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Chapter Eleven

In 1852, Brigham Young announced to the world that Latter-day Saints believed in the principle of plural marriage. For a few years prior to 1852, discussion of the principle had been an "open secret" among the Saints.(365) This doctrine was sufficiently offensive to members of the United States congress that they passed several laws during the ensuing four decades that ultimately disfranchised The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members, providing prison terms to those practicing plural marriage.(366)

The sacrifices required by Church members, both monogamists and those practicing the principle of plural marriage, after 1852 became increasingly significant. Believers were taught that to receive the fullest exaltation, they needed to participate in plural marriage,(367) however, new laws with severe penalties inhibited overt, if not covert compliance. During the 1880's, Church leaders and others practicing plural marriage were forced onto "the underground" away from their families and daily Church activity to avoid detection. By the year 1890, the United States Government was threatening to take possession of the Church property including the Temples constructed at St. George, Logan, and Manti, Utah. President Wilford Woodruff faced a challenge unlike any previous Church leader: how to continue obeying the commandments to perform missionary work, ordinance work for the dead, the building of Zion, and the practice of plural marriage when it appeared that living the latter principle would preclude the realization of the former directives?

In that atmosphere Wilford Woodruff brought forth the Manifesto which signaled the end of Plural Marriage within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A copy of the Manifesto is found within the box on the previous page. The issuing of that document informed the Latter-day Saints that they were to obey the laws of the land respecting plural marriage. In evaluating the effect of the Manifesto on the Church and the Fundamentalist movement, the answers from each group to three questions can define several important differences:

1. What was the Manifesto?

2. Who wrote the Manifesto?

3. Why was the Manifesto given?

THE CHURCH - What was the Manifesto?

Latter-day Saints today maintain that the Manifesto of 1890 was an inspired document that accomplished at least two things:

1. Informed the Saints that the Lord was no longer requiring the practice of Plural Marriage.(368)

2. Satisfied the nonmembers and allowed the Church to continue its efforts in missionary work, work for the dead, and building Zion.

By 1890, it had become very obvious to President Woodruff that governmental reactions to plural marriage significantly inhibited the effectiveness of missionary efforts, work for the dead, and the building of Zion.
Year Commanded Permitted Not authorized
1829     *****
1833-35   *****  
1852 *****    
1890   *****  
After 1904-1907     *****

THE CHURCH - Who wrote the Manifesto?

The following account relates the authorship and preparations for publication of the Manifesto:

As the Church president entered his office the morning of 24 September 1890, he told Bishop John R. Winder and President George Q. Cannon that he had not slept much the night before. He had been "struggling all night with the Lord about what should be done under the existing circumstances of the Church. And, he said, laying some papers upon the table, `here is the result.' Upon these was written what, with the exception of some light changes, is known as the manifesto."(369) He then showed the Brethren assembled before him the document he had written. After they had approved it and prepared it for publication, President Woodruff declared that the Lord had made it plain to him what he was to do and that it was the right thing.(370) [Underlining added.]

Thus, after "struggling all night with the Lord," Wilford Woodruff was able to present the brethren with the original document that became the Manifesto.(371) Some modern polygamists wish to discredit the Manifesto by claiming it was a product of inspiration and not revelation.(372) President Woodruff stated "that the Manifesto was just as authoritative and binding as though it had been given in the form of `Thus saith the Lord'..."(373) Therefore, the distinction has little merit. The document came to the Church signed by the Prophet of God, the President of the High Priesthood, the "one man" who held the keys of sealing authority: Wilford Woodruff.

THE CHURCH - Why was the Manifesto given?

To suggest that the Manifesto was entirely unrelated to the growing persecution the Church was exposed to in 1890 would be inaccurate. Various state and federal laws had been utilized by the governments since the Saints were settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, attempting to eliminate plural marriage. Church members had endured the suffering inflicted upon them by the various bureaucracies because they believed that obeying God was better than obeying man. Likewise, they maintained that the eternal reward justified whatever sacrifice was required.

So in September of 1890 God said, "It is enough," and accepted the sacrifice of the Saints. In 1891, George Q. Cannon explained what occurred:

I know myself that it was the will of God that the Manifesto should be given. I know it was the will of God that the word should go to the Latter-day Saints that plural marriage should cease and that we should conform to the requirements of the law...

