Racist Statements from the Mormon Church

A Certified Collection Of … Mormon Comments and References to Substantiate the Claim and stated Position by Former Mormon Bishop, Lee B. Baker, that The Leadership and Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have used the terms “Nigger” (89 times), “Darky” (15 times), “Sambo” (25 times) and “Skin of Blackness” (110 times) in Official Publications, Scriptures, Doctrine and Training for Decades.

_________________________

Primary Source – LDS Scriptures and Official Sermons and Publications of the LDS Church and Leadership

Organized and Collected by Former Mormon Bishop, Lee B. Baker from the LDS Collectors Library 2005TM, Purchased from Deseret Book, owned by the LDS Church, © 2004 and 2005 LDS Media,  ISBN:  978-0-974708-04-1

_____________________________________

Updated, Authenticated and Validated in February of 2016

With Additional References added Specific to the LDS Scriptures and Sermons on Black Skin

And selected statements and footnotes from Mormonism – A Life Under False Pretenses, Lee B. Baker © 2008

ISBN:  978-1-937520-75-5

__________________________________________________

Editor and Compiler – Lee B. Baker, Coarsegold, California

Selected notes from the Book: Mormonism – A Life Under False Pretenses, by Lee B. Baker, Former Mormon Bishop, followed by direct word search results from the LDS Collectors Library, purchased from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Author’s Statement:     I will not humiliate the reader by listing the nearly one hundred such jokes, stories, or comments found within the LDS Collectors Library 2005, which documents the formal references noted below.   My only observation would be a clear recognition that at no time in the history of the United States have these derogatory terms been used for anything other than slander.  I fully recognize that at times the use of these terms has in fact been both widespread and socially acceptable within America.  My primary reason for raising the existence of these well-documented examples of bigotry and prejudice by the leadership of the Mormon Church is to question the divine spiritual guidance of the church itself.  At a time when other churches were taking great risks in the many abolitionist movements,[1] the Mormons who owned slaves were moving their “property” west with them.  If the uninspired leadership of the nation considered both slavery and polygamy evil, how is it that both were accepted as righteous by the Mormons and their God?  Furthermore, if God Himself spoke to the Mormon Prophet of His disapproval of the use of racially disparaging remarks in April of 2006,[2] what did God really think of such remarks in 1856 or 1906?

References:                  Elder Heber J. Grant, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Conference Report, October 1900, Second Day—Morning Session, 35-36; Apostle Matthias F. Cowley, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Conference Report, April 1902, Second Day—Morning Session, 36-37; Elder Reed Smoot, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Conference Report, October 1907, Afternoon Session, 55-56; and President Rudger Clawson, Conference Report, October 1920, First Day—Morning Session, 22.  Official Mormon Church publications have repeatedly used these derogatory terms have been both the Contributor and the Improvement Era, well into the 1950s.

I have often wondered how the African American members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dismiss these teachings, since the church itself has not. In an apparent bid for some self-recognition of the true history of blacks within the Mormon Church, a unique Web site has chronicled some of the historical issues I have captured within question 3 in the questions I raise in chapter 5.[3]

The point of this discussion is not to suggest that the Mormon Church is now infected with a disproportional number of racists and bigots.  However, I do believe that within the early years of the Mormon Church, especially under the leadership of Brigham Young, John Taylor, and many of the General Authorities of the church well into the twentieth century, racial discrimination and bigotry were generally accepted.  I further believe that as with polygamy, polyandry, and disobeying the laws of the land, the social, spiritual, and emotional damage done by widespread bigotry within the Mormon Church has never been sufficiently acknowledged.

Teachings of the Past Prophets and the Value of a Living Prophet

Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the current and living Prophet of the church is both the president of the corporation of the church and the only man on the earth who holds all the keys of the priesthood and is authorized to receive revelation for the entire church.  Below is a typical affirmation of that belief, as stated during one of the many semiannual general conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding.[4]

Formalities notwithstanding, as polygamy continued long after the first manifesto denouncing the practice in 1890, this church-wide recognition of the power and authority of the President of the church is sufficient for the discussion at hand.  I have been told several times by Stake President Michael D. Jones, of the Arvada, Colorado Stake, that I should “follow the keys, follow the keys,” meaning the keys of the priesthood. This reprimand was in reference to my inability to understand the Mormon philosophy that whatever the Prophet says or does is of the Lord.  My rebuttal to President Jones, a large and powerful man, was that my issue was with the teachings of the past Prophets that had not been corrected by the succeeding Prophets. An example of how that can happen follows.

You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.[5]

Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.[6]

I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ.[7]

In this case, President Hinckley in 2006 clearly and concisely corrected the earlier teachings of Brigham Young in both 1859 and 1863.  It was straightforward and the right thing to do. And yet the church did not collapse the next day.  I believe that it is possible for any organization, especially a religious organization that claims to be the “only true church on the earth today,” to correct irregularities or mistakes in doctrine.  In the case of Mormonism, it is the foundation itself, specifically the early years of the church, that is suspect, and with each passing year, the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endeavors to assimilate more to the mainstream of Christianity.  It has been my observation that no other reportedly Christian church has undergone more changes in such a shorter period of time than Mormonism.  In the early years of the church, being different was a hallmark to be proud of.  Today, however, the unique and peculiar doctrines of the church have been pushed backstage or de-emphasized whenever possible.

The Latter-day Saints possess the truth, and have many principles of truth in addition to what is possessed by the people of the world. Of course, we are peculiar for a number of reasons. It is our peculiarities that make us different from other Christian people.[8]

In contemplating the remarks of Elder McKay yesterday, with regard to the Latter-day Saints being a peculiar people, I am reminded that we are peculiar in this particular, that, unlike all other “orthodox” Christians, we believe that men must be called of God to preach the gospel and officiate in the ordinances thereof.[9]

 It is said that this is a most peculiar doctrine that we preach, a most peculiar religion that we have embraced. The fact is this is the religion of Jesus Christ, the Church that He established. That is the reason it is regarded as a peculiar religion.[10]

© 2004 and 2005 LDS Media,  ISBN:  978-0-974708-04-1

Introduction to the LDS Collectors Library 2005TM

______________________________________________

We welcome you to the fourth edition of the LDS Collectors Library—the most comprehensive collection of Latter-day Saint doctrinal, inspirational, historical, and biographical works ever assembled for computer-aided gospel study. LDS Collectors Library 2005 contains over 3,000 reference works and multimedia art relating to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—an increase of approximately 1,600 titles from the third edition of the Fall of 1996 (containing 1,400 titles, which itself, contained 600 more titles than the June 1995 edition which contained 804 titles. The 1994 original edition contained approximately 600 titles.)  It is impossible here to detail all the changes from these previous editions, but we broadly acknowledge our gratitude to all those in the past and particularly those in the present who have made this new version possible.

This edition of the LDS Collectors Library would not have been possible without the partnership of Deseret Book Company.  They graciously granted us permission to use the extensive materials which form the content backbone of this new edition.  We are especially grateful to their president, Sheri L. Dew for her guidance and direction.  We also remember the assistance of the following individuals Jeffrey A. Yates, Executive Vice President and Financial Officer, Jeffrey H. Clark, Vice President of Retail and Operations, Keith R. Hunter, Vice President Sales and Business Development, Matthew McBride, Development, and Anne Sheffield, Pat Williams, and Tony Benjamin who assisted in contracts and copyrights and permissions.

We express our appreciation to the following organizations for permission to include materials under their copyright control: Brigham Young University Studies; Religious Instruction, Brigham Young University; The Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University; The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS); The History/Religion Reference Staff, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University; LDS Church News, Deseret News; The Logan Institute of Religion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; The Copyrights and Permissions Department, The Historical Department, and The Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Folio Corporation; and the History Division, The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

We gratefully acknowledge that copyrighted works that are or have been print published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Deseret Book Company, Hammond, Inc., Macmillan Publishing Company, Random House, Inc., Simon & Schuster, and other publishers which are featured in electronic form in this product are done so under license directly or indirectly from these organizations.

Likewise, we also gratefully acknowledge the assistance of these content providers: Richard M. Kettley (AvailableResources.com), Mike Palmer and Ed Dette (CenterPlace.org), Neil Halava (Eagle Computing), and Emily Stephens of Random House, Inc. Each has been gracious in granting us permission to use their valuable resources.

We were express our gratitude for the testimonials of this product provided by Stephen R. Covey, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Darren Lee, Truman G. Madsen, Don W. Pectol, Brad Pelo, and Richard W. (Pete) Pratt,

We thank Lee Gibbons, Douglas G. Smith, Paul B. Allen, and Daniel D. Taggart for leading the team that made this product possible. In Development, we especially acknowledge the skills and vision of Craig Codling, John Ivie, and Ken Meads. Packaging and Design wonders were performed by Scott Eggers Design, under the direction of Jim Ericson, Vice President of Marketing, as well as Bruce Ackerman.  Each of these team members would be remiss if they did not thank all others who contributed to the eleven years of past editions of the LDS Collectors Library which formed the foundation upon which this product rests.

We are particularly grateful for the continuing encouragement from Blake and Nancy Roney and Ron and Bea Tew.

Most especially we express our gratitude to the tens of thousands of LDS Collectors Library users who have guided the way with their requests and suggestions. (You are always free to provide suggestions by contacting us in a variety of ways as detailed at www.LDSLibrary.com)

We are convinced that you will find this edition of the Library the most powerful and yet easiest to use edition of any of our info bases ever.  Most sincerely, we hope it will be a worthy tool in your quest to “live by every word of God.”i

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­________________________________________________________________________

Valid and Precise References from the LDS Collectors Library Follow:

Word Search for “Nigger” from the 2005 LDS Collectors Library © 2004 and 2005 LDS Media,  ISBN:  978-0-974708-04-1

Elder Matthias F. Cowley, Conference Report, April 1902, Second Day—Morning Session, p.36 – 37

Have felt impressed with one idea while listening to my brethren, and that is that the whole history of this work has gone to show that we do not need the help of the world to sustain it. I do not mean by this to depreciate any kind assistance, sentiment or support that may be accorded unto us by honest and upright men who, from time to time, defend the rights of the Latter-day Saints, and who have sufficient of the light of truth to see the purity and power of the doctrines that are taught by this people; but I mean to say that it all goes to show that God has established this great work, and that He has sustained it in every sense of the word. When I heard Brother Smoot this morning talking and reading a little about the ideas of men concerning the effect of “Mormonism,” as it is termed, more especially in the eastern states, some of them entertaining the idea that it was a great menace to the people, I thought to myself that the world had got the nightmare. I heard Sol Smith Russell once read an essay on the horse. He said that the horse was a noble animal. It would live on oats and sawdust, he said. Then he went on to describe the various kinds of horses there were in existence. He said there was the sawhorse, and there was the horse-radish, and then there was the Colt’s revolver, and then there was the nightmare. He said, “the nightmare is a horse that is born in the night, and my Aunt Jane has lots of them.” I think sectarianism has the nightmare over this work, and possibly it is all right that they should have. It makes me feel that there are not only prophets among the people of God, but there are some prophets in the world. I heard one of our local politicians a few years ago stand up before a public audience, when the question of dividing on national Political lines was agitated among this people, and some doubted the propriety of it. They wanted to hold the old anti-Mormon party together, and more thoroughly crowd us to the wall, and use their power with the great parties of the nation to distress and oppress this people by inimical legislation. One of the speakers that stood up to address that audience made this statement: “The Mormons will come out on top, no matter what you do.” He said he did not believe in dividing on political lines; he believed in keeping the hand over the Mormons just as long as possible, because, said he, they will come out on top. To illustrate his prophecy he told an anecdote about Genesis Mahone of Virginia, and one of his negro slaves, and he compared us to the general and themselves to the slave. He said this poor slave had a dream. He dreamed that he died and went to the gates of heaven, and there he met the Apostle Peter. Peter asked him who he was. “Why,” said he, “I am the slave of Genesis Mahone of Virginia.” “Well,” said Peter, “are you mounted, or are you on foot?… I’m on foot,” he replied. “Well,” said Peter, “you can’t come in here.” So the poor nigger started down the steps, and he met his master at the bottom, and he said to him, “General, whar d’ye think you’re gwine?… I’m going to heaven,” said the General. “No, you’re not,” he said; “you can’t get in dar, unless you’re mounted.” At this a happy thought struck the nigger, and he said to the General: “I’ll tell you, General, I’ll git down on all fours, and you git on my back, and when Peter ask you if you’re mounted, say, yes, and we both ride right in.” So the General got on his back, and when they got up to the gates of heaven, Peter asked who he was. He replied that he was General Mahone, of Virginia. “Are you mounted or are you on foot?… I’m mounted,” said the General. “Well,” said Peter, “tie your horse on the outside, and come in.” This great politician that was opposed to the Latter-day Saints being identified with the national political parties said, “They will walk right in whether they are mounted or on foot.” And I thought to myself, he has got the key to the whole thing; he understands it just about right. And why is it, my brethren and sisters? It is because God has established this work. I want to read just a little. The brethren have been reading the Scriptures, and I believe it is all right to have a little Scripture reading on these occasions. The Lord says, as recorded in section 1 of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, that this is “the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the Church collectively and not individually.” While God has established this work, and He is pleased with it because it is His work, we ought not to lose sight of the fact that He is not pleased with every individual in it, only to the extent that that individual conforms his life to the principles and spirit of this Gospel. The only safe thing for a Latter-day Saint is to be found in the discharge of every duty, to be found absolutely free from sin and complying with every principle, as far as possible, that the Lord our God has revealed. A great deal has been said at this conference and at our meeting last night respecting evils that creep in among the Latter-day Saints. While we speak of them from this stand and warn the people, while President Smith gives unto us the word of God, it is the bounden duty of the local Priesthood in every stake of Zion and in every ward to see that iniquity is rooted out from among the people of God, that the day may come when the Lord shall say that He is not only pleased with the Church collectively, but individually also, it having been purified and sanctified from every sin.

