Was Mormonism ever pro-slavery?





Summary: In O’Donnell's rant against Mormonism he calls the LDS faith racist and Joseph Smith a criminal. He also accused the Church of being pro-slavery. His views are extremely biased--that will be obvious to anyone who watches the clip below. 

The LDS faith was never pro-slavery. Neither were Joseph Smith and Brigham Young--the only LDS Presidents during the antebellum period. Joseph Smith wanted to free the slaves by purchasing their freedom. Brigham Young said, I am neither an abolitionist nor a pro-slavery man. He goes on to say if he had to choose he would be against the pro-slavery side. 

Brigham Young wanted Utah to be a free state, but as a territory it permitted slavery. Though there were probably never more than 100 slaves in the entire territory. 

Naturally, politics came into play. When the church was in Missouri it was accused of being abolitionist, which is something Joseph Smith had to deal with. Brigham Young was afraid if slavery were abolished polygamy would be next. So they both walked a political tightrope.

Their positions on slavery are not what we would like them to be. But I cannot conclude either of them were pro-slavery. 

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12 comments:

  1. Hey thanks for this, I really needed an answer on Brigham and Slavery, our paper wrote that he did have slaves himself. I really needed an answer for a friend. It seemed like people would only find the bad that was said and would leave out the good with it. I am glad someone wasn't afraid to tell the whole story. I admire you whoever you are. Thanks!

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  2. Brigham Young’s statements should also be considered in their pre or post civil war context. Before the war the southern states were blocking anti-polygamy legislation because they were afraid it would be the slippery slope to antislavery laws; they knew that strong states rights would protect slavery. Thus on the polygamy issue they were for local control. Naturally Brigham Young knew this. Consequently, before the civil war his statements were intended to appease the southern states on the slavery issue, so as not to loose their support, which for the Mormons meant protection of plural marriage. In the interview with Horace Greeley (1859) Brigham Young says, “We consider it [slavery] of divine institution and not to be abolished until the curse pronounced on Ham shall have been removed from his descendants,” but then goes on to say that if Utah were admitted as a state, “She will be a free state.” He does seem to have had anti-abolitionist non-slavery inclinations.

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  3. Also,

    "When asked about slavery during his Springfield trial in December 1842, he had come out for manumission. Orson Hyde wanted to know 'what would you advise a man to do who come in the [Church] having a hundred slaves?' 'I have always advi[s]e such to bring their slaves into a free country,' was Joseph's reply; 'set them free, Educate them and give them their equal rights.' (Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, p. 516, brackets are Bushman's)

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  4. Brigham Young once said in the territorial legislature,

    "I am opposed to the present system of slavery." (Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors, p. 351)

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  5. Slavery was abolished in what became the Arizona Territory, New Mexico, and Utah in 1862, by an act of Congress.

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  6. In early 1852, Brigham Young asked the territorial legislature to approve slavery. This was done on February 4, 1852. (From the above comment, this territorial act was overridden by the act of Congress in 1862.) Brigham Young obviously held anti-black prejudices based on the exclusion from the priesthood.

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  7. It was nice to read something purely factorial rather than opinion, especially since you have so much documentation. Thanks so much for thoroughly researching this! However, I did find the video difficult to watch. Regardless of my own beliefs, it's hard to watch someone who won't let anyone else state their opinion. The whole video was mainly just them yelling at each other because he wouldn't let anyone else talk. If I didn't have an opinion before watching the video, I would be inclined to want him to be wrong. It was a really nice read, though! Thanks so much for posting!

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  8. So not pro-slavery, just bigoted racists

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  9. Some more info:
    http://mormonquotes.com/Slavery
    http://mormonquotes.com/Racism

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  10. Yep, written like a true Mormon. Sounds mostly pro slavery to me, and it if was to appease the south then shame on them anyway,

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  11. It's view like this that confirms that Mormonism is a cult and Mormons are not Christians. There are no Biblical facts that unequivocally support the claim that black people are descendants of Ham and therefore are inferior to the white race.

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  12. "Their positions on slavery are not what we would like them to be. But I cannot conclude either of them were pro-slavery. "

    You're so full of shit.

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