Last Conference at Nauvoo—Plea of the “Mother of Prophets”—Pathetic
“Sunday October 5, 1845.—
First Meeting In the Temple
Through the indefatigable exertions, unceasing industry, and heaven-blessed labors, in the midst of trials, tribulations, poverty, and worldly obstacles, solemnized in some instances, by death, about five thousand saints had the inexpressible joy and great gratification to meet for the first time in the House of the Lord in the City of Joseph. From miles and tithing millions had risen up to the glory of God, as a Temple, where the children of the last kingdom could come together and praise the Lord.
It certainly afforded a holy satisfaction to think that since the sixth of April, 1841, when the first stone was laid, amidst the most straitened circumstances, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had witnessed their bread cast upon waters, or more properly, their obedience to the commandments of the Lord, appear in the tangible form of a Temple, entirely enclosed, windows in; with temporary floors, pulpits and seats to accommodate so many persons preparatory to a General Conference; no General Conference having been held for three years past, according to the declaration of our martyred Prophet:—
‘There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the font of the Lord’s House; and the church shall not hold another General Conference, until they can meet in said house. For thus saith the Lord.’
I [Brigham Young] opened the services of the day by a dedicatory prayer, presenting the Temple, thus far completed, as a monument of the saints’ liberality, fidelity, and faith, concluding: ‘Lord, we dedicate this house and ourselves, to thee,’ The day was occupied most agreeably in hearing instructions and teachings, and offering up the gratitude of honest hearts, for so great a privilege, as worshiping God within instead of without an edifice, whose beauty and workmanship will compare with any house of worship in America, and whose motto is:
‘Holiness To The Lord’.
“Minutes of the first General Conference, which was ever held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the House of the Lord in the City of Joseph, commencing on Monday, October 6th, 1845, ten o’clock forenoon.
Present—Elder Brigham Young, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; also Elders Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Willard Richards, John Taylor, George A. Smith and Amasa M. Lyman; Patriarchs John Smith and Isaac Morley; Presiding Bishops Newel K. Whitney and George Miller; also the authorities of the church generally.
The conference was opened with singing by the choir, and prayer by Elder Parley P. Pratt. Elder Willard Richards then arose and read over some notices concerning lost property, concerts, etc. He then stated, that the President had waited from half past nine to near eleven o’clock, for the people to get together; he exhorted the brethren to be more punctual, as so much time lost could not be recalled, and we have a great amount of business, which must necessarily be attended to during conference. He next stated that General Hardin had requested us to make out a list of all the buildings belonging to our brethren which have been burned by our enemies, and also had requested that all those who have had their buildings or other property destroyed should make affidavit of the same before a justice of the peace, and have their affidavits ready to be forwarded to him at as early a season as possible.
First Business—Presentation of Authorities for Approval
President Brigham Young then rose and said: the first business that will come before this conference, will be to present the authorities of the church to ascertain whether they are in good standing.
Father John Smith, the president of the stake, then arose and presented the Twelve as the Presidents of the whole church; which was seconded and carried unanimously.
It was then moved that Brigham Young be continued and sustained as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Heber C. Kimball be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Orson Hyde be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Parley P. Pratt be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Orson Pratt be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously,
Orson Pratt’s Objection to Sustaining William Smith.
It was next moved, that William Smith be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded. Whereupon Elder Orson Pratt arose and said:
‘I have an objection to Brother William continuing in that office. I feel, as an individual, that I cannot, conscientiously, uphold and sustain Brother William as one of the Twelve Apostles, until he thinks different from what he does now. I have many reasons for this, but I will merely mention one or two, which must suffice for the present. In the first place, I have proof positive that he is an aspiring man; that he aspires to uproot and undermine the legal Presidency of the Church, that he may occupy the place himself. This he has avowed openly in the east, which I can prove by good and substantial witnesses. In the second place, while Brother William was in the east, to my certain knowledge, his doctrine and conduct have not had a savory influence; but have produced death and destruction wherever he went. This also I am well prepared to prove. I have been waiting in all long suffering, for an alteration in Brother William’s course, but up to the present time, I have been disappointed. For these two reasons, I would plead for one, that we no longer sustain him in his office, till a proper investigation can be had, and he make satisfaction. I do this individually; I leave others to do as they please.’
The motion being seconded, a vote was then taken to sustain him, but was lost unanimously.
It was next moved that John E. Page be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Willard Richards be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved, that Wilford Woodruff be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously,
It was next moved that John Taylor be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that George A. Smith be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Lyman Wight be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; whereupon Elder A. W. Babbitt said:
A.W. Babbitt’s Objection to Lyman Wight.