Elder Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1900, Second Day—Morning Session, p.35 – 36

I believe it is better to have the nineteen dollars circulating around here. I heard Bishop Farrell some years ago. in the Assembly Hall tell a very good story on home manufacture. He said he believed in home manufacture because it benefitted him as well as other people. He said that when he was coming down to conference he met at the depot a brother to whom he owed five dollars for making some shoes for his children. He gave this brother the five dollars. and he turned around and handed the money to another brother whom he owed, and he handed it to another, and he handed it to another, and the fourth brother came up and handed it back to Brother Farrell, saying “I owe you six dollars, here is five of it,” and Brother Farrell put the money back into his pocket. That money paid five hundred per cent in debt there in just about the same length of time that it takes me to tell the story. But if the Bishop had bought the imported goods it would not have paid the five hundred per cent, because it would have gone out of the country. I went to a negro minstrel show once, and there were about ten or fifteen on the stage. One of them rushed in with his hat off and said. “which of these here niggers am lost two dollars?” holding up a two dollar bill. There hadn’t any of them lost two dollars. “Well,” he said, “if none of you have lost it, I found these two dollars right by the door here and it is my money.” They said all right, and he put it in his pocket. No sooner had he got it in his pocket than up jumped a nigger and said: “Look here, George Washington Jones, you owe me two dollars; pay your honest debts!” He handed the two dollars to him. Another nigger jumps up and says: “Look here, Julius C. Brown, you owes me two dollars; pay your debt.” He got it, and in this way it went clear round. When the last man got it, up jumps George Washington Jones, and says: “Here, give me back the two dollars; you owes me two dollar.” No sooner had he got it in his pocket than a fellow rushes in and said “which of you niggers has found two dollars?” George Washington Jones took it out of his pocket and said: “Here, take your money and go home; we’ve all paid our debts.”

Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland, On Earth As It Is in Heaven, p.148

“The man was gone for approximately half an hour, only to return and report that he could not budge the wounded officer-he was too heavy. . . . The men started grumbling about getting out of there before somebody else got hit. [Then] someone was heard to say, ‘Let’s forget about the lieutenant; after all, he’s just a nigger!’ At this point Sergeant Stewart turned to his men, and pulling himself up to his full 65-inch stature, he spoke in very matter-of-fact tones: ‘I don’t care if he’s black or green or any other color. We’re not leaving without him. He wouldn’t leave any of us in similar circumstances. Besides, he’s our commanding officer and I love him like my own brother.’ ”

Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 2:, p.169

We started for Ottoway, and arrived at Pawpaw Grove, thirty-two miles, where we stopped for the night. Squire Walker sent Mr. Campbell, Sheriff of Lee County, to my assistance, and he came, and slept by me. In the morning, certain men wished to see me, but I was not allowed to see them. The news of my arrival had hastily circulated about the neighborhood; and very early in the morning the largest room in the hotel was filled with citizens, who were anxious to hear me preach, and requested me to address them. Sheriff Reynolds entered the room, and said, pointing to me, “I wish you to understand this man is my prisoner, and I want you should disperse; you must not gather round here in this way.” Upon which an aged gentleman who was lame, and carried a large hickory walking-stick, advanced towards Reynolds, bringing his hickory upon the floor, said, “You damned infernal puke; we’ll learn you to come here and interrupt gentlemen: sit down there, [pointing to a very low chair,] and sit still, don’t open your head till General Smith gets through talking; if you never learned manners in Missouri, we’ll teach you that gentlemen are not to be imposed upon by a nigger driver: you can not kidnap men here, if you do in Missouri; and if you attempt it here, there’s a committee in this Grove that will sit on your case; and, sir, it is the highest tribunal in the United States, as from its decision there is no appeal.” Reynolds, no doubt aware that the person addressing him was at the head of a committee, who had prevented the settlers on the public domain from being imposed upon by land speculators, sat down in silence, while I addressed the assembly for an hour and a half on the subject of marriage; my visitors having requested me to give them my views of the law of God respecting marriage.

Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 4:, p.39

Brother Robbins also spoke of what they term the “nigger drivers and nigger worshippers,” and observed how keen their feelings are upon their favourite topic slavery. The State of New York used to be a slave State, but there slavery has for some time been abolished. Under their law for abolishing slavery the then male slaves had to serve until they were 28 years old, and if my memory serves me correctly, the females until they were 25, before they could be free. This was to avoid the loss of, what they called, property in the hands of individuals. After that law was passed the people began to dispose of their blacks, and to let them buy themselves off. They then passed a law that black children should be free, the same as white children, and so it remains to this day.

Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 5:, p.127

Brother Taylor says that language cannot express the conduct, the feelings, and the spirit that are upon the people in the States. Well, suppose you take up a labour and swear about them, what are the worst words that can be spoken? ‘Nigger stealing,’ Mobs or Vigilance Committees, and Rotten-hearted Administrators of a Government are three of the meanest and wickedest words that can be spoken. I expect that somebody will write that back to the States, as being treasonable, because spoken by a Latter-day Saint.

Sir Geoffrey Furlonge, January 21, 1963, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1963, p.5

I turn now to Ethiopia. I would like to begin by explaining why I call the country “Ethiopia” instead of “Abyssinia”; I have even been asked what relationship there is between these two countries. The answer is, of course, that they are one and the same; but the reason why we nowadays speak of “Ethiopia” and not of “Abyssinia” is that the rulers of the country in question prefer it that way: they believe that “Abyssinia” means “nigger-country,” being derived from a Semitic root “Habash,” a nigger; and as they are in fact far from negroid they regard this as derogatory and insist on being described as “Ethiopians,” which comes from two Greek words meaning “burnt faces,” and therefore has the merit of accuracy; and in any case it costs nothing to meet their wishes over this.

Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols., 1:, p.119

Since singing is pleasing to the Lord and a prayer unto him when it is “sacred” and a song of the heart, Latter-day Saints should endeavor always to sing in harmony with the Spirit and with understanding. Frequently the spirit of a meeting is hampered by improper music and singing. Jazz, under no condition can be called sacred. Light frivolous songs are always out of place in the sacred services of the Church. Recently in a Sabbath meeting a quartet sang: “Some Folks Say That a Nigger Won’t Steal,” a pleasing melody, but entirely out of place in a meeting of worship. Our songs should be always in keeping with the Gospel truth. False doctrine is discovered frequently in sectarian hymns. Beautiful melody cannot compensate for false sentiment, yet we have this to contend with constantly in the services of the Church. For instance, The Rosary, is NOT in harmony with gospel truth. “Just As I Am, Without One Plea,” is false in sentiment, and “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere,” is a contradiction of the revealed word of God. Choir leaders should endeavor to be prepared with songs which will harmonize perfectly with the theme of the meeting. Musical numbers should be made to harmonize with the spirit of such meetings.

Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols., 4:, p.152 – 153

“You-infernal puke, we’ll learn you to come here and interrupt gentlemen. Sit down there (pointing to a very low chair), and sit still. Don’t open your head till General Smith gets through talking. If you never learned manners in Missouri, we’ll teach you that gentlemen are not to be imposed upon by nigger-drivers. You cannot kidnap men here, if you do in Missouri; and if you attempt it here, there’s a committee in this grove that will sit on your case; and, sir, it is the highest tribunal in the United States, as from its decision there is no appeal!”

Hugh Nibley, Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, edited by Don E. Norton and Shirley S. Ricks, p.257 – 258

We can never feel quite right about the commercializing of sacred things, including Christmas and the Flag, yet that is the sort of thing that really pays off. “Yes,” says Haley the slaveholder in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, “I consider religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when it’s the genuine article, and no mistake,” for Haley “knew the price of everything,” and was quite sincere about it. Since the days of Nimrod, ambitious men have known that patriotism of others can be a gold-mine. Was there ever a more fervent American than Daddy Warbucks, or more stirring appeals to national sentiment than the advertising of those industries which loudly proclaim their self-sacrificing heroism in converting to wartime economy (with unlimited profits to themselves), or who describe their systematic looting of the most valuable and available of our national resources as a valiant conquest of the wilderness in the manner of the brave pioneers? Today the knack of getting rich by enlisting the willingness of others to make patriotic sacrifices, once a well-kept secret, is becoming common knowledge as we make increasingly heavy drafts upon a rapidly dwindling capital of national virtue. Breaking the rules can be profitable only if others are willing to keep them, for which reason those who exploit patriotism are the sincerest of its advocates-they would be nowhere without it. The idealistic youngster who volunteers for a dangerous mission in war goes out into the dark with the chorus of “So long, sucker!” ringing in his ears. He is the indispensable fall guy without whose heroism the rest would never get home to show their decorations.

Hugh Nibley, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass: The Art of Telling Tales About Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, edited by David Whittaker, p.705

After this culmination of terror, the rest of the little book is an anticlimax, albeit a lucid commentary on the personality of the author. The very next day he has a run-in with Sidney Rigdon, who maintains that any single man in the camp should be willing to do his own washing “or get a nigger to do it,” since “the fair daughters of Zion should not touch a dirty rag!” He was referring to Swartzell’s shirt, but our hero replied with spirit, “For my part, I will go with a dirty shirt before I will be my own washerman”-not a very helpful addition to a camp of religious refugees. The next day he discovers that Hiram Smith is a dirty swindler (no particulars), and on July 28 attends a “Daranite meeting,” where there was “a vast expenditure of breath in expounding to the dupes,” but nothing worse. Of a speaker who suggested on August 5, 1838, “it may be that we will have to flee beyond the Rocky Mountains,” Swartzell comments, “He seemed to talk unreasonably, but many of the innocent dupes did not see the destruction that was coming, and I dared not give them any warning.” We have underlined the “was” to show that this entry was put down not on the day indicated but in retrospect, after the Missouri disaster.

Leon R. Hartshorn, comp., Powerful Stories from the Lives of Latter-day Saint Men, p.240

The man was gone for approximately half an hour, only to return and report that he could not budge the wounded officer-he was too heavy. It was like trying to lift a dead horse. The men started grumbling about getting out of there before someone else got hit. Someone was heard to say, “Let’s forget about the lieutenant; after all, he’s just a nigger!” At this point Sergeant Stewart turned to his men, and pulling himself up to his 65-inch stature, he spoke in very matter-of-fact tones: “I don’t care if he’s black or green or any other color. We’re not leaving without him. He wouldn’t leave any of us in similar circumstances. Besides, he’s our commanding officer and I love him like my own brother.”

Kidnapping., Times and Seasons, vol. 4 (November 1842-November 1843), Vol. 4 No. 24 November 1, 1843, p.376

To cap the climax, and put on the top-stone, we are really informed that this pack of renegadoes were taking these men for some alleged crime, committed some three or four years ago, and being such great sticklers for law and justice, came without process, decoyed and stole-not negroes, but free American citizens, for fear they could not get justice O, tempera! O, mores!! What shall we have next-a Colonel in the Illinois militia, a stickler for patriotism, a lover of equal rights; a commander of military forces, leading forth his gallant band in the honorable employment of assisting nigger drivers to steal white men. And a schoolmaster who has come here for the purpose of ‘teaching the young idea how to shoot,’ is setting his pupils a lesson that will not soon be forgotten.

The Contributor, Vol 1

Of such, we have a few, even among us. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” When they pray, and they do sometimes pray, their prayer is something after this fashion: “Oh Lord bless me and my wife, my son and his wife, us four and no more. Amen.” Thus, even in worship their narrow souls reach never beyond the feelings of selfishness, by which they are governed. Should such unfortunately bear a little brief authority among the people, the latter will be sure to mourn; for in the acts of others they always see “a nigger in the fence,” and are not slow in informing the community that they have preserved it from imminent danger and great harm, by their wonderful discovery of the said “nigger.”

The Contributor, Volume 2

Our faith, in the innocent nature of their calling, and in the purity of their designs upon our children, is further wrecked, when we hear that they tell other stories of their purposes and objects to their patrons abroad. They say that a famous bishop of one of the leading sectarian churches here, told his fellow bishops in Boston, that he could do nothing towards converting the adult Mormons to the popular creeds, for they were rooted and grounded in their delusion, but “in ten years you will see we will make great inroads upon their children.” His remarks were applauded. Remarks like this, and their bitter denunciation of our Church leaders and some of the principles of our faith, which they compare to diabolism, animalism, etc., necessarily cause thinking Latter-day Saints to suspect that “there’s a nigger in the fence” somewhere.

The Contributor, Volume 8

“You damned infernal puke, 1 we’ll learn you to come here and interrupt gentlemen! Sit down there, pointing to a very low chair, and sit still. Don’t open your head till General Smith gets through talking. If you never learned manners in Missouri, we’ll teach you that gentlemen are not to be imposed upon by a nigger-driver. You cannot kidnap men here. There’s committee in this Grove that will sit on your case; and sir, it is the highest tribunal in the United States, as from its decision there is no appeal.”

Improvement Era 1899

“The passengers shrieked with laughter; but I got out of that car pretty quick, I can tell you. That fellow was a thorougbred, and I believe he would have done it, even if his nigger had refused, which was not likely.”

Improvement Era 1900

The man who faced the court was black, with a blackness not often seen even among the negroes of the south; in age, he was perhaps sixty-five; his form was bent, not alone with age, but bent and drawn with rheumatism. His attire, such as there was of it, showed that he not only belonged to the poorer class, but that he was one of the poorest among them. As he looked around the court room, no kindly face appeared, and he knew that among those men, who had either been slave-holders themselves, or their fathers had, there was no friends for him,-the “nigger” who was charged with theft. As he spoke, his voice trembled, not alone with age, but with a tinge of fear, for he knew to whom he spoke, and how their hearts beat for a “worthless nigger.”

Improvement Era 1906

“Maybe you don’t,” replied the conductor, “but the nigger might object.”-Harper’s Weekly

Improvement Era 1910

“What did your show tickets cost ye?” continued Dick, instead of replying to the question. “I’ll bet they come mighty high. She wouldn’t go to nigger heaven.”

Improvement Era 1910

“If he was a real nigger he’d come crawling up here to ask my forgiveness in about an hour, but that fellow’s got enough white blood in him and enough education that if there’s any asking forgiveness done it’ll be old Dan Crawford that’s got to do it.”

Improvement Era 1912

“I think I could tell a ‘Mormon’ if I should see one. They’re between a Nigger and an Indian in color, old Palmer told me. Palmer, he was a trapper in the West years ago, and he saw three ‘Mormons’ once. Still I can’t exactly imagine what they look like, though I’ve seen plenty of Niggers and Indians. But I think I could tell one, though.”

Improvement Era 1914

Jones Township, Union Co. Iowa. The “Mormon’s” sojourn from 1846 to 1852-called the Big Field. It comprised sections 7, 8, 16, 17, containing 1400 acres of land. On the 23rd. of May, 1850, Wm. M. Lock, “Uncle Billy,” as he was known, and Henry Peters, settled on land owned by L. G. Williams, J. K. White, and Stephen White. The “Mormons” built a small horse-power mill for cracking corn, on Grand River. The burrs were made from common boulders known as nigger-heads. These stones can now be seen at the house of Mrs. Stephen White, on section “8”, Jones Township. They are two by one and one-half feet in diameter, and two feet thick. The “Mormon” cemetery is on the north quarter of section “8.” A head-stone remains in it, can be seen from the door yard of A. C. White. It is made of lime-stone and has cut upon it the Masonic Square and Compass, with the letters O. E. on it.

