Revelation, 27 February 1833 [D&C 89]
Revelation,Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH, 27 Feb. 1833. Featured version, titled “A Word of Wisdom,” copied [ca. June 1833] in Sidney Gilbert, Notebook, –; handwriting ofSidney Gilbert, Notebook, [ca. June 1831–ca. June 1833]; handwriting ofEach leaf measures 6⅛ × 3⅝ inches (16 × 9 cm); the notebook, which contains copies of revelations and miscellaneous notes, measures 6¼ × 4 × ⅜ inches (16 × 10 × 1 cm).FollowingSidney Gilbert’s death in June 1834, it appears that the Gilbert notebook transferred to the custody of the Rollins family—early members of the church in
28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...View Full Bio
- 1 Note, Revelations Collection, CHL.
While no contemporaneous sources describing the circumstances under which JS dictated this 27 February 1833 revelation have been located, later accounts indicate that it was recorded in connection with the activities of theSchool of the Prophets. According to
A term occasionally used to refer to a Protestant seminary; specifically used by JS to refer to a school to prepare elders of the church for their ministry. A December 1832 revelation directed JS and the elders of the church in Kirtland, Ohio, to establish...View GlossaryBrigham Young, heavy tobacco use—in the form of both smoking and chewing—among members of the school, combined with
1 June 1801–29 Aug. 1877. Carpenter, painter, glazier, colonizer. Born at Whitingham, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of John Young and Abigail (Nabby) Howe. Brought up in Methodist household; later joined Methodist church. Moved to Sherburne, Chenango Co., New...View Full BioEmma Smith’s and others’ complaints about cleaning tobacco juice from the floor, led JS “to inquire of the Lord with regard to use of tobacco” and “to the conduct of the
10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...View Full Bioelderswith this particular practice.”
A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...View Glossary1This revelation—composed largely of warnings and counsel regarding not only the use of tobacco, but also the consumption of various foods, “hot drinks,” wine, and “Strong drinks”—was the result of his inquiries. Known among church members as the “Word of Wisdom,” referring to the opening phrase of the text, the revelation was evidently recorded in JS’s translating room in
Pitman Shorthand Transcriptions, 1998–2013. CHL.
Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855–1886.Newel K. Whitney’s
3/5 Feb. 1795–23 Sept. 1850. Trader, merchant. Born at Marlborough, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of Samuel Whitney and Susanna Kimball. Moved to Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York, 1803. Merchant at Plattsburg, Clinton Co., New York, 1814. Mercantile clerk for...View Full Biostore.
In Apr. 1826, Whitney purchased quarter-acre lot on northeast corner of Chardon and Chillicothe roads and built two-story, 1500-square-foot, white store. Mercantile store also functioned as Kirtland Mills post office. Whitney met JS at store, 4 Feb. 1831....More InfoZebedee Coltrin, who was present, recalled JS coming out of his translation room and reading the revelation to over twenty members of the school then in attendance.
7 Sept. 1804–21 July 1887. Born at Ovid, Seneca Co., New York. Son of John Coltrin and Sarah Graham. Member of Methodist church. Married first Julia Ann Jennings, Oct. 1828. Baptized into LDS church by Solomon Hancock, 9 Jan. 1831, at Strongsville, Cuyahoga...View Full Bio2
School of the Prophets Salt Lake City Minutes, Apr.–Dec. 1883. CHL.
School of the Prophets Saint George Records, 1883, 1885. CHL.Joel Johnsonadded that the revelation was given in the evening.
23 Mar. 1802–24 Sept. 1882. Miller, farmer, merchant. Born at Grafton, Worcester Co., Massachusetts. Son of Ezekiel Johnson and Julia Hills. Moved to Newport, Campbell Co., Kentucky, 1813. Moved to Pomfret, Chautauque Co., New York, 1815. Baptized into Baptist...View Full BioAt the time this revelation was dictated, the temperance movement, as well as other dietary reform movements, was beginning to factor more prominently in American culture. Initially fueled by concerns about the physiological effects of alcohol, calls for more moderate, or temperate, use of alcohol,4and even for complete abstinence, had become increasingly identified with Christian reform movements by this time and had resulted in the formation of thousands of temperance societies throughout the
Rorabaugh, W. J. The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.5In
Peterson, Paul H. “An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom.” Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972.
Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1831–1838.
Millennial Harbinger. Bethany, VA. Jan. 1830–Dec. 1870.New York.
Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...More Info6The society continued for five years, during which time a distillery at Kirtland and two in
Crary, Christopher G. Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences. Marshalltown, IA: Marshall Printing Co., 1893.Mentor, Ohio, evidently closed for want of patronage.
Located in northeastern Ohio, about three miles northeast of Kirtland. Area claimed by Connecticut (referred to as Western Reserve), 1786. Surveyed 1796. Settled by early 1798. Organized 1815. Population in 1830 about 700. Included village of Mentor. Sidney...More Info7According to one reminiscent account, the society disbanded after many of the temperance workers moved away as the Mormon population in the area grew, suggesting that Mormon involvement with the society was limited.
Crary, Christopher G. Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences. Marshalltown, IA: Marshall Printing Co., 1893.8
Crary, Christopher G. Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences. Marshalltown, IA: Marshall Printing Co., 1893.Arguments against the use of alcohol and other items, including tea, coffee, and tobacco, could be found in the religious, medical, and popular publications of the time, while arguments promoting the health value of other foods and drinks were also prevalent in the period’s literature.9In January and February 1833, JS himself was subscribing to the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer, an evangelical weekly that regularly published articles on temperance.
Millennial Harbinger. Bethany, VA. Jan. 1830–Dec. 1870.
Journal of Health. Philadelphia. 1829–1833.
Paris, J. A. A Treatise on Diet: With a View to Establish, on Practical Grounds, a System of Rules for the Prevention and Cure of the Diseases Incident to a Disordered State of the Digestive Function. Philadelphia: Robert H. Small, 1826.
Bush, Lester E. “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective.” In The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture, edited by Dan Vogel, 161–185. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990.The contents of this revelation appear to have been available to many church members within months after its recording.Sidney Gilbertmade a private copy probably sometime in the summer of 1833 in
28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...View Full BioWilford Woodruffcopied the revelation in the back of his personal copy of the Book of Commandments, probably before September 1835—when the Doctrine and Covenants, which contained this revelation, became available.
1 Mar. 1807–2 Sept. 1898. Farmer, miller. Born at Farmington, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of Aphek Woodruff and Beulah Thompson. Moved to Richland, Oswego Co., New York, 1832. Baptized into LDS church by Zera Pulsipher, 31 Dec. 1833, near Richland. Ordained...View Full Bio11It was also printed as a broadsheet around January 1834 in12Charges against church members in
Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, who have assembled yourselves together. [Kirtland, OH: ca. Jan. 1834]. Copy at BYU.
Crawley, Peter. A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. 3 vols. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997–2012.Pennsylvaniafor disobeying some of the revelation’s instruction surfaced in February 1834, within a year of the revelation’s dictation, while local church conferences as far away as
Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...More InfoNew Yorkand
Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...More InfoMainewere referencing the revelation by summer 1834.
Initially established as district of Massachusetts, 1691. Admitted as state, 1820. Population in 1830 about 400,000. Population in 1840 about 500,000. Capital city and seat of government, Augusta. First visited by Mormon missionaries, Sept. 1832. Branches...More Info13
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.Eber D. Howepublished the revelation in his book Mormonism Unvailed in 1834.
