Brigham Young's 1852 Speech on Slavery
The following is a speech given by LDS President Brigham Young to the Joint Session of the Legislature in Salt Lake City, on Thursday, February 5, 1852. The following was found under Brigham Young addresses, Ms d 1234, Box 48, folder 3, dated Feb. 5, 1852, located in the LDS Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah. Spelling has been left intact. In the book, The Teachings of Brigham Young, compiled by Fred C. Collier, the same speech is reproduced with corrected spelling.
Young's comments are noteworthy for many reasons. Not only does he espouse and defend a view of human rights that most would find repugnant, he also warns his followers that should it ever be decided to allow the "black race of Cain" to partake in the blessings offered to other LDS members, the priesthood would be removed from the LDS Church and it would go to destruction. Since the LDS Church granted priesthood blessings to every worthy male member regardless of race or skin color in 1978, one can't help but ask, "Is the current LDS Church without 'priesthood authority' or was Brigham Young a false prophet who was speaking presumptuously and irresponsibly?"
I rise to make a few remarks. The Items before the house I do not understand.
The principle of slavery I understand, at least I have self confidence enough, and confidence enough in God to beleive I do. I beleive still further that a great many others understand it as I do. A great portion of this community have been instructed, and have applied their minds to it, and as far as they have, they agree preciesly in the principles of slavery. My remarks in the first place will be upon the cause of the introduction of slavery. Long ago mama Eve our good old mother Eve pertook of the forbiden fruit and this made a slave of her. Adam hated very much to have her taken out of the garden of Eden, and now our old daddy says I beleive I will eat of the fruit and become a slave too. This was the first introduction of slavery upon this earth; and there has been not a son or daughter of adam from that day to this but what where slaves in the true sense of the word.
That slavery will continue, untill there is a people raised up upon the face of the earth who will contend for righteous principles, who will not only beleive in but operate, with every power and faculty given to them to help to esstablish the kingdom of God, to overcome the devil, and drive him from the earth, then will this curse be removed. This was the starting point of slavery. Again after adam, and Eve had pertook of the curse, we find they had two sons Cain and Able, but which was the oldest I cannot positively say; but this I know, Cain was given more to evil practices than Abel, but whether he was the oldest or not matters not to me. Adam was commanded to sacrifise, and offer up his offerings to God, that placed him into the garden of Eden. Through the faith and obedience of Able to his heavenly father, Cain became jealous of him, and he laid a plan to obtain all his flocks; for through his perfect obedience to father he obtained more blessings than Cain; consequently he took it into his heart to put able able of this mortal existance. after the dead was done, the Lord enquired to able, and made Caine own what he had done with him. Now says the grand father I will not distroy the seed of michal and his wife; and cain I will not kill you, nor suffer any one to kill you, but I will put a mark upon you. What is that mark? you will see it on the countenance of every African you ever did see upon the face of the earth, or ever will see. Now I tell you what I know; when the mark was put upon Cain, Abels children was in all probability young; the Lord told Cain that he should not receive the blessings of the preisthood nor his see, until the last of the posterity of Able had received the preisthood, until the redemtion of the earth. If there never was a prophet, or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before, I tell you, this people that are commonly called negroes are the children of old Cain. I know they are, I know that they cannot bear rule in the preisthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon the, until the resedue of the posterity of Michal and his wife receive the blessings, the seed of Cain would have received had they not been cursed; and hold the keys of the preisthood, until the times of the restitution shall come, and the curse be wiped off from the earth, and from michals seed. Then Cain's seed will be had in rememberance, and the time come when that curse should be wiped off.
Now then in the kingdom of God on the earth, a man who has has the Affrican blood in him cannot hold one jot nor tittle of preisthood; Why? because they are the true eternal principals the Lord Almighty has ordained, and who can help it, men cannot. the angels cannot, and all the powers of earth and hell cannot take it off, but thus saith the Eternal I am, what I am, I take it off at my pleasure, and not one partical of power can that posterity of Cain have, until the time comes the says he will have it taken away. That time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privelege of and more. In the kingdom of God on the earth the Affricans cannot hold one partical of power in Government. The the subjects, the rightfull servants of the resedue of the children of Adam, and the resedue of the children through the benign influence of the Spirit of the Lord have the privilege of seeing to the posterity of Cain; inasmuch as it is the Lords will they should receive the spirit of God by Baptisam; and that is the end of their privilege; and there is not power on earth to give them any more power.
You talke of the dark skin, I never saw a white man on earth. I have seen persons whoes hair came pretty nigh being white, but to talk about white skins it is something intirely unknown, though some skins are fairer than others; look at the black eye and the jet black hair, we often see upon men and women who are called white, there is no such things as white folkes. We are the children of Adam, who receive the blessings, and that is enough for us if we are not quite white.
But let me tell you further. Let my see mingle with the seed of Cain, that brings the curse upon me, and upon my generations, - - we will reap the same rewards with Cain.
In the preisthood I will tell you what it will do. Where the children of God to mingle there seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the preisthood upon themselves but the entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an ungaurded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and kill man woman and child it would do a great deal towards atoneing for the sin. Would this be to curse them? no it would be a blessing to them. -it would do them good that they might be saved with their Bren. A man would shuder should they here us take about killing folk, but it is one of the greatest blessings to some to kill them, allthough the true principles of it are not understood.
