The Constitution Hanging by a Thread and the “White Horse Prophecy”
There are a lot of statements on freedom and the Constitution by the Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of these quotes include reference to the Constitution “hanging by a thread“, the “nation… on the very verge of crumbling to pieces”, “the constitution… upon the brink of ruin” and the Elders of Israel stepping up to save the Constitution.
What also comes to mind when thinking of those statements is the “White Horse Prophecy”. This article will address the similarities, differences, and confusion surrounding the white horse prophecy and similar statements.
What is the “White Horse Prophecy”?
From the FAIR website: ” Joseph Smith is alleged to have uttered a prophecy in 1843 alluding to the four horses in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 6:1–8). This was recorded by two Church members, Edwin Rushton and Theodore Turley approximately ten years after Joseph’s death. There is no contemporary account that was recorded during the Prophet’s lifetime.”
The following is an excerpt of the journal of Elder John J. Roberts:
…While this conversation was going on we stood by his south wicket gate in a triangle. Turning to me, [Joseph] said, “I want to tell you something of the future. I will speak in a parable like unto John the Revelator. You will go to the Rocky Mountains and you will be a great and mighty people established there, which I will call the White Horse of peace and safety.” When the Prophet said, “You will see it,” I said, “Where will you be at that time?” He said, “I shall never go there. Your enemies will continue to follow you with persecutions and they will make obnoxious laws against you in Congress to destroy the White Horse, but you will have a friend or two to defend you and throw out the worst parts of the law so they will not hurt you so much. You must continue to petition Congress all the time, but they will treat you like strangers and aliens and they will not give you your rights, but will govern you with strangers and commissioners. You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber.” At that time the Prophet’s countenance became sad, because as he said, “I love the Constitution; it was made by the inspiration of God; and it will be preserved and saved by the efforts of the White Horse, and by the Red Horse who will combine in its defense. The White Horse will find the mountains full of minerals and they will become rich. You will see silver piled up in the streets. You will see the gold shoveled up like sand. Gold will be of little value then, even in a mercantile capacity; for the people of the world will have something else to do in seeking for salvation. The time will come when the banks of every nation will fall and only two places will be safe where people can deposit their gold and treasure. This place will be the White Horse and England’s vaults. A terrible revolution will take place in the land of America, such as has never been seen before; for the land will be left without a Supreme Government, and every specie of wickedness will be practiced rampantly in the land. Father will be against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother. The most terrible scenes of bloodshed, murder and rape that have ever been imagined or looked upon will take place. People will be taken from the earth and there will be peace and love only in the Rocky Mountains. This will cause many hundreds of thousands of the honest in heart of the world to gather there, not because they would be Saints, but for safety and because they will be so numerous that you will be in danger of famine, but not for want of seed, time and harvest, but because of so many to be fed. Many will come with bundles under their arms to escape the calamities for there will be no escape except only by escaping and fleeing to Zion…
What Have Church Leaders Said About The White Horse Prophecy?
In General Conference, October 1918, Joseph F. Smith made the following comments:
The ridiculous story about the “red horse,” and “the black horse,” and “the white horse,” and a lot of trash that has been circulated about and printed and sent around as a great revelation given by the Prophet Joseph Smith, is a matter that was gotten up, I understand, some ten years after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, by two of our brethren who put together some broken sentences from the Prophet that they may have heard from time to time, and formulated this so-called revelation out of it, and it was never spoken by the prophet in the manner in which they have put it forth. It is simply false; that is all there is to it.
Elder Bruce R McConkie also commented on the “prophecy” in his book Mormon Doctrine:
From time to time, accounts of various supposed visions, revelations, and prophecies are spread forth by and among the Latter-day Saints, who should know better than to believe or spread such false information. One of these false and deceptive documents that has cropped up again and again for over a century is the so-called White Horse Prophecy. This supposed prophecy purports to be a long and detailed account by the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the wars, turmoils, and difficulties which should exist in the last days.
