Minutes, 24 September 1834

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

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Minutes of a of the , Sept. 24th. 1834
Joseph Smith Junr.Presiding
1 2 <​1​>
2 3 <​2​>
John Johnson 3 4 <​3​>
4 5 <​4​>
5 5
6 6
Counsellors.— [p. 74]
The came to order and the counsellors were called, when it was found that & were absent. After prayer the president made some appropriate remarks, when the counsellors four of their number to Speak. The case of brother was called up to inquire whether under existing circumstances he can fill the office of high counsellor. It was decided that four counsellors speak on the case.
The counsellors severally spoke in their courses, followed by , after which the assisting presidents spake, when brother Joseph proceeded to give a decision.— That stand no longer a high counsellor but that he retain the office of and cont[i]nue to lift up his voice in the name of Jesus, in preaching the Gospel. The names of the counsellors were then called and severally gave their assent to the decision when gave his own assent with thankfulness.
The council then proceeded to fill the vacancy occasioned by the removal of brother from the office of high counsellor. Brother Joseph nominated brother , to fill the vacant office, which was seconded by the clerk. The counsellors then voted for the nomination, as also the conference present. Brother Joseph then took the lead in prayer, after which he to the office of high counsellor, pronouncing the blessing of the Lord upon him in his name. After which brother proceeded to bless him also in the name of the Lord, confirming the same blessing The counsellors then appointed to fill the vacancies occasioned by the absence of brethren & . Brethren and , in this [p. 75]
The then proceeded to appoint a committee to arrange the items of the doctrine of Jesus Christ for the government of the which church was organized and commenced its rise on the 6th of April 1830. These items are to be taken from the bible, book of mormon, and the revelations which have been given to the church up to this date or shall be, until such arrangement is made. Brother then nominated brethren Joseph Smith Junr. , and , to compose said committee which was seconded by brother . The Counsellors then gave their vote, which was also agreed to by the whole conference. The council then decided that said committee, after arranging and publishing said book of covenants, have the avails of the same. The council then decided that a notice be published to the churches and conferences abroad, that be hereafter, in the high council at , signed by the clerk of the council. The counsellors decided that brother be privileged to make such arrangements with his , as he shall deem most advisable considering his present embarrassed circumstances. Closed in prayer by brother
The next arrangement for the High council will be as follows.
[p. 76]


  1. 1

    According to the minutes of the founding of the high council, those who drew odd lots—numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11—spoke for the church or the accuser, while those who drew even lots—numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12—spoke for the accused. As shown at the end of these minutes, the high council sometimes ordered itself at the end of a council for its next meeting. That may have been done here, as neither Jared Carter nor Martin Harris was present to draw lots. The numbering system here is unique in that scribes typically did not assign a numbering arrangement for the list of high counselors. It seems the scribe must have ordered the lists numerically according to the side for which the counselors were to speak, rather than by even and odd numbers. (Minutes, 17 Feb. 1834; Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:12–18].)  

  2. 2

    For a description of the duties and responsibilities of this office, see Minutes, 17 Feb. 1834.  

  3. 3

    Since Luke Johnson and Orson Hyde both participated in the Camp of Israel, they had witnessed at least some of the interactions between JS and Sylvester Smith on that march. All four of those chosen to speak were familiar with the particulars of the case, as they had all listened to and discussed the matter at earlier hearings. Those whose names are on the left side of the list likely spoke on behalf of the church, while those whose names are on the right side likely spoke on behalf of the accused. Since Sylvester Smith was the accused, he was replaced by Hyde. (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:12–18]; Account with the Church of Christ, ca. 11–29 Aug. 1834.)  

  4. 4

    In the letter he was required to publish, Sylvester Smith acknowledged, as a contrite “lover of righteousness and truth,” the conflicts he had experienced with JS and expressed his faults in accusing JS, who, Smith stated, “had conducted worthily, and adorned his profession as a man of God, while journeying to and from Missouri.” Smith closed his letter, stating, “I have received testimony from the heavens, that the work of the Lord, brought forth by means of the book of Mormon, in our day, through the instrumentality of bro. Joseph Smith jr. is eternal truth, and must stand, though the heavens and the earth pass away.” (Sylvester Smith to Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, 28 Oct. 1834, in LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:10–11.)  

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

  5. 5

    The minutes list two clerks, Oliver Cowdery and Orson Hyde. It is not clear which clerk seconded this nomination by JS.  

