Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846; Volume 3, 6 May 1845–13 January 1846
Council of Fifty
Kingdom of God
Er moved that we publish a peice in the “Neighbor” tomorrow, that we intend to carry out the principle agreed to with the last year viz. that we will be still and leave the matter in the hands of the to execute the laws and bring the murderers to justice as he agreed to do. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.
On motion Er was apponted to write the article, but he being very unwell volunteered to assist him, and accordingly went to work and each assisted to prepare the article for the press. During the time they were writing, Er being sick called upon the to lay hands on him which with the assistance of others was done after which [p. ] withdrew.
Er then made some remarks on the policy we ought to use in the present crisis. He referred to the articles in the last two Neighbors which are in his estimation calculated to create excitement. He also referred to the conduct of the boys who practice the whistling operations &c.
Er. made some spirited remarks in justification of the articles published in the Neighbor. He was followed on the same subject by Er .
Er. did not consider that policy would warrant us in occupying either of the two extremes, under our present circumstances. He expressed [p. ] himself as gratified at seeing the articles lately published in the Neighbor and thinks when this article shall be published and go forth, the others will do no hurt at all.
Er made some remarks in his own defence giving some reasons why he considered it just to speak out against the enemy. He was followed on the same strain by .
Er then read the article for the press, which was accepted and immediately sent by to the printers.
At ¼ past 10 on motion the council adjourned to Saturday next at 1 o clock P.M.—— [p. ]
The council met on 10 May 1845 in the upper room of the at 1:00 p.m. After a brief report of the committee appointed to examine the legal standing of the Nauvoo Legion, brought in the first of the fifteen-shooters the council had requested him to make. Talk then turned to civic matters, including a fencing dispute and needy families in the . agreed to try to settle the fencing dispute and recommended that the bishops be called together to help provide assistance to the poor.
proposed “dissolving the council for the time being untill something of importance shall arise to call the council together,” and the council adjourned sine die. Young’s stated reason for the proposal was the approach of summer, the “hurrying time of the year,” but he may also have been concerned about confidentiality. He spoke of “vessels in the council which are leaky” and counseled members against sharing information from the council with anyone, including their wives. In his journal provided as a reason for adjournment “the conduct of of whom there is strong suspicious of treachery.” Clayton provided no specifics, but three months earlier, when the council had reorganized in February 1845, Young and rebuked Yearsley for appearing to be “all for yourself and not for the church.”
Saturday May 10th. 1845 Council met pursuant to adjournment in the Upper room of the and organized at 1 o clock P.M. President in the Chair.
Present , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , & . [p. ]
The council was opened with prayer by E[lde]r .
The minutes of the last three councils were read and accepted.
begged leave of absence on account of a press of business. He was excused.
Er moved that the committee appointed to examine the law relative to this division of the Millitia of the make their report.
Coun. of the committee stated that they had examined the law on the subject and found that we, as a people, are not liable to be compelled to serve in the Militia, and if we do serve it will be by virtue of the commissions we hold.
On motion the report of the committee was accepted, and they discharged. [p. ]
Coun. moved that we declare ourselves an independant nation.
Coun. said he did not think it necessary, inasmuch as the nation has already made us independant.
The then stated that through his advise has commenced making fifteen shooters, and has one here for a sample. He wants some of one of the brethren to buy it, that can send to and get some more barrels.
The Gun was sold to .
Counrs. & sung the “Cap Stone” song composed by
Coun. said that some of the brethren on the East boundaries of the has got into difficulty on account of having enclosed a piece of land. It has been enclosed by a number of poor brethren [p. ] who have leased it for the purpose of raising them some grain &c. They have infringed on a road angling from the to Calkins’ and fenced it up. Some of the neighbors are dissatisfied and are throwing down the fences and have had considerable difficulty, and had threatened each other, drawn their bowie knives &c. He was sent for to settle the difficulty, and went and endeavored to effect a settlement which was partially done, but their is yet considerable feeling and dissatisfaction. He thought it would be well if our could go and see them.
The said he had no objections to go and see the brethren and try to have the matter set to rights. We must submit to a little difficulty in order to raise grain for the sustenance of the citizens. [p. ]
Coun. explained some matters in relation to the difficulty. He was followed by & others on the same subject.
Coun. made some remarks respecting those brethren who have come here, and have covenanted not to go out to work for the gentiles. Many of them have no means of sustaining themselves, they have no food, and the question is often asked him what shall they do? There is no labor in the by which they can earn their bread and he wants to know what answer he shall make to such when they come to him.
Coun. made some remarks on the subject.
The recommended that the Bishops be called together and instructed to go round and examine the situation of those who say they need help, and if [p. ] they are needing let us help them for a while untill we see how matters go.
Remarks were made by several on the same subject.
The said that inasmuch as this is a hurrying time of the year he would suggest the propriety of dissolving the council for the time being untill something of importance shall arise to call the council together. There are some vessels in the council which are leaky, some of the members have told their wives what is passing here, and he felt to caution the brethren against it. If there are any here who cannot keep matters to themselves let them keep out of the council. There is no need of our telling any thing, and if there are any in the council who do tell tales out of council he would advise them [p. ] to keep away. For himself, any thing that belongs to himself he has a right to do what he has a mind to with it, but any thing which belongs to a council he never tells of it.
There have been men admitted here in the room of absent members, and when the members are here themselves, it is expected that those who have been called in, to fill the place of such will not meet with us, and he hopes they will have no feelings.
Coun. stated concerning some of his neighbors telling him about the brethren who are gone on a mission to the Indians. These cases have come from the brethren who are gone west.
The said we have some of the [p. ] best Yankey guessers among us, that ever lived, and many of them guess right, and have all confidence that they know what is going on.
Coun. related a circumstance of brother Pendleton asking him concerning the mission to the West. Several other cases were mentioned by the brethren.
The asked whether we shall do any thing in regard to sending some brethren down the river.
said he understood that matter was left to the .
Coun. moved that we adjourn sine die.
Coun. said he did not know but it would be wisdom to have spies out at Jerico to see what was going on. [p. ]
The said he had taken care of that matter.
suggested the propriety of having a reporter appointed to attend Court and report all the speeches and trials for publication in our papers.
The council then adjourned sine die
Clerk [9 lines blank] [p. ]
[See introduction to Part 3: September–October 1845.]
The Council of Fifty convened on 9 September 1845, nearly four months after the last meeting recorded by in the minute book. Several meetings in August that correspond with council business—including deliberations on ’s company and discussions about American Indians and settlement in the West—may have prompted on 4 September to call for the council to meet the following Tuesday, 9 September. This decision to reconvene the council came just three days after the return of missionaries and with their report of Indians and the West. On 6 September, Clayton “notified the members of the council of fifty” that the council would meet on 9 September. While several records, including Clayton’s journal, confirm that the council met that day at 2:00 p.m. in the , Clayton mistakenly dated this meeting as 8 September in his minutes.
In the meeting, the council admitted in place of his brother , who was in the eastern , and then heard ’s report. Spencer also relayed information from , whom he and had encountered on their mission, and shared correspondence between Dana and one of the chiefs of the Cherokee, which copied into the minutes featured here. With the positive information from the western missionaries and with the nearing completion, proposed that the council consider sending “a company west next spring” to “somewhere near the Great Salt Lake,” whence church members could “work our way” to . After several members spoke on the emigration west, the council appointed a committee of five members to make a list of the necessary supplies for each family as well as to gather information on the best route and “all matters touching the expedition.” The council adjourned until 30 September, presumably to give the committee the necessary time to complete their tasks.
Monday September 8th.  1845 Council met at the call of the in the upper room of the and organised at 2 o clock P.M. President in the chair.
Present. , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , & . [p. ]
The council was opened with prayer by E[lde]r .
The then stated that he had called in brother to sit in the place of his brother who is absent on business for the church, he wanted to know if the council had any objections. The council signified that they had no objections. Whereupon
The called upon to state to the nature of this organization and the object of the council.
stated in few words the object and design of the council, and with hands uplifted said he was willing to abide by all the laws of the council. The title of the council was then given by the , to which he signified his entire approbation and assent. [p. ]
A motion was made that be received as a member of this council to occupy the seat of his brother which was seconded and carried unanimosly
The reading of the minutes of the previous meeting was dispensed with.
The title of the constitution of this kingdom was related by the and accepted by .
