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DURING the fourteen years from April, 1830, to the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in 1844, the church had an unprecedented growth. Notwithstanding the severe ordeals of persecution and internal dissensions, the driving of its members from place to place and from State to State, attended with the destruction of life and property, the ministry had canvassed the United States and the Canadas quite thoroughly, and had extended their labors to Europe, where thousands had received their message.
At the time of the martyrdom the numerical strength of the church was variously estimated at 160,000 to 200,000. Joseph Smith, in 1844, wrote a statement published by I. Daniel Rupp, in which he said that 150,000 "might still be short of the truth." On May 18 of the same year, in writing to Henry Clay, he estimated the number to be removed in case the church should seek another location, at 200,000.
Governor Ford in his "History of Illinois," page 359, gives the number at about 200,000, and states parenthetically that Mormon statistics made it 500,000. Where he saw such statistics we do not know. Of those composing the church it is estimated that there were about 30,000 in Nauvoo and vicinity. The church in America had received accessions from foreign nations, not including Canada and other British provinces in America, of over
4,000, as follows: Under the agency of Brigham Young up to April 21, 1841, 769 persons; under the agency of P. P. Pratt and Amos Fielding up to October 29, 1842, 1,991 persons; under the agency of Amos Fielding and Hyrum Clark up to October 21, 1843, 769 persons; under the agency of Reuben Hedlock, up to March 5,1844, 501 persons; which makes a total of 4,030 persons. These details are taken from the "Illustrated Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley;" but the same authority quotes P. P. Pratt as saying that 1,000 had immigrated from Europe up to April, 1841; which would make 231 more than the above figures show, or a total of 4,261. At the next European annual conference held at Manchester, England, April 6, 1845, according to a note appended to the minutes, there were left in the European mission 9, 635 members, 1, 910 of whom had been baptized since the last General Conference. (Millennial Star, vol. 5, p. 178.) After allowing for the probable number baptized after the death of Joseph Smith and before the conference of 1845, we have approximately nearly or quite 13,000 European members in the church at the time of the death of the Prophet. So if there were 150,000 in the church, about 137,000 were Americans. At this same conference Elder Wilford Woodruff represented the membership in America to be "above one hundred thousand saints." (Millennial Star, vol. 5, p. 170.)
As might have been expected, when Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed the church was thrown into confusion, and honest men differed regarding the proper course to pursue; and possibly some designing men, prompted by ambition for place and power, sought to take advantage of the church's extremity to lift themselves into positions of authority. But of this the reader will be better able to judge as we proceed.
The church was entirely unprepared for this sad condition, and hence had given little or no thought as to what would be the proper mode of procedure in such an emergency. The masses of the people had concluded that their beloved prophet would continue with them until Christ should come and the final victory was won. In
this they were largely at fault. Intimations had been given by revelation and otherwise that he would be taken away, but in their zeal and earnest desire that he should live they overlooked all warnings and admonitions, hence when the emergency came, were not so well prepared as they should have been. Had they been wise and discreet they might have been in better condition to think soberly and act considerately, and hence less liable to be imposed upon if a disposition was manifested to deceive.
As early as February, 1831, the probability of the prophet's being taken away had been presented by revelation, the manner of appointing one in his stead pointed out, and a law given whereby deceivers could be detected, and the people might know that they were not of God. 1
1 1. O hearken, ye elders of my church, and give ear to the words which I shall speak unto you: for, behold, verily, verily I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you, to receive commandments and revelations from my hand. And this ye shall know assuredly, that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.
2. But verily, verily I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him, for if it be taken from him he shall not have power, except to appoint another in his stead; and this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations, or commandments; and this I give unto you, that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me, shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received, and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.
3. And now, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together, ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given; and thus ye shall become instructed in the law of my church, and be sanctified by that which ye have received, and ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me, that inasmuch as ye do this, glory shall be added to the kingdom which ye have received. Inasmuch as ye do it not, it shall be taken, even that which ye have received. Purge ye out the iniquity which is among you; sanctify yourselves before me, and if ye desire the glories of the kingdom, appoint ye my servant Joseph Smith, Jr., and uphold him before me by the prayer of faith. And again, I say unto you, that if ye desire the mysteries of the kingdom, provide for him food and raiment and whatsoever thing he needeth to accomplish the work, wherewith I have commanded him; and if ye do it not, he shall remain unto them that have received him, that I may reserve unto myself a pure people before me.-Doctrine and Covenants 43: 1-3.
At the time of the martyrdom Sidney Rigdon, the only member of the Presidency remaining, was in Pennsylvania. The only members of the Twelve at Nauvoo were John Taylor and Willard Richards. Brigham Young, H. C. Kimball, William Smith, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Orson Hyde, and Lyman Wight were somewhere in the Eastern States; P. P. Pratt was near Utica, New York; J. E. Page was at Pittsburg [Pittsburgh], Pennsylvania; G. A. Smith was in Michigan. Brigham Young is reported to have said at a special meeting held in Nauvoo, Illinois, on August 8,1844, that Amasa Lyman was a member of the First Presidency, 2 but upon what authority he made that statement we do not know, as we have seen no account of his call or ordination to that office. We have not the evidence that would justify us to historically recognize him as a member of that quorum.
The saints in deep sorrow and anxiety awaited the arrival of authorities, expecting that from them some counsel would be received. The most important question discussed was, "Who shall be the successor of Joseph Smith" In the Times and Seasons for September 2,1844, the editor, John Taylor, published the following:-
"Great excitement prevails throughout the world to know 'who shall be the successor of Joseph Smith?'
"In reply, we say, be patient, be patient a little, till the proper time comes, and we will tell you all. 'Great wheels move slow.' At present, we can say that a special conference of the church was held in Nauvoo on the 8th ult., and it was carried without a dissenting voice, that the 'Twelve' should preside over the whole church, and when any alteration in the Presidency shall be required, seasonable notice will be given; and the elders abroad, will best exhibit their wisdom to all men, by remaining silent on those things they are ignorant of. Bishops Whitney and Miller have been appointed trustees, to manage the financial concerns of the church, and will soon enter on the duties of their calling."-Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 632.
