Section 87

DC 87 Historical Background

Joseph Smith

Appearances of troubles among the nations became more visible this season than they had previously been since the Church began her journey out of the wilderness. The ravages of the cholera were frightful in almost all the large cities on the globe. The plague broke out in India, while the United States, amid all her pomp and greatness, was threatened with immediate dissolution. The people of South Carolina, in convention assembled (in November), passed ordinances, declaring their state a free independent nation; and appointed Thursday, the 31st day of January, 1833, as a day of humiliation and prayer, to implore Almighty God to vouchsafe His blessings, and restore liberty and happiness within their borders. President Jackson issued his proclamation against this rebellion, called out a force sufficient to quell it, and implored the blessings of God to assist the nation to eradicate itself from the horrors of the approaching and solemn crisis. (History of the Church, 1: 301)

DC 87 Historical Background: Rebellion in South Carolina

"The South's most extreme state [was] South Carolina. As the first southern state to plunge into widespread cotton cultivation in the early nineteenth century, South Carolina was the first to see its soil lose its fertility. The consequence of worn-out soil-poor yields-paralleled a disastrous decline in cotton prices in the 1819-1835 period. The simultaneous passage of progressively higher American tariffs in 1816, 1824, and 1828 to protect American industry from more advanced European competitors at least temporarily boosted the prices American farmers had to pay for industrial products. Carolina cotton producers blamed all their woes on these tariffs. They also claimed that the federal agency could not use its power to pass tariffs, a constitutionally enumerated, revenue-enhancing act, in order to protect industry, a manufacture-enhancing act nowhere explicitly authorized in the Constitution. In 1832, a Carolina convention declared the tariff null and void in the state and warned it would secede if President Andrew Jackson tried to enforce the tariff in South Carolina.

"Behind the explicit assault on the tariff lay another implicit concern-protecting slavery. The South Carolina coastal plains, largely a rice-producing region, was the most densely enslaved southern area and thus particularly sensitive to America's first antislavery stirrings. The first confrontation over slavery, which led to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, had helped inspire the unsuccessful slave revolt in Charleston led by Denmark Vesey in 1822. South Carolina rice planters feared nationalistic tariffs, bad enough in themselves, would furthermore lead to assaults on slavery. They thus joined their cotton-producing upland cousins in defying Jackson."  (Richard E. Ellis, The Union at Risk: Jacksonian Democracy, States' Rights and the Nullification Crisis (1987); William W. Freehling, Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836 (1965).)  (

South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification, November 24, 1832.

An ordinance to nullify certain acts of the Congress of the United States, purporting to be laws laying duties and imposts on the importation of foreign commodities.

Whereas the Congress of the United States by various acts, purporting to be acts laying duties and imposts on foreign imports, but in reality intended for the protection of domestic manufactures and the giving of bounties to classes and individuals engaged in particular employments, at the expense and to the injury and oppression of other classes and individuals...

We, therefore, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the several acts and parts of acts of the Congress of the United States... are null, void, and no law, nor binding upon this State...

And we, the people of South Carolina, to the end that it may be fully understood by the government of the United States, and the people of the co-States, that we are determined to maintain this our ordinance and declaration, at every hazard, do further declare that we will not submit to the application of force on the part of the federal government, to reduce this State to obedience...otherwise...the people of this State will henceforth hold themselves absolved from all further obligation to maintain or preserve their political connection with the people of the other States; and will forthwith proceed to organize a separate government...


"This ordinance [of nullification] declared the tariff laws null and void, and a series of enactments in South Carolina put the state in a position to resist by force any attempt of the federal government to carry the tariff act into operation. President Jackson in reply dramatically issued a strong proclamation against the nullifiers, and a force bill was introduced into the U.S. Senate to give the President authority to use the armed forces if necessary to execute the laws. Jackson, however, felt that the South had a real grievance and, behind his show of force, encouraged friends of compromise, led by Henry Clay, to prepare a bill that the South would accept. This compromise tariff was rushed through Congress, and after its passage (1833) the South Carolina state convention reassembled and formally rescinded the ordinance nullifying the tariff acts. To preserve its prerogative it adopted a new ordinance nullifying the force bill. But the issue was not pressed further until the election of Abraham Lincoln, when the doctrine of secession was brought to the foreground." (See C. S. Boucher, The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina (1916, repr. 1968); C. M. Wiltse, John C. Calhoun: Nullifier, 1829-1839 (1949); W. W. Freehling, ed., The Nullification Era (1967); M. D. Peterson, Olive Branch and Sword: The Compromise of 1833 (1982).) (

