Strang, The Man
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James J. Strang was a somewhat of an ordinary man born in 1813, of a respectable family.  He had little formal education; but, was able through self-study to become a lawyer of some distinction.  His normal life was turned around after he became convinced of the truth of Mormonism in 1844, was baptized and confirmed by Joseph Smith, and ordained an elder under the hands of Hyrum Smith.  On June 27, 1844, he claimed to have been ordained under the hands of angels to the same office of Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver held by Joseph.  On July 9, 1844, he received the official Letter of Appointment from Joseph--written in accordance with the laws of God that had already been given.  This was the first news of the death of Joseph.  Under command of God, he gathered those saints who understood the law of God to Voree, near Burlington, Wisconsin.  His life was meager at best.  In 1850, God declared Beaver Island as a stake of Zion; and the gathering place for the saints.  They endured the most terrible persecutions from the whiskey traders in Mackinac.  James and many saints were arrested, detained in Detroit, and found innocent of all charges.  The continued strife that existed due to the devout life style of the Strangites ended in the assassination of James on June 16, 1856.  He died on July 9, 1856.

Life of James
Autobiography of James J. Strang
Character of James

Life of James

James was born on March 21, 1813 , in Scipio , New York .  In his Autobiography, he wrote, “My parentage was decidedly respectable.”  He described his childhood as “painful, and at this day I am utterly unable to comprehend the feeling of those who look back with pleasure on their infancy, and regret the rapid passing away of childhood… I learn from many sources that in childhood I exhibited extraordinary mental imbecility.” 

In 1816, his family moved to Hanover , New York ; where they remained for twenty years.  “There I grew up, and around that place cluster nearly all the recollections, pleasant and painful, of my childhood and youth.”  He attended grade school until he was twelve years old, “but the terms were usually short… I estimate my attendance during the whole period as equal to six month’s steady attendance with health for study.”

Those associated with James were evidently unable to recognize the genius that lay just under the surface.  Strang’s mental abilities, at an early age, are evident from his Autobiography.  He recalled “my mother carrying me in her arms, nursing me, and conversing with her sister about me.”  He recalled, from the age of seventeen months, his father’s residence “so perfectly in memory that after twenty year’s absence I was able to recognize the location in riding through.”  Even as an infant he pondered questions that adults could not understand.  “My mind wandered over fields that old men shrink from, seeking rest and finding none till darkness gathered thick around and I burst into tears and cried aloud, and with a voice scarcely able to articulate told my mother that my head ached.”

Although lacking in formal education, James continued an exhaustive self-study program.  He was admitted as a competent lawyer to the bar at age twenty-three.  James became a postmaster, lawyer, editor, and publisher.  On November 20, 1836 , he married Mary Perce, the daughter of a Baptist minister.  They had four children:  Myraette, Mary, William, and Hattie.  In 1843, he moved with his family to Burlington , Wisconsin , and started practicing law.

His life was turned about in early 1844.  His brother-in-law, Benjamin, joined the Mormon Church.  Moses Smith, a highly respected member of the church, visited Burlington .  The extreme interest generated by this visit caused him to return with Aaron Smith on foot some 400 miles in the middle of winter, in February, 1844, to Nauvoo , Illinois --the gathering place of the Mormons.

On February 25, he was baptized by water and the Spirit by Joseph Smith.  On March 3, he was ordained an Elder by Hyrum Smith, brother of Joseph and Patriarch to the church.  As Hyrum laid his hands upon James’ head, he prophesied, “I perceive by the spirit which is within me that thou shalt carry the gospel with the Spirit like flaming fire to many nations and by thee shall God save the pure of his people.”

Joseph gave James a charge to search out the land around Burlington . James wrote a report on the area; and mailed it to Joseph on May 24.  He suggested the area around Burlington for a Stake of the church; because of its climate, water supply, farm land, manufacturing potential, and availability to the Great Lakes .  His answer was written on June 18—the day Joseph appointed him to be the next Prophet and head of the people, in accordance with the laws of God.  “4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead. 5 And this shall be a law unto you.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 43)  On this same day James received a vision in which he saw the area as a thriving community and himself at some future time, “surrounded by wise men and counselors and priests and eloquent orators.”

On June 27, 1844 , Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered in Carthage Jail; while under the protective custody of the Governor of Illinois.  At the same hour, some 400 miles away, in Burlington , Wisconsin , James claimed to have been ordained under the hands of angels as an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver--as Joseph’s successor.  For almost two weeks James taught of this appointment, without any knowledge of the death of Joseph.

The letter of appointment arrived in Burlington on July 9, 1844 , in which Joseph prophesied of his coming death and appointed James as his successor.  Thus began the difficult and trying work of James the Apostle, Prophet, Lawgiver, Seer, Revelator, and Translator like unto Moses.

From 1844, until 1850, James worked to gather the saints to the new Stake of Zion called Voree—near Burlington .  Interpreted, Voree, means “ Garden of Peace .”  The saints who gathered to Voree were promised by God “if they will diligently serve me, and give heed unto all my words,” not to be persecuted.  Although they were not persecuted by the Gentiles in Voree, they faced considerable dissension from the followers of Brigham Young and others from among their own ranks.

