excerpt – Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes

John S. Dinger, editor[The following high council minutes for September 7-8, 1844, record the trial of Sidney Rigdon, first councilor to Joseph Smith in the LDS First Presidency]

September 7, 1844; Saturday. [p. 500][The] High Council [met] Sep[tember] 7 1844. E[lde]r S[amuel] Bent offered a motion that all withdraw except the Councilors after which E[lde]r Bent called upon E[lde]r [William] Huntington to state the business. E[lde]r W[illiam] Huntington said the business he had was that he felt to make an objection to bro[ther] [Leonard] Soby’s sitting as councillor in consequence of his saying that [Sidney] Rigdon was president.46

E[lde]r Soby said it was like a thunderstorm to him. He wondered why bro[ther] [William] Clayton47 was invited this morning and now why he should be appointed clerk. He would like to know what you mean. [“]Has there been any charges brought against me — Am I to be cut off contrary to the practice[?] I challenge this council to show where I have committed an immoral act. What have I done that I should be treated this way[?] I don’t want to commit myself [to secrecy] — [You say] I must be made a sacrifice [to] all in secret — [to a policy] concocted in secret[.] If you feel disposed to sacrifice me — if you feel disposed to reject me, do it.[“]

E[lde]r Bent said he was aware that bro[ther] Huntington was [p. 501]going to reject bro[ther] Soby and thats why he wished the council alone. It was out of regard to his feeling. The brethren thought it was best to be alone. E[lde]r Soby again replied that his objections was not against [what] the brethren put out[,] but against bro[ther] Clayton being called in to be clerk. [“]Has any brother come to labor with me[?] I have no objections to [an] investigation. All I want is [that] the same measure I have measured to others should be measured unto me[,] and [with] the measure you mete to me[,] [you] shall be measured[,] [the same] to you. I say it in the name of the Lord Jesus.[“]

Pres[ident] [Charles C.] Rich said that he considered this move to be a course designed to save brother Soby and not destroy him. Bro[ther] Huntington had objections and this is the place where it should be investigated while we are by ourselves. There has been no feelings but to save each other and we should not suffer prejudice to rise in our hearts. If there is any thing wrong it is our privilege to have it investigated. As to bro[ther] Clayton being here for clerk it was voted by the Council.

Bro[ther] Huntington said he had talked on the subject with bro[ther] Soby and he said that when he had talked in secret his language had been misconstrued. It is a time of great interest to the church[.] There are many [claimants] rising up and calling [us] up. It is [“]lo here & lo there[“] [in] no less than five branches — I have found that your house is a house of resort for Pres[ident] Rigdon — I dont think it is right. I think Pres[ident] Rigdons course is got up by the devil. and No man on earth[,] I believe[,] has any idea of killing Pres[ident] [William] Marks. Your house is a place of resort for those who are seeking to uproot the kingdom. I have good feeling towards you so far as you go right. The authority is in the twelve.48

E[lde]r Soby said there has always been good feelings. [“]A few days ago our private clerk was turned out of the room in a case of more importance than mine. I[t] must be brought up [that in this instance][,] the clerk must write down all I say without a moment warning. Is that christian like[?] Did bro[ther] Huntington advise me [p. 502][of what to expect?] — I thought so little of our discourse I have not thought of it. The remarks I then made ^in this upper room^ are as firm now as they was then.49

I said I believed E[lde]r Rigdon was the man, I still believe it — Why was I not cut off then[?] Bro[ther] Bent could ha[ve] as easily consulted me as to bring bro[ther] W[illia]m Clayton to write down all I say.50 It seems to be for my destruction — I dont want to injure this place, the twelve or any man — I have not had a bad heart — I prayed and got the highest degree of evidence I could — Bro[ther] Hyrum [Smith] told me I was not to blame. Bro[ther] Joseph [Smith] did not curse me as has been supposed. Why not give me another week to give me a chance to act my feelings out[?] — I have not expressed my feelings untill within a day or two.[“]

E[lde]r Bent said to bro[ther] Soby[:] [“]This is the place where we should express our feelings[“] — He asked bro[ther] Soby to tell his feelings about E[lde]r Rigdon — Soby said he did not want to be judged in haste[.] [“]Dont ask me questions here to condemn my­self.[“]­ E[lde]r Bent said he was willing that S[oby] should have time. The question he wanted to ask was, did he acknowledge E[lde]r Rigdon to preside or the Twelve[?]

E[lde]r G[eorge] W Harris moved that the charges be written out and presented for trial at a future meeting. This was objected to by several. S[oby] said he would not answer any questions to day. E[lde]r [Alpheus] Cutler said the charges can be made out in a few minutes. Soby has took a course for his own injury. Had the other clerk been here he would have been rejected. This charge is brought up by the authority of the Twelve, and if brother Soby is not with the Twelve he is no longer a counseller here. E[lde]r Rigdon has no authority to lead this church.

[p. 503]E[lde]r [Henry G.] Sherwood said brother Sobys objection to the clerk was of no use [because] at the time he refers to we had no need of a clerk. Another objection [was] at the time we had a private council — he says he had the same feelings and [asked] why did we not cut him off then — It would have been moonshine51 untill there was a proper organization. He referred to Sobys objections against the clerk. [“]The position you have taken[,] bro[ther] Soby[,] has gone against you — And I have objections to setting in Council with you untill this is settled — We set in council to judge of matters in the Church and I want all to be in the same faith. I think bro[ther] Soby is disqualified from being a counciller[“] —

E[lde]r Soby said he had no man to defend him. [“]I can answer his objections — but there is no one to defend me. Has there been no defence in other cases[?] This thing has been concocted by the Twelve — therefore my doom is fixed [and] my die is cast. Who could make a speech without there being some objections[?] You do not expect me to be infallible.[“] E[lde]r Marks proposed that he withdraw, but [Thomas] Grover objected untill he had answered certain questions.

E[lde]r Rich said this council[,] if it is any thing[,] it is the council of God to judge matters pertaining to the Kingdom of God. If there are things in the Council which are wrong we are not fit to do business. Bro[ther] Soby has been ordained by E[lde]r Rigdon and is going away and [they] are using an influence against this place[.] We object to holding on to any one who are taking this course. We want to take a course to save ourselves — and this is the reason why we want bro[ther] Soby to come out and answer the charges.

Soby said he felt sorry that he should cause this body to be so impure — He came to this place and would not enter into any traffick with men [in a way that would compromise his principles][,] that he might keep himself pure. [“]If I err it is in doctrine — I have not made bogus52 or committed adultery[,] but because I err in doctrine I must be given to the buffetings of Satan. I am in your hands — do with me as you please. The Quorum of the Twelve have made a decision against me (corrected)[.] The intimation is strong. Will you destroy [p. 504]me[?] I am an innocent man before God. Because I esteem that man and you do not[,] am I to be sacrificed[?] — I believe this to be the High Council of God and I am one of its members. I stand high in authority and must not have the chance of a common member. I hold this is the council of God but we may make a wrong decision.[“]

Bro[ther] Grover called upon the chair for order — & insisted that bro[ther] Soby shall answer questions. Bro[ther] [David] Fullmer said this is a meeting of inquiry — Bro[ther] Grover said the council has been insulted forty times and the chairman has taken no notice of it. [Soby] admitted that this was the High Council of God — And if he will not answer questions it is the option of the church to cut him off.

