In the latter half of 1835, was caught up in several disagreements involving the church’s top leadership. As one of the , Hyde had been active in the quorum’s mission to the eastern earlier in the year, during which he and were reprimanded for criticizing of the . Church leaders suspended the two from their apostolic duties pending reconciliation. The matter was resolved at a council meeting held in , Ohio, on 26 September 1835, when Hyde and McLellin “frankly confessed” that they were at fault and the council forgave and reinstated them. Another conflict arose several weeks later, however, after a 3 November revelation chastised the Twelve for inequality “in the division of the moneys which came into their hands.” Hyde, McLellin, and were singled out for an unspecified sin, and all of the Twelve were encouraged to “humble themselves.” Two days later, on 5 November 1835, Hyde and McLellin visited JS and “expressed some little dissatisfaction” with the revelation. JS’s journal notes that after the two apostles examined “their own hearts,” they acknowledged the revelation “to be the word of the Lord and said they were satisfied.”
Nevertheless, on 15 December 1835, wrote to JS with a litany of complaints. Specifically, Hyde accused , a member of the committee to build the in , of unfairly restricting credit to him at the while allowing to accumulate a large debt. Both Hyde and Smith were presumably expected to pay for anything they obtained from the committee store. However, , the store’s clerk, later listed William Smith among the building committee members. If Smith was a part of the building committee in some fashion, it is possible that the store handled his debts differently than it did others. In any case, Hyde was likely unaware of Smith’s position or any special financial arrangement he had with the store.
In his letter to JS, invoked the 3 November revelation to demonstrate that the inequality it condemned still continued among the Twelve. Drawing on the parable of the twelve sons that is found in the 3 November revelation, Hyde suggested that each of the Twelve had a right to be treated equally by the , particularly since they had all helped raise funds for the store—and for the completion of the —during their mission to the eastern . Hyde further noted that while on their mission, the Twelve had been dependent upon donations to support themselves and their families but that he had given the committee “$275 in cash,” thereby reducing himself to “nothing in a pecuniary point.” He encouraged JS to uphold the principles of impartiality and equality.
The same day he wrote the letter, handed it to JS, whose journal notes that the letter “laserated” JS’s feelings but did not weaken his conviction that he “had dealt in righteousness” with Hyde “in all things and endeavoured to promote his happiness and well being.” JS felt that Hyde’s reflections were “ungrateful and founded in jealousy and that the adversary is striving with all his subtle devises and influence to destroy him by causing a division amon[g] the twelve that God has chosen to open the gospel Kingdom in all the nations.” JS’s journal contains a prayer that Hyde would be “delivered from the power of the destroyer” so that he and all the apostles would be ready for the upcoming in the .
The next day, 16 December, JS went to a meeting at the to discuss ’s letter with the church’s presidency. Upon his arrival at the meeting, JS realized that he had lost Hyde’s letter, but he recounted what he could of it to those present. The council agreed to table the matter until 20 December as “they had not time to attend to it on the account of other buisness.” Before that occurred, Hyde visited JS on 17 December 1835 and presented him with a second copy of the letter. The two men conversed about Hyde’s objections until Hyde was appeased and agreed to attend the in Kirtland. JS forgave Hyde “with every expression of friendship that a gentleman, and a Christian could manifest” and attributed Hyde’s “ingratitude” to a lack of “correct information,” possibly referring to Hyde being uninformed of ’s association with the building committee. JS also acknowledged that had mistreated Hyde. With the matter “settled amicably,” JS and Hyde parted with mutual goodwill. JS later spoke with Cahoon about extending credit to the Twelve Apostles on equal terms.
The version of the letter presented here is the second copy of ’s letter, as copied into JS’s journal by , likely upon receipt on 17 December.
The committee store in Kirtland, Ohio, was run by the committee to build the House of the Lord, which consisted of Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter. Cahoon appears to have been the store manager. By June 1835, the three joined together as a mercantile firm under the name Cahoon, Carter & Co. The store appears to have been in operation by October 1835, and it likely served two functions: it supported the construction of the House of the Lord by purchasing goods on credit or from donations obtained by the Twelve and others and then making those goods available in exchange for labor or payment, and it offered its stock for sale to anyone else in the area to turn a profit. (Advertisement, Northern Times, 9 Oct. 1835, ; “Anniversary of the Church of Latter Day Saints,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1837, 3:488; JS, Journal, 7 Oct. 1835.)
Northern Times. Kirtland, OH. 1835–[1836?].
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Ames, Autobiography, . Though William Smith’s relationship with the building committee and its store is not known for certain, an 1838 legal document specifies that he was not a partner of the mercantile firm Cahoon, Carter & Co., the entity responsible for running the committee store. (William W. Spencer v. Reynolds Cahoon et al., 25 Jan. 1838, in Cowdery, Docket Book, 349.)
Ames, Ira. Autobiography and Journal, 1858. CHL. MS 6055.
Cowdery, Oliver. Docket Book, June–Sept. 1837. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.
Sir you may esteem it a novel circumstance to receive a written communication from me at this time.
My reasons for writing are the following. I have some things which I wish to communicate to you, and feeling a greater liberty to do it by writing alone by myself, I take this method; and it is generally the case that you are thronged with buisness and not convenient to spend much time in conversing upon subjects of the following nature. Therefore let these excuses paliate the novelty of the circumstance and patiently hear my recital.
After the committee had received their stock of fall and winter goods, I went to and told him that I was destitute of a cloak and wanted him to trust me until Spring for materials to make one. He told me that [p. 70]