Lost Teachings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Other Church Leaders

Gerrit J. Dirkmaat

Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, “Lost Teachings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Other Church Leaders,” in The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History, ed. Matthew J. Grow and R. Eric Smith (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2017), 73-90.

Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University, has coedited several volumes of The Joseph Smith Papers, including Council of Fifty, Minutes: March 1844 - January 1846 (2016). He is coauthor of From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith's Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon (2015).

The publication of the record of the Nauvoo Council of Fifty by The Joseph Smith Papers (JSP) and the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is easily one of the most important events of the last decade for expanding our understanding of early Mormon history. Only the JSP’s publication of the Book of Commandments and Revelations, the earliest record of many of Joseph Smith’s revelations, rivals the publication of this important document, which has hitherto been inaccessible to historians. For those who have hungered after the new material that is being brought to light by the JSP, the Council of Fifty record not only contains precious nuggets but is a veritable treasure trove of new information. Researchers will learn much about the last few months of Joseph Smith’s life and the dramatic, event-filled months that followed, culminating in the Mormons’ winter departure from Nauvoo.

For members of the Church who may see examining such a massive record as a daunting prospect, they may be most interested in the teachings and insights of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other Church leaders contained in the record. Because the record of the Council of Fifty has never been published before, many of these apostolic and prophetic teachings have been lost to history until now. Some of these priceless insights will no doubt eventually make their way into lesson manuals, general conference talks, Sunday School lessons, and other Latter-day Saint literature. This article will highlight many of these teachings.

Joseph Smith on the Function and Purpose of Councils

Joseph and Hyrum SmithJoseph Smith (right), shown here with his brother and council member Hyrum Smith (left), encouraged council members to candidly share their views. Attributed to Sutcilffe Maudsley. Courtesy of Church History Museum.

The Council of Fifty was organized with men from many different backgrounds. Some had been members of the Church from the earliest years; some had converted only recently. Some hailed from southern states, some northern, and others came from Canada or England. In fact, three members of the council were not members of the church at all, a point Joseph Smith wanted recorded and heralded. Joseph Smith taught how such an eclectic group could have productive meetings.

Council clerk William Clayton recorded in one of the earliest meetings,

“Prest. Joseph said he wanted all the brethren to speak their minds on this subject and to say what was in their hearts whether good or bad. He did not want to be forever surrounded by a set of ‘dough heads’ and if they did not rise up and shake themselves and exercise themselves in discussing these important matters he should consider them nothing better than ‘dough heads.’ ”[1]

A few weeks later Joseph provided further instructions on the importance of sharing differing thoughts and opinions in councils. Clayton recorded that Joseph “commenced by showing, that the reason why men always failed to establish important measures was, because in their organization they never could agree to disagree long enough to select the pure gold from the dross by the process of investigation.”[2]

The council made various assignments to committees and individuals. The members of one committee, charged with the daunting task of writing a constitution for the kingdom of God (that is, the council), were unsure how to proceed. Feeling the weight of such an assignment, worried that what they produced would not be acceptable to the Lord or to other members of the council, they asked if Joseph Smith would join with them to aid them in crafting their document. In response, Joseph explained the necessity of his remaining separate from such discussions. He wanted the committee members to struggle to find all the truth they could and then bring the document to him for inspired correction. Perhaps Joseph realized that if he were part of the committee, the members would be too deferential to him and would not learn to search for truth and to make up their own minds. He also wanted the men to see the limits of their own wisdom.

