Previous chapter Table of Contents Next chapter
THE year 1845 opened upon busy scenes in Nauvoo. The building of the city continued, and active work was being prosecuted on the temple.
But how changed the scene in one year! The two trusted and tried leaders whom latter-day Israel had loved to honor, were cold in death, while a once united people were scattered like sheep without a shepherd. In Nauvoo a new regime had obtained; new leaders were at the helm, who were constantly assuring the people that they were determined to carry out the measures of Joseph; and yet they were slowly but certainly changing the policy and organization of the church.
On January 21,1845, the legislature of Illinois repealed the charter of Nauvoo. Though Nauvoo was at the time one of the most flourishing cities of the State, with prospects of becoming a great commercial center, its doom was sealed from this hour; and though strenuous efforts were made to further its prosperity, it soon began to decline, and to-day it is an obscure village; yet many fond memories cling around that yet, to many, hallowed place.
Whether the legislature was governed by religious prejudice, or whether the citizens of Nauvoo had so far abused their privileges as to warrant the repeal, is a speculative question not proper to discuss here.
In repealing the Nauvoo charter as a whole, they disregarded the advice of Governor Ford. The closing paragraph
of his Senate Message of December 17,1844, reads as follows:-
I see very strong indications on the part of both Houses, to make an entire repeal of all these charters. I do not see how ten or twelve thousand people can well do in a city without some chartered privileges. I would advise that all the obnoxious parts of these charters should be repealed, and an ample provision made against any future abuses of power, thus leaving all the really useful parts of their city charter and placing them upon grounds of some equality with other citizens. This is republican and cannot be denied without injustice. I am, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
"SPRINGFIELD, December, 17, 1844. THOMAS FORD."
The measure was strenuously opposed by Almon W. Babbitt, a Mormon, then in the legislature from Hancock County, and Jacob B. Backenstos, known as a "Jack Mormon," because of his friendship for the Mormons. The measure however passed the House on January 21, 1845, by a vote of 76 yeas to 36 nays, and subsequently passed the Senate by a large majority.
At the April General Conference for 1845 the general officers came up again to be passed upon, and as it is important in this period to know just how some men stood, we insert this part of the minutes:-
"President Brigham Young then arose and said he would now present the first item of business, which would be to present the authorities of the church for the approval or disapproval of the conference. He also said he wanted to know if the saints are satisfied that Joseph Smith lived and died as a prophet, seer, and revelator to this church; whereupon Elder Phelps moved that we accept the labors of Joseph Smith as a prophet, seer, and revelator to the nineteenth century; and that we are satisfied that he lived according to his profession and died a martyr to the truth. Carried unanimously.
"Elder Phelps moved that we accept the labors of Hyrum Smith, believing that he lived according to his profession and died a martyr to the truth. Carried unanimously.
"Elder Phelps moved that this conference accept the Twelve as the First Presidency and leaders of this church. Carried unanimously.
"Elder George A. Smith moved that we acknowledge President Brigham Young as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to this church and generation. Carried unanimously.-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 869, 870.
On separate motions the following were also sustained as members of the Quorum of Twelve: H. C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, P. P. Pratt, William Smith, Orson Pratt, J. E. Page, Willard Richards, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Amasa Lyman.
The following action was had regarding Lyman Wight:-
"The chairman then observed concerning the course of Lyman Wight; his feelings are that we should let him remain for the present. Probably hereafter there may be a time that he will hearken to counsel, and do much good, which he is capable of, for he is a noble-minded man.- Ibid., p. 870.
John Smith was sustained as President of the Stake, with C. C. Rich as counselor.
George Miller was sustained as President of High Priests' Quorum, with William Snow and Noah Packard counselors.
Samuel Bent was sustained as President of High Council, with G. W. Harris, Alpheus Cutler, William Huntington, Sen., James Allred, H. G. Sherwood, Thomas Grover, Newel Knight, L. D. Wilson, David Fulmer, Ezra T. Benson, and Aaron Johnson associates.
Joseph Young was sustained as "President of the First Presidency of the Seventies," and Levi W. Hancock, Henry Herriman, Zerah Pulsipher, J. M. Grant, and D. S. Miles were associated with him. It was also resolved "that if Roger Orton will reform and become a good man, he be received and ordained as a member of this presidency."
