Minutes, 21 December 1843

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Thursday December 21— 1843. 12 o clock, Adjourned Council
Names of members called, C[ouncilor] was chosen presidnt protem in mayors absence prayer by . Minutes of last council read and approved
The committee appointed to visit concerning a site for a jail Reported that would give 3/4[th] of a Lot on parly st or, or 1 Lot on Sidney & Back st for the purpose of building a jail. Deeding the same to the [p. 27] [blank] [blank] on conditions the city should occupy said lot for said <​said​> purpose.—
Voted that the same committe proceed to select the Lot & procure a deed <​title​> of <​for​> the same,
moved the committee <​be ins[t]ructed to​> select the whole <​whole​> Lot on <​Sidney and Back Street​>
proposd the 3/4. Lot. Mayor said that would depend on the Location. The object was to keep prisoners, and had better be in the most public place.
proposed the most valuable Lot, stought [thought] the fractional Lot was the most valuable.
thought the full lot was equally va[l]uable with a stone quarry thereon,
Motion carried for selecting the full Lot.—
Claims of — for Burying certain individuals &c <​and furnishing a coffin.​> to the amount of $25,00 $29,00, read and refered to the Committee <​on claims.—​>
The Committe Reported fav[or]ably and that the account be allowed. Report a[c]cepted.— and claims allowed. and To be paid out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.
An ordinance was reported by the committe to memoria[l]ize congress. Read. & Report accepted,
And the reports of the ordered to a second reading. Read by C. .
moved an amendment, “the,” erased, and this inserted.—
proposed an additional Section of <​to​> the ordinance requiring the troops to obey the orders of the Mayor in case of insurrection
made raised a query, to which replied and the 4th section was added to the ordinance. The mayor suggested an amendment of perpetual succession. proposed an amendment to add “the nearest troops,” related an anecdote of concerning Owens, and objected to the word contiguous, &, Mayor concurred. in
suggested that we <​will​> have a right to a garrison arsenal &c when if the ordinance pass.
Motiond by C A & carried that the memorial & ordin[an]ce, be forwarded to Congress—— [p. 28]
Motiond & seconded <​and carried​> that C. be delegated to prese[n]t the same to Congress.
Mayor proposed a combind delegation of the Repres[en]tatives of , in presenting the bill.
An Ordinance to prevent unlawful search or seizure of person or property by foreign process in the city of read twice,— 3 time by its tittle & passed. satisfied with its title.
Mayor suggested the propriety of making all coloured people free,— so that the[y] cannot be carried out of the , unless guilty of crime,
suggested the propriety of giving instructions to the committee to bring in an ordinance concerning the Registry of deeds.—
Charles Warner had leave & spoke, enquiring the reason of his removal from the office of City auctioner,—
The Mayor explained also
Warner asked leave to pay auction tax in treasury orders — objected; spoke. thought Warners claim had priority. thought there was no action called for,
Motioned and Carried that the be instructed to give C. Warnes s orders <​for services rendered the city priority​> priority, in payment
resigned his appointment office <​Elect​> as City Auctioneer, & <​Charles​> Warner— was <​re​> duly <​re-​>elected City Auctioner
Motiond & seconded and carried that be Marshal of the for the , expecting soon to <​leave <​the ​>​> was duly elected Marshall of the ,
, spoke of the duties of a Marshal— &c
spoke, The Mayor gave instruction to the & polic[e]men— to see that all carrion is removed, that all <​public​> houses are kept in order,— stops boys fighting, prevent children floting off on the ice, correct any thing out of order; like a father,
resigned his office as assessor & collector to with other approbation of the council, [p. 29]
The Mayor offered to build a jail if they would leave it to him, and he was authorized so to do
The Mayor referred to the statutes.— and the criminel code of the .
moved & carri[e]d <​unoninosly [unanimously]​> that the old committee on the <​ be dropped on the committee on the​> criminal code be droppedf. & C. Substituted.—
The Mayor proposed as soon as opportunity presents we vote for our own Court house &c—
<​3 oclock​> Adjourned to next regular meeting.— [p. 30]


  1. 1

    According to the meeting’s attendance record, those present were city councilors Hyrum Smith, John Taylor, Orson Pratt, William W. Phelps (acting on behalf of Sylvester Emmons), Heber C. Kimball, Daniel Spencer, and Brigham Young; aldermen Orson Spencer, Daniel H. Wells, George A. Smith, and Samuel Bennett; mayor JS; city recorder Willard Richards; and city marshal Henry G. Sherwood. (“The Attendance of the City Council of the City of Nauvoo, Commencing August. 12th 1843,” Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL.)  

  2. 2

    JS apparently missed the beginning of the meeting. He first appears in the minutes during the discussion of where to build the city jail. Following the opening prayer, the review of the previous meeting’s minutes, a committee report regarding the site for a city jail, and a resolution for that committee to select a location, Brigham Young—who was selected at the meeting’s outset as its president pro tem—is referred to in the minutes as “Counsellor Young,” possibly indicating that JS had joined the council by this point. Other records confirm that JS was present at the meeting. (JS, Journal, 21 Dec. 1843, in JSP, J3:149; “The Attendance of the City Council of the City of Nauvoo, Commencing August. 12th 1843,” Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL.)  

