Mormons were Anti-Slavery and Anti-Abolitionist

By: Mormon Heretic
July 18, 2011

Newell Bringhurst’s book Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People Within Mormonism is a fascinating look at the church’s relationship to black people from 1830 to 1980.  I wanted to share some impressions from the first few chapters.

Some people have incorrectly asserted that early Mormons were abolitionists.  Abolitionists were seen as radicals back then and favored the immediate release of all slaves.  Mormons, on the other hand, while not in favor of slavery, urged a more cautious approach.  Abolitionists were unpopular and often riots broke out at Abolitionist gatherings.

I think a modern-day equivalent would be abortion bombers.  Mormons are against abortion today, but we don’t support bombing abortion clinics.  People who would bomb a clinic are just too radical.  Mormons and other church groups of the day did not want to be associated with radical abolitionists.  Bringhurst notes on pages 20-21.

Mormon opposition to abolitionism was primarily motivated by a Latter-day Saint desire to avoid any and all identification with the abolitionist movement.  This desire, stemmed, in large part, from Mormonism’s presence in Kirtland, Ohio, on the Western Reserve.  This region was a hotbed of abolitionism during the 1830s.  Oberlin College, located near Kirtland, was the center for abolitionist actions through the Ohio Valley.36 Such abolitionist activity made Ohio the focal point of more antiabolitionist violence than any other state in the Union.

Because of their close proximity to such violence, the Ohio-based Saints were particularly anxious to avoid the abolitionists.  They worried about the parallels that non-Mormons might draw between themselves and the abolitionists…

The Mormons, in avoiding and condemning the abolitionists, were like other northern-based church groups during the 1830s.  The official Mormon antiabolitionist resolution of August 1835 was similar to declarations of other northern-based church groups.  The Methodists in their 1836 national convention adopted a resolution asserting that their members had “no right, wish, or intention to interfere with the civil and political relation as it exists between master and slave in the slave-holding states of this Union.”43 In a similar fashion, the Baptists, Presbyterians, and Catholics, in national meetings of their respective churches, avoided the issue of slavery and abolition.44 Even the Quakers, who had earlier pushed for gradual elimination of slavery withdrew from active participation in all antislavery movements and condemned abolition in general.45 Several interdenominational organizations, including the Bible, Home Missionary, and Tract Societies, also rejected involvement in the abolitionist movements.

Bringhurst notes that the Book of Mormon does not support slavery.  Alma 27:9 says “It is against the law of our brethren…that there should be any slaves among them.”  In 1833 Mormons became embroiled in controversy when WW Phelps published as article called “Free People of Color” in the church’s newspaper,Evening and Millenial Star.  Phelps wrote about “the wonderful events of this age much is doing towards abolishing slavery and colonizing the blacks in Africa.”

Non-mormons in Missouri, a slave state, were already suspicious of the massive influx of Mormons, and the Phelps article was the last straw. Despite Phelps’ attempt to minimize the damage by printing the following day that Mormons “had nothing to say…as to slaves”, a mob destroyed the printing press and ordered Mormons out of Jackson County Missouri in 1833.

Mormons were against slavery, and favored a more cautious approach to the issue than Abolitionists.  Joseph Smith’s presidential platform in 1844 felt money could be raised through the sale of public lands.  This money would be disbursed to slave-owners to free slaves.  In a previous blog post about Joseph Smith’s Presidential Platform, I quoted from Michael Quinn’s book called The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power page 119,

“On the slavery question, he advocated compensated emancipation through the sale of public lands.  To cope with resulting social stress, he advocated the relocation of the several million freed slaves to Texas.”

What do you make of the Mormon position back then?  What would Texas look like if Smith’s plan had been adopted?  Can you imagine U.S. history if Civil War had been avoided?

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63 Responses to Mormons were Anti-Slavery and Anti-Abolitionist

  1. shenpa on July 18, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    Interesting MH, I want to check out the book, thanks. I think the slavery issue in Mormonism is definitely something historical that we can be proud of, which is a nice contrast to some of the stuff like MMM and others.

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  2. Last Lemming on July 18, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    What would Texas look like if Smith’s plan had been adopted?

    It’s tempting to say “No George W. Bush. No Rick Perry.” But the reality is, the freed slaves would have been quickly forced onto reservations like the Indians, Texas would have developed pretty much as it did, and most of the blacks would have left (albeit many to Mexico).

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  3. mh on July 18, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    I think today, we consider ‘abolition’ as a good thing, so to hear that mormons were anti-abolition sounds strange at first. mormons were very moderate on the issue of slavery. the abolition movement won, but how many people died? surely there should have been a better solution than the deadly civil war.

    last lemming, that is an interesting point. I am sure you are right about a black reservation. while not ideal, it still sounds like a better solution than the civil war.

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  4. Steve on July 18, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    MH –

    Yes, it would have been nice to have avoided the Civil War.

    But, economic data indicates that slavery was becoming more and more profitable and that slaves contribution to the economy was crucial. That would indicate that buying slaves their freedom was not viable.

    If so, then moderate methods might never had led to freedom, only broad strokes like the what happened.

    What ifs are always interesting.

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  5. Morgan D on July 18, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    Absolutely great post MH! I’ve lost track of the number of people that conflate abolitionists with a moral opposition to slavery. You described the difference very well. They then take Smith’s statements that oppose abolition as evidence of his supposed racism when he was really just making the difference you did. Then to make it worse people call this kind of nuanced historical treatment “apologist tricks”.

    Again, great post.

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  6. djinn on July 18, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Mormons back in the day had very different beliefs on slavery, and some had slaves. There were three slaves on that iconic first trip to Salt Lake City with Brigham Young. Also, don’t forget that Utah came into the Union as a slave territory. So, all in all, more pro slavery than anti.

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  7. Will on July 18, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    “So, all in all, more pro slavery than anti.”

    What a crock of B.S. Total, absolute B.S.

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  8. Molly on July 18, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Will — crying “poppycock” isn’t a rebuttal.

    All in all, it *is* safe to say that the Mormon leadership was generally more pro-slavery than it was anti. If you are not openly opposed to human oppression than you are complicit in that oppression. Utah never imported large numbers of slaves and has never had a large black population, but the rhetoric coming from the majority of LDS leaders has been traditionally hostile to Black people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blacks_and_the_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints

    Brigham Young was pro-slavery and very anti-miscegenation to the point of advocating the death penalty through blood atonement for race mixing.

    The main reason blacks did not receive the priesthood until 1978 was that Spencer W. Kimball had to wait for Harold B. Lee to die. Lee was strongly opposed to blacks gaining admission to BYU and very much opposed to blacks gaining the priesthood.

