A Mission to Washington: Orson Pratt’s Publishing of The Seer

Fred E. Woods

Fred E. Woods, “A Mission to Washington: Orson Pratt's Publishing of The Seer,” in Latter-day Saints in Washington, DC: History, People, and Places, ed. Kenneth L. Alford, Lloyd D. Newell, and Alexander L. Baugh (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book), 67‒84.

Fred E. Woods was a professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University when this was published.

Brigham Young, photo by Charles W. Carter, ca. 1860, negative glass photo collection, Church History Library.Brigham Young, photo by Charles W. Carter, ca. 1860, negative glass photo collection, Church History Library.

The eloquent and systematic spokesperson designated to publicly announce the controversial Latter-day Saint doctrine of polygamy was carefully handpicked by Brigham Young.[1] The brilliant disciple selected, Orson Pratt, was certainly equipped for the job. Born in 1811 in Hartford, New York, Elder Pratt became one of the most influential Apostles in nineteenth-century Latter-day Saint history. What made Pratt an unlikely choice for this assignment was that he had previously fought against the principle, resulting in his Church discipline. However, the Apostle successfully wrestled for a testimony of its certainty, received and practiced the doctrine of plural marriage himself, and became an ardent lifetime defender of its truth.[2] Orson Pratt was multitalented and exceedingly bright, bringing a wealth of experience as a scientist, mathematician, philosopher, avid missionary, and bold Apostle. With Orson having been taught the restored gospel by his brother Parley, the two siblings became great defenders of the faith and prolific writers and pamphleteers.[3]

Following a three-year assignment as the president of the British Mission (1848–51), Pratt returned to Salt Lake City. He was well prepared for the pronouncement and the opposition that would follow because he was proficient and experienced with the pen, having just published sixteen articles in defense of the faith in his role as the editor of the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star.[4]

Orson Pratt (1811–81), photo by C. R. Savage. Ron Fox.Orson Pratt (1811–81), photo by C. R. Savage. Ron Fox.

Pratt’s polished announcement of plural marriage was made on 29 August 1852 via a special conference from the tabernacle. There was certainly a keen need to again take up the pen in defense of this controversial doctrine soon referred to in the public world as a relic of barbarism.[5] Young referred to the publication of this controversial practice as “cats and kittens . . . let out of the bag.”[6] Soon after the announcement of plural marriage, indispensable polemical periodicals written by Latter-day Saint members and aimed at defending polygamy surfaced in the United States and as far as Sydney, Australia, where elders launched Zion’s Watchman. The St. Louis Luminary emerged in 1854, The Mormon at New York City in 1855, and the following year, the Western Standard in San Francisco. Yet the first Church polemical publication following the announcement on plural marriage was The Seer, whose publisher and able editor was Orson Pratt. Pratt’s editorial work was singular because he personally penned all the articles in both volumes of this monthly, sixteen-page, 6½² x 9½² periodical. Following the announcement of plural marriage, Pratt was quickly dispatched by President Young to Washington, DC, to defend Church doctrines at the federal city, particularly the Saints’ practice of polygamy. Pratt’s inauguration of The Seer at the dawn of 1853 would prove to be “the most detailed defense of the doctrine in LDS literature.”[7]

Due to the expenses and lack of reception of this bold paper, there were only twenty issues published monthly between January 1853 and August 1854, and the entire first volume—twelve issues (1853)—dealt almost entirely with the subject of plural marriage, which Elder Pratt referred to as “Celestial Marriage.” The prospectus explained the publication’s title and outlined the purpose of the newly published Seer: “THE SEER is a title assumed for this Periodical in commemoration of Joseph Smith, the great SEER. . . . The pages of the Seer will be mostly occupied with original matter, illucidating [sic] the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”[8] Pratt boldly made it known that he was targeting U.S. government officials.

Prospectus, The Seer 1, no. 1 (January 1853). Reid Moon Rare Book Collection.Prospectus, The Seer 1, no. 1 (January 1853). Reid Moon Rare Book Collection.

