On Saturday, 16 January 1836, JS, , and met in , Ohio, with the , who had requested a conference to air their grievances to the ’s . , the clerk at the gathering, wrote that , the president of the Twelve, “arose and requested the privilege in behalf of his colleagues of speaking, each in his turn without being interrupted.” Marsh presented three issues that were particularly troubling the Twelve. First, notwithstanding earlier attempts to resolve the matter, they remained disturbed by a letter of reprimand that had been sent to them by church leaders while they were in proselytizing in August 1835. Second, despite normally being placed next to the presidency in voting at council meetings, they had voted after the of both and Kirtland at the grand council held the previous day. Finally, Marsh was doubly upset about the Kirtland high council’s recent trial of , who had been accused of “advancing heretical doctrines.” Marsh felt that had wronged the Twelve at the trial by speaking against them, and the fact that the trial had occurred at all, after Bishop had already been tried and disciplined by the Twelve, further incensed Marsh.
Despite confessions and expressions of forgiveness at a September 1835 meeting between the Twelve and the presidency, problems continued to surface, and JS had disagreements with individual members of the Twelve, including his brother . At the 16 January meeting, the church presidency granted each of the Twelve, starting with , the opportunity to be heard. JS’s journal notes that Marsh preferred charges against for making false accusations against the Twelve and for unchristian conduct. Marsh also singled out for using language “to one of the twelve that was unchristian and unbecoming [of] any man, and that they would not submit to such treatment.” After Marsh finished his remarks, each of the other apostles spoke.
After each member of the Twelve spoke, JS responded and gave the instruction found in the first-person voice in the minutes featured here. JS explained that the authority of the Twelve “is next to the present presidency,” and he renounced ’s “harsh language” and moved toward a reconciliation between the presidency and the Twelve. He sought forgiveness from the Twelve and informed them that he had “unlimited confidence” in them and their word. The Twelve accepted JS’s words and those of and ; all “the difficulties that were on their minds” were satisfactorily settled. Reflecting on this meeting, JS’s 17 January journal entry recounts that “some of our hearts were too big for utterance . . . and my soul was filled with the glory of God.” Six days later, the Twelve received their , preparatory to the and the anticipated of power in the in .
Oliver Cowdery was not present for the meeting, though he was in Kirtland on this date. He was evidently informed of the meeting’s discussion and outcome that evening when he met in the House of the Lord with JS and others. Cowdery’s diary notes that he “wrote a letter to my brother Warren on the subject of a difficulty which exists between him and the Twelve,” a subject that was addressed at the meeting. (Cowdery, Diary, 16 Jan. 1836.)
that was unchristian and unbecoming any man, and that they would not submit to such treatment
The remarks of all the 12 were made in a verry forcible and explicit manner yet cool and deliberate; Iarose
I observed that we had heard them patiently and in turn should expect to be heard patiently also; and first I remarked that it was necessary that the 12 should state whether they were determined to persevere in the work of the Lord, whether the are able to satisfy them or not; vote called and carried in the affirmative unaminously; I then said to them that I had not lost confidence in them, and that they had no reason to suspect my confidence, and that I would be willing to be weighed in the scale of truth today in this matter, and risk it in the day of judgment; and as it respects the chastning contained in the letter in question which I acknowledge might have been expressed in too harsh language; which was not intentional and I ask your forgiveness in as much as I have hurt your feelings; but nevertheless, the letter that that wrote back to while the twelve were at the east was harsh also and I was willing to set the one against the other; I next proceeded to explain the subject of the duty of the twelve; and their authority which is next to the present presidency, and that the arangement of the assembly in this place on the 15 inst in placing the of and next [to] the presidency was because the buisness to be transacted was buisness that related to that body in particular which was to [p. 122]
In a letter (no longer extant) to his wife, McLellin expressed his displeasure at the manner in which a school at Kirtland was being conducted. McLellin had formed his critical view of the school from a report by Orson Hyde, who had returned east from a recent visit to Kirtland. The charges against the Twelve were heard 26 September 1835, the day the Twelve returned to Kirtland, when Hyde and McLellin “frankly confessed” the impropriety of what they had said about “President Rigdon’s school” and “were forgiven.” (Minutes, 26 Sept. 1835.)
Esplin, Ronald K. “The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841.” PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1981. Also available as The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841, Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2006).