Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Chapter 10

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Response to claims made in "Chapter 10: A New Beginning"

A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods, a work by author: Richard Abanes
Claim Evaluation
One Nation Under Gods
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Response to claims made in One Nation Under Gods, "Chapter 10: A New Beginning"

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Response to claim: 205 (HB,PB) - "Unrepentant abandonment to the 'lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life' (1 John 2:16) had caused Joseph's ruin; nothing more, nothing less"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Unrepentant abandonment to the 'lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life' (1 John 2:16) had caused Joseph's ruin; nothing more, nothing less."

(Author's sources: No source provided other than 1 Jn 2:16.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This appears to be the author's fantasy.



Response to claim: 207, 548n12 (PB) - Did Willard Richards have Samuel Smith murdered?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:


  • Did Willard Richards have Samuel Smith murdered to prevent any succession issues?
  • Samuel's wife accused the Nauvoo Chief of Police: Hosea Stout.

    (Author's sources: D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 153.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

The following is on page 548 in the endnote: "Although Quinn explains in great depth the various reasons why it is probable that Stout killed Samuel, he adds a word of caution: 'This troubling allegation should not be ignored but cannot be verified.'" The book does not make clear how Samuel's wife's suspicion that Hosea Stout killed her husband relates to Willard Richards possibly having "gone so far as to have Samuel murdered."



Response to claim: 207, 548n13 (PB) - Polygamy was "being enjoyed" by certain members of the Twelve Apostles at the time of Joseph's death

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Polygamy was "being enjoyed" by certain members of the Twelve Apostles at the time of Joseph's death.

(Author's sources: Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 78.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Many more than the Twelve had taken plural wives. Thirty-three men had taken plural wives by the martyrdom. [1]




Response to claim: 211, 549n28 (PB) - Did Joseph Smith tell Porter Rockwell that "it was right to steal"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Joseph Smith tell Porter Rockwell that "it was right to steal"?

(Author's sources: D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 637.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The only evidence for this statement is a fourth-hand claim made by a convicted fifteen-year-old thief attempting to justify himself. Joseph's diary recorded the comment, suggesting it cannot have threatened or worried him.



Question: Did Joseph Smith really tell Orrin Porter Rockwell 'it was right to steal'?

The only evidence for this statement is a fourth-hand claim made by a convicted fifteen-year-old thief attempting to justify himself

The only evidence for this statement is a fourth-hand claim made by a convicted fifteen-year-old thief attempting to justify himself. Joseph's diary recorded the comment, suggesting it cannot have threatened or worried him.

Quinn's use of the source is incorrect, and his lumping of a later journal entry with it creates a false impression

Historian D. Michael Quinn's material for this claim reads:

10 Mar [1843]. Fifteen-year-old Thomas Morgan says that Orrin Porter Rockwell told him "Joseph had taught that it was right to steal…which was the means of drawing Thomas into the practice of stealing." Smith's next remark about his boyhood friend: "conversed much about Porter, wishing the boy well." [2]

Unfortunately, in this section of his book, Quinn provides no references, footnotes, or endnotes. One reviewer noted that "In a work where source notes are taken as seriously as they are in this book, it is unfortunate that they were not included in appendices 6 (Biographical Sketches) and 7 (Selected Chronology). The careful student needs to be able to weigh the evidence for the extensive and sometimes sensational information that is given here." [3]

So it proves here.

Background: identifying the participants

The source for Quinn's source appears to be an entry made in Joseph Smith's journal. A transcript of the journal for the period in question reads:

[Entry for February 20, 1843] Last night Arthur Milikin had a quantity of books stolen and found them at 3 this P.M. in Hyrum Smith's Hayloft. Thomas Morgan and Robert Taylor (Morgan 15, Robert Taylor 13 years old next April) /both members of the Church/ were arrested on suspicion in the forenoon. On finding the books [they] immediately went to trial before the Mayor having had a brief examination about noon. Court adjourned till 10 [A.M.] tomorrow.... [4]

So, Thomas Morgan was a fifteen-year-old member of the Church brought before Joseph (in his role as a civil judge) for theft. The History of the Church notes that the next day:

Robert Taylor was again brought up for stealing, and Thomas Morgan for receiving the books, [referred to above] and each sentenced to six months imprisonment in Carthage jail. [5]

Morgan and Taylor were found guilty, and sentenced to jail. The History of the Church later says that

I [Joseph] went with Marshal Henry G. Sherwood to procure some provisions for Thomas Morgan and Robert Taylor, who, on petition of the inhabitants of the city, I had directed should work out their punishment on the highways of Nauvoo. [6]

So, far from approving theft, Joseph sentenced the young thieves to jail time, which was later converted into labor at the petition of others.

Evaluating the claim

We now come to the source (9 days later) to which Quinn likely alludes:

Friday, March 10th 1843 Clear and cold....As Thomas Morgan went out to speak with Mayor, said he had been told by several that Joseph had taught that it was right to steal viz. O. P. Rockwell, David B. Smith, and James Smith which was the means of drawing Thomas into the practice of stealing. [7]

So, it turns out that Quinn's source is a hearsay statement from a fifteen-year-old member boy found guilty of stealing, and sentenced to jail by Joseph (later commuted to road work). The young man doubtless wanted to excuse himself in the prophet's eyes, and so makes the claim that the only reason he was 'draw[n]...into the practice of stealing' is what he has heard (unnamed) others say that Joseph said to Porter Rockwell. This statement is thus at least fourth hand:

Joseph -> Rockwell -> "others" -> Thomas Morgan.

Moreover, why would Joseph's personal journal record this incident if there were any truth to it? Why would Joseph allow a record to be made of advocating theft?

Next remark: wishing the boy well?

Quinn follows his claim about what Joseph told Porter by writing:

Smith's next remark about his boyhood friend: "conversed much about Porter, wishing the boy well."

This is disingenuous at best. The entry which reads "Conversed much about Porter, wishing the boy well," comes from a diary entry on March 14, 1843—four days after the encounter with Thomas Morgan! [8] Quinn gives the impression that the very next thing that Joseph said, after hearing the tale from Morgan, were warm reminiscences regarding Porter Rockwell. Nothing could be further from the truth—this is simply the next remark about Porter in Joseph's journal, eight journal pages later. Small wonder that Joseph's thoughts turned to Rockwell, since on March 4, 1843, Rockwell was arrested for the attempted murder of former governor Boggs of Missouri. [9]


Response to claim: 211, 549n29 (PB) - Did Orson Hyde say that it was OK to "steal & be influenced by the spirit of the Lord to do it" as long as it was against non-Mormons?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Orson Hyde say that it was OK to "steal & be influenced by the spirit of the Lord to do it" as long as it was against non-Mormons?

(Author's sources: Orson Hyde. Quoted in John Bennion, "John Bennion Journal," under October 13, 1860; cf. Brigham Young Office Journal, April 3, 1860.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Hyde didn't say that the Spirit of the Lord inspired Hickman to steal, but that it was a sin from which he should refrain.



Question: Did Orson Hyde state that it was permissible to "steal & be influenced by the spirit of the Lord to do it" as long as it was against non-Mormons?

Orson Hyde's remark is relative to William "Wild Bill" Hickman

The Brigham Young office journal for 3 April 1860 states:

[April 3, 1860:] April 3, p. 70 Mayor Smoot had a conversation with the President about W[illia]m A. Hickman, observing people see him come and out the office, and that leads them to suppose he is sanctioned in all he does by the President he also observed that dogs were necessary to take care of the flock, but if the Shepherd's dogs hurt the sheep it would be time to remove them.

President observed W. A. Hickman was in the hands of the Lord and he believes he was interested in this latter day work, and he believed whether he was wounded or whether he recovered, or whether he died these events were in the hands of the Lord.[10]

Because Hickman had served Brigham Young during the Utah War, some presumed that Hickman's later activities (especially horse-thieving) were sanctioned by the Church

Yet, prior to the journal entry above, Church leaders had been railing (in public and private) against Hickman's gang and its criminal activities:

Brigham Young wrote: "December 26, 1859. About 1:00 p.m. yesterday, a disgraceful affair occurred on Main Street near the Townsend Hotel. A difficulty between Wm. A. Hickman and Lott Huntington over the division of some stolen property. Hickman and his party retired to Hickman's son-in-law, and a physician was sent for."[11]:89

Brigham clearly disapproves of Hickman's activities

This entry was made privately; this was not Brigham Young speaking publicly to provide "plausible deniability." Here he clearly disapproves of Hickman's activities. Apostle Amasa Lyman was also preaching publicly against Hickman's activities:

The spirit of thieving stalks the land--gets hold of unguarded youth, causes them to steal from neighbors. Don't let your sons be corrupted--know where they are--Many deceive, not just Bill Hickman and his gang. Sons go into the streets of the city only to hear that stealing from Gentiles is "OK," and are told that the President of the Church says so--all lies to lead the unwary from the truth.[11]:89

Hickman wrote to Brigham insisting that when "my Bro[ther] told me what you said, [it] made the cold sweat run off me and I almost sank under it." The prophet and Hickman exchanged further letters, with Hickman insisting that he didn't drink that much whiskey, that he had never been seen drunk in public, that he could quit anytime he wanted to if Brigham felt it best, that he knew he used profane language but hardly ever the Lord's name in vain, and that he supported the Church and Brigham Young.[11]:89-92

At this time, Hickman was suffering from a bullet wound, which would plague him for the rest of his life. Doctors despaired of his life. Thus, it is in this context that Brigham's journal notes that whether he lives or dies is in God's hands.

Hickman was disfellowshipped

Hickman's bishop disfellowshipped him only ten days after being shot, after speaking "forcibly on the workers of iniquity," and assuring them that he "would do his duty in those things."[11]:95

Hickman's neighbor, John Bennion did not feel this was an adequate punishment, and urged excommunication. Bennion's journal is the source for the Orson Hyde quote cited by the author. Bennion recorded that

[August 26, 1860] Bishop Gardner said there was much prejudice against W. A. Hickman and that he knew nothing against him, as nothing had been reported to him officially. He intimated that W. A. Hickman was apologetic and that he would stand by him or any other Brother until he knew of their guilt. Hickman being called upon confessed to his weaknesses and foibles like other men, but strongly denied his guilt as to things commonly reported on him, stealing etc. Bishop Gardner requested any who knew anything against Hickman to report to him and to stop running to Bishop Hunter or he would be after them with a sharpstick [check spelling].

Thus, Bishop Gardner had disfellowshipped Hickman based on his confession of some wrongs, but had no evidence (save rumor) of the more serious charges.

Saturday, October 13, 1860: Went to the city met Bishop Gardner, had a talk with him about W. A. Hickman's wicked course for sometime past. He said that up until now he had been bound and could not act, I told him I was not bound, neither was I afraid to oppose the wickedness of any man, that it was my duty to expose. We got home about sundown. In the evening I met with the Bishop and his counselors and parties concerned with trying George Hickman for stealing mules. When about to commence the trial, Elder [Orson] Hyde came in and by Bishop Gardner's solicitation he preached and the trial was postponed.