God gave the command, and it required the command of God to cause us to change our attitude. President Woodruff holds the same authority that the man did through whom the revelation came to the Church. It required the same authority to say to us, "It is enough." God has accepted of your sacrifice. He has looked down upon you and seen what you have passed through, and how determined you were to keep His commandments, and now He says, "It is enough." It is the same authority that gave us the principle. It is not the word of man. Now, it is for us to obey the Law.(374)

As Latter-day Saints review the wonderful blessings associated with the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, they note the promises are extended to monogamists as well as members practicing plural marriage:

And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them --- Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths -- then shall it be written in the Lamb's Book of Life... and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in al things, as hath been sealed upon their heads which glory shall be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end. (D&C 132:19-20.)

Nothing is stated requiring the practice of plural marriage to receive the promises, including "a continuation of seeds forever and ever."(375) These verses, accompanied by the 1890 Manifesto, more easily demonstrate the eternal blessings anticipated by all believing Latter-day Saints.


There are many different Fundamentalist reactions to the Manifesto of 1890. Modern polygamist groups disagree with each other on many doctrinal topics, the Manifesto included. Multiple attempts to expose the document as an uninspired endeavor which resulted from placing faith in the arm of flesh have been promoted. The details of the various narratives are interesting. While Fundamentalists interpretations may differ on many aspects surrounding the manifesto, they all believe that it did not remove the requirement to live the principle of plural marriage.

FUNDAMENTALISTS - What was the Manifesto?

Fundamentalists have supplied us with a variety of answers. The Manifesto was:

1. Man's permission to break God's Law.(376)

2. A Covenant with death and Hell; a fulfillment of Isaiah 28:15.(377)

3. Fulfillment of D&C 130:14-17.(378)

4. From the "lower regions."(379) A smoke screen.(380) Inspired by Satan,(381) etc.

The Manifesto purportedly provided the permission of man to break God's Law. Musser has written:

By permission of the leaders, laws and ordinances have been broken and changed to better accommodate the efforts of the Saints to be one with the world. (Truth 6:109.)

Fundamentalists generally concede that the Manifesto was issued by the "one" anointed and appointed who held the Keys of the Sealing Power and who was President of the High Priesthood, but they submit that it was not inspired and therefore is not truly binding on the Saints. Exactly how the Lord's prophet could be allowed to deceived His people, as Fundamentalists allege, and still remain the Lord's mouthpiece on earth is seldom addressed by modern polygamist authors.

The Manifesto was a "covenant with death and hell, a fulfillment of Isaiah 28:15. A contributed article to the periodical Truth read:

President Wilford Woodruff fulfilled the words of Isaiah, (28:15) when he signed the Manifesto:

"Because ye have said, we have made a covenant with death, and with hell we are at agreement." (Truth, 6:20.)

Isaiah 28:14-15 reads:

Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.

Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: (Isaiah 28:14-15.)

The strong language used by Isaiah was appropriate for the wicked leaders presiding over the people in Jerusalem at that time.

We know that Isaiah spoke in parallels that allow many of his writings to apply to the latter-days. However, for these verses to also pertain to 1890, the modern day "scornful men" referred to would have to be President Wilford Woodruff and the other Church leaders who presided over the people during the time that plural marriage was discontinued. Fundamentalists generally hesitate to directly condemn these Priesthood Authorities for supporting the Manifesto. In light of the wonderful spiritual experiences they enjoyed after the Manifesto was issued,(382) it is very inconsistent to believe that such harsh words could also be directed at them.

To support the idea that the Woodruff Manifesto was a "covenant with death and hell" they quote the following:

It is authentically reported that immediately after President Woodruff signed the Manifesto, he said: "My God what have I done?" Joseph F. Smith his second Counselor, replied: "You have made a covenant with death and an agreement with hell, that's what you have done."(383)

There is nothing to support that this conversation ever occurred and it contradicts comments made by President Woodruff on September 24, 1890. No reference is ever given, only "it is authentically reported..." This fabricated conversation is repeated several times in Fundamentalist literature. It shows the lengths to which certain Fundamentalist authors will extend themselves in their attempts to discredit the Woodruff Manifesto.

The Manifesto fulfilled Doctrine and Covenants 130:14-17. On April 2, 1843, Joseph Smith gave some items of instruction which included the following:

I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following:

Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.

I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face.

I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time. (D&C 130:14-17.) [Underlining by the authors.]

