Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846; Volume 1, 10 March 1844–1 March 1845

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

[front cover]
of the
Council of Fifty or
Kingdom of God—
[1/2 page blank] [front pastedown]
10 March 1844 • Sunday

Editorial Note
Letters to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve proposing a new gathering center for Mormon settlement in the provided the immediate impetus for the organization of the Council of Fifty in March 1844. The proposal may have grown out of earlier interest in the southern states as well as the Republic of Texas. JS’s journal notes that a few months earlier, on 27 October 1843, he conversed with and , who had “just retur[ne]d from the south.” Miller was the bishop for the settlement of Latter-day Saints who were logging and milling pine at Black River Falls in . Haws and other Mormon missionaries preaching in Alabama and Mississippi had recently converted scores of southerners. JS’s journal also notes that on 29 October, Miller and Haws met with , JS’s secretary, and ordained an elder in order to send him on a mission to Texas. These notes in JS’s journal suggest that he and Miller shared a new interest in the South and in Texas.
Three months later, interest in was expressed in the pamphlet on JS’s political views published in support of his campaign for the presidency of the . JS met with on 29 January 1844 and instructed him on what should be included in a public statement that would give his position on many political issues. They met again on 5 February to review what Phelps had written, and JS apparently approved of the document on 7 February, the date the published document bears. By 24 February fifteen hundred copies of General Smith’s Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States had been printed. Unlike most northerners, JS advocated the annexation of Texas as part of an ambitious yet peaceful agenda of American expansionism. He proposed that “if Texas petitions Congress to be adopted among the sons of liberty, give her the right hand of fellowship; and refuse not the same friendly grip to and .” Whenever “a neighboring realm peti[ti]oned to join the union,” JS’s position would be “come: yea come Texas: come Mexico; come Canada; and come all the world—let us be brethren: let us be one great family; and let there be universal peace.”
On 7 March 1844 JS explained his position on in an address to a congregation in . He warned that if the did not annex Texas, the republic would form an alliance with the British that would expose America’s western frontier to an attack. JS acknowledged that many opposed annexation because Texas would come into the union as a slave state, upsetting the balance of power between northern and southern states in Congress. He argued, however, that protecting America from British intrigue and invasion was more important. In JS’s view, the congressional balance of power could be restored by converting slave states into free states or by annexing . Anticipating the concern that many would have with such a large number of emancipated slaves, JS stated that the freedmen could be sent through Texas to —to live “where all colors are alike.”
The day after JS delivered this address, arrived in carrying two letters from , where church members had been logging pine since 1841 to supply lumber for the Nauvoo and the . The Wisconsin Saints had recently met to assess their situation. They estimated that by July 1844 they could supply more than enough lumber for both buildings, which would fulfill their original purpose in going to Wisconsin. However, over time they had taken on two new priorities. One was to continue logging in order to raise funds for the church, and the other was a growing interest in proselytizing the American Indians in the area. A delegation of local Indians had recently visited the Wisconsin Saints to inform them that they would have to pay federally regulated rates for further logging on the above the falls. While this development changed the prospects for using the lumber mills to raise money, the meeting helped solidify relations between the Mormons and the Indians. Noting the poor prospects for making money in Wisconsin and the recent proselytizing success in the South, the Wisconsin Saints proposed that they abandon the milling venture and establish a new gathering center in for southern Saints. In terms of raising money for the church, they expected they would do so more successfully by instituting a consecration program among gathered planters. As for the Indians, the Wisconsin Saints felt they could persuade them to move to Texas with them, and that the Saints there could then use Texas as a doorway to proselytize among Indians throughout the Americas.
The Wisconsin Saints appointed a committee—consisting of , , , , and —to write up their views and send them to church leaders in . As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Wight was the ranking ecclesiastical officer and served as the president of the branch at Black River Falls. He was also a trustee of the Nauvoo House Association, which oversaw the construction of the and the lumber operation. The lumber operation had begun at Miller’s suggestion. As president of the Nauvoo House Association and as a bishop, Miller procured and managed the supplies and provisions of the settlement. Hawley and Bird served as counselors to Bishop Miller and helped manage the implementation of a communal economic system among the Wisconsin Mormons. Young, a relatively recent convert, may have been selected to serve as a scribe, though the final versions of the letters are not in Young’s handwriting. The committee assigned Miller and Wight each to draft a letter to send to Nauvoo, which they did separately. After reviewing the two drafts, the committee resolved to send both letters. Each letter is dated 15 February 1844, addressed to JS and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and signed by the five members of the committee. The committee initially chose Young to carry the letters to Nauvoo, but it was later decided that Miller would bear them.
delivered the letters to JS in on the afternoon of Sunday, 10 March 1844. JS perused the letters and some discussion ensued. At 4:30 p.m. JS met in the with Miller, available members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the temple committee. The men reacted favorably to the petition from the Saints. Though his journal entry for this day is somewhat ambiguous, JS apparently suggested the production of a revised version of the Constitution that would protect all men in their rights as well as the possibility of amending the Constitution. After breaking for supper, the group reconvened at “7 eve” in “the assembly room” over JS’s . JS organized the meeting by appointing as chairman, whereupon Richards appointed the clerk. According to the account below, the letters were further discussed, after which JS expressed satisfaction with the “union of feeling” that prevailed among the brethren with whom he was meeting and also between themselves and the Wisconsin Saints. The meeting continued until a “late hour” before being adjourned until the next morning.
’s account of the evening meeting, reproduced below, is evidently a reminiscent reconstruction. The wording of this initial entry for the 10 March meeting, which provides context for the formal organization of the council on 11 March, suggests that it was written sometime after 11 March—probably in July or August 1844. In his narration of the events of 10 March, Clayton does not recount the afternoon meeting that preceded the evening meeting, apparently because he was not in attendance. Clayton’s retelling of the events of the day in the council record mistakenly implies that the Twelve did not meet with JS before the evening meeting. Moreover, Clayton’s account of the evening meeting lacks important details regarding subjects of discussion that are reported for that day in JS’s journal. However, Clayton’s entry in the council record does include transcripts of the letters from and . Whereas Clayton apparently did not have raw contemporary minutes from which to draw, he did have these significant letters. While the lengthy letters from Miller and Wight constitute the bulk of the entry, Clayton framed the letters within a narrative of the council’s origins. Overall, Clayton composed the first entry of the “Record” as an introduction to the Council of the Kingdom.

