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January 1878


Events in George Q. Cannon’s journal for 1878

6 January

Response to Joseph F. Smith’s “curious, & as I think, unsound ideas about the offices of deacon and Elder”

15 January ff.

“Called upon Pres. [Rutherford B.] Hayes and had some conversation with him upon the admission of Utah as a State”

22 January

Responded to “Pres. B. Young and the leaders [being] denounced as murderers and abetters of murder”

11 February

Response to reports of division at home. “While we are united I have no fears of our enemies; but when we quarrel among ourselves I know there is danger.”

12 March

“Called upon Pres. Hayes. Had a more free and full talk with him than ever before about our affairs.”

8 April

Discussions regarding Brigham Young’s estate

18 November

With his co-executors of the Brigham Young estate, sold bonds so as to “close up the business of the estate as nearly as possible.”

3 December

Response to Orson Hyde’s death and his efforts “to make amends for his acts and expressions” in Missouri in 1838.

6 January 1878 • Sunday

Stake Conference continued to-day[.] I drove up from the farm to the City. Was sent for by Pres. John Taylor. Had interview with him about yesterday’s proceedings. We then went together to meeting. Bro. O. Pratt was speaking. When he finished I was called upon and spoke for a short time and had considerable liberty. After meeting had interview with U. S. Marshal Nelson in which he asked my aid in getting appropriations. Ate dinner with my Brother Angus, whose health, though still feeble, is much better. In afternoon Bro. Jos. F. Smith addressed the conference. His subject was the priesthood. He advanced ideas which were new to me, that is, for an Elder in Israel to preach. He conveyed the idea that it was by virtue of the High Priesthood that an apostle acted and not by virtue of the apostleship; that the office of an apostle was an appendage and that a man acted in that as he did as a Bishop (if not a literal descendant of Aaron) by virtue of being a High Priest. He also advanced curious, & as I think, unsound ideas about the offices of deacon and Elder and their relationship to the Aaronic and Melchisedec priesthoods. He conveyed the idea also that a revelation or doctrine, to be binding, should be submitted to the various quorums of the priesthood, an idea not <so> incorrect of itself as the manner and spirit in which it was put forth. He dwelt in his positive and emphatic style upon the idea that no one man had the right to enforce his doctrines upon the Church without the sanction and concurrence of the priesthood and people. If he did not have President Brigham Young in his mind, he was unfortunate in his selection of words and in his manner of presenting his thoughts; for I could not help thinking that he had him in his mind. My brother Angus also gathered obtained the same impression. Pres. Taylor followed and in a very mild, inoffensive manner corrected and explained some of his ideas. At the Council afterwards Bro. Erastus Snow expressed his regret to Bro. Jos. F. that he had not heard his discourse, that he had been kept from meeting &c. To which Bro. Jos. F. said something in reply to the effect that he had preached nothing new. Up to this point I had not intended to say anything; but to leave the matter with the older Members of the quorum to notice or not as they saw fit. I could, however, not let this pass, and I remarked that his doctrine was new on many points to me. Bro. W. Woodruff also said that it was new to him. This opened the subject. It was discussed with tolerable freedom, the most of the brethren differing from him – Bro’s. Woodruff, Hyde, Pratt, Richards, Young and myself. Bro. E. Snow qualified what he <J. F. S.> said and rather justified his expressions as to what the word apostle meant. Bro. Orson Pratt differed from him (J. F. S.) in his views about apostles; but agreed with him about no one man having the right to promulgate doctrines without submitting them to the Council or which did not perfectly agree with the Book of Doctrine & Covenants, and also agreed with him in his views of <upon> the relationship and standing of the High Priests and Seventies. Bro. Jos. F. Smith in the course of his remarks <in the Council> had alluded to the idea of the Seventies standing ahead of the High Priests – the doctrine taught by President Brigham Young – and said it was contrary to the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. Bro. Pratt and he are in accord in their views, I think, as to the incorrectness of President B. Young’s position upon this subject. I did not feel that it would be wise at that time to enter into any dispute upon that subject, so I held my peace. Pres. Taylor corrected Bro. Jos. F. Smith in some of his views advanced in support of the doctrines contained in his discourse, and Bro. Wilford Woodruff was very emphatic in his expressions as to their being incorrect, in which I concurred. I do pray sincerely and fervently for union among the apostles in regard to our polity and our doctrine. I know it will never do for us to have disputations among us. The Lord cannot bless us if we do. I pray to be delivered from this spirit. This is the Lord’s work and I pray for grace to endure to the end. It is not for me to argue with and dictate my brethren; I must leave them to Him. If I am not correct in my views, I earnestly entreat him to correct me. I want and greatly desire to be sound in doctrine; I also ask the same blessing for my fellow servants. It is the purpose apparently of Bro’s. O. Pratt and Jos. F. Smith to get from the quorum some expression of opinion upon points of doctrine which Pres. Young while he lived expressed himself plainly upon and considered he had settled. There may be others of the apostles who feel the same way. I know that all <of them> do not subscribe to the doctrine taught by our late President respecting the authority of the Seventies and that they (to use a military phrase) ranked the High Priests. Bro. O. Pratt has differed with Pres. Young upon other points, he claiming that he had the revelations given to the Prophet Joseph to sustain him in the views he entertained as opposed to those of Pres. B. Young. For myself I think the discussion of these things inopportune. If persisted in among us, such discussion may be fraught with evil. I earnestly beseech the Lord to guide us aright in these matters and to save us from division. I know it is our privilege to obtain and enjoy revelation, and for one I desire to be filled with it.