When the people failed to abide by the commandments to gather and be as one, and to build the Tower of Strength and Temple , the gathering was moved by commandment of God to Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan .  James, with four other saints, first investigated Beaver Island in 1847.  “They tell us that Strang's object in pretending to be a prophet is, to live at his ease, upon the luxuries of the earth. They talk to us of his being rich, &c., &c. Talk not thus to me. I happen to be somewhat acquainted with the gent. And I am well persuaded from personal acquaintance that few men live poorer or endure more privations and hardships than this same Mormon prophet does. And that too without the least murmur or complaint. Well do I remember of this reputed rich man making a breakfast of cold water and bread, and that mixed up by uninitiated hands, and baked before a fire out of doors. And, to use a com­mon expression, would make good whetstones. And after having taken off the only pair of pants that he had, and mending them for half or three-fourths of an hour, then starting in company with myself for the purpose of ex­ploring the Island.

"It was through beech forests and cedar swamps, and cedar swamps and beech forests again that we traveled. Thus we traveled until near night, when we started for home. I soon became quite weary, but still pressed onward. Night soon overtook us, when, although a young man just in the prime of life, I rolled down in the sand and boldly avowed that I could go no further. So we encamped for the night, without either dinner or supper, fire or cover other than the broad canopy of the heav­ens.

"Here we lay until some time past midnight , when I was laying awake nearly stiff with the cold, I was saluted with the well known voice of the prophet inquiring if I was not sufficiently rested so that I could proceed. I replied that there was but two alternatives, to either go or freeze. So on we went, and arrived at the cabin about sun rise. We eat the last bread we had for breakfast, making about half a meal. All this did the prophet unmurmuringly submit to, for not a syllable of complaint did I hear from him. You may inquire why it was that we had no more to eat. It was ear­ly in the spring, and there had not as yet any provisions arrived. Consequently all on the Island were just out, and there was none here to be had.

“The foregoing I have merely given for the information of those who suppose that the prophet lives at his ease, and upon the fat of the land, being furnished by his followers with an overabundance of everything to insure his comfort and ease; hoping at the same time that those who are disposed when they arrive here now, under ten times as disparaging circum­stances, yet found murmuring and complaining, may derive some valuable hints therefrom.­--Could they but have been here from the start, and continued until now, they would be ready to exclaim:­--

“If nature's blessings can satisfy the human breast. Most assuredly the sons of Beaver are greatly blest.” (Gospel Herald, Vol. 4, No. 158, p. 236/824)

Life on Beaver Island was an almost continual harassment by excommunicated Mormons and Gentiles alike.  Opposition against the Mormons was centered in Mackinac.  The fire of persecution was kept burning by the illegal Indian whiskey trade.  The Light House and Post Office was called Whiskey Point.  The ruffians, mostly Irish fishermen, gathered there to replenish their supply of whiskey.  They gathered and continually harassed the saints.  The saints were met with abusive language and physical violence every time they went to pick up their mail.  James noted, “No fact can be more certain than that throughout the United States there is no legal protection to a Mormon.” (Northern Islander, April 13, 1851).

A new persecution began under the leadership of the O’Malley clique with the aid of Sheriff Granger of Mackinac County .  Criminal warrants were issued against thirty-eight of the saints.  To serve these warrants the Sheriff used, “a posse of 30 intoxicated Indians and eight or ten drunken Irishmen armed with guns.”  The villainous story is told in the May 1, 1851 , Northern Islander.

The dire condition of the saints is exemplified in the Northern Islander of April 3, 1851 .  “Mr. Strang and various others, including all the principal men among the Mormons, live in the continual consciousness that there are men around them seeking their lives; and that, should they be killed, the murderers would never be brought to justice by the authorities of the State.”

The persecutors of Mackinac swore not to rest until all the Mormons were either driven from the island, or destroyed.  To affect this horrible act, they invented various charges by which they could have the men on the island taken to Detroit for trial.  About 100 men and women were involved in the trial, which lasted over six weeks; and included the most grievous charges.  The story from the July 24, 1851 , Northern Islander follows.

“IMPRISONMENT OF THE PROPHET,
AND MANY OF THE SAINTS.

“On the 24th day of May last the U. S. war steamer Michigan, with a large number of civilians and a full compliment of men and arms, came into this place charged with the duty of arresting the prophet and some thirty of the saints, who were accused of every crime known to the laws of the Union, from treason to building a camp fire on a naked beach, with sticks of dry wood which grew on Congress land.

“Disappointed at meeting with no resistance, and finding no hostile array, they finally determined on taking nobody but James J. Strang, Joseph Ketcham, Finley Page, and William Townsend. Mr. Strang became bail for four others, and all the rest were discharged.

“At Detroit , where the prisoners were taken, fourteen bills of indictment were found against Mr. Strang, and thirty persons in all were indicted.  The proceedings were kept up incessantly until the 8th of July, when a verdict was rendered in favor of thirteen defendants, and they were discharged. This decision also discharged ten others, who had not been taken into custody, and in effect overthrows the whole prosecution.

“Pending these proceedings sixteen others were arrested and taken to Mackinac, charged with murder, whose only fault was assisting an officer in the execution of process in a case of violent and dangerous resistance, and under the imperative direction of the law officer of the State.—Fourteen of these are yet (July 23d) in custody, but it is thought they will soon be discharged.

“Several other arrests have been made on various pretences, but in every case the parties have been set free. During these proceedings the policy has been openly avowed, by our enemies, of continuing the arrests, until they took off all the men, and then to drive off and destroy their families. But this attempt has signally failed.  We are rapidly returning, while others of our brethren are gathering up, and the legal redress which we shall seek for these wrongs will tend to scatter our enemies, or gather them to their appropriate resting place at Jackson .

“In the whole course of this persecution, with perjury and falsehood without stint against us, no one has been found guilty of an offence, even on the showing of the prosecution. Generally, the defendants have introduced no witnesses, and in no case was it necessary in order to their acquittal.