Er then related some matters pertaining to his labors in draughting a constitution for this kingdom, and stated the reasons why he discontinued his labors. He considered that if we made a constitution it would be a man made thing, and he considered that if God gave us laws to govern us and we receive those laws God must also give us a constitution. [p. ]
Coun. then arose to give a report of his mission to the West. Their mission was to the Seneca Indians. They proceeded about five hundred miles up the and there met , from him they learned that was dead. They tarried five days with the Stockbridge tribe. This tribe expressed great kindness towards them and the Mormons. They have considerable knowledge of the Mormons and of what is going on among us. Their interests seem to be identified with ours. From they learned that the Cherokees had given permission for any number of our people to settle by them, and offered to lend us any assistance they could either to locate or to go West to explore. Brother [George] Herring has been with several tribes and says [p. ] they are all friendly and seem to understand what is going on among us, and are ready to render us any assistance they can. Many of the Stockbridge tribe are joined in with the Baptists but they are dissatisfied with their doctrine. They like the Mormon doctrine better. Their chief expects to be here about the 6th. of October. They preached to them, and they seem satisfied with our doctrine. From what said they concluded it unnecessary to go to the Senneca tribe. They learned that had accomplished among that tribe what they were sent for.
The following letters were then presented and read by the clerk.
Webbers Falls Cherokee nation
July 5th. 1845 [p. ]
Friend & Brother
My object in visiting you is to inform you of the views and intentions of my nation which I hope when you understand them, that you will think well of them, and co-operate with us in our intentions. The object is as follows. We wish to send a party of our men, on an exploring tour to the Western part of the continent, or on some water course of the Western Ocean. Should any discovery country be discoverd suitable for agriculture and adapted to Indian life, it is the intention of the Oneida nation of which I am one to emigrate to it, together with other Northern Nations who are a party to these our intentions. Believing it to be a plan that will result in good [p. ]
if entered into and carried out. I would therefore invite your attention to this enterprise to unite with us in exploring the western continent for the purpose of finding some resting place for our people and rising generation. This invitation is not confined to you alone, but may be extended through you to as many other friendly tribes as you may think worthy of our fellowship Whatever you may think of this plan I wish you to inform me in writing.
I am yours respectfully
friend & Brother
Near Webbers falls
Arkansas River [p. ]
The following is the answer.
Webbers falls Cherokee Nation
July 5th. 1845.
Friend & Brother:—
Your letter of this date has been read and its contents duly considered. You state that the Oneida Nation and others have it in contemplation to look out a country, with a view of moving their people to it to which you have been pleased to invite my attention and co-operation. Situated as I am at present I am not prepared to engage in the undertaking, on account of the present confused state of affairs in this nation. So soon as this confused state of affairs is settled, and the unfinished business with the Government of the is finally concluded, I think you would [p. ]
(have) no difficulty in getting a part of the Cherokee people and other tribes to co-operate with their northern friends & Brothers, and as this subject is of much weight I am not prepared to say what steps or course the Cherokees will take. I think the case or subject will have to be acted on by the principle men, before I can say what course they will take, but I have not the least doubt but they will do something, as they are very much dissatisfied, and if they the Cherokees conclude to move they would gladly receive you as brothers. As I have already told you the cause of my not being able to join you in your contemplated tour of exploring the western country I hope [p. ]
that you will (will) consider me excusable, and that what I have already stated fully shows the impediment to co-operate with your views. My will is good, but am of necessity compelled to delay it untill I am released from other matters of great importance. But I am in hopes that the Great spirit, the ruler of all things will forward your views and bring about a change that will be the means of uniting all the Red people together as one family, and live in the enjoyment of peace and friendship under the influence and guidance of the Great Spirit.——
I am yours sincere
friend & Brother
Of the Oneida Nation. [p. ]
The then stated that it is well understood by this council the views of Joseph in regard to setting up the kingdom in some place where we can exalt the standard and enjoy liberty. We have sent some men this spring and have learned considerable of the feelings of the Indians towards us, and the prospect is good. The is near finished and many of the brethren will no doubt receive their endowment this winter. We have contemplated sending a company west next spring, and this is what we want to take into consideration. It has been proved that there is not much difficulty in sending people beyond the mountains. We have designed sending them somewhere near the Great Salt Lake [p. ] and after we get there, in a little time we can work our way to the head of the , or the . If we send a party next spring it is necessary to make a selection and notify them that they may be preparing for the journey.
Coun. made some observations relative to s journal and his description of the country &c.
The stated that had returned here last spring some time ago, had made satisfaction and been rebaptised &c. From he learned that there was a Frenchman with s company who had in part become identified with them, and would probably marry a female belonging to the [p. ] company. This Frenchman has spent eighteen months, trapping, in the region of the Salt Lake and has given a fair description of the country.
Coun said he has had every opportunity during his mission to the East to search into every thing extant pertaining to . He also has had conversation with two gentlemen who live there and only stay in the as Agents. From them he has learned many things pertaining to that country. There is a good Wagon Road to leading on from Missouri. It follows the Platte, going in between the mountains, after which the roads fork, one going to and the other to . At the place where [p. ] the roads fork is the spot where we have some notion of settling. The rout to San Francisco from would be about 2100 miles, but to the place where we calculate to go not more than 1500. We would require provisions for the whole rout as there are no settlements. We could take any amount of cattle and sheep for food &c. Beyond the mountains there are many poor tribes of Indians, and also many who are considerably advanced in knowledge and manufacture their own clothing &c. The north part of is about the same degree of Latitude with . During the winter months the wind never ceases to blow from the South, which makes a climate like summer. On the coast they have rain in the winter months. The crops mature soon after it has done raining. In April their [p. ] harvest commences. For about eight months of Summer they have no rain. It blends all the productions of the tropical and northern climates. They have no frost. In the summer season the north wind blows all the while and moderates the climate very much. The climate of the country this way from the mountains, will be determined from local causes. The climate is more changeable in the interior than on the coast. It is said that fish and fresh meat will keep all the year round without salt. Perhaps two thirds or three fifths of the interior is desert and plains, except here and there a beautiful stream, filled with fish, and surrounded by a flourishing and pleasant valley.
Coun. said he was in favor [p. ] of annexing that country to this government, and he should have no objections to moving the government seat to the country. He is in favor of a company going next spring. We have got it to do and we could not have a better time than the present.
coincides with the views already advanced. He believes now is the time proper time to make a move, the prospect looks favorable and he is in favor of having the thing advance.
moved that be a captain over fifty.
Coun. is much pleased with the proposal to go to that country. He thinks if this council were placed at the passes of the mountains, it would as important a place as any except the coast. The sooner we are where we can plant ourselves where [p. ] there will be no one to say they are old settlers the better. He is in favor of this council holding a session there within one year from this time, and have as many others with us as is necessary, even if it require five thousand. He considers it perfectly practible for us to establish ourselves there next season. He proposed that this council hold a session there next season, and that we take as many others with us, as the circumstances of the case may dictate.
He was followed on this subject by Counrs , , , , and each expressing their feelings and approbation of the measure.
moved that a company start from here with a thousand families on the 1st. of May next.
Coun. arose to offer an [p. ] amendment thinking the first of May to late in the season for the welfare of the company. He thinks from the 10th. to the 15th. of April is as late as we ought to start. He offers as an amendment that the time of starting be from the 10th. to the 15th. of April
Coun. stated that it is a standing law of this council that all resolutions shall be submitted to the chair in writing before going to the house.
The said that as regards the time to start we cannot fix on that yet. But the question is shall this council, or a portion of them go, and shall we take our wives and families with us. If it is wisdom to go there should be a committee appointed to dictate the arrangement and report to the council. [p. ]
moved that the select such a portion of this council as may be necessary to make the location, and that they select the families, subject to the final revision of the .
withdrew his motion after which a vote was taken on motion and carried unanimously.
The then moved that the report of coun. be accepted, which was card.
Coun. moved that a committee of five be appointed to ascertain the necessary outfit for each family, and also to gather all the information they can pertaining to the rout, and all matters touching the expedition and report to this council.
The motion was seconded & carried. [p. ]
The appointed , , , and to be said committee.
