Baptisms for Dead Famous People

04 April

baptismal-fontThe voluminous amount of posthumous baptisms Wilford Woodruff took part in while visiting the St. George temple, is an eye-raiser. Not only were the numbers noteworthy, but the recipients were as well. Woodruff’s list reads like a who’s who in world history.

According to Mr. Woodruff, this large group of people included a handful of America’s founding fathers who appeared to him while he was in the St. George temple. These spirits, he said, approached him and began asking why the Church hadn’t performed proxy baptisms on their behalf.

So popular did the story become that it was soon a faith promoter for Mormons church-wide. Today, its inclusion in many LDS books and talks provide multiple venues for members to retrieve the info they need on this all important story. While they may look at it as absolute truth, in reality this should be labeled as yet another piece of folklore in the halls of Mormon history. The following references are just a short list of where you can find this –

Journal of Discourses 19:229 September 16, 1877

Collected Discourses, Vol.3, Appendix, Wilford Woodruff, December 13, 1893

Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 160-161

General Conference, Fourth Day Afternoon Session, April 1898, p. 89

As you might imagine, his story is fraught with chronological and theological problems. The sin of practicing necromancy aside, there’s the issue with how many times Mormons in their exuberance to see the founding fathers in heaven, baptized their fellow Americans.

Additionally, there’s the problem of Woodruff’s lies in the multiple times he retold this story. Not only was he baptized for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, there were fifty other prominent historical figures, bringing the total number of people to 100.

The problem is that these same founding fathers had already been taken care of just the year prior, and by the time Woodruff told this story many of them had been baptized by proxy several times. For instance, Benjamin Franklin had been dunked four times by 1877, and before the Saints left for Utah, George Washington was baptized by proxy three times in the Mississippi River just outside of Nauvoo. You’ll see in their list of recipients both men were baptized yet again.

Why would they desperately appear to Woodruff and say these things if someone had already taken care of their endowments for them? More than two decades after his first telling of the story, Woodruff was repeating it again at a General Conference in April 1898 shortly before his death. See General Conference, Fourth Day Afternoon Session, April 1898, p. 89. Also see Brian H. Stuy, Dimensions of Faith: A Mormon Studies Reader.

Thought for the day…

Why do Mormons sanction this behavior, and at the very least, not question where their money is going to fund these things?

The names of those he was baptized for is listed below and can also be found in Collected Discourses, Vol.3, Appendix, Wilford Woodruff, December 13, 1893. You can also find a list of 70 other names of prominent women in history that LDS females were baptized for.

Adding insult to injury through this whole thing, there were two US Presidents Woodruff refused to be baptized for because he didn’t like the way they treated the Church during his administration. They were finally baptized in 1932. The y listed the info for this at the end of the names who were baptized.