“These prosecutions have been carried on with the purpose (in many cases avowed) of destroying the settlement here, but we shall outlive them all, and live to remember the authors of them.—The Lord reward them according to their works.

“The government has expended more money in this attempt to crush this infant settlement than the whole of Beaver Island would sell for.  In some countries governments are instituted for the protection of the weak.  We have even heard old people say that such purposes were once entertained in the United States , but we do not ourselves recollect the fact.  We are inclined, however, to credit it; for we found in Detroit a righteous Judge, but he was appointed to office so long ago that we cannot remember his patron.”

“MORMON PERSECUTION.

“We are gratified in being enabled to announce a verdict of acquittal in the United States District Court, of all the defendants.  We had feared that such would not be the result, notwithstanding our entire confidence in their innocence. The labored efforts made the Advertiser clique, in Detroit , to convict the defendants in advance of the trial, we had feared would have been felt in the jury box.

“The jury, we learn, was composed of ten Whigs and two Democrats, from which we infer the result to be anything but gratifying to those who have attempted to enlist the elements of political warfare for the purpose of convicting men innocent of the crime alleged against them.

“The Free Press of the 10th inst. reads the Advertiser a beautiful homily upon the impropriety of lending itself to such ‘base uses as manufacturing through its columns public opinion, to be felt in the jury box.’  We perfectly agree with the Free Press in the moral sought to be inculcated; and cannot forebear entering our solemn protest against the employment of branded and convicted felons with promises of reward, to hunt out and report the moral delinquencies of our fellow citizens, and by their own [?] to bring down their victims to a level with themselves.—St. Clair Observer.

“The trial of King Strang and other Mormons, in the U. S. Court , in Detroit , for obstructing the mail, &c., has been concluded—verdict of the Jury, not guilty.

“While we have no doubt this verdict, by an honest jury, is justified by the evidence in the case, and in strict keeping with every principle of right and justice, it could not have been otherwise than positively mortifying to the Detroit Advertiser.  That paper with a great flourish of trumpets, heralded the departure of District Attorney Bates and Marshall Knox, with the U. S. war steamer to Beaver Island, to arrest Strang and his party—gave its own one-sided and bitterly prejudiced version of the affair, and to complete the matter, actually pre-judged the case and condemned the parties unheard—a step grossly abusing the license of the press, and for which no excuse can be offered. Nor did the Advertiser stop here.  Thwarted in its designs to wreak vengeance on the Mormons by the verdict of an intelligent jury, it barely attacks the District Judge by insinuating that this verdict was rendered because of instructions by the court.  Verily, this is a poor subterfuge to escape the indignation every man must feel for the unprecedented and unjustifiable course of the Advertiser.  It is a hard lesson—may it not be in vain.— Mich. State Journal.”

With the saints having no representation under the law, James won a seat on the 1853 Michigan State Legislature.  He served two terms.  The Detroit Advertiser, on Feb. 10, 1853 , wrote of James, “Mr. Strang’s course as a member of the present Legislature, has disarmed much of the prejudices which have previously surrounded him. Whatever may be said or thought of the peculiar sect of which he is the local head, I take pleasure in stating that throughout this session he has conducted himself with the degree of decorum and propriety which have been equaled by his industry, sagacity, good temper, apparent regard for the true interests of the people, and the obligations of his official oath.”-- Detroit Advertiser, Feb. 10, 1853

As the numbers of saints grew, the animosity of the citizens of Mackinac against the Mormons grew even stronger.  Through a dismemberment of Emmet County , including Beaver Island , the saints were left without any protection under the law.  The Northern Islander of June 5, 1856 , included a testimony against the persecutions, which the Mormons had faced without resistance, since the church was first organized in 1830.  In this dialogue it was noted:  “We have not been suffered to live with other men. Shall we not be permitted to live alone? God made the earth for all men. Of the vast all he has given us a few little islands. They are the work of his hands; not man's. Why should man sell God's work?

“For nine years our communities have dwelt here in peace among themselves. The few small schisms which have arisen, have yielded to the ordinary course of discipline, and the wrong doers have either amended or departed from among us, doing us very little injury, except as they were abetted by public officers, religious boobies, the newspaper press, and bands of lawless men. Yet we are pursued from day to day with continual threatening. An effort is continually made to convince us that we are to have no rest forever.

“Three times have we fled before our persecutors, because we would not repel injuries by force. We understand by the word of God that it is our duty to flee no further. We do not learn from the divine writings that it is our duty never to resist evil deeds.—The time has come when forbearance is no longer a virtue.

“While men around us have for years threatened us with fire and blood, and we only asked legal justice, they have been continually commended for the forbearance, and we continually menaced with invasions, expatiation and death.

“We have ceased to take to ourselves any trouble about these matters. We have known for years what our persecutors seem so anxious to impress upon us, that, when the public vengeance is waked up the law will not protect us and that among an angry people innocence is no shield.

“We do not expect Governor or President to protect us against mobs. We live in the continual assurance that any one of us might be murdered in a neighboring county, and not a magistrate could be induced to issue process against the murderer.

“Yet we trust in God. We walk in conscious security. We laugh in bitter scorn at all these threats. And we tell these wolf hounds, marshal your myrmidons, and send them along, to make a spoil of beauty and booty, as soon as you please. We bid them a bloody welcome to hospitable graves; over which, each year, we will pile stones, with a muttered curse, against the day of the resurrection of damnation.

“We will neither purchase temporary peace and future calamities by dishonorable trafficking with political jugglers, nor will we yield our homes to enemies. If we live, here will we live. If we die, here will we die, and here shall our bones be buried, expecting in the resurrection of the just to possess the land forever, and dwell with the righteous during the lifetime of the Eternal.

