In the April 1925 General Conference of the Church, Presiding Bishop Charles Nibley defended the notion that the Constitution of the United States of America was an inspired document, and proposed that the principles of the Constitution are inseperably connected with the Restoration of the Gospel. He framed the main point of his speech by quoting from the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple (D&C 109:54):
Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth; have mercy upon the rulers of our land; may those principles which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.
He then proceeded to recite the history of slavery in the United States, and suggested that the emancipation of slaves in the United States triggered a worldwide trend, reaching even the distant land of Russia.
In the justice and mercy of Almighty God, [slavery] . . . had to be overthrown, and the Lord raised up Abraham Lincoln and others to see that the law laid down by Him—that one man should not be in bondage to another—was set right and true freedom established in this land. From that day on, millions more of slaves have been freed in Russia and other lands. In these latter-days, throned have tottered and fallen, and in place of these has come a representative form of government, a government of the people, a government which gives people their moral agency, spoken of in the revelations I have read, and which the Lord says is pertinent to all people.
The entire talk is a fascinating blend of patriotism and millennial thought, seeing the spread of U.S. Constitutional principles throughout the world as a precursor to the establishment of the Mormon gospel in those lands and ultimately, the second coming of Jesus Christ. That topic alone is deserving of discussion (and by all means, feel free to take it in that direction). However, one paragraph in Nibley’s address stood out to me in particular. When discussing the possibilities of other countries establishing constitutional democracies like America, he explained that although another country might implement a constitution similar to that of the United States, “the results would not be at all the same.” The reason?
[T]he people of these countries are not as intelligent as are the people of this nation. But even in such countries, our Constitution could not help but produce a better government, for in that Constitution are the underlying principles which will, in time, teach these people to govern themselves intelligently. In order that the various peoples of the earth may at sometime reach the point at which they can intelligently govern themselves, the Lord in his mercy has in the past overthrown nations comprised of millions of people who have been subjected to unrighteous domination.
Charles Nibley, “Address at General Conference, Salt Lake City, April 1925,” in Just and Holy Principles: Latter-day Saint Readings on American and the Constitution, ed. Ralph C. Hancock (Pearson Custom Publishing, 1998), 71-74.