‘As Elder Orson Pratt remarked, concerning William Smith, that he could not conscientiously vote to sustain him, so I say in regard to Lyman Wight, I cannot conscientiously give my vote in his favor. My reason is this: If there is a council in this church that ought to be united, and act in unison as one man, it is the Council of the Twelve. If the head is sick, the whole body is afflicted. If I am rightly informed concerning Brother Wight’s conduct, for the past year, he has not acted in unison with the Twelve, nor according to their counsel. The last year has been one of affliction, persecution and sorrow, when the adversary has continually sought to destroy and mutilate the church; and it has required all the faith, prayers and perseverance of the leaders, to save this people from the grasp of the destroyer. If the counsel of Brother Wight had been followed, this Temple would not have been built, nor the baptismal font erected. He has sought to draw away a part of the force, which we ought to have had to build this Temple. His teachings have been contrary to the counsel of the church, and his conduct calculated to destroy it. Under circumstances of this kind, I cannot conscientiously vote to continue him in his standing, until he retracts, and makes satisfaction. Brother Wight’s course has been calculated to divide the church, and prevent those things being accomplished, which were commanded of God by the Prophet Joseph.’
Elder Kimball arose and said:—
‘It is well known, that Brother Wight’s case was had before the conference last spring, and that he was dropped, and then again retained; that is, that we would let him be, and see what he would do, and what course he would take. He has been away ever since; and is with a small company somewhere; we cannot tell what he is doing; he may in his own mind, be acting in concert with the rest, and he may be acting for the good of this people. It would be my mind, to let his case lay over for the present, until we can learn something from him.’
Whereupon it was moved, that we let the case of Brother Lyman Wight lay over for the present until we hear from him. Seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Amasa M. Lyman be continued and sustained as one of the Twelve Apostles; seconded and carried unanimously.
Wm. Smith Rejected as Patriarch.
Elder Isaac Morley arose and said; he would next present William Smith as the patriarch of the Church; and moved that he be continued and sustained in that office; seconded and lost unanimously.
Willard Richards Sustained as Church Historian.
President Brigham Young stated, that about three years ago, Elder Willard Richards was appointed by President Joseph Smith, as Historian for the Church, and general Church Recorder. We have previously acted on his appointment to office, as Recorder, but not as Historian. He would therefore move, that we receive the appointment of Brother Joseph, and that we continue and sustain Elder Richards as Historian for the Church, and General Church Recorder; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Father John Smith be continued and sustained as president of this stake of Zion; and that Isaac Morley and Charles C. Rich be continued and sustained as his counselors; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Samuel Bent be continued and sustained in his office as president of the high council; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved, that George W. Harris, Alpheus Cutler, James Allred, Thomas Grover, Henry G. Sherwood, William Huntington, Sen., Lewis D. Wilson, Newel Knight, David Fullmer, Aaron Johnson, and Ezra T. Benson each be continued and sustained as members of the high council; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that George Miller be continued and sustained as president of the high priests’ quorum, and that William Snow and Noah Packard be continued as his counselors; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Joseph Young be continued and sustained in his office as the Senior President of the First Quorum of the Seventy; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was next moved that Levi W. Hancock, Henry Harriman, Zera Pulsipher, Daniel S. Miles, Jedediah M. Grant, each be continued and sustained as one of the Seven Presidents over all the Seventies; seconded and carried unanimously.
Elder Roger Orton dropped from Fist Council of Seventy.
Elder George A. Smith remarked that Roger Orton was one of the ‘Old Camp’ 1 and was selected a year ago to be one of the seven Presidents of the Seventy; but he had never received his ordination nor done anything to magnify his calling. It is not to be expected that we shall wait year after year for men to come forward and fill their offices. Brother Orton was one of the Old Camp, and we love him on that account; we always called him the ‘Big Major’, and a first rate man; but he has not come forward since his appointment to magnify his calling.
Elder Joseph Young said:
‘Last spring I visited Roger Orton and apprised him of his appointment. He agreed to come as early as convenient, and receive his ordination; and I gave him to understand, if he did not come and act in his office, he would be dropped. Brother Orton has always sustained Brother Joseph and the church, but he has very little of the spirit; he has been in the church about twelve years, but never has been active since his discharge from the camp that went up to Missouri in 1834. It was by the counsel of the Twelve that he was appointed one of the Presidents of the Seventy. I have no particular desire to plead for him, but if his case can be laid over, I think he can be saved in that office, but I will be subject to counsel. I have considerable feeling for him; he lost all his property in Missouri, and has since addicted himself to drinking whiskey; that seems to have ruined him, but he may be reclaimed.’