Since Joseph Smith was born December 23, 1805, his 85th birthday would have occurred on that date in December, 1890, about three months after the issuing of the Manifesto. Concerning this prophecy, a prominent Fundamentalist, Rulon C. Allred, wrote:

Let me indicate its fulfillment upon that date, namely, "during the latter part of the year 1890." when the Manifesto was signed September 24, 1890 and accepted by the gentile Church on October 6, 1890. (Truth 3:78.)

It is perplexing to ponder the theory that the Manifesto and the Lord's promise to Joseph Smith that "if he lived to be 85, he would see the face of the Savior" as recorded in D&C 130 are somehow related. It is true that both involve the year 1890, but that is where any connection ends. This again illustrates the compelling desire of some Fundamentalists to enlist any quotation in support of their theology, even if their arguments are entirely inconsistent.

The Manifesto was from the "lower regions," a smoke screen, and inspired by Satan. The number and variety of criticisms used by Fundamentalists to describe the Woodruff Manifesto exemplify their contempt for the document. Still, little effort is expended to explain why the Lord would have allowed His prophet to issue it as he did.

FUNDAMENTALISTS - Who wrote the Manifesto?

Consistent with their testimony that the Manifesto was not inspired, Fundamentalists assert that many individuals, including anti-Mormons, were involved in producing the document:

Incident to an investigation of the Manifesto, one soon learns that President Woodruff did not write it. It was written by Charles W. Penrose, assisted by Elder Frank J. Cannon and John White. After its preparation, it was submitted to a committee of non-Mormons, Judges Charles S. Zane, C. S. Varian, and O.W. Powers, none of whom were well known for their friendship for the Mormons and their institutions. A change of wording was insisted upon in the Manifesto, and the document was recopied by a clerk named Green... President Woodruff, fully aware of the situation and the designs of the Lord signed the completed document. (Most Holy Principle, 4:67-68, Truth 1:20[8].)

Fundamentalists therefore believe the original "Manifesto" was written by a group of Latter-day Saints first.(384) However, they also often quote a dubious account attributing the 1890 Manifesto to Elder Charles W. Penrose alone.(385) This document, it is claimed, was then reviewed by several anti-Mormons(386) and then submitted to Wilford Woodruff for his signature. One confusing entry in the Journal of Joseph W. Musser in 1922 recorded that Lorin C. Woolley claimed: "He knew the Manifesto, because he helped to make it."(387) It is ridiculous to believe that Lorin C. Woolley, as a 33 year-old monogamist, would have had anything to do with the 1890 Manfesto.

The Fundamentalist accounts of the history of the Woodruff Manifesto are impressive in light of the many details they provide. Specific individuals are named and the particulars of their interactions explained. These qualities impress the average reader and improve the overall believability of their stories. Unfortunately for modern polygamists, it just did not happen that way. As shown earlier in this chapter, the original draft of the Manifesto was penned by Wilford Woodruff and no non-Mormons were involved in preparing that document for publication. The exact origin of the many fictional components is unknown. However, as with the detailed versions of the 1886 vision and alleged ordinations by Lorin C. Woolley, possibly some sincere Fundamentalist was simply "remembering things forgotten"(388) which can be tantamount to inventing an incident that never occurred. Nevertheless, such "recollections" are generally developed with sincerity.

The greatest challenge presenting Fundamentalists who declare the Manifesto was uninspired and unapproved of God, is to not personally criticize Wilford Woodruff for signing it. They attempt to discredit the Manifesto, without discrediting him. Reasons for this include:

1. He received several visions and spiritual manifestations after signing the Manifesto.(389)

2. There was no Fundamentalist leader available to fill the void he would have created if the manifesto was divinely unapproved.(390)

Personal criticisms do exist. Musser wrote:

Wilford Woodruff, as good a man as he was and as faithful and true to his covenants as he had been in earlier years, was not "alert and active" at the time of the signing of the Manifesto. He was in his 84th year of age, was weak both physically and mentally. (Truth 4:146.)

Even if this were true, it is unclear exactly how such an observation would discredit the Manifesto. Generally, most Fundamentalists speak of President Wilford Woodruff in a positive manner. Some Fundamentalist authors go so far as to claim that President Woodruff believed the Saints would not accept the Manifesto:

The writer is informed through sources considered by him perfectly reliable that President Wilford Woodruff did not believe for one moment previous to the presentation of that manifesto that the people would vote for its approval. It has been reported to me that he made the statement before entering the conference session of that day, "the Saints will never approve of it." President Wilford Woodruff is reported to have grieved and felt more distressed over the final outcome in acceptance of the manifesto than any other being not possessing the knowledge he had been given could have felt. (A Leaf in Review, p. 196.)

