Hanging by a Thread

In addition to the four sources of Joseph Smith’s prophecy that the constitution of this country would hang by a thread that are listed in the footnotes to the talk The Decline and Possible Fall of the American Republic, there is this account by Goudy E. Hogan. It is interesting that Joseph Smith spoke of this in the April 1844 general conference, the last one before his martyrdom. It is also interesting that according to this account, not only Jackson County, Missouri and by extension Salt Lake City, Utah will be considered Mount Zion, but all of North and South America. This is the only account of the prophecy of which I am aware that speaks of the constitution hanging by an “untwisted thread.”

Goudy E. Hogan

I very frequently went with my Father from where we lived eight miles to Nauvoo to meeting and back home the same day on foot to hear the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Patriarch Hyrum and others preach with great power. I was then fourteen years old, but I was very anxious to go to meeting and listen to what the servants of the Lord had to say. On one occasion when I went with my Father to Nauvoo to meeting on April 6th, the same year of the martyrdom, while they held meeting in the grove not far from the temple, a very large congregation was gathered having come a long way on foot. I with a few other boys climbed up on some boards behind the stand that was temporary so that I could hear every word that was said. I was sitting close behind the Prophet Joseph Smith so that I nearly touched his clothes. I had not been long in the church and was somewhat superstitious and took particular notice of his manner of dress and action. I remember that he had on a light colored linen coat with a small hole in each elbow of his coat sleeve. I remember thinking that he was not a proud man and that his very noble experience inspired me with great confidence and faith that he was a great prophet of the Lord. I also remember while one was preaching the Prophet Joseph spoke to the elder that was preaching to stop speaking for a minute. Joseph the Prophet rose from his seat and said in a loud voice, owing to the large congregation that was assembled, saying he wished some of those young men on the outside of the congregation that were making disturbance by talking loud to the young ladies would not do so but wait and go to their homes and speak to them by the consent of their parents. The speaker continued his discourse and after a while the Prophet walked down from the stand and walked through the further side of the congregation where the disturbance was. Although the alley was densely crowded with people standing up, the way opened up so that he walked through and back without any hindrance where it would seem impossible for any other man to do so. Such was the respect of the people for Joseph Smith, so you can see that he was not above acting in the capacity of a deacon when it was really necessary. There was no more disturbance in that meeting. In this meeting he said that North and South America would become Mount Zion and that the constitution would hang on a single untwisted thread and that the Latter Day Saints would save it.

“History of Goudy E. Hogan,” Typescript copy. BYU Special Collections. Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, Utah. Quoted in Remembering Joseph: personal recollections of those who knew the prophet Joseph Smith, 2003, edited by Mark L McConkie, pages 38-39, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City.

The book contains this short biography:

Hogan, Goudy E. (1829-1898). Born in Tinsprestifield, Thelemarken, Norway; baptized in 1843; as a teen sat on the stand behind the Prophet when Joseph spoke at the 1844 April conference; emigrated to Utah in 1848; ordained a high priest and bishop; buried in Richmond, Utah.

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