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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – Welfare, 1876

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood: Welfare, 1876.” You can view other years here.

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1876:  29 Jun.:  Opposition to relocation.

“In spite of ‘frequent opportunities’ for some of the poor to move to the country, Bishop Hunter noted in 1876 that ‘most of them are unwilling to go.'”  (Pace Diss., p. 278; also Bishops Meetings, 29 Jun., 1876)

1877:    18 Mar.:  Importance of rich giving to poor.

“Because God had endowed some with superior financiering abilities was no reason why those abilities should be exercised entirely for individual interests.  It was just as necessary that the financier should be willing to labor for the good of his less favored brethren, as it was that the rich man should devote part of his means to bless and cheer the hearts of the poor.  The prophet Joseph Smith had said that it was just as necessary for the rich to impart of their abundance for the rich relief of the poor, the widow and the fatherless of God’s people, as baptism was essential to salvation.  It was the right of every one of our Father’s family to possess a good house to dwell in, and to have sufficient food and raiment and at least enough conveniences and comforts to sustain life and make it desirable, so that the opportunity might be afforded all to develop themselves mentally as well as physically, realizing the full benefit of this our earthly probation.  Who, especially among the servants of God, would deprive his brother of this his right?”  (Lorenzo Snow, “Two days’ meetings at Fillmore,” 18 Mar., 1877; DN 26(10):146, 11 Apr., 1877)

19 Sep.:  Proper relief for the poor.

“The Hungarians of New York have been conferring together upon the best means to provide for the indigent of their nation in that city.  A mass meeting has been held, at which arrangements were made to establish a colony in the West for unemployed Hungarian artisans and laborers.  A committee of fifteen was appointed to carry the plan into practical operation.

This movement shows that the managers are blessed with good sense and a conception of true political economy.  They have hit upon the principle which should govern measures to provide for the poor.  Labor, not alms, is what the honest healthy worker desires.  To foster industry is better than to encourage pauperism.  And when the labor market is overstocked, wisdom suggests the removal of the overplus to regions where it is in demand, or where it can itself create opportunities for profitable exercise.

This is ‘Mormon’ policy.  It marked the course of our late President Brigham Young.  He despised a system which made men and women paupers.  His beau ideal of a true financier was one who dcould take the unemployed laborer from idleness, and set him to work in such a manner that while the employer was enriched the workman was properly sustained, and at the same time the community was benefited.  He carried out this idea in his own practice, and thereby gained the admiration of the thinking men of the world in every nation.

Almsgiving to the able-bodied is not true charity.  It makes people abject.  It maintains poverty while it temporarily alleviates suffering.  The shiftless poor may think more of the hand that bestows a gift than the head that directs them out of their dependence, for human nature exhibits many inconsistencies, but the true friend of the indigent is he who cures pauperism by destroying its cause and abolishing its necessity.  Open the way of the masses to remunerative industryk, and the great curse of the large cities of the earth, with much of the suffering and crime which are its consequences, will be swept away.

One of the chief recommendations to us of the system which is making such marked success in Brigham City, and is prospering at Bear Lake and other places where it has been inaugurated, is the general employment it secures.  At Brigham City no man, woman or child need say, ‘I am out of work.’  Satan finds no mischief there ‘for idle hands to do.’  The consequence is that city has no paupers.  It is also a moral city.  The vices of the age do not prevail there.  But order, which brings peace, and thus promotes happiness, is the social, civic and general characteristic of the place and the community.

In the divine plan of this Latter-day work, it is designed that employment shall be provided for all connected with it.  The idler is ‘not to eat the bread of the laborer.’  The clothing and adornment of the Saints is to be ‘the beauty of the workmanship of their own hands.’  And one branch of the priesthood is especially intended for the management of temporal things, with the view to the profitable industry of the whole people.  The Bishops find this within the scope of their powers and one of the duties of their important calling.  The lesser priesthood, under their direction, are required to assist in looking after the poor.  And there is no plan for the benefit of the poor which will compare with the establishment of home industries, by which all can find labor, all can be fed and clothed, and all can be placed on the road to that independence which every proper minded person desires.

Men of means will find this is the best method of doing good, and the surest road to honor and renown.  There is a conflict coming between capital and labor, the latter enforced by the unemployed, the wilfully idle, and the naturally lawless, which will shake the nation to its foundations, and of which the late strike and its terrors were only the shadow and the foretaste.  Utah should be exempt from the causes which lead to these social evils.  One of the glorious characteristics of the Zion of Enoch was the saying, ‘And there was no poor among them.’  This will also be said of the Latter-day Zion, when that union and order are established which we ardently hope for and expect; when the welfare of the community is sought in preference to individual aggrandizement, and the laborer joins with the employer for mutual good and the advancement and redemption of mankind.

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, administer to the aged and infirm, but do not encourage idleness and medicancy.  Rather provide labor for hands unengaged, and set every soul to work to build up the country, develop its resources and distribute its products, that none may suffer for food but the lazy, and pauperism with its attendant train of vices and crimes may be unknown through all the Stakes of Zion.”  (Editorial: “Proper Relief for the Poor,” DN 26(33):518, 19 Sep., 1877)

18 Oct.:  Don’t gather the poor who have incurable disease

“A Bishop’s meeting was held in the Council House, Salt Lake City, commencing at 7 o’clock p.m.  Bishop Edward Hunter presented the subject of emigration of the poor, and the indebtedness to the P.E. Fund, questioned the propriety of the elders bringing poor people afflicted with incurable diseases, and some were not members of the Church.”  (JH 18 Oct., 1877)

13 Nov.:  Relief Society wheat storage.

“Mrs. Emmeline B. Wells, Secretary of the Wheat Storing Committee issued the following notice to the sisters:

We desire the Relief and Retrenchment Societies that have wheat stored for Zion to report the same as soon as possible.  There are several Wards in the city that have not yet reported.  There will be a General Meeting on the subject of Storing Grain in the Council House, on Saturday, at 2 o’clock, Nov. 17.  We have been asking, through the Exponent, for these reports for some time, so that we could have sufficient time to get up a correct and concise estimate of all grain stored by these different organizations in the whole Territory.  We regret exceedingly that the Secretaries have been so slow in reporting.  It is certainly a subject which should not be forgotten.  An invitation is cordially tendered to those who wish to attend the meeting from the different branches of the Relief Society in the city, and near localities.  It is expected some of the brethren of the Twelve and of this Stake of Zion will be present on that occasion.

E. B. Wells.”

(JH 13 Nov., 1877)

1878:    9 Jan.:  Providing for the poor.

“When Jesus of Nazareth was questioned concerning his Messiahship, by certain persons claiming to have been sent by John the Baptist, among the sings he gave of the authenticity of his ministry was this–‘the poor have the gospel preached to them.’  On another occasion he said ‘the poor ye have always with you.’  In the restoration of the same gospel as the Savior preached of old, his sayings in relation to the poor might with propriety be repeated.  The poor hear and receive the gospel in far greater numbers than the rich.  As was said of the ancient Apostles so it may be said of the latter day Elders–‘the common people hear them gladly.’

The work of the gathering is identified with the preaching of the gospel in this dispensation, which is entitled the ‘dispensation of the fulness of times,’ and in which ‘all things in Christ’ are to be ‘gathered in one.’  The gathering of the poor, then, is as much a part of the duty required of the Elders as preaching the word and administering gospel ordinances.  Many of them have performed a splendid work in this respect.  In all the towns and settlements of Utah are numbers of people, many of them in very comfortable circumstances, who when the gospel found them in other lands were in a lowly, and some in an indigent condition.

But there are still thousands of the poor left in various parts of the world who strongly desire to gather with their brethren, and who have no hope of release except by assistance from Utah.  The Perpetual Emigration Fund was especially designed for their benefit, and the good work already accomplished by that wise measure we have every confidence will be continued until its purpose is fully achieved.

The question which arises in connection with this subject is, what shall be done with the poor after they are gathered?  The problem of poverty is one of the most important and vexatious subjects with which the statesman and the philanthropist are puzzled.  It is expected that in the coming Zion, which we are required to build up, the saying concerning the first Zion will be repeated, ‘There is no poor among them.’  In a proper condition of society no person will be allowed to suffer want.  Pauperism is a great evil.  It should not exist in Zion.  To banish it, opportunities for labor must be placed within the reach of all.  It is wrong to encourage idleness by feeding it without return.  Employment should therefore be found for every able person, old and young, male and female.

