Volume 7 is divided into six parts:
I. Church Historians’ Excerpt from Ford’s History of Illinois, pp. 1 to 31.
II. Later Church Historians’ Extension of Quotations from Ford’s History of Illinois, pp. 33 to 51.
III. Personal Account of the Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith by the Late President John Taylor, pp. 53 to 126.
IV. Second Compilation of Historical Items of Period I of Church History, From 22nd of June, 1844, to 8th of August, 1844 (Compiled by Church Historians George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff, from the Journals of Elders Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff and others), pp. 127 to 243.
V. Excerpts from the Manuscript History of Brigham Young from August 9, 1844, to October 8, 1848—Apostolic Interregnum—Inauguration of, and Sustaining of the Second First Presidency of Three, pp. 245 to 630.
The Church Documentary History, Period I, (The History of Joseph Smith the Prophet by Himself—his daily Journal in fact), necessarily closed with Joseph’s martyrdom to which was added a brief account of his obsequies, and of his various services to humanity. The Historians of the Church who brought to a close that Period, George A. Smith, cousin of the Prophet and one of the Twelve Apostles, and Wilford Woodruff, also one of the Twelve Apostles, immediately followed that close by publishing a long and unbroken excerpt from Governor Thomas Ford’s History of Illinois, which was published in 1854, about six months after the governor’s death. This posthumous work gave large space to the activities and adventures of the Prophet and his people in Illinois, from 1839 to 1846. This, in fact, constitutes about the only part of Ford’s History that is of permanent value or importance.
George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff’s excerpt from Ford’s History of Illinois extends from page 328 to page 354; which is about two-thirds of what the governor wrote on the Mormons. Their quotation ends in the middle of a sentence, this because they were unwilling, doubtless, to include the vicious assault upon the character of the Prophet with which the sentence ends. The saints may now, however, be indifferent to such assaults upon the character and life’s work of their Prophet, since time has placed the true value upon his character and the success of his work, vindicating both; rendering the “pelting of his memory with vile epithets” as supremely vain. Besides Ford’s treatise of the Mormons in Illinois has some valuable material for their history not to be had elsewhere. And the student will have the satisfaction of knowing that he has practically all that the governor-enemy of the saints has said against them, and that the Prophet’s followers have not blanched from all that is written of him by this opponent. The governor closes his chapter xi with the account of the trial of the murderers of the Prophet and Patriarch with the concession that government in Illinois had failed so far as protecting the Latter-day Saints in their rights, and adds that “there can be no government in a free country where the people do not voluntarily obey the laws;” which, of course, closes his connection with the events that occurred during the lifetime of the Prophet.
For the rest of Ford’s connection with the History of the Church of the Latter-day Saints, excerpts are given including official letters, etc., as the events are developed; and are chosen and used in this present edition, and constitute Part II of this volume.
Governor Ford’s contributions to the history of that period are followed by a review and commentary upon them by the late President John Taylor, who was a contemporary with Governor Ford and a leading participant in those events. This constitutes Part III of this volume. It is a review and commentary of the period of highest value, a statesman-like paper, a document of highest historical value of the times; and one marvels at the high tone with which the document planned, being dispassionate, and one might say, written unexpectedly in an impartial spirit. The balancing of the pros and cons as to the responsibility of Governor Ford for the murder of the martyred being surprisingly fair to the governor. In my study of historical documents in which judgment is rendered upon such questions, without exception I can say that I have examined nothing that is equal in spirit and justice to this review by President Taylor of Governor Ford’s responsibility for the murder. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can well be proud of this performance of their great Apostle and later President of the Church. It deserves to live forever.
Part IV treats the Apostolic succession to the Presidency of the Church, from the death of the Prophet to August 8, 1844, a compilation made by the Church Historians George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff from the Journals of Elders Willard Richards and Wilford Woodruff and others. It considers, and settles the claims of guardianship to the church made by Sidney Rigdon; finally disposes of his case; and installs the Presidency of the Twelve Apostles which continued until the First Presidency of Three could be re-established.