After meeting the Bishop, the counsel, and Elder Hyde had a long talk in my house. Bro. Hyde said, speaking of stealing that a man may steal and be influenced by the spirit of the Lord to do it, that Hickman had done it in years past. Said that he never would institute a trial against a brother for stealing from the Gentiles, but stealing from his brother, he was down on it. He laid down much teaching on the subject.[11]:95-96

Orson Hyde defended Hickman since he had saved his life in 1849

Wrote Hickman's biographer:

Orson Hyde, a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles, was an important Hickman defender. Hickman had saved his life in 1849, and he could not bring himself to condemn Hickman yet. Even as late as 1872, Hickman would use Hyde's line of reasoning in his own defence: he could not understand why people chastised him when all he did was to steal from the Gentiles.

Bennion attended yet another meeting on the matter of Hickman's church status the next day: "Sunday October 14, 1860: Went to meeting at the mill to hear Bro. Hyde . . . he gave much good instruction, spoke on last night's intention to try Hickman--give it as the word of the Lord to set him free for the past, bid him go and sin no more."[11]:95-96

Hyde didn't say that the Spirit of the Lord inspired Hickman to steal, but that it was a sin from which he should refrain

Hyde's stance had, therefore, shifted—rather than arguing that the Spirit of the Lord had inspired Hickman to steal, he was willing to grant that the action was a "sin" from which he should henceforth refrain.

Thus, the position argued by Elder Hyde and Hickman does not represent the Church's doctrine and teaching at the time. Hyde even altered his stance—perhaps his zeal to spare Hickman suffering led to an intemperate remark, which he later amended the next day. Bennion, who clearly wanted Hickman punished, seemed content with Hyde's preaching the next day, while he had not been the night before.

Heber C. Kimball contradicted Elder Hyde's remark soon afterward

Furthermore, Heber C. Kimball, a member of the First Presidency, would soon contradict Elder Hyde: Certain ones say that we justify stealing from unbelievers but we do not and they who say so shall be cursed, they shall be poor and vagabounds [sic] on the earth, and all the people said, `Amen.'[11]:96-97[12]

Orson Hyde wished to pass lightly over Hickman's sins because of the services which Hickman had rendered during Utah's settlement, the Utah War, and the personal debt he owed him. However, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and other church members and leaders were not of the same view, and denounced it. Even Hyde would, within twenty-four hours, amend his stance.


Response to claim: 211, 549n31-34 (PB) - The author claims that the Nauvoo police committed "many murders, vicious beatings, and intimidating assaults" against people that they thought to be enemies of the Church

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that the Nauvoo police committed "many murders, vicious beatings, and intimidating assaults" against people that they thought to be enemies of the Church.

(Author's sources: *Allen J. Stout, "Allen J. Stout Journal," under June 28, 1844, Utah State Historical Society, 14, online at http://www.math.byu.edu/~smithw/Lds/LDS/Early-Saints/AStout.html
  • Hosea Stout, under February 22, 1845 and March 13, 1847, in Juanita Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, vol. 1, 22; 241.
  • D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 151, 643.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The sources cited by the author do not support this claim.



Question: Did the Nauvoo police commit "many murders, vicious beatings, and intimidating assaults" against people that they thought to be enemies of the Church?

Nothing in the cited sources provide evidence for these claims

The critical work One Nation Under Gods claims that Nauvoo police committed murders and inflicted beating on those that they thought were enemies of the Church. [13] The citations supporting this claim are listed as:

Nothing in the cited sources provide evidence for these claims. A best, the expressed desire for vengeance upon Joseph Smith's murderers provides motive for violent acts against those complicit in his assassination. But, no proof of this has been here presented. One Nation Under Gods claims much more than the sources report.

The author's remark about "perceived enemies of the Church" is likewise disingenuous. Surely anyone who participated in Joseph Smith's murder would be a definite enemy of the Church he founded. The author wants to create a portrait of arbitrary and capricious violence—but he has here presented no evidence to sustain that charge.

Examining the source: Quinn

  • Nothing on Quinn, 151 supports this claim: it speaks only of
    • Orrin Porter Rockwell's desire (not carried out) to kill apostate Robert D. Foster
    • Allen Stout's report that he would not let Joseph and Hyrum's murders go unavenged
    • Stephen Markham's desire to avenge Joseph's murders
  • Quinn, 643 discusses the period from 8 Mar to 18 April 1844, while Joseph Smith was alive. There is no mention of violence of any sort.

Examining the source: Allen Stout

Allen Stout's journal is cited by Quinn. It thus adds nothing.

Examining the source: Hosea Stout

Hosea Stout's journal for 22 February 1844 reads only:

February 22, Saturday. In the morning went to Brother J. P. Harmon's there met Bishop [George] Miller, when we three went to the [Nauvoo] temple while consulting on matters pertaining to our safety and also the manner to pursue to rid ourselves of traitors who are in our midst seeking our lives.

Stout only worries about keeping the Saints safe, and keeping out traitors seeking to cause the death of the Saints. Stout's 13 March 1847 journal reads:

At dark I went to a meeting of the seventies at the Council house. Here J.P. Packer was up before them for a charge of stealing a brace of six shooters by getting them with a forged order. Some was for cutting him off. Some for keeping him on trial for awhile and so on. I spoke quite lengthy on the subject and was for keeping him in fellowship as I could fellowship any man that could be suffered to live amongst us and when we could not stand it any longer to cut him off –behind the ears- according to the law of God in such cases. I came home about twelve o’clock at night.

Stout here advocates mercy for a member guilty of stealing weapons through fraud. Stout does argue that there are crimes for which people may be killed ("cut...off-behind the ears") under divine law. Examples could include murder: Genesis 9:6, Alma 42:19, D&C 42:19.) There is nothing about this citation which supports the book's claim that the leaders or members of the Church generally advocated killing those who were the church's "enemies." The criminal in this case is guilty of theft—a civil crime. And even then, Stout does not advocate excommunication, much less judicial murder. As his previous entry shows, those "seeking our lives" might be subject to more severe justice. Such an attitude toward plotted or attempted murder is not at all out of place on the 19th-century American frontier, as two frontier legal scholars noted:

Under English common law...a person who was assailed and in fear of death or great bodily injury was required, if at all possible, to flee the scene and thus avoid a confrontation....

But American pioneers had no use for that kind of thinking...."A man is not born to run away." Those were the words used by U.S. Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes to explain the rationale of his 1921 Supreme Court opinion in Brown v. United States, which rejected the English common law doctrine of 'duty to retreat' in favor of a rule more in tune with the combative spirit of the American frontier—the 'stand your ground' rule. In the Brown opinion, Holmes went on to explain that "detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife."[14]


Response to claim: 212, 549n35-37 (PB) - "Although the exact number of murders committed by Mormons between 1844 and 1846 remains unknown, it is certain that a majority of them were handled by Danites"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Although the exact number of murders committed by Mormons between 1844 and 1846 remains unknown, it is certain that a majority of them were handled by Danites Porter Rockwell, Hosea Stout, and Allen Stout."

(Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

If the number of murders is unknown, how can we be 'certain' that these three men committed most of them? If three men are responsible for most of the (alleged) murders, then that is evidence for their perfidy, and not evidence of a general church policy of violence and murder. The author has demolished his own argument.



Response to claim: 213, 549n38 (PB) - The author claims that Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde ordered Nauvoo's police force to kill an apostate named Lambert Symes, who "subsequently disappeared without a trace"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde ordered Nauvoo's police force to kill an apostate named Lambert Symes, who "subsequently disappeared without a trace"

(Author's sources: D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 181.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Lambert Symes is not recorded as ever having been in Nauvoo. Indeed, Symes 'disappeared' so completely than there is no record of him ever existing!



Question: Did Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde order Nauvoo's police force to kill an apostate named Lambert Symes?

There is no record of anyone named "Lambert Symes" in Nauvoo's records

The author of One Nation Under Gods claim that Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde "actually ordered Nauvoo's police force to kill apostate Lambert Symes, who subsequently disappeared without a trace." [15]. The author cites D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 181. in support of this claim. However, One Nation Under Gods misrepresents the source on multiple accounts:

  • Only Heber C. Kimball was charged with making "Lambert Symes" disappear
  • We are not told that this charge came from Jehiel Savage, an apostate who was supporting James Strang's break-off movement.
  • We are not told that Quinn also wrote: "Savage said it was 'Lambert Symes' who thus disappeared, but I have been unable to find anyone by that name in Nauvoo's records."[16]:181 n. 194

Thus, the author gets the claim wrong, we have only an apostate's account as evidence, and there is no evidence whatever that the person who supposedly 'disappeared' ever existed. Furthermore, as D. Michael Quinn notes (and ONUG likewise fails to tell us):

Nauvoo was not littered with corpses of dissenters, the most strident of whom lived long lives in opposition to Brigham Young.[16]:181

There were many vocal, powerful, and well-known anti-Mormons around Nauvoo at the period. If Heber C. Kimball was going to have one of them killed, why pick someone so insignificant that his existence cannot even be confirmed? Why not someone with more power or prominence, to put fear in the others? Why did no one in Nauvoo notice this supposed murder?


Response to claim: 213, 550n41-43 - "Mormon dissenter" Irvine Hodge was "presumably" murdered by Nauvoo policemen

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

*Was "Mormon dissenter" Irvine Hodge "presumably" murdered by Nauvoo policemen because he threatened to "expose every Mormon who had been involved in stealing from non-Mormons" and threatened to harm Brigham Young and a Nauvoo policeman?

(Author's sources: *William Hall, The Abominations of Mormonism Exposed, 31-34.
  • D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 217, 651.
  • Brigham Young. Quoted on an undated page of statements by Jehiel Savage, Charles B. Thompson, George J. Adams, and Joseph Younger.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The author misrepresents the sources used.



Question: Was Irvine Hodge murdered by Nauvoo policemen?

The statement allegedly made by Brigham Young actually comes from a Strangite high council record

The critical book One Nation Under Gods claims that "Mormon dissenter" Irvine Hodge was "presumably" murdered by Nauvoo policemen because he threatened to "expose every Mormon who had been involved in stealing from non-Mormons." [17] The author cites the following sources to support his claim:

  • William Hall, The Abominations of Mormonism Exposed, 31-34.
  • D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 217, 651.
  • Brigham Young. Quoted on an undated page of statements by Jehiel Savage, Charles B. Thompson, George J. Adams, and Joseph Younger.

The author neglects to tell us that the "Brigham Young" statement he quotes is part of a document that is "(apparently in the same handwriting) of the minutes of the high council at Voree, Wisconsin, 6 Apr. 1846, of the followers of James J. Strang, Document 6, Strang Manuscripts, Beinecke Library" [Quinn, 217 n. 173]. So, this is yet another of the Strangite claims about violence upon which the author relies — often without disclosing it. The Brigham Young statement is therefore hearsay, and even the portion quoted by Quinn says nothing of Hodge's threats to reveal secrets or harm others. The author's presentation of it as a source is misleading.

