Four American Prophets Confront Slavery : Joseph Smith, William Miller, Ellen G. White and Mary Baker Eddy
John Whitmer Historical Association Journal
Bringhurst explores the views of William Miller, Ellen G. White, Mary Baker Eddy, and Joseph Smith towards slavery. Miller and White were "the two major progenitors of Seventh-day Adventism," and Mary Baker Eddy founded Christian Science. He pays particular attention to Joseph Smith's teachings regarding slavery. Smith's early discourses speak against slavery, as do the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. However, his view shifted in the mid-1830s to a pro-slavery stance. Bringhurst states this shift resulted from three factors. First, when Church members first moved to Missouri, a pro-slavery state, anti-slavery opinions among members angered their neighbors and resulted in violence and expulsion. Once, Missouri became the headquarters for the Church a pro-slavery stance was taken to avoid the violence of the past. In addition, Joseph Smith wanted missionary work to expand into the Southern states, and lastly Smith did not want the Church to be associated with the unpopular abolitionist movement. However, once the Church was expelled from Missouri and its members had settled in Illinois, Joseph Smith once again spoke out again slavery. He still did not support the abolitionist movement; instead he felt that slavery should be ended gradually through "compensated emancipation and colonization abroad." These shifting beliefs left "conflicting views" among those who assumed leadership after Smith's death.