This touches what may be regarded as an important factor in the matter of arranging the transition from one administration in the Presidency of the Church to another. On the 6th of April, 1830, it was declared that a record should be kept in the church and that in it Joseph Smith should be called a “seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ, being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof and to build it up unto the Most Holy Faith.” 1
It will be recognized that there were thus provided, even on the day the church was organized, very great powers of Presidency and administrative functions for Joseph Smith in the leadership of the church.
Later the Lord referred to the matter again and that by way of warning to the Prophet: “And I have sent forth the fullness of my gospel by the hand of my servant Joseph; and in weakness have I blessed him: and I have given unto him the keys of the mystery of those things which have been sealed, even things which were from the foundation of the world, and the things which shall come from this time until the time of my coming, if he abide in me, and if not, another will I plant in his stead.” 2
In another revelation the Lord enlarged upon this theme as follows: “Hearken ye elders of my church, and give ear to the words which I shall speak unto you. For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelation from my hand. And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken if he abide in me. But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it he through him, for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.” 3
This makes known the fact that though the Prophet should not even abide in the Lord he would still have power left to appoint another in his stead; and how much more would he be competent to appoint another in his stead if he continued to abide in the Lord!
This right to appoint another in his stead the Prophet Joseph exercised, occasioned by his own approaching martyrdom. At the October Conference—the 6th, 1844—the conference following the martyrdom of the Prophet—in the presence of thousands making up the congregation, President Young asked the question: “Did Joseph ordain any man to take his place? He did. Who was it? It was Hyrum [his brother], but Hyrum fell a martyr before Joseph did”. 4 Holding in mind that the Lord has said that the Prophet Joseph Smith should not have taken from him the splendid powers of Presidency given to him for the guidance of the church—if he would “abide in the Lord”. 5 And in the event of his not abiding in the Lord, then he should not have power—”except to appoint another in his stead.” It is clear that the Prophet was acting within his rights to appoint another to succeed himself in the Presidency of the Church when he appointed Hyrum to succeed him. For surely, if when not abiding in the Lord he would still have power to appoint another in the prophetic office, and to succeed him in the Presidency of the Church, much more would he have the right to make the appointment when continuing to abide in the Lord. And this power he exercised; according to President Young he even “ordained” Hyrum to succeed him; but Hyrum, according to Joseph’s own statement, would not leave him. 6
In like manner the Christ designated St. Peter to succeed him in the leadership of the church, by saying: “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 7 Thus did the Christ before his crucifixion appoint his successor in the Presidency of the Church in that dispensation.
Thus the Prophet Joseph Smith in appointing Hyrum Smith to be his successor in the leadership of the New Dispensation Church, did but follow the example of his divine Lord. But with Hyrum Smith falling a martyr before the Prophet Joseph Smith himself did, there was, of course, an end to that appointment: it had no chance to be presented to the people for approval, which, of course, would have been necessary as in the case of all officers in the church, or before the sub-division of it over which it is proposed they should exercise presiding jurisdiction. 8 Also it amounts to certainty that had Hyrum Smith survived his brother, and his name had been presented to the church as its President, he would have been overwhelmingly sustained by the saints for the office. But Hyrum dead before the Prophet was killed, it left no one else designated for the place of President, and hence choice and reconstruction of the Presidency devolved upon the next quorum in authority—the Twelve Apostles, which also is not only the “next” quorum in authority, but also “equal” in authority to the First Presidency, 9 and therefore capable of doing whatever the First Presidency could do. It was under this quorum and its authority that President Brigham Young and his fellow Apostles proceeded to their construction of the First Presidency.