Brigham Young asked the dying man "Who stabbed you?"

The author says only that Hodge was murdered because of his threats against Brigham Young, Nauvoo policemen, and threats to tell about thefts from non-Mormons. Yet, even the author's source provides more detail:

[William] Smith was a friend of Hodge's brothers, who were under arrest in Iowa for robbery and murder. [William] had warned the Hodge brothers to avoid arrest by fleeing Nauvoo, where they were apprehended. Then Smith had tried to get the Nauvoo police to allow the men to escape and even attempted to provide bail for one of the accused murderers. Furious that Nauvoo authorities had aided in the arrest of his brothers, Hodge threatened to expose everyone involved with them in stealing from non-Mormons.[18]

Thus, there was much more to the story—Hodge wanted the Mormons to help two accused robbers/murderers thwart justice. Only when they refused did he attempt to blackmail them. Hodge is not a simple 'upstanding citizen' being silenced because he wants to be a whistle-blower on Mormon perfidy.

One Nation Under Gods also does not tell us that Brigham Young asked the dying man "Who stabbed you?" but "with Nauvoo policemen standing over him, Hodge refused to answer."[19] Thus, if the police were guilty of the murder (here Quinn and the author are frank enough to admit this is a presumption) there is evidence which may help exonerate Brigham Young. If Young ordered the murder, why be on hand to meet the dying man?


Response to claim: 213, 550n44-45 (PB) - The author asserts that members of the Council of Fifty responsible for committing murders

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author asserts that members of the Council of Fifty responsible for committing murders.

(Author's sources: *Oliver B. Huntington, statement in "Seymour B. Young Diary," under May 23, 1903.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The author misrepresents his sources.



Question: Did the Council of Fifty order homicides to be committed?

This claim misrepresents the cited sources

The author of One Nation Under Gods claims that "other homicides were taken care of by members of the Council of Fifty." [20] The author cites the following sources:

  • Oliver B. Huntington, statement in "Seymour B. Young Diary," under May 23, 1903.
  • Clayton, under July 5, 1845.
  • D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 179.

This claim, however, misrepresents the cited sources.

Huntington's statement was about the supposed suicide of the former head of the Nauvoo Legion

As shown elsewhere, Huntington's statement was about the supposed suicide of the former head of the Nauvoo Legion. It has nothing to do with Council of Fifty members committing "homicides."

Quinn's source discusses how some anti-Mormons were "maimed" after a member of the Council of Fifty sabotaged a canon

Quinn's source discusses how some anti-Mormons were "maimed" after a member of the Council of Fifty (Cyrus Daniels) sabotaged a canon. This is not a homicide. Quinn's source is Clayton's diary, so Clayton adds nothing extra.

Quinn also mentions that "within months Orrin Porter Rockwell...took vengeance upon a man who had helped kill the prophet."[21] Yet, Quinn provides no citation for this claim at all—it cannot be verified. He may be referring to an event in which the non-Mormon sheriff Jacob Backenstos was being pursued by Frank Worrell on horseback.

Worrell was a member of the Carthage Greys and commander of the guard at Joseph Smith's prison. Worrell and three others pursued Backenstos, who called to Rockwell and others for help. "At Backenstos' command, Rockwell singled out Worrell, took careful aim, and shot him squarely in the belt buckle, knocking him out of the saddle." His companions took their wounded leader to Warsaw, where he died.[22]

Backenstos was indicted and tried for murder by a non-Mormon jury. Non-Mormon testimony at the trial indicated that "Worrell knew he was following Backenstos and that he planned to kill him." Rockwell was likewise indicted and acquitted for the murder, since he was acting under Backenstos' orders.[23] Thus, even this event is not "homicide," an act of vengeance, or an inappropriate use of deadly force.

The claim that "members of the Council of Fifty" "took care" of other "homicides" is unsupported

Even if we grant Quinn's unsourced claim, this still only gives us one member of the Council of Fifty (Orrin Porter Rockwell) as guilty of a single homicide. ONUG's claim that "members of the Council of Fifty" "took care" of other "homicides" is unsupported.


Response to claim: 213, 550n44 (PB) - Was Jonathan Dunham killed because he had "ignored the prophet's direct order to lead the Nauvoo Legion in a rescue at Carthage Jail"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Was Jonathan Dunham killed because he had "ignored the prophet's direct order to lead the Nauvoo Legion in a rescue at Carthage Jail"?

(Author's sources: Oliver B. Huntington, statement in "Seymour B. Young Diary," under May 23, 1903; see D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 179.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author relies upon a known forgery to draw his conclusion. There is little good evidence from the extant documents that Joseph attempted to have the Nauvoo Legion rescue him. By contrast, he repeatedly ordered the militia to stay home and his followers to avoid assembling.



Question: Did Joseph order Jonathan Dunham, head of the Nauvoo legion, to rescue him?

There is little good evidence from the extant documents that Joseph attempted to have the Nauvoo Legion rescue him

Fawn Brodie claimed that Joseph Smith was panicking at Carthage Jail, and wrote an order to Jonathan Dunham (head of the Nauvoo legion), telling him to attack the jail and "save him at all costs" [24]

There is little good evidence from the extant documents that Joseph attempted to have the Nauvoo Legion rescue him. By contrast, he repeatedly ordered the militia to stay home and his followers to avoid assembling. He repeatedly expressed resignation as to his fate, and just prior to his martyrdom was seeking to add more legal help to his hearing two days distant—a strange choice if he expected to be liberated by the militia.

The entire tale sounds more like gossip or grumbling among a few who felt that the Mormons militia could have rescued Joseph if given the chance

That Dunham would receive orders from Joseph and refuse to follow them seems incredible. It would also be strange for Stout to be the only primary source to learn of such orders. Why would Dunham tell anyone that he had refused an order from the prophet? Why would he tell Stout, a fierce supporter of Joseph? Why did others not hear of this and report it? Why was Dunham not blamed by other LDS members later?

Stenhouse tells the story, and claims that the order was found discarded on the ground—again, this seems incredible. Why would Dunham dispose of such an incriminating bit of evidence so carelessly? If it was found, why did Brigham Young or other Church leaders never hear of, mention, or save it? The entire tale sounds more like gossip or grumbling among a few who felt that the Mormons militia could have rescued Joseph if given the chance.

Dunham's death was reported in William Clayton's diary as follows:

Daniel Spencer has returned from the West. He brings word that Brother Jonathan Dunham died of a fever.[25]

Thus, the attribution of Dunham's death to suicide occurs later. Even if the suicide claim is accepted, Oliver Huntington's witness says that it was because Dunham felt guilty for being unable to fortify Nauvoo adequately before Joseph went to Carthage for the last time.

The weight of evidence cannot, at present, sustain the claim that Joseph commanded the Nauvoo Legion to come rescue him.[26] Errors, miscitation of sources, and typographical problems have further clouded this issue.

The critics and their sources: There are two basic 'streams' of this theory

The first derives from Fawn Brodie (1945):

Other authors have followed Brodie. Abanes (One Nation Under Gods), for example, merely quotes Brodie as his source. Denton simply repeats the claim without acknowledging Brodie as the source.

Brodie's evidence derives from two sources:

  • Allen J. Stout, manuscript journal, 1815-89, p. 13.
  • T.B.H. Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints: a full and complete history of the Mormons, from the first vision of Joseph Smith to the last courtship of Brigham Young (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1873), 164n..

Brodie says that Stout's story "is confirmed" by Stenhouse, but Stenhouse mentions no names.[27]:n.94

New wrinkle: Hofmann forgeries

The second evidential stream draws on the first, but adds a new wrinkle. This wrinkle is one of the Hofmann forgeries.[28] Mark Hofmann forged the supposed letter from Joseph to Dunham, and it was published in a collection of Joseph's personal writings before the forgery was discovered.

Despite the fact that the document is a forgery, some authors have continued to use it. For example, D. Michael Quinn used it as evidence as late as 1994, and cites the Jessee transcript of the letter (cited above):

The morning of 27 July, Smith sent an order (in his own handwriting) to Major-General Jonathan Dunham to lead the Nauvoo Legion in a military attack on Carthage "immediately" to free the prisoners. Dunham realized that such an assault by the Nauvoo Legion would result in two blood baths—one in Carthage and another when anti-Mormons (and probably the Illinois militia) retaliated by laying siege to Nauvoo for insurrection. To avoid civil war and the destruction of Nauvoo's population, Dunham refused to obey the order and did not notify Smith of his decision. One of his lieutenants, a former Danite, later complained that Dunham "did not let a single mortal know that he had received such orders."

  • Citing: "Joseph Smith to Jonathan Dunham, 27 June 1844, in Jessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, xxv, 616-17; History of the Church, 6:529. Volume 6 link referred to this order but neither quoted nor summarized it....Allen J. Stout journal, 13; also T. B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints...,164n, told the incident without naming Dunham."[16]:141

</blockquote>

There is no mention in History of the Church that Joseph wrote a letter to Dunham urging him to come to their rescue

We note too that the History of the Church citation is also in error; Quinn transposed two numbers; the correct citation is 6:592. Despite this claim, there is no mention in History of the Church that Joseph wrote a letter to Dunham urging him to come to their rescue. Joseph wrote several known letters to Dunham, none of which supports Quinn's claim. The History of the Church entry reads:

"Willard Richards made copies of the orders of Joseph Smith as Mayor to Marshal John P. Greene, and as Lieut.-General to Major-General Jonathan Dunham."

These are clearly the letters referred to earlier in the History of the Church (see 6:493), which say nothing about rescuing the prisoners at Carthage.

Quinn goes on to claim that:

However, another former Danite took self-inflicted retribution for the death of Joseph Smith. When Nauvoo Mormons learned that Jonathan Dunham had ignored the prophet's direct order to lead the Nauvoo Legion in a rescue at Carthage Jail, some called him a "coward and traitor." Others dismissed him as a "fool and idiot."....[16]:179

He here uses the same citation as before: the Jesse volume, with its forged Hofmann document.

Quinn's retraction and the error's perpetuation

In 1995, Quinn wrote a letter in which he acknowledged his reference to the forged document and included and explanation:

While vacationing in California during January, I received a telephone call informing me that my newly published book Mormon Hierarchy had cited a Hoffman-forged letter to Jonathan Dunham in the source notes. I'll spare you my immediate reaction, but it was stronger than "Oh hell!"....

The only parts of the Dunham letter I used were the variant date (a day later than History of the Church) and the word "immediately," but during my rushed revision of this passage I mistyped the month in my narrative. I should have caught my misstatement that Joseph Smith wrote these orders a month after his June death, but I never saw that error. Nor did I see the typographical error of transposing the page-number citation in History of the Church for the letter.[29]

Quinn continues to insist on his misreading of the History of the Church entry (see discussion above), only correcting his typographical error in the citation (6:592 instead of 6:529).

Quinn ignores that he also claimed (without evidence save from the forgery) that the writing was "in his [Joseph's] own handwriting."