Therefore, they strive to attribute the Manifesto to the transgression of Church members.(391)

FUNDAMENTALISTS - Why was the Manifesto Given?

As noted above, Fundamentalists strongly affirm that the Manifesto was unapproved of the Lord. In order to better explain how such a document could have been promoted by priesthood leaders, they suggest several theories:

1. The Church members demanded the Manifesto.(392)

2. The Saints were planning to obtain Statehood and then legalize polygamy.(393)

3. It was given to fool the gentiles while the Church secretly continued the practice of plural marriage.(394)

4. It came as a result of the wisdom of men, particularly Wilford Woodruff.(395)

Let's examine these ideas in greater detail.

The Church members demanded the Manifesto. Anyone familiar with God's dealings with His children knows that it is the responsibility of the Lord's prophet to boldly declare His word regardless of the desires of the people. Fundamentalists assert that the people wanted a Manifesto in 1890 and so the Lord gave them one to their condemnation:

The Saints demanded a certain situation and in harmony with the principle of agency and "common consent" (D&C 26:2), the Lord granted it, permitting His servant to sign it. (Truth 8:260.)

It is evident from what has already been written that we as a people did assume all responsibility and voluntarily surrendered plural marriage. God had nothing to do with it, only insofar as He permitted the people to use their own agency in accepting or rejecting the responsibility of His law. (Truth 8:202.)

A survey of Fundamentalist literature reveals that the most popular explanation of why the Lord would allow His prophet to issue the Manifesto is because "the people demanded it." As Musser put it, "It became necessary for the leaders to pacify the multitude."(396) Other common rhetoric states that the Saints of 1890 had become more concerned with their property and worldly possessions than with keeping the commandments of God and were hounding Wilford Woodruff "day and night for a declaration of recession of polygamy."(397) The 1929 Lorin Woolley account states:

Leading men from all over the Church [were] asking the leaders to do something, as the Gentiles were talking of confiscating their property in connection with the property of the Church. (Supplement, p. 56.)

It is true that some Church members had inquired to see if the Church's position on polygamy could be changed. Others had vocalized the trials they were required to bear. However, neither of these actions should be interpreted to mean that the general Church membership were desirous of a Manifesto if such a doctrinal change would limit their eternal exaltation or place them condemned before the Lord. For a member to state that they are enduring hardships is not tantamount to requesting that the trials be removed, especially if a spiritual penalty is attached.

Fundamentalists suggest that after the Manifesto of 1890, the Saints rejoiced because they were no longer required to suffer on account of polygamy. Others insinuate that the Manifesto allowed the Saints to glory in their property and mammon. This idea fits well into their narratives and theology, but unfortunately it just isn't true.

In truth, the Saints were somewhat confused by the Manifesto. This is why the Church Leaders felt it necessary to explain its meaning to the people in many subsequent discourses. The Fundamentalist "party line" that the Saints wanted a Manifesto at any cost to remove their persecutions is unfounded. Church members followed their leaders and accepted the counsel of President Woodruff. To reject a prophet's instruction, is to reject the prophet. This the Saints did not do.

It is true that any group of people can exercise their free agency and vote together to set aside a commandment of God. However, such an action would estrange them and their leaders from the Lord. As one views the continued progress the Church has made since 1890, His divine guidance and approval will be obvious to the sincere inquirer. Since most Fundamentalist factions still allow the Church enough authority and divine approval to perform missionary work and work for the dead, this proposed transgression is curious indeed. It is also quite convenient for the Fundamentalists who declare the Church's apostasy, but only to the point that the Church is still able to fulfill the commandments the Fundamentalists do not wish to fulfill. In order to justify this enigma, various polygamist apologists have suggested parallels with the Lord's divine dealings in previous ages. They say issuing the Manifesto was like:

1. Joseph Smith giving Martin Harris the 116 pages (D&C 3, 10).(398)

2. The Israelites demanding that Samuel give them a king (1 Samuel 8:6-10).(399)

3. The Israelites in the desert who rejected the higher law and were given the Law of Moses in its stead (Joseph Smith Translation - Exodus 34:1-2).(400)

These analogies place Wilford Woodruff in the position of Joseph Smith, Samuel, and Moses respectively. The Church becomes Martin Harris or the Israelites. Even a cursory examination of the attitudes of Church members prior to the issuing of the Manifesto fails to find the determination of a Martin Harris to have the 116 pages or the Israelites to have a king. Likewise, where is the wanton disregard for the Lord's law that accompanied the building of the golden calf?(401) While Wilford Woodruff may be forced to play the roles delineated above, only a superficial analysis would class the behavior of the general Church membership with that of Martin Harris or the Israelites. These "parallels" do little more than give Fundamentalists an excuse to continue believing their ideology.

