as great men. The patriots of this country had indeed a laudable object in view—a plausible excuse for the course they took. They stood in defense of their rights, liberty and freedom. But where are now those principles of freedom? Where are the laws that protect all men in their religious opinions? Where the laws that say, "A man shall worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience? What say ye, ye Saints—ye who are exiles in the land of liberty? How came you here? Can you in this land of equal rights return in safety to your possessions in Missouri? No. You are exiles from thence, and there is no power, no voice, and no arm to redress your grievance. Is this the gracious boon for which your fathers fought and struggled and died? Shades of the venerable dead could you but gaze upon this scene, and witness tens of thousands of Americans in exile on Columbia's soil—if pity could touch your bosoms, how you would mourn for the oppressed! If indignation, how would you curse the heartless wretches that have so desecrated and polluted the temple of liberty? "How has the gold become dim, and the fine gold, how has it changed." Let it not be told among the monarchs of Europe, lest they laugh and say, "Ha; so would we have it."

Ye Saints, never let it go abroad that ye are exiles in the land of liberty, lest ye disgrace your republic in the eyes of the nations of the earth; but tell it to those who robbed and plundered and refused to give you your rights. Tell your rulers that all their deeds of fame are tarnished, and their glory is departed.

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Are we now, indeed, in a land of liberty, of freedom, of equal rights? Would to God I could answer, Yes. But no, no, I cannot! They have robbed us, we are stripped of our possessions, many of our friends are slain, and our government says, "Your cause is just, but we can do nothing for you."

Hear it, ye great men, we are here in exile! Here are thousands of men in bondage in a land of liberty—of freedom! If ye have any patriotism, shake off your fetters and come and proclaim us free, and give us our rights. I speak of this government as being one of the best of governments—as one of the greatest and purest; and yet, what a melancholy picture! O ye venerable fathers who fought for your liberty, blush for your children, and mourn, mourn over your country's shame! We are now talking about a government which sets herself up as a pattern for the nations of the earth, and yet, oh, what a picture! If this is the best, the most patriotic, the most free, what is the situation of the rest?

Here we speak with national pride of a Washington, a LaFayette, a Monroe and a Jefferson, who fought for their liberties, achieved one of the greatest victories ever won; and scarcely has one generation passed away before fifteen thousand citizens petition government for redress of their wrongs, and they turn a deaf ear to their cry.

Let us compare this with the Church of Christ. Fourteen years ago a few men assembled in a log cabin; they saw the visions of heaven, and gazed upon the eternal world; they looked through the rent vista of futurity, and beheld the glories of eternity; they were planting those principles which were concocted in the bosom of Jehovah; they were laying a foundation for the salvation of the world, and those principles which they then planted have not yet begun to dwindle; but the fire still burns in their bones; the principles are planted in different nations and are wafted on every breeze.

When I gaze upon this company of men, I see those who are actuated by patriotic and noble principles, who will stand up in defense of the oppressed, of whatever country, nation, color or clime. I see it in their countenances. It is planted by the Spirit of God. They have received it from the great Elohim, and all the power or influence of mobs, priestcraft or corrupt men cannot quench it. It will burn. It is comprehensive as the designs of God, and as expansive as the universe and reaches to the entire world. No matter whether it was an Indian, a Negro or any other man or set of men that are oppressed, you would stand forth in their defense.

I say unto you, continue to cherish those principles. Let them expand. And if the tree of liberty has been blasted in this nation—if it has been gnawed by worms, and already blight has overspread it, we will stand up in defense of our liberties, and proclaim ourselves free in time and in eternity.

Lynch law will not do in Nauvoo

History of the Church Volume 6 Page 284-285

6 -- 284
Monday, April 1, 1844. —In the courtroom in the Mansion, Mr. J. Easton was brought up as being accessory to whipping Chism, [a Negro]. Referred the case to Alderman Wells. On investigation, it appeared to the satisfaction of the court that he had been on trial for the same offense before Robert D. Foster, and acquitted.

I extract from the Neighbor: —

Comment on the Negro Chism's Case.

After the court dismissed the case, General Smith fearlessly stated that he believed that it was a plot on the part of those who were instrumental in getting up the previous trial to thwart the ends of justice and screen the prisoner from the condemnation he justly deserves. Mr. Foster then stated, by way of an apology, that at the time he issued the warrant he did not know that the prisoner was under an arrest, or that there was any process out against him.

We hope, for the honor of such a man as Mr. Foster, that his statement is true. Mr. Foster, however, called upon one of his jurors, Mr. Carn, to corroborate what he had said; but, to our astonishment, he replied that when Mr. Foster summoned him to appear and act as a juryman, he was not informed what case he was to act upon, nor did he learn until he entered the office, where he acted according to the evidence given; but believed then, as well as now, that it was a sham trial, and a mere mockery of justice. We state facts as they are, and let the public judge for themselves.