Quinn went on to claim that he could only locate this information in Silitoe and Roberts' 1988 volume Salamander. While the information is available in Salamander (see pp. 110, 132, 282, 547, and plate 37), this was not the only source available. The letter's forged status was also discussed in Dialogue 21/4 (Winter 1988): 170. BYU Studies included a long list of forged documents and other material related to the Hofmann forgeries in 1989, including the Dunham letter.[30] Deseret Book and Dean Jesse had also released an errata sheet for his Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, which was available by DATE. [citation needed]

Quinn made corrections for the 1997 printing of Origins of Power. However, his publisher issued the New Mormon Studies CD-ROM in 1998, but still included Quinn's erroneous 1994 version in this digital product.

Quinn: distorting another source

Quinn tries to provide extra proof by writing that:

Later general authority Seymour B. Young (who had survived the Haun's Mill massacre) recorded a different story he learned from another former Danite. Ever since the martyrdom, Dunham "seemed to grieve over the matter" of not rescuing the prisoners at Carthage, and the anniversary of the prophet's death pushed him into despair. A month later he persuaded "a friendly Indian" (Dana) "to kill and bury him."[16]:179

For this claim, Quinn appeals again to Stenhouse (who, as noted above, mentioned no names and could have had no personal knowledge of these events), and to an Oliver B. Huntington statement, in Seymour B. Young diary, 23 May 1903, LDS archives. But, this supposed confirmation turns out to be nothing of the sort. Dean Jessee wrote, in a review of Quinn's work that

In his treatment of Joseph Smith's death, Quinn refers to the statement by Allen Stout that Joseph, in Carthage Jail, had ordered Jonathan Dunham, commander of the Nauvoo Legion, to bring the legion and rescue him; and that Dunham did not respond (p. 141). Quinn quotes Seymour Young's 1903 conversation with Oliver Huntington, reporting that Dunham "seemed to grieve over the matter" of failing to rescue Joseph; depressed, Dunham persuaded a friendly Indian to kill and bury him (pp. 179-80). But Quinn has altered the Young conversation with Huntington to support Stout's story that Joseph had sent for the Nauvoo Legion. According to Young, Huntington informed him that, in the spring of 1844, Joseph told Dunham to fortify Nauvoo so the Saints could make a stand against their enemies. Dunham's depression after the martyrdom was over his failure to complete the fortification; he felt that had he done so, the Prophet might not have had to go to Carthage in the first place.[31]:167

Jessee makes no mention of Quinn's further difficulties in using the forged Hofmann document years after its status as a fraud was revealed. Thus, the case for Joseph's order to Dunham rests only on Stout's account. Stenhouse mentions the story, but he was in England at the time. He could have had no independent confirmation.

This does not stop Quinn from later, in his timeline, acting as if his entire scenario is well-proven:

28 July. Jonathan Dunham, despondent about disobeying Smith's orders to rescue him from jail, commits suicide. Later disclosures indicate that Dunham, who was a captain of Nauvoo's police, major-general of the Nauvoo Legion, and a Council of Fifty member, accomplished the suicide by asking a native American friend (Lewis Dana, fellow member of the Fifty) to "kill and bury him."[16]:652

No references are provided, a deficiency which reviewers have noted.[32]

Joseph's orders to Dunham

June 17, 1844: Joseph issued three letters of instruction which impacted Dunham. The first was to John P. Greene, marshal of the city:

SIR.—Complaint having been made to me on oath that a mob is collecting at sundry points to make an attack on this city, you will therefore take such measures as shall be necessary to preserve the peace of said city according to the provisions of the charter and the laws of the state; and with the police and the Legion, see that no violent set is committed. General Dunham is hereby instructed to act with the Marshal in keeping the peace, according to law.

The second two letters addressed Dunham directly:

Complaint having been made on oath that a mob is preparing to make an attack upon this city and citizens of Nauvoo, and having directed the Marshal to keep the peace, you are hereby commanded to order the Nauvoo Legion to be in readiness to assist said Marshal in keeping the peace, and doing whatever may be necessary to preserve the dignity of the state and city....

You are hereby instructed to execute all orders of the Marshal, and perform all services with as little noise and confusion as possible, and take every precaution to prevent groups of citizens, &c., from gathering on the bank of the river, on the landing of boats or otherwise, and allay every cause and pretext of excitement as well as suspicion, and let your operations be efficient and decided.[33]:493

On June 18, 1844 Joseph declared martial law

On the 20th Joseph said, "I went with my staff and Major-General Dunham to the prairie, to view the situation of the ground, and to devise plans for the defense of the city, and select the proper locations to meet the mob, and made arrangements for provisions for the city, instructing my agent to pledge my farms for the purpose."[33]:507 On the evening of the 22nd, Dunham was instructed to have the legion cohorts use entrenching tools to prepare the city's defense.[33]:528

On June 22, 1844 Joseph instructed Dunham by letter to prepare the city for defense

Joseph wrote to Dunham,

You will proceed without delay, with the assistance of the Nauvoo Legion, to prepare the background [Eastern part] of said city for defense against an invasion by mobs, cause the Legion to be furnished with tents, and make your encampment in the vicinity of your labor.[33]:532

On June 24, 1844 Joseph instructed Dunham to comply with the governor's order for the Nauvoo Legion to return state arms

Joseph instructed Dunham to comply with the governor's order for the Nauvoo Legion to return state arms.[33]:556 The next day, Joseph and Hyrum surrendered themselves and went to Carthage.

Joseph returned to surrender himself to the Illinois governor, Thomas Ford, after being appealed to by Emma and others

Joseph was safely away in Iowa with Hyrum. He returned to surrender himself to the Illinois governor, Thomas Ford, after being appealed to by Emma and others. Emma reported that Joseph said, "I will die before I will be called a coward."[34]

Joseph also remarked that "If my life is of no value to my friends [those in Nauvoo who were urging him to return for fear of the mob] it is of none to myself....if they had let me alone there would have been no bloodshed but now I expect to be butchered. Hyrum likewise remarked that "We had better go back and die like men." And, on the way out of Nauvoo to Carthage, Joseph was reported to say, "I go like a lamb to the slaughter."[35]

Joseph's attitude in Carthage

On 25 June, Joseph wrote a letter to Emma from Carthage

Joseph wrote,

There was a little mutiny among the "Carthage Greys"; but I think the Gov. has & will succeed in enforcing the laws. I do hope the people of Nauvoo will continue placid pacific & prayerful.

N.B. Governor Ford has just concluded to send some of his malitia to Nauvoo to protect the citizens, & I wish that I they may be kindly treated. They will co-ope=rate with the police to keep the peace of the city The Governors orders will be read in hearing of the police & officers of the Legion, as I suppose.[36]

Joseph hopes Mormons will remain "placid, pacific, and prayerful." He notes that the state militia will keep peace in Nauvoo—a sure obstacle to any attempt to call out the militia.

Joseph wrote to Emma, from Carthage (8:20 am) on 27 June 1844 asked her to tell Dunham to instruct people to stay home

...I want you to tell Bro Dunham to instruct the people to stay at home and attend to their own business and let there be no groups or gathering together unless by permission of the Gov— they are called together to receive communications from the Gov— which would please our people, but let the Gov. direct. —Bro Dunham of course, will obey the orders of the Government officers, and render them the assistance they require....I am very much resigned to my lot knowing I am Justified and have done the best that could be done give my love to the children[37]

Joseph is here forbidding assembly of the people, a necessary prelude to any attempt to rescue him or Hyrum.

Joseph's last letter to was to lawyer Orville H. Browning on 27 June 1844

Joseph's last known letter was to an attorney he wished to add to his legal defense:

Myself and brother Hyrum are in Jail on [a] charge of Treason, to come up for examination on Saturday morning 29th inst. and we request your professional services at that time, on our defence without fail....P.S. There is no ground of action, for we have not been guilty of any crime; neither is there any just cause of suspicion against us when facts are shown but certain circumstances make your attendance very necessary.[38]


Response to claim: 214, 550n46 - The author asserts that Nauvoo Police Chief Hosea Stout have three men flogged because they "were not in good fellowship"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author asserts that Nauvoo Police Chief Hosea Stout have three men flogged because they "were not in good fellowship."

(Author's sources: Hosea Stout, under September 14, 1845, in Brooks, vol. 1, 63.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The author misrepresents the sources that he cites.



Question: Did Hosea Stout have three men flogged because they "were not in good fellowship"?

The Nauvoo police did not threaten others because they were "not in good fellowship"

Stout's journal entry begins:

[September] 14, Sunday. Went with my wife to meeting at the Stand. H. [Heber] C. Kimball and Brigham Young preached about the mob burning houses and gave the Saints advice what to do under the present trying circumstances; at intermission I met the Eleventh Quorum near the Stand, and then in the afternoon attended meeting.[39]

The problems begin at the afternoon meeting:

It was a business meeting and all who were not in good fellowship were not allowed to be present and the police in keeping them away had to flog three who were determined to stay.[40]

Thus, the Nauvoo police did not threaten others because they were "not in good fellowship." There was no problem with these men being in town, or attending the morning preaching.

The men who were flogged were refusing to leave a private meeting to which they were not invited and not entitled to attend

However, the afternoon meeting was "a business meeting." The Saints did not have an indoor assembly hall large enough to accommodate them, so meetings were held out of doors. The men "out of fellowship" who were flogged were refusing to leave a private meeting to which they were not invited and not entitled to attend.

The conclusion of Stout's diary entry probably illustrates why the Saints were so determined that their enemies not be present at their business meeting, during which plans for defense of the city and citizens were probably a topic:

After police meeting I went with Colonel [John] Scott to see [General] Rich; after some consultation with them we concluded that it was best to post a guard below the city to prevent any person from going in or out to correspond with the mob, as some were trying to make a difficulty in the name of the Mormons.[41]

These floggings did not occur in a peaceful, tranquil, 21st century city

This was a nineteenth-century frontier town, surrounded by hostile enemies who were burning out-lying Mormon homes and who would again drive the Saints from Illinois in winter weather. The Saints had to make plans to maintain the peace of their city—plans which could be compromised if apostates or dissidents were aware of them. Those "out of fellowship" might also use what they learned at the business meeting to perform acts for which the Mormons could be "framed," giving their enemies a justification for further attacks and military action.

Violence only occurred after the three dissidents refused to leave a meeting to which they were not invited

The author often relies on Quinn, though he here does not cite him. Quinn writes,

In the fall of 1845, Mormon enforcers became openly violent in their approach toward dissenters. On 14 September Hosea Stout recorded that Nauvoo's police "had to flog" three men "who were not in good fellowship" but had tried to attend an open air "business meeting" of the church....These incidents were occurring at public meetings of the church during daylight hours.[42]

Like the author, Quinn's treatment is inadequate. He fails to note that Stout did nothing to prevent those out of fellowship from attending public preaching meetings, and says nothing about the security situation in which the Church members found themselves. He tells us nothing about the fact that violence only occurred after the three dissidents refused to leave a meeting to which they were not invited.

The partial use of sources can sometimes lead to an inaccurate view of the complete picture.