“God judge between us and all men.”

On June 16, 1856 , the US Steamer Michigan docked at Beaver Island .  With the help of Capt. McBlair, two apostate Mormons mortally wounded James.  This black day in the history of freedom was remembered by Apostle Warren Post (included in James the Martyred Prophet).  He was taken home to his parent’s home where he died on July 9, 1856 .

In 1855, James began an Autobiography; but, it was never completed.  The manuscript is among the Strang Manuscripts in Yale University Library, Section A, page 1. 

Autobiography of James J. Strang

 “I was born March 21st, 1813 , on Poppe Ridge road, town of Scipio , Cayuga county, New York .  My infancy was a period of continual sickness and extreme suffering, and I have understood that at one time I was so low as to be thought dead, and that preparations were made for my burial.  All my early recollections are painful, and at this day I am utterly unable to comprehend the feeling of those who look back with pleasure on their infancy, and regret the rapid passing away of childhood.  Till I had children of my own, happy in their infantile gambols, the recollection of those days produced a kind of creeping sensation akin to terror.

“My parentage was decidedly respectable.  My father is a descendant of Henry de l’Estrange, who accompanied the Duke of York to the new world to conquer the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now the State of New York, and the family has ever since retained an honorable rank, and is now scattered over nearly all the States, and branches of it are found in British America and the West Indies.

“Tradition says they originally settled at New Utrecht, on Long Island , but Henry de l’Estrange, before his death, removed to the town of Rye, Westchester County, New York, where some of his descendants remained till since 1840.

“Tradition also says that my great-grandfather accompanied the first English expedition to Michilimackinac, during which he contracted a dangerous sickness, that he was sent back for medical treatment, and died on the way from the residence of Sir William Johnson to Albany. .

"He left two sons, William and Gabriel, who were brought up among their mother’s relatives, and by that means became separated from the family.  They settle at a very early period at Stillwater , in Saratoga County , New York , and were lost sight of by the Strangs in the south part of New York , and on numerous genealogical trees found in that country the limb breaks off with their names.

“My father, Clement Strang, is the fifth son of Gabriel Strang.   Coming originally of a Norman stock who have continually intermarried with the Dutch and German families of the Hudson , he partakes (as I do) more of the German type than any other.  Counting continually in the male line for ten generations back, our ancestors are Jews, but so large is the admixture of other blood that the Semitic type seems to be quite lost.

“My mother is of the purest Yankee stock from Rhode Island, her father, Jesse James, and her grandfather, James James, having left there about the time of her birth, and settled in Greenfield, Saratoga County, New York,  where they died full of years and honors.

“My father and mother are yet living (1855), with a reasonable prospect that they may remain many years.  They are both small of stature, my father being only five feet three or four inches, and mother less; of comely appearance, amiable, affectionate, charitable, remarkably industrious, skillful in labor and judicious in business, and unsullied moral and religious character.  I have a brother, David Strang, two years older than myself, and a sister, Myraette Loser, five years younger, and it is a great pleasure to know that there has never been a disagreement to amount to so much as a momentary coldness between any two members of the family.

“I learn from many sources that in childhood I exhibited extraordinary mental imbecility.  Indeed, if I may credit what is told me on the subject, all who knew me, except my parents, thought me scarcely more than idiotic.  Several facts remain in my recollection which support this opinion.  I well recollect that school teachers not unfrequently turned me off with little or no attention, as though I was too stupid to learn and too dull to feel neglect, and my school fellows did not forget to add their plight.

“I doubt not my appearance at least justified this opinion.  I remember myself as little disposed to play, seldom cheerful, and scarcely ever taking the slightest interest in the plays of  others.  Long weary days I sat upon the floor, thinking, thinking, thinking!  Occasionally asking a strange, uninfantile question and never getting an answer.  My mind wandered over fields that old men shrink from, seeking rest and finding none till darkness gathered thick around and I burst into tears and cried aloud, and with a voice scarcely able to articulate told my mother that my head ached.

“During the first and part of the second  year of my life my father’s residence was in that part of Scipio now included in Ledyard.  He left for Manlius in August, 1815, when I was about seventeen months old, and with a singular tenacity of memory I kept that place so perfectly in memory that after twenty years’ absence I was able to recognize the location in riding through.

“To the present time the recollections of my mother carrying me in her arms, nursing me, and conversing with her sister about me, and of the road along which they walked, and the work going on by the roadside, is as distinct as the events of yesterday.  It is the brightest of the few bright spots of may childhood, the only recollection of long years not accompanied with a sensation of pain.

“Until 1816 my parents remained in Manlius, my father carrying on the farm of Mr. Fleming, an extensive farmer from Maryland , who also kept a very popular tavern on the Great Western turnpike.  I have very few recollections of that period beyond an ill-defined but strong attachment to several members of his family and several of the colored people he brought there, and none of them in forty years, and none of them in thirty-two.  Such are the affections of childhood; at least, they are such with me.

“In February, 1816, my father removed with his family to Hanover , Chautauqua County , New York , where he remained twenty years.  His first location was two miles northeast of Forestville, and three-fourths of a mile from Walnut Creek, on the east side of the road, at the four corners, but a few years of the latter portion of that period we lived on Walnut Creek flats, in the same neighborhood.

“There I grew up, and around that place cluster nearly all the recollections, pleasant and painful, of my childhood and youth.

“On our journey I remember Buffalo as a small, straggling village of thirty or forty houses, occupied as taverns and drinking shops; so crowded that it was a matter of favor to get entertainment; where the same low, open, filthy room was used for barrom, dining room and kitchen, and a few hours the latter part of the night accommodated as many drawy, drunken and tired sleepers as could lie down upon the floor.