This Council was organized on the strength of the contents of two letters from the brethren in the which president Joseph Smith received by the hands of and on Sunday the 10th. day of March A. D. 1844. The letters read as follows:—
Black River Falls.
February 15th. 1844
To the First Presidency and the quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Dear Brethren, Through the goodness and mercy of God the Eternal Father, and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are permitted to write and send by a special messenger, a concise [p. [1]]
account of our lumbering opperations, together with the apparent prospects of the introduction & spread of the Gospel among the Chippewa & Menomanee [Menominee] Indians, and also the projects of our hearts in regard to future opperations in spreading the Gospel South in all the extent of America and the consequences growing out of the same, all of which we beg leave to submit to your consideration, that we may have your concurrence or such views as shall be in accordance with the mind & will of the Lord and govern ourselves in accordance thereto.
Since we have been here lumbering we have had many difficulties to encounter, but the main hindrance to our successful operations was the feeding, clothing and transporting a great many lazy, idle men, who have not pro [p. [2]]
duced any thing by their pretended labor, and thus eating up all that the dilligent and honest could produce by their unceasing application to labor, & we have not yet got entirely clear of such like persons. But under all these mighty clogs and hindrances we have been able to accomplish and have in progress, so that we can deliver in about one Million feet of Lumber by the last of July next, which will be a great deal more than what is necessary to build the and , besides all this we have made valuable improvements here, all the result of much labor done under trying circumstances.
We have recently ascertained that the land from the falls of Black River to its sources is the property of the Menomanee Indians, and the Genl. government having urged [p. [3]]
them to move off of the lands in the vicinity of Green Bay onto their own lands. The Indians say they will, provided the Government will remove all strange Indians and tresspassing white men off of their lands—consequently the Agent and Superintendant of Indian affairs are taking such steps as will stop all further tresspassing on the Indian lands, on the Wisconsin, and Chippewa Rivers under the penalties of the laws relative to the case.
We sent Brs and in company with the principal Chief of the Menomonee Indians over land to the Wisconsin River, to ascertain more about the matter. They saw the Agent, found him a gruff austere man determined to stop all [p. [4]]
tresspassing on Indian land. The Indians are willing to sell privileges to individuals for lumbering & cutting timber as they have hitherto done, but the agent is opposed to it. Thus a difficulty arises between themselves. Now as regards the introduction of the Gospel of Christ among the Indians here it will require more exertion to all appearances to check the enthusiastic ardor of these our red brethren untill the full principles of faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shall be reasoned into their minds, than to urge them on to receive it—They have great confidence in us— The country belonging to these Northern Indians is a dreary cold region, and to a great extent, Cranberry Marshes, pine barrens, and Swamps with a small amount of good land, scarce of game, [p. [5]]
and only valuable in Mill privileges, and facilities for lumbering purposes. As to minneral resources they have not been fully developed. There is no doubt as to the abundance of Iron ore, but uncertain as to quality. Now under all of these circumstances, a few of us here have <​arrived​> at this conclusion in our minds, (such as can undergo all things,) that as the Gospel has not been fully opened in all the South and South Western States, as also , , Brazil &c, together with the West India Islands—Having produced lumber enough to build the & also having an influence over the Indians so as to induce them to sell their lands to the , and go to a climate south west more congenial (all according to the policy of the [p. [6]]
Government) and having also become convinced that the Church at are or in the Eastern States will not build the according to the commandment, neither the in a reasonable time. and that we have so far as we have made trials got means in the South, we have it in our minds to go to the table lands of to a point we may find to be the most eligible, there locate, and let it be a place of gathering for all the South (they being incumbered with that unfortunate race of beings the negroes) and for us to employ our time and talents in gathering together means to build according to the commandments of our God, and spread the Gospel to the nations according to the will of our heavenly father. We therefore our beloved brethren [p. [7]]
send our worthy , with a few of our thoughts on paper, that you may take the subject matter under consideration and return us such instructions as may be according to the mind and will of the Lord our God. We have thought it best to sell the mills here if you may think it expedient. We feel greatly encouraged to spend and be spent in the cause of Christ according to the will of our heavenly Father.
You will therefore after due deliberation send us by the hands of such instructions as may be the result of your deliberations. Holding ourselves ready under all circumstances in life to try to do all things whatsoever commanded or instructed to do by those [p. [8]]
ordained to direct the officers of the church of Jesus Christ. Subscribing ourselves yours truly while life shall endure.
Select Committee to write expression of the views of the branch of the Church at Black River Falls.
Joseph Smith P. C. [president of the church])
P. T. [president of the Twelve])
Clk. [clerk])
Black River Falls Wisconsin Territory Febry 15th. 1844
To Joseph Smith President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and to the Twelve Apostles, Greeting [p. [9]]
Believing a concert of action in all things in this Church to be highly important, we deem it necessary under existing circumstances to make you acquainted with our views and feelings, temporal and spiritual prospects as they now exist. We wrote you last fall a full and complete description of this country as high as the falls on Black River without exageration giving a slight description of the . With the exception of several renegadoes and false brethren, things passed smoothly on untill some time in the month of January when we were visited by three different tribes of Lamanites upon the most friendly terms, receiving us as their councillors both temporal and spiritual. The [p. [10]]
names of those tribes Menomonees, Chippewa and Winnebagoes, they informed us that all the land above the falls belongs to the Menomonee tribe, and that the Agents & the Governor, the general Agent in the North West of all the Indian affairs, had agreed with them to remove all the lumbermen from , Chippewa and Lemanware [Lemonware] rivers by their request, but after a lengthy conversation with them they felt to treat us as their friends and not their enemies—
We dispatched two messengers (namely) and to go immediately to , where they met with the Agent, who give them to understand we could get the timber which is already cut at a [p. [11]]
reasonable rate, and for any future prospect, we will be under the necessity of entering into a contract. We calculate the present prospect for lumber betwixt this and the last of July next, will be from 8 to 12 hundred thousand feet, which we deem will be all sufficient to finish the two houses, which will accomplish the mission on which we started to this country.
