The Council of Fifty in Nauvoo, Illinois

On 11 March 1844 in , Illinois, Joseph Smith organized a council that he and his closest associates saw as the beginning of the literal kingdom of God on earth. The council, which eventually became known as the Council of Fifty because it had roughly fifty members, operated under Smith’s leadership until his death less than four months later. Following Smith’s death, the council met in Nauvoo under ’s leadership from February 1845 to January 1846. Council members saw the council as somewhat separate from but also related to the ecclesiastical structure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph Smith stated that “the literal kingdom of God [that is, the Council of Fifty], and the church of God are two distinct things” as “the laws of the kingdom are not designed to effect our salvation hereafter.” Instead, the council “was designed to be got up for the safety and salvation of the saints by protecting them in their religious rights and worship.” Nevertheless, because Joseph Smith was leader of both the church and the council, ecclesiastical concerns were frequently reflected in the discussions of the council.
Minutes of the council’s meetings were kept primarily by council clerk on loose sheets of paper, which he then copied into three small bound record books. This volume of The Joseph Smith Papers publishes these minutes for the first time. Because Joseph Smith authorized the creation of the minutes and presided over the council until his death, and because the record of the council in these years was kept as a unit in Clayton’s bound volumes, the minutes are published as part of The Joseph Smith Papers even though much of the record covers events in the eighteen months following Smith’s death on 27 June 1844. This volume is divided into four parts that correspond with the council’s periods of activity. Part 1 contains a record of the meetings held on seventeen days from 10 March through 31 May 1844. Part 2 of this volume covers the meetings held on fifteen days from 4 February through 10 May 1845. The final two parts contain, respectively, the minutes for three meetings held in September and October 1845, and for two meetings held in January 1846.
Journals, letters, and reminiscences of council participants, as well as the information included in the church’s manuscript history, have allowed previous scholars to examine some aspects of the council’s history, philosophy, and operations. Without the minutes, however, knowledge about the council has been limited. While many of the actions taken by the council have been known through other records, the minutes chronicle the deliberations that led to these decisions, helping explain the rationale of events such as Smith’s 1844 campaign for the presidency and the contemplated expansion of the Latter-day Saints into and the western United States. The minutes also reveal much about early Mormon thought on earthly and heavenly governments and constitutions. While illuminating Latter-day Saint ideas regarding settlement in areas on the geographic periphery from to Texas to the Great Salt Lake, the minutes provide an unparalleled view of decision making at the center of what participants viewed as the nascent kingdom of God.
Antecedents to the Council of Fifty
In the minutes, the Council of Fifty appears to spring full blown. In fact, the council had many antecedents, including the Latter-day Saints’ experiences in and expulsions from and in the 1830s; the longtime interest of the Latter-day Saints in American Indians, the West, and the ; and the Saints’ interpretations of biblical prophecies and Joseph Smith’s revelations.
The expulsions the Latter-day Saints experienced during the 1830s—particularly from , Missouri, in 1833 and then from the state of in 1838 and 1839 under threat of “extermination” from the state’s —left them deeply convinced of the inability and unwillingness of local, state, and federal governments to protect the rights of unpopular religious minorities. At this time, the Bill of Rights protected against abuses by only the federal government, not state and local governments, meaning that federal officials generally refused to intervene to protect rights at local levels. The Mormons were not alone in their reservations about the power of the majority in the . Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political theorist who toured the young republic in the early 1830s, identified the repression of unpopular minorities as “the main evil of the present democratic institutions of the United States.” Like abolitionists and members of other maligned movements who had suffered at the hands of majority opinion, Latter-day Saints sought changes that would restore what they saw as a proper balance to America’s political system.
Joseph Smith and other leaders consciously designed the government of the city of to provide protections the Latter-day Saints had lacked during the 1830s. The Nauvoo municipal charter, granted by the state of in 1840, was intended to guard against many of the institutional wrongs the Saints had experienced. Recognizing that their opponents in often included soldiers in state-supported militias rather than members of loosely organized mobs or vigilante groups, the Saints legally organized their own militia, the Nauvoo Legion. Mormons also believed that courts, largely in the hands of their opponents, had failed to protect them or to redress abuses. In Nauvoo the municipal court had far-reaching authority and was used to protect Smith and other Mormons from what they perceived as unjust legal actions. The Council of Fifty, its members maintained, would protect minority rights—the minority rights of all, not just Latter-day Saints—against the tyranny of the majority.
In addition, the origins and purpose of the Council of Fifty reflected the Latter-day Saints’ interest in American Indians. Mormons believed that the Indians were descendants of the Israelites who are called Lamanites in the Book of Mormon; Mormons thus referred to contemporary Indians as Lamanites. Relying on statements in both the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s revelations, Mormons expected their proselytizing efforts would bring Lamanites “to the knowledge of their Fathers & that they may know the Promises of the Lord that they may believe the Gospel.” The title page of the Book of Mormon says the book was written particularly “to the Lamanites,” and that book of scripture contains numerous prophecies about the Lamanites’ destiny in the latter days as part of the restoration of the house of Israel. Smith sent four missionaries to the American Indians in September 1830, only a few months after the church was organized, and other missionaries followed throughout the church’s early history. In the early 1840s Smith sent additional missionaries to Indian nations, some of which—such as the Sauk and Fox and the Potawatomi—reciprocated by sending delegations to .
Mormon beliefs about the destiny of America’s Indians also sparked an abiding interest in the and the American West. As early as 1831, when federal Indian agents denied permission to the four initial Mormon missionaries sent to preach to Indians in what is now Kansas, the missionaries contemplated taking their message to the “Rocky Mountains,” if necessary, in order to “be with the Indians.” The Mormon interest in American Indians and the West (including both the Far West and nearer areas such as ) framed many of the council’s discussions. In the early months of 1844, Latter-day Saint leaders faced both growing disquiet among some church members and increasing opposition from without because of the practice of plural marriage by Joseph Smith and others, fears over the Mormons’ political power, and concerns over elements of Smith’s doctrinal teachings. As tensions grew, the Saints’ long-standing interest in the West gained urgency. The West already figured in the American imagination as a place of refuge and redefinition. A year before newspaper editor John L. O’Sullivan proclaimed it the “manifest destiny” of the to spread across the continent, the Saints contemplated new settlements in Texas, , or . On 20 February, a few weeks before the establishment of the council, Smith commissioned the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to explore the possibility of settlements in California or Oregon, not as an abandonment of but as an expansion of their influence where they could “build a city in a day— and have a governme[n]t of our own—— in a hea[l]thy climate.”
In addition, biblical prophecies and Joseph Smith’s revelations established the context for Latter-day Saint thinking on the kingdom of God. Council members, as well as other members of the church, emphasized the prophecy in Daniel that God would “set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed,” which would be as a stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” that would fill the earth. Latter-day Saints did not believe that they were establishing simply another denomination to take its place within the ranks of Christianity; rather, they believed that Daniel’s prophecy referred to the latter-day church and kingdom of God established through Joseph Smith.
