Kirtland high council, Minutes, , Geauga Co., OH, 28 Dec. 1835. Featured version copied [between ca. 4 Apr. and ca. 16 May 1836] in Minute Book 1, pp. 131–134; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
Following the physical confrontation between JS and on 16 December, , who was a member of the Quorum of the and an active participant in the debating school in , Ohio, became outspoken in his view that JS had gotten angry simply because he had been “overpowered in argument.” Upon hearing that Babbitt was publicly slandering him, JS referred the twenty-three-year-old to the Kirtland for a disciplinary hearing.
Despite having been reproved by church leaders several months earlier, was presumably in good standing with his quorum and the in December 1835. During the previous months, Babbitt had witnessed two major confrontations between JS and . He was present during the 29 October trial of and Mary Cahoon Elliott at which JS and William engaged in a heated verbal altercation. He also appears to have participated in the 16 December debate that provoked the brothers’ fistfight, and his ongoing comments about JS’s actions that evening prompted the 28 December council meeting featured here.
After the council deliberated the charges, it ruled that had “spoken things falsely to the injury” of JS and that he needed to acknowledge his error publicly. Though the minutes indicate that Babbitt confessed to the satisfaction of most of the council members in attendance, the charges were not fully resolved during the 28 December meeting. According to JS’s journal, the council elected to adjourn the meeting without a full confession from Babbitt after “parleying with him a long time, and granting him every indulgence.” During the next council meeting, held on 2 January 1836, Babbitt fully confessed to the charges and was subsequently “restored to fellowship in the Church.”
In mid-August, Charles C. Rich preferred charges against Babbitt for failing to observe the church’s health code (the Word of Wisdom) and for making statements that de-emphasized the doctrines contained in the Book of Mormon. Babbitt confessed to and apologized for breaking the Word of Wisdom but told the council that he had “taught the Book of Mormon & commandments as he had thought to be wisdom.” The council reproved him and offered “good instruction.” (Minute Book 1, 19 Aug. 1835.)
Minutes, 2 Jan. 1836. In his journal, JS confirmed that Babbitt “confessed the charges which I prefered against him in a previous council, and was received into fellowship.” (JS, Journal, 2 Jan. 1836.)
President then rose and delivered the decision. That shall confess that for the want of conformity to the spirit of God he has let the adversary get the possession of his heart, in consequence of which, he has spoken things falsely to the injury of J. Smith Junr, and by injuring him he has insulted the feelings of the and that he shall confess publicly to the satisfaction of his brethren.
This decision was confirmed by the whole council. rose and confessed that he was to blame, for speaking about Brother Smith as he did, & that he said him them in anger, And that he never meant to rise up in rebelliong against the church government of the church. And that in a bad spirit he said what was proved and sees it. was wrong to talk as he did about brother J. Smith, and that he thought he would give B. J. Smith as good as he sent, as he did.
confesses that he has injured J. S. character and is sorry for it, but is not willing to confess that he lied, and cannot confess all that has said in his speech Says he knows this council says he has done wrong and is willing to confess it. The decision is correct, confessed to all present, the charges above stated to the satisfaction of most of the brethren present, [p. 134]