D&C/CHURCH HISTORY - LESSON 51
LATTER-DAY PROPHETS - III
- Introductory Comments.
- The Presidents.
- Joseph F. Smith.
- The first of the Church presidents to be born to Mormon parents.
- Born November 13, 1838 at Far West Missouri.
- The son of Hyrum and Mary Fielding Smith.
- Hyrum had married Mary Fielding after the death of his first wife,
- At the time Joseph was born, Mary had been caring for Hyrum's five
children from Jerusha. Mary had been quite sick. Hyrum was in prison with
his brother Joseph.
- He was named after Mary's brother, Joseph Fielding.
- Young Joseph F lost his father to assassins at Carthage.
- At the age of 8, Joseph drove an ox team over 200 miles from Nauvoo
to Winter Quarters. He then drove his own team of oxen to Salt Lake City.
- Being a tender boy, he would throw his arms about the necks of his
animals and cry when they lowed from strain, fatigue, and thirst.
- At the age of 10, in the Salt Lake valley, he was placed in charge
of the family herd. He also did plowing, canyon work, farming, and harvesting.
- At age 14, his mother died.
- At the age of 15, he was ordained an elder and served a three year
mission in Hawaii.
- While there he overcame fatigue and severe illness.
- He presided over several branches of the Church.
- Upon his return from Hawaii, he was ordained a Seventy and a year later
a High Priest and a stake high councilor.
- He also joined the Nauvoo Legion and was part of the expedition sent
to intercept Johnston's army. He was almost constantly in the saddle patrolling
the region between Echo Canyon and Fort Bridger.
- He married at age 21 and a year later he was called to serve his second
mission, this time in Great Britain. While there, he presided over an number
- Five months after his return from the British Isles, he left on a third
mission, once again to Hawaii and served as an assistant to two of the
- While back in Hawaii, he selected the site for a Church plantation
on Oahu, now the location of the Hawaii Temple, BYU-Hawaii, and the Polynesian
- 1865: Began work as a clerk in the Church Historian's office. Also,
elected to the Territorial House of Representatives.
- 1866: Elected to the Salt Lake City Council.
- 1866: At the ripe old age of 27, Brigham Young ordained Joseph F. an
- Joseph was called practice plural marriage and over a period of years
married five wives. He became the father of forty-three children.
- 1874: Presided over both the European and British missions.
- 1875: Called as stake president over the Saints in Davis County, Utah.
- 1877: Sent to Great Britain to preside over the European Mission.
- Returned to Salt Lake to help with the settlement of Brigham Young's
- 1880: At the age of 41, he was set apart as second counselor to John
Taylor serving along with George Q. Cannon. Along with President Cannon,
they continued to serve as counselors in the First Presidency to both Wilford
Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow.
- 1885: Joseph went into hiding after a warrant was issued for the arrest
of members of the First Presidency. He returned to Hawaii under the assumed
name of J.F. Speight.
- 1887: He returned to Utah as President Taylor lay dying.
- 1888-89: Assigned as the chief lobbyist to Congress for the Church
in Washington, D.C.
- 1890: President Woodruff issued the Manifesto.
- President Harrison issued a pardon and Joseph was finally able to resume
a normal life in society.
- After the Manifesto, Joseph continued to care for each of his wives
and to have children by them.
- 1891: As Utah moved toward statehood, the People's party was disbanded.
At that time, the vast majority of members leaned towards the Democratic
- Joseph was asked to join the Republican party. The Republicans had
taken the leading part in the antipolygamy campaign. In 1892 he published
a pamphlet, Another Plain Talk: Reasons Why the People of Utah Should
- 1901: October 10 - President Snow died. October 17 - At the regular
meeting of the Twelve in the temple, the First Presidency was reorganized
with Joseph F. Smith as President. He was age 62.
- President Smith was determined to improve public opinion of the Church
and its members during his administration. This was difficult because of
grueling interrogation before the U.S. Senate during the Smoot hearings,
local editorial attacks from the Salt Lake Tribune, and negative articles
in some of the nation's leading magazines.
- Important results of President Smith's administration.
- Conservative fiscal policy that resulted in the Church getting out
- Purchase of significant historical sites: Joseph Smith's birthplace
in Vermont, the Smith farm in New York, important sites in Missouri, and
the Carthage Jail.
- The following projects were completed: the Church Administration Building,
the LDS Hospital, a Church visitors bureau, and the Hotel Utah in Salt
- He expanded the missionary and educational systems of the Church.
- The first Home Evening program was established.
