Minutes, 7–11 April 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Minutes of the general of the held at the City of , Hancock Co. Ill. on the seventh day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-one.
Conference convened at 10 o’clock A. M. when the names of the of the several were called, who took their seats on the stand, and their councillors immediately in front. The meeting was then called to order, and the choir under the superintendence of sung a hymn, and the conference was opened by an address to the throne of grace by .
The was then called upon to read the report of the First Presidency, which was read.
On motion. Resolved that the report be printed in the Times and Seasons.
arose and stated, that in consequence of his weakness from his labors of yesterday, he would call upon Gen. to officiate in his place.
then read the revelations from “The Book of the Law of the Lord,” which had been received since the last general Conference, in relation to writing a proclamation to the kings of the earth, building a in , the organization of the church &c.
Pres. Jos. Smith rose and made some observations in explanation of the same, and likewise of the necessity which existed of building the , that the saiints might have a suitable place for worshiping the Almighty, and also the building of the , that suitable accomodations might be afforded for the strangers who might visit this .
The choir sung a hymn, and the meeting adjourned for one hour.
Conference met pursuant to adjournment and was called to order by Pres. .
The choir sung a hymn, and Pres’t. addressed the throne of grace.
, read the charters granted by the Legislature of this state for incorporating the “City of ,” the ,” “The University of the City of Nauvoo,” “The Agricultural and Manufactoring Association” & for the “.”
On Motion; Resolved; That the charters now read be received by the Church.
Carried unanimously.
Pres’t. arose and gave an exhortation to the assembly.
Gen. , then spoke at some length on the present situation, prospects, and condition of the church, and remarked that the hand of God must indeed be visible, in accomplishing the great blessings and prosperity of the [p. 386] , and called upon the saints to be faithful and obedient in all things, and likewise forcibly and eloquently urged the necessity of being united in all their movements, and before he sat down, he wished to know how many of the Saints who were present felt disposed to continue to act in concert, and follow the instructions of the , and called upon those who did so, to arise on their feet; when immediately the saints, almost without exception arose.
The choir sung a hymn, and the meeting after prayer, adjourned until to morrow morning.
Thursday morning April 8th: at an early hour this morning the different , who had previously been organized, came to the ground and took their seats as follows: the Frst Presidency, with the of the quorums on the stand; the , on the front of the stand; the on the front to the right of the stand; the immediately behind the high priesthood; the in the front, to the left; the on the extreme right.
On motion; Resolved: that this session of Congress continue until Sunday evening.
Pres’t. J. Smith declared the rule of voting, to be a majority in each quorum, exhorted them to deliberation, faith and prayer, and that they should be strict, and impartial in their examinations. He then told them that the presidents of the different quorums would be presented before them for their acceptance or rejection.
then presented the First Presidency to the Lesser Priesthood, who were unanimously accepted.
Pres’t. presented them to the elders’ quorum—unanimously accepted.
Pres’t. presented them to the seventies—unanimously accepted.—
Pres’t. presented them to the High Priesthood.
Councellor presented them to the High council—unanimously accepted.
The then presented them to the Presidents of all the quorums, on the stand—unanimously accepted.
Gen. was presented with the First Presidency as assistant president, until ’s health should be restored. The presidents and counselors belonging to the several quorums, were then presented to each quorum seperately for approval or rejection, when the following persons were objected to, viz. , president of the Elders quorum; , Bishop; Elder , one of the twelve; and of the High Priesthood.— , Bishop; moved their cases be laid over until the intermission, to be tried before the several quorums.
