Joseph F. Smith’s 1864 Mission to Hawaii: Leading a Reformation
Eric Marlowe and Isileli Kongaika, “Joseph F. Smith’s 1864 Mission to Hawaii: Leading a Reformation,” in Joseph F. Smith: Reflections on the Man and His Times, ed. Craig K. Manscill, Brian D. Reeves, Guy L. Dorius, and J. B. Haws (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013), 52–72.
Eric Marlowe is an assistant professor and Isileli Kongaika is an associate professor at Brigham Young University–Hawaii.
At age twenty-five, Joseph F. Smith was part of two of the more recognizable events in Hawaiian Church history: the drowning of Lorenzo Snow and the excommunication of Walter Murray Gibson. However, these are only two incidents in a unique eight-month mission Joseph F. served to the Hawaiian Islands (then the Sandwich Islands) in 1864. 
Missionary work in Hawaii began in 1850, and in just a few years membership exceeded four thousand.  In 1854, coinciding with the beginning of Joseph F.’s first mission to Hawaii (1854–57) at age fifteen, the Church was able to procure use of land on the island of Lanai as “a place of gathering” for the Hawaiian Saints.  Yet, despite such early promise, a year later membership seemed to plateau and would eventually decline by more than 25 percent in the years following the recall of missionaries from Hawaii in 1858 because of the Utah War.  From the spring of 1858 until the arrival of Walter Murray Gibson in the summer of 1861, native members were responsible for the leadership of the Church in the Hawaiian Islands.
The life of Walter Murray Gibson and his time as a member of the Church are rather astonishing. It appears Captain Gibson, most noted for voyages to the East Indies, had an obsession to build an island empire with him as king. Apparently he saw an opportunity to accelerate his plan as a Church member and later took advantage of the unassuming Saints in Hawaii and used the “gathering place” of Lanai as the beginning of this empire.  Tensions were high between the US government and the Church in 1856 when Gibson—though not yet a Church member—hatched a plan to relocate the Church from Utah to New Guinea. Though Gibson’s proposal failed, his attempts led him to Utah, where he eventually joined the Church in 1860. In 1861, Gibson convinced Brigham Young to call him on a mission to Japan and Malaysia, and while en route he visited the Saints in Hawaii. Noticing a void in leadership, Gibson stepped in, eventually establishing himself as “Supreme Leader” with the island of Lanai as headquarters for his intended island kingdom. Over time, however, some native members questioned Gibson’s assertions of absolute authority over the Church. In a letter to former Hawaiian missionary Alma L. Smith, some native Hawaiian Saints queried, “The matter that we wish to write to you about is concerning our Prophet living here, Walter M. Gibson. Is it true that he is our leader? He says that Brigham Young has no authority over . . . the Pacific and Indian Oceans.”  These native Saints also questioned Gibson’s right to ordain Twelve Apostles and a Quorum of Seventy, his practice of taking payment for conferring priesthood offices, and his claim that he alone owned the Lanai property, though it had been purchased mainly through the donations of Church members.  Gibson’s deeds eventually reached President Brigham Young, who, on January 18, 1864, assigned Elders Ezra Taft Benson and Lorenzo Snow and called former Hawaiian missionaries Joseph F. Smith (age twenty-five), William W. Cluff (age thirty-two), and Alma L. Smith (age thirty-three) to “go to the islands and set the churches in order and do what is necessary.”  Furthermore, Brigham Young directed that Joseph F. was “to preside over the Islands after the Twelve [Snow and Benson] returned.” 
Joseph F. had returned from a three-year mission to Great Britain only months before this call, and at the time was attending to his ailing wife, Levira, with whom he had spent more years apart than together due to missionary service. Though it was a challenging time,  Joseph F. did not vacillate in accepting this new assignment. While setting Joseph F. apart, Brigham Young pronounced that Joseph F. would “see things as they are, and understand the mind of the Lord, that you may know the hearts of men, and their feelings towards you, and towards the brethren.” President Young delineated, “We . . . set you apart to take the charge of this mission when the Apostles shall return from the Islands.” And perhaps acknowledging Joseph F.’s relatively young age of twenty-five, President Young declared that he would “be equal to any that lives upon the earth. . . [and] have knowledge and wisdom beyond [his] years.”  On Wednesday, March 2,  almost seven years after returning from his first mission to Hawaii, Joseph F. was going back to assist Apostles Benson and Snow with the Gibson affair; he would then lead the Hawaiian Mission.
The group arrived in Honolulu (on the island of Oahu) Sunday morning, March 27. Though not their final destination, Joseph F. and William W. Cluff disembarked.  William recounted:
It being Sunday and about the usual hour for meeting, we decided to go to the meeting house. On entering we took seats near the entrance, finding several natives already there. The presence of two white men soon attracted their attention; they looked at us, then at each other, and presently we heard them say in a subdued voice: “Ka ha ha, O losepa a me Wiliama, ka.” (Why, it is really Joseph and William, sure). Observing that they had recognized us, we went forward and saluted them with “Aloha Oukou.” They were very pleased to see us, and welcomed us back warmly, saying they had often prayed for our return to them. The news of our arrival quickly spread. Many soon gathered and we held meeting with them, and they greatly rejoiced. After the meeting we returned to the vessel, accompanied by a number of the Saints. 