“From Buffalo we went to the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek on the ice.  Father was heavy loaded and obliged to travel slow.  There had been a day or two of mild weather; the snow was melted on the ice and had already thawed many a treacherous opening, and covered with water as the ice was, it was difficult for a stranger to keep the way over the thirty miles of dreary waste of ice without a landmark.

“To secure a passage by daylight father got a man who was going with a two-horse sleigh and no load but his wife to take my mother and her two children as far as Cattaraugus.  I only remember that the water sometimes came into the sleigh box, that the driver frequently jumped the horses across wide chasms in the ice, and sometimes found them so wide that he dare not cross them and went great distances around, and that my mother was terribly frightened, and hugged my brother and I to her with an almost suffocating grasp.

“I have since I was grown up frequently heard her speak of that passage as having terrified her almost to distraction, a terror much heightened by the continual quarrels and mutual profanity of the couple with whom we rode.

“We lost sight of father immediately after starting, and next saw him at Mack’s tavern, Cattaraugus.  The wind got into the northwest the afternoon of the day we started, and towards night one of the worst snowstorms of that latitude came on, obliterating in a few minutes every vestige of track on  the ice, filling the air so that a man could not see the length of sled and team, and rendering it utterly impossible to keep a course even for a few rods.

“This storm overtook father midway in the lake, about twenty miles above Buffalo .  What he suffered and how he survived none can know, only those who have experienced a similar catastrophe.

“I only remember that my mother cried incessantly, and ever and anon clasped my brother and myself convulsively in her arms, till three days passed, when he came to us as one from the dead.  Several reports of his death had reached us, some by persons who had seen his frozen body.  Whether some persons had really perished and been mistaken for him, or the reports were wholly false, I do not know, but the former is probable.

“From Cattaraugus to my father’s place in the same town was then two day’s travel, though on an air line not six miles.  the route was by Sheridan Center and Forestville .

“I attended school the following summer where the most moderate qualifications for teaching were satisfactory.  there were but two scholars who knew the alphabet, and none who spelled “easy words of two syllables.”

“From this time till I was twelve years old I attended district school more or less every year, but the terms were usually short, the teachers inexperienced and ill qualified to teach, and my health such as to preclude attentive study or steady attendance.  I estimate my attendance during the whole period as equal to six months’ steady attendance with health for study.

“My parents had good government.  Their family were raised without beating.  I can remember being very slightly whipped by my father twice and my mother once.  My sister was raised twice and my mother once.  My sister was raised without ever suffering chastisement either at home or in school, and my brother’s fortune——[Here the writing ends as if the writer had been disturbed, and never afterward had opportunity to resume the work.]"  (The Strang Manuscripts, Section A, page 1 -8)

  Character of James

  A most interesting description of the personal characteristics of James comes from a Phrenological Description of James J. Strang, as given by S. R. Wells on Sept. 11, 1846 ; and published in the Nov. 22, 1849 , issue of the Gospel Herald (Vol. 4, No. 36, p. 185/773).

“Your brain is quite large, full as much as you have physical power to sustain. Your mental temperament predominates, giving you a desire to exercise your brain more than your body, and hence will be liable to exhaust your strength, unless you take especial care of your health. You have more energy and activity of character than power of endurance. You have strong attachments to friends and home, yet you are fond of traveling for the sake of seeing the world and gaining knowledge. You are fond of variety and change. It is difficult for you to keep your mind on one thing long at once, but it flies from one thing to another without waiting to finish up a subject. Thus giving you versatility of talent, which enables you to attend to a variety of things without confusion.

“It would be well if you had more of this quality of mind in order to connect and com­plete your thoughts more perfectly. All your feelings are positive. You are never half way, but either the one thing or the other. You should be known among your acquaintances for your energy and perseverance, so long as you are engaged in a cause. You are never lazy, but on the contrary are apt to work too hard. You have been thrown upon your own resources, I should judge, and hence have cultivated force of character. You have a great deal of the feeling of resistance; are very fond of debate; like to take up on the opposite side for the sake of argument, if it does not come in your way otherwise, but you could not take pleasure in being unkind or injuring the feelings of another. It would be far more natural for you to relieve pain than to create it. You have less stern execut­iveness than spirit and courage.

“Your appetite is not extravagant, yet quite strong enough for your digestive apparatus. You should not use stimulus of any kind, as you are already too excitable, and they would only increase it. You are very sensitive to the opinions of others--cannot bear blame, par­ticularly from your friends--have a high sense of honor, a good deal of independence, love of liberty, and self-respect. You are very tenacious and unyielding in your views and opin­ions, after you have once decided in your own mind. You are anxious to do right and to know the truth, and then hold fast. It is easy to persuade you, but you will not be driven by anyone. You have not a miserly disposition, but want property for what it will accomplish; not to hoard up. You are frank and open hearted in the expression of your feelings--say just what you think--are sometimes too plain and blunt in your remarks, though this tendency of mind is modified by your ability to judge of the character and motives of others and adapt yourself to their peculiarities.

“Should you undertake to play the hypocrite, “lay low and keep dark," you would very soon expose yourself in some way, for you have not tact and cunning enough to enable you to carry it out into any great speculation or enter­prise. Yet at the same time you are impulsive, and inclined to act upon the spur of the mo­ment. It is well that you have cautiousness so strongly developed in order to guard your impulsiveness. You are very much inclined to think and investigate for yourself, and form your own opinions--are quite radical in your notions, slow to believe, unless you think you have good witness. You respect persons in proportion as their conduct and talent merit it, rather than on account of wealth, station or title.