7 January 1878 • Monday

Started from Salt Lake City this morning accompanied by my wife, Elizabeth and the children, Mary Alice, David and Sylvester for Washington. My wife and children drove up from my place on the river this morning. The weather is very cold, the ground covered with snow, the nights very cold, but the days warm in comparison. Since Christmas day the weather has been the coldest I have known for many years. I am told that it has not been so cold for 12 years in the city. Franklin and Abraham, my sons, went with us to Ogden. Bro’s. F. D. Richards and Wm Jennings were on the train for Ogden. Sister J. P. Freeze and little daughter were going to the States and her husband desired me to take charge of them. Through not telegraphing earlier we did not get such good berths in the sleeping car as I desired.

8 January 1878 • Tuesday

Made the usual progress and kept on time. Secured better berths.

9 January 1878 • Wednesday

Reached Omaha. Found passes for myself and family, at the Ticket Office, for Chicago over the C & North Western. Weather is much milder here than at home. Took supper on dining room car.

10 January 1878 • Thursday

Reached Chicago. Called upon Mr. Myers, Ticket Agent of Pittsburgh and Fort Wayne and Penn. R. R’s and obtained passes to and from Washington. The folks had gone to the Depot where we waited till 9.10 p.m.

11 January 1878 • Friday

Made the usual progress.

12 January 1878 • Saturday

Reached Washington at 9. a.m. We found Mrs. Ritchie, 611 – 13th St. N. W. waiting for us, my telegram from Chicago having reached her. I had the same rooms which John Q. and I occupied last winter. Went up to the House. Met Turney of Penn., Chairman of Sub-Com. of Com. of on Ter. in company with Franklin, Chairman of the Com. He notified me that our Bills would be up for consideration at 10 o’clock on Monday.

13 January 1878 • Sunday

Remained in the house all day. Had a great many calls.

14 January 1878 • Monday

Met with the sub-com. of Com. on Ter. at 10 this morning. There were present the sub com.: Turney of Penn., Jones of Ala., Cravens of Ark., Bagley of N. Y. and Aldrich of Ill.; before I finished Reed of Maine and Franklin of Mo., Chairman of the whole Com. came in and listened. Some of the delegates from the Territories were also present. I was listened to with attention and some degree of interest. Many questions were asked; and on the whole I had reason to be gratified with the interview. But our enemies are active. They are here and pressing for legislation. A man by the name of Hemingray, and Maxwell and Merritt and John C. Young, the apostate son of Joseph Young, brother of <the late> Pres. B. Young, are all here and each doing what he can in his peculiar line to stir up prejudice and violent action against the People of Utah. My trust is in the Lord and while I do all I can I also cry unto Him for help and deliverance. He alone can save<us.>