Prest. J. Smith arose and said that the committee were first appointed to bring forth all the intelligence they could, and when their productions were presented to him he could correct the errors and fill the interstices where it was lacking. He had considered that a Theocracy consisted in our exercising all the intelligence of the council, and bringing forth all the light which dwells in the breast of every man, and then let God approve of the document & receiveing the sanction of the council it becomes a law. Theocracy as he understands it is, for the people to get the voice of God and then acknowledge it, and see it executed. It is necessary for the council to exhaust their wisdom, and except they do they will never know but they are as wise as God himself and ambitious men will, like Lucifer think they are as wise as God and will try to lift themselves up and put their foot on the necks of others. There has always been some man to put himself forward and say I am the great I &c. I want the council to exert all their wisdom in this thing, and when they see that they cannot get a perfect law themselves, and I can, then, they will see from whence wisdom flows. I know I can get the voice of God on the subject. Vox populi, Vox Dei. The voice of the people assenting to the voice of God. . . . I dont want to be ranked with that committee I am a committee of myself, and cannot mingle with any committee in such matters. The station which I hold is an independant one and ought not to be mingled with any thing else. Let the Committee get all the droppings they can from the presence of God and bring it to me, and if it needs correction or enlargement I am ready to give it. The principles by which the world can be governed is the principle of two or three being united. Faith cannot exist without a concentration of two or three. The sun, moon and planets roll on that principle. If God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost were to disagree, the worlds would clash together in an instant. . . . From henceforth let it be understood that I shall not associate with any committee I want every man to get knowledge, search the laws of nations and get all the information they can. There can be no exceptions taken to any thing that any man can say in this council. I dont want any man ever to assent to any thing in this council and then find fault with it. Dont decide in favor of any thing untill you know it. Every man ought to study Geography, Governments and languages, so that he may be able to go forth to any nation and before any multitude with eloquence.[3]

Joseph Smith on Religious Tolerance and Defending Religious Freedom

During the April 11, 1844, meeting of the council, Joseph gave a moving sermon on the importance of religious liberty. Having been on the receiving end of local, state, and federal government failures to protect Mormons and their rights, Joseph insisted that any government formed by God and every member of the council should respect and protect the rights of every religious group. Poignantly, and perhaps with a notion that his own death was approaching, Joseph extolled the virtues of friendship and ominously confided, “The only thing I am afraid of is, that I will not live long enough to enjoy the society of these my friends as long as I want to.”[4] William Clayton not only captured the words spoken by Joseph in detail but also attempted to convey the passion with which Joseph spoke, concluding the account by explaining, “While the president was speaking on these subjects he felt animated and used a 24 inch gauge or rule pretty freely till finally he broke it in two in the middle.”[5]

For the benifit of mankind and succeeding generations he [Joseph Smith] wished it to be recorded that there are men admitted members of this honorable council, who are not members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, neither profess any creed or religious sentiment whatever, to show that in the organization of this kingdom men are not consulted as to their religious opinions or notions in any shape or form whatever and that we act upon the broad and liberal principal that all men have equal rights, and ought to be respected, and that every man has a privilege in this organization of choosing for himself voluntarily his God, and what he pleases for his religion, inasmuch as there is no danger but that every man will embrace the greatest light. God cannot save or damn a man only on the principle that every man acts, chooses and worships for himself; hence the importance of thrusting from us every spirit of bigotry and intollerance towards a mans religious sentiments, that spirit which has drenched the earth with blood— When a man feels the least temptation to such intollerance he ought to spurn it from him. It becomes our duty on account of this intollerance and corruption—the inalienable right of man being to think as he pleases—worship as he pleases &c being the first law of every thing that is sacred—to guard every ground all the days of our lives. I will appeal to every man in this council beginning at the youngest that when he arrives to the years of Hoary age he will have to say that the principles of intollerance and bigotry never had a place in this kingdom, nor in my breast, and that he is even then ready to die rather than yeild to such things. Nothing can reclaim the human mind from its ignorance, bigotry, superstition &c but those grand and sublime principles of equal rights and universal freedom to all men. We must not despise a man on account of infirmity. We ought to love a man more for his infirmity. Nothing is more congenial to my feelings and principles, than the principles of universal freedom and has been from the beginning. If I can know that a man is susceptible of good feelings & integrity and will stand by his friends, he is my friend. The only thing I am afraid of is, that I will not live long enough to enjoy the society of these my friends as long as I want to. Let us from henceforth drive from us every species of intollerance. When a man is free from it he is capable of being a critic. When I have used every means in my power to exalt a mans mind, and have taught him righteous principles to no effect—he is still inclined in his darkness, yet the same principles of liberty and charity would ever be manifested by me as though he embraced it. Hence in all governments or political transactions a mans religious opinions should never be called in question. A man should be judged by the law independant of religious prejudice, hence we want in our constitution those laws which would require all its officers to administer justice without any regard to his religious opinions, or thrust him from his office. There is only two or three things lacking in the constitution of the United States. If they had said all men born equal, and not only that but they shall have their rights, they shall be free, or the armies of the government should be compelled to enforce those principles of liberty. And the President or Governor who does not do this, and who does not enforce those principles he shall lose his head. When a man is thus bound by a constitution he cannot refuse to protect his subjects, he dare not do it. And when a Governor or president will not protect his subjects he ought to be put away from his office.

