Joseph Smith’s Black Servant in Heaven

12 February

Jane_Elizabeth_Manning_JamesToday we’re looking at a little known event in Mormon history, the story of Jane Elizabeth Manning James. Jane was a ‘free black’ who joined the Church in the late 1830’s and ended up crossing the plains with Brigham Young’s outfit.

While still in Nauvoo, she worked as a servant for Joseph Smith’s family and during her tenure he asked if she’d like to be sealed to him as his child, but she put off making her decision. Years later in the 1884 she wrote a letter to then Mormon president John Taylor asking if she could go through with the adoption endowment and was flatly denied.

In 1890 she made her request again by writing a letter to Wilford Woodruff and again she was told no. In 1891 & 1894 she requested the adoption again and was refused, but in ’94 they allowed a special ceremony where she was placed into Joseph Smith’s family as a servant.

Boy, that was mighty thoughtful of them…

On top of that, because she was black she couldn’t attend the ceremony soJoseph Fielding Smith (then apostle) and Bathsheba Smith (wife of both George A. Smith and his father John Smith) filled in as proxy.

Jane wasn’t fond of this arrangement so in 1895 she made another request and was denied. Not to be deterred, she made the same request again in 1902 and 1903, but was turned down.

In 1978 after blacks were accepted into the priesthood, they finally performed the endowments for Jane.

I’m wondering…does this mean she’s no longer Smith’s servant?

One of the articles written about Jane in 1979 appeared in the Ensign. It mentioned that after being a faithful Saint and years of paying her tithe, her request for endowments was denied, but they did allow her to be baptized for her deceased relatives.

Now think about this for a moment. She can’t go to the highest level of heaven for a true salvation, but they’re going to take her money and let her think she can save her relatives who are obviously black as well.

Ensign, ‘Jane Manning James Black Saint 1847 Pioneer,’ August 1979; “…Jane donated to the building funds of the St. George, Logan, and Manti temples, and her contributions were also added to the funds supporting the Lamanite Mission…

Her undaunted faith, combined with her loving generosity to her family and church, prompted her to respectfully request permission from the First Presidency for her family to be sealed to her. Although that permission was denied at the time, Jane was able to be baptized for her kindred dead. (Temple work—endowments and sealings—has recently been done for Jane and her family.)…”

The other article of note is found in Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought. In this piece of work (and it’s a piece of work alright) the Church tries to throw a favorable light on ol’  Joe by saying he was never known to say a disparaging or negative word  about those of other races.

Please, explain the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenant and Pearl of Great Price to me. Please.

MORMONISM’S NEGRO DOCTRINE: AN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW LESTER E. BUSH, JR, p. 21; “There are very few statements on race directly attributable to Joseph Smith. While negative value judgments are occasionally suggested by his remarks, the most extensive comment reveals that he did not share the majority opinion of his day on the innate racial inferiority of Negroes. The little that is recorded about his direct dealings with blacks is also more reflective of compassion than prejudice.”

One thing is certain. No matter where the Mormons went, they collected more victims along the way and they in turn bought the story, perpetuating the lie.

There are conflicting stories and timelines on this with every website you visit. We’ve listed a handful of sites so you can gather info for research if you’re interested.


Mormon Expositor


Mormon Dialogue

Doves and Serpents

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