Appendix 6: Council of Fifty, Minutes, 18 January 1846
, “Lieut. Genl. Brigham Young’s Journal,” Journal, 28 Sept. 1844–3 Feb. 1846; 124 pages; Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878, CHL. Includes use marks and archival marking. Excerpt, 18 Jan. 1846, pp. 102–103; handwriting of . Pages measure 5¾ × 3⅝ inches (15 × 9 cm).
Before adjourning the 13 January 1846 meeting of the Council of Fifty—the last meeting recorded in the record books—the council scheduled two further meetings: the council would convene again on 18 January, and on 19 January the council would meet with the captains of companies for the forthcoming emigration from Nauvoo. While the 13 January minutes suggest that the 18 January meeting would include only members of the council, the council convened on 18 January along with the “Commandants” of the companies, which may mean just the captains of hundreds rather than also the captains of fifties; of the anticipated twenty-five companies of hundreds, sixteen were led by members of the Council of Fifty. They met in the attic story of the Nauvoo to arrange for the company captains to determine how many were “ready— & willing to start at a moment warning” if required. The captains reported their findings to the council the next day.
The record of this council meeting, as featured below, was included in ’s journal, then being kept by , who was also a clerk of the Presidents of the Seventy and had just been appointed by Young to help keep the records. In his brief retrospective personal journal entry for the week of 18 January, Lee noted that his “servises were confined to record keeping through the week.” Textual clues suggest that in inscribing this 18 January entry in Young’s journal he was copying from another source, possibly the official minutes kept by . For instance, there are at least three transcription errors where Lee repeated words, suggesting he may have been copying. In addition, Lee quoted Young as granting “Power of Eternity” rather than “Power of Attorney”—likely a homophonic error implying that the textual source for this entry was written as Young was speaking. It is also possible that Lee’s record of this 18 January meeting was based on loose minutes that he took at the council that are not extant. This entry is significantly longer than most other entries in Young’s journal for this period and contains more information about a meeting of the Council of Fifty than any other entry in any of Young’s journals. Indeed, the entire entry is dedicated to the proceedings of the Council of Fifty.
In January 1846 noted in his own journal that because of his pressing work on the records he did not have “time to Journalize” and that many of his entries were written a week or more after the fact. Textual clues suggest that a similar delay surrounded the creation of this entry. On 11 January the council nominated five men to remain in to act as trustees for the church. On 18 January, according to this entry, announced these appointments to the company captains but replaced , one of the nominees, with . However, according to another entry in Young’s journal, this change was not made until a public meeting to sustain the trustees on 24 January, when proposed to Young that Backenstos be replaced. Because this later change is reflected in this 18 January account of this meeting, it is likely this account was copied or created after 24 January 1846.
Twenty-five companies were anticipated, each of which would have at least one captain of hundred, two captains of fifty, and ten captains of ten. (“Captains of Companies,” Circular, to the Whole Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [Nauvoo, IL: Oct. 1845], copy at CHL.)
Circular, to the Whole Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. [Nauvoo, IL]: Oct. 1845. Copy at CHL.
Record of Seventies, bk. B, 23 Jan. 1847; Lee, Journal, 13 Jan. 1846, 79.
Record of Seventies / First Council of the Seventy. “General Record of the Seventies Book B. Commencing Nauvoo 1844,” 1844–1848. Bk. B. In First Council of the Seventy, Records, 1837–1885. CHL. CR 3 51, box 2, fd. 1.
A possible relationship to Clayton’s minutes is suggested by some of the language of the entry. For example, in this journal entry, Lee stated that the meeting took place “in the atic story of the Temple,” a phrase that appears in Clayton’s official minutes of the 11 and 13 January meetings of the Council of Fifty. In contrast, Lee consistently used the phrase “in the atic story of the Lord’s House” in his personal journal when describing these meetings. (Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 and 13 Jan. 1846; see also, for example, Lee, Journal, 11 and 13 Jan. 1846, 77, 79, italics added.)
On at least some occasions, there appears to be a relationship between an entry in Lee’s personal journal and the minutes he recorded for a church organization on the same day. This may suggest that Lee followed the same procedure for this journal entry regarding the Council of Fifty.
Other entries in Young’s journal during this time period do not typically contain detailed reports of meetings of the Council of Fifty or other organizations. Aside from this entry, the only exception in Young’s journal for this period is for 24 January 1846, which contains a report of Young’s remarks at a meeting of the general membership of the church. (Young, Journal, 24 Jan. 1846.)
18 Sunday Jan. 18th. 1846 at 10 morng a meeting of the Commandants of Co[mpanies] that were appointed— to— lead companies West— assembled— in the atic story of the — this meeting calld the the better to assertain— the number that are ready— & willing to start at a moment warning— warning should neccessity require it at our hands.—— as I well know that evil is intending towards us— & that our safety alone will depend on our safe elopement— from this place— before our enemies should intercept & prevent our escape in order to effect this we shall— have to use Policy & econemy— that we &. by the help of Almighty God may be delivered from this untoward generation—— General interest was manifested by the whole council &—— every man— felt willing— to yield to the circumstances that surrounded us— & do what ever was considered best— for the common Interest of all.— we, are willing Say they to be used. & to let our property also be [p. 102]