Response to claim: 214, 550n49-51 - The author states that outsiders who were not "murdered or severely beaten" instead "whittled" out of town by Brigham's 'Whistling and Whittling Brigade'"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author states that outsiders who were not "murdered or severely beaten" instead "whittled" out of town by Brigham's 'Whistling and Whittling Brigade.'" Was the "Whistling and Whittling Brigade" a "violent gang of Mormons" that were "in good standing with the church?"

(Author's sources:
  • William B. Pace, William B. Pace Autobiography. Quoted in Dean Moody, "Nauvoo's Whistling and Whittling Brigade," BYU Studies (Summer 1975), vol. 15, 487. BYU Studies article PDF]
  •  Citation error: should be "Thurmon Dean Moody."
  • Jehiel Savage statement in minutes of the high council of James Strang's followers at Voree, Wisconsin, April 6, 1846.
  • Hosea Stout, under April 27, 1845, in Brooks, vol. 1, 36.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The "Whistling and Whittling Brigade" did exist, but the author's assertion that others were "murdered or severely beaten" is nonsense.



Response to claim: 216-217, 552n62-65 (HB) 550n62-65 (PB) - The author claims that government records indicate that some apostles were involved in counterfeiting

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that government records indicate that Brigham Young, Willard Richards, Parley Pratt, and Orson Hyde were involved in making counterfeit coins "under Joseph's leadership"?

(Author's sources:
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Mormon Kingdom, vol. 2, 51-64.
  • D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 127, 650-651.
  • Warsaw Signal, June 5, 1844.
  • St Louis American, December 2, 1845.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

There are no government records indicating that Brigham Young or any apostles were involved in counterfeiting.



Question: Are there government records that prove that the apostles were involved in counterfeiting in Nauvoo?

There are no "government records" which prove that the apostles "were involved in making counterfeit coins"

The book One Nation Under Gods claims that government records indicate that Brigham Young, Willard Richards, Parley Pratt, and Orson Hyde were involved in making counterfeit coins, and that this may have "started under Joseph's leadership." [43] The author cites the following sources to support his claim:

  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Mormon Kingdom, vol. 2, 51-64.
  • D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 127, 650-651.
  • Warsaw Signal, June 5, 1844.
  • St Louis American, December 2, 1845.

There are no "government records" which prove that the apostles "were involved in making counterfeit coins" At best, there is an indictment from a local grand jury, but an indictment is not proof—and, it is unlikely that indictment was anything but a ploy to make sure the Mormons left.

Of three men accused, two are non-Mormons, and the third was criticized by Hyrum Smith for this practice after his eventual apostasy

On page 127, Quinn mentions three men who either passed counterfeit money or who were accused of counterfeiting—yet, two are non-Mormons, and the third was criticized by Hyrum Smith for this practice after his eventual apostasy.

On pages 650-651, Quinn mentions two items that relate to counterfeiting:

  • 24 Mar. [1845] A disaffected Mormon writes that Theodore Turley, of the Council of Fifty, has prepared a press in Nauvoo for counterfeiting, and that Turley gave the man a counterfeit $5.00 bill. [650]
  • 4 June. [1845] Young and Kimball learn that Warren Snow and Dominicus Carter have been jailed in Quincy, Illinois, for passing counterfeit money. Bishop Joseph L. Heywood confirms that they are guilty. In Utah Snow would become a bishop and Carter a member of a stake presidency. [651]

None of this associates Joseph Smith (or any of the named apostles) with approving or conducting counterfeiting in any way

That Snow and Carter later held church leadership positions says nothing about official sanction for their actions in Nauvoo—repentance is a firm tenet of the Church.

The "government documents" to which the author refers (via the Tanners) date from 1846 and appear to be a ploy to provide incentive for the Saints to leave Nauvoo

The grand jury of the United States district court of Springfield, Illinois, in January 1846, issued twelve indictments against prominent Church leaders for counterfeiting United States coin. [Niles' National Register, January 3, 1846.] This action was generally thought to be a ploy on the part of the government to make certain that the Saints would keep their promise to leave Nauvoo in the spring. Church leaders issued a circular in which they denied the charge of counterfeiting. They reiterated that they expected the migration to begin early in March. [Missouri Reporter, February 5, 1846.] They then went into hiding and refused to give themselves up for trial.[44]


Response to claim: 217 - The author claims that Brigham chose to start the exodus westward early because he was faced with the possibility of counterfeiting charges

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Brigham chose to start the exodus westward early because he was faced with the possibility of counterfeiting charges.

(Author's sources: No source provided.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The counterfeiting charges were likely a ploy to ensure that the Mormons left Nauvoo in 1846 as promised. Young's announcement that he would head west sent the message that they would not linger, which is what the local anti-Mormons wanted.



Response to claim: 220, 553n77 (HB) - Brigham "proudly admitted" "'I have been your dictator for twenty-seven years--over a quarter of a century I have dictated this people'"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Brigham "proudly admitted" "'I have been your dictator for twenty-seven years--over a quarter of a century I have dictated this people.'"

(Author's sources: Brigham Young, August 13, 1871, Journal of Discourses, vol. 14, 205.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Brigham was talking of spiritual matters, not governmental matters.



Question: Did Brigham Young "proudly admit" to being a dictator?

President Young was speaking about spiritual matters, not political matters

The book One Nation Under Gods claims that Brigham Young, although officially a governor, acted more like a dictator than anything else, and that he "proudly admitted" as much during an 1871 sermon, saying: "'I have been your dictator for twenty-seven years--over a quarter of a century I have dictated this people.'"

In an attempt to show that Brigham Young was the political dictator of the Territory of Utah, the author has quoted from a speech of Brigham Young recorded in the Journal of Discourses. Does the context of the quote indicate that President Young "proudly admitted" to being a political dictator? The full quote, in context, is reproduced here (the portion in bold is the quote used by the author).

But to return to my question to the Saints, "How are you going to know about the will and commands of heaven?" By the Spirit of revelation; that is the only way you can know. How do I know but what I am doing wrong? How do I know but what we will take a course for our utter ruin? I sometimes say to my brethren, "I have been your dictator for twenty-seven years-over a quarter of a century I have dictated this people; that ought to be some evidence that my course is onward and upward. But how do you know that I may not yet do wrong? How do you know but I will bring in false doctrine and teach the people lies that they may be damned? Sisters can you tell the difference? I can say this for the Latter-day Saints, and I will say it to their praise and my satisfaction, if I were to preach false doctrine here, it would not be an hour after the people got out, before it would begin to fly from one to another, and they would remark, "I do not quite like that! It does not look exactly right! What did Brother Brigham mean? That did not sound quite right, it was not exactly the thing!" All these observations would be made by the people, yes, even by the sisters. It would not sit well on the stomach, that is, on the spiritual stomach, if you think you have one. It would not sit well on the mind, for you are seeking after the things of God; you have started out for life and salvation, and with all their ignorance, wickedness and failings, the majority of this people are doing just as well as they know how; and I will defy any man to preach false doctrine without being detected.

In other words, President Young was speaking about spiritual matters, not political matters. Yet, the author tries to equate President Young's quote with political dictatorship--a clear misuse of his source.

In today's society, the common definition of "dictator" carries a pejorative connotation. This is a direct outgrowth of twentieth-century world politics, particularly World War II, where the United States, with her allies, faced down dictatorial regimes. Consider the primary definition of 'dictator' as found in Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary of the English language:

One who dictates; one who prescribes rules and maxims for the direction of others.

This, of course, is the definition that Brigham Young would have been familiar with. He would not have been familiar with the pejorative use of the word that we are familiar with today. This definition is also consistent with the way that religious prophets lead their people. Yet, the author of ONUG tries to capitalize on a negative understanding of 'dictator', and somehow assert that President Young was a political dictator. His use is not consistent with the then-common definition of the word, or with the context in which it was used.


Response to claim: 221-222, 551n84-87 - The author claims that Latter-day Saints believe that "they were the only ones with a legitimate right to be stewards of the Lord's property"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Latter-day Saints believe that "they were the only ones with a legitimate right to be stewards of the Lord's property—i.e., all creation. Gentiles, on the other hand, because they had no claim to the earth, would have to give up to the Saints what they mistakenly viewed as their property."

(Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The author has misrepresented his sources.



Question: Do Latter-day Saints believe that they were the only ones with a "legitimate right to be stewards" of all property on the earth?

Nothing in the Doctrine and Covenants or Brigham Young's talk threatens the right of anyone to own property

One critics of Mormonism claims that Latter-day Saints believed that "they were the only ones with a legitimate right to be stewards of the Lord's property—i.e., all creation. Gentiles, on the other hand, because they had no claim to the earth, would have to give up to the Saints what they mistakenly viewed as their property." [45] The author cites the following sources in support of his claim:

The author makes claims which his sources do not sustain. Nothing in the Doctrine and Covenants or Brigham Young's talk threatens the right of anyone to own property. Brigham explicitly states that entry into such a law is voluntary, of one's own free will. He makes the (uncontroversial, for any Christian) observation that everything belongs to God, and so anything a member sacrifices is not really 'his' to begin with.

During the LDS settlement of Utah, they received first claim on lands, and many settlers reportedly deeded their land to the Church—as was their right. This does not mean that they would, could, or did compel others to do likewise.

None of this means that everything which other people own should be owned by the Mormons. That is sheer fabrication.

The Doctrine and Covenants verse cited reads:

37 And it shall come to pass, that he that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out of the church, and shall not receive again that which he has consecrated unto the poor and the needy of my church, or in other words, unto me—

This does not mean that apostates or non-members have no right to property. This is, rather, a description of how the Church's united order economic system was to work. Property was given to the Church, but the member received some back and was given legal title to it. It remained his to do with as he wished, even if he left the Church—both legally and under the laws of the Church. As Milton V. Backman explained:

[Initially] instead of conveying deeds to members, Bishop Partridge...leased land to the Saints. Under the provision of the contracts [initially drawn up by Partridge]...if an individual left the Church, he had no legal claim to his inheritance.

On several occasions, Joseph Smith wrote to Church leaders in Missouri informing them that their application of the law of consecration and stewardship was not correct....

the Prophet informed Bishop Partridge, in a letter dated May 2, 1833, that although stewards had no claim over their initial consecration, their inheritances beclonged [check spelling] to them; it was their property. "Concerning inheritances," he explained, "you are bound by the law of the Lord to give a deed, securing to him who receives inheritances...." He further taught that if an individual transgressed and left the Church, the inheritance still belonged to him.[46]

Brigham Young: "[this law] will be one of the last revelations which the people will receive into their hearts and understandings, of their own free will and choice"

Brigham Young's cited speech refers to the same section of the D&C; he even quotes verses 30-32]—this is the same material found in the author's History of the Church reference. After discussing other scriptures about consecration, Brigham observed:

[this law] will be one of the last revelations which the people will receive into their hearts and understandings, of their own free will and choice, and esteem it as a pleasure, a privilege, and a blessing unto them to observe and keep most holy....