Here, it appears to us, and we say it with all respect, is an ample field for the energies, tact, judgment, enterprise and wisdom of the Bishops.  It is within the scope of their duties to provide for the poor.  It appears to us that this responsibility is placed upon them by the constitution of the Church and the order of the Priesthood.  One of the best features of the co-operative system in Box Elder County, in our opinion, is its provision of labor for all.  Something to do is in everybody’s reach.  Even the blind find profitable occupation.

When the poor from abroad are brought to this Territory, they are not unreasonable in expecting to find work to do in order to sustain themselves.  And if disappointed in this, are they unreasonable in anticipating assistance until they can obtain labor?  We think not.  If the cry of the poor, the widow and the fatherless ascends to heaven, the responsibility rests somewhere, and it is heavy and onerous.  Read Doctrine and Covenants, new edition, pates 158, 159, 168.

Relief to the poor should be rendered in all kindness, charity, sympathy and respect.  Assistance given likek throwing a bone to a dog, in a churlish manner or with a patronizing air of condescension, robs the gift of its garments of charity and humiliates where it should elevate and console.  Those who are rich and proud to-day may be poor and crushed down to-morrow, and how they would shrink from help extended in the attitude some now assume to the indigent!

In view of the dullness of the times and the scarcity of labor, some are short-sighted enough to question the propriety of gathering the extremely poor, the lame, the aged and the blind.  We would ask what is the object of the gathering?  Is it for the aggrandizement of the early settlers?  Is it merely for the temporal advantage of the people who are assigned here?  Should not the indigent and unfortunate have an opportunity afforded them of obtaining the blessings of the ordinances of the Lord’s House, as well as the healthy and prosperous?  Did not the old prophets talk of the lame, the halt and the blind traveling up to ‘the heights of Zion?’  Did not the Savior speak of going out into the highways and by-ways and ‘compelling’ just such persons to come it?  Have they no ancestors waiting behind the vail for their vicarious work in the Temples of the Most High?  Caring for them may be a responsible work, but it is a portion of the programme, and no one should shrink from performing his part or he may lose his share of the reward when the work is consummated.

Objections may be made that unworthy persons are gathered, and that many are indigent through their own faults and follies.  Exactly.  The ‘net’ was to gather of ‘every kind.’  And as to the latter objection hear the words of King Benjamin:

Ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.  Perhaps thou shalt say, the man has brough upon himself his misery, therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just.  But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent, and except he repenteth of that which he hath done, he perisheth for ever, and hath no interest in the Kingdom of God.

There should be no need in a community like ours, for any suffering through poverty, nor for any person to bet in the streets or from door to door.  The church policy makes provision for the support of the needy, and if its teachings are carried out mendicancy would be abolished.  It should not be encouraged at all.  There are officers appointed to care for the poor, and resort should be made to them, if they are in ignorance of the condition of the needy, and not to peripatetic solicitation.

Let the wise plan for providing employment for the laborer.  Let us make at home all we need for home consumption, at least.  Let industrial enterprises be started that our boys and girls may not remain idle.  Let the unemployed be set to work.  And if this cannot be fully done at once, take care that the worthy poor do not suffer for the necessaries of life.  Perform charities in brotherly kindness.  Bind up the broken-hearted, speak gently to the indigent.  Woe unto the lazy, who feed upon the industry of others!  Woe unto the canting deceiver, who pretends proverty with store on hand!  Woe unto the rich who grips tightly what God has given him and shuts his heart and his purse against the poor of the Lord’s people!  And woe unto him who would leaven in Babylon a faithful Saint, to linger in bondage, cut off from the ordinances of life and from laboring for the dead, because he is poor, or crippled, or blind or aged.  Let the gospel still be preached to the poor, and let the gathering go on, until all nations and tongues have heard the glad tidings, and unto Zion shall come those of every tribe and race, till the mountains shall ring with the praises of the delivered, and ‘the meek shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel!’  (Editorial, “Gathering and Providing for the Poor,” DN 26(49):774, 9 Jan., 1878)

21 Mar.:  Teachers to disburse Fast Offerings.

“A Bishops’ Meeting was held in the Council House in Salt Lake City, commencing at 6.30 p.m. . . .

Counselor Burton also spoke of the privilege of paying fast offerings for the benefit of the poor, and suggested the propriety of the Bishops appointing one of the teachers in their respective wards to disburse those funds, and keep a regular account of receipts and disbursements, and report the same to the bishops and priesthood of the ward when required.  This system had been adopted on some wards with good effect.”  (JH 21 Mar., 1878)

27 Jun.:  Large farms for care of the poor.

“A Bishops’ Meeting was held in the Council House, Salt Lake City, commencing at 7 p.m.

Speaking of the recent arrival of emigrants, Bishop E. Hunter said there had not been so much aid sent in from the wards for the emigration as he would have liked to see.  When our friends come in from the old country we should give them a hearty welcome.  He named a suggestion of Prest. J. Taylor that a farm over Jordan be purchased, with a suitable person to manage it where persons out of employ could at any time go and work for their board.  He wished the subject laid before the bishops.

Counsellor L. W. Hardy said he had for years entertained the idea that a large farm was the best thing to furnish ample accommodation for the poor.  One good man and his wife could superintend it.  Fast offerings received in each ward could be taken there to help support the poor.  One fire could warm quite a number of people, instead of each individual having a room and a fire, as most now had.

Counsellor D. O. Calder was much pleased with the project.  He suggested that a committee be appointed to inquire into the location, price, and quality of a farm, also as to water, etc. and report at next meeting.  Counsellor J. E. Taylor fully endorsed the proposal.  Bishop E. Hunter said he would place it in the hands of his counsellors to make all necessary enquiry.

Bishop S. A. Woolley admitted the necessity of the adoption of some means to aid the bishops in taking care of the poor, for since the number of calls for donations had so much increase, there had been a corresponding falling off in the offerings for the poor.  He also made several suggestions on what he considered were the causes of so many empty benches and so few persons attending our meetings.”  (JH 27 Jun., 1878)

24 Jul.:  “The True Method With the Poor.”

“The Hebrews have been holding a convention in Milwaukee.  Among others subjects discussed during its sittings, was the best means of providing for orphans and other persons who have to be susteained by the blessed hand of charity.  The Jews hit upon the true method of assistance to the indigent.  It was a plan to make them self-sustaining.

The sons and daughters of Judah are famed, the world over, for their care of the poor of their own race.  The cry of the widow and the orphan does not ascend to heaven in witness against the Jews.  A Jewish pauper is a rara avis in any country.  But money-giving is very seldom true charity to the recipient.  Those who earn what they eat and wear are more likely to be good citizens than any who are raised or supported in a mendicant spirit.

It was decided at the convention to take measures for the acquisition of an area of land in the West, on which the children reared and educated in the orphan asylums, and other persons dependent upon the Hebrew charitable associations for sustenance, or who have no means to enter into business, can be placed and thus become self-supporting.

This movement is worthy of imitation among the Christian denominations.  If Judaism inculcates benevolence, the teachings of Christ emphasize and enforce the doctrine.  But the disciples of Moses are more consistent than the professed followers of Jesus in this particular, for while ‘Christians’ allow their co-religionists to starve to death in no inconsiderable numbers, the despised Jews suffer no Hebrew to perish for lack of food or shelter.

The great problem of the times is the provision of remunerative labor for every able-bodied person.  This country is broad and capable of sustaining a vast population.  Millions of acres are yet uncultivated.  The Government has made liberal provision for the acquirement of homesteads.  But there are hosts of idle men and women, herding in the great cities of the land, who cannot go West and make themselves a home, simply for the lack of means to move, and the necessaries to exist upon while making, breaking, and reaping the fruits of a farm.

If much of the means now expended in eleemsynary gifts to the poor, were used under wise regulations for the transportation of industrious but laborless people to the uncultured prairies, and for their support while turning the wilderness into a fruitful field, a double good would be effected, for while the indigent would be placed on the path to independence, the country would be developed, and those who now hand as dead weights on the body politic would add to its strength and material riches.

