Parley P. Pratt

[Accompanied by an illustration]

Parley P. Pratt, one of the original members of the Council of Apostles in this dispensation, and one of the most fearless and indefatigable as well as one of the most successful exponents of the Gospel who ever lived, is pictured in this illustration.  His life was almost entirely given up to spreading the truth at home and in foreign lands, and the story of his labors from 1830 onward is almost the story of the struggles of the Church.  He was born in Burlington, Otsego Co., New York, on April 12, 1807.  A copy of the Book of Mormon fell in his way in 1830, and on reading it, he was so deeply impressed that he did not rest till he had sought out the Elders of the Church and been baptized.  He at once began preaching, and one of his first converts was his brother, Orson Pratt, whom he baptized.  Later, in 1836, he was instrumental in bringing another notable figure into the Church in the person of John Taylor, whom he baptized in Canada.  He first met Joseph Smith in 1831, at Kirtland; he was one of the number of Saints who located in Jackson county, Missouri, and who were driven from their possessions; he preached and traveled all over the Eastern States and founded a large branch of the Church in New York City in 1837; he was in Caldwell county, Missouri, during the bitter persecutions in 1838, was imprisoned in Richmond in 1839, and, as he used to say, joyfully celebrated the nation’s birthday by escaping on July 4.  Going on a mission to England with the Twelve—he had been ordained an Apostle February 21, 1835—he became the first editor of the Millennial Star in 1840.  He shared the exile from Nauvoo in 1846, but was called to turn back when in Iowa, and fill another mission to England.  He arrived in Utah in the fall of 1847.  He took a prominent part in framing a Constitution for the provisional State of Deseret, and was a member of the Territorial Legislature for many years.  He was chaplain of the legislative session held in Fillmore in 1855-6.  In the latter year he again visited the east, preaching in St. Louis, New York, Philadelphia and other places.  In New York he again met his old friend John Taylor, and it was while visiting him that he wrote his poem, “My Fiftieth Year,” in which occurs a premonition of his death.  President Taylor has also recorded that he felt he was seeing Apostle Pratt for the last time.  It was while on his trip homeward, on May 13, 1857, that he fell a victim to an assassin who waylaid him in Arkansas; he was laid to rest near the fatal spot.  Apostle Pratt was the author of “The Key to Theology,” “The Voice of Warning,” and many other works which bear the unmistakable evidence of a cultured and inspirational mind.  He was a prolific writer of verse, and many of our best known hymns are from his pen.

[Deseret News, Oct. 27, 1900]
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Oct. 27, 1900, 6]

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

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