Slavery in Utah

211 Primary Sources


Virginian law states that slave status is inherited from the mother.


Louisiana Legislature places ownership of children born to slaves with the enslaved mother's owner.

Sep 15, 1829

Mexico abolishes slavery.

Feb 1831 - Mar 1831

Joseph adds that Canaan is cursed with a "vail of darkness" in his Bible translation.


The 1832 Mississippi Constitution contains slave codes.

Jul 1833

Phelps says "we have no special rule in the church, as to people of color."

Jul 16, 1833

Evening and Morning Star reports policy of not admitting Black people to the state or Church.

Jul 29, 1833

John Whitmer describes violence against Mormons in Missouri.

Dec 1833

Phelps describes the violence faced by Mormons in Missouri.

Dec 1833

W. W. Phelps records a letter from a group of Missourians to Latter-day Saints.

Dec 16, 1833

Joseph Smith reveals "it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another."


The 1835 D&C says "it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another."


Wilford Woodruff lists Lydia Walker as a member of the Eagle Creek Branch.

Apr 9, 1836

Joseph Smith discusses slavery in a letter to Oliver Cowdery.

Oct 27, 1838

Lilburn Boggs directs John B. Clark to carry out the extermination order.


Times and Seasons gives a description of Missourian violence against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1833.

Jan 26, 1844 - Feb 7, 1844

Joseph Smith lists his views on emancipation in his campaign pamphlet.

1845 - 1854

List of enslaved individuals in Brigham's papers.

May 11, 1846

James K. Polk explains why he wishes to declare war on Mexico.

May 13, 1846

The United States declares war against Mexico.


Florida law describing punishment for unlawful assemblies.


Congressional act abolishing slavery in U.S. territories.


Congressional act creating Utah Territory.


Florida laws circumscribed ownership of certain property by slaves.

1847 - 1853

Wilford Woodruff records entering the Salt Lake Valley.


Pioneer emigration records list Green Flake.


Entry for Oscar (Smith) Crosby in pioneer company records describes him as "colored."

Apr 16, 1847

Heber C. Kimball notes Hark Lay, Oscar Crosby, and Green Flake in his pioneer company.


South Carolina laws regulate the assembling of both enslaved and free African Americans.


List of John Bankhead's family in a wagon company roster includes 11 "servants" (slaves).


List of Francis McKown's family in a wagon company roster includes 2 slaves.


Pioneer company records include Hark Lay (Wales).


South Carolina forbids teaching slaves to read.

Feb 2, 1848

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican-American War.

Feb 26, 1848

An 1848 Alabama law requires masters to provide adequate food and clothing for slaves.

Mar 6, 1848

Alabama act prohibits slaves from traveling independently of their masters.

Jun 1848

List of members of John Brown's pioneer company of 10.

1849 - 1881

Charles C. Rich's papers include bond relating to a man named Richard.


Virginia law forbids interracial marriages.

Jul 19, 1849

Brigham says that Utahans are averse to slavery.

Nov 27, 1849

Wilford Woodruff writes a letter to Thomas L. Kane about slavery.


The United States Slave Schedule lists Agnes Flake's slaves in Utah.


List of slaves in Weber county in the 1850 census, shows "none" (original and copy).


List of slaves in Tooele in the Official 1850 census, lists "none."


Official Davis County 1850 Census Schedule 2 lists the number of slaves as "none."


The 1850 census (official) lists of slaves in Iron County.


Official 1850 census schedule 2 lists the number of slaves in Salt Lake County.


The draft 1850 census lists slaves in Salt Lake County and Davis County.


John Burton is listed as a member of Joseph Robinson's household in the 1850 census.


The official 1850 US Census includes an entry for Green Flake.


List of slaves in the draft 1850 census for Utah Green River Precinct, shows "none."


San Pete County's official 1850 census shows no slaves living in the county (original and copy).


The 1850 US Census lists slaves listed in Utah County (draft and official).

Jan 9, 1850

Henry Clay's introduces the resolution which began the Compromise of 1850.

Jul 3, 1850

John M. Bernhisel reports to Brigham on events in Washington, D.C.

