Understanding the Council of Fifty and Its Minutes
Joseph Smith organized the Council of Fifty, a civic body of leading Mormon men as well as a few non-Mormons, in March 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois. William Clayton took minutes of the Nauvoo meetings. Minutes of the Council of Fifty are now published in full by The Joseph Smith Papers project. These minutes preserve teachings and statements of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young on government and related topics and convey the intensity of feelings about the injustices the Saints had suffered in Missouri and Illinois. This council became Joseph Smith’s forum of choice for managing his presidential campaign and his goal of finding a way that the Saints could safely exercise their religion.