2See Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 638.
This was a misrepresentation of the case in part if the report of the conference referred to was correctly printed in the same issue of his paper. The report fails to show any such resolution passed as the one stated in the above editorial. The published report shows that the resolution passed was simply this: "'All in favor of supporting the Twelve in their calling (every quorum, man, and woman) signify it by the uplifted hand,' and the vote was unanimous," etc.- Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 638.
Orson Hyde in a lecture delivered before the High Priests' Quorum at Nauvoo, April 27, 1845, states it substantially the same:-
"The question was then put: 'All in favor of supporting the Twelve in their calling' (the several quorums of officers being present and duly arranged in order) 'signify it by the uplifted hand.' The vote was unanimous; not a hand being raised in the negative."-Speech of Orson Hyde, p. 13.
There was nothing in this motion that any member of the church could not or should not have voted for, providing the Twelve were not in transgression. It did not, however, commit those who voted for it to the position stated in Mr. Taylor's editorial.
Soon after the death of the martyrs, Elder Rigdon came to Nauvoo and presented his claims. He maintained that he was the legal guardian of the church, entitled to preside by virtue of his being the only surviving member of the First Presidency, and that according to inspired instruction he was equal with Joseph Smith in holding the keys of the kingdom. 3
Prior to the special conference, August 8, 1844, he addressed an assembly in the grove near the temple in advocacy of his claim, and by consultation and agreement with William Marks, President of the Stake, appointed the conference of the 8th. Some of the Twelve, however, arrived before the date of the conference. Brigham Young it appears assumed control of the meeting.
It is claimed by some that Rigdon addressed the meeting. Elder B. H. Roberts states:-
3See Doctrine and Covenants, section 87:3.
"He had full opportunity to present his case, and for an hour and a half spoke without interruption; but despite his reputation as an orator, he failed to convince the saints that he was sent of God."-Succession in the Presidency of the Church, p. 5.
But the published report of the meeting does not show that Elder Rigdon either spoke, or had the opportunity to do so. The report indicates that Elder Young took charge of the meeting, arranged the quorums, made the opening argument, followed by Elder Amasa Lyman, Elder Phelps, and Elder P. P. Pratt; when Elder Young concluded, and during his concluding address put the motion before referred to; Elder Rigdon refusing to have his claims submitted to the assembly. 4
4 SPECIAL MEETING.
On the 8th of August, 1844, at a special meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, convened at the stand in the city of Nauvoo, President Brigham Young called the audience to order, and arranged the several quorums according to their standing and the rules of the church. The meeting had been previously called, as stated, to choose a guardian or trustee for said church.
Elder Phelps opened the meeting by prayer, and President Young then proceeded to speak, and gave his views of the present situation of the church, now that the Prophet and Patriarch were taken from our midst by the wickedness of our enemies. For the first time since he became a member of the church a servant of God, a messenger to the nations in the nineteenth century-for the first time in the kingdom of God,-the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, chosen by revelation, in this last dispensation of the gospel for the winding up scene, present themselves before the saints, to stand in their lot according to appointment. While the Prophet lived, we all walked by "sight;" he is taken from us and we must now walk by "faith." After he had explained matters so satisfactorily that every saint could see that Elijah's mantle had truly fallen upon the "Twelve," he asked the saints what they wanted. Do you want a guardian, a prophet, a spokesman, or what do you want? If you want any of these officers, signify it by raising the right hand. Not a hand was raised.
He then gave the saints his views of what the Lord wanted. Here are the "Twelve," appointed by the finger of God, who hold the keys of the priesthood and the authority to set in order and regulate the church in all the world. Here is Elder Amasa Lyman and Elder Sidney Rigdon: they were councilors in the First Presidency, and they are counselors to the Twelve still, if they keep their places; but if either wishes to act as "spokesman" for the Prophet Joseph, he must go behind the veil where Joseph is. He continued his remarks nearly an hour, opening by the Spirit of God the eyes, ears, and hearts of the saints to the subject before them, and to their duty and the glory of God.
Elder Amasa Lyman followed, and fully accorded with the instructions and views of Elder Young. I have been at the back of the Prophet
Elder Rigdon evidently did not consider this a final settlement of the question, for he continued to assert his claims, and gained a considerable following, among them some men of respectability and influence.
Elder Rigdon returned to Pittsburg [Pittsburgh], Pennsylvania, where on October 15,1844, he commenced to publish the Messenger and Advocate claiming it was the revival of the periodical of that name formerly published in Kirtland, Ohio.
He was quite bitter in some of his denunciations against
Joseph, and I shall be at the back of the "Twelve." There is no need of choosing a guardian or head; the apostles have the power, as they had anciently; and this is the power that turns the key and will bear off the kingdom of God in all the world triumphantly; and I shall help them obtain that glory that eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, and the heart of man hath not conceived. His remarks were continued in the full fruition of the Spirit that whispers: Union is strength, and peace is joy.
Elder Phelps spoke next, and continued the same spirit and feeling, having known many of the elders for fourteen years, and had seen them take their lives in their hands, without purse or scrip, in summer and in winter, through good and through evil report, for the salvation of souls and for the benefit of Zion, without the hope of reward, save pleasing God and obeying his commandments; had seen them harness for war when wicked men sought their lives and endeavored to destroy their wives and children; and at all times they were willing to act by counsel; they will do it now. This lake of faces does not seem so pleasant without indicating good; and the elders who have stood on the right and left of our departed prophet, knowing the authority and power of the priesthood, will honor it. Elder Rigdon must know how he obtained his endowment, or what he has; for he has not received all, only a small part. Let him and the whole of Israel rejoice this day, for if they rear that temple and are faithful, they shall all be endowed (men and women) as God will, till they can save themselves and their progenitors as well as secure their posterity. Fear not concerning a prophet; Joseph held the keys in this world, and holds them in the world to come, and counsels for you now. I understand the revelations, and know that in them all things are written concerning the Twelve.