Latter-day Saints also looked to the imagery of raising a “standard to the people” or an “ensign to the nations” that was rooted in the writings of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. Members of the Council of Fifty repeatedly invoked this imagery in their deliberations. Isaiah 5:26 prophesies that God “will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly,” while in Isaiah 49:22 God states, “I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.” Variations on this theme can be found throughout the writings of Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets. The Book of Mormon presented itself as a standard to help gather the Lord’s people in the last days, whereas an early Joseph Smith revelation presented the Mormon Zion as the “ensighn unto the People.” While in jail in in the late 1830s, Joseph Smith wrote that the Constitution of the was a “glorious standard” and a “heavenly banner” that had been erected to establish liberty. The Council of Fifty sought to erect a new standard of liberty in order to establish the freedoms America had failed to safeguard.
Several of Joseph Smith’s revelations spoke of the “kingdom of God” and contributed to the eventual establishment of the Council of Fifty. Early revelations commanded converts, for instance, to “seek the kingdom of God.” An October 1831 revelation, paraphrasing Daniel’s prophecy, declared, “The keys of the kingdom of God is committed unto man on the Earth & from thence shall the Gospel roll forth unto the ends of the Earth as the stone which is hewn from the Mountain without hands shall roll forth untill it hath filled the whole Earth.” That revelation emphasized that the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth would occur before the second coming of Jesus Christ. In August 1833 another revelation instructed that the “keys” of the “Kingdom of God on the earth” had been “confered upon” the Latter-day Saints.
Initially, Latter-day Saints likely understood these statements about the kingdom of God as describing the work of the church; by the time of the organization of the Council of Fifty, Joseph Smith and others saw them as referring to a literal kingdom of God on earth. Smith had been publicly expressing similar thoughts on the merits of theocracy since 1842, when an editorial on “The Government of God” appeared in the church newspaper Times and Seasons, of which he was the editor. The editorial, likely written by of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, criticized contemporary governments for their failures to “promote universal peace and happiness.” Even the was “rent from center to circumference, with party strife, political intrigue, and sectional interest.” Speaking about the government of God as reflected in ancient Israel and in the future Millennium, the editorial averred, “Their government was a theocracy; they had God to make their laws, and men chosen by him to administer them . . . so will it be when the purposes of God shall be accomplished; when ‘the Lord shall be king over the whole earth’ and ‘Jerusalem his throne.’”
Members of the council believed that it would play a key role in the fulfillment of both biblical and latter-day prophecies. , for instance, told the council “that the time was at hand when the prophecies should be fulfilled, when the nations were ready to embrace the gospel and when the ensign should be lift up and the standard to the people.” further “addressed the council on the subject of the filfillment of the prophecies of Daniel showing that the time is at hand when the principles of eternal truth & righteousness shall prevail.”
During the winter of 1843–1844, Joseph Smith convened several special councils that may have been preparatory to the formal organizing of the Council of Fifty. For example, on 29 January 1844 the Twelve Apostles and a few others met to discuss whom the Latter-day Saints should support in the coming presidential election. They decided that Joseph Smith should declare his candidacy and that they would “use all honorable means to se[c]ure his election.” Smith continued to meet with such small councils to arrange the details of his campaign until the organization of the Council of Fifty. Furthermore, in late February, Joseph Smith held several councils with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other church leaders to discuss a proposed expedition to and . Both the election campaign and the western explorations became key projects of the Council of Fifty.
Organization, Rules, and Records of the Council
While the Council of Fifty had many antecedents within Latter-day Saint thought and experience, the immediate impetus for its organization came on 10 March 1844 when Joseph Smith received two letters from and , church leaders in . Miller and Wight had been commissioned along with others to establish mills in Wisconsin to provide lumber for the and a boardinghouse called the . Since enough lumber would soon be procured for these projects, Miller and Wight proposed that the mills be sold and that missionaries be sent to to select a “place of gathering for all the South.”
They further wrote that American Indians throughout the nation were eagerly waiting to be taught by Latter-day Saint missionaries. The letters also reflected an expansive Latter-day Saint view of the future growth of the church throughout the world, as the writers noted that the “Gospel has not been fully opened in all the South and South Western States, as also , , Brazil &c, together with the West India Islands.” In an era of growing sectional conflict within the —particularly between northerners and southerners over the possible American annexation of the independent, slave-owning nation of Texas— and believed that “a concert and reciprocity of action between the North and the South would greatly advance the building up of the Kingdom.”
After some initial discussion with (who carried the letters to ) and other church leaders, Joseph Smith called a meeting that evening in Nauvoo, inviting all the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who were immediately available, as well as a few others, to attend. Joseph Smith encouraged candid discussion about the letters, commenting that those who failed to speak frankly would be “nothing better than ‘dough heads,’” and Smith did not “want to be forever surrounded by a set of ‘dough heads.’” The discussion revealed that many of the “same feelings” expressed in the letters “had run through the minds” of church leaders in Nauvoo. The meeting continued to a “late hour,” when the assembled men adjourned to the following morning.
At that meeting on the morning of Monday, 11 March 1844, the men continued to discuss the expansion of the church from , and “all seemed agreed to look to some place where we can go and establish a Theocracy either in or or somewhere in &c.” In addition, they conversed “on the subject of forming a constitution which shall be according to the mind of God and erect it between the heavens and the earth where all nations might flow unto it.” During this meeting Joseph Smith and other church leaders formally organized the Council of Fifty. All the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, as well as many local church leaders, were eventually added to the council. Nevertheless, with the exception of Smith and later , seniority within the council was according to age—as had been the case with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when it was formed in 1835—and not by virtue of position within the church.
Rules adopted in this initial meeting governed the Council of Fifty throughout its existence. The minutes note that Joseph Smith “laid down the order of organization after the pattern of heaven.” He had long been interested in the organization of councils according to what he had earlier described as “the order of Councils in ancient days,” which he said had been shown to “him by vision.” Elements of the procedures of the Council of Fifty reflected a blend of contemporary parliamentary procedures and the practices of church organizations such as high councils and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Joseph Smith became the council’s “standing chairman,” and twenty-two other men were accepted into the council on that day, with appointed as recorder and as clerk. When the fiftieth member was added to the council on 18 April 1844, Smith “said that the council was full.” Nevertheless, by the last time Smith met with the Council of Fifty in late May 1844, fifty-four men had been admitted, including Richards and Clayton, who were sometimes not counted in the total number. In his journal account of this final meeting held under Smith’s leadership, Clayton recorded the name “council of 50” for the first time.
Council members were selected by the standing chairman and invited to attend the council, where prior to being accepted by vote they were given a charge that “explained the nature of the council and briefly stated its importance, rules, regulations &c.” The initiates were then asked to assent to the regulations of the council and take an oath that they would keep its proceedings confidential. Participants believed they had an obligation to offer candid commentary on issues before the council and that their collective deliberations would lead them to correct decisions. Council members sat “according to their ages the oldest member being seated at the right hand of the chairman and forming a semicircle in front of the chair the youngest member seated at the left of the chairman.” Most of the business of the council, such as drafting documents or preparing reports, was assigned to committees that met and then reported back to the council.
