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“God is greater than the United States, and when the Government conflicts with heaven, we will be ranged under the banner of heaven against the Government.” This sentence, supposedly spoken by John Taylor, has been made famous by Jon Krakauer. He used it for the title of his book, Under the Banner of Heaven, which has now been transformed into a fictionalized detective drama mini-series streaming on Hulu. But those words were never actually spoken by John Taylor. They were made up by an anonymous Salt Lake Tribune writer.
The Salt Lake Tribune was started in 1870 by three men that had left the Church. It changed hands many times but was overtly anti-Mormon until 1901, when its new owners began changing its tone somewhat. During those first 30 years, much of the reporting on the Church was downright obnoxious, and probably not meant to be taken seriously. This includes the article on page four of the January 6, 1880 issue, about a stake conference that took place the previous Sunday. (The available scan of the newspaper page is very difficult to read. In my transcription I used “(?)” after words that I thought were correct but wasn’t completely sure, and I used “[?]” in place of words I found completely unreadable.) It begins with:
A DEN OF TREASON
That’s What John Taylor Made the Assembly Hall Last Sunday.
He Defies the United States and Predicts Fighting.
The Fiery Smith Follows Suit by Like Treasonable Palaver.
Promptly at 10 o’clock Sunday morning, the quarterly conference of the centre stake of Zion reassembled at the Assembly Hall. There was a tolerably fine audience present and the music was somewhat better than that rendered the day before.
Brother Joseph E. Taylor called the motley assembly to order by announcing a hymn. As soon as that was disposed, Bishop Kessler offered prayer, and if its worth were measured by its length, we must decide it a complete success. Brother Cannon announced more music after which
stood up, pulled his beard, wiped off his chin and processed to get rid of some chin music. He congratulated the brethren and sisters present on the near completion of their new hall, and it was a delight to his heart that the organization was growing old, that it was now nearly fifty years since the Lord called upon Joseph Smith to take charge of the chosen people and build up the kingdom of God. Orson seemed to be rather troubled about something and finally it transpired that there was [?] in his mind that the brethren were not as they might be.
It seems pretty obvious that the report is not meant to be taken as accurate. It is at best a parody of what took place. I looked up John Taylor’s talk in the Journal of Discourses and found that they have just enough in common that I could be sure I was looking at the correct talk. Here is a comparison of what was published in the Journal of Discourses and what was published by the Salt Lake Tribune about John Taylor’s talk:
Journal of Discourses
Salt Lake Tribune
I have been very much pleased and interested in the proceedings of this conference and in the teachings that we have had from those who have addressed us, and I take very great pleasure in performing my part in these exercises in which we are now engaged. It would seem that this building is rather too small for us at present; I do not know that we can stretch it any; consequently we will put up with things as they are. However it will only be on extraordinary occasions that we shall have the amount of people in it that there is to-day. By and by the storms will be over and the winter past, and we have got a larger building close by, that we can go to. I am very much pleased however, with the exertions that have been made in preparing this building so far, it is true that it is in an unfinished condition for the assembling of the Saints at this conference; but I suppose that it will be quite gratifying to the priesthood and to all who have assembled together on this occasion, to possess the privilege we now enjoy.
the type(?) of Mormondom, got on his feet, took off his overcoat and placing(?) himself in a prominent position on the platform, poised himself before the multitude and said he thought the building was too small. It would do however, until the cold weather was over when, he said with pride, we have a building close by here, big enough to hold us.
There are a few thoughts that have passed through my mind in hearing the remarks of some of my brethren. I was much pleased this morning in listening to the remarks made by Brother Pratt and the brethren who succeeded him, particularly in regard to the subject that they seemed to have their minds upon, that is in relation to the observance of the word of wisdom; and although, like Brother Pratt, I should have to make an acknowledgement that I have not fulfilled that always, yet, I heartily sustain and coincide with every principle that God has revealed for the temporal or spiritual salvation of his people. There were some remarks associated with those made by some of the brethren that also bore a little on my mind, namely, that our religion did not consist simply in one principle but in many, agreeable to what has been spoken in ancient days that "man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." But we are none of us justified in repudiating or ignoring any one of those principles which God has given unto us, and if we have been negligent in these or other matters the proper way for us to do is to reform, to begin anew, or, at least if we have let down any stitches, as the sisters sometimes say when they are knitting, gather them up again and put things in proper position that we may be able, not only in that but in everything else, to honor our God in all sincerity, fidelity and integrity; that we may be able to present ourselves before the Lord in a manner which shall always have his acceptance.