The Jews have taken a step in the right direction, and the Gentiles would do well to follow in the road.  And we here suggest to all who wish the prosperity of Utah and the good of the people, who have any influence over the immigrants arriving in this city, that the best interests of the new-comers and of the Territory, will be subserved by their moving to and settling upon those districts in the country where there is a prospect for winning homes of their own.  If they endure a few hardships at the first, their experience will not be half so hard as that of the early settlers on the soil, and staying in the large towns, means continued dependence upon daily toil with a hand-to-mouth living, or dependence upon the industry of others.  The country is the place for the poor, they want to become anything but laborers for the rich.  Plant the indigent workman on the sparsely settled soil, and he will grow into a wealth-producer and a society strengthener instead of a clog upon which the wheels of material progress.”  (Editorial, “The True Method with the Poor,” DN 27(25):392, 24 Jul., 1878)

21 Aug.:  Work for all the Idle.

“One of the standing statutes in Ancient Israel required farmers to leave in their fields the gleanings of the gathered grain for the benefit of the needy:

And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest, thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger.  I am the Lord our God.  (Lev. 23:22)

This is one of the sections of the Mosaic code that are good for all time and suitable to nearly every place.  The land-owners of Utah, generally, keep the law so far as leaving in their fields a large quantity of grain is concerned.  For though the binder uses a rake, and machine reapers are close harvesters, considerable escapes both man and implement except when a ‘Header’ is used in gathering the crop.  But the poor and the stranger rarely avail themselves of their privileges.  How seldom is any gleaning done in the fields!  Yet there are a great many idle hands in the Territory, and quite a number of persons, of both sexes, depend for support almost entirely upon the aid obtained from the Bishops and donations furnished by the Relief Societies.

We write this for the benefit of the poor and unemployed.  The harvest in most parts of the Territory is over.  The sheaves are hauled into the stackyards.  And already the threshers are humming their songs of plenty and separating the wheat from the chaff.  But thousands of bushels of grain are lying scattered upon the ground.  To leave it there is shameful waste.  Not a head of wheat should be left to spoil in the fields.  Grain will be cheap this Fall, no doubt.  But unless we mistake the signs of the times it will be precious next year.  And many bins that will soon overflow, will look as forlorn in their emptiness as their owners who squander their breadstuff, before many months have slipped by into the shades of memory.

But be this as it may, an opportunity is now open for many families to obtain their winter’s bread without cost except the outlay of labor.  They may pick it up in the fields.  There are many idle men and women in this city, who talk as though they are anxious to work.  Let them take their children and go into the fields and glean.  Do they despise this method of gaining their bread?  If so they deserve to suffer for the lack of it.  Gleaning is far more honorable than pauperism.  The Divine law says, ‘If a man will not work, neither shall he eat.’  And every man and woman with proper feelings would sooner support themselves by individual exertion, than be dependent on Church or State for the necessaries to existence.

If those who are appointed to look after the poor will direct the able to the best places to glean, they will help the needy and benefit the public, and at the same time be the means of placing a great deal of the earth’s produce where it will do the most good.

In the whole farming region south of this city, as well as in places near the settlements throughout the Territory, there are opportunities to glean grain in abundance.  It will pay for picking up.  The backbone of the heated term is broken, and the mountain breezes temper the rays of the August sun.  All the unemployed, except the sick and feeble, may spend many days profitably in gleaning, without injury from exposure, and those who will not try to gather up something for their own support can have little lawful claim on the bounty of their brethren and the charity of the Church.  Glean!  Glean!  Glean!”  (Editorial, “Work for All the Idle,” DN 27(29):456, 21 Aug., 1878)

22 Aug.:  A farm for the poor.

“A Bishops’ Meeting was held in the Council House, Salt Lake City at 7 p.m. . . .

Counselor R. T. Burton stated that he had made several inquiries about land over Jordan, that would be suitable for a church farm, but he had heard of nothing so suitable as Feramorz Little’s farm, of over 500 acres, which, besides hay, cows, heifers, sheep, horses, wagons, utensils etc. could be had for [$]22,000.

Bishop E. D. Woolley was not favorable to the Church adding to its already large amount of property.  He preferred to sell some of its present property and pay its debts rather than incur new responsibilities.  Bishop Hunter favored the Church owning a farm near enough to the city to haul manure upon it, and be otherwise utilized for the benefit of the poor.

Bishop John Sharp preferred taking up government land at the government price to buying improved land at a price at which the Church could not possibly raise the interest on the purchase money.  Prest. A. M. Cannon advocated the economical policy.  Bishop E. F. Sheets said the Church had just purchased 2,200 acres of land, good land, in Cache Valley, which might answer for the poor to be sent to, and save further outlay. . . .

Counselor L. W. Hardy said this meeting had appointed him and Bro. Burton a committee to look out for a church farm, and they had reported the only offer that had been made to them but they did not expect that it would be taken up by the meeting.  He did not believe it right to send our poor to Cache Valley, but would prefer using a part of the Church farm here for that purpose.  Let us take charge of our por and make them as comfortable as we can.

Counselor D. O. Calder moved, and it was unanimously carried, that a committee of five be appointed by Bishop E. Hunter and counsel to take into consideration the whole subject matter of sustaining the poor of this Stake of Zion.

The following committee were then appointed and unanimously voted for:  L. W. Hardy, R. T. Burton, John Sharp, R. N. Morris, and E. D. Woolley.”  (JH 22 Aug., 1878)

3 Oct.:  Send to poor to the country.

“A Bishops’ Meeting was held in the Council House, Salt Lake City commencing at 7 p.m. . . .

Arrangements had been made to send into the country the poor who were willing to go.  He suggested that the poor in the various wards be looked after by their bishops respectably, instead of going to general tithing office.”  (JH 3 Oct., 1878)

14 Nov.:  Care of the sick.

“A Bishops’ Meeting was held in the Council House, Salt Lake City at 6:30 p.m. . . .

Counselor L. W. Hardy spoke of the heavy expense of the Church in taking care of the sick and the afflicted, from four to six dollars per week.  It would be well for the bishops to understand all such cases in their various wards and have arrangements made for them to be looked after to prevent imposition on the Church.  What the wards were unable to do Bishop Hunter would assist through the Tithing Office.”  (JH 14 Nov., 1878)

28 Nov.:  Cautions in giving aid to the poor.

“A Bishops’ Meeting was held in the Council House at 6.30 p.m.  The Clerk read the names of those who were receiving a weekly amount from the Tithing Office for taking care of the poor.

Bishop R. Brindley named an instance in his ward which he regarded as imposition.

Bishop J. H. Smith objected to any relief being afforded at the Tithing Store to any members of his ward, unless the ward was unable to supply their necessities and he sent a note to Bishop Hunter to that effect.

Counselor R. T. Burton said if more care was observed in refusing aid from the Tithing Store to persons applying, except on receipt of a few lines from their bishop, there would be fewer cases of imposition, and more satisfaction between Bishop Hunter and the Ward Bishops.

Bishop A. C. Pyper felt thankful this subject was being ventilated.  It was high time there was a better understanding between Bishop Hunter and the bishops of the various wards in the city.  He mentioned a case of gross imposition in his ward.

Bishop E. Hunter said it was not difficult at times to err on the side of mercy, but hereafter, when persons presented themselves for relief, they should be sent back to the bishops of the wards they lived in, for a few lines, before they obtained anything from the Tithing Office.”  (JH 28 Nov., 1878)

1879:    6 Feb.:  Care of the poor.

“Bishops’ meeting at Council House at 6:30 p.m.  Counselor L. W. Hardy presiding. . . .

He hoped the bishops would be kind and fatherly to their wards, so as to secure their confidence and respect.  Also to be attentive to the wants of the poor and when a bishop sends a note to the tithing office for relief of those the Ward could not supply, he always felt a pleasure in honoring those orders, but when an able bodied person came begging at the tithing office, he felt reluctant to deal out the sacred tithing of the people to such.  He realized that quite a responsibility rested on those who controlled the Lord’s stores.”  (JH 6 Feb., 1879)

10 Jul.:  Care of the poor.

“A Bishops’ Meeting for the Salt Lake Stake, was held in the Council House, Salt Lake City, at 7 p.m. Bishop E. Hunter presiding.  Bishop E. Hunter said another emigration of Saints was expected in a few days, and he desired that the Bishops or as many of them as was convenient, on the arrival of the emigrants at the depot to be present and render what aid was needed.  He also wished the hay tithing to be sent in, vegetables, lumber, etc.  He called for more carpenters to work on the Tabernacle.

