AMNESTY PETITION to the President: [of the United States]. Salt Lake, December 19, 1891.
We, the first presidency and apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, beg respectfully to represent to your excellency the following facts:
We formerly taught our people that polygamy, or celestial marriage, as commanded by God through Joseph Smith, was right; that it was a necessity to man's highest exaltation in the life to come.
The doctrine was publicly promulgated by our president, the late Brigham Young, forty years ago, and was steadily taught and impressed upon the Latter Day Saints up to a short time before September, 1890. Our people are devout and sincere, and they accepted the doctrine, and many embraced and practiced polygamy.
When the Government sought to stamp the practice out, our people almost without exception remained firm... Following this conviction, hundreds endured arrests, trial, fines, and imprisonment, and the immeasurable suffering borne by the faithful people no language can describe. That suffering in abated form still continues. More, the Government added disfranchisement to its other punishment for those who clung to their faith and fulfilled its covenants. According to our faith, the head of our Church receives from time to time revelations for the religious guidance of his people. In September, 1890, the present head of the church, in anguish and prayer cried to God for help for his flock, and received the permission to advise the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that the law commanding polygamy was henceforth suspended.
... Have they [our people] not the right to ask for such clemency as comes when the claims of both law and justice have been fully liquidated?
As shepherds of a patient and suffering people we ask amnesty for them and pledge our faith and honor for their future. And your petitioners will ever pray. WILFORD WOODRUFF, GEORGE Q. CANNON, JOSEPH F. SMITH, LORENZO SNOW, FRANKLIN D. RICHARDS. MOSES THATCHER, FRANCIS M. LYMAN, H. J. GRANT, JOHN HENRY SMITH, JOHN W. TAYLOR, M. W. MERRILL, ANTHON H. LUND, ABRAHAM H. CANNON.
[Source: 1891-December 19-RCH 3:114-115; also Stewart L. Grow, A Study, in Clark, James R., Messages of the First Presidency (6 volumes)]