Between 1851 and 1855 Parley P. Pratt served twice as president of the Pacific Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although headquartered in the San Francisco area, the mission embraced the Pacific Basin, including South America and the islands of the Pacific from Hawaii to Australia. Central to Parley's approach to missionary work was writing and publishing.1 During his presidencies Parley issued the first broadside defense of plural marriage in July 1852, one month before the official church announcement of the practice; he authored the first Mormon work published in the Pacific Basin, Proclamation! To the People of the Coasts and Islands of the Pacific . . . ; he published the first LDS work in Spanish; and beginning in August 1851 he composed the bulk of Mormonism's first comprehensive theological work, Key to the Science of Theology. In addition to writing defenses of the church for the local press, he actively worked to establish a printing office called the Latter-day Saints' Book Depot for his mission, and he also made plans for publishing the Mormon Herald, a newspaper for Latter-day Saints in the California region. This chapter reviews Parley's written approach to his missionary work in the Pacific Basin and suggests its impact on later Mormon publishing, particularly through the work of his successor in publishing, George Q. Cannon.
Before his mission to the Pacific area, Parley had firmly established his place in Mormon thought as the church's most important pamphleteer. Almost everywhere he traveled as a missionary after his conversion in 1830, he expressed his thoughts in writing. In 1835 he published the first work of Mormon poetry, and in 1837 in New York he issued his Voice of Warning, which in the nineteenth century was the most widely read LDS book aside from the church's canonical works. In 1838 he issued the first detailed reply to an anti-Mormon work, and in 1840 he published a history of the persecutions his people had endured in Missouri. In February 1840 he issued An Address to the Citizens of Washington, a concise listing of fundamental LDS beliefs that helped shape the form and content of the basic Mormon missionary tract as well as the better-known Articles of Faith of Wentworth Letter fame.
Serving in England with his fellow apostles in 1840, Parley continued his literary approach to missionary work. As a member of the publishing committee, Parley worked on the Manchester hymnal (his contributions included composing many of the hymns) and on the first British edition of the Book of Mormon, and he was the founding editor of the influential Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star. In fact, it was in his Manchester home that Parley established the Latter-day Saints' Book Depot for the British Mission. Later moved to Liverpool, this office established such a good foundation that almost all nineteenth-century LDS publications descended from British editions published under its auspices.
In addition to his work with the Star, Parley continued to write tracts. The first Mormon reply to a British anti-Mormon work was Parley's Plain Facts, Showing the Falsehood and Folly of the Rev. C. S. Bush. Among his most popular replies were An Address to the People of England (five thousand copies), A Letter to the Queen (ten thousand copies), and a broadside satire entitled An Epistle of Demetrius. . . . His incisive mind, poetic nature, and great popularity and influence led Edward Tullidge to refer to him as "the Isaiah of his people."2
After the Prophet Joseph Smith's death in 1844, Parley continued his active involvement as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, devoting much time to writing and publishing. He authored the 1845 "Proclamation of the Twelve"3 and provided key leadership—particularly through his writing—in New York City during the critical months of the succession crisis. He issued "Regulations for the Publishing Department of the Latter Day Saints in the East" in January 1845, a further consolidation of the power of the Twelve in church affairs.4
Following the 1846–47 westward movement of the church, Parley actively continued in various leadership roles. In 1849 and 1850, for example, he led the Southern Exploring Company into southern Utah.5 But our story begins in 1851, when Brigham Young sent him to California, where as president of the Pacific Mission he would "hold the presidency of all the islands and coasts of the Pacific."6
He left Salt Lake City on 16 March, arrived in Los Angeles on 16 June, and on 7 July left San Pedro for San Francisco, where he arrived four days later. He became president of the San Francisco Branch on 20 July. His letter a few days later to Brigham Young spoke of the new and dramatic growth that the gold rush had forced upon the sleepy port of Yerba Buena, where Latter-day Saints from the ship Brooklyn had settled in 1846: "We find a great city here and perhaps one thousand vessels in port. A more central point for spreading the Gospel, and communicating with all nations I have not found. . . . We have now an organized Branch here and meetings every Sabbath. Many inquire after the truth, Books, etc. I think of Publishing a General Proclamation."7
