Appendix 2: Council of Fifty, Minutes, 27 February 1845

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Febry 27. 1845— Council in office—
the ob[jec]t. is— has a Co. [company] of 35 fam[ilies] in , to go into the Wilderness— Moses Smith knows all ab[ou]t. them— we can control them yet— is out of our control— he has flung himself out of the Priesthood— he wants to do, what the Lord wants us to do— bring the lost sheep back— & save this Co.— he has dec[ide]d. not to live among the Gentiles— let them live there & preserve themselves— so as to protect them, & keep the Priesthood— my feelings are to save them— if they come back, they will be rec[eive]d.we have dropt &
went according to my council— I never lisped this to any one yet— he will see me again & report to me— he will do a good work yet— is acquainted with nearly all the tribes, & he can take a company right from here to the Pacific— the Flat Heads have 200,000 warriors— ano[the]r. tribe 180 & anr. 150,000 they want Mormonism— we want some to stay among them as missionaries—
says the report only abt. 2 or 300,000— & also reported the speechs of Sacs & Foxes— who are dissatisfied— we can now make a virtue— unite our teams & plow with Ephraim as well as the Gentiles—
[Moses] Smith, <​is​> fully satisfied that a majority of the Co. would be councilled by the 12. if the Council is to stop, they will, or go on just as ordered— we are above the Sacs & Foxes where there is game— I suppose 160 miles N.W. from here— I supposed that had an appointment & by the 12—
s[ai]d. talked as plain as any man could— & accused him of stealing from the Gentiles, & he denied it— he sd. he wo[ul]d. not be councilled— “I cant come back” he was not willing to be gov[erne]d. by the Council if men will not go according to Council, they will go to the devil— he went to work & deceived man [p. [1]] no man was ever spoken to plainer than was— I advised a man to fetch his wife & property— Suffycools wife was decoyed away & went part of the way, but came back, if there are men who want to abide by council, I say save them— If a man wont abide council here, he wont abide a 1000 miles if any man wont support our — I wont help that man any how— my Spirit is aroused when I see men decoying others away— recollect s pledge— he has broke it— he has decoyed man— when the proper time comes, let such men go as are councilled to go— at a time when we needed all the help we could get— he went away— & “unless that man comes back & humbles himself we will not fellowship them” if you have done wrong, you can but be right & be saved & your posterity & if you dont do it you will all be d—d together— if he has a mind to be d—d he can— it makes no difference to us— we will make our calling & our election sure— we will set men at it, in whom we can confide, let me have men who have faith & humility— & I will risk all—
I wod. rather see Br Smith with us than away from us— I am not suspicious of my Brethren— I look with suspicion upon strangers— the course has taken has been in direct violation of the Council of Pres. [Joseph] Smith— he was “not to take a man from this ”, after all, it came to our ears that he had got about 50 men— we went in pursuit— was called to acc[oun]t. & was rebuked by Pres. Smith— he sd. dont take the Indians from Augusta— he had no authority to even take his family— in violation to every covenant made to the Prophet, & that was the reason why he was dropt [p. 2] from that Council— if he goes & forms himself a Kingdom— it will be stript from him hereafter they will be stript of ehich [each?], and every thing else, I know it by the Sp[irit] of the H[oly] Ghost— there is no man or woman can be saved upon any o[the]r. principle— for what we dont save in this probation we must save them in an[othe]r. & Law. & & o[the]rs. will never get out of hell until J. Smith unlocks it for them, has severed himself from us, & whatever this Council seals, blesses, or curses on Earth will be sealed, blessed, or cursed in heaven— we are to become the Saviors of men as much as J[esus] C[hrist] was— sd. he wod. not bear the frowns of the Gentiles any longer, & our lives will be sacrificed for this people— either as worn out, or martyrs— chastised him at my house— we had a meet[in]g. at s & refused to submit to the Council— is the head on this Earth, he is not a hard master, I have been with him too long— if you dont abide Council you will go to hell, & after all you will have to get the 12 to help you out— we are like balls of clay now— & are on the Wheel in the hands of the Potters, who have to fashion us to suit the mansions in the skies— if there is enough of me, I shall be made fit for any use— These men can make vessels of you, & fit you for God— there are some who say that the 12 are hard task masters but the day will come when it will be found out— this Council does not justify or , all working against us— they are sealing women to one another & running into adultry— we can shew that most of ’s followers enter into the Spiritual Wife doctrine—