- He taught extensively on Church doctrines and the principles of priesthood
- His most significant doctrinal contribution was his "Vision of
the Redemption of the Dead," which he received on October 3, 1918,
just six weeks prior to his death on November 19. Added to the Doctrine
and Covenants in 1981 as Section 138.
- Charles W. Nibley said of President Smith: "As a preacher of
righteousness, who could compare with him? He was the greatest that I ever
heard-strong, powerful, clear, appealing. It was marvelous how the words
of living light and fire flowed from him. He was a born preacher, and yet
he did not set himself up to be such. He never thought highly of his own
good qualities. Rather, he was simple, plain and unaffected to the last
degree; and yet, there was dignity with it all which enabled anyone and
everyone to say: 'He is a man among men!'" (Gospel Doctrine, p.522)
- President Smith taught: "There are at least three dangers that
threaten the Church within, and the authorities need to awaken to the fact
that the people should be warned unceasingly against them. As I see these,
they are flattery of prominent men in the world, false educational ideas,
and sexual impurity. But the third subject mentioned-personal purity, is
perhaps of greater importance than either of the other two. We believe
in one standard of morality for men and women. If purity of life is neglected,
all other dangers set in upon us like the rivers of waters when the flood
gates are opened." (Gospel Doctrine, p.313)
- President Smith taught about the importance of home: "There
is no substitute for the home. Its foundation is as ancient as the world,
and its mission has been ordained of God from the earliest times.... The
home then is more than a habitation, it is an institution which stands
for stability and love in individuals as well as in nations."
(Gospel Doctrine, p300)
- Heber J. Grant.
- November 22, 1856: Born in Salt Lake City to Jedediah M. Grant and
- His father served as a counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency
and also as mayor of Salt Lake City.
- His father died from "lung disease" nine days after his birth.
- His mother, Rachel, became the greatest influence in his life. She
was one of Jedediah's plural wives.
- Because of diminished means after Jedediah's death, Rachel was forced
to leave the large Grant home on Main Street to a "widow's cabin"
several blocks away.
- Declining the offer of Church aid, Rachel supported the family by sewing
and taking in boarders. Many times, young Heber sat on the floor and pumped
the sewing machine treadle to relieve his tired mother.
- At the age of 15, Heber was ordained to the office of Seventy.
- At the age of 19, Heber became a counselor in the Salt Lake 13th Ward
Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association when it was first organized.
- The weekly sessions gave Heber a chance for study, self-improvement,
and speech making.
- As a young man, he became an active member of the Wasatch Literary
Association. This group took part in lectures, debates, readings, musical
renditions, and small scale theatrical productions. These experiences were
a significant part of his cultural and intellectual training.
- Business activity became an important part of Heber's life.
- He sold insurance.
- Peddled books.
- Found retailers for a Chicago grocery house.
- Performed tasks for the Deseret National Bank.
- Taught penmanship.
- Appointed assistant cashier of the Church owned Zion's Savings and
- In his early 20s, he made ten times the amount of the typical wage
earner in Utah at that time.
- He opened an insurance agency.
- With a partner, he purchased the Ogden Vinegar Works.
- 1880: At the age of 24, Heber was called as President of the Tooele
- Personal difficulties:
- After moving to Tooele, his youthful sweetheart and wife, Lucy Stringham,
developed a lingering stomach illness, that claimed her life 12 years later.
- His Salt Lake City businesses began to suffer from lack of attention.
- The Ogden vinegar factory burned and he was underinsured.
- Heber later admitted that during the years he felt so "blue"
he did not know what to "do or where to turn".
- Heber suffered physically himself. The doctor pronounced a diagnosis
of "nervous convulsions" and warned him to slow his pace.
- 1882: President Taylor called 26 year old Heber J. Grant to the Quorum
of the Twelve.
- Heber felt unprepared for this high and important calling.
- He was also concerned about his relish for commerce and whether it
properly mixed with religion.
