In the interest of time, we’ll skip the lengthy opener and refer to Part 1 (Religious Royalty) of the series. Warring for President continues examination of the Romney legacy and building the path to Mitt:
In the course of establishing Mormons as an American staple and tracking their migration to Ohio from New York, Joseph Smith founded the Kirtland Safety Society with the help of his associates including business Apostles like Grandpa Parley. It was a quasi bank for Mormons based on stock valuation, with the express intent of helping the brotherhood purchase all surrounding lands. Latter Day Saints were intent on birthing their own sovereignty and that could only begin with a territory to transform religious canon into law.
The mass purchase of property didn’t go over well with previous inhabitants, but the institution’s final demise came at the hands of insider fraud that resembles the current market collapse. The bank made continuous loans to push non-believers out of the area without having the capital to cover disbursements. This may even be where the term “ phony as a $3 bill” originated, as the bank printed exactly these worthless denominations and put all local Mormons in the poor house for holding them.
(Mormon $3 bill, Kirtland Safety Society/Bank)
Inner discord was not enough to plummet the church into shame. It wasn’t until fraud charges were announced that Smith and the Mormons would flee to avoid capture in the middle of the night, January 12, 1838. Along with the Romneys they would attempt to overtake Missouri and lay claim to the purported twin city of Zion, as the new headquarters and rightful place of Saints.
Again this wasn’t well received by Christians or presiding authorities of the new state. Heralding fantastic claims of celestial ownership, concentrating Mormons to elect their own and disapproval of polygamy were a few of the allegations against those of the colonizing faith.
At a midpoint of conflict the Lieutenant Governor attempted to mediate with Mormons and resettled them to what became Far West. In turn Joseph Smith would prophesize the new location to be Adam-ondi-Ahman; the same place Adam and Eve took refuge upon expulsion from the American Garden of Eden.
Unfortunately this effort became futile when Mormons defied the boundaries of their settlement and vigorously spilled into adjacent counties, laying claim to those as well. This swell was enabled by the defection from Ohio and spawned an Election Day skirmish that resulted in Mormons taking Judge Adam Black hostage at gunpoint to do their bidding. Under duress he was forced to sign an allegiance with Smith and once returned to safety, the state responded with criminal charges against the violent band of Latter Day Saints.
Instead of backing down, the Mormon militia torched and pillaged the homes of unfaithful Missourians, also while stealing their businesses for personal gain, committed in the name of the church. According to official entries from Major Joseph McGee,
“For over two weeks we could stand in our door… and see cabins burning. Scarcely one was left standing in the county unless occupied by Mormons.”
Members of the government felt Saints were trying to capture the entire state, as Mormon leaders were preaching to parishioners inciting violence to the bloody end. This resulted in the famous Extermination (eviction) Order commissioned by Governor Boggs, which was levied as a last resort to bring an end to the Missouri Mormon War.
As per terms of that agreement Mormons were found to owe for damage and allowed to leave in peace, if they forfeited their property to foot the bill in yet another ravaged state. There was initial rebellion against the government and only after the church executive put their settlers in harm’s way, did Joseph Smith and the twelve Apostles accept conditions to relocate their people. These circumstances included surrender of self and fellow leaders; on indictment of treason, murder, arson, burglary and larceny. All court documents can be viewed as archives, courtesy of the Secretary of State.
These judiciary pages cite Mitt’s great-great grandpa Parley as a main perpetrator in the town burning (11/12/1838 Witness Ezra Williams), in addition to being one of the few imprisoned for committing murder (3/6/1841 State of Missouri vs. Parley P. Pratt, Maurice Phelps and Lyman Gibbs). Official court record is one of few places to confirm the Romney family’s involvement, as most popular history pages have glossed over this Apostle.
But Parley did indeed play a great role as jailed leader and close partner of Joseph Smith. He was the Prophet to teach all Prophets at the School of Prophets in Missouri, where lesser Apostles were sent for counsel to grasp the doctrine he helped create. During the incarceration, they were also broken out of captivity together and fled to Nauvoo, Illinois. It is here a subsequent Mormon town was colonized and great-great grandpa Miles Romney was graciously waiting to build the next temple.
In just a few short years after the mayhem in Missouri, the Mormons were living semi peacefully in Illinois. It is claimed they sought retribution against Governor Boggs from afar and there was an attempt on his life resulting in 3 gunshot wounds to the head.
