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Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book

if we will strive in all the energy of our souls to do right.
I rejoice that God has given us means whereby we may get intelligence and instruction. It is our privilege to stand in an attitude to get testimony for ourselves— it is as much our privilege as that of the ancient saints. We must prove all things and hold fast that which is good. There are blessings lying before which are worth striving to obtain. It is our duty to humble ourselves— it is our most reasonable service to do it— must proceed to receive grace for grace, light and intelligence— if we have intelligence we have pow’r— knowledge is power: if we understand all things we shall not be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of God. I desire all evil things may be done away; but far as possible throw the vail of charity over failings— when we see one out of the way, we ought in humility to go to, and counsel, and strive to bring back those who have stray’d from the holy principles— we must do as we would wish to be done by, this is the way to win souls and bring them back. There are many things to be taken into consideration. Far be it from me to harbor iniquity and outbreaking sins. We may have different views of things, still there is some criterion which all may come to, and by bringing our minds and wills into subjection to the law of the Lord, may come to unity.
It is impossible while finding fault with one another to be united. Would to God I had pow’r to bridle my tongue— am too apt when I hear anything, to make remarks, but of late have decreed to set a double watch on my tongue and not offend one of the little ones. I wish nobody harm— wish it were in my pow’r to save all within the reach of mercy— would glory in it. Perhaps some would say from my past life that I had not been so faithful as I might have heen, or my voice would [p. [59]]
if we will strive in all the energy of our souls to do right.
I rejoice that God has given us means whereby we  may get intelligence and instruction. It is our privilege  to stand in an attitude to get testimony for ourselves—  it is as much our privilege as that of the ancients saints.  We must prove all things and hold fast that which  is good. There are blessings lying before which are worth  striving to obtain. It is our duty to humble ourselves— it  is our most reasonable service to do it— must proceed  to receive grace for grace, light and intelligence— if  we have intelligence we have pow’r— knowledge is  power: if we understand all things we shall not be  barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of God. I  desire all evil things may be done away; but far as  possible throw the vail of charity over failings— when  we see one out of the way, we ought in humility to go to,  and counsel, and strive to bring back those who have  stray’d from the holy principles— we must do as we  would wish to be done by, this is the way to win souls  and bring them back. There are many things to be  taken into consideration. Far be it from me to harbor  iniquity and outbreaking sins. We may have different  views of things, still there is some criterion which all  may come to, and by bringing our minds and wills into  subjection to the law of the Lord, may come to unity.
It is impossible while finding fault with one another  to be united. Would to God I had pow’r to bridle my  tongue—We are <am> too apt when I hear anything, to make  remarks, but of late have decreed to set a double watch  on my tongue and not offend one of the little ones. I wish  nobody harm— wish it were in my pow’r to save all  within the reach of mercy— would glory in it. Perhaps  some would say from my past life that I had not been  so faithful as I might have heen, or my voice would [p. [59]]
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On 17 March 1842, JS first formally organized Latter-day Saint women in a group with distinct responsibilities and authority. At JS’s invitation, twenty women assembled in the large room above his dry goods store in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Illinois, to be organized, as one woman recalled his description, “under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood” (Sarah M. Kimball, “Auto-biography,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Sept. 1883, 51). Priesthood quorums—units of men assembled according to priesthood office and usually headed by a president and two counselors—had been organized previously. The women assembled on 17 March elected JS’s wife Emma Hale Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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president, and she selected two counselors; a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles ordained or set apart the three-member presidency to their new callings or offices. These were the first ecclesiastical positions in the church for women.
The name the women selected for their institution, the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, paralleled that of contemporaneous women’s benevolent societies in the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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. Two or three weeks prior to the 17 March meeting, a group of Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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women had met to form a “ladies society” to sew shirts for temple workmen, an effort probably informed by the broader benevolent movement. When JS invited these women to be organized as part of the church structure, they abandoned their plans for an independent society with a constitution and bylaws. JS told them at the initial meeting, “The minutes of your meetings will be precedents for you to act upon—your Constitution and law” (Minutes, 17 Mar. 1842). This record of Relief Society “organization and proceedings” includes minutes for seventeen meetings in 1842, thirteen in 1843, and four in 1844. By the last recorded meeting in March 1844, a total of 1,331 women had enrolled as members, most of them joining the first year (Maureen C. Ward, “‘This Institution Is a Good One’: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, 17 March 1842 to 16 March 1844,” Mormon Historical Studies 3 [Fall 2002]: 87–203).
JS attended nine Relief Society meetings in 1842 and addressed six of them. These minutes document his instructions regarding women’s new responsibilities, authority, and forthcoming temple blessings—the only record of teachings JS directed specifically to women. The minutes detail donations for and visits with the poor, contributions for temple

JS revelation, dated Jan. 1841, commanded Saints to build temple and hotel (Nauvoo House). Cornerstone laid, 6 Apr. 1841. Saints volunteered labor, money, and other resources for temple construction. Construction directed by committee, which included Reynolds...

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construction, and women’s efforts at moral reform and civic activism. Discussions reported in this record refer explicitly or implicitly to tensions mounting in Nauvoo over JS’s political influence and threatened extradition to Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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, the defection of prominent church and civic leader John C. Bennett

3 Aug. 1804–5 Aug. 1867. Physician, minister, poultry breeder. Born at Fairhaven, Bristol Co., Massachusetts. Son of John Bennett and Abigail Cook. Moved to Marietta, Washington Co., Ohio, 1808; to Massachusetts, 1812; and back to Marietta, 1822. Married ...

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, and the tumult surrounding the introduction of plural marriage. The record of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo ends on 16 March 1844; a decade passed before Relief Society meetings resumed in the Salt Lake Valley.

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