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Lorenzo Snow

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Lorenzo Snow

Lorenzo Snow
5th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
September 13, 1898 (1898-09-13) – October 10, 1901 (1901-10-10)
Predecessor Wilford Woodruff
Successor Joseph F. Smith
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 7, 1889 (1889-04-07) – September 13, 1898 (1898-09-13)
End reason Became President of the Church
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
August 29, 1877 (1877-08-29) – September 13, 1898 (1898-09-13)
End reason Became President of the Church
Assistant Counselor in the First Presidency
May 9, 1874 (1874-05-09) – August 29, 1877 (1877-08-29)
Called by Brigham Young
End reason Dissolution of First Presidency upon death of Brigham Young
Counselor in the First Presidency
June 8, 1873 (1873-06-08) – May 9, 1874 (1874-05-09)
Called by Brigham Young
End reason Called as Assistant Counselor in the First Presidency
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 12, 1849 (1849-02-12) – June 8, 1873 (1873-06-08)
Called by Brigham Young
End reason Called as Counselor in the First Presidency
LDS Church Apostle
February 12, 1849 (1849-02-12) – October 10, 1901 (1901-10-10)
Called by Brigham Young
Reason Reorganization of [First Presidency; excommunication of Lyman Wight[1]
at end of term
Hyrum M. Smith ordained
Personal details
Born Lorenzo Snow
(1814-04-03)April 3, 1814
Mantua, Ohio, United States
Died October 10, 1901(1901-10-10) (aged 87)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Resting place Brigham City Cemetery
Spouse(s) Charlotte Squires
Mary Adaline Goddard
Sarah Ann Prichard
Harriet Amelia Squires
Eleanor Houtz
Caroline Horton
Mary Elizabeth Houtz
Phoebe Amelia Woodruff
Sarah Minnie Ephramina Jensen
Children 42
Signature of Lorenzo Snow

Lorenzo Snow (April 3, 1814 – October 10, 1901) was the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1898 to his death. Snow was the last president of the LDS Church in the nineteenth century and the first in the twentieth.


  • Family 1
  • Introduction to Mormonism 2
  • Early church service 3
  • Wives and children 4
  • Migration to Utah 5
  • Call to the Twelve and missions abroad 6
  • Activities in Utah 7
  • Political offices 8
  • Other activities 9
  • Activities in Idaho 10
  • Snow in the U.S. Supreme Court 11
  • Actions as church president 12
  • LDS doctrine 13
  • Portrayal in film 14
  • Notes 15
  • References 16
  • External links 17


Snow was the fifth child and first son of Oliver Snow (September 18, 1775, Massachusetts – October 17, 1845, Illinois) and Rosetta L. Pettibone (October 22, 1778, Connecticut – October 12, 1846, Illinois), residents of Mantua Township, Ohio, who had left New England to settle on a new and fertile farm in the Connecticut Western Reserve. Lorenzo had siblings Leonora Abigail Snow (1801–1872), Eliza R. Snow (1804–1887), Percy Amanda Snow (1808–1848), Melissa Snow (1810–1835), Lucius Augustus Snow (born 1819), and Samuel Pearce Snow (born 1821).

Despite the labor required on the farm, the Snow family valued learning and saw that each child had educational opportunities. Snow received his final year of education at Oberlin College, which was originally founded by two Presbyterian ministers. Snow later made his living as a school teacher when not engaged in church service.

Introduction to Mormonism

The Snow home in Mantua, Ohio.