The council generally followed traditional parliamentary order. The meetings were organized when the chairman and council members took their seats in order, and a roll was likely called. The meetings were then opened with a prayer and occasionally with the reading of a passage of scripture or the singing of a hymn. The minutes of the previous meeting (or meetings if the council held two sessions on the previous date) were then read and accepted and new members were inducted. The council began its business by hearing reports from committees and then proceeded with any additional items submitted by the chairman. Although this rule was not always followed, motions made during discussions were to be written out and submitted to the chair. If the chairman approved of the motion, he would hand it to the clerk to be read. Such parliamentary rules had been used in the City Council and were part of the broad culture of parliamentary procedures practiced in legislative bodies throughout the . At the organization of the council, Joseph Smith emphasized that decisions of the council had to be unanimous. Beginning with the oldest member, each participant voted by voice on resolutions.
In their deliberations, council members frequently emphasized the importance of confidentiality, including the need to safeguard the minutes kept by , presumably on loose sheets of paper. They almost certainly believed that knowledge of their discussions regarding theocracy and the kingdom of God would increase the already widespread belief that Latter-day Saints opposed key elements of American democracy. As early as 14 March 1844, “it was considered wisdom to burn the minutes in consequence of treachery and plots of designing men.” On the night of 22 June 1844, knowing that he would soon be arrested and believing that he might be murdered, Joseph Smith sent for Clayton before he left and ordered him “to burn the records of the kingdom, or put them in some safe hands and send them away or else bury them up.” Clayton immediately returned home, “put the records in a small box and buried them in my garden.”
On 3 July 1844, shortly after Smith’s death, unburied the minutes, and he soon began copying them into a small bound volume that he titled “Record of the Council of Fifty or Kingdom of God.” When meetings resumed in 1845, he continued keeping minutes on loose sheets that he then copied into the book. Clayton eventually used three small record books for this purpose. Following the exodus from in 1846, the record books were taken to Utah. , Joseph Smith’s successor as chairman of the council, had custody of the records in the 1850s. In 1857 apostle asked Young for records pertaining to the council for his work in preparing the multivolume church history that Joseph Smith had begun. Young agreed that Woodruff and his associates could “publish an account of it so that the Saints might understand it but not the world He gave into our hands all the records of the Council of 50.” References to the council thus appeared in the manuscript history and in publications such as the Deseret News.
Even so, the original minutes continued to be closely guarded. By 1880 George Q. Cannon, an apostle and clerk of the council since 1867, had possession of the key to the box “containing Records of ‘Kingdom of God.’” Cannon, then serving as Utah territorial delegate to Congress, mailed the key back to Salt Lake City so that , president of the Quorum of the Twelve, and his fellow apostles Joseph F. Smith and Franklin D. Richards could read the records in preparation for a reinstitution of the council. At some point thereafter, the minutes became part of the collection of records of the church’s First Presidency, where they remained throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, until they were transferred to the Church History Department in 2010. Historians with the Joseph Smith Papers used the minutes to assist in editing Smith’s March–June 1844 journal, published in 2015, but the minutes have otherwise never been directly available to scholars.
The Council under Joseph Smith, 1844
Members of the Council of Fifty held lofty views of its importance and its promise. and wrote to , president of the British mission, that the “Kingdom is organized and although as yet no bigger than a grain of mustard seed, the little plant is in a flourishing condition and our prospects brighter than ever.” Reflecting on the achievements of the council during 1844, summarized:
In this council was the plan arranged for supporting president Joseph Smith as a candidate for the presidency of the . . . In this council was also devised the plan of establishing an immigration to and plans laid for the exaltation of a standard and ensign of truths for the nations of the earth. In this council was the plan devised to restore the Ancients to the knowledge of the truth and the restoration of union and peace amongst ourselves.
Clayton aptly captured the principal concerns of the Council of Fifty in this era, including Joseph Smith’s candidacy for the presidency, wide-ranging discussions about the meaning of the kingdom of God, and a possible Latter-day Saint emigration to or elsewhere in the West.
Presidential Campaign
As the 1844 presidential campaign approached, Latter-day Saint leaders sought assurances from possible candidates of their rights and the validity of their claims for redress for their losses in . , who had assumed the presidency upon William Henry Harrison’s death in 1841, had quickly alienated the Whigs who elected him. Since the Whigs would not renominate Tyler, the race seemed wide open. In November 1843 Joseph Smith wrote five leading potential candidates—Democrats , , , and Richard M. Johnson; and Whig —and asked, “What will be your rule of action relative to us, as a people. Only three responded, and they offered no commitments and little sympathy; Calhoun wrote Smith that the Mormons’ treatment in Missouri was a state issue, not a federal one. Smith responded, “If the general government has no power, to reinstate expelled citizens to their rights, there is a monstrous hypocrite fed and fostered from the hard earnings of the people!”
Dissatisfied by the contenders’ responses, Joseph Smith and other church leaders decided that he should become a candidate for president, a position to which the apostles nominated him on 29 January 1844. Smith may have thought he had a chance in the absence of a clear front-runner, and he also may have believed that a presidential run would publicize the Mormon message and their mistreatment in . The Council of Fifty became a vehicle for managing the campaign, which eventually included over three hundred electioneering missionaries. In addition, the council settled on council member , a counselor in the First Presidency, to run as the vice presidential candidate.
Members of the Council of Fifty, reflecting Joseph Smith’s Views on the Powers and Policy of the Government and discussions in the council, portrayed Smith’s candidacy as championing minority rights. The Mormon expulsion from , apostle asserted in a campaign meeting, was only the most egregious violation of civil liberties during a decade in which “white men have been shot and hung, and negroes burned without trial, judge or jury; abolitionists have been mobbed and shot; Catholic churches, dwellings and convents burned.” Pratt warned that the loss of civil liberties by minority groups threatened the rights of all Americans: “The Catholics may be the sufferers to-day, the Mormons to-morrow, the Abolitionists next day, and next the Methodists or Presbyterians.” The partisan disputes over “minor” issues like tariffs and banks paled in importance to this fundamental question. Ignoring the Saints’ suffering under the guise of states’ rights, Pratt thundered, meant that national government officials, “with a few exceptions, stand with their skirts stained and their hands dripping with the blood of innocent men, women and children.” Joseph Smith, by contrast, would protect the rights of all citizens: “He is not a Southern man with Northern principles; nor a Northern man with Southern principles. But he is an Independent man with American principles, and he has both knowledge and disposition, to govern for the benefit and protection of ALL.”
Discussions of Theocracy
The preparations for Joseph Smith’s candidacy for the presidency coincided with lengthy discussions in the Council of Fifty regarding the nature of the kingdom of God, theocracy, and Joseph Smith’s role as leader of the church and the council. For most contemporary Americans, theocracy connoted the tyrannical rule of religious leaders, conjured images of the collusion of Catholicism with European governments, and seemed the antithesis of American democracy and constitutional principles. However, Joseph Smith and other council members believed that theocracy could be fused with the best elements of democracy, a system that Smith publicly described during his campaign as “theodemocracy.” In a statement ghostwritten by , Joseph Smith proclaimed, “As there is not a nation or dynasty, now occupying the earth, which acknowledges Almighty God as their law giver . . . I go emphatically, virtuously, and humanely, for a Theodemocracy, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness.” As “an advocate of unadulterated freedom,” Smith argued that a theodemocracy would protect liberty and freedom “for the benefit of ALL.”
Council members reiterated that a system that blended theocracy with democracy would protect rights of minority groups, allow for dissent and free discussion, involve both Latter-day Saints and others, and increase righteousness in preparation for Jesus Christ’s second coming. stated, “The design was to form a Theocracy according to the will of Heaven, planted without any intention to interfere with any government of the world. . . . You need not fear that we design to trample on the rights of any man or set of men, only to seek the enjoyment of our own rights.” Joseph Smith likewise “considered that a Theocracy consisted in our exercising all the intelligence of the council, and bringing forth all the light which dwells in the breast of every man, and then let God approve of the document & receiveing the sanction of the council it becomes a law. Theocracy as he understands it is, for the people to get the voice of God and then acknowledge it, and see it executed.”
