Charges against Missouri Conference Preferred to Joseph Smith, circa March 1832

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

We the undersigned having received and examined the minutes of the last general held in the land of on the January 28–9–30th— 1832 and from mature reflection and examination, and by comparing them with the revelations which we have received from our heavenly <​father​> to regulate his in these last days, do find that they are illegal, and the proceedings of said confrence not according to the laws and regulations which we have received by revelation from our common redeemer and as such we do not consider them as binding on his church, neither do we feel ourselves authorized to acknowledge them as being <​of​> God nor yet according [to] the mind of the holy spirit. We therefore prefer the following charges against that conference to the our beloved brother Joseph who has been unto this office by a conference held in Lorain county ohio on the 25 of January 1832
First we charge this conference with insulting the in our beloved , by saying [2 words illegible] in their minutes “appointed brother moderator” when he has been previously appointed moderator of the conferences in by commandment, and also modrator by virtue of his office as Bishop of the church in so doing assuming an authority as a conference to which they had no right for when God appoints authorities in his church let no conference take it upon them to reappoint these authorities for in so doing the[y] claim a right which is not granted to them
First we charge deem if [it] of primary importance that every order & regulation in the church of Christ, established in wisdom, for its government should be preserved inviolate, & as the proceeding[s] of this conference reported in its minutes relative to the appointment of a moderator are illegal at as that office, by revelation was confered upon an individual, namely our beloved , of the Church. We therefore charge the conference <​in this act of appointment​> with assuming a power with which it has not been invested.
Secondly), In said minutes we find find the name <​of​> associated with breatheren and in writing a letter to the agent in in on business [p. [1]] pertaining to the of the his and councellers, thereby deranging the order established legally in the and infringing on the rights of the whose prerogative it is to be assocated with the and his in transacting all business pertaining to their stewardship
Thirdly) we charge this with assuming authority to which they had no right in the appointment of a clerk, when it belonged to the moderator to appoint his own clerk
Fourthly) we charge this conference with illegallity in appointing Brother to keep the general church record of names when brother has been appointed to that office by and sent to for that purpose
Fifthly) we charge this conference with illegallity <​impropriety​> in appointing brother a superintendent in schools when his office required all his attention as counceller to the to understand the laws of the kingdom so as to be able to assist him in all things pertaining to his office
We therefore shall move before the court of the , to be holden in Zion as soon as possable that these minutes be eraced from the church records
[1/4 page blank] [p. [2]]


  1. 1

    Extant minutes of conferences held in Missouri after March 1832 suggest that no other general conference was held there until 1838, although holding a general conference of elders was proposed later in 1832. (See Minute Book 2, 15 Sept. 1832 and 6–7 July 1838.)  

  2. 2

    This dating is apparently in error. The letter from Oliver Cowdery gives 23–24 January and 27 January 1832 as the dates of the conferences, and the minutes in Minute Book 2 date the first session as 23 January. Since Cowdery’s letter is dated 28 January, the complainants may have mistakenly assumed 28 January was the first day of the conferences and that they continued on 29 and 30 January. (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Jan. 1832; Minute Book 2, 23 Jan. 1832.)  

  3. 3

    Minutes, 26–27 Apr. 1832. According to a November 1831 revelation, the president of the high priesthood had the responsibility of handling “the most important business of the church & the most difficult cases of the church.” (Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 107:78].)  

  4. 4

    TEXT: Possibly “We of”.  

  5. 5

    TEXT: “not” changed to “no” then canceled with the rest of the passage.  

  6. 6

    TEXT: Likely “proceedings”, with the “s” written beyond the edge of the page.  

  7. 7

    It is unclear to which revelation the complainants are referring. A revelation dated 1 August 1831 instructed the elders of the church to hold a conference to be directed by Partridge, but this does not appear to be a standing appointment. Another revelation addressed to Partridge, dated 20 July 1831, does not specifically mention a role for the bishop as moderator of conferences. The minutes themselves do not elaborate on how or why Partridge was appointed moderator. Extant minutes from other conferences prior to November 1831 generally do not refer to the selection of a moderator. The minutes of the special conferences held the first two weeks of November 1831, however, all indicate that the conferences “appointed” a moderator at the beginning of each meeting, although the minutes do not provide details on the selection process. (Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:62]; Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57]; Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Jan. 1832; see also Minutes, 1–2 Nov. 1831; Minutes, 8 Nov. 1831; Minutes, 9 Nov. 1831; and Minutes, 12 Nov. 1831.)  

  8. 8

    The complainants may have been referring to the 1 August 1831 revelation, which stated that the bishop was to be assisted by his counselors in his mission “to divide the lands of the heritage of God unto his children & to Judge his people.” Even though Cowdery had been designated as second elder of the church in 1830, it was specifically the responsibility of the bishop and his counselors to deal with the consecration of land. (Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:17–18]; License for John Whitmer, 9 June 1830.)  

  9. 9

    The minutes do not reveal how the clerk was appointed, stating only, “Edward Partrage appointed moderator and Oliver Cowdery Clerk.” Minutes of other conferences in 1831 do not provide information about how clerks were selected, although Cowdery or John Whitmer almost always acted in that capacity when they were in attendance. The minutes of special conferences held during the first two weeks of November use the same language and sentence structure to record the appointment of their clerks that Cowdery used in the January 1832 minutes. (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Jan. 1832; Minutes, 1–2 Nov. 1831; Minutes, 8 Nov. 1831; Minutes, 9 Nov. 1831; Minutes, 12 Nov. 1831.)  

  10. 10

    The “Articles and Covenants” of the church stated that “a regular list of all the names of the members of the whole church” was to be kept in a book “by one of the elders whomsoever the other elders shall appoint from time to time.” That list was to be called “the general church record of names.” In an 8 March 1831 revelation, Whitmer was appointed to “write & keep a regulal [regular] history” of the church and to “Keep the Church Record & History continually,” a calling reiterated in an 11 November 1831 revelation. (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:82–83]; Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47:1, 3]; Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–A [D&C 69:1–3].)  

  11. 11

    TEXT: Possibly “requires”.  

  12. 12

    The conference appointed Corrill, Cowdery, and William W. Phelps to “superintend Schools in the Churches in this land.” A 14 June 1831 revelation had already given Cowdery and Phelps the responsibility of “Printing & of Selecting & writing Books for Schools in this Church that little Children also may receive instruction before me.” Corrill was ordained an “assistant” to Partridge on 3 June 1831. It is unclear whether Corrill ever functioned as a superintendent of schools, but his daughter Nancy apparently became the teacher of a Mormon school in Jackson County, Missouri. (Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Jan. 1832; Revelation, 14 June 1831 [D&C 55:4]; Minutes, ca. 3–4 June 1831; Emily D. P. Young, “Autobiography,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Dec. 1884, 13:103.)  

    Woman’s Exponent. Salt Lake City. 1872–1914.

  13. 13

    The administration of the court of the high priesthood was set forth in a revelation dated 11 November 1831. (Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 107:78–79].)  

  14. 14

    TEXT: Handwriting of Sidney Rigdon ends; individual signatories begin.