President Brigham Young arose and said, he would preach one of Dow’s short sermons:—
“If you won’t when you can, when you will you shan’t’. ‘I say if men will not act and magnify their calling, let more honorable men be appointed. Roger Orton is keeping a public house at Augusta and has had sufficient time to come and prove himself a worthy man in his office, but has not done it; and I say let a more honorable man take the crown. If he won’t work now, when will he?’
It was then moved that we drop him; seconded and carried unanimously.
Moved that Samuel Williams be continued and sustained as president of the elders’ quorum, and Jesse Baker and Joshua Smith be continued and sustained as his counselors; seconded and carried unanimously.
Moved that Newel K. Whitney be continued and sustained as the first Bishop of the Church; and that George Miller be continued and sustained as his associate; seconded and carried unanimously.
Moved that Stephen M. Farnsworth be continued and sustained as president of the priests’ quorum; and that William Carmichael and———Betts be continued and sustained as his counselors; seconded and carried unanimously.
Moved that Elisha Averett be continued and sustained as president of the teachers’ quorum; as also his former counselors; seconded and carried unanimously.
Council of Deacons in the Church Provided.
President Brigham Young moved, that there be a quorum of deacons selected, and a president over them, and that the Presiding Bishops see to it, as soon as possible and make report to this conference before its close; seconded and carried unanimously.
Conference then adjourned till two o’clock p.m. Benediction by Elder G. A. Smith.
Two p.m.—The house was called to order by Elder Taylor; the choir sang ‘The Prodigal Son’. Elder Taylor read a list of the sick, and offered up prayer; after which the choir sang another hymn.
Elder Parley P. Pratt on the Situation and Prospects of the Saints.
Whereupon Elder Parley P. Pratt addressed the conference on the subject of our present situation and prospects. He referred to the great amount of expense and labor we have been at to purchase lands, build houses, the Temple, etc.; we might ask, why is it that we have been at all this outlay and expense, and then are called to leave it? He would answer that the people of God always were required to make sacrifices, and if we have a sacrifice to make, he is in favor of its being something worthy of the people of God.
‘We do not want to leave a desolate place, to be a reproach to us, but something that will be a monument to those who may visit the place of our industry, diligence and virtue. There is no sacrifice required at the hands of the people of God but shall be rewarded to them an hundred fold, in time or eternity.
‘The Lord has another purpose to bring about and to fulfill. We know that the great work of God must all the while be on the increase and grow greater. The people must enlarge in numbers and extend their borders; they cannot always live in one city, nor in one county: they cannot always wear the yoke; Israel must be the head and not the tail. The Lord designs to lead us to a wider field of action, where there will be more room for the saints to grow and increase, and where there will be no one to say we crowd them, and where we can enjoy the pure principles of liberty and equal rights.
‘When we settle a country where the air, the water, soil and timber is equally free to every settler without money or without price, the climate healthy, and the people free from unjust and vexatious lawsuits, mobocracy, and oppression of every kind, we can become vastly more wealthy, have better possessions and improvements, and build a larger and better Temple in five years from this time than we now possess.
‘It has cost us more for sickness, defense against mobs, vexatious prosecutions, and to purchase lands in this place, than as much improvement will cost in another.
‘One small nursery may produce many thousands of fruit trees, while they are small. But as they expand towards maturity, they must needs be transplanted, in order to have room to grow and produce the natural fruits. It is so with us. We want a country where we have room to expand, and to put in requisition all our energies and the enterprise and talents of a numerous, intelligent and increasing people. In our natural state, ask yourselves if you could be brought to endure and enjoy a celestial law, without an experience of the kind we have passed through for the last fifteen years?
‘In short, this people are fast approaching that point which ancient prophets have long since pointed out as the destiny of the saints of the last days.’
George A. Smith.
After many other spirited remarks touching similar points, he was succeeded by Elder George A. Smith, on the same subject. Elder Smith observed that a revelation was given in Missouri in regard to the saints consecrating their property which was not understood at the time; but they were soon brought to their understanding, for the Lord in his providence caused it all to be consecrated, for they were compelled to leave it.
He is glad of the prospect of leaving this county and seeking a place where we can enjoy the fruits of our labors and God himself be the sole proprietor of the elements.
Here is one principle in which he wants this whole people to unite. When we were to leave Missouri the saints entered into a covenant not to cease their exertions until every saint who wished to go was removed, which was done.
