53992351

Revelation, 27 February 1833 [D&C 89]

A Word of Wisdom
A word of wisdom for the benefit of the Saints in these last days2

Instead of “of the Saints in these last days,” the copy of this revelation in Revelation Book 2 reads, “of the council of high Priests assembled in Kirtland and Church.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 49 [D&C 89:1].)  


and also the Saints in Zion to be sent greeting, not by commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

View Glossary
or Constraint, but by Revelation & the word of wisdom3

Before its association with this revelation, the phrase “word of wisdom” was understood as one of the “spiritual gifts.” (1 Corinthians 12:8; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 586 [Moroni 10:9]; Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–A [D&C 46:17].)  


shewing forth the order & will of God in the temporal salvation of all Saints,4

The Revelation Book 2 copy includes “in the last days” here. (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:2].)  


given for a principle with promise, adapted to the Capacity of the weak & the weakest of all Saints who are or can be called Saints—
Behold verily thus Saith the Lord unto you in consequence of evils & designs which will exist5

Instead of “which will exist,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “which do and will exist.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:4].)  


in the hearts of conspiring men in these6

Instead of “these,” the Revelation Book 2 copy has “the.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:4].)  


last days, I have warned you & forewarned7

Instead of “forewarned,” the Revelation Book 2 copy has “forewarn.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:4].)  


you by giving unto you this word of wisdom by Revelation, that inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or Strong drink8

“Strong drink” probably refers to distilled drinks like whiskey and rum, which had an average alcohol content of forty-five percent. Wine and other fermented drinks like hard cider and beer had significantly lower alcohol content, ranging from about five percent for beer to around eighteen percent for wine. (Rorabaugh, Alcoholic Republic, 7, 9.)  


among you behold it is not good, neither mete in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves in your Sacraments9

Instead of “in your Sacraments,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “together to offer up your sacrament.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:5].)  


before him, & behold this should be wine of your own make10

Instead of “wine of your own make,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “wine yea pure wine of the grape of the vine of your own make.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:6].)  


& again Strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies,11

Distilled drinks like whiskey were used topically to treat wounds and other injuries at the time. The extent to which they were used as a body wash is less clear, though JS and others washed themselves with whiskey on at least one occasion in January 1836 in order to “be clean before the Lord for the Sabbath.” Oliver Cowdery recorded that they confessed their sins and covenanted to be faithful as they washed and that their “minds were filled with many reflections upon the propriety of the same, and how the priests anciently used to wash always before ministering before the Lord.” (Whitney, Family Physician, 419, 421–422; Cowdery, Diary, 16 Jan. 1836.)  


& Tobacco is not for man12

Instead of “& Tobacco is not for man,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “and again Tobacco is not for the body neither for the belly and is not good for man.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:8].)  


but is for bruises13

Instead of “but is for bruises,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “but is an herb for bruises.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:8].)  


& all sick cattle to be used with judgement & skill.14

In addition to being smoked, chewed, and used in snuff, tobacco had been used for centuries as a cure and preventative for scores of diseases, injuries, and conditions. Its use to treat bruises, for instance, dates back to at least 1633. By 1833, however, a growing number of physicians, educators, and clergy were questioning its medicinal use and effectiveness, and by 1860, most physicians had eliminated it from their pharmacopeia. Tobacco was also used extensively to treat a variety of maladies in cattle, sheep, swine, and horses. Users were cautioned to use it carefully, however, as its effects could be lethal, even in topical application. (Stewart, “History of the Medicinal Use of Tobacco,” 240, 244–247; Richardson, New-England Farrier and Family Physician, 37, 53, 254, 281, 307, 321; Clater, Every Man His Own Cattle Doctor, 193, 277, 342.)  


And again hot drinks are not for the body or belly,15

The Revelation Book 2 copy includes “and again verily I say unto you” here. Several other early nineteenth-century authors argued that any liquid taken at a high temperature could cause injury. (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:10]; Bush, “Word of Wisdom,” 170–171.)  


all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution & nature16

Instead of “constitution & nature,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “constitution nature.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:10].)  


& use of man,17

At the time, herb could refer to “all the grasses, and numerous plants used for culinary purposes.” (“Herb,” in American Dictionary.)  


every herb in the season thereof & every fruit in the season thereof, all these to be [p. [113]]
A Word of Wisdom1

TEXT: “Word of Wisdom” is double underlined. This phrase or title does not appear in the copy of this revelation made in Revelation Book 2, which begins with the phrase “A Revelation for the benefit of the saints &c.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 49 [D&C 89:1].)  


