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January 1854

Events in George Q. Cannon’s journal for 1854

31 January

Finished reading the Book of Mormon through. Grateful for “this great privilege, that of translating this precious book into this language”

8 February

Description of travel and scenery in the Wailua River area on the island of Kauai

13 March

Detailed description of native houses

26 March

“I gave them a short sketch . . . of the sacrifices we had made to bring this gospel to them.”

29 March

Legal persecution and imprisonment of J. W. H. Kauwahi

4 April

“During my travels on the different islands I have been surprised at my own notoriety.”

6 April ff.

Conference in which Cannon “spoke on the coming forth of the messenger to prepare the way of the Lord” and on “the joy experienced in preaching the gospel of Jesus and in living pure before the Lord”

20 April

Comments on “strong delusions . . . being sent among the people by Satan to harden their hearts”

26 April

Description of a canoe on which he set sail

7 May

Comments on the “squalid and degraded condition” of many of “this people”

10 May ff.

Visited the crater of Kīlauea, on island of Hawaii

28 May

Spoke on obedience and priesthood authority

3 June ff.

Description of eating at a feast; participated in a series of meetings

10 June

Reflections on “the appearance of Bros. Joseph and Hyrum” after the resolution on 10 June 1844 to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor

15 June

Cannon observes “a very great change” in Brother Kalawaia; “now he is as bold as a lion.”

19 July ff.

Conference at Kāneʻohe on the island of Oahu

25 July

The “first five” elders were honorably released from their mission

27 July

A “blessing meeting” was held in which “I received a powerful blessing.”

29 July

Cannon’s poignant feelings on departing; bore his “last testimony”

12 August

Landed in San Francisco

14 August

Asked by Parley P. Pratt to “copy and help him revise his history ready for press”

30 September

Arrived in San Bernardino, California; stayed at the home of Charles C. Rich

1 January 1854 • Sunday

Another year has dawned and I pray that I may be enabled to increase in knowledge, obedience and every good work. A Stormy morning; the river overflowed its banks leaving puddles and ponds in the low places. Not many at meeting; two meetings, Bros. Farrer, Kauwahi and myself preached, I enjoyed it much.1 One man confirmed who was baptized yesterday.

2 January 18542 • Monday

Received two letters from Bro. Johnson & also two papers containing news and warm expressions & friendship; a letter from Bro. [James] Lawson detailing his success; a letter from Bro. [James] Keeler giving an account of the persecution they have met with there—there meeting house had been torn down, and the children of our church who went to the government school had been fined for not packing sand and timber to build the Calvinist meeting house.3 Bro. R. [Reddin] A. Allred wrote in favor of Bro. McB. going.

3 January 1854 • Tuesday

Stormy. Reading manuscript. Wrote a long letter to Uncle [John Taylor] in answer to his, and also one to Mary Ann which I enclosed in his.

4 January 1854 • Wednesday

Raining &c. Reading manuscript.

5 January 1854 • Thursday

Fast day, but so stormy we could not assemble. Reading manuscript.

6 January 1854 • Friday

do. do.

7 January 1854 • Saturday

do. do. We are progressing tolerably well in this work. It is as free from mistakes as I could expect considering the circumstances under which I was placed—calls for preaching to attend to, and very frequently interrupted to attend and administer to the sick, & often having to translate and copy in the midst of conversations which very often distracted my attention, caused me to expect upon a careful reperusal to find many mistakes. In the first few chapters I had <to> make a good many corrections as I had translated it without recopying or reading.

8 January 1854 • Sunday

We have had a good deal of rain this week or two and it was very bad walking this morning. We met in morning up the valley; Bro. Wm. Farrer preached and I followed in a few remarks. We had a good meeting. In afternoon we met in our (prison) house and we attended to the Lord’s sacrament. We had an excellent meeting and every body seemed to rejoice, I spoke on the nature of the Lord’s supper and on the object of our coming to the islands, that it was not merely to preach <faith,> repentance and baptism but that it was to teach them the principles of temporal salvation that they might be exalted temporally and spiritually. Bro. Kauwahi spoke also and with power and Bro. Wm. spoke. Bro. K. spoke on the Book of Mormon.4 Commenced a letter this evening to Bro. Joseph Cain.

