115 years ago today - Wednesday, Aug 26, 1908

Minutes of the Council of the Twelve and of the First Presidency: Letter read from Elder Ralph A. Badger, late President of the South African Mission, dated this city 17th Inst., asking in substance the following questions: (1) What shall be done where people tainted with negro blood embrace the Gospel, the writer going on to say that such people are very numerous in South Africa and some are now members of the Church whose children associate with those of the white race who are members of the Church, the latter objecting to this being done. (2) The writer wished to know if the Gospel should be preached to the native tribes, and states that an old native missionary had become a member of the Church at Queenstown, and is anxious to start an active missionary work among the natives; that the son of a Zulu chief had also been baptized who had requested that missionary work be done among the Zulus.

With reference to the first question President [Joseph F.] Smith remarked that he did not know that we could do anything more in such cases than refer to the rulings of Presidents [Brigham] Young, [John] Taylor, [Wilford] Woodruff, and other presidencies, on this question, amounting to this, that people tainted with negro blood may he admitted to Church membership only. In this connection President Smith referred to Brother Abel, who was ordained a Seventy by Joseph Young [sic; Zebedee Coltrin], in the days of the Prophet Joseph [Smith], to whom Brother [Joseph] Young issued a Seventies certificate; but this ordination was declared null and void by the Prophet himself. Later Brother Abel appealed to President [Brigham] Young for the privilege of receiving his endowments and to have his wife and children sealed to him, a privilege President Young could not grant. Brother Abel renewed this application to President [John] Taylor with the same result, and still the same appeal was made to President Woodruff afterwards, who of course upheld the position taken by Presidents Young and Taylor. He later wrote to President Smith that he had received a patriarchal blessing under the hands of Father Joseph Smith, and he said he inferred that the blessing conveyed the idea that he was to be the connecting link between his race and those holding the priesthood. But notwithstanding the fact that he was a staunch member of the Church, Presidents Young, Taylor, and Woodruff all denied him the blessings of the House of the Lord.

The same efforts he said had been made by Aunt Jane to receive her endowments and be sealed to her husband and have her children sealed to their parents and her appeal was made to all the Presidents from President [Brigham] Young down to the present First Presidency. But President [George Q.] Cannon conceived the idea that, under the circumstances, it would be proper to permit her to go to the temple to be adopted to the Prophet Joseph Smith as his servant and this was done. This seemed to ease her mind for a little while but did not satisfy her, and she still pleaded for her endowments.

President [Joseph F.] Smith then remarked that if we take this position without any reserve and refer such people to the curse pronounced upon Cainan, giving them to understand that they are descendants of Cainan, that the curse has not been removed, and that all of his race are deprived of the rights of the priesthood because of the decree of the Almighty, and until the Lord sees fit to remove that curse it would be for them to content themselves with the privilege of receiving the First Principles of the Gospel, thereby enabling them to become members of the Church, and thereafter live righteous lives, which will bring them far greater salvation in the Kingdom of God than any other so-called Christian religion is capable of doing for them. And in closing the President added that where the priesthood may have been bestowed upon men tainted with this blood, in all such cases their ordinations must be regarded as invalid. ...

As an item of information, the truth of which however President Smith said he could not vouch for, although it had come to him through the late President Jesse N. Smith, who claimed that it had come to him indirectly from the Prophet [Joseph Smith], that Ham's wife was an adulteress, and that she went into the ark pregnant from the seed of Cain, and in that way brought that blood through the flood, from whom sprang the early inhabitants of Egypt. Also that Ham finding that he was deprived of the rights of the priesthood, and becoming desperate in consequence of his condition, sought to emasculate his father and brothers and thereby usurp the rights of the priesthood for himself and posterity which wicked attempt renewed and intensified the curse of God upon him and his seed, in that they should be deprived of the priesthood and become servants of servants forever.

President [John R.] Winder moved that the Council endorse the former rulings of the first Presidency, which are the rulings of this Council. In connection with this motion it was understood that our Elders should not take the initiative in proselyting among the negro people, but if negroes or people tainted with negro blood apply for baptism themselves they might be admitted to Church membership in the understanding that nothing further can be done for them. It was also understood that the secretary was to get together the rulings of former councils on this question, also the public utterances of President [Brigham] Young and others on the same subject.

Motion put and carried.

[George Albert Smith Papers, Manuscripts Division, Marriott Library, University of Utah; 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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