Non-existent quotes/Brigham Young

Fabricated quotes attributed to Brigham Young

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Question: Did Brigham say "We shall pull the wool over the eyes of the American people"?

As far as we can determine, this quotation is a complete fabrication

It is rumored that Brigham Young made the following statement:

We shall pull the wool over the eyes of the American people and make them swallow Mormonism, polygamy and all."

Critics say this shows the fundamental dishonesty of LDS leaders. [1]

As far as we can determine, this quotation is a complete fabrication. We cannot locate it in any LDS source, and those non-LDS sources who provide a reference are in error.

If any reader has further information, please contact us. At present, however, the best assumption seems to be that the quote is a fabrication.

FairMormon has been unable to find a legitimate source for this purported quotation from Brigham Young. It was quoted at the Reed Smoot hearing report, but the source is only given as E.A. Folk, editor of the Baptist and Reflector, a Nashville, Tennessee paper published by the Tennessee Baptist association.[2]

A citation generally given for Brigham Young's remarks is from the Church's English publication: "The Manifesto," Millennial Star 52 (24 Nov. 1890): 744.

However, an examination of this reference shows no sign of the quote in question—see PDF scan of the original here.

Later authors have continued to repeat the "quotation" from Brigham

Later authors have continued to repeat the "quotation" from Brigham, and provide the citation to the E.A. Folk's The Story of Mormonism, or the Millenial Star in their footnotes. However, these authors do not seem to have verified the original. They are likely simply repeating the claim from previous authors without checking:

Since the Smoot Committee hearings "quotation" of Brigham came from an apostate Mormon, it's possible that this witness provided false testimony (either unwittingly or intentionally)

Since the Smoot Committee hearings "quotation" of Brigham came from an apostate Mormon, it's possible that this witness provided false testimony (either unwittingly or intentionally). The prestige of a U.S. Congressional document has led subsequent writers to trust this witnesses' account without verifying the source for themselves.


Question: Did Brigham Young state "I have never given counsel that is wrong"?

A blogger fakes a quote from Brigham Young

The following fabricated quote has gained circulation on the web. The introductory phrase "I have never given counsel that is wrong" was indeed given by Brigham Young. (See: Journal of Discourses 16:161.) Unfortunately, the paragraph that follows is a complete fabrication:

I have never given council that is wrong. I am a Prophet of God in this dispensation. I carry on the work that began with Joseph Smith. I led the Saints to the barren Salt Lake Valley and it is where we built Zion, even though Joseph Smith taught the Savior would return in Jackson County Missouri. Monogamous marriage is not the order of heaven, for it is only through polygamy that a man may achieve exaltation. The government should stay out of the lives of the Saints and let us worship and practice our religion according to the dictates of our own conscience. If there ever comes a day when the Saints interfere with the rights of others to live as they see fit, you can know with assurance that the Church is no longer led by a Prophet, but a mere man. The doctrines of this Church are eternal, for they were ordained before the world was and any man who changes these doctrines such as the temple ceremony, or the man who abandons polygamy, or allows blacks the Priesthood of God, is a fallen prophet.

I am Brother Brigham. And I am the voice of God.

Ex-Mormon critics of the Church became excited about the quote and attempted to verify its source because it represented "an astounding batch of ammo if it is a true quote from B[righam] Y[oung]."[3] On a different ex-Mormon board, one poster states that "I really, really want to post this quote tonight on my facebook wall, but I still am looking for a source," and that he "would really love for this quote to be a real B.Y. quote."[4]

Here is the real "I have never given counsel that is wrong" quote

Here is what Brigham actually said:

I am here to give this people, called Latter-day Saints, counsel to direct them in the path of life. I am here to answer; I shall be on hand to answer when I am called upon, for all the counsel and for all the instruction that I have given to this people. If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason. This people, called Latter-day Saints, have been laboring now over forty years. [5]

The fake quote is a conflation of things that Brigham discussed, with a negative spin

We examine here the individual elements of the fabricated quote and provide responses to it.