    It’s not fair to paint all Mormons with the same brush. Views on this topic were and are diverse. But I do believe that it’s fair to say that Mormons maintained a separatist attitude for most of their history. They didn’t widely engage in slavery or directly engage in business practises based on slavery, but they certainly didn’t do black people any favours.

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  9. Will on July 18, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Molly,

    Your reference has two problems 1) it is Wikipedia. Seriously, you are quoting from Wikipedia. 2) The article quoted in no way suggests Mormon leader’s condoned slavery. In fact, in this article you quoted it quotes the D&C 101:79 “it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another”; and, it quotes the scripture in Mosiah referenced by MH.

    As for Brigham Young, he felt the Civil War was God’s punishment to an evil nation, with his attitudes pointed at the slave holders not the slaves. He may have had a negative attitude towards blacks, but in no way advocated slavery. With this said, I will again call Bravo Sierra on the claim the early leaders of the church were more pro-slavery than anti-slavery.
    I will stick with the scriptures on this one. Without having the chance to speak with these early leaders directly, I will say that revelation in the D&C was their guiding principle relating to slavery. I will grant them that judgment. I will give them that benefit of the doubt. They, after all, canonized and revealed these scriptures.

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  10. djinn on July 18, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Brigham Young spoke with Horace Greely, the US newspaperman in 1859 in an interview that was published in the Salt Lake and New York Tribunes. Here’s a bit:
    Horace Greeley: What is the position of your church with respect to slavery?

    Brigham Young: We consider it of divine institution and not to be abolished until the curse pronounced on Ham shall have been removed from his descendants.

    Horace Greeley: Are any slaves now held in this territory?

    Brigham Young: There are.

    Horace Greeley: Do your territorial laws uphold slavery?

    Brigham Young: These laws are printed; you can read for yourself. If slaves are brought here by those who owned them in the states, we do not favor their escape from the service of those owners.
    http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAbrigham.htm

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  11. djinn on July 18, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    In the compromise of 1850, Utah chose to become a slave territory. Got that? Utah could have been a free territory like California, but chose slavery. Slavery. That was the LDS church choosing slavery. You can read about it in any history book that covers the era; here’s the Wikipedia reference.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compromise_of_1850

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  12. Will on July 18, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    djinn,

    You are twisting facts the way you want them to be seen. It was a compromise. The compromise of 1850 was a political move to balance the free states from the slave states. It was a compromise to avoid Civil war or succession. New Mexico and Utah had NO intention of practicing slavery. None. They are both dry deserts with no land suitable for plantations. Both of these areas were petitioning the federal government for statehood. You are twisting facts. You are using this to suggest Brigham Young approved of slavery. You are suggesting he supported slavery. I don’t know for sure and neither do you. Again, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

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  13. djinn on July 18, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Will, Utah and New Mexico got to choose whether to be free territory or slave territories. They both chose “slave.” This is a part of the well-traveled historical record; plus, you’re ignoring Brigham Young’s also well-documented interview with Greeley where he states that slavery is a “divine institution not to be abolished until the curse pronounced on Ham shall have been removed from his descendants.” Seems undeniable that Brigham Young approved of slavery.

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  14. Mormon Heretic on July 18, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    Steve,

    I’ve heard economists claim that slavery would have ended on its own accord because the room and board was too expensive. I guess it’s a battle of economists. I’d be curious to find out some more hard data on the topic.

    Will, your comment 7 hardly added to the discussion. Please avoid pushing buttons here.

    Djinn, I think there is a bit more to the issue. The time period of this post addresses the Mormon position of slavery between 1830-1844. I think the evidence is pretty clear that Mormons did not like slavery. In my post on Joseph’s presidential platform, he said “Some two or three million people are held as slaves for life because the spirit in them is covered with a darker skin than ours.” I haven’t found any evidence of slaveholding prior to Joseph’s death. Perhaps there is evidence, but I am not aware of it, and I would be interested if someone could point me to that.

    Margaret Young in an interview said, “When someone asked Joseph Smith, what if this person wants to come to Nauvoo, but he wants to bring 50 slaves with him. The answer was ‘Tell him – Free his slaves, educate them, and then come and join us in Nauvoo.’” I think it’s pretty clear that prior to 1844, Mormons were quite anti-slavery, not pro.

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  15. Mormon Heretic on July 18, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    Now the period between 1844-1847 seems to be the transition point where the church seemed to change it’s tune on slavery (and the priesthood ban). I’ve previously documented 6 black Mormons who held the priesthood prior to 1847. Click here for more info. These issues were:

    (1) William McCary was ordained an Elder by Apostle Orson Hyde in October 1846. He was known as the “black prophet.” William was later excommunicated in 1847 for seducing a number of Mormon, white women into unauthorized polygamy.

    (2) Enoch Lewis’ 1846 married a white LDS woman, Mary Matilda Webster in Boston. They had a mixed-race child in 1847.

    As Djinn mentioned, Brigham Young was highly offended at the prospect of inter-racial marriage, and called for death for anyone that participated in such a marriage.

    Now, Brigham the apostle, was very different from Brigham the prophet. As apostle, Brigham was aware that

    Walker Lewis, and aware that Walker held the priesthood. Young claimed on this date that there is no race-based ban. The statement is “its nothing to do with the blood, for of one blood has God made all flesh. We have to repent [and] regain what we [h]av[e] lost. We [h]av[e] one of the best Elders–an African in Lowell [i.e. Walker Lewis].” By December 1847, he’s completely changed his mind. Now he calls for Enoch and Matilda Lewis and their mixed-race child to be killed for breaking “the law of God.”

    It is clear to me that William McCary and Enoch Lewis were HIGHLY influential in the priesthood ban, and Brigham’s subsequent statements on slavery. I have more to say, but not time for now. I’ll mention more later.

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  16. Steve on July 18, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    MH –

    The premier research in this area was “Time on the Cross” by Robert Fogel. Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/Time-Cross-Economics-American-Slavery/dp/0393312186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1311038907&sr=8-1

    His key findings were that slavery was profitable. For instance, slave farms produced 1/3 more than free farms. Slave owners had economic incentives to physically care for their slaves and they did. The book came out in 1974 but was updated in the 1990s.

    It was controversial but its findings are supported by the vast majority of research.

    The key is that economic viability meant that the South had no incentive to end slavery.

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  17. Will on July 18, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    “Djinn,

    “Will, Utah and New Mexico got to choose whether to be free territory or slave territories. They both chose “slave.”