We need teaching continually, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. Hence we have our various organizations of the priesthood, calculated to oversee to manipulate, to regulate, to teach, to instruct, and to enter into all the ramifications of life whether they pertain to this world or the world to come. We need continually not only the guidance and the teachings of the apostles, the presidents, the bishops, priests, teachers, deacons and the various organizations of the priesthood; but we need individually to look unto the Lord for wisdom to direct us in all the affairs of life, that we may speak aright, that we may think aright, that we may act aright, and we may perform the various duties devolving upon us to attend to in all of the avocations of life, and in our prayers, in our various devotions in a family capacity, in a church capacity and in every position that we occupy, we need the guidance and direction of the Almighty. And it is with individuals as it is with families and branches and portions of families, we need to seek unto the Lord and obtain wisdom from him. There is one fact, and that is a great many people—scarcely any of us—know what is good for us. We may have our ideas about that; but we need continually the guidance and direction of the Almighty. The disciples, that is the apostles of old, understood this principle and they asked the Lord to teach them how to pray and in a very few words he uttered one of the most comprehensive forms that has ever been penned or spoken. He said when you pray say "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven; give us this day our daily bread; forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. amen." That is a most comprehensive prayer. In the first place the God of the universe is recognized, our Father who is in the heavens, the God and the Father of Jesus Christ. And what else? The God and Father of the spirits of all flesh. We recognize and reverence him as "Our Father, which art in heaven," we bow before him and seek unto him for his guidance and direction. We hallow and reverence his name. And then what next? "Thy kingdom come." What kingdom? All those things branch out into great and important principles, that can only be understood by revelations from the Most High. "Thy kingdom come." Why? That "thy will may be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
He then proceeded very lamely to deliver a sermon on the Lord’s Prayer, forgetting not to impress on the minds of his hearers that the power of the priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints was something that only good Saints could understand.
I wish to refer a little to some of these things, those ideas and principles that are developed in this saying, in part, because these things can only be done in part. We talk a good deal about the church and kingdom of God. I sometimes think we understand very little about either. The kingdom of God means the government of God. That means, power, authority, rule, dominion, and a people to rule over; but that principle will not be fulfilled, cannot be entirely fulfilled, until, as we are told in the Scriptures, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and he will rule over them. And when unto him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is Christ, to the glory of God, the Father. That time has not yet come, but there are certain principles associated therewith that have come, namely, the introduction of that kingdom, and the introduction of that kingdom could only be made by that being who is the king and ruler, and the head of that government, first communicating his ideas, his principles, his laws, his government to the people; otherwise we should not know what his laws were. The world has been governed in every kind of form; we have had every species of government. Sometimes we have had patriarchal government, at other times we have had unlimited monarchies or what may be called despotic governments, where the power to rule is in the hands of one individual. At other times we have had limited monarchies such as exist in many places now upon the face of the earth. In other places and at different ages we have had what is termed republican governments where the voice of the people has ruled and governed and managed the people's affairs. There have been various forms independent of these, which I do not wish to enter into at present, but nowhere have we had the government of God. It is true that for a limited period among a very small people in early days, among the Jews, they professed to be under the guidance of God for a certain length of time. But they were continually departing therefrom. They had their priesthood, they had their prophets, they had their Urim and Thummim, and through these mediums they sought the wisdom and guidance of God in regard to many of the prominent enterprises in which they engaged. The law given by Moses was one of those things that emanated from God. Moses received from the Lord the ten commandments written upon tables of stone—written by the finger of God—and this people, who were then quite a small people comparatively speaking, received the commands of God and professed, at least, to be governed thereby. The Lord gave them commands and they were proclaimed to the people, and when proclaimed it was usual for all the people to say "Amen. These laws we will observe and do." But this was among a very limited people. Very soon they desired to have a king to rule over them, but the idea that was then considered proper among them was: "The Lord is our king, the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, and he shall rule over us." We see the feeling which they had and entertained as a people, but they departed from it and they sought a king and were led astray from correct principles—led into folly, darkness, ignorance—until they were scattered abroad to the four winds of heaven.
