The Church Historian's Press

3 August 1871

Weber County Relief Societies; Ogden Tabernacle, Ogden, Utah Territory

A long, rectangular building with triangle roof, a single chimney, and three arched, front-facing windows.

Original Ogden Stake Tabernacle. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society.

On Thursday last, at two p.m., a large audience, composed principally of ladies, assembled in the Ogden Tabernacle to hear an address from Miss E. R. Snow. A few gentlemen were present by invitation.

After singing and prayer, Prest. F. [Franklin] D. Richards introduced the speaker.


My Sisters: I assure you I feel a little tremulous in standing before so many who are expecting to hear from me. I am not a lecturer by profession. I have nothing written or prepared to say to you. I realize that I am standing in a very different position from lady lecturers in the world, some with whom I have become acquainted, who neither believe in God nor in his revelations. We believe in a God who reveals himself; who inspires his servants, and sometimes his handmaidens, to speak the things of God for the benefit of his children.

It is a fact that we are living on the earth, and that we are accountable beings. And why are we here? The Lord has not called his servants alone to do the work of the last days. The sisters, also, have a great work to do. The work we are required to perform is to labor for the salvation of the children of men. We are mortal beings, subject to the weaknesses of the flesh. Were it not for the affinity which exists between our bodies and the earth, our spirits would involuntarily depart. I heard Prest. [Brigham] Young say that it was decreed from the beginning that mortal man should have a strong desire to live on the earth; and were it not for this natural desire, the Lord could not keep enough of us on the earth to accomplish his purposes.

We read in this Bible, in which we believe, that in the beginning God made man male and female, and addressed them as one. There was no discordance nor unfitness between them. But through woman’s partaking of the forbidden fruit, Adam was compelled also to partake that he might fulfil the work he had to do. Since the fall it has been different. It was decreed that woman’s “desire should be to her husband and he should rule over her.” Some might think this a very repulsive condition for woman—to be ruled over by man. But this in my mind does not pre-suppose oppression. I have seen men rule over families in such a way that those families did not feel they were ruled, because that government was in wisdom and in love, and the obedience rendered was yielded simultaneously and cheerfully. I think that the difficulties which occur in families come through a lack of wisdom on the one part and of obedience on the other. We stand in a different position from the ladies of the world; we have made covenant with God, we understand His order, and know that that order requires submission on the part of the woman. Is this curse placed on woman never to be removed and she stand in her primeval condition? The Lord has placed the means in our hands, in the gospel, whereby we can regain our lost position. But how? Can it be done by rising as women are doing in the world to clamor for our rights? No. It was through disobedience that woman came into her present position, and it is only by obedience, honoring God in all the institutions he has revealed to us that we can come out from under that curse, regain the position originally occupied by Eve and attain to a fulness of exaltation in the presence of God.

Although we are frail mortal beings, subject to the evils which come through the degeneracy of man, we are endowed with all the powers and abilities whereby we can come to the full measure of the stature of Queens and Godesses in eternity. If we let these faculties lie dormant shall we ever become prepared for the presence of holy beings? It is only the development of the faculties we already possess that will bring us into the full perfection of womanhood, both for time and for eternity. It is only by carrying out those purposes and principles which God has revealed that we can became perfect. Do we realize this?

Let us ask ourselves why we have left the homes of our fathers, the lands of our birth to come here together, to these valleys of the mountains? Was it for the pride of the world? Was it for earthly riches? Or was it to perfect ourselves in the religion of Jesus Christ? And since we came here have we carried out the purpose for which we gathered here? There may be a few exceptions, but I think the majority came here to obey the commands of God and to study and carry out the principles which he reveals. Are we doing this? Or are we taking hold of heaven with one hand and fraternizing with the world with the other? Are we acting from the purest motives that can move the human heart? Is our religion the first thing with us? Does it engross our thoughts as when we first obeyed the gospel? If not, we are retrograding in that which is of far more importance to us than anything else.

