"Learn of me ... and ye shall find rest unto your souls." - Matthew 11: 29

White Horse Prophecy

One of the interesting things about the LDS faith is that, as young as the Church is, we have “pseudepigraphal” works of our own. Pseudepigraphal means that we do not know who wrote these things or if they are true. One of the more well known and quoted of these is the “White Horse Prophecy” attributed to Joseph Smith Jr. 

White Horse Prophecy (Joseph Smith)

…While this conversation was going on we stood by his south wicket gate in a triangle. Turning to me, [Joseph] said, “I want to tell you something of the future. I will speak in a parable like unto John the Revelator. You will go to the Rocky Mountains and you will be a great and mighty people established there, which I will call the White Horse of peace and safety.” When the Prophet said, “You will see it,” I said, “Where will you be at that time?” He said, “I shall never go there. Your enemies will continue to follow you with persecutions and they will make obnoxious laws against you in Congress to destroy the White Horse, but you will have a friend or two to defend you and throw out the worst parts of the law so they will not hurt you so much. You must continue to petition Congress all the time, but they will treat you like strangers and aliens and they will not give you your rights, but will govern you with strangers and commissioners. You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber.” At that time the Prophet’s countenance became sad, because as he said, “I love the Constitution; it was made by the inspiration of God; and it will be preserved and saved by the efforts of the White Horse, and by the Red Horse who will combine in its defense. The White Horse will find the mountains full of minerals and they will become rich (at this time, it must be remembered, the precious metals were not known to exist in either the Rocky Mountains or California). You will see silver piled up in the streets. You will see the gold shoveled up like sand. Gold will be of little value then, even in a mercantile capacity; for the people of the world will have something else to do in seeking for salvation. The time will come when the banks of every nation will fall and only two places will be safe where people can deposit their gold and treasure. This place will be the White Horse and England’s vaults. A terrible revolution will take place in the land of America, such as has never been seen before; for the land will be left without a Supreme Government, and every specie of wickedness will be practiced rampantly in the land. Father will be against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother. The most terrible scenes of bloodshed, murder and rape that have ever been imagined or looked upon will take place. People will be taken from the earth and there will be peace and love only in the Rocky Mountains. This will cause many hundreds of thousands of the honest in heart of the world to gather there, not because they would be Saints, but for safety and because they will be so numerous that you will be in danger of famine, but not for want of seed, time and harvest, but because of so many to be fed. Many will come with bundles under their arms to escape the calamities for there will be no escape except only by escaping and fleeing to Zion… – diary of Elder John J. Roberts, 1902

The fact that the journal entry is from 1902 and it is his account of the revelation as told to him by Robert Pierce, we already see a problem. If Joseph Smith ever said this, it would have been in 1843, about 60 years before this version of the story was recorded second or third hand.

The Church’s official stance of the prophecy is as follows:

“The so-called ‘White Horse Prophecy’ is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine.” – LDS Newsroom

This may, however, be a compilation of other prophecies made by the prophet, though exacerbated here.

  • “You will go to the Rocky Mountains…” – White Horse Prophecy and “I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains” – History of the Church , Vol.5, Ch.4, p.85
  • “I shall never go there.” – White Horse Prophecy and “I told Stephen Markham that if I and Hyrum were ever taken again we should be massacred, or I was not a prophet of God.” – History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 546
  • “You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber.” – White Horse Prophecy and “He [Joseph Smith Jr.] said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people.” – Brigham Young Journals of Discourses Vol 12, p. 204 (The idea that Smith said something like this was repeated many times by early Saints in Utah.)

These are the most common threads, everything else merely exacerbates the above ideas.

Conclusions 

We may never know if Joseph Smith truly said these things or not, and we do not need to. We have enough legitimate prophecies to look at that this pseudepigraphal one becomes irrelevant.

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