— I had an interview on monday with Br Smith—
Smith said all my statements are now carried out— I talked with & found the most stubborn disposition of any man in the world— I was disgusted with him— he was every thing— I was witness to Br. Joseph & others reproving him— it is all this secret inst[ruct]ion that is trying to cut our throats— I would just as soon he [p. 3] sho[ul]d. present the knife to my throat—
M[oses] Smith I talked with upon the Expeditn. he sd. this is the same thing that will swallow up the expedition—
sd: wants to be a big man & take the lead of this Church—
talked with me bef: [before] this Council of 50. & others who are with him think they can drive this thing thro’— those who are not for us are against us—
— we gave it up for a bad job— I believe if he had been in Jail— all the Gent[ile]s wod. have glanced past him—
I recollect going with to see he wod. not say any thing— we co[ul]d. not ring out the least sense from him—he had seen the Indians— it wod. be a great undertaking— it was a kind of a grunt— his end, his accomplishment, his wishes were all in himself— he was the only man, & he was but just big enough to do it himself— we cod. not then get a single thing out of him— I discovered he was lying all the time— he represented his mission as greater than Br. Joseph, & the 12, & all put together— he was always sick of the Gentiles—
<​​> Intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence, & therefore his intelligence is of the wilderness) wanted to go to in the same way— the principles taught are “we are the standard, the criterion” & [“] must come to us to get Salvation” it is designed by the devil— we know what God designs to do, & the course that individuals will have to go— I bel[ieve] they may be controlled, if it can be got <​to​> them— but as to the leaders, it has happened to them accordg. to their desires— I have no confidence in at all— from any thing that he can say, until he has pursued a course that satisfies me that he is right— this he would send us to destruction in order to gratify his little, nasty, narrow mind— any man can do good when the Sun shines, but he is good when he is in oppression, disappointed on the right & left & betrayed on every hand & still upholds his actions, he is the good man for me— [p. [4]]
— has no confidence in
proposes that some man be sent with Br Smith as a Messenger of Salvation
— does say that the Church will be scattered— & gathered again in the Wilderness? no!
d[itt]o. he consider himself that he is independent of us as a body— Smith cant tell— & gave his feelings “we have <​been​> kept in the dark” many wanted to come & fetch their families— he opposed it I have not heard of any communicatn. with
after I ret[urne]d. from I asked what he had been doing— he refused to let me know— I referred him to his chastisement he would only speak in parables—
M. Smith “is willing to be governed by this council”—
also asked — & he sd. this mission was given him before J[oseph Smith’s] death & that the 12 had nothing to do with it—
we had a mission to the Lamanites— Br. J. gave us a frank relation of the work, and he said “dont stop” till this is accomplished”—
the in buying the lands were to give the Indians 40 miles square— but the agent wrote 40 square miles—
Jos. wanted we “visit the Lamanites— I commit to the keys of the Kingdom to the Lamanites— he committed them to me— we visited & preached to them they believed it, we have heard a many times from them—
sd. 6 or 8. went over the boundaries of the to preach— Jos. went to prayer— he then commenced a revelation that was to marry among the Laminites— & that I was to preach that day— &c &c it was a long revelation— we have a living Constitution— there is enough for every day— if we die let us all die together, & there will be a jolly lot of spirits dancing into the next world— it wont be to hell, for there is no fiddles there— [p. 5]
The Government has passed a law than [that] when 5000 men are got to , they can make their own Legislature <​Government​>—
we can thank the Legislature for taking away what they never gave— We have no Charter, no laws— “we are free”— the Kingdom is <​now​> rent from the Gentiles— has found out that we are in Eternity, the Millenium has now commenced—
“That we appoint a delegate to visit ”— Carried—
—— do —— to be the delegate— & he to pick his man”
—— write a good fatherly letter of Instruction to them— carried—
“That write the letter” and help him” in behalf of the council— carried [p. 6]