However, his exuberance coupled with the “peculiar doctrines” appear to have been too much for the U.S. officials to handle. Just weeks before, Dr. John M. Bernhisel,[9] Utah’s territorial delegate to the House of Representatives, wrote from the capital with private concerns to Brigham Young about what might erupt if there was a work published on the topic of plural marriage: “Brother J. [Jedediah] M. Grant . . . intimated that he would ask Elder Orson Pratt to publish an exposition of the Peculiar Doctrine, but I would beg respectfully to suggest that, in my humble judgment, no such publication had better be made, for the public mind is exceedingly sensitive on that subject, not at all prepared to receive it, and its effect would be decidedly injurious.”[10]

Bernhisel, a quiet, gentle man who continually sought to generate light instead of heat, was no doubt particularly concerned with how such a publication might be viewed by federal officials.[11] Notwithstanding, before the end of the month and just one day after Pratt announced the practice of polygamy, Brigham Young informed Bernhisel that there was already a plan to spread the word and that Orson Pratt would be coming to Washington.[12] About two weeks later, President Young again wrote to Bernhisel indicating that although he expected opposition, “truth is mighty and will prevail.” Young further noted that he felt Pratt “will doubtless afford you much assistance as well as consolation in the things pertaining to our holy religion.”[13]

John M. Bernhisel (1799–1881). Church History Library.John M. Bernhisel (1799–1881). Church History Library.

Before September ended, President Young sent another letter to Bernhisel, who was concerned that the announcement concerning the Saints’ public practice of polygamy was alienating the Congress from the Church even further. Young stated, “We are not dependent upon this generation for our position. . . . Let them howl and spend their fury, the Lord is our God and where he is, they cannot come. He is our defense and will sustain his cause against all opposition and . . . will hush every murmur. Therefore, do not let your heart be troubled. . . . God has spoken and his word shall not return unto him void.”[14]

By November 1852, news had already reached Washington via the local newspaper, The Republic, that Pratt was coming to the nation’s capital city.[15] The following month, the Weekly National Intelligencer also announced that Pratt, “one of the Twelve,” was “destined for Washington where he is to commence the publication of a monthly paper devoted to the dissemination and defense of Mormonism.”[16] By year’s end, Pratt had arrived and soon he would be known by the local press as “the great expounder of . . . [Latter-day Saint] doctrines” who “boldly advocates this [polygamous] practice.”[17] At the same time, public opinion was overwhelmingly negative against Pratt and his defense of plural marriage.

By the close of December, Young again wrote Bernhisel, “Remember me to Bro Orson Pratt, and be assured that we always remember you both, . . . praying my Father in Heaven to preserve and bless you always I remain as ever your friend and brother in Christ.”[18] Prayers would certainly be needed. The following day, Pratt wrote President Young to give him an update regarding his reception in Washington as 1852 came to an end. He indicated that he had sent a copy of The Seer to major newspapers, as well as several local bookstores and repositories for periodicals, but mentioned that no copies had been sold due to the prejudice surrounding the Saints and publishers being ashamed to associate themselves with the Church and its doctrines. Pratt further noted, “I rented for three months a place for meetings in ‘Temperance Hall’ where I preach every Wednesday evening and three times every Sabbath. The meetings have been very well attended.”[19] About that same time, he wrote, “The power of the Spirit has been upon me, and by the appearance of the people’s countenances I should judge that many are convicted of the truth, whether they will ever muster courage enough to obey or not. . . . But do not think I am discouraged, for I do greatly rejoice in the mission you have given me.” Pratt continued, “Bro Bernhisel is working in his mild way, and doing much good. . . . I have reasoned much with him & tried to show him that he had nothing to fear—that now was the time, and the best time, for declaring boldly our sentiments in regard to plurality.”[20]

The following month, Pratt pushed hard to publish The Seer, knowing the Latter-day Saint practice he was defending was viewed widely as loathsome. In feeling the enormity of the task, Pratt meekly wrote President Young, “If you have any counsel for me, I can assure you that it will be gratefully received. I endeavor to live just as faithful as I can. And I call upon the Lord continually to direct me in all things. My heart is joyful in the Lord, though the people reject my testimony, for I feel as though I was doing that which is required at my hands.”[21]

A week later, Bernhisel wrote to President Young regarding the stiff opposition Pratt was confronted with, which included a very influential cluster of federal politicians. Bernhisel noted, “Brother Pratt preached the ‘doctrine’ of celestial marriage &c fully and plainly, and in all its various ramifications, keeping nothing back. The discourse produced quite a sensation in the Hall, a number left, and when he had concluded his audience was reduced about one third.” Further, “The promulgation of the doctrine from the pulpit, and the press, has greatly revived prejudice against us, not only in the city and throughout the country, but among the grave Senators and impulsive representatives of the people. Neither priests nor people, or members of any of the branches of the National Government, will condescend to hear or investigate.”[22]

