George Reynolds


Saturday, Jan 1, 1842
St Marylebone, London, England


Sunday, May 4, 1856


Monday, Aug 9, 1909
Salt Lake City, Utah
Burial: Salt Lake City, Utah   Baptism: 4 May 1856   Early life   Reynolds was born in Marylebone, England to George Reynolds and Julia Ann Tautz. He spent much of his childhood under the care of his maternal grandmother. His grandmother employed a maid, Sarah White, who invited nine year old Reynolds to attend a meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with her. Reynolds received permission from his grandmother to do so; Reynolds attended a sacrament meeting of the Paddington Branch of the Church with White, and almost immediately decided that he wished to become a member of the LDS Church.   However, Reynolds’s parents refused to allow him to be baptized a member of the church. Often, he would evade his parents’ wishes and attend the Sunday meetings in Paddington. When Reynolds was 14 years old, he attended the Somers Town Branch of the church, where he was unknown, and asked to be received into the church by baptism. Not knowing that Reynolds’ parents had forbidden the action, the president of the branch, George Teasdale, baptized him on May 4, 1856; Reynolds was confirmed a member of the Church by Teasdale on May 11, 1856.   In December 1856, Reynolds was given the Aaronic priesthood and ordained to the office of deacon. In this capacity, he was responsible for opening the doors to the Sunday meetinghouse for the Somers Town Branch and organizing the seating in preparation for sacrament meeting. In May 1857, at the age of 15, Reynolds was ordained to the office of Priest. In this calling, Reynolds engaged in open-air preaching in the streets of London, usually with an adult Elder of the church. After Reynolds began street preaching, his parents discovered that he had become a “Mormon”.   In August 1860, Reynolds was given the Melchizedek priesthood and ordained to the office of elder. In May 1861, he was called to be a full-time missionary of the church in London. In 1863, Reynolds was reassigned as a missionary to the Liverpool area to work as a clerk for church Apostle and mission president George Q. Cannon. When Cannon returned to the United States later that year, Reynolds retained his position as a clerk under the new mission president, Apostle and member of the First Presidency Daniel H. Wells. As mission clerk, one of Reynolds’s primary responsibility was organizing and coordinating the church’s efforts to assist European Latter-day Saints in emigrating to Utah Territory, where the headquarters of the church were located. While acting as mission clerk, Reynolds was asked to serve as the branch president of the Liverpool Branch of the church. Life in America   In May 1865, Reynolds was released as a missionary and invited to emigrate to Utah. He traveled to Salt Lake City with fellow elders of the church William S. Godbe and William H. Sherman, arriving on July 5, 1865. On July 22, 1865, mere weeks after his arrival in Utah, Reynolds married his first wife, Mary Ann Tuddenham. Soon afterwards, LDS Church president Brigham Young hired Reynolds as secretary to the First Presidency of the church. Reynolds was ordained to the priesthood office of Seventy by Israel Barlow on March 18, 1866.   In February 1869, Reynolds was elected by the legislature of the Utah Territory to be a member of the board of regency of the University of Deseret, which was later renamed the University of Utah. Reynolds was re-elected to this position by the legislature a number of times.   In May 1871, Brigham Young asked Reynolds to return to England to assist Apostle Albert Carrington in the publication of the Millennial Star, a church magazine for British Latter-day Saints. Reynolds did so, and in September of that year Carrington was required to return to the United States, leaving Reynolds as the de facto mission president of the church’s European Mission. However, Reynolds was suffering from ill health due to a severe case of smallpox, and when Carrington returned in May 1872, Reynolds was sent home to recover.   Like many early Latter-day Saints, Reynolds practiced the religious principle of plural marriage. On August 3, 1874, Reynolds married his second wife, Amelia Jane Schofield. At this time, Brigham Young continued to employ Reynolds as the secretary to the First Presidency and also appointed him to be the manager of the Salt Lake Theatre. In 1875, Reynolds was elected as a member of the Salt Lake City Council. Party to polygamy test case   In 1874, strong efforts were being made to prosecute Latter-day Saints who practiced polygamy in violation an 1862 Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act. Confident that the law would be declared to be an unconstitutional violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the leaders of the church agreed to furnish a defendant for a test case. Brigham Young asked Reynolds if he would be willing to serve as the test defendant. Reynolds agreed and was indicted for bigamy by a grand jury on October 23, 1874.   