The council being called upon to signify their approval of this selection, a vote was taken, and agreed to unanimously
A conversation was then entered into relative to sustaining and furnishing means for him to make one hundred or five hundred fifteen shooters. After which
On motion the council adjourned till the 30th. inst. at 9. A.M.
clerk [p. ]
The 30 September 1845 meeting of the council occurred in the context of a renewed outbreak of anti-Mormon violence in . In early September rising tensions with anti-Mormon forces in the areas surrounding culminated in mob violence against Mormons and their property in several outlying settlements. On 10 September, learned that anti-Mormon mobs were operating at ’s settlement, , some twenty-five miles south of Nauvoo. The next day Young received further news of the mob’s activities, which reportedly included the burning of six houses. wrote a desperate letter to Young on 11 September informing him of the burnings and reporting that the mob had threatened “the lives of our men women and children” if the Mormons did not remove from the area immediately. Young urged Hancock to attempt to conciliate the mob by offering to sell the Mormons’ property to them but also dispatched a letter to Hancock County sheriff asking him to take “prompt and immediate steps to quell the mob and preserve the lives and property of those who are in danger.” Young asked Backenstos to “inform the as speedily as possible, and see if he will not do some thing in the matter to put a stop to the carreer of the mob and prevent further depredations.”
responded aggressively against what he considered an “insurrection” and promised that he would “quell the mob peacable if I can, & forceably if we must.” Backenstos had only days earlier instructed Young to have the Mormons organize a militia, but Young and others were hesitant to place themselves under the authority of Governor given their mistrust of his intentions. Now Backenstos raised a posse under his own authority to bring the offending mobbers to justice. He was unhappy to hear of Young’s instructions to the Mormons in the outlying settlements to try to sell their land to appease the mob because he felt it was their duty to “protect the settlements.” Backenstos warned that the Mormons needed to be willing to “stand their ground & protect their own property” or non-Mormon citizens such as himself would not be as willing to fight for them in the conflict. He told Young to “hold in readiness at least 2000 well armed men for immediate service at any hour that I or the executive officers may need them to quell the Mob.” Young responded by departing from his initial pacific stance and telling the threatened Mormons, “If the mob comes to disturb you, at the first aggression on yourselves or property give them the cold lead or obey the Sheriff’s council.”
Despite ’s urging that the conflict should be escalated, took further steps to try to mitigate the surging violence. He issued a statement addressed to , the supposed leader of the mob attacking Mormon homes, that stated unequivocally that the entire Mormon community intended to “leave and the next spring.” However, Young stated that their timely removal would occur only if “yourselves and all others will cease all hostile operations, so as to give us the short but necessary time for our journey” and the “opportunity of carrying out our designs peaceably.” A week later a committee was dispatched by a group of citizens from , Illinois, to broker a peace by confirming Mormon plans to leave the . In response, prepared a statement for publication that reiterated the Mormons’ intention to leave in the spring. Despite such overtures from the Mormons, Backenstos was determined that the mobbers would be brought to heel by force of arms alone and informed Young of his intentions to march on , a hotbed of anti-Mormon sentiment; defeat any lawless defenders; and occupy the place until order could be restored. Young again urged restraint on Backenstos and delayed the delivery of cannons that Backenstos had demanded from Nauvoo as well as the additional men to join his posse. Young pleaded with Backenstos to avoid forcing the mob into a situation where they could not flee but felt they must “fight or die,” observing that this would “be construed into a barbarous act and operate upon the public mind against us.” Young urged Backenstos and others to “return with the posse to this place without delay” and “be wise in all their moveme[n]ts and save the lives of their men.” He added, “The life of one good man is worth a 1000 murderers.” Backenstos’s posse occupied and Warsaw but without the feared bloodshed.
Not surprisingly, many of the non-Mormon residents in the surrounding area were outraged that had sided with the Mormon communities. While Backenstos’s firm actions halted the house burnings and plunderings for a time, the resulting outrage at this show of pro-Mormon force heightened tensions to a level not seen since JS’s murder fifteen months earlier—tensions not alleviated by the Mormons’ public declaration of their intention to remove from the place entirely. The Warsaw Signal reported on what it considered to be a murder committed by Backenstos’s posse, and letters detailing alleged Mormon aggressions were sent to a St. Louis newspaper and republished elsewhere, stoking the fires of those opposed to the Mormons.
, fearing that violence was once again spiraling out of control in , responded to ’s initial request for intervention by forces by dispatching General with the state militia to occupy the region. Ford was further alarmed at reports that mobs of angry citizens from neighboring states were intending to travel to Hancock County to fight against the Mormons and issued a stern executive order that any such persons would be “chastised in a most summary manner” and “tried for their crimes and punished according to law.”
After arrived in with troops, he discharged ’s posse on 28 September and affirmed that he would take a neutral part in the difficulties and settle them peaceably. This meeting of the Council of Fifty convened only two days later amid great public tensions and uncertainty as to the course of the troops. told the council that he had made a selection of who from the council should go west: “the whole council, with their families and neighbors.” The council then endorsed the proposal that “the business of our removal be laid before the General Conference,” scheduled to convene in less than a week.
During the meeting, asked to leave and gather information regarding ’s troops, who were reportedly en route to . When Rich returned, he informed the council that Hardin’s troops had arrived in the city and were waiting near the to meet with “the Twelve and authorities of the place.” In addition, and were at ’s home and also wished to meet with church leaders. The council then adjourned so that the Twelve and a few others could meet first with Backenstos and Douglas and then with Hardin.
Tuesday Sepr. 30th. 1845 Council met pursuant to adjournment in the upper room of the and organised at 10 o clock A. M. President in the chair Present , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , & .
The council was opened with prayer by Coun. .
The minutes of the last council was then read and accepted. [p. ]
While reading the minutes came in and stated that two officers had rode into from and had gone to the . The requested to go over and ascertain what they wanted. went out with him and in a few minutes returned and stated that the men called at the for liquor but they could get none. They then proceeded to s and asked for liquor, but could still get none. They then went to Clapps store and he supposed they got some there. They soon came out and rode off in different directions. He also stated that a brother had just come in with a team who reported, that there was a company of troops just outside the . The requested [p. ] to go and give the word to the brethren to be on the alert and watch their movements.
The report of the committee appointed at the last meeting to enquire into the necessary outfit for the company was then called for.
Coun. the chairman of said committee stated that he was taken sick immediately after his appointment and consequently was not able to make any report, not being in possession of any facts in relation to the matter.
of the committee reported that they had had one meeting, but had not been together sufficient to make of full report. On behalf of the committee he begged for further time.
Coun. said he had not met with the committee on account of a multiplicity of other business, but he had [p. ] made a calculation of matters for an outfit which he stated verbally. He had not been able to gather as much information as he wished. He had made a calculation that for every family of five persons would be necessary one good wagon, 3 Yoke of Cattle, 2 Cows, 2 Beef Cattle, 3 Sheep, 1000 lbs Flour, 20 lbs Sugar, 1 Rifle and ammunition, and a tent and tent poles. He had estimated that the cost of fitting out a family would be about two hundred and fifty dollars; providing they had nothing to begin with but their beds, bedding and cooking utensils.
said their had no estimate come to his knowledge, having been left with .
Coun. had estimated that a Waggon with the above amount of outfit would be well loaded, including the family [p. ] The weight would be about 2700 lbs. He allowed 100 lbs of clothing for each person. He supposed many of the families would walk, and independant of the family the weight would be about 1900 lbs. He had included in this calculation the weight of Rifles, muskets, tent, tent poles and every thing he could think off. He had included 50 lbs of seed grain to each family.
Coun. reported that he had made an estimation which amounted to about the [same?] as s in regard to weight. There was some little variation in the kind of articles.
The then decided that the committee have further time and that they present their report in writing.
He then stated that he had made a selection of those of this council who [p. ] should go and had finally selected the whole council, with their families and neighbors. There are four of the council viz:— , , and who have already selected their companies of one hundred families each. He called for the lists of those selected by the above named councillors. , and each presented their list which were severally read by the .
While reading these lists the deputised to ride out and see the movements of the company reported to be outside the .
Coun. moved that the business of our removal be laid before the General Conference on the 6th. October next
The motion was seconded and carried. [p. ]
The then appointed Councillors , , , and to select companies of one hundred families each for the West.
Coun. here made some remarks in regard to the .— taking the press & other materials &c.
Coun. wished to ask some questions relative to a company being formed over the , and also for information in regard to regulations for those who are forming companies.
Coun. said it would be well to have it understood, that all whiners, go in the last company.
Coun. related a circumstance of mentioning the subject of our moving West to . [p. ]
The said he was opposed to any mans asking to go, and if asks her to go he dont want him to lead a company. Neither nor the mob want the Mormons to go away, but they want to bind us down and make us pay tribute to them.
The question in regard to the brethren selling their farms being introduced
The said we have already agreed to make a proposition to rent and sell our property to the Catholics. After conference we intend to send a man to to confer with the Catholic priests of that place, and make propositions to sell to the Catholics. We will also send a man <committee> to , and another to , and another to , and another to and another to Baltimore the seat of the head Bishop. [p. ] The brethren can take letters of introduction from one priest to another. We want to take a list of all the houses for sale, and also a list of about how many will be to rent. We can rent the to them. We shall also rent the Arsenal, the and some other buildings with the which we dont want to sell.
