Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Use of sources/Attitude of Saints to Civil War prophecy

Attitude of Saints toward Civil War prophecy


A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods
A work by author: Richard Abanes

Author's Claims


One Nation under Gods, page 270 (hardback and paperback)

The book asserts:

"Because the Saints saw the Civil War as a fulfillment of prophecy, its horrors actually brought them some degree of emotional satisfaction and comfort."

(no reference given)

The Saints saw the Civil War:

  • as prophesied by Joseph Smith
  • as God's just punishment for the nation who had allowed them to be repeatedly driven and dispossessed without protecting their freedom of religion or property
  • as poetic justice for those who had appealed to states' rights to allow the persecution of the Saints to go unredressed.
  • as a consequence of wickedness among the American nation, and the spirit of the Lord being withdrawn from striving with them.
  • as a sad and tragic event which they had sought to change, but which could not be averted because of a refusal for the nation to heed ample prophetic warnings given over an extended period.

The following quotations from the Journal of Discourses demonstrate how the Saints saw the Civil War and strife that preceded it, as well as the reasons for it (emphasis added in all cases).

1850s

  • Let me tell you that ten years will not pass away before God will play with this nation as he did with Pharaoh, only worse. (Heber C. Kimball, September 20, 1857. Journal of Discourses 5:254)
  • The day is not far distant when nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and State against State, and there will be sorrow such as never was among men. Watch the signs of the times, for we are living in an important age. The prophecies relating to our time are rolling in upon us. Are we prepared to meet them? It is important for men and angels to note the events of this age . . . The nation does not know what they are doing, not comprehend the fearful results of the course they are pursuing. They are turning the last key to rend the nation asunder . . . (Wilford Woodruff, December 6, 1857. Journal of Discourses 6:120)

1860

  • Brother Hyde spoke of a revelation . . . in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. That revelation was reserved at that time; the compilation for that book was made by Oliver Cowdery and others, in Kirtland. It was not wisdom to publish it to the world, and it remained in the private escritoire. Brother Joseph had that revelation concerning this nation at a time when the brethren were reflecting and reasoning with regard to African slavery on this continent, and the slavery of the children of men throughout the world. (Brigham Young, May 20, 1860. Journal of Discourses 8:58)
  • What will be their condition when the Spirit of the Lord is withdrawn? They will whet the knife to cut each other's throats, and . . . try to make Mason and Dickson's [sic] the dividing line; but that will not remain, for they will cross it to destroy each other, and the sword and fire will be prevalent in the land . . . The world, and particularly the United States, have been told these things during thirty years past. (Brigham Young, August 19, 1860. Journal of Discourses 8:147-148)
  • When a few more Conferences shall have been held by this people, compare the coming history of nations with this my testimony, and you will be satisfied that I now tell you the truth. The liberty of the Gospel, with your indulgence, will allow me to give some political matters a passing and respectful notice . . . On the 25th day of December, 1832, the Lord spoke to Joseph Smith . . . The Democratic party found it necessary to call a convention of delegates to nominate a successor to President Buchanan. No place but Charleston, South Carolina, could be agreed upon as the place for that body to assemble in. A most unlikely place, indeed!—entirely out of the political centre—a small town of about twenty or twenty-five thousand white inhabitants, accommodations very limited for such a body of men, and at a half-dozen prices. But to South Carolina they must go; for the prophecy, twenty-seven years before, said that the serious troubles of the land should begin at that place. The Democratic party of administration fell upon that stone of present revelation, and, according to our Saviour's words, they must be broken. They had to go to Charleston to break. They did go there, and there they did break into several pieces—split asunder. It was said by the ancient Prophet—"Out of Egypt have I called my son." Joseph and Mary took the young child by night and fled into Egypt to elude the cruelty of Herod, and God called his son out of Egypt. It was necessary, equally, that the Democratic party go to South Carolina, being urged there by a silent prophetic influence; and though they had hearts to understand, they understood it not. They had eyes to see, but they saw it not. There they broke—there the trouble began, "which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls." (Orson Hyde, October 7, 1860. Journal of Discourses 8:233)

1861

Mormon appeals for federal intervention in the Missouri persecutions were answered in terms of the inability to interfere with "states’ rights." Mormons couldn’t help noting that the nation now had all the "states’ rights" issues it could ever want:

When our people applied to the Government to compel the State of Missouri to restore us to our lands, they pretended they could not interfere with a sovereign State; and, as a reward for their conduct, they have now got State's sovereignty to their heart's content; and this will continue to be poured back upon them: they will have to walk in the road which they laid out for us, and that which they would have put upon us is now fast coming upon their own heads. (Daniel H. Wells, April 6, 1861. Journal of Discourses 8:374)

On the approaching US Presidential election:

