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January 1852

Events in George Q. Cannon’s journal for 1852

5 January

Jonathan Napela was baptized a member of the church

27 January

Began translating the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian

18 March

Felt “it a great privilege to be permitted to” translate the Book of Mormon

1 April

Conference day—“a day and time that will be long remembered by me”

5 April ff.

Taught the principle of tithing to unite his auditors, and they were “melted down”

1 May

A day of fasting and prayer; spiritual gifts exhibited

23 May

With “unbounded adoration” of the Lord, reflected on the joy of bearing a message of “the renewal of the covenant and the tidings of salvation to fallen man”

30 May

In answer to prayer, “had a beautiful day [outside for a church service] although it rained on all sides of us”

25 June

Told antagonistic reverend Harvey Hitchcock that “this was the work of the Almighty and . . . that all that he would do against it would only tend to accelerate its progress”

18 July ff.

Letters and news from home

23 July

With other elders, went up a canyon to pray “according to the order”

10 August ff.

Dedicated two meeting houses at Kula, a district of Maui

13 August

Blessed by the brethren “in regard to the translation of the Book of Mormon”

6 September

Cannon unjustly accused of partiality to some of the brethren; works it out

6 October

“Bro. Woodbury spoke in tongues and Bro. Hammond interpreted.” Part of Woodbury’s prophecy was that “that temples should be built in these lands.”

10 October

Challenged by a Catholic priest “in regard to which was the oldest church &c”

8 November

Prayer of gratitude and desire to be granted a celestial glory

13 November

Response to news about the doctrine of plural marriage being published

23 November

Prayer about missionary work

7 December

“Time never seemed so precious to me as it does at present.”

11 December

Answers to prayers to catch a horse and not be drenched by rain

15 December

Prayer answered to save the life of a mother and her baby

1 January 1852 • Thursday

<The> New Year opens some little different in many respects to the past. It was an experiment at that time to prea be tried in regard to preaching the gospel among this people, but still one in which I was we had every reason to believe <we> would be sustained in attempting. The result has answered my expectations. When I take a retrospective view of the past I can see the overruling finger of providence has [been] exerted in behalf of the work upon these lands and every thing has been ordered for good. The Lord’s ways are not as man’s ways, very different is his mode of operations to that imagined or chalked out by puny man for him to work in. The experience of the past year gives every encouragement for the future. I have proved that I will have strength according to my day if I only live right.1

Returned from Waihee and found Bro. Birch very bad; we laid hands on him and he seemed to improve. We baptized two women this afternoon. Bro. H. and I sat up with him all night; he seemed a good deal improved.2

2 January 1852 • Friday

Bro. B. is better.

3 January 1852 • Saturday

Started for Wailuku; in afternoon held meeting.

4 January 1852 • Sunday

Bro. Burnham came over to-day in company with Bro. Hammond having come down from Makawao yesterday. Preached to a large congregation and after meeting baptised eight. Preached and confirmed in afternoon. Returned to Waiehu in company with the brethren.

5 January 1852 • Monday

Napela came over to be baptised this morning. I baptised him and three more and confirmed them at the water’s edge.3

6 January 1852 • Tuesday

Quite unwell with very sore throat. About 9 o’clock this evening there was a total eclipse of the moon it was of more than an hours’ duration.

7 January 1852 • Wednesday

Went to Wailuku and held Bible Class in the afternoon. After the meeting was over Bros. H. and [H. K.] Kaleohano and I started off towards the beach to a place called the Maalaia [Ma‘alaea];—Bro. K. had preached the first principles to them and there were several anxious to be baptised. We arrived there about 9 o’clock. I spoke some to them upon the necessity of coming in aright with a determination to forsake all their sins.

8 January 1852 • Thursday

This morning the people assembled together and I spoke to them upon the doctrines of the gospel; baptised 18 in the sea; and afterwards held meeting and confirmed them and organized the branch, ordaining one teacher and one deacon. In evening started back to Wailuku, Bro. H. going on to Waiehu.

9 January 1852 • Friday

Variously engaged.

10 January 1852 • Saturday

Bible class this afternoon. I had adopted this plan thinking it the speediest way of getting them acquainted with principle of which the majority were very ignorant.—After meeting I rode down to a retired place in company with Bro. J. H. Napela and [W. H.] Uaua who wanted to be baptised. I attended to it and then we rode up to Waiehu to Mr. Rice’s; Bro. Winchester having rode to day from Makawao left his mule for me to ride over as Mr. R. & Bro. W. wished me to spend the night with them. We eat supper & then attended to the confirmation of Bro. Uaua; we enjoyed a good portion of the Spirit.

