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

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everlasting hills.... The former President, Joseph Smith, and this our late

President, Brigham Young, meet again face to face in the eternal worlds. Both

have triumphed, both have overcome.

There were dire predictions by the world press that Mormonism would

dwindle and wither away without Brigham Young's leadership. "The success

of Mormonism," said the San Francisco Chronicle, "will depend much on the

man who shall become Young's successor."

Other papers had varied reactions, reflecting attitudes of the day.

During the last ten years of his life we have not been ashamed to own him

as a friend, and to receive frequent proofs of his friendly regard in return .

. . . Brigham Young is dead, and in his grave will be buried the strength and

the hopes of a people of whose peculiar religious and social institutions he

was the founder and chief support.

Brigham Young is dead, and he died, full of years and of crimes, in his

bed. There can be no question that he was a man of very remarkable ability;

and in weighing the black deeds that stain his name it is necessary also to

reckon the many evidences his career affords of mental power and

administrative capacity. The history of Brigham Young, however, is the history

of Mormonism. He it was who made the Church a living community. By introducing

terror and superstition, by practicing at once the arts of modern civilization

and the devices of medieval tyranny, [331] he succeeded in establishing a

compact, selfsupporting, bigoted and disloyal community

With the death of Brigham Young, a crisis in the existence of the church

must occur . . . .

He has labored unceasingly to populate the Territory with the most

ignorant and deluded creatures of Europe; he has fomented treason and raised

troops to fight the Government; he has opposed free schools and popular

education; he has inhibited free religious worship; he has . . . prevented

free speech and tried to muzzle a free press; he has placed a barrier in the

face of every democratic advancement of the age; he has made the Territory a

perfect pandemonium of debauchery and crime. Ignorance was the platform on

which he had planted the Church....

There is no monument, save the name of Mormon, which will mark the

Prophet's late existence, and though a hundred thousand Saints may weep at his

death, in the course of a few decades his name will either be totally

forgotten or remembered only as that of a wicked humbug or an arrant knave.

The death of the pretended vicegerent of God will be hailed with genuine

delight all over the land. Satan will hold a nine days' jubilee, and summon

from the lowest depth of hell the fiends incarnate, to welcome the impostor.

There will be a little hell on earth in the vicinity of Salt Lake City, for a

while, at least, and during the struggle for the succession some of the

remaining human butchers may go to join Brigham. We trust that such may be the

case, for while they live the moral atmosphere of Utah will remain unpurified.

With the death of the leaders the Mormon problem would be solved and the

disgrace of the nineteenth century obliterated.


Say what we may, his success was wonderful. The imagination is taxed to

comprehend the facts. He built a city, subdued a wilderness, and in defiance

of almost insurmountable obstacles organized not only his church, but society

. . . . The wilderness was made to bloom. Cities rose as if by magic.

Manufacturers flourished, and, remote from civilization, the most difficult

problems of civilization were successfully worked out under the management of

Brigham Young.

His word was law; his will supreme. He taught his followers that he was

in direct communication with Jehovah, and his revelations had the sacredness

of the old Sinai commands. During his career, Brigham Young had his eye to the

money side of the question, and made himself immensely rich. He lived in

luxury. The Lord only knows the number of his children, grandchildren and

greatgrandchildren. . . .

Since he is dead, who will step into his shoes? Evidently no man living

can assume command, and though it would be rash to assume that Mormonism is

dead, it would be equally rash to believe that it can survive for any extended

period the death of its great leader.

The world will await with impatience the next step in Mormondom that will

bring to the front the leader who is to make the Latterday Saints the

greatest people in the world, or to burst the bubble of fanaticism,

transforming the Saints into sinners and leaving us just where we were when

the angel Moroni called Joseph from the plow to open the final Gospel

Dispensation. Which shall it be?


What changes will the death of this extraordinary man bring to the

Mormons? Polygamy must be done away with, for with the extensive settlements

all around them, they cannot long sustain it. The Government has also ceased,

to tolerate it. There will be a struggle for the succession, but it is

believed the death of Young will divide the Mormons, in which event the sect

will be overrun by outside pressure, and gradually disappear.