Improvement Era 1915

It was dark when the train wound down the Hudson and approached the great city. Mary, who had been sitting stiffly with her hat on for an hour had her first misgiving when she peered out through the rain-bespattered window and saw the lights of the elevated. The Fergusons, who lived in Harlem, met her at the 125th street station, so she was spared the rush and roar of the great central depot. They rushed her in a taxi to their flat. As it was already overcrowded, they explained to her that they had engaged a room for her at a “family” hotel next door, for the present, until she could look around a little more and get located. When they mentioned the price Mary felt the chills run up and down her back. Mary hunched herself on the Ferguson sofa that night and the next day she procured her trunk and took up her abode in a dark back room of the family hotel. Her one window opened onto a court which emitted many smells. At night the mice ran through her room and at two o’clock in the morning she could hear the guests stumbling up the back stairs. The hotel parlor was decorated with gilt mirrors and lacquer vases but the curtains at the windows were dirty and even the great glittering dining room at the fashionable dinner hour had an unwholesome atmosphere. The electric bulbs shone on the tinsel dresses of the women, but above the bare shoulders were sallow complexions and drug-dulled eyes. The food was mostly mixed up messes with French names. Mary had yet to learn that clean, plain food in New York cost more than “a las.” If there were any fresh eggs they never drifted down to the “Woodward;” beefsteak was the most expensive thing in the city; and even the milk, Mary imagined the nigger wench in the kitchen had stuck her finger into. When Mary thought of what she paid for these things here, and then remembered how her father toiled to wring every dollar from the soil with his potatoes and wheat, it turned her sick.

Improvement Era 1916

To be a gentleman does not mean to part your hair in the middle, and sport a gold-headed cane. It doesn’t mean to wear broadcloth. A man can be a gentleman in buckskin. A woman can be a lady in homespun. Of course, there are little courtesies and amenities, such as lifting your hat to a lady, or to someone above you in authority. These things are beautiful, and pertain to gentility. General Washington was walking one day with a friend, and they met an aged negro, who doffed his hat as they approached. Off came Washington’s hat in return. The friend was shocked: “Why, General, do you take off your hat to a nigger?” Washington replied: “Would you have me outdone in politeness by one?” A splendid answer. The Father of our Country was a true gentleman.

Improvement Era 1921

‘In Harper’s Ferry section, they’ve had an insurrection,

John Brown thought the nigger would sustain him,

But old Governor Wise put his specs upon his eyes;

And sent him to the happy land of Caanan.

Improvement Era 1921

“No! What? That nigger, wasn’t he funny, you don’t want me to get you any niggers with the house, do you?”

Improvement Era 1925

“You damned infernal Puke, (a pet nick-name for Missourians) we’ll learn you to come here and interrupt gentlemen. Sit down there and sit still. If you never learned manners in Missouri we’ll teach you that gentlemen are not to be imposed upon by a nigger-driver. You cannot kidnap men here. There is a committee in this grove that will sit on your case; and, sir, it is the highest tribunal in the United States, and from its decision there is no appeal.”

Improvement Era 1926

“No, Chrissy, he didn’t, but he has been both father and mother to me. You know it’s an awfully fine thing to be able to think of your father as the greatest man you ever knew. He made nigger-shooters for me, and showed me how to shoot ’em; there was not a boy in the neighborhood who could beat him at marbles; he taught me how to skate, to sail that tiny cat-boat of ours; he played tennis with me-and golf. In all my life, Chrissy, I have kept no secrets from him; he has been broad-minded, forgiving, understanding.”

Improvement Era 1929

Economics has had something to do with the shrinking of the family; desire for freedom and pleasure have also done their share; but sentiment has been the “nigger in the wood pile,” the unseen force which has done its best to destroy the home by shattering the glory of motherhood, and it began by undermining man first and woman afterwards.

Improvement Era 1930

Hammond (to Rowley): So this is what you brought me out in this storm for. I thought there must be a nigger in the wood pile-a Mormon apostle in trouble. Hay for a Mormon’s horses. Ha! Ha! Ha! Well, I guess not. Not at any price, Sir. Why, I’d see you in hell first. (Exits angrily.)

Improvement Era 1930

“Why did you take such offense at that red-headed nigger?” the captain queried mirthfully. “Of course he did not have much on but at that he had no less than the Samoan men usually wear and you’re no longer shocked at them.”

Improvement Era 1930

THE unhappy girl was sufficiently well-bred to take the raillery good naturedly, but the word “nigger” had aroused tumult in her breast greater than anything which had occurred since leaving home. To hear one of her own race called by that odious name was the exorbitant price she was paying for a few days of pleasure.

Improvement Era 1933

SAID the farmer to the nigger in the mellon patch: “Say young man, you cantelope with that mellon without paying for it.”-Aubrey J. Parker.

Improvement Era 1940

“Ho! Ho! for the Gingerbread Boy!” she laughed and went about getting him all happy on the inside and spick and span on the outside. “Now, let’s hurry,” she cautioned playfully. “Last one’s the nigger baby.” They started out on a run.

Improvement Era 1940

“Here, old man, this may help the nigger baby situation,” and Jimmie was forthwith hoisted to broad shoulders. It made something swell up inside of Nan. Now what other of these young know-it-alls would have done that? Those broad shoulders seemed to register the assurance that they would meet any condition or circumstance in the same way.

Improvement Era 1941

The sun had not topped Indian Mountain when they drove over a small hill and came in sight of Simpson. The oxen were all yoked to the wagons. They saw the big black climb on the lead wagon and start to untie the binding rope. Just then the loping mules came to a sudden stop, unnoticed by any except the other boy, who had stood there insisting on the trains going on. The Scotchman jumped out, a bull whip in one hand, a loaded revolver in the other. He cracked the whip uncomfortably close to the big boss “nigger,” who thought someone had taken a shot at him. Then snapped out the Scotchman: “I’ll gee ye yer pick a three things: Go on peaceably-go on by force-stay here fer coyote bait.”

Improvement Era 1941

“There’s a nigger in the woodpile, when kids don’t want to eat!” declared Mamie, sourly, brushing past with a platter of smoking ham. Rusty and Buddy edged quietly in behind her and slipped into the seats allotted them.

Improvement Era 1943

BETWEEN the covers of my Bible is an old and venerable letter. It lay there undiscovered for many years until the expression of admiration by great American critic called it to my attention. After listing for the Golden Book nine of “The Ten Books I Reread Most,” Mr. J. C. Grey, literary editor of the New York Sun added, “There they stand, my nine books like the nine little nigger boys after the fatal dinner. There is a tenth book, the best of all our English speech. The letter of Paul about Onesimus is my favorite letter.”

Improvement Era 1952

In the morning her father was tugging weakly to pull a broken spoke together and bind it with rawhide. The train was moving. Asa saw him and thought, “Now’s my chance.” His strong arms had sooned joined the splintered ends and bound them securely, receiving the gratitude of the parents and the admiration of the boys. “Us Saints have gotta help each other,” Asa offered quite solemnly. “Uh-got a little job on mah wagon wheel afore I push on. If you’d like, the gal could stay at the Fort here while I do it and then ride in the wagon, and ah’ll walk, to catch up. A one-eyed nigger could see she’s needin’ a rest from pullin’.”

Improvement Era 1952

That night when Viggo helped her make the family bed, he asked, “Tina, what does the new English word mean, ‘one-eyed nigger’?” he repeated slowly.

Improvement Era 1952

Most of the Saints were sleeping when she went to the well for water. The captain was listening to an officer, who talked loud enough that she heard. “He stabbed a darkey and ran off with the owner’s cotton money. Plantation overseer, ‘nigger driver,’ they call ’em down south. They think he joined some train for the west. Lew Pinkerton is his name,” the officer was saying.

Improvement Era 1954

“One step up and two steps back

One step up and two steps back!

Last one down is a nigger baby!”

Dickens and the Mormons by Richard J. Dunn Fn, BYU Studies, vol. 8 (1967-1968), Number 3 – Spring 1968, p.329

As an editor who exercised strict control over the articles in his journals, Dickens certainly would not have permitted the appearance of any anti-Mormon propaganda with which he did not personally agree. Thus, although there is no mention of the Mormons in Dickens’ own writing between American Notes and The Uncommercial Traveller, the articles in Household Words  and in the early volumes of All the Year Round may be accepted as reflecting his views. For the first of the articles, “In the Name of the Prophet–Smith!” appearing in Household Words  in 1851, we know from Dickens’ letters that he suggested the title and directed changes in content. The author,  James  Hannay, attacked  Mormon  “fanaticism–singing hymns to nigger tunes,”  and this attitude certainly must have pleased Dickens, who, as shown by his numerous attacks on Dissenters, distrusted fanaticism in any form. Also, Dickens approved as Hannay charged the Mormons with “the absurdity of seeing visions in the age of railways.”  Praising their “work; hard, useful, wealth-creating labour,” Hannay separated praise for practical achievement from condemnation of religious belief; he defined Mormonism as a combination of two of Joseph Smith’s personal qualities–“immense practical industry, and pitiable superstitious delusion.” It is here, and in Hannay’s remark, “What the Mormons do, seems to be excellent; what they say is mostly nonsense,”  that Dickens had his most direct editorial influence. In the letter concerning this article he admonished his sub-editor to have Hannay delete “anything about such a man [as Smith] believing in himself–which he has no right to do and which would by inference justify about anything.”  Obviously Dickens was wary of permitting the slightest suggestion that there was any spiritual truth in the  Mormon  religion, a faith about which neither he nor the majority of his readers were well informed. What is remarkable about this 1851 article is its endorsement of  Mormon  practicality. It was this aspect of the Latter-day Saints which Dickens himself praised when twelve years later he overcame his prejudice.

The Gentle Blasphemer:  Mark  Twain, Holy Scripture, and the Book of  Mormon  by Richard H. Cracroft Fn, BYU Studies, vol. 11 (1970-1971), Number 1 – Autumn 1970, p.122

And when Jim got so he could believe it was the land of Egypt he was looking at, he wouldn’t enter it standing up, but got down on his knees and took off his hat, because he said it wasn’t fittin’ for a humble poor nigger to come any other way where such men had been as  Moses  and Joseph and Pharaoh and the other prophets. He was a Presbyterian and had a most deep respect for  Moses  who was a Presbyterian, too, he said.

Sail and Rail Pioneers Before 1869, BYU Studies, vol. 35 (1995), Number 1—1995

Jean Rio Griffiths Baker Pearce, Diary, March 21, 1851, 7. At about the same time that this sister recorded her views of slavery, a brother from Scotland had a similar experience in Saint Louis:

I witnessed the sale of Negro slaves at public auction in the slave market several times, and my sympathies went out to them in their forlorn and inhuman condition. Sometimes Husbands and Wives were separated, parents from their children brothers and sisters torn away from each other, sometimes pleading to be sold together to one person, but their remonstrances and wailings fell generally on the ears of hard hearted beings destitute of any kindly or humanly feelings. Sellers, buyers, spectators alike only scoffed and laughed at their entreaties. (Richard Bee, Autobiography, 1850)

The sources reveal a few other relatively unimportant comments about blacks of that time and place. I am pleased to report that only once did the epithet nigger surface: it was expectedly in an 1864 account by a native of Saint Louis, who was “waited on by niggers”  (Moroni  Dunford, Journal; apparently written by a Mormon). In 1867 one English convert used the much less pejorative term “darkies,” as in “The crew was all darkies and not very sociable.” Charles K. Hansen, Record Books. Thomas Fisher, who sailed from Liverpool in 1854, recorded:

The passengers underwent medical inspection, the results terminating in the rejection of Sister Jane Hunter, from the London Conference, on the grounds of her being a coloured woman or [of] the Negro race. It appears that [in] New Orleans, the capital of the Slave State, Louisiana…colored persons emigrating there are liable of being kidnapped on the plea of being runaway slaves. (Thomas Fisher, Journal)

One might wonder how many “colored people” in Europe became Mormons and were not permitted to emigrate.

Milton V. Backman, Jr., Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration, p.69

After my father’s family moved to New York State, in about five years they cleared sixty acres of land, and fenced it. The timber on this land was very heavy. Some of the elms were so large that we had to nigger them off. They were too large to be cut with a cross-cut saw. We built a frame dwelling house and out buildings. My brothers Joseph and Hyrum had to work. Joseph did not have time to make gold plates.

Nelle Hatch, Colonia Juarez: An Intimate Account of a Mormon Village, p.64

Catch a nigger by the toe,

  1. Cecil McGavin, Nauvoo the Beautiful , p.66

Six yoke of oxen with yoke and chains: three bedsteads with beds: three nigger wenches: four nigger bucks: three nigger boys: four nigger girls: two prairie plows: one barrel of pickled cabbage: one lot of nigger hoses: one hogshead of tobacco: one spinning wheel: one loom: 23 fox hounds, all well trained: a lot of coon, mink and skunk hides: a lot of other articles.

  1. H. Roberts, The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo, p.222 – 223

You damned infernal Puke,  we’ll learn you to come here and interrupt gentlemen! Sit down there, pointing to a very low chair, and sit still. Don’t open your head till General Smith gets through talking. If you never learned manners in Missouri, we’ll teach you that gentlemen are not to be imposed upon by a nigger-driver. You cannot kidnap men here. There’s a committee in this grove that will sit on your case; and, sir, it is the highest tribunal in the United States, as from its decision there is no appeal.

Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 5:, p.445

“You damned infernal puke, we’ll learn you to come here and interrupt gentlemen. Sit down there, (pointing to a very low chair,) and sit still. Don’t open your head till General Smith gets through talking. If you never learned manners in Missouri, we’ll teach you that gentlemen are not to be imposed upon by a nigger-driver. You cannot kidnap men here, if you do in Missouri; and if you attempt it here, there’s a committee in this grove that will sit on your case; and, sir, it is the highest tribunal in the United States, as from its decision there is no appeal.”

Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 5:, p.472

Sheriff Reynolds entered the room and said, pointing to me, “I wish you to understand (his man is my prisoner, and I want you should disperse. You must not gather round here in this way.” Upon which, an aged gentleman, who was lame and carried a large hickory walking-stick, advanced towards Reynolds, bringing his hickory upon the floor and said, “You damned infernal puke! we’ll learn you to come here and interrupt gentlemen. Sit down there [pointing to a very low chair] and sit still. Don’t open your head till General Smith gets through talking. If you never learned manners in Missouri, we’ll teach you that gentlemen are not to be imposed upon by a nigger-driver. You cannot kidnap men here, if you do in Missouri; and if you attempt it here, there is a committee in this grove that will sit on your case. And, sir, it is the highest tribunal in the United States, as from its decision there is no appeal.”

Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, p.286

“You–Infernal puke, we’ll learn you to come here and interrupt gentlemen. Sit down there (pointing to a very low chair), and sit still. Don’t open your head till General Smith gets through talking. If you never learned manners in Missouri, we’ll teach you that gentlemen are not to be imposed upon by a nigger-driver. You cannot kidnap men here, if you do in Missouri; and if you attempt it here, there’s a committee in this grove that will sit on your case; and sir, it is the highest tribunal in the United States, as from its decision there is no appeal!”

