In 1933, in the midst of the depression, the United States government under President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted a series of sweeping measures popularly known as the New Deal. Although these programs were supported by most Latter-day Saints, Church leaders were concerned that some Saints could succumb to a “dole mentality.” President Grant sadly acknowledged:
“Many people have said, . . . ‘Well, others are getting some [government relief], why should not I get some of it?’
“I believe that there is a growing disposition among the people to try to get something from the government of the United States with little hope of ever paying it back. I think this is all wrong.” 4
4. In Conference Report, Oct. 1933, p. 5.
Prior to Elder Ballard’s birth, his mother had learned in a remarkable way that the baby she was carrying would become an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 This spiritual experience was confirmed when Elder Ballard was told in his patriarchal blessing that he would be one of the Lord’s special witnesses.
The death of President Smith and the reorganization of the First Presidency had left a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Many of the Apostles thought President Grant would call his good friend and faithful Church member Richard W. Young to that position. President Grant intended, with the consent of his two counselors, to call Richard Young to the apostleship. He began to reflect and pray about the vacancy. When the First Presidency met with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Grant reached into his pocket and pulled out a slip of paper with Richard W. Young’s name written on it, fully intending to present it for approval. Instead, he found himself saying that the Lord wanted Melvin J. Ballard, the Northwestern States mission president, to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Grant later testified that he learned from this experience that the Lord does indeed inspire the President of the Church. 3
3. See Francis M. Gibbons, Heber J. Grant: Man of Steel, Prophet of God (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979) pp. 174–76.
Following a pattern set by the Prophet Joseph Smith, President Taylor often wrote and published the inspiration given to him. One such revelation was dictated on 13 October 1882, just a few days after general conference. For two years the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had only ten members, and the vacancies had weighed heavily on the prophet’s mind. The revelation called George Teasdale and Heber J. Grant to the apostleship and physician Seymour B. Young to the First Council of the Seventy. It also called for increasing missionary work among various Indian tribes and for an increase in righteousness among priesthood bearers and all the Saints. 22
An experience of Elder Heber J. Grant a few months later gives some background to this revelation. Heber reported that for the first few months of his apostleship he felt that he was not qualified to be a special witness of the Savior. While traveling on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona in February 1883, helping establish the Church among the Indians, Elder Grant told his companions he wanted some time by himself and took a different route to their destination. He later recounted what happened as he rode:
“I seemed to see, and I seemed to hear, what to me is one of the most real things in all my life, I seemed to see a Council in heaven. I seemed to hear the words that were spoken. . . . The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles had not been able to agree on two men to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. . . . In this Council the Savior was present, my father [Jedediah M. Grant] was there, and the Prophet Joseph Smith was there. They discussed the question that a mistake had been made in not filling those two vacancies and that in all probability it would be another six months before the Quorum would be completed, and they discussed as to whom they wanted to occupy those positions, and decided that the way to remedy the mistake that had been made in not filling these vacancies was to send a revelation. It was given to me that the Prophet Joseph Smith and my father mentioned me and requested that I be called to that position. I sat there and wept for joy. . . .
“. . . From that day I have never been bothered, night or day, with the idea that I was not worthy to stand as an Apostle.” 23 In Conference Report, Apr. 1941, pp. 4–5.