November 16th, 2009

A Letter to the Treasury from the LDS First Presidency in 1941

Warning: long post ahead!

For several years I have been citing a quote in various posts, emails, discussions, and other settings, allegedly from the First Presidency in 1941. This quote is both potent and largely unprecedented, and its implications are especially interesting.

The quote is as follows:

The Church as a Church does not believe in war and yet since its organization whenever war has come we have done our part … we do thoroughly believe in building up our home defenses to the maximum extent necessary, but we do not believe that aggression should be carried on in the name and under the false cloak of defense. We therefore look with sorrowing eyes at the present use to which a great part of the funds being raised by taxes and by borrowing is being put … We believe that our real threat comes from within and not from without, and it comes from the underlying spirit common to Naziism, Fascism, and Communism, namely, the spirit which would array class against class, which would set up a socialistic state of some sort, which would rob the people of the liberties which we possess under the Constitution, and would set up such a reign of terror as exists now in many parts of Europe … (LDS First Presidency, 1941, via Quoty)

A larger portion of this quote appears in the appendix of H. Verlan Andersen’s book The Moral Basis of a Free Society (see the heading “What To Do, To Have Unity With The Prophets”). Over time, I have encountered people who either refused to pay it any attention until they could be proven such a letter existed, or sincerely asked me if I could provide a more complete reference. However, upon inquiring with the Church History Library and the BYU library, it seems that the only source of which they are aware for this quote was in Elder Andersen’s book. That didn’t help.

A few people (with healthy skepticism) began to question whether the quote was in fact real at all, since it was not documented anywhere else. This only piqued my curiosity even further, and I was determined to find out one way or the other. I received some information that a copy of the original letter could be found in the Marriner S. Eccles collection at the University of Utah library, so I went for a visit this weekend (after a delay of several weeks while waiting for a few boxes of records to be returned from the St. Louis Fed, where they were being digitized) to see what I could find.

The Eccles collection consists of nearly 250 boxes of letters, transcripts, memos, and other documents all categorized by subject and date. A review of the (long) index resulted in a number of possibilities for where the letter might be, so, one by one, I began to sift through the records. I must admit that I became somewhat discouraged after about an hour when I was not making any progress with the boxes that I thought might contain the letter. I reviewed the index in full again, found a few other boxes that seemed somewhat related, and went back to work.

I finally found the letter, along with a few related letters that referred to the First Presidency’s correspondence. I have included each document below ordered chronologically. First, however, it is important to provide the context in which this letter was written.

The historical setting

At the time the letter was written in 1941, the First Presidency was comprised of President Heber J. Grant, with counselors David O. McKay and J. Reuben Clark. Several years before, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt first assumed office in March 4, 1933, quickly going to work to institute his economic package (the “New Deal”), comprising of “Relief”, “Reform”, and “Recovery”. President Grant was no fan of this set of programs, as documented in detail as follows in the book Presidents and Prophets (my emphasis added):

Church President Heber J. Grant was vocal in his disapproval of the policies of the thirty-second President, especially after the death of his pro-Roosevelt first counselor, Anthony B. Ivins, in September 1934. He would often become upset when discussing FDR, and in one heated discussion slammed his cane on the desk of Franklin J. Murdock, shattering the glass desktop in his anti-Roosevelt fury.

It comes as no surprise, then, that in the election of 1936, President Grant openly endorsed the Republican candidate for President, Alf Landon. However, he pointed out that he was speaking for himself and not for the Church. First Counselor J. Reuben Clark Jr. was not only anti-Roosevelt, but he was very much in favor of Landon. “Governor Alf M. Landon of Kansas will make a great president,” he told reporters gathered in the First Presidency’s office. President Clark traveled the West stumping for Landon, helped write the GOP platform that year, and was privately assured by Governor Landon that he would be appointed secretary of state if the Republicans succeeded in defeating Roosevelt.

As the 1936 election drew near, an unsigned, front-page editorial in the Church-owned Deseret News accused FDR of knowingly promoting unconstitutional laws and advocating Communism. However, the “other candidate [Landon] has declared he stands for the Constitution and for the American system.” Although many Roosevelt-loving Mormons were upset over the editorial, one future Church leader was persuaded. Future First Presidency member Marion G. Romney, a staunch Democrat committed to vote for Franklin Roosevelt, was deeply torn. When the editorial appeared, Romney’s biographer said, “He felt as if his political life had collapsed around him.” After fasting and three hours of prayer Marion concluded that the editorial was inspired and given through the Lord’s prophet. He then reversed his political loyalties and labored to dissuade his friends from voting for Roosevelt.

In 1936, Roosevelt won every state in the Union except Maine and Vermont. As convincing as the victory was nationally, it was even more so in Utah, where FDR had over 69 percent of the vote.

Determined that Utah should not support FDR’s bid for a third term in 1940, the General Authorities once again drafted a joint anti-Roosevelt statement but settled on issuing a less dramatic unsigned editorial. President Grant deferred to those who thought too bold a statement would cause problems for the Church without much hope of changing votes and came to the horrified conclusion that “about half the Latter-day Saints almost worship him [Roosevelt].” He regarded the strong LDS Support for the President and his “neo-socialism” as “one of the most serious conditions that has confronted me since I became President of the Church.”

In 1940, Utah was one of the strongest pro-Roosevelt states, giving him over 62 percent of the vote and opponent Wendell Willkie under 38 percent. When the pro-FDR tallies came in on election night in Utah, President Grant saw the total and was “dumbfounded.” Part of the explanation was the fact that up to three-fourths of the population of rural Utah received federal relief, and a higher proportion of LDS Utahns obtained federal relief than did non-LDS Utahns. At election time it was a simple financial decision that no editorial could sway.

The context for the 1941 letter can then be summarized, simply, as being given to an FDR administration appointee by an anti-FDR First Presidency. A little more historical context is necessary to understand the letter.

As FDR prepared to thrust America into the second world war, the issue of financing naturally came up. Ultimately, the (heavily) propaganda-laden defense/war bond campaign was created (mainly as a continuation of previous bond offerings) to encourage all citizens to buy into the war with their own money. As part of the coordinated effort to achieve this widespread participation, the National Organizations Division was established. A description of this division is as follows (my emphasis added):

The National Organizations Division came into being in March 1941, as a result of the Secretary’s [of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr.] desire to ask all private organizations of citizens of nationwide scope to present the Defense Savings program to their members. This avenue of approach was based on the fact that practically every American is a member of at least one group, often of several, tied together by civic, patriotic, educational or social incentives, hence a vast majority of such national organizations could be counted on to help in the bond program.

For the first few months of operations, [Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury, James L.] Houghteling directed bond promotional work with labor unions, foreign origin groups, and Negro organizations. Orville Poland took responsibility for professional, civic, patriotic and educational groups, and Horace Peters was assigned business and trade associations. For six weeks prior to the public sale of the first Defense Savings Bond on May 1, members of the National Organizations Division were kept busy interviewing and corresponding with the presidents or secretaries of the principal national organizations, explaining to them the Treasury’s objectives and soliciting their help.

Within the National Organizations Division, bond promotion with patriotic, fraternal and civic groups was organized under a Fraternal and Civic Section headed by William C. Fitzgibbon, whose supervisory duties came to include also bond promotion among foreign groups.

Houghteling, the Director of Labor Relations of the War Finance Division, is a central figure in the correspondence I obtained. A description of him is as follows:

To enlist the cooperation of national organizations and associations, James Lawrence Houghteling was appointed as an Assistant to the Secretary in July, 1941. It would have been hard to find anyone better qualified for this difficult and important job. “Larry” Houghteling was a blue-blood Democrat. His political opinions placed him a trifle left of center although by background he should have been a rock-ribbed conservative. His experience in the army, the diplomatic service, banking, journalism, and as Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization in the Department of Labor, 1937-4O, had brought him into friendly relations with groups representing every major type of American economic and social interest. His understanding of hair-line distinctions between various groups, especially those of foreign origin, made it possible for Houghteling to find his way among them and to bring them together through support of the Defense Savings Program. What was most important, he commanded their confidence, respect, and often affection.

Under Houghteling’s direction, Mr. Fitzgibbon sent a letter (of an unknown date, presumably in early to mid 1941) to the First Presidency of the Church, soliciting their support in the Defense Savings Bonds program and asking them to encourage their members to participate. This request was a standard one for the Treasury’s National Organizations Division, as it was their core mission to drum up support nationwide for the bonds.

