The Life of J. Reuben Clark Jr., by W. Cleon Skousen

The Life of J. Reuben Clark, Jr. (September 1, 1992) Delivered at the Grantsville High School, Grantsville, Utah

Those Who Don’t Like the Constitution

LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer states J. Reuben Clark was a “giant” among prophets

There was one group of people that never liked it. They didn’t like the Constitution, they didn’t like the turmoil, they didn’t like this kind of a republic. You see, this bubbling and burbling and so forth, and everybody putting in their two bits worth, etc. — that produced Washingtons, that produced Jeffersons, John Adams.

I mean, if you’d been at the Constitutional Convention, it wasn’t a nice, sweet, peaceful convention. Those great men with strong opinion hammered and hammered. But when they got through, God says, “I established this Constitution by the hands of wise men that I raised up for this very purpose. Anything that’s more or less that this is evil.” — section 98 and section 101. It all came out of this burbling and gurgling. You got to have fun with it, you’ve got to get used to it.

But these people, who are very rich and very powerful, have always hated it. The reason they hate it is because they operate big industries, where they speak and things happen, where there’s a certain amount of order. If there isn’t, they can change it, just like that.

They said, “Now that’s the way our society should be, that’s the way government should be. We’ve got to change this thing so we’ve got the smartest people in charge, and compel these stupid masses to do what’s good for them.”

In 1908, there was a congregation of these very wealthy people, they represented the greatest powers in the railroad industry, in the oil industry, in the banking industry, in the commercial industry. They were congregated together in the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace. They tried to decide how you could change the whole American system, peacefully if possible, but, if necessary, do it with war.

Using War for a Collectivization of Power

They worked on that for a year. In time of war, the people will tolerate a collectivization of control: mandate, and people do what they’re told to do. They said, “That should be set up so that it’s the permanent pattern of our society.”

They decided that they’d have to do it through war, “You got to get a war, get them in that mood, where they will tolerate the centralized, dictatorial mandate and authority, and then have another war, if necessary, until it becomes a pattern.” That’s what those men decided to do.

The next question was, “How would we get control of the government under those circumstances, and then maintain it?” The answer was, you’ve got to control the State Department and the Presidency. That’s what they agreed upon.

We have the minutes of those meetings. The man who secured them, almost accidentally, a good friend of mine, was working for one of the Congressional Committees. They got the minutes of 1908, when it was resolved that, “We’re going to use war from now on until we get this nation under control.” So, they’ve got to get their own man for President, and they’ve got to have him appoint a Secretary of State of their vintage or mentality.

Remember this is the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, plotting war! Any of you heard of this before? Yes, some of you have. I didn’t get it in school. I had to dig it out years later when I found that something had gone wrong.

Woodrow Wilson’s Rise to Power

The man they picked out to be their president, to run in the other party — the Republicans were in power — was a man by the name of Woodrow Wilson. He was the head of the department of political science at Princeton. He’d been very critical of the Constitution for a variety of reasons. He liked the British system better.

So they thought, “There’s somebody we could probably mold and weave into what we need.” So they started working on him, and they got him to be governor of New Jersey. They elected him, and this is the book that tells how they did it, how they put the money in, and they used money to manipulate and massage the people of New Jersey until this professor was elected the governor of New Jersey.

Then they started manipulating Woodrow Wilson to agree to this different approach, “Maybe we can get back closer to the British system. Certainly we’ll change the Constitution.”

Right in the middle of that, listen to what Woodrow Wilson says, “Since I’ve entered politics, I’ve chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men the United States in the field in commerce and manufacture are afraid of something. They know that there is a power, somewhere, so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”

That’s Woodrow Wilson. He doesn’t know it, but they’re the people that have now taken him in tow. J. P. Morgan and the Rockefellers and the Carnegie money is going in behind him, and getting him set to be President, on condition that he will go for a Federal Reserve system, that will eventually get rid of gold and silver as a money system, establish a credit system with no bottom to it: “Just use the taxing power of the people as a basis for money in the future. It’s necessary that we do get ourselves involved in the affairs of the world, so we can guide the world toward a better structure. It will probably have to be through war.”

