On 8 April 1838, the second day of a quarterly church conference held in , Missouri, the Saints passed a resolution that a member of the should sign all for the church’s officers. The church issued licenses to its officers to use when traveling, providing proof that they were legitimate officers in good standing. At first, these licenses were handwritten; later, the church printed license forms upon which information, including the officer’s name and the signatures of those authorizing the license, could be added by hand after the officer was ordained. According to the licensing reforms adopted in 1836, all licenses were to be authorized with the signatures of the chairman and the clerk of the conference in which the officer was ordained. When this policy was established, JS was appointed as the church’s licensing chairman, with , who was a counselor in the First Presidency, appointed as the licensing clerk. Later, , of the church in , was appointed as the licensing chairman for licenses issued there, and was appointed as the licensing clerk. In February 1838, when the members of the presidency were removed from office, they were also rejected as licensing officers. and were appointed to replace the Zion presidency as presidents pro tempore and to serve as licensing officers until JS’s arrival. When JS arrived in Missouri, he retained Marsh and Patten as presidents over the church in Zion, but JS and his counselors in the First Presidency assumed the role of licensing officers. This resolution may have been part of the general effort to address the recent dissent of some church members against JS. The resolution ensured that only leaders who supported JS would receive valid licenses.
Sometime after the conference, noted the resolution in a license record book. The record book begins with a note regarding the appointment of the committee that drafted the March 1836 licensing reforms. Because the 8 April resolution revised the reforms of 1836, Robinson may have added the note about the 8 April resolution in the record book to clarify that the 1836 policy had been revised. Robinson’s note does not match the language of the resolution as recorded in the minutes of the conference, and the note adds the detail that Robinson was appointed as the licensing clerk. The note, therefore, is not a transcribed excerpt from the minutes of the conference but a documentary production in its own right. The note bears the date of 6 April 1838, when a meeting was held to commemorate the anniversary of the church’s organization, to conduct church business, and to perform . However, the resolution was actually made on 8 April, during the two-day quarterly conference that followed the anniversary meeting. Although the formatting of the note—which presents the date on its own line like a dateline—seems to indicate that the resolution was passed on 6 April, the wording may be understood to mean that any other form of licensing would be considered fraudulent after 6 April—the start of meetings in which new leaders were appointed. The note regarding the resolution may also carry a 6 April date because church conferences that lasted more than one day were often dated in church records with only the first day of the conference. Although the minutes of the two meetings identify only the 7–8 April meeting as the quarterly conference, in Robinson’s note the anniversary meeting was considered part of the “general Conference.” The minutes of the 7–8 April conference specify that the resolution was moved, seconded, and carried on 8 April. Robinson probably inscribed the note shortly after the 7–8 April conference. The latest possible copying date was apparently 1 June 1838, the day he received the first new license and copied it into the record book just beneath the note. This license and the licenses that follow in the record book manifest that the resolution of the conference was followed in the ensuing months.
Voted by a general of the of the , assembled in Mo. April 6th 1838. That all hereafter Should be Signed by one of the of the Church as Prest. & the general Recorder as Clerk. And all others, of course will be concidered fraud after this Date
This phrasing may indicate that previously issued licenses were no longer valid. The licensing reforms of March 1836 included an article requesting all previous license holders to turn in their old licenses and receive new ones issued under the new regulations. (Minutes, 3 Mar. 1836.)
Although Hyrum Smith’s name is affixed to this resolution as a member of the First Presidency of the church, he was not present at the conference. Smith, who was moving from Ohio to Missouri, departed Kirtland in March and did not arrive at Far West until late May. JS, Rigdon, or Robinson may have signed for Hyrum Smith in his absence. It is also possible that the inscribed names of the First Presidency do not represent signatures but that Robinson added the names to the written resolution to represent their authority as the presiding officers of the conference in which the resolution was passed or to represent their authority as the new licensing officers named in the resolution. (Hyrum Smith, Commerce, IL, to “the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Dec. 1839, in Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:21; O’Driscoll, Hyrum Smith, 167–170.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
O'Driscoll, Jeffrey S. Hyrum Smith: A Life of Integrity. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003.