Dec 15, 1850

Orson Hyde explains Utah servitude laws.


Brigham Young advises the residents of Iron County to buy and raise Indian children.


William Crosby summarizes the Green Flake episode.

Mar 12, 1851

Brigham Young tells William Crosby that he does not support slave trading in Utah and comments on Green Flake.

Jun 1, 1851

Wilford Woodruff records Brigham condemning slavery but maintaining that Black people must be servants.

Jan 1, 1852

Utah Territorial Legislature legalizes slavery in the territory.


Brigham Young addresses Native American slavery in an address to the Utah Territorial Legislature.

Jan 5, 1852

Brigham explains slave law in Utah.

Jan 5, 1852

Brigham expresses his views on slavery in the margins of the document.

Jan 11, 1852

Brigham Young explains how Sally Kahpeputz Young came into his household.

Jan 23, 1852

Brigham gives reasons for Black "service" laws.

Jan 23, 1852

Brigham explains his support for servitude.

Jan 23, 1852

Brigham expresses opposition to slave abuse and support for Black service.

Jan 23, 1852

Brigham explains why he disapproves of American slavery but says life is better for them than others in Europe.

Jan 27, 1852

Transcription of Orson Pratt's antislavery speech.

Feb 5, 1852

Brigham explains his support for slavery.

Feb 5, 1852

Brigham speaks on the need to treat "the seed of Cain" well as servants.

Jun 13, 1852

Spanish Fork Ward records include rebaptism records for Marinda Redd and Amy.

Dec 25, 1852

Brigham defends servitude in Utah and advocates for a type of segregation to create unity.

Jul 21, 1854

Amasa Lyman, writing for Agnes Flake, asks for Green Flake to be returned.

Aug 19, 1854

Brigham comments on Green Flake's health.

Nov 4, 1854

Record of Amy's death.

May 10, 1855

In his diary, Charles C. Rich says he has a "negro."

Nov 2, 1855

David Lewis' probate record lists 2 Native American boys and 3 people of color.


Entry in Brigham's journal for Williams Camp's case.

Mar 23, 1856

Brigham says to "keep blacks out."

Mar 23, 1856

Brigham considers "children of Ham" to be destined for "perpetual slavery."

Jun 16, 1856 - Jun 18, 1856

Elias Smith records his involvement in the Williams Camp court case.

Jun 16, 1856

Edwin D. Woolley charges Williams Camp with kidnapping Dan (an African American).

Jul 10, 1856

Probate registration of Daniel Camp by Williams Camp.

Jul 10, 1856

Probate registration for Shepherd by Diannah Camp.

Jul 10, 1856

William Taylor Dennis affidavit for Williams Camp's ownership of Shepherd.

Jul 10, 1856

Bill of sale documents transfer of a slave from Abraham O. Smoot to Thomas S. Williams.

Jul 10, 1856

Probate registry for Jerry, Caroline, and Tampian by Duritha Lewis.

Jul 10, 1856

Probate registration for Shepherd by Williams Camp.


Mississippi's 1857 codes on slave criminal offenses.

Jan 8, 1857

John Brown lists a servant as one of his assets.

Jan 8, 1857

In a consecration deed, William Taylor Dennis lists an "African Servant."

Apr 12, 1857

Entry for Betty Brown's rebaptism in the Lehi Ward's records indicates that she is "colored".

Apr 12, 1857

Lehi Ward records include baptismal record for Nancy Lines Dennis.

Aug 9, 1857

Brigham includes "n---er stealing" among the "treasonous" actions of which other Americans could be accused.


John Taylor disparages abolitionists and underground railroad.


Thomas Cobb says that there are not laws against raping an enslaved woman in the United States.


John Taylor disparages abolitionism and "n---er stealing."

Jan 24, 1858

Ezra T. Benson holds that the Saints will not involve themselves in freeing Black people from enslavement.


Nelson Winch Green reports Smith's recollections of the existence of enslavement of indigenous peoples in Utah.


In a history of Indiana, John B. Dillon lists Indiana Territory slave laws.