E[lde]r Cutler said, [“]This council is resolved not to sit in council to try our fellow men[,] [with] one of us following one and another following another. We have decreed never to turn [our] back upon the Twelve and when a man does it I will not fellowship with him. Nobody acused you of adultery or bogus making. There is no compulsions but you cant travail the road you have done and I [remain on the same] council with you. When we see you running astray we shall not come to you to know if we shall have a clerk.[“]

Soby said[:] [“]It seems this council has been a merciful council[,] but not so with me. What if I have gone astray[?] — Am I not to be heard[?] It will be your turn sometime. I never had any difficulty with those brethren, and that I should be treated so. Go [after] it[,] go [after] it[,] go [after] it with a rush, [but] I am innocent[.] [Even so][,] there is no use keeping me here.[“]

E[lde]r Harris renewed his motion which was again objected to[.] E[lde]r Harris still thought he ought to have till Monday or Tuesday. E[lde]r Grover said he should have any time only now. [“]E[lde]r Rigdon­ has been here for three or four weeks.53 I ha[ve] known that this council did not believe Sidneys revelations except he and bro[ther] Marks — He has been initiated into some high rank — deep in Rigdons instructions.[“]54

[p. 505]September 8, 1844; Sunday.55 [The] Congregation56 [was] brought to order by Brigham Young at ¼ past ten oclock[.] After singing & prayer by Elder Orson Hyde, Br[other] Young said[:]

I will now call upon the congregation [and] will attend to the subject which is now before us. Police.58 I will now lay before the congregation [the issue as] well [as I can]. Some are for Paul, some for Cephas, and there are a great many for Christ; & I will now Say [p,. 506]there is some for Bro[ther] Joseph & Hyrum [Smith] & the Book of Mormon & revelations & for the building of the temple & some for [James] Emmet59 & Some for Sidney Rigdon & there will be some for the Twelve — for I will say now that those who are for Bro[ther] Joseph & Hyrum, the book of Mormon & doctrine & covenants & building up of the temple are for the Twelve [and] this will be considered one party & those that are for Sidney Rigdon [—] I want them to be just as honest as what they are in their Secret Combinations60 & boldly Manifest the Same when they shall be called upon, also those who are for Lyman Wight[,] let them do likewise.

Now to our organization this morning according to the Book of Doctrine & covenants, with the high council [and] with Bishop [Newel K.] Whitney as their head[,] who is one of the oldest bishops in the church, the high council was organized in Kirkland [Ohio]61 & their are many of them here to day & they can sit in judgement against any of the first presidency.62 So we this Morning will sit in [p. 507]judgment on the case of Sidney Rigdon. Again[,] he is a Man that I esteem very much indeed for this eleven years past & I have watch[ed] over him with my gun upon my shoulder to guard him from the enemies & he is a man that I do love.

Sidney Rigdon has sent [word] up here to inform us that he is unwell & cannot attend this morning, but I can tell you that they [Rigdon’s followers] have had a council this morning already & I dare say he is just as much unwell as I was & that he had plenty of time to send up & let us know if he wished us to defer this case until [the] future & he has not [done so] & I think he has had plenty of time[,] for we gave him notice on Tuesday evening last63 [p. 508]& we also heard that [Rigdon and others] had a Meeting on the same evening & were ordaining some to be prophets[,] Seers & Revelators & some to [be] Kings & Priests & I asked Elder Orson Hyde if he would go down & see Elder Rigdon & see if it was really the case that such conduct was going on. Accordingly Orson Hyde & myself went down to see Bro[ther] Rigdon & I had to ask many a question before I could [get] any definite answer from him & asked him if it was the case if they had a Meeting & [were] ordaining men to such & such office & he asked Bro[ther] [Leonard] Soby if they had a Meeting last night & they looked at each other & after much ado they said they guessed they had, after which we asked Elder Rigdon if he would wish to have the twelve in council in his house that night.64

Orson Hyde [followed Brigham Young with the following remarks]:

I have not had the opportunity before until this morning [to consider this matter][,] for [I was not available] at the time of the death of the Prophet [Joseph Smith] & Patriarch [Hyrum Smith][,] [p. 509][at] which time I was [in the] state of Connecticut & went to Boston where I found Elder Young to get the twelve all together[.] Consequently I sent a letter to Elder Rigdon & John E. Page & requested them to come to Nauvoo & [to be] where slumbered the ashes of our Murdered brethren[,] & we came home as quick as we could & to our astonishment Bro[ther] Rigdon was here after receiving the letter from us, but we saw there was a great anxiety to hurry business & matters in this place.

Now if Bro[ther] Rigdon had got a revelation from his God that he was designated to be the President or guardian of this people[,] I think he would not have been in such a great hurry as to get the business over[,] for it was his desire & intention to get the matters all over & settled before the Twelve came[,] for if these men came here he was sure he would not accomplish his designs. Again there is a quorum here in this place that can test all the revelations before they can go forth to the public according to the order of our beloved Bro[ther] Joseph.65 Again when Elder Rigdon came to this place[,] did he go to this quorum or call this quorum together & lay before them his revelations that he stated he had rece[ive]d? No! He did no such thing! But he wanted to get all these important subject[s] and matter[s] hurried on & get it settled before the Twelve comes here.

Again we called the Twelve sent & requested Bro[ther] Rigdon to meet us in council but we could never get him to attend our councils. Consequently we went to see him [to ask] of him if he had got any Keys higher than the twelve in authority & he ans[wered] no! He said he had no jurisdiction over us — but[,] said [p. 510]he[,] there will be many churches built up, for there will be one here & another there. When Bro[ther] B[righam] Young said to him th[at] it will not be the church of Christ[,] for where there is a Kingdom divided against itself [it] cannot stand, & he claimed no jurisdiction over the twelve.

After which a testimony was read to the congregation but the man did not wish his name to be made know[n][,] but if it is necessary[,] [he said][,] you can call out my name & I will answer to it.66

[Then Orson Hyde continued][,] [saying]:] When we asked Elder Rigdon to give up his license he would not do it, because he said he did not get [it] from us. Now for example if I was abroad & saw an Elder in transgression & I requested his licences to be given up, [I would expect to receive it][.] But now[,] said E[lder] Rig[don][,]­ [“]Since­ you have done this & demanded my licence I will consider it my duty & [will] publish it in the public prints & there is a scourge &c which awaits this people for I will write the history of this people since they came to Nauvoo of all their iniquity & midnight abominations.[“]67 To which Elder Hyde stated [“]I have just got the secrets of your heart & it is all we wanted & I did not have to get at it before but we have all counted the cost and our lives are ready to be laid down for the cause of God, in which we are engaged.[“] But Elder Rigdon said [“]as much if you do so[,] I will turn traitor & publish all your iniquities[.][“]68

[p. 511][Elder Hyde continued][:]