“You have some reverence for sacred things, but are not particularly devotional. You are not extravagant in your anticipation, but gen­erally realize more than you expected. You have very strong sympathies and desire to do good, and spread happiness not only around you, but on a more extensive scale, so that it may reach all human beings. You may feel a good deal of indignation for a time, but it would be contrary to your nature to be cruel or revengeful. Your principles are averse to war. You would do all your fighting with your tongue and pen. It is hard for you to say "no," even when your judgment would dictate it, especially if a friend should ask a favor. You are fond of children or pets; are warm-hearted and ardent in your social feel­ings, fond of home and the social circle. You are not wanting in refinement of feelings, yet have not a very brilliant imagination. You appreciate the grand and sublime more than the merely beautiful. You can adapt your­self very well to the manners and customs of others, yet you have a character peculiar to yourself rather than copied from others. You have a very quick perception of the absurd and ridiculous--can enjoy jokes much, but yours are apt to be sarcastic. You could ridicule to pretty good advantage, if you should allow yourself to do so. You have better mechanical judgment than ability to execute--are not so skillful in the use of tools as many. You have a good memory of places, faces, forms and outlines, ideas and general events, but poor of details and particulars, and also of col­ors. You are very neat and systematic. You have a comprehensive mind--are capable of thinking and reasoning closely and clearly, and are very good at drawing inferences. You are more theoretical than practical. You need to cultivate the perceptive faculties in order to balance the reflections. You identify things better than you remember them. You have more ideas than capacity to communicate what you know. Your temperament is such as to make you talk rapidly, especially when ex­cited, but you have not that full, free, copious command of language that would do justice to your thoughts.

“In summing up your character I should say that the strong points were activity, energy, excitability, love of home and friends, fondness for debate, watchfulness and regard for consequences, sensitiveness and love of approbation, independence and will, love of liberty, perse­verance, sense of moral obligation, great kindness and sympathy of feelings, powers of sarcasm, ability to understand and reason, mem­ory of faces and places, love of order, judg­ment of the character and motives of others, and a faculty to win confidence and adapt your­self to circumstances. The greatest deficiency in your organization are want of strength and power of endurance, too much change and vari­ety of thoughts, too little economy and tact, a want of spirituality of mind and devotional feeling, and rather a poor memory of particu­lars. You are apt to be more injudicious in your expressions than actions. You have greater love for music than ability to execute. You should take particular care of your health, exercise enough, but guard against excesses of all kind.

“>>We publish the foregoing to gratify many friends. It is not improper to add that Mr. Wells did not know whom he was exam­ining until he had completed his work, and was not a little surprised on learning the name of his subject. The brothers Fowler separately reviewed the examination, and to the cred­it of the three Professors their results, were precisely alike. As Pres. Strang is now in the eastern States he will doubtless procure a re-examination to learn what change three years has made in his organization.”

James J. Strang was honored both by saints and enemies for his impeccable character.  In one of his revelations, the Lord declared him “more patient than Job, and meeker than Moses”

John Greenhow, President of the High Priest’s Quorum, wrote, “With regard to our beloved prophet, he already triumphs over all his enemies; and whilst the enemies of God and all righteousness are lifting up their puny arms in rebellion, I assure you that it only excites his pity.  Such a man (I was going to say) as Collins Pemberton does exist, who was very anxious to be known, and therefore adopted his present course, and I have taken some pains that he should be known.  The character of President Strang is far above their reach, and I have all confidence in him; and no one has had a better opportunity of judging his character, both public and private, than myself, for I had the happiness of living several weeks in the same house with him, and it was seldom indeed that his labors ceased before two or three o’clock in the morning, and he was invariably up before day-light, and laboring through wet and dry for the support of his family till dark, and then commenced his writing again to YOU.  While I am on this subject I hope I may be excused if I make you acquainted with one secret, that in paying for letters, finding paper, and many other trifling expenses, which I could enumerate, his family have been deprived of the comforts which you enjoy.  I say no more on this subject, but pray that you may long enjoy the comforts of this life, and in the world to come life everlasting.  I do verily know that God is with him, and committed a dispensation unto him.  He has labored faithfully and diligently to accomplish the work which our God has given him to do.” (Zion’s Reveille, Vol. 2, No. 4, p. 15/67)

 “THE TOUR.--Pres. Strang left Voree June 8th, to visit the east­ern churches. He way absent eight weeks, and in that time trav­eled 3,860 miles, principally by steamboat and rail road, and occa­sionally by stages and on foot; attended five Conferences; preach­ed 81 sermons: laid the foundation of the Indian mission house; spent a fortnight in a most minute survey of Beaver Islands, and visited nearly all the principal places between Wisconsin and the Hudson river, and many of the principal men; and has made con­verts to the cause and friends to himself wherever he went. He has so arranged that the mission house will progress to completion this season. And to secure to the settlers the advantages of trade and commerce, he has also arranged with capitalists engaged in the lake trade to have a steamboat of staunch construction at Beaver to make trips regularly to the various ports in the north part of lake Michigan; by means of which Beaver harbor will become the center of trade for an extensive region.” (Zion’s Reveille, Vol. 2, No. 22, p. 91/143)

 “Pres. James J. Strang, since his appointment to the prophetic of­fice, (by Pres. J. Smith,) has proved himself to be one of the most laborious, self‑denying, persevering men that the people of this the nineteenth century ever witnessed, to lay before the church his claims to the Presidency and to reform its character.