The First Presidency replied to Mr. Fitzgibbon, and he replied back to them. I do not have these letters, as they were not included in the file. However, the second reply that was sent from the First Presidency to Mr. Fitzgibbon is what I do have, and is the 18 page letter from which the citation above is derived.

Document one

The first letter in the correspondence I copied was a letter from Mr. Houghteling to Federal Reserve Chairman (and member of the LDS Church) Marriner S. Eccles. The fact that Mr. Houghteling sent Mr. Eccles a copied version of the First Presidency’s letter is the reason it was to be found in Eccles’ 250+ boxes of personal papers. The letter reads:

December 10, 1941

Honorable Marriner S. Eccles,
Chairman, Board of Governors,
Federal Reserve System,
Federal Reserve Building,
Washington, D. C.

Dear Mr. Eccles:

I am enclosing herewith a copy of the letter received by my assistant, William C. FitzGibbon, from The First Presidency of the Mormon Church, outlining the position of the First Presidency toward the Defense Savings Program, and also expressing a considerable lack of sympathy with the policies of the present National Administration. This is the letter about which I told you at Ernest Draper’s last night.

Yours sincerely,

James L. Houghteling,
Assistant to the Secretary

Document two

Next up is the 18 page letter—the focus of this post and my research over the past couple of months. The papers were underlined, marked, and lightly annotated with red pencil, I assume by Mr. Eccles as he read over this copy he had been sent. The bold portions of text in the following letter are what was underlined in the original paper. Any parenthetical comments that follow a bold portion of text were what was written in the margin of the paper next to the selection. The two italicized paragraphs are the section in which the above citation can be found.

Office of the First President
Salt Lake City, Utah

October 11, 1941

The Honorable
William C. FitzGibbon,
Defense Savings Staff,
Treasury Department,
Washington, D. C.

Dear Mr. FitzGibbon:

Your more than gracious letter of September 30, 1941 has been received. Your generous commendation of the Church, its membership, and the achievements of the Church and its members is most gratefully appreciated.

You are kind enough to say: “Help us now to teach our citizens everywhere how to preserve and perpetuate our freedom,—freedom to govern ourselves, freedom of speech, and freedom to worship God according to our own light.”

It would be our dearest joy if we might be able to help (!) to the ends you name. But as we go over the field we are aware of the difficulties involved, and are persuaded that for now at least perhaps the best we can do is to tell you briefly what lies back of our own achievement, however modest it may be.

The Church has a very complete and in some respects intricate organization through which it works, and no organization which is not equally well set up would be likely to be even as effective as the Church is, and that is not completely effective. There are numbers of the Mormon people who have not fully responded to the teachings of the Church nor to be [sic] tenets of its organizations, and who are, therefore, lukewarm in the support of the Church, its policies, principles, and doctrines.

But behind the Church organization there are spiritual values without which the organization would be ineffectively operative. The Mormon people as a rule have deep religious convictions. Certain of their beliefs are fundamental in guiding their conduct and attitudes. It would probably not be advisable to go into the details of all these beliefs nor would that be essentially helpful or useful to you. (We may say parenthetically that we have been trying for practically a century now to convert the people of this country and of the world to our religious beliefs and tenets, with the result that even now, with our increase by births, we have only something over 800,000 members—men, women, and children—in all the world.)

Perhaps the fundamental principle that gives unity and direction to the action of the people is this: One of our Articles of Faith (which are more or less equivalent to the creeds of other denominations) declares:

“We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.”

Another Article of Faith declares:

“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

The people therefore believe that the President of the Church, his counselors, and the Council of the Twelve Apostles have a right to the revelations of the Lord as to the conduct of the Church and the members thereof; that the Lord actually speaks through them as the result of the revelations which He gives them; and that therefore the members are under obligation, when the President of the Church speaks, to follow his advice and counsel. With the great bulk of the people this is not merely a lip loyalty; it is a thoroughly engrained belief. The result is that when the President of the Church speaks, those who are faithful in the Church accept his words as divinely inspired and seek to guide their lives accordingly.

You will readily perceive the force and effectiveness of such a concept as applied to the organization of the Church and the conduct of its members, and you will also easily see that the unity of action and aim and purpose of the Mormon people could hardly be duplicated in any society which did not have such a conception.

In the first place, we should tell you that it is a part of the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, as much a part as any other tenet of their religion, that the Lord Himself “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood”, and that this Constitution “should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles.”

Our people believe that they have a special relationship to the Constitution and its preservation.

The revelation from which the foregoing is quoted was given in 1833, and two years thereafter the Church issued a Declaration of Belief regarding governments and laws, the three opening paragraphs of which read as follows:

“We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

“We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.

“We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.”

The balance of this Declaration deals in major part with the relationship between religious societies and the government and the respective fields of each.

In a revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1831, among other things the following principles were announced:

“Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and the judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!

“Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands!”

In another revelation given in 1842, the Lord said:

“Let every man be diligent in all things. And the idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways.”

At another time Joseph Smith received a revelation (1831) which said:

“Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness.

“These things ought not to be, and must be done away from among them.”

Brigham Young in the early days said:

“My experience has taught me, and it has become a principle with me, that it is never of any benefit to give out and out to man or woman money, food, clothing, or anything else if they are able-bodied and can work and earn what they need when there is anything on earth for them to do. This is my principle and I try to act upon it. To pursue a contrary course would ruin any community in the world and make them idlers.

To give to the idler is as wicked as anything else. Never give anything to the idler.”

Along side of these principles the Lord gave Joseph Smith several revelations regarding the care of the widow, the orphan, and the poor. One of the most direct and brief statements that have been given on the duty of the Church towards such people reads as follows:

“All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.

“And after that, they have claim upon the church, or in other words upon the Lord’s storehouse, if their parents have not wherewith to given them inheritances.

“And the storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor.”

Thus according to the Gospel plan under which the Church is established and operates, the care of the widow, the orphan, and the poor, is a Church function, it is a part of the brotherhood of man which underlies our whole social and religious life. As God’s children all, and as brothers and sisters in Christ, we must as a matter of spiritual responsibility and pursuant to positive divine command care for the helpless, the unfortunate, and the needy. Furthermore it is essentially a neighbor to neighbor obligation. It is not a function of civil government. This is fundamental.

Furthermore, in 1833 Joseph Smith received a revelation which we know as the Word of Wisdom and which taught the people that they should not use alcoholic beverages, tobacco, hot drinks, (which has been interpreted to mean tea, coffee, and other drinks containing habit-forming drugs) that meat should be eaten sparingly, and gave other health suggestions.

The Mormon people as they are today are the result of a century of teaching and practicing of the foregoing principles. It has only been by the urgent insistence upon these principles by the Church leaders during this whole period that the people have been brought to the place they are today. Their achievements have been the result of their ordering their lives, albeit more or less imperfectly, in accordance with these principles. A result of this sort cannot be achieved in a day, a week, a year, nor in many years, and could not be achieved except for the fundamental belief that the leaders who are directing the people are inspired of the Lord.

You also should understand, as you probably do, that the leaders of the Church consider it within their province, and the people have the same view, to advise the people generally and as individuals, not alone on matters purely religious but in their temporal affairs. The lowest ecclesiastical unit in the Church is called a “Ward” and the presiding officer in that Ward is a “Bishop,” who has to assist him two counselors. The Bishop is considered to be the “Father” of the Ward, and a good Bishop (and we consistently try to pick the best men in the Wards to be Bishops) is consulted by the people of his Ward regarding their personal matters, their business affairs, their spiritual problems and relations, and all of the problems of life.

As to the office of Bishop, the Lord has declared that “the office of a bishop is in administering all temporal things”, “having a knowledge of them by the Spirit of truth”. Bishops are “to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God”; they are “to keep the Lord’s storehouse; to receive the funds of the church. . . to take an account of the elders as before has been commanded; and to administer their wants, who shall pay for that which they receive, inasmuch as they have wherewith to pay; that this also may be consecrated to the good of the church, to the poor and needy. And he who hath not wherewith to pay, an account shall be taken and handed over to the bishop of Zion, who shall pay the debt out of that which the Lord shall put into his hands.” The Bishop “should travel round about and among all the churches, searching after the poor to administer to their wants by humbling the rich and the proud.”