We therefore as a branch and a member of the body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints chose the following committee (namely) , , , and to correspond with your Revr. council, [p. [12]]
giving you our views concerning matters and things and requesting your council on the same— This committee views it inexpedient is to purchase standing timber on so rapid and unnavigable a stream for the purposes of making lumber to gain wealth. The Lamanites owning this land, notwithstanding their great anxiety to receive the Gospel and the book of Mormon have a strong desire, if councilled by us so to do, to go South West where game is more plenty as their only resource here for a living, is the pittiful annuities and proceeds from their pine timber, which timber is the only inducement to the [p. [13]]
Government to purchase their lands. This committee is therefore led to take a brief view of the South and Western part of North America, together with the Floridas, , West India Islands and the adjacent Islands to the Gulf of Mexico, together with the Lamanites bordering on the United Territories from Green Bay to the Mexican Gulf, all crying with one voice through the medium of their cheifs. give us an understanding of your doctrine and principles for we perceive that your ways are equal and your righteousness far exceeds the righteousness of all the Missionaries that we have yet become acquainted with, that your conduct with one another is like that of ours [p. [14]]
and that all your feasts and attendant ceremonies are precisely like ours.
Your servants the Committee have viewed the Colarado River with all its beautiful hills and vallies and fertile soil with deep regret when viewing the countless thousands of inhabitants on either side thereof, without the knowledge of God or the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and say in their hearts, would it be expedient to form a mission of those true and full blooded Ephraimites who from principle and love of the truth have born the most extreme burdens, fatigue and hunger to prosecute the mission to [p. [15]]
procure lumber sufficient to build the two houses, to open the door to all the regions which we have named, which regions have never yet had an opportunity to hear the gospel, and to be made acquainted with the plan of salvation; or shall they continue to suffer the fatigues of hunger, wet and cold in a rigid inclement climate for the pittiful sum that it shall avail them after undergoing those hazardous perils. Or shall they, like Timothy and Titus, with Paul, hazzard the perils of sea and land through the Southern States and West India Islands and all the Lamanite world, go forth and proclaim to them the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and teach [p. [16]]
them to build up Zion.
Is there not thousands of the rich planters who would embrace the gospel and if they had a place to plant their slaves, give all the proceeds of their yearly labor if rightly taught, for building up the Kingdom, being directed by the President of the whole church to make the right application? We answer yes, we believe they would—— Your servants the Committee are of the opinion that a concert and reciprocity of action between the North and the South would greatly advance the building up of the Kingdom. The Committee is well informed of the Cherokee and the Choctaw Nations who live between the State of Arkansas [p. [17]]
and the Colorado River of the Texas owning large plantations and thousands of Slaves and that they are also very desirous to have an interview with the Elders of this Church upon the principles of the Book of Mormon. This Committee is of the opinion that they can choose Soldiers for this expedition who are as undeviating in the principles of the doctrine of Christ and the Book of Mormon as the sun in his daily course, and as indefatigable in their exertions in this cause as the earth is in its daily revolution. This committee views it as a matter of investigation whether would the Southerner with his Slaves and abundance of wealth do better to take them to some slave [p. [18]]
holding point, keep them in lively exercise according to his former customs and habits, turning over his yearly proceeds into the hands of the trustee in trust for the whole church; or to abolish slavery and settle himself in a climate uncongenial to his nature and entirely derogatory to his former occupations in life.
After having procured the lumber for those two houses the Committee is of the opinion that the preaching the Gospel and raising funds in the South would be a far more speedy way of accomplishing the work than any other that could be introduced at the present time. [p. [19]]
We your servants, therefore will wait patiently the result of your Council and submit ourselves to the same with all cheerfulness, our only object being to advance the cause and Kingdom of God, stand ready to take hold whenever your wise council may consider it to be of the most advantage. This committee view with deep regret the many different teachings this church has received concerning the distribution of their property, such as raising funds for the printing of tracts, evidences of the Book of Mormon, and pamphlets of various descriptions, which we consider has not advanced the cause in the least degree, but has tended directly to sap the foundation of building the [p. [20]]
houses, We therefore believe that no person embracing the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, should give any part or parcel of their property without a direct council written or oral from the first Presidency of the Church.
Whereas the Committee having appointed & to write the views of the committee, each wrote separate & apart, having laid the same, before the committee, the Committee resolved that both productions be sent without alterations. We the committee conclude by subscribing ourselves your friends and well wishers in the Lord; praying a speedy answer [p. [21]]
from your worthy council or the word of the Lord.
Select Committee to write expression of the views of the branch of the Church at Black River Falls.
Joseph Smith Senr. P. C)
P. T.)
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
These letters were presented to president Joseph as before stated in the afternoon of Sunday the 10th. March 1844. Some conversation was had on the subject & a meeting appointed in the evening to be held over the at early candle light. The Twelve were notified to be present. [p. [22]]
At early candle light the brethren met according to appointment. President Joseph Smith called E[lde]r to the chair. The then called Er to be clerk of the meeting After being organized the called upon the to read the two letters from the which was done. The brethren then began each to express his views of the subject set forth in the letter. It was encouraging to witness the union of feeling which prevailed on the subject and it was plain that although separated a long distance from each other yet the same feelings had run through the minds of the brethren here as was [p. [23]] contained in the letters. Prest. Joseph said he wanted all the brethren to speak their minds on this subject and to say what was in their hearts whether good or bad. He did not want to be forever surrounded by a set of “dough heads” and if they did not rise up and shake themselves and exercise themselves in discussing these important matters he should consider them nothing better than “dough heads”. He gave some good advise which seemed to have due effect. The meeting was prolonged being occupied by several of the brethren speaking their views untill a late hour when upon motion the meeting adjourned untill tomorow at 9 o clock A.M. [p. [24]]
11 March 1844 • Monday