  1. 1

    Emmett was disfellowshipped on 3 September 1844 “for not following Counsel.” (George A. Smith, Journal, 3 Sept. 1844.)  

    Smith, George A. Journal, 22 Feb. 1841–10 Mar. 1845. George Albert Smith, Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322, box 2, fd. 4.

  2. 2

    See Matthew 18:12–14; and Luke 15:4–7.  

  3. 3

    Both Emmett and Wight were dropped from the council on 4 February 1845. (See Council of Fifty, “Record,” 4 Feb. 1845.)  

  4. 4

    In his autobiography Butler explained that Emmett attempted to get the Butlers to leave with his company in September 1844, but they refused. After receiving negative reports about the company in December 1844, Young reportedly told Butler that “there is some good people in the company and I hate to see him carrying them to distructian and it must not be[,] for you must go and save them from distructian.” Butler explained that he followed the instructions and “went up the river to the camp and stayd with them.” (Hartley, My Best for the Kingdom, 407.)  

    Hartley, William G. My Best for the Kingdom: History and Autobiography of John Lowe Butler, a Mormon Frontiersman. Salt Lake City: Aspen Books, 1993.

  5. 5

    It is unclear where these population estimates originated, but they are highly exaggerated. A U.S. government report estimated that there were fewer than three hundred thousand American Indians in the entirety of Oregon territory and all the land west of the Mississippi and east of the Rocky Mountains. The Flathead tribe was estimated to have a population of only eight hundred. (Congressional Globe, Appendix, 28th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 180–181 [1845].)  

    The Congressional Globe, Containing Sketches of the Debates and Proceedings of the Second Session of the Twenty-Eighth Congress. Vol. 14. Washington DC: Blair and Rives, 1845.

  6. 6

    Phelps is likely referring to the federal report referenced in the prior footnote.  

  7. 7

    Other members of Emmett’s company also later claimed that they believed Emmett had been acting under the authority of the Quorum of the Twelve. (James Nelson and Rebecca Nelson, “A Memorandom of the Proceedings of Emets Company,” 10 May 1847, CHL; Bennett, “Mormon Renegade,” 219–220.)  

    Nelson, James, and Rebecca Nelson. “A Memorandom of the Proceedings of Emets Company,” 10 May 1847. CHL.

    Bennett, Richard E. “Mormon Renegade: James Emmett at the Vermillion, 1846.” South Dakota History 15, no. 3 (Fall 1985): 217–233.

  8. 8

    Likely Elizabeth Suffycool, wife of Samuel Suffycool. (Record of Seventies, bk. B, 4 Feb. 1846.)  

    Record of Seventies / First Council of the Seventy. “General Record of the Seventies Book B. Commencing Nauvoo 1844,” 1844–1848. Bk. B. In First Council of the Seventy, Records, 1837–1885. CHL. CR 3 51, box 2, fd. 1.

  9. 9

    See 2 Peter 1:10.  

  10. 10

    Likely Augusta, Iowa Territory, where at least fifty members of the church lived by 1841. (“Minutes of a Conference,” Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1841, 2:547–548.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  11. 11

    Latter-day Saint scripture refers to mortal life as a “state of probation” or “days of probation.” (See, for example, Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 37–38, 65, 445 [1 Nephi 15:31–32; 2 Nephi 2:21; Helaman 13:38]; and Revelation, Sept. 1830–A [D&C 29:43].)  

  12. 12

    The reference to Law most likely means William Law but could also refer to his brother Wilson Law.  

  13. 13

    This statement may refer to beliefs related to Latter-day Saint temple ordinances. Referring to Obadiah 1:21, JS taught that the Saints were “to become Saviors on Mount Zion” by performing temple ordinances for their deceased ancestors, which would bind generations together. In January 1845 Brigham Young likewise spoke of “the Saviors of the Earth” while speaking of families being “connected together.” (Woodruff, Journal, 21 Jan. 1844; Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 8 Jan. 1845.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

    Historian’s Office. General Church Minutes, 1839–1877. CHL

  14. 14

    See Isaiah 29:16; and Jeremiah 18:6. Kimball, a potter, frequently used this image. (Kimball, Heber C. Kimball, 10–11; Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 309; Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 8 Mar. 1843.)  

    Kimball, Stanley B. Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981.

    Whitney, Orson F. Life of Heber C. Kimball, an Apostle: The Father and Founder of the British Mission. Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888.

