Minutes, 15 March 1838

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

The of , together with the met in , on Saturday Thursday March the 15th 1838, agreeable to appointment and was organized as follows. President Joseph Smith jr took the charge of the Council
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The Council opened by singing “This earth was once a garden place &c.” and prayer by Prest Joseph Smith jr.
The minutes of some previous Councils were read by the
First, The minutes of a Council held on Saturday the 24th of February 1838, when it was voted— First
That the 6th article of the said minutes be null & void & also, that a new article be put in the place of it (which was done)—
President Joseph Smith jr gave a history of the of , which took place in July 1834, to be a leader, or a prophet to this , which (ordination) was on conditions that he (J. Smith jr) did not live to God himself.
President J. Smith jr approved of the proceedings of the High Council, after hearing the minutes of the former Councils.
The Council ajourned for one hour.
7-o’clock P.M. The Council and Bishoprick convened agreeably to adjournment and was [p. 108]


  1. 1

    The Zion bishopric often met with the Zion high council. The high council had recently invited the bishopric to meet with the council to help resolve problems with presidency members William W. Phelps and John Whitmer, and the bishopric continued to meet with the council in subsequent gatherings. (Minute Book 2, 3 and 5–7 Apr. 1837; see also Minute Book 2, 11 June 1837–17 Mar. 1838.)  

  2. 2

    The high council and bishopric may have met in a schoolhouse, as they had on some occasions in 1837 and as they did on 24 February and 17 March 1838. (Minute Book 2, 29 July and 5 Aug. 1837; 24 Feb. and 17 Mar. 1838; see also JS, Journal, 6 Aug. 1838.)  

  3. 3

    The council presumably arranged this meeting on 10 March 1838, during the previous council meeting. (Minute Book 2, 10 Mar. 1838.)  

  4. 4

    A month earlier, Thomas B. Marsh, who was the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and David W. Patten, who was the next most-senior apostle, had replaced the recently removed Zion presidency as temporary presidents. Marsh and Patten had expected to preside over the church in Zion until JS moved there. (Letter from Thomas B. Marsh, 15 Feb. 1838; JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, p. 16.)  

  5. 5

    Carter was apparently substituting for Elisha Groves, who had moved from Far West; Carter soon replaced Groves permanently. (Minutes, 7–8 Apr. 1838.)  

  6. 6

    Young, a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was apparently substituting for Calvin Beebe, who had moved from Far West. (Minute Book 2, 23 Dec. 1837; Minutes, 24 Mar. 1838; Minutes, 7–8 Apr. 1838.)  

  7. 7

    Winchester was substituting for George Morey. (See Minute Book 2, 10 and 17 Mar. 1838.)  

  8. 8

    Martin was substituting for Newel Knight. Martin had spoken strongly against the former members of the Zion presidency in their February trial. (Letter from Thomas B. Marsh, 15 Feb. 1838; see also Minute Book 2, 10 and 17 Mar. 1838.)  

  9. 9

    Harris was apparently substituting for Lyman Wight, who had moved from Far West; Harris soon replaced Wight permanently. (Minutes, 7–8 Apr. 1838.)  

  10. 10

    Hymn 23, Collection of Sacred Hymns, 29–30.  

  11. 11

    During the council meeting held on 24 February 1838, those present passed resolutions to regulate “the several Branches with in the bounds of this Stake.” These measures were apparently designed to stop the former members of the Zion presidency and those who sympathized with them from taking charge of any of the settlements around Far West. (Minute Book 2, 24 Feb. 1838.)  

  12. 12

    Article 6 recommended that all high priests, elders, and priests in the settlements around Far West “take the lead of all meetings” in their settlements. This article was replaced by the third resolution, which stated that high priests, elders, and priests were not to take the lead of meetings without the “invitation or consent of the Presiding officer of that branch,” who was the branch-appointed teacher. The third resolution further stipulated that the presiding teacher had authority to object to any church officer “who may come among them, to officiate, who is not in good standing or a friend to the true cause of Christ” and that the presiding teacher should report to the high council anyone who was “unruly” or teaching “corrupt doctrine” in the settlement. (Far West Stake High Council Minutes, 24 Feb. 1838; Minute Book 2, 24 Feb. 1838.)  

    Far West Stake High Council Minutes, Dec. 1837–Mar. 1838. CHL.

  13. 13

    In February 1831, JS dictated a revelation for church members regarding his authority: “This ye shall know asshuredly that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments & Revelations untill he be taken if he abide in me. but Verily Verily I say unto you that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.”a JS ordained Whitmer the president of the church in Zion in 1834. Whitmer and others later recounted that JS had also ordained Whitmer as JS’s successor,b and some of the dissidents in Kirtland sought to replace JS with Whitmer as church president. The minutes of the 10 March 1838 high council meeting, which JS was probably reviewing in this 15 March meeting, included a letter from Whitmer and his former counselors, which they signed as the Zion presidency, thus rejecting the decision of the 5–9 February general assembly that removed them from office. Furthermore, the letter rejected as illegal the actions planned for the 10 March high council meeting, including the excommunication of Phelps and John Whitmer.c  

    Whitmer, David. An Address to All Believers in Christ. Richmond, MO: By the author, 1887.

    Ensign of Liberty. Kirtland, OH. Mar. 1847–Aug. 1849.

    Quinn, D. Michael. The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power. Salt Lake City: Signature Books with Smith Research Associates, 1994.

    Historian’s Office. Brigham Young History Drafts, 1856–1858. CHL. CR 100 475, box 1, fd. 5.

    (aRevelation, Feb. 1831–A [D&C 43:3–4].bMinutes and Discourse, ca. 7 July 1834; Whitmer, Address to All Believers in Christ, 55; [William E. McLellin], Editorial, Ensign of Liberty, Mar. 1847, 5–6; William E. McLellin, Kirtland, OH, to David Whitmer, 2 Dec. 1846, in Ensign of Liberty, Apr. 1847, 18–19; “The Successor of Joseph, the Seer,” Ensign of Liberty, Dec. 1847, 43–44; see also Quinn, Origins of Power, 187–189.cHistorian’s Office, Brigham Young History Drafts, 14; Minute Book 2, 10 Mar. 1838; Letter from Thomas B. Marsh, 15 Feb. 1838.)
  14. 14

    In addition to the minutes of the 24 February high council meeting, JS apparently reviewed the minutes of the 10 March 1838 meeting, in which William W. Phelps and John Whitmer were excommunicated.