Editorial Note
On 11 March 1844 the Council of Fifty met at 9:00 a.m. in a large upstairs assembly room in the home of church member that was often used for meetings of the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge. JS’s journal also noted a meeting convened in the afternoon in the same location, and ’s journal noted that the men were “in Council again all day.” After the men took an oath to keep their proceedings secret, JS oversaw the formal organization of a new council. The twenty-three men present received JS as the council’s “standing chairman.” JS also gave them instructions on the unanimity required in decision making. In 1846 William Clayton recalled that at this meeting, the council resolved that their organization would be “an eternal principle.”
As with the minutes for the other initial meetings through 14 March 1844, evidently reconstructed these minutes at a later date. This may explain why the minutes do not mention a committee to draft a constitution. At the end of the 19 March minutes, likely the first minutes in this record written from loose contemporaneous notes, Clayton added the following: “On Monday the 11th. it was Resolved to draft a constitution which should be perfect, and embrace those principles which the constitution of the lacked, and on motion , and were appointed a committee to draft a constitution and present it to this council for their approval or disaproval.”

Monday March 11th. 1844 The council met in the room over brother s house at 9 o clock A.M. The brethren continued to express their views on the foregoing subjects and many others of importance. All seemed agreed to look to some place where we can go and establish a Theocracy either in or or somewhere in &c. The brethren spoke very warmly on the subject, and also on the subject of forming a constitution which shall be according to the mind of God and erect it between the heavens and the earth where all nations might flow unto it. This was considered as a “standard” to the people an ensign to the nations &c. [p. [25]] E[lde]r was very sanguine for the measure to be carried into effect. He said he had long desired it and now inasmuch as it had been proposed to organize this meeting into a council he was in favor of its being organized on an eternal principle after the order of God, every member of it to be bound to eternal secrecy as to what passed here, not to have the privilege of telling anything which might be talked of to any person even to our wives, and the man who broke the rule “should lose his cursed head”. He finally offered this as a resolution which was passed unanimously and became a law of the council. Prest. Joseph gave much instructions on many subjects & laid down the order of organization after the pattern of [p. [26]] heaven. The following brethren being present they were all unanimously admitted members of the council to wit. President Joseph Smith was received as our standing chairman. , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , [,] , , and . These brethren were all seated in order according to their ages the oldest member being seated at the right hand of the chairman and forming a semicircle in front [p. [27]] of the chair the youngest member seated at the left of the chairman. Whenever any resolution was offered to the council all the members had to vote viva voce beginning at the oldest and on down to the youngest. was appointed Recorder and Clerk. After this organization and all having taken their seats the chairman continued his instructions. He said it was universally necessary before any resolution could become a law to have the vote of all the members of the council unless some of the members should be absent on business for the council. The most perfect harmony prevailed during the whole of this council and the brethren all feel as though the day of our deliverance was at hand. <​see March 19. close of minutes​> [p. [28]]
13 March 1844 • Wednesday

Editorial Note
JS’s journal notes that the council met on 12 March, a date for which ’s council record contains no entry. According to JS’s journal, JS told local schoolteacher to find another place to meet because he “wanted the room over the for more impo[r]tant purposes.” JS then “calld the council of the previous day which assembld in the P.M. & ev[en]ing” in the assembly room above his store. Clayton, who apparently reconstructed the council record entries of 10–14 March from his journal, likely did not attend the 12 March meeting. His journal entry for 12 March notes, “At the Prest. all day Recording Deeds. P.M. at the Lodge.”
may have also missed part of a council meeting held the morning of 13 March. In the following account of the 13 March meeting, which expands upon his journal entry for that day, Clayton stated that the meeting began at eleven o’clock. However, JS’s journal notes that in the morning JS was “in council 9. to 12.” Sources suggest that the council met in the morning, afternoon, and evening on 13 March. It likely met in the assembly room in the upper story of JS’s , where it had met the day before. JS’s journal also notes that on 13 March he and gave council member a “letter of Attorney to transact business in .” This note appears between mention of the morning meeting and a note regarding another council meeting apparently held later in the day. Fielding left for England that day. wrote that he attended the council for the first time on 13 March, after arriving in that evening.
This retrospective entry in ’s council record—which focuses on the admittance of , , and —clearly fails to record most of the day’s council discussion and may conflate or confuse the timing of events. No other record exists to clarify what occurred.

Wednesday March 13, 1844 This morning at 11 o clock the council was convened by order of the chairman. After organization the chairman presented Elders , , and to the council for their admission to membership. The letters from were read and the nature and object of the meeting explained by the chairman after which the candidates were called <​up​>on to express their feelings and determinations and say if they were willing to abide by the Resolution offered by E[lde]r . The brethren then stated their determination to abide by the order [p. [29]] and their gratification for the glorious prospects in view. Their feelings corresponded with the rest on the subject touched upon in the letters. A vote was then taken and they were unanimously admitted members of the council.
For the benifit of these brethren the other members were requested to state the proceedings of the previous meetings which was done.
14 March 1844 • Thursday

Editorial Note
On 14 March 1844 the council met in the upper floor of JS’s from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. ’s retrospective account lacks the detail that contemporary notes could have supplied, nor could he rely on the uninformative entry in his own diary. This brief account in the minutes focused on only one event: receiving by revelation the name of the Kingdom of God. In December 1846 William Clayton described for new members of the council the reception of this revelation. He reported that, following “the main subject of discussion” during the council meeting, JS himself wrote the revelation “on a scrip.”
JS’s journal for this day additionally notes that council member was “sent out on a Mission.” Woodworth’s assignment included traveling to the and negotiating with President regarding the possibilities of a Mormon settlement. According to a later recollection, council member was also sent to the to “bring down ” and to “be back by the time Woodworth might return from Texas.” Miller stated that he and Woodworth left for these assignments on the same day, likely shortly after this council meeting. Miller returned to with Wight on 1 May 1844; Woodworth arrived on 2 May 1844 and reported on his mission in a council meeting the following day.

