BYU Studies Quarterly

BYU Studies Quarterly


Don L. Penrod


Mormon studies, Edwin Rushton, prophecy


The so-called white horse prophecy has been cited in news media as the source of a prophecy that Latter-day Saint elders will preserve the US Constitution as it hangs by a thread. It is commonly claimed that the white horse prophecy was written and made public among Latter-day Saints in the 1850s. However, Don Penrod shows in this article that it was written around 1900 by Edwin Rushton, a Mormon living in Utah.

Penrod shows that while Brigham Young (in 1854) and Eliza R. Snow (in 1870) reported that Joseph Smith once said that the US Constitution would hang by a thread, the white horse prophecy embellishes this statement and adds fantastic predictions that are unsubstantiated elsewhere. It claims, among other things, that the Latter-day Saints (the "white horse") will create a wealthy haven in the Rocky Mountains at a time of worldwide financial and political catastrophe, and that the Russian Czar will lead the nations of the world against Zion. The alleged prophecy is not a reliable record, says Penrod, and it has been officially repudiated by the LDS Church since 1918.

The article exhibits for the first time the two manuscripts that are the earliest known drafts of the white horse prophecy and examines many problems in the texts of these documents.