For about the space of 2 or 3 months before the martyrdom of our prophet & Pat[riarch] of the church of God[,] when we were in council together[,] [at the time] when Bro[ther] Joseph carried us through all the ordinances of the house of God[,] now says he (Joseph) [“]Upon your shoulders [(]the Twelve[)] the burden of this church rests & you must turn round up your shoulders to the same[,] for the Lord is going to let me rest a little while.[“] Again when Joseph Smith was [a] speaker [in our meetings][,] when [he said this repeatedly][,] [why] did he not say Hyrum [?] [“The spirit knew that Hyrum would be taken with him, and hence he did not mention his name; Elder Rigdon’s name was not mentioned, although he was here all the time”][.]69

P[arley] P. Pratt —

I rise up to bear my testimony before the Bishop & the high council[.] I was well acquainted with Bro[ther] Sidney Rigdon before this church was organized & it is now near 15 or 16 years since & I was the man that first carried the tidings of this gospel & I was witness to his coming into this Kingdom[.]70 When I arrived i[n] this place I went to shake hands together with a few others & as he was shaken hands at the same time I said that is just what we wanted & I invited him to attend a council of the few of the twelve [p. 512]that was here in this city at the time to meet at Bro[ther] [John] Taylors as he was lying at the time with his wounds.71 I called at Elder Rigdon the next Morning at 8 oclock to get him down along with us to reason & council together with the few of the twelve that was here so that we could get each others feelings upon the subject which was before us. But he said he was engaged with some person being in the house at the time & we could not get Elder Rigdon to any of our councils to see what was best to be do[n]e for this people but there seemed to be a great anxiety with him to get matters settled.

[We] consequently called a meeting of the church on Tuesday, when I was determined if it were to be the case I would go up to the stand & close the meeting in the name of the Lord until the twelve would return home[.] This was previous to the Thursday when the Twelve was here. Consequently the meeting was pos[t]­poned until Thursday w[h]e[n] [the] business was hurried over & [I] asked Elder Rigdon [if he would not agree] that there was no use of [saying we would be] choosing a President or guardian [next week] & he said [if that was what I thought][,] I was mistake[n] for it was only to be a prayer Meeting & [to] p[o]ur out our souls in supplication to God & consequently I told [this to] the people [who] came enquiring of me [“]Was it to be a business meeting or a prayer meeting[?][“] to which I said that Elder Rigdon said it was to be a prayer meeting & afterwards I heard that he had contradicted himself three differ[en]t times & it was give[n] out on the Sunday following previous by President Marks that Elder Rigdon requested a full meeting of the church on Thursday[—] first for the people to choose their guardian[,] & if it had been so & the twelve [had not] got here, I for one would have come up to the stand & dismiss[ed] the people in the name of the Lord.

Consequent[ly] I was called upon by the rest of the twelve to go down to Elder Rigdon on Tuesday evening concerning ordaining men to such unheard offices in our organization[,] for he neither ordained them unto the quorums of the high Priests or the Seventies, Elders, Priests, Teachers or Deacons, & last Sunday when he was upon the stand he told us he had told all of his revelation[s] [p. 513]which he received at Pittsburgh but on Tuesday next we received a great deal more of it.

Now I want the council & the Bishop & the Clerks which is here to take notice of what I am going to say — for I charge him with false revelations & visions & in telling lies in the Name of the Lord! I know it is the case. Now said I to Elder Rigdon[,] that [regarding] the battle of which you prophecy that will take place in Pittsburgh & you at the top, now if the God has sent me in these last days I tell you that this battle will not take place at the place of which you state it will & I oppose it in all shapes & manners.

Elders Orson Hyde, Amasa Lyman & Myself were appointed to go & demand the licence of Elder Rigdon when he began to state what Elder Hyde stated. But there is sum more of the revelations & visions which [he] had in Pittsburgh. [He said he was] sitting laughing at the conduct of the twelve in cutting him off from the church. He said that we were fulfilling the very revelation which he had[,] for it was revealed unto him that the twelve would do what you have done this evening & [he has] been sitting laughing at it to see it fulfilled.

Now you will remember that last Sunday he had nothing but blessings in his head for us, but when Bro[ther] Hyde [s]aid that he had found out the bottom of his heart[,] then Rigdon began to say that he would not publish[,] for to [do so would be to] bring iniquity upon this people. We the twelve have not said go to the prairies of Dieuchiene72

or like [James] Emmet[t] gather together into secrets chambers & let the temple alone[.] [We have said to] pay [your tithing] & receive your endowments for yourselves & your dead according to the admonition of our beloved prophet Joseph Smith & get that temple finished as soon as possible. Now concerning the revelation of Sidney — it is a peice of lies — hatched up to destroy this people.

O[rson] Hyde said he had got up to relate a story[:] [“]Now in the days of Solomon two women went to bed together & each of them [p. 514]had a child & one of the women lay upon her child & it died[.] [“As soon as she discovered this, she took her own dead child and placed it by the side of the mother of the living child, and took the living child to herself. When the mother of the living child awoke in the morning, … she found it was not her child.”73] That [is] the story I wanted to tell.[“]

Amasa Lyman[:]

After the much as has been said already by Bro[ther]s Young, Hyde, & Pratt, & I can say no mor[e] but that it is all true & I may say I have seen most of it with my eyes & heard with my ears. Now we want this people to [be] at [one] in wisdom when they are called upon & state whether they will sustain the Twelve & uphold them or will they follow Sidney Rigdon & choose him for there president & let the Twelve go away some other way. Now what has Elder Rigdon done to build up the church of God within the last four or five years ago[,] while there is some of my brethren [here who] has travelled through all the states & in Europe & away to Palestine74 while he at the same time he was asleep & while he was awake he would sit in the corner smoking his pip[e] or drinking his liquor. Now this is the man that the god of heave[n] has give[n] this wonderful revelation & not one of the twelve has received it[,] nor President Marks who has been here all the time. Again there is a revelation from Appenoose75 stateing that Elder Rigdon was to take the charge of this people & John C. Ben[n]ett was to take his (Sidney Rigdon’s) place.

Again I have no doubt when the decision of this people is carried to him he will say that he was sitting laughing at the proceedings of the church for it was just fulfilling some more of the revelation which he had in Pittsburgh, that he knew before he came [p. 515]here that the people would reject him & that it would just filfil one important passage in the scripture v[i]z “that the stone which the builders rejected, would become the head of the cor[n]er,” to carry out the idea that he was some great one — & no person has ever heard of Sidney Rigdon receiving any revelation this four or five years, but now when he Sidney [is] in a manner cursing God saying that he had suffered too much that he was in Jail & also was poor in Missouri[.] & while at the same time Bro[ther] B[righam] Young did not say anything about being in prison[,] neither did Parley P. Pratt[,] [but] was in [prison a] good while long[e]r than what [Rigdon] was & yet this is the man [Rigdon] that has so much of the spirit & receive[s] revelation & [a] vision which had in it the destruction of the body of the church of Christ[,] & his preaching has been that all along [he was] for a division of this body[.]