Elder P. P. Pratt said what had been said was well said, and went into the merits of the subject with his usual animation. Says he, I know we can all live happy if we deal with honest men: I do not like the practice when anyone is sick or in difficulty to run to a doctor or a lawyer; run to the very worst men to be cured or helped out of difficulty! Let me die a natural death, and suffer wrong rather than hire a doctor to kill me, or a lawyer to fleece me and leave me to the beggarly elements of the world. As to merchants, I say nothing of them; you know what I mean.
Elder Young again resumed: I do not ask this audience to take my counsel; act for yourselves. If Elder Rigdon is your choice, manifest it; if the Twelve be the men to counsel you to finish the great work laid
the Twelve, charging among other things that they were practicing polygamy or spiritual wifery. This they denied, but have since admitted it to have been true.
Elder Rigdon was not content to preside by virtue of his being counselor to Joseph Smith, but at a conference held in Pittsburg [Pittsburgh], in April, 1845, he perfected an organization in which he assumed to occupy the place of President of the Church made vacant by the death of Joseph Smith, and chose the following men to occupy the offices named: Samuel James and Ebenezer Robinson, Counselors to the President of the Church; Carvel Rigdon, Patriarch; Samuel Bennett, Hugh Herringshaw, Jeremiah Hatch, Jr., James Blakeslee, Josiah Ells, Benjamin Winchester, William Small, E. R. Swackhammer, D. L. Lathrop, Joseph M. Cole, G. W. Robinson, and William E. McLellin a Quorum of Twelve Apostles; A. B. Tomlinson, J. F. Olney, F. Meryweather, Leonard Rich, George T. Leach, J. M. Greig, and William Hutchings, Presidents of Seventies; D. Savary,
out by our departed prophet, say so; and do not break your covenant by murmuring hereafter. When the whole subject was properly explained and understood, and Counselor Rigdon refused to have his name voted for as a spokesman or guardian, the question was put, "All in favor of supporting the Twelve in their calling (every quorum, man, and woman) signify it by the uplifted hand;" and the vote was unanimous, no hand being raised in the negative. The next vote was that the Twelve should select and appoint two bishops to act as trustees for the church, according to law. This vote was unanimous also. Another unanimous vote was passed to use every exertion to forward the building of the temple, and to strengthen the hands of the committee. The revelation in relation to tithing was referred to, and the manifestation of every saint seemed to be, We will do as the Lord hath commanded; and the assembly was dismissed with the blessings of the Lord.
[The following also indicates the purpose of the Twelve at the time.-H. C. S.]
The Twelve would invite the brethren abroad, in obedience to the commandments of the Lord, to gather to Nauvoo, with their means, to help build up the city, and complete the temple, which is now going forward faster than it has at any time since it commenced. Beware of the speculations about the prophet! Believe no tales on the subject. Time will tell who are the friends of Joseph Smith, who laid down his life for his brethren. We have no new commandments, but beseech the brethren to honor and obey the old ones. For wheresoever the carcase [carcass], there will the eagles be gathered together. More in the next.
BRIGHAM YOUNG, President of the Twelve.
September 2, 1844.
Times and Seasons, vol. 6, pp. 637, 638.
C. A. Beck, John Smith, Thomas J. Lanyon, James Logan, J. A. Forgeus, Matthew Smith, Peter Boyer, Robert Kincaid, Lewis James, James Spratley, and John Frazier, a standing High Council; Austin Cowles, William Stanley, and Hiram Kellogg, Presidency of the High Priests' Quorum; John Duncan, Briggs Alden, and William White, Presidency of the Elders' Quorum; William Richards, T. L. Baker, and Richard Croxall were chosen to constitute the Bishopric and Presidency of the Lesser Priesthood. Richard Savary, James Smith, and Samuel G. Flagg were appointed a presidency over the Pittsburg [Pittsburgh] Stake.
In addition to the organization of these quorums he organized a quorum of seventy-three composed of those who "had been ordained under his hands to be prophets, priests, and kings, unto God." This quorum was not composed of men who belonged exclusively to this quorum, but the names of men in other quorums appear in this as well. This quorum was not provided for in the revelations given to the church through Joseph Smith, and what authority Elder Rigdon claimed for its introduction we do not know; nor do we know just what duties were supposed to attach to them. We observe among them several names of men who afterward severed their connection with this movement and were associated with other organizations. 5
5 Josiah Ells, Richard Croxall, Samuel James, Jeremiah Hatch, Jr., Carvel Rigdon, Thomas Lanyon, Richard Savary, Leonard Soby, Ebenezer Robinson, James M. Greig, Austin Cowles, E. R. Swackhammer, Samuel G. Flagg, Charles A. Beck, Edward McClain, William White, James Logan, Benjamin Stafford, John A. Forgeus, John Frazier, William Stanley, William Small, Hyrum Kellogg, Peter Boyer, George M. Hinkle, Samuel Bennett, Dennis Savary, James Blakeslee, Briggs Alden, Amos B. Tomlinson, Hugh Herringshaw, Fred Meryweather, Timothy L. Baker, Joseph Parsons, Christian Seichrist, George T. Leach, John Duncan, John Smith, William Richards, James Smith, Leonard Rich, George W. Crouse, Jesse Morgan, William E. McLellin, Lewis James, Joseph M. Cole, John W. Rigdon, George W. Robinson, James Twist, Sidney Rigdon, Robert Kincaid, James G. Divine, Matthew Smith, James Spratley, Algernon S. Rigdon, Jeremiah Cooper, William Hutchings, William Brothers, David L. Lathrop, Archibald Falconer.
Absentees. Joseph B. Bosworth, John W. Latson, George Morey, John Hardy, John Evans, Edward B. Wingate, Benjamin Winchester, Abram Burtis, Joseph H. Newton, John Robinson, William D. Wharton, John F. Olney, Jacob O. Jenks.-The Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1, p. 168.