A word of wisdom for the benefit of the  Saints in these last days2

Instead of “of the Saints in these last days,” the copy of this revelation in Revelation Book 2 reads, “of the council of high Priests assembled in Kirtland and Church.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 49 [D&C 89:1].)  


and also the Saints in  Zion to be sent greeting, not by commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

View Glossary
or  Constraint, but by Revelation & the word of wisdom3

Before its association with this revelation, the phrase “word of wisdom” was understood as one of the “spiritual gifts.” (1 Corinthians 12:8; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 586 [Moroni 10:9]; Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–A [D&C 46:17].)  


 shewing forth the order & will of God in the  temporal salvation of all Saints,4

The Revelation Book 2 copy includes “in the last days” here. (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:2].)  


given for a  principle with promise, adapted to the Capa city of the weak & the weakest of all Saints  who are or can be called Saints—
Behold verily thus Saith the Lord unto you  in consequence of evils & designs which will  exist5

Instead of “which will exist,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “which do and will exist.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:4].)  


in the hearts of conspiring men in  these6

Instead of “these,” the Revelation Book 2 copy has “the.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:4].)  


last days, I have warned you & forewarned7

Instead of “forewarned,” the Revelation Book 2 copy has “forewarn.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:4].)  


 you by giving unto you this word of wisdom  by Revelation, that inasmuch as any man  drinketh wine or Strong drink8

“Strong drink” probably refers to distilled drinks like whiskey and rum, which had an average alcohol content of forty-five percent. Wine and other fermented drinks like hard cider and beer had significantly lower alcohol content, ranging from about five percent for beer to around eighteen percent for wine. (Rorabaugh, Alcoholic Republic, 7, 9.)  


among you  behold it is not good, neither mete in the  sight of your Father, only in assembling your[s]elves  in your Sacraments9

Instead of “in your Sacraments,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “together to offer up your sacrament.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:5].)  


before him, & behold this  should be wine of your own make10

Instead of “wine of your own make,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “wine yea pure wine of the grape of the vine of your own make.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:6].)  


& again  Strong drinks are not for the belly, but for  the washing of your bodies,11

Distilled drinks like whiskey were used topically to treat wounds and other injuries at the time. The extent to which they were used as a body wash is less clear, though JS and others washed themselves with whiskey on at least one occasion in January 1836 in order to “be clean before the Lord for the Sabbath.” Oliver Cowdery recorded that they confessed their sins and covenanted to be faithful as they washed and that their “minds were filled with many reflections upon the propriety of the same, and how the priests anciently used to wash always before ministering before the Lord.” (Whitney, Family Physician, 419, 421–422; Cowdery, Diary, 16 Jan. 1836.)  


& Tobacco is  not for man12

Instead of “& Tobacco is not for man,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “and again Tobacco is not for the body neither for the belly and is not good for man.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:8].)  


but is for bruises13

Instead of “but is for bruises,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “but is an herb for bruises.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:8].)  


& all sick  cattle to be used with judgement & skill.14

In addition to being smoked, chewed, and used in snuff, tobacco had been used for centuries as a cure and preventative for scores of diseases, injuries, and conditions. Its use to treat bruises, for instance, dates back to at least 1633. By 1833, however, a growing number of physicians, educators, and clergy were questioning its medicinal use and effectiveness, and by 1860, most physicians had eliminated it from their pharmacopeia. Tobacco was also used extensively to treat a variety of maladies in cattle, sheep, swine, and horses. Users were cautioned to use it carefully, however, as its effects could be lethal, even in topical application. (Stewart, “History of the Medicinal Use of Tobacco,” 240, 244–247; Richardson, New-England Farrier and Family Physician, 37, 53, 254, 281, 307, 321; Clater, Every Man His Own Cattle Doctor, 193, 277, 342.)  


And again hot drinks are not for the body or  belly,15

The Revelation Book 2 copy includes “and again verily I say unto you” here. Several other early nineteenth-century authors argued that any liquid taken at a high temperature could cause injury. (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:10]; Bush, “Word of Wisdom,” 170–171.)  


all wholesome herbs God hath ordained  for the constitution & nature16

Instead of “constitution & nature,” the Revelation Book 2 copy reads, “constitution nature.” (Revelation Book 2, p. 50 [D&C 89:10].)  