. . . When a man can enjoy his liberties and has the power of civil officers to protect him, how happy he is.[6]

Brigham Young and John Taylor on Continuing Revelation

In their efforts to discern how best to create a new constitution for the coming kingdom of God on earth, council members shared multiple viewpoints. Some were hesitant to write a draft of the constitution for fear of making a mistake. Responding to the discussions by reminding council members of Joseph Smith’s prophetic authority, senior apostle Brigham Young declared that

he had no fears but God would organize the kingdom right, and what he has seen in this assembly was nothing more than what he had looked for. At the first meeting, when the president [Joseph Smith] stated that this was the commencement of the organization of the kingdom of God. He then felt as exalted views as he could do. He contemplated kings, governments as they are. They sunk into oblivion when he compared them with this kingdom, which was only in embryo, and it would soon send forth its influence throughout the nations. There will no doubt be a regular organization. He has heard much said on the subject of bringing forth a constitution, but he considered himself highly honored to have this privilege of being accounted a fool, that when we had done all we were capable to do, we could have the Lord speak and tell us what is right. There is a great deal allready written We can form to ourselves independant of the word of the Lord the best system of government on the earth; but after all this, when we have done all the Lord will make it just right. He can form a constitution by which he is willing to be governed. He is willing to be ruled by the means which God will appoint. He dont believe we can adopt laws for the government of people in futurity. We can, for the time being, point out laws for present necessities. He supposed there has not yet been a perfect revelation given, because we cannot understand it, yet we receive a little here and a little there. He should not be stumbled if the prophet should translate the bible forty thousand times over and yet it should be different in some places every time, because when God speake, he always speaks according to the capacity of the people. The starting point for the government of the kingdom is in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, but he does not know how much more there is in the bosom of the Almighty. When God sees that his people have enlarged upon what he has given us he will give us more. The sta[r]ting point is here, but God has not come here, He has sent his agent, his minister to act in his name. And if he has got an agent to dictate to us here the organization is here. When a man is clothed with authority to do all business for those who sent him, what he does [is?] right, and this is the kind of agent we have got, and God appointed him We did not appoint him. If the Lord Almighty calls upon one of his servants as a minister, the nation to whom he is sent has no control over him whatever. If the Latter Day Saints believe that our prophet is fallen what are they going to do? How will they help themselves? It is the prerogative of the Almighty to differ from his subjects in what he pleases, or how, or when he pleases, and what will they do; they must bow to it, or kick themselves to death, or to hell. He [Joseph Smith] can disagree with the whole church as he has a mind, and how? Because he is a perfect committee of himself. . . . He would rather have the pure revelations of Jesus Christ as they now stand, to carry to the nations, than any thing else.[7]

In this same meeting, apostle John Taylor shared similar sentiments about revelation flowing from God through his prophet. As a member of the committee assigned to draft the new constitution, Taylor poignantly felt the need for revelation through Joseph Smith:

If they can get intelligence from God they can write correct principles, if not, they cannot. He was always convinced that no power can guide us right but the wisdom of God. It needed a revelation from God to shew the very first principles of the kingdom of God. No one knew how to baptize or lay on hands untill it was revealed through our chairman. National affairs are equally as far fallen and degenerate as religious matters. This nation is as far fallen and degenerate as any nation under heaven. When we were in the world, we were ignorant with regard to correct principles. We are now a little differently situated. We have a portion of the spirit, but if we get the document any where right it will be because God gives it; and if not, we know nothing but what either you [Joseph Smith] or God teaches us.[8]

Hyrum Smith on the Fulfillment of Prophecy and the Exercise of Faith

Photograph of painting by "Webber"The council records contain teachings of Hyrum Smith and other Church leaders. Photograph of painting by "Webber," circa 1833. Courtesy of Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

The council record also contains a few brief statements of Hyrum Smith. One of the founding members of the council and the patriarch of the Church, Hyrum spoke rarely in this venue, but each time he did, he spoke wholeheartedly in support of his brother Joseph and the aim of establishing the kingdom of God on earth:

