26063

License for John Whitmer, 9 June 1830

A License

A document certifying an individual’s office in the church and authorizing him “to perform the duty of his calling.” The “Articles and Covenants” of the church implied that only elders could issue licenses; individuals ordained by a priest to an office in...

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Liberty Power & Authority1

The title of the license, “A License Liberty Power & Authority,” reflects other contemporary legal language, including that found in the New York laws for incorporating religious societies. (An Act to Provide for the Incorporation of Religious Societies [5 Apr. 1813], Laws of the State of New-York [1813], vol. 2, pp. 212–219; see also An Act Supplementary to the Act, Entitled “An Act to Provide for the Incorporation of Religious Societies,” Passed April 5th, 1813 [12 Apr. 1822], in Laws of the State of New-York [1822], chap. 187, p. 187.)  


Given to John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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signifying & proveing that he is an Apostle of Jesus Christ2

“Apostle of Jesus Christ” was later crossed out in pencil with sufficient pressure to make a small tear through the paper.  


an Elder

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
of this Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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established & regularly organized in these last days AD, 1830 on the 6th day of April All of which has been done by the will of God the Father according to his holy calling & the gift & power of the Holy Ghost agreeable to the revelations of Jesus Christ given to Joseph Smith jun the first Elder

Presiding officers of the church; also, leading elders of the church. A December 1832 revelation directed the first elders, or “first labourers,” to preach the gospel and instructed them to create a school to prepare for their ministry. A June 1834 revelation...

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of the Church Signifying that he has been baptized

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

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& received into the Church according to the Articles & Covenants of the Church3 & ordained

The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...

View Glossary
under the hand of Joseph Smith Jun. who is an Apostle of our Lord
Singned by(Joseph Smith Jr first Elder
(Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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second Elder5

The terms “first Elder” and “second Elder” were ecclesiastical titles. (See, for example, JS History, vol. A-1, 18.)  


Given to the Bearer in Confrence

A meeting where ecclesiastical officers and other church members could conduct church business. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church directed the elders to hold conferences to perform “Church business.” The first of these conferences was held on 9 June...

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held in Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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Seneca County NY June 9th 1830 [p. [1]]
A License

A document certifying an individual’s office in the church and authorizing him “to perform the duty of his calling.” The “Articles and Covenants” of the church implied that only elders could issue licenses; individuals ordained by a priest to an office in...

View Glossary
Liberty Power & Authority1

The title of the license, “A License Liberty Power & Authority,” reflects other contemporary legal language, including that found in the New York laws for incorporating religious societies. (An Act to Provide for the Incorporation of Religious Societies [5 Apr. 1813], Laws of the State of New-York [1813], vol. 2, pp. 212–219; see also An Act Supplementary to the Act, Entitled “An Act to Provide for the Incorporation of Religious Societies,” Passed April 5th, 1813 [12 Apr. 1822], in Laws of the State of New-York [1822], chap. 187, p. 187.)  


Given to John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

View Full Bio
signifying & proveing that he is  an Apostle of Jesus Christ2

“Apostle of Jesus Christ” was later crossed out in pencil with sufficient pressure to make a small tear through the paper.  


an Elder

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
of this Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
estab lished & regularly organized in these last days AD, 1830 on the 6th  day of April All of which has been done by the will of God the Father  according to his holy calling & the gift & power of the Holy Ghost  agreeable to the revelations of Jesus Christ given to Joseph Smith jun  the first Elder

Presiding officers of the church; also, leading elders of the church. A December 1832 revelation directed the first elders, or “first labourers,” to preach the gospel and instructed them to create a school to prepare for their ministry. A June 1834 revelation...

View Glossary
of the Church Signifying that he has been baptized

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

View Glossary
&  received into the Church according to the Articles & Covenants of the  Church3 & ordained

The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...

View Glossary
under the hand of Joseph Smith Jun. <who is an  Apostle of our Lord>
Singned by(Joseph Smith Jr first Elder
(Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
4

TEXT: A thick black ink smudge is found below Oliver Cowdery’s signature, running about the length of his name. Cowdery presumably made the smudge to ensure that no other signatures were added below his.  


second Elder5

The terms “first Elder” and “second Elder” were ecclesiastical titles. (See, for example, JS History, vol. A-1, 18.)  


6

TEXT: Remainder of document is inscribed in darker ink, possibly signifying it was written at a later date.  


Given to the Bearer in Confrence

A meeting where ecclesiastical officers and other church members could conduct church business. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church directed the elders to hold conferences to perform “Church business.” The first of these conferences was held on 9 June...

View Glossary
held in  Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

More Info
Seneca County NY June 9th 1830 [p. [1]]
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“A License Liberty Power & Authority,” License, Fayette Township

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

More Info
, Seneca Co., NY, for John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

View Full Bio
, 9 June 1830; handwriting of Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
; signatures of JS and Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

View Full Bio
; one page; Western Americana Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Transcription from digital color image obtained from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 2010. Includes redactions.
Single leaf measuring 6⅞–7¼ × 7¾ inches (17–18 × 20 cm) with irregular tear along the bottom of the document. Docket on verso in handwriting of John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

View Full Bio
: “John Whitmer | Lisence”. Under this is a mostly illegible pencil notation: “Sa◊◊◊◊ ◊◊◊◊ ◊◊ | ◊◊St ◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊”. Additional notation in pencil: “◊◊◊◊◊◊”. Beneath that is a “YALE” stamp in dark ink. And along the bottom verso, a docket in handwriting of John Whitmer, “Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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”, is inscribed in ink.
William E. Benjamin, a New York autograph and rare book collector and dealer,1

Dickinson, Dictionary of American Antiquarian Bookdealers, 13–14.  


likely obtained the license circa late 1899 from Whitmer family member George Schweich when Benjamin obtained the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon.2

Riley, Founder of Mormonism, 80n5, 100n59. The New York Times indicated the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon was “kept in a bank vault in this town.” On 17 January 1900, Schweich wrote to O. R. Beardsley telling him that the manuscript was with Benjamin in New York. (“The Book of Mormon,” New York Times, 21 Sept. 1899, 9; George Schweich, Richmond, MO, to O. R. Beardsley, 17 Jan. 1900, Miscellanea, Marie Eccles-Caine Archives of Intermountain Americana, Utah State University Special Collections, Logan.)  


William R. Coe obtained the document by the early 1950s at the latest, after which the Coe collection was obtained by the Beinecke Library at Yale University.3

See Withington, Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Collection of Western Americana, 32.  


Facts