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The statement of the Negro was that Messrs. Easton, Townsend, and Lawyer W. H. J. Mart were the persons engaged in this diabolical affair. Mr. Gibbs, one of the witnesses against Townsend, believed the above persons were engaged in it; but as a Negro knows nothing in this state, and Mr. Gibbs could not positively swear to it, of course we don't know; but we have our opinion, and so have the public. We don't remember ever having seen more indignation manifest than was manifested on this occasion, and the public mind is not satisfied at the turn affairs have taken. Lynch law will not do in Nauvoo, and those who engage in it must expect to be visited by the wrath of an indignant people, not according to the rule of Judge Lynch, but according to law and equity.

It was thought best to acquit Easton and leave the case to the Circuit Court

Saturday, February 28, 1970

They have souls

History of the Church, volume 5, pages 216-209

Monday, [January,] 2, [1843]. —After breakfasting with Judge Adams, I prophesied, in the name of the Lord, that I should not go to Missouri dead or alive. At half-past nine a.m., repaired to the courtroom; and at ten, Judge Pope took his seat on the bench, accompanied by several ladies.

My case was called up, when Mr. Lamborn, the attorney general of Illinois, requested the case to be continued till the next day, and Wednesday morning was set for my trial. My attorney, Mr. Butterfield, filed some objections to points referred to in the habeas corpus, and, half-past ten, I repaired to the Senate lobby, and had conversation with several gentlemen. Dined at the American House. As we rose from table, Judge Brown invited me to his room, and informed me he was about publishing a history of Illinois, and wished me to furnish a history of the rise and progress of the Church of Latter-day Saints to add to it.

5 -- 217
At half-past one p. m. returned to General Adams. A gentleman from St. Louis told General Law that the general impression was that Smith was innocent, and it would be a kind of murder to give him up—that "he ought to be whipped a little and let go." It was evident that prejudice was giving way in the public mind.

At four, Mr. Lamborn, Mr. Prentice, the marshal, and some half dozen others called to see me. The marshal said it was the first time during his administration that the ladies had attended court on a trial. A peculiarly pleasant and conciliatory feeling prevailed in the company, and the marshal invited me to a family dinner, when I should be freed.

At five went to Mr. Sellars' with Elders Hyde and Richards. Elder Hyde inquired the situation of the Negro. I replied, “They came into the world slaves, mentally and physically. Change their situation with the whites, and they would be like them. They have souls, and are subjects of salvation. Go into Cincinnati or any city, and find an educated Negro, who rides in his carriage, and you will see a man who has risen by the powers of his own mind to his exalted state of respectability. The slaves in Washington are more refined than many in high places, and the black boys will take the shine off many of those they brush and wait on.”

Elder Hyde remarked, "Put them on the level, and they will rise above me." I replied, “If I raised you to be my equal, and then attempted to oppress you, would you not be indignant and try to rise above me? As did Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and many others, who said I was a fallen Prophet, and they were capable of leading the people, although I never attempted to oppress them, but had always been lifting them up? Had I anything to do with the Negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization.”

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Because faith is wanting, the fruits are. No man since the world was had faith without having something along with it. The ancients quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, women received their dead, &c. By faith the worlds were made. A man who has none of the gifts has no faith; and he deceives himself, if he supposes he has. Faith has been wanting, not only among the heathen, but in professed Christendom also, so that tongues, healing, prophecy, and prophets and apostles, and all the gifts and blessings have been wanting.

Some of the company thought I was not a very meek Prophet; so I told them: "I am meek and lowly in heart." And will personify Jesus for a moment, to illustrate the principle, and cried out with a loud voice, "Woe unto you, ye doctors; woe unto you, ye lawyers; woe unto you, ye scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites!" &c. But you cannot find the place where I ever went that I found fault with their food, their drink, their house, their lodgings; no, never; and this is what is meant by the meekness and lowliness of Jesus.

Mr. Sollars stated that James Mullone, of Springfield, told him as follows:—"I have been to Nauvoo, and seen Joe Smith, the Prophet: he had a gray horse, and I asked him where he got it; and Joe said, "You see that white cloud." "Yes." "Well, as it came along, I got the horse from that cloud." This is a fair specimen of the ten thousand foolish lies circulated by this generation to bring the truth and its advocates into disrepute.

