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Revelation, 8 March 1833 [D&C 90]

Marking a significant development in the church’s chief governing body, this revelation announced that the counselors in 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...

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were equal with JS “in holding the keys

Authority or knowledge of God given to humankind. In the earliest records, the term keys primarily referred to JS’s authority to unlock the “mysteries of the kingdom.” Early revelations declared that both JS and Oliver Cowdery held the keys to bring forth...

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of this Last Kingdom.” The presidency of the high priesthood had its beginnings sixteen months earlier, on 11 November 1831, when a revelation established the office of the president of the high priesthood. That revelation called the office of the high priesthood “the greatest of all” and said that “it must needs be that one be appointed of the high Priest hood

The authority and power held by certain officers in the church. The Book of Mormon referred to the high priesthood as God’s “holy order, which was after the order of his Son,” and indicated that Melchizedek, a biblical figure, was a high priest “after this...

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to preside over the Priest hood & he shall be called President of the high Priest hood of the Church” and have the duty to “preside over the whole church.”1

Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 107:64–65, 91].  


At a church 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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in Amherst

Located in northeastern Ohio on southern shore of Lake Erie. Area settled, ca. 1810. County organized, 1824. Formed from Black River Township, Dec. 1829. Population in 1830 about 600. Population in 1840 about 1,200. Parley P. Pratt settled in township, Dec...

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, Ohio, held on 25 January 1832, JS was 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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as president of the high priesthood by 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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.2

Three months later, on 26 April 1832, a conference of high priests in Jackson County, Missouri, also acknowledged him as president. (Minutes, 26–27 Apr. 1832.)  


The 11 November 1831 revelation also gave the president authority to appoint twelve counselors to form a disciplinary court, introducing the idea that a body of counselors was to support the president.3

Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 107:78–80].  


Precedent for forming a leadership body of three people came earlier in 1831 when Edward Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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was designated as the church’s first bishop

An ecclesiastical and priesthood office. JS appointed Edward Partridge as the first bishop in February 1831. Following this appointment, Partridge functioned as the local leader of the church in Missouri. Later revelations described a bishop’s duties as receiving...

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with “two 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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” appointed to assist him in attending to the temporal and spiritual concerns of the church.4 On 8 March 1832, JS chose and ordained Jesse Gause

Ca. 1784–ca. Sept. 1836. Schoolteacher. Born at East Marlborough, Chester Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Gause (Goss) and Mary Beverly. Joined Society of Friends (Quakers), 1806. Moved to Fayette Co., Pennsylvania, 1808; to Chester Co., 1811; and to Wilmington...

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and 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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to assist him as “councillers of the ministry of the presidency of th[e] high Pristhood.”5 A revelation dictated around the same time affirmed that the president of the high priesthood had “authority to preside with the assistence of his councellers over all the Concerns of the church.”6 On 15 March 1832, JS dictated another revelation that elevated the counselors to positions of authority, second only to JS, in managing the affairs of the church. It formally called Gause “to be a high Priest in my church and councellor unto my servant Joseph,” explained the duties of the counselors, and affirmed that “the keys of the Kingdom” belong “always to the prisidency of the high Priesthood.”7

Revelation, 15 Mar. 1832 [D&C 81:1–2].  


Gause was excommunicated from 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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on 3 December 1832, and a month later, on 5 January 1833, 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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was called to replace Gause in serving as “Councillor & scribe unto my servant Joseph.”8

JS, Journal, 3 Dec. 1832; Revelation, 5 Jan. 1833. Likely because of his excommunication, Gause’s name was struck through in the version of the 15 March 1832 revelation written in Revelation Book 2 and Williams’s name was inserted in its place. Williams’s name, not Gause’s, appears in the earliest published version of the 15 March 1832 revelation. (Revelation, 15 Mar. 1832; Revelation, 15 Mar. 1832, in Doctrine and Covenants 79:1, 1835 ed. [D&C 81:1]; see also Woodford, “Jesse Gause,” 362–364.)  


Williams probably assumed his new role immediately; he was identified as a counselor in the presidency of the high priesthood in the minutes of a conference held on 22 January 1833, though he was not ordained to this position until 18 March 1833.9

Minutes, 18 Mar. 1833. The minutes of the 22 January conference offer the earliest firm dating of Williams serving as a counselor to JS in the presidency of the high priesthood. Williams also identified himself as “assistant scribe and councellor” when he recorded three revelations in Revelation Book 2. Though these revelations were dictated on 6 December 1832, 27–28 December 1832, and 3 January 1833, respectively, they were probably not recorded by Williams until sometime later. (Minutes, 22–23 Jan. 1833; Revelation Book 2, pp. 32, 46, 48; see also License for Frederick G. Williams, 20 Mar. 1833.)  


The structure of the presidency remained unchanged until December 1834.10

On 5 December 1834, JS, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams ordained Oliver Cowdery “to the office of assistant President of the High and Holy Priesthood in the Church of Latter-Day Saints.” (JS History, 1834–1836, 17; see also JS, Journal, 5 Dec. 1834.)  