  • William Hooper [NC] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Joseph Hewes [NC] Aug. 23, 1877
  • John Penn [NC] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Button Gwinnett [GA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Lyman Hall [GA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Edward Rutledge [SC] Aug. 23, 1877
  • George Walton [GA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Thomas Heyward[Jr.[SC] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Thomas Lynch [SC] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Arthur Middleton [SC] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Samuel Chase [MD] Aug. 23, 1877
  • William Paca [MD] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Thomas Stone [MD] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Charles Carroll [MD] Aug. 24, 1877
  • George Wythe [VA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Richard Henry Lee [VA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Thomas Jefferson [VA] Aug. 23, 1877 [3rd US Pres.]
  • Benjamin Harrison [VA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Thomas Nelson Jr. [VA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Francis Lightfoot Lee [VA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Carter Braxton [VA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Robert Morris [PA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Benjamin Rush [PA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Benjamin Franklin [PA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • John Morton [PA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • George Clymer [PA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • James Smith [PA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • George Taylor [PA] Aug. 23, 1877
  • James Wilson [PA] Aug. 24, 1877
  • George Ross [PA] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Caeser Rodney [DE] Aug. 24, 1877
  • George Read [DE] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Thomas McKean [DE] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Philip Livingston [NY] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Francis Lewis [NY] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Lewis Morris [NY] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Richard Stockton [NJ] Aug. 24, 1877
  • John Witherspoon [NJ] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Francis Hopkinson [NJ] Aug. 24, 1877
  • John Hart [NJ] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Abraham Clark [NJ] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Josiah Bartlett [NH] Aug. 24, 1877
  • William Whipple [NH] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Samuel Adams [MA] Aug. 24, 1877
  • John Adams [MA] [2nd US Pres.] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Robert Treat Paine [MA] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Elbridge Gerry [MA] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Stephen Hopkins [RI] Aug. 24, 1877
  • William Ellery [RI] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Roger Sherman [CN] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Samuel Huntington [CN] Aug. 24, 1877
  • William Williams [CN] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Oliver Wolcott [CN] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Matthew Thornton [NH] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Demetrius Parepa Aug. 24, 1877
  • Daniel Webster [Statesman] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Washington Irving [Author] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Michael Faraday [Eng. Physicist] Aug. 31, 1877
  • William Makepeace Thackerey [Eng. Novelist] Aug. 31, 1877
  • John Caldwell Calhoun [Statesman] Aug. 31, 1877
  • Baron Justin Von Liebig [German Chemist] Sept. 1, 1877
  • Henry Clay [Statesman] Aug. 31, 1877
  • Lytton Bulwer Aug. 31, 1877
  • George Peabody Aug. 31, 1877
  • Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte [Military Leader] Sept. 1, 1877
  • Thomas Chalmers [Scottish Theologian] Sept. 1, 1877
  • William Henry Seward [Statesman] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Thomas Jonathan Jackson Aug. 31, 1877 [“Stonewall” – Soldier]
  • David Glascoe Farragut [Admiral] Sept. 1, 1877
  • Hiram Powers [Sculptor] Sept. 1, 1877
  • Louis John Rudolph Agassiz [Swiss Biologist] Sept. 1, 1877
  • David Livingstone [Explorer] Sept. 1, 1877
  • Christopher Columbus [Explorer] Aug. 24, 1877, High Priest
  • Americus Vespucius [Explorer] Aug. 31, 1877
  • John Wesley [Methodists Founder] Aug. 24, 1877
  • Lord George Gordon Byron [Eng. Poet] Nov. 14, 1877
  • Frederick Henry Alexander Von Humboldt [German Naturalist] Oct. 24, 1877
  • Count Camillo Benso di Cavour Oct. 25, 1877
  • Samuel Johnson [Eng. Dramatist] Sept. 13, 1877
  • Thomas Babington Macauley [Eng. Historian] Nov. 16, 1877
  • Frederick 2d King of Prussia Sept. 19, 1877
  • Edward Gibbon [Eng. Historian] Sept. 19, 1877
  • David Garrick [Eng. Actor] Sept. 20, 1877
  • Sir Joshua Reynolds [Eng. Painter] Sept. 20, 1877
  • Robert Burns [Eng. Poet] Sept. 20, 1877
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe [German Writer] Sept. 20, 1877
  • John Philip Kemble [Eng. Actor] Sept. 20, 1877
  • Frederick Von Schiller [German Poet] Sept. 20, 1877
  • Robert Fulton [Graphic: Footnote, Bitmap] Sept. 20, 1877
  • Henry Grattan [Eng. Statesman] Sept. 20, 1877
  • Lord Horatio Nelson [Eng. Explorer] Aug. 22, 1877
  • John Philpot Curran [Irish Judge] Sept. 20, 1877
  • George Stephenson Oct. 24, 1877 [“Father of S. Australian Press”]
  • Sir Walter Scott [Eng. Novelist] Oct. 25, 1877
  • Lord Henry Brougham [Eng. Chancellor] Nov. 9, 1877
  • William Wordsworth [Eng. Poet] Nov. 14, 1877
  • Daniel O Connell [Eng. Politician] Nov. 14, 1877
  • Richard Cobden [Eng. Statesman] Nov. 16, 1877
  • Oliver Goldsmith [Eng. Poet] Sept. 19, 1877
  • Benito Juarez [Mexican President] Nov. 15, 1877

“When Br. McAllister had Baptized me for the 100 Names I Baptized him for 21, including Gen. Washington & his forefathers and all the[Preside[n]ts of the United States that were not in my list Except[Buchannan[,] Van Buren & Grant:”

  • George Washington Aug. 22, 1877 [1st US President]
  • John Washington Aug. 22, 1877 [Great grandfather of George Washington]
  • Sir Henry Washington Aug. 22, 1877
  • Lawrence Washington Aug. 22, 1877 [Brother of George Washington]
  • Augustine Washington Aug. 22, 1877 [Father of George Washington]
  • Lawrence Washington Aug. 22, 1877 (Father of Augustine)
  • Lawrence Washington Aug. 22, 1877
  • Daniel Park Custis [Planter] Aug. 22, 1877
  • John Park Custis Aug. 22, 1877 [Son of Daniel and Martha Parke Custis]
  • James Madison [4th US Pres.] Aug. 22, 1877
  • James Monroe [5th US Pres.] Aug. 22, 1877
  • John Quincy Adams [6th US Pres.] Aug. 22, 1877
  • Andrew Jackson [7th US Pres.] Aug. 22, 1877
  • William Henry Harrison Aug. 23, 1877 [9th US Pres.]
  • John Tyler [10th US Pres.] Aug. 23, 1877
  • James Knox Polk [11th US Pres.] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Zachary Taylor [12th US Pres.] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Millard Fillmore [13th US Pres.] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Franklin Pierce [14th US Pres.] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Abraham Lincoln [16th US Pres.] Aug. 23, 1877
  • Andrew Johnson [17th US Pres.] Aug. 23, 1877

“Sister Lucy Bigelow Young went forth into the font and was Baptized for Martha Washington and her family and seventy (70) of the Eminent women of the world [baptisms were performed by John Daniel Thompson McAllister, with confirmations by William Fawcett]”

The full list of names can be found in Collected Discourses, Vol.3, Appendix, Wilford Woodruff, December 13, 1893.

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