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Seer, The

The Seer. Washington, D.C. January 1853-June 1854; Liverpool, July 1854-August 1854. 2 v. (20 nos. in 320 p.) 23 cm.
2 p.l., [1]-316 p. 23 cm.

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Following the conference of August 28, 1852, Orson Pratt was called to preside over the Church in the eastern United States and to publish a magazine defending the principles of Mormonism, especially plural marriage. The result was The Seer, edited and published by Orson in Washington and simultaneously reprinted in Liverpool. Eighteen monthly issues were printed both in Washington and Liverpool; two additional numbers were printed in Liverpool only.

Most of The Seer is devoted to Orson Pratt’s treatment of certain doctrinal questions, some of which had not previously been dealt with in print. His long serial articles “Pre-existence of Man” and “Celestial Marriage,” for example, go far beyond any earlier discussion of these subjects.

Excerpted and edited from Peter Crawley and Chad J. Flake, A Mormon Fifty: an exhibition in the Harold B. Lee Library in conjunction with the annual conference of the Mormon History Association. (Provo, Utah, Friends of the Brigham Young University Library, 1984). Item 40, p. [30].

Used by permission of the authors.

Series of pamphlets

PRATT, Orson. A series of pamphlets, by Orson Pratt, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with portrait. To which is appended a discussion held in Bolton, between Elder William Gibson, President of the Saints in the Manchester Conference, and the Rev. Mr. Woodman. Also a discussion held in France, between Elder John Taylor, one of the Twelve Apostles, and three reverend gentlemen of different orders, containing a facsimile of writings engraved on six metallic plates, taken out of an ancient mound in the state of Illinois, in the year 1843. Liverpool: Printed by R. James, 1851. 18 parts 24 cm.

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Orson Pratt assumed the presidency of the British Mission in August 1848. Enjoined by Brigham Young to “print, publish, and superintend the emigration,” he wrote sixteen tracts during the next two-and-one-half years which were published and republished by the tens of thousands and formed the basis of the missionary efforts of the Latter-day Saints in Great Britain. Early in 1851 these tracts, together with the two debates mentioned in the title, were bound together with a title page, table of contents, and frontispiece, to form a book which eventually became known as Orson Pratt’s Works.

The pamphlets in order are entitled: Divine Authority, The Kingdom of God in four parts, Remarkable Visions and New Jerusalem - these seven tracts identified as the “First Series” in the table of contents; then Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon in six parts - identified as the “Second Series”; and then Reply to a Pamphlet Printed in Glasgow, Absurdities of Immaterialism, and Great First Cause - identified as the “Third Series.” These are followed by William Gibson’s Report of Three Nights’ Public Discussion and John Taylor’s Three Nights’ Public Discussion. The frontispiece is a steel engraving of Orson Pratt by Frederick Piercy, dated 1849 - which the Millennial Star office began selling separately in January 1850. And at the back of the book is the folded sheet Fac-Simile of the Brass Plates Recently Taken from a Mound in the Vicinity of Kinderhook, Pike County, Illinois, which was issued with Taylor’s Three Nights’ Public Discussion.

Orson Pratt’s Works was an extremely influential book. Its tracts were published at a time when the British Mission was producing its most converts, many of whom learned the tenets of Mormonism from Orson’s pamphlets. With the onset of the Utah War in 1857, Mormon book writing almost totally ceased; and for the next twenty years virtually no new books were printed. What this meant was that those books which were in print before the Utah War continued to exert their influence for another generation, especially Orson Pratt’s Works which simply outnumbered all others by many thousands.

Excerpted and edited from Peter Crawley and Chad J. Flake, A Mormon Fifty: an exhibition in the Harold B. Lee Library in conjunction with the annual conference of the Mormon History Association. (Provo, Utah, Friends of the Brigham Young University Library, 1984). Item 35, p. [26 - 27].

Used by permission of the authors.

Speech of Elder Orson Hyde

HYDE, Orson. Speech of Elder Orson Hyde, delivered before the High Priest’s [sic] Quorum in Nauvoo, April 27th, 1845, upon the course and conduct of Mr. Sidney Rigdon, and upon the merits of his claims to the presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. City of Joseph [Nauvoo], Ill: Printed by John Taylor, 1845. 36 pp. 18 cm.

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Speech of Elder Orson Hyde marks another chapter in Orson Hyde’s ongoing confrontations with those who challenged the Twelve for leadership of the Church after the death of Joseph Smith. Hyde was one of the principle speakers at Sidney Rigdon’s trial on September 8, 1844. And after Rigdon’s excommunication, Hyde continued to attack him in print. Rigdon, in turn, singled out Hyde for a little abuse from time to time, while he maintained a constant barrage against the Twelve and those who supported them.

Hyde begins his speech with some references to the priesthood and the kingdom of God, and he advances the novel idea that those who persecute the Latter-day Saints can obtain forgiveness only if the Saints specifically grant it to them. He describes in great detail Rigdon’s moves to gain control of the Church, and he argues at length in justification of the Twelve sitting in judgment of a member of the First Presidency. He refers to Nancy Rigdon’s reputation for profligate behavior and asserts that Joseph Smith’s attempts to reform her were taken as an effort to secure her as a plural wife. In passing, he states that blacks were cursed with slavery because of their neutrality during the war in heaven (p. 30)-an idea Brigham Young repudiated in 1869.

The Nauvoo Neighbor of May 7, 1845, indicated that it was then printing Hyde’s speech in pamphlet form and would complete it in three or four days. A month before, the general conference had voted to rename Nauvoo the City of Joseph. Speech of Elder Orson Hyde is the only Nauvoo book to bear that imprint.

Excerpted and edited from Peter Crawley, A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. Volume One, 1830-1847. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, [1997]). Item 263, p. 302 - 04.

Used by permission of the author and the Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University.