The boldness and reception of Pratt’s preaching through word and pen are evident from the local Washington press. For example, the Daily Evening Star noted, “We learn from the Seer, a Mormon weekly oracle just established at Washington by Orson Pratt, an accredited saint from ‘Deseret,’ that there is a bad time coming for this sinful country—Elder Pratt paints the ‘future of America,’ as follows: ‘The cup of the iniquity of this nation is nearly full; and woe unto them.’”[23]

Notwithstanding, the press circulated knowledge of The Seer and Washington’s Daily Union and even published extracts of the second issue. Under the title “Mormon Matrimony,” the Union noted, “We believe the public are already apprized of the fact that the disciples of Mormonism have established an ‘organ’ in this city. The second issue of this remarkable journal . . . makes some strange revelations concerning Mormon matrimony, we propose to submit to our readers a few extracts from the ‘Seer’ . . . under the supervision or rather inspiration of Elder Orson Pratt.”[24]

The following month, Pratt again reported to Young of his tireless, diligent labors in Washington. He told of his good health and concerted efforts to move forward the Lord’s work through his writing and preaching, though few responded to his message. Notwithstanding the lack of interest, Pratt said he “never enjoyed greater liberty of speech than I have in these lectures; the Spirit has rested upon me mightily, but the hearts of the people are sealed against the truth; and I marvel exceedingly at their unbelief & hardness of heart.” Pratt then explained the demanding labor involved in producing The Seer, its intended results, and his belief that Washington was the best place for it to be published:

Every item yet admitted into the Seer has been new matter of my own composition. It is no small task to write 112 pages of printed matter as large as the Seer. I am confident that I will have to rest my mind a little, and exercise my body more in order to preserve my health. My object has been to hurry out the whole twelve Nos. of the Seer as soon as possible in order that the evidences and arguments in relation to Plurality may be set before the minds of the people before other works shall appear in opposition, and also that they may be led to investigate while the subject is fresh before their minds. I am satisfied that Washington is the place above all others for us to publish a Periodical. If I had commenced this paper in Philadelphia, or N. York, not one quarter of the notice would have been taken of it, that there is now. Almost every paper in the union now seems to notice us: the whole press is thundering down upon us; and this has been better than several million of advertisements.[25]

During the spring of 1853, Orson traveled to St. Louis to conduct business. During his time there, he also oversaw emigration in this region and carried out a variety of tasks, which included the printing and shipping of Church literature. By the end of May he had reached Liverpool to continue Church business. Writing from the British Isles, Pratt asked Young if Bernhisel had informed Young of Pratt’s efforts to “wake up the people of Washington.” Pratt continued, “I labored hard to raise an excitement but could not do it: the people would not turn out to hear and after preaching some 18 or 20 times to the bare walls and empty benches with here & there a half-frightened-to-death stragler [sic], I was obliged to give up my meetings for the want of hearers.” He also noted, “The scattered saints throughout the U.S. and in the British Provinces are greatly revived up in their feelings, by reading the Seer. The subscription list, including St Louis & the Canadas, are is not far from 700.” Notwithstanding, Pratt planned to return to the U.S. and “give Washington another thorough trial, after they have rested awhile; for I dislike very much to give up beat.” He also told Young, “I shall be most happy to receive any counsel from you which you may have to impart to me. Shall I continue the Seer for another year? . . . I am somewhat at a loss whether to continue the Seer for another year or not.”[26]

Two days later, Young wrote encouragingly to Pratt yet also gently raised some caution with regard to Pratt’s doctrinal writings: “The news of your safe arrival at Washington, & of your proceedings there, was highly gratifying, evincing energy, zeal, perseverance, & the direction of the spirit of the Lord, though I must confess I was somewhat surprised to see the sealing ordinance in print at all, & especially in the prints of the Gentiles, however it may be all right.” Young continued,

We were not at all surprised, nor disappointed that you did not take Washington by storm, but on the contrary we can see the hand of the Lord for our good in letting so prominent an item of our public doctrines strike the ears of the people at large with so little of bitter opposition; this affords us much pleasure, indicating that your main trial at present is simply to use patience, & exercise that perseverance, on your return from England, that you speak of in your letter, viz, to try them again, & continue so to do as long as the Spirit dictates, or until wisdom may otherwise direct.[27]