In 1831, Joseph Smith, the Latter Day Saint prophet, took up residence in Hiram, Ohio, four miles from the Snow farm. The Snow family was Baptist, but soon took a strong interest in the new religious movement. Snow recorded that he heard the Book of Mormon being read aloud in his home in Mantua and met Smith at Hiram in 1831. By 1835, Snow's mother and his older sister Eliza, had joined the Latter Day Saint church. Eliza soon moved to the church headquarters in Kirtland, Ohio, and worked as a school teacher. She, in her biography of Snow, claims to have fostered his interest in Mormonism while he was at Oberlin. Eliza invited Snow to visit her and attend a school of Hebrew newly established by the church. During his visit there, in June 1836, Snow was baptized by John F. Boynton, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Early church service

While living in Kirtland in 1837, Snow was called to serve a short mission in Ohio, traveling "without purse or scrip." He recorded that relying on the kindness of others for his meals and lodging was difficult for him, as he had always had sufficient means to care for himself. When he returned to Kirtland in 1838, Snow found Smith's followers in turmoil over the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society. Snow and the members of his extended family chose to move to Missouri in the summer of 1838 and join the Latter Day Saints settling near Far West. Snow became seriously ill with a fever, and was nursed for several weeks by his sister Eliza.

On his recovery, Snow left for a second mission to Illinois and Kentucky in the fall of 1838. He served there through February 1839, when he learned that the Latter Day Saints had been expelled from their settlements in Missouri. He traveled home by way of his former mission area in Ohio. He was again taken ill and was cared for by members of the church. He remained in Ohio, preaching and working with church members until the fall of 1839. During the school year of 1839–40, Snow taught in Shalersville, Ohio. He sent money to his family, which had by then settled in Nauvoo, Illinois; he joined them in May 1840.

Shortly after he arrived in Nauvoo, Snow was asked to serve a mission in England. After an unpleasant sea voyage from London. During his administration, church membership in the city increased from approximately 100 to 400 members. He was released from his mission by Pratt, who by then was president of an expanding European Mission. Snow arrived home on April 12, 1843, and was accompanied by a shipload of 250 British converts.

After visiting with his family, Snow again secured a teaching position for the winter, teaching at Lima, Illinois, thirty miles from Nauvoo. In late spring 1844, he returned to Ohio, preaching and baptizing new converts and distributing recent church publications to members. He was working in Cincinnati, Ohio, when he learned of the assassination of Joseph Smith. Snow closed his Ohio mission and promptly returned to Nauvoo.

During the period of Quorum of the Twelve under Brigham Young. In 1845, Snow was involved in work in the Nauvoo Temple.

Wives and children

Before leaving Nauvoo, Snow accepted the principle of plural marriage and took two wives. Later, he took seven more.

