John Taylor (November 1, 1808 – July 25, 1887) was the third President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was responsible for expanding the Church in Utah as well as in Canada and Mexico. John was President while the U.S. government was persecuting the LDS over polygamy. At age thirty, he was elected to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. At age 66, he became President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. John served as President of the Church for 7 years until his death. He was considered an articulate author, editor, publisher and spokesman. John was called a strong "defender of the faith."
John was a son of James and Agnes Taylor, born in Milnthorpe, Westmorland, England and christened in the Church of England. At the age of fourteen he became a skilled woodturner and cabinetmaker. At sixteen, he joined the Methodist church and was made a lay preacher shortly thereafter. John followed his parents and moved to Canada. There he would marry Leonora Cannon. He would be a Methodist preacher in Toronto. In 1836, he became a Mormon and John and Leonora were baptized. December 19, 1838 John Taylor was ordained an apostle and they moved West to Missouri where he played a prominent role in assisting the Saints as they fled from mob persecutions. In 1839, he and some fellow apostles preached to the British Isles where he was known as a bold advocate of the Church. Forever remembered as the Missions of the Twelve to the British Isles.
John served as a Nauvoo, Illinois city councilman, a chaplain, a colonel, and a judge advocate for the Nauvoo Legion. Also, he was responsible for publishing two newspapers; Times and Seasons, Nauvoo Neighbor until 1846. John would be thrown in Carthage Jail with prophets Joseph and Hyrum Smith. The mob murdered the Smith brothers and John himself was shot. Legend says that John survived the ordeal because a bullet meant to kill him was stopped by his pocket watch. John wrote Doctrine and Covenants 135 as a tribute to Joseph and Hyrum. In 1847, he was forced out of Nauvoo and with the help of Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor led 1,500 Saints to Salt Lake Valley, Utah territory. There, Taylor was appointed an associate judge in the provisional State of Desert and served in the Utah territorial legislature. Taylor was elected Speaker of the House for five consecutive session.
In 1882, the United States Congress declared polygamy to be a felony by way of the Edmunds Act. Mormon men and women were imprisoned for practicing plural marriage. To avoid prosecution, John and others would have to live "underground" for almost two and a half years. In 1887, the United States Congress would enact the Edmunds-Tucker Act. This act would dismantle the LDS Church, abolish the Nauvoo Legion and forfeit LDS assets over $50,000. to the U.S. Government. The strain was great on his health and he died of congestive heart failure July 25, 1887.
- “I would rather trust in the living God than in any other power on earth.”
- "This church fail? No! Times and seasons may change, revolution may succeed revolution; thrones may be cast down; and empires be dissolved; earthquakes may rend the earth from center to circumference; the mountains may be hurled out of their places, and the mighty ocean be moved from its bed, but amidst the crash of worlds and the crack of matter, truth, eternal truth, must remain unchanged, and those principles which God has revealed to his saints be unscathed amidst the warring elements, and remain as firm as the throne of Jehovah."