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

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On the 1st day of October, I found I had worked all the spring, summer,

and fall, and had not earned a dollar. I had devoted my time to my land,

living six weeks on greens, and here at the commencement of winter I found

myself without a house, or materials to build one, without provisions, and not

much clothing. No fodder for the winter, very much disheartened, I moved my

family on my new lot . . . .

[146] Oct. 7th, Sabbath. Rebecca and I went to meeting this morning . . . .

Prest. John Young . . . told me I was appointed to go on

a mission to France. This intelligence gave me such exceeding joy that I

almost danced. I next inquired who was to go with me. They replied, Elder John

Taylor . . . . "Well," I said, "I'm ready."

On the way home, I opened the matter to Rebecca. At first flush, she

thought it hard that I should have to leave her in so destitute a situation as

she then was. But a few moments later burst into tears and said, "Go, in the

name of Israel's God, and prosper; and I will take care of myself."

Bolton undertook the journey without an outfit, a horse, or even an

overcoat; his clothing was threadbare. He shared Russell Homer's wagon.

On the tenth day the company reached Bridger, "Snowing on both sides of

us til noon." As they went on to Black's Fork:

Cloudy, very high wind. I lectured in the evening on the principle of

faith. Promised if all would unite their faith we should have no snow till we

arrived at the Missouri River.

This prediction proved accurate. However, there was rain, wind, and

bitter cold. At the South Fork of the Platte, rain followed by frost had

put a hard crust on the snow, "almost to bear a man's weight." With the

crust breaking at every step and turn of the wagon wheels, it was "horrid


Bro. Homer being belated about starting, had to unload his wagon on the

bluff out of Ash Hollow and carry up by hand and then double team

up his empty wagon. Graham left the horse he bought at Bridger [147] about 1/2

way between the two Plattes. Crossed the South Fork. A very bad ford. Very

worst of quicksands. The most of us had to wade about in the river and help

out the teams and wagons one after another. No fire on the bank. Quite

cooling!!!! I, soaking wet, ran on five miles to where there appeared to be

wood, but had to wade a creek to get it. Found here a wounded horse. Preach

this eve by Bro. Taylor.

Next day the company began to abandon exhausted horses and mules on

the trail; others died. They passed broken wagons and dead teams beside

the route. At places where grass was burned off, they cut cottonwoods for

brouse. On 4 December, "Bro. John Taylor has been very sick today." The

next day, "Bro. E. D. Woolley was taken very ill."

Dec. 7. Every appearance of a storm. Intensely cold. Passed two most

abominable bad creekshaving to take off the teams and let the wagons down

and haul them up by hand. . . . Camped some time after dark, on a little

stream where we could find neither wood nor grass . . . . I went to bed

supperless, having no more provisions.

Taylor not only endured hardship, but welcomed it:

I rejoice in afflictions, for they are necessary to humble and prove us,

that we may comprehend ourselves, become acquainted with our weaknesses and

infirmities; and I rejoice when I triumph over them, because God answers my

prayers, therefore I feel to rejoice all the day long . . . .

Some people have said to me, sometimes: "Are you not afraid to cross over

the seas, and deserts, where there are wolves and bears, and other ferocious

animals, as well as the savage Indians? Are you not afraid that you will drop

by the way, and leave your body on the desert track, [148] or beneath the

ocean's wave?" No. Who cares anything about it? What of it, if we should

happen to drop by the way. We expect the Lord and His angels can . . . "gather

together His elect from the four corners of the earth," and as old Daniel

says, we shall all come up and stand in our "lot in the end of the days."

These things don't trouble me, but I have felt to rejoice all the day

long, that God has revealed the principle of eternal life, that I am put in

possession of that truth, and that I am counted worthy to engage in the work

of the Lord, and be a messenger to the nations of the earth. (1)

Taylor continued his account of the journey:

Between the upper crossing of the Platte and Independence Rock, we met a

company of four men who were carrying the mail from Fort Laramie to Fort Hall.

They had been robbed the day before by a war party of Crow Indians . . . .

After the first shearing they encountered another band, who sans ceremonie,

subjected them to another fleecing . . . . They were of course pleased under

these circumstances to meet with us, and were full of fiery indignation

against their red brethren for subjecting them to such an unceremonious

tithing . . . .

made us more vigilant in guarding our horses, as we rather

preferred to be tithed by our own bishops, whom we had with us, than be

subject to the ordeal of those who officiate without authority.

Two days' journey on the other side of Laramie, while we were baiting our

horses at noon on the banks of the Platte, we espied a large body of Indians,

who came sweeping down a gentle sloping hill east of us . . . .