    Yea, like the North Koreans get to choose Kim Young Ill. They were under immense pressure from the Federal Government to compromise – to balance the free states with the slave states. The feds were desperately trying to avoid succession and/or a Civil war. I maintain, Utah and New Mexico made the decision out of politics and not because they were truly in bed with the pro-slavery movement. My reasoning is supported by the fact that neither state turned into a major slave state/territory. In fact, neither state had much slavery at all.

    As for the news, the media then is just like the media now – bias, politically charged propaganda. Like the main stream media now, I have very little faith in what they say. In short, the media then has about as much credibility as the media now.

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  18. djinn on July 18, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Latter_Day_Saints'_Messenger_and_Advocate/Volume_2/Number_7/Letter_to_Oliver_Cowdery_from_Joseph_Smith,_Jr._(Apr._1836)

    That link is to a letter from Joseph Smith published in the Messenger and Advocate in April 1836 where he speaks out against abolition. Pro-slavery.

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  19. Stephen Marsh on July 18, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    Ah, Steve, two of my professors were the key econometric analysts who destroyed Time on the Cross as “premier research.” It is clear that when you have two inputs, punishment and reward, you will overuse punishment and underuse rewards.

    If I rely on rewards, I need to reward everyone. Punishment works out more readily.

    Any place where the frontier was open, slavery was not competitive.

    However, you are correct that slavery was profitable — in core areas where land was not readily available. Slavery in Kansas was far less profitable than slavery in Virginia.

    Over all, slavery created net economic losses because a slave is not a free actor in the economic marketplace. Yes, it created efficient plantations, because one extracted more labor from the labor. But it did so by restricting the freedom of labor to migrate.

    But you are right that the South, unlike other societies, did not have the same incentives to end slavery. But Fogel’s analysis falls apart in places.

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  20. Stephen Marsh on July 18, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    Djinn, so, if Joseph Smith preferred to buy slaves from their masters and release them rather than engage in a bloody civil war, in your mind that makes him pro-slavery?

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  21. Ray on July 18, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    djinn, as the post makes very clear, anti-abolition does not equal pro-slavery. Joseph was very clear that he didn’t approve of slavery; he just didn’t approve of the abolitionists of his time and their methods.
    Seriously, Joseph was about as anti-slavery as it was possible to get in his day.

    The abortion issue and the analogy of clinic bombers is a very good one. Just because someone opposes abortion doesn’t mean they support clinic bombers. Abolitionists weren’t “just” people who opposed slavery; they were people who advocated ending it by any means possible. Joseph agreed with ending slavery, but he didn’t advocate any means possible – especially when he believed there were non-violent options that could end it peacefully.

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  22. Stephen Marsh on July 18, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    Historian Herbert Gutman and others have rejected several of Fogel and Engerman conclusions task on variety of fronts.

    Gutman argued they relied on evidence from a single, unrepresentative plantation, and also noted the authors were extremely careless in their math, and often used the wrong measurement to estimate the harshness of slavery (for example, estimating the number of slaves whipped rather than how often each slave was whipped).

    Fogel and Engerman later acknowledged these criticisms in a later edition. In Slavery and the Numbers Game, Gutman argued that Fogel and Engerman also routinely ignored better, readily-available data.

    Gutman roundly criticized Fogel and Engerman on a host of other claims as well, including the lack of evidence for systematic and regular rewards and a failure to consider the effect public whipping would have on other slaves.

    A survey of economic historians . concludes that 48% “agreed” and another 24% “agreed with provisos” with Fogel and Engerman’s argument that “slave agriculture was efficient compared with free agriculture.”

    In addition, 23% “agreed” and 35% “agreed with provisos” with their argument that “the material (rather than psychological) conditions of the lives of slaves compared favorably with those of free industrial workers in the decades before the Civil War.” .

    My profs did not do the writing above, they merely did micro-economic analysis. Great material for any study of slavery, btw. Too bad Garston finally retired.

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  23. djinn on July 18, 2011 at 8:34 PM

    I found a great article on early Mormon slavery beliefs: https://dialoguejournal.com/2010/mormonisms-negro-doctrine-an-historical-overview/

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  24. djinn on July 18, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    Joseph Smith, at the link above:
    “All men are to be taught to repent; but we have no right to interfere with slaves contrary to the mind and will of their masters. In fact, it would be much better and more prudent, not to preach at all to slaves, until after their masters are converted: and then, teach the master to use them with kindness, remembering that they are accountable to God, and that servants are bound to serve their master, with singleness of heart, without murmuring.”

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  25. djinn on July 18, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    ray, it was actually possible to be an abolitionist in 1836. Joseph Smith wasn’t one. Here’s Oliver Cowdery in the same issue of Times and Seasons. He wasn’t big on abolition either. ” Let the blacks of the south be free, and our community is overrun with paupers, and a reckless mass of human beings, uncultivated, untaught and unaccustomed to provide for themselves the necessaries of life—endangering the chastity of every female who might by chance be found in our streets—our prisons filled with convicts, and the hangman wearied with executing the functions of his office! This must unavoidably be the case, every rational man must admit, who has ever travelled in the slave states, or we must open our houses, unfold our arms, and bid these degraded and degrading sons of Canaan, a hearty welcome and a free admittance to all we possess! A society of this nature, to us, is so intolerably degrading, that the bare reflection causes our feeling to recoil, and our hearts to revolt.”
    I have this theory that there are some fiction books out there badly misrepresent early mormon history. Hence, these misunderstandings.

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  26. Ray on July 18, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    “ray, it was actually possible to be an abolitionist in 1836.”

    Agreed.

    “Joseph Smith wasn’t one.”

    Agreed.

    I didn’t say anything to contradict either of those statements. I actually said both of them.

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  27. Steve on July 18, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    Stephen Marsh –

    I suspect we’ve been in some of the same circles. One of my professors did a critic of Fogel.

    I was using Fogel for the proposition that evidence indicated that slavery was not economically enviable in the South (as you noted above, that basic point is generally accepted). Thus, there was little incentive for the South to agree to a slave buyout. Therefore, more drastic action was required to end slavery.

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  28. Mormon Heretic on July 18, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    Steve, I’m not familiar with Fogel, and too cheap to buy the book. Since you mentioned the conclusions were not universally accepted, then I’d say there is still some room for disagreement. As I recall from my economics classes (years ago), it seems that automation would have made slavery unprofitable over time (how long???) But I think this is more conjecture than fact, and I think there is plenty of room to disagree either way on this point. Since this isn’t a topic I feel confident in, I’m not going to fall on my sword one way or the other. I agree with you that there was little incentive to end slavery at the start of the Civil War.