  • King James [i.e. James Buchanan, the incumbent President, who had launched the Utah War against the Saints] is not so prompt now as he was three years ago, when he sent troops to Utah. South Carolina comes out and boldly declares her secession from the compact of States, and takes possession of all the public property within her borders, except Fort Sumter. There is no Latter-day Saint engaged in this act. One of the most contemptible of characters we ever had here could swear falsely in Washington, and the Government could receive his oath, and make it a basis, with other lies, of sending an army here. William Drummond went to Washington and swore that we were treasoners, and to many palpable falsehoods; and King James could act upon that and send an army here at an expense of, probably, fifty million dollars. Says King James—"Those lies are true." "What! receive a lie?" Yes, go and swear to a lie, and the Government can hear that and act upon it. But when South Carolina takes possession of the public funds, of the custom-house, of the arms, arsenal, dock-yards, forts, cannon, &c.,—"You must not coerce. Do not infringe upon them: they have the right to do this." What a reign is the reign of King James! It is enough to astound and throw into the shade the wisdom of all nations upon the earth! What will King Abraham [i.e., Lincoln, the Republican candidate for President] do? I do not know, neither do I care. It is no difference what he does or what any of them do. Why? God will accomplish his own purposes, and they may do or not do; they may take the road that leads to the right, or they may take the road that leads to the left; and whichever road they do take, they will wish they had taken the other. King James pledged himself, at Cincinnati, that on his election to the presidential chair he would take the Island of Cuba, annex a portion of Mexico, and so obliterate the "Mormons," that "Mormonism" should not be known at the end of his reign. These three things he pledged himself to his party to do.(Brigham Young, February 10, 1861. Journal of Discourses 8:323)

1862

  • The wedge to divide the Union was entered in South Carolina, and all the power of the Government could not prevent it. The Lord spoke to Joseph Smith, on the 25th day of December, 1832, as follows:—"Verily thus saith the Lord, concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls. The days will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at that place; for, behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations" (Brigham Young, August 31, 1862. Journal of Discourses 9:367)

1864

This account refers to sermons Joseph Smith gave to packed churches in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia where he foretold pending states’ rights issues for America:

The war now raging in our nation is in the providence of God, and was told us years and years ago by the Prophet Joseph; and what we are now coming to was foreseen by him, and no power can hinder . . . It is distressing to see the condition our nation is in, but I cannot help it. Who can? The people en masse, by turning to God, and ceasing to do wickedly, ceasing to persecute the honest and the truth-lover. If they had done that thirty years ago, it would have been better for them to-day. When we appealed to the government of our nation for justice, the answer was:—"Your cause is just, but we have no power." Did not Joseph Smith tell them in Washington and Philadelphia, that the time would come when their State rights would be trampled upon? (Brigham Young, May 15, 1864. Journal of Discourses 10:294, 295)

1865

On Sunday, Sept. 24, there were regular church services at the Bowery in this city, where the Summer worship is conducted, and the congregation ranges from 3,000 to 6,000…. In the afternoon I found the Bowery densely crowded…. Nearly all Mormons of capacity are sent, sooner or later, to some foreign country, to preach the Gospel of the Latter-Day Saints. The first speaker this afternoon was Elder J. W. Byrd…. ‘He was glad to return to their mountain home. He had tried to do his duty faithfully…. At first every one asked him about the great American War, which had now ended, or rather, ceased for a time…. Thirty years ago Brother Joseph Smith predicted that war would begin in South Caroline and spread throughout the world as a punishment for its wickedness.’ (New York Daily Tribune Friday, 10 November 1865)

1866-1869

Now I am aware that it is almost impossible for even some of the Latter-day Saints to get that confidence and that strong faith in the events which God intends to accomplish on this land in the future to believe in such a thing, to say nothing about outsiders, that do not believe a word of it. Outsiders do not believe it any more than they believed me when I was a boy and took that revelation which was given in 1832, and carried it forth among many towns and cities and told them there was to be a great and terrible war between the North and the South, and read to them the revelation. Did they believe it? Would they consider that there was any truth in it? Not in the least, "that is a Mormon humbug" they would say. "What! this great and powerful nation of ours to be divided one part against the other and many hundreds of thousands of souls to be destroyed by civil wars!" Not a word of it would they believe. They do not believe what is still in the future. (Orson Pratt, December 27, 1868, Journal of Discourses 12:344)