Setting sail from Honolulu, the group later anchored offshore of Lahaina (on the island of Maui),  and Thursday morning, March 31, all but Joseph F. attempted to go ashore in a small boat. In his journal Joseph F. wrote, “This morning Bro. Benson, Snow, Cluff and A. L. Smith started ashore in the schooner’s boat, which was upset in the surf, and Bro. Snow was drowned but brought to with the greatest difficulty, when I came on shore, I found them, . . . Bro. Snow nicely recovering.”  Though Joseph F. offers some basic facts, it is William Cluff’s detailed account of this incident that has become the main source of retelling this story.  Cluff describes the capsizing of the small boat, and the ensuing search for Elder Snow which eventually yielded his seemingly lifeless body from the water. Tense efforts involving powerful prayer and inspired actions followed. Among other things, Elder Cluff was impressed to put his mouth over Elder Snow’s and breathe for him, “imitating, as far as possible, the natural process of breathing.”  After what Elder Cluff estimated to be an hour, Elder Snow regained consciousness. Regarding Joseph F., Cluff briefly describes him as remaining on the boat due to “some misgivings,” his “great anxiety” observing the event, and his deep rejoicing that all were alive.  However, a later sketch of Joseph F.’s life published in 1901 offers further insight into this incident and into Joseph F.’s character. According to this account, based on his familiarity with the harbor, a dilapidated boat, and dangerous waves, Joseph F. “refused to go ashore, and tried to prevail upon the others to abandon the attempt until a better boat could be obtained.” The author continues:
So persistent, however, were some of the brethren, that he [Joseph F.] was chided for his waywardness, and one of the Apostles even told him: “Young man, you would better obey counsel.”  But he reiterated his impression of danger, refusing positively to land in that boat, and again offering to go alone for a better boat. But the brethren persisted, whereupon he asked they leave their satchels with their clothes and valuables on the anchored ship with him. . . .
The incident illustrates two predominating traits in his [Joseph F.’s] character: When he is convinced of the truth, he is not afraid to express himself in its favor to any man on earth. When he does express himself, it is often with such earnestness and vigor that there is danger of his giving offense. 
Furthermore, in 1919, referring to this incident, President Heber J. Grant said:
At that particular time the Lord revealed to him [Lorenzo Snow] the fact that the young man Joseph F. Smith, who had refused to get off the vessel . . . would someday be the Prophet of God. Answering Lorenzo Snow who was in charge of the company, he said: “If you by the authority of the Priesthood of God, which you hold, tell me to get into that boat and attempt to land, I will do so, but unless you command me in the authority of the Priesthood, I will not do so, because it is not safe. . . .” They laughed at the young man Joseph F. Smith, but he said, “The boat will capsize.” The others got into the boat, and it did capsize; and but for the blessings of the Lord in resuscitating Lorenzo Snow he would not have lived, because he was drowned upon that occasion. It was revealed to him, then and there, that the boy, with the courage of his convictions, with the iron will to be laughed at and scorned as lacking courage to go in that boat, and who stayed on that vessel, would yet be the Prophet of God. Lorenzo Snow told me this upon more than one occasion, long years before Joseph F. Smith came to the presidency of the Church. 
Upon Apostle Snow’s recovery, and exactly one month after leaving Salt Lake City, the group took a small boat sixteen miles to the island of Lanai,  where on April 3 they met Walter Murray Gibson, the presuming leader. In a letter to George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. described some of the conditions and events of the next few days:
On arriving at Palawai [the Church colony on island of Lanai], we found Capt. Gibson snugly settled in a small village of some fifty grass houses, very neatly arranged and surrounded by some forty or more families of the most faithful members of the Church.
We found he had ordained Twelve Apostles, High Priests, Seventies, Elders, Bishops, and “Priestesses of the Temple.” All of whom had to pay a certain sum corresponding to the various degrees of honor bestowed upon them. . . . Gibson had bought the District of Palawai (six thousand acres) by the donations of the saints, assuring them he was doing it all for them, or the Church. He persuaded them to give all they had to the “Church” and made it a test of fellowship, many could not bear it and were excommunicated, while the faithful remained and became wholly dependent on him for both food and clothing.
Brother Benson and Snow required him to sign the land over to the church, as it was deeded to him and his heirs. This he flatly refused to do, informing them he should take this own course, that he had not been sent here by the church, had received no counsel from President Young, had acted upon his own responsibility in what he had done, and he was not beholden to the Church.
He also told them he should ask no counsel of them, but would pursue his own course for the future. He should treat us as friends so long as we treated him as such. Whenever he had an opportunity, he declared he should use his influence to keep the natives in his power . . . that they should receive no benefit from the land they had bought only as they would become subject to him, it is useless to say more. He was cut off from the Church. 
Further understanding of Joseph F.’s actions and role during the encounter with Gibson can be gleaned from Cluff’s description of events.  After the group received a “cool and very formal”  reception from Gibson and most of the native Saints, Elders Snow and Benson spent the next two days working with Gibson in hopes of him seeing the condition he was in. During this time, Joseph F., William Cluff, and Alma Smith made a tour of the valley with Mr. Gibson’s daughter as their guide. Having served on the island of Lanai during his previous mission to Hawaii, Joseph F. was familiar with the challenges and setbacks this island had presented the Saints as a “gathering place.”  Therefore, when observing the temporal developments, it is likely Joseph F. agreed with Cluff that “many improvements had been made since our last visit, that were praiseworthy, and reflected great credit on Mr. Gibson.”  However, they were dismayed by the spiritual conditions they observed. For example, Cluff explains that Gibson “had succeeded in surrounding his own person and residence with such a halo of sacredness in the minds of the natives, that they always entered his house on their hands and knees. . . . It was the old customary way, in which the natives had been in the habit of paying respect to their kings, and the custom had been revived by Mr. Gibson, in order to increase his personal prestige.”  The three missionaries observed “a large rock, the top several feet above the ground. Mr. Gibson had a chamber cut into this rock, in which he had deposited a Book of Mormon, and other things, and called it the corner stone of a great temple, which would be erected there.”  The young elders also noticed Gibson was “organizing and drilling all male members in military tactics.”  When Apostle Snow later asked Gibson about this, “he replied with pomp and self-pride: ‘Why, as soon as they are thoroughly drilled, I will purchase a vessel, man it with these drilled men, and go to one of the other groups of islands and take possession. Leave there some of my veterans, to hold possession, take on some raw recruits and go to another group and do the same, and so continue until I have subjugated all the islands in the Pacific Ocean. Then organize one great Polynesian empire.’” 
A conference was convened on April 6th in which Gibson, disregarding the Apostles, spoke first, addressing the congregation as follows:
My dear red-skinned brethren, sisters and friends, I presume you are all wondering, and anxious to know why these strangers have come so suddenly among us, without giving us any notice. . . .