Bishop A. C. Pyper remarked on the imperfect and unsatisfactory way the poor were provided for, as the bishops often found that with all the aid they could obtain from Relief Societies and fast offerings, yet they were insufficient to meet the increasing demand that is made upon them.

Bishop E. D. Woolley said the bishops were frequently complained of by other quorums for neglecting the poor, yet it was a notable fact that those who complained the most did the least towards sustaining the poor.  The subject was a difficult one to handle so as to give satisfaction all around, yet he thought if some of the surplus property of the Church was disposed of and used to assist the bishops, who were overburdened with poor, it would be far better than for it to go where it seemed to be drifting.

Several other speakers made remarks on the same subject.”  (JH 10 Jul., 1879)

7 Aug.:  Care of the poor.

“A Bishops’ meeting was held in the Council House, Salt Lake City, at 7 p.m. Bishop Edward Hunter presiding. . . .

Counselor L. W. Hardy remarked favorably of the bishops and counselors in looking after and taking care of the poor.  Some members of other quorums were in the habit of finding fault with the bishops for not taking proper care of the poor, but on examining the schedules he found that those who talked the loudest paid no tithing nor fast offerings himself.  He wished the bishops to look after those men, for no man deserved a standing in the Church who refused to honor those laws, which God had established.”  (JH 7 Aug., 1879)

16 Oct.:  Bishops should supply poor with fuel for winter.

“Bishops meeting at council House at 6 thirty p.m. Bishop Edward Hunter presiding. . . .

Counsellor L. W. Hardy said winter and cold would soon be here, there were many poor in the city, and all would need fuel to keep them warm.  The bishops should be able to supply them.”  (JH 16 Oct., 1879)

27 Nov.:  Poor should move to the country.

“A Bishops’ meeting was held in the Council House at 6 p.m. Bishop E. Hunter presiding. . . .

Counsellor L. W. Hardy remarked that he had visited many country wards since he last attended the meeting, and had found that there were not so many poor in the wards outside of the city as in the wards in the city.  He would encourage those who could move into the settlements, where they could be better cared for than they could be here.”  (JH 27 Nov., 1879)

1880:    8 Jan.:  Teachers to receive and disburse Fast Offerings.

“A Bishops Meeting was held at the Council House, Salt Lake City, commencing at 6 o’clock p.m. . . .

[Counselor Robert T. Burton] recommended the appointment of a teacher in each ward to receive and disburse fast donations, whose duty should be to keep correct accounts of all they received and to whom disbursed, so that the bishops and the Priesthood of the Wards could examine the accounts at any time they wished.”  (JH 8 Jan., 1880)

15 Apr.:  Our duty to provide jobs for the Saints.

“A Bishops Council Meeting was held in the Council House at 7 p.m. Bishop Edward Hunter presiding. . . . [Bishop Hunter] Those who had means should step forward and assist mechanics in establishing home industries and finding employment for the people.  He had assisted in starting several mechanical trades and the few thousand dollars he had thus invested had proved a blessing to others and no injury to himself.”  (JH 15 Apr., 1880)

19 Feb.:  Poor should resettle in the country.

“[Bishops’ Meeting, SLC] The first speaker was Bishop Edward Hunter, who touched upon the subject of the poor in cities, advising them to go into the country and get themselves homes, instead of remaining in the city where there was hardly work sufficient for those who were already settled.  The country offered the best chances for the poor man, while the city offered none at all.”  (Reprint of report of 20 Feb.; DN 29(4):57, 25 Feb., 1880)

20 May:  Opposition to relocation.

“[Bishop Elijah] Sheets still seemed to be trying to implement this safety-valve phiolsophy in 1880 when se stated that provision for housing in the country had been made for a brother, but that the man was unwilling to accept the arrangement.”  (Pace Diss., p. 279; also Eighth Ward Historical Record, 20 May, 1880)

1881:    18 Aug.:  Care of the poor.

“[SL Bishops’ Meeting] Elder John Alford made some very good remarks on the subject of the Poor House.  He had been a teacher in the Church for 15 years, and from his experience he believed that if the teachers were relieved of the necessity of collecting means for the poor, and could give the time occupied in visiting their districts, wholly up to spiritual duties, not only would they have more influence with the people, but in the centralization of the same means and efforts, for the relief of the needy, which would result from the establishment of this house, the poor would be still better cared for and donations for their relief be more abundant than ever.  Other speakers followed upon these and other subjects, corroborating what had been said, and giving additional views in relation thereto.  It was stated that the subject matter last mentioned was under consideration by the proper authorities, and the result might be anticipated with confidence.”  (Reprint of report of 19 Aug.; DN 30(30):473, 24 Aug., 1881)

1884:  26 Jun.:  Don’t “burden the ward with them.”

“The immediate matter at hand was a bill [Bishop Elijah] Sheets had received from the teacher of a ‘Day School’ requesting payment for the schooling of poor children.  Sheets counseled those present ‘that if they fetch people into the ward that are too poor to provide for themselves they should see that they are maintained and not burden the ward with them.’  Sheets’ counselor, Joseph McMurrin, remarked that no ward should be burdened disproportionately for the care of the poor, although he realized that poor people had as much right to choose which ward to reside in as rich people did.  He personally favored assisting any poor that he might bring into the Eighth Ward.  Bishop Sheets then explained ‘the difficulties that arise by allowing too many poor people to crowd into any ward without the bishop’s knowledge or consent.’  He thought that as bishop he had the right to make sure ‘that the ward was not imposed upon.’  Sheets attempted to clarify his position on the poor by arguing that he was not unfair to them.  He noted that he had instructed two brethren in the ward ‘never to deny anyone whenever they applied [for assistance] or it was known in any way that they needed help.'”  (Pace Diss., pp. 272-273; also Eighth Ward Historical Record, 26 Jun., 1884)

24 Dec.:  Care of the Poor.

“We are authorized by Bishop Preston to urge upon the Ward Bishops the necessity of looking after the wants of the poor among the people under their ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

The local organizations of the church are so complete that no case of destitution need escape its officers, if the latter will perform faithfully their duties in visiting among the people and ascertaining the status of their temporal circumstances where there is any reason for believing that help is required.  This charitable supervision should not be confined to members of the Church, the fact of actual distress being sufficient ground for aid, that none may go naked, cold nor hungry.

At the same time due care must always be exercised to prevent imposition by the unscrupulous, and economy should be used in the distribution of the means of relief.

When aid is tendered it should be given in a kindly spirit, and in such a manner as to take from it as much as possible the appearance of charity, that due regard may be paid to the feelings of all.  And it is in consonance with the mind of the Presiding Bishop that it is always desirable to find employment for the poor in preference to tendering them aid for whch they are unable to make any sort of return.  It is the highest form of philanthropy which places the indigent in a position to help themselves rather than to lean upon others for assistance independent of any exertion on their part.  Every evenue of employment for the poor who may be without work should be sought out and used to advantage.”  (Editorial, “Look After the Poor,” DN 33(49):777, 24 Dec., 1884)

“Of late the subject of helping the poor has been, in various ways, brought more than ordinarily before the public.  It is an interesting and important matter, demanding constant and unremitting attention.  In a land of plenty no human being should be destitute of food, fuel or clothing.  Isolated cases of distress from poverty may occur under the best regulated condition of society, but where numerous instances exist, or where the semi-destitute poor form a considerable class, it is an infallible indication of a screw being loose in the social structure.

We are sustained by facts that must be patent to every person in this community, that in no other part of the world of the same extent or population is there less distress occasioned by poverty than in Utah.  In the first place the community as a whole, although perhaps not specially wealthy, are comfortably situated, and so exact and far-reaching is the supervision over the people regarding their temporal necessities, that comparatively few instances occur of persons suffering for want of the means of sustaining life, and none need be in that situation, providing those who might be overlooked would make known their wants to the source from which assistance is obtainable.

By courtesy of Bishop W. B. Preston, with whom we lately conversed on this subject, we are enabled to present a few facts and figures that will probably prove of some interest to the general public, whose attention has been specially drawn to charitable matters of late.