DC 87:1 beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina

When did the Civil War begin?  For the Prophet Joseph Smith, the conflict began in 1832 with the nullification convention of South Carolina (see Historical Background). In the History of the Church, he refers to the events of late 1832 as a "rebellion," and so it was (Vol. 1:301).  President Jackson's efforts to dispel the conflict were successful, but only for a season. Political analysts of the day may have predicted more conflict but none could have forecast the great destruction that loomed over the young republic. On the other hand, the Prophet's prophetic eye could see the rebellion of his day spilling over into the next generation.

Nearly 30 years later, South Carolina was again at the forefront. They were the state to first tip the cup that poured out war "upon all nations." (v. 2)

Elder B.H. Roberts wrote:

"Abraham Lincoln being elected in November, 1860, on the 17th of that month, an ordinance of secession was unanimously adopted by the legislature of South Carolina, the first act of the kind by any of the states.

"On the 10th of November, 1860, the United States senators from South Carolina, James N. Hammond and James Chestnut, Jun., resigned their seats, being the first of the senators to take that step.

"On the 24th of November, 1860, South Carolina's representatives in congress withdrew; they were the first representatives to do so.

"Members to a state convention called were chosen on the 3rd of December, 1860, to take measures for maintaining the 'sovereignty' of South Carolina. The convention was assembled in Charleston.

"On the 20th of December, the convention passed the ordinance of secession and Governor Pickins-just elected-announced on the same date the repeal, by the good people of South Carolina, the ordinance of May 23rd, 1788, by which South Carolina had ratified the federal constitution, and declared 'the dissolution of the union between the state of South Carolina and the other states under the name of the United States.' (A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 1: 295-296.)

"Starting with South Carolina in December, and ending with Texas in February, within some forty days, a total of seven deep South states severed their connections with the Union. In early February 1861, they launched a new government, the Confederate States of America, headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama." (

"On April 10, 1861, Brig. Gen. Beauregard, in command of the provisional Confederate forces at Charleston, South Carolina, demanded the surrender of the Union garrison of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Garrison commander Anderson refused. On April 12, Confederate batteries opened fire on the fort, which was unable to reply effectively. At 2:30 pm, April 13, Major Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter, evacuating the garrison on the following day. The bombardment of Fort Sumter was the opening engagement of the American Civil War." (

Ezra Taft Benson

As every schoolboy knows, the Civil War began with the secession of South Carolina from the Union, and other states followed. When Lincoln sent provisions to the Union forces at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, the Confederate forces opened fire on the fort. Since that fateful day in 1861, the world has seen as a result of warfare the death and misery of many souls.

The desire of the Prophet Joseph Smith was to save the Union from that bloody conflict. He recognized the iniquity of slavery and urged Congress to abolish it and to pay the slaveholders from the sale of public lands. The message went unheeded, and nearly one-half million souls died in the Civil War. ("Joseph Smith: Prophet to Our Generation," Ensign, Nov. 1981, 62)

DC 87:1 the death and misery of many souls

Neal A. Maxwell

Significantly, that prophecy warns of "the death and misery of many souls." The Civil War was, indeed, a bloody war, resulting in about 204,000 battle casualties plus another 225,000 military personnel who died of disease. This number actually well exceeds the American battle deaths (128,000) in World War I. In World War II, there were 396,637 battle deaths.

In one two-day Civil War battle alone, Chickamauga, 35,000 were killed or wounded out of 128,000 soldiers. The Americans killed in the Viet Nam war, a war which stretched over ten years and which jarred American life profoundly in many ways, totaled around 60,000. (Sermons Not Spoken [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985], 66.)

DC 87:3 the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States

"War clouds covered America. South Carolina threatened to secede from the republic. The crisis deeply troubled Joseph Smith. He said that on Christmas Day 1832 he 'was praying earnestly on the subject.' In answer, a voice revealed to him a 'Revelation on Prophecy and War' (D&C 87)...

