I'll just pick random General Conferences through the decades. I've skipped ahead to the last General Conference over which Joseph F. Smith presided. He died a month later, a few days after his 88th birthday. On his watch, the LDS Church grew from around 290,000 members to around 490,000. This also takes place just before the end of World War I.
JOSEPH F. SMITH -79
-Anthon H. Lund -73
-Charles W. Penrose -87
Quorum of the 12 Apostles
-HEBER J. GRANT -62
-Rudger Clawson -62
-Reed Smoot -57
-GEORGE ALBERT SMITH -48
-George F. Richards -58
-Orson F. Whitney -62
-DAVID O. McKAY -45
-Anthony W. Ivins -66
-JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH -42
-James E. Talmage -56
-Stephen L. Richards -39
-Richard R. Lyman -47
George Albert Smith did not speak at this Conference. At the very beginning, they introduced Joseph F. Smith's vision of the afterlife, which would later be added as Section 138 of the Doctrine & Covenants.
I will not, I dare not, attempt to enter upon many things that are resting upon my mind this morning, and I shall postpone until some future time, the Lord being willing, my attempt to tell you some of the things that are in my mind, and that dwell in my heart. I have not lived alone these five months. I have dwelt in the spirit of prayer, of supplication, of faith and of determination ; and I have had my communication with the Spirit of the Lord continuously; and I am glad to say to you, my brethren and sisters, that it is a happy meeting this morning for me to have the privilege of joining with you in the opening of this eighty-ninth Semi-annual Conference of the Church...
TITHING - We have been blessed with a most abundant harvest in all the stakes and wards of the Church. The Lord has greatly blessed the people, and it is gratifying to note that our tithing records show an increase in tithing paid for the first nine months of this year over the corresponding months of 1917.
PRIESTHOOD ACTIVITIES - In consequence of so many of our young men being drafted into the
war, the activities of our quorums of the priesthood, especially of the Elders, Priests and Teachers quorums, are very much impaired. In some wards nearly every priest and teacher of draft age is in the war. The quorums have been seriously depleted, and a corresponding effect has also been felt in the Sunday School and Y. M. M. I. A.
MISSIONARY WORK - The extension of the draft age has also affected our missionary work, and we are not now sending missionaries out who are within the draft age.
RELIEF SOCIETY WHEAT - Our Relief Societies were called on, just prior to harvest time of this year, to supply the government with all the wheat they had stored up for years. Of course, they promptly and loyally complied with the request, and the wheat has been taken over by the government and used to help meet the demand made upon this country by our allies. The money received for this wheat is a trust fund, and should be kept in the banks, and when the proper time arrives, used to purchase wheat to be saved up against another time of need. The policy inaugurated by the leaders of the Church years ago with reference to this matter is a sound policy and should be continued.
TEMPLES - The Hawaiian temple is now nearing completion. Substantial progress is being made with the Cardston temple. The building is enclosed, and the finishing work now in process.
MILITARY SERVICE - We believe that our brethren who have answered the call of their Country and entered the war should have their names on record in the Church, and Bishops should enter every member of their ward who is in the military service of the United States or its allies on the tithing record, as this record is a roll of honor...
LABORS OF LADY MISSIONARIES - In the mission fields, now that so many of our young men have had to come home and go into the army, we have been assisted very much by our young women, who have gone out and filled missions. They also are successful in tracting, in meeting the people and getting into their homes. Those who may be afraid of the elders, cannot believe that these innocent girls can come for any purpose of deceiving, and they are willing to listen to them, and many have been brought to believe in the truth by the simple testimonies borne by these young women who have accepted missions. The Lord bless them and make them successful in their labors...
I want to say to this congregation, and to the world, that never at any time since my presidency in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have I authorized any man to perform plural marriage, and never since my presidency of the Church has any plural marriage been performed with my sanction or knowledge, or with the consent of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and therefore such unions as have been formed unlawfully, contrary to the order of the Church, are null and void in the sight of God, and are not marriages. I hope you will put this down in your note-book of remembrance, and bear it in mind henceforth.
From October when I was called to be one of the council of the Twelve, until the following February, I had but little joy and happiness in my labors. There was a spirit following me that told me that I lacked the experience, that I lacked the inspiration, that I lacked the testimony to be worthy of the position of an apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ. My dear mother had inspired me with such a love of the gospel and with such a reverence and admiration for the men who stood at the head of this Church, that when I was called to be one of them I was overpowered; I felt my unworthiness and the adversary taking advantage of that feeling in my heart, day and night, the spirit pursued me, suggesting that I resign, and when I testified of the divinity of the work we are engaged in, the words would come back, "You haven't seen the Savior ; you have no right to bear such a testimony," and I was very unhappy.
But in February, 1883, while riding along on the Navajo Indian Reservation with Elder Brigham Young, Jr., and fifteen or twenty other brethren, including the late president, Lot Smith, of one of the Arizona stakes,on our way to visit the Navajos and Moquis — as we were traveling that day, going through a part of the Navajo Reservation to get to' the Moqui Reservation — as we were traveling to the southeast, suddenly the road turned and veered almost to the northeast, but there was a path, a trail, leading on in the direction in which we had been traveling. There were perhaps eight or ten of us on horseback and the rest in wagons. Brother Smith and I were at the rear of our company. When we came to the trail I said, "Wait a minute. Lot ; where does this trail lead to ?"
He said, "Oh, it leads back in the road three or four miles over here, but we have to make a detour of eight or nine miles to avoid a large gully that no wagons can cross."
I asked : "Can a horseman get over that gully?"
He answered, "Yes."
I said, "Any danger from Indians, by being out there alone?"
He answered, "No."
I said, "I want to be alone, so you go on with the company and I will meet you over there where the trail and road join."