George Q. Cannon, The Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, p.447

You damned infernal puke, we’ll learn you to come here and interrupt gentlemen. Sit down there, [pointing to a very low chair] and sit still. Don’t you open your head till General Smith gets through talking. If you never learned manners in Missouri, we’ll teach you that gentlemen are not to be imposed upon by a nigger-driver. You cannot kidnap men here. There’s a committee in this grove that will sit on your case; and, sir, it is the highest tribunal in the United States, as from its decision there is no appeal.

John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith, an American Prophet, p.169

Here he remained the entire time-nearly a year, sleeping on straw without any bedding, eating corn pone “so hard you could knock a nigger down with it,” and being served at other times with food so putrid he could not eat it. On being incarcerated all his possessions, except the clothes he stood up in, were taken away from him-a bowie knife, a brace of pistols, and a watch. Here, too, he was “ironed.” Once he escaped, but was immediately caught, and came within an ace of being lynched. In the daylight he spent his time fishing for “pukes” with a bent pin out of an upper window. “Puke” was a name given a Missourian.

John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith, an American Prophet, p.174

Many friends, on that long journey of two hundred and sixty miles, came to the Prophet’s aid. At Dixon, as we have seen, they made it possible for him to consult a lawyer. In another place they thwarted a plot on the part of Reynolds and Wilson to escape with him into Missouri, where men were waiting to do their pleasure. And at still another point an old gentleman with a heavy cane, when the sheriffs objected to the Prophet making an address to the crowds, bluntly told them that “nigger-driving pukes” could not “kidnap men here,” and if they were not careful “a committee in this grove” would handle their case, “from whose decision there was no appeal.”

Clarissa Young Spencer, Brigham Young at Home, p.138

Don Carlos, the only son now living, thought that he preferred to be with the teamsters, so Father immediately took him out of school and put him to work driving a pair of blind mules up to the sawmill in City Creek Canyon to get flooring for the Tabernacle. Carlos didn’t like driving the mules either so he went back and finished college and then went to Troy, New York, to the Rensselaer Polytechnic School of Engineering. He entered with five conditions but was graduated and came back to Utah, where he first taught in the Brigham Young University and eventually became Church architect. Altogether, five of the boys went to Eastern universities. Willard W. went to West Point and was an outstanding student there. The New York papers carried stories of the Mormon and the nigger at West Point, and there were actually people who came from the city to see the two curiosities. Willard became a Colonel in the United States Army, was an instructor at West Point for some years, fought in the Spanish-American War, and was head engineer for the locks on the Columbia River.

Llewelyn R. McKay, Home Memories of President David O. McKay, p.157

“Over fifty years have passed since I sailed from Philadelphia for my first mission. . . . Among the passengers were the Fiske Jubilee Singers, going abroad on a concert tour. They were a famous colored chorus. As we were standing aside getting our assignments to dining room tables, word passed among the missionaries that we were going to be seated at the same table with the Negroes. One unwise member . . . spoke out in loud tones so that the Negroes could hear: ‘I’ll not sit at the table with any nigger!’ It was a very disrespectful remark, and . . . it wounded the feelings of our colored friends. I noticed before we were very far out at sea, that the leader of the Jubilee Singers was an honored guest at the captain’s table, and that the night before landing at the usual concert given by the passengers, the soloist of that group indicated, I thought, a good rebuke to the elder who made the unwise remark. The soprano, a beautiful mulatto, had been sick nearly all the way across, but she came to the concert that night and sang a lovely song, the chorus of which is this:

William Clayton, William Clayton’s Journal: A Daily Record of the Journey of the Original Company of Mormon Pioneers from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake [Salt Lake City: Clayt, p.189

“I remarked last Sunday that I had not felt much like preaching to the brethren on this mission. This morning I feel like preaching a little, and shall take for my text, ‘That as to pursuing our journey with this company with the spirit they possess, I am about to revolt against it.’ This is the text I feel like preaching on this morning, consequently I am in no hurry. In the first place, before we left Winter Quarters, it was told to the brethren and many knew it by experience, that we had to leave our homes, our houses, our land and our all because we believed in the Gospel as revealed to the Saints in these last days. The rise of the persecutions against the Church was in consequence of the doctrines of eternal truth taught by Joseph. Many knew this by experience. Some lost their husbands, some lost their wives, and some their children through persecution, and yet we have not been disposed to forsake the truth and turn and mingle with the gentiles, except a few who have turned aside and gone away from us, and we have learned in a measure, the difference between a professor of religion and a possessor of religion. Before we left Winter Quarters it was told to the brethren that we were going to look out a home for the Saints where they would be free from persecution by the gentiles, where we could dwell in peace and serve God according to the Holy Priesthood, where we could build up the kingdom so that the nations would begin to flock to our standard. I have said many things to the brethren about the strictness of their walk and conduct when we left the gentiles, and told them that we would have to walk upright or the law would be put in force, etc. Many have left and turned aside through fear, but no good upright, honest man will fear. The Gospel does not bind a good man down and deprive him of his rights and privileges. It does not prevent him from enjoying the fruits of his labors. It does not rob him of blessings. It does not stop his increase. It does not diminish his kingdom, but it is calculated to enlarge his kingdom as well as to enlarge his heart. It is calculated to give him privileges and power, and honor, and exaltation and everything which his heart can desire in righteousness all the days of his life, and then, when he gets exalted into the eternal world he can still turn around and say it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive the glory and honor and blessings which God hath in store for those that love and serve Him. I want the brethren to understand and comprehend the principles of eternal life, and to watch the spirit, be wide awake and not be overcome by the adversary. You can see the fruits of the spirit, but you cannot see the spirit itself with the natural eye, you behold it not. You can see the result of yielding to the evil spirit and what it will lead you to, but you do not see the spirit itself nor its operations, only by the spirit that’s in you. Nobody has told me what has been going on in the camp, but I have known it all the while. I have been watching its movements, its influence, its effects, and I know the result if it is not put a stop to. I want you to understand that inasmuch as we are beyond the power of the gentiles where the devil has tabernacles in the priests and the people, we are beyond their reach, we are beyond their power, we are beyond their grasp, and what has the devil now to work upon ? Upon the spirits of men in this camp, and if you do not open your hearts so that the Spirit of God can enter your hearts and teach you the right way, I know that you are a ruined people and will be destroyed and that without remedy, and unless there is a change and a different course of conduct, a different spirit to what is now in this camp, I go no farther. I am in no hurry. Give me the man of prayers, give me the man of faith, give me the man of meditation, a sober-minded man, and I would far rather go amongst the savages with six or eight such men than to trust myself with the whole of this camp with the spirit they now possess. Here is an opportunity for every man to prove himself, to know whether he will pray and remember his God without being asked to do it every day; to know whether he will have confidence enough to ask of God that he may receive without my telling him to do it. If this camp was composed of men who had newly received the Gospel, men who had not received the priesthood, men who had not been through the ordinances in the temple and who had not had years of experience, enough to have learned the influence of the spirits and the difference between a good and an evil spirit, I should feel like preaching to them and watching over them and telling them all the time, day by day. But here are the Elders of Israel, men who have had years of experience, men who have had the priesthood for years,-and have they got faith enough to rise up and stop a mean, low, groveling, covetous, quarrelsome spirit ? No, they have not, nor would they try to stop it, unless I rise up in the power of God and put it down. I do not mean to bow down to the spirit that is in this camp, and which is rankling in the bosoms of the brethren, and which will lead to knock downs and perhaps to the use of the knife to cut each other’s throats if it is not put a stop to. I do not mean to bow down to the spirit which causes the brethren to quarrel. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I hear is some of the brethren jawing each other and quarreling because a horse has got loose in the night. I have let the brethren dance and fiddle and act the nigger night after night to see what they will do, and what extremes they would go to, if suffered to go as far as they would. I do not love to see it. The brethren say they want a little exercise to pass away time in the evenings, but if you can’t tire yourselves bad enough with a day’s journey without dancing every night, carry your guns on your shoulders and walk, carry your wood to camp instead of lounging and lying asleep in your wagons, increasing the load until your teams are tired to death and ready to drop to the earth. Help your teams over mud holes and bad places instead of lounging in your wagons and that will give you exercise enough without dancing. Well, they will play cards, they will play checkers, they will play dominoes, and if they had the privilege and were where they could get whiskey, they would be drunk half their time, and in one week they would quarrel, get to high words and draw their knives to kill each other. This is what such a course of things would lead to. Don’t you know it? Yes. Well, then, why don’t you try to put it down? I have played cards once in my life since I became a Mormon to see what kind of spirit would attend it, and I was so well satisfied, that I would rather see in your hands the dirtiest thing you could find on the earth, than a pack of cards. You never read of gambling, playing cards, checkers, dominoes, etc., in the scriptures, but you do read of men praising the Lord in the dance, but who ever read of praising the Lord in a game at cards? If any man had sense enough to play a game at cards, or dance a little without wanting to keep it up all the time, but exercise a little and then quit it and think no more of it, it would do well enough, but you want to keep it up till midnight and every night, and all the time. You don’t know how to control your senses. Last winter when we had our seasons of recreation in the council house, I went forth in the dance frequently, but did my mind run on it? No! To be sure, when I was dancing, my mind was on the dance, but the moment I stopped in the middle or the end of a tune, my mind was engaged in prayer and praise to my Heavenly Father and whatever I engage in, my mind is on it while engaged in it, but the moment I am done with it, my mind is drawn up to my God. The devils which inhabit the gentiles’ priests are here. The tabernacles are not here, we are out of their power, we are beyond their grasp, we are beyond the reach of their persecutions, but the devils are here, and the first thing you’ll know if you don’t open your eyes and your hearts, they will cause divisions in our camp and perhaps war, as they did with the Lamanites as you read in the Book of Mormon. Do we suppose that we are going to look out a home for the Saints, a resting place, a place of peace where they can build up the kingdom and bid the nations welcome, with a low, mean, dirty, trifling, covetous, wicked spirit dwelling in our bosoms? It is vain! vain! Some of you are very fond of passing jokes, and will carry your jokes very far. But will you take a joke? If you do not want to take a joke, don’t give a joke to your brethren. Joking, nonsense, profane language, trifling conversation and loud laughter do not belong to us. Suppose the angels were witnessing the hoe down the other evening, and listening to the haw haws the other evening, would they not be ashamed of it? I am ashamed of it. I have not given a joke to any man on this journey nor felt like it; neither have I insulted any man’s feelings but I have hollowed pretty loud and spoken sharply to the brethren when I have seen their awkwardness at coming to camp. The  revelations  in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, teach us to be sober; and let me ask you elders that have been through the ordinances in the temple, what were your covenants there? I say you should remember them. When I laugh I see my folly and nothingness and weakness and am ashamed of myself. I think meaner and worse of myself than any man can think of me; but I delight in God, and in His commandments and delight to meditate on Him and to serve Him and I mean that everything in me shall be subjected to Him. Now let every man repent of his weakness, of his follies, of his meanness, and every kind of wickedness, and stop your swearing and profane language, for it is in this camp and I know it, and have known it. I have said nothing about it, but I now tell you, if you don’t stop it you shall be cursed by the Almighty and shall dwindle away and be damned. Such things shall not be suffered in this camp. You shall honor God, and confess His name or else you shall suffer the penalty. Most of this camp belong to the Church, nearly all; and I would say to you brethren, and to the Elders of Israel, if you are faithful, you will yet be sent to preach this Gospel to the nations of the earth and bid all welcome whether they believe the Gospel or not, and this kingdom will reign over many who do not belong to the Church, over thousands who do not believe in the Gospel. Bye and bye every knee shall bow and every tongue confess and acknowledge and reverence and honor the name of God and His priesthood and observe the laws of the kingdom whether they belong to the Church and obey the Gospel or not, and I mean that every man in this camp shall do it. That is what the scripture means by every knee shall bow, etc., and you cannot make anything else out of it. I understand there are several in this camp who do not belong to the Church. I am the man who will stand up for them and protect them in all their rights. And they shall not trample on our rights nor on the priesthood. They shall reverence and acknowledge the name of God and His priesthood, and if they set up their heads and seek to introduce iniquity into this camp and to trample on the priesthood, I swear to them, they shall never go back to tell the tale. I will leave them where they will be safe. If they want to retreat they can now have the privilege, and any man who chooses to go back rather than abide the law of God can now have the privilege of doing so before we go any farther. Here are the Elders of Israel who have the priesthood, who have got to preach the Gospel who have to gather the nations of the earth, who have to build up the kingdom so that the nations can come to it, they will stop to dance as niggers. I don’t mean this as debasing the negroes by any means; they will hoe down all, turn summersets, dance on their knees, and haw, haw, out loud; they will play cards, they will play checkers and dominoes, they will use profane language, they will swear! Suppose when you go to preach, the people should ask you what you did when you went on this mission to seek out a home for the whole Church, what was your course of conduct? Did you dance? Yes. Did you hoe down all? Yes. Did you play cards? Yes. Did you play checkers? Yes. Did you use profane language? Yes. Did you swear? Yes. Did you quarrel with each other and threaten each other? Why yes. How would you feel? What would you say for yourselves ? Would you not want to go and hide up? Your mouths would be stopped and you would want to creep away in disgrace. I am one of the last to ask my brethren to enter into solemn covenants, but if they will not enter into a covenant to put away their iniquity and turn to the Lord and serve Him and acknowledge and honor His name, I want them to take their wagons and retreat back, for I shall go no farther under such a state of things. If we don’t repent and quit our wickedness we will have more hindrances than we have had, and worse storms to encounter. I want the brethren to be ready for meeting tomorrow at the time appointed, instead of rambling off, and hiding in their wagons to play cards, etc. I think it will be good for us to have a fast meeting tomorrow and a prayer meeting to humble ourselves and turn to the Lord and he will forgive us.”

John Butler, Autobiography, Byu Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p.26

I went home with Brother Joseph to the mansion house and saw the prisoners safely under guard. They did not know what to think; they thought that they were about done for; they thought that they would be killed; they took their trial, but Brother Joseph did not want to hurt them at all, so he let them go home and told them in the future to do unto others as they would that others should do unto them. They looked very sheepish; they went home and left us once more to ourselves, but there were lots of apostates there so that Brother Joseph could hardly not make a move without its going abroad to the mobs. There was a widow woman who lived close to us who had her husband die. She had been kept by the bishop of the ward and some of the neighbors. My wife used to take her quantities of food. So one night when I was gone out, one of the sisters that lived close by went to her house and she would not let her in. She asked her the reason. She said that she had company and she would open to the door to nobody. So the sister came to our house and my wife told her that she had thought for several months that she kept company with those she ought not to, so they agreed to go to Sister Chapman and Sister Louis [Lewis?] and get them to go up there and ask her the reason that she acted so and would not open the door to the sister who had treated her with so much kindness. So they went and asked her and she said that it was none of their business. “Well,” they said, “I don’t see the reason why you cannot let us in.” She was looking over the door; there was a space above the door and she said that she had company and she would not let us in. They then spoke up and said, “Well, I would be ashamed if I had a nigger in the house with me,” and every taunting words that they could to induce her to open the door, but she would not; so they went home.

