Thirty-Eighth Semi-Annual Conference.

The Thirty-Eighth Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convened this morning in the New Tabernacle at ten o’clock.  The congregation at that hour was a large one, though the vast building was not filled; and as the voices of the choir mingled in harmony with the sonorous tones of the great organ, in the opening hymn, the solemnities of the occasion pervaded the assembled thousands.

Elder Orson Pratt then addressed the congregation.  He noticed the reasons why we came here—not because we wanted to, but because we were compelled to, and could not help ourselves.  The spirit of opposition, which drove the Saints beyond the Rocky Mountains and compelled them to seek a shelter in the then almost unknown wilds of this mountainous country, has operated against the Church and its leaders, from the time the Prophet Joseph obtained the plates up to the present.  The same spirits has ever manifested its opposition to the people of God, whenever He has had a priesthood and power upon the earth and communicated His revelations to His people.  The Saints have been called upon to gather out from the nations of the earth, that they may be separated from every thing unrighteous and corrupt.  We have toiled and labored here to make ourselves homes.  We were compelled to labor by the force of circumstances and the exigencies of our situation.  No other people have toiled as we have done, for no other people have been placed in such untoward circumstances?  Who has done all that is to be seen in this Territory, in changing it from a wilderness to a beautiful, well cultivated and productive country?  The old settlers have done it.  They pioneered this region and gave to government a country which would have been unsettled perhaps for another century, for they made a base of supplies for the exploring parties, prospectors and mining camps, which have been the birth of several surrounding States and Territories.  We were refused our rights in Missouri and Illinois, because the people there said we were not the old settlers in those regions.  We are the old settlers here; and we have come here to enjoy freedom and the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution of our country.  With our religious rights and liberties, we have many others and among these is the right to trade with whom we please and where we please, so long as we do not break any law nor infringe upon the rights of others.  We have fostered here men who have used all the influence in their power to injure us as a people; we have given them our grain, paid them our money and impoverished the Territory by putting millions and millions in their hands, to be carried away.  Did they profess friendship?  Yes.  But as an individual, unless men repent and keep the commandments of God, the speaker said he would not trade with them to the extent of one dime.

Elder Pratt reasoned on this principle at some length, and dwelt in a plain and forcible manner on the course pursued by merchants who openly professed friendship for the “Mormons,” but secretly did everything in their power to injure and if possible destroy them; and said he would rather go into the mountains, kill the wolves and dress in the skins thus obtained, than put money in the hands of those who would destroy him, his brethren and the institutions of the Kingdom of God.

Singing by the Tabernacle choir; prayer by Elder E.T. Benson.

Conference adjourned till 2 o’clock.

[Deseret News, Oct. 14, 1868]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]

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