Today, the United States honors the founding fathers of the country and all US presidents. But did you know that many US Presidents have interesting encounters with LDS prophets? Here are five stories that few people know about.
Martin Van Buren and Joseph Smith
After much persecution in Missouri, the Prophet Joseph Smith traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with Congress and President Martin Van Buren to seek redress and a restoration of their rights. In the Library of Congress it is recorded:
After Joseph addressed President Martin Van Buren, the president said, “What can I do? I can do nothing for you, -if I do anything, I shall come in contact with the whole State of Missouri.”
Herbert Hoover and George Albert Smith
On May 16, 1929, George Albert Smith recorded in his diary: “Called on President Herbert Hoover who received me kindly. He feels that with the help of men like Reed Smoot his policies are likely to win. He feels that some of those he counted on to improve conditions are not playing fair.” Hoover served as President during the Great Depression and was greatly impressed by the welfare system of the Church.
John F. Kennedy and David O. McKay
On September 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy came to Salt Lake City to deliver a major foreign policy address in the tabernacle. As he entered, he was greeted by President David O McKay. President McKay said, “Hello Mr. President,” to which President Kennedy responded, “Hello Mr. President.” He applauded the people of Utah for helping the desert territory blossom as a rose.
Gerald Ford and Spencer W. Kimball
Gerald Ford’s wife, Betty, toured the Washington D.C. Temple during the open house. While there, she was told how members have recommends according to their worthiness. Those giving the tour pulled out their recommends to show her. President Spencer W. Kimball was the last one to pull his out. She said, “I’m so glad you’ve got one, too. You had me worried.”
George W. Bush and Gordon B. Hinckley
As has become tradition in recent years, President Gordon B. Hinckley presented George W. Bush and his family with a beautiful family tree compiled by the Church. In 2015, when presenting at a family history conference, Former First Lady Laura Bush talked about the family’s admiration for President Hinckley and when discussing his passing she said, “We miss our friend Gordon.”