Catherine Ellen Camp Greer, Autobiography, Byu Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p.1

I was born in the town of Dresden, Tennessee, on the 17 day of October, 1837. I was the 10th child. My mother had 15 children and I was the 10th one. I did not go to school anymore until I went to Nauvoo. But just before my father went to Nauvoo he was fixing his wagon. That was after he joined the church and everybody went against him. He was a blacksmith by trade and had a nigger man to help him. He was setting a little board in shape and there came a mob of 15 men. I saw the men and they said they came to give my father some tar and feathers. They were all painted up, father was hammering, and the old nigger was … and father threw a hammer across the floor and knocked down at least two of the men. Then he gathered up irons in every  direction and went after them. The nigger and I went behind the bellows and hid. When my father came back he asked Ike (Ike was the nigger man)” Ike, you black rascal, why didn’t you help fight those men?” Ike didn’t look up but said, “Well, Massa William, I thought you was enough for them few men.” My father laughed but said no more to him. “Yes sir, he just gathered up those irons and fought his way through” as Brother Brigham always told father. Father said he did not want a religion if he could not fight for it. If it wasn’t worth fighting for, he did not want it.

Catherine Ellen Camp Greer, Autobiography, Byu Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p.3

That old nigger, Uncle Ike, that was so cowardly before when the mob came after my father at the blacksmith shop, kept the mob away this time from Joseph and Hyrum. They came and he told them they had not better come inside of that gate; that if they came inside of that gate, some of them would get hurt. They did not come in and later Brother Joseph and Hyrum walked right out by them but not one lifted his hand to hurt them.

Catherine Ellen Camp Greer, Autobiography, Byu Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p.4

My mother kinda came into the Church through a miracle. She had a boy who was sick with the measles and he had had them so long and was so weak that they did not know what minute he might die. One night she got tired of watching over him and thought maybe it was wrong to hold on to him and she said, “I will just go before my Heavenly Father,” and she did and prayed to Him. The next morning when the nigger man came in to make the fire and my brother was standing by the fireplace, he was so astonished he did not know what to do. It was in direct answer to her prayers and she was converted to the Church. Of course, when she got to investigating she found out that her old religion was nothing to compare with Mormonism.

Catherine Ellen Camp Greer, Autobiography, Byu Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p.6

My father was quite a wealthy man and when he traveled it was just like he was at home. He had his linen napkins and table cloths, and a table that let down on hinges and had four spike legs for it. My father told this old nigger man, Uncle Ike, if he would help him as far as Nauvoo, he would give him and his family their liberty. They were slaves then. We had a mare along and one night she had a mule colt. Father said “Do not try to take that colt along, just leave it by the side of the road.” I begged Uncle Ike to put it in the commissary wagon which was big as a house. . . .

Luman Shurtliff, Autobiography, Byu Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p.33

On the first Monday in August [1838] an election [at Gallatin] was held. It was the lawful right of the Mormons to vote, but the Missourians swore the Mormons should not vote, saying they had no more right to vote than a “nigger.” This was trying to free born American citizens.

Testimonies of Book of Mormon Witnesses, p.643

After my father’s family moved to New York State, in about five years they cleared sixty acres of land, and fenced it. The timber on this land was very heavy. Some of the elms were so large that we had to nigger them off. They were too large to be cut with a cross-cut saw. We built a frame dwelling house and out buildings. My brothers Joseph and Hyrum had to work. Joseph did not have time to make gold plates.

Search for “Darky” © 2004 and 2005 LDS Media,  ISBN:  978-0-974708-04-1

Improvement Era 1903

“It looks like a desert, instead of a garden of Eden, Foxy. I can’t say that the landscape holds any charms for me. Too much sage and sand. I reckon, that river is the Jordan. Well, Foxy, there is one more river to cross, as the darky says, and it ain’t far off. If the girl who left that keepsake is here, and her mind hasn’t changed, I’m likely to stay’till I cross the river Jordan for the last time. But women change their minds, I’ve heard, Foxy, pretty frequent, and I ain’t quite sure about absence making the heart grow fonder. However, we will soon know.” Foxy barked, but it was at a Jack rabbit that ran out of a sage bush.

Imrpovement Era 1907

“Birds is shore sensible,” observed one darky to the other. “Yo’ kin learn them anything. I uster work for a lady that had one in a clock, an’ when it was time to tell the time it uster come out an’ say cuckoo just as many times as de time was!”

Imrpovement Era 1907

“Shore thing!” responded the first darky. “But de mos’ wonderful part was dat it was only a wooden bird, too!”

Improvement Era 1909

Who is he, that great, little man, erect

Above the crowd, whose voice electrifies

The noisy, senseless mass? see how they stare

In breathless ecstasy, to give applause

At each turned period of his wild harangue!

Hear how he shrieks and moans in mimicry-

The broken bonds of sable wedded life-

The squalling papoose from its mother torn-

The rope-the thong-the bleeding wounds-the claim

That Legree fastens on his weeping slaves.

Anon, he pleads in stirring strains the wrongs

And woes of slavery. The black depot

Where wounds are dressed, and trim attire put on

For market, and the heartless human sale,

And separation of the darky throng.

Thus point by point he lures the thoughtless mind,

Till frenzy grasps the phantom of its ire-

The spectral image of his rhetoric-

They rise, as the dark troubled ocean heaves,

And with uplifted hands to heaven, they shout,

“Hurrah for Douglass and for liberty!”

Roused by his wind-made speech of gas, he laughs

At the perverted use of eloquence,

For other ends designed, to raise himself

To fortune, fame and sovereignty.

List! now the subject’s changed; in holy twang

He looks to where the florid sun declines

Far o’er the Rocky Mountains in the West,

Where “Mormondom” defies the strength of states

To war against her crime, and makes the sun,

When near her setting, blush in crimson shame,

To hear the sequel of their glaring deeds,

If tropes and figures could infuse alarms.

Hear him, O ye gods of man-made worship!

How he declaims against fair Deseret,

For incest, murder and polygamy.

See, how he weeps o’er fallen virtue dead,

And cries aloud for vengeance from the heavens,

To be revenged on the defiled race,

And like another Shylock, vampire, he

Demands with savage cry, his pound of flesh!

“Yes, yes, extermination, fire and sword

Must end this conflict, with this sacrifice

As an atonement for their lustful deeds.”

So spake this little, mighty, selfish man,

While the vain, giddy, false-led multitude

Hurra’d again, and sought to raise him up

With buoyant hope, to be their future chief.

‘Tis true the Prophet warned him not to raise

His voice against the Saints; or, if he did,

He never would attain the envied seat

His craven soul ambitiously desired.

But pride, prosperity and worldly fame

Confirmed the prophecy, in his elate-

A matter of distrust, and so he fell

From the dread pinnacle of empty fame,

Like the shot-meteor gas above our heads,

By its own element expunged, blazed forth,

And for a moment seemed a star of heaven.

Improvement Era 1913

A Washington man one day went out of town for a day’s fishing, taking a luncheon with him. When he had reached the stream where he intended to enjoy his sport he discovered that he had dropped his luncheon somewhere on the way. He hastened back to look for it. Presently he met a burly darky, who seemed very well pleased with himself, and who was in the act of brushing crumbs from his lips with his sleeve.

Improvement Era 1929

TWO hundred stories were submitted to competent judges, but very few of them qualified. However, one of the judges ranked a given joke as nearly perfect “from the psychological point of view.” What is your estimate of it? A traveler in the South passed by a farm where a colored man was plowing with a very large horse and a diminutive mule. “Boy,” said the traveler, “isn’t the work pretty hard on that little mule?” “Nossuh, nossuh, boss,” answered the darky, “dis work don’t hurt him none.” “But,” persisted the traveler, “you don’t mean to tell me that this little mule can do as much work as that big horse?” “Nossuh, boss, he kaint do as much work, but I done fix dat. You see I’s been givin’ de mule de sho’t end of de double-tree.”

Improvement Era 1938

In reporting his activities the Deseret News says: “He could be relied upon to do a Shakespearean King, or a plantation darky with equal facility and in a high style all his own.” In commenting on his own dramatic activities, Ottinger says his specialty was playing the part of dukes and kings.

Improvement Era 1942

There is also a strong urge to pay obligations, particularly if they are pressing and urgent. It is much like the story of the old darky who would not pay his church dues. A committee visited him to find out the reason. “De Lord don’t press me like my other creditors is.”

Improvement Era 1943

“Ho! This chile am sure some punkins!” said the grinning darky, York, as he wrapped a soft deerskin around the plump Indian baby. “Jes’ wait till my redhead Cap’n Clark sees this head of black hair. Won’t he wish it was his’n!”

Improvement Era 1943

Then on holidays or on evenings after the work was done, York would dance in true darky style. His big feet would clump the board floors with the rat-tat-tat of a drum, and the Indians would marvel that this giant could be lithe as a maiden.

Nelle Hatch, Colonia Juarez: An Intimate Account of a Mormon Village, p.135

The celebration on July 24th, 1900 was a typical combination of humor and pathos which dramatized in a parade two blocks long pioneering as they knew it. Fifteen years of labor and sacrifice had paid off in improved living conditions, but was not so far removed that its hardships were forgotten. Early beginnings were safely down memory’s lane and could be viewed passively, could even be cartooned in a parade that merged the ridiculous with the sublime. Leading the procession was Bishop Sevey in slouch hat and bushy whiskers. By his side sat his wife Martha Ann, in a billowing wrapper and clutching frantically but patriotically a huge red, white, and green flag. Drawing his wagon and giving it special recognition was old Darky, the faithful and still active mare who with her mate carried the Sevey family from Panguitch in 1885. In the wagon sat straw-hatted and tattered childen peering from the folds of a patched and torn wagon cover. Other dilapidated wagons followed with old covers stretched over bows of all kinds and sizes, drawn by burros and worn-out horses. Harnesses had tugs ingeniously mended with baling wire, with burlap padding under the collars, and with no breeching. Women in slat bonnets, torn and patched wrappers, knitted as they sat perched in all positions in and on the wagons.

Robert Gardner, Autobiography, Byu Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p.9

He traveled around town [Nauvoo] a good deal and some in the country made some acquaintances heard some of the apostles preach and learn a little how the kingdom of God was build up, he started back for Canada. He had an empty sack, no crackers into but he had some faith and very little money. He started to walk to Chicago, 160 miles. The prairies were thinly settled and it was then that he would get lonesome. He would sit down to rest. He would sing, “Hail to the prophet, Ascended to heaven.” Then he could get up and start on. When he reached Chicago he had neither begged nor stolen but my money was all gone. Then he tried all the steam boats to get a chance to work my passage down the lakes but they refused me until he reached the last boat and he seen the captain and he said, “Yes. You come along in the morning and help the Negroes load wood,” and then he had a time of rejoicing to think how he was blessed. Morning come and the Negros come with two sticks to pack the wood on, but he was so much larger than Robert, he had to get he longest ends of the sticks. He would pile the work up against Robert’s arms and when the darky got tired another darky would change. But there was no change for that poor Mormon. But the boat took him one hundred miles past where he wanted to go. But he made friends on the boat and got along fine but he had to run his face to get back but he was blessed again and he got home.

Search for “Sambo” © 2004 and 2005 LDS Media,  ISBN:  978-0-974708-04-1

President Rudger Clawson, Conference Report, October 1920, First Day—Morning Session, p.22

Forgiveness is one of the most attractive and beautiful principles of the gospel of Christ. You know Moses said: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” He is a God of mercy and of forgiveness and is long-suffering. We should be like him. Do you know that what some people call forgiveness is not always forgiveness. “Yes,” says one who has been wronged, “I’ll forgive but not forget.” I am reminded of the story of the two darkies, Rastus and Sambo. These darkies were at enmity all their lives. There was a great feud between them until Sambo came to his death-bed, and a friend said to him: “Sambo, in this solemn moment, surely you will forgive Rastus.” Sambo said, “Yes,” and turning to Rastus remarked, “Rastus, if I dies you are forgiven, but if I lives, look out for me.” Another illustration. One friend said to another: “Do you love your enemies?” He answered: “No sir, but I sympathize with them.” “Well, I did not know they needed sympathy.” “They don’t,” he said, “but they will when I get through with them.” Remember, the admonition is, seek diligently faith, hope and charity, but the greatest of these is charity.

Imrpovement Era 1907

On his next trip to the city she accompanied him. They visited the same hotel, and when the noon meal was being served he said to his wife that he hoped they had some more of that honey. It did not appear, however, and the newspaper man, therefore, beckoned to a waiter and said: “Say, Sambo, where is my honey?” He was almost paralyzed when that worthy grinned and replied: “She doan work here no more, boss. She done got a job at the silk mill.”

Improvement Era 1936

SAMBO: “Didn’t you tell me that ‘procrastinate’ means to ‘put off?’ ”

Improvement Era 1936

Sambo: “Den, why did that street car conductor laugh when I says: ‘Procrastinate me at Twenty-first Street?’ ”

Improvement Era 1936

SAMBO-“What am you doing now?” Rastus-“I’se an exporter.” Sambo-“An exporter!” Rastus-“Yep, the Pullman Company just fired me.”

Improvement Era 1938

SAMBO, a Southern darkey, married Liza. In about two weeks he came to the reverend gentleman who had tied the knot, looking as if he had lost his last friend in the world.

Improvement Era 1938

“What’s the matter, Sambo; aren’t you happy?” the preacher inquired.

Improvement Era 1938

“I’m sorry to hear that, Sambo, but you must remember that you took Liza for better or worse.”

Improvement Era 1940

Judge: “Have you a lawyer to look after your interests, Sambo?”

Improvement Era 1940

Sambo: “Nossuh, Judge, we done decided to tell the whole trufe.”

Improvement Era 1941

Doctor: “Sambo, how is it your family keeps so healthy?

Improvement Era 1941

Sambo: “Well, suh, we’s done bought one o’ dem sanitary drinking cups, and we all drink outen it.”

Improvement Era 1945

Judge Duff: “Have you a lawyer, Sambo?”

Improvement Era 1945

Sambo: “Naw, suh, Jedge. I done decided to tell de troof.”

