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.)
use for the purpose of acomplishing this wise & deep preconcertd elopement— for the safety of this people the subject having been delibratd & the members presant— having— freeed their minds to some considerable extent— I made the following selections that were to tarry & act— as a commity [committee]— to dispose— of our property & effects— & aid such in emigrating— as shall have to go & give them a Power of Eternity [attorney]— to act— for— us— & represent us— also to to complete the — & —— the Names of this commity were— — — & —— I then dismised the council— with instructions to learn the exact amount of cash & such article as will be requiset— for our tour— in contemplation— The No. of men who can leave their families comfortable & go— with us & look out a location for the church to come—— also the No of Horses waggons Mules & so on—— [p. 103]
On 11 January, Young proposed that council members Babbitt, Heywood, Fullmer, and Bernhisel, as well as non-Mormon Jacob B. Backenstos, remain in Nauvoo to finish work on the temple and the Nauvoo House and to act as “agents or a committee to transact business for and in behalf of this council.” It is unclear why Backenstos was dropped from this proposed group. At a public church meeting on 24 January, the men chosen by the council were sustained by a vote of the congregation, with the exception of Backenstos. According to Young’s journal, during the meeting Babbitt suggested to Young that Backenstos be dropped from the committee; church member Henry W. Miller was appointed to take Backenstos’s place. During this 24 January meeting Young explained that these five men were to serve as agents for George Miller or Newel K. Whitney—the two trustees-in-trust for the church—in their absence in order that “the work of the Lord may continue here—that is the finishing of the Temple & Nauvoo House—& the disposing of Property & fitting of the Saints—& sending them on after us.” Specifically, Babbitt, Heywood, and Fullmer were to act as trustees for the temple while Henry Miller and Bernhisel were to serve as trustees for the Nauvoo House. Immediately following the 24 January meeting, George Miller and Whitney signed a certificate announcing their resignation as trustees-in-trust and certifying that Babbitt, Heywood, and Fullmer had been “duly elected” by a meeting of the church to replace them. (Council of Fifty, “Record,” 11 Jan. 1846; Young, Journal, 24 Jan. 1846; George Miller and Newel K. Whitney, Certificate of Election, 24 Jan. 1846, Hancock Co., IL, Bonds and Mortgages, 1840–1904, vol. 2, p. 144, microfilm 954,776, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)