It is hard to speak of him just as he deserves. When we think of the man

who gathered his rough followers together, led them to a then almost

unexplored wilderness, and, sitting down with a tremendous wall of mountains

behind him and nothing but a sagebrush desert and hostile tribes before him,

commenced the founding of a city and the building up of homes, it reminds us

of Cortez burning his ships on an unknown coast. And when we think how he

field his followers to him until the desert smiled with waving fields and the

city shone like a gem on the dusky breast of an Indian girl, we find much to

admire, and are forced to say that no man, except he possessed remarkable

energy, judgment, will, courage, magnetism and brain power, could ever have

done what Brigham Young accomplished.

Had he been guided by a lofty principle, there would have been sorrow

everywhere when he came to die. But, unfortunately, he had not a thought which

was not selfish; not a desire which was not unhallowed. . . . He has planted a

plague spot in the depths of our continent.... He was a false light; it is

well the light has gone out.

In the death of Brigham Young the Mormon Church has lost its power. No

successor to Brigham, although [334] invested with all the pomp and solemnity

of the Church, will ever be a Brigham Young. . . . Brigham was the backbone of

Mormonism as opposed to National Unity, and the backbone being gone,

necessarily there must be dissolution.

The Deseret News was as a voice in the wilderness, countering the

popular press forecasts of impending disaster.

"The Mormon system will be put on trial for its existence with the death

of Brigham Young."

The above, from the Omaha Herald, expresses a sentiment entertained by a

very large number of people in both hemispheres. The popular idea is that the

whole Mormon Church is comprehended in its head, and that with the removal of

the leader the body must fall to pieces....

The opinions now entertained and very generally expressed by the press of

the country prevailed at the time of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

Indeed, those who planned, desired or consented to the death of the great

Prophet and Seer of the nineteenth century excused themselves . . . by the

argument that the death of the leader was the death of the system, and that

his removal would dispose of the "Mormon question," and scatter the Mormon

people forever.

But history has demonstrated their error. As in former times, the blood

of the martyrs proved the "seed of the church," and Mormonism flourished and

extended, took deeper root and bore riper fruit than ever before. Great

emergencies bring forth great men. The man for the times comes to the front. .

. .

This is not the Church of Joseph Smith, not of Brigham Young, but of

Jesus Christ. . . . The strength of this work is in its divinity. The

Latterday Saints worship God, not man. They partake, individually, of the

same spirit [335] that rests upon their leaders. Theirs is not a blind path.

They walk in the light, and cling to the men who are placed in authority,

because the spirit of truth bears witness to their calling, and because they

understand something of the order of that priesthood which God has restored to

direct erring humanity in the road which leads to His Eternal Presence.

The "Mormon system" has always been on trial. It has been continually

subjected to severe tests, from the day of its birth into the world. It is no

more in danger now than at any period of its earthly existence. It will

steadily advance, spreading the knowledge of the truth concerning God and His

designs in relation to the human family, working out the plan of salvation for

the living and the dead, and preparing the way for the feet of Him whose right

it is to reign over all the earth. (6)

It must be remembered that the question of succession had no easy

answer at this time. Only once before had leadership changed hands, and

at that time rivalry over succession had splintered the Saints into many

dissident groups. Less than half the church membership in the Nauvoo area

followed Brigham Young to Utah.

There also was uncertainty over ranking in the Quorum of the Twelve.

Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, and Wilford Woodruff had at previous times been

ranked ahead of John Taylor in the Quorum of the Twelve. Each of the four

men might claim the right of succession. (7)

In an article headed "THE SUCCESSORSHIP," the Salt Lake Tribune

discussed various factions, personalities and possibilities involved:

[336] Speculations are many and varied, both inside and outside the pale of

the Church, as to who will succeed to its Presidency. Three distinct and

widely diverse parties or interests claim our attention as to the probable

future governing power of Mormonism.

First is the Smith family, the acknowledged leader of whom is Joseph

, the present head of the Smith faction of the Mormon Church and eldest

son of the founder of Mormonism. (8) Second is the Young dynasty represented

by Brigham, Jr., and John W, Young. Thirdly are the Twelve Apostles of the

Church, of whom John Taylor is the nominal President. The question is, which

of these parties, or interests, will obtain control of the Church?...

The chief priestly and presiding power is the Apostleship . . . . Joseph

Smith ordained and set apart twelve men to be Apostles of this dispensation;

of this number Brigham Young was one, and at the time of Smith's death was the

senior or first apostle. By virtue of this Apostleship, and this only, Brigham

and his quorum succeeded to the control of the Church. For over three years

the Twelve jointly presided; and they made a fatal mistake when they isolated

Brigham and two others from their number and created a First, Presidency.