About this same time, Bernhisel returned home for a visit to Utah. On 19 June 1853, he spoke in the Tabernacle and talked about the fallout between the Saints in Utah Territory and the U.S. government. He also warned that the public press was against the Saints and that their enemies wanted to crush Church members. In addition, Bernhisel cautioned that Church leaders needed to avoid conflicts with the government. He also expressed his view that sending Pratt to Washington in defense of polygamy was a serious mistake and had caused more prejudice against the Saints.[28]

As noted, President Young quickly responded to Bernhisel’s speech with a fiery sermon: “All the cats and kittens were let out of the bag when Brother Pratt . . . published the Revelation concerning the plurality of wives.” Brigham further noted, “Do you suppose that this people will ever see the day that they will rest in perfect security? . . . They never will. Christ and Satan never can be friends.” Young told the congregation, “Inasmuch as we send brother Bernhisel back to Washington, I say to him, ‘Fear not their faces, nor their powder, for we are perfectly prepared to take all the nations of the earth on our back.’”[29]

After a three-and-a-half-month absence in Utah, Pratt once again returned to Washington, DC, which he referred to as “Gentile head-quarters.” Upon arrival, he found several letters from President Young, including the one in which Young carefully raised the issue of Pratt’s doctrinal teachings concerning temple sealings. Pratt responded, “In publishing the sealing ordinance, I was not aware that there was any thing in relation to it, that was to be kept any more secret, than the subject of Plurality of Wives; and being authorized to publish the latter, I supposed that the sealing ordinance was so closely connected with it, that it was right to publish it.” Pratt further stated, “I am not aware that I have ever received any injunctions of secrecy in regard to the method of marriage . . . ; if you consider that I have erred in this thing, be assured that it was an error of ignorance, and I hope that I may be pardoned for this ignorance. I wish to do right, and often feel to mourn that I have not more of the Spirit to direct me.” Pratt humbly continued to pen, “The article on Celestial Marriage will be closed in the 12th No. I have occupied about 8 pages of each . . . and have endeavored to set forth the arguments in clearness & simplicity; but being obliged to break up new ground without the assistance of previous Authors, I have not arranged the arguments as systematically as I should do were I to rewrite upon the same subject.”[30] About three weeks later, Pratt again wrote Young in a spirit of sincere repentance:

One of your letters, you state that in some of the Seers, there are many points urged by me in my reasoning ‘that are not Sound Doctrine, and will not be so received by the Saints.’ This may be the case, for I am liable to err. . . . I desire that you & all the saints will forgive me for having published any thing which is in the least derogatory to your settled views: and had I been persuaded that you did in reality entertain permanent views contrary to what I have published, I should have kept my views away from the public, for it is not my prerogative to teach publicly that which I know the president considers to be unsound.[31]

With this correspondence, he enclosed a letter for the Deseret News, meekly stating,

I have been informed by letter from our Beloved President Young, that in several of the Seers, ‘there are many points’ urged by me in my reasoning, ‘that are not Sound Doctrine, and will not be so received by the Saints.’ What those points are is not explained in the letter. This is, therefore, to acknowledge my weakness & liability to err, without the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost which leads into all truth. How great is the weakness of man! and how little can his teachings or writings be depended upon without revelation from the great fountain of truth! I do most earnestly hope that the Saints throughout the world will reject every unsound doctrine which they may discover in the ‘Seer’ or in any of my writings. Whatever may come in contact with the settled & Permanent views of our president, should be laid aside as the emenations [sic] of erring human wisdom. God has appointed him as our president, and it is his province to correct us.[32]

Pratt had been particularly concerned about how President Young had viewed his doctrinal treatments on polygamy published in The Seer. In late January 1854, President Young wrote to Pratt to explain how he viewed such writings: “In alluding to certain Doctrine published in the [Millennial] Star, I did so with the best of feeling, & not with an idea that any harm had occurred therefrom, or would; and, as I wrote at the time, I presumed the ‘Seer’ might obtain a more extended circulation by treating more upon simpler subjects, & those doctrines that more immediately concerned unbelievers; hence there is no occasion for you to disquiet yourself on account of the item you commented upon.”[33]

