General Conference Minutes, and JS, Discourse, , Hancock Co., IL, 6–8 Apr. 1840. Featured version published in “Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, Apr. 1840, 91–95. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
From 6 to 8 April 1840, JS presided over a general of the held in the , Illinois, area. According to one newspaper account, between two and three thousand church members were present. The exact location of the conference is not given in the minutes, but it may have been held in a grove near ’s home in the southwest part of the peninsula. At the time of this conference, JS had been in Commerce for just over a month after returning from his trip to . The conference considered the results of that trip, especially the report of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary that directed the Saints to look to the state of and its courts for redress. Because the wrongs against the Saints in Missouri were not “committed by any of the officers of the , or under the authority of its Government in any manner whatever,” the committee concluded that the federal government was not authorized to intervene. Believing that they had already sought restitution in Missouri unsuccessfully, the Saints at the conference appointed a committee to draft a response to the Senate report. The resolutions adopted by the committee were then presented to the conference and ordered to be published.
The conference also appointed and , two members of the , to fulfill a mission to the Jews in , Europe, Constantinople, and . Hyde’s appointment came after he explained that the Spirit had instructed him to undertake a mission to the tribe of Judah. Hyde later stated that in March 1840 he saw a vision of , , Constantinople, and Jerusalem and was instructed by the Spirit that these cities were “the field of your labors.” Having obtained recommendations from the conference, Hyde and Page left on their mission a week later.
In addition to this business, the conference considered disciplinary cases of several church members—in fact, so many that ultimately the conference resolved to no longer consider such cases in general conferences. Outcomes of these cases included resolving long-standing charges against and accepting back into fellowship , a former counselor to JS in the who had been excommunicated in March 1839.
JS spoke at least three different times during the conference. He exhorted attendees to be charitable to those who had transgressed and reported on the church’s finances and his mission to . In what appears to be a longer discourse given on 8 April, he explicated a passage from the book of John and instructed the Saints on the necessity of church members gathering to the area, to , or to wherever the Spirit directed.
As clerk of the conference, took the minutes, the original of which are no longer extant. The minutes were published in the April 1840 issue of the Times and Seasons.
Franklin D. Richards noted in a July 1840 letter that a “meeting ground” existed in “the Grove just above Elder Rigdons.” A May 1840 newspaper account of the meeting stated that the conference was “held in a grove” and that it had “the appearance of a Methodist Camp Meeting, with their tents, &c. &c.” (Franklin D. Richards, Walnut Grove, IL, to Levi Richards, West Stockbridge, MA, 21 July 1840, CHL; “The Mormons,” North American and Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 30 May 1840, .)
Richards, Franklin D. Letter, Walnut Grove, IL, to Levi Richards, East Stockbridge, MA, 21 July 1840. CHL.
North American and Daily Advertiser. Philadelphia. 1839–1845.