1870s

After we had again established ourselves in a new country, and built up a beautiful city, and when all was peaceful and prosperity attending us, this same Prophet, on assembling the Elders of the Church on a certain occasion at Nauvoo, told us that we would have to flee to the Rocky Mountains for safety. The fulfillment of this prediction is apparent to all. I might mention scores of others, and in no instance has that man uttered a single prophecy that either has not already been fulfilled to the very letter, or will not have its fulfillment in the due time of the Lord. I will mention another prophecy, which was printed in several languages, and published among the various nations in whose languages it was printed, which was twenty-eight years reaching its fulfillment. The Lord revealed to the Prophet, Joseph Smith, that there would be a great rebellion between the Northern and Southern States, commencing in the State of South Carolina, and that it should terminate in the death and misery of many souls. This, as you all know, has been literally fulfilled. When I was a boy, I traveled extensively in the United States and the Canadas, preaching this restored Gospel. I had a manuscript copy of this revelation, which I carried in my pocked, and I was in the habit of reading it to the people among whom I traveled and preached. As a general thing the people regarded it as the height of nonsense, saying the Union was too strong to be broken; and I, they said, was led away, the victim of an impostor. I knew the prophecy was true, for the Lord had spoken to me and had given me revelation. I knew also concerning the divinity of this work. Year after year passed away, while every little while some of the acquaintances I had formerly made would say, "Well what is going to become of that prediction? It's never going to be fulfilled." Said I, "Wait, the Lord has his set time." By and by it came along, and the first battle was fought at Charleston, South Carolina. This is another testimony that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the Most High God; he not only foretold the coming of a great civil war at a time when statesman even never dreamed of such a thing, but he named the very place where it should commence. (Orson Pratt, August 26, 1876. Journal of Discourses 18:224)
In 1832 the Lord foretold to the Prophet Joseph Smith that there should be a great war between the Northern and Southern States. This revelation is published in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, a standard work of the Church, and also in many languages, many years before the war commenced. At that early period we were told that the Southern States would rise against the Northern States, and the Northern against the Southern States in war, terminating in the deaths and misery of many souls. We were told also that this war would begin with the rebellion of South Carolina. When I was a boy, a little over 20 years of age, I had the privilege of taking a copy of that revelation, and I carried it around with me, oftentimes reading it to the congregations that I preached to. Its subject matter formed a text from which I many times preached, as well as a topic of conversation with strangers, whose acquaintance I would happen to make in traveling from place to place. How do you think such information was received by the people to whom it was imparted? They would not believe it; they had no idea of its being a revelation from God to them; they considered it one of the impositions that the "Mormons" had gotten up to delude the people. To tell them that this great government would be divided and go to war with each other, was something entirely foreign to their minds; it was something to which they paid heedless regard, ofttimes treating it with ridicule and laughter. I preached in the New England States, and in various portions of the Union, and such was the way these things were received. The shedding of blood was then one of the remotest feelings of the American people; yet it came to pass precisely as predicted, and we all know the results of that dreadful war. (Orson Pratt, February 25, 1877. Journal of Discourses 18:340)
Many of you may have read, years before it was fulfilled, the revelation and prophecy of the Prophet Joseph in regard to the trouble, anarchy, and war that should befall this nation. Wise men said its fulfillment was a matter of impossibility—that the government was too sound and too well established for such a calamity to occur, but the fulfillment came. When the Lord undertakes to perform a work, he is certain to carry it out. It would not take the Lord twenty-four hours to cause war, anarchy, confusion, and judgments to come upon the nation. He is withholding these calamities until his purposes are accomplished. (Wilford Woodruff, October 13, 1877. Journal of Discourses 19:135)
There was a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, in December, 1832, concerning the war that should take place between the Southern States and the Northern States. This was a definite prediction, stating the exact point where a certain trouble or rebellion or division in the nation should take place. Most of us who have been brought up in the Church knew about this revelation from early days. It has been published so that all the members of the Church, and the world also, could have it, and it was but reasonable to expect that so definite a prophecy as this, which stated the exact character of the difficulty that should take place between the south and the north, and that also stated with such definiteness the exact point where the division should occur—I say it was but reasonable to expect that when it should be fulfilled, it would have the effect of convincing unbelievers of the truth of the mission of Joseph Smith, and that he really was a man inspired of the Lord to speak the word of God to the people.
In 1860, Brothers Orson Pratt, Erastus Snow, myself, and others, were going on missions, and we arrived at Omaha in the month of November of that year. A deputation of the leading citizens of that city came to our camp and tendered to us the use of the Court House, as they wished to hear our principles. The invitation was accepted, and Elder Pratt preached to them. During the service, there was read the revelation to which I have referred—the revelation concerning the division between the South and the North. The reason probably, for reading it was that when we reached Omaha, the news came that trouble was already brewing, and several States were threatening to secede from the Union. Its reading made considerable impression upon the people. A good many had never heard of it before, and quite a number were struck with the remarkable character of the prophecy. It might have been expected, naturally speaking and looking at it as men naturally do, that the reading, of such a revelation, at such a time, when the crisis was approaching, would have had the effect to direct men's attention to it, and they would be led to investigate its truth and the doctrines of the Church and the foundation we had for our belief. But if there were any converted in that audience I am not aware of it. Good seed was sown, but we did not remain to see what effect it produced. The revelation being so remarkable, and the events then transpiring being so corroborative of its truth, one might naturally think, as there were present on that occasion the leading and thinking portion of that community, that a great number would have been impressed with the probability of its truth, and would have investigated and joined the Church. You doubtless remember it was for a good while doubtful whether the rebellion should commence at South Carolina or not. I was in England at the time, and was engaged in publishing the Millennial Star, and took a great deal of notice of the American papers, and I well remember that to all human appearances it seemed for a while as though the trouble would break out at Fort Pickens, Florida. But the word of God had been spoken concerning that event, and consequently it had to be fulfilled as predicted, and the war did commence at South Carolina. It was fulfilled, as you know, to the very letter, Fort Sumter being the place where the rebellion broke out.(George Q. Cannon, November 2, 1879. Journal of Discourses 21:265-266)

