Letter from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 28 March 1836
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to JS, , Geauga Co., OH, 28 Mar. 1836. Featured version copied [between ca. 4 Apr. and ca. 16 May 1836] in Minute Book 1, p. 198; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
One day after the dedication of the , the met together for a “time of general confession” and drafted a letter to JS. In the letter, penned by and , the acknowledged their shortcomings, sought the forgiveness of the , and asked JS for a written revelation to carry with them as they departed , Ohio, to preach during spring 1836.
The circumstances that prompted the ’ confession and letter to JS are unclear. Quorum members likely felt compelled to acknowledge their faults and express their humility in preparation for receiving the long-promised of power associated with the completion of the . Since 1831, JS had urged church leaders to sanctify themselves in preparation for the endowment, and his efforts to prepare them continued through fall and winter 1835–1836. The spiritual outpouring many experienced during and after the dedication of the House of the Lord on 27 March may have also contributed to the apostles’ show of humility. Another factor may have been the opposition of some of the Twelve to a resolution regarding that JS drafted in February 1836; a few members of the quorum did not formally withdraw their objections until 19 March.
The original letter is no longer extant. The version featured here was copied into Minute Book 1 by around the time it was created. Though the letter is dated 28 March 1836, scribes later inserted a copy of the text into JS’s history under the date 28 March 1835 and directly connected it to JS’s spring 1835 instruction on priesthood. However, JS and five members of the Twelve—including , who was identified as one of the meeting’s clerks—were preaching and baptizing in Huntsburgh, Ohio, on 28 March 1835 and did not return to until 30 March. This evidence supports the 1836 date found in the minute book.
McLellin, William E. Journal, July 1834–Apr. 1835. William E. McLellin, Papers, 1831–1836, 1877–1878. CHL. MS 13538, box 1, fd. 4. Also available as Jan Shipps and John W. Welch, eds., The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831–1836 (Provo, UT: BYU Studies; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).
This afternoon the met in and had a time of general confession.
On reviewing our past course we are satisfied and feel to confess also that we have not realized the importance of our calling to that degree that we ought; we have been light minded and vain and in many things done wrong, wrong. For all these things we have asked the forgiveness of our Heavenly Father, and wherein we have grieved or wounded the feelings of the we ask their forgiveness.
The time has come when we are about to seperate, and when we shall meet again, God only knows, We therefore feel to ask of him whom we have acknowledged to be our Prophet and that he enquire of God for us and obtain a written revelation, (if consistent) that we may look upon it when we are seperated. that our hearts may be comforted. Our worthiness has not inspired us to make this request but our unworthiness.
We have unitedly asked God, our Heavenly Father to grant unto us through his Seer, a revelation of his mind and will concerning our duty the coming season even a great revelation that will enlarge our hearts, comfort us in adversity and brighten our hopes amidst the powers of Darkness.
Esplin, Ronald K. “The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841.” PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1981. Also available as The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841, Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2006).