The Saints planned to obtain statehood and then legislate the practice of polygamy.(402) While it appears that some Church members espoused this belief, its presentation by Fundamentalists to strengthen their position is puzzling. The suggestion that the Saints would support the Manifesto to obtain statehood and then pass laws allowing polygamy indicates that the Church was planning to continue plural marriage and that the Manifesto was only to be a temporary restraint. This contradicts the most common Fundamentalist explanation of the Manifesto which places the responsibility squarely upon the membership of the Church:

...the Pride of Ephraim beg[ged] President Woodruff to importune the Lord for the Manifesto. The Saints were tired of the persecutions, and many were ashamed of the scorn of the world. Pride and the desire for financial prosperity predominated and finally the Lord gave in, and permitted the Manifesto... (Gospel Problems p. 43.)

Likewise, Wilford Woodruff, who they hesitate to criticize, would have had to shoulder a majority of the accountability.

The Manifesto was passed to fool the Gentiles while the Church was going to continue plural marriage. This proposal shares the same weaknesses as the one above. Often, to strengthen this claim, Fundamentalists will cite a dubious source that the Manifesto was to, "beat the Devil at his own game."(403) As modern polygamists are confronted with dozens of statements by the Lord's Apostles and Prophets(404) declaring the Manifesto of 1890 as inspired and binding on the Saints, it is easy to understand why they might repeatedly quote any citation that excuses it as a man-made document. Discrediting the Manifesto with such statements might initially appear to bolster the Fundamentalist position, but it creates a piece of the puzzle that doesn't seem to fit anywhere.

The Manifesto was the result of uninspired men solving Church problems in their own ways. As seen above, this interpretation of the events also transfers the responsibility for the 1890 Manifesto from members of the Church to their leaders and differs from the most popular Fundamentalist explanation.

Some suggest(405) the Woodruff Manifesto is similar to the 1835 statement on marriage which accompanied the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.(406) It is believed that Oliver Cowdery wrote the document which was not a revelation and reflected man's wisdom, not the Lord's. This approach states that President Woodruff dealt with the problems caused by the U.S. Government in the best uninspired way he could.(407)

Another argument is based on the scripture found in D&C 124:49:(408)

Verily, verily, I say unto you that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.

That this might have been a basis for the Manifesto was suggested by George Q. Cannon in his discourse immediately after the Manifesto was approved by the congregation on October 6th, 1890.(409) His talk was somewhat ironic in that five years earlier he had condemned a speaker who had attempted to use this verse to suggest that polygamy too might be suspended as had the command to build the Independence, Missouri Temple.(410) Were this the only basis for issuing the Manifesto, Fundamentalists' confusion concerning it might be easier to understand. However, Wilford Woodruff himself claimed he was inspired and that the Lord had shown him in vision what would occur if it was not issued.(411)

The many Fundamentalist explanations for the coming of the Manifesto typify the movement in general. Their authors are usually quick to cite anything that appears to support their position and to quote statements derogatory to the Church's theology.


Most Latter-day Saints were taken by surprise when the Manifesto was presented by President Woodruff in that October, 1890 General Conference. To understand the real intent of the Manifesto, Church members were instructed by their priesthood leaders. Wilford Woodruff taught:

What I intended was to give counsel stopping the practice of the patriarchal order of marriage in the Church... What I said to the people of our Church I said by inspiration, as I view it -- by the mind and will of the Lord. I intended to give them to understand that we should stop the practice of plural marriage.(412)

I have had some revelations of late, and very important ones to me, and I will tell you what the Lord has said to me. The Lord has told me by revelation that there are many members of the Church through Zion who are sorely tried in their hearts because of the Manifesto...