Coun. came in and stated that and his troops had arrived in the and were now on the square North East of the waiting an interview with the Twelve and authorities of the place. He stated that and were at s waiting for them and were anxious to see them as soon as possible. says all is right. The proposed to adjourn and meet them whereupon the council adjourned till next Saturday at 9 A.M. [p. ]
On 4 October 1845 the council assembled at the for a lengthy session that lasted from 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This meeting took place in the shadow of negotiations between church leaders and General and other government officials. After briefly meeting with the Quorum of the Twelve on 30 September, Hardin and his troops unsuccessfully searched the (including the and the ), supposedly looking for stolen goods and the bodies of two men allegedly murdered in the city. Latter-day Saints, however, thought the searches were a ruse to search for other items, such as cannons that might be used in the defense of Nauvoo. The next afternoon, on 1 October, Hardin and again met with church leaders at the home of to discuss the Saints’ offer to leave the state in the spring to end the violence in the . had discussed with the Council of Fifty a month earlier his intention to send a company “somewhere near the Great Salt Lake” in search of a place to settle. At this meeting with Hardin and Douglas, however, church leaders stated that they planned to locate at Vancouver Island, a region claimed by both the and Great Britain. In suggesting they intended to go to Vancouver Island, they sought to disguise their true intention out of fear that the federal government would attempt to halt any effort to immigrate to Mexican territory (including the area around the Great Salt Lake), as Governor had suggested in April. Hardin and Douglas approved the plan, and Douglas stated that “there would be no gover[n]ment obj[e]ction to it.”
Church leaders also discussed with and arrangements that would allow the Saints to dispose of their property. had publicly stated that the Mormons would agree to leave only if the anti-Mormons and others promised to help them sell or rent their properties and had suggested that a committee of both Mormon and anti-Mormon parties be formed for that purpose. In the meeting Hardin instead suggested that the church appoint trustees-in-trust for that purpose and warned that Mormon properties might not sell, although Young reiterated his desire for a joint committee. Finally, Hardin wanted church leaders to “give the public some convincing tokens that it was our determinations to leave here in the spring.” Though Young responded that “we cannot give a greater testimony than not sowing wheat,” he complied with Hardin’s request for a written statement declaring the Mormons’ intention. Hardin left on 3 October to confer with the anti-Mormon representatives who had convened at on 1 and 2 October.
The 4 October 1845 council meeting opened with a reading of ’s report of his conversations with the anti-Mormons at and other documents related to the crisis. According to , while these were being read, “the members of the council indulged themselves with quite a season of rejoicing and pleasure,” possibly because these difficulties had accelerated the need to find a new home for the Saints—a desire that had inspired the creation of the council. Plans that they had contemplated since their earliest sessions with JS could now be set in motion without the specter of mob violence clouding their prospects.
After reading the reports from , the council discussed preparations for removing west. At ’s suggestion, the council voted to suspend publication of the Nauvoo Neighbor and the Times and Seasons. Additionally, Young suggested that a committee be formed to gather “every mean, dastardly publication” about the Mormons printed in the and republish them to highlight the negative treatment of the Saints. While Young briefly excused himself from the meeting, the council voted on names for their publication. When Young returned, he objected to the names and—after appointing , , and to write the document—suggested that the question of the name be dropped until later. Council members also heard the report of the committee on preparing for the journey west and discussed arrangements to sell land in and the logistics of getting enough wheat ground to supply the Saints. The council adjourned sine die.
Saturday October 4th. 1845 Council met pursuant to adjournment in the upper room of the and organized at 9 ¾ o clock A. M. President in the chair.
Present , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , & .
The council was opened with prayer by .— [p. ]
The minutes of the last council was read and accepted.
A letter of introduction from , and one from per Messers & [Michael J.] Noyes, also a response from to the propositions of the Twelve, and a copy of a messuage from the were then read by the , a copy of each is recorded as follows.
Oct 3rd. 1845
This letter of introduction will be handed you by two gentlemen Mr. M. J. Noyes & of Pike County.
I am well acquainted with them & commend them to you as gentlemen. They desire to see the & will oblige them & myself by permitting [p. ]
them to inspect it.
Messrs Noyes & are also the bearers of a response from myself & Staff to the letter of yourself & the Council of the 1st. inst.
I have the honor to be
Octr 3. 1845
The bearers Messrs Noise & are about to visit your , permit me to introduce them to your acquaintance. They are honorable gentlemen from Pike County in this , I beg that you extend to them your usual politeness. They are for the [p. ]
maintainance of the Laws in all cases.
All’s. well.— I expect to go or be taken to for trial in a day or two
Camp Carthage Oct 3rd. 1845
To the & High Council of the church of Latter Day Saints.
Since our conference with you on yesterday we have arrived at this place & have held free conversations with the Anti Mormons of this place and other surrounding counties.
We have read to them your statement made to us on the 1st. inst.
We have informed them that you [p. ]
individually made similar statements to us, with the most solemn protestations of truth and with every appearance of earnest determination to carry out your expressed intentions in good faith.
In the Resolutions which were adopted on yesterday in this place by the delegates from nine counties (the citizens from being excluded from the meeting) it was resolved, as we are informed (not having seen a copy of the resolutions) to accept your proposition to remove in the spring— Since we have made public the statement made by you to us there seems to be a general acquiesence in it, by the citizens of other counties and of this, so far as to agree to restrain & withhold all [p. ]
further violence, and that you be permitted to depart in peace next spring.
We are convinced that affairs have reached such a crisis that it has become impossible for your church to remain in peace in this .
After what has been said and written by yourselves, it will be confidently expected by us and the whole community that you will remove from the with your whole church in the manner you have agreed in your statement to us. Should you not do so we are satisfied, however much we may deprecate violence and bloodshed, that voilent measures will be resorted to, to compel your removal, which will result in most disastrous consequences to yourselves [p. ]
and your opponents, and that the end will be your expulsion from the .
We think that steps should be taken by you to make it apparent that you are actually preparing to remove in the spring.
By carrying out in good faith your proposition to remove as submitted to us we think you should be, and will be permitted to depart peaceably next spring, for your destination West of the .
For the purpose of maintaining law and order in this the commanding proposes to leave an armed force in this , which will be sufficient for that purpose, & which will remain so long as the [p. ]
deems it necessary.
And for the purpose of preventing the use of such force for vexatious or improper objects we will recommend the of the to send some competent legal officer to remain here, & have the power of saying what process shall be executed by said military force.
We recommend to you to place every possible restraint in your power over the members of your church to prevent them from committing acts of agression or retaliation on any citizens of the , as a contrary course may & most probably will bring about a collision which will subvert all efforts to maintain the peace in this . And we purpose making a similar request [p. ]
of your opponents in this and the adjoining counties.
The has the honor to transmit to you herewith a copy of part of a dispatch received by him last evening from his Excellency the which he desires to lay before you.
With many wishes that you may find that peace & prosperity in the land of your destination which you desire, we have the honor to subscribe
ourselves, Respectfully Yours &c.
W[illiam] B. Warren
. [p. ]
Copy of a part of a dispatch from the .
I wish you to say to the Mormons for me that I regret very much so much excitement and hatred against them should exist in the public mind.
Nevertheless it is due to truth to say that the public mind every where is so decidedly hostile to them that Public opinion is not inclined to do them common justice— Every bad report against them is greedily swallowed, whilst nothing can be heard which really ought to be heard in their favor— Under these circumstances I fear that they will never be able to live in peace with their neighbors of & the surrounding counties. [p. ]
There is no legal power in the to compel them to leave & no such power will be exercised during my administration
The spirit of the people how ever is up, and the signs are very evident that an attempt will be made by the surrounding counties to drive them out. Such an attempt may fail once or even twice, but if undertaken in earnest and persevered in it must finally succeed— Those who may think it wrong to drive out the Mormons cannot be made fight in their defence & indeed the people of the will never tolerate the expense of frequent military expeditions to defend them. The Mormons may think themselves strong enough to defend themselves. But do they want [p. ]
to live in a state of continual war— They may overcome their enemies— But those enemies will rally again and murders will be committed & mischief done from this time out as each party may find itself able.