Taking his presidency seriously and sensing the key role this now dynamic port could play in the future of the church in the Pacific region, Parley first corresponded with Mormon missionaries already serving on various islands in the Pacific.8 In August he called recently repentant and rebaptized Charles Wandell to accompany John Murdock, whom Brigham Young had earlier called to be president of the Australian Mission, to Australia.9 Because of various problems in the Society Islands, Parley decided not to send additional missionaries there, but he did send more missionaries to Hawaii, where the prospects of success were more favorable.10
With these main areas taken care of for the time being, and perhaps expecting South America to be as fruitful as early Victorian England had been for Mormon missionaries, Parley told Brigham: "I expect to leave this country for South America soon; unless I should be able to go to New York, via the Isthmus, to get some books printed. . . . I am studying Spanish with all diligence, and will, I trust, master it in the course of a few months."11
Before sailing for Chile, and presumably between Spanish lessons, Parley wrote the first LDS work to be printed in the Pacific region: Proclamation! To the People of the Coasts and Islands of the Pacific; of Every Nation, Kindred and Tongue. He gave the manuscript to Murdock and Wandell, who had it published in November 1851 in Sydney, Australia, within a few days of their arrival there.12 In this tract Parley declared that a new dispensation of the gospel had been revealed and that as a missionary he was charged with declaring it to every nation and people. The text called its readers to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Declaring the apostasy from the primitive Church of Christ, Parley told of a new apostolic authority now held by the Latter-day Saints. Then, in separate sections or chapters, he addressed the "Pagans" (non-Christians), the Jews, and the "Red Man." In the section to Native Americans, he discussed the Book of Mormon and specifically argued that father Lehi and his family came out of Jerusalem, built a ship, crossed the great sea, and landed on the "western coast of America, within the bounds of what is now called Chil[e]."13 Perhaps it was this view that motivated and directed Parley's own mission there, especially because he strongly believed that 80 or 90 percent of the population of most of the countries of Spanish America were the blood descendants of Lehi.14
Parley's mission to Chile was short and unsuccessful. Accompanied by his wife, Phoebe, and Rufus C. Allen, he left San Francisco for Chile on 5 September 1851. They arrived on 8 November, sixty-four days later, at Valparaiso.15 Initially optimistic, Parley wrote to Franklin D. Richards in Liverpool, England, and ordered a variety of LDS literature that he planned to distribute in Chile.16 The group stayed in Valparaiso long enough for Phoebe to give birth to a son, Omner, on 30 November, but the boy died five weeks later. On 24 January 1852 they traveled thirty-six miles to the small town of Quillota, where they spent only five weeks before returning to Valparaiso. The limited details that have survived from this period suggest they went to Quillota to rest, to allow Phoebe time to regain her health and to seek divine counsel regarding their future course. In this very Catholic town, missionary work did not seem possible.
Parley's decision to return to Valparaiso was a logical one. The city had become an important commercial center for the western coast of South America, and the California gold rush had made it an important port for shipping foodstuffs to the gold fields. Valparaiso was also an important way station for ships traveling around Cape Horn and on to California. By 1852 probably more than ten thousand Chileans had gone to California in search of gold. Parley very likely had met and even conversed with some of them before his own trip to Chile.17 But the language barrier, the social and political upheaval, and the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church forced Parley to abandon the first Mormon mission to Chile.18
Parley later reported to Brigham Young a conversation he had with a minister of the American Congregational Church: "He said there was no difficulty in landing religious books or papers and circulating the same, although the press is not free to print or publish any religion but the Catholic."19 Thus Pratt's Proclamation Extraordinary! To the Spanish Americans, written in January 1852 but not published until his return to San Francisco, contains a strong critique of Catholicism and an even stronger denunciation of the lack of the religious and press freedoms that Parley had generally enjoyed in the United States.20
The group departed for San Francisco on 2 March. During the sixty-three days at sea, Parley had ample time to continue writing and also to reflect. In a letter to Brigham Young written on the return voyage, Parley summarized his work:
Elder Rufus Allen and myself and Ph[o]ebe sailed from San Francisco September 5, for Chile, S.A., arrived in Valparaiso on the 8th November; from that time to the present has been devoted by us to the study of the Spanish language, and the laws, constitutions, geography, history, character, religion, manners, customs, resolutions, and events of Chile and Peru in particular, and Spanish America in general.
By intense application, I soon became able to read with a degree of understanding and interest in that language. . . .
It is in my heart to translate the Book of Mormon, and some other works and to print the same in Spanish as soon as I have the language sufficiently perfect. As [the cost of] printing is very high in all parts of the Pacific, it may be wisdom to go to England and get some printing and perhaps stereotyping done. . . .