  15. 15

    The term “spiritual wifery” was generally a derogatory one employed first by John C. Bennett in his attacks against JS and his followers in 1842 and renewed by William Law and others in 1844 in their denunciations of the secret practice of plural marriage in Nauvoo. Following JS’s death, the term was also employed by Sidney Rigdon and other individuals who disclaimed Brigham Young’s leadership by attacking the practice of plural marriage. Church leaders also used the term to describe what they saw as unauthorized plural marriages or extramarital sexual relations as practiced by men like Bennett. In a May 1845 proclamation published for the eastern branches he presided over, Parley P. Pratt made a distinction between authorized plural marriages performed by proper priesthood authority and a “spiritual wife” doctrine such as Bennett and others practiced, which allowed for sexual relations between men and “spiritual wives” but were not actual marriages. Of spiritual wives, Pratt wrote that there was not “any such doctrine known, held, or practised, as a principle of the Latter Day Saints. If a man has a wife according to the law of God and the regulations of the church, she is his real wife, body, soul, spirit, heart, and hand, and not his ‘Spiritual Wife.’” Similarly, the husband in such a relationship is “her real husband; to provide for his wife and children, and to be their head and father, and bring them up in the fear, and love, and truth of God, as did Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of old.” Pratt also affirmed that “sealings, and covenants, to secure the union of parents, children and companions in the world to come, or in the resurection” are “true doctrine.”  

    Pratt further alleged that Rigdon was teaching a “spiritual wife” system despite his public statements to the contrary and warned his readers to beware of the “doctrines of devils, as first introduced by John C. Bennet, under the name of the ‘Spiritual Wife’ doctrine; and still agitated by the Pittsburg Seer [Rigdon], and his followers under the same title.” In October 1844 Orson Hyde had similarly insinuated that Rigdon and his followers were the cause of “spiritual wife” troubles in Nauvoo. No strictly contemporary sources corroborate the statements that Rigdon was teaching or practicing a form of spiritual wifery. Still, later accusations were made against Rigdon along these lines by former followers or competing religionists. One follower of James Strang alleged in 1846 that Rigdon had taught a “system of wifery . . . or free or common intercou[r]s with women.” In 1858 Harvey Whitlock, a former follower of Rigdon, reportedly explained to a group of people in Provo, Utah, that he had disassociated himself with Rigdon because of “the general arrangement for the temporary swapping wives,” a practice of which he claimed to have “certain knowledge.” (“Further Mormon Developments!! 2d Letter from Gen. Bennett,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 15 July 1842, [2]; “Preamble,” and “The Mormons,” Nauvoo [IL] Expositor, 7 June 1844, [1]–[2], [4]; [Sidney Rigdon], Editorial, Latter Day Saint’s Messenger and Advocate [Pittsburgh], 15 Oct. 1844, 15–16; Parley P. Pratt, “This Number Closes the First Volume of the ‘Prophet,’” Prophet, 24 May 1845, [2], emphasis in original; Peter Hess, Philadelphia, PA, to James J. Strang, Voree, Wisconsin Territory, 14 Dec. 1846, James Jesse Strang Collection, 1835–1920, Western Americana Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Historical Department, Journal History of the Church, 18 Apr. 1859.)  

    Sangamo Journal. Springfield, IL. 1831–1847.

    Nauvoo Expositor. Nauvoo, IL. 1844.

    Latter Day Saint’s Messenger and Advocate. Pittsburgh, PA. 15 Oct. 1844–Sept 1846.

    The Prophet. New York City, NY. May 1844–Dec. 1845.

    Strang, James Jesse. Collection, 1835–1920. Western Americana Collection. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

    Historical Department. Journal History of the Church, 1896–. CHL. CR 100 137.

  16. 16

    On Monday, 24 February, Richards recorded, “Moses Smith called at my office.” (Richards, Journal, 24 Feb. 1845.)  

    Richards, Willard. Journals, 1836–1853. Willard Richards, Papers, 1821–1854. CHL. MS 1490, boxes 1–2.

  17. 17

    In February 1844 JS and the Quorum of the Twelve selected Emmett as one of the leaders of an expedition to explore Oregon and California in search of a new home for the Saints. (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Minutes, 21 Feb. 1844.)  

    Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Minutes, 1840–1844. CHL.

  18. 18

    George A. Smith had attempted to dissuade Emmett from leaving with his group the previous September. He recorded, “This day spent in Endeavring to Counsel James Emet & prevent him from taking A Party away from herre Contrery from Counsel he was stuborn.” (George A. Smith, Journal, 2 Sept. 1844.)  