& use of man,17

At the time, herb could refer to “all the grasses, and numerous plants used for culinary purposes.” (“Herb,” in American Dictionary.)  


 every herb in the season thereof & every fruit  in the season thereof, all these to be [p. [113]]
Next
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 the School of the Prophets

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...

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. According to Brigham Young

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...

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, heavy tobacco use—in the form of both smoking and chewing—among members of the school, combined with Emma 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 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...

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with this particular practice.”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.)  


This 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 Newel K. Whitney

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...

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’s store

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....

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. Zebedee 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...

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, 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.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.)  


Joel Johnson

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...

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added that the revelation was given in the evening.3

Johnson, Notebook, [1].  


At 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,4

By 1830, the annual consumption of distilled liquor alone in the United States was over five gallons per capita. (Rorabaugh, Alcoholic Republic, 8.)  


and 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 United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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.5

Peterson, “Word of Wisdom,” 7–8; see also “Temperance,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 22 Nov. 1832, [2]. 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.)  


In Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio, the Kirtland Temperance Society, whose founding constitution boasted 239 signatories, held its first annual meeting on 6 October 1830, shortly before Mormon missionaries arrived in the area from 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,...

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.6

Crary, Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences, 25.  


The society continued for five years, during which time a distillery at Kirtland and two in Mentor

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...

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, Ohio, evidently closed for want of patronage.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.)  


According 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.8

Crary, Pioneer and Personal Reminiscences, 25.  


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.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.  


In January and February 1833, JS himself was subscribing to the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer, an evangelical weekly that regularly published articles on temperance.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.  


The contents of this revelation appear to have been available to many church members within months after its recording. Sidney Gilbert

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...

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made a private copy probably sometime in the summer of 1833 in 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...

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, while Wilford Woodruff

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...

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copied 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.11

Gilbert, Notebook, [113]–[115]; 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].)  


It was also printed as a broadsheet around January 1834 in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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.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.  


Charges against church members in Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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and Pennsylvania

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...

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for 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 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,...

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and Maine

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...

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were referencing the revelation by summer 1834.13

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.  


Eber D. Howe

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...

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published the revelation in his book Mormonism Unvailed in 1834.14

Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 227–229.  


Among the members of 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...

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there was apparently some question as to what the revelation meant by “hot drinks,” prompting JS and 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...

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, according to one reminiscent account, to explicitly identify coffee and tea at a meeting in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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in July 1833 as the “hot drinks” prohibited by the revelation.15

Johnson, Notebook, [1]. 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.)  


Similarly, 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 Howe

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...

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’s Mormonism Unvailed.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, [113]–[115] (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.  


In the 1835 edition of the 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 commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

View Glossary
.
In any event, the degree to which church members felt obligated to follow the revelation’s instructions varied. Some, like Zebedee 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...

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, Joel Johnson

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...

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, and John Tanner

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...

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, chose to abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol almost immediately;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, [1]; Tanner, Autobiography, [1].)  


others, like JS’s wife Emma, who offered weary travelers tea and coffee upon their arrival in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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in May 1833, apparently felt that using at least some of the items listed in the revelation was acceptable under some circumstances.18

George A. Smith, Autobiography, 10.  


A May 1835 letter from William W. Phelps

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,...

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to his wife, Sally Waterman Phelps

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; ...

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—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.19

William W. Phelps, Kirtland, OH, to Sally Waterman Phelps, 26 May 1835, William W. Phelps, Papers, BYU.  


Many church members, for instance, apparently felt that it was acceptable for tea or alcohol to be taken medicinally.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.)  


Emma may have offered tea and coffee to new arrivals with this idea in mind; JS’s administering whiskey in June 1834 to George A. Smith

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...

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, who was suffering from cholera, almost certainly reflected such an interpretation.21

George A. Smith, Autobiography, 31.  


In spite of JS’s acquiescence with this practice, not everyone agreed with it. On 4 December 1836, for example, at the instigation of Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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, a meeting of church members in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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voted unanimously to “discountenance the use intirely of all liquors from the Church in Sickness & in health.”22

Woodruff, Journal, 4 Dec. 1836. The two exceptions Rigdon allowed were “wine at the Sacraments” and “external Washing.”  


Over the ensuing years, nevertheless, various church members, including JS, continued to allow for the use of these drinks in cases of sickness.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.)  


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 from Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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in spring 1838, for example, the seventies

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...

