Rudger Clawson

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Rudger Clawson
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
March 17, 1921 (1921-03-17) – June 21, 1943 (1943-06-21)
PredecessorAnthon H. Lund
SuccessorGeorge Albert Smith
Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
November 23, 1918 (1918-11-23) – March 17, 1921 (1921-03-17)
ReasonAnthon H. Lund was serving as First Counselor in the First Presidency to Heber J. Grant
End reasonBecame President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
October 10, 1901 (1901-10-10) – June 21, 1943 (1943-06-21)
Second Counselor in the First Presidency
October 6, 1901 (1901-10-06) – October 10, 1901 (1901-10-10)
Called byLorenzo Snow
PredecessorJoseph F. Smith
SuccessorAnthon H. Lund
End reasonDissolution of First Presidency upon the death of Lorenzo Snow
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
October 10, 1898 (1898-10-10) – October 6, 1901 (1901-10-06)
Called byLorenzo Snow
End reasonCalled as Second Counselor in the First Presidency
LDS Church Apostle
October 10, 1898 (1898-10-10) – June 21, 1943 (1943-06-21)
Called byLorenzo Snow
ReasonDeath of Wilford Woodruff; reorganization of First Presidency
at end of term
Spencer W. Kimball and Ezra Taft Benson were ordained following the deaths of Clawson and Sylvester Q. Cannon
Personal details
BornRudger Clawson
(1857-03-12)March 12, 1857
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, United States
DiedJune 21, 1943(1943-06-21) (aged 86)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Cause of deathPneumonia
Resting placeSalt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37.92″N 111°51′28.8″W / 40.7772000°N 111.858000°W / 40.7772000; -111.858000
Spouse(s)Florence Ann Dinwoody
Lydia Spencer
Pearl Udall
ParentsHiram B. Clawson
Margaret Judd
Signature of Rudger Clawson

Rudger Clawson (March 12, 1857 – June 21, 1943) was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1898 until his death in 1943. He also served as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1921 until his death. For five days in 1901 he was a member of the First Presidency of the LDS Church.


Clawson and Standing during Mission in Georgia

Clawson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, to Hiram Bradley Clawson and Margaret Judd of Canada.

While serving his mission in Georgia, he faced many challenges, not the least of which was the mounting anti-Mormonism in that sector. On July 21, 1879, Clawson and his missionary companion were standing at Varnell Station, Georgia, when they were surrounded by an angry mob of anti-Mormons. One of the mobbers shot and killed his companion, Joseph Standing. One of the mobbers then turned and pointed to Clawson, and said, "Shoot that man!" Clawson coolly faced the mob and folded his arms. He exclaimed, "Shoot!" The mob soon dispersed in the face of Clawson's defiance and willingness to face the mob. He brought the body of his deceased missionary companion back to Salt Lake City, where a public funeral was held in the Tabernacle. Clawson became somewhat of a celebrity for his bravery that day.

August 1882 was a difficult time for Clawson, as he became the first practicing polygamist to be convicted and serve a sentence after the passage of the Edmunds Act.[2] During the trial, one of his wives refused to testify against him. She was put in prison for contempt of court. Judge Charles S. Zane sentenced Clawson to the maximum possible penalty—he was punished with 312 years in prison and a $1500 fine. For his final words before being sent to prison, Clawson defended his right to practice his religion and challenged the court's ability to enforce a law aimed at destroying a particular establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. His appeal was heard and rejected by the Supreme Court of the United States in Clawson v. United States. Clawson was pardoned in 1887 by President Grover Cleveland mere months before his sentence was to expire.

Clawson was ordained an apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 10, 1898. He was asked to serve as second counselor in the First Presidency under church president Lorenzo Snow on October 6, 1901, but Snow died just four days later.

In 1904, the town of Kingsville, Emery County, Utah, was renamed Clawson in his honor after he visited the town to organize a ward.

That same year, Clawson secretly contracted a plural marriage with Pearl Udall, daughter of David King Udall and Eliza Stewart Udall.[3][4][5][6][7] Because they married after then-church president Joseph F. Smith issued a manifesto expressly prohibiting plural marriage among Latter-day Saints,[8] their relationship was a "clandestine marriage of secret meetings and long absences", and they never shared a home. After discussing their marriage across several rendezvous held in the three-month span of October 1912 to January 1913, Clawson "released her [Pearl Udall] from the marriage", and they ceased to live as spouses.[9] Pearl Udall later married Joseph Nelson on September 17, 1919.[10]

In 1921, Clawson became the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He served in this position for 22 years, the second-longest tenure for this position in the history of the LDS Church.[11]


Clawson died from pneumonia at the age of 86 in Salt Lake City.[12] He had served in the quorum for a total of 45 years. He was buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery.

See also[edit]

Published works[edit]

  • Clawson, Rudger (1993a). Larson, Stan (ed.). A Ministry of Meetings: The Apostolic Diaries of Rudger Clawson. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-96-6. OCLC 25317571.
  • —— (1993b). Larson, Stan (ed.). Prisoner for Polygamy: The Memoirs and Letters of Rudger Clawson at the Utah Territorial Penitentiary, 1884-87. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-01861-3. OCLC 23731930.


  1. ^ a b Richard S. Van Wagoner (1989, 2d ed.). Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books) p. 119
  2. ^ Van Wagoner, Richard S. (1989) [1986]. Mormon Polygamy: A History (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-941214-79-7. LCCN 85063399. OCLC 19515803.
  3. ^ Clawson 1993b, p. 19
  4. ^ Clawson 1993a, p. x
  5. ^ Hoopes, Roy (February 1990), "My Grandfather, The Mormon Apostle", American Heritage, 41 (1)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-12-16. Retrieved 2005-11-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-11. Retrieved 2019-04-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Ellsworth 1992, pp. 201–202.
  9. ^ Ellsworth 1992, pp. 220–221.
  10. ^ Ellsworth 1992, pp. 230–231, 279n6.
  11. ^ Orson Hyde served in the position for 28 years—from 1847 to 1875.
  12. ^ State of Utah Death Certificate Archived 2009-03-20 at the Wayback Machine.


External resources[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
March 17, 1921 – June 21, 1943
Succeeded by
New position  Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles 
For: Anthon H. Lund

November 23, 1918 – March 17, 1921
Title next held by
Joseph Fielding Smith
Preceded by Second Counselor in the First Presidency
October 6, 1901 – October 10, 1901
Succeeded by
Preceded by Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
October 10, 1901 – June 21, 1943
October 10, 1898 – October 6, 1901
Succeeded by