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How do we account for the Stephen A. Douglas prophecy?

In the October General Conference of 1981, Ezra Taft Benson recounted the following:

In another prophecy, one of the most remarkable pronounced on the head of one man, Joseph Smith said to a young judge named Stephen A. Douglas, in the presence of several others: “Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if ever you turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life.” (History of the Church, 5:394.)

Stephen A. Douglas did aspire to the presidency of the United States. He did have opportunity to defend the Church. But in a political speech in 1857, he viciously attacked the Church as “a loathsome, disgusting ulcer in the body politic” and recommended that Congress cut it out.

Some have asserted that no one had better prospects for the presidency than did Douglas, but when the results of the election were tallied, he received only twelve electoral votes. The election victory went to an obscure backwoodsman by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

A few months after the election, Mr. Douglas died a broken man in the prime of life.

– Ezra Taft Benson – Joseph Smith: Prophet to Our Generation

How did Joseph know this was going to happen? 


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