"The Prophet wrote the revelation down. He told Church members about it. But it was not printed. Saints wanting copies had to hand copy from Joseph's copy. Orson Pratt, the energetic young missionary, obtained a handwritten copy, which he frequently pulled out and read to people during his travels. In February 1832 he started, on foot, on a 4,000-mile mission that would continue for several years, preaching in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New England, and Canada, during which he converted 104 people. Every year for the next five years he walked east and filled missions. Of those preaching days he later recalled:

'When I was a boy, I traveled extensively in the United States and the Canadas, preaching this restored Gospel. I had a manuscript copy of this revelation (on civil war), which I carried in my pocket, and I was in the habit of reading it to the people among whom I traveled and preached.' (He would not have had a copy of the revelation during his early missionary journeys as it was not received until the end of 1832, but must have had a copy with him for the next four years)

"How did his listeners respond? Did they say, 'Well, it takes no prophet to see war will start in South Carolina'? No. Said Orson: 'As a general thing the people regarded it as the height of nonsense, saying the Union was too strong to be broken; and I they said, was led away, the victim of an impostor.'

"When South Carolina's secession threats cooled down after 1832, did Orson begin to doubt the prophecy? No, because 'I knew the prophecy was true, for the Lord had spoken to me and had given me revelation.' But year after year passed away without war, and now and then 'some of the acquaintances I had formerly made would say, `Well, what is going to become of that prediction? It's never going to be fulfilled.` ' Orson replied, 'Wait, the Lord has his set time.'

"Perhaps doubters chided Joseph Smith too that the prophecy had 'failed.' For just before his death the Prophet restated it:

'I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina. It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th, 1832.'

"Then, more years of unfulfillment passed. But Elder Pratt, an Apostle since 1835, still felt such confidence in the prophecy that he helped arrange for its publication in England in 1851. This was the first time the prophecy appeared in print.

"Orson had to wait only a decade more. In December 1860 South Carolina voted itself out of the United States. Other southern states soon did the same. On April 12, 1861, secessionists' cannons opened fire on the United States' fort, Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor, and South Carolina thereby started a bloody war that would last four years and claim 600,000 lives.

"After the Civil War, Elder Pratt said, 'This is another testimony that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the Most High God.' (William G. Hartley, "Prophecy in His Pocket," New Era, Jan. 1989, 44-45)

Gordon B. Hinckley

What of Joseph Smith's prophecies?...  Among the most notable was the revelation on the Civil War. You are familiar with it; it was spoken on Christmas Day, 1832. There were many high-minded men and women who deplored the institution of slavery then common in the South, and there was much talk of abolition. But who but a prophet of God would have dared to say, [twenty-nine] years before it was to happen, that "war [would] be poured out upon all nations," beginning "at the rebellion of South Carolina," and that "the Southern States [would] be divided against the Northern States"? (D&C 87:1-3.) This remarkable prediction saw its fulfillment with the firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor in 1861. How could Joseph Smith have possibly foreseen with such accuracy the event that was to come thirty-nine years after he spoke of it? Only by the spirit of prophecy which was in him. ("Praise to the Man," Ensign, Aug. 1983, 6)

DC 87:3 the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain

B. H. Roberts

The Southern States did call upon other nations, and upon the nation of Great Britain in particular, for assistance. As early as May, 1861, the Confederacy sent commissioners abroad to seek recognition and aid from foreign powers. William L. Yancy, of Alabama; P. A. Rost, of Louisiana; A. Dudley Mann, of Virginia; and T. Butler King, of Georgia. Mr. Yancy was appointed to operate in England, Mr. Rost in France, and Mr. Mann in Holland and Belgium. Mr. King had a roving commission. Subsequently, in October, 1861, the Confederacy appointed James M. Mason and John Slidell, ambassadors to England and France respectively, to solicit the assistance of the British and French governments in the Southern cause...

Though Messrs. Mason and Slidell did not succeed in securing the open assistance of Great Britain, yet it is well known that British sympathy was with the Confederate cause... The evidence is surely sufficient that the Southern States did call upon the nation of Great Britain for assistance (and that is as far as the prophecy goes on this point), and England did give at least indirect aid and comfort to the Confederate cause... (New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909], 1: 332.)

James E. Talmage

While no open alliance between the Southern States and the English government was effected, British influence gave indirect assistance and substantial encouragement to the South, and this in such a way as to produce serious international complications. Vessels were built and equipped at British ports in the interests of the Confederacy; and the results of this violation of the laws of neutrality cost Great Britain fifteen and a half millions of dollars, which sum was awarded the United States at the Geneva arbitration in settlement of the Alabama claims. The Confederacy appointed commissioners to Great Britain and France; these appointees were forcibly taken by United States officers from the British steamer on which they had embarked. This act, which the United States government had to admit as overt, threatened for a time to precipitate a war between this nation and Great Britain. (Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 23.)

