Appendix 2: Council of Fifty, Minutes, 27 February 1845
Council of Fifty, Minutes, , IL, 27 Feb. 1845; handwriting of ; six pages; Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 1839–1877, CHL. Includes redactions. Three loose leaves, measuring 5⅞ × 8 inches (15 × 20 cm); 7¼ × 7¾ inches (18 × 20 cm); and 6½ × 8 inches (17 × 20 cm), respectively. Bullock’s docket on page 6 reads: “Feb 27. 1845 | Meeting of the Twelve & others | in the Recorder’s office”.
On 27 February 1845 the council convened to discuss the group of Mormons that had followed west from and into . A member of Emmett’s company, Moses Smith, had recently returned to Nauvoo bearing information about the company, and recorded that “the Twelve & others, mostly of the Council repaird to my office” with him. Since council clerk was ill, , a church clerk who was not a member of the council, recorded the minutes featured here. Because these minutes were kept separately, they were never copied into the Council of Fifty record books kept by Clayton, nor does it appear that Clayton used these minutes when providing a summary of the meeting in the record books. For the historical context in which these minutes were recorded, see the entry for 27 February 1845 in the main body of this volume.
Richards, Journal, 27 Feb. 1845. In his journal Heber C. Kimball erroneously dated this meeting to 28 February but recorded, “Held a council at Elder Richards on the case of Emit and Smith.” (Kimball, Journal, 28 Feb. 1845.)
Kimball, Heber C. Journals, 1837–1848. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL.
from that Council— if he goes & forms himself a Kingdom— it will be stript from him hereafter they will be stript of ehich [each?], and every thing else, I know it by the Sp[irit] of the H[oly] Ghost— there is no man or woman can be saved upon any o[the]r. principle— for what we dont save in this probation we must save them in an[othe]r. & Law. & & o[the]rs. will never get out of hell until J. Smith unlocks it for them, has severed himself from us, & whatever this Council seals, blesses, or curses on Earth will be sealed, blessed, or cursed in heaven— we are to become the Saviors of men as much as J[esus] C[hrist] was— sd. he wod. not bear the frowns of the Gentiles any longer, & our lives will be sacrificed for this people— either as worn out, or martyrs— chastised him at my house— we had a meet[in]g. at s & refused to submit to the Council— is the head on this Earth, he is not a hard master, I have been with him too long— if you dont abide Council you will go to hell, & after all you will have to get the 12 to help you out— we are like balls of clay now— & are on the Wheel in the hands of the Potters, who have to fashion us to suit the mansions in the skies— if there is enough of me, I shall be made fit for any use— These men can make vessels of you, & fit you for God— there are some who say that the 12 are hard task masters but the day will come when it will be found out— this Council does not justify — or , all working against us— they are sealing women to one another & running into adultry— we can shew that most of ’s followers enter into the Spiritual Wife doctrine—
— I had an interview on monday with Br Smith—
Smith said all my statements are now carried out— I talked with & found the most stubborn disposition of any man in the world— I was disgusted with him— he was every thing— I was witness to Br. Joseph & others reproving him— it is all this secret inst[ruct]ion that is trying to cut our throats— I would just as soon he [p. 3]
Latter-day Saint scripture refers to mortal life as a “state of probation” or “days of probation.” (See, for example, Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 37–38, 65, 445 [1 Nephi 15:31–32; 2 Nephi 2:21; Helaman 13:38]; and Revelation, Sept. 1830–A [D&C 29:43].)
This statement may refer to beliefs related to Latter-day Saint temple ordinances. Referring to Obadiah 1:21, JS taught that the Saints were “to become Saviors on Mount Zion” by performing temple ordinances for their deceased ancestors, which would bind generations together. In January 1845 Brigham Young likewise spoke of “the Saviors of the Earth” while speaking of families being “connected together.” (Woodruff, Journal, 21 Jan. 1844; Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 8 Jan. 1845.)
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.