Part V of volume VII constitutes the larger section of the volume and consists of transcriptions from the Manuscript History of Brigham Young, to the close of the year 1848, and is the most important quotation of original documents to be had covering that period of time, setting forth the administration of the Twelve Apostles under the leadership of President Young. The value of this collection from original sources is beyond instant realization. As in the quotations from the Journal of Joseph Smith in the preceding six volumes of this series, so this section in volume VII gives the day by day and incident by incident transactions of the Apostles, disclosing the very spirit and administrative effects of the procedure and policies of their period. It is a most profitable contribution to the annals of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In it are revealed the truly and highly spiritual and unselfish efforts of the Twelve in directing the affairs of the church to the advantage of the organization and to the welfare of the saints. Their solicitude, watchfulness and prayerful interest in all the departments of the work of God are marvelous. The missionary service of the church in all the world was universal and untiring: throughout the United States, the Pacific groups of islands, the work in England. Also the local interests: the building up of Nauvoo, the completion of the Temple, the unstinted pouring of the contributed wealth of the people into its structural completion and interior embellishment, notwithstanding that they knew they could hold possession of it but a few months, and then it must be abandoned. It was the heroic and unselfish adherence to a completion of a commandment of God.
Nor did their zeal and sacrifices go unrewarded; for from December 10th, 1845, when the first endowments were given, to the 7th of February, 1846—when the Temple was closed for ordinance work—5,669 ordinances had been performed. These mostly for full endowment ceremonies, as the church in the main knows those ordinances today, However, some baptisms for the dead merely may have been recorded in the enumeration; also there may be slight variations above or below the figures here given; as the daily numbers, from which this total is made up, are occasionally given in round numbers. But think of the work accomplished, 5,669 endowments given! After full allowance is made for all slight variations that may have occurred, the official report makes it certain that over 5,500 endowments had been given in the Nauvoo Temple! So many of the saints entrusted with the sacred mysteries of the House of the Lord!
Meantime both the officers and church membership were making every exertion to prepare the church for removal to the west in fulfillment of the predictions of the Prophet Joseph Smith sometime previous to his death. In addition to this was their contention with authorities in high station in the state, more menacing to their security than the murderous assaults of mobs. In all things there was manifested a union of spirit and effort of the Apostles that proclaimed them true disciples of the Lord. They were a perfect example of a group united in one, a well-nigh perfect unanimity of purpose and action seemed to prevail. The spirit of the Christian religion was manifested in their forbearance and long continued patience with men of restless ambition who sought to divide the people and lead away groups of them. Such men as James Emmett who led a company of people into the western wilderness; Lyman Wight one of the Quorum of the Twelve, who led a company of people into Texas; Bishop George Miller, always restive under restraint, who broke away from the main group of the people, impatient with what he thought was the too slow action of President Young and his brethren; their patience with Wm. Smith, one of the Twelve, then, and later Patriarch to the church, and brother of the Prophet. Their action in his trying case was a model of brotherly forbearance. Their uniform kindness and care for the Mother of the Prophet exhibited a truly Christian spirit and disproves the charges against the Twelve, that are sometimes made by dissentients, of tyranny, self-aggrandizement, and inordinate, and self-seeking ambition.
In all things the Twelve manifested their faith in prayer. God was their only refuge, as manifested in their constant appeal, to him in their days of trial. No one can read the annals of this volume and be in doubt of that; in sickness, in danger; in missionary undertakings; against the violence of mobs; in coping with the cunningly devised plans of political leaders, corrupted courts and scheming adventurers—against all these forces they employed the power of faith and prayer. But read the annals of the trying years covered by this volume of the History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and you have in hand the world’s finest example of faith and trust in God through prayer. Was one sick, the others prayed; was some group wayward, and rebellious, a circle met in prayer; did influential men in high places meet to conspire against them, the brethren sought to thwart their plans by an appeal to God through prayer; was one or more unjustly haled into the courts before unjust judges, prayer softened their hearts or confused their judgments; did mobs assail, did hell rage—prayer was both sword and shield. That all this may appear I take a cross section in Nauvoo experiences for an illustration which is but characteristic of the whole period.