Because it was a test case that the church wished to pursue before the United States Supreme Court, Reynolds completely cooperated with investigators and the trial court, supplying the witnesses and testimony that proved he was married to two women at the same time. Reynolds was found guilty by a jury on April 1, 1875, and was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of three hundred dollars. On appeal, the indictment was overturned by the Utah Territory’s Supreme Court because the grand jury had not been empanelled in compliance with the Poland Act. Thus, for the test case to proceed, Reynolds had to be reindicted and retried.   On October 30, 1875, Reynolds was indicted a second time; he was found guilty of bigamy by a jury on December 9 and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment at hard labor and a fine of five hundred dollars. On June 13, 1876, the Utah Supreme Court upheld the conviction. The stage was set for the case to be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. Reynolds v. United States Main article: Reynolds v. United States   Arguments were heard in Reynolds’s case before the Supreme Court on November 14, 1878. On January 6, 1879, the Court issued its unanimous decision for Reynolds v. United States. The court rejected Reynolds’s argument that the Latter-day Saint practice of plural marriage was protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Thus, Reynolds’s conviction was upheld, as was the constitutionality of the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act. (The court did rule that the hard labor clause of Reynolds’s sentence was not permitted by law; as a result, this clause of Reynolds’s sentence was lifted.) Imprisonment   Reynolds had been imprisoned in Utah since his second conviction was confirmed by the Utah Supreme Court in June 1876. After his failed appeal to the Supreme Court, Reynolds was transferred from a jail in Utah to the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln, where he became U.S. Prisoner Number 14 and was appointed to be the bookkeeper in the knitting department. Reynolds only remained in the Nebraska penitentiary for twenty-five days, after which he was transferred to the Utah Territory Penitentiary, where regulations were more primitive and vermin more abundant. Reynolds reported that the prisoners were not permitted to have a fire for fear that the prison would burn down; as a result, on many winter mornings he would awake and his beard would be one solid mass of ice. Reynolds was released from prison on January 20, 1881, having served his full sentence, less 5 months for good behavior. Life after release from prison   Upon his release from prison, Reynolds resumed his position as secretary to the First Presidency of the church; he also became an active organizer within the church’s Sunday School program, acting as the editor of and writing many articles for the Juvenile Instructor, the LDS Sunday School’s official publication. On April 25, 1885, Reynolds married his third and final wife, Mary Goold. Shortly after, his first wife Mary Ann died on December 17, 1885, following the birth of a child.   In 1890, LDS Church president Wilford Woodruff asked Reynolds to become one of the seven members of the First Council of Seventy, a calling in the church hierarchy that ranked just below the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Reynolds agreed, and on April 10 Reynolds was set apart to this position by Lorenzo Snow, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Reynolds continued in this position and as the secretary to the First Presidency until his death in 1909.   Reynolds was a gifted writer and after his release from prison he became active in writing church literature. His most famous works are his Story of the Book of Mormon (1888); Complete Concordance to the Book of Mormon (1900); and Dictionary of the Book of Mormon (1910).   Reynolds suffered a nervous breakdown in 1907 as a result of stress incident from overwork. He died from meningitis at Salt Lake City on August 9, 1909, at the age of 67.[1] Reynolds had a total of three wives and thirty-two children. One of his daughters married Joseph Fielding Smith.   