Joseph Smith and other members of the Council of Fifty believed that the council would serve as the government of the kingdom of God both before and after the second coming of Jesus Christ. In their view, not all good men and women either before the Second Coming or during at least the initial stages of the Millennium would be church members. Council members emphasized that everyone would enjoy religious liberty in the kingdom of God. Joseph Smith invited three men who were not church members to join the council in order “to show that in the organization of this kingdom men are not consulted as to their religious opinions or notions in any shape or form whatever and that we act upon the broad and liberal principal that all men have equal rights, and ought to be respected.” He wanted the council to throw off “every spirit of bigotry and intollerance towards a mans religious sentiments, that spirit which has drenched the earth with blood.”
Council members also attempted to write a constitution for the kingdom of God that would reflect the principles of theodemocracy. The council’s name, which was given in a revelation during the council meeting on 14 March 1844, suggests a mix of political purpose and religious symbolism: “The Kingdom of God and his Laws, with the keys and power thereof, and judgement in the hands of his servants. Ahman Christ.” Council members often used an abbreviated form of this revealed name, referring to the council by such titles as the “Kingdom,” “Kingdom of God,” or “Council of the Kingdom of God.” On the day of the council’s organization, , , , and were appointed a committee to “draft a constitution which should be perfect, and embrace those principles which the constitution of the lacked.” Joseph Smith and other council members criticized the U.S. Constitution for not protecting liberty with enough vigor. After the council’s committee reported its draft of the constitution, Smith instructed the council to “let the constitution alone.” He then dictated a revelation: “Verily thus saith the Lord, ye are my constitution, and I am your God, and ye are my spokesmen. From henceforth do as I shall command you. Saith the Lord.”
In the midst of these discussions on governmental principles in the kingdom of God, on 11 April 1844 moved that the council “receive from this time henceforth and forever, Joseph Smith, as our Prophet, Priest & King, and uphold him in that capacity in which God has anointed him.” Snow’s motion was unanimously accepted. This action dramatically demonstrates the council members’ views of theodemocracy, under which the ecclesiastical leader of the church (prophet and priest) would be chosen by them as a political leader (king). Council participants understood that this action would have no immediate political consequences, but it symbolized their desire to prepare for the millennial kingdom of God. Joseph Smith and others in the council emphasized that leaders in the kingdom of God would govern by fostering free discussion, by respecting the people, and by serving as a conduit for revelation and God’s law.
Proclaiming Joseph Smith as a prophet, priest, and king also reflected the temple ceremonies that he had introduced among his closest followers beginning in May 1842. In the view of Latter-day Saints, these ceremonies would allow men to one day become, in the words of John the Revelator, “unto our God kings and priests.” On 23 July 1843, Smith taught that he would “adva[n]ce f[ro]m prophet to pri[e]st & then to King not to the kingdoms of this earth but of the most high god.” In his famous King Follett sermon delivered on 7 April 1844, a few days before the council received him as prophet, priest, and king, Smith stated, “Here then is Et[erna]l. life to know the only wise & true God you have got to learn how to be a God yourself & be a K[ing] & Priest to God.” The next day, Joseph Smith urged the Saints to finish building the so that they could there “rec[eive] [their] endow[men]t to make [them] K[ings] & P[ries]ts unto the Most H[igh] G[od].” He explained that this office had “nothin[g] to do with temporal things” but was instead related to the kingdom of God.
The belief that Joseph Smith had been crowned as king of an earthly theocracy, along with rumors of temple-related ceremonies in which Smith and others were anointed kings and priests, spread among both dissidents within the church and opponents and observers outside the church. The dissidents who published the Nauvoo Expositor in June 1844 accused Smith of attempting to establish a tyrannical theocracy. In his account of Smith’s death, Illinois newspaper publisher George T. M. Davis claimed that Smith had been “crowned KING under God, over the immediate house of Israel. This ceremony was performed in 1842, by a council of fifty in number, denominated the ‘Ancient of Days.’ And thenceforward his authority as such was recognized and obeyed by the church and its authority in all respects and under all circumstances.” So common were rumors of these actions in the summer of 1844 that governor placed the belief that Smith “had caused himself to be crowned and anointed King of the Mormons” first in a list of “causes of excitement” that led to his death.
Exploring a Place of Refuge
The members of the Council of Fifty had a deep interest in expanding Latter-day Saint settlements outside the American Midwest, and the council took several actions to explore alternative sites of settlement. For instance, the council wrote and approved a petition to the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the president asking that Joseph Smith be authorized to raise one hundred thousand volunteers to protect American emigrants to and and otherwise establish peace and order on the American frontier. was commissioned to take the petitions to , though the ambitious proposal failed to attract much support.
Council members hoped to establish additional settlements as places of refuge, fearing that hostility against the Saints would one day force their evacuation from , as they had earlier been forced to flee . In their search, council members initially focused on , then a new nation that had won its independence from less than a decade earlier. The council commissioned to travel to Texas to negotiate with President regarding possible settlements. In mid-April, before Woodworth returned, Joseph Smith affirmed his intention to both strengthen the Latter-day Saint center place of Nauvoo and establish other settlements, of which Texas might be one. A few weeks later, Woodworth reported on his travel to Texas and interview with Houston; in response, the council debated whether to petition the Congress of Texas for a grant of land. The council commissioned Woodworth to return to Texas to “meet the Texian Congress at their next session.” Following Joseph Smith’s death, , acting on his understanding of Smith’s intentions, led a group of Latter-day Saints to Texas.
The Council under Brigham Young, 1845–1846
The council met for a final time with Joseph Smith as chairman on 31 May 1844. Less than a month later, Smith and his brother were murdered while awaiting trial in a jail in , Illinois. included an account of Joseph Smith’s June activities and of the murders in the minutes of the Council of Fifty.
Following Joseph Smith’s death, the Saints faced the central question of who should succeed him as president of the church. Although a number of possibilities were suggested, church members in in the immediate aftermath of the murders considered two principal alternatives. First, , who had long served as a counselor to Smith, declared that he should serve as guardian of the church. Second, , president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other members of his quorum affirmed that they had received the essential keys of authority from Joseph Smith and had been prepared by him to lead in his absence. At a conference on 8 August 1844, most Mormons in Nauvoo accepted the leadership of Young and the Twelve Apostles. A month later, Rigdon was excommunicated for making secret appointments and ordinations in opposition to the apostles’ leadership. His excommunication, however, did not end the tumult over succession. For the next several years, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Rigdon, and other claimants battled for the loyalty of Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, in other areas of the , and in Great Britain.
Initially, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles moved forward in advancing key priorities, such as resuming construction on the , without reconvening the Council of Fifty. A deteriorating political situation in , however, apparently prompted Young to call the council together again on 4 February 1845. In late January 1845, the Illinois state legislature had voted to repeal the Nauvoo city charter, depriving the Saints of their city government—including their local court system, police force, and militia. The repeal of the charter also led to an increased urgency to carry out the western measures deliberated in the council a year before.