This same month, the first issue of the second volume of The Seer was published, and it did indeed have more of a focus on basic doctrines, following a full-year treatment of plural marriage in every issue of the first volume. The January 1854 issue was divided into three major segments. The first, five pages in length, was an article titled “The Treatment of the United States Towards the Saints”; the second, “Faith,” was six pages long; and the third, nearly five pages, dealt with “Questions and Answers on Doctrine,” written by the editor. The second issue of this volume again carried on a discussion of faith, “Faith is the gift of God,” as well as a lengthy treatment on the topic of “repentance.” Thus, Brigham’s counsel to write “more upon simpler subjects” was certainly heeded.[34]

In mid-February, Pratt wrote to Young, first thanking him for the “privilege of returning home this season,” to Utah, an option which Young had left for Pratt to choose. Yet Pratt added that he wanted to write “ten more Nos of the ‘Seer’” before he returned. Concerning his work with the Seer, Pratt wrote,

Many have been stirred up to investigate, and the Saints have begun to wake up out of their slumbers; and now and then one will keep awake, so that I greatly rejoice in the mission which you gave to me. . . . I have done the best with it that I could. I am happy to say that no Gentile has, as yet, to my knowledge, been able to bring one argument against it [polygamy]. . . . In the second volume, I say nothing about that subject, but am treating upon Faith, Repentance, and other items of a more simple nature, according to your suggestion, and as I had intended to do, after having placed those other principles prominently before the public.[35]

The intense work of writing day after day as well as responding to attacks took its toll on Pratt: “As I have not extracted from other publications, but have taken pains to have all the contents of the Seer, so far, of my own composition, it has cost me an immense deal of labour. . . . My hair is getting somewhat grey, and considerably thinner by constant sitting and writing; I am crowded with letters of inquiry which take up a good portion of my time in answering.[36]

Nearly two months later, Pratt, still frustrated with the hard-heartedness of DC, or “Gentile head-quarters,” wrote, “the selling of L.D. Saint’s publications to the Gentiles in this country is altogether out of the question. There is not, I suppose, one out of a hundred that would take them as a gift, unless, they took them to burn.”[37] Such a poor reception would soon influence Pratt’s return to Utah, yet there was much more for Pratt to do in the remaining decades of his life.

Soon Young penned another letter to Pratt, stating, “I was pleased to learn of your faithful perseverance. . . . You will learn from the Deseret News . . . Bros Orson Pratt & Orson Spencer were appointed on missions . . . more immediately in the neighborhood of Cincinnatti [sic] though it is presumed you will start for home soon . . . & spend the coming winter with us & your family.”[38]

By August 1854 the final issue of The Seer (vol. 2, no. 8) was published. The entire sixteen-page issue treated a topic titled “Preparations for the Second Advent.” On the final page of The Seer, Pratt described the future glory of the Lord when he again appears: “Reader, contemplate for a moment this grand and magnificent scenery. Contemplate a great and extended city, with a dazzling and glorious light, enveloping every habitation. . . . Such a scene as this the earth has never realized.” He concluded with the thought that at the time when the Savior appears, “then shall the glorious reign of peace commence, and the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”[39] Although Pratt knew this day would come, neither the nation’s capital city, nor the world at large was ready for such a flood, or even a trickle. Even the Saints sometimes struggled with his profound intellectual capacity.

Orson’s explorative understanding of some doctrines he wrote about in The Seer sometimes came into conflict with Church leaders, particularly with Brigham Young. This resulted in occasional reproof from President Young, to which Orson was willing to submit. However, one historian noted, when Elder Pratt was criticized by “exceptionally orthodox” Church members, Brigham Young “dismissed the remarks with a tribute: ‘If Brother Orson were chopped up in inch pieces, each piece would cry out Mormonism was true.’”[40]

Orson’s mission to Washington and publication of The Seer was but one of his many missions for a season. Elder Pratt would continue to serve vigorously and faithfully the remainder of his days. Leonard J. Arrington paid this tribute to Pratt: “He was the best-known Mormon besides Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. He was the foremost intellectual in the Church. . . . He was at the time of his death in 1881, the oldest most experienced general authority of the Church. He was one of the first missionaries, one of the original group of the Twelve Apostles, the official Church Historian, and leading Mormon scripturist. He was the first Mormon in the Salt Lake Valley, the leading exponent of Mormon doctrines, and for seven terms served as speaker of the territory’s House of Representatives.”[41]

