General Conference Minutes, and JS, Discourse, , Hancock Co., IL, 6–8 Apr. 1840. Featured version published in “Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, Apr. 1840, 91–95. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
From 6 to 8 April 1840, JS presided over a general of the held in the , Illinois, area. According to one newspaper account, between two and three thousand church members were present. The exact location of the conference is not given in the minutes, but it may have been held in a grove near ’s home in the southwest part of the peninsula. At the time of this conference, JS had been in Commerce for just over a month after returning from his trip to . The conference considered the results of that trip, especially the report of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary that directed the Saints to look to the state of and its courts for redress. Because the wrongs against the Saints in Missouri were not “committed by any of the officers of the , or under the authority of its Government in any manner whatever,” the committee concluded that the federal government was not authorized to intervene. Believing that they had already sought restitution in Missouri unsuccessfully, the Saints at the conference appointed a committee to draft a response to the Senate report. The resolutions adopted by the committee were then presented to the conference and ordered to be published.
The conference also appointed and , two members of the , to fulfill a mission to the Jews in , Europe, Constantinople, and . Hyde’s appointment came after he explained that the Spirit had instructed him to undertake a mission to the tribe of Judah. Hyde later stated that in March 1840 he saw a vision of , , Constantinople, and Jerusalem and was instructed by the Spirit that these cities were “the field of your labors.” Having obtained recommendations from the conference, Hyde and Page left on their mission a week later.
In addition to this business, the conference considered disciplinary cases of several church members—in fact, so many that ultimately the conference resolved to no longer consider such cases in general conferences. Outcomes of these cases included resolving long-standing charges against and accepting back into fellowship , a former counselor to JS in the who had been excommunicated in March 1839.
JS spoke at least three different times during the conference. He exhorted attendees to be charitable to those who had transgressed and reported on the church’s finances and his mission to . In what appears to be a longer discourse given on 8 April, he explicated a passage from the book of John and instructed the Saints on the necessity of church members gathering to the area, to , or to wherever the Spirit directed.
As clerk of the conference, took the minutes, the original of which are no longer extant. The minutes were published in the April 1840 issue of the Times and Seasons.
Franklin D. Richards noted in a July 1840 letter that a “meeting ground” existed in “the Grove just above Elder Rigdons.” A May 1840 newspaper account of the meeting stated that the conference was “held in a grove” and that it had “the appearance of a Methodist Camp Meeting, with their tents, &c. &c.” (Franklin D. Richards, Walnut Grove, IL, to Levi Richards, West Stockbridge, MA, 21 July 1840, CHL; “The Mormons,” North American and Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 30 May 1840, .)
Richards, Franklin D. Letter, Walnut Grove, IL, to Levi Richards, East Stockbridge, MA, 21 July 1840. CHL.
North American and Daily Advertiser. Philadelphia. 1839–1845.
this meeting be tendered to the citizens of the State of , for their kind, liberal, and generous conduct towards us; and that we call upon them, as well as every patriot in this vast republic, to aid us in all lawful endeavors, to obtain redress for the injuries we have sustained.
Resolved, 8th. That the thanks of this meeting be tendered to the delegation of , for their bold, manly, noble and independent course they have taken, in presenting our case before the authorities of the , amid misrepresentation, contumely and abuse which characterized us in our suffering condition.
Resolved, 9th. That the thanks of this meeting be tendered to of , of for their sympathy, aid, and protection.— And to all other Honerable Gentlemen who have assisted us in our endeavors to obtain redress.
Resolved, 10th. That Joseph Smith jr. , and , the delegates appointed by this , to visit the city of to present our sufferings before the authorities of the , accept of the thanks of this meeting, for the prompt and efficient manner in which they have discharged their duty; and that they be requested in the behalf of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, throughout the world, to continue to use their endeavors to obtain redress for a suffering people; and if all hopes of obtaining satisfaction (for the injuries done us:) be entirely blasted, that they then appeal our case to the court of Heaven, believing, that the great Jehovah, who rules over the destiny of nations, and who notices the falling sparrow, will undoubtedly redress our wrongs, and ere long avenge us of our adversaries.
It was then resolved, that the report of the committee on Judiciary, as well as the foregoing preamble and resolutions, be published in the papers.