One reason that I asked if there was any danger was because a few days before our company had visited the spot where George A. Smith, Jr., had been killed by the Navajo Indians, and I had that event in my mind at the time I was speaking. I had perhaps gone one mile when in the kind providences of the Lord it was manifested to me perfectly so far as my intelligence is concerned — I did not see heaven, I did not see a council held there, but like Lehi of old, I seemed to see, and my very being was so saturated with the information that I received, as I stopped my animal and sat there and communed with heaven, that I am as absolutely convinced of the information that came to me upon that occasion as though the voice of God had spoken the words to me.
It was manifested to me there and then as I sat there and wept for joy that it was not because of any particular intelligence that I possessed, that it was not because of any knowledge that I possessed more than a testimony of the gospel, that it was not because of my wisdom, that I had been called to be one of the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ in this last dispensation, but it was because the prophet of God, the man who was the chosen instrument in the hands of the living God of establishing again upon the earth the plan of life and salvation, Joseph Smith, desired that I be called, and that my father, Jedediah M. Grant, who gave his life for the gospel, while one of the presidency of the Church, a counselor to President Brigham Young, and who had been dead for nearly twenty-six years, desired that his son should be a member of the Council of the Twelve. It was manifested to me that the prophet and my father were able to bestow upon me the apostleship because of their faithfulness, inasmuch as I had lived a clean life, that now it remained for me to make a success or a failure of that calling.
Boys of latter-day Israel, does it not seem that the time has come when "their hearts no more turn against the Holy One?" It seems to me that it has. Then, if so, great events are to take place. God has said he will remember his promises. What are they? Turn to the tenth chapter of II Nephi, and there you will find that "when the day cometh that they believe in me. then shall they be restored in the flesh unto their own land." In the month of December, 1917, General Allenby, of the British army, took possession of the holy city, Jerusalem. Today the Holy Land is practically freed from the domination of the Turk, and it is under the rule of the Gentile. It was significant that during that very month one of the leaders of the British parliament, announcing the taking of Jerusalem, also suggested that it should be made the home of the Jews. In that same paragraph in II Nephi the prophet also added this significant reference: "And the Gentiles shall be great in mine eyes, because they shall be the means of restoring Israel unto their lands." As soon, practically, as the announcement was made by Mr. Balfour, I think, that Jerusalem should be held for the Jews, a prominent Jew in this country wrote an article in one of the magazines saying, "We don't want to go back to Jerusalem. The Holy Land is of such strategic value that should the Jews gather there and build a Jewish republic, and the nations go to war later, we shall be crushed as Belgium was crushed in this war;" but he was answered by the leaders of the Zionist movement, one of whom is Israel Zangwill, the author of that most patriotic American play. The Melting Pot, and they said this : "Place the Jewish republic under the protection of some such nations as Great Britain and the United States," and in harmony with that sentiment, June the 26th of this year, prominent Jews held a convention in Pittsburg in which it was stated publicly and authoritatively that at that time fifty thousand Jews were with General Allenby working for the freedom of the Holy Land ; and the Jews who stood up in that convention, said: "We dedicate the rest of our lives to the rebuilding of Jerusalem."
DOM - "Aspirations"
I would like to say at parting that the thoughts that have been awakened in our minds, the resolutions that have been made in our hearts, have placed upon us greater responsibility than we have ever had before. God help us to be true to them, and to radiate that strength of character, that faith and confidence in God and his eternal work that will encourage others to seek higher ideals, and arouse in others' hearts higher hopes and aspirations.
I want to say to you, my brethren and sisters, that if you understand the Church articles and covenants, if you will read the sciptures and become familiar with those things which are recorded in the revelations from the Lord, it will not be necessary for you to ask any questions in regard to the authenticity or otherwise of any purported revelation, vision, or manifestation that proceeds out of darkness, concocted in some corner, surreptitiously presented, and not coming through the proper channels of the Church. Let me add that when a revelation comes for the guidance of this people, you may be sure that it will not be presented in some mysterious manner contrary to the order of the Church...
Not very long ago a good sister, I suppose a good sister, one who means well, placed into my hands a purported vision, or revelation, which she claims she received, dealing with matters pertaining to the welfare of the people. Now, the Lord is not going to give unto any woman in this Church a revelation for the Church. He is not going to give unto any man in this Church, other than the one who is properly appointed, a revelation for the guidance of the Church, for everything will be done in order. When you find good sisters, or otherwise, and brethren, circulating revelations or manifestations which they themselves have received, you put it down that it is contrary to the law and the order of the Church and the doctrine the Lord has revealed...
I wonder, let me say in conclusion, I wonder if we are indeed a praying people. I know that many of us pray. I doubt if we all do. I rather fear there are some among us who have neglected this important duty.
ORSON F. WHITNEY - "Patriotism"
We stand by our country, we are glad and proud to see her continuing the noble work that God has placed upon her. Even as Joseph of old, liberated from prison and exalted to a throne, ministered to his brethren who had hated him and cast him out and sold him into slavery, so this Land of Joseph, lifted up on high, enthroned in beauty and power and glory, is now ministering to the needy nations who come bending to her for food, for succor, for assistance. America, rediscovering herself, forgiving the past and magnanimously returning good for evil, has even crossed the ocean with her armies and navies and is sending her sons to the front to help the nations of Europe, the democracies of the Old World, fight the battle of freedom and equal right. And I thank God, for one, that our boys have the privilege of participating in this glorious strife. They are pre-eminently the sons of liberty, for the gospel covenant in which they were begotten and born, is liberty's perfect law, and it is most fitting and appropriate that they should play their part in the great and mighty drama that is fated to spread the principles of human freedom and clear the way for the carrying of the message of salvation into every nook and corner of the world.