When reconvened the council, he explained to council members that it had not “been prudent and safe to call the council together untill within a few days past.” At its first meeting under Young, the council dropped eleven members: the three non-Mormons; and one of his followers; and , both of whom had led companies of church members out of against the wishes of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and four other men whose loyalties to the Twelve were questioned. The succession of Young, the senior apostle, as standing chairman of the Council of Fifty indicated that the council would continue to operate under the church’s presiding officer, as it had under Smith. Young emphasized to the council his loyalty to his predecessor: “To carry out Josephs measures is sweeter to me than the honey or the honey comb.” He further commented that Smith had “laid out work for this church which would last them twenty years to carry out.” In meetings from February through May 1845, the council accepted new members and occasionally chose additional men to attend the council for particular assignments.
Under ’s leadership in 1845 and 1846, the council focused less on the wide-ranging discussions about millennial prophecies, the kingdom of God, and constitutionalism that had occupied it during the council’s initial months. Rather, council members focused on more pragmatic concerns, especially how to respond to the repeal of the charter, complete the Nauvoo and , and explore settlement sites. As they wrestled with the question of how to maintain order in a city of over ten thousand inhabitants without a functioning local government, council members discussed and at times implemented ideas to establish an extralegal police force, to restore city government, and to urge leaders to reinstate the charter.
In addition, as wrote in his journal in March 1845, the council increasingly looked to the West; they wanted to “seek out a location and a home where the saints can dwell in peace and health, and where they can erect the ensign & standard of liberty for the nations, and live by the laws of God without being oppressed and mobbed under a tyrannical government without protection from the laws.” Following its annexation to the in March 1845, council members no longer considered a viable option. Instead, they began gathering more information on and and sent four men on a “Western Mission” among various American Indian tribes, hoping to forge alliances with western tribes and find temporary gathering places for the Saints.
During these 1845 meetings—in the shadow of the murders of Joseph and , and with the growing realization of their tenuous situation in —council members occasionally lashed out in anger at their perceived enemies. expressed his frustration by stating that he did not “care about preaching to the gentiles any longer.” Indeed, he stated, paraphrasing , “Let the damned scoundrels be killed, let them be swept off from the earth, and then we can go and be baptized for them, easier than we can convert them.” The previous treatment of the Latter-day Saints in and and the murders of the Smiths heavily influenced Young’s rhetoric: “The gentiles have rejected the gospel; they have killed the prophets, and those who have not taken an active part in the murder all rejoice in it and say amen to it.” Rather than preach to the Gentiles, he continued, the Saints would look to the “house of Israel,” by which he meant the American Indians. Young believed that American governments had been too powerless or too corrupt to protect the Latter-day Saints’ rights, and he vowed that he would not allow himself to be taken and killed as the Smiths had been.
Both the Latter-day Saints and their opponents accepted widespread American attitudes toward community violence and vigilantism that justified using extralegal means to provide for community defense when other mechanisms failed or to enforce order on individuals or communities perceived as undesirable. The Mormons continued to be targets of extralegal vigilantism after the mob murders of the Smiths, and the Saints themselves expelled dissenters from in spring 1845.
Both sides used similar arguments to justify their actions. For example, anti-Mormon newspaper editor defended “the summary execution” of the Smith brothers that he helped instigate by arguing that “nature says to every man, ‘protect thy self, when the law of the land cannot protect.’” In a March 1845 council meeting, justified the extralegal defense of by asserting, “We have been excluded from all our rights as other citizens and we have a right to make law for ourselves and put them in force, and there is not a court of justice in these but that would justify the principle if they knew all the facts as we do.” Notwithstanding the often heated statements within the Council of Fifty, Mormon extralegal violence was typically limited to the defense of Nauvoo from outsiders—particularly after the repeal of the Nauvoo charter left the city without a police force or court system—and the coercive expulsion of dissidents. When faced with the possibility of armed conflict between the Saints and other residents, and other church leaders spoke of suffering wrong rather than doing wrong and eventually opted for a mass exodus rather than battle.
By the end of April 1845, the Council of Fifty had sent missionaries west among the American Indians and had supervised the reorganization of a municipal government in . On 10 May 1845 proposed that the council not meet again until “something of importance shall arise to call the council together.” Furthermore, Young had concerns about confidentiality, complaining, “There are some vessels in the council which are leaky.”
By the time the council reconvened on 9 September 1845, the Latter-day Saints in had begun making concrete plans for a westward exodus. At that council meeting, stated that an initial company would head west in spring 1846 and first settle “near the Great Salt Lake,” after which “in a little time we can work our way to the head of the , or the .” Initially Young and other Latter-day Saint leaders hoped that a partial evacuation of Nauvoo would suffice. However, vigilante attacks in Mormon settlements near Nauvoo during September forced revisions to the plan. Council of Fifty members also feared that the federal government might interfere with the exodus if they delayed too long. After negotiations with local and state political authorities, some of which are highlighted in the minutes of the Council of Fifty, leaders agreed to a complete evacuation of church members from Nauvoo and the surrounding area by spring 1846. During council meetings in September and October 1845, council members discussed selling or renting church-owned properties in Nauvoo, shutting down the Latter-day Saint newspapers in Nauvoo, and organizing companies for the westward trek.
Following these fall meetings, the council met again for the last two meetings recorded in the official minutes for this period, on 11 and 13 January 1846, in the attic rooms of the partially completed , where and other church leaders were in the process of performing temple ceremonies for thousands of Latter-day Saints. Records indicating that the council met two more times in —on 18 and 19 January—are included as appendixes to this volume. The January 1846 council meetings focused on the westward exodus and how to dispose of church property in Nauvoo.
The last meeting of the council recorded in the minute books occurred on 13 January 1846. On that occasion, again referred to the image of the “standard to the people” or “ensign to the nations” in relation to their imminent removal west, noting that “the Saying of the Prophets would never be verified unless the House of the Lord should be reared in the Tops of the Mountains & the Proud Banner of liberty wave over the valley’s that are within the Mountains &c I know where the spot is & I no [know] how to make the Flag.” Even though the minutes of the Nauvoo-era council end at this time, the council or its members still appear to have been engaged in organizing and leading the exodus. The council met for five brief sessions in November and December 1846 in Winter Quarters (in what later became Nebraska Territory).
Two years later, on 5 and 6 December 1848 in Salt Lake City, called together all available council members and formally reconvened the Council of Fifty. At the time, there was no government structure in the area, as Utah Territory was not officially organized until 1850. From December 1848 through 1849, and to a lesser degree in 1850 and 1851, the council thus functioned both as an ecclesiastical body and as an active, functioning government. The council briefly resumed some activity in 1867 and 1868. Under ’s leadership, the council formally reorganized again on 10 April 1880 and met through early 1885. During these later iterations of the Council of Fifty, participants looked to the original minutes from the era for guidance.
The minutes reproduced in this volume capture the principles, protocols, and activities of the Council of Fifty as it was formed and operated in . In the minutes, council members wrestled with the meaning of the kingdom of God and anticipated the fulfillment of millennial prophecies. They expressed their vision of the ideals that should guide earthly governments and constitutions, including the necessity of protecting religious minorities in a pluralistic society, and that they believed would characterize the government of the Millennium. In addition, the minutes show that the council operated as a key decision-making body from March 1844 to January 1846, helping to plan for Joseph Smith’s campaign for the presidency, seek other Latter-day Saint sites of settlement, and organize the exodus from Nauvoo. The minutes of the Council of Fifty thus shed new light on the development of Latter-day Saint beliefs and on the history of Nauvoo and the church during this critical era.
  1. 1