He [Lyman] then related [from] 1832 about a revelation he (Sidney) had received & Joseph told him it was from the devil & that he would be give[n] into the hands of the devil to be buffeted [and] demanded his [two] licence[s][,] for said he (Joseph) the less power you have[,] the devil will have the less power over you. He gave up his licence[s] & Bishop Whitney has them to this day (to which Bishop Whitney said that was a fact,) and according to the testimony of his ownself (Sidney Rigdon) that the devil pulled him out of his bed three times by his heels & he was buffetted & tormented by his (Satanic Majesty) the devil for the space of three or four months. Now when we went down & demanded his licence he said he would publish all the history of this people & their iniquities but if it is [to be so][,] [no wonder “he was in a wonderful hurry to bet back to Pittsburgh][.]”76

W[illiam] W. Phelps —

It becomes necessary[,] as it is a matter of great consequence[,] [to become] acquainted with all the fact[s][.] Only the last evening we [have seen] the council of the twelve [assemble the relevant evidence]. When I heard that Josep Sidney was coming from Pittsburgh I thought that their was something wrong but [that was] before I [had] read a revelation which I hold now in my hands. I [p. 516]am tolerable acquainted with the revelation — The twelve are the High travelling council & they are the men who comes in next after the first Presidency no matter wither there was two or three presiding. Now w[h]ether will you follow one man or will you follow the twelve whom you the other day choose & to abide by their council[,] [involves this question] again, [which is] what did you all gather together to Zion [for][?] It was to build up a holy city & a temple.

[He] then read a revelation give[n] on the 19th [of] Nov[ember] 1833 concerning Elder Rigdon.77 [He continued][:]

If I had time[,] I would say some more concerning this Man. I would make a few remarks but enough has been said for I have went to see Sidney & he has told me two different stories.78 I say then that his revelations that has [been] give[n] upon this stand to this people [are for you to consider][.] I say [this to] anyone that has the spirit of God in them, but that they could judge for themselves[,] for the Lord God said that he would make them Ju[d]ges in the last days. I want to know if there is any person here to day that will [follow Sidney Rigdon and thus] barter & give away that which they have received & go down to perdition where there is weeping & wailing & gnashing of teeth where they shall be given up to the Judge [of perdition].

H[eber] C. Kimball.

I have set here & heard my brethren speak & [can say] that I have been in their councils & [know] what they have stated is correct[,] [p. 517][and] although I was not among the three of the committee that went to see Elder Rigdon[,] but I was with them both before & after & he has been in but few councils for this three years aback only when brother brother Phelps brought him to the council this spring. I know all the ordinances that he received on his head & I know what we I have received. You all remember that when there were some thousands gathered together when Joseph threw him off his shoulders & would not have him any more as his councillor but he said if you (the Church) will have him you may, but I never will, but Hyrum said [we should] have a little mercy upon him to which Bro[ther] Joseph replied [“]if you will have him you take him upon your own responsibility for I never will[“] & here is the man [(]pointing to Amasa Lyman[)] who was ordained & [was to be] put in the place of Sidney Rigdon as councillor to Joseph.79

[p. 518]B[other] Brigham Young —

Now if Bro[ther] Sidney Rigdon will publish our iniquities[,] we will publish his[.] [And] what is his [but] the revelations & visions in a secret chamber in Pittsburgh[?] But he will just be like John C. Ben[n]ett [and] others who have left this church, he will just publish li[e]s, for if he has the keys of conquest & [there is] still iniquity going on & [he does] not publish & purge & cast it away, [it would be a sin][.] I wonder who is here that has seen men make bogus money or any of my brethren [of] the twelve or in passing counterfeit money, & if I could believe what the prophet said[,] [that] the spirit[,] power & authority [that] was taken from Elder Rigdon was conferred upon Amasa Lyman[,] he is here & he is not making any great fuss, but he is at our side & is as one with us [with] heart in hand & I likewise requested Elder Rigdon to be as one with us.

[Brigham Young] then read some testimonies [against those who were associating with Rigdon] & gave these individuals into the hands of the devil to be buffetted — which was sanctioned by the congregation with a hearty Amen.80

[p. 519][Nauvoo Stake] President [William] Marks[:]

I feel disposed to speak in favor of Elder Rigdon & I will take up the opposite side & I have always been a friend to Elder Rigdon & I suppose there is many here that loves him too & it has been a long time since I have been [asked to defend someone as] the president of the [high] council & I feel for a few moments to take his side[.] I do [not] wish to do what is wrong. Nor I do not wish to uphold any lies or [be involved] in any thing that is wrong — but I will endeavor to do justice to him. There has been many [faults] & a great many crimes that has been alleged against that man [in the past] & as there are many of you here today [who] know that none of the charges were [ever] sustained against him & if there was no [additional] charges against him [than] that[,] that there was no use of bringing the[m] up again at this time but [we should only] bring up the charges preferred against him at the present time.81

[p. 520]I have heard Joseph [Smith] Say a short time before [Sidney] left to go to Pittsburgh that Sidney was all right & that he had nothing against [h]im & that he had blessed him & that he was going to Pittsburgh to build up a Kingdom unto himself. Again Sister Emma [Smith] at the same time had peculiar feelings against Sidney Rigdon but afterwards confessed that she had no hard feelings against him. The twelve know & the high council know that this quorum should [n]ever be laid down & thrown away. Again I have laid on hands myself along with Joseph Smith some where about Two years ago & that at the time he (Sidney) was ordained to be a prophet, seer translator & revelator & if he held that power & authority at that time he still holds the same for I have [no reason to suspect][,] nor do [I] know[,] that he is guilty of any crimes, & th[erefore] he should still remain as a member of this council.82

I have searched diligent & if I know I am honest before God[,] [then I know] that there should always be a first presidency over this people (This is My idea) to receive revelations through Joseph & from him to this people & to lead the Church. If I am right[,] I feel that this quorum (the first presidency) should continue[,] but if I a[m] wrong I wish to be corrected — The idea [about] the twelve[,] that I had had concerning them[,] was [that they were] to be the travelling high council to go to all the Nations of the earth & to build up the Kingdom [in] all the wor[l]d, & it is my opi[ni]on that if this is to be done I think it is enough for twelve men to do.

[p. 521]I have had a long acquaintance83with Bro[ther] Sidney & if the congregation feels to sever him from the body I am will[ing] to go by the Majority of the church[.] I feel to go with it, but perhaps through a long acquaintance my mind may be prejudiced against [this], but I may be wrong for I am unqualified to say that he is guilty of any crimes & if he is guilty I do not know, & I do not know of any other man this day that has the same power to receive revelations as Sidney Rigdon[,] as he has been ordained to be a prophet unto this people, & if he is cut off from the body this day I wish to see the man if there is any that has the same power as he (Elder Rigdon).84

Bro[ther] Young said that[:]

Sidney had done as much [as was needed to show his unworthiness] when he arrived from Missouri[;] he had done as much as would sever any man from the priesthood[,] for he said that Jesus Christ[,] that [t]he [man] Jesus[,] was a blamed fool & that he [Sidney] would not go to hell if all the people would go to hell along with [him] & that he would have the riches of the earth & when he came here he wanted to go back to Kirkland where the[re] was fine rods & plent[y] of peaches & apples & the reason why he was ordained to be a prophet & seer was in consequence of his continually whining [about his “sufferings”] & it was to save him if possible & keep here in Nauvoo & Bro[ther] Hyrum plead mightily on his (Sydney[’s]) behalf that Joseph would try him once more [“bless him — hold on to him, for I believe he will yet straighten out”], & when he went away to Pittsburg Joseph blessed him, but what was it for, it was to see if he would do good, but has he done any good[?] No! and they have prophecied that the temple will [not] be finished & that this church will go to the devil.85