Now, I want you to understand that [President Woodruff] has not lost the Spirit nor is he about to apostatize. The Lord is with him, and with this people. He has told me exactly what to do, and what the result would be if we did not do it.(413)

Now I will tell you what was manifested to me and what the Son of God performed in this thing.,.. All these things would have come to pass, as God Almighty lives, had not that Manifesto been given. Therefore, the Son of God felt disposed to have that thing presented to the Church and to the world for purposes in his own mind...(414)

President Woodruff spoke of the spirit which had prompted him to issue the Manifesto, and said it was of God.(415)

Here are George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith and these Twelve Apostles. I want to ask you if Wilford Woodruff could have done anything that these men would not have accepted, in performing the work that was done that pained the hearts of all Israel, except by the spirit and power of God. No. I would just as soon have thought of moving the foundations of this world as to have taken any course to move these men, only by the revelations of God. When that Manifesto was given they accepted it. Why? Because they had the Spirit of God for themselves; they knew for themselves it was right.(416)

In September, 1890, the present head of the Church, in anguish and prayer, cried to God for help for his flock, and received permission to advise the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that the law commanding polygamy was henceforth suspended.(417)

I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me nor any other man who stands as the President of this Church, to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.(418)

George Q. Cannon instructed:

But the time has come when, in the providence of God, it seemed necessary that something should be done to meet the requirements of the country, to meet the demands that have been made upon us, and to save the people...We have waited for the Lord on the matter; and on the 24th of September, President Woodruff made up his mind that he would write something, and he had the spirit of it. He had prayed about it and had besought God repeatedly to show him what to do. At that time the Spirit came upon him, and the document that has been read in your hearing [the Manifesto] was the result.(419)

Question by Examiner Loofourow: State whether you believe that manifesto was given by inspiration to President Woodruff? Answer: I believed it then and I am still of that opinion that he was inspired to issue it and I so stated to the Conference.(420)

President Woodruff is a very modest man. [The Manifesto] would have been a command if some men had issued it, and it was a command in his case. He was fully persuaded that the Church at large, like himself, received a testimony that this Manifesto was issued by inspiration from God.(421)

Besides these declarations, other Priesthood leaders such as Joseph F. Smith,(422) counselor in the First Presidency and Lorenzo Snow,(423) President of the Quorum of the Twelve affirmed to the Church and the world that the Manifesto was inspired.

Fundamentalists usually acknowledge that after the Manifesto was presented to the Church, priesthood leaders taught that it was inspired. In order to reduce the significance of this fact, Fundamentalists repeatedly emphasize that the Saints should not "blindly follow" their priesthood leaders.(424)

Since the Lord's prophet taught that after the Manifesto, the members of the Church were to obey the law, the subsequent scenario proposed by Fundamentalists to dismiss his teachings is singular indeed. They suggest that the Lord's mouthpiece and other Church leaders actively promoted false doctrine. This required the Saints to obtain truth directly from the Lord, to the exclusion of His prophet's guidance. To strengthen this proposal, Musser wrote:

To the time-worn statement that the Lord will not permit the leaders to lead His people astray one need but reflect on the history of the past. The Saints have been led astray by their leaders on numerous occasions. The Jews were so led by the recreant High Priests in the days of Christ -- indeed they were led to crucify the Savior. King Noah and the priests of his day caused the people to stray from the simple truths of the Gospel until only a few faithful ones, under the leadership of Alma remained and they were driven into the wilderness. So it is in the present day [1940], by permission of the leaders, laws and ordinances have been broken and changed to better accommodate the efforts of the Saints to be one with the world.(425)

Musser's assertion places Wilford Woodruff in the position of the wicked High Priest, Caiaphas, who encouraged the crucifixion of our Savior(426) or of King Noah who killed the prophet Abinadi.(427) Other Fundamentalist analogies presented earlier in this chapter had Wilford Woodruff acting as Joseph Smith, Moses and Samuel the prophet. None of these parallels fit. Once again it illustrates the extremes to which some Fundamentalist writers will go to support their position.

If the Lord did not sanction the Manifesto, Wilford Woodruff would have been guilty of a grievous sin in issuing it. However, he continued to receive visions and revelations from the Lord after the Manifesto of 1890. Likewise, even the Fundamentalists are hesitant to criticize him.

The general Church membership accepted the word of the "one" anointed and appointed, the President of the High Priesthood, God's prophet on earth when he presented the Manifesto. Exactly why Fundamentalists believe that those Saints are condemned for following the Lord's mouthpiece is perplexing. Is it really possible that God would complicate His instructions to "keep my commandments" by deceiving His people concerning what those commandments were? This is an extraordinary doctrine.


