Oh! Brother Joseph

Urban England, particularly Manchester in 1841, personified all that was wrong with this earth to a millenarian. Parley P. Pratt came to England with the majority of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1840 and went to Manchester in April to edit the Millennial Star. After the initial conversion rate of the first year, which must have seemed like a harbinger of the millennium, Pratt was left to preside over the missionary work while the other Apostles returned to Nauvoo. He was to reside for another year and a half in Manchester during one of its stormiest periods.

It is in this context that we must first view Parley P. Pratt’s letter to Joseph Smith, written on the eve of the year which a modern historian has branded the gloomiest in the entire nineteenth century. Pratt’s “Millions of Laborers” in the first paragraph is rhetoric, but based on substance. Of greater historical importance is the reference to the status of the convertsand the missionary tool of “humbling the rich and exalting the poor.” It was probably such a technique that led to the inclusion of Mormons along with some interesting bedfellows—socialists and Chartists—as the focus for attack by the monthly propaganda piece, which Pratt mentions as an afterthought.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 27:1
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