This quote cannot be located in any of the writings or sermons given by Brigham Young. Brigham Young is claimed to have said...
"I am a Prophet of God in this dispensation."

What Brigham actually said:

"I have never particularly desired any man to testify publicly that I am a Prophet; nevertheless, if any man feels joy, in doing this, he shall be blest in it. I have never said that I am not a Prophet; but, if I am not, one thing is certain, I have been very profitable to this people."[6]

Response

  • Brigham's actual statement is at odds with the fabricated statement.


This quote cannot be located in any of the writings or sermons given by Brigham Young. Brigham Young is claimed to have said...
"I carry on the work that began with Joseph Smith. "

What Brigham actually said:

"to carry on the work of God..." [7]

Response

  • Brigham talks of carrying on the work of God, not the work of Joseph Smith.
  • This is an attempt by the author of the quote to imply that Joseph Smith is more important to Latter-day Saints than God.
  • For a detailed response, see: Joseph Smith/Status in LDS belief


This quote cannot be located in any of the writings or sermons given by Brigham Young. Brigham Young is claimed to have said...
"I led the Saints to the barren Salt Lake Valley and it is where we built Zion, even though Joseph Smith taught the Savior would return in Jackson County Missouri."


Response

  • This is an attempt to imply that if Brigham were a true prophet, then the Saints would never have had to leave "Zion" in Jackson County.
  • While recounting Jim Bridger's negative assessment of the farming potential of the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young would not have referred to the Salt Lake Valley as "barren" in this way. A small detail, but indicative of the author's tone and approach.
  • Brigham Young would not have drawn attention to the failure to establish Zion in Jackson County in this way. There is actually a very extensive body of discussion of this in the Journal of Discourses.
  • Brigham never refers to the "barren Salt Lake Valley."
  • For a detailed response, see: Joseph Smith/Prophecies/Independence temple to be built "in this generation"


This quote cannot be located in any of the writings or sermons given by Brigham Young. Brigham Young is claimed to have said...
"Monogamous marriage is not the order of heaven, for it is only through polygamy that a man may achieve exaltation."

What Brigham actually said:

"The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy"[8]

Response

  • While there are statements to the effect that plural marriage is a requirement for exaltation for those commanded to live it, Brigham Young would not have stated that priesthood-sealed "monogamous marriage is not the order of heaven."
  • The author seeks to drive a wedge between pre and post-Manifesto Latter-day Saints, but he needs to completely manufacture quotes from Brigham Young in order to do it.
  • For a detailed response, see: Polygamy/The only men who become gods are those that practice polygamy


This quote cannot be located in any of the writings or sermons given by Brigham Young. Brigham Young is claimed to have said...
"The government should stay out of the lives of the Saints and let us worship and practice our religion according to the dictates of our own conscience."


Response

  • Brigham never made a statement like this, but other Church leaders have made statements to this effect:
    • John Taylor: "[T]here is no law, human or divine, that can rightful[l]y rob us of those liberties or trample upon our rights. We have a right to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; and no man, legally, in this land, has a right to interfere with us for so doing." (Journal of Discourses 5:182.)
    • Orson Pratt: "If we do not transgress the law, then let us be free, like any other American citizens, and let us worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience."[9]
    • George Q. Cannon: "[T]o take our flight as best we could in our poverty to some remote land where we could worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience in peace and in quietness."[10]
  • For a detailed response, see: Joseph Smith/Prophecies/Government to be overthrown and wasted


This quote cannot be located in any of the writings or sermons given by Brigham Young. Brigham Young is claimed to have said...
"If there ever comes a day when the Saints interfere with the rights of others to live as they see fit, you can know with assurance that the Church is no longer led by a Prophet, but a mere man."