Samuel Williams, Jesse Baker, and Joshua Smith were sustained as a Presidency of the Elders' Quorum.
Newel K. Whitney and George Miller were continued and sustained Bishops and Trustees in Trust.
Alpheus Cutler and Reynolds Cahoon were sustained as Temple Committee.
It will be observed that the policy to make the Twelve the First Presidency of the church is a little more clearly brought out than before, and what they at first hesitated to express is by easy gradations introduced to the notice of the people, until the Twelve found themselves in practical control.
It will also be observed that on August 8, 1844, Elder Amasa Lyman was declared to have been a member of the First Presidency; in October following he was declared to be a counselor with the Twelve; he is now "continued as one of the Twelve," though by so doing they had thirteen members in a Quorum of Twelve.
Josiah Butterfield was removed from the Presidency of Seventy, to give place to J. M. Grant.
Bishop George Miller who was called by revelation to succeed Edward Partridge, the Presiding Bishop of the Church, 1 and who Joseph Smith said was appointed in place of E. Partridge; 2 and who Andrew Jensen, a Utah historian, acknowledges was chosen Presiding Bishop; 3 was by vote of conference in October, 1844, relegated to the place of second bishop; and N. K. Whitney elevated to first.
William Marks was deposed as President of the Stake, and Elder John Smith was transferred from Macedonia to fill his place.
Lyman Wight and John Snider were removed from the Nauvoo House committee to give place to Amasa Lyman and George A. Smith. (See Millennial Star, volume 6, page 91.)
Similar changes were made in other offices.
Thus quietly were men deposed and those more in sympathy with Elder Young installed in their places. The practice of this policy continued.
1See Doctrine and Covenants 107:8.
2George Miller has been appointed, by revelation, Bishop, in place of E. Partridge, deceased. Millennial Star, vol. 18, p. 373.
3George Miller had been chosen Presiding Bishop of the Church, by revelation, in place of Edward Partridge, deceased.-Historical Record vol. 7, p. 480.
A peculiar resolution by which church debts were repudiated was passed at this April conference of 1845. 4 Upon what reasons they justified this act of repudiation, or what their pretext was, does not appear.
The following business concerning the temple and Nauvoo House, transacted at the same conference, will be interesting, as these buildings, especially the temple, have an important connection with the future of the church:-
"The chairman then stated that he wanted to lay before the conference the subject of completing the Nauvoo House; whereupon,
"Elder Phelps moved 'that we fulfill the revelation, by completing the Nauvoo House, as soon as possible.' Carried unanimously.
"The chairman called for a show of hands from all those who could and would take one share of stock in the Nauvoo House. There were so many hands uplifted that they could not possibly be counted.
"He next called for a show of hands from those who could and would take two shares. Quite a large number of hands were shown.
"He then called for a show of hands from all, both male and female, who, after they had done all they could to finish the temple, are willing to sacrifice their all, to finish the Nauvoo house, rather than not to have it done. Every hand was raised in the congregation.
"The President then proclaimed to the conference, that on next Monday the books for the Nauvoo House Association would be opened in the upper part of the brick store on Water Street."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 871.
During the summer of 1845 what is known as the Nauvoo edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was issued from the Times and Seasons office.
4On the subject of the old church debts coming, it was moved and seconded that the debts of Kirtland, and Missouri, and the debts that are said to be accrued in consequence of purchasing the Galland tract in Iowa Territory, be dropped, and come up no more, and the Trustees shall be dunned for them no more for ever; neither shall they be sold into the hands of the Gentiles. Carried unanimously.-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 870.
The summer of 1845 passed off without any special incidents of interest. Church affairs were conducted along the lines indicated in the foregoing legislation. Missionaries were quite active in different parts and conferences were held in various places.
The General Conference convened in the unfinished temple October 6, 1845, and continued over the 8th. As had been their custom for several conferences the sustaining of officers was the first item of business.
"President Brigham Young then arose and said: The first business that will come before this conference will be to present the authorities of the church, to ascertain whether they are in good standing.
"Father John Smith, the President of the Stake, then arose and presented the Twelve as the Presidents of the whole church; which was seconded and carried unanimously."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1008.
Brigham Young was unanimously sustained as "President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the following members of the quorum were also unanimously sustained: H. C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, P. P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, J. E. Page, Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, G. A. Smith, and Amasa Lyman.
