53991754

License for Frederick G. Williams, 25 February 1834

On 24 February 1834, JS dictated a revelation appointing Frederick G. Williams

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
to accompany Hyrum Smith

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 Bio
on a mission to recruit men and raise funds for the Camp of Israel

A group of approximately 205 men and about 20 women and children led by JS to Missouri, May–July 1834, to redeem Zion by helping the Saints who had been driven from Jackson County, Missouri, regain their lands; later referred to as “Zion’s Camp.” A 24 February...

View Glossary
expedition to Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

More Info
. The license

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 Glossary
featured here was issued to Frederick G. Williams the following day.1

Revelation, 24 Feb. 1834 [D&C 103:39].  


No minutes from the 25 February 1834 meeting in which the license was issued have been located.
While the document identifies itself as a “letter of commendation,” documents with similar language were later issued and recognized as official licenses.2

A document employing essentially the same language as this one, for example, was issued to Daniel Kent on 20 September 1836. On the back of Kent’s license was an endorsement made by clerk Thomas Burdick. (Elder’s Certificate for Daniel Kent, 20 Sept. 1836, CHL.)  


The church’s founding “Articles and Covenants” required that deacons

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. The “Articles and Covenants” directed deacons to assist teachers in their duties. Deacons were also to “warn, expound, exhort, and teach and invite all to come unto Christ.” Although deacons did not have the authority...

View Glossary
, teachers

Generally, one who instructs, but also an ecclesiastical and priesthood office. The Book of Mormon explained that teachers were to be ordained “to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end...

View Glossary
, priests

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. In the Book of Mormon, priests were described as those who baptized, administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church,” and taught “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” A June 1829 revelation directed...

View Glossary
, and elders

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 Glossary
have licenses to perform their priesthood

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 Glossary
duties.3 The language used in Williams

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
’s license reflects language used in the Articles and Covenants regarding licenses.4

Just as the Articles and Covenants noted that a license authorized a teacher or priest “to perform the duty of his calling,” this document certified that Williams had been ordained an elder and was “duly authorized to preach the gospel, and act in all [th]e ordinances of the house of the Lord, agreeably to the authority of that office.” (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:64].)  


Williams

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
had been issued a similar license on 20 March 1833, shortly after being ordained

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 Glossary
“to the Presidency of the High priesthood

Both the office of the president of the high priesthood and the body comprising the president and his counselors; the presiding body of the church. In November 1831, a revelation directed the appointment of a president of the high priesthood. The individual...

View Glossary
.”5 While that license was issued to certify Williams’s ordination and his authority “to preside over the affairs of the Church,” this elder’s license certified Williams’s authority “to preach the gospel, and act in all [th]e ordinances of the house of the Lord”—a probable reference to the various duties that pertained specifically to the office of elder,6 to which Williams had been ordained in November 1830. Williams had been ordained a high priest

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. Christ and many ancient prophets, including Abraham, were described as being high priests. The Book of Mormon used the term high priest to denote one appointed to lead the church. However, the Book of Mormon also discussed...

View Glossary
in October 1831 but continued to have “authority to officiate in all the lesser offices” of the priesthood when necessary, provided, evidently, that he was properly licensed to do so.7

Minutes, 25–26 Oct. 1831; Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–A, in Doctrine and Covenants 22:2, 1835 ed. [D&C 68:19]. A spring 1835 JS revelation explained that the office of elder was one of the “lesser offices” in which a high priest was authorized to act. (Instruction on Priesthood, ca. Apr. 1835, in Doctrine and Covenants 3:5–8, 1835 ed. [D&C 107:10–12, 17].)  


This license is a printed form, with the name of the individual, the date, and the names of the clerk and moderator filled out by hand. It is one of the earliest printed licenses known to have been issued in the Church of Christ

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 Glossary
; previously, licenses were handwritten. In comparison to earlier licenses, this printed form is longer but incorporates much of the same language.8

Facts