A Young Folks' History of the Church HTML version
Those who did not understand the true nature of "Mormonism" thought that at the death
of Brigham Young, the Church would go to pieces; but they soon found out that the work
of God does not depend on any one man. The Twelve again became the leading quorum
in the Church, with John Taylor at its head. Three years after the death of President
Young, October 10, 1880, the First Presidency was again organized. John Taylor became
President, and he chose George Q. Cannon as first and Joseph F. Smith as second
President Taylor was seventy-two years old at this time. He had been with the Church
nearly from the beginning, having been an Apostle for forty-two years. He had filled
many missions both in the United States and in Europe, had written much on gospel
subjects, and was in reality as some called him, the "Champion of Liberty." You will
remember that he was with Joseph and Hyrum at the time of their martyrdom in Carthage
jail and was then severely wounded.
The year 1880 was the jubilee year of the Church, being fifty years since it was
organized. As was the custom in ancient Israel, it was a time of forgiveness. The Church
remitted many debts of the poor, besides giving them many sheep and cattle. "While God
is blessing us, let us bless one another," said President Taylor; and thus much good
feeling was manifested among the Saints.
But another storm was coming. A trial of another kind was in store for the Church.
In the days of Nauvoo, in 1843, Joseph the Prophet had received a revelation from God,
saying that it was right for good men holding the priesthood to have more wives than one.
By the time the Church had been in Utah a few years, quite a number of the Saints had
obeyed this law and entered plural marriage. The enemies of the Church call this practice
a great sin, even though they can read in the Bible that good men of old whom the Lord
loved had many wives. In 1862 Congress passed a law against plural marriage or
polygamy. As many thought it was an unjust law, it was not enforced for many years.
Elder George Reynolds offered to be arrested and tried under the law in order to have it
tested. This was done, and Elder Reynolds was convicted and sent to prison. His case was
taken to the Supreme Court of the United States where the law was decided to be
But this law was not hard enough on the "Mormons" to suit their enemies. Sectarian
preachers and politicians who wanted some office began to spread falsehoods all over the
country about Utah and its people, all of which had its effect on Congress.
Notwithstanding the protest of the "Mormons," another law was passed against them,
(March, 1882), called the Edmunds Act. This law provided that no polygamist should
vote or hold office; and if found guilty of polygamy a man might be fined five hundred
dollars and put in prison for three years. If a man lived with more than one wife, he could
be fined three hundred dollars and imprisoned for six months.
Officers were now sent to Utah to enforce this law, and what is called the "Crusade"
began in earnest. "Mormons" were not allowed to sit on juries or have anything to do
with the courts, so it was an easy matter to convict all "Mormons" who came to trial.