Abraham Lincoln

Excerpts used in this article were taken from the original article “What 17 Famous People Have Said About Mormons” by Danielle B. Wagner for the 31 August 2016 online edition of LDS Living.com.

People have a lot to say about the Mormons these days, what with The Book of Mormon musical still going strong not to mention how Mormons are impacting the current presidential election. And there’s no short supply of topics or opinions.

But, since the 1800s, Mormons have always been a popular topic of conversation, and often misrepresentation. As a “peculiar” people, we just can’t help but draw the attention of famous people, from writers to presidents to celebrities and more.

Here are just a few priceless quotes of what influential people have said about Mormons:

President Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln

“When I was a boy on the farm in Illinois there was a great deal of timber on the farm which we had to clear away. Occasionally we would come to a log which had fallen down. It was too hard to split, too wet to burn and too heavy to move, so we plowed around it. That’s what I intend to do with the Mormons. You go back and tell Brigham Young that if he will let me alone I will let him alone.”

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Upon boarding an emigrant ship with several Latter-day Saints, Dickens observed,Nobody is in an ill temper, nobody is the worse for drink, nobody swears an oath or uses a coarse word, nobody appears depressed, nobody is weeping . . . And these people are so strikingly different from all other people in like circumstances whom I have ever seen, that I wonder aloud, ‘What would a stranger suppose these emigrants to be!’”

Dickens also noted: “It is surprising to me that these people are all so cheery, and make so little of the immense distance before them. . . . What is in store for the poor people on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, what happy delusions they are labouring under now, on what miserable blindness their eyes may be opened then, I do not pretend to say. But I went on board their ship to bear testimony against them if they deserved it, as I fully believed they would; to my great astonishment, they did not deserve it; and my predispositions and tendencies must not affect me as an honest witness, I went over the Amazon’s side, feeling it impossible to deny that, so far, some remarkable influence had produced a remarkable result, which better known influences have often missed.”

Maria von Trapp

Maria von Trapp

“In Brazil, in Argentina, in Peru, in Chile, in Mexico, in New Zealand, in Australia … whenever there were two strapping young Americans—two—coming up to us, very friendly, they were Mormon missionaries. I always admired the Mormon Church, for this in a way is most natural thing to do, to give two years of your life—a preconceived Peace Corps plan, long before there was Peace Corps—and to go to teach all people, as He has told us to do.”

-From Much Ado About Mormons: What Famous People Have Said About the Mormons by Rick Walton

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Good out of evil. One must thank the genius of Brigham Young for the creation of Salt Lake City — an inestimable hospitality to the Overland Emigrants, and an efficient example to all men in the vast desert, teaching how to subdue and turn it to a habitable garden.”

-From Much Ado About Mormons: What Famous People Have Said About the Mormons by Rick Walton

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt

In a letter to Winston Churchill, President Franklin Roosevelt commented on a Deseret News article noting that Churchill was related to members of the LDS Church. He wrote:

“Hitherto I had not observed any outstanding Mormon characteristics in either of you—but I shall be looking for them from now on. I have a very high opinion of the Mormons—for they are excellent citizens.”

-From Much Ado About Mormons: What Famous People Have Said About the Mormons by Rick Walton

Cecil B. Demille

Cecil B. DeMille

Filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille said during his comments at a BYU commencement: “I have known many members of your church—and I have never known one who was not a good citizen and a fine, wholesome person—but David O. McKay embodies, more than anyone that I have ever known, the virtues and the drawing-power of your church.

“David McKay, almost thou persuadest me to be a Mormon! And knowing what family life means to the Latter-day Saints, I cannot speak or think of President McKay without thinking too of that gracious and spirited young lady who is his wife.”

-From Much Ado About Mormons: What Famous People Have Said About the Mormons by Rick Walton

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

“We walked about the streets [of Salt Lake City] some, afterward, and glanced in at shops and stores; and there was a fascination in surreptitiously staring at every creature we took to be a Mormon. This was a fairyland to us, to all intents and purposes—a land of enchantment, and goblins, and awful mystery. We felt a curiosity to ask every child how many mothers it had, and if it could tell them apart; and we experienced a thrill every time a dwelling-house door opened and shut as we passed, disclosing a glimpse of human heads and backs of shoulders—for we longed to have a good satisfying look at a Mormon family in all its comprehensive ampleness, disposed in the customary concentric rings of its home circle.”

-From Much Ado About Mormons: What Famous People Have Said About the Mormons by Rick Walton

President Herbert Hoover

President Herbert Hoover

“I have witnessed their devotion to public service and their support of charitable efforts over our country and in foreign lands during all these years. I have witnessed the growth of the church’s communities over the world where self-reliance, devotion, resolution, and integrity are a light to all mankind. Surely a great message of Christian faith has been given by the church—and it must continue.”

-From Much Ado About Mormons: What Famous People Have Said About the Mormons by Rick Walton

All images from Getty Images.

About Guest Author

Copyright © 2019 Mormon History. All Rights Reserved.
This website is not owned by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. The views expressed by individual users are the responsibility of those users and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. For the official Church websites, please visit LDS.org or Mormon.org.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!