He described the different forms of government existing in civilized nations - monarchies, emirates, republics, etc. but none of them know anything about the government of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. He not only thought but knew that the government of the Church was the most perfect in the world. Nothing could equal it in sublimity or justice. We have a prophet and apostles and bishops and elders, and presidents of societies(?) and quorums and [?] He congratulated them on the progress of the Church its growing strength and influence, and above all, its unity.
He said the law that governed this people was handed down by God himself to the prophet Joseph Smith. He said, “This law we will observe and do.” The Lord is greater than man. Man’s laws are artificial and not always [?] God’s laws are divine and always possessed of wisdom. The laws of man may be ignored or nullified, but the laws of God never.
There has been a time spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world was, when God should govern his people, and the Jews, when the Messiah came, expected that he was come to reign over Israel as a temporal king, that he was going to take possession of his kingdom to overthrow all other kingdoms, empires, dynasties and powers, and declare himself the king of Israel and of the world. But they did not understand many things associated therewith, and they do not now; and the world does not, and we ourselves understand very little about them. But the Scriptures say that "till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." Now then, if the kingdoms of this world have never yet become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ they will be, and it is necessary that there should be a commencement to this as well as to every other thing. This is a matter that has been looked forward to by prophets and apostles, patriarchs, and men of God in the various dispensations of time. It is called "the dispensation of the fullness of times" when God will gather together all things in one whether they be things on the earth or things in the heavens. Now there must of necessity be a starting point for this, and the question is how is it to originate? Who among the nations of the earth knew or comprehended anything about the government of God? None did; nowhere; no king, no emperor, no potentate, no president, no power upon the face of the earth; no divine or theologian, no scientist, no philosopher, understood anything about this matter. It is indeed the kingdom of God, and being his kingdom, it must originate with him, it must receive from him its teachings, its forms, its principles, its laws, its ordinances, its institutions, and everything connected therewith must emanate from God, and as it was necessary that it should originate with him, it is also necessary that it should be upheld and sustained by him and that those who should operate in this kingdom should be governed by the same spirit that you heard Brother Pratt talk about this morning. It became necessary also that a medium should be introduced whereby man might be placed in communion with God that they might comprehend him, that they might understand his laws when he gave them, that they might be acquainted with the principles which he had to develop; for there is one great principle that men very little understand, viz: "The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God," and if they don't know only through his wisdom it would be in vain for God to communicate with a people who could not comprehend him, who had not the capacity to receive these principles which he had to communicate. The same principle holds good everywhere among all the principles with which we are acquainted or know anything about. You cannot teach a child algebra, nor arithmetic, until it has gone through a certain system of training. You cannot teach the arts and sciences without necessary preparation for their introduction, nor can you teach people in the government of God without they are placed in communication with him, and hence comes the Church of God, and what is meant by that? A school, if you please, wherein men are taught certain principles, wherein we can receive a certain spirit through obedience to certain ordinances. And we, having received this spirit through those ordinances, were then prepared to take the initiatory steps in relation to other matters, and hence as a commencement the Lord appeared unto Joseph Smith, both the Father and the Son, the Father pointing to the Son said "this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him." Here, then, was a communication from the heavens made known unto man on the earth, and he at that time came into posses[s]ion of a fact that no man knew in the world but he, and that is that God lived, for he had seen him, and that his Son Jesus Christ lived, for he also had seen him. What next? Now says the Father, "This is my beloved Son, hear him." The manner, the mode, the why, and the wherefore, he designed to introduce through him were not explained; but he, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of man, he was the one pointed out to be the guide, the director, the instructor, and the leader in the development of the great principles of that kingdom and that government which he then commenced to institute. What next? The next step was that men having held the priesthood, that had ministered in time and eternity and that held the keys of the priesthood came and conferred them upon Joseph Smith. John the Baptist conferred upon him the Aaronic priesthood, and Peter, James and John the Melchisedec priesthood; and then others who had operated in the various ages of the world, such as Moses and Enoch, appeared and conferred upon him the authority that they held pertaining to these