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

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climate with the nation's attitude toward a belengered sect. A few months

later, the arbitrary George L. Woods was replaced as Governor. Then after

Judge McKean outraged both Mormons and Gentiles by sentencing Brigham

Young to a day in prison on a technicality during a divorce case,

President Grant dismissed McKean for acts "which are considered

illadvised and tyrannical, and in excess of his powers as Judge."

"The Federal officers which followed the McKean ring were a better

class of men," Roberts states, "and for some years Utah had a period of

peace; a circumstance which vindicated the wisdom of Elder Taylor's

counsel to `Be quiet.'" (13)

(1) MS, 11 March 1873.

(2) Deseret News, also MS, 17 March 1874.

[318] (3) Deseret News, also MS, 25 March 1874.

(4) It will be noted that Utah has grown by 30,000 since Taylor's

previous series of letters.

(5) Salt Lake Herald, also MS, 31 March 1874.

(6) Baskin, a most active member of the "ring," was at this time

prosecuting attorney for McKean's court. He subsequently became chief

justice of the Supreme Court of Utah, and mayor of Salt Lake City. For

the Gentile view of the controversy, see his Reminiscences of Early Utah,

Salt Lake, 1914.

(7) Salt Lake Herald, also MS, 14 April 1874.

(8) Gilson also arranged the deal with Bill Hickman in the attempt

to convict Brigham Young of murder.

(9) Salt Lake Herald, also MS, 28 April 1874.

(10) A Gentile wagon company consisting of some 140 people camped in

southern Utah at Mountain Meadows, located between Cedar City and St.

George. Mormon zealots, enlisting Indian support as a cover, ambushed the

company. After a siege of three days the Mormons negotiated with the

company and arranged to lend the members to safety under a flag of truce.

Instead, after the company was disarmed, the Mormons killed men, women,

and all except seventeen small children. Some fiftyfive Mormon men were

involved, and the plan was conceived and directed by local church


(11) At the time this letter was written, it was still policy to

attribute responsibility for the massacre to the Indians. Subsequently,

John D. Lee's Confessions, and the testimony at his trials, established

that local Mormons were responsible for planning the affair, and that

they did the actual killing. Three years after the above letter, Lee was

convicted and executed as a scapegoat to quiet the matter. However, it

was not until 1950 that Juanita Brooks told, as far as possible, the

complete story in her Mountain Meadows Massacre. She followed this in

1962 with John Doyle Lee; ZealotPioneerBuilderScapegoat. Largely

because of her work in clearing his name, Lee was restored to church


(12) Deseret News, also MS, 12 May 1874.

(13) Life.

[319] Chapter 18


Zion continued to prosper. Branches of the church cooperative store,

ZCMI, spread throughout the settlements. Brigham Young instituted the

United Order over the length and breadth of Mormon country. New colonies

settled the desert, to make it blossom as the rose.

Writing to Joseph F. Smith on 11 January 1876, John Taylor outlined

the method of establishing a new colony:

Dear Brother: Five hundred missionaries are being called to make

permanent homes in Arizona Territory.

We have apportioned to each county what is deemed fair and equitable

according to its size, and your quota is 20 from Davis County.

You will please meet with your Bishops and make early arrangements for

raising that number, and report immediately when ready. We want good, faithful

men, who are willing to carry out the principle of the United Order, taking

with them not more than one wife, and who are able to fit themselves up with

an outfit, or assist those who are unable to do it themselves.

At a special meeting of the Bishops of this city, last Saturday evening,

two were called for from each ward and we expect a report from them on

Thursday, Jan. 13th.

We want all of them to be ready at the earliest possible date, so as to

enable them to reach their destination in time to put in crops this spring.

All should be in readiness by the 30th of January.


It was not unusual that John Taylor should organize this colony,

instead of Brigham Young. Brigham, afflicted with arthritis, customarily

wintered at St. George's balmy climate. With advancing years he had been

delegating responsibility. President Young had "stated that John Taylor

was the man that stood next to him; and that where he was not, John

Taylor presided." (1)

On 16 December, 1876, Taylor wrote a letter to Brigham Young at St.

George that was both official and personal. "Permit me," he said, "as the

season approaches to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year,

with a hundred thousand more added."

I have listened with very great pleasure to the accounts given of the

progress of the Temple and your zeal and energy in hastening its completion;

and I shall feel, as yourself, like shouting Hosannah to God and the Lamb,

when another Temple shall be completed and dedicated in which the ordinances

of the Lord's house can be performed, in accordance with the holy priesthood

and acceptable to our heavenly Father.