The average Church member in 1890 was taught that plural marriage was no longer required after the Manifesto. Fundamentalists wish to condemn those members because they believed their priesthood leaders, suggesting that they should have known from the Spirit that the prophet was teaching them false doctrine. Sometimes Fundamentalist authors also denounce the priesthood leaders themselves, but this is less common. It is entirely inconsistent with God's dealings with His children to have His Prophet actively lead them astray to their eternal condemnation. What is more important is that the vast majority of Saints were willing to continue sacrificing. The idea that they were demanding the Manifesto is mostly fantasy.

In 1890 we see an example of the teaching found in the Articles of Faith, verse nine:

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.(428)

It is fortunate for the Church and the Kingdom of God that there were but few who chose to reject the words of modern prophets since 1890. Even as Fundamentalists unitedly condemn the Manifesto, questions concerning their lack of authority persist.


365. Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 1094.

366. See Kenneth W. Godfrey, "The Coming Of The Manifesto," Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 5, (Autumn 1973) 3:11-25.

367. See the statement of the First Presidency in Messages of the First Presidency 3:230. Other examples: JD, (Orson Pratt) 1:54, 17:224-5; (Heber C. Kimball) 3:125, 4:108, 5:22, 203-4; (Brigham Young) 3:266, 11:268-9, 16:166; (George A. Smith) 3:291; (John Taylor) 11:221; (Joseph F. Smith) 20:28-31, 21:10; (Wilford Woodruff) 24:244.

368. Deseret News Weekly, November 17, 1891, p. 6 (quoted in this chapter - footnote 10).

369. This is a quote from the Salt Lake Temple Historical Record, 1893-1922, LDS Historical Department, Salt Lake City, p. 71.

370. Church History in the Fulness of Times, pp. 440-441.

371. The original document, in President Woodruff's handwriting, contained 510 words. It was later edited by George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency to its present 356 words. See Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 853.

372. See Truth 5:86-87, 107-112, 14:211-214, 18:311, 20:199-206.

373. First Presidency Office Journal, Oct. 21, 1891. See Thomas G. Alexander, "The Odyssey of a Latter-day Prophet: Wilford Woodruff and the Manifesto of 1890," Journal of Mormon History, vol. 17, (1991), pp. 171, 204-206.

374. Deseret News Weekly, November 17, 1891, p. 6.

375. Fundamentalists often want to add a footnote to these verses specifying polygamy, since the monogamous context is so obvious. The verses are seldom quoted in Fundamentalist literature.

376. Truth 6:109.

377. Keys of the Priesthood Illustrated, p. 222. Truth, 1:21[9], 4:42, 5:248, 6:20. Heber Bennion, Gospel Problems, Dugway, Utah: Pioneer Press, N.d. (originally published in 1920), pp. 45-46.

378. Truth, 3:78, 8:182. Gilbert A. Fulton, Jr., Most Holy Principle, 4 volumes, Salt Lake City, Utah: Gems Publishing Company, 1970-1975, 4:144. Also personal correspondence between one of the authors and a son of Rulon Allred, dated April 1, 1991, pp. 17-18.

379. Keys of the Priesthood Illustrated, p. 218. Truth, 8:260.

380. Keys of the Priesthood, Illustrated, p. 218.

381. Truth, 8:256.

382. See chapter five.

383. Truth, 4:42, 6:20; Keys of the Priesthood Illustrated, p. 222.

384. Most Holy Principle, 4:68; Dennis R. Short, Questions on Plural Marriage, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1974, pp. 23-24; Truth 1:20[8], 5:86; Star of Truth 3:278, 4:44; Melvin J. Ballard with Eslie D. Jenson, Marriage - Ballard/Jensen Correspondence, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1935 p. 78.

385. Questions on Plural Marriage, pp. 23-24; Truth 1:20[8], 5:114, 189, 20:204; Star of Truth 4:44.

386. A Leaf in Review p. 196; Truth 1:20[8], 6:182, 8:255; Star of Truth 3:278; Marriage - Ballard/Jensen Correspondence p. 78.

387. Journal of Joseph W. Muser, April 9, 1922.

388. Supplement, pp. 60-61.

389. Temple Manifestations, pp. 118-119.

390. Some Fundamentalists claim John W. Woolley replaced Wilford Woodruff in his priesthood responsibilities after the Manifesto. This assertion is inconsistent with Woolley's actions and statements. See chapter four.