    Djinn, I don’t see Joseph Smith’s position of moderation as really that different from Lincoln. If Lincoln could have kept the Union together by keeping slavery, he would have done it. As much as it pains me to agree with Will, I believe there was a lot of political compromises going on. The balance of slave states in congress was very important. With California being admitted as a free state, Brigham knew well his chances to get admitted into the Union were much better if he went in as a slave state–Certainly he would have had support from southern Democrats. And once in the Union, Brigham was going to utilize the “states rights” position to keep polygamy legal. Since anti-polygamy advocates compared polygamy to “white slavery”, it was southern Democrats who actually came to the defense of polygamy.

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  29. Mormon Heretic on July 18, 2011 at 10:11 PM

    I haven’t mentioned Indian slavery either. Indians often captured each other during wars with each other. They were accustomed to selling these captured Indian slaves to Mexicans. Following the Mexican-American war, the Indians tried to sell slaves to the Mormons, who refused to take them and told them they didn’t like slavery. In one graphic incident,

    “Several of us were present when he took one of the children by the heels and dashed his brains out on the hard ground, after which he threw the body toward us telling us we had no hearts or we would have saved its life.”

    Incidents such as this led the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah on 7 March 1852 to pass an act legalizing Indian slavery. The purpose was to induce Mormons to buy Indian children who otherwise would have been abandoned or killed.9 It provided that Indian children under the proper conditions could be legally bound over to suitable guardians for a term of indenture not exceeding twenty years. The master was required to send Indian children between the ages of seven and sixteen years to school for a period of three months each year and was answerable to the probate judge for the treatment of these apprentices. As a result of this act, many Mormon families took small Indian children into their homes to protect them from slavery or from being left destitute. John D. Lee, for example, wrote in his journal about a group of Indians who “brought me two more girls for which I gave them two horses. I named the girls Annette and Elnora.”

    Negro slavery was also permitted in the territory, but the pioneers had passed no similar rules about the treatment of blacks, certainly [p.108] not the requirement that they be schooled. However, blacks were not permitted to be sold to others without their own consent.

    See this post for more details. So as sickening as slavery is, I feel that Brigham Young actually legalized slavery in Utah to save Indian lives. It’s too bad that he didn’t try to help blacks more, but he wasn’t as heartless as some make him out to be. For example, here is an encouraging note.

    Green Flake was a slave, and was baptized in 1844 in the Mississippi River by John Brown. (James Madison Flake was owner Green’s owner, and was given Green as a wedding present by James’ father. Green was age 10 at the time.) Brigham Young released Green from slavery in 1854. Green was the person to whom Brigham was speaking when Brigham said his famous quote, “This is the Place”. The actual quote was, “This is the right place. Move on.”

    So just 2 years after the act legalizing slavery, Brigham is “caught” freeing a slave. Don’t get me wrong, Brigham said lots of incendiary things that I hold my nose for, but he isn’t quite the devil that so many make him out to be either.

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  30. Will on July 18, 2011 at 10:50 PM

    “As much as it pains me to agree with Will….”

    WTH. Thanks a lot.

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  31. george on July 19, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    Can I just add something: it isn’t “succession”. It’s called (and spelled) secession. Its one of those things that bugs me… especially if you’re going to lambaste someone for using Wikipedia.

    PS… Wikipedia isn’t the cesspool it used to be. I actually thing its greatly improved over the last 2-3 years.

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  32. Stephen Marsh on July 19, 2011 at 5:41 AM

    “it seems that automation would have made slavery unprofitable over time (how long???)”

    Perhaps ten years from now … Slavery is alive and well in India and throughout a number of Arab states.

    Djinn did manage to catch Joseph Smith’s talk where he follows Paul (in the Bible) for an analysis of what to do on an individual case basis.

    Which of course intentionally misses the point about the overall position.

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  33. Will on July 19, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    George,

    Fair enough. English was never by best subject. Also, I do most of my comments from my Iphone, which provides the convenience, but lacks the word processor. With that confessed, it looks like you struggled with your P.S. comment – think, not thing.

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  34. djinn on July 19, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    The “mormons were anti-slavery” line in the OP isn’t sourced. My G-G-G grandpa (number of G’s may be off) had slaves in Nauvoo and brought them west with him which is how I found out about the issue. He was a friend of Joseph’s. Individual Mormons had different opinions, but Mormonism as such, was not anti-slave.

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  35. MH on July 19, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Djinn, the whole post comes from Newell Bringhurst’s book. The following paragraph from the OP is a paraphrase with some material quoted directly from the book:

    Bringhurst notes that the Book of Mormon does not support slavery. Alma 27:9 says “It is against the law of our brethren…that there should be any slaves among them.” In 1833 Mormons became embroiled in controversy when WW Phelps published as article called “Free People of Color” in the church’s newspaper,Evening and Millenial Star. Phelps wrote about “the wonderful events of this age much is doing towards abolishing slavery and colonizing the blacks in Africa.”

    This article led to pro-slavery advocates in Missouri to destroy the Mormon printing press. What kind of source are you looking for?

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  36. mh on July 19, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    djinn, let me add one more point that I think you are missing. the time period I am focusing on for this post is 1830-1844. most of the things you have referenced concerning brigham young come after this period. it is my contention that the mormon position evolved from a anti-slavery position to a more accepting position in the 1850s onward. I do think that mormons were ‘states rights’ proponents and did feel that a state should be able to choose slavery or not. this position seems similar to abraham lincoln’s position prior to the civil war.

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  37. mh on July 19, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    if you have information about slavery in nauvoo, I would be very interested to see it. could you email me at mormon heretic at gmail dot com? this is a topic that I am extremely interested in.

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  38. djinn on July 19, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Phelps wrote a follow-up article to the one written in July, 1833 , which you can see (partially) here in the most favorable possible write-up: http://www.fairlds.org/Misc/Blacks_and_the_Priesthood.html
    Here’s the beginning: “July 16, 1833. Having learned with extreme regret, that an article entitled, “Free People of Color,” in the last number of the Star has been misunderstood, we feel in duty to state, in this Extra, that our intention was not only to stop free people of color from emigrating to this state, but to prevent them from being admitted as members of the Church.” (History of the Church pg. 378).
    Why not just accept the history for what it is?

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  39. mh on July 19, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    that retraction was printed under duress and hostile conditions. why not accept history for what it is?

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  40. djinn on July 19, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    If the original letter had actually had anything abolitionist about it, I’d have to; but it didn’t. Plus, thanks for suckering me into thinking that you were interested in history.