  • Charlotte Squires (19 November 1825 Ohio – 25 September 1850). Married October 1844.
    • Leonora Charlotte Snow (23 January 1847 – June 1847)
    • Roxcy Armatha Snow (14 December 1849 – 9 July 1931)
  • Mary Adaline Goddard (8 March 1812 Connecticut – 28 December 1898). Married 1845.
    • Rosetta Adaline Snow (7 November 1846 – 1 January 1933)
    • Oliver Goddard Snow (20 February 1849 – 13 August 1931)
    • Isadore Percy Snow (24 February 1855 – 1 May 1925)
  • Sarah Ann Prichard (29 November 1826 Ohio – 30 November 1900). Married 21 April 1845.
    • Eliza Sarah Snow (30 November 1847 – 5 October 1937)
    • Sylvia Snow (16 January 1850 – 2 January 1934)
    • Lorenzo Snow, Jr. (7 July 1853 – 26 August 1942)
    • Parinthia Snow (5 October 1855 – 23 November 1933)
    • Laurin Alvirus Erastus Snow (2 December 1863 – 22 April 1947)
  • Harriet Amelia Squires (13 September 1819 Ohio – 12 May 1890). Married 17 January 1846.
    • Abigail Harriet Snow (16 July 1847 – 9 May 1914)
    • Lucius Aaron Snow (11 December 1849 – 3 October 1921)
    • Amelia Herrietta Snow (15 February 1854 – 30 October 1854)
    • Alonzo Henry Snow (15 February 1854 – 1 November 1854)
    • Celestia Armeda Snow (2 December 1856 – 13 March 1938)
  • Eleanor Houtz (14 August 1831 Pennsylvania – 13 September 1896). Married 1848.
    • Amanda Eleanor Snow (19 April 1850 – 21 October 1850)
    • Ida Snow (2 January 1854 – 15 January 1923)
    • Eugenia Snow (5 July 1856 – 13 January 1946)
    • Alphonzo Houtz Snow (13 October 1858 – 22 February 1933)
    • Susan Imogene Snow (4 May 1861 – 16 October 1864)
    • Roxcy Lana Snow (22 October 1863 – 17 July 1951)
    • Hortensia Snow (17 July 1867 – 17 January 1931)[2]
    • Chauncey Edgar Snow (8 July 1870 – 1 February 1940)
  • Caroline Horton (25 December 1828 England – 21 February 1857). Married 9 October 1853.
    • Clarissa Caroline Snow (19 July 1854 – 15 October 1917)
    • Franklin Horton Snow (3 February 1857 – 2 January 1939)
    • Sarah Augusta Snow (3 February 1857 – 17 February 1857)
  • Mary Elizabeth Houtz (19 May 1840 Pennsylvania – 31 May 1906). Married 1857.
    • Lydia May Snow (21 Jan 1860 – 22 December 1898)
    • Jacob E. Fitzroy Snow (31 October 1862 – 2 December 1862)
    • Virginia Marian Snow (30 January 1864 – 30 March 1951)
    • Mansfield Lorenzo Snow (8 September 1866 – 26 October 1923)
    • Mortimer Joseph Snow (19 November 1868 – 20 June 1935)
    • Flora Bell Birdie Snow (19 July 1871 – 23 February 1950)
  • Phoebe Amelia Woodruff (4 March 1842 Nauvoo, Illinois – 15 February 1919). Married 4 April 1859. Phoebe was the daughter of Wilford Woodruff.
    • Mary Amanda Snow (4 September 1860 – 6 September 1860)
    • Leslie Woodruff Snow (6 February 1862 – 28 November 1935)
    • Orion Woodruff Snow (6 September 1866 – 7 March 1939)
    • Milton Woodruff Snow (7 February 1868 – 24 January 1943)
    • Phoebe Augusta Florence Snow (7 August 1870 – 6 February 1964)
  • Sarah Minnie Ephramina Jensen (10 October 1854[3] – 2 January 1908). Married on 12 June 1871.[4]
    • Le Roi Clarence Snow (28 August 1876 – 31 December 1962)
    • Minnie Mabelle Snow (23 May 1879 – 3 December 1962)
    • Cora Jean Snow (16 February 1883 – 11 August 1883)
    • Lorenzo Lamont Snow (26 August 1885 – 7 May 1954)
    • Rhea Lucile Snow (5 November 1896 – 9 July 1976)

Migration to Utah

Snow and his family, with wagons and livestock, joined a group of emigrants and moved across the Salt Lake Valley in 1848.

Call to the Twelve and missions abroad

In 1849, Snow was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was added to the Quorum on the same day as Franklin D. Richards, Erastus Snow (a distant cousin), and Charles C. Rich. They were called to fill vacancies caused by the re-establishment of the First Presidency and Lyman Wight's apostasy.

Shortly after his call to the Twelve, Snow left on a mission to Italy and French-speaking Switzerland. He later sent missionaries under his direction to India (1849–52). Snow was directly involved in missionary work in Italy and Switzerland, and also preached in Malta. He had planned to visit India, but various circumstances prevented this journey.

Snow began his mission in Italy among the Waldensians, an ancient sect of Christians who inhabited the Piedmont Valleys in the Alps. (Waldensianism predates the Reformation by several hundred years and is completely separate from Catholicism.) Snow and his companions Joseph Toronto, Thomas Stenhouse, and Jabez Woodard initially had very little success in converting the Waldensians to Mormonism. However, after healing a three-year-old boy named Joseph Gay, they began to find converts. In the end, more than 150 Waldensians converted to Mormonism, and 70 eventually emigrated to Utah.