Pres’t. Joseph Smith presented the of the “,” to the several quorums collectively, who were unanimously received.
Pres’t. Smith observed, that it was necessary that some one should be appointed to fill the , in the room of the late Elder , whereupon, nominated Elder to that office, which was unanimously accepted. stated, that it was an office of great honor and responsibility, and he felt inadequate to the task, but inasmuch as it was the wish of the authorites of the church, that he should take that office, he would endeavor to magnify it.
On motion; Resolved: that be appointed to the office of High Counsellor, in the place of , who had been chosen as a councillor to the presidency of this .— On motion; Resolved: that be appointed to be one of the High Council in the room of [,] deceased.
The choir sung a hymn, and afte[r] prayer by , the meetin[g] ad[j]ourned for two hours.
Conference met pursuant to adjournment. A hymn was sung by th[e] choir. delivered a di[s]course to the conference on the subje[ct] of “ for the dead” which w[as] set forth in a manner new and intere[s]ting, and with an eloquence peculiar [to] the speaker, which was listened to w[ith] intense interest by the assembly.
made some very ap[pro]priate observations in continuation [of] the subject. [p. 387]
Pres’t. Smith likewise followed on the same subject, threw considerable light on the doctrine which had been investigated.
The choir then sung a hymn, and after prayer by , it was moved that adjourn until to morrow morning at 10 o’clock.
Friday Morning, conference met pursuant to adjournment.
The reported, that they had investigated the conduct of the persons who had been objected to, and that they had rejected and .
Leave was then given for Elder , to make a few remarks to the qu[o]rums respecting the charges prefered against him; after speaking; on motion, resolved, that continue his standing in the .
Resolved, that as , has not appeared to answer the charges prefered against him, that his be taken from him.
Pres’r. J. Smith made some observations respecting the duty of the several quorums, in sending their members into the vineyard, and also stated, that labor on the would be as acceptable to the Lord as preaching in the world.
Pres’t. Smith then stated that it was necessary that some one should be appointed to collect funds for building the .
On motion resolved that , , , , , , Jahiel Savage, and , be appointed to travel and collect funds for the same.
A Hymn was then sung by the choir and prayer by Pres’t. .
Pres’t. J. Smith then stated that he should resign the meeting to the of the , and the president of the Quorum.
The were called upon to address the assembly, first took the stand and spoke at length on the imporiance of building the , and called upon the the saints to assist them in their great undertakings.
Elder spoke in continuation, and made some very appropriate remarks. The conference adjourned for one hour.
Conference met pursuant to adjournment. spoke on the same subject.
Elder then came forward and addressed the meeting at considerble length.
The read a letter from Elder in , to Pres’t. Joseph Smith which gave an account of the prosperity of the work of the Lord in that land.
On motion resolved that conference adjourned till to morrow morning at 10 o’clock.
Friday April 9th: the weather being so wet and cold, the conference did not meet.
Saturday, the weather was unfavorable consequently no business was transacted.
Sunday morning. The conference again met, was called upon to preach. He spake on the subject of the literal fulfillment of prophesy.
made some observations on for the remission of sins. A Hymn was sung by the choir. Conference adjourned for one hour.
Conference met pursuant to adjournment and was addressed by the of the Stake, who stated the situation of the poor who had to be supported and called upon the saints to assist in relieving the necessities of widow and fatherless.
Elder made some observations on the subject.
Pres’t. Joseph Smith then addressed the assembly and stated, that in consequence of the severety of the weather, the saints had not received as much instruction as he desired and that some things would have to be laid over until the next conference—as there were many who wished to be baptized, they would now go to the water and give opportunity to any who wished to be baptized of doing so. The procession was then organized and proceeded down to the water.
After the baptism were over—on motion resolved, that the conference adjourn to the 1st of October next
Clerk. [p. 388]


