On 18 March 1845 the council met in two sessions at the , with the morning session convening at 10:00. After a one-hour adjournment, the afternoon session began at 2:00. The minutes do not record the length of the afternoon session, but and wrote in their journals that the council meetings lasted “all day.” , who had recently returned from his assignment to deliver letters from the council to and his company, was admitted as a member.
began the meeting by calling for committee reports. , chair of the committee that had been charged with outfitting the western expedition, explained that he had no report since some of the committee members had been absent. then spoke for the committee charged with gathering information on the geography of the West. Rather than offering a report, Phelps stated that “the substance of the matters they had been able to collect” would be published in that day’s edition of the Nauvoo Neighbor. The materials Phelps published included newspaper descriptions of and the annual report of the chief topographical engineer of the summarizing ’s recent western expedition. The council’s discussion indicates that committee members had reviewed additional newspaper articles, travelers’ accounts of , and other sources not included in the Nauvoo Neighbor. Council members then discussed possible destinations for a Mormon migration, with particular focus on Upper California and Oregon. Young clarified that he hoped to find a place of safety “not far distant” where the Mormons could stay for a year or two before moving west to California. In support of Young’s proposition, asked to sing “The Upper California,” a song that Taylor had apparently composed during the meeting. Following these discussions, the committee to gather information on western geography was discharged.
During the afternoon session, council members discussed the implications of the legislature’s repeal of the charter on their ability to perform marriages and administer local law enforcement. , who was assigned at the previous meeting to examine marriage statutes, gave a report, but the council did not make any decision. The council then accepted a proposal by to create a legally authorized police force of constables by dividing the city into multiple precincts. The council also instructed to manufacture “fifteen shooters and Bowie Knives” for the defense of the Saints.
The possible reappointment of to the council and the importance of resuming work on the also occupied the council during the afternoon. Adams had been dropped from the council in February because of accusations of misconduct while on a mission to the eastern . He had recently returned to and had been tried before the high council on 15 March 1845, where he confessed and asked for forgiveness. The council gave the power to do as he saw fit regarding Adams’s membership in the council, though the general feeling was that they should wait to see whether Adams’s repentance was sincere. Adams was excommunicated from the church three weeks later and never rejoined the council. At the close of the meeting, reported on the disorganized state of the Nauvoo House Association’s financial records, and the council voted to have Miller proceed with calling a meeting of the shareholders and organizing the records.
Toward the close of this meeting clarified some of the details regarding the Western Mission. Referring to earlier proposals to send representatives “to all the different tribes,” Dunham stated that such measures would be unnecessary because he had received intelligence that a “grand council of the principal men among all the tribes” would convene in June. “We calculate to be there and meet with them,” Dunham reported. He was almost certainly referring to a pan-Indian council to be convened by the Creek Nation in May 1845 in response to violent altercations with both the Pawnee and the Comanche. By early March 1845 the federal Indian agent for the Creek Nation reported that the Creek were arranging “an assemblage of deputations from all the Indian Tribes on this frontier as well as those of the wandering tribes of the distant Prairies to meet in Council on the Deep Fork on the first of May next, with a view of settling all difficulties that may exist between them respectively, and to discuss such matters as may tend to advance peaceable and amicable relations.” The meeting was to be held at the council ground in Creek territory, near the junction of the Deep Fork and North Canadian rivers. According to Tuckabatchemicco, a member of the Creek Nation, the purpose of this council was that “some plan may be fallen upon for the preservation of peace” among the various tribes and “to cleanse the path which has lately been stained with blood.” It is not clear how much Dunham knew about the council or why he thought it would take place in June. For example, although the Indian council was to be hosted by the Creek Nation, much of the discussion and planning in the Council of Fifty for the Western Mission focused on the Cherokee. At the next Council of Fifty meeting, Dunham even referred to the grand Indian council as “the Cherokee council”—a misconception that apparently was not corrected until the missionaries arrived at Fort Gibson in Cherokee territory in May 1845.
Tuesday March 18th. 1845 Council met pursuant to adjournment and organized at 10 o clock A.M. in chair Present , , , , , , [,] , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , & .
The council was opened with prayer by , after which the invited to take his seat in the centre of the council, and called upon [p. ]
Pierce M. Butler, “Notes Taken at the ‘Grand Council’ in the Creek Nation,” 12–16 May 1845, in William Armstrong, “Choctaw Agency,” to T. Hartley Crawford, Washington DC, 8 June 1845, in U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, reel 923; “The Indian Council,” Cherokee Advocate [Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation], 22 May 1845, .
U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824–81. National Archives Microfilm Publications, microcopy M234. 962 reels. Washington DC: National Archives, 1959.
“Tuck-a-batche Micco’s Talk,” Cherokee Advocate [Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation], 19 June 1845, . The purpose of this Creek council may have resonated with council members; a year earlier JS stated that the purpose of James Emmett’s mission to the American Indians, or Lamanites, was to “instruct them to unite together and cease their enmity towards each other.” (Council of Fifty, “Record,” 21 Mar. 1844; see also 31 May 1844 entry.)