Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

William Clayton Journals

May 29, 1847

Summary: A Saturday lecture on the proper behavior of good men.

Journal entry:The morning cold, wet and cloudy with wind from northeast. We shall not travel unless it grows fair and better weather. I spent the morning writing in Elder Kimball's journal, but felt very unwell having taken cold yesterday and been sick all night.

About ten o'clock, the weather looked a little better and at half past ten the bugle sounded as a signal for the teams to be got together. After the teams were harnessed, the brethren were called together to the boat in the circle. President Young taking his station in the boat, ordered each captain of ten to lead out his respective company and get all his men together. He then called on the clerk to call over the names of the camp to see if all were present. Joseph Hancock and Andrew Gibbons were reported to be absent hunting. Brothers Elijah Newman and Nathaniel Fairbanks were confined to their wagons but answered to their names, the remainder all present, President Young then addressed the meeting in substance as follows :

"I remarked last Sunday that I had not felt much like preaching to the brethren on this mission. This morning I feet like preaching a little, and shall take for my text, "That as to pursuing our journey with this company with the spirit they possess, I am about to revolt against it." This is the text I feel like preaching on this morning, consequently I am in no hurry. In the first place, before we left Winter Quarters, it was told to the brethren and many knew it by experience, that we had to leave our homes, our houses, out land and our all because we believed in the Gospel as revealed to the Saints in these last days.

"The rise of the persecutions against the Church was in consequence of the doctrines of eternal truth taught by Joseph. Many knew this by experience. Some lost their husbands, some lost their wives, and some their children through persecution, and yet we have not been disposed to forsake the truth and turn and mingle with the gentiles, except a few who have turned aside and gone away from us, and we have learned in a measure, the difference between a professor of religion and a possessor of religion.

"Before we left Winter Quarters it was told to the brethren that we were going to look out a home for the Saints where they would be free from persecution by the gentiles, where we could dwell in peace and serve God according to the Holy Priesthood, where we could build up the kingdom so that the nations would begin to flock to our standard. I have said many things to the brethren about the strictness of their walk and conduct when we left the gentiles, and told them that we would have to walk upright or the law would be put in force, etc. Many have left and turned aside through fear, but no good upright, honest man will fear.

"The Gospel does not bind a good man down and deprive him of his rights and privileges. It does not prevent him from enjoying the fruits of his labors. It does not rob him of blessings. It does not stop his increase. It does not diminish his kingdom, but it is calculated to enlarge his kingdom as well as to enlarge his heart. It is calculated to give him privileges and power, and honor, and exaltation and everything which his heart can desire in righteousness all the days of his life, and then, when he gets exalted into the eternal world he can still turn around and say it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive the glory and honor and blessings which God hath in store for those that love and serve Him.

"I want the brethren to understand and comprehend the principles of eternal life, and to watch the spirit, be wide awake and not be overcome by the adversary. You can see the fruits of the spirit, but you cannot see the spirit itself with the natural eye, you behold it not. You can see the result of yielding to the evil spirit and what it will lead you to, but you do not see the spirit itself nor its operations, only by the spirit that's in you. Nobody has told me what has been going on in the camp, but I have known it all the while. I have been watching its movements, its influence, its effects, and I know the result if it is not put to stop.

"I want you to understand that inasmuch as we are beyond the power of the gentiles where the devil has tabernacles in the priests and the people, we are beyond their reach, we are beyond their power, we are beyond their grasp, and what has the devil now to work upon the spirits of men in this camp, and if you do not open your hearts so that the Spirit of God can enter your hearts and teach you the right way, I know that you are a ruined people and will be destroyed and that without remedy, and unless there is a change and a different course of conduct, a different spirit to what is now in this camp, I go no farther. I am in no hurry. Give me the man of prayers, give me the man of faith, give me the man of meditation, a sober-minded man, and I would far rather go amongst the savages with six or eight such men than to trust myself with the whole of this camp with the spirit they now possess. Here is an opportunity for every man to prove himself, to know whether he will pray and remember his God without being asked to do it everyday; to know whether he sill have confidence enough to ask of God that he may receive without my telling him to do it.

If this camp was composed of men who had newly received the Gospel, men who had not received the priesthood, men who had not been through the ordinances in the temple and who had not had years of experience, enough to t o have learned the influence of the spirits and feel the difference between a good and an evil spirit, I should feel like preaching to them and watching over them and telling them all the time, day by day.

