Minutes and Discourse, circa 7 July 1834

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  • Historical Introduction

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July 7th 1834.
Agreeable to adjournment the assembled at the house of — and opened the meeting by singing,— age after age has rowled away, &c. and prayer by Joseph Smith jun. Present fifteen ,— eight , four , eight , three ,— together with A number of Members
After which br. Joseph Smith jun proceeded to give the Council such instruction (relative to their high calling) as would enable them to proceed and minister in their office— agreeable to the pattern given heretofore;— also read to them the [p. 43] Revelation speaking on the subject— He also informed them if he should now be taken away that he had accomplished the great work which the Lord had laid before him, and that which he had desired of the Lord, and that he now had done his duty in organizing the , through which Council the will of the Lord might be known on all importent occasions in the building up of , and establishing truth in the earth.
A vote was then taken whether the brethren that were appointed on the 3rd of July should stand according to appoinment. The vote was clear in their behalf.
Br. Joseph Smith jr. then proceeded and the three . as President and & assistants and their twelve Counsellors.
The twelve Counsellors then proceeded to cast lots to know who should speak first, and the order in which they should speak which is as follows:
No. 1 No. 2.
" 3. " 4.
" 5 " 6.
" 7. " 8
" 9. " 10
" 11 " 12
After which came forward and blessed three of his sons in the name of the Lord Viz: , & . And also blessed his son in the name of the Lord.
After the council of High Priests were organized the , came forward and stated to the Council that a greater responsibility devolved upon him than before as he had not the privilege of counselling with any of the high council save one of the Presidents and his own Counsellors, and desired to have the prayers of all the Church that he might be able to act in his station in righteousness.
After which br. Joseph Smith jr. laid the case of before the council to have their descision whether he should take his family to and when it shall be wisdom for him to go. As it has been deemed necessary for him to go and assist in the printing establishment. [p. 44]
Nominated voted and carried that four of the Counsellors <​shall​> speak on the subject, two on each side. Viz: & on the side of the plaintif, and & in behalf of the . After they had said on this subject all th[e]y had to say, the Presidnt descided that it is the duty of Br. to go to to assist in the printing business and that his family remain in this region of country and that he have an honorable discharge of his station in this place for a season (as soon as he can accomplish his business in this place) signed by the & .
Proposed by br. that br. the of the Church in should go to as being one of the three witnesses and assist in promoting the cause of Christ.
The case was argued by br. & in behalf of the Plantiff, and & for the church. And after their pleadings it was descided that br. go to the East and assist in the great work of the and be his own Judge, as to leaving his family or taking them with him. And also that and go to the East. all the above named brethrn to prepare and go as soon as convenient
After all this was done the afore mentioned , , , . & Members covenanted with uplifted hands to heaven that they would uphold Br. as President, head and leader in Zion (in the absence of br. Joseph Smith jr.) and & as assistants Presidents and Counsellors, also covenanted to uphold him and one another at the throne of grace.
Council closed. Prayer by President.
Clerk. [p. 45]


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    On 27 February 1833, a song beginning with the words, “Age after age has rolled away, according to the sad fate of man,” was sung in an unknown language and translated by the gift of tongues. The translation was written in Revelation Book 2. A later printing of the song, titled “Mysteries of God,” states that it was sung by David W. Patten and translated by Sidney Rigdon. William W. Phelps took the song and turned it into a twenty-three-verse hymn that he published in The Evening and the Morning Star under the heading “Songs of Zion.” The first verse read, “Age after age has roll’d away / Since man first dwelt in mortal clay; / And countless millions slept in death, / That once supplied a place on earth.” (Song, 27 Feb. 1833, in Revelation Book 2, pp. 48–49; Mysteries of God, as Revealed to Enoch, on the Mount Mehujah [no publisher: not before 1838], copy at CHL; “Songs of Zion,” The Evening and the Morning Star, May 1833, [8]; see also Hicks, Mormonism and Music, 36.)  

    Murray, Joyce Martin, and Martin Richard Murray. Greene County, Tennessee, Deed Abstracts, 1810–1822. 2 vols. Dallas, TX: J. M. Murphy, 1996.Mysteries of God, As Revealed to Enoch, on the Mount Mehujah, and Sung in Tongues by Elder D. W. Patton, of the “Church of Latter Day Saints,” (Who Fell a Martyr to the Cause of Christ, in the Missouri Persecution,) and Interpreted by Elder S. Rigdon. Broadside, [After 1838]. Copy at CHL.