It may be observed in passing that the whole male body of the Mormon Church from twelve years of age and up bears some degree of the Priesthood. We have no regular ministry. Any good man may be called, and practically all good men are at one time or another in their lives called to do work for the Church. All such serve gratuitously. There are fewer than twenty-five offices in the Church that might be regarded as life offices, and these compose what are known as the General Authorities of the Church.

The offices other than General Authorities are changed at intervals so as to give more men the opportunity to serve. There are women’s organizations also. Of the total body of the Church there are perhaps as many as 25% who are constantly in active gratuitous Church service, and since the bulk of these may be replaced, it is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that as many as 60% to 70% of the whole membership of the Church, men and women, have at some time during their lives an opportunity to have a position of office or trust in the Church government. Thus the great bulk of the people, men and women, have opportunity both to serve and to direct, to be ruled and to rule. This is a priceless experience for many people.

You ought also to have in mind that the Church is supported principally by the tithes of the people. Every man and woman earning money is supposed to pay a tenth of his annual income into the Church. As stated above, our total Church membership is not in excess of between eight hundred and nine hundred thousand people. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of seven hundred and fifty thousand in the United States. Our annual budget for building church edifices of various kinds, for schools, hospitals, the maintenance of houses of worship, maintenance of temples, Church Welfare Plan, missionary service, etc., etc., totals about five millions of dollars.

In addition to the tithing we have fast offerings. On the first Sunday of each month, each member is expected to fast for two meals and to give the cost of these meals to the Bishop of the Ward for his use in taking care of the poor. The people make other contributions for building their chapels and maintaining the General Welfare Plan.

When our people first came to Utah under the leadership of Brigham Young, they came as refugees from mob drivings, plunderings, and outrages first from Ohio to Missouri, then from Missouri to Illinois, and then out of Illinois to the West. They traveled to Utah from the Missouri River by ox-team. There was no railroad west of the Mississippi River when they came here. For many years, indeed until after the Civil War, such food, clothing, etc. as they brought from the outside had to be brought by ox-team more than a thousand miles over plains, mountains, rivers, and deserts. Of necessity the people had to become self-supporting and produce practically everything which they consumed. The hardship of pioneer life thus built into the warp and woof of the grandparents and parents of the present generation the sterling qualities of thrift, industry, honesty, integrity, sobriety, independence, love of liberty, and all the sterling virtues that go to make up a great people. The support of “home industry” was one of the cardinal principles of the great commonwealth they were founding. We were to be essentially self sustaining and self contained.

From their earliest days here Brigham Young sent out colonies to build up communities all over this intermountain area. Each of these communities had first to be practically fully self supporting, and they did not cease, for very many years, to be interdependent among themselves.

Brigham Young established in those early days many industries—some of which afterwards disappeared: the silk industry, the iron industry, woolen factories, the raising of cotton in the southern part of the state, and many other things. President Grant as a boy carried a surveyor’s chain in surveying the ditch for diverting water from the Virgin River to irrigate the first cotton in Utah’s “Dixie.”

Later, under President Woodruff the sugar industry was established. The Church fathered and built, with the help of some private Mormon capital, the best sugar industry in the West. They built the first beet sugar factory that used sugar machinery wholly built in the United States. In the effort to set up this industry President Heber J. Grant lost over a hundred thousand dollars of his own personal funds at a time when the purchasing power of the dollar was very much greater than now. (?) This beet sugar industry was established in order that the farmers might be helped through raising a cash crop.

Moved by the instructions quoted above as to the duty and responsibility of the Church to care for the widow, the orphan, and the poor, we recently intensified our efforts in this direction, though under plans which have, in fact, been in the Church for a hundred years, by setting up what we have called our General Welfare Program. The primary aim of this program is to provide for the material wants of faithful members of the Church who find themselves now in difficulty, to rebuild them spiritually, and to restore to them the proper concept, pride, and appreciation of American citizenship. (!) This plan has as a fundamental concept on the material side that no one shall receive help who, being able to work, does not work. We are trying (check mark) to provide work for the needy to do. This has not always been easy, but the effort has been and is continuous to bring this about. The great bulk of the material used in this work of caring for the poor is produced by the Welfare Plan itself, and in greatest part by the gratuitous labors of Church members—both those who receive the help and those who do not need help. The distributions which we shall make during the remainder of this year, and until harvest time next year, will have been gratuitously produced by the Welfare Plan up to as much as perhaps between 70% and 80%. All the Church organizations collaborate in this Plan. As we said to you in an earlier letter, we have, through this Plan, been able to help tens of thousands of our people all over the western part of the United States, and indeed in the East. We visualize, if present tendencies continue, that our problem may be immeasurably intensified when the World War ends and the nations sink back into the depression which seems certainly to follow. (?) It is our earnest hope, and indeed belief, that we shall be able so to stabilize our people under those circumstances by mutual helpfulness (X), by the building up of an actual sense of brotherhood among men, that our people will be able to stand the test which then comes, without slipping too far back in all those humanitarian principles and sterling virtues upon which our present civilization is based.

No effort has been spared to teach the people to be self reliant, independent, to take a humble, righteous pride in being, individually and as communities, fully self supporting. They have been taught the principles of uncorrupted government through their activities in a gratuitous Church service. They have learned to love liberty and they have been taught by dire tragedies what all the freedoms mean, especially freedom of conscience. Through everything that has been done and behind everything that has been accomplished by the people were the great spiritual principles to which we have alluded above.

We have spoken above largely of the material matters, but along culture and spiritual lines the people have been equally devoted. Within three years from the time of their coming here they set up what was called the University of Deseret. From that time until this the Church has encouraged education and culture. Of their musical culture the present Tabernacle Choir stands as the best known and outstanding example, but in art, in literature, and in science they are equally proficient. Some of our early buildings are noted among architects the world over as constituting some of the most beautiful architecture in all America. Today practically one-fifth of our annual budget is devoted to education, music, and the cultivation of the fine arts. The Brigham Young University doing regular college work has more than three thousand students. In addition to that the Church has established at college centers in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, California, Arizona, a series of Institutes where religion is taught and cultural activities engaged in. It has established Seminaries where the same sort of instruction is given adjacent to high schools all over the State of Utah and in some parts of the adjoining states. More than thirty thousand students attend these Institutes and Seminaries. The result of this attitude towards education is that Utah stands practically at the head of the list of all the States for literacy, although it is still in many respects a frontier community and statistics available indicate that there are proportionately more men and women who have obtained sufficient national prominence to be included in Who’s Who than any other State in the Union, and the great bulk of these persons are members of the Mormon Church. (!)

These things have been told in order that you may have a background and understanding of what we are now to say.

Viewing all of these things it will be easy for you to understand that the Church has not found it possible to follow along the lines of the present general tendency in the matter of property rights, taxes, the curtailment of rights and liberties of the people, nor in general the economic policies of what is termed the “New Deal”. The great bulk of what these people are trying to do is, in final analysis, absolutely contrary to the fundamental principles of which we have spoken. It is the considered, long considered opinion of President Grant and those who are associated with him, that our nation cannot be preserved if the present governmental policies shall continue. We do not believe that any other great nation or great civilization can be built up or maintained by the use of such policies. As we see one liberty after another encroached upon, we look with deepest anxiety toward the possibility of an attempt to take away religious freedom from the American people. We went through this experience in our early days. We know from the stories of our fathers and our grandfathers what it means to be deprived of the right to worship God according to the dictates of our consciences, and of the hardships and tragedy that accompany such a denial. We face this situation and this possibility, we repeat, with deepest apprehension.

As we see it, there is no way in which we can, to use your own words, “preserve and perpetuate our freedom—freedom to govern ourselves, freedom of speech, and freedom to worship God according to our own light,” except we shall turn away from our present course and resume the normal course along which this great country traveled to its present high eminence of prosperity, of culture, of universal education, and of the peace and contentment which we enjoyed prior to the inauguration of the “New Deal”. (1932-3)

These things are not matters of partisan politics with us. We care nothing as Church leaders about partisan politics as such, nor about the dominance of one party or the other. We grant to every man the right to vote as he wishes, and we would not control his vote even if we could. But we do reserve to ourselves the right to tell our people what we think is right regarding politics as affecting the fundamentals of our government system, to warn them of the dangers that lie under the present course, and to try to persuade them that their peace, their happiness, and their security do not lie along the path of the present trends of government.

Truly, we do not believe that—again to quote your own words—we can “preserve and perpetuate our freedom—freedom to govern ourselves, freedom of speech, and freedom to worship God according to our own light” unless we turn squarely about and return to the old-time virtues, and reenthrone our liberties and free institutions.