matters. Why? Because it was "the dispensation of the fullness of times," not of one time only but of all the times; it was the initiatory step for the development of all the principles that ever existed, or would exist pertaining to this world, or the world to come. What next? He was commanded to set apart other men, to baptize them that believed, that had faith in God and in his kingdom, and in his revelations and in his government. After they were put in possession of these principles, they were commanded to baptize those who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who repented of their sins, that they were to be baptized for a remission of their sins and to have hands laid upon them for the reception of the Holy Ghost. What then? There was a priesthood organized, a First Presidency, the Twelve, a High Council, Patriarchs, quorums of High Priests, Seventies, Elders, Bishops, Priests, Teachers and Deacons, to carry on the purposes of God, and to instruct men in the laws pertaining to his kingdom, even the laws of life. Men were sent forth in the name of God to preach the principles of truth which had been revealed, and a great many believed and were baptized and were initiated into the Church of God, and we may say into the initiatory or preparatory steps necessary for the establishment of the kingdom of God. They then received the Spirit of God, which is "no cunningly devised fable;" it did not originate with man, it was the gift of God to man. The Elders, for instance, were told to go forth and call upon men to repent, to be baptized, and they were to lay their hands upon them that they should receive the Holy Ghost. And what should that do? Take of the things of God and shew them unto the people. This is one of the greatest developments of power that ever existed among men. You Elders, hundreds of you that are now listening to me, have gone forth to preach this Gospel. You have called upon men to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and they have done it. You have called upon men to repent, and they have done it. You have told them to be baptized and you have baptized them. You have then laid your hands upon their heads and said "receive ye the Holy Ghost," and they have received it, And you know, and this congregation knows, that what I say is true, and by that principle, through obedience to the law of God that he had introduced in his Gospel. What for? To prepare men to be placed in communion with God. To prepare them to be members not only of his Church but of his Kingdom, and to prepare them to take part in this great event that had to transpire in the last days. Now these are facts that you cannot controvert, nor anybody else. You know that these things are true. What does it prove? That it is God's kingdom, he has introduced it, and as it was said in former times, "Ye are my witnesses," as well as the Holy Ghost that beareth witness of us. Now, then, could you have received this without the interposition of the Almighty and his Son Jesus Christ? No you could not. Could you have received it without the keys of the priesthood being restored and which some men affect to despise so much? No you could not. Hence we trace out the order of these institutions as they dwelt in the mind of God, and as they were made manifest among men. Have those elders that perform these ceremonies their weaknesses? Yes, just as much as Elder Pratt and I have our weaknesses. Have they their infirmities? Yes. Was it a rich treasure that was conferred upon us? Yes, but we received it in earthen vessels, surrounded with the infirmities of man. But God knew these infirmities; he was acquainted with all our weaknesses. Nevertheless, he conferred upon us this priesthood, this power, and this authority, and when we went forth in his name and by his authority, God sanctioned our acts. Is God with us while these things take place? I think so. What do you think about it? It is a principle that is clear, and plain and demonstrable.
Well, what next? Then we began to gather together. And why do we gather together? Some of us can hardly tell why, and I am often surprised when I read letters importuning us in regard to this matter. I get letters time and again praying that some means may be devised that the Saints may be delivered and gathered to Zion, and be enabled to live with the Saints of God. What is the reason of it? Why do they want to gather? Because there was a spirit and influence associated with this Church and this kingdom which led and propelled them to this action, and you who hear me have felt this influence; you felt a desire to gather, and you came, and those that are not here now feel as strong a desire to gather as you did. And when you have gathered, many of you think it is a curious kind of Zion, don't you? It is; for while the net gathers in the good, it brings all kinds as well, good and bad. We have some very good fish, and some very bad ones, and some a kind of half and half, and some feel like saying "Good Lord and good devil," as they do not know into whose hands they may fall. Nevertheless, this is the order, and the wheat and tares, I suppose, have got to grow together until the harvest comes, and that is not quite here yet, and hence we are jostling one against another, and some of us hardly know whether it is us or somebody else. Difficulties and trials beset us, and we are amazed. But we are here, and we are here according to the command of God and according to the operation of the Spirit of God that rests upon us, and did rest upon us, and led us here, and I was going to say, we are here because we could not help it.
He then branched off into
and said that the territory was an integral portion of the Union. He said some very good men lived here and some very bad men, and some men that were neither bad nor good.