These strangers may say they are your friends, but let me remind you how, when they lived here, years ago, they lived upon your very scanty substance. . . . Did I not come here and find you without a father, poor, and discouraged? Did I not gather you together here, and make all these improvements that you to-day enjoy?
Now, you, my red-skinned friends, must decide who your friend and father is; whether it is these strangers, or I, who have done so much for you. 
Elder Benson then requested that Joseph F. speak. Elder Cluff observed:
On arising [Joseph F.] said: “I am pleased, after an absence of over seven years, to return and meet with you again. I have often thought of you and I know that all of the elders who have labored among you have remembered and prayed for you. Many of them send their kind love.”
This met a hearty response—Ae Aloha Elakiu. He then reviewed our labors among them; referred to the labors of Pukuniahi (Elder George Q. Cannon),  and how the Lord poured out His Holy Spirit upon that nation, and thousands of them received the Gospel and had a testimony of the divine mission of Joseph Smith.
“You know how you rejoiced in that knowledge then,” he continued, “and we have come back now to bear the same testimony.” 
After reminding them that it was the missionary efforts of Elder Cannon and others that had established the gospel among them (1850–58), Joseph F. asked the congregation by what right Mr. Gibson (among them 1861–64) called himself the father of the people and those who originally establish them in the gospel strangers.  Of Joseph F.’s words, Elder Cluff recorded, “It seemed impossible for any man to speak with greater power and demonstration of the Spirit. . . . The spirit and power that accompanied Brother Smith’s remarks astonished the Saints and opened their eyes. They began to see how they had been imposed upon.”  However, Cluff also noted, “While addressing the Saints . . . Elder Smith enjoyed a great flow of the Holy Spirit and spoke with much power; . . . yet we could see that Gibson had a great influence over many of them.”  Later that afternoon Elders Benson and Snow spoke to the Saints with Joseph F. as their interpreter.
The following day a priesthood meeting was held in which Gibson was called on to answer the charges of exceeding his authority (i.e., ordaining Apostles and seventies, attempting to build a temple, assuming leadership over the Church in Hawaii), as well as selling priesthood offices, deeding land acquired by member donations to his own name, introducing pagan superstitions, and trying to establish an independent kingdom in the Pacific isles. Gibson repeated the speech he made the day before, then held up some letters of appointment given him by President Young and said, “Here is my authority, which I received direct from President Brigham Young. I don’t hold myself accountable to these men!”  After reviewing Gibson’s past actions, Elder Benson motioned that his course be disapproved; however, all but one of the native elders voted against the motion. Elder Snow then prophesied that Gibson would see the time when no Saints would remain with him,  and Joseph F. emphasized Gibson’s audacity to think he could ordain Apostles and high priests for money. “The Apostles informed Mr. Gibson and the Saints that, when they left the islands for home, Elder Joseph F. Smith would be left in charge of the mission. That all those who wished to be considered in good standing in the Church should leave Lanai and return to their homes on the other islands, where the branches would be reorganized and set in order by the brethren who would be left for that purpose.”  The next day, upon returning to Lahaina, a council was held and Gibson was cut off from the Church. 
Leaving William Cluff and Alma Smith on the island of Maui, Joseph F. accompanied Elders Benson and Snow to Honolulu. In the days awaiting the Apostles’ departure, Joseph F. “started, alone around Oahu, rode nearly 40 miles. Held meeting at Laie, and travelled 30 miles to Waihapai and held meeting in the evening.”  He returned to Honolulu on Saturday, April 16, the same day Elder Cluff arrived from Lahaina. On Sunday, April 17, a conference was held in Honolulu at which Elder Joseph F. Smith was unanimously sustained as president of the Hawaiian Mission, with Elders William W. Cluff and Alma L. Smith as his assistants. On Monday the Apostles embarked on their return home. 
The task before the newly sustained twenty-five-year-old mission president was daunting. Church membership at one time had exceeded four thousand, but at this point active membership was likely less than five hundred.  In his own words, Joseph F. wrote, “There has been a very great falling away!”  Gibson had introduced objectionable practices in the lives of previously faithful members. Furthermore, members had donated land, livestock, and crops—even sold their chapels—to finance Gibson’s personal purchase of Lanai and now had nothing to show for it. What’s more, Elder Benson had instructed the Hawaiian Saints on Lanai to return to their previous homes and communities, yet some no longer had homes or the means to make a new start, and others may have felt too ashamed to return.  Many of the Hawaiian Saints were disillusioned, bitter, or both. The challenge facing Joseph F. was formidable.
Two directives from Elders Benson and Snow to Joseph F. and his companions seem clear: foremost, they were to reorganize and set in order the branches of the Church; at the same time, they were to identify a new “gathering place” for the Hawaiian Saints.  Though some Saints still hoped to recover Lanai, over the next six months Joseph F. and his companions actively pursued the identification and purchase of another location.  Missionary correspondence indicates sites were considered in Hana, island of Maui;  Lumahai, island of Kauai;  and Brigham Young even approved the purchases of Papaikou,  just north of Hilo on the island of Hawaii, but the sale fell through. As Joseph F. explained just weeks prior to his departure:
We have made every enquiry and exertion to obtain information in regard to land that would be suitable for a gathering place . . . but have not yet succeeded. . . . There is scarcely a man or woman in the Church but mourns the loss of his or her property. . . . The natives have been trying to recover Lanai, but . . . I am of opinion it will cost as much as it is worth to regain it. . . . To obtain a tolerable gathering place on any of the inhabited Islands, will cost no less than from $7,000 – $14,000. 
Just months after Joseph F.’s departure in October, the Church purchased Laie Plantation (about six thousand acres) on the island of Oahu for $14,000.  Joseph F. was familiar with Laie and apparently endorsed its purchase,  and William Cluff received a spiritual manifestation endorsing Laie,  but the final task of identification and purchase fell to Elders Francis Hammond and George Nebeker, who arrived later that year. 