Aug 10, 1859

Deseret News provides summary of court case A. B. Miller v. Thomas S. Williams over the ownership of two slaves.

Aug 24, 1859

Deseret News provides summary of Miller v. Williams as of August, 24, 1859.


The 1860 Census includes entry for Marinda Redd.


Martha Ann Morris is listed in Green Flake's household in the 1860 census.

Jan 3, 1860

Brigham offers to buy enslaved Black man in order to free him.

Jun 1, 1860

1860 US census schedule 2 for Salt Lake County includes enslaved individuals.

Jun 13, 1860

US 1860 census schedule 2 for Davis County includes enslaved individuals.

Aug 14, 1860

The 1860 census includes Green Flake's family.

Aug 30, 1860

US 1860 Census includes entry for Nancy Lines Dennis.

Dec 24, 1860

South Carolina declares secession.

Dec 26, 1860

Brigham criticizes the effect of slavery on soil.

Dec 31, 1860

Brigham tells Horace Greeley that slavery is "of divine institution" and will persist until the curse of Ham is removed.


The Parowan Ward's tithing records include John Burton.

Jul 28, 1861

Brigham rejects abolitionists in the North and the Southern slaveholders alike.

Feb 19, 1862

Brigham rejects both abolitionists and "negro-drivers."

Jan 1, 1863

Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.

Mar 8, 1863

Brigham says "whites will be cursed" for their "abuse" of Black people "unless they repent."

Oct 6, 1863

Brigham attributes civil war to those who "wish to raise their negroes" while others "wish to. . . almost worship them."

Jan 18, 1865

John Taylor leaves the question of liberation of Black people due to a "higher law" to other parties.

Feb 1, 1865

Thirteenth amendment to the US Constitution abolishes slavery.

Aug 10, 1865

Terms of surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Oct 8, 1865

George A. Smith notes that some wrongly think the Civil War was caused by "the almighty negro."

Jan 19, 1866

1852 Utah territorial act concerning Native American slavery.

Aug 20, 1866

Andrew Johnson's proclamation of the end of hostilities with the South.


Catherine Waite cites Brigham's quote against abolitionism.

Jul 4, 1874

Brigham expresses that it is "the lot" of Black people to be servants.

Jun 12, 1881

Alexander Doniphan describes the Mormon-Missouri War.

Apr 1888

Henry Carroll recalls "Black" Pete's activities in Kirtland.

Feb 14, 1894

William J. Flake's submission for the Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia.

May 31, 1897

Salt Lake Tribune identifies Green Flake as a "slave."

Jul 20, 1897

Salt Lake Tribune gives a description of Green Flake, "the only colored survivor of the band of '47," as a "vigorous, broad-shouldered, good-natured, bright old gentleman."

Mar 25, 1899

Broad Ax reports on Alex Bankhead and Marinda Redd's time as slaves and Mormons in Utah.

Feb 4, 1901

United States Census Bureau bulletin on Utah censuses 1850-1900 records State population by decade.

Jan 23, 1902

The Spanish Fork Press announces Alex Bankhead's death.

Oct 22, 1903

The Deseret News announces Green Flake's death in 1903.

Oct 23, 1903

The Salt Lake Tribune announces Green Flake's death.


Biographical sketch of Elijah Able's life provided by Andrew Jenson in his Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia.


Record of Nancy Dennis' burial in Spanish Ford indicating that she was a "Negro".


Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia biography of Green Flake.


Sanpete County records include transcription of the indenture of a Native American boy.

Mar 1944

Elder Feramorz Y. Fox concludes that members kept their property after consecrating it in the 1850s.


Historian Isaac Mendelsohn states that slavery existed in the ancient Near East.


Hosea Stout describes a court case about slavery.


Leonard J. Arrington describes the Church's Public Works Department that employed people for building the Salt Lake Temple and other structures.


Jacob Hamblin records instances of Native American slavery.

Oct 1987

Dennis N. Valdes argues that slavery in Mexico gradually declined.

Apr 1995

Sondra Jones describes the Indian slave trade in Utah before 1852.


Sondra Jones describes Native American enslavement in Utah.


National Humanities Center collection of Works Progress Administration (WPA) accounts of formerly enslaved people.