In 2010 the Church released a statement on the “‘White Horse Prophecy’ and Political Neutrality“:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is politically neutral and does not endorse or promote any candidate, party or platform. Accordingly, we hope that the campaign practices of political candidates would not suggest that their candidacy is supported by or connected to the church.
The so-called ‘White Horse Prophecy’ is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine.
What Did Joseph Smith Really Say?
Because the White Horse Prophecy has been dismissed by some Church leaders, there has been confusion from members of the Church with regard to other similar statements about the nation crumbling, the Constitution being on the brink of ruin and the Elders of Israel stepping up to save it. While the white horse prophecy may not be legitimate, there are several separate similar statements attributed to Joseph Smith.
The following is accepted as the most accurate, and verified, statement, and has been quoted by several modern prophets:
Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.
There are many similar statements attributed to Joseph Smith by Brigham Young, Orson Hyde, Eliza Snow and modern prophets such as Harold B. Lee and Ezra Taft Benson (I have found at least 41 statements along these lines). I believe there is sufficient evidence to conclude that Joseph Smith truly said the nation and Constitution would be on the brink of ruin/destruction and that this people (LDS) will be involved in saving it. All we really have to do is look around us and see the fulfillment of many of those ‘prophecies’ even including some of the statements found in the alleged white horse prophecy. What we have yet to witness is the Elders of Israel stepping up to save the Constitution. Let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later, if at all. In the meantime those who are liberty-minded have a lot of educating to do as we assist the Elders of Israel in waking up to their awful situation (Ether 8) and from ignorance and complacency.
Regardless of what the future holds, there are plenty of scriptures and teachings of modern prophets that tell us we do have a responsibility to stand up for Agency, Freedom, Liberty and the Constitution.
What The Prophets Have Said About The Constitution Hanging By A Thread
Ezra Taft Benson:
Will we be prepared? Will we be among those who will “bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction?” If we desire to be numbered among those who will, here are some things we must do:
1. We must be righteous and moral… 2. We must learn the principles of the Constitution and then abide by its precepts… 3. We must become involved in civic affairs… 4. We must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, and our advice…
I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. But it will not be saved in Washington. It will be saved by the citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church — men and women who will subscribe to and abide the principles of the Constitution. ( Source: CHB 28-31 )
For years we have heard of the role the elders could play in saving the Constitution from total destruction. But how can the elders be expected to save it if they have not studied it and are not sure if it is being destroyed or what is destroying it?…
There is no excuse that can compensate for the loss of liberty.
Satan is anxious to neutralize the inspired counsel of the Prophet and hence keep the priesthood off balance, ineffective and inert in the fight for freedom. He does this through diverse means, including the use of perverse reasoning. . . .
The cause of freedom is a most basic part of our religion. Our position on freedom helped get us to this earth and it can make the difference as to whether we get back home or not. . . .
Now part of the reason why we do not have sufficient Priesthood bearers to save the Constitution, let alone to shake the powers of hell, is, I fear, because unlike Moroni, our souls do not joy in keeping our country free and we are not firm in the faith of Christ, nor have we sworn with an oath to defend our rights.
Harold B. Lee:
It was Joseph Smith who has been quoted as having said that the time would come when then Constitution would hang as by a thread, and at that time when it was thus in jeopardy, the elders of this Church would step forth and save it from destruction.
Why the elders of this Church? Would it be sacrilegious to paraphrase the words of the Apostle Peter, and say that the Constitution of the United States could be saved by the elders of this Church because this Church and this Church alone has the words of eternal life? We alone know by revelation as to how the Constitution came into being, and we, alone, know by revelation the destiny of this nation. The preservation of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” can be guaranteed upon no other basis than upon a sincere faith and testimony of the divinity of these teachings.
Joseph Fielding Smith:
The statement has been made that the Prophet [Joseph Smith] said the time would come when this Constitution would hang as by a thread, and this is true. There has been some confusion, however, as to just what he said following this. I think that Elder Orson Hyde has given us a correct interpretation wherein he says that the Prophet said the Constitution would be in danger… Now I tell you it is time the people of the United States were waking up with the understanding that if they don’t save the Constitution from the dangers that threaten it, we will have a change of government.
