“George Albert Smith,” in Latter-day Prophets and the United States Constitution, ed. by Donald Q. Cannon (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1991), 100–15.
Chapter 8: George Albert Smith
Born: 4 April 1870
Ordained an Apostle: 8 October 1903
President of the Twelve: 1 July 1943
President of the Church: 21 May 1945–4 April 1951 Died: 4 April 1951
Relationship with the Constitution and U.S. Government
George Albert Smith inherited a love of the U.S. Constitution from a long line of patriotic forebears. He cared deeply about the United States and its government. Serving as President of the Church at the end of World War II, he expressed gratitude for an inspired Constitution.
President Smith’s relationship with the U.S. Government was very positive. When the Church sent food and supplies to war-ravaged Europe, he met with President Truman, who expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Saints.
Themes Discussed in the Quotations
Main theme: We should sustain and support the Constitution. Minor themes:
1. The Constitution is a glorious standard.
2. The Founding Fathers were inspired of God.
As an Apostle
8.1. If I am disposed to sustain the Constitution of this great country that we live in; if there is a desire in my heart to uphold the great man whom God has honored to preside over the destinies of this nation; if there is within me love for my fellow-men and a desire to serve God and keep his commandments, these characteristics have come to me, my friends, as a result of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Sharing the Gospel with Others 19)
8.2. I feel that, as long as the people of this land obey, or strive to keep the commandments of God, this liberty will continue to flow unto us . . . . I say to you that our only hope, and the hope of the sons and daughters that God may bless us with, to enjoy peace and liberty in this land, is in standing by the Constitution that God has inspired to direct this government. . . . Let us stand by the law-makers, and encourage them in the making of just laws, and stand by the executive departments, and the judiciary in the administration of those laws. (CR [Oct 1911] 45)
8.3. We should be deeply concerned in the welfare of the nation, and sustain good and great men, as the Lord has commanded us, in order that we may continue to enjoy freedom. (CR [Apr 1914] 11)
8.4. So today in the midst of the difficulties that exist in the world, while there are transgressors of the laws of the land, and there are transgressors of the laws of God, in the midst of the conflict in which we are now engaged, this awful world war [WWI], it is a great joy and satisfaction to my soul that while there are those persons who are opposing this government set up by the power of God, there are no members of this Church in good standing but are sustaining the law and order and the government of the United States, so far as it lies in their power. There is one Church upon the continent of America that has been taught by God that this government has been raised up for the blessing of mankind. There is one Church whose members cannot remain in good fellowship in it if they criticize and find fault and tear down and oppose the legal action of the constituted authorities of the land, with reference to going into this war; and why? Because we have been trained by the gospel in a knowledge of the purpose of this government. We have been taught by inspired men, who have pointed the way, and all Israel, to a man, comes forward in the crucial hour and says: “If I am needed, Lord, here am I” [Abr 3:27]. If my country requires it, my all is on the altar, and my life if need be. God help us to be worthy of our heritage, help us to sustain the government that has been so good to us, that has made it possible for the establishment of this work. Let us sustain good men and great men everywhere, and pray for them as we are told to do in this same record. Pray for the chief executive of the Nation and his associates, asking God to inspire them to labor for the good of humanity and the liberty of mankind. (CR [Oct 1917] 45)
8.5. It is pleasing indeed, to me, that the Lord not only inspired men to prepare the Constitution but that he made record of the fact that he did raise them up for that purpose. In that particular we are peculiar as a people, for we believe that the Constitution was inspired by our heavenly Father. It is marvelous to contemplate what has occurred since that day . . . when wise men and great men gathered together and counseled with each other to bring about the document that is said to be the greatest palladium of human rights that the world has ever seen . . . . The Lord referred here [D&C 101] to the Constitution of the United States, and it is evident that he was looking down into the future; for he was preparing the way for the bringing forth of his own Church, and he called attention to the fact that in the preparation of the Constitution it was to be such an instrument that men would be required to observe it, if they observed his laws for he said, [D&C] Sec. 58, par. 21: “He that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.”. . . We are loyal to this country and to its institutions—and have evidenced that by sending more than thirteen thousand of our sons to assist in this great conflict: and mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who remain at home are giving of their substance. . . .
. . . The Constitution was so framed that every one might worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, and we see the result of it in the wonderful blessing that has been poured out upon this most favored of all lands.