9 June 1798–10 Nov. 1885. Newspaper editor and publisher, farmer, wool manufacturer. Born at Clifton Park, Saratoga Co., New York. Son of Samuel William Howe and Mabel Dudley. Moved with family to Ovid, Seneca Co., New York, 1804. Located at Niagara District...View Full Bio14
Howe, Eber D. Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time. With Sketches of the Characters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in Which the Famous Golden Bible Was Brought before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries into the Probability That the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written by One Solomon Spalding, More Than Twenty Years Ago, and by Him Intended to Have Been Published as a Romance. Painesville, OH: By the author, 1834.Among the members of theChurch of Christthere was apparently some question as to what the revelation meant by “hot drinks,” prompting JS and
The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...View GlossaryHyrum Smith, according to one reminiscent account, to explicitly identify coffee and tea at a meeting in
9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...View Full Bio15Similarly, opinions on how strictly the revelation’s instructions were to be followed appear to have differed among church members, probably as a result of the revelation’s opening statement that the Word of Wisdom was given “for the benefit” of church members, “not by commandment or Constraint.” Possibly complicating the situation were the different ways this statement was presented. With one possible exception, the earliest manuscript versions of this revelation present the opening statement as part of the revelation, as do the printed broadsheet and
Johnson, Joel H. Notebook, not before 1879. Joel Hills Johnson, Papers, ca. 1835–1882. CHL. MS 1546, fd. 7.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855–1886.Howe’s Mormonism Unvailed.Doctrine and Covenants, however, the opening paragraph appears as an italicized heading, allowing for the later interpretation that it was an introductory statement rather than part of the revelation proper and that, therefore, it was JS or one of his scribes, not God, who said the revelation was not a
9 June 1798–10 Nov. 1885. Newspaper editor and publisher, farmer, wool manufacturer. Born at Clifton Park, Saratoga Co., New York. Son of Samuel William Howe and Mabel Dudley. Moved with family to Ovid, Seneca Co., New York, 1804. Located at Niagara District...View Full BioIn any event, the degree to which church members felt obligated to follow the revelation’s instructions varied. Some, likeZebedee Coltrin,
7 Sept. 1804–21 July 1887. Born at Ovid, Seneca Co., New York. Son of John Coltrin and Sarah Graham. Member of Methodist church. Married first Julia Ann Jennings, Oct. 1828. Baptized into LDS church by Solomon Hancock, 9 Jan. 1831, at Strongsville, Cuyahoga...View Full BioJoel Johnson, and
23 Mar. 1802–24 Sept. 1882. Miller, farmer, merchant. Born at Grafton, Worcester Co., Massachusetts. Son of Ezekiel Johnson and Julia Hills. Moved to Newport, Campbell Co., Kentucky, 1813. Moved to Pomfret, Chautauque Co., New York, 1815. Baptized into Baptist...View Full BioJohn Tanner, chose to abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol almost immediately;
15 Aug. 1778–13 Apr. 1850. Farmer, timberland owner. Born at Hopkinton, Washington Co., Rhode Island. Son of Joshua Tanner and Thankful Tefft. Moved to Greenwich, Washington Co., New York, ca. 1791. Married first Tabitha Bentley, 1800. Wife died, Apr. 1801...View Full Bio17others, like JS’s wife
School of the Prophets Salt Lake City Minutes, Apr.–Dec. 1883. CHL.
School of the Prophets Saint George Records, 1883, 1885. CHL.
Johnson, Joel H. Notebook, not before 1879. Joel Hills Johnson, Papers, ca. 1835–1882. CHL. MS 1546, fd. 7.
Tanner, Nathan. Autobiography, ca. 1854. BYU.Emma, who offered weary travelers tea and coffee upon their arrival in
10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...View Full Bio18A May 1835 letter fromWilliam W. Phelpsto his wife,
17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...View Full BioSally Waterman Phelps—in which he spoke about the “sameness” of the Kirtland church members as they “drink cold water; and don’t even mention tea and Coffee”—suggests the revelation was more universally understood among church members by that time, although many exceptions continue to appear in the historical record.
24 July 1797–2 Jan. 1874. Schoolteacher. Born in Franklin, Delaware Co., New York. Daughter of David Bassett Waterman and Jerusha Case. Married William Wines Phelps, 28 Apr. 1815, in Smyrna, Chenango Co., New York. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York; ...View Full Bio19
Phelps, William W. Papers, 1835–1865. BYU.Many church members, for instance, apparently felt that it was acceptable for tea or alcohol to be taken medicinally.20
Combe, Andrew. The Physiology of Digestion Considered with Relation to the Principles of Dietetics. New York: Howe and Bates, 1836.Emmamay have offered tea and coffee to new arrivals with this idea in mind; JS’s administering whiskey in June 1834 toGeorge A. Smith, who was suffering from cholera, almost certainly reflected such an interpretation.
26 June 1817–1 Sept. 1875. Born at Potsdam, St. Lawrence Co., New York. Son of John Smith and Clarissa Lyman. Baptized into LDS church by Joseph H. Wakefield, 10 Sept. 1832, at Potsdam. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, 1833. Labored on Kirtland temple...View Full Bio21In spite of JS’s acquiescence with this practice, not everyone agreed with it. On 4 December 1836, for example, at the instigation of22Over the ensuing years, nevertheless, various church members, including JS, continued to allow for the use of these drinks in cases of sickness.