  1. 1

    William Law was designated a counselor in the First Presidency in January 1841. (See Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124:126].)  

  2. 2

    See Report of the First Presidency to the Church, ca. 7 Apr. 1841.  

  3. 3

    The report was published in “Report of the First Presidency,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1841, 2:384–386.  

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

  4. 4

    Rigdon, known for being a skilled orator, was a featured speaker at the cornerstone ceremony the previous day. The Western World reported that Rigdon “officiated at the laying of the chief corner stone, and addressed the assembly in a very energetic manner in a speech of about an hour’s length.” The church’s newspaper reported that Rigdon spoke to the large audience, even though he was in “feeble health.” (“The Mormons,” Western World [Warsaw, IL], 7 Apr. 1841, [3]; “Celebration of the Aniversary of the Church,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1841, 2:376.)  

    Western World. Warsaw, IL. 1840–1841.

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

  5. 5

    The previous general conference was held in October 1840. Between then and 7 April 1841, three revelations were dictated and recorded in the Book of the Law of the Lord. (See Minutes, 3–5 Oct. 1840; Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124]; Revelation, ca. Early Mar. 1841 [D&C 125]; and Revelation, 20 Mar. 1841.)  

  6. 6

    A revelation dictated by JS on 19 January 1841 declared that a “proclamation shall be made to all the Kings of the world, to the four corners thereof; to the Honorable President Elect, and the high minded Governors of the nation in which you live, and to all the nations of the earth, scattered abroad.” JS worked with Robert B. Thompson to produce a draft of a proclamation prior to Thompson’s death in August 1841. (Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124:3]; Proclamation, between 19 Jan. and 27 Aug. 1841.)  

  7. 7

    The minutes here point to the 19 January 1841 revelation, which included direction to build the temple and the Nauvoo House. William Clayton wrote in his journal that a March 1841 revelation concerning the settlements in Iowa Territory was also read and explained during this April conference. (Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124]; Clayton, Diary, 8 Apr. 1841; Revelation, ca. Early Mar. 1841 [D&C 125].)  

    Clayton, William. Diary, Vol. 1, 1840–1842. BYU.

  8. 8

    See Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124:23–40, 56–61].  

  9. 9

    A proclamation sent to all members of the church on 15 January 1841 detailed the purposes of these institutions: “The ‘Nauvoo Legion,’ embraces all our military power, and will enable us to perform our military duty by ourselves, and thus afford us the power, and privilege, of avoiding one of the most fruitful sources of strife, oppression, and collision with the world. It will enable us to show our attachment to the state and nation as a people, whenever the public service requires our aid—thus proving ourselves obedient to the paramount laws of the land, and ready at all times to sustain and execute them. The ‘University of the City of Nauvoo,’ will enable us to teach our children wisdom—to instruct them in all knowledge, and learning, in the Arts, Sciences and Learned Professions. We hope to make this institution one of the great lights of the world, and by and through it, to diffuse that kind of knowledge which will be of practical utility, and for the public good, and also for private and individual happiness.” (Proclamation, 15 Jan. 1841.)  

  10. 10

    For more on the Nauvoo House Association and its charter, see Agreement with William Law, 26 Apr. 1841.  

  11. 11

    In his account of the first day of the conference, William Clayton explained: “On the 7th I was organized with the High Priest quorum and set with them during the conference. I was much pleased with the order of the meeting. When any case was to appear before the church it was first put by the Bishop to the quorum of the Lesser Priesthood. Then by the president of the Elders to that quorum—then the 70 then High Priests—then High Council and lastly to the presidency. If any objection arose it had to be tried by that quorum who objected but a majority of the quorums decided the matter.” (Clayton, Diary, 7 Apr. 1841.)  

    Clayton, William. Diary, Vol. 1, 1840–1842. BYU.

  12. 12

    That is, the general conference. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines congress as “a meeting of individuals . . . to concert measures for their common good, or to adjust their mutual concerns.” (“Congress,” in American Dictionary.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language; Exhibiting the Origin, Orthography, Pronunciation, and Definitions of Words. Edited by Noah Webster. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1845.

  13. 13

    John Hicks was named as president of the elders quorum in the 19 January 1841 revelation. (Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124:137].)  

  14. 14

    The Quorum of the Seventy was led by seven presidents. Young had been a president of the Seventy since his call in February 1835. (Historical Introduction to Minutes and Blessings, 28 Feb.–1 Mar. 1835; Minutes, Discourse, and Blessings, 1 Mar. 1835.)  

  15. 15

    That is, the Nauvoo high council.  

  16. 16

    Rigdon had been frequently ill during the previous year. In an August 1840 letter, JS wrote that “Elder Rigdon is very sick, and has been for nearly twelve months with the fever and Ague which disease is very prevalent here at this time.” In Robert B. Thompson’s report of the 6 April 1841 cornerstone ceremony, he noted that Rigdon had long been afflicted and had a “weakness of body.” John C. Bennett gave significant political assistance to the Latter-day Saints; he was particularly instrumental in securing the charters for Nauvoo. Bennett had also been elected as the first mayor of Nauvoo just two months earlier. (Letter to John C. Bennett, 8 Aug. 1840; Robert B. Thompson, “Laying the Corner Stone of the Temple,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1841, 2:381; Historical Introduction to Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840; Historical Introduction to Minutes, 3 Feb. 1841.)  

