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?
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
FUNDAMENTALISTS AND THE MANIFESTO
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 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)
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,
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
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.
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.)
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.
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,
Therefore, they strive to attribute the Manifesto to the
transgression of Church members.(391)
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
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
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
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
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
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.
FOLLOWING THE LORD'S ANOINTED
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
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
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 , 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
384. Most Holy Principle, 4:68; Dennis R. Short, Questions on Plural Marriage, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1974, pp. 23-24; Truth 1:20, 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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.