The Mormon Passage of George D. Watt: First British Convert, Scribe for Zion

The Mormon Passage of George D. Watt: First British Convert, Scribe for Zion

The Mormon Passage of George D. Watt: First British Convert, Scribe for Zion

The Mormon Passage of George D. Watt: First British Convert, Scribe for Zion

Excerpt

On May 15, 1868, an argument between Brigham Young, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and George D. Watt, his clerk, erupted in Young's Salt Lake City office. Feeling desperate about the financial pressures of his suffering family, Watt was asking for $5.00 a day, a raise of $1.50. The labor-management discussion rapidly turned heated. Young grudgingly guessed he would have to pay Watt what he demanded but thought that he did not deserve it. As far as Young was concerned, no one in the office worked hard enough for the pay he received. Watt felt that was tantamount to an accusation of stealing. He was outraged and wounded. More than a decade later, he recorded, “I was suddenly and unexpectedly crushed, by a public charge of meanness and sly robbery, by one against whose affirmation I had no appeal. I could only see my character as an honest man gone among my friends and brethren, my future efforts to do good defeated, over thirty years of labor and struggle a blank, and branded as a scoundrel to the end of my life.” “I immediately put on my hat and coat and left.”

By storming angrily out, Watt left all his papers, especially his shorthand notes, in his desk for a future historian. He planned to throw them away, not bequeath this treasure trove to history. It was an accident, a very fortunate accident for us. For a future biographer, he left at least one letter that he

1. George D. Watt to John Taylor, December 5, 1878, holograph, general correspondence,
John Taylor First Presidency records, Church Archives, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
day Saints, Salt Lake City (hereafter cited as LDS Church Archives).

2. George D. Watt to Martha Watt, May 17, 1868, holograph, L. Tom Perry Special
Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

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