9–14 January 1854 • Monday to Saturday

Cold stormy weather. Engaged with Bros. Kauwahi & Wm. in <reading &> correcting the manuscript of the Book of Mormon—comparing it with the English translation. Attended meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

15 January 1854 • Sunday

Bro. Kauwahi preached this morning and spoke well, I followed and made a few observations. Bro. Wm. went to meeting at Hanapepe. <Confirmed one during intermission.> In afternoon I preached on the prophecies, on the necessity, in order to fulfill the word of God, of a precursor one being sent forth as a precursor to the Savior previous to his second coming, and on the nature of this work and the motives that ought to actuate us to action in joining this church of Jesus, that if we had the love of the truth in us and [were] actuated by the spirit of the Lord, nothing would be dear in comparison with this not even life itself we would forsake all, as did the ancients, to possess it. I was filled with the spirit and spoke with power and liberty. A young man, Koakanu, was baptised this evening by me, he is of noble family and has been educated at the [Lahainaluna] High School. He is capable of doing much good and I pray that he may be kept faithful.

16 January 1854 • Monday

Variously engaged. Reading manuscript.

17 January 1854 • Tuesday

Received several letters one from Bro. McBride, two from Bro. [Jonathan] Napela, one long letter and a note directed to Bro. Lewis and me from Bro. Johnson, and a letter from Bro. Bigler to Bro. Farrer and me. Bro. McBride was to have sailed last Friday to the coast—Bro. Johnson had got the $500 from Haalelea that we spoke to him about; he charged interest from the time we spoke to him about it as he had laid it aside for that purpose. May he <be> blessed according to his works. We are comparative strangers to him yet he has not hesitated to trust us. They had not received Bro. Lewis’ letter counselling Bro. McB. to stay. They state that the Bros. [Reddick and Reddin] Allred had written that they were not in favor of it—I received by the last mail a small note written <by> Bro. R. A. Allred in which he spoke in favor of the project and of it being done soon; I cannot account for this sudden change in his views.5 Bro. N. wrote encouragingly of the progress of the work and of his desire to be with me. He wrote me some extracts of a conversation he had with Mr. [Rev. Jonathan] Green, the missionary, only part of which I have received, in which I see he tells Mr. Green that his (Napela’s) wife, Kitty [Napela], had told him that a Calvinist member, a female, had tried to get her to coax me to lie with her <(Kitty)> and that she (Kitty) had told her that it would be useless, as I was reserved & that my works and conduct corresponded with my teaching. In conversation one evening with Bro. Napela on the many false reports and lies propagated by the [Congregationalist] missionaries in regard to us, Kitty told us that they had been questioning her to know whether I had taken or attempted any liberties with her. I do not think them any too good to employ an agent like the woman referred to above to ensnare a servant of God, if they could think it the least possible. May the Lord reward <them> according to their works and for their evil surmisings.

Bro. Johnson writes that Bro. [Edward] Dennis is anxious to sell out his shop and tools and stock to the Committee—he has been doing a good business as a tinman, and as Bro. Lewis is a good tinman they thought that the concern might be a source of profit by employing hands and having apprentices &c. and still not detract any from the dignity of the mission. Bro. D. was willing to have Bro. Lewis price every thing; and he would then deduct 50 percent from the whole and wait until the committee could pay him. Bro. Lewis acquiesced when he read the letter and commenced making arrangements to start on the morrow to Koloa and from there to Honolulu.6 I wrote this evening to Bro. Johnson telling him that they had liberty to use my name, (as one of the Committee) in any arrangement he and Bro. Lewis might think wisdom to make.

I have felt unusually depressed and sad to day after receiving these letters, and could not refrain from tears, I regretted much that there had been anything done that give the least cause for feelings among the brethren. I pray that the Lord will order all for the best and will bless us with the spirit of unity. The committee took the shop &c. from Bro. Dennis and gave their note to him for $500 to be due on demand.7

18 January 1854 • Wednesday

Bro. Lewis left this morning for Koloa. Reading. Attended meeting.

19–21 January 1854 • Thursday to Saturday

Attended early morning meetings; enjoyed the spirit. During day variously engaged—generally reading.8

22 January 1854 • Sunday

Attended early morning meeting. Rode to Hanapepe, about 7 miles, and held two meetings; returned in evening.

23 January 1854 • Monday

Reading &c.

24–28 January 1854 • Tuesday to Saturday

Reading &c. Received a letter from Bro. R. A. Allred, and Bro. Wm. received a letter from Bro. Bigler stating that Bro. Mc. had not gone having received Bro. Lewis’ letter a day or two before the time of sailing. Bro. Tanner was in Honolulu from Lahaina. From Wednesday until Saturday evening engaged reading. Stormy all week.