  3. 3

    The Nauvoo City Council last met on 16 December 1843. At that meeting, the council appointed William W. Phelps as substitute for absent councilor Sylvester Emmons. The council discussed the memorial to Congress that it had assigned a committee to write on 8 December. The council passed two ordinances: “An ordinance regulating Merchants’ and Grocer’s Licences” and “An Ordinance concerning the Landing of Steam Boats in Nauvoo.” It appointed Jonathan Dunham as wharfmaster and voted that Heber C. Kimball replace Charles Warner as city auctioneer. The council also appointed Kimball to obtain a block of land from Davidson Hibbard on which to build a jail—a subject that was addressed again in the 21 December meeting. (Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 16 Dec. 1843, 194–197; Nauvoo City Council Rough Minute Book, 16 Dec. 1843, 27; see also Historical Introduction to Memorial to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, ca. 16 Dec. 1843–12 Feb. 1844, p. 374 herein.)  

  4. 4

    Hibbard, a longtime resident of Hancock County and a convert to the church, owned a significant portion of land along the southeast edge of the plat of the city of Nauvoo. The referenced land was in Hibbard’s second addition to the city. (Hancock Co., IL, Plat Books, 1836–1938, vol. 1, p. 52, “Hibard’s Second Addition to Nauvoo,” 2 May 1842, microfilm 954,774, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; see also map 7, p. 485 herein.)  

  5. 5

    According to the map of Hibbard’s Second Addition to Nauvoo, lots 3 and 4 of blocks 3 and 4 and all four lots of block 11 were vacant. The city council eventually agreed to a bond with Hibbard to obtain lot 3 in block 4 for “the erection of public buildings” for $500. (Hancock Co., IL, Plat Books, 1836–1938, vol. 1, p. 52, “Hibard’s Second Addition to Nauvoo,” 2 May 1842, microfilm 954,774, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Nauvoo City Council Rough Minute Book, 12 Feb. 1844, 1; Corporation of the City of Nauvoo to Davidson Hibbard, Bond, Nauvoo, IL, Jan. 1844, draft, in Committee Reports, 1841–1844, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL.)  

  6. 6

    Huntington, the sexton of the city cemetery, requested twenty-nine dollars for the interment of twelve individuals and for a coffin. (William D. Huntington, Claim, Nauvoo, IL, 20 Dec. 1843, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL; see also Woods, “Cemetery Record of William D. Huntington, Nauvoo Sexton,” 135–144.)  

  7. 7

    The Nauvoo Treasury credited Huntington the twenty-nine dollars on 26 December 1843. (Nauvoo City Treasury Ledger, 109.)  

  8. 8

    On 8 December, JS proposed the idea of petitioning Congress “to take the city under their protecti[o]n.” That day, the Nauvoo City Council created a committee consisting of John Taylor, Orson Spencer, and Orson Pratt to draft a memorial requesting federal assistance and protection. By 16 December, the committee prepared a draft, which was read to the Nauvoo City Council. Councilors suggested amendments, and JS stated: “We wished to ask the privilege of calling on U. S troops to protect us in our privileges, which is not unconstitutional,— but lays in the breast of congress.” JS and the council debated the constitutional merits of the memorial before referring it back to the committee for revision. (Historical Introduction to Memorial to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, ca. 16 Dec. 1843–12 Feb. 1844, p. 374 herein.)  

  9. 9

    The council added the following language to the memorial to create section 4: “And be it further ordained, that, for all services rendered in quelling Mobs, and preserving the public peace, the said Nauvoo Legion shall be under the same regulations, rules, and laws of pay as the troops of the United States.” (Memorial to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, ca. 16 Dec. 1843–12 Feb. 1844, p. 393 herein.)  

  10. 10

    Pratt did not depart for Washington DC to present the memorial to Congress until March 1844. (Historical Introduction to Memorial to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, ca. 16 Dec. 1843–12 Feb. 1844, p. 376 herein.)  

  11. 11

    Assembling a delegation to present the bill follows the procedures Latter-day Saints took when submitting an 1840 memorial to Congress. (See Historical Introduction to Memorial to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, ca. 30 Oct. 1839–27 Jan. 1840, in JSP, D7:139–143.)  

  12. 12

    By “foreign,” the council meant any legal process initiated outside Nauvoo. (See Ordinance, 21 Dec. 1843, pp. 421–423 herein.)  

  13. 13

    According to established city council rules, all bills must be read aloud three times before they were passed: once to introduce the bill, a second time prior to opening debate and amendments, and a final time prior to passage. In this instance, the city council suspended the usual rules and simply passed this ordinance after hearing the title and text read twice and the title read a third time. (“Rules of Order of the City Council,” 22 Jan. 1842, 5–6, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL.)  