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  41. djinn on July 19, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    I remain with my original view; a mixed history tipped more towards slavery (What were they doing in a slave state in Missouri?) than not. Take a gander at those references.

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  42. Ray on July 19, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    “Plus, thanks for suckering me into thinking that you were interested in history.”

    Fwiw, djinn, MH is extremely interested in history – and he has presented all kinds of non-traditional possibilities about lots of things dealing with Mormonism. It’s just that he tends to be quite comprehensive and doesn’t like to over-generalize when real complexity exists.

    “(What were they doing in a slave state in Missouri?)”

    That would take a dissertation to answer adequately, but suffice it to say that it had NOTHING to do with slavery in any way whatsoever – absolutely nothing. They started in OH (not a slave state), moved to MO (slave state), moved to IL (not a slave state), etc. There isn’t a pattern of habitation that leads to any reasonable slavery-related conclusion – either way.

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  43. djinn on July 19, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    OK, Ray, good point.

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  44. Mormon Heretic on July 19, 2011 at 10:23 PM

    Djnn, I don’t understand your statement about being suckered in. Seriously what are you talking about? Are you threatened that I don’t agree with you? I’m not sure why you’re getting into a huff, unless it’s because you feel like you’re losing the argument–that’s the only thing that makes any sense of why you feel “suckered in”.

    If the original letter had actually had anything abolitionist about it

    Ok, Djinn, the title of the post says “Mormons were Anti-Slavery and Anti-Abolitionist.” You seem to be ignoring the nuance here. I agree with you that the Phelps article is not strictly “abolitionist” (though it does mention “abolishing slavery”).

    Clearly, the Mormons opposed radical abolition–meaning immediate uncompensated release of all slaves. Bringhurst has well documented that fact. Mormons were working a more moderate approach to get rid of slavery. I’ve already referenced Joseph Smith’s presidential platform. Clearly Joseph was advocating a non-violent way to rid the nation of slavery–an admirable position, and one that would have spared the nation thousands of deaths if his proposal had been utilized.

    a mixed history tipped more towards slavery (What were they doing in a slave state in Missouri?) than not.

    Yes, I agree it is a mixed history–I have never denied that–it was mixed. But Mormons never practiced slavery in great numbers, and I dare you to show more than 100 or so slaves ever in the Utah territory. As has been mentioned previously, it wasn’t profitable, and Mormons generally weren’t in favor of it. There were some slaveholding apostles, but it was never practiced in great numbers. Brigham Young knew well that his chances of getting admitted to the Union were better as a slave state than a free state. Comparisons of polygamy to white slavery probably also made him a bit more comfortable to embrace slavery.

    I think you already know what Mormons were doing in a slave state of Missouri.

    They moved there because Independence was supposed to be the New Jerusalem. Joseph had revelations that they were supposed to move to Missouri. It was to be a land of Zion where (as WW Phelps alluded to among other things) Zion was to be the gathering place of “the wonderful events of this age much is doing towards abolishing slavery and colonizing the blacks in Africa.” Are you saying that Mormons moved to Missouri so they could become large slave owners? If so, how do you explain the destruction of the printing press if Mormons were so complimentary of slavery?

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  45. CJ Douglass on July 20, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    MH, the nuance and detail of the OP is refreshing. Ironically, djinn’s glossy arguments have a lot more in common with the “Mormons were all abolitionists” crowd.

    In other words: “I have a world-view that shapes the way I analyze history” – instead of the other way around.

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  46. djinn on July 22, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    D&C 134:12 written in 1835: “We believe it just to apreach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude.” I guess I just don’t get this fine, fine distinction you are making, balanced on a single quickly retracted pivot point by WW Phelps–scribe, composer; not apostle–between being anti-slavery and anti-abolitionist. They were fine with the status quo, overall, according to what evidence we have.

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  47. [...] I mentioned last week, between 1830-1844 under the direction of Joseph Smith, Mormons were Anti-Slave and Anti-Abolition.  However, under Brigham Young, Mormons developed a more pro-slavery position.  As we talk about [...]

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  48. MH on July 25, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    Yes, Djinn, I agree that you don’t seem to understand this “fine” point. You seem to ignore my questions in 44. Perhaps if you answered them, you might understand the distinction better. You might also appreciate the differences as noted in my latest post on the subject better.

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  49. djinn on July 26, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    Mormon Heretic, now you’re being disingenuous, as you asked me to email you. That’s what I was referring to, with the “suckered into” comment. As for my argument, please read what you wrote about Mormons practicing slavery. They did. Even in Utah. It’s doubtful after being anti-slavery they picked the habit up in the intermoutain west, especially as there were three slaves in Brigham Young’s pioneer journey (famous in song and story) to Utah. No, they were never anti-slavery to begin with. Sigh.

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  50. Ray on July 27, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    djinn, ????

    MH asked you to e-mail him, and then YOU posted a comment to this forum. How in the world is it disingenuous of him to respond here to something you posted here? I don’t understand that charge at all.

    As to, “they were never anti-slavery to begin wtih” — MH has stated multiple times that he is dealing with a time period prior to the move to Utah (during Joseph Smith’s lifetime) and has provided numerous examples of why they were BOTH anti-slavery AND anti-abolition at that time, but you keep focusing on examples from after the time period discussed in the OP. To say it as bluntly as I can, the Utah years have nothing whatsoever to do with this post.

    I guess my foundational question is pretty simple:

    Do you think it was possible from 1833-1844 for someone to be both anti-slavery and anti-abolition – or do you think that in order to be anti-slavery someone back then had to be an abolitionist?

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  51. mh on July 27, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    djinn, I asked you to email me about slavery in nauvoo. you emailed me an article from lester bush, and admitted that there was no slavery in nauvoo. since illinois was a free state, it would have been quite unusual for a slave to reside there. you admitted that abraham smoot held a slave, but that was after he left nauvoo.

    the lester bush article fully supports my position. as ray said, the period between 1830-1844, the mormons were anti-slave and anti-abolition and this is not the utah period. in the utah period (1847-1863), mormons were pro-slave. lester bush supports this position. you seem to think these positions (anti-slave and anti-abolition) are at odds with each other. I have outlined that mormons were looking for a moderate position. you have provided no evidence to the contrary, and in fact are trying to use lester bush to support your position when he really supports mine. you are the one who either doesn’t understand lester bush, or you are being disingenuous. I vote the former. read the bush article again. perhaps i should do a post on it?

    if lincoln could have kept the union together by keeping slavery, does that make lincoln pro-slave?