Capt. Roundy ordered the horses to be gathered, and securely tied to the

wagons. Gen. Grant acted with great promptness, . . . immediately forming us

into line, leaving [149] two of our number to tie the horses up. The men

showed great intrepidity, every man standing at his post undaunted. The

efforts of the Indians were either to break our line or turn our flank; but

being repulsed on all points they were brought to a dead halt about a rod and

a half in front of us. During all this, . . . they were shaking out the

priming from their firearms, and priming them anew. Many placed arrows to

their bowstringstheir lances at restand were wetting the ends of their

arrows with their mouths, that they might not slip from finger and thumb.

When the Mormons refused to be bluffed, a chief presented a paper

from the commander at Ft. Laramie, Major Sanderson, certifying that this

tribe of Cheyennes "was friendly to the whites." The simulated charge was

simply an example of Indian humor.

We presented them some crackers, dried meat, tobacco, etc., of which they

partook, sat down and had a smoke, and thus everything concluded amicably. We

then harnessed our horses, and pursued our journey. They very courteously

filed to the right and left, and escorted us on our road till we came opposite

their village . . . .

Many of them were dressed in American style, with clothes of the best

broadcloth, beaver hats, caps, etc. And those who were dressed in Indian

costume displayed the greatest elegance of taste in their attire. They were

adorned with head dresses of feathers of the richest hues; and their various

insignia of office displayed a taste which is at once wild, romantic and

beautiful. They were mounted on excellent horsesrichly caparisoned in many

instances, and painted off in the most fantastic style. The whole affair was

truly grand, and notwithstanding the peculiar situation in which we were

placed, we could not but admire the magnificent display which the lords of the

prairie presented . . . . The scene was rich, and exceeded any theatrical

representation we have ever witnessed.

[150] Messrs. Edward Hunter, Lorenzo Snow and myself, at the request of the

chief, visited their encampment, which was about three miles off the road; we

found there a large number of lodges, and were informed by a Frenchman that

they numbered six hundred warriors. They appeared to be wealthy, and I should

think they had about three thousand horses.

Arriving at Winter Quartersnow named Kanesvillethe party greeted

old friends, while their arrival was hailed "with songs of rejoicing,

firing of guns, and other tokens of joy." Blacksmiths brought out their

anvils and hammers, which "made the hills and dales" ring with the


We here meet a kindred spirit, and find that the presiding genius of this

place drinks from the same fountain, breathes the same air, and revels in the

same intelligence as do the master spirits of the Great Salt Lake Valley.

Relative to the situation of affairs in the Valley, we have of course

many inconveniences to cope with, owing to the position we occupy so far

remote from supplies . . . . the cry of the people is goods! GOODS!! GOODS!!!

. . .

We were accompanied here by Messrs. Roundy, Grant, Smoot and others, who

have associated for the purpose of forming a carrying company to convey goods

from this place to the Valley. They also intend establishing a Swiftsure

Passenger Line, to convey persons from this place to Sutter's Fort. The

company were selected and organized by the Government of the State of Deseret,

. . . and as they are men of energy, enterprise and respectability, they are

more competent to carry out an enterprise of this kind, and to establish a

cheap, speedy, and safe conveyance to and from the diggings, than any company

that could be organized on this side of the plains . . . .

[151] In relation to the various missions in which we are engaged, . . . these

as great and important as any that have been entered upon since the

commencement of this work. A few years ago a few of the Twelve, accompanied by

three or four elders, visited England for the first time. The Church of

Latterday Saints was then unknown in that kingdom; now they number . . .

about 30,000. In the then infantile state of the Church, a mission of that

kind seemed Herculean; but the power of truth prevailed; . . . and where

darkness once reigned, many thousands now rejoice in the fulness of the gospel

of peace.

That mission, however, was to a people whose language we were acquainted

with, whose habits and customs were congenial with our own, whose commercial

relations rendered them familiar, and whose blood still flowed in our veins.

But now we have left our homes in the Valley to carry the gospel to nations

that know us not, with whose language we are unacquainted, and who are at

present wrapped about with a cloak of mystery and superstition; this is a task

which nothing but the "thus saith the Lord," could cause man to


The nations to which we are now destined have recently been convulsed

with revolutions, the throes of which still sicken the whole system, and

render life, person and property insecure . . . . Yet to these nations we are

sent to unfurl the banner of truth, and publish the glad tidings of salvation;

and . . . to whisper to the honest in heart, "What doest thou here, Elijah?"

