Sunday, April 23, 2017

Saving the Adam-ondi-Ahman Press

What did William Miller have to do to save the Adam-ondi-Ahman press?
a.                  Dig a hole and cover with hay
b.                  Move it to Far West
c.                   Dismantle it and use it for wagon parts
d.                  Move it out of the State at night time
Yesterday’s answer:
C.   The all seeing eye and Holiness to the Lord
Deseret and its people were affected by California gold in three distinct ways. Though actuated predominantly by religious enthusiasms, the leaders as well as the rank and file were far from indifferent to economic considerations. Consequently the precious metal that fortuitous circumstances placed in the hands of the contingent sojourning on the coast was more than welcome in the Mormon mecca. Yet it was the opportunity and privilege of the ex-servicemen with their sacks of gold to comprise an aristocracy of wealth in the Basin, the first “get-rich-quick” group in Deseret, and lord it over their poor brethren: But as their leaders had expressed contempt for gold as an end in and of itself, so these humble disciples accepted the dictum that all wealth belongs to the Lord and freely parted with their golden treasure, bestowing their blessings in yellow dust on the Church and its membership. Manifestly a wide distribution of the dust was socially desirable. 
   Whatever the amount, the immediate disposition of the treasure is interesting. The bulk of the gold went into the coffers of the Church, the same to constitute a reserve fund for the re-issue of Kirtland bank notes, the common medium of exchange. The faithful Church historian frequently records during January, February, and March of 1849 that Brigham Young spent most of the day weighing gold dust and signing Kirtland bank notes. The First General Epistle of the Presidency, March 9, 1849 contains this significant item:
   “On the return of a portion of the Mormon Battalion through the northern part of Western California, they discovered an extensive gold mine which enable them by a few days delay to bring sufficient of the dust to make money plentiful in this place for all ordinary convenience; in the exchange the brethren deposited the gold dust with the presidency, who issued bills of paper currency.
   “Owing to the wonderful appeal that free gold makes to the imagination, it is easily possible to exaggerate the size of the piles brought to Deseret from the coast. The most definite information relative to the amount of this commodity handled by Brigham Young is contained in a business memorandum of his daily transactions in gold dust from December 10, 1848 to October 8, 1849, a ten-month interval, which discloses that he received in exchange for notes, American Coin and Valley Coin, gold dust to the value of at least $10,968.04.”
   Certainly there was wisdom in the decision of Brigham Young to set up a local mint for coinage purposes. It avoided the heavy loss incident to the use of dust as a circulating medium and provided a much-needed currency. John Kay was assigned the responsibility for the fabrication of the necessary crucibles and the manufacture of gold coin, and, in the due process of time, the product of his labors appeared in circulation in denominations of $60, $20, $10, and lesser values, which money was variously designated as Deseret Coin and Valley Coin. They were composed of pure gold without alloy other than a little silver, and were too soft to stand the wear and tear of usage, proved to be underweight, and consequently did not become as important in the local monetary system as the cheaper paper money issued in lieu of the gold reserve. The gold pieces carried the impress of their Church origin in an “All Seeing Eye” on one side and “Holiness to the Lord” in the characters of the Deseret alphabet on the reverse.

Chronicles of Courage, Lesson Committee (Salt Lake City: Talon Printing, 1996) Vol. 7,65-67.

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