. . . When our Father in heaven inspired men to write the Constitution, and give unto us the great charter that vouchsafed to us the liberty we enjoy, he did it in order that men might develop and be free, as the gospel of Jesus Christ intends that all men shall be . . . . They did not understand that underlying this apparent peacefulness, in this great land, there was a fixed determination that men should be free; that God himself had written it, as it were by his own finger, in the Constitution of our great government, . . . and then, when the time came, he inspired his sons to rally around Old Glory and, if need be, give their lives that liberty might be perpetuated in the earth.
. . . On this day, so near the anniversary of the birth of that great document, the Constitution of the United States, it is fitting that we should assemble ourselves together in commemoration of it. It is proper that the governors of the several states of this nation, and the mayors of cities, should call attention to it. On next Tuesday, in the city of Salt Lake, here in the valleys of the mountains, and I presume in other cities, but in this city in our public schools and high schools there will be delivered addresses to the children explaining to them the birth of the Constitution, and it will be brought to their attention in a more forceful way, perhaps, than it has ever been before.
These things are fundamental. The real purpose is that the children of men may learn to observe the laws of man, and observing those laws fulfill the requirement of our Heavenly Father to obey him and keep his commandments. So the government of the United States was begun under the direction of our Father in heaven, as declared by his own word of mouth to be an example unto the nations of the earth, and the liberties that we enjoy are pointed out in a most forceful way to the children of men. . . .
Today this wonderful land is not only a land of liberty and hope to us, but there goes out from these shores across the mighty ocean to other peoples encouragement in the struggle that they are making, that they may have something to do with the government that directs their destinies. (JH [15 Sep 1918] 4)
8.6. It is our duty to pray for good men and wise men, and to hold up their hands in their attempts to perpetuate peace and law and order among the nations of the earth. (CR [Oct 1921] 162)
8.7. There are those who would destroy the Constitution of this land; and there are some who would rejoice if they could overthrow this Nation, notrealizing that our heavenly Father has given us the best government on earth. No loyal member of this great Church will raise his voice against the government, but he will be found upholding it; he will be found praying for those who have been exalted to the office of presidency and for those who make the laws, under the Constitution. (CR [Oct 1922] 94–95)
8.8. Our feet have been planted upon this sacred soil for a wise purpose. This land has been dedicated for the blessing of mankind. The Constitution and the laws that have been enacted under its provisions are calculated to insure liberty, not license, to all who dwell here . . ..
Upon you men of Israel—to whom the Priesthood of the Holy One has been given—there rests an obligation. You must serve the Lord and keep his commandments. It matters not what others may do, but for you there is only one course, and that is to be obedient to law, and to sustain the Constitution of this great land, and to sustain those influences and powers wherever they may be, that are calculated to uplift the human family. (CR [Oct 1922] 96)
8.9. That was the voice of him now stilled in death [Abraham Lincoln], who gave his life because of his desire for the perpetuation of the liberty that was guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. He was unafraid. When the duty was placed upon him to battle for the liberties of mankind, he dedicated his life to that purpose, and in due time, our Father in heaven accepted his offering, and his name is emblazoned upon the pages of history as a great and noble man who dared to do right, and his praises will be sung and his virtues extolled throughout all time.
I am grateful that there is inherent in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a determination to sustain the laws of the land. I am grateful for the government that our Heavenly Father gave to us, for he has said that he raised up wise men to prepare for us the Constitution of this great nation. (“Lincoln. . . and This Land” 77)
8.10. It is the duty of every man and every woman who is worthy of the name, Latter-day Saint, to give such information to the officers of the land as will enable them to enforce the law and put aside the wickedness that has developed so rapidly since the great World War [WWI]. We not only believe in honoring the law, we not only believe in obeying the law, but we believe in sustaining the law, and that can only [be] obtain[ed] by individual service. . . . This is our country, our heavenly Father gave it to us, and he expects each of us to show our appreciation of our birthright by helping in every possible way to purify society, and to develop those traits of character, and those virtues, that will enrich the community and prepare an environment for those who are now growing up and those who are yet unborn. . . .