We are better off now than we were then, and he wants to see the same principle carried out now, that every man will give all to help to take the poor; and every honest industrious member who wants to go. He wants to see this influence extend from the west to the east sea.
After which President Brigham Young moved that we take all the saints with us, to the extent of our ability, that is, our influence and property: seconded by Elder Kimball, and carried unanimously. Elder Brigham Young continued:
President Young’s Prophesy of the Deliverance of the Saints.
‘If you will be faithful to your covenant, I will now prophesy that the great God will shower down means upon this people, to accomplish it [the resolution] to the very letter. I thank God that the time has come so much sooner than I expected, that that scripture is being fulfilled, ‘My people shall be willing in the day of my power’; and I almost feel to thank our friends abroad for hastening it on now.’
Elder Parley P. Pratt made some remarks relative to the brethren being all on a level when they left Missouri. He referred to the Whitmer family monopolizing timber; advised liberality with wood.
Elder H. C. Kimball moved that every man who owned a woodlot should on application, let the poor, the sick, and the needy who wanted wood, have it; and those who have teams should assist in hauling it to them; seconded and carried unanimously.
It was requested by President Young that no man go into another’s woods without the consent of the owner; and then take it clean and be careful of the timber.
Benediction by W. W. Phelps and adjourned until tomorrow at ten a.m.
Tuesday, October 7, 1845.—Conference met pursuant to adjournment at ten a.m. Meeting called to order by president of the stake. Choir sang a hymn. Prayer by Elder Phelps. Choir then sang another hymn.
Elder Heber C. Kimball then addressed the conference.
‘This is a hard place for anyone to speak in, and there are many things still necessary to lay before this conference. For my part I am done preaching to this nation; at least for the present. I have been forth through the United States and Europe, in fact, I have spent my whole time at it, since I came into the church. It is now all counsel for me—We have a great many things to say today; and I suppose we shall always have plenty to do. I presume many have got out of business; but we will now have work enough, to get ready to go to some other country; to get there, and to plough our fields when we get there. I have seen people crying and weeping, and mourning, because they had nothing to do; but when we leave this place, you will never have cause to weep for not having anything to do, from this time forth, and forever more, if you are faithful to your calling. I am glad the time of our exodus is come; I have looked for it for years. It is necessary for us to be faithful and humble, and if we listen to counsel we shall prosper. And although we leave all our fine houses and farms here, how long do you think it will be before we shall be better off than we are now? I have no farm to leave; I never had that privilege. Many of the brethren have farms; but there are many who have spent their whole time in the service of the church, for fourteen or fifteen years, who never had a farm. When we get to a new country, some of these old veterans will be looked after first; and I rejoice in it. We are now about coming to the Apostolic religion; 1. e., you will sell all, and come and lay it down at the Apostles’ feet. But it has taken a good scourging for fifteen years to bring us to this. There may be individuals who will look at their pretty houses and gardens and say, ‘it is hard to leave them’; but I tell you, when we start, you will put on your knapsacks, and follow after us. Before I was baptized, I believed we should come into an Apostolic religion. As for a Common Stock Business Religion, such as many preach, I do not believe in it. Every man will be a steward over his house and property; and if he is an unfaithful steward, his stewardship will be given to another. I will prophesy in the name of Heber C. Kimball, that in five years, we will be as well again off as we are now. Those brethren who have gone off and labored among the Gentiles, are not as well off as we are; some have eighty dollars, some an hundred, and some fifty dollars due them; and their ‘friends’ have driven them away penniless; and they have had to flee for safety to Nauvoo. Those who remained here, are better off. Since we have had an invitation from our ‘friends’ to leave the county, many have asked, shall we go and labor for them? They may go, if they have a mind to; but I won’t do it; I’ll see them go the other way first.
‘I positively know men, that have gone to labor for those, who with uplifted hands, swore they would take President Brigham Young’s life and my own. If it is your feeling to tarry here, and labor for each other to get away, manifest it (clear vote). At the last conference, a vote was passed that the Gentiles were cut off; and now, why do you want to labor for them. Inasmuch as the Gentiles reject us, lo! we turn to the Jews.
‘Again; there is a constant running to the Twelve, and saying ‘Can’t we go in your company?’ We calculate you are all going in the first company, both old and young, rich and poor; for there will be but one company. Probably we will sometimes be the first, and then again the last, sometimes in one place, sometimes in another. Some say, ‘ah! you are going ahead, and taking the band;’ but we will be with all of you.