[300] To whom do these elements [i.e., material blessings on the earth] belong now? To the same Being who owned them in the beginning. The earth is still His, and its fulness, and that includes each one of us, and also includes all that we seem to possess. It includes all the elements, in whatever shape, form, or condition, and wherever they are situated, whether in the native state, or in a state of organization for the comfort and benefit of man....

If we could perceive and fully understand that all the ability and knowledge we have, every good we possess, every bright idea, every pure affection, and every good vision of mind from our infancy to the present time, are [301] all the free gift of the Lord, and that we of ourselves have nothing original, we should be much better prepared and far more ready to act faithfully and wisely under all circumstances. Every good thing is in His hands, is subject to His power, belongs to Him, and is only handed over to us, for the time being, to see what use we will make of it....

It is then the design of the Lord that mankind should be placed in this dark, ignorant, and selfish state, that we should naturally cling to the earth; for, as it was said here last Sabbath, the earth is very good in and of itself, and has abided a celestial [303] law, consequently we should not despise it, nor desire to leave it, but rather desire and strive to obey the same law that the earth abides, and abide it as honorably as does the earth.

If we do abide this law thus faithfully, we are sure to get our resurrection and exaltation, for then we can see and understand things as they are. Then instead of concluding that the Lord has drawn us into difficulties, and compelled us to do that which is unpleasant to our feelings, and to suffer sacrifice upon sacrifice to no purpose, we shall understand that He has designed all this to prepare us to dwell in His presence, to possess His Spirit, which is right and intelligent, for nothing but purity and holiness can dwell where He is....

[304] What is our duty? It is our duty to improve upon every blessing the Lord gives to us. If He gives us land, improve it; if He gives us the privilege of building houses, improve it; if He gives us wives and children, try and teach them the ways of the Lord, and exalt them above the dark, degraded, and sunken state of mankind, &c.; if He gives us the [305] privilege of gathering together, let us sanctify ourselves. In His providence He has called the Latter-day Saints from the world, has gathered them from other nations, and given them a place upon the earth. Is this a blessing? Yes, one of the greatest the people can enjoy, to be free from the wickedness of the wicked, from the calamities and clamor of the world. By this blessing we can show to our Father in Heaven that we are faithful stewards; and more, it is a blessing to have the privilege of handing back to Him that which He has put in our possession, and not say it is ours, until He shall say it from the heavens. Then it is plain that what I seem to have I do not in reality own, and I will hand it back to the Lord when He calls for it; it belongs to Him and it is His all the time. I do not own it, I never did. He has called upon the people to consecrate their property, to see whether they could understand so simple a thing as this. When they bow down to worship the Lord, they acknowledge that the earth is His, and the cattle upon a thousand hills; and tell the Lord there is no sacrifice they are not willing to make for the sake of the religion of Jesus Christ....

[308] Observe the men who have come into this Church rich in property, and where can you find one who has said, "I brought fifty, forty, or twenty thousand dollars into this Church," but what they have either come begging to the Church at last, or apostatized? If you cling to the world, and say it is hard for you to do this or that, recollect that the love of the Father is not in you. Let me love the world as He loves it, to make it beautiful, and glorify the name of my Father in heaven. It does not matter whether I or anybody else owns it, if we only work to beautify it and make it glorious, it is all right. Let me do what I am called to do, and be contented with my lot, and not worry about this, that, or the other. I have spoken long enough. May God bless you. Amen.

Incidents of Travel and Adventure

The author's final source is a nineteenth century work which describes a visit to Salt Lake City by a Jewish author. That author writes:

I may say all the real estate in the valley is the property of the church, for proprietors have only an interest in property so long as they are members of the Mormon Church, and reside in the valley. The moment they leave or apostatize, they are obliged to abandon their property, and are precluded from selling it, or if they do give the bill of sale it is not valid—it is not tenable by the purchaser. This arrangement was proposed by the governor and council, at the conference which took place during my residence among them in 1854, and thousands of property holders subsequently deeded their houses and lands to the church, in perpetuity.

Under the operation of this law, nobody but Mormons can hold property in Great Salt Lake City.[47]

Already, we have seen that the author has distorted the source. The real estate in the valley's is the Church's—the members do not "own" it. This is not to say that non-members cannot (and do not) own property elsewhere. But, since the property owners deeded their goods to the Church, the Church is the legal owner.

Carvalho continues approvingly:

There are numbers of citizens who are not Mormons, who rent properties; but there is no property for sale—a most politic course on the part of the Mormons—for in case of a railroad being established between the two oceans, Great Salt Lake City must be the half way stopping place, and the city will be kept purified from taverns and grog shops at every corner of the street. Another city will have to be built some distance from them, for they have determined to keep themselves distinct from the vices of civilization. During a residence of ten weeks in Great Salt Lake City, and my observations in all their various settlements, amongst a homogeneous population of over seventy-five thousand inhabitants, it is worthy of record, that I never heard any obscene or improper language; never saw a man drunk; never had my attention called to the exhibition of vice of any sort. There are no gambling houses, grog shops, or buildings of ill fame, in all their settlements. They preach morality in their churches and from their stands, and what is as strange as it is true, the people practise it, and religiously believe their salvation depends on fulfilling the behests of the religion they have adopted....

[Of new immigrants] each and all of them are comfortably provided with land and tenements. The first year they, of course, suffer privations, until they build their houses and reap their crops, yet all their necessities in the meantime are provided for by the church, and in a social point of view, they are much happier than they could ever hope to have been at their native homes. From being tenants at will of an imperious and exacting landlord, they suddenly become land holders, in their own right-free men, living on free soil, under a free and enlightened government.[48]


Response to claim: 222, 554n88 (HB) - Did Brigham claim that God's kingdom had already come when he said: "that Kingdom is actually organized, and the inhabitants of earth do not know it"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Brigham claim that God's kingdom had already come when he said: "[T]hat Kingdom is actually organized, and the inhabitants of earth do not [even] know it"?

(Author's sources: Young, July 8, 1855, in Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, 310.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The author misrepresents his sources.



Question: Did Brigham Young claim that the Kingdom of God was already organized on earth, and that the inhabitants of the earth did not know it?

Brigham Young didn't believe that the Kingdom of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were synonymous

The book One Nation Under Gods claims,

Closely associated with this belief was Brigham Young's role as God's chosen sovereign; the one divinely anointed to rule over earth as Christ's latter-day prophet. The idea came directly from Smith. However, unlike Joseph, who taught that the Saint's reign was to be organized in the future, Brigham asserted that God's kingdom was already organized, and the inhabitants of earth did not know it. "[I]t is organzied preparatory to taking effect in the due time of the Lord," Young said in 1855." [49]

In the hardback and the paperback editions, the author makes the clear assertion that Brigham Young believed that the Kingdom of God was already organized on earth, and that this belief differed from the earlier beliefs of Joseph Smith. A quick look at the original quote, in context, from the Journal of Discourses, demonstrates otherwise. (In the following, the bold text indicates the words that the author of ONUG used.)

When the Kingdom of God is fully set up and established on the face of the earth, and takes the pre-eminence over all other nations and kingdoms, it will protect the people in the enjoyment of all their rights, no matter what they believe, what they profess, or what they worship. If they wish to worship a god of their own workmanship, instead of the true and living God, all right, if they will mind their own business and let other people alone.

As was observed by brother Pratt, that Kingdom is actually organized, and the inhabitants of the earth do not know it. If this people know anything about it, all right; it is organized preparatory to taking effect in the due time of the Lord, and in the manner that shall please Him. As observed by one of the speakers this morning, that Kingdom grows out of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it is not the Church, for a man may be a legislator in that body which will issue laws to sustain the inhabitants of the earth in their individual rights, and still not belong to the Church of Jesus Christ at all.

And further, though a man may not even believe in any religion, it would be perfectly right, when necessary, to give him the privilege of holding a seat among that body which will make laws to govern all the nations of the earth and control those who make no profession of religion at all; for that body would be governed, controlled, and dictated to acknowledge others in those rights which they wish to enjoy themselves. Then the Latter-day Saints would be protected, if a Kingdom of this kind was on the earth, the same as all other people.

Notice that the quote used in ONUG was actually Brigham Young quoting "brother Pratt" (probably Orson Pratt) from an earlier discourse. And notice the future-tense wording used by President Young in describing the kingdom:

When the Kingdom of God is fully set up and established...
...it will protect the people...
...it is organized preparatory to taking effect in the due time of the Lord...
...among that body which will make laws...
...Then the Latter-day Saints would be protected, if a Kingdom of this kind was on the earth...

Brigham Young didn't believe that the Kingdom of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were synonymous. Note his wording: "As observed by one of the speakers this morning, that Kingdom grows out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it is not the Church..."

Notice that the above discourse by President Young does not say that the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in some conspiratorial attempt to establish a dictatorial Kingdom of God on earth, will restrict the liberties and freedoms of others. President Young states, among other things, that the Kingdom of God "will protect the people in the enjoyment of all their rights, no matter what they believe, what they profess, or what they worship." Further, those who are not in the Church will have the opportunity to govern within the kingdom:

...though a man may not even believe in any religion, it would be perfectly right, when necessary, to give him the privilege of holding a seat among that body which will make laws to govern all the nations of the earth and control those who make no profession of religion at all; for that body would be governed, controlled, and dictated to acknowledge others in those rights which they wish to enjoy themselves.


Response to claim: 222, 554n89 (HB) - Brigham said: "We will roll on the Kingdom of our God...and establish the Kingdom of God to bear rule over all the earth"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Brigham said: "We will roll on the Kingdom of our God, gather out the seed of Abraham, build the cities and temples of Zion, and establish the Kingdom of God to bear rule over all the earth."

(Author's sources: *Young, July 8, 1855, in Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, 317.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Brigham did not have plans to rule the earth through the establishment of the Kingdom of God.



Question: Did Brigham Young plan to "rule over all the earth"?

President Young didn't believe that the Kingdom of God was on the earth, nor did he believe it was synonymous with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The book One Nation Under Gods asserts that Brigham Young assured his followers: "[W]e will roll on the Kingdom of our God, gather out the seed of Abraham, build the cities and temples of Zion, and establish the Kingdom of God to bear rule over all the earth." [50] The author cites "Young, July 8, 1855, in JOD, vol. 2, 317".

This is one of two quotes used by the author of ONUG from a single discourse by Brigham Young. The author uses these quotes to bolster his belief that Brigham Young felt the Kingdom of God was on earth, that it was synonymous with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that it would oppressively rule over everyone else.

As was shown in an examination of the earlier quote used by the author of ONUG (see the article here), President Young didn't believe that the Kingdom of God was on the earth, nor did he believe it was synonymous with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This particular quote from President Young bears further scrutiny, however. Take a look at the full quote, in context. (The bold portion of the quote indicates the words used by the author of ONUG) In talking about the coming Kingdom of God, Brigham Young stated:

They will ask, "If I bow the knee and confess that He is that Savior, the Christ, to the glory of the Father, will you let me go home and be a Presbyterian?" "Yes." "And not persecute me?" "Never." "Won't you let me go home and belong to the Greek Church?" "Yes." "Will you allow me to be a Friend Quaker, or a Shaking Quaker?" "O yes, anything you wish to be, but remember that you must not persecute your neighbors, but must mind your own business, and let your neighbors alone, and let them worship the sun, moon, a white dog, or anything else they please, being mindful that every knee has got to bow and every tongue confess. When you have paid this tribute to the Most High, who created you and preserves you, you may then go and worship what you please, or do what you please, if you do not infringe upon your neighbors."