This organization did not seem to have within it the elements of coherency, but apostasies were frequent among its leading members. It maintained a struggling existence for many years, but is now practically extinct, though we understand there are a few persons who yet indorse [endorse] Elder Rigdon's claims. So far as we know Elder Rigdon's followers would compare favorably in moral standing with the adherents of other factions. His teaching regarding loyalty to the laws of the land was far more commendable than the teaching of some other leaders. Others might have avoided much trouble and vexation had they heeded the instruction he gave on this point at that April conference of 1845. 6
Elder Rigdon was expelled by the faction remaining at Nauvoo soon after the death of Joseph Smith, by action of a High Council held in Nauvoo, over which Bishop N. K. Whitney presided. But the minutes of the trial as published in the Times and Seasons show it to have been an ex parte affair, where the court was under the dictation of some members of the Quorum of Twelve, who appear to have been accusers, witnesses, and, indirectly, judges. (Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pp. 647-655, 660-667.) The causes for which he was expelled as summed up by Presiding Judge Whitney were, according to Orson Hyde, very peculiar, indicating that he was not expelled because of evidence then before the council, but for other reasons entirely.
"The question was then called for, whereupon Bishop Newel E. Whitney, one of the first bishops in our church, arose at the head of his counselors, and in a short and appropriate speech recounted Mr. Rigdon's past history, having been personally and intimately acquainted with him for nearly twenty years. He observed that Mr. Rigdon, once before, in the early stages of this church, while in
6Brethren, hear my voice to-day, obey the principles of truth delivered, and you never, no never, shall have a charge preferred against one of you. But if you do not obey the laws of this kingdom, and work out salvation, you will be cursed with sore cursings. Never break the laws of this land at the suggestion of apostle, prophet, or even angel.-The Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1, p. 171.
Kirtland, received a false revelation, and appeared to be just as certain that he was right as he now does, until he was sharply reproved by Joseph Smith, and lost his license in consequence of it, which license Bishop Whitney then held in his hands. He observed that Joseph Smith's uniform testimony concerning him was, that he would do well if some one could hold the reins and stand over him with a rod; but that if he attempted to govern or guide, he would run directly to destruction with all who followed him. The decision of the Bishop was, therefore, that Mr. Sidney Rigdon be cut off from the church of the true and living God. His counselors all arose, one by one, and sanctioned the decision, making such other remarks as they saw fit. It was then laid before all the quorums of authority and also the whole body of the saints, all of whom sanctioned the decision, with the exception of four persons. He was then delivered over to the buffetings of Satan by the united voice of the whole church until he repent and humble himself before God and his brethren."-Speech of Orson Hyde, p. 22.
The following, published in the Messenger and Advocate for March 15, 1845, is important as indicating the attitude of the organization under Sidney Rigdon towards the organization at Nauvoo under the Twelve; their position regarding polygamy, keeping the laws of the land, and other issues of importance:-
"PREAMBLE AND RESOLUTIONS, OF THE CHURCH OF
"Whereas, the connection which has heretofore existed between ourselves and the people calling themselves the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints renders it necessary that we publish to the world a succinct statement of facts relating to the position we now sustain to God and our fellow men; and
"Whereas, in consequence of the rejection by that people, of what we undoubtedly deem to be the order of the church and kingdom of God, and the introduction of doctrines and practices clearly inimical to the law of God, and altogether subversive of the laws of the land, abrogating the marriage
contract, and substituting under the professed sanction of Heaven, a system of extreme licentiousness, uprooting every legal restraint, and eminently calculated in its very nature to produce the entire destruction of every virtuous tie, and pouring contempt upon every holy principle contained in the revelations of God to his creature man, and must inevitably entail upon that people abject wretchedness and woe, subjecting them to the righteous condemnation of every virtuous intelligence, whether in heaven or on earth; and
"Whereas, the better to conceal the justly odious system of polygamy, duplicity, hypocrisy, and falsehood are inculcated as virtues, the most sacred obligations constantly violated, and families and individuals plunged into irrevocable ruin and despair; therefore
"Resolved, that we hold no fellowship with the people calling themselves the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and can have no communion with them, unless they repent and obey the principles of righteousness and truth.
"Resolved, that we maintain the truth and the truth only, at all hazards, renouncing at once and forever, the unsanctifying dogma that it is sometimes lawful to lie.
"Resolved, that our subjection to the law of God impels us to yield implicit obedience to the law of the land.
"Resolved, that we maintain and do earnestly contend for the faith which was once, and is again, delivered to the saints, contained in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Book of Covenants.
"Resolved, that we feel it a solemn and imperative obligation we owe to God and our fellow men to disseminate to the extent of our ability, correct information regarding certain pernicious doctrines and practices which are secretly taught by the leaders and many of the members of the society called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; verily believing them demoralizing and destructive, combining all the worst features of barbarism, and containing all the elements of the wildest anarchy, and would if unchecked by the power of truth, ultimately extinguish the species."-Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1, p. 176.
At Nauvoo, Brigham Young, as President of the Twelve, sustained by eight others of his quorum, 7 assumed control, interpreting the action of August 8,1844, as sustaining them as the presiding quorum of the church. They, however, declared that Joseph Smith's place was not to be filled by another.
In an epistle of the Twelve, signed Brigham Young President, written at Nauvoo, August 15, 1844, occurs the following, which clearly indicates that they then wished the saints to understand that no effort would be made to place anyone in the office left vacant by the death of Joseph Smith:-
"AN EPISTLE OF THE TWELVE.
"To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in Nauvoo and all the world; Greeting.
"Beloved Brethren:-Forasmuch as the saints have been called to suffer deep affliction and persecution, and also to mourn the loss of our beloved Prophet and also our Patriarch, who have suffered a cruel martyrdom for the testimony of Jesus, having voluntarily yielded themselves to cruel murderers who had sworn to take their lives, and thus like good shepherds have laid down their lives for the sheep, therefore it becomes necessary for us to address you at this time on several important subjects.
