Recommendation from Nauvoo High Council, 27 October 1839
high council, Recommendation, for JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 27 Oct. 1839;handwriting of and ; signatures of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and ; one page; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, Record Group 233, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC. Includes dockets.
One leaf, measuring 12 × 7½ inches (30 × 19 cm). In March 1840, collected all of the papers submitted to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in support of the church’s memorial to Congress and returned them to , Illinois. This recommendation was presumably still with that collection of documents when subsequent church delegations resubmitted the documents with additional petitions to the federal government. Congress apparently stored this recommendation with other documents it received in the 1840s relative to the church’s ongoing petitioning efforts. Those records were transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration sometime after its creation in 1934. Since then, the National Archives and Records Administration has had continuous custody of the document.
On 27 October 1839, the wrote a letter of recommendation for JS to take with him to . Five months earlier, a May 1839 at , Illinois, had appointed an of the . Rigdon was to meet with president and Congress to present the case that the expulsion of church members from had violated their constitutional rights. The conference hoped that by appealing to the federal government directly, the Saints would receive restitution for the property that had been confiscated in Missouri. It appears that sometime between Rigdon’s appointment in May and a general conference of the church held 5–7 October 1839, it was decided that JS would accompany Rigdon. The minutes of the October conference record the decision that would go with Rigdon and JS.
On 21 October, the newly formed high council reaffirmed JS’s appointment to join and , and the high council then voted to provide letters of recommendation for the three men. Accordingly, wrote this recommendation for JS on 27 October, and the high council signed it the following day. The church’s four added their signatures, but it is unclear whether they did so at the same meeting. The recommendation spoke to JS’s upstanding character and certified that he was an agent of the church authorized to present to the president and Congress the sufferings of church members at the hands of the people and government of . JS likely included this document with the other letters of recommendation he and Higbee presented to during their meeting on 29 November 1839. Whereas Van Buren kept the other letters with his own records, it appears that JS retained possession of this document. After JS met with Van Buren, this recommendation and other documents were submitted to Congress.
Letter to Hyrum Smith and Nauvoo High Council, 5 Dec. 1839. That Van Buren received and retained the other letters of recommendation is evident by their inclusion in the core documents of the Martin Van Buren Papers, which were donated to the Library of Congress by Van Buren’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter. (West, Papers of Martin Van Buren: Guide and Index, 15; West, Calendar of the Papers of Martin Van Buren, 381–382.)
West, Lucy Fisher, ed. The Papers of Martin Van Buren: Guide and Index to General Correspon- dence and Miscellaneous Documents. Alexandria, VA: Chadwyck-Healey, 1989.
West, Elizabeth Howard. Calendar of the Papers of Martin Van Buren. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1910.
To all persons whom this may concern— Or to whom it may appear— This is to certify that we the subscribers hereof who are a Council in and for the — chosen & appointed by the Said Church to transact certain Church business relative to the concerns of the said church as aforesaid do hereby Reccommend Joseph Smith Junr the bearer hereof to be a true & trusty man who we consider worthy of our best Confidence & trust as a man of integrity truth and sobriety— and think him entitled to general esteem from all with whom he is acquainted— We feel it to be our priviledge & pleasure <to intrust> to his care the care and management & transacting for us the said Church any and all business & matters that may be needed to be done and performed with his Excellency the as also the Congress of the in representing to them him his Excellency & them the Congress the abuse wrongs— Sufferings & Exilement from our homes & from the State of by the people thereof—
Hancock Co. Ill— Octr. 27th 1839
We the undersigned do cordially Join in the above sentiment