. . . I do beg of you, my brethren and sisters, that you will appreciate, and sense fully the wonderful gifts of our heavenly Father, your mountain homes, your valley homes, your plain homes, your heritage, and the grand flag that represents the liberty of the greatest Nation upon the earth, and represents the combined wisdom of the very men whom our Father says he raised up to give to us the Constitution of this favored land. When we see that starry flag, men should uncover their heads in reverence, and our sisters should evidence their appreciation of it. Wherever we go, let us keep in our hearts this thought: this is the land of Zion, dedicated for the blessing and the uplift of mankind. (“Progress of the M.I.A.—Their Slogans” 902–04)
8.11. It is pleasing to me as a member of the Church to know that our heavenly Father is interested in us, and in our government. . . .
In these days of confusion, when the Constitution of our country is assailed, by those who have no understanding of the purpose of God regarding this great country, it behooves those who do understand to consider seriously and faithfully, the benefits that will flow to us by honoring and sustaining the government that was reared under the direction of our heavenly Father.
We are a peculiar people in many ways, and in this particularly are we peculiar, in that we believe that the constitution of the United States was inspired by our heavenly Father, and he has told us that he raised up the very men who should frame the Constitution of the United States. Knowing that, we should not be led astray by the fallacies of individuals whose selfishness inclines them to attack that which our heavenly Father has prepared for the people of this land. (CR [Oct 1924] 44–46)
8.12. I felt that on this occasion, and at this time, when there is so much unrest in our land, that I would like to read to you what our people conceived to be their duty to the government under which they lived. We still believe that there is only one way whereby we may enjoy peace and happiness, and that is by observing the constitutional law of our land, and by sustaining that constitutional law that was inspired by our heavenly Father at the inception of this great government. There are those who are misguided in the belief that they may organize groups and take into their own hands the punishment of those who have differed from them in their ideas of religion or government. We may well understand that men who do that come in conflict with the orderly system that our heavenly Father has decreed should govern the children of men I am grateful that I belong to a Church that has been directed by our heavenly Father to observe the constitutional law of the land. (CR [Oct 1924] 47–48)
8.13. Those men who framed the Constitution of the United States were not only wise in the things of this world, but they were inspired by our Heavenly Father who raised them up for that very purpose. This marvelous government that we enjoy in this favored land of liberty, was given to man that it might be a blessing to him. Here men and women are permitted to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. (CR [Oct 1928] 92)
8.14. The Lord raised up mighty men to establish the United States of America, and we became a nation. He gave us a glorious Constitution for our guidance and protection. (CR [Oct 1936] 73–74)
8.15. Just think of the coming of the Pilgrim fathers to this land, and how the Lord preserved them and made it possible for them to extend their power when the United States was bom. Think of how He blessed and raised up the very men who prepared the Constitution of the United States. (CR [Apr 1940] 85)
As the President of the Church
8.16. Since the God of this choice land is Jesus Christ, we know that his philosophy of free agency should prevail here. Thou didst amply demonstrate this great principle to us by raising up wise men for the very purpose of giving us our constitutional form of government, concerning which thou hast said:
. . . I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose. . . (D&C 101:77–80.)
There are those, our Heavenly Father, both within and without our borders, who would destroy the constitutional form of government which thou hast so magnanimously given us, and would replace it with a form that would curtail, if not altogether deprive, man of his free agency. We pray thee, therefore, that in all these matters thou wilt help us to conform our lives to thy desires, and that thou wilt sustain us in our resolve so to do. We pray thee that thou wilt inspire good and just men everywhere to be willing to sacrifice for, support, and uphold the Constitution and the government set up under it and thereby preserve for man his agency.
We thank thee that thou hast revealed to us that those who gave us our constitutional form of government were men wise in thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that sacred document.
Wilt thou, O our Father, bless the Chief Executive of this land that his heart and will may be to preserve to us and our posterity the free institutions thy Constitution has provided. Wilt thou too bless the legislative and judicial branches of our government as well as the executive, that all may function fully and courageously in their respective branches completely independent of each other to the preservation of our constitutional form of government forever.