The following action was had in the case of William Smith:-
"It was next moved, that William Smith be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded. Whereupon Elder Pratt arose and said: I have an objection to Brother William continuing in that office. I feel, as an individual, that I cannot, conscientiously, uphold and sustain Brother William as one of the Twelve Apostles, until he thinks different from what he does now. I have many reasons for this, but I will merely mention one or two, which must suffice for the present. In the first place, I have proof positive that he is an aspiring man; that he aspires to uproot and undermine the legal Presidency of the Church, that he may occupy the place himself. This he has avowed openly in the East, which I can prove by good and substantial witnesses.
In the second place, while Brother William was in the East, to my certain knowledge, his doctrine and conduct have not had a savory influence, but have produced death and destruction wherever he went. This also I am well prepared to prove. I have been waiting in all longsuffering for an alteration in Brother William's course, but up to the present time I have been disappointed. For these two reasons, I would plead for one, that we no longer sustain him in his office, till a proper investigation can be had, and he make satisfaction. I do this individually; I leave others to do as they please. The motion being seconded, a vote was then taken to sustain him, but was lost unanimously."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1008.
The following action was had in regard to Lyman Wight:-
"It was next moved that Lyman Wight be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; whereupon Elder A. W. Babbitt said: As Elder Pratt remarked, concerning William Smith, that he could not conscientiously vote to sustain him, so I say in regard to Lyman Wight; I can not conscientiously give my vote in his favor. My reason is this: If there is a council in this church that ought to be united and act in unison as one man, it is the Council of the Twelve. If the head is sick the whole body is afflicted. If I am rightly informed concerning Bro. Wight's conduct, for the past year, he has not acted in unison with the Twelve, nor according to their counsel. The last year has been one of affliction, persecution, and sorrow, when the adversary has continually sought to destroy and mutilate the church; and it has required all the faith, prayers, and perseverance of the leaders to save this people from the grasp of the destroyer. If the counsel of Bro. Wight had been followed this temple would not have been built nor the baptismal font erected. He has sought to draw away a part of the force which we ought to have had to build this temple. His teachings have been contrary to the counsel of the church and his conduct calculated to destroy it. Under circumstances of this kind I cannot conscientiously vote to continue him in his standing, until he retracts and makes satisfaction. Bro. Wight's course has been calculated to divide the church
and prevent those things being accomplished which were commanded of God by the Prophet Joseph.
"Elder Kimball arose and said: It is well known that Bro. Wight's case was had before the conference last fall, and that he was dropped, and then again retained; that is, that we would let him be, and see what he would do and what course he would take. He has been away ever since, and is with a small company somewhere. We cannot tell what he is doing; he may, in his own mind, be acting in concert with the rest, and he may be acting for the good of this people. It would be my mind to let his case lie over for the present until we can learn something from him. Whereupon it was moved that we let the case of Bro. Lyman Wight lie over for the present until we hear from him. Seconded, and carried unanimously."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1009.
The following was also passed regarding William Smith and Willard Richards:-
"Elder Isaac Morley arose and said; he would next present William Smith as the Patriarch of the Church, and moved that he be continued and sustained in that office. Seconded, and lost unanimously.
"President Brigham Young then stated that about three years ago Elder Willard Richards was appointed by President Joseph Smith as Historian for the Church and General Church Recorder. We have previously acted on his appointment to office as Recorder, but not as Historian. He would therefore move that we receive the appointment of Bro. Joseph, and that we continue and sustain Elder Richards as Historian for the Church and General Church Recorder. Seconded, and carried unanimously."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1009.
John Smith was sustained as President of Nauvoo Stake, with Isaac Morley and C. C. Rich as counselors.
Samuel Bent as President, with G. W. Harris, Alpheus Cutler, James Allred, Thomas Grover, H. G. Sherwood, William Huntington, Sen., L. D. Wilson, Newel Knight, David Fulmer, Aaron Johnson, and E. T. Benson were sustained as a High Council.
George Miller, William Snow, and Noah Packard were sustained as a Presidency of the High Priests' Quorum.
Joseph Young, L. W. Hancock, Henry Herriman, Zerah Pulsipher, D. S. Miles, and J. M. Grant were sustained as members of the Presidency of Seventy.