Reynolds, George, one of the First Seven Presidents of Seventies since 1890, was born Jan. 1, 1842, in Marylebone, London, England. His father, George Reynolds, belonged to Totnes, Devonshire; his mother, originally Miss Julia Ann Tautz, was of German descent. George’s father was a master tailor in the West End of London, and the first that George heard of “Mormonism” was in a conversation among the workmen who were sitting, “tailor fashion,” cross legged, in a circle round a large, upright gas burner on his father’s shopboard. The men were talking about religion, and much to George’s disgust, for he was then very young, probably about seven years old, he heard one of the men laughingly declare that his was no every day religion; he was going up to heaven in a balloon with both ends on fire. This sacrilegious speech drew the child’s attention and he listened to what followed. Soon he heard the tailors talking of a young man in America who had discovered, in the ground, some plates which he had translated by the help of the Urim and Thummim. George had been told by some one that the Urim and Thummim mentioned in the Bible had been carried from Jerusalem to Rome by the Roman soldiery and had been lost in the river Tiber; and he could not understand how these holy things got to America. It never entered his mind that there could be more than one Urim and Thummim. George spent much of the early portion of his life with his maternal grandmother, that is his mother’s mother. When he was nine years old she lived in a large house in London, parts of [p.207] which she rented to two aged maiden ladies. One of these ladies had a little servant maid who was called Mary, though her real name was Sarah White. She is now the wife of Bishop William Thorne, Seventh Ward, Salt Lake City. Now George was a very timid little boy; he had a terrible fear of the darkness, he disliked the moonlight and was in terror of ghosts. One day he summoned up courage enough to speak to Mary, and the first thing he said was, “Mary, are you afraid of ghosts?” The acquaintance thus strangely begun, ripened into intimacy, and George, who was of a strongly religious nature, began making enquiries as to whether Mary went to church. Learning from her that she did, he obtained his grandma’s permission to go with her. She took him to the meetings of the Paddington branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he no sooner heard the principles of the gospel taught by the Elders than he was satisfied of their truth and wished to be baptized. Then war began. He being so young, the brethren would not baptize him without his parents’ consent; and notwithstanding all his pleadings and persuasions they remained firm in their refusal, and George had to remain unbaptized for several years. In the meantime, George, by many childish artifices, used to evade his parents’ wishes and now and then attend the meetings and visit the Saints whom he had met. As the years rolled by, the boy, with the feeling then so prevalent in the Church that the coming of the Savior in glory was “nigh, nigh at hand,” made an elaborate mathematical calculation that before he was twenty-one years old Christ would come. Consequently, if he had to wait until he was that age before he could be baptized without his parents’ consent he would be outside the Church at the time of that glorious appearing and would be damned. So, when fourteen years old he went to another branch of the Church (the Somers Town), where he was not known, and asked for baptism. He was baptized Sunday, May 4, 1856, and the next Sunday was confirmed by Elder George Teasdale, who was then president of the branch. The Lord in His kindness had given George a testimony of the truth of “Mormonism” long before he was baptized, for it was not his fault that he had not obeyed this sacred ordinance, or as we sometimes say, the Lord “took the will for the deed.” In the December following his baptism George was ordained a Deacon, and if you were to ask him he would tell you he never magnified any office in the Church as well as he did that one. He took a pride in never being absent from meeting, and in being there the very first to open the doors and prepare the rooms. The next May he was ordained a Priest and sent out, with an older companion, to preach in the streets of London. He was small of his age, and occasionally some youthful listener about his own age would advise him to get a sheet of brown paper to stand upon so that the people could see him. The first time he went out, a few days after his ordination as a Priest, his companion was Elder Francis Burrell (long since deceased), who chose that well-known London thoroughfare, the Tottenham Court Road, as the place to hold forth. He borrowed a chair, mounted it and began to talk of the Kingdom of God; that the kingdom would necessarily have a king, territory, laws and officers. “And here comes one.” cried a voice in the crowd. Then a policeman appeared and ordered Brother Burrell to “move on,” as no preaching was permitted at that corner. So they moved on. George was not altogether sorry. He used in those days to wear a little round jacket like those we see in the pictures of the boys of Eton and other English public