Question: Was Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War invalid because slaves did not rise up against their masters in the Civil War?

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Question: Was Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War invalid because slaves did not rise up against their masters in the Civil War?

Of the 2,653,000 soldiers enlisted on the side of the Union, 186,397 were colored, and many of them saw active service in the field against their former masters

In the part taken by negroes in the war between the states, many see the fulfillment of the prediction of the revelation that "slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war;" for of the 2,653,000 soldiers enlisted on the side of the Union, 186,397 were colored, and many of them saw active service in the field against their former masters.[1]:1:302-303[2] However, the prophecy does not tie slave rebellions directly to the Civil War. After discussing the call on other nations for assistance, the prophecy reads:

4 And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.(D&C 87:4)

The phrase "it came to pass," and related forms generally indicates a transition in subject or time. The prophecy is clear that the revolt of slaves will come "after many days," which in scriptural language (remember Jesus' second coming was "near," and "even at the door") generally suggests a fairly long period of time.

The prophecy also could refer to past race riots in the U.S. and other countries, uprisings in African nations against their governments, the liberation of peoples under dictatorships throughout the world, or some future liberation of those forced to fight against their will for totalitarian regimes.

Notes

  1. Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965). GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  2. "American Civil War: Slavery during the war," wikipedia.org (accessed 15 Jan 2009) off-site