“Pres. Strang has labored by day and by night in extreme poverty, and it is not saying too much to say in hunger and rags, to redeem the church from apostacy and destruction. The fact is, there is now no excuse for any person (that has had the opportunity of reading the ‘Voree Herald’ and ‘ Zion 's Reveille’ for doubting or caviling any longer on the question. Who is the true President of the church?” (John E. Page, Pres. of the Twelve and the Presidents of the Seventies, Zion’s Reveille, Vol. 2, No. 23, p.96/148)

 “A MATHEMATICAL PROBLEM FOR OUR PRIVATE LETTER WRITERS TO ANSWER:‑-Suppose Mr. A. [James] is an officer in a church or a stake in which the interest of that community is, in a greater or less degree, invested; then suppose Mr. A. should receive four letters every day for one year, from private letter writers, and each of them required an answer immediately, and each answer would require three pages of common paper, price of paper one cent per sheet, and then add to that the probable expense of quills, ink and wafers; and then add to the bill of expenses one dollar per day for the time of writing‑-what would be the amount of the whole expense of Mr. A. for one year for letter writing in answering private correspondents? Four let­ters per day, 1,460 letters; each letter three pages of foolscap, 12 pages per day, 4,380 pages per year; price of paper per year, $14,60; one dollar per day for writing $365,00.

Then consider Mr. A. [James] has no salary for his official services, and as for his private estate he has neither lands, houses, cattle, herd or money at interest, or on hand. After you have solved thee above complex problem then answer the most difficult question of all‑-how is Mr. A. to support himself and family, when his wife wants a dress or a pair of shoes or any other article common for life, or when his children cry for bread, how is he to obtain it for them? What a fine thing it would be if Mr. A. could shoulder the whole world and carry them all to heaven on his own expense entire‑-yes, verily!” (John E. Page, Zion’s Reveille, Vol. 2, No. 25, p. 104/156)

 “HERE WE ARE.

“Yes, here we are, seated in a rough board shanty only twelve feet square, and that set in a hole dug in the ground for the want of means to make a warm house above ground. And who cares any thing about that? O, no body, as we know of. Our Savior said, when he lived among the proud and covetous on this earth, "that he had not WHERE to lay his head." Ho also said, "the servant should not be above his Lord." Jesus says again, "except a man deny himself, and take up his cross daily, he cannot be my disciple."--­How thrilling the thought, that men, belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who profess to believe in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the word of God given through his prophets Joseph Smith and James J. Strang, which all go to confirm the doctrinal fact that the generation has now come that shall not all pass away before the Lord of glory shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire and burn up all the proud, the covetous idol­aters, and all that do wickedly, with all of these unbelieving and equally disobedient offsprings, that there shall not be left of them root or branch to encumber the heritage of God.

“With these facts so plainly delineated before the eyes of men, and clear as language can make them, yet there are some on whom a kind providence has lavished more than a mere competence of this world's goods, who will quietly look on and leave the faithful, tried servants of God to live on less and coarser fare than what their horses or cattle do. If this was not a fact we would not say it, and was it not for the cause of God and his eternal truth's sake we would not say it at all. Oh! false hearted! Oh! hypocrite! Oh! idolater! How do you expect to escape the damnation of HELL!

“We realize the importance of our calling and station in this last dispensation, in which God has placed us, and not ourselves.--­There are many no doubt who are still following the old fashioned custom of the world of by-gone time, which is to lay up in store a goodly supply for posterity to enjoy when you are dead and gone. ­But let me tell you in great plainness that the time is near at hand that it shall be with you and your posterity as it was to the antedi­luvians when Noah had finished the ark and himself, wife and chil­dren had entered into it and God shut them in, only this difference, your destruction will be by fire sent down from heaven, while their (the antediluvians) was by water, What then will avail all the accumulated wealth of the wicked who withhold their substance from the servants of God, who are called to build a place of deliverance for the righteous, viz., Mount Zion, according to the word of Cod.

“We are often asked the question, brother Page, when are you go­ing out to preach again? In point of strength and constitution of body we are about 331/3 percent, when compared with most other men who engage in common labor for a living; that is to say, in six days we can earn the wages of two days work, which is about $1,50. When, by this scanty income, I call supply my wife and children with dally bread and can lay up in store enough for them to subsist upon a few weeks in my absence, if God please, we shall then go out, and tell the church and the world to repent of all their ungodliness, worldly lush, and COVETOUSNESS, WHICH is IDOLATRY. Besides the above, my wife must have a pair of shoes so that she can go to meeting, for at present she cannot for the want of them; and more, my children must have somc winter clothes and shoes that they may go to school, and especially to our Sunday school taught by Pres. Strang. Ah ! that is the place for our chil­dren to unlearn sectarian thinkso's, maybeso's, &c., and learn the knowledge of things as they are. Now, reader, draw your own conclusion when we shall go out to preach. If we should realize any thing at any time from any person to assist us in this matter why we should go the sooner, if not we shall go when it is consistent, for then it will become an imperative duty, and there we have it. This we have written not for the sake of yourself alone, but for all the well tried and faithful elders in the church who have given them­selves entirely to the ministry for a series of years, and are worthy of the confidence of all good people, and especially the saints.

“God bless the rich and poor who labor for Zion.
   
“JOHN E. PAGE.”
   
