A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview

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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 things, said:

"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."... And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land."

At the general conference of the Church held October 6, 1890, President Woodruff's action was sustained by the vote of the conference.

The enemies of the Church now had no excuse for their persecutions, so, after a time, peace came once more. The two political parties, the "Liberal" and "People's" which had been for many years fighting each other at the polls, now disbanded, and "Mormons" and non-"Mormons" joined either the Democratic or the Republican party.

In 1893 the great World's Fair was held in Chicago. In September of that year the Tabernacle choir of Salt Lake City, led by Evan Stephens, went to Chicago, accompanied by the first presidency and others. The choir gave concerts in some of the large cities on the way, and at Chicago carried off the second prize of one thousand dollars for the best singing.

During the World's Fair there was held what was called a Parliament of Religions. Meetings were convened where people of all religions were invited to speak and tell of their beliefs. Men came from every part of the world. There were Catholics and Protestants; there were followers of Brahma and Buddha from India; there were Greeks and Mohammedans; there were Japanese, Chinese, and negroes—but, among them all there was one religion and one church lacking, and that was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It had not been invited, and when Elder B.H. Roberts was sent to Chicago to get a hearing for the Church of Christ, he was treated in an ungentlemanly manner and was not allowed to properly present the claims and doctrines of the Church. The Savior once said: "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake." May we not draw a great lesson from all this?

On January 4, 1896, President Grover Cleveland signed the paper which admitted Utah into the Union as a state. Celebrations in honor of the event were held in all the towns and cities of the State.

Fifty years from the time the pioneers entered Salt Lake Valley, July 24th,  1897, a grand celebration was held in Salt Lake City to honor the event.

This celebration began Tuesday, July 20, 1897, and closed on the night of Saturday 24th.  On the 20th the Pioneer Monument, which is surmounted by a bronze statue of President Brigham Young, and situated near the Southeast corner of the Temple block, Salt Lake City, was dedicated by President Wilford Woodruff. The same day, at a reception held in the Tabernacle, all surviving pioneers of 1847, were presented with a golden badge. Memorial services in honor of the deceased pioneers were held in the Tabernacle on Sunday 25th.

When the war with Spain broke out the next year, a call was made on Utah for five hundred volunteers. Utah's young men, many of them sons of the pioneers and old settlers, heeded the call, and the men were promptly raised and sent to the seat of war.

President Wilford Woodruff while on a visit to the Pacific coast, took suddenly ill and died in San Francisco, September 2, 1898.

Topics.—1. Wilford Woodruff. 2. George Q. Cannon. 3. Joseph F. Smith. 4. The "Manifesto." 5. The Parliament of Religions. 6. Death of President Woodruff.

Questions and Review.1. Who constituted the fourth First Presidency of the Church? 2. Tell something of President Woodruff. 3. Name some positions President Cannon has held. 4. Tell about President Smith's boyhood. 5. What further laws did the enemies of the "Mormons" wish passed against them? 6. What is the "manifesto?" 7. How came it to be issued? 8. When was it accepted. 9. Tell about the Tabernacle choir's trip to Chicago. 10. What was the Parliament of Religions? 11. How was the Church treated in that body? 12. Give some reasons for this treatment. 13. When was Utah admitted as a state? 14. Tell about the Utah volunteers. 15. When and where did President Woodruff die?