schools. He came to the conclusion that if he bought a coat, he would look more like a man and people would listen to him better. Before the next Sunday he did so, but it was not altogether a success—to use an expression of a facetious friend, “it fitted him like a sentry box, all over and touched nowhere.” In plain English it was too large. But it answered its purpose. George felt more of a man in it, and he took great pleasure in bearing his testimony week after week, year after year at the street corners. George’s parents soon discovered that he had joined the Church, and then that he was engaged in street preaching. His father used to talk to his customers about the matter. One advised that he tie his son up to the bed post and thrash “Mormonism” out or him; another that the boy be confined [p.208] in a lunatic asylum; a third that he be taken before a magistrate and committed to prison; but “in a multitude of counselors there was safety” for George, for his father never adopted any of these harsh measures, and by degrees became reconciled to the course his son was taking. George, notwithstanding his youth, soon had numerous duties conferred upon him. He was made secretary of the branch Sunday School; secretary and afterwards president of its tract society; he was appointed an acting teacher, and the secretary of the branch. In August, 1860, he was ordained an Elder, and in May, 1861, he was called into the traveling ministry and appointed to labor in the London conference, under the presidency of the late Elder William C. Staines. In 1863 he was changed to the Liver pool office, as emigration clerk to Pres. George Q. Cannon, and later as chief clerk, in which capacity he also served under Pres. Daniel H. Wells. During this time he was made superintendent of the Liverpool branch Sunday school and afterward president of the branch. In May, 1865, he was released to emigrate to Zion, and reached Salt Lake City July 5th of the same year. His trip to Zion was an unusually quick one for that period, as he did not travel with any regular company of immigrants, but had only two companions—Elders Wm. S. Godbe and Wm H. Shearman. It was the time of the Sioux war, the stage company could not take them, so Brother Godbe purchased an outfit, and after a few adventures, such as being chased by the hostile Indians, they arrived safe in Salt Lake City. Shortly after his arrival in Salt Lake City, Brother Reynolds secured employment from Brother William Jennings, but before the close of the year he went to work in Pres. Young’s office, and soon after became his secretary. His time has been engaged, with brief exceptions, in the employ of the Church from that time to the present. Soon after his arrival in Utah, Brother Reynolds joined the Territorial militia—the old Nauvoo Legion. He was a lieutenant in the third regiment of infantry, and secretary of the regiment. In the former capacity he commanded Company H at the famous Wooden Gun Rebellion, in November, 1870, but, unlike most of the other officers, he was not arrested and sent to Camp Douglas. In February, 1869, Elder Reynolds was elected by the legislative assembly of the Territory a member of the board of regency of the University of Deseret, and was again elected to that office by the next and later legislatures. In May, 1871, Brother Reynolds returned to Europe, he having been called to assist Elder Albert Carrington in the editorship of the “Millennial Star.” In the following September Pres. Albert Carrington was called back to Zion on account of complications growing out of legal persecutions, and Elder Reynolds was left in charge of the spiritual concerns of the European Mission. Shortly before this he had suffered a severe attack of smallpox, and on Pres. Carrington’s return to Liverpool, in May, 1872, Brother Reynolds was released to return home, as his health remained quite poor. Soon after his return he was placed by Pres. Brigham Young first as treasurer and afterwards as manager of the Salt Lake Theatre. He later, in connection with W. T. Harris, became lessee of that well-known place of amusement. From 1875 to July, 1879, Brother Reynolds sat as a member of the municipal council of Salt Lake City. In the fall of 1874, when Judge McKean was chief justice of Utah, strong efforts were made to find indictments, under the Congressional law of 1862 against polygamy, and the arrest of a number of the leading authorities of the Church was threatened. The Latter-day Saints, believing this law to be unconstitutional, and that it would be so declared by the Supreme Court of the United States, the representatives of the Church agreed to furnish a test case. This idea the federal officers readily accepted and agreed to give the accused a fair trial so that the constitutionality of the law could be decided. Brother Reynolds was chosen