Minutes, 24 February 1834

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

, Feb.’ 24, 1834.
The of the met this day at the house of Joseph Smith Junr. for the purpose of giveing an audience or hearing to and , representatives from , to represent to us the state of the church in that place.
Joseph, the president, opened the council by prayer. Two of the standing counsellors were absent, namely, and . was chosen to act in the place of and to act in the place of . Thus the high council was organiz[e]d and six of the counsellors were appointed to speak. Bro’s. and , messengers from , arose and laid their business before the council and delivered their message. the substance of which, was, an inquiry when, how and by what means was to be redeemed from our enemies. They said that our brethern who had been driven away from their lands and scattered abroad had found so much favour in the eyes of the people that they could obtain food and raiment of them for their labour insomuch that they were comfortable. But the idea of being driven away from the land of pained their very souls and they desired of God, by earnest prayer, to return with songs of everlasting joy as said Isaiah, the Prophet.
They also said that none of their lands were sold into [p. 41] the hands of our enemies except a piece owned by bro. of thirty acres which he sold into the hands of the enemy, and seven acres more which he would have sold to the enemy if a brother had not come forward & purchased it and paid him his money Bro. Joseph then arose and said that he was going to to assist in redeeming it. He then called for the voice of the to sanction his going which was given without a dissenting voice. He then called for volunteers to go with him, when some thirty or forty volunteered to go who were then present at the council. It was a question whether we should go by water or by land, and after a short investigation it was decided unanimously that we go by land. Joseph Smith Jun. was nominated and seconded to be the Commander in Chief of the and the leader of those who volunteered to go and assist in the redemption of , and carried by the vote of all present. Council then adjourned by prayer and thanksgiveing.
[p. 42]


  1. 1

    According to Lyman Wight’s journal, he and Pratt departed Missouri on 12 January 1834 and arrived in Kirtland on 22 February. (Wight, Journal, in History of the Reorganized Church, 1:401–402.)  

    The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 8 vols. Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1896–1976.

  2. 2

    Revised minutes of the meeting on 17 February 1834, which organized the high council, explained that the president of the church was “also the president of the council,” in accordance with “the dignity of his office.” (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:9–10].)  

  3. 3

    The high council was required to have at least seven of the twelve regularly appointed counselors in attendance to act. Those seven had “power to appoint other high priests whom they may consider worthy and capable to act in the place of absent counsellors.” (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:6–7].)  

  4. 4

    The number of counselors appointed to speak depended on the difficulty of the issue. If the issue was not deemed difficult, only two were appointed to speak. For a case that was considered difficult, four were appointed, “and if more difficult, six”—the maximum number that could be appointed. (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:14].)  

  5. 5

    The 16–17 December 1833 revelation referred to two means by which the redemption of Zion would occur: raising a force of young and middle-aged men to reclaim the land and having branches of the church raise money to purchase land in Missouri, on which church members could then gather. (Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:55–56, 67–74].)  

  6. 6

    According to one report, residents of Clay County, to which the majority of church members had fled, were “as kind and accommodating” to the refugees “as could reasonably be expected.” (Parley P. Pratt et al., “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Extra, Feb. 1834, [2].)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  7. 7

    See Isaiah 35:10; 51:11.  

  8. 8

    JS had on multiple occasions instructed Missouri church members to retain their Jackson County lands. On 18 August 1833, he told Missouri church leaders that “it is the will of the Lord that . . . not one foot of land perchased should be given to the enimies of God or sold to them.” He reiterated this counsel to Edward Partridge on 5 December 1833: “I would inform you that it is not the will of the Lord for you to sell your Lands in Zion if means can possably be procured for their sustenance without.” In addition, a 16–17 December 1833 revelation stated, “Therefore it is my will that my people should claim and hold claim upon that which I have appointed unto them though they should not be permited to dwell thereon.” (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833; Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833; Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:99].)  

  9. 9

    On 14 December 1833, McLellin sold nearly seven acres, which he had purchased on 15 August 1833, in Jackson County to James Newberry, a member of the church, for eighty-five dollars. This land was located just west of Independence, Missouri. Where the other thirty acres were located is not clear, as there is no extant record of McLellin making another sale in late 1833 or early 1834. Part of the land may have been two lots off of Independence’s Main Street that McLellin had purchased in 1832 after moving to Jackson County. (Jackson Co., MO, Deed Records, 1827–1909, vol. C, p. 34, 14 Dec. 1833, microfilm 1,017,979, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Johnson, Mormon Redress Petitions, 593; Jackson Co., MO, Deed Records, 1827–1909, vol. B, pp. 328–329, 15 Aug. 1833, microfilm 1,017,978, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; William E. McLellin, Jackson Co., MO, to Samuel McLellin, Carthage, TN, 4 Aug. 1832, in Shipps and Welch, Journals of William E. McLellin, 83.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

    Johnson, Clark V., ed. Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833–1838 Missouri Conflict. Religious Studies Center Monograph Series 16. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1992.

    McLellin, William E. Letter, Independence, MO, to Samuel McLelin, Carthage, TN, 4 Aug. 1832. Photocopy. Private possession. Copy at CHL. MS 617.

  10. 10

    Even though this meeting was a meeting of the high council, other church members apparently attended. At the formation of the high council on 17 February 1834, nine high priests, seventeen elders, four priests, and thirteen “private members” were present. High priests, elders, priests, teachers, and “private members” also attended a 19 February high council meeting. (Minutes, 17 Feb. 1834; Minutes, 19 Feb. 1834.)  

  11. 11

    Because traveling by water was faster than traveling by land, it is unclear why the meeting attendees would have decided to travel by land. It is possible they made this decision in order to save money. A guidebook from the 1830s stated that to get from Cleveland to Cincinnati (presumably by water) would cost roughly four and a half to six cents per person per mile. Then, traveling from Cincinnati to Louisville by steamboat would cost three dollars, and from Louisville to St. Louis would cost twelve dollars per person. Such costs could be prohibitive, especially for a large group. In addition, an August 1831 revelation had told JS and a group of elders traveling from Independence to Kirtland that “there are many dangers upon the waters” and that “it shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land of Zion upon the waters but he that is upright in heart.” ([Baird], View of the Valley of the Mississippi, 363; Revelation, 12 Aug. 1831 [D&C 61:4, 16].)  

    [Baird, Robert]. View of the Valley of the Mississippi; or, The Emigrant’s and Traveller’s Guide to the West. . . . 2nd ed. Philadelphia: H. S. Tanner, 1834.

  12. 12

    An August 1833 article in the Painesville Telegraph hinted that the Mormons in Jackson County might be aided by a church military force: “We learn that some Davids or Goliaths are to be dispatched immediately by the prophet to the relief of the brethren in the wilderness.” William E. McLellin, who was living in Missouri at this time and who was not present at this high council meeting, later recounted that Lyman Wight “was fully imbued with the war spirit, and inspired Smith and company with the idea of redeeming Zion, viz the Church of Zion with men of War!!” (Report, Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 16 Aug. 1833, [3]; McLellin, “Some of My Thoughts in 1878,” [5], underlining in original.)  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

    McLellin, William E. “Some of My Thoughts in 1878, Why I Am Not an L. D. Saint of Any Click or Party,” 1878. William E. McLellin, Papers, 1831–1836, 1877–1878. CHL. MS 13538, box 1, fd. 9. Also available in Stan Larson and Samuel J. Passey, eds., The William E. McLellin Papers, 1854–1880 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2007).