For centuries the Lord kept America hidden in the hollow of His hand until the time was right to unveil her for her destiny in the last days. “It is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations,” said Lehi, “for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.” (2 Ne. 1:8)
In the Lord’s due time His Spirit “wrought upon” Columbus, the pilgrims, the Puritans, and others to come to America. They testified of God’s intervention in their behalf. (See 1 Ne. 13:12-13.) The Book of Mormon records that they humbled “themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.” (1 Ne. 13:16)
Our Father in Heaven planned the coming forth of the Founding Fathers and their form of government as the necessary great prologue leading to the restoration of the gospel. Recall what our Savior Jesus Christ said nearly two thousand years ago when He visited this promised land: “For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth.” (3 Ne. 21:4) America, the land of liberty, was to be the Lord’s latter-day base of operations for His restored Church. — President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, November 1987
President and Sister Hinckley made a visit to Israel prior to 1967 when Jerusalem was a fenced city, divided between the Arabs and the Jews. They hired an Arab guide who took them to a high place in the city. President Hinckley recalled the guide saying, ”You belong to the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Yours is the only nation which has been victorious in war and never claimed any territory as a prize of conquest. Your people have given millions, even billions to the poor of the earth and never asked for anything in return. Rather, even after coming off as conqueror, you have poured in other billions to revive those who have been your enemies in bloody conflict.”
Then President Hinckley noted: “This I learned from long ago. The nations of the earth through the centuries of time have waged war to gain territory. I think ours is the only nation on the face of the earth which has not claimed territory gained out of conflict. . . . In no instance – not in the First World War or the Second, not in the Korean War or in Vietnam, did our nation seize and hold territory for itself as a prize of war.” — Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley speaking at Weber State University’s commencement, May 6, 1999; Church News, May 15, 1999, p. 12
The . . . angel of God that appeared unto Joseph Smith . . . revealed to him the history of the early inhabitants of this country. . . . This same angel presides over the destinies of America, and feels a lively interest in all our doings. He was in the camp of Washington; and, by an invisible hand, led on our fathers to conquest and victory; and all this to open and prepare the way for the Church and kingdom of God to be established on the western hemisphere, for the redemption of Israel and the salvation of the world. This same angel was with Columbus, and gave him deep impressions, by dreams and by visions, respecting this New World. Trammeled by poverty and by an unpopular cause, yet his persevering and unyielding heart would not allow an obstacle in his way too great for him to overcome; and the angel of God helped him – was with him on the stormy deep, calmed the troubled elements, and guided his frail vessel to the desired haven. Under the guardianship of this same angel, or Prince of America, have the United States grown, increased, and flourished, like the sturdy oak by the rivers of water. — Elder Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, 6:368; given July 4, 1854
There is a legend about the day of our nation’s birth in the little hall in Philadelphia, a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard pressed by a king who had flouted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words “treason, the gallows, the headsman’s axe,” and the issue remained in doubt.
The legend says that at that point a man rose and spoke. He is described as not a young man, but one who had to summon all his energy for an impassioned plea. He cited the grievances that had brought them to this moment and finally, his voice falling, he said, “They may turn every tree into a gallows, every hole into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. To the mechanic in the workshop, they will speak hope; to the slave in the mines, freedom. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the Bible of the rights of man forever.”
He fell back exhausted. The 56 delegates, swept up by his eloquence, rushed forward and signed that document destined to be as immortal as a work of man can be. When they turned to thank him for his timely oratory, he was not to be found, nor could any be found who knew who he was or how he had come in or gone out through the locked and guarded doors. — U.S. President Ronald Reagan, “What July Fourth Means to Me,” July 5, 1981
Unless this nation wakes up and realizes [its strength] and stands up for it, then we will lose it, and what a shame that will be – not because of the worldly power that will be lost, but because of the service that will be lost to other nations. — Elder L. Tom Perry, “‘Keep up,’ young adults told,” talk given to the young adults in Las Vegas Valley on April 18, 2010, Church News, April 24, 2010, p. 3
President Wilford Woodruff said of the founders [of this nation] collectively, and of [George] Washington specifically, the following:
“I am going to bear my testimony to this assembly, if I never do it again in my life, that those men who laid the foundation of this American government . . . were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. These were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all of the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord. . . . Every one of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence with General Washington called upon me as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ in the temple at St. George two consecutive nights and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the House of God for them. . . .
“Brother McAllister baptized me for all of those men, and then I told those brethren that it was their duty to go into the temple and labor until they had got endowments for all of them. They did it. Would these spirits have called on me, as an elder in Israel, to perform this work if they had not been noble spirits before God. They would not.” [Conference Report, April 1898, pp. 89, 90]
The temple work for the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence and other founding fathers has been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was president of the St. George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. You will also be interested to know that, according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained high priests – by proxy, of course – at that time.