The Relief Societies of the various Wards in this city have donated $1,816.60.  There has been received from fast offerings, $2,339.29, making a total of $4,155.89, which amounts have been received by the Bishops of the different Wards and distributed by them to the needy.

The Presiding Bishop has also distributed $13,3355.68 from the General Tithing Store for the same purpose, making the total amount disbursed to the poor in this city $17,511.57.

The Bishops of the various Wards outside of this city have received from the following sources, viz: Relief Societies, $5,072.22; from fast offerings, $10,253.96; making the total received by them $15,326.18, which amount they have distributed to the needy in their respective Wards.

The amounts paid out from the General Tithing Store is $29,366.42, making a total paid to the poor in the various Wards outside of this city of $62,203.57 for the year ending Dec. 15, 1884.

The following note has been addressed to the Bishops of the twenty-one Wards of Salt Lake City:

Presiding Bishop’s Office,

Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec. 19, 1884.

Bishop —-

Dear Brother–Will you be kind enough to send, Saturday or Monday next, a list of the heads of families of the poor of your Ward whom you think would feel thankful to get some fowls, etc., for their Christmas dinners.  Send a team for them and oblige.

Your brother in the Gospel,

Wm. B. Preston.

These facts and figures speak for themselves, and account to a certain extent for the comparatively comfortable condition of the whole people, and the fact that there are few if any cases of absolute want.”  (Editorial, “Charitable Methods,” DN 33(49):777, 24 Dec., 1884)

1884:  30 Sep.:  Assisting unworthy poor.

“Our attention has been called to the cases of impostors in New York, who have, in a most crafty manner, taken advantage of some of our citizens, by appealing to their sypathies for help.  The Emigration Agent of the Church in New York reports that he has received money from a resident of St. George to assist some persons, whose names and address in New York he has received, to emigrate to this Territory.  Another party, in Logan, whose sympathies were moved by similar appeals for help received from the same parties, sent money directly to their address through post office orders.  The agent has satisfied himself that these people are impostors, and that they are utterly unworthy of any sympathy or aid.  So far as doing good is concerned, one of our citizens who has been thus imposed upon might as well have thrown his money into the street.  Of course the money sent to the agent at New York will not be lost to the sender; but that sent from Logan has fallen into the hands of the frauds who conceived the trick.

The exercise of a little good jugdment would save anyone from being duped in this manner by such appeals as these.  Upon receipt of such letters asking for aid, every one acquainted with the rules of our Church should know, if they give the subject any reflection, that such persons as the writers, if they were what they pretended to be, would be known to the Church Agent of Emigration at New York or to the President of the Branch.  Before responding, therefore, and furnishing the aid asked for, a letter should be sent to one or other of the parties named, to learn whether the representations made are genuine or not.  Failing to do this, a party receiving such a letter should at least reply, (if he should wish to do anything in the matter,) requesting the writer to obtain the endorsement to his or her statement of the President of the Branch or the Church Emigration Agent.  This would prevent fraud, and would be a guaranty of good faith that no honest, right disposed persion could object to.

One of the evils which results from the indiscriminate bestowal of charity, is, that worthy persons, who deserve and would appreciate help, are deprived of the assistance which they merit, and the means is wasted upon others who are unworthy of it, and who, when they receive it, put it to a bad use.”  (Editorial, “Assisting Unworthy People,” DN 34(36):581, 30 Sep., 1885)

24 Dec.:  Remembering the Poor.

“Remembering the Poor.–The Bishops of the various Wards throughout the city and the good sisters of the Relief Society organizations are as buisy as bees to-day, and have been for several days past, receiving contributions from the wel-to-do and generous hearted and distributing the same among the needy; and it is safe to predict that to-morrow will be a day of feasting even with the poorest of the poor.  Not alone are those of the indigent who are ever ready to make their wants known supplied by these lessed ministers of mercy and charity, but they take pains also to hunt up the obscure and retiring who are in want–those whose pride prevents them from making their real condition known, and they are all relieved in the most delicate manner possible.  Those whose poverty is the result of sickness or such misfortunes as were beyond their control, and liable to befall anybody, and those also, who through their own mismanagement, indolence, prodigality or dissipation are reduced to want, are alike remembered at this season of the year, and so far as possible their wants are supplied and their hearts made glad.  Nor are the kindly offices of these dispensers of good things mentioned confined to those of their own kinship, creed or color; the assurance that persons are in need is the passport to their sympathy and generosity–the key that unlocks their treasures of creature comforts.

One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin.

The object is to relieve distress, to lighten sorrow, and to bring joy to the hearts of the poverty-stricken, whether worthy or unworthy, friend or foe, at least for a time; and whether the generosity be responded to with gratitude and friendship or not, the worthy donors have their reward already in the consciousness of the unselfish giving for a worthy object, and they will yet have a greater one, for ‘He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.'”  (Reprint of report of 24 Dec.; DN 34(50):796, 24 Dec., 1885)

1886:    3 Nov.:  Relief of the poor.

“We have lately seen a financial exhibit which has directed our thoughts in a channel that should be of deep interest to the Saints.  It is a compiled statement of the reports of the Wards of all the Stakes of Zion of the receipts of offerings for the poor, and those of the Ladies’ Relief Societies for the same purpose.  It shows those operations for a period of six months.

The system of giving aid to the needy is for each Ward and Stake to forward to the General Tithing Office in this city an estimate of the amount needed for the ensuing half year from the Tithing fund in excess of the local contributions.  The reports show several peculiarities that should be abolished.  One of these is the exceedingly large amount of aid called for in excess of the contributions made in the Wards and Stakes for the purposes indicated.  Nor is this all: in some instances the receipt columns for local offerings for the poor are a total blank, both under the head of fast donations and Relief Societies.  But there is, in some of those instances, no omission for the column provided for an sxhibit of the sum needed from the General Tithing fund, which is thus made to do the whole duty of sustaining the poor in those particular localities.  The Presiding BIshopric are diposed to give all the aid necessary for the relief of the needy from the means at their disposal for that object and make a liberal use of it for that purpose.  But it is not creditable to the Saints who are well-to-do, and especially to the presiding officers in the Wards and Stakes, that the important subject of offering should be overlooked altogether, or at best only faintly recognized.  It would indicate on the face of the matter that in those Wards or Stakes whose reports are blanks that there are no poor among the people of those particular sections.  We will here remark that such a condition as the utter absence of people needing substantial relief of any kind is almost past belief.

It may be asked: ‘Is it not legitimate to supply the wants of the poor from the Tithing fund?’  Certainly.  And it is liberally applied for that purpose, and there are numerous ways in which they receive its benefits besides the mere relief of immediate creature wants.  But that has no special bearing upon the tendering of offerings for a special purpose.  Tithing is a law of the Gospel, and has been in all dispensations.  Being a matter of rule, it is no more creditable to a man in reality to obey it than to be baptized for the remission of sins, or to comply with any other ordinance.  There is no compulsion regarding it, but he is a poor apology for a Saint who does not willingly and conscientiously conform to it.  It does not indicate any special generosity; it is the performance of a simple duty.

In relation to offerings, it is somewhat different.  In them the man displays the character of his soul–whether it be expansive or contracted.  If he merely conform to a stiff rule of the organization, and has not heart enough to accept the invitation extended by the Lord in the matter of offerings to the poor, he may be a good tape-line Saint, who regulates the good he does by the square and rule, but the generous, whole-souled spirit of the true disciple is not in him.  When the test of feeling down into his pockets without being prompted by exact measurement-obligation is applied, he doesn’t dig deep, and shows that he is pretty much of a framework Saint, having taken on the skeleton of the Gospel, minus the comely covering which constitutes the whole religious body, animated by the active moving spirit within.

Such showings as those referred to are indications of the condition of the people–allowing always for their temporal circumstances.  They are still stronger as pointers regarding the quality of the presiding officers.  In those blank Wards referred to, even they have failed to donate a dime to the support of the poor.  If they are thus neglectful, what can reasonably be expected from the people?  Those men in positions of responsibility, who think that the genius of presidency in a holy calling consists of attending publid meetings, sitting on the stand with their hair brushed up, assuming a dignified demeanor, going out from thence and forgetting all about their duties–both temporal and spiritual–in looking to the wants of their flocks, will wake up some fine morning and find themselves short when they are called upon to give an account of their stewardships.  Talking is also good in its place, and especially if it is of the right kind–the other kind is never in place–but when it has no backing by works there is considerable hollowness in it.  Above all it should be remembered that wind is poor provender upon which to feed the hungry, and is chilly comfort to the naked.  When we hear it whistle we feel tempted to exclaim, Let us go and do something.