Well, what next? Who are we, and what are we when we are here? Some good Latter-day Saints, and some, as I have said, half and half, some one thing and some another. But how do we stand in the position we occupy as a Church and as other people stand? We believe in God. We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in virtue, purity, holiness, integrity, honesty. We believe in good citizens and good Saints. We believe in keeping the commandments of God, and carrying out his purposes. We believe in spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We believe in gathering together the honest in heart. We believe in building temples and administering therein for the living and for the dead, and we believe in acting as saviors upon Mount Zion according to the word of the Lord. All these things and a great many more are leading principles which we as Saints profess to believe in. Well, we have a right to do that, although there are others who do not believe in those things. They have just as much right not to believe in our principles as we have to believe in them. And we sometimes feel angry and out of sorts with others because they do not believe as we do. Well, we do not believe as they do. Some of them think we are very foolish, very enthusiastic, very superstitious, and very wicked. Those that know us do not think we are so bad after all. We have our weaknesses and imperfections, yet we are quite as good as the balance of them, and a little better, and we ought to be, for we make great pretensions. But they think these things about us. They think we are deluded. Now the only difference between us and them is that we know they are superstitious and corrupt, and that they violate those laws they profess to believe in and those principles which they profess to be governed and guided by. But we have no right to expect everybody to submit to our doctrines, our views, our principles, it is a matter of free-will with them, and as I said they have just as much right to believe as they think proper and to worship as they choose as we have. These are some principles that are really correct. Well, they try to prevent us from worshipping as we believe? Now that is—what shall I call it? A doctrine of devils, it does not come from God, he is more free and generous in his feelings than that. He does not control the consciences of men nor force them to obey his behests; it is a matter of free grace, it is a matter of free will. Well, though they think they have a right to interfere with us, we do not think we have a right to interfere with them. And I do not think we do. There is a number of institutions here in this city, Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, etc., and I do not know how many more, quite a pile of them. If they think they are right I am quite willing they should think so. I do not wish to interfere with them. Who interferes with their building meeting houses? Who interferes with their worship? If there is anything of this sort I do not know of it; I hope I shall not know of it; I hope never to hear of such things. I believe that all men have the privilege of worshipping God according to the dictates of their own consciences and then I think we possess just the same right; and when they depart from this principle and wish to curtail us of our rights they are violating the spirit and genius of the institutions of our common country, and also those of the kingdom of heaven with which we are associated. They are also violating those good feelings that ought to exist between man and man, brother and brother, and they are interfering with things that in no wise belong to them.
The people of the rest of the country were our enemies. They did not understand us, we did not understand them. We should pray for them, but we must not yield to them. They think we are foolish and we think they are foolish. They think we are a pack of rascals, but we have the best of them, for we know they are a pack of rascals. We believe in honesty(?), morality, and parity(?) on freedom and loyalty to our country, but when they enact tyrannical laws, forbidding us the free exercise of our religion, we cannot submit.
Now then, here is the ground that we stand on in a religious capacity. If I can find a way and you can find a way, whereby we can approach our God and have him for our guide, our teacher and instructor, if they cannot do it, it is none of their business what we do. They have nothing to do with it, it is none of their business in any way whatever, and any interference is an interference with the legitimate rights and inherent principles that belong to humanity.
Well, so far as they stand on their platform and we on ours, they may be Methodists, they may be Presbyterians; all right. They may get up their revival meetings and think they are doing a great deal of good; all right, and so far as they teach good moral principles, and do not depart from truth, all right. So far as they obey the laws of the land, all right; we have nothing to do with them? Have you? Has the city? Has the Territory? No.
Well then, we will go a little further. By being here we become an integral part of the government of the United States, as a Territory. Very well. Here is another thing we are talking about. Is that the government of God? Not quite, but it is the government we are living under, and if they treat us right and extend to us any kindness we appreciate that. If they treat us wrong, we think it is not according to correct principles. We think as American citizens we ought to receive all the privileges equally with other people; we think we ought to be allowed to worship God according to the dictates of our consciences and be protected in our worship. So far, then, as I have said before, we are on a level. Now then, we are on the same ground in regard to political circumstances. We are under the United States, but the United States is not the kingdom of God. It does not profess to be under his rule, nor his government, nor his authority. Yet we are expected as citizens of the United States to keep the laws of the United States, and hence we are, as I said before, an integral part of the government. Very well, what is expected of us? That we observe its laws, that we conform to its usages, that we are governed by good and wholesome principles, that we maintain the laws in their integrity and that we sustain the government, and we ought to do it. But there is a principle here that I wish to speak about. God dictates in a great measure the affairs of the nations of the earth, their kingdoms and governments and rulers and those that hold dominion. He sets up one and pulls down another, according to his will. That is an old doctrine, but it is true to-day. Have we governors? have we a president of the United States? have we men in authority? Yes. Is it right to traduce their characters? No, it is not. Is it right for us to oppose them? No, it is not. Is it right for them to traduce us? No, it is not. Is it right for them to oppress us in any way? No, it is not. We ought to pray for these people, for those that are in authority, that they may be lead [led] in the right way, that they may be preserved from evil, that they may administer the government in righteousness, and that they may pursue a course that will receive the approbation of heaven. Well, what else? Then we ought to pray for ourselves that when any plans or contrivances or opposition to the law of God, to the Church and kingdom of God, or to his people, are introduced, and whenever we are sought to be made the victims of tyranny and oppression, that the hand of God may be over us and over them to paralyze their acts and protect us, for as it is written, the wrath of man shall praise him, the remainder of wrath shall he restrain.