It is admitted that woman gives the features, the tone to society, and I would ask the mothers in Israel, whether the welfare of Zion is uppermost in their minds in the cultivation of their children, who are to bear off the kingdom and be the future judges or mothers in Israel? How is it with the daughters? Are they brought up so as to become housewives, able to manage the affairs of the household, and with principles implanted in their hearts to make them noble and pure and intelligent? Or is their time spent in vanity and the follies of the world? This is a subject of the greatest importance; for the boys and girls of the present are an index to the society of the future. If you can raise up your daughters to reflection, to purity, to a love for truth, with consciences moulded after the pattern of the Gospel, that they may grow up to solid, noble beautiful womanhood, then you are doing what is required of you. We would not have them sorrowful, but on the contrary filled with joy and happiness: but the frivolous customs and habits of the present times will lead many to sorrow. Do you know, mothers, what your boys are doing? Do they use tobacco? Do they tipple? You should know what they are doing, and what are their habits. In many instances respect enough is not paid to the growing intelligence of the young child. The mother’s mind is engrossed with various duties, and before she knows it, habits are formed which, when discovered, she is not able to correct. Girls get into the habit of reading trashy novels till they cannot look upon the things of real life as they exist, but their heads are filled folly and nonsense. I sometimes think it would be almost as well for them that they had never been born. I know we are surrounded with adverse circumstances, and it is difficult to keep our children in the path which is right for them to pursue. The laws of nature should be observed. Night is the time for sleep. It is admitted that one hour’s sleep before midnight, is worth two after. Young people, and old ones too, should have a proper amount of sleep, but the time for sleep is not properly observed.

We want to learn to bring ourselves into subjection to what is right. While we cannot govern our feelings, we cannot properly exercise our judgement. We have to lay our feelings on the altar, many times, as a sacrifice to the law of God. To govern our feelings, we must learn to govern our tongues. When we are actuated by anger, and our hearts are filled with bitterness, we are made subject to evil spirits. In the New Testament we learn that the “fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, longsuffering” &c. When we give way to our passions, and allow evil spirits to control our tongues, we strengthen the powers of evil.

We need not be discouraged, my sisters. If we are trying to cultivate the spirit, to make home heaven, if we live our religion and feel its sweet influence day by day we are happy and have a right to be. There is a principle that the world are very anxious about, you can scarcely meet a person from the world but wants to know something about it, viz., plurality of wives. Well, we call this a trial, do we?

It is a trial, an opportunity to prove whether we are willing to obey the will of God or live for ourselves. I do not believe there was ever a principle revealed that has such a bearing on the redemption of mankind as the principle of plurality of wives. When I embraced it in Nauvoo I did not understand it as I do now. How far are we willing to carry out this principle which is calculated to redeem womankind from the position in which they are placed? Had it not been for the principle of plurality of wives, society in Utah would probably have not been very much better than it is in the world: and as the Kingdom of God extends and this principle extends with it, as it must and will, so far will redemption from degradation come to womankind. “Well,” some sister will say, “I am not in degradation, there is no need for me to enter into plurality.” But have you no regard for the position of others? Those who have entered into plurality are occupying the noble position of saviors on Mount Zion, and I admire those noble women who encourage their husbands to obey this law, for they will be honored as those who stepped forward as volunteers to labor in the cause of woman’s redemption. Plurality is a pure principle. But nothing is at first carried out to perfection. It is like revolutionizing a government. When a people resolve that they can no longer submit to their grievances, they make great sacrifices to establish a better system of things for the benefit of their posterity. This is what we are doing: we are introducing something for the benefit of generations to come.

