George Q. Cannon

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George Quayle Cannon [January 11, 1827, Liverpool, England – April 12, 1901, Monterrey, California] - An Apostle of the Lord for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who earlier in his life, in 1849, was sent on a mission by Brigham Young to mine for gold in California. This effort soon provided funds which allowed him and others to travel to Hawaii to preach the Gospel.

Elder Cannon served in the First Presidency under four successive presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow. He was the Church's chief political strategist, and was dubbed "the Mormon premier" and "the Mormon Richelieu" by the press. He was also five-time Territorial Delegate from Utah (

Cannon was the eldest of six children born to George Cannon and Ann Quayle. His father's sister, Leonora Cannon, had married Latter Day Saint Apostle John Taylor and was baptized in 1836. News reached the elder George Cannon, and four years later, when Taylor came to Liverpool, the entire Cannon family was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; George Q. Cannon was 13 years old at the time.

In 1842 the Cannon family set sail for the United States to gather with the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. Ann Quayle Cannon died during the voyage. The rest of the family made it to Nauvoo in 1843. Cannon's father remarried in Nauvoo, and another child came of that marriage. In Nauvoo, Cannon went to live with his uncle, John Taylor. He worked at the printing office of Times and Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor for this uncle, who was an editor of both periodicals. In June 1844, Taylor accompanied Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and Willard Richards and others to Carthage Jail. There, Joseph and Hyrum were killed, and Taylor sustained serious bullet wounds. Cannon tended the printing affairs while Taylor recovered. This training would serve Cannon well in later life.[1] Cannon's father died in 1845.

In 1846 John Taylor traveled to England to manage the affairs of the Church there. George Q. Cannon accompanied Taylor's family, first to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, and then after Taylor's return, west to Utah Territory.

Cannon served a four-year mission for the Church to Hawaii, then called the Sandwich Islands. One of Cannon's many converts, Jonatana Napela, helped Cannon translate the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian. When Cannon returned to Utah, he married Elizabeth Hoagland, and then was asked to assist Parley P. Pratt with some publishing in California. While in California, he served as president of the Oregon and California mission of the Church. After his return to Utah, he was commissioned a Lieutenant General in the Nauvoo Legion. During this time Cannon served as printer of the Deseret News while it was in exile in Fillmore, Utah.[2] After the Utah War he was called to preside over the Eastern States Mission of the Church.

The murder of Parley P. Pratt in 1857 created a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. That vacancy wasn't filled until Brigham Young called Cannon to the apostleship three years later. Cannon was ordained to the priesthood office of apostle on August 26, 1860, at the relatively young age of 33. Upon his joining the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Cannon was called to preside over the European Mission of the Church. He was recalled in 1862 to go to Washington, D.C., to help with Utah's bid for statehood. (By 1880, Cannon had served four terms in Congress as Territorial Delegate.)

After his work ended in Washington, he headed back to Europe and managed Church publications there. In 1867 Cannon became the managing editor of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. It was under his direction that the News was first published on a daily basis. He held this position until 1874.

In 1866 in Utah, Cannon began publication of a magazine for youth and young adult Latter-day Saints called The Juvenile Instructor. Cannon owned and published this magazine until his death; in 1901 the Cannon family sold the magazine to the LDS Church's Sunday School organization. The periodical was the official organ of the Sunday School until 1930, when it was replaced with The Instructor. Cannon also served as the first general superintendent of the Church's Sunday School from 1867 until his death.

He was called to the First Presidency of the Church in 1873, serving as a counselor to Brigham Young. He remained in the First Presidency, being called to serve three more prophets: John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow. Like many other leaders in the Church, Cannon practiced Plural Marriage, and had five wives. He served six months in a penitentiary under the Edmunds Act.[3]

Cannon died on April 12, 1901, in Monterey, California at 74 years of age. Had he lived only a few months longer, he would have been the next president of the Church: Lorenzo Snow died on October 10 of that year and Cannon was the senior apostle. Cannon fathered 32 children, some of whom are Abraham H. Cannon, John Q. Cannon, and Sylvester Q. Cannon, all of whom became general authorities in LDS Church, and Frank J. Cannon, Utah's first U.S. Senator. Some of Cannon's prominent descendants include Howard Cannon, U.S. Senator from Nevada between 1959 and 1983 and Chris Cannon, member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 2009. His descendant George I. Cannon was a general authority of the LDS Church from 1986 to 1991 (


  1. Jenson, Andrew. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1941) p. 187
  2. Jenson. Encyclopedic History. p. 187.
  3. The Journals of George Q. Cannon, vol. 1, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1999.