God is greater than the United States, and when the government conflicts with heaven, we will be ranged under the banner of heaven and against the Government.
Now, we in Utah here are under the government of the United States; we are a very little portion of it. It is true we have our legislators, we have our probate judges, we have our marshals, constables, etc., we have our city charters etc., etc., and certain immunities and privileges of this kind. Well, shall we be governed by them? Yes. Shall we obey the law? Yes. Shall I as a citizen of this city obey the laws of this city? Yes. Shall I cause trouble or speak evil of the mayor or city council or any of the administrators of the law? No, I ought to pray for them that they may lead aright and administer justice equitably and act for the welfare and interest of the community wherein they live and for whom they operate. Am I a citizen of the United States? Yes, and I ought to feel the same toward them.
Well, now, there are some important points come in here. As I have said, we are a very small portion of this government. Now, do we wish to overthrow the government. I think not. I think we do not. Do we wish to cause them trouble? Not that I know of. I know we are accused of that; but it is not true. These statements are not correct. Our religion, however, differs from the religion of many others, and as I have said before, while they look for liberty to worship God as they please, they do not want us to possess the same privileges. There is nothing new in this; but because of this have they a right to interfere with the institutions of which we have become a part? Do not our legislators, our governors, and all men here swear fealty not only to the Territory, but to the United States, and say they will support the Constitution, laws, and institutions thereof? They do. This is the position we occupy. But we are placed in a peculiar position in some things. They—I was going to say in their wisdom, but I will say in their folly, and I hope they will excuse me, for I look upon it in that way—have passed certain laws trying to interfere with us in our operations in religious affairs. Well, we cannot help that. I told you a while ago—you believe me, this congregation believes me with very few exceptions—that God had introduced and instituted this Church, that he was the founder of it, that it emanated from him, the doctrines, ordinances, principles, government, priesthood, authority, and all that pertain to it emanated from him; we had nothing to do with it. Joseph Smith had nothing to do with it, only as a passive worker in the hands of the Lord. Brigham Young had nothing to do with it only acting in that capacity. I have nothing to do with it, nor my brethren of the Twelve. God revealed it. I cannot help it. Can you? Can any one? Now, then, this people have been received into this Church in the way that I have spoken of, and have actually received communication from God by the laying on of hands received the Holy Ghost, and have a hope within them blooming with immortality and eternal lives, and are in possession of a hope that enters within the veil whither Christ has gone. Can you uproot that from the minds of this people? No, no power on earth, no power in heaven nor all the combined nations of the earth can do it; God planted it there, man cannot take it away, and men are foolish in trying to attempt it. Very well. But they do try to interfere with us under a pretence that we are very wicked here. Well, it is enough to make a person laugh sometimes, when we think about these things, and enough to make us sorry when we know of the hypocrisy, lasciviousness, crime, murder, bloodshed that prevail in this nation and other nations, to hear them talk to us about our morality. We know when they talk in that way that they are hypocrites. We know that they know better when they tell these things to the world.
Now, then, the United States pass a law that a man shall not marry wives according to the order that God has revealed. Now it is a fact that we should like to obey the laws of the United States, if we could do it. If they could only tell us how to get out of the dilemma they have placed us in we should be very much obliged to them, we really should like to get out of it. But we have had no hand in either of these things. We had no hand in making the commandment that God has given to his people, and we have had no hand in making the law of the United States pertaining to these things. We feel very desirous of keeping the laws of the land if they would only let us; but we should pray our Father in heaven that he might preserve them from making laws that we cannot conscientiously keep without violating our consciences and transgressing the law of God. And if they do we shall be under the necessity of leaving them in the hands of God for him to deal with them as he may deem proper, and we will put our trust in the living God and risk the consequences let them be what they may.
