JS, Memorial, to Nauvoo high council, , Hancock Co., IL, 18 June 1840; handwriting of ; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, docket, redaction, and archival marking.
Bifolium measuring 12¼ × 8 inches (31 × 20 cm). The document was trifolded in letter style. It was later refolded for filing and docketed. Some of the folds are weakened and partially separated. The top three lines of writing on the second leaf were cut off at some point; remnants of words remain on the surviving leaf, indicating that writing existed on at least a portion of the excised part.
After being considered by the on 20 June 1840, the document may have been returned to JS. A docket in the handwriting of , an employee in the Church Historian’s Office in the 1850s, indicates that the document remained in the church’s custody after the Saints moved to the Salt Lake Valley. The document was included in the Historian’s Office inventory circa 1904, and it was cataloged in the JS Collection in 1973 by Church Historical Department staff. The docket and later church records indicate continuous institutional custody.
“Letters to and from the Prophet,” ca. 1904, , Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL; Johnson, Register of the Joseph Smith Collection, 8; see also the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection in the CHL catalog.
Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL. CR 100 130.
Johnson, Jeffery O. Register of the Joseph Smith Collection in the Church Archives, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1973.
On 18 June 1840, JS composed a memorial addressed to the requesting he be relieved from his duties pertaining to the development of Nauvoo, Illinois. In spring and summer 1839, the bought land where the Saints could gather, but the purchases left JS and his counselors in the over $150,000 in debt. To obtain the money to pay off these debts, JS and church leaders focused on selling land to church members. In 1839 approximately one thousand acres were divided into town lots. The Nauvoo high council appointed to oversee the sale of lots and instructed him to bring matters to the attention of JS and when necessary. The high council also appointed JS as the treasurer of sales and as clerk for land contracts. However, Mulholland died in early November 1839, and JS apparently spent a considerable amount of time on land sales and related business thereafter.
Believing that these practical considerations took away from the time he could devote to spiritual matters, JS requested in this memorial that the high council assign as clerk over land sales, which would free up some of JS’s time. JS also asked that the high council appoint someone to ensure that his and his family’s monetary needs were met. , who served as JS’s scribe for the memorial, presented it to the high council on 20 June 1840. The high council also discussed the memorial on 27 June and 3 July 1840.
Two copies of the memorial exist. Both were apparently made around the same time and are in ’s handwriting. Some of the language in the two copies differs, suggesting that one may have been a draft for the other. The version featured here appears to be the finished copy, in part because it contains an address block to the high council. Significant differences between the two copies are noted in the annotation herein.
Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. 12-G, p. 247, 30 Apr. 1839, microfilm 954,195; Hancock Co., IL, Bonds and Mortgages, 1840–1904, vol. 1, pp. 31–32, 30 Apr. 1839, microfilm 954,776, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Agreement with George W. Robinson, 30 Apr. 1839; Lee Co., IA, Land Records, 1836–1961, Deeds (South, Keokuk), vol. 1, pp. 507–509, microfilm 959,238; vol. 2, pp. 3–6, 13–16, microfilm 959,239, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Cook, “Isaac Galland,” 270–275; Leonard, Nauvoo, 58; Bonds from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A and B.
Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 21 Oct. 1839, 25–26; “Obituary,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:32. JS was also responsible for ensuring that town plot rails—lengths of wood used in constructing fences—were apportioned properly and that anyone who took the rails without authorization either returned the rails or paid for them. Meanwhile, in March 1840, the Nauvoohigh council designated JS and his counselors in the First Presidency as the proper body “to Superintend the affairs of the Ferry” over the Mississippi River. (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 15 Mar. and 2 May 1840, 50, 58.)
Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Thompson made a third copy of the memorial, which closely follows the copy featured here, in JS Letterbook 2 sometime before he died in August 1841. (JS, Memorial, 18 June 1840, in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 148–149; “Death of Col. Robert B. Thompson,” Times and Seasons, 1 Sept. 1841, 2:519.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Your Memorialist would further represent that as is conversant with the affairs of the city plot, he thinks that he would be a suitable person to act as Clerk in that business and attend to the disposing of the remaining lots &c &c
Your Memorialist would take this oppertunity of congratulating your Honorable body on the peace and Harmony which exists in the and for the good feelings which Seem to be manifest by all the Saints— and hopes that inasmuch as every one devotes themselves for the good of the church and the spread of the Kingdom that the Choisest blessings of Heaven will be poured upon us, and that the Glory of the Lord will overshadow the of the Saints
This paragraph in the other Thompson copy reads: “Your Memorialist would take the liberty to reccommend that one of the Bishops of the Church be appointed to see that his wants be supplied, and that to attend to this business, and would also reccommend ElderH. G. Sherwood to act as Clerk in selling Lots making bonds writings &c as he is a person every way qualified for that office and is conversant with the affairs of the same.” (JS, Memorial,  June 1840, JS Collection, CHL.)
Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL. MS 155.