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 18 Apr. 1844.  

  2. 2

    See especially Klaus J. Hansen, Quest for Empire: The Political Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty in Mormon History ([East Lansing]: Michigan State University Press, 1967); D. Michael Quinn, “The Council of Fifty and Its Members, 1844 to 1945,” BYU Studies 20, no. 2 (Winter 1980): 163–197; Andrew F. Ehat, “‘It Seems Like Heaven Began on Earth’: Joseph Smith and the Constitution of the Kingdom of God,” BYU Studies 20, no. 3 (Spring 1980): 253–280; and Jedediah S. Rogers, The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2014).  

  3. 3

    Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 2:154.  

    Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. Translated by Henry Reeve. 2 vols. London: Saunders and Otley, 1835.

  4. 4

    Revelation, July 1828 [D&C 3:20]; Revelation, Sept. 1830–B [D&C 28:8].  

  5. 5

    Title Page of Book of Mormon, ca. Early June 1829; see, for example, Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 117, 144, 487–488, 500–501 [2 Nephi 30:3–6; Enos 1:12–16; 3 Nephi 16:7–15; 21:12–29].  

  6. 6

    Walker, “Seeking the ‘Remnant,’” 23–29.  

    Walker, Ronald W. “Seeking the ‘Remnant’: The Native American during the Joseph Smith Period.” Journal of Mormon History 19 (Spring 1993): 1–33.

  7. 7

    Richard W. Cummins, Delaware and Shawnee Agency, to William Clark, [St. Louis, MO], 15 Feb. 1831, U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Central Superintendency, Records, vol. 6, p. 114; see also Thomas B. Marsh and Elizabeth Godkin Marsh to Lewis Abbott and Ann Marsh Abbott, [ca. 11 Apr. 1831], Abbott Family Collection, CHL.  

    U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Central Superintendency. Records, 1807–1855. Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Also available at

    Abbott Family Collection, 1831–2000. CHL. MS 23457.

  8. 8

    [John L. O’Sullivan], “Annexation,” United States Magazine, and Democratic Review 17, no. 85 (July–Aug. 1845): 5; JS, Journal, 20 Feb. 1844; Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 517–519.  

    [O’Sullivan, John L.] “Annexation.” United States Magazine, and Democratic Review 17, no. 85 (July–Aug. 1845): 5–10.

    Bushman, Richard Lyman. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. With the assistance of Jed Woodworth. New York: Knopf, 2005.

  9. 9

    Daniel 2:44–45; “The Government of God,” Times and Seasons, 15 July 1842, 3:857; Council of Fifty, “Record,” 19 and 26 Mar. 1844.  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  10. 10

    See, for example, Isaiah 11:12; 13:2; 18:3; 30:17; 31:9; 59:19; 62:10; Jeremiah 4:6, 21; 51:12, 27; and Zechariah 9:16.  

  11. 11

    Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 115 [2 Nephi 29:2]; Revelation, 11 Sept. 1831 [D&C 64:42]; see also “The Millennium,” LDS Millennial Star, Aug. 1840, 1:75; and “To the Church of Christ Abroad in the Earth,” The Evening and the Morning Star, June 1832, [6].  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  12. 12

    JS et al., Liberty, MO, to Edward Partridge and the Church, Quincy, IL, ca. 22 Mar. 1839, in Revelations Collection, CHL.  

  13. 13

    Revelation, May 1829–A [D&C 11:23].  

  14. 14

    Revelation, 30 Oct. 1831 [D&C 65:2].  

