recalled, "I could not remember every passage, but I knew their
connections and could tell others where they could find them." (8)
In comparing Mormonism with scripture, Taylor was troubled at being
"compelled to admit there was something reasonable about it."
I almost hoped it was not true. "If it is true," said I, "as an honest
man I shall be obliged to obey it." . . . When I had investigated the subject,
and became convinced that it was true, I said, "I am in for it; I must embrace
it; I cannot reject the principles of eternal truth." (9)
Parley P. Pratt baptized John and Leonora Taylor in Black Creek, on
the outskirts of Toronto, the afternoon of 9 May 1836.
Taylor was fully aware of the consequences of this radical change of
direction in his life.
proscribed. I expected that the people would be persecuted. But I believed
that God had spoken, that the eternal principles of truth had been revealed,
and that God had a work to accomplish which was in opposition to the ideas,
views, and notions of men, and I did not know but it would cost me my life
before I got through. (10)
(1) Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography, Salt Lake City, 1874. Parley was
killed before completing the book, and John Taylor "undertook the task of
assisting to collate and revise the work preparatory to publication."
Incidentally, the name of the stranger at Hamilton was Moses Nickerson.
(2) Journal of Discourses (hereafter JD), 12 June 1853; 5 March
1882; also, Three Nights Public Discussion . . . at BoulogneSurMer,
France (hereafter PD), Liverpool, 1850.
(3) JD 14 March 1869; 12 June 1853.
(4) JD 3 March 1872.
(5) JD and PD.
(6) PD; also JD 13 Dec. 1857.
(7) B. H. Roberts, The Life of John Taylor, Salt Lake City, 1892.
(8) JD 5 Feb. 1865.
(9) JD 10 Feb. 1884.
 Chapter 2
DARKNESS AT KIRTLAND
In March the following spring, 1837, John Taylor visited the Mormon
settlement at Kirtland, Ohio, where he was a guest at Joseph Smith's
home. On first meeting the, prophet, Taylor felt a charge like an
electrical shock on grasping Joseph's hand. The two men had much in
common as mystics, seekers, selftaught intellectuals. They, immediately
became friends, and Taylor soon was admitted to the small circle of
Joseph Smith came forward telling us that an angel had administered to
him and had revealed unto him the principles of the gospel as they existed in
former days, and that God was going to set his hand to work in these last days
to accomplish His purposes and build up His kingdom, to introduce correct
principles, to overturn error, evil, and corruption, and to establish His
church and kingdom upon the earth. I have heard him talk about these things
myself. I have heard him tell over and over again, to myself and others, the
circumstances pertaining to these visions and the various ministrations of
angels, and the development of the purposes of God towards the human family .
were taught by Jesus and His disciples in their day . . . .
God restored His ancient gospel to Joseph Smith, giving him revelation,
opening the heavens to him, and making him acquainted with the plan of
salvation and exaltation of the children of men. I was well acquainted with
him, and have carefully examined the revelations given through him, and
notwithstanding all the aspersions  that have been cast upon him, I
believe that with the exception of Jesus Christ there never was a greater
prophet upon this wide earth than he . . . .
He presented himself before the world and informed the people that God
had spoken, and that He had spoken to him. He told them that the heavens had
been opened and that angels clothed in light and glory had appeared to him and
revealed unto him certain things . . . .
I can tell you what he told me about it. He said that he was very
ignorant of the ways, designs, and purposes of God, and knew nothing about
them; he was a youth unacquainted with religious matters or the systems and
theories of the day. He went to the Lord, having read James' statement, "If
any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God . . . and it shall be given him."
He believed that statement and went to the Lord, and asked Him, and the
Lord revealed himself to him, together with His Son, Jesus, and pointing to
the latter, said, "This is my Beloved Son, hear Him!" He then asked in regard
to the various religions with which he was surrounded. He inquired which of
them was right, for he wanted to know the right way and to walk in it. He was
told that none of them was right, that they had all departed from the right
way, that they had forsaken God, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them
out cisterns, broken cisterns, that could not hold water.
Afterwards, the Angel Moroni came to him and revealed to him the Book of
Mormon . . . .
We have Oliver Cowdery, who tells us something about these things, and
gives his testimony as a living witness. Again, there were eleven witnesses in
relation to the Book of Mormon, who testify that the Book of Mormon was a
divine revelation from God. And some of these witnesses tell us that an angel
of God came and laid before them the plates from which the Book of Mormon was
translated, and they knew that their testimony was true  and faithful.