"You are now without a prophet present with you in the flesh to guide you; but you are not without apostles, who hold the keys of power to seal on earth that which shall be sealed in heaven, and to preside over all the affairs of the church in all the world; being still under the direction of the same God, and being dictated by the same Spirit, having the same manifestations of the Holy Ghost to dictate all the affairs of the church in all the world, to build up the kingdom upon the foundation that the Prophet Joseph has laid, who still holds the keys of this last dispensation, and will hold them to all eternity, as a king and priest unto the most high God, ministering in heaven, on earth, or among the
7William Smith, John E. Page, and Lyman Wight refused to indorse [endorse] the actions of their colleagues and denounced them as usurpers.
spirits of the departed dead, as seemeth good to him who sent him.
"Let no man presume for a moment that his place will be filled by another; for, remember he stands in his own place, and always will; and the Twelve Apostles of this dispensation stand in their own place and always will, both in time and in eternity, to minister, preside, and regulate the affairs of the whole church
"How vain are the imaginations of the children of men, to presume for a moment that the slaughter of one, two, or a hundred of the leaders of this church could destroy an organization, so perfect in itself and so harmoniously arranged that it will stand while one member of it is left alive upon the earth. Brethren, be not alarmed, for if the Twelve should be taken away, still there are powers and offices in existence which will bear the kingdom of God triumphantly victorious in all the world. This church may have prophets many, and apostles many, but they are all to stand in due time in their proper organization, under the direction of those who hold the keys.
"On the subject of the gathering, let it be distinctly understood that the city of Nauvoo and the temple of our Lord are to continue to be built up according to the pattern which has been commenced, and which has progressed with such rapidity thus far.
"The city must be built up and supported by the gathering of those who have capital, and are willing to lay it out for the erection of every branch of industry and manufacture, which is necessary for the employment and support of the poor, or of those who depend wholly on their labor; while farmers who have capital must come on and purchase farms in the adjoining country, and improve and cultivate the same. In this way all may enjoy plenty, and our infant city may grow and flourish and be strengthened an hundredfold; and unless this is done, it is impossible for the gathering to progress, because those who have no other dependence cannot live together without industry and employment.
"Therefore, let capitalists hasten here; and they may be assured we have nerves, sinews, fingers, skill, and ingenuity
sufficient in our midst to carry on all the necessary branches of industry.
"The temple must be completed by a regular system of tithing, according to the commandments of the Lord, which he has given as a law unto this church, by the mouth of his servant Joseph.
"Therefore, as soon as the Twelve have proceeded to a full and complete organization of the branches abroad, let every member proceed immediately to tithe himself or herself a tenth of all their property and money, and pay it into the hands of the Twelve, or into the hands of such bishops as have been or shall be appointed by them to receive the same, for the building of the temple or the support of the priesthood, according to the Scriptures and the revelations of God; and then let them continue to pay in a tenth of their income from that time forth; for this is a law unto this church as much binding on their conscience as any other law or ordinance. And let this law or ordinance be henceforth taught to all who present themselves for admission into this church, that they may know the sacrifice and tithing which the Lord requires, and perform it; or else not curse the church with a mock membership as many have done heretofore. This will furnish a steady public fund for all sacred purposes, and save the leaders from constant debt and embarrassment; and the members can then employ the remainder of their capital in every branch of enterprise, industry, and charity, as seemeth them good; only holding themselves in readiness to be advised in such manner as shall be for the good of themselves and the whole society; and thus all things can move in harmony, and for the general benefit and satisfaction of all concerned.
"The United States and adjoining provinces will be immediately organized by the Twelve into proper districts, in a similar manner as they have already done in England and Scotland, and high priests will be appointed over each district, to preside over the same, and to call quarterly conferences for the regulation and representation of the branches included in the same, and for the furtherance of the gospel; and also to take measures for a yearly representation
in a General Conference. This will save the trouble and confusion of the running to and fro of elders, detect false doctrine and false teachers, and make every elder abroad accountable to the conference in which he may happen to labor. Bishops will also be appointed in the larger branches, to attend to the management of the temporal funds, such as tithings and funds for the poor, according to the revelations of God, and to be judges in Israel.
"The gospel in its fullness and purity must now roll forth through every neighborhood of this widespread country, and to all the world; and millions will awake to its truths and obey its precepts, and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.
"As rulers and people have taken counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed, and have murdered him who would have reformed and saved the nation, it is not wisdom for the saints to have anything to do with politics, voting, or president-making, at present. None of the candidates who are now before the public for that high office have manifested any disposition or intention to redress wrong or restore right, liberty, or law; and therefore, woe unto him who gives countenance to corruption, or partakes of murder, robbery, or other cruel deeds. Let us then stand aloof from all their corrupt men and measures, and wait, at least, till a man is found, who, if elected, will carry out the enlarged principles, universal freedom, and equal rights and protection expressed in the views of our beloved prophet and martyr, General Joseph Smith.
"We do not, however, offer this political advice as binding on the consciences of others; we are perfectly willing that every member of this church should use their own freedom in all political matters; but we give it as our own rule of action, and for the benefit of those who may choose to profit by it.
"Now, dear brethren, to conclude our present communication, we would exhort you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be humble and faithful before God, and before all the people, and give no occasion for any man to speak evil
of you; but preach the gospel in its simplicity and purity, and practice righteousness, and seek to establish the influence of truth, peace, and love among mankind, and in so doing the Lord will bless you, and make you a blessing to all people.
"You may expect to hear from us again.
"BRIGHAM YOUNG, President of the Twelve.
"Nauvoo, August 15, 1844."
-Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 6l8-620.