What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world. But, said Mr. Sollars, "May I not repent and be baptized, and not pay any attention to dreams, visions, and other gifts of the Spirit?" I replied: "Suppose I am traveling and am hungry, and meet with a man and tell him I am hungry, and he tells me to go yonder. There is a house of entertainment, go and knock, and you must conform to all the rules of the house, or you cannot satisfy your hunger. Knock, call for food, sit down and eat; —and I go and knock, and ask for food, and sit down to the table, but do not eat, shall I satisfy my hunger? No. I must eat. The gifts are the food; and the graces of the Spirit are the gifts of the Spirit. When I first commenced this work, and had got two or three individuals to believe, I went about thirty miles with Oliver Cowdery, to see them. We had only one horse between us. When we arrived, a mob of about one hundred men came upon us before we had time to eat, and chased us all night; and we arrived back again a little after daylight, having traveled about sixty miles in all, and without food. I have often traveled all night to see the brethren; and, when traveling to preach the Gospel among strangers, have frequently been turned away without food."

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Thus the evening was spent in conversation and teaching, and closed by singing and prayer, when we parted, and Elders Hyde, Richards and myself lay down upon a bed on the floor, and enjoyed refreshing rest till morning.

Tuesday, February 10, 1970

The Prophet's Views on Abolition

History of the Church, Volume 2 pages 436-440

Saturday, [April] 9 [1836]—Myself and the principal heads of the Church, accompanied the wise men of Zion, namely, Bishop Partridge and his counselors, Isaac Morley and John Corrill, and President W. W. Phelps, on their way home, as far as Chardon; and after staying with them all night, blessed them in the morning, and returned to Kirtland.

Soon after I wrote an article for the Messenger and Advocate, which was published in the April number as follows: —

The Prophet's Views on Abolition.

Brother Oliver Cowdery,

DEAR SIR:—This place [Kirtland] having recently been visited by a gentleman who advocated the principles or doctrines of those who are called Abolitionists, and his presence having created an interest in that subject, if you deem the following reflections of any service, or think they will have a tendency to correct the opinions of the Southern public, relative to the views and sentiments I entertain, as an individual, and which I am able to say from personal knowledge are the sentiments of others, you are at liberty to give them publicity in the columns of the Advocate. In one respect I am prompted to this course in consequence of many Elders having gone into the Southern States, besides there being now many in that country who have already embraced the fullness of the Gospel, as revealed through the Book of Mormon. I have learned by experience that the enemy of truth does not slumber, nor cease his exertions to bias the minds of communities against the servants of the Lord, by stirring up the indignation of men upon all matters of importance or interest; therefore I fear that the sound might go out, that "an Abolitionist" had held forth several times to this community, and that the public feeling was not aroused to create mobs or disturbances, leaving the impression that all he said was concurred in, and received as Gospel, and the word of salvation. I am happy to say that no violence, or breach of the public peace, was attempted; so far from this, all, except a very few, attended to their own vocations, and left the gentleman to hold forth his own arguments to nearly naked walls. I am aware that many, who profess to preach the Gospel, complain against their brethren of the same faith, who reside in the South, and are ready to withdraw the hand of fellowship, because they will not renounce the principle of slavery, and raise their voice against every thing of the kind. This must be a tender point, and one which should call forth the candid reflections of all men, and more especially before they advance in an opposition calculated to lay waste the fair states of the South, and let loose upon the world a community of people, who might, peradventure, overrun our country, and violate the most sacred principles of human society, chastity and virtue.

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No one will pretend to say that the people of the free states are as capable of knowing the evils of slavery, as those who hold slaves. If slavery be an evil, who could we expect would first learn it: Would the people of the free states, or the people of the slave states? All must readily admit, that the latter would first learn this fact. If the fact were learned first by those immediately concerned, who would be more capable than they of prescribing a remedy? And besides, are not those who hold slaves, persons of ability, discernment and candor? Do they not expect to give an account at the bar of God for their conduct in this life? It may no doubt with propriety be said that many who hold slaves live without the fear of God before their eyes; but the same may be said of many in the free states. Then who is to be the judge in this matter? So long, then, as the people of the free states, are not interested in the freedom of the slaves, in any other way than upon the mere abstract principles of equal rights, and of the Gospel; and are ready to admit that there are men of piety, who reside in the South, who are immediately concerned, and until they complain and call for assistance, why not cease this clamor, and no further urge the slave to acts of murder, and the master to vigorous discipline, rendering both miserable, and unprepared to pursue that course which might otherwise lead them both to better their conditions? I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall.

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And further, what benefit will it ever be to the slaves for persons to run over the free states, and excite indignation against their masters in the minds of thousands and tens of thousands, who understand nothing relative to their circumstances, or conditions? I mean particularly those who have never traveled in the South, and who in all their lives have scarcely ever seen a Negro.