Resolved, That a committee of seven be appointed to investigate the recommendations, those persons may have, who wish to obtain an to the ministry and to ordain such as may be thought worthy. That , Joseph Wood and , compose said committee.
Resolved, That this meeting feel satisfied with the proceedings of the with regard to the sales of town property &c. and that they be requested to continue in their agency.
Resolved, That this meeting adjourn for one hour.
met pursuant to adjournment, after singing the President arose and read the 3d chap. of John’s Gospel after which prayer was offered by elder .
The President commenced making observations on the different subjects embraced in the chapter particularly on the 3d, 4th, 5th verses illustrating it with a very beautiful and striking figure, and throwing a flood of light on the subjects which were brought up to review.
He then spoke to the elders respecting their mission, and advised those who went into the world, to preach the gospel, to leave their families provided for, with the necessaries of life; and to teach the as set forth in the Holy scriptures.
That it had been wisdom to, for the greater body of the church to keep on this side of the , in order that a foundation might be established in this place, but that now, it was the priviledge of the saints to occupy the lands in the , or wherever the spirit might lead them.
That he did not wish to have any political influence, but wished the saints to use their political franchise to the best of their knowledge.
He then stated that since had been appointed to visit the Jewish people, he had felt an impression that it would be well for Elder to accompany him on his mission.
It was resolved, that Elder be appointed to accompany Elder on his mission, and that he have proper credentials given him.
It was then resolved, that as a great part of the time of the conference had been taken up with charges against individuals which might have been settled by the different authorities of the church that in future no such cases be brought before the conferences.
The committee on ordination, reported that they had ordained thirty one [p. 94]
JS, Sidney Rigdon, and Elias Higbee called on the Illinois congressional delegation—Zadok Casey, John Reynolds, John Todd Stuart, John M. Robinson, and Richard M. Young—to help them with their claims for redress. The delegation advised the men, and on 28 January 1840, Young introduced the church’s memorial to the Senate. In a letter to church leaders in Commerce, JS and Higbee referred to the congressional delegates as “worthy men” who had treated them “with the greatest kindness, and are ready to do all that is in their power.” (Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 119; Letter to Hyrum Smith and Nauvoo High Council, 5 Dec. 1839; Journal of the Senate of the United States, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., 28 Jan. 1840, 138.)
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–2005, the Continental Congress, September 5, 1774, to October 21, 1788, and the Congress of the United States, from the First through the One Hundred Eighth Congresses, March 4, 1789, to January 3, 2005, inclusive. Edited by Andrew R. Dodge and Betty K. Koed. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005.
Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Being the First Session of the Twenty-Sixth Congress, Begun and Held at the City of Washington, December 2, 1839, and in the Sixty-Fourth Year of the Independence of the Said United States. Washington DC: Blair and Rives, 1839.
A December 1833 revelation instructed the Saints to seek redress from courts, governors, and the president of the United States. If those efforts all failed, the revelation continued, “then will the Lord arise and come forth out of his hiding place & in his fury vex the nation and in his hot displeasure and in his fierce ander [anger] in his time will cut off these wicked unfaithful and unjust stewards.” (Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:86–90].)
The resolutions were published in the Quincy Whig on 30 May 1840. The report of the Committee on the Judiciary was published in Commerce in the Times and Seasons. (Robert B. Thompson, Nauvoo, IL, 7 May 1840, Letter to the Editor, Quincy [IL] Whig, 30 May 1840, ; “Important from Washington,” Times and Seasons, Mar. 1840, 1:74–75.)
Quincy Whig. Quincy, IL. 1838–1856.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Accusations of voting as a bloc followed the Saints after their exodus from Missouri. (See, for example, “The Mormons,” Iowa News [Dubuque, Iowa Territory], 1 June 1839, ; “The Mormons for Harrison,” Peoria [IL] Register and North-Western Gazetteer, 17 Apr. 1840, ; Letter from Elias Higbee, 22 Feb. 1840; and “The Mormons,” North American and Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 30 May 1840, .)
Iowa News. Dubuque, Iowa Territory. 1837–1841.
Peoria Register and North-Western Gazetteer. Peoria, IL. 1837–1843.
North American and Daily Advertiser. Philadelphia. 1839–1845.
Hyde, Orson. A Voice from Jerusalem, or a Sketch of the Travels and Ministry of Elder Orson Hyde, Missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to Germany, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. Liverpool: P. P. Pratt, 1842.