But here are the Elders of Israel, men who have had years of experience, men who have had the priesthood for years, - and have they got faith enough o rise up and stop a mean, low, groveling, covetous, quarrelsome spirit? No, they have not, nor would they try to stop it, unless I rise up in the power of God and put it down.

I do not mean to bow down to the spirit which causes the brethren to quarrel. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I hear is some of the brethren jawing each other and quarreling because a horse has got loose in the night. I have let the brethren dance and fiddle and act the nigger night after night to see what they will do, and what extremes the would go to, if suffered to go as far as they would.

I do not love to see it. The brethren say they want a little exercise to pass away time in the evenings, but if you can't tire yourselves bad enough with a day's journey without dancing every night, carry your guns on your shoulders and walk, carry your wood to camp instead of lounging and lying asleep in your wagons, increasing the load until your teams are tired to death and ready to drop to the earth. Help your teams over mud holes and bad places instead of lounging in your wagons and that will give you exercise enough without dancing. Well, they will play cards, they will play checkers, they will play dominoes, and if they had the privilege and were where they could get whiskey, the would be drunk half their time, and in one week they would quarrel, get to high words, and draw their knives to kill each other.

This is what such a course of things would lead to. Don't you know it? Yes. Well, then why don't you try to put it down? I have played cards once in my life since I became a Mormon to see what kind of spirit would attend it, and I was well satisfied, that I would rather see in your hands the dirtiest thing you could find on the earth, than a pack of cards. You never read of gambling, playing cards, checkers, dominoes, etc., in the scriptures, but you do read of men praising the Lord in the dance, but who ever read of praising the Lord in a game of cards?

If any man had sense enough to play a game at cards, or dance a little without wanting to keep it up all the time, but exercise a little and then quit it and think no more of it, it would d well enough, but you want to keep it up till midnight and every night, and all the time. You don't know how to control your senses.

Last winter when we had our seasons of recreation I the council house, I went forth in the dance frequently, but did my mind run on it? No! To be sure, when I was dancing, my mind was on the dance, but the moment I stopped in the middle or the end of a tune, my mind was engaged in prayer and praise to my Heavenly Father and whatever I engage in, my mind is on it while engaged in it, but the moment I am done with it, my mind is drawn up to my God. The devils which inhabit the gentiles' priests are here. The tabernacles are not here, we are out of their power, we are beyond their grasp, we are beyond the reach of their persecutions, but the devils are here, and the first thing you'll know if you don't open your eyes and your hearts, they will cause divisions in our camp and perhaps war, as they did with the Lamanites as you read in the Book of Mormon.

"Do we suppose that we are going to look out a home for the Saints, a resting place, a place of peace where they can build up the kingdom and bid the nations welcome, with a low, mean, dirty, trifling, covetous, wicked spirit dwelling in our bosoms? It is vain! vain! Some of you are very fond of passing jokes, and will carry your jokes very far. But will you take a joke? If you do not want to take a joke, don't give a joke tn your brethren. Joking, nonsense, profane language, trifling conversation and loud laughter do not belong to us. Suppose the angels were witnessing the hoe-down the other evening, and listening to the haw haws the other evening, would they not be ashamed of it? I am, ashamed of it. I have not given a joke to any man on this journey nor felt like it; neither have I insulted any man's feelings but I have hollered pretty loud and spoken sharply to the brethren when I have seen their awkwardness at coming to camp.

"The revelations in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, teach us to be sober; and let me ask you elders that have been through the ordinances in the temple, what were your covenants there? I say you should remember them. When I laugh I see my folly and nothingness and weakness and am ashamed of myself. I think meaner and worse of myself than any man can think of me; but I delight in God, and in His commandments and delight to meditate on Him and to serve Him and I mean that everything in me shall be subjected to Him.

"Now let every man repent of his weakness, of his follies, of his meanness, and every kind of wickedness, and stop your swearing and profane Language, for it is in this camp and I know it, and have known it. I have said nothing about it, but I now tell you, if you don't stop it you shall be cursed by the Almighty and shall dwindle away and be damned. Such things shall not be suffered in this camp. You shall honor God, and confess His name or else you shall suffer the penalty.

"Most of this camp belong to the Church, nearly all; and I would say to you brethren, and to the Elders of Israel, if you are faithful, you will yet be sent to preach this Gospel to the nations of the earth and bid all welcome whether they believe the Gospel or not, and this kingdom will reign over many who do not belong to the Church, over thousands who do not believe in the Gospel. Bye and bye every knee shall bow and every tongue confess and acknowledge and reverence and honor the name of God and His priesthood and observe the laws of the kingdom whether they belong to the Church and obey the Gospel or not, and I mean that every man in this camp shall do it. That is what the scripture means by every knee shall bow, etc., and you cannot take anything else out of it.