Those Wards–there are quite a number of them–from which there is no showing upon the exhibit referred to in relation to the Ladies’ Relief Societies, are in one of two conditions in that regard.  Either those organizations have no existence there or they are practically if not totally dead.  The Prophet Joseph made no mistake when he gave the organization its name.  Neither do we apprehend that Sister E. R. Snow Smith and her leading associates at the head of it have made any error in their teachings in that regard.  Those societies are what their names imply or they are nothing.  The intent was to constitute in them an aid to the Priesthood, in caring for the poor and succoring the distressed, comforting the sick and the afflicted.  These operations require the receipt and expenditure of means.  Tender woman is much more adapted for an office of that kind, in some of its phases, than sterner man.  It is a heavenly mission to alleviate distress.  It should be well and intelligently done.  The ladies can do much good, and do do it, not only to the poor, but to all classes, especially in the matter of sickness.  The more intelligent among them should see to it that it is done properly, particularly in families where there is bodily ailment and consequent distress.  Encouragement should be tendered and a spirit of cheerfulness diffused.  In place of this some have the unhappy faculty of helping to drive faith out of a house by telling how many people of their acquaintance have died from the particular disease from which the visited patient happens to be suffering, and other conversation of a gloomy complexion.

A good deal of attention is being bestowed upon the operations of the enemies of the Saints who are seeking their overthrow and destruction.  This is well enough in its way.  But it is also needful that the Saints begin to look more closely to their own condition, and mend their methods.  A little–or a good deal of–genuine practical repentance in relation to duties of the most ordinary character, is in order.  If this is attended to there will be a cultivation of strength within that will enable the people the more effectually to withstand the assaults of the evil disposed from without.”  (Editorial, “A Plea for the Poor and Afflicted,” DN 35(42):662, 3 Nov., 1886)

6 Jul.:  A standing duty to the poor.

“‘The poor ye have with you always.’  This saying of the Savior like many of his brief words of wisdom has come to be an adage.  It carries with it the color of an obligation.  It implies a perpetual earthly duty.  If there will always be poor people, there will always be the need of alms.  While there is a soul suffering from lack of necessaries, the supplied disciples of Christ are required to impart of their substance to relieve the distress.

Provision for the wants of the poor is one of the established institutions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The tithing of its members is to be used, in part, to succor the needy.  The Bishops and Teachers are specially required to see that no one within their jurisdiction suffers lack.  Throughout all the Stakes of Zion this is recognized as an essential part of the polity of the Church.  In no section of the world of the same extent is there so little real poverty as in the Territory of Utah, and this is because of the organized methods existing for the support of those who are unable to support themselves.

This is a matter of congratulation, and, considering the large numbers of people who are brought here from the toiling masses of the Old World, it is not a little remarkable.  In the first place the policy here is to afford the industrious an opportunity of self-sustenance.  Industry is a recognized ‘Mormon’ virtue.  ‘A lazy Mormon’ is a phrase involving self-contradiction.  When individuals through are, accident, sickness or any infirmity are unable to supply their own needs, and relatives are unable or unwilling to support them, they have claim on their co-religionists and the Church of which they are members.  It is no degradation to receive necessary assistance, but it is a disgrace to shirk labor and eat the bread of benevolence in voluntary idleness.

One of the regular methods of obtaining means for the especial benefit of the poor is the monthly fast offering.  On the first Thursday of every month a fast is observed by the faithful Latter-day Saints, when all who can do so are expected to assemble in their respective wards for prayer and praise, for testimony and instruction.  A free will offering is expected of at least the amount, in value or in kind, of the food that would have been consumed by the individual or the family if the fast had not been observed.  President Brigham Young used to say that those who did not observe the fast on that day ought to contribute double the amount of food they consumed.

This is the kind of fast that God approved in olden times, as may be seen from many passages in ancient scripture.  It is that which He enjoins upon His people in the latter days.  How many of the Saints observe it ‘according to the spirit and meaning thereof?’  There are some who are just as particular to make their offerings as they are to observe the fast.  There are others who keep the latter but forget or neglect the former.  And there are many who omit both.  Statistics tell the tale.  Figures expose the facts.

We have been permitted to look over a tabulated report of the Tithing Department, showing the amounts received in the various Wards from public sources for the benefit of the poor, and the amounts of relief asked of that Department to make up deficiencies.  From this we learn that during the half year just ending there have been paide for the poor in the various Wards and Stakes of Zion: From fast offerings, $10,640.29; from the Ladies’ Relief Societies, $6,811.91; from other sources (donations from sundry individuals) $4,297.34; making a total of offerings for the poor during the past six months of $21,749.57.  This, it should be understood is exclusive of private benevolence and of amounts given from the tithing.  The number of persons reported needing regular support is 4,937 and the sum asked of the Presiding Bishopric to be appropriated from the Tithing Fund in addition to these regular donations is $25,432.62.  Put the two gross amounts together and we have a grand total for the poor during the past six months of $47,182.19.  This, exclusive of county and city charities, and of private benevolence in which ‘the right hand knoweth not what the left hand doeth,’ is not a bad showing as purely Church help for the poor of Utah.

But the amount demanded of the General Tithing Fund to meet requirements in the respective Wards is quite disproportionate to the sum of the fast offerings.  And these certainly do not represent the value of the food consumed in six days by the members of the Church.  A little reflection will show that either many of the Saints neglect their fast offerings, or that they do not donate according to the rule.  Tithing help is required from some of the Stakes in sums from three to eight times the total of the fast offerings.  One Ward in the south received $14.72 fast donations and asks for $250.00 from the tithing.  One Ward in a stake east of this city reports no donations whatever for the poor, and asks for $50.  Two or three populous towns report very small fast offerings and ask for large amounts for the poor, showing that while there is help required it does not come from the neighbors of those in need.  Several Wards make no reports at all, others report ‘No poor and no donations.’

This is all wrong.  If we desire to observe the monthly fast in the right spirit, our fast offerings should be given for the poor.  If we only abstain from one meal, the food or its value in something else available, which should be donated, would be sufficient to sustain the regular dependents upon Church support with little or no demand upon the Tithing Fund.  Let persons familiar with the statistics of their own Wards figure on this, and see how near a regular, honest fast offering from every self-supporting household would come to supplying the needs of the poor of the neighborhood.

It is quite a mistake to think that because in a certain Ward there are no persons needing aid for their support, no fast offerings should be collected.  Such a Ward in our opinion ought to show up larger on the list than a poorer Ward.  The support of the poor must not be sectional.  The means collected in a Ward that has no poor, should be disbursed in a neighboring or other Ward where the poor abound.  The obligation in reference to the poor is not obliterated by local lines or lessened by Ward peculiarities.  The poor of the whole Church are to be helped and the ‘stranger within our gates’ should not be neglected.  This matter should come home to each individual family and member of the Church, and past neglect ought to be remedied by future action.  The Lord has said to His Church:

For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

Therefore if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my Gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell being in torment.–D&C p. 370.

And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor ye will do it unto me.–p. 171.

It was one of the characteristics of the Zion of Enoch when it arrived at its perfection, that ‘there was no poor among them.’  This will be the situation again in Zion when it is prepared for the presence of the Redeemer, like a bride adorned for her husband.  But now we have the poor always with us, and we shall have until the heavenly order is established on earth.  And the duty of those who have to administer to them who have not is a binding obligation, and there is no more appropriate manner of imparting general help, apart from tithing and private charity, than by the monthly donations on fast days which form an essential part of the acceptable worship of those occasions.  Do not forget the poor!”  (Editorial, “A Standing Duty,” DN 36(25):390, 6 Jul., 1887)

12 Oct.:  Care of the poor.

“As the winter season is approaching, it is proper that each Bishop and his Counselors should take the necessary steps to properly care for the poor who live in their wards.  They should call the Relief Societies to their aid in this labor.  The reasonable wants of the poor should be supplied and the pangs of poverty and destitution should be averted.  God has greatly blessed us in the fruits of our fields and gardens, in our flocks and herds, and in giving us comfortable habitations and means to sustain ourselves, and we should always remember the words of the Apostle James: ‘Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.’