‘We first made a selection of one hundred, and when we had done, we found we could not be satisfied without taking the whole; and so we finally concluded we would take you all with us, and have but one company. There is no use in making selections, for you are all good; but there is still a chance for us all to be a great deal better. We have no partiality; we have a common interest, for the welfare of this whole people, and we feel to advocate your cause like a father would advocate the cause of his children.
‘When men come in here to divide you, and when the mob came, did we flee? No! No! the hireling fleeth, but we felt like a father, and if you had to die, we would die with you. We want to feed the sheep, to nourish them; they have a tremendous journey to take; and when we see one that is weak and feeble, we will take it up, put it into a wagon, and take you all with us. We have had sorrow and could not sleep on your accounts: if we had no anxiety for you, we should have fled into the wilderness and left you.
‘We want to take you to a land, where a white man’s foot never trod, nor a lion’s whelps, nor the devil’s; and there we can enjoy it, with no one to molest and make us afraid; and we will bid all the nations welcome, whether Pagans, Catholics, or Protestants. We are not accounted as white people, and we don’t want to live among them. I had rather live with the buffalo in the wilderness; and I mean to go if the Lord will let me, and spare my life. Let us become passive as clay in the hands of the potter: if we don’t we will be cut from the wheel and thrown back in the mill again, like the Fosters, Higbees, and others. They want to come into Nauvoo again; but we won’t let them, until we have all the good clay out, and have made it into vessels of honor to our Heavenly Father: then they may come and be ground.’
Elder Lyman,s Remarks.
Elder Lyman next arose and remarked;
‘President Young says, we did not calculate to be in a hurry. It would be a matter of gratification, if I could express my feelings; but I have so many of them that I can’t do it.
‘There has been in the progress of this church an ample manifestation of the various windings and dispositions of man. A person cannot fail to perceive it, when he will observe and reflect, and doubtless those who have reflected may be satisfied, that the course of this people is unalterably fixed. I am glad it is not controlled by any human being. We have contended with opposition when it appeared impossible for us to overcome, and yet we have triumphed; and this people are becoming great and numerous.
‘Perhaps in the congregation before me there is every variety of feeling, which can be found on the face of the earth: yet we find their feelings undergoing a change, and that this people are approximating to a Oneness; the people are becoming one, and their interests one. When they first heard the gospel, they hailed and cherished it with joy; and they have come up here to receive additional instruction: yet perhaps, they have made but a limited calculation of how far they would have to go, in obedience and sacrifices, and to how much persecution and suffering they would be subject that they might come up out of the fire as gold seven times tried.
‘It has been said, that after a time, the Lord will accomplish a certain something: That after men had endeavored to build up kingdoms, and seen them crumble to the dust and disappear; he had said, he would build up a kingdom which would stand forever, and become a universal kingdom: and moreover the Prophet said, ‘it should break in pieces every other kingdom’. If any man had preached this, he would have been considered guilty of treason. But those whom the Christian world consider as better men than we are, have said it; men, whom they say were better, and had knowledge, power, and virtue, more than they will now admit is lawful for us in this enlightened age to enjoy.
‘It has been said, that we should leave this country next spring; if the Lord is willing and the people have no objections. (And we don’t care much whether they have or not; we calculate to go about next spring). And we calculate to go the same people we are now; preserving the same principles which have caused us to grow and expand as we have done. This people have grown until there is not room for them to grow, and now they need transplanting, where they can have more room: and however much the people may seem disposed to not go, the sails are set, the wind is fair, and we are bound to weather the point, whether we will or no; for we are not at the helm; and whine and complain as much as you please, you have got to weather the point. Brother Kimball says, the whiners will have to go behind! So if you want to go in the company of the Twelve, you must not whine. Some persons suppose that when they had once lost their all, they had suffered enough: to hear them talk you would suppose that John the Revelator, when they tried to boil him in oil, or the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, seven times heated—never suffered half as much, nor felt half so uncomfortable as they. They have to get rich, and be made poor, about twenty times over, before they will come straight. I expect the rich will have to be made poor until the poor are made rich; and then there will be nobody poor. When the rich are rich; and the poor are rich; then there will be nobody rich and nobody poor; for all will be on a level.
‘God did not say, that this man or that man should build up the kingdom, that was to break in pieces all other kingdoms; but he said he would do it himself; and whenever this people were unwilling to do as the Lord would have them he has taken his rod and scourged them, until they were forced to do it. The Lord once said he would make Kirtland a stronghold for a time; and he has done it. He said in Missouri he would sustain the saints for a time; and he did it. And when we came here, the Lord said, that if the people of the state of Illinois would maintain us in our rights they would be blessed; if not we might find it to our advantage to leave them.’