We have done in the past, we are doing now, and we shall continue in the future to do everything within our power to secure this turning about of which we speak. We confess to you that it has not been possible for us to unify our own people even upon the necessity of such a turning about, and therefore we cannot, unfortunately, and we say it regretfully, make any practical suggestion to you as to how the nation can be turned about. But the President of the United States could do it in good part if he were willing to exert his effort along that line, but this he appears not to be willing to do. (!)

We pray—and when we say we pray, we mean we offer a supplication to our God and your God who we believe can hear and answer prayers and does do so—that wisdom will be given to our national leaders to the end that we may face about and return to the old virtues. We shall continue our supplication and to our supplication we shall add such works as we are able to do, to bring this about.

Now we have said all of the foregoing with a complete understanding in our own minds that we have said nothing or little of anything that may now be of practical value, but this much we feel we can definitely say, that unless the people of America forsake the sins and the errors, political and otherwise, of which they are now guilty and return to the practice of the great fundamental principles of Christianity, and of Constitutional government, there will be no exaltation for them spiritually, and politically we shall lose our liberty and free institutions.

Returning to our your original letter and our reply thereto regarding the selling of Defense Bonds. The Church as a Church does not believe in war and yet since its organization whenever war has come we have done our part. Our members served in the war with Mexico, not such much in the Civil War because we were so far away, but our members went into the Spanish-American War and they went into the World War, and the records will show that they acquitted themselves honorably. But, nevertheless, we repeat, we are against war. We believe that international difficulties can and should be settled by peaceful means, and that America’s great mission in the world is to bring this about. We believe that our entry into this present war by sending our men abroad (and this seems now to be deliberately planned) would constitute not only a mistake but a tragedy. We believe that the present war is merely a breaking out again of the old spirit of hatred and envy that has afflicted Europe for a period of a thousand years at least. We do not believe that this war will settle anything when it is over because we believe that the peace, whoever dictates it, will be primarily the outgrowth of hate, and hate never settled anything righteously.

However, we do thoroughly believe in building up our home defenses to the maximum extent necessary, but we do not believe that aggression should be carried on in the name and under the false cloak of defense. (!) We therefore look with sorrowing eyes at the present use to which a great part of the funds being raised by taxes and by borrowing is being put. We are much impressed with the views of those military and naval men who say we are not militarily threatened (Lindberg). We believe that our real threat comes from within and not from without, and it comes from that underlying spirit common to Naziism, Fascism, and Communism, namely, the spirit which would array class against class, which would set up a socialistic state of some sort, which would rob the people of the liberties which we possess under the Constitution, and would set up such a reign of terror as exists now in many parts of Europe. We feel that our defenses should be built against this danger even more than the touted danger of foreign military invasion which many responsible military men tell us cannot come.

Perhaps we might close with a statement that should be unnecessary to make. We love America; we love the Constitution; we love the Government that has been established under it; we love our liberties and our free institutions; we believe in them; we believe that God actually ordained this in order that we, the Mormon people might be set up and established, for our revelations declare we hold the true plan of life and salvation. We wish to do all that is humanly possible to do to preserve our free institutions and this Constitution and the Government as it was set up under it; we do not wish knowingly to do one act or to say one thing that will tend to destroy these divinely given privileges and blessings.

We trust you will pardon this long letter, but we feel we must say that you invited it.

Trusting that the Lord will point out some way, will somehow bring about a rejuvenation of the American spirit along with a true love of freedom and of our free institutions, and for Constitutional government, we are,

Faithfully yours,

Heber J. Grant
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
David O. McKay
The First Presidency

Document three

After reading this long letter, Mr. Eccles wrote the following in reply to his friend Mr. Houghteling (my emphasis added):

January 30, 1942

Dear Mr. Houghteling:

I trust you will pardon this late acknowledgment of your brief note of December 10 with which you enclosed a copy of the letter from the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to Mr. FitzGibbon relating to the Defense Savings campaign.

Your note reached me just as I was leaving for a brief Christmas vacation and upon my return there has been so much pressing business that I have only recently gotten around to reading the enclosure you sent me. As you can surmise, I found it every bit as unenlightened as I had expected.

Thanking you again for your courtesy in this matter, and with kind regards,

Sincerely yours,

M. S. Eccles

Document four

One month later, Mr. Eccles followed up with another letter to Mr. Houghteling, as follows (my emphasis added):

March 2, 1942

Mr. James L. Houghteling,
Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury
Washington, D. C.

Dear Mr. Houghteling:

I thought you might be interested in the enclosed editorial from the Deseret News of February 21, which a fellow Utahan sent me the other day.

As you may know, the Deseret News is a daily newspaper of general circulation that is owned and controlled by the Mormon Church. If the editorial policy of this paper reflects the attitude of the Church authorities, as one would naturally expect, this editorial indicates that the Church leaders have greatly changed their views respecting support by their members of the Government’s financing program, in particular the distribution of savings bonds. The contrast with the attitude expressed in their letter to the Honorable William C. FitzGibbon, a copy of which you kindly sent me sometime back, is quite striking.

With best wishes, I am

Yours sincerely,

M. S. Eccles,

After looking around for this editorial for some time, I finally found a copy archived by Google. The papers back then were not categorized as well as they are today, so my best guess is that the editorial being referred to is at the top, right hand corner of page seven (based on Google’s page numbers, not the paper). The text is somewhat faded toward the bottom, but the subject is indeed the war bonds, and the article speaks in favor of them.

Document five

Finally, the last paper in the stack was a reply from Mr. Houghteling to Mr. Eccles in response to this editorial. It reads (my emphasis added):

March 12, 1942

Hon. Marriner S. Eccles,
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System,
Washington, D. C.

My dear Mr. Eccles,

I am greatly obliged to you for sending me, under date of March 2, the clipping of the editorial in “The Deseret News” of Salt Lake City, for February 21, which very ably endorses the Defense Savings program of the Treasury. I am particularly pleased to get this fine endorsement from the admirable newspaper owned and controlled by the Mormon Church. It represents a most favorable contrast to the isolationist attitude expressed by the First Presidency of the Church in a letter written to Mr. FitzGibbon of my office a few months ago.

With best regards,

Yours sincerely,

James L. Houghteling,
National Organizations Division

I will abstain, in this post, from including my own comments on the letters above, and let the First Presidency’s words speak for themselves.

Update: The files I found and transcribed have now been scanned and can be downloaded here.

75 Responses to “A Letter to the Treasury from the LDS First Presidency in 1941”

  1. Doran Barton
    November 16, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Kudos to you for digging this stuff up. Thanks!

  2. Russ
    November 16, 2009 at 11:49 am #

    Connor your a gentleman and a scholar for putting this together.

  3. David
    November 16, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    You went in search of a needle in a haystack and came away with a gem! Thanks for doing that work.

  4. Jarvie
    November 16, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    Once again Connor you are an inspiration.

    As the original (powerful) quote appears smack dab in the middle of the long letter. Please consider adding emphasis to the second time it is quoted so that people can find it more quickly as it is a wonderfully inspiring bit of church history.

  5. Connor
    November 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    Good idea. I’ve now italicized the section where the quote can be found.

  6. vontrapp
    November 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm #

    That picture is just amazing, really amazing. Talk about double-think!

  7. Reach Upward
    November 16, 2009 at 3:56 pm #

    You have done a great favor for those of us that have an interest in both American and LDS history. It was a long read, but very worthwhile.

    I believe that is is important to note that the cited opinion of “responsible military men” that foreign invasion of the U.S. could not come was proven wrong less than two months after the First Presidency’s letter was penned. Lindberg never fully regained his credibility.

    At the time the First Presidency’s letter was written, most Americans agreed with them. Americans were firmly opposed to direct involvement in “the European war,” which looked to them like simply another episode in Europe’s centuries of internal bickering. This was what many Americans or their ancestors had fled from.

    Pearl Harbor changed everything. It immediately shattered opposition and instantly changed the minds of most Americans.

    By the time the editorial was published, we had been officially at war for two months. There was no way back to a protectionist stance at that point. The quickest way to achieve the First Presidency’s goal of getting to the “turning point” where people would begin to cherish liberty and free institutions was to achieve victory in the war. In fact, no effort, including promotion of war bonds, was to be spared in getting the war over and done with.

    This does not imply duplicity on the part of the First Presidency. It demonstrates a change of priorities due to changed conditions.