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352. Also available as Wilford Woodruff’s Journals, 1833–1898, edited by Scott G. Kenney, 9 vols. (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983–1985).23
Historian’s Office. Brigham Young History Drafts, 1856–1858. CHL. CR 100 475, box 1, fd. 5.
Nauvoo City Council Minute Book / Nauvoo City Council. “A Record of the Proceedings of the City Council of the City of Nauvoo Handcock County, State of Illinois, Commencing A.D. 1841,” ca. 1841–1845. CHL. MS 3435.JS and many others also allowed for a relaxed standard in adhering to the revelation’s instructions during times of unusual difficulty and hardship. While overseeing a mass exodus of church members fromseventiesdrew up a “constitution” charging leaders to see that “the word of wisdom [was] heeded”—that is, that “no tobacco, tea, coffee, snuff nor ardent spirits of any kind, [were] taken internally.”
A priesthood office with the responsibility to travel and preach and assist the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, similar to the seventy in the New Testament. In February and March 1835, the first members of the Seventy were selected and ordained. All of those...View GlossaryNauvooto “make tea and drink it” when the river water was unsuitable for drinking and that he “often made tea and administered it with his own hands.”
Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...More Info26Perhaps the best illustration of a more relaxed position regarding the Word of Wisdom in times of stress is
Woman’s Exponent. Salt Lake City. 1872–1914.John Taylor’s account of events leading to JS’s death at
1 Nov. 1808–25 July 1887. Preacher, editor, publisher, politician. Born at Milnthorpe, Westmoreland, England. Son of James Taylor and Agnes Taylor, members of Church of England. Around age sixteen, joined Methodists and was local preacher. Migrated from England...View Full BioCarthage, Illinois, in June 1844, in which he noted that JS and his companions, who were feeling “unusually dull and languid” after several days of incarceration, drank some wine to raise their spirits.
Located eighteen miles southeast of Nauvoo. Settled 1831. Designated Hancock Co. seat, Mar. 1833. Incorporated as town, 27 Feb. 1837. Population in 1839 about 300. Population in 1844 about 400. Site of anti-Mormon meetings and resolutions, early 1840s. Site...More InfoIn accordance with the revelation’s provision that homemade wine could be taken when church members met “to offer up [their] sacrament” before God, church members continued to use wine, generally fermented, in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.28This same provision, coupled with the understanding that a sacrament was something “having a sacred character or function,”
Murdock, John. Autobiography, ca. 1859–1867. John Murdock, Journal and Autobiography, ca. 1830–1867. CHL. MS 1194, fd. 4.
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352. Also available as Wilford Woodruff’s Journals, 1833–1898, edited by Scott G. Kenney, 9 vols. (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983–1985).29probably accounts for the times JS and others drank wine on several other occasions as well, including at the School of the Prophets, in various meetings held in the
Oxford English Dictionary. Compact ed. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.temple, and at weddings.30By the
School of the Prophets Salt Lake City Minutes, Apr.–Dec. 1883. CHL.Nauvooera, JS was more frequently making exceptions to the general observance of the Word of Wisdom that were not linked with health issues, hardship, or sacred functions, possibly indicating a more relaxed attitude on his part toward things like tea and wine.
Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...More Info31JS’s journal for 11 March 1843, for example, indicates that he “had tea with his breakfast.” Two months later, on 3 May 1843, JS “drank a glass of wine with Sister Richards. of her Mothe[r]’s make, in England.” A year after that, JS “drank a glass of beer at Moissers [
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352. Also available as Wilford Woodruff’s Journals, 1833–1898, edited by Scott G. Kenney, 9 vols. (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983–1985).Frederick Moeser’s].”