29 January 1854 • Sunday

A Fine day. I preached in morning and Bro. Wm. followed.9 In afternoon attended to the Lord’s supper. Bros. Kauwahi, Wm. & I spoke. I spoke on the object of my mission to Kauai and set before the people the necessity of using every exertion in their power. Cut off one and ordained Bro. Koakanu, an elder.

30 January 1854 • Monday

Went to see Mr. [Richard] Armstrong at the house of Mr. [Rev. George B.] Rowell, the Calvinist missionary of this place, in relation to a school which has been kept by one of our brethren, <Hosea,> a young high school scholar, he has kept it several months without pay and the school superintendent told him that he would give him, when he returned from Niihau, a license as a teacher of a government school and he would draw pay. When Aka, the school superintendant returned he would not give it, he having been told, he said, by Rowell, the missionary, that it was not right. We afterwards saw him and he said that he had written to the Minister of Public Instruction, Armstrong, on the subject. In our conversation with Armstrong we told him we wanted nothing more than rights and these we wanted our people to have in common with other citizens of the kingdom. We were not aware that the law warranted the choice of Calvinist teachers altogether for government <schools> to the utter exclusion of Mormons &c. He said it did not, the necessary qualifications were capacity to teach and a good, moral character. He said he would inquire into the matter. He afterwards met with the teachers and we were told that he asked Aka his reasons for refusing Hosea; he assigned some frivolous reasons among the reason <rest> that we believed in a plurality of wives &c. Armstrong slipped off before we saw him again; we met with Aka and I eased my mind pretty well to him. I told him that he had paid no regard to law and justice, and had used subterfuge and that he was not fit for the office &c. This same fellow that makes an objection of this kind against us, has a kept mistress, so say the people, and I do not doubt it. I got a horse with the intention of meeting A. & him face to face at Hanapepe, as I did not feel satisfied. They had left when I arrived there and I returned without effecting anything. They are determined not to do us justice, Armstrong, I believe, is doing all he can against <us> but he does it behind the curtain. We heard that he said no Mormon teacher from Hawaii to Niihau would get pay for teaching school. He evaded this in our conversation with him.10

31 January 1854 • Tuesday

We finished reading the Book of Mormon thro’ this evening, and I feel full of gratitude to the Lord for granting unto me this great privilege, that of translating this precious book into this language. I pray that the way may be opened for it to be printed speedily that it may go forth on its mission of life. I have read it thro’ twice with the exception of a few pages; once to Bro. Wm. he looking at the English version to see that there were no words or sentences dropped; and then read again to Bro. Kauwahi, he also looking at the English, of which he has a slight knowledge, and all inaccuracies and idiomatic expressions corrected.11 Met with officers and gave much good instruction.12


  1. [1]The storm Cannon mentioned was an impressive one. “The new year was ushered in by a heavy rain storm accompaned with lightning was driven out of our beds with water running through the roof into our faces” (Lewis journal, Jan. 1, 1854). “The river rose very much & . . . came within a few rods of our door. held meeting twice to-day but on account of the rain did not have a very large turn out. Bro’s C. K. & myself spoke to the people & taught them on the principles of the resurection” (Farrer diary, Jan. 1, 1854).

  2. [2]Henry Bigler on O‘ahu referenced Cannon in his diary entry for this day: “Re[’]d a letter from Elder Cannon, in it I found two dollars, a handsome new years gift and pray the Lord to bless Brother Cannon” (Bigler journal, LDS ledger, Jan. 2, 1854). The following day a grateful Bigler acknowledged Cannon’s present: “I thank you a thousand times bro C. for your New years Gift to me and I wish I had something nice to send to you” (Bigler to Farrer and Cannon, Jan. 3, 1854, typescript, WFC).