Christopher Rich argues that Utah's servitude law was intended to end slavery.


Amos 2:6 condemns sellings others into slavery for profit.


In a revelation, Joseph Smith said that no one should be in bondage to another.


Exodus 22:1-3 says that a man can be sold to pay for stolen property.


Deuteronomy 21:10-14 says that an Israelite cannot enslave a woman he captured in war and married.


Captain Moroni finds joy in keeping his people out of slavery.


Limhi says it is better to be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the Lamanites.


Joseph Smith prophesies that slaves will rise up against their masters.


Nephi interacts with Zoram (a servant of Laban).


Genesis 24 describes Abraham's slave searching for a wife for Isaac.


Noah says Canaan will serve his brothers.


Leviticus 25:39-55 describes slave laws and laws redeeming slaves.


Deuteronomy 15: 12-18 gives codes for freeing slaves or making them a permanent member of the household.


Genesis 37 says that Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt.


Exodus 23:12 says that slaves must rest on the Sabbath.


The king of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis says his people will be slaves to the Nephites.


Exodus 20:10 says that slaves must honor the Sabbath.


Giddianhi invites the Nephites to become Gadianton Robbers.


LDS proclamation on government says that it is not right to interfere with "bond-servants."


Leah and Rachel give their slaves to Jacob as concubines.


Paul calls himself a servant (slave) of Jesus.


Deuteronomy 23:15-16 says that a person should not return a slave who escapes to them.


Deuteronomy 5:14-15 says that slaves should not work on the Sabbath.


Exodus 21 lists slave laws for the Israelites.


Exodus 12:44 says that slaves are to celebrate Passover.


Jesus states that no one can serve two masters.


Jeremiah 34:8-22 condemns Judahites who promised to free slaves but did not do so.

Mar 21, 2013

In a debate about Native American servitude in Utah, Orson Pratt voices opposition.

Dec 1, 2013

Gospel Topics Essay "Race and the Priesthood" recognizes slavery was legal in Utah territory.


Heather Andrea Williams describes how enslavers maintained control of slaves.

Jun 1, 2021

"An act concerning Servants and Slaves” (1705) lays out Virginia colony slave codes.


Webster's 1828 dictionary provides definitions for servitude.


Webster's 1828 dictionary provides a definition of slave.


Webster's 1828 dictionary provides a definition for "servant."


Webster's 1828 dictionary defines slavery.


Amy Tanner Thiriot describes the tithings and consecration documents of Latter-day Saint slave owners.


Amy Tanner Thiriot describes the numbers of slaves in the Utah territory.


Amy Tanner Thiriot notes the lack of slave registrations in Utah.


Amy Tanner Thiriot provides an extensive documentary and genealogical history of slavery in Utah.


Merriam-Webster provides a definition of miscegenation.


Historian Amy Tanner Thiriot summarizes how Green Flake became enslaved to Brigham Young.


Amy Thiriot's biography of Martha Morris.

Sep 20, 2022

Library of Congress gives description of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago and the United States' territorial gains.


Church History Topic essay provides overview of the Mormon-Missouri War of 1838.


Seth Richardson describes Mesopotamian slavery.


Utah State Courts website explains probate.


Joseph Smith prophesies that violence will begin in South Carolina related to the slave question.


Church History Department provides biography of Green Flake.


Missouri Digital Archive provides explanation of the Missouri Mormon War.


Library of Congress website provides timeline of the American Civil War.


Definition of οἰκέτης in Strong's Concordance.


Century of Black Mormons project provides biographical sketch of Martha Ann Morris.


Damian A. Pagras notes that slavery differs across time and cultures.


Comparison of draft final versions of "An Act in Relation to Service."


Historian Noel Lenski describes Roman slavery.


Strong's Greek Concordance provides a definition for "δουλεύω".


Strong's Greek Concordance defines δοῦλος (including a list of references from the NT).


Church History Topic essay gives brief history of Indian slavery in Utah.


Church History Topic on slavery and abolition describes historical LDS attitudes towards slavery.


Zev Farber describes slavery in the Old Testament.