11 January 1852 • Sunday

We went over to meeting at Wailuku. I had a good flow of the spirit and felt like speaking strong to them, and setting the principles of truth before them. In afternoon confirmed those baptised [blank] of them; and attended to the Lord’s Supper and ordained Bros. Napela and Uaua teachers, and gave considerable instruction on priesthood &c. After meeting I went down in company with Bros. Napela and Uaua to baptise several that wished to be baptised; on the way down met with a Catholic priest a Frenchman; he wanted to know where my authority was &c., our conversation lasted about an hour; he was much excited I kept very cool and had the advantage of him in this respect as well as others. He betrayed considerable ignorance of the scriptures in several things instances. The natives several of them thought that his arguments were very weak.—Baptised eleven and confirmed them. In the evening upon the return of Bro. N. and I to his house we met Mr. [Rev. Daniel] Conde at the door, I passed in and he stopped N. to talk with him; they talked about half an hour I sat very patiently in the house, but still I could not help hearing unless I had stopped my ears, a great deal of their conversation; he went on as usual in a strain of invective, lying and speaking evil of the truth. I sat and heard until it seemed to me that forbearance ceased to be a virtue. I went out and walked up to where they were standing; his first salutation <to me> was, that they could dispense with my attendance. I told him that he probably could but still I thought I could afford him some information upon <some> doctrinal points. He told N. that we said we could heal the sick by praying with them and anointing them [with] oil; and said we ought to heal Napela’s wife [Kitty]. I spoke to him and asked if we done wrong in doing as the Scriptures said, or would it be better for [us] to turn infidel and deny the scriptures. Our conversation lasted about five or ten minutes and he left by telling N. that he would like to see him at his house.

Napela had the advantage of him while conversing upon the scriptures and upon our belief, he could not gainsay it for N. had the bible to sustain him.—But he commenced with newspaper stories &c.

12 January 1852 • Monday

Bros. H. & W. started for Makawao.4

13 January 1852 • Tuesday

Went over to see Bro. Birch & Mr. Rice.

14 January 1852 • Wednesday

Held Bible Class. Baptised 17 and confirmed them.

15 January 1852 • Thursday

Started this morning to go to Koolau about day break and arrived at Makawao just as they were sitting down to breakfast. I met a native from Keanae with a note for me close to Makawao, stating that they had found out the faults of the new teachers meaning Bros. Hawkins and Keeler and wishing me to come over. Bros. H. & K. I found at the house they having arrived from Keanae the evening before; they having been unable to accomplish much or at least to bring the people up to the standard they wished to; and in their endeavors to regulate the branch they had been opposed by one of the teachers who had taken a vote to reject them and choose another &c. &c.

After breakfast we held meeting for the purpose of counselling in regard to the matter—the brethren then made a statement in regard to matters at Keanae and after hearing the statements and their motives for action—it was resolved that it would be best to let them be for awhile and wait for some <further> moves on their part.5 Ordained Bros. Winchester & Burnham Elders.

16 January 1852 • Friday

Reading &c.

17 January 1852 • Saturday

do. do. I was presented this evening with a pair of shoes by Bro. Winchester.

18 January 1852 • Sunday

Bro. Winchester and I started over to Waiakoa and preached and baptised two; afternoon preached again and started again for Makawao, it commenced raining and we had a very disagreeable time riding home[,] the wind blowing cold and chilling us to the centre;—when we arrived, at about 7 o’clock, we were thoroughly drenched.

19 January 1852 • Monday6

Reading &c.

20 January 1852 • Tuesday

do. do.

21 January 1852 • Wednesday

Started for Waiehu in company with Bros. H. [James Hawkins] & K. [James Keeler] arrived in afternoon very lame in consequence of my Shoes.7

22 January 1852 • Thursday

very lame in consequence This afternoon Mr. [David] Rice proposed being baptised and we went down and baptised him I officiated also baptised a native. In after evening confirmed him & enjoyed ourselves much.

23 January 1852 • Friday

variously engaged.

24 January 1852 • Saturday

do. do.

25 January 1852 • Sunday

On account of my lameness Bro. [Jonathan] Napela sent a boy with a horse for me to ride over to Wailuku. I preached and had a good flow of the Spirit; after meeting baptised eleven and one white man. In afternoon enjoyed a good flow of the Spirit.

26 January 1852 • Monday

Bro. H. & Bro. Rice went to Lahaina.

27 January 1852 • Tuesday

They returned this evening. Translating Book of Mormon.8

28 January 1852 • Wednesday

Translating Book of Mormon.

29 January 1852 • Thursday

do. do. do.

30 January 1852 • Friday

do. do.

31 January 1852 • Saturday

do. the Word of Wisdom.


  1. [1]Cannon later described his feelings regarding his return to the Wailuku area: “The contrast between my position then and what it had been when formerly at Wailuku, was to me a constant cause of gratitude to the Lord. He had revealed unto me that it was my duty to remain on the islands, acquire the language and bear testimony of His great work to the people. He had given me many promises connected therewith. And now I began to feel how true His words had been” (Cannon, My First Mission, 43–44).

  2. [2]During the day Cannon and Hammond also penned a letter to Richard Armstrong, minister of public education, reporting the six marriages the Latter-day Saints had performed on Maui in 1851. Cannon had performed four marriages and Hammond and Keeler one each. For more information regarding these marriages, see Cannon, Hammond, and Keeler to Armstrong, Jan. 1, 1852.

