License, 21 March 1836

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

THIS Certifies that Joseph Smith, Jr. has been received into the , organized on the sixth of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred, and thirty, and has been an according to the rules and regulations of said church, and is duly authorized to preach the gospel, agreeably to the authority of that office.
From the satisfactory evidence which we have of his good moral character, and his zeal for the cause of righteousness, and diligent desire to persuade men to forsake evil and embrace truth, we confidently recommend him to all candid and upright people, as a worthy member of society.
We, therefore, in the name, and by the authority of this church, grant unto this, our worthy brother in the Lord, this letter of commendation as a proof of our fellowship and esteem: praying for his success and prosperity in our Redeemers cause.
Given by the direction of a of elders of said church, assembled in , Geauga county, Ohio, this <​the​> 3rd day of March in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred, and thirty-six.
<​Pro. Tem.​>
, Clerk.
<​Pro Tempore.​>
<​, Ohio. March 21, 1836.​> [p. [1]]
<​This certifies that the within was recorded on the 21st. day of March, 1836, in , Ohio, in the Licence Records’ Book A. page 1.——​>
<​Recording Clerk.​>


  1. new scribe logo

    Underlined text with leading and trailing spaces indicates handwritten portions of the pre-printed form. Handwriting of Oliver Cowdery.  

  2. 1

    The church was organized on this date as the “Church of Christ.” The church officially changed its name in May 1834 to the “Church of the Latter Day Saints.” (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:1]; Minutes, 3 May 1834.)  

  3. 2

    The “articles and covenants of the Church of Christ,” containing the founding principles for governing the priesthood, were presented to members at the first conference of the church, held 9 June 1830 at Fayette, New York. (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830.)  

  4. 3

    These new licenses, with the wording presented in this first paragraph, could be used to demonstrate that their holders were ordained ministers of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and, therefore, eligible for licenses to perform marriages in accordance with Ohio state law. On 21 March 1836, JS’s journal states that JS “went to the printing office and prepared, a number of Elders licinses, to send by Elder [Ambrose] Palmer to the court [in] Medina County in order to obtain licenses to marry.” (JS, Journal, 21 Mar. 1836; An Act, Regulating Marriages [6 Jan. 1824], Statutes of Ohio, vol. 2, chap. 623, pp. 1407–1408; see also Historical Introduction to Marriage License for John F. Boynton and Susan Lowell, 17 Nov. 1835.)  

    The Statutes of Ohio and of the Northwestern Territory, Adopted or Enacted from 1788 to 1833 Inclusive: Together with the Ordinance of 1787; the Constitutions of Ohio and of the United States, and Various Public Instruments and Acts of Congress: Illustrated by a Preliminary Sketch of the History of Ohio; Numerous References and Notes, and Copious Indexes. 3 vols. Edited by Salmon P. Chase. Cincinnati: Corey and Fairbank, 1833–1835.

  5. new scribe logo

    Signatures of Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery.  

  6. 4

    The resolutions to regulate licenses specified that both a chairman “Pro. Tempore” and temporary clerk could sign the licenses for the standing chairman and clerk. At the meeting on 3 March 1836 when the regulations on licensing were approved, JS was appointed as the “standing chairman” and Sidney Rigdon as “chairman protem.” Frederick G. Williams served as the standing clerk to sign licenses, and the authorities of the church appointed Oliver Cowdery as clerk pro tempore. (See Minutes, 3 Mar. 1836; JS, Journal, 3 Mar. 1836.)  

  7. new scribe logo

    Endorsement and accompanying signature in the handwriting of Thomas Burdick.  

  8. 5

    This notation on the license’s verso was made in accordance with the first article of the regulations on licensing approved on 3 March 1836. That article required the recording clerk “to endorse a certificate under his own hand and signature on the back of said licences, specifying the time when & place where such license was recorded.” (Minutes, 3 Mar. 1836.)  

  9. 6

    On 24 February 1836, the day they appointed the committee to write the resolutions on licensing, the priesthood quorums appointed Thomas Burdick “to officiate as clerk to record licenses, and to receive pay for his services accordingly.” (JS, Journal, 24 Feb. 1836.)