DC 87:3 Great Britain...shall also call upon other nations

This is a brief reference to the world wars. A long tradition of British military and political independence would end with World War I. The people of Great Britain would call upon other nations "in order to defend themselves against other nations."  Then, Great Britain's call for assistance would be repeated 35 years later in the Second World War.

The First Presidency

The sudden "outpouring" of the spirit of war upon the European nations which startled the whole world and was unexpected at the time of its occurrence, had been long expected by the Latter-day Saints, as it was foretold by the Prophet Joseph Smith on Christmas day, December 25th, 1832. (JOSEPH F. SMITH, ANTHON H. LUND, CHARLES W. PENROSE, Dec. 19, 1914, Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols., comp. by James R. Clark, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 4: 319.)

B. H. Roberts

England through many years trusted to the strength of her navy to guarantee the integrity of her far-flung empire; and her statesmen prided themselves on what they called England's policy of "Splendid Isolation." That is to say, her freedom from entangling alliances with continental European powers, and for matter of that, with other world powers. But when Germany began its rivalry in naval construction against England, some years before the outbreak of the World War of 1914-1918, then England lost her sense of security based upon the strength of her navy, and turned to other nations-"called upon other nations, in order to defend herself against other nations," then was the signal given for the "war upon all nations."

The World War

England formed her entente alliance with France, and later with other world powers, with what result is common historical knowledge. Even casual observation of the leading events and the results of that war will bring conviction that it was in a large measure the fulfillment of this prediction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, uttered more than four score years earlier, that "war would be poured out upon all nations;" for during its continuance "sixteen established nations and three new ones which the war brought forth [making nineteen], assembled their human powers for the great conflict, fifteen on one side and four on the other." Against one or more of the four nations-the European central powers-twelve other nations declared war, but did not actively indulge in it; thus making thirty-one nations which declared war... Authoritative tables give the grand total of all armies mobilized at 59,176,864. Direct military deaths out of this number are set down as 7,781,806; the wounded at 18,681,257, prisoners and missing 7,080,580; making a total of direct military casualties of 33,434,443. (A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 1: 301 - 302.)

DC 87:3 war shall be poured out upon all nations

Neal A. Maxwell

War has been the almost continuing experience of modern man. There have been 141 wars, large and small, just since the end of World War II in 1945. As the American Civil War was about to begin, the Lord declared there would be a succession of wars poured out upon all nations, resulting in the "death and misery of many souls." (D&C 87:1.)

Moreover, that continuum of conflict will culminate in "a full end of all nations." (D&C 87:6.) Meanwhile, let mortals, if they choose, put overreliance upon mortal arms. As for us, we shall "put on the whole armour of God"! (Eph. 6:11.) And in the midst of such affliction, if we are righteous and we die, we die unto Him; and if we live, we live unto Him. (See D&C 42:44.)

Alas, brothers and sisters, we likewise live in a time when the love of many will wax cold. (See D&C 45:27; Matt. 24:12.) Fear will therefore increase. Why? Because when men fear, it is because we are not perfect in love. (See 1 Jn. 4:18; Moro. 8:16.) The less love, the more fear-as well as the more war!

As with Paul, however, we may be perplexed, but we are not in despair. (See 2 Cor. 4:8.) For if we are prepared spiritually, we need not fear. ("Be of Good Cheer," Ensign, Nov. 1982, 67)

DC 87:4 slaves shall rise up against their masters

Joseph L. Wirthlin

In many cases I am quite sure we all think this has to do particularly with the slaves in the Southern States, but I believe, brethren and sisters, that it was intended that this referred to slaves all over the world, and I think of those, particularly in the land of Russia and other countries wherein they have been taken over by that great nation and where the people are actually the slaves of those individuals who guide and direct the affairs of Russia and China, and where the rights and the privilege to worship God and to come to a knowledge that Jesus Christ is his Son is denied them. (Conference Report, October 1958, Afternoon Meeting 32.)

