Sacred Cow #13 Lincoln Appeared to Wilford Woodruff in the St George Temple

Following is a brief synopsis of many hours of research to date on this topic. It is a “work in progress,” and is by no means a finished product.  It would be reasonable to consider it in a light similar to a “first draft.” Additional progress depends upon new first person “original source” information becoming available for consideration and evaluation. The material must be in its original context and format to assure the completeness of the content.

John Adams spoke of the necessity of dispassionately examining the evidence and following it where it led: “I will enlarge no more on the evidence, but submit it to you, gentlemen — Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  (John Adams, ‘Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,’ December 1770)

George Washington wrote: “There is one straight course, and that is to seek truth and to pursue it steadily.”  (Letter to Edmund Randolph [31 July 1795])

Quoting Marion G. Romney, Ezra Taft Benson said: “It is not enough for us to be sincere in what we support. We must be right!”  (Conference Report, October 1963, p.15-19)

And during His mortal ministry the Savior spoke of the liberating results of obtaining the truth:

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

We MUST seek to know truth, regardless of how it may affect long-cherished notions.  Patrick Henry said: “For my part I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it.” (23 March 1775). It is in this spirit the information and research is being compiled and evaluated. Critical thinking, being willing to de-construct elements of information into piece parts for evaluation, and “connecting the dots” using logic and reason is essential.  Regardless of the frequency, fervency, passion, and emotion with which a story is repeated, the truth is not modified. It is either true or it is not. Truth is truth, and we must seek it and not deny it as it becomes known.  I only seek to know the truth in this matter and all others.

Conclusions based upon research and evaluation to date

Rarely does a presentation begin with conclusions before presenting supporting evidence, but in this case, perhaps the reader will better be able to evaluate the follow-on information, and critically evaluate the evidence and the results that seem apparent to me, but which may be faulty and I need correction.

  1. According to his personal and frequent testimony, the signers of the American Declaration of Independence, along with others he noted that were involved in establishing the foundation of the United States, appeared to Wilford Woodruff and sought to have their temple ordinances performed on their behalf.
  2. The American Presidents, with the exception of the first three (Washington, Adams, and Jefferson), did NOT appear to Wilford Woodruff and request their temple work be done, but their work was done based upon their eminent and well-documented status. Their identities and lives were well-known and could be verified, just like all names we currently seek to perform temple ordinances for.
  3. The hundreds of other names of eminent (famous) people we have come to associate with this event did NOT appear to Wilford Woodruff and request their temple work be done, but their work was done based upon their eminent and well-documented status. Their identities and lives were well-known and could be verified, just like all names we currently seek to perform temple ordinances for.
  4. The events associate with this temple work in the St. George Temple perhaps marked a “new beginning” in the work for the dead, in that by his well-publicized actions Wilford Woodruff expanded the horizons of the Saints to look beyond their kindred dead only, and to begin the understanding that this is a universal work which is as expansive as all of God’s family, so ALL may have the ordinances made available to them in their pathway of eternal progression in fulfillment of God’s great work and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all of His children. (See Moses 1:39)

The “Evidence” Examined

Following is a brief synopsis of the material available in regards to these matters. No attempt is made to include and review every strand of possible discussion because of the sheer volume of what has been written about this matter. Also, much of what has been written and spoken is at very best second hand, and/or a re-hash of first person accounts from original sources.

Virtually every account of the appearing of the American Founding Fathers to Wilford Woodruff recount Wilford Woodruff’s telling of the event in general conference in 1877 and 1898.

Those general conference accounts must be considered well-documented first person accounts, and “original sources.” Following are those two accounts, along with other statements which are not generally available for examination:

On September 16, 1877, President Woodruff reported the following in general conference:

“We have labored in the St. George Temple since January, and we have done all we could there; and the Lord has stirred up our minds, and many things have been revealed to us concerning the dead. President Young has said to us, and it is verily so, if the dead could they would speak in language loud as ten thousand thunders, calling upon the servants of God to rise up and build Temples, magnify their calling and redeem their dead. This doubtless sounds strange to those present who believe not the faith and doctrine of the Latter-day Saints; but when we get to the spirit world we will find out that all that God has revealed is true. We will find, too, that everything there is reality, and that God has a body, parts and passions, and the erroneous ideas that exist now with regard to him will have passed away. I feel to say little else to the Latter-day Saints wherever and whenever I have the opportunity of speaking to them, than to call upon them to build these Temples now under way, to hurry them up to completion. The dead will be after you, they will seek after you as they have after us in St. George. They called upon us, knowing that we held the keys and power to redeem them.

“I will here say, before closing, that two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they: “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights. I thought it very singular that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them. The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose, that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends and relatives. I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McAllister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others; I then baptized him for every President of the United States except three; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them.(Journal of Discourses vol. 19, p. 229.)

