The John Taylor Papers, by Samuel W. & Raymond W. Taylor Volume I, The Apostle

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The John Taylor Papers, by Samuel W. & Raymond W. Taylor

Volume I, The Apostle

Volume II, The President

* * *



Records of the Last Utah Pioneer

By Samuel W. and Raymond W. Taylor

Volume I, 18361877


Table of Contents



1954 Stockbridge Ave.

Redwood City, California 94061





INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3


1 A Stranger at Hamilton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

2 Darkness at Kirtland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

3 The Rich Land of Missouri . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

4 Without Purse or Scrip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

5 Nauvoo, the Beautiful and the Doomed . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

6 Camp of Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

7 The Joint Stock Scandal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105

8 First Emigration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121

9 The Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133

10 Three Ministers of Boulogne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145

11 The Sour Sugar Beet Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166

12 "There's a Good Time Coming, Saints" . . . . . . . . . . . . 176

13 "The Bullets in Me Yet Hurt" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200

14 "The World Rages" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222

15 The Mormon Question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249

16 "The United States vs. the Church of

Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints" . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269

17 The "Black Book" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296

18 "A Solemn Day for Israel" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347


Although not cited in footnotes, some sources of material should be

acknowledged with gratitude and thanks. Of great value was Paul Anthon

Nielson's Annotated Bibliography of the Work of President John Taylor, listing

308 published writings and discourses.

Of help also was the carefully edited compilation by G. Homer Durham, The

Gospel Kingdom. Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor,

Third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, Salt Lake,


The magazine Truth (Salt Lake, 193556) provided material not available


The authors wish to take the opportunity to thank the many people who

generously contributed material. To list them all by name would be impossible

(a reason being that Raymond W. Taylor, who did the research, died before this

volume was completely compiled.) But we will acknowledge the warm and generous

cooperation of four major contributors: Church Historian, Leonard J.

Arrington, Church Historian's Office; Director Everett L. Cooley, Special

Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah; Director Chad Flake,

Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University; and

Director Charles S. Peterson, Utah State Historical Societytogether, of

course, with their most helpful staffs.


CHC Roberts, B. H., A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of

Latterday Saints. Century One. Six volumes. Salt Lake, 1930.

DHC History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, by Joseph

Smith; edited by B. H. Roberts. Known as Documentary History of the

Church. Seven volumes.

JD Journal of Discourses; 26 volumes. Liverpool, 18541886.

JH Journal History, maintained at Church Historical Department.

MS The Latterday Saints Millennial Star. Manchester and Liverpool,


PD Three Nights' Public Discussion . . . at Boulognesurmer, France.

Liverpool, 1850.

T&S Times and Seasons, Nauvoo, Illinois, 18391846.

* * * * *


Here, primarily in his own words, is the life story of President John

Taylor, the last Mormon pioneer. He was the final man in authority who held

fast to the original concepts of the Society of the Saints.

Taylor was prominent in Mormon affairs for a period of 51 years. During

his final decade he served as leader and as President of the Church of Jesus

Christ of Latterday Saints. He was known as "Champion of Rights," and

"Defender of Liberty," because of his inherent respect of individual freedom.

His own motto was, "The Kingdom of God or Nothing." He made absolutely no

compromise in striving for that goal.

John Taylor, an Englishman, was a lay Methodist minister at Toronto in

May, 1836, when he was converted through the efforts of a Mormon missionary,

Parley Pratt. At this time the Church was just six years old. He joined the

"gathering of Zion" at Kirtland, Ohio, the following year, at the time of the

first great apostacy within the Church, which threatened its very existence.

Even Parley Pratt was floundering in darkness. John Taylor's defense of Joseph

Smith during a bitter wrangle in the Kirtland Temple brought him recognition

and was the beginning of a deep personal friendship with the Prophet.

In his letters, journals, published work and sermons, John Taylor left a

most vivid account of participation in a half century of dramatic events. He

wrote the first account of the persecutions in Missouri. He ghosted the

adventures of the illiterate Porter Rockwell's imprisonment and escape from a

Missouri dungeon. His account of the martyrdom at Carthage Jail, when Joseph

Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered, and Taylor himself was shot five

times, has become a classic. As the fighting [4] editor of the Nauvoo Neighbor

and the Times and Seasons, and again while publishing The Mormon in New York's

newspaper row, he traded blow for blow with the Gentile press. He never was on

the defensive. Instead of justifying the accusations against Mormonism, John

Taylor called upon the outside world to repent. Brigham Young called him "the

strongest editor who ever wrote."