What a blessing it is that we are under the direction of the Priesthood of God, that we can attend to the ordinances of life for the living and the dead, and attain to the gift of eternal lives. Do you understand this, sisters? It means the gift of multiplying in eternity: the gift of eternal increase, the power to bring forth from the grave our children who are dead. Can anyone attain to this great gift who opposes any of the principles God has revealed? I feel that I dare not oppose anything that comes from Him. Still if I were to give way to my feelings, when I am tempted, I might go on and give way till I would fight against God and apostatize. I never want to know how an apostate feels, but it is easy enough to apostatize. Just give way to anger, and begin to speak against the things of God, and cherish a fault-finding spirit, and it will grieve the Spirit of God from our hearts and we shall go into darkness. We must watch ourselves. I believe in living by prayer, but I think we need to watch as much as pray. We need to think deeply, to study the principles of the gospel, and to hold ourselves in subjection that we may live by them. There is a spirit of the world that is gaining with many and I am sorry to see it. But God is very indulgent, He never forces the human mind; He does not compel us to obey Him, but puts both paths before us and leaves us to act for ourselves.

The Prophet Joseph [Smith] said, the object of the Female Relief Society was, not only to relieve want but to save souls. It is our privilege to regulate society; not by taking the places of our brethren, but by watching over the morals of society and seeking to save souls. We have social duties to perform, and I believe in the sisters being alive to them.

In performing our social and domestic duties we are doing our part just as much as the brethren when they go out to preach the gospel. I think that if the Female Relief Societies had acted up to their duties, there would have been no need for President Young to organize retrenchment societies, for that would come within the purview of their calling. Many of the sisters do not realize that the Female Relief Societies are an organization of the Priesthood, but treat the matter as of little consequence. They must learn better, and understand that their calling is a high and holy and honorable one.

I love to look upon my sisters when their faces indicate that they posses the spirit of the Lord. Why should we care about the fashions of the world? We should realize that God has called us out of the world, and that it is a degradation for us to stoop to assimilate with them, and to adopt the habits and customs they are seeking to introduce among us to make us like themselves.

I do not want to be considered as making a stump speech, but I want to say a little about voting. Every one of you that has a right to vote ought to be out next Monday, and exercise the right of the franchise. We must be on the alert, also, against the devices of the enemy. At our last election there was one poor old blind sister who was led to the poll by a friend, and a ticket was slipped into her hand by one of the opposite party, which she would have deposited in the ballot box, and unknowingly have voted the opposition ticket, if the cheat had not been discovered by her friend. We want to be shrewd enough to evade every imposition. It would hurt none of us to inform our minds on the law so that we might fully understand our rights and privileges.

My Sisters, I bless you all, and I want you to understand that President Young has an interest in these societies, as well as in everything else that tends to purify and build up Zion.


[. . .]

She bore testimony to the instructions of Miss Snow whom she did not like to hear called a “lecturess;” to her she was a teacher of righteousness of whom she was proud. [. . .]

MISS SNOW again arose and make a few pointed remarks on the subject of the sacrament, which should be taken with the right hand, ungloved, and invited the brethren present to speak as she liked to see the strongest party bring up the rear.

Elder H. [Horace] S. Eldredge and President F. D. Richards each made a short speech on the importance of trying to make home a heaven, and the honor and blessings to be given to woman in their obedience to the revelations of God commanding his servants to practice the principle of Celestial Marriage.

Mrs. H. [Harriet C.] Brown expressed the gratitude of the ladies of the Society for Miss Snow’s visit and counsels, and a vote of thanks was given by the meeting for the address by Miss Snow, read on the celebration of the 24th in Ogden.

[. . .] [p. 2]

Source Note

Miss E. R. Snow’s Address to the Female Relief Societies of Weber County,” Ogden Junction 11, no. 63 (5 Aug. 1871): 2.

See also Ogden 2nd Ward, Mount Ogden Stake, Relief Society Minutes and Records (1867–1968), vol. 1 (1867–1872), pp. 67–68, CHL (LR 6392 14); and “Miss E. R. Snow’s Address to the Female Relief Societies of Weber County,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 33, no. 37 (12 Sept. 1871): 577–580.

Cite this page

3 August 1871, Weber County Relief Societies; Ogden Tabernacle, Ogden, Utah Territory, The Discourses of Eliza R. Snow, accessed July 18, 2024