We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason of their freedom under thy guidance and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems, thus to fulfil the ancient prophecy of Isaiah that”. . . out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (“Dedicatory Prayer . . . Idaho Falls Temple” 564)
8.17. It is your duty and mine to remember in our prayers the President of the United States of America, to remember the men who represent us in the Congress of the United States, to remember the executives of the states of the nation, and to pray for them that they may have divine aid. They are God’s sons, every one of them, and he wants them saved and exalted. (Improvement Era [Nov 1945] 721–22)
8.18. We have over three thousand missionaries in the world and many of them will be led to homes which before were closed but will now be open to hear their testimonies. It is our responsibility to carry the message of the gospel not only to the civilized world but also to those who are not considered to be so civilized. All this has been made possible because the Lord in his wisdom saw the necessity of giving us a nation in which we could thrive. In no other nation under heaven could the Church have been organized and gone forward as we have in this nation. The founding of the United States was not an accident. The giving to us of the Constitution of the United States was not an accident. Our Heavenly Father knew what would be needed, and so he paved the way to give us the Constitution. It came under the influence of prayer, and he guided those who framed that wonderful document.
I hope that the membership of this Church will not be deceived into thinking that other plans, other forms of government, other systems of direction whatsoever, are desirable. I want to say to you without any hesitation that no form of government in the world can be compared favorably with the government God gave to us. This is his plan. (“The Work of God” 267)
8.19. Again we pray, help us to love one another and to be worthy of our nation, the Constitution, and the men who gave their all in order that we might enjoy these blessings. (“Dedicatory Prayer: This Is the Place Monument” 12; also in Sharing the Gospel with Others 131)
8.20. Now, there are many things that I might talk about, tonight, but I want to raise my voice to you and say, our Heavenly Father raised up the very men that framed the Constitution of the United States. He said He did. He gave to us the greatest Palladium of human rights that the world knows anything about, the only system whereby people could worship God according to the dictates of their consciences without, in any way, being molested when the law, itself, was in effect. Now that is what the Lord gave to us. That is the Constitution of this country. Yet, we have people who would like to change that and bring some of those forms of government that have failed absolutely to make peace and happiness and comfort any other place in the world, and exchange what God has given to us—the fullness of the earth and the riches of liberty and happiness. Yet, there are those who go around whispering and talking and saying, “Let us change this thing.” I am saying to you that to me the Constitution of the United States of America is just as much from my Heavenly Father as the Ten Commandments. When that is my feeling, I am not going to go very far away from the Constitution, and I am going to try to keep it where the Lord started it, and not let anti-Christs come into this country that began because people wanted to serve God. (CR [Apr 1948] 182)
8.21. He was ready to organize His Church, or would be soon, and so He raised up men that knew how to frame the Constitution of our great country and made it possible for an organization such as is in this house tonight to enjoy the blessings that we have enjoyed all these years, sometimes under difficulties, of course, but not the trials and distresses that other countries have had. So let us appreciate it and let us evidence to our Heavenly Father that we do appreciate it, not by talking about it but by letting our light so shine—the light of righteousness, the light of faith, the light of honesty, the light of generosity, the light of truthfulness, all those things that our Heavenly Father indicates that we should manifest to the world—let that light so shine that others seeing our good works will desire to be identified with an organization that seeks to live the commandments of God and honor Him. (CR [Apr 1948] 183)
8.22. During the great struggle for independence in the country under the leadership of George Washington, our Heavenly Father was preparing the way for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity.
He gave to certain individuals the inspiration to frame the Constitution of the United States that has been referred to in this conference, the greatest palladium of human rights that we know anything about. Under such a Constitution the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth one hundred nineteen years ago Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and his brother Hyrum (the great-great-grandfather of the man who sits at my left here on the stand and grandfather of the man who sits behind me in this congregation) died as martyrs at the hands of a wicked mob. They were sacrificed not for any wrong they had done but because they had sought to teach the truth and call the people of the world to repent before it was too late. The work has gone on and under the Constitution of the United States we have been permitted to carry on in this great land. We have been permitted to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our missionaries of course have gone all over the world, but I am speaking now of the United States of America. However, there are many people, many men and women in this land, some of whom may be friends or relatives who are misguided by the idea that the Constitution of the United States isn’t as fine a system of government as they have in Russia or Germany or Italy or some other part of the world, notwithstanding the fact that the Lord himself said that he raised up the very men who framed the Constitution of the United States and directed that the membership of this Church should pray for and sustain those who represented the Constitution of this land. I hold in my hand the Bible and can read the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses for the guidance of the people wherein the Lord told Moses what the people should live for and do. If those Ten Commandments had been lived up to by the people of the world down to the present time, this earth could long ago have been celestialized. But the people refused.