I desire that you will impress these facts upon the Mormons and that you will council & promote any peaceable means of accommodation whereby the Mormons may be induced to leave the — It is acknowledged by me that the has no power, to insist upon their removal, that it is a great hardship on them to remove from their comfortable homes and the property which they have accumulated by years of toil. [p. ]
But is it not better that they should do so voluntarily than to live in a state of continual war.
The following series of resolutions by the citizens of as published in the “Quincey Whig” of Octr. 1st. were next read.
1 Resolved, That we accept and recommend to the people of the surrounding counties to accept the proposition made by the Mormons to remove from the next Spring; but we accept it as an unconditional proposition to remove. We do not intend to bring ourselves under any obligation to purchase their property or to furnish purchasers for the same, but we will in no way hinder or obstruct them in their efforts to sell, and will expect them to dispose of their property and remove at the time appointed. [p. ]
2. Resolved, That we do not endorse the enumeration of grievances made by the Mormons in their printed proposition to remove, or in any degree yeild our assent thereto; that we do not believe them to be a persecuted people, but believe whatever grievances they may suffer to be the legitimate consequences of their own conduct.
3. Resolved, That it is now too late to attempt the settlement of the difficulties in upon any other basis, than that of the removal of the Mormons from the .
4. Resolved, That whilst we shall endeavor by all means in our power, to prevent the occurrence of any thing, which might operate against their removal, and afford the people of any ground of complaint, we shall equally expect [p. ]
good faith upon their part; and if they shall not comply with their own proposition, the consequences must rest upon those who violate faith. And we now solemnly pledge ourselves to be ready at the appointed time to act as the occasion may require, and that we will immediately adopt a preliminary military organization, for prompt future action, if occasion should demand it.
5. Resolved, That we respectfully recommend to the people of the surrounding counties, to wait with patience the time appointed for removal, and that if in their opinion the resolutions passed by this meeting are such as the occasion requires, they adopt them and send copies to the church authorities at .
6. Resolved, That in our opinion, the [p. ]
peace of cannot be so far restored as to allowed the desired progress to be made in preparing the way for the removal of the Mormons while remains Sheriff of said ; and that he ought to resign said office.
7. Resolved, That we recommend to all parties in , that they suspend all legal prosecutions for alleged offences, during the present state of excitement; and that all should be permitted to return to their homes in peace.
8 Resolved, That in our opinion it will only be necessary for the people of to appoint commissioners on their part, to whom applications for the purchase of real estate may be made; and that there is no necessity to appoint commissioners on the other side. [p. ]
9. Resolved, That in order to manifest our sympathies with the unoffending poor, the widow and orphans of , a committee of twenty, with a treasurer, be appointed by the , whose duty it shall be to receive subscriptions from all those desirous of collecting pecuniary aid for such persons; and that the amount collected be paid over to such persons as they shall appoint to receive it upon their being ready to start upon their journey of removal.
10. Resolved, That we expect, as an indispensable condition to the pacification of the county, that the old citizens of be permitted to return to their homes, unmolested by the present and the Mormons for the offences alleged against them; and that any attempt on [p. ]
their part to arrest or prosecute such citizens will inevitably lead to a renewal of the late disorders.
11. Resolved, That the Judge of this Judicial Circuit be requested not to hold any court in this fall, with a view to prevent unnecessary excitement and collision in said county, which might inflame the passions of its citizens and so endanger its peace; it being well known that the unpleasant difficulties already existing there have entirely prevented the due, impartial administration of justice.
12. Resolved, That this meeting deem it proper to recommend that a small military force be stationed in until next spring to prevent depredations upon private property, [p. ]
and preserve the peace of said county; and that it be respectfully, yet earnestly recommended to the of this , to furnish the same for the purposes above named.
Additional Resolutions adopted at the same meeting.
Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed for the purpose of adopting and carrying into operation a volunteer military organization for ; and said committee are hereby authorised to do all things lawful, necessary and proper, for the purpose of preparing such a force, without delay, to be used to preserve the peace of this and the adjoining counties.
Resolved, That the committee appointed to visit deserves and receives our warmest thanks, for the prompt, [p. ]
able and efficient manner in which they discharged the duty confided to them.
Resolved, That the chairman of this meeting be and he is hereby vested with full power and authority to call an adjourned meeting at any time he may deem the public exigence requires it.
Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be published in the City papers and copies thereof transmitted to the of the , and to the Church Authorities of , by the Chairman and Secretary of this meeting.
During the reading of the foregoing papers the members of the council indulged themselves with quite a season of rejoicing and pleasure.
The then suggested to the editors of our papers that they publish [p. ] nothing more in the papers, which will tend to inflame the rage of our enemies but leave them alone and let us mind our own business. He then proposed that we cease publishing the “Nauvoo Neighbor”, and save our paper, inasmuch as our papers rarely get beyond the hands of our enemies. Any information we want to send abroad we will publish in circulars, and extra’s.
Coun. moved that the next number of the “Times & Seasons” shall close that paper, and that we will publish the minutes of the conference in the next neighbor and then stop it, and let that be the end of the business with the , and when we want to send information abroad we will do it by circulars and extra’s. [p. ]
Coun. agreed with the propositions already made, but he thought it would be necessary to publish information relative to our going West for the benifit of those abroad who want to go with us.
The explained that we shall publish information in extra’s for the benifit of all such.
Coun. proposed that we publish in the Neighbor before we close it our propositions to move, with a request that all the Editors throughout the States will publish.
The said the circulars will supercede the necessity of this and every thing else.
A vote was then taken on motion and it was carried unanimously. [p. ]
The proposed that we appoint a committee of three to select and preserve every mean, dastardly publication concerning us, in the papers of these , and when we are ready to leave we will publish them and scatter them through the States to show their meanness towards us.
The then went out for a few minutes with one or two others to fetch some wood, He called Er to the chair.
Coun. arose to suggest a title to that said book. “The beauties of American liberty.”
Coun. offered an amendment to be added to s motion, viz. “The land of the free, the home of the brave, and the assylum for the opprest.” [p. ]
Coun. proposed to add as an amendment to the last amendment, “Hail Columbia happy land! Hail ye heroes see these bands.”
A vote was then taken on s motion with the several amendments and carried unanimously.
The Upper California was then sung by the council.
Coun. made some remarks in regard to our leaving here. Although the thing is greivous he regards the hand of God in it, and can do it as cheerfully as any thing he ever did in his life. But still it seems to be a matter almost forced upon us, with a design to break us up.
Er. <Coun.> read a paragraph [p. ] from a Newspaper concerning a plan laid by some person or persons to settle a thousand persons in the .
The resumed his seat and the vote taken during his absence in regard to the title of the book was read, He made some remarks on the subject and thought the resolution was not as it ought to be, whereupon.
Coun. moved that we reconsider the last vote in relation to the title of the book to be published that we may hear the views of our on the subject. carried.
The said he would like to hear the suggestion of the council on the subject, and the reasons why this title was proposed.
Coun. explained. [p. ]
The said the thing he wants written is a pointed document of the treatment we have received from the and a farewel warning in the name of Israels God.
He then appointed , and to be a committee to write said document.
Coun. arose to express his approbation of the views of our in regard to entering into measures immediately after conference to sell our property. The most embittered of our enemies are those who have nothing They are enemies because they want the spoil, and if they find that we sell our property to those who will settle here and maintain it, and pay [p. ] us for it, they will see that they are not going to [be] bettered by it and he should not be surprised if we dont sell immediately if they undertake to lay an embargo upon it, and say it ought to go to pay for the losses they have sustained, and circulate false reports to prevent our disposing of our property. Will it not be wisdom to sell as speedily as possible so as to forestall them? There are capitalists in the Eastern cities who are able men, and who have paid large sums of money for cities and localities, not near so valuable as this. They can buy up such a city as this with ease. If there could be something accomplished of this kind, so that we could sell our property and slip away with the effects of it our enemies would be [p. ] worse mortified and more enraged at us than any thing we could do. There is also a possibility of our selling to foreigners We have to have this matter done up before our enemies can prevent us.
Coun. said there are societies organised in the for the purpose of buying up property of this kind.
The said prophecied this morning that we would be enabled to sell our property and take all the poor with us. said Amen to it, “and then I believed it of course”.
related a dream he had of a woman being delivered of a child which was dead, and afterwards [p. ] was delivered of a fine living boy which as soon as it was brought forth set up and smiled. He gave the interpretation as follows. The dead child he supposed to be our first excursion to the West which is now dead. The living child he considers to be the moving of the whole church to the West, which will be brought forth a living child.