It was gratifying for some time to hear of the good health that you

enjoyed, and I was very sorry to learn, more recently, of a slight attack of

your old complaint. I pray that your disease may stand rebuked and that the

lifegiving power of the Spirit of God may rest upon you, and flow through

you, that you may be enabled to carry out your desires in the advancement of

the Church and Kingdom of God on earth.

The Temple here is progressing as fast as we could reasonably expect, for

the season. There was a slight lull and withdrawal of hands for a short time;

but that is now avoided. Wells, myself and others have done a

little preaching on the subject, and laid before the people the necessity of

renewed and increased efforts in the [321] work, and there seems to be a

willingness and a strong desire among the people to complete this Temple. . .

. There are now between seventy and eighty stone cutters at work, and an

attempt is being made to get a number of fine workmen to do the face work.

As Territorial superintendent of district schools, Taylor discussed

in the letter the issuing of revised text books. The prophet's health was

failing, and Taylor closed with a fervent prayer.

Prest. Young, God bless you with health of body and strength of mind,

that you may be full of the Holy Ghost and the power of God, that your heart

may be joyous and happy; that your peace may flow as a river, the holy angels

watch over you continuously in time, and that in all the eternities you may

rejoice in the assemblies of the past, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

The following April, 1877, annual conference was held at St. George

in conjunction with dedication of the first temple completed in Utah.

Upon arrival in St. George, Taylor was concerned regarding Brigham

Young's health. The prophet had previously been using a crutch and cane;

but now he was unable to walk, and had to be carried about in an

armchair, made for the purpose by Howard Cottam.

Because of his health, there was talk that he might retire from

office in favor of his son, Brigham Jr., commonly known as "Young

Briggie." The Salt Lake Tribune published a number of predictions to this


[322] ST. GEORGE, April 6Three thousand Mormons attended the conference

today, which was declared convened by the Prophet Brigham. The Melchisedek, or

high priesthood, was represented by Brigham and his two sons, Briggy and

Johnny, the OneEyed Pirate , Cannon and nearly

all the Twelve Apostles....

This conference is proving a rather dull affair, as the real business,

the promotion of Briggy, is the absorbing thought of those who think at all.

Brigham Young made reference to persistent rumors by saying from the

stand, "Don't you worry who my successor will be. This is in the Lord's


Reporting the last day of conference, the Tribune said:

The conference was attended by the usual number of unwashed Saints today.

Wilford Woodruff addressed them in his usual corncutting style, exhorting

them to unquestioning obedience, and advising them to drink deeper of the cup

of Enoch. Apostle C. C. Rich also gave the Saints a long

discourse on Enoch, but . . . the truth is the priesthood does not feel so

exuberent as on former occasions . . . .

In the afternoon the officers of the Church were voted for. Old Brigham

was reelected President, Prophet, Seer, Revelator and TrusteeinTrust for

the Latterday fraud, thus beating the Prince out of his throne for another

six months at least.

Enoch! Enoch! Enoch! was the only subject brayed on today. Old Brigham is

trying to feather his nest before he dies.

A reason for emphasis on the United Order at the conference was to

rally the [323] Saints to unity in the face of grave danger. The truce

between the church and the world had been shattered recently by the trial

and conviction of John D. Lee for his part in the Mountain Meadows

tragedy twenty years previously. Lee had been executed nearby at Mountain

Meadows just three weeks before, and the Tribune called it "The Mountain

Meadows Conference."

Publication of Lee's Confessions had engendered widespread

excitement. T.B.H. Stenhouse and his wife, Fanny, also had each published

an unfriendly book, which added to the furor. A typical reaction came

from the New York Herald.

The execution of John D. Lee, the confession he made when confronting an

ignominious death, the implication of Brigham Young and other Mormon magnates

as accomplices in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and the new sense of

indignant hostility to the bloody, beastly, lawdefying hierarchy on the

border of the Great Salt Lake, contribute to make this the most important

occasion which has yet arisen for effacing the foul blot on American life

which has so long existed in the region of the Rocky Mountains. . . . (2)

The time has at length come for vigorous action, and it would be unwise

to let so favorable an opportunity slip. The first and most urgent thing to be

done is to bring all the accomplices to the Mountain Meadows Massacre to

justice. Their trial, condemnation and execution would be a great step toward

putting the public mind in a proper temper for dealing finally and effectually

with the troublesome Mormon question. The next great step will be the passage

by Congress of such laws as will thoroughly uproot polygamy and the abject

slavery of women which it involves . . . .

[324] For the present we only insist on the vigorous execution of the criminal

laws against John D. Lee's bloodstained accomplices. (3)

In this resurgence of enmity, the Salt Lake Tribune became venomous.