[p. 522]Bro[ther] John Taylor[:]

I wish to say a few more words as my testimony & that there has been as much said against him that so as to criminate. I know that the twelve are his friends & they have solicited h[im] (Sydney) to unite & be with the twelve & to hold & build up the Kingdom of God, but has he, No! & has he fulfilled the Mission he got from Joseph to go to Pittsburgh & to take no other person with him[?] No! But he has held secret meetings & [has been] ordaining men to the offices of Prophets, Priests & Kings, illegal[ly] and without authority, & yet at the same time while he himself does not hold the office of a Prophet, Priest, or King,86

& can is it reasonable that a Priest can ordain an Elder & an Elder an High Preist, No! & he is in possession of the same spirit which hurled the devil & those who we[r]e with him from heave[n] down to perdition[.] This is an important subject[,] this[,] & there cannot be enough said about it. I will tell you whom I look upon as the murder[er] of Joseph & Hyrum. I do not hold the men who loaded & fired the guns & killed the prophet & patriarch as much [responsible] as those who were the instigators, never the less they are Murderers but I blame W[illia]m & Wilson Laws, the [Robert D. and Charles] Fosters & [Chauncey and Francis M.] Higbees as the Murderers [o]f Joseph & Hyrum Smith, having said so much upon this subject I feel satisfied.

O[rson] Hyde.

I would say to this people that Bro[ther] Marks said [he did not know] if there was any one ordained to the office of a Prophet[.] I would say to this people that when Joseph [was “in one of their councils,” he “told the Twelve that he had given them all the keys and ordinances which had been committed to him”].87

[p. 523]Bishop [Newell K.] Whitney.

I call the attention of the high council & as I could give a history of Bro[ther] Rigdon for about the last twenty years past[,] I de[em] it unnecessary & [will say] that I have been acquainted with him & I tell you I never put much confidence in his revelations[,] for I have heard Bro[ther] Joseph say unto rebuke him time & time again for speaking in the name of the Lord & [it] has been stated Joseph took him in council along with four others & told him to give up his licences for he would go into the hands of Satan & he [Satan] will handle you as one does another. I feel that Elder Rigdon came here with a bad spirit & as he calls it a Revelation & think[s] that the less we have to do with the source from when it came[,] the less we have to do with it[,] the better, & I think that he wants to scatter this people & [is planning on] taking them away from this place instead of a gathering & [is not planning on] building up the house of our God & he has preached lies here on the stand[,] for what he preached here the first day & [in] another [sermon] the second day [was false][,] & I feel to sustain the twelve in taking fellowship from him & I feel to do so [now] & if this meets the decision of this council let them signify the same by standing up.

[It was] moved by Elder Phelps that Sydney Rigdon be cut off from the Church & delivered over to the buffettings of Satan until he repents. It has now passed the high council unanimously. Then it was proposed to the congregation & seconded when it was carried unanimously as above. [It was] motioned by Elder Phelps that all those who hold up their hands to support [Sidney] Rigdon as Prophet & Revelator to this people be withdraw[n] from fellowship until they be tried before the high council.88

[It was] motioned by O[rson] Hyde & second by Elder Phelps that fellowship be withdraw[n] [from Samuel James] until he makes full [p. 524]satisfaction to this people.89 [It was] motioned & seconded that whereas Jared Carter90 had gon[e] from this place without council [“on some mission, contrary to council, under the new revelation”]91 [,] that he [be informed] we [are] withdrawing [fellowship] from him until he return & make satisfaction. [It was] motioned by Amasa Lyman & seconded that Samuel Bennet92 be cut off from the church [“for having received a false ordination”]. [It was] also motioned & sec[onde]d that Bro[ther] Soby be cut off from the church [“for the same cause”].93

[p. 525][It was] m[oved] & sec[onde]d by Brigham Young, [that] George Movey be cut off from the church. [It was] moved & sec[onde[d that Jos[eph] H. Newton be cut off fro[m] the church. [It was] moved & sec[onde]d that John A Forgeus94 be cut off.95 [It was] moved & seconded that we get an expression from Bro[ther] Marks if he is in approval of this days proceedings.96 [It was] moved & seconded that the Meeting be dismissed which was carried.97 [It was] moved & seconded that the Minutes of this day be published.


46. Soby thought that as a surviving member of the First Presidency, Rigdon held authority superior to that of the high council and that he could not be judged by it. This rankled some of the high councilmen. In the context of the tussle for leadership, with the Quorum of Twelve stepping forward to claim preeminence, the high council thought Soby’s position was at least undiplomatic.

47. William Clayton was born in Penwortham, England, in 1814. He was one of the first Mormon converts in England in 1837. The very next year, he was named to the mission presidency. He immigrated to America in 1840 and settled in Nauvoo to become a secretary to Joseph Smith, Nauvoo City treasurer, and temple recorder. He was one of the pioneer company that arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847; he also invented the wagon odometer to measure the daily mileage. He had ten wives. As a lyricist, he is best remembered for his words to “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” He died in Salt Lake City in 1879 (“Biographical Registers,” BYU Studies, byustudies.byu.edu).

48. This determination to follow the Twelve had come only within the past month when Brigham Young and Sidney Rigdon alternately spoke to a Church gathering, stating their respective claims to be the rightful successor to Joseph Smith (Richard S. Van Wagoner, “The Making of a Mormon Myth: The 1844 Transfiguration of Brigham Young,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 28 [Winter 1995]: 1-24).

49. Soby is probably referring to an altercation involving Orson Hyde, Brigham Young, Sidney Rigdon, and himself on September 3, 1844, when Young and Hyde questioned Rigdon and Soby about meetings in which they had ordained individuals “prophets, priests, and kings.” See Richard Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 354.

50. William Clayton misdates the meeting to September 6 and says nothing about the fact that he was brought in behind Soby’s back, saying only that Sobey “spouted hard” when questioned (George D. Smith, ed., An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1991], 148.)

51. The word “moonshine,” in the context used above, meant “a matter of no consequence or of indifference” (Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language [New York: S. Converse, 1828], s.v. “moonshine”).

52. That is, counterfeit money.

53. Rigdon had been sent to Pittsburgh by Joseph Smith to establish residency in another state since he was Smith’s running mate for the U.S. presidency, also to build up the Church there. He had not run away, as Brigham Young and others insinuated. Like the Twelve, who were also away at the time, Rigdon rushed back to Nauvoo when he heard of the assassinations (Van Wagoner, “Making of a Mormon Myth,” 3-4).

54. According to History of Church, 7:268, by the time the meeting had adjourned, “Leonard Soby was disfellowshipped by the high council for following Elder [Sidney] Rigdon.” A few days beforehand, Clayton had written regarding those in sympathy with Ridgon: “Every one of his followers as far as I can learn are ordained prophets and immediately receive the same spirit Elder Rigdon is of. In the evening the Twelve and a few others of us met at Elder Youngs and offered up prayers for our preservation and the preservation of the church, and that the Lord would bind up the dissenters that they may not have power to injure the honest in heart.” See also Smith, An Intimate Chronicle, 148.