But in the shelter of their newest settlement, the Prophets took warring lessons from the past and put them to good use. They immediately sought a city charter that enshrined the right to a bonafide militia, ironically named the Nauvoo Legion – since Nauvoo means “to be beautiful” in Hebrew.
Such entitlements afforded Saints their own municipal court, police and university, from which they would construct the ultimate goal of theocracy as directed by the Book. They also made headway by assuming prominent positions within the Freemasons, to bolster community allies in their mission.
However, when harsh feelings from non-Mormons arose about that pesky issue of polygamy, Joseph Smith headed every level of the law and there was no recourse for outsiders. They had effectively taken control of a city from all possible positions. Smith was the mayor, judge, church president and commander of the militia.
Amongst the dissatisfaction Illinoisans took to founding their own newspaper the Nauvoo Expositor, but it only lasted one printing and was deemed a public nuisance by the church. Smith accordingly ordered it to be destroyed and the presses were smashed along with burning everything in sight. The only free speech in a theocratic domain would belong to Joseph Smith and the Apostles, with capable Romney editors to filter the news. This act was considered outrageous and the dissenters of heretical prophecy brought their complaints to law enforcement, but Smith was empowered as the sheriff and judge so the charges were dismissed. In fact any complaints against Mormons in the town of Nauvoo were dismissed.
At the same time the almighty Quorum of Twelve Apostles congregated to create the Council of Fifty, whose task was campaigning on the Prophet’s behalf to become the President of America. The local order they currently enjoyed was only the beginning of the true Mormon mission; to establish the government of God that was ready to rule the world upon His Second Coming. The long name of this council is The Kingdom of God and His Laws with the Keys and Power thereof, and Judgment in the Hands of His Servant (pdf study file) – but it was shortened to “The Fifty” by the number of prophets who would be given these keys to ensure a Mormon God was controlling the US government. They would only toil to get their Prophets elected and have continued these pursuits with Mitt Romney, his father George Romney and all Mormon politicians running for Governor or President before them. This is a pillar in the Latter Day Saint’s Doctrine and Covenants.
Feeling oppressed themselves, Christians approached the Illinois legislature that was compelled to incarcerate Joseph and his marauders, due to contravening matters of free speech and persecuting others with unabashed personal use of Mormon police. They were accused of employing arbitrary violence in an effort to silence their critics, apprehended by the state and placed in Carthage Jail to await trial.
Still afraid of his connections and flagrant abuse of theo-democracy through other church members, there was a backlash from non-Mormons all around. Anti Latter Day Saints finally had enough and believed there was little chance of convicting Smith or his entourage. A band of community vigilantes then decided to take assassination into their own hands. Joseph Smith died on June 27, 1844, to be worshiped forevermore as the martyr of Mormon, after that mob laid siege to his jail cell.
Apostle Brigham Young stepped in to fill the leadership; with Parley, Orson and Miles at his immediate side. Although the Book of Mormon was created by Smith’s revelation, it is Young who would become the greatest father of the clan. He set out to preach polygamy and theo-democracy even more so than his predecessor. Brigham and (fellow Apostle) Uncle Orson christened these theories into doctrine and had it reported through the church newspaper the very next day.
This created a split of sorts and Mormons who were shy about plural marriage ended up going their separate way. Politically there was still much discord and the Saints holding strong in Nauvoo were eventually stripped of their city charter by the state legislature. That action gave rise to the third confrontation known as the Illinois Mormon War and despite the dressing down, they continued to run a covert arm of religious police and government. Eventually they had to come to terms that without the legal backing, their rebellion was fairly futile.
Instead of repeating quite the mayhem that took place in Missouri, Brigham Young and company negotiated their departure and set out to build the Mormon Trail all the way to Utah, where no faithless federal government could condemn their way of rule. This is where Uncle Orson would demonstrate his own leadership by carving that path and claiming Salt Lake City in the name of Latter Day Saints (see Mathematician and Scientist).
On the paternal plane, Mitt’s great-grandpa Miles Park Romney was born in Nauvoo of polygamous parentage and he followed in his father’s footsteps. A church editor, chief of theocratic police, builder of Mormon religious temples and a studious attorney; he attempted to challenge congressional anti polygamy laws on behalf of his prophetic underlings as a young man in Utah.