"I understand there are several in this camp who do not belong to the Church. I am the man who will stand up for them and protect them in all their rights. And they shall not trample on our rights nor on the priesthood. They shall reverence and acknowledge the name of God and His priesthood, and if they set up their heads and seek to introduce iniquity into this camp and to trample on the priesthood, I swear to them, they shall never go back to tell the tale. I will leave them where they will be safe. If they want to retreat they can now have the privilege, and any man who chooses to go back rather than abide the law of God can now have the privilege of doing so before we go any farther.

"Here are the Elders of Israel who have the priesthood, who have got to preach the Gospel who have to gather the nations of the earth, who have to build up the kingdom so that the nations can come to it, they will stop to dance as niggers. I don't mean this as debasing the Negroes by any means; they will hoe down all, turn summersets, dance on their knees, and haw, haw, out loud; they will play cards, they will play checkers and dominoes, they will use profane language, they will swear.

"Suppose when you go to preach, the people should ask you what you did when you went on this mission to seek out a home for the whole Church, what was your course of conduct ? Did you dance ? Yes. Did you hoe down all ? Yes. Did you play cards ? Yes. Did you play checkers ? Yes. Did you use profane language ? Yes. Did you swear ? Yes. Did you quarrel with each other and threaten each other ? Why yes. How would you feel ? What would you say for yourselves ? Would you not want to go and hide up ? Your mouths would be stopped and you would want to creep away in disgrace.

"I am one of the last to ask my brethren to enter into solemn covenants, but if they will not enter into a covenant to put away their iniquity and turn to the Lord and serve him and acknowledge and honor His name, I want them to take their wagons and retreat back, for I shall go no farther under such a state of things. If we don't repent and quit our wickedness we will have more hindrances than we have had, and worse storms to encounter.

"I want the brethren to be ready for meeting tomorrow a ! the time appointed, instead of rambling off, and biding in their wagons to play cards, etc. I think it will be good for us to have a fast meeting tomorrow and a prayer meeting to humble ourselves and turn to the Lord and he will forgive us."

He then called upon all the High Priests to step forth in a line in front of the wagon and then the bishops to step in front of the High Priests, which being done, he counted them and found their number to be four bishops and fifteen high priests. He then called upon all the seventies to form a line in the rear of the high priests. On being counted, they were ascertained to number seventy-eight. Next he called on the elders to form a line in therear of the wagon. They were eight in number. There were also eight of the quorum of the twelve.

He then asked the brethren of the quorum of the twelve if they were willing to covenant, to turn to the Lord with all their hearts, to repent of all their follies, to cease from all their evils and serve God according to His laws. If they were willing, to manifest it by holding up their right hand. Every man held up his hand in token that he covenanted. He then put the same question to the high priests and bishops; next to the seventies, and then to the elders, and lastly to the other brethren. All covenanted with uplifted hands without a dissenting voice.

He then addressed those who are not members of the Church and told them - they should be protected in their rights and privileges while they would conduct themselves well and not seek to trample on the priesthood nor blaspheme the name of God, etc.

He then referred to the conduct of Benjamin Rolfe's two younger brothers, in joining with the Higbees and John C. Bennett in sowing discord and strife among the Saints in Nauvoo and remarked that there will be no more Bennett scrapes suffered here. He spoke highly of Benjamin Rolfe's conduct, although not a member of the Church and also referred to the esteem in which his father and mother were held by the Saints generally. He then very tenderly blessed the brethren and prayed that God would enable them to fulfill their covenants and then withdrew to give opportunity for others to speak if they felt like it.

Elder Kimball arose to say that he agreed with all that President Young had said. He receives it as the word of the Lord to him and it is the word of the Lord to this camp if they will receive it. He has been watching the motion of things and the conduct of the brethren for some time and has seen what it would lead to. He has said little but thought a great deal. It has made him shudder when he has seen the Elders of Israel descend to the lowest, dirtiest thing imaginable, the tail end of everything, but what has passed this morning will make it an everlasting blessing to the brethren, if they will repent and be faithful and keep their covenant.

He never can rest satisfied until his family is liberated from the gentiles and their company and established in a land where they can plant and reap the fruits of their labors, but he has never had the privilege of eating the fruits of his labors yet, neither has his family, but when this is done he can sleep in peace if necessary but not till then. If ye will serve the Lord, remember His name to call upon Him, and be faithful, we shall not one of us be left under the sod, but shall be permitted to return and meet our families in peace and enjoy their society again; but if this camp continues the course of conduct it has done, the judgment of God will overtake us. He hopes the brethren will take heed to what President Young has said and let it sink deep in their hearts.