  8. Connor
    November 16, 2009 at 4:08 pm #


    Your statements presume that Pearl Harbor was indeed a surprise. Most history books affirm this assumption, but I do not believe that that is true. Our government has lied about every other war we’ve been in, especially regarding the events leading up to it and generating widespread support. I do not believe there is an exception with Pearl Harbor and WWII.

  9. Brian
    November 16, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    What is the name of the article in the linked (archived by Google) newspaper? I couldn’t find the text referred to. Connor, when you say “top, right hand corner” do you mean “top” of the scanned image or top of the newspapaer page? (The newspaper page on google’s page 7 is sideways, so the “top right” of the newspaper page corresponds to the “bottom right” of the scanned image.)

  10. Brian
    November 16, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    Whether or not Pearl Harbor was a surprise does not, in my mind, reduce the value of “Reach Upward”‘s comment. It’s good to note that the cause of the changed position was due to the changed circumstances.

  11. Connor
    November 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

    Not necessarily. The “changed position” argument assumes, as did Mr. Houghteling, that the DesNews editorial did in fact come from the First Presidency. I do not know the dynamics of the company in 1942, and how much editorial control was exerted by the First Presidency, but I think it is unwise to assume that all editorials reflected the policy and beliefs of Church leadership.

    Taking the argument into our day, that would mean that the First Presidency endorses everything that comes from the DesNews editorial section, such as gun control. I somehow doubt that’s the case.

  12. Connor
    November 16, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    Connor, when you say “top, right hand corner” do you mean “top” of the scanned image or top of the newspapaer page?

    It’s the top-right of the computer screen, so top-left of the page itself. The section heading is “Expansion of Democracy”.

  13. Brian
    November 16, 2009 at 8:39 pm #

    “I think it is unwise to assume that all editorials reflected the policy and beliefs of Church leadership.” I whole-heartedly agree, for today, and (probably) back then. (Like you, I don’t know the dynamics of the company back then, but I think it’s safe to assume that the views of the Church weren’t necessarily reflected by the newspaper.)

    I guess what I should have said was “It’s good to note that if the position was changed, it was probably due to the changed circumstances.” or “It’s good to note that the cause of the changed position (assuming the newspaper accurately reflected the views of the Church) was due to the changed circumstances.”

  14. Connor
    November 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm #

    Here’s another nugget from a talk by Cleon Skousen, referring to J. Reuben Clark:

    In 1937 [President Clark] said, “The power people are now planning another war for you. They have made this depression last many more years than it would have ordinarily lasted. They got stock down to 14 cents on a dollar. They just bought up everything at 14 cents on a dollar, and they’re now ready to make additional billions as they put you through another world war.

    “They’re going to have you pay for it. You’re going to be involved in it. You don’t think you’ll get involved, but they’ll say that for the peace of the world, you must come in, and you’ll feel so soft-hearted about it, you’ll come in. It will be just as big a mistake as World War I,” which I thought was just great when we went in, and I now know, could have been handled differently, and we could have saved ourselves a lot of problems.

    So, he gave the prophecy. Then in 1941, after we were in the war, he said, “May I quote from my 1923 speech, and my 1937 speech….” That’s what he did the rest of his life, quoting his former speeches, where he predicted what would happen, and it did.

    Here is President Clark, from a conference address in October 1941:

    I have in the past, for the last eight years, talked about the perilous times that were coming, and now about the perilous times that we are in. I do not intend to go over that ground again, but I do call your attention to the fact that we urge upon you thrift, economy, getting out of debt, and keeping out of debt. We have told you about the bad effects of interest; we have told you about the war prosperity, and the depression which is to come. All that has been said in the past, all that I have said, I want to incorporate here by reference. We said these things when it was unpopular to say them, when we were thought to be going against the course we should go, but now everybody is talking about these things, and we do hope that the people will realize that, after all, the old virtues are the sound ones, the old virtues are the things upon which we must build.

    I have also talked about our participation in the war, and I told You years ago that there was to be an effort to take our boys across the Water. You do not need to have any doubt about it now, I suppose. It is not only being sought for on the other side, but it is being planned for on this side.

    In the April conference of that year, he said this:

    For the past several Conferences, I have spoken about world conditions. In the April Conference of 1937, I said:

    . . . there is strongest reason for believing that some of the most skilled, astute, and shrewd diplomats, politicians, and statesmen of all Europe are now planning to have the people of the United States finance the next European war either before the war begins or during its progress.

    I continued:

    Furthermore, certain of these same diplomats, politicians, and statesmen are planning to entice the United States into an offensive and defensive military alliance in order that we shall participate in that next world war by sending our young men to the battlefields of Europe. The argument they now plan to use to bring this about is that in this way only can the peace of the world be preserved. While this is a most profound fallacy, it will unfortunately find a sympathetic ear among many of the people of this country who do not fully understand international relations. It will require the wisest statesmanship on our part to prevent the United States from becoming again the victim of a world military catastrophe.

    I need make no comment about these statements.

    This war began as a war for empire. This is an unrighteous cause. A war to enlarge and maintain empire of conquest is no better. This war continues for these two objects. All other issues urged in this contest are merely ancillary to the getting or keeping of empire. America has no place as a belligerent in such a conflict. We do have a place in the world by Divine design and destiny as the makers of a lasting peace, but we must come to this task not as joint conquerors but with clean hands and a contrite spirit, bearing in our hands the olive branch of peace, spiritual hope, and righteousness.

    We have heard that our help in the conflict was always to be short of war; but we have for many months been in fact actual participants in the war.

    We have also been told our sons would not be sent abroad to fight, but American vessels on both of our coasts are reported now actually making ready for use as troop transports.

    It does look as if only Divine intervention of some kind can keep our sons on our own soil, fighting for our own cause, in defense of our own freedom and liberties.

    We all have the deepest sympathy for the woe and misery which afflict the innocent peoples of Europe. We join them in sorrowing for lost loved ones. We pray to the Lord to mitigate their suffering and assuage their grief. But we need not be so much concerned about political Europe. This war is merely the outbreaking of old political hatreds that have festered in Europe for a thousand years. They have never been fully wiped out before; they will not after this war is over. Our great concern is that this endemic yet virulent infection shall not spread to America and leave us with an incurable malady.

    I have before urged and I now urge that we put hate away from us, because it is the hates from the last war that have made this one. Hate and righteousness cannot dwell in the same heart. Hate ca

  15. Connor
    November 16, 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    Another interesting find: President Heber J. Grant, two months before Pearl Harbor, in the October 1941 conference:

    I pray with all my heart and soul that any man-I do not care who he is or how high his position,-that is doing anything to get us into war, that he may be confounded; and I pray that we will all pray for guidance with all our hearts and souls. I feel as though it might be well for the Latter-day Saints to set aside a day to pray and to fast and to ask the Lord to preserve us as a nation from getting into a war.

    Thanks to Russ for pointing this out to me.

  16. Clumpy
    November 17, 2009 at 12:57 am #

    I’ve heard this Roosevelt argument as well, but rarely as cogently as in the linked article. I haven’t read the book – does it spell out the crucial link here, that the memo was “implemented step by step by Roosevelt”? As conspiracy theories go (and I use the term without any spin), this one is pretty solid if this link can be proved and I’ll have to check out this Stinnett book. I’m not at all skeptical that another sainted president could have either instigated, lied about or took advantage of a tragedy to meet his own agenda.

  17. ajax
    November 17, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    Another good read on this is John Denson’s, “Franklin D Roosevelt and the First Shot” :

    Chapter 4

  18. Mom
    November 17, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    As I read this letter, I recalled my history classes from high school (MANY years ago – mid 70’s, yes, I”m old–thank you). FDR was presented as saintlike in the books and movies we were required to see. I grew up thinking he was practically a messiah. My mother, who was impoverished in her youth, worshipped him as her father got work with the CCC when they were near starvation during the Depression. It has taken many years to unwind that indoctrination and look at his presidency with truth. I’m appalled now. I wonder what the youth are being taught in schools now that continues the indoctrination and makes us all gullible to Obama’s socialization of the country?

  19. Kelly W.
    November 17, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Mom, I asked a just-retired high school history teacher about 5 years ago in depth about Pearl Harbor and if, over the course of his lifetime of teaching H.S. history, if the things taught to high schoolers had changed.

    He told me that it is now accepted fact that fdr had foreknowledge of the coming attack and let it happen anyway to get approval of the nation before entering the war. He said that fdr thought war would be good for our economy.