  14. 14

    This statement reflects JS’s stance on slavery in the United States at the time. On 30 December 1842, JS stated in a private conversation that “he had decided that he would not vote for a Slave holder” because keeping slaveholders in political office empowered them to continue to subdue minority peoples. When asked how he would advise a man who held a hundred enslaved people, JS responded, “I have always advised such to bring their slaves into a free county— & set them free— Educate them & give them equal Rights.” A few days later, JS spoke again on slavery and enslaved persons. He stated that “Slaves in washington [are] more refind than the presidents” and that if given an equal opportunity with whites, they would rise to an exalted and respected state. By early February 1844, just over a month after this 21 December 1843 statement, JS decided to run for president. As part of his political platform, he called for the emancipation of enslaved persons in the United States, which would be paid for from the sale of lands by the federal government. (JS, Journal, 30 Dec. 1842 and 2 Jan. 1843, in JSP, J2:197, 212; JS, General Smith’s Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States, 9.)  

  15. 15

    Although Illinois was nominally a free state, its constitution and anti-Black laws allowed slaveholders to bring their enslaved persons into the state and even sell them under the guise of voluntary indentured servitude contracts lasting up to a year. Additionally, all free Blacks living in the state had to be registered by the county and carry with them certificates proving their free status. Any Black person found without a certificate was to be arrested as a fugitive enslaved person. The kidnapping of Black people to put them into bondage was also a common occurrence in the early United States. In 1793, the United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which enabled slaveholders to recapture escaped enslaved persons. The act also put free Blacks in danger of being kidnapped and sold into slavery based upon the color of their skin. For example, Solomon Northup, a free Black man living in New York, was kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery in Louisiana, where he remained enslaved for twelve years before regaining his freedom. An editorial equating the kidnapping of white Illinois citizens with slaveholders stealing free people of color appeared in the Nauvoo Neighbor the day before this city council meeting. JS’s remarks were part of a larger national discussion about the rights of people of color and appealed to a broader concept of protecting the rights of all Americans, including racial and religious minorities. (Constitution of the State of Illinois [1818], art. 6, secs. 1–3; An Act respecting Free Negroes, Mulattoes, Servants and Slaves [30 Mar. 1819]; An Act respecting Free Negroes, Mulattoes, Servants and Slaves [17 Jan. 1829], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1839], pp. 32–33, 501–505, 506–508; Foner, Fiery Trial, 7–8; An Act Respecting Fugitives from Justice, and Persons Escaping from the Service of Their Masters [12 Feb. 1793], Public Statutes at Large, 2nd Cong., 2nd Sess., chap. 7, pp. 302–305; Northup, Twelve Years a Slave; Editorial, Nauvoo Neighbor, 20 Dec. 1843, [2].)  

  16. 16

    In June 1842, Warner was unanimously elected city auctioneer. On 16 December 1843, the city council elected Kimball to that office and carried the motion to remove Warner as city auctioneer. Warner was reinstated later in this 21 December meeting, and he remained city auctioneer until October 1844. (Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 11 June 1842, 85; 16 Dec. 1843, 194; 12 Oct. 1844, 219; see also Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 21 Dec. 1843, 198; and Nauvoo City Council Rough Minute Book, 11 June 1842, 31; 16 Dec. 1843, 26; 12 Oct. 1844, 49.)  

  17. 17

    In February 1841, the Nauvoo City Council appointed Sherwood as marshal “to continue for two years ensuing.” He was elected to another two-year term in February 1843. (Minutes, 3 Feb. 1841, in JSP, D8:19; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 11 Feb. 1843, 159.)  

  18. 18

    For more on the creation of the Nauvoo police, see Ordinance, 12 Dec. 1843–A, pp. 366–370 herein; and Minutes and Discourse, 29 Dec. 1843, pp. 439–445 herein.  

  19. 19

    In March 1842, JS submitted a motion to the city council calling for “the inhabitents of this City” to “keep their children at home except on lawful business on Sundays and from skayting on the ice and from marauding upon their neighbours property.” Joseph Smith III later recalled that JS gave his children strict instructions to never go on the ice in the Mississippi River without permission, because “a number of accidents had occurred upon the ice at the river.” (Motion, 5 Mar. 1842–B, in JSP, D9:220; Mary Audentia Smith Anderson, “The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith,” Saints’ Herald, 27 Nov. 1934, 1513.)  

  20. 20

    Sherwood was appointed the assessor and collector for Nauvoo’s fourth political ward on 11 November 1843. (Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 11 Nov. 1843, 190.)  

  21. 21

    Phelps replaced Emmons as a councilor pro tempore at the previous city council meeting. (See Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 16 Dec. 1843, 194.)  

  22. 22

    According to JS’s journal, which Willard Richards kept in addition to these minutes, JS remained “till. 2 P M.” (JS, Journal, 21 Dec. 1843, in JSP, J3:149.)  

  23. 23

    The city council met again for a special session on 29 December 1843. The next regular city council session took place on 13 January 1844. (Nauvoo City Council Rough Minute Book, 29 Dec. 1843, 30; 13 Jan. 1844, 41; see also Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 29 Dec. 1843, 199; 13 Jan. 1844, 200.)