Others saw and handled the plates from which the record was taken. I have
conversed with several of those men who say they have seen the plates that
Joseph Smith took out of the Hill Cumorah; I have also conversed with Joseph
Smith, who has told me of these things and many more. (1)
beginning, the original membership of six grew miraculously, while the
prophet was the storm center of violent controversy, known for good and
evil throughout the world.
Who was Joseph Smith? The Book of Mormon tells us he was the seed of
Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and hence he was selected, as Abraham was, to
fulfil a work upon the earth. God chose this young man. He was ignorant of
letters as the world has it, but the most profoundly learned and intelligent
man that I ever met in my life. . . And where did he get his intelligence
from? Not from books, not from the logic or science of philosophy of the day,
but he obtained it through the revelation of God made known to him . . . .
As the spirit of revelation rested down upon God's servant Joseph, . . .
the heavens unfolded to his view .... He learned by communication from the
heavens . . . of the great events that should transpire in the latter days. He
understood things that were past, and comprehended the various dispensations;
. . . and hence he introduced what was spoken of by all the prophets since the
world was: the dispensation in which we live, which differs from all other
dispensations in that it is the dispensation of the fulness of times,
embracing all others . . . that ever existed upon the face of the earth.
At that time he was a feeble youth, inexperienced, without a knowledge of
the learning of the day. But God put him in possession of that kind of
intelligence, and what may be termed a scientific knowledge of all things 
pertaining to this earthand the heavens, if you pleasewhich was altogether
ahead of all the intelligence that existed in the world . . . .
From then until the end of his life, John Taylor defended the
prophet's character; he refuted aspersions and bore personal testimony:
Suppose Joseph Smith was all you represent him to beyour systems are
still unscriptural. And the next thing you will have to do will be to prove
the scriptures false, if you would sustain . The eternal truths of God
are still the same, and whether Joseph Smith was a good or a bad man, the
truths we preach are scriptural, and you cannot gainsay that; and if they are,
what avails your attack upon character? . . .
I testify that I was acquainted with Joseph Smith for years. I have
traveled with him; I have been with him in private and in public; I have
associated with him in councils of all kinds; I have listened hundreds of
times to his public teachings, and his advice to his friends and associates of
a more private nature. I have been at his house and seen his deportment in his
family. I have seen him arraigned before the tribunals of his country, and
have seen him honorably acquitted, and delivered from the pernicious breath of
My spirit glows with sacred fire while I reflect upon these scenes, and I
say, O Lord, hasten the day! Let Zion be established! Let the mountain of the
Lord's house be established on the tops of the mountains! Let deliverance be
proclaimed unto Zion! Let redemption echo from mountain to mountain, from hill
to hill, from nation to nation! Let the world hear! Let the law go forth from
Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem! Let the dead bear a voice and
live! Let the captives be set free! Let the Saints possess the kingdom, and
the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ! . . .
 I have seen him, then, under these various circumstances, and I testify
before God, angels and men, that he was a good, honorable, virtuous manthat
his doctrines were good, scriptural, and wholesomethat his precepts were
such as become a man of Godthat his private and public character was
unimpeachable . . . .
If I did not believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, I should not have
been here. If he was a true prophet, and spake the word of the Lord, that is
just as binding on the human family as any other word spoken by any other
prophet. The scriptures tell us that "Man shall not live by bread alone, but
by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." . . . Gentlemen, I
again say that Joseph Smith was a virtuous, highminded, honorable man, a
gentleman and a Christian . . . .
But he introduced principles which strike at the root of the corrupt
systems of men. This necessarily comes in contact with their prepossessions,
prejudices, and interests; and as they cannot overturn his principles, they
attack his character. And that is one reason why we have so many books written
against his character, without touching his principles, and also why we meet
with so much opposition. But truth, eternal truth, is invulnerable. It cannot
be destroyed, but like the throne of Jehovah, it will outride all the storms
of men, and live forever. (2)
Taylor found the community at Kirtland rent with apostacy. Not only
the outside world attacked Joseph's character, but a great many within
the society of Saints claimed that he was a fallen prophet. Although just
a year previously, heavenly beings had attended the dedication of the
temple there, manifestations accompanied by great spiritual ecstacy, now
"the church seemed on the point of disintegration," B. H. Roberts
recorded. Previously, Roberts said:
 Everything in and about Kirtland had been prosperous. The Saints abounded
in everything their hearts could desire. The men wore expensive rainment,
ornamented with velvets and silks . . . the sisters were not a whit
jewelry; and amid all their piety, manifested a full share of vanity and
Speculation was rife all over the United States at that time, and the
engaged in mercantile pursuits and land speculation. For a time they were
prosperous, and wealth rapidly accumulated among them . . . . But a wave of
financial disaster swept over the entire country. Banking institutions went
down before it; thousands of merchants were hopelessly ruined; and in the
general disaster Kirtland did not escape . . . .