21 Aug. 1805–1853. Merchant, baker, butcher. Born in Germany. Son of Johan Georg Moeser and Anna Margaret Appel. Immigrated to Pittsburgh, before 1835. Married first Magdalena Zundel, before Feb. 1835. Moved to Beaver Co., Pennsylvania, by Oct. 1836. Moved...View Full BioOnly a few weeks prior to his death, JS seemed to reference the Word of Wisdom while counseling those who would be leaving to serve electioneering missions for hisU.S.presidential campaign. At least in regard to alcohol, JS inveighed against drunkenness rather than just occasional consumption, which reflected his own actions in relation to alcohol. He informed the men that “we should never indulge our appetites to injure our influence, or wound the feelings of friends, or cause the spirit of the Lord to leave us. There is no excuse for any man to drink and get drunk in the church of Christ, or gratify any appetite, or lust, contrary to the principles of righteousness.” JS further instructed the men “on the principles of sobriety, and every thing pertaining to godliness at considerable length & concluded by remarking that it is best to run on a long race and be careful to keep good wind &c.”33
Council of Fifty. “Record of the Council of Fifty or Kingdom of God,” Mar. 1844–Jan. 1846. CHL.Though the revelation instructed that meat was “to be used sparingly,” church members appear to have placed very little emphasis on that counsel, perhaps because this portion was rarely referenced by church leaders. Journals, reminiscences, and other personal records of the time that discuss specific provisions of the Word of Wisdom generally focus on the use of hot drinks, strong drinks, and tobacco rather than on the misuse or overuse of meat.34The same is true of more official records and statements. In a noteworthy exception,
Rorabaugh, W. J. The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.Nauvooto “attend to” the revelation’s instructions regarding the use of meat and to be “sparing of the life of animals.”
Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...More Info35
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Pitman Shorthand Transcriptions, 1998–2013. CHL.Portions of this revelation reflect material in earlier JS revelations. Sometime around August 1830, a revelation on the emblems used in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper prohibited the members of the Church of Christ from purchasing wine and “strong drink” from their enemies and enjoined them not to partake of any such drink “except it is made new among you.”revelation, as well as the Book of Mormon, endorsed the use of herbs and other plants for treating the sick, and a 7 August 1831 revelation noted that animals, plants, and “all things which cometh of the earth in the season thereof is made for the benefit & the use of man . . . to be used with judgement not to excess neither by extortion.”revelation similarly observed that “the beasts of the field & the fowls of the air & that which cometh of the Earth is ordained for the use of man for food & for raiment & that he might have in abundance” and at the same time condemned anyone “that shedeth blood or that wasteth flesh & hath no need.”revision of Genesis 9:5 in which God tells Noah that “blood shall not be shed only for meat to save your lives and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.”39
Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.The revelation makes no mention of an official penalty for disobeying its counsel, an issue that first presented itself toLeonard Rich—was “called in question for transgressing the word of wisdom.” A
1800–1868. Farmer. Born in New York. Married first Keziah. Lived at Warsaw, Genesee Co., New York, 1830. Participated in Camp of Israel expedition to Missouri, 1834. Served as a president of First Quorum of the Seventy, 1835–1837. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga...View Full Bioconferenceof church leaders and other men
A meeting where ecclesiastical officers and other church members could conduct church business. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church directed the elders to hold conferences to perform “Church business.” The first of these conferences was held on 9 June...View Glossaryordainedto the
The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...View Glossarypriesthoodforgave Rich “upon his promiseing to do better and reform his life.”
Power or authority of God. The priesthood was conferred through the laying on of hands upon adult male members of the church in good standing; no specialized training was required. Priesthood officers held responsibility for administering the sacrament of...View Glossaryhigh council—following a meeting that had been held in
A governing body of twelve high priests. The first high council was organized in Kirtland, Ohio, on 17 February 1834 “for the purpose of settling important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the church, or the bishop...View GlossaryPennsylvaniain which “some of the members of that Church refused to partak[e] of the sacrament because the Elder administering it did not observe the words of wisdom to obey them.” Rather than addressing the Pennsylvanians’ refusal, the Kirtland high council deliberated on the more fundamental issue of “whether disobedience to the word of wisdom was a transgression sufficient to deprive an official member from holding an office in the church, after haveing it sufficiently taught him.” The official decision, presented by JS and sanctioned by the council, was that “no official member in this church is worthy to hold an office after haveing the word of wisdom properly taught to him, and he, the official member, neglecting to comply with, or obey them.”
Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...More InfoThe council’s decision was eventually published in the Messenger and Advocate42and appears to have been the basis for several policies and judgments made in
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.43Records indicate that more severe actions, including excommunication, could be taken during this time when the violation of the principles taught in the revelation seemed particularly egregious or was part of a larger pattern of disobedience.
Record of Seventies / First Council of the Seventy. “Book of Records,” 1837–1843. Bk. A. In First Council of the Seventy, Records, 1837–1885. CHL. CR 3 51, box 1, fd. 1.