Hyrum Smith followed the chairman and said that the time was at hand when the prophecies should be fulfilled, when the nations were ready to embrace the gospel and when the ensign should be lift up and the standard to the people and he believed if we will set up the standard and raise the ensign the honest in heart of all nations will immediately begin to flock to the standard of our God.[9]

On another occasion, Hyrum stated that the

observations by our Prest. so well accorded with his own feelings that he wanted to say a few words. When Moses was appointed to lead the people, God gave him Aaron to speak for him. When God called Enoch he wanted to know why God had done so inasmuch as he was an illiterate man &c. God told him to go forth and he would justify his words. Enoch went forth in the exercise of faith, not in the exercise of great words. God walked with him 300 years. Moses had power. before him Mount Sinai trembled and shook to the centre. Had Moses not gone forth in the exercise of faith he would not have accomplished the work which God sent him to do. We stand in the same light. We have greater power and are called to do a greater work. We have more power than Enoch and have a greater work to do than Enoch had and we shall accomplish it.” He then referred to the principles of a Theocracy and hopes every man will get into the spirit of his calling.[10]

Joseph Smith on the Kingdom of God versus the Church of God

One of the primary purposes of the Council of Fifty was to seek to establish the physical, or political, kingdom of God on earth. It planned for a government organization that would allow the Saints to worship God freely and construct a government on theocratic principles in whatever land they eventually settled upon. Naturally, this purpose of the council led to questions on the difference between the kingdom and the Church. Since so many Church leaders were at the head of the movement to create this new government, what would be the difference between the two entities? Joseph Smith provided that answer as well as commentary on the deficiency of the US Constitution in one key area:

There is a distinction between the Church of God and kingdom of God. The laws of the kingdom are not designed to effect our salvation hereafter. It is an entire, distinct and separate government. The church is a spiritual matter and a spiritual kingdom; but the kingdom which Daniel saw was not a spiritual kingdom, but was designed to be got up for the safety and salvation of the saints by protecting them in their religious rights and worship. Any thing that would tolerate man in the worship of his God under his own vine and fig-tree would be tolerated of God. The literal kingdom of God, and the church of God are two distinct things. The gifts of prophets, evangelists &c never were designed to govern men in civil matters. The kingdom of God has nothing to do with giving commandments to damn a man spiritually. It only has power to make a man amenable to his fellow man. God gave commandments that if a man killed &c he should be killed himself, but it did not damn him. In relation to the constitution of the United States, there is but one difficulty, and that is, the constitution provides the things which we want but lacks the power to carry the laws into effect. We want to alter it so as to make it imperative on the officers to enforce the protection of all men in their rights

He then shewed how the constitution ought to be amended.

Men are complaining all over the United States, and we have the most reason to complain.[11]

Joseph Smith Receives a Revelation for the Council

After many discussions about what language should be included in the proposed constitution for the kingdom of God on earth, Joseph Smith received a revelation to put the matter to rest. The revelation was never canonized but was reported in the later Utah-era council minutes.[12] The original minutes of the meeting capture the receipt of this unpublished revelation:

The chairman then made some further remarks and advised that we let the constitution alone.

He would tell us the whole matter about the constitution as follows—

Verily thus saith the Lord, ye are my constitution, and I am your God, and ye are my spokesmen. From henceforth do as I shall command you. Saith the Lord.[13]

Joseph Smith on Not Judging Others and on Avoiding Sinful Acts

In the council meeting held on May 3, 1844, there was apparently some objection to one of the newly proposed members of the council because of past transgressions. Joseph Smith taught:

We have no right to complain of others while we are as corrupt as they are. . . .

We should never indulge our appetites to injure our influence, or wound the feelings of friends, or cause the spirit of the Lord to leave us. There is no excuse for any man to drink and get drunk in the church of Christ, or gratify any appetite, or lust, contrary to the principles of righteousness.

The chairman continued to instruct the council on the principles of sobriety, and every thing pertaining to godliness at considerable length & concluded by remarking that it is best to run on a long race and be careful to keep good wind &c.[14]

Porter Rockwell’s Bitter Reaction to Joseph Smith’s Murder

When council meetings resumed in 1845 after the murder of Joseph Smith, several council members, including Porter Rockwell, expressed raw emotions at the loss. Because few of Rockwell’s contemporary statements exist, these words give rare insight into his passionate character and love for Joseph Smith.

