Account of Meeting and Discourse, 5 January 1841, as Reported by William P. McIntire
Account of Meeting and JS, Discourse, [, Hancock Co., IL, 5 Jan. 1841]. Featured version copied [ca. Jan. 1841] in William P. McIntire, Notebook, pp. –; handwriting of ; CHL.
, Notebook, ca. 1841–1845; handwriting of ; thirty-six pages; CHL.
Small gathering of pages sewn together with black thread. The volume lacks a hard cover and consists of a single, eclectic gathering of thirty-eight pages of differing sizes and colors. Two of the pages are blank. The first and last pages are approximately one centimeter shorter than the majority of the pages, which measure 6¼ × 4 inches (16 × 10 cm). Several of the pages show wear from age, including tears on the edges and stains. The pages were inscribed in black ink, with occasional entries in graphite. An unknown scribe, possibly someone in the Church Historian’s Office, made additional entries in red ink in 1878.
According to his autobiography, arrived in on 22 October 1840. During winter 1840–1841, McIntire heard JS “give much in struction to the Saints on Doctrine & principle” and “made a short Record” of JS’s remarks. This volume constitutes McIntire’s record of the sermons JS gave during that period. In addition to recording JS’s sermons, McIntire’s notes from 1841 include comments by several other early church leaders, including . Halfway through the notebook, McIntire recorded notes for discourses given in 1844 and 1845. These include sermons by JS, , , , and others.
possessed the notebook throughout the period and likely retained it during the early Utah period. The notebook came into the possession of the Church Historian’s Office at an unknown time. It has remained in church custody since then.
McIntire, William Patterson. Autobiography. In William Patterson McIntire, Daybook, 1840–1856, pp. 57–67. BYU.
On 5 January 1841, JS spoke at the organization of a “school of instruction” at his in , Illinois. The school was probably a lyceum that met weekly at various locations throughout the city to discuss secular and sacred topics. Lyceums were popular organizations among nineteenth-century Americans, and a group of had formed one several years earlier in , Ohio. As ’s account of this meeting demonstrates, the lyceum format usually involved two or three presentations followed by debate among those in attendance. In his discourse at the meeting, JS focused on the principle that matter is eternal, arguing that the earth was created through a reorganization of preexisting elements. He also discussed the eternal nature of spirits, advancement toward salvation, and the spiritual progression of God and Jesus Christ.
Two early accounts of JS’s teachings on this occasion, recorded by and , are featured here. Though McIntire appears to have kept his record contemporaneously, he seems to have mistakenly dated the meeting as 8 January 1840, almost a year before he moved to . Clayton’s account appears to date the meeting correctly as 5 January 1841. Further evidence that the meeting occurred on Tuesday, 5 January, comes from McIntire’s notebook. This record includes accounts of the lyceum’s subsequent weekly meetings, suggesting that the next two meetings were held on 12 and 19 January 1841—both Tuesdays. Clayton’s original notes of this meeting are not extant, so it is unknown when he created his account. Apparently in 1880, L. John Nuttall filled the opening pages of a notebook with what he titled “Extracts from William Clayton’s Private Book.” The “extracts” were reports of various JS teachings, arranged both chronologically and topically, and included the account of this 5 January lyceum meeting, which was presented under the topic “Keys.”
While ’s and ’s accounts of JS’s discourse and comments during the meeting parallel each other in some respects, they diverge in significant ways. McIntire’s version, for instance, contains JS’s thoughts on phrenology, which are not found in Clayton’s. The account by Clayton, in turn, provides a physical description of the apostle Paul that was not included by McIntire. One of the topics discussed or questions asked—whether the was taken from the earth with Moses—was recorded only by Clayton. McIntire’s record more clearly illustrates the interactive debate format, with questions, answers, responses, and comments. By contrast, Clayton’s account reads more like a discourse because it includes only JS’s statements during the meeting. However, this lack of detail may be a reflection of Nuttall’s selection from Clayton’s record rather than an indication that Clayton’s original notes skipped over elements of the meeting.
JS, Journal, 18 Nov. 1835. The format described by McIntire—three speakers addressing various topics—fits the lyceum model. Women were typically included in lyceum meetings, but it is unclear if women participated in the Nauvoo lyceum at this time. (Ray, Lyceum and Public Culture in the Nineteenth-Century United States, 22–26, 36; Wright, Cosmopolitan Lyceum, chap. 2.)
Ray, Angela G. The Lyceum and Public Culture in the Nineteenth-Century United States. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2005.
Wright, Tom F. The Cosmopolitan Lyceum: Lecture Culture and the Globe in Nineteenth-Century America. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013.
Both men arrived in the area only a few months before January 1841. McIntire moved to Nauvoo at the end of October 1840, and Clayton at the end of November. (McIntire, Autobiography, ; Clayton, Diary, 24 Nov. 1840.)
McIntire, William Patterson, Daybook and Autobiography, 1840. BYU.
a short minute of the subjects & the most promonent matter as brought fourth from those subjects at Joseph’s office Jan.— 8th. [5th] 1840 
subject first.— Discused by ; also this preciple [principle] practized by man; the blessings & results of the same he said the pri[n]ciple would bind the H[e]arts of man togather & give them confidence in each other & as John says thy word is truth; so he says if we keep his word— we shall all be actuated by the same principle & be as one man; & as angels are obedient to the same word we shall have Concorse to them & also to all the Heavenly throng; Joseph said to that to be free <from> the Coruption of the Earth that man [p. ]