I study the language all day, and think it, and even talk it loud in my sleep, in which I sometimes learn more than in the day. But it is no small work, to become familiar with the entire grammar, words and style of a foreign tongue, so as to write for publication.21
He had wanted to visit Peru, but "an empty purse and imperfect tongue" and a "want of books or the means to print them" forced him to reconsider.22 Parley explained that because he, his wife, and Elder Allen were in the midst of a civil war, still struggling with the language, and often going without proper food, they had decided to return to San Francisco. They arrived there on 21 May 1852.
Recuperating in the Bay area from May to July, Parley issued his Proclamation! in Spanish and had his Proclamation Extraordinary! printed. When a review of the latter appeared in a San Francisco newspaper and questioned the morality of Brigham Young, Parley responded with a broadside dated 13 July 1852: "Mormonism!" Plurality of Wives! An Especial Chapter, for the Edification of Certain Inquisitive News-Editors, Etc. Because the church's official public announcement of plural marriage was not made in Salt Lake City until 29 August 1852, he defended the doctrine of plural marriage without admitting to its actual practice.23 He left in July for Utah, arriving on 18 October 1852 in the Salt Lake Valley.
For the next year Parley busied himself in local matters. He participated in laying the cornerstones of the Salt Lake Temple in April 1853, farmed, and in August 1853 was elected to the territorial legislature. His April 1853 general conference address, "Spiritual Communication," was issued as an eight-page pamphlet in California, probably in 1854 and after Parley had returned to San Francisco.24 During the winter of 1853–54 he served as a regent of the University of Deseret, worked on a committee developing the Deseret Alphabet, and continued his personal writing and study of Spanish.
On 6 April 1854 Parley was appointed to serve a second mission to California and the Pacific region. He left Salt Lake City on 5 May and arrived in San Francisco on 2 July. This second mission, lasting about one year, found him concentrating on local missionary work (mainly in the San Francisco and San Jose areas) and on writing and publishing. In his Autobiography, written largely during this time, he summarized his activities: "We now commenced holding meetings, circulating books, tracts, and in every way we could, to notify and warn the people. . . . I devoted the time I could spare from the ministry to writing my history and for the press."25
Parley's publishing activities during this second mission fall into three categories: (1) his attempts to establish an LDS press in San Francisco, (2) his efforts to establish an LDS book supply agency for California and the Pacific, and (3) his own writing during this time.26 In all of these areas, George Q. Cannon would later play an essential role.
The idea of establishing a press for the Pacific was strongly encouraged by Brigham Young, although the issue centered on whether Hawaii or California was a better location. There were compelling reasons for initially selecting Hawaii, including the earlier history of missionary work in the islands, the Book of Mormon legacy in Alma 63 that ties the island peoples to those of that sacred text, and the growing importance of Hawaii in the Pacific region.27 The acquisition of the press was actually initiated in Hawaii with funds raised there, but circumstances brought it to California.
Once Hawaii was eliminated as the best location for the press, President Young deemed California "a central and influential position" where a press "can print for the islands as well, or better than if located there, which saves the expense of an additional press."28 The press was shipped from Hawaii and finally arrived in San Francisco, but too late for Parley to use. However, his successor, George Q. Cannon, made good use of it, as will be shown later.29
While Parley was working to establish a printing press in California, he was also anticipating the establishment of an LDS bookstore or distribution center by ordering large quantities of LDS publications from Liverpool.30 In April, before he left the Salt Lake Valley for California, Parley ordered materials from Franklin D. Richards in England. The large order was sent to him in July, and Richards included the invoice in a letter he wrote on 31 August 1854. The order included five hundred copies each of the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the hymn book, and Lucy Mack Smith's Biographical Sketches, three hundred copies each of the Pearl of Great Price and Lorenzo Snow's Only Way to Be Saved, two hundred copies each of John Lyon's Harp of Zion, Parley's Voice of Warning, and Orson Spencer's Letters, one hundred copies of Spencer's Patriarchal Order, plus a variety of other tracts and periodicals. The total cost of the order came to just over 340, much of which would be left to George Cannon to discharge.31
Parley had told Richards that he intended to publish a Mormon newspaper in California, and Richards had responded encouragingly in 1855: "I hail with great pleasure the opening of your book store, and the establishment of the 'Mormon Herald.' I trust that much good will result therefrom and that you may receive that patronage for it that will enable you [to] sustain it and maintain the interest of the work of the Lord in California and the Pacific Mission."32
Six months later Richards, who was also Parley's editor and publisher in England during this period, inquired about the newspaper's progress: "I am anxiously awaiting to see a copy of the paper to be published in California, and wish you much success in conducting the same that it may 'Herald' forth in that very questionable part of the civilized world the pure principles of Light and Truth."33