SNB notes:

  1. The men who appeared “laid the foundation of the government”.
  2. Woodruff specifically states: “These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence”.
  3. Woodruff specifically states: “I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McAllister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others”.
  4. Woodruff specifically states that he then baptized Brother McAllister “for every President of the United States except three; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them.” Since they are noted separately, and (in a real sense, because Woodruff was not baptized on their behalf) it could be inferred that the Presidents of the United States were not part of the “fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all,
  5. Other sources, that claim to have documented the facts from Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, name the excluded former U. S. Presidents for which their work was not done as: Martin Van Buren (to whom Joseph Smith importuned in vain on behalf of the beleaguered Saints in Missouri), James Buchanan (who sent the army to besiege the Saints in Utah as part of the ill- conceived “Utah War”), and Ulysses Grant (who was still living at the time, and obviously would not have had his “work for the dead” done while he was still living). (See references noted below from Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, which are not personally verified because I have no access to them)
  6. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the only presidents of the United States who “laid the foundation of the government” as signers of the Declaration of Independence.
  7. Specific mention is made of George Washington in Woodruff’s April 1898 general conference address (see below). Washington, also, must be considered instrumental as one who “laid the foundation of the government”.
  8. Woodruff makes mention by name of others who appeared who did not participate in the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but could be considered (because of their foundational efforts) to have been among those who “laid the foundation of the government”.
  9. At no time in this address, or the 1898 address, does Woodruff specifically state that any of the other U. S. Presidents appeared at that time and requested that their work be done.
  10. From other sources that claim to have documented the facts from Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, we learn that temple ordinances were not performed at this time for two signers of the Declaration of Independence (John Hancock of Massachusetts and William Floyd of New York) because their work was previously done. (See references noted below from Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, which are not personally verified because I have no access to them)]

Statements which purport to be quotations from Wilford Woodruff’s Journal

Aug. 21, 1877. I, Wilford Woodruff, went to the Temple of the Lord this morning and was baptized for 100 persons who were dead including the signers of the Declaration of Independence except John Hancock and William Floyd.  [SNB footnote: John Hancock had already been baptized 29 May 1877; and endowed 30 May 1877 by Levi Ward Hancock his 3rd cousin] I was baptized for the following named: (names follow)

Bro. McAllister…was baptized by me for all the Presidents of the United States that were not on my list [SNB assumption: If his statement about a “list” referrers those for whom he was baptized, it would refer to Washington, Adams, and Jefferson who were on Woodruff’s list due to the fact that they were in the vision he spoke of, and “laid the foundation of the government”, and became the first three presidents of the United States], except Buchanan, Van Buren and Grant.  It was a very interesting day. I felt thankful that we had the privilege and the power to administer for the worthy dead, especially for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, that inasmuch as they had laid the foundation of our government that we could do as much for them as they had done for us. [Reportedly copied from Wilford Woodruff’s journal, Church Historian’s Office]

Statements which purports to be a quotation from James G. Bleak’s Journal (Clerk to Brigham Young — mentioned in Wilford Woodruff’s 1898 general conference address, below).

Reference is found in “The Other Eminent Men of Wilford Woodruff,” Second Edition, revised 2000, Vicki Jo Anderson, page 420.

“I was also present in the St. George Temple and witnessed the appearance of the spirits of the Signers. . . . the spirits of the Presidents . . . . And also others, such as Martin Luther and John Wesley . . . . Who came to Wilford Woodruff and demanded that their baptism and endowments be done.  Wilford Woodruff was baptized for all of them.  While I and Brothers J.D.T. McAllister and David H. Cannon (who were witnesses to the request) were endowed for them.  These men . . . . laid the foundation of this American Gov., and signed the Declaration of Independence and were the best spirits the God of Heaven could find on the face of the earth to perform this work.  Martin Luther and John Wesley helped to release the people from religious bondage that held them during the dark ages.  They also prepared the peoples hearts so they would be ready to receive the restored gospel when the Lord sent it again to men on the earth.”  (Personal Journal of James Godson Bleak-Chief Recorder of the St. George Temple)

[SNB Notes:

 

  1. In the MANY secondary sources I have examined in this matter, it is interesting to note the abundant use of ellipsis (. . . or . . . .) in the documents that are not generally available for public review. Ellipsis indicate missing information that was left out of the record we are offered — the fact that the entire statement is not given, and that conclusions, or inferences, may have been drawn which may or may not have been clearly stated had the missing information been available to read in context.

In his 1828 American Dictionary, Noah Webster defines Ellipsis:  In grammar, defect; omission; a figure of syntax, by which one or more words are omitted, which the hearer or reader may supply.

In modern usage ellipsis are used when omitting a word, phrase, line, paragraph, or more from a quoted passage.