- Said Heber: "I have felt my own lack of ability. In fact when
I was called as one of the apostles I arose to my feet to say it was beyond
anything I was worthy of, and as I was rising the thought came to me, 'You
know as you know that you live that John Taylor is a prophet of God, and
to decline this office when he had received a revelation is equivalent
to repudiating the prophet.' I said, 'I will accept the office and do my
best.' I remember that it was with difficulty that I took my seat without
fainting." ( Gospel Standards, p.194)
- He continued: "There are two spirits striving with us always,
one telling us to continue our labor for good, and one telling us that
with the faults and failings of our nature we are unworthy. I can truthfully
say that from October, 1882, until February, 1883, that spirit followed
me day and night, telling me that I was unworthy to be an apostle of the
Church, and that I ought to resign. When I would testify of my knowledge
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Redeemer of mankind,
it seemed as though a voice would say to me: 'You lie! You lie! You have
never seen Him'." (Gospel Standards, p.194)
- President Grant had an experience that changed his feelings while traveling
on the Navajo reservation. He had been traveling with Lot Smith and some
others. He said to Lot: "I want to be all alone. Go ahead and follow
the crowd." While traveling alone he said, "I seemed to
see, and I seemed to hear, what to me is one of the most real things in
all my life. I seemed to hear the words that were spoken." He
then went on to describe a council that took place regarding the filling
of the vacancies in the Twelve. Among those present were the Savior, Joseph
Smith, and his father Jedediah M. Grant. Said Heber, "It was given
to me that the Prophet Joseph Smith and my father mentioned me and requested
that I be called to that position. I sat there and wept for joy. It was
given to me that I had done nothing to entitle me to that exalted position,
except that I had lived a clean, sweet life. It was given to me that because
of my father's having practically sacrificed his life in what was known
as the great reformation, so to speak, of the people in early days, having
been practically a martyr, that the Prophet Joseph and my father desired
me to have that position, and it was because of their faithful labors that
I was called, and not because of anything I had done of myself or any great
thing that I had accomplished. It was also given to me that that was all
these men, the Prophet and my father, could do for me. From that day it
depended upon me and upon me alone as to whether I made a success of my
life or a failure." (Gospel Standards, p.195)
- As a young apostle, Heber concluded that wealth and money making were
honorable when dedicated to the common good. His gifts to friends and worthy
purposes often took a third of his income. He founded home institutions
to benefit the community including two insurance companies, a bank, a newspaper,
the Salt Lake Theater, and Utah Sugar Company, and several other enterprises.
- During the Panic of 1893, Heber lost his fortune and never fully recovered
- President Grant was the last of the Church presidents to enter into
plural marriage. He married two other wives in addition to Lucy Stringham.
- As a Church leader, he was often away from his family whom he dearly
loved. He tried to make up for his absence by writing long and sensitive
letters to his family including his children and grandchildren. More than
50,000 letters are preserved in Church archives.
- Heber opened the Japanese Mission in 1901 and in 1903 went to Europe
to preside over the mission there.
- Upon his return to the states in 1905, he supervised Church education,
the Genealogical Society, and the Improvement Era.
- He became actively involved in community working for the cause of prohibition
and directing World War I Liberty Bond drives.
- In 1918, as Joseph F. Smith lay on his death bed he spoke to Heber,
"The Lord bless you, my boy, the Lord bless you. You have got a
great responsibility. Always remember that this is the Lord's work and
not man's. The Lord is greater than any man. He knows whom he wants to
lead his Church and never makes any mistake. The Lord bless you"
(CR, Apr. 1941)
- Heber J. Grant served as president for 26 1/2 years, the second longest
in Church history.
- He repeatedly spoke on the need for charity, duty, honor, service,
- He preached often about living the Word of Wisdom.
- President grant accepted many invitations to speak to non-Mormon groups
throughout the United States in the hope of improving the image of the
- The production of pro-LDS movies such as Union Pacific and Brigham
Young were influenced by President Grant.
- He promoted national tours by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
- He supported the political activity of Apostle and Senator Reed Smoot.
His growing national influence brought favorable comment to Utah and the
- President Grant's business experience helped keep the Church financially
stable through the depression of the 1930s.
- He advised a number of local businesses - Mormon and non-Mormon - and
helped them to pull through the difficult times of the depression.
- The Church Security Program (later renamed the Church Welfare Program)
was established under his administration. To help get it started, he gave
the program his large dry farm in western Utah.
- He dedicated three new temples: Laie, Hawaii (1919), Cardston, Canada
(1923), and Mesa, Arizona (1927).
- The seminary and institute program was established.
- There was increased emphasis on Sacrament meeting attendance, temple
activity, obedience to the Word of Wisdom, family-history research, and
monthly visits by the priesthood to Church members in their homes.
- The Assistants to the Twelve were created to help deal with the expansion
of the Church.
- Seeking to personalize his presidency, he distributed thousands of
homiletic books, personally autographing each and sometimes marking passages
- In 1940, while traveling in southern California, he suffered a series
of strokes that slowed him considerably. He delegated active administration
of the Church to his first counselor, J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
- President Grant died on May 14, 1945.