Response

  • This is an obvious allusion to Proposition 8. The author of the fake quote is seeking to punish the Church for its stance on gay marriage.
  • Aside from the fact that nobody believes Brigham Young actually said this (cf. the inquiries from post-Mormon sites asking for references), the irony of using "Brother Brigham" to chastize the modern Church on homosexuality is striking.
  • The phrase "mere man" does not appear in the 26 volumes of the Journal of Discourses
  • The phrase "mere man" appears only once in the Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 2:270., but it is not used by Brigham Young.
  • For a detailed response, see: Mormonism and politics/California Proposition 8


This quote cannot be located in any of the writings or sermons given by Brigham Young. Brigham Young is claimed to have said...
"The doctrines of this Church are eternal, for they were ordained before the world was and any man who changes these doctrines such as the temple ceremony, or the man who abandons polygamy, or allows blacks the Priesthood of God, is a fallen prophet."


Response

  • Brigham never said any of this. The author of the fabricated quote simply wishes to imply that the Church should never change its doctrine or policies.
  • The specific listing of changes in the temple ceremony, polygamy, and the priesthood ban show what the author thinks are the "money" issues that can demonstrate false or fallen prophethood. Brigham was actually very detailed about the parameters of change and knowing we are truly led by God-inspired leaders, despite changes and tough issues.
  • For a detailed response, see: Church doctrine/Changing
  • For a detailed response, see: Temples/Endowment/Changes
  • For a detailed response, see: Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood


This quote cannot be located in any of the writings or sermons given by Brigham Young. Brigham Young is claimed to have said...
"I am the voice of God"


Response

  • This fabricated quote is based upon another fabricated quote from the movie September Dawn. In September Dawn, a movie about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, an actor portraying Brigham says, ""I am the voice of God and anyone who doesn't like it will be hewn down. God has revealed to me that I have the right and the power to call down curses on anyone who tries to invade our lands. Therefore, I curse the gentiles." This quote is fabricated—Brigham never said this.

For a detailed response, see: Non-existent quotes/Brigham Young/I am the voice of God



Question: Did Brigham Young say "I am the voice of God and anyone who doesn't like it will be hewn down"

FairMormon has been unable to find a legitimate source for this purported quotation from Brigham Young

The movie September Dawn claims that Brigham Young made the following statement:

I am the voice of God and anyone who doesn't like it will be hewn down. God has revealed to me that I have the right and the power to call down curses on anyone who tries to invade our lands. Therefore, I curse the gentiles.

FairMormon has been unable to find a legitimate source for this purported quotation from Brigham Young. The words are spoken by an actor portraying Brigham Young in the movie September Dawn, an account of the Mountain Meadows massacre. This exact statement has not been attributed to a known source, and may be a paraphrase of a statement made by Young on March 2, 1856:

"The time is coming when justice will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet; when we shall take the old broad sword and ask, "Are you for God?" and if you are not heartily on the Lord's side, you will be hewn down." (Journal of Discourses 3:226.)

  1. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 281 ( Index of claims ). (Source Proceedings Before The Committee...); Ambrose B. Carlton, The Wonderlands of the Wild West, with Sketches of the Mormons (N.p.: n.p., 1891), 321.; Dan Erickson, "As a Thief in the Night": The Mormon Quest for Millennial Deliverance (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1998), chapter 8, footnote 118.; E.A. Folk (editor of the Baptist and Reflector), Story of Mormonism citing discourse of 12 July 1875 in Salt Lake Tabernacle.; Brigham Young, quoted in Proceedings Before The Committee On Privileges And Elections Of The United States Senate In The Matter Of The Protests Against The Right Of Hon. Reed Smoot, A Senator From Utah, To Hold His Seat, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906), 1:15; citing as source E.A. Folk as above.
  2. See "Baptist and Reflector," rootsweb.com (accessed 15 December 2007). The Smoot Hearing report cites this author with his editorial title in volume 1, page 15.
  3. Comment posted on the "Recovery from Mormonism" board by "MJ," October 07, 2010.
  4. Comments posted on "PostMormon.org" by "MyWife'sHusband," September 12, 2009.
  5. Journal of Discourses 16:161.
  6. Journal of Discourses 10:339.
  7. Journal of Discourses 1:75.
  8. Journal of Discourses 11:269.
  9. Journal of Discourses 7:225.
  10. Journal of Discourses 26:285.