Mischievous Puck and the Mormons, 1904-1907  by Davis Bitton and Gary L. Bunker Fn, BYU Studies, vol. 18 (1977-1978), Number 4 – Summer 1978, p.514

Thirty years of illustrating Mormons off and on in Puck ended during the last year of the Smoot hearings put their final touches on the  Mormon  image. The first, published on 9 January 1907, parodied polygamy by having “Elder Studdorse” invite a friend to his silver, tin, and wooden wedding anniversaries within a two week period (see Illustration 11). The surname Studdorse, borrowed by Ehrhart from one of Albert Levering’s earlier cartoons served as an obvious collective symbol for lust (studhorse), to characterize the stereotyped  Mormon  behavior pattern. Other  Mormon  names in the cartoons–Elder Muchmore, Elder Heaperholmes, Elder Holikuss, Mr. Mormondub, Obadiah, Tootsie-Wootsie, and Elder Saltlake–did not carry the same connotation of lust but did help to turn their subjects into figures of ridicule. Similar motives were responsible for the labeling of other minority groups (e.g., Rastus, Aunt Jemima, and Sambo).

Mischievous Puck and the Mormons, 1904-1907  by Davis Bitton and Gary L. Bunker Fn, BYU Studies, vol. 18 (1977-1978), Number 4 – Summer 1978, p.519

But it would be a mistake to consider the new century’s caricature of the  Mormon  in Puck as innocuous. Koestler has reminded us that among the indispensable characteristics of most humor is “. . . an impulse, however faint, of aggression or apprehension,” which “may be manifested in the guise of malice, derision, the veiled cruelty of condescension, or merely as an absence of sympathy with the victim of the joke.”  Inherent in the comic treatment of Mormons was a mood of condescension. Humor continued to set Mormons apart as a distinct cultural (some even suggested racial) species. Such a difference has been the major pretext for prejudice from the beginning of time. To be sure, humor dressed the hostility in culturally acceptable clothing, protecting the creator and the consumer from charges of malicious intent. But what was thought by many to be begin humor, as in the case of the Sambo and minstrel images portraying blacks,  was actually profound tragedy. If the cost exacted from Mormons for being so pictured was not so great as for blacks, the dynamics were the same.

Mischievous Puck and the Mormons, 1904-1907  by Davis Bitton and Gary L. Bunker Fn, BYU Studies, vol. 18 (1977-1978), Number 4 – Summer 1978, p.519

Cf. Joseph Boskin, “Sambo: The National Jester in the Popular Culture,” in Gary B. Nash and Richard

Weiss, ed., The Great Fear: Race in the Mind of America (New York: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston, 1970), pp. 165-85.

Sarah Dearmon Pea Rich, Autobiography, Byu Special Collections, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints, p.14

At any rate he had retired for the night, and left old Sambo, as he called his Negro to watch, and all around the house was thick clusters of blackberry briars, as they were then called, and they grew so thick it was hard to penetrate into them. So away in the dead of night the faithful old slave discovered the enemy was upon them, so he ran and told his master to escape as quick as he could for the British were upon them. The old gentleman was frightened and confused and only had time to gather his clothing in his hands and said to his faithful slave Sambo. Where shall I go? The old Negro said: “Take to the bush, Massah, take to the briers.” So the old man plunged into the blackberry patch far enough to be hid from all view and lay on his face scarcely daring to move for fear of discovery, but was near enough to hear all that was going on.

Mormonism and Black Skin

“But let them apostatize, and they will become gray-haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 332

When Mormon missionaries come to the door of literally thousands of potential converts they will assure the unsuspecting that they represent “Jesus Christ” and are preaching His Gospel. However, that is not the case on many accounts. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) cannot escape their racist past. For nearly 150 years, the Mormon Church had taught that ALL blacks were cursed. Hence, a black Mormon male could not hold the highly regarded LDS Priesthood1 because of his dark skin. And since he could not hold this Priesthood, he could not enter the Mormon Temple. This doctrine in no way, shape, or form can be substantiated in Scripture. Only in the LDS scriptures does this racist doctrine exist.

To determine official LDS doctrine from unofficial speculation let us read the statements that were made by the General Authorities of the LDS Church as well as citations from the LDS “standard works.” So then, official LDS teaching cannot be evaded or denied as many Mormons (especially uninformed missionaries) often do.


Cursed in Pre-existence

But, before we read what LDS leaders have taught concerning the “cursed line,” we will need to go back and discover as to why dark skinned people are cursed. Then we will have a better understanding of Mormon thought on this issue. Mormons teach that when the “council of the Gods” were planning how to redeemed mankind Jesus desired to save man by giving them their free choice, however Lucifer objected and wanted to force men to serve God.

LDS scholar Bruce R. McConkie tells us:

When the plan of salvation presented . . . and when the need for a Redeemer was explained, Satan offered to come into the world as the Son of God and be the Redeemer. “Behold here am I, send me,” he said. . . . But then, as always, he was in opposition to the full plan of the Father, and so he sought to amend and change the terms of salvation; he sought to deny men their agency and to dethrone God (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 193).

Therefore, the Gods rejected Lucifer’s plan, which resulted in a war between the good spirit children, and the spirit children that sided with Lucifer (a third of them). But there was a group of spirits that were less valiant in this war. Hence, God (the head God) was very displeased with them so He turned their skin black. Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith explains:

There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient; more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there [pre-existence] received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less. . . . There were no neutrals in the war in Heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:61, 65-66; emphasis added).

LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie furthers this teaching:

Those who were less valiant in pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions impose on them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God, and his murder of Able being a black skin. . . . Noah’s son married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain, thus preserving the negro lineage through the flood. . . . the negro are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concern. . . . ” (Mormon Doctrine, 527-28; 1966 orig. ed., changed in the current ed.; emphasis added).

Now, we can have more of a clearer perspective as to why the LDS would teach such blatant racism that Scripture never condones. Now we will read what LDS General Authorities had taught concerning the, what they termed, “cursed lineage,” that is, dark skinned people (particularly Negroes).


LDS Presidents/Prophets

Joseph Smith first president, prophet, and founder of the Mormon Church:

Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 270; History of the Church, 5: 218; emphasis added).

“Thursday, 8–Held Mayor’s court and tried two negroes for attempting to marry two white women: fined one $25, and the other $5” (ibid., 6: 210).

and the rebellious niggers in the slave states. . . ” (Millennial Star, 22:602; emphasis added).

When Mormon Historians reprinted this in the History of the Church, they change it to read:

“and the rebellious negroes in the slave states. . . ” (History of the Church, 6:158; emphasis added).
Brigham Young second President and Prophet:

You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. . . . Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which was the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another cursed is pronounced upon the same race–that they should be the “servants of servants;” and they will be until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree (Journal of Discourses, 7:290; emphasis added)

Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be (ibid., 10:110; emphasis added)
Brigham Young stated that his sermons (as cited above) are Scripture:

I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of man, that they may not call Scripture (ibid., 13:95).
John Taylor, third President and Prophet.

after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham’s wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God. . . . (ibid., 23:304; emphasis added).
That the “curse lineage” (dark skin) is Satan’s representation on earth, was taught clearly by the third President and Prophet of the Mormon Church, John Taylor. Taylor goes on to teach:

When he [Satan] destroyed the inhabitants of the antediluvian worlds, he suffered a descendant of Cain to come through the flood in order that he might be properly represented upon the earth (ibid., 23:336; emphasis added).
Wilford Woodruff, who became the fourth President and Prophet of the LDS Church:

What was that mark? It was a mark of blackness. That mark rested upon Cain, and descended upon his posterity from that time until the present. To day there are millions of the descendants of Cain, through the lineage of Ham, in the world, and that mark of darkness still rest upon them (Millennial Star, 51:339; emphasis added).
Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth President and Prophet.

In 1963, Look magazine interviewed, at that time, the leader of the LDS Church; Joseph Fielding Smith. Concerning negroes, Smith stated:

I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the Negro. ‘Darkies’ are wonderful people, and they have their place in our church (Look magazine, October 22, 1963, 79; emphasis added).

Smith also taught that “Negroes” were inferior to other races:

Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was place upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel. These are the descendants of Cain. Moreover, they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning… we will also hope that blessings may eventually be given to our Negro brethren, for they are our brethren–children of God—notwithstanding their black covering emblematical of eternal darkness (The Way to Perfection, 101-02; emphasis added).
And, as previously quoted, Smith stated that

There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages… The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:61, 66; emphasis added).

LDS General Authorities
Orson Pratt, LDS Apostle:

Among the Saints [Mormons] is the most likely place for these [pre-existent] spirits to take their tabernacles, through a just and righteous parentage [white parentage]. They are sent to that people that are the most righteous of any other people upon the earth. . . . The Lord has not kept them in store for five or six thousand years past, and kept them waiting for their bodies all this time to send them among the Hottentots, the African negroes, the idolatrous Hindoos, or any other of the fallen nations of the earth. They are not kept in reserve in order to come forth to receive such a degraded parentage [African negroes] upon the earth; no, the Lord is not such a being (Journal of Discourses, 1:63; emphasis added)
Mark E. Peterson, LDS Apostle:

President Woodruff added, ‘The Lord said, ‘I will not kill Cain, but I will put a mark upon him, and that mark will be seen upon every face of every Negro, upon the face of the earth. And it is the decree of God that [the] mark should remain upon the seed of Cain, until the seed of Able shall be redeemed, and Cain shall not receive the Priesthood until the time of that redemption. Any man having one drop of the blood of Cain in him cannot receive the Priesthood’ (Race Problems– As They Affect the Church, address given by Mark E. Peterson at BYU; emphasis added)

In the same address, Peterson goes on to say:

Who placed the Negroes originally in darkest Africa? Was it some man or was it God?. . . The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence. At least in the cases of the Lamanites and the negroes we have the definite word of the Lord Himself that He placed a dark skin upon them as a curse–as a punishment and as a sign to all others. He forbade intermarriage with them under threat of extension of the curse. . . . And He certainly segregated the descendants of Cain when He cursed the Negro as to the Priesthood, and drew an absolute line. Think of the Negro, cursed as to the Priesthood. Are we prejudiced against him? Unjustly, sometimes we are accursed of having such a prejudice. . . .

This Negro, who, in the pre-existence lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with black skin, and possibly being born in darkest Africa–if that negro is willing when he hears the gospel to accept it, they may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. . . .

If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would be cursed as to the Priesthood. Do I want my children cursed as to the Priesthood? If there is one drop of negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. . . . There are 50 million Negroes in the United States. If they were to achieve complete absorption with the white race, think what that would do. With 50 million Negroes inter-married with us, where would the priesthood be? Who could hold it, in all America? Think what that would do to the work of the Church! . . . Now we are generous with the Negro.

We are willing that the Negro have the highest kind of education. I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it. I would be willing that that they have all the advantages as they can get out of life in the world. But let them enjoy these among themselves. I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change it?” (ibid.; emphasis added)
LDS Apostle George A. Smith:

There is not a man, from the President of the United States to the Editors of their sanctorums, clear down to the low-bred letter-writers in this Territory, but would rob the coppers from a dead nigger’s eyes, if they had a good opportunity (Journal of Discourses, 5:110; emphasis added).
LDS Apostle and prolific writer Bruce R. McConkie:

Negroes in this life are denied the Priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty… The gospel message of salvation is not carried affirmatively to them. Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned. . . . (Mormon Doctrine, 477, 527-28; 1966 orig. ed., changed in the current).

Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the negroes, and those spirits who are not worthy to receive the priesthood are born through that lineage (ibid.,109; 1966 org. ed., changed in the current ed.; emphasis added).

Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry (ibid., 114; current ed.; emphasis added)
Is this Christian? Did Jesus or the Apostles teach prejudice on the basis of skin color? These racist teachings, which were clearly taught by the leaders of the Mormon Church, echo those of the Skinhead, K.K.K. and other destructive groups. This, is not Christianity:

Then Peter open his mouth, and said, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34; emphasis added)

God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean (ibid., 10:28)
Let us conclude by examining the LDS scriptures, which indicates plainly that dark skin was a sign of Gods curse:
BOOK of MORMON

1 Nephi 11:13 (Mary) “she was exceedingly fair and white.”

1 Nephi 12:23 (prophecy of the Lamanites) ” became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.”

1 Nephi 13:15 (Gentiles) “they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people [Nephites] before they were slain.”

2 Nephi 5:21 “a sore cursing . . . as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

2 Nephi 30:6 (prophecy to the Lamanites if they repented) “scales of darkness shall begin to fall. . . . they shall be a white and delightsome people” (“white and delightsome” was changed to “pure and delightsome” in 1981).

Jacob 3:5 (Lamanites cursed) “whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins. . . .”

Jacob 3:8-9 “their skins will be whiter than yours… revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins. . . .”

Alma 3:6 “And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion.”

Alma 3:9 “whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed.”

Alma 3:14 (Lamanites cursed) “set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed. . . .”

Alma 23:18 “[Lamanites] did open a correspondence with them [Nephites] and the curse of God did no more follow them.”

3 Nephi 2:14-16 “Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites; And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites and . . . became exceedingly fair. . . . ”

3 Nephi 19:25, 30 (Disciples) “they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness. . . . nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof… and behold they were white, even as Jesus.”

Mormon 5:15 (prophecy about the Lamanites) “for this people shall be scattered, and shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people, beyond the description of that which ever hath been amongst us. . . .”

 

Pearl of Great Price

Moses 7:8 “a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan. . . .”

Moses 7:12 “Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were [i.e., except] the people of Canaan, to repent. . . .”

Moses 7:22 “.for the seed of Cain were black and had not place among them.”

Abraham 1:21 ” king of Egypt [Pharaoh] was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.”

Abraham 1:27 “Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood. . . .” (emphasis added to above citations).
The truth is: Mormonism does not represent Jesus Christ or His Church. The LDS teachings of the “Negro” are not consistent with, as well as, contradict Scripture.


In 1978, the LDS god changes his Mind

Because of this racist teaching, the LDS Church was under enormous political pressure. Hence, June 8, 1978, LDS President, Spencer W. Kimball, after spending many hours in the “Upper Room” of the LDS Temple, claimed that God had removed the curse. All worthy black men could now receive the Priesthood.

This, was a major doctrinal change. Mormons will usually argue: “But it was said that eventually the curse would be removed.” However, this assertion cannot be found before 1978. Therefore, we will again, appeal to the official teachings of the LDS General Authorities. What the LDS General Authorities did teach was that the curse would not be removed in this life. LDS Prophet Brigham Young explains, under, so-called, divine revelation:2

How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favorable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion (Journal of Discourses, 7:290-91; emphasis added).