While it has always been the policy of our people to encourage industry and to repress idleness in every form, and to expect all persons to contribute, according to their ability, to their own support; still there are many cases where the aged and the infirm, or the unfortunate, cannot, with the utmost exertion and economy, obtain through their own labors sufficient to sustain themselves.  It would be a great evil among us to encourage any class in living upon the benevolence of the community.  No system of begging should be permitted.  Those able to work should be furnished employment.  Persons who are properly disposed will be glad to obtain it in preference to beng fed with the bread of charity; and all should be encouraged to labor according to their strength.  This policy, if wisely pursued will prevent pauperism, develop self exertion and confidence, and produce self-respect.  It is a cause of great pleasure to think that beggary is unknown throughout our settlements.  There is no need for anyone, however destitute, to publicly solicit alms.  But while this is the case, the sensitive and those who shrink from asking aid, who conceal, in some instances, their poverty, should be carefully looked after by the Relief Societies under the direction of the Bishops of the wards, so that there may be no individual in any of our wards suffering for the want of food or any other article necessary to sustain or preserve life.  The community whose hearts are open to the cries of distress, who are ready to administer of the substance which the Lord gives them to relieve their fellow creatures, may always depend upon the favor of the Lord, for he loves those who are kind to their fellow-men, and who administer to their necessities, whose hearts are tender, and who readily respond to applications of this character which are made upon them, or who anticipate them by giving freely to the destitute.

In some of our wards there is not proper care taken in the collection of the fast offerings of the people.  The first Thursday in the month has been set apart in the Church as a day of fasting and of prayer.  That day should be strictly observed.  Fast offerings should be brought with a liberal hand to the Bishop of each ward, that he may be prepared to supply those who are dependent upon the ward for sustenance.  Some wards require considerable aid from the Church to help sustain their poor, because their own fast offerings do not supply them; while sometimes in the same Stake there are other wards where there are few, if any, dependent poor.  Presidents of Stakes should make arrangements with the Bishops of the last named wards to transfer their fast offerings to the Bishop of some contiguous ward which has more poor within its borders than its own fast offerings will supply.  In this way all the people can have an equal opportunity of doing their duty to the poor.”  (“An Epistle to the Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” by Wilford Woodruff, “in behalf of the Council of the Twelve Apostles;” DN 36(39):616, 12 Oct., 1887)

1889:  3 Jan.:  “The reason why they flock in.”

“In 1889 [Bishop Elijah] Sheets told the teachers, perhaps with some sarcasm, ‘we must be doing better to the poor than others; hence the reason why they flock in.'”  (Pace Diss., p. 273; also Eighth Ward Historical Record, 3 Jan., 1889)

1894:  1 Dec.:  The care of the poor.

“One of the causes which led to some of the early persecutions is thus described by the Lord in a revelation which was given after the Camp of Zion had reached Fishing River, in Missouri:

But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I reuired at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil: and do not impart of their substance, as becometh Saints, to the poor and afflicted among them.

This was said in reference to the Church, and not individuals.

A careful reader of the revelations which the Lord gave through the Prophet Joseph, and which are embodied in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, must be impressed with the importance which the Lord attaches to the feeding and caring for the poor.  He announced very early after the organization of the Church that–

It shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my Prophets, shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my Gospel among the Gentiles, unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel.

The Lord declared that it was His design to provide for His Saints and to exalt the poor, and He said:

For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare: yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion according to the law of my Gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.

Other quotations might be made to show the design of the Lord concerning the poor and the obligation which rests upon those who have means to provide for them, that there shall be no suffering among His children.  He claims all things as His.  He says He stretched out the heavens, and built the earth as a very handy work, and all things therein are His.  All His children have claims upon the elements for their sustenance.  He has told us that there is enough and to spare, and none need go destitute.  

The Lord’s words upon this subject ought to be taken to heart by every member of the Church of Christ.  We have fast days appointed, the first Thursday in each month.  This is or ought to be observed throughout the Church.  Upon that day every family should contribute, according to its ability, for the sustenance of the poor.  But it is evident, from all the reports that come in to the First Presidency, that this important duty is terribly neglected by the Latter-day Saints.  If it were observed as it should be, there would be sufficient provided for the sustenance of all the poor in the Church.  But the truth is that instead of the poor being provided for in this way, the Trustee-in-Trust of the Church is called upon to make appropriations amounting to $30,000 for six months, making a total of $60,000 for the year, all for the support of the poor.  It is estimated that if each member of the Church would pay seven cents every month, there would be means enough to support the poor without calling upon the Trustee-in-Trust for appropriations for this purpose.  It certainly is wrong for us to neglect this command of the Lord concerning the poor.  Those who do this cannot expect the blessing which the Lord has promised.  He has said that ‘he that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again.’  All who are strict in doing this testify that they are blessed for it, and it is no loss to them to be kind to the poor and to remember them in the midst of the abundance, more or less, which the Lord has given them.

It is only of recent years that these calls for appropriations have been made upon the Trustee-in-Trust.  It is a new fashion that has grown up among us.  Formerly every ward provided for its own poor, or nearly so at least.  There may be wards in Stakes where the poor are so numerous that it would be burdensome for the people of the ward to furnish them all that they need; but by a proper arrangement between the Bishops and their Stake Presidency, the wards that have but a few poor in their midst can assist by their donations in helping out the wards that have a larger proportion of dependent people within their borders.

This is a subject that should receive attention from the Latter-day Saints.  Our children should be taught to remember the poor, and when fast day comes around, to think of them, and to collect that which can be spared for their relief.  If children are taught to do this, they will grow up charitably disposed and think that there is some obligation resting upon them to care for the wants of others, and not be so selfish in their feelings that all their thoughts will be for themselves and those immediately connected with them.”  (George Q. Cannon, JI 29(23):729-730, 1 Dec., 1894)

1896:  14 Feb.:  Heavy welfare burdens.

“Robert T. Burton, of the Presiding Bishopric, wrote Bishop Nelson Empey about a woman with seven children, who needed some assistance.  In asking Bishop Empey to have his teachers look into the case, Burton acknowledged the heavy welfare responsibilities Empey faced in caring for the poor.  ‘We are well aware that you are much overburdened with this class of people, yet they are human beings and in our midst and we cannot allow them to suffer.’  Burton informed Empey that the woman would be provided with enough fuel to assist her until Empey could learn more concerning her needs.”  (Pace Diss., p. 272; also Presiding Bishopric Collection, 14 Feb., 1896) 

1897:    25 Sep.:  Welfare:  The Industrial Bureau.


Not much has been said in public, nor in the public prints, about the Industrial Bureau, which was inaugurated in this city recently; and yet it is one of the most important economic enterprises ever launched among the Latter-day Saints.  Indeed, if it meets with the support it ought to receive, its benefits will compare with those that have attended the system of co-operation in mercantile business which was established under the direction of President Brigham Young.

With a view to making a channel of communication between members of the Church who are seeking employment, homes, lands, etc., and other persons in a position to furnish the same, an organization at once simple, complete and admirable has been devised and practically perfected by a committee appointed for this purpose by the First Presidency of the Church, pursuant to action taken by a Priesthood meeting held in connection with the general conference of the Church last April.

This organization embraces a bureau in each Stake, the headquarters of which are usually in the office of the Stake tithing department, and a Central bureau having its headquarters in the office of the Presiding Bishopric in this city.  Each Bishop in every Stake is provided with blanks, which, when properly filled out, will show all the idle labor in the ward, sex, trade, kind of employment and wages desired, etc.; also the same particulars regarding labor that could be furnished with employment in the ward; also what opportunities the ward can offer to persons seeking homes, lands, openings for investment, etc.

The Bishops fill out these blanks and file them with the Stake bureau, where they are examined and compared, and where an effort is made to meet within the Stake, as far as possible, all the wants arising within it.  This done, the Stake bureau reports to the Central bureau what labor it has which cannot find employment within the Stake, and also what demands the Stake has for labor which cannot be supplied from its own wards.  The Central bureau is thus made a depository of detailed information from all the Stakes of Zion, concerning the surplus labor and openings for employment, etc., in every one of them.  It is thus in a position to show those seeking work, homes, farms, etc., where the same may be obtained.