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  52. Ray on July 27, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    Not to totally derail this thread by introducing another controversial issue, but it’s much like the idea that someone can’t be BOTH pro-choice AND pro-life. It is possible to be both – as long as neither of the positions is at the extreme of the spectrum.

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  53. Jerry Smith on January 1, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    I thought that this might be interesting to the discussion. It deals with the issue following the death of Joseph Smith, and during the leadership of Brigham Young. The sources for the information are fairly complete.

    Robert Smith, a holder of a half dozen slaves, became a Mormon in 1844 in Mississippi. He travelled to Missouri with other slave-holding Mormons in 1847 to settle in the new Mormon colony in Utah. He continued on to the California Colony in 1851. California had outlawed slavery in 1850, although allowing those already in the State with slaves to continue to hold them. Many White immigrants feared that the introduction of slavery would challenge their personalized mining stakes, and establish large plantations that would compete against the small, family-held farming and ranching stakes. I believe that Mexico had outlawed slavery before this so that there were actually few slaves held by Hispanic Californios, and there were many emancipated slaves within the Los Angeles area. Robert Smith was eventually prosecuted for holding slaves, although it is reported that he claimed that the slaves were actually family (indeed many of the children may have been his, or his sons). Young apparently ordered that Smith and others release their slaves to prevent conflict between the Mormon community and the State. Reports within the Smith family are that Robert Smith was excommunicated for disobedience over this issue (and possibly interracial marriage), although he was buried in Mormon regalia in Bandera, Texas.

    http://www.answers.com/topic/biddy-mason

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  54. J.R. Holmes on October 9, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    If the Mormons were never abolitionists, then nothing could ever have been said either way because it would not have existed to discuss.

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  55. […] People of Color” and the expulsion of Mormons from Missouri based in part on their perceived anti-slavery stance. I talked about Joseph Smith’s presidential campaign and his anti-slavery platform as well as […]

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  56. grindael on December 13, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    If Mormons as a whole were “anti-slavery” then how did this (as noted above) get into the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, which was voted on as binding to the whole church (and was in force through the Nauvoo period and into the Utah period:

    12. We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them, contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with, or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men: interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every Government allowing human beings to be held in servitude. (Section CII. Of Governments and Laws in General.)

    This is a far cry from “anti-slavery”. It actually states that it is “unjust” (which means not morally right or fair to do so) in addition to unlawful, to interfere with slaves at all. Even preaching the Gospel to them, without permission from their masters. (Which apparently didn’t stop Paul from converting Onesimus, a slave of Philemon.) As for slavery, Joseph himself said in 1838,

    “Are the Mormons abolitionists?” No, unless delivering the people from priestcraft, and the priests from the power of Satan, should be considered abolition. But we do not believe in setting the negroes free (History of the Church, vol. 3, p. 29).

    How can this be construed as “anti-slavery”? Just because one does not have slaves, does not mean one is against slavery. In 1836 Joseph wrote this letter,

    “DEAR SIR: —This place (Kirtland) having recently been visited by a gentleman who advocated the principles or doctrines of those who are called ABOLITIONISTS, and his presence having created an interest in that subject, if you deem the following reflections of any service, or think they will have a tendency to correct the opinions of the Southern public,…you are at liberty to give them publicity… I FEAR that the sound might go out, that ‘an Abolitionist’ had held forth several times to this community,…all, except a very few, attended to their own vocations, and left the gentleman to hold forth his own arguments to nearly naked walls. I am aware that many, who PROFESS to preach the Gospel, complain against their brethren of the same faith, who reside in the South, and are ready to withdraw the hand of fellowship, because they will not renounce the principle of slavery, and raise their voice against every thing of the kind. This must be a tender point, and one which should call forth the candid reflections of all men, and more especially before they advance in an opposition calculated to lay waste the fair states of the South, and let loose upon the world a community of people, who might, peradventure, OVERRUN OUR COUNTRY, AND VIOLATE THE MOST SACRED PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN SOCIETY, CHASTITY AND VIRTUE…. I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall. “How any community can ever be excited with the CHATTER of such persons, boys and others, who are too indolent to obtain their living by honest industry, and are incapable of pursuing any occupation of a professional nature, is unaccountable to me; and when I see persons in the free states, signing documents against slavery, it is no less, in my mind, than an army of influence, and a DECLARATION OF HOSTILITIES, against the people of the South. What course can sooner divide our union? “After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject, I do not doubt, but those who have been forward in raising their voices against the South, will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling, unkind, and wholly unacquainted with the Gospel of Christ….the first mention we have of SLAVERY is found in the Holy Bible,… And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the DECREE OF JEHOVAH, to the shame and confusion of all who HAVE CRIED OUT against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in SERVITUDE…. I can say, the CURSE IS NOT YET TAKEN OFF FROM THE SONS OF CANAAN, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come; and the people who INTERFERE THE LEAST WITH THE PURPOSES OF GOD in this matter, will come under the LEAST CONDEMNATION BEFORE HIM; and those who are determined to pursue a course, which shows an opposition, and a feverish restlessness against the DECREES OF THE LORD, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do his own work, without the aid of those who are not dictated by His counsel.” (History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, Vol. 2, pages 436-438)

    Definitely against Abolitionists, but for slavery. When Joseph ran for President, he softened his views, which can absolutely be interpreted as political in nature. He still did not soften his views about intermarriage:

    Thursday, Feb[ruary] 8[th] 1844 [several lines left blank] Court trial on 2 negroes trying to marry white women. Fined 1, $25.00 and 1, $5.00. Evening had a political Meeting in the assembly room and Br[other] Phelps publicly read my views of the Gen[eral] Government for the first time. Elders Hyde and Taylor made a speech and myself also.(An American Prophet’s Record)

    And Joseph’s “equalization” plan? It would be dearly bought by any who were lucky enough to qualify for it:

    “On the annexation of Texas, some object. The anti-Mormons are good fellows. I say it in anticipation they will repent. {page 23} Object to Texas on account of slavery. Tis the very reason why she should be received.

    “Houston says, ‘Gentleman, if you refuse to receive us we must go to the British’ and the first thing they will do will be to set the negroes and indians [against us] and they will use us up. British officers running all over Texas to pick a quarrel with us[. It would be] more honorable for us [as a nation] to receive them and set the negroes free and use the negro and indians against our foes.