Before the revelation featured here was dictated, JS was assisted by his counselors as he had been previously by Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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, who had been called in 1830 to support JS as “second elder.”11

See Revelation, 6 Apr. 1830 [D&C 21]; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:3]; and JS History, vol. A-1, 18.  


The minutes of a conference of high priests that assembled on 22 January 1833 likewise indicated a hierarchy in the presidency, with JS as “President,” 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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as “cheif scribe and high counceler,” and 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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as “assistant scribe and counceler.”12 The following revelation, however, directed that JS’s counselors, Rigdon and Williams, be made “equal” with the president in holding the keys

Authority or knowledge of God given to humankind. In the earliest records, the term keys primarily referred to JS’s authority to unlock the “mysteries of the kingdom.” Early revelations declared that both JS and Oliver Cowdery held the keys to bring forth...

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of the kingdom. It likewise authorized the three men to labor together to “set in order all the affairs of this Church and kingdom.” Though JS retained presiding authority, the governing body of the church now had three presidents. Following this revelation, the members of the presidency of the high priesthood signed some letters and official documents with their names in the order of JS, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams and with the associated title of “Presidents of the High Priesthood.”13 By 1835 this presidency was also known as the “first presidency” of the church.14

Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–A, in “Revelations,” Evening and Morning Star, Oct. 1832 (June 1835), 73 [D&C 68:15].  


In addition to giving instructions regarding the presidency of the high priesthood, this revelation expressed displeasure with some church members 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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. JS’s interactions with Missouri leaders in spring 1832, his series of letters with 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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and 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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from June 1832 to January 1833, and a revelation dated 22 and 23 September 1832 emphasized that Missouri church leaders needed to repent of ongoing disputes and perceived backbiting against JS.15

Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832; Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 Nov. 1832; Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833; Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:76]. Because of Missouri leaders’ “dark” insinuations and accusations that JS was seeking after “Monarchal” or “Kingly power,” Sidney Rigdon and other church leaders in Kirtland accused leaders in Missouri of rebellion. (Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 14 Jan. 1833.)  


These interactions and documents likewise reveal a continuing discord between the leaders of the church 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, and those in Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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, Missouri. Some Missouri leaders believed that if JS would move to Independence, his presence would help alleviate many of the misunderstandings and hard feelings that had existed for months between church officials in the two locations. On 14 January 1833, Orson Hyde

8 Jan. 1805–28 Nov. 1878. Laborer, clerk, storekeeper, teacher, editor, businessman, lawyer, judge. Born at Oxford, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Nathan Hyde and Sally Thorpe. Moved to Derby, New Haven Co., 1812. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, ...

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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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penned a letter on behalf of a conference of high priests and elders held in Kirtland to inform the Missouri Saints in a united voice “that Br J. will not settle in Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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until she repent and purify herself & abide by the new covenant, and remember the commandments

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...

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which have been given her, to do them as well as say them.”16

JS received separate letters from Sidney Gilbert and William W. Phelps in December 1832 that prompted him to respond in a letter to Phelps on 11 January 1833. JS wrote, “Our hearts are greatly greaved at the spirit which is breathed both in your letter & that of Bro G—s [Sidney Gilbert] the wery spirit which is wasting the strength of Zion like a pestalence,” and exhorted them to repent. Two days after JS wrote to Phelps, a conference of high priests and elders assembled in Kirtland to address the upheaval in Missouri. Fulfilling a commandment given in September 1832 to exhort Missouri members to repent for their rebellion against JS, the conference assigned Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith to compose a letter to church leaders in Missouri to curtail the perceived spirit of rebellion. (Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833; Minutes, 13–14 Jan. 1833; Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:76]; see also Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 14 Jan. 1833.)  


The revelation featured here reiterated displeasure with specific Missouri leaders for unrepentant behavior. It also clarified that JS would be called to preside over the church in Independence in the Lord’s “own due time.”
This revelation also directed members of the presidency of the high priesthood to set their houses in order, gave instructions concerning the residences of Joseph Smith Sr.

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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and 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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, and emphasized the need to continue the ongoing translation of the Old Testament. It also directed the relocation of Vienna Jaques

10 June 1787–7 Feb. 1884. Laundress, nurse. Born in Beverly, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Daughter of Henry Jaques and Lucinda Hughes. Lived in Boston, 1827–1830. Baptized into LDS church by E. Harris, 12 July 1831. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, 1833....

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—a church member who had recently consecrated

The dedicating of money, lands, goods, or one’s own life for sacred purposes. Both the New Testament and Book of Mormon referred to some groups having “all things common” economically; the Book of Mormon also referred to individuals who consecrated or dedicated...

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a significant amount of money to the church—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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to Jackson County

Settled at Fort Osage, 1808. County created, 16 Feb. 1825; organized 1826. Named after U.S. president Andrew Jackson. Featured fertile lands along Missouri River and was Santa Fe Trail departure point, which attracted immigrants to area. Area of county reduced...

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, Missouri.17

Shortly before this revelation was dictated, Jaques arrived in Kirtland, having traveled from Boston. (George Hamlin, “In Memoriam,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Mar. 1884, 12:152; see also Letter to Vienna Jaques, 4 Sept. 1833.)  


How or when church members in Kirtland or 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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learned of this revelation is unknown, as no extant contemporary sources mention it.

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