I select items from the record of the months of August and September, 1844—in free quotation—and set down the direct experiences which illustrate the procedure of these presiding brethren that will indicate the spirit of the work they undertook and carried through. Under date of August 10, 1844, the day following the settlement of the Twelve Apostles as the Presiding Authority of the Church—this:
“The city council subscribed about $80.00 for the aid of the police. In addition to this really inadequate compensation Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith and Hyrum Kimball relinquished their dues as councilors that the taxes might be lessened and the police be paid.* * * Daniel Spencer was elected to fill the remainder of the term of the late Mayor Joseph Smith. An ordinance was passed allowing $100.00 per year to the mayor, and $1.00 a day to the councilors and aldermen while in session. * * * Also an ordinance prohibiting brothels and for suppressing disorderly characters was passed.
Wednesday, August 14.—[Brigham Young recording the incidents throughout] I attended meeting of the Twelve, Temple Committee and Nauvoo House Committee and the stone cutters for the Temple. * * * Agreed to raise the wages of the windlass men to $1.50 per day. The meeting terminated in a feeling of renewed determination to prosecute the work on the Temple.
Thursday, August 15.—The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met at my house. * * * The council resolved to bear off the kingdom of God in all the world in truth, virtue and holiness, and to continue to set their faces as a flint against every species of wickedness, vice and dishonesty in all its forms: I met in a prayer circle with the Twelve and a few others in the afternoon and prayed for the sick.”
Recognizing the Prophet Joseph’s Place in the New Dispensation
“Let no man presume for a moment that his place will be filled by another, for, remember, he stands in his own place, and always will; and the Twelve Apostles of this dispensation stand in their own place and always will both in time and eternity to minister, preside and regulate the affairs of the whole church. * * * How vain are the imaginations of the children of men to presume for a moment that the slaughter of one, two, or a hundred of the leaders of this church could destroy an organization so perfect in itself and so harmoniously arranged that it will stand while one member of it is left upon the earth.”
Prophet’s Copy of the New Translation of the Bible
“Monday, August 19,—Elder Willard Richards called on Emma Smith, widow of the Prophet, for the new translation of the Bible. She said she did not feel disposed to give it up at present
Wednesday, August 21.—Council of the Twelve Apostles at my house to meet Elder Lyman Wight. Elder John Taylor went after him with a carriage; found him sick and unable to attend. Sociable gathering of a number of the Twelve at Wilford Woodruff’s. The brethren were accompanied with their wives. Elder Woodruff was blessed and set apart for his mission to England under the hands of the members of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles present.”
Baptism For the Dead Resumed
Several of the Twelve Apostles were baptized for their dead this same afternoon. This (August 24th) was the first renewal of baptisms for the dead since the death of the Prophet Joseph, The ordinance took place in the temporary baptismal font in the Temple.
“Tuesday, August 27.—Met with the officers of the Nauvoo Legion in council. Six of the Apostles were present. The council decided that they would carry out all the views of their martyred Prophet: The brethren felt very spirited on the subject.
Thursday, August 29.—This was fast day and I attended meeting at the stand and laid hands on several of the sick.
Wednesday, September 4.—Willard Richards sick. The Twelve Apostles and a few others met at my house in the evening and prayed for the preservation of the church and ourselves and that the Lord might bind up the apostates and preserve the honest in heart.
Thursday, September 5.—Everyone attended public prayer meeting and exposed the false prophets.
Friday, September 6.—Elder Heber C. Kimball and I visited the sick until 2 p.m.
Saturday, September 7.—Accompanied by Elder Kimball I waited upon Elder John P. Greene and attended to ordinances for him: He was on his deathbed.
Monday, September 9.—I attended council with the Quorum of the Twelve at Elder Heber C. Kimball’s. Thence I went in company with Elder Kimball through the city attending to business and visiting Elder John P. Greene and Parley P. Pratt who were sick.
Monday, September 9.—[The wayward labored with] Elder Heber C. Kimball and George A. Smith labored diligently with James Emmett that he might be persuaded to desist from his intended course of taking away a party of misguided saints into the wilderness.
Friday, September 13.—In company with Brother Heber C. Kimball and his wife, Vilate, I visited Mother Lucy Smith, Mother of the Prophet.