Kirtland Elders Quorum. “A Record of the First Quorurum of Elders Belonging to the Church of Christ: In Kirtland Geauga Co. Ohio,” 1836–1838, 1840–1841. CCLA.44Similarly, resolutions calling for the excommunication of church members who used “ardent spirits as a beverage” or who were “in the habit of drinking ardent spirits” were passed in various places in the early 1840s.45At the same time, however, records from the
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.46An editorial in the Times and Seasons counseled those who frequented “public places, where poison is dealt to the unwary” to be more actively engaged in the ministry to which they had been called, while those who used “tobacco and other intoxicating nauseates” were reminded that such substances “destroy the influence of the Holy Spirit.”
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.47Though disobedience to the Word of Wisdom was occasionally grounds for losing one’s office during the
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.licensesif they did not.
A document certifying an individual’s office in the church and authorizing him “to perform the duty of his calling.” The “Articles and Covenants” of the church implied that only elders could issue licenses; individuals ordained by a priest to an office in...View Glossary49
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.The copy of the revelation featured here is the private copy made bySidney Gilbert. Several pieces of textual evidence, including the lack of clarifying and elaborating phrases that occur in other early copies, suggest that it may best represent the earliest version of the revelation. In the following transcript, significant textual differences are noted between this copy and the copy made by
28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...View Full BioFrederick G. Williamsin Revelation Book 2 in
28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...View Full Bio
- 1 Young did not attend the School of the Prophets when this revelation was recorded but stated he received his information from those there. According to Young, tobacco juice was often “spit all over the floor” of the room in which the school met, and “the smoke was so dense you could hardly see across the room.” (Brigham Young, Discourse, 8 Feb. 1868, in George D. Watt, Discourse Shorthand Notes, 8 Feb. 1868, Pitman Shorthand Transcriptions, CHL; see also Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 8 Feb. 1868, 12:158.)
- 2 In one account, Coltrin reported that twenty-one men were in attendance; in another, twenty-two. (School of the Prophets Salt Lake City Minutes, 3 Oct. 1883; School of the Prophets Saint George Records, 23 Dec. 1883.)
- 3 Johnson, Notebook, .
- 4 By 1830, the annual consumption of distilled liquor alone in the United States was over five gallons per capita. (Rorabaugh, Alcoholic Republic, 8.)
- 5 Peterson, “Word of Wisdom,” 7–8; see also “Temperance,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 22 Nov. 1832, . Among the Christian reformers adopting a strong stance against the immoderate use of alcohol was Alexander Campbell, several of whose associates converted to Mormonism. (“Four Great Sources of Health,” Millennial Harbinger, 7 June 1830, 279–280.)
- 6 Crary, Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences, 25.
- 7 Crary, Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences, 25, 68. Based on an account book in his possession from the Kirtland distillery, Christopher Crary reported that the Kirtland distillery virtually closed on 1 February 1833—approximately four weeks before JS dictated this 27 February 1833 revelation—with a small volume of business being transacted “two or three months later.” At some point, according to Crary, the Kirtland Temperance Society purchased the distillery “under agreement that it should never again be used as a distillery.” (Crary, Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences, 24–25.)
- 8 Crary, Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences, 25.
- 9 See, for example, “Four Great Sources of Health,” Millennial Harbinger, 7 June 1830, 279–280; “Dietetic Maxims,” Millennial Harbinger, 5 Dec. 1831, 560–561; “Tobacco,” Millennial Harbinger, 7 June 1830, 281–283; “M’Allister’s Dissertation on Tobacco,” Journal of Health (Philadelphia), 14 July 1830, 329–331; Editorial, Journal of Health, 9 Dec. 1829, 97–100; and Paris, Treatise on Diet, 81–104; see also Bush, “Word of Wisdom,” 165–172.
- 10 Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833; Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 12 Feb. 1833. For examples of articles on temperance, see the recurring “Temperance Department” reports in the American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer for 1833.
- 11 Gilbert, Notebook, –; see Wilford Woodruff’s personal copy of the Book of Commandments at CHL. Lewis Abbott, who was living in Jackson County, Missouri, in 1833, also made a copy of the revelation, although it is unclear when he did so. (Revelation, 27 Feb. 1833, in Abbott Family Collection, CHL [D&C 89].)
- 12 Verily, Thus Saith the Lord unto You, Who Have Assembled Yourselves Together, [Kirtland, OH: ca. Jan. 1834], copy at BYU [D&C 88–89]; Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:43–44.