We go therefore in the strength of Israel's God, our trust is in Him, we

lean upon His arm and all is well. The nations must hear the joyful sound. The

power of truth must prevail; the Kingdom of God must be established and all

nations flock to her standard, . . . till salvation is sounded on every

continent, proclaimed on every isle, echoed on every sea and whispered in

every breeze; and the "kingdom of this world become the kingdom of our God and

of his Christ," even so, Amen. (2)


Six weeks later Taylor wrote his families from St. Louis, saying his

travel had been leisurely because he was studying French enroute. He made

no mention of hardship on the "leisurely" journey, which Bolton detailed:

Bid farewell to the people of Kanesville, and started for Saint Louis in

a wagon in company with Bro. Taylor, Pack, and Thomas Bateman . . . .

We stopped one day at St. Joseph and one day at Weston . . . . The journey

from thence to Saint Louis was rough and tedious. The last one hundred and

fifty miles we walked almost the whole way as there was a thaw and the mud was

hub deep in the lanes.

Jan. 26. Arrived this evening in Saint Louis after a tedious toilsome

journey. We proceeded at once to Elder Felt's office, No. 16 Third Street. It

was just after dark and we were at once ushered in, all covered with mud and

very much fatigued, before a large meeting of the brethren. We each had to

preach a little, and then retired to the homes alloted to us . . . . On

Sabbath morning . . . Brother Taylor furnished me with a pair of pants and a

vest, which I needed extremely.

In a letter home, Taylor said that both at St. Louis and


The Saints flocked around me like bees and the greatest trouble I have had is

that of not being able to fulfill the many engagements that have pressed

themselves upon me.

"But," say you, "do you not think of us and home?"... Let me tell my

feelings if I can. Home! Home!! HOME!!! What shall I say? . . . You are with

me in my imaginations, thoughts, dreams, feelings; true, our bodies are

separated, but there you liveyou dwell in my bosom, in my heart and

affections, and will remain there forever. Our covenants, our hopes, our joys

are all eternal and will live when our bodies moulder in the dust . . . .

[153] I am engaged in my Master's business; I am a minister of Jehovah to

proclaim His will to the nations. I go to unlock the door of life to a mighty

nation, to publish to millions the principles of life, light and truth,

intelligence and salvation, to burst their fetters, liberate the oppressed,

reclaim the wandering, correct their views, improve their morals, and lead

them to light, life, truth and celestial glory. Do not your spirits cooperate

with mine? I know they do. Do you not say, "Go, my husband; go, my father,

fulfill your mission, and let God and angels protect you and restore you safe

to our bosoms." I know they do.

Our separations here tend to make us more appreciative of each other's

society. A few more separations and trials, a few more tears, a few more

afflictions, and the victory will be ours. We'll gain the Kingdom, possess the

crown, inherit eternal glory, associate with the Gods, soar amidst the

intelligences of heaven; and with the noble, the great, the intellectual, the

virtuous, the amiable, the holy, possess the reward held in reserve for the

righteous, and live and love forever.

Taylor dispatched a wagonload of sugar, coffee and tea to his

families, for sale in the valley, saying, "I wish you all to have

everything to make you comfortable." He sailed on the Jacob A.

Westervelt, arriving at Liverpool 27 May 1850, and the following month

went to France.

I arrived at the town of Boulognesurmer, in company with Curtis E.

Bolton, John Pack, and W Howell, for the purpose of preaching the

principles of the Everlasting gospel. Soon after our arrival I published two

communications in the Boulogne Interpreter, giving an account of the visit of

the Angel to Joseph Smith, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the

first principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These were published in both

French and English.

[154] I also took a hall in the central part of town , for the purpose of delivering a course of

lectures, and gave a public notice in handbills and in the newspaper . . . .

Several Protestant priests from England commenced to annoy us, and wanted

to create a disturbance in the meeting; but I would not allow it . . . . These

insolent men . . . followed me in the streets . . . . They stated that "Joe"

Smith was an impostor, and they could prove it. I told them, . . . I cared

nothing for their opinionsthat I was personally acquainted with Joseph

Smiththat he was a gentleman, and would not treat a stranger as they had

treated methat I wished no further conversation with them . . . .

On the 4th of July we received the following note:

Sirs, The extraordinary nature of your pretensions and announcements made

us desirous of having their validity and truth inquired into . . . . We

address to you this respectful public challenge, to meet us in open and public


The three ministers, C. W. Cleeve, James Robertson, and Philip

Cater, challenged the sincerity of Joseph Smith ("Was he a truthful and

honest man, or a blasphemous and daring imposter?"), the validity of the

Book of Mormon ("Is it not a stupid and ignorant farago of nonsense?"),

and "Yourselves! The pretended facts of your direct appointment by God,

to preach what you call the Gospel."