  15. 15

    Revelation, 2 Aug. 1833–A [D&C 97:14].  

  16. 16

    “The Government of God,” Times and Seasons, 15 July 1842, 3:856–857; see also Ehat, “Joseph Smith and the Constitution of the Kingdom of God,” 253–280.  

    Ehat, Andrew F. “‘It Seems like Heaven Began on Earth’: Joseph Smith and the Constitution of the Kingdom of God.” BYU Studies 20 (Spring 1980): 253–280.

  17. 17

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 19 Mar. 1844.  

  18. 18

    JS, Journal, 29 Jan. 1844.  

  19. 19

    See, for example, JS, Journal, 4 and 8 Mar. 1844.  

  20. 20

    Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Minutes, 23 Feb. 1844; see also JS, Journal, 20 Feb. 1844; and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Minutes, 21 Feb. 1844.  

    Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Minutes, 1840–1844. CHL.

  21. 21

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 10 Mar. 1844.  

  22. 22

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 10 Mar. 1844.  

  23. 23

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Mar. 1844.  

  24. 24

    See Record of the Twelve, 14 Feb. and 2 May 1835.  

  25. 25

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Mar. 1844.  

  26. 26

    Minutes, 17 Feb. 1834; Darowski, “Seeking After the Ancient Order,” 97–113.  

    Darowski, Joseph F. “Seeking After the Ancient Order: Conferences and Councils in Early Church Governance, 1830–34.” In Brigham Young University Church History Symposium; A Firm Foundation: Church Organization and Administration, edited by David J. Whittaker and Arnold K. Garr, 97–113. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011.

  27. 27

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Mar. 1844.  

  28. 28

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 18 Apr. 1844.  

  29. 29

    List of Council Members, 31 May 1844.  

  30. 30

    Clayton, Journal, 31 May 1844.  

    Clayton, William. Journals, 1842–1845. CHL.

  31. 31

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 25 Apr. 1844.  

  32. 32

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Mar. 1844.  

  33. 33

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 4 Apr. 1844.  

  34. 34

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Mar. 1844.  

  35. 35

    See Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Jan. 1846; and Minutes, 27 Dec. 1846, Council of Fifty, Papers, 1844–1885, CHL.  

    Council of Fifty. Papers, 1844–1885. CHL.

  36. 36

    See, for example, “Rules of Order of the City Council,” 22 Jan. 1842, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL; and Rules of the House, H.R. Report no. 3, 28th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 1, 3, 4, secs. 1, 23, 24, 35 (1844).  

    Nauvoo, IL. Records, 1841–1845. CHL. MS 16800.

    Rules of the House. H.R. Report no. 3, 28th Cong., 1st Sess. (1844).

  37. 37

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Mar. 1844.  

  38. 38

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 14 Mar. 1844.  

  39. 39

    Events of June 1844.  

  40. 40

    Clayton, Journal, 3 July and 18 Aug. 1844.  

    Clayton, William. Journals, 1842–1845. CHL.

  41. 41

    Source Note for Council of Fifty, “Record.”  

  42. 42

    Woodruff, Journal, 26 Nov. 1857, shorthand transcribed by LaJean Purcell Carruth.  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  43. 43

    See, for example, JS History, vol. F-1, addenda, 9; and “History of Brigham Young,” Deseret News (Salt Lake City), 24 Mar. 1858, 17.  

    Deseret News. Salt Lake City. 1850–.

  44. 44

    Franklin D. Richards, Journal, 16 Mar. 1880; see also entry for 20 Mar. 1884.  

    Richards, Franklin D. Journals, 1844–1899. Richards Family Collection, 1837–1961. CHL. MS 1215, boxes 1–5.

  45. 45

    Letter of Transfer, Salt Lake City, UT, 15 Nov. 2010, in Case File for Council of Fifty, Papers, 1844–1885, CHL.  

    Letter of Transfer, Salt Lake City, UT, 15 Nov. 2010. CHL.

  46. 46

    See the third volume of the Journals series of The Joseph Smith Papers.  

    JSP, J3 / Hedges, Andrew H., Alex D. Smith, and Brent M. Rogers, eds. Journals, Volume 3: May 1843–June 1844. Vol. 3 of the Journals series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Ronald K. Esplin and Matthew J. Grow. Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2015.

  47. 47

    Brigham Young and Willard Richards, Nauvoo, IL, to Reuben Hedlock, Liverpool, England, 3 May 1844, draft, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.  

    Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878. CHL. CR 1234 1.

  48. 48

    Clayton, Journal, 1 Jan. 1845.  

    Clayton, William. Journals, 1842–1845. CHL.

  49. 49

    Letter to Presidential Candidates, 4 Nov. 1843, draft, underlining in original.  

  50. 50

    Henry Clay to JS, 15 Nov. 1843; John C. Calhoun, Fort Hill, SC, to JS, 2 Dec. 1843, copy; Lewis Cass, Detroit, MI, to JS, Nauvoo, IL, 9 Dec. 1843, JS Collection, CHL.  

  51. 51

    JS, Nauvoo, IL, to John C. Calhoun, Fort Hill, SC, 2 Jan. 1844, draft, JS Collection, CHL.  

  52. 52

    JS, Journal, 29 Jan. 1844.  

  53. 53

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 21 Mar. 1844. On the campaign, see Robertson, “Campaign and the Kingdom,” 147–180.  

    Robertson, Margaret C. “The Campaign and the Kingdom: The Activities of the Electioneers in Joseph Smith’s Presidential Campaign.” BYU Studies 39 no. 3 (2000): 147–180.

  54. 54

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 6 May 1844.  

  55. 55

    “Jeffersonian Meeting,” Prophet, 15 June 1844, [3], emphasis in original.  

    The Prophet. New York City, NY. May 1844–Dec. 1845.

  56. 56

    JS, “The Globe,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1844, 5:510, emphasis in original. On the development of the concept of theodemocracy, see Mason, “God and the People: Theodemocracy in Nineteenth-Century Mormonism,” 349–375.  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Mason, Patrick Q. “God and the People: Theodemocracy in Nineteenth-Century Mormonism.” Journal of Church and State 53, no. 3 (Sept. 2011): 349–375.

  57. 57

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Apr. 1844.  

  58. 58

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Apr. 1844.  

  59. 59

    See, for example, McIntire, Notebook, [20].  

    McIntire, William Patterson. Notebook, 1840–1845. CHL. MS 1014.

  60. 60

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Apr. 1844.  

  61. 61

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 14 Mar. 1844. A circa March 1832 Joseph Smith revelation identified the “name of God in pure Language” as “Awman” (also spelled “Ahman” in other sources) and called Christ the “Son Awman” and the “greatest of all the parts of Awman.” (Sample of Pure Language, between ca. 4 and ca. 20 Mar. 1832, in Revelation Book 1; see also Council of Fifty, “Record,” 5 Apr. 1844; and Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 18 Feb. 1855, 2:342.)  

    Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855–1886.

  62. 62

    See, for example, JS, Journal, 13 May 1844; Council of Fifty, “Record,” 18 Apr. 1844; and Almon Babbitt, Macedonia, IL, to JS et al., Nauvoo, IL, 5 May 1844, Council of Fifty, Papers, 1844–1885, CHL. As noted above, Clayton titled his bound volumes of minutes the “Record of the Council of Fifty or Kingdom of God.”  

    Council of Fifty. Papers, 1844–1885. CHL.

  63. 63

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 19 Mar. 1844.  

  64. 64

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Apr. 1844.  

  65. 65

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 25 Apr. 1844.  

  66. 66

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Apr. 1844.  

  67. 67

    Revelation 5:10; Kimball, Journal, 26 Dec. 1845; see also Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76:56].  

    Kimball, Heber C. Journals, 1837–1848. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL.

  68. 68

    JS, Journal, 23 July 1843; see also JS, Journal, 27 Aug. 1843; Ehat, “Joseph Smith’s Council of Fifty,” 9–11; and Willard Richards, Nauvoo, IL, to Brigham Young, New York City, NY, 18–19 July 1843, Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.  

    Ehat, Andrew F. “Joseph Smith’s Council of Fifty: Quest for Empire or Quest for Refuge?” Unpublished paper. 7 Apr. 1980. Copy in editors’ possession.

    Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878. CHL. CR 1234 1.

  69. 69

    Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 7 Apr. 1844.  

    Historian’s Office. General Church Minutes, 1839–1877. CHL

  70. 70

    Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 8 Apr. 1844.  

    General Church Minutes, 1839–1877. CHL. CR 100 318.

  71. 71

    “Resolutions,” Nauvoo Expositor, 7 June 1844, [2].  

    Nauvoo Expositor. Nauvoo, IL. 1844.

  72. 72

    Davis, Authentic Account of the Massacre of Joseph Smith, 7, emphasis in original.  

    Davis, George T. M. An Authentic Account of the Massacre of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, and Hyrum Smith, His Brother, together with a Brief History of the Rise and Progress of Mormonism, and All the Circumstances Which Led to Their Death. St. Louis: Chambers and Knapp, 1844.

  73. 73

    Message of the Governor of the State of Illinois, 5.  

    Message of the Governor of the State of Illinois, in Relation to the Disturbances in Hancock County, December, 21, 1844. Springfield, IL: Walters and Weber, 1844.

  74. 74

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 26 Mar. 1844.  

  75. 75

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 18 Apr. 1844.  

  76. 76

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 3 May 1844.  

  77. 77

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 6 May 1844.  

  78. 78

    See Van Wagenen, Texas Republic and the Mormon Kingdom of God; and Johnson, Polygamy on the Pedernales.  

    Van Wagenen, Michal Scott. The Texas Republic and the Mormon Kingdom of God. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2002.

    Johnson, Melvin C. Polygamy on the Pedernales: Lyman Wight’s Mormon Villages in Antebellum Texas, 1845–1858. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2006.

  79. 79

    Events of June 1844.  

  80. 80

    Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 30 Jan. 1845.  

    General Church Minutes, 1839–1877. CHL. CR 100 318.

  81. 81

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 4 Feb. 1845.  

  82. 82

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 4 Feb. 1845.  

  83. 83

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 1 Mar. 1845.  

  84. 84

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 25 Mar. 1845; “Notice,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 26 Mar. 1845, [3]; Clayton, Journal, 15 Apr. 1845.  

    Nauvoo Neighbor. Nauvoo, IL. 1843–1845.

    Clayton, William. Journals, 1842–1845. CHL.

  85. 85

    Clayton, Journal, 1 Mar. 1845.  

    Clayton, William. Journals, 1842–1845. CHL.

  86. 86

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Apr. 1845.  

  87. 87

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Mar. 1845.  

  88. 88

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 18 Mar. 1845.  

  89. 89

    See Gilje, Rioting in America, chap. 3; and Grimsted, American Mobbing.  

    Gilje, Paul A. Rioting in America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

    Grimsted, David. American Mobbing, 1828–1861: Toward Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

  90. 90

    [Thomas Sharp], “To the Public,” Warsaw Signal, 10 July 1844, [2].  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

  91. 91

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 1 Mar. 1845.  

  92. 92

    Historian’s Office, Reports of Speeches, 6 Apr. 1845; “To Our Patrons,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 29 Oct. 1845, [2].  

    Historian’s Office. Reports of Speeches, 1845–1885. CHL.

    Nauvoo Neighbor. Nauvoo, IL. 1843–1845.

  93. 93

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 10 May 1845.  

  94. 94

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 9 Sept. 1845.  

  95. 95

    Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 and 13 Jan. 1846.  

  96. 96

    Isaiah 5:26; 49:22; Lee, Journal, 13 Jan. 1846, 79.  

    Lee, John D. Journals, 1844–1853. CHL.

  97. 97

    Minutes, 12 and 13 Nov. 1846; 25–27 Dec. 1846, Council of Fifty, Papers, 1844–1885, CHL.  

    Council of Fifty. Papers, 1844–1885. CHL.

  98. 98

    Minutes, 5 and 6 Dec. 1848, Council of Fifty, Papers, 1844–1885, CHL.  

    Council of Fifty. Papers, 1844–1885. CHL.

  99. 99

    In this era the council was frequently referred to as the “Legislative Council of the Great Salt Lake City.” (Minutes, 17 Feb. 1849, Council of Fifty, Papers, 1844–1885, CHL.)  

    Council of Fifty. Papers, 1844–1885. CHL.

  100. 100

    Roll, 23 Jan. 1867–9 Oct. 1868, Council of Fifty, Papers, 1845–1883, CHL.  

    Council of Fifty. Papers, 1844–1885. CHL.

  101. 101

    Franklin D. Richards, Journal, 10 Apr. 1880; Minutes, 27 Jan. 1885, Council of Fifty, Papers, 1844–1885, CHL.  

    Richards, Franklin D. Journals, 1844–1899. Richards Family Collection, 1837–1961. CHL. MS 1215, boxes 1–5.

    Council of Fifty. Papers, 1844–1885. CHL.

  102. 102

    See, for example, Franklin D. Richards, Journal, 16 Mar. 1880; and Minutes, 24 June 1882, Council of Fifty, Papers, 1844–1885, CHL.  

    Richards, Franklin D. Journals, 1844–1899. Richards Family Collection, 1837–1961. CHL. MS 1215, boxes 1–5.

    Council of Fifty. Papers, 1844–1885. CHL.