    Smith, George A. Journal, 22 Feb. 1841–10 Mar. 1845. George Albert Smith, Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322, box 2, fd. 4.

  19. 19

    See Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:40].  

  20. 20

    Rich returned from his electioneering mission to Michigan on 28 July 1844. (George A. Smith, Journal, 15 and 28 July 1844.)  

    Smith, George A. Journal, 22 Feb. 1841–10 Mar. 1845. George Albert Smith, Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322, box 2, fd. 4.

  21. 21

    Young may have been referencing a traditional belief held by the American Indians living on the Allegany Reservation of New York that during treaty negotiations in 1797 the United States had promised them 40 miles square (that is, 160 square miles) for their reservation instead of the 42 square miles they received. (“From Cattaraugus,” New-York Daily Tribune, 2 Nov. 1858, [3]; Contract [15 Sept. 1797], Public Statutes at Large, vol. 7, p. 602.)  

    New-York Daily Tribune. New York City. 1841–1924.

    The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845. . . . Edited by Richard Peters. 8 vols. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846–1867.

  22. 22

    At a 12 March 1835 meeting of the newly organized Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, it was proposed that Brigham Young “should open a door to the remnants of Joseph [American Indians] who dwelt among the Gentiles” while on a mission to the eastern states with the other apostles. In May 1835 Young, in the company of John P. Greene and Amos Orton, separated from the other missionaries to fulfill this assignment. Young recorded speaking with “meney of the seed of Joseph” during this mission, including at least two chiefs in the vicinity of the Allegany Reservation of New York. (Record of the Twelve, 12 Mar. 1835; Young, Journal, 25 May–1 June 1835.)  

    Young, Brigham. Journals, 1832–1877. Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878. CHL. CR 1234 1, boxes 71–73.

  23. 23

    Although the earliest reference to this revelation suggested that it applied only to Harris, William W. Phelps wrote in 1861 that JS dictated a revelation on 17 July 1831 commanding not just Harris but several elders who had traveled to Missouri to marry American Indians. (Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—Nos. VIII–IX,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 8 Dec. 1831, [1]; William W. Phelps to Brigham Young, 12 Aug. 1861, Revelations Collection, CHL.)  

    Ohio Star. Ravenna. 1830–1854.

    Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.

  24. 24

    In December 1844, bills were introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to organize a territorial government in Oregon. According to the provisions of both bills, as soon as the number of free white men from the United States reached five thousand they would have the authority to elect representatives for the territory’s general assembly. Although the bill had been approved by the House, it was tabled in the Senate at this time. (A Bill to Organize a Government for the Oregon Territory, and for Other Purposes, S. no. 45, 28th Cong., 2nd Sess., p. 4, sec. 12 [1844]; A Bill to Organize a Territorial Government in the Oregon Territory, and for Other Purposes, H.R. no. 439, 28th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 3–4, sec. 12 [1844]; Congressional Globe, 28th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 201–204, 224–229, 287 [1844].)  

    A Bill to Organize a Government for the Oregon Territory, and for Other Purposes. S. no. 45, 28th Cong., 2nd Sess. (1844).

    A Bill to Organize a Territorial Government in the Oregon Territory, and for Other Purposes. H.R. no. 439, 28th Cong., 2nd Sess. (1844).

    The Congressional Globe, Containing Sketches of the Debates and Proceedings of the Second Session of the Twenty-Eighth Congress. Vol. 14. Washington DC: Blair and Rives, 1845.

  25. 25

    In his journal Amasa Lyman recorded that he “was in counsil and received an apointment to go and visit the company that were with bro. Emet in company with br. D[aniel] Spencer and Moses Smith to advise and counsil them in maters of salvation in their present circumstances.” (Lyman, Journal, 27 Feb. 1845.)  

    Lyman, Amasa. Journals, 1832–1877. Amasa Lyman Collection, 1832–1877. CHL. MS 829, boxes 1–3.

  26. 26

    Clayton copied two letters addressed to Emmett’s company into the record book for 27 February 1845. The first letter was the one Orson Pratt and Orson Spencer were assigned to write for the council. The second letter, for which Willard Richards served as scribe, represented the view of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (Council of Fifty, “Record,” 27 Feb. 1845.)