Thursday March 14th. 1844 This day the council was together all day again, and the same subjects continued in discussion: as previously. The name of the council was discussed and the Lord was pleased to give the following Revelation; “Verily thus saith the [p. [30]] Lord, this is the name by which you shall be called, The Kingdom of God and his Laws, with the keys and power thereof, and judgement in the hands of his servants.
Ahman Christ.”
This was read to the council and a vote taken whether the members would adopt that as their name. the vote was unanimous in the affirmative. When this was given there was a general feeling of joy and gratitude ran through the brethren, every heart was satisfied and we had a season of rejoicing before the Lord. It was considered wisdom to burn the minutes in consequence of treachery and plots of designing men.— [p. [31]]
19 March 1844 • Tuesday

Editorial Note
The council met on 19 March 1844 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and reconvened at 2:00 p.m. wrote in his journal that he attended the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge in the evening, suggesting that the afternoon meeting of the council did not last into the evening. JS’s journal notes that the council met in the assembly room—the main room in the second story of JS’s .
Beginning with this entry in the record, the accounts of the meetings are more detailed. ’s record of the previous meeting notes that a decision was made to burn the minutes. From this 19 March entry forward, it appears that Clayton used his rough minutes to create these record book entries, rather than reconstructing the meetings from journal notes and memory at some point later in 1844.
After eight new members were admitted to the council, JS gave “instructions on the order of the kingdom of God,” which were not recorded. proposed a measure that would receive careful attention in future meetings—that the council petition the federal government to authorize JS to raise volunteers to protect and from foreign invasion. and others contrasted the nations of the earth with the kingdom that God would establish. Council members drew upon Daniel and other books of the Bible to discuss the expected triumph of the kingdom of God and principles of truth.

Tuesday March 19th. 1844 Council met at 9 A.M and organized according to order after which the chairman presented , , , , , , , and for admission to membership.
The object of the council and its order was made known to these candidates by the chairman, who also gave many instructions on the privileges & blessings pertaining to the kingdom of God. On being called upon the candidates severally expressed their willingness and determination to abide by the regulation of the council, whereupon they were [p. [32]] unanimously admitted members of the kingdom and took their seats in order.
The Chairman continued his instructions on the order of the kingdom of God.
E[lde]r followed the chairman and said that the time was at hand when the prophecies should be fulfilled, when the nations were ready to embrace the gospel and when the ensign should be lift up and the standard to the people and he believed if we will set up the standard and raise the ensign the honest in heart of all nations will immediately begin to flock to the standard of our God.
On motion the Clerk read the two letters from for the benifit [p. [33]] of the new members. The name of the council was also read and unanimously accepted. after which Er addressed the council on the subject of the filfillment of the prophecies of Daniel showing that the time is at hand when the principles of eternal truth & righteousness shall prevail. He next took a view of the positions and prospects of the different nations of the earth. He referred especially to the , Ireland, Scotland, , Poland, Switzerland, &c. He concluded his remarks untill this afternoon and the council then adjourned an hour and a half. [p. [34]]
2 o clock P.M. Council met pursuant to adjournment and proceeded to business.
Er presented the following resolution for the consideration of the council— “Resolved that a “communication be made immediately to the General Government through our representative, , specifying that General Joseph Smith will protect the and from all foreign invasion if the General Government will authorise him to raise volunteers in the for that purpose”
On motion of the Resolution was laid on the table to be considered at a succeeding meeting. [p. [35]]
Er made some remarks on general subjects.
Er continued his remarks concerning the situation of the different nations of the earth showing that they were ripe to receive the truth and that it is our duty and privilege to put them in possession of it and we are willing to do it.
Elder commenced his remarks by expressing his gratitude for the privilege of addressing the Council under present circumstances. He read Genesis chap 10 and from that chapter entered into a lengthy address on the subject of the kingdom of God. He referred to the character of Nimrod and the kingdom he established and followed the course of the history of [p. [36]] the several kingdoms down to the days of Nebuchadnezar and then to the present day in which we live. He contrasted the forms of the government of the different nations with that which God design’d to establish as spoken of by the prophet Daniel. He particularly referred to the idea that the dominion of Japheth is extended over the whole earth and showed that it was destined to be transferred into the hands of Shem and his posterity.
Er followed . He gave a spirited view of the glorious prospects awaiting the people of God, and the certainty that God will establish his kingdom according to the predictions of Daniel. He expressed his utmost delight in the in the work of God and his determination to abide true and faithful. [p. [37]]
Er followed in the same strain with the preceeding speakers.
Er referred to some of the remarks of Er and then to the image spoken of by Daniel especially to the toes of the image, showing that <​as​> the Iron would not mix with the clay no more would the principles of eternal truth mix with the dogma’s of Sectarianism, nor the principles of the kingdom of God amalgamate with the injustice and oppression of the kingdoms of the world. He next referred to the prophecy of Isaiah where he says as soon as Zion travelled she brought forth her children and inasmuch as the kingdom of God is established it will roll and fill the whole earth [p. [38]]
After got through the council adjourned untill thursday morning next at 9 o clock
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
On Monday the 11th. it was Resolved to draft a constitution which should be perfect, and embrace those principles which the constitution of the lacked, and on motion , and were appointed a committee to draft a constitution and present it to this council for their approval or disaproval. [5 lines blank] [p. [39]]
21 March 1844 • Thursday

Editorial Note
On 21 March 1844 the council met from 9:00 a.m. to noon and reconvened at 2:00 p.m. attended a meeting of the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge in the evening, suggesting that the afternoon meeting of the council did not extend into the evening. JS’s journal notes that the council met “over the Store”—probably in the main assembly room in the second story of JS’s . JS appointed , the oldest member of the council, to serve as the chairman pro tem in the morning and , the next oldest member, in the afternoon.
The council decided to petition Congress to make JS a member of the U.S. Army, with authority to take volunteers into the western borderlands to protect and from foreign invasion. A committee was appointed to draft the petition, and was chosen to carry it to . The council also decided to send on a mission “to the Lamanites to instruct them to unite together.” JS recommended that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles select men to travel throughout the states to electioneer for his presidential campaign.