Parley's own writing occupied much of his time. In August 1854 a number of returning Hawaiian missionaries arrived in San Francisco, including George Q. Cannon, James Hawkins, Henry Bigler, and William Farrer. Parley invited Cannon to remain in his home, while the other missionaries traveled across the Bay to seek jobs picking potatoes to earn money for the rest of their journey home to Utah. Much of Cannon's time was spent copying Parley's history. By 21 September, four hundred manuscript pages covering Parley's life to July 1840 had been copied.34 For his work, Cannon was paid fifty dollars and given board.35 Parley also issued a broadside circular in August, Repent! Ye People of California!, which proclaimed his willingness to preach wherever invited as well as advertised his bookstore on Broadway Street.36
Parley had begun work on the Key to the Science of Theology in August 1851 and had given a manuscript to Franklin D. Richards to take with him to England in 1854. One chapter was printed in the Deseret News in November 1852,37 and the entire volume was finally offered for sale in March 1855.38 Parley was anxious to see this volume in print; it would be a possible source of income, and it managed to pull together many of the threads of his earlier writings. Writing to his brother Orson in May 1853, Parley announced: "I have completed a Volume of theology which is now ready from the press. It is altogether the choicest and most perfect specimen from my pen."39 Aware of Parley's anxiety about the volume, Richards wrote him in May 1855 to explain the delay:
As regards the "Key to Theology" I can readily conceive with what anxiety you have watched for the book, and have much regretted that you should have to wait for it so long. I fully intended to have had the work out and to have forwarded your 2000 Copies to Cal. and the 500 to Utah last fall, but such was prevented by circumstances which I could not control. The manuscript was put into the printers hands directly after my arrival in this country, but he was very unfortunate in having the plates go astray and with them the type on its return from London where the stereotyping had to be done, there being no place in Liverpool where such business is done at all fit for our purpose. This I believe was several times repeated, and to make matters worse he became embarrassed. These untoward and unlooked for circumstances drove the work into our Emigrating Season when it necessarily became a some what secondary matter for reasons I need not inform you of. Furthermore I was quite unwilling to have the work hurried thro the press without the opportunity of giving it that careful attention which I felt assured you expected of me. The book is now before the public, and when it meets your eye I trust it will also meet your approval. The sale is rapid and I think another edition will shortly be wanted. In the meantime I am having the Stereo. plates corrected in such things as most generally escape detection in first editions. I allude to uniformity, orthography, punctuation, etc. In addition to what corrections I may make there may be still some which you would wish to introduce after reading the work. If so, I would submit that it would be very advantageous if they could be introduced before the plates leave for America.40
Richards also was preparing the eighth edition of Parley's popular Voice of Warning, and both works were issued in editions of five thousand copies.41 Parley's Key to the Science of Theology was a publishing event. It was Mormonism's earliest comprehensive treatment of its doctrines. Without the dogmatism that sometimes characterized his brother Orson's writings, Parley surveyed the broad spectrum of Mormon thought in a style that invited further contemplation. He discussed the nature of the Godhead, the origin and destiny of the universe, the restoration of the gospel, the proper channel for mankind's regaining the presence of God, the resurrection, the three degrees of glory, and the great destiny of exalted men and women as procreative beings in the eternities. Many of these topics he had written on earlier, but this work allowed him to pull all these thoughts together in one volume, and it suggests the same process of gathering and assembling that he was using in composing his Autobiography. It would be his last book and his greatest work.42
The last chapter of Key to the Science of Theology, which has been altered in the later editions, was on a topic that plagued Parley's missionary efforts in California: polygamy. His 1852 broadside had addressed the topic, but the issue refused to die, particularly after the official public announcement in August 1852.43 After a short mission to the San Jose area in October 1854, Parley wrote Brigham Young that "plurality is a choker—some swallow it Bible and all, and others think the Bible is not true."44 In December he again reported the situation: "We are baptizing a few, from time to time, and the Gospel is being preached in many places. Polygamy meets us everywhere, and we are compelled to satisfy their minds on that first before they can possibly be satisfied with our preaching,—so we have met it in press, and pulpit, and the Spirit of Truth has almost struck them dumb with amazement and wonder. They are silent, and in a quandary, and feel half inclined to openly renounce the bible."45
Parley must have been heartened upon receiving a copy of Defence of Polygamy by a Lady of Utah, a pamphlet by one of his own plural wives, Belinda Marden.46 It was one of few published defenses of plural marriage written by women in early Mormonism. Dated 12 January 1854, the pamphlet presumably had been printed by March in Salt Lake City. Parley had received and distributed copies by September, when he wrote to the author: "Your Printed Letter is of world wide notoriety. It has appeared in a number of Newspapers, and finally in the Millennial Star. It convinces or shuts the mouths of all. It is one of the Little entering wedges of a worlds Revolution. A Learned Doctor here, who is a great spiritualist, Borrowed one of the pamphlets, and begs to keep it as a great treasure. The Governors Br. here read it, and remarks that the whole foundation of society was wrong, and needed revolutionizing."47
Although California has a twentieth-century reputation for open-ended lifestyles and religious experimentation, Parley was unable to convince the nineteenth-century inhabitants of that state to accept his arguments for plural marriage.