Young was clear: “they [blacks] never can hold the Priesthood . . . until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof.” The time when the descendants of Adam (white men) are redeemed is at the resurrection, not in this life. According to Mormonism that has not happen yet. Keep in mind, Young declared:

I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of man, that they may not call Scripture (ibid., 13:95).
LDS Apostle Mark E. Peterson agrees:

And it is the decree of God that [the] mark should remain upon the seed of Cain, until the seed of Able shall be redeemed, and Cain shall not receive the Priesthood until the time of that redemption (Race Problems– As They Affect the Church, address by Mark E. Peterson at BYU; emphasis added; see above).

LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie comments as to the duration of the curse:

Negroes in this life are denied the Priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty… The gospel message of salvation is not carried affirmatively to them…. (Mormon Doctrine, 477, 527-28; 1966 org. ed., changed in the current; see above).

As observed, and with most non-Christian cults, the god of Mormonism is a changing god. It changes its mind. The God of the Bible does not change:

“For I am the LORD, I change not. . . .” (Mal. 3:6).

Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou are the same, and thy years shall have no end (Ps. 102:25-27).

Even the Book of Mormon agrees with this point:

Now, the decrees of God are unalterable. . . . (Alma 41:8).3

Mormonism teaches: “The gospel message of salvation is not carried affirmatively to them. Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned. . . . ” (McConkie, see above).

In the end, Mormons reject the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: Preach the Gospel to all nations (cf. Matt. 28:19-20), thus “all nations” certainly includes Africa.

Notes
1, In the Mormon religion there are two priesthoods: Aaronic and the Melchizedek. The Aaronic is the lesser of the two. To have eternal life (i.e., exaltation to Godhood) the “worthy” (and married) Mormon male must be ordained to this higher Priesthood (Melchizedek). This Priesthood is excluded from all females. Thus for nearly 150 years, the Mormon Church taught that dark skinned people (partially Africans) could not gain true salvation, eternal life (i.e., Godhood in the highest heaven: the celestial kingdom).

2, Just as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Peter, and Paul were actual prophets and apostles, in LDS theology the titles, “Prophet” and “Apostle” are literal. Thus, Mormons say that when they are giving sermons they are in fact, speaking for God.

3, Concerning the “decrees” of God, LDS Apostle Mark E. Peterson stated: “And it is the decree of God that [the] mark should remain upon the seed of Cain, until the seed of Able shall be redeemed, and Cain shall not receive the Priesthood until the time of that redemption” (Race Problems– As They Affect the Church, address by Mark E. Peterson at BYU; emphasis added; see above).

A Skin of Blackness (Word Search LDS Documents)

_________________________

Primary Source – LDS Scriptures and Official Sermons and Publications of the LDS Church and Leadership

Organized and Collected by Former Mormon Bishop, Lee B. Baker from the LDS Collectors Library 2005TM, Purchased from Deseret Book, owned by the LDS Church, © 2004 and 2005 LDS Media,  ISBN:  978-0-974708-04-1

2 Ne 5:21

21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1947, Afternoon Meeting, p.144

. . . wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

A Skin of Blackness

Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, p.107

Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy Priesthood, and the laws of God. They will go down to their death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the Priesthood.-J. D. 11:272.

Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Latter-day Prophets Speak: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Church Presidents , p.205

The Lamanites or Indians are just as much the children of our Father and God as we are. So also are the Africans. But we are also the children of adoption through obedience to the gospel of His son. Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.

Rulon T.Burton, We Believe

The Lamanites first received their dark skin “that they might not be enticing” to the Nephites who were living the gospel: “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” (See 2Ne.5:21.)

Rulon T.Burton, We Believe

The Lamanites first received their dark skin “that they might not be enticing” to the Nephites who were living the gospel: “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” (See 2Ne.5:21.)

Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.428

  1. “After they had dwindled in unbelief,” that is, after they had forsaken the Church and the gospel, “they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.” (1 Ne. 12:23.) So that they “might not be enticing” unto the Nephites, “the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” (2 Ne. 5:20-25; Alma 3:14-16.)

Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, p.208

Who did such an evil fate befall children born in the house of Israel, children whose inheritance was with the chosen people, children whose right it was to obtain all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Nephi gives answer in this way. He says the Lord “caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

Mark E. Petersen, Joseph of Egypt , p.98

“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

Legrand Richards, Israel! Do You Know?, p.36 – 37

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold , they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

Legrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p.73

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

Alvin R. Dyer, The Meaning of Truth, rev. ed., p.33

Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings.

A Certified Collection

I would go to work and trim up the Wards in a gentle manner, without making such an ungodly stink, without exposing the brethren as Ham did his father Noah. Ham’s children were cursed with a skin of blackness, for Ham pulled the clothing off from his father Noah, who had drank a little too much wine. He had not drank any wine for a long time, as he had been in the ark, and when he had once more raised grapes, and made some wine, the old gentleman said to his family, come, boys and girls, let us sit down and take a little wine. Many of us might do as Noah did, were we placed under similar circumstances. But that poor, little, pusillanimous fellow, Ham, after the old gentleman had drank a little too much, and, perhaps, it operated upon him as an emetic, and he had besmeared himself a little, pulls off his father’s coverlet and exposes him to the whole family. That is, probably, just as it was, only I have told it a little plainer than it reads. If you find any persons besmeared, do not pull off the coverlets and expose them, lest you take a course to bring a curse on them by unwisely exposing iniquity.

Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Helaman through 3 Nephi 8: According to Thy Word, p.254

The Lord also placed upon these Lamanites the mark of a dark skin. Nephi recorded: “… that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness [Hebrew uses the same word for “blackness” and “darkness”] to come upon them” and promised that “they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.” The Lord warned that anyone who mingled with the wicked would also become subject to their curse (2 Nephi 5:21-23). The Lord wanted to protect the righteous “that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction.” In fact, any Nephite who did mingle with the Lamanites “did bring the same curse upon his seed” (Alma 3:8-9).

Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Second Nephi: The Doctrinal Structure, p.134

God wields a two-edged sword. He who blesses also curses. Justice and mercy are fellow companions. Nowhere is this principle more clearly revealed than in the Book of Mormon which says that a “skin of blackness” came upon Laman and his followers subsequent to the spiritual and physical divisions of Lehi’s colony (2 Nephi 5:21). The precedent for such a divine judgment dates from the murder of Abel by his brother Cain (Moses 5:40; 7:8, 22; see also Gen. 4:15). Laman also descended into spiritual darkness and the spirit of murder. Both Cain and Laman came out in open rebellion against God. Both were cut off from his righteous influence. Both became marked men.

Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Second Nephi: The Doctrinal Structure, p.138

Symbolic of the withdrawal of the Spirit from their lives, a “skin of blackness” came upon the rebellious Laman, Lemuel, their families, and those sons and daughters of Ishmael who chose to affiliate with them (2 Nephi 5:21). There can be no question but that their altered skin color was a miraculous act of God; it cannot be understood in purely metaphoric terms, nor as being nothing more than the natural consequence of prolonged exposure to the sun. Nephi was explicit that “the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21; emphasis added). The prophet Jacob later spoke of how the Nephites hated the Lamanites “because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins,” and warned the immoral Nephites that unless they repented, the Lamanites’ “skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God” (Jacob 3:5, 8).

Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Second Nephi: The Doctrinal Structure, p.141

It is quite apparent that the Lamanites would have become what they did become had they never been marked with a “skin of blackness.” Indeed, in terms of the eternal principle of cause and effect, how could they have become anything else? When they drove the light of Christ from among them, what could result but darkness? The fates of the ancient Jaredites, the Lamanites and the Nephites are a solemn warning of the fate which awaits those who inhabit the Americas should they choose to follow the dark side of the principle of opposition in all things.

Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Second Nephi: The Doctrinal Structure, p.156

  1. The expression “skin of blackness” does not necessarily, or even probably, mean a black skin, only a darker skin. The pre-flood people of Canaan (Cain’s posterity) had a “blackness” come upon them after the Lord cursed their land “with much heat” (Moses 7:8). After Enoch’s city was translated from the earth Enoch beheld that “the seed of Cain were black” and were separate from all other peoples (Moses 7:22). I believe that “blackness” and “black” are not synonyms and that the Lamanite mark was only a relatively darker pigmentation, not a literally black skin. By the same token, a “white” skin is only relatively so (Jacob 3:8).

A Book of Mormon Treasury: Selections from the Pages of the Improvement Era , p.116

It may be well to point out that the simon-pure Lamanites of the Book of Mormon, if we may call them such, are dealt with in the Nephite record between  2 Ne. 5  and  Omni 12.  The first-name chapter records the great break between the follower of  Nephi  on the one hand and the followers of Laman and Lemuel on the other. In it we are told that the Lamanites were cut off from the “presence of the Lord” because they would not hearken to Nephi’ words.  (2 Ne. 5:20.)  Moreover, they were cursed because of their iniquities with a “sore cursing.” In order that they would not be enticing to the Nephites, the Lord caused a “skin of blackness” to come upon them.  (2 Ne. 5:21.)  The sacred account continues:

Milton R. Hunter, Archaeology and the Book of Mormon, p.191

. . . had caused the cursing to come upon them [Laman and his associates] . . . wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, . . . the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 7: 1 Nephi to Alma 29, p.31

  1. The form “altar of stones” instead of the customary English form “stone altar” conforms to standard Hebrew construction, called the “construct state.” Examples from the Bible are “gods of gold” (Ex. 20:23), “altar of stone” (Ex. 20:25), “bedstead of iron” (Deut. 3:11), “helmet of brass” (1 Sam. 17:5), “house of cedar” (2 Sam. 7:2), “throne of ivory” (1 Kgs. 10:18), “girdle of leather” (2 Kgs. 1:8), and “pulpit of wood” (Neh. 8:4). Other examples from the Book of Mormon include: “land of promise,” “skin of blackness,” “rod of iron,” and “yoke of iron.”

Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 7: 1 Nephi to Alma 29, p.111

With reference to Nephi’s hostile brethren, from whom they had just separated, the Lord said, “Inasmuch as they will not  hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And  behold, they were cut off from his presence.” (2 Ne. 5:20.) To be cut off from  the Lord’s presence in this life means to lose the Holy Ghost. The reader must  take care here to understand who was cursing whom when the Lord set the skin of  blackness on the Lamanites. The Lamanites cursed themselves when they chose to reject the Spirit of the Lord. The Lord, as a result of that choice,  set the dark skin upon them to separate them from those who had not rejected the  Spirit. (2 Ne. 5:21-23.) The sore cursing was not the dark skin, but the loss  of the Holy Ghost, of which the skin coloring was but a mark. The result of losing the Spirit was that the Lamanites became “an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety,” “a scourge” to the Nephites, serving as a reminder of the Lord  to a people whose prosperity would always be a mixed blessing. (2 Ne. 5:24-25.)  The scriptures repeatedly illustrate that the loss of the Spirit in those who have formerly enjoyed it propels them down a path to misery  and self-destruction.

Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.132

The mark of the curse that came upon the Lamanites was that “a skin of blackness” came upon them. A major purpose of this mark was that the Lamanites “might not be enticing” unto the Nephites. (2 Nephi 5:21.) The Lord stated further that the “seed of him that mixeth” with the unrighteous Lamanites “shall be cursed even with the same cursing.” (2 Nephi 5:23.)

Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols., 1:, p.224

  1. And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols., 1:, p.224

  1. Because of their iniquity the Lamanite peoples were cursed with “a skin of blackness.” Our text tells us that they were so cursed in order that they would not be enticing to the Nephites. The Old Testament contains ample evidence that when the children of Israel married outside the covenant they were dissuaded from the worship of the true and living God and quickly embraced the idolatry and whoredoms of the Canaanites.

Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert/The World of the Jaredites/There Were Jaredites, edited by John W. Welch with Darrell L. Matthews and Stephen R. Callister, p.71

This amazing coincidentia oppositorum is the clash of black and white. With the Arabs, to be white of countenance is to be blessed and to be black of countenance is to be cursed; there are parallel expressions in Hebrew and Egyptian. And what of Lehi’s people? It is most significant that the curse against the Lamanites is the very same as that commonly held in the East to blight the sons of Ishmael, who appear to the light-skinned people of the towns as “a dark and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations, . . . an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety,” etc. (1 Nephi 12:23; 2 Nephi 5:24). It is noteworthy that all the descendants of the Book of Mormon Ishmael fall under the curse (Alma 3:7), as if their Bedouin ancestry predisposed them to it. The Book of Mormon always mentions the curse of the dark skin in connection with and as part of a larger picture: “After they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people,” etc. “Because of the cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people . . . and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey” (2 Nephi 5:24). The statement that “God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21) describes the result, not the method, which is described elsewhere. Thus we are told (Alma 3:13, 14, 18) that while the fallen people “set the mark upon themselves,” it was none the less God who was marking them: “I will set a mark upon them,” etc. So natural and human was the process that it suggested nothing miraculous to the ordinary observer, and “the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves; . . . it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them” (Alma 3:18). Here God places his mark on people as a curse, yet it is an artificial mark which they actually place upon themselves. The mark was not a racial thing but was acquired by “whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites” (Alma 3:10); Alma moreover defines a Nephite as anyone observing “the tradition of their fathers” (Alma 3:11). Which makes the difference between Nephite and Lamanite a cultural, not a racial, one. Does this also apply to the dark skin?

Note that the dark skin is never mentioned alone but always as attending a generally depraved way of life, which also is described as the direct result of the curse. When the Lamanites become “white” again, it is by living among the Nephites as Nephites, i.e., adopting the Nephite way of life (3 Nephi 2:15-16). The cultural picture may not be the whole story of the dark skin of the Lamanites, but it is an important part of that story and is given great emphasis by the Book of Mormon itself. There is nowhere any mention of red skin, incidentally, but only of black (or dark) and white, the terms being used as the Arabs use them.

Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon–Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988–1990 [Provo: Foundation for Ancient Re, p.287

One was “exceedingly fair and delightsome,” and the other was a skin of blackness. As I said, shahor is a skin of blackness, which means dark. A good source for that would be Morris Jastrow’s Aramaic Dictionary. For the word black, it gives dark, unpleasant-everything sort of uncomplimentary. We don’t need to linger on that. Here it is [in verse 23]; it says it’s a cultural affair. If you mixed your seed with them, you got the same cursing. If you intermarry with them, you are sharing their culture, and you become just like them. In other words, it is not a racial thing because you can get it yourself. “And because of their cursing which was upon them, they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.” Well, there are lots of races like that. All you have to do is watch Channel 26 and you can be introduced to all sorts of tribes like that. With this National Geographic Studies you see tribes like that everywhere. Not that they don’t have their virtues, and the Lamanites certainly did. But racial change isn’t necessary for this at all. After all, they are members of the same family; we know that.

