Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846; Volume 2, 1 March–6 May 1845

Page [327]
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15 April 1845 • Tuesday

Editorial Note
On 15 April 1845 the council convened around 1:00 p.m. in the upper room of the for an afternoon session. Following the addition of to the council, called for the report of the committee that had been appointed to “assist in ra[i]sing means for the Western mission.” reported that the committee would be able to procure the needed supplies in time for the missionaries’ intended departure two days later.
The council then discussed how to respond to legal threats against church leaders. Three days earlier, marshal Peter Van Bergen arrived in “with a writ or summons” for more than a dozen Latter-day Saints, including , relating to allegations of unpaid debts incurred many years earlier when they lived in , Ohio. Van Bergen spent two days searching Nauvoo for individuals named in the writ, but Young and others remained in hiding. Either the night of 13 April or the next morning, Young and the other men “suffered the officer to serve the writs on them, not fearing any trouble.” They may have been acting on the advice of friendly non-Mormon , who had sent an impassioned letter to church leaders on the evening of 13 April, decrying opposition to the officer and warning that “any resistance to the laws will turn public opinion against you & in favor of those who stand ready to cut your throats, & destroy you.” The Mormons’ decision to allow Van Bergen to serve the writs may also have resulted from a belief that the writs had no force because the debt had earlier been satisfied and because the statute of limitations had run. Federal law established the statute of limitations “for any penalty or forfeiture, pecuniary or otherwise” at five years. Regardless, the event raised fears that the church’s enemies could use the law to expose Young and other church leaders to mob violence, as had happened the year before with JS and . The Nauvoo Neighbor warned, “Writs to coop men up in jail, and then shoot them, whether they came from Uncle Sam, or his disgraced son, , and whether for debt or crime; should be looked upon by the people of Nauvoo, as a stratagem similar to Virgil’s wooden horse, at the siege of Troy.” At the 15 April meeting, the council debated ’s suggestion that a committee be appointed “to examine all writs which may come into Nauvoo to be served on the brethren.” ended the debate—during which several council members expressed opposition to the proposal—by nominating “‘ignorance’ to be that committee,” a suggestion that carried unanimously.
The council then read a letter from governor , dated 8 April 1845, that and other apostles had discussed two days earlier in a meeting of their quorum. Ford’s letter responded to a 31 March letter from Young seeking advice regarding the Latter-day Saints’ plans to divide into multiple precincts and towns, the status of the Nauvoo Legion, and “‘the Great We[s]tern Measure’ or the Emegration of the Saints to some point remote from the States.” This final topic connected this letter to the council’s broader letter-writing campaign to state governors. In his response Ford endorsed the Saints’ plans to organize Nauvoo into several towns under the state’s general corporation statute until a new charter could be obtained that explicitly recognized their right to defend themselves if attacked. Ford not only expressed strong support for the Saints’ planned move west, he goaded them: had JS lived, he would have “begun to move in the matter before this time.” The minutes record little discussion related to Ford’s letter, though the council established a committee to examine the status of the Nauvoo Legion. The lack of discussion suggests that the apostles had already addressed the key issues raised by Ford’s letter in their earlier meeting.
During the remainder of the meeting, the council considered a variety of topics, including a letter regarding the repeal of the charter from congressman and the future location of the . While the council had discussed the status of the Association extensively in March and early April 1845, the council decided at this meeting that future matters regarding the Nauvoo House “be left to the council and direction of the Twelve.” After the meeting adjourned briefly reconvened the council to announce that wanted to accompany on his mission to the Delaware, Tindall’s adopted tribe, to which the council granted their assent.

Tuesday April 15th. 1845 Council met pursuant to adjournment, in the upper room of the and organized with Prest. in the chair:—
Present , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , [,] , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , [,] , , , and clerk.—— [p. [327]]
15 April 1845 • Tuesday

Editorial Note
On 15 April 1845 the council convened around 1:00 p.m. in the upper room of the for an afternoon session. Following the addition of to the council, called for the report of the committee that had been appointed to “assist in ra[i]sing means for the Western mission.” reported that the committee would be able to procure the needed supplies in time for the missionaries’ intended departure two days later.
The council then discussed how to respond to legal threats against church leaders. Three days earlier, marshal Peter Van Bergen arrived in “with a writ or summons” for more than a dozen Latter-day Saints, including , relating to allegations of unpaid debts incurred many years earlier when they lived in , Ohio. Van Bergen spent two days searching Nauvoo for individuals named in the writ, but Young and others remained in hiding. Either the night of 13 April or the next morning, Young and the other men “suffered the officer to serve the writs on them, not fearing any trouble.” They may have been acting on the advice of friendly non-Mormon , who had sent an impassioned letter to church leaders on the evening of 13 April, decrying opposition to the officer and warning that “any resistance to the laws will turn public opinion against you & in favor of those who stand ready to cut your throats, & destroy you.” The Mormons’ decision to allow Van Bergen to serve the writs may also have resulted from a belief that the writs had no force because the debt had earlier been satisfied and because the statute of limitations had run. Federal law established the statute of limitations “for any penalty or forfeiture, pecuniary or otherwise” at five years. Regardless, the event raised fears that the church’s enemies could use the law to expose Young and other church leaders to mob violence, as had happened the year before with JS and . The Nauvoo Neighbor warned, “Writs to coop men up in jail, and then shoot them, whether they came from Uncle Sam, or his disgraced son, , and whether for debt or crime; should be looked upon by the people of Nauvoo, as a stratagem similar to Virgil’s wooden horse, at the siege of Troy.” At the 15 April meeting, the council debated ’s suggestion that a committee be appointed “to examine all writs which may come into Nauvoo to be served on the brethren.” ended the debate—during which several council members expressed opposition to the proposal—by nominating “‘ignorance’ to be that committee,” a suggestion that carried unanimously.
The council then read a letter from governor , dated 8 April 1845, that and other apostles had discussed two days earlier in a meeting of their quorum. Ford’s letter responded to a 31 March letter from Young seeking advice regarding the Latter-day Saints’ plans to divide into multiple precincts and towns, the status of the Nauvoo Legion, and “‘the Great We[s]tern Measure’ or the Emegration of the Saints to some point remote from the States.” This final topic connected this letter to the council’s broader letter-writing campaign to state governors. In his response Ford endorsed the Saints’ plans to organize Nauvoo into several towns under the state’s general corporation statute until a new charter could be obtained that explicitly recognized their right to defend themselves if attacked. Ford not only expressed strong support for the Saints’ planned move west, he goaded them: had JS lived, he would have “begun to move in the matter before this time.” The minutes record little discussion related to Ford’s letter, though the council established a committee to examine the status of the Nauvoo Legion. The lack of discussion suggests that the apostles had already addressed the key issues raised by Ford’s letter in their earlier meeting.
During the remainder of the meeting, the council considered a variety of topics, including a letter regarding the repeal of the charter from congressman and the future location of the . While the council had discussed the status of the Association extensively in March and early April 1845, the council decided at this meeting that future matters regarding the Nauvoo House “be left to the council and direction of the Twelve.” After the meeting adjourned briefly reconvened the council to announce that wanted to accompany on his mission to the Delaware, Tindall’s adopted tribe, to which the council granted their assent.

Tuesday April 15th. 1845 Council met pursuant to adjournment, in the upper room of the and organized with Prest. in the chair:—
Present , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and clerk.—— [p. [327]]
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