"Distress, ruin and poverty," says Elder Taylor, "seemed to prevail.
Apostates and corrupt men were prowling about as so many wolves seeking whom
they might devour. They were oppressive, cruel, heartless, devising every
pretext that the most Satanic malignity could invent to harass the Saints.
Fraud, false accusation and false swearing, vexatious law suits, personal
violence, and barefaced robbery abounded . . . ."
Among others, Parley P. Pratt was floundering in darkness, and coming to
Elder Taylor told him of some things wherein he considered the Prophet Joseph
in error. . . . (3)
Parley had summed up his hurt in a bitter letter to Joseph Smith, 23
. . . Having long pondered the path in which we, as a people, have been
led in regard to our temporal management, I have at length become fully
convinced that the whole scheme of speculation in which we have been engaged
is of the devil. I allude to the covetous, extraordinary speculating
spirit which has reigned in this place for the last season: which has given
rise to lying, deceiving and taking advantage of one's neighbor, and, in
short, every evil work . . . .
And now, dear brother, if you are still determined to pursue this wicked
course, until yourself and the church shall sink down to hell, I beseech you
at least to have mercy on me and my family, and others who are bound with me
for those three lots (of land) which you sold to me at the extraordinary price
of 2000 dollars, which never cost you 100 dollars.
Parley had paid $75 down for the lots, with a note secured by a
mortgage on his home. Sidney Ridgon of the church presidency had told him
that unless the remainder was paid, the mortgage would be foreclosed.
Parley wanted his money back and the whole deal cancelled. But Joseph
himself had been saddled with debts of the entire community following the
In reply to Parley's accusations against the prophet, Taylor said:
"I am surprised to hear you speak so, Brother Parley. Before you left
Canada you bore a strong testimony to Joseph Smith being a prophet of God, and
to the truth of the work he has inaugurated; and you said you knew these
things by revelation, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
"You gave me a strict charge to the effect that though you or an angel of
heaven was to declare anything else, I was not to believe it. Now, Brother
Parley, it is not man that I am following, but the Lord. The principles you
taught me led me to Him, and I now have the same testimony that you rejoiced
in. If the work was true six months ago, it is true today; if Joseph Smith was
then a prophet, he is now a prophet."
 To the honor of Parley, be it said, he sought no further to lead Elder
Taylor astray; nor did he use much argument in the first place. "He, with many
others," says Elder Taylor, "were passing under a dark cloud; he soon made it
all right with the Prophet Joseph, and was restored to full fellowship." (4)
Parley was only one of many in darkness. Heber C. Kimball declared
that during the apostacy at Kirtland, "there were not twenty persons on
earth that would declare that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God." (5)
At this time Taylor became a marked man in the church because of his
defense of the prophet in the temple. A group of apostates led by Warren
Parrish, who had been cashier of the Kirtland Bank, made a violent attack
on the character of the prophet. In rebuttal, Taylor said:
From whence do we get our intelligence, and knowledge of the laws,
ordinances and doctrines of the Kingdom of God? Who understood even the first
principles of the doctrines of Christ? Who in the Christian world taught them?
If we, with our learning and intelligence, could not find out the first
principles, which was the case with myself and millions of others, how can we
find out the mysteries of the Kingdom? It was Joseph Smith, under the
Almighty, who developed the first principles, and to him we must look for
further instructions. . . . The children of Israel, formerly, after seeing the
power of God manifested in their midst, fell into rebellion and idolatry, and
there is certainly very great danger of us doing the same thing." (6)
Joseph saved the shattered church by calling the apostles to a
mission in England, where they made thousands of converts. Taylor had a
role in initiating this:
the gospel. I did it at the request of Brother Fielding, who got me
to write for him to a brother and brotherinlaw of his who were ministers in
England. These were the men that helped to introduce the gospel into England
in that early day. (7)
(1) JD 1 March 1863; 17 March 1872; 1 Feb. 1874; 7 Dec. 1879.