The subsequent experience of Hyde, Pratt, Taylor, Lyman and others,

proves that they created a power they could not controlthat they made a rod

for their own backs. . . . (9)

The Apostleship, then, being the ruling power in the church, and

Brigham's accession to power having been by virtue of his Apostleship, and by

the will of his fellow Apostles, it clearly follows that with Brigham gone the

only power that can rightly assume control of the Church is the Quorum of the

Twelve Apostles. Brigham's counselors do not figure at all in this matter. It

has been a custom always for any President of the Church, from the head down

to a small branch president, to choose his own counselors to suit himself. . .

. Brigham's two counselors, [337] D. H. Wells and John W. Young, were lay

members. Neither of them was ever an Apostle. . . . (10)

There can scarcely be any doubt but the Youngs, notwithstanding the

Apostles have a clear right to control, will endeavor to obtain their father's

place. John W. will no doubt assume that his counselorship to his father

entitles him to a place in the new Presidency; and Brigham, Jr., will probably

assert his right to the first place by virtue of his heirship to the deceased

prophet, seer and President. (11)

It will be interesting to watch who will go in with the boys to furnish

brains for the new triumvirate. . . . This Young faction will carry with them

all the men who occupy places of profit and emolument under the old regime . .

. . It will also carry a majority of the most pliant tools of the late

chieftain, the men who have acted as secret police, spies, block teachers,

etc. These forces, it must be admitted, would give the boys a good start in

the race. . . .

There is a powerful undercurrent in the Mormon Church, especially among

the older members, in favor of the Smith family. This was plainly demonstrated

last year when Joseph Smith visited this city. It is claimed by many that the

first Prophet predicted that his posthumous son, David, would be the future

leader of Israel. Others claim that Joseph was ordained by his father. Anyway,

the name of Smith has a charm for all the old Mormons, and Brigham's exacting avarice, tyranny and worldliness have caused thousands to look back with fondness to Smith's more generous rule, and forward to an uncertain future

when some change for the better will come.

They believe that Brigham's death will bring about that long desired change. This element only wants a leader to carry them over to the sons of the Prophet Smith. Now is Joseph > Smith's opportunity. Will he avail himself

of [338] it? If so, he should be here on the sixth of October next, and in the

tabernacle announce himself as the only rightful successor of Joseph the

Prophet, and he will get thousands to follow him . . . .

But the great body of the Mormon people who believe in their religion,

and who have no selfish motives to serve, will beyond a doubt go with the

Twelve, if the Twelve act in unison and point the way. Will they do this? To

answer this question, the personnel of that quorum must be considered, but our

space will not admit of a proper estimate of these men in this article.

Suffice it to say that Cannon will probably go with the Young

boys. Jos. F. Smith would hardly know whether to go with the Twelve or join

the Smith party, but the chances would be in favor of blood.

Carrington and Richards would try to be on the winning side. If

Taylor, Pratt and Hyde can agree, they will probably

carry the rest of their quorum with the above exceptions and reservations.


Another factor, the Tribune said, concerned the standing of John

Taylor. "Although the first called of the Twelve, he is not the President

of that quorum, that elevation being still held by Orson Hyde." The paper

concluded that "The situation is decidedly interesting, and the ungodly

in Zion will find entertainment enough in merely watching proceedings."


When the Twelve, together with the two members of the former First

Presidency, met together two days after Brigham Young's funeral, the

world waited for the decision. John Taylor subsequently in his Succession

in the Priesthood discussed matters taken up by that council. (14)

. . . The Twelve, when they were first organized, were directed to have

the oldest man selected for their [339] President, who was Thomas B. Marsh.

There were similar arrangements made in many instances in regard to High

Councilors, and in such cases they were regulated, if my memory serves me

right, in the same way. This is my understanding of the order in the early

history of the church. . . . If the Priesthood administers in time and in

eternity; and if quorums of this kind are organized upon the earth, and this

Priesthood is not taken away, but continued with them in the heavens, we do

not wish, I think, to break up the order of the Priesthood upon the earth; and

it would seem to be necessary that these principles of perpetuity or

continuity should be held sacred among us. . . .