That’s an interesting phenomenon, that this book tells all about, Tragedy and Hope. This man believed in this group. He apologizes for them over and over again. He said, “Maybe they were a little clumsy, but their ultimate goal was a good one.” Can’t believe it.

Then he documents all the things that I later put in a book called The Naked Capitalist, that went to a million copies, based on his book, telling people what’s really been going on. For a while it was widely read, but not so much anymore. People have kind of lost touch with who’s running things. It’s the same people.

So we’ve got ourselves a new President, and we got the Federal Reserve. Wasn’t very long before, as you know, we got rid of gold, everybody had to turn it in. All the gold clauses and contracts were wiped out by the Supreme Court. J. Reuben Clark knew all this was unconstitutional — the whole fabric was unconstitutional.

J. Reuben Clark Was Trapped

But meanwhile, he had been trapped just like Woodrow Wilson had. It all came about in 1916, when a man — who was one of the wealthiest men, one of the top men in the country, whose name was Willard Strait, he was part of the J. P. Morgan people — came to him and asked if he wouldn’t like to have a junior partner. To have Mr. Strait, you know, as your partner, for a boy from Grantsville, way out in Utah, I mean, he’s gone clear up on the top level.

Well,” he said, “where would we have our office?”

Oh, in New York.”

Where in New York?”

Well, we have a skyscraper there, and we’ll be on the lower floor. Everything above you will be our client.”

Just one client?”

Yes, just one client.”

What’s it called?”

The American International Corporation, the first international conglomerate of industrial power that was ever organized in the United States.”

What are we going to do?”

Well, we’re going to use our money that all our people have, and we’re going to start buying up the industries and get things kind of organized together.”

What J. Reuben Clark didn’t know, they were going to have a war within about eighteen months, and they wanted to all of the copper and the steel and the boats and the railroads and everything to make the money from it. Clever. American International Corporation, and guess who was its attorney? J. Reuben Clark.

At first it seemed great, because they were buying up these great industries in Central America, the big fruit companies, all the boats they could get their hands on, the wharfs, steel, copper — I have them all listed here.

At the head of this international association, listen to who was on their board: Stone of the Webster Engineering Company, Percy Rockefeller of Standard Oil, J. Ogden of the Armor Company, Charles Kaufman of General Electric, James Hill of the Great Northern Railway, Oliver Kahn of Kunelob and Company, Robert Lovell of the Union Pacific, and so it goes on. I mean, you’re talking with the richest, the most powerful, and the strongest. He’s buying up millions and millions of dollar’s worth in all these companies.

So in 1916, Woodrow Wilson was elected on the basis that he would keep us out of the war. After he was inaugurated, we were in the war within six weeks. It’s all in this book. At that time, I was about five years old. I was getting on the scene now, gradually here, so I could watch what J. Reuben was doing.

J. Reuben Clark Awakens To What is Going On

But anyway, J. Reuben Clark didn’t awake to what was happening until about 1923. He began to fuss at them, and make their lives so miserable, as he saw what they were doing. One time, he considered dishonestly, they fired him. 1923.

Guess what he did? He came back on Constitution Day and spoke in the Tabernacle about the great United States Constitution. “I’ll tell you,” he said, “it is in jeopardy. I see forces rising all around us today that have as their goal and objective, the destruction of the very thing that made the United States the greatest nation in the world!”

Well, I’m not sure they paid much attention to him. He quotes from his 1923 speech the rest of his life. I finally got a copy of it. It’s great. He took the whole strength, the golden threads of the Constitution, to stress to the people here in Utah what a great responsibility they had to preserve that institution.

Already the foundations are being very badly eroded. So the State Department called him back as Assistant Secretary of State. He was puzzled about just what he should be doing. In Utah we wanted him to run as Senator. Someone was talking about putting him on the Supreme Court. By this time he had such a tremendous reputation he could almost named what he would have liked to run for. In this state, he would have been supported wholeheartedly, and it didn’t work out.