The brethren who spoke this morning had not time to explain these points, and I have only just touched upon the subject.

The Church of Jesus Christ will produce this government, and cause it to grow and spread, and it will be a shield round about the Church. And under the influence and power of the Kingdom of God, the Church of God will rest secure and dwell in safety, without taking the trouble of governing and controlling the whole earth. The Kingdom of God will do this, it will control the kingdoms of the world.

When the day comes in which the Kingdom of God will bear rule, the flag of the United States will proudly flutter unsullied on the flag staff of liberty and equal rights, without a spot to sully its fair surface; the glorious flag our fathers have bequeathed to us will then be unfurled to the breeze by those who have power to hoist it aloft and defend its sanctity.

Up to this time we have carried the world on our backs. Joseph did it in his day, besides carrying this whole people, and now all this is upon my back, with my family to provide for at the same time, and we will carry it all, and bear off the Kingdom of God. And you may pile on state after state, and kingdom after kingdom, and all hell on top, and we will roll on the Kingdom of our God, gather out the seed of Abraham, build the cities and temples of Zion, and establish the Kingdom of God to bear rule over all the earth, and let the oppressed of all nations go free.

The Kingdom of God would not be oppressive: people will be able to worship as they like and live in peace with each other

Does such a Kingdom sound oppressive? According to Brigham Young (and contrary to ONUG's statements about the Mormons' beliefs), people will be able to worship as they like and live in peace with each other. In fact, President Young makes several points in closing his discourse:

  • People can worship any way they like (even "worship the sun, moon, a white dog, or anything else they please").
  • Neighbors will not infringe upon neighbors.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ will produce this government (but it will not be that government, as was made clear in President Young's remarks earlier, in the same talk).
  • The Church of God will dwell in safety.
  • The Church of God will not govern or control the whole earth (the Kingdom of God will, but not the Church of God).
  • The United States will still exist under the Kingdom of God, and separate from the Church of God.
  • The Kingdom of God will "let the oppressed of all nations go free."


Response to claim: 223, 552n94 - Salvation depends upon obedience to Brigham Young

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Salvation depends upon obedience to Brigham Young.
  • When Mary Ettie V. Smith recalled asked Brigham, "are you my Saviour?" she claims that Brigham said, "Most assuredly I am....You cannot enter the Celestial kingdom, except by my consent. Do you doubt it?"

    (Author's sources: *Quoted in Nelson Winch Green, Mormonism: its rise, progress, and present condition. Embracing the narrative of Mrs. Mary Ettie V. Smith, 201.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The source that claims this is notoriously unreliable.



Question: Did Brigham Young tell Ettie V. Smith that he was her savior?

Nelson Winch Green's work and "Mrs. Ettie V. Smith" are notorious among LDS historians for their inaccuracy

The book One Nation Under Gods claims that "salvation for the Mormon rested on their obedience to Brigham..." When Mary Ettie V. Smith asked Brigham, "are you my Saviour?" she claims that Brigham said, "Most assuredly I am....You cannot enter the Celestial kingdom, except by my consent. Do you doubt it?" [51] The author cites Nelson Winch Green, Mormonism: its rise, progress, and present condition. Embracing the narrative of Mrs. Mary Ettie V. Smith, 201.

Green's work and "Mrs. Ettie V. Smith" are notorious among LDS historians for their inaccuracy.[52]

For example, in her discussion of plural marriage, Ettie gets virtually every detail wrong—-she insists that William Law, Robert Foster, and Henry Jacobs had all been sent on missions, only to return and establish the Expositor to oppose the plural wife teaching. While Law and Foster were involved with the Expositor, they were not sent on missions. Jacobs, had served some missions, but he did not object to plural marriage and was a faithful Saint who was not connected with the Expositor.

Even the anti-Mormon Fanny Stenhouse considered Ettie Smith to be a writer who "so mixed up fiction with what was true, that it was difficult to determine where one ended and the other began,"[53] and was a good example of how "the autobiographies of supposed Mormon women were [as] unreliable"[54] as other Gentile accounts, given her tendency to "mingl[e] facts and fiction" "in a startling and sensational manner."[55]


Response to claim: 223, 552n95 - Did Brigham Young believe that one day he "would himself become president of the United States, or dictate who should be president"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Brigham Young believe that one day he "would himself become president of the United States, or dictate who should be president"?

(Author's sources: Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah, 1540-1886, 505.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Hubert Howe Bancroft reports a prophecy made by Brigham Young in 1847, but provides no sources.



Question: Did Brigham Young believe that he would one day become president of the United States?

Hubert Howe Bancroft reports a prophecy made by Brigham Young in 1847, but provides no sources

Bancroft states that Brigham believed that one day soon he would himself become president of the United States, or that he would be able to dictate who should become the president. [56]

Hubert Howe Bancroft reports a prophecy made by Brigham Young in 1847. He provides no sources, so it is difficult to assess Brigham's possible meaning from Bancroft's report. [57] However, Heber C. Kimball spoke in 1856 with Brigham present, and we can perhaps see what Brigham intended:

The Church and kingdom to which we belong will become the kingdom of our God and his Christ, and brother Brigham Young will become President of the United States....

And I tell you he will be something more; but we do not now want to give him the name: but he is called and ordained to a far greater station than that, and he is foreordained to take that station, and he has got it; and I am Vice-President, and brother Wells is the Secretary of the Interior—yes, and of all the armies in the flesh.

You don't believe that; but I can tell you it is one of the smallest things that I can think of. You may think that I am joking; but I am perfectly willing that brother Long should write every word of it; for I can see it, just as naturally as I see the earth and the productions thereof. [58]

Critics of Mormonism usually make it appear that this is a desire or plan on behalf of Brigham Young to acquire secular political power. However, the Israelites did nothing to destroy or battle the Egyptians, they simply obeyed God and God protected and defended them. This fits in well with the apocalyptic view which Heber and Brigham seem to share of Brigham's future leadership in a divine, temporal kingdom of God on earth. But this is no more than the faithful have always anticipated:

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne....And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them....(Revelation 3:21, Revelation 20:4).

Brigham and Heber were a government-in-exile, but had faith their exile would soon end. [59] They needed only "stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" (Exodus 14:13).

Heber C. Kimball does not foresee Brigham Young or other Church leaders ascending to power in the traditional way

Heber C. Kimball's meaning is clear. He does not foresee Brigham Young or other Church leaders ascending to power in the traditional way. Rather, he sees the end of the world as being near. Thus, he anticipates that the earthly Church will yet become "the kingdom of our God and his Christ"—a clear reference to DC 105:32, which promises that "the kingdoms of this world may be constrained to acknowledge that the kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of our God and his Christ; therefore, let us become subject unto her laws."

This imagery involves the Millennium or end-times, since it invokes the language of John's Revelation:

10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night (Revelation 12:10).

This triumph in which the Church achieves the world's secular rule does not happen until Satan—"the accuser of our brethren"—is cast down. Just as Satan was cast from heaven, so he will be cast from rulership of the temporal world.

As head of the Church, Brigham will thus be called to world leadership when the day of the Lord comes—"President," and something grander. (Biblical prophets in a monarchy would be more likely to speak of kings rather than Presidents.) Early Latter-day Saints (like the early Christians) tended to believe that the second coming was very near, and so Heber and Brigham doubtless anticipated that God's triumph over Satan might come soon, within their lifetimes.

Heber's next words are instructive:

Let us live our religion, serve our God, be good and kind one to another, cease all those contentions in your houses, and live in peace....

Why, I would go to work and make an altar and a heaven, and I never would take any other course than that which is honorable before God; and how can you live your religion without this?....

Well, if it is time for the Government of the United States to cut the thread, we are perfectly competent to take care of ourselves. We would not give a dime for this people to be one more in number than they are. There are enough of us; for the Lord is going to manifest his power and to play with our enemies as he did with Pharaoh and all his host. Now, mark it, and see if it does not come so, or something similar. All these things are in this dispensation, and why? Because this is the fulness of times: it is the time fixed for all to make a sacrifice before God.


Response to claim: 223, 552n96 (PB) - John Taylor said "We used to have a difference between Church and State, but it is all one now..."

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

John Taylor said "We used to have a difference between Church and State, but it is all one now..."

(Author's sources: John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 5:266.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This applied to the Utah Territory. Taylor is pointing out that no one among the Saints has secular solutions to the problems which face them.



Question: Did John Taylor believe that there was no longer a separation between Church and State?

Taylor is pointing out that no one among the Saints has secular solutions to the problems which face them

John Taylor said "We used to have a difference between Church and State, but it is all one now. Thank God, we have no more temporal and spiritual! We have got Church and State together" [60] Was Taylor stating the the Church had taken over secular responsibilities?

Taylor is not gloating that there is no more secular power in Utah territory. Rather, he is pointing out that no one among the Saints has secular solutions to the problems which face them—which might be frightening, but is also a blessing, since they can now trust God and their faith in all matters, not just the purely "religious." Their right to self-government, far from their enemies, means that they can make the decision as they think best.

The historical setting is one in which Johnson's army was en route to menace the Saints. A larger section of Taylor's discourse helps us appreciate his intent:

Now, let me ask how we are going to stand, except we are guided by the revelations of God? And let me further ask how you are going to get the revelations of God, except you live your religion and obey those set over you? Let me further ask, What is the use professing to be the people of God if we do not live our religion and magnify our calling?

I speak of these things merely for argument's sake....

For instance, there is an army coming up here. Can any of you tell what will be the result, except the proper authorities dictate? Do you know what will be the best? But suppose we get through with this, and I suppose that some of you may begin to guess for this year: but can you for next? Is there a man here that can tell how and where to hide his family and his grain? Are there any in this congregation who know anything about it and that give counsel to this people either for present or coming emergencies? This is bringing things to a focus. Now, you wise men, or men of education and literary attainments, or philosophers, speak and display your wisdom. If you cannot, and if we have not any knowledge in this matter, what next? Why, we have got to be dependent upon the authority that is over us; and if we cannot submit, how can we be governed by it?

This principle pervades all, whether in a civil or military capacity or in any other capacity. We used to have a difference between Church and State, but it is all one now. Thank God, we have no more temporal and spiritual! We have got Church and State together, and we used to talk of baptism and repentance, and we used to whip out sectarian priests with their own Bible, and we thought that we were tremendous fellows.

But in what part of the Bible do you find what we are to do this year or the next? This will be part of a new Bible, for when it takes place it will be written, and then that will be a Bible, and then the world will find that we shall have a "Mormon Bible."