The Millennial Star, volume 25, has this purporting to be the language of Brigham Young, on August 8, 1844:-
"You cannot fill the office of a prophet, seer, and revelator; God must do this. You are like children without a father, and sheep without a shepherd. You must not appoint any man at your head. If you should, the Twelve must ordain him. You cannot appoint a man at your head; . . . I tell you there is an over-anxiety to hurry matters here. You cannot take any man and put him at your head; you would scatter the saints to the four winds. You would sever the priesthood. So long as we remain as we are the heavenly head is in constant coöperation with us; and if you go out of that course, God will have nothing to do with you. . . . I again repeat, No man can stand at our head except God reveals it from the heavens."-Page 231.
These statements are quite significant. They voice sentiments which it will be well for the reader to remember as we proceed with the narrative.
The following thoughts are made prominent: First, The people cannot by selection place a man at their head; God must do this. Second, The effect of presuming to select would be to scatter the saints to the four winds, and sever the priesthood. Third, Every man should remain just as he was without changing his position, and this was in harmony with the motion that he put to sustain the Twelve in their calling. Fourth, The effect of this policy would be, that the heavenly head would coöperate with them. Fifth, The effect of a departure from it would be that God would have nothing to do with them. Sixth, There was then no man who by virtue of his position was entitled to be at the head,
but when, if ever, one should be placed there, God must reveal it from the heavens.
Nominally the Twelve adhered to this declared policy for over three years; and though they may have usurped authority not attaching lawfully to their office, they laid no claim only indirectly and incidentally to another office while they were with the body of the church at Nauvoo.
In 1846 an exodus took place from Nauvoo, and a large portion of the church moved westward. A party of them, including several of the Twelve, reached Salt Lake Valley in July, 1847. Immediately after arriving there, for some reason which they have not fully explained, they instituted the practice of rebaptism. The Twelve led the way and others followed. Elder Young, on October 23, 1853, counseled others who had come to the valley to be rebaptized. 8
Here is the record as given by themselves, as recorded in "Life of Brigham Young, or Utah and Her Founders," by Tullidge, who quoted from "the historian Woodruff," late President of their church.
"On the 6th of August, the Twelve were rebaptized. This we considered a privilege and a duty. As we had come into a glorious valley to locate and build up Zion, we felt like renewing our covenants before the Lord and each other. We soon repaired to the water, and President Young went down into the water and baptized all his brethren of the Twelve present. He then confirmed us, and
8I will refer again to the brethren and sisters who have lately come over the plains. My counsel to them to-day is, as it has been on former occasions to all who have come into these valleys, Go and be baptized for the remission of sins, repenting of all your wanderings from the path of righteousness, believing firmly, in the name of Jesus Christ, that all your sins will be washed away. If any of you inquire what is the necessity of your being baptized, as you have not committed any sins, I answer, it is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.
I have heard of some of you cursing and swearing, even some of the elders of Israel. I would be baptized seven times, were I in your place; I would not stop teasing some good elder to baptize me again and again, until I could think my sins forgiven. I would not live over another night until I was baptized enough to satisfy me that my sins were forgiven. Then go and be confirmed, as you were when you first embraced the religion of Jesus. That is my counsel.-Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, pp. 8, 9.
sealed upon us our apostleship and all the keys, powers, and blessings belonging to that office. Brother Heber C. Kimball baptized and confirmed President Brigham Young. The following were the names and order of those present: Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Amasa Lyman. Ezra T. Benson had been dispatched several days before to meet the companies on the road.
"In the afternoon of the next day, the Twelve went to the temple block to select their inheritances.
"President Young took a block east of the temple, and running southeast, to settle his friends around him; Heber C. Kimball, a block north of the temple; Orson Pratt, south and running south; Wilford Woodruff, a block cornering Temple Block, the southwest corner joining Orson Pratt's; Amasa Lyman took a block forty rods below Wilford Woodruff's; George A. Smith, one joining the temple on the west, and running due west. It was supposed that Willard Richards would take his on the east, near President Young's. None others of the Twelve were present in camp.
"During the same evening the Twelve went to City Creek, and Heber C. Kimball baptized fifty-five members of the camp, for the remission of their sins; and they were confirmed under the hands of President Young, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Amasa Lyman; President Young being mouth.
"On the next day (Sunday, August 8) the whole camp of Israel renewed their covenants before the Lord by baptism. There were two hundred and twenty-four baptized this morning, making two hundred and eighty-eight rebaptized in the last three days."-Life of Brigham Young; or, Utah and Her Founders, pp. 180-182.
It will be observed from the above that the Twelve and others were not only rebaptized, but President Woodruff says: "He [Brigham] then confirmed us, and sealed upon us our apostleship, and all the keys, powers, and blessings belonging to that office."
On August 26, 1847. the Twelve, or some of them, left
Salt Lake Valley, and returned to Winter Quarters, where they arrived October 31,1847.
On December 5,1847, they met in council and appointed Brigham Young to be President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards his counselors.
In a "General Epistle from the Council of the Twelve Apostles, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, abroad, dispersed throughout the Earth, Greeting," "written at Winter Quarters, Omaha Nation, west bank of Missouri River, near Council Bluffs, North America, and signed December 23, 1847, in behalf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Brigham Young, President, Willard Richards, Clerk" (Millennial Star, vol. 10, pp. 81-88)-an extract from that Epistle as found on page 86 is as follows:-
"Since the murder of President Joseph Smith, many false prophets and false teachers have arisen, and tried to deceive many, during which time we have mostly tarried with the body of the church, or been seeking a new location, leaving those prophets and teachers to run their race undisturbed, who have died natural deaths, or committed suicides; and we now, having it in contemplation soon to reorganize the church according to the original pattern, with a First Presidency and Patriarch, feel that it will be the privilege of the Twelve, ere long, to spread abroad among the nations, not to hinder the gathering, but to preach the gospel, and push the people, the honest in heart, together from the four quarters of the earth."-Millennial Star, vol. 10, p. 86.