By the time Parley left California in June 1855, he had worked to establish a printing press and a book supply agency for LDS literature, and he had also made plans to publish a newspaper in San Francisco. He had set things in motion to accomplish all three, but it was left to George Q. Cannon to bring them to fruition. In a sense he was Parley's apprentice, and many of Cannon's publishing projects show Parley's influence.
Parley had written to Brigham Young in February 1855 that the press, papers, and other materials from the islands would probably reach San Francisco in early April and that then "there will be nothing to hinder going ahead with printing, both in English and in the Island language, provided Elder Cannon can return here to help. I see no way to dispense with him, as he understands both languages, is a practical printer, and has the Book of Mormon in manuscript in the Island language. . . . We can commence the publication of a 'paper' as soon as he comes and we can arrange the furniture etc. for printing." Parley's plans called for "A Book Depot—Press—& and a well conducted Periodical in this central position."48 Parley felt that these developments would be a blessing and help for the cause of Zion. By May he could report, "The press and paper has arrived in San Francisco to my charge, and is duely stored, and awaits the action of Bro. Cannon, who I am glad to learn is coming out to use it."49 The same letter reported that a fire had destroyed forty buildings in the city, a fact that probably encouraged Cannon's later choice of a brick building to house their publishing operation.
Cannon had devoted much of his 1850–54 Hawaiian mission to studying the language and trying to get various LDS works translated and published. Once he had conquered the language, the major project of his Hawaiian mission was to translate into Hawaiian and publish the Book of Mormon.50 Cannon had completed the first manuscript draft of a translation by 22 July 1853, although he continued rereading and revising it in the months that followed.51 At a preconference meeting on 5 October, the missionaries in Hawaii focused on the challenge of printing the translation. "The press was the first thing taken into consideration," Cannon noted, "whether we ought to have the Book of Mormon printed by hiring or whether we should purchase a press of our own and publish it and other works necessary for the instruction of the saints." When asked to express his own opinion, Cannon recalled, "I did not consider that my mission was fully filled until I saw the Book of Mormon in press if there was a prospect of it being done in a reasonable time."52 The group decided to appoint a committee of three (Cannon, Benjamin F. Johnson, and Philip B. Lewis) to adopt measures for procuring a press by subscription. In a conference vote the next day, these actions were sustained by the members.
The committee spent the next several weeks raising money for the purchase of a press, a project greatly assisted by a thousand-dollar interest-free loan in December.53 On 31 December 1853 Cannon received a batch of letters from home. Particularly important were reports of the publishing activities of his mentor and relative, apostle John Taylor, who was publishing the Book of Mormon and newspapers in French and German.54 In addition, a letter from Brigham Young encouraged Cannon's publishing effort, although Young advised caution regarding financial matters associated with the enterprise.55
The committee initially tried to purchase the press from California, and in March 1854 they were considering having the translation printed there, but ultimately the press was ordered from Boston.56 By the time the press reached the islands, the missionaries had moved to California on their way home from their missions. It was this press that Parley Pratt eventually received and stored in San Francisco.