With the same issue reporting the final day of conference, it published a

supplement of "Mormon Horrors!"

The Mormon priests, just now, are preaching louder than ever before the

three grand necessities of Mormonismunity, righteousness and obedience. This

sounds very sanctifying, no doubt to the people outside of Utah, who know

nothing of the significance of these terms in the Mormon vocabulary. Their

unity, righteousness and obedience are all expressed in one word of common

Englishsubserviencyto the will of Brigham Young . . . .

John D. Lee is an illustrious example of Mormon subserviency. For thirty

years he knew no human or divine will but that of Brigham Young. . . . When he

at last became a convict as a legitimate reward for a lifetime's compliance

with the will of the heartless despot who had made so good use of him, Brigham

sends him word by his faithful wife, Rachel, "Tell Brother John not to give

himself any uneasiness. Not a hair of his head shall be harmed."

Relying still, as in the past, upon the word of this insidious enemy of

mankindliterally hanging upon his inspired utterancesJohn D. Lee was

cajoled into silence which really cost him his life; for had he turned State's

evidence and made his confession prior to his final conviction, he would have

been spared to testify to the guilty conspiracy of his masters, the real

projectors and instigators of the terrible deed.

"See what a lifetime's obedience to Brigham Young has brought me to!"

exclaimed the sacrificed Lee, as he stood at the end of his coffin, upon the

brink of eternity.


At the height of the resurgence of the "Mormon problem," Brigham

Young died, 29 August 1877. The Deseret News reported:

At four o'clock this afternoon, PRESIDENT BRIGHAM YOUNG departed this

life, surrounded by his family and intimate friends. This announcement will

thrill the whole Territory with grief. We feel the weight of this great loss

to the world, and cannot at this moment express in the faintest degree our

deep sense of the void occasioned by his departure. He was a GREAT MAN in

every sense of the term. And he has left a mark upon the age which the future

will never efface, but which will grow brighter and broader as the man, his

deeds and his sentiments become better known and appreciated.

To the Latterday Saints he has been for more than thirtythree years a

counselor, a father, a friend, a guide, and a tower of strength. To all

mankind he has been a prophet and a benefactor so far as they would accept his

advice and receive his teachings.

He has, under God, rescued thousands from poverty and raised them to

independence, opened the deserts of these mountains to colonization, preached

the gospel of salvation to many nations, declared the counsel of heaven to

inhabitants of the earth, prepared the way in the Temples of God for the

redemption of hosts of the dead, organized and consolidated the order of the

everlasting Priesthood, and, having finished his work on earth, gone into the

spirit world to join with Joseph, Hyrum, Willard, Jedediah, Heber, George A.

and other great and glorious servants of the Lord, to continue the divine work

they all labored for on earth.

We mourn his departure. But they rejoice in great gain. If a mighty man

has left us in grief, a mightier spirit is received among them with welcomings

and gladness. For his freed soul, no longer clogged with the cares and pains

of fading mortality, will wield a potent influence behind the veil.


There were persistent rumors that Brigham Young did not die from

natural causes."Like all great men, he has had bitter enemies," the

Deseret News stated.

No man has been more villified, misrepresented and falsely accused than

Brigham Young. His life has been frequently sought. The bullet and the knife

of the assassin have been prepared to shed his heart's blood, and plots have

been illegally laid by the emissaries of the law to rob, imprison, and destroy

him. But the hand of the Lord has delivered him on every occasion. (4)

To quiet rumors of foul play, John Taylor arranged for immediate

publication of the report by attending physicians.


In order to satisfy the feelings of many of our readers and answer

numerous inquiries concerning the particulars of the last sickness of our late

beloved President, we publish the following, arranged from reports made by

Drs. Seymour B. Young and F. D. Benedict, and others who were present during

the last hours of the President's earthly existence:

President Young's sickness commenced on Thursday, Aug. 23, continuing the

whole of the afternoon. He had an inclination to vomit, but he continued to

attend to his business as usual. In the evening he was present at a Bishop's

meeting in the Council House, and instructed the brethren in their duties,

speaking with marked point and power.

At 11 o'clock at night, on retiring, he was seized with an attack of

cholera morbus, the usual symptoms of vomiting and purging being almost

continuous until five o'clock Friday morning, when, at his own request, a mild

opiate was administered hypodermically into each foot, to relieve the intense

pain, caused by the constant cramping of the muscles.

[327] During the whole of that day his sufferings were great, continuing

through most of the night, but becoming less severe towards Saturday morning,

when he slept for a few hours. This was the first rest he enjoyed from the

commencement of his attack. During the whole of this period he endured his

pain cheerfully, and occasionally made humorous remarks as was his wont when

he saw those around him inclined to be troubled.