DC 87:5 the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves, and... vex the Gentiles

Section 87 is remarkable for its bold prophecy of latter-day wars. First, is the obvious and bold declaration of the Civil War. Second, is the brief reference to the British plight during the World Wars.  Third, is this reference to the remnants of the land who will vex the Gentiles.  Elder B. H. Roberts stated, "As for the remainder of the prophecy and its fulfillment, which predicts still more extensive and destructive wars-those are events of the future, to be wrought out as God wills." (A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 303.)

This third reference applies again to a major war on American soil.  It is a prophecy frequently repeated in scripture and often disregarded by the saints who don't understand it-or perhaps don't want to. Micah is the prophet who first told of these events:

   And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.

   And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

   Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.

   And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:

   And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds:

   And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:

   Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.

   And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.

   And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard. (Micah 5:7-15)

   But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me... I will not suffer my people who are of the house of Israel to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.

   But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them and shall tread them down... (3 Nephi 16:13-15)

   And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles. (3 Nephi 20:20)

DC 87:6 with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn

Charles W. Penrose

Through the rejection of this Gospel, which "Shall be preached to all the world as a witness" of the coming of Christ, the world will increase in confusion, doubt, and horrible strife. As the upright in heart, the meek of the earth, withdraw from their midst, so will the spirit of God also be withdrawn from them. The darkness upon their minds in relation to eternal things will become blacker, nations will engage in frightful and bloody warfare, the crimes which are now becoming so frequent will be of continual occurrence, the ties that bind together families and kindred will be disregarded and violated, the passions of human nature will be put to the vilest uses, the very elements around will seem to be affected by the national and social convulsions that will agitate the world, and storms, earthquakes, and appalling disasters by sea and land will cause terror and dismay among the people; new diseases will silently cat their ghastly way through the ranks of the wicked; the earth, soaked with gore and defiled with the filthiness of her inhabitants, will begin to withhold her fruits in their season; the waves of the sea will heave themselves beyond their bounds, and all things will be in commotion; and in the midst of all these calamities, the masterminds among nations will be taken away, and fear will take hold of the hearts of all men. (Gerald N. Lund, The Coming of the Lord [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971], 37 - 38.)

Joseph Fielding Smith

It has been thought by many that the World War was the last great struggle, but the Lord said these judgments should be poured out until he shall make an end of all nations. The warfare upon the earth has scarcely ceased, if it has ever ceased, since the firing of the first gun at Fort Sumter. As soon as peace is declared in one part of the earth, war raises his ugly visage in another. The World War did not frighten the world into peace. Its horrors were so great that honest souls felt and hoped that it would be the end; but peace will not come through fright. Fear may postpone the inevitable conflict, but when greed and wickedness prevail upon the face of the earth, there will be no peace and the final conflict is sure to come. (The Progress of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 398.)

Bruce R. McConkie

These wars and plagues and desolations shall continue-and increase-until the kingdoms of this world are destroyed and He reigns whose right it is. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 372.)

DC 87:8 stand ye in holy places, and be not moved

Ezra Taft Benson

We will live in the midst of economic, political, and spiritual instability. When these signs are observed-unmistakable evidences that His coming is nigh-we need not be troubled, but "stand . . . in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come." (Doctrine and Covenants 87:8.)

Holy men and women stand in holy places, and these holy places consist of our temples, our chapels, our homes, and the stakes of Zion, which are, as the Lord declares, "for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth." (Doctrine and Covenants 115:6.) We must heed the Lord's counsel to the Saints of this dispensation: "Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord." (Doctrine and Covenants 133:10.)

This preparation must consist of more than just casual membership in the Church. We must be guided by personal revelation and the counsel of the living prophet so we will not be deceived...

President Wilford Woodruff further prophesied in 1894: "Can you tell me where the people are who will be shielded and protected from these great calamities and judgments which are even now at our doors? I'll tell you. The priesthood of God who honor their priesthood and who are worthy of their blessings are the only ones who shall have this safety and protection. They are the only mortal beings. No other people have a right to be shielded from these judgments. They are at our doors; not even this people will escape them entirely." (Young Women's Journal 5 [August 1894]: 512.)

Will we be among those who are faithful to the end? Will we endure? Are we prepared? Can we live in the world and not partake of the sins of the world? Will we "arise and shine forth," as the Lord has commanded? Will we be a light and a "standard for the nations"?

Such is our challenge. Therefore, let us prepare for the great day of the Lord. (Come unto Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 115-116.)