  3. [3]In early February 1852, the Reverend Jonathan S. Green wrote to the Reverend Dwight Baldwin decrying the success Cannon was having around Wailuku and made specific reference to the recent baptisms of Napela, Kaleohano, Birch, and Rice (Green to Baldwin, Feb. 4, 1852). Reflecting on the highly charged religious atmosphere during this time, Cannon later wrote: “The preaching of the gospel created a great excitement; the people flew by hundreds to hear the testimony, and I had the satisfaction of seeing the missionary who had treated me so badly and who had so bitterly opposed and lied about the work, almost deserted by his congregation; they having left his church to hear us preach, and see us baptize. I confess that to see him thus treated pleased me; I did not wish him to receive any bodily injury, but I had hoped and prayed the day would come when he would see his followers desert his church, embrace the truth and leave him to himself” (Cannon, My First Mission, 43). For an overview of the tensions between the Latter-day Saints and the Congregationalists, see Bishop, “Waging Holy War.”

  4. [4]On this day Cannon wrote to Bigler and Farrer. See Appendix 2, Item 11.

  5. [5]After the presiding teacher of the branch at Ke‘anae refused to help Hawkins and Keeler obtain food, on January 13 they “had a talk with him about his dutey to the Church and also to us he said that he wanted to wait till Brother Cannon Came and he had a talk with him.” In the evening the elders held a meeting with the branch. When Hawkins took a vote of the people as to whether they would help support the missionaries, Keeler noted that “they voted against us I then got up & told them that we was done with them we went in to the house & packed our thing & got ready to leave them they beged for us to stop with them.” As the missionaries were preparing to leave, the deacon of the branch returned to Ke‘anae and received them “tolerable well he gave us the best he had he told us that he had went & seen the [members] in this plase they said that they was willing to assist us but they said that they had nothing to give we know beter than that for they live evry day.” The following day the elders left the Saints “to their own distruction for we Concluded that we Could not live without Eating” (Keeler journal, Jan. 13–14, 1852).

  6. [6]The May 1, 1852, Deseret News summarized a letter from William Perkins dated January 19, 1852:

    “The work was progressing with rapidity; natives and whites enquiring;—that bro. George Q. Cannon had baptized 21 the day previous, and that there was a general call from all quarters for bro. Cannon to come and preach to them, as he understands the language.

    “The natives are surprised that the Mormons have baptized so many whites in so short a time. . . .

    “The [Congregationalist] missionaries pronounce heavy curses on the heads of the [Latter-day Saint] elders.”

  7. [7]After reaching Waiehu, Cannon, Hawkins, and Keeler, in company with Hammond, “took a walk up on to the hill to Council to gether . . . bro Cannon took the seat as president of the Council Brother Hawkins then got up and stated the object of the meeting it was to take in to concideration the propriety of his going to Hawaii & if he went he wanted a partner . . . Bro Cannon & Hammond thought that we had not the athority to send one to that Island it was Bro Hawkins opinion that we had & mine [Keeler’s] also but we could not agree about it so we adjourned untill Thursday.” The following day the missionaries met again “to setle our business we soon setled it as Bro Hawkins gave up going to Hawaii at this time.” Keeler was subsequently appointed to “goe to the Beach [Ma‘alaea]” and Hawkins to the Kula (Keeler journal, Jan. 21, 22, 24, 1852).

  8. [8]Cannon elaborated further on his involvement with the translation of the Hawaiian Book of Mormon:

    “I was led to commence the translation of the Book of Mormon into the language of the Islands—the Hawaiian language, as it is called. My place of residence was at Brother J. H. Napela’s, Wailuku. He was an educated, intelligent Hawaiian, who thoroughly understood his own language, and could give me the exact meaning of words. The meaning attached to many words depended upon the context. It was important, therefore, in translating, to know that the words used conveyed the correct idea. . . . Probably but few in the nation were as well qualified as Brother Napela, to help me in this respect. He was a descendant of the old chiefs of the Island of Maui, in whose families the language was preserved and spoken in the greatest purity, and he had advantages which no other equally well educated man, at that time, possessed. He had studied the principles of the gospel very thoroughly, he had a comprehensive mind to grasp the truth, and he had been greatly favored by the Spirit. . . .

    “ . . . In the beginning, my method was to translate a few pages, and then, when opportunity offered, explain to Brother Napela the ideas, whether historical or doctrinal, in great fullness. By this means he would get a pretty thorough comprehension of the part I was translating. I would then read the translation to him, going carefully over every word and sentence, and learning from him the impression the language used conveyed to his mind. In this way I was able to correct any obscure expression which might be used, and secure the Hawaiian idiom. The spirit of translation rested upon me, and it soon became a very easy labor for me. I obtained great facility of expression in the language, and before I got through with the book, I had a range of words at my command, superior to the great bulk of the people. . . . Doctrines, principles and ideas were in the Book of Mormon which were outside the ordinary thoughts of the people. The translation of these, called forth the full powers of the language, and really required—that which I felt I had while engaged in this work—the assistance of the Spirit. . . .

    “In this way I went through the whole book, carefully reading and explaining every word and sentence . . . ; and if there was an obscure expression, not leaving it till it was made plain” (Cannon, My First Mission, 59–61).