    This leads me to think about the Gulf of Tonkin, the Northwoods Document, and, of course the false-flag attack of 9/11.

    All of the research into the relations between the First Presidency and the presidency of the US leads me also to think back upon the visit Bush made to President Hinckley in SLC. The white house spokespeople did not let us know a single thing that was said, nor did the Church spokespeople. And the press went along with the secrecy of what was discussed between Bush and the First Presidency.

    The secrecy of that visit reminds me of the difficulty Connor had in digging out these documents on the new deal and war bonds and the First Presidency’s stance on it. The First Presidency was very against the war, but the general populace went for all the propaganda. I propose that when Bush visited President Hinckley, the prophet was against Bush and the war, but yet the general populace of the Church and the country was for it, forcing a silence from the Church spokespeople.

  20. Lee
    November 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    My friend, you make me proud. This was an incredibly scholarly quest with a profoundly spiritual lesson for all with eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to feel.

  21. Doug Bayless
    November 17, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    In a country such as ours, where we are blessed with such unfettered expression of free speech, where we still have direct access to representative government, and we have such phenomenal tools for discovering and assessing information (a nation where ‘rule of law’ sometimes still ‘de-classifies’ many state secrets regularly, for instance) . . . I sometimes worry that collectively we may be ignoring the Savior’s counsel ‘unto whom much is given, much is required’ (D&C 82:3; Luke 12:48) at our peril.

    We know that there are those in our government who “call evil good, and good evil”. We know that there are those who — in President Kimball’s terms — “train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching”. Every day there is more complete information about the current conflicts being waged ‘in our name’, as well as more information allowing us to better understand how our government generally operates through better informed re-evaluation of decades-old conflict [as ‘new’ information hits standard 40-year declassification rules or some other FOIA request . . . ie the info. on “Operation Northwoods“]

    Anyways, thanks again Connor, for doing the hard work of giving us yet another view on the current conflicts through some interesting re-evaulation of past events (that could inform our voting, civic dialogues, communications with our representatives, etc.).

    Knowing something of President Clark’s extensive State Department experience, it doesn’t surprise me that someone would say:

    That’s what he did the rest of his life, quoting his former speeches, where he predicted what would happen, and it did.

    . . . some of these things certainly seem to be recurrent events . . . predictable if we’re aware of the patterns.

  22. Jeremy Parker
    November 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    Connor, Have you thought about compiling in one place the statements by the First Presidency or Prophets:
    A.Declaring their opposition to the draft.
    B.Declaring their opposition to WWI & II specifically as well as this general condemnation of war.
    C.Declaring their support for Prohibition, as well as disappointment over it’s repeal.
    D.Lamentations over the atomic detonations over Japan.

    Having them all in one place would go a very long way to establishing the mindset necessary to understand where we should be Ie. where they were.

    This I believe must be the starting point for all of our discussions relative to how we now go forward in fulfilling all of our responsibilities to this great work.

  23. Kelly W.
    November 17, 2009 at 3:54 pm #

    I loved President Clark’s comments on seeking an Empire:

    “This war began as a war for empire. This is an unrighteous cause. A war to enlarge and maintain empire of conquest is no better. This war continues for these two objects. All other issues urged in this contest are merely ancillary to the getting or keeping of empire. America has no place as a belligerent in such a conflict. ”

    (History repeats itself……)

  24. Robert J. Norman
    November 18, 2009 at 2:30 am #

    Thank you for this post. It is most enlightening.

  25. Reach Upward
    November 18, 2009 at 9:07 am #

    We cannot say for sure how much the 1942 D-News editorial’s opinions were shared by the First Presidency. Suffice it to say that in that day, the church had a much more hands-on approach to the paper than it does to any of its media holdings today. Look back at the statements about how Elder Romney regarded an earlier D-News editorial and that will give you a clue about how much weight to put behind the Feb. 1942 editorial.

    Historians will probably debate FDR’s knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack for centuries to come. Criticisms of his complicity were aired in various circles within minutes of the attack because, given the administration’s support of the European war, it all seemed to fit together too neatly. These criticisms cannot be dismissed, but contrary to what has been posted, no one has ever found the ‘smoking gun’ that tells us validates these theories. We will probably have to wait until “all things are made known” to get the full truth of the matter.

    None of this is to say that we wouldn’t have been better off had the LDS people and the nation as a whole followed the counsel of the First Presidency. Our failure to follow prophetic counsel does not make it invalid.

  26. Shoal Creek
    November 18, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

    In chapters 18 through 29 of the book, “World War II: The Rest of the Story and How It Affects You Today,” author Richard J Maybury explains, in great detail and with footnotes and sourced references, exactly how Roosevelt and his administration used economic maneuvers to create a situation where Japan felt forced to attack the United States at Pearl Harbor. The explanation offered by Maybury is the most complete, thorough, well-researched, and understandable explanations of the Pearl Harbor events that I have yet found.

  27. Reach Upward
    November 18, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    The book is a great source of knowledge, but please bear in mind that many historians that have pored over the source documents as well as a great deal of other information disagree with Maybury’s inferrences and conclusions. He places far more weight on certain factors than others accept as plausible. That does not make his contentions incorrect. It merely points out that it is far from the only valid interpretation of known facts.

  28. Stephen Nix
    November 18, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    Hurrah for Connor! I’ve been wanting a better source for this for the last several years. Awesome…awesome work.

  29. kcneher
    November 19, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    Here is the text of the Deseret News Editorial cited above…

    “The investor in the defense bonds can make a vital contribution toward preventing a legacy of inflation and dislocated prices that would be tragically harmful to the country. As a result of the defense spending for arms, national income has risen to record levels. Salaries and wages last year had risen 22 percent and this is probably not the end. People now have more money to spend than ever before, but there will be less civilian goods to buy because our efforts are devoted to arms production.”

    “Price-fixing and rationing alone cannot solve the problem, because if there is more money to spend and the supply of goods is reduced, prices will be bound to rise. The sale of bonds and stamps is, at least in part, an answer to the inflation threat. If each one will forego the spending of part of his earnings and lend the money to the government the threat can be averted.”

    “Furthermore, investment in bonds and stamps combines both self-interest and patriotism. The defense bonds are the best investment in the world for the individual. The purchase of bonds is not only an investment for victory in the war, it is contributing to the peace to follow victory.” (end quote)

    The war had begun, the time for debating had past and the Brethren had to react to potential consequences that the war could bring upon the people (ie. Inflation). Investing in the bonds was safe, patriotic and would restrict the supply of money in circulation. This editorial was about preventing inflation, not supporting war and does nothing to affect their previous comments.

  30. Ralph Hughes
    November 19, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    I wish that every member of the LDS Church, especially the American members, would read that First Presidency letter of 11 October 1941. Not only does it expound on certain important points of doctrine, but it shows the concern for the disobedience of many Latter-day “aints”.

  31. Greg
    November 20, 2009 at 12:58 am #

    Simply, thank you.

  32. carissa
    November 20, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    Fascinating! Thanks for digging this up and sharing.

  33. Darren
    November 22, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    Thank you for this. I have updated my web site, with this.

    I read a detailed commentary on the Pearl Harbour matter, and how the US knew about it being planned – can’t remember where though…

  34. Thomas Dyches
    November 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    How many times has the membership of the church been at odds with the First Presidency? We see the great discontent Mormons have with Obama yet they fail to see contradictions in their government dependence.

    And thanks for putting in the effort Connor. I’ll bet it was an exciting and riveting quest for truth as you were digging through those old files!

  35. Connor
    November 24, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    I have scanned the documents that I transcribed, and they can be downloaded here. (5MB .pdf file)

  36. Greg
    November 24, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    Thank you.

  37. Steven Montgomery
    November 27, 2009 at 10:24 pm #


    I just now got around to reading this. Excellent job!

  38. Marc
    November 28, 2009 at 6:27 pm #

    Nice job Connor! This piece dovetails nicely with your and Crawford Smith’s piece where you talk about the BOM wars and how those wars all come about through the action of some power seeking “dissenter”. Those wars were not started because govt’s did not see eye to eye but because of secret combinations. The same is true for us and the talks by Pres Clark point this out. That WWI and WWII were both started by power seeking dissenters using tragedy to whip the people up into a war furror.

    Now that we see the pattern and it is a very consistent pattern, is there any doubt about 9-11 and who was behind it? Is there any doubt that the “war on terror” is a complete sham?