In his defense of individual liberties, Taylor was far ahead of his time.

As early as 1856 he sponsored the rights of women in The Mormon, in a day when

a wife was virtually a slave to her husband, with no share of his property and

no claim, even, to her own children.

Taylor pointed out that while the U.S. Constitution was an inspired

document, its framers "were not legislating for the world, nor forming

compacts for any other people than their own. They did not even prohibit

slavery. Their compact was simply with the Caucasian race . . . not the Negro,

not the Indians, not the Asiatic or Chinese, but for the white."

During the Utah War of 1857, he was called "a modern Joshua," ordering

the sun to stand still while he demolished the enemy. During an impassioned

discourse to the Saints, Brigham pulled his coattail to counsel moderation.

"Let go of me!" Taylor cried. "The bullets in me still hurt!"

Time and again he took up his pen in defense of the Saints. The most

notable event was the TaylorColfax "Debate", during which he and the

VicePresident of the United States traded thunderbolts in the nation's press.

The LDS historian, B. H. Roberts, said that, "Taking it all in all, this is

doubtless the most important discussion in the history of the Church."

While John Taylor was as stubborn a man who ever lived, one who declared

that he wouldn't be a slave to anyone, not even God, his pugnacious

temperament was [5] warmed by a pixie sense of humor. At dinners with Joseph

Smith's friends in the Mansion House at Nauvoo, John Taylor acted as

toastmaster and master of ceremonies, cracking up the audience with pithy

oneliners. He loved tall tales, and joined Joseph in practical jokes. As

editor of the Nauvoo Neighbor and Times and Seasons, he soberly published news

items about mice who sang popular songsone in New York, others in Boston and

London. You can be sure he was drawing the long bow, as when telling about a

woodcarver who lost a leg, but whittled a replacement so realistic that when

it got wet during a storm, he caught cold. There also was the rooster who

crowed prematurely, causing the sun to rise an hour early. When a farmer's

wife died, he reported, sympathetic neighbors called around with their

daughters. But when his cow died, nobody brought around a calf. Everyone, he

pointed out, could poke a fire better than you could.

Upon assuming leadership of the Church following Brigham Young's death,

Taylor immediately abolished the numbered ballot and other curtailments of

individual liberties. He initiated a renaissance under a liberal

administration that saw the greatest cultural flowering in the history of the

Church. This culminated in the great Jubilee Conference of 1880.

As President, John Taylor issued the first American edition of the Pearl

of Great Price, and wrote his Mediation and Atonement of Our Lord and Savior

Jesus Christ. This book quietly demolished the AdamGod doctrine and, in

effect, restored Christianity to the Church.

Being a writer himself, and having been eyewitness to events during

virtually the entire pioneer period, he realized the inadequacy of official

Church history at that time. So he went outside to enlist the very finest

talent. He invited H. H. Bancroft, the prestigious historian, to write the

History of Utah as a volume of his monumental works. He supplied Bancroft with

needed material, for the first and last time opening the church archives to an

[6] outsider. This collection, now at the Bancroft Library at Berkeley, is

still being mined by scholars. He gave Bancroft a free handover the

objections of the church historian, Orson Prattand the History of Utah

became a landmark work which has provided the framework for all subsequent

history. We could not have had the Documentary History nor the Comprehensive

History, as they now exist, except that Bancroft had blazed the trail.

Taylor sponsored such works as Tyler's History of the Mormon Battalion

and Tullidge's History of Salt Lake City. He helped edit and compile Parley

Pratt's Autobiography, which, still in print after a century, is the finest

missionary book in our literature.

It is ironical that the cultural renaissance under John Taylor's

leadership coincided with the overwhelming witch hunt concerning plural

marriage. Oppression reached the point where Utah Territory was ruled by

carpetbaggers from Washington, while hostile Federal judges cooperated with

the Gentile "ring" in badgering the most prominent and respected Mormons of

the Territory. Many men "took a mission" to safer climes. Others disappeared

into the wellorganized underground. Pregnant plural wives went underground,

to bear their babies outside Utah. (None of my mother's eight children had a

birth certificate.) The Utah prison became known as the most exclusive social

club of Deseret. President John Taylor himself administered Church affairs

from various underground stations during the final two and a half years of his

life. Roberts called him a "double martyr," once for Carthage Jail, and again

for his incarceration during his selfimposed exile. This was the death of a

thousand cuts.