Historian’s Office. General Church Minutes, 1839–1877. CHL
See Isaiah 29:16; and Jeremiah 18:6. Kimball, a potter, frequently used this image. (Kimball, Heber C. Kimball, 10–11; Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 309; Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 8 Mar. 1843.)
Kimball, Stanley B. Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981.
Whitney, Orson F. Life of Heber C. Kimball, an Apostle: The Father and Founder of the British Mission. Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888.
The term “spiritual wifery” was generally a derogatory one employed first by John C. Bennett in his attacks against JS and his followers in 1842 and renewed by William Law and others in 1844 in their denunciations of the secret practice of plural marriage in Nauvoo. Following JS’s death, the term was also employed by Sidney Rigdon and other individuals who disclaimed Brigham Young’s leadership by attacking the practice of plural marriage. Church leaders also used the term to describe what they saw as unauthorized plural marriages or extramarital sexual relations as practiced by men like Bennett. In a May 1845 proclamation published for the eastern branches he presided over, Parley P. Pratt made a distinction between authorized plural marriages performed by proper priesthood authority and a “spiritual wife” doctrine such as Bennett and others practiced, which allowed for sexual relations between men and “spiritual wives” but were not actual marriages. Of spiritual wives, Pratt wrote that there was not “any such doctrine known, held, or practised, as a principle of the Latter Day Saints. If a man has a wife according to the law of God and the regulations of the church, she is his real wife, body, soul, spirit, heart, and hand, and not his ‘Spiritual Wife.’” Similarly, the husband in such a relationship is “her real husband; to provide for his wife and children, and to be their head and father, and bring them up in the fear, and love, and truth of God, as did Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of old.” Pratt also affirmed that “sealings, and covenants, to secure the union of parents, children and companions in the world to come, or in the resurection” are “true doctrine.”
Pratt further alleged that Rigdon was teaching a “spiritual wife” system despite his public statements to the contrary and warned his readers to beware of the “doctrines of devils, as first introduced by John C. Bennet, under the name of the ‘Spiritual Wife’ doctrine; and still agitated by the Pittsburg Seer [Rigdon], and his followers under the same title.” In October 1844 Orson Hyde had similarly insinuated that Rigdon and his followers were the cause of “spiritual wife” troubles in Nauvoo. No strictly contemporary sources corroborate the statements that Rigdon was teaching or practicing a form of spiritual wifery. Still, later accusations were made against Rigdon along these lines by former followers or competing religionists. One follower of James Strang alleged in 1846 that Rigdon had taught a “system of wifery . . . or free or common intercou[r]s with women.” In 1858 Harvey Whitlock, a former follower of Rigdon, reportedly explained to a group of people in Provo, Utah, that he had disassociated himself with Rigdon because of “the general arrangement for the temporary swapping wives,” a practice of which he claimed to have “certain knowledge.” (“Further Mormon Developments!! 2d Letter from Gen. Bennett,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 15 July 1842, ; “Preamble,” and “The Mormons,” Nauvoo [IL] Expositor, 7 June 1844, –, ; [Sidney Rigdon], Editorial, Latter Day Saint’s Messenger and Advocate [Pittsburgh], 15 Oct. 1844, 15–16; Parley P. Pratt, “This Number Closes the First Volume of the ‘Prophet,’” Prophet, 24 May 1845, , emphasis in original; Peter Hess, Philadelphia, PA, to James J. Strang, Voree, Wisconsin Territory, 14 Dec. 1846, James Jesse Strang Collection, 1835–1920, Western Americana Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Historical Department, Journal History of the Church, 18 Apr. 1859.)
Sangamo Journal. Springfield, IL. 1831–1847.
Nauvoo Expositor. Nauvoo, IL. 1844.
Latter Day Saint’s Messenger and Advocate. Pittsburgh, PA. 15 Oct. 1844–Sept 1846.
The Prophet. New York City, NY. May 1844–Dec. 1845.
Strang, James Jesse. Collection, 1835–1920. Western Americana Collection. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
Historical Department. Journal History of the Church, 1896–. CHL. CR 100 137.