  39. Mike
    January 13, 2010 at 1:09 am #

    Connor, this is fantastic. Your work is much appreciated. Now the work becomes disseminating these “obscure” gems to the honest in heart who’s minds are ready to act upon truth and prepare the hearts of men (and women) for what our “latter-day gadianton robbers” have in store. Our test has only begun. May our hearts not fail us in our time of adversity!

  40. Ralph Hughes
    July 25, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    In re-reading the letters posted by Connor Boyack, I am impressed by President Grant’s efforts to dissuade Church members from voting for FDR. We hear now that the Church does not support of favour any candidates. But it obviously did in past.

    I note the subject of Pearl Harbour was mentioned in a few posts. My own extensive investigaations into that conspiracy and into other issues have convinced me that FDR & Co. wanted the U.S.A. in WW2 to insure that the Soviet Union survived as a formidable world power.

  41. Clif
    July 26, 2010 at 12:56 am #


    Great post here! I’m really glad that Ralph commented on it and bumped this thread up in your comments or else I would never have seen it. I really appreciate your research here. Bravo!

    I knew that Heber J. Grant had been a Democrat all of his life. However, I was also aware that Pres. Grant had huge misgivings about FDR. As a guy who identifies with the Democratic party myself, I have wondered in the past why it was that President Grant was opposed to his own party’s candidate. I was never really clear on that one. This helps a lot.

  42. Ben Nilson
    November 2, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    Now that our public servants in Washington have returned to the Constitution and Constitutional principles the threat against the Constitution has passed and we as members of the church can relax in the happy knowledge that “all is well in Zion.” (heavy sarcasm intended).

  43. Kelly W.
    November 3, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    Yes Ben,

    That PATRIOT Act will protect us.

  44. Greg
    November 3, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    Ralph – It is interesting if you compare Hegelian Dialectic to the many “managed conflicts” around the world.

  45. An American
    January 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    These are amazing communications. The arrogance of Eccles is shocking since Eccles was also Mormon. I was surprised about this terse comment about the lengthy , patriotic letter from the LDS Presidency. That, however, explains so much about the meddling of Eccles and his heirs in Utah. (just doing research on them in the past month or so — think Eccles Foundation that supports so many PBS programs and Utah’s Planned Parenthood).

    Some posters have wondered about the apparent flip flop of the LDS Presidency from October 1941 and then an editorial comment in the Desert News April 1942. I would like to suggest that the clear letter with details of the love of Liberty, Freedom, Free Speech, US Constitution was used by the power folks in Washington DC to craft some means to bring in the Mormons and other like thinkers into their plot to drag the USA into World War II.

    As for FDR not knowing in advance about the Japanese plan to bomb Pearl Harbor — I have a friend who is ex military and told me that FDR’s pre knowledge about the bombing IS TAUGHT as fact at the US War College. Couple that with all of the other known facts one can only conclude that he had to have known. Back in 1937 the US government sent in a spy to Japan to film the layout of Tokyo from the tallest building there.

    THANKS so much for your research on this which I have found extremely enlightening to learn when the LDS Church still STOOD for something. I am certain that these three honorable and noble men are spinning in their graves (or looking from the other side of the veil) is horror that the LDS leaders have given $3 million to the United Nations in recent years; and millions more to the Catholic Church. I also now know how to fashion my prayers for my beloved nation per Pres. Grant’s prayers to “confound” those who are trying to bring about the evils upon our nation.

  46. Brian Hartwell
    February 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Very well researched and interesting piece. Isolationists they were, and many still are. Eccles saw the damage that lax government controls effected on the economy, and had proposed many items that were included in the New Deal. The LDS church can take care of its own well, and the letter states that, but not everyone will ever become Mormon to participate in the church’s welfare system, so the lengthy letter was of little use to the federal government.

  47. Rebekah Whyte
    March 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    Amazing research Connor. Thank you for picking up the slack of the journalists.

  48. Shaun Knapp
    April 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm #


    This was great. I needed some of those quotes fast, and man, here you had a treasure trove of them.

    It’s amazing how the First Presidency spoke so powerfully and eloquently and were in such dead on correct alignment with reality. They did not buy into the lies, propaganda, and false doctrines and sophistry of the “scheming leaders” of their day who filled the judgment seats of the nation. I sure wonder how big of a smuck Mr. Eccles was. I’ll let God be the judge, but Mr. Eccles opined that the letter to the First Presidency was un-enlightening. Well, Eccles has no spirit of truth in him for such a lamentable statement. Such a letter stands the test of time and should be taught and quoted in Sunday School manuals. Shame is felt for the name Eccles for his sorry stand on such an enlightened letter.

  49. Shaun Knapp
    April 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm #


    This was great. I needed some of those quotes fast, and man, here you had a treasure trove of them.

    It’s amazing how the First Presidency spoke so powerfully and eloquently and were in such dead on correct alignment with reality. They did not buy into the lies, propaganda, and false doctrines and sophistry of the “scheming leaders” of their day who filled the judgment seats of the nation. I sure wonder how big of a smuck Mr. Eccles was. I’ll let God be the judge, but Mr. Eccles opined that the letter to the First Presidency was un-enlightening. Well, Eccles has no spirit of truth in him for such a lamentable statement. Such a letter stands the test of time and should be taught and quoted in Sunday School manuals. Shame is felt for the name Eccles for his sorry stand on such an enlightened letter.

  50. Brint Baggaley
    May 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Connor, this was an amazing read! I have researched many things, but am humbled by your diligent search and fair minded presentation of not only this letter, but the events around it.
    I have found that these truths you have shown flow very much into our day as I have looked into U. N. treaties, socialist constitutions, American Progressives and the Environmental movement. It would be of great benefit to me if some of the well educated people reading this would check out and comment on my findings, website is

  51. Brint Baggaley
    May 20, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    I have been studying this posting more in depth and would like to focus on the statement:
    “we visualize, if present tendencies continue, that our problem may be immeasurably intensified when the World War ends and the nations sink back into the depression which seems certainly to follow. (?)”
    I guess the question mark was added, as at first glance we have had great economic prosperity since WWII. It is actully a great read to read about (from many sources) the rescue missions by Church Welfare in Europe. Also, our own economy, rather than return to true economic principles has simply shackled itself with debt, which was covered by a season from the natural growth from population, but which must someday come back with a vengence. Carroll Quigley discussed the state of our economy in his book Tragedy & Hope:
    “…even today prosperity is not the result of a properly organized economic system but of government spending, and any drastic reduction in such spending would give rise to an acute depression.”
    Quigley’s comments are packed, especially as he later explains the ‘organization’ wanted. An in depth look can be found at:

  52. Brint Baggaley
    May 20, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Another exerpt from J. Reuben Clark, from the October 1941 General Conference:
    “We are in the midst of the greatest exhibition of propaganda that the world has ever seen. Just do not believe all you read or hear. The elect are being deceived.”

  53. Ralph Hughes
    August 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    To Shaun’s comment “Such a letter stands the test of time and should be taught and quoted in Sunday School manuals”, more’s the pity some of the principles presented in this letter must remain burried in a box at the U of U instead of being taught in church.

  54. Kelly W.
    August 7, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    Brint, the Carrol Quigley quote was very enlightening, thanks.

  55. Everett
    September 13, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    I was super excited to find this article. Thanks for your research. It is good to know that the leaders of the church know what’s going on even though the mainstream media is full of propaganda.

  56. Mario Thompson
    January 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    This is priceless! Thank you.

    I juxtapose the disobedience of the membership of the Church with regard to good government with my own weakness of clinging to the sins that I favor–many members choose to remain in ignorance in matters of governance, but I have beams in my eye too.

  57. Ralph Hughes
    January 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    “…. but this much we feel we can definitely say, that unless the people of America forsake the sins and the errors, political and otherwise, of which they are now guilty and return to the practice of the great fundamental principles of Christianity, and of Constitutional government, there will be no exaltation for them spiritually, and politically we shall lose our liberty and free institutions.”

    This statement gives me the shivers every time I review it. I fear for the Church members who continue to promote and support violations of principles of Constitutional government. I see such violations constantly committed by so many LDS politicians and voters.

  58. Tremain Petersen
    April 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Wow. Thanks Connor! Your diligent seeking paid off big! What a lesson, there are so many from this read thanks again.

  59. Rhonda
    April 14, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    Connor, thank you so much for the time and thought you put into this post. I had run across a portion of the letter, and ran a search to see if it was verifiable.