Inflamation of the bowels set in on Saturday at 3 p.m., and the abdomen

commenced to swell. One small dose, half a grain of opium, was administered,

and at midnight the same quantity . . . . Throughout Sunday he continued, both

while awake and asleep, to moan. When asked if he suffered pain his invariable

reply was, "No, I don't know that I do." During the same night his sufferings

were less severe, but continuous, although at eight o'clock he had a grain of

opium and at midnight half a grain.

On Monday morning, at eight o'clock, he showed increasing symptoms of

nervous prostration, by constant moving of the hands and twitching of the

muscles of the arms. One grain of opium was administered, and from then till

12 noon, he suffered severely. Another grain of opium was given him and at

8:20 in the evening and a half grain more. About 9 o'clock he sank into a

quite sleep, resting without moaning. During Sunday and Monday he had

received, at intervals of half an hour, a table spoonful of milk and brandy,

an ounce of the latter to eight of the former. . . . About 10 o'clock Monday

evening he sank into a semicomatose condition, from which it was difficult to

arouse him, although by persuasion, he swallowed the milk mixture every half

hour and a teaspoonful of ice water at intervals.

At one o'clock on Tuesday morning, warm stimulating injections were

given, after which he thoroughly aroused, and, by the aid of his attendants

got out of bed twice. At four o'clock the same morning he sank down in bed

apparently lifeless. Artificial respiration was resorted to, by [328] which

the lungs were kept inflated, and hot poultices were placed over the heart, to

stimulate its action . . . .

Hands were laid upon him by the various brethren very frequently from the

time he was attacked until his demise. President John. W. Young and others

administered to him the ordinance for the sick, calling on the Almighty to

restore him . . . . While lying in a kind of stupor, his son John W. asked

him, "Do you know me, Father?" He responded, "I rather guess I do . . . ." He

subsequently revived and spoke to those around him, saying he felt better and

wished to rest.

This condition remained until about 8 in the evening when partial

prostration again ensued, and his case was considered exceedingly critical by

the attendant physicians, Drs. S. B. Young, W. F. Anderson, J. M. Benedict and

F. D. Benedict. After consultation, an entire filling up of the lower part of

the bowels by injection was determined upon, for the purpose of creating an

action through the alimentary canal, but was not persevered in, on account of

fainting symptoms, and the patient objecting to the treatment, which caused

him to cry out with pain. He passed the night in a semicomatose state.

On Wednesday morning symptoms of approaching dissolution were plainly

evident. The early coma was entirely attributable, so the doctors say, to a

poisoning of the blood, from a pressure of the swelled bowels, causing a

prevention of return currents of the circulation to the heart and lungs. . . .

The temperature and pulsations were taken frequently, the temperature

remaining at 99 until 4 a.m. on Wednesday when it rose to 1013/4, and to 105

just previous to his decease. His pulse ranged from 120 to 128, the latter

being reached after the administration of the stimulating medicines. . . . (5)


It was reported that Brigham Young's last coherent words were,

"Joseph, Joseph, Joseph!"

On 3 September the Deseret News reported the funeral:

Yesterday morning the glorious sun, shining bright and clear from a

cloudless and lovely sky, ushered in one of the finest and calmest Sabbath

days ever seen in Utah. Special trains from the north, the south, and the

west, brought in vast crowds of people from points far and near to witness the

obsequities of President Brigham Young....

There was a continuous stream of living humanity passing through the

Tabernacle . . . to view the mortal remains of our departed President . . . .

It is estimated that nearly 25,000 persons took their last farewell of the

honored dead. . . .

Precisely at 12 noon, the immense congregation was called to order by

Elder George Q. Cannon, who at the request of the family conducted the


After opening prayer by Elder F. D. Richards, there were remarks by

President D. H. Wells, and Elders Wilford Woodruff, Erastus Snow, George

Q. Cannon, and, as final speaker, John Taylor.

Today is a solemn day for Israel. We have before us the body of the man

who has led us for the past thirtythree years. Thirtythree years ago I was

with and witnessed the departure of our first President, Joseph Smith. . . .

Both of these presidents had the faith and confidence of the Saints of the

Most High, and the guidance and direction of the Lord. And the feelings of the

people as exhibited here, the gathering together of this Priesthood and the

Saints which I see before me today, is evidence of the respect and kindness

that beat in every heart and throb through every pulse. . . .

[330] As has been said, his name and his fame are known among all people, and

a knowledge of these events has spread to the uttermost bounds of the

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