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

    Hicks, Michael. Mormonism and Music: A History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

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    The 19 February 1834 meeting of the Kirtland high council in which its constitution was approved consisted of twenty-six high priests, eighteen elders, three priests, one teacher, and fourteen “private members.” (Minutes, 19 Feb. 1834.)  

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    As John Whitmer later explained, the Missouri high council was organized “according to the Patron [pattern] received in Kirtland Ohio.” (Whitmer, History, 68; see also Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102].)  

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    Minutes, 3 July 1834.  

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    The process of drawing lots to determine who would speak first was prescribed in the constitution of the Kirtland high council. (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:12].)  

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    A later JS history clarifies Partridge’s statement: “Bishop Partridge stated to the council that a greater responsibility rested upon him than before their organization as it was not his privilege to counsel with any of them except the president, and his own counselors.” The high council served as an appellate court for business that “could not be settled by the Bishop and his council,” which may be why Partridge believed that he could not consult with those serving as counselors, even though he had likely counseled with many of them on matters of church business before. Partridge’s counselors were Isaac Morley and John Corrill. (JS History, vol. A-1, 511, 513; Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:2]; Minutes, ca. 3–4 June 1831.)  

    JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). Historian’s Office, History of the Church, 1839–ca. 1882. CHL. CR 100 102, boxes 1–7. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.

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    At a 23 June 1834 council in Missouri, Phelps was told to “help carry on the printing establishment in Kirtland till Zion is reedeamed.” (Minutes, 23 June 1834.)  

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    The constitution of the Kirtland high council stated that if the council determined that a case was a difficult one, four counselors were designated to speak on it. (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:13].)  

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    Phelps was not a plaintiff in the sense that he was bringing a complaint or charge before the council; he was instead the one raising the question.  

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    David Whitmer, the president of the high council. According to the constitution of the Kirtland high council, “After the evidences are heared . . . the president shall give a decision according to the understanding which he shall have of the case.” (Revised Minutes, 18–19 Feb. 1834 [D&C 102:19].)  

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    In accordance with this decision, Phelps and his son Waterman left the rest of their family in Missouri and, on 28 April 1835, departed for Kirtland, Ohio, remaining there until 9 April 1836. (Whitmer, History, 70, 84; Van Orden, “Writing to Zion,” 545; Partridge, Diary, 9 Apr. 1836.)  

    Van Orden, Bruce A. “Writing to Zion: The William W. Phelps Kirtland Letters (1835–1836).” BYU Studies 33, no. 3 (1993): 542–593.

    Partridge, Edward. Diaries, 1818 and 1835–1836. Edward Partridge, Papers, 1818–1839. CHL. MS 892, box 1, fds. 1–2.

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    Whitmer was one of three witnesses of the Book of Mormon who testified that an angel had shown them the gold plates and that they knew the plates had been “translated by the gift and power of God.” The minutes of a council held in Missouri on 23 June 1834 state that Whitmer was “called and chosen . . . to receive an endowment from on high in Kirtland.” (Testimony of Three Witnesses, Late June 1829; Minutes, 23 June 1834.)  

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    John Whitmer was selected by a 23 June 1834 council in Missouri “to receive his endowment in Kirtland with power from on high.” There is no record of McLellin receiving similar instructions from this council. (Minutes, 23 June 1834.)  

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    David Whitmer left for Kirtland around the first of September 1834 and stayed there at least through the dedication of the Kirtland House of the Lord in March 1836. Records indicate he had returned to Missouri by July 1837. John Whitmer departed for Kirtland on 28 April 1835 and remained there until the House of the Lord had been dedicated. William E. McLellin left with JS for Kirtland on 9 July 1834 and stayed there until fall 1836. (Whitmer, Daybook, 24 Aug. 1834; Oliver Cowdery, Editorial, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:3; Minute Book 2, 29 July 1837; Whitmer, History, 70; JS, Journal, 27 Mar. 1836; Porter, “Odyssey of William Earl McLellin,” 312, 322.)  

    Whitmer, John. Daybook, 1832–1878. CHL. MS 1159.

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

    Porter, Larry C. “The Odyssey of William Earl McLellin: Man of Diversity, 1806–83.” In The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831–1836, edited by Jan Shipps and John W. Welch, 291–378. Provo, UT: BYU Studies; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.