This principle is confirmed by the Prophet Joseph Smith in an address to

the Saints, embodied in the Doctrine and Covenants. He writes:

"And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel

from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the Prophetsthe book to be

revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca County,

declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book. The voice of Michael

on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an

angel of light. The voice of Peter, James and John in the wilderness, between

Harmony, Susquehanna County, and Colesville, Broome County, on the Susquehanna

River, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the

dispensation of the fulness of times.

"And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in

Fayette, Seneca County, and at sundry times, and in divers places through all

the travels and tribulations of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday

Saints. And the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of

Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam, down to the present time,

all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their majesty and

glory, and the power of their Priesthood; [340] giving line upon line, precept

upon precept; here a little, and there a littlegiving us consolation by

holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope. . . ."

As I stated, the Twelve, when they were called, were placed on the same

footing that I have referred to, and Thomas B. Marsh was the senior of that

quorum; hence he was appointed, and he is spoken of in the revelations, as

their President. At the time of his apostacy, there was another change made.

David W. Patten would have been the next, had he lived, but he was killed in

Missouri before Thomas B. Marsh apostatized. Had he lived, he would have been

President of the Twelve, instead of Brigham Young. But he died, and

consequently Brigham Young, being the senior member of the Twelve, was

appointed in his place. (15)

Now in regard to the apostacy of Thomas B. Marsh.... (16) The fact of a

President of the Twelve, who ought to be true to his trust, Apostleship and

calling, and the guardian and protector of the people, making such statements,

is truly infamous. . . . Thomas B. Marsh was unquestionably "instigated by the

devil . . . ." The consequence was he was cut off from the Church. When he was

cut off, he seemed to have lost all the spirit and power and manhood that he

once enjoyed. . . .

Taylor recalled Joseph's exhortation to the Twelve not to betray

heaven, Jesus Christ, their brethren, or the revelations of God. "But

whatever you do, do not betray your friends."

came to me on a certain occasion, and quoted this

affidavit which Marsh had made, and told me he would give his life over and

over again, if it were possible, to wipe out the recollections of that act;

but I think, as I said before, that Brother Hyde was scarcely in his right

mind; he was laboring under a fever and was hardly himself. . . . He went on a

mission to Jerusalem and to other places, and proved himself as faithful as he

knew [341] how to be. But he was not, I think, the man that he was before.

Such things affect men. . . .

Far West, John E. Page . . . and I were ordained into the Quorum of

the Twelve at the same meeting. Brother Woodruff was ordained after the scenes

of the war at Far West on the cornerstone of the foundation of the Temple, and

I helped to ordain him. Brother George A. Smith was ordained at the same time

. . . .

Now we come to some other events . . . . Through some inadvertence, or

perhaps mixed up with the idea of seniority of age taking the precedence,

Wilford Woodruff's name was placed on the records of the time, and for many

years after, before that of John Taylor. (17) This matter was investigated

some time afterwards by President Young and his council . . . and it was voted

on and decided that his name be placed before Wilford Woodruff's, although

Wilford Woodruff was the older man. The reason assigned for this change was

that although both were called at the same time, John Taylor was ordained into

the Twelve prior to Wilford Woodruff; and another prominent reason would be

that as John Taylor assisted in the ordination of Elder Wilford Woodruff, he

therefore must precede him in the Council.

Another question arose afterwards on this same subject: Orson Hyde and

Orson Pratt had both of them been disfellowshipped and dropped from their

Quorum, and when they returned, without any particular investigation or

arrangement, they took the position in the Quorum which they had formerly

occupied . . . . Brother George A. Smith drew my attention to this matter . .

. . He stated at the same time that these brethren having been dropped from

the Quorum could not assume the position that they before had. . . . He

stated, at the same time, that these questions might become very serious ones,

in case of a change of circumstances arising from death or otherwise;

remarking, also, that I stood before them in the Quorum. I told him I was

aware of that, and of the correctness of the position [342] assumed by him,

and had been for years, but that I did not choose to agitate or bring up a

question of that kind. Furthermore, I stated that, personally, I cared nothing

about the matter, and, moreover, I entertained a very high esteem for both the

parties named; while, at the same time, I could not help but see, with him,

that complications might hereafter arise. Some time after, in Sanpete, in

June, 1875, President Young brought up the subject of seniority, and stated

that John Taylor was the man that stood next to him; and that where he was

not, John Taylor presided. He also made the statement that Brother Hyde and

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