Heber Jeddy Grant
) was the seventh president
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(LDS Church). He was ordained an apostle
on October 16
, on the same day as George Teasdale
. Grant served as church president from November 23
to his death in 1945, which makes him the longest-serving church president during the twentieth century
Grant was born in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory to Jedediah Morgan Grant and Rachel Ridgeway Ivins. Jedediah Grant had served as Brigham Young's counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church. However, Jedediah died nine days after Heber was born, and Rachel became the dominant influence in Heber's life. In business, Heber J. Grant helped develop the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City. In 1884 he served a term as a representative to the Utah Territorial Legislature.
Heber grew up without his father, Jedediah M. Grant, and was subsequently raised by his mother. He was known for his determination in achieving goals seemingly beyond his reach. As a child, he wished to join the baseball team that would win the Utah Territorial championship, although others believed him to be too physically awkward to be a successful baseball player. In response, he purchased a baseball and practiced throwing the ball against his barn until he developed his skill sufficiently to join the baseball team that would win the Utah Territorial championship.
In similar fashion, he expressed a desire to be a successful bookkeeper, although many of his associates criticized his penmanship. He likewise practiced his penmanship until such a point where he was invited to teach penmanship at one of the local academies.
In 1901, Grant was sent to Japan
to open the Japanese Mission
of the LDS Church, and he served as its president
until 1903 when he returned home but was almost immediately sent to preside over the British and European Missions of the church.
Grant succeeded Joseph F. Smith as president of the LDS Church in November 1918. However, he was not sustained in the position by the general church membership until June 1919, as the influenza pandemic of 1918 forced a delay of the church's traditional springtime general conference.
During his tenure as president, Grant enforced the 1890 Manifesto outlawing plural marriage and gave guidance as the church's social structure evolved away from its early days of plural marriage-based families. In 1927, he authorized the implementation of the church's "Good Neighbor" policy, which was intended to reduce antagonism between Latter-day Saints and the United States government. In 1935, Grant excommunicated members of the church in Short Creek, Arizona that refused to sign the loyalty pledge to the church that included a renunciation of plural marriage. This action signalled the formal beginning of the Mormon fundamentalist movement, and some of the excommunicated members went on to found the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
One of Grant's greatest legacies as president is the welfare program of the LDS Church, which he instituted in 1936. He said, "our primary purpose was to set up, insofar as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self-respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people help themselves. His administration also emphasized the practice of the LDS health code known as the Word of Wisdom. Until Grant's administration, adherence to the health code was not compulsory for advancement in the priesthood or for entrance to LDS temples. (Allen and Leonard, p. 524)
Grant died in Salt Lake City, Utah from cardiac failure as a result of arteriosclerosis. As the final surviving member of the church's Council of Fifty, his death marked the end of the organization.
Grant was the last of the LDS Church presidents to practice "plural marriage
". He married a first time in 1877 and then twice more in 1884. Some sources suggest the latter two marriages were annulled after the Manifesto ending plural marriages was issued by President Wilford Woodruff
in 1890, but no evidence can be found to support this.
- Grant married Lucy Stringham on November 1, 1877. Lucy bore him 6 children before she died in 1893, after a long illness, during which he gave constant and tender devotion to her, as he had throughout their marriage.
- He married Hulda Augusta Winters on May 26, 1884. Augusta bore him one daughter. She accompanied Grant to Japan when Grant was sent to open the Japanese Mission in 1901. Remained with Grant until his death in 1945. She died in 1952.
- Grant married Emily Harris Wells on May 27, 1884. Emily bore him 5 children before she died in 1908. She accompanied Grant during his time presiding over the British and European Mission in 1903. Emily's last child was born in 1899, the same year Grant pleaded guilty to unlawful cohabitation and paid a $100 fine.