Appeal on Behalf of the Poor.
The names of Company No. 5 were then called over, with orders to meet after meeting at the old stand.
Elder Taylor made some remarks in behalf of the suffering poor in the north part of town; and called upon all to come forward to aid the bishops in supplying these poor families.
Elder George A. Smith said there were many coming to get leaders of the companies appointed; and remarked you need not be in a hurry for the Twelve will take care to have proper captains appointed in due time; and all will move on like clockwork. But we must not hurry business.
The Patriarch, John Smith, appointed four bishops to stand at the door, to take a collection for the benefit of the poor.
The choir sang and the meeting was dismissed until 2 o’clock p.m.
Benediction by George A. Smith.
All the single men who want to come into the 1st company or company of the Twelve, were notified to give in their names.
Early Adjournment of Conference—Report of Troops in the City.
At 2 o’clock.—President Brigham Young came to the stand and dismissed the meeting until tomorrow at 10 o clock a.m. This was done on account of a body of armed men having suddenly entered the city. Not knowing but this was a move by the mob, the President requested all the brethren to go home and prepare themselves for any emergency. He, however, soon ascertained that W. B. Warren, Esq. was at the head of the troops and that they had come in on business.
The President then informed the people of this fact; and requested them to retire to their homes in peace; concluding his remarks with these words, ‘Be ye also ready’.
Wednesday, October 8, 1845.—Conference opened at the usual hour with singing and prayer.
Appearance of Mother Lucy Smith Before the Conference.
Mother Lucy Smith, the aged and honored parent of Joseph Smith, having expressed a wish to say a few words to the congregation, she was invited upon the stand. She spoke at considerable length and in an audible manner, so as to be heard by a large portion of the vast assembly.
She commenced by saying that she was truly glad that the Lord had let her see so large a congregation. She had a great deal of advice to give, but Brother Brigham Young had done the errand, he had fixed it completely. There were comparatively few in the assembly who were acquainted with her family. She was the mother of eleven children, seven of whom were boys. She raised them in the fear and love of God, and never was there a more obedient family. She warned parents that they were accountable for their children’s conduct; advised them to give them books and work to keep them from idleness; warned all to be full of love, goodness and kindness, and never to do in secret what they would not do in the presence of millions. She wished to know of the congregation whether they considered her a mother in Israel (upon which President Brigham Young said: all who consider Mother Smith as a mother in Israel, signify it by saying yes!—One universal ‘yes’ rang throughout). She remarked that it was just eighteen years since Joseph Smith the Prophet had become acquainted with the contents of the plates; and then in a concise manner related over the most prominent points in the early history of her family; their hardships, trials, privations, persecutions, sufferings, etc.; some parts of which melted those who heard her to tears, more especially the part relating to a scene in Missouri, when her beloved son Joseph was condemned to be shot in fifteen minutes, and she by prodigious efforts was enabled to press through the crowd to where he was, and to give him her hand; but could not see his face; he took her hand and kissed it she said, let me hear your voice once more my son; he said, ‘God bless you my dear mother!’ She gave notice that she had written her history, and wished it printed before we leave this place. She then mentioned a discourse once delivered by Joseph after his return from Washington, in which he said that he had done all that could be done on earth to obtain justice for their wrongs; but they were all, from the president to the judge, determined not to grant justice. But, said he, keep good courage, these cases are recorded in heaven, and I am going to lay them before the highest court in heaven. ‘Little’, said she, ‘did I then think he was so soon to leave us, to take the case up himself. And don’t you think this case is now being tried? I feel as though God was vexing this nation a little, here and there, and I feel that the Lord will let Brother Brigham take the people away. Here, in this city, lay my dead; my husband and children; and if so be the rest of my children go with you, (and would to God they may all go), they will not go without me; and if I go, I want my bones brought back in case I die away, and deposited with my husband and children.’ (Mother Smith said many more good things, but the rest being inaudible to the reporters, they are lost).
President Brigham Young then arose and said he wanted to relate to the congregation the last closing remarks of Mother Smith; inasmuch as she could not be heard by all.
Considerate Pledges Made to the Smith Family.
‘Mother Smith proposes a thing which rejoices my heart: she will go with us. I can answer for the authorities of the church; we want her and her children to go with us; and I pledge myself in behalf of the authorities of the church, that while we have anything, they shall share with us. We have extended the helping hand to Mother Smith. She has the best carriage in the city and while she lives, shall ride in it when and where she pleases.
‘When William came here we furnished him a span of horses and a carriage and a house and Brother Kimball became responsible for the rent of it. He has run away in a time of trouble; but I suppose will come back when it is peace, and we mean to have him with us yet.’