- 13 Minutes, 12 Feb. 1834; Minutes, 20 Feb. 1834; “The Minutes of the Conference in Maine,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Aug. 1834, 181; John F. Boynton, Bolton, NY, 31 Aug. 1834, Letter to the Editor, The Evening and the Morning Star, Sept. 1834, 191–192.
- 14 Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 227–229.
- 15 Johnson, Notebook, . Hyrum Smith made the same point nine years later in Nauvoo; in 1870, Brigham Young also identified the “hot drinks” mentioned in the revelation as tea and coffee. (“The Word of Wisdom,” Times and Seasons, 1 June 1842, 3:800; Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 30 Oct. 1870, 13:277.)
- 16 The earliest manuscript versions are the copy made by Oliver Cowdery in Revelation Book 1, pp. 167–168; the copy made by Frederick G. Williams in Revelation Book 2, pp. 49–51; the copy made by Sidney Gilbert in his Notebook of Revelations, – (featured here); Wilford Woodruff’s handwritten copy inscribed in his personal copy of the Book of Commandments, CHL; and the undated copy by Lewis Abbott in Abbott Family Collection, CHL. The possible exception is Gilbert’s copy, which has a long dash at the end of the opening statement (that is, after “can be called Saints”), separating it from the rest of the revelation.
- 17 In October 1883, Coltrin reported that those present in the School of the Prophets when JS first read the revelation “immediately threw their tobacco and pipes into the fire” and that while “those who gave up using tobacco eased off on licorice root, . . . there was no easing off on Tea and Coffee; these they had to give up straight.” Discussing the same topic a few months later in 1883, Coltrin reported that members of the school “all laid aside their pipes and use of tobacco” and that he had “never used it since.” Johnson, who was present when the revelation was first presented and who “had used Tobbacco smoke and chew 15 years and always used strong drink Tea and Coffe[e] . . . laid them all aside” after hearing the revelation. Tanner similarly “discarded the use of tea coffee and spirituous liquors” after hearing about the revelation in New York in late 1833 or early 1834. (School of the Prophets Salt Lake City Minutes, 3 and 11 Oct. 1883; School of the Prophets Saint George Records, 23 Dec. 1883; Johnson, Notebook, ; Tanner, Autobiography, .)
- 18 George A. Smith, Autobiography, 10.
- 19 William W. Phelps, Kirtland, OH, to Sally Waterman Phelps, 26 May 1835, William W. Phelps, Papers, BYU.
- 20 At least one non-Mormon physician of the time, Andrew Combe, who generally opposed drinking alcohol, acknowledged alcohol’s medicinal value. (Combe, Physiology of Digestion, 280, 285–286.)
- 21 George A. Smith, Autobiography, 31.
- 22 Woodruff, Journal, 4 Dec. 1836. The two exceptions Rigdon allowed were “wine at the Sacraments” and “external Washing.”
- 23 Oliver Cowdery, for example, justified his drinking tea three times a day during the winter of 1837–1838 on grounds that he was sick. Leaving Nauvoo, Illinois, in ill health in the fall of 1839, Brigham Young and others availed themselves of tea and “tonic bitters,” which church members had prepared for them because of their sickness. While it is unclear how closely JS intended Nauvoo city ordinances to correspond to his understanding of church standards, it may be significant that as a city councilman he voted for an ordinance prohibiting the sale of liquor “in a less quantity than a quart . . . excepting on the recommendation of a Physician duly accredited, in Writing.” (Minute Book 2, 26 Jan. 1838; Historian’s Office, Brigham Young History Drafts, 27; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 15 Feb. 1841, 8.)
- 24 Kirtland Camp, Journal, 13 Mar. 1838.
- 25 Kirtland Camp, Journal, 17 Mar. 1838. On at least two occasions, leaders of the Kirtland Camp reprimanded camp members for disobeying the Word of Wisdom. Two members of the camp, George W. Brooks and his wife, Eliza Ann Clayton Brooks, were expelled from the camp at least in part because of Eliza’s unwillingness to obey the Word of Wisdom. (Kirtland Camp, Journal, 16 Aug. 1838.)
- 26 Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, “Scenes in Nauvoo,” Woman’s Exponent, 15 July 1881, 10:26. According to Whitney, this event was “the commencement of their [the Mormons’] using tea and coffee; previous to this the Saints had been strict in keeping the Word of Wisdom.”
- 27 Taylor, “Martyrdom of Joseph Smith,” 47–48; Richards, Journal, 27 June 1844.