15 January 1878 • Tuesday

Called upon Pres. Hayes and had some conversation with him upon the admission of Utah as a State. I had left with him at a previous interview a copy of my argument before the Com. on Territories in favor of admission. He said he had looked over that pamphlet, but had not in a con- given the subject sufficient thought to enable him to speak definitely upon the subject. He made a memorandum of the matter, with a view to talk with friends about, as I supposed, and perhaps with the Cabinet which meets to-day. At the House. Nothing of importance done. Dan. Voorhees made an eloquent speech in the Senate upon the currency. He had a large number as listeners. I could not endorse all his views. He is inclined to be a demagogue in my opinion. Sister Freeze and daughter left this morning for Bloomsburg, Penn. where her husband’s relatives live. Her trip here cost her nothing for fare, I having brought herself & child through on my passes; her expenses for sleepers, &c, from home to this point were $21.50/100.

16 January 1878 • Wednesday

I omitted yesterday to state that when I mentioned to Mr. Hayes that we had no public debt in Utah in any form – territorial, county or municipal, he expressed surprise and spoke in praise of such an unique condition of affairs. Called at the Land Dept. Nothing special done in the House to-day. A meeting of the Com. on Ter. had been appointed for 10 o’clock to-morrow[.] I learned it had been postponed to accommodate Hemingray until next Tuesday. On the way home from the House had a very interesting conversation with Hon. J. W. Dwight of N. Y. respecting plural marriage and social affairs generally. In the evening had a call from and lengthy and interesting conversation with Mr. John W. Hoyt, who has been a professor in several colleges. He is taking a great interest in education. The topics were plural marriage, the future of our people and the condition of the Ter.

17 January 1878 • Thursday

Called at the Dept. of Justice and had an interview with the Attorney General respecting a new district attorney in place of Howard, for Utah. Michigan claimed the appointment and several from there were being pressed. Called at the Dept. of the Interior and saw Mr. Schurz about a Surveyor General for the Ter. He said he had numerous applications. Nothing special at the House to-day. Writing up back journal this evening.

18 January 1878 • Friday

Had interview with President Hayes respecting the district attorney and Marshall of the Territory, new appointments which are needed, Michigan claims the right to nominate the district attorney. Went to Land Dept. Nothing special at the House to-day. Mrs. Isabella Beecher Hooker expressed a wish to meet me, and Mr. Landers of Conn. told me she would be at home at the Riggs’ House at 7 p.m. Had a conversation of 1½ hours with her in Mrs. Spofford’s parlors. Mrs. H is a sister of Hy. Ward Beecher and <she> talked more plainly about generation and matters connected therewith than any woman I ever met with before. She must be I think nearly 60 years old.

19 January 1878 • Saturday

Called at the Land Dep’t and P.O. Dep’t. Went to the House and took Mary Alice and David with me.

20 January 1878 • Sunday

Ua hoole aku au i ka ai I keia la. [I fasted today.] Wrote to Gen. Kane to-day.

21 January 1878 • Monday

Bro. David James arrived this morning from home. I took him to the House and attended meeting of Com. of Delegates from the Territories; but there was no quorum present. Had a pleasant evening conversing with Bro. James.

22 January 1878 • Tuesday

Bro. James left this morning for Philadelphia. Was present before sub-com. of Com. on Ter. when Hemingray and John C. Young and Maxwell were arguing in favor of legislation for Utah. The two former made speeches and Maxwell threw in a little occasionally. They were as bitter as they knew how to be. Extracts were read from sermons, Pres. Taylor and myself were quoted, the Mountain Meadows, and Lee’s confessions, Ann Eliza Young, Stenhouse, the danger in which apostates and Gentiles were in, the willingness of the people to murder who<mso>ever they were told to do, and every vile thing that could be imagined. Pres. B. Young and the leaders were denounced as murderers and abetters of murder. John C. Young said that in talking with his mother about Nauvoo she had said that the brethren had sometimes robbed a few hen roosts, smoke houses, taken a few horses and passed a little counterfeit money, and about three years ago his uncle Phinehas had told him that he had carried $15,000 of counterfeit money into Nauvoo. He asked him what had been done with it, and he replied that the brethren had bought outfits with it. In replying to them I said that I supposed I would be relieved from saying anything in defence of Presidents Joseph and Brigham Young as their son and nephew was present. If I was surprised, however, that he should sit still and acquiesce in their being called <murderers> and charged with other vile crimes. If his father and uncles were chicken and meat thieves, murderers and rogues counterfeiters and rogues generally, the people of Utah did not <know> it. They respected them because they supposed they were honorable, upright men; personally, I said, I did not want anything to do with such a gang as he described his kindred as being. I said that I was reminded of the old adage; “that it was a dirty bird that fouled its own next.” The Members were amused at the turn which I gave this. I occupied about 20 minutes in replying to them.