Thursday March 21— 1844 Council met at 9 A.M pursuant to adjournment and opened by prayer from Elder .
The chairman appointed Elder chairman pro. tem.
E[lde]r called up his resolution offered on the 19th. inst. which was then ordered to be laid on the table
Er motioned that the minutes of the last meeting be read.
Er begged to offer an amendment to motion viz. that the word be stricken out inasmuch as the had no jurisdiction over that Territory.
rose to a point of order [p. [40]] wherefore the motion to read the minutes was decided to be in order which was done and they were accepted.
asked some information respecting the manner of keeping the minutes which was answered by the standing chairman.
On motion the Resolution of Er was taken up for reconsideratin
The standing chairman made some remarks on the resolution showing the necessity and propriety of petitioning government for the purposes therein set forth.
Er agreed with the preceeding speaker and was of opinion that if we petitioned Congress they would grant our petition & gave reasons. [p. [41]]
Er agreed with the preceeding speakers. Beleived congress would grant our petition. He referred to a speech made made by Mr [Robert Dale] Owen in the house of Representatives on the subject of the .
Mr referred to a correspondence between & the authorities of . He said there was a precedent on record and recommended the sending of the petition.
Er was in favor of petitioning Congress.
Prest. Joseph Smith the chairman made some very encouraging and instructive remarks on the subject before the council. After which there was a call for the question which was put & unanimous [p. [42]]ly agreed to.
requested permission to retire on account of his health— agreed to.
The standing chairman read an article from the Congressional Globe.
Er offered an amendment to the resolution just passed by adding the words “foreign invasion & savage aggression” instead of “foreign foes”.
Er made some remarks on the amendment.
The standing charman resumed instructions
Er moved that a committee of three be appointed to draught a petition agreeable to the Resolution offered by to present to Congress. which motion was carried in affirmative
Motioned that , [p. [43]] and compose said committee—which was carried unanimously in the affirmative.
asked if it was designed that this appointment should hinder the one previously made, to which the standing chairman replied they must continue their labors on the constitution at 12 the council adjourned 2 hours.
2 o clock P.M. Council met pursuant to adjournment The chairman called to the Chair The minutes of this mornings council was read and accepted.
On motion of a letter was read which was written to Col. by Er . [p. [44]] and it was ordered that said letter be forwarded immediately.
motion for amendment offered in the A.M. was considered & lost.
On motion of the standing chairman Er was appointed to carry our petition to Congress.
Er expressed his most sanguine expectations that Congress would almost certainly grant our petition.
Er agreed with and expressed his gratification at for the appointment conferred upon him and his willingness to perform the mission.
made some lengthy and animated remarks on various subjects particularly on the situation of & [p. [45]] her position in regard to other nations.
The made some remarks on his experience and views on various subjects.
The standing chairman arose to move that brother be sent on a mission to the Lamanites to instruct them to unite together and cease their enmity towards each other, to & to be diligent and faithful for that would be pleasing in the sight of our heavenly father.
The motion was seconded by
Er asked a question for information which was answered by Prest. J.
Er was favorable to the mission
proposed that have someone to go with him.
Prest. J. Smith objected. He considered [p. [46]] it altogether unnecessary.
Er asked for further explanation of the nature of the nature mission which was also explained by prest. Joseph.
The question was called for, whereupon the vote was unanimous in the affirmative
Prest. J. Smith proposed that some one be appointed on a mission to Springfield and nominated Er
The motion was seconded by the vote was unanimous in affirmative
Prest. J. Smith moved that be requested to accompany to , and requested Er to relate an anecdote concerning having a discussion with a Mr Slocum a sectarian priest, which was done. [p. [47]] Prest. J. Smith motioned that Er have a mission appointed him to which was seconded by Er and carried unanimously.
Er moved that the Elders who are sent out by this council, begin their operations & preach from the time they leave this council untill they return.
A motion was made to adjourn till Tuesday next at 9 o clock A.M.
Er arose to ask some instructions which was given by Prest. J. Smith. He also asked whether he should fulfil his intended mission to . Answer’d in the affirmative
Er asked a question which was answered by prest. J. Smith [p. [48]]
Mr made some observations concerning the feelings & views of in regard to the proceedings of the Senate.
Prest. J. Smith recommended that the Twelve should select men from the Quorums of the seventies and High Priests and send them to preach and electioneer through the different States, and then as many of the Twelve as can, follow these Elders and hold conferences in the various branches of the Church through the States. He then gave Er some instructions pertaining to his mission. Especially advising him not to suffer any part of the memorial to be stricken out, but if Congress will not pass it in its pure [p. [49]] original State, let them reject it altogether. He did not care whether Congress would grant it or not, it would serve to goad them with.
Mr moved that a copy of the memorial agreed to this A.M. should be put into the hands of for consideration in the Senate at the same time that agitates the subject in the house. The motion was passed by unanimous vote.
After a variety of observations from the brethren on subjects of minor importance the motion to adjourn was renewed and agreed to. and the council adjourned untill next tuesday at 9 o clock A.M. [p. [50]]
26 March 1844 • Tuesday

Editorial Note
On 26 March 1844 the council met from 9:00 a.m. to noon and from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. In the morning a draft of the petition to Congress was read. In the afternoon served as the chairman pro tem. The petition was discussed and approved, and a similar petition to the of the was commissioned. This was the extent of the central business before the council this day but was not all that occurred during the six hours of meeting. Although recorded action on practical and procedural matters, his minutes fall silent at points of broader instruction or discourse. For example, the transactional record of the morning session is interrupted by a statement that JS instructed the council “on heavenly things and many other important subjects,” but Clayton provides no hint of what JS said. In the afternoon session, after noting lengthy discussion about the day’s practical matters, Clayton wrote that “inasmuch as there was no business before the house” addressed the council on the “kingdom of God,” but the record only briefly characterizes the speech.
A significant event likely occurred in this meeting, probably in the morning session, about which the minutes are silent but which council members discussed a year later in connection with a written summary prepared by . ’s brief note that JS spoke “on heavenly things and many other important subjects” likely marks what was later referred to as JS’s “last charge.” This may have been an extension of the charge relating the history, purpose, and rules of the council that was typically given to new members and that JS may have delivered in this meeting. The most complete recorded version of this charge was written down by in December 1846. On that occasion William Clayton related that at the organization of the Council of Fifty, JS stated that the council served two purposes: it was to establish “the Kingdom spoken of by Daniel” and “to take from his [JS’s] shoulders a great weight of responsibility & place it in others.” Hyde’s description of the late March 1844 event, discussed in the council on 25 March 1845, indicates that JS told the council, “I roll the burthen and responsibility of leading this church off from my shoulders on to yours. Now, round up your shoulders and stand under it like men; for the Lord is going to let me rest a while.”