The said in reply to he will say that during our conference we expect to select men to go to all the churches throughout the . Those men will be empowered to transact business according to the laws of the State They will take with them a map of the and a map of the , They will also take letters of recommendation from such men as , [p. ] and who are influential men. We intend to sell our property to honorable men who will come here and sustain it, but we will not let the mob have it. He told that when we had sold all we could we should put the rest of it in the hands of those who will pay us for it. We will be perfectly thronged from this time, to the time we go away with men who will come with wagons, horses, mules and money to buy our property. The Lord knows that we have done with this nation and the same God that overrules the mob will overrule the sale of our property and he believes we shall dispose of the whole of it. There will be other committees selected [p. ] from each company,—after selecting ten men from each company to work on the —to take our furniture &c to sell through the country. Those men that work on the will have to be supported by their companies, and this will be their tithing.
Coun. made some remarks in regard to sending goods by shipping from the Eastern cities. He also referred to the proposition to send a committee to dispose of our property to the Catholics. This will necessarily consume much time, and whether or no it will not be best so to arrange as to send out these agents forthwith, or with as little delay as possible.
Coun. answered in regard to ships going to . [p. ] Ships can go there all the year round. If we want to send our heavy articles by shipping to , we are not under the particular necessity of sending them at present, nor untill we know where we want to send them to. is now in a very unsettled State and has been all the time
being called out.
Coun. wants to know whether it will not be better for the Eastern brethren to go by water and ship their goods with them. If they come here by land their teams will be worn out by the time the[y] get here. In regard to sending out committees to sell lands if we have a great many committees there will be danger of confusion, unless each person have his particular [p. ] property allotted to him for sale, one man might sell the same lot which had already been sold by another. He believes there will be many coming here to buy and thinks four or five men would be sufficient to send abroad.
The replied that no man would be permitted to make sales abroad but to represent the property for sale, and those who buy, will have to come here to buy. We shall send twenty Elders to just as soon as we can give them their endowment and we shall stop the immegration from that country to this place. The brethren can go from and double Cape Horn any time, and if they have a mind to they can have a company in by the time we get there. [p. ] all things will go like clock work but we cannot hurry business. All things will come in its time and in its place.
The report of the committee was then called for which was presented and read, as follows, to wit:—
The committee who were appointed by the to acquire and lay before the council all the necessary information in regard to the fitting out of families for immigration West of the mountains submit the following report, as embodying all the information obtained from calculation, and from the best works on the subject.
Each family consisting of five adults will require
1 Good Strong Wagon, well covered. [p. ]
with a light Box
3 Good Yoke of Oxen between the age of 4 & 10
2 or more Cows —"—"—"—"—
1 or more good Beaves [beeves] "—"—"—"—
Some Sheep if they have them.
1000 lbs of Flour or other Bread or Bread stuff and good Sacks to put it in.
1 bushel of Beans.
100 lbs of Sugar.
1 Good Musket or Rifle to each man.
1 lb of Powder and 3 lbs of lead (or perhaps more)
2 lbs of Tea.
5 —"— of Coffee.
25 —"— of Salt.
A few lbs dried Beef or Bacon as they choose
A Good tent and furniture to each 2 families
From 10 to 50 lbs of Seed to a family.
And from 25 to 100 lbs of farming, or other Tools. [p. ]
clothing and bedding to each family of 5 persons not to exceed 500 lbs.
1 or more sets of Saw and Gristmill Irons to each company of 100 families.
Cooking utensils to consist of a Bake Kettle, frying pan, coffee pot, Tin cups, plates, and knives, forks, spoons, pans &c as few as will do. A few goods to trade with the Indians. A little Iron and Steel and a few pounds of nails. Each Waggon supposed to be loaded on the start with one ton without the persons or 28 hundred including them. If going to the coast it is not necessary to carry seed wheat, Oats or Grass. Nor is cattle and Sheep absolutely necessary except to live on on the journey as the country abounds in both cattle [p. ]
and sheep. A few horses will be necessary for each company, also a few Cannon and ammunition for the same. The journey to the coast will require some four or five months being up[w]ards of 2000 miles, and further the committee saith not.
There was also added 2 Sets of Pully Blocks & Ropes for crossing Rivers, to each company.
2 Ferry Boats to each company.
After reading the foregoing report the added.
1 Keg of Alcohol of 5 Gallons for each 2 families
10 lbs of Dried apples for each family
5 —"— of Dried Peaches —"—"—
20 —"— of Dried Pumpkins
2 —"— Black Pepper
1 —"— Cayenne [p. ]
1/2 lb Mustard
1 Fish Seine for each company
And hooks and lines for each family.
Coun. would suggest that inasmuch as sugar is not a necessary article of life, he would recommend that we take less sugar and take rice instead of it, which would be good in case of sickness and for women & children.
moved that the report be accepted. The motion was seconded but on being put to vote
wished to suggest the propriety of having a corn mill to each company. On being told that, that was our intention a vote was taken and carried unanimously. [p. ]
The proposed that each man that is making up a company, set each family to work to parch some corn. He intends to try the scheme with wheat. He intends to dry a bushel and then grind and sift and put it into sacks. Those brethren who live on the other side the let them take their grain to Mill and grind & Barrel it up and store it there till we call for it, for there is the place where we want to cross the . During this winter we shall make deposits from here to the outside the settlements for our use on the way, and in the spring we shall ship several Boat Loads of provisions up the about 500 miles where we shall cross for our supply and this will lighten our loads till we get there. [p. ]
Coun. made some remarks respecting the brethren over the storing their grain, also in relation to the roads and where we shall cross at .
Coun. said there cannot be too much exertion and care in preserving and preparing our present crops, for the mills here will scarce grind sufficient to supply the inhabitants.
A conversation here ensued respecting grinding wheat and packing it &c.
again introduced the subject of furnishing materials to make fifteen shooters, and set men to work immediately. Probably it would be well for each company to make arrangements to procure at least ten fifteen shooters. [p. ]
After a variety of conversations on different subjects.
The proposed that at Conference the speakers say nothing about our troubles, the mob, nor any thing pertaining to it; but to attend to our own business, and matters in relation to getting ready to go away.
wanted to know whether the Trustees should do any thing in regard to supplying the lower Steam Mill with wood so as to have it grind for us this winter.
The advised the Trustees to hire the Mill and keep it grinding for us all the winter.
He then proposed that hire s Foundery and go to work there forthwith making [p. ] Rifles &c. and draw his wheat, flour grain, fodder &c for the companies he works for.
A conversation then ensued in regard to the vote taken about two weeks ago to keep strangers out of the except they present an order from the .
Coun. moved that the vote be modified.
Coun. made some remarks in support of the course of the police who have guarded the .
Coun. thought the police had not understood their instructions They had attempted to stop and himself from going into the and he thought it was uncalled for & he paid no regard to it. [p. ]
moved that the whole of this regulation be left with the .
Coun. withdrew his previous motion, and moved that the rule be suspended and that the subject be left with the .
The said it is his decision that the Temple Committee, , the Trustees, the Twelve, and all responsible men that are there can pass as they please and that the police be informed of this order. He also ordered that be permitted to visit the with the above and each one to use their discretion in regard to introducing strangers.
On motion the council then adjourned sine die
clerk. [p. ]
[See introduction to Part 4: January 1846.]
On 11 January 1846 the Council of Fifty met from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. in the attic story of the by order of . After a vote to drop from the council, the chairman “stated that the object of this meeting was to take into consideration our present situation and removal and what is best to be done in regard to our property,” and most of the discussion revolved around these two subjects. Young proposed an initial settlement “between” the mountains “somewhere on the vallies of the Bear River.” From there the Saints could “explore the whole country to the coast and seek out suitable places where we can locate and fortify ourselves so as to bid defiance to the enemy.” With their efforts to sell or lease properties to the Catholic church frustrated, council members decided they would no longer attempt to sell the temple or ; instead, they would finish the structures “as monuments of the industry of this people” and then “hold them sacred to the Lord.” To further manage land transactions, the council appointed , , , , and to remain in as “Agents or a committee to transact business for and in behalf of this council.” Earlier in the meeting Heywood had been chosen to become a member of the council, although he was not present and it is unclear when he began attending council meetings. The council also decided that Babbitt should retain one of the two presses in use at Nauvoo so that a newspaper could continue to be published. At the end of the meeting, Young instructed captains of companies to ascertain “how many can be ready to start in a few days” and to report back in two days.
Sunday Morning January 11th. 1846 Council assembled by orders of the in the Attic Story of the & organised at 11 o clock president in the chair.
The council was opened with prayer by E[lde]r .