23 January 1878 • Wednesday

At the House.

24 January 1878 • Thursday

Attended meeting of the Sub. Com., the Bill under discussion being H. R. 2078 on the Elective franchise, &c. The time was occupied by Hemingray 1 hour & 45 minutes in comparing our election law in Utah with the Bill (2078) the newly proposed law. I was asked by the Com. if I wished to say anything in reply to what had been said. I said of course I did. Hemingray spoke up and in a patronizing way said he hoped the Com. would give the gentleman (meaning myself) the time he wanted. I was not in the most amiable mood after sitting and listening to his attacks upon us, and I spoke up, and said I was much obliged for his effort to get me a hearing; but I was the Delegate from Utah and a Member of the House and had a right as such to be heard in behalf of my constituents, and I did not wish him to think that I owed any grace in this matter to him.

At the House.

25 January 1878 • Friday

At the House. Had a long interview with Mrs. Isabella Beecher Hooker at her request at the Riggs House. She is the sister of Henry Ward Beecher, an advocate of Woman’s suffrage and an advanced thinker. The interview was a very pleasant one and I think it did good. Mrs. Spofford, the wife of one of the proprietors of the Hotel was present a part of the time. Her anxiety to meet me arose from what Mr. Landers of Conn. had said to her about me.

26 January 1878 • Saturday

At the House. Day devoted to speech making only.

27 January 1878 • Sunday

Ua hoole au ia’u iho i ka ai a ua ai pu Kakou i Ka paina o Ka Haku. [I fasted today and feasted well upon the sacrament of the Lord.]

Busy preparing my argument for to-morrow. I can secure a better hearing and more time by writing my argument than if I speak extemporaneously, tho’ I interject many remarks and explanations extemporaneously as I go along.

28 January 1878 • Monday

At 10 o’clock was at the Com. Room. A number of ladies were present – Mrs. Hooker, Mrs. Spencer, Dr. Mary Walker and a number of others. I had a good audience and I felt that I made quite an impression. Mrs. Spencer and Dr. Mary Walker made strong arguments against taking the ballot away from the women of Utah. Hemingray was anxious to have John C. Young tell his experience in polygamy after the ladies had finished, but the Com. said they had heard enough; this morning had been assigned to me and I could do as I liked with the time, occupy it myself or let the ladies, as I had done, occupy it. This made our enemies feel a little chopfallen. Hemingray had interrogated Mrs. Spencer as she was speaking; but she was too many; her replies did not help his cause in the least. I thank the Lord for the assistance he had given me.

29 January 1878 • Tuesday

At the House.

30 January 1878 • Wednesday

Listened to an argument by Mrs. Hooker before the Com. on Judiciary in their Com. Room in favor of Woman Suffrage. It was very able. She alluded to Utah and to the argument she had heard made by me on Monday and spoke in a very complimentary manner of me, and said she had intended to say more, but as I was present she would refrain.

31 January 1878 • Thursday

I passed a feverish, uneasy night. In morning felt very badly. Severe headache, and pains all thro’ me. Storming very heavily. I thought of getting up and going to the Capitol; but the dreadful weather, with my wife’s arguments, caused me to decide that with it would be too great a risk. Pneumonia is very common here now. Felt very badly all day. In the evening Gilmore and Salisbury called upon me and I signed letters to 1st Ass’t P M Gen. for them concerning the advertised time on their routes, that it ought to be lengthened.