( Source: “Founded in the Wisdom of God” 416 )
Joseph F. Smith:
Joseph Smith, the prophet, was inspired to affirm and ratify this truth, and he further predicted that the time would come, when the Constitution of our country would hang as it were by a thread, and that the Latter-day Saints above all other people in the world would come to the rescue of that great and glorious palladium of our liberty. We cannot brook the thought of it being torn into shreds, or destroyed, or trampled under foot and ignored by men. We cannot tolerate the sentiment, at one time expressed, by a man, high in authority in the nation. He said: “The Constitution be damned; the popular sentiment of the people is the Constitution!” That is the sentiment of anarchism that has spread to a certain extent, and is spreading over “the land of liberty and home of the brave.” We do not tolerate it. Latter-day Saints cannot tolerate such a spirit as this. It is anarchy. It means destruction. It is the spirit of mobocracy, and the Lord knows we have suffered enough from mobocracy, and we do not want any more of it. Our people from Mexico are suffering from the effects of that same spirit. We do not want any more of it, and we cannot afford to yield to that spirit or contribute to it in the least degree. We should stand with a front like flint against every spirit or species of contempt or disrespect for the Constitution of our country and the constitutional laws of our land.
They will sustain the constitution and laws and institutions of the United States, and be the champions of liberty and of that constitution when its integrity shall be threatened.
( Source: Journal History of the Church, 15 Sep 1898, 3 )
The Prophet Joseph Smith had said the time would come when the principles of the Constitution would be forsaken and that instrument would be rent asunder, and this people would then step forward and rescue it from entire destruction.
( Source: Journal History of the Church, 6 Apr 1882, 3 )
It may not be among the improbabilities, that the prophecies of Joseph Smith may be fulfilled and that the calumniated and despised Mormons may yet become the protectors of the Constitution and the guardians of religious liberty and human freedom in these United States.
( Source: Journal of Discourses 23:266 )
Need we be surprised that they should trample under foot the Constitution of the United States? No; Joseph Smith told us that they would do it. Many around me here knew long ago that they would do this thing and further knew that the last people that should be found to rally around the sacred instrument and save it from the grasp of unrighteous men would be the Elders of Israel! When, therefore, we see these things progressing need we be astonished? I do not think we need be.
( Source: Journal of Discourses 20:318 )
Every organization of our government, the best government in the world, is crumbling to pieces. Those who have it in their hands are the ones who are destroying it. How long will it be before the words of the prophet Joseph will be fulfilled? He said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people. It will not be many years before these words come to pass.
( Source: Journal of Discourses 12:204 )
Others Quoting What They Heard Joseph Smith Say…
Eliza R. Snow:
I heard the prophet Joseph Smith say… that the time would come when this nation would so far depart from its original purity, its glory, and its love for freedom and its protection of civil rights and religious rights, that the Constitution of our country would hang as it were by a thread. He said, also, that this people, the sons of Zion, would rise up and save the Constitution and bear it off triumphantly.
( Source: Eliza R. Snow 556 )
I believe he [Joseph Smith] said something like this – that the time would come when the Constitution and the country would be in danger of an overthrow; and said he, If the Constitution be saved at all, it will be by the Elders of this Church. I believe this is about the language, as nearly as I can recollect it.
Jedediah M. Grant:
We are friendly to our country, and when we speak of the flag of our Union, we love it, and we love the rights the Constitution guarantees to every citizen. What did the Prophet Joseph say? When the Constitution shall be tottering we shall be the people to save it from the hand of the foe.
( Source: Tyler 350 – quoted by Jedediah M. Grant )
…Joseph Smith made some remarks upon our condition as a people and upon our future prospects contrasting our present condition with our past trials and persecutions by the hands of our enemies. Also upon the constitution and government of the United States stating that the time would come when the Constitution and Government would hand [sic] by a brittle thread and would be ready to fall into other hands but this people the Latter-day Saints will step forth and save it.
( Source: The Words of Joseph Smith 279 )