Franklin S. Richards

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Franklin S. Richards
Photo of Franklin S. Richards
Member of the Council of Fifty of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
April 10, 1880 (1880-04-10) – September 4, 1934 (1934-09-04)
Called by John Taylor
Personal details
Born Franklin Snyder Richards
(1849-06-20)June 20, 1849
Salt Lake City, Alta California Territory, Republic of Mexico
Died September 4, 1934(1934-09-04) (aged 85)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37″N 111°51′29″W / 40.777°N 111.858°W / 40.777; -111.858 (Salt Lake City Cemetery)

Franklin Snyder Richards (June 20, 1849 – September 4, 1934)[1] was the general counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in the late 19th century and early 20th century. He was closely connected with the defense against charges of polygamy of many leading LDS Church figures.


Richards was born in Salt Lake City in 1849. He was the son of Franklin D. Richards, one of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at that time, and Jane Snyder. From 1866 to 1868 Richards was a school teacher in Salt Lake City. In 1868 he married Emily S. Tanner.

In 1869 Richards moved to Ogden, Utah. He became the clerk of the probate court there and undertook the study of law. Richards passed the bar in 1874. In 1877 he went to Great Britain as a missionary for the LDS Church. He was then retained by the LDS Church in 1879 to represent its interests in the settling of Brigham Young's estate. Richards remained the general counsel for the LDS Church until his death in 1934.

In 1889 Richards sought to convince President Benjamin Harrison and James G. Blaine to appoint non-vindictive officers in Utah Territory.[2] Richards formed a law firm with Rufus K. Williams, who had been chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, in 1879. They served as the primary legal counsel seeking to prevent the denial of the franchise to the women of the Utah Territory in 1880.

Richards' wife, Emily S. Richards, was one of the main figures behind the founding of the Utah Women's Suffrage Association in 1889.[3]

Richards was a member of the 1882 Utah State Constitutional Convention and was one of the delegates sent to seek the approval of the State Constitution in Washington, D.C. In 1884 Richards was elected to the Council (roughly equivalent to a State Senate) of the Utah Territorial Legislature, for the district encompassing Weber Count and Box Elder County. Richards replaced Lorenzo Snow who had served in this specific sea since 1854. Richards only served one term in this position.[4] Richards was a member of the 1895 Utah State Constitutional Convention.[5]

Among other cases, Richards was the legal counsel for Lorenzo Snow in his case before the United States Supreme Court[6] in which a complex scheme was overturned which would have given men essentially life sentences for unlawful cohabitation under the Edmunds Act, based on ingenious definitions of separate incidents of breaking the law.

At various times Richards served as city attorney for both Ogden and Salt Lake City. He was also the prosecuting attorney for Weber County, Utah and served on the Legislative Council of Utah.

Richards was a delegate at the 1895 Utah State Constitutional Convention, where he was one of the main advocates for women's suffrage.

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society has an award named after Richards.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Driggs 2000
  2. ^ Winder, Michael K., Presidents and Prophets. (American Fork: Covenant Communications, 2007) p. 167-168.
  3. ^ White, Jean Bickmore (1994), "Women's Suffrage in Utah", in Powell, Allan Kent, Utah History Encyclopedia, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0-87480-425-6, OCLC 30473917 
  4. ^ Utah State Archives roster of the territorial legislature
  5. ^ Noble Warrum. Utah Since Statehood, historical and biographical (Chicago: S. J. Clark, 1919) Vol. 1, p. 96
  6. ^ Ex Parte Snow 120 U.S. 274 (1887)