Resolutions, , Geauga Co., OH, ca. 23 Aug. 1834. Featured version copied [not before 25 Feb. 1836] in Minute Book 1, pp. 55–58; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Minute Book 1.
At a council held on 23 August 1834, this document, which clears JS of any charges of wrongdoing on the expedition to , was approved and ordered to be printed in The Evening and the Morning Star. Although the document is designated as the “conference minutes” of the council, it provides an account of only part of the proceedings; the actual minutes of the council are recorded as a separate entry in Minute Book 1. This document instead includes a preamble, three resolutions, and two statements showing support of JS and his conduct while leading the Camp of Israel.
On 11 August 1834, a council investigated ’s charges that JS was guilty of “criminal conduct” while on the expedition. The council then assigned a committee, consisting of , , and , to prepare “an article” stating “that the church in , [Ohio,] ha[d] investigated the conduct of brother Joseph Smith Junr. while journeying to the West and returning” and that it found JS had “acted in every respect in an honorable and proper Manner.” Sometime after the 11 August council, the committee prepared these three resolutions and a preamble to them and then presented them to the 23 August council for approval. In addition to ordering the resolutions to be published in the Star, the council directed that they be sent as a circular to the churches abroad, meaning those congregations of the church not in the vicinity of Kirtland.
Along with the preamble and the three resolutions, this document contains a brief mention of the council’s approval of these resolutions. Perhaps to assuage concerns of church members outside of who had learned of ’s accusations, the document also includes a statement from fifteen individuals indicating that they were present during the investigation of JS’s conduct and were satisfied with the outcome. The document notes that some of these men were from while others were from eastern states. No reasons are given for the selection of these specific men, and none of them appear to have accompanied JS on the Camp of Israel expedition. Although many of the fifteen had moved to Kirtland prior to August 1834, the inclusion of their towns of origin may have been a way of showing the diversity of their backgrounds while also giving the statement added credibility in the eyes of church members not living in Kirtland. Immediately after this statement is another statement by and , both Camp of Israel participants, declaring that the resolutions correctly portray JS’s conduct on the expedition. It is not clear whether these two statements were prepared before, during, or after the council.
At some point, entered the preamble, resolutions, and two statements into Minute Book 1. As directed by the council, a more polished version was published in the August 1834 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star under the title “Conference Minutes.” The effects of the publication of these resolutions are uncertain, but they may have mitigated whatever damage ’s charges had done. In the December 1834 issue of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, reports of the status of churches in the eastern show general prosperity of those branches, without noting any lingering difficulties as a result of ’s accusations.
“Conference Minutes,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Aug. 1834, 182. Although Cowdery created the copy in Minute Book 1 after the document was published, he did not copy directly from the published version, as indicated by minor textual differences identified herein. He may have been copying directly from the draft that the committee submitted to the council. In any case, the textual differences indicate that the document was reworked slightly before publication.
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
minutes of the assembled in August 23d 1834. After the usual form the conference and was opened by prayer, when the following preamble and resolutions were read and ordered to be printed in the evening and the morning star and sent as a circular to the churches abroad.
Whereas a report having come to the knowledge of the church in this place, censuring the conduct of brother Joseph Smith Junr. relative to his Proceedings, during his late Journey to, and from : and whereas said report was calculated to create an unfavorable influence, as regards the moral character and honesty of our brother, it becomes necessary for us to investigate the matter and report the same to our brethren abroad, Therefore, [p. 55]
The minutes of this council state that before Oliver Cowdery read the preamble and resolutions, he made “a short Stat[e]ment of the proceedings of the council on the 11th. which was sanctioned by vote.” (Minutes, 23 Aug. 1834.)