to stand in the gap. He furnished the witnesses and testimony to the grand jury, and on October 23rd, that body found a true bill against him. On March 31, 1875, his trial before Judge Emerson commenced. It lasted two days. He was found guilty and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and to pay a fine of three hundred dollars. He appealed to the supreme court of the Territory, who set the indictment aside on the ground of the illegality of the grand jury who found it. Oct. 30, 1875, [p.209] another indictment was found against him, and on Dec. 9, 1875, his second trial commenced, this time before Chief Justice White. The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with hard labor and to pay a fine of five hundred dollars. An appeal to the Territorial supreme court was again taken. The case came up June 13, 1876, and the decision of the lower court was unanimously sustained. An appeal was then taken to the Supreme Court of the United States, but the case was not called up until Nov. 14, 1878. Jan. 6, 1879, Chief Justice Waite delivered the decision of the court confirming the decisions of the lower courts; the hard labor clause being eliminated by the Supreme Court as being in excess of the law. The corrected sentence was pronounced by the district court June 14, 1879, and on the 16th Brother Reynolds started, in charge of two deputy marshals, for the Nebraska State penitentiary at Lincoln. ‘There he was shaved, had his hair cropped close, was dressed in the broad blue and white stripes, and became known as U. S. Prisoner, No. 14. He was appointed bookkeeper in the knitting department. The Lincoln penitentiary was then carried on under the silent system. No prisoner was allowed to speak outside the cells. There were two prisoners in each cell; Brother Reynolds’ cell mate was a party by the name of Johnson, convicted of burglary. When the prisoners left their cells for the work shops they always walked in the lock step. His right hand used to be on the shoulder of a murderer, while the burglar had his right hand on Brother Reynolds. He only remained in Lincoln twenty-five days—very long ones to him—when he was brought back to Utah and placed in the Territorial penitentiary. In those days things were pretty rough at that institution, its regulations were very primitive, and vermin was abundant. There were no cells. Brother Reynolds was placed in one of the iron cages which were contained in a thin lumber building, and had Brother Lorenzo Colton as his companion. A new bunk house was shortly after built. Into it Brother Reynolds was transferred. It was made of two-by-four green lumber. There was a crack every two inches through which the winter winds blew. No fire was permitted for fear the prisoners might burn it down. The thermometer is said to have gone down to thirty degrees below zero, and how some of the prisoners who had only one shoddy blanket to cover them escaped being frozen to death is a mystery. Brother Reynolds was supplied with plenty of bed clothing by his friends, but he generally went to bed with all his clothes on and a woolen comforter wrapped around his head. In the morning his beard would be one solid mass of ice. More bed clothing only added to the weight, it did not increase the warmth. He was released Jan. 20, 1881, having served his full time, less his good conduct allowance. While in prison Brother Reynolds did a great deal of writing in the prison yard, and for some time taught a school composed of prisoners. Ever since his arrival in Utah, Elder Reynolds has taken an active interest in Sunday Schools. In 1867 he was secretary of the Eighth Ward (Salt Lake City) Sunday School and the teacher of the boys’ Bible class. Having removed his residence to the Twentieth Ward, he became, in 1868, librarian and a teacher in its Sunday School, and in December, 1869, was chosen its superintendent. This position he retained (with the exception of the periods of his absence on his mission and during his imprisonment) until the spring of 1885. Brother Reynolds is now the oldest member of the Board of the Deseret Sunday School Union. He has been the general treasurer of the Union since February, 1876—more than a quarter of a century. At the Sunday School Convention held in November, 1900, he was chosen second assistant general superintendent, and at the reorganization of the superintendency a few weeks ago, owing to the deaths of Superintendents Cannon and Maeser, he was appointed first assistant general superintendent. Brother Reynolds has been a very diligent and zealous worker in the Sunday School Union—especially as the chairman of several standing committees of its Board. March 18, 1866, Elder Reynolds was ordained a Seventy by Elder Israel Barlow, and received into the sixth quorum. In December, 1875, he was transferred to the twenty-fourth