The very next day after signing this epistle, December 24, 1847, the action of the Twelve on the 5th, forming a Presidency, was presented to a conference composed of no more than one thousand persons, and by this conference the action of the Twelve was confirmed. Thus was Brigham Young made President by choice of a part of his quorum first, and then by about one thousand members assembled on the confines of civilization, and without the knowledge of the majority of the church, which at the death of Joseph Smith numbered, as has been estimated, about one hundred and fifty thousand in the world, including about thirty
thousand in Nauvoo and vicinity. There is no evidence that a notice had been served on the rest of the church. In fact, there could have been no notice given until December 5, as Elder Young himself had not expressed his views until then, as will appear by the following:-
"On the 3d of December a conference was held on the east side of the river; but, after having resolved to build immediately a large tabernacle for the congregation, it adjourned for three weeks.
"There was a feast and a grand council, December 6, at the house of Elder Hyde, who had been in charge at Winter Quarters during the absence of the pioneers.
"In this council of the Twelve Apostles, their president first expressed his views concerning the reorganization of the quorum of the First Presidency, and wished those present to do the same in their order, when Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, George A. Smith, Amasa Lyman, and Ezra T. Benson spoke to the question. President Young closed.
"Orson Hyde then moved that Brigham Young be President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that he nominate his two counselors to form the First Presidency. Wilford Woodruff seconded the motion, and it was then carried unanimously.
"President Young then nominated Heber C. Kimball as his first counselor, and Willard Richards as his second counselor, which was seconded and carried unanimously."-Life of Brigham Young; or, Utah and Her Founders, p. 188.
Nineteen days were not sufficient to serve notice on a large body of people scattered throughout Europe and America, and give them time to appear, especially when the notice must be sent from, and the gathering be to, a place far removed from railroad and telegraphic communications. This too notwithstanding a promise had been made that, "When any alteration in the Presidency shall be required, seasonable notice will be given." See page 4 of this work.
Not only did one thousand people assume to act for one hundred and fifty thousand, without their knowledge and consent, in changing the declared policy of the church, but,
the Quorum of the Twelve as they were left when Joseph died was in that condition that Elder Young could not have been elected by a majority vote without casting his own vote for himself; and it would also require the votes of Kimball and Richards each voting for themselves to place them in the Presidency. William Smith, John E. Page, and Lyman Wight had before renounced the proceedings of the quorum, and were not present at that meeting. John Taylor and P. P. Pratt were in Salt Lake Valley and could not possibly have known anything of this movement before it was consummated.
This left just seven present, a majority of one only. They were Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith. The moment they by their own act removed from the quorum Young, Kimball, and Richards, it left only four present, who had sanctioned this extraordinary movement; and when it was sanctioned by Taylor and Pratt, there were only six; hence the quorum was broken, and could no more act as a quorum until reorganized, as the law recognizes no less than a majority as forming a quorum. 9
They had previously elevated Amasa Lyman and Ezra T. Benson to positions in the quorum; but by what authority does not appear, as no revelation is upon record calling them to that position; and the evidence of their selection by a General Conference or High Council is wanting.
Brigham Young in a letter to Orson Spencer, dated January 23, 1848, and published in Millennial Star, volume 10, pages 114 and 115, states:-
"In December last we appointed a day to hold a conference on the other side of the river, in a large double block house, occupied by one of the brethren, where the saints congregated in such large numbers that we found it impracticable to continue our conference, the house being so crowded and many shouting at the windows to get in, so that we adjourned for three weeks to build a house capable of holding the saints. Accordingly, on the 24th, we convened
9See Book of Doctrine and Covenants 104:11.
again at the 'Log Tabernacle,' which they erected in a short time, during the severest weather we have had this winter. It is a well-constructed, capacious log house, 60 by 40 feet inside, and will seat 1,000 persons, with a recess or stand 20 by 10 feet for the priesthood and a clerk's bench: it is certainly an ornament to this new country, and shows a little of Mormonism. I told them at the conference that the brethren had built, fenced, and made as many improvements in the short time they had been there (about a year) as they would in Missouri in about ten years; and it is a fact, and they have raised a crop equal to any we used to raise in Illinois.
"At this conference we suggested to the brethren the propriety of organizing the church with a First Presidency and a Patriarch, as hinted at in our General Epistle, and the expediency of such a move at this time was so clearly seen by the brethren, that they hailed it as an action which the state of the work at present demanded, and as a means to liberate the hands of the Quorum of the Twelve, who now feel at liberty to go abroad and herald the truth to the ends of the earth, and build up the kingdom in all the world. Accordingly Brigham Young was nominated to be the First President of the Church, and he nominated Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards to be his two counselors, which nominations were seconded and carried without a dissentient [dissenting]voice. Father John Smith was then nominated to be Patriarch of the whole church, in the same capacity as Father Joseph Smith was, and also Brother Hyrum-seconded and carried unanimously. The Spirit of the Lord at this time rested upon the congregation in a powerful manner, insomuch that the saints' hearts were filled with joy unspeakable; every power of their mind and nerve of their body was awakened and absorbed. A dead stillness reigned in the congregation while the President spoke. He said: 'This is one of the happiest days of my life; it's according as Heber prophesied yesterday, our teachings to-day have been good. I never heard better. Is not the bliss of heaven and the breezes of Zion wafted here? Who feels hatred, malice, or evil? If you come to the door with a bad spirit, it would not come in
with you; no, it could not mingle here; but when you enter, your feelings become as calm and gentle as the zephyrs of paradise; and I feel glory, hallelujah. Nothing more has been done to-day than what I knew would be done when Joseph died.'"
A small fraction of the church had that day assumed to act for the whole and placed a man at their head; and that man declared that, "Nothing more has been done to-day than what I knew would be done when Joseph died." This remark is a very peculiar one if, as reported, this same man did on August 8, 1844, declare: "You cannot take any man and put him at your head; you would scatter the saints to the four winds. You would sever the priesthood."