When Pratt was approaching seventy, his last mission was to the British Isles. One author noted, “The strain of working eighteen hours a day . . . sapped his vigor, broke his health, and brought about his death in 1881.” Summarizing his impressive life, the Deseret News noted, “Orson Pratt was truly an Apostle of the Lord. Full of integrity, firm as a rock to his convictions, true to his brethren and to his God, earnest and zealous in defense and proclamation of the truth, ever ready to bear testimony to the latter-day work . . . [he] was an eloquent speaker, a powerful minister.”[42] Orson’s publication of The Seer represents but one parcel of his life, a life devoted to a declaration of the faith that he defended with all his heart, might, mind, and strength.


[1] For coverage of this landmark address to a crowd of about three thousand, see Deseret News, Extra, 14 September 1852.

[2] David J. Whittaker, “Pratt, Orson,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 3:1114–15 notes that Pratt was excommunicated in August 1842 for his negative reaction to the practice of polygamy and struggled to obtain a witness of the doctrine. Pratt eventually did and had seven wives and forty-five children.

[3] Donald Q. Cannon, “Pratt, Orson,” and Peter Crawley, “Pratt, Parley, P.,” in Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, ed. Arnold Garr, Donald Q. Cannon and Richard Cowan (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 939–41. See also David J. Whittaker, “Orson Pratt: Prolific Pamphleteer,” Dialogue 15 (Autumn 1982): 27, who notes that Pratt was “the most prolific and perhaps most influential early Mormon pamphleteer. . . . He authored over thirty works on both religious and scientific topics. Influential during his own lifetime, he wielded even more influence after his death.”

[4] David J. Whittaker, “Pratt, Orson,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3:1114–15.

[5] The 1856 republican platform designated slavery and polygamy as “the twin relics of barbarism.” For more on this issue, see Richard D. Poll, “The Twin Relic: A Study of Mormon Polygamy and the Campaign by the Government of the United States for its Abolition, 1852-1890” (master’s thesis, Texas Christian University, 1939).

[6] Brigham Young, “Where the Wicked Go—Continual Opposition to and Prejudice Against the Truth—The Judges and the Delegate of Utah—The Spirit of God and the Spirit of the World—Potency of the Gospel” (discourse given 19 June 1853), Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854–86), 1:188.

[7] David J. Whittaker, “Pratt, Orson,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3:1115. With regards to the timing for the public announcement of the revelation, David J. Whittaker, “The Bone in the Throat: Orson Pratt and the Public Announcement of Plural Marriage,” Western Historical Quarterly 18, no. 3 (July 1987): 295 explained three major reasons why the Saints decided to go public in 1852, although there is evidence it had been privately practiced as early as 1831. First, because there had been charges made against the Saints by federal agents in 1851. Second, the Saints were approaching the end of their isolation in Deseret and third, because of what Whittaker calls, “Mormon millennialism,” a belief that the Second Coming of the Lord and the ushering of the millennial era was nigh at hand.

[8] Orson Pratt, ed., “Prospectus of ‘The Seer,’” The Seer 1, no. 1 (January 1853): 1..

[9] John M. Bernhisel graduated with his doctoral degree in medicine in 1827. He was a personal physician to Joseph Smith Jr. Dr. Bernhisel was also an able politician. He was a Utah Territorial delegate, appointed by Governor Brigham Young from 1851 to 1859 and was again appointed as delegate from 1861 to 1863. He was instrumental in helping to reconcile the strained relationship between Utah Territory and the federal government on several occasions. See Lynn M. Hilton and Hope A. Hilton, “John Milton Bernhisel,” in Utah History Encyclopedia, ed. Allan Kent Powell (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1994), 41–42.

[10] John M. Bernhisel to Brigham Young, 12 August 1852, Brigham Young Correspondence, CR 1234/1 Church History Library, Salt Lake City; hereafter cited as BYC.

[11] For a complete treatment on Bernhisel’s political service, see Gwynn Barrett, “John Bernhisel: Mormon Elder in Congress” (PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1968).

[12] Brigham Young to John Bernhisel, 28 August 1852, BYC; note that he was still writing on 30 August.

[13] Brigham Young to John Bernhisel, 14 September 1852, BYC.

[14] Brigham Young to John Bernhisel, 29 September 1852, BYC.