Instead of that, he became ambassador to Mexico. He did a great job down there. He taught the Mexican people to trust him, and to love him. He did a lot to help our Mormon colonies in Mexico during that difficult period where I went to school a couple of years.

Called to be an Apostle

Then in 1933, right in the midst of his getting all of this thing straightened out for Mexico, here comes a letter from the First Presidency calling him to be a counselor to Heber J. Grant. You’ve got to know a little bit about the background of J. Reuben Clark at that time as far as the church was concerned, to appreciate what a shock this was.

He hadn’t been where he could be active in the church for 20 to 25 years. He’d never been a Bishop, never been a Stake President. He paid his tithing, but there wasn’t any church, very often, to go to. In Washington you could go to a little Sunday evening affair that Senator Smoot held, but J. Reuben didn’t get along with Senator Smoot, so that was kind of an ordeal.

And anyway, he worked seven days a week. He was a workaholic. He afterwards said, “I broke the Sabbath for years! The Lord blessed me in spite of it, but certainly not because of it. You people obey the Sabbath day!” My close associate while I was in law school, in fact my mentor, was Ernest Wilkinson. He did the same thing because J. Reuben Clark did it, he worked all day Sunday. He’d take time out for church, but then he was right back at it. He said the same thing, “I broke the Sabbath day trying to become a great lawyer. I paid a price for it. You obey the Sabbath day.” Isn’t that kind of interesting?

So J. Reuben Clark — and I must hurry now just to give you a little final closing scene here. J. Reuben Clark was very disturbed that he would be called to the First Presidency of the Church. He found himself telling Bishops and Stake Presidents how to run their Stakes and their Wards.

Finally he said — and this is an apocryphal story, although it’s hinted at in Michael Quinn’s This is J. Reuben Clark: the Church Years, but I have this apocryphal story in this form, that I picked up from people who claimed they were close to the scene.

Why the Calling Came

J. Reuben Clark said to President Grant, “Don’t you make these choices by inspiration?”

President Grant said, “Yes, we do.”

J. Reuben Clark said, “I can understand why a lawyer of international prominence and so forth, like myself, may add to the prestige of the church. But I don’t know what I an doing here. I am doing things that I never was trained to do. I’m instructing people. I feel very inadequate.”

Well, according to the story that I was told, President Grant said, “That’s not why you were chosen as a counselor.”

Well, why was I chosen?”

You were chosen because the Constitution of the United States is in jeopardy. The church needs to be aroused, the country needs to be aroused, and we’ve got to start training our people to defend that Constitution before it’s shredded and lost.”

Oh, really?!”

You are the best Constitutionalist in the church.”

All of the sudden you hear him quoting his 1923 speech in Conference. You see, we were a Democratic state, 62 percent Democrats. They began to call that Republican politics in Conference. Oh, he got the Dickens! By the time I got here to Utah, sometime later, J. Reuben Clark was one of the most unpopular people in this state.

Politics” in Church

They didn’t mind him talking on the gospel, but any time he’d start talking on the Constitution, “that terrible Republican instrument!” Isn’t that something? All through California schools, I was told the Constitution was obsolete. Here’s this man standing up, which everybody knows he’s a Republican, defending the Constitution, and “that’s politics in church.”

President Grant would try to assure the people that we wanted the Saints to hear this. It was not popular. He never did become a popular speaker. Years later when I was here, he spoke at the University of Utah. Here is a member of the First Presidency, and he was a counselor to three Presidents over a period of 28 years. We’ve never had another human being in this church serve as a counselor to Presidents of the church longer than J. Reuben Clark.

So he was so well known, they decided to have him speak at the University of Utah. He stood up before that audience, and they booed him, a member of the First Presidency. Majority of the audience LDS. They booed him. He stood there, by this time he was pretty heavy-set, you know, and he smiled at them.

He said, “Well, I don’t mind you calling me old-fashioned, because I am.” Yeeaahh! “I don’t even mind you calling me antediluvian (which is before the flood!)” Huurraay!! “But,” he said, ” I am a little sensitive about you calling me pre-historic!”