He died with a price on his head.

After his death came compromise, concession, capitulation. The pioneer

era was finished. Modern Mormonism began.

* * *

[7] As for source materials, I must thank my late brother Raymond for a

heroic job of research. At the Church Archives, Raymond secured access to 26

boxes of John Taylor materials. Raymond was, in effect, seated at John

Taylor's desk, reading the mail. Though a twofingered typist, working on

machines older than he was (some with the original ribbons), Raymond copied a

thousand letters. These are on file at University of Utah Libraries, Special


The major problem in compiling the John Taylor Papers has been the task

of selection from an enormous amount of material. John Taylor himself was a

prolific writer and editor. He delivered a great many recorded talks, wrote

thousands of letters, kept a detailed journal.

My objective has been to choose John Taylor's own words concerning

important events. This is, then, to the best of our ability, his autobiography

of a halfcentury of Church service.

Samuel W. Taylor

Redwood City, California

[8] Chapter 1


The most important incident affecting John Taylor's life resulted

from a chance meeting of a Mormon missionary with a stranger at the city

of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in April 1836. The missionary, Parley

Pratt, was enroute to Toronto. At Hamilton, he faced a dilemma: for two

dollars he could go by boat across Lake Ontario, while "If I went by land

I would have a circuitous route, muddy and tedious to go on foot."

Problem was that "I was an entire stranger in Hamilton . . . and money I

had none." However, after praying for a way to be opened, he began

chatting with people on the street.

I had not tarried many minutes before I was accosted by a stranger, who

inquired my name and where I was going. He also asked me if I did not want

some money. I said yes. He then gave me ten dollars and a letter of

introduction to John Taylor, of Toronto, where I arrived the same evening. (1)

Parley sought out the house, at the corner of Newgate and Bay

Streets, where Taylor lived with his wife and two small children.

Taylor was a woodturner, his shop adjoining the house at the rear.

Mrs. Taylor received me kindly, and went for her husband, who was busy in

his mechanic shop. To them I made known my errand to the city, but received

little direct encouragement. I took tea with them, and then sought lodging at

a public house.

[9] However, at Toronto Parley "was absolutely refused hospitality" in

seeking a place to preach. Discouraged, he dropped by the Taylor house

next day to say goodbye.

I had placed my hand on my baggage to depart . . . when a lady by the

name of Walton entered the house, and, being an acquaintance of

Mrs. Taylor's, was soon engaged in conversation with her in an adjoining room.

I overheard the following:

"Mrs. Walton, I am glad to see you; there is a gentleman here from the

United States who says the Lord sent him to this city to preach the gospel. He

has applied in vain to the clergy and to the various authorities for

opportunity to fulfill his mission, and is now about to leave the place. He

may be a man of God; I am sorry to have him depart."

"Indeed!" said the lady; "well, I now understand the feelings and spirit

which brought me to your house at this time. I have been busy over the wash

tub and too weary to take a walk; but I felt impressed to walk out. I then

thought I would make a call on my sister, the other side of town; but I said

to myself, I will go when I return; but the Spirit said: go in now. I

accordingly came in, and I am thankful that I did so. Tell the stranger he is

welcome to my house. I am a widow; but I have a spare room and bed, and food

in plenty. He shall have a home at my house, and two large rooms to preach in

just when he pleases."

That evening, John and Leonora Taylor were "in the midst of a number

of listeners, who were seated around a large work table in her parlor."

Taylor, an Englishman of 27, was a Methodist exhorter, or lay preacher.

He had invited to the meeting members of a group to which he belonged.

For two years, he said:

[10] A number of us met together for the purpose of searching the scriptures,

and we found that certain doctrines were taught by Jesus and the apostles,

which. .. . of the religious sects taught. We concluded that if the

Bible was true, the doctrines of modern Christendom were not true; or if they

were true, the Bible was false . . . .

We rejected every man's word or writing, and took the word of God alone .

. . . We made it a rule to receive no doctrine until we could bring no

scriptural testimony against it . . . .