O. P. Rockwell said I say yes to every thing that is good and right. . . . I was a friend to Joseph Smith while he lived. I am still his friend. He cant avenge his wrongs himself, but I mean to avenge them for him, and if I get into trouble I want you to help me if you can without criminating yourselves if not, let me go. I love my friends and hate my enemies. I cant love them if I would.[15]

John Taylor on Mistreatment of the Mormons

portrait of john taylorJohn Taylor, injured in the attacks that killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith, expressed exasperation and outrage toward government officials. Photograph, circa 1852, likely by Marsena Cannon. Courtesy of Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

In the aftermath of Joseph Smith’s murder and the continued threats of violence against Mormons in Illinois, several men in the council expressed their indignation both toward their persecutors and toward the government that refused to help the Mormons remain in Nauvoo in peace. John Taylor, still recovering from wounds received at Carthage, had lost all faith in the willingness of the American democracy to defend the rights of a despised minority. His exasperation, bitterness, and anger are demonstrated in these remarks from March 1845:

In regard to the situation of the world as it now exists I dont care a damn because they are as corrupt as the devil. We have no benifit from the laws of the land, and the only reason why they dont cut our throats is because they dare not, and as brother [Heber C.] Kimball says I dont care how often the bucket is turned up. Some cry out it will bring persecution, but they cannot lie about us, nor persecute us worse than they have done, and I go in for whipping the scoundrels when they come into our midst and if any of them come near me I will use my cane to them and I want my brethren to go and do likewise. This cursed Bettisworth [David Bettisworth, a constable] was here prowling round the City a few days ago. He was one who was trying to push our brethren into the Jail at Carthage, and he wanted to have them taken out without a guard that they might be shot down by the mob before they got to the Jail. I dont want such men to come near us, and if they come near me I feel like whipping them I dont care about excitement, we can stand it as long as they can. We know we have no more justice here, no more than we could get at the gates of hell, and the only thing we have got to do is to take care of ourselves. As to the other thing which has been proposed about seeking out a location in the West I don’t care how soon it go into operation. People talk about law and justice I go in for giving them the same kind of justice they give us. . . . I go in for a company being sent out to find out place where we can establish the kingdom, erect the standard and dwell in peace, and have our own laws.[16]

Brigham Young on Settling in the Great Salt Lake Area

Many of the later council meetings in Nauvoo are filled with discussions about precisely when the Mormons should leave Nauvoo and where they should go. Brigham Young felt he was carrying out Joseph Smith’s intention to settle in the mountains of the West. Some raised concerns that the Rocky Mountains were too high, too isolated, or too cold. Young responded that those misgivings were precisely why he wanted to settle there: to protect the Mormons from potential conflicts with other settlers as had happened in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Instead, Young wanted a place where “we can gather by thousands and dwell in peace.”[17]

Young sought a place where the Mormons could live and practice their religion without interference or harassment from mobs and the local, state, and national governments that had proven themselves at best indifferent and ineffectual in their responses to violence perpetrated against Mormons. At worst, those vaunted democratic institutions had at times conspired with the militant antagonists that sought to drive the Mormons first from Missouri and then from Illinois. Young and other members of the council believed they needed to find a place free from the tyranny that often resulted from unrestrained American democracy. At the March 1, 1845, council meeting, Young declared:

The propriety of fitting out this company for this expedition is what we want to enter into, how many shall go, and who, or whether any. We know this was one of Josephs measures and my feelings are, if we cannot have the priviledge of carrying out Josephs measures I would rather lie down and have my head cut off at once. To carry out Josephs measures is sweeter to me than the honey or the honey comb. I want to see the Lamanites come in by thousands and the time has come. While Joseph was living it seems as though he was hurried by the Lord all the time, and especially for the last year. It seemed he laid out work for this church which would last them twenty years to carry out. I used to wonder why it was, that he used to be hurried so, not supposing he was going to die, but now I understand the reason. With regard to the propriety of going ahead in this thing we are all of one mind. With regard to how and when and where to begin is what we what we want to investigate. I have no doubt or dubiety on my mind with regard to the Lord’s communicating the knowlege no more than I have that I can walk home When the Twelve have been separated from Joseph in England or the Eastern States or elswhere, I defy any man to point out the time when I was in the dark in regard to what should be done. I have not been in the dark pertaining to any matter. Some have been fearful that I would blunder in the dark but it is not so. When any person has any doubt and manifest to me a fear that the Twelve or authorities of the church will blunder in the dark, it always seems nonsense to me. I know as God lives that there is no man who will always go in the way of his duty, but God will keep him right, & preserve him untill he has accomplished his work, and there would not a gun have gone off in Carthage had not God seen that Joseph had done enough and he took him to rest.