Snow also discovered the poem "The Mountain Christians" while preaching among the people of the Piedmont Valleys; it was later modified and re-titled as the hymn "For The Strength of the Hills." The song has remained in the LDS Church's hymnal for more than 100 years.[5][6][7][8]

In 1850, Snow wrote a pamphlet entitled "The Voice of Joseph" to advance missionary work in the Italian mission. He was unable to find anyone in Italy to translate it so sent it to Orson Pratt, then the president of the British Mission, who eventually found someone in Paris to translate it. In 1851, Snow published a pamphlet entitled "The Italian Mission"[9] about the church's missionary efforts in Italy. It was published in London.

In January 1851, Snow went to England and found a person there whom he hired to translate the Book of Mormon into Italian.[10]

The efforts of missionaries under Snow, especially the ones he sent to Turin, inspired an article attacking the Mormon missionaries for undermining the Roman Catholic Church in the Turinese paper, L'Armonia. Snow and his successors were unsuccessful in the cities also due to opposition to their activities by the government of Camillo Cavour.

Activities in Utah

On his return to Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association.

In 1853, under the direction of church president Brigham Young, Snow brought additional settlers to Brigham City, Utah. Settlement had begun on a limited scale at this site under the name "Box Elder." Snow changed the name and moved the community towards living up to its name. He was also a key backer of the Brigham City Cooperative, which was the inspiration for ZCMI and other cooperatives.

In 1864, Snow was sent on a mission to the Sandwich Islands. He went on this mission with Ezra T. Benson and Joseph F. Smith. The mission was prompted by messages from Jonatana Napela and other Hawaiian church members about the irregular administration of the church by Walter M. Gibson. While in Hawaii, Snow was seriously injured but was healed through the ministration of holders of the priesthood.[11]

Some accused Snow of engineering the 1901 election of Thomas Kearns, his friend and a wealthy Catholic, to the United States Senate. However, it may have been a shrewd decision to help Utah retain its statehood by electing a non-Mormon to represent Utah.[12]

Political offices

Snow was first elected to the Utah Territorial Council, the upper house of the territorial legislature, in 1855. Originally, he represented Weber County along with Lorin Farr. At that point, Weber County encompassed all of Utah north of Davis County. By 1857, Box Elder County, Cache County and the short-lived Malad County were added to the area Snow and Farr represented. In 1863, Weber and Box Elder Counties were broken off from Cache County (Malad County was by then defunct) and made a single-representative district, with Snow remaining as their lone council member. (Ezra T. Benson had replaced Farr as the other councilor in 1861; he was a resident of Cache County and remained the other councilor after the district was split.) In 1872, Snow became the president of the council. He held this position for through the end of 1881. In 1882, Snow remained a member of the council but he was succeeded as its president by Joseph F. Smith. In 1884, Snow was succeeded as a member of the council by Franklin S. Richards.[13]

Other activities

Activities in Idaho

As the church expanded into the surrounding states, members of the Quorum of the Twelve would be sent to other states of assignment.

In 1888, Snow went to Rexburg, Idaho, where he told the leaders of the stake that Karl G. Maeser had been appointed Commissioner of Church Education and recommended that they form a stake academy. The local leaders followed Snow's instructions and the institution they formed eventually evolved into Brigham Young University–Idaho,[15] formerly known as Ricks College.

Snow in the U.S. Supreme Court

Snow was the subject of a United States Supreme Court case regarding polygamy prosecutions under the Edmunds Act. In late 1885, Snow was indicted by a federal grand jury for three counts of unlawful cohabitation. According to his indictments, Snow had lived with more than one woman for three years. The jury delivered one indictment for each of these years, and Snow was convicted on each count. After conviction he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court which convicted him. The petition was denied, but federal law guaranteed him an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. In Ex Parte Snow,[16] the Supreme Court invalidated Snow's second and third convictions for unlawful cohabitation. It found that unlawful cohabitation was a "continuing offense," and thus that Snow was at most guilty of one such offense for cohabiting continuously with more than one woman for three years.

