“Let my servant … Wilford Woodruff … be appointed,” said the Lord in 1838 (D&C 118:6); and Wilford Woodruff became an apostle, serving in the Quorum of the Twelve until 1889 when he became the fourth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was president for nine years, until 1898, and a General Authority longer than any other man during that first half-century of the Church’s existence.
Wilford Woodruff was born at Farmington, Connecticut, on March 1, 1807. He joined the Church in 1833 and from that time was an integral part of its administration.
Known for his missionary labors, Wilford Woodruff converted more than 2,000 souls in the eastern states, the South, the Fox Islands, and the British Isles. Said Heber J. Grant, seventh President of the Church, “Perhaps he was the greatest converter of men we have ever had in the Church.” (Conference Reports, April 1942, p. 4.)
Wilford Woodruff was one of the original company of pioneers to enter the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. He dedicated the Salt Lake Temple, which was forty years in building. The famous Manifesto of 1890, officially ending the practice of polygamy in the Church, was issued by him. While he was president, Utah received statehood.
“No one will surpass in excellence and permanence or largeness the service which Wilford Woodruff has given to the Church of Jesus Christ in the New Dispensation by writing and preserving the beautiful and splendid Journals he kept through sixty-three eventful years.” (B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 6:355.)
Elder Matthias Cowley stated: “[His] integrity and unbounded devotion to the worship and purposes of his God are not surpassed by any prophet of either ancient or modern times.” (Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff, Bookcraft, 1964, p. 1.)