Elder Pratt wanted to add a word to what has been said. "Much good advice has been given to teach us how we may spend our time profitably by prayer, and meditation, etc." But there is another idea which he wants to add." There are many books in the camp and worlds of knowledge before us which we have not obtained, and if the brethren would devote all their leisure time to seeking after knowledge, they would never need to say they had nothing with which to pass away their time. If we could spend 23 hours out of the 24 in gaining knowledge and only sleep one hour of the 24 all the days of our life, there would still be worlds of knowledge in store for us yet to learn. He knows it is difficult to bring our minds to diligent and constant studies, in pursuit of knowledge all at once, but by steady practice and perseverance we shall become habituated to it, and it will become a pleasure to us. He would recommend to the brethren, besides prayer, and obedience, to seek after knowledge continually. And it will help us to overcome our follies and nonsense; we shall have no time for it.

Elder Woodruff said he remembered the time when the camp went up to Missouri to redeem, Zion. when Brother Joseph stood tip on a wagon wheel and told the brethren that the decree had passed and could not be revoked, and the destroying angel would visit the camp and we should die like sheep with the rot. He had repeatedly warned the brethren of their evil conduct and what it would lead to, but they still continued in their course. It was not long before the destroying angel did visit the camp and the brethren began to fall as Brother Joseph had said. We buried eighteen in a short time and a more sorrowful time I never saw. There are nine here who were in that camp and they all recollect the circumstance well and will never forget it. He has been thinking while the President was speaking, that if he was one who had played checkers or cards, he would take every pack of cards and every checker board and burn them up so that they would no longer be in the way to tempt us.

Colonel Markham acknowledged that he had done wrong in many things. He had always indulged himself, before he came into the Church, with everything he desired and he knows he has done wrong on this journey. He knows his mind has become darkened since he left Winter Quarters. He hopes the brethren will forgive him and he will pray to be forgiven and try to do better. While he was speaking he was very much affected indeed and wept like a child. Many of the brethren felt much affected and all seemed to realize for the first time, the excess, to which they had yielded and the awful consequence of such things if persisted in. Many were in tears and felt humbled. President Young returned to the boat as Brother Markham closed his remarks and said in reply, that he knew the brethren would forgive him, and the Lord will forgive us all if we turn to Him with all our hearts and cease to do evil. The meeting was then dismissed, each man retiring to his wagon. And being half past one o'clock we again pursued our journey in peace, all reflecting on what has passed today, and many expressing their gratitude for what has transpired.

It seemed as though we were just commencing on this important mission, and all realizing the responsibility resting upon us to conduct ourselves in such a manner that the journey may be an everlasting blessing to us, instead of an everlasting disgrace. No loud laughter was heard, no swearing, no quarreling, no profane language, no hard speeches to man or beast, and it truly seemed as though the cloud had burst and we had emerged into a new element, a new atmosphere, and a new society.

We traveled six and three quarters miles about a north of northwest course and then arrived at the foot of the low bluffs which extend within about ten rods of the river, the latter forming a large bend northward at this point. At the foot of the bluffs the road was sandy and very heavy toil our teams. Like all other sandy places, it was perfectly barren, being only a tuft of grass here and there. After passing over the sand we changed our course to a little north of west, not, however, leaving the bluffs very far. The river bends again to the south. We then found the ground hard and good to travel over, but perfectly bare of grass for upwards of a mile.

At five o'clock it commenced raining very hard accompanied by lightning and thunder and strong northeast wind. It also changed considerably cooler again. At five thirty o'clock we formed our encampment on the edge of the higher bench of prairie. The feed is tolerably good on the bottom but here there is none at all. We have passed a small grove of fair sized trees, all green, growing on the islands in the river which are tolerable many near here, but there is no timber yet on this side of the river. The brethren pick up drift wood enough to do their cooking. I spent the evening writing in this journal till half past twelve o'clock, but felt quite unwell.

The distance we have traveled today is eight and a half miles, during the week seventy-four and a half, making us 514 1/2 miles from Winter Quarters. There is a creek of clear water about 200 yards to the south from which the camp obtains what they want.

Source: William Clayton's Journal

Published by the Clayton Family Association, and edited by Lawrence Clayton. To the best of our research, this contents of this book are no longer under copyright.