(Mother Smith here interrupted President Young, but inaudible to the reporters). President Young continued:
Pledge of President Young to Return the Remains of Mother Smith to Her Family at Nauvoo.
‘Mother Smith has been relating over the circumstances of her pecuniary life of late; she is perfectly satisfied, and all is right. I could have wished that the bishops would visit her more frequently; but they have done pretty well—and I say in the name of the Latter-day Saints, we will supply her wants; and I want the people to take anything they have for her to her, and let her do with it as she pleases. I have never asked her to go for she had told me she would not; but now she has offered it. Mother Smith proposes that she will go with us, if we will promise to bring back her remains in case of her death and deposit them with her husband’s. Also Joseph once said, with outstretched arms, ‘If I fall in battle in Missouri, I want you to bring my bones back, and deposit them in that sepulchre—I command you to do it in the name of the Lord.’ And I pledge myself if Mother Smith goes with us and I outlive her, I will do my best to bring her bones back again, and deposit them with her children, and I want to know if this people are willing to enter into a covenant to do the same.’ (Unanimous vote),
President Brigham Young continued:
‘We are determined also to use every means in our power to do all that Joseph told us. And we will petition Sister Emma in the name of Israel’s God, to let us deposit the remains of Joseph according as he commanded us. And if she will not consent to it, our garments are clear. Then when he awakes in the morning of the resurrection, he shall talk with them, not with me; the sin shall be upon her head, not ours.’
Meeting was adjourned to two p.m.
Benediction by President Brigham Young.
2 p.m.—Conference met pursuant to adjournment.
Meeting called to order by Elder Joseph Young. Choir sang ‘The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning’. Prayer by Elder Taylor. Choir sang again.
Elder Taylor then arose and said:
Proposal to Withdraw Publication of the Printed Word.
‘There is one piece of business which devolves upon me to bring before this conference; and that is the printing. As we have done preaching, so we have done printing to the people; and now let them alone and mind our own business, and let them print what they have a mind to. It has been thought best to publish the conference minutes, and let that finish the subject; but I have thought it would perhaps be better to continue theTimes and Seasons until the volume be completed. And if we do not circulate them abroad, we can at home, in the neighborhood. There are reasons for it. First, many are anxious about items of doctrine which the saints want; and many want to have the volume completed. As to theNauvoo Neighbor, it is more connected with temporal matters, news, etc., and we don’t care so much about that. The world doesn’t wish any news from us, and we don’t wish to urge it upon them. I have read papers until I have become tired; for they are all villainy, corruption, deceit and abomination; and I shall be glad when we get to a place where we can be at peace. In regard to discontinuing the papers, I will do as I am counseled. Some may consider that they will be injured by stopping the paper; but I will give four or five dollars worth of obligations for everyone they can present against me. No man can say that I have asked pay for a paper, though hundreds here are owing me for it. I will abide counsel, but am willing to publish the Times and Seasons until the end of the volume.’
Elder Kimball moved that we discontinue the Nauvoo Neighbor after one number; and that the Times and Seasons continue from time to time, till the volume is closed; seconded and carried.
The next item of business is to appoint committees to sell houses, farms, lots, etc., that they can be referred to for sales,
Appointment of Utility Committee.
Nauvoo.—Winslow Farr, Edward Hunter, Rufus Beach, A. W. Babbit, Joseph L. Heywood, John Benbow, and Daniel Russell.
La Harpe.—Lyman Corey, John Clark and John L. Bartolph.
Macedonia.—Wm. G. Perkins, Isaac Clark and Andrew H. Perkins.
Camp Creek.—L. A. Bingham.
Bear Creek.—Nelson Higgins, Samuel Shepherd and Daniel Allen.
Knowlton’s Settlement.—Sidney A. Knowlton, Eleazer Brown and James Rawlins.
Highland Branch.—James Duncan, Wm. A. Duncan, and John Loveless.
Montebello—Eleazer Miller and Jesse Spurgin.
Yelrome.—Solomon Hancock and Horace Rawson.
In Iowa, every man is appointed to act as a committee of the whole for the sale of lands.
Elder Kimball said; there is yet another piece of business of great importance to all who have families; that is, to have some school books printed for the education of our children, which will not be according to the Gentile order.
Elder W. W. Phelps said:
Provision made for the Publication of School Books for Children.