George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, edited and arranged by Philip C.    Reynolds, 7 vols., 1:, p.278

Skin of Blackness. While the family of Lehi was camping in the Valley of Lemuel (1 Ne. 2:23), the Lord manifested to Nephi, then a young boy, that he would be made a ruler among his brethren, and that if they rebelled, a great curse would be the consequence. Later, he saw in a vision (1 Ne. 12:23) that the descendants of his brethren had become dark and loathsome. See also Alma 3:6-11, and Mormon 5:15. That was the curse, due to rebellion.

George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, edited and arranged by Philip C. Reynolds, 7 vols., 3:, p.63

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p.89

What about the “dark skin” of the Lamanites and the “fair skin” of the Nephites? In the first place, the terms are relative. How dark is dark? How white is fair? An early Spaniard, Tomas Medel, noted around A.D. 1560 that the Indians in the Pacific coastal areas of Guatemala, where I place the earliest Lamanites, were darker than those in the cooler, higher areas, where the first Nephites lived. The highlanders, Medel said, “appeared but little different from the Spaniards.” That observation is underlined by a historical incident that took place at the other end of Mesoamerica during Cortez’s conquest of the Aztecs. Faced by a rebellion at his base on the Gulf of Mexico, the commander sent spies from Central Mexico to assess the situation. Among a party of his Indian allies he sent along two Spaniards of relatively dark complexion, clothed like the natives. They succeeded in being in the camp of the rebel Spaniards for a lengthy period, then returned to report the state of affairs, their own Spanish identity never being detected by their countrymen. Padre Thomas Gage called the Indian people of central Chiapas “fair of complexion” and the natives of Nicaragua “indifferent white.” On the other hand, the color of other Indians approached what could be called “a skin of blackness” (2 Nephi 5:21; this metaphor was used only once in the text-all other references are only to “darkness”).

John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne, eds., Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, p.79

“skin of blackness” instead of black skin (2 Nephi 5:21)

Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium , p.155

The Lord now laid his heavy hand upon the Lamanites, because in rejecting Nephi as their ruler and teacher they had rejected him and had cut themselves off from his presence. A curse in the form of a “skin of blackness” was brought upon them in order that they might not be enticing to the Lord’s people (5:21; cf. Jacob 3:9, “darkness of their skins”). The lord also provided that the curse should come upon those who mixed with the seed of the Lamanites (5:23; cf. 3 Nephi 2:14-16, where, for good reasons, an exception was made). The Lamanites subsequently became an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and served as a scourge to the Nephites to keep them in remembrance of the Lord (5:24, 25).

Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, p.471

“The Lamanites, or Indians, are just as much the children of our Father and God as we are. So also are the Africans. But we are also the children of adoption through obedience to the gospel of His Son. Why are so many of the inhabitants of the Earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the Priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to” (Brigham Young, Jour. of Dis., Vol. XI., p. 272).

Dialogue on Mormonism., Times and Seasons, vol. 2 (November 1840-October 1841), Vol. 2 No. 18 July 15, 1841, p.473

After their settlement here, part of the family being righteous, and part wicked and rebellious, they had considerable difficulty and strife, until at length the Lamanites, the wicked portion of the family, were smitten with a skin of blackness and became an idle and filthy people.

The Contributor, Volume 13

These circumstances may be divided into two classes: those instituted by God in special cases, and those which have come about in the course of nature. As examples of the first, the cases of Cain, of Canaan, and of Laman may be taken. “A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth,” was the terrible sentence pronounced by God over the head of Cain, who had slain his brother. “And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him,” the record states. When Ham, the son of Noah, offered his parent a gross insult, that aged patriarch cursed Canaan, the son of Ham, saying, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” As a result of the many rebellions of Laman and his followers against Nephi, and their final attempt to take his life, the Lord said, “I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people (speaking to Nephi) save they shall repent of their iniquities. And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing.” And Nephi writes, “That they might not be enticing to my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

Improvement Era 1908

Another: In the story of this ancient western half of the world, a faction of its inhabitants showed a wholly unrighteous disposition toward God and man, and he cursed them with “a skin of blackness,” and withdrew his fellowship from them, which left them in a deplorable state of soul-darkness and savagery. Though doubtless the all-loving Father deplored very much the necessity of this severe action toward the Lamanites, yet, as it was unavoidable, he made use of the circumstance, even though it was an evil one. He thereafter used the Lamanites as a battering ram of judgment, as a thorn in the side of the Nephites, to keep them spurred up to a lively sense of their allegiance to the God of Israel. And this that they might reap the advantages of their keeping in close touch with their Creator.

Improvement Era 1913

And he caused a cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

Improvement Era 1930

The dark complexion of our Indians, another “variation,” so to speak, is historically explained as follows: About the year 600 B. C. Lehi and his colony left Jerusalem. In the family of Lehi and Ishmæl were boys and girls who were white and fair. In the beginning of their journey it was foretold Nephi that the attitude of Laman and Lemuel towards the Lord, if they did not repent, would bring on them a sore curse. Because of their rebellious course, (1 Nephi 2:23) by about 570 B. C. “the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” (2 Nephi 5:21).

Improvement Era 1948

IT may be well to point out that the simon-pure Lamanites of the Book of Mormon, if we may call them such, are dealt with in the Nephite record between II Nephi 5 and Omni 12. The first-named chapter records the great break between the followers of Nephi on the one hand and the followers of Laman and Lemuel on the other. In it we are told that the Lamanites were cut off from the “presence of the Lord” because they would not hearken to Nephi’s words. (II Nephi 5:20.) Moreover, they were cursed because of their iniquities with a “sore cursing.” In order that they would not be enticing to the Nephites, the Lord caused a “skin of blackness” to come upon them. (II Nephi 5:21.) The sacred account continues:

Improvement Era 1955

… had caused the cursing to come upon them [Laman and his associates] … wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, … the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. 10

Nephi  Learned of God, Language from Lehi Who Prepared Family for Its, LDS Church News, 1996, 01/06/96

5 The form “altar of stones” instead of the customary English form “stone altar” conforms to the standard Hebrew construction, called the “construct state.” Examples from the Bible are “gods of gold”  (Ex. 20:23),  “altar of stone”  (Ex. 20:25),  “bedstead of iron”  (Deut. 3:11),  “helmet of brass”  (1 Sam. 17:5),  “house of cedar”  (2 Sam. 7:2),  “throne of ivory”  (1 Kgs. 10:18),  “girdle of leather”  (2 Kgs. 1:8),  and “pulpit of wood”  (Neh. 8:4).  Other examples from the Book of  Mormon  include: “land of promise,” “skin of blackness,” “rod of iron,” and “yoke of iron.”

Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon: a Preliminary Survey by  John  A. Tvedtnes Fn, BYU Studies, vol. 11 (1970-1971), Number 1 – Autumn 1970, p.55

altar of stones      mist of darkness

state of probation    skin of blackness

words of plainness    night of darkness

land of promise    rod of iron

plates of brass(gold)    bands of death

chains of hell      voice of the people

The Political Dimension in Nephi’s Small Plates by Noel B. Reynolds Fn, BYU Studies, vol. 27 (1987), Number 4 – Fall 1987, p.34

One of the most important elements of  2 Ne. 5  is the report of the fulfillment of the prophesied curse upon the Lamanites. The physical effects of the curse were observable empirical facts that would have required explanation. Nephi, and no one else, had an explanation.  Nephi  makes it clear that the curse consists of being “cut off from the presence of the Lord” and that it results from not obeying the word of the Lord. Nephi’s brothers had “hardened their hearts like flint” against the Lord. To prevent the Nephites from mixing with the Lamanites and bringing the curse upon themselves, the Lord caused the Lamanites to appear “loathsome” to the Nephites by bringing a “skin of blackness” upon them. Note that the dark skin is not the curse, but only a device to help protect the Nephites from also falling under the curse  (2 Ne. 5:21-23).

The Political Dimension in Nephi’s Small Plates by Noel B. Reynolds Fn, BYU Studies, vol. 27 (1987), Number 4 – Fall 1987, p.35

This initial description of the cursed Lamanites sets a model followed repeatedly by later writers. “The skin of blackness” and the contrasting lifestyles of the Lamanites and Nephites stand as silent but powerful, objective, and irrefutable witnesses to the veracity of Nephi’s account. The traditions of the Lamanites, as far as we know, offered no alternative theory to explain these simple facts. And so their account focused on Nephi’s wicked rebellion against ancient custom. They left the will of God and his commandments out of the account altogether.

Lamanite Ancestry, FARMS Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 4, no. 1 (Spring 1995),, p.249

It may be well to point out that the simon-pure Lamanites of the Book of Mormon, if we may call them such, are dealt with in the Nephite record between  2 Ne. 5  and  Omni 1:12.  The first-named chapter records the great break between the followers of  Nephi  on the one hand and the followers of Laman and Lemuel on the other. In it we are told that the Lamanites were cut off from the “presence of the Lord” because they would not hearken to Nephi’s words (2  1 Ne. 5:20).  Moreover, they were cursed because of their iniquities with a “sore cursing.” In order that they would not be enticing to the Nephites, the Lord caused a “skin of blackness” to come upon them  (2 Ne. 5:21).  The sacred account continues:

Novak’s Review of Hullinger: Joseph Smith’s Response To Skepticism, FARMS Review of Books, vol. 7, no. 1  (1995),, p.144

The first scripture cited on page 3 is  D&C 3:20.  Hullinger uses it to support his assertion that the Book of  Mormon  “would inform the Indians of God’s promises” (pp. 2-3). Does  D&C 3:20  actually say anything of God’s promises to the Indians? While it does mention the Laman, the scripture says nothing of Indians. But Hullinger is not wholly unaware of the problem of identifying Indians with Lamanites. According to the footnote the “term ‘Indian’ does not occur in the Book of Mormon, but it is synonymous with ‘Lamanite'” (p. 6). Hullinger’s apparent reason for identifying Indians with Lamanites is that “surviving Lamanites [after the final destruction of the Nephites] were cursed with a dark skin because of their unbelief and became the ancestors of native Americans” (p. 6). Hullinger’s assertions are complicated by the Book of  Mormon  itself, which indicates that at the time after the appearance of Jesus there “were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites”  (4 Ne. 1:17).  Of course the “skin of blackness” had come upon the Lamanites many hundreds of years before. When the “great division” came among the people, those “who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites”  (4 Ne. 1:38).  The Book of  Mormon  makes the “great division” appear to be a matter of factionalism rather than one of merely hereditary or genetic links. There is no easy identification, within the Book of  Mormon  itself, of Lamanites with Indians. This may be a fine distinction, and not precisely central to Hullinger’s thesis, but it is nonetheless an assumption that permeates his work in a subtle way and actually makes a difference for how one understands the Book of Mormon.

Novack’s Review of Walker: Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism, FARMS Review of Books, vol. 8, no. 1  (1996),, p.160

Admittedly, though, Morgan does not see the Book of  Mormon  as especially complex. It is, for him, a history of “a white-skinned and delightsome folk, the Nephites, and a savage race, the Lamanites, cursed by the Lord with a dark skin” (pp. 280-81). Careful readers of the Book of  Mormon  will notice the subtle changes from the actual text of the Book of Mormon. Nephites are described as “white and delightsome,” with nothing being said specifically about their skin, while Lamanites are described as being cursed with a skin of blackness  (2 Ne. 5:21).  Morgan no doubt believed that this was meant to function as an explanation for the color of the Indian’s skin. Morgan also apparently subscribes to something like a hemispheric model of Book of  Mormon  geography, claiming that “their battlefields [were] still marked by great mounds the length and breadth of the Mississippi Valley” (p. 281). Morgan is never more specific than this on the question of Book of  Mormon  geography. Unfortunately for Morgan’s theory, the Book of  Mormon  makes no reference at all to the Mississippi Valley or to the moundbuilders.

Book of Mormon (1830 Edition), p.73

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people that they should be industrious, and that they should labor with their hands. And it came to pass that they would that I should be their King. But I, Nephi, was desirous that they should have no King; nevertheless, I did do for them according to that which was in my power. And behold, the words of the Lord had been fulfilled unto my brethren, which he spake concerning them, that I should be their ruler and their teacher; wherefore, I had been their ruler and their teacher, according to the commandments of the Lord, until the time that they sought to take away my life. Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying: That inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence. And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, therefore the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God, I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities. And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed: for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done. And because of their cursing which was upon them, they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey. And the Lord God said unto me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction.

As the final embarrassment and insult to the Black Race, the Mormon Church, a Church which claims in all things to be guided by Revelation (see below); Does not even know why, how or when this restriction began in the Church.  Really?

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/04/the-spirit-of-revelation?lang=eng

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/race-church

Official Statement —  29 February 2012

Race and the Church: All Are Alike Unto God

Salt Lake City —

The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. The Book of Mormon states, “black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). This is the Church’s official teaching.

People of all races have always been welcomed and baptized into the Church since its beginning. In fact, by the end of his life in 1844 Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opposed slavery. During this time some black males were ordained to the priesthood. At some point the Church stopped ordaining male members of African descent, although there were a few exceptions. It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended. Church leaders sought divine guidance regarding the issue and more than three decades ago extended the priesthood to all worthy male members. The Church immediately began ordaining members to priesthood offices wherever they attended throughout the world. (See also: Race and the Priesthood)

The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. In 2006, then Church president Gordon B. Hinckley declared that “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church. Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.”

Recently, the Church has also made the following statement on this subject:

“The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”

See also: Race and the Priesthood

Style Guide Note: When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online style guide.

[1]   Primarily the Quakers, Congregational-Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists were the most active churches in a wide range of abolitionist movements that included political, financial, and material aid for the transportation and the sustaining of runaway slaves.

[2]   “Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us.  I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, Ensign April 2006, 58.)

[3]    BlackLDS.org is dedicated to black members of the Mormon Church.

[4] President George Albert Smith, Conference Report, October 1947, Afternoon Meeting, 165.  He is reviewing what President Lorenzo Snow stated in 1890.

[5] President Brigham Young, General Conference, October 1859. Journal of Discourses 7:291. Quotes from the Journal of Discourses taken from LDS Collector’s Library 2005.

[6] President Brigham Young, Salt Lake Tabernacle, March 1863. Journal of Discourses 10:110.

[7] President Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference. Ensign, April 2006, 58.

[8] President Francis M. Lyman, Conference Report, October 1905, First Day—Morning Session, 97.

[9] Elder Joseph Eckersley, Conference Report, October 1911, Outdoor Meeting. 107-8.

[10] Joseph A. McRae, Conference Report, October 1908, 50.

Print Friendly

Author: Lee Baker

As a former Mormon Bishop and member of the Church for over 32 years, my wife Kathy and I have spent many years in various Leadership positions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, documenting, verifying and studying, specifically, the original teachings of the Church. I have found many of the most fundamental of these teachings to be completely out of harmony with the Lord’s teachings in the Bible.