When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to the God of heaven for it. Yes, with Lincoln I say, “To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is . . . impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor leave it shining on.” That is the charge I would leave to people everywhere, faculty, students, others of this and every other university – leave Washington’s name “shining on.” — Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “God’s Hand in Our Nation’s History,” [Ezra Taft Benson was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when this fireside address was given at Brigham Young University on 28 March 1976]
I have often wondered what the expression meant, that out of Zion shall go forth the law. Years ago I went with the brethren to the Idaho Falls Temple, and I heard in that inspired prayer of the First Presidency a definition of the meaning of the term “out of Zion shall go forth the law.” Note what they said: “We thank thee that thou has revealed to us that those who gave us our constitutional form of government were men wise in thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that sacred document [the Constitution of the United States – see D&C 101:80] . . . .
We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason of their freedom under thy guidance and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems, thus to fulfil the ancient prophecy of Isaiah that “out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” — President Harold B. Lee, “The Way to Eternal Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1971, p. 15
Certainly, if any person ought to interfere in political matters, it should be those whose minds and judgments are influenced by correct principles – religious as well as political – otherwise those persons professing religion would have to be governed by those who make no profession; be subject to their rule, have the law and word of God trampled under foot, and become as wicked as Sodom, and as corrupt as Gomorrah, and be prepared for final destruction. (John Taylor, 1844, MS-5:8-9) We are told “when the wicked rule the people mourn” [D&C 98:9]. This we have abundantly proved in the state of Missouri, and having had our fingers once burned, we dread the fire. The cause of humanity, the cause of justice, the cause of freedom, the cause of patriotism and the cause of God require us to use our endeavors to put in righteous rulers. Our revelations tell us to seek diligently for good and for wise men [D&C 98:10]. . . .
Let every man then that hates oppression and loves the cause of right, not only vote himself, but use his influence to obtain the votes of others, that we may by every legal means support that man whose election will secure the greatest amount of good to the nation at large. — Elder John Taylor, “Religion and Politics,” Times and Seasons, 15 March 1844, p. 471
It has been prophesied that the Constitution of the United States will hang by a thread and that the elders of Israel will step forth to save it [see Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4 July 1854, 7; Preston Nibley, “What of Joseph Smith’s Prophecy that the Constitution Would Hang by a Thread,” Church News, 15 Dec. 1948, 24-C].
In my mind that does not require a few heroes in public office steering some saving legislation through the halls of congress, neither some brilliant military leaders rallying our defense against an invading army. In my mind, that could well be the rank and file of men and women of faith who revere the Constitution and believe that the strength of democracy rests in the ordinary family and in each member of it. It rests with ordinary fathers and mothers who do not neglect the spiritual development of their children. — Elder Boyd K. Packer, “The Country with a Conscience,” address given at American Freedom Festival in Provo, Utah, 25 June 1989, p. 12
This is the land that was given to Joseph – the son so well beloved by his father Jacob; and no king will ever reign upon it but the King, the Lord. . . . God led our fathers from Europe to this land, and prepared the way to break the yoke that bound them, and inspired the guaranteed freedom in our government, though that guarantee is too often disregarded. He could bring forth his work, and has prepared a people to receive and commence his kingdom. Could this be done anywhere else? No. He has known from the beginning of creation that this is the land whereon to build this Zion. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:67
The Lord has been operating for centuries to prepare the way for the coming forth of the contents of that Book from the bowels of the earth. . . . It was the Lord who directed the discovery of this land to the nations of the old world, and its settlement, and the war for independence, and the final victory of the colonies, and the unprecedented prosperity of the American nation up to the calling of Joseph the Prophet. The Lord has dictated and directed the whole of this, for the bringing forth of his Kingdom in the last days. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:17
The ancients whom we love and read and quote so much – Adam and Abraham, Joshua and Joseph, Isaiah and Ezekiel and Ezra, Nephi and Alma, and Mormon and Moroni – all of these ancient prophets, priests, and kings focused their prophetic vision “with peculiar delight” on our day, on our time. It is this hour to which they have looked forward “with joyful anticipation,” and “fired with heavenly and joyful anticipation they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day.”
They saw us as “the favored people” upon whom God would shower his full and complete latter-day glory, and I testify that is our destiny. What a privilege! What an honor! What a responsibility! And what joy! We have every reason in time and eternity to rejoice and give thanks for the quality of our lives and the promises we have been given. That we may do so, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. — President Howard W. Hunter, “An Anchor to the Souls of Men,” BYU Devotional, February 7, 1993