    [p.457] “Don’t let Texas go lest our Mother and the daughters of the land will laugh us {page 24} in the teeth. If these things are not so God never spoke by any prophet since the world began. I have been [... [discreet about what I know]] [several lines left blank] [ . . . [In the struggle between the north and the]] south, [if the south] held the balance of power &c. by annexing Texas[, this could still be remedied]. I can do away [with] this evil [and] liberate [the slaves in] 2 or 3 states and if that was not sufficient, call in Canada [to be annexed].

    Send the negroes to Texas [and] from Texas to Mexico where all colors are alike. Notice was given for the Relief Society to meet Saturday 2 P.M. to adopt “the voice of Innocence from Nauvoo” (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p.456-7)

    “Use the negro and indians against our foes”. Make them equal, but separate. Of course this would not really be equal if they were forced from American Society and restricted to a country of their own, would it? He even disses the Hispanics. This is ample proof that Joseph’s views about equalization were simply politics.

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  57. MH on December 13, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Grindael, did you read the OP? There is nothing there to contradict what you said. It was clearly stated,

    “Abolitionists were seen as radicals back then and favored the immediate release of all slaves. Mormons, on the other hand, while not in favor of slavery, urged a more cautious approach.”

    “On the slavery question, [Joseph Smith] advocated compensated emancipation through the sale of public lands. To cope with resulting social stress, he advocated the relocation of the several million freed slaves to Texas.”

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  58. grindael on December 13, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Yes I did read the OP, but it didn’t adequately explain what Joseph really wanted to do, which was to use those with a darker skin as canon fodder for the Texas War that never happened with England. Then, he would have shipped them not to Texas, but to Mexico, where they would supposedly feel right at home with other dark skinned people. This is not an equalization. The “compensation” was a pipe dream, most likely advocated because of politics. (It was also originally an Abolitionist idea, except the selling of public lands part).

    On the other hand, Joseph was consistent that blacks were the seed of Cain, that they were not to be amalgamated, and that they were to basically be gotten rid of. In 1843 Elijah Abel was told not to preach to white people, because they did not want him out in public doing so. He was never treated as an equal, but was just a “colored man” who felt badly used by those in authority, as the minutes of a Cincinnati Conference in June, 1843 show. Mormons WERE in favor of slavery. For many years. Did you not see the 1838 quote where Smith specifically said he was not for freeing the slaves? What changed? Joseph wanted to be President. The doctrine of Cain was already in place as far back as 1836, and no matter what Joseph felt about Abel personally, he still viewed his RACE as the seed of Cain, and that was reinforced with his 1842 publication of the Book of Abraham, which David O. McKay once said was the sole basis for the ban.

    Only eight months after Joseph’s death (before the 1847 troubles) this was published in the Times and Seasons:

    After the flood and after Ham had dishonored the holy priesthood, Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his younger son Ham, had done unto him. And, as the priesthood descended from father to son, he delivered the following curse and blessing, as translated by King James’ wise men and recorded in Genesis:

    “And he said, cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”

    “And he said, blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”

    “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”

    History and common observation show that these predictions have been fulfilled to the letter. The descendants of Ham, besides a black skin which has ever been a curse that has followed an apostate of the holy priesthood, as well as a black heart, have been servants to both Shem and Japheth, and the abolitionists are trying to make void the curse of God, but it will require more power than man possesses to counteract the decrees of eternal wisdom.

    Again Shem or his descendants were blessed with receiving the revelations, prophets, and Savior:-A blessing truly which even the most sagacious infidel has not been able to explain away.

    Again, Japheth has dwelt in Shem’s tent, both in the land of Canaan and in America; for “tents” is a figurative expression which in Hebrew, would signify the residence or abode.

    Now our short chapter will soon end, for the Savior said Jerusalem should be trodden down till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, and the very movement of every nation shows the eternal truth of the above quoted passage of scripture. It frustrates the designs of sectarians; it chokes the deists; astonishes the world, and delights the saints-Amen. (April 1, 1845, Vol. 6 No. 6, pg. 857)

    Where did that come from? Joseph Smith. Not all religious movements condemned the Abolitionists:

    Abolitionism had a strong religious base including Quakers, and people converted by the revivalist fervor of the Second Great Awakening, led by Charles Finney in the North in the 1830s. Belief in abolition contributed to the breaking away of some small denominations, such as the Free Methodist Church.

    You paint with too broad a stroke.

    Evangelical abolitionists founded some colleges, most notably Bates College in Maine and Oberlin College in Ohio. The well-established colleges, such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton, generally opposed abolition, although the movement did attract such figures as Yale president Noah Porter and Harvard president Thomas Hill.

    Likening the Abolitionist Movement to those who bomb clinics is extremely disingenuous. The only one who advocated violence was John Brown, who was hanged for it, in 1859 on the eve of the Civil War.

    Historian Frederick Blue called John Brown “the most controversial of all nineteenth-century Americans.” When Brown was hanged after his attempt to start a slave rebellion in 1859, church bells rang, minute guns were fired, large memorial meetings took place throughout the North, and famous writers such as Henry David Thoreau joined many Northerners in praising Brown. Whereas Garrison was a pacifist, Brown resorted to violence. Historians agree he played a major role in starting the war. Some historians regard Brown as a crazed lunatic while David S. Reynolds hails him as the man who “killed slavery, sparked the civil war, and seeded civil rights.” For Ken Chowder he is “the father of American terrorism.”

    Abolitionists included those who joined the American Anti-Slavery Society or its auxiliary groups in the 1830s and 1840s as the movement fragmented. The fragmented anti-slavery movement included groups such as the Liberty Party; the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; the American Missionary Association; and the Church Anti-Slavery Society. Historians traditionally distinguish between moderate antislavery reformers or gradualists, who concentrated on stopping the spread of slavery, and radical abolitionists or immediatists, whose demands for unconditional emancipation often merged with a concern for black civil rights. http://www.geni.com/projects/American-Abolitionist-Movement/619

    Not all considered Abolitionists radicals. The Abolitionists were the ones who were murdered, their presses trashed and persecuted. But their movement continued to gain support as they focused on what the Constitution actually said, that all men were equal. Bombing clinics has always been considered terrorism (as Brown’s actions were) but the difference is that only radicals side with the bombers in America, while this is not true of the Abolitionists (who were pacifists) which became the public’s solution to the slave problem. Bombing clinics will never be accepted by mainstream America.

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  59. Mormon Heretic on December 13, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    I’m not clear what you are arguing. Joseph Smith sent Lyman Wight to Texas to see if Mormons should move there. Lyman liked it so much, he stayed and established his own church.