The United States says we cannot marry more than one wife. God says different. We had no hand in the [?], Joseph Smith had no hand in it, Brigham Young had no hand in it, I had no hand in it. It was all the work of God and his laws must be obeyed. If the United States say different the Saints cannot obey it. We do not want to rebel against the United States - rebellion is not on the programme - but we will worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now, these are our feelings on this point. Is it well to tell these feelings? Yes. We want to be frank and open and candid and free from hypocrisy of every kind, and feel as though we were the children of our Father in heaven without guilt, without treachery, without fraud of any kind. Let us be sincere worshippers of God and believers in him and in his law. But do we propose to govern, interfere with, or rebel against the Government of the United States? No, we do not. That is not in the programme. Has God given us a law? Yes. All right we will get along and do the best we can, but we won't forsake our God. All who are willing to abide by the laws of God signify it by raising the right hand (unanimous vote). Now try and keep them. But will we fight against the United States? No, we will not. Well, how will these things be brought about? Don't you expect that the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ? Yes, I do, as much as I believe I am speaking to you and you are hearing me, and I not only believe it but know it. Well, now, how will that be brought about if you do not pitch in? We need not do this. There is plenty that will pitch in; there will be plenty of trouble by and by without our interference, when men begin to tear away one plank after another out of the platform of constitutional liberty; there will not be much to tie to. And how will you get along with them? We will leave them to get along with themselves. And how will that be? We are told the wicked shall slay the wicked, but says the Lord: "It is my business to take care of the Saints." God will stand by Israel, and Zion shall triumph and this work will go on until the kingdom is established and all nations bow to its standard.
We want to be friendly with the United States if the Government will let us, but not a jot or tittle of our rights will be given up to purchase(?) in
He said he would like the good God in Heavens to prevent them from making laws that we cannot keep, but when adulterers and libertines(?) pass a law forbidding polygamy, the Saints cannot obey it. Polygamy is a divine institution. It has been handed down from God. The United States cannot abolish it. No action on earth can prevent it, not all the nations of the earth combined! He said “I defy the United States, I will obey God, these are my sentiments and all of you who sympathize with me in this position will raise your right hands!”
Instantly every person in the hall raised a hand. The hands looked as thick as stars on a clear, frosty night. Mothers with innocent infants in their arms raised their little hands, thus pledging them to treason before they had ceased to feed from the maternal fount. The Prophet called for the negative and there was but one hand raised in favor of the law.
The Revelator smiled on his fellow Saints, a long, lingering, contented smile, and then raised his right hand with extended fingers and bending over hissed out these words “THERE WILL BE PLENTY OF PITCHING IN BY AND BY”
May God bless you, may he lead you in the path of light, is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
then he took his seat and
APOSTLE JOSEPH F SMITH
addressed the multitude…
You’ll notice that there is absolutely nothing about “be[ing] ranged under the banner of heaven against the Government.” There is no talk of “defy[ing] the United States.” Instead, he said, “But do we propose to govern, interfere with, or rebel against the Government of the United States? No, we do not. That is not in the programme…. But will we fight against the United States? No, we will not.”
In the notes at the back of the book where he gives credit, Krakauer says, “The quote attributed to John Taylor (from which the title of this book was drawn) came from an anonymously authored article… published in the Salt Lake Daily Tribune on January 6, 1880″ (page 376 in my paperback copy). He seems to realize that it wasn’t a real quote. And yet he used it for the title of the book. And the writers of the Hulu series not only continued with the name, but also had multiple characters repeat the whole sentence. Sadly, this is just one small example of things that are misrepresented in the mostly fictional mini-series. You can learn about more of them here.
Trevor Holyoak is the Vice President of FAIR. He has been actively involved with FAIR for many years and received the John Taylor Defender of the Faith Award in 2014. He graduated magna cum laude from Weber State University with a BS in computer science and now works as a programmer and systems administrator. He is currently serving as a stake emergency preparedness director and in the leadership of the Utah Valley Amateur Radio Club. He and his wife have five children and live in Cedar Hills, Utah.