Now considering their directive to set in order the branches of the Church upon the departure of the Apostles, Joseph F. and William Cluff set out around the island of Oahu to visit all the branches,  and Alma Smith continued doing the same on Maui. Describing their efforts on Oahu, Joseph F. wrote, “Brother Cluff and I have just returned from a tour around this Island. We have organized 6 Branches, each Branch numbering from 25 to 50 persons all feeling well, but [out of 400 that were in the Church when we served here before] there are not above 20. . . . Some have gone to other islands, many have apostatized, and many have died.”  Regarding his labors on Maui, Alma Smith observed: “The saints [are] in a very low and sunken condition, both spiritually and temporally. There were no meetings held on the island, no family prayers attended to. They said the reason for this was that Gibson had not only instructed, but actually forbid them to hold meetings, preach the gospel, read the scriptures, or attend to family prayers, etc.”  These conditions and the casual approach of many members to the gospel often frustrated Joseph F. and his companions. At one point Joseph wrote, “They have been preached to for forty years, and they are degenerating every year! . . . We cannot even see that the Gospel has benefited them one iota!” 
After visiting all the branches on Oahu, Joseph F. and William Cluff traveled to the island of Kauai to visit their branches. They returned to Oahu and on June 10, warmly welcomed new missionaries John R. Young (age twenty-seven)  and Benjamin Cluff (age thirty-four).  It was decided that John Young should visit Gibson on Lanai and, if possible, recover some Church belongings, then join Alma Smith on Maui.  Benjamin Cluff was sent to the north side of Oahu to learn the language. Not long after, Elders Young and Smith were sent to regulate Church affairs on the island of Hawaii. In a letter dated July 5, Joseph F. explained, “It is not quite three months since Elders Benson and Snow left us. Since then we have been very busy traveling from place to place, organizing branches and regulating affairs to the best of our understanding. So far I think we have succeeded as well as could have been expected under the circumstances.”  Shortly after this letter, William Cluff returned to oversee Church affairs on Kauai and Joseph F. went to Maui.  Indicative of Joseph F.’s character is John R. Young’s account of Alma and his return from Hawaii to Maui: “[We] landed on [August] 6th at Malia. Here we met President Joseph F. Smith, who in those days, as now, was always active, and thoughtful for others. He met us on the beach with horses, and a hearty welcome.” 
Notably, during their efforts to set in order the branches of the Church, they began to selectively rebaptize some members. For example, John R. Young recorded:
On Sunday, August 14, 1864, a conference was held at Wailuku, with sixty members present. . . .
President Joseph F. Smith testified that the Saints, in following Mr. Gibson’s teaching, had departed from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and had become darkened in their minds. “As soon as you manifest works meet for repentance,” said he, “we will let you renew your covenants by baptism, and then we will place upon you the responsibility of preaching the Gospel to this nation.”
[The next day] I had the pleasure of accompanying President Smith on a visit. . . . After dinner, we rode up to the mountain, following a deep canyon, until we came to a beautiful orange grove. . . . The native brethren asked President Smith to rebaptize them. The request was granted, and I went into the water, a pure mountain stream, and baptized Kanahunahupu, George Raymond, and Kapule, three intelligent and staunch defenders of the Gospel. We next confirmed and blessed them. 
Rebaptism would seem unusual today; however, in 1856–57 (seven years prior to this mission) Church leaders initiated rebaptism as part of a rejuvenation movement to rekindle faith and testimony throughout the Church. This rebaptism symbolized both forgiveness of sin and a recommitment to obey commandments.  This movement, known today as the “Mormon Reformation of 1856–57,” would have been well understood by Joseph F.,  and circumstances in the Islands at that time evidently appeared appropriate to him for such measures.
Apparently, only a limited number of rebaptisms occurred in the months prior to an island-wide conference held in Honolulu, October 1–3, 1864. With about two hundred members in attendance, Joseph F. explained in his opening remarks, “We have met to be instructed and encouraged in this great work, and to inaugurate a reformation . . . restoring the confidence and love of the Saints to the truth.” He went on to say, “We have felt that you were living under a broken covenant, and should have commenced this reformation long since. . . . We are now going to commence a reformation, and we want those only to be re-baptized who are willing to repent and forsake their sins.”  Elder William Cluff bore testimony to what had been said, then added, “We have not been hasty in this reformation; we have been pleading with you for several months. We want you now to choose ‘whom ye will serve.’” 
Later in the same meeting, Elder Jonathan H. Napela, a pioneer among native Hawaiian Saints and one who had followed Gibson, explained, “We have sinned ignorantly. We were deceived and led away by Gibson’s cunning words, and thereby have broken the sacred covenants we had made, but we are now undeceived, therefore let us renew our covenants and be faithful. I know this work is of God, that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are prophets of God. . . . I do know it is true.”  At the conclusion of the meeting, President Joseph F. Smith read the names of fifty persons selected to be rebaptized that evening. The next day sixty-three more names were read and later rebaptized. 
In a letter written a few days after this conference, J. W. H. Kou, a native Church leader who had also followed Gibson for a time, explained the effect of this rebaptism: “While we followed Gibson, the covenant of the Gospel was broken, and we were baptized again. So, my family and I are committed to obey the voice of the servants of God.” 
This conference was the culmination of six months’ effort to reorganize the branches and revitalize the members, and Joseph F. was pleased so many had participated. Furthermore, at this conference much of the leadership responsibility was shifted to the native members, and Alma L. Smith was designated as mission president, with Benjamin Cluff to assist. Feeling matters were sufficiently arranged, Joseph F., William Cluff, and John R. Young boarded a ship to San Francisco en route for home just over a week later. 
Sometime after the Gibson incident, a New York newspaper, the Sun, reported, “We believe the Mormon leaders unanimously attribute to him [Gibson] the fact that their people no longer have a foothold in the dominion of Kamehameha [Hawaiian Islands], or indeed, we believe, anywhere in the whole Pacific.”  This, however, was not true. As the Honolulu conference of October 1864 shows, Joseph F. and his fellow missionaries had laid a solid foundation from which the Church would again rise and flourish in Hawaii.