55. See History of Church, 7:268-69 and transcription in D. Michael Quinn Papers, Special Collections, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

56. This session of the High Council was convened at the meeting ground in Nauvoo to allow spectators to observe the consideration of charges against Sidney Rigdon. Although it is nominally considered to be a high council meeting, the members of the Quorum of the Twelve present take over and conduct the meeting and offer the testimony against Rigdon. The members of the Twelve present on the stand are Orson Hyde, Heber C. Kimball, Amasa Lyman, Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, George A. Smith, John Taylor, and Brigham Young. They are accompanied by William Marks, stake president; Charles C. Rich, counselor; and high councilmen James Allred, Samuel Bent, Alpheus Cutler, David Fullmer, Thomas Grover, George W. Harris, Aaron Johnson, Henry G. Sherwood, and Lewis D. Wilson. The three members who were absent were replaced by Ezra T. Benson, Reynolds Cahoon, and Asahel Smith. The proceedings were published as “Trial of Elder Rigdon,” Times and Seasons, Sept. 15, Oct. 1, 15, 1844, pp. 685-87, 660-67, 685-87.

57. The singing was performed by a choir, which sang both before and after Hyde’s prayer.

58. Young said, “I will first make a request that the police will attend to the instructions given them by the Mayor [Orson Spencer] this morning, and that is, to see that there is perfect order on the outside of the congregation. We are not afraid of disturbance here, but there is generally some disposed to talk on the outside, which prevents those from hearing who are near them, and we wish all to hear what is said from the stand” (Times and Seasons, Sept. 15, 1844, 647).

59. James Emmett was born in Boone County, Kentucky, in February 1803. He and his wife were baptized in Illinois in 1831. Six years later he was briefly disfellowshipped, but by 1841 he was serving on the Iowa high council. By 1843 he was employed as a Nauvoo policeman and as one of Joseph Smith’s twelve body guards. After Joseph Smith’s murder in 1844, Emmett led a group of followers to Camp Vermillion in South Dakota. Most of his group eventually migrated down to Utah, but Emmett remained aloof. After settling in California in 1849, he died there in December 1853 (Donald Q. Cannon, Richard O. Cowan, and Arnold K. Garr, Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001).

60. This was a rhetorical slur, “secret combinations” being a Book of Mormon term for criminal alliances. Ironically, any secret meetings in Nauvoo were attended jointly by both Young and Rigdon. They were both members of the Masonic lodge, both members of the Council of Fifty that had crowned Joseph Smith “King, Priest, and Ruler over Israel on the Earth,” and both participants in temple ceremonies where individuals had been ordained “kings and priests, queens and priestesses.” For the sake of argument, if Rigdon were the rightful heir, he would not need Young’s permission any more than Young thought he needed Rigdon’s permission to engage in clandestine deliberations and rituals. See Michael W. Homer, “The Mormon Temple Endowment in Nauvoo, Illinois,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Fall 1994): 33-34; D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 124, 128, 137, 140, 229, 534.

61. The first stake high council was established in Kirtland, Ohio, on February 17, 1834. It was presided over by a stake presidency consisting of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. Its members were Jared Carter, John S. Carter, Joseph Coe, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, Orson Hyde, John Johnson, Luke Johnson, John Smith, Joseph Smith Sr., Samuel H. Smith, and Sylvester Smith. Its purpose was “settling important difficulties which might arise in the Church, which could not be settled by the Church or the Bishop’s council to the satisfaction of the parties” (History of Church, 2:28). In other words, it was a court of last resort.

62. The Doctrine and Covenants specifies that “inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood” (107:82). By citing this, Young seems to acknowledge that Rigdon has retained his position as a member of the First Presidency with authority over all of them. The scripture may remind readers that as originally conceived, there was to have been one high council for the entire Church, commonly referred to as the “standing high council” as opposed to the Quorum of Twelve, which was called the “traveling high council” and was subordinate to the First Presidency.

That hierarchical order will be turned on its head and forever changed after this meeting—something that was perhaps inevitable as a result of Church growth. Already there had been a proliferation of stakes and standing high councils. “The Twelve [Apostles],” Joseph Smith had said at about the time of their creation in 1835, “will have no right to go into Zion, or any of its stakes, and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof, where there is a standing high council” (History of Church, 2:220). For more on this, see Quinn, Mormon Hierarchy: Origins, 65; Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 166; Edwin Brown Firmage and Richard Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts: A Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 35; Gregory A. Prince, Power from on High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995), 48, 61-62; B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: LDS Church, 1911), 1:343; James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: LDS Church, 1899), 215.

63. William Clayton recorded: “Last evening the Twelve and some others met together with Elder Rigdon to investigate his course. He came out full against the Twelve and said he would not be controlled by them. They asked him for his license, and he [said if he had to give it up][,] he would … expose all the works of the secret chambers and all the iniquities of the church. The Twelve withdrew fellowship from him and James Emmett” (Smith, Intimate Chronicle, 147-48). George A. Smith recorded that Rigdon “was angry and said he would expose the councillors of the Church and publish all he knew” (Diary, September 3, 1844, LDS Church History Library and Archives).

64. Historian Andrew Ehat wrote that at the meeting in question, “Sidney said his authority was greater that than of the Twelve. He claimed to have [had] many visions and revelations.” By ordaining “prophets, priests, and kings in secret meetings,” this “implied [that] he had higher authority than any [other] man in the Church” (“Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1982, 214-15).

The Times and Seasons, Sept. 15, 1844, 649, explained that “eight of the Twelve together with bishop Whitney, went to elder Rigdon’s,” then met at Willard Richards’s house to decide how to proceed. “A committee of three was chosen, who went over and demanded [Rigdon’s] license, but he refused to give it up, at the same time saying, ‘I did not receive it from you, neither shall I give it up to you.’” They therefore published a notice in the newspaper that they would try him for his membership at the meeting ground on September 8. The Twelve were only to be “witnesses in this trial, and not judges.”

65. Hyde is referring to the Quorum of the Anointed, or Holy Order, not to the Quorum of the Twelve. In the published account of the trial, this is made clear:

There is a way by which all revelations purporting to be from God through any man can be tested. Brother Joseph gave us the plan[.] Says he, when all the quorums are assembled and organized in order, let the revelation be presented to the quorums[.] If it pass one[,] let it go to another, and if it pass that, to another, and so on until it has passed all the quorums; and if it pass the whole without running against a snag, you may know it is of God. But if it runs against a snag, then says he, it wants enquiring into: you must see to it. It is known to some who are present that there is a quorum organized where revelation can be tested. Brother Joseph said, let no revelation go to the people until it has been tested [t]here (Times and Seasons, Sept. 15, 1844, 649-50).

66. Presumably in the interest of expediting the process, Hyde read aloud from several prepared testimonies by individuals who were present in the crowd and “ready to testify to the same before the congregation if it [was] necessary.” The man who requested anonymity said that Rigdon told him his intent was to “divide the people” and take those who would follow him “and let the remainder follow the Twelve” (ibid., 650).