Maternally, Mitt’s other great-grandpa Helaman Pratt was born somewhere on the trek between Nauvoo and Salt Lake in the winter crossing the plains of Iowa. At the age of twenty-three he would depart for Nevada and settle the Mormon religion there, in addition to performing the first baptisms in Mexico as that president as well. Miles Park Romney went with him, since both were interested in protecting their right to plural wives while the federal government of America was clamping down. They continued to chart new lands and bring the doctrine with them as leaders of the church.
Mitt Romney commands an identical post, as stake president of the Boston area. He doesn’t possess polygamous wives, but in part three of the series we’ll examine why. We’ll also take a look at the true accomplishment of the first theocratic state government, upon Mormons capturing Utah from the Indians. There’s only one more war to go before we arrive at the immediate family and the exact nature of Mitt’s inheritance.
Theocracy, or as Mormons call it theo-democracy; is a system of government controlled by Apostles according to their God’s law. It is the way Saints believe the earth must be run to achieve their fate as inheritors of the planet and managers of Jesus’ power. Addressing the staples of Mitt’s religion was less about faith than it was to demonstrate the goal s of a political prophet. On our journey to understand his calling, we are now stopping in the state of Utah.
The western frontier was mostly their own, as pioneers forged the Mormon Trail to the great valley. Utah was deemed the new Jerusalem and new platform from which a theocratic government could thrive without the interference of Washington. Brigham Young was the equally new president of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and he picked the next Heaven on earth, while Mitt’s family were the ones to proclaim it Zion on behalf of their kin to follow.
Great-great grandpa Parley, along with Uncle Orson, was first on the scene and considered to be one of the most influential Apostles in the building of an empire. Among his sermons that founded the doctrine, he also created a language (beyond Reformed Egyptian) that was secretive within the Saints. The Deseret Alphabet was rebellion against the Latin based English language and relied more on phonetic symbols, known only to the creator and those he taught. Although books were translated in the new form it became too cost prohibitive to transition the whole community and the tongue of Deseret was then used as the code of personal missives. Curiously this language was important enough to mark the gold Utah currency from the Latter Day Saints mint.
(Wikimedia Commons, from LDS Mint)
(Wikimedia Commons, from University of Deseret)
In the beginning the iconic Mr. Young petitioned the federal government to create the state of Deseret. The eager proposition included most of the west (including parts of what is now California, Wyoming, Nebraska, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah), to be regulated by Saints according to the Book of Mormon. They used the Constitution to justify theocratic rule and that argument was reasonably successful, except with the Civil War approaching the ambitious land grab was reduced from Deseret to the Territory of Utah (see Compromise of 1850).
The Mormon clan formed their own legislature, ensuring only Prophets and Apostles held these bureaucratic positions. This included Mitt’s predecessors as the first senators and constitution drafting members of the legislative assembly. The government of Utah was dedicated to men-Gods and the full senate was re-baptized to confirm the purity of their hierarchy as the main condition to being sworn in (see Dec 30, 1856). They sought to build a wall around their fortress, to keep the goodness in or the evil out and as a result the religion-ruled state was finally realized.
The courts were ecclesiastical in nature and Brigham Young exercised tighter control over the lives of inhabitants than any other state as the first governor. The United Order of Enoch was established, stipulating residents would owe all their profits from commerce and trading directly to the church for the benefit of the Mormon community. The Welfare Plan was such that non Apostles could work on the farms and be fed for their contribution to the literal commune, as a means of giving the poor some purpose within their ranks. Despite many troubles gaining adoption, the most successful areas were under command of the Romneys/Pratts and this feat remains a condition to achieving world ownership according to the official Mormon Doctrine and Covenants.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints describes early Utah in these terms (see Provisional State of Deseret),
“There was no separation of church and state because the Latter Day Saints considered all affairs of the kingdom of God to be one, whether spiritual, economic or political.”
Upon the grand opening of the first Utah tabernacle (architect Miles Romney), Brigham Young delivered an impassioned sermon to command support for their theocratic version of government. He goes on to warn that any person of riches who hoards them from the church, will be condemned to an eternity of suffering and ousted from the kingdom. (Journal of Discourses by Brigham Young, Weakness and Impotence of Men, pgs. 201-203, April 1852, with access to scan of original church document.)