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drew 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.”24

Kirtland Camp, Journal, 13 Mar. 1838.  


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...

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, however, speaking a few days later, advised those leaving Kirtland “not to be too particular in regard to the word of wisdom,” though subsequent events suggest his counsel was largely ignored.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.)  


Following the collective trauma of the forced exodus from 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...

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in winter 1838–1839, the prohibitions of the Word of Wisdom generally received less emphasis than they had earlier. Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, in a reminiscent account, reported that JS told church members suffering from malaria in early Nauvoo

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...

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to “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.”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.”  


Perhaps the best illustration of a more relaxed position regarding the Word of Wisdom in times of stress is John Taylor

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...

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’s account of events leading to JS’s death at Carthage

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...

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, 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.27

Taylor, “Martyrdom of Joseph Smith,” 47–48; Richards, Journal, 27 June 1844.  


In 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.28

See, for example, Murdock, Autobiography, 34; see also Woodruff, Journal, 4 Dec. 1836.  


This same provision, coupled with the understanding that a sacrament was something “having a sacred character or function,”29

“Sacrament,” in Oxford English Dictionary, 9:13.  


probably 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 Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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temple

JS revelation, dated Jan. 1831, directed Latter-day Saints to migrate to Ohio, where they would “be endowed with power from on high.” In Dec. 1832, JS revelation directed Saints to “establish . . . an house of God.” JS revelation, dated 1 June 1833, chastened...

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, and at weddings.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.  


By the Nauvoo

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...

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era, 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.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.)  


JS’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 [Frederick Moeser

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...

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’s].”32

JS, Journal, 11 Mar. 1843; JS, Journal, 3 May 1843 and 1 June 1844.  


Only 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 his U.S.

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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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,” 3 May 1844.  


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.34

At the time, the typical adult in the United States consumed over a pound of meat per day. (Rorabaugh, Alcoholic Republic, 113.)  


The same is true of more official records and statements. In a noteworthy exception, 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...

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, in an 1842 discourse on the Word of Wisdom, urged the Saints in Nauvoo

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...

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to “attend to” the revelation’s instructions regarding the use of meat and to be “sparing of the life of animals.”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.)  


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.”36

Revelation, ca. Aug. 1830 [D&C 27:3–4].  


Another 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.”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].  


Still another 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.”38

Revelation, 7 May 1831 [D&C 49:19, 21].  


This warning against wasting resources and food, especially meat, echoed JS’s 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

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.)  


The revelation makes no mention of an official penalty for disobeying its counsel, an issue that first presented itself to Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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leaders on 12 February 1834, when a “Bro Rich”—probably Leonard Rich

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...

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—was “called in question for transgressing the word of wisdom.” A conference

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...

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of church leaders and other men 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...

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to the 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...

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forgave Rich “upon his promiseing to do better and reform his life.”40 The issue arose again eight days later—this time before the newly organized Kirtland high council

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...

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—following a meeting that had been held in Pennsylvania

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...

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in 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.”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.)  


The council’s decision was eventually published in the Messenger and Advocate42

“To the Churches of Latter Day Saints,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Nov. 1836, 3:412.  


and appears to have been the basis for several policies and judgments made in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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and 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...

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.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.  


Records 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.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.)  


Similarly, 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.45

Minutes, Times and Seasons, 1 July 1841, 2:464; “Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1841, 2:548.  


At the same time, however, records from the Nauvoo

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...

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period also indicate willingness on the part of church leaders and others to deal gently with those who were not obeying the revelation in the strictest sense and to give them time and reasons for reformation. Fearful that many church members were “following their old traditions,” for example, 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...

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promised health, vigor, strength, and wisdom to those who kept the Word of Wisdom.46

“The Word of Wisdom,” Times and Seasons, 1 June 1842, 3:799.  


An 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.”47

“Help! Help!!,” Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, 1:58.  


Though disobedience to the Word of Wisdom was occasionally grounds for losing one’s office during the Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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years, twenty-two men who apparently struggled to keep all of its provisions were ordained elders on 10 April 1843.48

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.)  


Missionaries, similarly, were promised blessings if they kept the Word of Wisdom rather than being threatened with losing their licenses

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...

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if they did not.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.  


The copy of the revelation featured here is the private copy made by Sidney Gilbert

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...

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. 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 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...

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in Revelation Book 2 in Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, which was probably the earliest copy made in an official church record. All other early versions of this revelation closely follow the wording of Revelation Book 2.

Facts