You know, and I know, that the Ten Commandments contain the will of our Heavenly Father, and I am grateful, not only for the civil laws but also for the laws God has given to us. I feel bound to conform my life to the teachings of the Ten Commandments. I feel equally bound to sustain the Constitution of the United States which came from the same source as the Ten Commandments. Unless the people of this great nation can realize these things and repent, they may forfeit the liberty that they now enjoy, and the blessings that are so multiplied among us. I do hope and pray that they will discover before it is too late that God has spoken again. Your responsibility and mine is to let our light so shine that others seeing our good works will be constrained to glorify him who is the Author of our being. (“From a Prophet to His People” 303–04)
8.23. We believe that the Constitution of the United States was inspired by our Heavenly Father, and he has told us that he raised up the very men who should frame the Constitution of the United States. Knowing that, we should not be led astray by the fallacies of individuals whose selfishness inclines them to attack that which our Heavenly Father has prepared for the people of this land. (“Obedience to Law” 429)
8.24. The Lord raised up men to frame a Constitution for this nation because it was his nation. It was his desire that the people here would be blessed and there have been no people in all the world who have been more blessed than those who live in the United States of America.
We have every comfort that you can think of, every blessing that is enjoyed by people in any other nation, and then we have the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience because the Lord himself made that provision in the Constitution of the United States and in the framing of the laws that govern this nation. (“Welfare Program, A Wonderful Thing” 699)
8.25. I am grateful for the privilege that came to me of being reared in this part of the world under a government that God himself said was prepared by men that he raised up for that very purpose. I refer to the Constitution of the United States. (“Our Father’s Work” 790)
8.26. When the Constitution of our country is assailed, openly or subtly, by those who have no understanding of the purpose of God regarding this great country, it behooves those who do understand to consider seriously and faithfully the benefits that will flow to us by honoring and sustaining the principles of government that were divinely established. . . .
There is only one way whereby we may enjoy peace and happiness, and that is by observing the law of our land, and by sustaining the principles embodied in the Constitution which was inspired by our Heavenly Father at the inception of this great government. So, as Latter-day Saints, we may know that no man is a faithful member of this Church who lends himself in any way to break down that organized system of laws that has been prepared for the good of all mankind
I say to you: Sustain the Constitution of the United States, and let not our voices be heard among those that deride or would violate the Constitution that is so important for us and for all men.
I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for his advice to us that we support the Constitution of the United States and maintain the liberty that we enjoy under it. (“Perpetuating Liberty” 93–94)
8.27. No nation in the world has a constitution that was given to it by our Heavenly Father except the United States of America. I wonder if we appreciate that. The Lord gave us a rule of life for this great nation, and as far as we have lived up to it and taken advantage of it, the nation has grown, and the people have been blessed. But there are many people who prefer, or at least they seem to prefer, something else.
As one man said to me, “Why not try what Russia has tried and Germany has tried?” And my answer to him was, “Why try something that has already failed? Why not hold on to what the Lord has given?” The Constitution of the United States was written, it is true, by men, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and others who were their associates, but we have in this book that I have in my hand, the book of Doctrine and Covenants, a revelation in which the Lord tells us that the Constitution of the United States was prepared by men raised up by him for this very purpose.
As Latter-day Saints we ought to know that there is nothing better anywhere else. And so we should cleave to the Constitution of the United States and in doing so, earn the blessings of our Heavenly Father. (“Liberty Under the Constitution” 964)
8.28. If there is any doubt in your minds about this being a blessed land in which you live, and that an all-powerful hand directs its destinies, remember that it was the Lord himself who raised up wise men to give to us our Constitution [D&C 101:80]—the greatest palladium of human rights that any people have ever known. . . .
. . . He [the Lord] watched over them [the Pilgrims] and safeguarded their descendants and those who followed them to America, and in due time, there came an opportunity to establish liberty such as humankind had not known before. The Lord raised up Washington, and with him that body of men who fought valiantly to establish for us in this land a government for which surely we are all grateful. . . .
The Lord has watched over his land: He directed Columbus to these shores: he led the Pilgrims here; he established the Constitution of the United States, and through the Prophet Joseph Smith restored the everlasting gospel to bless the children of men. If they will accept it and obey it, it will result in the salvation of the human family. (“For Law and Liberty—and Salvation” 869–70)