[15] “The Mormons,” The Republic, 23 November 1852, 3.

[16] Weekly National Intelligencer, 4 December 1852, 2.

[17] “The Mormons,” The Republic, 1 April 1853, 2.

[18] Brigham Young to John M. Bernhisel, 30 December 1852, BYC.

[19] “Doctrines of Mormonism,” Weekly National Intelligencer, 1 January 1853, 7, confirming Pratt’s letter to Young, noted that in the nation’s capital, “One of the twelve Apostles of the church of the ‘Latter-day Saints,’ is preaching thrice on Sunday and once on Wednesday evening of each week, at Temperance Hall, on the subject of Mormonism. . . . There appears no disposition to deny the polygamistic principles and habits that prevail amongst them.” In addition, the Daily Evening Star, 10 January 1853, 2, noted, “There has heretofore been some doubt as to the practice of polygamy among these Saints, . . . but all doubt is now removed by the explicit declaration of Elder Pratt.”

[20] Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 31 December 1852, BYC.

[21] Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 30 January 1853, BYC.

[22] John M. Bernhisel to Brigham Young, 5 February 1853, BYC.

[23] “Stand from Under,” Daily Evening Star, 2 February 1853, 4.

[24] “Mormon Matrimony,” Daily Union, 23 January 1853, 2.

[25] Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 4 March 1853, BYC.

[26] John M. Bernhisel to Brigham Young, 30 May 1853, BYC.

[27] Brigham Young to Orson Pratt, 1 June 1853, BYC.

[28] John M. Bernhisel, 19 June 1853, box 4, disk 9, images 167–83, Papers of George D. Watt, Church History Library, as cited in Bruce W. Worthen, “Out of the West: John M. Bernhisel, Washington, and the Mormon Frontier” (PhD diss., University of Utah, 2018), 238–39. The author thanks Bruce Worthen for this information.

[29] Brigham Young Discourse, 19 June 1853, box 2, folder 11, CR 100/317, CHL, as cited in Bruce W. Worthen, “Out of the West,” 240–41.

[30] Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 10 September 1853, BYC.

[31] Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 4 November 1853, BYC. See also Gary James Bergera, “The Orson Pratt–Brigham Young Controversies: Conflict within the Quorums, 1853–1868,” Dialogue 13, no. 2 (Summer 1980): 42, who explains that notwithstanding the occasional dissimilar doctrinal opinions between Pratt and Young, “both Orson Pratt and Brigham Young found themselves inextricably united in a common cause—Mormonism and its expansion. Each man, however, pursued this goal from subtly different points of view—which, as a direct consequence, were to produce seemingly different views. Young, as President and Prophet, saw his fundamental responsibilities as overseeing official church doctrine and maintaining unity within the Church as a whole.” For a more detailed treatment of the quorum conflict, see Gary James Bergera, Conflict in the Quorum: Orson Pratt, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002).

[32] Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 4 November 1853, BYC.

[33] Brigham Young to Orson Pratt, 31 January 1854, BYC.

[34] Orson Pratt, “Faith Is the Gift of God,” The Seer 2, no. 2 (February 1854): 209.

[35] Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 14 February 1854, BYC.

[36] Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 14 February 1854, BYC.

[37] Orson Pratt from Baltimore to Brigham Young, 3 April 1853, BYC.

[38] Brigham Young to Orson Pratt, 29 April 1854, BYC.

[39] Orson Pratt, “Preparations for the Second Advent,” The Seer 2, no. 8 (August 1854): 320. These scriptural words are taken from either Isaiah 11:9 or Habakkuk 2:14.

[40] Breck England, The Life and Thought of Orson Pratt (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1985), 217.

[41] Leonard J. Arrington, foreword to England, Life and Thought of Orson Pratt, ix.

[42] “Death of Apostle Orson Pratt,” Deseret Evening News, 3 October 1881, 2, as cited in Flake, Prophets and Apostles, 373. The following day another Salt Lake newspaper article titled “Orson Pratt,” Salt Lake Herald, 4 October 1881, 4, paid tribute to the faithful Apostle: “There is mourning again today from one end of Utah to the other, and in fact wherever there are Mormons who have heard of the death of Orson Pratt. His brave heart has ceased to beat, his noble brain is no longer active, his voice is hushed, and his pure soul has gone. . . . The mourning of this mighty dead is of that character which commands respect.”