    You mentioned John brown as the only one to advocate violence. Ever heard of the civil war? Many were much more violent than John brown. I really don’t understand what you are arguing for. Kansas was full of violence as slavery advocates killed abolitionists. I don’t think we disagree on the facts nearly as much as the interpretation, and I’m unclear what you are passionately advocating.

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  60. grindael on December 14, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    Hi MH. I’m just advocating clarity and not broad brushing the issues. And its funny that Lincoln was initially NOT for abolitionism, yet got us into the Civil War, don’t you think? You can’t put all the Abolitionist eggs in one basket. There were many, many aspects of it. While Bringhurst gave us a groundbreaking article, the quote you use broadbrushes way too much to side with the Mormons. ALL Quakers did not abandon abolitionism. This is what Bringhurst is implying with his quote. (The Quakers actually began to withdraw from all movements that had to do with Government – so putting it that way is disingenuous). Some Quakers actually denounced other Quakers who were Abolitionists. http://www.atyourlibrary.org/culture/new-book-sheds-light-quakers-role-abolition-movement

    As for Texas, Yes, Joseph did send people out “west”, looking for an escape route out of the mess he made for himself in Nauvoo. That wasn’t the only reason, of course, because Joseph had prophesied that there would be only ONE gathering place, and that was Missouri. He had initially included Kirtland, but then changed that. Read what Mary Fielding wrote to her sister in 1837:

    Some important things were shown to Brother Joseph in vision previous to his going off relative to the enlargement of our borders which has indeed become indispensably necessary for the inhabitants of Zion both here and in the west are crying the cities are too strait for us give place that we may dwell. The people are crowding in from all parts and as President Rigdon said in his last discourse here they will gather and earth and hell combined cannot hinder them for gather they will. Hence the necessity of planting new stakes which they received a command to do before they left and it is expected that after they have set in order the Church in the west they will fix upon 11 new stakes before they return but this is not spoken of in public for reasons you will be aware of. If this were generally known it would probably make there way much more difficult. [Mary Fielding Smith, October 7, 1837, LDS Archives.]

    But Joseph had changed his concept of Zion after he failed to “redeem” it in 1834 and the date of its redemption which he got from the Lord (September 11, 1836) came and went. But Joseph had stated in prophecy that only Missouri was Zion before this time:

    And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away, before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquakes will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country. The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requisitions of the new covenant, have already commenced gathering together to Zion, which is in the State of Missouri; therefore I declare unto you the warning which the Lord has commanded me to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my Maker are upon me, and that to him I am accountable for every word I say, wishing nothing worse to my fellow men than their eternal salvation; therefore, “fear God and give glory to him for the hour of his judgment is come”-Repent ye, repent ye, and embrace the everlasting covenant, and flee to Zion before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled. (Letter to NE Saxton, 1833)

    After the 1836 date came and went, then Joseph began to talk about ’12 Stakes’, as shown by Mary Fielding’s 1837 letter, because they knew by that time they were never going to get back into Jackson County. By 1840 Joseph was saying,

    Afterwards read the parable of the 12 olive trees 2 and said speaking of the Land of Zion that It consists of all N. & S America but that any place where the Saints gather is Zion which every righteous man will build up for a place of safety for his children that The olive trees are 12 stakes which are yet to be built not the Temple in Jackson as some suppose for while the 12 olive stakes are being built we will be at peace but the Nations of the Earth will be at war.

    This is not what he wrote in 1833, in fact, it is exactly the opposite. Then Joseph prophesied,

    I prophecy in the name of the Lord that the state of Illinois shall become a great mountain and mighty mountain as city set upon a hill that cannot be hid and a great that giveth light to the world and The city of Nauvoo als[o] shall become the greatest city in the whole world.

    Once again, this was not to be. With Nauvoo about to fall, Joseph began sending out emissaries to the west to “build up stakes”. The Council of Fifty was not organized until March of 1844, because,

    The Council of Fifty was also designed to govern the political “Kingdom of God” on earth at the end of the world. A shadow government for the city of Nauvoo, the Council of Fifty planned strategy and finances, provided bodyguards for church leaders, dealt with enemies, secured obedience to church directives, and planned for the growth of the kingdom. Its members were “princes in the Kingdom of God.”63 Clayton writes that on April 11, 1844, Joseph Smith was ordained “King in the Kingdom of God”; Clayton was appointed “Clerk of the Kingdom.” The council planned Joseph Smith’s campaign for the United States presidency in 1844. It took responsibility for the political and economic development of Nauvoo and later of Salt Lake City until it was replaced by the “State of Deseret” which was formed in 1849.

    By 1844 Smith knew that his sovereign theocracy was becoming increasingly incompatible with the state of Illinois. Rumors of polygamy were circulating and inciting public outrage. Antipathy toward Mormon plural marriage would eventually be expressed in the 1856 Republican platform in a plank to eradicate the “twin [p.xxxiv] relics of barbarism,” slavery and polygamy. But in 1844 Joseph Smith’s most serious problems came from insiders. (George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, p.xxxiii)

    This was when Joseph began sending out men to scout for a new gathering place for the church. Again, G. D. Smith,

    As a member of the Council of Fifty and keeper of its records, Clayton witnessed each step in the planning and preparation for the pioneer trek to the Great Salt Lake Valley. He recorded their meetings throughout 1845 when the council expressed interest in alternative westward relocation sites: on February 14 and March 1 they discussed Texas; on March 4 and August 31, Oregon; on April 15 and August 28, California. Brigham Young’s plan on August 28, 1845 to send 3,000 men to Upper California that next spring was later revised; he chose the Great Salt Lake Valley as their specific destination.

    There was no “set” destination at that time, so yes, Texas was one place, but that didn’t mean that Joseph planned to move there. My comments were clear, Joseph wanted to send the blacks to Mexico and not emancipate them in America, but send them off somewhere. He was only “anti slavery” as it was politically expedient for him. Just six years earlier he was emphatic that he was not for freeing the slaves. The title of your OP, that Mormons were “Anti-Slavery”, is totally misleading and inaccurate, and your characterizations about Abolitionists are also inaccurate, even if the Mormons (because of perceived conflicts) disliked some who claimed to be Abolitionists.

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  61. grindael on December 14, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    I wish to clarify one of my statements, Joseph Smith did plan on settling the Saints in Texas if he could, I meant that it would not be the ONLY location for the Saints, as Lyman Wight wanted it to be. Sorry for not making that clear.

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  62. MH on December 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Grindael, you are bringing up a lot of long-winded comments, and I fail to understand what they have to do with the OP. You are welcome to believe what you want. I stand by what I have written.

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  63. grindael on January 9, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    Long winded comments that you have not addressed. Good luck!

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