A Young Folks' History of the Church
Presidency Of Wilford Woodruff
At the April conference, 1889, the First Presidency was again organized. Wilford
Woodruff was chosen president and he called the former counselors to act also with him.
President Woodruff was eighty-two years old when this high calling was placed upon
him, but he was still quite strong and active. His life had been devoted to God and his
cause. He joined the Church in 1833, so you see he had been with it from the beginning.
He had been an Apostle for fifty years. It will give you an idea of how busy President
Woodruff had been when you are told that from 1834 to 1895 he had traveled through
twenty-eight States of the Union, three of the countries of Europe, and six islands of the
sea. He had held 7,555 meetings, preached 3,526 discourses, organized fifty-one branches
of the Church, besides doing a great deal of other work in the Church.
President George Q. Cannon, first counselor in the presidency, came with his father's
family from England to Nauvoo in the year 1842, and from that time had been an active
worker in the Church. In 1850 he, in company with other missionaries, went to the
Sandwich Islands. Here Elder Cannon translated the Book of Mormon into the native
language, and sometime after he had it printed. He labored as an editor and a publisher of
Church papers in San Francisco, in Liverpool, and at home with the Deseret News. In
1860 he was ordained an Apostle. In 1866 he began to publish the Juvenile Instructor. He
spent many years in Washington as delegate from Utah. President Cannon was the
General Superintendent of Sunday Schools to the time of his death.
The second counselor in the presidency, Joseph F. Smith, was born November 13, 1838,
in Far West, Missouri, a few days after the time when his father Hyrum Smith was taken
by the mob and ordered to be shot. As a nine-year-old boy he drove his mother's yoke of
cattle across the plains with an emigrant train. President Smith has filled many missions
to Europe, to the Sandwich Islands and to various parts of the United States.
He was ordained as one of the Twelve Apostles July 1, 1866.
During the first few years that Wilford Woodruff was president of the Church, the
persecution against those who had more than one family continued to rage; yet the
enemies of the Saints were not satisfied. Though many of the people had been deprived
of the right to vote and hold office, yet there were enough left to outvote the anti-
"Mormons," many of whom were eager to get into some office. These kept urging
Congress to pass other laws against the "Mormons," and at last a number of bills were
introduced in Congress for the purpose of disfranchising the "Mormons," that is, taking
away from them the right to vote and to hold public office.
During all this trouble the authorities of the Church were asking the Lord to show them
the right thing to do. In answer to these pleadings, the Lord inspired President Woodruff
to issue what is called the manifesto. In this document President Woodruff, among other
"Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which
laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my
intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the
Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.