(2) Millennial Star (hereafter MS), 1 November 1846; PD; JD 7
December 1870, 1 February 1874, and 8 April 1879.
(3) Life of John Taylor.
(4) Actually, Parley's period of darkness lasted more than a year.
(5) JD 28 Sept. 1856.
(6) Roberts, Life.
(7) JD 5 March 1882. Those called on this first foreign mission of
the church were Apostles Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde, with Elders
Willard Richards, Joseph Fielding, John Goodson, Isaac Russell and John
Snider. They left Kirtland in June, 1837, and returned the following May.
 Chapter 3
THE RICH LAND OF MISSOURI
During the great falling away, John Taylor returned to Canada to
supervise the branches there. Joseph Smith fled Kirtland ahead of mob
violence, and settled with the Saints in Missouri. Taylor reported:
There were four of the Twelve who did apostatize Wm. E. McLellin, Luke
Johnson, John F. Boynton and Lyman Johnson. When they apostatized, the
following revelation was given:
"Revelation, given through Joseph, the Seer, at Far West, Missouri, July
8th, 1838, in answer to the question, `Show us thy will, O Lord,
concerning the Twelve.'
"Verily, thus saith the Lord, let a Conference be held immediately, let
the Twelve be organized, and let men be appointed to supply the place of those
who are fallen. . . .
"And next Spring, let them depart to go over the great waters, and there
promulgate my Gospel, the fulness thereof, and bear record of my name. (1)
"Let them take leave of my Saints in the city of Far West, on the 26th
day of April next, on the building spot of my house, saith the Lord.
"Let my servant John Taylor, and also my servant John E. Page, and also
my servant Wilford Woodruff, and also my servant Willard Richards, be
appointed to fill the places of those who have fallen, and be officially
notified of their appointment."
 I will state that I was living in Canada at the time, some three hundred
miles distant from Kirtland. I was presiding over a number of churches in
Upper Canada. I knew about this calling and appointment before it came, it
having been revealed to me. But not knowing but that the devil had a finger in
the matter, I did not say anything about it to anybody . . . .
A messenger came to me with a letter from the First Presidency, informing
me of my appointment, and requesting me to repair forthwith to Kirtland, and
from there to go to Far West. I went according to the command. (2)
Taylor organized a wagon company of Canadian Saints, who went with
him to the gathering in Missouri. They arrived at a time of mob violence,
which culminated in the order of Governor Lilburn Boggs to expel the
Mormons or exterminate them.
We lived in a rich land, back in Missouri . . . . I have seen fields of
corn that a regiment of soldiers could ride into and they would be out of
sight; and I have seen beans grow where corn has been planted, where the
cornstalks have served as bean poles; and I have seen pumpkins and squash grow
among them, three crops growing the same year and at the same time . . . .
Why could we not stop there? Because the land was too good, and we were
easy of access to men desirous to possess our property; and they told us to
move on, and we had to go. We had to leave Missouri, and I suppose God
intended to try the Saints, to let them pass through certain kinds of
experience and play them in a position that they would have to lean on Him.
Account of Murders, Robberies, Burnings, Thefts, and Other Outrages
Committed by the Mob and  Militia. The editor, however, declined to
publish the unpopular Mormon viewpoint.
As many reports have been put in circulation relative to the
circumstances that have taken place in Missouri, concerning the persecutions
of the Mormons (so called), and as the public are unable to arrive at any just
conclusions relative to the events that have taken place, I thought it best to
lay this short account before the world, as I was an eye and an ear witness to
most of the things mentioned in this account. And what I did not witness, I
that did see and hear.
It is almost unnecessary for me to state that every possible means have
been made to, in order to misrepresent us as a people, calumniate our
characters, rob us of our rights as citizens, take away our liberty of
conscience, and deprive us of all those privileges for which our fathers bled
. . . .
The difficulties under which our people have labored ever since their
than religious persecution . . . as constables and lawyers, priest and
magistrates, civilians and officers have been arrayed against us . . .
declaring their determination, as expressed in one of their resolutions in
Jackson County, to "expel them peacefully if we can, forcibly if we must." (4)