‘As a people we are fast approaching a desired end, which may literally be called a beginning. Thus far, we cannot be reproached with being backward in instruction. By revelation, in 1831, I was appointed to ‘do the work of printing, and of selecting and writing books for schools in this church, that little children might receive instruction;’ and since then I have received a further sanction. We are preparing to go out from among the people, where we can serve God in righteousness; and the first thing is, to teach our children; for they are as the Israel of old. It is our children who will take the kingdom and bear it off to all the world. The first commandment with promise to Israel was, ‘Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’ We will instruct our children in the paths of righteousness; and we want that instruction compiled in a book.’
Moved that W. W. Phelps write some school books for the use of children; seconded and carried.
Elder Kimball said; the next item of business is whether or not there shall be a general settlement with the Trustees-in-Trust, the Twelve, the Temple Committee, and all others, so that we may not go away indebted to the Lord, and I want to know if it is wisdom to take such a course or not. But if we go away in debt, let it be to each other.
President Brigham Young said:
Proposals for the Settlement of All Accounts.
‘One object of this settlement with us is, some of the Latter-day Saints believe that the Twelve are supported out of the funds belonging to this house; and I am not disposed to go away under the idea that I am in debt to the Trustees, when I have put more into their hands than I have taken out. Perhaps it will be a matter of curiosity to some how I get my living. It is not by stealing!—but by good luck, and the providence of God and good men. Those men who have done the most, are the nearest square. I want the Twelve, and the committee, and all the people to settle with the Trustees, and not go away in debt to the Lord; and then we will have abundance to take away the poor.’
Elder Kimball moved, that the Twelve, the Temple Committee, and all others settle with the Trustees-in-Trust; and that the Trustees-in-Trust settle with the Presidency of the Church; seconded and carried. Elder Kimball remarked, we shall now expect a settlement from all those who have the wherewith, or you need not expect an endowment in this house. President Joseph Smith said he would stand at the door with the books; you will not see him, but you will see his successors, who will carry out his designs.
Elder George A. Smith said the next item was of very great importance:
‘There has been more powder and ball wasted within the last two weeks, than would supply all the people with meat for three months if they were in a game country. What is the use of this waste? You cannot wake up in the night, but you hear them cracking away. You can hardly walk the streets, but sometimes a bullet will whistle over your head. Men say they are afraid their guns won’t go off, it is wet; then I am in favor of getting something to draw (the charge from) them; I hope there will be no more firing. If there was a mob in sight, you have time enough to load your guns and fire on them. I want the powder and lead saved, so that when you get to your journey’s end, you can sustain yourselves with food. Save your powder, caps and lead. I move that this conference discountenance all firing in the city, by any man, by night or by day, in every possible manner.’
Seconded and carried.
Elder H. C. Kimball said:
‘There are a good many complaints of late, and I am sorry to hear it, of some of the neighbors having had their cattle shot. Brother John Benbow has had fifteen wounded. I am ashamed of a man who will do such things. The man that will destroy his neighbor’s property in that way, I will prophesy that the hand of God will be upon him until he makes restitution, and he will not prosper.’
Sundry Practical Considerations Adopted.
Moved, that all persons who have been guilty, or may be hereafter, of shooting cattle, shall be cut off from the church, unless they make restitution; seconded and carried.
Moved that all persons who will not take care of their unruly cattle, shall be cut off from the church; seconded and carried.
President Young said:
‘I have a little corn, if it is destroyed it may all go before I will have revenge. I am for keeping orderly and obeying counsel. When we first (again) preached in the grove, I charged the brethren not to let their cattle get into the gardens of the widows and the sick; and if the widows shot them, I would stand between them and harm, and someone, on the Friday following shot my only cow. I would have given five half eagles to bring her back again. She was reared by my wife, while I was on my mission to England, and was so gentle that my children could sit under her and milk her and play between her horns without fear of being hurt. Take care of your cattle, and feed them with your corn stalks, cabbage, slops, etc.’
And he again charged the brethren not to touch any property which did not belong to them; even if it be only a rail. He said:
‘In Quincy they have decided that we shall not have any more law suits. Judge Purple has agreed not to hold any more courts in this county: (though we hear that he will), They are going to collect funds, as they say, to assist the poor to move out of Nauvoo. If they have a mind to bestow anything, let them give it to the Trustees, to be dealt out by them. We don’t know but they will yet do as they did in Missouri—take our own property, and sell or bestow it upon us again at an extortionate price, and call it a deed of charity. I will tell you what it will be—a stink offering.’
Brother William Clayton then read a letter from Major Warren, respecting the arrest of one Smith, for felony, yesterday.
Moved that this conference adjourn until the 6th of April next; seconded and carried.
Clerks of Conference.'” 2