Cannon arrived in San Francisco from Hawaii on 12 August 1854. He worked with Parley for a short time, mostly assisting with the copying of Pratt's autobiography, and then returned to the Salt Lake Valley. His visit there was brief. He married Elizabeth Hoagland on 11 December 1854 and was soon heading back to San Francisco on another mission that was clearly considered a continuation of his first. Following his arrival in California, he wrote an extensive report to Brigham Young, much of which focused on the press and his plans for publishing.57
Parley had received and stored the press, type, and paper. Cannon discovered upon examination of the press that a few of the ribs were damaged. He met with apostle Orson Hyde, who was visiting from Carson Valley, Nevada, and who convinced him to procure a suitable building in San Francisco in which to establish a print shop and to delay publishing a newspaper and concentrate his energies on publishing the Hawaiian edition of the Book of Mormon.58
Hyde and Cannon found a brick building on Montgomery Street in which they could rent two rooms. The building was owned by Samuel Brannan, and they arranged the rental agreement with his brother. A fireproof brick building was essential because a major fire had recently swept through the wooden structures in the city. After moving their printing material into this building, they were ready to begin the project of printing the Hawaiian edition of the Book of Mormon. There were numerous problems to solve; for example, although English fonts could be used in the typesetting, Cannon was short of the letters h and k, which were quite common in Hawaiian.59
By the end of August 1855 the first 128 pages had been printed. In a letter to Cannon, Hyde had given him the liberty to commence a Mormon newspaper and suggested The Western Standard as a title for it,60 but Cannon wanted to defer the enterprise until the Book of Mormon was much further along.
By October Cannon was getting bids for the binding of the Hawaiian edition, and he reviewed the details in a letter to Brigham Young that same month.61 By 3 December they had printed the 464th page of the translation, with just 56 pages to go, not counting the index, title page, and introductory matter. Although an anticipated paper shortage threatened to delay the printing of the final pages,62 Cannon's attention was beginning to focus on publishing a newspaper: it would be a boost to their missionary efforts and would help publicize their printed work. Cannon was concerned about Californians' deafness to the gospel message and hoped that "if perchance a spirit of inquiry might be aroused thro' the instrumentality of the press," missionaries would be on hand to preach.63
In January 1856 the printing of the Hawaiian edition was complete. Cannon sent Brigham Young one of the first bound copies 64 and informed him that he had issued fifteen hundred copies of a pamphlet in Hawaiian that gave a short history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon: "I thought it would be a good idea to publish something of this kind and prepare them to comprehend and rightly estimate the Book when they obtained it."65
In the same letter he also forwarded to President Young a copy of the prospectus for the Western Standard. Dated 4 January 1856, the prospectus announced a weekly newspaper that would be devoted to the interests of the church and "be an exponent of its doctrines, and a medium through which the public can derive correct information in relation to its objects and progress. Its columns will also contain items of general intelligence and the current news of the day, both foreign and domestic, which from our position, situated in the Queen City of the Pacific, we will be able to obtain at the earliest dates and in ample detail."66
The Western Standard was issued weekly from 23 February 1856 to 18 November 1857. Its publication occupied much of Cannon's energy and time, and the financial concerns were a major theme in his correspondence with Brigham Young.67 He sought subscriptions for it in both California and the Mormon settlements, especially in Utah, where he always found the most support for his publication.68 In September he noted, "We are still striving to create an interest in the minds of men toward the glorious principles of the latter day work," but he felt that "California is a hard country."69 To give more visibility to his newspaper, he had "a Bulletin board made and fastened to the edge of the sidewalk," and on it he pasted copies of each issue. The printing shop on Montgomery Street, "the most public thoroughfare in the city," was used to great advantage to "publish glad tidings."70
The Western Standard regularly responded to criticism of the Mormon Church. The paper's masthead announced its philosophy: "To correct Mis-representation we Adopt Self-representation." Cannon responded to other newspaper attacks and the growing publicity of the "Utah Question" in national politics, and he reprinted items from national publications such as Harper's Magazine and the New York Herald, as well as a weekly price list of various goods selling in San Francisco. The paper regularly reported the activities of LDS missionaries in California, Hawaii, and elsewhere and periodically included the minutes of various regional conferences of the church. In an early issue William A. Shearman encouraged both the publication and its editor: "Though but one 'Cannon' may you prove an effective, invincible and powerful 'Battery,' which the enemies of the Kingdom shall find it impossible to silence or captivate."71
Heeding Brigham Young's specific counsel to give more coverage to several earlier LDS pamphlets, Cannon serialized Orson Pratt's 1848 Divine Authority; or the Question, Was Joseph Smith Sent of God? and selections from Orson Spencer's Letters.72
Cannon's awareness of American literary trends and his growing opposition to reading fiction seems to date from this period. While Cannon was not opposed to all fiction (evidence indicates that he read James Fenimore Cooper during his Hawaiian mission), the tendency of nationally popular fiction to portray Mormons in the most unfavorable light led him to consider most of it either corruptive or a waste of time. Cannon's own publishing business would later try to offer alternatives to Mormon readers, who were increasingly drawn to the novel.73
Explaining and defending the practice of plural marriage were demanding more and more of Cannon's time.74 In December 1856 and January 1857, he noted in his paper the anti-Mormon lectures of John Hyde Jr. Hyde continued his activities against the church in the Bay area through April, which probably encouraged Cannon to print twelve hundred copies of Scriptural Evidences in Support of Polygamy, an expansion of Parley Pratt's earlier Marriage and Morals in Utah.75 The additional material in the pamphlet was one of the first examples of a Mormon author using non-Mormon material to defend the unpopular marriage system.76 Cannon, like Parley Pratt, wanted to print a series of pamphlets on LDS doctrine, but financial limitations continued to prevent this.
