How Abraham Lincoln Charmed the Mormons

The crude, casual racism of a long-ago era is striking in this Nov. 28, 1860 Deseret News advertisement from merchant George Goddard. It reads, “Abe Lincoln, Republican, elected by a large majority!!!, immense excitement!, Democrats all but crazy!!!, Niggers rejoicing at the prospect of freedom!!! and before they are all let loose — over 4,000,000, Geo. Goddard is determined to close out his present stock of goods at the following reduced prices: What follows is a list or ordinary merchandise, everything from grey overshirts, to fine tooth brushes, to tobacco to McGuffey’s Readers, etc.

Mr. Goddard’s published bigotry underscores the hostility that Utah’s Latter-day Saint hierarchy greeted the presidential election of Republican Abraham Lincoln 151 years ago. Historian George U. Hubbard, writing in the Spring, 1963 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly, notes that the election of Lincoln was greeted with derisive speeches by Mormon leaders, including Church President Brigham Young and apostle George A. Smith. As Hubbard writes in, “Abraham Lincoln as seen by the Mormons,” the Illinois president was described as “weak as water” or as a “King Abraham” who would oversee the destruction of the United States. Prominent Mormon John D. Lee, who would later be executed for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, referred to Lincoln as “the Black Republican,” recounts Hubbard.

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