Thurlow Weed

08 Thurlow_Weed_-_Brady-Handy

We are working on the show that tells the story of securing a printer for the Book of Mormon. This is one of the things we learned.

Thurlow Weed

Thurlow Weed was born in 1797 the son of farmers in Greene County New York. Though just a lad he served in the war of 1812 rising to the rank of quartermaster sergeant. Later he worked his way up the ranks in the newspaper business. Through that work he became interested in politics and was elected to the New York state assembly when he was only 27. There he served for many years. Through the skillful use of the press and a shrewd understanding of the political machine he became an indomitable force in New York politics—at one time becoming the absolute boss of the Whig party in New York. He was considered a master organizer maintaining strict control of the Whig party in New York even as it came apart throughout the rest of the Union. At one time his newspaper had the largest circulation of any political newspaper in America. Though a man of strong political ideals, he was personable and popular. Among other things, he opposed slavery.

In 1840 he backed William Henry Harrison for President of the United States. Harrison won, but died shortly thereafter. He later backed General Zachary Taylor for President in 1848, but again Taylor died in office.  Then came the presidential campaign of 1860 and Weed backed an old friend from New York whose election seemed a sure thing—William H. Seward. But the nomination and the presidency went to Lincoln. Weed threw all his support behind Lincoln and was a trusted envoy until he disagreed with the President over the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862. He eventually fell from favor with his party and retired from politics. He died in New York City in relative obscurity, blind and suffering from chronic vertigo, in 1882. How many people today remember Thurlow Weed and honor his memory? I don’t know.

In July and August of 1829 Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris were looking for someone willing and able to undertake a huge printing project–5000 copies of a 588 page book bound in leather—the Book of Mormon. Before they ever signed a contract with 23 year-old Egbert B. Grandin, they had approached another printer, much more skilled and experienced than Grandin—from the area of Rochester, New York. They came to him twice asking for his help. This master printer ridiculed both the man and the book. “I thought [Joseph Smith]… a very shallow imposter” he later said, “and therefore declined to become a publisher, thus depriving myself of whatever notoriety might have been achieved by having my name imprinted upon the title page of the first Mormon bible.”

That printer who mocked the notoriety and eternal honor of first printing the Book of Mormon was none other than Thurlow Weed.