quorum and became a member of the council of that quorum. At the April conference, 1890, he was sustained as one of the First Seven [p.210] Presidents of Seventies. He was set apart to that position by the Twelve Apostles, Pres. Lorenzo Snow being mouth, on the 10th of the same month. Brother Reynolds has done much literary work in connection with the publications of the Church. At times he has acted as an associate editor on the “Deseret News,” and also as assistant to Pres. Geo. Q. Cannon on the “Juvenile Instructor,” of which latter periodical he is today one of the associate editors. He has also written a number of books, of which the best known are his “Story” and his “Dictionary of the Book of Mormon.” For twenty-one years he has been engaged in the preparation of a “Concordance of the Book of Mormon.” This is a work the magnitude of which few, who have not undertaken something similar, can understand. Its publication has been retarded by unexpected difficulties, but it is now in the hands of the printer. Besides the callings he has held in the Church and in connection with its auxiliary organizations, the subject of this sketch has occupied a number of positions in the business community, for instance, as a director of Z. C. M. I., of Zion’s Savings Bank, of the Deseret Telegraph Line, etc., etc. He is a strong believer in the divinity of the United Order, and at the time Pres. Brigham Young was seeking to establish it among the Saints, Brother Reynolds was an officer in the original order, No. 1, and of the local organization where he resided. Elder Reynolds is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.—T. Z.   From   Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints J “Juvenile Instructor” With Vol. 9 the magazine was enlarged to a 12-page publication, and with Vol. 17 (1882) it became a 16-page periodical. In 1889 (Vol. 24) publication was commenced as a 24-page octavo size and the following year (Vol. 25) each number contained 32 pages. In 1901 the periodical became the organ of the Deseret Sunday School Union, edited and published by that organization, with George Reynolds and Joseph M. Tanner as assistant editors. Osborne J. P. Widtsoe later became assistant editor. View Full Context Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints M “The Millennial Star” Thomas Ward, 1840–1842; Reuben Hedlock, 1842–1844; Thomas Ward, 1845–1846; Franklin D. Richards, 1846–1847; F. D. Richards and L. O. Littlefield, 1847–1848; Franklin D. Richards, 1848–1850; James Linforth and Cyrus H. Wheelock, 1851–1852; Daniel Spencer and James A. Little, 1852–1854; James A. Little and Edward W. Tullidge, 1854–1856; James A. Little, Edward W. Tullidge and John A. Ray, 1856–1857; Henry Whittall, 1857–1858; Henry Whittall and Thomas Williams, 1858–1860; Jacob Gates and Henry Whittall, 1860; Charles C. Rich, Nathaniel V. Jones, and Henry Whittall, 1860–1861; Henry Whittall, Edward L. Sloan, William Fuller, William H. Shearman, John C. Graham, George J. Taylor, Eugene Henroid, Joseph G. Romney and George Reynolds, 1861–1864; Brigham Young, jun., Joseph G. Romney, and John V. Hood, 1864–1865; John V. Hood, Aurelius Miner, Orson Pratt and Charles W. Penrose, 1865–1867; Charles W. Penrose, 1867–1868; George Teasdale and John Jaques, 1868–1870; John Jaques, 1870–1871; George Reynolds, James G. Bleak, Samuel S. Jones and John C. Graham, 1871–1873; John C. Graham, 1873–1874; John C. Graham, L. John Nuttall and Edward Hanham, 1874–1875; David McKenzie and Henry W. Naisbitt, 1875–1877; Henry W. Naisbitt, 1877–1878; John Nicholson and Charles W. Stayner, 1878–1880; Charles W. Stayner and Orson F. Whitney, 1880–1882; Orson F. Whitney and George C. Lambert, 1882–1885; George Osmond and Charles W. Penrose, 1885–1887; Brigham H. Roberts, Thomas W. Brookbank, George W. Phillips and John E. Carlisle, 1887–1890; John E. Carlisle, James H. Anderson, William B. Dougall, jun., and Alfred Solomon, 1890–1893; John V. Bluth, Alfred L. Booth and Edwin F. Parry, 1893–1896; Joseph W. McMurrin, Edwin F. Parry, George E. Carpenter and Attawall Wootton, 1896–1898; Henry W. Naisbitt, James L. McMurrin and Attawall Wootton, 1898–1901; Alex Buchanan jun., and Joseph J. Cannon, 1901–1904; Walter M. Wolfe, Nephi Anderson and William A. Morton, 1904–1906; William A. Morton and S. Norman Lee, 1906–1910; S. Norman Lee, Thomas W. Brookbank and Hugh Ireland, 1910–1913; T. W. Brookbank and J. M. Sjödahl, 1913–1916; J. M. Sjödahl, 1916–1919; Junius F. Wells, 1919–1921; William A. Morton, 1921–1923; David O. McKay and G. Martin Hopfenbeck, 1923–1925; Franklin Artell Smith, 1925; Junius S. Romney, 1925–1926; James K. Knudson, 1926–1927; Waldo L. Osmond, 1927; Richard L. Evans, 1927–1929, and Weston N. Nordgren, 1929–1930. View Full Context   From    


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