I will had one thing more. It is not in the power of a man on the face of the earth to take more life than he can give, that is a proper son of Adam. How many times I have heard it said, and how many times has it been reiterated in my ears, and in yours, that to take a life, is to take what you cannot give; This is perfect nonsence; What do I do by taking a mans head off after he is condemned by the Law? I put an end to the existence of the mortal tabernacle; but the life still remains. the body and the spirit is only seperated, this is all that can be done by any mortal man upon the face of the earth. Can I givethat life? I can, I can make as good tabernacles as any other man, if you do not beleive it go and look at my children, therefore that saying is nonsense. We form the tabernacle for the eternal spirit or life that comes from God. We can only put an end to the existence of that tabernacle, and this is the principle of sacrifice.
What was the cause of the antients drawing up hundreds and thousands of Bullocks, and Hefiers, and Lambs, and doves, and almost every other creature arround them, of which they took the best and the fatest, and offered them up as sacrifices unto the Lord. Was it not for the remission of the sins of the people. We read also in the new Testament that a man was sacrifised for the sins of the people. If he had not you and I could have had no remission of sins. It is the greatest blessing that could come to some men to shed their blood on the ground, and let it come up before the Lord as an atonement. You nor I cannot take any more life than we can give.
Again to the subject before us; as to The men bearing rule; not one of the children of old Cain, have one partical of right to bear Rule in Government affairs from there own transgressions, and I cannot help it; and should you or I bear rule we ought to do it with dignity and honour before God.
I am as much oposed to the principle of slavery as any man in the present acceptation or usage of the term, it is abused. I am opposed to abuseing that which God has decreed, to take a blessing, and make a curse of it. It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants, but those they serve should use them with all the heart and feeling, as they would use their own children, and their compassion should reach over them, and round about them, and treat them as kindly, and with that humane feeling necessary to be shown to mortall beings of the human species. Under these sercumstances there blessings in life are greater in proportion than those who have to provide the bread and dinner for them
We know there is a portion of inhabitants of the earth who dwell in Asia that are negroes, and said to be jews. The blood of Judah has not only mingled almost with all nations, but also with the blood of Cain, and they have mingled there seeds together; These negro Jewes may keep up all the outer ordinenances of the jewish releigeon, they may have there sacrifices, and they may perform all the releigeous seremonies any people on earth could perform, but let me tell you, that the day they consented to mingle their seed with Cannan, the preisthood was taken away from Judah, and that portion of Judahs seed will never get any rule, or blessings of the preisthood until Cain gets it. Let this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth; we will sommons the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel, the Bishoprick, and all the elders of Isreal, suppose we summons them to apear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed, with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with with us and be pertakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day, and hour we should do so, the preisthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain the Church must go to desstruction,--we should receive the curse which has been placed upon the seed of Cain, and never more be numbered with the children of Adam who are heirs to the preisthood untill that curse be removed.
Therefore I will not consent for one moment to have an african dictate me or any Bren. with regard to Church or State Government. I may vary in my veiwes from others, and they may think I am foolish in the things I have spoken, and think that they know more than I do, but I know I know more than they do. If the Affricans cannot bear rule in the Church of God, what buisness have they to bear rule in the State and Government affairs of this Territory or any others?
I the Government affairs of States and Territorys and kingdoms by right God should Govern. he should rule over nations, and controle kings. If we suffer the Devil to rule over us we shall not accomplish any good. I want the Lord to rule, and be our Governor and and dictater, and we are the boys to execute, I shall not consent for a moment to give way to a Gentile Spirit of contention, which is the cause of angry--------Difference to the alinations of every Good feeling. It is for you and I to take a course, to bind our feelings together in an everlasting bond of union inasmuch as we love the Lord, which we ought to do more than selves. Consequently I will not consent for a moment to have the Children of Cain rule me nor my Bren. No, it is not right.
But say some, is there any thing of this kind in the Constitution, the U.S. has given us? If you will allow me the privilege telling right out, it is none of their damned buisness what we do or say here. What we do it is for them to sanction, and then for us to say what we like about it. It is written right out in the constitution, "that every free white male inhabitant above the age of twenty one years" &c. My mind is the same to day as when we where poreing over that constitution; any light upon the subject is the same, my judgement is the same, only a little more so. Prahapes I have said enough upon this subject. I have given you the true principles and doctrine. No man can vote for me or my Bren. in this Territory who has not the privilege of acting in Church affairs. Every man, and woman, and Child in this Territory are Citizens; to say the contrary is all nonsense to me. The indians are Citizens, the Africans are Citizens, and the jews than come from Asia, that are almost entirely of the blood of Cain, It is our duty to take of them, and administer to them in all the acts of humanity, and kindness, they shall have the right of Citizenship, but shall not have the right to dictate in Church and State matters. The abolishonists of the east, have cirest them them, and their whol argument are callculated to darken Counsel, as it was here yesterday.
As for our bills passing here, we may lay the foundation for what? for men to come here from Africa or else where; by hundreds of thousands. When these men come here from the Islands, are they going to hold offices in Government No. It is for men who understand the knowlege of Government affairs to hold such offices, and on the other make provisions for them to plow, and to reap, and enjoy all that human beings can enjoy, and we protect them in it. Do we know how to amilerate the condition of these people? we do. Supose that five thousands of them come from the pacific Islands, and ten or fifteen thousands from Japan , or from China, not one soul of them would know how to vote for a Government officer, they therefore ought not in the first thing have anything to do in Government afairs.
What the Gentiles are doing we are consenting to do. What we are trying to do to day is to make the Negro equal with us in all our privilege. My voice shall be against all the day long. I shall not consent for one Moment I will will call them a counsel. I say I will not consent for one moment for you to lay a plan to bring a curse upon this people. I shall not be while I am here.