  3. [3]On November 1, 1853, the Latter-day Saint missionaries recently assigned to the Big Island landed at ‘Upolu. Because they “had not brought papers with” them, they were immediately placed in quarantine for a two-week period and reportedly fined five dollars (Keeler journal, Nov. 1, 2, 1853). Blaming their confinement on the local Congregationalist missionaries, Karren wrote: “It is heard to get Justis on this Island, as there is but few of the Authorites of the Nation That lives on this Island. For that reason, the Missionarys do as the[y] please and Are the Ruling power” (Karren journal, Nov. 5, 1853). Upon learning what had transpired on Hawai‘i, Tanner and Reddick Allred visited William Lee, chief justice of the Hawaiian Supreme Court, to seek redress. According to Tanner, “there was no law to make Men that was taken up to prevent the spred of the Small pox to . . . pay eny fine if they stayed their time or if they payed their fine they might go whair they pleased. . . . The man that has money can spred deth or diseas whair he pleases for $5 dalors while the poor man is not safe to run at large.” At the end of two weeks, the Latter-day Saint missionaries were released. Neither Karren nor Keeler reported they had to pay a fine as a condition of release. During his meeting with Judge Lee, Tanner took the opportunity to address the events of the previous summer when Latter-day Saint children were ordered to work on the Congregationalist Church: “Judg Lee sed Preast Bond receive[d] a letter from him on that subject directly after I left the Island [in August 1853] & his reply was there had been nothing of the kind. . . I shoed Judg Lee the sumons which was good evidence that such things had ben & that the preast could not help knowing it & he must of lied willfuly I hope this may be of grate help to us in giting an other start or in renewing the work” (Tanner journal, Dec. 29, 1853). Lee wrote a letter to Bond, which Tanner copied into his journal: “I have heard that you fine the the [sic] school children of your district if they refuse to cary sand & lumber for the New Church at Iole[.] If what I have heard is true, you are wrong, for such fines have no foundation in the law, whair is your law for such works” (Tanner journal, Jan. 11, 1854).

  4. [4]Farrer and Lewis recorded additional details about the day’s meetings: “Notwithstanding the weather was showery we had a good turnout. I spoke to the saints on the object of the Lords supper &c as we intended to administer the Sacrement in the afternoon. . . . [In the afternoon] there was a number of brethren here from Hanapepe & Lawai” (Farrer diary, Jan. 8, 1854). Approximately 150 members partook of the sacrament (Lewis journal, Jan. 8, 1854).

  5. [5]Wanting the support of the missionaries for this plan, Lewis initially requested that McBride remain in the islands until the matter could be discussed at the mission conference scheduled for April (Johnson diary, Jan. 14, 1854; Hammond journal, Jan. 18, 1854). A few days later, however, McBride was making “suitable arangements” for the voyage, believing “all agree in sending Br McBride to the Coast” (Johnson diary, Jan. 21, 1854).

  6. [6]In his letter, Bigler reported that Dennis was “in a great hurry at present to be off [to California] and I wish Bro. Lewis was here to take his shop and stock, tools every thing . . . for he has said he would let Bro. L. have it at his own price and then take off 50 per cent and wait for the pay rather than sell it at auction Bro. D. Says he can make 10 dols. a day but if half what he says is true Bro. L. Can make money and learn the language too in deed it looks to me that a way would open if Bro. L. would accept to get a place to put the Press when it cums” (Bigler to Farrer and Cannon, Jan. 3, 1854, WFC). Farrer related that “the brethren at Honolulu thought this would be a scource of Profit & advantage to the committee to enable them to free themselves from the liabilities of the press & also be a means to help roll forth the work” (Farrer diary, Jan. 17, 1854).

  7. [7]This last sentence is written in smaller handwriting and appears to have been a later insertion. On January 24 Lewis “concluded a bargain with Bro Dennis to purchase his stock in trade for the benefit of the Mission” (Lewis journal, Jan. 24, 1854). In addition to Lewis, Johnson would also become associated with the venture. “I am now to take Hold with my Hands to work for the suport of the cause & the Establishment of a press &c” (Johnson diary, Feb. 7, 1854).

  8. [8]Farrer noted that he and Cannon were at “work these last days on the Book of Mormon” (Farrer diary, Jan. 21, 1854).

  9. [9]Cannon spoke “on the object of the Saviors mission into the world & on the plan of redemption &c.” (Farrer diary, Jan. 29, 1854).

  10. [10]In March 1854 the Latter-day Saints at Waimea petitioned Armstrong “to turn the Kahuna Kula [school inspector] out of office for refusing to do by Bro. Hosea as he agreed to do, after employing him as a school Teacher, by saying that another school was not needed, an[d] then employing his own Brother” (Lewis journal, Mar. 18, 1854). Armstrong took the matter to the Privy Council but they “refused to dismiss” Aka (Farrer diary, Mar. 16, 1854).

  11. [11]Cannon subsequently described his labors with Kauwahi on the Book of Mormon manuscript in greater detail: “Where there was an expression that was not very plain, or that was out of the ordinary line of the Hawaiian thought—and there were many such—I took pains to explain it fully to Brother Kauwahi, as I had done before to Brother Napela, so as to be sure that I had used the most simple and clear language to convey the idea” (Cannon, My First Mission, 62).

  12. [12]Farrer wrote that he and Cannon spoke on “the offices of the Priesthood of the necessity of their being virtuous &c” (Farrer diary, Jan. 31, 1854).