There is no place but what we shall go along just right if we will be of one heart and one mind. The time has come when we must seek out a location. The yoke of the gentiles is broke, their doom is sealed, there is not the least fibre can possibly be discovered that binds us to the gentile world. It is for us to take care of ourselves and go and pick out a place where we can go and dwell in peace after we have finished the houses and got our endowment, not but that the Lord can give it to us in the wilderness, but I have no doubt we shall get it here. But we want a home where we can gather by thousands and dwell in peace. . . .

These are some matters laying before us and I want the brethren to speak their minds freely. I want the brethren to be patient stop and consider and dont get in a hurry. We can stop as long as we like, and meet as often as we have a mind to. Don’t be in a hurry. We are in eternity and have all eternity before us, and there is no need to be in a hurry.[18]

Later that year, Young identified the area of the Great Salt Lake as the intended destination:

The chairman [Young] 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 Temple 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.[19]

After Illinois governor Thomas Ford deliberately falsified reports of a federal army marching on Nauvoo and as other rumors began circulating of impending conflict, Young and the council made immediate plans to depart even though it was the middle of winter. Responding to the concerns about the climate and the isolation of the proposed Great Basin settlement, Young explained in a January 1846 meeting:

Now if we go between the mountains 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. . . . If we should [go?] there we can sustain ourselves comfortably and it will soon become the greatest market in America 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 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.[20]


These selected sermons, teachings, and discussions found in the Nauvoo Council of Fifty record not only demonstrate the value of this new publication but also typify the insights that can be gained about the various individuals whose discussions were recorded in this minute book. Readers will get to view many of the most prominent leaders of the Church in the late Nauvoo period as they grappled with ongoing threats of violence, religious questions, the logistics of a cross-continental emigration, apostasy, and the murder of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Few sources paint this kind of candid, multifaceted portrait of the personalities that members of the Church have come to revere as prophets and apostles.


[1] Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 10, 1844, in Matthew J. Grow, Ronald K. Esplin, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, and Jeffrey D. Mahas, eds., Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846, vol. 1 of the Administrative Records series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Ronald K. Esplin, Matthew J. Grow, and Matthew C. Godfrey (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2016), 39 (hereafter JSP, CFM).

[2] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 4, 1844, in JSP, CFM: 79.

[3] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 11, 1844, in JSP, CFM:91–93.

[4] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 11, 1844, in JSP, CFM:100.

[5] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 11, 1844, in JSP, CFM:101.

[6] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 11, 1844, in JSP, CFM:97–101.

[7] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 18, 1844, in JSP, CFM:119–20.

[8] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 18, 1844, in JSP, CFM:114–15.

[9] Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 19, 1844, in JSP, CFM:52.

[10] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 11, 1844, in JSP, CFM:93–94.

[11] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 18, 1844, in JSP, CFM:128–29.

[12] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 10, 1880, in L. John Nuttall, Notebook, 1880–82, Council of Fifty, Papers, 1845–83, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; see also Franklin D. Richards, Journals, 1844–1899, entry for April 10, 1880, Church History Library.

[13] Council of Fifty, Minutes, April 25, 1844, in JSP, CFM:135–37.

[14] Council of Fifty, Minutes, May 3, 1844, in JSP, CFM:139–40.

[15] Council of Fifty, Minutes, February 4, 1845, in JSP, CFM:223–24.

[16] Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1, 1845, in JSP, CFM:264–65.

[17] Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1, 1845, in JSP, CFM:258.

[18] Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1, 1845, in JSP, CFM:257–58, 260.

[19] Council of Fifty, Minutes, September 9, 1845, in JSP, CFM:471–72.

[20] Council of Fifty, Minutes, January 11, 1846, in JSP, CFM:518–19.