Present. President , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , [p. ] , , &
The appointed door keeper.
Coun. moved that be dropped from this council and his name be stricken off the list.
The motion was seconded by and carried unanimously.
The then stated that the object of this meeting was to take into consideration our present situation and removal and what is best to be done in regard to our property. In regard to our going away his feelings are to appoint certain men to tarry here who can stay with safety, and make them our agents and they will take care of our property which we shall be obliged to leave. We can leave a number of men—who are new comers and not known here to take care of our [p. ] property—and finish the and perhaps the , for he believes they can both be finish’d as well as not and for his part he is willing to leave all his property to finish these two houses. When the Legislature sits again will be there and , and perhaps they will have influence enough to get the Legislature to divide the and make this the County seat. The Government has ordered that no Taxes shall be collected in this till May and he has no doubt their object is to have us go away without a privileges of paying our taxes, so that our property can be sold for the Taxes and they obtain tax titles to all of it. The Catholics have failed to do any thing in regard to buying our property and it seems there is some manouvering among them; probably they want to grab our [p. ] property, without paying for it. He has received a letter from Mr [Hilary] Tucker of on the subject but it is so worthless he dont intend to answer it. He has thought that if we can leave some trusty men as agents in charge of our property we shall defeat the enemy and probably they will be able before long to dispose of it so as to help the poor away. When we leave here his mind is to go just beyond the , somewhere on the Mexican claim and the will have no business to come there and if they do we will treat them as enemies. We can make a stand somewhere on the vallies of the Bear River, near to the beer springs. Their are parks in that region which abound with Buffallo, and in fact it is the greatest place for Buffallo on the Continent, and would be near where we [p. ] would be like to make a stand. It would be a place where emigrants would be glad to call and buy grain and provisions and would soon be one of the best markets in the . All travellers agree that there are many perfect beautiful Parks surrounded by high mountains and could easily be fortified against all hostile foes. The great political bone of contention now is that we shall go to & increase in numbers and power so as to be more than a match for them. Whenever we get ourselves planted in that region of country we can send scouts to explore the whole country to the coast and seek out suitable places where we can locate and fortify ourselves so as to bid defiance to the enemy; and also where the Saints from the Eastern States and could land [p. ] and establish themselves. He has wrote a letter to more than 2 months ago, instructing him to ship no more emigrants to the , but send them to and . They are already preparing to ship a company from the Eastern States to those places
Coun. , stated that the distance from here to the Bear River valley is about thirteen hundred miles. The rout is good and at this season of the year when the ground is froze it would be about three months travel. In that region spring is late and by taking an early start we could reach there in time to put in a crop.
Coun. , approves of the idea of appointing Agents to leave in charge of our property. He would also be in favor [p. ] of appointing men, whom we have tried and proven to be true and faithful and to be our friends, and if their is to be any benifit resulting from such an agency he wants those men to have it. In regard to Tax titles he believes Mr Polk has decided that they are unconstitutional and he regards the injunction staying the collection of Taxes as a kind of quit-claim for our benifit.
Coun. approves of an Agency being appointed, and thinks it would be good policy to select one or two who are not members of the Church. The balance of faithful brethren could over-rule them. As to our removal he would think it wisdom to commence forthwith and gather up a company who can fit themselves out, even all the strength of the Church, of young men and middle aged who can [p. ] go and leave their families and who can prepare themselves forthwith to be ready at any moment when called upon to go forth and prepare a place for their families and the poor and then come back and receive them. The poor can stay here in safety for some time to come, and prepare themselves as fast as they could, but for us to take the poor, and the lame, and the halt and the blind under these circumstances it would be the greatest business we ever undertook in our lives. He is in favor of selecting men who can take their napsacks on their back and their Rifle on their shoulder and march through and be ready for any emergency. Here are our houses & our property and the poor can stay in them comfortably till they can get ready, and he would rather see the poor enjoy them, than [p. ] to see the enemies have the benifit of them and in due time we will come back and take a courage scourge of small cords and scourge our enemies with an Almighty scourging. He can take his musket on his shoulder and two six shooters in his pockets with some ammunition and travel from here to the in 2 months and he is not very stout. He is in favor of adopting the easiest course.
Coun. . said if there is an advance company to go and put in crops this spring it will be necessary to start by the first of February for we cannot cross the mountains to Bear River in less than three months and we could not get there soon enough to put in spring crops unless we start quickley. There is another location in the Mexican [p. ] Territory which would be a good place and which we could reach sooner and put in crops in good season.
Coun. agrees with the remarks already made. He thinks the location referred to by the as good a one as any that could be selected. Although it would probably be a cold country we should be screened from the cold by the high mountains which surround it. We would also be free from the jealousies of any government. He approves of an early start. If we start in one month while the ground is hard and froze we could take extra grain, nearly enough to sustain our teams all the way. The roads are better beyond the than on this side. If a number of young men could go and leave their [p. ] families comfortable, we could go and prepare a place so as to make them comfortable when the[y] follow, and when we once get there we could send scouts and find places where we could all live comfortable & happy.
Coun. said his views in regard to the injunction to stay the collection of Taxes are, that it will result in our benifit whatever may be the motive of Government in doing it. From the best calculation he can make the Taxes in & vicinity will amount to about $4000.— a considerable portion of which is for personal property. Real estate is holden for the Taxes, and will be sold if the taxes are not paid, but real estate is not holden for Taxes on personal property and cannot be sold if the tax is not paid. By the manouver [p. ] we shall save all the amount of tax on personal property and of course it will be considerable benifit.
He has endeavored to ascertain during his travels, whether, if the leading characters of the Church should go away, and gathering to this place sease, the farming portion of the church could not stay a while longer in peace; and he is satisfied that such is the feeling of the people around. In regard to our future location <course> there is no place <plan> that meets his approbation so much as the one now under consideration, viz. for this kingdom to be transplanted to a secure place and let the poor live on our property. If our agents are appointed they could occasionally make use of their devil from amongst the [p. ] ranks of the enemy to good advantage, for every kingdom wants a devil. He believes this kingdom has power to appoint Agents as ministers plenipotentiary to act in the name of the kingdom and to cloth[e] them with full power and authority to act in their jurisdiction.
The stated that brother had gone up into the Tower of the with two gentlemen, and he proposed that be brought into the council. but it was stated that he had left a short time ago. The continued and said his feelings are that the can yet be built and the finished after we this council and some others go away from here. [p. ]
A motion was then made that become a member of this council for the time being which was seconded <&> carried unanimously
Coun. thinks that as there is now a meeting in the room below if we could appoint an agency now we could take an expression of the feelings of the meeting on the subject immediately.
The replied he did not want to do it.
Coun. arose to express his gratification for the shape which things seem to take this morning. He thinks if we can transplant this kingdom while the ground is frozen we shall accomplish a great thing, and as to the difficulty attending it, he can [p. ] eat the brambles if he can keep off the dogs. In regard to these the agency this council can appoint them men but those who own the property will have to give them the credentials. He is approves of the plan which has been suggested and is glad to see the feeling of union which prevails on the subject
Coun. said he was satisfied it will be agreeable to to tarry here a season, for Mr [Oliver] Kimball his partner and himself have property and would be glad to establish their business in . He thinks it would be well to appoint them agents and he has no doubt it would please them
Coun. , coincides with the suggestion from the chair in [p. ] regard to the locality and the time to move away. In regard to the injunction to stay the collection of taxes he is satisfied it will be for our good, he would like that the day should be fixed deffinitely when we should start away. The roads are now good which is much in our favor and our teams could take our grain and movables a great way on the journey to sustain us. He agrees with the appointment of Agents and he thinks the better way would be to deed all our property to those Agents because under other circumstances an Agent would be tied down. The locality hinted at by the chair is what has been in his mind all the time and the best possible location for strength and the facilities for sustaining ourselves as could be. He is in favor of expediting [p. ] business as much as possible and to this end he is in favor of first appointing the Agents, and next appoint the agent number who shall go—and then the time when we will start. He proposed that the select the Agent or agents that shall be left in charge of our property and he makes this as a motion.
Coun. said the motion was out of order. It is a standing rule of the council that all motions shall be presented to the chair in writing.
Coun. said he understood that it was the s duty to make selections without a motion.