  6. 6

    The rules governing the high council state that “whenever any vacancy shall occur by death, removeal from office, for transgression, or removal from the bounds of this church government of any one of the above named counsellors, it shall be filled by the nomination of the president, or presidents and sanctioned by the voice of a general Council of high priests convened for that purpose to act in the name of the Church.” (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:8].)  

  7. 7

    At the organizational meetings of the Kirtland and Missouri high councils, fathers in attendance blessed their sons who were called to the high council. (See Minutes, 19 Feb. 1834; and Minutes and Discourse, ca. 7 July 1834.)  

  8. 8

    Greene and Young served in this capacity only for this meeting. According to the minutes at the creation of the high council, at least seven standing members of the council were required to be present in order to conduct business. Seven or more members had the “power to appoint other high priests whom they may consider worthy and capable to act in the place of absent counsellors.” (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:7].)  

  9. 9

    The portion of these minutes eventually published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants starts at this point. The heading to the published version begins: “The Assembly being duly organized, and after transacting certain business of the church, proceeded . . .” (“General Assembly,” in Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., 255.)  

  10. 10

    The 1835 published version includes the word “day” here. (“General Assembly,” in Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., 255.)  

  11. 11

    This word is replaced by “Elder” in the 1835 published version. (“General Assembly,” in Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., 255.)  

  12. 12

    The phrase “then nominated brethren” is replaced by “for the assembly, moved that presiding elders” in the 1835 published version. (“General Assembly,” in Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., 255.)  

  13. 13

    JS, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams composed the presidency of the high priesthood and had been given stewardship over the entire church. They were also members of the Literary Firm, which had responsibility over the revelations and the printing of “sacred things.” Oliver Cowdery, also a member of the Literary Firm, served as a steward over printing operations in Kirtland. These four men were credited with compiling the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants and were listed on the title page of that publication as “Presiding Elders of said Church.” By the time of publication, Cowdery had been added to the presidency. (Revelation, 23 Apr. 1834 [D&C 104:28–30, 58, 63]; Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., title page; Account of Meetings, Revelation, and Blessing, 5–6 Dec. 1834.)  

  14. 14

    The word “which” is replaced by “The nomination” in the 1835 published version. (“General Assembly,” in Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., 255.)  

  15. 15

    This arrangement was similar to that made in November 1831 when six men were named “stewards over the revelations” and were instructed to share the profits from the publication and sale of the Book of Commandments. (Revelation, 12 Nov. 1831 [D&C 70:1–8]; Minutes, 12 Nov. 1831.)  

  16. 16

    The notice was published in the October 1834 issue of the Messenger and Advocate with the signatures of Oliver Cowdery and Orson Hyde as clerks of the council. It read: “Resolved, That a notice be published to the conferences and churches abroad, signed by the clerks of the Council, that it is hereby decided, for the general good of the church, as a body, that no individual ordained hereafter, to the High Priesthood, will be acknowledged in that office except they are ordained in this Council: and that those desiring that office, obtain proper recommends from their respective churches.” (“Extract from the Minutes of the High Council,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:13, italics in original.)  

    Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

  17. 17

    In fall 1834, Whitney owed over $2,000 to New York merchants for purchases made for the Kirtland storehouse in October 1833. In his role as bishop, and per an early June 1833 revelation, Whitney managed the French farm property, where the House of the Lord was being constructed, and was responsible for the outstanding payments on that mortgage. One scholar postulates that Whitney’s ashery, which was used to convert ashes into lye, may have been largely destroyed by fire in fall 1834, resulting in the loss of a major source of income for Whitney. (Frederick G. Williams, Kirtland, OH, to “Dear Brethren,” 10 Oct. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, p. 58; “New York Account Book Sept. 1834,” [3]–[9], Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU; Minutes, 4 June 1833; Revelation, 4 June 1833 [D&C 96:2]; Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 17, pp. 38–39, 10 Apr. 1833; pp. 360–361, 17 June 1833, microfilm 20,237, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Staker, “Thou Art the Man,” 118; see also Minutes, 23 Mar. 1833–A; and Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 17, pp. 359–360, 10 Apr. 1833, microfilm 20,237, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    JS Letterbook 1 / Smith, Joseph. “Letter Book A,” 1832–1835. Joseph Smith Collection. CHL. MS 155, box 2, fd. 1.

    Whitney, Newel K. Papers, 1825–1906. BYU.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

    Staker, Mark L. “‘Thou Art the Man’: Newel K. Whitney in Ohio.” BYU Studies 42, no. 1 (2003): 75–138.

  18. 18

    This list represents the new composition of the standing high council, with Hyrum Smith replacing Sylvester Smith as a standing member.  

  19. 19

    TEXT: Coe’s and Johnson’s names are written sideways.