Tuesday March 26th. 1844 9 o clock A.M. The Council met pursuant to adjournment and opened by singing, and prayer by E[lde]r . After which the roll was called and the minutes of the last council read and accepted.
President Joseph Smith in the chair
The chairman then introduced the following persons for admission into the council viz; Uncle , , , , , , , and and gave a short history of what had been done previously by the council pertaining [p. [51]] to missions &c for the benifit of those who had not previously attended council He also gave some instructions pertaining to the kingdom of God. In his remarks he referred to the conduct of .
The brethren proposed for admission each spake their feelings & their determination to abide by the order of the council. referred to the course he had taken with and the feeling he had for him inasmuch as he was the one who baptized him. He felt unwilling to give him up, but would not sanction nor coincide with his treachery and opposition to Prest. Smith A motion was made that the above brethren be received which was carried unanimously. [p. [52]]
Prest. J. Smith continued his instructions on heavenly things and many other important subjects.
The Those brethren who were admitted members took their seats in order.
The title of the Council was read to the new members and unanimously accepted.
Er , asked some furthr information concerning s mission and whether he should take with him anyone from .
Er explained some of the difficulties and sufferings of such a mission and asked instruction.
The Chairman replied and gave the instructions.
On motion the committee appointed [p. [53]] at the last council to draught a memorial to send to congress made report and by their clerk read the said memorial to the council as follows.
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the , in Congress assembled.
Your memorialist, a free born citizen of these , respectfully sheweth, that, from his infancy his soul has been filled with the most intense and philanthropic interest for the welfare of his native country; and being fired with an ardor, which floods cannot quench, crowns cannot conquer, nor diplomatic intrigue corrupt, to see those principles, which emanated from the bosoms of [p. [54]]
the fathers of seventy six; and which cost the noblest talents, and richest blood of the nation, maintained inviolate, and perpetuated to future generations; and the proud eagle of American freedom soar triumphant over every party prejudice, and local sinistry; and spread her golden pinions over every member of the human family, who shall stretch forth their hands for succor from the Lions paw, or the oppressors grasp: and firmly trusting in the God of Liberty, that he has designed universal peace and good will, union and brotherly love to all the great family of man, Your memorialist asks your honorable body to pass the following, ordinance
An Ordinance for the protection [p. [55]]
of the citizens of the emigrating to the adjoining territories, and for the extension of the principles of universal Liberty.
Whereas many of the citizens of these have migrated, and are migrating to , and other lands contiguous to this nation; And whereas has declared herself free and independant, without the necessary power to protect her rights and liberties: And whereas is without any organized government, and those who emigrate thither are exposed to foreign invasion, and domestic feuds: And Whereas the , by geographic location, and discovery more right [p. [56]]
fully belongs to these , than to any other general Government: And Whereas it is necessary that the emigrants of that newly setling territory should receive protection: And whereas the Texian Government has petitioned the to be received into our , but yet retains her national existance: And Whereas the remember with gratitude, the seasonable support they received, in a like situation from a La Fayette: And whereas the desire to see the principles of her free institutions extended to all men; especially where it can be done without the loss of blood and treasure to the nation: And whereas there is an almost boundless extent of territory on the west and south [p. [57]]
of these , where exists little or no organization of protective government: And Whereas the lands thus unknown, unowned, or unoccupied, are among some of the richest and most fertile of the continent; And whereas many of the inhabitants of the would gladly embrace the opportunity of extending their researches, and acquirements, so soon as they can receive protection in their enterprize; thereby adding strength, durability and wealth to the nation: And Whereas the red man, the robber, and the desparado have frequently interrupted such research and acquisition without justifiable cause; And whereas Joseph Smith has offered, and does [p. [58]]
hereby offer these : To show his loyalty to our confederate , and the constitution of our : To prevent quarrel and bloodshed on our frontiers: To extend the arm of deliverance to : To protect the inhabitants of from foreign aggression, and domestic broils: To prevent the crowned nations from encircleing us as a nation on our western and Southern borders and save the Eagle’s talon from the Lions paw: To still the tongue of slander, and show the world that a Republic can be, and not be ungrateful: To open the vast regions of the unpeopled west and South to our enlightened and enterprising yeomanry: To protect [p. [59]]
them in their researches; To secure them in their locations, and thus strengthen the government and enlarge her borders; To extend her influence: To inspire the nations with the spirit of freedom, and win them to her standard: To promote inteligence; To cultivate and establish peace among all with whom we may have intercourse as neighbors: To settle all existing difficulties among those not organized into an acknowledged government, bordering upon the and territories: To save the national revenue in the nations coffers; To supercede the necessity of a standing army on our western and Southern frontier: To create and maintain the prin [p. [60]]
ciples of peace, and suppress mobs, insurrections, and oppression in , and all lands bordering upon the , and not incorporated into any acknowledged national government: To explore the unexplored regions of our continent: To open new fields for enterprize to our citizens, and protect them therein: To search out the antiquities of the land, and thereby promote the arts, and sciences, and general information: To amalgamate the feelings of all with whom he may have intercourse, on the principles of equity, liberty, justice, humanity and benevolence: To break down tyranny and oppression, and exalt the standard [p. [61]]
of universal peace;— Provided he shall be protected in those rights and privileges which constitutionally belong to every citizen of this :— Therefore that the said memorialist may have the privilege; and that no citizen of these shall obstruct, or attempt to obstruct or hinder, so good, so great, so noble an enterprize, to carry out those plans and principles, as set forth in this preamble; and be shielded from every opposition by evil and designing men:—
Sec 1. Be it ordained by the Senate and House of Representatives of the in Congress assembled, that Joseph Smith, of the City of , in the State of Illinois [p. [62]]
is hereby authorised and empowered to raise a company of one hundred thousand armed volunteers, in the and Territories, at such times and places, and in such numbers, as he shall find necessary and convenient for the purposes specified in the foregoing preamble; and to execute the same.
Sec. 2. And be it further ordained that if any person or persons shall hinder or attempt to hinder or molest the said Joseph Smith, from executing his designs in raising said volunteers, and marching or transporting the same to the borders of the and [p. [63]]
territories, he or they so hindering, molesting or offending, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars each, for every offence; or by hard labor on some public work not exceeding two years, or both, at the discretion of the nearest District court of the , where the hindrance or offence shall be committed, having jurisdiction.
Sec. 3. And be it further ordained the more fully to remove all obstructions and hindrances to the raising, enlisting, and marching the volunteers as aforesaid, the said Joseph Smith is hereby constituted a member of the army of the , and is authorised to act as [p. [64]]
such in the and Territories and on all lands bordering upon the and territories for the purposes specified in the foregoing preamble, provided said land shall not be within the acknowledged jurisdiction of any acknowledged national government.
Sec. 4. And be it further ordained that nothing in this ordinance shall be so construed by any individual or nation, as to consider the volunteers aforesaid, as constituting any part of the army of the ; neither shall the said Joseph Smith, as a member of the United States Army disturb the peace of any nation or [p. [65]]
government acknowledged as such, break the faith of treaties between the and any other nation, or violate any known law of nations, thereby endangering the peace of the .
Sec 5. And be it further ordained, that the said Joseph Smith shall confine his operations to those principles of action specified in the preamble to this ordinance, the perpetuity of which shall be commensurate with the circumstances and specifications which have originated it
And your memorialist will ever pray &c Joseph Smith
City of Illinois)
March 26— 1844)
Council adjourned till 2 o clock [p. [66]]
Mch 26— 2 o clock P.M. Council met pursuant to adjournment
in the chair.
On motion the minutes of this mornings council were read and on motion of amended by adding a Resolution relative to laying a report of the committee on the table to be taken up after adjournment.
On motion the “Memorial” which was laid on the table this A.M. was taken up for reconsideration and read a second time.
offered a Resolution to amend said memorial by striking out the word “ordained” and adding the word “enacted” instead thereof which was seconded. [p. [67]]
of the committee explained the reason why the word “ordained” was adopted.
Prest. Jh. Smith made some remarks in favor of sustaining the word “ordained” as it now stands.
Er asked a question on that portion of the Memorial which asks Congress to acknowledge prest. Smith a member of the Army, which was answered and explained by prest. Joseph Smith.
also explained.
Er believed that the word “ordained” was more proper than the word “enact” and was in favor of sustaining it in the memorial
The question was then called for, [p. [68]] and the Resolution was put and carried by unanimous vote in favor of sustaining the word ordained.
Er motioned that the memorial be received which was secd by Er .
Er asked a question on that clause relative to raising volunteers which was answered by explanation from President Joseph Smith,
whereupon the question was called for, and the motion unanimously received.
Prest. Joseph Smith motioned that a memorial be likewise sent to the of the with a similar request, which was seconded by Er [p. [69]] & carried unanimously.
Er motioned that a committee of three be appointed to draught & revise a memorial to the of which was secd. by prest. J. Smith
Er was of the opinion that one was sufficient to draught said memorial.
Er withdrew his motion.
Er moved that a committee of one be appointed for the purpose of preparing the memorial to the which was seconded & carried unanimouly
On motion it was Resolved that the Recorder revise said memorial
Prest. Joseph Smith arose to suggest the idea of sending an Elder to to preach the gospel of liberty and [p. [70]] Salvation to that nation inasmuch as he believed they were ripe to receive the truth.
Er addressed the council on the subject before them and also on the present prospects of the kingdom. He felt as though he could prophecy that Congress would grant our memorial. He spake much on the subject of sending a proclamation to the kings of the earth
spake of the building up of the kingdom and his delight in the work Also the glorious prospect of deliverance to the poor and oppressed of his native country through the influence of the gospel, the ensign of liberty. [p. [71]]
Er followed with remarks on the subjects touched upon by preceeding speakers & referred particularly to the image spoken of by Daniel.
addressed the council on the subject of the kingdom of God. inasmuch as there was no business before the house. He entered into the subject in a most spirited & animated manner, showing the glory and joy which will exist when God reigns over the nation, when oppression shall cease, and the righteous enjoy the blessings of the kingdom.
Er spake of the fulfilment of prophecies and illustrated the establishment of the kingdom of God in a pleasing manner. [p. [72]]
Er asked some questions pertaining to the kingdom of God for information, which was answered by explanation from Pres J. Smith
The letters from were called for and read.
Er made some remarks on the present appearances of things as they exist between and .
Prest. J. Smith did not doubt but the matters stated by the last speaker are true & assigned some reasons.
On motion the council adjourned untill next thursday week at 9 o clock A.M.—— [p. [73]]
4 April 1844 • Thursday