Current lessons for Mormons include explanation of their gospel as the only way to exaltation, noting all earthly religions before them fell short of becoming God’s rulers and are therefore part of the Apostasy. Humans were only returned to the divinity through the prophecy of Joseph Smith and the Twelve Apostles,
“The Lord began to prepare those social, educational, religious, economic and government conditions under which he could more easily restore the gospel for the last time.”
This quote is taken from Mormon Doctrine, Second Edition 1966, as presently instructed by LDS leaders. The book was revised by Mitt’s cousin and former Mormon president Marion Romney, from its original “tone” that was deemed too blunt for the masses. Although it remains a cornerstone for Bishops to teach, the church ceased printing any more copies should they fall into critical hands. When Mitt was confronted about this in April 2012, according to the Washington Post the discussion was off limits. The presidential nominee would only address his faith as opposed to the workings of it.
According to the Divine Constitution (that Mormon’s feel was angelic inspiration for the American one),
“We’re now digesting a plan which in its operation would decide forever the fate of Republican Government…. It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound. Tis right politically, for a man who has influence to use it. From henceforth I will maintain all the influence I can get.”
More adeptly preached by Grandpa Parley in the church’s Journal of Discourses (see pg 10),
“The Jews once held the Gospel, with its Apostleship, powers, and blessings offered unto them, but they rejected it as a people and for this reason it was taken from them…. These blessings would have continued on earth and would have been enjoyed in all the ages and nations of man, but for the agency of the people. They chose their own forms of government, laws, institutions, religions, rulers and priests, instead of yielding to the influence and guidance of the chosen vessels of the Lord, who were appointed to instruct and govern them.”
They created their own money to govern themselves and since the land was essentially free, it was divvied up amongst the Saints who then donated the deeds to the church. Much of this prosperity was used to benefit the Romney family as executives of LDS and so appeared Prattville, the Pratt Ward(entire region) and numerous historical sites maintained in the Romney honour.
Grandpa Parley became a top judge who wrote many of Utah’s early laws, Uncle Orson was the stake president and polygamously-related Uncle Mathoni was named the presiding bishop. Because the family was so heavily impacted by considerable plural marriages it is difficult to outline every one of Mitt’s makers, but they all enjoyed esteemed positions within the administration of Mormonism. The founding capacity of Apostle grandparents on both sides of the tree has spawned an American made patriarchy in which every Romney may aspire for the crown. (See Romney family tree.)
Upon rebirth of the ‘ancient gospel’ to Mormons there was also recreation of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Only those special enough and called to the highest order can achieve this oneness with God and bestowal of His powers as a Prophet. Mitt is a Melchizedek Priest (see The Washington Temple). His dad was a Melchizedek Priest, as were all Romneys of Apostle heritage since the beginning of Mormon in 1830.
Grandpa Parley explains (Journal of Discourses by Parley P. Pratt, Reminiscences and Testimony of Parley Pratt, pgs 194-201, Sept 1856, with access to scan of original church document),
“I learned something of the rights of the Church…. the restoration of the Priesthood and many important truths….The man that believes in Mormonism, believes in…. the keys of the Priesthood and Apostleship, and through those keys the people are to be built up, preserved, sanctified and prepared for the coming of the Lord. These keys came from Joseph Smith who received them from…. the risen Jesus, the Redeemer of men. If we harken unto these keys we shall be saved and inherit the celestial glory and exaltation….”
Only iconic men can be Apostles and the church produces a lesson guide to teach women about the respect they must show them. Although they’re permitted to receive blessings, only males can hold these limited keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. This birthright is so protective that Prophet and father George Romney shared his testament on record while paving the way for Mitt.
As a sidebar, Cousin Marion Romney was born in Chihuahua, Mexico along with George W. Romney. Mitt’s father was a Mormon bishop, stake president and high priest who became the Republican governor of Michigan. Immediate Grandpa Gaskell Romney ran for county commissioner as a Republican and Cousin Henry B. Eyring spoke of him as the church patriarch who gifted his official blessing. This was before Henry’s exaltation as an Apostle to the Quorum of Twelve in 1995. Mitt’s polygamous but immediate other grandfather is Rey Pratt, who served as president of bringing Mormonism to Mexico. Cousin Vernon B. Romney completed missions for the Saints and sat as attorney and chair for the Utah Republican party before making his own run for governor.
