Abraham Hoagland Cannon

Lawrence R. Flake, Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2001), 415–17.

Abraham Cannon portrait

Born: 12 March 1859, Salt Lake City, Utah

First Council of the Seventy: 8 October 1882

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: 7 October 1889 (age 30)

Died: 19 July 1896 (age 37), Salt Lake City, Utah

Having been convicted of unlawful cohabitation, Abraham Hoagland Cannon, a member of the First Council of Seventy, stood straight and tall before the judge. When asked if he had anything to say before receiving his sentence, Elder Cannon replied, “I acknowledge a higher law than that of man, which is the law of God; and that law being part of my religion, sir, I have attempted to obey it. . . . I hope the day will never come when I must sacrifice principle, even to procure life or liberty. Honor, sir, to me, is higher than anything else upon the earth, and my religion is dearer to me than anything else. . . . I am prepared, sir, for the judgement of the court.” [1] He was subsequently sentenced to serve six months in prison and pay a fine of $300. He was only twenty-six years old at the time.

Abraham’s short but productive life began in 1859 while his father, Elder George Q. Cannon, was absent from Salt Lake City on a mission to the eastern states. At the age of twenty-one, Abraham served as a missionary in England, Germany, and Switzerland. Upon his return to Utah, he was sustained at the age of only twenty-three as a member of the First Council of the Seventy, and seven years later as one of the Twelve Apostles.

He was involved as founder or director of more than a score of companies and enterprises instrumental in the building of Utah. Closely associated with the operation and publication of the Juvenile Instructor and Contributor magazines and with the Deseret News, Brother Cannon wrote many articles, which thousands of readers enjoyed. At one time the Deseret News said of his tireless devotion to his extensive interests: “During the past twenty years he has accomplished much more than many truly active, energetic men have been able to do in double that period of time.” [2]

Elder Cannon’s sudden death at the age of only thirty-seven was a shock to the citizens of Utah and to the Saints everywhere. President Wilford Woodruff loved him deeply and mourned intensely at his death. As a comfort to the prophet and Brother Cannon’s family, the Lord sent President Woodruff a special manifestation revealing that this young man had been called to perform a great mission in the spirit world. President Woodruff recorded: “The spirit of God rested upon me at the close of this manifestation in a powerful manner and bore testimony to me of the truth of the revelation to me concerning Abraham H. Cannon.” [3]


[1] Matthias F. Cowley, Prophets and Patriarchs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Chattanooga, TN: Ben E. Rich, 1902), 289.

[2] Deseret News, 20 July 1896, 4.

[3] Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff, Fourth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1909), 597. See also Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History, 1901), 1:167–68.