One such Mormon-"owned" slave was Jane Elizabeth Manning James--otherwise known among her Mormon friends and White overseers as "Aunt Jane."
Aunt Jane was a faithful Black Mormon convert who worked in the household of Joseph and Emma Smith. After years of faithful belief and devotion to clean-up duty, she had the audacity to repeatedly petition the leaders of the Mormon Church to be sealed via temple endowment to her husband, but was denied her request by the Quorum of the Twelve.
Instead, she was made to settle for her White "owner," Joseph Smith--as his slave for time and all eternity:
"The Territory of Utah gave up the practice of slavery along with the slave-holding states; however, the fact that they countenanced it when it was being practiced shows how insensitive they were to the feelings of black people. Even after the slaves were set free the Mormons continued to talk against blacks. In the year 1884, Angus M. Cannon said that 'a colored man . . . is not capable of receiving the Priesthood, and can never reach the highest Celestial glory of the Kingdom of God.' ('The Salt Lake Tribune,' October 5, 1884)
"The idea that blacks were inferior and should only be servants to the whites persisted in Mormon theology. In fact, Mormon leaders seemed to feel that blacks would still be servants in heaven. On August 26, 1908, President Joseph F. Smith related that a black woman was sealed as a servant to Joseph Smith:
"'The same efforts he said had been made by Aunt Jane to receive her endowments and be sealed to her husband and have her children sealed to their parents and her appeal was made to all the Presidents from President Young down to the present First Presidency. But President Cannon conceived the idea that, under the circumstances, it would be proper to permit her to go to the temple to be adopted to the Prophet Joseph Smith as his servant and this was done. This seemed to ease her mind for a little while but did not satisfy her, and she still pleaded for her endowments.' ('Excerpts From The Weekly Council Meetings Of The Quorum Of The Twelve Apostles,' as printed in 'Mormonism-Shadow or Reality?,' p. 584).
"The idea that a black is only worthy of the position of a servant has deep roots in Mormon theology. Mark E. Petersen, . . . [former] Apostle in the church, once said that if a 'Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory.' ('Race Problems-As They Affect The Church,' a speech delivered at Brigham Young University, August 27, 1954)."
(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Changing the Anti-Black Doctrine," Chapter 10, Part 1, in "The Changing World of Mormonism," Utah Lighthouse Ministry, at: http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/changech10a.htm
Jane Elizabeth Manning James (1813-1908)--even in faith, a victim of Mormon bigotry, RIP:
"Jane Elizabeth Manning was born in Wilton, Connecticut, one of five children of Isaac and Phyllis Manning, a free black family. Although Jane was a member of the local Presbyterian Church, she remained spiritually unfulfilled until 1842 when she heard the message of a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . . . .
"Soon afterwards she joined the Mormon Church. One year following her conversion, Jane Elizabeth and several family members who had also converted decided to move to Nauvoo, Illinois, the headquarters of the Mormon Church. After traveling by boat to Buffalo, New York, the African American Mormons, unable to pay additional fares, began an eight-hundred-mile journey by foot to Nauvoo. In Nauvoo, Jane lived and worked in the home of Joseph Smith, Jr. the founder of the LDS Church and his wife, Emma.
"Following the 1844 murder of Joseph Smith, Jr. and his brother Hyrum in Carthage, Illinois, Mormon leaders under Brigham Young decided to abandon Nauvoo and look for a safe haven in the West away from forces hostile to the LDS Church.
"In the fall of 1847, Jane, her husband Isaac James whom she married in 1841, and two sons traveled across the plains to the new home of the LDS Church in the Salt Lake Valley. They were the first free black pioneers in the Mormon settlement and Jane would spend the remaining fifty-one years of her life in Utah. They shared the hardships of their fellow Mormons and engaged in the spirit of mutual aid and cooperation that characterized LDS pioneer life.
"By the 1880s Jane became increasingly concerned about her place in the afterlife. Well aware of the LDS Church's proscriptions that prohibited blacks from full participation in the rituals that were prerequisite to being eligible for a place in the celestial kingdom, she nonetheless argued for an exemption because of her faith.
"'Is there no blessing for me?' she asked Church leaders for more than a decade. Those leaders refused her requests. They attempted to pacify her by authorizing her limited participation in LDS rituals.
"Through it all, Jane Manning James remained a devout Mormon and is generally recognized in LDS history for her unwavering faith. Jane Manning James died in Salt Lake City in 1908.
"A special monument to her is located in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, close to her gravesite, to commemorate her life and faith."
(Ronald G. Coleman, "'Is There No Blessing for Me?': Jane Elizabeth Manning James, A Mormon African American Woman," in Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Moore Wilson, eds., "African American Women Confront the West," 1600-2000 [Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press 2003], at: http://www.blackpast.org/?q=aaw/james-jane-elizabeth-manning-1813-1908
Ahhhhh, how sweetly described--and deceptively presented.
That "limited participation in LDS rituals," as it is euphemistically described above, is more fully laid out on pp. 152-157 of Coleman's biography of "Aunt Jane." There it is painfully detailed how, despite her faithfulness--and only because of her so-called "cursed" race--she was relentlessly denied her personal plea for access to the Mormon temple for her own family sealing endowment.
The First Presidency also rejected her request to be adopted, via temple sealing, into the family of Joseph and Emma Smith, in whose home she faithfully worked as a servant.
The First Presidency eventually, out of the kindness of their white-and-delightsome hearts, did permit her to be eternally sealed to Joseph Smith as his servant.
(Tracking note: Google search "Ronald G. Coleman Manning." Up will come "African American Women Confront the West, 1600-2000 -Google Books Result." Click on that and Coleman's article will appear).
More on the patronizing treatment she received from the Mormon Church:
" . . . [H]ave you wondered why Jane walked to Nauvoo? It was because white Mormons would not allow her to ride with them or assist her in paying for passage. And once she arrived in Nauvoo the Beautiful, that 'Zion on the Mississippi,' she was either rebuffed or ignored by her fellow Saints, until finally someone pointed out Joseph Smith's home to her.
"Once she finally did meet Smith, he made Jane his house servant, and when Smith was murdered in 1844, Brigham Young then took in Jane James as his servant as well. Despite her faithful service to the church and its wealthy presidents, she lived most of her life in abject poverty.
"She arrived in the new Zion of Utah among the first of the Saints in September 1847, the first free black woman in the territory, only to find that slavery was already being practiced there. Mormon Apostle Charles C. Rich owned slaves in Utah, which must have been a great trial of her faith. The only Western State or Territory to practice slavery was Utah.
"She wished to be 'sealed' to her loved ones for all eternity just like the white-skinned members of the congregation were allowed to be. For all of her sacrifice, the highest eternal blessing the Mormon church could offer Joseph Smith's former house servant was to 'seal' her to Joseph Smith as his servant forever.
"The words recited at this ceremony were that she was 'to be attached as a Servitor for eternity to the prophet Joseph Smith and in this capacity be connected with his family and be obedient to him in all things in the Lord as a faithful Servitor.'
"In essence, an eternal slave, bound to service a white master for eternity."
(For more on this final above account, along with a photograph of Jane Manning, see: "Nauvoo Pageant 2007: Just Who is Jane Manning?," in "Mormon Home Evening: Official Blog of Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach," 17 July 2007, at: http://mormonhomeevening.blogspot.com/2007/07/nauvoo-pageant-2007just-who-is-jane.html
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/03/2012 04:09PM by steve benson.