Question: Did Brigham say "We shall pull the wool over the eyes of the American people"?

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Question: Did Brigham say "We shall pull the wool over the eyes of the American people"?

As far as we can determine, this quotation is a complete fabrication

It is rumored that Brigham Young made the following statement:

We shall pull the wool over the eyes of the American people and make them swallow Mormonism, polygamy and all."

Critics say this shows the fundamental dishonesty of LDS leaders. [1]

As far as we can determine, this quotation is a complete fabrication. We cannot locate it in any LDS source, and those non-LDS sources who provide a reference are in error.

If any reader has further information, please contact us. At present, however, the best assumption seems to be that the quote is a fabrication.

FairMormon has been unable to find a legitimate source for this purported quotation from Brigham Young. It was quoted at the Reed Smoot hearing report, but the source is only given as E.A. Folk, editor of the Baptist and Reflector, a Nashville, Tennessee paper published by the Tennessee Baptist association.[2]

A citation generally given for Brigham Young's remarks is from the Church's English publication: "The Manifesto," Millennial Star 52 (24 Nov. 1890): 744.

However, an examination of this reference shows no sign of the quote in question—see PDF scan of the original here.

Later authors have continued to repeat the "quotation" from Brigham

Later authors have continued to repeat the "quotation" from Brigham, and provide the citation to the E.A. Folk's The Story of Mormonism, or the Millenial Star in their footnotes. However, these authors do not seem to have verified the original. They are likely simply repeating the claim from previous authors without checking:

Since the Smoot Committee hearings "quotation" of Brigham came from an apostate Mormon, it's possible that this witness provided false testimony (either unwittingly or intentionally)

Since the Smoot Committee hearings "quotation" of Brigham came from an apostate Mormon, it's possible that this witness provided false testimony (either unwittingly or intentionally). The prestige of a U.S. Congressional document has led subsequent writers to trust this witnesses' account without verifying the source for themselves.


Notes

  1. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 281 ( Index of claims ). (Source Proceedings Before The Committee...); Ambrose B. Carlton, The Wonderlands of the Wild West, with Sketches of the Mormons (N.p.: n.p., 1891), 321.; Dan Erickson, "As a Thief in the Night": The Mormon Quest for Millennial Deliverance (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1998), chapter 8, footnote 118.; E.A. Folk (editor of the Baptist and Reflector), Story of Mormonism citing discourse of 12 July 1875 in Salt Lake Tabernacle.; Brigham Young, quoted in Proceedings Before The Committee On Privileges And Elections Of The United States Senate In The Matter Of The Protests Against The Right Of Hon. Reed Smoot, A Senator From Utah, To Hold His Seat, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906), 1:15; citing as source E.A. Folk as above.
  2. See "Baptist and Reflector," rootsweb.com (accessed 15 December 2007). The Smoot Hearing report cites this author with his editorial title in volume 1, page 15.


Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims