Wilford Woodruff in 1889
|4th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints|
|April 7, 1889– September 2, 1898|
|President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles|
|October 10, 1880– April 7, 1889|
|End reason||Became President of the Church|
|Quorum of the Twelve Apostles|
|April 26, 1839– April 7, 1889|
|Called by||Joseph Smith|
|End reason||Became President of the Church|
|April 26, 1839– September 2, 1898|
|Called by||Joseph Smith|
|Reason||Replenishing Quorum of the Twelve|
at end of term
|Rudger Clawson ordained|
|Born||March 1, 1807|
Farmington, Connecticut, United States
|Died||September 2, 1898 (aged 91)|
San Francisco, California, United States
|Resting place||Salt Lake City Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Phoebe Whittemore Carter|
Mary Ann Jackson
Sarah Elinor Brown
Mary Caroline Barton
Mary Meeks Giles
Sarah Delight Stocking
Eudora Young Dunford
|Parents||Aphek and Beulah Woodruff|
Wilford Woodruff Sr. (March 1, 1807 – September 2, 1898) was an American religious leader who served as the fourth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1889 until his death. Woodruff's large collection of diaries provides an important record of Latter Day Saint history, and his decision to formally end the practice of plural marriage among the members of the LDS Church in 1890 brought to a close one of the most controversial periods of church history.
Woodruff was known as a conservative religious man, but was also enthusiastically involved in the social and economic life of his community, he was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying fishing and hunting. Woodruff learned to fly fish in England, and his 1847 journal account of his fishing in the East Fork River is the earliest known account of fly fishing west of the Mississippi River; as an adult, Woodruff was a farmer, horticulturist and stockman by trade and wrote extensively for church periodicals.
- 1 Early years and conversion
- 2 Zion's camp and mission
- 3 Marriage and family
- 4 Farmer
- 5 Political offices
- 6 Missionary work and work as an apostle
- 7 President of the Church
- 8 Diarist and historian
- 9 Millennialist beliefs and apocalyptic prophecies
- 10 Historical summary
- 11 Works
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 Citations
- 15 References
- 16 Further reading
- 17 External links
Early years and conversion
Woodruff was one of four sons born to Bulah Thompson and Aphek Woodruff. Bulah died of "spotted fever" in 1808 at the age of 26, when Wilford was fifteen months old. Aphek married Azubah Hart in 1809. In 1826, Aphek lost his mill and moved from Northington to Farmington, Connecticut. Woodruff attended school until he was 18 years old, which was unusual at the time, he survived having typhus and numerous accidents. At age twenty, Woodruff left home to manage a flour mill for his aunt, and after three years, operated mills for other people until moving to Richland, New York with his brother Azmon in 1832. During his time as a mill operator, he studied religion and became interested in Restorationism. Woodruff joined the Latter Day Saint church on December 31, 1833, he was impressed with how the missionaries preached the gospel "without money and without price" and how they could heal the sick.
Zion's camp and mission
Woodruff left his home in Richland after members recruited him to join Zion's Camp in April 1834, he met prominent church leaders, including Joseph Smith, in Kirtland, Ohio before leaving with Zion's Camp for Missouri in May. When Zion's Camp left Missouri, Woodruff stayed to help members in Clay County, Missouri, he was ordained as a priest in 1834 and volunteered to serve a mission. After donating all his belongings to the church, Woodruff left Kirtland on January 12, 1835, preaching without "purse or scrip" in Arkansas and Tennessee. Woodruff's original companion was Harry Brown, who later left Woodruff to return to his family in Kirtland. Most of the mission, Woodruff preached in small towns and villages in western Kentucky and Tennessee and supported new members there. Warren Parrish ordained Woodruff as an elder in June 1835, and Woodruff heard in February 1836 that Joseph Smith had called him as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
Woodruff was dedicated to the Latter Day Saint church, which distanced him from his family, who did not believe in the church, he returned to Kirkland in November 1836, where he studied Latin and Greek grammar at the Kirtland School, a school for adult education which met in the attic of the Kirtland temple. In January 1837, Joseph Smith called Woodruff to join the First Quorum of the Seventy. Three months later, over a period of five days, he participated in washing and anointings in the Kirtland temple, accompanied by prolonged fasting and prayer and Charismatic experiences such as speaking in tongues and prophecy.
Marriage and family
Like many early Latter Day Saints, Woodruff practiced plural marriage, he was probably married to nine women, but not at the same time. Woodruff's first wife, Phebe, initially stated that she thought it was "the most wicked thing I ever heard of," but eventually accepted it.
- Phoebe Whittemore Carter (8 March 1807 – 10 Nov 1885), m. April 13, 1837
- Mary Ann Jackson, (18 Feb 1818 – 25 Oct 1894) m. April 15, 1846 or August 2, 1846 (later divorced)
- Sarah Elinor Brown, (22 Aug 1827 - 25 Dec 1915) m. Aug 2, 1846 (divorced after 3 weeks)
- Mary Caroline Barton, (12 Jan 1829 - 10 Aug 1910) m. Aug 2, 1846 (divorced after 3 weeks)[nb 1]
- Mary Meek Giles Webster (6 Sept 1802 – 3 Oct 1852) m. March 28, 1852 (died soon after sealing)
- Emma Smith (1 March 1838 – 4 March 1912) m. March 13, 1853
- Sarah Brown (1 Jan 1834 – 9 May 1909), m. March 13, 1853
- Sarah Delight Stocking (26 Jul 1838 – 28 May 1906) m. July 31, 1857
- Eudora Young Dunford (12 May 1852 – 21 Oct 1921) m. March 10, 1877 (later divorced)
Woodruff's wives bore him a total of 34 children, with 14 preceding him in death.
Woodruff met his first wife, Phebe Carter, in Kirtland shortly after his return from his first mission through Southern Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky. Woodruff came to Kirtland on November 25, 1836, along with Abraham O. Smoot. He was introduced to Phoebe by Milton Holmes on January 28, 1837, she was a native of Maine and had become a Latter Day Saint in 1834. Woodruff and Phebe were married on April 13, 1837, with the ceremony performed by Frederick G. Williams. Their marriage was later sealed in Nauvoo by Hyrum Smith. Due to a loss of records, this ordinance was later repeated by Heber C. Kimball in Salt Lake City in 1853. Phebe accompanied her husband on his 1837-1838 mission to the Fox Islands in Maine. During some of this time she resided with her parents in their house in Maine, she headed west again with her husband shortly after the birth of their daughter, despite her reluctance to leave home.
During their journey west, Pebe became deathly ill, she frequently slipped into unconsciousness starting on December 2, 1838. Phebe reported that she conversed with two angels who gave her the choice to live or die, she chose to live and persevere with the faithful, she recovered after receiving a blessing from Woodruff. Her firstborn child died of a respiratory infection in 1840 while Woodruff was on a mission in England. Phoebe was among the members of the Relief Society in Nauvoo. In the late 1840s, Phoebe was set apart as a missionary and served with Woodruff as he presided over the Eastern States Mission. Phoebe was later numbered among the "leading ladies" who helped organize the Relief Society in Utah Territory in the 1860s through the 1880s.
Woodruff's second marriage to Mary Ann Jackson ended in divorce after their son James was born in 1847, a little over a year after their sealing. Woodruff's third and fourth marriages ended in divorce only three weeks after their sealing after the two young women started dating men their own age. In 1852, Woodruff married Mary Giles Meeks Webster. In 1853, he was sealed to two more women, Emma Smith, age 15, and Sarah Brown, age 19. Sarah bore a son the following year, but Emma did not bear any children until she was 19. Emma's first child died at age 13 months, and her fourth child, born in 1867, died soon after birth. In 1857, Brigham Young sealed Sarah Delight Stocking to Woodruff. Delight's third child died as an infant in 1869. While Woodruff and Mary Ann Jackson were divorced, he sent money to her to support her and their son James. James came to live with Woodruff as a young man in 1863. Among Woodruff's children was the LDS Church apostle Abraham O. Woodruff. Woodruff's daughter, Phoebe, was sealed as a wife to Lorenzo Snow in 1859.
During Woodruff's time as president of the LDS Church, his wife, Emma Smith Woodruff, accompanied him to public functions, and she was the only wife he lived with after Phoebe's death in 1885, she was a niece of Abraham O. Smoot. Although she married Woodruff, then age 46, when she was 15, she did not have the first of her eight children until she was 20. Emma was involved in the Relief Society, serving as both a ward and stake president for that organization, she also served as a member of the Relief Society General Board from 1892 to 1910.
Woodruff operated a farm and orchards in Salt Lake City, he also had extensive livestock herds. On multiple occasions, his products won prizes at the Utah Territorial Fair. Woodruff served for 14 years as head of the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society. In 1855 he became president of the Utah Territorial Horticultural Society.
Woodruff served multiple terms in the Utah territorial legislature, he was a member of the legislative house from its formation in 1851 until 1854, and then served in the legislative council from 1854 until 1876. Woodruff promoted public schools and noted attendance statistics when he traveled to southern Utah.
Woodruff served as a member of the 1862 Utah Constitutional Convention and as a member of the committee that drafted the appeal to the U.S. Congress to approve the constitution and grant statehood for Utah; this attempt to join the Union failed.
Missionary work and work as an apostle
Mission in the east and England; ordination as apostle
On May 30, 1837, a month after his marriage to Phoebe, Woodruff left Kirtland along with Jonathan Hale and Milton Holmes to serve a mission in New England. According to their accounts, the main places they preached were The Fox Islands, Litchfield County, Connecticut and York County, Maine. Phoebe joined Wilford in Farmington, Connecticut on July 16, where he baptized some of his relatives. Although Phoebe did not accompany him on all of his journeys over the next year and a half, she stayed at various locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine, locations that he to some extent made his base of operations. Woodruff baptized over 100 people during this mission. In 1838, Woodruff led a party of fifty-three members in wagons from the Maine coast to Nauvoo, Illinois; some of the party wintered in Rochester, Illinois after hearing about the growing persecution of members in Missouri. They moved to Quincy, Illinois in April 1839.
In July 1838, Joseph Smith called Woodruff to became a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, he was ordained at Far West, Missouri in April 1839 where the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve had traveled. He suffered from malaria in Commerce, Missouri during the July epidemic. In 1839 he and John Taylor were the first two of the apostles to leave from the Nauvoo/Montrose area to go on missions to Britain, he spent over a month in the Staffordshire Potteries and then travelled to Herefordshire, where he preached to members of the United Bretheren. Almost all of the members of the United Bretheren converted to Mormonism. Outside of London, the missionary work in England was very successful, and by August 1840 there were around 800 members, with local members acting as leadership and proselyting missionaries. Preaching in London was difficult, and Woodruff had dreams about serpents attacking him before he and his companions were able to baptize forty-nine people. Membership in England did not stay there, since many converts left to join the other members in the United States; when he left England in April 1841, 140 members joined him in journeying to New York. Woodruff met Phebe in Maine, and they traveled to Nauvoo together in October 1841.
Nauvoo and Winter Quarters
In Nauvoo, the Twelve Apostles assigned Woodruff to assist with the church's temporal matters in Nauvoo, he became co-manager of Times and Seasons in February 1842. Woodruff supervised the physical printing of the paper, and he and John Taylor also published a general interest newspaper called Nauvoo Neighbor starting in May 1843, he bought and sold real estate, helped clerk in a provision store, and farmed. He became a member of the Nauvoo city council and served as chaplain for the Nauvoo Legion, a local militia, he also helped to organize the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge and the Nauvoo Agricultural and Manufacturing Society. As a member of the Twelve Apostles, he was also a member of the Council of Fifty, he took detailed notes on the King Follett discourse. He joined the other Twelve Apostles in a trip to the east coast to raise funds for a temple and hotel under construction in Nauvoo, setting out in July 1843 and returning in November 1843. Woodruff and his wife Phebe received their second anointing in Nauvoo in 1844, making them members of the Anointed Quorum. In May 1844, Woodruff left on another trip to preach and promote Joseph Smith's presidential campaign. News of Joseph Smith's death reached Woodruff on July 9, and fellow apostles returned to Nauvoo in August.
The Twelve Apostles called Woodruff and Phebe to serve in England together, they left Nauvoo in August 1844, leaving their eldest child with a family in Nauvoo. The left their 3-year-old with Phebe's parents in Maine, bringing their one-year-old with them to England. Woodruff worked to square the mission account books and visited wards and branches throughout the United Kingdom, establishing the authority of the Twelve Apostles after Joseph Smith's death. Members in England tried to form a joint stock company trading with Nauvoo in cotton, wool, and iron; the company failed because of unrest in Nauvoo and problems in management. After hearing that members had been driven out of Nauvoo, the Woodruffs left England in January 1846. Woodruff picked up their daughter and brought some of his relatives with him to Nauvoo, but Woodruff's relatives decided to join James Strang's followers rather than move west.
Before leaving Nauvoo, Woodruff and Orson Hyde dedicated the temple on April 30, 1846. Woodruff oversaw forty families, and they stayed at Winter Quarters. Many people got sick in Winter Quarters, and Woodruff's 16-month-old son Joseph died of a respiratory infection on November 12, 1846. Phebe's friend from England, Jane Benbow, also died, and Phebe went into labor 6 weeks early, giving birth to a son who died two days after birth. Woodruff joined an advance company that left in April 1847 to find a place to settle, leaving his family in Winter Quarters. Woodruff suffered various ailments, as did most of the other migrants, they arrived in Salt Lake Valley on July 24th and immediately planted crops. Woodruff returned to Winter Quarters that October 31; Phebe was there and had given birth three days earlier to a daughter named Shuah; the Twelve assigned Woodruff to preside over the Eastern States Mission, centered in Boston. Phebe was specially blessed to teach and be a mother in Israel, and they left Winter Quarters in June 1848. Shuah died, probably of dysentery, on July 22 during the journey east. Phebe went with the children to visit her father in Maine while Woodruff organized church work on the East coast, he organized branches, preached, and resolved conflicts. in 1849, Phebe's father and a sister joined the church in 1849. Woodruff led 200 members in travelling west starting in February 1850, they arrived in Nebraska in May 1850, where the price of oxen and their drivers was steep. The trail was heavily grazed by other travellers, leaving little food for their oxen, and half died. Woodruff sent word to Brigham Young that his party needed oxen, and a party from Salt Lake City arrived on October 8th. Woodruff's group arrived in the valley on October 15.
Woodruff initially focused on building cabins, farming, and grazing his cattle, he experimented with different varieties of wheat. He sold goods from outside of Utah in a retail store, his efforts were not successful, and he focused on farming and herding in 1856. In 1852, Woodruff began serving as church historian. Phebe gave birth to Bulah in 1851, and to a son who died shortly after birth in 1853. Wilford adopted an orphaned Paiute boy named Moroni Bosnel in 1855, he also purchased a 6-year-old Paiute boy; it is unclear if the boy was part of the household as a slave or a son. An adopted son named Saroquetes helped Wilford Jr. manage day-to-day ranching duties in the 1850s and 1860s.
Woodruff was also on the Board of Regents of the University of Deseret, where he chaired a committee to prepare spelling books in the Deseret Alphabet. Woodruff spent some time in 1854 educating his own children at home before public schools were established, he was president of a society for a lecture and discussion group called the Universal Scientific Society, founded in February 1855 and disbanded in November 1855. He also attended meetings of the Polysophical Society, a literary group including Lorenzo and Eliza Snow; the society stopped meeting after the Mormon Reformation in 1856. Woodruff was president of the Deseret Horticultural Society, founded in September 1855, which sought to find the most productive trees and bushes. By his own report, he had cultivated over 70 kinds of apples via importing and grafting, along with apricots, peaches, grapes, and currants in 1857. Woodruff led the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society 1862–1877; the organization encouraged experimentation and shared knowledge about what plants would grow well in the territory. The Utah Territorial Legislature chartered it in 1856.
Woodruff sometimes led ceremonies in the Endowment House after it was built in 1855, officiating every Saturday in sealings and endowments 1867–1868, he served a "home mission" to reactivate lapsed members and call them to repentance, preaching for a renewed commitment to their religion throughout the Mormon Reformation. During the time of the Utah War, he moved his family south to Provo in April 1858; they moved back to Salt Lake City in July. During this time there were no public worship services in Salt Lake City, and Woodruff and the other members of the Twelve Apostles organized groups of priesthood holders that met regularly to pray and preach to one another. Woodruff's wife Sara lived and taught school in Fort Harriman in 1960; she returned to Salt Lake City by 1965. Delight moved to Fort Harriman in 1862 and her parents also lived there. In 1866, Emma moved to a house on Woodruff's farm just outside Salt Lake City. In 1868 Woodruff was elected to be part of the city council in Provo; his wife Delight moved to Provo to facilitate his work there.
Woodruff was the founding director of Zion's Cooperative Savings Bank in August 1871, he wa also on the board of directors for ZCMI. When Brigham Young set up United Order communities in 1874, Woodruff helped organize United Orders in Provo, Pleasant Grove, American Fork, and Lehi, but did not enroll in the communalist program himself. Most United Order programs stopped functioning after a few months. Woodruff started keeping bees in 1870, and founded a society for bee-keepers in Utah territory that year, he and Phebe moved to a smaller house in 1871, since their children were no longer living at home. Woodruff's other wives still continued to bear children and needed larger places to live. Woodruff's wife Sarah and his son's family moved to Randolph, Utah in 1871, and he built a house for Sarah in 1872. Woodruff bought new mowers and rakes, which he used in both his Randolph farm and his Salt Lake City farm in 1873, he built a house for Delight in 1876 in Salt Lake City. He helped his older sons, Wilford Jr. and David Patten, with their own farming businesses. Phebe was still Woodruff's most visible wife, appearing with him in public.
St. George Temple President
Beginning in 1877, Woodruff was the first president of the St. George Temple. This was the first temple in which the endowment ordinances were performed for the dead as well as for the living. Under the direction of Brigham Young, Woodruff was key in implementing endowments for the dead in the temple, in standardizing the ceremonies, and in giving various sermons to encourage broader understanding of the program. Woodruff's main aide in this endeavor was John D. T. McAllister, who served as first counselor in the temple presidency and later succeeded Woodruff as temple president in 1884.
Woodruff spent his 70th birthday working in the temple in 1877. One-hundred and fifty-four women from St. George performed temple ordinances vicariously for women who "had previously been sealed to [Woodruff] vicariously" and those who were related to him, Thompson, or the Hart families. Woodruff accepted Brigham Young's daughter Eudora as a plural wife; their union produced a son who died shortly after birth and Eudora divorced Woodruff, probably in 1879. Woodruff, Phebe, and their living children (except for Susan) met and performed more temple work, and at this time Woodruff adopted various relatives to himself in the temple, he also sealed five single women to his recently deceased son Brigham. He was baptized on behalf of the signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and other Founding Fathers. He stated in a September 16, 1877, discourse that he had been visited by the departed spirits of these men. Many of the proxy baptisms for the Founding Fathers had been done previously in Nauvoo and in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City but the proxy endowments for these men were first done in the St. George Temple. Woodruff also compiled lists of notable men and women, for whom he performed vicarious temple work with the help of Lucy Bigelow Young.
After Brigham Young's death in August 1877, John Taylor became the new president of the church and Woodruff became president of the Twelve Apostles. Woodruff chaired the committee to separate Brigham Young's personal property from church property, finding that Brigham Young owed the church almost $700,000 in real-estate and other expenses. In 1879, George Reynolds was convicted of polygamy in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Utah's U.S. marshal started looking for Woodruff, and Woodruff fled to Bunkerville, Nevada, and northern Arizona and New Mexico. A new supreme court ruling required the federal government to provide positive evidence of polygamy before convicting the husband, and Woodruff could appear in public again until the 1882 when the Edmunds Act was passed; the Edmunds Act outlawed unlawful cohabitation, which was easier to prove than polygamy, and church leadership advised men in polygamous marriages to live in one house with one wife. Prosecution of polygamous men began in earnest in 1884, and Woodruff went into hiding in St. George during 1885, he was able to visit Phebe before her death on November 9, 1885, but fearing arrest, did not attend her funeral, instead watching it from the president's office. After Phebe's death, he lived at Emma's house or with friends.
President of the Church
After the death of John Taylor in July 1887, Woodruff assumed leadership of the church as the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Woodruff wanted to reorganize the First Presidency right away, continuing with George Q. Cannon as First Counselor. Other members of the Quorum took this opportunity to raise grievances against Canon, stating that he had defended his son John Q. too vigorously during his excommunication, to the point of hiding his crimes. The Twelve Apostles with Woodruff as its president presided over the church until the Quorum came to an agreement in April 1889. After George Cannon apologized to the Quorum, they approved his appointment as first counselor. In 1887, the new U.S. marshal, Frank H. Dyer, told Woodruff he would not arrest him, and Woodruff could make public appearances again in Salt Lake City. Outside of Salt Lake City, deputy marshals vigorously hunted down suspected polygamists, being paid more with more convicts. In an effort to appear attractive to the federal government for statehood, Woodruff counseled local press not to excessively criticize the federal government, and asked missionaries in the southeastern United States to soften their approach to decrease complaints from local ministers, he also asked leaders to stop preaching the practice of plural marriage. On behalf of the church, Woodruff courted the favor of businessman Alexander Badlam Jr. and prominent Republican Isaac Trumbo. The two men moved to Arlington, Virginia, under false names, seeking to persuade Republican congressmen to support Utah's bid for statehood in 1888. After Utah was denied statehood, Woodruff personally traveled to California in 1889 to speak with politicians.
During Woodruff's tenure, the church faced a number of legal battles with the United States; the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862 made it illegal for religious entities to own property worth more than $50,000 in any territory, and the Edmunds–Tucker Act of 1887 put forth the procedure for confiscating Church property. Marshal Dyer became the federally-appointed receiver of church property, and he confiscated the temple block, the Gardo House, and other offices; the Church paid to rent the properties back from him. Church leadership discouraged new polygamous marriages in Utah. Late in 1889, federal judges stopped approving Naturalized citizenship for Mormon immigrant residents in Utah Territory. Judges cited a disdain for federal law, pointing to doctrines such as blood atonement and temple vows as reported from former members to avenge the government for Joseph Smith's death. Other former members testified that an oath against the federal government was not part of the endowment ceremony. Another $3 million in Church assets were confiscated in 1887. Judge Anderson ruled against the naturalization of Mormon residents. In response, Charles Penrose wrote a manifesto, signed by the First Presidency and the Twelve, in December 1889; this manifesto denied that the church had any right to overrule any civil court, denied the doctrine of blood atonement, asserted their right to criticize government officials, and the right of all Christians to believe that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Historian Thomas Alexander stated that both the judge's interpretation of church history and the manifesto were "a selective reading" of church history.
The Edmunds-Tucker Act also took away the right to vote from practicing polygamists and all women in Utah. Combined with the influx of non-Mormons, the Church could no longer control political offices in Utah Territory, and the members of the Liberal Party achieved a majority over the People's Party in 1890. In June 1890, the First Presidency told church officials that leaders were no longer allowed to perform plural marriages in the United States. Henry W. Lawrence replaced Marshal Dyer and threatened to confiscate the temples in Logan, Manti, and St. George, as they were not used for public worship. Woodruff issued the 1890 Manifesto which officially ended the church's support of plural marriage. After the manifesto was issued, judge Charles S. Zane stated that no further church property would be confiscated. Woodruff further clarified in hearings about confiscated church property that men with plural wives should "cease associating with them," though Joseph F. Smith an Lorenzo Snow did not make such strong statements; when the first presidency suggested issuing another manifesto to tell polygamous men from associating with plural wives, Woodruff said that a man who neglected his wives and children could face church discipline. The judge in the hearing decided not to return confiscated property to the church, stating that while the practice of polygamy may have stopped, it was still taught as part of the religion. Lobbyists managed to obtain amnesty for Mormons who did not enter polygamy after November 1890, but polygamists still did not have the right to vote; when Democrats took office in 1893, they restored property to the church and civil rights to members of the church. Historian Thomas Alexander stated in his biography of Woodruff that Woodruff's decision to stop polygamy was a significant transition "from isolation to assimilation, from extremism to respectability."
Some Mormon historians, such as B. H. Roberts, never seemed to come to terms with the manifesto. Despite the Manifesto, some Mormon historians have asserted that Woodruff continued to secretly allow new plural marriages to be performed in Mexico, Canada, and upon the high seas; the church did not fully renounce the practice of plural marriage until Joseph F. Smith's Second Manifesto of 1904.
During his tenure, Woodruff announced a specific policy of sealing individuals only to their direct ancestors, it had been a previous practice to have members sealed to church leaders by adoption. This change was closely connected with Woodruff's founding of the Genealogical Society of Utah.
An economic recession in 1891 followed by another depression in 1893 affected the Church's finances. Bishops used fast offerings as well as tithing to help the poor, and as a result, less money ended up in Church headquarters. From July until December 1893, the Church was unable to pay the salaries of its employees. Woodruff tried to promote economic development with various ventures, including the Utah Sugar Company at Lehi; the company was not successful and created over $300,000 in debt for the Church. The Church also supported local industries like coal and iron mining, the Saltair resort, and the state's first hydroelectric generating facility; the church completed and dedicated the Manti and Salt Lake temples during his tenure. Woodruff also established Bannock Academy in Rexburg, Idaho, which later became Ricks College and Brigham Young University–Idaho.
Woodruff died in San Francisco, California, and was succeeded as church president by his son-in-law, Lorenzo Snow. Woodruff was buried at the Salt Lake City Cemetery. During his life, Woodruff had observed significant growth in the church, and at his death, he was the leader of more than 283,000 adherents.
Diarist and historian
Woodruff's journals are a significant contribution to LDS Church history, he kept a daily record of his life and activities within the LDS Church, beginning with his baptism in 1833. Matthias F. Cowley, editor of his published journals, observed that Woodruff was "perhaps, the best chronicler of events in all the history of the Church." These meticulous records provide insights into not only church doctrines and the daily actions of church leaders, but also into the social and cultural aspects of early Mormonism. Several significant actions and speeches of early church leaders are known only through these diaries.
Some recollections were recorded in his journal years after the events, which have caused some historians to question the complete reliability of certain events, as they were not recorded contemporaneously. However, in his Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, B. H. Roberts wrote:
President Woodruff rendered a most important service to the church, his Journals, regularly and methodically and neatly kept and strongly bound, ...constitute an original documentary historical treasure which is priceless. The church is indebted to these Journals for a reliable record of discourses and sayings of the Prophet of the New Dispensation—Joseph Smith—which but for him would have been lost forever; the same is true as to the discourses and sayings of Brigham Young, and other leading elders of the church; [and] for minutes of important council meetings, decisions, judgments, policies, and many official actions of a private nature, without which the writer of history may not be able to get right viewpoints on many things—in all these respects these Journals of President Woodruff are invaluable.
Woodruff was an Assistant Church Historian from 1856 to 1883 and was the church's eleventh official Church Historian from 1883 to 1889. Woodruff and his assistants compiled and edited historical documents from Joseph Smith's life and Brigham Young's, they also wrote biographies of members of the Council of the Twelve. Edward Tullidge helped Woodruff write his autobiography in 1856.
Millennialist beliefs and apocalyptic prophecies
Throughout his life, Woodruff believed that the Second Coming of Jesus and a cataclysmic end of the world was imminent. On August 22, 1868, Woodruff preached a sermon in which he famously prophesied that New York City would be "destroyed by an earthquake"; Boston would be "swept into the sea, by the sea heaving itself beyond its bounds"; and Albany, New York, would be "destroyed by fire". Speaking afterwards, church president Brigham Young stated that "what Brother Woodruff has said is revelation and will be fulfilled."
In Woodruff's journal entries in the 1880s, "year after year his conviction that the Millennium was imminent intensified." Woodruff's intensifying belief in the 1880s was in part due to the fact that in January 1880, he received a revelation referred to as the "Wilderness Prophecy", which emphasized that the Second Coming was "nigh":
[T]he hour of God's judgement is fully come and shall be poured out without measure upon the wicked ... [P]repare ye for the coming of the Son of man, which is nigh at the door. No man knoweth the day nor the hour; but the signs of both heaven and earth indicate His coming, as promised by the mouths of my disciples; the fig trees are leaving and the hour is nigh.
Upon presenting the revelation to the First Presidency and his fellow apostles, it was accepted as "the word of the Lord." As an apostle, Woodruff frequently declared in sermons that there were many alive in Utah Territory who would "see the son of God come and many would not taste death".
- 1807 - March 1: Wilford Woodruff is born in Farmington, Hartford County, Connecticut, to Beulah Thompson Woodruff and Aphek Woodruff.
- 1808 - June 11: His mother dies at age 26.
- 1821 - Begins work as a miller.
- 1832 - Moves with his brother, Azmon, and Azmon's wife to Richland, Oswego County, New York, where they purchase a farm and mill on Grindstone Creek.
- 1833 - Baptized and confirmed by Zera Pulsipher.
- 1835 - Leaves Missouri for his first full-time mission, preaching and proselytizing in Arkansas and Tennessee.
- 1837 - May 31: Leaves Kirtland, Ohio, to serve a mission in the Fox Islands, off the coast of the state of Maine.
- 1839 - August 8: Leaves for a mission in England.
- 1847 - Participates in Vanguard company's exploration of the Mormon Trail to the Salt Lake Valley.
- 1877 - Presides over the St. George Temple.
- 1887 - Assumes leadership of the church, as the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, upon the death of John Taylor.
- 1889 - Ordained as president of the LDS Church.
- 1890 - October 6: Members of the church attending general conference unanimously sustain the official declaration Woodruff issued regarding plural marriage.
- 1894 - November 13: Oversees the establishment of the Genealogical Society of Utah.
- 1898 - September 2: Dies in San Francisco, California, after a brief illness.
- 2006 - Woodruff's teachings as an apostle were the course of study in the LDS Church's Sunday Relief Society and Melchizedek priesthood classes.
- Woodruff, Wilford (1946). G. Homer Durham (ed.). The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff. Bookcraft, Inc.
- —— (1881). Leaves from My Journal. Juvenile Instructor Office.
- —— (1964) . Matthias F. Cowley (ed.). Wilford Woodruff, Fourth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: History of His Life and Labors as Recorded in His Daily Journals. Deseret News.
- —— (2004). Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LDS Church publication number 36315.
- —— &; Asahel H. Woodruff. Book of Revelations: W Woodruff (handwritten precis of Joseph Smith, Jr.'s, revelations). Church History Library: Unpublished.
- —— (2017). "Discourses (of Joseph Smith) as reported by Wilford Woodruff". In Brenden W. Rensink; Alexander L. Baugh; Elizabeth A. Kuehn; David W. Grua; Mark R. Ashurst-McGee (eds.). Documents (Volume 6). The Joseph Smith Papers. Church Historian's Press.
- There is no written record of Woodruff's sealings to Brown and Barton, but circumstantial evidence suggests it.
- The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had not had twelve members since September 3, 1837, when Luke S. Johnson, John F. Boynton, and Lyman E. Johnson were disfellowshipped and removed from the Quorum. Since that time, William E. McLellin and Thomas B. Marsh had been excommunicated and removed from the Quorum; David W. Patten had been killed; and John Taylor and John E. Page had been added to the Quorum. The ordinations of Woodruff and George A. Smith brought membership in the Quorum of the Twelve to ten members.
- Smith 1994, p. 16
- Wixom, Hartt (2006). Fishing: The Extra Edge. Cedar Fort. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-55517-867-3.
- Alexander 1991, pp. 5–6.
- Alexander 1991, p. 12.
- Alexander 1991, p. 14–16.
- Alexander 1991, p. 21.
- Alexander 1991, pp. 28–29.
- Alexander 1991, p. 32.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 34-37.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 41-42; 47.
- Alexander 1991, p. 48.
- Alexander 1991, p. 50–51.
- Mackley 2014, pp. 79–82; 376.
- Alexander 1991, p. 129.
- Alexander 1991, p. 135.
- Mackley 2014, p. 321 note 284.
- Alexander 1991, p. 167.
- Alexander 1991, pp. 167–168.
- Mackley 2014, p. 376.
- Mackley 2014, pp. 374–375.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 51-52.
- Holzapfel & Holzapfel 1992, p. 96.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 167–168.
- Grow et al. 2018, pp. 328–333.
- Alexander 1993, p. 77.
- Alexander 1993, p. 99.
- Grow et al. 2018, p. 463.
- Relief Society 1966, pp. 30–31.
- Alexander 1993, p. 213.
- Alexander 1993, p. 267.
- Relief Society 1966, p. 52.
- Jesse, Dean (1994). "Woodruff, Wilford". In Powell, Allan Kent (ed.). Utah History Encyclopedia. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press. ISBN 0874804256. OCLC 30473917. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
- Jesse, Dean (1986). "Wilford Woodruff". In Arrington, Arrington (ed.). The President of The Church: Biographical Essays. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book. p. 132. ISBN 0875790267. OCLC 13007772.
- "Territory of Utah Legislative Assembly Rosters: Twenty-First through Thirty-First Sessions", Research Guides, Utah State Archives Research, archives.state.ut.us/research, Utah State Archives, Division of Archives & Records Service, Utah Department of Administrative Services, State of Utah
- Alexander 1993, p. 169.
- Alexander 1993, p. 206.
- Smith, Joseph Fielding (1938). Life of Joseph F. Smith. Salt Lake City: Desert News Press. p. 230. OCLC 5978651.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 55-61.
- Alexander 1993, p. 75; 78.
- Alexander 1993, p. 83.
- Alexander 1993, p. 75.
- Grow et al. 2018, p. 394.
- Alexander 1993, p. 85.
- Grow et al. 2018, p. 404.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 90-93.
- Alexander 1993, p. 95; 97.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 98-99.
- Alexander 1993, p. 102.
- Alexander 1993, p. 103–104.
- Godfrey 1992, p. 327.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 108–109; 111.
- Mackley 2014, pp. 85–86.
- Anderson 2003, p. 154.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 111–114.
- Alexander 1993, p. 118–119.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 121–124.
- Alexander 1993, p. 130.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 134–137.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 139–141.
- Alexander 1993, p. 145.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 149–151.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 156–159.
- Alexander 1993, p. 212.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 162–163.
- Alexander 1993, p. 166.
- Alexander 1993, p. 211.
- Alexander 1993, p. 210.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 169–170.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 172–174.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 207–208.
- Alexander 1993, p. 177; 201.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 181–182.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 196–197.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 199–200.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 211–212.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 210–211.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 220–222.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 223–224.
- Alexander 1993, p. 225.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 229–230.
- Bennett, Richard E. (2010). "Wilford Woodruff and the Rise of Temple Consciousness among the Latter-day Saints, 1877-84". In Baugh, Alexander L.; Black, Susan Easton (eds.). Banner of the Gospel: Wilford Woodruff. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University. ISBN 9780842527767. OCLC 658200536.
- Alexander 1993, p. 230; 404.
- Alexander 1993, p. 231.
- Woodruff, W. (1878) [September 16, 1877]. "Gathering of the Spirits of the Dead". Journal of Discourses. 19. Recorded by G. F. Gibbs. Liverpool, UK: William Budge. p. 229.
- Stuy 2011, pp. 85–87; 93.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 232–233.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 236–237.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 239–240.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 241–242.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 243–244.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 246–247.
- Alexander 1993, p. 248.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 249–252.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 253–256.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 257–258.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 261–263.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 265–266.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 272–274.
- Alexander 1993, p. 287.
- Ostling, Richard N.; Ostling, Joan K. (1999). Mormon America: The Power and the Promise. San Francisco: HarperCollins. p. 83. ISBN 0060663715. OCLC 41380398.
- Cannon II, Kenneth (January – March 1983). "After the Manifesto: Mormon Polygamy, 1890-1906" (PDF). Sunstone: 27–35.
- Quinn 1985, pp. 9–105.
- Hardy 1992.
- Irving 1974, pp. 14–16.
- Alexander 1993, pp. 283–285.
- Cowley, Mathias F. (1909), Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labours, Preface.
- Roberts, Brigham H. (1930), A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:354-355, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Alexander 1993, p. 179.
- Alexander 1993, p. 201.
- Staker 1993.
- Kenney, Scott G. (1984). Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volume 6. Midvale, UT: Signature Books. pp. August 22, 1868.
- Church Educational System (2002). "Section 84: The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood". Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Erickson 1998, p. 189.
- Erickson 1998, p. 190.
- Alexander, Thomas G. (1993). Things in Heaven and Earth: The Life and Times of Wilford Woodruff, a Mormon Prophet. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 1-56085-045-0. OCLC 23968564.
- Alexander, Thomas G. (1986). Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890–1930. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252011856. OCLC 11469720.
- Allen, James B.; Leonard, Glen M. (1976). The Story of the Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. ISBN 0-87747-594-6. OCLC 2493259.
- Anderson, Devery S. (Fall 2003). "The Anointed Quorum in Nauvoo, 1842-45". Journal of Mormon History. 29 (2): 154.
- Erickson, Dan (1998). "As a Thief in the Night": The Mormon Quest for Millennial Deliverance. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 1560851007. OCLC 38856115.
- Godfrey, Kenneth W. (1992), "Council of Fifty", in Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 326–327, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140
- Grow, Matthew J.; Turley, Richard E.; Harper, Steven C.; Hales, Scott A., eds. (2018). The Standard of Truth: 1815–1846. Saints:The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days. 1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Hardy, B. Carmon (1992). Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-01833-8. OCLC 23219530.
- Ludlow, Daniel H., Editor. Church History, Selections from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, UT, 1992. ISBN 0-87579-924-8.
- Holzapfel, Richard N.; Holzapfel, Jeni Broberg (1992). Women of Nauvoo. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft. ISBN 0884948358. OCLC 26799181.
- Irving, Gordon (1974), "The Law of Adoption: One Phase of the Development of the Mormon Concept of Salvation", BYU Studies, 14 (3): 291–314
- Mackley, Jennifer Ann (2014). Wilford Woodruff's Witness: The Development of Temple Doctrine. Seattle, Washington: High Desert Publishing. ISBN 978-0-615-83532-7. OCLC 880976216.
- Nibley, Preston (1974) . The Presidents of the Church (13th, rev. and enl. ed.). Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. ISBN 0-87747-414-1. OCLC 960772.
- Quinn, D. Michael (Spring 1985). "LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 18 (1).
- Staker, Susan, ed. (1993). Waiting for World's End: The Diaries of Wilford Woodruff. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 0941214923. OCLC 25871586.
- Stuy, Brian H. (2011). "Wilford Woodruff's Vision of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence". In Taysom, Stephen C. (ed.). Dimensions of Faith: A Mormon Studies Reader. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. pp. 83–111. ISBN 9781560852124. OCLC 710044985.
- Van Wagoner, Richard S. (1992) . Mormon Polygamy: a History (3rd ed.). Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-79-6. OCLC 25049083.
- History of the Relief Society, 1842-1966. Salt Lake City: Relief Society General Board. 1966. pp. 30–31. OCLC 1549916.
- Baugh, Alexander L.; Black, Susan, eds. (2010). Banner of the Gospel: Wilford Woodruff. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University. ISBN 978-0-8425-2776-7. OCLC 658200536.
- Woodruff, Wilford (1881). Leaves From My Journal. Faith-Promoting Series 3. Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office. OCLC 7381921.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Wilford Woodruff|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wilford Woodruff.|
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:|
- Wilford Woodruff papers, Vault MSS 798 at L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library Brigham Young University
- Wilford Woodruff family letters, MSS 8173 at L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library Brigham Young University. This record is digitized; click on individual items under "Box/folder" to view them.
- Wilford Woodruff biography at the Joseph Smith Papers Project website
- Works by Wilford Woodruff at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Wilford Woodruff in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
|The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles|
| President of the Church
April 7, 1889–September 2, 1898
| President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles |
October 10, 1880–April 7, 1889
| Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 26, 1839–April 7, 1889
George A. Smith
Junius F. Wells
| Superintendent of the
Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association