We gathered from the scriptures many important truths. We believed in the

gathering of Israel, and in the restoration of the ten tribes. We believed

that Jesus would come to reign personally on the earth. We gathered from the

scriptures that just judgment would overtake the churches of the world,

because of their iniquity. We believed that the gospel which was preached by

the apostles was true, and that any departure from that was a departure from

the order of God, and that churches having thus departed were consequently

corrupt and fallen. We believed that there ought to be apostles, prophets,

evangelists, pastors, and teachers as in former days, and that the gifts of

healing and the power of God ought to be associated with the church. We, of

course, believed that where these things did not exist there could not be a

true church. But we believed that we had no authority ourselves to teach these

principles. (2)

This search for truth had brought opposition from Methodist

officials, who held a hearing regarding the activities of the group. As a

result, its members were deprived of church office, though not


I used to be told when investigating religious principles that it was

dangerous to do so, and I had better let them alone; but I did not think so. I

believe it is good [11] to investigate and prove all principles that come

before me. Prove all things, hold fast that which is good, and reject that

which is evil, no matter what guise it may come in. . . . In short, I believe

in every true principle that is embodied in any person or sect, and reject the

false. If there is any truth in heaven, earth, or hell, I want to embrace it,

I care not what shape it comes in to me, who brings it, or who believes in it,

whether it is popular or unpopular. . . .

In every principle presented to us, our first inquiry should be, "Is it

true? Does it emanate from God?" If He is its author, it can be sustained just

as much as any other truth in natural philosophy; if false, it should be

opposed and exposed just as much as any other error. Hence, upon all such

matters we wish to go back to first principles. (3)

"There are two things I have always said I would do," Taylor

declared. "One is to vote for whom I please and the other to worship God

as I please." (4) With this attitude, he and others of the group

continued the search for the true faith.

In addition to our researches and investigations, we prayed and fasted

before God, and the substance of our prayers was that if He had a people upon

the earth anywhere, and ministers who were authorized to preach the gospel,

that He would send us one. . . . We prayed earnestly, and in answer to our

prayer, the Lord sent us Elder Parley P. Pratt. . . .

Brother Pratt, in relating the circumstances, says that Brother Heber C.

Kimball came to his house one night, and then began to prophesy to him. He

told him there was a people in Canada who were seeking for a knowledge of the

gospel, and they were praying to God to send them a minister who should reveal

to them the truth. Brother Kimball then commissioned him to repair to Canada,

telling him that the Lord would bless him and open up his way . . . . (5)

[12] At the first meeting in the Walton home, Taylor frankly told Parley

that he "wanted no fables."

I wished him to confine himself to the scriptures. We talked for three

hours or upwards, and he bound me as close to the scriptures as I desired,

proving everything he said therefrom. . . .

The first thing that I heard from a priest, after hearing this gospel

preached by Parley P. Pratt . . . was the cry, "Delusion!" I was immediately

informed that "Joe Smith was a moneydigger," that he tried to deceive people

by walking on planks laid under the water, and that he was a wicked and

corrupt man, a deceiver, and one of the biggest tools in creation, and so

forth . . . .

From the reports which I had heard of Mormonism, I thought it was

anything but a religious system. I was told about the French prophets,

Mattias, Johanna Southcote, and of all the follies that had existed for

centuries; and then they put Mormonism at the end of them all. (6)

Some members of the investigating group remained skeptical about

Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and they rejected Parley's claims to

authority. Taylor spoke up in defense of the search for truth.

"We are here, ostensibly, in search of truth. Hitherto we have fully

investigated other creeds and doctrines and proved them false. Why should we

fear to investigate Mormonism? This gentleman, Mr. Pratt, has brought us many

doctrines that correspond with our own views. We have endured a great deal and

made many sacrifices for our religious convictions. We have prayed to God to

send a messenger, if He has a true church on earth. Mr. Pratt has come to us

under circumstances that are peculiar; and there is one thing that commends

him to our consideration: he has come amongst us without purse or scrip, as

the [13] ancient apostles traveled; and none of us are able to refute his

doctrine by scripture or logic. I desire to investigate his doctrines and

claims to authority, and shall be very glad if some of my friends will unite

with me in this investigation. But if no one will unite with me, be assured I

shall make the investigation alone. If I find his religion true, I shall

accept it, no matter what the consequences may be; and if false, then shall I

expose it." (7)

Subsequently, Taylor wrote down eight sermons preached by Parley,

"that I might compare them with the work of God." The discussions between

Taylor and Parley were lively affairs that continued over a period of

three weeks. Both men had great knowledge of the scriptures. "No person

could tell me a passage in the Bible but what I could turn to it," Taylor

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