Editorial Note
On 4 April 1844 the council met from 9:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the “reading Room,” probably the main room (or assembly room) in the second story of JS’s . In the morning the council was visited by eleven Potawatomi Indians who were seeking help to avoid losing their land. During the spring and summer of 1843, three delegations of Potawatomi had traveled to and asked JS and the Latter-day Saints for assistance and advice in their struggles with white Americans. As he had to these earlier groups, JS expressed his support to the eleven Potawatomis during the council meeting and encouraged them to be at peace with other American Indian nations. During the afternoon meeting JS called to serve as chairman pro tem. JS and others discussed the constitution being drafted for the council and spoke on principles of law and government.

Thursday April 4th. 1844 9 o clock A.M. Council met pursuant to adjournment Prest. Joseph Smith in the chair
The chairman introduced & to the council.
The minutes of the last meeting was read and accepted after which Prest. J. Smith arose to explain the object of the council to those who had not been previous. He also stated the principles on which the council was organized
They cheerfully conceded to the order whereupon on motion of E[lde]r they were admitted members by the unanimous vote of the council and took their seats in proper order [p. [74]]
On motion, Er read a communication from the Washington Globe on the subject of General Joseph Smiths views of the powers & policy of the government of the
A letter by representative was also read by the chairman
arose to make a few remarks on general subjects. He referred largely to the anticipations of the Ancients respecting the glories of the days in which we live, showing that the Angels had joy in heaven when before the creation they looked down and saw the privileges we enjoy in this organization.
During the time was speaking eleven of the Potawottamie [p. [75]] tribe of Indians attended by a French Interpreter appeared & were admitted into the council. They made known that they were friendly to the Mormon people, and wanted their influence They had been oppressed by the government and did not want to sell