One more incident from Joseph F.’s 1864 mission that occurred in San Francisco during his return from Hawaii to Salt Lake City deserves mention. “Now comes the temper,” wrote John R. Young, prefacing his account of the following occurrence:
There were living in San Francisco quite a number of relatives by marriage to the Smith family, and some of them were wealthy. They held a family reunion and invited Joseph to attend. He asked me to accompany him, which I did. We met them, . . . some twenty all told; six or eight strong, healthy looking men. A few stories were told, then the conversation drifted into personal experiences and present home conditions. They pitied Joseph and offered to deed him a good home if he would cut loose from the “Utah Mormons” and stay with them, his true friends. He declined, and said if they would excuse him he would bid them good night. All rose up, and then the storm broke. Their spokesman said in substance, “Joseph, we are disappointed in you; we thought you were a Smith, but any man who will come and go at the command of Brigham Young, the man who connived at the murder of your father and Uncle Joseph, has not a drop of Smith’s blood in his veins.” Joseph: “Do I understand you to say that Brigham Young connived at the murder of the Prophet Joseph Smith?” “Yes, and I can prove the assertion.” Then there leaped from Joseph’s lips the strongest expression that ever I heard come from them. “You are a damned infernal liar! Joseph Smith never had a truer friend than Brigham Young.” To me, how grand he looked. He seemed to expand until he towered head and shoulders above his opponents. While their faces scowled with anger, yet like the tempest tossed waves of the ocean, whose fury had been spent at the foot of the boulder, they recede, leaving the beach cleaner and whiter than before the storm.
How I loved that man’s manliness; he not a Smith? The very tension of the rigid muscles proclaimed him the embodiment of the chivalrous Macks and Smiths. 
Certainly the cumulative experience of this eight-month mission to Hawaii helped mold the character and expand the leadership ability of Joseph F. Smith. Over a month and a half of tutelage and close association with two Apostles, responsibility for the Church in Hawaii, disillusionment and apostasy among members, loss of a “gathering place,” financial setbacks to Church and members, reestablishment of Church organization, leadership and programs, and more would have enlightened, stretched, and strengthened him in unlikely ways for a twenty-five-year-old. George Q. Cannon, a man deeply regarded by Joseph F. and arguably one of the most influential missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands, acknowledged the confidence so many had in young Joseph F. this way: “Gibson must be a precious scoundrel. . . . I feel, however, that you will be able to counteract all this; it may be slowly, yet surely; and to build up a feeling of confidence that will stand the severest tests. The labor will be a severe and heavy one and will require patient perseverance, but, when accomplished, it will bring an abundant reward.”  True to such confidence, as blessed by Brigham Young when set apart for this mission, young Joseph F. exhibited “knowledge and wisdom beyond [his] years.” 
 Prior to 1864, Joseph F. had served a mission to Hawaii (1854–57, ages fifteen to nineteen); served in the Echo Canyon campaign of the Utah War (1857, age nineteen); married Levira A. Smith (1859, age twenty-one); and served a mission to Great Britain (1860–63, ages twenty-two to twenty-five). See Church Educational System, Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Religion 345) (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003), 94.
 See R. Lanier Britsch, Moramona: The Mormons in Hawaii (Laie, HI: The Institute for Polynesian Studies, 1989), 44. See also Nathaniel R. Ricks, “My Candid Opinion”: The Sandwich Islands Diaries of Joseph F. Smith, 1856–1857 (Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2011), 3; hereafter cited as Sandwich Islands Diaries.
 See Fred E. Woods, “The Palawi Pioneers on the Island of Lanai: The First Hawaiian Latter-day Saint Gathering Place (1854–1864),” Mormon Historical Studies 5, no. 2 (Fall 2004): 3–35.
 See Britsch, Moramona, 44, 49. According to Britsch, membership went from more than 4,650 in 1855 to 3,067 members of record in April 1858.
 See Britsch, Moramona, 50–58. Referring to the settlement of Saints on Lanai, Gibson wrote, “I could make a glorious little kingdom out of this,” and later explained, “I view him [the Hawaiian] and treat him as an interesting yet feeble younger brother, a subject of an ocean empire. . . . Who or what shall I fear when I am King.” Britsch, Moramona, 54–55.
 Letter to Alma L. Smith July 23, 1863, CR 1234, 1, box 29, folder 12, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.
 Letter to Alma L. Smith July 23, 1863, CR 1234, 1.
 Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, January 18, 1864, vol. 178, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City. Elder Wilford Woodruff wrote: “Met with Pres. Young and several of the Twelve . . . [he] informed us he had a letter from brethren on the Sandwich Islands which was read informing us that Capt. Gibson had ordained on the island a quorum of Twelve Apostles and Seventies and Bishops and High Priests. He charged $100 for ordaining the Twelve, $40 for each of the Seventies, $50 for a bishop and $25 for a bishop’s councillor, and he had claimed all the island to himself and said that Brigham Young had no dominion over those islands and all his conduct is accordingly. He has taken possession of the island and takes from the saints all that they raise. . . . After reading the letter he said that he wanted two of the Twelve to take several of the young brethren, who had been over there before, and go to the islands and set the churches in order and do what is necessary” (original spelling preserved).
 In Journal History, January 24, 1864, vol. 178; Elder Wilford Woodruff wrote: “I met with Prests. Brigham Young and Eleven of the Twelve Apostles. . . . Pres Young appointed Ezra T. Benson and Lorenzo Snow to the Pacific Islands. He also appointed Joseph F. Smith to go with them to preside over the Islands after the Twelve returned. He also appointed Wm w. Cluff John r. Young and Alma L. Smith to go as missionaries to the Islands. He said Joseph F. Smith and Cluff might take their wives with them, if they wished.” History of the Church, 45.