Men have been opposed to the Book of Mormon because it was a new Bible. The poor fools did not know that wherever there was a true Church there was revelation, and that wherever there was revelation there was the word of God to man and materials to make Bibles of. (emphasis added)

Taylor's remark that "we have got Church and State together" becomes more understandable when viewed in context. He points out that previously, the Saints would speak of religious subjects, and apply revelation to them, and were delighted that they could "whip out sectarian priests" who denied on-going prophetic revelation. But now, says Taylor, we have moved beyond that point. We are now in a situation in which we will not benefit from revelation only in religious matters. The Saints are alone, unpopular, and soon to be the victims of an approaching army.

Taylor offers to let secular wisdom—wise men, men of education, philosophers, etc.—solve the secular problems that now face the Saints. If they cannot do it (and Taylor and his audience apparently believe that they cannot) then the only other option is to fall back on revelation—but this will not be revelation about what the world would call purely "religious matters," but it will be applied to a temporal emergency.


Response to claim: 223, 552n97 (PB) - "Mormon leaders ruled via a ruthlessly oppressive theocracy wherein they kept followers in line through violence and intimidation"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Mormon leaders ruled via a ruthlessly oppressive theocracy wherein they kept followers in line through violence and intimidation."

(Author's sources: Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 2:107.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The author misrepresents the cited source. Kimball decries violence, war, and bloodshed, and he promises that apostates and dissenters will "wither," not be destroyed.



Question: Did Heber C. Kimball encourage violence and intimidation in order to keep followers "in line"?

Kimball decries violence, war, and bloodshed, and he promises that apostates and dissenters will "wither," not be destroyed

One critic of Mormonism claims that "Mormon leaders ruled via a ruthlessly oppressive theocracy wherein they kept followers in line through violence and intimidation." He cites Heber C. Kimball:

The author cites Heber C. Kimball as his sole example of ruling through "violence and intimidation." Nothing in the cited page (or sermon) can be so construed. A representative excerpt follows:

Jesus says, "Except ye are one, ye are not mine." And yet the Christian world take a course to justify themselves in division, in strife, in animosity, in quarreling, in envy, in jealousy, in war and bloodshed. And yet they say they are one: I say THEY LIE. A man that says it, lies to me, and he lies to God. I say this to all the world, and to those who are passing through the city as emigrants; if you profess to be disciples of Christ, and have hatred to us in your hearts, I say you lie; in the name of the Lord God Almighty I say it....

If a man wants my ox, let him come and tell me so, and he shall have it; he need not quarrel with me about it; and if he robs me of it, I want him to enjoy the stolen property, if he can; for I will not quarrel about the foolish things of this world, for they will soon decay, and return to their mother earth, as you and I will....

Now, brethren and sisters, I will say to the emigrants who are passing through this city, and to the world at large, that it is our intention to become perfectly one in heart and mind. Have those who have separated themselves from this people prospered? They may have prospered for a season; but by and bye they become like a limb that is severed from the tree; they wither and vanish away; and all such will continue to do so from this time henceforth and forever. It is just as much impossible for a people to exist that withdraw from this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it is for a limb of a tree to live when it is severed from the body of the tree. Of this I am positive, because I know it. So I will say concerning the world and all the sects and denominations and kingdoms of the world, that oppose this work and people of God, they will wither in due time likewise, and they cannot help themselves....

Brother Joseph is gone, and now brother Brigham Young, the Governor of the Territory of Utah, is our Prophet, our leader, our Revelator; and it is for me and you to listen to him with all diligence, the same as we would listen to Joseph were he alive. Brother Brigham is his successor; his word is sacred; and if you do not observe it, it will not be well, and there is where I fear for you, brethren. I do not fear so much for myself as I do for you, because it will go hard with you, if you disobey his advice. There will many of you turn from the faith; you will turn your backs to us, and some will be guilty of shedding innocent blood, if you are not aware. This will be the result of apostacy. When that spirit attacks you, you will be led to do as other apostates have, who have turned from the Church of Christ.... [61]

Kimball decries violence, war, and bloodshed. He refuses to quarrel even over the theft of one of his animals. He promises that apostates and dissenters will "wither," not be destroyed. He is perfectly content to let matters take their natural course of the withering of those who abandon God. He fears for them because he worries that they will commit serious sins—including murder and bloodshed.

There is nothing here calculated to encourage or threaten violence, or intimidate those not of Heber's faith.


Response to claim: 224, 552n98 (PB) - Were there "numerous murders" committed at the request of Brigham Young and other Church leaders?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:


  • Was the Mormon Reformation was one of the most violent periods in Latter-day Saint history?
  • Were there "numerous murders" committed at the request of Brigham Young and other Church leaders?

    (Author's sources: Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, or the Story of A Life In Bondage, Being A Complete Expose of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy, Chapter 18.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author cites only a late, notoriously anti-Mormon nineteenth-century polemic for this claim.



Notes

  1. George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008), 310. ( Index of claims , (Detailed book review))
  2. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 637.
  3. Dean C. Jessee, "review of The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power," Journal of Mormon History 22:2 (Fall 1996): 167–168.
  4. Joseph Smith, An American Prophet's Record:The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott Faulring, Significant Mormon Diaries Series No. 1, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1989), 307.
  5. History of the Church, 5:283, for date 20-21 Feb 1843. for date 20-21 Feb 1843 Volume 5 link
  6. History of the Church, 5:292, for date 1 March 1843. for date 1 March 1843 Volume 5 link
  7. Joseph Smith, An American Prophet's Record:The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott Faulring, Significant Mormon Diaries Series No. 1, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1989), 329.
  8. Joseph Smith, An American Prophet's Record:The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott Faulring, Significant Mormon Diaries Series No. 1, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1989), 334.
  9. History of the Church, 5:295. Volume 5 link
  10. From "Office Journals of Brigham Young--Excerpts, 1853-62," New Mormon Studies CD-ROM (Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates).
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 Cited in Hope A. Hilton, "Wild Bill" Hickman and the Mormon Frontier (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1988)
  12. Compare with Heber C. Kimball, (23 August 1857) Journal of Discourses 5:171.
  13. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 31-34, page 551 (hardback); page 549 (paperback).
  14. Bill Neal and Morris Bakken, Getting Away with Murder on the Texas Frontier: Notorious Killings & Celebrated Trials (Texas Tech University Press, 2006), 14–15.
  15. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 38, page 551 (hardback); page 549 (paperback)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), {{{pages}}}.
  17. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 41-43, page 552 (hardback); page 550 (paperback).
  18. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 217.
  19. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 217.
  20. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 44-45, page 552 (hardback); page 550 (paperback).
  21. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 179.
  22. Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, the Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1979), 195. ISBN 025200762X.
  23. Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, the Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1979), 200. ISBN 025200762X.
  24. Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 392.
  25. William Clayton and George D. Smith (editor), An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1995), xxx (entry dated [citation needed]).
  26. Note that Bushman ignores the claim about a private letter to Dunham: Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 548.
  27. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), {{{pages}}}.
  28. Allen D. Roberts, "'The Truth is the Most Important Thing': The New Mormon History According to Mark Hofmann," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 no. 4 (Winter 1987), 92. See also second edition of Jessee's Personal Writings where he lists the five forged documents that have been removed (p. xix).
  29. "D. Michael Quinn's Responses To Questions About Use of Sources in the 1994 Publication of Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power," (9 February 1995). off-site
  30. Anonymous, "The Mark Hofmann Case: A Bibliographical Guide," Brigham Young University Studies 29 no. 1 (Winter 1989), 104–124. off-site
  31. Dean C. Jessee, "review of The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power," Journal of Mormon History 22:2 (Fall 1996): {{{start}}}.
  32. "In a work where source notes are taken as seriously as they are in this book, it is unfortunate that they were not included in appendices 6 (Biographical Sketches) and 7 (Selected Chronology). The careful student needs to be able to weigh the evidence for the extensive and sometimes sensational information that is given here." - Jessee, review of Mormon Hierarchy, 167–168.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 History of the Church. Volume 6 link
  34. Elder Edmund C. Briggs, "A Visit to Nauvoo in 1856," Journal of History [Reorganized] 9 (October 1916): 453-54; cited by Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, the Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1979), 27 n. 65. ISBN 025200762X.
  35. Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, the Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1979), 17. ISBN 025200762X. Sources cited are: (a) History of the Church, 6:549. Volume 6 link (b) "Journal of Wandle Mace," 144 (c) Editor, "Editorial," Times and Seasons 5 (15 July 1844), 585. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  36. Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), 603-604.
  37. Jessee, Personal Writings, 611.
  38. Jessee, Personal Writings, 612.
  39. Diary of Hosea Stout (14 September 1845); available in Juanita Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844-1861 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1964).
  40. Stout diary, 14 Sept 1845.
  41. Stout diary, 14 Sept 1845.
  42. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 180, quoting Hosea Stout diary, 14 Sept. 1845, Brooks, On The Mormon Frontier 1:63.
  43. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 62-65, page 552 (hardback); page 550 (paperback).
  44. Kenneth W. Godfrey, “Causes of Mormon Non-Mormon Conflict in Hancock County, Illinois, 1839–1846” (PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1967), [citation needed].
  45. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 84-87, page 553 (hardback); page 551 (paperback).
  46. Milton V. Backman, Jr., The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830–1838 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1983), 74–75. ISBN 0877479739 GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  47. Carvalho, chapter 22. off-site
  48. Carvalho, chapter 22. off-site
  49. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 88, page 554 (hardback); page 552 (paperback).
  50. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 89, page 554 (hardback); page 552 (paperback).
  51. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 94, page 554 (hardback); page 552 (paperback).
  52. The historical accuracy of Nelson Winch Green’s Fifteen Years among the Mormons (1858), purporting to be the experiences of Mary Ettie V. (Coray) Smith, has been investigated from a variety of sources. Many parts of the story dealing directly with Mary Ettie’s family have been confirmed, though names, dates, and other important facts have been purposely misstated. The more sensational claims cannot be verified. They are most likely an artful combination of real events that happened to other people, rumors, and fiction, concocted by Mary Ettie in order to control her own destiny." - John W. McCoy, PhD, "True Grit and Tall Tales: How Mary Ettie Cory (1827–1867) Got Her Man," 2006, 25 pages. off-site
  53. Mrs. T.B.H. [Fanny] Stenhouse, "Tell It All": The Story of a Life's Experience in Mormonism (Hartford, Conn.: A.D. Worthington & Company, 1875 [1874]), 618, the footnote confirms the identity of the author referred to as Ettie V. Smith..
  54. Stenhouse, "Tell It All", x.
  55. Stenhouse, "Tell It All", xi-xii.
  56. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah, 1540-1886, 505.
  57. One reference (Sunstone 6:4/41 [Jul 81]) places the prophecy in Brighton, Utah, 1857—this cannot be same reference as Bancroft's, since his event refers to events ten years before the approach of Johnson's army in 1857. Please contact FairMormon if you have further information.
  58. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 5:219.
  59. For this imagery, see Edwin Brown Firmage and Richard Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts : a Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 7. ISBN 0252069803.
  60. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 5:266.
  61. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 2:107.(emphasis added)