  1. This quotation notes again “the appearance of the spirits of the Signers”.
  2. This quotation isolates “the spirits of the Presidents” with ellipsis, and does not specifically state that they appeared to Wilford Woodruff. The lack of specificity gives way to only inference.
  3. This reference states that “Wilford Woodruff was baptized for all of them”. In his 1877 conference address Wilford Woodruff stated that he “called upon Brother McAllister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all”.  In the 1877 address, of Brother McAllister Woodruff then states “I then baptized him for every President of the United States except three; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them.
  4. In every complete first person original source, Wilford Woodruff is noted as being baptized for the Declaration signers, which he definitely states appeared to him, and the American presidents are differentiated and separated, including someone else being baptized on their behalf.
  5. Bleak’s Journal entry as we have it also goes back to the Declaration signers and his statement absolutely precludes the American Presidents in his message because the events of the founding of the United States happened out of their time: “These men . . . . laid the foundation of this American Gov., and signed the Declaration of Independence and were the best spirits the God of Heaven could find on the face of the earth to perform this work.

Wilford Woodruff, in general conference, on April 10, 1898:

“I am going to bear my testimony to this assembly, if I never do it again in my life, that those men who laid the foundation of this American Government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of Heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. George Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord. Another thing I am going to say here, because I have a right to say it. Every one of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence with General Washington called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the house of God for them. Men are here, I believe, that know of this—Brothers J. D. T. McAllister, David H. Cannon and James C. Bleak. Brother McAllister baptized me for all these men, and I then told these brethren that it was their duty to go into the Temple and labor until they got endowments for all of them. They did it. Would those spirits have called upon me, as an Elder in Israel, to perform that work if they had not been noble spirits before God? They would not. I bear this testimony because it is true. The spirit of God bore record to myself and the brethren while we were laboring in that way. (Conference Address 10 April 1898 pgs. 89-90)

[SNB Notes:

  1. Woodruff spoke again of “those men who laid the foundation of this American Government and signed the Declaration of Independence”.
  2. Specific mention is made of George Washington (“George Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord.”), and the others that were engaged in that foundational work are mentioned.
  3. He informs us specifically who came to him and required that their ordinances be performed: “Every one of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence with General Washington called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the house of God for them.
  4. He documents who baptized him on behalf of these men: “Brother McAllister baptized me for all these men”. He tells us that he required that all of the other saving temple ordinances be performed on their behalf.
  5. He note that these men were “noble spirits before God”.
  6. Beyond the signers of the Declaration of Independence and George Washington he mentions no other visitors in this address. No other presidents of the United States are specifically mentioned.]

Other interesting information

Contemporary to these events in 1877, there were two books in print that may play into the work that was being done in the St. George Temple.  They track in an uncanny manner with the other names for which work was done at the time.  The people in the books were eminent individuals in history — poets, artists, writers, actors, soldiers, monarchs, leaders, statesmen, adventurers, scientists, etc.  Even the titles of the books convey the possibility that they played into the events, and were even possibly used as source material for the temple ordinances.

  1. Could it be that these other eminent individuals DID NOT appear in the temple and request that their work be done for them?

 

  1. Could it be that Wilford Woodruff simply copied their names from the books and requested that the work be done for these eminent well-documented individuals?

 

  1. Could it be that Wilford Woodruff was inspired to take action that would spur the Saints to look beyond their kindred dead, and seek out any and all of God’s children, for this great work is for all of God’s family?

Indeed, God’s great work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind (See Moses 1:39).  It is all encompassing, and the individuals named in these book were well documented — they lived — and it could be proved.  They needed the work to be done for them — as do all of God’s children, ultimately.

Perhaps Wilford Woodruff’s efforts in the St. George Temple at this time opened a new (expanded) chapter in temple work!

Books: Two Volume Series:

Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women of Europe and America; Embracing History, Statesmanship, Naval and Military Life, Philosophy, the Drama, Science, Literature and Art with Biographies  by Chambers, R., ed.; Robert Chambers, New York: Johnson, Fry and Co. / Henry J. Johnson, 1873. Two volumes–vol. 1 published by Johnson, Fry and Co. in 1872, vol. 2 published by Henry J. Johnson in 1873.

 

 

4 thoughts on “Sacred Cow #13 Lincoln Appeared to Wilford Woodruff in the St George Temple”

    1. Speculation. However, we know Lincoln did not appear and we know contemporary prophets saw Lincoln as a wicked man likely involved in the assassination of the prophet

      1. I never heard thus before about Lincoln. DO you have suggestions as to where I could read and learn about this? It’s not that I doubt what you are saying but rather I would really love to learn more about this. thank you in advance

        1. It’d be great to check out the sources given in the slides as well as check out “The Real Lincoln” by Thomas DeLorenzo.

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