That no divine call was then claimed is evident from a sermon of Brigham Young's delivered in Salt Lake City, April 7, 1852:-
"A person was mentioned to-day who did not believe that Brigham Young was a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. I wish to ask every member of this whole community, if they ever heard him profess to be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, as Joseph Smith was? He professed to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, called and sent of God to save Israel. If you know what the calling of an apostle is, and if there were ten thousand of them on the earth at the same time, you must know that the words of an apostle who magnifies his calling are the words of the Almighty to the people all the time. He never need be called in question whether he revealed the mind of the Lord or not. Although Brothers Willard Richards, Heber C. Kimball, and myself are out of the Quorum of the Twelve, our apostleship has not been taken from us. Who ordained me to be First President of this church on earth? I answer, it is the choice of this people, and that is sufficient."-Millennial Star, vol. 16, p. 442.
We could not get a direct answer to the question: "Who ordained Brigham Young President of the Church?" as the following correspondence will show:-
"LAMONI, Iowa, October 2, 1896.
"F. D. RICHARDS,
"Dear Sir:-I believe you are Church Recorder, and so write you for historical information. Will you favor me by stating what the approximate or exact numerical strength of the church was at the time of the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
"I desire this simply to get at correct historical data.
"HEMAN C. SMITH."
To this we received the following reply:-
"SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 12, 1896.
"MR. HEMAN C. SMITH, Lamoni, Iowa,
"Dear Sir.-In reply to yours of the 2d inst. as to the numerical strength of the church at the time of the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
"The nearest we can approximate the number was about 26,000 to 27,000 souls. Respectfully,
"F. D. RICHARDS."
To this we replied as follows:-
"LAMONI, Iowa, Oct. 17, 1896.
"F. D. RICHARDS."
"Dear Sir:-Yours of October 12, 1896, is at hand, stating the approximate numerical strength of the church at the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith to have been 'about 26, 000 to 27, 000 souls.'
"I am surprised at the number being given so small by you. How do you explain the statements of Joseph Smith on this point? In a historical sketch written by him and published by I. Daniel Rupp in 1844 he writes: 'There are no correct data by which the exact number of members composing this now extensive, and still extending, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can be known. Should it be supposed at 150,000 it might still be short of the truth.'-History of Religious Denominations, p. 409.
"In his reply to Henry Clay, May 13, 1844, he writes: 'Why, Great God! to transport 200,000 people through a vast prairie; over the Rocky Mountains, to Oregon, a distance of nearly two thousand miles, would cost more than four millions!'-Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 547.
"These two statements would closely agree if we include in the latter statement dependents who were not members, but there is a very wide difference between your estimate and his.
"I do not quote these statements by way of argument against your figures, but to get your explanation of the difference. Upon what basis did you make your estimate? Have you the record of names kept at the time? I want to get at the truth of the matter for the sake of historical accuracy.
"I would like to ask another favor of you; namely: to inform me when, where, and by whom were Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff ordained Presidents of the High Priesthood, or presidents of the church, if so ordained?
"Or if it is the position of your people that they needed no other ordination than that to the apostleship, will you please so state.
"I am engaged in writing history and do not wish to misrepresent you.
"HEMAN C. SMITH."
Waiting until November 19, and receiving no reply to our inquiries, we wrote Mr. Richards as follows:-
"LAMONI IOWA, Nov. 19, 1896.
"F. D. RICHARDS,
"Dear Sir:-On October 17, I wrote you in reply to yours of October 12. I am very anxious to receive answer to inquiries made. If you have not received it please let me know and I will send you a copy.
"I am, respectfully,
"HEMAN C. SMITH"
Still receiving no reply, we waited until December l6, when we mailed him a copy of our letter of October 17, together with the following note, registering them:-
"LAMONI, Iowa, Dec. 16, 1896.
"F. D. RICHARDS,
"Dear Sir.-On October 17 I wrote you in answer to yours of October 12, and made some further inquiries. Waiting until November 19, and receiving no reply I wrote inquiring if you received it. Still I have no reply.
"I now inclose [enclose] a copy of my letter of October 17, as you may not have received the original. Will you please give it your early attention, as I am anxious to get the information sought.
I inclose [enclose] stamp for reply.
"HEMAN C. SMITH."
In due course of mail we received the "Registry Return Receipt," signed "F. D. Richards, per John Jaques;" but up to date, January 19, 1900, no answer has been received.
Under date of March 7, 1898, F. D. Richards, Historian of the Utah Church, wrote Mr. J. B. Clark, of Eula, Alabama, that no ordination was necessary. C. W. Penrose, Assistant Historian, wrote to J. O. Long, of Higdon, Alabama, same effect, May 18,1898.
We have no means of determining how many accepted the claims of Mr. Young, but certainly a very small minority of the church followed him to his rendezvous in the mountains. In 1850, three years after their arrival, the United States census gave the entire population of Utah, Mormons and Gentiles included, as follows: White, 11,354; slaves 26; total 11,380. Young enriched himself and died a very wealthy man. In 1847 he went into a new and desert country, comparatively a poor man, and while others struggled with poverty and hardships incident to the settlement and improvement of a new country, he accumulated over seventeen thousand dollars in the first year. According to his own words this was a very small portion of his first year's accumulation. How many more thousands we know not. Here is his own statement:-
"I will commence at the north and go to the south settlements, and pick out twenty-five of our inhabitants as they average; and another man may take fifty of the gold diggers, off hand, and they cannot buy out the twenty-five who have tarried at home. Before I had been one year in this place, the wealthiest man who came from the mines, Father Rhodes, with seventeen thousand dollars, could not buy the possessions I had made in one year! It will not begin to do it; and I will take twenty five men in the United States, who have
staid [stayed] at home and paid attention to their own business, and they will weigh down fifty others from the same place, who went to the gold regions; and again, look at the widows that have been made, and see the bones that lie bleaching and scattered over the prairies."-Millennial Star, vol. 13, p. 18.
He died in 1877 a millionaire, bequeathing more than a million in his will.
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