Additional frustrations soon presented themselves: "San Francisco seems to be the most difficult of all fields in which to awaken the people," Cannon reported to Brigham Young.77 In addition, the events leading to the so-called Utah War, which saw the abandonment of many missions outside Utah, forced Cannon to make several decisions. Copies of the Hawaiian edition of the Book of Mormon, for the most part still unbound, were sent to missionaries in the islands who could bind them as needed. As for his own press and printing establishment in San Francisco, Cannon first considered setting up a printing office in Hawaii by using spare items from the California operation. Although Cannon was sure that a newspaper in Hawaii would accomplish much good, the prohibitive costs and general poverty of the members there cautioned against it.
Following instructions from Brigham Young, Cannon began to shut down his printing operation in October 1857, publishing the last issue of the Western Standard on 18 November 1857.78 He tried to sell the printing fixtures but was unable to do so. He and his family left San Francisco on 3 December 1857 and were back in Utah on 19 January 1858.79
Cannon was subsequently assigned to other missions. Three years after Parley Pratt's death in May 1857, Cannon was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and later, in 1873, he was called to serve as a counselor in the First Presidency of the church. In 1860 he served in the British Mission by assisting with the editing of the Millennial Star and with other publishing assignments, including the important decision to establish a church press in Liverpool rather than hire non-Mormon printers.80 Although the move was the logical outcome of Parley's 1845 publishing statement that centralized Mormon publishing in the hands of the apostles, it was more directly a result of the church's earlier success in California of owning and operating its own printing office under the auspices of Cannon. While in England, Cannon oversaw publication of the second edition of Parley's Key to the Science of Theology in 1863, and in 1864 he gathered a variety of items from his earlier newspaper into Writings from the "Western Standard."81
Cannon's California experience of publicly responding to religious attacks and keenly analyzing and responding to the effect of national political developments on Utah were soon put to further use. Brigham Young assigned him to work with Thomas L. Kane in public and private lobbying activities on the East Coast in behalf of Utah and the Mormons. The full story is yet to be told, but President Young's growing trust of Cannon is evident in his correspondence with both Cannon and Kane.
Following his missions to California and Great Britain, Cannon established his own publishing business, George Q. Cannon and Sons. This enterprise was modeled after Parley's publishing business, which combined religious publications with business interests and ecclesiastical responsibilities. Cannon obviously had in mind Parley's autobiography—a work of literary merit and full of faith-promoting experiences82—when he began to issue what was promoted as a "faith-promoting series" in 1879, the first volume of which was Cannon's own personal history of his Hawaiian mission.83 After Cannon's death in 1901, the LDS Church acquired his printing company and later, in 1919, renamed it Deseret Book Company. It remains the flagship of the LDS Church's publishing interests—and a fitting legacy of Parley P. Pratt's and George Q. Cannon's pioneering efforts to strengthen and defend the church and to help spread the glad tidings of the restoration.
David J. Whittaker, president of the Mormon History Association from 1995 to 1996 and associate professor of history, is curator of Western and Mormon Manuscripts at Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Mormon History Association in Laie, Hawaii, 11 June 1990.