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

  17. 17

    In April and May 1840, John Hicks was tried before the Nauvoo high council on a complaint by John P. Greene that Hicks had been “slanderously accusing him of lying” and “wrongfully assailing his character.” The high council directed Hicks to publish an article admitting that he had “wrongfully accused him [Greene] of lying” and saying he was “sorry for what he has done.” At this April 1841 conference meeting, “objections were made to him [Hicks] relative to a trial which had been between him and Elder John P Greene. . . . Some were dissatisfied with him thinking that he had not abided the decision of that Council. But however after the matter had been explained and the subject discussed at some length he was approved by a majority.” (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 19 Apr. 1840; 2 May 1840; 7 Apr. 1841.)  

    Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.

  18. 18

    During a conference intermission, the Nauvoo high council met “to approve or disapprove of certain men who had been objected” to by the conference. According to the high council minutes, objection had been made to Alanson Ripley, a bishop, “for his drinking and immoral habits which necessaryly follows and his abusing his brethren while under the influence of Liquor.” Ripley’s “situation and character was discussed at considerable length,” upon which “he was approved by a majority.” Despite this decision by the high council, Ripley was rejected by other quorums later during the conference. An objection had been made to John E. Page, an apostle, for “having written certain abusive letters, criminating certain individuals, wrongfully.” Page’s case was “spoken on, at considerable length,” whereupon “he was unanimously, approved.” An objection had been made against Noah Packard, a counselor in the presidency of the high priests quorum, “for his rash and ignorant expressions.” This, however, was “soon reconciled,” and he “was approved.” Objection was also made to Newel K. Whitney, one of the bishops in Nauvoo, for unspecified reasons. After brief consideration Whitney was “unanimously, approved.” (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 7 Apr. 1841.)  

    Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.

  19. 19

    During the church’s October 1840 general conference, Alpheus Cutler, Reynolds Cahoon, and Elias Higbee were assigned to be the building committee for the temple. (Minutes and Discourse, 3–5 Oct. 1840; see also Receipt from Reynolds Cahoon, 11 Feb. 1841.)  

  20. 20

    Patten was killed in the Battle of Crooked River during the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. (See Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.)  

  21. 21

    Nauvoo stake president William Marks informed the high council on 30 March 1841 that he had chosen Austin Cowles and Charles C. Rich to be his counselors. Marks then “proceeded to ordain them.” (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 30 Mar. 1841.)  

    Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.

  22. 22

    In his account of the conference, William McIntire noted that Rigdon “quoted Peter ‘By the sprit he went & preached to the spirits &c also for this cause was the Gospel preached to them that are Dead! for what cause? why that they might [be] Judged Just Like a man in the flesh; but Live acording to God in the Spirit & Jesus said Except a man be Born of the watter & of the Spirit he Cannot Enter in to the Kingdom of God Now if heaven & Earth should pass away My word shall not fail But all be fullfilled &c.” William Clayton wrote in his journal that Rigdon showed “the propriety and absolute necessity of such an ordinance.” (McIntire, Notebook, [19]–[20]; Clayton, Diary, 8 Apr. 1841.)  

    McIntire, William Patterson. Notebook, 1840–1845. CHL. MS 1014.

    Clayton, William. Diary, Vol. 1, 1840–1842. BYU.

  23. 23

    McIntire noted that Bennett “spoke on Baptizm in the sectairian mode of interpretation.” (McIntire, Notebook, [20].)  

    McIntire, William Patterson. Notebook, 1840–1845. CHL. MS 1014.

  24. 24

    At a 7 April meeting of the Nauvoo high council, an objection was made against James Foster, one of the presidents of the quorums of the Seventy, because of “his lack of faith and stability in the gospel; and dishonesty in his temporal deal[ings] with his brethren.” (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 7 Apr. 1841.)  

    Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.

  25. 25

    Clayton wrote in his journal that Ripley “had his Bishopric taken from him for frequently being drunk and not fit for business.” (Clayton, Diary, 7 Apr. 1841.)  

    Clayton, William. Diary, Vol. 1, 1840–1842. BYU.

  26. 26

    See Discourse, between 6 and 9 Apr. 1841.  

  27. 27

    See Letter from John Taylor, 3 Feb. 1841.  

  28. 28

    The bishops had the duty to provide for the church’s widows and orphans. (Revelation, 30 Apr. 1832 [D&C 83:6]; see also James 1:27.)  

  29. 29

    Clayton wrote in his journal that “many were baptized for their dead relatives and many for the remission of sins.” (Clayton, Diary, 8 Apr. 1841.)  

    Clayton, William. Diary, Vol. 1, 1840–1842. BYU.