The students all laughed, and immediately they sat back to listen. I’ve got a copy of that speech, and it’s just great. Of course the students had been trained not to believe those things anymore. But he sowed the seeds.

Our Constitution Has Been Shredded

Already the Lord was beginning to build his kingdom preparatory to survive the great destructive forces of Constitutional government. You see, we didn’t realize how badly shredded the Constitution had become. We didn’t realize the whole concept of separation of powers had been shredded. We had Congress delegating to the President the authority to make administrative law.

Most of our laws were not coming out of Congress as required by Article 1 Section 1 of the Constitution, they were coming out of bureau agencies at administrative law. I studied it in school, how it worked. The next thing you knew, if you didn’t like what happened, where’s your appeal? You didn’t really have an appeal, because Congress approved it. They were delegating their legislative authority, and you were having laws that the Congress had never examined, scrutinized or debated. We were covered with them.

So that’s how far we had gone. We had lost our money system based on gold and silver, that was gone. We had lost control of the Supreme Court, beginning with the Butler Case, 1936. The Congress could pass anything that they considered for the welfare of the American people. It was no longer general welfare, it was now private welfare: farmers, schools, etc.

J. Reuben Clark was an educator at heart. He felt the schools were getting a bad deal, and they would be hurt in the process. He tried to defend the importance of maintaining the integrity of our schools. That was interesting. So many things were happening to our society, that from a Constitutional standpoint, we were very seriously at risk.

So this man from Florida that wrote this whole page of newspaper protest the other day, I just went down and checked off the items, “J. Reuben, did you say amen? Yes, he said amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.” You know: going on to four trillion dollars worth of debt, 62 percent of all your income taxes going to pay interest to banks on that debt. We give ourselves a trillion dollar budget, and then we overspend even that much. You know that we are way off balance.

The Butler Case, 1936

I want to say just this little bit about the Butler case. In 1936, the Supreme Court handed down a decision, and while it held against the appellant, it set forth the proposition that Congress can appropriate money and legislate for private welfare. The general welfare clause went right out the window.

The original idea was, if you tax all the people, then you can’t pass a law except for all the people. You can not pass a law that will favor this little group, and that little group. You can’t do that, because these are general taxes. States can handle those problems, the federal government can not. That was all wiped out, 1936, in the Butler case.

Our budget in 1936, in spite of World War I, and already numerous, expensive programs for agriculture, etc. that had been coming up; our budget was 8 billion dollars. We had gone to 800 billion dollars by about 1980. Now you know where it is, trillions. There’s no stop, they will not stop. You couldn’t stop that train, no matter who you elected right now. So, there’s a remedy. J. Reuben Clark knew what it was. I’m going to close now by sharing it with you.

J. Reuben Clark was a Great Man

But I just want to tell you how I learned to love that man, and have him stand up in the face of a very antagonistic, not altogether, but the majority of our people of our state did not like J. Reuben Clark. His biographies all admit that. He wasn’t appreciated until they had a symposium after he was dead, and decided he was great man. Who do I read telling that he was a great man? Some of those who fought him the worst when he was trying to help us.

But in those 28 years, he served three Presidents, and part of the time he was all alone. Brother Grant had a stroke and lived another five years, couldn’t hardly do anything. David O. McKay, the other counselor, he was very sickly and weak, until he became President of the church. Isn’t that interesting? All of the sudden, his health improved tremendously, so he did pretty good, and he just went on and on for a long time.

J. Reuben Clark, of course, died in 1961, but by that time, President McKay had already given us the great announcement of hope. Beginning in 1950, he said, “God is now pouring out into the families of those that he has treasured up from the beginning, the youth that can take it in the days that lie ahead. You’re getting some of the choicest spirits out of heaven.” He announced that about 1950.

