Sunday, October 5, 1856
Several thousand Saints had gathered for the semi-annual conference where they anticipated the word of the Lord from the mouths of the Prophet and apostles. Was there anything special to be said this Sabbath?
Rumors abounded of two full companies of emigrants still out on the plains racing against time to reach the Valley before being cut off by winter. A company of missionaries had just arrived the night previous and rumor had it that President Young had not been pleased with what they had to report.
The Tabernacle was hushed as the Prophet and President of the Church, himself a veteran of more than one crossing of the plains, stood and discussed the topics about to be preached. Fifty five years old and twelve years beyond the murder of his predecessor in Illinois, Brigham Young spoke forcefully to a mixed audience of veterans of Latter Day Saint tribulations back in the Midwest and newer converts; all however having paid certain prices of toil and sacrifice to find a life in the Valley.
"I will now give this people the subject and text for the Elders who may speak today and during the rest of the Conference. It is this:
On the fifth day of October, 1856, may of our brethren and sisters are on the plains with handcarts and probably many are now seven hundred miles from this place. They must be brought here and we must send them assistance!
The text then will be: To Get Them Here.
I want the Brethren who may speak to understand that their text is the people on the plains. And the subject matter for this community is to send for them and bring them in before winter sets in. That is my religion; that is the dictation of the Holy Ghost that I possess -- to save the people. This is the salvation I am no seeking for -- to save our brethren who would be apt to perish or suffer extremely if we do not send them assistance.
I shall call upon the Bishops this day. I shall not wait until tomorrow, nor until the next day for sixty good mule teams and twelve or fifteen wagons. I do not expect to wait for the Bishops to spread the word next Sunday in their ward meetings and wait a week after that for a report and a week after that for teams and wagons. I expect to have found as many teams, wagons and teamsters as needed by tomorrow and have them on their way East by day after tomorrow.
I do not want to send oxen. I want good horses and mules. They are in this territory and we must have them! Also twelve tons of flour and forty good teamsters besides those that drive the teams.
This is dividing my text into heads: First, forty good young men who know how to drive teams to take charge of the teams that are now managed by men, women and children who know nothing about driving them.
Second, sixty or 65 good spans of mules or horses with harness, whipple trees, neckyokes, stretchers, lead chains, etc...
And thirdly, twenty four thousand pounds of flour which we already have on hand.
Now I tell you that your faith, religion and profession of religion will never save one soul of you in the Celestial Kingdom of our God unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains and attend strictly to those things which we call temporal or temporal duties. Otherwise, your faith will be in vain. The preaching you have heard will be in vain to you and you will sink to Hell unless you attend to the things we tell you.
The emigration is late and reasons for that are not good, but we will have the winter to talk about the reasons. What you need to understand is that their faith is that the God of Heaven will control the elements providing you, their brethren and sisters, come across with the assistance He has provided you.
Now I feel disposed to be as speedy as possible in our operation with regard to helping them. Consequently, I shall call upon the people forthwith for the help that is needed. I want them to give their names this morning if they are ready to start on their journey tomorrow. I do not want them to say, 'I will go next week, or in ten days, or in a fortnight hence.' I wish to start tomorrow morning.
I want the sisters to have the privilege of fetching in blankets, skirts, stocking shoes, etc., for the men, women and children that are in those handcart companies. Hoods, winter bonnets --almost any description of clothing.
I want brethren to come forward. We need the teamsters. You may now rise up and give your names."