How any community can ever be excited with the chatter of such persons, boys and others, who are too indolent to obtain their living by honest industry, and are incapable of pursuing any occupation of a professional nature, is unaccountable to me; and when I see persons in the free states, signing documents against slavery, it is no less in my mind, than an army of influence, and a declaration of hostilities, against the people of the South. What course can sooner divide our union?

After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject, I do not doubt, but those who have been forward in raising their voices against the South, will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling, unkind, and wholly unacquainted with the Gospel of Christ. It is my privilege then to name certain passages from the Bible, and examine the teachings of the ancients upon the matter as the fact is uncontrovertible that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the Holy Bible, pronounced by a man who was perfect in his generation, and walked with God. And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude. "And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant" (Gen. ix: 25, 26).

Trace the history of the world from this notable event down to this day, and you will find the fulfillment of this singular prophecy. What could have been the design of the Almighty in this singular occurrence is not for me to say; but I can say, the curse is not yet taken off from the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before Him; and those who are determined to pursue a course, which shows an opposition, and a feverish restlessness against the decrees of the Lord, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do His own work, without the aid of those who are not dictated by His counsel.

2 -- 439
I must not pass ever a notice of the history of Abraham, of whom so much is spoken in the Scripture. If we can credit the account, God conversed with him from time to time, and directed him in the way he should walk, saying, I am the Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect." Paul says the Gospel was preached to this man. And it is further said, that he had sheep and oxen, men-servants and maidservants, etc. From this I conclude, that if the principle had been an evil one, in the midst of the communications made to this holy man, he would have been instructed to that effect, and if he was instructed against holding men servants and maid-servants, he never ceased to do it; consequently must have incurred the displeasure of the Lord, and thereby lost His blessings; which was not the fact. Some may urge that the names man servant and maid-servant, only mean hired persons, who were at liberty to leave their masters or employers at any time. But we can easily settle this point, by turning to the history of Abraham's descendants, when governed by a law from the mouth of Jehovah Himself. I know that when au Israelite had been brought into servitude, in consequence of debt, or otherwise, at the seventh year he went from the task of his former master, or employer; but to no other people or nation was this granted in the law of Israel. And if after a man had served six years, he did not wish to be free, then the master was to bring him unto the judges—bore his ear with an awl, and that man was "to serve him forever." The conclusion I draw from this, is, that this people were led and governed by revelation, and if such a law was wrong, God only is to be blamed, and abolitionists are not responsible.

Now, before proceeding any farther, I wish to ask one or two questions: Were the Apostles men of God, and did they preach the Gospel? I have no doubt that those who believe the Bible, will admit that they were; and that they also knew the mind and will of God concerning what they wrote to the churches, which they were instrumental in building up. This being admitted, the matter can be put to rest without much argument, if we look at a few items in the New Testament. Paul says: "Servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye service as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall be received of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven: neither is there respect of persons with him" (Eph, vi: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Here is a lesson, which might be profitable for all to learn; and the principle upon which the Church was anciently governed, is so plainly set forth, that an eye of truth might see and understand. Here certainly, are represented the master, and servant; and so far from instructions to the servant to leave his master, he is commanded to be in obedience, as unto the Lord; the master in turn, is required to treat him with kindness before God; understanding. at the same time, that he is to give an account. The hand of fellowship is not withdrawn from him in consequence of his having servants.

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The same writer, in his first epistle to Timothy, the sixth chapter, and the first five verses, says, —"Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." This is so perfectly plain, that I see no need of comment. The Scripture stands for itself; and I believe that these men were better qualified to teach the will of God than all the abolitionists in the world.

Before closing this communication, I beg leave to drop a word to the traveling Elders. You know, brethren, that great responsibility rests upon you; and that you are accountable to God, for all you teach the world. In my opinion, you will do well to search the Book of Covenants, in which you will see the belief of the Church, concerning masters and servants. All men are to be taught to repent; but we have no right to interfere with slaves, contrary to the mind and will of their masters. In fact it would be much better, and more prudent, not to preach at all to slaves, until after their masters are converted, and then teach the masters to use them with kindness; remembering that they are accountable to God, and the servants are bound to serve their masters with singleness of heart, without murmuring.

I do most sincerely hope that no one who is authorized from this Church to preach the Gospel, will so far depart from the Scriptures, as to be found stirring up strife and sedition against our brethren of the South. Having spoken frankly and freely, I leave all in the hands of God, who will direct all things for His glory, and the accomplishment of His work. Praying that God may spare you to do much good in this life, I subscribe myself your brother in the Lord,