A more admirable organization or a more beneficent movement could not well be conceived of.  In its mechanism and purpose it is worthy of the Zion of the latter days, and is in the strictest sense in line with the spirit of temporal and eternal salvation, fdor which Zion has been established.  Let any man familiar with the lack of employment and consequent distress that have prevailed for several years past in the larger towns of this State reflect uopn the relief to the poor this organization is capable of effecting, and he will be ready to praise, in the highest terms, the inspiration that led up to it.

But the good that might be accomplished is being reduced and retarded by the neglect of Bishops and Stake bureaus to forward reports.  In some of the Stakes the Bishops at once applied themselves to the filling out of the blanks that had been sent to them and filed them with the Stake bureau.  The latter was therefore able to report with reasonable promptness to the Central bureau in this city, which has thus been enabled to point hundreds of families to localities where they could obtain employment and homes.  The amount of good that the organization has done in the three months of its existence and with only a few Stake bureau reports is surprising and in the highest degree encouraging.

Now if all the Bishops in all the Stakes would make the necessary reports to the Stake buireaus, and if these would in turn promptly report to the Central bureau, an amount of good would result, so great that it would be hard to estimate.  The wards that need a blacksmith, carpenter, shoemaker, school teacher, music teacher, or any other kind of labor; or that desire to be strengthened by new settlers, could have their wants supplied; while the wards in the populous Stakes that have an overplus of labor would be relieved.  Thousands of persons who depend wholly or in part upon charity for their support could be made self-sustaining and consequently happy.  And how easily all this can be accomplished!

Just now the Central bureau in this city can furnish to any of the Stakes desiring it a large amount of labor of all kinds, especially carpenters, a large number of whom it has on its lists.  It can also furnish a large number of families who would like to till land on shares, and wards and Stakes that have farming lands to let on shares ought to make the particulars known without delay.  The families who seek this kind of employment usually have little means, and will work on favorable terms where the land, teams, implements, etc., are furnished.  Farmers who have more land than they can cultivate should report to their Bishops.

One thing should be remembered: The laborers furnished through this organization are Latter-day Saints.  They have obeyed the Gospel and have gathered to Zion to serve the Lord, and hence, in point of honesty at least, are equal if not superior to the best laborers in the world.

In a spirit of kindness, and of sympathy for the manifold labors that pertain to the Bishops’ office, the ‘News’ expresses the hope that they will, in all the Stakes of Zion, be diligent in cooperating with the Industrial bureau, by filling out its blanks from time to time, and filing them with the Stake bureau.  Byi so diong they will relieve the needs of their own wards, reduce the number of persons drawing support from the tithing office, Relief society, etc., increase among the poor a spirit of manly independence, make weak places strong, and aid wonderfully and in many ways in building up Zion, both temporally and spiritually.”  (Deseret Evening News, 25 Sep., 1897; in JH 25 Sep., 1897)

1899:  6 Apr.:  Importance of fast offerings.

“You will find, if you stuedy closely the revelations of God found in the Book of Covenants, that a great amount of space is devoted to the poor.  We are reminded of them continually; that we shall divide our substance with them.  The fast day has been instituted, in part, for that purpose.  It has been estimated that if the entire people of the Latter-day Saints would give to the poor the value of the two meals that they refrain or should refrain from partaking of upon that day, the poor of this church would be well provided for.  But, let me tell you, this is not done; at least, it is not done in our Stake, and I presume it is not done in other Stakes.  I have sometimes thought it would be an excellent thing to revive the custom of early days, in sending to the various families in the ward and gathering up their fast offerings; for the Bishops of the Church well know that the people many times have offerings to make that they cannot very well carry to the fast meeting, and by sending around and reminding the people of this duty, a great amount of good can be accomplished.  I have recommended this to the Bishops in the Boxelder Stake, and where they have carried out this counsel most excellent results have followed.  This is a matter of vital importance.  If we neglect the poor, God will neglect us.  We must look after them.  Those who are so highly favored must divide their substance with them.”  (Rudger Clawson, CR Apr., 1899, pp. 4-5, 6 Apr., 1899)

6 Apr.:  The county shouldn’t have to take care of poor.

“If we turn the poor off, peradventure the Lord will turn us off, for He said: ‘The poor ye have always, but me ye have not always.’  I do not believe we can afford to turn the poor off on the county for support.  I believe if the Latter-day Saints would turn their ear to the Lord and listen to the counsel of His servants that there would be means provided in all the settlements of the Saints to provide for the poor.  They should not be turned on the Church either for support, but they should be provided for as the Lord has directed.  It is my firm conviction, coupled with my experience, that if the poor were properly looked after in every ward and the people were particular to understand the necessities of the poor, every ward (there may be some exceptions) could support its poor without turning them on the county or Church for support.”  (Marriner W. Merrill, CR Apr., 1899, pp. 14-15; 6 Apr., 1899)

1903:  16 Jul.:  Socialism vs. United Order.

“[Meeting in the Temple]  There was a little informal talk regarding Socialism and the United Order.  It was remarked by one of the brethren that the claim is made by many Socialists that the acceptance of the doctrines of Socialism would lead to the introduction of the United Order.  It was asserted by one of the brethren that the Socialists have many sympathizers among our people.

Pres. Smith said that there was no power on earth that could possibly establish the United Order–this could only be done by the power of God, after selfishness is eliminated from our natures.”  (Rudger Clawson diary, 16 Jul., 1903)

1907:  Aug.:  Policy on relief for the poor.

“For the benefit of the poor we have the fast instituted, a leading object of which, among other things, is to provide the poor with food and other necessities, until they may help themselves.  For it is clear that plans which contemplate only relieving present distress are deficient.  The Church has always sought to place its members in a way to help themselves, rather than adopting the method of so many charitable institutions of providing for only present needs.  When the help is withdrawn or used up, more must be provided from the same sources, thus making paupers of the poor, and teaching them the incorrect principle of relying upon others’ help, instead of depending upon their own exertions.  This plan has made the Latter-day Saints independent wherever they have settled.  It has prevented a constant recurring of calls for help, and established permanent conditions by which the people help themselves.  Our idea of charity, therefore, is to relieve present wants and then to put the poor in a way to help themselves, so that in turn they may help others.  The funds are committed for distribution to wise men, generally to bishops of the Church, whose duty it is to look after the poor.

We submit the equitable fast-day plan of the Lord to the churches of the world as a wise and systematic way of providing for the poor.  I say equitable, because it gives an opportunity for the contribution of much or little, according to the position and standing of those who contribute; and besides, it helps both the giver and the receiver.  If the churches would adopt a universal monthly fast-day, as observed by the Latter-day Saints, and devote the means saved during the day to the alleviation, blessing and benefit of the poor, and with a view fo helping them to help themselves, there would soon be no poor in the land.”  (Joseph F. Smith, “The Message of the Latter-day Saints on Relief for the Poor,” IE 10(10):832, Aug., 1907)

1913:    Surplus fast offerings/role of Relief Society in Welfare.

“The first Sunday in the month is set apart as a day of fasting and prayer.  Upon this day the Saints should remember the poor and make contributions for relieving their necessities.  It is the duty of the Saints to make their offerings even though there be no poor in the ward to which they belong.  In wards where the fast offerings are not needed for the poor, they should be remitted to the Presiding Bishop’s Office.  In wards where the fast offerings and Relief Society assistance are not sufficient to keep the worthy poor from want, the bishop may apply to the Presiding Bishopric for assistance from the tithing funds.  All charity funds should be used exclusively for assisting the worthy poor as the bishopric may determine.  If a person drawing assistance is able to do something towards his own support, however small, he should be encouraged to do so, and the bishopric should endeavor to provide him with employment suited to his capacity or condition.

The Relief Society of each ward should be invited to co-operate with the bishopric, so that both will have a knowledge of the persons who are being assisted.  The society should furnish the bishopric with a quarterly report of all payments made to the worthy poor.”  (Circular of Instructions No. 12, To Presidents of Stakes and Counselors, Presidents of Missions, Bishops and Counselors, Stake, Mission and Ward Clerks and all Church Authorities, 1913, p. 16)