The following action was also had:-
"Elder George A. Smith remarked that Roger Orton was one of the old camp, and was selected a year ago to be one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventies; but he had never received his ordination nor done anything to magnify his calling. It is not to be expected that we shall wait year after year for men to come forward and fill their offices. Bro. Orton was one of the old camp, and we love him on that account; we always called him the 'Big Major,' and a first rate man; but he has not come forward since his appointment to magnify his calling.
"Elder Joseph Young said: Last spring I visited Roger Orton and apprised him of his appointment. He agreed to come as early as convenient and receive his ordination, and I gave him to understand, if he did not come and act in his office he would be dropped. Bro. Orton has always sustained Bro. Joseph and the church, but he has very little of the Spirit. He has been in the church about twelve years, but never has been active since his discharge from the camp that went up to Missouri in 1834. It was by the counsel of the Twelve that he was appointed one of the Presidents of the Seventies. I have no particular desire to plead for him, but if his case can be laid over I think he can be saved in that office; but I will be subject to counsel. I have considerable feeling for him; he lost all his property in Missouri, and has since addicted himself to drinking whiskey. That seems to have ruined him, but he may be reclaimed.
"President B. Young arose and said he would preach one of Dow's short sermons: 'If you won't when you can, when you will you shan't.' I say if men will not act and magnify their calling, let more honorable men be appointed. Roger Orton is keeping a public house at Augusta and has had sufficient time to come and prove himself a worthy man in his office; but he has not done it, and I say let a more honorable
man take the crown. If he won't work now, when will he? It was then moved, that we drop him. Seconded, and carried unanimously.
"Moved that Samuel Williams be continued and sustained as President of the Elders' Quorum, and Jesse Baker and Joshua Smith be continued and sustained as his counselors. Seconded, and carried unanimously.
"Moved that Newel K. Whitney be continued and sustained as the first Bishop of the Church, and that George Miller be continued and sustained as his associate. Seconded, and carried unanimously.
"Moved that Stephen M. Farnsworth be continued and sustained as President of the Priests' Quorum, and that William Carmichael and--Betts be continued and sustained as his counselors. Seconded, and carried unanimously.
"Moved that Elisha Averett be continued and sustained as President of the Teachers' Quorum, as also his former counselors. Seconded, and carried unanimously.
"President B. Young moved that there be a quorum of deacons selected and a president over them, and that the Presiding Bishops see to it as soon as possible and make report to this conference before its close. Seconded, and carried unanimously."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 1009, 1010.
According to this, William Smith was dropped from the quorum and a place made for Amasa Lyman; and Lyman Wight was given to understand that unless he fell in with the existing policy and obeyed counsel he would not be sustained.
Mrs. Lucy Smith, mother of the Martyrs, spoke at this conference, and it is reported that she then said she would go with them; but whether she did so state or not, she did not accompany them west, but continued in the vicinity of Nauvoo, and died near that place in May, 1855.
The conference resolved to discontinue the Nauvoo Neighbor after one more number, and to continue the Times and Seasons to the end of the volume.
Shortly after the conference they formally expelled William Smith from the church. 5 We have seen no record of his having been accorded a trial or having been cited to appear and defend, but the notice simply shows that they resolved to cut him off.
The remainder of the year passed in the usual way. The church represented in Nauvoo were busily preparing to leave the State.
In the latter part of the year they began giving what they called "endowments," in the temple, though the building was not finished, as the following editorial will show;-
"January, thus far, has been mild, which, in the midst of our preparations for an exodus next spring, has given an excellent time to finish the temple. Nothing has appeared so much like a 'finish' of that holy edifice as the present. The attic story was finished in December, and if the Lord continues to favor us the first story above the basement will be completed ready for meeting in the month of February. The font, standing upon twelve stone oxen, is about ready, and the floor of the second story is laid, so that all speculation about the temple of God at Nauvoo must cease."-Times and Seasons, vol. 6, p. 1096.
Elder William Smith having been cut off from the Quorum of the Twelve for apostasy, on the Sunday following, several letters and a pamphlet having been read, showing he had turned away from the truth; on motion, it was unanimously resolved by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, that the said William Smith be cut off from said church, and left in the hands of God
W. RICHARDS, Clerk.
Nauvoo, October 12,1845
-Times and Seasons,vol. 6, p 1019
Previous chapter Table of Contents Next chapter