The said in regard to our views of a location, there is a large party of men figuring to find out where we intend to go. He then referred to a letter which he received some time ago over the signature [p. ] of “Backwoodsman” and stated at some length the principle ideas contained in it. Now if we go between the to the place under consideration there will be no jealousies from any nation, but if we stop this side the mountains there will be complaints which will reach us. There have been some objections to the country because the land is high, but it is surrounded by very high mountains which would moderate the climate very much. If we can get to this place we can strengthen ourselves and be better able to grapple with our foes. It is a place where we could get access to all the tribes on the northern continent and some of the tribes could easily be won over. The shoshows [Shoshones] are a numerous tribe and just as quick as we could give them a pair of breeches and a blanket they [p. ] would be our servants, and cultivate the earth for us the year round. If we should [go?] there we can sustain ourselves comfortably and it will soon become the greatest market in for all kinds of the productions of the soil. At the same time, we would fill up all the country to the coast and soon hold the balance of power over the whole country. Then, if they will give us a portion of the country we will defend their flag for the time being, and if they did not walk up to their agreement we could make them and set up our own standard. Ten thousand men would do more to sustain us there, than two hundred thousand would on the coast. After we get there the first thing he would do, would be to fortify ourselves, which could easily be done, and he should almost [p. ] feel like fortifying before he took time to pray. If it is a cold country, and a hard country to live in we wont be envied, but if we go to a good country before we are able to defend it we would be troubled with mobs as we are here.
The first business to be done is to appoint those Agents. The next thing is for every man of this council to select his fifty men who can be prepared to start immediately either night or day when the word is given, and to commence with he will take this council for his fifty. As to our property he would rather see the poor of this people take it and our houses and enjoy them than the mob should have them. He will give all he has got to the committee who shall be left here to finish the and [p. ] the for he wants to have them finished that they may stand as monuments of the industry of this people. The government of the have laid plans to take the Twelve and some others of this council, and they calculate to send a regiment of troops to take them but we can go as fast as they can.
He shall propose that all this council, with one or two exceptions, go and take their families, and the High Council also to go and take their families, and then select a number of able bodied men who can go and leave their families here comfortable.
Some remarks were then made by the relative to staying here—his mission to &c. expressed his feelings on the subject having an anxious desire to fill his [p. ] mission but would do whatever the council said. He also stated something further in regard to the proba[bi]lity of the Catholics purchasing our property.
The then asked, “Shall we sell this ”? To which was responded an universal no. He then asked shall we sell the which was responded to in the same manner.
He then took a vote of the council on the question. “Shall we finish the and the and hold them sacred to the Lord”. It was unanimous in the affirmative.
It was then moved, seconded and carried <unanimously> that stay here as one of the Agents or a committee to transact business for and in behalf of this council
Moved, seconded and carried unanimously [p. ] that tarry here also , and .
Coun. suggested the propriety of leaving one of the printing presses here, After a short conversation on the subject.
The moved that a press be left in s charge, and that he edits the paper. carried unanimously.
Coun. suggested the propr[i]ety of having an Agent appointed to take charge of the property in the East part of the .
The did not think it necessary to appoint an agency there.
A conversation then ensued relative to collecting the public arms belonging to the Legion, and orders given by the to have them collected forthwith. After which a conversation followed in regard to selling one of our public buildings to [p. ] the Catholics. A question was asked by the chair relative to the cost of the —which was answered by Er viz about $2000.— It was then concluded that if the Catholics would give $1500.— for it, it would be best to sell it.
The then instructed the Captains of hundreds and fifties to ascertain today and tomorrow the situation of the several companies in regard to means and being prepared to start on the journey and how many can be ready to start in a few days and to prepare themselves to make report in this room next tuesday at 10 A.M.
The council then adjourned to next tuesday morning at this place at 10 o clock—
clerk of council. [p. ]
The council met on 13 January 1846 at either 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. in the attic story of the . At the previous meeting had directed the captains of hundreds and fifties for the emigration west to report at this 13 January meeting on the readiness of their companies. Fearing that the federal government would attempt to impede the emigration, Young explained that this meeting’s purpose was “to ascertain how many persons and families, can be ready to start for in six hours notice.” The council then received written reports from twenty of the twenty-five captains of hundreds.
Following these reports proposed that the captains of hundreds and fifties “use their influence to have as few women and children as possible, go with the first company, but let us go and prepare a place for them, so that they can follow in the spring.” Young particularly wanted “all those men who are in danger and who are likely to be hunted with writs, to go and take their families.” The council accepted Young’s proposals.
These minutes record that two additional meetings were scheduled, for 18 and 19 January 1846. While records exist for these meetings (and are included as appendixes in this volume), they were not included in the Council of Fifty record book, which concludes with this meeting of 13 January. ’s rough notes of the meeting are still extant. Significant differences between the rough notes and the recorded minutes have been noted.
In early February, and many members of the council crossed the and began the westward trek across , beginning a journey that the council had contemplated, discussed, and planned since JS established the council in March 1844. In the council’s organizational meeting on 11 March 1844, council members had advocated establishing a “Theocracy either in or or somewhere in ”; they had also, referring to a scriptural metaphor, spoken of establishing “a ‘standard’ to the people an ensign to the nations.” In his journal wrote that Young spoke of this same concept in the 13 January meeting, though with his eyes now firmly on the valleys of the and speaking of a literal banner as an ensign. Lee recorded that Young stated, “The Saying of the Prophets would never be verified unless the House of the Lord should be reared in the Tops of the Mountains & the Proud Banner of liberty wave over the valley’s that are within the Mountains &c I know where the spot is & I no [know] how to make the Flag.”
Tuesday January 13th. 1846 Council met pursuant to adjournment in the Attic Story of the Prest. in the chair.
The house was called to order by the chair at 11 o clock A.M. a number of persons viz Capts. of Tens, Fifties and Hundreds being present, who are not members of the Council, the meeting was not organized in order.
The stated the object of the meeting, viz. to ascertain how many persons and families, can be ready to start for in six hours notice. He drew a striking contrast between the circumstances of the church now, and 12 years ago, when they had to search every State in the , to raise 205 men to go up to , but we can raise as many men now, in almost any State. He cautioned all present to keep secret whatever shall be said or done during the day.
He then went on to state, that the Government of the , are determined to stop our going away, [p. ] as much as the mob are to have us go: They calculate to stop us, and then aid the mob, and screen them while working our destruction. They speak in the name of their God, which is my his devil, and he speaks in the name of Israel’s God and says, “we will go and leave them”. Some will say they are not ready to go, but if we have to wait till we get ready, we shall never go till we are burned up and destroyed. We want to go whether we are ready or not. “The Lord is going to find this nation something to do, besides hunt after the blood of the saints and innocent men; They have had that priviledge for years past, but will soon have something else to do.”
He then called for the reports of the Captains of companies, but the reports were not yet ready.
asked— After we go away from here will the tithing stop or be continued, or will the be finished by voluntary contribution &c? He supposed it possible that may come here, and perhaps seek to gain the ascendency. &c. [p. ]
Coun. represented that it is impossible for one clerk to write all the reports today, but if the Captains will present their reports in writing the business can soon be done.
The ordered that the captains make out and present their reports in writing.
During the time the captains were preparing their reports the said he should propose to all our merchants to let us have all their money and goods, and we will leave our property here, and let them sell it together with our land and take their pay out of the sales, and if they are in debt, they can sell till their debts are paid.
He then made some remarks concerning theives in our midst, and said let all such be exposed to the mob, and let them be dealt with if they will not quit stealing. No man shall be allowed to take the first piccayune, who calculates to go along with us. Such men, who will steal, shall go with the mob to hell where they belong. If we will do [p. ] what is right, he will warrant that every man will come out right and we shall triump over our enemies.
Of the 25 companies of 100 families each now organizing, 20 companies by their captains made report, the sum total of said reports are as follows
916 Horses, 639 Wagons, 18 Buggs [buggies], 227 Yoke of Oxen 251 Cows, 54 men and Guns, and 70 teams ready to start at one hours notice.
Coun. arose to make some remarks concerning men and women teaching rediculous doctrines, saying that a woman cannot get an endowmant without a man, nor a man without a woman &c.
The proposed to the capns. of 100s & 50s. to use their influence to have as few women and children as possible, go with the first company, but let us go and prepare a place for them, so that they can follow in the spring, bringing their cows and other things to make themselves comfortable.
He shall want all those men who are in danger [p. ] and who are likely to be hunted with writs, to go and take their families. He also wants an influence to go from this council to have the saints quit making robes, and meeting to pray in their garments.
Moved, secd. & carried unanimously that we agree with the s proposition, in relation to as many as can, leaving their families.
After instructions on various subjects by the and several items of business in regard to arrangements for going away &c the Council adjourned to next Sunday at 10 A.M. And the whole with captains of 50