We Live in an Exciting New Era

By 1960, he said, “Now I can tell you the new era has begun for this great kingdom. We’ll began to become an influence for good, much more impressive and much more productive than in the past.” 1960. You see, we had worked thirty years to get ten thousand converts in Latin America. Thirty years to get ten thousand. We got the next ten thousand in two years. We got the next ten thousand in one year. Now we get ten thousand every few months.

This is a new era, and you’re in it. All of the buildings that began. During the last ten years of David O. McKay’s life, he felt so helpless. He asked me to do an errand for him one day, and I came in and found that he couldn’t even stand up. He had a couple of strokes. Here were needles and oxygen tanks, and one thing and another. He could see, as I looked around his office, the amazement in my eyes.

He said, “Don’t feel sorry for me, Brother Skousen. Nobody expects me to do anything. All I have to do is stay close to the Lord and make the decisions.” Which he did, and we doubled the membership of the church in the next ten years, when he was an invalid. We doubled the number of temples, I tell you, we just went forward. So when these prophets become very elderly, indisposed, the work goes on, magnificently.

In his day, J. Reuben Clark did that. Now President Hinckley and President Monson carry it on. Oh, what great leaders they are. I love them. Great leaders.

So I come to my conclusion, and it’s J. Reuben Clark’s conclusion. He could see that the powers that existed were so well entrenched, so voluminous, had such a grip on the media, both the parties, the money, that that was going to have to run its course, like an express train going hell-bent to destruction.

Track Two

But the Lord isn’t going to allow this government to be destroyed. Although administrations may destroy themselves, systems may destroy themselves, this country’s going to survive. J. Reuben Clark knew how it would survive: build track two. Don’t get in front of that train on track one, it will just run over you. You quietly build track two.

Sometimes people say, “Dr. Skousen, you spent your whole life studying these things that have gone wrong, with the attack on the Constitution and everything. Why are you so optimistic?”

I say to them, “I read the book, and in the end, we win.” Now, it’s on track two that we win. J. Reuben Clark never lost confidence in having a generation finally become alert, and finally doing its homework, and getting into a position where they would do what God and the Founding Fathers intended that we should have been doing all the time.

So, I bless his memory. I bless his integrity. I bless his tenacity. I’m so grateful for that man. He’s been my inspiration, I’ve learned to love him. I knew him, but not well. I received counsel from him two or three times. One of my books became a national best seller, and he gave me a little bit of counsel about what God was doing, and what to expect, and I was very grateful for that.

His 1937 Prophecy

Oh, what vision, what insight he had. So I close now. On other occasions, you’ll tell more about him. I’ve only touched the highlights. Because during the 28 years that he served in the kingdom, he filled several volumes with teachings and instructions and insights and warnings. You will have other speakers, I’m sure, come and analyze various phases of that in detail, so that you become authorities on the beliefs of J. Reuben Clark, which are identical with the original Founding Fathers.

In the beginning, he said he made some mistakes. But he learned from experience. In the end, when he finally became a counselor to the First Presidency, he told the saints what to expect. I should have told you that in 1937 he gave one of his most famous speeches. I consider 1923, 1937, and 1952 among his greatest talks.

In 1937 he said, “The power people are now planning another war for you. They have made this depression last many more years than it would have ordinarily lasted. They got stock down to 14 cents on a dollar. They just bought up everything at 14 cents on a dollar, and they’re now ready to make additional billions as they put you through another world war.

They’re going to have you pay for it. You’re going to be involved in it. You don’t think you’ll get involved, but they’ll say that for the peace of the world, you must come in, and you’ll feel so soft-hearted about it, you’ll come in. It will be just as big a mistake as World War I,” which I thought was just great when we went in, and I now know, could have been handled differently, and we could have saved ourselves a lot of problems.

So, he gave the prophecy. Then in 1941, after we were in the war, he said, “May I quote from my 1923 speech, and my 1937 speech.…” That’s what he did the rest of his life, quoting his former speeches, where he predicted what would happen, and it did. He truly was a prophet of God, counseling a prophet of God. I bless his memory in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

(The works of W. Cleon Skousen, a Folio Infobase published by Verity Software)


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