67. Rigdon is likely referring to polygamy. Joseph Smith had proposed to Nancy Rigdon, Sidney’s nineteen-year-old daughter, in April 1842, and Sidney thought this kind of libertinism was what put Joseph and Hyrum “into the power of their enemies and was the immediate cause of their death[s]” (George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy:… But We Called it Celestial Marriage” (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008), 147-54, 440-41).

68. In the published version, Hyde said Rigdon later admitted he had been “angry and did not mean” what he said. “But I would ask this congregation,” Hyde continued, “can a man say what is not in his heart? I say he cannot.” Hyde blamed Rigdon for the Mormon War in Missouri, saying no one had been as provocative than Rigdon when he spoke at Far West on July the Fourth, 1838: “He was the cause of our troubles in Missouri, and although Brother Joseph tried to restrain him, he would take his own course, and if he goes to exposing the secrets of this church, as he says, the world will throw him down and trample him under their feet” (Times and Seasons, Sept. 15, 1844, 650). In the speech referred to, Rigdon prophesied that Mormons would “exterminate” their Missouri neighbors (“It shall be between us and them a war of extermination, for we will follow them till the last drop of their blood is spilled or else they will have to exterminate us.”). This infuriated Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, who three months later ordered the Mormons to leave or face “extermination” (Heman C. Smith and Joseph Smith III, History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 4 vols. [Independence, MO: Herald House, 1951], 2:165).

69. The quoted sentence comes from the Times and Seasons, Sept. 15, 1844, 651.

70. Parley P. Pratt had been a member of Rigdon’s Reformed Baptist Congregation in Mentor, Ohio. When Pratt converted to Mormonism in 1830, he sought out Rigdon and introduced him to the Book of Mormon. Rigdon was baptized in November of that year.

71. John Taylor was with Joseph Smith at his death and was himself shot five times in the jail cell. He was laid up for months as his wounds healed (History of Church, 7:104-05). Sometimes the meetings were held in his house to facilitate his attendance.

72. Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, is about 200 miles northwest of Nauvoo and sixty miles south of where the Black River, which led to the Church’s lumber mills (“pineries”), meets the Mississippi River. At the time, Apostle Lyman Wight and Bishop George Miller were there to investigate whether to establish a Church colony in Wisconsin, but they would soon reject Young outright and take a faction of the Church to Texas (Flanders, Nauvoo, 289).

73. Hyde went on to say, drawing from 1 Kings 3:16-2, that the two mothers went to King Solomon, both claiming the child was theirs, and the king suggested cutting the baby in half to share it equally, at which the true mother forfeited her interest in the child rather than see it sacrificed. “Elder Rigdon says let the child be divided, … and I believe if the great God would speak from heaven this morning, he would say to the Twelve, you are the mother, (or rather the father) of the living child, and the church shall not be divided” (Times and Seasons, Sept. 14, 1844, 654).

74. Orson Hyde served a short mission to Palestine in 1840 to pray on the Mount of Olives (History of Church, 4:454-60).

75. Appanoose Township, like Nauvoo, was located in Hancock County.

76. Lyman added: “Brother Joseph has said at different times, that if elder Rigdon was to lead the church twelve months, he would lead them to the devil. When he attempted to lead the people in Kirtland, it was to lead them to the devil” (Times and Seasons, Oct. 1, 1844, 660).

77. The revelation, which is addressed to “Brother Sidney,” says Rigdon is “like unto an ass” and that in order to learn “his master’s will,” he needs “the stroke of the rod.” Although it predicts that Rigdon will eventually be lifted “up out of deep mire,” it does not leave an entirely positive impression (Dean C. Jessee, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen, The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals [Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2008], 1:19).

78. These “two stories” were that Rigdon “said he wanted to form an intimacy with the Twelve, but he has never taken one step to do it, but has in every instance endeavored to shun them. The devil has blinded his eyes, and he has endeavored to blind the minds of the people against those revelations that have been our guide since we came into this church” (Times and Seasons, Oct. 1, 1844, 663).

79. A significant portion of Kimball’s remarks were omitted from the minutes. They are important, both in their criticisms of Rigdon and his followers and in addressing Rigdon’s diminished relationship with Joseph Smith:

Elder Rigdon is a man I have always respected as a man, but I have not respected his course for more than five years past. — Brethren, I have known his course and was aware of it all the while. When I have gone abroad to preach and have returned again, I would not have the privilege of sleeping, before Brother Joseph would call us to council; and there is not a thing of importance which was ever done, but Brother Joseph counselled with us. Elder Rigdon after he came from Pittsburgh never attended council only when he could not avoid it.

He has no authority only what he receives from the church. If he was one with us, why was he not in our councils? He was not in the council pertaining to the High Priesthood until just before he started for Pittsburgh. Brother Phelps was the means of bringing him in, but he has not got the same authority as others; there are more than thirty men who have got [second anointings and have] higher authority than he has. Elder Rigdon has intimated that if we opposed him we should have a mob on us. — Brethren, if I have to be martyred for the truth, amen to it! If I have to go as Joseph and Hyrum did, it will be a short work.

Elder Rigdon has not been in good standing as a counsellor to Brother Joseph for some years. Brother Joseph shook him off at the conference a year ago, he said he would carry him no more; if the church wanted to carry him they might, but he [Joseph] should not. Joseph said, he [Rigdon] had no more authority in his office as counsellor. Elder Amasa Lyman was appointed in his stead, and all the power and authority and blessings which Elder Rigdon ever had, was put on the head of Brother Amasa. Brother Hyrum plead to have Elder Rigdon restored, he said try him a little longer, try him another year; Brother Joseph would not receive him again but shook him off.

The church voted to try him again, and it was the church that received him and not Brother Joseph. If Elder Rigdon was in good standing, why has he not been with Bro[ther] Joseph in all his councils. He has not acted as a councillor in Bro[ther] Joseph’s councils for five years, but the Twelve have, they have never forsaken him. Now when Bro[ther] Joseph is gone, he [Rigdon] comes and sets us aside. I have handled with my hands, and have heard with my ears, the things of eternal reality, but I never betrayed Bro[ther] Joseph.

Brethren, as it was in the days of Moses, so it is now. When Moses went into the Holy of Holies, he pulled off his shoes; Bro[ther] Joseph has passed behind the vail and he pulled off his shoes, and some one else puts them on, until he passes [beyond] the vail to Bro[ther] Joseph. President Young is our president, and our head, and he puts the shoes on first. If Brother Hyrum had remained here, he would have put them on — Hyrum is gone with Joseph and is still his counsellor. The Twelve have received the keys of the kingdom and as long as there is one of them left, he [Smith] will hold them in preference to any one else. I wish the people would hear and be wise, and those who have been upholding Brother Sidney, would turn about before they go into everlasting despair (ibid., 663-64).