391. Gospel Problems p. 43.

392. The best treatise which implements this approach is by Vance Allred, "Mormon Polygamy and the Manifesto of 1890: A study of Hegemony and Social Conflict," Senior Thesis: Department of History, University of Montana, June 1984. See also Ogden Kraut, The 1890 Manifesto, 100th Anniversary, pamphlet, 1990, p. 18; Questions on Plural Marriage, 24-25, Truth 1:21[8], 2:130, 6:21, 8:202, 260, 18:310, 20:200; Star of Truth 3:27; Marriage - Ballard/Jensen Correspondence p. 78; Gospel Problems p. 43.

393. Most Holy Principle 4:69-70; Joseph Musser, Celestial or Plural Marriage, Salt Lake City, Utah: Truth Publishing Company, 1944, p. 89, 148; Truth 4:146-147, 6:179, 18:310; Star of Truth 3:277; Marriage - Ballard/Jensen Correspondence p. 77.

394. Truth 1:21[9], 8:257.

395. Truth 6:108-109, 8:260, 9:142.

396. Truth 20:200.

397. Truth 8:255.

398. Gospel Problems, p. 43, 49-50; Most Holy Principle 4:66; Truth 6:19-20.

399. Most Holy Principle 4:66; Truth 2:130, 6:21.

400. Questions on Plural Marriage p. 25; Truth 18:315, 20:201; Star of Truth 3:276; Marriage - Ballard/Jensen Correspondence p. 76.

401. Exodus 32:1-8.

402. For a discussion of the atmosphere surrounding the pursuit of Utah Statehood, see E. Leo Lyman, Political Deliverance: The Mormon Quest for Utah Statehood, Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1986.

403. Most Holy Principle 4:68; Questions on Plural Marriage pp. 23-24; Truth 5:189, 6:179, 18:234.

404. D&C 1:14.

405. Truth 3:10.

406. 1835 Edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, pp. 251-252. Also HC 2:247-248.

407. See also Truth 6:108-109, 9:142, 260.

408. Truth 5:111, 18:313.

409. Collected Discourses, 2:129.

410. Deseret News Weekly, April 1, 1885. Quoted in Truth 18:313-314.

411. Deseret News Weekly, November 14, 1891. Quoted in "Excerpts from three addresses by President Wilford Woodruff regarding the Manifesto" after Official Declaration - 1 at the back of the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

412. Wilford Woodruff, Testimony before the Master in Chancery, October 19-20, 1891, published in the Deseret News Weekly, October 23, 1891, pp. 4-5.

413. Cache Stake Conference, Logan, Utah, Sunday November 1, 1891. Reported in Deseret News Weekly, November 14, 1891. Parts found in "Excerpts from three addresses by President Wilford Woodruff regarding the Manifesto," found after Official Declaration --1, Doctrine and Covenants, 1981 edition.

414. From a discourse at the sixth session of the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, April 1893. Typescript of Dedicatory Services, Archives, Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah. Quoted in "Excerpts from three addresses by President Wilford Woodruff regarding the Manifesto" found after Official Declaration - 1 in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1981 edition.

415. Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, April 7, 1892.

416. From a discourse at the fourth session of the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, April 1893. Typescript of Dedicatory Services, Archives, Church Historical Department, Salt lake City, Utah.

417. From a petition for amnesty signed by members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles December 19, 1891. See Contributor 13:196-197.

418. October 6th, 1890 General Conference (after the Manifesto had been presented). Collected Discourses, 2:137.

419. Remarks by George Q. Cannon at the October 6th, 1890 General Conference of the Church. Collected Discourses, 2:132-133.

420. President George Q. Cannon before the Master in Chancery October 20th, 1891. Deseret News Weekly, Oct 23, 1891.

421. Ibid.

422. Besides issuing the Manifesto of 1904, Joseph F. Smith stated he felt the Manifesto was a "result of direct revelation" before the Master of Chancery October 20, 1891.

423. Lorenzo Snow affirmed the "manifesto to be a revelation to President Woodruff" before the Master in Chancery. Ibid.

424. Truth 6:108, 9:143.

425. Truth 6:109.

426. John 18:13-14, see also Matthew 26:57; Mark 14:53; Luke 22:54.

427. Mosiah 11:1-7, 17:12-20.

428. Pearl of Great Price, Articles of Faith, V. 9.