- 28 See, for example, Murdock, Autobiography, 34; see also Woodruff, Journal, 4 Dec. 1836.
- 29 “Sacrament,” in Oxford English Dictionary, 9:13.
- 30 See, for example, School of the Prophets Salt Lake City Minutes, 3 Oct. 1883; and JS, Journal, 14 and 20 Jan. 1836; 30 Mar. 1836.
- 31 During the Nauvoo period, other church leaders appear to have shared JS’s views on drinking these beverages. In a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve and high priests on 7 November 1841, Brigham Young stated that he would not be violating the Word of Wisdom if he went home and drank a cup of tea. All present, according to Wilford Woodruff, “concluded that it was wisdom to deal with all such matters according to the wisdom which God gave” and that a “forced abstainance” was akin to bondage. (Woodruff, Journal, 7 Nov. 1841.)
- 32 JS, Journal, 11 Mar. 1843; JS, Journal, 3 May 1843 and 1 June 1844.
- 33 Council of Fifty, “Record,” 3 May 1844.
- 34 At the time, the typical adult in the United States consumed over a pound of meat per day. (Rorabaugh, Alcoholic Republic, 113.)
- 35 “The Word of Wisdom,” Times and Seasons, 1 June 1842, 3:801. The fact that only Hyrum spoke on this aspect of the Word of Wisdom may make his statement an even greater outlier as he seems to have been uniquely zealous in preaching on the Word of Wisdom. Reflecting two decades later on Hyrum Smith’s preaching about the Word of Wisdom in 1842, the same time this article reporting Hyrum’s discourse had been published, Brigham Young intimated as much: “I have known him to talk an hour half to two hours on the Word of Wisdom I didn't see any particular utility in it.” (Brigham Young, Discourse, 8 Oct. 1866, in George D. Watt, Discourse Shorthand Notes, 8 Oct. 1866, Pitman Shorthand Transcriptions, CHL.)
- 36 Revelation, ca. Aug. 1830 [D&C 27:3–4].
- 37 Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:43]; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 353 [Alma 46:40]; Revelation, 7 Aug. 1831 [D&C 59:18, 20].
- 38 Revelation, 7 May 1831 [D&C 49:19, 21].
- 39 Old Testament Revision 1, p. 24 [Genesis 9:5]. JS revised Genesis 9:5 probably between 1 February and 7 March 1831. (Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 64.)
- 40 Minutes, 12 Feb. 1834.
- 41 Minutes, 20 Feb. 1834. A meeting of the Missouri high council and others passed a similar resolution some time later, stating that they would “not fellowship any ordained member who will or does not observe the word of Wisdom according to its litteral reading.” (Minute Book 2, p. 71, underlining in original.)
- 42 “To the Churches of Latter Day Saints,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Nov. 1836, 3:412.
- 43 See, for example, Record of Seventies, bk. A, 30 July 1837, 31–32; Kirtland Elders Quorum, “Record,” 29 Oct. 1837; and Minute Book 2, 26 Jan. 1838.
- 44 On 4 March 1834, for example, Charles Avery was disfellowshipped because “he wa[l]ked disorderly & made too free a use of strong drink.” Other examples include Jenkins Salisbury, who was excommunicated for “strong propensity to . . . drinking strong liquor” among other, possibly more serious, charges; Chester L. Heath and Milo Hays, who were excommunicated for breaking covenants and disobeying the Word of Wisdom; and Lyman Johnson, whose excommunication was based in part on disobedience to the Word of Wisdom. (Murdock, Journal, 4 Mar. 1834; Minute Book 1, 6–7 June 1835 and 16 May 1836; Minutes, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1835, 1:101–102; Minute Book 2, 13 Apr. 1838.)
- 45 Minutes, Times and Seasons, 1 July 1841, 2:464; “Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1841, 2:548.
- 46 “The Word of Wisdom,” Times and Seasons, 1 June 1842, 3:799.
- 47 “Help! Help!!,” Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, 1:58.
- 48 According to the rough draft notes of JS’s history, the men were ordained “with this express injunction, that they quit the use of tobacco and keep the Word of Wisdom.” (Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 10 Apr. 1843.)
- 49 “Elder’s Conference,” Times and Seasons, 1 Apr. 1843, 4:159; “Conference Minutes and Re-organization,” Times and Seasons, 1 Sept. 1843, 4:316.