The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes

The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes

By: Dinger, John S.

Price: $49.95  $44.96

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; Two incidents are particularly dramatic in this volume, thanks to the careful work of clerks who took the minutes, bringing to life some key moments in LDS history. One of the most memorable meetings of the city council occurred on June 10, 1844; the minutes capture the emotions as members debate whether to detroy the opposition newspaper, the Nauvoo Expositor. The publisher of the paper, Sylvester Emmons, had been a councilman until his June 8 expulsion for having “lifted his hand against the municipality of God Almighty.” As the hawkish councilmen became increasingly agitated, they began shouting slogans, asking whether the others had the neve to do what was right and crush the newspaper. The answer was a sustained, raucous cheer.

“Yes resounded from every quarter of the room,” the clerk, Willard Richards, wrote. “Are we offering … to take away the right[s] of anyone [by] this [action] [to]day?” one of the city councilmen, William Phelps, shouted. “No!!!” was the answer “from every quarter.” Should they also tear down the barn of newspaper editor Robert Foster? Yes! they said. By the time the meeting was over, the Nauvoo police, assisted by 100 soldiers of the Nauvoo Legion, had “tumbled the press and materials into the street and set fire to them, and demolished the machinery with a sledge-hammer.”

Another gripping event occurred on September 8, 1844, when the high council gathered outdoors to accommodate large crowds for the trial of Sidney Rigdon of the First Presidency. A behind-the-scenes power struggle became evident as Brigham Young stepped forward to take control of the meeting, culminating in a request for a vote from the audience. Young asked everyone to “place themselves so that [he] could see them, so he would “know who goes for Sidney.” There followed a flurry of denunciations of various Church members who were summarily excommunicated by acclimation rather than by trial in a meeting lasting six hours.


Perhaps it all made sense if you were there and knew what the rules were, but for most people today, the history of Nauvoo seems like a parade of horribles. For instance, Henry Cook was brought before the high council on the charge of having sold his wife for her weight in catfish. He and the buyer were happy, but she was not. Henry was found innocent “under the circumstances” because “the cat fish woman” was found to be a shrew.

In another case, Joseph Smith charged William Sagers with “using my name in a blasphemous manner,” saying Smith had given him permission to sleep with his wife’s sister. William apologized, and within a month Joseph actually did give William official permission to marry his sister-in-law. This enraged his wife, Lucinda, who complained to the high council. In rejecting her complaint, the council said it had already acquitted Sagers and would not take up the case again. The minutes reveal that the trial was held in a room that was “crowded to excess’ with curious onlookers, which is vastly different than the strict privacy observed in LDS trials today.

In September 1845, the council considered the case of Amasa Bonney, who was charged with public drunkenness—an especially serious offense for a Latter-day Saint. But unfazed, Bonney “appeared [before the council] in a high state of intoxication, with a bottle in his pocket; and was soon in a state of sleep in the council room, whereupon it was voted unanimously that he be cut off from the Church.” Some people fared better and were both excommunicated and reinstated all in the same meeting because they quickly confessed and repented.

; 6.25" x 9.25"; 616 pages; 1560852143

Title: The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes

Author Name: Dinger, John S.

Categories: Nauvoo, Priesthood,

Publisher: Salt Lake City, UT, Signature Books: 2011

Binding: Hardcover

Condition: New in New Dust Jacket

Seller ID: 53990