Same day.—Reports concerning the movement of the mob who are making preparations for what they call a ‘wolf hunt’ on the 26th and 27th of this month. * * * They design coming and attempting to drag some more authorities of the church out to Carthage to murder them.
Saturday, September 14.—In company with Elders Heber C. Kimball and George A. Smith I called on Sister Hyrum Smith.
Elder Amasa M. Lyman being very sick and reported to be dying. Brothers Kimball and George A. Smith and I retired to my upper room (prayer room) and prayed for him; he was healed from that very hour.
Evening, visited Brother Amasa M. Lyman (sick nigh unto death).
Monday, September 16.—Building of an arsenal in Nauvoo near the Temple for housing the arms of the people. I went to the ground secured for the Arsenal. We uncovered our heads and lifted our hands to heaven and I dedicated the ground by prayer to the God of the armies of Israel. I took the spade and broke the ground for the cellar.
Thursday, September 19.—At home, waiting upon my wife who is very sick. The saints called upon me for counsel and direction.
Friday, September 20.—Attending to ordinances in behalf of the saints and laying hands on the sick. The Lord is with me continually.
Sunday, September 22.—Governor’s agent arrived in Nauvoo. Elder John Taylor made affidavits against T. C. Sharp and Levi Williams, two of the murderers of Joseph Smith.
Monday, September 23.—This evening Sheriff Deming came into Nauvoo for a Mormon posse to take Sharp and Williams. The Twelve decided that it was imprudent to take Mormons for that purpose and advised him accordingly.
Tuesday, September 24.—I attended council at Winsor P. Lyons. Six of the brethren of the Twelve were present, and Elder Joseph Young [senior President of the Seventy]. We selected seventy presidents to preside over the seventies—over the ten quorums of the seventies then in contemplation, and fifty high priests to preside over different sections of the country.
Thursday, September 26.—The Quincy militia [state troops] were escorted about town by the Nauvoo band—(act of courtesy on the part of the Nauvoo band).
Held a council at the Temple office and appointed four watchmen to watch the Temple tonight. Some of Wight’s Company have come to town and they report that they have come to deface the capitals [placed upon the columns of the Temple] and burn the lumber around the Temple.
Friday, September 27.—This was the day set apart by the anti-Mormons for the great ‘wolf hunt’.
Governor’s troops came into Nauvoo to revert the purpose of it and the hunt failed. Several of the staff officers of the Nauvoo Legion appeared in uniform without arms, which the governor regarded as a hint to remind him of his disarming the Legion previous to the massacre of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
Sunday, September 29.—I attended meeting. * * * Afternoon, I went to the Seventies’ Hall and ordained the sixty-three members of the First Quorum of Seventy to be presidents over the quorums from the second to the tenth inclusive.
Monday, September 30.—I breakfasted at Elder Heber C. Kimball’s. We laid hands on the sick and visited Mother Lucy Smith.
The Twelve used their influence to prevent the brethren and sisters from attending the ball given by William Marks. The same was to come off on Wednesday evening in the dining room of the Mansion, which was still stained with the blood which flowed from Joseph and Hyrum as their bodies lay in said room preparatory to burial.
Tuesday, October 1, 1844.—Evening, attended a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve for prayer. A very interesting session.”
So throughout. These men, Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, were devoted to prayer and the power thereof, nor could aught shake them from that anchorage. It was par excellence the period of prayer in the church; and of works, too, for nothing could exceed their activity; faith and works were evenly balanced; none could be more thoroughly convinced than they that “faith without works is dead, being alone.” And so faith and works went hand in hand in this period, and held a great and disinherited and expatriated people together; and transported them across the plains and over the mountains to where they found refuge from their temporary ills, and sanctuary; and place and means to lengthen their cords and strengthen their stakes—a period for development.
In no other way can men of this and future generations so well learn “the faith of their fathers”, or their character, than by a study of this sector of the Church History recorded in the annals of volume VII.
1. D&C 21:1-2.
3. D&C 43:1-4.
5. D&C 35:18.
7. Matt. 17:19.
8. D&C 20:65; and elsewhere.
9. D&C 107:24.