Great uncle George S. Romney also completed missions and was rewarded with the presidency of Brigham Young University in Idaho. He added his name to a Supreme Court lawsuit brought by Mormons against the United States government, to recoup property in Utah that was confiscated due to transgressions by the church against federal law. He was not successful but challenged the court to the very end. Cousin Spencer W. Kimball then received exaltation to the Quorum of Twelve to make it a family affair. He then inherited the all-powerful presidency and instituted the Indian Placement Program; where indigenous children were taken from their homes to be assimilated into white culture and educated by the Mormon Church.
Marion on the other hand, went from working at the Salt Lake post office to becoming the city prosecutor, before winning a spot in the state legislature as a Democrat. However, this resulted in being called to the Quorum of Apostles so he’d resign his post under a non-Republican banner. He was tasked with chairing the Home Teaching committee which regrettably led to lawsuits that persist to this day, regarding complications with oversight and the abuse of youngsters while in an Elder’s care. The Mormon religion purports to be a Republican institution, but aside of this all Romney men have stood as general authorities of this highly political religion. Church president Marion Romney also descended from an original Apostle through polygamy, but Mitt’s particular lineage is worshiped as the most esteemed of any.
Had a rough go with polygamy not hampered his ambitions, Grandpa Parley might have succeeded Brigham Young as president of the faithful. But non-Mormons of the founding day were staunchly against the ministry of plural wives and God-dom, giving rise to tipping points that precipitated the Utah War.
The way grandpa contributed is through a mission he took to Arkansas to preach the gospel and convert those who’d never heard it. While there he celestially married another wife, Eleanor McLean, but she was already legally married to Hector and they had a few children. Grandpa Parley absconded with the lady and her little ones, although he claims to have saved them from a life of oppression without the Book of Mormon.
Needless to say Hector was angry and when stifled by the law he took matters into his own hands. Parley Pratt was murdered May 13, 1857 and his remains never made it back to Utah. What did return was word of the Apostle’s demise and this reignited the violent side of every ecclesiastic general in the Utah Mormon army, including President and Governor Brigham Young.
A plan was hatched to exact revenge but the Saints didn’t want their name on it. News arrived that a caravan was migrating from Arkansas and Mormons set out to deceive the Indians about it. They felt the people of Arkansas were responsible for not protecting the Prophet and wanted to see these 120 men, women and children sacrificed to atone for their error.
In his last confession, a fellow by the name of John D. Lee explains he was sent to spin the tale, that an emigrant group was on their way and Mormons had word they planned to viciously kill the Indians. The only option was to destroy the group and convincing them took a great deal of prodding. The orders had come from Brigham Young and the Apostles though, so Brother Lee wasn’t in a position to let them down.
After desperate negotiation he managed to sell the idea and Indians, against their better judgement, set out to snuff the allegedly threatening clan on their way from Arkansas. To their surprise the travelers were formidable and managed to fight them off, with the tribes returning to Lee in horror asking for the same help in return.
According to Plan B the Mormon army accepted responsibility to commit the act. It was a terrible ambush on September 11, when Saints befriended pioneers to gain their trust and swooped in to murder everyone when their guard was down. It was dubbed the Mountain Meadows Massacre and to this day it remains one of the darkest moments in establishing Mormonism.
In the meantime Brigham Young declared martial law in the Territory of Utah. The federal government passed anti-polygamy laws and decided to crack down on the theo-democratic violence as well. Eventually this led to the 1890 Manifesto in which Mormons would give up plural marriage and senate, in exchange for clemency (related to polygamy) and having Utah inducted into statehood with access to federal funding.
The only last bit of business was persecution for the massive slaughter at Mountain Meadows. Despite John D. Lee being unable to kill 120 alone, Brigham Young and the Elders testified against him to protect themselves and higher ranking Prophets. It’s a sad story no matter the perspective and upon his execution, Mr. Lee made rather poignant comments regarding the treachery of these Apostles.
Up next is the special Mormon doctrine focused on Blacks, Jews, Indians & Christians; followed by Good Ole Dad and how these theories make their way into real legislative and moral actions committed by Mitt Romney and his prophetic family.