(Gospel Herald, Vol. 2, No. 37, p. 114/166)

 “PRESIDENT STRANG.
    “Ye SAINTS! how long shall it be so! that a man of the TALENT, INTELLECT, HIGH and HOLY calling of Pres. JAMES J. STRANG, with all the care and well being of the church of God on his hands, and the responsibility of editing the Gospel Herald, and the greatest share of the matter it contains originates with him. I ask, how long shall he be left to do that which, in the business of life, could be done by a mere dolt, whose talents are not adequate to any high­er business than to carry stone in a basket to wait on a mason in the repairing of Pres. Strang's dwelling house. With my own eyes I witnessed this thing done by the person of Pres. Strang. Who does not know that if Pres. Strang had means to pay a common la­borer for doing that business, at the simple pittance of 50 or 75 cts. per day, that he would do in the same time with his pen a thousand times more good for the church and the world. Ye rich! suppose you try the experiment of sending him some of your V's, X's and C's, if you please, and then patiently wait the Lord's time and see what will be your reward in the
kingdom of God . As the Lord liveth, you will rejoice for so doing in the day of the coming of the Lord to sever the wicked from among the just.
   
“JOHN E. PAGE.” (Gospel Herald, Vol. 2, No. 37, p. 167/219)

 “Nor do I press this matter with so much earnestness from any egotism of success. True, with all my friends, I expect to suc­ceed entirely. But our confidence is in the cause, not in the man. The same would be expected of any of the Elders, who is able to make himself understood. I possess no one advantage over the common mass of my countrymen, except the intrinsic merit of the cause I have espoused. Born of poor parentage, raised on the very borders of civilization, suffering with debilitating disease from in­fancy, I had a most indifferent opportunity of obtaining even a com­mon school education. I have neither had the benefit of a private tutor, nor attended school one week since I was fifteen years of age. I have never known one day of health since I was born; and at the age of thirty-five find the weakness of youth and the decrepitude of old age meeting in me. Yet in this cause I feel myself able to endure all things, and the thought of failure never enters my heart. I seek the encounter, knowing that among my friends the most flat­tering success is but barely what they would expect of any one, and will bring with it no honor; and that the slightest failure would bring with it the most overwhelming disgrace.” (Gospel Herald, Vol. 3, No. 98, p. 182/494)

 “Now, brother, imagine that the prophet is sitting down by your side before your warm fire, and as the rich bounties of earth come on your table your wife and yourself vie with each other in excu­ses because it is no better. As you gather round the table, why does he yet linger at the fire? Do you know he has no over coat? not a shred of flannel about him? wears a summer vest? and both coat and pants are half worn? that he wears a straw hat at mid­winter? And he has been a prey to rheumatism for years. Well, let him warm by the fire. This is all the clothing he has. But do not help him to more; for if you do as soon as he gets home he will divide with his brethren of the Order of Enoch, who are as bad off as he is. Give him nothing but water to drink. It is so long since he has drank anything else, he might not know what it was. Give him neither cakes, pies or sweet meats. He will remember in bitterness that his children at home can have none.” (Gospel Herald, Vol. 3, No. 105, p. 219/531)

 “STRANG, about midnight , July 4th, started for Bea­ver Island on his sixth trip, and third for this season. His labors are so onerous that he was obliged to continue his toils till that hour, and then travel twenty-seven miles to take the morning boat. Indeed, for some months he has not slept in a bed two nights in a week. Yet, except a slight attack of bronchitis, his health is ex­cellent.” (Gospel Herald, Vol. 4, No. 321, p. 76/664)

 “As to the question of morals I am prepared to justify it. And upon any question of morals, until the law interposes, I have a right to judge for myself. Though I acknowledge myself amenable to public opinion, I shall not answer at the bar of men who avail themselves of every opportunity to corrupt a neighbor’s wife or prostitute his daughter. I never did such a deed, and never stepped my foot inside a house of ill fame. Doubtless there are men who think those venial offences, and mine mortal. On the other hand I think mine no offence at all, and theirs very abominable—destructive of peace and life. If I am in error, I err with Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles.” (James J. Strang, Northern Islander, Vol. 5, No. 80, p. 234)

 “Camp of Israel—Twelvites--Rigdonites and Voree Mormons.--We stated yesterday that the emigrating Mormons had assumed the cognomen of the “Camp of Israel”, which we are informed includes the awful corrupt “Twelve,” the “Danites”, the “Destroying Angels,” and most of the “bogus makers,” “Thieves,” “assassins,” “police,” and “vulgar herd,” of that strange people.  From  the best information we can obtain, and we have taken some pains, they are as corrupt a set of “land pirates” as ever disgraced the earth; though they are much to be pitied on account of the suffering women and children, who are emigrating with them.  The poverty and actual suffering of these poor creatures are enough to sicken the heart of all feeling persons, while it should satisfy all who have comfortable raiment, and a sufficiency of food, with their condition in life, and learn them “to be therewith content.”  The people of Illinois have determined that all the Mormons, of every clique shall leave the State.  There are  now three principal cliques of Mormons - 1st. The “Twelveites,” who are moving off somewhere to the west, with the most corrupt, abandoned, licentious, low and groveling portion of the church, now called the “Camp of Israel.”  2d. The “Rigdonites” who are locating their “ Zion ” near Chambersburgh , Pennsylvania .  They include in their number, it is said, many excellent men and estimable citizens, who left the Twelveites in consequence of their “spiritual wife doctrine” and other abominations.  3rd.  The “Voree Mormons” who acknowledge James J. Strang, Esq., as their prophet.--This portion of the church is evidently the most orderly and law-abiding, and includes most of the talent and virtue of that people.  They are rapidly increasing in numbers, and most of the churches out of Nauvoo have declared for “Strang and Voree;” and “ Voree , Wisconsin ”, is to be the “great gathering place” of the sincere and virtuous portion of the “Latter Day Saints.”— Ohio Union .” (Northern Islander, Vol. 5, No. 68, p. 188)

CLICK BELOW TO GO TO CHAPTER THREE:

JAMES J. STRANG, THE PROPHET