 In a letter to George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. explained his circumstances upon receiving his call to Hawaii in 1864: “When I reached home [from mission to Great Brittan] about the 1st of October, 1863, I found my wife very low; long and severe illness had racked her whole nervous system, and had reduced her to a mere shadow of her former self. . . . I gladly turned my whole attention towards doing what lay in my power to revive her drooping spirits and to renew hope and life, but she soon became so low that by many she was given up. . . . At last a change came for the better, and slowly . . . she improved in health and her reason gradually came back. . . . I began to make my calculations for the spring. . . . [Then] Word came from the valley that, Walter M. Gibson, was not conducting affairs in a proper manner on the Sandwich Islands, and President Young concluded to send two of the Twelve to straighten up matters, and brothers. W. W. Cluff, A. L. Smith, and myself, were selected to accompany them as interpreters. Consequently in a few weeks, we . . . were on our way to the Sandwich Islands.” Journal History, May 4, 1864, vol. 180.
 Blessing given by Brigham Young to Joseph F. Smith, February 29, 1864: “Brother Joseph F. Smith, we lay our hands upon your head in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and we set you apart to a mission to the Sandwich Islands in the Pacific Ocean, to go there in company with Bro Benson, Snow, Smith and with Br William W. Cluff , your companions, and we ask our father in heaven to bestow on you the light of truth to that degree that your heart will be lifted up on high, that you may see things as they are, and understand the mind of the Lord, that you may know the hearts of men, and their feelings towards you, and towards the brethren, that you may understand the good and the evil. And we pray our father in heaven to protect you, to inspire your heart, and to give you great power and wisdom to accomplish this mission, for we dedicate you, and set you apart to take the charge of this mission when the Apostles shall return from the Islands. And we pray that you may have wisdom to counsel your brethren, to guide and direct, and to dictate, to have knowledge and wisdom in financial matters, and in all the spiritual kingdom of God upon the earth; all of which shall be given you according to the mind of the Lord and the necessities that are upon you, and that you are under to know and understand things pertaining to the kingdom of God upon the earth, that you shall be equal to any that lives upon the earth, that your name shall be had among the nations of the earth for good and for evil. We pray that your knowledge may increase greatly upon you, so that your labors will become easy, and your judgment and understanding may be clear, to be an helpmate to your brethren in all things to the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth. Go in safety and in peace, and all the blessings your heart can desire in righteousness we seal on you, and say unto you go thy way rejoicing; we understand the labors you have had, and passed through, what has been upon you while you have been traveling from place to place, although young you have traveled and seen much, therefore, your wisdom shall be great, and your knowledge shall reach to the heavens. May you have knowledge and wisdom beyond your years, and visions by day and dreams by night, to show you the designs of the wicked against you, and the dangers that are spread on your path, and you shall escape, and overcome every obstruction and evil that may lay in your pathway, and you shall accomplish a great and good work on the earth, to which we ordain you and set you apart in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” MS 1325, box 50, folder 21, Church History Library. See also Journal History, February 29, 1864, vol. 178.
 Joseph F. Smith, journal, MS 1325, box 2, folder 3, Church History Library.
 William and Joseph F. were well acquainted. Years before, they had served several months as mission companions in Hawaii and had maintained correspondence for some time thereafter.
 The Cluff Family, The Cluff Family Journal (Provo, UT: Cluff Family Reunion, 1899–1904), 227. See also Joseph F. Smith, journal (MS 1325, box 2, folder 3, Church History Library).
 Joseph F. Smith, journal, March 29–30, MS 1325, box 2, folder 3, Church History Library.
 Joseph F. Smith, journal, March 31, MS 1325, box 2, folder 3, Church History Library.
 See William W. Cluff, Fragments of Experience (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1882), 6: 63–68. See also Cluff Family Journal, 227–29. Note, most published accounts of Lorenzo Snow’s near drowning appear to quote or paraphrase these two accounts by William W. Cluff (i.e., Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1884]; Orson F. Whitney, Lives of Our Leaders: Character Sketches of Living Presidents and Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lorenzo Snow [Salt Lake City, Deseret News, 1901], 9–28; Joseph Fielding Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith, Sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1969]; and Francis Gibbons, Joseph F. Smith: Patriarch and Preacher, Prophet of God [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1984]).
 Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 66.
 Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 68. See also Cluff Family Journal, 245.
 This was likely Elder Benson. In 1901 Joseph F. wrote, “Being familiar with the coast at that point, I had declined to enter the ship’s boat with the rest, or to disembark while the waves were running high. Brothers Cluff and Smith were equally averse to going in that boat, but yielded to Brother Benson’s persuasions.” James R. Clark, “Joseph F. Smith, First Presidency,” introduction, notes, and index to Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1833–1964 (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1901–15), 4:21.
 Deseret News, Lives of Our Leaders: Character Sketches of Living Presidents and Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1901), 58–59. See also Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, comp. John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1977), 534–36.
 Heber J. Grant, “Inspiration and Integrity of the Prophets,” Improvement Era, August 1919, 848.
 William W. Cluff recounts the following experience as they crossed over to Lanai: “When about half way across the channel, we ran into a large school of whales, some of them swimming with their backs out of water while others were sporting around us, some spouting and others throwing up their great flukes. One of them, a monster whale, came swimming toward us on the starboard side, his back three feet above the surface. He was fully sixty feet in length; to all appearance, he would strike our boat in the center. When within a few yards of us he lowered himself in the water and passed under the boat. Apparently his back was not more than a foot below the keel; had it struck him he would, no doubt, have thrown up his flukes and cut our boat in two or thrown it high into the air. In either case we should have been in a worse dilemma, than when we were capsized in the surf, as we were eight miles from land. A most providential escape.” Cluff Family Journal, 245.
 Joseph F. to George Q. Cannon May 4, 1864, correspondence, Journal History, History of Brigham Young, May 4, 1864, vol. 180.
 Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 69–74; and Cluff Family Journal, 245–50.
 Elder Benson referred to Gibson’s reaction as “more surprised than rejoiced at seeing us” in R. Lanier Britsch, Unto the Islands of the Sea: A History of the Latter-day Saints in the Pacific (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1986), 122.