80. Young’s published remarks were more colorful and mocking than the summary in the minutes, making William Marks’s defense of Rigdon all the more courageous:

Brother Sidney says, “if we go to opposing him he will tell all of our secrets!” but I would say, oh dont, Brother Sidney! dont tell our secrets, oh dont! But if he tells of our secrets, we will tell of his — tit for tat. He has had long visions in Pittsburgh revealing to him wonderful iniquity amongst the saints. Now, if he knows of so much iniquity, and has got such wonderful power, why dont he purge it out? He professes to have got “the keys of David.” Wonderful power, and revelations, and he will publish our iniquity! Oh dear, Brother Sidney, dont publish our iniquity! Now dont! John C. Bennett said in his exposure, he knew all of Brother Joseph’s secrets, and he would publish them. Joseph H. Jackson, says he has published all Joseph’s secrets, but nobody believes their tales, because they lie! And if Sidney Rigdon undertakes to publish all of our secrets, as he says, he will lie the first jump he takes. If Sidney Rigdon knew of all this iniquity why did he not publish it sooner?

If there is so much iniquity in this church, as you talk of, Elder Rigdon, and you have known of it so long, you are a black hearted wretch because you have not published it sooner. If there is not this iniquity you talk of, you are a blackhearted wretch, for endeavoring to bring a mob upon us and murder innocent men, women and children! Any man that says the Twelve are bogus makers, or adulterers, or wicked men, is a liar; and all who say such things shall have the fate of liars, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Who is there that has seen us do such things? No man (ibid., 664).

81. Rigdon had previously been accused of corresponding with “John C. Bennett, with Ex-Governor Carlin, and with the Missourians” and of demonstrating “a treacherous character” in “endeavoring to defraud the innocent” (Times and Seasons, Sept. 15, 1843, 329-30). The new accusations were that he had prophesied that the temple would never be built, that Nauvoo would be overthrown, and that God would reject the Saints. In addition, the Twelve were unhappy that he, as someone who had not yet received his second anointing, was administering the temple endowment (Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, 352-55).

82. Marks added: “As respects his not presenting his vision or revelation before the first quorum [Quorum of the Anointed], I can say, that Elder Rigdon did not know that this order was introduced. Brother Joseph told us that he, for the future whenever there was a revelation to be presented to the church[,] he should first present it to that quorum, and then if it passed the first quorum, it should be presented to the church. But Brother Rigdon did not know this, for he was only just brought into the quorum before he left to go to Pittsburg” (Times and Seasons, Oct. 1, 1844, 665). Rigdon received his endowment on May 11, 1844 (Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera, Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005], xxxix-xliii).

83. The minutes repeat the words “I have had,” deleted here.

84. Marks also commented that “men [have] been ordained prophets, priests, and kings, but I have never heard of any one being ordained a seer and revelator, … and if he is cut off, who will we have to obtain revelations? … If there is a man ordained to lead this people, I do not know it. I dont believe there are sufficient revelations given to lead this people, and I am fully of the belief that this people cannot build up the kingdom except it is done by revelation” (Times and Seasons, Oct. 1, 1844, 666).

85. The bracketed items in quote marks are from the published version. Brigham Young predicted that if the high council retained Rigdon, “you will soon have John C. Bennett here, with the Laws and Fosters and all the murderous clan.” Rigdon was “liable to be deceived, and has already been deceived” (ibid., 666-67).

86. Although Rigdon had been endowed, he had not received the so-called “fullness of the priesthood.” The second anointing “would have made Rigdon a prophet, priest, king, and god in the flesh.” The reluctance to advance Rigdon, according to historian Richard Van Wagoner, was “probably because Smith could not win him over to polygamy” (Sidney Rigdon, 353).

87. The bracketed words in quotation marks come from the published version of the trial. At this point, the congregation called for the matter to be settled, and “President Young without further ceremony submitted the case to Bishop Whitney and the High Council” (Times and Seasons, Oct. 15, 1844, 686).

88. The published version mentions that before the congregation voted, “President Young arose and requested the congregation to place themselves so that they could see all who voted. We want to know who goes for Sidney and who are for the Twelve.” After the vote, “Elder Young arose and,” for good measure, “delivered Sidney Rigdon over to the buffetings of Satan, in the name of the Lord, and all the people said, amen” (ibid.).

89. After the vote to excommunicate Rigdon, there followed a series of suggestions to summarily excommunicate other members by simple acclamation. Hyde wanted James Emmett and Zachariah Wilson to be removed from the rolls “until they repent,” but “at the request of Elder Young the motion was withdrawn.” It was not yet certain whether Emmett was a rival to Young, although notice from note 63 that William Clayton thought the Twelve had already disfranchised Emmett. In any case, things would not go so well for Samuel James, whom Hyde said had been asked by Young to preach a funeral sermon, and what he preached was “any thing but a funeral sermon.” When he was through with the eulogy, Hyde said, he added that if Brigham Young wanted something better, “he might preach it himself.” It was therefore “moved that Samuel James be disfellowshipped from the church. The vote was unanimous” (ibid., 686-87).

90. Jared Carter was born in Benson, Vermont, in June 1801. He was baptized in 1831 and moved to Ohio, where he was ordained a priest and demonstrated a healing gift. He served a mission to the eastern states. On his return, he was named to the Kirtland High Council. After moving to Missouri, he served on the Far West High Council, where he also participated in the assaults on neighbors by the Danites. He became disaffected in Nauvoo when Joseph Smith prevented him from taking a plural wife. In September 1846 Carter joined William Marks in escorting the Smith family north on a steamboat to Fulton to wait until it was safe enough to return to Nauvoo. Carter then traveled on to Chicago and died three years later in July 1849 in DeKalb, west of Chicago.

91. The quoted words in brackets come from the published version in the Times and Seasons, Oct. 15, 1844, 687. Originally, members were encouraged to act on personal revelation. “If ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to work,” the revelation stated (D&C 4:3). But by the Nauvoo period, it became impractical to allow people to act on individual impulse.

92. Samuel Bennett was born in England in 1810. After serving as the presiding elder in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1840, he became an alderman and associate justice of the municipal court in Nauvoo. He was among the conspirators who were arrested for destroying the Nauvoo Expositor. He left the Saints after Joseph Smith’s death and associated with groups led by James Strang and Sidney Rigdon.

93. The vote was unanimous” (Times and Seasons, Oct. 15, 1844, 687).

94. John A. Forgeus was born in 1809 in Pennsylvania. He was baptized in 1840 and immediately contributed $200 toward a third printing of the Book of Mormon. He served two missions and ran unsuccessfully for Nauvoo City Recorder. After his excommunication, he became president of Rigdon’s Quorum of the Twelve. In 1862 John and his wife joined the RLDS Church and settled in Little Sioux, Iowa. A local history claims he was irascible and one day got into a fistfight with a neighbor, both of whom “were cripples, the former using crutches, while the latter could scarcely get beyond a respectable walk.” Forgeus was also tarred and feathered and reportedly “loudly objected” to the way the tar was removed by well-meaning neighbors wielding knives and the “careless manner in which these instruments were used on certain parts of his person” (Joe H. Smith, History of Harrison County, Iowa [Des Moines: Iowa Printing, 1888], 300-01).

95. In both instances, the vote was unanimous (Times and Seasons, Oct. 15, 1844, 687).

96. Marks was in attendance. He “arose and said he was willing to be satisfied with the action of the church on the case” (ibid.).

97. The meeting ended at 4:00 p.m., with a prayer by William W. Phelps (ibid.).