I must say that I considered the note too ungentlemanly, abusive, and

insulting to be deserving of notice. I should have considered it and its

authors worthy only of contempt, had I been in a place where I was known. As

it was, . . . I thought it best to . . . meet them on their own ground.

[155] I would here remark, however, that I do not consider an elder is

responsible for anything but the doctrine that he preaches . . . . The eternal

truths of heaven are independent of the conduct of any man. Two and two are

four, whether I am a good man or not; three and five will never make seven,

however, good and virtuous the man who utters it. The Gospel that was taught

by Jesus is true, whoever teaches it. The systems of men, which are contrary

to the scriptures, are not true, nor are they the Gospel, however, pious and

sanctimonious the man who teaches them.

The parties agreed to a debate of three nights. The Rev. C. W.

Cleeve opened the first discussion.

He cited Mr. Taylor and his friends, not as teachers of any form of

Christianity, but as emissaries and advocates of the vilest imposture since

the days of Mahomet;... and it became the duty of everyone to expose its

audacious and fatal errors.

The first question of discussion is: Was Joseph Smith an imposter? For if

he was, there was an end of Mormonism . . . .

Elder TaylorGentlemen and Christian friends, I have listened to some

strange remarks and infamous statements, . . . the which, if the thousandth

part were true, I should not have been here; and I think that before I get

through I shall be able to shew that we are not such daring imposters, nor

blasphemersthat we are not so corrupt, nor are we the immoral, degraded and

polluted wretchesthat the gentleman would represent us to be; but that our

doctrine is as scriptural, that our conduct is as moral, and our lives as

virtuous as his or his friends .... And let me remark that such foul

aspersions and bitter language would better become other lips and another

profession than that of my Reverend friend . . . . Neither do I consider that

the foundation of eternal truth rests upon [156] the character of any man,

much less upon false reports, newspaper stories, and the unauthenticated

statements of wicked and corrupt men . . . . (3)

I have heard a great deal said about Joseph Smith and his character. I

was intimately acquainted with the late Joseph Smith and know that the

statements made by Mr. Cleave are untrue. I have been with Mr. Smith for

years; I have travelled with him; I have been with him in public and in

private, at home and abroad; I was with him living, and when he diedwhen he

was murdered in Carthage Jailand I can testify that he was a virtuous,

moral, highminded man . . . .

Regarding the authors of the three unfriendly books, "I happen to be

acquainted with them," Taylor said, and knew of the circumstances in

which they formed their opinions.

But what has opinion to do with truth? It was the opinion of men, in

every age of the world, that the prophets were imposters, and they killed them

because of their belief. They were whipped, tried, tempted, torn asunder . . .

. And why? Because it was the opinion of the people that they were wickedand

the opinion, generally, of the most learned and pious. Hence, the Jews killed

their prophets, beheaded John the Baptist, crucified the Messiah, and

persecuted His Apostles; and the Chief Priests, Rabbis and Doctors were

foremost . . . .

These infamous lies and obscene stories , however,

have been found very palatable to a certain class of society, and in times of

our persecutions multitudes were pleased with them. Hence, not only did it

suit the inclinations of these gentlemen above alluded to, but preying upon

the cupidity of the uninformed, they made a very lucrative business of their

disgusting traffic, and sold it to the world garnished with the names of

Doctor Bennett, the Rev. Mr. Turner, the [157] Rev. Mr. Caswall, and numbers

of other reverends, associates of blacklegs and murderers. Hence we have awful

disclosures! terrible iniquity! horrid blasphemy! ornamented and dressed off

by the aforesaid reverends, and rewritten, republished, and circulated by

their brethren in this country. (Mr. Cleeve, I could furnish you with

thousands of such statements, if they are of any use to you.)

I say now, as I said before, that reports have nothing to do with truth;

and I will say, moreover, that public opinion has very little to do with it.

The testimony of Noah was just as true, although rejected by the

Antediluvians, as that of Jonah when all the inhabitants of Ninevah repented

in sackcloth and ashes. And Jesus's testimony was just as true, when they

cried, "Crucify him! crucify him!" . . . as when the people strewed branches

in the way and spread their garments for him to ride over, and cried,

"Hosannah! blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!" And St. Paul's

testimony was just as true, when he was stripped and imprisoned, as when the

people of Lycaonia said, concerning him and Barnabas, "The Gods have come down

to us in the likeness of men," and would have worshipped them.

Truth has always been opposed by the children of men. It comes in

. . . corrupt hearts and wicked practices . . . . And instead

of meeting what they call error with the scriptures, and testing it with the

touchstone of truth, . . . they substitute vituperation, scandal, persecution

and abuse; . . . they tread in the steps of their venerable predecessors, the

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