 See Fred E. Woods, “The Palawai Pioneers on the Island of Lanai: The First Hawaiian Latter-day Saint Gathering Place 1854–1864,” Mormon Historical Studies 5, no. 2 (Fall 2004): 21–22. See also Ricks, Sandwich Islands Diaries, 115–31. Due to multiple crop failures and other setbacks faced by the saints on Lanai, in 1857, it was deemed advisable to select a more suitable “gathering place” on another island.
 Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 69.
 Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 70. See also Cluff Family Journal, 245–50.
 Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 69–70. See also Cluff Family Journal, 245–50.
 Cluff Family Journal, 246.
 Cluff Family Journal, 246.
 Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 71.
 George Q. Cannon was among the first missionaries to preach the Gospel to the native Hawaiians, and he was deeply respected and loved by them.
 Cluff Family Journal, 247.
 Cluff Family Journal, 247–48.
 Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 71–72.
 Cluff Family Journal, 248.
 Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 72.
 Britsch explains that Gibson stayed “on Lanai with those Saints who would remain with him. His influence had been strong among them, but when it was learned that he had been officially cut off from the Church, the people of Lanai left him very quickly. In October 1864, only six months later, it was reported that there were only fourteen members of the Church still living under Gibson’s direction on Lanai. These people requested to be cut off from the Church in October 1864, and their request was granted.” Britsch, Islands of the Sea, 123.
 Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 73.
 Gibson, aware of his fate, wrote a letter to Brigham Young stating, “I cannot forget my love and regard for your person, although you have dealt precipitately and harshly with me. . . . I think and feel, that though my spirit has not responded to your call, and we are now in different channels, that yet my course, will never lead me into an attitude that will be hostile to you, or the work you direct.” CR 1234-1, reel 40, box 29, folder 19 Church History Library. Though Gibson was excommunicated, he maintained a civil, if not courteous, relationship with the Church thereafter. Britsch, The Mormons in Hawaii, 58.
 Joseph F. Smith, journal, January 24, 1864–April 25, 1864, also April 14–15, MS 1325, box 2, folder 3, Church History Library.
 Cluff Family Journal, 249. See also Joseph F. Smith, journal, January 24, 1864–April 25, 1864; see also April 16–18. MS 1325, box 2, folder 3, Church History Library.
 The authors of this article base this estimate on letter correspondence, between April and October 1864 that indicate rather small gatherings of Saints as the missionaries travel throughout the Islands to reestablish the Church. Further substantiating a rather small number, only two hundred people attend the Islands-wide conference held six months later in Honolulu.
 Journal History, vol. 181, July–August 1864, Extracts from a letter by Joseph F. Smith printed in Deseret Weekly News, August 31, 1864, 385.
 Margaret Bock explained, “It was not considered desirable to leave them under his [Gibson’s] influence. Another area was sought for a gathering place and also for headquarters for the reestablishment of the Church. The natives were disillusioned and had scattered throughout the islands, some to their former homes; others were social outcasts; and others were still too ashamed and depressed to try to make places for themselves in the communities. The Church felt responsible in trying to reorganize their members who had been misled by the fanciful Gibson.” Margaret Bock, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Hawaiian Islands” (master’s thesis, University of Hawaii, 1941), chapter 3.
 William Cluff recorded, “As Mr. Gibson had succeeded in obtaining a personal title to the land leased for that purpose, on the island of Lanai, brothers Benson and Snow advised the Elders who remained, to notice in their travels what appeared to them the best places for this purpose, that, when the time came for it, a good selection might be made.” Fragments of Experience, 74.
 Britsch explained: “One might wonder whether the Church attempted to recover the lands it had purchased on Lanai. Although the native Saints did make a half-hearted attempt to do so, the missionaries made no legal effort to win back the land. The reason for this was twofold. First, Joseph F. Smith, who was in Hawaii earlier when the decision had been made to look for a new gathering place, would have had to institute such litigation, but he did not believe that Lanai was worth fighting for. His feelings about the matter had apparently not changed since 1857. Second, Elder Smith was convinced that the costs of a court battle would be greater than the value of the land. Thus Gibson was left alone to do as he desired with the Palawai plantation. He had difficulty accomplishing much there after the Saints left because his subservient laborers could not be replaced from another source” Britsch, Islands of the Sea, 123.
 Alma L. Smith to Joseph F. and William Cluff, May 3, 1864: “Went to Hana [island of Maui]. . . . Ascertained what information I could about that 600 acres of land in Hana, it belongs to a Mr Steele at Makawao but the prospects concerning it was anything but flattering.” MS 1325, box 9, folder 24, Church History Library. Alma L. Smith to Joseph F., June 22, 1864: “I took particular pains to go and see Mr Steele of Makawao about that land at Hana, he says that he once wanted to sell it, price 1000 dollar, but has since changed his mind and will not sell it. So there is the ‘“end of that.’ MS 1325, box 9, folder 24, Church History Library.
 William W. Cluff to Joseph F., August 6, 1864: “I have examined the land at Lumahai [island of Kauai] and I think it will be as good a place for our purpose as any we can find. If you do not succeed in getting that piece on Hawaii we might try and get this.” MS 1325, box 9, folder 22, Church History Library.
 Joseph F. to Brigham Young, August 30, 1864: “Our friend Haalelea, has offered us a large tract of land on Hawaii [Papaikou] for $3,000. Bros Alma L. & John R. called and saw it, and were well pleased with it. Quite a number of the saints are eager to buy it, but to raise the money will be no small task at present, I assure you.” CR1234/
 Journal History, July–August 1864, vol. 181, Honolulu, Oahu, extracts from a letter by Joseph F. Smith, printed in Deseret News Weekly, August 31, 1864, 385.
 Riley M. Moffat, Fred E. Woods, Jeffrey N. Walker, Gathering to Laie (Laie, HI: The Jonathan Napela Center for Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Studies, 2011), 24.
 See Smith, Messages of the First Presidency, 21.
 Moffat, Woods, and Walker, Gathering to Laie, 23–24.
 Moffat, Woods, and Walker, Gathering to Laie, 24–25.
 Joseph F. Smith, journal, January 24, 1864–April 25, 1864, MS 1325, box 2, folder 3, Church History Library.
