Sylvester Q. Cannon

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Sylvester Q. Cannon, Mormon Apostle

Sylvester Q. Cannon was a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1939-1943.

Born in 1877 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to George Q. Cannon and Elizabeth Hoagland, he spent his infancy in Washington D.C., where his father served in Congress. However, he grew up just outside of Salt Lake City.

He attended Latter-day Saints College and the University of Utah before receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Mining Engineering in Boston at MIT. He served his first mission in the Netherlands in 1899, and because he was already fluent in French and German, he was called to lead a branch in Belgium. In 1900, he replaced the mission president, a task which required him to add Dutch to his language skills. Those language skills earned him a calling as a guide and interpreter to President Francis Lyman in Turkey, followed by a tour of various other countries, where he collected material for an article.

When he returned home he was employed as an irrigated land and water surveyor by the state. In 1904, he became a counselor in the Stake Presidency (similar to a diocese) and married Winnifred Saville a few months later.

In 1907 he was called as a mission president in Rotterdam. This time his wife and the two children born so far accompanied him. During this mission, he performed history-making work as he supervised the publication of the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of canonized scripture, in Dutch, new editions of the Book of Mormon in the Netherlands, and new French and Dutch hymn books.

He served as a stake president when he returned home, until his call as the Presiding Bishop of the Church. In 1930, he was given responsibility for welfare. He was to make certain no one in the church lacked the basic necessities of life, while at the same time making sure the assistance did not create a dependency. Many stakes created programs that allowed members to earn what they needed in order to preserve their self-respect and teach them new skills.

He then served as an apostle. In a fairly unusual move, he was the thirteenth apostle, and so he did not join the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until Melvin J. Ballard died in 1939, making an opening in the Quorum. This practice of adding a thirteenth apostle did not occur again until 1967, with the addition of Alvin R. Dyer as an apostle.

Elder Cannon died in 1943.

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