120 years ago today - Thursday, Jan 2, 1902

Minutes of the Council of the Twelve and of the First Presidency: Brother [Rudger] Clawson reporting his visit to Sevier Stake said that while at Richfield he learned that a young man had married a woman who Was one-quarter negro,and now that one of his sons is about to marry, his intended wife wanted to know if the fact of his having inherited negro blood would be a bar to his receiving the priesthood and endowments.

President [Joseph F.] Smith in replying to this question said that presidents [Brigham] Young and [John] Taylor were emphatic in denying to any person receiving the priesthood or endowments who had negro blood in their veins, and he further said that a man named Abel, an octoroon, and who had married a quadroon, applied to President Young for his endowments, he having been ordained a Seventy and received his patriarchal blessing in the days of the Prophet Joseph [Smith], but President Young put him off, and that Brother Abel failed to get his wish gratified by the President. It appeared that a promise was made to him in his patriarchal blessing to the effect that he should be the welding link between the black and white races, and that he should hold the initiative authority by which his race should be redeemed. He renewed his application to receive his endowments time after time to President Taylor, who at last submitted it to this Council, resulting in a decision unfavorable to Brother Abel. After his [John Taylor's] death the wife of Isaac James (known as Aunt Jane) asked to receive her own endowments and to be sealed; but President Woodruff, Cannon, and Smith decided that this could not be done, but decided that she might be adopted into the family of the Prophet Joseph Smith as a servant, which was done, a special ceremony having been prepared for the purpose. But Aunt Jane was not satisfied with this, and as a mark of her dissatisfaction she applied again after this for sealing blessings, but of course in vain.

Brother John Henry Smith remarked that it seemed to him that persons in whose veins the white blood predominated should not be barred from the temple.

President Smith, replying to this, referred to the doctrine taught by President Young which he (the speaker) said he believed in himself, to the effect that the children of Gentile parents, in whose veins may exist a single drop of the blood of Ephraim, might be all pure-blooded Gentiles excepting one, and that one might extract all the blood of Ephraim from his parents' veins, and be actually a full-blooded Ephra[i]mite. He also referred to the case of a man named Billingsby, whose ancestor away back married an Indian woman, and whose descendants in every branch of his family were pure whites, with one exception, and that exception was one pure blooded Indian in every branch of the family. The speaker said he mentioned this case because it was in line with President Young's doctrine on the subject; and the same had been found to be the case with stockmen engaged in the improvement of breeds. Assuming therefore this doctrine to be sound, while the children of a man in whose veins may exist a single drop of negro blood, might be entirely white, yet one of his descendants might turn out to be a pronounced negro. And the question in President Smith's mind was, when shall we get light enought [enough] to determine each case on its merits? He gave it as his opinion that in all cases where the blood of Cain showed itself, however slight, the line should be drawn there; but where children of tainted parents were found to be pure Ephraimites, they might be admitted to the temple. This was only an opinion, however, the subject would no doubt be considered later.

Brother Clawson regar[d]ed this as an answer to the question and expressed himself satisfied with it.

[George Albert Smith Papers, Manuscripts Division, Marriott Library, University of Utah, at Marquardt, H. Michael, Mormon Central: Excerpts From Minutes of the Council of the Twelve and of the First Presidency, 1879-1947 http://www.xmission.com/~research/central/chorg2.htm]

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