 Journal History, May 4, 1864, vol. 180, History of Brigham Young, letter from Joseph F. Smith to George Q. Cannon. See also Journal History, May 20, 1864, vol. 180, letter from Joseph F. Smith to his cousin David Taylor, published in Deseret News, August 17, 1864, 366.
 Alma L. Smith to Brigham Young, April 29, 1864, correspondence, CR 1234-1, reel 41, box 30, folder 5, Church History Library; see also Journal History, April 29, 1864, 179, published in Deseret News, June 22, 1864, 305.
 Journal History, July 5, 1864, 181. Joseph F. appears to be referencing Protestant missionaries who arrived in Hawaii approximately forty years prior. At the time he wrote this, Latter-day Saint missionaries had only been in Hawaii for fourteen years. Joseph F.’s frustration generally arose from recognition that despite the missionaries’ best efforts to assist native members both spiritually and temporally, many native members would retain their old religious traditions and remain in poor living conditions.
 John R. Young had previously served in the Hawaiian Islands and spoke fluent Hawaiian. He was Brigham Young’s nephew.
 Benjamin Cluff is William W. Cluff’s older brother. Unlike the other missionaries, he had not previously served in Hawaii and did not yet speak Hawaiian.
 Regarding his attempt to recover some Church belongings from Gibson, John R. Young writes, “I crossed to Lanai in a whale boat. I stayed a week with Mr. Gibson. He surrendered to me five hundred Books of Mormon, his temple clothes, and a watch that my father had given to him. I recrossed the channel to Maui . . . and found Elder A. L. Smith anxious to learn the success of my mission.” Memoirs of John R. Young, Utah Pioneer, 1847 (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1920), 132.
 Journal History, July–August 1864, vol. 181, extracts from a letter by Joseph F. Smith printed in Deseret News Weekly, August 31, 1864, 385.
 Journal History, July–August 1864, vol. 181, extracts from a letter by Joseph F. Smith printed in Deseret News Weekly, August 31, 1864, 385.
 Memoirs of John R. Young, 137.
 Memoirs of John R. Young, 138. Another recorded incident of rebaptism is found in a letter from William Cluff (then on island of Kauai) to Joseph F. dated July 22: “I found Bro Brown well and feeling good. . . . I re-baptized him last evening.” February 18, 1864–November 2, 1864, MS 1325, box 9, folder 22, Church History Library.
 Paul H. Peterson, “Reformation (LDS) of 1856–1857,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 3:1197–98.
 Joseph F. mentions this movement of rebaptism in his personal journal and correspondence during his first mission to Hawaii. See Ricks, Sandwich Island Diaries; see also letters from Joseph F. Smith to Martha Ann Smith Harris, in My Dear Sister: Letters between Joseph F. Smith and His Sister Martha Ann, ed. David M. Whitchurch and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, forthcoming).
 Joseph F. shared his intent to conduct a reformation/
 Journal History, September–October 1864, vol. 182; Minutes of a Conference, held in Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, October 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1864; “Sandwich Islands Mission,” Deseret News, November 30, 1864, 67. See also Andrew Jenson, History of the Hawaiian Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Special Collections, Brigham Young University–Hawaii, Laie, HI.
 Journal History, September–October 1864, vol. 182; Minutes of a Conference, held in Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, October 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1864; “Sandwich Islands Mission,” Deseret News, November 30, 1864, 67. See also Jenson, History of the Hawaiian Mission.
 Journal History, September–October 1864, vol. 182; Minutes of a Conference, held in Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, October 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1864; “Sandwich Islands Mission,” Deseret News, November 30, 1864, 67. See also Jenson, History of the Hawaiian Mission. Notably, in the conference minutes, Joseph F. reported “fourteen persons as still adhering to Gibson, and who wished to be dropped from the church; motioned and seconded that they be cut off from the church; carried unanimously.” Thus in six months Elder Snow’s prophecy that not one of the Saints would remain with Gibson appeared fulfilled. Cluff, Fragments of Experience, 73.
 October 7, 1864, MS 16877; J. W. H. Kou’s report of 1864 visit of Joseph F. Smith, E. Benson, and L. Snow to Hawaii, translated by Kamoa’e Walk, Kapi’olani Akhay, Noelani Nomiyama, and Leonahenahe Aina.
 The departure of Joseph F. after only six months labor may seem precipitous. However, in a letter to Joseph F. and the other missionaries dated July 28, 1864, Brigham Young stated: “I now write to inform you that the management of the mission and the length of the stay of either or all of you, upon the Islands is hereby left entirely to your own judgments guided by the dictates of the Spirit to you. It seems to me that you will be able to leave the affairs of the mission in the hands of the native brethren as advantageously as the present circumstances will permit, giving them such organization, counsel and, instructions as may be most fitting to their condition, which will release you to the performance of duties where the spheres of your usefulness will be much more enlarged. . . . Should you conclude that Elders John R. Young and Benjamin Cluff can be instrumental in doing good by tarrying a while after the rest of you leave, all right; and should you decide it best for all of you to return together, that will also be equally right, for the matter as before stated is left with yourselves under the dictates of the Spirit to you.” July 28, 1864, MS 1325, box 9, folder 25, Church History Library. In a letter to George A. Smith dated August 30, 1864, Joseph F. explains, “I believe the best thing that can be done, is to shift as much of the load upon them [the native members] as possible, and require them to act for themselves. As soon after our October conference as possible some of us will make the best of our way home.” CR1234/
 Thomas G. Thrum, The Shepherd Saint of Lanai: Rich “Primacy” Revelations, Gathered from Various Sources and Produced in Historical Shape for the First Time in the “Saturday Press”, Dec. 24, 1881 to Jan. 14, 1882 (Honolulu: Thos. G. Thrum, 1882), http://
 Memoirs of John R. Young, 279–80.
 George Q. Cannon to Joseph F. Smith, August 9, 1864, correspondence, MS 1325, box 9, folder 22, Church History Library.
 MS 1325, box 50, folder 21, Church History Library; see also Journal History, February 29, 1864, vol. 178.