1880s

We trust in God. We cannot afford to deny the Lord, we cannot deny his revelations. We have a code of revelations called the Doctrine and Covenants. That code given through the mouth of Joseph Smith, contains the most sublime revelations concerning this generation that were ever given to the world. Many of these revelations have had their fulfilment so far as time has permitted. Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God. I travelled thousands of miles with him, in fact the revelation he gave concerning the war which would break out between the North and South, I wrote that revelation myself as it was given by the Prophet twenty years before it was fulfilled. That revelation was published to the world broadcast, and I merely refer to it because it is a thing that is clear to the minds of all men. All the revelations in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, the Bible, and the Book of Mormon, will have their fulfilment in the earth. (Wilford Woodruff, June 12, 1881. Journal of Discourses 22:175)
In the same way it will take time to make the merits of the predictions of Joseph Smith recognized. Will they be recognized? Yes. Joseph Smith has uttered predictions which cannot be disputed, and that have come to pass. Before his death he predicted that the Latter-day Saints should become a great people in the Rocky Mountains. Years before we were compelled to leave the States, he predicted that the South would rebel, and that the civil war would break out in South Carolina. That prediction was in print long years before it was fulfilled. And when it seemed as though the rebellion would break out in Florida, the Latter-day Saints never had any doubt as to where the war would commence. They knew the word of God had been spoken, and that it would be fulfilled. And it was fulfilled, literally, as also many other predictions which have been uttered. But do these things come to man in a way that man will receive them? No: they come in contact with worldly pride. They invoke the same opposition which Paul had when he was at Ephesus, when the silversmiths cried out, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." And they bawled and cried so much in favor of Diana, that his voice was drowned. So it is to-day. These things come in contact with established institutions, with established crafts; man's craft is in danger, and hence the outcry. There is a great outcry, and it comes from those whose craft is most in danger. It has ever been so, and it will ever be so while man continues under the same influence which now operates upon him. (George Q. Cannon, June 12, 1881. Journal of Discourses 22:178)
The Doctrine and Covenants, as well as the Book of Mormon, contains indisputable evidence of the divine calling and mission of Joseph Smith. For instance, I will refer the congregation to the revelation given Dec. 25th, 1832, in relation to the great war of the Rebellion, with which all are more or less familiar. A portion of that revelation has been literally fulfilled, even to the very place indicated in the prediction where the war should commence: which, as was therein stated, was to terminate in the death and misery of many souls. (Joseph F. Smith, April 6, 1884. Journal of Discourses 25:97)
In Section 87 of the Doctrine and Covenants is the remarkable prophecy of Joseph Smith's, relating to the great rebellion of the Southern States. Before I read that part of the prophecy of which I wish more particularly to speak, I will pave the way for it. When reasoning with infidels on the truth of the Jewish Scriptures, I have often alluded to the many prophecies in the Bible, and then have shown from history that these predictions have been verified—hence they were inspired. They would generally try to destroy the force of my argument by claiming that the predictions were made after the events had transpired; that is, they were not predictions in fact, but were written by fanatics to deceive mankind. But I wish to show my young brethren this prophecy on the war of the rebellion cannot be overthrown by such assumptions as these, to which I have just alluded. This revelation and prophecy on war, was given December 25, 1832; the events it predicts did not commence until 1861—29 years after the prophecy was made. I have heard several of the leading Elders of the Church say, they carried with them manuscript copies of that prophecy in their preaching tours throughout the States, and . . . read it to the people. Better still—in the year 1851, Elder F. D. Richards published in England a book called, "The Pearl of Great Price;" among other interesting matter it contained, was this prophecy on war. This was nine years before the war it predicted began. As this book was widely circulated both in Europe and America, no one can ever use the old infidel argument against it—that is, that the prediction was made after the event had occurred.(B. H. Roberts, January 28, 1884. Journal of Discourses 25:141-142)