Mormon History

The Mormons and Alcohol - 1841

The Warsaw Signal July 14, 1841


People at a distance are apt to imagine the Mormons a very temperate body of men, because the ordinances of their city forbid the sale of ardent spirits, unless under very severe restrictions. But this impression is false. It is true that the Saints do not get drunk at home, but they have only to cross the river to Montrose, and there they can revel to their heart's content, in spiritual luxuries.

Even the Prophet himself, although a seeming devotee of the temperance cause, is a better friend to Bacchus than to any other God; except, perhaps, Plutus. We have heard of three sprees of his in the last ten months. In the first he appeared amongst his followers, and offered to prove the truth of his mission by a miracle -- which was to [climb] a hickory pole sixty feet high, with the bark off, heels upward. The second was on board the steamer Nauvoo, in her excursion to Bloomington last fall. On this occasion his holiness drank whiskey until he found himself on his back, feeling upwards for the ground. So says our informant. The third, was last week. On this occasion it does not appear that Jo. was exactly drunk; but it seemed strange to see the Prophet of the Lord, at the head of a champaigne party, crying lustily, "take away the empty bottles, and bring on the full ones." Verily, our modern Prophet is the very beau ideal of a pious christian! how abstenious! how self-denying! But this is none of our business -- we will not turn preacher, however much the occasion may require it.

The Warsaw Signal July 21, 1841


On last Monday evening Jo. Smith, accompanied by Gen. Bennett, and [suit]. appeared in our quiet, non excitable village, producing, by his august presence, quite a sensation -- indeed he appeared to be a perfect curiosity. In his coach we observed a bowie-knife, a rifle, pistols, ammunition, &c. and a courage-raiser in the shape of a decanter, containing some kind of precious beverage -- whether wine, brandy or gin, the deponent sayeth not. -- However, something of the kind was certainly called into requisition in the course of the evening, and early the next day in the Prophet's chamber. Moreover, we understand, that when about half a mile from town, the Prophet and suit halted, and took a regular swigg -- doubtless by way of inspiration. But this is nothing to us, only the people ought to know what the Prophet of the Lord does, in or[der] that they may have the benefit of his example.

But why are they armed? not with the design to kill us? Certainly not -- for they tried to be as friendly as possible; but, as Gen. Bennett observed, to be prepared for the Missourians. This was all very well -- and of course we shall not make a bug-bear of it.

Their business here was to complete the negotiations for the purchase of the School Section. Well, it is done; and the decree has gone forth, for a Mormon City on our immediate borders. We have not heard whether locks have yet ris!


The Warsaw Signal October 6, 1841


We have heretofore noticed the humbug professions of the Mormons in relation to Temperance; but we have not stated the exact object they have in view, in making their sanctimonious laws on the subject, in the holy city. It is now apparent that the design never was to suppress the sale of ardent spirits; for Groceries -- otherwise Grig shops -- are as numerous in Nauvoo as ever, -- and not only this, the Prophet, in order to increase the inspiration of his followers, has established -- or allowed to be established -- a grocery in the immediate vicinity of the Temple. It is, therefore, evident, that all their parade and humbug about Temperance, has been made merely as a gull-trap, designed to convey the impression abroad, that they are a very virtuous and self-denying people; and, of course, all the statements made in regard to their wickedness, as mere slander.

We warn people at a distance to pay no regard to the professions of these men -- for they profess one thing, and practice another. Some of the highest officers and leading members of the Church are notorious drunkards; and Smith, himself, as we have said, on a former occasion, is a little more devoted to his bottle than to his God. They enact some most excellent laws --whilst the very makers of them are the first to break through them with impunity. On certain public occasions, they assume the appearance of a very strict morality; but when the public eye is turned, they indulge in beastly excesses. The leaders, being themselves loose in morals, inculcate the most abandoned principles in their followers -- pretending, the while, to have for their teachings the sanction of the Almighty. This, then, is the character of that system of knavery, which is supported by inducing dupes to believe that the abominations of Hell have the sanction of Heaven.