An Epistle of Orson Pratt
. . . At a General Conference of the Saints, convened in Great Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, on the 6th of April, 1856, I was, by a unanimous vote, appointed to the Presidency of these countries; and soon after received a "Letter of Instruction" from President Brigham Young, of which the following is an extract—
Great Salt Lake City,
April 10, 1856.
Beloved Brother Orson Pratt—You are hereby instructed and authorized to forthwith repair to Liverpool, England, and take charge of "The Latter-day Saints’ European Publishing, and Emigration Office" in said City, and the Presidency of the Latter-day Work in the British Isles, and in those regions of country whose missions have heretofore been more immediately under the supervision of said Presidency.
To assist you in said duties, you are counselled to call to your aid, Elder Ezra T. Benson, one of the Twelve Apostles, and recommended to select him as one of your counsellors, and his labors will be under your counsel and control. . . .
I pray God, the Eternal Father, to bless you in all duties with His Holy Spirit, to open your way to the accomplishment of every laudable undertaking, and to lead your mind in the way of all truth.
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In compliance with these instructions, I left Great Salt Lake City, on the 22nd of April, in company with Elder Benson and many other missionaries, designed for this country. Five of us arrived in Liverpool on the 13th of July . . . .
In accordance with the instructions of President Young, I have appointed Elder Ezra T. Benson, one of the Twelve Apostles, my first Counsellor. Elder Benson will travel much among you, and you will be greatly blessed through his ministry, as one of the faithful Apostles of the last days. He is, when filled with the Spirit, in the language of Scripture, "a son of thunder," and gives forth his testimony in the wisdom and power of God. May God Almighty bless him among the Saints in Great Britain, and make his voice to be heard like the sound of a mighty trumpet, awaking the Saints to life and energy; and among the wicked may it be like the voice of terrible thunder, arousing them from the death-slumber of ages. . . .
(Millennial Star, 23 Aug. 1856, 18:34:529–30).
. . . Brother Benson has a transcript of these prospectus [i.e. of properties donated to the Perpetual Emigration Fund for sale], and will start tomorrow to visit the Saints on this business, and to preach and comfort and exhort them to diligence.
The number of Saints in Great Britain and Ireland as per statistics, ending the 30th of June the present year, is 23193 which is nearly 7500 less than in 1850. . . .
The most of those having means have emigrated, leaving more than the usual proportion of poor. . . .
(Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 31 Jul. 1856, Church Archives, CR 1234/1, box 41, folder 3, reel 54.)
. . . Brother Benson has been traveling considerably among the conferences & endeavouring to dispose of some of the property donated in the Valley to the P.E.F. Co. but without success. He has just returned from London, and will start tomorrow morning for Scandinavia, with a view to visit the Saints, collect some money if possible, as well as to dispose of some of the property, and return before winter sets in. Bros T. O. Angell & John Kay will probably accompany him. . . .
(Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, abt. 16 Aug. 1856, Church Archives, CR 1234/1, box 41, folder 3, reel 54.)
. . . The reformation is moving on generally well received & heartily entered into wherever it is received at all. Yet there are some who think they cannot stand it — The good old Stereotyped way is the best ‘Mormonism as it used to be so good enough for me’ &c &c. The probability is from present appearances, that when the branches are all well trimmed and set in order, the Saints in these lands will not number more than about one half as many as when I was here in 1850. . . .
Brother Benson is laboring very diligently and with much zeal, preaching reformation among the various Conferences, and more I fear at times than is good for his lungs—he is with me now in comfortable health; has a series of apointments to preach and will start tomorrow morning to fill them. . . .
(Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 1 May 1857, Church Archives, CR 1234/1, box 41, folder 4, reel 54).