1 January 1840 (Wednesday). Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania

Times and Seasons 1 (May 1840): 104[1]

We had a conference here the first of Jan. 1840, J. Smith, Jr. S. Rigdon, [2] Orson, [3] P.P. Pratt, [4] and many other elders, were present. The minutes of the above, I will send to you as soon as convenient. [5] J. Smith, jr. bore testimony to the coming forth of the book of mormon which was the means of doing much good. [6]

—1 January 1840


[1] Not in History of the Church or Teachings. Joseph Smith left Nauvoo for Washington, D.C., on 29 October 1839 to lay before Congress the grievances of the Saints who were expelled from Missouri. After spending nearly a month at the capital, the Prophet went to Philadelphia, where he occupied several days "preaching and visiting from house to house, among the brethren and others" (History of the Church, 4:47). On 23 December 1839, the Prophet's birthday, Joseph presided at the organizing of a branch of the Church in Philadelphia. He may well have spoken on this occasion, but we have not found any record. Following are accounts of four discourses in the D.C. area, two at Philadelphia, one at Brandywine, and two variants of a discourse in Washington. Joseph Smith spoke publicly on several other occasions during this visit to the east, and further research may turn up records of them. It is known, for example, that Joseph Smith visited a branch of the Church in Monmouth County, New Jersey, in late December 1839 (see History of the Church, 4:49). George Woodward, who was present on the occasion, remembered that the Prophet preached at a meeting "upon astronomy and told where God resided. It was very interesting" (St. George Temple Minute Book, p. 45 [11 January 1900] Church Archives).

[2] Sidney Rigdon (1793-1876) was baptized in 1830. He served as a counselor to Joseph Smith in the Presidency from 1832-44.

[3] Orson Pratt (1811-81) was baptized in 1830 and ordained an apostle in 1835.

[4] Parley P. Pratt (1807-57) was baptized in 1830 and ordained an apostle in 1835.

[5] If the minutes were in fact sent, they were not published in the Times and Seasons.

[6] Parley P. Pratt left an account of this discourse in his Autobiography: "While visiting with brother Joseph in Philadelphia, a very large church was opened for him to preach in, and about three thousand people assembled to hear him. Brother Rigdon spoke first, and dwelt on the Gospel, illustrating his doctrine by the Bible. When he was through, brother Joseph arose like a lion about to roar; and being full of the Holy Ghost, spoke in great power, bearing testimony of the visions he had seen, the ministering of angels which he had enjoyed; and how he had found the plates of the Book of Mormon, and translated them by the gift and power of God. He commenced by saying: 'If nobody else had the courage to testify of so glorious a message from Heaven, and of the finding of so glorious a record, he felt to do it in justice to the people, and leave the event with God.' The entire congregation was astounded; electrified, as it were, and overwhelmed with the sense of the truth and power by which he spoke, and the wonders which he related. A lasting impression was made; many souls were gathered into the fold. And I bear witness, that he, by his faithful and powerful testimony, cleared his garments of their blood (Parley P. Pratt, Jr., ed., Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1961], pp. 298-99).