    I’d never heard any of that background information before, and I will be eternally grateful that Marion G. Romney humbled himself. Many of his later speeches have made a huge impact on how I understand the connection between self reliance and eternal progression, and of The Lord’s Way vs. the world’s welfare.

    I’m halfway through reading “Latter-Day Liberty”; that’s an amazing book you put together.

  60. Rhonda
    August 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Here’s more about President Romney’s experience, taken from the LDS Instute manual “Teachings of the Living Prophets”,

    The following story from the life of Marion G. Romney illustrates the principle taught by both Brigham Young and Harold B. Lee:

    “In the political field where so much pressure is exerted on men to compromise ideals and principles for expediency, party workers early learned to admire Marion G. Romney’s intense loyalty to his own conscience as well as to the advice of his Church leaders whose pronouncements on vital issues affecting the welfare of the nation he accepted as divinely inspired even though it frequently brought him into sharp conflict with leaders of his own political party. On one such occasion when Church leaders in a tersely-worded editorial had denounced the trends of the political administration then in power, he confided in me something which it might be well if all loyal Church members in public life could emulate: ‘When I read that editorial,’ he told me, ‘I knew what I should do—but that wasn’t enough. I knew that I must feel right about following the counsel of the Church leaders and know that they were right. That took a whole night on my knees to accomplish.’ I submit in that statement the difference between ‘intelligent’ and ‘blind’ obedience. Marion G. Romney while never disloyal to authority over him, could never be rightfully accused of being ‘blindly obedient.’” (Harold B. Lee, “Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1962, p. 742.)

  61. D. Rolling Kearney
    October 3, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    So many have raised the issue of FDR’s foreknowledge, so I thought I would add this link to any interested: Do Freedom of Information Act Files Prove FDR Had Foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor?

  62. Carl Youngblood
    November 11, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    I think Eccles was right. The letter from the First Presidency did not demonstrate a good grasp of the problem facing the US at the time. It sought primarily to demonstrate how the church’s beliefs shape its practices and (I assume) to imply that the nation would be successful if it adopted similar practices. I think Eccles is right to call this naive. Naive to assume that the practices of a particular church, whose creeds go far beyond those spelled out in the constitution, could easily be translated into national policies. And naive to avoid conflict with Hitler while a whole race of people was being exterminated by the millions. This fact was not understood until after the war, when the camps were being liberated, but it effectively eliminated American isolationism for the foreseeable future.

  63. J M Paul
    November 11, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    Conner: I am amazed at your focused determination to bring forth those truths which have been hidden in darkness for so many years.
    While I did live through those years and did indeed take part in the buying of US War Savings stamps which cost 10 cents in those days, it was not until I joined the church at age 40 and began to really dig into history that I learned the hidden planned agenda of US involvement in WW2.
    Your research is so much on the mark, that it saddens me to see those who desire to oppose your findings in even the smallest detail.
    FDR was far more instrumental than most care to believe as he began to prepare for war in the mid and late 30’s. Prescott Bush and MANY others were instrumental in openly aiding Hitler so that they could profit from the war effort.
    Perhaps you might also wish to present a factual historic view of the actions of men like John Jay McCloy and contrast that with the life of Joseph P McCarthy. Those 2 men have been the subject of MUCH duplicity by the news media.
    McCloy’s deeds have been mostly hidden while McCarthy continues to be denigrated as evil for bringing forth truth when few cared to learn it.

    Scripturally we appear about to leave the book of Heleman, yet for the most part as a nation, we remain in darkness.

  64. Rhonda
    November 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I think Eccles was naive, and did not have a good grasp of eternal principles and their practical application.
    Naive to assume that government mandates and controls could provide physical or moral salvation to the people either here or in Germany.
    The answer comes through God- listening to him, individually showing love to our ‘neighbor’, far or near, being aware of our duty to him, and being individually responsible people. This fact is still not understood, but it’s the only way to save this nation.

  65. Carl Youngblood
    November 13, 2012 at 5:16 am #

    Here’s a great TED talk that discusses why Eccles was right and the important benefits that a strong aid, non-isolationist open trade policy in Europe have had on world prosperity:

    He thinks that we need to take a similar approach to other regions.

  66. outside the corridor
    November 14, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    Carl Youngblood, I tried to listen to Paul Collier, and he ‘lost’ me–

    I’m sorry; I just don’t see things that way–

    I don’t see things in as ‘black and white’ a frame as you do, apparently.

    This man is very collectivistic, and he’s also very naive; he seems to assume that governments have good will and are not infiltrated by secret combinations. He also seems to believe in the idea of American exceptionalism–

    The fact is that Europe is in trouble now; so is America.

    The reason that Nigeria is in trouble is because of tampering from the ‘west’–or from the global elite.

  67. Josh
    December 8, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    Thus the angels await the great command to reap down the earth and cleanse it with fire…or we can repent and be saved.

  68. Austin
    February 3, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    I appreciate you posting this whole letter, but probably for very different reasons than most of your readers. It was hard to find the full text since most people just cut and paste the parts the suit them best about how we need to fight the infiltration of Naziism etc. at home rather than abroad. But those pesky little ellipses omit the part where they argue that we shouldn’t get involved in WWII and that nothing positive will come of it. I appreciate a peaceful stance and wish the Church would get back to it a little bit more, but as President Hinckley discussed in General Conference in 2003, there are some fights worth fighting. WWII was certainly one and our prophets, with the benefit of hindsight, were wrong on that. Many lives were lost but it was in the pursuit of fighting an evil that did need to be stopped. It wasn’t enough just to stop it at our borders, as they advocate in this letter.

    It’s a good reminder that our leaders, inspired as they are, can speak things that aren’t entirely correct or prophetic when speaking for themselves rather than as mouthpieces of the Lord. Clearly, in this case, they were speaking for themselves. There are still valuable things to take away from this, but important to keep in mind that there were critical issues where history has proven them wrong. Important to keep in mind that this is valuable but definitely not doctrine. Just because it was their opinion that this would lead us down a dangerous path doesn’t mean it was so, the same way that it wasn’t necessarily so when they defied our involvement in WWII and said no good would come of it. This full text is very valuable.

  69. Brian
    September 17, 2014 at 11:09 am #


    I enjoyed this post. Thank you for your labor in bringing it to the forefront. Have you inquired of the LDS Church as to their willingness to respond to this letter and whether or not they will confim the authenticity?

    The current provenance of this letter that you included is sufficient to me, but there are many who wouldn’t accept this without that.

    I hope you are considering this. What say you?


  70. Ralph Hughes
    January 4, 2018 at 9:33 pm #

    January 2018 and I still occasionally refer to this letter.

    I am one who believes the United States was dragged into WW2 to save the Soviet Union from defeat and communism from being crushed.

  71. Lew Jeppson
    December 20, 2018 at 2:24 pm #

    I have long been aware of this material. It shows why socialists like myself are not welcome in the Church. Even democrats like my late mother, a devoted member, are not welcome.

  72. Brother F.T. Blunt
    November 24, 2019 at 9:48 am #

    2019.11: A lot has happened this last decade.
    The Prophets have spoken about this time, when it was safe for them to do so. The Church has always have a tenuous relationship with the secret combinations (swamp) operating within our Constitutional Republic.
    The Constitution is openly being attacked. Sedition to unseat our President. Corruption, murder, human trafficking, pedophilia, billions of dollars stolen or missing, things you can’t even imagine – you name it.
    I don’t ever recall sustaining the SLTrib, or hearing any GA endorse the media as a source of policy or even truth. Yet this media will scold their readers for not being socialist, or even democrat ‘enough’. There are too many conservatives in that there Mormon church, where our only interest is to humiliate and destroy anyhow.
    This only encourages passive-aggressive trolls who cry about not feeling welcome.
    Fifth Column sort of welcome, one might say.
    I knew a couple (and many more like them) who proudly proclaimed such pap, as well referring to themselves as ‘Mormon pagans’, socialists, liberals and other conflicting ideologies.
    They never missed a sliver of opportunity to accuse, criticize and then play the victim.
    While collecting on the hard work of others, of course.
    One time he even got on FB and attacked Pres. Monson for driving past our city and not stopping by for a visit, (and I suppose a big wet kiss). He wrote a very long attack on our Prophet for not personally validating his apostasy.
    When people criticize the Brethren for not endorsing their uninspired ideologies and following them off that cliff, they need to ask ONE QUESTION: Who needs who around here?


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