Actions as church president

The first notable action of Snow as president of the church was that he organized the First Presidency almost immediately after Wilford Woodruff's death, rather than waiting years as his predecessors had.

As he began his tenure as president, Snow had to deal with the aftermath of legal battles with the United States over the practice of plural marriage. Men engaging in plural marriage were still being arrested and confined in Utah. Some members of the LDS Church did not accept the 1890 Manifesto put forth by Woodruff, and there was a strong division of opinion on plural marriage even in the priesthood hierarchy of the church.

The LDS Church was also in severe financial difficulties, some of which were related to the legal problems over plural marriage. Snow approached this problem first by issuing short term bonds with a total value of one million dollars. This was followed by emphatic teaching on

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Wilford Woodruff
President of the Church
September 13, 1898 – October 10, 1901
Succeeded by
Joseph F. Smith
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 7, 1889 – September 13, 1898
Succeeded by
Franklin D. Richards
Preceded by
Charles C. Rich
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 12, 1849 – September 13, 1898
Succeeded by
Erastus Snow
Preceded by
Wilford Woodruff
Superintendent of the
Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association

Succeeded by
Joseph F. Smith
  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Lorenzo Snow at Wikiquote
  • Grampa Bill's G.A. Pages: Lorenzo Snow

Wikisource logo Works written by or about Lorenzo Snow at Wikisource

External links

  • "Lorenzo Snow". Presidents of the Church: 'They that Move the Cause of Zion'.  
  • Snow, Lorenzo (1984). The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, Fifth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. compiled by Clyde J. Williams.  
  •  .


  1. ^ Snow, Charles C. Rich, Erastus Snow, and Franklin D. Richards were ordained on the same day to fill four vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Dates verified via a photo of Sarah Jensen's gravestone.
  5. ^ Mormon Historic Sites Foundation
  6. ^ Maxwell Institute For Religious Scholarship BYU
  7. ^ Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collections
  8. ^ Christianity Today Library
  9. ^
  10. ^ Il Libro di Mormon: Anticipating Growth Beyond Italy's Waldensian Valleys - Maxwell Institute JBMS
  11. ^ See Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow.
  12. ^ Malmquist, O.N.:The First 100 Years, pp.
  13. ^ Utah State Archives list of Utah Territorial Legislature members
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ Public Relations Office – BYU–Idaho
  16. ^ 120 U.S. 274 (1887)
  17. ^ a b c d "Chapter 12: Tithing, a Law for Our Protection and Advancement", Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 2011).
  18. ^ a b Compton 2002, p. 127
  19. ^ a b Compton 2002, p. 126
  20. ^ Compton 2002, pp. 128–129
  21. ^  
  22. ^  


The role of Snow was played by Francis L. Urry in the LDS Church-made film The Windows of Heaven.

Portrayal in film

Snow is credited with succinctly summarizing the LDS doctrines of exaltation and eternal progression, in his often repeated couplet: "As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be."[21][22]

LDS doctrine

Snow died of pneumonia in Salt Lake City, and was succeeded in the church presidency by Joseph F. Smith.

On March 31, 1900, Snow, along with the First Presidency, changed the policy of presidential succession.[18] Under the then-existing rules of presidential succession in the church, John Willard Young would have become the President of the Church when Snow died, as Snow was the only living person who had been ordained an apostle prior to Young.[19] Snow was 85 years old and in poor health, so it appeared to many that Young would be the next president of the church. However, many of the general authorities of the church felt that Young's succession to the presidency would be a disaster for the church.[19] Under the new policy, the new president of the church would no longer be the person who had been an ordained apostle the longest; rather, the new president of the church would be the person who had been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the longest period of time.[18] Since Young had never been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, he could not become the president of the church if Snow died. On April 5, 1900, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve unanimously approved the new policy.[20]

[17] By April 1907, the members' practice of paying tithing had eliminated the church's debt.[17] For the remainder of his tenure, Snow emphasized tithing in his sermons and public appearances.[17] Eventually, it rained in southern Utah.[17]

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